Alex – book review

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Alex
by Sawyer Bennett
Release Date:  October 14, 2014
Publisher: Loveswept
Book #1 in the Cold Fury Hockey series
Number of pages: 434
Kindle Edition
Source: MCL
Contemporary Romance/Sports M/F
Rating: XXX
Read 8/13/17 – 8/14/17

Before reading this book, I had previously read two ARCs by this author.  While I thoroughly enjoyed both stories, I’m so glad I decided to look at my online library to see what was available from her.  I loved this book!

First, for some reason I absolutely adore the name of the heroine, Sutton.  The name fits her somehow and really stuck with me.  As for the character, I adore her, too.  She’s smart and humble and caring and sassy and sexy.  She didn’t take any guff and wouldn’t back down from a challenge.  She’s exactly what Alex needed.

Alex is a jerk.  He’s known as the MVP, Most Valuable Prick, by fans of his hockey team.  He may be the best player, but he’s also the most aloof and disrespectful.  There is such a good reason for his attitude, and Sutton takes the time to find out the reason and try to support Alex.  Even when Alex tries to push back.

As big of a tool as Alex is, when it comes to Sutton he just can’t (usually) be a jerk to her without immediate regret and apologies.  Don’t worry, this story is not a cycle of him being a jerk and her being a forgiving bubble head.  He’s actually rarely his “normal” self with her, which is what makes their relationship so tender to watch develop.

Not only were Sutton and Alex great, but all of the cast of characters kept me engaged.  From Sutton’s little brother to Alex’s teammates.  It was especially fun getting to know Garrett so I’m excited that his book is next.  He’s a very insightful guy when it comes to other people, I’m curious to see how insightful he is when it comes to his own feelings.

4.5 stars

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Hot Cowboy Nights – book review

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Hot Cowboy Nights
by Carolyn Brown
Release Date:  May 31, 2016
Publisher: Forever
Contemporary Romance/Western M/F
Book #2 of the Lucky Penny Ranch series
Number of Pages:  400
Kindle Edition
Source:  MCL
Rating:  R
Read 8/11/17 – 8/12/17

I mentioned in my review of the first book of this series that I wasn’t crazy about this author the first time I read a book by her.  I was glad that I had given her another shot because I enjoyed Wild Cowboy Ways.  I’m happy to report that I liked this story even more.  I’m starting to think my first experience with the author was a fluke. 

The character of Lizzy was by far not a favorite of mine in the first book.  I knew this story would be hers, but I also knew it would be Toby’s.  And I wanted to get to know Toby better.  Lizzy has some moments where even she is trying to wrestle with her thought process when she was engaged to Mitch.  That went a long way to helping me to see another side of her and get to even start liking her at the beginning of this story.  By the end I found Lizzy to be fierce (in a good way) and lovely.

Toby cracked me up.  I swear, these books about cowboys that don’t want to settle down…it amuses me up.  I loved reading his arguments with himself.  His heart sure knew he was a goner long before his brain would get on board.  I cannot wait until a book that does the same with the character of Deke.  I know that man is just a softy at heart with the way he treats all the women in his life.

The chemistry between Toby and Lizzy is off the charts.  I can’t tell you how many times I got warm-fuzzies while reading this story.  They were really very sweet with each other and they melted my heart.  There was a time or two I thought one or the other would fly off the handle about something without talking things through, but that never really happened.  Well, once…but Lizzy was really stressed at the time so I can forgive her.

I was hoping that Fiona (the sister we barely know) would be Deke’s kryptonite, but it seems the next story has her pairing off with Jud (the cousin we barely know).  That’s okay, I’m coming to trust this author since that initial hiccup.  I’m sure I’ll enjoy the tale she weaves.

4 stars

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So Bad It Must Be Good – book review

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So Bad It Must Be Good
by Nicole Helm
Release Date:  August 22, 2017
Publisher:  Lyrical Press
Book #2 in the Gallagher & Ivy series
Number of pages:  198
Kindle Edition
Source: Net Galley ARC
Contemporary Romance M/F
Rating: XXX
Read 8/11/17

Although I enjoyed the first book in this series, this book was better.  There were so many emotions through this story and it totally broke my heart.  As I mentioned in my review of So Wrong It Must Be Right, Kayla was actually my favorite character.  I liked her from the start and felt for her and how she was treated by her family.

What I didn’t expect was the treatment Liam gets from his family.  Without giving anything away, I must say that things that seemed minor in the beginning really became significant as this story went along.  Like Kayla, I was furious with Liam’s family once I realized how deep their dependency went and how shallow their support was. His mother is actually a vile person that I don’t understand in any way, shape, or form.  Even after the reader gets a “reason” for her actions.

The chemistry between Liam and Kayla was not just hot, it was warm.  As in, lots and lots of warm-fuzzies!  I love it and Liam made me feel like I was wrapped in a warm blanket.  The way he, more than once, had to turn around from what he was doing to go back and give Kayla a kiss…swoon-worthy.

I like the previous two books I read by Nicole Helm, but now I’m starting to get excited about her books.  And I’m beyond happy that I have the next book in the A Mile High Romance series already waiting on my Kindle.

4 stars

**I received an ARC of this book courtesy of Net Galley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review**

 

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Deep – book review

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Deep
by Kylie Scott
Release Date:  March 31, 2015
Publisher:  St. Martin’s Griffin
Book #4 in the Stage Dive series
Number of pages:  271
Kindle Edition
Source: MCL
Contemporary Romance M/F
Rating: XXX
Read 8/10/17

The character of Ben has always been in the background of this series, but doesn’t have that in your face personality of the others in the band.  In Lick it was hard to know if he was even likable.  We don’t get to know him enough in that one to really make a decision on that.  But by the time I read Lead I really liked Ben a lot.  It’s kind of like he’s the backbone of the band without them even realizing it.

It’s been no secret throughout the series that there was something going on with Ben and Lizzy, we just didn’t know what it was.  Were they just flirting from afar or were they hooking up behind everyone’s backs?  This book answers those questions and it was a great story…not quite what I expected. 

Ben really tugged at my heart-strings.  I understood why he tried to keep his distance from Lizzy and I even understood how that came off as him running hot and cold with her.  I absolutely loved the text messages between them throughout the story.  They were very sweet and helped me, as the reader, watch their feelings grow.  I also loved how protective Lizzy was of Ben, even when he was being a jerk.  He was so blind to how his sister treated him and it killed me!

Kylie Scott did a wonderful job of helping me feel Lizzy’s emotions.  The push and pull between her and Ben was palpable.  The emotions between everyone else in the band and their significant others were so intense, there was really a lot going on.  But the author kept it all under control and the story never got away from itself. 

The bad news: This was the last book in the Stage Dive series and I’m caught up in the Dive Bar series with the next book not due out until next Spring!  The good news:  I’ve been hearing wonderful things about Ms. Scott’s newest book, so I can still hunt down a copy of Trust and enjoy her writing.  Not to mention the other books in her library that aren’t part of the Stage Dive/Dive Bar universe I haven’t read yet.

4.5 stars

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Just Kiss Me – book review

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Just Kiss Me
By Rachel Gibson
Release Date: July 26, 2016
Publisher: Avon
Standalone
Number of pages: 384
Kindle Edition
Source: MCL
Contemporary Romance M/F
Rating: NC-17
Read 8/8/17 – 8/9/17

Not only is Rachel Gibson a new-to-me author, but she also looks to have quite a few books I’ll be able to get from my online library.  Since I really enjoyed this story, that’s a big Yay!!!

There were so many great things about this book.  The hero, Henry, is patient and kind even if Vivian is being a bit curt with him at first.  To be fair to Vivian, she has some old baggage when it comes to Henry and his family so she has reasons to keep a protective wall up with him.  The thing is, that wall keeps slipping.  It’s hard to resist a kind, sexy, strong shoulder to lean on.

I wasn’t sure if Nonnie or Spence or even Henry could fully win me over, but somehow they did…eventually.  Honestly, the same goes for Vivian.  After all, she is a Hollywood superstar who has a big chip on her shoulder.  Her attitude could make or break this book.  Luckily, the author did a wonderful job and it made the book.

There were things most readers will see coming from a mile away, but that’s okay.  It was still fun to read how it played out.  Although there was one small part that had me worried.  There is a whole scene between Vivian and Henry in one chapter that is basically recapped in the next chapter as the characters are remembering their time together.  Since this is my first read of a Rachel Gibson book, I wasn’t sure if this was something the author is known to do at that was going to repeat throughout the book.  Thankfully, it was just the one time so I think it was just a fluke.

Not only was this story fun, but it also gave me all the feels.  That’s a good thing when reading this genre.  I hope I find all of this author’s other books as engaging as this one.

4 stars

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Gather the Daughters – book review

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Gather the Daughters
by Jennie Melamed
Release Date:  July 25, 2017
Publisher:  Little Brown and Company
Stand Alone
Number of pages:  352
Kindle Edition
Source: ARC from Net Galley
Adult Fiction/Dystopia
Rating: R
Read 7/23/17 to 8/5/17

Do you remember this post from a couple of weeks ago.  At the time I wanted to tell you about a book I was reading that was celebrating its publication day.  I hate not finishing an ARC before publication day, but (I know you’re sick of hearing about it) the wedding kept me hopping.  I said I hoped I didn’t regret recommending the book before finishing it since that’s not something I would normally do.  I do NOT regret the early recommendation.  I loved this book!

Really, the story starts off quite subtly to me.  There are a few characters that get their own POV (don’t worry, the chapters are marked so you know whose POV you’re getting each time) so it takes a few chapters to get with the flow and get to know each voice.  Since this is a dystopian story those first few chapters are also used to get the reader familiar with the island this society lives on…their customs, rules, idiosyncrasies, etc.  This is not a dystopian novel in the way of The Stand or V for Vendetta or The Hunger Games, where you know almost immediately what the conflict is and that there will be a battle or fight of some kind at some point.  No, this is much more under the radar…like The Handmaid’s Tale (the book, I haven’t had a chance to check out the show on HULU yet).  You know there’s something off, then you know what it is that is off but don’t know what anyone will do about it, then you start to see the whole picture.

I can’t say much about specific characters or how I feel about said characters without spoiling some things.    But I want to say that in the end I felt that all the women (including the girls…they truly are women though because of the issues they must deal with) are strong in their own ways.  I can very easily look at Janey and say she’s the strongest, I can even say Vanessa is a pretty strong person.  Once I really begin to see the whole picture I realize that even Caitlyn’s mom is strong.  I may not agree with her choices, I may not understand her choices, I may be angry about her choices…but she was surviving and making sure her daughter did, too. 

Which brings the question: When is it worth surviving and when is what we have to sacrifice to survive not worth it?  Each of the women in this story have different answers to that question, which is evident with the way they each live their lives.  The same can be said for some of the men, also.  Especially those that think they know how their society is being run but learn that they are maybe not as in the know as they think they are.

I truly cannot say much more, I want you to discover the many layers of this story for yourself.  I can tell you that this would make an excellent book club selection.  There are so many theories running through my mind that it would be great to talk to my book club about what their thoughts are.  Also, I saw some people questioning if this would be good for a teen.  It depends on the teen and I would strongly suggest you read it before giving it to any of your underage readers.  I give this one an R rating for a reason.  And it’s definitely not for younger teens, I think some of the things would be over their heads.

I believe this is Jennie Melamed’s debut novel.  She looks to have a great future in writing if I were to judge by this book.

4.5 stars

**I received an ARC of this book courtesy of Net Galley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review**

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Don’t Call Me Sweetheart – book review

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Don’t Call Me Sweetheart
by Codi Gary
Release Date:  August 15, 2017
Publisher:  Lyrical Shine
Book #1 in the Something Borrowed series
Number of pages:  196
Kindle Edition
Source: ARC from Net Galley
Contemporary Romance M/F
Rating: XXX
Read 8/4/17 to 8/5/17

I really enjoyed this story and I’m looking forward to reading more from this new-to-me author.  The premise and setting were wonderful.  I did have a hard time believing nobody from any of these weddings catches on to the “fake” bridesmaid thing…I’m assuming everyone in this small town knows what they women at Something Blue do for a living.  But I could look beyond that point.  And it was definitely feasible that Marley could get away with it for the particular wedding this story is about.

Luke, the hero, is wonderful.  I wish his past could have been a bit more fleshed out.  Yet, Luke in the present was enough for the story being told.  (Although I found it odd that the fact that he has money never seemed to come up…especially later in the story when it would have had a reason to be known.) The way Marley and Luke bantered from the very beginning was delightful.  It’s like they couldn’t NOT flirt with each other and I loved it.

Lately, authors are surprising me (in a good way) in the books I’m reading.  I saw the writing on the wall on this one so far in advance…I knew exactly what the major conflict would be and I knew I was going to get pissed at Luke for that conflict.  NOPE!  Instead, this story went beyond where I thought it would go and instead, once that climactic conflict reared its head, I was pissed at Marley.  Up until that point I totally understood where she was coming from with her confidentiality agreement.  I didn’t agree but I understood.  The other issue that came up later I did not understand.  So this author tricked me and gave me something I didn’t expect.  Sure I got mad at Marley, but I was supposed to get mad at her.  Job well done Ms. Gary.

This would be a fun book to take on vacation or to read on your lunch break at work…it’s a great escape from the real world.  There are a few dark elements that are mentioned in this story, but all in all it’s a light read.

3.5 stars

**I received an ARC of this book courtesy of Net Galley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review**

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