Author: Lauren Dane

Throwback Thursday Review: Inside Out by Lauren Dane

Posted April 12, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 3 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: Inside Out by Lauren DaneReviewer: Holly
Inside Out by Lauren Dane
Series: Brown Family #3
Also in this series: Drawn Together
Published by Berkley Trade
Publication Date: November 2, 2010
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 306
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars


WORTH THE WAIT

Ella Tipton is a survivor. In the wake of an attack that nearly left her dead, she has spent each day putting her life back together. Once vibrant and outgoing, she's needed to reclaim the best parts of who she was while retaining the hard-won lessons. There hasn't been room for any romantic entanglements, even if she were ready. Still, it doesn't mean she has to stop sneaking looks at Mister Tall, Dark and Tattooed himself.

Security professional Andrew Copeland isn't quite sure when his jones for the lovely and decidely skittish Ella developed. He's known her for years, has watched her triumph over the pain she's been dealt. Cope is no stranger to women, but he knows the nervous flush he gets every time he talks to Ella is different from any attraction he's had in the past. Determined to get Ella to let him in, Cope does the one thing he can think of to get close: he offers her hands-on training in self-defense.

While Ella's sure Cope is just being nice, the prospect of being able to touch him and and gain the tools to push away the last vestiges of her fear is more than she can resist. Soon enough, Cope shows Ella his feelings are far more than friendly, and he reignites something deep inside her. It isn't long before desire and love turn them both inside out.

Every Thursday in 2018, we’ll be posting throwback reviews of our favorite and not-so-favorite books.

This review was originally posted on December 14, 2010.

The first time I read this book I was left feeling a little disappointed. While the other two books were slow moving in parts, I found this one to be rather slow from beginning to end. I kept wanting..something. Some kind of culmination or showdown. Upon re-reading the book, however, I was much more satisfied. I really liked the slow slide the characters took into love. This series is about real people finding real love. So it wasn’t dramatic or crazy. That took some getting used to.

I adored Ella and Cope both separately and as a couple. They had amazing chemistry and really got each other. They were both willing to look past the surface and see the real person inside. Because of Ella’s past, I expected most of the conflict, or hesitation, to come from her. She was in an abusive relationship and suffered greatly for it. We watched her recover slowly through the previous books, but I expected she’d still have some baggage.


So it was kind of a surprise to see that Cope was the one with the issues. Sure, Ella suffers still because of her past, but she made a decision not to let her past rule her life, and aside from a few bumps here and there, she’s stuck by that. She’s fairly well adjusted, and works hard to confront her fears. It was wonderful to see such a well-adjusted character come out of something so tragic. 


Cope’s issues weren’t the result of a tragedy. They were just insecurities that come from never quite measuring up to his perfect older brother. That’s not to say he didn’t love his family and get along with them, because he did. He just didn’t feel like he was quite good enough. He definitely recognized what a gem Ella was, and didn’t hesitate to snatch her up.  I think the depth of his feelings took him by surprise and he wasn’t sure how to deal with them. I loved that Ella didn’t let him get away with it, though. She called him on his crap and made him deal with it. 


Issues aside, Cope was an amazing man. He was sweet and caring, and he really took the time to understand Ella. The packages he sent Ella totally melted me. The first one she opened had my heart stuttering. Although parts of it moved slow, it was the moments like those that really made the book. 


As always, it was good to see the Brown siblings and their crew together. Erin and her men really played a large part in the novel, because of issues she was having. Elise and Brody were also featured, as the novel revolved in part around their engagement party and wedding. I like that Dane wove the characters together without taking away from Cope and Ella.

Another great novel in Dane’s Brown Siblings series. I love that the focus of these novels is directly on the characters and their growing relationship, instead of outside conflicts and misunderstandings.


4 out of 5

Brown Family

four-stars


Tagged: , , , , , , ,

Review: Whiskey Sharp: Unraveled by Lauren Dane

Posted January 30, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Whiskey Sharp: Unraveled by Lauren DaneReviewer: Holly
Unraveled (Whiskey Sharp, #1) by Lauren Dane
Series: Whiskey Sharp #1
Published by Harlequin Books
Publication Date: January 30th 2018
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-half-stars

The sharpest ache comes from wanting what you think you can't have

Maybe Dolan has lived independent, free-spirited and unattached since leaving home at sixteen. Whiskey Sharp, Seattle's sexy vintage-styled barbershop and whiskey bar, gave her a job and a reason to put down roots. Cutting hair by day, losing herself drumming in a punk rock band by night, she's got it good.

But a longtime crush that turns into a hot, edgy night with brooding and bearded Alexsei Petrov makes it a hell of a lot better.

Maybe's blunt attitude and carnal smile hooked Alexsei from the start. Protecting people is part of his nature and Maybe is meant to be his even if she doesn't know it. Yet. He can't help himself from wanting to protect and care for her.

But Maybe's fiery independent spirit means pushing back when Alexsei goes too far. Still, he's not afraid to do a little pushing of his own to get what he wants her in his life, and his bed, for good. Maybe's more intoxicating than all the liquor on his shelf and he's not afraid to ride the blade's edge to bind her to him."

Maybe Dolan and her sister Rachel bought a house together in Seattle after a tragedy nearly broke Rachel. Maybe picks up a job at Whiskey Sharp, a trendy barbershop/bar. The owner, Alexsei Petrov is sexy as all get out, but since he’s in a relationship he’s off limits. When it turns out Maybe and Rachel bought a place next to his aunt, they’re eventually brought into the family fold. Things are status quo for two years, until Alexsei and his girlfriend break up. Maybe sees her shot to get him between the sheets and goes for it.

Alexsei needed time after his breakup to get his head in the right place, but enough time has passed that he’s willing to jump in with Maybe when she makes a pass. He’s surprised to find he knows so little about her, considering they’ve been working together for years. They have chemistry in spades, but Maybe is skittish when it comes to commitment.

Maybe’s main priority is being with her sister and avoiding her parents. They’ve treated her like crap her whole life and now they blame her for her sister leaving them. They’re pretty abusive and she’d cut them off completely if it weren’t for her sister needing them. She understands what family is, and Alexsei and his are some of the best, but he can be overbearing. After the way her parents controlled her growing up, Maybe can’t deal with any kind of control from her boyfriend.

I liked that Maybe worked hard to overcome her past and get out from under her parent’s thumb. I wish Dane had further explored the reasons for them treating her the way they did. As it was, things were left pretty open. I assume we’ll understand more when we get Rachel’s book, but that part of the book felt unfinished. Despite the issues she had with her parents, Maybe was self-confident and knew her own mind. I liked that she was willing to make the first move with Alexsei and wasn’t afraid to be honest about her feelings.

Alexsei was a great fit for her. Strong and tender at the same time, he was a rock for her and her sister both. Once he claimed them as family, he was willing to stand in front of them, beside them, or behind them as they needed. Though he could be the quintessential alpha-male, he wasn’t afraid to step back and let Maybe handle things herself. They had great chemistry and I loved how they came to mean so much to each other over the course of the novel.

The book ended on something of a cliffhanger. While the romantic elements were mostly wrapped up, a lot of the book was left open. As I said, I’m sure we’ll get more answers in the subsequent books, but this one felt unfinished.

Dane is a fabulous storyteller. I was wrapped up in Maybe and Alexsei from the start. Great chemistry, witty banter and a kickass heroine make this worth reading despite the questions left unanswered. I’m really looking forward to the next book.

3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars


Tagged: , , , , , ,

Review: Diablo Lake: Moonstruck by Lauren Dane

Posted July 27, 2016 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Diablo Lake: Moonstruck by Lauren DaneReviewer: Holly
Diablo Lake: Moonstruck (Diablo Lake #1) by Lauren Dane
Series: Diablo Lake #1
Published by Carina Press
Publication Date: June 20th 2016
Genres: Fiction
Pages: 205
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-stars

In Diablo Lake, Tennessee, a town populated by werewolves, witches and more, magic woven deep into the earth protects the town's secrets from outsiders.Katie Grady left Diablo Lake to get over a humiliating breakup. But her family needs her help, so she's back, in a sublet right across the hall from the guy she's lusted after for years. Jace Dooley is hotter than ever, and their friendship picks up along with massive doses of grown-up chemistry.The very scent of Katie sharpens Jace's canines, makes the wolf within him stir. There's nothing more alluring to a Pack Alpha than a sexy female who is so very in charge. She won't be coddled, but if he plays his hand just right she might be convinced to become his.Katie presents a challenge to Jace's wolf nature, whose chief instinct is to protect. Especially now that she's coming into the magic that is her birthright—and suddenly Jace isn't the only one who's interested in Katie or the raw power she's just learning to use.Editor's Note: The story continues in Diablo Lake: Protected, available soon!One-click with confidence. This title is part of the Carina Press Romance Promise: all the romance you're looking for with an HEA/HFN. It's a promise! Find out more at CarinaPress.com/RomancePromise

I took some time after finishing Moonstruck to write the review because I’m on the fence about it. I’m a huge fan of Dane’s novels. I’ve enjoyed pretty much all of her previous releases (though obviously I liked some better than others). When I saw she was writing a new paranormal series set in the south I got really excited. It’s been my experience that she does both really well, so I figured the two together would be a major hit.

Kate Grady grew up in Diablo Lake, Tennessee. She figured she’d spend her whole life here, until her fiance left her at the alter. She needed to get away and get some fresh perspective, so she moved to the city. When her father falls ill, she moves back home to help run the family business and help her mom take care of her dad. As a witch, Kate is pretty sought after by both wolf packs, since having her on their side boosts their power both elementally and politically. When she realizes Jace Dooley is available – and her crush on him is still intact- she thinks long and hard before agreeing to see him because she knows she’ll be taking all kinds of flak if she aligns herself with him. Not to mention he’s the soon-to-be alpha of his pack. Yet she soon realizes she can’t keep away from him.

Jace wasn’t ready for Kate before she got engaged to her ex, and then she took off for the city. He knows she’s everything he wants in a mate – though he is cautious since he knows his family will jump all over him once they realize she’s his. Not to mention the added tension their relationship will cause between his pack and the pack her ex belongs to. Despite all that, now that she’s home he isn’t going to waste time going after her. He just can’t help himself.

As Kate and Jace discover each other, they also discover a boatload of drama coming from her ex’s pack. Kate also struggles with the knowledge that while Jace wants her for her, she’s also a major asset to their pack. Which means they want her for her magic, too, not just for who she is as Kate.

It’s not that I disliked the book, per se. Kate is a strong, independent woman who knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to go after it. Jace is the strong, alpha type Dane writes so well. Their romance was sweet and the sex was hot. The tension between the packs was interesting and so was the drama surrounding Kate and her ex. I just struggled because it didn’t really seem to go anywhere. By the halfway point the h/h were solid – or heading there – yet the plot just kept circling. The main conflict – a power struggle between the wolves and witches of Diablo Lake, plus a fight between the two main wolf packs – just circled around itself. I understand this is the start of a new series, but nothing was resolved in this book, aside from the HEA of the h/h…though even that’s questionable considering the possible danger coming from several fronts. The same arguments were had again and again, with the same tirades on both sides. In the end this felt like half a novel. I’m curious enough to continue reading, but to be honest the long wait between releases has me pretty frustrated.

3 out of 5

three-stars


Tagged: , , , , , ,

Review: Falling Under by Lauren Dane

Posted January 21, 2016 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Falling Under by Lauren DaneReviewer: Holly
Falling Under by Lauren Dane
Series: Ink and Chrome #2
Also in this series: Coming Back, Coming Back
Published by Grand Central Publishing, Forever
Publication Date: August 4, 2015
Pages: 320
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

The men of Twisted Steel are great with their hands.

And they're not afraid to get dirty.

Duke Bradshaw, co-owner of the Twisted Steel custom motorcycle and hot rod shop, may devote his days to chrome and leather, but his nights belong to Carmella. His sultry redheaded neighbor has a smile like an angel and a body built for sin, and for the past year both have dominated Duke's dreams. When a problem at Twisted Steel requires a fast fix, Duke sees his chance to finally make his fantasy a reality.

Ever since she first heard the low rumble of his engine, Carmella Rossi has wondered if Duke Bradshaw handles his women as expertly as he handles his bike. When he shows up at her door offering her a much-needed job at his shop, she gets her chance to find out. Beneath Duke's masterful touch, Carmella soon submits to a world of unimaginable pleasure.

But history has taught Carmella how bad a boy boy can be. If she doesn't put on the brakes fast, her hard-bodied heartbreaker could drive her right over the edge . . .

I actually read this book ages ago and wrote a review for it that disappeared completely. Since I didn’t update my reading log with exactly when I read it, I’m just going to mark it as read-for-the-first-time in November.

Carmella is dealing with a lot of stuff in her personal life. Her ex is a d-bag and most of her energy is taken up dealing with her mom. She’s secretly been lusting after her hot neighbor Duke for ages, sure, but lusting and liking are two different things. She isn’t quick to trust, so when he offers her a job she takes it reluctantly, because she doesn’t want to get wrapped up with Duke. He’s hard to resist, though, and it isn’t long before they’re seeing each other. Casually at first, then more seriously.

Duke has been eyeing Carm for years, too, but she’s so much more than he expected. They get off to a rocky start thanks to him jumping to conclusions, but before long they settle into a sweet romance I really enjoyed. There isn’t a lot of conflict or tension. There’s sexual chemistry in spades, but not a whole lot of internal or external angst. Carmella is dealing with her mom and Duke has some family issues of his own, but mostly this was a sweet story of two people coming together and learning to let go with each other.

I really loved Duke and Carmella. Dane writes sexy alpha-males who aren’t assholes and strong, independent women who don’t cross the line into “so independent they’re stupid”. I love the Twisted Steele setting (the shop Duke co-owns, where they build custom cars), the secondary characters and the romance. This series has it all.

4 out of 5

Reading Order:

Opening Up
Falling Under
Coming Back

four-stars


Tagged: , , , , , , ,

Review: Back to You by Lauren Dane

Posted January 4, 2016 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Back to You by Lauren DaneReviewer: Holly
Back to You by Lauren Dane
Series: Hurley Brothers #3
Also in this series: The Best Kind of Trouble, Broken Open
Published by HQN Books
Publication Date: June 1st 2015
Genres: Fiction
Pages: 384
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

What won't he do for a second chance? 
Former model Kelly Hurley has finally put the ashes of the past behind her. After a passionate but turbulent marriage to rock star Vaughan Hurley that ended in heartbreak and divorce, Kelly rebuilt her life in Portland, where she settled so their two young daughters could be close to their father. Just not so close Kelly couldn't truly make her own way without interference from the man who shattered her heart. Now Kelly's finally ready to move on, and she's planning to marry another man. 
But not if Vaughan has anything to say about it. 
Vaughan knows he was a fool all those years ago. A young, selfish—and prideful—fool. Even as he buried himself in the fast, decadent rock-star lifestyle, he could never drown out the memory of Kelly's beauty and love. Or the sweet, searing heat whenever they touched. For years, he's had to deal with the pain of seeing her only because of their daughters, but it was never enough. Now Vaughan must prove that he's the only man Kelly needs, before he loses her for good. And there's only one way to do it…

This is a great reunited lovers story. Vaughn and Kelly were everything I’d hoped they’d be from the glimpses we had of them in previous books. The timeline of this book runs parallel to Broken Open, the 2nd book in the series. There isn’t a lot of overlap, however. Just enough to see certain scenes from a different perspective, but not enough to make me feel like I was reading the same story twice.

Vaughn and Kelly loved each other deeply once upon a time. Then Vaughn screwed it all up and Kelly left him. She’s been a wonderful mother to their two girls, and made sure he had a much access to them as possible given his schedule, but she’s mainly avoided him and his family, who blamed her for their separation (something he hasn’t ever bothered to correct). Vaughn is man enough to admit he never stopped loving Kelly, but it isn’t until she gets engaged to someone else that he realizes he isn’t ready to let her go. He’s going to fight for her – for them.

Kelly let Vaughn in once, and he broke her heart. She can’t deny she still has feelings for him, but she doesn’t trust him not to break her again. Until suddenly he’s back in her life, admitting he was the one who ruined everything and trying to make things right. She wants to resist him, but this Vaughn isn’t the man she knew before. He’s stronger, steadier and sexier than ever. Kelly doesn’t want to give Vaughn her heart, but she isn’t sure she can resist. Not when he’s determined to bust through her walls.

Vaughn didn’t impress me in the previous books, and he wasn’t shown in a very favorable light once the details of his past came to light in this book. But it was clear he’d grown and matured, and I really came to love him. His determination to right his past wrongs and prove to Kelly he was the man she needed him to be was admirable and sexy. He was a wonderful father, a loving brother and son, and great husband material.

Kelly was a strong woman who was understandably gunshy. Her fierce protection of her children and her determination to let them grow up with as much family near as possible was lovely to read about. Too often the ex-wife (even when she’s the heroine of the story) keeps her kids away from her former in-laws, but Kelly did her best to keep them involved. Considering her former mother-in-law’s extreme dislike of her, this was no easy task. That’s the theme for Kelly, though; doing things that are hard because they need to be done. I had a lot of admiration for her.

There was a good amount of anger, frustration and sadness between them, which really came across well. My heart hurt for the both of them. I wanted to see Vaughn man-up and do right by Kelly, but I understood why he held back so long. Similarly I wanted Kelly to forgive Vaughn and let him back in, but I understood her wariness. They had chemistry in spades, though, and I truly felt their love for one another.

An intoxicating tale of love and second chances. The secondary characters add flavor and excitement without overshadowing the romance.

4 out of 5

four-stars


Tagged: , , , , , , ,