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Guest Review: Highlander Most Wanted by Maya Banks

Posted May 6, 2013 by Ames in Reviews | 1 Comment

Ames review of Highlander Most Wanted (The Montgomery’s and Armstrong’s #2) by Maya Banks.

Genevieve McInnes is locked behind the fortified walls of McHugh Keep, captive of a cruel laird who takes great pleasure in ruining her for any other man. Yet when Bowen Montgomery storms the gates on a mission of clan warfare, Genevieve finds that her spirit is bent but not broken. Still, her path toward freedom remains uncertain. Unable to bear the shame of returning to a family that believes her dead or to abandon others at the keep to an imposing new laird, Genevieve opts for the peaceful life of an abbess. But Bowen’s rugged sensuality stirs something deep inside her that longs to be awakened by his patient, gentle caress—something warm, wicked, and tempting.

Bowen seizes his enemy’s keep, unprepared for the brooding and reclusive woman who captures his heart. He’s enchanted by her fierce determination, her unusual beauty, and her quiet, unfailing strength. But wooing her will take more than a seasoned seducer’s skill. For loving Genevieve, he discovers, means giving her back the freedom that was stolen from her—even if it means losing her forever.

I was in the mood for a Scottish historical romance and decided to pick this one up. I have previously read Never Seduce a Scot and In Bed With a Highlander by Banks so I thought I’d enjoy this one. I thought wrong.

**This review contains spoilers for Never Seduce a Scot**

Genevieve was kidnapped by Ian McHugh on her way to her betrothal’s keep a year ago. Ian is the villain from Never Seduce a Scot. He kidnapped the heroine of that book as well. But he’s killed in that book and so Genevieve is left at his keep, still a prisoner, scarred emotionally and physically from Ian’s abuse.

When Ian was killed, Graeme Montgomery, hero from NSaS, sends two of his brothers as well as two Armstrongs to the McHugh keep to find Patrick McHugh, Ian’s father. Patrick runs away and the Montgomerys and Armstrongs take control of the keep. Bowen, Graeme’s brother, recognizes Genevieve as the hooded woman who helped them find Graeme’s wife in NSaS. She tries to keep her true identity hidden (she’s the only child of another laird) but Bowen discovers the truth quickly. He’s also drawn to her, despite being told by the remaining McHugh’s that she’s no good and actually egged Ian on to kidnap his sister-in-law. And despite the abuse she suffered at Ian’s hands, Genevieve feels safe with Bowen and attracted to him as well.

I had trouble connecting with the story. Genevieve was held prisoner for a year. During that time she was raped and abused by Ian. He even scarred her face so no other man would want her. And the clansmen and women treat her horribly as well (something that’s never resolved). It’s like they blamed her for getting kidnapped and raped. Ugh.

And after a year of that kind of abuse, she knows Bowen for a little while (like a couple days) before she a)feels safe with him and b)jumps into bed with him? I would think that she would have some psychological issues to deal with first. Maybe we’re supposed to think she’s super resilient? I really struggled with how there seemed to be no repercussions to the abuse she went through. And continued to go through at the hands of the McHughs. And then in that year, she doesn’t get pregnant…but after being with Bowen she gets pregnant right away?

The other problem I had was the writing itself. I can’t really explain it except to say that it felt like a debut author’s work. A lot of telling, not a lot of showing. Especially in the emotional aspect of a few characters.

Overall, I feel very meh about this book. I can’t recommend it.  I give it 2 out of 5.

You can read more from ~ames~ at Bookish Ames.

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

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Joint Review: Walking Disaster by Jamie McGuire

Posted May 1, 2013 by Ames in Reviews | 3 Comments

Holly and Ames’ review of Walking Disaster by Jamie McGuire.

How much is too much to love?

Travis Maddox learned two things from his mother before she died: Love hard. Fight harder.

In Walking Disaster, the life of Travis is full of fast women, underground gambling, and violence. Just when he thought he was invincible, Abby Abernathy brings him to his knees.

Every story has two sides. In Jamie McGuire’s New York Times bestseller Beautiful Disaster Abby had her say. Now it’s time to see the story through Travis’s eyes.

The Story:  Travis is a college student who fights underground to pay his way. He’s really good. And he’s very popular with the ladies on campus. And then he meets Abby. She’s unlike the other girls and he makes an effort with her. But they’re just friends at first. Travis wants more and eventually Abby, Pigeon or Pidge as he fondly calls her, gives into the mutual attraction they feel. But the story doesn’t end there. Not at all. There’s so much back and forth between these two that whiplash could be a concern.

Ames: I don’t know what compelled me to request this book for review. Morbid curiosity? I had my issues with Beautiful Disaster so I don’t know what I expected from Walking Disaster. It was a bit of a mess. And it’s definitely not a stand-alone novel. I read Beautiful Disaster and I was still a bit lost at the beginning of this.

Holly: I know what compelled me to read You big jerk. I resisted a few months ago, but when you started emailing me snippets I had to see how bad it was myself.

This book was a hot mess. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but the disjointed ramblings of a strange boy-man wasn’t it. This book is missing the compelling emotion if Beautiful Disaster. While I can’t deny BD had its own set of issues, it was still a compelling read. That wasn’t the case here. None of Travis’ issues are dealt with or addressed…instead they’re glossed over or ignored. Beyond that, the writing itself is a mess.

“She kissed me like she was starving and there was food in my mouth.”


Ames: If you have to call me names to feel better about your lack of self control…go for it. Haha!

I agree with you that the writing was a mess.

“Those eyes floated above her tiny nose, and smooth features.”

I read that and I started laughing. There’s an email forward going around about high school writing and this reminded me of that email.

And some writing decisions the author made about this retelling left me scratching my head wondering what happened. Like literally, what just happened that Travis was even referring to? Interactions between Travis and Abby were so glossed over I could barely make sense of what was happening. This definitely cannot be read as a stand-alone novel and that really makes me question the point of telling this story from Travis’ pov. It honestly didn’t add anything to the saga of Travis and Abby.

Holly: You just don’t want to admit you’re a jerk. But it’s ok, we know. 😉

That’s the quote that made me decide to read it. I had to see how bad it was.

I agree about this not being able to read as a standalone. There’s no way it would have made sense if I hadn’t read Beautiful Disaster. Even having read BD I was still confused a lot of the time.

I like how McGuire skipped over a lot of Travis’ angry, quasi-abusive behavior from BD. Like when he hits that one guy with a chair in the cafeteria? I think she makes a reference to “some other things happening”.

I’m not sure what the point of this was, either. Why retell the story from his POV if it isn’t going to add anything to the original story, or move the plot forward.

Speaking of..want to talk about the prologue and epilogue?

Ames: Ok, the chair incident – I knew there was something missing!! He definitely had some anger issues. And it wasn’t good-alpha behavior either, this was definitely on the red-flag side. And I didn’t like his desperation whenever he thought he was going to lose Abby either. Like he went into full on panic mode. I really didn’t want to see that side of him.

The prologue was so non-essential to the story. I think it was meant to set up why Travis is the way he is, but that was so far off the mark. And the epilogue? Wrong wrong wrong on so many levels.

Holly: Oh yeah, his major freak-outs whenever she walked away from him were really disturbing. Especially when he totally destroyed his apartment. Yikes.

The prologue was ridiculous, yes. It was written in a really disjointed way. I had no idea what was even going on or why it was included. All his talk of Vultures and Pigeons in the beginning were confusing, too.

The epilogue made me laugh out loud.

I felt like this was a giant FU from the author to all those readers who were concerned about the violent and abusive nature of their relationship in Beautiful Disaster. Even people who loved BD were concerned when they got married in the end. It read to me like McGuire was thumbing her nose at all those concerns.

Ames: And seriously, three years old and he remembered all that stuff? I don’t know…

I have to agree with you about that epilogue. And yet it just left me with more concerns for Abby in the end! He’d been lying to her for their whole marriage so far!

Holly: Exactly!

I’m still not sure why I read the whole thing. Morbid curiosity? In the end, it was just a disaster.

1 out of 5

Ames:  I grade it the same, 1 out of 5.

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

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Guest Review: Protecting What’s His by Tessa Bailey

Posted April 29, 2013 by Ames in Reviews | 0 Comments

Ames’ review of Protecting What’s His by Tessa Bailey.

She’s running from the law, and the law wants her bad.

The opportunity was just too damn delicious for Ginger Peet to pass up. The purse full of money she finds—$50,000 to be exact—could give her and her teen sister the new start they need. So she grabs the cash, her gothy sibling, and their life-sized statue of Dolly Parton, and blows outta Nashville in a cloud of dust. Chicago, here we come…

Turns out, Chicago has some pretty hot cops. Hot, intense, naughty-lookin’ cops like Derek Tyler, who looks like he could eat a girl up and leave her begging for more. And more. Tempting as he is, getting involved with the sexy homicide lieutenant next door poses a teensy problem for a gal who’s on the lam. But one thing is certain—Derek’s onto her, and he wants more than just a taste.

And as far as he’s concerned, possession is nine-tenths of the law.

I liked Protecting What’s His despite a few problems. The heroine, Ginger, is fed up with her old life in Nashville. Her mother is an addict and she’s been taking care of her younger sister forever. She’s the one who makes sure there’s food on the table. And when she sees the wad of cash in her mom’s purse, she thinks about how that can provide a new life for her and Willa, her sister. So she grabs the cash and heads to Chicago. She finds a nice apartment that would have been out of there budget otherwise and has a run-in right away with her neighbor.

Derek Tyler is hungover and heading to a funeral for a fallen cop. He’s definitely not in a receptive mood to some loud girls moving in next door. So his first impression? Not the greatest. Derek and Ginger butt heads immediately. But there’s a heavy dose of attraction thrown into that mix that heats things up quickly. The more Derek gets to know Ginger, the more he wants her. And he realizes pretty quickly that she’s not like any woman he’s known before and that he’s definitely rusty on the relationship stuff. For her part, Ginger wants Derek but because of how her mother was when it came to relationships, she has a very real fear of ending up like her and she doesn’t really trust herself enough to go for it.

I liked that Ginger’s fear of commitment had a solid basis. Her mother is definitely a screw up and Ginger doesn’t want to end up that way. She wants to provide a safe and supportive environment for Willa to finish growing up in – a far cry from the first 17 years of Willa’s life. But Derek gets in through that armor around her heart, something she denies.

And Derek. He was never interested in relationships in the past, but Ginger changes that for him. And he’s a strong alpha hero. As a cop (lieutenant in fact) he has the possessive, take charge streak a mile wide. Which was hot. As much as he tried to take over Ginger’s life, she gave him attitude and definitely kept him on his toes. That balance is important – Ginger is no dishrag. She’s got a spine of steel and she’s not afraid of Derek seeing it. I really liked the dynamic between them. Derek isn’t perfect though – he definitely makes his mistakes, but he’s new to the relationship game. And the sex? Hot stuff! LOL

My issues were somewhat minor. The length felt too short. So that kind of rushed things. Like I felt they fell for each other a bit fast. Despite that I don’t doubt that they did fall in love. And there’s a pretty pointless scene with a woman from Derek’s past. Other than that, I enjoyed this book. 4 out of 5.

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

You can read more from ~ames~ at Bookish Ames.

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Guest Review: After Hours by Cara McKenna

Posted April 22, 2013 by Ames in Reviews | 0 Comments

Ames’ review of After Hours by Cara McKenna.

A dangerous infatuation with a rough and ready man…

Erin Coffey has been a nurse for years, but nothing’s prepared her for the physical and emotional demands of her new position. Needing to move closer to her dysfunctional family, she takes a dangerous job at Larkhaven Psychiatric Hospital, where she quickly learns that she needs protection—and she meets the strong, over-confident coworker who’s more than willing to provide it.

Kelly Robak is the type of guy that Erin has sworn she’d never get involved with. She’s seen firsthand, via her mess of a sister, what chaos guys like him can bring into a woman’s life. But she finds herself drawn to him anyway, even when he shows up at her door, not eager to take no for an answer.

What Erin finds even more shocking than Kelly’s indecent proposal is how much she enjoys submitting to his every command. But he can’t play the tough guy indefinitely. If they want to have more than just an affair, both will have to open up and reveal what they truly need.

I saw a lot of positive buzz for this book around blogland and it caught my eye, that cover is hot! And After Hours definitely lived up to the buzz.

Erin Coffey is an LPN who’s only patient so far was her elderly grandmother. Now that her grandmother has passed, Erin needs a job that’s close to her sister and nephew. That job is at Larkhaven, a psychiatric hospital. On her first day, Erin meets Kelly, whom she mistakes as a patient at first. He’s a big bruiser of a man with scars and a buzz cut. But Kelly is an orderly. With his size, he’s able to help the doctors and nurses with the more recalcitrant patients. Erin is intrigued by him but she sees in him the kind of guys her sister and mother would fall for – not good.

But the more Erin gets to know him, the more she wants him. Even thinking he wouldn’t be good for her, she is tempted. And Kelly would tempt anyone. He’s a big guy who tells it like it is but he doesn’t do it in a cruel way. I’m not going to say he’s sensitive, but he has a good grasp on situations, which is a good thing in his line of work. And he wants Erin, and he lets her know it, in explicit terms. At first Erin is turned off by his straightforward attitude, but when he tells her he wants to screw her nine ways to Sunday and do it his way, Erin eventually gives in. She is tired of the burdens she carries (she rescues her sister frequently from a douchebag ex) and she just wants to not worry about things for a while and be selfish. And Kelly gives her that. In a good way.

But Erin isn’t done making assumptions about Kelly, despite everything that goes on between them.

I liked Erin and Kelly’s story. Erin was an interesting character – she was very guarded and a bit cynical. She saw the kind of guys her sister and mother went through and she doesn’t want that. She sees Kelly like that at first but yes, she starts to let him in a little bit and it scares her. I wasn’t annoyed though or felt that she held onto her misconceptions too long.

And Kelly. Whew! He’s that alpha guy who pushes you out of your comfort zone just enough to make things interesting and he’s sexy as hell. I liked his style. He was very upfront about his desires but he wasn’t inflexible. I thought the sex between these two was scorching and it wasn’t gratuitous at all.

If you’re looking for a super hot but sweet romance, I recommend After Hours. 4 out of 5

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

You can read more from ~ames~ at Bookish Ames.

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Guest Review: Wrecked by Shiloh Walker

Posted April 9, 2013 by Ames in Reviews | 0 Comments

Ames’ review of Wrecked (Barnes Brothers, Book 1) by Shiloh Walker.

In the nineties, Abigale Applegate and Zach Barnes were the most beloved sitcom child stars in the world. Then they grew up and left Hollywood behind…

Whatever happened to Abigale Applegate?

She’s been wondering the same thing.

With her Hollywood dreams long gone, Abigale now has a nice, neat, uncomplicated life—until the day her perfect fiancé needs to talk. Dumped, a little more than shattered, and totally confused, Abigale turns to Zach, her best friend since forever, to help her pick up the pieces. He does it with a gift—a copy of Wreck This Journal. She can vent her frustrations, and sketch out a new plan. Zach just hopes he’s part of it. Because he’s been in love with Abigale his entire life.

When the journal falls into Zach’s hands, he discovers Abigale wants a new man. And fast. Nothing more than a hot distraction. Zach has a strategy, too. He’s going to be that man. It’s his last chance. Abigale might be out to shake up her life, but Zach’s out to reinvent it. Now, all he has to do is convince Abigale that life can go as planned.

When I first heard about this book, I knew I wanted to get my hands on it ASAP.  And my anticipation was definitely rewarded.  I really enjoyed Wrecked.

First is the whole friends to lovers thing. I love it! Zach and Abigale became friends when they both starred in a comedy sitcom as teenagers. This is also when Zach fell in love with Abigale, something he thought he would outgrow, but nope, never happened. Wrecked is about how Abigale falls in love with Zach, and it all begins with that journal he buys her because as her best friend, Zach knows Abigale writes lists compulsively.

Second is sexual chemistry. Wowzers! It begins with tension, sexual tension. When the blinkers come off Abigale’s eyes and she sees what’s right in front of her, but she has to pretend his sexiness is not right there because if things went bad it would ruin their friendship! (sidenote: Why do heroines imagine the end before the beginning has even begun?) Then there’s the inevitable giving into the lustful urges. And oh my do they have some built up urges! I loved how spicy hot they were together. It was extra good because they already loved each other.

Third is the friendship. At the heart of this tale is how close Zach and Abigale are. That’s what makes friend to lovers plots so satisfying. There’s already a bond and the falling in love makes it stronger. *sigh* I loved their friendship.

But Wrecked was not without some issues. I was kind of tired of all the secret crushes. Zach loved Abigale, someone loved Zach and then that someone had someone loving them. Enough already! LOL And part of the conflict at the end stems from Abigale catching that first someone making the moves on Zach and her freaking out over it. I honestly felt that that part was overdone, just a wee bit. But these were minor issues.

I really enjoyed Zach and Abigale’s story and I highly recommend it. 4.25 out of 5.

You can read more from ~ames~ at Bookish Ames.

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

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