Tag: Contemporary Romance

Review: Midnight Valentine by J.T. Geissinger

Posted August 10, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Midnight Valentine by J.T. GeissingerReviewer: Holly
Midnight Valentine by J.T. Geissinger
Published by Self-Published
Publication Date: February 6, 2018
Point-of-View: First
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Fantasy
Pages: 316
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
three-half-stars

A hauntingly powerful love story in the tradition of The Notebook and The Time Traveler’s Wife.

True love never dies.

Megan and Cassidy were childhood sweethearts who thought they would be together forever. Fate had other plans. Soon after they were married, Cass’s life was tragically cut short. Still grieving her soul mate five years later, Megan moves to the small town of Seaside, Oregon, hoping to rebuild her life.

Her first night there, she meets the town recluse, Theo. Withdrawn, guarded, and mysteriously silent since a terrible accident left him scarred, Theo takes an instant and inexplicable dislike to Megan. But as their paths cross again and again, Megan becomes convinced there’s more to Theo than meets the eye. When she discovers the reason for his silence, his nightmares, and especially his pointed dislike, Megan becomes convinced of something far more astonishing.

Is a second chance at a once-in-a-lifetime love possible, or is a broken heart the cruelest kind of liar?

I read and really enjoyed Burn for You by J.T. Geissinger, so I figured I’d try some of her other works. Her paranormal series wasn’t as successful for me, but I thought I’d enjoy Midnight Valentine since 1) It’s a contemporary and 2) It has stellar reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. Plus, the blurb was really intriguing. With the exception of the Epilogue, the story is told in first person from the heroine’s point-of-view.

After the death of her husband, Megan moves to a small Oregon coastal town to finally realize their dream of restoring an old bed-and-breakfast. Upon arrival in town she meets mute, scarred contractor Theo. Despite having never met him before, Theo seems to hate her and Megan can’t figure out why. She decides to go with another contractor, even though he comes highly recommended and she’s told he’s the best. What does being the best matter if the man can’t stand her, right? Except it seems the universe has other ideas. Strange coincidences keep happening until Megan finally has no choice but to hire Theo.

Though his eyes burn with hatred when he looks at her, they’re both drawn to each other. It seems like Theo knows her, but how can that be possible when they’ve never met? As Megan tries to deal with her grief and torment over the loss of her husband, she also tries to make sense of her strange desire for a man who seems to hate her..yet is drawn to her in spite of himself.

This is a hard book to review without spoilers. I really enjoyed the humor and wit of the heroine, Megan. Her sarcastic sense of humor had me laughing more than once. I also enjoyed the mystery surrounding Theo and why he’d turned mute. Toward the end, the book took a dark turn. Even though I saw it coming, I didn’t expect it to go that dark. The tone of the early parts of the book were light, despite the trauma Megan suffered. So the last quarter, by comparison, read almost like a different book.

View Spoiler »

None of what happened was a surprise as I’d figured it out early on, but the way it was told kind of killed it the story a bit. While I enjoyed Midnight Valentine overall, I wasn’t left feeling warm and fuzzy when I closed it. Still, it was very well written and I can’t deny I was pulled in by the story of Megan and Theo, both separately and together.

I’m conflicted about the grade. The first 1/2 was a solid 4 for me. The humor, the wit, even the slow burning romance. All of it worked. The last 1/2 pulled my grade down. Ultimately I’m giving it:

2.75 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Summer Challenge Review: Sustained by Emma Chase

Posted August 8, 2018 by Casee in Reviews | 3 Comments

Summer Challenge Review: Sustained by Emma ChaseReviewer: Casee
Sustained (The Legal Briefs, #2) by Emma Chase
Series: The Legal Briefs #2
Also in this series: Overruled (The Legal Briefs, #1), Sustained (The Legal Briefs, #2), Appealed (The Legal Briefs, #3), Sidebarred (The Legal Briefs, #3.5)
Published by Gallery Books
Publication Date: August 25, 2015
Point-of-View: First
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 267
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Goodreads
four-stars

A knight in tarnished armor is still a knight.

When you’re a defense attorney in Washington, DC, you see firsthand how hard life can be, and that sometimes the only way to survive is to be harder. I, Jake Becker, have a reputation for being cold, callous, and intimidating—and that suits me just fine. In fact, it’s necessary when I’m breaking down a witness on the stand.

Complications don’t work for me—I’m a “need-to-know” type of man. If you’re my client, tell me the basic facts. If you’re my date, stick to what will turn you on. I’m not a therapist or Prince Charming—and I don’t pretend to be.

Then Chelsea McQuaid and her six orphaned nieces and nephews came along and complicated the ever-loving hell out of my life. Now I'm going to Mommy & Me classes, One Direction concerts, the emergency room, and arguing cases in the principal's office.

Chelsea’s too sweet, too innocent, and too gorgeous for her own good. She tries to be tough, but she’s not. She needs someone to help her, defend her…and the kids.

And that — that, I know how to do.

This was an interesting book. Not only was it written in first person (which I don’t particularly enjoy reading), it was written solely from the hero’s point-of-view. One of the reasons that I don’t enjoy first person is because I like rotating points-of-view. It just makes it more interesting when I can get into multiple characters’ heads. There are very few authors that can hold my interest from one point of view. I’m relieved happy to say that Emma Chase is one of them.

Jake Becker seems like a world class a-hole when the book first starts. A world class man whore a-hole. The guy has no illusions about himself. He knows what he wants out of life and what he wants from women. From life, he wants everything. From women, he wants nothing but sex. He’s seen one of his colleagues fall into domestic bliss and is certain that life is not the way for him. That is until Rory McQuaid picks his pocket. Then his whole life is turned upside down. He finds himself in the middle of a family of seven, suddenly a father figure for six orphans. Lusting after the kids’ guardian makes Jake feel like the lowest of the low, but he is attracted to Chelsea McQuaid like he’s never been attracted to anyone before. He’s actually interested in what comes out of her mouth, not what her mouth can do to him. Which is all together new for him.

As Jake gets in deeper and deeper, his commitment to his work lessens. Suddenly he is his domesticated colleague, which freaks him the hell out. He tries to run like hell in the opposite direction. Problem…not only can he not stay away from Chelsea, he can’t stay away from the kids. He’s found himself attached to the six rugrats. They’ve wound themselves throughout his life and around his heart. It’s only when he starts to consider the serious damage he could do to their lives that he really reconsiders being in them at all.

I found this book thoroughly enjoyable. Watching Jake fall for this broken family was really heartwarming. That he was so opposite of a family man made it all the better. Late in the book, the kids were taken away from Chelsea. I was wrecked reading about it. I almost, almost ugly cried. Then after, when Riley confronts Jake about leaving them? Wowza. Intense stuff. Emma Chase did such a fabulous job of getting all the characters feelings to the reader even though the book was only from Jake’s POV. I commend her for that. I also commend her for keeping this reader engrossed in the book and wanting more.

Oh, one more thing? This book was fucking steaming hot. Yup.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Legal Briefs

four-stars


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Review: Melt for You by J.T. Geissinger

Posted July 27, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Melt for You by J.T. GeissingerReviewer: Holly
Melt for You (Slow Burn, #2) by J.T. Geissinger
Series: Slow Burn #2
Also in this series: Burn for You (Slow Burn, #1)
Published by Montlake Romance
Publication Date: May 15, 2018
Point-of-View: First Person
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 344
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Goodreads
three-stars

A wallflower gets seduction tips from a playboy athlete—until love changes the rules.

Socially awkward Joellen Bixby has a date every Saturday—with her cat, a pint of ice cream, and fantasies of the way-too-handsome Michael Maddox. She’d give anything to win over the unattainable CEO of her firm, but how can she when she blends in so well with her cubicle? The answer may be closer than she thinks.

Cameron McGregor is a cocky, tattooed Scottish rugby captain who just moved in next door. He’s not Jo’s type—at all—but the notorious playboy is offering to teach the wallflower everything he knows about inspiring desire. Though a lot of women have rumpled Cam’s kilt, Jo is special. Far from the ugly duckling she thinks she is, in Cam’s eyes she’s sharp, funny, and effortlessly sexy. Now, thanks to him, Jo is blooming with confidence and has the man of her dreams within reach.

Unfortunately for Cam, he’s just helped to push the woman of his dreams into the arms of another man—and now he’s in the fight of his life to keep this beauty from getting away.

Melt for You is the second book in the Slow Burn series. Aside from the “slow burning” romances, I’m not exactly sure how these books are connected. None of the characters from this book were featured in the first book, Burn for You.

Joellen Bixby is a quiet, rather passive woman who has had a crush on the CEO of her company for about 10 years – ever since she started working there. She pines away for him while at work, then spends her evenings at home with her cat. She doesn’t like confrontation, but when her next-door neighbor starts blaring rap and throwing wild parties, she can’t take it anymore. She marches over there and lays into him. Cameron McGregor is a Scottish rugby captain who traded apartments with his cousin for the holidays. He makes a bargain with her. If she cooks him dinner, he’ll turn his music off. She wants nothing to do with the arrogant ass, but she wants even less to do with his blaring music, so she agrees. When Cam finds out she’s been pining for her boss, and said boss just happens to be going through a divorce, he offers to help her win him over.

I really loved Cameron. He was so much fun, and such a champion for Joellen. She has very low self-esteem stemming from how she was raised. Her mother, father and sister are all stereotypical California models, while she’s (according to them, and herself) short, fat and ugly. Cam was great at pushing her to see herself in a different way. I really enjoyed the writing and the interactions between Cam and Joellen. She was sassy and strong when dealing with him. I loved when he riled her up on purpose.

What didn’t work for me was Joellen and her insecurities. I get it. She had a crap mom. She was put down most of her life. But the choices she made because of her low self-esteem really started to get on my nerves as the book wore on. Maybe if she’d come to her senses sooner I would have overlooked it. As it stands, while I loved the first half of the book and Cam, the second half really killed my overall enjoyment.

3 out of 5

Slow Burn

three-stars


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Throwback Thursday Review: Moonlight Road by Robyn Carr

Posted June 14, 2018 by Casee in Reviews | 4 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: Moonlight Road by Robyn CarrReviewer: Casee
Moonlight Road by Robyn Carr
Series: Virgin River #10
Also in this series: Virgin River, Whispering Rock, Virgin River, A Virgin River Christmas, Second Chance Pass, Second Chance Pass, Second Chance Pass, Temptation Ridge, Paradise Valley, Forbidden Falls, Forbidden Falls, Angel's Peak, Forbidden Falls, Promise Canyon, Wild Man Creek, Promise Canyon, Harvest Moon, Bring Me Home for Christmas, Redwood Bend, Sunrise Point, Shelter Mountain, Moonlight Road
Published by MIRA
Publication Date: March 2, 2010
Point-of-View: Third Person
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 409
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Goodreads
three-stars

WITH HER BELOVED YOUNGER SIBLINGS SETTLED AND HAPPY, ERIN FOLEY HAS EMPTY NEST SYNDROME. AT AGE THIRTY-FIVE.

So she's hitting the pause button on her life and holing up in a secluded (but totally upgraded --- she's not into roughing it!) cabin near Virgin River. Erin is planning on getting to know herself ... not the shaggy-haired mountain man she meets.

In fact, beneath his faded fatigues and bushy beard, Aiden Riordan is a doctor, recharging for a summer after leaving the navy. He's intrigued by the pretty, slightly snooty refugee from the rat race --- her meditating and journaling are definitely keeping him at arm's length. He'd love to get closer ... if his scruffy exterior and crazy ex-wife don't hold him back.

But maybe it's something in the water --- unlikely romances seem to take root in Virgin River ... helped along by some well-intentioned meddling, of course.

Reading last week’s Throwback review got me all nostalgic. I started reading all the old Virgin River reviews when I came across my review of Moonlight Road. Last week’s review and this review are so different that I had to share. For real though, what happened to this series?

This review was originally posted on March 16, 2010.

This commenter had it right. The Virgin River books are starting to read more like women’s health manuals for the premenopausal (and even post menopausal) than real romance. There is actually a scene between Mel and Jack where Jack tells her that HE misses HER periods. Why? Because having sex with her during her period was a turn-on. You know, he could show her that he wants her no matter what. SERIOUSLY. What man says that? Even Jack—my favorite VR hero—shouldn’t be able to get away with that. Because men don’t say that. Do they?

I really liked Aiden and Erin. Their initial meeting had me laughing. From each of their perspectives, it’s clear that they both have the wrong impression. Aiden thinks that Erin is an ice queen (i.e. bitch). Erin thinks that Aiden is a homeless bum. As they get to know each other, Erin slowly realizes that Aiden is far from a bum. The Virgin River books tend to move slow. I liken it to life in Virgin River. Nothing ever comes quickly. So it’s over several weeks/months that Aiden and Erin start getting to know each other.

Aiden had been married about eight years ago and for three months. He’s horrified when it’s crazy ex turns up at his family’s place in Virgin River acting like she wants to get back together. The ex is pretending that she wants him back even though Aiden knows it’s a crock of crap. Still, she has a way of making the situation turn in her favor. Then she goes to visit Erin and feeds her a bunch of lies about Aiden.

That’s when it started falling apart for me. Erin knows Aiden, she’s even falling in love with them. He’s great in bed and they have fun together. So the fact that Erin immediately decides that she can’t trust him totally turns me off of her. I understood why, but I didn’t understand how. Aiden warned her about his ex long before she paid Erin a visit. It wasn’t something that blindsided Erin. Yet she’s willing to believe a psycho?

Then there is Mel. Mel—my favorite Virgin River heroine—who went CRAZY in this book. She turned into a character that I didn’t recognize. I understood her reaction to the particular situation she found herself in, but I found her way of dealing with it completely unlike her. She completely tries to railroad Jack into doing something he doesn’t want to do. There’s something even worse, but to tell you would be to spoil it.

This book was just a hot menopausal mess. I liked Erin (other than the whole distrust thing) the best b/c it seemed like she came the farthest. She opened herself up to life and found someone to love.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Virgin River

three-stars


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Throwback Thursday Review: Welcome to Temptation by Jennifer Crusie

Posted May 3, 2018 by Casee in Reviews | 4 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: Welcome to Temptation by Jennifer CrusieReviewer: Casee
Welcome to Temptation by Jennifer Crusie
Series: Dempseys #1
Also in this series: Welcome to Temptation (Dempseys, #1), Faking It
Published by St. Martin's Paperbacks
Publication Date: July 11, 2004
Point-of-View: Third Person
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 416
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
four-stars

Sophie Dempsey is content living a quiet life filming wedding videos until an assignment brings her to Temptation, Ohio. From the moment she drive into town, she gets a bad feeling; Sophie is from the wrong side of the tracks and everything in Temptation is a little too right. And when she has a run-in with the town's unnervingly sexy mayor, Phineas Tucker, making a little movie turns out to be more than a little dangerous.

Yield to oncoming desire...

All Sophie wants to do is film the video and head home. All Phin wants to do is play pool with the police chief and keep things peaceful. They both get more than they bargained for when Sophie's video causes an uproar and the proper citizens of Temptation set out to shut them down.

Welcome to temptation...

As events spiral out of control, Sophie and Phin find themselves caught in a web of gossip, blackmail, adultery, murder, and really excellent sex. All hell breaks loose in Temptation as Sophie and Phin fall deeper and deeper in trouble...and in love.

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

This review was originally published on June 3, 2008.

So after reading Bet Me, I checked my shelves to see if I had any other Jennifer Crusie books. Shockingly enough, I had this one. Coming down off the high that was Bet Me, you’d think that I’d go into this book w/ high expectations. Well, I did not. Holly reminded me (more than once) that Bet Me is JC’s best book. So I started this book expecting to love like it, which I did.

When Sophie travels with her younger sister, Amy, to Temptation, she has no idea what she has gotten into. What is supposed to be a documentary on a once semi-famous actress has turned into something she doesn’t want to think about. From the day she arrived and got hit by Temptation’s most vocal citizen to the day she realizes that her sister is shooting porn, Sophie can’t wait until the day she leaves Temptation. Even Phin Tucker, Mayor of Temptation, can’t tempt her to stay in a town that is bringing up all sorts of bad memories.

As for Phin, he knows Sophie is trouble the moment he lays eyes on her. That doesn’t stop him from wanting her, nor does it stop him from pursing her. What is supposed to be a week long fling doesn’t take long to turn into something more. While everybody in Temptation seems to want something from Phin, Sophie only wants sex. Phin has no problem accommodating her, of course.

While I did enjoy this book, I wasn’t really feeling the chemistry between Sophie and Phin. Or maybe I wasn’t feeling it at first. I kept asking myself why they were attracted to each other. What at first seemed forced ended up working as both Phin and Sophie realized that their feelings for each other went beyond just a brief affair.

It was also exchanges like these between Phin and Sophie that really made me enjoy the book:

Twenty minutes later, she was suffocating on top of him in the heat of her un-air-conditioned bedroom, the ancient box springs squeaking under them like a bad accordion, and her head was unbanged because the sex was lousy.

It wasn’t Phin’s fault. He was as thoroughly competent at the Phallic Variation as he’d been orally the night before. So it must be me, she thought, as he moved under her, doing absolutely nothing for her. She felt embarrassed by the whole situation. Zane had been right. She just wasn’t the type for headbanging sex. She was too detached. She was too prissy and straight. She was doing this to write a sex scene for a movie she wasn’t even sure she wanted to make. She was hot and sticky and she could feel her hair kinking in the heat even as Phin breathed under her, so she knew she looked awful. She was unexciting. Whatever the reason, it didn’t matter, she was never going to get anywhere at this rate.

She thought briefly about faking it, and then dumped the idea when she realized that Phin would probably see through it and make fun of her performance. That pretty much left her with no option except tapping him on the shoulder and telling him to play on through because she was out of the game. Sorry, she’d have to say. I’m not even close. Or she could let him figure it out on his own, except guys never did. They just—

“You’re not even close, are you?” Phin said, breathless below her, and she refocused back on him.

“What?”

“Hi, I’m Phin Tucker, and I’m inside you. I know how these things slip your mind.” He didn’t sound annoyed, but she felt bad anyway.

Sophie’s dejection literally comes through the pages. It is funny as hell to read b/c she seems to be able to find humor in just about anything. Even the fact that what she expected to be great sex is anything but. That really makes for a fun read.

So while this book was no Bet Me, it was a good read. The cast of characters could only come from a place called Temptation, Ohio. Where the mayor’s name has stayed the same for more years than you can count. Where the city council tries to pass a “no porn” law and where one man will do just about anything to beat Phin in the next election. It’s a fun, quirky read that readers of romantic comedy will enjoy.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Dempseys

four-stars


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