Tag: 4.5 Reviews

Joint Review: Don’t You Forget About Me by Mhairi McFarlane

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

Joint Review: Don’t You Forget About Me by Mhairi McFarlaneReviewer: Holly and Rowena
Don't You Forget About Me by Mhairi McFarlane
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: January 10, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Women's Fiction
Pages: 433
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
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four-half-stars

Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom to rise again…

The hilarious new heartbreaker from Mhairi McFarlane!

If there’s one thing worse than being fired from the grottiest restaurant in town, it’s coming home early to find your boyfriend in bed with someone else.

Reeling from the indignity of a double dumping on the same day, Georgina snatches at the next job that she’s offered – barmaid in a newly opened pub, which just so happens to run by the boy she fell in love with at school: Lucas McCarthy. And whereas Georgina (voted Most Likely to Succeed in her school yearbook) has done nothing but dead-end jobs in the last twelve years, Lucas has not only grown into a broodingly handsome man, but also has turned into an actual grown-up with a business and a dog along the way.

Meeting Lucas again not only throws Georgina’s rackety present into sharp relief, but also brings a dark secret from her past bubbling to the surface. Only she knows the truth about what happened on the last day of school, and why she’s allowed it to chase her all these years…

Georgina Horspool is having a pretty awful day. She gets fired from one of the crappies restaurants in town, then goes home and finds her boyfriend in bed with someone else. But it turns out those might have been blessings in disguise, since that leads her into a job at a new pub. Except it turns out her ONE TRUE LOVE from high school, is one of the owners. Only, it turns out he doesn’t remember her. George can’t decide if she’s thrilled or heartbroken about that. As she learns from past mistakes and tries to go forward is a positive way, she finds herself falling in love with this boy all over again…

Holly: I got the audiobook so I could listen while I was at work and on my commute. I enjoyed the narrator, but she had a pretty heavy British accent that was hard to understand at times. I listened to about half, then read the rest.

What did you think?

Rowena: I read my eARC of this book so I had no problem with the accents in my head. LOL. I really enjoyed this one. Right from the jump, I was invested in what happened between Georgina and Lucas. There were parts of the book that moved slowly but for most the part, I wanted to know what happened at every turn. Sure, I wanted knee Lucas in the balls a time or two but in the end, I really liked him and Georgina together.

Holly: I wouldn’t classify this as romance. It definitely read more like women’s fiction. The book was more about Georgina’s personal journey and her relationship with Lucas was a side-note. I thought it was really slow in parts, too. The middle especially seemed to drag. But, like you, I was invested in Georgina’s journey, and wanted to see how things would turn out for her and Lucas. I really liked the way the end played out, though I didn’t fully buy into their HEA. I don’t think we saw enough on-page development of their current-time romance.

Rowena: I agree I wouldn’t call this a romance either since the focus of the book was more on Georgina’s growth as a person, finally moving on from her past.

I really loved seeing Georgina’s growth. I loved seeing her really grow into an actual relationship with her sister and her mother and then eventually, with Lucas. She had a great support system and my heart hurt for her when the people in her support group found out the truth about her past. I hurt for them all. I loved her personality and seeing her really rock it up there on stage at the open mic nights. Her Mom and sister annoyed me right up until they started supporting Georgina. I couldn’t stand the Step-Dad but loved seeing Georgina’s sister really step up when Georgina needed her to.

Holly: I couldn’t stand Georgina’s step-dad either, and I felt sorry for her mom, but I’m glad she came to a good place with her family. Especially her sister, Esther. I was pissed at her a good portion of the book, but she really came through in the end.

Man, I definitely cried at the end. Her last open mic night had all the feels.

Rowena: I agree. That last open mic night made me cry and love Georgina all the more. I’m glad that everything worked out for her in the end. She definitely deserved it and I thought Lucas handled entering her life again well.

I really connected with Georgina, right from the jump and enjoyed seeing her really come into her own. I also like Mhairi McFarlane’s writing style and enjoyed the way that she brought Georgina’s world to life. I definitely want to read more books by her.

Holly: I liked McFarlane’s writing, too, and I’ll definitely be looking for more books from her in the future.

Rowena: This one was one of my favorite reads of the month and I enjoyed it so much, I’m giving it a 4.5 out of 5. What about you?

Holly: I enjoyed it, but not as much as you did. I’m going to give it 3.75 out of 5. I really liked Georgina’s personal growth, but the romance was lacking and it was really slow in the middle.

Final Grade

Holly: 3.75 out of 5
Rowena: 4.5 out of 5

four-half-stars


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Review: Brazen and the Beast by Sarah MacLean

Posted September 6, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 3 Comments

Review: Brazen and the Beast by Sarah MacLeanReviewer: Rowena
Brazen and the Beast by Sarah MacLean
Series: The Bareknuckle Bastards #2
Also in this series: Wicked and the Wallflower
Publisher: Harper Collins, Avon
Publication Date: July 30, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 400
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four-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

The Lady’s Plan

When Lady Henrietta Sedley declares her twenty-ninth year her own, she has plans to inherit her father’s business, to make her own fortune, and to live her own life. But first, she intends to experience a taste of the pleasure she’ll forgo as a confirmed spinster. Everything is going perfectly... until she discovers the most beautiful man she’s ever seen tied up in her carriage and threatening to ruin the Year of Hattie before it’s even begun.

The Bastard’s Proposal

When he wakes in a carriage at Hattie’s feet, Whit, a king of Covent Garden known to all the world as Beast, can’t help but wonder about the strange woman who frees him—especially when he discovers she’s headed for a night of pleasure... on his turf. He is more than happy to offer Hattie all she desires... for a price.

An Unexpected Passion

Soon, Hattie and Whit find themselves rivals in business and pleasure. She won’t give up her plans; he won’t give up his power... and neither of them sees that if they’re not careful, they’ll have no choice but to give up everything... including their hearts.

Brazen and the Beast is the second book in the Bareknuckle Bastards series by Sarah MacLean and it’s been getting great early reviews from all over so I was pretty excited to read it. I’m even more stoked that I agree with all of the early reviews. This book was fantastic and I absolutely adored both Hattie and Whit. Their romance had me hooked from the very beginning, until the very end. Sarah MacLean has created a world that is colorful and interesting, with characters that are swoon-worthy (both men and women) and I could not get enough in this one.

Lady Henrietta Sedley is turning 29 years old and has declared this year, “The Year of Hattie”. She has plans and on the night that she is to kick off those plans, she finds a knocked out man in her carriage. What in the hell does she do with this guy? When she finds out who the unconscious guy is in the back of her carriage, she’s even more inconvenienced because when he wakes up, he’s going to be extremely pissed because you don’t knock out one of the Bareknuckle Bastards and expect to get away with it. He’s going to want names and knowing that she can’t give him any names, Hattie has to figure out how to fix this and she’s going to need Beast to listen to reason.

When Beast wakes up, he wants names and he wants a whole lot of thing that Hattie cannot afford to give him so when she starts to negotiate with him on what she can give him, Beast is intrigued by this fiercely independent and super sexy lass that he wants to shake at the same time that he wants to kiss her senseless. The more time that he spends in her company trying to pry out of her the names of the men that abducted him, the more he gets to know her and the more that he likes her. It’s not a one-way street either. Hattie is drawn to Beast like she’s never been drawn to anyone before. She knows that she’s not the prettiest woman that someone as beautiful as Beast could have but he seems to like spending time with her so she’s going to hold him to the promise he made to her on the first night that they met. She’s going to make sure that she loses her virginity to him.

Sarah MacLean writes fantastic romantic journeys that will grip you from beginning to end. Her characters are colorful and all-around fantastic and you won’t be able to stop yourself from falling for them. She worked her magic with Devil and Felicity’s book and that magic is back with this one. Beast and Hattie were wonderful together. I loved seeing them fall in love and I loved experiencing everything between them because I felt like I was a part of the story and not merely reading it. I felt what they felt and that’s the true mark of a great author. When an author can pull you into the world they created for their characters and you can see everything and feel everything so clearly, it’s the best and MacLean really shines in this one. I definitely recommend.

Final Grade

4.5 out of 5

Bareknuckle Bastards

Daring and the Duke

four-half-stars


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Joint Review: Never Have I Ever by Lauren Blakely

Posted August 20, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Joint Review: Never Have I Ever by Lauren BlakelyReviewer: Holly and Rowena
Never Have I Ever by Lauren Blakely
Narrator: Amanda Ronconi, Jason Clarke
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: July 30, 2019
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Escape
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Length: 8 hours, 20 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
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What happens when two frenemies can't stop pushing each other's buttons? Find out in this tender, laugh-out-loud funny romance from number-one New York Times best-selling author Lauren Blakely, available in audio first!

Never Have I Ever been so infuriated by a man I wanted to kiss.

They say opposites attract, but I beg to differ. Combust is more like it. Because every single time I talk to Zach Nolan, I see red.

The too-good-looking, too-smart, too-effortlessly-charming single dad who works down the hall from me has turned getting under my skin into a sport. Call it the battle of wits between the wedding planner and the divorce attorney. Trouble is, when we’re forced into closer quarters, planning an engagement party for our best friends, I start to see his other sides.

And I fear I’m falling for the enemy.

***

I’m not out to make friends. My goals are simple -- fight till the end for my clients, and my family. The last thing I need is a vibrant, outgoing, snarky, and surprisingly big-hearted wedding planner to spend my precious free time with…except, watching Piper bond with my daughter just might break down the cinder block walls I’ve built around my heart these last few years. Second chances don’t come around for guys like me…or do they?

Rowena: Never Have I Ever is the latest contemporary romance released by Lauren Blakely and, honestly, it’s the Single Dad romance that Holly and I wanted back when we were thirsting for a good Single Dad romance. Lauren Blakely shows us again why she’s so good at her job.

Single Dad Zach Nolan is a divorce attorney who has his hands full. With his clients, his two kids and now, his best friend’s wedding. He’s only a little annoyed that this wedding is going to put him into the path of Piper Radcliff, the woman that annoys the shit out of him and has for quite some time now. They share a lot of friends and a lot of animosities as well. They’re office neighbors and Piper sparks up a friendship with Zach’s daughter so they’re in each other’s personal space a lot. When wedding preparations for their friends amp up, they get closer and that fire turns to an attraction neither of them was expecting but aren’t willing to walk away from.

Alright, what did you think, Holly?

Holly: I’ve come to expect a great story from Lauren Blakely, but honestly this one was everything I didn’t know I needed and more. I absolutely loved Zach and his kids. This is definitely the Single Dad romance I’ve been looking for.

Rowena: I haven’t read very many books from Lauren Blakely and I don’t even have a good reason. I’m just super happy that I took the time to actually listen to this because I adored it from beginning to end. I thought both of the narrators were fantastic throughout the entire story and it was by far, my favorite narration job of all of the audiobooks that I’ve listened to so far. Jason Clarke??? I need to listen to more of his books.

Holly: I really loved the narrators, too. I’ve listened to a lot of audiobooks narrated by Amanda Ronconi, but this is one of my favorites. Jason Clarke was great, too.

Rowena: Like you, I absolutely adored Zach and his kids. I loved that they had such a great relationship and that being a father was important to Zach. I also really loved that Zach didn’t make his kids the only part of his life. They were super important to him but when he finally decides to move on from his late wife, I’m glad that he didn’t use the kids as a way to keep Piper at arm’s length.

Holly: Yes, I loved that Zach put his kids first, but didn’t make his kids his whole life. He may have struggled a bit with balancing his personal life at first, but I loved how he decided he needed to open up to a future with more, then did it. But Rowena, seriously. The kind of father he was? It melted me.

Rowena: I also really enjoyed the romance between Zach and Piper. I loved that Piper’s friendship with Zach’s daughter was something that outside of her relationship with Zach. I loved that her friendship with Zach’s daughter was important to Piper and that everything felt organic and real and I just super duper loved it all.

Holly: There was a part where he was reflecting on what his life was about and I swear, my heart grew two sizes during his internal monologue.

She’s in her element. My element, it’s back in the hotel with two rugrats. It’s the courtroom. It’s the gym. It’s the couch with a book and a glass of scotch late at night. It’s boxing gloves to fight like hell for my clients. It’s math problems and Goosebumps and taekwondo and Lucy’s list of things she wants to do for the summer.

Rowena: Yep. I was right there with you on Zach’s inner monologue. I remember texting you while I was listening to this one about how cute this book was and it was because I was grinning like a maniac over something Zach had just thought and like you, my heart exploded with love for every little thing in this book.

Holly: I just loved his daughter, Lucy, and how well she and Piper connected. Some of my favorite parts of the book featured Piper and Lucy. GIRL POWER!

Rowena: YESSSSSS!!! I loved Piper and Lucy’s girl power friendship. I also loved that Piper did everything she could for Lucy because she wanted to, not because she felt like she had to because she was her boyfriend’s daughter. The letter thing in the end? I freaking loved it. I swear I don’t think there was any part of this book that I didn’t like.

Holly: Oh man, that letter thing at the end reduced me to a pile of goo. Gah, I just loved Lucy. She was so smart and thoughtful.

Rowena: Even the parts of the book where both Zach and Piper were being jerks to each other, I liked…because their issues with each other were relatable. I understood where they both stood on those issues and I loved seeing them figure their shit out…together. There was no going back and forth, when they decided to be all in, they were all in and figuring everything out together.

Holly: I agree about Zach and Piper’s issues being relatable. You know what I loved, even when they “hated” each other, they were still adults. They still worked together in the same building and attended the same functions, and they didn’t make it awkward or uncomfortable for anyone else. They bantered and poked at each other, but at the end of the day they were both still adults who acted like adults.

Rowena: This book was the bomb. I loved it all. This book gets 5 out of 5 stars from me. Period. You?

Holly: I loved this book, too. I loved Piper and Zach and how their relationship developed. I liked Piper and Lucy’s friendship. I loved how Zach was as a father. I even loved the secondary characters. I’m going to give this 4.5 out of 5.

Final Grade

Holly: 4.5 out of 5
Rowena: 5 out of 5


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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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