Tag: Guest Reviews

Guest Review: Working On It by Cass Alexander

Posted March 24, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Working On It by Cass AlexanderReviewer: Tracy
Working On It by Cass Alexander
Series: The Persimmon series #1
Published by Self-Published
Publication Date: September 23rd, 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance, New Adult
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four-stars

Rebecca—The self-reigning queen of four-letter words is in trouble. She’s got it bad for the hottest guy at Persimmon College. Unfortunately, Mr. Sexy Man has a girlfriend. Too bad it doesn’t stop Rebecca from wanting him.

Evan makes his desire for Rebecca pretty obvious. Her inexperience and fear of getting hurt hold her back. Oh, and that running list of character flaws she has doesn’t help. But she’s working on it.

Evan—Rebecca Banks makes flinging insults an art form. She’s short, blonde, and the sexiest thing he’s ever laid eyes on.

Rebecca is everything Rachel—Evan’s girlfriend—isn’t. Breaking up with Rachel will be difficult. Letting go of Rebecca? Impossible. To Evan, Rebecca is f-ing perfect. She doesn’t need to work on a damned thing. Now he just needs to get her to stop running away from him.

Rebecca is a serious student but a girl who like to have fun as well.  She’s got more guy friends than girl friends and spends a lot of time at the Tau frat house across the street.  She thinks that Evan Michaels (part of Tau) is totally hot but she’s heard some pretty bad things about him over the years and tells herself to stay away.  She doesn’t, however, and is soon involved with him right after he ends things with his long-time girlfriend, Rachel.

Evan can’t get enough of Rebecca.  He loves that she’s happy almost all of the time and she makes him laugh constantly.  He especially loves the friendly insults she throws around and her potty mouth.  She’s gorgeous as well and he can’t get enough of her.  She’s nothing like his ex, Rachel, and he loves that about her.  Unfortunately Rachel’s name keeps coming up and Rebecca’s insecurities about their relationship get the best of her.

I grabbed this one off of Kindle Unlimited not quite knowing what to expect.  I’m happy to say that it totally surprised and delighted me in the end.  What I thought was going to be an angst-filled New Adult story was actually a cute romance that made me laugh out loud more than once – I loved that.

Rebecca is the kind of girl I always wanted to be when I was in college.  Relaxed and fun, lots of friends (with both guys and girls), and a good student.  I think I was one of those things – I won’t say which one. 😊  Rebecca grew up in a home where there was a ton of humor flying around and the family that actually loved and cared for one another a great deal.  There were no unrealistic expectations and you could tell how well she was loved by them in the confident way she held herself and the way she acted.  I really liked her character a lot.  I loved how she talked to herself and would go over things she wanted to work on – it just made me laugh.

“I tend to judge people inside my head, something my parents encourage me to work on since I suck at hiding my emotions on my face.  I’ll work on it later.”

Later in the book…

“I also lack a filter.  But I’m working on it. Sort of.”

I thought she was really great for Evan, she just doubted herself when it came to him.  It was a bit out of character but I could see that his experience with women intimidated her.

Evan took just a bit of time for me to get to like him.  At first I wasn’t quite sure what to make of him because it seemed like he was a player (even though he’d been with Rachel for a couple of years) and that he’d broken up with Rachel just to get with Rebecca.  When things played out we got the whole story and I understood him much better.  He also, at some points, felt like a stalker when it came to Rebecca, but that was explained eventually as well.  In the end I liked him a lot and felt that him and Rebecca were perfect for each other.

The story was hilarious at times and I loved laughing.  The story had a great mix of love, angst, laughter and sex and it just worked for me.  If you’re looking for a fun contemporary new adult romance you should pick this one up.

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars

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Guest Review: Madly by Ruthie Knox

Posted March 23, 2017 by Jen in Reviews | 2 Comments

Guest Review: Madly by Ruthie KnoxMadly (New York, #2) by Ruthie Knox
Also in this series: Madly
Published by Loveswept
Publication Date: March 14th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 273
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An impulsive trip to New York City, a heartthrob from London, and a scandalous to-do list turn a small-town girl’s life upside down in this sultry romance from the New York Times bestselling author of Truly and About Last Night.
Allie Fredericks isn’t supposed to be in Manhattan, hiding in the darkest corner of a hip bar, spying on her own mother—who’s flirting with a man who’s definitely not Allie’s father. Allie’s supposed to be in Wisconsin, planning her parents’ milestone anniversary party. Then Winston Chamberlain walks through the door, with his tailored suit, British accent, and gorgeous eyes, and Allie’s strange mission goes truly sideways.
Winston doesn’t do messy. But after a pretty stranger ropes him into her ridiculous family drama with a fake kiss that gets a little too real, he finds out that messy can be fun. Maybe even a little addicting. And as the night grows longer, Allie and Winston make a list of other wild things they could do together—and what seems like a mismatch leads to a genuine connection. But can their relationship survive as their real lives implode just outside the bedroom door?

I’ve been childishly whining ever since I saw that Winston Chamberlain was the hero of Madly, about how it made me nervous because I couldn’t stand him. He appeared in another of Knox’s books, About Last Night, and he was cruel to his brother, selfish, and so, so uppity. It didn’t help that I positively hated the ending of that book, too, though that had nothing to do with Winston. (You don’t need to read that book first, and frankly it’s probably better if you don’t so you don’t end up with preconceived notions like I did.) Allie also wasn’t entirely my favorite when she appeared in her sister’s book, Truly. I mention all this because if you hadn’t already heard my whining, you should know about my prior feelings; they are part of understanding what I liked and didn’t like about Madly.

Madly takes place four years after the events of About Last Night. Winston has since gotten divorced and moved from London to New York City to be near his college-age daughter and to work in the NYC location of his aristocratic family’s bank. It’s also been a little under a year since the events of Truly, when Allie Fredericks dumped her fiance on their wedding day. Allie has impulsively come from her home in Manitowoc, WI to New York following her mom, who she suspects is having a long term affair with a New York artist. When she bumps into Winston in a bar, he starts helping her track down her mom.

First off, while I was concerned about how Knox would redeem Winston, I’m happy to say I was satisfied. We don’t see Winston’s transformation in Madly, but Winston has indeed undergone a transformation since his low point in About Last Night when he tried to blackmail his brother Nev and tear down Nev’s love interest, Cath. We also learn that Winston’s marriage had been a mess at the time, and he tried to force his life, and his ex-wife, into some predefined shape he thought was the “right one” for a man of his position. When that all fell apart, he realized how wrong it was, both for himself and everyone around him. You get the sense that he’s spent the last years trying his best to simply be kind to everyone around him. He’s mostly patched things up with Nev and Cath, though there’s still some residual tension, and he’s trying to be a good dad to his daughter, Bea, without smothering her or forcing her into a box like he did with her mother. However, in trying so hard to make up for the past and give everyone space, he’s kind of forgotten what he wants or needs. He isn’t unhappy exactly, but at the start of the book he spends the bulk of his time watching Netflix and waiting for Bea to occasionally give him a few minutes of her time. Rinse, Repeat. When Allie storms into his life, it brings a lightness and fun that he obviously forgot he was capable of. I kind of can’t believe I’m saying this but…I actually liked seeing Winston come back to life a bit!

Family, with all the messy, complex, and overwhelming emotions that implies, is a huge theme in so many of Knox’s books, this one included. The Chamberlain’s family drama mostly happened in About Last Night and the intervening years, so this book focuses on the Fredericks. The family is kind of imploding around Allie, and she’s fighting to figure out what to do about it. There was a point in the book where I actually wanted to put it down because it was a little too much. Maybe it’s because of some people I know who are going through their own hard family dramas that things felt a little too real, but I think most of us have had hurtful family secrets or loved ones who profoundly disappointed us. It was almost too painful to read about what might happen. (As a parent, the interactions between Winston and Bea were also sweet but a little hard to read. He loves her so much but is afraid to hold on too tightly, but he can see her growing up and pulling away anyway…ugh, who is chopping onions in here?) I pushed on, though, and was rewarded with a thoroughly happy ending. It was perhaps unrealistically happy, but I can’t complain because wouldn’t we all like our own messy family problems to end so happily?

While Winston was redeemed, though, I never thoroughly warmed to Allie. She felt a bit inconsistent, first of all. She’s supposed to be so flighty and impulsive, but other than flying to New York on a whim I didn’t really see that. She mostly just felt…opinionated, which is fine but not the same thing. She says she wants to take care of everyone and feels like it’s on her to hold things together, but she kept running away when things got hard. She was not particularly kind to Winston (and geez, no one is more surprised than me that I’m saying that, haha) when all he did was love and support her from the start. In general, she acts pretty self absorbed and a little immature throughout the book, and it got on my nerves by the end. This is some of what bothered me about her in Madly, too, and I was disappointed to see that unlike Winston, she hadn’t changed much between books. Moreover, I wasn’t quite sure whether she had really had a transformation by the end of this book either. Sure, some of her family issues were resolved, but had Allie herself changed? When I thought about that question at the end of the book all I could come up with was…probably? I think so? I believed she was good with Winston, but in my mind she wasn’t ready for the implied HEA, not quite yet at least.

This was a complicated book full of big themes and big emotions, and I admire that Knox never shies away from tackling complicated human beings. Plus, it is full of funny, lovely dialog, and it’s very sexy. (And boy I could write paragraphs about the awesome and complex sex scenes in this book because I have so many thoughts. There’s a “list”, sex toys, lots of sex that’s not just PinV, orgasm isn’t always the goal…such good stuff, but go read and judge for yourself!) It made me think, and it was a great read.

Grade: 4 out of 5

*I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.

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Guest Review: Live Wire by Caisey Quinn

Posted March 22, 2017 by Jen in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Live Wire by Caisey QuinnReviewer: Jen
Live Wire (Nashville's Finest, #1) by Caisey Quinn
Series: Nashville's Finest #1
Published by InterMix
Publication Date: March 7th 2017
Genres: Romantic Suspense
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three-half-stars

Caisey Quinn—author of the Neon Dreams romances—delivers the debut novel in an explosive new romantic suspense series...

HE’S NOT AFRAID OF ANYTHING…

Explosive ordinance disposal specialist Chase Fisk never breaks a sweat defusing even the most complicated of explosives. So when a homicidal maniac threatens to set off military-grade IEDs during Nashville’s largest music festival, Chase is the man to take him down. But with the reappearance of a woman he thought was long dead, everything he thought he knew is blown away.

EXCEPT LOSING HER AGAIN.

FBI operative Vivien Montgomery is an enigma to everyone around her. So when a deadly threat lands her in Nashville and paired up with the only man she’s ever loved, she isn’t looking forward to an emotional reunion. She’s only here to get the job done and get out. But when the madman behind the chaos targets her for death, the one man she left behind might be the only person she can count on to save her life...

When the book opens, Chase Fisk is simply going through the motions of his life in the Nashville PD, and that’s the way it’s been since the love of his life, Vivien, died four years ago. Only, it turns out she didn’t actually die. When FBI agent Vivien Montgomery comes to Nashville to help Chase’s department stop a terrorist attack, she obviously can’t avoid Chase finding out she’s very much alive. Despite the hurt feelings and secrets, Chase and Vivien have to work together to put the past behind them and prevent a major terrorist attack.

In case it’s not clear from that summary, Chase and Vivien have a wee bit of baggage. Chase was nearly broken after Vivien’s death, and he has been a haunted man living a shell of a life ever since. Worse, he was inadvertently injured in the staged blast that supposedly took Vivien’s life, and the injuries ended his military career and have left him with a condition that could end his work in explosive ordinance disposal. In short, her fake death severely MESSED HIM UP, physically and emotionally. He is understandably both confused and enraged when she simply shows up in Nashville unannounced. She does have valid reasons, or at least understandable reasons, for never telling Chase she was alive, and I could accept that part of the story. But to be honest, I really wasn’t thrilled with how Vivien handled the whole thing. I realize she didn’t get much advance notice that she was going to Nashville, but to simply show up without a single warning to Chase was frankly a pretty jerky move. Even if she had just arranged to meet with him privately to break the news, instead of doing it in front of all their coworkers, it would have made me a bit more sympathetic. She doesn’t seem to quite understand why he’s really angry, either, at least at first. (She does get it eventually, thank goodness.) I would have liked a little more grovel or at least sensitivity from her.

Despite how she handled her reunion with Chase, I did enjoy this story quite a bit. The terrorism plot is interesting and compelling, and the cast of secondary characters is great. I am especially excited about Luke and Annalise, who I presume will be the couple in the next book. Their chemistry was already electric and we’ve only just met them! I also really liked Chase and Vivien as a couple. For the most part, Chase respected Vivien’s skills and autonomy, even though he was completely (understandably) terrified of losing her again. He isn’t great at sharing his feelings, but he realizes that their relationship can never work without openness, and he makes a concerted effort to get over his manly emotional constipation. Once she finally got over her own hurt feelings, Vivien was a great partner for Chase, too. She was protective and concerned about his feelings, and she went all in. They had steamy chemistry, and I enjoyed reading about them.

The book did feel a bit uneven in parts. Some portions plodded a little, and there wasn’t as much of a sense of urgency as one might expect in the face of a major terrorist attack. The pace of the relationship was also kind of odd, as they moved from a seemingly insurmountable conflict to mostly smooth reuniting relatively quickly. They did it by talking openly and honestly, which was great. It was just a little hard to believe that there would be no real aftereffects of the last four years. Heck, they were both profoundly changed by the experience! While they did take time to get to know each other again, I just had some trouble accepting that they could rebuild trust that quickly. I wanted to see some of the bumps along the way.

Even with the problems, I definitely enjoyed this new story line and new-to-me voice.

Grade: 3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars

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Guest Review: Flash of Fury by Lea Griffith

Posted March 15, 2017 by Jen in Reviews | 2 Comments

Guest Review: Flash of Fury by Lea GriffithReviewer: Jen
Flash of Fury (Endgame Ops, #1) by Lea Griffith
Series: Endgame Ops #1
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: March 17th 2017
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 384
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two-half-stars

Their spark is immediate
Kingston McNally lost men when someone betrayed his team, and now he's out for retribution. His quest for the enemy's courier leads him to Cameroon and Allie Redding, a petite Peace Corps volunteer as stubborn as she is brave. Their attraction is immediate, but Allie has secrets of her own...and she's not giving them up easily.
But their secrets could burn them both
Allie's life has been spent hiding in plain sight, but she's had enough of her cloak-and-dagger existence. On her way home, her plane is hijacked-and King saves her life. But that doesn't mean she owes him anything...even if he is the most damnably sexy man she's ever laid eyes on. He's got black ops and secrets written all over him, and trust is a two-way street.

This book sounded right up my alley because it’s about two people on the run, jetting around the world. Totally my catnip! Unfortunately, the book was largely disappointing for me.

Kingston (King) is the leader of a black ops team. Their last mission went sideways, a team member betrayed them, and several people lost their lives. King is trying to track down the international weapons dealer who was behind the mission-gone-wrong, and it leads him to a plane in Cameroon where he’s told a courier for the dealer will be flying. Instead, he interupts a hijacking in which some bad guys are attempting to kidnap Allie Redding. He doesn’t know if she’s the courier, someone else connected with the bad guys, or a total innocent, but he saves her anyway. When her real identity comes out, the mission changes to getting Allie back to America safely while also trying to unravel the complicated games that brought his team down.

The most frustrating part of this book for me was the romance. King and Allie have absolute insta-lust in a way that’s truly ridiculous. They are already making out very early in the book, while still escaping from the hijackers and before they’ve even had much conversation. It was especially stupid on Allie’s part, because she had no idea who King was or whether he was a good or bad guy. Come on girl, you can be smarter than that! King has some tender moments, but I didn’t quite understand what was drawing these two together, besides the obvious stressful, life-and-death situation. The dialog in the book is also kind of awkward, and the action jumps around. Several times I felt like I was dropped in the middle of an ongoing series and I had missed the set up for all the characters and teams. It made things confusing and hard to follow.

The complexity was a double edged sword, because while it did make things confusing I enjoyed some of it. There are so many people involved in the plot, and while there are a couple clear bad guys (the dealer and his cronies) and good guys (King and Allie), everyone else is a question mark. Who is double crossing whom? Who has their own secret agendas, and what are they? Will people’s personal relationships trump their national and financial loyalties? I enjoyed the mystery, and I’m intrigued by the larger story line. In fact, I’m intrigued enough that I might even consider reading another book in the series just to find out more, despite my misgivings with this first book.

So, consider my interest piqued but in no way sold on this series.

Grade: 2.5 out of 5

*I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.

 

two-half-stars

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Guest Review: Madly by Ruthie Knox

Posted March 14, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Madly by Ruthie KnoxReviewer: Tracy
Madly by Ruthie Knox
Series: New York series #2
Also in this series: Madly (New York, #2)
Published by Loveswept
Publication Date: March 14th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-half-stars

An impulsive trip to New York City, a heartthrob from London, and a scandalous to-do list turn a small-town girl’s life upside down in this sultry romance from the New York Times bestselling author of Truly and About Last Night.

Allie Fredericks isn’t supposed to be in Manhattan, hiding in the darkest corner of a hip bar, spying on her own mother—who’s flirting with a man who’s definitely not Allie’s father. Allie’s supposed to be in Wisconsin, planning her parents’ milestone anniversary party. Then Winston Chamberlain walks through the door, with his tailored suit, British accent, and gorgeous eyes, and Allie’s strange mission goes truly sideways.

Winston doesn’t do messy. But after a pretty stranger ropes him into her ridiculous family drama with a fake kiss that gets a little too real, he finds out that messy can be fun. Maybe even a little addicting. And as the night grows longer, Allie and Winston make a list of other wild things they could do together—and what seems like a mismatch leads to a genuine connection. But can their relationship survive as their real lives implode just outside the bedroom door?

Allie Fredericks is trying to save her family.  For as long as she can remember her mother has randomly disappeared from their lives in Wisconsin.  Allie’s dad always said that she was taking time for herself.  This time Allie found out that she headed to New York so she decided to follow her to finally get to the bottom of everything.  She’s stalking her mom at a bar (with the man who is her biological father) when she enlists the help of a stranger – Winston Chamberlain.  He not only helps her but ends up giving her a place to stay after she loses her mom in the New York shuffle. While trying to find her mother she enlists the help of all of Winston’s friends and relatives and even his personal assistant.  Her simple sleuth job turns into a major deal and soon everyone is looking for her mom.

Allie is distraught about a great many things and decides that she needs to unload her woes to someone.  She uses Winston as she doesn’t know him and it feels safe to tell him things she maybe wouldn’t have told someone she knew well.  When they start talking though they find they have an attraction to each other and also sexual issues that have never been discovered or worked out (she with her ex-fiancé and he with his ex-wife).  They decide to make a list (sexual) and get through it before she heads back to Wisconsin.

While in New York Allie also tries to reconnect with her sister but that ends up causing more issues than fixing anything.  Allie soon realizes that she has to figure how to get her own life in order and let everyone else live their lives their own way.  She also has to figure out what to do with her growing feelings for Winston and that’s not an easy thing to do.

Madly was a pretty fun and interesting book.  Despite that, however, I found it to be exhausting.  The characters, especially Allie, made me a bit crazy at times and I just needed Allie to take a deep breath and be calm for one moment. Lol

Allie was a crazy girl who was business wise and personality strong.  She loved her family but pretty much felt that they were falling apart and she took it upon herself to fix everything.  I think it was because she couldn’t fix her own life the way it needed to be therefore she needed to fix everyone else’s.  She had a big personality and this was shown to us again and again.  She wore me out, truth be told.  I was quite happy that Winston could bring her down to earth once in a while.

I didn’t connect completely with either Allie or Winston but I did like them together.  I thought that they played off of each other well and the scenes when they were alone together were my favorite.

This is a sequel to the first book in the series, Truly, but it also catches us up with Nev and Cath from About Last Night (a book I loved).  It was good to see Nev and Cath again and to meet Winston’s daughter, Bea, who was awesome.

Overall a good book but a frenetic one.  I’d say you definitely have to be in the mood for a wild ride to truly enjoy this story.

Rating: 3.5/3.75 out of 5

three-half-stars

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