Saturday, December 30, 2017

The Learning Hours: How to Date a Douchebag #3 by Sara Ney (audiobook)

Title:  The Learning Hours
Author: Sara Ney
My Rating: A
Narrator: Josh Goodman and Muffy Newtown

Genre: New Adult Romance
Series: How to Date a Douchebag #3
Main Characters: Rhett and Laurel
Release Date: September 2017 (audiobook)
Publisher: Audible
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
He's not a douchebag; but that doesn't stop his friends from turning him into one.


So much so that they plastered my ugly mug all over campus, in bold printed letters:

Are you the lucky lady who's going to break our roommate's cherry?
Him: socially awkward man with average-sized penis looking for willing sexual partner. You: must have a pulse. He will reciprakate with oral. Text him at: 555-254-5551

The morons can't even spell. And the texts I've been receiving are what wet dreams are made of. But I'm not like these douchebags, no matter how hard they try to turn me into one.


One text stands out from hundreds. One number I can't bring myself to block. She seems different. Hotter, even in black and white.

However, after seeing her in person, I know she's not the girl for me. But my friends won't let up--they just don't get it. Douchebags or not, there's one thing they'll never understand: GIRLS DON'T WANT ME. 

Especially her. 
My Review:
Overall: 4.5
Performance: 4.5
Story: 4.75

I loved this installment of the douchebag series. I especially love that the hero isn't a douchebag, although there were a few moments when the heroine was. But I think what really made this story for me was just how unlikely a couple these two are. 

Rhett is new to this school and regretting his choice to transfer from Louisiana. Although he's an incredible wrestler, he's getting mercilessly hazed by the rest of the team. heart broke for the crap this guy had to deal with over and over again. He handles it better than most people would, but he's sad...and that's hard to read. But one of the hazing pranks goes over the top which should be unforgivable, but ultimately it brings Laurel into his realm, where she can see what an amazing guy he is...even if his exterior is a little more homely than she's normally drawn to. 

I loved how hard Laurel fell for Rhett when she fell, but heart hurt with just how little Rhett trusts that. She's gorgeous...all guys want to date her. So in his eyes, he simply can't see how she'd be interested in him, no matter how much she continually shows him that she is interested. 

This romance is a slow build, just because Rhett is so clueless. He has almost zero experience with women and he doesn't see the reality of the world and the women around him. 

I loved this story. There were so many truly sweet, romantic moments in it. It really did melt my heart. I loved Rhett and I think this is my favorite book in the series so far. And as always, these two narrators knocked it out of the ballpark with their narration. Even Rhett's southern accent was perfect, not too overdone like a lot of narrators do with a twang. LOVED IT!

Friday, December 29, 2017

Top Ten Reads of 2017

On Point by Annabeth Albert
m/m military romance
My favorite trope...friends to lovers. This one hit all my favorite buttons. Add in the trauma of a military mission gone wrong that just drives home on how there may not be a tomorrow for them...and yeah, this one was really, really good!

Steadfast by Sarina Bowen
m/f contemporary romance
My second favorite trope...second chance at love. The hero in this one was a character that we got to know in previous books as a steadfast guy (hmm, there's that title) who is just trying to get on with his life after getting out of prison. He's also trying to ignore the girl he left behind that he still loves and adores. So good!

The Heartbeat Hypothesis by Lindsey Frydman
m/f new adult romance
Whew, this book blew me away. The heroine has survived because she was given the heart of another teenage girl who died. Now the survivor is living the bucket list of the girl who died and learning exactly what it means to live and embrace every aspect of that life...and doing it with the brother of the girl who died so the heroine could live. Seriously...tears.

Outside the Lines by Anna Zabo
m/m/f erotic romance
A truly beautiful story about different types of love and how a triad relationship can work. I fell in love with these characters and how they overcame the challenges this type of relationship can bring.

69 Million Things I Hate About You by Kira Archer
m/f romantic comedy
This story was so fun and funny. The heroine wins 69 million dollars and decides to torture her jerk of a boss for a bit before she quits (or he fires her). The story is hilarious and was just pure fun!

Five Dares by Eli Easton
m/m new adult romance
Two guys just graduating from college who pull a stupid prank that leaves them both with their hands unusable for the summer after graduation. They have 2-3 months to suffer together before their real adult lives begin and you can see how this story might play out. It was so good!

The Idea of You by Robinne Lee
m/f women's fiction
I'm not usually one who enjoys women's fiction, but this story about a 39 year old woman falling in love with a young, famous member of her daughter's favorite boy-band spoke to me. It was a beautiful, emotion filled story and I could relate to so much about the heroine.

The Do-Gooder by Jessie L. Star
m/f new adult romance
Note: this book only released in ebook here in the States, but I ordered an Australian paperback so I could have it on my keeper shelf. This is a heart-wrenching story about a former mean girl who has dedicated her life to making amends to the people she was mean to and only one guy sees what she's doing and how she's sacrificing herself to do it. It's a beautiful story.

For Finley by J. Nathan
m/f new adult romance
A heartbreaking story of a boy's twin sister who decides to live his dreams as best as she can after his death. So many emotions in this college-level, sports romance. Even thinking about the story now (11 months after I read it and my throat tightens with tears...such a good book!)

The Lightning Struck Heart by TJ Klune
m/m paranormal fantasy
One of two books this year that received an A++ rating from me, but this hands down is my favorite book that I have ever read and the audiobook was pure perfection. It's romantic and sweet, and has so many laugh out loud moments as well as moments when I cried. This book is pure perfection.

And that's my Top Ten list for this year. As I review books throughout the year, I mark the books that I think might make the list at the end of the year. It's always interesting to go through those and while they were all amazing books, there are certain books that stick with me and continue to resonate (which is honestly really tough to do because I read 365-425 books a year). But I highly recommend all the books on my original list. There were 36 of them this year and you can find the whole list here...

The Failing Hours: How to Date a Douchebag (audiobook)

Title:  The Failing Hours
Author: Sara Ney
My Rating: A-
Narrator: Josh Goodman and Muffy Newtown

Genre: New Adult Romance
Series: How to Date a Douchebag #2
Main Characters: Zeke and Violet
Release Date: September 2017 (audiobook)
Publisher: Audible
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
Zeke Daniels isn't just a douchebag; he's an a**hole. 

A total and complete jerk, Zeke keeps people at a distance. He has no interest in relationships—most a**holes don’t. 

Being part of a couple? Nope. Not for him.

He's never given any thought to what he wants in a girlfriend, because he's never had any intention of having one. Shit, he barely has a relationship with his family, and they're related; his own friends don’t even like him. 

So why does he keep thinking about Violet DeLuca? 
Sweet, quiet Violet—his opposite in every sense of the word.
The light to his dark, even her damn name sounds like rays of sunshine and happiness and shit.

And that pisses him off, too.

My Review:
Performance: 4.5
Overall: 4.25
Story: 4.0

Okay, you need to go into this book knowing that you will probably never fall in love with this hero...because he is a douche in the true sense of the word...and for the most part, that doesn't change. Zeke is a curmudgeon. For the most part, he doesn't like people and doesn't like to put up with much. The exception to that rule is how he deals with Violet and that's what makes him redeemable.

Violet is sweet and shy and happy with her books and studying. She doesn't want to have anything to do with Zeke, but then she starts to see some qualities in Zeke and sees his softer side that he hides from everyone...and she starts to fall. 

I'll also admit that it was awesome to watch Zeke fall for her, but it was even more rewarding to watch him come to grips with the fact that he needed to make himself vulnerable to her if he wants to have her.

I'm loving this series and already have the audiobook queued up on my iPod. I can't wait to listen to it. (Note: I've also bought the books in paperback and will eventually sit down and read them outright, too...yes, I've enjoyed them that much.)

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

The Pretender by HelenKay Dimon

Title: The Pretender
Author: HelenKay Dimon
My Rating: B

Genre: Romantic Suspense 
Series: Games People Play #3
Main Characters: Gabby and Harris
Release Date: December 2017
Publisher: Avon
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
They say it takes a thief to catch a thief, and Harrison Tate is proof. Once a professional burglar, he now makes a lawful living tracking down stolen art. No one needs to know about his secret sideline, “liberating” artifacts acquired through underhanded methods. At least until one of those jobs sees him walking in on a murder.

Gabrielle Wright has long been estranged from her wealthy family, but she didn’t kill her sister. Trouble is, the only person who can prove it is the sexy, elusive criminal who shouldn’t have been at the island estate on that terrible night. She’s not expecting honor among thieves—or for their mutual attraction to spark into an intense inferno of desire.

Under the guise of evaluating her family’s art, Harris comes back to the estate hoping to clear Gabby’s name. But returning to the scene of the crime has never been riskier, with their hearts and lives on the line.
My Review:
The first thing you need to know is that if you haven't read the rest of the series, you will be perfectly fine reading this book as a standalone. I haven't read any of the others and never had a single moment of confusion. The author does a really good job of giving you the info about the setup of the group that you need. 

So, the premise of this book is that Harris stumbled upon a murder. He didn't see who committed the murder, but he knows it wasn't Gabby. He's the only one who believes that she's innocent. When it looks like she may be going to jail, he steps in with his group of friends to help set things straight...and immediately finds himself more than a little intrigued with her. 

Gabby has spent her entire adult life being blamed for things she didn't do. She's always the guilty-looking party in a series of awful tragedies that have left her basically alone in the world. But the murder of her sister is the most devastating. So, when Harris shows up and actually believes in her, she's just thankful to have a seeming-ally even if she is sure that there's much more to his story than he's telling. 

Overall, I enjoyed this story. My heart broke for Gabby and all that she's lost and has been stolen from her. The cold way she was treated after her kidnapping was awful. This poor girl! 

I had no idea who the bad guy was until the very end although the cast of possibilities is very limited. The two main characters bonded over their troubled family life during their childhoods, and I liked those ties that bound them. Although there were moments when the story seemed to lag a little bit. Nothing wrong with the story line per say, I just think it could have been tightened up a bit. It felt like there was a lot of internal dialogue that was repeating throughout the story. 

But other than that, I did enjoy this book. I need to check out the rest of the series. I'm curious about the Quint Five...

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

The Billionaires: The Stepbrothers by Calista Fox

Title: The Billionaires: The Stepbrothers
Author: Calista Fox
My Rating: B

Genre: Erotic Romance 
Series: Lover's Triangle #3
Main Characters: Scarlet and Michael and Sam
Release Date: December 2017
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: erotic

Story Overview:
This pair of stepbrothers have their sights set on just one woman...

Scarlet Drake is an insurance fraud investigator hot on the heels of the thief who stole a multimillion-dollar art collection from tycoon Michael Vandenberg's Hamptons estate. Unfortunately, the sexy Wolf of Wall Street is also her prime suspect--along with his equally mouthwatering stepbrother, Montana rancher Sam Reed. Scarlet quickly finds herself tangled up in the two devilishly handsome men, and ensnared in a web of family lies.

Michael is used to getting what he wants--and he wants Scarlet in his bed. Sam had no intention of getting emotionally or romantically involved with a woman again, but he can't deny the sizzling chemistry with Scarlet. And when the three of them cave to one sinfully delicious night of sheer decadence, their sexy menage becomes a fiery affair of the heart. But they don't stand a chance at a happily ever after unless all of the absolute truths are finally revealed...

This is a standalone menage romance with an HEA.

Don't miss these other two standalone menage romances THE BILLIONAIRES and THE BILLIONAIRES: THE BOSSES.

My Review:
Confession...I had a really difficult time getting into this the point where I almost DNF'ed it in the first 15% of the book. The insta-lust and erotic levels of those first few chapters were a real turn off for me because the two characters were so darn aggressive with what they wanted. I really wasn't liking the book. But once Sam came on the scene, I was so much happier and very glad that I didn't quit reading the book, because it definitely improved after that.

And secondary note: the final 15% of the book more than made up for the first 15% of the book. So, long story short...give this one a little bit of time before you give up on the book. I was VERY glad that I stuck with it eventually. 

The first twenty percent of this book is focused on Scarlet as she interrogates Michael about his actions when the seventeen million dollars worth of artwork was stolen. Scarlet is investigating this crime that happened more than five years ago. It's after the statute of limitations for criminal charges, but it's not too late for a civil suit to be filed. Since the artwork has never shown up on the black market, Scarlet is working on the assumption that someone in the family still has it where they can enjoy it. Everyone in the family is a suspect...including the two stepbrothers, which is how Scarlet gets entangled up with both of them. 

As for the stepbrothers, this isn't the first time they've shared a woman. And they both definitely want Scarlet, no matter that she's trying to take down their family for a crime they didn't commit. They're sure the truth will come out in the end. 

I'll admit, I really enjoyed the fact that the suspense and twists and turned kicked up so high at the end. I just wished that level of suspense and intrigue had been throughout the whole book instead of feeling like an afterthought at the end. If that had been done, this story would have been a lot stronger. But it's an erotic novel, so the focus was on all the hot sex, especially at first. 

I haven't read the other two books in this series, and definitely didn't feel like I was missing anything. Each books appears to work perfectly well as a standalone. While this one had a few pacing/story issues, overall, I enjoyed reading it and would definitely consider reading this author again.

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

Barreled Over by Jenna Sutton

Title: Barreled Over
Author: Jenna Sutton
My Rating: A

Genre: Contemporary Romance 
Series: Trinity Distillery #1
Main Characters: Ava and Beck
Release Date: December 2017
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
Ready for another round?

Ava Grace Landy’s music career is humming along until a shakeup at her label jeopardizes her recording contract and curses her with the world’s worst boss. Determined to satisfy him, she partners with Trinity Distillery to access a larger male audience. To her surprise, she’s the one who’s satisfied—by none other than Jonah Beck, the gorgeous, yet gruff man behind the bourbon. 

No doubt about it, bourbon runs in Beck’s blood. But it’s audacious Ava Grace who makes it run hot. When she signs on as the spokesperson for his craft distillery, he doesn’t plan on hoisting her onto an oak barrel and rocking the rickhouse. Though he’s convinced their lives don’t mix—like a terrible cocktail—he can’t keep his hands off the alluring country star. 

Ava Grace and Beck try to keep their intoxicating relationship private, but the glare of her fame is too bright, revealing secrets they both want to remain hidden. With a spotlight shining on his tumultuous past, their future is at risk. Now they must decide if being together is worth sacrificing the career she loves and the company he’s poured his heart and soul into.

My Review:
I loved this book. Ava Grace is a fictionalized version of a Taylor Swift-like country star and I loved the premise of her. Her world is crazy and is completely up for public consumption, but when her label has a complete change-over, they are asking her to do things completely different, too. Now she needs to appeal to a wider male audience and isn't willing to pimp herself out to do it. As a result, she ends up partnering up with Trinity Distillery...a bourbon distillery, and Beck is one of the owners of the company.

Beck has no desire to get mixed up in Ava Grace's crazy life. He's been in the public spotlight once before and it was the worst thing he ever experienced. It doesn't matter how sexy Ava Grace is, that price isn't worth it. But the longer she works with Trinity, the more they get thrown together, and the more alluring he finds her...until things get out of control. 

While Ava Grace isn't a big fan of the constant attention, she realizes that's a price of the fame she has. She may not like it all the time, but she's learned to live with it. Beck hasn't had that induction into it yet, and he definitely gets hit hard by all the speculation and tabloid style reporting. But the fact of the matter is that he never believed in them in the long run anyway. He always viewed their relationship as one with an expiration date because he's learned the hard way that he's not a guy anyone sticks with. 

There was so much to love about this story. Both Beck and Ava Grace live in interesting worlds. I loved this tiny perspective into their lives, especially the bourbon making world. It was fun to learn more about that. But I also liked how Ava Grace's career fit into the Trinity Distillery PR. It was fun to see them all slotted together.

Note: This cover is absolute PERFECTION for this book. That scene was HOT and the aftermath was awesome and slightly humorous. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and loved getting to see glimpses of the characters from the Riley O'Brien series. This series is officially on my auto buy list. I just hope that this book is coming out in print so I can add it to my keeper shelf. 

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

The Pines of Winder Ranch by RaeAnne Thayne

Title: The Pines of Winder Ranch
Author: RaeAnne Thayne
My Rating: A

Genre: Contemporary Romance 
Series: Cowboys of Cold Creek #10
Main Characters: Taft and Laura
Release Date: December 2017
Publisher: Harlequin
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: mild

Story Overview:
Come home to Winder Ranch in these two beloved stories, where broken hearts can find exactly what they need to heal--and love again

A COLD CREEK HOMECOMINGWhen Quinn Southerland returns home to Winder Ranch, Idaho, to find former high school queen bee Tess Claybourn serving as his dying mother's hospice nurse, he's far from pleased. But recently widowed Tess has done a lot of growing up since then. And as the two reconnect, she can't help but wonder if there's room in Quinn's tortured heart for forgiveness--and maybe even love...

A COLD CREEK REUNIONAfter Taft Bowman lost his parents ten years ago, he buried himself in a grief that shut fiancee Laura Pendleton out completely. But now she's back, recently widowed with two kids in tow, and Taft refuses to let her slip away again. Laura just wants a fresh start, but that's easier said than done when seeing Taft stirs up feelings she thought she'd left in the past...

My Review:
From what I understand the rerelease version of this book holds the two stories that are in the book description, but I only received the second story, A Cold Creek Reunion, for review.

This is one of my favorite tropes...a second chance at love story. Ten years ago, Taft and Laura were almost married, but then his parents were murdered and Taft couldn't handle his grief. They were both too young. Yes, they were in love, but that wasn't enough when things got rough. Laura could see that they'd be heading for an unhappy marriage and divorce so she called off the wedding breaking both their hearts. She hoped that someday he'd come after her. He never did. 

But now she's back home. Her husband died and she's needed to come home...for her, for her kids, but she isn't sure how she'll handle seeing Taft again. Needless to say, things don't go exactly smoothly for them at first. But eventually things begin to change, begin to evolve and they begin to realize who the people they are now and how they still fit together. 

I enjoyed this story. It's a bit shorter than a normal novel, but I didn't feel like the story was scrimped on at all. It's a great, full story for just a couple of hours time commitment. I liked it and definitely recommend it. 

Unfortunately, my review copy only had the one story in it, so that's all I can review for this edition of the book. 

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

Saturday, December 23, 2017

The Studying Hours: How To Date A Douchebag (audiobook)

Title:  The Studying Hours
Author: Sara Ney
My Rating: A
Narrator: Josh Goodman and Muffy Newtown

Genre: New Adult Romance
Series: How to Date a Douchebag #1
Main Characters: Oz and James
Release Date: September 2017 (audiobook)
Publisher: Audible
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
No doubt about it, Sebastian ‘Oz’ Osborne is the university’s most celebrated student athlete—and possibly the biggest douchebag. A walking, talking cliché, he has a filthy mouth, a fantastic body, and doesn’t give a sh*t about what you or anyone else thinks.
Make no mistake, Jameson Clarke may be the university’s most diligent student—but she is no prude. Spending most of her time in the hallowed halls of the library, James is wary of pervs, jocks, and douchebags—and Oz Osborne is all three.

She’s smart, sarcastic—and not what he expected.

He wants to be friends.
He wants to spend time with her.
He wants to drive her crazy.

He wants…

My Review:
Overall: 4.5
Performance: 4.5
Story: 4.25

I thoroughly enjoyed this audiobook and love the premise of the whole series...guys who are jerks...until something changes and they meet "the one". It makes for a really fun read. 

In this book, Oz is on-campus royalty. He's a jock/wrestler and revered in this college. By everyone except James, who has no clue who he is. She's a true buttoned-up academic. And Oz wants to mess up all her buttons. As the story progresses, he becomes more and more obsessed about finding out exactly what she's hiding underneath those cardigans. 

This story was just pure fun. I loved getting to watch Oz's complete shock as he slowly becomes infatuated and then more with James. And while James sees that Oz is good-looking, she has no desire to get involved with a man-whore jock. 

But they're both wrong about what they want or need. They're truly made for one another. 

Note: I loved the narration for this book, too. Both the narrators nailed the voices. This was just truly a GOOD, entertaining book! I definitely recommend it. 

Thursday, December 21, 2017

The Christmas Fling by Heidi Cullinan

Title: The Christmas Fling
Author: Heidi Cullinan
My Rating: A

Genre: Holiday Romance (m/m)
Series: Christmas Town #1
Main Characters: Evan and Davidson
Release Date: December 2017
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
Sometimes it takes a village to fall in love. 

Eccentric, reclusive, socially awkward project designer Evan Myles doesn’t date. Paying for sex with professionals is so much more efficient and suits his needs well enough. But when he’s on assignment in rural Logan, Minnesota, for the Christmas Town project and a handsome stranger at the bar catches his attention, Evan decides it’s time to break his rule. It doesn’t matter that he’s never so much as flirted before. It can’t be that hard, can it? 

Davidson Incorporated lead architect Terry Reid hasn’t been hit on so clumsily in his life. Terry’s the first to admit he’s a neurotic Prince Charming, and he’s kissed his share of male and female frogs, but he’s never met anyone quite like Evan Myles. Evan calls Terry by the wrong name, mistakes Terry for a simple construction worker, and picks apart his work as an architect. Despite this rough start, Terry is lured by the brilliance of Evan’s ideas, his quirky personality, and once they’re alone in Evan’s cabin, the man’s mad skills in bed. Yet Terry knows it takes more than a single night of passion to make a relationship work, and after so many failures, he’s just not ready to try again. 

Evan and Terry’s path is strewn with stones neither of them can dislodge. Fortunately, they’re not alone on the road to romance. They’re in Christmas Town, home to matchmakers, meddlers, and more “fairy godfathers” than they could possibly know what to do with. 

Most importantly, in Logan, Minnesota, happy ever after is guaranteed. 

My Review:

My favorite time of the year is when Heidi Cullinan releases her Christmas story and this one did not disappoint. I loved this one so much, but be warned, it may take a bit to warm up to these two main characters because they're hard to get to know and understand...but that's part of why I loved them so much. Their relationship is so awkward, but that seems to make it more pure and real-feeling. 

Evan is Sheldon from Big Bang Theory, but instead of a scientist, he's a brilliant artist...and he's gay. He's incredibly socially awkward, to the point of where he's never been in a relationship. He hires escorts to fulfill his sexual needs, but for one night he decides to be brave and hits the local bar, where he meets Kevin. 

Kevin is actually Terry. He's wearing a shirt with a name embroidered on it and doesn't correct Evan's assumption about his name. Evan doesn't need his real name for a one night stand. But then they connect on such a deep level...too deep for Terry. He's running scared for the emotions that Evan pulls out of him. So when they meet again, he's both relieved and upset that Evan doesn't even recognize him. 

When the book begins, it's apparent just how awkward Evan is. He doesn't even try to hide it. So, it was a surprise to find out that Terry has his own slate of issues. But that similarity makes them so perfect together...if they can just work past the awkwardness and embarrassment. 

I've loved this series. And yes, I know that this is the first in a series, but this book is an off-shoot from Heidi Cullinan's other series, Minnesota Christmas, which I've also loved. It was great to see all those same familiar faces from that series. 

I did just thoroughly love this book. The characters are different from what you normally find for heroes, but they worked for me and I fell in love with them. I definitely recommend this story...and the whole series that takes place before this one. Although you can note that ANY of these books works as a standalone read.