Tag: Random House

Review: Never Love a Highlander by Maya Banks

Posted November 1, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Never Love a Highlander by Maya BanksReviewer: Rowena
Never Love a Highlander (McCabe Trilogy, #3) by Maya Banks
Narrator: Kirsten Potter
Series: McCabe Trilogy #3
Also in this series: In Bed with a Highlander, In Bed with a Highlander, Never Love a Highlander, Seduction of a Highland Lass, In Bed with a Highlander (McCabe Trilogy, #1), Seduction of a Highland Lass (McCabe Trilogy, #2)
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: October 25, 2011
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 305
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Goodreads
four-half-stars

In a tale of strong ties and true love, Maya Banks' trilogy comes to its conclusion, as the youngest McCabe brother uses sword and seduction to save his clan - and seal his heart.

Caelen McCabe’s young, reckless heart nearly destroyed his clan. Now, putting family loyalty above all else, he steps up to marry his older brother’s jilted bride and salvage the uneasy alliance between two clans. While beautiful Rionna McDonald is a fit wife for any man, Caelen trusts no woman, especially not this sweet temptress who torments him with white-hot longing.

As the sacrificial lamb in her father’s power game, Rionna will do her duty but vows to protect her heart and her pride from humiliation. Despite everything, though, the heat in Caelen’s touch melts her defenses, and she craves the sensual delights of a husband who guards his emotions as fiercely as his clan. But when the ultimate battle for the McCabe legacy is upon them, Rionna’s true warrior spirit emerges. She will risk the wrath of her father, the fury of her enemies, and her life to prove to Caelen that his wife’s love is too precious to lose.

Never Love a Highlander is the series finale and boy oh boy, what a finale it was. This book wasn’t as angsty as Seduction of a Highland Lass but it was just as good. I was telling Holly while I was reading this book that Maya Banks did such a great job with this series. This entire series was well written and reading each book just added to my overall enjoyment of these stories. Each story was different and refreshing but one thing that didn’t change through each book was how grumpy Caelen was.

Rionna McDonald has been engaged to all three of the McCabe brothers but it is the youngest of the McCabe’s, Caelen that she will finally marry and his attitude leaves much to be desired. He’s bossy, he’s grumpy and she can’t at all picture a happy future with him. Not that she has much of a choice. With her blessing, Caelen takes over as Laird immediately after they wed and not after their first child is born as originally agreed upon. As you can imagine, Rionna’s father was not happy with that but Caelen doesn’t give a damn and honestly, neither does Rionna. Rionna has grown up knowing that her father was a bad Laird and an even worse father so she can only hope that Caelen is a better Laird and will turn things around for her clan.

When they get back home to the McDonald keep, there is much to be done. Caelen has to earn the respect and loyalty of the McDonald men and Rionna has ideas of how to go about that but Caelen, being the hardheaded asshole that we’ve known throughout this entire series doesn’t listen to her. He’s gotta do it his own way and seeing him work through every defense that the men throw his way went a long way to winning me over to him.

Rionna was such a fantastic heroine. I warmed all the way up toward her character in the last book when we find out how she looked after Keeley and her reasons for her silence on the matter. The amount of love Rionna had for Keeley warmed my heart and seeing her front and center in her own book only served to show me how much more I would come to love her.

The romance between Caelen and Rionna had moments where I was frustrated with how dense Caelen seemed to be about Rionna’s feelings and then he’d explain himself and I couldn’t help but see where he’s coming from. There was a lot of back and forth between them but I was wrapped up in all of their drama. I loved every minute of it.

The entire last half of the book had me shook. From the lengths that Rionna goes to save Caelen, doing what she had to do to make sure that he stayed alive hit me right in my feels and that ending battle? Seeing all of the McCabe brothers fighting side by side to bring the bad guys down? I had pictures of Jon Snow going into battle and coming out victorious running through my head while all of that was going down. I loved it all and when I finished the book, I was a little sad to be done with all of the books. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the McCabes and McDonalds and the way that Banks wrapped up everyone’s stories was so satisfying that she cemented herself on my auto-buy list. This book was good dammit. Go and read this series if you haven’t yet. You won’t be sorry.

4.5 out of 5

McCabe Trilogy

four-half-stars


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Review: America’s Sweetheart by Jessica Lemmon

Posted October 9, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: America’s Sweetheart by Jessica LemmonReviewer: Rowena
America's Sweetheart (Real Love, #5) by Jessica Lemmon
Series: Real Love #5
Also in this series: Eye Candy, Eye Candy (Real Love, #1), Arm Candy, Man Candy (Real Love, #3), Rumor Has It (Real Love, #4)
Publisher: Loveswept
Publication Date: October 2, 2018
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 210
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
four-stars

Old flames burn bright. When a disgraced starlet returns home to lick her wounds, she discovers that her high school sweetheart is just as tempting as ever.

“No one writes big-hearted bad boys like Jessica Lemmon!”—New York Times bestselling author Lori Foster

Allison: When I left for California, I gave myself a new name and never looked back. Now my carefully crafted good-girl image is getting torn to shreds in the press thanks to my Oscar-winning A-hole of an ex-boyfriend. So I escape to the only safe haven I know and trust—my hometown—to take a breather while I plot my triumphant Hollywood comeback. However, when I arrive at my parents’ house, Jackson Burke answers the door instead. And suddenly the past comes rushing back. . . .

Jackson: First kiss. First time. First love. Yep, Allison Murphy and I shared a lot of firsts back in the day. When she left, she took half my heart with her. Now she’s back in town, and even though I swore I’d keep my distance, her parents hired me to remodel their house, and I’m going to finish the job. But one hot kiss later, suddenly the press is calling us the next big celebrity couple. Sure, I’ll play the part, for Allison’s sake—but I refuse to let her close enough to break my heart all over again. . . .

America’s Sweetheart is the fifth book in Jessica Lemmon’s Real Love series and it features a second chance romance that I enjoyed a lot. The hero, Jackson Burke is a character that we met in the last book Rumor Has It. He was Barrett Fox’s best friend and we see him get his happy ending here with his high school sweetheart, Allison Murphy.

Jax and Allie broke up because Allie moved to California to pursue an acting career and Jax didn’t want to live in California. It was too hard for them to maintain a long distance relationship so they ended things and Allie went on to make a name for herself in Hollywood. She’s known to the world as Nina Lockhart but when a scandal breaks, she runs back home to regroup and figure out her next move. She didn’t expect to run into Jackson Burke at her parent’s house and she definitely didn’t expect to fall right back in with him but she needs a friend so why not?

Jax moved on from Allie when she went away. Sure, it sucked when they broke up but he wasn’t going to stop her from pursuing her dream but he also couldn’t live there with her since he had his own plans that kept him closer to home. He’s not doing too bad for himself. He worked for his father’s construction company and learned all that he could so that he could branch out on his own and he’s the owner of his own contracting business and his current job is renovating his ex-girlfriend’s parents bedroom. Sure, it’s weird but he’ll do a good job for them because that’s how he rolls. He wasn’t expecting to run into Allie again after so many years apart while he was working on her parents house but when she’s back in town, their friendship sparks back up again and before either of them know what’s what, they’re falling in love with each other all over again and that spells trouble because how could they possibly think anything would change this time around?

This was one of those character-driven romances that hit just the right spot for me. I enjoyed how effortlessly cool Jax was even though Allie was the celebrity, not him. I loved that he didn’t give a shit what anyone said about him. His masculinity was so sexy and I could see why Allie lost her head over him every time they were in each other’s orbits. The chemistry was evident between them and I thought it was sweet.

Allie was an enjoyable heroine though I thought she spent too much time worrying about what was being said about her online and in the end when she should have stood her ground and didn’t, I was a bit disappointed but her grand gesture more than made up for her earlier screw up and I thought it was a pretty great romance all around. Nothing earth-shattering going on here, just two old sweethearts finding their way back to each other.

Good stuff!

4 out of 5

Real Love

four-stars


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Sunday Spotlight: America’s Sweetheart by Jessica Lemmon

Posted October 7, 2018 by Rowena in Features | 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

America’s Sweetheart by Jessica Lemmon is the fifth book in the Real Love series and it’s a book that I’ve been looking forward to reading because I was curious about Barrett Fox’s best friend in Rumor Has It, Jax. Jax’s story is a second chance story and it features him and his A-List celebrity ex-girlfriend. If you’re interested in a sweet contemporary romance, you should put this book on your TBR pile. It’s a good one so I’m pretty stoked to be featuring it here on the blog today.

Sunday Spotlight: America’s Sweetheart by Jessica LemmonAmerica's Sweetheart (Real Love #5) by Jessica Lemmon
Series: Real Love #5
Also in this series: Eye Candy, Eye Candy (Real Love, #1), Arm Candy, Man Candy (Real Love, #3), Rumor Has It (Real Love, #4), America's Sweetheart (Real Love, #5)
Publisher: Loveswept
Publication Date: October 2, 2018
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 210
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads

Old flames burn bright. When a disgraced starlet returns home to lick her wounds, she discovers that her high school sweetheart is just as tempting as ever.

“No one writes big-hearted bad boys like Jessica Lemmon!”—New York Times bestselling author Lori Foster

Allison: When I left for California, I gave myself a new name and never looked back. Now my carefully crafted good-girl image is getting torn to shreds in the press thanks to my Oscar-winning A-hole of an ex-boyfriend. So I escape to the only safe haven I know and trust—my hometown—to take a breather while I plot my triumphant Hollywood comeback. However, when I arrive at my parents’ house, Jackson Burke answers the door instead. And suddenly the past comes rushing back. . . .

Jackson: First kiss. First time. First love. Yep, Allison Murphy and I shared a lot of firsts back in the day. When she left, she took half my heart with her. Now she’s back in town, and even though I swore I’d keep my distance, her parents hired me to remodel their house, and I’m going to finish the job. But one hot kiss later, suddenly the press is calling us the next big celebrity couple. Sure, I’ll play the part, for Allison’s sake—but I refuse to let her close enough to break my heart all over again. . . .

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Excerpt

After a quick trip downtown, I arrive at the Murphy household Monday afternoon. I’m carrying two milkshakes, one strawberry for Allie and one chocolate–peanut butter for myself. I’m not sure if she wants one or if she’s on some weird Hollywood diet that prohibits her from drinking it, but I want to apologize and flowers seem . . . wrong.

I hesitate at the door before knocking. Tommy and Daryl are on another site today, since we’re still waiting on lumber for the deck here. We need to paint the closet, too, but I wanted to check with Allie’s schedule before filling the house with paint fumes.

The door swings aside, revealing the future receiver of a milkshake. Allie is wearing a short, short miniskirt, her legs temptingly bare. She’s given a few inches of height thanks to a pair of tall sandals, and I absolutely do not linger on the hot pink toenail polish. I jerk my eyes north, encountering several thin gold bracelets and necklaces on the way. Her hair is swept up on top of her head, a pencil jutting out of the sloppy bun.

Wide brown eyes take inventory of me—but I can’t tell if she approves of my uniform of well-worn Levi’s and a white T-shirt or not.

“Milkshake?” I offer awkwardly. We’re not what we used to be to each other and we’re not interested in being anything else. It’s an odd limbo.

“What flavor?” Her eyebrows arch with interest.

“Strawberry. It’s from UDF. Your favorite.” I frown in thought. “Or it used to be, anyway. There’s a smoothie shack in town, but I wasn’t sure if you were a shot-of-wheatgrass kind of girl or if you liked fruit.”

Yep. Definitely not getting any less awkward.

“So you bought me a milkshake,” she states.

“Yeah.”

“It’s not like I’m preparing for a part anyway.” She holds out her hand and I place the cold cup in it. Our fingers brush and that subtle touch stirs some unnamed thing between us. For me, anyway.

She shuffles aside and invites me in. “I didn’t think you were working today.”

I step into the foyer. The A/C is cranked and it feels fantastic.

“My guys aren’t, but there are things I can do. We’ll need to paint here in the next week or so. If you can arrange to be away for a day, it’d probably be better than breathing fumes.”

She puts the straw to her lips and sucks the pink milkshake into her mouth. Her eyes close and she lets out an Mmm that borders on orgasmic.

“It’s been forever since I’ve had a milkshake. Like, a real one.” Her gaze softens on mine, her smile easy. She used to look at me like that all the time. And when she did, I never was able to resist pulling her close, bending low, and kissing her mouth.

“Live a little. Or a lot. It’s your vacation.” I clear my throat to dislodge the lust clogging it. “Or whatever this is.”

“Hiatus.” She quirks one eyebrow.

“What’s with the pencil?”

She reaches up and plucks it from her hair. “Oh, right. I forgot about that. I was having trouble typing out my ideas, so I found a pencil in the junk drawer and went on a search for paper. I thought maybe changing my medium might help the ideas flow better.”

“Writing?”

“Yeah.” Shyly, she looks away. “I had this idea for a screenplay. I don’t know. It’s probably stupid, but I need something to do besides sit around and read articles about myself.”

A shrill beep, beep, beep comes from the kitchen.

“My oven fries are done. Want some?”

“With my milkshake? Hell, yeah.” We share a smile and I wonder if she’s remembering the many, many fries she’d dipped into one Wendy’s Frosty or another during the summers when we went out.

Positioned at the stove, she scoops the fries from pan to plate and serves them on the island with a bottle of ketchup riding sidecar. We dig in, each pulling the lids off our shakes and dunking a hot fry into the ice cream, reserving the ketchup for later. Or maybe not at all.

“Strawberry’s still my favorite.” She smiles up at me.

“Good.”

We both reach for another fry.

“I’m not sure where I stand with you,” she says. “We used to be great friends, and then . . . you know, boyfriend and girlfriend, and then we broke up. Now we’re something else. Not strangers but not friends.”

I don’t comment since there’s nothing to say. She’s right. We’re not strangers and we’re not friends.

“Do you think we could be? If not friends, then friendly?”

“Friendly.” I grunt the word. It’s unflattering and makes me sound like a golden retriever.

“We’re capable of amicability if the milkshakes and fries are any indicator.” She gestures with a fry. “And I’m going to see you on and off with this project you have going on for Mom and Dad. It would be nice if we could coexist.”

“Have you talked to them yet?” I ask rather than weigh in on the are-we-or-aren’t-we conversation she spearheaded. It’s too loaded. There are a lot of variables.

“I texted my dad to tell him to have fun and tell Mom I love her. I asked her if she was worried and he said yes, but he assured her that I was a big girl and everything would turn out fine. I hope he’s right about everything turning out fine.” She presses her lips together as if turning over how much more to share. Finally, she says, “I mentioned I was staying here. He said they felt better that you were around so that I wouldn’t be alone.”

Basically what my Mom had hinted at. Allie was home and upset and she needed a friend. All eyes are on me. Evidently I am a golden retriever.

“It’s bigger than I realized,” I admit. “The media attention on you.”

Her eyebrows jump.

“Did you do it?”

“Are you asking if I stole the Oscar from Millie?”

“Yeah.”

“You want to know if I showed up at her party, at her house where I’ve never been before, and snatched an Academy Award off her shelf? Haven’t you heard the news? Seen the photos? I’m carrying it under a coat on the way to the valet at Millie’s house. It was Nina in the den with the Oscar!”

I could do without the smart-ass comments.

“It doesn’t matter what happened,” she continues, somber, “only how it’s being perceived. In Hollywood, you’re guilty until proven innocent, and if you’re proven innocent later the damage to your reputation is already done. There’s a reason the saying ‘You’ll never work in this town again’ exists.”

I’m beginning to think that my mom was right. Maybe Allie didn’t do it.

“Friendly,” I say, looping back to our earlier conversation. It seems safer than this one. “Surely we can manage that.”

Real Love

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.

Sunday Spotlight: October 2018

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

Jessica Lemmon

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | PINTEREST
| GOODREADS

Jessica Lemmon is the bestselling author of over twenty novels. Her work has been honored with awards such as RT Top Pick!, iBooks Best Book of the Month, and Amazon Best Book of the Month. She has also been recommended by USA Today and NPR.com. She has achieved the rank of #1 bestseller on Nook as well as earned a seal of excellence nomination from RT Book Reviews.

She tackles tough relationships and emotions in her books, delivering a deep, satisfying experience for readers while still maintaining humor and fun.


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Review: The Breakup by Erin McCarthy

Posted September 26, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 3 Comments

Review: The Breakup by Erin McCarthyReviewer: Rowena
The Breakup (The Jordan Brothers #2) by Erin McCarthy
Series: The Jordan Brothers #2
Also in this series: The Hookup (The Jordan Brothers #1), The Hookup (The Jordan Brothers, #1), The Breakup
Publisher: Loveswept
Publication Date: August 28, 2018
Point-of-View: First
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
three-stars

Can two wrongs feel oh-so-right? This bride is about to find out—with the bad boy who makes an epic breakup worth her while.

Bella: I know I’m a princess. I’m used to getting what I want. But all I ever really wanted was a husband and a family. Unlike my sister, Sophie, I’ll never have a brilliant career to fall back on. So what’s a bride to do when she learns that Prince Charming is a cheating snake just a few days before her fairy-tale wedding? With my fiancé begging for another chance, the only way to save the wedding is to even things out with a little revenge sex—and local bartender Christian Jordan seems like the right man for the job.

Christian: If gorgeous Bella Bigelow thinks sleeping with me will somehow lead to happily ever after, I’m not going to turn her down. The guy she wants to marry is a jerk, and her sister is fooling around with my estranged twin brother, Cain. So what’s the problem? Besides falling for a woman who doesn’t know what she wants out of life? All I want to do is whisk her away from that church, take her to a cabin in the woods, and act out all our naughtiest fantasies. And I may just get the chance. . . .

The Breakup is the second book in the Jordan Brothers series and it follows two characters from The Hookup that I just could not care about. The siblings of the characters from The Hookup. I really enjoyed the first book and wanted some closure where the rift between the two Jordan brothers were concerned so even though I wasn’t a huge fan of both Bella and Christian before, I still wanted to read this book.

When Bella discovers that her fiance is a lying scumbag, she can’t go through with the wedding but the dingbat waits until the last possible second to end things so Christian has to come and sweep her off to his family cabin to hide away for a few days. Christian and Bella have been circling each other, an attraction between them but nothing came of it because Bella was getting ready to marry Brad. When her situation changes, Christian jumps at his chance to prove to Bella that she’s not bad in bed (as Brad would have her believe).

Honestly, this whole book was kind of ridiculous. I was frustrated with Bella for most of the book because she’s kind of whiny and acts like a brat and I’m too old for that shit. I loved her sister’s personality in the first book, her wit and how strong Sophie was. Bella didn’t get the same kind of love from me that Sophie did. Sure, she’s strong and she really does come into her own but I didn’t completely shake my annoyance with her so my enjoyment of the book suffered because of it.

Christian kind of came off as a fuckboy in the beginning and in the end, he was a lot better but he wasn’t my favorite either. So, we finally find out the truth about what happened between him and Ali (his brother’s ex) and how the rift between him and Cain became a thing and while I was able to forgive him for that, he continued to piss me off. The way that he chose to handle things had me shaking my head and even when the end comes and everything is all happy go lucky again, I thought it happened too fast and I wasn’t completely satisfied. I almost DNF’d this one but even though this book pissed me off, it was still readable and I couldn’t give it up until the end. Still, grrrr.

Grade: 2.5 out of 5

Jordan Brothers

three-stars


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Review: Down with Love by Kate Meader

Posted August 28, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Down with Love by Kate MeaderReviewer: Rowena
Down with Love (Laws of Attraction, #1) by Kate Meader
Series: Laws of Attraction #1
Publisher: Loveswept
Publication Date: August 7, 2018
Point-of-View: First
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 237
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
three-stars

Sparks fly when the hot-shot divorce lawyer meets the high-powered wedding planner. The only question is, what kind?

If you ever get married, remember my name: Max Henderson. In my line of work, you acquire a certain perspective on supposedly everlasting unions. . . .

1. Pre-nups are your friend. 2. The person you married is not the person you’re divorcing. 3. And I hope you didn’t spend much on the wedding because that was one helluva waste of hard-earned cash, wasn’t it?

But some guys are willing to take a chance. Like my brother, who thinks he’s going to ride off into the sunset with the woman of his dreams in a haze of glitter on unicorns. And the wedding planner—the green-eyed beauty who makes a living convincing suckers to shell out thousands of dollars on centerpieces—is raking it in on this matrimonial monstrosity.

The thing is, Charlie Love is not unlike me. We’re both cogs in the wedding-industrial complex. As the best man, I know her game—and I can play it better than her. But after one scorching, unexpected kiss, I’m thinking I might just want to get played.

Down with Love kicks off Kate Meaders brand-spankin’ new series, the Laws of Attraction series and the first book features a divorce attorney and a wedding planner. Should be fun, right?

Right.

Max Henderson sees the aftermath of love at work so he’s learned that for himself, he wants nothing to do with it. He’ll take the sex and the fun but the feelings and all of that madness are not for him. So when his younger brother announces his engagement, Max wants to be happy but he also wants to make sure that his younger brother isn’t taken for a ride. So he starts going on and on about prenups and everything his younger brother wants no part in and Max struggles with keeping his opinions to himself and that’s made even harder when he finds himself attracted to the wedding planner.

Charlie Love believes in love and she believes in creating memories for the happy couples that come to her for help in planning their big day. She’s good at what she does and she believes in happy endings, no matter how much shit her latest client’s brother throws in her face. He’s the most irritating person and she’s not at all happy that he’s attracted to her and she’s attracted right back. It’s going to be an interesting few months and no matter what, she’s stuck with Max Henderson underfoot at every turn.

Max and Charlie were a fun couple though Charlie was super extra in her interactions with Max throughout most of the book. I kept wanting to tell her to relax because, damn girl??? And then once I’m over her extra-ness then it was Max’s turn to get on my nerves and I wanted to smack some sense into both of them.

Overall, the story isn’t my favorite from Meader but it was still enjoyable. I did like getting to know Max and his family, seeing them embrace Charlie right from the beginning was fun and I really liked the friendships on both sides with Max and his partners and then Charlie and her best friends. They had a good support system but their romance kept making me roll my eyes but the sex was hot though. 🙂

Grade: 3.25 out of 5

Laws of Attraction

three-stars


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