Publisher: Kensington

Guest Review: So Bad It Must Be Good by Nicole Helm

Posted August 17, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: So Bad It Must Be Good by Nicole HelmReviewer: Tracy
So Bad It Must Be Good by Nicole Helm
Published by Kensington Publishing Corp., Lyrical Press
Publication Date: August 22nd 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
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three-half-stars

Wrong guy. Wrong situation. Might be right.

Free of her overbearing family and their dreams, not hers, Kayla Gallagher is living for herself instead of for her clan's successful restaurant. Step One: finally make her move on Aiden Patrick, the bad-boy son of Gallagher's long-time repairman. Too bad Aidan’s taciturn older brother shows up instead . . .

As the “responsible Patrick,” Liam has always made a conscious choice to do the right thing. He likes fixing things for people—whether it be a broken appliance or a bad situation. Which means he can’t just brush off the quiet Gallagher. Clearly, she needs a shoulder to lean on. But suddenly a shoulder becomes so much more, and Kayla isn’t the quiet little girl she used to be. She’s a vivid, down-for-anything woman showing Liam several sizzling ways to put passion first . . .

As things heat up between them, Liam’s family threatens to come apart for good. The only way Liam can set things right means giving up Kayla. But she’s not about to take no for an answer—or let their chance for something sweeter than desire crash-and burn without a fight.

Kayla has always worked for her family but she decided she’d been treated badly one too many times and quit.  Unfortunately she’d not really done anything since then.  She sees her old crush Aiden Patrick one day and he’s excited to see her.  Aiden asks Kayla out but when it comes time for the date Aiden isn’t around – is supposedly dealing with something – and asks his stoic brother, Liam, to go tell Kayla that he can’t make it.

Liam heads to the bar and ends up talking to Kayla (who’s pissed about Aiden) and even though they don’t touch each other that night they eventually start a relationship.  They’re so good together but Aiden is pissed at his brother for taking “his girl” and complains to mommy – who asks Liam to give Kayla up to keep the peace in the family.  Liam has to decide if he will go with his family’s wishes or stay with the woman he loves.

This was a pretty cute book.  It seemed to be a pretty fast read as Liam and Kayla get together and things move along at a pretty fast clip.  I liked Liam and Kayla together so reading their romance was a treat.

I hated the way that Liam’s family treated him – mostly his mother and brother.  Kayla hated it too and it was really the only thing they got into arguments about.  When Liam’s mom asks Liam to give her up because of Aiden, I was madder than a hornet! What mother does that?  Ugh!

Anyway, the romance was cute and I liked the characters in the story.  It was a pleasant read and I definitely liked it better than book one in this series.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Guest Review: Lord of the Seas by Sabrina Jarema

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

Guest Review: Lord of the Seas by Sabrina JaremaReviewer: Tracy
Lord of the Seas by Sabrina Jarema
Series: Viking Lords #3
Also in this series: Lord of the Runes
Published by Lyrical Press
Publication Date: August 8th 2017
Genres: Fantasy
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four-stars

He stood with the other men, glittering with the gold jewelry he’d had her polish, and wearing the fine clothing she’d cleaned and laid out for him. He’d washed with the water she’d drawn and would sit down to a meal she’d serve him.

Yet here she was, watching him. And she would fall under his spell a little more, like so many other women had.

She’d thought to hate him, and perhaps she did. Her mother had once said she hated Edward for being so handsome, and desirable, and unattainable. Yet, she’d also said she loved him. The two weren’t so different when love went unanswered. Perhaps she was more like her mother than she realized.

Her mother might have pined her life away, but she wouldn’t. She’d keep fighting and weaving until she was free of Rorik forever. They said the Norns, as well as the Valkyries, wove men’s fates in their magical looms. Her loom wasn’t magical and she was no Valkyrie, so let them tangle the destinies of men in the threads of the wyrd.

She would weave her own fate.

Elfwynn is the bastard daughter of a Northumbrian Lord.  Her father has shown her in every way he can that he loves her – even acknowledging her birth which will give her a third of his estate should he die.  His wife is a complete bitch and hates Elfwynn because she wants her two kids to inherit everything and wants Elfwynn to get nothing.

Elfwynn’s father, Edward, is almost attacked by Rorik but tried to talk with him and make a deal/payment rather than be raided.  In the midst of their talks one of Rorik’s ships is set on fire.  As repayment for burning his ship Rorik seeks to get payment by kidnapping one of Edward’s daughters. Rorik takes Elfwynn but when a ransom demand is sent, the reply comes back that she’s a bastard and not worth Edward paying for her.  Elfwynn is devastated at the betrayal and Rorik is a bit shocked.  He has no choice but to take her with him when his crew returns home.  Elfwynn tells Rorik that the Northumbrian churches pay for hostages and that he should take her to a town where that could happen. He plans to, but he needs to get home first to deal with things there.

Elfwynn is treated as a guest in Vargfjell, Rorik’s home.  The people are nicer to her there than they are at home and as much as she wants to go home she actually likes it there.  She is surprised that all of the stories that she heard of the Norse were almost all wrong.

Rorik is both frustrated by and attracted to Elfwynn and her smart mouth.  He finds peace in her presence but knows that he can’t keep her forever.  He is not a man to settle down anyway so that thought should be ridiculous, right?  Of course, as they spend more time in each other’s company they start to have stronger feelings for each other and fall in love.  Elfwynn still wants to go home, however, and Rorik’s not sure how to take that.  With their people fighting each other and their different religious beliefs could they ever be together?

When I read books one and two in the Viking Lords series I didn’t care for Rorik all that much.  He seemed like an ok guy but when they talked of his raiding and his many women he seemed like a bit of a bastard.  I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book and I can say I was pleasantly surprised.

Rorik is a guy who isn’t a king or a jarl but acts the part.  He doesn’t want a title – he just takes care of his people with his wealth.  He thinks he doesn’t want the responsibility because his father abused his power before he died.  He has temper issues and knows that he could never have just one woman as he might pass on his temper as well as his father’s craziness.  Elfwynn helps him see that his father was just a bastard and Rorik’s anger at it all was situational – not genetic.  This helps Rorik deal with his issues and makes him see his future in a whole new light.  I loved that Elfwynn could be the one that shined the light on his past.  He needed that and because it was her it brought the two closer together.

Elfwynn was a great character.  I loved her strength and perseverance with both her mother/father issues and her dealings with Rorik.  She wasn’t about to be bossed around by him and I loved that she stood up to him time and time again.  She was tough while still being soft and feminine and it was a great combination.

The series so far has been great and I’m happy to say that I really liked Rorik by the end of this book – shocker! Lol  If you like books about Vikings this is a great series to read.

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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Guest Review: To Seduce a Stranger by Susanna Craig

Posted April 14, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: To Seduce a Stranger by Susanna CraigReviewer: Tracy
To Seduce a Stranger by Susanna Craig
Series: Runaway Desires #3
Published by Kensington, Lyrical Press
Publication Date: April 11th 2017
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three-half-stars

After her much older husband dies-leaving her his fortune-Charlotte Blakemore finds herself at the mercy of her stepson, who vows to contest the will and destroy her life. With nowhere to turn and no one to help her, she embarks on an elaborate ruse-only to find herself stranded on the way to London. . .

More than twenty years in the West Indies have hardened Edward Cary, but not enough to abandon a helpless woman at a roadside inn-especially one as disarmingly beautiful as Charlotte. He takes her with him to the Gloucestershire estate he is determined to restore, though he is suspicious of every word that falls from her distractingly lush lips.

As far as Charlotte knows, Edward is nothing more than a steward, and there's no reason to reveal his noble birth until he can right his father's wrongs. Acting as husband and wife will keep people in the village from asking questions that neither Charlotte nor Edward are willing to answer. But the game they're each determined to play has rules that beg to broken, when the passion between them threatens to uncover the truth-for better or worse. . .

Charlotte has spent her life feeling unloved.  She was taken as a baby to her uncle’s house because her mother died and her father took off to parts unknown.  Since she was illegitimate they treated her as the hired help instead of family.  When things started heating up in France (her mother was French, her father an English Earl) she left and stayed with her father’s family in England.  They treated her horribly as well.  When an elderly Duke who was friends with her aunt offers for her she accepts and thinks that maybe she’ll now get the love that she’s been missing.  Unfortunately he doesn’t touch her physically and then dies 6 weeks later.

The will is read and Charlotte receives a huge portion of the Duke’s estate but his son, the new Duke, plans on proving that his father was crazy and getting the will overturned. Charlotte and her maid take off for London to stay in the house that was left to her but Charlotte believes she’s being followed by one of the Duke’s men so she trades places with her maid and stays behind at an inn.  Unfortunately she grabbed the wrong valise and the money she had stashed away is now with her maid.  Fortunately for her a kind man offers to take her with him to his family estate.

Edward Cary is the son of an Earl but his father is a monster.  He beats Edwards mother regularly and Edward would do anything to save her.  When he hears that she’s waiting to leave until Edward is in school he decides at the ripe old age of 9 to runaway so she can get away sooner.  He heads off and takes a job on a ship.  He returns to confront his father 22 years later but runs into Charlotte on his way back.

When Edward and Charlotte reach his family seat he finds it empty and in horrible condition.  He hears his mother died not long after he left home and his father went to London and never returned.  Edward introduces Charlotte as his wife to the “caretaker” of the property which puts them into an awkward position.  It also causes problems when a man claiming to be the new Earl (Edwards father apparently passed) shows up and recognizes Charlotte for the Duchess she is.  Both Charlotte and Edward need to come to terms with who they are and confront those who would keep them from claiming their titles.

To Seduce a Stranger was a good story.  I liked both Edward and Charlotte and while they each had their own issues, they were truly good people.  Charlotte had confidence in herself in some aspects of her life but she’s been told she wasn’t worthy of love and she believed it.  Coming to terms with the fact that she could receive that love from Edward took her a while but she finally saw it for what it was.

Edward had had a horrible life to a point but then a good one after that.  He’d seen horrors both at home and while on the ship but he’d survived and made a good life for himself in the West Indies.  I had to give the guy props, he’d not only done well but tried to help with the slave issue as well.  Just a good guy.  I liked that while Edward helped Charlotte he didn’t completely trust her right off the bat because A) she was someone who needed help and b) she was a woman. Charlotte knew that Edward was keeping secrets as well but she trusted him too quickly imho.  Edward was a smart man and I liked his character.

The book was a good one but was a bit crowded with characters.  There were so many supporting characters that it was hard to keep up.  There were also people who were mentioned or showed up, I assume from previous books in the series, that I was unfamiliar with.  I think the author assumed the reader had read those books so plopped their names in.  Despite that this was a decent standalone novel.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Guest Review: The Unyielding by Shelly Laurenston

Posted March 30, 2017 by Jen in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: The Unyielding by Shelly LaurenstonReviewer: Jen
The Unyielding by Shelly Laurenston
Series: Call of Crows #3
Also in this series: The Undoing
Published by Kensington
Publication Date: March 28th 2017
Pages: 400
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four-stars

Stieg Engstrom, Angriest Viking Ever, has got big problems. The human Viking Clans of earth are in danger of being obliterated—along with the rest of the world—and the only one who may be able to save them is a super pain-in-the-ass Crow. Most people annoy Stieg, but this is the one woman he really can’t stand…

Erin Amsel loves being a Crow! Why wouldn’t she when the other Viking Clans are so hilariously arrogant and humorless? She’s not about to let all that come to an end! She just didn’t expect to be shoulder to shoulder in battle with Stieg. Then again, he’s so easy to torment—and also kind of cute.

With the future of the world riding on them, Stieg knows he’ll have to put aside his desperate need to kiss the smirk right off Erin’s face. Wait. What? He didn’t mean that—did he? No! They have one goal: To conquer the idiots. Because nothing bugs Stieg more than when idiots win. If only he can keep himself from suddenly acting like one….

Another Call of Crows book, and another review from me gushing about how much I love this series!

We finally get Erin Amsel’s book! For those who’ve haven’t been reading along I won’t waste time with too much summary, but the very abbreviated version is that the Viking Clans, who are each in service to a different Nordic god/goddess, have to work together to stop the rogue goddess Gullveig from bringing about Ragnarok (the Viking end of the world). It turns out that the only one who even might be able to stop her is Erin, and she has to go on a quest to get the tools she needs to do it. She’s aided by Stieg Engstrom, a grumpy, fierce Viking who REALLY doesn’t like Erin (or at least that’s what he thinks). Erin and Stieg have to journey to the very edge of hell while the Crows and the rest of the Clans have to prepare for a battle to save the world.

Erin, as we are repeatedly told by literally everyone in this series including Erin herself, is a dick. She loves to stir the pot, never hesitates to speak her mind, and has basically little filter between her brain and her mouth. She isn’t  exactly malicious, but nor does she particularly care if what she says or does hurts anyone’s feelings. It has ensured nearly every other Clan can’t stand Erin, and even her Sister Crows want to murder her more often than not. (Don’t be alarmed though–pretty much everyone wants to, or explicitly tries to, murder someone else in these books at some point! These are violent, crazy fairytales!) I have totally enjoyed Erin right from the start, and it was great to see her own story. She is just so damn hilarious.

The things that I loved about the first two books in the series were what I loved most about this one, too. First and foremost, the female friendships are SO AWESOME. These women have each other’s backs no matter what. I especially liked that it’s clear by this book that the three heroines of the series (Kera, Jace, and Erin) have a particular bond, and watching them try to protect and support each other was so great. I also love the Norse mythology of the series. Probably my favorite is when we get to “meet” the gods and goddesses, like Odin and Tyr. They are so self-absorbed and ridiculous–Laurenston has taken all the outrageous behaviors from the myths and imagined the kind of being that would do such things. It is a total riot and so clever. The secondary cast of characters is also pretty amazing and add so much richness and comedy to the story.

And yet…there were a few things that bothered me. First, I wanted to learn a bit more about Erin. I wanted to know WHY she’s such a dick. We hear a little about her family and her death, but there’s just not much explanation. I know, it’s probably unfair of me to start wishing for more depth, because that’s not what this series is about. I just found Erin so fascinating and fun that it was hard not to want more. I also didn’t really understand Stieg. Frankly he was kind of forgettable even in the earlier books, and I still felt that way about him by the end of this one. Erin does certainly soften towards him in her own Erin-way, but I wanted a touch more to the romance, even though I know that’s not really what these books do.

Despite wanting a bit more from this book, I still had an amazingly good time reading it. It is funny, clever, and exciting, and I never regret spending time in the world of the Crows.

Grade: 4 out of 5

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

four-stars


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Guest Review: No Other Highlander by Adrienne Basso

Posted March 2, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: No Other Highlander by Adrienne BassoReviewer: Tracy
No Other Highlander by Adrienne Basso
Series: The McKennas #2
Published by Zebra
Publication Date: February 28th 2017
Pages: 368
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three-half-stars

Scottish Highlands, 1334: The McKenna clan flourishes under a family of warriors, fierce and righteous, faithful to their own until the last. But to produce an heir, the widowed eldest son must risk his heart again . . .

Lady Joan Armstrong Fraser was once the indulged and pampered daughter of a laird. But marriage to a brute changed her. When he sets her aside, she has only her wits and her beauty to protect herself and her child from the chaos of her former home. She will have to find another husband—a man whose strength is more than a weapon against the weak. A man she can trust . . . if such a man even breathes.

Sir Malcolm McKenna has known Lady Joan since her childhood, a spoiled princess as dangerous as she is lovely. But when she steps forward to protect him against a false accusation, he discovers a character stronger than he guessed—and an attraction he yearns to explore . . .

Malcolm McKenna has been accused of devirginizing a woman, promising her marriage and then disappearing.  The woman is the daughter of the McPhearson laird and he’s so mad now that his daughter has given birth that he’s put a price on Malcolm’s head. When Malcolm hears about this he’s shocked! Though he was drunk during the fete that this liaison supposedly took place, he thinks he’d remember deflowering a woman!  Malcolm’s father, Laird McKenna, decides to meet with the McPhearson to work out the issue.  They decide to meet on Armstrong territory as it’s neutral territory.

Joan Armstrong is a woman who married a monster. He was brutal and abused her both verbally and physically.  He finally put her aside and got an annulment stating that she was insane.  She doesn’t like the stigma of insanity but she’s certainly happy to be out from under his thumb.  Unfortunately coming home with her two-year-old son isn’t a happy reunion.  Her father doesn’t want her there because of the embarrassment Joan has brought to him and the family/clan.  She tries to do all she can to help but it’s never enough for her father.  She knows she’ll never remarry so what will she do if her father does remarry – she’ll no longer be needed.  When the McPhearson’s and the McKenna’s show up Joan is happy to look after them but being on the outside of the discussion she sees what no one else does – that Malcolm’s truly wrongly accused.  When the truth comes out the McPhearson wants Malcolm to marry his daughter anyway but in a stroke of inspiration Malcolm states he’s already engaged to Joan.

To say that Joan’s not happy about Malcolm’s declaration is an understatement but Malcolm is attracted to her and knows that he can care for her and her son.  He finally talks her into agreeing and they head off to McKenna lands.  Joan has agreed to marry Malcolm but will she ever be able to trust a man again and open her heart.

This was a great story.  I loved Joan and the love she had for her son.  She’d had such a bad marriage and she truly deserved happiness but she never thought it would come to her in yet another marriage.  I loved how Malcolm slowly brought her out of her shell and was so patient with her.  He knew that she’d had a rough go of it with her previous husband and though he wanted to bed her he took things slow and easy with her.  He was a good man through and through and he made a great hero.  Once Joan opened up a bit we got to see that she was a good woman as well.  I thought that the pair were perfect together and was so happy when everything worked out.

Besides Joan’s husband and his dastardly deeds during one portion of the book there really wasn’t a villain involved in No Other Highlander.  I really enjoyed the story being relationship driven and not having to worry about a whodunit as well.  The book was fun and funny as well as touching and emotional which to me was a good mix.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

three-half-stars


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