Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review: Josh & Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren

Posted September 17, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 3 Comments

Review: Josh & Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina LaurenReviewer: Rowena
Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: September 4, 2018
Point-of-View: First
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 320
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
five-stars

Hazel Camille Bradford knows she’s a lot to take—and frankly, most men aren’t up to the challenge. If her army of pets and thrill for the absurd don’t send them running, her lack of filter means she’ll say exactly the wrong thing in a delicate moment. Their loss. She’s a good soul in search of honest fun.

Josh Im has known Hazel since college, where her zany playfulness proved completely incompatible with his mellow restraint. From the first night they met—when she gracelessly threw up on his shoes—to when she sent him an unintelligible email while in a post-surgical haze, Josh has always thought of Hazel more as a spectacle than a peer. But now, ten years later, after a cheating girlfriend has turned his life upside down, going out with Hazel is a breath of fresh air.

Not that Josh and Hazel date. At least, not each other. Because setting each other up on progressively terrible double blind dates means there’s nothing between them...right?

I haven’t read very many books by Christina Lauren but the books that I did read, I enjoyed. I didn’t love them but they were solid contemporary romances that brought the goods. The time has come where they wrote a book that I absolutely adored.

Josh and Hazel went to college together and while they weren’t friends there, they were in each other’s orbits because Hazel was a hurricane of a young girl and Josh was a TA for one of Hazel’s classes. They’re complete opposites and even though Hazel has always a bit of a crush on Josh, she knows it’s not going to happen because she won’t ever change who she is for anyone, she settles for being Josh’s friend. They don’t become friends until after they run into each other 7 years after college but friends they become.

Josh is reserved and he’s careful and when he finds out that his long-distance girlfriend is cheating on him, he becomes single and his sister puts Hazel into his path to make sure that he has fun. He needs to have more fun in his life and there is nobody more fun than Hazel Bradford.

Hazel is a third-grade teacher who loves life. She’s eccentric, she’s bold, she’s loud and she knows that she’s a lot to take on so she’s not at all surprised that she’s single. She respects that she’s a lot to handle and doesn’t let that stop her from being her. She’s not for everybody and deep down, she hopes to find her person. Her person will be someone who accepts and loves her the way that she is. She sees the good in people and she doesn’t waste a lot of energy on negative shit so she’s just a ray of sunshine.

When Josh and Hazel become friends, we see their relationship form. For Josh, Hazel goes from being the loud and inappropriate young woman to the caring, will do anything for him best friend that he appreciates more and more with each passing day. She’s a lot of things, but she’s also one of the very best people that he knows. In an effort to help him move on from his cheating ex, Hazel starts setting him up on blind dates that Josh drags her along on with a blind date of her own. They choose dates for each other and then they go on these dates together and each date cracked me up.

I read this book in one sitting and throughout most of the book, I was laughing. I had a clear picture of both Josh and Hazel in my head (Jung from Kims Convenience for Josh and Jessica Day from New Girl for Hazel) so I could see each scene play out perfectly. Christina Lauren wrote a fabulous romantic comedy with a friendship that I was jealous of and a love that charmed the socks right off of me. Josh and Hazel made no sense and yet they were perfect for each other. I loved that Hazel could bring Josh out of his funk and I adored that Josh accepted and loved Hazel as she was. Their romance completely worked for me and I definitely recommend this book. This book isn’t being as well received by other readers but for me? I loved it all.

Grade: 5 out of 5

five-stars


Tagged: , , , , ,

Guest Review: Going Rogue by Chantal Fernando

Posted September 4, 2018 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Going Rogue by Chantal FernandoReviewer: Tracy
Going Rogue (The Cursed Ravens MC, #3) by Chantal Fernando
Series: The Cursed Ravens MC #3
Also in this series: Ace of Hearts, Knuckle Down (The Cursed Ravens MC #2)
Publisher: Pocket Star
Publication Date: August 6, 2018
Format: eARC
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 285
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
three-half-stars

Love blossoms in the most unexpected of places in this sweet and steamy Cursed Ravens Motorcyle Club title featuring a hunky bad boy and a charming nurse.

The men might tease Rogue and call him pretty behind his back, but no one is going to say that to his face. As the vice president of the Cursed Ravens—and with an unpredictable and unruly temper—respect is given to him at any cost.

But Rogue reins himself in when he visits his mother in a local nursing home. Overwhelmed with guilt that he can’t take care of her himself, he can barely handle watching her fade away with dementia. And he knows the staff is exceptional—especially the sweet and beautiful caregiver who pays extra attention to his mom.

It isn’t easy working at a nursing home, but Zoe enjoys spending time with her favorite patient Anne. She knows Anne has a son who dutifully visits her, but when Zoe sees the tall, muscled, handsome stranger, she can tell he’s trouble—beautiful trouble. She knows he’s a Cursed Raven and she knows better than to admit she’s attracted to him. There’s no way she'll date an MC member. Been there done that. But as Zoe and Rogue start to get closer, they realize one way or another, they’ll have to fight to stay in each other’s lives.

Zoe loves her work in the nursing home.  While not glamorous, she loves the connections she makes with the residents.  She especially loves Anne, and when she meets Anne’s son, she really likes him as well.  He proves to be thoughtful and brings her lunch every day.  Rogue is Anne’s son and he really likes Zoe as well.  He wants to take it slow with her and Zoe likes that.  She’s still a bit hesitant because she dated a biker before and he just wanted to hide her away, never introducing her to his MC and then she found out she was his piece-on-the-side as he already had a girlfriend.

While Zoe and Rogue’s relationship flourishes there are things happening with the MC that get a bit tricky.  Rogue’s mom, Anne, also has some issues and that causes problems between the couple.

This was a cute story.  I enjoyed reading Rogue’s story after meeting him in the first two books in the series. Zoe was a sweet girl and I liked them together.  I think Rogue needed someone more down to earth in his life and Zoe fit the bill.

The situation with Rogue’s mom was intense and heart-breaking.  Zoe and Rogue both loved her to pieces and that made things a lot tougher.  Anne was the one who caused conflict between Rogue and Zoe but I was happy that they worked it out.

Overall I liked the book and thought it was a nice read.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

The Cursed Ravens MC

three-half-stars


Tagged: , , , , , , ,

Guest Review: Desperate Girls by Laura Griffin

Posted August 16, 2018 by Jen in Reviews | 4 Comments

Guest Review: Desperate Girls by Laura GriffinReviewer: Jen
Desperate Girls (Wolfe Security #1) by Laura Griffin
Series: Wolfe Security #1
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: August 7, 2018
Format: eARC
Point-of-View: Third Person
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 368
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
four-stars

Defense attorney Brynn Holloran is right at home among cops, criminals, and tough-as-nails prosecutors. With her sharp wit and pointed words, she has a tendency to intimidate, and she likes it that way. She’s a force to be reckoned with in the courtroom, but in her personal life, she’s a mess.

When a vicious murderer she once helped prosecute resurfaces and starts a killing spree to wipeout those who put him behind bars, one thing becomes clear: Brynn needs to run for her life.

With no help from the police, Brynn is forced to take matters into her own hands, turning to a private security firm for protection. But when Brynn defies advice and gets involved in the investigation, even the former Secret Service agent assigned to protect her may not be able to keep her safe. With every new clue she discovers, Brynn is pulled back into the vortex of a disturbing case from her past.

As the clock ticks down on a manhunt, Brynn’s desperate search for the truth unearths long-buried secrets and reignites a killer’s fury.

I have been anxiously awaiting this new romantic suspense series, which is a spin-off from Griffin’s always dependable Tracers books. Instead of focusing on the Delphi Center or the police, we get to dig into Liam Wolfe’s private security firm. Liam was the hero of book 9 in the Tracers series, and while we don’t get to see him much we do get some brief glimpses of him and his profiler brother Mark. You definitely don’t need to have read any of the Tracers books to jump into Desperate Girls, though.

The cover copy for this book is really not an accurate portrayal of the plot, so let me try and summarize things a bit more precisely. (And that title is similarly meaningless. I can only assume the publisher is trying to cash in on the popularity of the “Girl” thrillers, even though this is not that kind of book. It is firmly a romantic suspense.) Brynn Holloran is a former prosecutor who is now a defense attorney. When it appears a case from her past has come back to haunt her and the others involved, her boss hires Wolfe Security to handle things. Erik Morgan is the lead for her security detail, and they quickly butt heads. Brynn doesn’t see the need for security and is simply focused on her big upcoming trial, but as the threats escalate she realizes the danger she’s in. Of course, she and Erik have an inconvenient attraction that complicates matters.

Probably my favorite part of the book is Brynn. She is a really, really good defense attorney, and it was fun to read about her legal strategizing. She is excellent at reading people, at seeing patterns and motives, and at telling a story for a jury. I particularly love the way she makes no apologies for her job or her tactics. She admits she’s not above using her looks to sway, impress, or intimidate. There’s a scene where she calls out Erik for his hypocrisy by pointing out his appearance is an important part of his job too, and I gave a silent fist pump at that. She is perhaps a bit ridiculous in her continued insistence that she doesn’t need so much security, but I could overlook that one blindspot.

I really enjoyed Brynn and Erik together, too. We never dig too deep into Erik’s story, which I would have liked, but we do get some time to see Brynn and Erik together. I appreciated that Erik likes her for her strength and her intelligence–he respects her job and how hard she works at it. They have some good physical and emotional chemistry, and I believed they would be a good long-term couple. This is a stereotypically fast-moving romantic suspense relationship, however, so YMMV depending on how you feel about that trope.

We meet some fantastic secondary characters in this book, too. I particularly enjoyed the police detective Lindsey, who seemed brilliant and not afraid to go her own way. I definitely want to hear more about the other Wolfe Security team members as well.

In my opinion, this is a solid start to this spin-off. This book was a bit more suspense and less police/forensic procedural than the Tracers series, but I appreciated the different vibe.

Grade: 4 out of 5

 

four-stars


Tagged: , , , , , , ,

Throwback Thursday Review: Dark Warrior Unleashed by Alexis Morgan

Posted August 9, 2018 by Casee in Reviews | 3 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: Dark Warrior Unleashed by Alexis MorganReviewer: Casee
Dark Warrior Unleashed (Talions, #1) by Alexis Morgan
Series: Talions #1
Publisher: Pocket Star
Publication Date: July 29, 2008
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 334
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
three-half-stars

The rough and rugged Talions, sexy warriors who stop at nothing to deliver justice, star in this steamy new paranormal series from Alexis Morgan.

He's on a mission to annihilate the enemy.

A Talion enforcer, Ranulf Thorsen has served his people for a thousand years, delivering the eye-for-an-eye justice by which his kinsmen live. Weary of the centuries-long fight, the fierce warrior with icy blue eyes has secluded himself on a mountain far from the chaos of the modern world below. Now he's been summoned to face the most dangerous battle of his life -- and the fate of his people is on the line. But when he meets the beautiful woman he has sworn to defend...

Ranulf and his bitter rival, fellow Talion Sandor Kearn, must find the rogue Kyth who set a violent fire in a nightclub. The near-deadly blaze's unlikely heroine, Kerry Logan, is also a Kyth, possessing the ancient Nordic people's unique ability to manipulate human energy. She just doesn't know it yet. ...who will protect his heart?

Kerry finds more than comfort in her warrior's embrace, and Ranulf hungers to both defend and claim the petite powerhouse for his own. But with time ticking away and their lives on the line, will Kerry believe the wild tale he's telling her, and master her powers...before it's too late?

Every Thursday, we’ll be posting throwback reviews of our favorite and not-so-favorite books. Enjoy!

This review was originally posted on August 13, 2008.

I am a long time fan of Alexis Morgan’s Paladin series. I’ve read the series from the beginning and really enjoyed Morgan’s world building as well as her character development. While I enjoyed this book, I didn’t love it. I think it has great potential, but there was something missing for me. I think it was that I didn’t really connect with the characters. They were just meh.

Kerry Logan has no idea how her life is going to change when she saves a club full of people from dying by fire. She’s clueless to the fact that she, and she alone, saved the lives of people that would have been otherwise dead. She does know that she will be targeted by the arsonist and doesn’t look forward to the news of her heroism getting out.

Ranulf Thorsen has been called upon by the leader of the Kyth to bring the arsonist, who is also Kyth, to justice. The Kyth are a race that feed off the energy of other people. Energy to them is like food to a normal person. They need it to survive. They don’t have to kill people to get energy, though there are those like Braden (the arsonist) who do exactly that. The energy that comes with fear and terror is dark and addictive. Ranulf strips the traitors of their energy and it has taken its toll on him over the years.

I found the idea behind the Kyth and the elite Talion warriors interesting. Needing energy to survive is fascinating when you (or I?) think about it. Kerry is a special Kyth, though. She has the ability to heal. Hence all the people that survived the club fire. Also, only someone with her abilities can lead the Kyth and they’re going to need her to step up.

The whole thing was just a little too pat for me. Kerry has no idea any paranormal elements exist, yet by the end of the book she is gung-ho to lead a race of people that she really knows nothing about. So while I think the series has potential to be as good as her Paladin series, this book isn’t as strong as it could be considering it’s the first in a new series.

Grade: 3.75 out of 5

Talions

three-half-stars


Tagged: , , , , , , ,

Summer Challenge Review: Sustained by Emma Chase

Posted August 8, 2018 by Casee in Reviews | 3 Comments

Summer Challenge Review: Sustained by Emma ChaseReviewer: Casee
Sustained (The Legal Briefs, #2) by Emma Chase
Series: The Legal Briefs #2
Also in this series: Overruled (The Legal Briefs, #1), Sustained (The Legal Briefs, #2), Appealed (The Legal Briefs, #3), Sidebarred (The Legal Briefs, #3.5)
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: August 25, 2015
Point-of-View: First
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 267
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
four-stars

A knight in tarnished armor is still a knight.

When you’re a defense attorney in Washington, DC, you see firsthand how hard life can be, and that sometimes the only way to survive is to be harder. I, Jake Becker, have a reputation for being cold, callous, and intimidating—and that suits me just fine. In fact, it’s necessary when I’m breaking down a witness on the stand.

Complications don’t work for me—I’m a “need-to-know” type of man. If you’re my client, tell me the basic facts. If you’re my date, stick to what will turn you on. I’m not a therapist or Prince Charming—and I don’t pretend to be.

Then Chelsea McQuaid and her six orphaned nieces and nephews came along and complicated the ever-loving hell out of my life. Now I'm going to Mommy & Me classes, One Direction concerts, the emergency room, and arguing cases in the principal's office.

Chelsea’s too sweet, too innocent, and too gorgeous for her own good. She tries to be tough, but she’s not. She needs someone to help her, defend her…and the kids.

And that — that, I know how to do.

This was an interesting book. Not only was it written in first person (which I don’t particularly enjoy reading), it was written solely from the hero’s point-of-view. One of the reasons that I don’t enjoy first person is because I like rotating points-of-view. It just makes it more interesting when I can get into multiple characters’ heads. There are very few authors that can hold my interest from one point of view. I’m relieved happy to say that Emma Chase is one of them.

Jake Becker seems like a world class a-hole when the book first starts. A world class man whore a-hole. The guy has no illusions about himself. He knows what he wants out of life and what he wants from women. From life, he wants everything. From women, he wants nothing but sex. He’s seen one of his colleagues fall into domestic bliss and is certain that life is not the way for him. That is until Rory McQuaid picks his pocket. Then his whole life is turned upside down. He finds himself in the middle of a family of seven, suddenly a father figure for six orphans. Lusting after the kids’ guardian makes Jake feel like the lowest of the low, but he is attracted to Chelsea McQuaid like he’s never been attracted to anyone before. He’s actually interested in what comes out of her mouth, not what her mouth can do to him. Which is all together new for him.

As Jake gets in deeper and deeper, his commitment to his work lessens. Suddenly he is his domesticated colleague, which freaks him the hell out. He tries to run like hell in the opposite direction. Problem…not only can he not stay away from Chelsea, he can’t stay away from the kids. He’s found himself attached to the six rugrats. They’ve wound themselves throughout his life and around his heart. It’s only when he starts to consider the serious damage he could do to their lives that he really reconsiders being in them at all.

I found this book thoroughly enjoyable. Watching Jake fall for this broken family was really heartwarming. That he was so opposite of a family man made it all the better. Late in the book, the kids were taken away from Chelsea. I was wrecked reading about it. I almost, almost ugly cried. Then after, when Riley confronts Jake about leaving them? Wowza. Intense stuff. Emma Chase did such a fabulous job of getting all the characters feelings to the reader even though the book was only from Jake’s POV. I commend her for that. I also commend her for keeping this reader engrossed in the book and wanting more.

Oh, one more thing? This book was fucking steaming hot. Yup.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Legal Briefs

four-stars


Tagged: , , , , , , ,