Genre: Contemporary Romance

Guest Review: Sworn to Protect by Diana Gardin

Posted June 22, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Sworn to Protect by Diana GardinReviewer: Tracy
Sworn to Protect by Diana Gardin
Series: Rescue Ops #1
Published by Forever Yours
Publication Date: June 4th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romantic Suspense
Pages: 368
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three-half-stars

To keep her safe, he'll have to uncover all her secrets...

Rayne Alexander. A face I never thought I'd see again, and one I never could forget. Nine years ago, she left town-and me--without a backward glance. But now she's back, with a haunted look in her eyes and a feisty attitude that didn't exist when we were teenagers. Seeing this grown-up--and sexy--Rayne is something I wasn't prepared for... and it's bringing up feelings I'd thought I'd buried years ago.

Although I want to demand answers from Rayne, working on black ops at Night Eagle Security has taught me that it's sometimes better to keep my mouth shut. So when I catch her hiding a photo of a little boy, I'm curious. When I see her jump as her phone rings, I'm concerned. But the second I notice a car following her home, I know she's hiding something. Something dangerous. And while I may not know why she left or why she's back, if there's someone out there Rayne is afraid of, I'll make damn sure that threat is eliminated.

Rayne was working late at her job in Phoenix, AZ one night when she came across some info on her boss’s desk that she shouldn’t have. The kind of information that could ruin him and put him in prison. He doesn’t catch up with her as she runs from the building but she knows that she needs to get the hell out of Dodge.  She takes her eight-year-old son, Decker, and runs back to her hometown of Wilmington, North Carolina.  When she had first moved to Phoenix she had changed her name so she figures going back to her old name will hide her sufficiently. Not the case.

Rayne moves into her sister’s house as her sister is out of town and gets a job at Night Eagle Security.  She never planned on seeing her high school boyfriend, Jeremy Teague, ever again but the minute he walks into NES – cuz he works there – all of the old feelings start to come back.  Rayne had gotten pregnant by Jeremy when she was a teen and then was cast aside by Jeremy, his grandparents who raised him and then her own parents.  She knows she shouldn’t have any feelings toward Jeremy except disdain but that’s not what happens.  When Jeremy finds out that Decker is his (because he never knew she was pregnant) he’s so excited and wants nothing more than to be with Rayne and Decker and make them a family.

Rayne’s old boss, however, wants her captured and brought to him so that he can take care of her the way he wants.  Jeremy will do anything to keep Rayne and Decker safe but will he be able to in the end?

Sworn to Protect is a good little second chance at love romance/suspense story.  It had a lot of ins and outs and things going on.

Rayne is back in her hometown.  She loved Jeremy when she was younger but his grandparents told her that he wanted nothing to do with the baby when in fact they never told him she was pregnant.  Then her parents took to a clinic to get the baby aborted and she ran.  She’d been living the last 9 years thinking that Jeremy betrayed their love but that wasn’t the case at all.  Once Rayne and Jeremy are together again things fall into place and all is good.  Except for her old boss that’s threatening her.  I was a little confused about the boss, quite frankly.  He was at first after her because of the things she knew about him but then it turned to the fact that he didn’t want her dead he wanted to keep her and tame her sexually – ew.  It was more than a little creepy, to say the least and kind of a weird, expected twist.  Then Jeremy’s grandfather got involved and it was a bit too much.

Of course NES gets involved as that’s what they do but it all seemed a little too easy.  IDK, there was just some aspect of the story that was missing that made this a good book, but not great.  The elements were there but there was something in the execution that was lacking, imho.  The characters were good, the story was a decent one but I definitely didn’t end the book thinking, “Wow, that was really good!”

So in the end a decent read but it wasn’t something that grabbed me and wouldn’t let go.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars

Guest Review: 10 Dates by Emily James

Posted May 29, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: 10 Dates by Emily JamesReviewer: Tracy
10 Dates by Emily James
Published by Self-Published
Publication Date: May 16th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Humorous
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three-half-stars

Joanie Fox can't wait to settle down and marry the man of her dreams. However, when her engagement starts to look more stalemate than soulmate, her best friend stages an intervention sure to make even the most hardened, serial daters wince: 10 Dates in 10 Days.

Statistically, if you kiss a lot of frogs there's bound to be at least one that's not a complete toad, isn't there? With nothing to lose, Joanie embarks on a crazy rollercoaster of blind dates. After all, what can possibly go wrong in the search for Mr. Right?

10 Dates is a standalone, sexy, laugh out loud romantic comedy with a happy ending. It is not for the feint hearted and is best suited for readers over the age of eighteen due to sexual themes and mature content.

Joanie’s been with the same loser boyfriend, Chris, for three years.  The guy has cheated on her, used her and her money and she still hopes that he asks her to marry him. Ok…   So Chris asks Joanie to put on a New Year’s Eve party which she does – spending all of her own money – because she thinks he’s going to propose and why not go all out on your engagement party, right?  Instead he announces that he’s leaving England to head to New York to promote his dating app.  Chris is shocked when Joanie is upset – but that’s not before he pops her in the eye (albeit accidentally) with a champagne cork and she falls into the cake at the party.

Joanie is arguing with Chris the next day in the lobby of her apartment building when a tenant comes out to make sure everything is alright.  Joanie is speechless as the guy is dripping wet and only in a towel but she manages to keep her tongue in her mouth.  That starts the interactions between Joanie who lives in apartment number 4 and her next-door neighbor who lives in apartment 6.  They have no idea what each other’s names are so they go by Four and Six.

Joanie’s best friends Melinda and Mikey decide (mostly Melinda) that Joanie needs to go on 10 dates in 10 days with guys that Melinda has chosen and there’s bound to be someone that Joanie connects with.  So begin the dates and they go from bad to worse.  While all of this is going on Joanie’s flirting with Six and she starts to think that something’s there.  Unfortunately some miscommunication sends the pair reeling and the two might never be able to connect.

This was a cute little romance.  I like Joanie a lot and thought she had an overabundance of patience with her best friends.  They were each going through their own relationship issues so they were all kind of working together to get through it all.

Joanie and Six’s friendship started off well and I loved their interactions. They were very cute together and I could see how they would be good together.  I wish that they could have spent a bit more time together on page but we did have to get through the dates.

Another issue with the book is one that might not bother anyone else.  I’m not a huge fan of slapstick comedy and this book had a bunch.  If something bad could happen to Joanie it did and she was constantly, slipping, falling, acting crazy, eating pot cookies – you name it – that would make her act silly.  Some readers might think it’s fun and funny but I just thought it made her look ridiculous and clumsy (although the pot cookies were not her fault. 🙂 ).

Despite my issues with the comedy and on-page time I thought the story and characters were great.  I really enjoyed reading Joanie’s journey through her dates and the romance between Joanie and Six.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

three-half-stars

Guest Review: Hot Shot by Kelly Jamieson

Posted May 23, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Hot Shot by Kelly JamiesonReviewer: Tracy
Hot Shot by Kelly Jamieson
Series: Last Shot #2
Published by Loveswept
Publication Date: May 16th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
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four-stars

Marco Solis knows that if he gets too close to people they disappear. His parents were deported back to Mexico when he was fourteen, his fiancée married someone else while he was in the military, and now his business partner’s spending more time with his girl than with Marco. For better or worse, that’s how Marco meets Carrie Garner. She’s legitimately model-hot. She’s also a nut—a wild, artsy, unapproachable nut. So why is Marco so interested in cracking her shell?

Although Carrie Garner is a natural in front of the camera, her dream is to make it as a photographer. Soon she’ll be heading to Spain for design school, and she’ll miss her best friend, Hayden, like crazy. She’ll even miss Hayden’s boyfriend, Beck—but she won’t miss Beck’s partner, Marco. Bossy, brooding, and annoyingly sexy, Marco really pushes her buttons, though he obviously wouldn’t mind pushing her buttons in an up-against-the-wall, hard-and-fast kind of way. The craziest part is, if Carrie lets him do that, well . . . she may never want to leave.

Includes an excerpt from another Loveswept title.

Marco owns a tequila bar with his friends Cade and Beck.  They were all Navy SEALS and now they work together once again.  Marco met Carrie when she came in for a tequila tasting with Hayden, who is now Beck’s fiancé.  He was attracted to Carrie from the first minute but Carrie shut his flirting down pretty much instantaneously.  He just figured that she thought he wasn’t good enough for her.

Carrie’s always been attracted to Marco but she doesn’t like to admit it to herself.  When Marco first flirted with her she felt like he just thought she was a dumb bimbo and blew him off.  As she gets to know him, now that they’re planning Beck and Hayden’s engagement party together, she sees that she was wrong about him.  Sparks fly when they’re together but Carrie’s leaving to go to school in Spain for 9 months so she’s not about to get involved with anyone.

Marco and Carrie decide to start a fling and will end it when she leaves for Spain.  Little did they know that they’d fall in love.  Of course neither are confident enough to tell the other so this leaves each of them heart-broken.

This was a cute, light read from Jamieson.  Despite the feelings that both Marco and Carrie carried with them about themselves I thought that the author did a great job of not dragging the story down with their issues.  They were talked about and definitely were a major focus of the book but when I read the last page I wasn’t depressed with a sad knot in my chest.  She dealt with both the hero and heroine’s  personal issues in a way that made it emotional but not over-bearing.

Marco was a fantastic character.  I really liked him so much as my heart went out to all that he’d been through in his life when he was an adolescent.  He’d moved on and made something of himself – something he could be proud of and it showed in his whole being.  I loved that he saw Carrie as others didn’t.  He saw in her the bright shining light she was and then made it even brighter with his love.

Carrie had some serious self-esteem issues even though she was a model.  She felt like the tall gangly kid she’d always been while growing up and didn’t see herself as gorgeous.  It wasn’t a vanity thing – wanting people to tell her she’s gorgeous.  It was the opposite, in fact and it was just how she felt. She also felt that since her entire family was into business and had great careers that she hadn’t done anything productive in her life – which wasn’t true at all.  I liked her character a lot as she worked on her self-esteem and the feelings of not being good enough for her family.

Overall I found Hot Shot to be a thoroughly enjoyable book and I’m looking forward to reading what happens with Marco’s friend Cade in the next book.

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars

Guest Review: Live Out Loud by Marie Meyer

Posted May 12, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 2 Comments

Guest Review: Live Out Loud by Marie MeyerReviewer: Tracy
Live Out Loud by Marie Meyer
Published by Forever Yours
Publication Date: April 30th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 320
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four-stars

I thought I'd live in silence forever . . . and then I met him.

I'll never be able to hear, but music has always been a source of comfort for me. Rather than listen to the rhythm, I can actually feel the beat pulsing through me. It's pure bliss. So the moment I saw Thorin playing his guitar, I was mesmerized. I'd never seen anything more beautiful . . . or intimate. I couldn't tell where his body ended and the song began. He's everything I need in my life . . . I'm falling fast, hard, and deep.

I want him more than anything. But while I live in silence, Thor lives in secrets. He's holding something back-something that's keeping this intensity, this longing from being real. And the silence may be too loud to bear . . .

Harper King is deaf but that doesn’t stop her from enjoying music.  Her friend takes her out one night to see a band that she’s crushing on and Harper ends up connecting with the guitarist of the band, Thor.  Thor is enamored of Harper as she is with him.  They end up going out and despite the difficulties in communicating they manage just fine.

Harper is in school and doing her pharmacy clinical rotation at a children’s hospital and doing really well.  She lives with a friend and far away from her parents.  She loves her parents but they try to coddle her because of her deafness.  Despite their coddling, they never learned sign language which she hates.  She believes that if they loved her enough they would have made every effort to learn to communicate with her in her language.  When Thor states his desire to learn sign language, Harper is beyond thrilled.  She tells him that she’ll teach him ASL if he’ll teach her how to play the guitar.

Thor has had a hard life.  His father, who used to be a good dad became an abuser.  His favorite punching bag is Thor’s mother but Thor finally got his mother away from his dad.  He fears, however, that he’ll become just like his dad and this has kept him from any long-term relationships. Despite his fears he can’t seem to keep himself away from Harper.  He wants it all but his fears may tear them apart.

Live Out Loud was a sweet romance.  The relationship between Thor and Harper was so lovely and one that I really enjoyed reading.

Thor’s issues with his dad are many – completely justifiable.  He wants to take care of his mother and keep her far away from his father.  It’s obvious to the reader that Thor’s fear of becoming his father is ridiculous as he’s such a kind and generous person, but he has to get that through his head before he can completely commit to Harper.  I loved that he finally managed to realize the truth and got his HEA with Harper.

While I really liked this book I have to say that it did lag at times.  I understood Thor’s problem but I had a hard time with how he kept things from Harper.  It made the book a bit frustrating at times, I must say.  Overall, however, the book was really good and one I definitely recommend.

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars

Guest Review: Block & Tackle by Elise Faber, Stephanie Fournet & Kristin Vayden

Posted May 11, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 3 Comments

Guest Review: Block & Tackle by Elise Faber, Stephanie Fournet & Kristin VaydenReviewer: Tracy
Block & Tackle by Elise Faber, Stephanie Fournet, Kristin Vayden
Published by Blue Tulip Publishing
Publication Date: March 13th 2017
Genres: Anthologies (multiple authors), Contemporary Romance, Sports
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four-stars

Offsides by Elise Faber

Job title:
Executive Assistant for CEO of Prestige Media Group

Job description:
(1) Deal with a massive amount of emails.
(2) Schedule conference calls and meetings with top athletes and other hugely important people.
(3) Pick up dry cleaning and food, consult on tie selection, make dinner reservations, and book flights . . . basically act as a wife-on-steroids.
(4) THE IMPORTANT ONE: Do not, under any circumstances, fall in love with Devon Scott—demanding boss, former NHL player, and all-around gorgeous specimen of the male persuasion.

Job performance:
Failing.
Absolutely failing at number four.

Off Guard by Stephanie Fournet

Life couldn’t be better for Charlie Woodruff.

After a year of holding out, she’s finally landed the job she’s always wanted in the city of her dreams. An apartment she can afford and new friends at work make the transition easy.
When she meets a gorgeous stranger who makes her laugh and steals her breath, it seems like the icing on the cake...

Until Charlie discovers he’s a client.

Hutch Barlow — newly drafted wide receiver for the Oakland Raiders — looks like an avenging angel, hangs on her every word, and is completely off-limits. The trouble is he also refuses to take “no” for an answer.

And if she’s being honest, Charlie doesn’t want him to.

But seeing him means she could lose everything — including her heart.

Off Limits by Kristin Vayden

Everything about Ava screams off limits.
To want her is to invite disaster.
To pursue her is to risk my job.
To kiss her might cost me my best friend.
But all those risks seem small in light of the first problem.
She hates me.

To her I’m a sell out, choosing to advance my career rather than protect my biggest client.
Her brother.
And my best friend.
She hasn’t spoken to me in over a year, but that ends now.
Because I’m done with holding back.
To hell with the consequences.
Wish me luck . . .

Offsides by Elise Faber

Devon is a retired hockey player and now the CEO of Prestige Media Group.  Becca is his temporary assistant while his regular assistant is on maternity leave.  Devon is hot for Becca but knows that he shouldn’t get involved with an employee – even a temporary one.  Becca has got it bad for Devon but as much as she wants him her life is too crazy to get involved with him.  Her mother needs medical care and Becca works two jobs to try and pay the medical bills.  She’s also got an angry ex that is messing with her and is more than dangerous to both Becca and Devon.

This was a sweet boss/employee story.  Devon doesn’t hold out for very long before he’s giving in to his desire for Becca but I loved the sexual tension between the two of them.  I liked a lot about this story – the dialogue, the story, the passion between Devon and Becca – it was just a good read.

Story rating: 4 out of 5

 

Off Guard by Stephanie Fournet

Charlie has finally started the job of her dreams.  She’s recently moved to San Francisco and is out running when she runs into a fellow runner.  They hit it off and she thinks that maybe this guy might be someone she can really like until she finds out his name, Hutch Barlow, and realizes who he is, new wide receiver for the Oakland Raider, and that he’s a client of her boss.  Prestige Media Group – her new employer – strictly forbids employees from dating clients.  Charlie tries to get Hutch to understand that she can’t see him but Hutch refuses to take no for an answer – showing up at her apartment with dinner and his irresistible charm. Charlie finds herself falling in love with Hutch but she knows that she can never be with him as she’s not willing to sacrifice the career she’s always wanted.

This was an adorable story.  I loved Hutch’s persistence with Charlie even knowing that she was off-limits to him.  He just liked her so much and was willing to give up a lot to be with her that it warmed my heart.  I think a lot of people would have thought he was ridiculous but I found it romantic and lovely.  Fournet has a way with words and she did a great job writing this story.

Story rating: 4 out of 5

 

Off Limits by Kristin Vayden

Markus and Bryce were college roommates and best friends.  Bryce got drafted into the NFL and Markus got hired by Prestige Media Group and becomes his agent.  Bryce has a twin, Ava, who Markus has been in love with for forever.  He wants nothing more than to make Ava happy but she hates him because she thought at one point in Bryce’s career that Markus was selling out and taking a risk with Bryce’s life.  Bryce has gotten a concussion but recovered and went back onto the field.  Ava believed that Bryce’s life was on the line if he got hit again but he was fine.  Five years later Ava still hates Markus – or at least acts like she does.  She can’t resist the man for long as she’s always had a thing for him. Markus should stay away from his best friend’s sister but he just can’t do it once she finally forgives him.

Unfortunately this was my least favorite of the three stories.  I didn’t feel the chemistry between Markus and Ava as I felt I should.  I also didn’t feel the whole forbidden love thing that the whole anthology was based on.  There were some decent parts of the story but overall I didn’t care for Off Limits.

Story rating: 3 out of 5

 

Overall book rating: 3.75 out of 5

four-stars