Tag: Reviews

Joint Review: A Wallflower Christmas by Lisa Kleypas

Posted December 13, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 12 Comments

Joint Review: A Wallflower Christmas by Lisa KleypasReviewer: Casee, Holly and Rowena
A Wallflower Christmas by Lisa Kleypas
Series: The Wallflowers #5
Also in this series: Again The Magic, The Devil in Winter, Scandal in Spring
Published by Macmillan
Publication Date: November 2nd 2010
Pages: 224
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four-half-stars

New York Times bestselling author Lisa Kleypas invites you to spend the holidays with the Wallflowers—four young London ladies who finally found the men of their dreams...and will join together once more to help the world's most notorious rogue meet his match.
The magic of Christmas
Rafe Bowman has just arrived from America for his arranged meeting with Natalie, the very proper and beautiful daughter of Lady and Lord Blandford. His chiseled good looks and imposing physique are sure to impress the lady-in-waiting, and if it weren't for his shocking American ways and wild reputation, her hand would already be guaranteed. Before the courtship can begin, Rafe realizes he must learn the rules of London society. But when four former Wallflowers try their hand at matchmaking, no one knows what will happen...
BEGINS under the mistletoeWinning a bride turns out to be more complicated than Rafe Bowman anticipated, especially for a man accustomed to getting anything he wants. However, Christmas works in the most unexpected ways, changing a cynic to a romantic...and inspiring passion in the most timid of hearts.
"Splendid romance."—Booklist

*****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.*****

Holly: The three of us haven’t done a review together in awhile. I remember how much I loved this series. Getting this novella was such an lovely bonus.

This post was originally published October 14, 2008

 

It’s been awhile since we did a joint review here at Book Binge, but when Rowena, Casee, and I realized we’d all read A Wallflower Christmas by Lisa Kleypas, we decided to do one. Please note: There will be spoilers below.

Holly: It was great seeing the Wallflowers again, though I’m glad the story wasn’t totally focused on them. I adored Hannah and Rafe both. There was something very real about them and their relationship. I think Hannah’s understanding of her situation was very well done. I really didn’t like Lady Natalie, though. I’m not sure if LK meant for her to be a sympathetic character, but I didn’t buy it. Especially the way she treated Hannah when she didn’t get her way.

Rowena: I KNOW! I am not a fan of Natalie’s. I hated the way that she treated Hannah, especially when she wanted to spend time alone with Rafe. The way she talked down to Hannah in front of Rafe as if that made her cooler to Rafe seriously pissed me off and sealed her fate for me as the tramp I didn’t like at all.

But, I LOVED THIS BOOK! I thought it was such a fast and cute holiday read. I loved how The Wallflowers were all reunited and happily married. It was fun to see them all band together to help Hannah and I loved the whole Cinderella theme as well.

Rafe was a hottie of a hero, loved him! I loved his personality and I loved his hotness and I just effing loved him! The way he was with Hannah and the way that he was with his sisters and the kids. He was an all around great hero.

Hannah was great too! I loved how we saw her change her mind about Rafe. I loved how smart she was and how she wasn’t afraid to show how smart she was and I loved how easy it was for her to befriend the Wallflowers and fit in with them. She was great, great, great.

Casee: I couldn’t stand Lady Natalie. The way she treated Hannah was just awful, especially in front of Rafe. I thought I would like her b/c of how amused she was when Hannah told her about meeting Rafe. But then she just seemed spiteful and petty.

I loved the first meeting between them. The way Hannah was so apalled by Rafe’s manners was freaking funny.

Like Rowena said, it was a fast and cute holiday read. I really enjoyed it.

H: Natalie was very much the spoiled child. I’m still not clear if LK meant for her to be likable or not. I mean, were we supposed to want her to end up happy, just not with Rafe? I certainly didn’t feel that way in the end. I wanted her to get her comeuppance. I loved that the Wallflowers kind of jumped in and took Hannah under their wing. The scene where they find the letter from Rafe and are examining it is hilarious. It starts with one and then another pops her head in and they all said the same thing, “Hannah found a letter. It’s a secret. Come in.” Adorable. I liked Rafe, too. He was very chivalrous. The way he joked and teased them was great. I definitely loved the intimacy he and Hannah established right in the beginning. How they talked to each other about things and really listened to each other. Oh! How about that first kiss? Scorching! One thing that really bothered me was Lilian. Why in the world would she think Westcliff was cheating on her? That really didn’t ring true for me at all. She was always self-assured and confident and having her question herself and Marcus just..didn’t work. Is that just me?

R: I hope she wasn’t meant to be likeable because I didn’t like that little tramp at all. So crosses fingers not meant to be likeable.

Me too. I thought that adding the Wallflowers into the story would kind of take away from my enjoyment of Rafe and Hannah but that wasn’t the case at all. I think LK did a fantastic job of writing them into the story without them stealing the thunder away from Hannah and Rafe. I loved the scene that you mentioned because it showed us just how close each of the Wallflowers are and even after all this time and then all the time spent apart to see them all together again and acting as if they had spent everyday together was great to see and I was glad that they all came together to help Hannah, it was cute, adorable and oh so right.

That first kiss was…wow. I loved it, it was right then that I fell like a rock for Rafe. So confident and cocky and sexy he was and I ate it all up.

One of my favorite scenes was the one where Hannah gets roped into helping the little kid get the toupee back….oh how frickin’ hilarious that was.

As for the whole Lillian thing, she’s never been a favorite of mine but I do agree that her insecurities about Marcus threw me off a bit because of the Lillian we all knew from the other books. I didn’t think anything of it though, it was just a fleeting thought, one I didn’t dwell on at all so all of that was, BLAH.

C: I really thought Natalie was going to end up being a heroine in a novella with one of the Bowman twin brothers. That was at the beginning when she seemed likeable. After reading the book, though, I’m not interested in reading about her at all.

The scene about Rafe’s letter and all the Wallflowers coming in was probably my favorite scene in the whole book. I just really thought that it really highlighted why these four women became the best of friends in the most unlikely of circumstances. Hannah fit right in and I loved how they took her under their collective wing.

I agree to a certain point about the Lillian thing. I think that LK was trying to show that even a woman as strong as Lillian can have insecurities. Lillian was never a favorite of mine, either, but I really felt bad for her. The part for me that was totally un-Lillian like was when she asked Marcus to be discreet. The Lillian we knew would have bashed his head with whatever heavy object was at hand.

H: You know, at first I didn’t realize there was even an outside story involved (when we first heard the title, but had no synopses, I mean). I thought it was just going to be a reunion of the Wallflowers. I’m glad we got a glimpse of each of them (St. Vincent is effing hot!), but you’re right, they balanced the story rather than taking it over. Oh, that scene when she got stuck on the ledge was wonderful! I really liked not only Rafe rescuing her, but also the scene after, where they decorated the tree as a family. The wager they made and the forfeit Rafe had to give up made me all melty inside. I heart him.

R: Oh yes! I know what you mean, I loved the little forfeit thing, I got all gooey inside, it was great. I’m telling you, this story was another fantastic LK book and I really, really enjoyed it.

The only thing that I was miffed about was that I didn’t think we got enough Simon and Annabelle. I feel like after their story, they were done. They’re mentioned and they’re around but we don’t get to see as much of them as we do of the others, the same with Matthew and Daisy. Those two couples are my favorite in the series and we either hear about how they’re doing or they’re in the background whereas Lillian and Marcus are always around and have parts in other books as well as Seb and Evie, and as much as I love them, I want to see more of the others.

Is that too much to ask for? Maybe but it doesn’t stop me from wanting more sexy Simon and magnificent Matthew…=)

C: I wished there was more of Simon and Anabelle, too! Am I the only one that thought it was weird that Anabelle refers to Simon as “Mr. Hunt” to the Wallflowers? I’ve always thought that seemed so impersonal.

I’m re-reading Devil in Winter right now. I loved getting the small glimpse back into St. Vincent and Evie. Those two…sigh

I thought it was just going to be a Wallflower reunion book, too. I’m glad that we got a little of everything. Getting a new love story along w/ reading more about the Wallflowers, what could be better?

H: You know, it’s funny, but I think Lilian and Marcus are the least favorite Wallflowers by pretty much everyone, but they’re the ones that crop up most often. Even Evie and Seb take a backseat to them. Do you think LK is playing favorites? LOL

Overall I’d say this is a total winner. The main romance between Hannah and Rafe is very well done and the Wallflowers really enhanced the story. I had a couple gripes, but it goes in the keeper pile and I know I’ll pick it up again. 4 out of 5 You?

R: I agree, overall the story was completely well done. The romance between Rafe and Hannah was great and easy to fall into. Great characters, great storyline makes for a winner for me and I think LK did a fab job!

4.5 out of 5 for me.

C: I was completely happy when I closed this book. I thought it was a perfect Christmas read. The only thing that would have made it better was an appearance by Derek Craven. Heh.

4.25 out of 5.

Grades:
Casee: 4.25 out of 5
Holly: 4. out of 5
Rowena: 4.25 out of 5

The Series:

  

This book is available from St. Martin’s Press. You can buy it here.

four-half-stars


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Guest Review: A Duke in Shining Armor by Loretta Chase

Posted December 13, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 2 Comments

Guest Review: A Duke in Shining Armor by Loretta ChaseReviewer: Tracy
A Duke in Shining Armor by Loretta Chase
Series: Difficult Dukes #1
Also in this series: A Duke in Shining Armor (Difficult Dukes, #1)
Published by Avon
Publication Date: November 28th 2017
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 400
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five-stars

Not all dukes are created equal. Most are upstanding members of Society. And then there’s the trio known as Their Dis-Graces.

Hugh Philemon Ancaster, seventh Duke of Ripley, will never win prizes for virtue. But even he draws the line at running off with his best friend’s bride. All he’s trying to do is recapture the slightly inebriated Lady Olympia Hightower and return her to her intended bridegroom.

For reasons that elude her, bookish, bespectacled Olympia is supposed to marry a gorgeous rake of a duke. The ton is flabbergasted. Her family’s ecstatic. And Olympia? She’s climbing out of a window, bent on a getaway. But tall, dark, and exasperating Ripley is hot on her trail, determined to bring her back to his friend. For once, the world-famous hellion is trying to do the honorable thing.

So why does Olympia have to make it so deliciously difficult for him . . . ?

Olympia is a girl who should be quite happy to be marrying a duke.  She knows that she needs to do this because her parents have no idea how to handle money and she wants to make sure that her 5 brothers are cared for.  Unfortunately, on her wedding day, the more she thinks about marrying the Duke of  Ashmont the more she realizes she just can’t do.  Olympia, the bookish girl who nobody thinks will step out of line, does a runner.

The Duke of Ripley, on of the Duke of Ashmont’s best friends, sees Olympia run for it and follows.  He tries to get her to return to her wedding but the farther away they get the more Ripley realizes that he doesn’t want her to return.  He wants her for himself but he knows he can’t betray his best friend like that.  He and Ashmont have been best friends for years and Ripley’s loyal to him.  So how come he can’t get Olympia out of his head.

Loretta Chase does it again!  She’s written a fun, entertaining, humorous romance with a premise I never expected.  The charm that Chase stuffed into ADiSA was amazing.  I was smiling or laughing throughout most of the story and I loved it.

Both Ripley and Olympia were great characters and I loved them together.  I loved that Olympia wasn’t afraid to speak her mind about Their Dis-graces (Ripley, Ashmont and their friend the Duke of Blackwood) and her disdain for them.  Of course the more that Olympia got to know Ripley she realized that there wasn’t just fluff in his head.  She truly didn’t want to hurt Ashmont but she felt he was immature enough to get over it quickly. Lol  Of course Chase wrote some incredible secondary characters as well with Blackwood, Ashmont, and Ripley’s aunt Julia.

The overall story is one that I loved and highly recommend.  If you like fun, irreverent historical romances then this is one you should definitely read.

Rating: 5 out of 5

five-stars


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Guest Review: Chaos and Control by Season Vining

Posted December 12, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 2 Comments

Guest Review: Chaos and Control by Season ViningReviewer: Tracy
Chaos and Control by Season Vining
Published by Entangled Publishing. LLC (Embrace)
Publication Date: December 11th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
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four-stars

When Wren Hart returns to her sleepy little Midwest town after years on the road, she finds the last thing she’d ever expect—a reason to stay. And that reason has a hard body, a knowledge of vinyl, and a crooked smile that sends her reeling.

Preston is a gorgeous, mysterious man, whose life is ruled by routine and order. Yet somehow, he finds Wren and her wild ways captivating. While their relationship grows in a delicate dance of chaos and control, the danger Wren thought she'd left behind during her travels is inching ever closer…and just may destroy them both.

Running from an abusive boyfriend, Wren heads back to her hometown in Kansas.  When she returns she fins her much older sister still running her record store, but she also finds Preston, a gorgeous man who seems to have a few control issues.

Wren has been traveling for the past 3 years and hasn’t kept in touch all that much with her sister, Bennie.  Bennie was the one who raised her when her parents didn’t want much to do with Wren, their very late addition to their family.  Bennie has always been there for Wren and she is once again when Wren needs her.

Wren can’t seem to keep away from Preston, even though she knows she might not be the best one for him.  She doesn’t plan on staying in town and Preston’s OCD forces him to be on a rigid schedule at all times.  Despite their differences Wren and Preston start to make things work.  Unfortunately, life throws Wren some serious curve balls and she finds that her life changes whether she wants it to or not.

This was a sweet story that I really enjoyed reading.

Wren was definitely a free spirit but I thought that she was perfect for Preston – even with all of his OCD issues.  I loved that Vining wrote her hero with OCD and did such a great job at portraying this disorder.  I know from experience that it can be very stressful on friends and family of those with OCD but in Wren’s case she found it endearing and actually pretty hot.  Go Wren. 🙂  Preston was a great hero and I enjoyed him so much.  I loved that he found Wren a calming effect rather than seeing her a too chaotic.

Bennie, Wren’s sister, played a large role in the story and I liked her a lot as well. I don’t even really want to call her a secondary character because she was so central to the story.  She was a great person and loved her sister to pieces.

Overall I really liked this story and liked Vining’s writing. I definitely recommend this great contemporary romance.

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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Guest Review: Company Ink by Kat Coburn

Posted December 8, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Company Ink by Kat CoburnReviewer: Tracy
Company Ink by Kat Coburn
Published by Self-Published
Publication Date: December 7th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
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three-half-stars

I think this might be someone else’s story… because it certainly doesn’t feel like mine anymore.

I can still remember a time when I was happy, when I didn’t go to sleep each night with a stress headache, and wake up each morning and cry because I no longer recognized my own life. A sick parent, a job I can’t stand, a company I hate, and too many people counting on me to stick it out and be strong. This can’t be my story.

I guess I’m an unlikely heroine anyway- sarcastic and feisty, and more than one person has called me foulmouthed. Yeah, I guess it’s pretty unlikely that there is a hero and a white horse in my future.

Enter Dan Kelly. The new smoking hot vice president at this horrible company. He’s offered me a way out, one more shot at my dreams and the life I always wanted. He stands too close to my desk with his cocky smirk and makes it hard to type, he pushes our workplace flirting until it’s all I can do not to beg him to bend me over his desk, he challenges me, makes me want to argue with him until our fights verge on something… more.

He makes me feel alive like no other. He makes me feel like there just might be a happily ever after in my future.

The problem is…. his mountain of secrets.
The problem is… we can’t cross that line or I’ll be fired.
The problem is… he’s my best friend and now I want more.
The problem is… I’m about to be sucked into a story I never imagined I’d be a part of, and I’m not sure if I can make there be a happy ending.

Dani Wallace is a computer geek who had a traitorous ex.  That ex ended up selling their company and in order to stay with the program she made she started working for a corporation.  She hates almost every minute of it but she has to pay her mother’s medical bills.  The job has turned her into someone she doesn’t know or even like and when she meets Dan Kelly she’s not thrilled with him.  She thinks he’s just another corporate jackass.  Fortunately when they start working together they realize that they have a lot in common and soon become friends – best friends.

Dan wants nothing more than to be with Dani forever but at first she thinks he’s married.  When he nips that thought in the bud he realizes all of the lies he’s telling are going to get in the way of his future happiness.  How can he tell Dani who he really is and save their relationship when he can’t make a move on her in the first place?

This was a decent story.  I did feel some pull toward the H/h throughout the story but the way that the book was written parts of it seemed almost clinical.  Definitely more telling than showing and that grew old after a while.

I did really like Dani and Dan and together they were great.  Some of their times together were fun and I enjoyed reading about those.  Unfortunately it took until almost the end of the book before the pair could actually be together and I found that frustrating.  I guess I had really mixed feelings about this one. 🙂

It looks like this is Coburn’s first published book and it was a decent start.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Retro-Review: Must Love Mistletoe by Christie Ridgway

Posted December 6, 2017 by Casee in Reviews | 4 Comments

Retro-Review: Must Love Mistletoe by Christie RidgwayReviewer: Casee
Must Love Mistletoe (Holidays, #1) by Christie Ridgway
Series: Holidays #1
Published by Avon Books
Publication Date: December 1st 2006
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 358
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
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four-stars

Bailey Sullivan can't stand Christmas, even though her family's business is a store specializing in the perfect holiday. But now her hometown's chief supplier of rooftop Rudolphs and treetop angels is in danger of going under--it's up to Bailey to save the shop.

She has it all planned: She'll arrive on December 1 and be gone by Christmas. Plus there's always spiked eggnog to ease the pain. But "Humbug" Bailey's not the only one home for the holidays. Finn Jacobson--legendary local bad boy-turned-Secret Service agent "and" Bailey's long-lost high-school sweetheart--is once again the boy next door. Only this time he's "all grown up," and the sparks are flying faster and hotter than ever!

Bailey believes in true love about as much as she believes in Santa Claus. But as the holiday draws closer, she's starting to think about one thing she'd like to find under her tree . . .

*****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.*****

Holly: I really love some of Ridgway’s books. I can’t remember if I reviewed this book here, but I do remember I really enjoyed it.

This review was originally posted on December 18, 2008.

I know I’ve said this already, but I love Christmas books. My favorite Christmas book of all time is Some Enchanted Season by Marilyn Pappano. I re-read it every year. I’ve had this book for a few years, but I never got around to reading it. This holiday season, I decided that it was just what I needed.

Bailey Sullivan barely tolerates Christmas. Her idea of a good Christmas is to pretend that it’s not Christmas. Unfortunately this Christmas isn’t going to be what she hoped it was. When she finds out that her parents store, The Perfect Christmas, is in trouble, Bailey immediately heads home. From the moment she sets foot back in her hometown, she’s determined to do what needs to be done and get out. Her deadline is December 25th.

Nothing ever goes according to plan, especially when it comes to Christmas.

Finn Jacobson has never forgotten his GND-Girl Next Door. As a rebellious teen, Finn’s parents decided that the best thing for Finn would be to go spend summers with his grandmother. Though he hated it at first, it didn’t take long for him to fall for Bailey, a girl that was so different from the type of person he was. Finn has never forgiven her for leaving town without a word. When she comes back to town, he decides to keep his distance.

Again, nothing ever goes according to plan.

Bailey is a heroine that has issues, but has never admitted that to herself. When her dad walked out when she was little, Bailey remembers her mom’s devastation. That shaped the woman that she’s become. Though she loves her stepfather, Bailey keeps her distance even from him. The fact that her mom and stepfather have separated only proves Bailey’s point. Still, she has a hard time staying away from Finn, the only person that’s understood her.

This was exactly what I was looking for when I picked it up. It had humor and poignancy. The secondary romance between Bailey’s mom and her stepfather was beyond sweet. Bailey’s inner struggle with her feelings for Finn were extremely sad. She doesn’t easily accept that she needs him in her life. But Christmas is a time for miracles, right?

Grade: 4.25 out of 5

four-stars


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