Tag: St. Martin’s Press

Review: Black Tie Optional by Ann Marie Walker

Posted June 29, 2017 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Black Tie Optional by Ann Marie WalkerReviewer: Rowena
Black Tie Optional by Ann Marie Walker
Series: Wild Weddings #1
Published by St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: May 30th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
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three-half-stars

Everything about Coleman Grant III oozes power and sex. And not the perfunctory kind either, but the sheet clawing, heart stopping, gasping for air after you’ve screamed so loud you can’t breathe kind. From his dark wavy hair that stands in an artfully rumpled mess, to the blue eyes that sear your skin, to his full, sensual lips - on the surface he’s pure perfection.

Too bad he's an asshole. An arrogant, uptight corporate raider hell bent on destroying the environment one species at a time.

Everything about Olivia Ramsey screams hippie humanitarian. From her blond hair tied in a sloppy bun, to her faded jeans with the Bonnaroo patch sewn on the thigh, to her combat boots still splattered with mud from the previous day’s site visit.

So it makes perfect sense that they would get married. In Vegas. Stone-cold sober.

Cole needs a wife. Olivia needs to save an endangered species. But what starts as a marriage of convenience soon turns into a battle of wills and sexual tension. Love is a game, and Olivia and Cole are ready to win.

Before reading this blurb, I had never heard of Ann Marie Walker. This book sounded good so I went ahead and requested it.

Coleman Grant III and Olivia Ramsey cannot stand each other. He’s a power hungry douchebag that doesn’t care about anything but making money and she’s a hippie humanitarian who is trying to save one endangered species at a time by annoying the ever living snot out of Cole. She hates everything that he stands for and he hates her morning trips to Starbucks to harass him into changing the locations on one of his projects to protect the bats.

When they head out to Vegas for a weekend away from real life, they were expecting a break from each other. They weren’t expecting to have a wild night together and then get married before heading back home. Cole needs a wife and Olivia wants to save the bats so getting married would solve both of their problems. Right? It was only supposed to last three months but true love doesn’t work like that.

This book was a pretty quick read for me. It was a pretty solid read even though there were times when I wanted to kick both the hero and the heroine in the shins. The dialogue was kind of hard to follow in the beginning too but overall, it was still enjoyable.

At first, I didn’t think I would like either Cole or Olivia all that much but that changed over the course of the book. They ended up being pretty great and I’m glad that I picked this up for review. The chemistry between Cole and Olivia was fantastic and I loved seeing them come together in love. The rest of the cast charmed me and I will definitely be reading more from this author. This was a fun read that is perfect for beach season.

Grade: 3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars

Retro Review/Rant: Can’t Stand the Heat by Louisa Edwards

Posted April 12, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 15 Comments

Retro Review/Rant: Can’t Stand the Heat by Louisa EdwardsReviewer: Holly
Can't Stand The Heat by Louisa Edwards
Series: Recipe for Love #1
Published by Macmillan
Publication Date: September 1st 2009
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary
Pages: 368
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one-star

For sharp-tongued food critic Miranda Wake, the chance to spend a month in Adam Temple's kitchen to write an exposé is a journalistic dream come true. Surely Miranda can find a way to cut the hotshot chef down to size once she learns what really goes on at his trendy Manhattan restaurant. But she never expected Adam to find out her most embarrassing secret: she has no idea how to cook.

Adam's not about to have his reputation burned by a critic who doesn't even know the difference between poaching and paring. He'll just have to give the tempting redhead a few private lessons of his own—teaching her what it means to cook with passion...and doing more with his hands than simply preparing sumptuous food.

*****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.

This review/rant was originally posted on October 29, 2009.

WARNING: This review contains a major rant about the heroine. It will contain strong language and spoilers for the story. Read on at your own risk.

I’ve mentioned before that I generally have a dislike for heroines who are journalists. I’ve made some exceptions, but generally I try to stay away from novels featuring them, because I know I have a personal bias and I don’t want that to color my reading experience. I chose to pick this one up anyway because Miranda Wake is a food critic, rather than an investigative journalist (the type I generally have the biggest issues with). Also? It’s a foodie book and I’m a huge foodie.

I went into this expecting one thing, and got something else entirely.

Miranda Wake is a bitter food critic who desperately wants a book deal. On the pre-opening night of a new restaurant, Market, she gets blitzed and has it out with the Exec Chef and Owner, Adam Temple. She hasn’t even had his food yet, but she’s already spouting off about how he’s pretentious and his food sucks. So he challenges her to spend just one night in his kitchen, thinking to shut her up. Only she accepts.

Then his investor gets together with her editor and they decide she’ll stay for a month. Which is when she gets a book deal; she’s to write a book “dishing” about Adam Temple and what really goes on in his kitchen. While Miranda is busy digging up dirt on Adam and the entire staff, she finds herself falling in love with him. Which I completely understood, because I adored Adam.

He was sweet and adorable, with a strong sense of right and wrong. He was probably the best part about this book. I loved that even though he had preconceived notions about Miranda he set them aside and judged her on his own observations. I loved that he was tough but fair in the kitchen. I loved that he hired chefs based on their merits as cooks, rather than their diplomas or schooling. He had a somewhat gruff exterior, but inside he was kind and loving.

I absolutely adored the secondary characters. The entire kitchen staff came alive for me. I really felt like I was right there with them, laughing and joking and cooking fabulous food. They were a rag-tag bunch, but they really brought flavor and spice to the story.

As a side story, Miranda’s younger brother, Jesse, turns up from college (somewhere in the Midwest) saying he’s not going back. He gets a job at Market working as a server. As it turns out, he’s gay and falls in love with one of the sou chefs, Frankie, which Miranda hates. She thinks Frankie corrupted and tempted her poor straight brother into being gay.

I thought the story with the brother was cute, though I did struggle with his age quite a bit. He’s only 19. The problem is I wasn’t as bothered by that as I felt I should have been. Especially since Frankie is quite a bit older than him. Why is it that I’m willing to forgive a 19yo hero when he’s gay, but wouldn’t forgive a 19yo heroine (in a contemp) regardless? Once I got past that, though, I really enjoyed his part of the story.

So at this point in the book Miranda comes off as bitter, cynical and jaded. She’s also a complete control freak. Which is fine. I could have dealt with that if it had been one of the centerpieces of the story – how Miranda grew up. Unfortunately I didn’t find that to be the case.

Because at the end? She SAYS SHE LOVES HIM AND STILL SUBMITS THE FUCKING BOOK.

WHAT THE FUCK!?!?!?!?!

Her reason for doing so? She needs the money so she can pay for her brother to go to NYU. The problem? She only wants to pay for it to get him away from Frankie so he’ll go back to being “normal” instead of “gay”. Not only that, but he specifically told her he didn’t want her paying for his tuition. He said he wanted to be a responsible adult and contribute something himself. I understand that she wanted to help him as much as she could, but she SOLD OUT THE MAN SHE LOVED AND ALL HIS FRIENDS/EMPLOYEES to do it.

WHAT THE FUCK?!?!?!?!?!

And the best part? The only person she has to rely on and go to for support during this whole thing with her brother is Adam. She leans on him and lets him support her and SAYS SHE LOVES HIM AND THEN SELLS HIM OUT IN A CHEAP FUCKING BOOK!

WHAT THE FUCK?!?!?!?!?!

The thing is, I loved everything else about the book. The kitchen setting, the secondary characters, the hero. I even loved that the author included some of the recipes she used in the book (I’m sooo going to try them). I’m trying to decide if the heroine ruined the book for me, or if I can move past what she did. Right now I’d probably grade it:

3 out of 5 for the overall story, setting and characters
Bold
1 out of 5 for the heroine (maybe even a -1)

I did enjoy parts of it enough to want to read the next book in the series, On the Steamy Side, which will be available March, 2010.

Book CoverBook Cover

This book is available from St. Martin’s. You can buy it here or here (I’m not including a link to buy in e-format b/c I think St. Martin’s has terrible e-pricing. The paperback is $6.99 but the e-book is $14. WTF St. Martin’s? W.T.F?).

one-star

Guest Review: Buck Naked by Evangeline Anderson

Posted April 6, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Buck Naked by Evangeline AndersonReviewer: Tracy
Buck Naked by Evangeline Anderson
Series: Cougarville Series #1
Published by St. Martin's Press, Swerve
Publication Date: April 4th, 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Paranormal, Erotic
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three-half-stars

Sadie Becker is not herself. A 40-year-old, divorced mother of two, Sadie wakes up one morning and realizes that she looks and feels like she did in her twenties. Suddenly she’s unable to walk around in her new town of Cougarville without men falling at her feet. Confused and alone, Sadie isn’t sure who to turn to…except answers to her problems might reside with her broodingly handsome reclusive neighbor, Mathis.

An alpha shifter, Mathis lost the love of his life, and he knows he’ll never find another mate. But his innocent new neighbor clearly doesn’t know the danger she’s in, and he's the only one who can save her.

But when the attraction pulls too strong, will Mathis’ animal nature be unleashed and claim Sadie for his own?

Sadie wakes up on her 40th birthday, looks in the mirror, and can’t believe how she looks.  She looks about 20 years younger and she’s a bit freaked out by it.  She starting a new job so she has to get to town.  She’s just got divorced from her cheating husband and moved to a cabin in a town fondly called Cougarville by its residents.  Her mother left the cabin to her after she died but neither Sadie nor her twin, Samantha, knew anything about it.

Her first day in town doesn’t go exactly as she thought it would.  No one will serve her, they keep calling her “Juvie,” they act like she’s got leprosy and they keep kicking her out of her businesses.  Someone even slashes her tires!  When she ends up crying on her hot neighbor’s porch he eventually explains that everyone is calling her “Juvie” because she’s got a shifter gene in her that makes her someone who rejuvenates when they hit anywhere from 40-50 years old.  They are the only ones that can breed new shifters and they’re very rare.  Apparently her mother was one as well and now all the men want her and all the women hate her because they’re not a juvie as well.  Sadie is stunned by this news but soon handles it with aplomb – probably because she gets to get naked with her hot neighbor, Mathis.  Unfortunately the mayor of Cougarville, Liam Keller, wants Sadie for himself and he’s not afraid to play dirty to get her.

Buck Naked was a cute erotic PNR.  Anderson put a nice twist on the whole shifter/mating thing which made things a little more interesting.  What also made things different in this story was the fact that all of the shifters in Cougarville shifted into animals from the Paleolithic era (yes, the Stone Age).  We only got to read about Mathis’s Irish Elk and Keller’s cougar which was more like a saber-tooth tiger.  I’m sure there were other animals in town but I have no idea what they were.

Sadie was a sweet woman but was more than clueless when it came to the town.  I wouldn’t have put up with the town’s shit they were shoveling out but she just kind of ran instead of getting answers.  Mathis was great to her and I loved how he cared for her when she needed him.

Mathis was a good man.  He had been married before and loved his wife.  He has sworn to after she died that he would never take another mate and hadn’t been with a woman in 20 years.  He tried his best to stay away from Sadie but found himself falling in love with her.  It happened quickly but it was still cute.

Overall a good start to a paranormal series. Of course there is A LOT of sex in the story because it was an erotic romance.  Anderson always writes good sex scenes, that’s for sure.  If you want a quick, sexy read then grab this one.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Totally apart from the story…what is up with the guy on the cover of this book? I can’t stop laughing! Is that supposed to be a sexy smirk? Fail. He looks like he’s trying to get something out of his teeth. And his eyes…he’s not cross-eyed but the way he’s looking to the side certainly makes it look that way. Weird.

three-half-stars

Retro Review: Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie

Posted March 1, 2017 by Casee in Reviews | 9 Comments

Retro Review: Bet Me by Jennifer CrusieReviewer: Casee
Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie
Published by St. Martin's Paperbacks
Publication Date: August 31st 2004
Genres: Romance, Contemporary
Pages: 391
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five-stars

Minerva Dobbs knows that happily-ever-after is a fairy tale, especially with a man who asked her to dinner to win a bet. Even if he is gorgeous and successful Calvin Morrisey. Cal knows commitment is impossible, especially with a woman as cranky as Min Dobbs. Even if she does wear great shoes and keeps him on his toes. When they say good-bye at the end of their evening, they cut their losses and agree never to see each other again.
But Fate has other plans, and it's not long before Min and Cal meet again. Soon, they're dealing with a jealous ex-boyfriend, Krispy Kreme donuts, a determined psychologist, chaos theory, a freakishly intelligent cat, Chicken Marsala, and more risky propositions than either of them ever dreamed of. Including the biggest gamble of all—true love.

******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.

This review was originally posted on June 2, 2008.

This wasn’t my first Crusie book. Years ago I read Charlie Something-or-Other. I didn’t really care for it. In fact, I had no idea why everyone was so crazy about this author. Yes, the book I read was an early Crusie novel. That’s why I wasn’t in any hurry to give her another try. Look at Linda Howard, Julie Garwood, Judith McNaught…all authors whose earlier works are more loved than their more recent books. That’s my excuse for waiting so long to read Bet Me. I guess I have to thank Holly b/c I would have most likely not tried to read it again if she wouldn’t have coerced pressured bullied suggested it in such a wonderful way. (Holly: Am I good like that, or what? It’s ok, you don’t have to bow down to my greatness..we know. We know. LOL)

That being said, I’m so glad that she persevered b/c I loved this book.

Min Dobbs decides to teach Cal Morrisey a lesson when she overhears him making a bet that he can get her into bed. Deciding that she will string him along for three weeks until her sister’s wedding, Min accepts his invitation for dinner. It only takes one dinner for Min to admit that she doesn’t have it in her to string someone like Cal along. At the end of the night, they part ways, both satisfied that they will never see the other again.

Fate definitely had a way of laughing in their faces. Again and again Min and Cal ran into each other. Yet each time they parted, that was it. They were never going to see each other again.

There is really no easy way to review this book other than to say if you haven’t read it, you’re missing out. Crusie has some of the best dialogue that I’ve ever read. The relationship between Min and Cal was far from an easy one. Though they both had admitted to themselves that the other is “the one”, they both had hangups that wouldn’t let them admit it out loud. Add in Min’s jealous ex-boyfriend and Cal’s rational ex-girlfriend and you have a book that you can’t put down.

I loved everything about this book from how it began, to the continuing conflict, to both Min and Cal’s parents, to the ending. Everything about it just hooked me from page 1.

5 out of 5.

five-stars

Review: The Hero by Donna Grant

Posted December 28, 2016 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: The Hero by Donna GrantReviewer: Rowena
The Hero by Donna Grant
Series: Sons of Texas #1
Published by St. Martin's Paperbacks
Publication Date: December 6th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romantic Suspense
Pages: 320
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two-stars

THE HERO’S HOMECOMING

Owen Loughman is a highly-decorated Navy SEAL who has a thirst for action. But there’s one thing he hasn’t been able to forget – his high school sweetheart, Natalie. After over a decade away, Owen is returned home to the ranch in Texas for a dangerous new mission that puts him face-to-face with Natalie and an outside menace that threatens everything he holds dear. He’ll risk it all to keep Natalie safe – and win her heart. . . .

Natalie Dixon has had a lifetime of heartache since Owen was deployed. Fourteen years and one bad marriage later, she finds herself mixed up with the Loughman’s again. With her life on the line against an enemy she can’t fight alone, it’s Owen’s strong shoulders, smoldering eyes, and sensuous smile that she turns to. When danger closes in, she holds close to the only man she’s ever loved…

The Hero is the first book in the Sons of Texas series and it’s the first book by Donna Grant that I’ve ever read. I just finished watching 13 Hours when I requested this book for review on Netgalley so I went into this book, not really knowing what to expect but hoping for a good story. The story started out great. Owen Loughman’s a Navy SEAL who gets taken off a job and flown home, where he finds his Aunt and Uncle were murdered and his Dad is missing. He also finds his ex-girlfriend on the premises and has a whole bunch of questions.

Natalie works at the Russian Embassy. She is thrown into the mix when she was approached by Owen’s father for information on a super secret project that Natalie has no idea about but when the code word comes across her desk at work, later on, she’s really thrown into the thick of things and seeing Owen again after all of these years, doesn’t help matters.

There have been a lot of years that separated Owen and Natalie. They’re not the same people they were when they were in high school but that doesn’t seem to stop them from wanting the hell out of each other and while that would have been fine and dandy, this book suffered from the inappropriate lusting. I’ve spoken about it before after reviewing some other romantic suspense books and I just can’t get on board with danger being a turn on because I don’t understand it. The last thing on my mind is sex when I’m covered in blood but hey, that’s just me. There was a lot of stuff that didn’t make sense to me as I continued on with the book and in the end, I just don’t know if I’ll be continuing this series because shock of all shockers, this book ended on a cliffhanger. Ehh. I’m not a fan of that either so while the book started off well, it didn’t really end well and too much happened that had me rolling my eyes down the street so I’m giving this one a 2. That’s a bummer.

Grade: 2 out of 5

two-stars