Tag: Kensington

Guest Review: Don’t Call Me Sweetheart by Codi Gary

Posted August 10, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 3 Comments

Guest Review: Don’t Call Me Sweetheart by Codi GaryReviewer: Tracy
Don't Call Me Sweetheart by Codi Gary
Series: Something Borrowed #1
Published by Kensington Shine
Publication Date: August 15th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
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three-half-stars

Weddings are big business in picturesque Sweetheart, California, and Something Borrowed’s rent-a-bridesmaid service is thriving among the Hollywood elite. For the women who work there, a walk down the aisle is just a paycheck—until the right guy makes it priceless . . .

RULE #1: GROOMSMEN ARE STRICTLY OFF LIMITS

Marley Stevenson never imagined her stint as a rented Maid of Honor would practically become a career. Then again, nothing in her life has gone according to plan. At least the money’s good—and she needs it to pay off student loans and help out her mom. But the job has rules, which have never been an issue . . . until one encounter with a gorgeous best man—and his swoon-worthy Southern accent—sends Marley reeling.

Determined to get through the weekend with her professional reputation intact, Marley grits her teeth and sends out her best “unavailable” vibes, but Luke Jessup doesn’t give up that easy. A former Marine and a current SWAT team officer, his focus is legendary—and it’s on Marley. Jeopardizing her job is bad enough, and starting a relationship based on half-truths is worse—yet Marley is beginning to wonder if certain risks are worth taking, especially in the name of true love . . .

Marley works at Something Borrowed – a rent-a-bridesmaid service.  She’s doing well and while she doesn’t love her work it pays the bills and lets her save money so that she can fulfill her dream of moving to New York and working for a large publishing house.

Marley meets Luke while he’s in town for his best friend’s wedding and she’s instantly attracted – until she finds out that he’s a groomsman in a wedding that she’s a hired bridesmaid.  Members of the bridal parties are strictly off-limits to employees of Something Borrowed. Marley can’t tell Luke the truth and the she has to act like the bridezilla is a friend of hers when all she wants to do is smack her. Marley does her best to steer clear of Luke but she ends up giving in.  She knows she might lose her job but she thinks she’s in love with him.  Of course she can’t be with him as he lives in LA and she’s moving to New York.

This was a cute story.  Gary does a great job at small town romance and this one hit that mark to a T.  I love small towns so I always wonder what’s so horrible in them that the characters always want to move away.  I guess if you grow up in one it becomes mundane.  Luckily Marley finally saw her town of Sweetheart for the wonderful place it was – it just took her a little while.

The romance in the book was a cute one.  It seemed to happen pretty quickly but it was hot and sexy.  There was a tragedy in this story – no one got hurt – that Marley blames herself for but that all gets worked out.  I liked the story and thought it was a good, entertaining read.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Guest Review: To Seduce a Stranger by Susanna Craig

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

Guest Review: To Seduce a Stranger by Susanna CraigReviewer: Tracy
To Seduce a Stranger by Susanna Craig
Series: Runaway Desires #3
Published by Kensington, Lyrical Press
Publication Date: April 11th 2017
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three-half-stars

After her much older husband dies-leaving her his fortune-Charlotte Blakemore finds herself at the mercy of her stepson, who vows to contest the will and destroy her life. With nowhere to turn and no one to help her, she embarks on an elaborate ruse-only to find herself stranded on the way to London. . .

More than twenty years in the West Indies have hardened Edward Cary, but not enough to abandon a helpless woman at a roadside inn-especially one as disarmingly beautiful as Charlotte. He takes her with him to the Gloucestershire estate he is determined to restore, though he is suspicious of every word that falls from her distractingly lush lips.

As far as Charlotte knows, Edward is nothing more than a steward, and there's no reason to reveal his noble birth until he can right his father's wrongs. Acting as husband and wife will keep people in the village from asking questions that neither Charlotte nor Edward are willing to answer. But the game they're each determined to play has rules that beg to broken, when the passion between them threatens to uncover the truth-for better or worse. . .

Charlotte has spent her life feeling unloved.  She was taken as a baby to her uncle’s house because her mother died and her father took off to parts unknown.  Since she was illegitimate they treated her as the hired help instead of family.  When things started heating up in France (her mother was French, her father an English Earl) she left and stayed with her father’s family in England.  They treated her horribly as well.  When an elderly Duke who was friends with her aunt offers for her she accepts and thinks that maybe she’ll now get the love that she’s been missing.  Unfortunately he doesn’t touch her physically and then dies 6 weeks later.

The will is read and Charlotte receives a huge portion of the Duke’s estate but his son, the new Duke, plans on proving that his father was crazy and getting the will overturned. Charlotte and her maid take off for London to stay in the house that was left to her but Charlotte believes she’s being followed by one of the Duke’s men so she trades places with her maid and stays behind at an inn.  Unfortunately she grabbed the wrong valise and the money she had stashed away is now with her maid.  Fortunately for her a kind man offers to take her with him to his family estate.

Edward Cary is the son of an Earl but his father is a monster.  He beats Edwards mother regularly and Edward would do anything to save her.  When he hears that she’s waiting to leave until Edward is in school he decides at the ripe old age of 9 to runaway so she can get away sooner.  He heads off and takes a job on a ship.  He returns to confront his father 22 years later but runs into Charlotte on his way back.

When Edward and Charlotte reach his family seat he finds it empty and in horrible condition.  He hears his mother died not long after he left home and his father went to London and never returned.  Edward introduces Charlotte as his wife to the “caretaker” of the property which puts them into an awkward position.  It also causes problems when a man claiming to be the new Earl (Edwards father apparently passed) shows up and recognizes Charlotte for the Duchess she is.  Both Charlotte and Edward need to come to terms with who they are and confront those who would keep them from claiming their titles.

To Seduce a Stranger was a good story.  I liked both Edward and Charlotte and while they each had their own issues, they were truly good people.  Charlotte had confidence in herself in some aspects of her life but she’s been told she wasn’t worthy of love and she believed it.  Coming to terms with the fact that she could receive that love from Edward took her a while but she finally saw it for what it was.

Edward had had a horrible life to a point but then a good one after that.  He’d seen horrors both at home and while on the ship but he’d survived and made a good life for himself in the West Indies.  I had to give the guy props, he’d not only done well but tried to help with the slave issue as well.  Just a good guy.  I liked that while Edward helped Charlotte he didn’t completely trust her right off the bat because A) she was someone who needed help and b) she was a woman. Charlotte knew that Edward was keeping secrets as well but she trusted him too quickly imho.  Edward was a smart man and I liked his character.

The book was a good one but was a bit crowded with characters.  There were so many supporting characters that it was hard to keep up.  There were also people who were mentioned or showed up, I assume from previous books in the series, that I was unfamiliar with.  I think the author assumed the reader had read those books so plopped their names in.  Despite that this was a decent standalone novel.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Guest Review: The Unyielding by Shelly Laurenston

Posted March 30, 2017 by Jen in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: The Unyielding by Shelly LaurenstonReviewer: Jen
The Unyielding by Shelly Laurenston
Series: Call of Crows #3
Also in this series: The Undoing
Published by Kensington
Publication Date: March 28th 2017
Pages: 400
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four-stars

Stieg Engstrom, Angriest Viking Ever, has got big problems. The human Viking Clans of earth are in danger of being obliterated—along with the rest of the world—and the only one who may be able to save them is a super pain-in-the-ass Crow. Most people annoy Stieg, but this is the one woman he really can’t stand…

Erin Amsel loves being a Crow! Why wouldn’t she when the other Viking Clans are so hilariously arrogant and humorless? She’s not about to let all that come to an end! She just didn’t expect to be shoulder to shoulder in battle with Stieg. Then again, he’s so easy to torment—and also kind of cute.

With the future of the world riding on them, Stieg knows he’ll have to put aside his desperate need to kiss the smirk right off Erin’s face. Wait. What? He didn’t mean that—did he? No! They have one goal: To conquer the idiots. Because nothing bugs Stieg more than when idiots win. If only he can keep himself from suddenly acting like one….

Another Call of Crows book, and another review from me gushing about how much I love this series!

We finally get Erin Amsel’s book! For those who’ve haven’t been reading along I won’t waste time with too much summary, but the very abbreviated version is that the Viking Clans, who are each in service to a different Nordic god/goddess, have to work together to stop the rogue goddess Gullveig from bringing about Ragnarok (the Viking end of the world). It turns out that the only one who even might be able to stop her is Erin, and she has to go on a quest to get the tools she needs to do it. She’s aided by Stieg Engstrom, a grumpy, fierce Viking who REALLY doesn’t like Erin (or at least that’s what he thinks). Erin and Stieg have to journey to the very edge of hell while the Crows and the rest of the Clans have to prepare for a battle to save the world.

Erin, as we are repeatedly told by literally everyone in this series including Erin herself, is a dick. She loves to stir the pot, never hesitates to speak her mind, and has basically little filter between her brain and her mouth. She isn’t  exactly malicious, but nor does she particularly care if what she says or does hurts anyone’s feelings. It has ensured nearly every other Clan can’t stand Erin, and even her Sister Crows want to murder her more often than not. (Don’t be alarmed though–pretty much everyone wants to, or explicitly tries to, murder someone else in these books at some point! These are violent, crazy fairytales!) I have totally enjoyed Erin right from the start, and it was great to see her own story. She is just so damn hilarious.

The things that I loved about the first two books in the series were what I loved most about this one, too. First and foremost, the female friendships are SO AWESOME. These women have each other’s backs no matter what. I especially liked that it’s clear by this book that the three heroines of the series (Kera, Jace, and Erin) have a particular bond, and watching them try to protect and support each other was so great. I also love the Norse mythology of the series. Probably my favorite is when we get to “meet” the gods and goddesses, like Odin and Tyr. They are so self-absorbed and ridiculous–Laurenston has taken all the outrageous behaviors from the myths and imagined the kind of being that would do such things. It is a total riot and so clever. The secondary cast of characters is also pretty amazing and add so much richness and comedy to the story.

And yet…there were a few things that bothered me. First, I wanted to learn a bit more about Erin. I wanted to know WHY she’s such a dick. We hear a little about her family and her death, but there’s just not much explanation. I know, it’s probably unfair of me to start wishing for more depth, because that’s not what this series is about. I just found Erin so fascinating and fun that it was hard not to want more. I also didn’t really understand Stieg. Frankly he was kind of forgettable even in the earlier books, and I still felt that way about him by the end of this one. Erin does certainly soften towards him in her own Erin-way, but I wanted a touch more to the romance, even though I know that’s not really what these books do.

Despite wanting a bit more from this book, I still had an amazingly good time reading it. It is funny, clever, and exciting, and I never regret spending time in the world of the Crows.

Grade: 4 out of 5

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

four-stars


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Guest Review: The Education of Dixie Dupree by Donna Everhart

Posted November 1, 2016 by Tina R in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: The Education of Dixie Dupree by Donna EverhartReviewer: Tina
The Education of Dixie Dupree by Donna Everhart
Published by Kensington
Publication Date: October 25th 2016
Genres: Women's Fiction
Pages: 352
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five-stars

In 1969, Dixie Dupree is eleven years old and already an expert liar. Sometimes the lies are for her mama, Evie’s sake—to explain away a bruise brought on by her quick-as-lightning temper. And sometimes the lies are to spite Evie, who longs to leave her unhappy marriage in Perry County, Alabama, and return to her beloved New Hampshire. But for Dixie and her brother, Alabama is home, a place of pine-scented breezes and hot, languid afternoons.

Though Dixie is learning that the family she once believed was happy has deep fractures, even her vivid imagination couldn’t concoct the events about to unfold. Dixie records everything in her diary—her parents’ fights, her father’s drinking and his unexplained departure, and the arrival of Uncle Ray. Only when Dixie desperately needs help and is met with disbelief does she realize how much damage her past lies have done. But she has courage and a spirit that may yet prevail, forcing secrets into the open and allowing her to forgive and become whole again.

Narrated by her young heroine in a voice as sure and resonant as The Secret Life of Bees’ Lily or Bastard Out of Carolina’s Bone, Donna Everhart’s remarkable debut is a story about mothers and daughters, the guilt and pain that pass between generations, and the truths that are impossible to hide, especially from ourselves.

When I review a book, I don’t feel like it is necessary for me to tell you what the book is about. That is what the synopsis is for, and the publisher does a far better job than I do, believe it. What I feel my purpose is when I write a review is to tell you why you SHOULD read the book, or sometimes, why you SHOULDN’T.

When I write a review, I am giving you my honest impression. I try to convey how the book made me feel, if I enjoyed reading it, and if I would recommend it to anyone else. With this being said, I just want you to know that The Education of Dixie Dupree by Donna Everhart is a book that you shouldn’t pass up. This book is an incredibly powerful coming of age story that totally overwhelmed me emotionally. It isn’t one of those books that give you that warm fuzzy feeling as you read it – instead it literally knocks you on your ass. The subjects presented aren’t always pretty and they are not packaged that way either. There is no quiet way to address them, and there shouldn’t be. Sometimes an author has to get your attention. And Donna Everhart has that down to a science.

This is a story of a family . A REAL family. One that is made up of imperfect people in less-than-ideal situations. It is a book that doesn’t promise a happy ending. It will break your heart at times. But you will remember this book. Believe me, you will.

My two favorite books of all times besides To Kill A Mockingbird are books just like this one. They are The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd and Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman. These are books that will remain on my bookshelf although the rest of my library is now digital. They are books that I cherish and talk about frequently, and ones that I highly recommend. Now, I have another book that will be sitting on that shelf as well, and it is this one.

So please take the time to read the book’s description and decide for yourself if you think this would be something you would be interested in. I read some reviews that call the book “predictable”, but I honestly didn’t feel that way. How can you predict a child’s reaction to things they don’t truly understand. Even if they seem wise beyond their years, they are still children. Dixie will remain in my memory for a long time to come. Just like Scout, Lilly and CeeCee do.

I would like to thank the author, the publisher and NetGalley for giving me the privilege of reviewing this amazing book. It would make a fantastic book club read, and an amazing movie. I really hope you give it a try.

Grade: 5 out of 5

five-stars


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Review: Into the Whirlwind by Kat Martin

Posted July 13, 2016 by Casee in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Into the Whirlwind by Kat MartinReviewer: Casee
Into the Whirlwind (Boss Inc. #2) by Kat Martin
Series: Boss Inc. #2
Published by Kensington
Publication Date: May 31st 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 400
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
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three-half-stars

"I love her books!" --Linda Lael Miller

"Martin is superb." --RT Book Reviews

A bodyguard, a bounty hunter, a private investigator, no one can handle the heat like the men of BOSS, Inc.

Megan O'Brien is at her wit's end. Her three-year-old son has been kidnapped. No police, says the ransom demand. Fearing for her son's life, Meg has no choice but to turn to her former bodyguard, Dirk Reynolds.

Dirk's never forgiven Meg for the way she left him after their brief affair. But with bounty hunter Luke Brodie on his side, Dirk knows he's got to help Meg rescue her son.

The few clues they’ve gathered send them spiraling into a murky world of big banking and international crime. Meg may be way out of her depths, but she’s seeing a side of Dirk she never suspected—one no woman could possibly resist.

Meg jumps straight into a mother’s nightmare when she arrives home and finds that her three year old son is kidnapped. The note that was left instructs her not to contact the police or her son is dead. Meg doesn’t know what to do, but she knows she needs help. The only person she can turn to for help is Dirk Reynolds. Her former bodyguard and lover, Meg doesn’t know if he’ll help her after the way she cut him out of her life, but Meg is desperate and willing to do anything to save her son.

Dirk is shocked when he sees Meg O’Brien walking up his driveway. While he was working for her modeling company, not only did he fall for Meg, he thought the feeling was mutual. Then when the job was over, Meg may as well as surgically cut him out of her life. Dirk was devastated and still bore the scars that Meg left. Yet when standing in front of him begging him to help her find her son, Dirk is powerless to say no. He just promises himself that he will not be drawn back into any feelings that Meg sparks in him.

Dirk and Meg use the resources of the company that Dirk works for, BOSS, Inc. They also turn to her billionaire father, whom they’re both certain is the real target. While Meg has money of her own, it’s her father that has the big bucks. Trying to follow the trail to the kidnappers isn’t as easy as they thought it would be, consider who her father is.

If you want a fast romance suspense, this is it (hence the super short review). Of course there is more to the story but I don’t want to spoil too much. There isn’t too much character building, but I have to believe that was done in the previous book. Usually I don’t jump to the second book, but I don’t like books that have models in them. It’s a thing. Don’t ask me why.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

three-half-stars


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