Tag: Romance

Joint Review: Complicated by Kristen Ashley

Posted January 10, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 7 Comments

Joint Review: Complicated by Kristen AshleyReviewer: Holly and Rowena
Complicated by Kristen Ashley
Published by Kristen Ashley
Publication Date: November 7th, 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 571
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

When small town Nebraska sheriff Hixon Drake meets Greta Dare, the connection couldn’t be stronger, but the timing couldn’t be worse.

Dealing with the fallout of a divorce he never wanted and setting up a new home for his kids, Hix becomes that guy, that one he never wanted to be, and puts a stop to things before they can even start. Protecting his kids, and himself, is his only priority.

Greta, on the other hand, has found the place for her and the brother she adores that’s perfect for them—a sleepy little town in Nebraska. She’s learned from life that there are no hopes and dreams. The only thing to look forward to is peace. And that’s what she works hard to build for herself and her brother. Right up until Hix walks into her life.

Hix can’t fight the pull and stay away from Greta for long. And Greta’s finding it hard not to hope for something more with all the promise that is Hix.

But when the first murder that’s happened in over five decades rocks his small, sleepy county, Hix has got to learn to trust again, convince Greta to take a shot with him, and at the same time catch a killer.

In other words, things are definitely…Complicated.

Complicated by Kristen Ashley follows Hixton Drake and Greta Dare as they fall in love amidst a lot of small-town drama, a murder, a jealous ex and lots of other complications that get in the way of them being them. Hixton is dealing with a divorce that he didn’t want and Greta has her own fair share of life worries that keep her busy but they’re drawn to each other over and over again and sometimes, you can’t walk away from that connection. Not when it’s probably best.

Rowena: Alright, so it took me a while to read this book because that page count? Holy cow, KA books are so long but even with all of those pages to get through, I enjoyed this one. I thought it was a sweet romance and I really liked Greta. And Hix. Mostly, Greta though.

What did you think?

Holly: KA can definitely be long winded. This book could have been cut down by at least 100 pages, maybe 200.

Rowena: I’m not sure if it’s because I don’t read very many of KA’s books but I seemed to have enjoyed this one a lot more than most of the readers that I know who have read it. Sure, it was hella long, but I was still invested in everything that was going on and I really enjoyed getting to know Hix, Greta and everyone else. From Lou and her girls, Andy and then Hix’s kids (especially Shaw), I loved everyone…except Hope. I hated her until I didn’t hate her but I never really liked her.

Holly: I didn’t dislike it, but it isn’t KA’s best. I prefer it when KA books have more angst. Wasn’t Shaw great, though? I loved him. He was such an awesome kid. I wouldn’t mind if KA wrote a book for him later.

Rowena: Yeah, I can see what you mean. That’s exactly what Ames said about the book. She wants more angst too. Yes! Shaw was fantastic. You know, he kind of reminded me of your son. Very stand up and just sweet all around. Total good kid and you know that they’re going to grow up to be a great guy. I wouldn’t mind getting a book for Shaw, too. Down the road though. He needs to go and be a Marine and learn how to be a man.

Holly: I do have a pretty great son. 🙂 I agree Shaw needs to grow up first, but some day in the future I’d be interested in his book.

Hope was an idiot. Why she let Hix get away is a total mystery to me.

Rowena: The whole Hope thing, goodness, how stupid was she? It really spoke to the kind of person that Hix was that so many of his kids wanted to live with him and not his mean ass ex-wife. I loved how Greta had a fan club and a support system in her customers and friends. She was really lucky though it wasn’t hard to see why they were so loyal to her. She earned their respect and their loyalty so Hope’s plan to destroy her totally backfired and I loved seeing Hope fall on her ass.

Holly: I loved that the town rallied behind Greta even though they were pulling for Hix and Hope in the beginning. Every time Lou announced one of them switched to Greta’s side I snickered. I do like that Hope was quasi-redeemed in the end. Ashley is good at that.

I really liked Greta. She was great all the way around. Sure of herself, caring and compassionate, willing and able to stick up for herself. I loved how she took care of her brother and her friends.

Rowena: I thought Greta was great too. I loved how she took care of everyone, including Hix. I loved that she was sure in the person that she was and didn’t need Hix to be around all the time. She was understanding of his situation and wasn’t afraid to get her some when she could without needing an engagement ring. She was a strong, independent woman and I really liked her.

Holly: Her teasing Hix and making him food was so cute. Her independence was one of her best qualities. She didn’t need to be with Hix all the time. She was happy to do her own thing.

What did you think of her ex?

Rowena: Greta’s ex was meh to me. I felt more for her Mom than him. I felt a lot of rage where her Mom was concerned but for Keith? Meh.

Holly: The bits with Greta’s ex could have been cut completely. I don’t even know why that scene was included. OMG, don’t get me started on her mom, though. That crazy bitch needed to get smacked upside the head. By Greta.

Rowena: I really enjoyed getting to know Andy and I really loved how complex Greta’s feelings were for Andy, who he could and should have been but still loving who he is now. Greta was damn near perfect, don’t you think?

Holly: I thought Greta’s feelings about her brother and his situation were so authentic. Her joy in his personality, along with her sadness over what he could have been. My heart broke for them both. You’re right, she was damn near perfect, wasn’t she? Well, except what a terrible loser she was when she and Hix wrestled. haha

Hix was…not the best KA hero. Usually her heroes are great, but he didn’t really stand out. I kind of felt like it wasn’t necessarily Greta for him, but any woman would have done. He needed someone to care for. She just happened to be the one.

Rowena: I enjoyed Hix. I enjoyed that he tried to do the right thing for his loved ones and while he’s not my favorite KA hero, he’s not my least favorite either. I liked the way that he took care of everyone. He was sexy as hell, too. Yum.

Overall, this book was great fun for me. I liked that this story fit the title so well. I liked seeing Greta and Hix fall in love (and I totally believed that Hix was drawn and then fell in love with Greta). I liked seeing Hix’s kids develop a relationship with Greta and I liked seeing the two of them come into their own…together. They fit together well and their romance was sweet and I dug the whole thing. I give it a 4 out of 5. You?

Holly: I loved the town, I loved Greta and her brother, I liked Hix and the romance between them. Overall this was a good read. Not KA’s best, but it was entertaining. I’m giving it a 3.5 out of 5

Final Ratings

Holly’s Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Rowena’s Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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Review: Man Candy by Jessica Lemmon

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

Review: Man Candy by Jessica LemmonReviewer: Rowena
Man Candy (Real Love, #3) by Jessica Lemmon
Series: Real Love #3
Also in this series: Eye Candy, Eye Candy (Real Love, #1), Arm Candy
Published by Random House Publishing Group, Loveswept
Publication Date: January 9th, 2018
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 213
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

Dax:

After spending the summer buried up to my eyeballs in my family’s affairs, I’m ready for a break. The kind of break where I can spend two solid weeks camping and fishing in the company of absolutely no one. Then I find myself directly in the path of a drop-dead gorgeous tornado by the name of Becca Stone. Who can resist a night with a damsel in distress? Especially when she happens to be a leggy blonde? The last thing I expect is for Becca to show up on my cabin doorstep the next night, shivering in the rain and ready for seconds.

Becca: One minute I’m admiring the rock-hard jaw of the Magic Mike lookalike who walks into my bar, and the next I’m getting fired by my own brother. Loudly. In front of everyone. Luckily Dax Vaughn is a gentleman who aims his white-hot smile at me. Oh, it’s on. Wham, bam, thank you ma’am. Then a torrential storm washes out the main road and causes a massive power outage, giving us two whole weeks to enjoy each other’s company. At which point Dax will go back home, leaving “us” in the rearview mirror. That’s the plan. Or it was . . . until I started falling for him.

This standalone novel includes an excerpt from another Loveswept title.

Man Candy is the third book in Jessica Lemmon’s Real Love series and it features Grace from book 2’s boss, Dax Vaughn.

Dax Vaughn owns two bars and is grieving the passing of his father and the only thing he wants right now is peace and quiet. After making sure his Mom was okay and leaving his best friend on his couch, Dax takes off for Tennessee for some outdoorsy along time. He had every intention of spending his days hiking and fishing and being one with nature until he meets Becca Stone.

Becca Stone works with her brother at the Grand Larks and Dax is in town, renting one of the cabins there and she likes what she sees when she walks into the bar and sees him enjoying a beer. She’s drawn to him, knows that if she doesn’t approach him, she’ll regret it so with a pep in her step, she walks right up to him and her life is forever changed.

What was supposed to be a one night stand becomes much more than either of them were prepared for and I adored watching the two of them come together.

Dax was a lot more than I was expecting. We didn’t get to see much of him in Arm Candy so I was picturing a, — I don’t know what I was picturing but whatever it was, it wasn’t Dax. Dax was one of those swoonworthy heroes who is good to his Mom and knows what he wants. He was a man’s man who wanted to be in an adult relationship. I loved how he took care of Becca, even when she disappointed him and I really loved how much faith he had in her abilities…even after only two weeks of sleeping together. I enjoyed getting to know him and finding him to be my favorite hero of the series.

Becca was a great heroine too, only there were times when I wanted to smack some sense into her because I felt like she took too long to come around. Dax really opened up to her and so she knew about his hangups with his ex-girlfriend, a story that he shared with nobody but Becca and when things get a little crazy, I wanted her to wise up and take a chance on Dax. I wanted her to not disappoint Dax but to not disappoint me and…she came up a little short. I also wanted to smack the shit out of her brother because he was a shitty brother to her. I didn’t stay disappointed with Becca for long so I’m glad that she got her shit together.

The romance, the scenery and just, the whole story worked for me. I enjoyed Dax, I liked Becca and I really liked seeing them come together in love. This book was cute, funny and had a lot of heart so I definitely recommend.

Grade: 4 out of 5

Real Love Series

four-stars


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Guest Review: Now That You Mention It by Kristan Higgins

Posted January 8, 2018 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Now That You Mention It by Kristan HigginsReviewer: Tracy
Now That You Mention It by Kristan Higgins
Published by Hqn
Publication Date: December 26th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Women's Fiction
Pages: 384
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

One step forward. Two steps back. The Tufts scholarship that put Nora Stuart on the path to becoming a Boston medical specialist was a step forward. Being hit by a car and then overhearing her boyfriend hit on another doctor when she thought she was dying? Two major steps back.

Injured in more ways than one, Nora feels her carefully built life cracking at the edges. There's only one place to land: home. But the tiny Maine community she left fifteen years ago doesn't necessarily want her. At every turn, someone holds the prodigal daughter of Scupper Island responsible for small-town drama and big-time disappointments.

With a tough islander mother who's always been distant and a wild-child sister in jail, unable to raise her daughter--a withdrawn teen as eager to ditch the island as Nora once was--Nora has her work cut out for her if she's going to take what might be her last chance to mend the family.

But as some relationships crumble around her, others unexpectedly strengthen. Balancing loss and opportunity, a dark event from her past with hope for the future, Nora will discover that tackling old pain makes room for promise...and the chance to begin again.

Nora Stuart heads home to Scupper Island after she gets hit by a car and then breaks up with her boyfriend.  She needs some emotional downtime and needs her home.  Of course her mother is a pretty unemotional Mainer and her teenage niece is pretty angry at the world so things are a little rough at first.

Nora had been bullied throughout her high school years. She gained a lot of wait, had anxiety issues and acne. She was a good student, however, and won the coveted scholarship to Tufts.  Once she left the island she lost weight and became a different person.  When she returns to Scupper she finds herself fighting herself to become the old Nora.  She’s not about to let that happen.

Nora runs into an old friend, stays away from others and makes new ones.  She tries to come to terms with her life and what she needs emotionally and also deals with her mother and the reasons her father left suddenly when she was in Jr. High.  She also happens to fall in love, but that’s really a side story.

Now That You Mention It is different from other KH books that I’ve read. I thought it was more women’s fiction than romance and that was ok.  Higgins still has a wonderful writing style and she’s a great storyteller so it was still a great book.

I really liked Nora and her quirky, funny ways.  I’m sure it was awkward being back in a town that you had perceived as hating you.  Yes, she pretty much thought the entire island hated her.  She learned that she wasn’t the only one who had changed and sometimes that was even for the better.  I loved that she worked out her relationship with her mother as well as with her niece.  The romance portion of the book was also engaging, just not the central theme of the book.

Overall I really enjoyed NTYMI and definitely recommend it.

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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Review: The Ones that Got Away by Roni Loren

Posted January 3, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 4 Comments

Review: The Ones that Got Away by Roni LorenReviewer: Rowena
The Ones Who Got Away (The Ones Who Got Away, #1) by Roni Loren
Series: The Ones that Got Away #1
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: January 2nd 2018
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
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Goodreads
four-stars

Liv's words cut off as Finn got closer. The man approaching was nothing like the boy she'd known. The bulky football muscles had streamlined into a harder, leaner package and the look in his deep green eyes held no trace of boyish innocence.

It's been twelve years since tragedy struck the senior class of Long Acre High School. Only a few students survived that fateful night—a group the media dubbed The Ones Who Got Away.

Liv Arias thought she'd never return to Long Acre—until a documentary brings her and the other survivors back home. Suddenly her old flame, Finn Dorsey, is closer than ever, and their attraction is still white-hot. When a searing kiss reignites their passion, Liv realizes this rough-around-the-edges cop might be exactly what she needs...

I’ve been pretty anxious to read this book ever since I read the blurb. What an interesting concept for a series and I’m totally glad to report that Roni Loren did a fantastic job setting this series up. This was my first book read by Loren and it won’t be my last.

Liv Arias and Finn Dorsey are two students that survived a school shooting and they’re back in the town to take part in a charity documentary that will benefit the families of the victims. It’s not going to be an easy thing to be back at the scene of the crime but for charity, they’ll go back. For any of the survivors, it would be hard to go back to the scene of the crime but for both Liv and Finn, their memories seriously broke my heart.

They were high school sweethearts. They were in love but Liv’s father was Finn’s father’s gardener and because of that, they kept their love a secret. Finn broke Liv’s heart when he asked Rebecca Lindt to prom because he wasn’t strong enough to love Liv out in the open and then he stomped on her heart in the janitor’s closet at prom when the shooting started and he left her in the closet to go and save Bec, leading the shooters right to Liv.

Talk about some angsty romance drama, right? Holy cow, the more I read into this story, the more my heart hurt for Liv but then there was Finn. Finn carries a lot of guilt over everything and seeing Liv again is stirring up the guilt all over again but the connection they had in high school is still alive and beating between them now so how do they move on from the memories? Where do they go from here?

I really enjoyed the romance between Finn and Liv. I thought they handled their coming together again really well. There was so much between them and seeing them struggle to find common ground after all of these years was heartbreaking but boy was I rooting them on. I don’t know that I would have been as forgiving as Liv was but who knows, when you love someone the way that Liv loved Finn, maybe I would.

Another thing that I really enjoyed was that Roni Loren didn’t shy away from making Finn own up to what he did back in high school. I’m glad that he really struggled with his actions back then and how that shaped him into the man that he was now. I liked that Loren made him work for his happy ending. I liked that Liv had to forgive him and they had to work through their past to get to their future.

There’s a lot to enjoy in this book and even more to look forward to. It was so nice to meet some of the other survivors and I liked Liv’s friends. I’m looking forward to more Kincaid, Rebecca and Taryn in future books. I will definitely be back for more so yes, I recommend this book to anyone in the mood for an emotional read about two survivors who find their way back to each other.

Grade: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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Review: Love, Life and the List by Kasie West

Posted December 27, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 3 Comments

Review: Love, Life and the List by Kasie WestReviewer: Rowena
Love, Life, and the List by Kasie West
Published by Harper Collins, Harper Teen
Publication Date: December 26th 2017
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 384
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads

Seventeen-year-old Abby Turner’s summer isn’t going the way she’d planned. She has a not-so-secret but definitely unrequited crush on her best friend, Cooper. She hasn’t been able to manage her mother’s growing issues with anxiety. And now she’s been rejected from an art show because her work “has no heart.” So when she gets another opportunity to show her paintings Abby isn’t going to take any chances.

Which is where the list comes in.

Abby gives herself one month to do ten things, ranging from face a fear (#3) to learn a stranger’s story (#5) to fall in love (#8). She knows that if she can complete the list she’ll become the kind of artist she’s always dreamed of being. But as the deadline approaches, Abby realizes that getting through the list isn’t as straightforward as it seems… and that maybe—just maybe—she can’t change her art if she isn’t first willing to change herself.

This is the first in a set of three standalone books with crossover characters.

I was a bit skeptical to start this book because I have seen a bunch of not so good reviews of it on Goodreads but I should have more faith in Kasie West because this book was fantastic! I enjoyed the heck out of the story, out of getting to know both Abby and Cooper and I thought their romance was a sweet one. Kasie West delivered a fabulous young romance that I took me no time at all to sink my teeth into. There was so much to love about this book that I don’t even know where to begin.

Abby Turner is going to be a senior in high school but it’s summertime and she has plans to try to get into an art show that is put on by the local museum, that she just so happens to work at. She’s got a lot going on but more than anything, she wants a shot at showcasing her art and she’ll do whatever she has to, to get a shot at her dreams. Her home life isn’t the most ideal with a father in the military and overseas, a mother who has anxiety about everything under the sun but at least she’s got her Grandfather. A grandfather who loves and supports her through everything.

On top of everything that she’s got going on, Abby is also dealing with unrequited love. She has been in love with her best friend, Cooper for a while now and is still feeling the rejection he threw her way when she confessed her feelings for him. Not wanting to lose him, Abby played it off and has been stuck in the friend zone ever since. She’s trying to put herself firmly in the friend zone but her heart wants her best friend and being around Cooper isn’t getting any easier.

When Abby gets some bad news about her art and her chances of getting into the art show she was gunning for, a list is born. A list of experiences she feels she needs to have to give her art the heart that her boss is looking for. Since it’s just her and Cooper for the summer, Cooper is roped into helping Abby with the list and the adventure begins!

This was a quick read but Kasie West packs a punch, and it was a punch that I delighted in. I enjoyed Abby’s character a lot more than I’ve enjoyed the last few West protagonists and I was happy about that. Abby was young but she was smart and she was strong and I loved the hell out of her. It was nice to see a young character who was mature for her age but still acted her age if that makes any sense. I was cheering Abby on from the jump and seeing her go through the list and accomplish all of her small goals and then seeing her experience heartache with a boy that just would not leave her heart made for an emotional read. My heart hurt for her and I got a little teary-eyed when she realizes that something has to change or she’ll never be completely happy and gah, it was just a great coming of age story that I connected with on almost every level.

You know, a lot of the early reviews talk smack about the love interest in this book. The reviews that I read weren’t fans of him and that was not me at all. I adored him. Throughout the entire book, you can see that he loves Abby, his actions spoke louder than him not saying anything to Abby and that had a lot to do with why it was hard for Abby to move on. So I liked seeing them fumble around until they finally got it right.

Overall, this book was a good one. I adored pretty much everything about it though there were things here and there that I could have done without. Kasie West continues to shine in my eyes and as always, I’m looking forward to more from her. I definitely recommend this book to those in search of a sweet, contemporary YA romance with heart. This fits the bill, for sure.

Grade: 4.5 out of 5


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