Author: Sarina Bowen

Review: Good Boy by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy

Posted January 2, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 4 Comments

Review: Good Boy by Sarina Bowen and Elle KennedyReviewer: Holly
Good Boy (WAGs, #1) by Sarina Bowen, Elle Kennedy
Series: WAGs #1
Also in this series: Stay
Published by Rennie Road Books, Self-Published
Publication Date: January 31st 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 269
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four-half-stars

Hosting her brother’s wedding for an MVP guest list is the challenge of Jess Canning’s life. Already the family screw-up, she can’t afford to fail. And nobody - absolutely nobody! - can learn of the colossal mistake she made with the best man during a weak moment last spring. It was wrong, and there will not be a repeat. Absolutely not. Even if he is the sexiest thing on two legs.

Blake Riley sees the wedding as fate’s gift to him. Jess is the maid of honor, and he’s the best man? Let the games begin. So what if he’s facing a little (fine, a lot) of resistance? He just needs to convince the stubborn blonde that he’s really a good boy with a bad rap. Luckily, every professional hockey player knows that you’ve got to make an effort if you want to score.

But Jess has more pressing issues to deal with than sexy-times with a giant man-child. Such as: Will the ceremony start on time, even though someone got grandma drunk? Does glitter ever belong at a wedding? And is it wrong to murder the best man?

Caution: May cause accidental aspiration of tea or coffee. Do not read in a public place where loud laughter is inappropriate. Contains hot but hilarious hockey players, puppy cuddling and a snarky pair of underwear.

I somehow missed this series when it was first released. I ended up reading Stay first, then picking this one up recently when it was on sale (along with the audio) for the Kindle. I’m so sorry I skipped this one the first time around. Blake was hilarious. I loved him. I liked Jess, too, but Blake really stole the show. I thought, based on the way he acted in Stay, that he’d be manic and annoying. That wasn’t the case, though. He was just a big, lovable guy.

Blake and Jesse hooked up while they were taking care of Jess’s sick brother. Blake is anxious for a repeat, but Jess isn’t about it. Which just means he has to convince her. Since she’s maid of honor and he’s best man at her brother’s wedding, he has plenty of time.

Jess has always felt like the underachiever in her family. So telling them she wants to change careers – again – isn’t high on her list of favorite things to do. But she’s finally settled on nursing school and she’s feeling really good about it. Blake is a distraction she doesn’t need. When they’re living in the same city and she doesn’t know many people, it’s hard to avoid him. And let’s be honest..she doesn’t really want to.

This book was so good. As I said, I adored Blake. He was such a sweetheart. For all his talk of being a player, at his core he was a stand-up kind of guy. He’d do anything for his friends and often sacrificed his own happiness for those around him. Jess always felt inadequate next to her overachieving family. I liked how she came into her own. She gained confidence in herself and stopped worrying so much about measuring up to her family. Together they were wonderful. Great chemistry and a solid foundation. I couldn’t get enough of them.

4.5 out of 5

four-half-stars


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Review: Man Hands by Sarina Bowen and Tanya Eby

Posted December 26, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Man Hands by Sarina Bowen and Tanya EbyReviewer: Holly
Man Hands (Man Hands, #1) by Sarina Bowen, Tanya Eby
Series: Man Hands #1
Published by Rennie Road Books, Self-Published
Publication Date: December 11th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 180
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three-half-stars

He puts the "screw" in screwball comedy...

BRYNN

At thirty-four, I’m reeling from a divorce. I don’t want to party or try to move on. I just want to stay home and post a new recipe on my blog: Brynn’s Dips and Balls.

But my friends aren’t having it. Get out there again, they say. It will be fun, they say. I’m still taking a hard pass.

Free designer cocktails, they say. And that’s a game-changer.

Too bad my ex shows up with his new arm candy. That’s when I lose my mind. But when my besties dare me to leap on the first single man I see, they don't expect me to actually go through with it.

TOM

All I need right now is some peace and quiet while my home renovation TV show is on hiatus. But when a curvy woman in a red wrap dress charges me like she’s a gymnast about to mount my high bar, all I can do is brace myself and catch her. What follows is the hottest experience of my adult life.

I want a repeat, but my flying Cinderella disappears immediately afterward. She doesn’t leave a glass slipper, either—just a pair of panties with chocolate bunnies printed on them.

But I will find her.

Sarina Bowen is a favorite of mine. I always enjoy her books, especially when she partners up with others. I didn’t connect with this one as much, though. There were some really funny parts, and I liked both Bryn and Tom, but it wasn’t as engaging as previous reads.

Bryn is in a rough place. The ink is barely dry on her divorce, and thanks to her ex-father-in-law, she’s also out of a job. She writes a food blog, but it isn’t paying the bills. When her two best friends drag her out to a swanky party, it’s the last things she wants. But they have designer cocktails and the house is beautiful, so….

Things are going great until she spies her ex with a younger, slimmer version of herself wrapped around him. Bryn loses her mind. Rather than running, her friends talk her into jumping the first man she sees, and no one is more surprised than Bryn herself when she actually does it.

Tom is feeling pretty low himself. The last season of his home improvement show didn’t end well and he’s trying to keep a low-profile while he’s on hiatus. Having a sexy, curvy woman jump him – literally – isn’t what he had in mind, but he can’t deny she’s sexy as hell. They have an amazingly sexy encounter and then..poof. She disappeared. Now Tom can’t think about anything else. Too bad things don’t go quite the way he imagined when he finally tracks her down again.

This novel is quite a bit more campy than other books by Bowen. The humor felt forced some of the time, and the situations were all really over-the-top. Plus, Bryn cried a lot. Like, All.The.Time. She showed quite a bit of growth over the course of the novel, but I couldn’t help but feel like she needed to take some time to be alone before jumping onto into another guy relationship. I really liked Tom and how down-to-earth he was despite being a “celebrity”, but the way his “situation” from the previous season of his show was drawn out was kind of frustrating. I’d have preferred to just know why he was feeling the way he was, rather than been teased by it.

Although some of the comedy was over-the-top, I enjoyed the quiet moments between Tom and Bryn. Tom was really down-to-earth and I think he centered Bryn a bit. I liked them together.

If you’re looking for a sweet contemporary romp, this book is for you.

3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Joint Review: Bountiful by Sarina Bowen

Posted December 6, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 6 Comments

Joint Review: Bountiful by Sarina BowenReviewer: Holly and Rowena
Bountiful (True North, #4) by Sarina Bowen
Series: True North #4
Also in this series: Bittersweet, Steadfast (True North #2), Steadfast, Bittersweet, Keepsake
Published by Rennie Road Books
Publication Date: October 20th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 315
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four-half-stars

No last names. No life stories. Those were the rules.

Once upon a time a cocky, copper-haired tourist sauntered into Zara’s bar. And even though she knew better, Zara indulged in a cure for the small-town blues. It was supposed to be an uncomplicated fling—a few sizzling weeks before he went back to his life, and she moved on.

Until an accidental pregnancy changed her life.

Two years later, she’s made peace with the notion that Dave No-Last-Name will never be found. Until one summer day when he walks into her coffee shop, leveling her with the same hot smile that always renders her defenseless.

Dave Beringer has never forgotten the intense month he spent with prickly Zara. Their nights together were the first true intimacy he’d ever experienced. But the discovery of his child is the shock of a lifetime, and his ugly past puts relationships and family out of reach.

Or does it? Vermont’s countryside has a way of nurturing even tortured souls. The fields and the orchards—and hard-won love—are Bountiful.

We first met Zara in Bittersweet, book 1 of this series. She and Griff, the hero of Bittersweet, had been having a fling, but he broke it off before he met his heroine, Audrey. Later Zara turned up pregnant and refused to say who the father was. Turns out he was a summer fling she couldn’t find when she ended up pregnant. Professional hockey player Dave Beringer is unexpectedly back in town and shocked to discover the girl he never forgot is more than just a good memory..she’s the mother of his child. Figuring out a new normal when he never expected to have a kid is going to be rough…especially since he still isn’t over his attraction to his daughter’s beautiful mother.

Holly: I didn’t really connect with this book. I really loved the previous books in the series, but this one fell a little flat. I didn’t dislike it, but it didn’t grab me the way I thought it would.

Rowena: I had no problem connecting with this story. I thought it was wonderfully written and I really enjoyed seeing Zara and Dave come together again. I loved seeing two worlds that I am so in love with come together with Zara and Dave. It was so good to see Leo, Patrick and Dave’s other Brooklyn Bruisers teammates interact with Griff, Audrey and the rest of the True North gang.

I’m trying to remember if there was anything that I didn’t like about this book…nothing is coming to mind.

Holly: Maybe it was my reading mood, but I just didn’t fall into it the way I have the other books in the series (and the Brooklyn Bruiser’s series, for that matter). It moved slowly for me in places, and I didn’t understand the way Zara acted some of the time. Plus, there was a lot of build-up around their relationship and how they’d make it work, and then it just kind of…fizzled. I think I expected more bang after the way the tension was built up.

Rowena: What didn’t you understand about the way Zara acted? For me, I thought she handled the whole seeing Dave again and being honest about Nicole with him, really well. Sure, she needed a hot minute to get herself together but for the most part, I thought she handled giving Dave a chance great. She was unsure but knew that she couldn’t deprive her daughter of relationships that were her right to have. I really liked Zara. I liked her a lot more as a mother than I did a bartender. Her reasons for being so mute on who the father was in the previous books were good reasons and I thought she was a fantastic mother to Nicole.

Holly: The way she was so hot and cold with Dave is what threw me. She wanted him. She wanted to be with him. She wanted him as the father of her child. Then she didn’t want to be with him or start a relationship with him. Her pulling back halfway through the book made the I-Love-You’s seem to come out of nowhere, even though we’d had basically the entire book.

Rowena: When she explained why she felt the way that she did with Dave, I bought it and fell in line with how the both of them felt for each other. But you’re right, she was a bit hot and cold with Dave.

Holly: Sure, I get that she didn’t trust in a relationship with a guy she barely knew who was only going to be in town for a few months. But she refused to even have that conversation with him. He’d bring it up and try to discuss their future and she’d run scared. I get she was afraid, but I was surprised and slightly disappointed she wasn’t willing to even talk about it. Then, bam, all the angst is done? I just didn’t buy it. And honestly, Dave had more reason to be wary of a relationship than Zara. If he was willing to work at it with her, why couldn’t she do the same?

Rowena: We saw it differently then because I got it. Dave’s internal issues were about not trusting himself to be a good father because of his childhood and his past whereas Zara’s internal issues were about someone else letting her down time and time again. It was natural for her to see Dave being the kind of father she had growing up, especially since he told her himself that he was never going to have a family. It took her a little bit to get herself together and come around to the idea so I understood it. Because more than anything, she was trying to protect Nicole.

Holly: Eh, I disagree. Yes, she was let down in the past, but she had brothers, uncles and her mom who were all there for her. They didn’t let her down. So her claim that everyone in her life (that’s me adding dramatic flair..lol) let her down doesn’t hold water. And again, it’s not that I don’t think she had a valid point when it came to Dave, but her refusal to even discuss their future is what threw me off.

Rowena: She never claimed that everyone let her down. Just her Dad. She was scared that Dave was going to be just like her own Dad to Nicole. He perpetuated that by telling her that he never wanted to have a family. He was pretty adamant about that. He changed his mind and she didn’t trust it. What’s not to understand about that? Since her refusal to discuss it didn’t last all that long, I wasn’t mad about it. And you shouldn’t be either. Get over it, Holly. LOL.

Holly: But it did last a long time! Basically the whole entire book. But you’re right, I probably should get over it since it all worked out in the end. I should..but I probably won’t. Ha.

Rowena: I’m rolling my eyes at you. Seriously.

Holly: That’s not to say I didn’t like Zara. Because I did. But her hot and cold attitude threw me off. It just didn’t jive with the Zara we knew from previous books.

Rowena:Dave handled finding out he was a father pretty realistically, I think. I thought he did a lot of growing up over the course of this book and when he falls in love with Zara, I believed him. I loved that there wasn’t a thing that he wouldn’t do for Zara and Nicole. She needed him to deflect some attention away from her for an afternoon? Done. She needed him to step in and watch Nicole so that she can rush around for Audrey and Griff’s wedding? Done. He wasn’t the perfect hero but he was a good man. He loved deeply and I truly adored watching him bond with Nicole.

Holly: Dave was great. I loved how patient he was with Zara and how, even though he needed a minute to get his life figured out after she dropped her bombshell on him, he really stepped up. He was scared, but he did what he needed to do. I think where Zara lost me was that she seemed so confident and in charge, but kept pulling back from Dave.

Rowena: You think we’re going to get a book for Dave’s sister, Bess? I totally want that book….but not before Becca and Nate. Ha!

Holly: I really want Becca and Nate. I think we need to start a petition that their book is next. But yes, I definitely want Bess to get a book. I adored her.

Rowena: I think their book is next, at least in the Brooklyn Bruisers series so I’m not too worried about that. But yes, Bess is like LL Cool J…she needs love.

Holly: She does need love. So does May. I didn’t like her girlfriend at all. Maybe Bess and May will end up together.

Rowena: I can so get behind a Bess and May pairing. May’s boo thang was annoying af and she deserves way better than that. I’m curious if they’ll both get their own stories told.

Overall, I thought Sarina Bowen wrote another fantastic romance about two people who didn’t think they’d ever see each other again but did anyway. The sparks between Zara and Dave were bright and extra sizzling. Their romance was a sweet one and I loved the hell out of it. I loved this book just as much as I loved the other True North books and more than I loved Rookie Move. It was fun, sweet and I wanted to cuddle it close when I was finished with the book. So stinkin’ good.

I really enjoyed this book so I’m giving it a 4.75 out of 5.

Holly: I didn’t dislike this book, but it didn’t grab me the way I thought it would and Zara’s actions threw me. I’m giving it 3.5 out of 5.

Holly’s final Grade: 3.5 out of 5
Rowena’s final Grade: 4.75 out of 5

True North Series

Brooklyn Bruisers Series

four-half-stars


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Joint Review: Temporary by Sarina Bowen & Sarah Mayberry

Posted September 28, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Joint Review: Temporary by Sarina Bowen & Sarah MayberryReviewer: Holly and Rowena
Temporary by Sarina Bowen, Sarah Mayberry
Published by Self-Published
Publication Date: September 12, 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 302
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
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four-stars

The most beautiful man I've ever seen is the one who can ruin everything...

The first time I lay eyes on Callan Walker, I know he’ll be trouble. With his smug grin, hot Aussie accent and thousand dollar shoes, he’s just the kind of rich guy who always gets what he wants.

And he wants two things: a night of sin, and my cooperation as he outmaneuvers his powerful mother to take control of his uncle’s estate.

I can’t afford either one. I’m the only thing standing between my little sister and the foster care system. He may have money and charm on his side, but I have something even more powerful -- pure desperation. This temp job at his mother’s company can become a full time job for me. It has to.

But when Callan’s eyes rake over my body, sometimes I forget my obligations. His piercing gaze finds the fun, optimistic girl I used to be and not the tired person I’ve become.

And it works--if only for a moment. Our night together was a mistake. I can't afford to get sucked into his high-powered family’s treachery. But the closer I get to Callan, the more layers I find beneath those expensive clothes. Though I can’t forget this is temporary. He’s temporary. I have too much to lose.

Too bad my foolish heart didn’t get the memo...

Callan Walker cut ties with his family and walked away from the family business two years ago. Since then the only person he really kept in contact with was his Uncle Jack.When Jack passes away, Callan is shocked when he learns his mother is the sole heir to his estate, since he knows Jack had other intentions. If he can find an updated will, he can stop his mother from auctioning off Jack’s prized art collections. It’s unfortunate that Grace Kerrington iis caught up in his family drama, but oh well….

…except the more he gets to know her the more he wants her around. And if he finds the will, she’ll be out of a job…and out of his life.

Holly: When I found out Sarina Bowen and Sarah Mayberry were teaming up to write a contemporary romance I was ridiculously excited. Both are favorite authors. I liked this, but I didn’t love it as much as I expected to. There were a few loose ends that weren’t tied up, and I think that marred my enjoyment a bit.

What did you think of it?

Rowena: I liked it. I thought it was well done and enjoyed the romance between Callan and Grace. Grace was thrown into the middle of a family feud and I thought she handled herself as well as she could without getting herself in trouble. She did what she felt was the right thing to do and I really liked seeing her and Callan grow closer and closer.

What about you, what did you think?

Holly: I liked the romance. Callan seemed like such an arrogant playboy in the beginning, but he had hidden depths. I liked Grace’s work ethic and how committed she was to her sister. Together I thought they were a good match. They complimented each other well.

Rowena: It took me just a minute to warm up to Callan after that entrance into Grace’s life and work. Once, I got over him being a brat, I really came to love both him and Grace and then loving them together. They made a good team.

Holly: What about Callan’s mother? Did you want to kill her, or what?

Rowena: Sure did. I didn’t understand her whole thing too. Why was she such a shit to Callan and Uncle Jack? I didn’t understand what motivated her, surely business can’t run someone’s life that much? Maybe that’s why I’m not rich. I don’t understand. But I did want to run ass over in my car. What a shit.

Holly: That’s one of the things that marred my enjoyment somewhat. There was no closure for me with how she was. I mean, yes, Callan took a stand and made her back down, but I wish we’d gotten to see more background info. I wonder if the next book will have more, though.

Rowena: Yeah, I wanted more resolution with his mother and I also was a bit disappointed that he gave her what she wanted in the end. (is that a spoiler?) My petty ass wanted him to keep his shares and rule the company over her….but no. He had to be the bigger person. Ugh.

Is there going to be another book? I thought this was a stand alone.

Holly: I wanted him to make her suffer, too. He should have at least pushed for 20% more than he got.

Rowena: Exactly! He freaking gave the farm away to his stank ass Mom. I’m annoyed just thinking of it.

Holly: I’m annoyed over it, too. I wanted him to get a little of his own back.

I don’t know if there’s going to be another book. I kind of assumed so, but maybe that’s just wishful thinking on my part?

Rowena: There might be for Callan’s sister, there was a bit of lead in for another book featuring her. I forgot all about her but Nath reminded me.

Holly: Sorry I didn’t clarify. I was thinking of Callan’s sister when I suggested a second book. I haven’t seen either Bowen or Mayberry mention a second book, but I’m hopeful.

Rowena: Were you able to tell which author wrote which chapter? Was I the only person that caught on to the fact that they were each writing one character? LOL.

Holly: Sarina wrote her and Sarah wrote him, right? That’s what it seemed like to me, anyway. I haven’t looked to see if they said who did what.

Rowena: Yeah, that’s how it seemed to me too. Sarina wrote the American character and Sarah wrote the Australian character. I usually can’t tell which author is writing which parts but Sarina was all over Grace’s character in this one. I wonder if I could tell because I don’t read a lot of Sarah Mayberry?

Anyway, what did you think of the romance between Callan and Grace? Was it believable?

Holly: I liked how they were with each other, but I don’t know that I really believed they could make it go long term. His wealth and her family situation seemed to be standing between them. I’m not sure Grace can get past his wealth. How will that work? She’ll live with him and he’ll support her and her sister forever? He’ll buy her expensive things and she’ll just be okay with that? I wish we’d gotten to see more about that.

As a Happy For Now I bought it. I’m just not sure I buy Happily Ever After.

Rowena: I didn’t see it that way. I could see them working long term because I could see them fighting for it. Their feelings for each other was evident and even though Grace was stubborn and headstrong, she was fair and she loved Callan so I could see them finding common ground and learning to live a life together.

Holly: Maybe I just wanted more from them. It ended too soon for me. I’d have liked to see them living together and working some of those things out.

Rowena: Overall, the romance between Callan and Grace was believable for me and I did enjoy getting to know the both of them. I had some gripes with the way that Callan handled the whole Uncle Jack’s affairs thing but I did like how it all came together for him in the end. There was a lot of fabulous secondary characters and enjoyed them as well. Grace’s sister, even Callan’s sister came around for me and I would have loved to get to know Uncle Jack a bit more.

This was fun and I’d give it a 4 out of 5. You?

Holly: I liked both Callan and Grace. Together they worked well and I believed in their HFN. I would have liked a little more from them in terms of forever, but I can’t deny them getting together made me happy. I also really liked the secondary characters and I’d be happy if these two wrote another book together.

3.75 out of 5 from me.

Final Grades

Holly: 3.75 out of 5
Rowena: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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Review: Pipe Dreams by Sarina Bowen

Posted September 21, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Pipe Dreams by Sarina BowenReviewer: Holly
Pipe Dreams (Brooklyn Bruisers, #3) by Sarina Bowen
Series: Brooklyn Bruisers #3
Also in this series: Rookie Move, Rookie Move, Hard Hitter, Rookie Move, Hard Hitter (Brooklyn Bruisers #2), Pipe Dreams, Pipe Dreams
Published by Berkley Books
Publication Date: May 2nd 2017
Pages: 336
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

A goalie has to trust his instincts, even when taking a shot to the heart…
Mike Beacon is a champion at defending the net, but off the ice, he’s not so lucky. A widower and a single father, he’s never forgotten Lauren Williams, the ex who gave him the best year of his life. When Lauren reappears in the Bruisers office during the playoffs, Beacon sees his chance to make things right.
Lauren hates that she’s forced to travel with the team she used to work for and the man who broke her heart. There’s still undeniable sexual tension running between her and Mike, but she won’t go down that road again. She’s focused on her plans for the future—she doesn’t need a man to make her dreams of motherhood come true.
Lauren plays her best defensive game, but she’s no match for the dark-eyed goalie. When the field of play moves to Florida, things heat up on the beach.
One of Mike’s biggest fans doesn’t approve—his teenage daughter. But a true competitor knows not to waste the perfect shot at love.

Pipe Dreams is book two in Sarina Bowen’s Brooklyn Bruisers series, a spinoff of The Ivy Years NA series. I think it’s my favorite of the series to date. Pipe Dreams is a second chance love story that hit all the high notes with me.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Lauren, since she was pretty uptight in the previous books. I really came to enjoy her. Mike was a solid, stand-up kind of guy. He was easy to like, and to trust. I didn’t love the flashbacks in this story, but that comes down to a personal preference. I’d rather be told the backstory then get it in pieces via flashbacks.

Mike’s team, Lauren’s developing friendship with the WAGs (wives and girlfriends) and her co-workers, all of it really came together and made for a great read.

Bowen continues to hit big with this series.

4.25 out of 5

four-stars


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