Tag: 3.0 Reviews

Review: On the Surface by Kate Willoughby

Posted November 26, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: On the Surface by Kate WilloughbyReviewer: Holly
On the Surface (In the Zone, #1) by Kate Willoughby
Narrator: Dee J. Adams
Series: In the Zone #1
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: April 14, 2014
Format: Audiobook, eARC
Source: Purchased, NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 272
Length: 10 hours and 2 minutes
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NHL player Tim Hollander lost his temper one time and threw a water bottle at an abusive fan. After "Bottlegate," he's traded to the San Diego Barracudas, where he'll need to keep the bad publicity to a minimum while proving he can still compete with the younger guys on the ice.

Erin Collier is a pediatric nurse who's never seen a hockey game, but gets in line for Tim's autograph at a PR event in hopes of impressing the doctor she has a crush on. When an obnoxious fan gets pushy toward Erin, Tim rushes to defend the pretty stranger, throwing a punch in the process.

Grateful for the rescue, Erin agrees to stand by Tim during the resulting press conference and host him at a hospital charity event. Their chemistry is palpable, and soon their lives are intertwined. But Erin doubts a hockey player is capable of anything resembling a real relationship. And if Tim can't get her to see beyond what's on the surface, they'll never last longer than a single season…

I requested this book from NetGalley back in 2014 because it’s a hockey book and I love hockey romances. Then I left it languishing for all these years. I’m trying to make a dent in my TBR pile, so I bought the audiobook for my commute. This was a sweet contemporary romance featuring a hockey player and a nurse.

Tim Hollander is nearing the end of his prime in the NHL. After an unfortunate incident with a water bottle, he’s been traded from the Chicago Blackhawks to the San Diego Barracudas. After some initial frustration over the move, he decides to look at this as a fresh start. He puts his all into training and settling into his place on his new team. When a fan gets physical with a woman at his first signing event, Tim doesn’t hesitate to take the guy out. Even though it was the right thing to do, the Barracudas’ PR department isn’t happy that he’s already making trouble. They ask the woman, Erin, if she’d be willing to do a press conference to support Tim.

Erin Collier isn’t interested in hockey at all, but the doctor she’s crushing on at work is. When she sees some players signing gear outside her favorite lunch place, she figures she’ll get in good with the Doc by bringing him a signed hat. When the jerk in front of her starts making trouble and talking smack, she can’t help but call him out. She never expected him to push her down, or for sexy Tim Hollander to come to her rescue. She’s happy to help him out at the press conference. When he develops food poisoning shortly thereafter, she can’t leave him alone. They end up becoming friends and spending a lot of time together. Tim wants more from her, but Erin isn’t sure she’s interested in a relationship.

I really loved the first half of this book. The hero was super adorable and I loved how into the heroine he was. He was just an all around stand up guy. He didn’t play games or present himself to be something he wasn’t. He was just a dude who plays hockey. I loved him. The meet cute between him and the heroine was kind of fun, and I really liked watching them get to know each other.

Toward the middle of the book I started to get kind of anxious about the final conflict, then a little impatient for it. Toward the 3/4 mark the book fell apart. The angst of “I don’t want kids/Oh no, I do” was frustrating. Part of this may be my own personal feelings on the matter (WHY MUST EVERY COUPLE IN ROMANCE HAVE KIDS OT BE HAPPY!??!), but I was so ready for it to end. I wish the kids conflict hadn’t existed.

The hero was sweet and I enjoyed the romance, but that kid thing really killed a lot of my enjoyment.

Had that part been removed, I’d probably give this a 4.25. As it is, I have to give it:

3 out of 5

In the Zone


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Review: Cherish Hard by Nalini Singh

Posted November 21, 2018 by Casee in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Cherish Hard by Nalini SinghReviewer: Casee
Cherish Hard (Hard Play, #1) by Nalini Singh
Series: Hard Play #1
Also in this series: Cherish Hard, Cherish Hard (Hard Play, #1), Cherish Hard (Hard Play, #1), Rebel Hard (Hard Play, #2)
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: November 14, 2017
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 363
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New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh kicks off her new Hard Play contemporary romance series with a sizzling story that’ll leave you smiling…

Sailor Bishop has only one goal for his future – to create a successful landscaping business. No distractions allowed. Then he comes face-to-face and lips-to-lips with a woman who blushes like an innocent… and kisses like pure sin.

Ísa Rain craves a man who will cherish her, aches to create a loving family of her own. Trading steamy kisses with a hot gardener in a parking lot? Not the way to true love. Then a deal with the devil (aka her CEO-mother) makes Ísa a corporate VP for the summer. Her main task? Working closely with a certain hot gardener.

And Sailor Bishop has wickedness on his mind.

As Ísa starts to fall for a man who makes her want to throttle and pounce on him at the same time, she knows she has to choose – play it safe and steady, or risk all her dreams and hope Sailor doesn’t destroy her heart.

For some reason I didn’t read this book when it first came out. I thought it was part of the Rock Kiss series, which I didn’t have any desire to read at the time. So I skipped it. Holly, Rowena, and I started discussing it and they enlightened me that it was not part of Rock Kiss, so I gave it a try. It wasn’t my favorite Nalini Singh book. It’s honestly one of those books that I didn’t have very many feelings about one way or another.

Ísa Rain first sets eyes on Sailor Bishop where she teaches poetry. For some reason or another, she decides to walk up to a complete stranger and kiss him. It could have been for a variety of reasons. She feels that her love life is in stasis. She thinks she’s frigid. She wants some action. Or all of the above. Anyhow, Sailor doesn’t object. What man would? Before he can do anything, she takes off. His landscaping job at her school isn’t complete, so he’s sure he’ll see the sexy redhead again.

The thing is, he’s actually seen Ísa before, when he was a teenager. He was just in high school when he was dragged to a college party. One of his friends friend dumped Ísa is the most humiliating of ways and Sailor was witness to it all. When she ran off in tears, Sailor ran after her but she wouldn’t stop. For seven years he hasn’t forgotten her and he can’t believe his luck when she picks him to kiss. He only knows that he’s not going to let her go a second time.

Ísa does have a say in that however, and she’s not sure what she’s feeling. Sailor is everything she’s ever wanted in a man. Except for the fact that he doesn’t put her first. She can clearly see that he is falling in love with her, as she is with him. Still, he wants to get his business off the ground and that supersedes everything in his life. Including her. Ísa accepts that she will never come first in anyones life. It’s just a fact.

That was very sad to me. Ísa just didn’t think much of herself. After the way her parents treated her growing up, she really didn’t have a reason to. They both loved her, but they would forget her too. They would be there if she needed them for something, but they weren’t there day to day. Ísa was just sad. A sad woman. Sailor eventually pulls through which was really heartening to read. The problem with this book is that I just didn’t really get invested in these characters. Which is a bummer to me.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Hard Play


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Review: Bountiful by Sarina Bowen

Posted November 16, 2018 by Casee in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Bountiful by Sarina BowenReviewer: Casee
Bountiful (True North, #4; Brooklyn Bruisers, #4.5) by Sarina Bowen
Narrator: Seraphine Valentine, Teddy Hamilton
Series: True North #4, Brooklyn Bruisers #4.5
Also in this series: Bittersweet, Steadfast (True North #2), Steadfast, Bittersweet, Keepsake, Bountiful (True North, #4), Speakeasy (True North, #5), Bittersweet (True North, #1), Steadfast (True North, #2), Fireworks (True North #6), Keepsake (True North, #3), Rookie Move, Rookie Move, Hard Hitter, Rookie Move, Hard Hitter (Brooklyn Bruisers #2), Pipe Dreams, Pipe Dreams, Pipe Dreams (Brooklyn Bruisers, #3), Brooklynaire (Brooklyn Bruisers #4), Rookie Move (Brooklyn Bruisers, #1)
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: October 20, 2017
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Romance Package
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 315
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No last names. No life stories. Those were the rules.

Once upon a time a cocky, copper-haired tourist sauntered into Zara’s bar. And even though she knew better, Zara indulged in a cure for the small-town blues. It was supposed to be an uncomplicated fling—a few sizzling weeks before he went back to his life, and she moved on.

Until an accidental pregnancy changed her life.

Two years later, she’s made peace with the notion that Dave No-Last-Name will never be found. Until one summer day when he walks into her coffee shop, leveling her with the same hot smile that always renders her defenseless.

Dave Beringer has never forgotten the intense month he spent with prickly Zara. Their nights together were the first true intimacy he’d ever experienced. But the discovery of his child is the shock of a lifetime, and his ugly past puts relationships and family out of reach.

Or does it? Vermont’s countryside has a way of nurturing even tortured souls. The fields and the orchards—and hard won love—are Bountiful.

I was really looking forward to this book. I’m a fan of reunion stories. I even like secret baby books. This wasn’t exactly a secret baby, but it was as close as you could get without being one. I can’t quite put my finger on what didn’t do it for me. It wasn’t that I hated this book. I didn’t. I didn’t particularly like it. I just sort of feel blah about it.

I listened to this book on audio. The narrators were pretty darn good. Sometimes Dave sounded like kind of a dunce, but I got used to it. He just seemed sort of slow, but I got over that and just let myself enjoy it.

Zara runs her uncle’s bar in a small town in Vermont. She’s kind of bitter after her ex finds someone else so quickly (see Griff Shipley from Bittersweet). She’s basically ripe for a one night stand. Except her one night stand with Dave No-Last-Name ends up being a summer fling. One they agree will end when his time in Vermont ends. Dave is a hockey player for the Brooklyn Bruisers and has no intention of settling down. Zara is a bitter shrew and neither does she have any intention of settling down. That’s before Dave leaves her a bun in the oven. He once mentioned his last name in passing. Even her twin brother, Benito’s law enforcement contacts are unable to find Dave. So she has her baby on her own and keeps the father’s name a secret.

Two years later she is happy. Her baby girl is thriving and she has a new business with (who would have guessed it) Audrey Shipley, her ex’s new wife. Then her her world is thrown into chaos when Dave walks into her new coffee shop. Dave couldn’t be more excited to see her. Zara doesn’t exactly feel the same way. She never planned nor particularly wanted to see Dave again. She doesn’t want to share her daughter, Nicole. She doesn’t know Dave. She doesn’t want to explain Dave to her family. Unfortunately her past has come calling.

Dave hasn’t forgotten Zara in the two years that have passed. He’s blown away when he learns that he has a two year old daughter. It’s abundantly clear when he looks at her that Nicole is his daughter. Before long he’s doing daddy-like things and he couldn’t be happier. The problem is that Zara still doesn’t want more from him than sex. He’s determined to convince her that he is worth taking a chance on.

Zara was a bitter, bitter woman. It was hard to stomach at times. I just didn’t understand her hangups. It was just weird. I couldn’t get past what her issue was. And it was an issue. As much as she overcame her problem with Griff, became best friends with Audrey, and was a wonderful mother to Nicole, I just couldn’t understand why she was so bitter. It was weird. Plus she used Nicole as an excuse more than was acceptable to me.

The ending was real shit. It showed that a couple doesn’t just ride into the sunset. They both had lives outside of each other. She was a business owner. He played professional hockey. They couldn’t just stop their lives. I thought Sarina Bowen did write the ending rather well. Still, this was not my favorite book of the series.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

True North


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Review: Rock Hard by Nalini Singh

Posted November 9, 2018 by Casee in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Rock Hard by Nalini SinghReviewer: Casee
Rock Hard (Rock Kiss, #2) by Nalini Singh
Series: Rock Kiss #2
Also in this series: Rock Addiciton, Rock Courtship, Rock Addiction, Rock Courtship, Rock Hard, Rock Hard, Rock Redemption, Rock Redemption, Rock Redemption, Rock Addiction, Rock Courtship, Rock Hard, Rock Wedding, Rock Wedding, Rock Wedding, Rock Addiction (Rock Kiss, #1), Rock Redemption (Rock Kiss, #3), Rock Wedding (Rock Kiss, #4)
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: March 10, 2015
Format: eARC
Source: Author
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 351
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Wealthy businessman Gabriel Bishop rules the boardroom with the same determination and ruthlessness that made him a rock star on the rugby field. He knows what he wants, and he’ll go after it no-holds-barred.

And what he wants is Charlotte Baird.

Charlotte knows she’s a mouse. Emotionally scarred and painfully shy, she just wants to do her job and remain as invisible as possible. But the new CEO—a brilliant, broad-shouldered T-Rex of a man who growls and storms through the office, leaving carnage in his wake—clearly has other plans. Plans that may be equal parts business and bedroom.

If Charlotte intends to survive this battle of wits and hearts, the mouse will have to learn to wrangle the T-Rex. Game on.

I thought I would enjoy this book far more than I actually did. I really did enjoy Charlotte in Rock Addiction. There was obviously a backstory there and I was very interested in reading her book. Then I read it and I wasn’t interested anymore. I just didn’t care.

Charlotte has been hurt. Violently. Ever since her ex-boyfriend tried to kill her, Charlotte works to control the fear that rules her life. She’s gotten better than she was at first. She can now live by herself. She has a job. She has her best friend Molly. Still, nothing in her life prepares her for Gabriel Bishop. He’s a force of nature that she wants nothing to do with. She’s what she would call happy living in her safe little bubble. Gabriel changes all that.

Gabriel has a talent. He takes over failed companies and turns them around. He loves the thrill and the challenge. When he starts at a new company, he’s not much prepared for Charlotte. She’s nothing like the women he is used to. She’s mousy. She hides her body. She’s just the opposite of everything he’s ever thought he wanted. He was wrong, though. Charlie is everything he’s ever wanted. She’s one of the few people that can not only take his gruffness, but give it back to him.

Charlie is surprised by how comfortable she is with Gabriel. He’s everything she doesn’t want. He’s too big, too loud, can be too mean. Just too much everything. Still, she can’t help her attraction to the man although she has no intention of it going anywhere. Who cares if she gets jealous when Gabriel tells her to send roses to his conquests? She’s happy.

Gabriel slowly courted Charlie for months. He knew she had something happen in her past, so he waited. Their relationship moved very slowly, which is the only way it could have worked. Nalini wrote Charlie as a victim so well. She reacted much as I would have expected someone who went through what she did to act. She was beyond careful. She had panic attacks. All very believable.

I don’t know exactly what it was that I didn’t enjoy. I do think that Gabriel rushed her a bit, but I didn’t think it was a bad thing. The whole situation just didn’t rub me the right way. I did like them together, but there were too many problems.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Rock Kiss


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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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