Tag: HQN

Throwback Thursday Review: Good Girls Don’t by Victoria Dahl

Posted August 30, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 4 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: Good Girls Don’t by Victoria DahlReviewer: Holly
Good Girls Don't (Donovan Brothers Brewery, #1) by Victoria Dahl
Series: Donovan Brothers Brewery, #1

Publication Date: August 30, 2011
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
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three-half-stars

Too much of a good thing

With her long ponytail and sparkling green eyes, Tessa Donovan looks more like the girl next door than a businesswoman; or a heart-breaker. Which may explain why Detective Luke Asher barely notices her when he arrives to investigate a break in at her family's brewery. He's got his own problems; starting with the fact that his partner, Simone, is pregnant and everyone thinks he's the father.

Tessa has her hands full, too. Her brother's playboy ways may be threatening the business, and the tension could tear her tight knit family apart. In fact, the only thing that could unite the Donovan boys is seeing a man come after their baby sister. Especially a man like Luke Asher. But Tessa sees past the rumors to the man beneath. He's not who people think he is and neither is she.

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

This review was originally posted on August 30, 2011.

I didn’t think I was going to like this book. The first half was really hard for me to take. The lying and scheming of the heroine, plus the strange plot, really annoyed me. I was just about to give up when I got really intrigued. Plus, my husband helped calm me down (strange, I know), and pointed out that I was taking it a bit too seriously.

Tessa wants to hold her family together. When her brother Jamie sleeps with the daughter of a client they’re trying to land, she begs him not to tell their oldest brother Eric until she can figure out what to do. She’s worried that Eric will be furious with Jamie and not allow him to make any decisions in the business. In the meantime, their brewery is broken into and Detective Luke Asher is investigating.

Luke and Tessa are instantly attracted to each other. She makes the first move and they realize they have chemistry. They also have a lot in common and really enjoy each others company. Unfortunately, Tessa’s brothers don’t like that she’s dating and the stress of keeping so much from them is making her a little (a lot) crazy.

My issues begin and end with Tessa. Her lying and scheming was immature and silly. She didn’t act like a 27 year old woman. She acted like a 12 year old girl. This lying and scheming didn’t stop at her brothers. She also schemes and plays in other areas of her life. Luke accuses her of being a control freak and I would agree with that. I’d also say she needed to pull up her big girl panties and realize life doesn’t revolve around her.

In the end, I felt this was an extremely well done tale of Tessa growing up. I would almost call it a coming-of-age novel, except she’s 27. It worked, despite Tessa’s age. The family dynamics were interesting and the romance was well done, though I did struggle with how old these two were. The romance read more like that of a younger couple.

In any case, despite my hesitancy and the frustrations I had early on, I’m glad I read this. It was an emotional tale that pulled me in.

Grade: 3.75 out of 5

Donovan Brothers Brewery

three-half-stars


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Guest Review: How to Keep a Secret by Sarah Morgan

Posted July 9, 2018 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: How to Keep a Secret by Sarah MorganReviewer: Tracy
How to Keep a Secret by Sarah Morgan
Publisher: HQN
Publication Date: July 10, 2018
Format: eARC
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Women's Fiction
Pages: 384
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Goodreads
four-stars

When three generations of women are brought together by crisis, they learn over the course of one hot summer the power of family to support, nourish and surpriseLauren has the perfect life...if she ignores the fact it's a fragile house of cards, and that her daughter Mack has just had a teenage personality transplant.Jenna is desperate to start a family with her husband, but it's... Just. Not. Happening. Her heart is breaking, but she's determined to keep her trademark smile on her face.Nancy knows she hasn't been the best mother, but how can she ever tell Lauren and Jenna the reason why?Then life changes in an instant, and Lauren, Mack, Jenna and Nancy are thrown together for a summer on Martha's Vineyard. Somehow, these very different women must relearn how to be a family. And while unraveling their secrets might be their biggest challege, the rewards could be infinite...Heartwarming and fresh, Sarah Morgan's brilliant new novel is a witty and deeply uplifting look at the power of a family of women.

In this story we have two sisters, Lauren and Jenna, who are incredibly close.  Lauren is married and has a 16-year-old daughter by the name of Mack.  They are wealthy and live in London.  Jenna is a school teacher, is married, and lives in Martha’s Vineyard where she and her sister grew up.  She longs to be a mother but even as much as her and her husband have tried, they’ve not gotten pregnant.  Neither girl was ever close with their mother, Nancy, but always had a great time with their now deceased father.

Tragedy strikes Lauren and her husband Ed dies.  Due to unforeseen and shocking circumstances Lauren and Mack end up moving back to Martha’s Vineyard to live with Nancy.  Lauren is devastated by everything going on in her life – especially the fact that Mack has discovered that the man she thought was her dad…wasn’t.  The man who actually is her father is still living in Martha’s Vineyard and wants to be part of Mack’s life.  Lauren’s not sure how to handle this as Scott, the dad, was never one for sticking to one place very long.  Lauren doesn’t want Mack to get attached to Scott and then have him leave.

Lauren, despite her grief, finds that she’s still incredibly attracted to Scott. She was so in love with him back when she was 18 years old.  When she got pregnant she understood the reasons he couldn’t step up and that’s why she married Ed.  Ed had his own emotional roller coaster to deal with and that’s what brought them together.  They weren’t actually in love but they definitely loved each other.

With Lauren back on the island and living with her mother there are a lot of information that get brought out in the open.  Secrets every character kept get outed and the characters in the book have to learn how to live with the new normal.

While this book was definitely stronger in the Women’s Fiction arena, it did have a small romance in it as well.  Even if it hadn’t would have liked this book.  Morgan brought to life some interesting characters that I couldn’t get enough of.  I felt their pain, loneliness, grief, happiness – you name it, I felt it.  I got so into the lives of these women and what they were individually going through.  I loved that they were there for each other and worked through their many issues.

I can’t tell you too much about what goes on the book because that’s part of the beauty of it, watching it all unfold page by page. What I can tell you is that I definitely recommend this book as I thought it was pretty darned great.

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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Review: The Darkest Warrior by Gena Showalter

Posted July 2, 2018 by Casee in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: The Darkest Warrior by Gena ShowalterReviewer: Casee
The Darkest Warrior (Lords of the Underworld, #14) by Gena Showalter
Series: Lords of the Underworld #14
Also in this series: The Darkest Night (Lords of the Underworld #1), The Darkest Kiss (Lords of the Underworld #2), The Darkest Pleasure (Lords of the Underworld #3), The Darkest Whisper (Lords of the Underworld #4), The Darkest Passion (Lords of the Underworld #5), The Darkest Lie (Lords of the Underworld #6), The Darkest Torment (Lords of the Underworld, #12), The Darkest Promise (Lords of the Underworld, #13)
Publisher: HQN
Publication Date: June 26, 2018
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 480
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Goodreads
four-half-stars

A searing Lords of the Underworld tale by New York Times bestselling author Gena Showalter, featuring a beastly prince and the wife he will wage war to keep.

He is ice...

Puck the Undefeated, host of the demon of Indifference, cannot experience emotion without punishment, so he allows himself to feel nothing. Until her. According to ancient prophecy, she is the key to avenging his past, saving his realm, and ruling as king. All he must do? Steal her from the man she loves—and marry her.

She is fire...

Gillian Shaw has suffered many tragedies in her too-short life, but nothing could have prepared the fragile human for her transition into immortality. To survive, she must wed a horned monster who both intrigues and frightens her...and become the warrior queen she was born to be.

Together they burn.

As a rising sense of possession and obsession overtake Puck, so does insatiable lust. The more he learns about his clever, resourceful wife, the more he craves her. And the more time Gillian spends with her protective husband, the more she aches for him. But the prophecy also predicts an unhappily ever after. Can Puck defeat fate itself to keep the woman who brought his deadened heart back to life? Or will they succumb to destiny, losing each other…and everything they’ve been fighting for?

I adored this book. Adored it. Call me clueless (which I usually am), but I had no idea about the furor due to the fact that Gillian and William of the Dark didn’t end up together. Seriously? I’m going to address that, but I have to say one thing first. Get the fuck over it. I’ve read your stuff on GoodReads and you are so childish in your tantrums. It was never made clear that Gillian and William were going to end up together. He calls her Gilly Gumdrop for the love of God. Would you want your lover/mate/husband you call you such a childish name? Not to mention that she never, ever had romantic feels for the guy. Ever. Read back and look. Not once. He was her hero and her savior. That’s it. I wouldn’t have read this book if it was Gillian and William’s book. There is no way. I was seriously looking forward to it because it wasn’t Gillian and William. When I read the excerpt in the back of The Darkest Promise, I was thrilled. So for all you haters out there, pull up your big girl panties and pick up this book from where you threw it across the room. Dust it off and read it. You’ll love it. That’s a fact.

The biggest hurtle in this book, to me, was Gillian’s age. She is just turning eighteen. A traumatized eighteen at that. The girl has been seriously abused at the hands of her stepfather and stepbrothers. When she worked up the courage to tell her mom, she was told that she must have “misunderstood” the situation. Can you imagine? shudder Honestly, how the hell is an eighteen year old girl going to mate a centuries old immortal, be able to have sex and be this goddess that the blurb explains? I was like “say what?”. Must be some magic going on here. Well yes, magic was involved and it was amazing.

I’m going to try to make my summary short and sweet which may not be possible because this book had a lot going on. Since their royal births, Puck and his brother Sin have been working against a prophecy which said that one of them would find their ladylove then kill the other. Since they were children, both vowed that they would never fall in love and they would only be loyal to each other. That changed when Sin betrayed Puck and let him be infected by the demon of Indifference. It’s only after hundreds of years when Puck has a rare moment of clarity that he goes to the Oracles on Amaranthia where he learns how he can defeat Sin. Sin, who murdered their father, became king, then went psycho on the Connacht people. It was the Oracles that told him about Gillian. Mate her, they said. Get William the Dark to Amaranthia, they said. He will dethrone Sin, they said. All he has to do at the end is use these special magical scissors to break his bond with Gillian. That’s fine with him because he doesn’t know this Gillian. Then he meets her and instantly falls for her.

When Puck first lays eyes on Gillian, she’s dying. See, Keely the Red Queen gives Gillian a gift on her eighteen birthday. A potion which gives the gift of immortality. Unfortunately it’s killing her and only mating an immortal can save her. It’s a good thing Puck is there to save the day. And save the day he does. Gillian is instantly drawn to Puck and she doesn’t know why. She’s usually afraid of men and Puck doesn’t even look like he’s entirely a man. When he offers to mate with her for his own reasons, she instantly realizes that she’s not ready to die. She wants to be a champion. She wants to help victims like herself. She wants to help people come out strong but to do that she has to live. So she does.

There are so many great things about this book. This one of of my favorite gems from Puck when he realizes he doesn’t have to “woo” Gillian anymore:

Our relationship isn’t a democracy, but a Puckocracy. I saved your life, lass. From now on, I speak and you listen. I command, and you obey. Understand?

Of course that didn’t go over well with Gillian, but you get the picture.

One of the best parts of this book was the change in Gillian. Her growth was amazing. I loved it and you will too. If you’re still too bent out of shape to give this book a try, you’re not worthy of Gena. She wrote a great book with two amazing characters. As I was reading this book, I started liking William less and less. Then he slowly started pulling his head out of his ass and I started liking him more. I can’t wait until he gets his. It’s going to be awesome. Gillian was never his equal. Think on that.

Puck + Gillian = Forever.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Lords of the Underworld

four-half-stars


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Throwback Thursday Review: Unclaimed by Courtney Milan

Posted March 22, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: Unclaimed by Courtney MilanReviewer: Holly
Unclaimed (Turner, #2) by Courtney Milan
Series: Turner #2

Publication Date: September 20th 2011
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 422
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four-stars


Her only hope for survival...

Handsome, wealthy and respected, Sir Mark Turner is the most sought-after bachelor in all of London and he's known far and wide for his irreproachable character. But behind his virtuous reputation lies a passionate nature he keeps carefully in check...until he meets the beautiful Jessica Farleigh, the woman he's waited for all his life.


Is to ruin the man she loves...

But Jessica is a courtesan, not the genteel lady Sir Mark believes. Desperate to be free of a life she despises, she seizes her chance when Mark's enemies make her an offer she can't refuse--seduce Mark and tarnish his good name, and a princely sum will be hers. Yet as she comes to know the man she's sworn to destroy, Jessica will be forced to choose between the future she needs and the love she knows is impossible.

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

This review was originally published on September 28, 2011.

I considered not finishing this book when, more than halfway through, the heroine was still being dishonest about her motives and intentions with the hero. While I’m glad I finished it, I find her actions – both before he learned of her deceit and after – tarnished the story.

Jessica is a courtesan that can’t stand to be touched by men. She needs money to start over somewhere else and the only way she can get it is by ruining the most popular man in England. Mark Turner is supposed to be chaste, but Jessica knows all men have a price. She just has to find his. If she can, she’ll receive enough money from her former protector to start a quiet life elsewhere.

Mark needs a break from the pressure of London and the hordes of adoring fans, so he retires to the country. Which is where he meets the widow Jessica Farleigh. Mark isn’t just chaste – he’s trying to live a chaste lifestyle. That means doing the right thing because it’s right, not because it’s fashionable. He isn’t a hypocrite. He has needs and desires the same as every other man. He’s just chosen not to act on them..because to do so wouldn’t be fair to either himself or the lady in question.

Jessica is wounded. Her life hasn’t been what she expected it would be and things have only gone from bad to worse. She needs an out, and for a woman in her position life doesn’t offer many. I understood that. But I had a hard time connecting with her. Part of the problem is my own hang-up. I can’t stand it when a character keeps a massive secret from his/her counterpart for the entire book. Especially when it’s something that will cause the other person pain. Since Jessica did this – even having good reasons for doing so – I had a really hard time forgiving her.

Aside from that, I truly enjoyed her personal journey. She needed to learn to like herself. It wasn’t always easy, but with Mark’s help she was able to recognize her own worth. I found this personal aspect of her story fascinating.

Mark was..well, honestly, Mark was close to perfect. He wasn’t just pretending to be a chaste man. He wasn’t just pretending to want to do the right thing. He was a flawed man willing to own his mistakes and shortcomings, and to try to overcome them. It wasn’t that he wasn’t flawed, because he was, but he accepted his flaws.

This was a well written historical romance that deals very well with the personal journey of the heroine. But I found it somewhat lacking in the romance. Not that I didn’t believe in the HEA, but I wasn’t invested in them as a couple so much as I was curious about them as individuals.

The romance world needs more heroes like Sir Mark Turner.

3.75 out of 5

e=UTF8&tag=boobin-20&link_code=btl&camp=213689&creative=392969″ target=”_blank”>here or here in e-format.

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
Publisher: Harlequin Books
Publication Date: January 30th 2018
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
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Goodreads
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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