Author: Rowena

Sunday Spotlight: Moonlighter by Sarina Bowen

Posted October 20, 2019 by Rowena in Features, Giveaways | 2 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
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

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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Review: No Judgments by Meg Cabot

Posted October 17, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: No Judgments by Meg CabotReviewer: Rowena
No Judgments by Meg Cabot
Series: Little Bridge Island #1
Also in this series: Bridal Boot Camp
Publisher: Harper Collins, William Morrow Paperbacks
Publication Date: September 24, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Point-of-View: Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

The storm of the century is about to hit Little Bridge Island, Florida—and it’s sending waves crashing through Sabrina “Bree” Beckham’s love life…

When a massive hurricane severs all power and cell service to Little Bridge Island—as well as its connection to the mainland—twenty-five-year-old Bree Beckham isn’t worried . . . at first. She’s already escaped one storm—her emotionally abusive ex—so a hurricane seems like it will be a piece of cake.

But animal-loving Bree does become alarmed when she realizes how many islanders have been cut off from their beloved pets. Now it’s up to her to save as many of Little Bridge’s cats and dogs as she can . . . but to do so, she’s going to need help—help she has no choice but to accept from her boss’s sexy nephew, Drew Hartwell, the Mermaid Café’s most notorious heartbreaker.

But when Bree starts falling for Drew, just as Little Bridge’s power is restored and her penitent ex shows up, she has to ask herself if her island fling was only a result of the stormy weather, or if it could last during clear skies too.

I have been a big fan of Meg Cabot’s adult romances for ages now. I have loved pretty much everything that I’ve read by her so I was excited to jump into this book, even though I wasn’t that wild about the novella that came out before this one did. No Judgments is the first full-length book in Meg Cabot’s new Little Bridge Island series and it features a heroine who has moved to Little Bridge Island for a fresh start and the hero that stuck around Little Bridge Island instead of evacuating as everyone else did because of the huge hurricane that is coming right for them on the island.

So Bree moved to Little Bridge Island after dropping out of law school. She works as a waitress at the local diner and dyed her hair pink. She’s moving on from a bad breakup and she’s not turning back. She’s not turning back for anything or anyone. Not the hurricane that is coming straight for her new island home and not for the rich ex-boyfriend that offered her a ride on his private plane to get her out of harm’s way. Not even when her mother calls and tries to demand that Bree gets on that private plane. Bree’s not going anywhere and neither is Drew Hartwell.

So this book tackles life before, during, and then the aftermath of a big hurricane. In the beginning, we see everyone making arrangements to get to safety, off island and then we see the folks that stuck it out on the island, try to survive at the same time that they try to save as many animals that were left behind as they could. On top of all of that, Bree is dealing with a bunch of personal issues that are pretty serious in nature. There’s a death of a loved one and then there’s a sexual assault that nobody believed happened, except Bree knows that it did and she had to get away from the people that were supposed to believe her and take her side.

So as you can see, there’s a lot of stuff to unpack in this book and I usually enjoy all the things that Meg Cabot writes but this time around, I had trouble connecting with Bree, with Drew, with them as a couple and all of the people that left their animals to fend for themselves during a big ass hurricane. I will say that Meg Cabot does a great job of describing life on Little Bridge Island. I loved the small-town feel of the island and I loved that it was a place that welcomed Bree and gave her a safe space to heal from everything that happened in her life but I thought this book was a little too light to really tackle everything that Bree went through to my liking. I’m sure that I will give the next book a try but I’m bummed that I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I hoped I would have. This one started off well but it didn’t live up to the hype I gave it so this one gets 3.25 stars from me.

Final Grade

3.25 out of 5

Little Bridge Island

three-half-stars


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Review: Heiress Gone Wild by Laura Lee Guhrke

Posted October 16, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Heiress Gone Wild by Laura Lee GuhrkeReviewer: Rowena
Heiress Gone Wild by Laura Lee Guhrke
Series: Dear Lady Truelove #4
Also in this series: The Trouble with True Love (Dear Lady Truelove #2), The Truth About Love and Dukes (Dear Lady Truelove, #1), The Trouble with True Love (Dear Lady Truelove, #2), The Trouble with True Love (Dear Lady Truelove, #2), Governess Gone Rogue (Dear Lady Truelove, #3)
Publisher: Harper Collins, Avon
Publication Date: September 24, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 384
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Dear Lady Truelove,

My ward is driving me crazy. I have to marry her off and get her out of my life. There's just one problem…

When Jonathan Deverill promised a dying friend he'd be guardian to the man's daughter, he envisioned a girl in pigtails and pinafores, a child he could leave behind in some finishing school. Problem is, his ward is actually a fully-grown, defiant beauty whose longing for romance threatens to make his guardianship a living hell.

New York heiress Marjorie McGann wants a London season and a titled husband who can help her spend the Yankee millions she's inherited, and she thinks her new British guardian is the perfect person to help her find him. But Jonathan has no intention of letting his friend's fortune be squandered. Under his watchful, protective eye, Marjorie finds romance hard to come by...until one fateful night when her own guardian's devastating kisses makes her wonder if the greatest romance of all might be right in front of her.

Heiress Gone Wild is the fourth installment in Laura Lee Guhrke’s Dear Lady Truelove series. It features Jonathan Deverill and American heiress, Marjorie McGann, as they take that long journey toward true love..with each other. I’m really enjoying this series so when this book came up for review, I knew that I was going to read it. Laura Lee Guhrke writes some fantastic historical romances and this was another fantastic historical romance for Jonathan and Marjorie.

Jonathan Deverill fled England to America to try to find himself but to also make something of himself. Now, he’s returning to England with more baggage than he planned on. When his business partner died, Jonathan became the guardian of his late partner’s daughter. A daughter that he barely found out about right before his partner died…and now that daughter has followed him to England and she’s not a young girl like he thought but a full-grown woman? Things are definitely going to get interesting. Especially since Marjorie has no plans of returning to America. Marjorie is determined to live her best life and heading back to America to pick up teaching at the school she graduated from isn’t part of her plans. She really just needs to ditch her guardian but an unexpected attraction is simmering between them and she’s at a loss as to what to do with it all.

Guhrke did a really good job with this one. I really enjoyed getting to know Jonathan front and center and I absolutely enjoyed getting to know Marjorie. I loved how strong and smart she was and how determined she was to live her life on her own terms. Sure, she was pretty naive but seeing her really grow into herself and seeing her grow into her feelings for Jonathan made for an enjoyable reading adventure.

There’s much to like about this story. Two main characters who are easy to connect with, a love that blossomed over the course of the book and a lot of dialogue that was easy to follow along with. Each scene brought this story together in a very engaging way and I’m super glad that I read it. If you’re in the mood for a slow burn kind of romance between two very lovable characters, you should definitely add this one to your TBR piles. You won’t be disappointed.

Final Grade

Grade: 4.25 out of 5

Dear Lady Truelove

four-stars


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Throwback Thursday Review: The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn.

Posted October 10, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 7 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn.Reviewer: Rowena
The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn
Series: Bridgertons #2
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: June 27, 2006
Format: Print
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 354
Add It: Goodreads
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

1814 promises to be another eventful season, but not, this author believes, for Anthony Bridgerton, London's most elusive bachelor, who has shown no indication that he plans to marry.And in truth, why should he? When it comes to playing the consummate rake, nobody does it better...—Lady Whistledown's Society Papers, April 1814

But this time, the gossip columnists have it wrong. Anthony Bridgerton hasn't just decided to marry—he's even chosen a wife! The only obstacle is his intended's older sister, Kate Sheffield—the most meddlesome woman ever to grace a London ballroom. The spirited schemer is driving Anthony mad with her determination to stop the betrothal, but when he closes his eyes at night, Kate is the woman haunting his increasingly erotic dreams...

Contrary to popular belief, Kate is quite sure that reformed rakes do not make the best husbands—and Anthony Bridgerton is the most wicked rogue of them all. Kate is determined to protect her sister—but she fears her own heart is vulnerable. And when Anthony's lips touch hers, she's suddenly afraid she might not be able to resist the reprehensible rake herself...

*** Every Thursday, we’ll be posting throwback reviews of our favorite and not-so-favorite books. Enjoy! ***

This review was originally posted on July 9, 2009.

Anthony Bridgerton is the eldest boy in the Bridgerton clan and he’s the man of the house. He’s been the man of the house since his father died of a bee sting and he took their father’s death the hardest out of all of the kids because he was the closest to his father. Edmund Bridgerton, father to the Bridgerton tribe was fairly young when he died, just 39 years old and from a bee sting of all things. Anthony has this strange thought that he’s going to die young just like his father so he’s decided that he wants to get married before his untimely demise and of course, he doesn’t want to marry someone that he’ll love because it’d be unfair for his young wife to lose the man she loves when he dies.

Yeah, I know but as silly as the set up for this book is, I did enjoy it. It’s not one of my favorites of the Bridgerton series but it is still a good story and that has a big part to do with the way that Julia Quinn tells her stories. With lots of delightful dialogue and just a whole lot of funny scenes to make stories pop right off the pages.

My favorite part of these stories is seeing the family all together. For a bunch of historical characters, they sure are delightful and not in the least stuffy like I imagine lots of historical families to be.

The scenes with Anthony and Kate made for some good reading as well though there were plenty of times that I wanted to choke Kate the hell out. Yes, I got it, she wasn’t the beauty in the family and the more she harped on this, the more I wanted to scream at her but what made her human to me was her fear of thunderstorms. I thought the scene when Anthony finds her alone and frightened and then stays with her through the thunderstorms was one of my favorite scenes in the entire book.

Overall, this book was a whole lot of fun. The characters are all three dimensional and I fell in love with each of them and it set up some great stuff for the future books in this series and I’m thinking that maybe I’ll have to write up some more reviews for this series because this series is one of those series that we don’t want to forget about with all of the new stuff coming out these days. The Bridgertons are a wonderful family and I fell in love with each of them in their books and Anthony was no different.

Anthony was a stand up hero, one that was easy to fall in love with and while I did love him, it’s his brothers that I absolutely adored. I love the relationship that they have with each other, it’s so much fun and so..real. If you haven’t read this series then you should seriously start because this series is the bomb!

Grade: 4 out of 5.

The Bridgertons

four-stars


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Joint Review: Don’t You Forget About Me by Mhairi McFarlane

Posted October 9, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Joint Review: Don’t You Forget About Me by Mhairi McFarlaneReviewer: Holly and Rowena
Don't You Forget About Me by Mhairi McFarlane
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: January 10, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Women's Fiction
Pages: 433
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-half-stars

Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom to rise again…

The hilarious new heartbreaker from Mhairi McFarlane!

If there’s one thing worse than being fired from the grottiest restaurant in town, it’s coming home early to find your boyfriend in bed with someone else.

Reeling from the indignity of a double dumping on the same day, Georgina snatches at the next job that she’s offered – barmaid in a newly opened pub, which just so happens to run by the boy she fell in love with at school: Lucas McCarthy. And whereas Georgina (voted Most Likely to Succeed in her school yearbook) has done nothing but dead-end jobs in the last twelve years, Lucas has not only grown into a broodingly handsome man, but also has turned into an actual grown-up with a business and a dog along the way.

Meeting Lucas again not only throws Georgina’s rackety present into sharp relief, but also brings a dark secret from her past bubbling to the surface. Only she knows the truth about what happened on the last day of school, and why she’s allowed it to chase her all these years…

Georgina Horspool is having a pretty awful day. She gets fired from one of the crappies restaurants in town, then goes home and finds her boyfriend in bed with someone else. But it turns out those might have been blessings in disguise, since that leads her into a job at a new pub. Except it turns out her ONE TRUE LOVE from high school, is one of the owners. Only, it turns out he doesn’t remember her. George can’t decide if she’s thrilled or heartbroken about that. As she learns from past mistakes and tries to go forward is a positive way, she finds herself falling in love with this boy all over again…

Holly: I got the audiobook so I could listen while I was at work and on my commute. I enjoyed the narrator, but she had a pretty heavy British accent that was hard to understand at times. I listened to about half, then read the rest.

What did you think?

Rowena: I read my eARC of this book so I had no problem with the accents in my head. LOL. I really enjoyed this one. Right from the jump, I was invested in what happened between Georgina and Lucas. There were parts of the book that moved slowly but for most the part, I wanted to know what happened at every turn. Sure, I wanted knee Lucas in the balls a time or two but in the end, I really liked him and Georgina together.

Holly: I wouldn’t classify this as romance. It definitely read more like women’s fiction. The book was more about Georgina’s personal journey and her relationship with Lucas was a side-note. I thought it was really slow in parts, too. The middle especially seemed to drag. But, like you, I was invested in Georgina’s journey, and wanted to see how things would turn out for her and Lucas. I really liked the way the end played out, though I didn’t fully buy into their HEA. I don’t think we saw enough on-page development of their current-time romance.

Rowena: I agree I wouldn’t call this a romance either since the focus of the book was more on Georgina’s growth as a person, finally moving on from her past.

I really loved seeing Georgina’s growth. I loved seeing her really grow into an actual relationship with her sister and her mother and then eventually, with Lucas. She had a great support system and my heart hurt for her when the people in her support group found out the truth about her past. I hurt for them all. I loved her personality and seeing her really rock it up there on stage at the open mic nights. Her Mom and sister annoyed me right up until they started supporting Georgina. I couldn’t stand the Step-Dad but loved seeing Georgina’s sister really step up when Georgina needed her to.

Holly: I couldn’t stand Georgina’s step-dad either, and I felt sorry for her mom, but I’m glad she came to a good place with her family. Especially her sister, Esther. I was pissed at her a good portion of the book, but she really came through in the end.

Man, I definitely cried at the end. Her last open mic night had all the feels.

Rowena: I agree. That last open mic night made me cry and love Georgina all the more. I’m glad that everything worked out for her in the end. She definitely deserved it and I thought Lucas handled entering her life again well.

I really connected with Georgina, right from the jump and enjoyed seeing her really come into her own. I also like Mhairi McFarlane’s writing style and enjoyed the way that she brought Georgina’s world to life. I definitely want to read more books by her.

Holly: I liked McFarlane’s writing, too, and I’ll definitely be looking for more books from her in the future.

Rowena: This one was one of my favorite reads of the month and I enjoyed it so much, I’m giving it a 4.5 out of 5. What about you?

Holly: I enjoyed it, but not as much as you did. I’m going to give it 3.75 out of 5. I really liked Georgina’s personal growth, but the romance was lacking and it was really slow in the middle.

Final Grade

Holly: 3.75 out of 5
Rowena: 4.5 out of 5

four-half-stars


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