Tag: 4.5 Reviews

Throwback Thursday Review: The Heart of a Killer by Jaci Burton

Posted August 8, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 3 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: The Heart of a Killer by Jaci BurtonReviewer: Holly
The Heart of a Killer by Jaci Burton
Series: The Killer #1
Publisher: MIRA
Publication Date: October 25, 2011
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 407
Add It: Goodreads
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four-half-stars
Series Rating: five-stars

No one said coming home would be easy. But for Dante Renaldi, it's murder.

Before the Special Forces hero has even unpacked his bags from twelve years of active duty, he's embroiled in murder—corpses bearing the brutal trademark he's seen only once before—on the worst night of his life.

The last time Detective Anna Pallino saw Dante Renaldi, they were in love. Now, he's part of the connection to a string of fresh homicides and a horrible assault that Anna only survived thanks to him.

More than anything, Anna wants to trust Dante. But as the bodies and the coincidences stack up, Anna will have to decide, and fast: Is the man she owes her life to the very same one who wants her dead?

*** Every Thursday, we’ll be posting throwback reviews of our favorite and not-so-favorite books. Enjoy! ***

Narrator: She was not, in fact, coming out of her romantic suspense funk. It’s still going, some 8 years later…

This review was originally posted on Nov 15, 2011.

It looks like I might be coming out of my romantic suspense funk. I really enjoyed this. It’s a gripping tale filled with twists and turns. I suspected the killer early on but enjoyed watching the rest figure it out.

The main – and secondary – characters were well written. Anna was annoying at times, but then so was Dante. They have a lot of baggage between the two of them. It was hard watching them struggle to get over their past feelings and focus on the present. Especially Anna. She really clung to her hurt and anger over Dante leaving so abruptly.

Aside from that, I found both characters to be well balanced and likable. The trauma they suffered when Anna was attacked followed them through their lives. Burton did a bang up job of showing us how each of them was still dealing with what happened that night. I felt really connected to them, and understood where each of them was at.

The romance was very well done. Anna and Dante had a lot of chemistry, but physical attraction isn’t everything. Their emotional connection was strong despite the long separation. Between the two – the physical and emotional – I was fully invested in them finding their HEA.

I figured out pretty early on who the villain was, but I enjoyed watching the others clue in. I’m really looking forward to the next installment.

Burton balanced the suspense and romance perfectly. Fans of her more erotic romance titles might be disappointed – there isn’t a lot of sex here. Personally I think that worked in the context of the story and didn’t take away from the romance at all.

Overall a well written, chilling suspense flavored with the perfect amount of romance.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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

four-half-stars


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Review: Rock Chick Reawakening

Posted July 26, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Rock Chick ReawakeningReviewer: Holly
Rock Chick Reawakening by Kristen Ashley
Narrator: Susannah Jones
Series: Rock Chick #0.5
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: January 3, 2017
Format: eBook, Audiobook
Source: Purchased, Audible Escape
Point-of-View: Alternating
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 207
Length: 5 hours and 8 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-half-stars
Series Rating: five-stars

From New York Times bestselling author, Kristen Ashley, comes the long-awaited story of Daisy and Marcus, Rock Chick Reawakening. A prequel to Kristen’s Rock Chick series, Rock Chick Reawakening shares the tale of the devastating event that nearly broke Daisy, an event that set Marcus Sloane—one of Denver’s most respected businessmen and one of the Denver underground’s most feared crime bosses—into finally making his move to win the heart of the woman who stole his.

Rock Chick Reawakening is a prequel novella by Kristen Ashley featuring Daisy and Marcus Sloan, set in the Rock Chick world. For some reason I thought Daisy and Marcus got a full-length novel. I’m glad that wasn’t the case. This novella was perfect for them. I’ve read it before, but I decided to give the audio a try after I saw it on the Audible Romance Package. I really enjoyed the narrator and fell right into the story again.

With the exception of Rock Chick Regret, I don’t really care for the Rock Chick series. They’re all zany and over-the-top, which can work for Ashley, but doesn’t in this case. They border on being too campy and ridiculous for me to enjoy. Still, I love Daisy in the novels and I was so glad to see her get a novella of her own. She and Marcus are together throughout the series, so seeing how they came to be was great.

Daisy grew up poor in a small Southern town. Her mama was the town slut, and people never let her forget it. Until a kind, wealthy woman, Miss Annamae, her mom worked for took Daisy under her wing. She taught her all the lessons a Southern lady should know. She also gave her an extremely valuable gift – a set of pearls – so that Daisy would have the means to escape her mother when the time came. Daisy took advantage of that and grabbed a bus to Colorado, where she turned to stripping to make money. Daisy is fine with who she is – brash, bold and happy about it. Until she’s violently attacked and loses her confidence.

Marcus has wanted Daisy from the moment he set eyes on her, but he had to focus on other things and didn’t feel like he could pursue her. Until the attack left her vulnerable, and he could no longer stay away. He wants to put Daisy in a castle and protect her, but first he has to convince her he’s a Knight in Shining Armor, and not a frog.

This is a difficult story to read at times. Daisy is such a bright, shining light in the beginning. I loved her confidence and how well she accepts who and what she is. She doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with her making money as a stripper – hell, she was able to buy a Porche her first month – and she’s good with how she dresses and who she is.

I looked like Dolly Parton impossibly created a love child with Peg Bundy (no, I rocked that look).

Then she’s attacked and loses her confidence. Though Ashley tends to write in a lighter fashion, the themes in this novel are dark. My heart broke for Daisy.

And I was finally getting it. Finally. They treated me like trash because that was what I was.

Marcus isn’t living his life 100% in the light. A lot of his business interests are illegal (though Ashley doesn’t go into much detail about what that means). But I really loved the way he was with Daisy. He worked hard to pull Daisy out of a bad time in her life. He was strong and supportive, and his actions really touched me. He doesn’t want Daisy to be anything but what she is. He loves her big hair and brash personality.

“I’ve been waiting thirty-five years for you to come into my life, Daisy,” he whispered fiercely.

View Spoiler »

Although this isn’t a perfect story, it’s sweet and touching. It really worked for me.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Rock Chick

four-half-stars


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Throwback Thursday Review: Down London Road by Samantha Young

Posted July 25, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Throwback Thursday Review: Down London Road by Samantha YoungReviewer: Holly
Down London Road by Samantha Young
Series: On Dublin Street #2
Also in this series: On Dublin Street , Down London Road (On Dublin Street, #2), Before Jamaica Lane (On Dublin Street, #3), Before Jamaica Lane, Castle Hill, Fall From India Place, Fall From India Place, Fall from India Place , Castle Hill, Echoes of Scotland Street , Moonlight on Nightingale Way, Moonlight on Nightingale Way, One King's Way, One King's Way, One King's Way, On Hart's Boardwalk (On Dublin Street #6.7) , On Hart's Boardwalk, Echoes of Scotland Street
Publisher: NAL
Publication Date: May 7, 2013
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance, New Adult
Pages: 369
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Johanna Walker is used to taking charge. But she’s about to meet someone who will make her lose control...

It has always been up to Johanna to care for her family, particularly her younger brother, Cole. With an absent father and a useless mother, she’s been making decisions based on what’s best for Cole for as long as she can remember. She even determines what men to date by how much they can provide for her brother and her, not on whatever sparks may—or may not—fly.

But with Cameron MacCabe, the attraction is undeniable. The sexy new bartender at work gives her butterflies every time she looks at him. And for once, Jo is tempted to put her needs first. Cam is just as obsessed with getting to know Jo, but her walls are too solid to let him get close enough to even try.

Then Cam moves into the flat below Jo’s, and their blistering connection becomes impossible to ignore. Especially since Cam is determined to uncover all of Jo’s secrets... even if it means taking apart her defenses piece by piece.

*** Every Thursday, we’ll be posting throwback reviews of our favorite and not-so-favorite books. Enjoy! ***

I recently re-read this book and it was just as good as the first time. Although I enjoyed most of this series, Down London Road remains my favorite.

This review was originally posted on May 3, 2013.

We first met Johanna Walker in On Dublin Street. She was Joss’s good friend and co-worker. She was also a shameless gold digger. She was portrayed as a blond bimbo who was just looking for a man to take care of her. Yet even in that story we see there’s more to her, since she takes care of her younger brother, Cole.

Here we finally learn what’s behind the bimbo mask Jo wears. Yes, she dates older, wealthy men. But she’s never been with someone she didn’t genuinely care about. And who can blame her for wanting stability and wealth when she has her younger brother to think of?

Until she meets Cameron McCabe at an art show. Cameron seems to see right through her, into her very soul. They have an immediate attraction and Jo, for the very first time ever, craves a man who won’t be any good for her family. Until Cam opens his mouth and ruins it by jumping to conclusions about her and making her feel bad about herself.

Thanks to his harsh words, she starts seeing herself in a new light, and what she sees isn’t good. When Cam gets a job bartending with her, then moves into the flat below hers, she’s forced to admit she wants him, even if he is a total jerk. But when Cam realizes he was wrong about Jo and presses her to explore what’s between them, she’ll have to choose between doing something for herself and the stability of providing for her family..

The truth about Johanna isn’t that she’s a gold digger. She’s just desperate to provide a good life for her brother. She grew up with an abusive father who finally disappeared when she was around 10. Since then she’s been caring for her younger brother, as her mother is nothing but a drunk. And not a functional drunk, either, a bed-ridden one. Jo dropped out of high school at 16 to get a job to support them and she’s determined that Cole with have a better life than she did.

Because she’s uneducated, she knows there isn’t much hope of her providing a stable life for Cole….unless she can find a man. She might be dumb, but she’s pretty and that’s enough to get her what she needs. The interesting thing is that though she takes gifts from her boyfriends, she doesn’t ask them to support her. She doesn’t have them pay her bills, or give her cash. They buy her gifts she later sells on ebay for money, but she won’t take money from them direct. She also works two jobs.

In this, Young did an excellent job of showing us both sides of Jo. The insecure girl who has a fear of poverty and the strong, independent woman who only wants the best for her younger brother (who is really more like her son). I’m not sure she would have worked quite so well if there hadn’t been such a good balance between strong and vulnerable.

Cam hits every one of her insecurities right in the heart. He judges her and makes her feel less than she already does. She’s used to people thinking the worst of her, but for some reason his scorn really cuts her to the quick. Although it was hard to read those parts with Cam being such a jerk at times, I feel they were necessary to force Jo to really look inside herself and find her worth. She has to look inside herself to find out why his opinion of her matters so much, and what she can do to live up to his expectations.

That isn’t to say she changes for him. I think this book is as much Jo’s personal journey as it is a romance. She doesn’t want to change to be the person he wants her to be, but she wants to stop being the insecure woman who jumps at her own shadow. Cam was merely the catalyst for this transformation.

Cam is a tough character to like in the beginning. His disapproval of Jo and her lifestyle is understandable in one respect, as he isn’t too far off the mark about her. Yet he goes too far, jumping to conclusions and saying things that are way out of line. But we see there’s more to him than the judgmental jerk we meet in the beginning. Jo sees flashes of kindness in him almost immediately and as the story progresses he’s revealed as a strong, steady man who knows himself and is willing to put himself out there for those he cares about.

Aside from the fact that Jo and Cam are both dating other people, there’s added drama that comes from Jo’s life. Her alcoholic mother, gone but not forgotten abusive father and surrogate uncle who abandoned her. She has to overcome all of these obstacles in order to have happiness with Cam. I liked that her self-awareness grows as she does.

This is a novel of multi-faceted characters filled with emotion and depth. Highly recommended.

4.5/5

On Dublin Street

This book was provided by the publisher for an honest review.

four-half-stars


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Throwback Thursday Review: A Little Less Talk and A Lot More Action by LuAnn McLane

Posted June 20, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: A Little Less Talk and A Lot More Action by LuAnn McLaneReviewer: Rowena
A Little Less Talk and a Lot More Action by LuAnn McLane
Publisher: Signet
Publication Date: July 1, 2008
Format: Print
Source: Publisher
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 283
Add It: Goodreads
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four-half-stars

Macy?s chance for love is slipping from her fingers. College football coach Luke Carter has a penchant for hot-bodied babes, not curvy hairdressers like Macy. And some big-time schools may be luring him away. Then a country singing star?s hair emergency turns into a big break for Macy.

Making it in Nashville boosts Macy?s confidence, but when Luke interviews for a job at a local university, she?ll have to put up or shut up?or lose him forever?

*** Every Thursday, we’ll be posting throwback reviews of our favorite and not-so-favorite books. Enjoy! ***

This review was originally posted on June 25, 2008.

What a fun book!

Over the weekend, Daphne and I went out to Holly’s house for some rest and relaxation and I picked this book up and read the entire thing. It was such a cute little book that I couldn’t stop reading it. It’s funny how readers are, Daphne and I drove the two hours out to Holly’s house and we spent most of our time, quiet and reading.

It was glorious!

This book is about Macy McCoy and Luke Carter. Luke Carter is Macy’s best friend’s older brother and Macy has had a crush on him for the longest time. She’s a hairstylist and she’s destined for great things. She gets really close with Luke, when his little sister Jamie Lee and his best friend, Griff Sheldon get married. She’s the Maid of Honor and he’s the Best Man and they were together a lot and Macy loved every moment of it. She was the Queen of Wishful Thinking and she fantasized about being Luke’s love and when she finally realizes that maybe Luke might feel the same way, it was such a treat to see the two of these get together.

This book was such a fun read. It had that country feel to it that I absolutely loved and it was just one of those fast, light reads that are perfect for summer. It’s filled to the brim with laugh out scenes and an adorable romance.

I loved that Luke didn’t want to hold Macy back from anything and they’re small-town crush on each other was just too effing cute. Some of the dialogue was pretty cheesy but that didn’t take away from my enjoyment of this book. There were so many other things about this book to like that the cheesy dialogue wasn’t anything.

Luke was adorable, Macy was great and the secondary characters were just fab. I enjoyed Jamie Lee and Griff (I’m so going to read their book soon because theirs came first), I loved Tammy, Sam and Lilly, and Boone, even Brandon. I can’t wait to read more by this author because this book was really great.

It was light, funny and sexy, a sexy romp and I totally recommend this book to anyone who loves country music and contemporary romances. This is a great book to read at the beach, at the park, by the pool, or anywhere…it’s just one of those cute romances that makes you smile afterward. I loved all of the country music mentioned in this book, Summertime by Kenny Chesney, Settlin’ by Sugarland, Carrie Underwood, Faith Hill, Dierks Bentley, all of my favorite country stars were mentioned in this book and I enjoyed that because I actually knew all of the songs that were mentioned and that doesn’t usually happen much with me, it made this book that much more fun for me and I just really enjoyed this book.

Too cute!

Grade: 4.5 out of 5

This book is available from Penguin Books. You can buy it here.

four-half-stars


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Review: Magic Rises by Ilona Andrews

Posted June 7, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Magic Rises by Ilona AndrewsReviewer: Holly
Magic Rises by Ilona Andrews
Narrator: Renee Raudman
Series: Kate Daniels #6
Also in this series: Magic Shifts, Magic Shifts, Magic Binds, Magic Bites, Magic Strikes, Iron and Magic, Magic Triumphs, Magic Bites, Magic Bleeds , Magic Burns, Magic Strikes , Magic Slays , Gunmetal Magic
Publisher: Ace
Publication Date: July 30, 2013
Format: Audiobook, eBook
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 327
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-half-stars
Series Rating: four-half-stars

Atlanta is a city plagued by magical problems. Kate Daniels will fight to solve them—no matter the cost.

Mercenary Kate Daniels and her mate, Curran, the Beast Lord, are struggling to solve a heartbreaking crisis. Unable to control their beasts, many of the Pack’s shapeshifting children fail to survive to adulthood. While there is a medicine that can help, the secret to its making is closely guarded by the European packs, and there’s little available in Atlanta.

Kate can’t bear to watch innocents suffer, but the solution she and Curran have found threatens to be even more painful. The European shapeshifters who once outmaneuvered the Beast Lord have asked him to arbitrate a dispute—and they’ll pay him in medicine. With the young people’s survival and the Pack’s future at stake, Kate and Curran know they must accept the offer—but they have little doubt that they’re heading straight into a trap…

Magic Rises by Ilona Andrews is the 6th book in the Kate Daniels series. I love Kate, Curran and all the rest. I’m always excited to fall back into this world.

This book really brought Kate’s past to the forefront and gave us insight into what she’ll be dealing with when the fight with her father finally comes to fruition. I probably shouldn’t, but I really like Hugh. I love how he needles Kate and Curran.

Speaking of Curran..I wanted to beat him in this book. I knew there had to be a reason for him to act the way he did, but it didn’t make it easier to read. My heart broke for Kate. It isn’t often I truly want to smack Curran, but it happened here.

Her sparring session with Hugh was one of the highlights of the book.

And I cried toward the end. Sniffle.

The world and these characters are so complex and well-nuanced. My emotions were engaged from the first page. This series is not to be missed.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Kate Daniels

four-half-stars


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