Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Hotter You Burn by Gena Showalter (audiobook)

Title: The Hotter You Burn
Author: Gena Showalter
My Rating: A+
Narrator: Savannah Richards

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: The Original Heartbreakers #2
Main Characters: Beck and Harlow
Release Date: July 2015 (audiobook)
Publisher: Recorded Books
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
New York Times bestselling author Gena Showalter is back with a sizzling Original Heartbreakers story featuring a troubled playboy and the woman he can’t resist… 

Beck O'ckley is ruthless in the boardroom...and the bedroom. He's never been with the same woman twice, and vows he never will. With a past as twisted as his, meaningless sex keeps the demons at bay. His motto: One and done. No harm, no foul.

Harlow Glass is the most hated girl in town. The beautiful artist is penniless, jobless and homeless. When she sneaks into Beck's home—her ancestral estate—for food, she's shocked by his early return...and her immediate, sizzling and intense attraction to him.

For the first time in Beck's life, he can't get a woman out of his mind. All too soon, friendship blooms into obsession and he'll have to break her heart...or surrender his own

My Review:
Overall.... 4.75
Performance... 4.0

Story.... 5.0

*happy sigh* This book was all that I love when I go to read a contemporary romance. It had an angst-filled hero, a heroine that simply broke my heart, and a love story that made me swoon. Seriously I have so much love for this book (and yes, I cried a couple of times while reading it. A book that can touch me that much emotionally always earns high marks from me).

Beck is the man-slut of the trio of men who have moved to Strawberry Valley. Everyone in town knows it, especially Harlow since she's been camping out on the land where the three men of this series live so she's had front row seats to the loops of porn happening nightly in Beck's bedroom. Beck loves women and they love him for it. He never lies to them and he never invites them back for a second go. He's there just to have a good time. Period. Dot. He uses sex to feel good temporarily because he has some mental things going on that never make him feel good. He's more than a little broken (Hint for the series...all these men are more than a little broken, but that's what makes this series so good to read. They just need love.).

Harlow is the town outcast. In high school she learned that she could make herself feel a little bit better (after her father relentlessly tore her down and shattered her self-confidence) by bullying others. This town HATES her and none of them have ever forgotten that horrible girl she was. Harlow takes the hate. She knows that she deserves it and more. She was awful to them. If it helps the townspeople to tear her down now, then she will take it. She's trying so hard to be a better person, but the poor girl simply cannot catch a break. When the story begins she's stealing food from Beck's house. She's camped out on his property and starving to death because no one will give her a job. 

Beck has been fascinated by Harlow Glass from the moment he found a box of photos of her at the top of the closet. Looking at those photos he can see that something significant happened to her to change her over the years. He's curious and needs to know more. When he finds her, this is his chance. 

So many times during reading this book, my heart cracked a bit more. Both of these characters have been through so much. And the blows just kept on. But it's a book filled with hope because they both kept rising up stronger every time. And watching the two of them fall in love and learn to trust that love was gorgeous. Like I said at the beginning of my review, this book is a perfect example of why I love to read romance. It was just so good and made me smile through the tears by the end of it. All the feels were there and they were phenomenal. 

Note: (And I also pointed out in the first book which I also listened to on audio) Overall, I really enjoy this narrator, but she doesn't have much differences between her men's voices. It's okay though because of Gena Showalter's writing...she's always good about identifying who is speaking when the guys are all together.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Sweet Little Lies by Jill Shalvis

Title: Sweet Little Lies
Author: Jill Shalvis
My Rating: A-

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Heartbreaker Bay #1
Main Characters: Pru and Finn
Release Date: June 2016
Publisher: Avon
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
Choose the one guy you can’t have . . .

As captain of a San Francisco Bay tour boat, Pru can handle rough seas—the hard part is life on dry land. Pru loves her new apartment and her neighbors; problem is, she’s in danger of stumbling into love with Mr. Right for Anybody But Her.

Fall for him—hard . . .

Pub owner Finn O’Riley is six-foot-plus of hard-working hottie who always makes time for his friends. When Pru becomes one of them, she discovers how amazing it feels to be on the receiving end of that deep green gaze. But when a freak accident involving darts (don’t ask) leads to shirtless first aid, things rush way past the friend zone. Fast.

And then tell him the truth.

Pru only wants Finn to be happy; it’s what she wishes for at the historic fountain that’s supposed to grant her heart’s desire. But wanting him for herself is a different story—because Pru’s been keeping a secret that could change everything. . . .

My Review:

Happy sigh...a new series from Jill Shalvis. I cannot tell you just how excited I am about this new series. I preordered way before the books were even released, but now that I've read book #1, I'm even more so. I love the setup for this series.

It takes place in San Francisco and centers around a group of friends who all work and live in the historic area of town. Pru is new to the area and the building. She's a ships captain who does day tours around the bay for Jake. While she's been doing the job for a while, she moved to this particular building for a get close to Finn and his younger brother Sean. She has ulterior motives. She's spent her entire adult life taking care of the people who were directly affected by the car accident that killed her parents...a car accident that was their fault because her father was drunk. Sean and Finn are the last people on her list that she still feel need her intervention, because they're the ones who lost just as much as her in that accident. She lost both her parents. They lost their one remaining parent, their father. 

Finn was 21, and Sean was 14 when their parents died. Finn has spent every moment since then trying to make sure Sean has a good life, something that he doesn't fully appreciate. Finn is married to the bar trying to make it a success for both of them. Sean plays. Finn has decided that life is okay this way. He doesn't have to worry about getting his heart broken. He's certainly not looking for love. 

The thing that made this story for me was the building with its historic charm and magical fountain and the group of friends who all work there. They are a varied group...and there's a lot of them, but they love one another and take care of each other, even if they do gossip like firemen (lol). I loved the legend of the fountain and the dumbwaiter in the building that proved to have some interesting plot points. Even the homeless guy has amazing charm and insight into this group of people who all interact here. There was a magical quality to the story just because of all those depths. And I LOVED that about it. 

I also really loved why Pru was here, and her history with, they have a complex friendship, but I liked that. The little glimpses of her life as a boat captain were interesting and I also loved the nights at the pub. It was simply a great book and I can pretty much guarantee that this series will have an honored place on my keeper shelf.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review, but I'd already ordered a print copy of it ages ago, because Jill Shalvis is an auto-read author for me.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

On the Brink by Kate Willoughby

Title: On the Brink
Author: Kate Willoughby
My Rating: B+

Genre: Contemporary Romance (m/m)
Series: in the Zone #0
Main Characters: Hart and Jeremy
Release Date: June 2016
Publisher: -
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: spicy

Story Overview:
Due to popular demand, Kate Willoughby brings you Hart Griffin and Jeremy Fenton's origin story. Find out how these two met and fell in love... 

Holtzer University junior Hart Griffin won't let anything interfere with his future as a professional hockey player. No way, no how. He's the star forward of his college team and a first round NHL draft pick.

One hot night with a male super fan calls into question everything Hart thought he knew about his sexuality and launches him on a soul-searching journey in which nothing is as it seems and his entire world is turned upside down.
My Review:
This story was just pure, romantic fun. Jeremy is out and proud. Hart is not. In fact, even if he can face up to the fact that he *might* be gay, if he wants to have an NHL contract, he needs to stay in the closet. But after one sexy hook-up that can never happen again, these guys became friends, and I fell in love with both of them just a whole bunch more. 

I loved that they were friends...and just how well they get along with one another in every regard not just sexually. I love how brave Jeremy is in the face of homophobia that can and does get him hurt. This is s short novella. It's quick and easy to read. I'll be honest, I read so much, I don't really remember these characters from the In the Zone books, so that HFN ending was a bit hard. 

This is a story that takes place in 2003 when the guys are in college. The other books in the series take place now, so obviously they do have an HEA. I just can't remember the details of it and it makes me want to go back and reread the books they are side characters in.

For a short novella there is lots happening in the background...homophobia, equality education, hockey, roommate issues, apartment issues. Because there was so much, these things were just skimmed. This book could have easily been developed into a full-length novel just with what was already on the page...just expanded. But I did like it. It's a good read and on an evening when I couldn't handle anything deeper or longer, it was perfect. 

I enjoyed this little glimpse into Hart and Jeremy's before.

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

Secretly Hers by Jamie Beck

Title: Secretly Hers
Author: Jamie Beck
My Rating: A-

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Sterling Canyon #2
Main Characters: Kelsey and Trip
Release Date: June 2016
Publisher: Montlake
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot
Story Overview:
On her thirty-first birthday, hopeless romantic Kelsey Callihan has all but given up on happily ever afters, which is why she agrees to a risqué proposition from Sterling Canyon’s notorious playboy, backcountry skier Trip Lexington. After all, every girl needs a little fun, and with Trip, there are no mixed signals or risks of a broken heart. And if his tips can help her land a husband in the process, all the better.
Trip couldn’t be happier with his secret, no-strings fling with sweet and sexy Kelsey until she calls it quits after meeting a man she believes could share her dream of marriage and family. His jealousy turns to outrage when he discovers that the man is his estranged half brother and lifelong rival.
Now Trip must decide whether the fire in his gut is due to sibling rivalry or something much more dangerous…like love.

My Review:

Jamie Beck is still a fairly new to me author, so for some reason I go into these books with low expectations...which she defies every time. I loved this book. 

This is book #2 in this series, although you can easily read both books as stand-alones. This book features two very unlikely main characters. In the first book, Kelsey became known as Boomerang, because even though the hero kept telling her no, she never understood he was just not that into her...and she kept coming right back. Trip is the hero in this book and he's Grey (hero from book #1) friend and business partner. Trip is the town man-whore. In town for a weekend trip? Trip's your man and will make your vacation all you'd hoped it'd be without any awkward expectations. Whereas Kelsey has ALL the expectations. She wants the picket fence, 2.5 kids, and the family soon as possible. Her biological clock isn't getting any younger.

That's the setup and it worked so, so well. I loved these two together. Trip is unapologetic about never wanting more, but he guarantees that what you get right now will be more than enough. He wants Kelsey, but knows that he's nowhere near what she wants...besides sexually. But he's also watching her Boomerang routine and cringing. So he offers her a deal...he'll deal with her sexual needs and in exchange, he'll teach her how not to act so desperate so maybe she won't scare the next guy away. 

The thing is...Trip isn't the jerk that he sounds like he is. There are very good reasons why he doesn't want a commitment and I challenge you not to be moved by his story. This is a man with deep scars, but an amazing heart. He just doesn't expose it very often. And even though Kelsey has all these romantic dreams, she's also this really driven career-woman with definite goals for her life...more than having babies and taking care of the house. 

I loved the story and the emotions behind it all. It was a fabulous read, set in the backdrop of the Colorado mountains. I loved the skiing and the adventure company that Grey and Trip own. I also really loved the backstory for Trip with his father and family. It all set up to make for a great book that I highly recommend. 

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

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Riverbend Road by RaeAnne Thayne

Title: Riverbend Road
Author: RaeAnne Thayne
My Rating: A

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Haven Point #4
Main Characters: Wyn and Cade
Release Date: June 2016
Publisher: Harlequin
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: spicy

Story Overview:
Return to Haven Point, where New York Times bestselling author RaeAnne Thayne proves there's no sweeter place to fall in love

Protecting the streets of Haven Point isn't just a job for police officer Wyn Bailey, it's a family tradition. But lately she's found herself wanting more, especially from her boss—and overprotective brother's best friend—sexy chief of police, Cade Emmett. The only problem is getting Cade to view her as more than just a little sister.

Cade's hands-off approach with Wyn isn't from lack of attraction. But his complicated past has forced him to conceal his desire. When Wyn is harmed in the line of duty, Cade realizes the depth of his feelings, but can he let his guard down long enough to embrace the love he secretly craves?

My Review:
I'm really liking this series. I came into it late, but I'm definitely a converted fan.

In this book, there is a simmering romance between Wyn, a cop, and Cade, her boss, the police chief. Definite conflict of interest, especially since Cade is almost an adopted member of Wyn's family. He grew up coming to Wyn's home when his own home life wasn't the best and he's Marshall's best friend. But to complicate things, Cade isn't being completely honest with what happened when Wyn's father was shot while on the job doing the job that Cade is doing now.

There's a lot going on in this small town and it was fun to see it through the eyes of its police force. I liked the story, the romance, and all the side stories that came out through the course of the book. I especially loved Andie's story and understand that book is next. I can't wait to read it. 

Overall, this was just a thoroughly enjoyable book. Wyn and Cade have been friends and colleagues for a long time and it was fun to see them transition to more. Wyn's family is interesting. I felt for her mother, and all the losses she's suffered. You certainly can't blame her for being overprotective. But I do love this family of cops and this little town.

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

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Promo Post: Into the Nothing by BT Urruela

Title: Into the Nothing
Series: Broken Outlaw #1
Author: BT Urruela
Release Date: June 21, 2016

Xander Evans has been on the road for many years. Never settling. Always moving from one place to another, unable to let go of his past. He lived a tragic childhood, spending most of those years in foster care. He's never felt like he's had a home. That is until he stops in the small town of Truman Valley, Missouri, where he meets a woman who will change everything he's ever known.
Paige Watson has it all. A loving family, beautiful home, and a great career. The only thing she's love. After escaping an abusive relationship, she opens her heart up to a stranger. He is unlike any man she's ever met. He came into her life and turned it completely upside down. Everything is perfect. That is, until one fateful night. 
A night that would tear the Watson family apart, never to be put back together again. 
A night that would send Xander away to prison for life.

"He was over here for like five hours last night drinking and talking with Dad. You think I like him? My dad's in love. And the way he didn’t hesitate to put Benji in his place, I just think Dad’s got a good feeling about him."
"Shit, I've got a good feeling about him too... and it's in my panties." She laughs and motions toward her crotch. "If I had been working and saw him do that to Benji's fat ass, I would've let him fuck me right on top of the bar…and I would’ve let everyone watch."
"I'm serious. Fuck it!”
"You're ridiculous."
"Paige, don't tell me you didn't notice that anaconda stuffed into his jeans?"
"What?! What the fuck are you talking about? Anaconda? I wasn't looking at his damn jeans." I laugh, finding it hard to not to love this girl who has become like a sister to me. She's the craziest bitch I know, but she's got my back no matter what. She's had it since day one.
"Why wouldn’t you look at his jeans? That’s where his dick is!”

BT Urruela was an infantryman in the US Army from August 2004 until February 2011. At the end of a year long tour to Baghdad, Iraq, his vehicle was hit by two roadside bombs, which took his right leg below the knee and the life of his commander. He was awarded a Purple Heart for his wounds, an Army Commendation Medal, and Combat Infantryman's Badge. He medically retired from the Army in 2011 and moved to Tampa, FL where he currently works as a Director and Brand Ambassador for VETSports, a veteran community sports nonprofit he co-founded in 2012. He also conducts motivational speeches, works as a cover and fitness model and he's a personal performance trainer. He co-wrote the military romance novel A Lover's Lament and will be releasing his debut solo novel, Into the Nothing, on June 21st, 2016.

A Measure of Love by Sophie Jackson

Title: A Measure of Love
Author: Sophie Jackson
My Rating: A

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: A Pound of Flesh #3
Main Characters: Riley and Lexie
Release Date: June 2016
Publisher: Gallery
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
From award-winning fanfic phenomenon Sophie Jackson, the third novel in the sexy and emotionally intense blockbuster A Pound of Flesh series.

Life in New York for ex-con Riley Moore is pretty damn good, until a call from his mother shatters the calm: his father has suffered his second heart attack in two years and is in a critical condition. Leaving everything behind, Riley flies home to Michigan for the first time in five years to support his mother and do his best to make amends with his father. He also tries not to think about Lexie Pierce, the only girl he ever truly cared about, and who broke his heart.

When they inevitably meet, memories of their love make Riley yearn to reconnect, despite the pain they both suffered. Though she's wary, and has a secret she’s hidden from him for five years, Lexie has little willpower when it comes to Riley and she agrees. Besides, after all that has gone before, she owes it to both of them to find out if they can love each other again.

Can they both overcome their sorrow and secrets and finally share their life together?

A powerful new voice in modern romance, Sophie Jackson has crafted a passionate love story with unforgettable characters that will stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page.

My Review:
I think...I'm not sure because I'd have to go back and read my other reviews for this series...but I think this was actually my favorite book from this series. I loved it so much, but then I adore second chance at love stories. Also, I think this book read more along the lines of mainstream contemporary romance than the first two in the series did. (Not that I haven't loved all the books in the series, because I absolutely have...this one just felt more mainstream.)

But this story is about Riley. He was in jail with Carter (hero from book #1) and is a partner in a garage with Max (hero from book #2), but while all their stories take place in NYC, his story mainly takes place in a small town in Michigan where he grew up. See, Riley has a secret love that's only been hinted at in the other books...and that's Lexie...who broke and shattered his heart. He was in love with her from the moment he met her when she moved into their neighborhood when RIley was 8. From that moment on, they were inseparable...until Riley went to college at NYU. That adjustment was hard enough on Lexie, but then her father who was the center of her world suddenly died, and Lexie lost it. She sunk into a deep depression and the biggest casualty of her unstable emotional state was her relationship with Riley. She dumped him.

Riley never recovered. We've known Riley from the very start of the series as a HUGE man-whore, but suddenly, that all made sense as this book started to unfold his story with Lexie. 

While I hated Lexie's action over the course of time, I adored their story and understood how depression messed with her ability to make smart decisions for her and for Riley. This was one of those stories that was filled with little details that made a good romance simply outstanding...from Noah to Riley's rocky relationship with his father. I loved every single scene that included Riley's brothers and am really, really hoping that Sophie Jackson is setting this up so that she can tell their stories...those guys are awesome. I also loved Lexie's jewelry store and the amazing idea of her post-it wall. What an amazing, positive thing to do. 

I really just loved the book. I thought the romance was spot-on and loved how the two have been so hurt, but they know the one place they connect is sexually, so they take that completely off the table to make sure they can make a real relationship work first. That was awesome. I loved the small-town setting and the backdrop it provided for the story. It all just really worked for me. 

I highly recommend this book and the entire series. You can easily read any of the books in the series as stand-alones, but I HIGHLY recommend you read them all. They are excellent contemporary romance and I'm thrilled to have them on my keeper shelf.

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