Genre: Contemporary Romance

Guest Review: So Bad It Must Be Good by Nicole Helm

Posted August 17, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: So Bad It Must Be Good by Nicole HelmReviewer: Tracy
So Bad It Must Be Good by Nicole Helm
Published by Kensington Publishing Corp., Lyrical Press
Publication Date: August 22nd 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
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three-half-stars

Wrong guy. Wrong situation. Might be right.

Free of her overbearing family and their dreams, not hers, Kayla Gallagher is living for herself instead of for her clan's successful restaurant. Step One: finally make her move on Aiden Patrick, the bad-boy son of Gallagher's long-time repairman. Too bad Aidan’s taciturn older brother shows up instead . . .

As the “responsible Patrick,” Liam has always made a conscious choice to do the right thing. He likes fixing things for people—whether it be a broken appliance or a bad situation. Which means he can’t just brush off the quiet Gallagher. Clearly, she needs a shoulder to lean on. But suddenly a shoulder becomes so much more, and Kayla isn’t the quiet little girl she used to be. She’s a vivid, down-for-anything woman showing Liam several sizzling ways to put passion first . . .

As things heat up between them, Liam’s family threatens to come apart for good. The only way Liam can set things right means giving up Kayla. But she’s not about to take no for an answer—or let their chance for something sweeter than desire crash-and burn without a fight.

Kayla has always worked for her family but she decided she’d been treated badly one too many times and quit.  Unfortunately she’d not really done anything since then.  She sees her old crush Aiden Patrick one day and he’s excited to see her.  Aiden asks Kayla out but when it comes time for the date Aiden isn’t around – is supposedly dealing with something – and asks his stoic brother, Liam, to go tell Kayla that he can’t make it.

Liam heads to the bar and ends up talking to Kayla (who’s pissed about Aiden) and even though they don’t touch each other that night they eventually start a relationship.  They’re so good together but Aiden is pissed at his brother for taking “his girl” and complains to mommy – who asks Liam to give Kayla up to keep the peace in the family.  Liam has to decide if he will go with his family’s wishes or stay with the woman he loves.

This was a pretty cute book.  It seemed to be a pretty fast read as Liam and Kayla get together and things move along at a pretty fast clip.  I liked Liam and Kayla together so reading their romance was a treat.

I hated the way that Liam’s family treated him – mostly his mother and brother.  Kayla hated it too and it was really the only thing they got into arguments about.  When Liam’s mom asks Liam to give her up because of Aiden, I was madder than a hornet! What mother does that?  Ugh!

Anyway, the romance was cute and I liked the characters in the story.  It was a pleasant read and I definitely liked it better than book one in this series.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Review: Ready to Run by Lauren Layne

Posted August 15, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 3 Comments

Review: Ready to Run by Lauren LayneReviewer: Rowena
Ready to Run by Lauren Layne
Series: I Do I Don't #1
Published by Loveswept
Publication Date: August 22nd, 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
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three-half-stars

The Bachelor meets The Runaway Bride in this addictive romance novel about a reality TV producer falling for her would-be star: a Montana heartthrob who wants nothing to do with the show.

Jordan Carpenter thinks she’s finally found the perfect candidate for Jilted, a new dating show about runaway grooms: Luke Elliott, a playboy firefighter who’s left not one but three brides at the altar. The only problem? Luke refuses to answer Jordan’s emails or return her calls. Which is how she ends up on a flight to Montana to recruit him in person. It’s not Manhattan but at least the locals in Lucky Hollow seem friendly . . . except for Luke, who’s more intense—and way hotter—than the slick womanizer Jordan expected.

Eager to put the past behind him, Luke has zero intention of following this gorgeous, fast-talking city girl back to New York. But before he can send her packing, Jordan’s everywhere: at his favorite bar, the county fair, even his exes’ book club. Annoyingly, everyone in Lucky Hollow seems to like her—and deep down, she’s starting to grow on him too. But the more he fights her constant pestering, the more Luke finds himself wishing that Jordan would kick off her high heels and make herself comfortable in his arms.

Lauren Layne is writing a Bachelor type series and Ready to Run is the first book. It follows our heroine Jordan Carpenter as she makes her way to a small town Lucky Hollow in Montana to try to get firefighter Luke Elliot to join the cast of her upcoming Bachelor type reality show called Jilted…as the bachelor. Jilted is a reality show that will help runaway grooms find true love.

Jordan can’t figure out why this guy wouldn’t want to join the show. Who would walk away from that much money? Apparently, Luke Elliot has no problem walking away from the money and her. He just wants to live his life out of the limelight and wants nothing to do with a tv show, a big shot city slicker and he doesn’t want his personal life and the reasons he walked away from each of his exes to be public knowledge. He had a good life and he didn’t want strangers all up in his business.

Jordan is trying to make a name for herself in the television business and her boss is really excited about this new reality show. If she wants to move up the corporate business ladder, she’s got to land a heartthrob that viewers will connect with and Luke is the perfect candidate for that. It’s too bad he wants nothing to do with Jilted.

The romance between these two was kind of more of the same that you normally get from Lauren Layne. She writes a lot of those hate-to-love romances and while I liked Luke and Jordan, they weren’t my favorite hate-to-love couple of Layne’s. Jordan was chasing a guy for a tv show with no good reason for not giving up and moving on. She kept pressing this guy even though he made it plain that he wasn’t going to change his mind. She set up camp in his hometown and infiltrated his family, his friends and expected him to what? Be elated? Come on now…

Luke was not happy about the fact that he was attracted to this woman who wanted to turn his life into a freaking circus but damn, the attraction was there and it was strong as hell. The longer she stuck around, the more pissed off he became because the attraction wasn’t anything he planned on acting on but the more time that he spends trying to dodge her, the more he realizes that there’s more to this city girl than meets the eye. His interest in her grows and feelings creep up because this is a romance novel and even though this isn’t my favorite Lauren Layne novel, it still held the charm and warmth that I’ve come to expect from a Lauren Layne book.

I’m definitely interested in reading the other books in this series and I’ve got my fingers crossed that we’ll get to see some of my favorite characters from this book in those ones. I really did like the small town of Lucky Hollow.

Grade: 3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Review: All I Ever Wanted by Luann McLane

Posted August 14, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: All I Ever Wanted by Luann McLaneReviewer: Holly
All I Ever Wanted (Heartthrob #1) by LuAnn McLane
Series: Heartthrob #1
Published by Pocket Star
Publication Date: July 24th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 288
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two-half-stars

From author LuAnn McLane comes the first in a brand new series featuring the sexy Heart brothers: formerly the members of the cult-phenomenon boy band Heartbeat, they’re all grown up and back together for one last reunion tour….

When Grady Heart, former lead singer of the cult-phenomenon boy band Heartbeat and eldest of the brothers, decides to bring the group back together for a highly anticipated reunion concert, he doesn’t expect to be met with so much resistance from his brothers. He also doesn’t expect them to hire his ex-girlfriend and ex-Heartbeat choreographer Arabella York to help the band rock some new dance moves.

Back in Heartbeat’s glory days the brooding bad boy fell hard for Arabella; the studious, stable dance teacher tamed Grady’s wild side but her lack of trust in him eventually drove them apart. Although their chemistry burns hotter than ever, Grady tries to keep his relationship with Arabella strictly professional this time around but in his heart, he might just still long to find out what could have been.

Grady Heart and his brothers were a wildly popular teen boy band. They quit performing when their mother got sick. Now that she’s gone, Grady is organizing a benefit reunion concert in her memory. All his brothers are on board, but there’s a problem…the slick dance moves they used as teens just aren’t possible now that they’re adults. Grady wants everything to be perfect since this is such an important cause. Even so, when his brothers suggest they contact their old choreographer, Arabella, Grady refuses. She broke his heart once. He isn’t willing to give her a second chance. Too bad for him, his brothers go behind his back and call her. Faced with the prospect of spending time with the woman who disappeared without backward glance, Grady admits he still isn’t over her. But he’s not going to give her his heart again.

Arabella is in a financial pickle. She opened a string of successful fitness studios, but she got in over her head and expanded too quickly. Now she either needs a serious infusion of cash or she’s going to be forced to take on a demanding partner who wants to rebrand her entire operation. But facing bad boy Grady Heart again after he ruined her for love isn’t high on her list of fun things to do. Still, she doesn’t have much choice if she wants to save her studios. Now she just needs to keep a calm head around Grady. There’s no way she’s going to risk falling for him again. She learned the hard way the rockstar life is not for her.

I really struggled with this book. I like rock star romances and figured a light boy band second chance love story was right up my alley. Sadly the brothers seemed to suffer from Peter Pan Syndrome. Despite all being in their late 20’s-early 30’s, they still acted like teenagers. The heroine was just as bad. Between her refusal to talk things out like an adult and the way she ran every time something got hard, I had a hard time buying that she was an adult with a successful string of dance studios under her.

I really believed Grady cared for her, but I wasn’t as convinced of Arabella’s feelings. She was closed off and ran at the first sign of trouble or drama. Because she didn’t stick with him, despite her saying she loved Grady, I didn’t buy it.

The premise was good, and I enjoyed some of it. I may continue on with the series.

2.75 out of 5

two-half-stars


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Sunday Spotlight: Illegal Contact by Santino Hassell

Posted August 13, 2017 by Holly in Features, Giveaways | 5 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be  raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

Sunday Spotlight

Sunday Spotlight: Illegal Contact by Santino HassellIllegal Contact (The Barons, #1) by Santino Hassell
Series: The Barons #1
Published by Penguin, Intermix
Publication Date: August 15, 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance, M/M
Pages: 251
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The rules of the game don’t apply off the field in this first Barons novel. 

New York Barons tight end Gavin Brawley is suspended from the team and on house arrest after a video of him brawling goes viral. Gavin already has a reputation as a jerk with a temper on and off the field—which doesn’t help him once he finds himself on the wrong side of the law. And while he’s been successful professionally, he’s never been lucky when it comes to love.

Noah Monroe is a recent college grad looking for a job—any job—to pay off his mounting student debt. Working as Gavin’s personal assistant/babysitter seems like easy money. But Noah isn’t prepared for the electrifying tension between him and the football player. He’s not sure if he’d rather argue with Gavin or tackle him to the floor. But both men know the score, and neither is sure what will happen once Gavin's timeout is over…

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Excerpt


Gavin

Somewhere in the past couple of weeks, right around the time I’d watched Noah’s face light up as he threw himself into philanthropic planning schemes and he’d warned me about Joe being a nosy scumbag, I’d lost my mind. Evidence? Me wanting to smack my closest friend for putting the moves on him.

At first I’d thought I was being overprotective. Not even a week ago, I’d had this whole talk with Noah about him feeling safe, and I’d taken it seriously. As a foster kid, I’d never felt safe. Especially in the homes of people who’d temporarily taken me in. I’d been constantly reminded of my precarious position in their houses, and how they could put in a thirty-day notice with my social worker at any point. And they’d used that leverage against me.

I wasn’t about to step into the shoes of bastards who’d worked hard to ensure I would end up distrusting and despising people for the rest of my life.

He was my employee. I was his boss. He obviously didn’t trust me but had agreed to shack up in my house for two reasons only—money to help his father and to catch up on his debt. He didn’t really want to be here, but he had to be. The least I could do was respect his wishes. The same for my friends, but Simeon was laying it on thick.

As he’d run his hands all over Noah, I’d justified each jolt of discomfort by saying Simeon was shitting all over my promise. But Noah agreeing to fan day and whatever else? That had turned discomfort into outright jealousy. Especially since he hadn’t even known my damn name after meeting me at the interview, but he knew all sorts of random facts about Simeon. Simeon, who was in full-throttle, charming superstar QB mode. I was over it.

Regardless, my jealousy was a complete anomaly. Had never happened before. But it was happening right the fuck now, and I was furious with myself. Who cared if Noah was cute and a smartass who wasn’t afraid to tell me to go fuck myself? And so what if that turned me on? Who cared if he was proving to be helpful and loyal enough to warn me about Joe? He was still my employee. I wasn’t supposed to care that he was more interested in my best friend.

Fuck. Whose idea had it been for me to be someone’s boss? I had zero clue what I was doing. Why had I ever listened to Joe?

I returned to the game room and paced the mostly empty space. I’d just seen that anger-management person a few days ago, and every tip and suggestion had flown out of my mind. All I could think about was how pissed I was at myself, and how I needed to go down to the gym and beat the shit out of a punching bag to work it out of my system. The last time I’d been this mad at myself had been when I’d trusted a journalist who’d invented a fake backstory for himself to get me to respond to his prying questions. Then he’d blasted my childhood across the front page of the newspaper.

Gavin Brawley Blames His Out of Control Temper on Hardscrabble Past.

Every word out of context. Bits and pieces of my identity twisted to fit the story he’d wanted. After that, I’d vowed to never talk to a reporter again. I hadn’t expected my emotional thermometer to blast through to enraged over Simeon coming on to Noah. And now I had nothing to use as an outlet. I could work out from morning to night, but after a while it was monotonous. Energy being expended but not going anywhere, and I felt like it circled the air and absorbed right back into my shoulders every goddamn night.

“You’re being real extra right now.”

Marcus’ calm voice did nothing to settle me down. “Shut up.”

“Nah.” Marcus yawned and plopped onto one of the sofas. “Fuck, dude, I’m ready for nap time. Your cagey, jealous shit is ruining the vibe.”

“Who says I’m jealous?”

“Your white ass gets so flushed when you’re mad that it would be impossible to miss. I thought you were going to jump Simeon when he made that comment about giving ole boy a ride.”

“Yeah, well, what can I say?” I stopped pacing. “I didn’t invite you assholes over here to give my employee a hard time.”

“Your employee.” Marcus threw his muscular legs up onto the couch and stretched out. “Don’t even front like you don’t want to smash him.”

“I don’t.”

“Bullshit. You were staring them down the whole time we were downstairs. I mean, hey, no judgment. He just looks like a typical white-boy hipster to me, but whatever floats your boat, man. You may want to lay it down for Simeon if you’re serious, though. He most definitely wants to tap that ass.”

I ground my teeth together and tried to remember the last time I’d felt possessive over anyone, but I came up short. Then again, I didn’t normally hang out with the people I had sex with for more than ten minutes after we both came.

“I don’t want Simeon fucking him, and it has nothing to do with me being jealous.” “Oh yeah? What’s it got to do with?”

“Him not pissing off the only person I can stand to have in my house for six months,” I snarled. “Simeon can stick his dick in someone else until Noah is finished here.”

“And then you’d be cool with it?” “Yeah, then I’d be cool with it.”

Marcus snickered. He knew I was full of shit. “Let me ask you a question, Gav.”

“Is that a question or a warning about the fact that I can’t stop you from asking even if I wanted to?” “Probably the last one.” Marcus propped his feet up on the arm of the couch, making himself nice and comfy. “If you’re having jealous temper tantrums over this kid after a month, how the fuck are you gonna act in another two or three? He’s gonna be here all the time, dude. Showering in your bathroom, sleeping in your guest room, jacking it in bed a few thousand square feet away . . .”

“For fuck’s sake, Marcus.”

“Am I right or am I right, though?” He was right. But I refused to admit it.

“I already told you I’m not jealous. Do we get along? Yeah. We do. And you know that’s a miracle when it comes to me. Half the Barons can’t stand my ass because I won’t laugh at their stupid jokes, but at least they respect me. Most people think I’m a piece of shit.”

“And your boy?” Marcus pressed, looking truly intrigued. “What’s he like?”

“He’s . . .” How was he? What was it about him that had even clicked with me enough to make me want to guarantee he not walk out of the oversized front door and not come back? To become desperate and throw in that huge bonus so he wouldn’t have to keep commuting? “He’s a smartass, but he’s a good person. And he gets me.”

Marcus raised an eyebrow. “How’s he get you? He doesn’t even like football.”

The disgusted tone drew a smile out of me. I plopped down in one of the armchairs and tilted my head back. “He didn’t grow up like me, but . . . he gets it. And he’s not phony. He’s straight up with his opinions and isn’t afraid to tell me them.”

“So he’s not scared to say . . . ‘Gavin, you’re being a dickhead.’”

“Basically. He talks almost as much trash as I do, which is probably why we managed to get along. Also, he keeps trying to make me look good to Mel. Gave me credit for all this shit that he came up with. I don’t get it, since I was a total douchebag to him, but I appreciate it. He’s a good dude.”

“Huh.” Marcus slowly nodded, analyzing me with his big dark eyes. “Aiight, I’ll talk to Simeon.” “About what?”

“Him keeping his greedy hands off your boy.” Marcus winked. “But if you’re keeping on with this whole I’m-trying-to-hold-on-to-my-employee bullshit, I’d recommend getting laid. From where I’m sitting, you just look like a jealous, horny bastard.”

“Done.”

Marcus rolled off the sofa and sprang to his feet. He arched his back with a jaw-cracking yawn. “You mind if I catch some sleep, dude? I’ve been having nightmares every night for the past few days.”

“What kind of nightmares?”

“Eh. Stress shit. Getting injured before the season even starts. Moe getting hurt messed me up, man.” “You spoke to him?”

“Yeah.” Marcus sobered. “His agent isn’t feeling too good about his contract since this is his last year, and he’s had four fucking surgeries during the life of it. Remember what I said earlier? About them saying he was injury-prone? I wasn’t making it up. His career may be over, man. Or maybe they’ll trade him to some douchebag team like the Predators.”

The Predators were infamous dickholes. It seemed to be a requirement for signing with them. Even their cheerleaders were mean as fuck. The Slytherin of the NFL. The only time I could play a game without everyone mentioning my shitty reputation was if we were playing the Predators. They, as a whole, had a shittier reputation than me.

“You won’t get hurt.”

Marcus arched a brow. “You a prophet now?”

“Yeah. And I prophesize your ass winning the Super Bowl this year.”

“Without you and Moe? Nope.”

I scoffed. “Yeah, right.”

“For real, man. I love Phil, but he’s no Brawley. He’s small and lean enough to run circles around D- men after a reception, but he has none of your force or bulk. They’re changing everything to account for you and Moe not being there. Fucking sucks.”

It did suck. Even more so because I was now facing the reality that my team was short not one but two starters. If I’d controlled myself better, I’d be there to support them. All of this stress and anxiety about how the season would roll out wouldn’t be on their shoulders, although in my opinion Moe was more of an asset to the team. He was one of the best wide receivers in the league. Even so, I wanted to be there to step up. But I was stuck. Because of my need to escalate shit five times past where it could have ended.

“All right, bud. I’m gonna go talk to Simeon, and you figure out how to get laid.”

I nodded, watching him go, and actually listened to the tip. Between Simeon and Noah, the shit about Moe, and now the news that my replacement wasn’t rising to the occasion of starting for the Barons? I needed an outlet. It was either time to get in a monstrous fistfight or take out the brimming frustration on someone’s ass.

I went for the latter.


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About the Author

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

Santino Hassell was raised by a conservative family but grew up to be a smart-mouthed, school cutting grunge kid, a transient twenty-something, and eventually transformed into a grumpy introvert and unlikely romance author with an affinity for baseball caps. His novels are heavily influenced by the gritty, urban landscape of New York City, and his desire to write relationships fueled by intensity and passion.

He’s been a finalist in both the Bisexual Book Awards and the EPIC Awards, and was nominated for a prestigious RITA award in 2017. His work has been featured in BuzzFeed, Huffington Post, Washington Post, RT Magazine, and Cosmopolitan Magazine.


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Guest Review: Don’t Call Me Sweetheart by Codi Gary

Posted August 10, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 3 Comments

Guest Review: Don’t Call Me Sweetheart by Codi GaryReviewer: Tracy
Don't Call Me Sweetheart by Codi Gary
Series: Something Borrowed #1
Published by Kensington Shine
Publication Date: August 15th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-half-stars

Weddings are big business in picturesque Sweetheart, California, and Something Borrowed’s rent-a-bridesmaid service is thriving among the Hollywood elite. For the women who work there, a walk down the aisle is just a paycheck—until the right guy makes it priceless . . .

RULE #1: GROOMSMEN ARE STRICTLY OFF LIMITS

Marley Stevenson never imagined her stint as a rented Maid of Honor would practically become a career. Then again, nothing in her life has gone according to plan. At least the money’s good—and she needs it to pay off student loans and help out her mom. But the job has rules, which have never been an issue . . . until one encounter with a gorgeous best man—and his swoon-worthy Southern accent—sends Marley reeling.

Determined to get through the weekend with her professional reputation intact, Marley grits her teeth and sends out her best “unavailable” vibes, but Luke Jessup doesn’t give up that easy. A former Marine and a current SWAT team officer, his focus is legendary—and it’s on Marley. Jeopardizing her job is bad enough, and starting a relationship based on half-truths is worse—yet Marley is beginning to wonder if certain risks are worth taking, especially in the name of true love . . .

Marley works at Something Borrowed – a rent-a-bridesmaid service.  She’s doing well and while she doesn’t love her work it pays the bills and lets her save money so that she can fulfill her dream of moving to New York and working for a large publishing house.

Marley meets Luke while he’s in town for his best friend’s wedding and she’s instantly attracted – until she finds out that he’s a groomsman in a wedding that she’s a hired bridesmaid.  Members of the bridal parties are strictly off-limits to employees of Something Borrowed. Marley can’t tell Luke the truth and the she has to act like the bridezilla is a friend of hers when all she wants to do is smack her. Marley does her best to steer clear of Luke but she ends up giving in.  She knows she might lose her job but she thinks she’s in love with him.  Of course she can’t be with him as he lives in LA and she’s moving to New York.

This was a cute story.  Gary does a great job at small town romance and this one hit that mark to a T.  I love small towns so I always wonder what’s so horrible in them that the characters always want to move away.  I guess if you grow up in one it becomes mundane.  Luckily Marley finally saw her town of Sweetheart for the wonderful place it was – it just took her a little while.

The romance in the book was a cute one.  It seemed to happen pretty quickly but it was hot and sexy.  There was a tragedy in this story – no one got hurt – that Marley blames herself for but that all gets worked out.  I liked the story and thought it was a good, entertaining read.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars


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