Genre: Humorous

Guest Review: 10 Dates by Emily James

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

three-half-stars

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

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

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

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