Publisher: HQN Books

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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four-stars

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

four-stars


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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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four-stars

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

four-stars


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Guest Review: Second Thought by Kristan Higgins

Posted May 23, 2017 by Tina R in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Second Thought by Kristan HigginsReviewer: Tina
On Second Thought by Kristan Higgins
Published by HQN Books
Publication Date: January 31st 2017
Pages: 480
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three-half-stars

Ainsley O’Leary is so ready to get married—she’s even found the engagement ring her boyfriend has stashed away. What she doesn’t anticipate is being blindsided by a breakup he chronicles in a blog…which (of course) goes viral. Devastated and humiliated, Ainsley turns to her older half sister, Kate, who’s struggling with a sudden loss of her own.

Kate’s always been the poised, self-assured sister, but becoming a newlywed—and a widow—in the space of four months overwhelms her. Though the sisters were never close, she starts to confide in Ainsley, especially when she learns her late husband was keeping a secret from her.

Despite the murky blended-family dynamic that’s always separated them, Ainsley's and Kate’s heartaches bind their summer together when they come to terms with the inevitable imperfection of relationships and family—and the possibility of one day finding love again.

First of all, Kristan’s books always seem to have the best covers!! I admit that I am a total cover snob, and that is one of the first things that make me want to pick up a book – even before I see if it is one of my favorite authors or not! And, I also can count on a well-written story filled with endearing characters whenever I pick up one of her books, and On Second Thought is no exception.

This book not only tugged at my heart, it also made me smile once in awhile too. I don’t really see why this book is listed as a romance though, because to me it is more centered around the character’s lives and about their struggle to get past the things that life has dealt to them. I felt like the romance part was actually more secondary in this book.

Overall, I thought this was another good book from Kristan HIggins. Like I said, I have been a fan for a long time and will continue as such. For anyone who is not familiar with her books, you really need to go check her out, as her books are definitely worth it!

I would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me an advanced copy of this ebook in exchange for my honest review.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5.

three-half-stars


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Guest Review: After the Dark by Cynthia Eden

Posted March 29, 2017 by Jen in Reviews | 3 Comments

Guest Review: After the Dark by Cynthia EdenReviewer: Jen
After the Dark by Cynthia Eden
Series: Killer Instinct #1
Also in this series: Before the Dawn
Published by Harlequin, HQN Books
Publication Date: March 28th 2017
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 384
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four-stars

In New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Eden's gripping new series, a disgraced FBI profiler must save her reputation by stopping a sadistic killer she knows all too well.

Former FBI agent Samantha Dark was one of the most respected profilers in the bureau, an expert on the twisted minds and dark hearts of the most depraved criminals. But when her own former lover turned out to be the serial killer she was hunting, Samantha's career was destroyed. Blamed for the FBI's failure on the complex case, Samantha fled Washington, DC, for the quiet anonymity of Alabama.

Now an all-too-familiar killer is hunting once again. She can catch the sadistic assassin, but that means putting her trust in her former partner, Blake Gamble. Ex-military, Blake is tough, protective, precise. With her entire life on the brink, she knows he wants her back in the FBI…and possibly more.

But someone else wants her, too. A threat is waiting in the dark, a killer who has set his sights on the ultimate trophy victim—Samantha.

Cynthia Eden has become a pretty reliable author for me. Her books never totally blow me away, but they’re always  very solid, enjoyable reads, and After the Dark was no exception.

Samantha Dark was a genius criminal profiler with the FBI, but she left the Bureau in disgrace after her former boyfriend turned out to be a serial killer. She hides away in a small town in Alabama until her old partner, Blake, comes calling looking for help with a case. Blake had the hots for Samantha from the start, but obviously being partners complicated that attraction, and he never acted on it. Now, he wants her back, both in the FBI and in his own life, but Samantha doesn’t trust herself and certainly doesn’t think she’s good enough for a decent man like Blake. However, she’s the only one who can stop the killer who’s become fixated on her.

I really liked the premise of this book. The idea that a profiler could miss that her own friend was a serial killer was very compelling. Plus, Cameron wasn’t just Samantha’s friend but her past lover and confidant with whom she had shared her deepest, darkest secrets. While it’s not really addressed in the book, it seemed to me that Cameron had probably been emotionally manipulating her for years. He convinced her that there was this darkness in her that only he understood, and even after she’s left the Bureau she still holds on to this idea that she’s got some kind of not-entirely-good core. Couple that with her disgraceful exit from the FBI and it made sense why she would be so reluctant to help Blake and to get personally involved with him. It was a unique twist on a serial killer story I haven’t seen before. I also liked that the case wasn’t quite as simple as it first appeared. There were some big twists and turns, and they made for a fast paced and exciting story.

Blake was kind of a mixed character for me. He was one of Eden’s trademark alphas, bossy and in charge. He is the one who comes to Samantha for help, but then he also tries to edge her out when things get dangerous. That was stupid and unnecessary, I thought. Still, his genuine care for Samantha is clear. He stands up to his boss when his boss doubts her, and he isn’t afraid to go after Samantha once he’s found her again. He insists he too has a “darkness” in him, but I didn’t really feel like that went anywhere. To be honest, this story is more about Samantha and her struggle to overcome her past and her self doubt, which was fine by me.

This was an engaging story with a fascinating heroine, and I’m glad I read it.

Grade: 4 out of 5

*I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.

four-stars


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Guest Review: Miracle on 5th Avenue

Posted December 21, 2016 by Jen in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Miracle on 5th AvenueReviewer: Jen
Miracle on 5th Avenue by Sarah Morgan
Series: From Manhattan with Love #3
Also in this series: Sleepless in Manhattan, Sleepless in Manhattan, Sunset in Central Park (From Manhattan with Love, #2), Miracle on 5th Avenue
Published by HQN Books
Publication Date: November 29th 2016
Pages: 384
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four-stars

It will take a Christmas miracle for two very different souls to find each other in this perfectly festive fairy tale of New York!
Hopeless romantic Eva Jordan loves everything about Christmas. She might be spending the holidays alone this year, but when she's given an opportunity to house-sit a spectacular penthouse on Fifth Avenue, she leaps at the chance. What better place to celebrate than in snow-kissed Manhattan? What she didn't expect was to find the penthouse still occupied by its gorgeous—and mysterious—owner.

Bestselling crime writer Lucas Blade is having the nightmare before Christmas. With a deadline and the anniversary of his wife's death looming, he's isolated himself in his penthouse with only his grief for company. He wants no interruptions, no decorations and he certainly doesn't appreciate being distracted by his beautiful, bubbly new housekeeper. But when the blizzard of the century leaves Eva snowbound in his apartment, Lucas starts to open up to the magic she brings…This Christmas, is Lucas finally ready to trust that happily-ever-afters do exist?

It’s the final book in Sarah Morgan’s From Manhattan with Love series! I really enjoyed the first two books in the series, and this book was a sweet, Christmas-y conclusion.

This time, the story focuses on hopeless romantic Eva. She’s always been the bubbly, loving, and idealistic one in her trio of friends, with whom she co-owns an event planning business in Manhattan. Her beloved grandmother (her only family) died a year ago, though, and while she has the love of her best friends, the experience has left her lost and reeling. Throughout the books, Eva has befriended an elderly woman who sometimes hires them for small jobs, and when the woman hires her to decorate her grandson Lucas’s penthouse for Christmas while he’s out of town, Eva jumps at the chance. Of course, he’s not actually out of town, and a snowstorm (and stubbornness on both their parts) forces them to spend some quality holiday time together. To say Lucas is different than Eva would be a serious understatement. He writes gritty best selling crime novels, and he’s a widower. He’s dark, distrustful, angry, and completely unhappy, until Eva starts chipping away at his armor. Seeing the two come together was lovely.

In Book 1, I was afraid Eva was just going to be the flighty, silly best friend, but that’s not what she turned out to be at all. She is optimistic and romantic, but she’s not naive. She didn’t exactly have an easy life, but she chooses to look at the positive. I admired her spirit and perceptiveness. She is excellent at reading people and reaching out in a warm and genuine way, a talent she certainly uses on Lucas. For instance, while the snow storm and the job from Grandma serve to get the two in the same place, the REAL reason Eva stays is because she senses Lucas’s alarming despair and pain, and as a caring person Eva can’t ignore that. She quietly starts propping him up before he even realizes it. Lucas, on the other hand, is a miserable SOB. Again, I thought I knew what to expect–sad widower can never love again–but things turned out to be a bit more complicated that they first appeared. While Eva learns some things about herself and life, Lucas is really the one who goes through a major transformation in this book.

I really loved Eva and felt good about her romance, but it’s hard to avoid the fact that she serves as a bit of a manic pixie dream girl here. Lucas is the one wallowing in despair, but Eva swoops in to feed him, bring holiday cheer to his apartment, and challenge him to see the beauty in the world. In some ways that all makes perfect sense, because Eva is so filled with love and caring everyone around her can’t help but be swept into her circle. On the other hand, I wouldn’t have minded a little more focus on Eva and her own challenges. Her history wasn’t one-note–I would have liked to see that explored a bit more. I also wanted more time with her friends. Unlike the previous books, we don’t spend nearly as much time with Paige, Frankie, and the guys, and I missed that.

Still, if you like sweet contemporaries with funny dialogue and some good sexytimes, I don’t think you can go wrong with this series or this book. It’s not overly Christmas-y, but it has a nice little sprinkling of holiday magic if you’re in the mood for that, too. It certainly hit the spot for me.

Grade: 4 out of 5

*I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.

four-stars


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