Saturday, June 30, 2012

Cry Wolf by Angela Campbell


Title: Cry Wolf
Author: Angela Campbell
My Rating:  A-




Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series:  
Main Characters: Andrea and Sean
Release Date: October 2011
ISBN: ebook
Publisher: Carina Press


Links to Purchase:
Amazon  
Sexual Intensity: spicy


Story Overview:
Andrea Lockhart's job as a reporter for cheesy tabloid The Naked Truth isn't exactly where she thought her journalism career would end up. She's determined to make the best of it, but when her editor sends her to Woodbine, South Carolina, to investigate a werewolf sighting, Andrea decides the ridiculous assignment will be her last. Until she meets Sean Hunter.
The last time she saw Sean, he had just beat her out for the position of editor of their college newspaper, and told her she'd never make it as a reporter. Given his grand ambitions, she's shocked to find him editing the Woodbine Weekly.Once they start competing for leads on the werewolf, Andrea becomes determined to break the story first—she can't let Sean beat her again.
As they each get closer to finding the source of the rumors, the only thing more surprising than the truth are the feelings Sean is able to stir in her, feelings she thought she had left behind...
87,000 words

My review:
A- spicy
I really liked this book. At first, I wasn't sure what it was going to be, but the book was so much more and much deeper than I expected. This is the story of Andrea and Sean. They went to college together, and being the top journalism students in their class, were often competing against each other. Early on in their college lives, they'd actually been friends, but by the time they graduated, they were much less. And on Andi's part, there were lots of hurt feelings over the way things ended with them. Now it's ten years later and they both have had high's and low's since then and have matured into much different people.

I loved everything about this story line. I enjoyed the fact that they are both journalists. I liked that they had a history although a lot of it wasn't a good history. I even liked the werewolf angle to the story. It made for great reading and even a pretty good suspense line to keep the story really interesting. I never thought I could get so caught up in a werewolf story that wasn't flat-out paranormal.

Overall this is a great book. There are two fabulous characters who aren't without their flaws, but manage to stay completely likable. There are several side characters who were equally fun. I especially loved Reed...teenage photographer (i.e. Jimmy to Kent and Lois Lane...I loved that analogy!) I had no idea how the werewolf story was going to tie up, but thought it worked perfectly even if the final scene did read a little too much like an 80's horror movie (and the only reason this book got an A- rating vs. an A rating.)

Friday, June 29, 2012

At Last by Jill Shalvis


Title: At Last
Author: Jill Shalvis
My Rating:  A



Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Lucky Harbor #5  
Main Characters: Amy and Matt
Release Date: June 2012
ISBN:9781455503742
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Links to Purchase:
Amazon  
Sexual Intensity: hot

I received a copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Story Overview:
HER LOVE HAS COME ALONG . . .
Amy Michaels loves her new life in Lucky Harbor. A waitress in the local diner, she's looking forward to her first weekend hike through the mountains. But when a wrong turn takes her off the trail, she finds herself up close and personal with forest ranger Matt Bowers. And even though she's tempted to kiss that sexy smile right off his face, she won't make the mistake of getting involved with the town heartthrob.
A former cop whose life went south, Matt doesn't let anyone get too close. But something about the feisty beauty caught his eye the moment he first saw her in the diner. After a hot night under a starry sky, Matt can't deny their attraction-or the fact that for the first time in a long time, he feels the stirrings of something more. Now it's up to Matt to help Amy see that, no matter what is in their past, together they can build a future in Lucky Harbor.

My Review:
I love Jill's books that explore the great outdoors (my favorite series of hers is the Wilder brothers series who are all outdoor adventure guides). This book features Matt...hottie park ranger...that right there just made the book for me. Add to it that, Amy is an artist who goes out on nature hikes to draw and reflect on her grandmothers journey through these same mountains. Yep, I pretty much loved these two characters and thoroughly loved getting to read about their romantic journey.

To say that I'm a Jill Shalvis fan is putting it mildly...I read and LOVE everything she writes and this book is no different. Told with fun and emotion, all her books are truly fabulous. If you enjoy reading contemporary romance at all, I challenge you to read her books. I promise you, you won't regret it.

I think what makes this particular series a favorite of mine is that all the main characters have circles of friends who build them up and tell them the harsh truth when they need it.  Always, these friends are there with their sarcastic humor and tidbits of wisdom that are always funny and entertaining. 

For the main couple in this book, they have an interesting dichotomy. Matt was a Chicago cop at the same time that Amy was living and trying to survive on those same streets he was working in Chicago. For both of them, that was a lifetime ago and although they are very different people now, they still carry wounds from that time. Those wounds lead them both to have trust issues, so they agree to keep their relationship as entirely sexual...yeah, you know, that never works, but it does make for some absolute fun reading for us!

Overall, this was another amazing read in the Jill Shalvis library. I received this book as an  e-book for review, but immediately went out and bought a print copy too because these are my keeper books...to read over and over and over again.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Triangles by Ellen Hopkins


Title: Triangles
Author: Ellen Hopkins
My Rating:  C-



Genre: Women's Fiction
Series:  
Main Characters: Holly, Andrea, and Marisa
Release Date: June 2012
ISBN:9781451626339
Publisher: Atria Books

Links to Purchase:
Amazon  
Sexual Intensity: spicy

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in return for an honest review.

Story Overview:
Three female friends face midlife crises in #1 New York Times bestselling author Ellen Hopkins’s no-holds-barred exploration of sex, marriage, and the fragility of life.
Holly is filled with regret after eighteen years at home with her three children. She sheds sixty pounds and loses herself in the world of extramarital sex. Andrea is a single mom watching her friend Holly’s meltdown with a mixture of concern and contempt. Holly is throwing away what Andrea has spent her whole life searching for. So what if she picks up Holly’s castaway husband? Marissa has more than her fair share of challenges—a gay, rebellious teenage son; a terminally ill daughter; and a husband who buries himself in his work.
As one woman’s marriage unravels, another’s rekindles. As one woman’s family comes apart at the seams, another’s reconfigures into something bigger and better. In this story of connections and disconnections, one woman’s up is another one’s down, and all of them will learn the meaning of friendship, betrayal, and forgiveness.
Unflinchingly honest, emotionally powerful, surprisingly erotic, Triangles is the ultimate page-turner, told in gorgeous, expertly honed poetic verse that perfectly captures the inner lives of Hopkins’s unforgettable characters.

My Review:
This book was sent to me unsolicited by the publisher. I like that sometime because it challenges me to read books outside the lines of my normal reading. This book DEFINITELY falls in that category. This is not anything that I ever would have picked up for myself to read. One reason for that is because of the story, but we'll discuss that in a moment.

But first we have to talk about the way that this book is written. The ENTIRE book is written in poetic, stanza-like prose. It's incredibly creative and interesting. Straight up, I am NOT a poetry person, so I wasn't sure if I was even going to be able to read this book, but it worked. I found it a really interesting way to read the book and absolutely would like to read another book written like this (as long as the story was a completely different story.)

The story is about three women: Holly, Marisa, and Andrea. The story changes to each of their point of views on a regular basis. The way the book is arranged is they each have around 6-8 poems each time it is their section. The first 5-7 of those are straight up telling the story, albeit in ever changing poetic style verse. Then the final poem is a true poetic poem (i.e. lots of symbolism...by the end of the book, I wasn't even reading the last poem in each section anymore. I told you, I am NOT a poetry person.)

I could have really liked this book, but the story just wasn't the type that I enjoy. I had a pretty good idea of that going in. I am a romance reader. I like books that overall leave me with a happy feeling. This is not one of those books. These three women have incredibly messed up lives and their focus on sexual matters when it comes to every aspect of their lives means that things aren't going to change for them. There are no happy endings here. Quite honestly, I don't even feel like the book resolved anything in these three women's lives. You follow them and hope that things are going to get better after the book ends, but I have my doubts. That being said, though, it is thought-provoking. I'm at the same place as these women...41, with a teenager and a 20 year marriage. There were definitely aspects of the story that resonated with me, but only enough to terrify me...LOL!

Overall, it wasn't a book for me, but I could see how it would appeal to a lot of other people. I see this as an Oprah book club kind of book. Don't let the poetic slant put you off if the story appeals. I think you'll find that you like that aspect of it.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Those Violet Eyes by Vonnie Davis

Title: Those Violet Eyes
Author: Vonnie Davis
My Rating: C+

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Honky Tonk Hearts #1
Main Characters: Evie and Win
Release Date: June 2012
ISBN: ebook
Publisher: Wild Rose Press
Links to Purchase:
Amazon  
Sexual Intensity: spicy

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in return for an honest review.


Story Overview:
Honky Tonk Hearts Series
Evie Caldwell hates her life. Five years ago, she gave up college and her dream of teaching to care for her ailing mother. Now, she's trapped taking care of her worthless brother and the family ranch. Waiting tables to earn her way out of Texas, the last thing she wants is a muscleman with a macho Marine attitude complicating her life. But, oh, how that man makes her insides melt.
Wounded vet Win Fairchild returns to Texas to heal, find a piece of his soul, and open a ranch for amputee children. Finding someone to love is not on his agenda. But when he starts work at the Lonesome Steer Honky Tonk, a spitfire with violet eyes and a major attitude instantly captures his heart.
Evie just wants to escape, but now that Win knows what he wants, can he convince Evie to stay in Texas—and his bed?
Rating: Spicy
Page Count: 151
Word Count: 40690
978-1-61217-269-9 Digital

My Review:
This was an interesting little book. Win has gone home to his Uncle's place after being injured in Afghanistan. He's bought himself a ranch and is adjusting to life with a prosthetic leg. As a classically trained chef and to make extra money while he's rebuilding the ranch, he works as a cook in his Uncle's bar 4 nights/week.

Evie sees herself as trapped in her life. She made a promise to her dying mother to take care of her brother Dooley. The problem...mom left the entire ranch to Dooley so he's in charge, but he's a lazy, jerk and Evie is left doing all the work. She's trying to save up money to get her own place and that's why she's waitressing tables after long, hard days on the ranch doing it all by herself.

There were things about this book I loved...#1 among those was Win. He has a slew of hard things going on...the loss of his leg, PTSD about that event and the loss of his team, rebuilding a ranch almost single-handedly. BUT he doesn't let any of that hold him down. He's determined and stubborn and moody, but such a fabulous character!

On the other side is Evie and I just had a hard time with her character. I know she made that promise to her mom, but she's basically enslaved herself to her brother and I can't accept that. She's a tough chick....except when it comes to Dooley and then she seems like she's all just bluster. I could have really loved this story if not for that fact because overall, the book is good. Win and Evie have great chemistry. The book is fun and entertaining. This one character and her major flaw just didn't do it for me...but you know, that's a personal thing with me. You may read it and absolutely love it. I hope you do...Texas ranching and a wounded vet...there are some really wonderful things about this story.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Can't Buy Me Love by Molly O'Keefe

Title: Can't Buy Me Love
Author: Molly O'Keefe
My Rating: A-


Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: #1
Main Characters: Tara and Luc
Release Date: June 2012
ISBN:978-0440423072
Publisher: Bantam
Links to Purchase:
Amazon  
Sexual Intensity: hot

I received a copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley in return for an honest review.


Story Overview:
In Molly O’Keefe’s captivating new contemporary romance, a woman with a past and a man without a future struggle to find a place where they belong.

A girl from the wrong side of the tracks, Tara Jean Sweet knows that opportunity will never knock; she’ll have to seize it. Elderly Texas rancher Lyle Baker has a dying request: He will give Tara Jean a stake in his leather business in exchange for a little family subterfuge. All Tara Jean has to do is play the part of a gold-digging fiancĂ©e to lure Lyle’s estranged children home. The mission is soon accomplished. 

Now Lyle’s gone—and his ridiculously handsome son, Luc, an ice hockey superstar sidelined by injuries, is the new owner of Crooked Creek ranch. He’s also Tara Jean’s boss. But being so close to sinfully sweet Tara Jean does crazy things to Luc’s priorities, like make him want to pry her deepest secrets from those irresistible lips. But when Tara Jean’s past demands a dirty showdown, will Luc stay and fight?

My Review:

This book had everything I love in a contemporary romance...a ranch in Texas, a super-hot and sexy NHL player with a big vulnerability, and one tough heroine. 

When I started reading this book, I wasn't sure I was going to be able to like Tara. She' s acting like a vapid, money-digging tramp and there are little hints that she isn't entirely acting. She absolutely has a past which she's not proud of, but I really am impressed with the way that Molly O'Keefe wrote this book. She managed to keep the heroine likable even while skirting very close to the edge of a really awful character. In the end, you love her more because she's overcome this awful past which truly could have turned her into the caricature of herself that she sometimes acts like.

Then there's Luc. *sigh* From the very start you know that his hockey career means everything to him even though it's slowly killing him. He's having a really hard time facing the reality that it's over and he really doesn't want the distraction that his family and Tara provide. He wants to focus on hockey and getting better. He is a strong guy and fully believes that his will alone will overcome everything else. An alpha with a huge vulnerability...yeah, I liked it. And I really loved the glimpses of life in the NHL that we got to see.

This is a book about family, which is kind of ironic since the whole story is brought together by the extreme dysfunction that this family has dealt with their entire lives. But there is a whole cast of characters that make up this family. I loved Celeste, Luc's mom, and Rosa, the housekeeper, and was intrigued by Ian, the ranch foreman and Tara's friend. I loved Billy, Luc's hockey teammate and really hope we get to see a book about him sometime soon...especially since he was just traded to Dallas in this book. I'm not so sold on Victoria, Luc's half-sister and heroine of the next book, but I have a feeling that Molly O'Keefe will work her writing magic with her too.

Overall this was a fun and entertaining book. There's a lot to the book and I waffled alot about how I was going to rate it (both lower and higher), but overall I loved the book, these two characters, and the way the story evolved to them finding their Happily Ever After.