Tag: Penguin

Review: Shot on Gold by Jaci Burton

Posted February 20, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Shot on Gold by Jaci BurtonReviewer: Rowena
Shot on Gold (Play by Play, #14) by Jaci Burton
Series: Play by Play #14
Also in this series: Holiday on Ice, Rules of Contact, The Final Score (Play by Play, #13), Changing the Game (Play by Play, #2)
Published by Penguin, Berkley
Publication Date: February 13th 2018
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble

In the new Play-by-Play novel by the New York Times bestselling author of The Final Score, opposites attract when a figure skater and hockey player lace up their skates--and go for the gold...

Will "Mad Dog" Madigan is making his second trip to the Winter Games, and he couldn't be happier. Hockey is his life and playing for the U.S. team is a privilege. Then he meets U.S. figure skater Amber Sloane. She's beautiful, ambitious and driven--everything Will desires in a woman. He would love to show Amber how hot life off the ice can be.

Amber has skated her entire life, sacrificing everything in the hopes of one day winning gold. Now she's competing for the third and final time. She intends to win, and nothing's going to get in her way--until she meets Will. He's an irresistible charmer, and before long Amber is wondering if this sexy hockey player is the perfect guy to show her some moves outside the rink.

But after all the medals have been awarded, Will and Amber will have to decide if what they have together is just a fling or a real shot at true love.

Shot on Gold is the fourteenth book in the Play by Play series by Jaci Burton and it was a sweet romance. Both the hero and the heroine were so sweet and so polite to each other and they were super nice and all of that but that’s pretty much it.

This book follows Will “Mad Dog” Madigan and Amber Sloane as they fall in love during the Winter Olympics. They’re both competing in the Games and they meet in the athlete’s village and their romance takes off right from the very beginning.

Will is at his second Olympics with the US Men’s Hockey team and this time around, he wants to experience the whole thing with a clear head and make actual memories. His first time around, he won the silver medal with his team and he remembers a lot of alcohol, lots of women and lots of partying. He’s older now so he wants to savor the experience and he wants to help his team win the elusive gold medal. He’s serious business this time around so when he meets Amber Sloane, he’s definitely interested and wouldn’t mind a little female company during the two-week international tournament.

Amber Sloane is competing in her last Winter Olympics. She’s an ice skater who has always put skating above everything else and while she is a very decorated athlete, she doesn’t have a gold medal and she doesn’t have any friends. She’s twenty-four years old and she vows to have some fun during these Olympic games because she deserves a bit of fun after all of her hard work. She’s ready to compete for that gold and she is very confident that this is her year to finally win it. Her one friend is a Canadian snowboarder and they’re roommates again so Amber knows that if anyone can help her let loose a little, it’s Lisa. When Lisa takes her a party, Amber meets Will and she’s just as attracted to him as he is to her and she’s determined that he will be the person that she gets cozy with and he doesn’t disappoint.

Over the course of the two weeks that they’re both competing in Vancouver at the Olympic Games, Will and Amber fall into a relationship that is pretty hot and super steamy. They get closer and closer and they spend as much time as they can together and everything is just peachy. Being together makes them happy and it shows in their performance in the games. Will is killing it on the ice and so is Amber. Everything is perfect. Nothing is ever wrong, except for a few mean words from Amber’s Mom…and I think that was my problem with the book. There weren’t any real conflicts in the romance and the conflict that we do get, happens after the games and to be honest, it was pretty weak.

This book reads like a fairy tale where everyone is accepted and everyone wins a gold medal and while that’s fine, I wanted more meat from the story. The romance itself worked but outside of that, everything was pretty tame. Everyone got along, there was no drama between any of the athletes and I expected…more. I finished this book wanting more. I would have enjoyed the setting and the environment a whole lot more if something actually happened instead of happy, happy, joy, joy, all the time. So while the romance was sweet, the rest of the story low key needed more umph for me.

Play by Play Series

Grade: 3 out of 5


Tagged: , , , , , , ,

Sunday Spotlight: The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

Posted February 4, 2018 by Holly in Features, Giveaways | 6 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

Sunday Spotlight

I’ve been hearing wonderful things about this book. I’m really excited for it.

Sunday Spotlight: The Wedding Date by Jasmine GuilloryThe Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory
Published by Penguin, Berkley
Publication Date: January 30th 2018
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 320
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble

A groomsman and his last-minute guest are about to discover if a fake date can go the distance in a fun and flirty debut novel.

Agreeing to go to a wedding with a guy she gets stuck with in an elevator is something Alexa Monroe wouldn't normally do. But there's something about Drew Nichols that's too hard to resist.

On the eve of his ex's wedding festivities, Drew is minus a plus one. Until a power outage strands him with the perfect candidate for a fake girlfriend...

After Alexa and Drew have more fun than they ever thought possible, Drew has to fly back to Los Angeles and his job as a pediatric surgeon, and Alexa heads home to Berkeley, where she's the mayor's chief of staff. Too bad they can't stop thinking about the other...

They're just two high-powered professionals on a collision course toward the long distance dating disaster of the century--or closing the gap between what they think they need and what they truly want...

Order the Book:



THE WEDDING DATE by Jasmine Guillory
Book Binge – exclusive excerpt

By the time she knocked at the door of room 1624 she was a bundle of nerves. Maybe he thought better of this? Maybe he already checked out of the hotel and forgot to tell me? Maybe he . . . She didn’t have a chance for another possible worst-case scenario before he opened the door. And then she was speechless for a moment.

She’d thought Drew was hot in his worn gray T-shirt in the elevator, and she’d thought he was hot at the rehearsal dinner, clean-shaven in his pale blue button-down shirt. Now, in a tuxedo, he was so hot she was afraid she wouldn’t be able to look him in the eye all night.

He wasn’t even fully in the tux—that was the worst part. He had the shirt on and the bow tie untied around his neck, with his hair still damp. He looked like every romantic comedy hero at the end of the night, just before the heroine pulled his shirt out of his pants and started unbuttoning . . .

“Hey!” He interrupted her increasingly lurid train of thought. “You’re just in time. I was about to break into the snacks.”

“Snacks?” she asked. She followed him into the room, momentarily distracted from her fantasies.

“I got us cheese and crackers . . . and beer. If this is anything like most weddings, we’re not going to eat for a while. I don’t know about you, but I could use a drink before this night gets under way.”

“You read my mind,” she said. She dropped her tote bag on his bed and hung her dress up in the closet. “I almost brought a bottle of wine, but I didn’t want to start dancing on tables before the wedding even began.”

He disappeared into the bathroom and came out a few seconds later with two bottles of beer in his hands.

“Beer’s in the bathroom sink. The champagne bucket was too small for a six-pack. Plus, there are two sinks; filling one up with ice was the biggest stroke of genius I’ve had in a while, if I do say so myself.” He cracked open both bottles, handed her one, and then raised his to her. “To my wedding date, and thanks again.”

She took a long drink of her beer and looked around the room, trying to find something to distract herself from how much she wanted to lick that drop of condensation off his lower lip. Huge king bed, neatly made up, so housekeeping must have already come and gone. A full-length mirror by the closet— great, she would need that while getting dressed. Floor-to-ceiling windows beyond the bed. She wandered over to the window, beer in hand, and glanced outside.

“Wow.” The view stretched out over the sparkling bay. She could see both the gray and white bulk of the Bay Bridge and the gleam of the Golden Gate Bridge, with the bright sun overhead.

“The view is something else, isn’t it?” he asked. He came up behind her so close she could feel his body heat. She wanted more than anything to lean back against his warm chest.

“It really is,” she said, without turning around. “Olivia was on this side of the hotel, too, but we were so busy talking I didn’t even look out the window. Josh and Molly got a perfect day for their wedding.” She turned to him, but he’d already stepped back over to the desk.

“I couldn’t compete with your fancy cheese and crackers,” he said, “but I did what I could.”

She walked over to investigate and set her beer down so that she could dig in.

“I love this stuff,” she said, dipping a Wheat Thin into the tub of herbed cream cheese.

He followed suit.

“You’re not just saying that to be nice? Or because you need to eat something so that you don’t jump up on that table and start dancing? Don’t hesitate to do that on my account, by the way.”

She took another swig of beer and grinned.

“I told you, I love all forms of cheese and crackers, even that gross stuff that I used to get in my lunch as a kid with the little red plastic spreader.”

He flopped down on the bed with his beer and grinned at her. She could just push him all the way down and unbutton that shirt of his. Would he have chest hair? If so, not too much—that glimpse of his stomach she’d had in the elevator was branded in her memory, and there hadn’t been a ton of hair there.

Oh my God, what was wrong with her? A few sips of beer and her fantasies were trying to take over.

Giveaway Alert

We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter for one of this month’s features.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!

About the Author

Jasmine Guillory


Jasmine Guillory is a graduate of Wellesley College and Stanford Law School. She is a Bay Area native who has towering stacks of books in her living room, a cake recipe for every occasion, and upwards of 50 lipsticks.

As well as writing books, Jasmine sometimes writes about books, pop-culture, and food, some of her favorite things. Here are some of her recent pieces:

Words With Friends
The 33 Best Romantic Comedies of All Time
If Michelle Obama Were Your Girlfriend
If Nigella Lawson Were Your Girlfriend
What to Do When ICE Raids Your Restaurant
If Lupita Nyong’o Were Your Girlfriend
If Barack Obama Were Your Dad

Tagged: , , , , , , ,

Retro Review: Demon Moon by Meljean Brook

Posted November 1, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 8 Comments

Retro Review: Demon Moon by Meljean BrookReviewer: Holly
Demon Moon by Meljean Brook
Series: The Guardians #2
Also in this series: Demon Night, Demon Bound, Demon Forged, Guardian Demon, Demon Angel
Published by Penguin
Publication Date: June 5th 2007
Genres: Fiction
Pages: 480
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble

No one would call vampire Colin Ames-Beaumont kind, but they would call him unnaturally beautiful. For two centuries his tainted blood has kept him isolated from other vampires, sustained only by his beauty and vanity—bitter comforts, since a curse has erased his mirror reflection, replacing it with a terrifying glimpse of Chaos.

Savi Murray's insatiable curiosity had gotten her into trouble before, but she'd always escaped unscathed. Then came Colin. In the midst of Heaven, he gave her a taste of ecstasy—and of Chaos. Deadly creatures from that realm herald the return of an imprisoned nosferatu horde, and Colin and Savi’s bond is their only protection—and their only passion…

*****As part of our 10 year anniversary celebration, we’ll be re-posting old reviews and posts that make us cringe, laugh or sigh all over again.

This review was originally posted on April 27, 2007.

Side Note: There’s no way I can review this book without including spoilers from the first one, Demon Angel. If you haven’t read DA yet, you may want to skip this review. I’ll try to keep the spoilers for this one to a minimum. :End Side Note

As I’ve mentioned several times now, I won an ARC of this on Sybil‘s blog. I was really excited to read it, especially after Demon Angel (and who doesn’t love free ARC’s?).

Although I enjoyed DA, my biggest issue with it was the pacing. It seemed bogged down with info dumps and was often so slow going I felt like banging my head against the wall. Although it took me ages to read this, it wasn’t because of the pacing. It was just my own busy life intruding on my reading time. The pacing issues were totally cleared up. Way to go, Meljean.

When I heard Colin the Vampire was set to be the hero of this book, I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. Though I truly enjoyed his character in Demon Angel, I thought he seemed shallow and vain and…almost immature? But MB did an amazing job of showing us the different sides of him. Yes, he was shallow and vain about some things, but the truth is, he was just as tortured as Hugh. Watching him struggle to battle his personal demons and his attraction to Savi was just..amazing.

As for Savi, well, I loved her. Plain and simple. Like, I totally have a girl-crush on her. Where Lilith was in-your-face strong, Savi’s strength was more internal, but no less amazing. I think she was a more personable heroine. The kind you’d like to be friends with. I loved her wit and humor and her general approach to life.

We saw the same characters. Michael and Selah, the Guardians. Lilith and Hugh. Auntie. Sir Pup. And we were introduced to several new characters. Mostly vampires. But they stayed in the background and the main focus was on Colin and Savi. We learned more about their time together in Caelum, Colin’s past and his link to Chaos, Savi’s family and just who they were period. In DA I often felt like, just when the exchanges between Hugh and Lilith were getting intense, the focus would shift to something else. It didn’t feel that way at all in this novel.

Although there are other things going on around them. A rogue demon, a cult of vampires and pressure for Colin to lead the vampire community. I love the world she’s created. This isn’t your typical vampire story. There’s still the battle for good vs. evil and the different realms. Plus, Chaos. That was creepy. And different.

The conflict between Savi and Colin, and the major thing that threatens their HEA was perfectly done. I don’t want to spoil it, but it was very believable. A lot of times authors don’t create a credible reason for why the H/H may not end up together. I was on the edge of my seat with this one. And the end? Awesome. I even cried a little.

I think the only issue I had with the book was…the sexual tension. Normally I lurve me some sexual tension, but this went on WAY too long. I mean, come one. Every single time they were about to get it on, something would happen. I was about to pull my hair out. Luckily once they finally get to doing the dirty it makes up for all the previous tension. But I have to tell you, I was hurting there for awhile. g

One last thing. On her blog, Meljean mentioned someone else reading this book and saying it could standalone. I completely disagree. I think had I not read Demon Angel first, I’d have been completely lost. As it was, there were several times I had to go back to DA to reference something. IMO, they should be read together.

I’m anxious to read the Wild Thing anthology, which contains Selah’s story. If you’re interested, Gwen from over at Sybil’s blog reviewed it. It sounds great.

Overall this book was amazing. Savi and Colin were wonderful characters and I can’t wait for the next installment.

4.5 out of 5

This book is out June 5, so be sure to bump it up to the top of your wish list. In the meantime? Go visit Meljean’s site. I really like it. And BONUS! She has excerpts up. 😉


Tagged: , , , , , , , , , ,

Review: How to Change a Life by Stacey Ballis

Posted August 4, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: How to Change a Life by Stacey BallisReviewer: Rowena
How to Change a Life by Stacey Ballis
Published by Penguin, Berkley
Publication Date: August 15th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 400
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble

A dare between friends leads to startling revelations and simmering tensions in the latest novel from the author of Wedding Girl.

Eloise is happy with her life as a successful private chef. She has her clients, her corgi, and a recipe for the world's most perfect chocolate cream pie. What more could she need? But when her long-lost trio of high school friends reunites, Eloise realizes how lonely she really is.

Eloise, Lynne, and Teresa revamp their senior-class assignment and dare one another to create a list of things to accomplish by the time they each turn forty in a few months. Control freak Lynne has to get a dog, Teresa has to spice up her marriage, and Eloise has to start dating again.

Enter Shawn, a hunky ex-athlete and the first man Eloise could see herself falling for. Suddenly forty doesn't seem so lonely--until a chance encounter threatens the budding romance and reveals the true colors of her friends. Will the bucket listers make it to forty still speaking to one another? Or do some friendships come with an expiration date?

Readers Guide and Recipes Included

How to Change a Life was the first book that I’ve ever read by Ballis. I’ve heard great things about this author before so I’ve always wanted to try her out but never got around to it until I got this book for review. My initial thoughts right after I finished this book was, “A little slow, a lot wordy but still okay”.

So, this book follows Eloise as she reconnects with her high school besties. Eloise, Lynne and Theresa were high school friends who drifted apart and come together at a funeral, 20 years later. They reconnect by daring each other to live life outside of their comfort zones with each other for help.

Eloise is a personal chef who always dreamed of owning her own restaurant but never pursued the dream so she has learned to be content with taking care of her clients and treating them like family. She likes her life just fine, or at least she thought she did until she was shown just how out of touch she is with her happiness. She hasn’t dated anyone since her last boyfriend, years and years ago and she isn’t in any rush to date anyone since she’s still got some scars from Bernard in Paris (the ex-boyfriend) but with the help of her friends, she starts putting herself out there and she really comes into her own because of all of that.

The story also follows her friends as they complete their list but for the most part, the story revolves around Eloise. Eloise, as she makes changes in her life, lets people in and falls in love. I liked Eloise and I liked the story but for the most part, it was slow going and the dialogue was very wordy. Especially the foodie stuff. I kept waiting for something to pop off but nothing really happens. Sure, Eloise evolves as the story goes on but that’s about it. I guess I never felt like I was a part of the story. I felt like I was being told what happened and …that’s it. All of the food stuff went right over my head and I glossed over a lot of it because I didn’t think it was necessary. They didn’t really add anything to the story being told so I could have done without it.

The other characters were nice additions to round out the cast. I liked Eloise’s clients and her friends. They were interesting and charming. The overall story was interesting and I liked it enough to try another one of Stacey Ballis’ books.

Grade: 3 out of 5


Tagged: , , , , ,

Review: Wired by Julie Garwood

Posted July 25, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Wired by Julie GarwoodReviewer: Rowena
Wired by Julie Garwood
Series: Buchanan-Renard Series #13
Also in this series: Wired, Wired
Published by Penguin, Berkley
Publication Date: July 4th 2017
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 336
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble

A beautiful computer hacker and a bad-boy FBI agent must collaborate—in more ways than one—in the sizzling new novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Julie Garwood.

Allison Trent doesn’t look like a hacker. In fact, when she’s not in college working on her degree, she models on the side. But behind her gorgeous face is a brilliant mind for computers and her real love is writing—and hacking—code. Her dream is to write a new security program that could revolutionize the tech industry.

Hotshot FBI agent Liam Scott has a problem: a leak deep within his own department. He needs the skills of a top-notch hacker to work on a highly sensitive project: to secretly break into the FBI servers and find out who the traitor is. But he can’t use one of his own. He finds the perfect candidate in Allison. Only, there’s one problem—she wants nothing to do with his job and turns him down flat.

What Liam doesn’t know is that Allison is hiding secrets that she doesn’t want the FBI to uncover. But Liam will do nearly anything to persuade her to join his team, even break a few rules if that’s what it takes. A temptation that could put his job—and both of their futures—on the line…and longing for more . . .

It’s been quite a while since I’ve read a Julie Garwood contemporary and unlike a lot of others, I don’t mind them. Sure, I’m a bigger fan of her older work but her newer stuff does its job of entertaining me. I liked this book fine but I will say that I liked a lot of her other contemporaries a lot more.

I’ve been curious about Liam Scott ever since we met him and I was curious to see what his character was really all about since at one time, I didn’t care for him and then he grew on me and yet, I didn’t feel like I really knew him. Going into this book, I was all about getting to know Liam and it’s a bit disappointing to say that I still don’t feel like we quite got to know him.

Wired follows Liam Scott as he investigates a mole in the FBI and he needs the help of a really smart hacker that looks like sin on a stick. Her name is Allison Trent and she’s just about finished with college and wondering what happens next. He needs her help so she agrees to help him with this project but when she finds his mole, she’s out of the FBI. She’s not interested in working for the FBI. Each day that passes, Allison works on trying to find the mole and Liam works on trying to not jump her bones. It’s not easy because Liam is always with her. Whether he’s supposed to be or not, he keeps her near and he wants to help her with everything in her life. Her work. Her punk ass guardians and anything else that she’d let him help her with.

The romance between Liam and Allison was kind of abrupt. It felt more like lust for a huge chunk of the book because I couldn’t quite believe that they were in love with each other. That they fell in love so quickly. There was something missing in the romance that didn’t win me over completely. Maybe it was because after the book was done, I didn’t feel like I knew Liam as much as I hoped I would. Allison seemed like the perfect woman. She was the genius computer hacker that the FBI was drooling over AND she was gorgeous as shit. A freaking model to boot! Allison was too perfect to be real even with her shitty ass upbringing. I didn’t fully connect with either of them and that was disappointing.

Overall, this book was okay. I liked the book fine. I enjoyed the story even if the romance lacked meat. Liam had potential to be a fabulously sexy hero but I was a bit let down that we don’t really get much of Liam, the man. We get a whole lot of Liam, the FBI Agent. Allison was a strong heroine but I didn’t fully connect with her because she was too perfect. All in all, it was a good story but nowhere near one of Garwood’s bests.

Grade: 3 out of 5


Tagged: , , , , , , ,