Tag: Contemporary

Retro Review: Craving Beauty by Nalini Singh

Posted May 3, 2017 by Casee in Reviews | 6 Comments

Retro Review: Craving Beauty by Nalini SinghReviewer: Casee
Craving Beauty by Nalini Singh
Series: Zulheina #2
Published by Silhouette
Publication Date: July 1st 2005
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 184
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four-half-stars

Marc was dangerous to her in the way that only a strong, sexy male could be to a woman. Even knowing that, she'd agreed to marry him.

Hope blossomed in Hira's heart. Perhaps she'd married a man with whom it might be worth building a life. Her mother had worried that he was scarred, but the lines on his face did nothing to lessen his raw masculine appeal. If anything, they gave him an even more dangerous male air, enticing the feminine core of her to thoughts that shocked her.

What did a man's face matter anyway? She had no use for handsome men.

But for a man with a heart? For such a man...she might risk everything.

******As part of our 10 year anniversary celebration, we’ll be re-posting old reviews that make us cringe, laugh or sigh all over again.

This review was originally posted on October 5, 2007.

Harlequins are one of my favorite guilty pleasures. I love how I can pick up a book that is less than 200 pages long and be completely immersed in the story almost immediately.

Though I’m a huge Nalini Singh fan, this is only the 2nd series romance I’ve read by her. This book makes me want to run out and hunt down the rest of her OOP Silhouettes.

When Marc went to Zulheil on business, he never expected to return home w/ a foreign bride. From the first moment he laid eyes on Hira, he was captivated not only by her flawless beauty, but also her smile. When given a choice between being married and having her as his own or not having her at all, Marc did not hesitate.

Hira was used to being looked at as nothing more than a pretty face. When she first saw Marc, she hoped that he was different and would see her as the intelligent and capable woman that she was. Unfortunately that was not to be and Hira soon found herself married to Marc and leaving the only home she’d ever known.

It sounds like a simple enough plot, no? In a way, it was. There was no BIG MISUNDERSTANDING in this book. Both Hira and Marc agreed to the marriage for reasons that were not at first clear to them. Marc soon learns that his wife is far from the icy beauty he first assumed her to be. However, having been burned once by a beautiful woman, Marc has no desire to repeat the experience. Under Marc’s loving care (doesn’t that sound all Harlequin-ey?), Hira realizes that not all men are controlling tyrants like her father. Given freedom to pursue her own desires, Hira finds herself falling in love with her husband more as each day passes.

As in every romance novel, there is conflict between the characters. These are two very strong willed people who have been hurt in the past. Marc by a woman and Hira by watching how her father treated her mother. This is a classic story of the Beast trying to tame his Beauty, soon learning that taming is the last thing he wants of his wife. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it to anyone that can find it.

4.5 out of 5.

four-half-stars

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Guest Review: Caught Looking by Jody Holford

Posted May 3, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 2 Comments

Guest Review: Caught Looking by Jody HolfordReviewer: Tracy
Caught Looking by Jody Holford
Published by Penner Publishing
Publication Date: April 25th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
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four-half-stars

Major league baseball player, Ryan Walker, takes a mandatory leave of absence to escape the paparazzi and the false drug charges against him. All he wants is a little peace of mind out in the middle of nowhere.

Eager to rid herself of the empty socialite life, Frankie Vaughn moves to a rundown home in Minnesota that she inherited from her aunt. But Frankie is shocked at what she discovers inside: three young boys. When Ryan discovers that Frankie, his new neighbor, has taken on the three homeless kids as her own, he has a new hope for humanity.

Despite how easily and lovingly Ryan takes to Frankie and the boys, his past just might be the reason Frankie can't adopt the boys. Now, Ryan must choose between loving them or letting them go. Can he walk away from what he's been looking for all along?

Moving from the Hamptons to a run-down house in Minnesota wouldn’t normally be considered an adventure but that’s exactly how Frankie Vaughn’s looking at it.  She is sick of the “pretty on the outside, shallow on the inside” mentality of the Hamptons so when her aunt dies she tells her father she wants to take over her house.  Since he was planning on just selling it, he agrees.

Frankie moves to West Lake, Minnesota with the thought to rehab the house.  When she arrives she’s a bit overwhelmed with how run-down it’s become but she’s determined.  When she first enters the house all is well but then she starts to hear noises.  She thinks she’s going to find a cat in the bedroom closet but what she discovers is 3 young boys – brothers, Carter, Travis and Miles, who have been living in the house since her aunt died.  They had actually been homeless and were taken in by Frankie’s aunt and had just continued to live in her house after she died.  Frankie knows she should call the police or social services right away but the little one who is just 8 is horribly sick and she can’t send him out that way.  Of course the longer the boys stay the more attached that Frankie gets and soon she doesn’t ever want them to leave.

Ryan meets Frankie the first day she arrives and is a bit of a jerk (cuz he’s attracted to her and doesn’t want to be).  He mellows out eventually and when he sees that Frankie is caring for the boys he actually helps out in his own way.  He’s incredibly attracted to Frankie but knows he shouldn’t get involved with her for a variety of reasons.  Those reasons eventually fall by the wayside and Ryan and Frankie soon start a wonderful relationship.  Unfortunately when it comes to the boys staying with Frankie permanently, Ryan’s presence, and his past, may be the reason she that doesn’t happen.

When I read the blurb for this book I was intrigued.  If there are children in a book they usually belong to either the hero or the heroine biologically.  In this case Frankie kind of inherited them along with the house.  She was amazingly big-hearted and not only let them stay but took care of the youngest throughout his sickness.  She kept telling herself that she was going to call social services but never did.  She knew that not putting them in the foster care system was bad but Carter, the oldest at 16 years old, insisted that they would be separated if they were in the system.  Frankie couldn’t stand that thought.  I loved that she considered what would happen to the boys and how that would affect them.  She was such a good person and I just adored her character.

Ryan had his issues from his cheating ex-wife and his ex-best friend who had not only slept with his wife but had made false drug charges against him.  He just wanted to be left alone except when it came to Frankie.  I loved that he couldn’t stay away and once their relationship started it was not only fun and loving but something I knew would last.  He was a great man and cared about the three boys almost as much as Frankie did.  He was a fantastic influence on them as well.

The story of the three boys and Frankie’s role in their life was a huge part of the book but the romance was just as big and the two were wonderfully intertwined.  Holford did a fantastic job of dragging me into the story from the first page and not letting go.  I read this in one sitting and didn’t want it to end.

My only issues with the book were strange editing issues as well as some words that threw me out of the story. The book takes place in Minnesota with American characters but some of the words that were used to describe things were clearly Canadian or British.  Social Services was called the ministry – that threw me for a loop.  I live in California and for schools there are certain service areas.  These are the group of homes that go to a certain school within the district.  In this book it was called a catchment.  Same idea but definitely a British word that I had to stop and look up which again, threw me out of the book.  These are minor issues but when I’m totally into a book I don’t want to stop and think “what does that mean?” This is, of course, just me and may not affect other people the same way.

Despite those minor issues I liked the book a lot.  It has a pretty deep story but it was still fun, humorous,  and extremely enjoyable.  I definitely recommend you pick this one up. This is my first read by Holford but it certainly won’t be my last.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5

four-half-stars

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Review: Pipe Dreams by Sarina Bowen

Posted May 2, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 4 Comments

Review: Pipe Dreams by Sarina BowenReviewer: Rowena
Pipe Dreams by Sarina Bowen
Series: Brooklyn Bruisers #3
Also in this series: Rookie Move, Rookie Move, Hard Hitter, Rookie Move, Hard Hitter (Brooklyn Bruisers #2)
Published by Penguin, Berkley
Publication Date: May 2nd 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 336
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four-stars

A goalie has to trust his instincts, even when taking a shot to the heart…

Mike Beacon is a champion at defending the net, but off the ice, he’s not so lucky. A widower and a single father, he’s never forgotten Lauren Williams, the ex who gave him the best year of his life. When Lauren reappears in the Bruisers office during the playoffs, Beacon sees his chance to make things right.

Lauren hates that she’s forced to travel with the team she used to work for and the man who broke her heart. There’s still undeniable sexual tension running between her and Mike, but she won’t go down that road again. She’s focused on her plans for the future—she doesn’t need a man to make her dreams of motherhood come true.

Lauren plays her best defensive game, but she’s no match for the dark-eyed goalie. When the field of play moves to Florida, things heat up on the beach.

One of Mike’s biggest fans doesn’t approve—his teenage daughter. But a true competitor knows not to waste the perfect shot at love.

Pipe Dreams is the third book in the Brooklyn Bruisers series and it follows Mike Beacon as he tries to win Lauren Williams over again. It’s a second chance romance that I was pleasantly surprised by. I wasn’t a real big fan of Lauren in the previous books but I really enjoyed getting to know her in this book. I knew that her story was a complicated one and I was right. Old feelings, new feelings, she was hit with all of these, all of the time and I admired the hell out of the way that she handled everything. From fighting her attraction to the man that broke his heart to handling the treatment she got from that same man’s teenaged daughter, Lauren was a straight up champ!

I think this is my favorite book in the series so far. I really enjoyed seeing the past relationship and the present relationship between Mike and Lauren. It wasn’t an easy romance to get through and Mike handled things so badly but I thought he more than made up for his past transgressions. I really enjoyed the family that he made for himself and I loved how he brought Lauren into the fold. This was such a heartwarming romance that I damn near swooned multiple times while reading it.

Lauren, holy cow was she great. I enjoyed getting to know her and I really enjoyed watching her finally let people close to her again. She was completely broken hearted but she grew into her own skin and learned how to live by herself and become a formidable woman. I loved seeing her friendships with the other girls grow and grow and grow and I loved that Mike wanted her to have friends and to have everything she deserved to have…even love, with him.

Mike juggled lots of hats in this book, from father to player to lover and friend and I thought he wore each hat well. He had an abundance of love to give and he was never shy about spreading his love around. I loved the relationship he had with his daughter, with his daughter’s manny and the love he had for his friends and teammates. He was patient and kind and an all around hot, sexy piece of goodness. His love for Lauren completely melted me and I loved that Lauren was able to give him the love he craved. They were so good together and I loved seeing them grow to love and trust each other again. I love that Mike didn’t let her reservations deter him from fixing things between them and loving her so fully and completely. I just adored these two.

This was a great addition to the Brooklyn Bruisers series and it’s got me salivating for more. I cannot wait for Nate and Becca’s story though I’m also low key wanting stories for Silas and a couple of other guys on the team. I’ve got my fingers crossed. Definitely recommend. Go forth and read this book, it’s great!

Grade: 4.25 out of 5

four-stars

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Review: Walk of Shame by Lauren Layne

Posted April 28, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Walk of Shame by Lauren LayneReviewer: Rowena
Walk of Shame by Lauren Layne
Series: Love Unexpectedly #4
Also in this series: Good Girl
Published by Random House, Loveswept
Publication Date: April 18th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
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four-stars

Sparks fly between a misunderstood New York socialite and a cynical divorce lawyer in this lively standalone rom-com from the USA Today bestselling author of Blurred Lines and Love Story.

Pampered heiress Georgianna Watkins has a party-girl image to maintain, but all the shopping and clubbing is starting to feel a little bit hollow—and a whole lot lonely. Though Georgie would never admit it, the highlights of her week are the mornings when she comes home at the same time as her uptight, workaholic neighbor is leaving to hit the gym and put in a long day at the office. Teasing him is the most fun Georgie’s had in years—and the fuel for all her naughtiest daydreams.

Celebrity divorce attorney Andrew Mulroney doesn’t have much time for women, especially spoiled tabloid princesses who spend more time on Page Six than at an actual job. Although Georgie’s drop-dead gorgeous, she’s also everything Andrew resents: the type of girl who inherited her penthouse instead of earning it. But after Andrew caps one of their predawn sparring sessions with a surprise kiss—a kiss that’s caught on camera—all of Manhattan is gossiping about whether they’re a real couple. And nobody’s more surprised than Andrew to find that the answer just might be yes.

Lauren Layne strikes again. She has written another fabulous contemporary romance that hit me in my feels and made me laugh. She has a knack for writing great characters that are completely relatable and super funny and that’s really my jam so I’m super happy that I read this one.

Georgie Watkins is a rich girl who is an expert in socializing. She spends her days recovering from her partying nights and when her neighbor Andrew Mulroney starts his day at 5AM, she’s usually coming in from ending hers. On top of being a workaholic, Andrew is a health nut who looks down his nose at Georgie bringing in donuts every morning for the doormen that work at the front desk of their apartment building.

They meet each other in the lobby every morning and they share a witty banter that just filled me up with goodness and I enjoyed each of their daily chats. They don’t like each other and they love to antagonize one another and I thought it was the cutest thing.

Georgie was a great heroine who seemed to sense in herself, a quiet unrest that she didn’t understand until interacting with the snob, Andrew Mulroney. She realized that she was bored. She was growing up and she wanted more out of her life than nightly visits to the club where she danced the night away with her friends and flirted with cute boys who lived their lives, the exact same way that she lived hers. She wanted more and she also had a huge ol’ crush on Andrew, who seemed to take great pleasure in putting her down every chance he got. She didn’t understand her crush but ran with it anyway because it wasn’t going anywhere. The best part of her days were her morning arguments with Andrew and she wasn’t going to give those up.

Andrew doesn’t like Georgie. At least, he doesn’t think he does. She’s everything that he doesn’t have time for. A spoiled rich girl who isn’t doing a damn thing with her life other than partying with her friends. He’s too smart and too driven to throw away his life by doing…nothing. But that doesn’t stop him from looking forward to battling wits with her at 5AM, every morning. It also doesn’t stop him from admiring just how pretty she is. When a particular battle of wits ends with him challenging her to spend a day in his shoes (he doesn’t think she’ll last a day), she accepts and things change for the two of them.

The romance between these two was adorable and just so much fun. The chemistry was strong and the sexual tension made its presence known from the very beginning. They were both such great characters on their own that bringing all of that awesomeness together made for a very enjoyable story. This is a story that I didn’t even know I wanted and I’m glad that Lauren Layne provided because she delivered the goods with this one. I definitely recommend.

Grade: 4.25 out of 5

four-stars

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Review: Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

Posted April 27, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer NivenReviewer: Rowena
Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven
Published by Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: April 4th, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 391
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four-stars

Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, the girl once dubbed “America’s Fattest Teen.” But no one’s taken the time to look past her weight to get to know who she really is. Following her mom’s death, she’s been picking up the pieces in the privacy of her home, dealing with her heartbroken father and her own grief. Now, Libby’s ready: for high school, for new friends, for love, and for every possibility life has to offer. In that moment, I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything.

Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin, too. Yes, he’s got swagger, but he’s also mastered the impossible art of giving people what they want, of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a newly acquired secret: he can’t recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. He’s the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything, but he can’t understand what’s going on with the inner workings of his brain. So he tells himself to play it cool: Be charming. Be hilarious. Don’t get too close to anyone.

Until he meets Libby. When the two get tangled up in a cruel high school game—which lands them in group counseling and community service—Libby and Jack are both pissed, and then surprised. Because the more time they spend together, the less alone they feel. Because sometimes when you meet someone, it changes the world, theirs and yours.

This was the first book that I ever listened to from beginning to end and while I still prefer to read my own books, this was a great story. It was interesting, the characters were compelling and Niven’s writing style kept me invested in what was going on. I’ve never heard of prosopragnosia before listening to this book but I’m glad that I’ve been schooled on it.

Jack’s character and his experiences with prosopragnosia hurt my heart and I was very interested in that part of the book. Libby was a wonderful addition as well. She was so strong and I really enjoyed seeing the both of them come into their own while finding their love for each other.

This was not an easy book to read (or listen to) but I felt it was an important book for younger kids to read. It’s important for kids to understand what other kids could be going through and to empathize with them. To help them when they need it and I felt like if Jack had someone who knew everything and could help him long before Libby came along, maybe things wouldn’t have gotten as bad for Jack as they had.

Still, this was an interesting listen that I’m glad I took a chance on. I’ll definitely be reading more books by Niven as I enjoyed both Jack and Libby’s story. Jack and Libby weren’t perfect and with Jack being as popular as he was and Libby, not popular at all, their romance would be laughable and completely unrealistic but I thought Niven did a very good job of convincing me that their love was real and true. This was a great introduction to Jennifer Niven’s writing and I cannot wait to read more. I definitely recommend this if you’re in the mood for a contemporary YA with meat. It’s good stuff. I promise.

Grade: 4 out of 5

four-stars

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