Tag: 1.0 Reviews

Retro Review/Rant: Can’t Stand the Heat by Louisa Edwards

Posted April 12, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 15 Comments

Retro Review/Rant: Can’t Stand the Heat by Louisa EdwardsReviewer: Holly
Can't Stand The Heat by Louisa Edwards
Series: Recipe for Love #1
Published by Macmillan
Publication Date: September 1st 2009
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary
Pages: 368
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one-star

For sharp-tongued food critic Miranda Wake, the chance to spend a month in Adam Temple's kitchen to write an exposé is a journalistic dream come true. Surely Miranda can find a way to cut the hotshot chef down to size once she learns what really goes on at his trendy Manhattan restaurant. But she never expected Adam to find out her most embarrassing secret: she has no idea how to cook.

Adam's not about to have his reputation burned by a critic who doesn't even know the difference between poaching and paring. He'll just have to give the tempting redhead a few private lessons of his own—teaching her what it means to cook with passion...and doing more with his hands than simply preparing sumptuous food.

*****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 review/rant was originally posted on October 29, 2009.

WARNING: This review contains a major rant about the heroine. It will contain strong language and spoilers for the story. Read on at your own risk.

I’ve mentioned before that I generally have a dislike for heroines who are journalists. I’ve made some exceptions, but generally I try to stay away from novels featuring them, because I know I have a personal bias and I don’t want that to color my reading experience. I chose to pick this one up anyway because Miranda Wake is a food critic, rather than an investigative journalist (the type I generally have the biggest issues with). Also? It’s a foodie book and I’m a huge foodie.

I went into this expecting one thing, and got something else entirely.

Miranda Wake is a bitter food critic who desperately wants a book deal. On the pre-opening night of a new restaurant, Market, she gets blitzed and has it out with the Exec Chef and Owner, Adam Temple. She hasn’t even had his food yet, but she’s already spouting off about how he’s pretentious and his food sucks. So he challenges her to spend just one night in his kitchen, thinking to shut her up. Only she accepts.

Then his investor gets together with her editor and they decide she’ll stay for a month. Which is when she gets a book deal; she’s to write a book “dishing” about Adam Temple and what really goes on in his kitchen. While Miranda is busy digging up dirt on Adam and the entire staff, she finds herself falling in love with him. Which I completely understood, because I adored Adam.

He was sweet and adorable, with a strong sense of right and wrong. He was probably the best part about this book. I loved that even though he had preconceived notions about Miranda he set them aside and judged her on his own observations. I loved that he was tough but fair in the kitchen. I loved that he hired chefs based on their merits as cooks, rather than their diplomas or schooling. He had a somewhat gruff exterior, but inside he was kind and loving.

I absolutely adored the secondary characters. The entire kitchen staff came alive for me. I really felt like I was right there with them, laughing and joking and cooking fabulous food. They were a rag-tag bunch, but they really brought flavor and spice to the story.

As a side story, Miranda’s younger brother, Jesse, turns up from college (somewhere in the Midwest) saying he’s not going back. He gets a job at Market working as a server. As it turns out, he’s gay and falls in love with one of the sou chefs, Frankie, which Miranda hates. She thinks Frankie corrupted and tempted her poor straight brother into being gay.

I thought the story with the brother was cute, though I did struggle with his age quite a bit. He’s only 19. The problem is I wasn’t as bothered by that as I felt I should have been. Especially since Frankie is quite a bit older than him. Why is it that I’m willing to forgive a 19yo hero when he’s gay, but wouldn’t forgive a 19yo heroine (in a contemp) regardless? Once I got past that, though, I really enjoyed his part of the story.

So at this point in the book Miranda comes off as bitter, cynical and jaded. She’s also a complete control freak. Which is fine. I could have dealt with that if it had been one of the centerpieces of the story – how Miranda grew up. Unfortunately I didn’t find that to be the case.

Because at the end? She SAYS SHE LOVES HIM AND STILL SUBMITS THE FUCKING BOOK.

WHAT THE FUCK!?!?!?!?!

Her reason for doing so? She needs the money so she can pay for her brother to go to NYU. The problem? She only wants to pay for it to get him away from Frankie so he’ll go back to being “normal” instead of “gay”. Not only that, but he specifically told her he didn’t want her paying for his tuition. He said he wanted to be a responsible adult and contribute something himself. I understand that she wanted to help him as much as she could, but she SOLD OUT THE MAN SHE LOVED AND ALL HIS FRIENDS/EMPLOYEES to do it.

WHAT THE FUCK?!?!?!?!?!

And the best part? The only person she has to rely on and go to for support during this whole thing with her brother is Adam. She leans on him and lets him support her and SAYS SHE LOVES HIM AND THEN SELLS HIM OUT IN A CHEAP FUCKING BOOK!

WHAT THE FUCK?!?!?!?!?!

The thing is, I loved everything else about the book. The kitchen setting, the secondary characters, the hero. I even loved that the author included some of the recipes she used in the book (I’m sooo going to try them). I’m trying to decide if the heroine ruined the book for me, or if I can move past what she did. Right now I’d probably grade it:

3 out of 5 for the overall story, setting and characters
Bold
1 out of 5 for the heroine (maybe even a -1)

I did enjoy parts of it enough to want to read the next book in the series, On the Steamy Side, which will be available March, 2010.

Book CoverBook Cover

This book is available from St. Martin’s. You can buy it here or here (I’m not including a link to buy in e-format b/c I think St. Martin’s has terrible e-pricing. The paperback is $6.99 but the e-book is $14. WTF St. Martin’s? W.T.F?).

one-star

Review: Solo by Jill Mansell

Posted January 23, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Solo by Jill MansellReviewer: Rowena
Solo by Jill Mansell
Published by Sourcebooks, Sourcebooks Landmark
Publication Date: January 1st 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 480
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"Mansell's...gentle humor and enormous heart always ensure a treat for her readers." -RT Book Reviews for Making Your Mind Up 4 Stars
It all starts at a party, as these things often do...
- A one-night stand with far-reaching consequences - Momentarily enamored guests going home with all the wrong people- An unfaithful wife struck by jealousy and getting a dose of her own medicine- A shocking family secret revealed at the worst possible moment
One fling follows another, and now the whole community is embroiled in a great big web of deceit, the untangling of which will charm you, amuse you, make you laugh and make you cry.
Whatever's going on in your life, Solo by Jill Mansell is the perfect distraction right about now...
"A graceful blend of heartbreak, humor and redemptive love." -Kirkus for The Unexpected Consequences of Love

Jill Mansell is a master at writing contemporary romances set in English small towns. They’re always filled to the brim with characters, storylines, and laughter. This book was no different…except that the more that I read this book, the more pissed off I got. The different stories worked for me and while I was more invested in Max and Holly, I was still interested in what was happening with everyone else. Everything was going swimmingly until about halfway through and the stuff that worked was still happening with no kind of growing happening. There was a lot of infidelity, a lot of boneheadedness and the characters that showed promise in the beginning, I started to hate.

Ross and Tessa drove me nuts, I wanted to knee Max in his balls every time he went running back to that old hag, hurting Holly in the process and then the whole thing with Antonia, Richard, Mattie, Grace, all of it made me either roll my eyes around the room or seriously pissed me off. I was Team Max for Holly until he kept right on hurting her because then he stopped deserving her. Same with Ross. I was frustrated with Tessa’s inability to ride things out. She was always running away and that annoyed the snot out of me.

By the time the end came, I was glad to be done with these characters. Ross was a huge disappointment, and while Max came around, I thought Holly let him off the hook too easily. The character that I probably liked the most was Grace. Her story was funny because she fell in love with her Dad before she knew that he was her Dad and then once she found out, she was so grossed out. That was funny.

Overall, this was a miss for me. It started off great but kind of veered off into the OMG what the hell is going on right now? land. I just couldn’t get behind all of the dumbass antics of everyone involved. Such a disappointment.

Grade: 1 out of 5

Guest Review: His Innocent Sweetheart by Paula Jane

Posted December 22, 2016 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: His Innocent Sweetheart by Paula JaneReviewer: Tracy
His Innocent Sweetheart by Paula Jane
Published by P&P Publishers
Publication Date: August 12th 2016
Genres: Contemporary
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one-star

Rachel is doing just fine for herself after being promoted to the post of Hotel Manager at The President, the same hotel where she met Hollywood’s hottest action hero Matthew Harrison five years ago. After a night of unrestrained passion with her, Matthew unfortunately met with a serious accident that almost robbed him of his life.

Matthew is all set to go back to Marlos after five years, the same place where he’d braved that fatal accident. A meeting with the newly appointed manager of the hotel where he’s staying throws his mind into a tizzy. Has he met her before? Why does she resent him so much? And why the hell does his body seem to go out of control whenever she’s near him?

Matthew is determined to find answers to these questions, but how?

Our story opens with Rachel, who is a supervisor at a hotel, having to go deal with a Hollywood action star, Matthew, who is a guest at the hotel.  He’s displeased with his food and she’s asked to try and resolve the issue.  When she gets to his room he’s instantly attracted to her and asks her to have dinner with him.  Despite being against the rules she’s allowed to do that and they end up in bed together.  He gets in an accident the next day and Rachel never sees him again.

Cut to five years later and Matthew is returning to the island where his accident occurred.  The accident had caused him to forget the 24 hours prior to his accident and he feels like he’s missing something that he should remember.  It’s bothered him for five years and he’s determined to figure it all out.

Where do I begin?  The writing was stilted and amateurish which made this hard to read.  The story was very short, thankfully, so I didn’t have to endure the writing for long.  If it wasn’t short this would definitely have been a DNF for me.  This was supposed to be a love story but the H/h fell in bed together with virtually no build up and no chemistry between them – I didn’t feel the attraction much less anything like emotions. (Oh, and of course she was a virgin but that’s kind of mentioned after the fact.) Having had no chemistry, it was hard for me to believe that Rachel and Matthew fell in love and had been pining for each other.  (Of course Matthew didn’t know he was in love because he couldn’t remember those 24 hours.)

The amnesia aspect of this was so far-fetched, imho.  It just so happens that he can remember everything in his life except the 24 hours that Rachel was in his life and he happened to fall in love?  Really?  I just didn’t buy it and the author certainly wasn’t selling it. I usually try to find good aspects about all of the books that I review. I’m sorry to say that I just couldn’t find one in His Innocent Sweetheart and can’t recommend it.

Rating: 1 out of 5

one-star

Review: Four Letter Word by J. Daniels

Posted October 12, 2016 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Four Letter Word by J. DanielsReviewer: Rowena
Four Letter Word by J. Daniels
Series: Dirty Deeds #1
Published by Forever
Publication Date: October 4th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 416
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one-star

"Love! That's the four letter word to describe how I felt about this unique, sexy story. J. Daniels' hottest book to date."---Penelope Ward, New York Times bestselling author

Fate. Hate. Love. Lies.Which four letter word will change their lives forever?

Sydney Paige was never so mortified to hear the words "wrong number" in her life. She meant to tell off the guy who broke her best friend's heart, but unleashed her anger on a perfect stranger instead. And now her world is turned upside down by the captivating man who wants to keep her on the line.

Brian Savage is living a life he's quickly come to hate-until Sydney's wild rant has him hooked and hungry for more. Soon the sexy woman on the phone becomes the lover in his bed. But Brian has secrets, and the closer he lets Syd get, the harder it is to shield her from the devastating mistakes of his past . . .

****SPOILER ALERT: This review is probably going to be riddled with spoilers so if you plan on reading this book, BEWARE!****

Four Letter Word is the first book that I’ve read by J. Daniels and while I wasn’t a fan of this book, I am curious about the next book in this series and I do want to read it. Go figure.

So this book starts off with the heroine’s husband telling her that he wants out of their marriage. She’s shocked as hell but she doesn’t need to be told twice. She packs her stuff up and takes off for her best friend’s house. They become roommates and Sydney (the heroine) begins moving on. When her best friend comes home in tears because she found out that her boyfriend isn’t the man she thought he was, Sydney does her a solid by calling up the boyfriend and cussing him out, only she called the wrong number and the guy on the other end of the phone call is intrigued by this crazy lady who got the wrong number. Ha!

The story had potential based on the premise. It was a good starting point for a romance but I found myself annoyed at every turn while reading. Sydney spends a huge chunk of the book in a phone relationship with Brian (the hero). Their relationship grows with every phone call and text message exchanged. Feelings develop and Sydney falls more and more the longer they talk. Brian feels exactly the same way but he’s determined to keep their relationship as it is. On the phone and not physical. He’s got his reasons for wanting to keep their relationship as it is and I even understood where he was coming from but that didn’t stop the two of them from getting on my hot damn nerves.

Sydney wants more from her relationship with Brian and is hurt when he shuts her down. The night he shuts her down, she takes off to a Lady Gaga concert and is determined to have fun and forget everything but when she gets a phone call from a friend from her old (married) life, things take a turn for the worse. This was probably where my frustration with the heroine really popped off. I don’t know if it’s because I’m older or what but I found Sydney so stinkin’ immature. You see, when she shows up at the concert, it’s Brian’s rejection that hurt her. She’s mad at Brian. She’s over everything. The phone call that she got was about her soon to be ex-husband Malcolm. He’s moving on too and now, all of a sudden Sydney cares about Malcolm. She calls Malcolm and goes off on him and says things to him that had me fed up with her because…bruh, really? You’re mad at Malcolm for doing the exact same shit that you’re doing with Brian? It’s not cheating when you do it though??

Brian wasn’t safe from my frustrations either. His issues with Owen, I got that. Him not wanting or thinking he deserved to be happy is something I understood too. I didn’t agree with it but I understood the sentiment behind the actions. My issues with him were his hot and cold attitude he had going with Sydney. They could talk about anything and everything and they can develop feelings for each other but they couldn’t meet in person. I thought that was dumb but what I really didn’t like were all of the secrets that he kept from Sydney. He has this side job that he hates, it’s an internet side job and we all know that the internet is forever. This side job was a secret that he kept from Sydney, a secret that he didn’t want her to find out about because he wanted to “protect” her from that ugly part of his life and while that’s stupid, that’s not what pissed me off about that whole thing. What pissed me off was that these two finally meet face to face for the first time and they have unprotected sex and she has no clue about the side job that he should have told her about BEFORE the unprotected sex. By the time that happens, I was completely done with pretty much the whole thing. There was way too many things that bothered me while reading this one that I just couldn’t even deal with all of the dumb ass shenanigans.

I’m still a little curious about the next book in this series but I wonder if those two would drive me up the wall the same way these two did. Probably. After putting this book down, I started to wonder if maybe I’m getting too old to read these NA romances but then I think about my love for the Ivy Years series by Sarina Bowen, the Grid Iron series by Jen Frederick, and some of the other NA series that I absolutely adore and think, maybe not.

Overall, this book just didn’t do it for me. I was seeing a lot of good reviews for this book and those reviews on top of the synopsis was what piqued my interest. Too bad the book was a disappointment for me.

Grade: 1 out of 5

one-star

Review: Just One Week by Alice Gaines

Posted September 15, 2016 by Rowena in Reviews | 4 Comments

Review: Just One Week by Alice GainesReviewer: Rowena
Just One Week by Alice Gaines
Published by Entangled: Lovestruck
Publication Date: September 12th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
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one-star

Her brother’s best friend is not only the hottest man Michelle Dennis has ever seen, he’s the reason she left town eight years ago. Of course he’s the one waiting at the airport. Worse, he made sure they’re staying in the same house.

Alex Stafford is expecting to pick up his friend’s kid sister, not a full-fledged bombshell. He was planning to apologize for their past, but the feelings he had years ago come roaring back…and this time, there’s no denying them.

Keeping his hands off is a test he’s bound to fail—especially when they’re stuck in close quarters. But falling in love with Michelle, living in her world, isn’t an option for a guy like him. And remembering that will save them both a lot of heartache…

I was really interested in reading this book after reading the synopsis. I’m a total fan of the brother’s best friend trope so I was pretty excited to get this one read. I’m sad to report that this book just didn’t work for me. At all.

Our heroine, Michelle returns to the place that always felt like home after being away for 8 years. She went away to college and then after college, she went to some more school and then she got a job working across the country so she hasn’t been home. Everyone knows that she ran away and that her brother’s best friend Alex Stafford is the reason.

Alex’s parents are celebrating their 35th wedding anniversary and his father’s birthday and Michelle is expected to attend the party. It’s a big deal for them and Michelle doesn’t have the heart to not be there. Alex’s parents were like parents to her and they loved and supported her when her own parents wouldn’t so out of respect for them, Michelle comes home. She was expecting to spend the entire trip home acting casual around Alex but things don’t always go the way you plan, especially when Alex shows up at the airport to pick you up and won’t let you hide from things you want to hide from.

Alex is determined to mend the relationship between him and Michelle. He won’t get a more perfect opportunity to do that so the time for fixing things is now.

Sounds good, right?

Sadly, I never connected with anyone in this book. Not even any of the secondary characters. There was a lot of potential but the story never took off for me and the dialogue between the hero and the heroine didn’t feel right. It wasn’t authentic or real, at least that’s how I felt. I felt like I was reading what my grandma thinks guys in the NFL sound like. He thought and said things like, “What the f?” and “Holy cow” like he was a 12 year old juvenile and not a grown ass man in the NFL. He actually screamed the following:

“Damn it,” Alex shouted, “At least, leave me my dignity”

My reaction to that was:

The entire book felt off to me. I couldn’t get into the romance between Alex and Michelle because I thought they were immature and Alex was a whole lot of woe is me that just didn’t ring true for someone who is in the NFL. The NFL is not an easy profession to get into. My nephew is hoping to play in the NFL and he’s got a dominant personality. He’s driven, he’s persistent and he’s bullheaded but none of those characteristics struck me as true for Alex. His whole I’m not smart enough, I’m just a dumb jock attitude rubbed me the wrong way because you’re a grown ass man who grew up with a supportive family, supposedly thriving in a profession that only the top percentage of players in the entire country can even be a part of and I felt like he was more whiny baby than grown man.

Michelle wasn’t any better either. I get her grudge over what Alex did to her all those years ago but aside from that, she was pretty forgettable. I just finished the book and I can’t remember that much about her, other than she worked as a biometric researcher and had a doctorate. shrugs

Don’t even get me started on Kyle, the brother and best friend. His tantrum when he finds out about Alex and Michelle made me roll my eyes and want to bitch slap him into next week.

I just couldn’t with this book and I kept reading hoping that it would get better and that something would click for me but in the end, I was still frustrated and rolling my eyes so this book just wasn’t for me.

Grade: 1 out of 5

one-star