Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Heartbreakers and Heroes Anthology





BOX TITLE:
Heartbreakers and Heroes: Billionaires, Bikers, Sports Stars, Cowboys, Cops and More!

BOX BLURB:
A brotherhood of twelve men bound together by their troubled youth and one mentor who taught them the rules for becoming men of honor. But some of them haven't been following those rules...
Get your hands on TWELVE sexy HEARTBREAKERS AND HEROES- all new romances from USA Today bestsellers and your favorite contemporary authors that are sure to get your heart pounding.
Love doesn't always play by the rules…

PURCHASE LINKS:
B&N: http://bit.ly/22ykEKf

My overall rating:
A-

Note: I have a jam-packed review schedule, and had hoped to read all the novellas within this boxed set before posting the review. Unfortunately, time and life got in the way, so I was only able to read half of them. But those six novellas were all amazing quality with entertaining stories, so I have no doubt the rest of the books I didn't get to are also the same. 

I reviewed each of the novellas that I did read as a separate entity below.


Hiding with the Heartbreaker
by Virginia Nelson
My Rating: B

Characters: Al and Jude

Story Overview:
Rule: Protect the innocent.

Making people laugh for a living is easy, but when a beautiful stranger needs Aloysius Sutton's help, he has to find a way to become Jude's hero.
Born to money and rather blasé about it, Aloysius James McCallister Sutton is the third son of an oil baron. He turned to video games at a young age and eventually became a star (much to his family's dismay) because of his hilarious internet videos. When a pal asks him to help out his girlfriend's little sister, his first response is not only no, but hell no. But they are a brotherhood, and their mentor told him that he must protect the innocent...

When Jude Cramer is the only witness to a bungled burglary resulting in murder, the police point the finger at her as the guilty party. Not sure what to do, she runs to the one person she can trust—her sister. But her pregnant sister isn't much help, instead foisting off her protection on a man who takes absolutely nothing seriously.

Can Jude find love while she’s Hiding with the Heartbreaker?

My Review:
For a novella, this story was surprisingly complete. There was a lot of action and I felt like I got to connect with the characters really well. The story takes place on the road trip so the two characters get to know each other really well, really quickly. I liked how annoyed Al was with Jude at the beginning and how those feelings evolved. It was an easy read. 

My only real issue with the story was the premise of why they were on the road in the first place. I thought Jude's reason for running was incredibly stupid and flimsy. Why would someone take off like that? It was such a small part of the overall story that I think the details could have been rewritten to make it more believable...like the killers thought she saw their faces and now are after her. But that's my take on it.


How to Unbreak a Heart
by Jennie Marts
My Rating: A

Characters: Bre and Trip

Story Overview:

Rule: If you love her, don't let her go.

Every lesson John doled out involved a rule. A rule about manners, or courage, or respect, even love. He’d given them all the rules to becoming men.
And Trip lived his life by those rules. He’d followed them all. Except one.
The one that mattered the most.

Solitary cowboy, Trip Turner finally has a chance to correct the mistakes he made when he let the woman he loved walk out of his life twelve years ago. But now that Bre Wilson is back, will he be able to unbreak her heart?

He tried to keep the images of Bre Wilson from flooding his mind, but they were there—hell, they were always there—under the surface, like the ache in a sore tooth. A reminder of the woman he’d never been able to forget.

Twelve years ago, Trip had walked out of her life and broken Bre Wilson’s heart—but not just broken it—shattered, crushed, and ruined it for any other man. And now here he was, back in her life and acting like he wanted another chance. Every part of her ached to be with him—to touch and feel him against her. But could she survive if he walked out on her again?


My Review:
I adore second chance at love stories and this was a good one. Trip left one night when he and Bre were 18. He left without a word or a goodbye. It broke both his heart and Bre's, but he didn't have a choice in the matter. He hasn't seen her since that night until the start of this novella. 

Now she's a vet and it just so happens that both of them are staying temporarily at John's ranch. Yeah, you know that sparks are going to fly. Holy hot shower. I honestly think that was the hottest shower scene I think I've ever read. So, yeah, I liked this one. The vet side of the story provided the perfect backdrop for these two to reconnect and shows just how much they're still in synch, although they haven't seen one another in over a decade. 

I liked it.




Her Heartbreaker Boss
by Carmen Falcone
My Rating: B+

Characters: Stefano and Roxie

Story Overview:
Rule: Never leave your woman unsatisfied.

Log line: Can Stefano and Roxie resist the heat flaring between them or will working together force them to face their rocky past and give them the happily ever after they deserve?

They say your last love is more important than your first. What if your first and last one are the same? In this case, Stefano fled the scene after he had sex with Roxie for their first time ever. Don’t hate him yet, he had his reasons, and you may want to check out the story to find out! But, moving on…

Stefano always believed he should never leave a woman unsatisfied—in bed. Hehe. That’s the rule his mentor taught him. However, when he’s reunited with Roxie after so long, he discovers there are many ways to satisfy a woman besides the physical side. And he wants to show Roxie every single one of them.

My Review:
This is another second chance at love story, but like I said before, I really like these. To make it even better when Roxie and Stefano hooked up as teens it was a friends to lovers scenario. They were best friends and each other's firsts...but then life fell apart in the aftermath and they never saw one another again. So it was a complete shock to find out that Stefano was the man behind the takeover of the tour company where Roxie worked. 

This was an interesting story that really could have benefited from being a longer piece. Roxie is a single mom and it sounded like there was quite a story with her dead ex that the length of the novella didn't allow to fully evolve. The story takes place in Miami and Montana...two very different places and that transition felt a bit jolting just because they are so different. But overall, it was a good read. I really liked Carmen Falcone's writing style. This is the first I've read from her. It flowed really smoothly and I really enjoyed all the characters. She blends tiny details into the story effortlessly that overall made this feel like a more complex piece than it really was. The tour company setting was interesting, especially as Stefano and Roxie hashed out their differences in how it should evolve. I liked it.



Her Unwanted Hero
by Veronica Forand
My Rating: A-

Characters: Stefano and Roxie

Story Overview:
Rule: A real man always helps someone in need... he may be the only one who does. 

Griffin Alexander, a police officer with a difficult past, falls for Trinity Estrada. Trinity is caught in cycle of abuse with her father. When Griffin steps into help pull her out of a bad situation, Trinity asks him to back off. She is scared for her mother if she leaves home.

Griffin fought to save his own mother from an abusive parent years ago and was arrested for assault because of it. He decides to respect Trinity’s wishes and steps away from their relationship and from her family situation.

When visiting his mentor back in the ranch that helped him grow from a sullen teen to strong man, he is reminded that “A real man always helps someone in need... he may be the only one who does.” When he returns home, he is willing to give up his relationship to Trinity to help her and her mother leave the horrible situation created by her father. But he might be too late.


My Review:
This story didn't feel like a normal romance, and I think that's because of Trinity's situation. Normally, romantic stories that deal with abuse have that aspect of the story line happen in the past or have the heroine actively trying to get out of the situation. That isn't the case in this book. Trinity's father is abusive, but her situation is extremely complex and she can't just leave or have him arrested. Her father is the stability in her mother's life...a mother suffering from Alzheimers and they don't have the money to put her in a home. Trinity has to stay and take it for the sake of her mother's emotional health. She can handle it...at least that's what she thinks.

Griffin knows what it's like to grow up in a home of abuse and can't believe he's never seen the signs in all the years he's known and been drawn to Trinity. The hard thing...he wants her out, but she refuses to go. Forcing the issue could mean losing her, but leaving her there could mean her death. It's a no-win situation.

I felt for both characters. I find it hard to get into short stories, but this one sucked me in immediately. There is a lot of action and a strong sense of suspense and danger, because Trinity is balanced on an edge that you can see is going to falter soon. It made for a really great read and I really liked it. I need to read more from this author.

How To Be a Heartbreaker
by Codi Gary
My Rating: A

Characters: Bash and Ashlynn

Overview:
Rule:  A real man never kisses and tells…

In my novella, How to be a Heartbreaker, my hero didn’t actually break his rule, never kiss and tell. However, the heroine didn’t know that, since the next day pictures of them in a “compromising position” showed up plastered all over town. So when he leaves without a word, she is left stewing with hate and betrayal for twelve years…until he walks back into town and can’t figure out why she keeps spitting venom his way. When he discovers what happened, he sets out to convince her that he’s not the kind of guy who would betray her trust. But even after she believes him, she isn’t sure she can trust him with her heart.

My Review:
I really liked this story. They had a single night together in high school, and then the next day, Bash walked away and never looked back until he became a movie star. For Ashlynn, that night was devastating. Someone took photos of the two of them together and posted them for everyone to see. She always blamed and hated Bash for it...and for taking her virginity and then walking away. In her eyes, Bash is one of the biggest jerks around. 

But now he's back in town for their mutual friend's wedding. He doesn't understand her hostility, but he thinks she's even sexier than she was in high school...when he really was innocent of all the things she blames him for. 

This is a second chance at love story. For a novella, there was a LOT of action and story to it. I enjoyed every minute of reading it. It wasn't until I was writing the review that I realized the mystery of who took the photos was never solved. Regardless, I loved this little story. It was extremely satisfying and entertaining and I loved the final scene.

Hero in Disguise
by Sharla Lovelace
My Rating: A+

Characters: Jake and Harper

Overview:

Rule: A real man doesn’t buy respect. He earns it.

Billionaire heir, Jake Jericho has it all—money, possessions, women. He wants for nothing. Except something real. Twice in his life, he’s found that. As a delinquent teenager when he was sent to work on a ranch . . . then afterward in the arms of Harper Haley, the only girl he ever loved. One helped shape him. The other he had to deceive—and leave behind.


Jake’s mentor taught him a valuable life lesson when he was young and full of himself back on that ranch. That all that money he was used to swimming in means nothing. That if he wanted respect, it had to be earned, not bought. It was a rule that faded over the years, as real life—well, the Jericho version of real life, anyway—took over. Now, twelve years after they loved and lost each other, Jake and Harper are thrown back together. Can Jake stop his father’s company from ruining the woman he still loves and earn her respect and even his own? Or will deception destroy them both?


My Review:
Aww, I loved this story so much. This is another second chance at love story (it was like this boxed set was made for my love of this trope). Jake grew up in a privileged lifestyle. The only exception to that is the year he spent in MT at a ranch (that's the tie for all the stories in this anthology...all the boys spent time at this ranch learning important life lessons.) When he got back to NYC, he tried to keep hold of those lessons and spent time volunteering in a soup kitchen in Brooklyn. That's where he met Harper. She terrified him, so he ran. 

Now this book takes place 12 years later and Jake can't face heading to Montana where his mentor is possibly dying so he heads to Brooklyn instead...and finds Harper again. 

This is a great story about holding onto what's important and how easy it is to let life get too easy. Jake has a good life, but it's not a fulfilled life. Harper is the same way. They are missing each other...they just don't realize it. In the background is the story of Jake and his dad...which I adored. The final showdown between them was epic and not at all like I expected it to turn out. I also liked the images of the history of this area (even if it was all from the author's fantasy). It was just a great, great story and I teared up at the end which is always a good sign!


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

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