Tag: Contemporary Romance

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


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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


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Sunday Spotlight: A Winning Season by Rochelle Alers

Posted September 6, 2020 by Holly in Features, Giveaways | 3 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. 🙂

[Introduction to spotlight book]

Sunday Spotlight: A Winning Season by Rochelle AlersA Winning Season by Rochelle Alers
Series: Wickham Falls Weddings #10
Also in this series: A Winning Season
Publisher: Harlequin Special Edition
Publication Date: September 1, 2020
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 224
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
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

Excerpt

Excerpt, A WINNING SEASON by Rochelle Alers

***

Sutton gave Zoey her mug, noticing her hand had trembled slightly when their fingers touched. “Are you all right?”

“I’m good,” she said.

He wanted to believe Zoey was all right but the rigidness in her body said otherwise. He stood and moved to a nearby chair. “I’m sorry if I invaded your personal space.”

She lowered her eyes, staring into the contents of her mug. “It’s okay.”

Sutton drank his coffee, staring at Zoey over the rim. He was perceptive enough to know she had been completely at ease with him the day before, but this morning her body language said otherwise, and he wondered what he’d said or done to make her uneasy.

Suddenly it occurred to Sutton that he may have made a faux pas when he had referred to Zoey as pretty lady, especially when he did not know whether she was involved with someone. “I’m sorry, Zoey.”

She halted putting the mug to her mouth. “For what?”

“For making you uncomfortable because I called you pretty lady. Hell, I don’t even know if you’re involved with someone.”

Zoey swallowed a mouthful of coffee. The corners of her eyes crinkled when she smiled. “I really have to give it to you, Sutton Reed.”

A slight frown marred his natural good looks. “What are you talking about?”

“You did not make me uncomfortable, and if you wanted to know if I’m involved with someone, then all you had to do was ask.”

A hint of a smile replaced his frown. “Are you?” The seconds ticked as she met his eyes. “No. And I can’t afford to because of a promise I made to Kyle and Harper when they were little boys. I told them it would be just the three of us until they were old enough to take care of themselves.”

Sutton set his mug on a side table. “I can under-stand you making that promise when they were boys, but I doubt if Harper would hold it against you if you decided to start dating.”

“Right now, Harper has no say in how I live my life.”

“Is he giving you a problem?”

Zoey went completely still. “Why would you ask me that?”

“I was sitting out on the porch when he came home last night. Someone had dropped him off and I noticed he was a little unsteady on his feet.”

If Sutton saw Harper coming home obviously under the influence, then Zoey wondered how many of her other neighbors had also witnessed it. Zoey did not want or need people gossiping about the Allen boy drinking or possibly drugging. She had managed to raise Kyle to adulthood without an incident, but life was testing her because Harper had decided he wasn’t going to make it that easy for her.

“I don’t know you and you don’t know me, Sut-ton, and there’s no way I’m going to dump on you about my problems.”

Sutton angled his head, giving her a long stare. “You’ve lived in the Falls all your life and you should know that folks here always look out for one another. Those who have more than they need always share with those who don’t have enough. And it’s not al-ways about money.”

Zoey knew he was right. The people in the town had been more than generous when tragedy struck her family. Even now some folks still asked if she needed anything. She nodded. “You’re right. I give thanks every day that I live here and not somewhere else, because without the help of Preston McAvoy, the chamber of commerce and the worshippers at the church, I wouldn’t be sitting here talking to you.”

The local law firm had handled her legal prob-lems; local contractors had volunteered their services to make certain the house was free of violations; a company selling and installing gas heaters set up an installment plan for her to pay off the cost of the unit over three years.

“So once Harper graduates you plan to stay here?” Sutton asked.

Zoey smiled. “Where would I go?”

He shrugged broad shoulders under his tee. “I don’t know. Maybe you’d prefer someplace that has a little more excitement.”

She took another sip of the delicious brew. Sutton had made the coffee exactly how she liked it. “The Falls has enough excitement for the four thousand-plus folks who live here. Someone had submitted a proposal to the town council to open a club and it was unanimously voted down. What we don’t need is a club with people getting drunk and acting like fools. The town council in Mineral Springs has closed two clubs in the past four years because of fights and rowdiness.”

“The Springs has almost twice our population, so there’s bound to be a few more incidents than we have here.”

“Speaking of excitement, why did you decide to move back here after spending half your life in Hot-lanta?” Zoey had asked the question that had plagued her since hearing word that Sutton Reed was moving back to Wickham Falls.

Sutton closed his eyes for several seconds. “I never really got used to living in a big city. The crowds and noise didn’t upset me whenever I was at the stadium, but once the game was over all I wanted was some-place quiet where I could decompress.”

“Whenever you were interviewed you seemed so confident, so in control of yourself.”

“That was all an act, Zoey. I’d learned early on to switch it on for the cameras and microphones. There was one Sutton for the sports reporters and another Sutton when he was home behind closed doors.”

***

Wickham Falls Weddings

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 Rochelle Alers

Rochelle Alers Headshot

Hailed by readers and booksellers alike as one of today's most popular African-American authors of women's fiction, Ms. Alers is a regular on bestsellers list, and has been a recipient of numerous awards, including the Vivian Stephens Award for Excellence in Romance Writing and a Zora Neale Hurston Literary Award.


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Review: Creed by Kristen Ashley

Posted September 4, 2020 by Casee in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Creed by Kristen AshleyReviewer: Casee
Creed by Kristen Ashley
Series: Unfinished Hero #2
Also in this series: Knight
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: April 15, 2013
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 360
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Way too young, eleven year old Tucker Creed and his six year old neighbor, Sylvie Bissenette, find they have something awful in common. Creed then decides he’s going to do everything in his limited power to shield his Sylvie from her ordeal. So he does and Creed and Sylvie form a bond that grows and blossoms with their ages.
They plot to leave their lives behind, the town they live in that will hold them down and the histories they share that, unless they break free, will bury them. Sylvie goes to their special place, Creed never shows and she doesn’t see him again until it’s too late.
With Creed gone, Sylvie is forced to endure a nightmare and do the unspeakable to end it. To deal, she develops a hard shell with sharp edges that very few can break through. So when Creed again finds his Sylvie, he discovers the girl he loved is locked away and he has to find his way back into her heart without getting shredded in the process.

Creed is book two in Ashley’s Unfinished Hero series.

“Born to love you, baby… Die lovin’ you, my Sylvie.”

Tucker Creed never expected that Sylvie Bissenette would come back into his life. When he is reunited with her, Sylvie is not the girl that he remembers. He knows she’s changed and he also knows that it’s his fault. Creed and Sylvie have known each other since they were kids. Brought together by violence that touched both of their lives, they made a pact to leave their town behind as soon as Sylvie turns eighteen. Then something terrible happens and Creed is forced to leave Sylvie behind, never knowing that by trying to protect her, he was actually going to be responsible for one of the worst atrocities against her.

Sylvie is a survivor. She survived when Creed broke his promise to take her away from their town. She survived when her father sold her to the town pimp. She survived being pimped out. Then she survived by killing her pimp in self-defense. Now she works for Knight Sebring. Sylvie knows what Knight does and why he does it. Her job is to protect the girls. When someone roughs up one of Knight’s girls, Sylvie is the one that takes care of it.

Through Knight, Sylvie and Creed are thrown back into each others lives. Creed doesn’t recognize the woman that his Sylvie has become. Sylvie doesn’t give two craps about what Creed thinks. He broke his promise to her all those years ago and then disappeared from her life.

To be honest, I didn’t love this book at first. I felt that Sylvie was overbearing and trying too hard to be a man. The flashbacks were a nice touch. They really told of Sylvie’s journey from an innocent six year old girl to a brokenhearted eighteen year old girl to where she is now. That’s the Sylvie that I fell in love with. As with most Ashley books, there is a lot of filler here, but I really enjoyed it. The conflict in their relationship was resolved quite quickly so there were a lot of pages to fill. I devoured this book and ended up really liking it.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Unfinished Hero

four-stars


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Review: Knight by Kristen Ashley

Posted September 2, 2020 by Casee in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Knight by Kristen AshleyReviewer: Casee
Knight by Kristen Ashley
Series: Unfinished Hero #1
Also in this series: Creed
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: April 15, 2013
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: First Person
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Erotica
Pages: 280
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Anya Gage has learned that to get anything good in life, you have to work for it. She has no expectations, no dreams.
Then she finds herself at a party where she doesn’t want to be and she meets Knight.
Knight Sebring knows who he is, what he wants and what he likes. And he gets it. But he never expected something as sweet as Anya Gage to wander into his bedroom during a party he did not expect to be having to borrow his phone.
Knight tries to leave Anya to the life she deserves of white picket fences and a man who watches football on Sundays – good, normal and clean. But when Anya comes to his nightclub and finds herself in a situation, he knows someone has to look after her, he can’t fight it anymore and he decides that man will be him.
Knight teaches Anya that, just as with the bad, in life you should also expect the good. And he teaches her this by giving it to her.
But Knight has a dark past and just as he desires Anya for exactly who she is, he fears when she finds out exactly the man he has become and always intends to be, she’ll leave him for good, normal and clean.

I loved this book when I didn’t really expect to. How could I not love it?

“Wars fought over a face like this. A man would work himself into the ground for it, go down to his knees to beg to keep it, endure torture to protect it, take a bullet for it. Poison his brother to possess a face like this.”

When Anya Gage is invited to a party with a friend, she tags along not knowing that her entire world is about to be turned upside down. Finding that the party is not for her, Anya goes searching for her coat. In Knight Sebring’s room. Sheltered she may be, even Anya knows Knight Sebring. He runs the hottest club in town. Even she had been there. Knowing all she knows about Knight (which isn’t much), she’s hardly prepared for her first meeting with him. Or each subsequent meeting.

Knight can’t believe his brother would throw a party at his place without clearing it with him first. Then he believes it because his brother is a total loser. He doesn’t expect to run into someone as young and fresh as Anya. Knight can see immediately that she’s innocent, something that definitely calls to him. Still, the innocent and Knight don’t go together very well.

From their first meeting, Knight and Anya are fire. Their attraction is pretty much instantaneous. Knight is the kind of person that takes what he wants. What he wants is Anya, in his bed and in his life. But he knows that she’s too good for him. She’s light and he lives in the darkness. He tries to let her go, but he just can’t give her up. He wants to take care of her. He wants to make her life easier, make her happy in bed and out. He just wants Anya.

This book won’t be for everyone. It’s definitely more of an erotic romance rather than contemporary. Contemporary erotica is what I would call it. Knight is the quintessential alpha anti-hero. At first there doesn’t seem to be much to like about him. He’s overbearing and a little too protective. He gives Anya orders and expects her to obey. He takes over her life (for her safety of course). View Spoiler » Even with all that, he’s surprisingly likable. I couldn’t help but fall in love with both Anya and Knight. I ended up loving how Knight took care of Anya. She’s worked so hard her entire life and he wants to help her so she can actually live her life. Preferably with him.

There were some really annoying things about Knight though. One of the biggest ones is that he won’t marry Anya. If he had a reasonable explanation for not wanting to marry her, I could possibly get on board. But he doesn’t. That doesn’t end up mattering in the end because the love these two have is epic. Once in a lifetime. So the whole marriage thing didn’t matter in the end. It was just annoying at first.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5.

Unfinished Hero

four-stars


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