Review: Moonlighter by Sarina Bowen

Posted October 22, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Moonlighter by Sarina BowenReviewer: Rowena
Moonlighter by Sarina Bowen
Series: The Company #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: October 22, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 370
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Dear readers, good news! Hockey player Eric Bayer is getting his own story. And it’s the start of a new series, too!

Only in my family could a professional hockey player earning seven million dollars a year be considered a slacker.I’m at the height of my athletic career. Yet my arrogant brother is still trying to recruit me into the family business: a global security agency so secretive that I don’t even know its name. Pass, thanks. I don’t need a summer job. But the jerk ambushes me with a damsel in distress. That damsel is Alex, the sassy, pushy girl I knew when we were kids. Now she’s a drop-dead gorgeous woman in deep trouble.So guess who’s on a flight to Hawaii?It’s going to be a long week in paradise. My job is keeping Alex safe, while her job seems is torturing me with her bikini collection. Or maybe we’re torturing each other. So the question becomes: who will crack first? And when our tropical fling is over, can I give her up?

Moonlighter jump starts a new series from Sarina Bowen. The series name is The Company and it’s a spin-off from her Brooklyn Bruisers series. Moonlighter is Brooklyn Bruiser Eric Bayer’s book and in it, we delve into his family business. His family business is reuniting him with an old friend that didn’t even remember him the last time that they came across each other. But she needs his help and his family has roped him into helping her. So he goes to Hawaii with her to pretend to be her boyfriend, to protect her from an abusive ex-boyfriend.

I was looking forward to this book ever since I found out we were getting it. Ever since reading Overnight Sensation, I wanted to know where Bayer disappeared to. He was there in the beginning and then he gets hurt, goes to stay at his Dad’s house and we never see him again so I remember thinking, where did he go? What is he doing? Well, all of my questions were answered with this book.

Sarina Bowen is really good at her job because I was entertained from beginning to end with this book. I enjoyed Eric’s backstory, I enjoyed Alex’s backstory, I enjoyed their shared history and the little bits of it that we learn and I enjoyed the romance between Bayer and Alex. Sure, there were a time or two when I wanted to smack some sense into both Erice and Alex but for the most part, this was another fabulous contemporary romance that I lost myself in on a lazy weekend.

Eric was exactly the hero that I knew he was going to be and that’s a good thing because I adored him in the Brooklyn Bruiser books that we saw him in. When he got hurt, I felt for him and when he disappeared, I missed him. He was a solid secondary character and an even more solid main character. I liked the differences between him and his brother Max and I really enjoyed seeing him come into his own with regards to his family life. He grew up feeling left out because he didn’t share the same aspirations to join his father’s security company as Max did. Seeing him really grow into his feelings for Alex made for such a delightful reading experience and I’m super glad that I read this one.

Alex was a pretty solid heroine herself. She was smart, strong, and filthy rich…but she didn’t have a perfect life. I liked seeing Alex really take charge of her situation. She didn’t let herself stay down, she was smart enough to surround herself with people who were invested in her safety and she was strong enough to really make a go of life as a single mother. Sure, she was rich as shit and could afford to surround herself with people who kept her safe but she had a good head on her shoulders and a caring heart that I really connected with. She put her foot in her mouth plenty of times but she wasn’t mean and she always went out of her way to make things right. I admired that.

The set up for this series wasn’t really there for me. Like, I know that Max and Scout will probably get a book but I didn’t really get a feel for them as individuals or even just get a feel for what the following books would be like but overall, I still really enjoyed the romance between Eric and Alex and I’ll continue to read whatever Sarina Bowen puts out because she’s Sarina Bowen and I always read Sarina Bowen books. This book was a delight and if you’re a fan of the Brooklyn Bruisers series, or hell, any book by Sarina Bowen, I have every faith that you’ll enjoy this one too so give it a go. You know you want to. 😉

Final Grade

4.25 out of 5

The Company

four-stars


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Review: Aris by Sarah J. Stone

Posted October 21, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Caution: This book may include potentially sensitive content, including but not limited to: Sexual Violence or Abuse.
Review: Aris by Sarah J. StoneReviewer: Holly
Aris by Sarah J. Stone
Narrator: Connor Brown
Series: Stratham Dragons #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: January 19, 2017
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Escape
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Length: 3 hours and 17 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 New to Me Challenge, New to Me Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
one-star
Series Rating: one-star

Aris and his brothers have been sick their entire lives. Every day Aris comes closer to finding a cure. One day his visions show him that the key is a human woman in need of help. He must find her.

Sophie has spent the last seven years of her life locked away and abused by a man who promised to always take care of her. She’s nearly given up hope on ever getting free until she makes contact with the man of her dreams. Is he actually real or is she going crazy?

Can Aris save her from herself and help her heal before it’s too late for both of them?

Content Warning: Explicit love scenes, and piles of sexy shifters. Intended for mature audiences only.

I like how the content warning in the blurb doesn’t mention the massive amounts of on page abuse and sexual assault the female MC suffers.

Content Warning: Explicit love scenes, and piles of sexy shifters. Intended for mature audiences only.

TRIGGER WARNING! Sexual assault and abuse galore.

I found this while browsing the Audible Escape package and thought I’d give it a try. The narration, blurb and cover made me think this would be a lighter PNR, but that wasn’t the case. The book opens with the heroine trapped in a basement being sore abused by her step-father. She mentally connects with our hero, Aris, who turns out to be a dragon shifter suffering from some sort of illness.

He and his brothers-of-the-heart – five boys who banded together – are all suffering from the same thing, yet none of them know why or how to fix it. Aris connects with his biological mother in a dream and learns he’s a half-breed dragon – half Black dragon and half Golden. According to dream mom, until he accepts both halves of himself and finds the missing third part of his soul (the heroine, natch), he – and all his “brothers” – will die.

Sophie has been a captive for 7 years, since she was 14 (so it says in the beginning of the book) or 15 (end of the book). She’s been plotting her escape and trying to keep hope, but she’s almost at the end of her rope. She’s been dreaming of Aris (though she didn’t know his name) for years, but didn’t think he was real until they connect in a dream and he sees her as well. Now she’s determined to hang on until he can rescue her.

I liked the premise of this story, but honestly it was a hot mess. Inconsistencies galore. At first she was raped, then not. She was in the basement for 5 years, then 7. She was severely traumatized by her abuse (understandably so!), then she was strong so it didn’t matter. Things were glossed over or hinted at. Honestly, I could have let a lot of that go, but about halfway through we suddenly switched to the step-dad’s POV and that was just too much. I ended up finishing it, because I was curious to see what would happen with Aris’ illness, but I’m sorry I wasted my time.

At first the narrator bothered me, because he’d occasionally stumble or pause in strange ways/places, but after reading some of the reviews on GR, I’m convinced it was the poor writing in the book. Needless to say, I won’t be continuing with the series.

Rating: 1.0 out of 5

Stratham Dragons

one-star


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Review: The Vine Witch by Luanne G. Smith

Posted October 21, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: The Vine Witch by Luanne G. SmithReviewer: Holly
The Vine Witch by Luanne G. Smith
Narrator: Susannah Jones
Series: Vine Witch #1
Publisher: 47North
Publication Date: October 1, 2019
Format: eBook, Audiobook
Source: Kindle Unlimited, Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 263
Length: 8 hours and 42 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: GoodReads Challenge, Historical Challenge, Holly's 2019 Historical Challenge, Holly's 2019 New to Me Challenge, New to Me Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

A young witch emerges from a curse to find her world upended in this gripping fantasy of betrayal, vengeance, and self-discovery set in turn-of-the-century France.

For centuries, the vineyards at Château Renard have depended on the talent of their vine witches, whose spells help create the world-renowned wine of the Chanceaux Valley. Then the skill of divining harvests fell into ruin when sorcière Elena Boureanu was blindsided by a curse. Now, after breaking the spell that confined her to the shallows of a marshland and weakened her magic, Elena is struggling to return to her former life. And the vineyard she was destined to inherit is now in the possession of a handsome stranger.

Vigneron Jean-Paul Martel naively favors science over superstition, and he certainly doesn’t endorse the locals’ belief in witches. But Elena knows a hex when she sees one, and the vineyard is covered in them. To stay on and help the vines recover, she’ll have to hide her true identity, along with her plans for revenge against whoever stole seven winters of her life. And she won’t rest until she can defy the evil powers that are still a threat to herself, Jean-Paul, and the ancient vine-witch legacy in the rolling hills of the Chanceaux Valley.

The Vine Witch by Luanne G. Smith is a debut historical fantasy novel. This was an Amazon First pick. The audio add-on was only $1.99, so I snagged that with it and ended up listening to the whole book. The narrator did a wonderful job with the story.

Set somewhere near the turn of the century in France (automobiles are just becoming popular, though the year is never mentioned), The Vine Witch follows Elena Boureanu as she beats a deadly curse and returns to family winery Château Renard, the only home she’s ever known…only to discover it’s been sold and life as she knew it is changed forever.

For seven years, Elena has been stuck as a toad, forced to eat poison to fend off a deadly curse. When she finally breaks free, she returns home to Château Renard with vengeance in her heart. She’s convinced her former fiance is the one who cursed her when she broke off their engagement, and she plans to make him pay. When she returns home she finds all of the land has been hexed, not just her. It’ll take all her skill as a Vine Witch to untangle the mess of hexes…something made more difficult by the new owner’s refusal to believe in witches.

Jean Paul left a prestigious law firm in the city to become a winemaker when he saw the renowned Château Renard was available for sale. He wants nothing more than to produce amazing wine…using science, not the superstitious “magic” the locals claim is responsible for the good – and bad – in the land. When Elena returns, he’s suspicious of her, but if she can teach him the secrets of her famed grandfather, she’ll be worth her weight in gold. As he and Elena become close, he realizes there’s more to her than meets the eye..and everything he thought he believed may be a lie….

This was a lovely fairytale-esque novel, filled with mystery, intrigue and magic. I truly enjoyed both Elena and Jean Paul, as well as the world Smith created. The melancholy of the vines, the hexed land and the shadowy figures responsible truly came to life. I figured out early on who the villains were, and how Elena came to be cursed, but that didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the novel.

This was the fantasy Gothic novel I’ve been craving. The Vine Witch shines bright.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5

Vine Witch

The Glamourist (Coming 2020)

four-stars


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Sunday Spotlight: Moonlighter by Sarina Bowen

Posted October 20, 2019 by Rowena in Features, Giveaways | 5 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

Sarina Bowen is one of my favorite authors, is a stickler on my auto-buy list and she’s got a new book coming out on October 22nd. Her new book is part of a new series that is a spin-off from her Brooklyn Bruisers series and it introduces some new characters while letting us keep in touch with some old friends from her Brooklyn Bruisers world. We’re getting Bayer’s book, you guys!

Sunday Spotlight: Moonlighter by Sarina BowenMoonlighter by Sarina Bowen
Series: The Company #1
Also in this series: Moonlighter
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: October 22, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 370
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: four-stars

Only in my family could a professional hockey player earning seven million dollars a year be considered a slacker.

I’m at the height of my athletic career. Yet my arrogant brother is always trying to recruit me into the family business: a global security company so secretive that I don’t even know its name.

Pass, thanks. I don’t need a summer job.

But the jerk ambushes me with a damsel in distress. That damsel is Alex, the competitive, sassy girl I knew when we were kids. Now she’s a drop-dead gorgeous woman in deep trouble.

So guess who’s on a flight to Hawaii?

It’s going to be a long week in paradise. My job is keeping Alex safe, while her job is torturing me with her tiny bikinis. Or maybe we’re torturing each other. It’s all snark and flirting until the threat against Alex gets serious. And this jock must become her major league protector.

Moonlighter is a stand-alone novel. No cliffhangers, no prior experience necessary. Contains: hackers, hockey players, and a hotel room with only one bed.

If you read Overnight Sensation, Bayer gets hurt and then disappears from that book but in Moonlighter, we find out where he disappeared to and what he got into…and this book was such a delight, which is why we’re spotlighting this book today. It’s a good one and we’re hoping that this excerpt will whet your appetite for another fabulous book from Sarina Bowen. Check it out!

Excerpt

I pass out in the car, too. I don’t wake up until it stops. And then I discover I’m sleeping with my face propped against Eric’s muscular shoulder.

“Oh god, I’m so sorry.” I sit up straight, as if that might help him forget. There’s a little spot of drool near the collar of his polo.

Shoot me.

“It’s fine,” he grumbles. “Just another part of the job description nobody ever gave me. Bodyguard, and pillow to the rich and famous.”

He slides out of the car, and I follow, finding myself blinking up at the entrance to one of Hawaii’s chicest spa resorts. I’m too tired to appreciate the asymmetrical stone facade and the carefully lit water features. But it will be promising tomorrow in the daylight.

Eric already has our two suitcases in hand and it’s all I can do to grab my own carry-on bag and follow him inside the lobby. Luckily, there’s no wait at the check in desk, and all I have to do is hand over my credit card and remain vertical while the desk agent makes two key cards and small talk with Eric.

“There are three pools on the property. The dolphin experience is located down in the cove.”

“Great. Can you tell me where to find the gym?” he asks.

“On the lower level, sir. We have personal trainers, as well. Touch two on your in-room phone to schedule an appointment or a spa treatment.”

“Thank you.”

“Can I show you to your suite?” the woman asks.

“We’d rather just go on up ourselves,” Eric says, holding out a hand for the key cards.

“Certainly. Your suitcases are already on their way.”

“Thank you,” I whisper as soon as the elevator doors close on us. “I can’t handle people right now.”

“I noticed that,” he chuckles.

“Usually I’m a great traveler. Another symptom of pregnancy is extreme exhaustion. Apparently growing an entire human takes a lot of extra energy.”

“Ah,” he says. “Yeah, I’ve never tried that myself, so…” He runs a hand through his hair.

I don’t know why I feel the need to explain myself. It’s the middle of the night back at home. I’m asleep on my feet right now, but anyone would be

Luckily, moments later Eric opens the door to a plush suite. I drag myself inside. And because this is a very nice hotel, our luggage is already waiting for us. I unzip my suitcase and pull out a nightgown along with my toiletry bag. Then I disappear into the marble clad bathroom ahead of Eric. But somebody has to go first, right?

After I’ve changed and brushed my teeth, I take a look in the mirror. My eyes are red, and my hair is messed. I look like a disaster. And when I turn my head, I catch sight of a red indentation on my jaw. Good lord. There’s a Lacoste alligator molded into my face from sleeping on Eric.

There is really no end to today’s mortifications.

After brushing my hair forward to hide the mark, I put on a brave face and leave the bathroom. Eric is in the bedroom, hanging his suit jacket in the closet. My sleep addled brain spends a few seconds remembering how fabulous he looks in a tux. In Florida, when I was trying to figure out why he kept glancing at me, I allowed myself a few glances of my own.

My old friend is seriously hot. As fake boyfriends go, he’s an A-lister.

“You should get some sleep,” he says with a glance over his shoulder. I’m obviously not the only one who thinks I look like a zombie right now.

“So should you,” I point out. Then I turn around and count the beds.

There’s only one.

Oh, dear. I should have seen this wrinkle coming.

The Company

Giveaway Alert

We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the widget below to enter for one of this month’s features.

Sunday Spotlight: October 2019

Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!

About Sarina Bowen

Sarina Bowen is the RITA® Award winning author of over two dozen contemporary and LGTB romance novels. She most recently hit the USA Today bestseller's list in February, with Brooklynaire. Formerly a derivatives trader on Wall Street, Sarina holds a BA in economics from Yale University.

Sarina Bowen is a New Englander whose Vermont ancestors cut timber and farmed the north country since the 1760s. Sarina is grateful for the invention of indoor plumbing and wi-fi during the intervening 250 years. On a few wooded acres, she lives with her husband, two boys, and an ungodly amount of ski and hockey gear.

Sarina's books are published in a dozen languages on four continents. In 2016, The Romance Writers of America honored HIM by Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy with a RITA award for Best Contemporary Romance, Mid-Length.


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