Publisher: Pocket Star

Review: All I Ever Wanted by Luann McLane

Posted August 14, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: All I Ever Wanted by Luann McLaneReviewer: Holly
All I Ever Wanted (Heartthrob #1) by LuAnn McLane
Series: Heartthrob #1
Published by Pocket Star
Publication Date: July 24th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 288
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two-half-stars

From author LuAnn McLane comes the first in a brand new series featuring the sexy Heart brothers: formerly the members of the cult-phenomenon boy band Heartbeat, they’re all grown up and back together for one last reunion tour….

When Grady Heart, former lead singer of the cult-phenomenon boy band Heartbeat and eldest of the brothers, decides to bring the group back together for a highly anticipated reunion concert, he doesn’t expect to be met with so much resistance from his brothers. He also doesn’t expect them to hire his ex-girlfriend and ex-Heartbeat choreographer Arabella York to help the band rock some new dance moves.

Back in Heartbeat’s glory days the brooding bad boy fell hard for Arabella; the studious, stable dance teacher tamed Grady’s wild side but her lack of trust in him eventually drove them apart. Although their chemistry burns hotter than ever, Grady tries to keep his relationship with Arabella strictly professional this time around but in his heart, he might just still long to find out what could have been.

Grady Heart and his brothers were a wildly popular teen boy band. They quit performing when their mother got sick. Now that she’s gone, Grady is organizing a benefit reunion concert in her memory. All his brothers are on board, but there’s a problem…the slick dance moves they used as teens just aren’t possible now that they’re adults. Grady wants everything to be perfect since this is such an important cause. Even so, when his brothers suggest they contact their old choreographer, Arabella, Grady refuses. She broke his heart once. He isn’t willing to give her a second chance. Too bad for him, his brothers go behind his back and call her. Faced with the prospect of spending time with the woman who disappeared without backward glance, Grady admits he still isn’t over her. But he’s not going to give her his heart again.

Arabella is in a financial pickle. She opened a string of successful fitness studios, but she got in over her head and expanded too quickly. Now she either needs a serious infusion of cash or she’s going to be forced to take on a demanding partner who wants to rebrand her entire operation. But facing bad boy Grady Heart again after he ruined her for love isn’t high on her list of fun things to do. Still, she doesn’t have much choice if she wants to save her studios. Now she just needs to keep a calm head around Grady. There’s no way she’s going to risk falling for him again. She learned the hard way the rockstar life is not for her.

I really struggled with this book. I like rock star romances and figured a light boy band second chance love story was right up my alley. Sadly the brothers seemed to suffer from Peter Pan Syndrome. Despite all being in their late 20’s-early 30’s, they still acted like teenagers. The heroine was just as bad. Between her refusal to talk things out like an adult and the way she ran every time something got hard, I had a hard time buying that she was an adult with a successful string of dance studios under her.

I really believed Grady cared for her, but I wasn’t as convinced of Arabella’s feelings. She was closed off and ran at the first sign of trouble or drama. Because she didn’t stick with him, despite her saying she loved Grady, I didn’t buy it.

The premise was good, and I enjoyed some of it. I may continue on with the series.

2.75 out of 5

two-half-stars


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Guest Lightning Review: Miss Goodhue Lives for a Night by Kate Noble

Posted September 22, 2016 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Lightning Review: Miss Goodhue Lives for a Night by Kate NobleReviewer: Tracy
Miss Goodhue Lives for a Night by Kate Noble
Series: Winner Takes All #2.5
Also in this series: The Dare and the Doctor
Published by Pocket Star
Publication Date: September 19th 2016
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three-half-stars

Cecilia Goodhue is a schoolteacher with a past, living with her sister and her husband in a tiny English village. Resigned to a quiet life, Cecilia is surprised when she finds out that her young cousin has run off with a man of no means.

Cecilia had once been a teenaged girl who also fell for a young man’s charms—only to be devastated by his betrayal. Determined to not let her cousin meet the same fate, she heads off to London to but is shocked when her investigation leads her right to the front door of the very man who broke her heart: Theo Hudson.

Together, they reluctantly embark on finding her cousin and returning her to her family. During their searching in London, it soon becomes clear that they both remember their short-lived romance differently and perhaps now, years later, they have a fresh chance at love.

There’s not much to say about the premise of the story as the blurb says it so well.  This was a cute story though. There wasn’t a lot of angst, there wasn’t a lot of drama and it was a sweet reunion story.  Once Cecilia and Theo had figured out that they’d been lied to by their fathers ten years earlier about why the other wanted to marry them, all was well.

Parts of the story were pretty funny and I enjoyed laughing throughout the book.  I haven’t read books 1 & 2 in this series but I didn’t feel that I needed to in order to enjoy this novella.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Review: From this Day Forward by Lauren Layne

Posted June 7, 2016 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: From this Day Forward by Lauren LayneReviewer: Rowena
From This Day Forward (Wedding Belles #0.5) by Lauren Layne
Series: Wedding Belles #0.5
Also in this series: To Have and to Hold (Wedding Belles #1), For Better or Worse (Wedding Belles #2), To Love and to Cherish (Wedding Belles #3)
Published by Simon & Schuster, Pocket Star
Publication Date: June 6th 2016
Pages: 128
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Sex and the City meets The Wedding Planner in this prequel to USA TODAY bestselling author Lauren Layne’s The Wedding Belles series about three high-powered New York City women who can plan any wedding—but their own.

Up-and-coming wedding photographer Leah McHale’s career is on the rise–thanks in no small part to the Wedding Belles, the elite New York wedding planning agency that always throws top-tier business Leah’s way. So when one of the Belles asks Leah to fill in at the former First Daughter's wedding, Leah is overjoyed to say yes–until she finds out who she’ll be working with.

Jason Rhodes is the one man who was able to capture Leah’s heart and, once he had it, promptly stepped all over it and left her broken. Now he’s working side-by-side with her at the biggest wedding of the season and Leah is determined to give him the cold shoulder. Despite his persistence, she is not going to fall for his charming, impish ways again. Not even if he still has that killer, irresistible smile...

This was a quick but enjoyable romance that set up the Wedding Belles series pretty darned well. For such a short story, I didn’t feel like Jason and Leah were robbed of a full length novel. Their story was short but sweet and I’m looking forward to more from these characters.

Jason Rhodes and Leah McHale had a thing good thing going last year but when Leah shows up at Jason’s house and a woman answers the door wearing the shirt that Leah bought for Jason, she bolts because she aint no fool and Jason is obviously cheating on her!

Jason tries to explain but Leah doesn’t want to hear it. There’s nothing he can say that will change what she saw with her own eyes so Leah dodges his phone calls, his messages and she tries to move on with her life but when they’re thrown together on a work project, Leah can’t avoid him. Jason still wants Leah as much as he’s always wanted her but he’s pissed at her for bolting without hearing him out. He thought they had a good thing going but she wouldn’t even let him explain anything and he’s tired of being the guy that everyone suspects of all bad things first.

I thought Jason did a great job of winning Leah back and even though I was a little peeved at Leah for not even trying to hear him out (for over a year!), the way that they came together was sweet and for such a short romance, the romance was just as steamy as if this was a full length story. It was a delightful introduction to a series that I’m looking forward to. I recommend!

Grade: 4 out of 5


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Review: Saving Grace by Kristen Proby

Posted January 6, 2016 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Saving Grace by Kristen ProbyReviewer: Rowena
Saving Grace by Kristen Proby
Published by Pocket Star
Publication Date: November 30, 2015
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two-half-stars

Sparks fly like snowflakes when a klutzy but gorgeous novice crosses skis with a hot resort owner in this tempting tie-in to New York Times bestselling author Kristen Proby’s popular Love Under the Big Sky series!

Grace Douglas is on a practice run for her friend Cara Donovan’s bachelorette party ski weekend in Aspen. The problem is, despite living in rugged and picturesque Cunningham Falls, Montana, Grace is the clumsiest person ever born. To prepare for the trip, she is taking lessons at a local ski resort. She just prays that they have an ambulance on standby.

Sexy hotelier Jacob Berkley is ready to play ski instructor, but he quickly discovers that the best place on the mountain for Grace is in the lodge with a hot toddy. Her sense of humor and easy laugh quickly pull him in, and soon he’s determined to help her get off the bunny slope for a fun vacation with her friends. He just didn’t expect their steamy chemistry to trigger an avalanche of desire straight to his heart.

This was a short contemporary romance that didn’t take me very long to dig in to.

The story starts out with the heroine and a bunch of her friends are hanging out and her friends have gotten the klutzy heroine some ski lessons at the local resort so that she can learn how to ski from a professional before they turn her loose in Aspen for one of their bachelorette weekend away.

So our heroine, Grace heads up the mountain for her weekend ski lessons and is really impressed with her ski instructor. He’s hot, he’s got good hands and he’s really helping her get a hold on this skiing business. She’s just about ready for that trip to Aspen.

When Bax asks her out to dinner, Grace is hesitant because she really shouldn’t but he’s sexy and he’s mighty interested in her so she caves because….why not?

Bax is intrigued with the girl who mistakes him for her ski instructor. Right from the very beginning, he’s interested in everything about this girl so when he asks her out and she turns him down, he’s bummed. But she changes her mind and Bax realizes that he doesn’t want to stop seeing this girl so he ups the charm.

I’m not really sure where to begin with this review. I mean, I liked it but I didn’t love it. I’m not sure if I couldn’t connect with both Grace and Bax because there wasn’t enough page time to do it or what but for some reason, Grace’s clumsiness and her sassy personality made me roll my eyes and then there was Bax. He’s a super rich guy who owns the resort and some hot to trot lady comes up and he’s so taken with her that he immediately wants in…on everything.

Things just happened so fast and the cheese came on so strong with this story that I spent pretty much the entire book rolling my eyes. I just didn’t buy the instant romance, the clumsy/sassy heroine didn’t do it for me and while it wasn’t a bad premise, I feel like this book would have been so much better with a longer story. Everything was too wham, bam, thank you ma’am for me.

Grade: 2.5 out of 5

two-half-stars


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Joint Review: Kill and Tell by Linda Howard

Posted December 7, 2015 by Holly in Reviews | 3 Comments

Joint Review: Kill and Tell by Linda HowardReviewer: Holly and Rowena
Kill and Tell by Linda Howard
Series: CIA Spies #1
Published by Pocket Star
Publication Date: October 1st 2003
Pages: 320
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three-stars

Romantic suspense superstar Linda Howard’s seductive New York Times bestseller “meshes hot sex, emotional impact, and gripping tension” (Publishers Weekly) into a sizzling, heart-pounding thriller!

Still reeling from her mother’s recent death, Karen Whitlaw is stunned when she receives a package containing a mysterious notebook from her estranged father, whom she has barely seen since his return from the Vietnam War decades ago. Then, a shocking phone call: Karen’s father has been murdered on the gritty streets of New Orleans.

For homicide detective Marc Chastain, something about the case of a murdered homeless man just doesn’t add up—especially after he meets the victim’s daughter. Far from the cold woman he expected, Karen Whitlaw is warm and passionate. She is also in serious danger. A string of “accidents” have shaken Karen to the core and forced her into the protective embrace of the charming detective she vowed to resist.

Together they unravel a disturbing story of politics, power, and murder—and face a killer who will stop at nothing to get his hands on her father’s secrets.

Holly: Linda Howard is a master at making implausible scenarios work. Her books should be ridiculous, considering the far-fetched plots, but instead they’re engrossing and exciting. This book has a lot of controversy surrounding it based on the actions of the hero. Unfortunately for me, the implausibility wasn’t as easily overlooked here as in some of her other works.

Karen is a nurse who lost her mom within the last year and just got a call that her estranged father is dead. She hasn’t seen him in years and has very few happy feelings about him, but still. He was her father and needs to be taken care of. She flies to New Orleans to identify the body and make final arrangements.

Marc Chastain is the detective in charge of her father’s case. He’s made some assumptions about her based on the way she first reacted to the news of her father’s passing, her actions since she arrived in town and the fact that her father was living on the streets at the time of his death. Marc firmly believes the old and mentally ill should be cared for by their families, not abandoned. His assumptions about Karen and her actions cause him to act very reserved toward her at first. He’s polite, but she easily senses his dislike for her.

The problem is, Karen isn’t at all what Marc assumed. He quickly realizes that, but the damage is done…she sensed his dislike and has been subconsciously reacting to it. In order to make headway with her before she goes back to her life, he pushes her faster than he normally would have, trying to tie her to him before she leaves the state.

What did you think of the set-up? Karen getting called to New Orleans to deal with her father’s body and Marc’s reaction to her?

Rowena: It’s been a long time since I read this book and one thing that jumped out at me at every turn in this last re-read was how fast everything happened. From the time Karen’s dad died to the time Karen lands in New Orleans, meets Detective Chastain and the both of them fall in love with each other, it was a matter of days. It was a lot harder for me to swallow this time around but I’m not going to lie, I still liked the story as a whole. Haha, I’m weird.

Holly: That’s the thing about Howard. If I think about the plot and creepy hero behavior too much, I know it wasn’t okay. They fell in love in a matter of days and she moved her whole life to be with him? He decided within hours of meeting her that she was the only one for him and moved heaven and earth to tie him to her? CREEPY. And yet..it works. It totally works.

Rowena: You’re right. ​The first time that I read this book, I didn’t bother with the details much. I was swept up in the romance of it all. Falling in love with someone in such a short time seemed romantic but I don’t know, this time around I picked up on things I hadn’t before…and I’m kind of bummed about that. Because if you let yourself get bogged down in the details, the romance that you were swept up in falls flat on its face.

Do we even want to get into the little detail with Chastain and the condom? How about the Criminal Minds unsub thought processes that Chastain had while falling in love with Karen? Or Karen’s decision to move her entire life from Ohio to Louisiana for a man that she fell in love with in a matter of days? The same guy with the condom.

Let’s do it. Let’s get down in the details. Let’s talk about all of those details. Where do you want to start?

Holly: With the condom, of course. Let me sum up:

Chastain realizes there’s more to Karen than he originally thought and decides he wants her. Not just for sex, but …for always? So after her father’s funeral he invites her back to his place for dinner. They settle on the terrace with sandwiches and cookies after he changes into jeans and she takes her hose off.

After some time (does it say how long in the book?) he puts on some music and asks her to dance. ..then dances her right into his bedroom and he bones her.

Not that big a deal except for 1) she was clearly in a vulnerable place having just buried her father and 2) he didn’t pause to put a condom on. Why? BECAUSE HE WAS ALREADY WEARING ONE. When he changed into jeans he put one on…and kept it on the whole time they were on the terrace (which later he throws out as proof of how much he wanted her).

What kind of a creeper lures a grief-stricken woman from a different state back to his place and then puts a condom on hours(?) before getting her into bed? That’s some serious premeditation right there.

Rowena: I don’t think they say how much time passes but dude, it was a while. He sat there through their food, their conversation, their drinks and then danced with her and the whole freaking time, he was WEARING A CONDOM!!!! How did that shit not tear? He wasn’t wearing basketball shorts or loose fitted pants, he was wearing FREAKING JEANS!!!

I mean the creep factor is pretty high that even Karen took notice of it. The premeditation of the whole thing (See? That Criminal Minds unsub mentality) made me squirm and not in a good way. I don’t think I would have had the same reaction as Karen.

What about you? Would you have slept with him after you found out that he was wearing the condom the whole time? How many of us would have actually done it?

Holly: Well, to be fair (and if I remember correctly), she didn’t realize about the condom until after she’d slept with him. Right? She was so caught up in the moment it wasn’t until the next morning she realized what he’d done. .and she hightailed it out of there as soon as she could sneak away. Then she goes back only because someone is trying to kill her and she knows he’s the only one who can help.

I can see why she went back. I can even see why she thought she was in love with him. But it was under such intense circumstances and over such a shirt period of time, I don’t know that I believe it’s Wuv, Twu Wuv forever and ever amen.

Rowena: Oh yeah, you’re right. She was caught up in the moment and then she fled. And then she went back. Maybe that’s why I’m still single because I wouldn’t have gone back. I would have freaked myself out over him wearing that condom the whole night and cut my losses and probably would have died at the hands of the guys that killed my Dad and were trying to kill me. I would have been like, “Peace out, world” because….eww.

Holly: Same. I can get swept up in the romanticism of the moment while reading, but in real life? Dude was a creeper, straight up.

Which is why Karen’s decision to move her whole life there was so hard to take. Going to Marc when people were trying to kill her? Okay. It was an extreme situation. Her options were limited and she didn’t feel like she had anywhere else to go. But to stay afterward? Forever? When they’d only known each other a matter of days? Erm…

Rowena: Yeah, I don’t buy it.

I can see her going to Marc for protection. That made sense because he has the experience to keep her safe but the whole moving her entire world to Louisiana with condom dude, I don’t care how hot he was…that doesn’t make sense.

I guess it was hard for me to accept Karen’s decision to move in with Marc so soon because I couldn’t help but think that he was such a weirdo with the way he thought about things. So clinical and precise and…low key deadly. Reading his POV of the things as they’re happening really did remind me of being in the head of the killer in an episode of Criminal Minds.

So why the hell did I like this book, even after all of that? Maybe I’m the weirdo. LOL.

Holly: Well, that’s the thing. That’s what makes Howard such a fantastic author. Because in the moment, it totally works. I had the passing thought while reading that it was a little unbelievable, but it was just a passing thought. I was wrapped up in the drama and excitement of them being chased by killers and trying to solve her dad’s murder. I was wrapped up in the romance. Because it was romantic. This intense, charming, southern man falls for you in a matter of days, and you return those feelings? Oh, and did I mention he was effing hot?!?! Sign me up!

Then it’s like waking up from a dream. In dreamland all kinds of things make sense, but then your head clears and all you can think is… what the actual fuck just happened?

Rowena: Yep. To all of that.

While there were things that brought me up short, I still read the entire thing and had a smile on my face when it all ended. I’m not sure if it was the ridiculousness of the story or because in the end, I really did like the two of them together. Whatever it was, Linda Howard did write an entertaining story full of romance and action.

I especially liked seeing John Medina again. Seeing where we first met him and then knowing what’s in store for him in the future gave me the feels. happy sigh

Holly: I didn’t like Medina’s book. It’s one of only a few Howard novels I’ve only read a couple times and never go back to. I actually think this book was the beginning of the end of my undying love for her novels. Open Season, All the Queens Men and even Mr. Perfect were so frustrating to me.

Rowena: I liked it. I remember being one of the few that did enjoy it. I used to re-read that book a lot. Those were the days. I know that if I re-read it now, I wouldn’t enjoy it nearly as much as I did before so I doubt I’ll do a re-read. Keep the memories alive and all that. 🙂

This was a 3 read for me. It was ridiculous and yet it was still fun. You?

Holly: The same I think. On the surface it was an intense adventure. Upon further consideration it was a pretty creepy romance.

Final Grades

Holly: 3 out of 5
Rowena: 3 out of 5

three-stars


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