Thursday, July 31, 2014

Bayou Moon (audiobook) by Ilona Andrews

Title: Bayou Moon
Author: Ilona Andrews
My RatingB+
Narrated byRenee Raudman 

Genre: Paranormal Romance 
Series: Edge #2
Main CharactersWilliam and Cerise
Release Date: September 2010
Publisher: Tantor Media
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: spicy

Story Overview:
2 Mp3-CDs / 16 hours

Cerise Mar and her unruly clan are cash poor but land rich, claiming a large swathe of the Mire, the Edge swamplands between the state of Louisiana and the Weird. When her parents vanish, her clan's long-time rivals are suspect number one.

But all is not as it seems. Two nations of the Weird are waging a cold war fought by feint and espionage, and their conflict is about to spill over into the Edge---and Cerise's life. William, a changeling soldier who left behind the politics of the Weird, has been forced back into service to track down a rival nation's spymaster.

When William's and Cerise's missions lead them to cross paths, sparks fly---but they'll have to work together if they want to succeed…and survive.

My Review:
Overall.... 4.0
Performance... 5.0

Story.... 3.5

I love audiobooks, but unless I'm on a roadtrip, I only get about an hour a week to listen to them. This audiobook was 16 hours long and I only had one small roadtrip when I got to listen to it. As a result, this book took me about 6 weeks to get through. That was entirely too long and I think it affected how much I enjoyed the book overall.

This is a complex world and a complex story, but at the heart of it were Cerise and her family who live in the swamps. William is a changeling...i.e. a wolf shifter...and her love interest. The overall story line was very layered with intrigue and levels of interest from the three different levels of this world. But I'll be honest with you...because it took me so long to get through it...the politics of who all was after what and who was working with whom, got completely lost for me. For me, this book remained about Cerise and William and their developing relationship which I did really enjoy. 

For William, being a changeling is not something good in this world. The world considers them feral and tried to kill them all at some point. So he never lets most people know what he is. For Cerise, she doesn't give a damn what he is and I absolutely LOVED that about her. Cerise is one tough cookie and she does what she wants (unless it will hurt her family) and then she does what's good for the family. She's loyal to a fault, tough, but so wanting for a life and the love that she finds with William. For him, he's never even considered that he could find the happiness that he does with Cerise. He is also really tough, but has a vulnerability which just tore at my heart because he wants to belong somewhere so badly. I loved him in book #1 and fell even further for him in this story. 

There is a LOT to this story...a lot of characters, a lot of layers of politics, and I'm not going to get into all that. I will say that something that the team of Ilona Andrews does incredibly well is adding children to the story. In book #1 there were Georgie and Jack (which we get to see again in this book ...yay) and then this one had Lark and the boy that I can't remember his name that William takes under his wing. They added so much impact to the story with very little overall page time. 

And I can't do an audiobook review without mentioning Renee Raudman's INCREDIBLE narration. Wow. There are SO MANY characters in this book and each one sounds distinctly different. I don't know how she does it. Even the kids from book #1, Jack and Georgie...sounded exactly the same as they did in book #1. She has to have over 100-150 voices in her repertoire and it boggles my mind.

I have to admit, I'm on the fence about book #3. These absolutely are the kinds of books I enjoy on audio, but that one's 14 hours. But it also features Kaldar...who I loved in this book. Maybe I will just sit down and read that one and save the shorter books for my audio enjoyment. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A Heart for Robbie by JP Barnaby

Title: A Heart for Robbie 
Author: JP Barnaby
My Rating: B

Genre: Contemporary Romance 
Series: -
Main Characters: Julian and Simon
Release Date: July 2014
Publisher: Dreamspinner
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: mild

Story Overview:
Waiting for someone else's child to die so yours can live is the worst kind of Hell

Celebrated Young Adult author Julian Holmes pits the heroic characters in his Black Heart series against all different kinds of monsters. But when a critical heart defect threatens his son’s life, he finds he has no champion. No amount of books, classes, or practice can prepare Julian for the fight to save his beautiful son’s life. 

Suddenly there are hospitals, transplant lists, and the nightmare of insurance red tape to navigate. In the midst of his trouble, Julian meets Simon Phelps, the insurance coordinator for Robbie’s case. Simon lives so deep in the closet he might never find his way out, but he dreams of exactly what Julian has. Then one night, drunken need and desperation brings them together, and a new fight begins.
My Review:
Something that you need to know going into reading this book... Yes, there is a romantic story line, but Robbie with his need for a heart and his father, Julian, are really the soul of this story.

Julian is a single, out and proud, gay man. He's also a best-selling YA author. His best friend, Erin, who is married with 4 kids of her own acted as a surrogate for him and Robbie was born. But when he was born, something was wrong with his heart. Without a transplant he won't live to see his first birthday. 

Simon is deeply in the closet. No one in his life knows that he's gay. He has an overbearing mother who tries at every turn to marry him off. He works as the insurance liaison at the hospital for a bigoted jerk who's never hidden the way he feels about homosexuals. He volunteers at a youth center that just sent a coach away from volunteering because it was revealed that he was gay. Simon is well aware that he would lose everything if he came out and find himself even more alone than he is now. But Julian sees Simon for what he is and Simon finds himself increasingly drawn to the troubled father...a huge no-no since his son is one of the patients at the hospital.

But the focus of the story is Robbie and how terrified Julian is that he has this wonderful new son, only to lose him to heart failure. Watching a child die is every parents nightmare and the book follows Julian through the up's and down's and medical emergencies that would haunt most parents for the rest of their lives. It's after one of those adrenaline, terrifying incidences that Julian and Simon find each other. 

It's a bittersweet story about the fragility of the bonds that tie us into our relationships. Without Robbie's medical problems, Julian and Simon would never have met and probably spent the rest of their lives unhappy and alone and unfulfilled. And both these men love Robbie desperately.

There was one part of the story that I absolutely LOVED. Julian is an author and his characters are so real, they are entities that travel with him through life, offering him advice and support. I love the way that he communicates continuously with them throughout the story. Those characters love and mourn with him over Robbie's status too. There were also little nuggets of GLBT fiction culture thrown in throughout the story with these imaginary characters. I'm sure I didn't catch all of them, but the ones I did made me smile.

This is a tough book because of the story, but it's beautiful. I never found it to be too much emotionally and I did enjoy getting to know Julian and Simon and Robbie and Clay and Liam. (I think I got the imaginary character names right, but I didn't check those...)

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

No Strings Attached by Susan Anderson

Title: No Strings Attached
Author: Susan Andersen
My Rating: B

Genre: Contemporary Romance 
Series: -
Main Characters: Tasha and Luc
Release Date: July 2014
Publisher: Harlequin
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
Some mistakes are worth repeating… 

Tasha Riordan's one night with Luc Bradshaw was the best of her life. The following two—when she got thrown into a Bahamian jail on bogus charges—were her worst. Now, seven years later, the undercover DEA agent is back. Invading her town. Her restaurant. Her fantasies. She can't trust a man who lied to her. Yet, neither can she trust herself—not when their chemistry burns even hotter than before. 

Learning he has two half brothers shocks Luc. Discovering they live in the same town as Tasha—that's a different kind of thrill. Their mutual lust is still off the charts, but he can't get her to listen to his side of what happened on that long-ago night. Good thing he's got powers of persuasion that go deeper than words. Because nothing has ever felt this right…

My Review:
This is one of those books that was simply fun to read. It starts out with that morning after in the Bahamas where everything went from fantasy-worthy perfect to every tourists nightmare for Tasha. She never thought she'd see the drug-dealing "Diego" again, so imagine her surprise when she walked into her friends house only be introduced to their brother Luc...the man who was "Diego" and left her to rot in a Bahamian jail. 

Luc was actually an undercover DEA agent and he was assured that Tasha in no way got caught up in that mess. In fact, he's always thought she ran out on him that morning after a night that he thought had been pretty incredible. So there's a whole mystery of what really happened in the Bahamas seven years ago playing in the background of the story throughout the entire book. 

But now these two have to get along because her two best friends are involved with his half-brothers and they are constantly being thrown together. Tasha doesn't trust him to not break her heart. He's going back to an undercover job in the DEA...there's no way for their chemistry to end up as anything more than heartache. 

It's a good set-up and I did really enjoy the book. I liked all the characters and the interactions between everyone. Tasha runs a pizza parlor and there was a sub-story about a couple of teens that was a nice sub-plot too. The book and story kept me entertained and engaged the entire time I read it. 

I'd definitely recommend this one for a light, fun read. 

Looking for Trouble by Victoria Dahl

Title: Looking for Trouble
Author: Victoria Dahl
My Rating: A

Genre: Contemporary Romance 
Series: Jackson: Girls Night Out#1
Main Characters: Alex and Sophie
Release Date: July 2014
Publisher: Harlequin
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
A good reason to be bad...

Librarian Sophie Heyer has walked the straight and narrow her entire life to avoid paying for her mother's mistakes. But in tiny Jackson Hole, Wyoming, juicy gossip just doesn't go away, so the last thing she needs is for history to repeat itself. Falling hard for the sexiest biker who's ever rode into town would undo everything she's worked for. And to add insult to injury, the sexy stranger is none other than Alex Bishop--the son of the man her mother abandoned Sophie's family for. He may be temptation on wheels, but Sophie's not looking for trouble!

Maybe Sophie's buttoned-up facade fools some, but Alex knows a naughty smile when he sees one. Despite their parents' checkered pasts, he's willing to take some risks to find out the truth about the town librarian. He figures a little fling might be just the ticket to get his mind off of family drama. But what he finds underneath Sophie's prim demeanor might change his world in ways he never expected.
My Review:
Okay, there's not much that can go bad with this story...a good girl librarian who's hiding a VERY naughty side paired up with a tattoo'ed sexy biker. Really, see what I mean? That's just a perfect combination. Add in a town scandal that included both their parents and ruined their childhood and you have the makings of an incredibly good contemporary novel that I really did enjoy...even when I cried a bit in the middle. 

Twenty-five years ago a scandal rocked Jackson, Wyoming. Two married people disappeared and they weren't married to each other. Their disappearance basically ruined the lives of six other people...4 confused kids and 2 betrayed spouses. Two of those kids left behind were Alex and Sophie. Alex's dad ran off with Sophie's mom. Last year they all discovered that the two had been dead all those 25 years. They hadn't just abandoned their families. But these two kids handled the stress of than supposed abandonment very differently...well, as differently as their remaining parental units did. 

For Alex, his mother became delusional after the disappearance. In the 25 years since, she's never been able to accept the abandonment and wouldn't let her two sons accept it either, constantly dragging them on one wild goose chase after another. When Alex turned 18, he'd had enough and took off, never to return to see either his mother or his older brother. 

Sophie did the opposite. She stayed home and took care of her father and brother, replacing the mother who disappeared. Despite the town gossip and the ridicule because Sophie grew up to look just like her mother, the town floozie...something Alex's mother never lets her forget. 

25 years later, Alex is back in town. He doesn't recognize Sophie as anything more than a seriously sexy hot librarian with a bit of a wild side that he wants to see more of. He has no idea of their combined history. Sophie knows, but Alex is everything she looks for when she's feeling frisky and she wants him...even if she can only have him for one night.

Because Sophie has lived under the censure of this scandal her entire life, she hides herself. Only one other person in town sees the real Sophie...until Alex. I loved that fact about her...that under her cardigans and pearls, she's hiding a serious wild-child with a bit of kink. I loved how instantly Alex spotted that within her and tapped into it, realizing she's worth more than just a single night...almost immediately. 

With the backdrop of the families scandal and the scars it left on every single one of these characters, this book thoroughly worked for me. I fell in love with Sophie and her strength of character to stand up under the constant criticism. I loved that she's stayed a good person, willing to look out for others, even Alex's mom who's been so awful to her for so long. Sophie is just a good person. I also really loved that she's so turned on by everything Alex is...his motorcycle, his tattoos, his sometimes scary persona...but he's so much deeper and she sees that too. It was simply a good book...and yes, I did shed a few tears, too.

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

Only with You by Lauren Layne

Title: Only With You
Author: Lauren Layne
My Rating: A

Genre: Contemporary Romance 
Series: The Best Mistake #1
Main Characters: Gray and Sophie
Release Date: July 2014
Publisher: Forever
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: spicy

Story Overview:
Love is the Biggest Gamble of All . . . 

Cocktail waitress Sophie Dalton doesn't exactly have a life plan. She's perfectly happy being everyone's favorite party girl. But when a Las Vegas bachelorette party goes awry and an uptight businessman mistakes Sophie for a prostitute . . . well, Sophie wonders if it's time to reevaluate her priorities. Swearing off her thigh-high boots for good, Sophie slinks back home with damaged pride-and a jackpot of a hangover.

Yet what happens in Vegas doesn't always stay there. On a trip to Seattle to open a new office, Grayson Wyatt meets his latest employee-who turns out to be the same woman he recently called a hooker. Wealthy and gorgeous, Gray is a man used to getting what he wants. And it doesn't take long to figure out that smart, sassy, sexy Sophie is everything he's been looking for. As their late nights at the office turn into hot morning-afters, they realize their Vegas misunderstanding may lead to the real thing . . .

My Review:
I have so many authors that are on my auto-buy lists anymore, it's not often that I give a new author a shot unless something about the blurb just really captures my attention. This book/blurb did that for me because I've never read this author before. That's all changed now, because with this one book she stole this reader's heart. I loved this book and the really unlikely match-up between Gray and Sophie.

The book starts with Sophie. She's from Seattle, but is in Vegas for a bachelorette party and putting her party girl outfit on. If you can't dress like a showgirl in Vegas, then where can you do it? But she ends up getting trapped in an elevator with an extremely uptight, cold, staid businessman...who thinks she's a hooker. Sophie's a smart girl...made it through a year and a half of Harvard Law School before she dropped out because it wasn't the right fit for her. The problem...she doesn't know what is the right fit for her. She's 28 and working as a cocktail waitress. Being mistaken for a prostitute is her rock bottom and she's determined to reexamine her life and her choices. 

Sophie is a natural extrovert and bubbly person. Her family are all white collar professionals working at boring jobs. They expect the same for her, but that's just not who she is, so she's gone the extreme other direction. She's faltering through life, but her people skills are incredible and are what both draws and repels Gray about her. 

Gray is the exact polar opposite of Sophie. He doesn't know how to handle other people at all and would be perfectly happy NEVER having to deal with anyone else. A true introvert who's been emotionally wounded so he's even more closed off than his natural inclinations make him. Gray is a very cold character and there may be a few readers who have issues with him because he seems so harsh sometimes, but as a fellow introvert, I LOVED him and could feel so much empathy for his awkwardness. Sophie is his perfect match because she pulls him out of his withdrawn tendencies. At the same time, he also calms her. 

I loved the dynamic between these two. I loved the fact that they truly did NOT like one another for the first half of the book, even when they are attracted to one another and fighting that as much as each other. Sophie pulls emotion out of Gray and I loved that. It made this book so much fun to read. Their chemistry was incredible and even more so when they were fighting and Sophie was pushing his buttons. She gets along with everyone, but something about him makes her want to pick at him. They bring out the best and the worst in each other. I loved the extremes. 

Everything about this story worked for me...with the office dynamic, the underlying situation with Sophie's lacking self-worth, the ongoing prostitute cracks, Gray's emotional vulnerability, the story with Will, Sophie's best friend...and her sister. I can't wait for their story. I really, really liked this one and once again am so thrilled to find a new author love. I plan to catch up on Lauren Layne's backlist soon and am putting her upcoming releases onto my to-be-read list.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review, but as soon as I it is available, I plan to order a print copy of it for my keeper shelf.

Between the Sheets by Molly O'Keefe

Title: Between the Sheets
Author: Molly O'Keefe
My Rating: A

Genre: Contemporary Romance 
Series: Boys of Bishop #3
Main Characters: Ty and Shelby
Release Date: July 2014
Publisher: Bantam
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:

Perfect for readers of Susan Mallery and Rachel Gibson,Between the Sheets is Molly O’Keefe’s final book in the Boys of Bishop trilogy, featuring a sizzling romance between a sexy motorcycle bad boy and the girl next door who can’t resist him. 

After years of running, Wyatt Svenson has now parked himself in Bishop, Arkansas, trying to do the right thing and parent a son he didn’t even know he had until recently. Over six feet tall and packed with muscles and power, Ty likes to get his hands dirty, fixing his motorcycle at night and keeping his mind away from the mistakes he’s made. Then his pretty neighbor shows up on his driveway, doesn’t bother to introduce herself, and complains about the noise. First impression? She should loosen up. Funny that she turns out to be his son’s elementary school art teacher—and the only one willing to help his troubled boy. Ty needs her. In more ways than one.

Though Shelby Monroe is safe in her structured life, she is drawn to Ty’s bad-boy edge and rugged sexuality. What if she just lets it all go: her worries about her mother, her fear of heartbreak, and her tight self control? What if she grabs Ty and takes a ride on the wild side? “What if” becomes reality—intense, exhilarating . . . and addictive. But Ty wants more than a secret affair. He wants it all with Shelby. But will she take a chance and open her heart? Ty is determined to convince Shelby to take the biggest risk of her life: on him.

My Review:
Sigh...poor Shelby. We met her in the first book in this series where she was humiliated on national TV over her sex life. Life hasn't gotten any better for her since. Now she's trying to care for her mother who is sinking further and further into Alzheimer's and when she's in an 'episode', she channels Shelby's abusive father. This is the ultimate irony since her mother was the one who spent so many years trying to protect Shelby from his religious fanatical wrath. 

Shelby has always had to hide her true nature, because she is really very passionate, but that doesn't fit in with her staid, school-teacher persona. The one person who gets to see that side of her is her new neighbor, Ty. But he also sees too much of everything else too and sees that she's barely hanging on by a thread. 

Ty is dealing with his own issues with his new son, Casey, who's having a REALLY difficult time being normal and not acting out. They are both new in town, but don't have that support system of friends to make the transition easier, especially at first when everything seems to be going wrong. 

So much about this story was excellent. Ty and Shelby are both caregivers struggling to figure out their responsibilities. For Ty, he's a new father to a 11 yo boy who is facing a mountain of his own struggles after the way his irresponsible mother raised him. This is a book full of characters who are so lost and hurting so much. Everything about the book was good, but the story line that I loved the most involved the scenes between Ty and his son, Casey. This just goes to show how amazing that story line was because when I read a romance novel, my focus is the romance, but I loved that kid. I loved getting to read the book in his point of view and just how confused, and hurt, and scared he is. I wanted to wrap him up in a blanket and keep him safe from the world. And it was heartbreaking to watch him from Ty's perspective, because Ty could see that too, but Casey refused to let him in. Heart.Breaking.

Then this is not something that I usually talk about in contemporary novel reviews, but the sex in this one. Wow! This book is HOT!! I want an art barn just because the visuals of these sex scenes in that setting were so erotic and so visually gorgeous and romantic. Even when the characters were sizzlingly erotic. I'm serious...the sexual exploits in this book are incredibly hot and well-written. 

The book comes full circle in that the final climactic scene takes place between Casey and Evie, Shelby's mom. I thought that was an interesting twist and really did love it all...even the way it ended for these two characters. The scene was shocking and harsh, but so reflective of so much of the emotions that went on throughout the entire book. I highly recommend this one!

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

Top Off Tuesday: Crashing the Net by Samantha Wayland

I just read this book and my review will be on here next week. 

But it's just as good as the cover. 
I gave it a B+ overall rating.
Seriously, two hot alpha hockey players...
You really can't go wrong with this one!
And it's only $.99!!!

Crashing the Net by Samantha Wayland

Story Overview:
Mike comes to Moncton wanting nothing more than to play for the Ice Cats and finally live on his own terms. He’s broke, bruised, and covered from head to toe in cheap lube, but he isn’t going to let that stop him. All he needs is a place to live and some time to figure out how to reconcile who he really is with who everyone wants him to be.

Dumping three gallons of lube on the new kid is just another day at the office for Alexei. He knows exactly who he is: a goalie on the ice, a prankster in the locker room, and a man who knows better than to share his private life with anyone. He’s let people in before and it’s taught him that if he can’t have what he really wants, it’s better to be alone.

Despite their apparent differences, an unlikely friendship grows. Neither of them could ever have guessed how much they really have in common.


It's so fun to see so many people get excited about this meme.
(But honestly, we're looking at gorgeous men and talking about can that be a bad thing?)
If you want to play along, we have a plethora of Top Off Tuesday buttons for you to choose from:
created by Deb at HEA Romances with Kick

created by Missie at The Unread Reader


created by Diana at Book of Secrets

Pick one...or all and post it to your blog post.

Then find you a gorgeous cover featuring a gorgeous male specimen and head on over to The Geeky Book Blogger and post your link. We can't wait to see what good books you've found!
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