Tag: 2.0 Reviews

Guest Review: The Devil’s Thief by Samantha Kane

Posted October 8, 2018 by Tracy in Reviews | 2 Comments

Guest Review: The Devil’s Thief by Samantha KaneReviewer: Tracy
The Devil's Thief (The Saint's Devils #1) by Samantha Kane
Series: The Saint's Devils #1
Publisher: Loveswept
Publication Date: November 12, 2012
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 297
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
two-stars

In Samantha Kane’s sensual tale of wicked passion, a desperate woman must resort to burglary—but the beautiful thief ends up stealing the heart of a rogue. 

The daughter of a reformed jewel thief, Julianna Harte knows a thing or two about stealth. When the foundling home she provides for finds itself in dire financial straits, Julianna is forced to do the unthinkable. In a bit of misguided Robin Hood derring-do, she slips through the window of a wealthy rake to search for a treasure she knows is there: an invaluable pearl. But when the towering and very naked occupant of the moonlit bedroom ambushes her with a bargain—a night in his bed in exchange for the pearl—Julianna doesn’t know if it’s masculine heat or sheer desperation that makes his terms so tempting.

Alasdair Sharpe had no intention of keeping his end of the bargain. Planning to offer his little cat burglar carte blanche instead, he promptly loses himself in the delights of unexpected pleasure. But when he awakes the next morning to find his family heirloom gone, fury quickly replaces sensual languor. Of course, Alasdair is more than willing to use seduction to reclaim his stolen pearl—and find the key to Julianna’s heart.

Julianna started a foundling home in a bad part of London with her father some time ago and it’s now in dire straits.  She hasn’t kept up with the rent, spending what little money they had to buy things for the children, like food and clothing.  Now the building has been sold and the new owner is demanding the back rent or they will be evicted.  Julianna doesn’t want to ask her father and his new wife for the funds fearing that she’ll be told to stop working with the children (she doesn’t really know her new step-mother so she’s unsure of her reaction to Julianna working in such a bad area).  She takes matters into her own hands and turns to thievery.

This may seem like it’s a bit far-fetched, but her father was a thief and she learned the art from him.  Now that he’s married to a respectable woman he has stopped his thieving ways, but Julianna decides she’ll steal this one time to get the money she needs. She decides to steal the Stewart Pearl (a pearl that has been in the Stewart/Stuart family for years)  – owned by the man who lives across the street.  Unfortunately when she’s exiting his room with the pearl in hand, she’s caught by the man himself.

Alasdair Sharp is shocked when he realizes the thief trying to steal his pearl is a woman.  He’s intrigued, however, and though he can’t see her properly he decides that he’ll make a bargain with her.  He tells her that he’ll give her the pearl in the morning if she spends the night in his bed. Even though Julianna already has the pearl she agrees to the night in his bed. Imagine how shocked Alasdair is when he wakes up and the pearl and the girl are both gone.

Julianna hocks the pearl to a very disreputable man.  Since the pearl is so well known, however, it’s her only choice.  When Alasdair starts following her (along with his friends) trying to figure out what she’s done with the pearl, they get to know each other better.  This causes Julianna to have second thoughts about pawning the pearl and now she’s determined to get it back. Of course the only way to do that is to steal it.

This was a book that I requested from NetGalley back in August of 2012.  I remember trying to read it back then and at that time I just couldn’t get into it.  I really liked Kane’s Brothers in Arms series, so I was surprised that this book wasn’t working for me.  I decided to try again and while I got through the book it really didn’t work for me.

The first scene where Julianna is caught and given the bargain was ridiculous.  I’m sorry, but I couldn’t help but roll my eyes.  Alasdair finds a thief in his room and instead of calling the watch he starts running his finger around her face and collar bone?  Really? I don’t think so. He asks why she wants to pearl and she says she needs it to pay the rent.  When he sleeps with her he gets immediately attached and in his mind is making plans to go shopping with her in the morning and make this woman his mistress. WTF?  He didn’t even know her name yet but he’s making plans for the future? (I mentioned this to Holly and she said he has Captain Save-a-Ho complex. LOL)   I guess he thought that’s his version of compensation as he had no plans to give her the pearl.

The sex scene is one of the most humorous I’ve read in a while.  Yes, she was a virgin and doesn’t tell him, so he thinks she’s experienced.  He doesn’t move gently and when he discovers that he just took her virginity he wants to pull away but can’t make himself do it.  She doesn’t want him to stop so she wraps her legs around him.  What happens then you ask? Well, “he slid farther into her exquisite cavern.”  Cavern?  How big is it in there?  Is there anything less sexy?  Then he immediately thinks about how tight she is. Make up your mind!   Alasdair’s disgruntled because he feels she lied to him about her experience but she never told him she was a virgin, right?.  He says to her that he thought she wanted it and she says to him that she did, indeed, want it.  He then asks her if she only slept with him to get the pearl – like that was really in question.  Duh!  She was stealing it, of course she wants the pearl you stupid man! He is then shocked and says something like you should have told me that you needed it that badly.  What?  I WAS STEALING YOUR FAMILY HEIRLOOM, YOU NUT! How badly did you think I needed it?  I laughed through this whole scene because it was just sheer entertainment – absolutely nothing sexy about it.

Anyway, the story involves Alasdair trying to find out who the thief is so he goes to his friends.  It is mentioned that these friends were Saint’s Devils.  Being book 1 in a series I have no idea who or what those are.  Is this a spin-off from another series?  No idea and nothing was explained about it. The friends play a big roll in the book but it kind of felt like Sherlock Holmes and Watson.

Alasdair was angry for a large portion of the book and then he was claiming he was in love.  I personally didn’t see anything that would have caused these two people to love each other except lust.  Their characters never talked about who they were as people or got to know each other better.  I just didn’t buy the HEA I was given.

Rating: 2 out of 5

The Saint’s Devils

two-stars


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Guest Review: Wicked Dark Dragon by Lolita Lopez

Posted October 1, 2018 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Wicked Dark Dragon by Lolita LopezReviewer: Tracy
Wicked Dark Dragon (Dragon Heat #3) by Lolita Lopez
Series: Dragon Heat #3
Publisher: Forever Yours
Publication Date: March 3, 2015
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 128
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
two-stars

Adopted a few weeks after birth, Ivy Morales suspects that she might not be totally human. Fully aware that one whisper of such insanity would land her in a mental institution, she keeps the outlandish thought to herself. But there's no ignoring the increasingly vivid and stunningly powerful dreams of an ancient blood feud that plague her nightly—or the darkly erotic turn those dreams have recently taken.

Drawn to Mexico for Spring Break, Ivy unwittingly stumbles right into the path of the same evil presence from her mysterious dreams. Kidnapped and held hostage, she has only one chance to survive. She reaches out to the wickedly sexy man from her dreams and prays he'll answer her call for help.

Welsh dragon shifter Ian Madoc struggles to understand the strange dream connection he shares with this unknown woman. In all his centuries of life, he's never experienced anything like it—and it unsettles him. When the dreams turn to pleas for help, Mad rushes off in the middle of the night, hell-bent on saving the young woman he fears may be his mate.

But rescuing Ivy from the clutches of the Knights is only the beginning of Mad's problems. When Ivy's true identity is revealed, old secrets and a close friend's betrayal put him at odds with the rest of the Brotherhood. Protecting the dragon species is no longer his top priority. He'll do anything to keep Ivy safe, even if it means walking away from the only life he's ever known.

Ivy is in Mexico with a friend when she’s kidnapped.  While she always thought she was a little different from other kids, she had no idea until getting kidnapped that she was half human and half dragon. The people who took her are the Knights who are the enemies of the dragons.  They’ve taken Ivy to try to get info from her mind and also to try and get her mate, or who they think is her mate, to come rescue her.

Her mate is Ian Madoc and he’s a dragon.  He does come to Ivy but gets caught.  In that time Ivy is tortured and the Knights try anything to try and get Ivy and Mad to mate.  Ivy and Mad can only speculate as to why they want them to become mates. Once they’re rescued can Ivy and Mad have a relationship when everyone around them is trying to use them?

I really love dragon shifter romance novels, so I had high hopes when I picked this one up.  Sadly, it was not to be.

First off, I really liked Ivy.  She seemed like she had a good head on her shoulders and was willing to protect those she believed were worthy.  She had endured almost 3 weeks of torture before Mad showed up and then more after he arrived.  She tried to do what was right and I liked that about her. She was the child of a Knight/dragon mating so she had ancestors on either side of the fight and wasn’t sure where she belonged.  Since her aunt was the one who was torturing her she decided to be on the side of the dragons.

Mad showed up where there were holding Ivy and he was in his dragon form.  Why he couldn’t defeat the puny humans while a dragon was never explained but he was then captured.  I kept thinking it was on purpose, but was it?  He had left word for his friends but then they didn’t show up for 12 days and it was never explained what the delay was – it was strange.  The pair

Mad and Ivy finally mate after they’re rescued but then it was because they were betrayed by other dragons.  These people are his friends but they betray him?  IDK, it just didn’t ring true to me.  There were always so many ideas flying through the book about why everyone wanted them to mate, and Ivy had a vision about it, but we’re not told until the very end of the book what the exact reason was.  By that time I truly didn’t care what it was, I just wanted the book to end because it was slow and boring (even the sex scene was bad, imho).  Maybe if I had felt a deeper spark of connection between Mad and Ivy I would have overlooked some stuff, but their relationship felt dull and not something I would think of as an HEA.

Another thing that made me crazy was that these dragons kept shifting in the house and moving around rooms!  What?  How? These must be the smallest dragons ever.  At one point Mad shifts inside a bedroom and can still move around to try to get away from Ivy’s seduction!  No wonder he couldn’t beat the puny humans – he’s apparently the size of a toy chihuahua!

Needless to say, the dragons didn’t work for me.  I didn’t care for the H/h and the other dragons were kind of assholes, so I really didn’t like them either. I won’t be picking up any other books in this series.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Dragon Heat

two-stars


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Guest Review: How to Mend a Broken Heart by Amy Andrews

Posted September 19, 2018 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: How to Mend a Broken Heart by Amy AndrewsReviewer: Tracy
How to Mend a Broken Heart by Amy Andrews
Publisher: Harlequin Medical Romance
Publication Date: September 1st 2012
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 134
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
two-stars

Facing her estranged husband Fletcher was always going to be heartbreaking for nurse Tessa King.

Especially as Fletcher has one last favour to ask – with his mother critically ill, he needs Tessa to pretend tragedy never tore their marriage apart. Impossible when your husband’s the one man it hurts your heart to touch...but the one man you can’t resist...

Fletcher and Tessa were madly in love with each other at one point.  After the accidental death of their toddler they divorced, and Tessa insisted on no communication whatsoever.  They had been living in Brisbane, Australia but Fletcher had ended up moving to Canada and Tessa to England.  Tessa returns on the anniversary of her son’s death to visit his grave.  Fletcher, unbeknownst to Tessa, has been watching every year.  He hates the fact that they’re divorced and wants Tessa back in his life.

Fletcher approaches Tessa with a proposition – she stays in Brisbane to help him take care of his mother, who was at one point a second mother to Tessa, who now has Alzheimer’s disease.  The mom, Jean, thinks that Tessa and Fletcher are still married and has no clue that they ever had a child.  Fletcher’s sister is usually Jean’s caregiver but she’s pregnant and on bed rest so Fletcher took over.  Since Tessa takes care of elderly Alzheimer patients in England, Fletcher believes she’s the perfect fit.  On top to that, he’ll have Tessa in his life again.

This book.  I’m not even sure where to begin this review.  I guess I’ll start by saying that I didn’t like the book.

Tessa was the one who asked for the divorce. She was grieving the death of her son, Ryan, and couldn’t handle even being around Fletcher.  She wouldn’t talk about Ryan and just tried to get through each day.  She didn’t support Fletcher at all and now, 10 years later, she’s just now seeing how selfish she’s been when Fletch finally says that he’s sick of not talking about his son. I got his frustration. I really didn’t like Tessa at all (even before that Fletch said that).  I got that she’s grieving and has horrible guilt about it all, but she’s not the only one who lost a child!  Maybe that makes me callous, but I don’t think so.

Fletcher seemed like a good guy at first, but I hated that he used his mentally ill mother to get Tessa to stick around.  Really? sigh Then of course he insists that she stay with him in case his mother wakes up in the night and he conveniently only has 2 bedrooms.  You can guess where this is going, they end up having to share a bed. Let me add that Fletcher moved down 9 out of 10 spaces in my opinion when he does a reveal of something that happened 9 years prior.  Why was this added???  Was there not enough drama?  Apparently not.

The book was slow, depressing, and a complete emotional drain.  There was seriously not one happy part in this book.  Even when there was a chance for the author to make Tessa see that she could take care of a child (Fletcher’s nephew) and have no issues, Andrews had the child sick and Tessa having to call an ambulance to save his life.  It was just too much! I can’t recommend this book at all as I didn’t like it, but if you want to be ripped apart emotionally then go for it.

Rating: 2 out of 5

(This was a 1 star read for me but it wasn’t badly written, so I gave it another star.)

 

two-stars


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Summer Reading Challenge DNF Review: The Bourbon Kings by J.R. Ward

Posted September 7, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 4 Comments

Summer Reading Challenge DNF Review: The Bourbon Kings by J.R. WardReviewer: Holly
The Bourbon Kings (The Bourbon Kings, #1) by J.R. Ward
Series: The Bourbon Kings #1
Also in this series: The Bourbon Kings, The Bourbon Kings, The Angels' Share, Devil's Cut
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication Date: July 28, 2015
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 434
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
dnf

For generations, the Bradford family has worn the mantle of kings of the bourbon capital of the world. Their sustained wealth has afforded them prestige and privilege—as well as a hard-won division of class on their sprawling estate, Easterly. Upstairs, a dynasty that by all appearances plays by the rules of good fortune and good taste. Downstairs, the staff who work tirelessly to maintain the impeccable Bradford facade. And never the twain shall meet.

For Lizzie King, Easterly’s head gardener, crossing that divide nearly ruined her life. Falling in love with Tulane, the prodigal son of the bourbon dynasty, was nothing that she intended or wanted—and their bitter breakup only served to prove her instincts were right. Now, after two years of staying away, Tulane is finally coming home again, and he is bringing the past with him. No one will be left unmarked: not Tulane’s beautiful and ruthless wife; not his older brother, whose bitterness and bad blood know no bounds; and especially not the ironfisted Bradford patriarch, a man with few morals, fewer scruples, and many, many terrible secrets.

As family tensions—professional and intimately private—ignite, Easterly and all its inhabitants are thrown into the grips of an irrevocable transformation, and only the cunning will survive.

Casee chose this as a book for me in our Summer Reading Challenge. I listened to the audio. I managed to slog through 30+ chapters. If I were close to the end I’d probably finish it, because I want to know if my thoughts about where the plot is heading are right, but there’s still 20 chapters to go. I just can’t. Though I DNF’d it, I’m giving it two stars because the writing was smooth and I enjoyed the narrator.

Beware: Spoilers Abound! Also, lots of curse words! You’ve been warned.

This is a straight up soap opera. The Bradford/Baldwines are a family of Bourbon makers. The operation is huge and long-standing. There are 4 kids. Edward, Max (who we only hear about in passing in this book), Lane and Virginia (Gin for short). The book beings with Lane returning to his family’s estate, Easterly, after a two-year absence because the woman who raised him is deathly ill. He and his TRUE LOVE, Lizzie, fell in love over the course of a summer, then his ex, Chantal, showed up pregnant and he ended up marrying her instead. So Lizzie hates him because he broke her heart (even though she didn’t get the full story from him and jumped to conclusions about his actions). She works at Easterly still, and naturally they see each other as soon as he returns. He’s been gone for two years (ever since he married the wife…he only married her because she was pregnant and he regretted it immediately, esp since she went and had an abortion like a month later). He’s been sticking his head in the sand and refusing to deal with any of it, until he sees Lizzie again and realizes he’s a fucking dumbass for not divorcing his dumbass wife immediately (or better yet, not marrying her at all).

That part of the story isn’t bad. It’s pretty lame and high-schoolish, but whatever. I actually like Lane.

The problem is each of the siblings get chapters in this book. Edward, the oldest, got kidnapped 2 years ago during a business trip to South America and was tortured nearly to death. He’s barely healed now. He’s in constant pain and left running the Bourbon company in favor of taking over the racehorses the family owns. He’s an alcoholic and a recluse who just so happens to be in love with their largest rival’s daughter..someone he can never have. So he hires prostitutes who look like her to come out once a week to service him and wallows.

Gin had a baby at 17 and oops, sort of forgot to tell baby daddy, who she still hate fucks on a regular basis. Only she also fucks everyone else. The more married, the better. Then dear old dad tells she has to marry some old dude who will secure them a lucrative business contract. She’s like “Fuck you” and leaves, so he cuts off all her money and has her arrested for stealing a car. Then they (Lane and Gin) discover that dear old dad has somehow managed to put them $53 million in debt and they have no money. So she goes and begs Baby Daddy (who still doesn’t know he’s a baby daddy) to marry her. Only he turns her down. Because hello she’s a viperous bitch. So now she DOESN’T KNOW WHAT TO DO. Oh, you know what she’ll do? Marry skeevy guy her dad tried to force her to marry. He rapes her after she agrees and she just cleans up and goes on about her business. Because that’s what she deserves and honestly, it’s better than being broke. Then Baby Daddy comes back and says she’s right, they love each other and should get married. Except, oops, she’s already engaged to skeevy, rapist dude. Honestly, I’m kind of interested in Samuel T, the Baby Daddy, and how things progress with him and Gin. But not enough to read through three books.

But wait, there’s more…

Remember the unwanted pregnant wife, Chantal, who got an abortion? Turns out she’s pregnant again. This time with HIS DAD’s kid. If Lane doesn’t stay married to her and pass the kid off as his own, she’s going to tell his mom about it…and Mommy Dearest is a very “fragile” woman who lives in a drug-induced haze, so it would probably kill her. Oh, and guess what? Silly Lane didn’t get a prenup.

That’s where I stopped. I just can’t take any more. I mean, if this was almost the end and he was throwing the wife out and getting with the TRUE LOVE, okay. I could finish it. But there’s still twenty chapters left. And this isn’t even the end of the story..the next two books are just continuations of this one. So, nope. I just can’t.

For all my complaining, the story was very well written and I can’t deny it grabbed me and made me want to see what happens next. If the book had been 100 pages shorter, I’d probably have finished it – and read the next two as well.

DNF

2 out of 5 for what I did read.

The Bourbon Kings

dnf


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Guest Review: The Howling by Erin McCarthy

Posted June 26, 2018 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: The Howling by Erin McCarthyReviewer: Tracy
The Howling by Erin McCarthy
Publisher: Kensington
Publication Date: June 26, 2018
Format: eARC
Point-of-View: Third Person
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 100
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
two-stars

For six months the nightmares have been chasing Liv Lugaru out of her sleep. The same terrifying dream, the same fevered wolves panting after her, their hot breath getting closer and closer as a full moon hangs heavy in the night sky—until she wakes up drenched in sweat, with her fiancé, the brother of the man who broke her heart, gazing down at her . . .

Six months ago, Sebastian was almost killed by his brother in a power struggle within their werewolf pack. His disappearance opened the way for his brother to console Liv, win her trust . . . without ever telling her of their true heritage. Now Sebastian is ready to reclaim his rightful place—to rise up with the moon and claim the only woman he’s ever loved . . .

Liv has been having dreams for the past six months about wolves.  In the dream it seems to be her as the central figure, but it’s set in the 19th century so she’s confused.  She chalks it up to nerves because of her impending wedding.  A wedding to Scarborough, the brother of the man who disappeared on her six months ago, along with all her money.  Scar had been there for her and when he’d asked her to marry him, she thought it was the best idea.  After these dreams she’s thinking that maybe marrying him wasn’t such a great idea.

Sebastian, the man who broke Liv’s heart, didn’t just disappear.  He was attacked and left for dead and has been recovering and in hiding since that time.  Now that Scarborough is out of town he can finally talk to Liv and tell her how much he loves her, and they can live happily ever after.  But when Liv finds out who she really is, and what exactly happened to Sebastian, Liv’s life changes forever.

This was a super short book that is a reprint.  It was previously in an anthology called The Beast Within but is now being republished as a standalone novella.  I didn’t realize when I started reading that this was a reprint and lo and behold, I’d read it before.  I did finish it the second time so that’s a point in its favor.

The story almost feels like you’re being dumped into a book that’s already in progress.  I didn’t like that at all and while it wasn’t confusing, I did find it frustrating.  This can’t really be termed a romance novel because the H/h are really already in love and have just been separated.  More of a reunion story, imho.

The scenario that Liv found herself in might have been more interesting if this had been a longer story.  Add Sebastian in first, have Scar come along and take over, then have the H/h reunite.  That would have been awesome.  I also think that because this was so short that not a lot of depth was added to the characters and that was disappointing.

In the end I found this to be just an ok read.

Rating: 2 out of 5

two-stars


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