Tag: Rowena’s Reviews

Review: Ready to Run by Lauren Layne

Posted August 15, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Ready to Run by Lauren LayneReviewer: Rowena
Ready to Run by Lauren Layne
Series: I Do I Don't #1
Published by Loveswept
Publication Date: August 22nd, 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
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three-half-stars

The Bachelor meets The Runaway Bride in this addictive romance novel about a reality TV producer falling for her would-be star: a Montana heartthrob who wants nothing to do with the show.

Jordan Carpenter thinks she’s finally found the perfect candidate for Jilted, a new dating show about runaway grooms: Luke Elliott, a playboy firefighter who’s left not one but three brides at the altar. The only problem? Luke refuses to answer Jordan’s emails or return her calls. Which is how she ends up on a flight to Montana to recruit him in person. It’s not Manhattan but at least the locals in Lucky Hollow seem friendly . . . except for Luke, who’s more intense—and way hotter—than the slick womanizer Jordan expected.

Eager to put the past behind him, Luke has zero intention of following this gorgeous, fast-talking city girl back to New York. But before he can send her packing, Jordan’s everywhere: at his favorite bar, the county fair, even his exes’ book club. Annoyingly, everyone in Lucky Hollow seems to like her—and deep down, she’s starting to grow on him too. But the more he fights her constant pestering, the more Luke finds himself wishing that Jordan would kick off her high heels and make herself comfortable in his arms.

Lauren Layne is writing a Bachelor type series and Ready to Run is the first book. It follows our heroine Jordan Carpenter as she makes her way to a small town Lucky Hollow in Montana to try to get firefighter Luke Elliot to join the cast of her upcoming Bachelor type reality show called Jilted…as the bachelor. Jilted is a reality show that will help runaway grooms find true love.

Jordan can’t figure out why this guy wouldn’t want to join the show. Who would walk away from that much money? Apparently, Luke Elliot has no problem walking away from the money and her. He just wants to live his life out of the limelight and wants nothing to do with a tv show, a big shot city slicker and he doesn’t want his personal life and the reasons he walked away from each of his exes to be public knowledge. He had a good life and he didn’t want strangers all up in his business.

Jordan is trying to make a name for herself in the television business and her boss is really excited about this new reality show. If she wants to move up the corporate business ladder, she’s got to land a heartthrob that viewers will connect with and Luke is the perfect candidate for that. It’s too bad he wants nothing to do with Jilted.

The romance between these two was kind of more of the same that you normally get from Lauren Layne. She writes a lot of those hate-to-love romances and while I liked Luke and Jordan, they weren’t my favorite hate-to-love couple of Layne’s. Jordan was chasing a guy for a tv show with no good reason for not giving up and moving on. She kept pressing this guy even though he made it plain that he wasn’t going to change his mind. She set up camp in his hometown and infiltrated his family, his friends and expected him to what? Be elated? Come on now…

Luke was not happy about the fact that he was attracted to this woman who wanted to turn his life into a freaking circus but damn, the attraction was there and it was strong as hell. The longer she stuck around, the more pissed off he became because the attraction wasn’t anything he planned on acting on but the more time that he spends trying to dodge her, the more he realizes that there’s more to this city girl than meets the eye. His interest in her grows and feelings creep up because this is a romance novel and even though this isn’t my favorite Lauren Layne novel, it still held the charm and warmth that I’ve come to expect from a Lauren Layne book.

I’m definitely interested in reading the other books in this series and I’ve got my fingers crossed that we’ll get to see some of my favorite characters from this book in those ones. I really did like the small town of Lucky Hollow.

Grade: 3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars


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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
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three-stars

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

three-stars


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Review: Lucky in Love by Kasie West

Posted July 27, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Lucky in Love by Kasie WestReviewer: Rowena
Lucky in Love by Kasie West
Published by Scholastic
Publication Date: July 25th 2017
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 333
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three-stars

In this new contemporary from YA star Kasie West, a girl who wins the lottery learns that money can cause more problems than it solves, especially when love comes into the picture.

Maddie doesn't believe in luck. She's all about hard work and planning ahead. But one night, on a whim, she buys a lottery ticket. And then, to her astonishment --

She wins!

In a flash, Maddie's life is unrecognizable. No more stressing about college scholarships. Suddenly, she's talking about renting a yacht. And being in the spotlight at school is fun... until rumors start flying, and random people ask her for loans. Now, Maddie isn't sure who she can trust.

Except for Seth Nguyen, her funny, charming coworker at the local zoo. Seth doesn't seem aware of Maddie's big news. And, for some reason, she doesn't want to tell him. But what will happen if he learns her secret?

With tons of humor and heart, Kasie West delivers a million-dollar tale of winning, losing, and falling in love.

Kasie West, for me, is the writer that writes cute contemporary YA romances. Her books are cute and funny and the romances are sweet. The perfect beach read, for me at least.

Lucky in Love follows young Maddie as she watches her old life go up in flames when she wins the lottery and becomes rich overnight. Her bickering parents and no plans brother have been stressing her out and she’s been limiting her options for college to those colleges close to home so that she can take care of her family from school. Money is tight and she needs to work hard and get scholarships so she’s been pretty busy with school work, with working at the zoo and keeping her family happy and functioning and quite frankly, that’s a lot of stress to put on someone as young as Maddie.

The story as a whole gave me a lot of anxiety. The amount of money that her family blew through and then Maddie making mistake after mistake before she finally starts to get things right took a lot out of me which is surprising considering Kasie West books have normally been such easy, breezy reads for me in the past. I had to keep putting this book down because the mother in me could not stand all of the meaningless spending that Maddie’s family did and then the whole secret keeping from Seth didn’t win me over (I hate secrets) not to mention the burden Maddie carried with her where her family was concerned. Her father wasn’t working and her mother was carrying their family financially and being completely resentful over that and their careless attitude toward fixing themselves, even after they’re not struggling for money anymore, it all bothered me.

Maddie’s character was a little on the hard side to like because I didn’t like a lot of the choices she makes but all is well in the end. My favorite part of this entire story was the love interest, Seth Nguyen. I thought he was adorable and understanding. I loved that though he had his own struggles, he didn’t try to make those struggles, Maddie’s struggles. I love that he was just there for her, to lend a listening ear, to help her through whatever she needed his help with and he did so much for her while being grounded with no phone. Ha.

West does a great job of bringing the story together. There’s a lot of wrong before the characters start to get it right and even though I got a lot of anxiety, I still enjoyed the book overall. It’s not my favorite book by Kasie West but it was still a pretty solid read. I think younger people will enjoy this book a lot more than I did but still, it was good.

Grade: 3.5 out of 5

three-stars


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Retro Review: True Love and Other Disasters by Rachel Gibson.

Posted July 26, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 20 Comments

Retro Review: True Love and Other Disasters by Rachel Gibson.Reviewer: Rowena
True Love and Other Disasters (Chinooks Hockey Team #4) by Rachel Gibson
Series: Chinooks Hockey Team #4
Also in this series: See Jane Score
Published by Avon
Publication Date: April 28th 2009
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 345
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four-half-stars

Disaster Number One: MEN

Hard knocks and hunger taught Faith Duffy not to believe in love. Still, when she married her very wealthy—and very old—husband, she became the perfect wife. And then he went to that big bank in the sky, leaving Faith with lonely nights, a pile of money, and a total mess of a pro hockey team. Heck, Faith doesn't even watch hockey!

Disaster Number Two: PASSION

But most of America and half of Canada is watching Ty Savage. His lethal sex appeal and deadly right hook make him the favorite of fans. For most of Ty's life, he's dreamed of winning the Stanley Cup. The last thing he needs is a bimbo messing up his plans.

Disaster Number Three: LOVE

Faith loathes Ty on sight, but she can't stop thinking about him all day ... and night. Then a moment of temptation ends with Faith in Ty's bed, and she begins to see there's more to him than sex appeal. Ty discovers there's far more to Faith than beauty and billions. But a relationship with Faith is impossible, and falling in love—that would be a disaster.

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

Holly: Oh man, did we all love Rachel Gibson back in the day. I have several of her more recent releases in my TBR pile, but for some reason I haven’t read them. I think I’m afraid the magic of these earlier works will be missing.

This review was originally published April 29, 2009

One of the main reasons I read Rachel Gibson is she writes engaging stories with characters that fall right off the pages and keeps me entertained from the first page all the way to the last page. I don’t have to plow my way through that first part of the book that can sometimes bore the ever living snot out of me. Her books take off right from the beginning and keeps me plugged in.

This book was no exception. I was on board with this story right from the first chapter. In the first chapter, we meet the hero and the heroine at the heroine’s husband’s funeral or wake. Right off the bat, this book reminded me of Susan Elizabeth Phillip’s It Had To Be You and I was eagerly waiting to see how Rachel Gibson would tell her version of that storyline.

For me, she knocked it out of the park.

There is no doubt that Rachel Gibson is a gifted writer. She writes these quirky little romances that makes you smile and entertains the socks right off of you and she did just that in this book. This story is about Faith Duffy inheriting her late husband’s hockey team, the Seattle Chinooks. You’ll remember The Chinooks from See Jane Score, as that was the team that Luc Martineau and his sexy “I want to lick his tatoo” self played for. In this book, Lucky is retired and there’s a new hunky captain on the prowl.

His name is Ty Savage.

Man, I could feast for days off of that man. I really like hockey men and I really love Rachel Gibson’s hockey men. I didn’t think I could love an RG hockey man as much as I loved Luc Martineau but I do now.

I love Ty, just wanted to tell you that..in case you missed it. =P It’s funny how I don’t watch hockey in real life but after reading this book, it’s made me curious enough to check a hockey game out.

Faith was a great heroine. She was one of those heroines that is easy to relate to even if you don’t have anything in common with her. Faith was such a likeable character that I found it very easy to sympathize with her. She was so likeable that I wasn’t mad one bit at her after two weeks passes after her husband death and she starts wanting to sleep with another man. I had very big issues with this in Robyn Carr’s book, Second Chance Pass but because Faith’s relationship with her husband was so different from Vanessa’s relationship with Matt, it didn’t bother me one bit when Faith started sleeping with Ty.

I thought they were perfect together and I loved watching these two fall in love with each other. I loved seeing Ty’s insecurities and I loved watching him bulldoze his way into Faith’s heart. It was a delight to read about and I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is looking to enjoy another RG hockey book, for me, this is definitely a keeper.

4.5 out of 5

This book is available from Avon. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

four-half-stars


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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
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three-stars

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

three-stars


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