Tag: Holly’s Reviews

Throwback Thursday Review/Rant: Trying to Score by Toni Aleo

Posted June 28, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 4 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review/Rant: Trying to Score by Toni AleoReviewer: Holly
Trying to Score by Toni Aleo
Series: Assassins #2
Published by Loveswept
Publication Date: April 23, 2013
Point-of-View: Third Person
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 576
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
one-star

In a captivating novel of second chances and healing hearts, the newest member of the Nashville Assassins pulls a power play to make things right with the one that got away.  Fallon Parker’s dream has always been to turn her family’s wine company into a runaway success and eventually start a cellar of her own. Since graduating from college, she has worked relentlessly to make that dream a reality, especially after taking a chance on love—and losing. By the time Fallon becomes an official sponsor of the Nashville Assassins, she feels like all her hard work is finally paying off. And then the man who broke her heart skates back into her life.   On the ice, Lucas Brooks is the NHL’s leading scorer—at least when he’s not in the box. Off the ice, he’s a mess, with all his anger and misery bottled up inside. He threw away the most important person in his life and has regretted it ever since. But when Lucas returns to Nashville in a trade, he’s determined to convince Fallon that he’s a changed man. The attraction is still there. The tension is electrifying. But the odds are stacked against them—especially after Lucas finds out that Fallon has been keeping a devastating secret.  Praise for Toni Aleo’s Nashville Assassins romances  “Aleo melts the ice and hits it into the net with her Assassins series.”—Award-winning author Jami Davenport   “Taking Shots is really the whole package. You get romance, humor, steamy sex, drama, and then it all wraps up with a great conclusion. I am amazed that this is Toni’s first book. She has come out in a huge way. I can’t wait to read more from her. Don’t hesitate for a moment to grab this book.”—Guilty Pleasures Book Reviews   “A little steamy, a little heartbreaking, and a whole lot of fanning yourself are in order this time around, readers. Are your cheeks feeling a little pink yet? Get used to the feeling.”—Dreaming in the Pages, on Trying to Score   “Empty Net is an honest, heartwarming, endearing story. . . . Toni Aleo doesn’t just write a story. She gives you the ability to experience the journey of her characters right along with them. Her stories are enveloped with passion, emotion, humor, love; and let me tell you, that girl knows how to write a sex scene that just makes you sweat!”—Guilty Pleasures Book Review   “Sexy and riveting . . . the perfect combination of love and lust.”—USA Today bestselling author Heidi McLaughlin, on Blue Lines

Every Thursday in 2018, we’ll be posting throwback reviews of our favorite and not-so-favorite books.

This review/rant was originally posted on November 29, 2011.

Warning: This review contains spoilers!! and bad words!!!

I downloaded this because the cover is hot and it features hockey players. Sadly it was a disappointing read. Had I realized it was a secret baby plot, I probably wouldn’t have requested it. I hate secret baby plots unless the heroine has a very good reason for keeping the kid a secret. Like, she tried to tell him but couldn’t find him. Or the kid is a week old and she lost touch, but tries to find him. When the kid is 6 and she’s refusing to tell daddy because she’s all wrapped up in how she feels? That doesn’t work for me.

Sadly, that was the case here. Fallon met Lucas when she was in college. They spent two blissful years together, until the day she walked in on him in bed with her roommate. Heartbroken, she leaves college and heads home. The problem? She’s pregnant. And she knows it. She decides she isn’t going to tell Lucas because he’s a cheating bastard and he’d probably just leave his kid like he left her.

Lucas is heartbroken when he realizes he cheated on Fallon. He was a mess, constantly drinking and using prescription drugs. After she left he got his life together, but it took some time. When he sees her 7 years later, he knows it’s his chance to get her back. Except he discovers Fallon’s secret – she’s been hiding his kid from him.

When Lucas confronts Fallon, she shows zero remorse for keeping his kid from him. She doesn’t apologize or offer to make amends. Instead she throws out wild accusations about the type of father she knows he’s going to be – the type who leaves and doesn’t support his kid – refuses to take child support and in general acts like a raging bitch.

To make matters worse, Lucas was a total doormat. At some point you have to say to yourself “this chick is a crazy bitch and I’m wasting my time”. He should have reached that point around page 15. He never did. Not in 350 pages.

Fallon was a bitch. In a complete role reversal, the hero was the doormat and the heroine was an Alpha-Bitch. She was wishy-washy in her feelings and actions, except her bitterness and anger. Those stayed consistent throughout the book. Right up until the very last page as a matter of fact. Why was Lucas so determined to be with her? It made no sense to me. She kept his kid from him, treated him like crap and in general needed to take a long walk off a short pier. I mean, I get her not wanting to be wit him. He cheated on her. But to keep his kid from him and say he’d be a shitty father because he cheated on her? That doesn’t work for me. Especially since her kid was the one who was suffering because of her hurt feelings.

Added to that, the writing was filled with inconsistent dialogue and characterizations. One minute she was broke, the next she was refusing help because she didn’t need help from no one or nothing. Today she’s sorry she’s hurting her son and wants him to know his dad, yesterday she wanted nothing more than to keep them apart to protect her heart.The dialogue was strange, too. As the novel wore on, the speech went from refined southern bell to crazy southern redneck. “you ain’t gonna” and etc. It took me out of the story.

As if that weren’t enough, there was a weird sub-plot with her sister. The sister seemed pretty kickass until she hooked up with a guy who told her she was fat and hurt her in the bedroom. She refused to tell Fallon or Lucas who it was. Unfortunately Lucas figured it out. She begged him not to tell Fallon until she could do it herself – she had every intention of staying with the abusive guy, which makes absolutely no sense at all – and of course she doesn’t, so the whole thing was used to bring about the final big confrontation between Lucas and Fallon. I have no idea where that came from or why we had to read about it. It was silly and made no sense.

Normally I can overlook small typos or little idiosyncrasies in the plot. But when the story isn’t holding my attention I tend to focus on all the negative. That’s what happened here. The story was way too long and bogged down with constant repetition. At around 2 in the morning, I realized I still had something like 200 pages to go, so I opened the contents and skipped from chapter 16 to 28. I didn’t skim at all. I just jumped from chapter 16 to 28. I felt like I missed nothing. It was like I hadn’t even skipped a page. That doesn’t say good things about the story.

I did like the sister enough (weird abusive guy thing aside) to start her book. Sadly a few chapters in it already seems to be more of the same (minus the secret baby plot). I’m going to stick with it a big longer, but I’m wary now.

I’m totally bummed. I had such high hopes.

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Assassins

one-star


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Throwback Thursday Review: Seduction of a Highland Lass by Maya Banks

Posted June 21, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Throwback Thursday Review: Seduction of a Highland Lass by Maya BanksReviewer: Holly
Seduction of a Highland Lass by Maya Banks
Series: McCabe Trilogy #2
Also in this series: In Bed with a Highlander, In Bed with a Highlander, Never Love a Highlander
Published by Ballantine
Publication Date: September 27, 2011
Point-of-View: Third Person
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 323
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
four-stars


Maya Banks, the New York Times bestselling author of romance and romantic suspense has captivated readers with her steamy Scottish historical novels, perfect for fans of Julie Garwood. In Seduction of a Highland Lass, an indomitable Highland warrior is caught between loyalty and forbidden love.
 Fiercely loyal to his elder brother, Alaric McCabe leads his clan in the fight for their birthright. Now he is prepared to wed for duty, as well. But on his way to claim the hand of Rionna McDonald, daughter of a neighboring chieftain, he is ambushed and left for dead. Miraculously, his life is saved by the soft touch of a Highland angel, a courageous beauty who will put to the test his fealty to his clan, his honor, and his deepest desires.

An outcast from her own clan, Keeley McDonald was betrayed by those she loved and trusted. When the wounded warrior falls from his horse, she is drawn to his strong, lean body. The wicked glint in his green eyes ignites a passion that will follow them back to Alaric’s keep, where their forbidden love draws them deeper into the pleasures of the flesh. But as conspiracy and danger circle closer, Alaric must make an impossible choice: Will he betray his blood ties for the woman he loves?

Every Thursday in 2018, we’ll be posting throwback reviews of our favorite and not-so-favorite books.

This review was originally posted on November 29, 2011.

Where the first book in the series had more external conflict, this one has a lot more internal conflict.

Alaric MacCabeis on his way to a neighboring clan to formally offer marriage to the Laird’s daughter, Rionna MacDonald, to secure an alliance, when he’s attacked. All of his men are killed and he’s gravely wounded. He manages to make it to Keeley MacDonald’s cabin on the outskirts of the clan. She’s a skilled healer and is able to save his life. When his bothers, Ewan and Caelen, show up, they decide to keep Keeley since they need a healer in their clan. Not only is Keeley charged with caring for Alaric, but Ewan wants her to attend the birth of his first child.

Keeley was cast out of her clan as a young girl after the Laird made unwanted advances and his wife cried her a whore. She’s been living alone ever since. The idea of being accepted as a healer in a new clan is appealing, but she’s not happy to have been snatched from her home with no choice. The deciding factor in her not fighting her situation is Alaric. They formed a deep bond while Keeley was caring for him.

The problem is Alaric promised to marry Rionna MacDonald. The MacDonald land lies between the McCabe keep and the new land Ewan McCabe (the laird) inherited when he married his new wife. Without the alliance the clan will be divided, not to mention the other alliances they’re working on might be jeopardized. Alaric knows his duty. As much as he wants Keeley, he knows he can’t have her. Not permanently.

Although Duncan Cameron, the villain from the first book, is still a threat in this novel, but the focus is on the internal conflict of Alaric and Keeley being in love but unable to marry. The story could have become bogged down with angst, but Banks managed a good balance between sexy-times, humor and conflict.

Keeley was a practical woman. Her clan threw her out, but she isn’t so hung up on it she’s willing to cut off her nose to spite her face. When Ewan offers her a place with the McCabe clan, she takes it. Her practicality and levelheadedness worked well with the conflict, too. Yes, she wanted Alaric, but she understood what was at stake and what would happen if they risked everything. Alaric also knew his duty, but my heart broke for him. He knew right away that he wanted Keeley and no other, but he also knew he didn’t have a choice.

I think too often in historical novels the main characters throw convention and duty out the window to the detriment of the story. Yes, it happened, but it was rare. I think for a couple to focus more on duty than on love brought a touch of realism.

The story isn’t perfect. There were times when it was bogged down with useless info. The dialogue ran toward cheesy now and again. I also found myself struggling to connect to Keeley in the beginning. Thankfully that didn’t last long. 

Overall this was a satisfying read. I enjoyed the characters and the conflict. Banks has penned a strong second novel for this series.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

McCabe Trilogy

four-stars


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Joint Review: Burn for You by J.T. Geissinger

Posted June 18, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 5 Comments

Joint Review: Burn for You by J.T. GeissingerReviewer: Holly & Rowena
Burn for You (Slow Burn, #1)Series: Slow Burn #1
Published by Montlake Romance
Publication Date: October 17, 2017
Point-of-View: First Person
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 348
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
four-stars

The marriage is fake. But for a sassy chef and an arrogant billionaire, the sparks are real…

Jackson “The Beast” Boudreaux is rich, gorgeous, and unbelievably rude to the staff at Chef Bianca Hardwick’s New Orleans restaurant. Bianca would sooner douse herself in hot sauce than cook for Jackson again, but when he asks her to cater his fund-raiser, Bianca can’t refuse, knowing the cash will help pay her mother’s medical bills. Then Jackson makes another outrageous request: Marry me. The unconventional offer includes an enormous sum—money Bianca desperately needs, even if it does come with a contract—and a stunning ring.

The heir to a family bourbon dynasty, Jackson knows the rumors swirling around him. The truth is even darker. Still, he needs a wife to secure his inheritance, and free-spirited, sassy Bianca would play the part beautifully. Soon, though, their simple business deal evolves into an emotional intimacy he’s built walls to avoid.

As the passion heats up between them, Bianca and Jackson struggle to define which feelings are real and which are for show. Is falling for your fake fiancé the best happy ending…or a recipe for disaster?

Burn for You is a modern take on Beauty and the Beast.

Jackson and Bianca have a very contentious relationship. They get off to a bad start when he shows up at her restaurant and demands a table. Bianca’s latest menu is an ode to his family’s bourbon, but she isn’t about to let him push her around. When he offers her the chance to cater an very exclusive charity event, she knows she can’t refuse. Not only will the publicity give her restaurant the boost it needs, but she desperately needs the money for her sick mother. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the crazy man shows up again and demands she marry him. Turns out he needs a wife by his 33rd birthday -which is just around the corner- or he’ll lose his inheritance. If she wasn’t desperate for money to help her sick mother she’d never consider it…as it is, how bad would be being married to the Beast?

Holly: I was browsing Amazon a couple weeks ago and discovered this book. I love Beauty and the Beast and a modern day retelling appealed to me. I really loved it. Jax and Bianca were great together. Are you glad I forced …ehem…recommended you read it?

Rowena: I listened to the audiobook too and it didn’t work for me. The narrator for Bianca sounded like my grandma and I kept picturing Gretchen from Suits because that’s who she reminded me of so every time she and Jackson would get down and dirty, I kept picturing my favorite of Louis’ administrative assistants with Jackson…and she’s more my Grandma than my heroine of a romance novel. I love the hell out of her but I don’t want to know or read about her sex life. Haha. But dude, that narrator sounds just like Gretchen.

Holly: Conversely, I really enjoyed the narrator. I don’t watch Suits, so I can’t say if she sounded like anyone from that show, but I thought she did a great job with the voices. I don’t ever listen to the entire book. I switch back and forth between reading and listening. The narrator, Diana Luke, really made the book for me. To be honest, I don’t know if I would have enjoyed the book quite so much had I read it on my own. I heard her voice in my head while I was reading and it really worked.

Rowena: Anyway on with the book, after I stopped listening to the book and started reading it on my own, I was able to enjoy the book a lot more. The chemistry between Bianca and Jackson was off the charts and from the beginning I felt it. I knew that we were going to get a good story out of them and we did.

I’m really glad that I listened to you and read this book. It was good stuff.

Holly: Of course it was good stuff. I always give good recommendations. 😉

Rowena: I really liked Bianca’s character and how strong she was, how real she was. When her drama happens, I connected with her because I’ve been there and I thought Geissinger captured her emotions and her grief really well.

My heart broke getting to know Jackson and seeing the man that he grew up to be despite the childhood that he had?? Oh man, it hit me right in the feels and I was rooting like heck for him throughout the entire story.

Holly: Jackson was grumpy and growly, but underneath he was just a giant marshmallow. I loved that about him. I loved how he took care of his people and raised money for causes that were important to him.

Bianca didn’t take any crap from him, and in fact gave back better than she got. I loved her wit and how quick she was to defend herself and those who worked for her. She wasn’t overbearing. They both got on each other’s nerves, but I loved how they also saw below the surface and wanted to help the other. She stuck up for him when he needed it, and he returned the favor. I melted over them both.

Rowena: There were times when I thought both Bianca and Jackson were being super extra about things, like how Bianca would fly off the handle at the smallest thing and how Jackson would growl at Bianca at every turn but in the end, I understood why they were the way that they were with each other and let that stuff go.

Holly: You’re right, they were both extra about things. Still, I loved how they sort of fell into a friendship without even realizing it. So cute.

His family made me angry and I wasn’t satisfied with the way it was dealt with. Jackson felt like shit his entire life because of the way his parents treated him, but his dad waves it all off? Grr. I got over it, however, because it’s a Fairytale.

Rowena: Jackson’s family dynamic left much to be desired and I agree that when everything comes out in the open, his father waved things off and I didn’t think that Jackson got the closure he deserved on that stuff but I’m glad that he finally had the support system that he should have had all along. I also really liked that Bianca was the one to make that happen for him.

Holly: Oh yes, I loved how quick Bianca was to defend him and how she took up for him with his family. That was great.

I really loved this book. There were things that bothered me, and the way Bianca and Jackson acted at the end had me frustrated, but overall it was a really good read. I’d definitely recommend it (and have been, to everyone. lol). I’m really looking forward to reading Geissinger’s backlist.

Rowena: This was the first book that I’ve ever read by Geissinger but it won’t be my last. I really enjoyed this slow-burn romance and am pretty anxious to start the next in the series, even though there isn’t a real link between both books.

Holly: Overall this was a very satisfying read. I was sad to see it end. 4.25 out of 5

Rowena: I agree that this was a very satisfying read. I would definitely recommend.
I give this one a 4 out of 5.

Final Grades

Holly: 4.25 out of 5
Rowena: 4 out of 5

Slow Burn

four-stars


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Review: Chosen by K.F. Breene

Posted June 11, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Chosen by K.F. BreeneReviewer: Holly
Chosen (The Warrior Chronicles, #1) by K.F. Breene
Series: The Warrior Chronicles #1
Published by Self-Published
Publication Date: July 15, 2014
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 412
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Goodreads
three-half-stars

It is said that when war threatens the world, one individual will be selected by prophecy to lead the Shadow Warriors out of the Land of Mist and reclaim the freedom which has been stolen.

Shanti has grown up under the constant threat of war. Since she helped her people defeat a raiding party by using a special power, she's been a hunted woman. Carrying rare abilities and an uncanny fighting aptitude, Shanti is the only hope of salvation for her people. The problem is, she doesn't believe in her own divinity, and when she flounders, she nearly fails in the duty hanging so heavy on her shoulders.

It seems like any other day when Sanders and his band of misfit boys find a foreign woman clinging to life in the wastelands. Oblivious to the weapon they now have in their possession, they are content to harbor the mysterious woman until she is well enough to continue her journey. But when the war spreads its arms and lands on her borrowed doorstep, Shanti has no choice but to reveal her secrets, plunging her saviors into danger.

If they band with her, they will face certain death. But to trade her to Xandre, the warlord desperate to add her to his war machine, would be to give up their entire way of life.

I read and enjoyed the Fire and Ice/Magical Mayhem series by K.F. Breene. When I saw this series on KU I figured I’d give it a try. It’s darker than the previous books I’ve read by the author, but I enjoyed the world and the main characters.

Shanti is a badass warrior. Her people have all been murdered and she’s trying to get to her extended family to fulfill the prophesy that will reunite her people and bring peace to the land. When she’s found half-dead and brought to a new land, she’ll have to fight to get her strength back up and try to earn the trust of the Captain so he doesn’t turn her over to her enemies.

I really enjoyed Shanti and her interactions with her saviors. The story did drag on quite a bit in the middle, but the anticipation of what was to come kept me reading. There’s potential for a romance that really worked, and I’m curious to see what happens with Shanti’s quest in the future.

3.5 out of 5

Warrior Chronicles

three-half-stars


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Review: The Hookup by Erin McCarthy

Posted June 6, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: The Hookup by Erin McCarthyReviewer: Holly
The Hookup (The Jordan Brothers, #1) by Erin McCarthy
Series: The Jordan Brothers #1
Also in this series: The Hookup (The Jordan Brothers #1)
Published by Loveswept
Publication Date: May 8, 2018
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Genres: Contemporary Romance, New Adult
Pages: 218
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
three-half-stars

Is there an equation for the perfect hookup? Turns out it’s a lot more complicated than one plus one. . . .


Sophie: Numbers are my comfort zone, which explains why my sex life is a big fat zero. Then again, if I’m smart enough to earn a PhD, why can’t I calculate a way to get a guy into bed, just to see what all the fuss is about? With my prima donna sister, Bella, getting married in Maine, I figure her wedding is the perfect opportunity for my little experiment. And Cain Jordan seems hot enough—he’s certainly drunk enough—to show me what I’ve been missing. Judging by the body of evidence, it’s a lot. . . .


Cain:
Being stuck in the same town as my lying SOB twin brother, Christian—who may or may not be the father of the son I’m not allowed to see—is a hell of a reason to drink myself silly after the lobster boat docks each day. Any port in a storm. . . . But Sophie’s different. She doesn’t play around. And she’s becoming a habit I don’t want to break. Because the smartest woman I’ve ever met is also the sexiest—and the only one who makes me want to change.

Don’t miss Bella and Christian’s story in The Breakup!

Sophie is on a break from school – where she’s working on her masters – for her sister’s wedding. She’s still a virgin, mostly because she’s been so focused on school she hasn’t had time for a relationship. She figures being in town for a week is the perfect time to take care of that little problem. Cain is drowning his pain and sorrow in alcohol after his twin brother betrayed him in the worst way. Booze and a new woman every night allow him to escape for at least a little while. He’s actually interested in Sophie’s sister at first, until Sophie’s unabashed honesty and blunt manners suck him in. He isn’t looking for any kind of entanglement, but he can’t just have her once. He keeps coming back for more. With Sophie leaving to go back to school soon, and Cain’s self-destructive bent, there’s no future for them. But neither of them can stay away….

I was concerned about the “I need to lose my virginity” angle at first, but it’s a small part of the story, rather than the major conflict. Sophie is so practical about it (and everything else), it wasn’t as big a deal as I expected it to be.

I think the romance moved a little fast for me. I know it ended in a HFN, but they were talking about getting married some day. Considering the entirety of their relationship was like 5 days, I don’t know if I buy they’ll go the distance.

View Spoiler »

I liked both Cain and Sophie. I liked how blunt and honest Sophie was. I loved her, period. She was fabulous from beginning to end. I think Cain had good reason to be angry (though I’m still salty we didn’t get to hear the brother’s explanation for why he did what he did). I feel like his personal growth and his decision at the end worked. He recognized he had a problem and took steps to fix it. I really liked them together, too. But to say 5 days of sleeping together, plus 1 date and then a drunken brawl makes for wuv, twu wuv? Not so much.

If I don’t think about it too much or focus on the short time frame, I loved this. Once I start thinking about it I struggle.

3.25 out of 5

three-half-stars


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