Tag: Contemporary

Review: Heidi’s Guide to Four Letter Words by Tara Sivec

Posted September 17, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Heidi’s Guide to Four Letter Words by Tara SivecReviewer: Rowena
Heidi's Guide to Four Letter Words by Tara Sivec
Narrator: Andi Arndt
Publisher: Audible Original
Publication Date: September 3, 2019
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Escape
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
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one-half-stars

Listening Length: 6 hours and 15 minutes

Cowritten by USA Today best-selling author Tara Sivec and award-winning narrator Andi Arndt, a hysterically funny, heartfelt romance about starting over and taking chances.

Nothing good ever comes from drinking a box of wine alone. So when I decided to entertain my drunken self by setting up some hand-me-down podcasting equipment and reading the steamy parts from romance novels, I never thought anyone would actually listen. The fact that I admitted my huge crush on my sexy next door neighbor made the whole thing even more mortifying. But sometimes life surprises you, and that’s how my podcast, Heidi’s Discount Erotica, was born.

Now I, Heidi Larsen, a sweet former kindergarten teacher in Waconia, Minnesota, lead a scandalous double life reading erotic novels to the listening world. And with each episode, I find myself embracing my new alter ego more and more. Now I’m starting to feel more comfortable in my own skin and do things I never would have dreamed of - like kissing my neighbor.

Look out, Waconia, because Heidi’s on the loose! She’s in your ears, in your hearts, and down your pants...wait, that didn’t sound as good as it did in my head. Well, you get the picture, don’tcha know!

I haven’t read anything by Tara Sivec, and I’ve heard a lot of good things about her so when this book came up for review, I jumped on it. This looked like a cute story and I was looking forward to diving right in. Unfortunately, I didn’t connect with the heroine at all and she frustrated me from beginning to end and my enjoyment of the story itself suffered because of it.

So this book follows Heidi Larsen as she fumbles her way through a giant crush on her neighbor, a new job at an audiobook studio, and her life in general. She’s led a pretty sheltered life and as someone, who led a pretty sheltered life my damn self, I could not connect with Heidi at all. Her immaturity, her constant struggle with talking to her crush, and just everything about her, annoyed me. I didn’t find her cute as her crush did and I for damn sure didn’t find her little quirks, funny or endearing. I’m sure that if I were a younger woman, that I would probably relate more to Heidi, but I guess I’m at the “GET OFF MY LAWN” stage in my life because listening to Heidi struggle to say the words “dick” and “pussy” out loud and then struggle to string two sentences along to her next-door neighbor and love interest, made me want to yell at her to spit it out already! Also? What’s wrong with Lularoe dresses? Why didn’t she think those dresses were cool or cute? They’re comfy AF and cute to boot, so there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Wear your loud dresses proud, Heidi. Own your dresses!

I will say that this was a really easy listen. Sure, I didn’t really care for Heidi’s character and thought that it took entirely too long for her to really grow into being comfortable saying naughty words and being able to have a normal conversation with Brent, but it was still really easy to listen to this book. Andi Arndt did a great job of narrating this story and if not for her storytelling, I probably would have quit this book long before it ended. I also really liked Heidi’s friends and her family. I thought it was sweet that her Dad kept showing up and fixing things around the house for her and once she and Brent started having sex, I thought that was pretty steamy. I just wanted to like Heidi since she was the main character and I was disappointed that I just didn’t.

Final Grade

1.5 out of 5

one-half-stars


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Guest Review: One Summer Weekend by Shannon Stacey

Posted August 27, 2019 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: One Summer Weekend by Shannon StaceyReviewer: Tracy
One Summer Weekend by Shannon Stacey
Series: Cedar Street #1
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: August 5, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 106
Add It: Goodreads
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three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Best friends. A fake relationship. And only one bed.

New York Times bestselling author Shannon Stacey delivers the feel-good beach read you’ve been waiting for.

Noah Stafford loves his life—his happy, single life. So what if he made up a fake girlfriend to stop his boss’s matchmaking? He kept things close to the truth—Carly really does have long, sexy legs and a killer sense of humor. She just happens to be his best friend. His wicked awesome and completely platonic best friend.

But now his boss is having a destination wedding, and Noah is expected to attend…with Carly, his girlfriend.

Carly Randall has no interest in living out a rom-com plot. But Noah is her best friend, so she agrees to help. Still, once they arrive on Cape Cod, she can’t explain the sudden butterflies she feels when he looks at her that way. Or why she doesn’t mind when Noah’s hands stray a little south of her back.

What happens on the Cape stays on the Cape.

Except not really, not at all, and once their sexy faux-cation is over, Noah and Carly return to a reality where everything’s changed. Going for it would mean risking their friendship…but forgetting how good they were together just isn’t an option.

One summer weekend is the story of Carly and Noah who are best friends. Noah has been working at an architectural firm and very much enjoys his job. Unfortunately his boss, Tom, keeps trying to fix him up with his soon to be sister-in-law. Noah is sure that the soon to be sister-in-law is pretty and nice, but he’s positive that if he goes out with her he will have one foot down the aisle. That’s not something he wants. What did he do? He lied to his boss. He ended up telling Tom that he already had a girlfriend and I know you’ll be shocked when you hear that he said it was Carly.

Carly has no idea that Noah has been lying to his boss and saying that she’s his girlfriend. Noah finally comes clean to her because it’s Tom’s wedding weekend and his boss expects Noah’s girlfriend to be in attendance. Of course he does. Carly says no at first, but then she realizes that this means a lot to Noah and so she agrees to go as his girlfriend. When they get to Cape Cod they are of course in the same room, in the same bed, and with playing girlfriend/boyfriend they end up kissing. One thing leads to another and they’re having sex. Neither one of them is prepared for the emotions that this invokes in them. Can they remain best friends when each of them aren’t sure how they now feel about the other person?

This was a pretty cute story, I have to admit. I absolutely love Carly and Noah’s relationship. They were such good friends and knew each other so well and their love for each other came through. They had been friends for so long that they truly did love each other they just weren’t in love with each other. Or so they thought. 🙂

Stacey has a great way of bringing friends together and I think this friends to lovers story was a good one. I very much enjoyed reading it, and would definitely recommend it if you’re just looking for a short fun read.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Review: The Wallflower Wager by Tessa Dare

Posted August 22, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: The Wallflower Wager by Tessa DareReviewer: Rowena
The Wallflower Wager by Tessa Dare
Series: Girl Meets Duke #3
Also in this series: The Duchess Deal , The Duchess Deal, The Governess Game
Publisher: Harper Collins, Avon
Publication Date: August 13, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 368
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Series Rating: five-stars

They call him the Duke of Ruin.

To an undaunted wallflower, he's just the beast next door.

Wealthy and ruthless, Gabriel Duke clawed his way from the lowliest slums to the pinnacle of high society—and now he wants to get even.

Loyal and passionate, Lady Penelope Campion never met a lost or wounded creature she wouldn’t take into her home and her heart.

When her imposing—and attractive—new neighbor demands she clear out the rescued animals, Penny sets him a challenge. She will part with her precious charges, if he can find them loving homes.

Done, Gabriel says. How hard can it be to find homes for a few kittens?

And a two-legged dog.

And a foul-mouthed parrot.

And a goat, an otter, a hedgehog . . .

Easier said than done, for a cold-blooded bastard who wouldn’t know a loving home from a workhouse. Soon he’s covered in cat hair, knee-deep in adorable, and bewitched by a shyly pretty spinster who defies his every attempt to resist. Now she’s set her mind and heart on saving him.

Not if he ruins her first.

The Wallflower Wager is the third book in the Girl Meets Duke series by Tessa Dare and it features the heroines from the previous two books friend, Lady Penelope “Penny” Campion. Penny has lived on her own for a while now, in a house that has been good to her. She has been able to help needy animals in need of tender and loving care. Her heart is just as generous as the home where she keeps all of the animals in her care. There’s a parrot with a colorful language, a dog, an otter, a hedgehog, and well…you get the idea. She would have continued to live the loving, spinster life if her Aunt hadn’t shown up on her doorstep, letting her know that if she doesn’t make an effort to get herself hitched in the next little while, she’ll be forced to move in with her brother and her brother’s family. Not only will Penny have to show some progress in getting married, but she’ll also have to give up all of her animals and while that will help solve all of Gabriel Duke, aka The Duke of Ruin’s plans, he needs Penny to stay as much as he needs her animals to go so that he can turn a profit on selling the house next door to Penny’s.

Penny needs his help finding homes for all of her animal charges and he needs her to stay put because lots of hob nobs would love to buy a house right next door from a Lady and Gabriel is determined that Penny is that Lady.

Right from the very beginning, Gabriel is attracted to Penny. He can’t understand why she’s still single, being as pretty as she is but the more he gets to know her, the stranger she seems and the more he likes her. He starts to care for Penny almost immediately and he loves her soft heart, her bright outlook and her caring nature. All of the things that are so foreign to him, yet every day, he’s drawn more and more to this woman that keeps digging herself deeper and deeper into his life.

Tessa Dare continues to shine with every single book that she writes. I absolutely adored the previous books in this series and that didn’t let up with this one. Gabriel and Penny were a lovely couple that captured my attention from the start and won my affection not too long afterward. I was wrapped up in their personal struggles, in their shared situations, and I really, really loved the way that they came together. I loved how Gabriel tried every underhanded tactic to get rid of the animals and how Penny didn’t let him get away with anything. I loved how much they both came to care for each other. Their banter was a lot of fun and their romance was super sweet and I adored every minute.

There are some things that are dealt with in this book that you might want to check the trigger/content warnings on (provided below behind a spoiler tag) but I thought that Tessa Dare handled that stuff well. My heart broke for these characters and I loved the way that everything works out. Penny grew up to be such a strong and caring woman and you won’t be able to help yourself, you’re going to cheer your ass off for her to get her happy ending and Gabriel Duke was her perfect match. I enjoyed this book a lot and I definitely recommend it.

Final Grade

4.25 out of 5

Girl Meets Duke


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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
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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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Review: Most Valuable Playboy by Lauren Blakely

Posted August 15, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Most Valuable Playboy by Lauren BlakelyReviewer: Holly
Most Valuable Playboy by Lauren Blakely
Narrator: Zachary Webber
Series: Ballers and Babes #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: September 1, 2017
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Escape
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 306
Add It: Goodreads
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Hands down, my favorite thing in the world is to score. Touchdowns.

Don't let the fact that I'm the leading pick in the Most Valuable Playboy charity auction fool you. These days, I'm only a player on the field. I've kept my pants zipped all season long because nothing's more important than leading my team to victory every week. Except maybe escaping from the team owner's recently-widowed and handsy-as-hell sister who's dead set on winning more than a date with me.

Enter Violet and a well-placed Hail Mary.

She's my best friend's sister with a smile as sweet as cherry pie and a mind that runs quicker than the 40-yard-dash. After Violet saves the day with the highest bid, I don't even give her a two-minute warning before I kiss her in front of the whole crowd and then announce that she's my girlfriend. Which would be fine except my agent tells me we have to keep up the act while he's negotiating my contract.Violet takes one for the team and pretends to be mine, but our boyfriend-girlfriend scrimmage quickly turns into a full contact sport, and I want it to go into overtime. The problem is--I've been riding the bench for years.

How can a guy like me, who finally has a chance to prove his worth on the field, convince the girl she's most valuable to his heart?

*MOST VALUABLE PLAYBOY is a brand new standalone sports romance written in the guy's POV!*

Most Valuable Playboy is the first book in Lauren Blakely‘s Ballers and Babes series. I listened to the prequel novella last week, which is told solely from Violet, the heroine’s, point of view. This is told solely from Cooper’s point of view. This is an Audible Escape (formerly the Audible Romance Package) find. It was a cute, light listen. I really like Zachary Webber as a narrator. He did a great job with the story.

Cooper is finally where he wants to be professionally – the starting quarterback for the San Francisco Renegade’s NFL team. He was a first round draft pick, but he ended up sitting on the bench while the man he thought he’d replace continued to dominate. He has some big shoes to fill, and his entire career is riding on him doing well this season, especially since his contract is up for renegotiation. When the owner’s sister gets a little too handsy and makes it known she wants more than a platonic date when she wins him in a charity playboy auction, he asks his best friend’s little sister to rescue him. He’s known Violet since second grade, they’re great friends and both know the score. So he has no trouble asking her to play his girlfriend for the rest of the season to keep the owner’s sister away.

I’ve come to expect a fun, easy to fall into story from Blakely, and she easily delivered here. Cooper and Violet’s friendship came through well, and I loved how they came to know each other in a more intimate way. I liked the progression of friends to lovers and how the fake relationship turned into a real one. Violet was a lot of fun, but I think I got more out of the story for having listened to the prequel novella, Most Irresistible Guy, first. It gave me a better understanding of where she was at with Cooper and why she agreed to the charade.

There isn’t a ton of football in this book, but there was enough with the team and coaches to make this feel like a well-rounded story. I’m looking forward to the next book.

If you’re looking for a sweet, fun romance, this is the one for you.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5

Ballers and Babes

four-stars


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