Category: Reviews

Review: A Madness of Sunshine by Nalini Singh

Posted December 10, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: A Madness of Sunshine by Nalini SinghReviewer: Rowena
A Madness of Sunshine by Nalini Singh
Publisher: Penguin, Berkley
Publication Date: December 3, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Pages: 352
Add It: Goodreads
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three-half-stars

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh welcomes you to a remote town on the edge of the world where even the blinding brightness of the sun can’t mask the darkness that lies deep within a killer…

On the rugged West Coast of New Zealand, Golden Cove is more than just a town where people live. The adults are more than neighbors; the children, more than schoolmates.   That is until one fateful summer—and several vanished bodies—shatters the trust holding Golden Cove together. All that’s left are whispers behind closed doors, broken friendships, and a silent agreement not to look back. But they can’t run from the past forever.   Eight years later, a beautiful young woman disappears without a trace, and the residents of Golden Cove wonder if their home shelters something far more dangerous than an unforgiving landscape.   It’s not long before the dark past collides with the haunting present and deadly secrets come to light.

Nalini Singh has written a thriller novel and I didn’t think I’d be interested in that kind of thing since I read almost strictly romance but Nalini Singh is such a good writer that I couldn’t help myself. I had to check this one out and though there were parts that were a little slow for me, I still had a good time reading this one. Nalini Singh tells a story so well, that I could almost feel the coastal breeze on my face and see everything so clearly even though I’ve never been to New Zealand before.

Golden Cove, a coastal village on the west side of New Zealand was home to Anahera before she fled for London, swearing to never return. Eight years later, Anahera is back in Golden Cove to try to heal from the death of her husband and the ghosts that haunted her before, return when a girl she knew as a child, who is now a young woman disappears and the old hurts and scares of the past return with a vengeance. The residents of Golden Cove have always been more than neighbors. They’re a family in the small village and this time Anahera is older and she won’t just sit aside while bad things happen to her family. With the help of Will, the town’s only police presence, Anahera starts to investigate the disappearance of Miriama. The more the two of them dig into their investigation, the more shit starts popping up. You’d think that because this is a Nalini Singh book that there would be a romance between the out of town cop and the newly returned Anahera but this book wasn’t a romance. It wasn’t romantic suspense. It was a straight-up suspense novel and while I missed a central romantic plot, overall, I still enjoyed this one.

The beginning was really slow because we’re getting the set up of the story and it’s not a happy go lucky kind of story. There’s a history that is dark and it’s hard but the more that I kept reading, the more that I started to understand, the more I appreciated the slow start. Nalini Singh does a great job of making the small town of Golden Cove a character that was just as important as the good guys and the bad guys. When all was said and done, I appreciated her efforts but if I’m honest, I much prefer her paranormal romances. That’s more of a preference than anything else. Nalini Singh is good at whatever she decides to write. She can write her ass off and this book proves that. She does romance extremely well and with this book, she really does her thing. I think with a couple of more books under her belt in this genre, she’s going to be another force in the suspense, mystery and thriller worlds. She’s legit.

Final Grade

3.75 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Review: Open House by Ruby Lang

Posted December 9, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Open House by Ruby LangReviewer: Rowena
Open House by Ruby Lang
Series: Uptown #2
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: November 11, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 165
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2019 New to Me Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Love can take root where you least expect it.

Tyson Yang never imagined that one day he’d be the de facto spokesperson for an illegal community garden. But when the once-rat-infested-but-now-thriving Harlem lot goes up for sale, Ty can’t just let all their hard work get plowed under.

Even if he is irresistibly drawn to the lovely but infuriatingly stubborn real estate associate.

Magda Ferrer’s family is already convinced this new job will be yet another flop in her small but growing list of career path failures. But her student debt isn’t going anywhere, and selling her uncle’s historic townhouse and the lot nearby means a chance to get some breathing room.

Ty is her charming rival, her incorrigible nemesis, the handsome roadblock to her success.

Until one hot Harlem night blurs the hard line drawn between them, and the seeds of possibility in this rocky garden blossom into love…

This book is approximately 48,000 words

One-click with confidence. This title is part of the

Carina Press Romance Promise: all the romance you’re looking for with an HEA/HFN. It’s a promise!

Open House is the second book in Ruby Lang’s Uptown series but it is the first book that I’ve read by Lang and it won’t be the last. She’s got a charming writing style that I liked and I enjoyed the romance that blossomed between Ty and Magda. I also liked seeing Ty grow to really love the community garden and see the old ladies in the neighborhood take him under their wing at the same time that he took them all under his protection. I even enjoyed Ty’s sister and the relationship that they had between them. Magda’s family was a lot harder to like at first but they really did come around and when Magda finally stands up for herself and demands that they treat her like the adult she is, I cheered for her.

Magda was really trying to find herself over the course of this book and even though there were times when I wanted to smack some sense into her, I respected the hell out of her because she was trying. I liked that she understood why her family treated her the way that they did and I really liked how she was putting in the work to make something of herself without any influence from anyone. She was just a normal woman with normal problems that I related to and I connected with her character. Ruby Lang did a great job with Magda’s character and I appreciated her efforts.

Ty was another interesting character and even though there were times when I didn’t understand his thought processes, I never once hated him. Like Magda, Ty was a normal guy with normal problems and it was easy to relate to the stuff he was dealing with. I enjoyed seeing him come into his own and deal with the issues that have ruled his life so far. It was a nice perk to see him fall in love in a realistic way.

Magda and Ty had great chemistry and they were awesome on their own but better together. I enjoyed seeing them grow closer, and then battle to figure out how to be together with the different things in their lives that were pulling them apart. It wasn’t always easy for them because he was trying to save a garden that was on a lot that she was trying to sell. There’s some push and pull and while that was bothersome, they figure it out and all is well that ends well so even though I spent some time in this book rolling my eyes around the room, Ruby Lang still wrote a fun romance and I was still invested in what happened to everyone so all in all, this was a solid read. I recommend.

Final Grade

3.5 out of 5

Uptown Series

three-half-stars


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Sunday Spotlight: Blitzed by Alexa Martin

Posted December 8, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 2 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: Blitzed by Alexa MartinBlitzed by Alexa Martin
Series: The Playbook #3
Also in this series: Blitzed
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: December 3, 2019
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 320
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: three-stars

Maxwell has finally met an opponent that he can't best in this new football romance from the author of Fumbled.

According to Brynn Larson, Maxwell Lewis is more trouble than he's worth. She doesn't care if he's a football god with a rock-hard body that brings most women to their knees. After an encounter that ends poorly, she's not interested in giving him a second chance. The last thing Brynn expects is for him to turn up at her bar months later, hat in hand. It doesn't matter if he brings more customers to her business--she's still not going on a date with him.

Maxwell knows he made a mistake. He'd been waiting to make his move on Brynn since the day he laid eyes on her and he was finally ready to go for it until he screwed up. He wishes he could tell her the truth about what happened that night, but he just can't. He can't tell anyone, so he'll make amends and hope she'll forgive him.

Brynn's not like other women, though. Playing for the Mustangs doesn't impress her and gifts make her scoff. Max will have to bring his A game if he hopes to win her over.

Excerpt

Some people call me a workaholic.

And they’re right.

But considering I own a bar, it’s the best kind of “holic” I could be. Plus, my job consists of listening to other people’s dramas and hanging out with my girls damn near every day.

“Oh my god! Brynn!” Vonnie’s eyes scrunch and her entire face twists into an abstract painting. “Did you put anything besides vodka in there?”

“Gin.” I wink and write the latest failed martini recipe down in my notebook.

“Why are we taste testing again?” Charli asks as she leans across the bar and grabs the martini from Vonnie. Vonnie narrows her eyes, probably ready to scold her for her table manners . . . but when Charli gives it a sniff, takes a deep sip, shrugs, and then finishes it, Vonnie’s eyes grow wide and her jaw drops.

“Damn, Charli!” I don’t know if I’m impressed or disturbed. “I didn’t know you had that in you!”

“Don’t worry.” Poppy snatches the glass away from Charli and walks it around the bar like she still works here even though she quit months ago to go to school and better herself like a selfish jerk. “Shawn’s on standby. Final roster cuts come in tomorrow and he’s been bracing Charli for bad news . . .” She leans in closer as she passes behind me.

“Something she’s clearly not handling well.”

Reason 8,634 I could never date a football player.

Basketball? Maybe. At least their contracts are guaranteed and they’re gone so often I’d barely have to see them. Baseball? Possibly. I do love sitting outside and eating pretzels and drinking beer. Hockey? Nope, it’s basically football on skates—with more broken noses and less teeth. Luckily for all these athletes I’d have to let down ever so gently, none of them know who I am.

“Your crazy ass better drink some water,” Vonnie, always the mom of the group, tells her. “Besides, I think Aviana is coming, and who knows if she’s still filming.”

“Oh, fucking fuck me,” Charli moans. “That damn show is going to be the death of me and I’m not even on it.”

I can see Charli is clearly in a fragile state of mind, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love everything about Love the Player. I kinda feel like, even though I’m not a cast member, I manifested the shit out of that show. I mean, the concept for HERS came to life as I was sitting on a shitty-ass date, watching a shitty-ass game, sipping shitty beer. All I wanted was to be out with my girls, drinking a fantastic specialty cocktail, and watching the latest Bravo reality show with a roomful of strangers.

And now, not only do we watch reality shows, HERS is a regular fucking setting for one. It just started to air, but the increase in customers is already noticeable. And people tried to tell me my love of trash television was a waste of my time. To that I say, HA!

“Speaking of the show, that’s what we’re doing here.” I push a much lighter, and brighter (hot-pink) cocktail down to Jacqueline, who, even though she’s always with us, is still the quietest person I know, and I’m pretty sure she thinks we’re all in need of serious therapy . . . which might be accurate. How Aviana talked her into starring in Love the Player is still a mystery. “I want to have a few cocktails named after the show ready.”

“Great, now the show gives me alcohol poisoning too.” Charli lays her head on the bar.

“You’re giving yourself alcohol poisoning.” Poppy pushes a glass of water to her and starts mixing up a drink of her own. “I know you and Shawn are smart with your money. If he gets cut, it won’t be the worst thing in the world. TK loves not playing anymore.”

I watch Jacqueline take a small sip of the drink, and almost do a happy dance when her eyes widen. She looks at the drink as if the recipe’s written in the cocktail, and takes another sip.

“Success, Jac?” I ask even though I already know her answer.

“So good, Brynn,” she says in her usual, muted voice.

“Yeah it is!” We do an air high five. “I’m naming that one Peter’s Angel. Wait . . . no!” I shout like she’s not right in front of me. “Fuck Peter. This is your drink. Model Behavior!”

The Playbook Series

Giveaway Alert

We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the widget below to enter for one of this month’s features.

Sunday Spotlight: December 2019

About Alexa Martin

Alexa Martin is a writer and stay at home mom. She lives in Colorado with her husband, a former NFL player who now coaches at the high school where they met, their four children, and a German Shepherd. When she's not telling her kids to put their shoes on...again, you can find her catching up with her latest book boyfriend or on Pinterest pinning meals she'll probably never make. Her first book, Intercepted, was inspired by the eight years she spent as an NFL wife.


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Review: Where Winter Finds You by J.R. Ward

Posted December 6, 2019 by Casee in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Where Winter Finds You by J.R. WardReviewer: Casee
Where Winter Finds You by J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #17.5
Also in this series: Lover Unbound, Lover Avenged, Lover Unleashed, Lover at Last, Lover at Last, The King, The Shadows, The Beast, Lover Enshrined, The Chosen, Lover Mine, The Thief, The Savior
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: November 26, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 480
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2019 GoodReads Challenge, GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
two-half-stars
Series Rating: three-stars

#1 New York Times bestselling author J.R. Ward is heating things up this winter with a holiday novel featuring some of her most iconic Black Dagger Brothers.

When Trez lost his beloved to a tragic death (The Shadows, Black Dagger Brotherhood #13), his soul was crushed and his destiny seemed relegated to suffering. But when he meets a mysterious female, he becomes convinced his true love has been reincarnated. Is he right? Or has his grief created a disastrous delusion?

Therese has come to Caldwell to escape a rift with her bloodline. The revelation that she was adopted and not born into her family shakes the foundations of her identity, and she is determined to make it on her own. Her attraction to Trez is not what she’s looking for, except the sexy Shadow proves to be undeniable.

Has fate provided a grieving widower with a second chance...or is Trez too blinded by the past to see the present for what it really is? In this sensual, arresting book full of the themes of redemption and self-discovery, two lost souls find themselves at a crossroads where the heart is the only compass that can be trusted...but that may require a courage that neither of them possesses.


I don’t know how I feel about this book. My feelings are all tangled up and I can’t quite work out if I liked it or not. I’m very conflicted and I don’t appreciate that very much.

Trez’s story was told in The Shadows. That wasn’t a good book. I can see what JRW was doing as far as Trez’s story arc now that I’ve read WWFY. That doesn’t mean I liked it.

Trez lost his mate, Selena, at the end of The Shadows. She was a Chosen and she had a degenerative disease that only the Chosen get. Trez had to watch his mate die at the end and if that doesn’t mess a person up, what does?

Fast forward a few years. Therese has left home after being lied to about being adopted. Arriving in Caldwell, Therese gets a job as a waitress at Sal’s. She’s determined to support herself and to show that she can stand on her own two feet.

When Trez first lays eyes on Therese, he is floored. She looks exactly like Selena. Like a carbon copy. The feelings that he has for Therese don’t make sense unless she is Selena reincarnated.

I didn’t really care for Therese one way or another. If there was one way to go, I would say I didn’t like her. She was so selfish when she left her family, not even thinking that they were protecting her. That part just rubbed me the wrong way. I did like her reaction when she found out that Trez believed she was his mate reincarnated. I thought it was very appropriate. Other than that, I just didn’t connect with her.

View Spoiler »

 

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Black Dagger Brotherhood

two-half-stars


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Review: The Governess Game by Tessa Dare

Posted December 5, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: The Governess Game by Tessa DareReviewer: Holly
The Governess Game by Tessa Dare
Narrator: Mary Jane Wells
Series: Girl Meets Duke #2
Also in this series: The Duchess Deal , The Duchess Deal, The Governess Game , The Wallflower Wager, The Duchess Deal
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: August 28, 2018
Format: Audiobook, eBook
Source: Library, Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 373
Length: 7 hours and 23 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: GoodReads Challenge, Historical Challenge, Holly's 2019 GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 Historical Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

He’s been a bad, bad rake—and it takes a governess to teach him a lesson

The accidental governess.

After her livelihood slips through her fingers, Alexandra Mountbatten takes on an impossible post: transforming a pair of wild orphans into proper young ladies. However, the girls don’t need discipline. They need a loving home. Try telling that to their guardian, Chase Reynaud: duke’s heir in the streets and devil in the sheets. The ladies of London have tried—and failed—to make him settle down. Somehow, Alexandra must reach his heart... without risking her own.

The infamous rake.

Like any self-respecting libertine, Chase lives by one rule: no attachments. When a stubborn little governess tries to reform him, he decides to give her an education—in pleasure. That should prove he can’t be tamed. But Alexandra is more than he bargained for: clever, perceptive, passionate. She refuses to see him as a lost cause. Soon the walls around Chase’s heart are crumbling... and he’s in danger of falling, hard.


The Governess Game is the second book in Tessa Dare‘s Girl Meets Duke series. I was on a break from historical romance for years, so I missed out on this series when it was first released. I was anxious to read this book after I finished book 1, The Duchess Deal, since I wanted to know more about Alex and The Bookshop Rake. My library had the audio available, so I downloaded it to listen on my commute. When that took too long, I switched to reading the digital copy I had in my TBR.

I really enjoyed Alex and her two charges, Rosamund and Daisy. The girls were hilarious and adorable. My heart broke for them and their insecurities. Both Alex and Chase did very well with them, despite their own issues.

I didn’t enjoy the romance as much as the previous. Chase’s reasons for holding back seemed rather contrived, as I never fully connected with him on that front. That is to say, I wasn’t emotionally invested in him and his plight, so the whole thing came off as rather stupid, rather than heartbreaking. Still, I liked his friendship with Alex and how well he treated his wards. I also loved his relationship with Mr. Barrow.

The rest of the story kept me invested, however. Alex and her three friends, Chase and Alex’s friendship, the girls and even the Duke of Ashbury who comes to protect Alex’s honor…all of it was very well done.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

Girl Meets Duke

three-half-stars


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