Source: NetGalley

Guest Review: Plus One by Brighton Walsh

Posted November 2, 2018 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Plus One by Brighton WalshReviewer: Tracy
Plus One by Brighton Walsh
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: May 6, 2013
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 68
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Olivia hates the singles scene, so when her best guy friend, Ian, offers to be her plus one to a series of weddings she has to attend, she agrees. Although she doesn't want to complicate their lifelong friendship, she can't pass up the chance to have a steady date without the dating drama. What she doesn't expect is to now find Ian so incredibly sexy.

When Ian sees his old friend Olivia dolled up for wedding #1, the boyhood crush he once nurtured transforms into smoldering attraction. It doesn't take long for their no-strings arrangement to turn physical. But as Olivia's desire to stay "just friends" becomes clear, Ian's feelings are deepening. In the time they have together, how will Ian convince Olivia that one plus one can make for a lifelong pair?

Olivia, Emma and Ian have been best buddies for 20 years. They tell each other just about anything and get each other out of bad situations, like when one is on a blind date and having the worst time ever because their date is talking about cat pee.  This was the case when Ian called Olivia and got her out of her blind date.  Olivia was expecting a call from Emma, but apparently she was busy with her boyfriend so Ian called.  They talk while Olivia is on her way home and one of the topics that comes up is weddings.  Olivia has to either be in or go to nine weddings in the next six months.  She was hoping one of her blind dates would be awesome and she could take him as her plus one, but no luck.  Ian offers to be her plus one and while Olivia is hesitant at first she soon takes him up on his offer.

Ian has been in love with Olivia the entire time he’s known her.  As he got older his puppy love turned into true love, but he was afraid to mess up their friendship.  There was also the fact that Olivia didn’t see him as anything other than a friend.  He even went so far as to move a couple of hours away from her to try and get her out of his system.  While that worked in a way, he never stopped loving her.  Now he’s torturing himself by seeing her on a regular basis for all of these weddings and he can’t help but dream of what it would be like with her.

During one of the wedding receptions Olivia drinks a bit and they come close to kissing but she pulls away.  Ian thinks that he can never make Olivia see him as more than a friend, but she’s already undressing him in her mind.  How can these two take the chance on love without ruining their friendship forever.

This was a short novella but it was good!  I really liked both Ian and Olivia and thought they were adorable together. Their banter was cute and funny.  Like I said, this was a short novella so there wasn’t a lot of plot development. Despite that, I thought the author did a good job of showing us each of the characters in a good light and making us understand their wants and hesitations over the relationship.

One part I thought was needlessly added was Olivia’s friend, and Ian’s sister, Emma.  I’m not sure why she was written in.  She really only served to make Olivia’s uncertainty about the relationship worse because Olivia didn’t want to betray her friend. I got Olivia’s thinking, but it really was just extra and the story definitely could have survived quite well without her involvement.

Overall I enjoyed this story and recommend it if you need a quick read or palate cleanser.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5


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Review: Snowfall on Lighthouse Lane by JoAnn Ross

Posted October 29, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Snowfall on Lighthouse Lane by JoAnn RossReviewer: Holly
Snowfall on Lighthouse Lane (Honeymoon Harbor, #2) by JoAnn Ross
Series: Honeymoon Harbor #2
Also in this series: Herons Landing (Honeymoon Harbor, #1)
Publisher: HQN
Publication Date: October 30, 2018
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
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Lose yourself in the magic, charm and romance of Christmas in the Pacific Northwest as imagined in JoAnn Ross’s heartwarming Honeymoon Harbor series.

Growing up on the wrong side of the tracks, Jolene Harper is forever indebted to the mother who encouraged her to fly—all the way to sunny LA and a world away from Honeymoon Harbor. Although Jolene vowed never to look back, returning home isn’t even a question when her mom faces a cancer scare. Which means running into Aiden Mannion all over town, the first boy she ever loved—and lost—and whom she can barely look in the eye.

Aiden’s black-sheep reputation may have diminished when he joined the marines, but everything he’s endured since has left him haunted. Back in Honeymoon Harbor to heal, he’s talked into the interim role of police chief, and the irony isn’t lost on the locals, least of all Aiden. But seeing Jolene after all these years is the unexpected breath of fresh air he’s been missing. He’s never forgotten her through all his tours, but he’s not sure anymore that he’s the man she deserves.

Despite the secret they left between them all those years ago, snow is starting to fall on their picturesque little town, making anything seem possible…maybe even a second chance at first love.

Snowfall on Lighthouse Lane is book two in the Honeymoon Harbor series. Jolene was the character from the previous book I was most looking forward to learning more about.

Jolene grew up dirt poor with a wonderful mother but an alcoholic father in a small town. As soon as she could she left town and made a life for herself as a makeup artist in California. After an Emmy nomination, things are going very well for her in her career, but after the mother of all bad days – she finds out her boyfriend is engaged to someone else and her apartment burns down – she learns her mother may be sick. She’s been wanting to develop a line of organic beauty products, so she heads back home to Honeymoon Harbor to work on that and be with her mom.

Aiden Mannion was a hellion as a teen, but after a stint in the Marines and several years working undercover with the LAPD, he’s settled down. After his partner was killed in an op gone bad, he’s back in Honeymoon Harbor to lick his wounds and heal. The town needs an interim Sheriff and he reluctantly accepts the job on a temporary basis. He and Jolene have history, and he’s quick to renew their friendship – and more – once she returns to town. But things are never simple in a small town, especially when he’s starting to think he never wants to leave and Jolene has a life several states away.

The small-town of Honeymoon Harbor came to life and I felt a real connection to those who live there. It was clear Jolene and Aiden had a true, deep foundation once they got past their initial awkwardness over their separation. They dated in high school, but broke up right before Aiden left for the Marines. He always regretted not telling Jolene how much he cared for her, and he’s glad to have the opportunity to renew their friendship…and possibly have more. It was lovely how quick he was to recognize Jolene as the only person he wanted in his life. Their romance set off sparks, but was also very heartwarming.

I did struggle a bit with the pacing. Parts seemed to drag on, especially in the middle. The book had a paranormal element I wasn’t expecting that seemed out of place given this is a contemporary romance.

View Spoiler »

Still, I can’t deny I enjoyed those parts, so I guess I can’t complain too much.

Overall I liked the story, though not quite as much as the first book, Herons Landing. JoAnn Ross always writes sweet, lovely stories. This small-town romance delivers in a big way.

3.25 out of 5

Honeymoon Harbor


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Joint Review: Shadow and Ice by Gena Showalter

Posted October 22, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 3 Comments

Joint Review: Shadow and Ice by Gena ShowalterReviewer: Casee, Holly, Rowena
Shadow and Ice (Gods of War, #1) by Gena Showalter
Series: Gods of War #1
Publisher: HQN
Publication Date: October 23, 2018
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 496
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Knox of Iviland, the most ruthless warrior in All War history, has spent his life fighting others to the death, winning new realms for his king. Now the stakes are higher than ever. If he prevails in the battle for Earth, his slave bands will be removed. Victory is his sole focus…until he meets her.

On an arctic getaway with her foster sister, street tough but vulnerable Vale London is shocked to stumble upon a cave filled with ancient gods waging epic combat. When she is inadvertently drawn into their war, she is forced to team up with an unlikely ally—the sexy god who makes her burn with desire.

Though Vale is his enemy, Knox is consumed with lust and a fierce need to protect her. But only one combatant can triumph, and he will have to choose: live for freedom, or die for love.

An evil Council made up of leaders from several warring planets finds new lands and stages an All War, wherein one chosen warrior from their homeland competes to win the new land for his or her ruler. Knox of Iviland has won 4 All Wars to date. His ruler has promised if he wins 5 his slave bands will be removed and he’ll be free. Knox is skeptical that his ruler will truly go through with removing the bands – when he’s wearing them he can’t refuse a direct order from his King – but he has to try so he can exact revenge for the loss of his greatest love.

Vale and her sister are on an Arctic Adventure when they stumble up on a cave filled with life-like statues frozen in ice. Fascinated, they started exploring until the ice unexpectedly melted and the statues came to life.

Casee: I hate to say it because I love Gena Showalter, but I was not a huge fan of this book. I had an extraordinarily hard time getting into it. It only took me a day and a half to read it, but I had to force myself to continue it. It was just a disappointment because I love GS and because this is the start to a new series.

What did you two think?

Holly: Like you, I had a really hard time getting into it. It took me almost 3 days to read. The pacing during the first half of the book was really slow. I liked the premise a lot. The prologue really drew me in. But the next 15 or so chapters were bogged down with a lot of nothing.

Rowena: I was really bored with this one. For too long, I was waiting for something to happen and because I could not connect with any of the characters, even when things started to happen, I was kind of over it and just reading it to finish. I think because it took over half of the book to pick up, and it took me about three days to get to the part where things got interesting, I was a lost cause.

Casee: I really liked the premise too. I found it to be very interesting. Then I realized that it was very similar to Kresley Cole’s Immortal After Dark series where immortals are fighting to the death. After that, I skimmed until something interesting started happening.

What did you think of the characters?

Holly: Vale drove me crazy. Right from the beginning she made all the questionable decisions and acted in a way I didn’t understand. As the book went on I thought she got better, but in the beginning I really struggled with her. I liked Knox a lot more. He was ruthless and cold, but I understood why he had to be that way. I’m curious about some of the secondary characters, but the majority of the book was focused on Vale and Knox, so I’m not as interested as I could have been, if that makes sense.

Rowena: This is the first book that I read by Showalter and at first Knox’s cold attitude turned me off but as the book continued, my feelings toward him changed. I liked the growth we saw in his character and my heart for what his life had become. For all that he lost.

Like Holly, Vale was annoying to me too. Oy.

Casee: I really liked Vale at first. It was after that thing happened that she really became almost unbearable to me.

I agree with Rowena about Knox’s cold attitude. It was hard to deal with. In my mind I kept comparing it to her Lords of the Underworld series and it just fell short. One character that interested me was Erik the Viking.

I feel bad that it was your first time reading Gena Showalter. If it was mine, I doubt I would try another one of her books.

Holly: I think she was unbearable right from the start. Well, from the second she found the ice cave anyway.

I didn’t read the Lords of the Underworld series, so I can’t speak to how it compares, but his attitude was hard to take in the beginning. I warmed up to him, though.

I’m mildly curious about Erik, but he seems like a villain rather than a good guy. I wish we’d gotten more information about the other warriors. The bits and pieces weren’t enough to make me excited for the rest of the series.

Casee: Bottom line, the book was boring af. I really don’t intend to read the rest of the series as it comes out but you know me.

Holly: Thinking about the book the past couple days, I am kind of interested in seeing what happens in the next book. I want to know what’s going on between Vale’s sister and the two other guys, and I want to know what’s going to happen with the All War. But I might let one of you read it first.

I’m giving this a 3 out of 5.

Casee: I forgot about her sister. That is a book that I would read.

I am giving it a 3 out of 5.

Rowena: I’m curious about her sister and why she ended up with the one guy and not the original guy that took her. But aside from that story, I’m just not moved to read anything else. shrugs

For me, this was a 2.5 out of 5. I did enjoy the second half of the book more than the first half and I did sympathize with Knox and want him to find a way to be free but outside of that, I thought the romance was lacking, the world was too gloom and doom without being tough, I just felt that all of those warriors were silly. I do enjoy these kinds of books but this one just missed me with a lot of stuff.

Final Grades

Casee: 3 out of 5
Holly: 3 out of 5
Rowena: 2.5 out of 5

Gods of War


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Review: The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo by Kerrigan Byrne

Posted October 17, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo by Kerrigan ByrneReviewer: Holly
The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo (Victorian Rebels, #6) by Kerrigan Byrne
Series: Victorian Rebels #6
Also in this series: The Highlander
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks
Publication Date: August 28, 2018
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 333
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The bravest of heroes. The brashest of rebels. The boldest of lovers. These are the men who risk their hearts and their souls—for the passionate women who dare to love them…

He is known only as The Rook. A man with no name, no past, no memories. He awakens in a mass grave, a magnificent dragon tattoo on his muscled forearm the sole clue to his mysterious origins. His only hope for survival—and salvation—lies in the deep, fiery eyes of the beautiful stranger who finds him. Who nurses him back to health. And who calms the restless demons in his soul…


Lorelei will never forget the night she rescued the broken dark angel in the woods, a devilishly handsome man who haunts her dreams to this day. Crippled as a child, she devoted herself to healing the poor tortured man. And when he left, he took a piece of her heart with him. Now, after all these years, The Rook has returned. Like a phantom, he sweeps back into her life and avenges those who wronged her. But can she trust a man who’s been branded a rebel, a thief, and a killer? And can she trust herself to resist him when he takes her in his arms?

The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo is the first book I’ve read in Kerrigan Byrne’s Victorian Rebels series. A friend was talking about it and it piqued my interest, so I downloaded it from NetGalley. We saw quite a few of the couples from previous books, but I don’t feel like I missed much by starting here. It read fine as a stand-alone.

Lorelie was crippled as a child and therefore rarely leaves the family estate. When she finds and rescues a young man who’s been beaten nearly to death, she finds sudden purpose for her life. Caring for him becomes everything to her. They fall in love, but he disappears without a trace. For 20 years she longs for him, until one day he returns. But the devilish pirate who returns to avenge her isn’t the same boy she once knew and loved…or is he?

I really loved the first half. The angst and emotion from both main characters really pulled me in, as did the suspense of who, exactly, the boy with the dragon tattoo was. Unfortunately the story lost me somewhere around the halfway point. I think I’d have liked to see less focus on the emotional aspects of the book and more on the action. I know, I know, that’s not something us romance readers generally want. But the purple prose of the love-scenes along with the heavy focus on the “L” word really pulled me out of the story. Plus, the amount of time spent on how each character was feeling made the story feel heavy and bogged down.

I really loved parts of it – most notably the hero’s devotion to his lady – but I’d have liked to see more focus on the outside conflict, and more action.

3 out of 5

Victorian Rebels


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Review: Rebel Hard by Nalini Singh

Posted October 16, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Rebel Hard by Nalini SinghReviewer: Rowena
Rebel Hard (Hard Play, #2) by Nalini Singh
Series: Hard Play #2
Also in this series: Cherish Hard, Cherish Hard (Hard Play, #1), Cherish Hard (Hard Play, #1)
Publisher: Self-Published, Nalini Singh
Publication Date: September 18, 2018
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 409
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New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh continues her Hard Play series with a sweet, sexy romance featuring big, fat, OTT weddings, a meddling grandma, and a too-serious hero who needs to be unbuttoned…

Nayna Sharma agreed to an arranged marriage in the hope it would heal the fractures in her beloved family… only to realize too late that a traditional marriage is her personal nightmare. Panicked, she throws caution to the winds, puts on the tiniest dress she can find, and ends up in the arms of a tall, rough-edged hunk of a man who has abs of steel—and who she manages to mortally insult between one kiss and the next.

Abandoned as a child, then adopted into a loving family, Raj Sen believes in tradition, in continuity. Some might call him stiff and old-fashioned, but he knows what he wants—and it’s a life defined by rules… yet he can’t stop thinking about the infuriating and sexy woman who kissed him in the moonlight then disappeared. When his parents spring an introduction on him, the last woman he expects is her. Beautiful. Maddening. A rulebreaker in the making.

He’s all wrong for her. She’s all wrong for him. And love is about to make rebels of them both.

Rebel Hard is the second book in Nalini Singh’s Hard Play series and it follows the best friends of the couple in book 1 as they journey toward their own happily ever after with each other. We first meet them in Cherish Hard when they meet each other and kiss and kiss and kiss and then Nayna runs away. In Rebel Hard, we find out where Nayna went and what happened with Raj.

I didn’t think that I would like this book as much as I did because Nayna low key got on my nerves in the last book. I didn’t really connect with her running away after every encounter she had with Raj. It felt childish and I didn’t really want or care about reading her story. I’m glad that I changed my mind and read this book because I ended up really enjoying getting to know both Raj and Nayna. Raj was everything and even though Nayna frustrated me throughout this story, I ended up really liking her.

Raj Sen is a traditional man that wants to live a traditional Indian life. He wants a wife and a family to come home to every night and he thinks he found that partner in Nayna Sharma but Nayna is just realizing that living her life being the good and dutiful daughter to her parents has chipped away at her identity. She doesn’t want to be the dutiful daughter. She doesn’t want to live her life for her parents, so that her parents don’t hurt the way that they were hurt when Nayna’s older sister ran away and eloped but she also doesn’t know who she is without family obligations holding her down. So it’s really unlucky for her that she comes to this decision to strike out on her own when she meets the man that she does see a future with.

Getting both Raj and Nayna’s background, their backstory brought their relationship and their romance together for me. I connected with the ties that their culture binds them with. I saw a lot of the Polynesian culture in the Indian one (haha, even the whole kava stuff) and the sneaking around even though you’re a grown ass woman reminded me of the times that I did the exact same thing with my friends. The pressure to marry the right person for your parents, to be the perfect daughter, to not shame your father’s name, I connected with all of that and made Nayna’s story real for me.

I thought Nalini Singh did a great job of writing characters that understood and loved each other, supported each other enough to want them to chase their dreams. I thought Raj was the perfect hero for Nayna and I really, really loved him. Nalini Singh did her thing with this book and I can’t wait to read more of her stuff. She’s one of the good ones.

4 out of 5

Hard Play


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