Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Guest Review: Until It Fades by KA Tucker

Posted June 26, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Until It Fades by KA TuckerReviewer: Tracy
Until It Fades by K.A. Tucker
Published by Atria Books
Publication Date: June 27th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 368
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four-stars

Twenty-four-year-old truck stop waitress and single mother Catherine Wright has simple goals: to give her five-year-old daughter a happy life and to never again be the talk of the town in Balsam, Pennsylvania: population two thousand outside of tourist season.

And then one foggy night, on a lonely road back from another failed attempt at a relationship, Catherine saves a man’s life. It isn’t until after the police have arrived that Catherine realizes exactly who it is she has saved: Brett Madden, hockey icon and media darling.

Catherine has already had her fifteen minutes of fame and the last thing she wants is to have her past dragged back into the spotlight, only this time on a national stage. So she hides her identity. It works.

For a time.

But when she finds the man she saved standing on her doorstep, desperate to thank her, all that changes. What begins as an immediate friendship quickly turns into something neither of them expected. Something that Catherine isn’t sure she can handle; something that Catherine is afraid to trust.

Because how long can an extraordinary man like Brett be interested in an ordinary woman like Catherine…before the spark fades?

Catherine has had a hard life since she was 17.  She always felt like an outsider in her family as she wasn’t the overachiever her siblings were.  When she falls in love with her teacher and her mother finds out all hell breaks loose and she forces Catherine to report him to the police.  She eventually recants her story (even though they were having an affair) but the damage is done to her reputation.  She eventually drops out of school and when she turns 18 moves out of her family’s home.

She gets a job at a truck stop as a waitress but 7 months after the ordeal with her teacher she finds out she’s pregnant.  Being a single mother is hard but she does it and does it well.  She’s never lived down her “reputation” as she lives in a small town but she lives her life as best she can and tries to protect her now 5 year old daughter from her past.

On the way home from a horrid blind date she comes across a car accident where the driver has been killed.  The passenger is stuck in the car but despite it being on fire she manages to pull the large man free and saves his life.  She’s now thought of as a hero – especially when it’s discovered that the man she pulled out of the burning vehicle is a famous hockey player.  Catherine doesn’t want fame and fortune and no compensation from the hockey player.  He does want to meet her, however, and when they meet the sparks fly. Catherine would love to be with Brett but she knows she’s just an ordinary woman and he couldn’t possibly want someone like her.  How wrong she is.

Until it Fades is a lovely slow-burn romance that I thoroughly enjoyed.  The build up to Brett and Catherine finally coming together was wonderful (maybe a bit slower than what I would have liked but it worked) and the passion that explodes between the two of them is intense.  From the moment they saw each other after the accident they connected and eventually become friends.  Catherine has quite a self-esteem issue because of how she was treated in the past but her incredibly wonderful friends and Brett help her get over it all.  I loved how the few friends that she had, and eventually her family, surrounded her with support and love, each in their own way.

The story kept me on my toes with all of the ins and outs of the story, flashbacks to her high school days, and current events.  KA Tucker wrote a great story and one I definitely recommend.

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars

Guest Review: At Close Range by Laura Griffin

Posted January 25, 2017 by Jen in Reviews | 8 Comments

Guest Review: At Close Range by Laura GriffinReviewer: Jen
At Close Range by Laura Griffin
Series: Tracers Series #11
Published by Pocket Books
Publication Date: January 31st 2017
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 368
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four-stars

New York Times bestselling author Laura Griffin “delivers the goods” (Publishers Weekly) again with the eleventh title in the gritty, heart-pounding Tracers series.

When a lakeside tryst ends in a double murder, police detective Daniele Harper arrives on the scene determined to get answers. Clues are everywhere, but nothing adds up. Dani turns to the Delphi Center crime lab for help, but soon regrets it when her secret attraction to their chief firearms examiner threatens to distract her from the most important case of her career.

As a ballistics expert and former Navy SEAL, Scott Black knows firearms, and he knows he can help Dani unravel her case. Scott has managed to hide his interest in his best friend’s younger sister for years, but when her investigation brings them together, the sparks between them quickly get out of control. Scott resolves to keep his hands off Dani and his eyes on the goal—identifying a killer. But when that killer zeroes in on Dani, all bets are off. There isn’t a line Scott won’t cross to convince Dani to trust him so that he can help her take down a ruthless murderer who has her in his sights.

Tracers book 11! This time we’re largely back on the police side of investigations, following detective Dani Harper as she investigates a double homicide. She gets forensic help from various experts at the Delphi Center, including Scott Black. Scott is her brother’s friend, a former SEAL, and a guy she’s had a low key crush on for years. Scott too has some pants-feelings for her, but he’s mostly stayed away because of his friend, he’s not good enough, you know the drill. The homicide case quickly gets much more complicated than anyone expected, and both Dani and Scott end up right in the middle of it all. They have to navigate their attraction while trying to put a stop to the killings.

This was the kind of book where I mostly enjoyed it while I was reading it, but after I put it down some things started bothering me. It was fairly fast paced and exciting. The first two murders turn out to be just the tip of the iceberg, and I liked that Griffin kept things interesting and exciting throughout. There’s no “figuring out” for the reader to do, but you do come along for the ride as Dani, Scott, and the rest of the police uncover details. I definitely got hooked and wanted to know how it all would be resolved. It was great to catch up with some past characters, and we get to meet another Delphi Center employee, Brooke, who I assume is going to be a future heroine. I am very intrigued by her so far!

There were quite a few weak points in the book for me, though. Like I said, while I was reading the book I was into the plot, but after I was done I couldn’t help thinking that some of the details were kind of ridiculous or unresolved. The villains have a really complicated plan that didn’t entirely make sense to me – it seemed far fetched.

I also wasn’t entirely feeling the romance. Scott is a really private, stoic guy. He seems to have PTSD or some other mental/emotional issues as a result of his combat experiences, but that’s just kind of glossed over. He and Dani have a lot of sex but do very, very little talking. Dani admits she really hasn’t spent much time with Scott after he came back from combat, so who is she really in love with? The kid/teen version of Scott she knew in the past, or the adult with piles of baggage and severe communication issues? Scott jerks her around a lot, acting like she’s just a fling and and saying some cruel things to her. He knows he’s hurting her but he selfishly continues doing it because he wants to, and I didn’t love that about him. Then the ending was also rushed, and Scott suddenly flips and is Mr. Commitment. It wasn’t entirely unsatisfying, but I would have preferred more build up. Plus, just like the hero in Beyond Limits (book 8), Scott steamrolls Dani and tries to take over her investigation. There was even a near-repeat of the moment I hated from book 8, where Scott grossly violates investigation protocol in a way that could get Dani in serious trouble, and instead of holding him accountable she caves and sleeps with him. I wanted Dani to stand up for herself a bit more, and I wanted Scott to acknowledge he was being a dick, but that didn’t happen.

Despite the problems, I still had a good time reading the book! The characters were interesting, the investigation details fascinating, and the plot fast paced. I think other Tracers fans will enjoy it too.

Grade: 3.75 out of 4

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

 

four-stars

Guest Review: First Step Forward by Liora Blake

Posted January 17, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 3 Comments

Guest Review: First Step Forward by Liora BlakeReviewer: Tracy
First Step Forward by Liora Blake
Series: Grand Valley #1
Also in this series: First Step Forward
Published by Pocket Books
Publication Date: November 29th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
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five-stars

Pro-football player Cooper Lowry is off the field and into some trouble—in the form of a very alluring, very free-spirited apple orchard owner named Whitney Reed—in the first installment in Liora Blake’s all new Grand Valley series.

After eight seasons playing pro-football, Cooper Lowry knows all the right answers.

Is he stubborn, short-tempered, and impatient? Yes. Are jersey chasers more trouble than they’re worth? Absolutely. Has he ever imagined a life beyond the game? Nope.

Cooper has built an enviable career—the result of staying focused, working hard, and keeping his head on straight—even as his body takes the brunt. So when a hard hit during a Sunday home game leaves him in a dazed heap on the field, it’s nothing more than another day at the office. The only thing that’s different about this Sunday is a chance encounter with a certain fascinating, beautiful free-spirited woman. And some sternly-worded instructions from his coach to take a little time off and give his body the TLC it craves—before he does lasting damage.

Whitney Reed is a few months away from losing the organic fruit orchard she bought three years ago in the tiny town of Hotchkiss, Colorado. At the time, she was just looking for a place to get lost. Instead, she found a home, somewhere she could finally put down roots. Now foreclosure is knocking on her door—along with a grumpy, gorgeous football player who might be just what she never knew she needed.

Cooper Lowry is a professional football player who is a “veteran” on the team.  He’s been in the NFL for 8 years and while his body is in top shape he’s definitely not as young as he used to be.  At one game he gets tackled and ends up with a concussion.  He is in the drugstore attempting to buy a large bag of Epsom salt but is having difficulty moving his body because his head hurts so badly.  He is assisted by a hippie looking woman who is in old man flannel pajamas and socks – who’s absolutely beautiful.  He pays for both his and her items, as a thank you, and goes on his way.  The next day he runs into her and is even more enthralled with her.

Whitney Reed is a woman on a mission.  She’s driven to Denver to attempt to get a loan that will save her orchard.  She’s in arears and needs to get the money to save her farm before she has nothing left.  She runs into the man who she helped the night before and finds him even more gorgeous in the daylight than he was in the drugstore.  They talk and she offers him a jar of the apple butter she made and goes on her way.  She doesn’t expect him to show up not long afterward at her home. He’s trying to take it easy with his concussion but all she wants to do is jump him.

The pair are hot for each other from the time they meet.  The longer they spend together the closer they get but Whitney is worried about her orchard and Cooper is worried about his career when he gets hurt yet again.  While Cooper is thinking of a future with Whitney he finds that she’s not being completely honest with him and it eventually causes them each to doubt what they have.

This book.  It was so good!  I almost everything about it.  Was it perfect? No, but there was so much love, laughter, romance, and reality to truly be a great book.

Cooper and Whitney had such a fabulous chemistry between them right from the beginning that it grabbed me and wouldn’t let go.  I loved reading about them and their experiences; they were so damned cute together!  Cooper was a fabulous blend of cocky, stubborn, loving man to Whitney’s hippie, organic, tree hugging relaxed self.  Of course she was a bit stressed because of the whole orchard foreclosure issue but other than that she was pretty relaxed.  Despite the differences between the two got along really well and had a great spending time together.

The humor, the love and the wonderful writing by Liora Blake made this a five star read for me.  I recommend that you don’t miss this one.

Rating: 5 out of 5

five-stars

Retro Review: A Kingdom of Dreams by Judith McNaught.

Posted January 11, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 44 Comments

Retro Review: A Kingdom of Dreams by Judith McNaught.Reviewer: Rowena
A Kingdom of Dreams by Judith McNaught
Series: Westmorelands #1
Published by Simon & Schuster, Pocket Books
Publication Date: July 1st 2003
Genres: Historical, Romance
Pages: 438
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four-half-stars

Abducted from her convent school, headstrong Scottish beauty Jennifer Merrick does not easily surrender to Royce Westmoreland, Duke of Claymore. Known as "The Wolf"; his very name strikes terror in the hearts of his enemies. But proud Jennifer will have nothing to do with the fierce English warrior who holds her captive, this handsome rogue who taunts her with his blazing arrogance. Boldly she challenges his will . . . until the night he takes her in his powerful embrace, awakening in her an irresistible hunger. And suddenly Jennifer finds herself ensnared in a bewildering web . . . a seductive, dangerous trap of pride, passion, loyalty, and overwhelming love.

***As part of our 10 year anniversary celebration, we’ll be re-posting old reviews that make us cringe, laugh or sigh all over again.

This week, we’re going back to the author that started my love of romance novels, Judith McNaught. I remember this review and all of the fighting commenting we did in the comments. What a lively bunch we are…ha! Oh man, the memories…***

This review was originally posted on May 29, 2007.

Okay so this weekend, while I was in the midst of reading all these books while waiting to read my book book, I did a reread of this book, A Kingdom of Dreams by Judith McNaught.

Now in our little circle of friends, this is the book that brings out the claws. I kid you not, we have gotten into some serious fight emails (in ALL CAPS y’all) about this book and the heroine. While some of us think that Jenny was a stupid beeyatch who deserved all the crap that she got, we still think she was redeemable in the end, there are others who think otherwise. They’re the ones that think Jenny should have died a slow death where she was tortured, hanging over a fire pit, being slow roasted.

LOL.

And as I was reading this book, this past weekend I found myself being just as absorbed in this story as I was the many other times I’ve read this book.

I found myself falling deeper and deeper under the Royce Westmoreland spell and I thought this book was fantastically written. The emotions Judith McNaught envoked in the readers toward the characters, pulled them deep into the story and made them apart of it, made them hate the bad guys (and the good guys) and made them hungry with the thirst of justice (for poor Thor and William) and I’ve got to say that Judith McNaught sure knows what she’s doing when she writes these books.

She’s a master at weaving a world that sparks such interesting topics and discussions. I mean, I’ve never fought with anyone like I did with Izzy and Holly over the whole Jenny thing and I admit to poking fun at them, deliberately provoking them into getting all huffy and puffy about Jenny and her actions.

It’s really fun, to read this book and roll my eyes and get that nervous twitch in my stomach when I knew Jenny was going to do something stupid, like sew the soldiers clothes shut or carve Royce’s face with his own knife, then you know, THE scene where she did what she did to Thor? And then when she hesitated over Royce’s lance when he approached her for her ribbon?

sigh

These are the things that made me so angry at Jenny but I didn’t wish Royce ended up with anyone else. I mean, she was stupid but she was very repentant at the end. Yeah, Royce was nearly dead before she got her wits around her to go and put a stop to the slaughtering of her husband, but she DID do it and she truly showed that she did in fact love him with all that she was…

Royce’s speech when he brought Jenny back to his home and introduced him to the servants, sigh I just love it…so much so that I’m going to type it out for you.

Behold your new mistress, my wife. And know that when she bids you, I have bidden you; what service you render her, you are rendering me, what loyalty you give or withhold from her, you give or withhold from me.

swoon

Man but this was a good book, a fantastic book and even though Jenny was a stupid ass, I still loved this book and I will continue to read it over and over again because it’s just that great.

Go on, bring on the vicious words for Jenny, I know you’re just dying to say them…LOL.

Grade: 4.75 out of 5

This book is available from Pocket Books. You can purchase it here.

four-half-stars

Review: Small Admissions by Amy Poeppel (+ Giveaway)

Posted January 10, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Small Admissions by Amy Poeppel (+ Giveaway)Reviewer: Rowena
Small Admissions by Amy Poeppel
Published by Simon & Schuster, Atria Books, Emily Bestler Books
Publication Date: December 27th 2016
Genres: Chick Lit, Contemporary
Pages: 368
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four-stars

For fans of The Nanny Diaries and Sophie Kinsella comes a whip-smart and deliciously funny debut novel about Kate, a young woman unexpectedly thrust into the cutthroat world of New York City private school admissions as she attempts to understand city life, human nature, and falling in love.

Despite her innate ambition and Summa Cum Laude smarts, Kate Pearson has turned into a major slacker. After being unceremoniously dumped by her handsome, French “almost fiancé,” she abandons her grad school plans and instead spends her days lolling on the couch, watching reruns of Sex and the City, and leaving her apartment only when a dog-walking gig demands it. Her friends don’t know what to do other than pass tissues and hope for a comeback, while her practical sister, Angela, pushes every remedy she can think of, from trapeze class to therapy to job interviews.

Miraculously, and for reasons no one (least of all Kate) understands, she manages to land a job in the admissions department at the prestigious Hudson Day School. In her new position, Kate learns there’s no time for self-pity or nonsense during the height of the admissions season, or what her colleagues refer to as “the dark time.” As the process revs up, Kate meets smart kids who are unlikable, likeable kids who aren’t very smart, and Park Avenue parents who refuse to take no for an answer.

Meanwhile, Kate’s sister and her closest friends find themselves keeping secrets, hiding boyfriends, dropping bombshells, and fighting each other on how to keep Kate on her feet. On top of it all, her cranky, oddly charming, and irritatingly handsome downstairs neighbor is more than he seems. Through every dishy, page-turning twist, it seems that one person’s happiness leads to another’s misfortune, and suddenly everyone, including Kate, is looking for a way to turn rejection on its head, using any means necessary—including the truly unexpected.

This book made it onto my radar when it came through in my email and I immediately added it to my review pile. I took my time getting around to reading it but then Grace over at Rebel Mommy Book Blog reviewed the book and I was super excited to start the book and I’m happy to report that I enjoyed it.

Kate Pearson is our main character and the story follows her and the people in her life from her family, her friends and the people she comes across every day at her new job as an admissions director for Hudson, a private school in New York City. After a disastrous relationship, Kate falls into a deep depression that takes her out of commission for a while and when her sister sets up a job interview for her to kick her out of her funk, Kate goes along with it and is surprised when she finds so much more than a new job. She finds a purpose. She finds a new circle of people that come to mean the world to her.

The book follows quite a few different people. There is Kate, of course, but there is also her sister, her friends, her boss and some of the parents that are trying to get their kids into Hudson. This book was fun and it was interesting but I have to note that in the beginning, it was confusing as hell. At least it was for me. I couldn’t figure out why Chloe’s bit was in first person, while everyone else was in third person, including Kate’s bit since Kate is the main character. It was hard to keep everyone sorted in my head but I continued on and was glad for it because everything was sorted and the story really was a good time.

This book has a bit of everything to make it an enjoyable read. Crazy parents, bratty kids, bad friends, well meaning friends, supportive family members and a sister that thought she knew everything but made me want to smack her upside her head from time to time. Every time Victoria thought something bad about Kate, I wanted Kate to come out on top of something else that would drive Vicky crazy. Every time Silvia Blake came onto the scene, my eyes got bigger and bigger waiting to see what shenanigans she’d get herself into. Angela made me roll my eyes all over the place and Chloe frustrated me but I ended up really liking her. There was much to enjoy about this book. It made me laugh, it hurt my heart but in the end, everything worked out and I was entertained.

This was a good book and I definitely recommend it if you’re in the mood for a fun chick lit book.

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About the Author

Amy Poeppel

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | GOODREADS

Amy Poeppel is a graduate of Wellesley College. Originally from Dallas, Texas, she lives with her husband and three sons in New York City, where she worked in the admissions department of an independent school. She workshopped a theatrical version of SMALL ADMISSIONS at the Actors Studio Playwrights/Directors Unit. She later expanded it into a novel.

four-stars