Genre: Contemporary Romance

Sunday Spotlight: Moonlighter by Sarina Bowen

Posted October 20, 2019 by Rowena in Features, Giveaways | 2 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. 🙂

Sarina Bowen is one of my favorite authors, is a stickler on my auto-buy list and she’s got a new book coming out on October 22nd. Her new book is part of a new series that is a spin-off from her Brooklyn Bruisers series and it introduces some new characters while letting us keep in touch with some old friends from her Brooklyn Bruisers world. We’re getting Bayer’s book, you guys!

Sunday Spotlight: Moonlighter by Sarina BowenMoonlighter by Sarina Bowen
Series: The Company #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: October 22, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 370
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books

Only in my family could a professional hockey player earning seven million dollars a year be considered a slacker.

I’m at the height of my athletic career. Yet my arrogant brother is always trying to recruit me into the family business: a global security company so secretive that I don’t even know its name.

Pass, thanks. I don’t need a summer job.

But the jerk ambushes me with a damsel in distress. That damsel is Alex, the competitive, sassy girl I knew when we were kids. Now she’s a drop-dead gorgeous woman in deep trouble.

So guess who’s on a flight to Hawaii?

It’s going to be a long week in paradise. My job is keeping Alex safe, while her job is torturing me with her tiny bikinis. Or maybe we’re torturing each other. It’s all snark and flirting until the threat against Alex gets serious. And this jock must become her major league protector.

Moonlighter is a stand-alone novel. No cliffhangers, no prior experience necessary. Contains: hackers, hockey players, and a hotel room with only one bed.

If you read Overnight Sensation, Bayer gets hurt and then disappears from that book but in Moonlighter, we find out where he disappeared to and what he got into…and this book was such a delight, which is why we’re spotlighting this book today. It’s a good one and we’re hoping that this excerpt will whet your appetite for another fabulous book from Sarina Bowen. Check it out!

Excerpt

I pass out in the car, too. I don’t wake up until it stops. And then I discover I’m sleeping with my face propped against Eric’s muscular shoulder.

“Oh god, I’m so sorry.” I sit up straight, as if that might help him forget. There’s a little spot of drool near the collar of his polo.

Shoot me.

“It’s fine,” he grumbles. “Just another part of the job description nobody ever gave me. Bodyguard, and pillow to the rich and famous.”

He slides out of the car, and I follow, finding myself blinking up at the entrance to one of Hawaii’s chicest spa resorts. I’m too tired to appreciate the asymmetrical stone facade and the carefully lit water features. But it will be promising tomorrow in the daylight.

Eric already has our two suitcases in hand and it’s all I can do to grab my own carry-on bag and follow him inside the lobby. Luckily, there’s no wait at the check in desk, and all I have to do is hand over my credit card and remain vertical while the desk agent makes two key cards and small talk with Eric.

“There are three pools on the property. The dolphin experience is located down in the cove.”

“Great. Can you tell me where to find the gym?” he asks.

“On the lower level, sir. We have personal trainers, as well. Touch two on your in-room phone to schedule an appointment or a spa treatment.”

“Thank you.”

“Can I show you to your suite?” the woman asks.

“We’d rather just go on up ourselves,” Eric says, holding out a hand for the key cards.

“Certainly. Your suitcases are already on their way.”

“Thank you,” I whisper as soon as the elevator doors close on us. “I can’t handle people right now.”

“I noticed that,” he chuckles.

“Usually I’m a great traveler. Another symptom of pregnancy is extreme exhaustion. Apparently growing an entire human takes a lot of extra energy.”

“Ah,” he says. “Yeah, I’ve never tried that myself, so…” He runs a hand through his hair.

I don’t know why I feel the need to explain myself. It’s the middle of the night back at home. I’m asleep on my feet right now, but anyone would be

Luckily, moments later Eric opens the door to a plush suite. I drag myself inside. And because this is a very nice hotel, our luggage is already waiting for us. I unzip my suitcase and pull out a nightgown along with my toiletry bag. Then I disappear into the marble clad bathroom ahead of Eric. But somebody has to go first, right?

After I’ve changed and brushed my teeth, I take a look in the mirror. My eyes are red, and my hair is messed. I look like a disaster. And when I turn my head, I catch sight of a red indentation on my jaw. Good lord. There’s a Lacoste alligator molded into my face from sleeping on Eric.

There is really no end to today’s mortifications.

After brushing my hair forward to hide the mark, I put on a brave face and leave the bathroom. Eric is in the bedroom, hanging his suit jacket in the closet. My sleep addled brain spends a few seconds remembering how fabulous he looks in a tux. In Florida, when I was trying to figure out why he kept glancing at me, I allowed myself a few glances of my own.

My old friend is seriously hot. As fake boyfriends go, he’s an A-lister.

“You should get some sleep,” he says with a glance over his shoulder. I’m obviously not the only one who thinks I look like a zombie right now.

“So should you,” I point out. Then I turn around and count the beds.

There’s only one.

Oh, dear. I should have seen this wrinkle coming.

The Company

Giveaway Alert

We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the widget below to enter for one of this month’s features.

Sunday Spotlight: October 2019

Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!

About Sarina Bowen

Sarina Bowen is the RITA® Award winning author of over two dozen contemporary and LGTB romance novels. She most recently hit the USA Today bestseller's list in February, with Brooklynaire. Formerly a derivatives trader on Wall Street, Sarina holds a BA in economics from Yale University.

Sarina Bowen is a New Englander whose Vermont ancestors cut timber and farmed the north country since the 1760s. Sarina is grateful for the invention of indoor plumbing and wi-fi during the intervening 250 years. On a few wooded acres, she lives with her husband, two boys, and an ungodly amount of ski and hockey gear.

Sarina's books are published in a dozen languages on four continents. In 2016, The Romance Writers of America honored HIM by Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy with a RITA award for Best Contemporary Romance, Mid-Length.


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Review: No Judgments by Meg Cabot

Posted October 17, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: No Judgments by Meg CabotReviewer: Rowena
No Judgments by Meg Cabot
Series: Little Bridge Island #1
Also in this series: Bridal Boot Camp
Publisher: Harper Collins, William Morrow Paperbacks
Publication Date: September 24, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Point-of-View: Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

The storm of the century is about to hit Little Bridge Island, Florida—and it’s sending waves crashing through Sabrina “Bree” Beckham’s love life…

When a massive hurricane severs all power and cell service to Little Bridge Island—as well as its connection to the mainland—twenty-five-year-old Bree Beckham isn’t worried . . . at first. She’s already escaped one storm—her emotionally abusive ex—so a hurricane seems like it will be a piece of cake.

But animal-loving Bree does become alarmed when she realizes how many islanders have been cut off from their beloved pets. Now it’s up to her to save as many of Little Bridge’s cats and dogs as she can . . . but to do so, she’s going to need help—help she has no choice but to accept from her boss’s sexy nephew, Drew Hartwell, the Mermaid Café’s most notorious heartbreaker.

But when Bree starts falling for Drew, just as Little Bridge’s power is restored and her penitent ex shows up, she has to ask herself if her island fling was only a result of the stormy weather, or if it could last during clear skies too.

I have been a big fan of Meg Cabot’s adult romances for ages now. I have loved pretty much everything that I’ve read by her so I was excited to jump into this book, even though I wasn’t that wild about the novella that came out before this one did. No Judgments is the first full-length book in Meg Cabot’s new Little Bridge Island series and it features a heroine who has moved to Little Bridge Island for a fresh start and the hero that stuck around Little Bridge Island instead of evacuating as everyone else did because of the huge hurricane that is coming right for them on the island.

So Bree moved to Little Bridge Island after dropping out of law school. She works as a waitress at the local diner and dyed her hair pink. She’s moving on from a bad breakup and she’s not turning back. She’s not turning back for anything or anyone. Not the hurricane that is coming straight for her new island home and not for the rich ex-boyfriend that offered her a ride on his private plane to get her out of harm’s way. Not even when her mother calls and tries to demand that Bree gets on that private plane. Bree’s not going anywhere and neither is Drew Hartwell.

So this book tackles life before, during, and then the aftermath of a big hurricane. In the beginning, we see everyone making arrangements to get to safety, off island and then we see the folks that stuck it out on the island, try to survive at the same time that they try to save as many animals that were left behind as they could. On top of all of that, Bree is dealing with a bunch of personal issues that are pretty serious in nature. There’s a death of a loved one and then there’s a sexual assault that nobody believed happened, except Bree knows that it did and she had to get away from the people that were supposed to believe her and take her side.

So as you can see, there’s a lot of stuff to unpack in this book and I usually enjoy all the things that Meg Cabot writes but this time around, I had trouble connecting with Bree, with Drew, with them as a couple and all of the people that left their animals to fend for themselves during a big ass hurricane. I will say that Meg Cabot does a great job of describing life on Little Bridge Island. I loved the small-town feel of the island and I loved that it was a place that welcomed Bree and gave her a safe space to heal from everything that happened in her life but I thought this book was a little too light to really tackle everything that Bree went through to my liking. I’m sure that I will give the next book a try but I’m bummed that I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I hoped I would have. This one started off well but it didn’t live up to the hype I gave it so this one gets 3.25 stars from me.

Final Grade

3.25 out of 5

Little Bridge Island

three-half-stars


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Review: Sweet Heat by Zuri Day

Posted October 15, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Sweet Heat by Zuri DayReviewer: Holly
Sweet Heat by Zuri Day
Series: Blue-Collar Lover #3
Publisher: Kensington
Publication Date: June 25, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 416
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 New to Me Challenge, New to Me Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

The Blue-Collar Lover Series

They don't wear suits, but the five Carter brothers work hard to earn a day's pay--and keep the right woman satisfied . . .

No one turns out luscious pies and to-die-for cakes like Marvin Carter. Few outside of the family know about his baking skills, but working as a restaurant line cook is getting old fast. Now he'll do whatever it takes to win start-up money from a major cooking contest and launch his own business. But his prime competition is making things hot for him in--and out--of the kitchen . . .

Naomi Carson is as savory as her soul food and has twice the spice. This confident, large-and-in-charge beauty also has high aspirations, and will work all her skills against the tasty Mr. Marvin to take first place--and stop living with Grandma. As their attraction burns hot, the other contestants can't take their heat nor their talent, and threaten to burn their dreams to ash. Will the desire be doused--or can Marvin and Naomi find common ground and fire up the chance of a lifetime?

ALSO IN THIS SERIES "Great escapism." --Library Journal on Packing Heat "Sexy, hot deliciousness . . . this power couple light up the page like a 100-megawatt bulb." --USAToday.com on Bad Boy Seduction

Sweet Heat is the third book in Zuri Day‘s Blue-Collar Lovers series. This is the first book I’ve read in the series. I don’t feel like I missed anything by skipping the first two. It read well as a standalone. I do want to go back to the first two, however. I plan to pick them up soon.

Naomi Wells and Marvin Carter meet at auditions for a Food Truck cooking competition. Both are looking for a boost in their careers and the $50,000 grand prize, plus a full tricked out food truck, would go a long way. They have a sizzling attraction and great banter, which serves them well as they go through the various challenges. But things aren’t simple – several contestants seem to be after them, and fraternization is frowned upon. They can’t seem to keep away from each other, though…

This was a cute contemporary story. I really enjoyed the cooking competition and the banter between Marvin and Naomi. They had strong family ties and deep connections which came across well. I especially liked the relationship Marvin had with his mother, and the one between Naomi and her Nana.

There were a couple pretty cheesy parts, and the thing with her ex came out of nowhere and made little sense in the context of the story. Those were minor concerns, however, and I ended up enjoying the book as a whole.

If you want a funny, sweet, sizzling hot contemporary romance, look no further. Sweet Heat delivers.

Rating: 3.25 out of 5

Blue-Collar Lovers

three-half-stars


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Sunday Spotlight: The Play by Elle Kennedy

Posted October 13, 2019 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. 🙂

Elle Kennedy writes such smart romances. I love the witty banter and smart women. I always get sucked right in. But I’ll be honest. I didn’t love how my boy Hunter was treated in the first book. I’m so excited to see him get his story.

Sunday Spotlight: The Play by Elle KennedyThe Play by Elle Kennedy
Series: Briar U #3
Also in this series: The Chase (Briar U, #1), The Risk (Briar U #2)
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: October 7, 2019
Genres: Contemporary Romance, New Adult
Pages: 422
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: four-stars

A brand-new standalone in the New York Times bestselling Briar U series!

She’s the player he never saw coming…

What I learned after last year’s distractions cost my hockey team our entire season? No more screwing up. No more screwing, period. As the new team captain, I need a new philosophy: hockey and school now, women later. Which means that I, Hunter Davenport, am officially going celibate…no matter how hard that makes things.

But there’s nothing in the rulebook that says I can’t be friends with a woman. And I won’t lie—my new classmate Demi Davis is one cool chick. Her smart mouth is hot as hell, and so is the rest of her, but the fact that she’s got a boyfriend eliminates the temptation to touch her.

Except three months into our friendship, Demi is single and looking for a rebound.

And she’s making a play for me.

Avoiding her is impossible. We’re paired up on a yearlong school project, but I’m confident I can resist her. We’d never work, anyway. Our backgrounds are too different, our goals aren’t aligned, and her parents hate my guts.

Hooking up is a very bad idea. Now I just have to convince my body—and my heart.

Excerpt

He’s obviously hiding something as he presses a few buttons on the machine to trigger the cool-down setting. When he glances at me again, his expression is sheepish. “I have a confession to make, but you have to promise not to be mad.”

“I will never promise that. Ever.”

“Seriously?

“Seriously. Tell me at your own peril.”

“Fine. I jerked off the other night—”

“Congratulations. Did your penis tingle when you came?”

“I wasn’t finished.”

“So you didn’t come?”

“I meant I wasn’t finished speaking,” he growls. “I jerked off the other night…fantasizing about you.”

My jaw drops.

Um. What?

“Oh. My. God.” I stare at him in utter disbelief. “Why would you ever tell me that?”

“Because I felt guilty about it. Like I needed to go to church and confess.”

I can feel myself blushing, and I suspect I’m redder than a tomato. Yes, I have many male friends, but this is the first time one of them has confessed to pleasuring themselves while fantasizing about me. I mean…it’s flattering, I guess? If TJ or Darius or—
I shudder at the mere thought of it.

Okay. Interesting response. The idea of my other guy friends masturbating to me is extremely unappealing. But the idea of Hunter stroking his cock and fantasizing about me is…

My thighs actually clench together at the dirty image.

Oh my God.

No.

Nope.

In. Ap. Propriate.

Hunter heaves a big sigh. “I feel so much better now that I got that off my chest.”

“Well, I don’t!” I can’t get the image out of my mind now, and that is so, so wrong.

His dark eyes twinkle. “Take it as a compliment.”

“No, thanks.”

He uses the hem of his shirt to mop up the sweat on his brow, which means he literally just flashed his entire chest to me and the rest of the gym. His washboard abs are glistening.

“Anyway, aside from the teeny little hiccup of me yanking it with you in mind, I’m truly digging this thing we have.” He gestures between us. “Promise me this will never change.”

“That what will never change?”

“That you’ll never want to sleep with me,” he says dramatically.

The sheer arrogance… I release a sigh of my own and reach over to pat his stupidly muscular arm. “I promise I will never want to sleep with you, Hunter.”

BONUS! Want more story? Get the bonus epilogue for The Play here.

Briar U

Giveaway Alert

We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the widget below to enter for one of this month’s features.

Sunday Spotlight: October 2019

Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!

About Elle Kennedy

A New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author, Elle Kennedy grew up in the suburbs of Toronto, Ontario, and holds a B.A. in English from York University. From an early age, she knew she wanted to be a writer, and actively began pursuing that dream when she was a teenager.

Elle writes romantic suspense and erotic contemporary romance for various publishers. She loves strong heroines and sexy alpha heroes, and just enough heat and danger to keep things interesting!


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Buddy Review: Coming Up Roses by Staci Hart

Posted October 8, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Buddy Review: Coming Up Roses by Staci HartReviewer: Ames and Rowena
Coming Up Roses by Staci Hart
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: August 1, 2019
Format: eBook
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Point-of-View: First
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 293
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars

Everyone hates parts of their job.

Maybe it’s the paperwork. Maybe it’s the day-to-day grind. Maybe it’s that client who never knows what they want, or the guy who always cooks fish in the microwave.

But not me. I love every corner of the Longbourne Flower Shop, every flower, every petal, every stem. I love the greenhouse, and I love Mrs. Bennet, my boss. I love creating, and I love being a florist. I don’t hate anything at all.

Except for Luke Bennet.

The Bennet brothers have come home to help their mom save the flower shop, and Luke is at the helm. His smile tells a tale of lust, loose and easy. He moves with the grace of a predator, feral and wild. A thing unbridled, without rules or constraint.

When he comes home to save Longbourne, I almost can’t be mad at him.

Almost.

He doesn’t remember that night I’ll never forget. That kiss, touched with whiskey and fire. It branded me like a red-hot iron. But it meant nothing to him.

Everyone hates part of their job, and I hate Luke Bennet.Because if I don’t, I’ll fall in love with him.

*Spinoff of The Austen Series

Rowena: Coming Up Roses is a standalone contemporary romance by Staci Hart and it’s the romance that Ames and I decided to read together last month. August was a busy month for me, so I let this review slide but I’m here to fix that now so better late than never, right? 🙂

So, it took me a while to warm up to this story because I didn’t connect with our main character, Tess, all that much. She annoyed the snot out of me in the beginning but when I started to warm up to her character, stupid things happened and I was kind of like, WTF? throughout the rest of the book but even with all of that said, I still enjoyed parts of this one. I loved Luke’s family, I loved seeing Luke and Tess grow closer together and save the shop together but there were quite a few things that made me roll my eyes all the way to San Diego.

What were your initial thoughts on this one, Ames?

Ames: Ween! We’re totally on the same page with this one! Tess needed to grow the hell up. She annoyed me too and I struggled to see what Luke saw in her. However I did enjoy Luke, his family and the whole florist shop idea and all what they did to save their family business. That was a good story. But Tess…she was too afraid. I felt like her character growth came too late to save her for me.

Rowena: Yeah, I would have liked this one more if the romance between Luke and Tess wasn’t bogged down with exes, stupid lies, and just unnecessary stuff. I thought that them coming together to save Luke’s family business, along with them fixing their own shit from their shared past would have been plenty of conflicts to carry the story without all of the shit that we got.

I agree with you that by the time Tess’ character growth came about, I was over her and if it wasn’t for Luke’s family, especially his sweet Mom and siblings, I would have DNF’d this one. But I wanted to see what came of the whole shop makeover and I wanted to find out how things ended up between Luke and Tess. I just wanted things to happen differently and because I didn’t get what I wanted, my enjoyment of this book suffered. Like, one of the things that I didn’t get was how quickly the ex is forgiven and dealt with after the shitty thing she did. Between Tess and Luke’s Mom, to welcome her the way that they did, as quickly as they did? Yeah, I wasn’t a fan. I wanted her to grovel a bit more. That, along with how quick Tess was to forgive Luke for their past after he gave her his magic D, I just…ugh. I couldn’t. I give this book a 2.5 because of that. What about you?

Ames: See, I don’t think Luke did anything that wasn’t so horrible that Tess was mad at him for ten years. She was really stuck in this immature place and that’s why I didn’t care for her. As for his business with his ex, ugh. That whole plot was unnecessary and very predictable. I agree with you that there was enough to the story without his ex needing to be thrown in for good measure.

I usually enjoy Staci’s writing but this book was a miss for me. I’m going to give it 3 out of 5.

I do have to point out that I love the cover. It’s gorgeous.

Final Grades

Ames: 3 out of 5
Rowena: 2.5 out of 5

three-half-stars


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