Tag: Contemporary Romance

Review: Devil’s Cut by J.R. Ward

Posted February 26, 2018 by Casee in Reviews | 3 Comments

Review: Devil’s Cut by J.R. WardReviewer: Casee
Devil's Cut (The Bourbon Kings, #3) by J.R. Ward
Series: The Bourbon Kings #3
Also in this series: The Bourbon Kings, The Bourbon Kings, The Angels' Share
Published by Ballantine
Publication Date: August 1st 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 418
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In #1 New York Times bestselling author J. R. Ward’s thrilling finale of the Bourbon Kings series, the Bradford family dynasty teeters on the edge of collapse after the murder of their patriarch—and a shocking arrest.

At first, the death of William Baldwine, the head of the Bradford family, was ruled a suicide. But then his eldest son and sworn enemy, Edward, came forward and confessed to what was, in fact, a murder. Now in police custody, Edward mourns not the disintegration of his family or his loss of freedom . . . but the woman he left behind. His love, Sutton Smythe, is the only person he has ever truly cared about, but as she is the CEO of the Bradford Bourbon Company’s biggest competitor, any relationship between them is impossible. And then there’s the reality of the jail time that Edward is facing.

Lane Baldwine was supposed to remain in his role of playboy, forever in his big brother Edward’s shadow. Instead he has become the new head of the family and the company. Convinced that Edward is covering for someone else, Lane and his true love, Lizzie King, go on the trail of a killer—only to discover a secret that is as devastating as it is game-changing.

As Lane rushes to discover the truth, and Sutton finds herself irresistibly drawn to Edward in spite of his circumstances, the lives of everyone at Easterly will never be the same again. For some, this is good; for others, it could be a tragedy beyond imagining. Only one thing’s for certain: Love survives all things. Even murder.

I’m sitting here reading my reviews of The Bourbon Kings (which I loved) and Angels’ Share (which I also loved) and wondering what the holy hell happened. This series had so much promise. The biggest promise was that it was only three (three!) books. I don’t know how that could get messed up, especially after the first two were pretty spectacular. And hello? That’s coming from one of JRW’s biggest critics. I didn’t just jump into this book, I dove into it headfirst only to come up gasping for air and wondering what the fuck happened between Angels’ Share and now. Even after a week I still have that WTF look on my face and if I had a paper copy of the book, I would burn it.

Devil’s Cut brings us back to the world of the Bradford Bourbon Company and the Baldwine family. It picks up exactly where Angels’ Share left off. Edward, the eldest Bradford sibling has confessed to murdering their father. He did have motive. His father arranged to have him kidnapped when he was on business in South America and didn’t pay the ransom. Edward never fully recovered. One problem with that scenario is that Edward could never have overpowered his father in a million years. It’s laughable. You will immediately pick up on the fact that he’s covering for someone.

Lane and Lizzie are as solid as ever. Lizzie is getting a little worn out and not just because she’s pregnant. What Lane is going through trying to save the family name and business isn’t anything to sneeze at. Lizzie is trying to help him however she can and do her job at Easterly, but it takes its toll on a person. Though she loves Lane, she does miss the days where she went home to her farm and got a little peace from the Bradford drama. However she doesn’t regret her decision to be with Lane. As for Lane, he adores Lizzie and will do anything she wants. Though her pregnancy throws him for a loop, he will do everything he can so he is nothing like the father he had.

Edward is in the pokey for a crime he didn’t commit. There is evidence, but the blind and ignorant detective has a prejudice against rich people and is convinced that Edward is guilty. It is laughable. I mean it’s admirable what Edward is trying to do, but it’s laughable that anyone would believe it. Just as laughable is the person that actually did the deed.

Gin. Ah, Gin. She changed the most from book one to three. In book one, she was most worried about her comfort. By book three, she realized what a disaster of a person she was. She had a daughter with the man she loved and she denied them both the opportunity to know each other. As punishment to the man no less. She didn’t consider her daughter, had never really considered her daughter until now. She has finally realized what a tragedy of a mother she is and seeks to change that by being there for Amelia. The first mistake she needs to rectify? Introducing SamuelT and Amelia. She knows it will damage her relationship with SamuelT beyond repair, but that is a price she is willing to pay. Gin’s journey was fascinating to read. I really enjoyed reading the growth she made as a character.

So what was my problem with the book? Where do I start? Everything was too pat. Edward got out of jail because the person that killed his father was on their deathbed. Seriously, this person was dying and was able to kill? I am rolling my eyes so hard my eyeballs hurt. Bring in Sutton Smythe who was a BBC competitor…she and Edward always had an attraction, even love, but Edward stopped that when he was rescued from South America. He never really recovered. Now in the space of about 2.75 pages he is miraculously emotionally healed and decides he is in love with Sutton and they are going to live happily ever after. Seriously.

Even the ending with Gin was too pat. Lane and Lizzie? That worked because their story has been told over the course of three books. Even Gin and SamuelT’s story has been going on that long. But they’ve been at odds for the length of three books. They can’t suddenly be okay in the last five pages. That does not work for this reader. It just doesn’t. There are other things I don’t want to spoil, but those things didn’t work for me either. And the BIG MISUNDERSTANDINGS? Nothankyouverymuch.

This book was just rushed. A big disappointment after the first two of the series.

The Bourbon Kings

Grade: 3 out of 5


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Throwback Thursday Review: The Girl Most Likely To… by Susan Donovan

Posted February 22, 2018 by Casee in Reviews | 10 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: The Girl Most Likely To… by Susan DonovanReviewer: Casee
The Girl Most Likely To... by Susan Donovan
Published by St. Martin's Paperbacks
Publication Date: December 30th 2008
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 340
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Kat Cavanaugh was sixteen when she hitchhiked out of Persuasion, West Virginia and vowed never to return. Who could blame her? She'd just stumbled upon her father's adulterous affair, found out she was pregnant, got dumped by her boyfriend, and kicked out of her house and school . . . all in a single afternoon. Twenty years have gone by and Kat's back—gorgeous, rich, and looking for an apology from everyone who'd turned their backs on her. First on that list is Riley Bohland, the boy who broke her heart before she could tell him about the baby.

But Kat didn't count on Riley having his own axe to grind, or that he'd be just as delicious as he was at sixteen. She also didn't count on her heart opening at the sight of him. When their anger ignites a passion intense enough to burn through two decades of secrets and lies, Kat must question everything she thought she knew about her past. And what about her future? The only place to find the answers may be in Riley's arms…

***Every Thursday in 2018 we will be posting throwback reviews of our favorite and not-so-favorite books.

This review was originally posted on December 29, 2008.

I adore Susan Donovan. She writes some of the best contemporaries I’ve ever read. He Loves Lucy and Take a Chance on Me are a few of my favorite contemps of all time. That’s why I was so disappointed when I read that this would be Susan’s last contemporary. I mean, wtf?

Kat Cavanaugh left home at sixteen, alone and pregnant. When she went to tell her boyfriend that she was going to have a baby, he dumped her before she got the chance. Kat left town that night and has never returned. Until now, twenty years later. After coming into some unexpected money, Kat decides to return Persuasion to show her parents and Riley Bohland that she made it just fine without them. Little did she know what she would find.

Riley never knew that Kat was pregnant that long ago night. Being pressured by his father to break-up with Kat, he only did it to appease his father and fully intended to get back together with her. He had known that Kat was the one for him years ago, but everyone said that they were too young to know that. So when he found out that Kat left town without a word, he was devestated. That’s until he found out her secret a little more than eighteen years later.

Kat is stunned at Riley’s anamosity toward her. What right does he have to act like he was wronged? She was the one that was dumped, pregnant and alone at sixteen. To Kat’s dismay, the explosive attraction between them at sixteen was even more prominent at thirty six. Even with all the unsolved issues between them, Riley and Kat can’t stay away from each other.

While this book wasn’t up there with He Loves Lucy and Take a Chance on Me, it still had Donovan’s trademark humor. There were a few things the book could have gone without, including Kat’s psychotic father. There was already Riley’s stalker ex-girlfriend and the Bed-and-Breakfast owner who decided that she wanted Riley’s brother, even though he was already taken. Any one of these things by itself would have been okay, but all three together was a tad over the top.

Another thing I think Donovan did a great job on was the confrontation between Kat and her son, Aidan. Finding out he had a father after twenty years is not something that Aidan easily accepts. Especially since the mother he has loved so deeply lied to him. The book wouldn’t have been as good if Aidan would have easily accepted that Kat lied to him. Also, the reunion between father and son is “awwww” inducing.

Overall, I loved this book which makes me that much more disappointed that it will be her last contemp. Boo. and am so excited that she’s coming out with a new trilogy next year. w00t!

Rating: 4.25 out of 5.


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Review: Whiskey Sharp: Unraveled by Lauren Dane

Posted January 30, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Whiskey Sharp: Unraveled by Lauren DaneReviewer: Holly
Unraveled (Whiskey Sharp, #1) by Lauren Dane
Series: Whiskey Sharp #1
Published by Harlequin Books
Publication Date: January 30th 2018
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
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The sharpest ache comes from wanting what you think you can't have

Maybe Dolan has lived independent, free-spirited and unattached since leaving home at sixteen. Whiskey Sharp, Seattle's sexy vintage-styled barbershop and whiskey bar, gave her a job and a reason to put down roots. Cutting hair by day, losing herself drumming in a punk rock band by night, she's got it good.

But a longtime crush that turns into a hot, edgy night with brooding and bearded Alexsei Petrov makes it a hell of a lot better.

Maybe's blunt attitude and carnal smile hooked Alexsei from the start. Protecting people is part of his nature and Maybe is meant to be his even if she doesn't know it. Yet. He can't help himself from wanting to protect and care for her.

But Maybe's fiery independent spirit means pushing back when Alexsei goes too far. Still, he's not afraid to do a little pushing of his own to get what he wants her in his life, and his bed, for good. Maybe's more intoxicating than all the liquor on his shelf and he's not afraid to ride the blade's edge to bind her to him."

Maybe Dolan and her sister Rachel bought a house together in Seattle after a tragedy nearly broke Rachel. Maybe picks up a job at Whiskey Sharp, a trendy barbershop/bar. The owner, Alexsei Petrov is sexy as all get out, but since he’s in a relationship he’s off limits. When it turns out Maybe and Rachel bought a place next to his aunt, they’re eventually brought into the family fold. Things are status quo for two years, until Alexsei and his girlfriend break up. Maybe sees her shot to get him between the sheets and goes for it.

Alexsei needed time after his breakup to get his head in the right place, but enough time has passed that he’s willing to jump in with Maybe when she makes a pass. He’s surprised to find he knows so little about her, considering they’ve been working together for years. They have chemistry in spades, but Maybe is skittish when it comes to commitment.

Maybe’s main priority is being with her sister and avoiding her parents. They’ve treated her like crap her whole life and now they blame her for her sister leaving them. They’re pretty abusive and she’d cut them off completely if it weren’t for her sister needing them. She understands what family is, and Alexsei and his are some of the best, but he can be overbearing. After the way her parents controlled her growing up, Maybe can’t deal with any kind of control from her boyfriend.

I liked that Maybe worked hard to overcome her past and get out from under her parent’s thumb. I wish Dane had further explored the reasons for them treating her the way they did. As it was, things were left pretty open. I assume we’ll understand more when we get Rachel’s book, but that part of the book felt unfinished. Despite the issues she had with her parents, Maybe was self-confident and knew her own mind. I liked that she was willing to make the first move with Alexsei and wasn’t afraid to be honest about her feelings.

Alexsei was a great fit for her. Strong and tender at the same time, he was a rock for her and her sister both. Once he claimed them as family, he was willing to stand in front of them, beside them, or behind them as they needed. Though he could be the quintessential alpha-male, he wasn’t afraid to step back and let Maybe handle things herself. They had great chemistry and I loved how they came to mean so much to each other over the course of the novel.

The book ended on something of a cliffhanger. While the romantic elements were mostly wrapped up, a lot of the book was left open. As I said, I’m sure we’ll get more answers in the subsequent books, but this one felt unfinished.

Dane is a fabulous storyteller. I was wrapped up in Maybe and Alexsei from the start. Great chemistry, witty banter and a kickass heroine make this worth reading despite the questions left unanswered. I’m really looking forward to the next book.

3.5 out of 5


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Review: Judgment Road by Christine Feehan

Posted January 22, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 10 Comments

Review: Judgment Road by Christine FeehanReviewer: Holly
Judgment Road (Torpedo Ink #1) by Christine Feehan
Series: Torpedo Ink #1
Published by Berkley Books
Publication Date: January 23rd 2018
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romantic Suspense, Paranormal Romance
Pages: 304
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An outlaw motorcycle club sets up shop next door to Sea Haven in the dangerously sexy new series from #1 New York Times bestselling author Christine Feehan.

A brutal education in a Russian training facility for assassins has taught this group of men one thing: It's a long road to redemption.JUDGMENT ROAD

As the enforcer of the Torpedo Ink motorcycle club, Reaper lives for riding and fighting. He's a stone-cold killer who turns his wrath on those who deserve it. Feelings are a weakness he can't afford--until a gorgeous bartender gets under his skin...

Near Sea Haven, the small town of Caspar has given Anya Rafferty a new lease on life. And she's desperate to hold on to her job at the biker bar, even if the scariest member of the club seems to have it out for her. But Reaper's imposing presence and smoldering looks just ratchet up the heat.

Anya's touch is everything Reaper doesn't want--and it brands him to the bone. But when her secrets catch up to her, Reaper will have to choose between Anya and his club--his heart and his soul.

Trigger warnings: Abuse, Rape, Pedophilia and More. This is a dark book.

Judgment Road is the first book in Christine Feehan’s Torpedo Ink series, a spinoff of the Drake Sisters/Sisters of the Heart series’ set in the Northern California Coastal town of Sea Haven.

This was difficult to read at times. It’s a dark, MC romance with a lot of the bad elements that come with MC’s. I didn’t expect that since Feehan hasn’t gone down that road before, and the two previous series’ set in this world weren’t like that. Had I gone into it with different expectations, I may not have been as surprised by the violence as I was.

Reaper – and all his brothers/sisters in the MC – is seriously messed up. He suffered major trauma as a child and was shaped to be a monster by his handlers. He’s barely kept hold of his humanity and doesn’t trust himself with Anya. Several times he actually physically or mentally abused her while trapped in a nightmare, so he was right to be concerned. I actually liked Reaper and how he was able to maintain on his own for all those years. But he had no business being with Anya. He knew it, but couldn’t walk away. I’d have preferred if he sought actual help for his problems.

The paranormal elements aren’t focused on much here. Each member of the MC has some kind of psychic ability – which is what made them targets as children – but it isn’t really talked about. We see some examples of it, but I’m not sure how much new readers will understand.

I’m struggling to pin down my feelings for this book. There were elements I enjoyed, like the brotherhood of the MC and Anya on her own. But her relationship with Reaper was complicated and pretty messed up. I didn’t end the book feeling warm and fuzzy about them. Anya often recognized his – and the Club’s – behavior as unhealthy and thought she should get out, but then she’d make the conscious decision to stay. Something about her blowing hot and cold really pulled me out of the story. I think I’d have preferred her to either be oblivious to how weak she was being, or to be strong enough to walk away. As it was, she just seemed like a victim. She’s an orphan who spent much of her life on the streets. Despite some trouble with her previous employer, she’s doing her best to stay on the straight and narrow. She desperately needs her job as she’s currently homeless and living in her car. When things start going bad between her and Reaper, the club steps in and refuses to let her leave. Since she’s already alone in the world and struggling just to make it each day, their actions felt like forcible kidnapping rather than the family concern Feehan tried to make it out to be. I could maybe have moved on from that, but there were other things that pushed her over the edge for me. Spoilers below.

View Spoiler »

Judgment Road a dark, gritty romance. It is not for the faint of heart. I can’t decide how I feel about it in the end. I’m not sure if my feelings were tainted by my expectations based on previous books set in the world. I’m giving it a 3 out of 5, but I may change my mind later.

3 out of 5


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Sunday Spotlight: Now That You Mention It by Kristan Higgins

Posted January 21, 2018 by Holly in Features | 3 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

Sunday Spotlight

I haven’t read a book by Kristan Higgins in ages, but the “coming home” premise is one of my favorites. I’m looking forward to this.

Sunday Spotlight: Now That You Mention It by Kristan HigginsNow That You Mention It by Kristan Higgins
Published by Hqn
Publication Date: December 26th 2017
Pages: 384
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble

One step forward. Two steps back. The Tufts scholarship that put Nora Stuart on the path to becoming a Boston medical specialist was a step forward. Being hit by a car and then overhearing her boyfriend hit on another doctor when she thought she was dying? Two major steps back.

Injured in more ways than one, Nora feels her carefully built life cracking at the edges. There's only one place to land: home. But the tiny Maine community she left fifteen years ago doesn't necessarily want her. At every turn, someone holds the prodigal daughter of Scupper Island responsible for small-town drama and big-time disappointments.

With a tough islander mother who's always been distant and a wild-child sister in jail, unable to raise her daughter--a withdrawn teen as eager to ditch the island as Nora once was--Nora has her work cut out for her if she's going to take what might be her last chance to mend the family.

But as some relationships crumble around her, others unexpectedly strengthen. Balancing loss and opportunity, a dark event from her past with hope for the future, Nora will discover that tackling old pain makes room for promise...and the chance to begin again.

Order the Book:



Jake helped me off the ferry. It was a three-hour ride, and I felt a little seasick. Or a little nauseous from my throbbing knee.

Or maybe it was just being back home.

Without a word, he got my bags and led Boomer off the boat, leaving me to crutch it alone, hobbling awkwardly up the gangplank, then onto the old dock.

Though it was mid-April, spring had not yet come to the island. My mom wasn’t here yet, and the downtown was quiet. A raw wind blew the smell of fish and salt and donuts from Lala’s Bakery, and with it, childhood memories. On cold winter Sundays, my father used to wake Lily and me at 5:00 a.m. to get the first donuts Lala made, almost too hot to hold, the sugar crusting our faces, the heat steaming in the wintry air.

I would see her soon, my sister. I would set things right again. That was the chance Beantown Bug Killers had given me, and I would make good on it.

And I would find out what happened with my parents.

Where my father was. If he was still alive, I was going to find him, damn it.

When I was in my first year of residency, I’d stitched up a former Boston cop who did private investigation. I hired him to find my father, but he’d come up empty. With such a common name—William Stuart—and nothing else to go on since the day he left, the cop didn’t turn up anything. It was time to try again, and this time, start from square one.

But for now, I had to get down the dock. One thing at a time.

With the sling, the brace and the crutch, I had to think about every step, and the rough, splintered wood of the dock didn’t help. Step, shuffle, crutch. Step, shuffle, crutch. It was slow going.

Jake was already tying Boomer’s leash to the bike rack; I was only halfway there. He walked back to his boat. “Thank you so much, Mr. Ferriman,” I said as he passed. He grunted but didn’t look at me, the charmer.

Slightly out of breath, I got the end of the dock and patted my dog’s head. A seagull landed on a wooden post, and Boomer woofed softly. Otherwise, the island was quiet, and ominously so, like one of Stephen King’s towns. I missed the cheerful duck boats of Boston Common, the elegant shops of Newbury Street. Here, nothing was open.

Scupper Island Clam Shack, where I had worked for two summers, sat at the end of Main Street, right on the water. It wouldn’t open until Memorial Day, if it was the same as it used to be.

I’d worked there with Sullivan Fletcher, one of the two Fletcher boys in my class. Sully had been in a car accident our senior year shortly before I left Scupper, and I wondered how he was. I’d wondered often over the years. Word had been that he’d recover, but I’d never asked for details (nor was my mother the detail type).

I looked to my right, and there was my mother’s elderly Subaru turning onto Main Street. I waved, not that she could miss me; I was the only one here. She pulled over, turned off the engine and got out, looking the same as ever, and unexpected tears clogged my throat. “Hi, Mom,” I said, starting to move forward for a hug.

She nodded instead, then hefted my two suitcases into the back of the car. “I didn’t know you were bringing your dog,” she said. Boomer wagged his fluffy tail, oblivious. “He better leave Tweety alone.”

Tweety was Mom’s parakeet (and favorite creature in the world.) “Tweety’s still alive, then?”

“Of course he is. Where’s that dog gonna sleep?”

“It’s good to see you, too, Mom,” I said. “I’m fine, thanks. In a lot of pain, actually, but doing okay. After being run down in the street. By a van. Sustaining many injuries, in case you forgot.”

“I didn’t forget, Nora,” she said. “Get in the cah.”

Boomer jumped in at the magical words, filling the entire backseat.

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About the Author

Kristan Higgins


Kristan Higgins is the New York Times, USA TODAY, Wall Street Journal and Publishers Weekly bestselling author of 18 novels, which have been translated into more than twenty languages. Her books have received dozens of awards and accolades, including starred reviews from Kirkus, The New York Journal of Books, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and Booklist. She is a five-time nominee for The Kirkus Prize for Best Work of Fiction, and her books regularly appear on the lists for best novels of the year of many prestigious journals and review sites.

Kristan lives in Connecticut with her heroic firefighter husband, two children with advanced vocabularies and long eyelashes, two frisky rescue dogs and an occasionally friendly cat.

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