Publisher: Gallery Books

Review: Josh & Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren

Posted September 17, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 3 Comments

Review: Josh & Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina LaurenReviewer: Rowena
Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: September 4, 2018
Point-of-View: First
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 320
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five-stars

Hazel Camille Bradford knows she’s a lot to take—and frankly, most men aren’t up to the challenge. If her army of pets and thrill for the absurd don’t send them running, her lack of filter means she’ll say exactly the wrong thing in a delicate moment. Their loss. She’s a good soul in search of honest fun.

Josh Im has known Hazel since college, where her zany playfulness proved completely incompatible with his mellow restraint. From the first night they met—when she gracelessly threw up on his shoes—to when she sent him an unintelligible email while in a post-surgical haze, Josh has always thought of Hazel more as a spectacle than a peer. But now, ten years later, after a cheating girlfriend has turned his life upside down, going out with Hazel is a breath of fresh air.

Not that Josh and Hazel date. At least, not each other. Because setting each other up on progressively terrible double blind dates means there’s nothing between them...right?

I haven’t read very many books by Christina Lauren but the books that I did read, I enjoyed. I didn’t love them but they were solid contemporary romances that brought the goods. The time has come where they wrote a book that I absolutely adored.

Josh and Hazel went to college together and while they weren’t friends there, they were in each other’s orbits because Hazel was a hurricane of a young girl and Josh was a TA for one of Hazel’s classes. They’re complete opposites and even though Hazel has always a bit of a crush on Josh, she knows it’s not going to happen because she won’t ever change who she is for anyone, she settles for being Josh’s friend. They don’t become friends until after they run into each other 7 years after college but friends they become.

Josh is reserved and he’s careful and when he finds out that his long-distance girlfriend is cheating on him, he becomes single and his sister puts Hazel into his path to make sure that he has fun. He needs to have more fun in his life and there is nobody more fun than Hazel Bradford.

Hazel is a third-grade teacher who loves life. She’s eccentric, she’s bold, she’s loud and she knows that she’s a lot to take on so she’s not at all surprised that she’s single. She respects that she’s a lot to handle and doesn’t let that stop her from being her. She’s not for everybody and deep down, she hopes to find her person. Her person will be someone who accepts and loves her the way that she is. She sees the good in people and she doesn’t waste a lot of energy on negative shit so she’s just a ray of sunshine.

When Josh and Hazel become friends, we see their relationship form. For Josh, Hazel goes from being the loud and inappropriate young woman to the caring, will do anything for him best friend that he appreciates more and more with each passing day. She’s a lot of things, but she’s also one of the very best people that he knows. In an effort to help him move on from his cheating ex, Hazel starts setting him up on blind dates that Josh drags her along on with a blind date of her own. They choose dates for each other and then they go on these dates together and each date cracked me up.

I read this book in one sitting and throughout most of the book, I was laughing. I had a clear picture of both Josh and Hazel in my head (Jung from Kims Convenience for Josh and Jessica Day from New Girl for Hazel) so I could see each scene play out perfectly. Christina Lauren wrote a fabulous romantic comedy with a friendship that I was jealous of and a love that charmed the socks right off of me. Josh and Hazel made no sense and yet they were perfect for each other. I loved that Hazel could bring Josh out of his funk and I adored that Josh accepted and loved Hazel as she was. Their romance completely worked for me and I definitely recommend this book. This book isn’t being as well received by other readers but for me? I loved it all.

Grade: 5 out of 5

five-stars


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Guest Review: Desperate Girls by Laura Griffin

Posted August 16, 2018 by Jen in Reviews | 4 Comments

Guest Review: Desperate Girls by Laura GriffinReviewer: Jen
Desperate Girls (Wolfe Security #1) by Laura Griffin
Series: Wolfe Security #1
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: August 7, 2018
Format: eARC
Point-of-View: Third Person
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 368
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four-stars

Defense attorney Brynn Holloran is right at home among cops, criminals, and tough-as-nails prosecutors. With her sharp wit and pointed words, she has a tendency to intimidate, and she likes it that way. She’s a force to be reckoned with in the courtroom, but in her personal life, she’s a mess.

When a vicious murderer she once helped prosecute resurfaces and starts a killing spree to wipeout those who put him behind bars, one thing becomes clear: Brynn needs to run for her life.

With no help from the police, Brynn is forced to take matters into her own hands, turning to a private security firm for protection. But when Brynn defies advice and gets involved in the investigation, even the former Secret Service agent assigned to protect her may not be able to keep her safe. With every new clue she discovers, Brynn is pulled back into the vortex of a disturbing case from her past.

As the clock ticks down on a manhunt, Brynn’s desperate search for the truth unearths long-buried secrets and reignites a killer’s fury.

I have been anxiously awaiting this new romantic suspense series, which is a spin-off from Griffin’s always dependable Tracers books. Instead of focusing on the Delphi Center or the police, we get to dig into Liam Wolfe’s private security firm. Liam was the hero of book 9 in the Tracers series, and while we don’t get to see him much we do get some brief glimpses of him and his profiler brother Mark. You definitely don’t need to have read any of the Tracers books to jump into Desperate Girls, though.

The cover copy for this book is really not an accurate portrayal of the plot, so let me try and summarize things a bit more precisely. (And that title is similarly meaningless. I can only assume the publisher is trying to cash in on the popularity of the “Girl” thrillers, even though this is not that kind of book. It is firmly a romantic suspense.) Brynn Holloran is a former prosecutor who is now a defense attorney. When it appears a case from her past has come back to haunt her and the others involved, her boss hires Wolfe Security to handle things. Erik Morgan is the lead for her security detail, and they quickly butt heads. Brynn doesn’t see the need for security and is simply focused on her big upcoming trial, but as the threats escalate she realizes the danger she’s in. Of course, she and Erik have an inconvenient attraction that complicates matters.

Probably my favorite part of the book is Brynn. She is a really, really good defense attorney, and it was fun to read about her legal strategizing. She is excellent at reading people, at seeing patterns and motives, and at telling a story for a jury. I particularly love the way she makes no apologies for her job or her tactics. She admits she’s not above using her looks to sway, impress, or intimidate. There’s a scene where she calls out Erik for his hypocrisy by pointing out his appearance is an important part of his job too, and I gave a silent fist pump at that. She is perhaps a bit ridiculous in her continued insistence that she doesn’t need so much security, but I could overlook that one blindspot.

I really enjoyed Brynn and Erik together, too. We never dig too deep into Erik’s story, which I would have liked, but we do get some time to see Brynn and Erik together. I appreciated that Erik likes her for her strength and her intelligence–he respects her job and how hard she works at it. They have some good physical and emotional chemistry, and I believed they would be a good long-term couple. This is a stereotypically fast-moving romantic suspense relationship, however, so YMMV depending on how you feel about that trope.

We meet some fantastic secondary characters in this book, too. I particularly enjoyed the police detective Lindsey, who seemed brilliant and not afraid to go her own way. I definitely want to hear more about the other Wolfe Security team members as well.

In my opinion, this is a solid start to this spin-off. This book was a bit more suspense and less police/forensic procedural than the Tracers series, but I appreciated the different vibe.

Grade: 4 out of 5

 

four-stars


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Summer Challenge Review: Sustained by Emma Chase

Posted August 8, 2018 by Casee in Reviews | 3 Comments

Summer Challenge Review: Sustained by Emma ChaseReviewer: Casee
Sustained (The Legal Briefs, #2) by Emma Chase
Series: The Legal Briefs #2
Also in this series: Overruled (The Legal Briefs, #1), Sustained (The Legal Briefs, #2), Appealed (The Legal Briefs, #3), Sidebarred (The Legal Briefs, #3.5)
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: August 25, 2015
Point-of-View: First
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 267
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four-stars

A knight in tarnished armor is still a knight.

When you’re a defense attorney in Washington, DC, you see firsthand how hard life can be, and that sometimes the only way to survive is to be harder. I, Jake Becker, have a reputation for being cold, callous, and intimidating—and that suits me just fine. In fact, it’s necessary when I’m breaking down a witness on the stand.

Complications don’t work for me—I’m a “need-to-know” type of man. If you’re my client, tell me the basic facts. If you’re my date, stick to what will turn you on. I’m not a therapist or Prince Charming—and I don’t pretend to be.

Then Chelsea McQuaid and her six orphaned nieces and nephews came along and complicated the ever-loving hell out of my life. Now I'm going to Mommy & Me classes, One Direction concerts, the emergency room, and arguing cases in the principal's office.

Chelsea’s too sweet, too innocent, and too gorgeous for her own good. She tries to be tough, but she’s not. She needs someone to help her, defend her…and the kids.

And that — that, I know how to do.

This was an interesting book. Not only was it written in first person (which I don’t particularly enjoy reading), it was written solely from the hero’s point-of-view. One of the reasons that I don’t enjoy first person is because I like rotating points-of-view. It just makes it more interesting when I can get into multiple characters’ heads. There are very few authors that can hold my interest from one point of view. I’m relieved happy to say that Emma Chase is one of them.

Jake Becker seems like a world class a-hole when the book first starts. A world class man whore a-hole. The guy has no illusions about himself. He knows what he wants out of life and what he wants from women. From life, he wants everything. From women, he wants nothing but sex. He’s seen one of his colleagues fall into domestic bliss and is certain that life is not the way for him. That is until Rory McQuaid picks his pocket. Then his whole life is turned upside down. He finds himself in the middle of a family of seven, suddenly a father figure for six orphans. Lusting after the kids’ guardian makes Jake feel like the lowest of the low, but he is attracted to Chelsea McQuaid like he’s never been attracted to anyone before. He’s actually interested in what comes out of her mouth, not what her mouth can do to him. Which is all together new for him.

As Jake gets in deeper and deeper, his commitment to his work lessens. Suddenly he is his domesticated colleague, which freaks him the hell out. He tries to run like hell in the opposite direction. Problem…not only can he not stay away from Chelsea, he can’t stay away from the kids. He’s found himself attached to the six rugrats. They’ve wound themselves throughout his life and around his heart. It’s only when he starts to consider the serious damage he could do to their lives that he really reconsiders being in them at all.

I found this book thoroughly enjoyable. Watching Jake fall for this broken family was really heartwarming. That he was so opposite of a family man made it all the better. Late in the book, the kids were taken away from Chelsea. I was wrecked reading about it. I almost, almost ugly cried. Then after, when Riley confronts Jake about leaving them? Wowza. Intense stuff. Emma Chase did such a fabulous job of getting all the characters feelings to the reader even though the book was only from Jake’s POV. I commend her for that. I also commend her for keeping this reader engrossed in the book and wanting more.

Oh, one more thing? This book was fucking steaming hot. Yup.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Legal Briefs

four-stars


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Review: Roomies by Christina Lauren

Posted December 11, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 11 Comments

Review: Roomies by Christina LaurenReviewer: Rowena
Roomies by Christina Lauren
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: December 5th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 368
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
four-stars

Marriages of convenience are so…inconvenient.

Rescued by Calvin McLoughlin from a would-be subway attacker, Holland Bakker pays the brilliant musician back by pulling some of her errand-girl strings and getting him an audition with a big-time musical director. When the tryout goes better than even Holland could have imagined, Calvin is set for a great entry into Broadway—until he admits his student visa has expired and he’s in the country illegally.

Holland impulsively offers to wed the Irishman to keep him in New York, her growing infatuation a secret only to him. As their relationship evolves from awkward roommates to besotted lovers, Calvin becomes the darling of Broadway. In the middle of the theatrics and the acting-not-acting, what will it take for Holland and Calvin to realise that they both stopped pretending a long time ago?

Roomies is the second book that I’ve read by Christina Lauren and it certainly won’t be my last. This book was a lot of fun, once the story took off. Unfortunately, for me, the book didn’t pick up until about 52% into the story. The beginning started off interesting but then for a long time, I read and read and read and waited for something to happen and felt like there was too much Holland and not enough moving the story along. That changed once the story took off and once it did, my enjoyment of the story picked up as well.

So Holland Bakker is a young woman living in New York City, trying to find herself. She’s working with her Uncle, who is a musical director for a Broadway show and she’s doing the little jobs that anyone can do while she figures herself out. She’s not particularly happy with her life, there’s some guilt over living off her Uncles and not really having a direction, or a purpose. She’s got a huge crush on this subway musician and when her uncle needs help finding a new musician to step in for his play, Holland brings her uncle and the subway musician together and things really take off from there because before Holland knows what’s what, she’s got a new roommate who is her husband and her new Irish husband is on his way to being in the states legally.

The whole story is about Holland finding her purpose and her way. She does a lot of growing up in this book and there were times when I wanted to strangle her. I thought she spent too much time in her head and not enough time expressing what she needed and wanted from Calvin, her new husband. It was great to see her and Calvin growing closer and closer but because of the situation that they were in, I felt that they didn’t communicate nearly as much as they should have. I mean, toward the end of the book and they were still not communicating clearly with each other and I kept thinking, “Ugh, not again!”

Aside from that, Hollands ends up being such a strong character in the end and I was glad for her. I was also glad that we got to see the growth in Calvin’s character as well. We only got Holland’s POV so Christina Lauren did a great job of showcasing the growth of the secondary characters as well. I adored Holland’s Uncles and the small bits that we got of her brother, Davis. I did not really care much for Holland’s friend, Lulu. I wanted to smack the shit out of her multiple times in this book because she was such a shit friend but alls well that ends well and even though she wasn’t my favorite person, she came around.

Overall, this was a solid story. It had likable characters, a heroine that young women will be able to connect with, a sexy musician hero and a story that makes things interesting. The beginning was a little slow but when it picks up, it really picks up and I’m not at all mad that I read this one. It wasn’t the most perfect of reads but it was entertaining and all in all, it was good. I recommend.

Grade: 3.75 out of 5

four-stars


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Review: Ready for Wild by Liora Blake

Posted October 31, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Ready for Wild by Liora BlakeReviewer: Rowena
Ready for Wild (Grand Valley #3) by Liora Blake
Series: Grand Valley #3
Also in this series: First Step Forward, First Step Forward, Second Chance Season, Second Chance Season
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: October 31st 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 320
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Featuring Liora Blake’s signature “funny, endearing, and more than a little hot” (Library Journal) style, the third novel in the Grand Valley series features a rough-talking game warden going toe-to-toe with a TV star who unexpectedly turns his life upside down.

Braden Montgomery is certain about three things: one, luck is for suckers; two, time spent outdoors is what keeps him sane; and, three, when it comes to sharing his bed, there’s only one female he’s willing to put up with—his Chesapeake Bay retriever, Charley. Braden’s constructed his life on these beliefs, and he’s quite content with the status quo.

But when a moment of bad luck lands Braden toe-to-toe with a blonde bombshell with her own television show, his stubbornly structured reality begins to unravel.

As for Amber Regan, her brand has been built on camo, cut-offs, and cleavage. With her own hunting show on the foremost sports channel and enough social media followers to garner her plenty of endorsement deals, Amber’s come a long way from the tomboy in a small Texas town she once was. Unfortunately, ratings are down and her contract for next season is in limbo, so she’s in desperate need of a reboot to save her show—and filming a rough and tough archery elk hunt in Colorado might be the way to do just that. Too bad the local game warden grunts more than he speaks, seems determined to despise her—and makes her heart race in all the most inconvenient ways.

Ready for Wild is the third book in the Grand Valley series by Liora Blake and it was another enjoyable romance in a series that I feel is quite underappreciated. I haven’t seen too many people reading this series around the internet but I’m rather liking this series.

So this book follows Garrett’s grumpy best friend Braden as he makes that journey toward true love. He falls hard for the girl he didn’t even want to come into town but when she got there, he was hardpressed to not take notice of her. Braden lives a solitary life and it suits him, until Amber shows up to film her hunting show on his trails and he’s roped into being her local guide.

Amber Regan needs to film a quality hunting show this season or she’s afraid her show will get axed by her tv network. She’s not afraid of hard work so heading out to the trails of Colorado to get some quality footage is her number one priority and she doesn’t give two shits what park ranger Braden Montgomery thinks about it. He can hate it all he wants, he just better not get in her way.

Liora Blake does a great job of capturing the chemistry between Braden and Amber in this one. From their physical interactions to their texting interactions, there’s a whole lot to enjoy. Braden turned out to be a whole lot of fun when he wasn’t growling at everyone and everything in his path and Amber was a great match for him because she just made herself comfortable in his life and kind of forced him to open up and let her in. That was exactly what he needed.

This was a great romance without a lot of angst. Just a sweet romance between two people who grew to be important parts of the others life. Between Amber’s friends and family and Braden’s, you’ll fall a little more in love with Grand Valley, CO and want to move there yourself. I know I do.

Grade: 4 out of 5


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