Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Buddy Review: The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Posted June 12, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Buddy Review: The Unhoneymooners by Christina LaurenReviewer: Ames & Rowena
The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, Gallery Books
Publication Date: May 14, 2019
Format: eARC, eBook
Source: NetGalley, Purchased
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 395
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars

Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Ami, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.

Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.

Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of... lucky.

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren features Olive Torres and Ethan Thomas as they go on their sibling’s honeymoon because the happy couple and everyone else that attended the wedding got serious food poisoning and couldn’t go on their non-refundable trip. Olive and Ethan don’t even like each other for reasons that neither of them is aware of but that is not going to stop them from going on this trip…for free.

Once they land in Hawaii, things get really complicated when they both have to pretend to be together …they get really good at pretending to be together, so good that it soon starts to feel like they’re not pretending anymore. The trip brings out some truths between the two of them and when they return home, the party is still going but other things outside of their love bubble complicate things for them and Christina Lauren did their magic with bringing the drama. Olive and Ethan had to work for their happy ending and I thought everything was handled well.

Rowena: This was a fast read for me and I really enjoyed the whole thing. What about you, Ames?

Ames: It was a quick read for me too! I got swept right up into Olive and Ethan’s story so I wanted to see how it all worked out. I love that they went from enemies to lovers. One thing that just made me so happy was how Ethan purposely got Olive’s name wrong so then she started to do it too. I thought them calling each other by different names was too funny. Oscar…LOL The set up of the book was very well done too, the forced proximity really made Olive and Ethan see each other in a new light. There wasn’t anything forced about how their minds change over time.

I liked how the characters were built up too. Olive was the unlucky twin but she still had a go-getter attitude and wasn’t too woe is me. So I really felt for her when her sister and Ethan didn’t believe her at the end of the book. Jerks. LOL.

What did you think?

Rowena: I had the same thoughts toward Ami and Ethan at the end…and the way that Ami confronts the big bad and Ethan shows up and you can just feel how sorry he was toward Olive? Man, Christina Lauren did a great job of writing that scene. It pulled at my feels and I was so Team Olive through it all.

This was such a work of fiction, a little over the top with certain things (the lucky and unlucky twin thing is one thing that comes to mind) but I didn’t care about any of that. This book entertained the socks right off of me and I enjoyed getting to know Olive and Ethan, seeing them work things out between them since they spent so much time hating each other. They came together in a believable way and Ethan’s grand gesture had me smiling from ear to ear. So good.

Ames: See, I don’t know if I would have forgiven Ethan so quickly. Maybe I’m just a petty bitch and would have held on to my hurt for a bit longer but I thought it was too easy. Mind you Ethan did redeem himself…so it must just be me. haha!

I really liked Olive’s character. She hated lying to her new boss and she couldn’t lie to save her life! She did jump to conclusions quickly but Ethan always called her out on it so I liked that he balanced her that way. And I like that she eventually comes clean. She has integrity.

You know what I realized? The whole running into your ex with their new partner in Hawaii was very Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Remember that movie?

Anyway, I really enjoyed The Unhoneymooners. It made me laugh, it was definitely steamy and it was full of good characters. Even the extended family members were fun and added to the story. Olive had herself a little journey of self-discovery throughout the whole thing (especially around her career goals) so I feel like this one just checked all the feel-good boxes.

Rowena: Haha, you’re right. This movie was so Forgetting Sarah Marshall. I forgave Ethan a lot sooner than I thought I would because I knew that he was sorry and he got me with the, “I’ll spend the rest of my life being sorry for this” line so yeah, maybe it was just you. LMAO!

Olive was the highlight of this book for me. I loved her, her family support system and I loved her relationship with her twin sister. It wasn’t perfect and I was annoyed with Ami at first but man do they really come around for me. This book was definitely funny but I could have used for some more steam. I think there was like one sex scene in the entire book, I didn’t know that I needed more of those but it wouldn’t have hurt this book.

Christina Lauren did their thing with this one and I’m glad that we read this one together. It was a lot of fun and I’ve come to expect these kinds of stories from the Christina Lauren duo. I give this one 4.25 out of 5 stars, you?

Ames: I’m giving the Unhoneymooners a 4.25 out of 5 as well.

Final Grades

Ames: 4.25 out of 5
Rowena: 4.25 out of 5

four-stars


Tagged: , , , , , , , ,

Throwback Thursday Review: Then You Hide by Roxanne St. Claire

Posted June 6, 2019 by Casee in Reviews | 1 Comment

Throwback Thursday Review: Then You Hide by Roxanne St. ClaireReviewer: Casee
Then You Hide by Roxanne St. Claire
Series: Bullet Catcher #5
Also in this series: First You Run
Publisher: Pocket Star
Publication Date: June 24, 2008
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 349
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

When Bullet Catcher Wade Cordell is offered a cushy assignment to track down a woman on vacation in the Caribbean and persuade her to meet her birth mother, the secret ops sharpshooter decides it's the perfect antidote to his stressful job. Except spirited and sassy Vanessa Porter isn't on vacation, she's on a hunt for a friend who has disappeared. Wade's news doesn't faze a woman who swims with the sharks on Wall Street -- Vanessa knows she's adopted and has no intention of meeting or helping the woman who gave her up in a black market scheme. But as it becomes clear that her missing friend is deep in hiding and deeper in trouble, Vanessa strikes a shaky bargain with the sexy bodyguard who's an expert at finding people who don't want to be found. How high a price will she have to pay the Bullet Catcher willing to put his life on the line for her? Will she sacrifice her pride . . . her heart . . . even her life?

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

This review was originally posted on June 26, 2008.

This is the 7th book (including anthologies) in St. Claire’s Bullet Catcher series and the 2nd in the trilogy that is out this year. The trilogy started with First You Run, where the Bullet Catchers are trying to find three women-triplets-that were given up in black market adoptions thirty years before. As the story unravels, the Bullet Catchers now believe that finding these three women may be the key to solving a thirty year old murder. A murder that their birth mother has been in jail for since shortly after their births.

When Wade Cordell heads to the Caribbean, he figures he can get in a few days of relaxation after convincing Vanessa Porter to go to South Carolina to meet her birth mother. What he doesn’t count on is Vanessa herself. A southern boy at heart, Wade is ill prepared for the brash, fast, and no-nonsense Vanessa. Now, a job that should have been easy is anything but that when he finds himself chasing Vanessa from one Caribbean island to another.

Vanessa is in the Caribbean for one reason and it isn’t vacation. After a good friend disappears, seemingly without a trace, Vanessa follows him to the Caribbean. Determined to find him no matter what the cost, Vanessa has no time for Wade Cordell or her murderess birth mother. When she realizes that she’s in over her head, Vanessa grudgingly accepts Wade’s help. In return, she agrees to go to South Carolina after they find Clive. It’s not long before Vanessa is glad to have Wade on her side.

I really enjoyed Vanessa and Wade. Wade was almost scandalized by the language that would come out of Vanessa’s mouth, which was extremely amusing. These two are as opposite as two people can get, yet it works somehow. Those are the best romances. Though they quickly fall into an affair, Wade knows that there is more to Vanessa than the ball-busting persona she shows the world and he’s determined to get past that. Vanessa has to get past her own childhood hangups if she wants anything more w/ Wade. Their relationship was funny and sweet, yet hot and exciting.

The mystery arc that is continuing over the course of the three books gets more intriguing in this book. I look forward to the conclusion of this series and am confident that the author won’t disappoint.

4 out of 5

This book is available from Pocket Star. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

Bullet Catcher


four-stars


Tagged: , , , , , , ,

Guest Review: Blind Kiss by Renee Carlino

Posted May 24, 2019 by Tracy in Reviews | 2 Comments

Guest Review: Blind Kiss by Renee CarlinoReviewer: Tracy
Blind Kiss by Renee Carlino
Narrator: Rebekkah Ross, Sebastian York
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: August 14, 2018
Format: Audiobook, eBook
Source: Library
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 319
Length: 7 hours and 44 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
two-stars

A powerful story of two people who spend years denying their scientifically-proven chemistry.

Penny spends her afternoons sitting outside a sandwich shop, surrounded by ghosts. Fourteen years ago, this shop was her childhood dance studio... Now she’s a suburban housewife, dreading the moment her son departs for MIT, leaving her with an impeccably decorated McMansion and a failing marriage. She had her chance at wild, stars-in-her-eyes happiness, but that was a lifetime ago. After The Kiss. Before The Decision.

The Kiss was soulful. Magical. Earth-shattering, And it was all for a free gift card. Asked to participate in a psych study that posed the question, “Can you have sexual chemistry without knowing what the other person looks like?” Penny agreed to be blindfolded, make polite conversation with a total stranger, and kiss him. She never expected The Kiss to change her life forever and introduce her to Gavin: tattooed, gorgeous, and spontaneous enough to ask her out seconds after the blindfolds came off.

For a year, they danced between friendship and romance—until Penny made The Decision that forced them to settle for friendship. Now, fourteen years later, both of their lives are about to radically change—and it’s his turn to decide what will become of their once-in-a-lifetime connection."

So…have you ever read a book and you kept thinking to yourself, “I need to stop reading this!” over and over again?  I have, and it’s definitely not a fun experience.  This book was like that.  It was like a car accident that you just couldn’t look away from – horrible, yet you just had to see what was happening.

In this story we start in present day with Penny who is a 35-year-old woman who was once planning on being a dancer.  She now sits out in front of her old dance studio that turned into a Subway in hopes of talking to the building manager about renting the space when the lease runs out on the Subway.   Her best friend of 14 years, Gavin, comes up and tells her that he’s moving to France with his girlfriend.  Thus begins the flashbacks of how Gavin and Penny met and their tumultuous relationship throughout the years.

Penny and Gavin met when they were each talked into doing a blind kiss for a psychology study.  Their chemistry is off the charts and almost immediately they are practically inseparable.  Penny, however, tells Gavin that she can only be friends with him.  Between her studies and her dancing, she can’t concentrate on a romantic relationship and asks him to wait until graduation.  He agrees, even though he wants Penny for his own.  By the time they graduate, Gavin is dating someone else but longing for Penny, Penny is injured and won’t dance again, and then soon after that she’s pregnant and getting married to someone else.

Fourteen fucking years go by with Gavin and Penny stating they’re just friends but yet acting like a couple in every instance except taking that final step.  No, no kissing or screwing, but they spoon and touch and tell each other just about everything, including that they love each other – just as friends, of course. Please – don’t insult my intelligence.  The story revolves around their lives and the non-stop angst of their relationship and the changes it goes through.

This story was a mess!  I have to hand it to Carlino – she wrote the book in such a way that I felt like I needed to keep reading to find out how the shit show that was Gavin and Penny turned out. That fact actually earned this book an extra star, which is sad, really.

The story was about Penny and Gavin’s lives and families as well so there were a few secondary characters in the book.  Unfortunately we didn’t get to know any of them very well so it was mainly focused on Gavin and Penny.

The story is told in a series of flashbacks and I found that annoying.  I didn’t really like Penny at all and wasn’t a huge fan of Gavin’s either.  I thought he could have grown some balls over the years, but that didn’t happen.  On top of not liking the story, I was hoping that I would at least get a great ending with Gavin and Penny getting together.  Didn’t happen.  They did get together, but the ending was a farce and completely rushed. It actually shouldn’t have surprised me that is was bad, but it did.

Overall I disliked this book, obviously, and don’t recommend it.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

two-stars


Tagged: , , , , , ,

Sunday Spotlight: Passion on Park Avenue by Lauren Layne

Posted May 19, 2019 by Rowena in Features, Giveaways | 7 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

Lauren Layne has been at the top of my Best of lists in the last few years and she keeps coming back with these heaters. I’m really loving everything that she’s putting out lately and I’m super excited to jump right into this one. Passion on Park Avenue is the first in a new romantic comedy series and this series is being promoted as more chick-lit than romance but I’m not mad about that. I will read anything this woman puts out.

Sunday Spotlight: Passion on Park Avenue by Lauren LaynePassion on Park Avenue by Lauren Layne
Series: The Central Park Pact #1
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: May 28, 2019
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 288
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books

From the author of the New York Times bestselling Stiletto and Oxford series, the first in a sizzling new series following the unlikely friendship of three Upper East Side women as they struggle to achieve their dreams and find true love and happiness in the city that never sleeps.

For as long as she can remember, Bronx-born Naomi Powell has had one goal: to prove her worth among the Upper East Side elite—the same people for which her mom worked as a housekeeper. Now, as the strongminded, sassy CEO of one of the biggest jewelry empires in the country, Naomi finally has exactly what she wants—but it’s going to take more than just the right address to make Manhattan’s upper class stop treating her like an outsider.

The worst offender is her new neighbor, Oliver Cunningham—the grown son of the very family Naomi’s mother used to work for. Oliver used to torment Naomi when they were children, and as a ridiculously attractive adult, he’s tormenting her in entirely different ways. Now they find themselves engaged in a battle-of-wills that will either consume or destroy them…

Filled with charm and heart and plenty of sex and snark, this entertaining series will hook you from the very first page.

Early reviews of this book are pretty decent so I’m stupid excited for its release. This is something fresh and new for Lauren Layne and I’m stoked to see what she does in the chick-lit but still romance genre. Check out an excerpt from this week’s Sunday Spotlight feature.

Excerpt

Oliver’s jaw clenched. He did not lose his temper often, but this woman was seriously pushing his buttons.

“Alright, I give up, Ms. Powell. What’s your deal?”

“My deal?”

“You’ve been eying my jugular since I walked in the door.”

He waited for her to deny it. Instead, she inspected her manicure. A deep navy, he noted, and not the demure pale pink or classic red he was used to seeing. And yet everything else, the expensive-looking dress, the brand-name handbag, the sleek hairstyle was expected, just like every other woman he knew.

But there was something else there—something more interesting that he couldn’t put his finger on. Almost like she was a blend of self-confidence and vulnerability all wound into one feisty, compelling package.

She was a contradiction.

Maybe Oliver didn’t need to start that jigsaw puzzle tonight after all. He had a hell of a puzzle right in front of him.

“You do realize that I’m the gate keeper to the next round,” he prodded again.

She craned her neck, pretending to look at his hands. “Oh, is there a ring I was supposed to kiss? I’m new to this whole process. Should I bow?”

There it was again. The flash of familiarity. Who was this woman?

“Have we met?” he asked, tossing the folder on the desk as he studied her.

She looked away, and Oliver’s eyes narrowed. “We have. How do I know you?”

Naomi looked back, her eyes guarded. “You don’t.”

“You sure?”

Instead of replying, she rewarded him with her first genuine smile. And damn, what a smile it was. Seductive and lethal all at the same time.

He was still reeling from its impact when she startled him by standing.

“We’re not done,” he said, then hid a wince at how pompous he sounded. How much like his father he sounded.

“Oh, I think we are,” she murmured. “I think we both know exactly what you’re going to write on my application the second I leave.”

“Yeah, we do,” he snapped, standing up too. “Left interview early.”

She glared up at him, and Oliver was a little surprised to realize that they were both breathing hard.

Naomi Powell wasn’t particularly short, but at six feet, he had the physical advantage. For the first time since he’d hit his growth spurt in high school, he relished his height. This perplexing woman got under his skin like nobody had in a long time, and he needed every defense he could get.

Just as he was gearing up for her retort—anticipating it—she turned away.

Oliver called after her. “You understand that I’m not going to recommend you for the next round of interviews, right?”

“No problem, Mr. Cunningham. And look on the bright side. With me gone, there’ll be more room for your emperor complex up in here. I’ll send your secretary in. You’re looking a bit overdue for your daily hand-feeding of grapes.”

Naomi Powell sailed out the office door without so much as a backward glance.

Oliver stood staring at the doorway, feeling somewhere between dumbfounded and off-balance. And most annoyingly of all …

Intrigued.

Giveaway Alert

We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the widget below to enter for one of this month’s features.

Sunday Spotlight: May 2019

Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!

About Lauren Layne

Lauren Layne is the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of more than two dozen romantic comedies. Her books have sold over a million copies, in nine languages. Lauren's work has been featured in Publishers Weekly, Glamour, The Wall Street Journal, and Inside Edition. She is based in New York City.


Tagged: , , , , ,

Review: Passion on Park Avenue by Lauren Layne

Posted May 16, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 5 Comments

Review: Passion on Park Avenue by Lauren LayneReviewer: Rowena
Passion on Park Avenue by Lauren Layne
Series: Central Park Pact #1
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, Gallery Books
Publication Date: May 28, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 288
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

From the author of the New York Times bestselling Stiletto and Oxford series, the first in a sizzling new series following the unlikely friendship of three Upper East Side women as they struggle to achieve their dreams and find true love and happiness in the city that never sleeps.

For as long as she can remember, Bronx-born Naomi Powell has had one goal: to prove her worth among the Upper East Side elite—the same people for which her mom worked as a housekeeper. Now, as the strongminded, sassy CEO of one of the biggest jewelry empires in the country, Naomi finally has exactly what she wants—but it’s going to take more than just the right address to make Manhattan’s upper class stop treating her like an outsider.

The worst offender is her new neighbor, Oliver Cunningham—the grown son of the very family Naomi’s mother used to work for. Oliver used to torment Naomi when they were children, and as a ridiculously attractive adult, he’s tormenting her in entirely different ways. Now they find themselves engaged in a battle-of-wills that will either consume or destroy them…

Filled with charm and heart and plenty of sex and snark, this entertaining series will hook you from the very first page.

Passion on Park Avenue is the first book in Lauren Layne’s new Central Park Pact series and it kicks off a series of three women who became friends on the day of their boyfriend’s funeral. Yeah, all three had the same boyfriend but they didn’t know that they were sharing. It’s a weird premise but I think Layne did a great job of making it work. Each woman is different in personality and even in looks but it doesn’t take a genius to know why Brayden (the dead ex) was attracted to all of them. They’re all gorgeous and they’re all successful in their own way. I enjoyed getting to know each of them in this book. I also look forward to getting to know them some more in the other books.

In Passion on Park Avenue we get Naomi Powell’s story. She grew up around rich people but her mother was the housekeeper of a rich family and Naomi holds a lot of resentment for the family that her mother worked for. They were thrown out without a reference and Naomi’s Mom never really picked herself up so there was a lot of struggle for Naomi growing up. Naomi worked hard as hell to get to where she is these days. Gone are the days of struggling for Naomi. She’s smart, strong, and driven and that is what it took to get her accessories business, Maxcessories, off the ground. Naomi is the proud business owner of one of the biggest accessories business and her life is going great until she receives a phone call about an apartment opening she applied for…in that building. The building that her mother used to work in. The same building that Naomi and her mother were thrown out of. The building that that family lives in, a family that Naomi has no interest in seeing ever again until curiosity gets the best of her.

Naomi is surprised by how mad she still is at Oliver Cunningham for not telling the truth the day that her and her mother were kicked out of the building. She understands that they were kids but the resentment is strong and she is having trouble letting it all go. When she moves into the building, she does it thinking that she is going to get the closure she needs so that she can finally move on from it all but moving in, means living so close to Oliver, who doesn’t know who she is and getting closer to the man he grew up to be…and she really likes that guy. To make things even worse, she winds up helping Oliver with his father and she hates him even more than she thought she hated Oliver. The game was changed on Naomi and she spends most of the book trying to grow and move on from the past and that would have been fine and dandy if it didn’t take her so long to come clean about who she really was with Oliver.

Naomi does a lot of growing in this book and I enjoyed seeing her really come into her own without the baggage from a past that should have been left in the past. Seeing her deal with all of her emotional hangups made for a great reading adventure. There aren’t any love scenes in this book and I was okay with that. There is still plenty of romance between her and Oliver and Lauren Layne still delivered a fabulous story that I enjoyed. My hangups were mostly with how long it took Naomi to come clean but other than that? This was a fantastic contemporary romance with a cast of characters that I’m looking forward to get to know in the other books. I’m hoping that we’ll get a best friends to lovers story for Audrey and Clark. Fingers crossed.

Final Grade

4 out of 5

Central Park Pact

four-stars


Tagged: , , , , , , ,