Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca

Guest Review: Every Last Breath by Juno Rushdan

Posted May 15, 2019 by Jen in Reviews | 2 Comments

Guest Review: Every Last Breath by Juno RushdanReviewer: Jen
Every Last Breath by Juno Rushdan
Series: Final Hour #1
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: April 30, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 418
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

48 hours2 covert operatives1 chance to get it right

Maddox Kinkade is an expert at managing the impossible. Tasked with neutralizing a lethal bioweapon, she turns to the one person capable of helping her stop the threat of pandemic in time: the love of her life, back from the dead and mad as hell at her supposed betrayal. Recruiting Cole to save millions of lives may be harder than resisting the attraction still burning between them, but Maddox will do whatever it takes...even if it destroys her.

When Maddox crashes back into Cole Matthews' life, he wants to fight back. He wants to hate her. But the crisis is too strong to ignore, and soon the two former lovers find themselves working side-by-side in a breakneck race to stop a world-class killer with a secret that could end everything.

It’s a secret agent book! I am always down for a good spy thriller, and this book didn’t disappoint.

Maddox Kinkade is an elite operative with a covert government organization trying to stop a bioterrorist attack. The problem is, the person they need help from is none other than the fiance she thought dead. For his part, Cole Matthews let Maddox think he was dead because she betrayed him. He doesn’t particularly care about helping the US government, but he doesn’t want to look the other way as people are murdered. Plus, he finds he’d still do anything for Maddox. They have to move beyond their past together and go all in to find and stop the terrorist threat.

Maddox is my favorite kind of heroine–she’s prickly, smart, and so very capable. She can fight with the best of them, and I adored seeing Cole slowly realize he didn’t need to protect his little woman. Cole was even pricklier, however. He feels so betrayed and hurt by Maddox, and it makes him snippy and mean at first. To be honest, the whole betrayal was a bit vague in my mind–it had something to do with Maddox telling her CIA father information about Cole’s Russian organized crime family. However, to me it seemed more like the real issue was that her family was in law enforcement while his were in crime! “Betrayal” or not, it didn’t seem realistic that they could have worked out when they were so young. They both needed to grow up and get the perspective of a little time and space.

The terrorist plot was great. You know who they’re chasing, and you get lots of scenes from his perspective. I love the cat-and-mouse story, where the killer seems to always be one step ahead. I also love a good “traitor in our midst” plot, and this book had that as well. In short, the plot ticked my buttons!

As with most action romances, there were some things that didn’t quite make sense. I didn’t know why the agency let Cole in on the operation. I get that they don’t have to follow the “regular rules” of law enforcement, but no way would they let a civilian (and one connected to organized crime no less) in on a case like this. Plus Cole’s family and their crime connection was not well explored. His dad was supposedly trying to go legit, but his brother is not, and what exactly did Cole have to do with anything? There’s also a little bit of melodrama in Maddox’s past. (Small SPOILER ALERT for a content warning: there’s talk of miscarriage in the book.) But listen, I don’t read action romance for the accuracy or relatability. None of this bothered me enough to diminish my enjoyment of the book!

This was an excellent story from a new author, and I cannot WAIT to read more.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Final Hour

four-stars


Tagged: , , , , ,

Review: Bad Reputation by Stefanie London

Posted March 11, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 9 Comments

Review: Bad Reputation by Stefanie LondonReviewer: Rowena
Bad Reputation (Bad Bachelors, #2) by Stefanie London
Series: Bad Bachelors #2
Also in this series: Bad Bachelor (Bad Bachelors, #1)
Publisher: Sourcebooks, Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: August 7, 2018
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 379
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
one-star
Series Rating: two-stars

Wes Evans, son of Broadway royalty, just wants to achieve something without riding on his family's coattails. Too bad the whole world is talking about his sex life after the notorious Bad Bachelors app dubs him "The Anaconda." But when he sees a talented ballet dancer, he knows she is exactly what he needs to make his show a success.

Remi Drysdale only had one thought when she fled Australia for New York--never mix business with pleasure again. Ever. She gets the perfect chance to reclaim her career when a handsome stranger asks her to audition for his show. Remi promises herself not to tangle with the guy who holds her career in his hands...no matter how enticing his reviews are on the Bad Bachelors app...

Bad Reputation is the second book in Stefanie London’s Bad Bachelors series and it follows the heroine from Bad Bachelor’s friend Remi. Remi is a ballet teacher whose dream of dancing in a ballet company is dashed by bad decisions and assholes in the company and because of those past experiences, Remi walks away from that culture and those people. She is doing good things for the dance studio that she works for and though she thought she moved on from that life when she gets a shot to dance in a new production, she can’t help but jump right back into the thick of that life.

Wes Evans quit the family business to go his own way. He has plans to start an off-Broadway show and it’s an uphill battle. When he finds his female lead at his niece’s ballet class, things start to look up but something is keeping her from shining in the way that he pictured and so he takes it upon himself to help her get over the mental blocks that are tripping her up. Things are complicated with his female lead because there’s a strong attraction brewing between the two of them and jumping in there is just not in the cards, which sucks for him but it is what it is.

The romance in this book is complicated because the heroine had legit hang-ups about mixing business with pleasure and her hero is part of her business. So I understood her reservations, even supported them but I really struggled with the way that she struggled with her performance on the job. There’s a bit of mystery surrounding the hang-ups she had but they came out in a clunky way that had me rolling my eyes because while I understood that she couldn’t be with Wes because of those hang-ups, not knowing the entire story behind her hang-ups and why it was part of her performance anxiety made me less patient with her performance issues. Does that make sense?

I also had issues with something that Wes does that pissed me off and it was just one more strike against my enjoyment of this book and that’s before we get into the same issues that I had with the whole Bad Bachelor thing. It comes up again and just interferes with Wes’ hard work and the career that he’s trying to build for himself and once again, there was not enough remorse from the owner of Bad Bachelors that I just kept right on being pissed the fuck off. In Bad Bachelor, Reed was getting bad reviews from salty exes but in this book, Wes was getting rave reviews because of his big dick and honestly, that was just gross but the thing that royally pissed me off is that Remi went to the owner of Bad Bachelors and asked her to take a review down that was hurting Wes and could quite possibly cancel Remi’s show. It was a dishonest review and Remi explains all of this and the bitch owner had the audacity to say…no. There wasn’t any evidence that the review was not an honest one and her hands were tied so there’s really nothing she can do. Bitch, you own the damn site. Remi is one of your friends. She is going to lose her job because of your bitch ass app. I’m sorry but if it were my friend, you need that shit gone, it’s gone. No question. I do not give a shit if it was honest or not, if my work is hurting my loved ones, the shit will be gone and I would not give two shits who is pissed off about it because that’s what being a friend is.

Honestly, who the fuck needs enemies when they have friends like this bitch?

Another thing that pissed me off in this book was the so-called friendship between the three heroines in this series. Mainly, it’s the heroine of the third book who is the owner of Bad Bachelors but I didn’t understand why the other two friends stayed friends with her, were loyal to her. In Book 1, she shows her ass and Reed catches her and she doesn’t do enough to make up for the mess that she was responsible for in regards to Reed’s personal life. In fact, she tells Reed and Darcy to keep her secret from Remi because she didn’t trust Remi to keep shit quiet? I’m sorry but those rules don’t apply to your close friends. If you can’t trust that your close friends will keep your secrets, why the fuck do you have close friends? She wasn’t keeping the secret to protect them, she was keeping those secrets because she didn’t trust that they’d keep their mouths shut and that just rubbed me the wrong fucking way. The only thing that I liked in this book outside of seeing Remi fix her relationship with her mother and seeing Wes fix his relationship with his own mother was that in the end, Remi and Bad Bachelor Bitch are in a strained friendship right now. Their relationship should be on the rocks. Bad Bachelor Bitch proved that she doesn’t have your back and you don’t need that kind of negative shit in your life so good for your Remi.

This book wasn’t for me, can you tell?

Grade: 1 out of 5

Bad Bachelors

one-star


Tagged: , , , , , , ,

Review: Bad Bachelor by Stefanie London

Posted March 7, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Bad Bachelor by Stefanie LondonReviewer: Rowena
Bad Bachelor (Bad Bachelors, #1) by Stefanie London
Series: Bad Bachelors #1
Also in this series: Bad Reputation (Bad Bachelors, #2)
Publisher: Sourcebooks, Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: March 6, 2018
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2019 GoodReads Challenge, Rowena's 2019 New to Me Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars
Series Rating: two-stars

Everybody’s talking about the hot new app reviewing New York’s most eligible bachelors. But why focus on prince charming when you can read the latest dirt on the lowest-ranked “Bad Bachelors”—NYC’s most notorious bad boys.

If one more person mentions Bad Bachelors to Reed McMahon, someone’s gonna get hurt. A PR whiz, Reed is known as an ‘image fixer’ but his womanizing ways have caught up with him. What he needs is a PR miracle of his own.

When Reed strolls into Darcy Greer’s workplace offering to help save the struggling library, she isn’t buying it. The prickly Brooklynite knows Reed is exactly the kind of guy she should avoid. But the library does need his help. As she reluctantly works with Reed, she realizes there’s more to a man than his reputation. Maybe, just maybe, Bad Bachelor #1 is THE one for her.

I read this book last week and needed to sit on my thoughts for a little bit because though I enjoyed the romance between Reed and Darcy, this book is problematic as hell and more than once, things that happened and people that are introduced pissed me off so much that I had to keep walking away and coming back because I wanted to punch a bitch in her fucking rat face.

So this series follows three friends as they fall in love with the men from the Bad Bachelor’s App. The Bad Bachelor’s App is an app that was created for the women of New York to rate and review their exes. It’s kind of like a Yelp for the Men of New York. It was created as a way for women to rate and review the men of New York. To warn other women against the bad guys and give thumbs up for the good ones.

Reed McMahon is a PR Rep for one of the big PR firms in New York. His job is to turn his client’s image around when they’re down in the dumps and he’s worked his ass off to be one of the top reps for his firm. He’s good at what he does and he’s made a good life for himself working there. He dates a lot but hasn’t settled down and honestly has no plans on settling down with anyone. He’s got his reasons for this and those reasons are pretty legit reasons but did that matter to the women that reviewed him on the Bad Bachelor’s App? Nope. Not one bit. Reed is annoyed that his personal life has been made the topic of girls night out dinners all over New York but it’s an annoyance that he can ignore…until it starts creeping into every aspect of his life. Until it starts messing with his work, with his family, and the new relationship that he didn’t even know he wanted. When he starts working with a local librarian to try to save the library that she works for, as a favor to his assistant, things really heat up for Reed.

Darcy is working with Reed to save her library from ruin. She needs to raise money to save programs, to fix up the building and everything else that comes with working at a public library. She’s busy enough as it is, she doesn’t need to be attracted to the more notorious bachelor in the city but the more time she spends with Reed, the more she starts to realize that maybe Bad Bachelor’s got it wrong this time around. Reed isn’t the person that these women are reviewing. He’s so much more than that and the more she gets to know him, the worse she feels for the way that the app is messing with his life.

I will say that London’s writing style is easy to follow along with because I really enjoyed the romance that blossomed between Darcy and Reed. I enjoyed getting to know them on their own and seeing them get to know each other. Their relationship blossomed in a believable way and I was happy to see them develop feelings for each other. Sure, they weren’t perfect but to me, not being perfect is actually pretty perfect but as much as I enjoyed these two and seeing them fall for each other, I had such a hard time with the whole Bad Bachelor thing.

It took me so long to read this book because I kept having to walk away from the story to calm my ass down because of the whole thing with Reed and the Bad Bachelor App. Without giving too much away, Reed finds out who is behind the app when the app started messing with his life. It’s never mentioned that Reed was a cheater or that he abused any of the women that he slept with. He never even lied to these women. He was upfront about what they were doing and so I thought it was pretty unfair that his life was flipped upside down because of hurt feelings. So Reed finds out who’s behind the app and the lack of remorse that she showed Reed and the shitshow his life became because of her app left me with a bad taste in my mouth. I didn’t like the way that that part of the story ended and because of that, it tainted my enjoyment of the overall story.

It always comes back to this for me…

Your crappy childhood isn’t an excuse to be a crappy person. Your crappy luck with relationships isn’t an excuse to be a crappy person. Your crappy experiences aren’t an excuse to be a crappy person. We all have our crap, and you can either let it define you or grow from it.

I’m just about done with the second book in this series and I don’t even know how I’m going to get through book 3 because ugh, the shitty shit show is still going strong and the woman behind it all just keeps getting deeper and deeper on my shit list. So while the romance was pretty great and the characters were wonderful, the Bad Bachelors app is a huge part of this story and that shit was not okay with me so I can’t give this book more than 3 stars. I just can’t do it.

Grade: 3 out of 5

Bad Bachelors

three-half-stars


Tagged: , , , , , , ,

Guest Review: Crazy Cupid Love by Amanda Heger

Posted February 22, 2019 by Jen in Reviews | 5 Comments

Guest Review: Crazy Cupid Love by Amanda HegerReviewer: Jen
Crazy Cupid Love by Amanda Heger
Series: Let's Get Mythical #1
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: January 29, 2019
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 416
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Eliza Herman has spent years avoiding her calling as a Descendant of Eros. After all, happily-ever-afters are a myth. But when a family crisis requires her to fill in at her family's Cupid-for-hire shop, Eliza finds herself enchanting couples under the watchful eye of her mentor, Jake Sanders.

After Eliza accidentally enchants Jake instead, they set rules to keep his arrow-struck desire at bay. But some rules are meant to be broken, and before long Eliza is rethinking her stance on true love...until they discover a conspiracy that could destroy thousands of relationships--including their own.

Want to know a sure fire way to get me to read your book? Describe it as “Percy Jackson for romance fans” and I WILL buy it with lightning speed (see what I did there?). Crazy Cupid Love is lighthearted and funny and does indeed have some echoes of my beloved Percy Jackson, albeit for grown ups. There are some hiccups, but overall it’s a promising start to new series.

In the world of this book, there are descendents of Greek gods living in our times. Most of them hide their true nature; the only ones who have been “outed” to mortals are the Cupids–descendants of Eros who can do love enchantments. Eliza Herman comes from a long line of Cupids, and her parents and brother own a family business selling love enchantments. Eliza, however, is not a part of the business. She is seemingly hopeless at all of it, and her life has been spent accidentally enchanting people with disastrous consequences. When circumstances force her to join the family business for a while, she has to turn to her childhood friend and fellow Cupid Jake Sanders for help getting the necessary state license. Jake has long had a crush on Eliza, but when she accidentally enchants him, it seriously complicates her personal and professional life. Even worse, just when Eliza thinks she’s finally getting the hang of being a Cupid, she finds out there are bigger problems afoot.

What I liked most about this book was the world building. We’ve seen books about descendents of gods before, but this still managed to feel fresh and interesting. I especially enjoyed the love enchantments. The enchantments don’t turn people into mindless zombies who are unable to resist. Cupids don’t so much make people fall in love as just temporarily supercharge whatever attraction/pull they may already feel towards each other. Even better, when Jake accidentally gets enchanted I totally appreciated that he a) stays fully aware of what happened and b) still retains his self control. He doesn’t get overbearing and start pressuring her to do anything. He has been enchanted before and knows how to handle it, and he’s pretty matter-of-fact about it. In other words, he doesn’t fall in love with Eliza because of the enchantment, though that does enhance things. I really liked that.

I also really liked Eliza and Jake. Jake in particular is pretty dreamy. He’s hot and smart and funny, and I like that he has goals to help make the world a better place. The book is mostly told from Eliza’s point of view, but there are a handful of very short chapters in Jake’s perspective. It was a little unusual, but I liked that we heard from him so we could tell how he really felt, since Eliza spent much of the book misreading the situation. I liked Eliza as well. She’s funny but a bit hapless, and she’s a major klutz. For me it didn’t get too ridiculous, but I suspect for other readers it might be too much. The one aspect of Eliza I didn’t love was how she let her confidence be destroyed for so long. Most of her family was not particularly supportive, and I wanted her to stand up to them more.

There were some other things I didn’t love about the book, too. While I liked the world building that did exist, I wanted some aspects of the world to be fleshed out more (Jake’s former job, the Council thing, what other Descendents are/what they can do, etc). I also thought Eliza’s family was pretty one-note. I couldn’t understand why her supposedly close brother never stood up for her, or why he didn’t tell her about any of the stuff happening with the family business. Her mom treated her pretty cruelly and constantly belittled her for most of the book, but then she does a huge 180 at the end that didn’t make sense. The drama with her parents marriage also felt forced, simply there to give Eliza a weak reason to drag her feet with Jake. That was probably my least favorite part of the book–how long it took Eliza to commit. I could believe Eliza might not be a strong believer in love–I assume her line of work would encourage cynicism–but it went on too long. Jake was literally perfect and made it clear what he wanted. It was hard to believe that once the enchantment wore off Eliza wouldn’t accept that everyone’s feelings were real and that they could try and build something together. There is a valid reason for her acting pretty irrational towards the end of the book, but she spent a big chunk of the earlier book waffling for no good reason as well. It got a bit frustrating.

And yet…I had so much fun reading this book. I laughed out loud on many occasions, and I really liked seeing Eliza and Jake end up together. My head would probably grade this book a 3, but I so enjoyed my afternoon reading this that my heart wants to give it a 4–I’m averaging that out to a 3.5. I am interested to see what this author will do with this premise in the future.

Grade: 3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars


Tagged: , , , , , , , , ,

Review: The One You Fight For by Roni Loren

Posted January 2, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: The One You Fight For by Roni LorenReviewer: Rowena
The One You Fight For (The Ones Who Got Away, #3) by Roni Loren
Series: The Ones Who Got Away #3
Also in this series: The Ones Who Got Away, The One You Can't Forget
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: January 1, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

How hard would you fight for the one you love?Taryn Landry was there that awful night fourteen years ago when Long Acre changed from the name of a town to the title of a national tragedy. Everyone knows she lost her younger sister. No one knows it was her fault. Since then, psychology professor Taryn has dedicated her life's work to preventing something like that from ever happening again. Falling in love was never part of the plan...

Shaw Miller has spent more than a decade dealing with the fallout of his brother's horrific actions. After losing everything―his chance at Olympic gold, his family, almost his sanity―he's changed his name, his look, and he's finally starting a new life. As long as he keeps a low profile and his identity secret, everything will be okay, right?

When the world and everyone you know defines you by one catastrophic tragedy...How do you find your happy ending?

Roni Loren strikes again. She writes a captivating romance about two people with difficult pasts, coming together in love in such an emotional way. This wasn’t an easy book to read because it deals with the aftermath of a school shooting, years later, both characters are adults but they’re still struggling with the events of that day. The heroine is a victim, she lost her sister in the school shooting and her family has never completely healed from her sister dying and the way that she died. So throw in that the man she falls in love with is the shooter’s brother? Yeah, you get it.

Right from the very beginning, I was invested in this series. I thought it was such an interesting premise for a bunch of books to be centered around a school shooting, and dealing with that traumatic event years later when each victim and survivor were adults. The previous books featured victims from the school shooting so we saw how the shooting shaped who they were, saw them overcome individual obstacles to finally move on and stop letting that day dictate their lives. This book tackles the other side, the guilt of a family member of the school shooter.

I really enjoyed both Taryn and Shaw’s characters. I thought they were interesting people on their own with Taryn turning to psychology to try to help the cause by preaching preventative actions rather than reactionary ones and Shaw’s guilt really hit me. I mean, how often do people think about the people on the other side of the coin? Shaw carried a lot of guilt for what his brother did and seeing him try to navigate his life and the lengths he went to carry on was pretty intense. My heart hurt for him because he seriously paid for crimes that weren’t his but he took the punishment day in and day out because he felt that he deserved it and man, that was a punch to the gut for me. Seeing them come together, fall in love, and then find a way to be together with everything against them made for some intense reading and I thought Loren handled their story well.

This isn’t a perfect story. It isn’t an easy story either. There were times in the book where I wasn’t a fan of how things were handled but for the most part, I was invested with what was happening. I was invested in who Taryn and Shaw were and the attraction that was building steam between them.

I was torn going on into reading this book because, on one hand, I was excited about Taryn’s story and seeing how things would work out between her, someone who lost a sibling to the horrific actions of Shaw’s sibling. On the other hand, I was scared that because of the issues dealt with in this book, that it wouldn’t be given the care that it needed and deserved but I shouldn’t have worried so much because like I said, Loren handled their story well. I’m glad that I read this book and am pretty anxious to see more from these characters. I recommend.

Grade: 4.25 out of 5

The Ones That Got Away

four-stars


Tagged: , , , , , , ,