Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Chasing Shadows by Catherine Bybee

Title: Chasing Shadows
Author: Catherine Bybee
My Rating: A-

Genre: Contemporary Romance 
Series: First Wives #3
Main Characters: Avery and Liam
Release Date: November 2018
Publisher: Montlake
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
Falling in love can come with the most unexpected risks in this First Wives novel from New York Times bestselling author Catherine Bybee.

Avery Grant doesn’t date. Her first marriage was a mutually beneficial contract that gave her the financial freedom she needed to step away from her controlling parents. Wealthy and single, the last thing she’s looking for is love sneaking in to mess up her life plans. And after a brutal attack, she’s determined to never be vulnerable again, even if the new man in her life helps her feel safe.

Mesmerized from the moment he sets his eyes on Avery, Liam is driven to learn everything about this tough, sexy, challenging woman. Breaking down her defenses won’t be easy, but Liam refuses to be pushed away. All he needs is a tiny crack in Avery’s armor to wiggle his way into her heart.

But when a terrifying lie about her attacker’s fate comes to light, Avery’s past returns to haunt her. Now she’s willing to put herself in danger to get the answers she needs. That means jeopardizing the best thing that’s ever happened to her: Liam.

My Review:
Aww, I liked this book. Wow, I knew some of Avery's story from the previous book, but I did not expect her story to be so riveting and heart-breaking and inspiring and simply amazing to read.

So, a year ago, Avery was attacked and left brutally beaten. Even before that life-changing event, Avery wasn't the cute and cuddly type. She doesn't really connect with people. That fact has gotten worse since her attack. Now she has more than a bit of PTSD and is doing everything she can to make sure she never gets hurt again...on any level.

And Liam is the perfect match for her. He's not at all put off by her prickly nature or the fact that she throws up roadblocks for him at every turn. In fact, he's pretty much the perfect guy...even if he is a bit stalkery at the beginning of their relationship.

There were a ton of elements to this story that I loved...the Krav Maga and Brenda...OMG, I loved Brenda so much, and I adored that she got a little bit of her own story in this one, too. But the whole First Wives group are awesome. I love this tight-knit little group and the fact that Liam has no idea what he's walking into when he joins them for the weekend, because Avery hasn't revealed ANYthing to him. 

Overall, this was a great book! I've only gotten to read two of these books and I've loved both of them. It's a great series and Catherine Bybee remains an amazing and engaging story teller. 

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest and voluntary review.

Sleepover by Serena Bell


Title: Sleepover
Author: Serena Bell
My Rating: A

Genre: Contemporary Romance 
Series
Main Characters: Elle and Sawyer
Release Date: November 2018
Publisher: Loveswept
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
Elle and Sawyer just look so happy. Which is, of course, exactly how they end up.

But it's not an easy trip. 

It was just supposed to be once. 

It was just supposed to be sex. 

But now they're next-door neighbors. And before they can put up their fences—or defenses—their eight-year-old sons have forged an unstoppable friendship. 

They're still reeling—Elle, from a Facebook message she was never supposed to see, Sawyer, from the kind of death it's hard to live through. A relationship seems like a terrible idea. So they make a deal. One more blazing hot night, at Elle's ex-husband's wedding. 

You know, because the "just once" thing has worked out so well for them ... 
My Review:
I totally enjoyed this book, but looking at this cover...it's so not right for this story. The cover makes it look light and airy and young, but the book has so much more depth to it than the cover reflects. So, what I'm saying is...ignore the cover and honestly the blurb leaves a bit to be desired, too...read the reviews and you'll see...this book and story is one you're going to want. 

Elle and Sawyer have both had a hard time of it in the love department. Elle's husband cheated on her with his high school and first love (and they're now getting married). Sawyer's wife who he loved dearly died two years ago. They're both now single parents to 8 yo boys, who become immediate best friends when Sawyer moves into the rental next door. 

BUT prior to him moving in, they had a random, one-night stand. That was Elle's first time ever doing that...ever. And although that's all Sawyer does now, that evening left a mark on him. But like 8 yo boys do, their sons immediately bonded long before Elle and Sawyer realized just who was living next door. And what follows is a friendship that slowly develops. Their boys are inseparable and they are both struggling through the realities of single parenthood. They come to rely on one another quite a bit and the boys are always at one or the other house, so they see each other constantly, too. I loved that build up.

But this isn't smooth sailing. Both these characters have a ton of baggage. And it's not just them...their friends and family aren't exactly eager for either of them to delve into the real world of relationships and hurt again. There are also two little boys to consider.

It was so good. 

Also, I need to note there is a scene with the two boys at school getting in trouble that absolutely melted my heart. OMG...so many, many feels. LOVED that the author included that!!

It's just a great read and I definitely recommend it. 

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for a voluntary and honest review.

Monday, November 12, 2018

The July Guy by Natasha Moore

Title: The July Guy
Author: Natasha Moore
My Rating: A-

Genre: Contemporary Romance 
Series
Main Characters: Anita and Noah
Release Date: November 2018
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
Art professor Anita Delgado spends eleven months of the year working. July is her month to cut loose, paint, and pick a guy to make the summer memorable. But this year she isn’t in a tropical location with an exotic man like she'd planned. She’s stuck in small-town USA dealing with a lake house she doesn’t want, inherited from a grandmother she never knew. A summer fling might be the only thing to get her through the next few weeks.

Salvage specialist Noah Colburn is running for mayor. If he doesn’t, an absolute idiot is going to ruin his beloved town. So he’s stepping up. It’s what he does—with his teenage daughters, with the family business, and now with Lakeside. But when the newest resident of the town asks him to renovate her grandmother’s house—and have a four-week fling —he’s tempted. Tempted to step out of the mold and take just one thing for himself. But the gossip mill in the town is notorious. 

Anita’s learning it’s hard to have a fling when the town follows your every move, and it’s even harder when the July guy makes it clear one month is never going to be enough…

My Review:
Wow, this was my first time reading this author and I really enjoyed this book. 

Anita has done a thing for almost 20 years. She's a professor so every year she takes a month-long vacation in July. In that month, she enjoys life to the fullest, including hooking up with a single guy...all the sex, no strings, no emotions, pure fun. It's her month to indulge.

Normally she goes overseas, but this year, she found out she inherited a house from her grandmother that she didn't even know was alive. Her mother told her that her grandparents died before she was born. So, it's a shock to go to this small town where everyone knew and loved her grandmother and hear about how much her grandmother loved and was proud of her. She had no idea. 

This book becomes an exploration about where Anita has come from and how that difficult upbringing made her the woman she is (one that doesn't love or let other people in). Her mother was not a loving one...but as far as Anita knew, she was the only family out there. Not true. 

On the flip side of that coin is Noah, whose family is slowly smothering him with expectations. They're close, but they've all come to rely on Noah to handle it all. For the first time in his life, Noah wants to do something solely for himself...have a month of sex with Anita, no matter what his family thinks. 

And of course, on the side, there are all these other things happening. It's a small town and gossip is running amok, something that isn't helped by the fact that Noah is running for mayor. Anita is dealing with all the family drama along with trying to get her grandmother's house ready to sell. (Note: her grandmother left post-it notes all over the house for Anita...I LOVED THAT little touch in the story that helped her get to know her grandmother.)

Overall, it was a great read and I'm happy that I took the risk and snagged it for review. I thoroughly enjoyed it and definitely recommend it. 

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest and voluntary review.

Renewing Forever by Kelly Jensen

Title: Renewing Forever
Author: Kelly Jensen
My Rating: A

Genre: Contemporary Romance (m/m)
Series: This Time Forever #2
Main Characters: Frankie and Tommy
Release Date: November 2018
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
Frankie and Tommy once dreamed of traveling the world together. But when seventeen-year-old Frank kissed Tom, their plans ended with a punch to the jaw and Frank leaving town without looking back. Thirty years later, Frank’s successful career as a journalist is interrupted by his uncle’s death and the question of his inheritance—the family resort where his childhood dreams were built. When he returns to the Pocono Mountains, however, he finds a dilapidated lodge and Tommy, the boy he never forgot.

Tom’s been keeping the resort together with spit and glue while caring for Frank’s uncle, Robert—a man he considered father, mentor, and friend—and his aged mother, who he refuses to leave behind. Now Robert is gone, taking Tom’s job with him. And Frank is on the doorstep, wanting to know why Tom is still there and why the old lodge is falling apart.

But before they can rebuild the resort, they’ll have to rebuild their friendship. Only then can they renew the forever they planned all those years ago.


My Review:

First thing I have to state just because it's bugging the heck out of me...this cover...NO! OMG, it does NOT fit (my internal image of) the book at all, BUT no worries...I didn't take that into account for my review because I loved this book so much... (just not the cover).

Okay, so this book...it takes place between two men in the Pocono region of Pennsylvania. In high school, they were best friends...inseparable. But then something happened when they kissed (the details about what exactly that was are a bit murky throughout most of the book to keep the reader guessing) at the age of 18, and then they haven't seen one another in the last 30 years. They had plans for the future...together ...and that single moment blew it all to pieces...their friendship and anything else that might have been brewing under the surface. 

So, when Frank comes home to figure out what to do with his inheritance from his uncle, he's shocked to find his childhood friend running the front office. And what a front office it is...moldy, cold, damp, falling down around their heads. And I have to say that I loved it.

But I also loved the two guys although I had the hardest time with Tommy at times, just because he NEEDS to talk to Frank...about so much in his life now, but also about what happened then. But they're both just trying to survive and keep the property alive, so they ignore the elephant in the room between them for forever before they finally have to talk it through. 

I do love second chance at love stories and I liked that this one was a bit "later in life" than you normally see in romance. Yippee!

These guys are the same age as me, so when they're talking about vacation spots like this one, I can perfectly picture it. In fact, I had to go online and see if the place we went every year was still around (note...it is, but wow, it's expensive now). Also, I remember when I got married, the Poconos were THE place to go for honeymoons...those clear stem glass hot tubs...OH MY...LOL!

Overall, the book was a great read. It was fun to go back in time and see a second chance couple work through it all together. I loved the location of the story and the idea of rehabbing one of those old resorts. It was just a fun, entertaining read. 

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest and voluntary review.

Better Not Pout by Annabeth Albert

Title: Better Not Pout 
Author: Annabeth Albert
My Rating: A-

Genre: Holiday Romance (m/m)
Series
Main Characters: Teddy and Nick
Release Date: November 2018
Publisher: Carina
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot


Story Overview:
One hard-nosed military police officer.

One overly enthusiastic elf.

One poorly timed snowstorm.

Is it a recipe for disaster? Or a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for holiday romance?

Teddy MacNally loves Christmas and everything that goes along with it. When he plays an elf for his charity’s events, he never expects to be paired with a Scrooge masquerading as Santa Claus. His new mission: make the holiday-hating soldier believe he was born to say ho-ho-ho.

Sergeant Major Nicholas Nowicki doesn’t do Santa, but he’s army to his blood. When his CO asks an unusual favor, Nick of course obliges. The elf to his Kris Kringle? Tempting. Too tempting—Nick’s only in town for another month, and Teddy’s too young, too cheerful and too nice for a one-night stand. 

The slow, sexy make-out sessions while Teddy and Nick are alone and snowbound, though, feel like anything but a quick hookup. As a stress-free holiday fling turns into Christmas all year round, Teddy can’t imagine his life without Nick. And Nick’s days on the base may be coming to a close, but he doesn’t plan on leaving anything, or anyone, behind.

My Review:
This book is everything that is good in a holiday story. I loved it. 

Nick is a forty-six year old career military MP on his way into retirement. He's spent almost his entire career alone. He's a bit of a stiff, curmudgeon, used to doing things a certain way. Stepping into a Santa suit is not a natural fit. He's very uncomfortable with the idea, especially after he meets Teddy, the outgoing "elf" who's heading up the Santa fundraising campaign. 

Teddy is everything that Nick isn't. He's outgoing, enthusiastic, eternally optimistic, and young. So, so young. There is NO WAY Nick is giving into the temptation that is Teddy, no matter how much the idea appeals. But then he gets snowed in and ends up staying with Teddy where things are just a little too easy and it just happens. But it's a onetime thing, right?

Getting to watch the relationship between these two unlikely characters was incredible. Teddy is everything that Nick needs in his life. He needs some fun in his life so much. He's lived twenty-eight years of restricted fun...he deserves some now...and Teddy is the perfect match for that. I loved watching Nick bloom around Teddy. It was a beautiful romance and I truly fell in love with watching them fall in love. It was a great holiday story. 

I definitely recommend it.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest and voluntary review.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Ache for You by J.T. Geissinger

Title: Ache For You
Author: J.T. Geissinger
My Rating: A-

Genre: Contemporary Romance 
Series: Slow Burn #3
Main Characters: Matteo and Kimber
Release Date: November 2018
Publisher: Montlake
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
In this fairy tale with a sexy twist, she’s a penniless San Francisco seamstress. He’s the king of Italian couture. Who’s got designs on whom?

Boutique owner Kimber DiSanto has seen better days. She’s been dumped at the altar by Prince Charmless, her business went up in flames (literally), and now she’s stuck in Florence, Italy, with an ice-queen stepmother, to try to save her late father’s failing dress shop. Only one thing could make it worse: another man in her life. The arrogant Italian fashion tycoon offering to buy her father’s shop is as rich as he is sexy, and their attraction is off the charts. But Kimber’s not about to get burned again.

Women don’t say no to Matteo Moretti—and certainly not with Kimber’s stinging precision. With all the heat and fury sparking between them, Matteo can’t resist baiting the gorgeous American. His plan? Win her over one scorching kiss at a time.

Kimber tells herself it’s all just a game. That her broken heart isn’t in danger, and that Matteo’s touch does not make her Lady Land dance with joy. But sometimes it takes the fieriest of enemies to turn a fantasy into a real-life romance.
 

My Review:
What a great and fun twist on Cinderella. This book was so fun and it was made even better when I'd catch a glimpse of the original fairy tale and how the author twisted it into this modern retelling.

Note: the absolute best twist on the original story were the stepsisters. That little gem had me giggling throughout reading the book. 

There was so much that made this book a good one...the fashion design story line was my favorite. Haute couture made in Italy...yes, please! But I also really enjoyed the characters and all the little twists and turns the author took from the original. Matteo was to-die-for sexy, but I loved Jenner's little insights throughout, too, especially about who Matteo is. I LOVED the wicked stepmother story and how that evolved over the course of the book. And of course, I really enjoyed Kimber, although it really does seem like she ticked off Karma at some point before this book starts, because she really has an awful string of events happen to her. 

The romance was gorgeous and so, so hot. I loved the chemistry between these two. The author wrote them beautifully. 

Overall, it was just a really fun, entertaining book. I'd definitely recommend it, because I loved reading it. 

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for a voluntary and honest review.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Surreal Estate by Jesi Lea Ryan


Title: Surreal Estate 
Author: Jesi Lea Ryan
My Rating: A

Genre: Paranormal Romance (m/m)
Series
Main Characters: Sasha and Nick
Release Date: November 2018
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
Sasha Michaels is a psychic with an affinity for houses. And he’s homeless. Go figure. After months of sleeping rough, he stumbles upon an abandoned house, and the lonely place beckons him inside. He’s finally safe . . . until someone comes blundering in to his hideaway.

House-flipper Nick Cooper lost everything in the recession. Desperate to revive his business, he turns to a loan shark to fund his comeback project: flipping an abandoned house full of potential. But it turns out the house has an unexpected occupant.

Nick and Sasha make a deal: Sasha can stay in exchange for helping with the renovation. To both of their surprise, the closer they get to the loan shark’s due date, the stronger their feelings for each other grow. Problem is, Nick isn’t the only one with feelings for Sasha, and now the house doesn’t want to let Sasha go.


Reader discretion advised. This title contains the following sensitive themes:

Drug use, explicit violence, non-consensual touching.
 

My Review:
Ooh, I loved this book so, so much. I love the idea of Sasha's psychic power and how he could communicate with the homes. So interesting and creative. But I also really just enjoyed the entire setup on this one. The irony of Sasha's intuition for homes and the fact that he's homeless killed me...as well as just how the negative energy affected the homes when they've been neglected. It was such a cool story line. The whole setup of Nick's career flipping houses and how that brings the two guys together worked really well, too. In fact, pretty much the entire book worked for me. I loved reading it!

I can definitely recommend this one. It was a great, entertaining read. The romance was HOT and I loved the fact that this was Nick's first bisexual experience too. That was simply the whip cream on top of an already amazing sundae of a story. I loved it all!

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest and voluntary review.