Saturday, October 31, 2015

Hope Springs on Main Street by Olivia Miles

Title: Hope Springs on Main Street
Author: Ollvia Miles
My Rating: A-

Genre: Contemporary Romance 
Series: Briar Creek #3
Main Characters: Jane and Henry
Release Date: October 2015
Publisher: Forever
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: mild



Story Overview:
Sometimes love is where you least expect it... 

What do you do when your cheating husband proposes to the "other woman"? For Jane Madison, it means you keep calm, carry on, and sneak candy bars and wine for dinner. Jane's grateful for her adorable little girl, yet she yearns for the love that was missing from her marriage. Only one man ever really "got" Jane—and she's stunned when he returns to Briar Creek. But a single mom can't date her ex's best friend... can she?


Jane's still kind, beautiful—and far too good for the buddy Henry Birch tried to stop her from marrying years ago. Laying eyes on her now is like a much-needed ray of sunshine. Back in town to sell his family's old house, Henry wants to close a bad chapter in his life and move on. But time with Jane and her sweet daughter has him flirting with the idea of happily ever after—if he can convince her to take a second chance on love...
My Review:
Aw, this was a good story. Jane's life is kind of in shambles. In the last year, she's gotten divorced from her cheating ex. While he's moved on with his mistress, Jane is struggling not to live in pjs whenever at home with her 5 yo daughter. Her one joy is her dance classes, but registration is down which means her very meager income is down. But it's the holidays and she's trying to maintain a happy face while helping one of her sisters navigate planning her wedding. Her father also died this year, so there's some emotional turmoil on that front for the whole family. 

Henry doesn't understand close families or why he's back in this small town that was the site of every emotional black point in his life. But his twin sister is in ill health and he has to help her. He's just trying not to sink into the black hole that is this gossiping, nosy small town. They never managed to help him or his sister growing up with their irrational, drunk mother. He doesn't want them in his business now. He HATES that he has to be back here now. The one bright point to this visit is getting to see Jane, his teenage crush.

I do like this series. Regardless of Henry's black feelings for this small town, I love this little town. I also loved that he ended up writing a travel article about the town which enabled him to see it with more objective eyes, too. There is a lot of emotional upheaval in this book. My heart hurt for what Jane is going through with her jerk of an ex...I HATE how much he continues to hurt her. But my heart also broke for Henry and Ivy and the things they went through growing up. Those reminiscent scenes were so painful and Henry's very real physical reaction to thinking of them even after so many years shows just how truly awful they were. The author did an incredible job with his mental anguish. 

I love all the businesses the author has established through this series. I can see them all so clearly in my mind and want to visit them...along with the festivals and the orchard. Really, Olivia Miles is an excellent author and this book was a great addition to the series. I love this little town of Briar Creek. I'd move there in a heartbeat if I could and the thought of even visiting throughout the holidays sounds like heaven. Luckily, I have the book which is *almost* as good as a real visit (you know, if it was a real town, not a fictional one.)

I definitely recommend this book. 

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

Friday, October 30, 2015

Friction by Sawyer Bennett

Title: Friction
Author: Sawyer Bennett
My Rating: A

Genre: Contemporary Romance 
Series: Legal Affairs #8
Main Characters: Reeve and Leary
Release Date: October 2015
Publisher: Montlake
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
At the powerhouse law firm of Knight & Payne, winning comes first and ethics a distant second. Leary Michaels uses her female charms to daze opponents, and it’s always worked well—until now. On her most personal case yet, she finds herself going up against a defense attorney just as skilled, shameless, and seductive as she is.

Reeve Holloway has never met a woman as sure of her own sexuality, or as ruthless in wielding it, as Leary is. But he won’t be toyed with. What Leary starts, he’ll finish—in the courtroom, the bedroom, or any-damn-place he wants. The sex is uninhibited, electrifying, and absolutely against the rules. Reeve’s job is to ruin Leary’s case…even if it destroys her in the process and costs him the woman he’s come to love

My Review:
Confession...when I went to set up this review on my blog, I was shocked to see that this book is #8 in a series. But upon further investigation, I think that's kind of misleading. Besides the legal setting, I don't see any connection between this book and the other 7 books in the series. You most certainly will not miss anything if you haven't read the other books. I haven't read them and LOVED every single minute of reading this book. 

This book had the most epic and unexpected prologue ever. It's a scene from the day that Leary starts at a law firm right after graduating law school. The owner and reclusive, legendary owner of the law firm meets with Leary....something that simply isn't done and what she tells Leary changes everything about Leary's life. Then the book begins and the reader gets to see how Leary had taken this advice. Whoa. I loved this. Talk about empowering a woman to embrace who she is. 

This book is fabulous just in that Leary is such an amazingly strong character. She's awesome...but she definitely meets her match with Reeve. I loved the two of them together. She's such a strong character, but he didn't let that intimidate him at all which just fascinated her. Most guys don't know how to handle her and the fact that he does turns her on and leads to some great explosively sexy scenes. 

This book was so intelligent. I enjoyed reading it so much. It was one of those books where I read with a smile on my face almost the entire time...until that gut-wrenching black moment which Sawyer Bennett wrote brilliantly. 

But not only was it an enjoyable read, it was so hot and sexy, and it had a great sub-plot in the case that these two lawyers are working on opposite sides of. Then there was Ford in the background. Wow, I love him and really hope Sawyer Bennett plans a story for him someday soon. 

Going into this book, I would expect the "trial" scenes to be a bit more dry, but they were just as interesting and entertaining as the romance. It all just really worked and created a great cohesively, amazing book that I loved every minute of reading. And believe me, I read LATE into the night because I couldn't put it down. It was just one of those books. I HIGHLY recommend it!

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

Thursday, October 29, 2015

One Touch More by Mandy Baxter

Title: One Touch More
Author: Mandy Baxter
My Rating: A-

Genre: Contemporary Romance 
Series: U.S. Marshals #3
Main Characters: Damian and Tabitha
Release Date: October 2015
Publisher: Zebra
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: hot



Story Overview:
Strong, relentless, and lethal, he plays every angle to trap the worst criminals. But for the one woman he can't resist, he'll break all the rules…

For hotel manager Tabitha Martin, bad boys usually spell disaster. And her new guest promises just that, with his formidable build, tattooed biceps, and quiet take-no-mess attitude. Tabitha is already putting everything on the line to escape her vicious drug-dealing ex's control for good—but a single sizzling moment in “Damien Evans'” arms has her wanting all the trouble he can give…

He's been undercover too long and likes living dangerously too much. U.S. Marshal Parker Evans figures maybe that's why he doesn't immediately put Tabitha in custody. Sure, she's his one chance to finally take down a major drug ring. But every minute he protects this mostly innocent blonde leaves his heart all too vulnerable. And the cost of desire could be a deadly endgame…
 

My Review:
This book had a different feel than the other books in this series. Damian is deep undercover and has spent years doing that. At this point, he connects with his Damian (criminal) persona much more than his Parker (Marshal) persona. He's honestly been doing it too long and is *kind of* aware of that. But it's not until he meets Tabitha that it really becomes apparent. He needs to get out of this business. 

The problem is...Tabitha is up to her neck in criminal activities and could be on her way to jail soon. BUT she's stuck because her ex is blackmailing her with her brother's life. If she doesn't cooperate and provide Joey with a place to deal (the hotel where she's an assistant mgr) then her brother will be set up to go back to jail for his dealing history. 

Because of the criminal setting of this book, it had a much grittier feel than normal. Both Tabitha and Damian are up to their necks with drug-dealing thugs and illegal activities. It's a balancing act and neither realizes how the other one plays into it all, so neither can be completely upfront about anything besides their criminal activity...which they both know about. 

It was an interesting book, definitely written to Mandy Baxter's former high standard that she's set for this series. Personally, I rated it just slightly lower than the other books simply because I didn't care for the deep criminal aspect of it. Even though this is a Marshal's book, I like a little light with my dark and there wasn't much light in this book. Even though there were incredibly sexy times between Tabitha and Damian (and I mean really sexy...like steam the page up sexy), all those events took place in the middle of high stress where they more often than not got interrupted. But like I said, that was simply a personal preference for what I like to read. 

It was a well-written, smart book. I liked the setup with Tabitha as a hotel manager. It was interesting getting a glimpse into her world. I also thought that Mandy Baxter did an incredible job showing the stress of undercover officers are under on a daily basis and how hard that is to do long-term. 

Overall, it was another great installment to the Marshal's series.

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

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A Winter Wedding by Brenda Novak

Title: A Winter Wedding
Author: Brenda Novak
My Rating: B+

Genre: Contemporary Romance 
Series: Whiskey Creek #9
Main Characters: Kyle and Lourdes
Release Date: October 2015
Publisher: Mira
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: spicy

Story Overview:
One Christmas can change your life...

Kyle Houseman believes he'll never find anyone he could love as much as Olivia Arnold, who's now married to his stepbrother. Not only did he lose her, he's been through one divorce and has no desire to go through another. He's determined to be extra careful about the next woman he gets involved with—which is why he fights his attraction to the beautiful stranger who rents his farmhouse for the Christmas holiday.

Lourdes Bennett is a country music artist. She's only planning to stay in Whiskey Creek long enough to write the songs for her next album—the album that's going to put her back on top. Her dreams don't include settling in a town even smaller than the one she escaped. But as she comes to know Kyle, she begins to wonder if she'd be making a terrible mistake to leave him behind.
 

My Review:
I wasn't sure I would like this book when it first began. At the beginning of the story, Kyle was still convinced that he'd never get over his love for Olivia, who married his half-brother. And Lourdes was engaged, although in a bad place with her relationship. Hmm, they both were in love with other people...how is this going to work? But I love that they developed a friendship first...friends to lovers always works for me. 

Whiskey Creek in the winter. I liked it. I liked the set of circumstances that threw Lourdes and Kyle into living together. I also really liked how comfortable Lourdes is with inserting herself into Kyle's life. She's been really knocked down by the events in her life lately, but I love that being with Kyle you can see the glimmers of that old confident Lourdes that made it to the top of the charts. 

There's a lot going on in this story...as there is in most the Whiskey Creek stories. Kyle is dealing with the spiraling emotional breakdown of his ex, who he's still tied to by family and legal obligations. I almost hated how nice of a guy Kyle was with Noelle. He really went too far letting her walk all over him. I had a hard time with how little he stood up for himself, even when things began to implode...he still was protecting her to an extent when he shouldn't be anymore. 

But there's also the wedding between Riley and Phoenix...my favorite couple in the Whiskey Creek series. They didn't play a huge part in this book, but I loved that we got to see their special moment, because I love them so much. 

It was also interesting to see Lourdes life as she's working to rebuild her music career and how her manager and her involvement or lack of one with him affects her future success. 

And in between all that were the perfect little Christmas vignettes...from the chopping down the Christmas tree and trimming it to the Victorian charity event. It made for such a beautiful, fun setting for the story. 

Overall, this was just another fun installment to the Whiskey Creek series. I recommend any book in the series. They are all good. You can read any of the books alone, but the entire series is phenomenal.

Now the only single person left in their little crew of friends is Baxter...and he has finally come back home. Please, Brenda Novak, I'm begging you...please tell Baxter's story. He's earned his HEA, too, and I want to read about the guy who finally catches his heart and sweeps him off his feet. Please...

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

Cover Reveal: Full Domain by Kindle Alexander

Title: Full Domain
Series: Nice Guys Novel #3
Author: Kindle Alexander
Genre: M/M Romance
Release Date: Coming Soon
Honor, integrity, and loyalty are how Deputy US Marshal Kreed Sinacola lives his life. A former SEAL now employed by the Special Operations Group of the US Marshal Service, Kreed spent most of his life working covert operations and avoiding relationships. Never one to mix business with pleasure, his boundaries blur and his convictions are put to the test when he finally comes face-to-face with the hot computer geek he’s been partnered with. Hell-bent on closing the ongoing case for his longtime friend, he pushes past his own limits and uncovers more than he expects. Aaron Stuart strives for one thing: justice. Young and full of idealism, his highly sought after computer skills land him a position with the National Security Agency. Aaron’s biggest hazard at his job is cramped fingers, but all that changes when he is drawn into the middle of a dangerous federal investigation. Aaron gets more than he bargained for when the FBI partners him with a handsome and tempting deputy US marshal. His attraction to the inked up, dark-haired man provides another kind of threat altogether. Aaron tries desperately to place a firewall around his heart and fight his developing feelings, knowing one misstep on his part could ultimately destroy him. The solution isn’t as easy as solving the case, which is treacherous enough as it is. But the growing sexual attraction between them threatens to derail more than just Kreed’s personal convictions as he quickly learns temptation and matters of the heart rarely fit easily into the rules he’s lived by. Will Kreed be able to convince Aaron to open his heart and face the fact that sometimes the answers aren’t always hidden in code?
Best Selling Author Kindle Alexander is an innovative writer, and a genre-crosser who writes classic fantasy, romance, suspense, and erotica in both the male/male and male/female genres. It's always a surprise to see what's coming next!
I live in the suburbs of Dallas where it's true, the only thing bigger than an over active imagination, may be women's hair!
Usually, I try for funny. Humor is a major part of my life - I love to laugh, and it seems to be the thing I do in most situations - regardless of the situation, but jokes are a tricky deal... I don't want to offend anyone and jokes tend to offend. So instead I'm going to tell you about Kindle.
I tragically lost my sixteen year old daughter to a drunk driver. She had just been at home, it was early in the night and I heard the accident happen. I'll never forget that moment. The sirens were immediate and something inside me just knew. I left my house, drove straight to the accident on nothing more than instinct. I got to be there when my little girl died - weirdly, I consider that a true gift from above. She didn't have to be alone.
That time in my life was terrible. It's everything you think it would be times about a billion. I love that kid. I loved being her mother and I loved watching her grow into this incredibly beautiful person, both inside and out. She was such a gift to me. To have it all ripped away so suddenly broke me.
Her name was Kindle. Honest to goodness - it was her name and she died a few weeks before Amazon released their brand new Kindle ereader. She had no idea it was coming out and she would have finally gotten her name on something! Try finding a ruler with the name Kindle on it.. It never happened.
Through the course of that crippling event I was lucky enough to begin to write with a dear friend in the fan fiction world of Facebook. She got me through those dark days with her unwavering support and friendship. There wasn't a time she wasn't there for me. Sometimes together and sometimes by myself, we built a world where Kindle lives and stands for peace, love and harmony. It's its own kind of support group. I know without question I wouldn't be here today without her.
Find out more by visiting www.kindlealexander.com or email me at kindle@kindlealexander.com

 
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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Secrets and High Spirits by Lou Harper

Title: Secrets and High Spirits
Author: Lou Harper
My Rating: B

Genre: Contemporary Romance (m/m)
Series: Secrets #4
Main Characters: Teag and Bruce
Release Date: October 2015
Publisher: Samhain
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: spicy


Story Overview:
Their love is an explosive cocktail—stirred, shaken, and served with a twist.
Secrets, Book 4
Teag and Bruce dream of opening their own bars, but that’s where the similarities end. 
Teag, a popular bartender at West Hollywood’s hottest club, is willful, opinionated, and likes to take charge. He envisions his future bar as a boozy oasis for craft cocktails. Unfortunately, while he’s big on ideas, he’s short on funds.
Bruce, on the other hand, is a tower of pirate-tattooed muscle with a laid-back attitude. While he’s good with people, he’s a walking paradox—a wannabe boss with a weakness for bossy men.
Their partnership is a natural fit, but every time they meet, sparks fly as they rub each other the wrong way. Or is it the right way? In the heat of the moment, it’s hard to tell.
Between renovation pitfalls, meddling friends, and miles of police tape, Teag and Bruce struggle to keep their venture—and their budding relationship—from going up in flames. And not the good kind. More like the one on the top of a B52 shot.
Warning: Contains a whipcord-lean and whip-smart bartender who knows what he wants—and how hard he wants it—and a go-with-the-flow bar manager who secretly likes to be told how hard to give it.
My Review:
This book started off really strongly. I liked how seemingly opposite Bruce and Teag were even though they are after the same dream. Bruce is a big, tattooed bear whereas Teag is more of a curmudgeonly pretty-boy. But they are so much better suited than they seem. See, they both have this dream of starting a bar of their own. While Teag is a class-A jerk in the beginning, Bruce approaches him about joining efforts. 

Like I said, the book started off really strongly. I loved the two guys together and how they worked even when it felt like they were at crossed-paths. I liked the chemistry they had. 

But about 2/3 of the way through the story lost something. That was the point when the mystery somewhat ramped up. There's been a thread of supernatural/ghost/witch theme that has lightly run throughout this series and this book was no different. While I loved the added lore of the old Blue Parrot bar and the nostalgia it added to the story, the rest...the Boys, Leo, Mme...all seemed to detract from the story. 

But the story at that point seemed to lose it's close connection to the inner workings of Bruce's POV, too. And honestly, I think it was Bruce who kept this story going. When Teag was not the most lovable of characters, I could still like him because Bruce did. I would have loved to have seen more play with their power shifts, too...because there were some definite sexy possibilities there that were then just kind of washed over. 

So somewhat of a mixed review. It wasn't Lou Harper's best book, but I still enjoyed reading it overall.

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

Every Little Kiss by Kim Amos

Title: Every Little Kiss
Author: Kim Amos
My Rating: B

Genre: Contemporary Romance 
Series: White Pine #3
Main Characters: Casey and Abe
Release Date: October 2015
Publisher: Forever
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
TURN ON THE CHARM

Eternal good girl Casey Tanner moved to White Pine for a fresh start. Her mission: to finally have fun. And a fling with a reckless bad boy is the very first item on the to-do list she pretended not to make. After one long, lingering look at a sexy firefighter, Casey has found her man.

...AND TURN UP THE HEAT

Getting women into his bed has never been a problem for Abe Cameron. Letting one into his heart is an entirely different matter. But just one kiss, just one touch, just one smile from beautiful Casey has this lifelong bachelor flirting with the idea of forever. And Casey's refusal to settle down only makes Abe more determined than ever to win her heart. Now the one woman who can't be caught is the only one Abe can't live without...

My Review:
Although I have a couple of Kim Amos books in my TBR pile, this is the first time I've read one of her stories. I'm not so sure this was the best place to start just because Casey is not an easy character to love. 

Casey is very rigid with her control of everything to the detriment of...well, everything. She's not happy and knows that she needs to loosen up. She's even set out with a plan to do that...create a new Casey. But the way she approaches new Casey is very much old Casey. She has a plan...a list...a guideline...and, again a long list of rules about how she can become less rigid. Yeah, you can see how that's going to work out for her. It's not. And that was probably my biggest issue with her. She's not dumb, but the way she approaches fixing her life is. It simply doesn't make sense, and that's why I really had a hard time with loving her. There's no flexibility there.

On the other hand, I love Abe. He has his own set of rules. He's a monogamous womanizer. He can have the same woman in his bed for a set period of time, but once she hits 90 days, she's gone. After he has a brush with his mortality, he realizes that this isn't the way he wants to live the rest of his life. So he sets about changing his approach with Casey.

There were lots of things going for this book...
*I loved the firefighter aspects of it. Those scenes were dynamic and interesting from the camaraderie of the firefighters to them actually fighting fires. I loved all those scenes within the book. 
*Casey works at a tutoring place that caters to children that need help. I loved getting the glimpses inside this business and the young 10 yo (Carter, I think was his name) just broke my heart. That story was so well-done. I fell in love with that kid right along with Casey. I loved how she connected with him. Again some great scenes especially as they were ferreting out his problems...great imagery and writing.
*The small town and the Knots and Bolts girls. There were some interesting scenes here too, but in these I felt like I was missing a lot because I haven't read the previous stories. These women were obviously the heroines of those stories. 
*Dave & Quinn...um, yeah, I'm ready for their story. I liked them a LOT!

I did have one other issue with this book, and this is completely a personal preference. I like a lot of action on the page, but these characters spent a lot of time in their heads or having sex. I felt like there wasn't a whole lot of meat to the actual romance because of that. It did get better with the climax and final scenes, but overall I wanted more actual dialogue among the characters and less talk within their heads...especially Casey's who got to be a bit repetitive. 

So, somewhat of a mixed review. And while this wasn't my favorite book I've ever read, I think a lot of that was simply because I didn't connect with the heroine's character. Just like in real life...you simply don't connect with everyone.
I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Line of Fire by HelenKay Dimon

Title: Line of Fire
Author: HelenKay Dimon
My Rating: A+

Genre: Military Romance 
Series: Greenway Range #2
Main Characters: Molly and Jason
Release Date: October 2015
Publisher: Carina
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
With his military career over and his ego bruised, Jason McAdams is ready to start over. As a founding partner in Greenway Range, his new life is everything he'd ever dared to dream about, but it also puts him in constant contact with the one woman he can't have: his best friend's little sister.

Molly Cain has loved Jason for as long as she can remember, and seeing him now—damaged and self-destructive—is a constant heartache. Watching him numbly work his way through woman after woman is damn near intolerable. Until one summer night changes everything.

After a rocky start, the sex is hot and naughty and all Molly knew it would be. And when he makes another pass at her, Molly doesn't say no. Or the many times after that, either. But Jason carries a secret—one that's kept him away from Molly for all these years, one that could ruin everything. He's been shot at and seen death, but letting the woman he loves find out the truth is the real worst-case scenario…

My Review:
Hands down, this is my favorite book that I've read from HelenKay Dimon. Every single little thing in this book worked for me. 

This book is a HUGE character driven story. Molly and Jason have a long history...of dancing around one another and not doing anything about their mutual attraction. When it began, she was only 17...too young for him at 23 and then life and circumstances kept them apart until there was simply too much between them...much of it really antagonistic. These are two characters who have dealt with their attraction by sniping and fighting one another...to the point where their friends wonder which will happen first...they have sex or kill one another. 

But underneath all that is what made this book so good...hurt and pain for both Molly and Jason. Wow, the emotion in this book was just so, so well done. Jason has tried to bury his attraction to Molly and his hurt from war in countless other women who mean nothing to him. But Molly has had front seat tickets to his parade of women and that isn't something she can just overlook. So when they decide to give into their attraction, it's Molly putting up the walls for her protection. This is sex and only sex...she won't even think about the hope for something else...something that's utterly devastating to Jason. They may be sleeping together, but the divide between them is getting bigger and bigger. 

The main romance is amazing, but it's made even better by the secondary romance of Marcus and Will. Marcus is Jason's older brother and the two brothers are basically in the same situation...they're good for sex, but not a real relationship. See, Will is still active duty and very much in the closet. Will is his little dirty secret. Marcus added so much depth to this story with his discussions with both Jason and Molly. I loved him even when my heart is breaking for him. There's no cliffhangers in this one and their story is *somewhat* resolved in this book, but I'd LOVE to see Marcus and Will get their own story. There's so much conflict for them to still overcome and I'd love to see more of their story. 

This is one of those moments that makes me sad that this is a Carina publication. I'd LOVE to have this book on my keeper print shelf. Maybe they will print it eventually (they do that every once in a while...probably just to give me hope).

I definitely loved this book and it's going right into my re-read shelf. BTW, for those of you that read my review for the first book in this series...I was somewhat dissatisfied with the explanation of why this shooting range was needed and how it would differ from what they already had AND support 3 people. Those questions were answered in this book and I LOVE what the author is creating with these guys and their shooting range. It sounds incredible. I'd go to it in a heartbeat!

I highly recommend this book. It's easily one of the best books I've read this year. 

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