Category: Reviews

Guest Review: Working On It by Cass Alexander

Posted March 24, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Working On It by Cass AlexanderReviewer: Tracy
Working On It by Cass Alexander
Series: The Persimmon series #1
Published by Self-Published
Publication Date: September 23rd, 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance, New Adult
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four-stars

Rebecca—The self-reigning queen of four-letter words is in trouble. She’s got it bad for the hottest guy at Persimmon College. Unfortunately, Mr. Sexy Man has a girlfriend. Too bad it doesn’t stop Rebecca from wanting him.

Evan makes his desire for Rebecca pretty obvious. Her inexperience and fear of getting hurt hold her back. Oh, and that running list of character flaws she has doesn’t help. But she’s working on it.

Evan—Rebecca Banks makes flinging insults an art form. She’s short, blonde, and the sexiest thing he’s ever laid eyes on.

Rebecca is everything Rachel—Evan’s girlfriend—isn’t. Breaking up with Rachel will be difficult. Letting go of Rebecca? Impossible. To Evan, Rebecca is f-ing perfect. She doesn’t need to work on a damned thing. Now he just needs to get her to stop running away from him.

Rebecca is a serious student but a girl who like to have fun as well.  She’s got more guy friends than girl friends and spends a lot of time at the Tau frat house across the street.  She thinks that Evan Michaels (part of Tau) is totally hot but she’s heard some pretty bad things about him over the years and tells herself to stay away.  She doesn’t, however, and is soon involved with him right after he ends things with his long-time girlfriend, Rachel.

Evan can’t get enough of Rebecca.  He loves that she’s happy almost all of the time and she makes him laugh constantly.  He especially loves the friendly insults she throws around and her potty mouth.  She’s gorgeous as well and he can’t get enough of her.  She’s nothing like his ex, Rachel, and he loves that about her.  Unfortunately Rachel’s name keeps coming up and Rebecca’s insecurities about their relationship get the best of her.

I grabbed this one off of Kindle Unlimited not quite knowing what to expect.  I’m happy to say that it totally surprised and delighted me in the end.  What I thought was going to be an angst-filled New Adult story was actually a cute romance that made me laugh out loud more than once – I loved that.

Rebecca is the kind of girl I always wanted to be when I was in college.  Relaxed and fun, lots of friends (with both guys and girls), and a good student.  I think I was one of those things – I won’t say which one. 😊  Rebecca grew up in a home where there was a ton of humor flying around and the family that actually loved and cared for one another a great deal.  There were no unrealistic expectations and you could tell how well she was loved by them in the confident way she held herself and the way she acted.  I really liked her character a lot.  I loved how she talked to herself and would go over things she wanted to work on – it just made me laugh.

“I tend to judge people inside my head, something my parents encourage me to work on since I suck at hiding my emotions on my face.  I’ll work on it later.”

Later in the book…

“I also lack a filter.  But I’m working on it. Sort of.”

I thought she was really great for Evan, she just doubted herself when it came to him.  It was a bit out of character but I could see that his experience with women intimidated her.

Evan took just a bit of time for me to get to like him.  At first I wasn’t quite sure what to make of him because it seemed like he was a player (even though he’d been with Rachel for a couple of years) and that he’d broken up with Rachel just to get with Rebecca.  When things played out we got the whole story and I understood him much better.  He also, at some points, felt like a stalker when it came to Rebecca, but that was explained eventually as well.  In the end I liked him a lot and felt that him and Rebecca were perfect for each other.

The story was hilarious at times and I loved laughing.  The story had a great mix of love, angst, laughter and sex and it just worked for me.  If you’re looking for a fun contemporary new adult romance you should pick this one up.

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars

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Review: Midnight Action by Elle Kennedy

Posted March 23, 2017 by Casee in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Midnight Action by Elle KennedyReviewer: Casee
Midnight Action by Elle Kennedy
Series: Killer Instincts #5
Also in this series: Midnight Revenge, Midnight Rescue, Midnight Alias, Midnight Games, Midnight Pursuits
Published by Signet
Publication Date: November 4th 2014
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 368
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three-half-stars

She’s got a broken heart...and a fully loaded arsenal....
Ex–army ranger Jim Morgan leads a team of elite mercenaries, but eighteen years ago in Paris, he was part of a black ops unit whose mission was to hunt down a rogue operative. In order to trap the criminal, Jim seduced Noelle, the man’s daughter—a ruthless act that cost him the love of his life and turned her into a mortal enemy. Now he can’t trust her, but he still desires her. He also needs her help....
Older, wiser, and unwilling to play the fool again, Noelle runs a group of highly skilled assassins. And she’s just been offered the hit of the century: Eliminate Jim Morgan. History gives them no reason to trust each other, but with their lives in jeopardy at the hands of a common enemy, the lines between love and hate are soon blurred. Now Noelle and Jim must face the past if they want to have a future—let alone a future together.

This is probably my least favorite book of the series. Which is surprising considering I was so fascinated by these two at the beginning of the series. By book three, I didn’t want to read their book. By book four, I was actually considering skipping it. But secondary characters run strong in this series and I couldn’t skip it. Liam and Sully. ::sigh:: Love those two. Noelle and Morgan? Not so much. They were okay, but Noelle was not my cuppa. I ended up liking her, but not loving her.

Noelle is the Queen of Assassins. She’s hardcore. A total bitch. She has no feelings. In previous books she was fucking Derek Pratt, one of Morgan’s mercs. I have to use that term because there is no other word for it. She wasn’t doing it to make Morgan jealous because they don’t feel that base of feelings for each other. They feel hate, loathing, feelings like that. Their history is deep and long. When Noelle picks up a job to assassinate a target, she is surprised that the target is Jim himself. What surprises her even more is when she goes to warn him instead of kill him. She always has known that she would one day kill him, but obviously that day isn’t today. See, that’s weird. How can you setup a couple in a book like that? These two literally want to kill each other.

Morgan is surprised that Noelle came to warn him. He hates her with a passion that surpasses everything and anything he’s ever known. He also once loved her with the same passion. Until she was responsible for taking the woman out of his life that was pregnant with his child. She doesn’t know why he’s looked for Ariana for the last 17 years. She thinks he’s in love with the woman and he’s let her think that to hurt her. When he follows her back to Paris to find who is trying to kill him, their past comes full circle.

Morgan finds his child after all these years and finally explains to Noelle that he never loved Arianna. Noelle doesn’t give a crap. She will never forgive him for pretending to love her to get to her father and then ultimately getting him killed. Morgan realizes that he wants it all, his daughter and Noelle. Noelle is having none of that. She’s not the girl that Morgan once loved. She’s ruthless, an assassin, someone that has buried her feelings under layers of ice. Ice that can’t be broken by the man that is responsible for it.

These two just rubbed me the wrong way. I don’t know why. It’s not that I didn’t like their story, because I did. It resonated with me. I felt bad for Noelle. The sex was a good read. Their feelings for each other were open and raw. Morgan really loved Noelle. There was just something off about it. Liam and Sully were my favorite part of the book. This is where their problems started and they sure didn’t end here.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

three-half-stars

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Guest Review: Madly by Ruthie Knox

Posted March 23, 2017 by Jen in Reviews | 2 Comments

Guest Review: Madly by Ruthie KnoxMadly (New York, #2) by Ruthie Knox
Also in this series: Madly
Published by Loveswept
Publication Date: March 14th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 273
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An impulsive trip to New York City, a heartthrob from London, and a scandalous to-do list turn a small-town girl’s life upside down in this sultry romance from the New York Times bestselling author of Truly and About Last Night.
Allie Fredericks isn’t supposed to be in Manhattan, hiding in the darkest corner of a hip bar, spying on her own mother—who’s flirting with a man who’s definitely not Allie’s father. Allie’s supposed to be in Wisconsin, planning her parents’ milestone anniversary party. Then Winston Chamberlain walks through the door, with his tailored suit, British accent, and gorgeous eyes, and Allie’s strange mission goes truly sideways.
Winston doesn’t do messy. But after a pretty stranger ropes him into her ridiculous family drama with a fake kiss that gets a little too real, he finds out that messy can be fun. Maybe even a little addicting. And as the night grows longer, Allie and Winston make a list of other wild things they could do together—and what seems like a mismatch leads to a genuine connection. But can their relationship survive as their real lives implode just outside the bedroom door?

I’ve been childishly whining ever since I saw that Winston Chamberlain was the hero of Madly, about how it made me nervous because I couldn’t stand him. He appeared in another of Knox’s books, About Last Night, and he was cruel to his brother, selfish, and so, so uppity. It didn’t help that I positively hated the ending of that book, too, though that had nothing to do with Winston. (You don’t need to read that book first, and frankly it’s probably better if you don’t so you don’t end up with preconceived notions like I did.) Allie also wasn’t entirely my favorite when she appeared in her sister’s book, Truly. I mention all this because if you hadn’t already heard my whining, you should know about my prior feelings; they are part of understanding what I liked and didn’t like about Madly.

Madly takes place four years after the events of About Last Night. Winston has since gotten divorced and moved from London to New York City to be near his college-age daughter and to work in the NYC location of his aristocratic family’s bank. It’s also been a little under a year since the events of Truly, when Allie Fredericks dumped her fiance on their wedding day. Allie has impulsively come from her home in Manitowoc, WI to New York following her mom, who she suspects is having a long term affair with a New York artist. When she bumps into Winston in a bar, he starts helping her track down her mom.

First off, while I was concerned about how Knox would redeem Winston, I’m happy to say I was satisfied. We don’t see Winston’s transformation in Madly, but Winston has indeed undergone a transformation since his low point in About Last Night when he tried to blackmail his brother Nev and tear down Nev’s love interest, Cath. We also learn that Winston’s marriage had been a mess at the time, and he tried to force his life, and his ex-wife, into some predefined shape he thought was the “right one” for a man of his position. When that all fell apart, he realized how wrong it was, both for himself and everyone around him. You get the sense that he’s spent the last years trying his best to simply be kind to everyone around him. He’s mostly patched things up with Nev and Cath, though there’s still some residual tension, and he’s trying to be a good dad to his daughter, Bea, without smothering her or forcing her into a box like he did with her mother. However, in trying so hard to make up for the past and give everyone space, he’s kind of forgotten what he wants or needs. He isn’t unhappy exactly, but at the start of the book he spends the bulk of his time watching Netflix and waiting for Bea to occasionally give him a few minutes of her time. Rinse, Repeat. When Allie storms into his life, it brings a lightness and fun that he obviously forgot he was capable of. I kind of can’t believe I’m saying this but…I actually liked seeing Winston come back to life a bit!

Family, with all the messy, complex, and overwhelming emotions that implies, is a huge theme in so many of Knox’s books, this one included. The Chamberlain’s family drama mostly happened in About Last Night and the intervening years, so this book focuses on the Fredericks. The family is kind of imploding around Allie, and she’s fighting to figure out what to do about it. There was a point in the book where I actually wanted to put it down because it was a little too much. Maybe it’s because of some people I know who are going through their own hard family dramas that things felt a little too real, but I think most of us have had hurtful family secrets or loved ones who profoundly disappointed us. It was almost too painful to read about what might happen. (As a parent, the interactions between Winston and Bea were also sweet but a little hard to read. He loves her so much but is afraid to hold on too tightly, but he can see her growing up and pulling away anyway…ugh, who is chopping onions in here?) I pushed on, though, and was rewarded with a thoroughly happy ending. It was perhaps unrealistically happy, but I can’t complain because wouldn’t we all like our own messy family problems to end so happily?

While Winston was redeemed, though, I never thoroughly warmed to Allie. She felt a bit inconsistent, first of all. She’s supposed to be so flighty and impulsive, but other than flying to New York on a whim I didn’t really see that. She mostly just felt…opinionated, which is fine but not the same thing. She says she wants to take care of everyone and feels like it’s on her to hold things together, but she kept running away when things got hard. She was not particularly kind to Winston (and geez, no one is more surprised than me that I’m saying that, haha) when all he did was love and support her from the start. In general, she acts pretty self absorbed and a little immature throughout the book, and it got on my nerves by the end. This is some of what bothered me about her in Madly, too, and I was disappointed to see that unlike Winston, she hadn’t changed much between books. Moreover, I wasn’t quite sure whether she had really had a transformation by the end of this book either. Sure, some of her family issues were resolved, but had Allie herself changed? When I thought about that question at the end of the book all I could come up with was…probably? I think so? I believed she was good with Winston, but in my mind she wasn’t ready for the implied HEA, not quite yet at least.

This was a complicated book full of big themes and big emotions, and I admire that Knox never shies away from tackling complicated human beings. Plus, it is full of funny, lovely dialog, and it’s very sexy. (And boy I could write paragraphs about the awesome and complex sex scenes in this book because I have so many thoughts. There’s a “list”, sex toys, lots of sex that’s not just PinV, orgasm isn’t always the goal…such good stuff, but go read and judge for yourself!) It made me think, and it was a great read.

Grade: 4 out of 5

*I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.

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Retro-Review: Mr. Cavendish, I Presume by Julia Quinn

Posted March 22, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 19 Comments

Retro-Review: Mr. Cavendish, I Presume by Julia QuinnReviewer: Rowena
Mr. Cavendish, I Presume by Julia Quinn
Series: Two Dukes of Wyndham #2
Published by Avon
Publication Date: September 30th 2008
Genres: Historical, Romance
Pages: 370
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four-half-stars

THERE WENT THE BRIDE ...
Amelia Willoughby has been engaged to the Duke of Wyndham for as long as she can remember. Literally. A mere six months old when the contracts were signed, she has spent the rest of her life waiting. And waiting. And waiting ... for Thomas Cavendish, the oh-so-lofty duke, to finally get around to marrying her. But as she watches him from afar, she has a sneaking suspicion that he never thinks about her at all ...
It's true. He doesn't. Thomas rather likes having a fiancee --- all the better to keep the husband-hunters at bay --- and he does intend to marry her ... eventually. But just when he begins to realize that his bride might be something more than convenient, Thomas's world is rocked by the arrival of his long-lost cousin, who may or may not be the true Duke of Wyndham. And if Thomas is not the duke, then he's not engaged to Amelia. Which is the cruelest joke of all, because this arrogant and illustrious duke has made the mistake of falling in love ... with his own fiancee!

*****As part of our 10 year anniversary celebration, we’ll be re-posting old reviews that make us cringe, laugh or sigh all over again.

This is the second book in the Two Dukes of Wyndham series. The first story follows the long lost son of John Cavendish, Jack Audley. John died before he could become the Duke, leaving his younger brother the Duke. Years later, John’s son, Jack tries to rob the Dowager Duchess of Wyndham who recognizes him as her grandson. John was the Dowager Duchess’ favorite son so she did everything she could to make sure that Jack became the true duke of Wyndham. The first book follows Jack and the Dowager Duchess’ ladiesmaid Grace while this book follows the other Duke, the acting Duke of Wyndham, Thomas Cavendish.

Thomas was made the Duke when he was very young and so being the Duke of Wyndham was all he knew, it was all that he was. So then this new guys comes in and might be the true Duke of Wyndham which means that everything he knows and everything he is will be stripped from him and in this book, we find out how he deals with it. The first book shows us Jack’s point of view. We see the story unfold and we’re in one duke’s head. This story tells us the same exact story, only in the other’s duke’s head.

When I was reading the first book, I often wondered what Thomas was thinking, why he did certain things he did. Reading the first book with all of these questions about Thomas made for some frustration moments but all of my questions were answered in this book and even though it was the exact same story, I really enjoyed it.

I wasn’t a big fan of Thomas in the first book. I liked him well enough but for me, it was all about Jack. The same could be said for Amelia. I wasn’t a big fan of hers, for me it was all about Grace but I can say with all certainty that I’m a fan of both of theirs now.

I really enjoyed both of their characters. In the first book, we don’t get to see much of what they’re thinking, what they’re feeling so it was really easy for me to overlook them but in this book, I got to know them, I grew to like them and I’m so glad to have the whole story in front of me. My nosy self is very happy right now. =)

I really enjoyed Thomas’ character. He was such a stand up guy, a very honorable man and I found myself growing to like him more and more. To have everything he was and everything he lived for stripped away from him by a long lost family member that he never knew existed had to have hit him like a freight train but he handled himself in such a way that blew my mind. He could have gone along with Jack but because of the kind of man he was, he didn’t. He almost lost the woman that he had come to love by giving up the title but he did what was needed to be done and then he made sure that Jack would honor his word, so that Amelia didn’t have to worry about her future.

So sweet.

The only thing I didn’t quite understand was why he waited so long to marry Amelia but whatever, he fell in love with her and that’s all that matters to me.

Amelia’s character kinda got on my nerves in the first book but I couldn’t fault her for being the way she was, she was engaged to be married and her fiance’ knew nothing about her. He didn’t care to get to know her and he completely ignored her. He kept saying that he would marry her but year after year after year she stayed unmarried. Having gotten to know her a lot more in this book, it made me like her so much more than I thought I would. I loved the way that she was with her sisters and I loved the way that she was with Grace and then how she stood by Thomas, I really liked that. She was a great heroine and the perfect match for Thomas.

This book was like getting the other pieces of the puzzle and putting them in place. Everything made sense and everything was made whole. It was a great story with great characters and I liked how even though I hecka loved Jack and Grace and loved seeing them again, I loved how JQ didn’t make them so great in this book that they took away from Thomas and Amelia. It was the perfect mixture of everything I loved about both couples and I really enjoyed it.

I still hated the grandmother, she was still a horrid grandmother and that didn’t change in this book, I didn’t care for Amelia’s father but they didn’t matter in the big scheme of things. What mattered was that Thomas was a great hero and Amelia turned out to be a fantastic heroines. I loved the scene at the end when Grace and Amelia, pissed as all hell start swapping curses, that was too funny. I really enjoyed this book and thought it was a great sequel.

Fans of JQ should definitely read this, it’s a good one.

four-half-stars

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Guest Review: Live Wire by Caisey Quinn

Posted March 22, 2017 by Jen in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Live Wire by Caisey QuinnReviewer: Jen
Live Wire (Nashville's Finest, #1) by Caisey Quinn
Series: Nashville's Finest #1
Published by InterMix
Publication Date: March 7th 2017
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
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three-half-stars

Caisey Quinn—author of the Neon Dreams romances—delivers the debut novel in an explosive new romantic suspense series...

HE’S NOT AFRAID OF ANYTHING…

Explosive ordinance disposal specialist Chase Fisk never breaks a sweat defusing even the most complicated of explosives. So when a homicidal maniac threatens to set off military-grade IEDs during Nashville’s largest music festival, Chase is the man to take him down. But with the reappearance of a woman he thought was long dead, everything he thought he knew is blown away.

EXCEPT LOSING HER AGAIN.

FBI operative Vivien Montgomery is an enigma to everyone around her. So when a deadly threat lands her in Nashville and paired up with the only man she’s ever loved, she isn’t looking forward to an emotional reunion. She’s only here to get the job done and get out. But when the madman behind the chaos targets her for death, the one man she left behind might be the only person she can count on to save her life...

When the book opens, Chase Fisk is simply going through the motions of his life in the Nashville PD, and that’s the way it’s been since the love of his life, Vivien, died four years ago. Only, it turns out she didn’t actually die. When FBI agent Vivien Montgomery comes to Nashville to help Chase’s department stop a terrorist attack, she obviously can’t avoid Chase finding out she’s very much alive. Despite the hurt feelings and secrets, Chase and Vivien have to work together to put the past behind them and prevent a major terrorist attack.

In case it’s not clear from that summary, Chase and Vivien have a wee bit of baggage. Chase was nearly broken after Vivien’s death, and he has been a haunted man living a shell of a life ever since. Worse, he was inadvertently injured in the staged blast that supposedly took Vivien’s life, and the injuries ended his military career and have left him with a condition that could end his work in explosive ordinance disposal. In short, her fake death severely MESSED HIM UP, physically and emotionally. He is understandably both confused and enraged when she simply shows up in Nashville unannounced. She does have valid reasons, or at least understandable reasons, for never telling Chase she was alive, and I could accept that part of the story. But to be honest, I really wasn’t thrilled with how Vivien handled the whole thing. I realize she didn’t get much advance notice that she was going to Nashville, but to simply show up without a single warning to Chase was frankly a pretty jerky move. Even if she had just arranged to meet with him privately to break the news, instead of doing it in front of all their coworkers, it would have made me a bit more sympathetic. She doesn’t seem to quite understand why he’s really angry, either, at least at first. (She does get it eventually, thank goodness.) I would have liked a little more grovel or at least sensitivity from her.

Despite how she handled her reunion with Chase, I did enjoy this story quite a bit. The terrorism plot is interesting and compelling, and the cast of secondary characters is great. I am especially excited about Luke and Annalise, who I presume will be the couple in the next book. Their chemistry was already electric and we’ve only just met them! I also really liked Chase and Vivien as a couple. For the most part, Chase respected Vivien’s skills and autonomy, even though he was completely (understandably) terrified of losing her again. He isn’t great at sharing his feelings, but he realizes that their relationship can never work without openness, and he makes a concerted effort to get over his manly emotional constipation. Once she finally got over her own hurt feelings, Vivien was a great partner for Chase, too. She was protective and concerned about his feelings, and she went all in. They had steamy chemistry, and I enjoyed reading about them.

The book did feel a bit uneven in parts. Some portions plodded a little, and there wasn’t as much of a sense of urgency as one might expect in the face of a major terrorist attack. The pace of the relationship was also kind of odd, as they moved from a seemingly insurmountable conflict to mostly smooth reuniting relatively quickly. They did it by talking openly and honestly, which was great. It was just a little hard to believe that there would be no real aftereffects of the last four years. Heck, they were both profoundly changed by the experience! While they did take time to get to know each other again, I just had some trouble accepting that they could rebuild trust that quickly. I wanted to see some of the bumps along the way.

Even with the problems, I definitely enjoyed this new story line and new-to-me voice.

Grade: 3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars

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