Category: Reviews

Review: Devil’s Daughter by Lisa Kleypas

Posted February 19, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Devil’s Daughter by Lisa KleypasReviewer: Rowena
Devil's Daughter (The Ravenels #5) by Lisa Kleypas
Series: The Ravenels #5
Also in this series: Cold-Hearted Rake, Devil in Spring, Devil in Spring, Hello Stranger, Devil in Spring (The Ravenels, #3)
Publisher: Harper Collins, Avon
Publication Date: February 19, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 384
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
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four-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

New York Times bestselling author Lisa Kleypas delivers a scintillating tale of a beautiful, young widow who finds passion with the one man she shouldn't...

Although beautiful young widow Phoebe, Lady Clare, has never met West Ravenel, she knows one thing for certain: he's a mean, rotten bully. Back in boarding school, he made her late husband's life a misery, and she'll never forgive him for it. But when Phoebe attends a family wedding, she encounters a dashing and impossibly charming stranger who sends a fire-and-ice jolt of attraction through her. And then he introduces himself...as none other than West Ravenel.

West is a man with a tarnished past. No apologies, no excuses. However, from the moment he meets Phoebe, West is consumed by irresistible desire...not to mention the bitter awareness that a woman like her is far out of his reach. What West doesn't bargain on is that Phoebe is no straitlaced aristocratic lady. She's the daughter of a strong-willed wallflower who long ago eloped with Sebastian, Lord St. Vincent—the most devilishly wicked rake in England.

Before long, Phoebe sets out to seduce the man who has awakened her fiery nature and shown her unimaginable pleasure. Will their overwhelming passion be enough to overcome the obstacles of the past?

Only the devil's daughter knows...

This was definitely one of my most anticipated releases of 2019 and I’m SO glad to report that West and Phoebe’s story was just as wonderful as I was hoping. Lisa Kleypas captured West’s humor and Phoebe’s hesitation to move on from her late husband in such a beautiful way that I ate this book up in one sitting. I didn’t want to put this book down, it was that good for me. There were times during the reading of this book that I would pause and just grin like a lovesick school girl because I was just so happy with West and with Phoebe and her little boys.

So the story starts off with Phoebe and her family arriving at West’s home for her brother’s wedding to his cousin, Pandora. West runs his brother’s estate so when he runs into Phoebe and her young son, Justin, he’s intrigued because she’s beautiful and then he’s even more curious because she seems to instantly hate him. Sure, his reputation is complete trash and normally he’d prefer to keep his distance from others but he enjoyed their little introduction and was low key bummed that that’s probably all they’ll get. Of course, that’s not all they get and the more time they spend together, the more Phoebe realizes that there’s more to the bully she remembers from her late husband’s letters, and she really likes the more.

Holy cow, Lisa Kleypas did such a great job of writing this romance. There was humor and characters that melted my heart and older characters that I was thrilled to see and hear about after all this time. A lot of Phoebe’s family are characters that are near and dear to my heart. Hearing about Simon and Annabelle Hunt again, then Matt and Daisy from Scandal in Spring, gah, even Lillian and Markus from It Happened One Autumn made me so happy. I loved that Kleypas captured the closeness of Phoebe and her family. They were a huge part of her life and so they were in the story quite a bit, which is as it should be. I also thought that Kleypas did a great job of including everyone in the story without them stealing the thunder that is the romance between West and Phoebe because though I loved seeing and hearing about everyone, I was there for West, Phoebe and the boys.

I loved that West had finally found his place and his person. After so many books of West working so hard for his family and for the tenants on Devon’s estate, seeing him downplay all of that hard work, it was very fulfilling for me to see his family acknowledge his hard work and acknowledge their love and appreciation for West being in their lives. Then you add Phoebe and her boys and seeing the relationship he develops with them, gah, there was just so much goodness here.

My one and only gripe with this book was that I felt the ending was a bit rushed. Everything wrapped up so quickly that I blinked and we went from West not thinking he deserved Phoebe and the boys to, BOOM, happy ending. I might be a greedy wench that is just thirsty for more but it’s how I felt. I loved the rest of the book too much to harp on about the ending because dude, this book was flat out good. If you’re looking for a romance that will make you laugh, pick this one up. If you’re looking for a romance with a couple who bring the steam and the chemistry, pick this one up. If you’re looking for a romance that is big on family, pick this one up. This has it all so you won’t be disappointed.

Grade: 4.75 out of 5

The Ravenels

four-half-stars


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Review: Never Deal with Dragons by Lornenda Christensen

Posted February 18, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Never Deal with Dragons by Lornenda ChristensenReviewer: Holly
Never Deal with Dragons by Lorenda Christensen
Narrator: Leslie Bellair
Series: Never Deal with Dragons #1
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: July 22, 2013
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Romance Package
Point-of-View: First
Genres: Paranormal Romance, Fantasy
Pages: 209
Length: 7 hours and 40 minutes
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three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Consoling a sobbing dragon and serving pig buffets are just part of the job for Myrna Banks. Working for a mediation firm, it's her job to get humans compensated for damages caused by the dragons who now rule. But her "typical" day is interrupted by Trian Chobardan, an old flame who sneaked out of her bed two years ago, taking her heart and a handful of classified documents with him.

Myrna would love to show Trian the door, but he's been sent by North America's reigning dragon lord for help negotiating a truce with a powerful rival to avert war. Myrna agrees to help, even though she'll be stuck with Trian as a partner.

As the two work together, Myrna finds Trian to be surprisingly supportive—and still irresistibly attractive. Though her brain tells her not to forget his betrayal, her body feels differently. When they learn the enemy dragon lord is planning something no one could have imagined, Myrna has to learn who she can trust before she loses not only her heart, but her life.

Never Deal with Dragons is the first book in Lorenda Christensen’s Never Deal with Dragons series. This was an impulse grab from the Audible Romance Package. It’s currently $1.99 for Kindle. It grabbed me from the start. Leslie Bellair narrated and did an excellent job. She made it easy to fall into the story.

Myrna works for a mediation firm in a post-apocalyptic future society where technology has basically been wiped out and dragons rule the earth. She settles disputes between humans and dragons. When her ex stole some sensitive documents from her a year ago, her fast-track to the top career came to a screeching halt. Now she’s stuck working as assistant to an incompetent creep, with no end in sight. She isn’t too happy to see her ex when he shows back up. Especially when she realizes he’s really the head of security for the Dragon in charge of North America – a position he held when they were together, though she didn’t know it. That isn’t the only thing she didn’t know…Trian is hiding a pretty big secret. One he never wants her to find out…

I really liked Myrna. She was strong, competent and full of snark. The world was really interesting and drew me in right from the start. These aren’t dragon shifters – they’re actual dragons who only have one form. They were accidentally created in a lab during World War III (yes, 3). They’ve risen to the top of the food chain and now rule in seven different territories. While I enjoyed the fresh take on an old theme, I did struggle a bit to catch up. The world felt very much like our own today, except there was a lack of technology – including electricity, etc. While we were told about this, I didn’t really see evidence of it in the writing. In that case, I believe it was a tell, not show. Still, I can’t deny I was interested in finding out more about the world and how humans and dragons learned to co-exist.

I did struggle with the romance. I didn’t really feel a true connection between Myrna and Trian. I never truly understood the deep emotional connection between Trian and Mryna. They had physical chemistry, but why they loved each other remains a mystery to this reader (listener?). The second half got bogged down with a suspense plot I wasn’t all that interested in. The narrator kept me invested in the story, but I’d rather have had more of the romance (and definitely more grovel from Trian!) than we got.

Still and all, this was a light, enjoyable read. I’m looking forward to the second book.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Never Deal with Dragons

three-half-stars


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Review: The Risk by Elle Kennedy

Posted February 18, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: The Risk by Elle KennedyReviewer: Rowena
The Risk (Briar U #2) by Elle Kennedy
Series: Briar U #2
Also in this series: The Chase (Briar U, #1)
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: February 18, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Genres: New Adult
Pages: 392
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

A sexy standalone novel from New York Times and international bestselling author Elle Kennedy. THE RISK takes you back to the world of hot hockey players, feisty heroines, bro banter, and steamy scenes...

Everyone says I’m a bad girl. They’re only partly right—I don’t let fear rule me, and I certainly don’t care what people think. But I draw the line at sleeping with the enemy. As the daughter of Briar’s head hockey coach, I’d be vilified if I hooked up with a player from a rival team.

And that’s who Jake Connelly is. Harvard’s star forward is arrogant, annoying, and too attractive for his own good. But fate is cruel—I require his help to secure a much-coveted internship, and the sexy jerk isn’t making it easy for me.

I need Connelly to be my fake boyfriend.

For every fake date…he wants a real one.

Which means this bad girl is in big trouble. Nothing good can come from sneaking around with Jake Connelly. My father would kill me, my friends will revolt, and my post-college career is on the line. But while it’s getting harder and harder to resist Jake’s oozing sex appeal and cocky grin, I refuse to fall for him.

That’s the one risk I’m not willing to take.

The Risk is the second book in Elle Kennedy’s Briar U series and it features our favorite smart ass Brenna from The Chase and the enemy, Jake Connelly. I have been looking forward to reading Brenna’s story since we first met her in Summer and Fitz’ story. She has a sparkly personality that I wanted to know more and Jake was just as wonderfully charming as I hoped he would be.

Brenna’s Dad is the coach for the Briar University’s hockey team. Jake Connelly is the star player for the Harvard hockey team. They’re going to face each other in their conference finals so tempers are high and the very last thing that Brenna needs is to get involved with Jake, of all people…but when an internship is on the line, she needs Jake to help her land this and so she asks him to do her a solid by going on a fake date with her and he agrees but only if she’ll go on a real date with him for every fake date they go on.

The chemistry was pretty strong between these two in The Chase so I was not at all surprised when we found out that Jake was Brenna’s hero. I thought that they would be pretty good together but I was wrong because they were freaking perfect for each other. I really loved seeing them battle wits and grow close with each passing page. I’m telling you guys, Elle Kennedy does great dialogue. The dialogue between her characters always feels natural and that’s something that I appreciate because not everyone can do it well and it takes me out of the story every time that I read bad dialogue. I was wrapped up in Brenna and Jake’s bubble from beginning to end. They had me laughing, sighing and just feeling all of the feels. I loved seeing them go from strangers attracted to each other to confiding their secret confidences with each other. Brenna didn’t trust easy and seeing her open up to Jake was just so rewarding for me. I loved it.

There was a part of the story where I wanted to knee Jake in the nuts but man does he make up for pissing me off and I was low key mad at Brenna for forgiving him so quickly but like Bren, I got over it and gosh, he was just…swoon I’m not even gonna lie, during the big Briar vs. Harvard game, I was low key Team Harvard…

Sorry, Briar folks but next book, I’ll definitely be Team Briar U again. LOL.

This book was everything I was hoping it would be. Elle Kennedy brought her A-Game with this one and I was so here for everything going on. I loved getting to know both Brenna and Jake. I loved seeing Brenna and her father work on their issues that they had with each other. I loved seeing Jake’s parents come out and support him, but also acknowledge that they should have supported him more. I wish we’d gotten more from Brenna’s other friends, Audrey and Elisa. I wanted to see more Hazel too until we got more Hazel and then I wanted her gone. LOL.

Overall, this bomb was the bomb. Elle Kennedy delivers a modern New Adult romance that will rock all of your socks, I just know it. Hell yes, you should read this one.

Grade: 4.5 out of 5

Briar U

four-stars


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Review: Free by Kristen Ashley

Posted February 15, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Free by Kristen AshleyReviewer: Holly
Free by Kristen Ashley
Series: Chaos MC #6
Also in this series: Own the Wind (Chaos, #1), Own the Wind, Ride Steady, Ride Steady, Walk Through Fire, Walk Through Fire, Walk Through Fire
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: January 29, 2019
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating First and Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 570
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
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two-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Through good times, bad times and times of war, Cole “Rush” Allen grew up in the Chaos Motorcycle Club. Along this journey, he watched his father, Tack, and his MC brothers fight, sweat, bleed and die to steer the Club to legitimacy.

And they’ve got one more battle on their hands.

A battle they have to win.

But when Rush meets the woman who put herself right in the thick of it, he knows he has to stop at nothing to get her out.

Rebel Stapleton has lost someone she loves to murder and she’s the kind of woman who’s going to do something about it. She puts her career on the line, and her life, to bring the man who did it to justice.

That is, she does this until Rush Allen intervenes.

Chaos is at war and they’re about to face the ultimate showdown. They’ll have to negotiate skeletons from the past, enemies becoming allies, and loved ones in the line of fire on their ride to be…

Free.

Free is the 6th and final book in the Chaos MC series by Kristen Ashley. I’ve been anxiously awaiting Rush’s book, since 1) I wanted to see how things were cleared up with their long-time rivals and 2) I loved Rush in earlier books and wanted to see where he was going to take things. We hadn’t met his heroine prior to this book, so she was an unknown.

Cole “Rush” Allen is a member of the Chaos MC. His dad, Tack, is the current president. Tack really cleaned the club up and mostly brought them into the light, but Rush wants to finish the job and get them completely away from anything even remotely illegal. With several old enemies and a couple new ones making themselves known, that’s harder than it seems. Especially since bodies keep piling up – and literal skeletons are floating around. When he meets Rebel Singleton, he knows immediately that he wants her. But Rebel is playing a dangerous game – going undercover in a porn op to find dirt on a mobster – and Rush doesn’t want her wrapped up in that mess. Convincing her to walk away and keeping her safe may be more than he can handle…

It took me forever to read this book. There were so many point-of-view changes and unnecessary content, it didn’t hold my attention. I don’t know why we needed to see so much from so many different characters. We had chapters from 3 villains, 2 extra characters who ended up dying, several characters from previous books and a couple surprise ones at the end. At 570 pages, this novel was already a beast. If half of that had been cut back, it would have been better for it.

I haven’t cared much for Benito Valenzuela’s (the mobster guy) storyline throughout this series. He’s a pretty ridiculous villain and I had little interest in seeing how things played out with him. Nothing we saw about him or from him in this book changed my mind. I don’t even know why the final bit from his POV was included in the epilogue. It was ridiculous.

I enjoyed Rush and Rebel as a couple, and I actually really liked the secondary storyline with Beck, but the rest was pretty ridiculous. I’m not going to lie, I’m disappointed this is how the series ended.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Chaos


two-stars


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Review: From Lukov, with Love by Mariana Zapata

Posted February 14, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: From Lukov, with Love by Mariana ZapataReviewer: Rowena
From Lukov with Love by Mariana Zapata
Narrator: Callie Dalton, Teddy Hamilton
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: February 1, 2018
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Romance Package
Point-of-View: First
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 524
Length: 14 hours, 55 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2019 A-Z Reading Challenge, Rowena's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-half-stars

If someone were to ask Jasmine Santos to describe the last few years of her life with a single word, it would definitely be a four-letter one.

After seventeen years—and countless broken bones and broken promises—she knows her window to compete in figure skating is coming to a close.

But when the offer of a lifetime comes in from an arrogant idiot she’s spent the last decade dreaming about pushing in the way of a moving bus, Jasmine might have to reconsider everything.

Including Ivan Lukov.

I had a really quiet weekend at home so I listened to a couple of audiobooks and this was the first of them. I have enjoyed pretty much all of the Mariana Zapata books that I’ve read so far and that didn’t change with this one. I adored Ivan Lukov and loved getting to know Jasmine Santos, or as Ivan referred to her, “Meatball”. I really enjoyed their banter back and forth and the way that they bickered with each other over everything under the sun. They had that hate vibe going pretty strong for a good chunk of this book and I was so here for it.

We hear this book through Jasmine’s POV so early on, we are not fans of Ivan Lukov. He’s arrogant and an asshole and he gives not one shit that he pisses Jasmine off. In fact, he seems to enjoy pissing her off. Jasmine and Ivan are professional ice skaters who skate doubles but at the moment, they don’t have partners so when Ivan approaches Jasmine to skate with him for a year, she balks because, hell no. She doesn’t even like this punk ass…but holy cow, Ivan presents an opportunity for Jasmine to go after the dream that has been out of her reach since her last partner left her in the most humiliating way possible. He is giving her a chance to win with him, a decorated Olympian in her corner and even though she doesn’t trust him, she’s in. OMG, she’s in.

A huge chunk of this story is told while Jasmine and Ivan are practicing. They have a lot of work to do in not a lot of time so immediately, they get to work. They practice and practice and practice and when they’re not practicing, they hang out and they become friends. They still bicker back and forth but there isn’t the edge of hate surrounding it so it’s easier for the two of them to be around each other. Jasmine doesn’t have a lot of friends but one of her best friends is Ivan’s sister and while Jasmine’s family knew and loved the sister, they didn’t know Ivan but Ivan becomes more than Jasmine’s partner in the short time that they’ve become partners. He’s become her best friend and what a ride it was, seeing them come full circle with each other.

This was such a fun romance. I thought Mariana Zapata did such a fine job of bringing Jasmine and Ivan together. They came so far with each other and when they finally get together, it was so satisfying and I absolutely loved that their bickering didn’t end when they both realized that they loved each other. They kept right on bickering over every little thing because they could. Because that was their way.

There were times when I thought Jasmine was really stubborn and shouldn’t have been but when all was said and done, I really liked her. I liked her smart mouth and prickly personality. I loved the way that she was with Ivan, with her siblings and with her Mom. My heart hurt for her where things were concerned with her father but I thought Zapata did well in making us understand her way of thinking and I loved that she wanted to be better for her family. Everything that she went through in her life humbled her and I loved that she knew that she was going to get it right this time around when she makes the decision to partner up with Ivan.

Then there was Ivan. swoon I wanted to kick him in the nuts for a good chunk of the beginning of the book but when he wins me over, he completely won me over. Getting to know him was such a treat and seeing him with all of his pets and then seeing him with Jasmine and coming to realize how much Jasmine meant to him? Gah, I was a sucker for all of it. I was a sucker for him. Gah, he was a great hero and this was a great romance. I’m not the biggest fan of professional ice skating but I’ll be watching the next Winter Olympics just so that I can picture Ivan and Jasmine skating around and winning shit.

Mariana Zapata delivers another fabulous contemporary romance featuring two ice skating champs that I really enjoyed. I should also mention that I really loved the narrators for this audiobook. Kudos to Callie Dalton and Teddy Hamilton. I loved that Teddy Hamilton read for the parts of Ivan and that Callie Dalton read for most of the book since the book was in Jasmine’s POV. The entire story flowed so well with the two of them narrating and it made for a very enjoyable reading experience. I definitely recommend this one to everyone.

Grade: 4.25 out of 5

four-half-stars


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