Genre: Contemporary Romance

Review: Forbidden Promises by Synithia Williams

Posted March 24, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Forbidden Promises by Synithia WilliamsReviewer: Rowena
Forbidden Promises by Synithia Williams
Series: Jackson Falls #1
Publisher: HQN
Publication Date: February 25, 2020
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 352
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU WANT THE ONE PERSON YOU CAN NEVER HAVE?

Get in and get out. That was India Robidoux's plan for this family visit. But when her brother needs her help with his high-profile political campaign, India has not choice but to stay and face the one man she's been running from for years - Travis, her sister's ex-husband. One hot summer night when Travis was still free, they celebrated her birthday with whiskey and an unforgettable kiss. The memory is as strong as ever - and so are the feelings she's tried so hard to forget.

Travis Strickland owes everything to the Robidoux family. There's nothing he wouldn't do for them - his divorce could never change that. Still, he has one regret. Impulsive and passionate, India always understood him better than anyone else. And the longer they work together on the campaign, the more torn he is. Coming between her and her sister is out of the question. But how can he let love pass him by a second time?

©2020 Synithia Williams (P)2020 HarperAudio

Forbidden Promises is the first book in the new Jackson Falls series by Synithia Williams. It’s a story that features a heroine who has been in love with her sister’s ex-husband for some time now. When she comes back home to visit her family, her plan is to sneak in, spend some quality time with her family and then sneak right back out. She has no plans on sticking around or of seeing Travis Strickland while she’s home. Travis and India shared the most passionate kiss of India’s life and then he made his choice and married her sister so she’s come to terms with it. Sure, she was hurt but that was years ago and she’s grown up and moved on. But Travis is her brother’s best friend and her brother needs her help with his political campaign so India’s got no choice but to see Travis.

Travis is stoked that India’s home. Of all of the Robidoux siblings, India understood him the best. They had a solid friendship that Travis missed when India went away and sure, they also shared a pretty spectacular kiss years ago but that’s old news and he’s excited to see his friend again. Only India is different now. She’s a grown woman, a gorgeous grown woman and she wants nothing to do with Travis. Working together on India’s brother’s campaign should be a breeze, no?

Synithia Williams has a unique writing style that worked for me. I’m no stranger to the sister’s ex-husband trope and though not every story featuring that trope has worked for me in the past, I didn’t mind it here. The more that I got to know India and Travis, the more we learned about their shared history and the people that they were and the people they are now made rooting them on all the more necessary for me. They were both strong characters and I thought they were fantastic on their own but I really dug them together. I connected with both of their characters, along with both of their stories and seeing them come together in love, figure their stuff out was a great reading adventure for me.

I haven’t read anything by Williams before but I will definitely be reading more of her stuff in the future. This was such a charming romance that I want more of it. I definitely recommend it for those readers who are looking for a quick, charming romance with heart. This definitely fits the bill.

Grade: 4 out of 5

four-stars


Tagged: , , , , , ,

Review: House Rules by Ruby Lang

Posted March 23, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: House Rules by Ruby LangReviewer: Rowena
House Rules by Ruby Lang
Series: Uptown #3
Also in this series: Open House
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: February 10, 2020
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 152
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

ROOMMATE WANTED to share a gorgeous sun-filled apartment in Central Harlem. Must love cats. No ex-husbands or wives need apply.

Seventeen years ago, different dreams pulled Simon Mizrahi and Lana Kuo apart. But when Lana takes a position as a chef back in Manhattan, her apartment search puts her right in her ex-husband’s path. Music teacher Simon is also hunting for a new place to live, and when Lana proposes they be platonic roomies, well…it’s not the worst idea he’s ever heard.

A sunny uptown two-bedroom sounds far more appealing than the cramped, noisy space where he’s currently struggling to work. Still, Simon has seen firsthand that Lana’s a flight risk, so he agrees on a trial basis.

Three months. With strict boundaries.

Living together again feels wonderfully nostalgic, but when the ex-couple’s lingering feelings rise to the surface, the rules go out the window.

Of course, chemistry was never their problem. But while Simon’s career feels back on solid footing, Lana is still sorting out what she wants. With their trial period soon coming to an end, they’ll have to decide if their living arrangement was merely a sexy trip down memory lane or a reunion meant to last.

One-click with confidence. This title is part of the

Carina Press Romance Promise

: all the romance you’re looking for with an HEA/HFN. It’s a promise!

This book is approximately 47,000 words

House Rules is the third book in the Uptown series by Ruby Lang. It’s also a second chance romance that features a divorced couple who become roommates to share bills. I read the last book in this series and enjoyed it so I was looking forward to reading this one as well. Like Open House, this book was a really quick read but Ruby Lang did a great job of making me come to care for both Simon and Lana.

They were both normal people with normal people problems. Simon is a music teacher and he’s been living in the same apartment for most of his life. He wants to move on, find his own space in New York that wasn’t his father’s so he starts looking around but when his search makes him realize that he probably can’t afford to leave his late father’s rent secure apartment, he gets bummed out until he runs into Lana, who is back in New York and looking for her own space to rent. Running into Simon was the last thing that Lana wanted but knowing that they both need a place to live and can actually help each other with bills, Lana does the unthinkable. She asks Simon to be her roommate. Her strictly platonic roommate. They both live different lives and will be in the apartment at different times so they won’t even need to see each other or interact with each other to live with each other. So they do it. They sign the lease and they become roommates. Only there’s too much history and too many feelings that are still kicking around in each other their hearts so now they have to figure out where to go from here.

Ruby Lang has a great writing style that I enjoy very much. I plan on going back and reading the first book in this series because I haven’t yet. I really enjoyed a straight up romance with two characters that I was able to connect with. And I did. I connected with different aspects of Simon and Lana’s lives and I was right there with the both of them through all of their story. This was a charming contemporary romance that I ate right up from beginning to end. If you’re in the mood for a sweet second chance romance then look no further than this one. It’s super cute and perfect for some social distancing fun. I definitely recommend.

4 out of 5

Uptown

four-stars


Tagged: , , , , , ,

Review: One Last Chance by Therese Beharrie

Posted March 19, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: One Last Chance by Therese BeharrieReviewer: Rowena
One Last Chance by Therese Beharrie
Series: One Day to Forever #1
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: February 17, 2020
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Of all the charity events in all of Cape Town, Zoey Roux had to bump into her husband at this one

Six years ago, Zoey Roux secretly married her best friend Sawyer. But all that did was destroy the best relationship she’s ever had. They went their separate ways, but Zoey never could go through with a divorce. Seeing him again at her sister’s charity event is a shock, but also enlightening: no matter how much she still loves him, it’s time to let him go.

Zoey was Sawyer Wilson’s first love. She broke his heart, but his feelings never died. Love was never their issue—only timing. Seeing her again is a shock: in a perfect world, she would run back into his arms. Instead, she’s asking for a divorce.

But a lot can happen in twenty-four hours: old wounds can heal, first loves can be reunited. And a second chance might just lead to happily ever after.

This book is approximately 74,000 words

One-click with confidence. This title is part of the Carina Press Romance Promise: all the romance you’re looking for with an HEA/HFN. It’s a promise!

One Last Chance is the first book that I’ve ever read by Therese Beharrie but it’s the third book in her One Day to Forever series. The series is about a trio of sisters who find their one true love. This book features the baby sister of Roux bunch, Zoey. It’s a second chance best friends to lovers romance and I liked it. Sawyer and Zoey were great characters and it was super easy for me to fall right in with their story.

Sawyer has been in love with his best friend, Zoey Roux for as long as he can remember. He waited her out, because he felt that she wasn’t ready for how powerful his feelings were for him. He knew that if he were to have told her how he felt, she would have run away from him and more than anything, he wanted her in his life. Any way that he can have her so he stayed in the friend zone until six years ago. Six years ago, Zoey found about Sawyer’s feelings and she returned them so even though Sawyer knew that Zoey was jumping into a relationship without really thinking, he jumped right in with her because his heart belonged to her anyway. They had a wonderful few months together before it all fell apart and then they both went their separate ways because it was too hard for Sawyer to be around her.

Fast forward and it’s six years later, and they run into each other. They’ve never really talked about what happened between them with their families so it’s big awkward when they run into each other. They spend the day trying to dodge each other, run away from the feelings that are still there and then dealing with their past, their present, and figure ou their future. This whole story is told in the present day in one day but there are chapters from their past sprinkled in between as well. I liked seeing where they are now and what happened to bring them to where they are now. Seeing the story unfold like this had me turning the pages as fast as I could read them.

There were times when I wanted to strangle both Zoey and Sawyer. Zoey for thinking she knew what was best for Sawyer and at Sawyer for not being upfront with Zoey about what happened, how he felt and what he wanted from her. He gave and gave and gave to everything to her but he never spoke up about what he wanted. Other than that, I liked seeing the other couples and I’m mighty interested in going back and reading their books. Even though this was the only book in the series that I read, I didn’t feel like I missed anything by not having read the other books so this one reads great as a standalone. Beharrie has a bubbly writing style that fit exactly what I was in the mood for so I’m glad that I read this one.

4 out of 5

One Day to Forever

four-stars


Tagged: , , , , , ,

Review: P.S. It’s Always Been You by Lauren Blakely

Posted March 17, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: P.S. It’s Always Been You by Lauren BlakelyReviewer: Rowena
P.S. It's Always Been You: Part 1 by Lauren Blakely
Narrator: Andi Arndt, Scott Eastwood
Series: P.S. It's Always Been You #1
Publisher: Audible Original
Publication Date: January 28, 2020
Format: Audiobook
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 3
Length: 2 hours, 53 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Narrated by Scott Eastwood and Andi Arndt, a sweeping, second chance romance that weaves mystery, passion, and humor as two present-day lovers search for a love story from the past....

Past loves should stay in the past.

After the way my first love took off for the ends of the earth, the last thing I want is to see him on billboards and bookstore bestseller shelves. Now my boss just handed me the project that could make my career. All I have to do is partner up with the man, the myth, the legend - adventurer Hunter Armstrong.

That's easier said than done, because when we reconnect, I learn Hunter has his own agenda on this project. And it's not to find a treasure in art and antiques. It's me. But what we discover shocks both of us, and we have no choice but to follow the clues....

P.S. It’s Always Been You: Part 1 is the first installment in the P.S. It's Always Been You serial novel. Presley and Hunter’s story continues in P.S. It's Always Been You: Part 2.

P.S. It’s Always Been You kicks off the first of three audiobooks that tell the story of Presley and Hunter. Their story is a second chance romance and part 1 gives us a quick introduction and lay of the land. Pressley and Hunter were together for six months and fell in love but then Hunter got a job offer that he couldn’t refuse so he took off, leaving Pressley behind and ten years later, runs into Pressley again and realizes that his feelings for her never really went away. Too bad for him, Pressley is over him and not at all interested in starting up their relationship again.

This audiobook was pretty short and while I enjoyed it and thought that the narrators were easy to follow along, I wasn’t a fan of that cliffhanger ending. In fact, I was super annoyed that we didn’t get an entire story and that was probably because I didn’t know that it was only part of a story. Aside from that, I’m curious about Pressley and Hunter and I’m looking forward to finding out about what they’ve both been up in the ten years since they last hooked up. So yeah, I am definitely interested in listening to the other parts of the story.

3.5 out of 5

P.S. It’s Always Been You

three-half-stars


Tagged: , , , , , ,

Sunday Spotlight: Love Hard by Nalini Singh

Posted March 15, 2020 by Rowena 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. 🙂

I have been waiting for this book for ages now. I’m so stoked to finally be getting a Samoan romance. A sexy Samoan rugby player? Yes, please! Jake and Juliet sound like all kinds of fun so I’m all in. We’re pretty stoked to be sharing an excerpt from Love Hard so check it out!

Sunday Spotlight: Love Hard by Nalini SinghLove Hard by Nalini Singh
Series: Hard Play #3
Also in this series: Cherish Hard, Cherish Hard (Hard Play, #1), Cherish Hard (Hard Play, #1), Rebel Hard (Hard Play, #2), Cherish Hard (Hard Play, #1)
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: March 10, 2020
Format: eARC
Source: Author
Point-of-View: Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 320
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: four-stars

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh brings you the next sizzling story in her Hard Play contemporary romance series…

Jacob Esera, star rugby player and young single father, has worked hard to create a joyous life for his six-year-old daughter. After the death of his childhood sweetheart soon after their daughter’s birth, all Jake wants is safety and stability. No risks. No wild chances. And especially no Juliet Nelisi, former classmate, scandal magnet, and a woman who is a thorn in his side.

As a lonely teenager, Juliet embraced her bad-girl reputation as a shield against loneliness and rejection. Years later, having kicked a cheating sports-star ex to the curb, she has a prestigious job and loyal friends—and wants nothing to do with sportsmen. The last thing she expects is the fire that ignites between her and the stuffed-shirt golden boy who once loved her best friend.

Straitlaced Jacob Esera versus wild-at-heart Juliet Nelisi? Place your bets.

Excerpt

Jake checked on Esme—who was having a grand old time running wild with the other children—then went hunting Jules.

He was starting to think she’d ditched the reception when he finally saw her seated in a hidden alcove with a giant slice of wedding cake on a saucer. She cut into it with a fork as he watched, slipped the tines into her mouth. Her lashes drifted shut, her lips pursed; he could almost hear her moan of pleasure.

His cock twitched.

No, no, no. He couldn’t twitch for Juliet.

Yet he haphazardly grabbed a slice of cake for himself before going over to join her in the alcove.

She glared at him. “This is my spot. Go. Away.”

“I don’t see your name on it,” he said and took a seat. The alcove wasn’t that big, and his shoulder brushed hers, his hip pressing into a lush feminine curve. He was crowding her on purpose. Because the thing was… he wanted to fight with Juliet. Dangerous as it was, he hadn’t felt this alive in a long, long time.

Her eyes flashed. Then she elbowed him under the guise of getting comfortable.

“Oof.” He rubbed his ribs.

“Oh, did that hurt?” She pointed her fork in his direction. “So, so sorry.”

Jake was grinning when his father appeared nearby.

“Son,” he said. “Sorry to interrupt, but Uncle Tama wants to get home and his car isn’t starting.”

“I’ll have a look.” Jake took the keys his father held out… before he turned to Juliet and said, “It’s dark out. Mind coming and holding the torch for me?”

Joseph Esera broke in. “Oh, I can do that.”

“No, Mr. Esera.” Juliet’s smile was warm and generous. “It’s your son’s wedding. Stay, enjoy. I’m sure it won’t take Jake long to fix things.” She kept up that smile as Joseph patted her on the shoulder and told her she was a good girl before he walked away to tug Alison into a dance.

At which point Jake got the death glare magnified.

Driven to antagonize her by a madness he couldn’t shake, he took a bite of cake before rising to put his plate down on the alcove seat. “Cake’s gonna have to wait, Jules.”

“Where’s the damn torch?” She put down her own cake and stood.

“In my car,” Jake said automatically before realizing they’d come here in a limo. “On second thought—we’ll have to use our phones.”

Juliet took his phone when he handed it to her, then swung by the head table to pick up hers too. They’d just stepped outside when his phone flashed with light, a message popping onto the front screen.

Shuddering, Juliet handed it over. “I think it’s one of your groupies. Take it before I gag.”

The text was from a Trixi Kitten. “For your information,” he muttered after quickly scanning it, “that’s the name of my great-aunt’s cat.”

Juliet stared at him. “Do I look like I was born yesterday?”

“Read the message.” He held it out.

Folding her arms, she tilted her head to the side, just daring him to continue.

He held it up right in front of her face so she couldn’t miss the message: Jake, dear, are you checking your uncle’s car? Can you come look at Great-auntie’s in the next week? It’s making a strange noise and it scares me. Meow – Trixi Pussy

A kind of strangled sound erupting in her throat, Juliet nudged aside his phone. “Does she always…”

“Write messages as if it’s her cat?” He nodded. “She’s a perfectly sane human otherwise. Last week she beat everyone in her local pub quiz so she could win a nodding-cat thing.”

“The whole… er… pussy thing?”

“She’s eighty-nine. As far as she’s concerned, it means cat.” Jake rubbed his face. “She stood next to me while I was inputting her number and kept asking me why I didn’t list her as Trixi Pussy.”

Juliet’s laughter sounded like it was torn out of her. And the cock twitching got worse.

That didn’t make sense. Why was her laughter turning him on? Or maybe it was the way she looked when she laughed, so open and warm and… as if she’d make him that way. Not this staid, solid stranger he sometimes felt he’d become.

Shaking off the thought because his solid and staid nature was what made him a good dad, he pointed to a pale blue VW Bug. “That’s it.”

The two of them walked across the parking lot, which was empty of all other signs of life. Just rows of cars—some bedecked with flowers and streamers in honor of the wedding—and a few standing lamps that cast just enough light so people could find their vehicles.

Useless, however, for looking at an engine.

The land sloped down on the other side of the car, the old theater surrounded by manicured grounds that often hosted outdoor plays. Maybe he’d bring Esme to one of those, he thought absently as he unlocked his uncle’s car, then tried to start it to see what sounds it made, if any.

Juliet stood outside, tapping her toe on the tarmac and looking like a fantasy straight out of the midnight hours, times when Jake’s brain went its own merry way. Sex dreams weren’t exactly a surprise for a single male who had a sex drive he hadn’t been feeding, but the dreams had always been amorphous and erotic. No faces, nothing but sensations that led to frustrated arousal.

He had a feeling that was about to change.

When the hell had Juliet grown those curves?

Wishing he hadn’t left his jacket in the event space, he popped the hood before getting out of the driver’s seat; hopefully the dim lighting would conceal the interest in his pants.

“Here.” He handed her his phone. “I think I know the problem,” he said, propping the hood open.

The scent of Juliet washed over him as she stepped close enough to shine the torchlight from both phones into the engine.

“Tell me where you want it,” she said, and his brain decided to put those words in a totally different—and dirty —context.

Gritting his teeth, Jake said, “Where you have it is good.”

*

Not responding to Jake’s comment because she’d become fascinated by the way his muscles moved under the fine white fabric of his formal shirt as he bent over the engine, Juliet told herself to breathe. She also reminded herself that she’d already had this conversation with herself and decided the physical attraction was pure nonsense.

But jeez, did the universe have to make him so gorgeous?

There, fine, she’d admitted it. The gearhead jock had grown up into a panty-melting adult who adored his daughter, loved his family, and was kind to his elders. Even a great-aunt who liked to text using her cat alter ego. He might have a stick up his butt, but Juliet would still like to see that butt.

Juliet Nelisi, you stop checking out Jake’s butt. STOP.

But the man was muscled everywhere. It was hard not to eat up the eye candy when it was right in front of her. Also, since a visual was all it would ever be, she might as well enjoy… except, this wasn’t just a random hot guy.

This was Jake.

Hard Play

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: March 2020

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 Nalini Singh

I've been writing as long as I can remember and all of my stories always held a thread of romance (even when I was writing about a prince who could shoot lasers out of his eyes). I love creating unique characters, love giving them happy endings and I even love the voices in my head. There's no other job I would rather be doing. In September 2002, when I got the call that Silhouette Desire wanted to buy my first book, Desert Warrior, it was a dream come true. I hope to continue living the dream until I keel over of old age on my keyboard.

I was born in Fiji and raised in New Zealand. I also spent three years living and working in Japan, during which time I took the chance to travel around Asia. I’m back in New Zealand now, but I’m always plotting new trips. If you’d like to see some of my travel snapshots, have a look at the Travel Diary page (updated every month).

So far, I've worked as a lawyer, a librarian, a candy factory general hand, a bank temp and an English teacher and not necessarily in that order. Some might call that inconsistency but I call it grist for the writer's mill.


Tagged: , , , , , ,