What Are You Reading? (298)

Posted August 26, 2016 by Casee in Features | 2 Comments

WAYR-New

Casee: I’ve been on a Rebecca Zanetti craze. I’m reading her Sin Brothers series. Holly got me to read Forgotten Sins by telling me how much she disliked it. I didn’t love it, but I loved the brothers. That’s what got me to buy the next three books in the series. I just finished Forgotten Sins and am reading Sweet Revenge. Then I have to start the Killer Instinct series by Elle Kennedy. This is basically exactly what I was doing last week. Glomming Rebecca Zanetti with Elle Kennedy waiting in the wings.

Rowena: This week, I read The Trouble with Mistletoe by Jill Shalvis which was a cute read. I also read Just One Week by Alice Gaines which I didn’t like at all. The hero and the heroine were immature and try as I might, I just couldn’t connect with the characters or the storyline at all so that was a bust. I also finished Do You Want to Start a Scandal by Tessa Dare, which was another wonderfully written historical romance with humor and a charming heroine that completely won me over.

I started Bedmates by Nichole Chase this morning and so far, so good. I hope it keeps my interest. We’ll see.

What are you reading this week? Any new favorites or books that drove you crazy? Share!

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Review: Sting by Sandra Brown

Posted August 26, 2016 by Casee in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Sting by Sandra BrownReviewer: Casee
Sting by Sandra Brown
Published by Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: August 16th 2016
Genres: Mystery, Romantic Suspense, Thrillers
Pages: 416
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Goodreads
three-half-stars

When Jordie Bennet and Shaw Kinnard lock eyes across a disreputable backwater bar, something definitely sparks. Shaw gives off a dangerous vibe that makes men wary and inspires women to sit up and take notice. None feel that undercurrent more strongly than savvy businesswoman Jordie, who doesn't belong in a seedy dive on the banks of a bayou. But here she is . . . and Shaw Kinnard is here to kill her.

As Shaw and his partner take aim, Jordie is certain her time has come. But Shaw has other plans and abducts Jordie, hoping to get his hands on the $30 million her brother has stolen and, presumably, hidden. However, Shaw is not the only one looking for the fortune. Her brother's ruthless boss and the FBI are after it as well. Now on the run from the feds and a notorious criminal, Jordie and Shaw must rely on their wits-and each other-to stay alive.

Miles away from civilization and surrounded by swampland, the two play each other against their common enemies. Jordie's only chance of survival is to outwit Shaw, but it soon becomes clear to Shaw that Jordie isn't entirely trustworthy, either. Was she in on her brother's scam, or is she an innocent pawn in a deadly vendetta? And just how valuable is her life to Shaw, her remorseless and manipulative captor? Burning for answers-and for each other-this unlikely pair ultimately make a desperate move that could be their last.

I haven’t read a Sandra Brown novel in quite sometime. This part of the blurb caught my eye: “But here she is . . . and Shaw Kinnard is here to kill her.”. I knew I had to read it. Usually I cruise right through Brown’s novels, but this one was slow going until about halfway through the book. That’s when it really got good and I could actually sit down and finish it.

Jordie Bennett thought her life was forfeit when she sees Shaw Kinnard bearing down on her in a seedy bar parking lot. Instead, he abducts her and takes her to a place that is impossible to escape. Shaw wants information on her brother, Josh. Josh is in protective custody after turning himself in for helping Billy Panella, a “dangerous criminal”, swindle people out of a total of thirty million dollars. Josh has promised to help the FBI find the thirty million and put Panella away. If they can find him.

Shaw wants more than the two hundred thousand that he was promised to kill Jordie. He wants the full thirty million not to kill her. To get that, he needs her help. To get her help he needs her to tell the truth, which he knows she’s not doing. Jordie is determined not to tell Shaw everything she knows because she needs a bargaining chip if she’s going to come out of this situation alive. Yet as the time slogs by, Jordie is less certain that Shaw is going to keep her alive. Even with their unwanted attraction (so cliché) to each other, Jordie knows that he’s going to kill her.

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After the slow start, this was a good romantic suspense/thriller. It went at a fast, easy reading pace. I don’t know if I’ll read the next Sandra Brown novel, but I’m glad I read this one.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

three-half-stars

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Guest Review: The Fractured Heart by Scarlett Cole

Posted August 25, 2016 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: The Fractured Heart by Scarlett ColeReviewer: Tracy
The Fractured Heart by Scarlett Cole
Series: Second Circle Tattoos #2
Also in this series: The Strongest Steel
Published by St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: January 5th 2016
Genres: Contemporary
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four-stars

All things, when placed under pressure, eventually break or leave a mark.

Tattoo artist Brody "Cujo" Matthews knows how to keep things simple. In life and in love. Abandoned as a child by a mother who refused to stick around to raise three boys she didn't want, he's intent on staying clear of complicated women. The only things complicated in Cujo’s life are the killer tattoos he designs and inks. That all changes when he’s asked to help organize his best friend Trent's engagement party, which means working with Trent's fiancée's best friend, Drea, the definition of high maintenance and sizzling curves. And the one woman he doesn’t want to walk away from.

Andrea "Drea" Caron is broke and tired. After years of caring for her ailing mom, she's at the end of her rope trying to manage the piling medical bills, two jobs, and a life placed on hold. She certainly doesn’t need the added frustration of a sexy playboy tattoo artist messing up her best friend’s engagement party or her carefully balanced life. But when Drea witnesses the abduction of a woman from the café she works at, she can’t help but turn to Cujo who’s determined to prove to Drea that he’s someone she can count on forever…but as they attempt to bring the truth to light, someone is working to bring that forever to a sudden, deadly halt.

All things, when placed under pressure, eventually break or leave a mark.

Tattoo artist Brody “Cujo” Matthews knows how to keep things simple. In life and in love. Abandoned as a child by a mother who refused to stick around to raise three boys she didn’t want, he’s intent on staying clear of complicated women. The only things complicated in Cujo’s life are the killer tattoos he designs and inks. That all changes when he’s asked to help organize his best friend Trent’s engagement party, which means working with Trent’s fiancée’s best friend, Drea, the definition of high maintenance and sizzling curves. And the one woman he doesn’t want to walk away from.

Andrea “Drea” Caron is broke and tired. After years of caring for her ailing mom, she’s at the end of her rope trying to manage the piling medical bills, two jobs, and a life placed on hold. She certainly doesn’t need the added frustration of a sexy playboy tattoo artist messing up her best friend’s engagement party or her carefully balanced life. But when Drea witnesses the abduction of a woman from the café she works at, she can’t help but turn to Cujo who’s determined to prove to Drea that he’s someone she can count on forever…but as they attempt to bring the truth to light, someone is working to bring that forever to a sudden, deadly halt.

Drea is a caretaker.  She’s always trying to take care of people, and she does a great job at it.  She’s been taking care of her mother since she got sick with COPD when Drea was just 17 years old.  She put off college and all of her dreams to work to pay the bills.  Her mother is definitely a handful and makes Drea crazy but she still takes care of her as best she can.

Drea met Cujo when her best friend, Harper, started dating Trent.  Cujo (who finally admits that his name is Brody) and Drea’s personalities as such that they rub together like to sticks trying to start a fire.  They’ve been put in charge – together – of planning Harper and Trent’s engagement party and neither is happy about it.

Drea is at her place of work one day when a woman is attacked and possibly abducted.  A few days later bother her and Brody are at the coffee shop after hours and they get held at gunpoint again.  Drea is determined, on top of everything else she has going in her life, that she’s going to find out what happened to the woman who got abducted.  Brody would love to help but his mother, who left him, his father and his two brothers 25 years earlier is suddenly back and has retrograde amnesia.  Life is crazy but as it all goes on Drea and Brody manage to fall in love.

The love story between Brody and Drea was really great.  I loved so many things about it that I was almost disappointed when it was done.

Brody was an incredible hero.  He was a wonderful son (even though he and his father didn’t always see eye to eye), a fantastic brother, a loving uncle to his twin nieces, a good friend and a hard worker.  He was one of those characters that I just wanted to hug as he pretty much seemed like a gentle giant.  Yeah, he could brawl with the best of them but he was pretty chill on the inside.  He’d never gotten over his mother leaving them when he was very little.  When she resurfaces but has no memory of ever leaving them Brody is torn as to what to do.  Should he act like he’s not heartbroken and pissed off at her?  Brody’s emotional state really brought an added layer to the book that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Drea was a great woman and perfect for Brody.  She was the epitome of a hard worker and while she was torn as to what she wanted to do with her life when it was finally her own to decide, I knew that she would figure it out and make a great decision.  With Brody backing her how could she not?

The story, in the end, was wonderful.  I really enjoyed reading this romance and definitely recommend the series so far.

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars

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Guest Review: One Rogue at a Time and Rich as a Rogue by Jade Lee

Posted August 25, 2016 by Whitley B in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: One Rogue at a Time and Rich as a Rogue by Jade LeeReviewer: Whitley
One Rogue at a Time by Jade Lee
Series: Rakes and Rogues #2
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: December 1, 2015
Genres: Historical, Romance
Pages: 384
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two-stars

USA Today bestselling author Jade Lee continues her saucy, vibrant Rakes and Rogues Regency romance series with a high-society outsider who may have met his match…

A brown-eyed bastard with nothing to lose

As the illegitimate son of a duke, Bramwell Wesley Hallowsby grew up tough, on the fringes of society, learning to hide his hurt and cynicism with charm and Town polish. He’s carved out a place for himself as a mercenary, serving as bodyguard and general strong arm for the peerage. Bram has nothing to lose… and he’s exactly what Maybelle “Bluebell” Ballenger needs.

Meets his match in a blue-eyed beauty with everything to hide

Maybelle needs a mentor to teach her to speak and act like a lady, so she can claim the place in society she was denied. As they team up to take on the ton, Bram knows she’s hiding something even from him. Despite the deception he sees behind those sparkling blue eyes, Bram wants to believe that Maybelle’s love is no lie. But it seems fate has served him up his just desserts in the likes of this determined damsel.

One Rogue at a Time started off cute enough. I really loved Bluebell’s wit and her ability to turn a situation in her own favor, the relationship she had with the others in her village, and the portrayal of village life in general. They had a nice mix of supportive and “gotta do to survive,” and everyone was very practical about it, and just I loved that place, I wish we’d seen more of it. It was a nuanced attitude that I’m not relaying very well, sorry.

I even liked Bluebell and Bram together at the start. They had some nice banter and cute moments. But then Bram got…well, rapey. He literally straight-up says “I’m going to sex that girl until she’s ruined and her intended husband will have nothing to do with her and then leave.” It was just a really, really disturbing line that gave me so many creeps and the book never quite recovered from that. He went on to force her into kisses and intentionally manipulate and seduce her, and all the while his thoughts on what constitutes a “lie” were…well, extreme is probably too mild a word for it. This guy had issues, and not the fun kind that you can at least pretend will be cured by love. For most of the book he was unacknowledged villain material, and I didn’t like it.

But I kept on with the series and read As Rich as a Rogue, because I was in a Regency mood and it was handy. It had a similar heroine, but Peter was a much better hero, and all around I’m very glad I kept reading. Like Bluebell, Mari is sharp and witty and able to turn things in her favor, and she has ambitions that are period appropriate. I think I liked that most about her character; her logical approach to finding a husband wasn’t demonized. It was recognized that being a wife in that period was a job, or could be if done right, and she wanted to work. So she had to find a husband whose life and career would give her the challenge she needed, and that was a good thing within the book. I love that; it’s an aspect of the time period that doesn’t get appreciated enough.

This book was also practically meta with one theme that’s common in Regency romance: a woman’s passions being suppressed by society but when she lets them out (with the help of the hero) she becomes a more complete person. Which is fine, and I totally get why that’s a popular theme (coughcoughdamnpatriarchy) and I’m not even complaining about it here. Just I was very aware of it on a meta level because it was very, very frankly discussed. So, for me, that was a smidge distracting. Not sure if it would be for anyone else.

Rating: 2 out of 5 and 4 out of 5

two-stars

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Guest Review: The Strongest Steel by Scarlett Cole

Posted August 24, 2016 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: The Strongest Steel by Scarlett ColeReviewer: Tracy
The Strongest Steel by Scarlett Cole
Series: Second Circle Tattoos #1
Also in this series: The Fractured Heart
Published by St. Martin's Paperbacks
Publication Date: July 7th 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

Harper Connelly never expected to find herself outside of a tattoo parlor at one in the morning, summoning the nerve to take back her past. She's determined to forget her old life and is looking for an artist who can tattoo over the scars on her back.

Trent Andrews, local legend and owner of the Second Circle tattoo studio, has his own reasons for specializing in inking over scars. And in spite of her mysterious past and the difficult road ahead, he quickly realizes that Harper is funny, smart, and--under her ridiculously oversized clothing and SPF 100 sunscreen--totally hot. He's happy to take on the challenge of designing a meaningful and deadly full-back tattoo for her.

But when cryptic messages start appearing on Harper's phone, strange deliveries arrive at her door, and Second Circle is vandalized, Harper is convinced that her ex-boyfriend has tracked her down, and worse, that he knows about Trent. Running was the only thing that saved her last time, but now that she's started to put down roots in Miami, she'll have to decide if she can finally fight back instead.

Harper is a woman who lives in Miami but tries to hide herself from everyone.  She doesn’t like to be touched and wears baggy clothes to mask her body even though she’s fit and toned.  She was hurt horribly by an old boyfriend and wants to get a tattoo to cover her scars.  She finally gets up the nerve to talk to Trent Andrews, owner of Second Circle tattoos, and from the moment her life begins again.

Trent is very understanding about Harper and her issues and little by little he gets her to open up about what happened to cause the scarring on her back.  The more Trent gets to know about Harper the more he likes her but he’s not sure that the woman he’s falling in love with is emotionally ready to fall in love with him.

So…I received an eARC of the fourth book in this series, The Darkest Link, and started reading it.  Right off the bat I liked the writing and the characters and decided to put TDL down and start the series from book one.  I’m really happy I did as I really liked all of the books in this series.

This is the book that introduces most of the characters in future books but it mostly focuses on Trent and Harper and their love story.  I really liked how the author blended that story in with Trent’s shop, friends and eventually his TV Show.  The romance blossomed little by little and the trust grew between the two slowly but steadily.  I was quite happy that Cole didn’t try to rush things as Harper had been hurt so badly both physically and emotionally by her ex-boyfriend that she really couldn’t have handled it.

Harper was an incredibly strong woman.  Sure she seemed meek and mild but when you really looked under the façade she created you could see her strength.  Everything she’d been through, and was still going through, made her see herself differently but Trent made her realize that while she may be different from her previous self she was better for it. She was 27 years old but she really seemed a lot younger. At times I was a little annoyed by it but when I thought about it, I got it.   Because of the horror she’d lived through she really hadn’t grown since she’d been with her ex-boyfriend.  When I remembered that her personality seemed on par.

Trent was amazing and from the description, gorgeous.  He was talented with his tattoo artistry, a good businessman and a good friend.  He did pull one asshole move during the story but it was easily forgiven.

Overall I really liked the book and can’t wait to read the next one in the series.

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars

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