Tag: Holly’s Reviews

Joint Review: Beyond Scandal and Desire by Lorraine Heath

Posted February 12, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 7 Comments

Joint Review: Beyond Scandal and Desire by Lorraine HeathReviewer: Holly & Rowena
Beyond Scandal and Desire (Sins for All Seasons, #1) by Lorraine Heath
Series: Sins for All Seasons #1
Also in this series: Beyond Scandal and Desire
Published by Harper Collins, Avon
Publication Date: January 30th 2018
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 384
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four-stars

At birth, Mick Trewlove, the illegitimate son of a duke, was handed over to a commoner. Despite his lowly upbringing, Mick has become a successful businessman, but all his wealth hasn’t satisfied his need for revenge against the man who still won’t acknowledge him. What else can Mick do but destroy the duke’s legitimate son—and woo the heir’s betrothed into his own unloving arms . . .

Orphaned and sheltered, Lady Aslyn Hastings longs for a bit of adventure. With her intended often preoccupied, Aslyn finds herself drawn to a darkly handsome entrepreneur who seems to understand her so well. Surely a lady of her station should avoid Mick Trewlove. If only he weren’t so irresistible . . .

As secrets are about to be exposed, Mick must decide if his plan for vengeance is worth risking what his heart truly desires.

Holly: I haven’t had a lot of reading time lately, but Rowena raved about this book and forced me to read it for this review. I’m glad I picked it up. I really enjoyed it.

What did you think?

Rowena: I really enjoyed this book. From Mick to Aslyn and everyone else, there was much to love. The revenge thing isn’t my favorite but in this book, I thought it was written well. Mick’s reasons, his feelings on the whole thing were understandable and I loved that he fell in love with Lady Aslyn in the process. The baby farming deal added more to the story to reel me in because I haven’t ever really read much about that kind of stuff in historical romances so Lorraine Heath hooked me with just about everything.

Holly: I tend to avoid revenge stories, because all too often the secrets and lies just make me angry. I really liked the way this one played out, though. Maybe because I really liked how Mick came to care for Lady Aslyn in spite of his plans.

Rowena: I really liked the way that the revenge plot was carried out. That whole thing brought a modern family twist to a historical romance that I quite enjoyed. I don’t know that I would have enjoyed it as much in a different kind of historical romance but for this one, I dug it.

Holly: The revenge plot really worked for me. I liked the turn it took and I appreciated the new twist on an old trope.

Rowena: What were your favorite things about this book?

Holly: I really liked Aslyn. She started out kind of timid, but she really came into her own. I like how she stood up for herself and, once she understood exactly what she wanted, refused to settle.

I also really liked how noble Mick was. He took care of his family and wanted to make the world a better place. He had his revenge plans, but he wasn’t just out for himself. He truly wanted to lift people up.

Rowena: I really liked that about Mick too. He cared about those that were left behind. The ones that couldn’t protect themselves, he stepped up and protected them. Took care of them and the loyalty he had from everyone around him was nice to witness.

Are you interested in reading Gillie’s (one of Mick’s sisters) book?

Holly: I’m not sure about Gillie. I didn’t really connect with her in this book, but we didn’t spend a lot of time with her, either. I am curious to see how her tomboy self does with a Duke as a suitor.

What did you think of Kip (Aslyn’s intended)? I wish we’d seen more about his struggle to recover. Maybe we’ll get a book for him later and that’s why we did, ‘t, but honestly that part of the book felt unfinished.

Rowena: I think the series will follow each of Mick’s siblings and Kip is going to be Fancy’s hero.

Holly: I think Kip will be Fancy’s (another of Mick’s sisters) hero, as well.

Rowena: Same. All around, this book just worked for me. From the romance to the characters to Mick’s family life and the background stories. There wasn’t anything that I wasn’t interested in. All in all, this was a solid romance and I can’t wait for Gillie’s book. I’m interested in seeing how a Duke falls in love with a female bar owner. I’m mighty curious about that.

I give this book a 4.25 out of 5, what about you?

Holly: I enjoyed the story. There were some questions left unanswered, but I’m sure they’ll be cleared up in time. I really liked the overall plot, the characters and the romance. I’ll definitely be reading more from this author in the future.

I, too, give it 4.25 out of 5.

Final Grades

Holly: 4.25 out of 5
Rowena: 4.25 out of 5

four-stars


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Review: Whiskey Sharp: Unraveled by Lauren Dane

Posted January 30, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Whiskey Sharp: Unraveled by Lauren DaneReviewer: Holly
Unraveled (Whiskey Sharp, #1) by Lauren Dane
Series: Whiskey Sharp #1
Published by Harlequin Books
Publication Date: January 30th 2018
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
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three-half-stars

The sharpest ache comes from wanting what you think you can't have

Maybe Dolan has lived independent, free-spirited and unattached since leaving home at sixteen. Whiskey Sharp, Seattle's sexy vintage-styled barbershop and whiskey bar, gave her a job and a reason to put down roots. Cutting hair by day, losing herself drumming in a punk rock band by night, she's got it good.

But a longtime crush that turns into a hot, edgy night with brooding and bearded Alexsei Petrov makes it a hell of a lot better.

Maybe's blunt attitude and carnal smile hooked Alexsei from the start. Protecting people is part of his nature and Maybe is meant to be his even if she doesn't know it. Yet. He can't help himself from wanting to protect and care for her.

But Maybe's fiery independent spirit means pushing back when Alexsei goes too far. Still, he's not afraid to do a little pushing of his own to get what he wants her in his life, and his bed, for good. Maybe's more intoxicating than all the liquor on his shelf and he's not afraid to ride the blade's edge to bind her to him."

Maybe Dolan and her sister Rachel bought a house together in Seattle after a tragedy nearly broke Rachel. Maybe picks up a job at Whiskey Sharp, a trendy barbershop/bar. The owner, Alexsei Petrov is sexy as all get out, but since he’s in a relationship he’s off limits. When it turns out Maybe and Rachel bought a place next to his aunt, they’re eventually brought into the family fold. Things are status quo for two years, until Alexsei and his girlfriend break up. Maybe sees her shot to get him between the sheets and goes for it.

Alexsei needed time after his breakup to get his head in the right place, but enough time has passed that he’s willing to jump in with Maybe when she makes a pass. He’s surprised to find he knows so little about her, considering they’ve been working together for years. They have chemistry in spades, but Maybe is skittish when it comes to commitment.

Maybe’s main priority is being with her sister and avoiding her parents. They’ve treated her like crap her whole life and now they blame her for her sister leaving them. They’re pretty abusive and she’d cut them off completely if it weren’t for her sister needing them. She understands what family is, and Alexsei and his are some of the best, but he can be overbearing. After the way her parents controlled her growing up, Maybe can’t deal with any kind of control from her boyfriend.

I liked that Maybe worked hard to overcome her past and get out from under her parent’s thumb. I wish Dane had further explored the reasons for them treating her the way they did. As it was, things were left pretty open. I assume we’ll understand more when we get Rachel’s book, but that part of the book felt unfinished. Despite the issues she had with her parents, Maybe was self-confident and knew her own mind. I liked that she was willing to make the first move with Alexsei and wasn’t afraid to be honest about her feelings.

Alexsei was a great fit for her. Strong and tender at the same time, he was a rock for her and her sister both. Once he claimed them as family, he was willing to stand in front of them, beside them, or behind them as they needed. Though he could be the quintessential alpha-male, he wasn’t afraid to step back and let Maybe handle things herself. They had great chemistry and I loved how they came to mean so much to each other over the course of the novel.

The book ended on something of a cliffhanger. While the romantic elements were mostly wrapped up, a lot of the book was left open. As I said, I’m sure we’ll get more answers in the subsequent books, but this one felt unfinished.

Dane is a fabulous storyteller. I was wrapped up in Maybe and Alexsei from the start. Great chemistry, witty banter and a kickass heroine make this worth reading despite the questions left unanswered. I’m really looking forward to the next book.

3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Throwback Thursday Review: Heart of Steel by Meljean Brook

Posted January 25, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Throwback Thursday Review: Heart of Steel by Meljean BrookReviewer: Holly
Heart of Steel (Iron Seas, #2) by Meljean Brook
Series: The Iron Seas #2
Also in this series: The Iron Duke (Iron Seas, #1), Fire and Frost, Tethered (Novella), The Kraken King Part I, Here There Be Monsters (Iron Seas, #0.5), The Kraken King (Iron Seas, #4)
Published by Berkley
Publication Date: July 3rd 2012
Genres: Steampunk
Pages: 320
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five-stars

 New York Times bestselling author Meljean Brook combines Victorian sensibilities with steam, steel, and adventure on the Iron Seas. 

As the mercenary captain of the Lady Corsair, Yasmeen is only loyal to her ship and her crew. So when a man who once tried to seize her airship returns from the dead, Yasmeen will be damned if she gives him another opportunity to take control. But treasure-hunter Archimedes Fox isn’t interested in the Lady Corsair—he wants her coldhearted captain and the invaluable da Vinci sketch she stole from him.

To reclaim the painting, Archimedes must seduce the woman who once tossed him to a ravenous pack of zombies…and she’s no easy conquest.

When da Vinci’s sketch attracts a dangerous amount of attention, they journey to Horde-occupied Morocco—and straight into their enemy’s hands. But as they fight to save themselves in a city on the brink of rebellion, the greatest peril Yasmeen faces is from the man who seeks to melt her icy heart…

***Every Thursday in 2018 we will be posting throwback reviews of our favorite and not-so-favorite books.

This review was originally posted on December 28, 2011.

Heart of Steel by Meljean Brook is book 2 of steampunk The Iron Seas series.

When adventurer Archimedes Fox tried to take her airship by force, Lady Corsair’s captain, Yasmeen, had no choice but to throw him overboard into zombie infested territory. She did him a kindness, however, and threw him into a canal knowing zombies don’t go near water. She figures there’s a 50/50 chance he’s alive. Two months later when she goes to notify his sister, she finds out the truth.

His sister agrees to allow Yasmeen to sell the da Vinci sketch Archimedes found. She makes some inquiries and word gets out that she has it. Before she has a chance to deal with the one who spoke out of turn, she’s nabbed by none other than Archimedes himself.

Archimedes needs to sell the sketch in order to pay off a very large debt he owes. The sketch is important, but that’s not all he wants. He also wants Yasmeen herself. The kickass captain has intrigued him from the first. He’s determined to have both. When the sketch is stolen, Yasmeen and Archimedes team up to find it. What ensues is a spine-tingling adventure.

Brook is of a rare breed of authors. Each book is better than the last. Her novels are filled with intrigue, adventure and steamy romance. Heart of Steel is the perfect blend of all three. I love the world she’s created with her steampunk series. I have two complaints about this book. 1) it ended. 2) it ended and there aren’t any other books in the series that I haven’t read.

5 out of 5

Iron Seas Series

five-stars


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Review: Judgment Road by Christine Feehan

Posted January 22, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 10 Comments

Review: Judgment Road by Christine FeehanReviewer: Holly
Judgment Road (Torpedo Ink #1) by Christine Feehan
Series: Torpedo Ink #1
Published by Berkley Books
Publication Date: January 23rd 2018
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romantic Suspense, Paranormal Romance
Pages: 304
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three-stars

An outlaw motorcycle club sets up shop next door to Sea Haven in the dangerously sexy new series from #1 New York Times bestselling author Christine Feehan.

A brutal education in a Russian training facility for assassins has taught this group of men one thing: It's a long road to redemption.JUDGMENT ROAD

As the enforcer of the Torpedo Ink motorcycle club, Reaper lives for riding and fighting. He's a stone-cold killer who turns his wrath on those who deserve it. Feelings are a weakness he can't afford--until a gorgeous bartender gets under his skin...

Near Sea Haven, the small town of Caspar has given Anya Rafferty a new lease on life. And she's desperate to hold on to her job at the biker bar, even if the scariest member of the club seems to have it out for her. But Reaper's imposing presence and smoldering looks just ratchet up the heat.

Anya's touch is everything Reaper doesn't want--and it brands him to the bone. But when her secrets catch up to her, Reaper will have to choose between Anya and his club--his heart and his soul.

Trigger warnings: Abuse, Rape, Pedophilia and More. This is a dark book.

Judgment Road is the first book in Christine Feehan’s Torpedo Ink series, a spinoff of the Drake Sisters/Sisters of the Heart series’ set in the Northern California Coastal town of Sea Haven.

This was difficult to read at times. It’s a dark, MC romance with a lot of the bad elements that come with MC’s. I didn’t expect that since Feehan hasn’t gone down that road before, and the two previous series’ set in this world weren’t like that. Had I gone into it with different expectations, I may not have been as surprised by the violence as I was.

Reaper – and all his brothers/sisters in the MC – is seriously messed up. He suffered major trauma as a child and was shaped to be a monster by his handlers. He’s barely kept hold of his humanity and doesn’t trust himself with Anya. Several times he actually physically or mentally abused her while trapped in a nightmare, so he was right to be concerned. I actually liked Reaper and how he was able to maintain on his own for all those years. But he had no business being with Anya. He knew it, but couldn’t walk away. I’d have preferred if he sought actual help for his problems.

The paranormal elements aren’t focused on much here. Each member of the MC has some kind of psychic ability – which is what made them targets as children – but it isn’t really talked about. We see some examples of it, but I’m not sure how much new readers will understand.

I’m struggling to pin down my feelings for this book. There were elements I enjoyed, like the brotherhood of the MC and Anya on her own. But her relationship with Reaper was complicated and pretty messed up. I didn’t end the book feeling warm and fuzzy about them. Anya often recognized his – and the Club’s – behavior as unhealthy and thought she should get out, but then she’d make the conscious decision to stay. Something about her blowing hot and cold really pulled me out of the story. I think I’d have preferred her to either be oblivious to how weak she was being, or to be strong enough to walk away. As it was, she just seemed like a victim. She’s an orphan who spent much of her life on the streets. Despite some trouble with her previous employer, she’s doing her best to stay on the straight and narrow. She desperately needs her job as she’s currently homeless and living in her car. When things start going bad between her and Reaper, the club steps in and refuses to let her leave. Since she’s already alone in the world and struggling just to make it each day, their actions felt like forcible kidnapping rather than the family concern Feehan tried to make it out to be. I could maybe have moved on from that, but there were other things that pushed her over the edge for me. Spoilers below.

View Spoiler »

Judgment Road a dark, gritty romance. It is not for the faint of heart. I can’t decide how I feel about it in the end. I’m not sure if my feelings were tainted by my expectations based on previous books set in the world. I’m giving it a 3 out of 5, but I may change my mind later.

3 out of 5

three-stars


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Joint Review: Complicated by Kristen Ashley

Posted January 10, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 7 Comments

Joint Review: Complicated by Kristen AshleyReviewer: Holly and Rowena
Complicated by Kristen Ashley
Published by Kristen Ashley
Publication Date: November 7th, 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 571
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four-stars

When small town Nebraska sheriff Hixon Drake meets Greta Dare, the connection couldn’t be stronger, but the timing couldn’t be worse.

Dealing with the fallout of a divorce he never wanted and setting up a new home for his kids, Hix becomes that guy, that one he never wanted to be, and puts a stop to things before they can even start. Protecting his kids, and himself, is his only priority.

Greta, on the other hand, has found the place for her and the brother she adores that’s perfect for them—a sleepy little town in Nebraska. She’s learned from life that there are no hopes and dreams. The only thing to look forward to is peace. And that’s what she works hard to build for herself and her brother. Right up until Hix walks into her life.

Hix can’t fight the pull and stay away from Greta for long. And Greta’s finding it hard not to hope for something more with all the promise that is Hix.

But when the first murder that’s happened in over five decades rocks his small, sleepy county, Hix has got to learn to trust again, convince Greta to take a shot with him, and at the same time catch a killer.

In other words, things are definitely…Complicated.

Complicated by Kristen Ashley follows Hixton Drake and Greta Dare as they fall in love amidst a lot of small-town drama, a murder, a jealous ex and lots of other complications that get in the way of them being them. Hixton is dealing with a divorce that he didn’t want and Greta has her own fair share of life worries that keep her busy but they’re drawn to each other over and over again and sometimes, you can’t walk away from that connection. Not when it’s probably best.

Rowena: Alright, so it took me a while to read this book because that page count? Holy cow, KA books are so long but even with all of those pages to get through, I enjoyed this one. I thought it was a sweet romance and I really liked Greta. And Hix. Mostly, Greta though.

What did you think?

Holly: KA can definitely be long winded. This book could have been cut down by at least 100 pages, maybe 200.

Rowena: I’m not sure if it’s because I don’t read very many of KA’s books but I seemed to have enjoyed this one a lot more than most of the readers that I know who have read it. Sure, it was hella long, but I was still invested in everything that was going on and I really enjoyed getting to know Hix, Greta and everyone else. From Lou and her girls, Andy and then Hix’s kids (especially Shaw), I loved everyone…except Hope. I hated her until I didn’t hate her but I never really liked her.

Holly: I didn’t dislike it, but it isn’t KA’s best. I prefer it when KA books have more angst. Wasn’t Shaw great, though? I loved him. He was such an awesome kid. I wouldn’t mind if KA wrote a book for him later.

Rowena: Yeah, I can see what you mean. That’s exactly what Ames said about the book. She wants more angst too. Yes! Shaw was fantastic. You know, he kind of reminded me of your son. Very stand up and just sweet all around. Total good kid and you know that they’re going to grow up to be a great guy. I wouldn’t mind getting a book for Shaw, too. Down the road though. He needs to go and be a Marine and learn how to be a man.

Holly: I do have a pretty great son. 🙂 I agree Shaw needs to grow up first, but some day in the future I’d be interested in his book.

Hope was an idiot. Why she let Hix get away is a total mystery to me.

Rowena: The whole Hope thing, goodness, how stupid was she? It really spoke to the kind of person that Hix was that so many of his kids wanted to live with him and not his mean ass ex-wife. I loved how Greta had a fan club and a support system in her customers and friends. She was really lucky though it wasn’t hard to see why they were so loyal to her. She earned their respect and their loyalty so Hope’s plan to destroy her totally backfired and I loved seeing Hope fall on her ass.

Holly: I loved that the town rallied behind Greta even though they were pulling for Hix and Hope in the beginning. Every time Lou announced one of them switched to Greta’s side I snickered. I do like that Hope was quasi-redeemed in the end. Ashley is good at that.

I really liked Greta. She was great all the way around. Sure of herself, caring and compassionate, willing and able to stick up for herself. I loved how she took care of her brother and her friends.

Rowena: I thought Greta was great too. I loved how she took care of everyone, including Hix. I loved that she was sure in the person that she was and didn’t need Hix to be around all the time. She was understanding of his situation and wasn’t afraid to get her some when she could without needing an engagement ring. She was a strong, independent woman and I really liked her.

Holly: Her teasing Hix and making him food was so cute. Her independence was one of her best qualities. She didn’t need to be with Hix all the time. She was happy to do her own thing.

What did you think of her ex?

Rowena: Greta’s ex was meh to me. I felt more for her Mom than him. I felt a lot of rage where her Mom was concerned but for Keith? Meh.

Holly: The bits with Greta’s ex could have been cut completely. I don’t even know why that scene was included. OMG, don’t get me started on her mom, though. That crazy bitch needed to get smacked upside the head. By Greta.

Rowena: I really enjoyed getting to know Andy and I really loved how complex Greta’s feelings were for Andy, who he could and should have been but still loving who he is now. Greta was damn near perfect, don’t you think?

Holly: I thought Greta’s feelings about her brother and his situation were so authentic. Her joy in his personality, along with her sadness over what he could have been. My heart broke for them both. You’re right, she was damn near perfect, wasn’t she? Well, except what a terrible loser she was when she and Hix wrestled. haha

Hix was…not the best KA hero. Usually her heroes are great, but he didn’t really stand out. I kind of felt like it wasn’t necessarily Greta for him, but any woman would have done. He needed someone to care for. She just happened to be the one.

Rowena: I enjoyed Hix. I enjoyed that he tried to do the right thing for his loved ones and while he’s not my favorite KA hero, he’s not my least favorite either. I liked the way that he took care of everyone. He was sexy as hell, too. Yum.

Overall, this book was great fun for me. I liked that this story fit the title so well. I liked seeing Greta and Hix fall in love (and I totally believed that Hix was drawn and then fell in love with Greta). I liked seeing Hix’s kids develop a relationship with Greta and I liked seeing the two of them come into their own…together. They fit together well and their romance was sweet and I dug the whole thing. I give it a 4 out of 5. You?

Holly: I loved the town, I loved Greta and her brother, I liked Hix and the romance between them. Overall this was a good read. Not KA’s best, but it was entertaining. I’m giving it a 3.5 out of 5

Final Ratings

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

four-stars


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