Tag: Gallery Books

Review: The Sinner by J.R. Ward

Posted June 17, 2020 by Casee in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: The Sinner by J.R. WardReviewer: Casee
The Sinner by J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #18
Also in this series: Lover Unbound, Lover Avenged, Lover Unleashed, Lover at Last, Lover at Last, The King, The Shadows, The Beast, Lover Enshrined, The Chosen, Lover Mine, The Thief, The Savior, Where Winter Finds You
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: March 24, 2020
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 498
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars
Series Rating: three-stars

A sinner’s only hope is true love in this passionate new novel in J.R. Ward’s #1 New York Times bestselling Black Dagger Brotherhood series.
Syn has kept his side hustle as a mercenary a secret from the Black Dagger Brotherhood. When he takes another hit job, he not only crosses the path of the vampire race’s new enemy, but also that of a half-breed in danger of dying during her transition. Jo Early has no idea what her true nature is, and when a mysterious man appears out of the darkness, she is torn between their erotic connection and the sense that something is very wrong.
Fate anointed Butch O’Neal as the Dhestroyer, the fulfiller of the prophecy that foresees the end of the Omega. As the war with the Lessening Society comes to a head, Butch gets an unexpected ally in Syn. But can he trust the male—or is the warrior with the bad past a deadly complication?
With time running out, Jo gets swept up in the fighting and must join with Syn and the Brotherhood against true evil. In the end, will love true prevail...or was the prophecy wrong all along?

It’s been awhile since I read this book, but I’m going to give this review my best shot.

Syn isn’t officially in the Black Dagger Brotherhood, but he fights along side them in the war that threatens the vampire race. Something the Brothers don’t know is that moonlights as a mercenary. He has some part of him (I just tried to look it up and couldn’t find it) that needs violence. Likely literally needs it or he goes crazy. When he takes a new contract, he is given the name of a journalist at the local newspaper. No problem for Syn. Give him a name and it’s done. Only it doesn’t go at all like what he expected.

Jo Early has been trying to prove that vampires exist. Along with her journalist partner, Bill, they embark on a journey that takes them to some pretty bad places. Fortunately (or unfortunately) for Jo, she doesn’t remember any of it. She doesn’t know that the very vampires that she is trying to prove exist have made her forget what she’s looking for. What those vampires don’t expect is to find a half-breed that may or may not transition into a vampire. All Jo knows is that she probably has cancer and is dying.

While out fighting the Lessers, Syn smells her. Yes, that would be Jo. He smells her and goes bonkers. When he comes face-to-face with her, he knows exactly who she is. His mate. His reason for living. Too bad Syn doesn’t think he’s good enough for her. Well, not at first. At first the two really hit it off even though their first meeting didn’t go well. Then Syn realizes that Jo is way too good for him and there is no way that he’s going to be the one that helps her through her (probably) transition.

I know I say it every time I review a book in this series, but seriously. I can’t quit it and it drives me nutso. There is something about these characters that is so compelling to me. I couldn’t tell you why. One thing I really loved in this book was everything from Butch’s point of view. I’ve always loved Butch as a character and that hasn’t changed since the first book.

The big bad in JRW’s Fallen Angels series has come over into this series. I’m unsure how I feel about that. Honestly, I like this big bad better than the Omega. She (yes, she) is just more interesting. I think she’s going to bring a lot to the series, but I still think it is kind of a copout. Overall, I enjoyed this book but I didn’t love it.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Black Dagger Brotherhood

three-half-stars


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Review: Marriage on Madison Avenue by Lauren Layne

Posted January 7, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Marriage on Madison Avenue by Lauren LayneReviewer: Rowena
Marriage on Madison Avenue by Lauren Layne
Series: The Central Park Pact #3
Also in this series: Passion on Park Avenue, Love on Lexington Avenue
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, Gallery Books
Publication Date: January 28, 2020
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 288
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

From New York Times bestselling author Lauren Layne, comes the final installment of the Central Park Pact series, a heartfelt and laugh-out-loud romantic comedy that’s perfect for fans of Sally Thorne and Christina Lauren.

Can guys and girls ever be just friends? According to Audrey Tate and Clarke West, absolutely. After all, they’ve been best friends since childhood without a single romantic entanglement. Clarke is the charming playboy Audrey can always count on, and he knows that the ever-loyal Audrey will never not play along with his strategy for dodging his matchmaking mother—announcing he’s already engaged…to Audrey.

But what starts out as a playful game between two best friends turns into something infinitely more complicated, as just-for-show kisses begin to stir up forbidden feelings. As the faux wedding date looms closer, Audrey and Clarke realize that they can never go back to the way things were, but deep down, do they really want to?

Marriage on Madison Avenue is the final book in the Central Park Pact series by Lauren Layne and IMO, it was the weakest book in the series. I still enjoyed it but not nearly as much as I enjoyed Love on Lexington Avenue and Passion on Park Avenue. I was bummed out about not enjoying this book nearly as much as I was prepared to love it because it’s got the best friends to lover trope and a fake relationship trope that I’m super trash for but I was disappointed in a bunch of little things that I didn’t completely recover from by the end of this one.

Audrey Tate and Clarke West have been best friends for as long as they can remember. Since they were kids. They have amazing chemistry that everyone but themselves can see but they’ve never gone down that road before because they’ve always been such great friends and who wants to mess with that? Not these two for sure. Audrey is a social media influencer and when the haters start to talk about her in a not so great light, a fake engagement to her best friend seems like the way to fix her problems. When Clarke’s ex-girlfriend tries to come back into his life, he’s got his own reasons to want a fake engagement to his best friend. So Audrey and Clarke become “engaged” and plan to only keep up the ruse for a little while, just until the rumors about Audrey die down and Clarke’s ex-girlfriend goes away. Only things don’t go down the way that they planned and before they know what’s what, their engagement goes on longer and longer and starts to feel a lot more real with each passing day.

Here’s what I did like about this book. The book still had the strong female friendship that I adored in the previous books and I loved seeing how protective both of the previous heroes were over Audrey…even against Audrey’s own best friend. I loved seeing Alexis Morgan make an appearance in this one. I also still really enjoyed both Clarke and Audrey individually and the romance was still a good one even though I had some issues.

The lack of communication between Clarke and Audrey had me rolling my eyes down the street. You guys are best friends, you tell each other everything but you can’t tell each other that you’re in love with each other? Clarke, you let Audrey find out about your Dad’s deal on the day of your wedding? You guys love each other so much, have each other’s back but you let each other settle for a marriage of convenience instead of pushing each other to hold out for true love the way that you guys both deserve? On top of that, the way that their engagement kept getting bigger and bigger when they had every intention of calling it off made me mad too. They were wasting so many people’s time and it just annoyed the crap out of me. I would have much preferred the conflict to be more about Clarke and Audrey figuring out that they’ve been in love with each other for a long time without the drag out, knock down fake engagement that started to piss me off the longer it went on and the deeper Audrey and Clarke got into the planning of a fake wedding.

Despite my issues, Lauren Layne still kept my attention throughout this entire book and though I was still annoyed with both Clarke and Audrey, I was glad that they got their heads out of their asses and figured their shit out. I thought the ending was rushed but by the time that came around, I was ready for the happy ending so I wasn’t too annoyed with that. So while this book wasn’t one of Layne’s best, it wasn’t all bad. I came for the female friendships and wasn’t disappointed in the least in that department.

Final Grade

Grade: 3.5 out of 5

The Central Park Pact

four-stars


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Review: Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren

Posted November 12, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina LaurenReviewer: Rowena
Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: October 22, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 358
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars

As an adventurous send-off to her childhood, eighteen-year-old Tate Jones travels with her grandmother from their small town in Northern California to London. But the vacation of a lifetime is wonderfully derailed by the appearance of two charming Vermont farmers: grandfather Luther and his handsome grandson Sam.

Sam and Tate fall hard and fast. For two glorious weeks, the couple share their hopes, dreams, and secrets. Sam admits he suspects his grandfather is dying and that this could be the last trip they take together, and Tate reveals that she is the hidden daughter of one of the biggest film stars in the world—a secret she’s never told anyone before.

But when Tate is exposed by a crush of cameras and reporters, she knows she's been betrayed by the one person she thought she could trust. She is forced to decide whether she will return to her quiet life or embrace being in the public eye. So when Sam reappears in her world more than a decade later, can Tate forgive the past and rekindle the passion they shared on their magical trip abroad? And does she even want to?

Christina Lauren’s latest addition to their backlist released last month and I couldn’t get my hands on it fast enough. It may have taken me a little bit to get this review written but reading the book? Nah. I read this one as soon as I could. My initial thoughts on this book upon first finishing it were that it wasn’t my favorite book by this fantastic writing duo but it certainly wasn’t my least favorite either.

So Twice in a Blue Moon tells the story of Tate and Sam. They met the summer after Tate graduated from high school and went on a trip to England with her grandmother. Sam, who was twenty-one at the time was there on his own vacation with his grandfather. When the two of them keep bumping into each other and then swap hotel rooms, a friendship sparks between them. They spend a good chunk of their vacations getting to know each other under the stars in London. Tate, who is the daughter of an aging A-List actor is pretty closed off from the world. She lives in a small town in the Bay area with her mother and her grandmother and she lives far away from the limelight of Hollywood. Nobody knows who her father is and she’s kept that secret close to her vest for the longest of times. She remembers the mob that greeted her the last time she was found out and she has no wish to repeat that adventure. There are three people in her life that know who she really is and when she meets Sam, she feels a connection with him that has her opening up to him about things she never speaks about aloud. She falls head over heels in love with Sam and even though she was only eighteen, she knew her mind and she knew her heart and both of them wanted Sam. So when Sam betrays her trust in the cruelest of ways, she leaves him behind and never looks back.

Years and years later, Tate has become a break out star in Hollywood and she’s just signed on to shoot a movie with her Dad. It’ll be their first job together and Tate secretly hopes that they’ll finally forge a bond that’s real and not the smile for the camera’s relationship that they have now. This movie could be a really big break for Tate and she’s stoked to be a part of the film until she comes face to face with Sam. An all grown up Sam that is just as good looking, if not more good looking than he was the last time she saw him.

So this story is told in parts. The first part is for young Sam and Tate. We see them falling in love as young adults in London and their love was super sweet but fun. I really enjoyed the young Sam and Tate. I loved seeing their friendship grow and grow into a love that took them both by surprise and yet I fully supported. A summer romance that they both wanted to try to keep alive when they returned home held so much promise and I was here for it…until Sam does the unthinkable and then I was heartbroken for Tate. I mean, she didn’t trust anyone with that information but she trusted Sam and he did her dirty. So that brings us to part two, when they come together on the movie set of the movie that Sam wrote about his grandparents. They’re both grown adults now and on Tate’s part, there’s a lot of resentment and on Sam’s part, there’s remorse. I thought I’d get a whole lot of groveling from Sam and sadly, we didn’t get that. A huge part of the reason for that was this story was told in first person, strictly from Tate’s point of view. She’s pissed off at Sam (rightfully so) and so that’s what we see. We see glimpses of Sam being remorseful and we see Sam’s apology to Tate but for me, it wasn’t enough. Sam didn’t grovel nearly enough to make up for the giant kick in the teeth he delivered to Tate all those years ago.

I will say that I adored all of the side characters. Tate’s best friend Charlie was the bomb. I love me a loyal bitch and Charlie was that and more. I loved how fiercely she had Tate’s back and I was really hoping that her and Nick would become a thing. I really adored Nick and wished that his part was a bigger part of the story. I felt like the biggest thing about the movie that Sam wrote was the relationship between his white grandmother and his black grandfather. Nick’s reasons for wanting to do the movie hit me in my feels and I wanted more from that so I was bummed when it was such a small part of the book. Also, the whole thing with her Dad felt displaced. Like, it didn’t really fit in with everything else in the book. I wish that was dropped and that Tate hadn’t wasted so much time and energy into trying to forge a bond with her Dad that he just did not seem to want to reciprocate. I felt like she was too old to still be chasing after her father’s affection. When all of that was said and done, I was completely underwhelmed.

This book was a lot more serious than other Christina Lauren books. It’s not the rom=com books that we’ve come to expect from Christina Lauren like Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Dating or My Favorite Half-Night Stand. I enjoyed the first half a lot more than I enjoyed the second half but overall, the story was solid and I’m glad that I finished it. I’m looking forward to the next one from Christina Lauren for sure.

Final Grade

3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Review: Love on Lexington Avenue by Lauren Layne

Posted October 2, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 4 Comments

Review: Love on Lexington Avenue by Lauren LayneReviewer: Rowena
Love on Lexington Avenue by Lauren Layne
Series: The Central Park Pact #2
Also in this series: Passion on Park Avenue, Marriage on Madison Avenue
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: September 17, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 288
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

From New York Times bestselling author Lauren Layne comes the second delightfully charming installment in the Central Park Pact series, following a young widow whose newfound cynicism about love is challenged by a sexy, rough-around-the-edges contractor.

There’s never a bad time to fall in love in the city, right? Wrong. According to the recently-widowed Claire Hayes, it’s very, very wrong. In fact, after finding out her late husband was a liar and a cheat, Claire’s convinced there’s never a good time for romantic notions. Determined to rid her home of anything that reminds her of her philandering husband, Claire sets out to redesign her entire Upper East Side brownstone and make it her own. But when she meets gruff and often-cantankerous contractor Scott Turner and realizes not all men are scumbags, Claire must decide if she’s ready to risk her heart again.

Scott needs a change of pace from the corporate offices and swanky hotels he’s been building lately, and bluntly makes it clear to Claire that he only took on her house for that reason, adding that he has no patience for a pampered, damaged princess on his job site. But when long work days soon turn into even longer nights, their mutual wariness morphs into something more complicated—a grudging respect, and maybe even attraction…? Scott knows he’s not one to settle down, but then why can’t he bring himself to put the finishing touches on Claire’s house and move on to the next job?

Filled with laugh-out-loud scenes that blend perfectly with the touching friendships Layne brings to life on the page, this “hugely entertaining” (USA TODAY) novel is perfect for fans of Lauren Weisberger.

Love on Lexington Avenue is the second book in Lauren Layne’s Central Park Pact series and it follows the second friend in this series trio, Claire Hayes, as she finds happiness again after her disastrous marriage to her cheating husband. So this series kicks off in Passion on Park Avenue, on the day of Claire’s husbands funeral. She finds out that he wasn’t the faithful husband that she always thought he was and she can’t bring herself to go to the funeral. She finds herself sitting on a bench in Central Park and it is there, that she meets her late husband’s mistress and his girlfriend.

Claire was devastated when she found out the depth of her late husband’s infidelity. So much so, that she decided to never fall in love again and to never remarry. She wanted a fresh start so she figures that remodeling her house will help kick off the next chapter in her life. With the help of Naomi’s boyfriend Oliver, Claire finds herself hiring his friend, Scott Turner, to remodel her house.

Scott Turner needs a break from the hustle and bustle of his big shot career. He builds big money high rise buildings, the biggest and best hotels and one of a kind gems of buildings but he needs a break and he misses his dog…so he takes on a home renovation job for his buddy Oliver’s friend so that he can go home and get that break. And so that he can see his dog…only the job is a lot more complicated than he thought because, his new client is around all the time, distracting him from the job and shoving pink paint samples under his nose at every turn. They do not like each other but the longer they’re around each other, the more their animosity toward each other shifts into something different. The chemistry between them is off the charts and they both feel it, but Scott isn’t one to stick around and Claire needs stability so trying to figure things out gets really interesting.

You guys, I’m really digging this new series. Lauren Layne is my favorite author right now and she just keeps writing fabulous book after fabulous book and I’m super glad for that because she’s writing loads and that means more fabulous books for me to read. This book isn’t any different either. I enjoyed getting to know Claire, getting to know Scott, seeing them grow together in love, and seeing everyone from the previous book made for a fun book. I’ve seen loads of reviews where readers aren’t all that wowed by this series and I can’t relate because I enjoyed Naomi’s story and I really enjoyed this one and ho boy am I looking forward to Audrey’s book. I am a super fan of Layne’s writing and I am super glad that I read this one because it’s got everything you’ll need in a romance. A steamy romance between two characters that are perfect for each other and a cast of characters that you’re going to want in your own life. Good stuff. You should read it. 🙂

Final Grade

Grade: 4 out of 5

The Central Park Pact

four-stars


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Sunday Spotlight: Passion on Park Avenue by Lauren Layne

Posted May 19, 2019 by Rowena in Features, Giveaways | 7 Comments

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

Lauren Layne has been at the top of my Best of lists in the last few years and she keeps coming back with these heaters. I’m really loving everything that she’s putting out lately and I’m super excited to jump right into this one. Passion on Park Avenue is the first in a new romantic comedy series and this series is being promoted as more chick-lit than romance but I’m not mad about that. I will read anything this woman puts out.

Sunday Spotlight: Passion on Park Avenue by Lauren LaynePassion on Park Avenue by Lauren Layne
Series: The Central Park Pact #1
Also in this series: Passion on Park Avenue, Love on Lexington Avenue, Marriage on Madison Avenue
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: May 28, 2019
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 288
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: four-stars

From the author of the New York Times bestselling Stiletto and Oxford series, the first in a sizzling new series following the unlikely friendship of three Upper East Side women as they struggle to achieve their dreams and find true love and happiness in the city that never sleeps.

For as long as she can remember, Bronx-born Naomi Powell has had one goal: to prove her worth among the Upper East Side elite—the same people for which her mom worked as a housekeeper. Now, as the strongminded, sassy CEO of one of the biggest jewelry empires in the country, Naomi finally has exactly what she wants—but it’s going to take more than just the right address to make Manhattan’s upper class stop treating her like an outsider.

The worst offender is her new neighbor, Oliver Cunningham—the grown son of the very family Naomi’s mother used to work for. Oliver used to torment Naomi when they were children, and as a ridiculously attractive adult, he’s tormenting her in entirely different ways. Now they find themselves engaged in a battle-of-wills that will either consume or destroy them…

Filled with charm and heart and plenty of sex and snark, this entertaining series will hook you from the very first page.

Early reviews of this book are pretty decent so I’m stupid excited for its release. This is something fresh and new for Lauren Layne and I’m stoked to see what she does in the chick-lit but still romance genre. Check out an excerpt from this week’s Sunday Spotlight feature.

Excerpt

Oliver’s jaw clenched. He did not lose his temper often, but this woman was seriously pushing his buttons.

“Alright, I give up, Ms. Powell. What’s your deal?”

“My deal?”

“You’ve been eying my jugular since I walked in the door.”

He waited for her to deny it. Instead, she inspected her manicure. A deep navy, he noted, and not the demure pale pink or classic red he was used to seeing. And yet everything else, the expensive-looking dress, the brand-name handbag, the sleek hairstyle was expected, just like every other woman he knew.

But there was something else there—something more interesting that he couldn’t put his finger on. Almost like she was a blend of self-confidence and vulnerability all wound into one feisty, compelling package.

She was a contradiction.

Maybe Oliver didn’t need to start that jigsaw puzzle tonight after all. He had a hell of a puzzle right in front of him.

“You do realize that I’m the gate keeper to the next round,” he prodded again.

She craned her neck, pretending to look at his hands. “Oh, is there a ring I was supposed to kiss? I’m new to this whole process. Should I bow?”

There it was again. The flash of familiarity. Who was this woman?

“Have we met?” he asked, tossing the folder on the desk as he studied her.

She looked away, and Oliver’s eyes narrowed. “We have. How do I know you?”

Naomi looked back, her eyes guarded. “You don’t.”

“You sure?”

Instead of replying, she rewarded him with her first genuine smile. And damn, what a smile it was. Seductive and lethal all at the same time.

He was still reeling from its impact when she startled him by standing.

“We’re not done,” he said, then hid a wince at how pompous he sounded. How much like his father he sounded.

“Oh, I think we are,” she murmured. “I think we both know exactly what you’re going to write on my application the second I leave.”

“Yeah, we do,” he snapped, standing up too. “Left interview early.”

She glared up at him, and Oliver was a little surprised to realize that they were both breathing hard.

Naomi Powell wasn’t particularly short, but at six feet, he had the physical advantage. For the first time since he’d hit his growth spurt in high school, he relished his height. This perplexing woman got under his skin like nobody had in a long time, and he needed every defense he could get.

Just as he was gearing up for her retort—anticipating it—she turned away.

Oliver called after her. “You understand that I’m not going to recommend you for the next round of interviews, right?”

“No problem, Mr. Cunningham. And look on the bright side. With me gone, there’ll be more room for your emperor complex up in here. I’ll send your secretary in. You’re looking a bit overdue for your daily hand-feeding of grapes.”

Naomi Powell sailed out the office door without so much as a backward glance.

Oliver stood staring at the doorway, feeling somewhere between dumbfounded and off-balance. And most annoyingly of all …

Intrigued.

Giveaway Alert

We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the widget below to enter for one of this month’s features.

Sunday Spotlight: May 2019

Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!

About Lauren Layne

Lauren Layne is the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of more than two dozen romantic comedies. Her books have sold over a million copies, in nine languages. Lauren's work has been featured in Publishers Weekly, Glamour, The Wall Street Journal, and Inside Edition. She is based in New York City.


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