Genre: Contemporary

Review: Havoc by Jamie Shaw

Posted March 21, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Havoc by Jamie ShawReviewer: Rowena
Havoc by Jamie Shaw
Series: Mayhem #4
Also in this series: Mayhem, Riot, Mayhem, Riot, Chaos
Published by Avon Impulse
Publication Date: February 21st 2017
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Pages: 496
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four-stars

When Hailey Harper left her family farm to enroll in veterinary school, she had a plan: keep her head down, ace her classes, and most importantly… don’t upset the uncle paying her tuition. Translation? Don’t piss off his dramatic, self-absorbed daughter, Danica, even if she’s a nightmare to live with.

Falling in love with her cousin’s rock star ex-boyfriend was definitely not part of the plan.

As the drummer of a now-famous rock band, Mike Madden could have any girl he wants. He’s sweet, funny, romantic, talented—and the only guy that’s ever made Hailey’s heart do cartwheels in her chest. The more she gets to know him, the harder she falls, but Hailey knows they can never be more than friends… because Danica wants him back, and she’ll fight dirty to win.

Mike is falling for Hailey too, but Danica’s threats and his rock star life—music video shoots, international tours, obsessed fans—could tear them apart before they’ve even begun. Hailey isn’t sure she’s the one for him, but Mike’s waited years for a girl like her… and he’ll do anything to prove it.

Havoc is the fourth book in the Mayhem series by Jamie Shaw and it features the drummer of the band, Mike Madden. If you read the other books in the series, you’ll remember Mike as the band member that doesn’t hook up with groupies. He spends his down time playing video games because he’s never really gotten over his ex-girlfriend from high school, Danica.

This book starts off with Danica and her cousin Haley trying to get backstage at one of Mike’s bands concerts to see Mike…after a long ass time apart. Actually, Danica is trying to get backstage and Haley is just along for the ride because Danica is her ride. She’s not a fan of her cousin and she’s not all that interested in anyone that would be interested in Danica because Danica is a horrible person. You know, you are the company you keep and all that. So while Mike and Danica reunite, Haley makes herself comfortable on the bands tour bus and gets to know Mike’s bandmates and their girlfriends…and she fits right in with the group.

When Mike and Danica’s reunion is done, Mike comes back to the tour bus and meets Danica’s cousin Haley who is kicking ass at a video game that he’s supposed to be working on and just like that, his awkward reunion with his ex-girlfriend is forgotten and a new friend is made.

Mike and Haley become fast friends and before Haley knows what is what, she’s got a big crush on a guy that just got back together with her horrible cousin. She knows that he deserves better than the likes of Danica and she doesn’t understand what he sees in her but she’s going to respect his wishes and keep her distance. It’s hard when Mike has become a huge part of her days and her nights but if she’s going to get over this crush, a girls gotta do what she’s gotta do.

Ahh, this book was a cute one. It was my favorite book of the bunch and Mike Madden was everything. Even when he was being a dumbass dating a girl that did him dirty, I loved him. I couldn’t wait for him to fix things and get back on track and that declaration??? Gah, I loved it.

I was a little disappointed that Haley didn’t come clean about her and Mike sooner but hell, when she finally does come clean…I was like, “That’s my girl!!!” and when she finally has it out with Danica, it was along time coming and I was pumped because Haley won. Ha!

This was a great ending to a great series and I was completely happy with the overall story. This series has made me a fan of Jamie Shaw’s and I’m looking forward to whatever comes next for her. Mike and Haley were great characters with a steamy romance that had me in my feels so yes, I recommend this one.

4 out of 5

four-stars

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Review: Off the Ice by Julie Cross

Posted March 16, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Off the Ice by Julie CrossReviewer: Rowena
Off the Ice by Julie Cross
Series: Juniper Falls #1
Published by Entangled: TEEN
Publication Date: February 28th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 320
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four-stars

All is fair in love and hockey…

Claire O’Connor is back in Juniper Falls, but that doesn’t mean she wants to be. One semester off, that’s what she promised herself. Just long enough to take care of her father and keep the family business—a hockey bar beside the ice rink—afloat. After that, she’s getting the hell out.

Again.

Enter Tate Tanley. What happened between them the night before she left town resurfaces the second they lay eyes on each other. But the guy she remembers has been replaced by a total hottie. When Tate is unexpectedly called in to take over for the hockey team’s star goalie, suddenly he’s in the spotlight and on his way to becoming just another egotistical varsity hockey player. And Claire’s sworn off Juniper Falls hockey players for good.

It’s the absolute worst time to fall in love.

For Tate and Claire, hockey isn’t just a game. And they both might not survive a body check to the heart.

Tate and Claire grew up together in the small town of Juniper Falls. Claire is Tate’s older sisters best friend and she’s been away at college. When her father gets really sick, she returns to town a lot sooner than she thought to help out at the family business. She’s not expecting for so much to change. From her to her best friend’s younger brother, Tate. Sure he’s only a year younger than her but seeing him now, he’s grown up. He got muscles and he got taller and he got hot. Claire wasn’t expecting to start liking him but well…it happens.

Tate has always felt something for Claire. He’s always had a soft spot for her so when he breaks up with his girlfriend, he wants to move right on to Claire. It’s not easy but nothing in Tate’s life has ever been easy. He’s got an abusive father, a mother who married the town exterminator and he’s never felt more alone at home. He carries the truth about his father’s abuse to himself because …I don’t know why, it’s probably a teenage boy thing but I never really understood why he kept it to himself. He’s got a lot going on and I enjoyed seeing his character grow over the course of the book.

I haven’t read very many books by Julie Cross so I can’t really tell if this is more of the same that you’d get from her but this was an enjoyable book. The characters felt real and their problems were familiar and real so I appreciated that but as much as I enjoyed it, I wanted more from both Tate and Claire.

I wanted Claire to be above the rumors in the small town. I wanted her to not be so caught up in what everyone was saying and live her life the way that she wanted to live it. I thought it took her too long to come around. The longer she kept Tate at arms length because of what she thought everyone was saying, the more I wanted to pull her hair and slap some sense into her.

Tate was another story. I wanted him to be smarter. I wanted him to open up to someone other than Claire far sooner than he did but I’m glad that it ended the way that it did because there was major growth in his character in the end. I was happy with the way that he really came into his own by the end and he was the guy that I hoped he would be when I first met him.

I’m assuming the next book will either be Leo’s book or Jamie’s. I’m down for either one. All in all, this was a good book that I had some issues with but not enough that my enjoyment of the book was ruined.

3.75 out of 5

four-stars

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Retro-Review: Dream A Little Dream by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Posted March 7, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 13 Comments

Retro-Review: Dream A Little Dream by Susan Elizabeth PhillipsReviewer: Holly
Dream a Little Dream by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Published by Harper Collins
Publication Date: October 13th 2009
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary
Pages: 400
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five-stars

A Desperate Young Mother
Rachel Stone's bad luck has taken a turn for the worse. With an empty wallet, a car's that's spilling smoke, and a five-year-old son to support, she's come home to a town that hates her. But this determined young widow with a scandalous past has learned how to be a fighter. And she'll do anything to keep her child safe—even take on. . .
A man With No Heart
Gabe Bonner wants to be left alone, especially by the beautiful outcast who's invaded his property. She has a ton of attitude, a talent for trouble, and a child who brings back bad memories. Yet Rachel's feisty spirit might just be heaven-sent to save a tough, stubborn man.
Dare To Dream
Welcome to Salvation, North Carolina—where a man who's forgotten what tenderness means meets a woman with nothing to lose. here two endearing lovers will set off on a funny, touching journey of the heart. . .to a place where dreams just might come true.

*****As part of our 10 year anniversary celebration, we’ll be re-posting old reviews that make us cringe, laugh or sigh all over again.

I meant to have this written as part of our Susan Elizabeth Phillips Author Spotlight last month, but I didn’t get around to writing it. Dream a Little Dream is one of my favorite SEP novels. It’s hands down my favorite of the Chicago Stars/Bonner Brothers series.

Gabe Bonner lost his wife and son in a tragic car accident and for the past two years he’s been in a state of deep mourning. He’s been coasting through life, numb and emotionless, waiting for the day when it all will end. But Rachel Stone changes all that the day she shows up at his drive-in; dirty, hungry and desperate to save herself and her son Edward. He should be repulsed by her, but he isn’t. He’s drawn to her in a way he hates. She cracks the icy ball that’s surrounding his heart.

Rachel Stone has returned to the last place on Earth she ever wanted to see again, Salvation, North Carolina. 5 years ago she and her husband G. Dwayne Snopes were the hope and pride of Salvation, a televangelist couple to rival even the most sincere and promising of them. But all that ended the night G. Dwayne disappeared with the life savings of the people of Salvation, bringing shame and scandal to the once prosperous town. Now she’s back, determined to find the stash Dwayne left behind, desperate to save the future of her much beloved son.

At times this novel is hard to read, especially in the beginning when Rachel and Gabe meet. They’re both desperate and broken, though for different reasons and with different ways of dealing with their pain. One of the most emotional things I’ve ever read is when Rachel begs Gabe for a job. The first few chapters of this book are hard to get through, but they showcase perfectly just how far both characters have fallen.

Eventually Rachel and Gabe form a tight bond, though both are reluctant to acknowledge it. The town shuns Rachel, and her house and car are vandalized. Gabe takes on the role of protector, though even he can’t understand why. Despite their change in feelings for one another, they both know they have no future together. Especially since Gabe can’t stand Edward, Rachel’s son.

I loved the strength Rachel showed. It wasn’t easy for her to continue on each day, especially in the beginning, but she did what needed to be done. I would have to say she’s probably one of my favorite SEP heroines. She’s practical and tough, with a smart mouth and a strong will to survive. What’s not to love?

My heart ached for Gabe. I wanted to wrap him in cotton and protect him from the world. I loved that Rachel was the only one who saw him for what he was, and was willing to push him in the direction he needed to go.

Even though this is a darker novel, there are moments of unexpected tenderness and humor. I loved that even though the town hated Rachel, none of them took it out on her son. Everyone, from the townsfolk to the Bonner brothers, was kind to Edward. Well, except for Gabe.

The secondary romance between Ethan Bonner and Kristy Brown, his church secretary, was sweet. It provided relief from the darker tone of the rest of the novel.

Dream a Little Dream is heartwrenching and emotionally compelling. I couldn’t put it down, even when I could barely see the pages through my tears.

5 out of 5

five-stars

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Retro-Review: Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie

Posted March 1, 2017 by Casee in Reviews | 9 Comments

Retro-Review: Bet Me by Jennifer CrusieReviewer: Casee
Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie
Published by St. Martin's Paperbacks
Publication Date: August 31st 2004
Genres: Romance, Contemporary
Pages: 391
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five-stars

Minerva Dobbs knows that happily-ever-after is a fairy tale, especially with a man who asked her to dinner to win a bet. Even if he is gorgeous and successful Calvin Morrisey. Cal knows commitment is impossible, especially with a woman as cranky as Min Dobbs. Even if she does wear great shoes and keeps him on his toes. When they say good-bye at the end of their evening, they cut their losses and agree never to see each other again.
But Fate has other plans, and it's not long before Min and Cal meet again. Soon, they're dealing with a jealous ex-boyfriend, Krispy Kreme donuts, a determined psychologist, chaos theory, a freakishly intelligent cat, Chicken Marsala, and more risky propositions than either of them ever dreamed of. Including the biggest gamble of all—true love.

******As part of our 10 year anniversary celebration, we’ll be re-posting old reviews that make us cringe, laugh or sigh all over again.

This wasn’t my first Crusie book. Years ago I read Charlie Something-or-Other. I didn’t really care for it. In fact, I had no idea why everyone was so crazy about this author. Yes, the book I read was an early Crusie novel. That’s why I wasn’t in any hurry to give her another try. Look at Linda Howard, Julie Garwood, Judith McNaught…all authors whose earlier works are more loved than their more recent books. That’s my excuse for waiting so long to read Bet Me. I guess I have to thank Holly b/c I would have most likely not tried to read it again if she wouldn’t have coerced pressured bullied suggested it in such a wonderful way. (Holly: Am I good like that, or what? It’s ok, you don’t have to bow down to my greatness..we know. We know. LOL)

That being said, I’m so glad that she persevered b/c I loved this book.

Min Dobbs decides to teach Cal Morrisey a lesson when she overhears him making a bet that he can get her into bed. Deciding that she will string him along for three weeks until her sister’s wedding, Min accepts his invitation for dinner. It only takes one dinner for Min to admit that she doesn’t have it in her to string someone like Cal along. At the end of the night, they part ways, both satisfied that they will never see the other again.

Fate definitely had a way of laughing in their faces. Again and again Min and Cal ran into each other. Yet each time they parted, that was it. They were never going to see each other again.

There is really no easy way to review this book other than to say if you haven’t read it, you’re missing out. Crusie has some of the best dialogue that I’ve ever read. The relationship between Min and Cal was far from an easy one. Though they both had admitted to themselves that the other is “the one”, they both had hangups that wouldn’t let them admit it out loud. Add in Min’s jealous ex-boyfriend and Cal’s rational ex-girlfriend and you have a book that you can’t put down.

I loved everything about this book from how it began, to the continuing conflict, to both Min and Cal’s parents, to the ending. Everything about it just hooked me from page 1.

5 out of 5.

five-stars

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Review: The Bastard Billionaire by Jessica Lemmon

Posted February 24, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: The Bastard Billionaire by Jessica LemmonReviewer: Rowena
The Bastard Billionaire by Jessica Lemmon
Series: Billionaire Bad Boys #3
Also in this series: The Billionaire Bachelor, The Billionaire Next Door
Published by Forever
Publication Date: February 28th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 384
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four-stars

A BILLIONAIRE BAD BOYS NOVEL

Beauty and the Beastly Billionaire . . . Eli Crane is one tough bastard. After an explosion left him injured and honorably discharged from the Marines, all he wants is to be left alone. Yet his brothers insist he take a greater role in the family business. They've hired him ten personal assistants-and Eli sent each one packing as fast as possible. But when beautiful number eleven walks through the door, Eli will do anything to make her stay. Isabella Sawyer's employment agency can't afford to lose Eli Crane's business. Her plan: to personally take on the role of his PA, and secure her reputation with the wealthy elite in Chicago. But this beauty and her hot billionaire bad boy soon find themselves mixing business with pleasure in the most delicious ways. And passionate, stubborn Isabella won't rest until she tames this wicked beast . . .

The Bastard Billionaire follows the last of the Crane brothers on that journey to his happy ending. Eli Crane served in the Marine corps until an explosion sidelined him and killed his friends. He’s living with a shit load of survivor’s guilt and the guilt is turning him into a surly, growly man who doesn’t want to have anything to do with the family business or any of the administrative assistants that his brothers keep sending his way.

The thing about family is…they’re not going anywhere and neither is the company supplying all of the administrative assistants that Eli keeps scaring away. You see, Isabella Sawyer has a business that she’s trying to get on the map and she’s not going to let Eli Crane scare away her biggest client, his family’s hotel empire. So if she’s got to do the job herself, that’s what she’ll do and Eli Crane will not scare her away. She’s just as stubborn and determined as he is and he’s going to find that out for himself, first hand.

The chemistry between Eli and Isa was pretty intense right from the very beginning. Eli’s confusion at not being able to scare Isa away along with the niggling doubts in the back of his mind about not even wanting to send her away was fun to watch. He fought that attraction at every turn but fate has a way of shoving you on your ass to make you sit up and take notice. So yeah, I enjoyed this story a lot.

Isa was a strong heroine who worked hard and loved harder. She wasn’t prepared for Eli Crane. She didn’t want to like him because he was such a big thorn in her business side but there was more to Eli than meets the eye and he was too hot for him to think so low of himself. She wasn’t looking for him but once she found him, she wasn’t sorry. She didn’t back away from her feelings, and I loved that so much. She owned her feelings right from the jump and even when she knew that Eli wasn’t where she was emotionally, she didn’t back away from how she felt for him. My heart hurt and then rejoiced for her because she was pretty awesome.

Together, they were fantastic. I adored seeing Eli’s walls crumble to the ground where Isa was concerned and I really enjoyed getting to know Isa throughout the entire book. This was a fun book with great guest appearances from Eli’s family. They were a fun bunch in the other books and it was great to see more of the same from them in this one. I definitely recommend.

Grade: 4 out of 5

four-stars

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