Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Jilted by Rachael Johns

This book needs an introduction because I have a long history with this one. I first reviewed JILTED by Rachael Johns on June 2, 2012. When she asked me to review it, she didn't realize I wasn't in Australia and when I read it, I didn't realize it wasn't going to be available in the US. I was devastated because although the book takes place in Australia, everything about the story resonated with me and my life in West Texas. I adored the book!!

I immediately began hounding Rachael about how to get it in the US and she didn't know what to tell me. BUT it was published by the Australian Harlequin branch so it just made sense that they could publish it here too. I spent a little bit of time and wrote a few letters to the HQN US editors telling them that they needed to look at this book for publication here.

It's finally here. I have no idea how much I truly influenced that, although Rachael gives me a bit of credit. But honestly, this book is being published in the US because it's just that good!! I hope you all will give it a chance and fall in love with it as much as I did. 

In 2012, I read 456 books. This one was in my TOP 10 for the year. 

Title: Jilted
Author: Rachael Johns
My Rating: A++

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: -
Main Characters: Ellie and Flynn
Release Date: September 2014
Publisher: Harlequin
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: mild

Story Overview:
She left him at the altar, but her heart was always his...

After more than ten years away, Australian soap star Ellie Hughes returns to the small country town of Hope Junction, determined to remain anonymous while caring for her injured godmother, Matilda.

But word spreads fast in the tight-knit community. It isn’t long before the people of Hope’s are gossiping about the real reason for Ellie’s visit and why she broke the heart of golden boy Flynn Quartermaine all those years ago. 

Soon Ellie and Flynn are thrown back together again, forced to deal with the unresolved emotions between them. For Ellie is not the only one with secrets. Flynn has his own demons to battle, and Matilda is hiding something from her much-loved goddaughter. 

When all is uncovered, can the ill-fated lovers overcome the wounds of their past? Or is Flynn destined to be jilted again? 

My Review:
(reposted review from June 2, 2012)
This begins my official campaign to get this book printed in the US and worldwide. I enjoyed one of Rachael Johns books earlier in the year, so she contacted me to see if I would like to read and review Jilted. I love contemporary romance and this had a fun premise so I jumped on it. I expected cute and fun. I did not expect deeply emotional, beautiful, and so well-written that I could feel my pulse rate raise and lower as the story had its highs and lows. This book has everything.

Ten years ago, Flynn and Ellie were on the precipice of their Happily Ever After when her world came crumbling down. She left him at the altar and neither one of them has ever recovered. Neither one of them has ever had to see each other again since then either. But now, Ellie's godmother (and truly mother in every sense of the word) has gotten hurt, so Ellie has come home to help her during her recovery. It's painful, it's heart-wrenching, and OMG, it was the best love story ever.

Flynn grew up in this small town. He's their golden boy, so when Ellie left him at the altar, she messed with the town too and they aren't so willing to forgive. Coming home for Ellie is hard in so many ways, but she grits through it and is so strong when she just wants to sit down and cry. I adored her character. She knows that she completely messed things up and is willing to accept the ostracism because of that. But even more amazing, the first person to forgive her in the town is Flynn. 

There were so many highs and lows through this book as  Ellie and Flynn work through their emotions. The heart-wrenching part of it all is that they both truly love each other and there was never a moment when that changed for either one of them over the last ten years.

For his part, Flynn was devastated ten years ago. It honestly took him two years before he even began to get over the hurt of Ellie leaving him. He absolutely does NOT trust her with his heart again. The issue for him though is that he can't find it in his heart to love anyone else and he really wants a family.  They're both stuck, although neither of them realizes it until they see each other again.

This is a fantastic book about small-town life. Even though it took place in Australia, there was never a moment that I couldn't relate to it. It's definitely quintessential small-town life. I live in ranch country in Texas and so much of the life/events in this book absolutely resonated as true in any small ranching community/town. It truly is a beautiful book with such incredible themes....love, forgiveness, family, happiness. I loved it and hope that all my friends get a chance to fall in love with it too. We NEED this published in the US and I NEED a print copy of it on my bookshelf because I plan to read this one over and over and over again.

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

Ring In the Holidays by Katie Lane

Title: Ring in the Holidays
Author: Katie Lane
My Rating: A

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Hunk for the Holidays #2
Main Characters: Ellie and Matthew
Release Date: September 2014
Publisher: Forever
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:

Psychologist Ellie Simpson is about to get a healthy dose of sex therapy. Leaving her cheating boyfriend behind, she has everything she needs for a quick rebound: Vegas, plenty of champagne, and a proposition from the sexiest man she's ever seen. As her handsome stranger helps her ring in the New Year-over and over again-Ellie finds herself blissfully losing all of her inhibitions.

Attorney Matthew McPherson is good at making women lose things, like their minds and underwear. With his athletic build and soulful eyes, he doesn't need to use his powers of persuasion or famous last name to get a woman into bed. But when morning comes, Matthew finds Ellie is the only woman he can't bear to leave-ever. It's enough to make him wonder if what happens in Vegas really has to stay there.

My Review:
This book was so much more than what I expected. It takes place over the course of a year, but starts with New Year's Eve and a one-night Las Vegas hook-up. A hook up that didn't include names so the two had no way to get hold of each other again although they both did try. But in the interim of that year, Ellie, who's a sex therapist, released a self-help book that's become a huge best-seller...all about how sometimes relationships need abstinence to focus on the emotions rather than the sex for success. That message has gotten a bit lost to most the readers so most men now hate Ellie and most women are working on that abstinence thing. 

It was a fun premise. When Ellie and Matthew hooked up he was a serious player. He's good looking and charming and most women are more than willing to hook-up with him. He's gotten a bit sick of the monotony of it, but his friends are giving him a hard time about how easy he has it with him, so meeting Ellie is based on a bet with his buddies. Ellie has just had her heart broken by her fiance. At 30, she's a virgin and thought he was too. They were saving that for their marriage and then came to find out that he'd been sleeping around. 

So not cool and so Ellie is in Vegas.... a bit drunk, looking for revenge, and then overwhelmed by the extremely sexy and masculine Matthew. The night is amazing, but Ellie doesn't stick around for the morning after and Matthew has no way to trace her until his mother has her book. 

The entire set-up of this book was fun. Ellie is a virginal sex therapist. Matthew is a man-whore who's changed his ways since their one hot night together. There's a meddling great aunt who sees herself as a matchmaker and Matthew's wonderful, interfering, loving family who both love him and drive him crazy. The whole family is in the book throughout the story with their secret santa games and a lot of sub-plots that kept the book fun and interesting. There's also Ellie's best friend who has extremely different and jaded views on love and sex than Ellie does. There is tons of marriage drama and family drama, but at the heart of the story is the fact that every relationship, no matter how good, takes TONS of work from both parties to make it happy in the end. There were also visits to a woman's shelter that's a good reminder, especially through the holidays, that there are so many out there who struggle.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book and although I received a copy for review, plan to buy a print copy for my keeper shelf. This is the kind of holiday story that I like to re-read every year! I definitely recommend it...just a small warning...go into it knowing that although Ellie is supposed to be a sex therapist, she does have small moments of high naivety which were a little unbelievable. My single (tiny) complaint about the book that was easily overlooked with the strengths of the rest of the story.

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

Sweeter Than Sin by Shiloh Walker

Title: Sweeter than Sin
Author: Shiloh Walker
My Rating: A-

Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Secrets & Shadows #2
Main Characters: Lana and Adam
Release Date: September 2014
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: hot 


It took years for Adam to stop drowning his regrets in alcohol, and running the local bar doesn’t make it any easier—especially not when everyone he knows gathers there to discuss the shocking allegations that have shattered his hometown. When another murder rocks sleepy Madison to its core, it becomes chillingly clear that even more vicious wounds are waiting to be exposed.


Nothing is sacred anymore, and no one is safe, least of all the mystery woman who shows up in town out of the blue, looking like every fantasy Adam’s ever had. She may have her own dangerous secrets, but she can’t ignore the urgent heat between them any more than he can. As a killer’s quest for vengeance explodes into violence, Adam is tempted to lose himself in the delicious promise of her body—until he realizes he’ll risk anything if she’ll give him her heart…in Sweeter than Sin by Shiloh Walker.

My Review:
Wow...this series gets more and more twisted and suspenseful with every installment. The suspense line is through the roof, it's so good and I can't tell you how many times I set down this book to marvel at the twists and turns. The suspense line for the series flows through all the books and gets deeper and more twisted with each story. But each book follows a separate couple. In this book were Lana and Adam. 

Lana and Adam had a pseudo relationship 20 years ago. While they were never romantically involved that didn't mean that Adam didn't want her. He did in the worst possible way and he blames himself when she disappeared without a trace 20 years ago. He's spent those 20 years trying to bury the gaping wound she left, but he's never gotten over her. 

The reasons Lana left fall into the suspense story line and are deeply confusing...especially for her because she doesn't remember the details of that night well. She just knows that somehow it's all tied to what's happening now and she has to fix it. She gave up 20 years of her life thinking that she had fixed it all then. To have that not be the case is crushing her. 

What happened then. What's happening now. It all boils down to a group of men in this small town who have done atrocious things and created a vicious circle of abuse and torture. No one knows who all is involved and with every new revelation, the horror for this small town becomes deeper and deeper. 

This is NOT a light-hearted read. The events are horrific and the unknown...David...breaks my heart with pain for him. Lana was trying to save him. She had the innate ability to see his pain when no one else could see that something was happening to him. She saw it and worked to fix it at a VERY high cost to herself. Caught up in Lana's disappearance were both Noah, her boyfriend at the time, and Alex, the guy she called for help that night. Neither one ever forgot her or gave up hope that someday they'd find out what happened to her. The book is so good as Lana's appearance in town slowly becomes known. 

Then there's the romance between Lana and Adam. Both have deep mental and physical scars from trying to recover from what happened 20 years ago, but I love how instantly and deeply they connect immediately. They were hurt because part of their soul was gone and it's truly a testament to soulmates at seeing how much more at peace they are together. 

The overall suspense story line isn't quite over yet. This book was stunning...over and over again with the revelations. I can't wait to see how it all plays out in Book #3. 

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

Top Off Tuesday: Whipped by Sabrina York

He's a military guy.
He's a Dom.
He's falling for his best friend's sister. 
I think I need this one!
Whipped by Sabrina York

Story Overview:
A scalding attraction. An irresistible passion. A pity she’s the one woman he can never have…

Dane Coulter is mourning the loss of his best friend, fellow Special Ops buddy, Cody. Oh, Cody didn’t die. It’s worse. He’s getting married. Cody is, in Dane’s opinion, whipped.

Dane swears he will never suffer the same fate. But when he meets a woman who can take all his dominant loving and beg for more, he realizes he may have met his match. It’s a damn shame she’s the one woman in the world his man-code deems untouchable…his best friend’s sister.

this is part of the Brought to His Knees anthology 
(only $.99 until Oct 19 for 11 stories)
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 books...how 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!

Hosted by Geeky Book Blogger's Book BlogOn a Book Bender, & Smitten with Reading (me!)

Monday, September 29, 2014

In Your Dreams by Kristan Higgins

Title: In Your Dreams
Author: Kristan Higgins
My Rating: A

Genre: Contemporary Romance 
Series: Blue Heron #4
Main Characters: Emmaline and Jack
Release Date: September 2014
Publisher: Harlequin
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: spicy

Story Overview:
Emmaline Neal needs a date. Just a date—someone to help her get through her ex-fiancĂ©'s wedding without losing her mind. But pickings are slim in Manningsport, New York, population 715. In fact, there's really only one option: local heartthrob Jack Holland. Everyone loves Jack, and he won't get the wrong idea…. After all, Jack Holland would never actually be interested in a woman like Em. Especially not with his beautiful ex-wife creeping around, angling to reunite ever since he rescued a group of teens and became a local hero. 

But when the wedding festivities take an unexpectedly passionate turn, Em figures it was just one crazy night. Jack is too gorgeous, too popular, to ever end up with her. So why is she the one he can talk to about his deep, dark feelings? If Em is going to get her dream man, she'll have to start by believing in him…

My Review:
Tonight I sat at dinner and told my husband the whole backstory with this book. That's a sure sign that it's a good book, because honestly, he doesn't care, but I had to share it with him anyway. 

This is a book interspersed with flashbacks for both Jack and Emmaline. They both have pretty complex backstories and I don't think either of them would have the impact without those flashbacks. 

In Manningsport, Jack has always been the golden child. He's great looking, hard working, and honestly one of the nicest guys around. As one of the few single good-looking men in town, he's served as pretty much everyone's date at some point in time. He's ALWAYS willing to help a damsel in distress. He's also former Navy and paramedic/firefighter who had to save 4 teenagers out of a submerged car recently. While the town heralds him as a hero, he can't forget the one he didn't quite get to as fast as he needed to. He's haunted and is suffering from some wicked PTSD...something that he doesn't share with anyone. The fact that his cheating ex-wife is back in town isn't helping his stress levels either. But this is Jack's downfall...he's a NICE guy and won't just tell her to get lost. He sees the good in everyone...even her. 

Emmaline doesn't need anyone...certainly not a knight in shining armor to come save her. She's 5'10", completely self-sufficient, and a hard-nosed cop. Three years ago, in a bizarre twist of circumstances that made me want to cry for her, her fiance broke it off. Not only did she lose her fiance, but she lost her best friend since 8th grade. She doesn't know how to recover from that. She gave him everything and it wasn't enough. Obviously, it's meant to just be her and her dog for the rest of her life. But when she's invited to the wedding of her ex-fiance, the town asks Jack to take her...that's what he does. He provides the eye-candy and does it well, but the two connect on their weekend away. 

Jack wants more. Emmaline just wonders why and knows that she's not up for that kind of heartbreak again. 

It's a sweet story and it's one of those that I love just because Emmaline is not your normal heroine, but she gets the great looking, perfect guy wanting her anyway. I love books with this theme which is why I've always loved Kristan Higgins stories. And as with all Kristan Higgins, there were lots of laughs and giggles and smiles throughout the story, too. I know that I always feel better for having read one of her stories. I definitely recommend this one. 

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