Tag: Loveswept

Guest Review: Madly by Ruthie Knox

Posted March 23, 2017 by Jen in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Madly by Ruthie KnoxMadly (New York, #2) by Ruthie Knox
Also in this series: Madly
Published by Loveswept
Publication Date: March 14th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 273
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An impulsive trip to New York City, a heartthrob from London, and a scandalous to-do list turn a small-town girl’s life upside down in this sultry romance from the New York Times bestselling author of Truly and About Last Night.
Allie Fredericks isn’t supposed to be in Manhattan, hiding in the darkest corner of a hip bar, spying on her own mother—who’s flirting with a man who’s definitely not Allie’s father. Allie’s supposed to be in Wisconsin, planning her parents’ milestone anniversary party. Then Winston Chamberlain walks through the door, with his tailored suit, British accent, and gorgeous eyes, and Allie’s strange mission goes truly sideways.
Winston doesn’t do messy. But after a pretty stranger ropes him into her ridiculous family drama with a fake kiss that gets a little too real, he finds out that messy can be fun. Maybe even a little addicting. And as the night grows longer, Allie and Winston make a list of other wild things they could do together—and what seems like a mismatch leads to a genuine connection. But can their relationship survive as their real lives implode just outside the bedroom door?

I’ve been childishly whining ever since I saw that Winston Chamberlain was the hero of Madly, about how it made me nervous because I couldn’t stand him. He appeared in another of Knox’s books, About Last Night, and he was cruel to his brother, selfish, and so, so uppity. It didn’t help that I positively hated the ending of that book, too, though that had nothing to do with Winston. (You don’t need to read that book first, and frankly it’s probably better if you don’t so you don’t end up with preconceived notions like I did.) Allie also wasn’t entirely my favorite when she appeared in her sister’s book, Truly. I mention all this because if you hadn’t already heard my whining, you should know about my prior feelings; they are part of understanding what I liked and didn’t like about Madly.

Madly takes place four years after the events of About Last Night. Winston has since gotten divorced and moved from London to New York City to be near his college-age daughter and to work in the NYC location of his aristocratic family’s bank. It’s also been a little under a year since the events of Truly, when Allie Fredericks dumped her fiance on their wedding day. Allie has impulsively come from her home in Manitowoc, WI to New York following her mom, who she suspects is having a long term affair with a New York artist. When she bumps into Winston in a bar, he starts helping her track down her mom.

First off, while I was concerned about how Knox would redeem Winston, I’m happy to say I was satisfied. We don’t see Winston’s transformation in Madly, but Winston has indeed undergone a transformation since his low point in About Last Night when he tried to blackmail his brother Nev and tear down Nev’s love interest, Cath. We also learn that Winston’s marriage had been a mess at the time, and he tried to force his life, and his ex-wife, into some predefined shape he thought was the “right one” for a man of his position. When that all fell apart, he realized how wrong it was, both for himself and everyone around him. You get the sense that he’s spent the last years trying his best to simply be kind to everyone around him. He’s mostly patched things up with Nev and Cath, though there’s still some residual tension, and he’s trying to be a good dad to his daughter, Bea, without smothering her or forcing her into a box like he did with her mother. However, in trying so hard to make up for the past and give everyone space, he’s kind of forgotten what he wants or needs. He isn’t unhappy exactly, but at the start of the book he spends the bulk of his time watching Netflix and waiting for Bea to occasionally give him a few minutes of her time. Rinse, Repeat. When Allie storms into his life, it brings a lightness and fun that he obviously forgot he was capable of. I kind of can’t believe I’m saying this but…I actually liked seeing Winston come back to life a bit!

Family, with all the messy, complex, and overwhelming emotions that implies, is a huge theme in so many of Knox’s books, this one included. The Chamberlain’s family drama mostly happened in About Last Night and the intervening years, so this book focuses on the Fredericks. The family is kind of imploding around Allie, and she’s fighting to figure out what to do about it. There was a point in the book where I actually wanted to put it down because it was a little too much. Maybe it’s because of some people I know who are going through their own hard family dramas that things felt a little too real, but I think most of us have had hurtful family secrets or loved ones who profoundly disappointed us. It was almost too painful to read about what might happen. (As a parent, the interactions between Winston and Bea were also sweet but a little hard to read. He loves her so much but is afraid to hold on too tightly, but he can see her growing up and pulling away anyway…ugh, who is chopping onions in here?) I pushed on, though, and was rewarded with a thoroughly happy ending. It was perhaps unrealistically happy, but I can’t complain because wouldn’t we all like our own messy family problems to end so happily?

While Winston was redeemed, though, I never thoroughly warmed to Allie. She felt a bit inconsistent, first of all. She’s supposed to be so flighty and impulsive, but other than flying to New York on a whim I didn’t really see that. She mostly just felt…opinionated, which is fine but not the same thing. She says she wants to take care of everyone and feels like it’s on her to hold things together, but she kept running away when things got hard. She was not particularly kind to Winston (and geez, no one is more surprised than me that I’m saying that, haha) when all he did was love and support her from the start. In general, she acts pretty self absorbed and a little immature throughout the book, and it got on my nerves by the end. This is some of what bothered me about her in Madly, too, and I was disappointed to see that unlike Winston, she hadn’t changed much between books. Moreover, I wasn’t quite sure whether she had really had a transformation by the end of this book either. Sure, some of her family issues were resolved, but had Allie herself changed? When I thought about that question at the end of the book all I could come up with was…probably? I think so? I believed she was good with Winston, but in my mind she wasn’t ready for the implied HEA, not quite yet at least.

This was a complicated book full of big themes and big emotions, and I admire that Knox never shies away from tackling complicated human beings. Plus, it is full of funny, lovely dialog, and it’s very sexy. (And boy I could write paragraphs about the awesome and complex sex scenes in this book because I have so many thoughts. There’s a “list”, sex toys, lots of sex that’s not just PinV, orgasm isn’t always the goal…such good stuff, but go read and judge for yourself!) It made me think, and it was a great read.

Grade: 4 out of 5

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

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Guest Review: Madly by Ruthie Knox

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

Guest Review: Madly by Ruthie KnoxReviewer: Tracy
Madly by Ruthie Knox
Series: New York series #2
Also in this series: Madly (New York, #2)
Published by Loveswept
Publication Date: March 14th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-half-stars

An impulsive trip to New York City, a heartthrob from London, and a scandalous to-do list turn a small-town girl’s life upside down in this sultry romance from the New York Times bestselling author of Truly and About Last Night.

Allie Fredericks isn’t supposed to be in Manhattan, hiding in the darkest corner of a hip bar, spying on her own mother—who’s flirting with a man who’s definitely not Allie’s father. Allie’s supposed to be in Wisconsin, planning her parents’ milestone anniversary party. Then Winston Chamberlain walks through the door, with his tailored suit, British accent, and gorgeous eyes, and Allie’s strange mission goes truly sideways.

Winston doesn’t do messy. But after a pretty stranger ropes him into her ridiculous family drama with a fake kiss that gets a little too real, he finds out that messy can be fun. Maybe even a little addicting. And as the night grows longer, Allie and Winston make a list of other wild things they could do together—and what seems like a mismatch leads to a genuine connection. But can their relationship survive as their real lives implode just outside the bedroom door?

Allie Fredericks is trying to save her family.  For as long as she can remember her mother has randomly disappeared from their lives in Wisconsin.  Allie’s dad always said that she was taking time for herself.  This time Allie found out that she headed to New York so she decided to follow her to finally get to the bottom of everything.  She’s stalking her mom at a bar (with the man who is her biological father) when she enlists the help of a stranger – Winston Chamberlain.  He not only helps her but ends up giving her a place to stay after she loses her mom in the New York shuffle. While trying to find her mother she enlists the help of all of Winston’s friends and relatives and even his personal assistant.  Her simple sleuth job turns into a major deal and soon everyone is looking for her mom.

Allie is distraught about a great many things and decides that she needs to unload her woes to someone.  She uses Winston as she doesn’t know him and it feels safe to tell him things she maybe wouldn’t have told someone she knew well.  When they start talking though they find they have an attraction to each other and also sexual issues that have never been discovered or worked out (she with her ex-fiancé and he with his ex-wife).  They decide to make a list (sexual) and get through it before she heads back to Wisconsin.

While in New York Allie also tries to reconnect with her sister but that ends up causing more issues than fixing anything.  Allie soon realizes that she has to figure how to get her own life in order and let everyone else live their lives their own way.  She also has to figure out what to do with her growing feelings for Winston and that’s not an easy thing to do.

Madly was a pretty fun and interesting book.  Despite that, however, I found it to be exhausting.  The characters, especially Allie, made me a bit crazy at times and I just needed Allie to take a deep breath and be calm for one moment. Lol

Allie was a crazy girl who was business wise and personality strong.  She loved her family but pretty much felt that they were falling apart and she took it upon herself to fix everything.  I think it was because she couldn’t fix her own life the way it needed to be therefore she needed to fix everyone else’s.  She had a big personality and this was shown to us again and again.  She wore me out, truth be told.  I was quite happy that Winston could bring her down to earth once in a while.

I didn’t connect completely with either Allie or Winston but I did like them together.  I thought that they played off of each other well and the scenes when they were alone together were my favorite.

This is a sequel to the first book in the series, Truly, but it also catches us up with Nev and Cath from About Last Night (a book I loved).  It was good to see Nev and Cath again and to meet Winston’s daughter, Bea, who was awesome.

Overall a good book but a frenetic one.  I’d say you definitely have to be in the mood for a wild ride to truly enjoy this story.

Rating: 3.5/3.75 out of 5

three-half-stars

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Guest Review: Love Taker by Erin McCarthy

Posted February 28, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Love Taker by Erin McCarthyReviewer: Tracy
Love Taker by Erin McCarthy
Series: Nashville Nights #3
Also in this series: Heart Breaker
Published by Loveswept
Publication Date: February 28th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
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three-half-stars

The Nashville Nights series is burning up backstage in this sensual friends-to-lovers novel featuring a good-guy cop and a woman who’s been looking for Mr. Right in all the wrong places.

Pretty-boy musicians are a fixture of the Nashville country scene—and Elle Hart, hairdresser to the stars, is beginning to think that they’re all total pricks. Elle’s dating choices have been a disaster, but at least she has Tucker. Though he’s easy on the eyes, no one would ever accuse Jason Michael Tucker of being a pretty boy. The humble and handsome sheriff's deputy from Elle’s hometown has always been there to comfort her—until the evening their friendship unexpectedly leads to the best sex Elle has ever had.

Tucker has been lusting after Elle since they were an item as teens, but he knows that their wild night of passion is a one-time thing. He’s an old friend, nothing more, and they’re too different to become a couple just because they’ve knocked boots. After all, she hates being back in their hometown, and he’s not so fond of the big city. But when Elle comes to Tucker with news that changes everything, he must help her come to grips with her traumatic past—or risk losing her forever.

Tucker and Elle had dated in High School.  They really liked each other but when her family moved from their small town of Starkey, Kentucky to Nashville they became just friends.  They’d remained friends although Tucker really wanted more.  He was always there for Elle but one night when she had just gotten home from a date  – one who had verbally hurt her – Tucker drove the four hours to Elle’s place to comfort her.  One thing led to another and soon they were sleeping with each other.

Tucker’s elated until Elle tells him she has a date that night. She assumed he’d want to keep their friendship tight and he’d assumed this meant a huge step in “together” direction.  He finally realizes that Elle won’t ever want him for more than friendship so he starts to date.  He likes the woman he’s dating and is thinking of taking things further when Elle shows up to tell him she’s pregnant.  Now that time has passed Elle realizes she feels more for Tucker than she thought but now Tucker isn’t sure he wants to go that route with a woman who hadn’t ever seen him for who he was.

This was a cute story.  I liked the friendship between Tuck and Elle even though it had its ups and downs.  Even though they each reacted differently to her pregnancy than I thought they would they were both happy about it. A portion of the story focused on Elle and her family and how they’d grown up in the Starkey and how that affected their lives.  I liked that bit of background that we got on her and her family.  I wish would could have gotten the same bit of in depth background on Tucker but that didn’t happen.

The end of the story seemed a bit abrupt to me.  Decisions had been made between Elle and Tucker and their future – and this was done so that they could make a clean start together.  Tucker wasn’t a Nashville kind of guy and Elle absolutely did not want to move back to Starkey.  After a particular incident, that all changed and Elle made the decision for both of them to stay in Starkey.  It seemed rushed and not so well thought out on her part – more of a highly emotional decision.  I know that it was supposed to be the big gesture from her to Tucker but it rang false to me – especially after how adamant Elle had been to stay out of Starkey.  IDK, it was sweet on one hand but on the other it just didn’t make sense to me.

The story was sweet and cute for the most part and I always enjoy a good contemporary from McCarthy.  If you’re looking for a story with not too much angst then this would be a good one to pick up.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars

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Guest Review: Campbell’s Redemption by Sharon Cullen

Posted January 23, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Campbell’s Redemption by Sharon CullenReviewer: Tracy
Campbell's Redemption by Sharon Cullen
Series: Highland Pride series #3
Also in this series: Sutherland's Secret, MacLean's Passion
Published by Loveswept
Publication Date: November 22nd 2016
Genres: Historical, Romance, Scottish
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four-stars

Like his ancestors, Iain Campbell, the Marquess of Kerr, swears loyalty to whichever government happens to be in power. Privately, however, he despises the British for the slaughter following the Battle of Culloden and finds himself playing a dangerous game of deception. When he defends a fellow Scot under cloak of darkness, Iain is wounded and must put his life in the hands of a mysterious healer. The prickly, bewitching woman saves him with her touch, though she denies Iain the pleasure of a smile from her sensuous lips—which only makes him want her all the more.

Cait Campbell has no fondness for the marquess and his political machinations. Now he makes a treacherous patient, since Cait is harboring Jacobite fugitives in her cellar. But with Iain confined to bed rest, Cait sees another side of the fierce warrior. How can she hate a man whose eyes sparkle in candlelight, a man whose voice stirs her soul? She soon discovers that he loves the Scottish people deeply—and, despite her painful intuitions, Cait is tempted to let Iain love her, too.

Cait is happy with her life.  She’s a healer living on the outskirts of Campbell land.  It’s been four years since her husband died and she’s doing well.  She heals both the Scottish people as well as the redcoats that come to her.  She doesn’t like helping them but she’s a healer so that’s what she does.  She also believes this will create goodwill between her and the soldiers and they’ll leave her alone.  When Iain Campbell brings the commander of his warriors to be healed she’s happy to help but she wants nothing to do with Iain.  Her husband, John, was Iain’s commander when he was alive and died by a bullet intended for Iain.  Cait can’t help but find Iain responsible for John’s death even though logically she knows he’s not.  Part of her solitude is harboring Scottish fugitives from the English.  She’s not willing to give that up for anyone.

Iain has felt guilty for John’s death and though he told John as he was dying that he would take care of Cait he hasn’t.  The guilt was too much for him to be around Cait but once he was back in her house he couldn’t keep himself away.  He has feelings for Cait but she’s not willing to make an affair with him public.  Unfortunately the redcoats Cait thought she was keeping away didn’t stay away and when she’s threatened Iain will stop at nothing to protect her.

Another great story in the Highland Pride series.  Iain Campbell, in previous books helped both MacLean and Sutherland but yet everyone thought he was an English sympathizer when the truth was he was a spy. Because I wasn’t totally sure of his loyalties going into the book I was cautious.  Cullen made me a lover of Iain very quickly as his care for Cait was so honest and real.

Cait was a stubborn woman from beginning to end.  She had lost everyone who she had ever loved and she wasn’t willing to get involved with Iain and take the risk of losing him.  Luckily Iain was persuasive with Cait and was able to make her believe his love for her.  I really loved the two of them together.  Individually they were strong characters but together they were a bit invincible.

There was a bit of intrigue in the story as well and I thought that was well done.  It was woven well into Cait and Iain’s story and made it that much better. The whole of the story was well worth reading and I very much enjoyed it.

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars

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Guest Review: Devil’s Mark by Megan Crane

Posted January 4, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Devil’s Mark by Megan CraneReviewer: Tracy
Devil's Mark by Megan Crane
Series: The Devil's Keepers #2
Published by Loveswept
Publication Date: January 3rd 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
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three-stars

Holly Chambless is tired of being the squeaky clean daughter of Lagrange’s holier-than-thou mayor. When her father is charged with corruption, she realizes that her whole life’s been a lie. Now’s her chance to do all the things she never dared, like scoring a job at a bar where reputations go to die, or reconnecting with the biker who sparked a secret hunger in her all those years ago. Holly isn’t a wide-eyed girl anymore—and this time she wants a taste of what has always been denied.

Killian “Uptown” Chenier has no time for stuck-up princesses. He likes fast bikes and wild sex. Sure, he remembers Holly. He sent her running with a wicked smile and a lesson about prying eyes. And sure, she’s grown up smoking-hot, with a body he’d like to personally desecrate. But Devil’s Keepers business is real and intense. Her daddy stole from the club, leaving his pretty blonde daughter a walking target. And when Uptown takes aim at what he wants, he never misses.

Holly Chambless is tired of being the squeaky clean daughter of Lagrange’s holier-than-thou mayor. When her father is charged with corruption, she realizes that her whole life’s been a lie. Now’s her chance to do all the things she never dared, like scoring a job at a bar where reputations go to die, or reconnecting with the biker who sparked a secret hunger in her all those years ago. Holly isn’t a wide-eyed girl anymore—and this time she wants a taste of what has always been denied.

Killian “Uptown” Chenier has no time for stuck-up princesses. He likes fast bikes and wild sex. Sure, he remembers Holly. He sent her running with a wicked smile and a lesson about prying eyes. And sure, she’s grown up smoking-hot, with a body he’d like to personally desecrate. But Devil’s Keepers business is real and intense. Her daddy stole from the club, leaving his pretty blonde daughter a walking target. And when Uptown takes aim at what he wants, he never misses.

When the good girl of Lagrange, LA walks into the seediest bar in the town and asks for a job Uptown Chenier is shocked.  He’s always had the desire to get his hands on her but has never had the opportunity.  Now that she’s behind the bar he just might get his chance.

Holly’s dad is someone she always looked up to.  He taught her to be kind and good and she always was.  Then he was arrested for doing some horrible things and all the secrets and whisperings she’d heard over the years started to make sense.  She knows he did everything they say he did.  Now she doesn’t feel like she needs to be the good daddy’s girl any longer and the easiest way to soil her reputation is by working at Dumb Gator’s – the bar where all of the Devil’s Keepers Motorcycle club members hang out.  She’s pulled to Uptown like he’s a magnet and wants nothing more than for him to take her home and do bad things to her – so he does.

This is a story about a good girl’s road to being a bad girl.  Holly is the epitome of good.  She’s never done anything bad even though she’s wanted to more than a few times.  She once caught Uptown having sex behind the church and she wanted nothing more than to be with him.  Now that she’s not 16 any longer she wants her chance to be with him.  He’s more than happy to oblige because he thinks she’s hot and because he wants revenge on her daddy for the horrible things he’s done to the club.  Holly knows that she’s part of his revenge but doesn’t seem to care.  I had an issue with this at first but she was so far removed from caring about her father that it ended up being a nonissue.

My biggest issue with the story was the writing style.  The story was okay even though there were some disjointed parts to it.  We were told some things that were happening with some of the characters and then those things were never resolved – just kind of…left by the wayside.  The writing is what made the story only a 3 star read for me.   The story went something like this:

Dialogue

Inner thought
Inner thought
Inner thought
Inner thought
Inner thought
Inner thought
Inner thought
Inner thought

Response dialogue

Inner thought
Inner thought
Inner thought
Inner thought
Inner thought
Inner thought
Inner thought
Inner thought

I’m not kidding – it went on forever.  There were actually times in the book where the characters were having a conversation and I had to go back and figure out what the hell the previous character was saying because it had been a page and a half or more since they had spoken!  This was a constant throughout the book except maybe when they were having sex (although I’m not positive it didn’t happen then as well) and I found it incredibly annoying.

In the end I ultimately got tired of hearing about what a good girl Holly was and what a bad girl she became by being with Uptown.  We got it – she’s bad now.  While it was an okay book in the end it drove me a bit batty and I can’t say I recommend it.

Rating: 3 out of 5

three-stars

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