Guest Review: Dangerous Attraction: The Complete Serial by Sidney Bristol

Posted July 28, 2016 by Jen in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Dangerous Attraction: The Complete Serial by Sidney BristolReviewer: Jen
Dangerous Attraction: The Complete Serial by Sidney Bristol
Series: Aegis Group #1
Published by Inked Press
Publication Date: December 18th 2015
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romantic Suspense
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two-half-stars

Ex-Navy SEAL Travis Ration is an expert hunter. Whether his prey is criminal or victim, he always gets his mark. He's no hero, just a man doing his job. It’s all he has after a felony conviction after a bad judgement call. When the FBI call in a favor and ask him to look into a serial killer over the holiday break, he jumps at the opportunity to fill the long, cold days with something besides regret and bad movies. In Las Vegas, he's on the hunt for a prolific serial killer no one wants to admit exists. The leads are dry and the evidence gone, until she walks into his life. Bliss Giles—curvy, sassy and everything he can't have.

What’s worse, Travis knows Bliss’ sister is the killer's latest victim. She fits the profile. Time is running out and the fastest way to retrace the killer's path is with Bliss at Travis' side. In the seat of danger. He vows to keep Bliss safe and his hands to himself, after all, a nice girl like her doesn't need a guy like him in her life. Too bad no one told Bliss Travis was off-limits. She tests his boundaries and pushes his control every minute they're together until he can't remember why wanting her is a bad idea.

The hunters become the hunted in this tale of serial killers and SEALs for hire. One broken man must unpack his baggage, a woman has make a leap of faith and a sister chooses to live in this new, romantic suspense serial by NYT & USA Today bestselling author, Sidney Bristol.

I picked this book up on a whim, and while I thought it had potential, it didn’t quite come together for me.

When the book opens, Bliss Giles is trying to get help from the Las Vegas Police to find her newly missing sister. Since it’s not even been a full day, the police aren’t taking her seriously, but Travis Ration (an ex-SEAL/quasi-FBI consultant) overhears her, and he thinks the case might be connected to a serial killer he’s helping investigate. Bliss and Travis start looking into the matter and realize Wendy has indeed been captured by this killer who kidnaps women, impregnates them, and then gruesomely murders them once their babies are born. (Yeah, this book is graphic, so stay far away if that bothers you!) There are so many twists and turns in this book that I won’t enumerate them all. Just know that there is a lot of investigating, a lot of blood and guts, and a lot of back and forth with this seemingly unstoppable killer.

As I mentioned, the book is gory, which isn’t necessarily a problem for me. It’s maybe not one I’d be rushing out to read on my lunch break, but I could handle it since I have a fairly high tolerance for blood in books. However, the gory parts absolutely DID NOT fit with the romance parts of the book. Bliss works at a sex toy shop, and I thought that part of the story was fun and cute. Travis isn’t exactly against sex toys, but he doesn’t see the point and seems to assume they’re just for women who have no companionship. Bliss isn’t a sex toy evangelist, but she does try to educate Travis on who uses toys and why they might want to. I enjoyed her openness and Travis’s willingness to listen. Plus, there are some sexy scenes of them exploring toys, which I think we just don’t see enough of in most non-erotic romances.

But let me tell you, sex toy explorations are particularly jarring to read sandwiched in between scenes of a killer cutting out someone’s organs! I especially couldn’t enjoy lighthearted sex scenes when Wendy was in a cage waiting for the killer to murder her. It took away from the relationship and the sex, and it was honestly kind of horrifying. I truly felt like there were two different books thrown together here: one a lighthearted contemporary romance about a sex toy shop employee and an alpha SEAL, and the other an intense and graphic serial killer story. Both books would make perfectly fine stories on their own, but put together they were uncomfortable and mismatched.

This book was originally published as a serial, and that may have contributed somewhat to the disjointedness I felt. I suspect it also contributed to uneven pacing. There were periods of the book where nothing happened and everything just dragged. The killer kept eluding them too, in ways that got more and more absurd, which meant that the resolution was delayed more than I thought reasonable. And Travis did a lot of back and forth–I care about her..no I can’t care about anybody…wait I do care about her…but I can’t. Ugh. He couldn’t make up his mind, and Bliss kept putting up with his crap. It didn’t feel organic, more like artificial conflicts to add tension.

All that said, I did like some parts of the book. The serial killer plot was horrific, yes, but it was also complicated and tense. I liked that Travis and Bliss did a lot of communicating about their feelings. There weren’t Big Misunderstandings–they used their grown up words to talk things out. The sex was fairly hot and interesting, if you could look at it in isolation from the serial killer plot. I want more sex toys in books!

All in all, I’d happily check something else out by this author (and this book is apparently the start of a series), but this particular book didn’t quite live up to its promise for me.

Grade: 2.5 out of 5

two-half-stars

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Review: Just Kiss Me by Rachel Gibson

Posted July 28, 2016 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Just Kiss Me by Rachel GibsonReviewer: Rowena
Just Kiss Me by Rachel Gibson
Published by Avon Romance
Publication Date: July 26th 2016
Genres: Romance, Contemporary
Pages: 384
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three-half-stars

New York Times bestselling author Rachel Gibson returns with this dazzling love story filled with sizzle, sass, and just a bit of southern charm . . .
"Hello, Ms. Vivian . . . it's been a long time."

And with those words, Vivian Leigh Rochet nearly melted. It's been years since she last saw Harrison Whitley-Shuler. She was a teenager scrubbing houses for a living. He was the gorgeous son of rich parents, not fit for the likes of her.

Vivian had vowed to get out of Charleston, become a big Hollywood star, and stick it to the snooty girls who made her cry.

She got what she wanted—and more—but why does her glamorous life seem so trivial?

Harrison got out too . . . making it all the way to Wall Street, until a heart attack forced him to trade in his cufflinks for a good set of hand tools.

Making furniture soothes his soul, but escaping the Whitley-Shuler heritage is nearly impossible. And now he's come face-to-face with the one who got away. He's not looking for love. He's not even looking for sex . . . so why is resisting her the hardest thing he's ever done?

It’s been a while since I’ve read anything by Rachel Gibson and this book was a nice treat after being away for a while.

Vivian Leigh Rochet (pronounced Ro-shay) is back in her hometown of Charleston to bury her mother. She hasn’t been home for at least three years and being back in town to put her mother to rest has put her in total grief mode. She was close to her mother and with her gone, Vivian realizes that she’s got nobody left. She’s all alone in the world and that doesn’t sit well with her.

She grew up in the carriage house across the way from the big house that her mother was a housekeeper at. She grew up cleaning up after Henry (his name was Henry in my ARC) and Spencer Whitley-Shuler and their judgmental and very mean mother, Nonnie. She had dreams to become rich and famous and a big super star actress. She was going to be become famous and come back to town to shove her success in everyone who was ever mean to her’s face. #1 on that list? Henry Whitley-Shuler.

But when she comes back to town to pack up her mother’s belongings, it’s to find a very different Henry from the one she remembers. It’s Henry that becomes her closest confidant and it’s Henry that she turns to for most everything.

Henry has changed a lot in the years that Vivian has known him but Vivian has changed too. Henry remembers the brat she used to be when they were kids. He remembers catching her snooping in his room. He remembers the secret he threatened her to keep. He remembered plenty but he didn’t understand her as a kid. He understands her plenty now. The more time that they spend together, the closer they get and the deeper they both fall.

There are secrets in this book and I’m not a fan of those in my romances. I didn’t like Henry’s secret and I didn’t like Vivian’s secret. I rolled my eyes more than a few times but in the end, I liked the way that these two came together. Vivian’s secret keeping was worse because she kept her secret to spite Henry and I didn’t like that. The way that they worked their issues out made me satisfied with the story and I’m glad that I read it. It’s not my favorite Rachel Gibson but it was still enjoyable. It was one of those slow to build romances that worked for me and despite the secrets, I did end up liking the book anyway.

Grade: 3.75 out of 5

three-half-stars

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Review: Diablo Lake: Moonstruck by Lauren Dane

Posted July 27, 2016 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Diablo Lake: Moonstruck by Lauren DaneReviewer: Holly
Diablo Lake: Moonstruck by Lauren Dane
Series: Diablo Lake #1
Published by Carina Press
Publication Date: June 20th 2016
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Paranormal, General, Contemporary
Pages: 205
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three-stars

In Diablo Lake, Tennessee, a town populated by werewolves, witches and more, magic woven deep into the earth protects the town's secrets from outsiders.Katie Grady left Diablo Lake to get over a humiliating breakup. But her family needs her help, so she's back, in a sublet right across the hall from the guy she's lusted after for years. Jace Dooley is hotter than ever, and their friendship picks up along with massive doses of grown-up chemistry.The very scent of Katie sharpens Jace's canines, makes the wolf within him stir. There's nothing more alluring to a Pack Alpha than a sexy female who is so very in charge. She won't be coddled, but if he plays his hand just right she might be convinced to become his.Katie presents a challenge to Jace's wolf nature, whose chief instinct is to protect. Especially now that she's coming into the magic that is her birthright—and suddenly Jace isn't the only one who's interested in Katie or the raw power she's just learning to use.Editor's Note: The story continues in Diablo Lake: Protected, available soon!One-click with confidence. This title is part of the Carina Press Romance Promise: all the romance you're looking for with an HEA/HFN. It's a promise! Find out more at CarinaPress.com/RomancePromise

I took some time after finishing Moonstruck to write the review because I’m on the fence about it. I’m a huge fan of Dane’s novels. I’ve enjoyed pretty much all of her previous releases (though obviously I liked some better than others). When I saw she was writing a new paranormal series set in the south I got really excited. It’s been my experience that she does both really well, so I figured the two together would be a major hit.

Kate Grady grew up in Diablo Lake, Tennessee. She figured she’d spend her whole life here, until her fiance left her at the alter. She needed to get away and get some fresh perspective, so she moved to the city. When her father falls ill, she moves back home to help run the family business and help her mom take care of her dad. As a witch, Kate is pretty sought after by both wolf packs, since having her on their side boosts their power both elementally and politically. When she realizes Jace Dooley is available – and her crush on him is still intact- she thinks long and hard before agreeing to see him because she knows she’ll be taking all kinds of flak if she aligns herself with him. Not to mention he’s the soon-to-be alpha of his pack. Yet she soon realizes she can’t keep away from him.

Jace wasn’t ready for Kate before she got engaged to her ex, and then she took off for the city. He knows she’s everything he wants in a mate – though he is cautious since he knows his family will jump all over him once they realize she’s his. Not to mention the added tension their relationship will cause between his pack and the pack her ex belongs to. Despite all that, now that she’s home he isn’t going to waste time going after her. He just can’t help himself.

As Kate and Jace discover each other, they also discover a boatload of drama coming from her ex’s pack. Kate also struggles with the knowledge that while Jace wants her for her, she’s also a major asset to their pack. Which means they want her for her magic, too, not just for who she is as Kate.

It’s not that I disliked the book, per se. Kate is a strong, independent woman who knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to go after it. Jace is the strong, alpha type Dane writes so well. Their romance was sweet and the sex was hot. The tension between the packs was interesting and so was the drama surrounding Kate and her ex. I just struggled because it didn’t really seem to go anywhere. By the halfway point the h/h were solid – or heading there – yet the plot just kept circling. The main conflict – a power struggle between the wolves and witches of Diablo Lake, plus a fight between the two main wolf packs – just circled around itself. I understand this is the start of a new series, but nothing was resolved in this book, aside from the HEA of the h/h…though even that’s questionable considering the possible danger coming from several fronts. The same arguments were had again and again, with the same tirades on both sides. In the end this felt like half a novel. I’m curious enough to continue reading, but to be honest the long wait between releases has me pretty frustrated.

3 out of 5

three-stars

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Casee’s RWA16 Highlights

Posted July 27, 2016 by Casee in Miscellaneous | 3 Comments

Holly and I went to RWA16 in San Diego a few weeks ago and let me just say…omg. I’ve met Nora Roberts before, but there is nothing quite like walking by her and her entourage. She always seems so put together, so classy. Then you read this letter from her and realize that she’s just almost the same as we are. She’s not a peon like the rest of us, but she loves to eat, shop, and relax. And she loves her fans.

Holly was my guide as this was my first RWA conference. Unfortunately I had to leave early, but in the time I was there, it was jam packed. I met some wonderful people including Rosie, KristieJ, and Wendy the Librarian. I met authors that I’ve read…Carolyn Jewel, Jaci Burton, Lauren Dane (hilarious!), and Jessica Scott. Jessica Scott was my absolute fav because that bee-yotch tells it like it is and makes no bones about it. She is amazing.

The absolute highlight of the whole trip was lunch with Nalini Singh. Yes, I had lunch with effing Nalini Singh. And Holly and Nalini were in on the surprise. Holly tricked me into thinking we were having lunch with some editors. Those who don’t know me, well, I like to be extremely prepared. So I was grilling Holly about what we were going to discuss, who was going to be there, anything I could think to ask, I asked. Then we were waiting at the concierge desk and up walks Nalini. Holy shit. Or Holly shit. I couldn’t love her more than I did at that moment. Nalini and I have been friends via email since Slave to Sensation came out, but that is nothing compared to sitting down with her for lunch.

mandiecaseenalini

Then, what did Nalini do, but pull out a copy of Archangel’s Heart then take it away. Holly wanted to borrow it then use the restroom (I have no doubt she could have read it in 10 min), but alas Nalini would not give it up. She said all she had was one copy. Yep, she looked us in the eye and said that. That was so not the case. At the Berkley signing, we naturally begged for her only (uh-huh) copy and she pulled out another copy and offered it to us because she spilled tea all over it. Being the awesome BFF I am, I shouldered Holly aside and took it for myself. I felt bad for two seconds, but got over it quickly. I read it on the plane home and finished it the next day. You guys, it was amazing. I’ve already written my review and can’t wait to share it.

archangelsheart

All my highlights revolve around Nalini and I don’t care because I LOVE HER. I’m a total fangirl and I’m not afraid to admit it.

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Review: To Have and to Hold by Lauren Layne

Posted July 27, 2016 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: To Have and to Hold by Lauren LayneReviewer: Rowena
To Have and to Hold by Lauren Layne
Series: Wedding Belles #1
Also in this series: From This Day Forward
Published by Simon and Schuster
Publication Date: July 26th 2016
Genres: Romance, Contemporary
Pages: 384
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four-stars

USA TODAY bestselling author Lauren Layne is the “queen of witty dialogue and sexy scenes” (Rachel Van Dyken)! Now, Sex and the City meets The Wedding Planner in The Wedding Belles, her sizzling brand new contemporary romance series about three ambitious wedding planners who can make any bride’s dream come true…but their own.

Discovering her fiancé is an international con man just moments before they exchange vows devastates celebrity wedding planner Brooke Baldwin’s business—and breaks her heart. Now a pariah in Los Angeles, she seeks a fresh start in New York City and thinks she’s found it with her first bridal client, a sweet—if slightly spoiled—hotel heiress. Then she meets the uptight businessman who’s holding the purse strings.

Seth Tyler wishes he could write a blank check and be done with his sister Maya's fancy-pants wedding. Unfortunately, micromanaging the event is his only chance at proving Maya’s fiancé is a liar. Standing directly in his way is the stunning blonde wedding planner whose practiced smiles and sassy comebacks both irritate and arouse him. He needs Brooke’s help.

But can he persuade a wedding planner on a comeback mission to unplan a wedding? And more importantly, how will he convince her that the wedding she should be planning…is theirs?

I’ve said this before but I’ll say it again. Lauren Layne has fast become one of my favorite go to author for fabulous contemporary romances and she didn’t disappoint with the first book in her new Wedding Belles series. I was wrapped up tight in this story from beginning to end and I enjoyed the entire ride.

Seth Tyler’s sister is getting married to a guy that she just met and Seth doesn’t trust his soon to be brother in law. Seth and his sister Maya are the heir and heiress to the Tyler hotel riches and it’s not a surprise that Seth thinks Neil, Maya’s new out of nowhere fiancé is after the family riches. He’s got no proof of anything shady, just his gut feeling and after meeting Neil, his spidey senses are on high alert.

After a disastrous wedding that didn’t happen, Brooke left the West Coast for the chilly winters of New York City. Her disastrous wedding that didn’t happen wrecked her wedding planning career in Los Angeles so she’s hoping to take her services to New York City and start up the process of building her work reputation up again. Her first wedding in New York is Maya Tyler’s wedding to Neil Garrett and things would be going fine if it weren’t for Maya’s meddling and grumpy older brother, holder of the family purse strings, Seth. He’s not a fan of the idea that his little sister is marrying someone after knowing them for such a short time. He’s controlling and he quite frankly, gets on Brooke’s nerves. The more time that he spends hovering over Maya’s shoulder, the more fun he’s taking out of Maya’s pre-wedding experiences and Brooke is not having that. If that means she’ll have to meet with him weekly to keep him apprised of everything going on so that he won’t be there and then do a little snooping for him, she’ll do it. She’ll do it for Maya because Maya deserves to be happy during the happy times.

These meetings between Seth and Brooke are fraught with sexual chemistry and the heat between them singed my iPad with each passing page. I loved the way that their romance built up until they were both consumed with each other and their feelings. Their romance wasn’t perfect but it was interesting and entertaining and I was right there with the both of them as they tried and tried again to get things right.

There were times when they both got on my nerves with their bullheadedness over every little thing but in the end, they both won me over and I closed this book with a smile on my face.

I loved Seth. Even when he was being a complete dickhead and messing things up for everyone in his personal life, I loved him. I loved the controlling dumbass because at the root of everything, his intentions were good and even though I wish he had listened to both Brooke and Grant, he came around in the end and I truly felt like he learned from his mistakes. That was some grand gesture too. Total swoon-worthy move that only a freaking billionaire could make. Took me right to my happy place. I loved it.

Brooke was a great heroine as well. She was strong and she was independent and even though I thought it was a little soon for her to be moving on after her disrupted wedding, I came around to the idea because had it been me? I would have jumped Seth’s bone after two weeks instead of three months. LOL.

Overall, this was fun and it was flirty and it was everything that I love about reading a Lauren Layne book. Seth and Brooke were a great main couple and the lead up to Heather’s book was great too. I can’t wait to dig into Heather’s book and meet her noisy hot neighbor. This series started off on a great note with From this Day Forward and it continued to entertain me with this one so I’m on board for it all. Bring on Heather and Alexis. I want them!

Grade: 4.25 out of 5

four-stars

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