Genre: Contemporary Romance

Guest Review: Playing Dirty by Taryn Leigh Taylor

Posted April 27, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Playing Dirty by Taryn Leigh TaylorReviewer: Tracy
Playing Dirty by Taryn Leigh Taylor
Published by Harlequin Blaze
Publication Date: April 18th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
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four-stars


A game they both want to win

Lainey Harper has never been a puck bunny. She wants nothing to do with hockey or hockey players--not after what she's been through. So why can't she resist Cooper Mead?

Portland's newest hockey star, Cooper, is all muscle and charisma. And he's Lainey's worst nightmare. Hooking up with him would bring back memories that Lainey needs to keep buried. And risk the hard-earned anonymity she's sacrificed everything to protect.

When Lainey finally gives in to Cooper's sexy charm, the chemistry's intense--but so is the media exposure. And now Lainey's got even more to lose than her secret--she's got Cooper.

Lainey Harper grew up in a hockey family and loved it.  That is until her father walked out the door when she was 10 and never came back.  She did end up playing hockey, however, but ended her career scoring on her own net and never living it down.  Now she’s back in Portland, OR trying to sell the bar that her father left her when he died.  She wants nothing more than to sell it and get back to her life.

She meets professional hockey player Cooper Mead when her half-brother, Brett, brings him into the bar.   Cooper tries to get her number time and again but she doesn’t fall for his lines.  Despite that they end up hot and heavy after hours.  Lainey decides it was just sex and tries to move on.  Cooper, however, can’t get Lainey out of his mind and keeps showing up wherever Lainey is.  When she’s photographed with Cooper her past comes back to haunt her and she pushes him away. Lainey has to decide what she wants with Cooper, if anything, and what that means for her future.

Lainey was a wonderful character.  She was down to earth and realistic about life.  Yes, she had issues but she was open to change and that made a huge difference in the way I saw her.  Cooper was just a sexy as hell hockey player and I really liked him.  He was kind yet rough and tumble.  He has his own issues and secrets and because of them he tries to act, at times, like someone he’s not.  I loved how he dealt with everything in the book (I don’t want to give it all away) and how he came to tell Lainey, and others, about his issues.

The romance and sex was extremely hot and well written.  Taylor didn’t overdo it and throw too may sex scenes in when they didn’t further the story along, and I appreciated that.

This was a great little book.  Lainey really had a chip on her shoulder when the story first started but throughout the book she came to realize many things about herself and the way she saw life, her father, her brother, and love.

Rating: 4 out of 5

FYI – This kind of looks like it’s the second book in a series but the life of me I couldn’t find a series name.  The first book is Playing to Win.

four-stars

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Guest Review: Going Nowhere Fast by Kati Wilde

Posted April 24, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Going Nowhere Fast by Kati WildeReviewer: Tracy
Going Nowhere Fast by Kati Wilde
Published by InterMix
Publication Date: April 18th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
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three-half-stars

Two hearts.
Three rules.
Four weeks to break them all.

When Aspen Phillips’ best friend invites her on a month-long road trip, she has serious mixed feelings. Sharing their tight quarters will be Bramwell Gage, overprotective brother and all-around jerk. Bram may be ridiculously sexy, but he’s made no effort to hide how he feels about Aspen—that she’s trash who’s no good for his sister. But Aspen is determined to get along with the uptight millionaire—and to keep her promise, concealing a secret about his sister that Bram can never know.

But after a scorching kiss reveals that Bram’s feelings toward her run much hotter than she believed, Aspen's emotions swerve into a complete 180. Suddenly the girl who has nothing has everything—but only as long as the truth about his sister remains hidden. Because when all the secrets and promises unravel, she risks losing it all...

Aspen is meeting her best friend, Bethany, so that they can go on a post-college graduation trip.  Unfortunately Bethany’s brother, Bram, will be going as well and Aspen and Bram don’t get along.  The first time they met Aspen and Bethany were getting back from a rave they’d gone to and Bethany was drunk.  Since they were freshmen they were underage and Bram didn’t like the fact that Aspen was “ruining” his sister and having a bad influence on her. This continued for four years so the thought of spending a month with Bram is not something Aspen is looking forward to.

When Aspen gets to the meeting place Bram is there but Bethany is nowhere in sight.  Aspen gets a text from Bethany stating that she’s checking herself into a rehab but doesn’t want Aspen to tell her brother where she is, even though they’re close siblings.  One thing leads to another and Aspen ends up on the trip with Bram anyway.  During the time they’re traveling they discover a lot about each other and they end up creating a truce…or two…or 85.  They’re so attracted to each other that they decide to have “hate” sex, but can it really be considered hate sex when at least one of them is in love with the other?

I have to say that I love romance travel stories.  Something about moving from place to place and well, being separated from your norm just does something for me.  I think because it’s all that more exciting when they get home and they discover that it works at home as well as it does on the road.  In this case, that didn’t exactly happen but it still worked out in the end.

Aspen had once been a middle class girl but then her father got cancer and died, her mother lost her nursing job as she couldn’t take care of dying people any longer, the family lost their house because the medical bills were astronomical.  Now they scrape together what they can.  Aspen was thrilled to go on the trip as it was pretty much all expenses paid but she hated that Bram was going.  She knew that he loved his sister but he was so over-protective with Bethany it bothered Aspen.  She knew it stemmed from their parents dying in a car accident when Bram was 19 years old but Aspen felt that Bram needed to be a brother to Bethany, not a father figure.  Because of the father figure mentality, he was quite harsh with Aspen and what he felt where her bad influences on Bethany.  He was constantly telling her this and it started to get on my nerves after a while, I must say.  I knew that he was attracted to Aspen but despite their “truce” he still was harsh with her.

Aspen was a strong woman but a person can only take so much before they break.  In her case it was Bram still being angry toward her supposedly bad influences even after they were having sex and having a good time together. He kept telling her that he shouldn’t want her and shouldn’t be with her and of course she thought it was because she was poor and he was a millionaire and that he was slumming and felt bad about it. My problem came when she actually told Bram all of this and he was shocked at the revelation.  He basically told her that he had never thought badly about her because of being poor and that she was projecting her bullshit on to him.  As this is a first person POV book we had never been privy to Bram’s thoughts, only Aspen’s, and as such was led to believe that Bram was an ass but was he?  The guy that I had just spent 75% of the book kind of disliking isn’t who I thought he was and now I’m supposed to like him?  Gah!  I’m so confused!  When I then looked back at Bram, not through Aspen’s eyes, I realized he’s not a bad guy.  While he could be an ass he wasn’t as mean and judgey as I thought and made me rethink my entire take on the book.  It was exhausting.

Bram ended up being an emotionally scarred hero and by the end of the book I liked him. Yes, he could be overbearing but he did it with good intentions and he had a big heart.  I was quite happy that Bram and Aspen finally worked out their issues and got their HEA – they worked hard for it and deserved it.

Despite my issue (named above) I also liked the writing in the book and the secondary characters.  I’ve only read one set of short stories by Wilde and they were erotic romances.  This was a good full length novel and made me want to read more of her books.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

three-half-stars

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Guest Review: Twist by Kylie Scott

Posted April 19, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 2 Comments

Guest Review: Twist by Kylie ScottReviewer: Tracy
Twist by Kylie Scott
Series: Dive Bar #2
Also in this series: Dirty, Dirty
Published by St. Martin's Griffin
Publication Date: April 11th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 288
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
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four-stars

When his younger brother loses interest in online dating, hot, bearded, bartender extraordinaire, Joe Collins, only intends to log into his account and shut it down. Until he reads about her.

Alex Parks is funny, friendly, and pretty much everything he's been looking for in a woman. And in no time at all they're emailing up a storm, telling each other their deepest darkest secrets... apart from the one that really matters.

And when it comes to love, serving it straight up works better than with a twist.

Alex Parks works from home in Seattle.  She signed up on an online dating site and has been emailing back and forth with a super-hot guy named Eric.  She’s knows it’s his birthday and that he’ll have a get-together with friends and family at Dive Bar, where he is part owner.  Alex hadn’t heard from Eric for a few weeks so decides to fly to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho to surprise him.  Eric’s incredibly surprised when she arrives because he has absolutely no idea who she is.  It turns out that Alex had been getting catfished by Eric’s brother, Joe.

Joe had helped Eric sign up for the dating site but Eric quickly lost interest.  Joe planned on shutting Eric’s account down but when he saw a message from Alex he answered her…as Eric.  Six months had gone by and Joe still hadn’t come clean about the fact that he wasn’t who he said he was.  When he sees Alex he’s more than freaked out that she’s in Dive Bar but truly wants to talk to he and get to know her.  She’s mad at both Joe for being an idiot and herself for falling for someone online.  Joe is persistent and doesn’t give up trying with Alex.  Eventually Alex decides to hear him out but instead of heading home to Seattle after their talk, she gets the flu.  She’s miserable but Joe is there to help her.  As the two get to know each other they become friends for real and then so much more.

This was a great book.  I really loved both Alex and Joe and together they made me laugh, a lot.  They worked together so well and played off each other’s strengths.  Alex was a snarky woman and I loved that.  The fact that Joe could not only keep up but give it back to her made me like them even more.

The friends to lovers aspect of the book was done well, I thought, especially in light of Joe’s catfishing.  Once they became lovers I thought nothing could break them apart but of course the author proved me wrong.  Fortunately they got their HEA and I was quite pleased with the outcome of the book.

If you haven’t read either Dirty or Twist, you really need to as they’re darned good books.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Oh, and this cover? Yum. 🙂

four-stars

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Guest Review: The Thing About Love by Julie James

Posted April 18, 2017 by Jen in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: The Thing About Love by Julie JamesReviewer: Jen
The Thing About Love by Julie James
Published by Berkley
Publication Date: April 18th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 368
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

Two undercover FBI agents can hide who they are from everyone but each other in the latest novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Suddenly One Summer.

FBI agents Jessica Harlow and John Shepherd have a past. The former lawyer and cocky Army ranger clashed during their training at Quantico, gladly going their separate ways after graduating from the Academy. Six years later, the last thing either of them expects is to run into each other again–assigned to work as partners in a high-profile undercover sting.
For both of them, being paired with a former rival couldn’t come at a worse time.

Recently divorced from a Hollywood producer and looking for a fresh start, Jessica is eager to prove herself at her new field office. And John is just one case away from his dream assignment to the FBI’s elite Hostage Rescue Team.

In order to nail a corrupt Florida politician, they’ll have to find a way to work as a team–a task that becomes even trickier when they’re forced to hole up at a romantic, beachfront resort as part of the investigation. Suddenly, the heat behind their nonstop sparring threatens to make the job a whole lot more complicated. . .

It’s actually been a loooong while since I’d read a Julie James book, but something about this one sparked my interest, so I picked it up. Good choice, Past Jen!

Jessica Harlow (which, incidentally, is a super cool name for a heroine, no?) recently transferred to the Chicago FBI office. Her first case is to go undercover posing as an investor to catch a corrupt politician. The problem is, she’s paired with John Shepherd, her arch rival from the FBI Academy. John has been groomed to join the ultra-elite Hostage Rescue Team since he was first recruited to the FBI, but he’s been dragging his feet on applying. When his current relationship blows up at the start of the book, he decides it’s time to finally to do what he was groomed for and sign up for HRT. Jessica wants her first case in the new office to be a success to impress her new colleagues, and John wants to go out with a win. The problem is, neither one can stand the other. They have to figure out how to put aside their differences, and a pesky case of attraction, to get the job done.

I really loved the “he said, she said” premise of the conflict in this book. While Jessica and John share a history, they definitely did NOT experience that history in the same way! Hearing them each tell their own version of their time at the Academy was funny and very illuminating. Jessica obviously had a bit of a chip on her shoulder, but it felt very justified because she was a woman in a world dominated by hot shot men. She had to be tough, and it’s easy to see how that would make her seem standoffish and unapproachable. John has a very different take on the situation, and to him he was just trying to be friendly while she was the one being condescending. For example, both Jessica and John recall an incident from their very first meeting, where John makes a jokey comment and winks at Jessica. He meant it as a friendly, welcoming introduction, with no other agenda. She interpreted it as flirting and patronizing her. Yes, Jessica seems harsh in that scene, but to me it was such a clear example of how a man might not even consider that a gesture like a wink could seem off putting to a woman used to dealing with misogyny and harassment. For his part, John tries to be open and friendly with Jessica, until she starts obviously competing with him, which triggers his own insecurities about being all brawn and no brain. Both of them had perfectly understandable interpretations of the past, and both of them were very wrong about the other.

As usual, James does a wonderful job making the investigation details seem realistic. Jessica and John are both scarily good at their jobs, and both act like actual investigators would act (or at least how I imagine they would act!). While there’s a little bit of light action at the end, for the most part this book is all about the well-planned white collar investigation, not shoot-em-up high stakes battles. What James does so well, though, is blend the competent job performance and the intriguing personal relationship into an engaging story you want to keep reading.

There were a few missteps, though. First, I felt like the conflict with John’s friends and the kerfuffle over his girlfriend never really went anywhere. There was never any real resolution there, so I didn’t quite understand the point. Also, John leaving to do HRT seemed a little forced. I mean, that was sort of the point because he clearly was clearly conflicted, but I felt like his conflict went on a little too long. I also wanted Jessica to be more honest with John. Some of the end drama would have been resolved by both John and Jessica just having a solid conversation earlier, instead of dragging out the angst.

Still, this story had a unique perspective and characters I liked getting to know.

Grade: 4 out of 5

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

four-stars

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Author Interview: Julie James Dishes About the FBI and The Thing About Love!

Posted April 17, 2017 by Holly in Giveaways, Promotions | 10 Comments

Today we’re excited to have Julie James here to answer some questions about THE THING ABOUT LOVE (Berkley Romance, April 18, 2017). If you haven’t pre-ordered it, you must! It was such a wonderful read. Full of witty banter, with an exciting plot, it’s not to be missed.

Author Interview: Julie James Dishes About the FBI and The Thing About Love!The Thing About Love by Julie James
Published by Berkley
Publication Date: April 18th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 368
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads

Two undercover FBI agents can hide who they are from everyone but each other in the latest novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Suddenly One Summer.

FBI agents Jessica Harlow and John Shepherd have a past. The former lawyer and cocky Army ranger clashed during their training at Quantico, gladly going their separate ways after graduating from the Academy. Six years later, the last thing either of them expects is to run into each other again–assigned to work as partners in a high-profile undercover sting.

For both of them, being paired with a former rival couldn’t come at a worse time. Recently divorced from a Hollywood producer and looking for a fresh start, Jessica is eager to prove herself at her new field office. And John is just one case away from his dream assignment to the FBI’s elite Hostage Rescue Team. In order to nail a corrupt Florida politician, they’ll have to find a way to work as a team–a task that becomes even trickier when they’re forced to hole up at a romantic, beachfront resort as part of the investigation.

Suddenly, the heat behind their nonstop sparring threatens to make the job a whole lot more complicated. . .

 

 

 

Order the Book:

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Interview

Is it true that you were once interested in a career with the FBI?
Yes! I went to law school with the thought of possibly becoming an FBI agent. My first semester of law school, I met with an FBI recruiter, and he told me I was ineligible because I didn’t meet the vision requirements. (I’d planned to have Lasix surgery, but back then, that didn’t count—a rule that has since been changed.) While I was discouraged at the time, becoming a trial lawyer turned out to be a good fit for me. And, knowing what I do now, I’m not sure I would’ve made it through the PT part of the FBI Academy. 🙂

What research did you do for THE THING ABOUT LOVE?
I had to do research into the FBI Academy, and the Hostage Rescue Team. The FBI has some information about Selection and HRT on their website, but I also had to rely on news articles about the Team, and I read a memoir written by a former HRT operator.

I also had to do research on the specifics of the undercover investigation in the book, so that I knew what my heroine and hero would actually be doing. The case in the book is loosely based on a real-life case: the mayor of Charlotte, NC was arrested and convicted for accepting bribes in a manner similar to the mayor in my case. For research, I pulled news stories about the Charlotte mayor’s trial, court hearing transcripts, and press releases from the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s office.

Your female characters always have the best quips and comebacks. What inspires your dialogue?
I’m a film buff, and I started my writing career with screenplays. I think my focus on dialogue stems from that. And I think all of my heroine/hero pairings have a dynamic that’s one part Elizabeth Bennet/Mr. Darcy and one-part Princess Leia/Han Solo.

Why do you enjoy about writing about talented, career-focused women who find love?
I write women who are like the women I know. The “finding love” part of those stories comes from being a longtime fan of romantic comedies.

 

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About the Author

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | PINTEREST | TUMBLR | GOODREADS

Julie James is the New York Times bestselling author of six previous novels. James graduated from the University of Illinois College of Law and clerked for the United States Court of Appeals in Jacksonville, FL. She lives in Chicago with her family. Learn more at juliejames.com, Facebook.com/JulieJamesFanPage, and Twitter.com/juljames.

 

Meet Julie

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