Tag: Contemporary

Review: Fall by Kristen Callihan

Posted December 11, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Fall by Kristen CallihanReviewer: Rowena
Fall (VIP, #3) by Kristen Callihan
Series: VIP #3
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: October 23, 2018
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 568
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
four-stars

The first time I met Jax Blackwood things went a little sideways.

In my defense, I didn’t know he was Jax Blackwood—who expects a legendary rock star to be shopping for groceries? More importantly, a blizzard was coming and he was about to grab the last carton of mint-chocolate chip.

Still, I might have walked away, but then he smugly dared me to try and take the coveted ice cream. So I kissed him. And distracted that mint-chip right out of his hands.

Okay, it was a dirty move, but desperate times and all that. Besides, I never expected he’d be my new neighbor.

An annoying neighbor who takes great pleasure in reminding me that I owe him ice cream but would happily accept more kisses as payment. An irresistible neighbor who keeps me up while playing guitar naked–spectacularly naked–in his living room.

Clearly, avoidance is key. Except nothing about Jax is easy to ignore—not the way he makes me laugh, or that his particular brand of darkness matches mine, or how one look from him melts me faster than butter under a hot sun.

Neither of us believes in love or forever. Yet we’re quickly becoming each other’s addiction. But we could be more. We could be everything.

All we have to do is trust enough to fall.

Fall is the third book in Kristen Callihan’s VIP series and it features our troubled hero, Jax Blackwood. You’ll remember Jax from the previous books as the member of Kill John that tried to kill himself. He finally gets his happily ever after and it wasn’t easy to come by. Jax battles a bunch of internal issues and I thought that Kristen Callihan handled the entire thing like a champ.

Jax meets his heroine in the aisles of the grocery store. They seem to be following each other throughout the entire grocery store and when he goes for the last pint of mint chocolate chip ice cream, Stella pulls a stunt that makes sure Jax never forgets her again. Stella never thought she’d see the stranger from the grocery store again but when she takes on a job that will have her house and pet sitting right next door to him, things get real interesting.

Jax is stunned that the ice cream thief is living next door to him. He’s also stunned that the more time he runs into her, the more he wants to run into her. The attraction takes him by surprise because she’s not normally his type but she’s definitely memorable and with each interaction, she becomes more and more..his. Stella can’t believe the guy from the grocery store is her next door neighbor. She still can’t quite believe that he’s not stalking her, all over a pint of ice cream but when they keep running into each other, she finds herself wanting to keep running into him. There’s chemistry between them and it’s starting to feel worth the effort of getting to know him.

The romance between Jax and Stella was hard and it was heartbreaking but man was I glad that I read it. I thought that by the end, these two had definitely worked out every single problem that lie between them and that happily ever after was definitely going to stick. It was hard to be in love with someone who was deeply depressed and easily triggered. I thought Callihan wrote Jax’s character so well that I cried more than once during the reading of this book.

Both Stella and Jax were great, compelling characters that had me firmly invested in what was going on with them and between them. I enjoyed every one of their scenes together and my heart hurt for both of them. I really felt for Stella and her desire for real friends. With her job, it was easy for her to be there for everyone but not a whole lot of people were there for Stella. Not in the way that she needed and wanted. I loved seeing the girls of Kill John gather around Stella and become her squad even when things were off between her and Jax.

It was good to see everyone and when Stella calls Killian and tells him to come home, that Jax needed him, I was a hot mess. Kristen Callihan wrote a great story about two people coming together in love after going through deeply personal issues and I was here for all of it. My heart went out to both Jax and Stella throughout the entire book and I was rooting for them to find their ways back to each other. This was another great romance in this series and I’m really looking forward to Brenna’s book. I just know it’s going to be great!

If you’re a fan of this series then I just know that you’ll enjoy this one. I definitely recommend!

Grade: 4.25 out of 5

VIP

four-stars


Tagged: , , , , , ,

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

Posted December 10, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 3 Comments

Joint Review: Ache for You by J.T. GeissingerReviewer: Holly & Rowena
Ache for You (Slow Burn, #3) by J.T. Geissinger
Series: Slow Burn #3
Also in this series: Burn for You (Slow Burn, #1), Melt for You (Slow Burn, #2)
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Publication Date: November 6, 2018
Format: Audiobook
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 362
Length: 11 hours, 36 minutes
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
one-star

In this fairy tale with a sexy twist, she’s a penniless San Francisco seamstress. He’s the king of Italian couture. Who’s got designs on whom?

Boutique owner Kimber DiSanto has seen better days. She’s been dumped at the altar by Prince Charmless, her business went up in flames (literally), and now she’s stuck in Florence, Italy, with an ice-queen stepmother, to try to save her late father’s failing dress shop. Only one thing could make it worse: another man in her life. The arrogant Italian fashion tycoon offering to buy her father’s shop is as rich as he is sexy, and their attraction is off the charts. But Kimber’s not about to get burned again.

Women don’t say no to Matteo Moretti—and certainly not with Kimber’s stinging precision. With all the heat and fury sparking between them, Matteo can’t resist baiting the gorgeous American. His plan? Win her over one scorching kiss at a time.

Kimber tells herself it’s all just a game. That her broken heart isn’t in danger, and that Matteo’s touch does not make her Lady Land dance with joy. But sometimes it takes the fieriest of enemies to turn a fantasy into a real-life romance.

Ache for You is the third book in J.T. Geissinger‘s Slow Burn series. Each book is a fairytale retelling. This is the story of Cinderella.

Kimber is having the worst time of her life. Her intended leaves her at the altar, she finds out her father is gravely ill and her dress shop burns down. All within the space of a week. She flies to Italy to be with her dad when she gets another shock…he remarried several months beforehand. Now she’s living with her Wicked Stepmother and her two evil step-sisters. Oh, and the Prince Charming who gave up his seat so she could be with her father before he died? Turns out he’s her new step-brother…and the man who wants to buy her father’s dress shop, plus steal all her designs.

Holly: I want to start this review out by saying this was a great, sweet romance and satisfied everything I needed in a Cinderella retelling…but I can’t. The truth is, I hated Kimber, the heroine, so much the book was a total flop for me. I spent the entire book filled with rage over her attitude and all the conclusions she jumped to. She was such a pure, unadulterated bitch I have no clue why she even had friends or why the hero was interested in her.

Rowena: I’m pretty sure that this is what my face looked like after reading that first sentence of your review, Holly.

I’m right there with you, where Kimber is concerned. She was extremely hard to like. When the story ended, I wasn’t over all of her stupidity. The constant assumptions on her part, the quick jumps to conclusions, even when she knew that she was in love with Matteo, she just couldn’t turn that shit off and it annoyed the ever-loving crap out of me. She didn’t deserve Matteo and she most definitely didn’t deserve Matteo’s Mom.

I started wondering what the hell Matteo saw in her because there wasn’t much to like. She was a bitch through and through so I low key started wondering what the heck was wrong with Matteo that through all of that, he saw good in her. I didn’t any of what he saw.

Holly: Girl, same. I spent the entire book hating Kimber. I didn’t understand her motivations or why she was so quick to jump to so many negative conclusions. Why Matteo wanted to be with her is beyond me.

Rowena: It’s hard for me to sympathize with grown ass women who behave the way that Kimber does. Elle Kennedy posted a quote on her IG story last week that sums up exactly how I feel about Kimber and her behavior throughout the entire book.

Your crappy childhood isn’t an excuse to be a crappy person. Your crappy luck with relationships isn’t an excuse to be a crappy person. Your crappy experiences aren’t an excuse to be a crappy person. We all have our crap, and you can either let it define you or grow from it.

Holly: In the beginning I cut her some slack because she’d just been left at the altar, then discovered her father was dying, he’d remarried and not told her, and her shop burned down. But any sympathy I had for her was soon washed away by her anger and overall piss-poor attitude.

Rowena: I can understand being hurt and guarded around new men, especially so soon after her heart was broken so publicly but Matteo was paying for shit that had absolutely nothing to do with him. When he gave up his first class ticket so that she can get to Italy faster to see her father, the way she treated him pissed me off. I wanted to reach into my kindle and smack the shit out of her. He didn’t deserve a lot of the shit that she dished his way….and that shit just kept right on happening. Matteo couldn’t get the benefit of the doubt even in the end. She alone ruined this story for me.

Holly: I probably would have DNF’d the book except 1) we agreed we couldn’t DNF any book we’re reading together and 2) I kind of wanted to see what Matteo was up to. He was kind of shady in the beginning.

Rowena: I know that I would have DNF’d this if not for our buddy review rules. I hated Kimber that much.

Holly: I did really like Kimber’s BFF, Jenner, and I even came to like Brad, her ex-fiance. I really liked Matteo’s mom and her manservant. But the longer the novel went on, the more I wondered WTF was wrong with them that they liked and wanted to be (Friends)with Kimber. They should have booted her out of their squad and gone on without her.

Rowena: Yeah, I enjoyed everyone except the two villains: Kimber and the actual villain. I thought that Jenner was a great best friend to Kimber and tried to wrangle in her crazy but there’s only so much one person can do, right? And I thought I would hate Brad a lot more than I did. There were times when I really felt for him and his dilemma. I felt how sorry he was and how eager he was to make things right with Kimber. She was just too stupid and selfish to think of anyone but herself.

Holly: This part, though? This part was almost enough for me to raise my grade by half a star. Almost, but not quite…

View Spoiler »
 

Rowena: As to your spoiler?

Yeah, call me an asshole but what happens to Kimber cracked me up. Like, a lot. I’m still laughing about that.

I didn’t understand the romance because I didn’t see what Matteo saw in Kimber. There was absolutely nothing to recommend his attraction to her. She wasn’t headstrong or stubborn in a likable way. She was a complete bitch and any attraction to that mess didn’t make a lick of sense to me. All the way until the very last page, I was still annoyed with Kimber so there was just no saving this book for me. I hated this book so much that I’m taking a long break from all things Geissinger. I just…can’t.

Holly: If she’d realized how terrible she’d been and genuinely apologized, that might have been something. Since she was just as awful on the last page as she was on the first, I can’t find anything to recommend about this book.

Seriously, y’all, save yourselves. Don’t read this book.

Holly’s Grade: 1 out of 5
Rowena’s Grade: 1 out of 5

Slow Burn

one-star


Tagged: , , , , , , , ,

Joint Review: Sleepover by Serena Bell

Posted November 21, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Joint Review: Sleepover by Serena BellReviewer: Holly & Rowena
Sleepover by Serena Bell
Publisher: Loveswept
Publication Date: November 13, 2018
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 224
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
four-stars

A brand-new contemporary romance from the USA Today bestselling author of Head Over Heels.

The girl next door is the one that got away. He just doesn’t know it yet. . . .

Sawyer: After my wife died, I promised myself I’d never go through the pain of losing someone again. Now I keep my flings neat, tidy, and one-time-only. Besides, my son needs me more than ever. He’s miserable in our new town, so I’m pumped when he makes friends with the kid next door—until I recognize his mom from a one-night stand. Perky and upbeat, Elle Dunning is not my type for anything other than tearing up the sheets. So why do I keep letting myself get roped into game nights and get-togethers?

Elle: It so hasn’t been my year. That’s my first thought when I see my new next-door neighbor. I never would have hooked up with Sawyer Paulson if my husband hadn’t left me for his high-school sweetheart, but because our eight-year-old boys have become best friends, I’ve got to make nice with Mr. Tall, Dark, and Silent. Yet the more time we spend together, the more Sawyer opens up. We’ve both been hurt—badly. So it’s one thing to send the kids off to sleepaway camp together. It’s quite another to promise each other a lifetime of sleepovers. . . .

Sleepover is a standalone novel with no cheating, no cliffhangers, and a satisfying happily ever after. This ebook includes an excerpt from another Loveswept title.

Sleepover by Serena Bell follows two single parents that had a one night stand. They thought they’d never see each other again and that’s what they both wanted so when Sawyer moves in next door to Elle and their boys become best friends, things get interesting because well, they both are starting to want a repeat of that one naughty night.

Rowena: This was my first book by Serena Bell and though I was a bit annoyed about finding out there are other books linked to the characters in this book (making it a series), I still rather enjoyed this single parent romance. I really liked both Sawyer and Elle, loved their boys and how straightforward their romance was.

Sawyer’s journal of letters to his late wife really hit me with all the feels and I liked that Elle was understanding where all of that was concerned. I really liked how grown up their romance was. What about you? What did you think?

Holly: I really don’t like how these authors aren’t listing connecting books as series. It’s annoying. I might have liked to read the earlier books first. But like you, I thought this was an enjoyable romance. I love the single parent romances and I thought Bell did a good job with this one.

Sawyer’s Lucy journal got me in the feels, too. There’s a scene toward the end that made me tear up. I liked their grown-up romance, too. I liked how they dealt with their kids. The boys became fast friends and they both encouraged that, and tried to include them in their plans. They had a great family dynamic.

I did get a little frustrated by all the sexting. They definitely had good sexual chemistry, and the sexual tension was thick. I think I could have done with a little less sexting and little more personal connection between them.

Rowena: It was all straightforward and such an easy romance to fall into that I had this book read in just a few hours.

I know what scene you’re talking about and yes, I totally teared up too. I thought that was sweet but sad too.

I didn’t mind the sexting, I thought it was cute…and I loved that he couldn’t help himself. He couldn’t keep to his own rules where Elle was concerned and I loved that he couldn’t get enough of her. I also really liked that Elle tried to keep her cool but she wasn’t fooling anyone. She had it bad for Sawyer so it was good that he had it bad for her too.

Are you planning on reading Brooks book? What about going back and reading the other books? This was a fun romp that was perfect for what I was in the mood for so I give this one a 4 out of 5. You?

Holly: I was bothered a bit by some quirks of the writing (such as the author’s constant use of parenthesis to include asides in the narrative), but aside from the sexting, overall I enjoyed the book. I’m looking forward to reading more from Bell soon. I do plan to go back and read the first two and I’m definitely interested in Brooks’ book.

This was an easy, sweet read. It definitely hit the spot. 3.5 out of 5

Holly’s Grade: 3.5 out of 5
Rowena’s Grade: 4 out of 5

four-stars


Tagged: , , , , , , , ,

Review: Fireworks by Sarina Bowen

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

Review: Fireworks by Sarina BowenReviewer: Rowena
Fireworks (True North #6) by Sarina Bowen
Series: True North #6
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), Keepsake (True North, #3), Bountiful (True North, #4; Brooklyn Bruisers, #4.5)
Publisher: Tuxbury Publishing LLC
Publication Date: November 13, 2018
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 343
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
four-stars

Skye Copeland is on paid leave from her broadcasting job after accidentally drawing a pecker on the traffic map.

Let that sink in. Like it’s her fault the traffic pattern that day created a perfect schlong?

Skye isn’t laughing. She needs this job. And that’s the only reason she’s agreed to chase down a story in her least favorite place—that hell on earth known as Vermont.

A quick trip. In and out. Much like - never mind. Skye can sneak into the town that once tried to break her, get the story and get back into the good graces of her producer. Easy peasy.

Except things go sideways even as she sets foot over the county line. Her step-sister is on the run from a violent drug dealer. And the cop on the case is none other than Benito Rossi, the man who broke her teenage heart.

His dark brown eyes still tear her apart. And even as she steels herself to finally tell him off after twelve years, the old fireworks are still there.

Things are about to go boom.

I’m not sure how she does it but Sarina Bowen wrote another winner for me. I’m really enjoying this series and each book just keeps entertaining the socks right off of me. Fireworks follows Benito Rossi as he finally reunites with the one that got away and tries to get things right this time around.

The Rossi’s sure are front and center in the True North series, aren’t they? I wasn’t sure I wanted to know this much about the Rossi family when the series first started but I can’t say that I’m mad that we’re getting all of their stories. I adored Alec in the Speakeasy and Benito? Benito was fabulous in this book.

Benito Rossi is Zara’s twin and he’s a detective who investigates and brings down the bad guys. The bad guy that he’s building a case to bring down? The same bad guy that made life for his sister hard, back when he couldn’t do anything about it. The same bad guy that made things hard for the only girl he’s ever loved. He’s hoping to put this guy away for good because he’s pure scum and he deserves to be behind bars for the rest of his miserable life. He hasn’t seen Skye in 12 years but she blows right back into his life all these years later, complicating his investigation and his life.

Skye never thought she’d ever return to Vermont because she hated Vermont. She hated the memories that Vermont was associated with and she tried to never think on her time here. She moved on from the girl she was when she lived here and she was living in New York and had a life of her own there. She’s pissed to high heaven that her step-sister talked her into driving to Vermont for a sister weekend and even more pissed that when she gets to Vermont, she finds out that her sister tricked her and left her high and dry. Sure, it worked out for them both since Skye was on a forced vacation from work so she had the time off but still…Skye is pissed to have been left behind in Vermont, of all places.

This story is told in that whole past and present format and that doesn’t always work for me but it worked for me here. I liked seeing Benito and Skye as kids and I loved seeing them get to know the people that they are now. The chemistry that has been between them when they were kids is still there now and watching them come together again made so much sense.

Sarina Bowen created a world that is so easy to fall into and with each book that releases, I’m still invested in everyone in this world. From the Shipleys to the Rossi’s, I love them all and that didn’t change with this book. Benito and Skye were wonderful characters and their romance was sweet. I enjoyed myself with this book and am looking forward to more. I definitely recommend.

Grade: 4.25 out of 5

True North

four-stars


Tagged: , , , , , , ,

Guest Review: Plus One by Brighton Walsh

Posted November 2, 2018 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Plus One by Brighton WalshReviewer: Tracy
Plus One by Brighton Walsh
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: May 6, 2013
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 68
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
three-half-stars

Olivia hates the singles scene, so when her best guy friend, Ian, offers to be her plus one to a series of weddings she has to attend, she agrees. Although she doesn't want to complicate their lifelong friendship, she can't pass up the chance to have a steady date without the dating drama. What she doesn't expect is to now find Ian so incredibly sexy.

When Ian sees his old friend Olivia dolled up for wedding #1, the boyhood crush he once nurtured transforms into smoldering attraction. It doesn't take long for their no-strings arrangement to turn physical. But as Olivia's desire to stay "just friends" becomes clear, Ian's feelings are deepening. In the time they have together, how will Ian convince Olivia that one plus one can make for a lifelong pair?

Olivia, Emma and Ian have been best buddies for 20 years. They tell each other just about anything and get each other out of bad situations, like when one is on a blind date and having the worst time ever because their date is talking about cat pee.  This was the case when Ian called Olivia and got her out of her blind date.  Olivia was expecting a call from Emma, but apparently she was busy with her boyfriend so Ian called.  They talk while Olivia is on her way home and one of the topics that comes up is weddings.  Olivia has to either be in or go to nine weddings in the next six months.  She was hoping one of her blind dates would be awesome and she could take him as her plus one, but no luck.  Ian offers to be her plus one and while Olivia is hesitant at first she soon takes him up on his offer.

Ian has been in love with Olivia the entire time he’s known her.  As he got older his puppy love turned into true love, but he was afraid to mess up their friendship.  There was also the fact that Olivia didn’t see him as anything other than a friend.  He even went so far as to move a couple of hours away from her to try and get her out of his system.  While that worked in a way, he never stopped loving her.  Now he’s torturing himself by seeing her on a regular basis for all of these weddings and he can’t help but dream of what it would be like with her.

During one of the wedding receptions Olivia drinks a bit and they come close to kissing but she pulls away.  Ian thinks that he can never make Olivia see him as more than a friend, but she’s already undressing him in her mind.  How can these two take the chance on love without ruining their friendship forever.

This was a short novella but it was good!  I really liked both Ian and Olivia and thought they were adorable together. Their banter was cute and funny.  Like I said, this was a short novella so there wasn’t a lot of plot development. Despite that, I thought the author did a good job of showing us each of the characters in a good light and making us understand their wants and hesitations over the relationship.

One part I thought was needlessly added was Olivia’s friend, and Ian’s sister, Emma.  I’m not sure why she was written in.  She really only served to make Olivia’s uncertainty about the relationship worse because Olivia didn’t want to betray her friend. I got Olivia’s thinking, but it really was just extra and the story definitely could have survived quite well without her involvement.

Overall I enjoyed this story and recommend it if you need a quick read or palate cleanser.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars


Tagged: , , , , , , ,