Publisher: Harlequin

Review: The Dating Game by Kiley Roache

Posted March 25, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 3 Comments

Review: The Dating Game by Kiley RoacheReviewer: Rowena
The Dating Game by Kiley Roache
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Publication Date: April 1, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Genres: New Adult
Pages: 304
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
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three-stars

The Social Network gets a romantic twist in this fresh and engaging new read from the author of Frat Girl, Kiley Roache. Experience the whirlwind ups and downs of college life in this authentic and entertaining new novel!

When a notoriously difficult class for future entrepreneurs leads to three freshmen developing the next “it” app for dating on college campuses, all hell breaks loose…

Type A control freak Sara lives by her color-coordinated Post-it notes.

Rich boy Braden wants out from under his billionaire father’s thumb.

Scholarship student Roberto can’t afford for his grades to drop.

When the three are forced to work together in one of the university’s most difficult classes, tension rises to the breaking point…until, shockingly, the silly dating app they create proves to be the most viable project in class. Late nights of app development, interest from investors and unexpected romance are woven into a true-to-life college drama that explores what it means to really connect online and IRL.

The Dating Game caught my eye while I was browsing Edelweiss because I liked the look of the cover and the blurb was interesting. It’s got The Social Network vibe working for it and I enjoyed that movie so I was mighty curious about this one. Three students come together for a group project, create a dating app that takes off and complicates the hell out of their lives? Yeah, count me in. While this book ended up being a solid read, it was also problematic for me and I just wasn’t a fan of the direction the author took one of the main leads.

So Roberto, Sara, and Braden are paired up together in class to create an app and they dive into creating a dating app that lets the user rate other users. The more swipe rights you get, the higher your profile is. While the three of them tackle this project, we get to know each of them and see them really go through it. Roberto’s got some family issues going on, Braden is a rich boy who is determined to not be like his father.

There’s a lot going on in this story. There are the individual situations at the same time that they’re working on their app and there’s also a budding romance because, of course, there’s one! I saw that love triangle a mile away and the way that it was handled low key rubbed me the wrong way. I just wasn’t a fan of that whole thing. I didn’t like that one had to completely change for the main romance to work. I also didn’t connect with each of the characters as much as I was hoping. I thought of the three characters, I would like Robbie’s character the most but his whole story low key felt flat for me. It felt very surface level and not as in depth so I didn’t connect with him and that bummed me out. Sara and Braden were fine until they weren’t fine and yeah, there was a whole lot of me hoping the author went in a different direction than the one she actually went on and because of that, my enjoyment suffered. I also thought the success of the app was a bit over the top, considering it wasn’t a very original idea but that was small potatoes. I did think that the author got the college experience right in this one. I thought that was handled well.

Overall, the story had a lot of promise and I was really looking forward to reading it but I didn’t fully connect with everything going on and with all of the characters so that bummed me out but still, I’d read something else from this author.

Grade: 3 out of 5

three-stars


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Guest Review: Legendary Beast by Barbara J. Hancock

Posted January 31, 2019 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Legendary Beast by Barbara J. HancockReviewer: Tracy
Legendary Beast by Barbara J. Hancock
Series: Legendary Warriors #3
Publisher: Harlequin Nocturne
Publication Date: October 1, 2018
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 304
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two-stars
Series Rating: two-stars

She slept…his love didn’t

Once upon a time, Madeline was trapped in an enchanted sleep, her baby wrapped tight in her arms. Then the white wolf woke her, and her son disappeared.

For centuries, Lev Romanov searched for his wife and their child, and the search drove him half-mad. Can Madeline trust the wolf to be the man who can help her save their son.

Madeline has been asleep for hundreds of years.  Her mate, Lev, never gave up looking for her, or their son, who slept with Madeline.  When she finally awakens, it’s to find that her son is no longer in her arms.  Vasilisa is a Queen who has protected Madeline.  When dark witches attack the palace where they are staying, Vasilisa and Madeline’s son, Trevor, disappear.  In order to find them and beat the dark witches, Madeline must trust the white wolf, who is her mate.  She’s terrified of the wolf, and draws dark pictures of it constantly, but the longer time she spends with Lev, the more she realizes she’s not as scared as she was before.  Madeline’s not sure who to trust and she’s not sure who is the villain as she’s getting conflicting information.  Can she remember the love she had for Lev and save her son as well?

This book was…incredibly confusing.  I didn’t read the two previous books in the series and I definitely should have in order to understand this book. I found this story to be incredibly disjointed, but would I have if I’d read books 1 & 2? IDK.  I wasn’t sure why Madeline had been sleeping, why her and Lev had been separated, what the deal was with Vasilisa (was she evil or was she good?)…I was just confused for most of the book.  Most of my questions were answered by the end of the book, but I spent most of the time confused.  Not necessarily my idea of a good time.

Madeline was a warrior of sorts, but she was weak for most of the book from sleeping for so many years – 1000 years, I think.  She was also afraid of the wolf, which was Lev, so a huge portion of the story was spent with them together, yet apart.  I didn’t feel the connection between the two of them because of this, and it diminished the romance significantly.

I have to say that the writing was decent and kept me reading, despite my confusion with the story, so that right there earned this an extra star.

Would I recommend this book?  Maybe?  If you do, be sure to read books 1 & 2 first so that this one won’t be so confusing.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Legendary Warriors

two-stars


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Featured Review: Mornings on Main by Jodi Thomas

Posted December 13, 2018 by Casee in Reviews | 0 Comments

Featured Review: Mornings on Main by Jodi ThomasReviewer: Casee, Holly, Rowena
Mornings on Main by Jodi Thomas
Publisher: HQN
Publication Date: April 10, 2018
Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 336
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three-stars

From the beloved and bestselling author of the Ransom Canyon and Harmony, Texas series comes a powerful, heartwarming story about generations of family and the ironclad bonds they forge.

When Jillian James lands in the small town Texas community of Laurel Springs, she's definitely not planning to stay--except to find a few clues about the father who abandoned her and destroyed her faith in family.

Connor Larady is a single dad, and the only one caring for his grandmother, Eugenia, who has Alzheimer's. And now he has to close Eugenia's quilt shop. When Connor meets down-on-her-luck Jillian, he's out of options. Can he trust the newcomer to do right by his grandmother's legacy?

Jillian is done with relationships. But as she grows closer to Connor and Eugenia, she must consider giving up her nomadic life for a future with those who need her.

An inspiring family saga that asks us to consider what love and chosen family really mean.

Jillian James is a wanderer. Her father lived a nomadic, off-the-grid lifestyle and taught her to do the same. For years she’s been drifting aimlessly, never staying anywhere long or forming attachments. Recently she started following the path her father took, searching for some clue as to where he may have been in the past, and, more importantly, where he is now.

She lands in Laurel Springs, Texas, and takes a job from the mayor, Connor Larady, cataloging his Gram’s quilt collection from her quilting shop. She’s suffering from the early stages of dementia, and the historical society wants an accounting of each quilt before they’re moved to a local museum for display.

Connor and Jillian have an instant attraction, but he’s deeply rooted in his hometown..and she’s determined not to leave any roots at all.

Holly: It’s been years since I read a novel by Jodi Thomas, but I have fond memories of her older books. Sadly this one didn’t live up to my expectations. There was absolutely nothing wrong with the story, it was all very sweet and lovely. It was also very boring. I really had to push myself to finish it. The slow moving romance and the lack of true angst made for a snoozefest.

Rowena: This is the second book that I’ve read by Jodi Thomas and I couldn’t remember why I stopped reading her. Reading this story kind of reminded me. The small town, the super sweet but slow-moving romance, all of that served to remind me that these kinds of romances aren’t my jam. While reading this, I felt like I was reading a romance that was written by my Grandma. A sweet story told by an older person who wrote dialogue on how they thought young kids talked these days and not really how they actually talk. Does that make sense?

Still, it was sweet.

Holly: I don’t know that I agree about the dialogue, though I do agree about the rest. I really liked Sunnie and Reese, the teenage couple with a thread running throughout the book. I thought they were sweet and pretty cute. I loved how much Sunnie loved her Gram, and how great of a kid she was despite going through some bad teenage years. I thought Reese was cute for her, too.

I even liked Jillian and Connor. I thought they were good together and had a sweet, comfortable relationship. It just didn’t do a lot for me.

Rowena: Yes, Sunnie and Reese were probably my favorite part of the book. I loved how smart and strong Sunnie was and how quickly she ended things with Derrick when he proves to be an ass. Too often, I see teenage girls stay in a relationship with the popular boy and I’m glad that Sunnie was above that.

I enjoyed everything in this book fine but that’s really all I have to say about this one. It was good. I liked Jack, Gram, and all of Gram’s friends, I liked Connor and Jillian. I adored Sunnie and Reese and though the beginning was slow, the story does pick up and it does get interesting but after all is said and done, I liked it fine and that’s it.

Casee: Unfortunately, as sweet as this book was, I was bored from start to finish. I did enjoy Connor and Jillian getting to know each other, but it didn’t do anything for me. I didn’t understand Jillian’s absolute need to be a nomad. It just made no sense to me. I didn’t understand why she wanted to find the father that abandoned her. I liked Sunnie and Reese. They were probably my favorite part of the book. Quilting doesn’t really do it for me, no matter how interesting the stories about them might be.

Holly: I did love Joe’s Toe Tent business. I cracked up when it blew up.

Casee: Rowena is correct. This review is as boring as the book was. Lets just call it what it was. Excruciatingly slow. Connor was sweet, but boring. I did enjoy seeing him get his HEA, but I didn’t particularly care by that point. I was just glad I finished the book.

Rowena: I did like that Joe’s toe tent business took off because I liked Joe and thought he was pretty great to Gram. I thought it was cute, how excited he was about the business too.

There isn’t much else I have to say about this book so I’m going to give it a 3 out of 5. What about you guys?

Casee: I’m going to give it a 2 out of 5.

Holly: I thought it was a sweet story. I liked the town and the secondary characters, it was just slow. I’m giving it 3 out of 5.

Final grades

Casee: 2 out of 5
Holly: 3 out of 5
Rowena: 3 out of 5

three-stars


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Guest Review: Renegade Protector by Nico Rosso

Posted November 20, 2018 by Jen in Reviews | 2 Comments

Guest Review: Renegade Protector by Nico RossoReviewer: Jen
Renegade Protector by Nico Rosso
Publisher: Harlequin Intrigue
Publication Date: November 20, 2018
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating Third Person
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 256
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two-half-stars

When intimidation turns to deadly force,

It’s time for Frontier Justice.

If ruthless developers want Mariana Balducci’s land, they’ll have to kill her for it. And they nearly succeed—until Ty Morrison foils her attacker. The sexy San Francisco cop is part of a secret organization called Frontier Justice. Mariana is tough, but she realizes she can’t win this fight alone. And when bullets fly, Ty realizes battling bad guys is easier than fighting their sizzling attraction.

Look for 6 new titles from Harlequin Intrigue every month!

Harlequin Intrigue: Edge-of-your-seat mysteries, fearless romance…resourceful women and tough-as-nails men fight for survival.

Mariana Balducci is being pressured to sell her family’s California apple orchard to developers. When the developers start switching from hard-sell business tactics to all-out threats and violence, Mariana doesn’t know if she can hold out…until Ty Morrison swoops in to lend support. Ty doesn’t offer much information about himself or why he’s there to help, but Mariana needs him if she’s going to get the developers off her back and preserve her family’s heritage. Ty has an alternate agenda, however, and when Mariana finds out she may never forgive him.

There were many things I liked about this book, and many things I didn’t. I did actually like the romance between Mariana and Ty. It moves too fast like so many romantic suspenses, but they do seem to have a great connection. I believed that they’d be a good couple going forward. I like that there was a lot of action in the book–there is a lot happening and it kept me interested. I also liked Mariana and Ty. Both were kind of broody but were smart and driven. Plus, the people in this world are diverse in a casual and realistic way, not entirely white as other Harlequin books would have you believe.

Unfortunately, the book also suffers from some of the same criticisms I often have with Rosso’s books. He focuses much more on description and inner thoughts than on dialogue, and his description is sometimes overwrought and kind of silly. Take this passage where Ty is describing eating an apple from Mariana’s orchard:

Savoring it this way strengthened the connection he’d been feeling with her all night. Her work, part of herself, was in his mouth, intimate and close. An apple had never made his blood rush like this.

A little dramatic, especially when he just met hours ago her, no? It’s not bad exactly, but it does get a little old as the story goes on. The plot also has way too much that doesn’t make sense. It’s never properly explained why these seemingly legit land developers would suddenly become willing to kill someone, beyond “money.” Mariana also just lets Ty into her life immediately, with very little mistrust or hesitation. Girl, you have no idea who he is or why he is there, and you barely ask any questions! It’s dangerous and, more importantly, draws out Ty’s lie of omission for absolutely no reason. 

Worse, the larger story arc that I assume will be continued in future books makes no sense. There is almost no explanation given for Ty’s secret mission. He wants to rebuild an organization his ancestors helped found, called Frontier Justice, that…got justice? On the frontier? I really had no idea what that meant beyond that they “helped.” And now Ty, who is AN ACTUAL POLICE OFFICER I might add, wants to create a vigilante justice organization. In this book, they do some pretty illegal stuff to help Mariana, too. He doesn’t seem to plan to quit his day job so how exactly would that work? I don’t know if there was just not enough attention given to world-building/explanation or if the whole premise is poorly designed, but either way, I rolled my eyes a bunch.

It probably sounds like I hated this book, but I definitely didn’t and I really struggled with wanting to give this a 3 instead of 2.5. I was disappointed in parts of the plot, for sure, but I think (?) this will be the start of a new series. I hold out some hope that future books will work better on that front. Still, this book has a different vibe and tone than your average Harlequin Intrigue, and I appreciate that. I appreciate Rosso’s voice, even if I don’t always love his stories, which is why I am glad to see him bringing something fresh to Harlequin.

Grade: 2.5 out of 5

two-half-stars


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Review: Snowfall on Lighthouse Lane by JoAnn Ross

Posted October 29, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Snowfall on Lighthouse Lane by JoAnn RossReviewer: Holly
Snowfall on Lighthouse Lane (Honeymoon Harbor, #2) by JoAnn Ross
Series: Honeymoon Harbor #2
Also in this series: Herons Landing (Honeymoon Harbor, #1)
Publisher: HQN
Publication Date: October 30, 2018
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
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three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Lose yourself in the magic, charm and romance of Christmas in the Pacific Northwest as imagined in JoAnn Ross’s heartwarming Honeymoon Harbor series.

Growing up on the wrong side of the tracks, Jolene Harper is forever indebted to the mother who encouraged her to fly—all the way to sunny LA and a world away from Honeymoon Harbor. Although Jolene vowed never to look back, returning home isn’t even a question when her mom faces a cancer scare. Which means running into Aiden Mannion all over town, the first boy she ever loved—and lost—and whom she can barely look in the eye.

Aiden’s black-sheep reputation may have diminished when he joined the marines, but everything he’s endured since has left him haunted. Back in Honeymoon Harbor to heal, he’s talked into the interim role of police chief, and the irony isn’t lost on the locals, least of all Aiden. But seeing Jolene after all these years is the unexpected breath of fresh air he’s been missing. He’s never forgotten her through all his tours, but he’s not sure anymore that he’s the man she deserves.

Despite the secret they left between them all those years ago, snow is starting to fall on their picturesque little town, making anything seem possible…maybe even a second chance at first love.

Snowfall on Lighthouse Lane is book two in the Honeymoon Harbor series. Jolene was the character from the previous book I was most looking forward to learning more about.

Jolene grew up dirt poor with a wonderful mother but an alcoholic father in a small town. As soon as she could she left town and made a life for herself as a makeup artist in California. After an Emmy nomination, things are going very well for her in her career, but after the mother of all bad days – she finds out her boyfriend is engaged to someone else and her apartment burns down – she learns her mother may be sick. She’s been wanting to develop a line of organic beauty products, so she heads back home to Honeymoon Harbor to work on that and be with her mom.

Aiden Mannion was a hellion as a teen, but after a stint in the Marines and several years working undercover with the LAPD, he’s settled down. After his partner was killed in an op gone bad, he’s back in Honeymoon Harbor to lick his wounds and heal. The town needs an interim Sheriff and he reluctantly accepts the job on a temporary basis. He and Jolene have history, and he’s quick to renew their friendship – and more – once she returns to town. But things are never simple in a small town, especially when he’s starting to think he never wants to leave and Jolene has a life several states away.

The small-town of Honeymoon Harbor came to life and I felt a real connection to those who live there. It was clear Jolene and Aiden had a true, deep foundation once they got past their initial awkwardness over their separation. They dated in high school, but broke up right before Aiden left for the Marines. He always regretted not telling Jolene how much he cared for her, and he’s glad to have the opportunity to renew their friendship…and possibly have more. It was lovely how quick he was to recognize Jolene as the only person he wanted in his life. Their romance set off sparks, but was also very heartwarming.

I did struggle a bit with the pacing. Parts seemed to drag on, especially in the middle. The book had a paranormal element I wasn’t expecting that seemed out of place given this is a contemporary romance.

View Spoiler »

Still, I can’t deny I enjoyed those parts, so I guess I can’t complain too much.

Overall I liked the story, though not quite as much as the first book, Herons Landing. JoAnn Ross always writes sweet, lovely stories. This small-town romance delivers in a big way.

3.25 out of 5

Honeymoon Harbor

three-half-stars


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