Tag: 4.0 Reviews

Throwback Thursday Review: Seduction of a Highland Lass by Maya Banks

Posted June 21, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Throwback Thursday Review: Seduction of a Highland Lass by Maya BanksReviewer: Holly
Seduction of a Highland Lass by Maya Banks
Series: McCabe Trilogy #2
Also in this series: In Bed with a Highlander, In Bed with a Highlander, Never Love a Highlander
Published by Ballantine
Publication Date: September 27, 2011
Point-of-View: Third Person
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 323
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Goodreads
four-stars


Maya Banks, the New York Times bestselling author of romance and romantic suspense has captivated readers with her steamy Scottish historical novels, perfect for fans of Julie Garwood. In Seduction of a Highland Lass, an indomitable Highland warrior is caught between loyalty and forbidden love.
 Fiercely loyal to his elder brother, Alaric McCabe leads his clan in the fight for their birthright. Now he is prepared to wed for duty, as well. But on his way to claim the hand of Rionna McDonald, daughter of a neighboring chieftain, he is ambushed and left for dead. Miraculously, his life is saved by the soft touch of a Highland angel, a courageous beauty who will put to the test his fealty to his clan, his honor, and his deepest desires.

An outcast from her own clan, Keeley McDonald was betrayed by those she loved and trusted. When the wounded warrior falls from his horse, she is drawn to his strong, lean body. The wicked glint in his green eyes ignites a passion that will follow them back to Alaric’s keep, where their forbidden love draws them deeper into the pleasures of the flesh. But as conspiracy and danger circle closer, Alaric must make an impossible choice: Will he betray his blood ties for the woman he loves?

Every Thursday in 2018, we’ll be posting throwback reviews of our favorite and not-so-favorite books.

This review was originally posted on November 29, 2011.

Where the first book in the series had more external conflict, this one has a lot more internal conflict.

Alaric MacCabeis on his way to a neighboring clan to formally offer marriage to the Laird’s daughter, Rionna MacDonald, to secure an alliance, when he’s attacked. All of his men are killed and he’s gravely wounded. He manages to make it to Keeley MacDonald’s cabin on the outskirts of the clan. She’s a skilled healer and is able to save his life. When his bothers, Ewan and Caelen, show up, they decide to keep Keeley since they need a healer in their clan. Not only is Keeley charged with caring for Alaric, but Ewan wants her to attend the birth of his first child.

Keeley was cast out of her clan as a young girl after the Laird made unwanted advances and his wife cried her a whore. She’s been living alone ever since. The idea of being accepted as a healer in a new clan is appealing, but she’s not happy to have been snatched from her home with no choice. The deciding factor in her not fighting her situation is Alaric. They formed a deep bond while Keeley was caring for him.

The problem is Alaric promised to marry Rionna MacDonald. The MacDonald land lies between the McCabe keep and the new land Ewan McCabe (the laird) inherited when he married his new wife. Without the alliance the clan will be divided, not to mention the other alliances they’re working on might be jeopardized. Alaric knows his duty. As much as he wants Keeley, he knows he can’t have her. Not permanently.

Although Duncan Cameron, the villain from the first book, is still a threat in this novel, but the focus is on the internal conflict of Alaric and Keeley being in love but unable to marry. The story could have become bogged down with angst, but Banks managed a good balance between sexy-times, humor and conflict.

Keeley was a practical woman. Her clan threw her out, but she isn’t so hung up on it she’s willing to cut off her nose to spite her face. When Ewan offers her a place with the McCabe clan, she takes it. Her practicality and levelheadedness worked well with the conflict, too. Yes, she wanted Alaric, but she understood what was at stake and what would happen if they risked everything. Alaric also knew his duty, but my heart broke for him. He knew right away that he wanted Keeley and no other, but he also knew he didn’t have a choice.

I think too often in historical novels the main characters throw convention and duty out the window to the detriment of the story. Yes, it happened, but it was rare. I think for a couple to focus more on duty than on love brought a touch of realism.

The story isn’t perfect. There were times when it was bogged down with useless info. The dialogue ran toward cheesy now and again. I also found myself struggling to connect to Keeley in the beginning. Thankfully that didn’t last long. 

Overall this was a satisfying read. I enjoyed the characters and the conflict. Banks has penned a strong second novel for this series.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

McCabe Trilogy

four-stars


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Joint Review: Burn for You by J.T. Geissinger

Posted June 18, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Joint Review: Burn for You by J.T. GeissingerReviewer: Holly & Rowena
Burn for You (Slow Burn, #1) by J. T. Geissinger
Series: Slow Burn #1
Published by Montlake Romance
Publication Date: October 17, 2017
Point-of-View: First Person
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 348
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Goodreads
four-stars

The marriage is fake. But for a sassy chef and an arrogant billionaire, the sparks are real…

Jackson “The Beast” Boudreaux is rich, gorgeous, and unbelievably rude to the staff at Chef Bianca Hardwick’s New Orleans restaurant. Bianca would sooner douse herself in hot sauce than cook for Jackson again, but when he asks her to cater his fund-raiser, Bianca can’t refuse, knowing the cash will help pay her mother’s medical bills. Then Jackson makes another outrageous request: Marry me. The unconventional offer includes an enormous sum—money Bianca desperately needs, even if it does come with a contract—and a stunning ring.

The heir to a family bourbon dynasty, Jackson knows the rumors swirling around him. The truth is even darker. Still, he needs a wife to secure his inheritance, and free-spirited, sassy Bianca would play the part beautifully. Soon, though, their simple business deal evolves into an emotional intimacy he’s built walls to avoid.

As the passion heats up between them, Bianca and Jackson struggle to define which feelings are real and which are for show. Is falling for your fake fiancé the best happy ending…or a recipe for disaster?

Burn for You is a modern take on Beauty and the Beast.

Jackson and Bianca have a very contentious relationship. They get off to a bad start when he shows up at her restaurant and demands a table. Bianca’s latest menu is an ode to his family’s bourbon, but she isn’t about to let him push her around. When he offers her the chance to cater an very exclusive charity event, she knows she can’t refuse. Not only will the publicity give her restaurant the boost it needs, but she desperately needs the money for her sick mother. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the crazy man shows up again and demands she marry him. Turns out he needs a wife by his 33rd birthday -which is just around the corner- or he’ll lose his inheritance. If she wasn’t desperate for money to help her sick mother she’d never consider it…as it is, how bad would be being married to the Beast?

Holly: I was browsing Amazon a couple weeks ago and discovered this book. I love Beauty and the Beast and a modern day retelling appealed to me. I really loved it. Jax and Bianca were great together. Are you glad I forced …ehem…recommended you read it?

Rowena: I listened to the audiobook too and it didn’t work for me. The narrator for Bianca sounded like my grandma and I kept picturing Gretchen from Suits because that’s who she reminded me of so every time she and Jackson would get down and dirty, I kept picturing my favorite of Louis’ administrative assistants with Jackson…and she’s more my Grandma than my heroine of a romance novel. I love the hell out of her but I don’t want to know or read about her sex life. Haha. But dude, that narrator sounds just like Gretchen.

Holly: Conversely, I really enjoyed the narrator. I don’t watch Suits, so I can’t say if she sounded like anyone from that show, but I thought she did a great job with the voices. I don’t ever listen to the entire book. I switch back and forth between reading and listening. The narrator, Diana Luke, really made the book for me. To be honest, I don’t know if I would have enjoyed the book quite so much had I read it on my own. I heard her voice in my head while I was reading and it really worked.

Rowena: Anyway on with the book, after I stopped listening to the book and started reading it on my own, I was able to enjoy the book a lot more. The chemistry between Bianca and Jackson was off the charts and from the beginning I felt it. I knew that we were going to get a good story out of them and we did.

I’m really glad that I listened to you and read this book. It was good stuff.

Holly: Of course it was good stuff. I always give good recommendations. 😉

Rowena: I really liked Bianca’s character and how strong she was, how real she was. When her drama happens, I connected with her because I’ve been there and I thought Geissinger captured her emotions and her grief really well.

My heart broke getting to know Jackson and seeing the man that he grew up to be despite the childhood that he had?? Oh man, it hit me right in the feels and I was rooting like heck for him throughout the entire story.

Holly: Jackson was grumpy and growly, but underneath he was just a giant marshmallow. I loved that about him. I loved how he took care of his people and raised money for causes that were important to him.

Bianca didn’t take any crap from him, and in fact gave back better than she got. I loved her wit and how quick she was to defend herself and those who worked for her. She wasn’t overbearing. They both got on each other’s nerves, but I loved how they also saw below the surface and wanted to help the other. She stuck up for him when he needed it, and he returned the favor. I melted over them both.

Rowena: There were times when I thought both Bianca and Jackson were being super extra about things, like how Bianca would fly off the handle at the smallest thing and how Jackson would growl at Bianca at every turn but in the end, I understood why they were the way that they were with each other and let that stuff go.

Holly: You’re right, they were both extra about things. Still, I loved how they sort of fell into a friendship without even realizing it. So cute.

His family made me angry and I wasn’t satisfied with the way it was dealt with. Jackson felt like shit his entire life because of the way his parents treated him, but his dad waves it all off? Grr. I got over it, however, because it’s a Fairytale.

Rowena: Jackson’s family dynamic left much to be desired and I agree that when everything comes out in the open, his father waved things off and I didn’t think that Jackson got the closure he deserved on that stuff but I’m glad that he finally had the support system that he should have had all along. I also really liked that Bianca was the one to make that happen for him.

Holly: Oh yes, I loved how quick Bianca was to defend him and how she took up for him with his family. That was great.

I really loved this book. There were things that bothered me, and the way Bianca and Jackson acted at the end had me frustrated, but overall it was a really good read. I’d definitely recommend it (and have been, to everyone. lol). I’m really looking forward to reading Geissinger’s backlist.

Rowena: This was the first book that I’ve ever read by Geissinger but it won’t be my last. I really enjoyed this slow-burn romance and am pretty anxious to start the next in the series, even though there isn’t a real link between both books.

Holly: Overall this was a very satisfying read. I was sad to see it end. 4.25 out of 5

Rowena: I agree that this was a very satisfying read. I would definitely recommend.
I give this one a 4 out of 5.

Final Grades

Holly: 4.25 out of 5
Rowena: 4 out of 5

Slow Burn

four-stars


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Review: Making Up by Lucy Parker

Posted June 14, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 3 Comments

Review: Making Up by Lucy ParkerReviewer: Rowena
Making Up (London Celebrities, #3) by Lucy Parker
Series: London Celebrities, #3
Also in this series: Pretty Face
Published by Carina Press
Publication Date: May 28, 2018
Point-of-View: Third Person
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 254
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
four-stars


Author of Act Like It and Pretty Face Lucy Parker returns readers to the West End, where it’s fireworks onstage and off in a sexy enemies-to-lovers showdown.

Once upon a time, circus artist Trix Lane was the best around. Her spark vanished with her confidence, though, and reclaiming either has proved…difficult. So when the star of The Festival of Masks is nixed and Trix is unexpectedly thrust into the spotlight, it’s exactly the push she needs. But the joy over her sudden elevation in status is cut short by a new hire on the makeup team.

Leo Magasiva: disgraced wizard of special effects. He of the beautiful voice and impressive beard. Complete dickhead and—in an unexpected twist—an enragingly good kisser.

To Leo, something about Trix is…different. Lovely. Beautiful, even though the pint-size, pink-haired former bane of his existence still spends most of her waking hours working to annoy him. They’ve barely been able to spend two minutes together for years, and now he can’t get enough of her. On stage. At home. In his bed.

When it comes to commitment, Trix has been there, done that, never wants to do it again. Leo’s this close to the job of a lifetime, which would take him away from London—and from Trix. Their past is a constant barrier between them.

It seems hopeless.

Utterly impossible.

And yet…

Making Up is the third book in Lucy Parker’s London Celebrities series and it was another enjoyable book that I ate right up. Leo and Trix were a wonderful couple and their story was solid.

Trix Lane’s role in her show has been upgraded and she’s elated at the same time that she’s terrified of messing up. The new role is more complicated, her routines a lot harder and though she knows the basics, she must up her game if she wants to keep the role but her confidence has taken a hit thanks to her no good piece of shit ex, the ex that tried to get between her and her best friend Lily in Lily’s book, Pretty Face. To make matters worse, someone from her past is back in her life working on her show as a makeup artist and he’s the last person that she wants to see around.

It doesn’t matter what she wants because Leo isn’t going anywhere and he’s always around because he’s renting one of the rooms in the housing unit that Trix lives in. Poor thing, haha. But Leo is trying to make some moves for himself professionally after a setback. Sure, he’s not all that excited to see Trix on a daily basis but he’s not going to let her derail his plans.

This was a great romance about two people who did not get along but fell in love anyway. Leo and Trix’s story started when they were in high school and didn’t know how to deal with their big time feelings. Things were said, feelings were hurt and a feud began. Every time they saw each other, they burned hot and everyone tried to get out of their blast zone. Seeing them work things out and then figure their things out together made for an enjoyable romance.

Lucy Parker does a great job of making the readers care about her characters. I cared so much for both Trix and Leo. I wanted the best for them throughout the entire book, even when they were both getting on my nerves. Their story was full of warmth, charm and the romance itself was steamy. Leo was really good in the sack, haha. The way that he couldn’t get enough of Trix melted my heart. I loved seeing them come into their feelings for each other and though it wasn’t the most perfect of journeys, it was a good one.

I’m pretty anxious to see if we get more books from this world and I’m hoping that we do because I’d love to read a story featuring Jono front and center. His character is interesting. Overall, this book was fun and though there were times that I wanted to strangle first Trix and then Leo and Cat wasn’t safe from these hands either, I still enjoyed the romance, the story and seeing Trix’s professional world first hand.

Leo was a strong hero who cared deeply for those close to him. Trix was a wonderful match for him and I really enjoyed their chemistry together. Kudos to Lucy Parker for another winner.

Grade: 4 out of 5

London Celebrities

four-stars


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Review: I Flipping Love You by Helena Hunting

Posted June 12, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 3 Comments

Review: I Flipping Love You by Helena HuntingReviewer: Rowena
I Flipping Love You (Shacking Up, #3) by Helena Hunting
Series: Shacking Up #3
Published by St. Martin's Paperbacks
Publication Date: May 29, 2018
Point-of-View: Third Person
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 320
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
four-stars

A new kind of love story about flipping houses, taking risks, and landing that special someone who’s move-in ready…

SHE’S GOT CURB APPEAL

Rian Sutter grew up with the finer things in life. Spending summers in The Hamptons was a normal occurrence for her until her parents lost everything years ago. Now Rian and her sister are getting their life, and finances, back on track through real estate. Not only do they buy and sell houses to the rich and famous, but they finally have the capital to flip their very own beachfront property. But when she inadvertently catches the attention of a sexy stranger who snaps up every house from under her, all bets are off…

HE’S A FIXER UPPER

Pierce Whitfield doesn’t normally demo kitchens, install dry wall, or tear apart a beautiful woman’s dreams. He’s just a down-on-his-luck lawyer who needed a break from the city and agreed to help his brother work on a few homes in the Hamptons. When he first meets Rian, the attraction is undeniable. But when they start competing for the same pieces of prime real estate, the early sparks turn into full-blown fireworks. Can these passionate rivals turn up the heat on their budding romance — without burning down the house?

I FLIPPING LOVE YOU, set in the Shacking Up world, follows two people, both working in real estate, who find themselves vying for the same properties in the Hamptons, leading to a sometimes-not-so-friendly competition.

I Flipping Love You is the latest addition to the Shacking Up series by Helena Hunting and it features Amalie’s brother Pierce. Readers of this series will remember Amalie from Hooking Up as she was the heroine in that book. Her brother is a lawyer in Manhattan but after a goof on his part, he’s taking some time off from work to let things cool down and work themselves out.

Now that he’s got a lot of spare time on his hands, he’s in the Hamptons helping his younger brother buy houses and flip them for profit. It is in the Hamptons where he meets Rian Sutter. Her sister hits his prized Tesla and then takes off so he’s been stalking the grocery store where the hit and run happened, in hopes of catching that woman that is responsible for $3k in damages to his car. He catches more than he expected and he’s glad for it because Rian Sutter??? He’s mighty interested in Rian Sutter.

Rian was a strong heroine that has plans. After being stripped of everything and then abandoned by her parents, Rian and her twin sister Marley have only had each other. They have great memories of their grandparents and their grandparent’s mansion in the Hamptons. Rian and Marley have chosen to make a life for themselves in the Hamptons, close to their grandparent’s mansion because Rian has a dream that they’ll work really hard and then the mansion will go up for sale and they’ll buy it and open a B&B. She’s been holding on to that dream for a long time because she wants to hold onto something good from her past. She’s got a secret that she doesn’t like to tell people and while I understood her reasons, it played a part in my annoyance with her character. I’ll get to that a little later.

Pierce has his own stuff going on but he’s focused on the here and the now. He’s really enjoying himself working on these flips with his brothers. They’re buying up beachfront properties, doing little flips on them and renting them out. Becoming a lawyer wasn’t really his idea, it was his father’s idea and he kind of fell into the career path and now that he’s had time away from his day job, he’s starting to think that going his own way is probably what he wants to do. Immediately though, he wants to get to know Rian Sutter. She keeps showing up everywhere that he is and he’s attracted as all get out. He’s not a quitter so he puts in the work.

Pierce and Rian were a fantastic couple and their story kept me laughing from beginning to end. Their story was so much fun. The chemistry was great, the romance was delicious and Pierce, well, he was hot as all get out. I completely adored him. I loved how determined he was where Rian was concerned and I loved getting to know him. He was a great brother, a hilarious man and a dedicated lover. What’s not to love about a guy bringing all of that to the party?

Things were going great in my reading adventure until Rian starts to get her cold feet and the way that she handles the shit that is thrown her way left a bad taste in my mouth and I got pretty pissed at her because she was an awesome heroine and then she went and did something so dumb that I wanted to pull her hair some. Alls well that ends well though because Pierce comes through and just bulldozes over her fears and let’s her know that she won’t be able to push him away because she needs him just as much as he needs her and I was glad that he, at least was able to stand firm in his feelings. He had a lot more faith in them then Rian but other than that, the book was fabulous. Great characters, a charming beachfront romance that will make you laugh, happy sigh and just enjoy the heck out of Helena Hunting’s written word. It would be a great summer read.

Grade: 4 out of 5

Shacking Up

four-stars


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Guest Review: Ocean Light by Nalini Singh

Posted June 11, 2018 by Tracy in Reviews | 2 Comments

Guest Review: Ocean Light by Nalini SinghReviewer: Tracy
Ocean Light by Nalini Singh
Series: Psy/Changeling Trinity #2, Psy/Changeling #17
Also in this series: Silver Silence, Silver Silence, Silver Silence, Caressed By Ice, Mine to Possess, Hostage to Pleasure, The Magical Christmas Cat, Kiss of Snow, Tangle of Need, Slave to Sensation (Psy/Changeling #1), Wild Invitation, Heart of Obsidian, Shield of Winter, Shield of Winter, Visions of Heat, Mine to Possess, Caressed By Ice, Branded by Fire, Blaze of Memory, Mine to Possess, Hostage to Pleasure, Hostage to Pleasure, Shards of Hope, Shards of Hope, Heart of Obsidian, Caressed By Ice, Branded by Fire, Blaze of Memory, Play of Passion, Allegiance of Honor, Kiss of Snow, Tangle of Need, Shield of Winter, Shards of Hope, Allegiance of Honor, Allegiance of Honor, Wild Embrace, Wild Embrace, Wild Embrace, Tangle of Need
Published by Berkley
Publication Date: June 12, 2018
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 416
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
four-stars

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh dives beneath the surface of her Psy-Changeling world into a story of passionate devotion and selfless love...

Security specialist Bowen Knight has come back from the dead. But there's a ticking time bomb in his head: a chip implanted to block telepathic interference that could fail at any moment--taking his brain along with it. With no time to waste, he should be back on land helping the Human Alliance. Instead, he's at the bottom of the ocean, consumed with an enigmatic changeling...

Kaia Luna may have traded in science for being a chef, but she won't hide the facts of Bo's condition from him or herself. She's suffered too much loss in her life to fall prey to the dangerous charm of a human who is a dead man walking. And she carries a devastating secret Bo could never imagine...

But when Kaia is taken by those who mean her deadly harm, all bets are off. Bo will do anything to get her back--even if it means striking a devil's bargain and giving up his mind to the enemy...

In the last book Bowen Knight was shot in the heart.  He managed to survive and has been a coma for 3 weeks.  He now is residing in an underwater facility run by BlackSea, the water changelings.  They’ve saved his life and now they are trying to stop him from dying once again by examining the chip in his head that’s basically a ticking time bomb.

When Bowen wakes up he sees Kaia Luna who doesn’t look like she likes him all that much.  Though she tries to push him away, Bo can’t seem to keep himself away from her and goes on a mission to win the woman he knows he can’t live without.  While he’s busy with his romancing, which is completely foreign to him, he’s also trying to figure out if there’s a traitor in his organization.  He’s shown proof that the Human Alliance had something to do with the water changelings that have vanished but Bo knows nothing about it.  One of those that have vanished was Kaia’s best friend Hugo.  Before Hugo vanished, however, he showed Kaia and others in BlackSea proof that Bo and the Human Alliance had something to do with the vanishings.  Bo has to prove his innocence as well as win the girl – the man has his work cut out for him!

I have to say that I have liked Bowen Knight since he came to life in the Psy-Changeling series.  For some reason he’d always grabbed my attention so I was excited to read his book.  While it wasn’t as gripping as most of Singh’s novels I enjoyed the more laid-back atmosphere of the BlackSea facility and the isolation it provided.  I think it did wonders for Kaia and Bo’s relationship as it pretty much forced them to see each other regularly.

There were different elements to the story – the romance, the science of the chip in Bo’s brain, the possible traitor in the Human Alliance, the issues BlackSea was having and did they have a traitor as well?  I figured out part of what was going on and who was who when it came to “bad” guys, but Singh threw me for a loop and surprised me when all was revealed.  I have to say that I did not see that one coming.  I loved it!

Overall I thought this was a great book and I loved seeing Bo brought to his knees by a woman.  Though he’s human he had held himself back from others for many years due to something that happened when he was just 13 years old.  He’s been told he had no heart and wasn’t romantic by women in his past, but this book proved that he had all of those things in him and more.  I’m definitely looking forward to the next book in the Psy-Changleing Trinity series.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Psy/Changeling Trinity

four-stars


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