Review: Lucky in Love by Kasie West

Posted July 27, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Lucky in Love by Kasie WestReviewer: Rowena
Lucky in Love by Kasie West
Published by Scholastic
Publication Date: July 25th 2017
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 333
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three-stars

In this new contemporary from YA star Kasie West, a girl who wins the lottery learns that money can cause more problems than it solves, especially when love comes into the picture.

Maddie doesn't believe in luck. She's all about hard work and planning ahead. But one night, on a whim, she buys a lottery ticket. And then, to her astonishment --

She wins!

In a flash, Maddie's life is unrecognizable. No more stressing about college scholarships. Suddenly, she's talking about renting a yacht. And being in the spotlight at school is fun... until rumors start flying, and random people ask her for loans. Now, Maddie isn't sure who she can trust.

Except for Seth Nguyen, her funny, charming coworker at the local zoo. Seth doesn't seem aware of Maddie's big news. And, for some reason, she doesn't want to tell him. But what will happen if he learns her secret?

With tons of humor and heart, Kasie West delivers a million-dollar tale of winning, losing, and falling in love.

Kasie West, for me, is the writer that writes cute contemporary YA romances. Her books are cute and funny and the romances are sweet. The perfect beach read, for me at least.

Lucky in Love follows young Maddie as she watches her old life go up in flames when she wins the lottery and becomes rich overnight. Her bickering parents and no plans brother have been stressing her out and she’s been limiting her options for college to those colleges close to home so that she can take care of her family from school. Money is tight and she needs to work hard and get scholarships so she’s been pretty busy with school work, with working at the zoo and keeping her family happy and functioning and quite frankly, that’s a lot of stress to put on someone as young as Maddie.

The story as a whole gave me a lot of anxiety. The amount of money that her family blew through and then Maddie making mistake after mistake before she finally starts to get things right took a lot out of me which is surprising considering Kasie West books have normally been such easy, breezy reads for me in the past. I had to keep putting this book down because the mother in me could not stand all of the meaningless spending that Maddie’s family did and then the whole secret keeping from Seth didn’t win me over (I hate secrets) not to mention the burden Maddie carried with her where her family was concerned. Her father wasn’t working and her mother was carrying their family financially and being completely resentful over that and their careless attitude toward fixing themselves, even after they’re not struggling for money anymore, it all bothered me.

Maddie’s character was a little on the hard side to like because I didn’t like a lot of the choices she makes but all is well in the end. My favorite part of this entire story was the love interest, Seth Nguyen. I thought he was adorable and understanding. I loved that though he had his own struggles, he didn’t try to make those struggles, Maddie’s struggles. I love that he was just there for her, to lend a listening ear, to help her through whatever she needed his help with and he did so much for her while being grounded with no phone. Ha.

West does a great job of bringing the story together. There’s a lot of wrong before the characters start to get it right and even though I got a lot of anxiety, I still enjoyed the book overall. It’s not my favorite book by Kasie West but it was still a pretty solid read. I think younger people will enjoy this book a lot more than I did but still, it was good.

Grade: 3.5 out of 5

three-stars


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Retro Review: True Love and Other Disasters by Rachel Gibson.

Posted July 26, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 20 Comments

Retro Review: True Love and Other Disasters by Rachel Gibson.Reviewer: Rowena
True Love and Other Disasters (Chinooks Hockey Team #4) by Rachel Gibson
Series: Chinooks Hockey Team #4
Also in this series: See Jane Score
Published by Avon
Publication Date: April 28th 2009
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 345
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four-half-stars

Disaster Number One: MEN

Hard knocks and hunger taught Faith Duffy not to believe in love. Still, when she married her very wealthy—and very old—husband, she became the perfect wife. And then he went to that big bank in the sky, leaving Faith with lonely nights, a pile of money, and a total mess of a pro hockey team. Heck, Faith doesn't even watch hockey!

Disaster Number Two: PASSION

But most of America and half of Canada is watching Ty Savage. His lethal sex appeal and deadly right hook make him the favorite of fans. For most of Ty's life, he's dreamed of winning the Stanley Cup. The last thing he needs is a bimbo messing up his plans.

Disaster Number Three: LOVE

Faith loathes Ty on sight, but she can't stop thinking about him all day ... and night. Then a moment of temptation ends with Faith in Ty's bed, and she begins to see there's more to him than sex appeal. Ty discovers there's far more to Faith than beauty and billions. But a relationship with Faith is impossible, and falling in love—that would be a disaster.

*****As part of our 10 year anniversary celebration, we’ll be re-posting old reviews that make us cringe, laugh or sigh all over again.

Holly: Oh man, did we all love Rachel Gibson back in the day. I have several of her more recent releases in my TBR pile, but for some reason I haven’t read them. I think I’m afraid the magic of these earlier works will be missing.

This review was originally published April 29, 2009

One of the main reasons I read Rachel Gibson is she writes engaging stories with characters that fall right off the pages and keeps me entertained from the first page all the way to the last page. I don’t have to plow my way through that first part of the book that can sometimes bore the ever living snot out of me. Her books take off right from the beginning and keeps me plugged in.

This book was no exception. I was on board with this story right from the first chapter. In the first chapter, we meet the hero and the heroine at the heroine’s husband’s funeral or wake. Right off the bat, this book reminded me of Susan Elizabeth Phillip’s It Had To Be You and I was eagerly waiting to see how Rachel Gibson would tell her version of that storyline.

For me, she knocked it out of the park.

There is no doubt that Rachel Gibson is a gifted writer. She writes these quirky little romances that makes you smile and entertains the socks right off of you and she did just that in this book. This story is about Faith Duffy inheriting her late husband’s hockey team, the Seattle Chinooks. You’ll remember The Chinooks from See Jane Score, as that was the team that Luc Martineau and his sexy “I want to lick his tatoo” self played for. In this book, Lucky is retired and there’s a new hunky captain on the prowl.

His name is Ty Savage.

Man, I could feast for days off of that man. I really like hockey men and I really love Rachel Gibson’s hockey men. I didn’t think I could love an RG hockey man as much as I loved Luc Martineau but I do now.

I love Ty, just wanted to tell you that..in case you missed it. =P It’s funny how I don’t watch hockey in real life but after reading this book, it’s made me curious enough to check a hockey game out.

Faith was a great heroine. She was one of those heroines that is easy to relate to even if you don’t have anything in common with her. Faith was such a likeable character that I found it very easy to sympathize with her. She was so likeable that I wasn’t mad one bit at her after two weeks passes after her husband death and she starts wanting to sleep with another man. I had very big issues with this in Robyn Carr’s book, Second Chance Pass but because Faith’s relationship with her husband was so different from Vanessa’s relationship with Matt, it didn’t bother me one bit when Faith started sleeping with Ty.

I thought they were perfect together and I loved watching these two fall in love with each other. I loved seeing Ty’s insecurities and I loved watching him bulldoze his way into Faith’s heart. It was a delight to read about and I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is looking to enjoy another RG hockey book, for me, this is definitely a keeper.

4.5 out of 5

This book is available from Avon. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

four-half-stars


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Guest Review: Spellbinder by Thea Harrison

Posted July 26, 2017 by Jen in Reviews | 7 Comments

Guest Review: Spellbinder by Thea HarrisonReviewer: Jen
Spellbinder by Thea Harrison
Series: Moonshadow Series
Published by Thea Harrison
Publication Date: July 18th 2017
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 428
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four-half-stars

From author Thea Harrison comes the latest story in the New York Times bestselling Moonshadow trilogy….

Kidnapped while on tour, musician Sidonie Martel is transported to the mystical land of Avalon. A human without magical ability, she is completely vulnerable to the deadly forces surrounding her.

When she defies her captors and refuses to share her music, an act of violent cruelty leaves her broken, her ability to play silenced, maybe forever. Her only hope is a whisper in the dark, gentle hands that offer healing, and a man who refuses to show her his face yet who offers advice she dare not ignore.

One of the most feared and powerful sorcerers in history, Morgan le Fae serves a Queen he despises, Isabeau of the Light Court. Once a famous bard and an advisor to kings, Morgan has been enslaved to Isabeau for hundreds of years, acting as enforcer and the commander of her deadly Hounds.

Sidonie’s music touches Morgan in places he had abandoned centuries ago, and her fiery spirit resurrects feelings he had believed long dead. For Sidonie, trapped in captivity, passion offers a comfort she cannot resist.

But Isabeau holds Morgan bound in magical chains that only Death can break. And in the court of a cruel, jealous Queen, the only thing that burns hotter than love is revenge…

*Spoiler alert: I can’t talk about this book without giving a little spoiler for some of Harrison’s earlier books, but the cover copy of this book gives the spoiler too so…just fair warning.

Morgan Le Fae is the hero of this book, which might stun those of you who read the other books where he’s a villain. This isn’t so much a story where Morgan redeems himself but a story where we finally get the full picture of Morgan’s situation. Turns out he’s magically enslaved to Isabeau, the Queen of the Light Fae, and he’s been forced to follow her orders to the letter for centuries. He’s been searching for an out the entire time, and when he finally gets a reprieve due to a poorly worded order from Isabeau, he’s hopeful he can find something to end his enslavement. However, he ends up putting it all on the line when a human musician he’s developed an attachment to gets kidnapped and turned over to Isabeau. Sidonie Martel is a genius musician, but when she’s brutalized by Isabeau, Morgan can’t look the other way. As he starts helping her, the two get closer, and both end up making decisions about how much they’re willing to risk for the other.

OMG Morgan. He is a total badass and an incomparable magician, and, finally, we get to see that he’s also an amazing person. He is entirely isolated from everyone by Isabeau’s machinations. Because of her orders and the fact that no one knows he’s enslaved, he’s seen as ruthless and scary, so naturally nobody wants anything to do with him, even at the Light Court. He’s spent centuries performing atrocities without being able to stop or even explain himself. Can you imagine what that would do to a person? He was so lonely and traumatized it made my heart hurt. The tenderness and genuine caring he shows Sidonie, though, reveals his true character, and it’s so clear why Sidonie falls in love.

While Morgan is really the heart of the story for me, Sidonie is also fantastic. She knows almost nothing about the Light Court or the Elder Races, so when she’s captured she’s in way over her head. She’s a quick learner, though, and with Morgan’s help she survives. In part because she has no prior knowledge, she’s the only one who isn’t afraid of Morgan and really listens to him, and it allows her to figure out what is happening and communicate with him in a way no one else has. I love it when both characters do everything in their power to protect the other one, and this book had that in spades. While Sidonie can’t do much for most of the book, she makes the tough call for Morgan in the end. I just ate it up.

Another thing I loved about the book was that Morgan isn’t the only complex character. A lovable character from the first book in the series is back, though he doesn’t always make such lovable choices here. Isabeau is a bit more complicated than just “cartoon evil queen” as well. I’m not saying I liked her, but it was interesting to understand how she too was kind of trapped by her enslavement of Morgan. Even the war between the Light and Dark Courts that makes up the central conflict of the series was cast in a new light. Innocent people like Morgan have gotten caught up in the war, and this book showed that most of the Light Fae are just regular citizens trying to live life as best they can. It makes for a rich and interesting world to read about. 

This book is pretty dark and angsty, which makes sense given the horror of Morgan’s situation and the cruelty of Isabeau. However, it did make it kind of heavy reading sometimes. I longed for some more lightness to counteract all the pain. Frankly, I was also pretty frustrated that the lovable character I mentioned earlier didn’t do more to help Morgan once he understood what was happening. Couldn’t he get some reinforcements or do more to help plan? I guess if this book has one lesson, it’s that trauma is messy, complicated, and long lasting, and people don’t always make the best choices in those circumstances.

I am totally torn about future books. On the one hand, I would love to see Morgan again, but on the other hand, I hope both the Dark and Light Fae just leave him the hell alone because he’s suffered enough for their war! I really, really loved reading this book. It was smart and moving and made me look at book 1 in the series in a whole new light.

Grade: 4.5 out of 5

four-half-stars


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Review: Burn for Me by Ilona Andrews

Posted July 25, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Burn for Me by Ilona AndrewsReviewer: Holly
Burn for Me (Hidden Legacy, #1) by Ilona Andrews
Series: Hidden Legacy #1
Published by Avon
Publication Date: October 28th 2014
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 382
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four-stars

#1 New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrews launches a brand new Hidden Legacy series, in which one woman must place her trust in a seductive, dangerous man who sets off an even more dangerous desire…

Nevada Baylor is faced with the most challenging case of her detective career—a suicide mission to bring in a suspect in a volatile case. Nevada isn’t sure she has the chops. Her quarry is a Prime, the highest rank of magic user, who can set anyone and anything on fire.

Then she’s kidnapped by Connor “Mad” Rogan—a darkly tempting billionaire with equally devastating powers. Torn between wanting to run or surrender to their overwhelming attraction, Nevada must join forces with Rogan to stay alive.

Rogan’s after the same target, so he needs Nevada. But she’s getting under his skin, making him care about someone other than himself for a change. And, as Rogan has learned, love can be as perilous as death, especially in the magic world.

Burn for Me is the start of Ilona Andrews’ Hidden Legacy series. When Nevada Baylor’s father passed away, she stepped up and took over his failing P.I. business. Since then she and her family have been working hard to keep their heads above water. Recently another P.I. firm, one much larger, bought out their mortgage, which covers their home and business (the family converted a large warehouse into a business/family dwelling). Since then they’ve been sending business Nevada’s way, under the threat that if she doesn’t take the cases they’ll call the loan due. Which is how she ends up going after a Prime (someone with an extreme amount of magical power) fire-mage. She’s outclassed and outgunned and she knows it. Just when she thinks things can’t get any worse, she’s kidnapped by Connor “Mad” Rogan, a Prime telekinetic. Connor and Nevada are after the same thing – stopping the Fire Prime before things get any hotter – but their attraction is a complication neither could have foreseen.

Having read Andrews’ previous books, I expected to get a tight, well written novel with excellent world-building and multifaceted characters. I wasn’t disappointed. Burn for Me was a delight from page one. Nevada and her family really came to life. I was fully immersed in the world from page one. Connor was an enigma I couldn’t wait to unravel. Filled with action, suspense, romance and adventure, Burn for Me has it all.

The romance is light in this book (the thread is carried throughout all three books), but I enjoyed the tension between Connor and Nevada, and the promise of more had me completely hooked. If you’re in the mood to be swept away by a story, this is the book for you. Just be sure you have all 3 books handy. You’re going to want to dive right in to the next installment.

4.25 out of 5

Burn for Me is currently $2.99 for Kindle!

four-stars


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Review: Wired by Julie Garwood

Posted July 25, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Wired by Julie GarwoodReviewer: Rowena
Wired by Julie Garwood
Series: Buchanan-Renard Series #13
Also in this series: Wired, Wired
Published by Penguin, Berkley
Publication Date: July 4th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romantic Suspense
Pages: 336
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Goodreads
three-stars

A beautiful computer hacker and a bad-boy FBI agent must collaborate—in more ways than one—in the sizzling new novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Julie Garwood.

Allison Trent doesn’t look like a hacker. In fact, when she’s not in college working on her degree, she models on the side. But behind her gorgeous face is a brilliant mind for computers and her real love is writing—and hacking—code. Her dream is to write a new security program that could revolutionize the tech industry.

Hotshot FBI agent Liam Scott has a problem: a leak deep within his own department. He needs the skills of a top-notch hacker to work on a highly sensitive project: to secretly break into the FBI servers and find out who the traitor is. But he can’t use one of his own. He finds the perfect candidate in Allison. Only, there’s one problem—she wants nothing to do with his job and turns him down flat.

What Liam doesn’t know is that Allison is hiding secrets that she doesn’t want the FBI to uncover. But Liam will do nearly anything to persuade her to join his team, even break a few rules if that’s what it takes. A temptation that could put his job—and both of their futures—on the line…and longing for more . . .

It’s been quite a while since I’ve read a Julie Garwood contemporary and unlike a lot of others, I don’t mind them. Sure, I’m a bigger fan of her older work but her newer stuff does its job of entertaining me. I liked this book fine but I will say that I liked a lot of her other contemporaries a lot more.

I’ve been curious about Liam Scott ever since we met him and I was curious to see what his character was really all about since at one time, I didn’t care for him and then he grew on me and yet, I didn’t feel like I really knew him. Going into this book, I was all about getting to know Liam and it’s a bit disappointing to say that I still don’t feel like we quite got to know him.

Wired follows Liam Scott as he investigates a mole in the FBI and he needs the help of a really smart hacker that looks like sin on a stick. Her name is Allison Trent and she’s just about finished with college and wondering what happens next. He needs her help so she agrees to help him with this project but when she finds his mole, she’s out of the FBI. She’s not interested in working for the FBI. Each day that passes, Allison works on trying to find the mole and Liam works on trying to not jump her bones. It’s not easy because Liam is always with her. Whether he’s supposed to be or not, he keeps her near and he wants to help her with everything in her life. Her work. Her punk ass guardians and anything else that she’d let him help her with.

The romance between Liam and Allison was kind of abrupt. It felt more like lust for a huge chunk of the book because I couldn’t quite believe that they were in love with each other. That they fell in love so quickly. There was something missing in the romance that didn’t win me over completely. Maybe it was because after the book was done, I didn’t feel like I knew Liam as much as I hoped I would. Allison seemed like the perfect woman. She was the genius computer hacker that the FBI was drooling over AND she was gorgeous as shit. A freaking model to boot! Allison was too perfect to be real even with her shitty ass upbringing. I didn’t fully connect with either of them and that was disappointing.

Overall, this book was okay. I liked the book fine. I enjoyed the story even if the romance lacked meat. Liam had potential to be a fabulously sexy hero but I was a bit let down that we don’t really get much of Liam, the man. We get a whole lot of Liam, the FBI Agent. Allison was a strong heroine but I didn’t fully connect with her because she was too perfect. All in all, it was a good story but nowhere near one of Garwood’s bests.

Grade: 3 out of 5

three-stars


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