Publisher: Carina Press

Review: On the Surface by Kate Willoughby

Posted November 26, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: On the Surface by Kate WilloughbyReviewer: Holly
On the Surface (In the Zone, #1) by Kate Willoughby
Narrator: Dee J. Adams
Series: In the Zone #1
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: April 14, 2014
Format: Audiobook, eARC
Source: Purchased, NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 272
Length: 10 hours and 2 minutes
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Goodreads
three-stars

NHL player Tim Hollander lost his temper one time and threw a water bottle at an abusive fan. After "Bottlegate," he's traded to the San Diego Barracudas, where he'll need to keep the bad publicity to a minimum while proving he can still compete with the younger guys on the ice.

Erin Collier is a pediatric nurse who's never seen a hockey game, but gets in line for Tim's autograph at a PR event in hopes of impressing the doctor she has a crush on. When an obnoxious fan gets pushy toward Erin, Tim rushes to defend the pretty stranger, throwing a punch in the process.

Grateful for the rescue, Erin agrees to stand by Tim during the resulting press conference and host him at a hospital charity event. Their chemistry is palpable, and soon their lives are intertwined. But Erin doubts a hockey player is capable of anything resembling a real relationship. And if Tim can't get her to see beyond what's on the surface, they'll never last longer than a single season…

I requested this book from NetGalley back in 2014 because it’s a hockey book and I love hockey romances. Then I left it languishing for all these years. I’m trying to make a dent in my TBR pile, so I bought the audiobook for my commute. This was a sweet contemporary romance featuring a hockey player and a nurse.

Tim Hollander is nearing the end of his prime in the NHL. After an unfortunate incident with a water bottle, he’s been traded from the Chicago Blackhawks to the San Diego Barracudas. After some initial frustration over the move, he decides to look at this as a fresh start. He puts his all into training and settling into his place on his new team. When a fan gets physical with a woman at his first signing event, Tim doesn’t hesitate to take the guy out. Even though it was the right thing to do, the Barracudas’ PR department isn’t happy that he’s already making trouble. They ask the woman, Erin, if she’d be willing to do a press conference to support Tim.

Erin Collier isn’t interested in hockey at all, but the doctor she’s crushing on at work is. When she sees some players signing gear outside her favorite lunch place, she figures she’ll get in good with the Doc by bringing him a signed hat. When the jerk in front of her starts making trouble and talking smack, she can’t help but call him out. She never expected him to push her down, or for sexy Tim Hollander to come to her rescue. She’s happy to help him out at the press conference. When he develops food poisoning shortly thereafter, she can’t leave him alone. They end up becoming friends and spending a lot of time together. Tim wants more from her, but Erin isn’t sure she’s interested in a relationship.

I really loved the first half of this book. The hero was super adorable and I loved how into the heroine he was. He was just an all around stand up guy. He didn’t play games or present himself to be something he wasn’t. He was just a dude who plays hockey. I loved him. The meet cute between him and the heroine was kind of fun, and I really liked watching them get to know each other.

Toward the middle of the book I started to get kind of anxious about the final conflict, then a little impatient for it. Toward the 3/4 mark the book fell apart. The angst of “I don’t want kids/Oh no, I do” was frustrating. Part of this may be my own personal feelings on the matter (WHY MUST EVERY COUPLE IN ROMANCE HAVE KIDS OT BE HAPPY!??!), but I was so ready for it to end. I wish the kids conflict hadn’t existed.

The hero was sweet and I enjoyed the romance, but that kid thing really killed a lot of my enjoyment.

Had that part been removed, I’d probably give this a 4.25. As it is, I have to give it:

3 out of 5

In the Zone

three-stars


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Guest Review: Plus One by Brighton Walsh

Posted November 2, 2018 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Plus One by Brighton WalshReviewer: Tracy
Plus One by Brighton Walsh
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: May 6, 2013
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 68
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three-half-stars

Olivia hates the singles scene, so when her best guy friend, Ian, offers to be her plus one to a series of weddings she has to attend, she agrees. Although she doesn't want to complicate their lifelong friendship, she can't pass up the chance to have a steady date without the dating drama. What she doesn't expect is to now find Ian so incredibly sexy.

When Ian sees his old friend Olivia dolled up for wedding #1, the boyhood crush he once nurtured transforms into smoldering attraction. It doesn't take long for their no-strings arrangement to turn physical. But as Olivia's desire to stay "just friends" becomes clear, Ian's feelings are deepening. In the time they have together, how will Ian convince Olivia that one plus one can make for a lifelong pair?

Olivia, Emma and Ian have been best buddies for 20 years. They tell each other just about anything and get each other out of bad situations, like when one is on a blind date and having the worst time ever because their date is talking about cat pee.  This was the case when Ian called Olivia and got her out of her blind date.  Olivia was expecting a call from Emma, but apparently she was busy with her boyfriend so Ian called.  They talk while Olivia is on her way home and one of the topics that comes up is weddings.  Olivia has to either be in or go to nine weddings in the next six months.  She was hoping one of her blind dates would be awesome and she could take him as her plus one, but no luck.  Ian offers to be her plus one and while Olivia is hesitant at first she soon takes him up on his offer.

Ian has been in love with Olivia the entire time he’s known her.  As he got older his puppy love turned into true love, but he was afraid to mess up their friendship.  There was also the fact that Olivia didn’t see him as anything other than a friend.  He even went so far as to move a couple of hours away from her to try and get her out of his system.  While that worked in a way, he never stopped loving her.  Now he’s torturing himself by seeing her on a regular basis for all of these weddings and he can’t help but dream of what it would be like with her.

During one of the wedding receptions Olivia drinks a bit and they come close to kissing but she pulls away.  Ian thinks that he can never make Olivia see him as more than a friend, but she’s already undressing him in her mind.  How can these two take the chance on love without ruining their friendship forever.

This was a short novella but it was good!  I really liked both Ian and Olivia and thought they were adorable together. Their banter was cute and funny.  Like I said, this was a short novella so there wasn’t a lot of plot development. Despite that, I thought the author did a good job of showing us each of the characters in a good light and making us understand their wants and hesitations over the relationship.

One part I thought was needlessly added was Olivia’s friend, and Ian’s sister, Emma.  I’m not sure why she was written in.  She really only served to make Olivia’s uncertainty about the relationship worse because Olivia didn’t want to betray her friend. I got Olivia’s thinking, but it really was just extra and the story definitely could have survived quite well without her involvement.

Overall I enjoyed this story and recommend it if you need a quick read or palate cleanser.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Guest Review: Under Contol by Shannon Stacey

Posted October 10, 2018 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Under Contol by Shannon StaceyReviewer: Tracy
Under Control by Shannon Stacey
Series: Boston Fire #5
Also in this series: Heat Exchange, Controlled Burn, Heat Exchange, Controlled Burn, Fully Ignited, Fully Ignited, Controlled Burn, Hot Response, Hot Response (Boston Fire, #4), Under Control (Boston Fire, #5)
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: August 28, 2018
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
three-half-stars

When faced with the opportunity to change shifts while staying in the same house, veteran firefighter Derek Gilman jumps at the chance. His new schedule means not working Saturdays, which means more time to spend with his two kids. His divorce may have been amicable, but being a firefighter and a single dad is a lot to juggle. And when fate brings a gorgeous, wealthy woman into his life, he’s pretty sure he can’t handle more than he already is.

Olivia McGovern loves plans. She planned to start her own business and planned its growth. It’s earning her seven figures now, but her personal life simply doesn’t exist. Getting trapped in a broken elevator figures in exactly nowhere, and freaking out in front of a sexy firefighter definitely isn’t on the agenda. Especially not one with two kids and an ex.

What would have been a random incident with an attractive stranger becomes something more when a charity event brings them back together. They’re from different sides of the tracks, literally—with friends, family and careers to consider. But as Derek and Olivia are discovering, chemistry doesn’t allow for plans, and love doesn’t bother with logistics.

Derek Gilman is a man who loves his family.  His marriage didn’t work out, but they stayed good friends.  He has two children and they mean the world to him.  He wasn’t expecting to meet anyone that would catch his eye, but when he gets stuck in an elevator with Olivia McGovern she pushes all of his buttons.

Olivia has no time in her life for dating.  She has a plan and a man plays no part of that.  Unfortunately for her plans, Derek gets under her skin and she’s soon having to make adjustments.  But can she make enough adjustments to her life to include Derek and his two kids and still live her life the way she wants to?

This was a cute story.  I liked Derek a lot.  I liked how he was with his kids and also the fact that he was such good friends with his ex-wife – kind of like he was before they got married.  With Olivia it took me a while to warm up to her because she was so Type A and had every minute of her day/life planned.  She needed some warmth and spontaneity in her life…and Derek provided that.

Olivia and Derek fall in love pretty quickly but neither is willing to compromise their lives for the other.  They live 40 minutes away from each other.  She makes a lot of money, he makes a fair amount but nothing spectacular.  Her job is in downtown Boston, his isn’t.  Money and location ended up being an issue between them and that annoyed me for some reason because he wouldn’t compromise and his pride was getting in the way.  I mean, I could tell how much they loved each other, and their relationship was pretty good, but the story lacked a spark.  Maybe it was because the book was so centered on them and lacked outside issues?  IDK.

We got some time with the other guys in the firehouse and characters from past books.  We also got, woven into this story, a bit about Grant and his girlfriend Wren.  I’m thinking the next book will be their book and it looks like it will be a good one.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Boston Fire

three-half-stars


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Review: Under Control by Shannon Stacey

Posted August 29, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Under Control by Shannon StaceyReviewer: Rowena
Under Control (Boston Fire, #5) by Shannon Stacey
Series: Boston Fire #5
Also in this series: Heat Exchange, Controlled Burn, Heat Exchange, Controlled Burn, Fully Ignited, Fully Ignited, Controlled Burn, Hot Response, Hot Response (Boston Fire, #4), Under Control
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: August 28, 2018
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads

When faced with the opportunity to change shifts while staying in the same house, veteran firefighter Derek Gilman jumps at the chance. His new schedule means not working Saturdays, which means more time to spend with his two kids. His divorce may have been amicable, but being a firefighter and a single dad is a lot to juggle. And when fate brings a gorgeous, wealthy woman into his life, he’s pretty sure he can’t handle more than he already is.

Olivia McGovern loves plans. She planned to start her own business and planned its growth. It’s earning her seven figures now, but her personal life simply doesn’t exist. Getting trapped in a broken elevator figures in exactly nowhere, and freaking out in front of a sexy firefighter definitely isn’t on the agenda. Especially not one with two kids and an ex.

What would have been a random incident with an attractive stranger becomes something more when a charity event brings them back together. They’re from different sides of the tracks, literally—with friends, family and careers to consider. But as Derek and Olivia are discovering, chemistry doesn’t allow for plans, and love doesn’t bother with logistics.

Under Control is the fifth book in the Boston Fire series by Shannon Stacey and it features firefighter Derek Gilman and newcomer Olivia McGovern as they fall in love with each other. Their story starts when they’re stuck in an elevator together and Derek helps Olivia with her not quite but maybe a little ankle injury. There’s an attraction on both sides but nothing comes of it because Olivia had to rush off after she was saved and Derek was still in the elevator but luck would be on their side when she shows up for a charity meeting and Derek is there too.

One of my favorite things about this series is that Shannon Stacey is writing romances for the everyday person and I’m so here for it. I mean sure, Olivia is a little richer than anyone that I know but I thought that her relationship with Derek, who has money worries and problems that I can totally relate to was a good one. I loved seeing them figure their shit out together. Olivia has issues with divorce and the baggage that comes with it, which is completely understandable given her family dynamic and seeing her try to figure her way through dating a man who shares custody of two kids with his ex-wife made for an interesting romance.

I loved seeing Derek try to find a balance in the early days of his relationship with Olivia and being there for his kids and their insecurities about their Mom’s big news. There was a lot of internal things these characters battled in this book and I thought Stacey did a wonderful job of weaving Derek’s life with Olivia’s and I love a straight up contemporary romance, which is what this was.

It was so easy for me to fall right back in with these characters. I enjoyed seeing the guys from the other books and seeing the girls get their gossip on with each other so that was fun though there were times when I thought a bunch of guys at a Red Sox games talking about buying engagement rings was a bit cheesy. Still, this book was a great addition to the Boston Fire series and I’m super excited for Grant’s book. This is what I look like, waiting on Grant’s book…

Overall, this was a solid romance and it left me satisfied that Derek finally got his happy ending. Olivia was a great match for Derek and I was super thrilled with how things turned out for them. I enjoyed getting to know Derek’s kids, seeing all of my other Boston Fire friends and there’s still much to look forward to so woot, you did great Shannon Stacey!

Grade: 4 out of 5

Boston Fire


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Review: Making Up by Lucy Parker

Posted June 14, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 3 Comments

Review: Making Up by Lucy ParkerReviewer: Rowena
Making Up (London Celebrities, #3) by Lucy Parker
Series: London Celebrities, #3
Also in this series: Pretty Face
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: May 28, 2018
Point-of-View: Third Person
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 254
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Goodreads
four-stars


Author of Act Like It and Pretty Face Lucy Parker returns readers to the West End, where it’s fireworks onstage and off in a sexy enemies-to-lovers showdown.

Once upon a time, circus artist Trix Lane was the best around. Her spark vanished with her confidence, though, and reclaiming either has proved…difficult. So when the star of The Festival of Masks is nixed and Trix is unexpectedly thrust into the spotlight, it’s exactly the push she needs. But the joy over her sudden elevation in status is cut short by a new hire on the makeup team.

Leo Magasiva: disgraced wizard of special effects. He of the beautiful voice and impressive beard. Complete dickhead and—in an unexpected twist—an enragingly good kisser.

To Leo, something about Trix is…different. Lovely. Beautiful, even though the pint-size, pink-haired former bane of his existence still spends most of her waking hours working to annoy him. They’ve barely been able to spend two minutes together for years, and now he can’t get enough of her. On stage. At home. In his bed.

When it comes to commitment, Trix has been there, done that, never wants to do it again. Leo’s this close to the job of a lifetime, which would take him away from London—and from Trix. Their past is a constant barrier between them.

It seems hopeless.

Utterly impossible.

And yet…

Making Up is the third book in Lucy Parker’s London Celebrities series and it was another enjoyable book that I ate right up. Leo and Trix were a wonderful couple and their story was solid.

Trix Lane’s role in her show has been upgraded and she’s elated at the same time that she’s terrified of messing up. The new role is more complicated, her routines a lot harder and though she knows the basics, she must up her game if she wants to keep the role but her confidence has taken a hit thanks to her no good piece of shit ex, the ex that tried to get between her and her best friend Lily in Lily’s book, Pretty Face. To make matters worse, someone from her past is back in her life working on her show as a makeup artist and he’s the last person that she wants to see around.

It doesn’t matter what she wants because Leo isn’t going anywhere and he’s always around because he’s renting one of the rooms in the housing unit that Trix lives in. Poor thing, haha. But Leo is trying to make some moves for himself professionally after a setback. Sure, he’s not all that excited to see Trix on a daily basis but he’s not going to let her derail his plans.

This was a great romance about two people who did not get along but fell in love anyway. Leo and Trix’s story started when they were in high school and didn’t know how to deal with their big time feelings. Things were said, feelings were hurt and a feud began. Every time they saw each other, they burned hot and everyone tried to get out of their blast zone. Seeing them work things out and then figure their things out together made for an enjoyable romance.

Lucy Parker does a great job of making the readers care about her characters. I cared so much for both Trix and Leo. I wanted the best for them throughout the entire book, even when they were both getting on my nerves. Their story was full of warmth, charm and the romance itself was steamy. Leo was really good in the sack, haha. The way that he couldn’t get enough of Trix melted my heart. I loved seeing them come into their feelings for each other and though it wasn’t the most perfect of journeys, it was a good one.

I’m pretty anxious to see if we get more books from this world and I’m hoping that we do because I’d love to read a story featuring Jono front and center. His character is interesting. Overall, this book was fun and though there were times that I wanted to strangle first Trix and then Leo and Cat wasn’t safe from these hands either, I still enjoyed the romance, the story and seeing Trix’s professional world first hand.

Leo was a strong hero who cared deeply for those close to him. Trix was a wonderful match for him and I really enjoyed their chemistry together. Kudos to Lucy Parker for another winner.

Grade: 4 out of 5

London Celebrities

four-stars


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