Publisher: Harlequin

Throwback Thursday Review: The Heart of a Killer by Jaci Burton

Posted August 8, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 3 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: The Heart of a Killer by Jaci BurtonReviewer: Holly
The Heart of a Killer by Jaci Burton
Series: The Killer #1
Publisher: MIRA
Publication Date: October 25, 2011
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 407
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-half-stars
Series Rating: five-stars

No one said coming home would be easy. But for Dante Renaldi, it's murder.

Before the Special Forces hero has even unpacked his bags from twelve years of active duty, he's embroiled in murder—corpses bearing the brutal trademark he's seen only once before—on the worst night of his life.

The last time Detective Anna Pallino saw Dante Renaldi, they were in love. Now, he's part of the connection to a string of fresh homicides and a horrible assault that Anna only survived thanks to him.

More than anything, Anna wants to trust Dante. But as the bodies and the coincidences stack up, Anna will have to decide, and fast: Is the man she owes her life to the very same one who wants her dead?

*** Every Thursday, we’ll be posting throwback reviews of our favorite and not-so-favorite books. Enjoy! ***

Narrator: She was not, in fact, coming out of her romantic suspense funk. It’s still going, some 8 years later…

This review was originally posted on Nov 15, 2011.

It looks like I might be coming out of my romantic suspense funk. I really enjoyed this. It’s a gripping tale filled with twists and turns. I suspected the killer early on but enjoyed watching the rest figure it out.

The main – and secondary – characters were well written. Anna was annoying at times, but then so was Dante. They have a lot of baggage between the two of them. It was hard watching them struggle to get over their past feelings and focus on the present. Especially Anna. She really clung to her hurt and anger over Dante leaving so abruptly.

Aside from that, I found both characters to be well balanced and likable. The trauma they suffered when Anna was attacked followed them through their lives. Burton did a bang up job of showing us how each of them was still dealing with what happened that night. I felt really connected to them, and understood where each of them was at.

The romance was very well done. Anna and Dante had a lot of chemistry, but physical attraction isn’t everything. Their emotional connection was strong despite the long separation. Between the two – the physical and emotional – I was fully invested in them finding their HEA.

I figured out pretty early on who the villain was, but I enjoyed watching the others clue in. I’m really looking forward to the next installment.

Burton balanced the suspense and romance perfectly. Fans of her more erotic romance titles might be disappointed – there isn’t a lot of sex here. Personally I think that worked in the context of the story and didn’t take away from the romance at all.

Overall a well written, chilling suspense flavored with the perfect amount of romance.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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

four-half-stars


Tagged: , , , , , ,

Sunday Spotlight: Diamond Bay by Linda Howard

Posted August 4, 2019 by Casee in Features, Giveaways | 8 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

This is an oldie, but goody. Kell Sabin is smokin’ hot and Rachel is a strong, capable heroine. This book has everything. Romance, suspense, hot sex. If y’all haven’t read this book, what are you waiting for? It’s a gem that you don’t want to miss out on!

Sunday Spotlight: Diamond Bay by Linda HowardDiamond Bay by Linda Howard
Series: Rescues #2
Also in this series: Heartbreaker, Midnight Rainbow (Rescues #1)
Publisher: MIRA
Publication Date: November 24, 1997
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 247
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: four-stars

Rachel Jones wasn't looking for trouble, much less a man, but in Kell Sabin she found both. On a hot summer's night Kell is washed up - barely alive - on a Florida beach and into Rachel's life. Her instincts tell her to help him, and their love blossoms as he recovers from his injuries. But by falling in love with Kell, Rachel has put her own life in danger from the forces that want him dead. Once fate has brought them together, can they learn to live apart?


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Excerpt

“Have we been sleeping together?”

Her breasts had tightened painfully, begging for that touch to be transferred to them, for him to claim them as he had before.His question destroyed what little concentration she had left.”This… there’s only this one bed. I don’t have a couch, only the love seats – ”

“So we’ve been in the same bed for four days,” he interrupted, stopping a flow of words that she had felt edging toward incoherency. His eyes were glittering again, but this time with a different fire, and she couldn’t look away. “You’ve been taking care of me.”

She drew a deep, shuddering breath. “Yes.”

“All alone?”

“Yes.”

“You’ve been feeding me.”

“Yes.”

“Bathing me.”

“Yes. Your fever – I had to sponge you with cool water to keep it down.”

“You did everything that had to be done, took care of me like a baby.”She didn’t know what to say, what to do. His hand was still on her, his palm warm and hard against the softness of her flesh.

“You touched me,” he said. “All over.”

She swallowed. “It was necessary.”

“I remember your hands on me. I liked it, but when I woke up this morning I thought it was a dream.”

“You did dream,” she said.

“Have I seen you naked?”

“No!”

“Then how do I know what your breasts look like? How they feel in my hands? It wasn’t all a dream, Rachel. Was it?”

A hot, wild blush colored her face, giving him an answer even before she spoke. Her voice was stifled, and she looked away from him, her embarrassment at last freeing her from his gaze.

“Twice, when you woke up, you… uh…grabbed me.”

“Helped myself to the goodies?”

“Something like that.”

“And I saw you?”

She made a helpless gesture toward her neck. “My nightgown drooped when I bent over you. The neckline was hanging open….”

“Was I rough?”

“No,” she whispered.

“Did you like it?”

Rescues

Giveaway Alert

We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the widget below to enter for one of this month’s features.

Sunday Spotlight: August 2019

Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!

About Linda Howard

Linda Howard is the award-winning author of many New York Times bestsellers, including Up Close and Dangerous, Drop Dead Gorgeous, Cover of Night, Killing Time, To Die For, Kiss Me While I Sleep, Cry No More, and Dying to Please. She lives in Alabama with her husband and two golden retrievers.


Tagged: , ,

Sunday Spotlight: Summer on Mirror Lake by JoAnn Ross

Posted June 16, 2019 by Rowena in Features | 3 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

Summer on Mirror Lake is the third book in JoAnn RossHoneymoon Harbor series and I’ve already seen some pretty good early praise for it. We’re pretty stoked to be featuring this book on this week’s Sunday Spotlight so check it out…

Sunday Spotlight: Summer on Mirror Lake by JoAnn RossSummer on Mirror Lake by JoAnn Ross
Series: Honeymoon Harbor #3
Also in this series: Herons Landing (Honeymoon Harbor, #1), Snowfall on Lighthouse Lane (Honeymoon Harbor, #2)
Publisher: Harlequin, HQN
Publication Date: May 21, 2019
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: four-stars

Summertime is the best time to lose yourself in the romance of Honeymoon Harbor…

When he lands in the emergency room after collapsing at the funeral of a colleague and friend, Wall Street hotshot Gabriel Mannion initially rejects the diagnosis of an anxiety attack. But when warned that if he doesn’t change his adrenaline-fueled, workaholic lifestyle he could end up like his friend, Gabe reluctantly returns to his hometown of Honeymoon Harbor to regroup.

As he adjusts to the sight of mountains instead of skyscrapers, Gabe discovers advantages to this small Pacific Northwest town he once couldn’t wait to escape. But it’s irresistible librarian Chelsea Prescott who, along with the two foster children she’s taken under her wing, makes slowing down seem like the best prescription ever.

Over the course of their summer romance, Gabe gets a taste of the life he might have had if he’d taken a different path. But with his return to New York City looming on the horizon, he’ll have to choose between the success he’s worked tirelessly for and a ready-made family who offers a very different, richly rewarding future…if he’ll only take the risk.

Excerpt

Home, as someone had once said, was a shifting land¬scape. Although many things in Honeymoon Har¬bor had changed during the years since Gabe had left Washington—including, he’d noted as he’d driven off the ferry landing, an influx of new businesses and tourists crowding the sidewalks and slowing traffic down with their motor homes—it wasn’t, and never would be, like New York. Hell, it wasn’t even like Tacoma. Or Olympia.

Which was why, even two weeks into Gabe’s self-enforced sabbatical, he was already bored out of his freaking mind. How many miles could he run every morning? Not anywhere near what he’d been able to as a distance runner on UW’s track team. Proving, dam¬mit, the smart-ass ER doctor’s diagnosis. He’d let him¬self get out of shape.

Which, hell, was fixable. He’d already come up with a goal metric, which he’d programmed into the schedule on the new smart watch that had replaced the Rolex. He’d also programmed it to report his heart rate, which was cur¬rently pathetic. Maybe he’d never been the ultimate jock his quarterback brother, Burke, had been, but he sure as hell hadn’t had the heart rate of a couch potato.

The first three nights home, he’d enjoyed having din¬ner with his parents, grandparents, sister and brothers. His mother had always equated food with love, and who was he to discourage her? But it soon became obvious that they all had their own lives and couldn’t spend their days and evenings entertaining him. Which, he supposed, was some sort of karmic payback for all the years he’d stayed away and the events he’d missed, like his sister Brianna’s engagement party.

When he’d first heard his brother Quinn had walked away from his Seattle law firm to brew beer, Gabe’d thought he was crazy. But he was impressed with the way his brother had reclaimed the old pre-prohibition business.

“You do realize that you’re driving customers away,” Quinn said as Gabe entered into his second week.

“Me?” Gabe looked up from tracing lines in the con¬densation on the side of his chilled pilsner glass of Good Vibrations, his brother’s new summer release. A not too sweet, light pilsner brewed with local fresh raspberries that blended well with its wheat malt, it was a ruby-colored pour that was pretty enough to almost be considered a girlie drink. But Quinn had captured summer in a bottle as perfectly as he’d always done everything else.

He glanced around, noticing for the first time that Quinn’s restaurant wasn’t as crowded as it had been when he’d first arrived. “It probably emptied out because we’re between lunch and dinner.”

“It’s five thirty. And while I realize that after all those years living in Manhattan you’re undoubtedly accustomed to dining at a big-city fashionable hour, Honeymoon Har¬bor tends to roll up the sidewalks after ten o’clock. Which means we should be starting to fill up with people get¬ting off work.”

“So what does that have to do with me?”

“The edgy vibe radiating off you is scaring people away,” Jarle Biornstad, who’d appeared from the kitchen with Gabe’s order of BBQ ribs, said in a deep, rumbling foghorn voice. After years of cooking for fishermen out of Dutch Harbor, Alaska, the Norwegian who claimed to have gotten tired of freezing his ass off during winter crabbing season had ended up in Honeymoon Harbor cooking for Quinn.

Personally, Gabe thought the red-bearded giant with a full sleeve tattoo of a butcher’s chart of a cow was a lot scarier than he’d ever be, but he was also smart enough not to suggest that to a guy who made Sasquatch look like a preschooler. According to Quinn, Seth Harper had had to take out four rows of bricks in the doorway leading to the kitchen to prevent the six-foot-seven cook from bang¬ing his head.

“I’m not edgy.” Edgy was too close to anxiety. Which, as something he’d already been through, he wasn’t in any hurry to revisit. Thus this trip back to the penin¬sula. “Just bored.”

“Antsy,” Quinn diagnosed.

Honeymoon Harbor

Giveaway Alert

We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the widget below to enter for one of this month’s features.

Sunday Spotlight: June 2019

Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!


Tagged: , , ,

Throwback Thursday Review: She Drives Me Crazy by Leslie Kelly

Posted May 9, 2019 by Holly in Features, Reviews | 2 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: She Drives Me Crazy by Leslie KellyReviewer: Holly
She Drives Me Crazy by Leslie Kelly
Series: Walker Brothers #1
Also in this series: She's Got the Look
Publisher: Harlequin
Publication Date: October 15th 2012
Format: Print
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

When she was good, she was very, very good…

When Emma Frasier returns home to Joyful, Georgia, she's greeted with the kinds of winks and lusty grins one might offer…an adult film star?

But when she was bad…

Thanks to small-town gossip and citizens who clearly need to get a life, Joyful's residents think Emma Jean is the "famous star" building a strip club in town. And that her barely concealed…uh, attributes are the ones gracing the new interstate billboard.

She was better.

As if being taken for a blue movie queen isn't rattling enough, there's Johnny Walker, the local bad boy turned good—a man who tempts Emma to be just as wild and wicked as Joyful thinks she is.

Every Thursday, we’ll be posting throwback reviews of our favorite and not-so-favorite books. Enjoy!

This review was originally posted on May 17, 2008

She Drives Me Crazy is the first book in the Walker Brothers Series by Leslie Kelly.

Emma returns to her hometown of Joyful, Georgia with her tail between her legs after getting fleeced for all she was worth by a scummy boss and even scummier best friend. All she has left in the world is a handful of designer clothes, a cute red convertible and her grandma’s house and pecan farm that was willed to her.

But when she gets back, due to town gossip, she’s as shunned as she was the day she left Joyful, a disgraced high school senior who got caught with her pants down with the baddest boy in town, Johnny Walker. And of course, the first person she happens to run into (literally) in the grocery store, with the town looking on, is none other than Johnny Walker himself.

She’s determined to make a new life for herself – if only temporarily – until she realizes that someone has sold her grandmother’s land, without her knowledge. Between ending up in jail and between the sheets with Johnny, she tries to find out who stole her land…and then a murder happens.

Johnny was a great hero. Emma was a good heroine, too, not too flighty and willing to stand up for herself. The residents of Joyful cracked me up, because I grew up in a small town and the people there were just like these ones. In everybody’s business and gossiping about everything. Plus, there was this lecherous old man who played pocket hockey all the time and he had me laughing out loud. Dirty Old Man.

This isn’t some deep, heavy reading material, but it was fun for what it was. I recommend it if you’re looking for a light read for the beach or other summer vacation spot.

4 out of 5

This book is available from Mira. You can buy it here.

Walker Brothers

four-stars


Tagged: , , , , , , ,

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
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
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


Tagged: , , , , , ,