Publisher: Harlequin

Review: Whiskey Sharp: Unraveled by Lauren Dane

Posted January 30, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Whiskey Sharp: Unraveled by Lauren DaneReviewer: Holly
Unraveled (Whiskey Sharp, #1) by Lauren Dane
Series: Whiskey Sharp #1
Published by Harlequin Books
Publication Date: January 30th 2018
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
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The sharpest ache comes from wanting what you think you can't have

Maybe Dolan has lived independent, free-spirited and unattached since leaving home at sixteen. Whiskey Sharp, Seattle's sexy vintage-styled barbershop and whiskey bar, gave her a job and a reason to put down roots. Cutting hair by day, losing herself drumming in a punk rock band by night, she's got it good.

But a longtime crush that turns into a hot, edgy night with brooding and bearded Alexsei Petrov makes it a hell of a lot better.

Maybe's blunt attitude and carnal smile hooked Alexsei from the start. Protecting people is part of his nature and Maybe is meant to be his even if she doesn't know it. Yet. He can't help himself from wanting to protect and care for her.

But Maybe's fiery independent spirit means pushing back when Alexsei goes too far. Still, he's not afraid to do a little pushing of his own to get what he wants her in his life, and his bed, for good. Maybe's more intoxicating than all the liquor on his shelf and he's not afraid to ride the blade's edge to bind her to him."

Maybe Dolan and her sister Rachel bought a house together in Seattle after a tragedy nearly broke Rachel. Maybe picks up a job at Whiskey Sharp, a trendy barbershop/bar. The owner, Alexsei Petrov is sexy as all get out, but since he’s in a relationship he’s off limits. When it turns out Maybe and Rachel bought a place next to his aunt, they’re eventually brought into the family fold. Things are status quo for two years, until Alexsei and his girlfriend break up. Maybe sees her shot to get him between the sheets and goes for it.

Alexsei needed time after his breakup to get his head in the right place, but enough time has passed that he’s willing to jump in with Maybe when she makes a pass. He’s surprised to find he knows so little about her, considering they’ve been working together for years. They have chemistry in spades, but Maybe is skittish when it comes to commitment.

Maybe’s main priority is being with her sister and avoiding her parents. They’ve treated her like crap her whole life and now they blame her for her sister leaving them. They’re pretty abusive and she’d cut them off completely if it weren’t for her sister needing them. She understands what family is, and Alexsei and his are some of the best, but he can be overbearing. After the way her parents controlled her growing up, Maybe can’t deal with any kind of control from her boyfriend.

I liked that Maybe worked hard to overcome her past and get out from under her parent’s thumb. I wish Dane had further explored the reasons for them treating her the way they did. As it was, things were left pretty open. I assume we’ll understand more when we get Rachel’s book, but that part of the book felt unfinished. Despite the issues she had with her parents, Maybe was self-confident and knew her own mind. I liked that she was willing to make the first move with Alexsei and wasn’t afraid to be honest about her feelings.

Alexsei was a great fit for her. Strong and tender at the same time, he was a rock for her and her sister both. Once he claimed them as family, he was willing to stand in front of them, beside them, or behind them as they needed. Though he could be the quintessential alpha-male, he wasn’t afraid to step back and let Maybe handle things herself. They had great chemistry and I loved how they came to mean so much to each other over the course of the novel.

The book ended on something of a cliffhanger. While the romantic elements were mostly wrapped up, a lot of the book was left open. As I said, I’m sure we’ll get more answers in the subsequent books, but this one felt unfinished.

Dane is a fabulous storyteller. I was wrapped up in Maybe and Alexsei from the start. Great chemistry, witty banter and a kickass heroine make this worth reading despite the questions left unanswered. I’m really looking forward to the next book.

3.5 out of 5


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Retro-Review: The Perfect Murder by Brenda Novak

Posted November 8, 2017 by Casee in Reviews | 1 Comment

Retro-Review: The Perfect Murder by Brenda NovakReviewer: Casee
The Perfect Murder (The Last Stand, #6) by Brenda Novak
Series: The Last Stand #6
Published by MIRA
Publication Date: September 29th 2009
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 448
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For more than a year, Sebastian Costas has been trying to unravel the truth behind the murder of his ex-wife and son. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, he's convinced that her second husband—a cop—committed both murders, then faked his own death. Now Sebastian has followed the slimmest of leads to Sacramento…and that's where he finally gets the break he needs. Jane Burke, an investigator with The Last Stand, calls him in connection with a separate crime—a crime that could lead him straight to the man he's been looking for.

Once married to a serial killer, Jane has spent the past five years rebuilding her life. And with Sebastian she finally has a chance at happiness. But the man they're after is after them, too. For him this has become a personal battle, one he's determined to win. Whatever it takes…

*****As part of our 10 year anniversary celebration, we’ll be re-posting old reviews and posts that make us cringe, laugh or sigh all over again.*****

Holly: It’s interesting to me that 8-10 years down the road we’re still reading the same authors. I love that we’ve been able to go the distance with them. 

This review was originally posted on November 5, 2009.

This is the first book in this series that I wasn’t really looking forward too. The reason is that I was never really interested in the character of Jane Burke. I understand that I’m supposed to be sympathetic to her since she was married to a serial killer, but that was never the case. I never really felt bad for her. I felt bad for the situation she was in. I felt bad that she lost someone she loved. I just never felt bad for her. She made her bed. So I wasn’t very happy when I saw that she was going to be the heroine.

Jane is trying to make a name for herself at The Last Stand. With the help of Skye and Sheridan, Jane wants to help victims like herself. That’s another thing. While I guess she was technically a victim, I never saw her as such. I guess I’m not very sympathetic. When Skye and Ava go to South America on a paying job and Sheridan is out on maternity leave, Jane is in charge of The Last Stand. Hoping to prove herself, Jane takes a job for two teenage girls that have gone missing.

Sebastian Costas has been following Malcolm Turner for over a year. Since Malcolm killed Sebastian’s ex-wife and son then faked his own death, Sebastian has been on his trail. With his funds running low and time running out, Sebastian follows him to Sacramento. He has never been able to convince anyone that Malcolm is alive, but he has never doubted that. When his investigation puts him in Jane’s path, the two end up working together since their cases seem to be related.

Jane is understandably wary of getting involved with any man, let alone a man that has as much baggage as she does. I just wasn’t really feeling the relationship between Jane and Sebastian. I wanted to. By the time they actually met, I was starting to like Jane as a character. I liked Sebastian as well, even though he was obsessed with revenge.

Brenda Novak writes chilling villains. She has definitely proved herself as far as that goes. She is right behind Karen Rose in that respect, something that is pretty hard to do. At the beginning of the book, Malcolm seems to be the person that you would not want to meet in a dark alley. As the book goes on, he loses his steam. He ends up being rather pathetic. That was disappointing b/c Brenda Novak always comes through when it comes to her villains.

This is my least favorite of the series. Even being my least favorite, it was still a good read.

3.75 out of 5.

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

Other books in the series:

Trust Me Stop Me Watch Me The Perfect Liar The Perfect Murder


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Guest Review: Can’t Let Go by Gena Showalter

Posted October 30, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Can’t Let Go by Gena ShowalterReviewer: Tracy
Can't Let Go by Gena Showalter
Series: The Original Heartbreakers #5
Also in this series: The Closer You Come
Published by HQN Books
Publication Date: October 31st 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
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With trust issues a mile long, Ryanne Wade has sworn off men.  Then Jude Laurent walks into her bar and all bets are off.  The former Army Ranger has suffered unimaginably, first being maimed in battle then losing his wife and daughters to a drunk driver. Making the brooding widower smile is priority one. Resisting him? Impossible.

To Jude, Ryanne is off limits. And yet the beautiful bartender who serves alcohol to potential motorists tempts him like no other. When a rival bar threatens her livelihood, and her life, he can’t turn away.  She triggers something in him he thought long buried, and he’s determined to protect her, whatever the cost.

As their already scorching attraction continues to heat, the damaged soldier knows he must let go of his past to hold on to his future...or risk losing the second chance he desperately needs.

Jude Laurent really doesn’t like Ryanne Wade because she runs a bar.  His wife and twin daughters were killed in a drunk driving accident and he despises anything to do with alcohol.  Sure, she has strict rules about how many drinks someone can have and she always has them sober up first, but he still doesn’t like her.  If they don’t sober up first she takes their keys and calls them a cab.  Despite his disdain for Ryanne he finds himself wanting her more and more.

Ryanne is hot for Jude but she knows that he’s been so hurt in the past that the chances of them hooking up is slim to none. Of course that doesn’t stop her from teasing him mercilessly and texting him to annoy him.  She doesn’t plan on feelings building up for the man but they come so naturally.  When Jude finally says that he ready to start a strictly sexual relationship with Ryanne she’s all for it but can she keep her feelings to just the bedroom?  Can he?

This was a great book.  I honestly couldn’t figure out how Showalter was going to manage to make me believe that Jude was ready for anything.  He was so devastated by the deaths of his family and it broke my heart to think of it.  She did, however, honestly get me to believe that their romance worked.  Despite all the obstacles in their way they did it and I was rooting for them.

There was a guy in the story that wanted to buy Ryanne’s bar and when she wouldn’t sell accidents started happening.  Of course she needed Jude’s security business to protect her business.  This was a great way to get the pair to work together but the whole issue with the rich bastard businessman seemed just so far fetched.  IDK, that part of the story seemed unrealistic and I didn’t really care for it.

Despite that one issue I really liked this book.  I liked Ryanne and Jude separately and together and they worked!  This was another Original Heartbreaker novel I definitely recommend.

Rating: 4 out of 5


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Guest Review: The Witch’s Quest by Michele Hauf

Posted October 9, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: The Witch’s Quest by Michele HaufReviewer: Tracy
The Witch's Quest by Hauf Michele
Series: The Saint-Pierres #9
Published by Harlequin
Publication Date: October 10th 2017
Genres: Paranormal Romance
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The witch's redemption...

Kelyn Saint-Pierre always had a bit of a thing for Valor Hearst. But after he makes a harrowing sacrifice to save the tomboyish witch from a gruesome death, Kelyn's certain that any spark between them is gone forever.

Valor wishes she'd known about Kelyn's crush before she ruined everything. There may be a way she can repay her smoking-hot champion...but it won't be easy. Circling the globe on a dangerous mission that pits them against deadly magics and dark creatures, Kelyn and Valor are pushed scorchingly close together. But surrendering to passion may only further bind them in pain...

Valor is a witch and is trying to do a spell in an enchanted forest to make herself more lovable.  Unfortunately she’s caught by one of the enchanted trees and is slowly being sucked into the ground.  The only way to free her is to have someone in Faery push her out from the other side.  Too bad she doesn’t know anyone who can actually get into Faery.

Kelyn Saint-Pierre is part Faery but has never been able to get into Faery.   He would love nothing more but it’s not in the cards.  When he comes across Valor he wants to help her and the only way to do that is to sacrifice his wings to a demon who has agreed to help.

Once Valor is free she knows she has to get Kelyn’s wings back and goes about trying to find a spell that will open a portal to Faery for them.  Kelyn’s up for it and the two set off on a grand but scary adventure that brings to two closer together then either thought possible.

I really liked the premise of this book and it was set up nicely to start.  I instantly felt the connection between Valor and Kelyn and was rooting for them throughout the book.  The things they went through, for the most part, were pretty harrowing and I admired their determination.

There were a couple of parts in the book that I thought were superfluous but maybe that was just me.  I didn’t care for Kelyn’s attitude once they were in Faery and the fact that Valor forgave him so quickly once he apologized kind of bugged me.  I wanted him to grovel more because he’d been an ass.

Despite that I liked the book and thought it was a fun read.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5


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Guest Review: A Christmas Affair by Jodi Thomas

Posted October 2, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: A Christmas Affair by Jodi ThomasReviewer: Tracy
A Christmas Affair (Ransom Canyon #6.5) by Jodi Thomas
Series: Ransom Canyon #6.5
Also in this series: Sunrise Crossing
Published by HQN Books
Publication Date: October 1st 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 90
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Maria Anne Davis was on her way to an exciting career as a chef in Dallas, until a terrible car accident left her blind. Ever resilient, Maria has reinvented her life on her own terms, starting a business out of her home kitchen, selling her jams and jellies to the local grocery.

Maria loves romance novels, and despite her bold spirit, she fears she’ll never have a big love affair like ones her heroines experience. That is, until she realizes how much she cares about the quiet Wes Whitman, the owner of the grocery.

Wes can’t keep Maria’s wildly popular jam on his shelves – just like he can’t keep the fierce, beautiful Maria out of his thoughts. But how could a firecracker like Maria come to love a shy, nervous man like him? Maybe all they need is a grand affair. Wes needs to convince Maria that some affairs last forever, though – just in time for Christmas.

Wes and Maria don’t talk or really interact when she brings her stock in.  He pays her the money owed her and then she leaves.  Wes would like nothing more than to talk to her – and more – but he’s just too shy.  Maria ends up making the first move on Wes, which shocks and thrills him.  Maria proposes an affair – something she wants as her Christmas present.  Wes is happy to oblige but it seems like every time they turn around there are unintentional road blocks being thrown up.  The more Wes thinks about the affair with Maria the more he realizes that he doesn’t want just an affair – he wants it all.

In this novella not only do we get the sweet but whirlwind romance of Wes and Maria but we also get a bit of a story about a 15-year-old boy, Travis Fuller.  His parents are neglectful and social services has now put him into the care of his three great uncles in Crossroads, Texas.  Travis doesn’t plan on being with his uncles any longer than he planned on being with his parents. As soon as he hits age 16 he plans on running away and plots constantly as to how he can do that.

By staying with his uncles Travis gets to see that people may be screwed up in different ways but they can still love each other.   When Wes Whitman hires Travis as a stock boy in his grocery, Travis starts to see that life can be different from what he planned.  Not only is Travis then making money instead having to steal things, but he starts to have a sense of worth.  He starts to see life in a different way and I loved that.  Thomas has such a way of wrapping my heart around her characters that I couldn’t help but start pulling for Travis from the first sentence of the book.  I was so happy that by the end that he found a small sense of peace.  He was a good kid and I liked his character a lot.

Maria and Wes were definitely not your typical couple but they were good together.  I do wish they had talked more throughout the story but as it was a novella it still worked.  Sometimes two people just know they’re meant to be together and that’s all there is to it. 🙂

Overall a lovely novella and one I recommend, even if you haven’t read all of the Ransom Canyon books.

Rating: 4 out of 5


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