Saturday, July 21, 2018

Body and Soul by Lucy Lennox and Sloane Kennedy (audiobook)

Title: Body and Soul
Author: Lucy Lennox and Sloane Kennedy
My Rating: A
Narrator: Michael Pauley

Genre: Contemporary Romance (m/m)
Series: Twist of Fate #3
Main Characters: Oz and Jake
Release Date: March 2018 (audiobook)
Publisher: Audible
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
Oz: Escaping the international modeling scene to design my own fashion collection is the first step to shucking my bobble-headed supermodel reputation and proving to the world I’m more than just a pretty face. But the minute I have to accept roadside help from the sexy man next door, I feel like the airhead people think I am. And what’s worse, the man clearly doesn’t think I’m worth the time of day.

But despite trying to ignore my attraction to the mysterious doctor, I can’t help but be drawn to him. With every moment spent together, I begin to realize he’s hiding more than just some details of his past. He has one foot out the door.

As soon as I start to feel like everything might be coming together for me, I realize the man I’m falling in love with isn’t who I thought he was.

Jake: After three years on the run for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, I’ve finally found a seemingly safe place to settle in Haven, Colorado. With friends, a job, and a cabin in the woods, I have everything I need to live a simple life without drawing attention to myself. Everything’s fine. Fine.

Until I meet my new neighbor. The gorgeous man is anything but subtle and brings color to my life that I didn’t know was missing. But I learned years ago that falling in love with someone wasn’t an option anymore when simply being seen with me could have dire consequences. It’s time for me to run again, but I wonder if it’s safe to stick around just long enough for a taste…

Just when I begin to realize Oz is the missing piece to bring me back to life after years of hiding, my past catches up to me and throws everyone around me into danger. I know I should run, but what if it’s time to finally stop running and make a stand, once and for all?

My Review:
I love this series, but I think this has been my favorite book in it so far. Oz and Jake are just such an unlikely couple, but that's what makes them so much fun together. 

In the beginning, Oz is super high maintenance. He's an elite model, but he's here trying to prove something to himself and to others who've underestimated him. But it's a really steep learning curve since he's living pretty much in the wilderness with only Jake between him and a lot of trouble.

But Jake wants NOTHING to do with Oz. While the guy is gorgeous, he's also a lot of trouble that Jake can't handle. He's not a guy made for commitment or even a fling. He can't get attached. Jake is a mysterious conundrum. It's obvious fairly quickly in the book that something has happened in his past that he's running or escaping from. He doesn't talk about anything all. 

There were a lot of twists and turns to the story and quite a bit of action that I wasn't expecting. I loved that. 

It's a great book. I definitely fell in love with both Jake and Oz. They're amazing characters. I definitely recommend this one. 

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

Friday, July 20, 2018

After the Kiss by Lauren Layne (audiobook)

Title: After the Kiss
Author: Lauren Layne
My Rating: B+
Narrator: Samantha Cooke

Genre: Contemporary Romance 
Series: Sex, Love, and Stilettos #1
Main Characters: Julie and Mitchell
Release Date: January 2018 (audiobook)
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
Lauren Layne kicks off her Sex, Love & Stiletto series with a delightful short novel! In After the Kiss, the star columnist of Stiletto magazine will do anything for a story. Anything . . . except fall in love.
Julie Greene loves flings. Loves steamy first dates, sizzling first kisses, and every now and then, that first sexy romp between the sheets. Comfy pants, sleepy Sundays, movie nights on the couch? Shudder. But when Julie gets assigned the hardest story of her career—a first-person account of that magical shift between dating and “I do”—she’ll need a man brave enough to give a total commitment-phobe a chance at more.

Normally, Mitchell Forbes would be exactly that man. A devastatingly hot workaholic who tends to stay in relationships for far too long, he should be the perfect subject for Julie’s “research.” But what Julie doesn’t know is that Mitchell is looking to cut loose for once in his life. And the leggy journalist notorious for avoiding love is exactly the type of no-strings fling he’s looking for. In other words, Mitchell is the polar opposite of what Julie needs right now. And, at the same time, he’s exactly what she wants. 
My Review:
Overall: 4.0
Performance: 3.75
Story: 4.0

Which came first How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days or this book? I honestly don't know, but this book reminded me so, so much of that movie. It was hard to separate the two in my mind. 

Like the movie, Julie Greene has her girl-tribe who all work with her at her magazine at Stiletto. She also has a demanding boss who requires her to go out and do the impossible story...a story about falling in love...something that Julie doesn't do. She's the dating girl. The one who goes out and has fun for a couple of dates and then MOVES ON. So, to complete her assignment, she goes for the boring guy. 

Mitchell is a guy from Wall Street. In other words...he's BORING. While Julie is dating him for an article. He's dating her for a bet. (See, I told you...this is so much like the movie. But I liked the movie, so it was fun to basically see a retelling of it with slightly different circumstances.)

And while on the surface these two have nothing in common, they don't care what the other thinks so they are themselves...something that neither one normally is and they quickly discover that they have some amazing chemistry. 

Even with all the similarities to my favorite movie, I loved listening to the audio of this book. It was fun and entertaining and funny. I loved the romantic chemistry between Mitchell and Julie and loved the whole setup of who they are as characters. I've read the last few novels of the Oxford series, so it's fun to go back and read through the first novels of the Stilettos side of that. 

Lauren Layne is one of my favorite authors and I recommend all her books. They're smart and fun and there's always great dialogue and repartee between the characters that makes for really entertaining reading.

I can easily recommend this one, too.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Avalanche by Cambria Hebert

Title: Avalanche
Author: Cambria Hebert
My Rating: B

Genre: Contemporary Romance 
Series: BearPaw Resort #1
Main Characters: Bellamy and Liam
Release Date: March 2018
Publisher: Entangled Indulgence
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
Don’t get caught in the surge.

Through a bullet hole in a wall, I watch a man bleed to death. 
Those responsible think their crime died with the victim, until I identify them.
What’s a girl to do when she’s being hunted by murderers 
witness protection can’t even stop?
My only refuge is a place I vowed to never go again.
When it’s do or die, an eight-year-old heartache suddenly seems trivial. 
Besides, he won’t be there anyway.
But he is.
Turns out my old pain feels brand new the second his eyes meet mine.
I can’t leave. I can’t stay. 
This snowy town that’s supposed to be my shelter 
suddenly exposes me more than before.
With no one else to lean on, Liam becomes my lifeline. 
Now we’re both running for our lives, 
trying not to get swept away.

My Review:

I'll be honest, I didn't quite connect with this book. Although Liam and Bellamy have a history, that was a single vacation where they knew each other for a few days when they were 16 and 17, so this really had the feel of an insta-love story that just didn't quite hit all the right marks for me. The character connections between Bellamy and Liam didn't feel right.

But what did work...I liked the setup of the suspense story line. For a while at the first, I didn't think I was going to, but as more was revealed, I got into it. I also really loved Liam's relationship with his best friend, Alex. I liked their connection and that little bit of intrigue thrown in at the end about Alex's 'skills'. I also loved the resort and Charlie. We spent a Christmas in Austria one year and everything about this story fit the lodge we stayed in...I loved the mental visuals. 

While the story wasn't a complete win for me, I did enjoy reading it overall. I have to admit at disappointment though that Liam and Bellamy's story wasn't completed in this book. I really hoped book #2 would be Alex's book. If it had been, I probably would have bought it. As it is, I'm happy with ending this series here. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Cursed Touch by Kelly Apple

Title: Cursed Touch 
Author: Kelly Apple
My Rating: B+

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Grimwood #4
Main Characters: Adria and Micah
Release Date: December 2016
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: spicy

Story Overview:
Adria Grimm lives at the highest point in Grimwood. The stories of what would befall her if she ever ventured down the mountain to the forest’s edge are cautionary tales she’s always lived by. Becoming a slave to the curse that hides in her blood isn’t the fate she dreams of for herself.

When an injured man collapses on her doorstep, Adria reluctantly nurses him back to health. The man is aggravating and demanding and Adria can’t wait until he’s well enough to be on his way.

Waking with little memory of what brought him to the mountains, Micah Redfield has to piece his past together before he can complete the quest that drove him to this remote location. As it turns out, Adria has the answers he’s been looking for, but deciphering the clues she’s been left is only the beginning of their journey.

Working together, they will have to find a way to unlock the ancient magic hidden in the heart of the mountain before Grimwood itself falls.

My Review:
With every book in this series, the mystery of what exactly is happening to the forest and how it ties to the Grimm family gets deeper and deeper. For every question answered, it feels like there are another two more presented. But I kind of love that. It's great the way that Kelly Apple has taken the original fairy tales and twisted them to her own world. It's so creative and fun.

This book is a twist on the Rapunzel fairy tale...I think. Adria has lived in her tower on her mountain and has been secluded there her entire life. Her father has warned her that if she leaves, the family curse will catch up with her. 

Micah is a scholar of the old legends and stories. He's discovered that most of those stories are based somewhere on fact. So, when he and Adria compared stories, they began to think that maybe there was something there that might free her from her curse and set off on a trek...and things progressed from there.

This story is different in that Adria is completely awkward...she never deals with other people so she doesn't deal particularly well or tactfully. She says what she thinks, but Micah likes that. He likes her, especially before he understands exactly what's going on.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. Like I said, I love the creative twist on the original fairy tales and am anxious to see how this all comes together for the survival of Grimwood Forest. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Playing Hurt by Kelly Jamieson

Title: Playing Hurt
Author: Kelly Jamieson
My Rating: A

Genre: Sports Romance 
Series: Aces Hockey #6
Main Characters: Chase and Jordyn
Release Date: July 2018
Publisher: Loveswept
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
He’s playing hurt. She’s laying low. And they’re both flirting with disaster.
“Kelly Jamieson is my go-to author for hockey romance.”—Jami Davenport
Chase: The last thing I’d ever want to do is let my team down. After overcoming my bad-boy reputation, I was dominating on the ice. But things aren’t going so well this season, and even my parents think I’m partying again. Now I’m really worried about my career. The only bright spot in my life is the Twitter flirtation I’ve struck up with pop princess Jordyn Banks. Turns out she’s a huge hockey fan—and she’s willing to wager a date on her favorite team. . . .

Jordyn: Even though I’m an L.A. fan now, I’ve always had a soft spot for the Aces, since I grew up in Chicago. Then I lose a bet to Chase Hartman, and suddenly I’m up close and personal with a pro athlete who’s anything but soft. Not only is Chase the hottest guy I’ve ever met, he’s secretly super sweet. As if I had time for a relationship . . . yeah, right. But when I suddenly have nothing but time on my hands, he’s the only one who understands. Now, with both of our careers at stake, Chase is tempting me to put my heart on the line too.
My Review:
Oooh, I liked this book. It was such a different story since Jordyn is a star in her own right. I loved that little twist. And the way that the two got together is AWESOME! I love watching stars flirt on Twitter and could so see this happening...the idea makes my romantic heart happy.

So, Chase has had a star-crush on Jordyn for years so when they begin to chirp on Twitter, he's overwhelmed, but never expects anything to come from it. He's simply excited that she has a clue who he is. But things do develop...this is a romance novel, you know.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story. It was pure fun. Both these characters are stars so they live a bit of a "star" lifestyle with the ability to hop out of the country at the last moment, which made for some fantastic scenery and ambiance. But they are also dealing with star problems...stalking paparazzi and untrue stories about the two of them. 

But the main thing is that they both have very demanding jobs that are never-ending and harsh on their that title applies to them both. Honestly, there's a bit of suspense to the book to see which one fails first just because the signs are there that they're both pushing too hard. But I won't say anything more spoilers. 

I loved the story and the characters and the conflict that arises in this one. Everything in the story worked for me. The story was entertaining and fun and it captured my imagination completely.

I recommend this one. It's part of the series, but totally works as a standalone read.

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

Monday, July 16, 2018

Sink or Swim by L.A. Witt

Title: Sink or Swim
Author: L.A. Witt
My Rating: B+

Genre: Contemporary Romance (m/m)
Series: Anchor Point #8
Main Characters: Alhazar and Dylan
Release Date: July 2018
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
When need meets fear, can two very different men find common ground?

Alhazar Bukhari spent his Navy career in the closet. Now he’s retired, divorced, and hungry for the love he’s never had a chance to experience. He tries to put his faith in Allah to bring the right man into his life, but it’s hard to be patient after all this time.

Chaplain Dylan Pedersen spends his days counseling Sailors, and his nights with men he doesn’t know. Months after finally escaping an abusive relationship, he’s terrified of anything more than a physical connection. Maybe it’s a sin, but he’s too lonely to not let men into his bed, and too scared to let them into his heart.

When Alhazar’s civilian job brings him aboard the USS Fort Stevens, and his daily prayers bring him into Dylan’s chapel, the chemistry is instantaneous. Sex and friendship quickly evolve into more, but Dylan’s too haunted by his recent past to be the man Alhazar wants. Alhazar needs love, Dylan needs time, and if they can’t find some sort of balance, they’ll sink before they ever have a chance to swim.

My Review:
I do not like having religion in my romance, so I went into this story with a bit of trepidation. And yes, religion played somewhat heavily into this book...and I didn't love that. But it is who these two men are, although I wouldn't consider either of them heavily, not even the chaplain, although religion does weigh heavily on him with guilt over his sexual promiscuity. Again, I really didn't love that, but it didn't stop me from reading the book when it has in other stories, which is a testament that I truly enjoyed the story overall. 

Because there are some amazing aspects to the religion that came up in the story that I really liked. My husband was in the military for 20 years and I always loved that all religions were accepted at the base chapel...even Wiccan. I loved how accepting Dylan is of Alzahar's beliefs. No, they don't match his own, but he doesn't condemn him for that...omg, the world NEEDS more people like, so much!!!

I enjoyed getting to see a bit more of the Muslim faith in action, too. I knew they did prayers and that they had to face different directions, but I didn't realize how frequently that had to happen. And I love the idea of the soothing aspect of it and just centering a person...seriously, while I'm not Muslim, I could see how a few minutes of meditation a day in the same kind of idea could help center a person and focus them. 

So, a mixed bag on the religious aspect of the story, but like I said, I have a very low threshold for patience on this subject in my reading, so the fact that it didn't drive me to dnf the book is huge in itself. And I did like the two guys. I liked how they related to one another and their differences. Dylan is an incredible character just in that he's working so hard to help...everyone who comes through the chapel. I loved how protective Alzahar was with Dylan, his coworker, and his kids. 

Overall, it wasn't my favorite book in the series, but I did really enjoy it and thought it brought another interesting twist to this series that I never would have expected. As always, L.A. Witt writes incredibly accurate stories about life in the military and with every book I'm more amazed by her skill to step into the hearts of such different, varied characters. She is the queen of military romance!

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

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Guardian of Darkness by Katie Reus (audiobook)

Title:  Guardian of Darkness
Author: Katie Reus
My Rating: A
Narrator: Jeffrey Kafer

Genre: Paranormal Romance 
Series: Darkness #7
Main Characters: Gabriel and Vega
Release Date: May 2018 (audiobook)
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
He saw her die in a vision… 

Before five years ago, Gabriel had never met Vega, but he knows how she's going to die. He knows he'll be involved... unless he can make sure they never meet, never cross paths, so that his vision will never come true. So he left his pack behind, joined the Stavros pack and was determined to never let that future play out. To never meet her at all. Fate had other plans—and she walked right into his life when he least expected it. For the last five years he’s avoided Vega whenever possible even while trying to keep an eye on her. But when she gets cagey with her pack and disappears, he has no choice but to follow her. Now, circumstances are forcing them to work together and he’s determined to protect her against any threat. If that means dying for her, he’s more than willing to. But she doesn’t want his protection. If anything, she’s determined to prove she’s stronger than everyone thinks. 

She’s writing her own future… 

Vega isn’t the same moody teenager who came to live with the Stavros pack all those years ago. With college behind her, she’s been recruited by a division of the government’s supernatural Black Ops. Trained and more than ready for her first mission, she doesn’t expect Gabriel to crash her assignment. To save her cover, they pretend to be a couple. But soon lines are blurred and neither can deny the incendiary attraction between them. As they race to stop a man who wants to sell out their people to the highest bidder, they find themselves fighting for a future together. With time running out, she has no choice but to rely on the irresistible male who’s turned her world upside down. Unfortunately, in order to save the woman he loves, Gabriel has to give her up. 

Length: NOVEL 

My Review:
Overview: 4.5
Narrator: 4.25
Story: 4.5

I love that for this book, the author has taken us full circle. In the very first book about Vega's parents, she was still just a teenager. But now she's really come into her own and is branching out into her options...options that mom and dad probably won't approve of. But it's for sure that her mentor and sometimes bodyguard, Gabriel, won't approve. But with his history, Gabriel is the first one to really recognize that Vega might be into something over her head. 

But for the last couple of years, Gabriel has tried to separate himself from Vega. She pulls at him more than any other female ever has, but he knows if he gives in, it will cost Vega her very life. 

I have to say I like the way this story played out. There were a lot of little twists and turns that I didn't see coming. It made for a great audio listen that I managed to devour in pretty much a single day just because I didn't want to step away from the story. 

I highly recommend it...and the entire series. The audiobooks have been highly enjoyable and I've loved immersing myself into this world the last couple of months. Jeffrey Kafer is an incredible narrator and the stories are simply good entertainment. 

Definitely recommend!