Tag: 3.0 Reviews

Guest Review: The Gentleman’s Promise by Frances Fowlkes

Posted April 20, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: The Gentleman’s Promise by Frances FowlkesReviewer: Tracy
The Gentleman's Promise by Frances Fowlkes
Series: The Daughters of Amhurst #3
Also in this series: The Earl's New Bride, To Win a Viscount
Published by Entangled, Scandalous
Publication Date: April 17th 2017
Genres: Historical, Romance
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three-stars

A social pariah due to her scandalous activities, Lady Sarah Beauchamp yearns for redemption to obtain a husband. The assistance of Society darling Mr. Jonathon Annesley gives her hope of success. However, the more effort he puts into helping her, the more she realizes the only esteem she wishes to earn is that of the handsome Jonathon. However, her reputation would potentially ruin his political aspirations.

Offering a gentleman's promise to help his sister's friend regain the favor of the ton should be easy for son of a viscount, Jonathon Annesley. After all, he's well liked and considered a rising star in Parliament. Until he learns Sarah's ultimate goal is a husband. No man is good enough and could ever appreciate her for all she is. But she is not for him—his focus rests solely on gaining reforms for society's weakest members. Yet, a promise made cannot be broken…

Two years ago Sarah tried to help her sister out with a man by trying to get the competition out of the way.  She concocted some herbs and voila, it worked.  Unfortunately her other sister took such a liking to Sarah’s tea that she drank too much and almost killed herself.  Since that time Sarah has been in social exile.  No one wants anything to do with her as they believe that she poisoned people with nefarious intentions.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Her two sisters are married now and she feels like they’ve almost pushed her out of their lives as she can’t relate when they talk about marriage and children.

She does have her best friend, Olivia, and her family who she is staying with.   When they get an invitation to a hunt Olivia’s older brother Jonathon invites Sarah along and states that since he’s well regarded he can get people to change their minds about her.  He really had no idea how bad things were.  Nothing he says or does gets people to judge Sarah fairly.  Of course spending so much time with Sarah makes him realize he’s in love with her but his political aspirations make it so that he can’t marry her as his judgement would then be called into question and all the reform he’s been campaigning for would be an impossibility.

This was a sweet story that I enjoyed reading.  The concept of people looking down on women who are well read and smart makes my blood boil even though I know that it was historically common.  In the case of Sarah she wasn’t afraid to speak her mind and talk about things that interested her, especially if it could help someone else.  This didn’t do her any favors as she just couldn’t play the role of a no-brain debutante.  Jonathon did his best to play up Sarah and her beauty but people just couldn’t get past the “poisoning.”  Even when she helped a Marquess with a cold/flu people believed that she had poisoned him so that she could save him to make herself look better.  Ugh!  So frustrating.

I liked Jonathon and Sarah together.  It was a slow, sweet build-up to the romance and it was well written.  I liked their characters and Olivia’s as well.  We got to see Lord Satterfield again, who played a role in the first two books.  He was an ass in this book, imho, contradicting himself left and right.   Overall I thought the book was well done.

Rating: 3 out of 5

three-stars

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

Guest Review: Her Scottish Mistake by Michele de Winton

Posted April 11, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Her Scottish Mistake by Michele de WintonReviewer: Tracy
Her Scottish Mistake by Michele de Winton
Published by Entangled, Lovestruck
Publication Date: April 10th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
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three-stars

Aspiring blogger Janie Milan is finally on her dream trip to Thailand. But when an unfortunate piña colada incident lands her in the path of a hot Scotsman, Janie finds herself dying to find out what's under his kilt. Only the frustratingly sexy man isn't who he's pretending to be…

After cutting a deal to keep his brother safe, Scottish heartthrob Blaine Galloway is hiding from the press. But his secret identity starts to slip the second he meets small-town blogger, Janie. Now the press is hot on their heels and Blaine’s life is tumbling into a tabloid-sponsored hell. Coincidence? He’s not so sure.

Janie is on the trip of her life in Thailand.  She needed to get away from her small town in Texas where her cheating ex was getting married to her ex-best friend.  Soon after she arrives she accidentally spills her piña colada onto a man who happens to be incredibly good looking.  She helps him clean up and they go their separate ways.  When they meet each other at breakfast the other day and find out at the same time that they’ve each been booked into a couples resort they take advantage and book a day trip together.  They get closer as they spend the days together and start to fall in love.

Blaine Calloway is a Scottish actor who needed to get away from his life and the press.  He’s taken a trip to Thailand because he figures it’s as far from the UK as he can get.  He ends up having a great time with Janie as he loves how down to earth she is.  She treats him like a real person, not an actor, even after he comes clean about who he is.

Unfortunately the press get wind of his getaway and come after him.  Blaine blames Janie and the shit hits the fan.  Can these two people be together when they feel they can’t trust each other?

This was an interesting little romance.  The idea of small town meeting foreign actor was a cute one and seemed to work at times during the book.  Unfortunately I didn’t feel like the H/h were suited to each other and had a hard time reading about them falling in love.  It wasn’t so much that they were different but that the way they were written I couldn’t feel it. Even when they were fighting with each other I didn’t feel the emotion between them and that was my biggest issue with the book.  If you can’t feel the love between characters how can you truly love their romance? You can’t.

Despite the lack of emotion I felt I thought that the Thai scenery was written really well.  I almost felt like I was there and I loved that.  It seemed like Blaine and Janie were going to wonderfully romantic destinations that were incredibly described.

The story is about not only two people falling in love but finding out where they belong in the lives they live.  Blaine needed to find out what he was doing with his acting career and Janie needed to find her place in her little town of Little Acre as it seemed as if she’d be stuck there the rest of her life.  She loved her family but she wanted to do more.  I thought this part of the book was well done as well and I liked seeing Janie with her little family that was a bit dysfunctional.

Overall it was a decent read but again, didn’t feel the love/romance at all.

Rating: 3 out of 5

three-stars

Guest Review: Otherworld Protector by Jane Godman

Posted March 29, 2017 by Jen in Reviews | 2 Comments

Guest Review: Otherworld Protector by Jane GodmanReviewer: Jen
Otherworld Protector by Jane Godman
Series: Otherworld #1
Published by Harlequin Nocturne
Publication Date: December 2015
Genres: Paranormal, Romance
Pages: 293
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three-stars

When Stella Fallon journeys to Spain for a dream job, she never suspects that a cataclysmic confrontation is looming. Or that she is the last in an ancient line of dark sorcerers. For her new employer--an electronics billionaire--is actually a Faerie King desperate to harness Stella's powers so he can rule the Otherworld.
The only one who can protect Stella is a man she once thought her guardian angel. Cal becomes human, but his centuries-old secret could destroy her trust. Still, the pair cannot deny their white-hot attraction as they seek refuge in a cave to prepare for a battle of epic magnitude...

The set up: The Otherworld is an alternate world that exists alongside the world we all know. (The mechanics aren’t entirely clear, nor are they very important!) Who lives in Otherworld? Magical and fantasy creatures, like faeries, vampires, werewolves, sorcerers, etc. The Otherworld is at a crisis moment, though, and the evil Faerie King is trying to take over. He is also making evil inroads to the human world, and he needs to be stopped.

This book focuses on Stella Fallon, a video game designer. She moves to Spain to do an internship at a big game company owned by the mysterious Ezra Moncoya. She brings with her someone she likes to think of as her “protector”, a mysterious figure who literally hangs around her peripheral vision (she can sense him but never quite see him full on) and has been saving her from catastrophe her entire life. When it’s clear Moncoya wants Stella for more than just her programming skills, her mysterious protector intercedes and finally shows himself to be Cal, a sorcerer sent to guard her. Cal tells her that she’s actually a powerful necromancer and the key to saving the Otherworld. As Cal and Stella grow closer, she must learn to control her powers and figure out what role she and Cal must play in the coming confrontation.

I loved the premise of this book. I am always up for the “person thinks they’re ordinary but really they’re the key to saving the world” storyline. It is great to see Stella learn about her powers and about the world she never knew existed. I was fascinated by the Otherworld, too. It mixes so many different fantasy concepts. At times that does get a little bit like the kitchen-sink of mythology (Christian-like angels, necromancers, Valkyries, vampires, etc all in the same book?), but it’s still great fun. I also enjoyed Cal and Stella together. The sex was steamy, and I liked the way Cal was hesitant to get involved with Stella but helpless to avoid her pull.

Unfortunately, this book suffered from a little too much info dump. This is a complicated world, probably too complicated for the length of the books, and this first book in particular feels a bit plodding sometimes because of all the information. It’s also kind of hard to escape the fact that it’s a little creepy for Cal and Stella to fall in love. Cal has been watching Stella since she was a child, but suddenly he’s thinking about banging her. You really can’t think too hard about that part or it’s kind of skeezy! While there was a lot of info dumping about the world, there wasn’t much about Stella’s powers, and that disappointed me. She is supposedly so powerful, but we don’t see a ton of her work. She learns quickly and with few hurdles, and she has little trouble adjusting to the whole situation. I thought there were some major missed opportunities for character development there.

Really, this book is simply ok. However, the series gets much better in books 2 and 3, so I am very happy I kept reading. Because there’s so much world building in this book, I can’t recommend skipping it. All I can say is that if this premise interests you, consider reading Otherworld Protector so you can move on to books 2 and 3 (reviews to come).

Grade: 3 out of 5

three-stars

Guest Review: Ice Wolf by Jane Godman

Posted March 9, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Ice Wolf by Jane GodmanReviewer: Tracy
Ice Wolf by Jane Godman
Series: Arctic Brotherhood #1
Published by Macmillan, Swerve
Publication Date: March 7th 2017
Genres: Paranormal, Norse Mythology
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three-stars

They are the Arctic Brotherhood.

They are deadly fighters, fierce protectors and loyal mates.

Elliott Wilder is a mild mannered Alaskan college professor. Wilder craves the things most people find boring. Seclusion. Monotony. Anonymity. But what Wilder craves most of all is the thing he can’t have… memory loss. Four hundred years ago, Wilder and the other members of the Arctic Brotherhood were captured and tortured by the leader of the Siberian werewolves. Wilder is still haunted by memories of that night, when he wasn’t able to protect his leader.

Now the Siberian wolf is on the loose and seeking revenge. Not only must Wilder lead the brotherhood, he must fight the attraction he feels toward its newest recruit, Jenny Piper. Jenny offers Wilder a glimpse of the life he can’t have. As the brotherhood races against time to save humanity from the horror their enemies unleashed on the world, Wilder must reach inside himself to find the leader the brotherhood needs and the mate Jenny craves.

Elliott is an Arctic werewolf.  He was part of the Brotherhood of the Midnight Sun 400 years ago but since that time he’s been by himself.  He is currently working at a university and is shocked when he meets a woman, Jenny Piper, who is an Arctic werewolf as well.  He’s attracted to her but he wants nothing to do with any werewolves or pack so tries to separate himself.  That lasts less than 24 hours as the leader of the Brotherhood, Gunnar, shows up to let him know that the evil Siberian wolf they had put in jail 400 years earlier has escaped and wants revenge.  Elliott wants to ignore it all but he can’t when the previously imprisoned wolf attacks not only him but also Jenny.

Soon Jenny, Elliott and Gunnar are off to fight the battle between good and evil but the evil runs much deeper than any of them believed and it might take a miracle for the Brotherhood to win this battle.

Ice Wolf is the first book in the Arctic Brotherhood series.  The story was fast-paced and pretty action packed from the start of the book.

I liked Elliott despite the fact that he was pretty grumpy at the beginning of the book.  He soon took his place as leader of the Brotherhood and it was just what he needed in order to deal with his PTSD resulting from being tortured 400 years before.  He was a good leader and I felt he did a good job.

Jenny was a fighter and I really liked her.  She had a sunny disposition despite her childhood horrors and I liked her positivity and strength.  She got herself into a bit of a bind during the course of the book but didn’t end up needing the hero to rescue her – she did that herself.  Go Jenny!

The story was a good one, no doubt.  I wish that we could have gotten to know the other members of the Brotherhood a little better.  I think I would be more interested in reading their stories if I had a bit more knowledge of who they are.  Yes the Brotherhood worked together in this book but it was really focused on Elliott and Jenny.  If you like Norse mythology this would be a good one to pick up.  These definitely aren’t your average werewolves, that’s for sure.

Rating: 3 out of 5 

three-stars