Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Half Empty by Catherine Bybee

Title: Half Empty
Author: Catherine Bybee
My Rating: A

Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: First Wives #2
Main Characters: Trina and Wade
Release Date: August 2018
Publisher: Montlake
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot


Story Overview:
New York Times bestselling author Catherine Bybee continues her sassy series with another of the First Wives finding that love and secrets are a dangerous combination.
Trina Petrov’s marriage-by-contract was only meant to be temporary. But when tragedy strikes, Trina is left one of the wealthiest women in the world. To recover from the shock, she takes some time off in Italy, swearing not to fall for any men while there. But that doesn’t mean she can’t fall for anyone on the trip home
Country-music superstar Wade Thomas is lying low in a hotel bar when he gets the cold shoulder from the woman next to him. He’s used to fans fawning at his boots, and Trina is a refreshing change—so is the fact that she has no idea who he is.
As things begin to heat up, Trina discovers that the circumstances of her late husband’s death are not what they seemed. Now she’s in trouble, and Wade isn’t about to let her out of his sight. Getting close to love and danger could get them killed…or it could sweep them both off their feet.
My Review:
It's been a while since I read a Catherine Bybee book. I'd completely forgotten how much I love her writing. This book was so good!

I didn't read the first book in the series, so I had no idea what exactly was behind these four women's marriages and spent what felt like a long time while reading in the book in the dark about that. It was never confusing. Instead, that mystery just upped the suspense and wonder about what all was happening in the book. Because the book takes place a year after Trina's husband committed suicide, but it's obvious fairly early on that they had a marriage in name only. What isn't apparent at first is exactly why...for either her or her dead husband.

And that's just the beginning of all the unanswered questions in this book. BUT like I said, it's never confusing....just so much suspense and need to know, which is brilliant for a reader to keep turning those pages. Yes, this was most definitely a page-turner. 

And that's before we even get to the romance. Wade...LOL. I love how hard he had to work for it with Trina. As a country mega-star, he's used to women fawning over him. Trina is not that woman. She hasn't even heard of him and has no use for a relationship in her life right now. She's seriously resistant to any and all of his seduction tactics. It was so much fun to read his frustration over that.

There are a lot of layers to this book and some brilliant characters. I loved every single one of them, and cannot wait to read the rest of the series (and yes, that includes book #1 that I need to go back and read).

If you like romantic suspense or even contemporary romance with an edge, you will love this book. It's extremely well written with lots of threads woven throughout to keep you wholly engaged and on the edge of your seat. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of reading it. 

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher as a gift.

Set the Night on Fire by Laura Trentham

Title: Set the Night on Fire
Author: Laura Trentham
My Rating: A-

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Cottonbloom #6
Main Characters: Ella and Mack
Release Date: July 2018
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
Cottonbloom is the perfect place for starting over, finding your way back home--and falling head over heels. . .

Ella Boudreaux has a lot to prove to her family, friends, and foes--and to herself. So when her marriage ends she decides to invest her energy and money into a place that brings back some of Ella's happiest memories: the Abbott brothers' garage. Maybe, if she puts her mind to it, she can teach skeptical, stubborn Mack Abbott how to make the business a true success. Which would be a lot easier if the hunky mechanic didn't make her motor run quite so fast...and hot.


Mack was furious when his brother, Ford, sold his share of the business. He's in no rush to team up with a wealthy divorcee who shows up to the garage in stilettos--and the longest, sexiest legs he's seen in forever. But Ella's grit and determination won't quit...and soon Mack can see that she's been down a few rough roads herself. Neither Mack nor Ella can deny the fierce attraction that's revving up between them. Could it be that true love has been in the backseat all along...and they've finally found the key?

My Review:
*happy sigh* I've just really enjoyed every book in this series and with Mack being the oldest and grumpiest of the siblings, I couldn't wait for his book. It did not disappoint. 

But what was a surprise in this book was just how much I loved Ella. While she's invested in the garage fully expecting to make a profit, her reasons for investing are much more heartfelt than that. Her older brother died a few years ago and he was a wrench-monkey, who lived for rebuilding his cars. She invested in this garage as a tie to him. I loved that so, so much. I also loved it every time she was able to surprise Mack, especially in the beginning...and that happened a lot. 

There is a lot of character growth in this book, especially for Mack. He's a stubborn guy and doesn't acquiesce to being wrong very often. But that hasn't served him well...with his family or with Ella. But when he begins to fall for Ella and starts to see her in a different light, he begins to realize that maybe he's been too quick to judge in several aspects of his life. Yay...great character arc.

And I did like how things developed between Mack and Ella. The respect is slowly earned for both of them, but it works so well.

Family is at the core of this series and I love the relationship between the brothers that continues to flow throughout the series. But now I'm curious....will the fourth brother, the prodigal brother, Ford get an HEA? I need to go do some research on the author's website because that would be an interesting challenge to see him as a hero. I think I'd like it.

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

Monday, July 30, 2018

Chasing Thunderbird by J. Leigh Bailey

Title: Chasing Thunderbird 
Author: J. Leigh Bailey
My Rating: A

Genre: Paranormal Romance (m/m)
Series: Shifter U #2
Main Characters: Simon and Ford
Release Date: February 2018
Publisher: Dreamspinner
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: spicy

Story Overview:
A Shifter U Tale 

A legendary love. 

Ornithology professor Simon Coleman’s reputation is at risk, and the only way to save his name is to prove thunderbirds are more than creatures of Native American myth. Grad student and part-time barista Ford Whitney has a lot on his plate, but it’s also his duty to make sure the resident bird nerd doesn’t discover shape-shifters—like himself—live on campus.

When a series of incidents related to Simon’s search put him in harm’s way, Ford’s instincts kick in, and they become closer than is strictly proper for student and teacher. Ford is forced to reveal his secrets to Simon, and their relationship is put to the test—Simon must choose between salvaging his reputation and protecting the man who protected him….


My Review:
Oooh, I loved this book. I liked it even more than I did the first book of the Shifter U series, which I didn't expect. 

Simon's family has been searching for proof of the elusive thunderbird for generations, to the point where they are a laughing stock of the scientific world, because someone has been out there systematically erasing all the proof they've found. When an online forum mentions a sighting of a large bird that sounds promising in Wyoming, Simon accepts the job to teach in the local biology department. 

When he gets to the college he's immediately assigned Ford as a TA. What he doesn't know (and the reader is aware of) is that Ford is the elusive thunderbird. 

I loved this book so much. Ford and Simon are wonderful together, although my heart hurt for both of them when everything came to a head. I liked the way the story was written and how the romance developed, although both men fought against it. 

There's a bit of action and suspense to the story, too, which just made it that much better. I highly recommend this book and have already started book #3. I'm loving these Shifter U novels. 

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Wilde Fire by Lucy Lennox (audiobook)

Title:  Wilde Fire
Author: Lucy Lennox
My Rating: A
Narrator: Michael Pauley

Genre: Contemporary Romance (m/m)
Series: Forever Wilde #3
Main Characters: Walker and Wilde (Otto)
Release Date: April 2018 (audiobook)
Publisher: 
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
Listening Length: 8 hours and 40 minutes 

Otto: 

Seth Walker was my first love and I always swore he'd be my last. Even after he moved away our senior year in high school, we vowed to reunite after graduation. But when he suddenly broke things off without explanation and crushed my heart, it was my turn to run. 

After a decade in the navy, I've finally come home ready to move on with my life as Hobie's newest firefighter. Unfortunately, the minute I set eyes on the new sheriff in town, I know I'm screwed. Hobie's top cop is none other than Seth Walker. 

Turns out, he's come home too. And hell if he doesn't have a lot of explaining to do. 

Walker: 

I thought I was doing the right thing when I walked away from Otto Wilde 10 years ago without an explanation. I was wrong. I also thought I could come back home without having to face my past mistakes. I was wrong about that too. 

What I'm not wrong about: The fact that my heart catches fire every time I set eyes on the sexy man. The fact that I can't imagine my life without him. The fact that things are still just as complicated now as they were then. And the fact that I have a lot of work ahead of me if I expect to win him back. 

Just when things start heating up between us again, a serial arsonist strikes and suspicion falls close to home. I already lost Otto to a secret long ago but I'll be damned if I let another threaten to send our future up in smoke. 

Because Otto Wilde is mine, and I don't plan on ever letting him go again. 

Each novel in the Forever Wilde series can be heard on its own or as part of the series. Fair warning, there will be nekkid man parts touching, meddling patriarchs, sweet second-chance love themes, and a dearly departed donkey named Debbie Gibson.

My Review:
Overall: 4.75
Performance: 4.5
Story: 4.75

I think this is my favorite book that I've read from Lucy Lennox so far. This one was so good, but you know...a sheriff and a fireman...that's pretty much a sure-bet kind of combination, right?

Okay...so this story...all is not what it seems when the story begins. Seth and Otto have a history. It's a deep and serious history...but things blew up between them and they went their separate ways. BUT the emotions NEVER ended. 

The book is one big suspense novel about what the heck happened that split them apart and what exactly is going on now...because despite their deep levels of commitment between them, there are also a lot of things going unsaid. Reading as fast as possible to find out those things is what makes this story a great read. 

It's also a great read just because of these two guys. Despite all the chaos in their lives, they are utterly committed to one another and that is such a good thing, because these two are PERFECT with each other. I loved them both so, so much.

There's also a real suspense line happening in the background that was actually pretty good. It kept me guessing. 

I definitely recommend this whole series, but if you're only going to read one of these books, make it this one. You won't regret it. 

Friday, July 27, 2018

Say You Can't Let Go by Corinne Michaels


Title: Say You Can't Let Go 
Author: Corinne Michaels
My Rating: A-

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Return to Me #3.6
Main Characters: Cooper and Emily
Release Date: April 2018
Publisher: 
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot


Story Overview:
Emily Young had two goals in her life:
1. Make it big in country music.
2. Get the hell out of Bell Buckle.

She was doing it. She was on her way, until Cooper Townsend landed backstage at her show in Dallas.

This gorgeous, rugged, man of few words was one cowboy she couldn’t afford to let distract her. But with his slow smile and rough hands, she just couldn’t keep away.

With outside forces conspiring against them, Cooper hires the McKay-Taggart team to protect her. Emily refuses to let Cooper get hurt because of her. All she wants is to hold onto him, but she knows the right thing to do is to let go . . .
My Review:
This is a short novella, but it's not short on story. Emily and Cooper know each other from Bell Buckle, TN, but they meet up in Texas, where she's touring and he's there for a cattle rancher's association meetup. They've known one another for years. For Emily, those are years when she's been crushing on Cooper, but he was infatuated with her best friend. Until this trip, which changes everything. Suddenly, they see one another in a different light. The thing is...Emily is on the verge of big stardom and that's drawing some "unwelcome" attention. 

This kind of quick love story works because Emily and Cooper basically grew up together. They have a history that quickly evolves way past friendship. 

I liked the book. It's a quick, but satisfying read with even a bit of action and suspense thrown in that made it really very good. 

I definitely recommend the book and it works perfectly well as a standalone read, even though it's officially part of two different series. 

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Love in Spades by Charlie Cochet (audiobook)

Title:  Love In Spades
Author: Charlie Cochet
My Rating: A-
Narrator: Greg Boudreaux

Genre: Romantic Suspense (m/m)
Series: Four Kings Security #1
Main Characters: Ace and Colton
Release Date: June 2018 (audiobook)
Publisher: 
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
When the cards are stacked against you, the Kings will even the odds.

Ex-Special Forces soldier Anston “Ace” Sharpe is fighting a different battle these days—one involving the world of private security across the state of Florida. As part owner of Four Kings Security, Ace and his fellow Kings tackle everything from armed transport and investigations to cyber intelligence and executive protection. Cocky, fearless, and brash, Ace isn’t afraid to take risks.

After years of working alongside his father, Colton Connolly is ready to take the helm at Connolly Maritime, but his father’s retirement is put on hold when Colton begins receiving death threats. If that isn’t bad enough, his father signs a contract with Four Kings Security to provide Colton with round-the-clock protection, despite his adamant refusal. Colton’s life has been turned upside down, the last thing he needs is a shadow, especially in the form of infuriating, sexy-as-sin Ace Sharpe, who seems to be on a mission to drive Colton mad.

Sparks fly the moment Colton and Ace meet on a sultry night club dance floor. But getting involved with a client, even one as fiery and beautiful as Colton Connolly, is a line Ace is unwilling to cross. Colton might be attracted to Ace, but he’d been burned before. He might be willing to put his life in Ace’s hands, but not his heart.

As the Florida nights heat up, so does their passion, and Ace and Colton are faced with a difficult choice—take the plunge and risk it all, or play it safe and walk away?

If Ace can keep a deadly threat from robbing Colton of a future….


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

A new romantic suspense series from Charlie Cochet? YES! Please. And OMG, it did not disappoint. I loved this first book. 

The four kings are four friends who were in spec ops together and have now opened a security firm. Their first case in this series is to guard a man that doesn't want to be protected. (His dad hired them on behalf of the company the two of them own.)

There is INSTANT chemistry between Colton and Ace and that doesn't ever calm down throughout this entire book. I loved them together. They are both very strong personalities. That first scene where Colton was drunk...OMG! Just wow, but I loved it. It was perfect for both of them, but especially for Ace's devil-may-care attitude about so much in his life. I loved how he just let it happen. 

I did NOT see who the bad guy was coming at all...and that's not something that happens to me very often anymore. I loved that the author was able to completely surprise me like that. 

I also just really like the setup for the whole series. I'm excited...so come on, Charlie Cochet, I need book #2 (I'm crossing my fingers that it's out by the time this review goes up, since I wrote this review a couple of weeks before it's scheduled to go live). 

Note: Greg Boudreaux's narration...LOVE! He has a great, deep voice that I loved and his inflections are amazing!!

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Stalking Buffalo Bill by J. Leigh Bailey

Title: Stalking Buffalo Bill
Author: J. Leigh Bailey
My Rating: A-

Genre: Paranormal Romance (m/m)
Series: Shifter U #1
Main Characters: William and Donnie
Release Date: September 2017
Publisher: Dreamspinner
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: spicy

Story Overview:
A Shifter U Tale

A smitten coyote isn’t the only one stalking Buffalo Bill.

A buffalo walks into a cafe. Sounds like the start of a bad joke, but for coyote shifter Donnie Granger, it’s the beginning of an obsession. Donnie is a little hyperactive and a lot distractible, except when it comes to William. He finally works up the nerve to approach William but is interrupted by a couple of violent humans.

While William—don’t call me Bill—is currently a professor, he once worked undercover against an international weapons-trafficking ring. Before he can settle into obscurity, he must find out who leaked his location and eliminate the thugs. He tries keeping his distance to protect Donnie, but the wily coyote won’t stay away.

It’ll take both Donnie’s skills as a stalker—er, hunter—and William’s super-spy expertise to neutralize the threat so they can discover if an excitable coyote and a placid-until-pissed buffalo have a future together.
 
My Review:
A buffalo shifter and a coyote shifter...this is not an expected pairing, but I did like these two together. Donnie, the coyote, is high strung and emotional. William is not. In fact, William is a professor. He watches and doesn't reveal anything, but that calm facade is a huge cover for some massive, unexpected secrets. 

William has been coming into the coffee shop where Donnie works for weeks and Donnie has finally built up his courage to approach the guy he's been way too obsessed with. But there are reasons William can't date Donnie. But Donnie isn't someone to just sit aside when something is happening. He acts first, and deals with the fallout later. The complete opposite of William. 

But opposites attract, right? There's a lot happening in this book, but it is totally told from Donnie's point of view, so it's really his book, despite it being a romance novel. He has a great character arc as he learns how to really be comfortable with the choices he's made for himself. I liked watching his growth. 

I also really liked the calming influence that William has on Donnie. It's a slow lesson, but there's definitely some character growth for him and I enjoyed it. 

It was a fun story. 

I did enjoy this book and am definitely looking forward to more...Ford...YES!! I love the idea of his shifter form...so cool!

I did enjoy this new world of Shifter U... and am really excited to read more. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Home and Away by Samantha Wayland

Title: Home and Away
Author: Samantha Wayland
My Rating: A+

Genre: Sports Romance (m/m)
Series
Main Characters: Rupert and Callum
Release Date: June 2015
Publisher: Loch Awe Press
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
You can build a team, but you have to find your home.

Rupert Smythe is fond of many things. Callum Morrison isn’t one of them.

Rupert is a quiet, thoughtful business man and, sadly, a total wimp. Maybe not the ideal candidate to run a professional hockey team, but he signed on to do it anyway. As his life has reminded him on an almost daily basis since, this isn’t the most brilliant idea he’s ever had. And that was before Callum showed up.

Being in the spotlight is just part of being a professional athlete, but Callum needs a break. He arrives in Moncton unannounced, determined to help grow the team he just bought, and under the assumption he’d be welcome. Possibly he should have tried to make a better first impression.

Callum figures he can push through the rest of the summer, never expecting two kids, a host of friends, and his growing feelings for Rupert to derail everything he has ever believed about what he wanted, and what he could have.


My Review:

Wow, wow, wow. Why did I let this book sit for so long in my tbr? It was so, so good!

Rupert and Callum are a VERY unlikely couple, even though they both have a stake in this hockey team and making sure it's successful. Rupert is British and very staid and calm and reserved. Callum is NOT. Callum is a hockey player...rough and big and more than a bit intimidating. 

From the very start they have a contentious relationship. In fact, Rupert is obviously intimidated by Callum's size at the beginning of the book, actually skittering away from him a couple of times. It's certainly not the setup for an obvious relationship.

The build up in this book is so, so good. Callum doesn't do tact, he just barrels in and does whatever needs to be done. Rupert analyzes everything. He doesn't understand Callum...at least at first. But Callum is such a good guy, even if he is straight...or is he?

There are so many delicious layers to this story. There's Callum's very public profile. The wonderful addition of the wounded Oliver, Rupert's little brother, and how he needs both Callum and Rupert. There's Christian's story and Rupert's secrets. And in the midst of it all are two men who NEVER, EVER expected to connect with anyone, much less one another. Their romance is sweet and sexy and at every turn, melted my heart just a little bit more.

This book is so, so good. And it's also hockey, which is always an amazing setting. 

I adored this book and am so glad that I own it in print, because I'm already planning ahead for when I can re-read it. It was an amazingly gorgeous love story. 

I highly recommend it!!!


Monday, July 23, 2018

Imperial Stout by Layla Reyne

Title: Imperial Stout
Author: Layla Reyne
My Rating: A

Genre: Romantic Suspense (m/m) 
Series: Trouble Brewing #1
Main Characters: Cam and Nic
Release Date: July 2018
Publisher: Carina Press
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
Layla Reyne spins off from her pulse-pounding Agents Irish and Whiskey books with Imperial Stout , the first installment in the Trouble Brewing series

It’s a good thing assistant US attorney Dominic Price co-owns a brewery. He could use a cold one. Nic’s star witness has just been kidnapped, his joint operation with the FBI is in jeopardy, his father’s shady past is catching up with him and the hot new special agent in San Francisco is the kind of distraction best handled with a stiff drink.

Kidnap and rescue expert Cameron Byrne has his own ideas about how to handle Nic, but his skills are currently needed elsewhere. The by-the-book FBI agent goes deep undercover as a member of an infamous heist crew in order to save Nic’s witness, break up the crew and close the case before anyone else gets hurt. Nic in particular.

Things heat up when Cam falls for Nic, and the witness falls for Cam. As the crew’s suspicions grow, Cam must decide how far he’s willing to go—and how far into his own dark past he’s willing to dive—to get everyone out alive.
 

My Review:
Yay...I'm so, so happy that Layla Reyne decided to do a spinoff series for Cam and Nic after the glimpses of them in the Whiskey & Irish series. Their book did not disappoint. This book was excellent. 

Like all the books in both series, this book is non-stop action from start to finish. In the midst of all that chaos, Nic and Cam are slowly building up this thing between the two of them. That's something that's not easy when they are in the midst of very dangerous, high stress situations. 

But I do like the two of them so much. There are things happening behind the scenes with both of them that they don't necessarily want to reveal. But I liked that when things got intense, they did not hide those secrets from one another. They're honest with each other, even when that honesty hurts.

There were also glimpses of the other couples from the Whiskey & Irish series and I really enjoyed that. 

I also really like the brewery to add a bit of ambience to the setting and the relationship. That was a neat little detail that made for some really fun lines that simply melted my heart. 

These books are so good. From the moment I started reading, I literally did not put it down. I had other things to do today, but this story stole my heart and attention and I couldn't pull myself from it. I love these guys and I'm so looking forward to more of Nic and Cam.

I highly recommend this book.

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

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Body and Soul by Lucy Lennox and Sloane Kennedy (audiobook)

Title: Body and Soul
Author: Lucy Lennox and Sloane Kennedy
My Rating: A
Narrator: Michael Pauley

Genre: Contemporary Romance (m/m)
Series: Twist of Fate #3
Main Characters: Oz and Jake
Release Date: March 2018 (audiobook)
Publisher: Audible
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
Oz: Escaping the international modeling scene to design my own fashion collection is the first step to shucking my bobble-headed supermodel reputation and proving to the world I’m more than just a pretty face. But the minute I have to accept roadside help from the sexy man next door, I feel like the airhead people think I am. And what’s worse, the man clearly doesn’t think I’m worth the time of day.

But despite trying to ignore my attraction to the mysterious doctor, I can’t help but be drawn to him. With every moment spent together, I begin to realize he’s hiding more than just some details of his past. He has one foot out the door.

As soon as I start to feel like everything might be coming together for me, I realize the man I’m falling in love with isn’t who I thought he was.



Jake: After three years on the run for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, I’ve finally found a seemingly safe place to settle in Haven, Colorado. With friends, a job, and a cabin in the woods, I have everything I need to live a simple life without drawing attention to myself. Everything’s fine. Fine.

Until I meet my new neighbor. The gorgeous man is anything but subtle and brings color to my life that I didn’t know was missing. But I learned years ago that falling in love with someone wasn’t an option anymore when simply being seen with me could have dire consequences. It’s time for me to run again, but I wonder if it’s safe to stick around just long enough for a taste…

Just when I begin to realize Oz is the missing piece to bring me back to life after years of hiding, my past catches up to me and throws everyone around me into danger. I know I should run, but what if it’s time to finally stop running and make a stand, once and for all?

My Review:
I love this series, but I think this has been my favorite book in it so far. Oz and Jake are just such an unlikely couple, but that's what makes them so much fun together. 

In the beginning, Oz is super high maintenance. He's an elite model, but he's here trying to prove something to himself and to others who've underestimated him. But it's a really steep learning curve since he's living pretty much in the wilderness with only Jake between him and a lot of trouble.

But Jake wants NOTHING to do with Oz. While the guy is gorgeous, he's also a lot of trouble that Jake can't handle. He's not a guy made for commitment or even a fling. He can't get attached. Jake is a mysterious conundrum. It's obvious fairly quickly in the book that something has happened in his past that he's running or escaping from. He doesn't talk about anything personal...at all. 

There were a lot of twists and turns to the story and quite a bit of action that I wasn't expecting. I loved that. 

It's a great book. I definitely fell in love with both Jake and Oz. They're amazing characters. I definitely recommend this one.