Tag: Contemporary Romance

Review: Only with You by Lauren Layne

Posted October 19, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Only with You by Lauren LayneReviewer: Rowena
Only with You (The Best Mistake, #1) by Lauren Layne
Series: The Best Mistake #1
Published by Grand Central Publishing, Forever Yours
Publication Date: July 29th 2014
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 369
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four-stars

Love is the Biggest Gamble of All . . .

Cocktail waitress Sophie Dalton doesn't exactly have a life plan. She's perfectly happy being everyone's favorite party girl. But when a Las Vegas bachelorette party goes awry and an uptight businessman mistakes Sophie for a prostitute . . . well, Sophie wonders if it's time to reevaluate her priorities. Swearing off her thigh-high boots for good, Sophie slinks back home with damaged pride-and a jackpot of a hangover.

Yet what happens in Vegas doesn't always stay there. On a trip to Seattle to open a new office, Grayson Wyatt meets his latest employee-who turns out to be the same woman he recently called a hooker. Wealthy and gorgeous, Gray is a man used to getting what he wants. And it doesn't take long to figure out that smart, sassy, sexy Sophie is everything he's been looking for. As their late nights at the office turn into hot morning-afters, they realize their Vegas misunderstanding may lead to the real thing . . .

I picked this series up because in one of her Lauren Layne’s newsletter, she mentions the hero in the second book of this series is her favorite hero (that she wrote) so of course I had to pick both books up so that I can meet this William Thatcher and boy am I glad that I did. This series was great!

Sophie Dalton is a waitress who known in her family as the flighty one. She’s never really settled into a career path and compared to her perfect sister, she needs to get her life together. That fact is smacked into her face when she in Vegas for her cousin’s bachelorette party and gets stuck in an elevator with a guy who mistakes her as a prostitute. The guy is perfectly put together and he’s a rude jerk who acts like he’s too good to make small talk with her so when they get out of the elevator, she’s glad to never see him again.

Grayson Wyatt spends his days saving hotels from ruin and making money. He works and works and works and goes home and works some more. He’s a loner by nature and he’s never really felt comfortable around others so he’s awkward and that fact is driven home when he gets stuck in an elevator with a gorgeous woman who is dressed like a prostitute and he behaves like an ass. Since he’s not all that interested in making things better, he walks away from the experience figuring he’ll never see her again. Only when he moves to Seattle and the first person he makes friends with is his elevator companions sister, things get really interesting.

The last person Sophie expected to see at Sunday dinner was the jerk from the elevator and she’s not at all happy that the hot elevator guy is dating her sister. She may not have wanted him for herself but she didn’t him for her sister. She’s not happy that he’s back in her world and if the glare he’s shooting her way is any indication, he’s not happy either. But one family dinner can’t be all that hard to get through, can it?

Well, that family dinner got Sophie a job working with Gray every day of the work week and they went from not wanting to see each other again to seeing each other every single day. The sparks fly every time they’re within spitting distance of each other and it was such fun getting to know these two.

Gray was a bit hard to like in the beginning because his attitude was so off-putting but I’m glad that I stuck around because boy does he change from beginning to end. He doesn’t have everything together and he’s so damn lonely and he doesn’t know why he keeps saying the wrong things and seeing him finally get his shit together and tell Sophie that she’s his was freaking fantastic. I just adored him to pieces and I completely bought his feelings for Sophie and her feelings for him.

Sophie was such a fun heroine. She was a good person who didn’t have her life together but she wanted to figure things out for herself. She didn’t have the highest self-esteem, something that her family contributed in but she was smart and she was strong and I really liked seeing her come into her own.

Lauren Layne writes sexual tension really well and it showed in this book. The romance between Gray and Sophie was at times frustrating but no less fun because these characters were funny and they were normal and real. I know plenty of Gray’s and Sophie’s and even Brynn’s and Will’s in my real life so I really connected with their characters here.

All in all, this was a fun story that I zipped right through and it’s another winner for me from Lauren Layne. She writes the good stuff, what can I say? I definitely recommend.

Grade: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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Joint Review: Temporary by Sarina Bowen & Sarah Mayberry

Posted September 28, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Joint Review: Temporary by Sarina Bowen & Sarah MayberryReviewer: Holly and Rowena
Temporary by Sarina Bowen, Sarah Mayberry
Published by Self-Published
Publication Date: September 12, 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 302
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four-stars

The most beautiful man I've ever seen is the one who can ruin everything...

The first time I lay eyes on Callan Walker, I know he’ll be trouble. With his smug grin, hot Aussie accent and thousand dollar shoes, he’s just the kind of rich guy who always gets what he wants.

And he wants two things: a night of sin, and my cooperation as he outmaneuvers his powerful mother to take control of his uncle’s estate.

I can’t afford either one. I’m the only thing standing between my little sister and the foster care system. He may have money and charm on his side, but I have something even more powerful -- pure desperation. This temp job at his mother’s company can become a full time job for me. It has to.

But when Callan’s eyes rake over my body, sometimes I forget my obligations. His piercing gaze finds the fun, optimistic girl I used to be and not the tired person I’ve become.

And it works--if only for a moment. Our night together was a mistake. I can't afford to get sucked into his high-powered family’s treachery. But the closer I get to Callan, the more layers I find beneath those expensive clothes. Though I can’t forget this is temporary. He’s temporary. I have too much to lose.

Too bad my foolish heart didn’t get the memo...

Callan Walker cut ties with his family and walked away from the family business two years ago. Since then the only person he really kept in contact with was his Uncle Jack.When Jack passes away, Callan is shocked when he learns his mother is the sole heir to his estate, since he knows Jack had other intentions. If he can find an updated will, he can stop his mother from auctioning off Jack’s prized art collections. It’s unfortunate that Grace Kerrington iis caught up in his family drama, but oh well….

…except the more he gets to know her the more he wants her around. And if he finds the will, she’ll be out of a job…and out of his life.

Holly: When I found out Sarina Bowen and Sarah Mayberry were teaming up to write a contemporary romance I was ridiculously excited. Both are favorite authors. I liked this, but I didn’t love it as much as I expected to. There were a few loose ends that weren’t tied up, and I think that marred my enjoyment a bit.

What did you think of it?

Rowena: I liked it. I thought it was well done and enjoyed the romance between Callan and Grace. Grace was thrown into the middle of a family feud and I thought she handled herself as well as she could without getting herself in trouble. She did what she felt was the right thing to do and I really liked seeing her and Callan grow closer and closer.

What about you, what did you think?

Holly: I liked the romance. Callan seemed like such an arrogant playboy in the beginning, but he had hidden depths. I liked Grace’s work ethic and how committed she was to her sister. Together I thought they were a good match. They complimented each other well.

Rowena: It took me just a minute to warm up to Callan after that entrance into Grace’s life and work. Once, I got over him being a brat, I really came to love both him and Grace and then loving them together. They made a good team.

Holly: What about Callan’s mother? Did you want to kill her, or what?

Rowena: Sure did. I didn’t understand her whole thing too. Why was she such a shit to Callan and Uncle Jack? I didn’t understand what motivated her, surely business can’t run someone’s life that much? Maybe that’s why I’m not rich. I don’t understand. But I did want to run ass over in my car. What a shit.

Holly: That’s one of the things that marred my enjoyment somewhat. There was no closure for me with how she was. I mean, yes, Callan took a stand and made her back down, but I wish we’d gotten to see more background info. I wonder if the next book will have more, though.

Rowena: Yeah, I wanted more resolution with his mother and I also was a bit disappointed that he gave her what she wanted in the end. (is that a spoiler?) My petty ass wanted him to keep his shares and rule the company over her….but no. He had to be the bigger person. Ugh.

Is there going to be another book? I thought this was a stand alone.

Holly: I wanted him to make her suffer, too. He should have at least pushed for 20% more than he got.

Rowena: Exactly! He freaking gave the farm away to his stank ass Mom. I’m annoyed just thinking of it.

Holly: I’m annoyed over it, too. I wanted him to get a little of his own back.

I don’t know if there’s going to be another book. I kind of assumed so, but maybe that’s just wishful thinking on my part?

Rowena: There might be for Callan’s sister, there was a bit of lead in for another book featuring her. I forgot all about her but Nath reminded me.

Holly: Sorry I didn’t clarify. I was thinking of Callan’s sister when I suggested a second book. I haven’t seen either Bowen or Mayberry mention a second book, but I’m hopeful.

Rowena: Were you able to tell which author wrote which chapter? Was I the only person that caught on to the fact that they were each writing one character? LOL.

Holly: Sarina wrote her and Sarah wrote him, right? That’s what it seemed like to me, anyway. I haven’t looked to see if they said who did what.

Rowena: Yeah, that’s how it seemed to me too. Sarina wrote the American character and Sarah wrote the Australian character. I usually can’t tell which author is writing which parts but Sarina was all over Grace’s character in this one. I wonder if I could tell because I don’t read a lot of Sarah Mayberry?

Anyway, what did you think of the romance between Callan and Grace? Was it believable?

Holly: I liked how they were with each other, but I don’t know that I really believed they could make it go long term. His wealth and her family situation seemed to be standing between them. I’m not sure Grace can get past his wealth. How will that work? She’ll live with him and he’ll support her and her sister forever? He’ll buy her expensive things and she’ll just be okay with that? I wish we’d gotten to see more about that.

As a Happy For Now I bought it. I’m just not sure I buy Happily Ever After.

Rowena: I didn’t see it that way. I could see them working long term because I could see them fighting for it. Their feelings for each other was evident and even though Grace was stubborn and headstrong, she was fair and she loved Callan so I could see them finding common ground and learning to live a life together.

Holly: Maybe I just wanted more from them. It ended too soon for me. I’d have liked to see them living together and working some of those things out.

Rowena: Overall, the romance between Callan and Grace was believable for me and I did enjoy getting to know the both of them. I had some gripes with the way that Callan handled the whole Uncle Jack’s affairs thing but I did like how it all came together for him in the end. There was a lot of fabulous secondary characters and enjoyed them as well. Grace’s sister, even Callan’s sister came around for me and I would have loved to get to know Uncle Jack a bit more.

This was fun and I’d give it a 4 out of 5. You?

Holly: I liked both Callan and Grace. Together they worked well and I believed in their HFN. I would have liked a little more from them in terms of forever, but I can’t deny them getting together made me happy. I also really liked the secondary characters and I’d be happy if these two wrote another book together.

3.75 out of 5 from me.

Final Grades

Holly: 3.75 out of 5
Rowena: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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Guest Review: One True Pairing by Cathy Yardley

Posted August 24, 2017 by Jen in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: One True Pairing by Cathy YardleyReviewer: Jen
One True Pairing by Cathy Yardley
Series: Fandom Hearts #2
Also in this series: Level Up
Published by Swerve
Publication Date: July 25th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 200
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four-stars

They couldn't be more opposite, the Hollywood actor and the hometown girl, but all they need is a little convention magic to become the perfect ship in Cathy Yardley's One True Pairing.

Jake Reese needs a decoy girlfriend. Fast. The lead actor of the popular TV show, Mystics, is tired of losing his shirt to overeager fans. Literally. Which is why a chance meeting with gothabilly bookworm-slash-barista Hailey Frost seems almost too perfect to be true. Hailey is not impressed with his TV fame and is desperate to save her family's bookstore. It's a match made in Hollywood, but as the two pretend to date, fan fiction becomes reality. Can this OTP become canon?

I was absolutely charmed by Cathy Yardley’s Level Up when I read it last year, so I was beyond excited that her series was picked up by a major publisher and that there was a new book coming out. I didn’t love One True Pairing as much as Level Up, but I had a great time reading it.

In Level Up, we met the sisters running the failing bookstore, and this book focuses on one of those sisters, Hailey Frost. The sisters are barely keeping their head above water, and Hailey is hustling in every way she can to keep the bookstore open, mostly so that her agoraphobic sister Cressida won’t be forced to move. If you read Level Up, you’ll remember that the women all love a show called Mystics, which is frequently compared to the real-life show Supernatural. Jake Reese is an actor on the show, and when Hailey meets him by chance, she concocts a plan to get his help to give the store publicity. Jake needs Hailey’s help, too. He is worried his contract for Mystics won’t be renewed, and his agent suggests that getting himself out there more would help. Hailey offers to help him increase his popularity if he helps her save the bookstore. Of course, things don’t go as smoothly as either one expects, and both of them have to figure out how to overcome their fears to move forward.

Hailey is a great character. She’s tough and totally devoted to her sisters, but she’s put her own needs aside for years in an effort to take care of them. Unlike so many romance characters, Hailey lives paycheck to paycheck. She worries about money, about healthcare, about what to do when she loses a job. It’s kind of refreshing to read! She is absolutely, totally terrified of relationships, however, and when she starts having feelings for Jake it freaks her out. Jake, though, is my favorite. He is an absolute sweetheart, and I loved that he was so ready to be the kind of partner Hailey needed. I really enjoyed reading about the conflict with his dad as well. His dad was a major Hollywood star, and he had a lot of expectations for how his son’s career should go. You can tell Jake has tried so hard to do what his dad wanted because he just wanted his dad’s love. In reality, though, Jake was just a nice, geeky guy who enjoyed being on Mystics because it was fun and fulfilling, and he needed to give up trying to meet his dad’s expectations of fame and stardom. I wanted to give him a giant hug.

For the most part, the conflicts in the book are realistic. Jake is wary at first about Hailey’s motives, as he should be. In fact, she really IS using him, and I didn’t love that. She wants him to promote her bookstore, and I couldn’t help feeling a little bad that while Jake genuinely wants to get to know her, she wants something else from him. Of course, she is helping him with his PR problems too so it’s not all one-sided, but Jake was such a sweetie that I felt a little protective of him! Because Jake is a genuinely nice guy, the time where he punches someone felt extremely out of character for him, and I thought it was an unnecessary inclusion. Jake could have handled the situation in a million other ways. Still, it was a small blip in an otherwise consistent story.

While I think everyone should read Level Up because it’s so great, you don’t have to read it to enjoy One True Pairing. It’s a smart, modern story and I loved it.

Grade: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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Review: Ready to Run by Lauren Layne

Posted August 15, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 3 Comments

Review: Ready to Run by Lauren LayneReviewer: Rowena
Ready to Run by Lauren Layne
Series: I Do I Don't #1
Published by Loveswept
Publication Date: August 22nd, 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
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three-half-stars

The Bachelor meets The Runaway Bride in this addictive romance novel about a reality TV producer falling for her would-be star: a Montana heartthrob who wants nothing to do with the show.

Jordan Carpenter thinks she’s finally found the perfect candidate for Jilted, a new dating show about runaway grooms: Luke Elliott, a playboy firefighter who’s left not one but three brides at the altar. The only problem? Luke refuses to answer Jordan’s emails or return her calls. Which is how she ends up on a flight to Montana to recruit him in person. It’s not Manhattan but at least the locals in Lucky Hollow seem friendly . . . except for Luke, who’s more intense—and way hotter—than the slick womanizer Jordan expected.

Eager to put the past behind him, Luke has zero intention of following this gorgeous, fast-talking city girl back to New York. But before he can send her packing, Jordan’s everywhere: at his favorite bar, the county fair, even his exes’ book club. Annoyingly, everyone in Lucky Hollow seems to like her—and deep down, she’s starting to grow on him too. But the more he fights her constant pestering, the more Luke finds himself wishing that Jordan would kick off her high heels and make herself comfortable in his arms.

Lauren Layne is writing a Bachelor type series and Ready to Run is the first book. It follows our heroine Jordan Carpenter as she makes her way to a small town Lucky Hollow in Montana to try to get firefighter Luke Elliot to join the cast of her upcoming Bachelor type reality show called Jilted…as the bachelor. Jilted is a reality show that will help runaway grooms find true love.

Jordan can’t figure out why this guy wouldn’t want to join the show. Who would walk away from that much money? Apparently, Luke Elliot has no problem walking away from the money and her. He just wants to live his life out of the limelight and wants nothing to do with a tv show, a big shot city slicker and he doesn’t want his personal life and the reasons he walked away from each of his exes to be public knowledge. He had a good life and he didn’t want strangers all up in his business.

Jordan is trying to make a name for herself in the television business and her boss is really excited about this new reality show. If she wants to move up the corporate business ladder, she’s got to land a heartthrob that viewers will connect with and Luke is the perfect candidate for that. It’s too bad he wants nothing to do with Jilted.

The romance between these two was kind of more of the same that you normally get from Lauren Layne. She writes a lot of those hate-to-love romances and while I liked Luke and Jordan, they weren’t my favorite hate-to-love couple of Layne’s. Jordan was chasing a guy for a tv show with no good reason for not giving up and moving on. She kept pressing this guy even though he made it plain that he wasn’t going to change his mind. She set up camp in his hometown and infiltrated his family, his friends and expected him to what? Be elated? Come on now…

Luke was not happy about the fact that he was attracted to this woman who wanted to turn his life into a freaking circus but damn, the attraction was there and it was strong as hell. The longer she stuck around, the more pissed off he became because the attraction wasn’t anything he planned on acting on but the more time that he spends trying to dodge her, the more he realizes that there’s more to this city girl than meets the eye. His interest in her grows and feelings creep up because this is a romance novel and even though this isn’t my favorite Lauren Layne novel, it still held the charm and warmth that I’ve come to expect from a Lauren Layne book.

I’m definitely interested in reading the other books in this series and I’ve got my fingers crossed that we’ll get to see some of my favorite characters from this book in those ones. I really did like the small town of Lucky Hollow.

Grade: 3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Review: All I Ever Wanted by Luann McLane

Posted August 14, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: All I Ever Wanted by Luann McLaneReviewer: Holly
All I Ever Wanted (Heartthrob #1) by LuAnn McLane
Series: Heartthrob #1
Published by Pocket Star
Publication Date: July 24th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 288
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
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two-half-stars

From author LuAnn McLane comes the first in a brand new series featuring the sexy Heart brothers: formerly the members of the cult-phenomenon boy band Heartbeat, they’re all grown up and back together for one last reunion tour….

When Grady Heart, former lead singer of the cult-phenomenon boy band Heartbeat and eldest of the brothers, decides to bring the group back together for a highly anticipated reunion concert, he doesn’t expect to be met with so much resistance from his brothers. He also doesn’t expect them to hire his ex-girlfriend and ex-Heartbeat choreographer Arabella York to help the band rock some new dance moves.

Back in Heartbeat’s glory days the brooding bad boy fell hard for Arabella; the studious, stable dance teacher tamed Grady’s wild side but her lack of trust in him eventually drove them apart. Although their chemistry burns hotter than ever, Grady tries to keep his relationship with Arabella strictly professional this time around but in his heart, he might just still long to find out what could have been.

Grady Heart and his brothers were a wildly popular teen boy band. They quit performing when their mother got sick. Now that she’s gone, Grady is organizing a benefit reunion concert in her memory. All his brothers are on board, but there’s a problem…the slick dance moves they used as teens just aren’t possible now that they’re adults. Grady wants everything to be perfect since this is such an important cause. Even so, when his brothers suggest they contact their old choreographer, Arabella, Grady refuses. She broke his heart once. He isn’t willing to give her a second chance. Too bad for him, his brothers go behind his back and call her. Faced with the prospect of spending time with the woman who disappeared without backward glance, Grady admits he still isn’t over her. But he’s not going to give her his heart again.

Arabella is in a financial pickle. She opened a string of successful fitness studios, but she got in over her head and expanded too quickly. Now she either needs a serious infusion of cash or she’s going to be forced to take on a demanding partner who wants to rebrand her entire operation. But facing bad boy Grady Heart again after he ruined her for love isn’t high on her list of fun things to do. Still, she doesn’t have much choice if she wants to save her studios. Now she just needs to keep a calm head around Grady. There’s no way she’s going to risk falling for him again. She learned the hard way the rockstar life is not for her.

I really struggled with this book. I like rock star romances and figured a light boy band second chance love story was right up my alley. Sadly the brothers seemed to suffer from Peter Pan Syndrome. Despite all being in their late 20’s-early 30’s, they still acted like teenagers. The heroine was just as bad. Between her refusal to talk things out like an adult and the way she ran every time something got hard, I had a hard time buying that she was an adult with a successful string of dance studios under her.

I really believed Grady cared for her, but I wasn’t as convinced of Arabella’s feelings. She was closed off and ran at the first sign of trouble or drama. Because she didn’t stick with him, despite her saying she loved Grady, I didn’t buy it.

The premise was good, and I enjoyed some of it. I may continue on with the series.

2.75 out of 5

two-half-stars


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