Tag: Guest Reviews

Guest Review on a Sneak Peak of The Ones Who Got Away by Roni Loren

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

Reviewer: Tracy
The Ones Who Got Away by Roni Loren
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: January 2nd 2018
Genres: Contemporary Romance
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four-stars

A fresh new contemporary romance from New York Times and USA Today bestseller Roni Loren that will rock your world.

Twelve years ago, tragedy struck the senior class of Long Acre High School. Only a small number of students survived, a group the media dubbed as The Ones Who Got Away.

Now, web designer Liv Arias, along with the rest of the survivors, have returned to the small Texas town to tell their stories for a documentary. Which means Liv seeing former star-athlete and old flame Finn Dorsey. A lot happened between them that night and Liv is ready to end their decade-long riff and move on. But when her attempt at closure turns into a steamy kiss, moving on proves much more difficult than either of them thought...

Liv's words cut off as Finn got closer. The man approaching was nothing like the boy she'd known. The bulky football muscles had streamlined into a harder, leaner package. The smooth face was now dusted with scruff, and the look in his deep green eyes held no trace of boyish innocence. A thousand things were in those eyes. A thousand things welled up in Liv.

Liv doesn’t really want to be back in her hometown talking about the tragedy that changed her entire life.  She certainly doesn’t want to see Finn as he had a big hand in her experience during the tragedy.  Despite that she can’t help but be attracted to the man that Finn’s become, remembering all the great times they had in high school, even if no one but the two of them knew about their relationship.  Liv just wants to give her interview and get back home, but once Finn kisses her she’s not sure what she wants.

I just got a short sneak peak at The One Who Got Away but it left me completely intrigued – and frustrated that I it ended so soon!  I’ve loved the books I’ve read by Loren and I have a feeling I’ll like this one just as much.  TOWGA obviously has a highly emotional and touchy subject – a mass shooting at a high school – and one that we hear about way too often these days.  I admire Loren for having this romance set post-tragedy and can’t wait to see how she handles the characters with all of their survivor’s guilt.  I think it’s gonna be a great read and can’t wait until January 2018 when it comes out.

four-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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Guest Review: Playing Dirty by Taryn Leigh Taylor

Posted April 27, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Playing Dirty by Taryn Leigh TaylorReviewer: Tracy
Playing Dirty by Taryn Leigh Taylor
Published by Harlequin Blaze
Publication Date: April 18th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
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four-stars


A game they both want to win

Lainey Harper has never been a puck bunny. She wants nothing to do with hockey or hockey players--not after what she's been through. So why can't she resist Cooper Mead?

Portland's newest hockey star, Cooper, is all muscle and charisma. And he's Lainey's worst nightmare. Hooking up with him would bring back memories that Lainey needs to keep buried. And risk the hard-earned anonymity she's sacrificed everything to protect.

When Lainey finally gives in to Cooper's sexy charm, the chemistry's intense--but so is the media exposure. And now Lainey's got even more to lose than her secret--she's got Cooper.

Lainey Harper grew up in a hockey family and loved it.  That is until her father walked out the door when she was 10 and never came back.  She did end up playing hockey, however, but ended her career scoring on her own net and never living it down.  Now she’s back in Portland, OR trying to sell the bar that her father left her when he died.  She wants nothing more than to sell it and get back to her life.

She meets professional hockey player Cooper Mead when her half-brother, Brett, brings him into the bar.   Cooper tries to get her number time and again but she doesn’t fall for his lines.  Despite that they end up hot and heavy after hours.  Lainey decides it was just sex and tries to move on.  Cooper, however, can’t get Lainey out of his mind and keeps showing up wherever Lainey is.  When she’s photographed with Cooper her past comes back to haunt her and she pushes him away. Lainey has to decide what she wants with Cooper, if anything, and what that means for her future.

Lainey was a wonderful character.  She was down to earth and realistic about life.  Yes, she had issues but she was open to change and that made a huge difference in the way I saw her.  Cooper was just a sexy as hell hockey player and I really liked him.  He was kind yet rough and tumble.  He has his own issues and secrets and because of them he tries to act, at times, like someone he’s not.  I loved how he dealt with everything in the book (I don’t want to give it all away) and how he came to tell Lainey, and others, about his issues.

The romance and sex was extremely hot and well written.  Taylor didn’t overdo it and throw too may sex scenes in when they didn’t further the story along, and I appreciated that.

This was a great little book.  Lainey really had a chip on her shoulder when the story first started but throughout the book she came to realize many things about herself and the way she saw life, her father, her brother, and love.

Rating: 4 out of 5

FYI – This kind of looks like it’s the second book in a series but the life of me I couldn’t find a series name.  The first book is Playing to Win.

four-stars

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Guest Review: Frostbite by Alexandria Bellefleur

Posted April 26, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Frostbite by Alexandria BellefleurReviewer: Tracy
Frostbite by Alexandria Bellefleur
Published by Less Than Three Press
Publication Date: April 26th 2017
Genres: Magic, Fantasy, Romance, m/m, Fairy Tales & Folklore
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three-half-stars

After his sister touches a lethal Frost Flower and succumbs to Frozen Sickness, Rainor seeks out the mysterious Dragon, who purportedly holds the only cure for the fatal disease. In gratitude for saving his sister's life, Rainor agrees to bring him fresh bread twice a week—despite the man's insistence he wants for nothing.

As Rainor makes his deliveries, the two slowly become friends, and Rainor finds in the Dragon all the things he never found in his little village. But on his way to make his latest delivery, the unthinkable happens, and Rainor fears that if he asks for the cure he needs to live, he'll lose the man he's coming to love…

Rainor loves his sister and she means a lot to him.  When he takes her out to the lake and then accidentally falls asleep his devastated when he realizes that she’s touched one of the Frost Flowers.  He knows that he must get the cure to her quickly or she’ll be dead within 24 hours.  The doctor tells him the only cure is up in the mountain cave with the Dragon.

When Rainor arrives in the cave he’s shocked to see how homey it is.  The man they call Dragon isn’t a dragon at all – just a man.  He gladly gives Rainor the cure and asks for nothing in return.  Rainor insists on bringing him bread every three days to pay for the cure and Dragon, actually named Drachen, finally agrees.

At first Rainor is afraid of Drachen but as the days go by and Rainor continues to take the bread, they start to talk and become friends.  Rainor learns the horrible tale of how Drachen came to be living in the caves – evil witchcraft.   When that very witch tricks Rainor into touching one of the Frost Flowers Rainor thinks he can get the cure without bothering Drachen but his decision ends up turning on him.

This was a great little fantasy short story.  It had wonderful characters and the story was well written.  I liked the way that the author wrote Rainor as he was such a good person and rarely put himself first.  This fairytale was a lovely, sweet m/m romance that I truly enjoyed.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars

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Guest Review: Going Nowhere Fast by Kati Wilde

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

Guest Review: Going Nowhere Fast by Kati WildeReviewer: Tracy
Going Nowhere Fast by Kati Wilde
Published by InterMix
Publication Date: April 18th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
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three-half-stars

Two hearts.
Three rules.
Four weeks to break them all.

When Aspen Phillips’ best friend invites her on a month-long road trip, she has serious mixed feelings. Sharing their tight quarters will be Bramwell Gage, overprotective brother and all-around jerk. Bram may be ridiculously sexy, but he’s made no effort to hide how he feels about Aspen—that she’s trash who’s no good for his sister. But Aspen is determined to get along with the uptight millionaire—and to keep her promise, concealing a secret about his sister that Bram can never know.

But after a scorching kiss reveals that Bram’s feelings toward her run much hotter than she believed, Aspen's emotions swerve into a complete 180. Suddenly the girl who has nothing has everything—but only as long as the truth about his sister remains hidden. Because when all the secrets and promises unravel, she risks losing it all...

Aspen is meeting her best friend, Bethany, so that they can go on a post-college graduation trip.  Unfortunately Bethany’s brother, Bram, will be going as well and Aspen and Bram don’t get along.  The first time they met Aspen and Bethany were getting back from a rave they’d gone to and Bethany was drunk.  Since they were freshmen they were underage and Bram didn’t like the fact that Aspen was “ruining” his sister and having a bad influence on her. This continued for four years so the thought of spending a month with Bram is not something Aspen is looking forward to.

When Aspen gets to the meeting place Bram is there but Bethany is nowhere in sight.  Aspen gets a text from Bethany stating that she’s checking herself into a rehab but doesn’t want Aspen to tell her brother where she is, even though they’re close siblings.  One thing leads to another and Aspen ends up on the trip with Bram anyway.  During the time they’re traveling they discover a lot about each other and they end up creating a truce…or two…or 85.  They’re so attracted to each other that they decide to have “hate” sex, but can it really be considered hate sex when at least one of them is in love with the other?

I have to say that I love romance travel stories.  Something about moving from place to place and well, being separated from your norm just does something for me.  I think because it’s all that more exciting when they get home and they discover that it works at home as well as it does on the road.  In this case, that didn’t exactly happen but it still worked out in the end.

Aspen had once been a middle class girl but then her father got cancer and died, her mother lost her nursing job as she couldn’t take care of dying people any longer, the family lost their house because the medical bills were astronomical.  Now they scrape together what they can.  Aspen was thrilled to go on the trip as it was pretty much all expenses paid but she hated that Bram was going.  She knew that he loved his sister but he was so over-protective with Bethany it bothered Aspen.  She knew it stemmed from their parents dying in a car accident when Bram was 19 years old but Aspen felt that Bram needed to be a brother to Bethany, not a father figure.  Because of the father figure mentality, he was quite harsh with Aspen and what he felt where her bad influences on Bethany.  He was constantly telling her this and it started to get on my nerves after a while, I must say.  I knew that he was attracted to Aspen but despite their “truce” he still was harsh with her.

Aspen was a strong woman but a person can only take so much before they break.  In her case it was Bram still being angry toward her supposedly bad influences even after they were having sex and having a good time together. He kept telling her that he shouldn’t want her and shouldn’t be with her and of course she thought it was because she was poor and he was a millionaire and that he was slumming and felt bad about it. My problem came when she actually told Bram all of this and he was shocked at the revelation.  He basically told her that he had never thought badly about her because of being poor and that she was projecting her bullshit on to him.  As this is a first person POV book we had never been privy to Bram’s thoughts, only Aspen’s, and as such was led to believe that Bram was an ass but was he?  The guy that I had just spent 75% of the book kind of disliking isn’t who I thought he was and now I’m supposed to like him?  Gah!  I’m so confused!  When I then looked back at Bram, not through Aspen’s eyes, I realized he’s not a bad guy.  While he could be an ass he wasn’t as mean and judgey as I thought and made me rethink my entire take on the book.  It was exhausting.

Bram ended up being an emotionally scarred hero and by the end of the book I liked him. Yes, he could be overbearing but he did it with good intentions and he had a big heart.  I was quite happy that Bram and Aspen finally worked out their issues and got their HEA – they worked hard for it and deserved it.

Despite my issue (named above) I also liked the writing in the book and the secondary characters.  I’ve only read one set of short stories by Wilde and they were erotic romances.  This was a good full length novel and made me want to read more of her books.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

three-half-stars

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