Genre: Contemporary Romance

Sunday Spotlight: Wild Fire by Kristen Ashley

Posted September 20, 2020 by Casee in Features, Giveaways | 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: Wild Fire by Kristen AshleyWild Fire by Kristen Ashley
Series: Chaos #6.5
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: September 22, 2020
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 220
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Kristen Ashley brings a new story in her Chaos series…
“You know you can’t keep a good brother down.”
The Chaos Motorcycle Club has won its war. But not every brother rode into the sunset with his woman on the back of his bike.
Chaos returns with the story of Dutch Black, a man whose father was the moral compass of the Club, until he was murdered. And the man who raised Dutch protected the Club at all costs. That combination is the man Dutch is intent on becoming.
It’s also the man that Dutch is going to go all out to give to his woman.
**Every 1001 Dark Nights novella is a standalone story. For new readers, it’s an introduction to an author’s world. And for fans, it’s a bonus book in the author’s series. We hope you'll enjoy each one as much as we do.**

Excerpt

Invisible Man, this for you, or someone else?” Duke asked, taking Dutch’s attention, and Dutch realized he was so lost to his thoughts, he was working on autopilot and hadn’t noticed he’d approached the register and laid down his books.

“Someone else,” Dutch answered.

“You read it?” Duke asked.

“Yeah,” Dutch told him.

“Whole world should read it,” Duke muttered, jabbing a thick finger against the screen of the tablet that stood in for a till.

“Yeah,” Dutch agreed. “Listen, you wouldn’t have any copies of The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas that haven’t been shelved yet, would you?”

Duke shook his head. “Not many givin’ up that book. We get one, you want me to call you?”

He could go to Barnes and Noble, easy.

With Tex as her barista, not to mention Indy and her crew all being the subject of those books that had been published, so folks came in all the time, Indy wasn’t hurting for customers, or cash.

Still, Dutch bought his books exclusively from Fortnum’s.

And he had a lot of books.

He had no idea why Fortnum’s was his go-to. It wasn’t about buying local or any of that other millennial shit.

Thinking on it, it was the fact he liked the vibe.

It was the fact that walking in there was like walking into someone’s house.

Like coming home.

To family.

Shaking off his thoughts, he agreed, “That’d be cool.”

“You wanna stay for a cup o’ joe and a talk?” Duke asked, and Dutch hid his surprise.

The man hadn’t approached. Not in word or deed.

There were the looks he gave Dutch, the ones he exchanged with Tex.

But he never said dick.

“No, got shit to do this afternoon,” he lied.

He had no shit to do that afternoon.

Or at all.

Ever.

“Boy—” Duke started.

“I’m not a boy,” Dutch bit.

His temper wasn’t usually short, but these days, it could be.

This was why Duke blinked.

He then said, “Son—”

“I’m not your son either,” Dutch returned.

“Right then.” Duke’s voice was no longer a friendly rumble. It was tight. “First, my age can’t have escaped you, considerin’ all this gray hair and wrinkles, so you are a boy to me, and you will be until you’re sixty and I’m dead. And second, any man’s a man at all, a man that’s younger than him and obviously struggling is his son. A son he looks after.”

Christ, was he not hiding it?

“I’m not struggling,” he lied again.

“Dutch—”

“Brother, just ring me up so I can get on with my day,” Dutch demanded.

Duke was silent a beat.

He then finished ringing him up, and Dutch paid.

“No bag,” he grunted.

Duke slid the books over the counter toward Dutch.

Dutch had turned, avoiding Tex’s eyes as he did, and started heading toward the door when Duke called, “You know that door is always open, but the one to my cabin in Evergreen is too, man.”

Chaos

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: September 2020

Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!

About Kristen Ashley

Kristen Ashley is the New York Times bestselling author of over sixty romance novels including the Rock Chick, Colorado Mountain, Dream Man, Chaos, Unfinished Hero, The ’Burg, Magdalene, Fantasyland, The Three, Ghost and Reincarnation, Moonlight and Motor Oil and Honey series along with several standalone novels. She’s a hybrid author, publishing titles both independently and traditionally, her books have been translated in fourteen languages and she’s sold over three million books.

Kristen, born in Gary and raised in Brownsburg, Indiana, was a fourth-generation graduate of Purdue University. Since, she has lived in Denver, the West Country of England, and now she resides in Phoenix. She worked as a charity executive for eighteen years prior to beginning her independent publishing career. She currently writes full-time.


Tagged: , , ,

Guest Review: The Wedding Date Disaster by Avery Flynn

Posted September 18, 2020 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: The Wedding Date Disaster by Avery FlynnReviewer: Tracy
The Wedding Date Disaster by Avery Flynn
Publisher: Entangled: Amara
Publication Date: August 25, 2020
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Third person
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 330
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
two-stars

Hadley Donavan can’t believe she has to go home to Nebraska for her sister’s wedding. She’s gonna need a wingman and a whole lot of vodka for this level of family interaction. At least her bestie agreed he’d man up and help. But then instead of her best friend, his evil twin strolls out of the airport.

If you looked up doesn’t-deserve-to-be-that-confident, way-too-hot-for-his-own-good billionaire in the dictionary, you’d find a picture of Will Holt. He’s awful. Horrible. The worst―even if his butt looks phenomenal in those jeans.
Ten times worse? Hadley’s buffer was supposed to be there to keep her away from the million and one family events. But Satan’s spawn just grins and signs them up for every. Single. Thing.

Fine. “Cutthroat” Scrabble? She’s in. She can’t wait to take this guy down a notch. But somewhere between Pictionary and the teasing glint in his eyes, their bickering starts to feel like more than just a game…

Hadley Donavan is a Nebraska girl who left the ranch to live in the “big” city.  She’s been working and loves her job, but her best friend’s brother shows up to an event that will make or break her next promotion.  They are arguing, but end up getting caught kissing in the coat check and Hadley gets fired instead of getting a promotion.

Will Holt is a man who has been hurt by gold-diggers in the past.  He is attracted to Hadley but refuses to admit it.  He’s talked himself into hating her and treats her like shit.  He is determined to get her away from his brother, Web, and prove that she’s just after his millions.

Web is supposed to be Hadley’s wedding date for her sister’s wedding in Nebraska.  She wants a buffer so that her family won’t ask too many questions and she can have an excuse to not spend too much time with them.  Unfortunately, Will ends up attending when Web gets food poisoning.  Hadley is furious but has no choice but to deal with him for the week that they are in Nebraska.

I can’t say that I read too many haters-to-lovers romances and now I know why.  I don’t like them.  I don’t like that the “heroes” always end up treating the heroines like crap and it just makes it harder for them to redeem themselves.  In this story Will really liked Hadley, but was jaded by his past and couldn’t believe that she was just friends with his brother. Because of this he was just mean to her, for most of the book (he was nice for about a chapter), I might add, and his groveling at the end didn’t redeem him in my eyes.  He was an idiot up until the last couple of pages before the epilogue.  Yeah, no, that doesn’t work for me.

I found Hadley annoying.  She did get better once she got around her family, thank heavens, but even then, I didn’t really understand her.  I get that she had portrayed her life in the city as perfect in order to prove to her family that she could make it.  I get that she didn’t want too many questions asked by her family and that’s why she brought a buffer.  But really?  Hadley’s family was amazing and not the judgmental family I expected.  They were not the type of family that needed things to be perfect – they were supportive no matter what.  So her growing up in that family but yet not knowing them at all?  Just weird.  The puzzle pieces didn’t fit for me.

Unfortunately this was not a fun read for me and I found myself skimming a lot because there was a metric ton of introspection, which just got old after a while. I think I’m in the minority when it comes to my feelings on this book so you judge for yourself whether it works for you or not.  For me, that would be not.

Rating: 2 out of 5

two-stars


Tagged: , , , , , ,

Review. The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

Posted September 16, 2020 by Holly in Reviews | 3 Comments

Review. The Flatshare by Beth O’LearyReviewer: Holly
The Flatshare by Beth O'Leary
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publication Date: April 18, 2019
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 400
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2020 Reading Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-half-stars


Tiffy and Leon share a flat

Tiffy and Leon share a bed

Tiffy and Leon have never met…

Tiffy Moore needs a cheap flat, and fast. Leon Twomey works nights and needs cash. Their friends think they’re crazy, but it’s the perfect solution: Leon occupies the one-bed flat while Tiffy’s at work in the day, and she has the run of the place the rest of the time.

But with obsessive ex-boyfriends, demanding clients at work, wrongly imprisoned brothers and, of course, the fact that they still haven’t met yet, they’re about to discover that if you want the perfect home you need to throw the rulebook out the window…

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary is a contemporary romance told in alternating first person and epistolary format. Rowena mentioned this book to me around the time it was released, but I completely forgot about it until I saw The Switch had come out. I requested The Switch from the library, but there was a wait, so I decided to read this one instead.

Tiffany Moore needs a cheap place to live ASAP. Her on-again/off-again boyfriend of several years has suddenly come home with a new woman, and she’s convinced him to put Tiffy out. Her options are a moldy, crumbling flat that should be condemned, or a flatshare – where two people share the same one-bedroom flat at opposite times of the day. She chooses the flatshare.

Leon Twomey is in desperate need of an extra £350 per month to help pay for her brother’s legal fees. Since he works as an overnight palliative care nurse, he figures a flatshare is the easiest way to make the extra he needs. He’ll have access to the flat from 8am-6pm, and his flatmate will have it during the evenings and weekends.

Leon and Tiffy haven’t met, but sharing a bed and a flat, not to mention daily notes, bring them together. Between his wrongfully imprisoned brother and search for a long-lost-love for a patient at work, and her crazy ex-boyfriend and work projects, they have a lot to share. Leon is an introvert who is happiest when things are quiet and he’s alone. Tiffany is an extrovert who is happiest surrounded by chaos. The two shouldn’t have anything in common, but as they come to know one another through their shared flat and notes, they realize they share more than they think.

Tiffy is dealing with the realization that the relationship she’s been in for years was very unhealthy. With the help of her friends, a therapist and Leon, she’s beginning to deal with repressed trauma over the emotional abuse she suffered while with her controlling ex. I thought that aspect of the novel was well done. We don’t always see what’s happening in the moment, and it takes some space for us to realize how bad a situation has gotten. I really liked that Tiffy’s friends were supportive and helped her realize how awful her relationship was, while also giving her space to figure things out on her own.

Leon is struggling to deal with the incarceration of his brother, Richie. He was sent to prison for 7 years for armed robbery, but Leon knows he’s innocent. He’s trying to find out information from Richie’s attorney about their appeal, and also be strong for his mam. To take his mind off his problems, and to keep him busy on the weekends when he isn’t allowed at his flat, he’s begun the search for Jonathan White, the lover one of his patients had back in WWII.

Leon and Tiffany both came alive on page. They felt like real people with real friendships. I loved how they grew and changed, together, yet separate.

I smile. The note is stuck on the fridge, which is already one layer deep in Post-its. My current favorite is a doodle Leon did, depicting the man in Flat 5 sitting on an enormous heap of bananas. (We still don’t know why he keeps so many banana crates in his parking space.)

I rest my forehead against the fridge door for a moment, then run my fingers across the layers of paper scraps and Post-its. There’s so much here. Jokes, secrets, stories, the slow unfolding of two people whose lives have been changing in parallel―or, I don’t know, in sync. Different time, same place.

There was quite a bit of humor, especially when it came to Tiffy’s co-worker, Rachel. I cracked up on more than one occasion because of her jokes and antics.

Tiffany [9:07 a.m.]: It was really weird. I literally told her the most embarrassing stuff about me within like ten minutes of meeting her.
Rachel [9:08 a.m.]: Did you tell her about when you vomited in your hair on the night bus?
Tiffany [9:10 a.m.]: Well, that didn’t actually come up.
Rachel [9:11 a.m.]: How about the time you broke that guy’s penis at university?
Tiffany [9:12 a.m.]: Didn’t come up, either.
Rachel [9:12 a.m.]: That’s what he said.

This was such a cute, uplifting story. I really loved how it was told from both points-of-view, and also through the notes they wrote to each other. I smiled my way through this book, and I can’t wait to read more from O’Leary.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5

four-half-stars


Tagged: , , , , , ,

Sunday Spotlight: Lies and Lullabies by Sarina Bowen

Posted September 13, 2020 by Casee in Features, Giveaways | 6 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: Lies and Lullabies by Sarina BowenLies and Lullabies by Sarina Bowen
Series: Hush Note #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: September 22, 2020
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 300
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books

Summer nights and star-crossed lovers! From USA Today bestselling author Sarina Bowen.
Once upon a time, he gave me a summer of friendship, followed by one perfect night. We shared a lot during our short time together. But he skipped a few crucial details.
I didn’t know he was a rock star.
I didn’t know his real name.
Neither of us knew I’d get pregnant.
And I sure never expected to see him again.
Five years later, his tour bus pulls up in Nest Lake, Maine. My little world is about to be shattered by loud music and the pounding of my own foolish heart.

Excerpt

The water lapped gently under the dock. If I turned around, he might not truly be standing there. I held my breath.
That’s when he began to whistle softly. The first four bars of “You Are My Sunshine.”
Goosebumps rose on my arms.
“You remember,” I gasped, whirling around. Five years later, and he still knew to warn me. He hadn’t forgotten that I used to startle if he—or anyone else—approached me from behind.
He walked towards me slowly, his hands spread wide, muscular arms on display. His hair was shorter now, but still the most beautiful shade of sandy blond. “Of course I remember, sweetness. Never sneak up on Kira.”
At that, my eyes filled with tears.
“Hey, now,” he said gently. He’d made it all the way out on the dock, so close I could almost touch him. His blue-green eyes regarded me warmly. “I’m sorry to take you by surprise. Don’t I get a hug?”
Lord, I needed to get a grip. I took a step towards him, and he folded me in. He smelled the same, like sunshine and soap.
It hurt so much to see him again. It was excruciating to be wrapped in his hug.
“God, I’ve missed you,” he said.
And I had absolutely no reply to that. My heart urged me to hold on tightly and never let go. To confess that I thought of him every single day.
But I didn’t do it. Because I was still so angry, too.
Drawing off that anger, I summoned a little willpower, stepping backward, freeing myself. “If I ask how you’ve been, which name should I use? Jonas or John?”
A look of dismay creased his handsome face, his eyes closing for a moment, before opening again to pin me with a turquoise gaze. “Kira, I’m so sorry about that. That summer I was just trying to get away from it all.”
I swallowed. “Really? But I told you all my secrets. You must have thought that was pretty funny.”
He blinked, his face as stunned as if I’d slapped him. “Jesus, Kira. Never.”
That wasn’t the reaction I’d been expecting. And it was suddenly very hard to hold his gaze. I’d spent the last few years shaping my idea of him to match the pictures I saw in Us Weekly. The problem was that the guy standing in front of me on the dock did not look like the frivolous celebrity in those articles. This was the same man I’d met all those years ago. His face was open and youthful, his voice rich and mellow. His gaze seemed to touch me everywhere at once, making me feel flushed and confused.
He stepped forward again and wrapped his arms around me. And I let him. I took a deep breath of him, and my heart began to gallop again. When I put my arms around his back, I felt his lips press against my hairline. It was a chaste kiss between old friends.
Or rather, it should have been. But the feel of his lips on my skin sent a charge through my body. Tipping my face to meet his wasn’t even a conscious act. It was more like the inevitable result of a five-year absence and Earth’s gravitational pull.
When I moved my chin, his lips slid softly down my cheekbone. Still, it might have ended there. He might have released me, but he didn’t. “Sweetness,” he whispered.
And then? His kiss slid to the corner of my mouth, pausing there, hovering. Torturing us both.
I couldn’t resist. I leaned forward an immeasurably small distance. At that, he made a low sound in the back of his throat. He melded his mouth onto mine, his hands curving around my lower back. With a sigh, he teased my lips apart until his warm tongue met mine.
The next moments were lost to me. I melted against his body, knowing nothing except the stroke of his tongue against my own and the feel of his breath against my face. His strong arms held me in their grasp. It was the sound of my own gasp that finally brought me back down to earth. And I became aware that someone was standing on the little beach nearby, watching us.
“Oh my God, your…” Horror stopped me from finishing the sentence.
He looked over his shoulder without releasing me from his grasp. “My drummer,” he said quickly. “We’re old friends.”
I pushed on his chest until he took a step backwards. I was hot and confused. I needed oxygen and time to think. “Look… we need to talk.” I couldn’t tell him my secret now. Not with an audience. And not without a little rehearsal. “Tomorrow,” I added.
“Okay,” he said, his voice low and even. “I’d like that.”
“Um, lunch?” I asked, my eyes on my shoes. I couldn’t quite catch my breath. There wasn’t enough oxygen in the atmosphere anymore. There might never be again.

Hush Note

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: September 2020

Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!

About Sarina Bowen

Sarina Bowen is the RITA® Award winning author of over two dozen contemporary and LGTB romance novels. She most recently hit the USA Today bestseller's list in February, with Brooklynaire. Formerly a derivatives trader on Wall Street, Sarina holds a BA in economics from Yale University.

Sarina Bowen is a New Englander whose Vermont ancestors cut timber and farmed the north country since the 1760s. Sarina is grateful for the invention of indoor plumbing and wi-fi during the intervening 250 years. On a few wooded acres, she lives with her husband, two boys, and an ungodly amount of ski and hockey gear.

Sarina's books are published in a dozen languages on four continents. In 2016, The Romance Writers of America honored HIM by Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy with a RITA award for Best Contemporary Romance, Mid-Length.


Tagged: , , ,

Review: A Winning Season by Rochelle Alers

Posted September 7, 2020 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: A Winning Season by Rochelle AlersReviewer: Holly
A Winning Season by Rochelle Alers
Series: Wickham Falls Weddings #10
Publisher: Harlequin Special Edition
Publication Date: September 1, 2020
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 224
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2020 New to Me Challenge, New to Me Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Sliding home…for a lifetime
The girl next door…
Or a grand slam love?



Baseball ace Sutton Reed’s returned home triumphant after years in the majors. When he moves next door to a troubled young man, he’s determined to help—for the boy’s sake and for the boy’s gorgeous older sister, Zoey Allen. After sacrificing everything to keep her family together, Zoey has no time for romance…even with a hometown hero. But will this unlikely combo be the home run love story they all deserve?
Nationally Bestselling Author

I hadn’t read Alers before, but I was in the mood for a sweet contemporary when I found this while browsing NetGalley. I’m a total sucker for Single Mom/Sisters who step up stories, and the premise appealed to me. I had a few issues with the writing, but I really liked the story overall.

Zoey’s parents unexpectedly pass away when she’s 18, and she fights to get custody of her two younger brothers, who are 6 and 8. She’s put her life on hold to raise them, but it’s been ten years. When her youngest brother graduates high school, she plans to finally realize her dream of attending nursing school and maybe travel a bit. Until retired Major League Baseball star Sutton Reed moves in next door…

Sutton only planned to spend a year in his hometown while he worked out his next plan after he retires from the majors, but one look at his sexy new neighbor and he knows he’s in trouble. Zoey is everything he ever wanted in a woman, and mentoring her younger brother Harper fulfills him in unexpected ways. Convincing Zoey they should be together long term will take all of his skill…but he’s playing to win.

I loved the relationship between Harper and Zoey (the older brother, Kyle, has joined the Marine Corps and is only mentioned in this book). She had a hard road taking on her brothers and raising them to be men, but she never shied away from it. She was strong and knew herself well. I really enjoyed her character, and her family.

Sutton was also a great character. He was raised by a single-mom and wants nothing more than to work with kids and settle down with his own family now that he’s retired from the majors. He really falls in love with Zoey and her brother, and I loved how committed he was to them both.

There were a couple continuity errors, but they didn’t take away from my overall enjoyment of the story.

This was a sweet book, focused on family and love. I liked the romance and the way Zoey and Sutton came to care for and rely on one another.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

Wickham Falls Weddings

four-stars


Tagged: , , , , , ,