Publisher: Kensington

Review: Sweet Heat by Zuri Day

Posted October 15, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Sweet Heat by Zuri DayReviewer: Holly
Sweet Heat by Zuri Day
Series: Blue-Collar Lover #3
Publisher: Kensington
Publication Date: June 25, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 416
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 New to Me Challenge, New to Me Challenge
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three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

The Blue-Collar Lover Series

They don't wear suits, but the five Carter brothers work hard to earn a day's pay--and keep the right woman satisfied . . .

No one turns out luscious pies and to-die-for cakes like Marvin Carter. Few outside of the family know about his baking skills, but working as a restaurant line cook is getting old fast. Now he'll do whatever it takes to win start-up money from a major cooking contest and launch his own business. But his prime competition is making things hot for him in--and out--of the kitchen . . .

Naomi Carson is as savory as her soul food and has twice the spice. This confident, large-and-in-charge beauty also has high aspirations, and will work all her skills against the tasty Mr. Marvin to take first place--and stop living with Grandma. As their attraction burns hot, the other contestants can't take their heat nor their talent, and threaten to burn their dreams to ash. Will the desire be doused--or can Marvin and Naomi find common ground and fire up the chance of a lifetime?

ALSO IN THIS SERIES "Great escapism." --Library Journal on Packing Heat "Sexy, hot deliciousness . . . this power couple light up the page like a 100-megawatt bulb." --USAToday.com on Bad Boy Seduction

Sweet Heat is the third book in Zuri Day‘s Blue-Collar Lovers series. This is the first book I’ve read in the series. I don’t feel like I missed anything by skipping the first two. It read well as a standalone. I do want to go back to the first two, however. I plan to pick them up soon.

Naomi Wells and Marvin Carter meet at auditions for a Food Truck cooking competition. Both are looking for a boost in their careers and the $50,000 grand prize, plus a full tricked out food truck, would go a long way. They have a sizzling attraction and great banter, which serves them well as they go through the various challenges. But things aren’t simple – several contestants seem to be after them, and fraternization is frowned upon. They can’t seem to keep away from each other, though…

This was a cute contemporary story. I really enjoyed the cooking competition and the banter between Marvin and Naomi. They had strong family ties and deep connections which came across well. I especially liked the relationship Marvin had with his mother, and the one between Naomi and her Nana.

There were a couple pretty cheesy parts, and the thing with her ex came out of nowhere and made little sense in the context of the story. Those were minor concerns, however, and I ended up enjoying the book as a whole.

If you want a funny, sweet, sizzling hot contemporary romance, look no further. Sweet Heat delivers.

Rating: 3.25 out of 5

Blue-Collar Lovers

three-half-stars


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Summer Reading Challenge Review: Marry Me by Jo Goodman

Posted October 14, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Summer Reading Challenge Review: Marry Me by Jo GoodmanReviewer: Holly
Marry Me by Jo Goodman
Series: Reidsville #2
Publisher: Zebra
Publication Date: December 1, 2010
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Westerns
Pages: 447
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: GoodReads Challenge, Historical Challenge, Holly's 2019 GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 Historical Challenge, Holly's Summer Reading Challenge, Summer Reading Challenge
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three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Her Heart Was Locked Away

Rhyne Abbot is fierce, brave, and used to a life of isolation on her father's spread on the outskirts of Reidsville, Colorado. But when, overcome with sickness, she collapses, she knows she must return to town if she is to have any hope of recovery. Only there is no place for her but the new doctor's home, and he wants more than just to heal Rhyne. He wants her hand in marriage.

Until One Man Found The Key

Doctor Cole Monroe's hands are already more than full with his orphaned little sister to look after, and yet somehow he can't resist the magnetic pull of Rhyne's bewitching eyes--or her tempting kiss. But convincing her to trust him won't be easy. For Rhyne's heart needs as much tender care as her ailing body. And the only cure is the thing she most fears: to let herself fall in love...

Mary Me by Jo Goodman is the second book in the Reidsville series. Casee chose this for our Summer Reading Challenge, but I forgot to review it in August. It’s been ages since I read a Jo Goodman. This was vaguely familiar, so it’s possible I’ve read it before. I can’t remember for sure, though, so I’m calling this a new read. I had a hard time getting into it at first, but it picked up by the 3rd chapter.

When Cole Monroe’s younger sister talks him into moving to Reidsville, CO to become their new town doctor, he isn’t sure what to expect. The colorful residents are interesting, and he’s enjoying himself as the only doctor to service a large area. When he meets Rhyne Abbot, he knows he has to help her.The only way to do that is to have her move in with him. Not an ideal situation, but one they make work. Only, he never expected to come to have such strong feelings for her. Her fierce independence and indomitable spirit really call to him.

Rhyne was raised as a boy, until her father could no longer ignore the fact she was a girl. Even then, she kept up the pretense with the town’s inhabitants. Now that she’s been outed as a woman and forced to move in with the new doctor, things sure are different for her. Finding her footing in this new world is difficult, but she’s managing. If only she could get rid of this pesky attraction she has for the doctor…

I really thought the romance was super sweet. I liked both Cole and Rhyne. I liked how patient he was with Rhyne and how she slowly came to trust him. Some of the medical stuff was on the boring side, but I was able to move past that. I struggled more with how quickly Rhyne seemed to overcome her trauma, but I do think it was rather in keeping with the times. Rhyne didn’t have time to become hysterical, so she didn’t.

While this isn’t my favorite book by Goodman, it was enjoyable and I’ll probably read it again in the future.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

Reidsville

three-half-stars


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Guest Review: The Blacksmith Queen by G.A. Aiken

Posted September 19, 2019 by Jen in Reviews | 3 Comments

Guest Review: The Blacksmith Queen by G.A. AikenReviewer: Jen
The Blacksmith Queen by G.A. Aiken
Series: The Scarred Earth Saga #1
Also in this series: The Blacksmith Queen
Publisher: Kensington
Publication Date: August 27, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 304
Add It: Goodreads
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five-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

When a prophesy brings war to the Land of the Black Hills, Keeley Smythe must join forces with a clan of mountain warriors who are really centaurs in a thrilling new fantasy romance series from New York Times bestselling author G.A. Aiken.  The Old King Is Dead With the demise of the Old King, there’s a prophesy that a queen will ascend to the throne of the Black Hills. Bad news for the king’s sons, who are prepared to defend their birthright against all comers. But for blacksmith Keeley Smythe, war is great for business. Until it looks like the chosen queen will be Beatrix, her younger sister. Now it’s all Keeley can do to protect her family from the enraged royals.  Luckily, Keeley doesn’t have to fight alone. Because thundering to her aid comes a clan of kilt-wearing mountain warriors called the Amichai. Not the most socially adept group, but soldiers have never bothered Keeley, and rough, gruff Caid, actually seems to respect her. A good thing because the fierce warrior will be by her side for a much longer ride than any prophesy ever envisioned … 

I have to start this review with two points of context. First, I FREAKING LOVE THIS BOOK. I enjoy everything Shelly Laurenston/GA Aiken writes, and I particularly love this book. I just wanted to lay that out at the start of this review because there will be some squee. Second, while it pains me to say it, I would not call this book a romance. There is a satisfying, HEA romance storyline in it, and it’s a lovely one, but the romance is only a small part of the plot. Therefore, it’s not a romance, and if you go in expecting that you may be disappointed. That said, the book is so good, and I am all in on this world and these characters.

It’s hard to summarize this book without spoilers, so I’ll just let the cover copy do that. What I can talk about, however, is the main character Keeley Smythe. I love her! She is a blacksmith who runs her own shop, and she is capable AF. The opening scene, where she kicks the asses of a whole group of baddies in order to save a defenseless young man, just sucks you right in and shows you what kind of person she is. She is strong, she is fearless, and she is by and large very cheerful. She is also incredibly devoted to her family, and it was so great to see. Basically most of what she has done in life has been to protect and serve her family, but she isn’t resentful and doesn’t play the martyr. She does it because it needs doing–she is a woman who quite simply gets shit done. Aiken’s heroines are pretty much all capable and strong, however. What sets Keeley apart is that she’s really…nice. She loves the people around her despite their obvious faults and despite, in some cases, them being seemingly undeserving of her love. I love her for it.

The rest of the characters in the book are also amazing, particularly Keeley’s family. One thing I love about Aiken’s characters is that they have faults but are still deserving of their own happiness. Keeley’s family isn’t perfect, but they are ALWAYS interesting. There are so many conflicting personalities and agendas, and you get the sense that this book only revealed the tip of the iceberg of what’s really going on. I particularly loved the dynamic between Keeley and her sister Gemma. I am definitely hoping to hear more of Gemma’s story in the future! This book is also set in the same universe at the Dragon Kin books. We’ve also heard allusions to the queen we know is Annwyl, and hopefully we’ll get even more crossover later. (Hoo boy I’d love to get a scene of Keeley and Annwyl together!)

As for the romance, it may be small but it’s cute. Caid is taciturn and grumpy, but his grumpiness is no match for Keeley’s exuberance and kindness. It was fun to see her grow on him until she had wormed her way right into his heart. They were a great match, and I could see how his support would be so valuable for Keeley going forward. While I would have loved to see more page time for the romance, even my “romance or GTFO” heart was satisfied enough at the end of this book.

I know the small amount of romance will disappoint some, and as usual Aiken’s campy, violent fairy tale style is not for everyone. I, however, loved this book and I just want more. I want more of seeing Keeley come into her own, I want more story for the rest of Keeley’s family, and I want more of this world.

Grade: 4.75 out of 5.

five-stars


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Guest Review: Highland Guard by Hannah Howell

Posted September 12, 2019 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Highland Guard by Hannah HowellReviewer: Tracy
Highland Guard by Hannah Howell
Narrator: Angela Dawe
Series: Murray Family #20
Also in this series: Highland Groom, Highland Devil (Murray Family #22), Highland Wolf
Publisher: Zebra
Publication Date: February 24, 2015
Source: Library
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 352
Length: 08:02
Add It: Goodreads
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four-stars
Series Rating: three-stars

Lady Annys MacQueen has no other choice. The deception that enabled her to keep her lands safe is on the verge of being revealed by a cruel kinsman. To shield her young son from the sword and her people from devastation, she must turn to the one man she could never forget. . .

He lives for duty and honor. So the only way Sir Harcourt Murray could repay the laird who saved his life was to agree to father a child with Sir MacQueen's wife. . .Lady Annys. Now the passion he still feels for the lovely strong-willed widow is as all-consuming and perilous as securing her lands. But to convince her that his love is forever real means confronting her most wrenching fears—and putting everything they treasure most at stake.

Annys MacQueen’s husband has died. Now she has kinsman who are trying to take her estate and lands away from her, stating that her son is not really a MacQueen. Annys doesn’t want to lose her lands, but they’re actually correct in believing that the child was not the laird’s. The Laird had actually contacted Harcourt Murray to come and father a child with his wife, since he was incapable of fathering children.

While Annys and Harcourt were together getting her pregnant, Annys fell for Harcourt. She loved her husband, but she was in love with Harcourt.  Harcourt has never forgotten Annys and thinks of her often. He would’ve liked nothing more than to stay with her forever, but he was only there for duty and to repay Laird MacQueen for saving his life. When Annys calls for him to help her save her lands, Harcourt is unprepared for the love he feels for both Annys and the child he fathered. Benet is adorable, amazing, precocious and just all-around wonderful and he never wants to be without them.

I ended up listening to this in audiobook. I very much enjoyed Angela Dawe as narrator and enjoyed the story immensely. I thought that Howell did a very good job in bringing these two people together, and I enjoyed their romance.

I thought I would have more of an issue with this one then I actually did. I don’t like infidelity in books, but for some reason this just worked for me.

While Hannah Howell’s Murray books are all very similar, this one stood out a little bit and I very much enjoyed it.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Murray Family

four-stars


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Review: Alpha’s Promise by Rebecca Zanetti

Posted July 8, 2019 by Casee in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Alpha’s Promise by Rebecca ZanettiReviewer: Casee
Alpha's Promise by Rebecca Zanetti
Series: Dark Protectors #10
Also in this series: Marked (Dark Protectors, #7), Fated (Dark Protectors, #1), Claimed (Dark Protectors, #2), Hunted (Dark Protectors, #3), Consumed (Dark Protectors, #4), Provoked (Dark Protectors, #5), Marked (Dark Protectors, #7), Shadowed (Dark Protectors, #6), Vampire's Faith (Dark Protectors, #8), Demon's Mercy (Dark Protectors, #9)
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Publication Date: June 25, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Pages: 345
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

To hell and back . . . Though he has vampire, demon, and Viking blood rushing through his veins, Ivar Kjeidsen’s soul-crushing trip to hell broke him in ways he can barely fathom.  One vow keeps the deadly immortal standing: To rescue the vampire brother who had sacrificed freedom for him.  To do that, Ivar needs the help of a brilliant physicist with wary brown eyes, fierce brilliance, and skin that's way too soft.

Dr. Promise Williams understands the underpinnings of the universe but has never figured out the human beings inhabiting it.   Her function is to think—and not feel—until she’s touched by a vampire who’s nowhere near human. The primal hunger in his eyes awakens feelings in her that defy calculation. As she shows him the way to step between worlds, he brands her with a pleasure that could last more than a lifetime . . .

Vampire’s Faith (Dark Protectors #8) starts the Dark Protectors series on a new arc. It brings the us the Seven. Seven warriors who scarified everything to protect the world from a religious sect of the Kurjan vampires. If their leader is free from the bubble world that they trapped him in, enhanced females all over the world can be killed. As it stands Quade, the leader of the Seven is in his own bubble world, which is balancing out the other world. But his world is about to fail.

Ivar Kjeidsen went through hell in Demon’s Mercy. Thrown through a portal, he went through a thousand years of hell in only a few weeks on earth. By the time he made it back to his brothers, he knew only one thing. He had to free Quade even if it meant taking his place. To do this, he would do whatever it took. Even kidnapping Dr. Promise Williams.

Someone has been killing Promise’s female colleagues. So when a man bursts into her car with a gun, she does what any sane woman would do. She guns the engine and runs into a police car, sending the kidnapper through the windshield. Unfortunately, he gets away. Promise has no idea what she’s gotten herself into, but she’s all about work and figures it was a fluke. Seriously, a fluke.

I really had a hard time with Promise with most of the book. She was a really hard character to connect with at first. She was all about logic and what would be best for science. She wanted to mate with Ivar because she wanted to be immortal. If she was immortal she would be able to study science forever and ever amen. Who thinks like that?

Luckily for Promise (and me), Ivar is far from logical. In fact, he’s all alpha all the way. He rips Promise out of her scientific bubble and shows her what the real world is like. When Promise is in Ivar’s world, the science looks different. Ivar is certain that she can help him get to Quade. But will she?

I ended up liking Promise by the end of the book. She ended up being good enough for Ivar, but it was a long time in coming. At first Ivar came off as a martyr, wanting to change places with Quade. That wasn’t it. Ivar is convinced that their war with the Kurjans needs Quade leading the Seven. Now they just have to find out how to get him out. It’s a good thing that Quade’s book is next.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5.

Dark Protectors

four-stars


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