Category: Reviews

Audiobook Review: Part-Time Lover by Lauren Blakely

Posted October 19, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 3 Comments

Audiobook Review: Part-Time Lover by Lauren BlakelyReviewer: Holly
Part-Time Lover by Lauren Blakely
Narrator: Shane East, Grace Grant
Series: Part Time Lover #2
Also in this series: Wanderlust
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: June 4, 2018
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 314
Length: 7 hours and 21 minutes
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
four-stars

A sexy new standalone romance from #1 New York Times Bestselling Author Lauren Blakely!I’ll say this about Christian — he made one hell of a first impression.When I first saw the strapping man, he was doing handstands naked on a dock along the canal. His crown jewels were far more entertaining than anything else I’d seen on the boat tour, so I did what any curious woman would do — I took his photo. I might have looked at the shot a few dozen times. Little did I know I’d meet him again, a year later, at a secret garden bar in the heart of the city, where I’d learn that his mind and his mouth were even more captivating. But given the way my heart had been trampled, I wanted only a simple deal — No strings. No expectations. Our arrangement worked well enough until the day I needed a lot more from him…

***Let me just say, this whole part-time lover thing was her idea. I’d have gone all-in from the start, but hey, when a gorgeous, brilliant woman invites you into her bed, and only her bed…well, I said yes.But then, one hysterical phone call from my brother later, begging me to find myself a wife so grandfather’s business stays in the family, and I need a promotion with Elise. Turns out a full-time husband suits her needs too, and a temporary marriage of convenience ought to do the trick, until we can simply untie the knot…

As long as no one finds out…As long as no one gets hurt…As long as no one falls in love…


But our ending was one I never saw coming.

We first met Elise and Christian in Wanderlust. There were hints of a history/relationship with them and I was anxious for more. I’m so glad I discovered this book. Though they’re mentioned in Wanderlust, the book stands alone well.

Elise and Christian had a chance meeting in Denmark. They had an obvious connection, but it didn’t work out. A year later another chance meeting brings them together in Paris. This time, they both want to explore their chemistry, but neither is looking for something long-term. They settle on a casual fling, until Christian needs to produce a wife in order to help his brother save their family company. Elise sees this as an opportunity to offer help to a friend and suggests they get married. They know the score – this is a marriage of convenience only. Though convincing their hearts may prove difficult..

This was a sweet story. I enjoyed the slow-burn romance and the way Elise and Christian’s relationship developed. The witty banter had me laughing and I thought their friendship was believable. The narrators both did an excellent job. I was pulled into the story right away and couldn’t stop listening. I loved both Elise and Christian. They were well settled into their lives and careers and knew what they wanted from both. They were both a bit gun-shy about falling in love, but based on their pasts I felt it was believable. I loved how they worked together and were so open and honest with each other right from the start.

Another stellar novel from Blakely. I just can’t get enough.

4.25 out of 5

Part Time Lover

four-stars


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Throwback Thursday Review: Summer Breeze by Catherine Anderson

Posted October 18, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Throwback Thursday Review: Summer Breeze by Catherine AndersonReviewer: Holly
Summer Breeze (Keegan-Paxton #3) by Catherine Anderson
Series: Keegan-Paxton #3
Publisher: Signet
Publication Date: January 3, 2006
Format: Print
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Historical Romance, Westerns
Pages: 421
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Goodreads
five-stars

The year is 1889, and Rachel Hollister hasn't set foot outside her house in five years. Ever since a savage attack left her family dead, she's cordoned herself off from the outside world, afraid to let anyone into her home—or into her heart. But now trouble has appeared on her doorstep—and suddenly she has no choice but to let a handsome rancher invade her well-guarded existence ...

Confirmed bachelor Joseph Paxton grudgingly offers to take up temporary residence at the Hollister ranch—even though it's obvious Rachel doesn't want his protection. But once he catches a glimpse of his beautiful young ward and her remarkable spirit, he'll do anything to break through the dark spell that's walled off her heart. It may take a miracle, but he's determined to make her see the refuge he's offering in his embrace—and the splendor that exists beyond her front door. Otherwise he'll just have to build a safe haven big enough for the both of them ...

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

While looking through old posts I came across this one for Summer Breeze by Catherine Anderson. I remember the warm, sweet feeling I was left with after I finished this book. I’m not sure it would work as well for me if I read it now, but it will always hold a special place in my heart.

This review was originally published August 7, 2006

What an amazing love story.

We all fear something. Whether we have a true phobia – such as my fear of ‘S’ words (don’t ask) – or just something that makes us break out in goosebumps, we all know what it’s like to be afraid of something.

Rachel Hollister’s fear is that of being in an open space. Her family was brutally murdered right in front of her while they were out for a picnic. As a result, she hasn’t stepped outside her home in five years.

Her faithful friend, the elderly Darby, has done everything in his power to make her a sanctuary inside her home. He barricaded all the windows and doors and converted her kitchen into as comfortable a place as possible for her.

Though Rachel knows her fears are irrational, they’re there all the same, and she can’t overcome them. She refuses to leave her small kitchen for any reason, and can’t even open a door or window to allow sunlight in. For five long years she lived in absolute silence, with no natural light.

To keep herself occupied, she read books and crocheted. She spoke with Darby through the door of her home and that was the only company she had.

Until Darby is shot in the back and manages to ride to the neighboring Paxton ranch in search of help. Joseph Paxton finds him and promises to look after Rachel. Darby is convinced his being shot has something to do with the murder of Rachel’s family and fears for her safety.

As Joseph breaks into Rachel’s home, he expects to find a crazy young woman, and instead encounters a lovely creature he’s immediately taken with. He comes to realize that Rachel isn’t crazy at all, only frightened.

Watching this story unfold has been a wonderful experience for me. Seeing Joseph do everything in his power to make Rachel’s world one filled with sunlight and birdsong really touched me.

Since Rachel’s fear is based on open spaces, Joseph hits upon the idea of installing metal doors with bars on them so she can enjoy the sunlight and still feel enclosed. Then one of the town’s populace hits upon the idea of building her a stone-walled courtyard with an iron-work ceiling so it’s completely enclosed, therefore allowing Rachel to be outside. They called it:

“Sunshine for Rachel.”

Watching Rachel emerge from her self-imposed prison and into the sunshine for the first time in five years made my heart swell and my eyes sting with tears. Joseph’s reaction to Rachel in the sunshine touched me more deeply than any other tender moment in a romance novel. I could feel their emotions as she turned her face to the sun for the first time in so many years.

She was halfway across the courtyard before it struck her that she was outside. Oh, God, outside. She staggered to a stop, frozen in her tracks. Her heart pounded violently. But nothing else happened. She could still breathe. She just felt a little dizzy and disoriented. “Joseph?”
“You’re fine, sweetheart. You’ve got walls all around you. Look at them. Name me anything that can go through that rock.”
She let her head fall back to put her face up to the sun. The gentle warmth on her skin was beyond wonderful. She held her arms wide and turned again, filling her lungs with fresh, cool morning air.

Joseph asks Rachel to marry him and the following scene is so touching. Rachel refuses him, saying she can’t have a family living the way she does.

“What would I do? Push them out the wood safe to see them off to school?” She gestured with her free hand the encompass the kitchen. “A family can’t live in one room.”
“I’ll make it work,” he whispered. “I swear to you, darlin’. I can make it work. No hallways to frighten you, just a big room like this with water closets all around, only they’ll be bedrooms, with you in the big room, living as you do now, never needing to go outside unless it’s to sit in your courtyard or work in your flower beds.”

The murder of her family was left unsolved all those years ago, and Joseph and his lawman brother David set out to find the missing pieces of the puzzle, hoping to keep Rachel safe and finally give her closure.

The story was sweet and amazing and one of the most touching I’ve read in a long time. It’s not very often that you read a murder-mystery that’s sweet and compelling as well.

I’ll leave you with my favorite quote from the book. Something Joseph said to Rachel that touched my heart.

When I first met you, I thought I was opening up the world for you, but I was so wrong. You were the one who opened up all of my windows so I could see the beauty beyond the glass.

5 out of 5

Keegan-Paxton

five-stars


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Review: The Governess Game by Tessa Dare

Posted October 18, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: The Governess Game by Tessa DareReviewer: Rowena
The Governess Game (Girl Meets Duke, #2) by Tessa Dare
Series: Girl Meets Duke #2
Also in this series: The Duchess Deal (Girl Meets Duke #1), The Duchess Deal
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: August 28, 2018
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 384
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Goodreads
four-half-stars

He’s been a bad, bad rake—and it takes a governess to teach him a lesson

The accidental governess.

After her livelihood slips through her fingers, Alexandra Mountbatten takes on an impossible post: transforming a pair of wild orphans into proper young ladies. However, the girls don’t need discipline. They need a loving home. Try telling that to their guardian, Chase Reynaud: duke’s heir in the streets and devil in the sheets. The ladies of London have tried—and failed—to make him settle down. Somehow, Alexandra must reach his heart... without risking her own.

The infamous rake.

Like any self-respecting libertine, Chase lives by one rule: no attachments. When a stubborn little governess tries to reform him, he decides to give her an education—in pleasure. That should prove he can’t be tamed. But Alexandra is more than he bargained for: clever, perceptive, passionate. She refuses to see him as a lost cause. Soon the walls around Chase’s heart are crumbling... and he’s in danger of falling, hard.

The Governess Game is the second book in Tessa Dare’s Girl Meets Duke series and it follows Emma’s (the heroine from The Duchess Deal) friend, Alexandra Mountbatten as she falls into a governess job and falls in love with the man that hired her.

Alexandra Mountbatten fixes clocks for a living and when she’s making her rounds around town, in search of new clients and that is when she found herself in the company of him. The man from the bookshop. The man that she couldn’t get out of her head. The man that she made a cake of herself in front of when she ran into him and her books went flying and she couldn’t get over how handsome he was. She was surprised to see him again after all this time and she was sorely disappointed that he didn’t remember who she was or even understand why she was at his house. When she’s offered a job as governess to his two wards, Alex isn’t interested but accepts after a really shitty day.

Chase Reynaud is at his wits end with his two young charges. He has gone through far too many governesses because they have run them out every single time. He wasn’t supposed to inherit a Dukedom but he has and he carries a lot of worries, a lot of guilt and he needs to get a governess to watch over his charges before he sends them away to boarding school. He doesn’t do relationships and for good reason, at least in his eyes but the new governess is getting under his skin and haunting his dreams and before he knows what is what, he goes from not caring for anyone to caring too much about everyone.

Tessa Dare strikes again because I absolutely adored this book. Alex and Chase were such a fabulous couple who brought out the best in each other and I just loved getting to know them. Chase was charming and he was a flirt but he grew the most over the course of this book and I loved seeing it. His feelings for Alex was a lot of back and forth but when he gets it right, he really gets it right so it was hard for me to hold all that other nonsense against him.

I know that this is only the second book in this series but I had a soft spot for Alex in the last book and that soft spot was cemented in love in this book. Alex is my favorite friend in the friend circle and I connected with her character and her circumstances and just loved that despite not having much, she wasn’t afraid of hard work to get what she wanted. She wasn’t bitter at how her life turned out and though she had reservations about being on a boat, she was still strong in my eyes. I just loved her to pieces and don’t even get me started on how much I loved how close she got to both Rosamund and Daisy.

Overall, Tessa Dare wrote a fabulous romance for two characters who had a lot to offer the other if they took that risk and boy am I glad that they did. There was a whole lot of passion, a lot of charm and so much love in this book that I happy sighed my way through each chapter. What a great book. Kudos to Tessa Dare on another job well done.

Grade: 4.75 out of 5

Girl Meets Duke

four-half-stars


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Audiobook Review: Feral Magic by Robin D. Owens

Posted October 17, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Audiobook Review: Feral Magic by Robin D. OwensReviewer: Holly
Feral Magic by Robin D. Owens
Narrator: Natasha Soudek
Publisher: TKA Distribution
Publication Date: December 18, 2012
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 96
Length: 3 hours and 47 minutes
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Goodreads
three-stars

A blue moon rises, bringing with it magic and danger to a sleeping Denver.

Brandy Svensson mourns her lost soldier fiancee and struggles to move on. Her own near-death experience has brought her an odd "gift" – she has a telepathic connection with cats. She's coping with life’s changes until the night she finds a lost jaguar cub, just the start of the greatest changes of all...

Dak, a warrior Pantherman, is alarmed when his baby nephew, the Chief of the klatch, vanishes. Dak must find the infant before his enemies do...or be branded a murderer and risk igniting warfare among the clans.

When the cub turns into a human baby, shock and confusion flood Brandy. And when a full-grown jaguar arrives to claim him, then transforms into a man, fascination sweeps through her. Dak's protective instincts are triggered by this lovely woman, and the certainty that he's followed by a killer.

Drawn together in their fight to protect the baby, Brandy and Dak confront the enemy and the final choice threatens. Will the feral magic they've discovered together save or doom them?

I was looking for a short listen for my morning commute when I came across this one. I love Owens’ HeartMates series and figured I’d give this one a listen.

Brandi wakes up one morning after a near death experience and can telepathically speak to cats. Some months later when one of her ferals tells her another cat needs her help, she isn’t as shocked as she should be to find a panther shifter cub. When his uncle shows up to get him, Brandi learns they’re from an alternate universe and enemies are after them. Together she and Dak must work together to get his nephew home in one piece.

The narrator was so.freaking.slow. I ended up listening to it at 3x speed and even then I felt like it drug on a bit. That aside, the story itself was good. It was just a short story that ended too soon, but I liked the world and the way the story developed. It ended on a cliffhanger of sorts. I’d continue reading if this turns into a series.

3.0 out of 5

three-stars


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Review: The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo by Kerrigan Byrne

Posted October 17, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo by Kerrigan ByrneReviewer: Holly
The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo (Victorian Rebels, #6) by Kerrigan Byrne
Series: Victorian Rebels #6
Also in this series: The Highlander
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks
Publication Date: August 28, 2018
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 333
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
three-stars

The bravest of heroes. The brashest of rebels. The boldest of lovers. These are the men who risk their hearts and their souls—for the passionate women who dare to love them…

He is known only as The Rook. A man with no name, no past, no memories. He awakens in a mass grave, a magnificent dragon tattoo on his muscled forearm the sole clue to his mysterious origins. His only hope for survival—and salvation—lies in the deep, fiery eyes of the beautiful stranger who finds him. Who nurses him back to health. And who calms the restless demons in his soul…

A LEGENDARY LOVE

Lorelei will never forget the night she rescued the broken dark angel in the woods, a devilishly handsome man who haunts her dreams to this day. Crippled as a child, she devoted herself to healing the poor tortured man. And when he left, he took a piece of her heart with him. Now, after all these years, The Rook has returned. Like a phantom, he sweeps back into her life and avenges those who wronged her. But can she trust a man who’s been branded a rebel, a thief, and a killer? And can she trust herself to resist him when he takes her in his arms?

The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo is the first book I’ve read in Kerrigan Byrne’s Victorian Rebels series. A friend was talking about it and it piqued my interest, so I downloaded it from NetGalley. We saw quite a few of the couples from previous books, but I don’t feel like I missed much by starting here. It read fine as a stand-alone.

Lorelie was crippled as a child and therefore rarely leaves the family estate. When she finds and rescues a young man who’s been beaten nearly to death, she finds sudden purpose for her life. Caring for him becomes everything to her. They fall in love, but he disappears without a trace. For 20 years she longs for him, until one day he returns. But the devilish pirate who returns to avenge her isn’t the same boy she once knew and loved…or is he?

I really loved the first half. The angst and emotion from both main characters really pulled me in, as did the suspense of who, exactly, the boy with the dragon tattoo was. Unfortunately the story lost me somewhere around the halfway point. I think I’d have liked to see less focus on the emotional aspects of the book and more on the action. I know, I know, that’s not something us romance readers generally want. But the purple prose of the love-scenes along with the heavy focus on the “L” word really pulled me out of the story. Plus, the amount of time spent on how each character was feeling made the story feel heavy and bogged down.

I really loved parts of it – most notably the hero’s devotion to his lady – but I’d have liked to see more focus on the outside conflict, and more action.

3 out of 5

Victorian Rebels

three-stars


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