Tag: Casee’s Reviews

Review: Bountiful by Sarina Bowen

Posted November 16, 2018 by Casee in Reviews | 0 Comments

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)
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: October 20, 2017
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Romance Package
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 315
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
three-stars

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

three-stars


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Review: Keepsake by Sarina Bowen

Posted November 15, 2018 by Casee in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Keepsake by Sarina BowenReviewer: Casee
Keepsake (True North, #3) by Sarina Bowen
Narrator: Erin Spencer, Teddy Hamilton
Series: True North #3
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), Bountiful (True North, #4; Brooklyn Bruisers, #4.5)
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: October 25, 2016
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Romance Package
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 312
Length: 10 hours, 8 minutes
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
four-stars

There's a first time for everything.

Lark Wainwright used to be fearless. Her life was a series of adventures, each one more exhilarating than the last. But her recent overseas adventure was one too many. Now she’s home and in one piece. Mostly. But her nights are filled with terror.

When her best friend offers her a stay at the orchard in exchange for help at the farmers’ markets, Lark jumps at the chance to spend fall in Vermont. But her nightmares don’t stop. Desperate to keep her fragile state a secret, she relies on the most soft-spoken resident of the Shipley Farm to soothe her when her dreams prove too much.

Zachariah is a survivor, too. It’s been four years since he was tossed aside by the polygamist cult where he grew up. He’s found a peaceful existence on the Shipley’s farm, picking apples and fixing machinery. But getting thrown away by your own people at nineteen leaves a mark on a guy. He doesn’t always know what to make of a world where movie quotes are the primary means of communication. Before hitchhiking to Vermont, he’d never watched TV or spoken on the phone.

Actually, there are a lot of things he’s never done.

Zach and Lark slowly grow to trust one another. One night they become even closer than they’d planned. But Lark may still be too broken to trust anyone. When she pushes Zach away, he will have to prove to himself that he's good for much more than farm labor.

I listened to this book on audio. I’ve really enjoyed listening to the series. The narrators have switched up and they’ve all been pretty good.

Keepsake is a book about survivors. Both Zachariah and Lark survived different kinds of hell. Zach was in a cult as a child and young adult. He finally escaped, but there was a steep price. He’s never forgiven himself for the girl he left behind and often wonders what became of her. He’s built his life around the Shipley farm, but he knows that it will soon be time to move on. That’s something that scares him deeply. Zach has never truly been on his own. When May Shipley’s best friend, Lark Wainwright, shows up at the farm, he recognizes a survivor in her.

Lark has come to Vermont to heal. As an investigative journalist, Lark used to be fearless. She would go from assignment to assignment with no fear that something could happen to her. That all changes when she is kidnapped. Now her nights are plagued with nightmares. She’s hoping that her stay at the farm will bring her peace. She has no idea how broken she truly is until she gets there. She finds unexpected comfort in Zach. She recognizes that he has demons of his own and feels no regret in taking the comfort that he offers her.

I understood Lark. I truly did. That didn’t mean I particularly liked her. Maybe it would have been different if Zach wasn’t Zach. The fact is that Lark flat out used Zach. Sure she had feelings for him. It’s clear, but she used him to cover her own nightmares. The one thing that was admirable about her was that she didn’t lie to herself or to Zach about it. I knew that she was going to have to leave Zach, but geez. It was hard reading Zach’s reaction. The guy has never had a mean thought. He would have done anything for Lark. Even let her go.

In the end, I still loved Zach. I liked Lark, but didn’t love her. She was just so-so. Then there was the way things unfolded with May and Lark. Like where the hell did that come from? I was thrown for a loop and it felt like that was just put in there for shock value. It was really weird.

Rating: 4 out of 5. (For Zach)

True North

four-stars


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Joint Review: Phoenix Unbound by Grace Draven

Posted November 14, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Joint Review: Phoenix Unbound by Grace DravenReviewer: Casee, Holly, & Rowena
Phoenix Unbound (Fallen Empire, #1) by Grace Draven
Narrator: Katharine McEwan
Series: Fallen Empire #1
Publisher: Ace
Publication Date: September 25, 2018
Format: Audiobook, eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 400
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
four-stars

A woman with power over fire and illusion and an enslaved son of a chieftain battle a corrupt empire in this powerful and deeply emotional romantic fantasy from the USA Today bestselling author of Radiance.

Every year, each village is required to send a young woman to the Empire's capital--her fate to be burned alive for the entertainment of the masses. For the last five years, one small village's tithe has been the same woman. Gilene's sacrifice protects all the other young women of her village, and her secret to staying alive lies with the magic only she possesses.

But this year is different.

Azarion, the Empire's most famous gladiator, has somehow seen through her illusion--and is set on blackmailing Gilene into using her abilities to help him escape his life of slavery. And unknown to Gilene, he also wants to reclaim the birthright of his clan.

To protect her family and village, she will risk everything to return to the Empire--and burn once more.

Phoenix Unbound is the first book in Grace Draven’s Fallen Empire series and it follows a young woman named Gilene who was born with fire magic. Each year, the Empire demands a sacrifice from each village in the form of a young woman who will be burned to death for the entertainment of the masses and each year, Gilene has been the sacrifice for her small town. With her fire magic and illusion, Gilene has been able to trick the Empire into believing that her town sends a new sacrifice each year and each year, her small town makes her pay the price.

When Gilene comes across the Empire’s winningest gladiator, her life is forever changed because Azarion knows Gilene’s secret. He can see through her illusion and knows she’s been coming every year. He needs her help in escaping his enslavement because he needs to go back home and re-claim his title and his family. He also needs to make sure that those who sold him into slavery pay for their crimes.

Rowena: Alright, so what did you guys think? Did you guys enjoy this book as much as you did Shadow and Ice? =P

Holly: I listened to the audiobook, and the first few chapters were pretty slow for me. I don’t know if it was because I was listening instead of reading, or just the book itself, but I struggled. By the halfway point (perhaps a bit sooner, I didn’t really pay attention to where I was at in the book) it picked up. Regardless, I ended up really loving it. Shadow and Ice, not so much.

Casee: Okay, I finally read this book and I really ended up enjoying it. I don’t think I liked it as much as you two did, but I did really like it. It started out really, really slow for me. I listened to it on audio. I liked the narrator, which always helps. It really wasn’t until they got back to Azarion’s homeland that the book started getting interesting.

Ha. This book was loads better than Shadow and Ice. The two don’t even compare.

Rowena: I read the eBook and was fine. I didn’t think it was slow at all, but that could have been because I was so bored through Shadow & Ice that the mystery behind what Gilene did for her village, every single year had me sitting up and taking notice right from the jump.

Holly: I really loved Gilene in this book. She was such a strong woman. I really identified with her determination to save her family, even if they didn’t necessarily deserve her sacrifice.

Rowena: Like Holly, I loved Gilene so much in this book but I also really loved Azarion. They were both going through so much that it was hard not to sympathize with them. I completely understood why Azarion did what he did to Gilene at the same time that I understood why Gilene had to get back to her village, and why she felt she had to continue to do what she does year in and year out even though her village probably didn’t deserve her sacrifice.

Holly: I understood why Azarion did what he did, too, though I didn’t fault Gilene for being angry at him over it. I also got why she needed to go back to her village. They definitely didn’t deserve her, but she couldn’t turn her back on them and I respected that.

Casee: I did find Gilene and her history interesting. I also found her a little insufferable. She was constantly fighting Azarion. I understood that, but at the same time I was like give it a rest, girl. Bide your time.

Holly: I didn’t find Gilene insufferable, though I did find myself thinking she needed to relax a little. She spent her whole life being told she had to do this one thing, so I understood where her head was at.

Rowena: That was the same for me. It’s hard not to sympathize with her considering the big sacrifice she had to go through every single year and then how else was she to respond to Azarion kidnapping her? I would have been fighting his ass at every turn too.

My favorite parts of the story were when Azarion and Gilene were back in his home…and when she fooled those guys that tried to attack her and the people of Azarion’s village. The way that she made the fire all big was great and I loved seeing her come into her own powers, especially in the end when she’s back in the empire. What were some of your favorite parts of the book?

Holly: I loved Azarion’s culture. It reminded me of the Dothraki from Game of Thrones. I really liked the time they spent with Azarion’s clan. His mom and sister were great, and I liked how Gilene proved herself. The scene you mentioned, definitely, plus her actions at the end. I loved how brave she was, and how willing she was to sacrifice it all for others.

Rowena: Yeah, same.

Casee: My favorite part of the book was when Azarion thought Gilene was lost to Agna forever. I think that scene truly showed the depths of his feelings for her. And when they found each other again? Sigh. That was just about perfection.

Rowena: How about Azarion’s cousin? I’m not going to lie, it brought me much joy when Azarion killed that little bitch with his Legolas horse shenanigans. That was great.

Holly: I loved it when Azarion finally took care of his cousin.

Rowena: Overall, I thought the story was interesting and I’m interested in keeping the party going. I’m thinking that homegirl from the caravan people is going to get a book and the other girl from the Empire, the one that was supposed to be burned up with Gilene the day that she went nuts on the empire. Which, by the way, was fantastic.

Holly: I think the caravan healer will have a book, and the other girl you mentioned. I hope we have more info about what’s next soon.

Casee: I did think it was interesting when Holly asked me if I thought Azarion was going to be Gilene’s hero. I never he thought he might not be. I did wonder how it was all going to work out though.

Rowena: This is was my first book by Grace Draven and it was a good one so I’m definitely keen on reading more from her. I give this one a 4 out of 5. What about you guys?

Holly: The story was definitely interesting. The beginning was slow, but the second half more than made up for it. I loved Gilene’s strength of will, and her determination to do the right thing no matter what. I loved Azarion, and how protective he was of her and how determined to do the right thing with his clan. I’m really looking forward to the next book. 4 out of 5

Casee: I’m giving this a 4 out of 5.

Casee: 4 out of 5
Holly: 4 out of 5
Rowena: 4 out of 5

The Fallen Empire

four-stars


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Review: Rock Wedding by Nalini Singh

Posted November 13, 2018 by Casee in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Rock Wedding by Nalini SinghReviewer: Casee
Rock Wedding (Rock Kiss, #4) by Nalini Singh
Series: Rock Kiss #4
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 Hard (Rock Kiss, #2), Rock Redemption (Rock Kiss, #3)
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: July 19, 2016
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 345
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
three-half-stars

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh continues her Rock Kiss series with a hot, sweet, emotional contemporary romance about love and forgiveness…

After a lifetime of longing for a real family, Sarah Smith thought she’d finally found her home with rock star Abe Bellamy, even if she knew Abe didn’t love her the way she loved him. But their brief relationship, filled with tragedy and heartache, nearly destroyed her. Alone, emotions in turmoil, and already shaky self-esteem shattered, Sarah struggles to pick up the pieces in the wake of their divorce.

Abe knows he’s to blame for the end of his marriage. Caught in a web of painful memories, he pushed away the best thing in his life – the sexy, smart woman he adores – breaking them both in the process. Then fate throws him a second chance to get things right, to prove to Sarah that she means everything to him. Abe desperately wants that second chance at love...even if he knows he doesn’t deserve it.

But can he convince Sarah – now strong and independent without him – to risk her wounded heart one more time?

I think this book was my least favorite of the series. I can’t put my finger on why exactly. From the beginning, I was just like wtf?!?!?! Sarah married Abe the same night she met him (actually, I can’t remember if that is what happened). They met in a bar. Unfortunately, Abe has a huge drug problem and he likes taking it out on his wife. At the beginning of the book, this killed me.

Sara loved Abe with a devotion that terrified her.

She knew he didn’t love her back.

It was just so matter-of-fact. It was incredibly sad to think she thought that, especially when we later learn it wasn’t true at all. However, Abe did little to make her think otherwise. He was a real asshole to her at the beginning of the book. When he found her playing his dead sister’s piano, I was shocked at his reaction given what we’ve learned about Abe over the last three books.

Fast forward a couple of years. Abe and Sarah went through a bitter, bitter divorce. After Abe kicked Sarah out of their house, Sarah decided that she was going to use Abe’s money to better herself. That’s exactly what she did. She emerged from her marriage as someone stronger. Someone that could stand on her own two feet. So the only problem with this is this douchebag asswipe guy took advantage of her in the middle of her divorce and talked her into having a baby with him. That sounds like something out of left field, doesn’t it? It’s weird, but it worked. It seemed like real life, I guess. Anyhow, Sarah lost her baby boy. He was stillborn. It was heartbreaking.

Abe has decided that he wants Sarah back. The problem is that she doesn’t trust him at all. With good reason. Abe is determined to show her that he’s changed and that he’s loved her all along. He knows it’s just going to take time. Then Sarah gets pregnant. For goodness sake, does this woman believe in condoms???? So now Sarah is worried that Abe is only with her because she’s having his baby. She doesn’t seem to remember that he was with her before she got pregnant.

I just couldn’t get into Sarah. She was a sad, sad case. I understood all her reservations, don’t get me wrong. I just didn’t love her. I did like Abe a lot, but I didn’t love him either. I has a sad about that. I wanted to love this book.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Rock Kiss

three-half-stars


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Review: Rock Redemption by Nalini Singh

Posted November 12, 2018 by Casee in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Rock Redemption by Nalini SinghReviewer: Casee
Rock Redemption (Rock Kiss, #3) by Nalini Singh
Series: Rock Kiss #3
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 Hard (Rock Kiss, #2), Rock Wedding (Rock Kiss, #4)
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: September 18, 2015
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 413
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
four-stars

Kit Devigny could have loved rock guitarist Noah St. John. Their friendship burned with the promise of intense passion and searing tenderness…until the night Noah deliberately shattered her heart.

Noah knows he destroyed something precious the night he chose to betray Kit, but he’d rather she hate him than learn his darkest secret. All he has left is his music. It’s his saving grace, but it doesn’t silence the voices that keep him up at night. Chasing oblivion through endless one-night-stands, he earns a few hours’ sleep and his bad boy reputation.

When a media error sees Noah and Kit dubbed the new “it” couple, Kit discovers her chance at the role of a lifetime hinges on riding the media wave. Wanting—needing—to give Kit this, even if he can’t give her everything, Noah agrees to play the adoring boyfriend. Only the illusion is suddenly too real, too painful, too beautiful…and it may be too late for the redemption of Noah St. John.

This book made me extremely emotional. I can honestly say that I was not expecting that at all. Kit was fairly interesting from Rock Addiction, but I wasn’t really looking forward to her book. She did actually turn out to be my favorite heroine in the Rock Kiss series. I just adored her. I adored her devotion to Noah, how she was down-to-earth, and how loyal she was to her friends. She was well on her way to becoming an A-list actress, but she still stayed true to who she was at her core.

Kit had something special with Noah St. John. Or so she thought. Then she found him in bed with someone else. It devastates her. What she doesn’t know is that Noah planned the whole thing to push her away. Although she doesn’t know it, Noah was successful in his plan. He can’t be close to anyone, least of all someone as innocent and sweet as Kit. When Noah calls her one night from a cheap motel telling her that he loves her, but he can’t do it anymore, Kit races to his rescue. What she sees slays her. Noah is drunk and has a syringe ready to inject into his veins. Kit still hasn’t forgiven him for how he hurt her, but there is no way she is letting him die.

In the time that has gone by since Noah staged the scene for Kit to walk in on him and a random groupie, Noah has realized how vital Kit is to his life. He wants a second chance with her. What he doesn’t want from her is sex. Noah has a deep, dark secret in his past that he will never, ever tell Kit. All he can tell her is that he doesn’t want that with her. Kit doesn’t understand it and sees it as a rejection. Still, she can’t turn down Noah’s desperation to be a part of his life.

The title of this book is so spot on. This book is about Noah’s redemption and how Kit helps him forgive himself. She also makes him realize that there are certain things that don’t need forgiving. There are things in his past that are not his fault. It takes time, but Kit gets through to Noah as only she can. These two together were goals. They were just made for each other. But they had a long, rocky road to get to happiness. Seeing their happy ending made everything worth it. I loved these two.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5.

Rock Kiss

four-stars


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