Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Review: Leave the Night On by Laura Trentham


Love, betrayal, and sweet revenge—life in Cottonbloom is about to get a whole lot hotter . . .

Sutton Mize is known for lavishing attention on the customers who flock to her boutique on the wealthy side of her Mississippi town. So when she finds a lace thong in her fiancé’s classic cherry-red Camaro, she knows just who she sold it to: her own best friend. In an instant, Sutton’s whole world goes up in flames. . .

Wyatt Abbott has harbored a crush on Sutton since he was a young kid from the other side of the tracks. He witnessed Sutton’s shocking discovery in the Camaro at his family-owned garage—and it made him angry. What kind of man could take lovely, gorgeous Sutton for granted? But then Sutton comes up with an idea: Why not give her betrothed a taste of his own medicine and pretend that she’s got a lover of her own? Wyatt is more than happy to play the hot-and-heavy boyfriend. But what begins as a fictional affair soon develops into something more real, and more passionate, than either Sutton or Wyatt could have imagined. Could it be that true love has been waiting under the hood all along?



Sutton and Wyatt aren't strangers, but they are from different sides of Cottonbloom.  When Sutton discovers her fiance has been cheating with her best friend, she lies that she and Wyatt have been involved as well.  Wyatt agrees to go along with it because of his childhood crush on Sutton.

There is a bit of a BIG MISUNDERSTANDING between Sutton and Wyatt, just as their true love starts to take hold, thanks to something said by Wyatt's oldest brother, Ford.  I'll be interested to see how Ford is portrayed in future books.  

It's always fun to visit Cottonbloom - both sides! - and see characters from the previous series.  The Abbotts of Cottonbloom, Louisiana, have a lot of tension simmering between them, so I'm excited to see where this new series goes. 

(A very special thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of Leave the Night On.)

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Review: The Bad Luck Bride by Janna MacGregor


IS MARRIAGE A BLESSING OR A CURSE?
A man of honor, Alexander Hallworth, Marquess of Pembrooke, will not rest until he exacts revenge on the man who destroyed his family. Just one more piece must fall into place for him to succeed he needs to convince his enemy's fiancee, the tragically beautiful Lady Claire Cavensham, to marry him instead.

Lady Claire's curse has always left her one misstep away from social ruin her past three engagements have gone awry, and now her fourth is headed in the same direction. . .until Alex, a man she barely even knows, shocks the ton and Claire by announcing their engagement. What begins as a sham turns into something deeper, and more passionate, than either Claire or Alex could have imagined. But when their secrets are revealed, will the truth behind their union scandalize them both or is their love strong enough to break the curse and lead them toward their happily ever after?

I love to give new authors, especially authors of historical romances, a chance.  Unfortunately, I didn't connect with Ms. MacGregor's writing as much as I had hoped.  

Alex is after revenge on behalf of his deceased sister.  Claire just happens to be in the way as a pawn.  Alex's manipulations and Claire's behavior, particularly in the second half of the novel, didn't engage me.  I kept wondering why they were still together!  The ton believes Claire is cursed, so a separation would only feed into that notion.   

A disappointing historical romance for me, I'm sorry to say. 

(A very special thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of The Bad Luck Bride.)

Friday, August 4, 2017

Review: Suddenly One Summer by Julie James


Divorce lawyer Victoria Slade has seen enough unhappy endings to swear off marriage forever. That doesn't mean she's opposed to casual dating—just not with her cocky new neighbor, who is as gorgeous and tempting as he is off-limits. But once she agrees to take on his sister's case, she's as determined to win as ever—even if that means teaming up with Ford...

Investigative journalist Ford Dixon is bent on finding the man who got his sister pregnant and left her high and dry. He's willing to partner with Victoria, despite the fact that the beautiful brunette gets under his skin like no other woman. He might not be looking to settle down, but there's no denying the scorching attraction between them. Still, the more time he spends with Victoria, the more he realizes that the one woman as skeptical about love as he is might be the only woman he could really fall for...



Suddenly One Summer has been on my TBR since its release.  Her first novel not featuring an FBI agent as a main character, previous heroes and heroines are mentioned or appear as secondary characters, so this book ties into the series as a whole. 

When I read one of Ms. James' books, I know I'm going to get a lot of sexual tension between the heroine and hero; both characters will be smart or crafty -- above-board, I suppose.  And it's usually their personalities and dialogue that drive that sexual tension.  It makes them relatable and real, and I typically LOVE it.  

So I was surprised that Ms. James used a BIG MISUNDERSTANDING between Ford and Valerie.  Fortunately, the couple talks and are able to come back together quickly with honesty between them.  To a point, I suppose Valerie and Ford assumed things about the other from the moment they met in the building.  Still, it was a surprise.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Leave the Night On by Laura Trentham







Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Review: On the Plus Side by Alison Bliss


Big girls don't cry.

They go after what they want.

Thanks to her bangin' curves, Valerie Carmichael has always turned heads-with the exception of seriously sexy Logan Mathis. Just Valerie's luck that the object of her lust-filled affection is also best friends with her overprotective brother. But Valerie's determined to get Logan's attention . . . even if it means telling a teeny little lie to get a job at his new bar.

Logan can't remember a time when Valerie didn't secretly fuel all his hottest fantasies. Now the curvaceous she-devil is working behind his bar, tempting him every damn night. It's only when he finds Valerie's naughty things-to-do list that Logan decides to break every rule in the book-by making each red-hot deed a reality.

No one warned them that they were going to fall this hard. And no one warned them that sometimes the smallest secrets can have the biggest consequences.

On the Plus Side features one of my favorite tropes:  romance with a friend's younger sister.  Valerie has had a thing for Logan for a long time.  A.  Long.  Time.  Despite his leaving their hometown, that thing has not diminished.  Now Logan is back and in need of help with his bar, so Valerie immediately steps in. 

As with the first book in the series, Size Matters, this book contains several Big Misunderstandings and outright lies between Valerie and Logan.  Some of their arguments seemed really contrived.  While they had great chemistry, their non-sexual interactions needed work, and I was really surprised by the rushed ending.  It didn't feel necessary or ring true. 

(A very special thank you to Forever Romance, Grand Central Publishing, and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of On the Plus Side.)

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Review: The Rebel of Clan Kincaid by Lily Blackwood


LOVE IS A BATTLEFIELD

Since childhood, Magnus has been led to believe he is the Laird Alwyn’s bastard, and raised to hate the Clan Kincaid. But when he learns he is without a doubt the son of the murdered Laird Kincaid, his life as he has always known it is shattered. Now, hiding his knowledge and his fury, he returns to Burnbryde Castle, awaiting the chance to strike against the man whose treachery robbed him of his legacy. His first act of rebellion: to steal a kiss from the redheaded beauty who’s betrothed to the Alwyn’s eldest son and heir.

Since her arrival at Burnbryde, Tara Iverach has been confined to a tower to guard her virtue before she marries. But after a surprise embrace with a lean, bare-chested Highlander who claims to be the Alwyn’s oldest son, she can’t contain her excitement over her good fate. Unfortunately, he is the wrong eldest son, and she is set to marry his cruel and lecherous half brother, Hugh. Can Magnus conquer his rivals and claim his Kincaid destiny before the woman who’s captured his heart becomes his sworn enemy’s bride?

The Rebel of Clan Kincaid picks up almost immediately after The Beast of Clan Kincaid.  Magnus is dealing with the fallout of learning his true identity, which comes with a lot of emotions, when he meets Tara Iverach.  He steals a kiss from Tara, who happens to be engaged/betrothed to Hugh, Alwyn's legitimate son. 

Tara has lived in a nunnery before the Earl of Buchan claims her as his ward.  She is thrust into the fray after she learns of her sister's death and is promised to marry Hugh, the son of Buchan's friend and supporter. 

Tara and Magnus are tossed together in a convenient line-of-sight plot.  I didn't always buy their chemistry or connection, but they were able to work together and achieve their respective goals with the help of the other.  The Rebel of Clan Kincaid wasn't as dynamic or intriguing as The Best of Clan Kincaid, and I think the pacing hindered the story, probably because I wanted to see Magnus lose control and reveal his true self to Alwyn. 

(A very special thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for providing me with a ARC of The Rebel of Clan Kincaid.)

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

On the Plus Side by Allison Bliss








Big girls don't cry. They go after what they want.

Thanks to her bangin' curves, Valerie Carmichael has always turned heads-with the exception of seriously sexy Logan Mathis. Just Valerie's luck that the object of her lust-filled affection is also best friends with her overprotective brother. But Valerie's determined to get Logan's attention…even if it means telling a teeny little lie to get a job at his new bar.

Logan can't remember a time when Valerie didn't secretly fuel all his hottest fantasies. Now the curvaceous she-devil is working behind his bar, tempting him every damn night. It's only when he finds Valerie's naughty things-to-do list that Logan decides to break every rule in the book-by making each red-hot deed a reality.

No one warned them that they were going to fall this hard. And no one warned them that sometimes the smallest secrets can have the biggest consequences.



EXCERPT

Valerie Carmichael needed a drink. A strong one. Because it was the only way she envisioned herself getting through the night.

An elbow nudged into her side, bringing her thoughts back to the crowded bar. “I can’t see anything through all of these people,” Brett said, scanning the room with his eyes. “Come on, let’s go to the other side so I can get a better view.”

Sighing, Valerie trudged behind him without a word.

When Brett had asked her to attend the grand opening of Bottoms Up, a new bar in their hometown of Granite, Texas, she’d hesitated to say yes. Sure, she was curious what the inside of the recently remodeled bar looked like and had no doubt the place would be jam-packed with handsome, available men. But it was still the last place on earth she wanted to be.

She knew better than to hang out in bars with her older and only—thank God—brother. Every time she’d done so in the past, the nights had always ended the same way. Brett would spend the entire evening hovering over her like a rabid pit bull, daring any single guy with a glint in his eye to look her way. Because Valerie turned heads. She always had.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Review: Size Matters by Alison Bliss


The rules of (fake) engagement . . .

Leah Martin has spent her life trying to avoid temptation. But she's sick of low-fat snacks, counting calories, and her hyper-critical mom. Fortunately, her popular new bakery keeps her good and distracted. But there aren't enough éclairs in the world to distract Leah from the hotness that is Sam Cooper - or the fact that he just told her mother that they're engaged . . . which is a big, fat lie.

Sam sometime speaks before he thinks. So what started out as defending Leah's date-ability to her judgmental mother soon turned into having a fiancee! Now the plan is to keep up the fake engagement, stay "just friends," and make Leah's family loathe him enough to just call the whole thing off . But Sam has an insatiable sweet tooth, not only for Leah's decadent desserts but her decadent curves. Her full lips. Her bright green eyes. Yep, things aren't going quite according to plan. Now Sam has to convince Leah that he's for real . . . before their little lie turns into one big, sweet disaster.

I appreciate when authors break out of the norm in romances.  Most women (myself included) are size 16, so to have stereotypical heroines be portrayed over and over again, well, it's nice to have a option.  Leah Martin seems like she could be a super fun character.  Someone who'd laugh with you, someone who is a perfect baker, someone who would be an all-around awesome friend. 

If only Leah would be a friend to herself!

Size Matters was a easy read, literally perfect for an afternoon escape.  Unfortunately, there were a LOT of BIG MISUNDERSTANDINGS between Leah and Sam, starting with the night they met.  And the misunderstandings -- or lack of communication -- continue until the end of the book.  I was very surprised by the ending. 

Leah's mother plays the role of villain, but Leah does a lot of self-harm as well through her negative thoughts.  Between Leah and her mother, it's a wonder Leah is a functioning member of society! 

I do plan to read the second book of the series, On the Plus Side, which features Leah's friend and co-worker, Valerie. 

(A very special thank you to Forever Romance, Grand Central Publishing, and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of Size Matters.)

Thursday, May 4, 2017

The Bad Luck Bride by Janna MacGregor



IS MARRIAGE A BLESSING OR A CURSE?

A man of honor, Alexander Hallworth, Marquess of Pembrooke, will not rest until he exacts revenge on the man who destroyed his family. Just one more piece must fall into place for him to succeed. He needs to convince his enemy’s fiancée, the tragically beautiful Lady Claire Cavensham, to marry him instead.

Lady Claire’s curse has always left her one misstep away from social ruin Her past three engagements have gone awry, and now her fourth is headed in the same direction. . .until Alex, a man she barely even knows, shocks the ton and Claire by announcing their engagement. What begins as a sham turns into something deeper, and more passionate, than either Claire or Alex could have imagined. But when their secrets are revealed, will the truth behind their union scandalize them both or is their love strong enough to break the curse and lead them toward their happily ever after?

EXCERPT

 Alex smiled in earnest. “I would never allow you to be humiliated in front of society. I’m trying to help you.” Somehow, he had to convince her of that fact, then the idea of marrying him would be much easier to accept.

She blinked rapidly, then turned back to him and, for an instant, appeared startled to see him there. “That’s very gallant, my lord. Truly, thank you for the effort. But I must leave.”

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Review: Twice Tempted by Eileen Dreyer


Fiona Ferguson and her twin sister Mairead are missing. Sisters of an alleged traitor, they have been cast out by their noble grandfather, who believes their brother's reputation will taint them. Furious at the old man's behavior, Drake's Rakes Alex Knight and Chuffy Wilde set out to find the sisters.

What Alex and Chuffy don't know is that they are also leading agents for the traitorous cabal The Lions right to the women. Caught in a deadly game of cat and mouse, the sisters and their rescuers are forced farther and farther into the slums of London to escape not only the Lions, but Minette Ferrar, a notorious assassin looking to revenge herself on Ian Ferguson by killing his sisters. What Fiona Ferguson cannot escape, though, is the dawning realization that she is falling in love with Alex Knight, who is burdened with secrets that pose the most danger of all.


In an effort to finish books I've started, then put away for one reason or another, I sat down and made myself read Twice Tempted.  I have read all the Drake's Rakes novels (Always a Temptress was my favorite of the series), so it was pretty easy to put myself back into this world, even though it's been several years.

The pacing of the story moved well -- we know Alex and Fiona will have a HEA; we assume Minette, the assassin, will be caught and the threat neutralized -- but once Chuffy and Mairead's connection became obvious, I was glad to see Chuffy get a HEA as well.   He has been my favorite minor character since the first novel.

The main issue I had with Twice Tempted is that it felt like a series finale.  All the loose ends were tied neatly, and I found myself speed reading simply to reach The End without having a real sense of connection between Fiona and Alex.  Still, all's well that end's well, and I'm glad Drake's Rakes ended well. 

(A very special thank you to Forever Romance, Grand Central Publishing and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of Twice Tempted.) 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Review: Home at Last by Lily Everett


Home is where the heart is…

In Lily Everett's Home at Last, Marcus Beckett left Sanctuary Island after his mother’s funeral, and he hasn’t been back since. Until now. Needing a change from the high-risk, high-stakes life of a bodyguard, Marcus makes a solitary life for himself running the neighborhood bar in his hometown. His only mistake? Seducing and then dumping the town’s sweetheart, Quinn Harper. Marcus knows he did the right thing—a good girl like Quinn has no business with a broken man like him. But now no one will come to his bar, and he’s watching his last chance at a peaceful life go up in smoke. So when Quinn proposes a fake four-week courtship, he can’t refuse…even though he knows it’s a bad idea.

It’s a romantic charade that will buy Quinn time to distract her mother and father from their own marital problems—and will help Marcus welcome back some paying customers besides. But what begins as an engagement of convenience slowly transforms into a deeper connection, one that heals both of their hearts. . .and ignites the simmering passion between them. Could it be that pretending to be together is just what Quinn and Marcus needed to give their real love a second chance?

I was skeptical of Marcus and Quinn's relationship as seen in Close to Home, not because of their age difference -- although often mentioned -- but because Marcus seemed to return to Sanctuary Island with a lot of baggage.  I had hopes that Home at Last would address those issues and allow Quinn and Marcus to have a HEA free of secrets or half-truths, but it did not. 

Marcus spends a lot of time running:  running from his mother's death, running from his boss's, running from the fragile relationship he has with his father.  He kind of runs from Quinn too.  But I didn't believe *any* of his past issues were fully and completely addressed.  He talks with his father and boom! -- they have an immediate reconnection.  He tells Quinn a little about his former boss and boom! -- any guilt he felt is gone. 

The majority of Home at Last kept Marcus and Quinn's real romance as a backseat to their fake one in order to help Quinn's parents resolve their marriage problems.  So this is me, being disappointed in that. 

(A very special thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of Home at Last.)

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Friday, February 10, 2017

Review: Close to Home by Lily Everett


The best journeys take us home….

When Tessa Alexander came to Sanctuary Island, she left behind a marriage to a man who didn’t love her the way she loved him. When she finally found the strength to set them both free, she discovered friendship and self-acceptance in her adopted hometown. Now she’s settled into a quiet life on her own—never expecting to see her husband again.

Johnny spent almost two years deep undercover, unable to let his wife into his cold, dangerous world. He’s shaken to the core when he comes home to find her gone. It’s painfully clear that Tessa is no longer the timid young woman he married—she’s become a force of nature, a brave and determined beauty. Johnny can’t let her go without a fight so he sets out to seduce his own wife. But will passion alone be enough to convince Tessa that her new life should include a second chance at happiness with a man who must learn to believe in love?



Close to Home takes readers back to Sanctuary Island with never-before-introduced characters.   I loved the first two books of the series, but it took me longer to connect with the other characters brought to the forefront.  Close to Home gives us a familiar setting and people who are using Sanctuary Island as just that:  sanctuary.

Tessa Alexander is not the same woman her husband Johnny knew.  Johnny has a habit of wanting to take care and rescue people -- a need to do so, actually.  That is how he and Tessa came to be married.  When he finds her in Sanctuary Island, she is outwardly confident and strong.

By placing Tessa's life in danger (again), Johnny is able to do what he loves and let go of himself a little bit too.  He and Tessa are able to connect and move forward with their marriage.

Close to Home was an easy read, a good place to start for those curious about Sanctuary Island.  Tessa and Johnny don't have any obstacles in their way to happiness, which didn't ring that true for me, but this is a nice slice of life story.

(A special thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of Close to Home.)

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

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