Genre: Humorous

Review: All Fired Up by Vivian Arend and Elle Kennedy

Posted September 15, 2014 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: All Fired Up by Vivian Arend and Elle KennedyReviewer: Holly
All Fired Up by Vivian ArendElle Kennedy
Series: DreamMakers #1
Published by NLA Digital LLC
Publication Date: April 22nd 2014
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary, Humorous
Pages: 239
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four-stars

Welcome to book 1 of the DreamMakers series. A red-hot collaboration from New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors Vivian Arend and Elle Kennedy.
He’s ready to lead the way.
As the owner of DreamMakers Inc., Parker Wilson takes the skills he learned as a Ranger to help men win in the love department, using every resource available to plan the perfect date. But when a routine recon turns into an unexpected night of fiery passion, Parker’s mission becomes personal—and he won’t give up until Lynn Davidson is all his.
She’s more than willing to follow.
Lynn is a goner from the moment she lays eyes on the delectable Parker. She’s tired of sticking to the straight and narrow. It’s time to walk on the wild side, and what better way than in the arms of the most irresistible man she’s ever met? But when their red-hot affair is threatened, it’ll take a team effort to make their dreams come true.
--------------DreamMakers series:All Fired Up (Parker & Lynn)Love Is A Battlefield (Jack & Pepper)Don't Walk Away (Dean & Emma)

When Parker and his team left the Army Rangers they ended up starting a service that helps men set up amazing dates for their wives and girlfriends. When an client asks them to create the perfect date so he can propose, Parker begins just like he would any op – by learning everything he can about her. Unfortunately what he discovers about Lynn intrigues and excites him. She seems like the perfect girl..for him. Fortunately he learns that Lynn isn’t really interested in getting married, and in fact doesn’t even think of the guy as her boyfriend. Since there’s no longer a conflict of interest, Parker decides to go after Lynn himself. Of course, it’s kind of hard to start out a romance when the girl in question doesn’t realize you’ve been learning all about her for another man. But hey, he figures they can work it out. Eventually.

Lynn finally decides to cut loose and indulge in a red-hot affair with the sexiest man she’s ever met. She’s ready to shake things up a bit and she can’t imagine a better guy for the job. But Parker surprises her. He seems genuinely interested in her and makes her feel things she didn’t even realize she’d been missing. Until her boss/ex turns her world upside down by revealing Parker’s secret…along with a few of his own.

This was a cute read. I kind of love that three ex-Rangers run a dating service. Such a cute concept that could have gone astray or come off as smarmy, but thankfully didn’t. Instead it was sexy and kind of sweet. Parker and Lynn had great chemistry, both in bed and out. They clicked right away, which added weight to their romance. I love it when the couple becomes friends as they fall into love, and that definitely happened here.

The side plot with the ex was a little over the top and kind of ridiculous, but I was able to let it go. The novel is written in a pretty lighthearted vein, so that’s how I took it. I didn’t think too hard about why things happened as they did. I just enjoyed it for what it was; A fun, sexy romp.

3.75 out of 5

This book is self-published. You can buy it here in e-format.

four-stars

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Review: Signed, Sealed, Delivered by Sandy James

Posted August 6, 2014 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Signed, Sealed, Delivered by Sandy JamesReviewer: Holly
Signed, Sealed, Delivered by Sandy James
Series: The Ladies Who Lunch #2
Published by Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: July 1st 2014
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary Women, Romance, Contemporary, Humorous
Pages: 320
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three-half-stars

For the fans of Jennifer Probst, Ruth Cardello and Jill Shalvis, comes a series about love, friendship, and lunch!
When life gets tough and love is hard to find, four friends take their troubles to lunch. High school teacher Juliana Kelley tells the Ladies Who Lunch that her life needs an overhaul . . . and gets a whole lot more than she wished for.
Juliana has spent thirteen years in the same teaching job. She's ready to dive into a new career with both feet . . . when a run-in with the hottest man she's ever seen knocks her head over heels. But with her failed marriage to a fellow teacher fresh on her mind, Jules can't afford to lose herself in a relationship-no matter how perfect it may seem.
Connor Wilson has hit rock bottom when he loses his career as a top-notch Realtor because of a large gambling debt. Now, in a small town he finds a fresh start-and a gorgeous redhead who sparks new life into him. Together they start a successful real estate company, but when pleasure sneaks into the business, they'll have to decide what they can let go . . . and what they can't live without.
Word count: 75,000-85,000

Juliana is a special needs teacher who is burned out after almost 15 years on the job. Her uncle mentions real estate to her and she decides to attend a seminar to see if it’s something she is really interested in. The seminar is a bust – the man putting it on is a chauvinist jerk – but she does meet Connor, who is also attending the seminar. They have an instant attraction and Juliana decides to break her own rules and go upstairs with him. They end up having the best sex of her life, but the emotional connection she felt scares her and she sneaks out first thing in the morning.

Connor is working on rebuilding his life. He’s starting over in a new town, in a new house, with a new business. He’s only at the seminar to check out the competition, until Juliana walks in. She captivates him right away and he knows what they’re sharing is more than a one-night-stand. Even after she disappears he’s determined to find her.

When they end up trying to get the same listing from a seller Juliana rashly announces they’re forming a partnership. It isn’t what Connor had in mind, but he’s willing to give it a shot, since he knows they’ll work well together. Even though he knows he should be focusing on overcoming his past and building his future, he can’t stay away from her. It isn’t long before he realizes he wants his future to include Juliana. He just isn’t sure she can get over his past. If he ever gets the courage to tell her about it…

Juliana is a redhead with the requisite temper. She’s quick to anger and slow to cool down. As a result, there were quite a few misunderstandings that came up. Since she often would get angry instead of listening, she jumped to conclusions. Connor did the same. Add into it his refusal to share his past with Juliana and her need to keep things close to her chest, and this made for some frustrating reading.

What saved the story for me was how quick her friends were to point out her behavior, and then how quick she was to fix it.

She was an idiot. Instead of opening up and sharing her news with him and making plans, she’d done what she thought she’d grown out of—she’d had a temper tantrum. Everything inside her hurt, from not only his accusation but from her broken trust. But those weren’t fatal wounds. She could heal, and she thought she could help him heal as well.
Way to go, Jules. Fucked that one up, didn’t ya?

Her unabashed desire and acceptance of her behavior helped, too.

Why should she feel any shame for accepting the invitation of a man she desired more than any she’d met before? Especially when she’d be much more likely to regret letting him slip right through her fingers. Life had taught her a hard lesson—that regrets over what could’ve been were stronger and more damaging than regrets over what happened.

Connor was a pretty solid character, despite his unwillingness to open up about his past. I felt that was understandable, considering the nature of his secret. The way he jumped to conclusions about Juliana was kind of immature, but they both recognized this as a flaw they shared and worked on it. Once their tempers had cooled that is.

The shortness of their courtship would have been unbelievable if not for their solid connection. That and spending pretty much 24/7 together for months on end, since they worked together and lived together (Connor’s house was being renovated and Juliana offered him a place to stay during construction).

The friendship between The Ladies Who Lunch is something that really stands out. The women are close and turn to one another for comfort and support, but also to laugh and have fun.

Juliana and Connor both frustrated me at times, but their connection was solid and emotionally charged. The friendship between the ladies is strong and real, which is what really sealed the story for me.

3.5 out of 5

This book is available from Forever. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

three-half-stars

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Review: Running Back by Allison Parr

Posted July 20, 2014 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Running Back by Allison ParrReviewer: Holly
Running Back by Allison Parr
Series: New York Leopards #2
Also in this series: Rush Me
Published by Carina Press
Publication Date: October 21st 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Friendship, Humorous, Love & Romance, New Adult
Pages: 229
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four-stars

Natalie Sullivan is on the verge of a breakthrough most archaeology grad students only dream of: discovering a lost city. Her research points to a farm in Ireland, but to excavate she needs permission from the new owner: the Michael O'Connor, popular NFL running back.

On TV Mike seems so charming and good-natured that Natalie figures getting his cooperation will be a breeze. So she's not prepared to deal with the arrogant—and adamantly opposed—man she meets in person. Or the way one look from him sends shivers down her spine…

Determined to kick-start her career, Natalie travels across the Atlantic and finds herself sharing an inn with Mike, who has come to Ireland in search of his roots. She tells herself her interest is strictly professional, but the more she gets to know him, the harder it is to deny her personal attraction to the sexy sports star. And when Mike confides why he refuses to allow the dig, Natalie must decide if she can follow her heart without losing sight of her dreams.

Natalie is a grad student who is planning a dig in Ireland to search for the lost city of Ivernis, which would prove a connection between Ireland and Rome, something she and her mentor have been working toward for years. It’s become something of a wild goose chase, but she’s done a lot research and thinks they may actually find it there. Only problem? The landowner who agreed to let her do the dig died and left the land to his nephew – New York Leopard’s running back Mike O’Connor.  He denies her request, stating personal reasons.

She decides to go on her trip anyway. Even if she can’t dig – which she hopes will change – there’s still research to do and she doesn’t want to pass up a trip to Ireland. As it happens, Mike and his family are also going to Ireland for the wake of his uncle and they’re staying at the same inn (the only inn).  Despite the tension over the dig, Mike’s family draw her into the circle and the two of them form a solid friendship, which eventually turns into more. But Natalie’s parents have taught her that love doesn’t last, and with the dig still there she knows they can’t last.

This was a fairly enjoyable read. Natalie and Mike were both fixed on their careers and neither was looking for love. They developed a friendship that seemed genuine and included a lot of heavy sharing and emotional support, which made the relatively short timeline of the romance work.

In the beginning Natalie’s assertion that love was a myth rang true considering her upbringing. It started to sound hollow the more their relationship developed, considering the amount of time they spent together and how committed they both were to one another.  It was hard not to feel sorry for her, though, especially once her family dynamics changed. The way she felt about Mike’s family was sweet. He was embarrassed and annoyed with them (as we tend to be with our families) but she made him realize they were a tight, loving group.

Mike was dealing with his own set of issues, namely the drama that came with inheriting the land and a secret about his parents he’d held close for far too long. His pain came through well. It was lovely how Natalie pushed him to open up and let him do the same for her. Both were damaged, which really worked in the context of the story. Their upbringing shaped them both and their family dynamics were interesting.

What was missing was the football. Since this story takes place in Ireland during the off season, there were no games and little from the other players. One of the things I enjoyed most about Rush Me was the football backdrop. It was definitely missed here.

There were a lot of editing issues in this book. Mostly spelling errors, but some continuity issues as well. I was surprised, since I read Parr’s first book, Rush Me, and don’t remember seeing them.

The Irish backdrop, strong friendships and heady romance made this a read well worth falling into.

4 out of 5

This book is available from Carina Press. You can buy it here or here in e-format. 

four-stars

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Review: Bite Me by Shelly Laurenston

Posted March 21, 2014 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Bite Me by Shelly LaurenstonReviewer: Tracy
Bite Me by Shelly Laurenston
Series: Pride series #9
Published by Kensington Books
Publication Date: March 25th 2014
Genres: Humorous, Romance, Paranormal, Fantasy
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four-stars

Livy Kowalski has no time for idiots. When you shapeshift into a honey badger, getting through life's irritants is a finely honed skill. Until she gets stuck housing her nutso cousin and dealing with her dad's untimely and unexplained demise.

That's where Vic Barinov comes in--or his house does. Vic can't step outside without coming back to find Livy devouring his honey stash and getting the TV remote sticky. It gets his animal instincts all riled up. But he'll have to woo her at high speed: all hell is breaking loose, and Livy is leading the charge. . .

Vic Barinov – tiger/bear hybrid shifter – has been given an assignment to help find a man by the name of Frankie Whitlan. He is wanted for a ton of crimes but the shifter protection agencies have been told to back off finding this man. As Vic works freelance he doesn’t have to follow those dictates. He uses his friend, Livy, who is a Honey Badger shifter, and comes from a family of thieves, to get into Whitlan’s daughters apartment to see if they can find a lead on Whitlan. What Livy finds is her father, shifted into his honey badger form, stuffed.

Livy is livid and determined to take down the man who did this to her father. She recruits her entire family and Vic and they go after Whitlan. While all of that is going on Vic and Livy, who have been friends for a while, get closer…start sleeping together…and then fall in love.

That seems like such a basic description of the book but the real story is Livy, Vic and her family. They’re so crazy it’s amusing to read about them. Livy is kind of what you would think of as an anti-heroine when you imagine a romance novel. She’s brash, rough, tough, foul-mouthed, doesn’t like to be touched randomly, and hates to be nice to people. She’s an independent soul and an artist. Vic is kind and caring, soft spoken (for the most part) and a really good guy. Put these two together, let Vic’s tiger side come out and they’re hot, sexy and explosive together. They’re so opposite but they get along so well and I loved the pairing. You truly have to appreciate Laurenston’s humor in this one as it’s definitely sarcasm at its best.

Livy and Vic are really just part of the books equation. Add in her crazy (and I do mean CRAZY) family, Vic’s friend Shen, characters from previous books and it all adds up to one hell of an entertaining story.

This is one I’m very happy that I didn’t miss out on and one I definitely recommend.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Shelly Laurenston

four-stars

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Review: Forever and a Day by Jill Shalvis

Posted December 19, 2013 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Forever and a Day by Jill ShalvisReviewer: Holly
Forever and a Day by Jill Shalvis
Series: Chocoholics #3, Lucky Harbor #6
Also in this series: Simply Irresistible, Once in a Lifetime, It's In His Kiss, He's So Fine, One in a Million, Merry Christmas, Baby
Published by Grand Central Publishing, Forever
Publication Date: March 31st 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
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five-stars

The sixth enchanting novel in the Lucky Harbor series from New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis, laced with her trademark gift for humour, warmth and romance. Fans of Susan Andersen, Bella Andre, Rachel Gibson, Carly Phillips, and Susan Mallery will fall head over heels for the Lucky Harbor series.
Love can happen in a heartbeat.
Grace never thought she'd be starting her life over from scratch. Losing everything has landed her in Lucky Harbor, working as a dog walker for overwhelmed ER doctor Josh Scott. But the day his nanny fails to show up, Grace goes from caring for Josh's lovable mutt to caring for his rambunctious son. Soon Grace is playing house with the sexy single dad...
With so many people depending on him, Josh has no time for anything outside of his clinic and family - until Grace arrives in town. Now this brainy blonde is turning his life inside out and giving a whole new meaning to the phrase "good bedside manner". Josh and Grace don't know if what they have can last. But in a town like Lucky Harbor, a lifetime of love starts with just one day...
Want more sexy, fun romance? Return to spellbinding Lucky Harbor or visit Sunshine, Idaho in Jill's captivating Animal Magnetism series.

It’s no secret that I love Shalvis. I think she writes fun contemporary romances with just the right blend of humor and emotion. But this, well, this is probably the best Shalvis I’ve read to date. As I was reading, I was reminded of Susan Elizabeth Phillips, with the dialogue and depth of emotion. Not to mention the humor.

Grace made a stop in Lucky Harbor after her life fell apart. One day she had a cush job at a well-known bank and the next she was jobless, homeless and there didn’t seem to be many prospects on the horizon. While she takes some time to figure out where to go next, she takes odd jobs around town. She also strikes up a friendship with two other women in Lucky Harbor, and they form an unlikely alliance as The Chocoholics. Then she sort of..fibs..her way into another job – dog walker for one  Dr. Josh Scott. Things don’t work out quite as planned, and he lets her go..then calls to hire her back. But this time as babysitter to his young son.

Josh has barely been keeping his head above water since he took over his father’s practice. When his parents died in an accident that crippled his sister, he stepped up and did what he had to do to provide for her and his son. But something’s gotta give..and Grace just might be the answer to his prayers. Too bad her stay in town is just temporary. Not that he wants to keep her for himself, of course, even if they do burn up the sheets. But she certainly has a way with his son, Toby, and Josh’s sister, Anna, and their wild dog, Tank.

Right from the beginning of the book I was sucked into Grace and Josh. They’re both struggling to figure out what to do with their lives. Josh wants to keep his father’s practice going, but not because he loves it. It’s more out of a sad kind of tribute and duty. His heart is in the ER. The hospital has offered to buy the practice, but he doesn’t want to make the wrong decision.

Grace was adopted into a family full of geniuses. She never felt like she fit in, but she’s been trying to tow the line and act like them, even if she isn’t one of them. She needs to find a high-powered job somewhere to make them proud. With the economy being what it is, opportunities are few and far between. While she hunts, she kind of gets labeled as the go-to girl for accounting help in town. Before she knows it she’s doing the books for pretty much all the businesses in town..and she loves it. Too bad that isn’t something her parents will look on as a great achievement, because more than anything she wants to prove herself to them. I thought this was pretty realistic for an adopted kid, especially one who is so different from the family she was brought into.

There’s quite a bit of depth and emotion in the way Josh and Grace deal with each other, but there’s a surprising amount of humor as well. I literally laughed out loud on several occasions. Especially when it came to Grace dealing with Josh’s son and dog.

Grace’s phone rang. A number she didn’t recognize.

“Grace Brooks?” came an unfamiliar voice in her ear.
“Yes.”
“This is Serena, the nurse at Lucky Harbor Elementary. Toby’s not sick or hurt or anything.”
“Okay…”
“But he fell in a mud puddle again…”

Since there was only a half hour left of school, Grace just took Toby home with her. She buckled him into his booster seat and slid him a look in the rearview mirror. “Do I want to know?”
“Camel flaunting,” he said very solemnly. “Me and Tommy needed to camel flaunt.”
This baffled her for a beat; then she had to laugh. “Camouflage?”
“Yes,” he said.
“For a battle.”
“Yes!”

Toby was well-written and Anna, Josh’s wheelchair-bound sister, added a bit of drama to the story. It was great visiting Lucky Harbor again and getting to know Josh and Grace.

This is a sweet, lovely, funny, awesome read. I highly recommend it.

5 out of 5

This book is available from Hatchette Book Group. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

five-stars

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