Dirty For Me – book review

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Dirty For Me
by Jackie Ashenden
Release Date:  July 26, 2016
Publisher: Kensington
Book #1 in the Motor City Royals series
Number of Pages:  280
Kindle Edition
Source:  MCL
Contemporary Romance M/F
Rating:  XXX
Read 1/8/18 to 1/10/18

Wow!  Just wow!  This book was so hot I’m surprised it didn’t catch on fire.  Jackie Ashenden sure has a way of writing gritty, raunchy, smoking hot sex while still injecting the scenes with heart and a lot of feeling.  It’s crazy!

Tamara is a character that I wouldn’t typically like at first, but she was written with a vulnerability that made her a sympathetic character from the very start.  Even when, as Zee viewed her, she was a rich girl “slumming” to get her kicks.  I’ve seen quite a few reviews of this book that had people expressing the DNF because she “cheats”.  Do yourself a favor and read enough to get to know Tamara, her boyfriend, her parents, and that whole convoluted so-called relationship before closing the cover on this book.

I totally understand Zee’s reaction to Tamara when they first meet and why he does what he does to her.  His heart is definitely in the right place.  If there wasn’t so much chemistry between Zee and Tamara his scare tactics may have even worked.  He’s the quintessential bad boy with a heart of gold and he won me over pretty quickly.

I’d be hard pressed to tell you of another book I’ve read where the sex scenes are so raw and the characters are so rough with each other, yet I never felt like there’s an imbalance.  I never felt any sort of uneasiness because, like Tamara, I just knew Zee would never hurt her.  And the author made it super clear that the heroine was enjoying everything that was being dished out.  No hesitation, no doubts, she wanted it rough and wild.

As I got to the end of this book I was a bit worried.  There wasn’t a lot left to read and I felt that so much was still so up in the air.  Although this is only my second story by this author, I should have known better than to be worried.  She’s a pro.  Things play out as they should…although I’m not so sure Zee’s dad is what he was made out to be so I was a teeny, tiny bit disappointed in his reactions toward the end.  Yet I don’t really think we’ve seen the last of him.  I can’t wait to find out, and to read the stories of the rest of Zee’s “family”.

4.5 stars

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Single By Saturday – book review

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Single by Saturday
by Catherine Bybee
Release Date:  January 7, 2014
Publisher:  Montlake Romance
Contemporary Romance M/F
Book #4 in the Weekday Brides series
Number of Pages:  315
Kindle Edition
Source:  Kindle Lending Library (November selection)
Rating:  NC-17
Read 1/8/18 to 1/9/18

I know there are a lot of people out there that are not fans of insta-love.  I am not one of them.  Maybe because (sorry – about to get sappy) the first time I saw my husband I literally said to my friend, “I’m going to marry him.”  I was in 10th grade and we were friends for a while before even dating almost 2 years later, but the chemistry was always there with us and we have now been married over 25 years.  My point is, I don’t discount a story out of hand because of insta-love…when you know you know.  While this story definitely has an element of insta-love, it’s different since nobody can act on their feelings. 

If you read the previous book in this series, Fiancé by Friday, you know that the heroine in this book, Karen, is in a marriage of convenience to a gay movie star, Michael.  He needs a wife to keep his sexual orientation a secret and never intends for her to meet his family.  But she does.  And there is instant attraction between Karen and Michael’s brother, Zach.  Oh boy…this can get sticky.  Zach feels guilty for his reaction to Karen because IT’S HIS BROTHER’S WIFE!  Karen feels guilty because she doesn’t want to be the cause of any problems in Michael’s family.  Plus, Michael is her best friend and she loves him.

The pull Karen and Zach have throughout the story is wonderful.  The air between them sizzles and it’s crazy that Zach’s whole family doesn’t see their attraction to one another.  I was a bit disappointed to learn Zach had a girlfriend, although he does realize he has to break up with her regardless if there’s any hope with Karen or not.  Unfortunately, the girlfriend is the one person who does seem to feel the sparks between Zach and Karen.

There’s a lot going on in this story and we get to know Karen so much better than in the previous books.  We learn what really makes her tick and I couldn’t help but admire her determination.  Michael, on the other hand, lets me down a bit.  I don’t like posting spoilers, but let me just say that as great of a guy that he is I really wish he would have made a different decision in at least one area.

It was great to see Rick again in this story and I’m really happy we haven’t seen the last of Judy.  The next story has me very curious, especially having met Michael’s father and knowing Michael’s sister is going to be doing things in the story her dad surely won’t be happy about.

4 stars

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Max – book review

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Max
by Sawyer Bennett
Release Date:  December 13, 2016
Publisher:  Loveswept
Book #6 in the Cold Fury Hockey series
Number of pages:  306
Kindle Edition
Source: MCL
Contemporary Romance/Sports M/F
Rating: XXX
Read 1/7/2018 to 1/8/18

I haven’t had super strong feeling about Max in the previous book of this series one way or another.  Holy cow!  I love, love, love Max!  What a good soul he has.

There is such a thing as being too independent.  Case in point, Jules.  She’s a strong and loving woman, but she takes way too much on when she doesn’t have to.  I’m sure part of that is how she grew up and all of her responsibilities.  But she’s become blinded to the difference between asking for and accepting help and being needy.  Man, that woman had to be hit over the head with it before she realized it was okay to have a partner she could rely on.

As I already said, Max is wonderful.  Although he wasn’t one of the players who slept with any puck bunny he ran across, he also wasn’t necessarily looking to settle down and have an instant family.  Once he saw Jules and learned the things she had sacrificed (without looking at any of it as a sacrifice) he was a goner.  The two of them truly are a perfect fit.  Max is the type of man who is made to care for and nurture those around him.  While Jules also has these attributes, she is also great at getting things done.  They’re both extremely hard workers but Max makes Jules stop and smell the roses once in a while and Jules keeps everything running like a machine.

Jules may have driven me crazy with her resistance to Max’s financial help, but I’m also glad this story wasn’t the case of the hero swooping in and fixing everything while the “damsel” just sits back and lets him.  Jules is a wonderful heroine and a spectacular role model.

I absolutely adore the Cold Fury family, I never want this series to end!

FYI: This book runs parallel with book #5, Hawke.  But don’t worry, although they run on the same timeline there isn’t a lot of repetition.

4 stars

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Looking Back at 2017

Here we are again.  Another year older, another year wiser, another year under our belts.  Thank goodness that’s over!  I had made mention in my 2016 review that it had been a rough year all around.  I had such optimism for 2017!  Well, things definitely didn’t go as planned.  But I refuse to believe things won’t get better.  They will!  Hang in there dear readers!

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We had another busy year around here, starting with our youngest son proposing to his girlfriend.  Many of you know that Griffin is in the Army and had just been stationed in Washington right before Christmas 2016.  He proposed via Snapchat (kids!) at the end of January with plans to get married while he was home on leave in July.  Griffin and Kirsten got married at our local city hall and we had a lovely reception in my brother-in-law’s backyard.  My whole family pitched in with food and help decorating and planning.  It was a wonderful day.  You can find some photos from that day here.

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During all the crazy wedding planning my mother-in-law became very sick.  She lived 3 hours north of us although all of her doctors were down here.  (She lived in a small tourist town and didn’t have the options we have in our metropolitan area.)  Some tough choices needed to be made and she ended up having to move in with us and I went from being a mom with just grown children to a caregiver to my mother-in-law.  The good news is she is doing much better.  She’s even began moving into her own apartment this past weekend.  She’ll only be a few miles away so we are around in emergencies and she’s close to her docs, but the fact that she can be independent (to a point) again is a plus.

And yes, our oldest is still living at home in our basement.  He has a better job now, although still not what he considers a career.  But it’s allowing him to save up some money because he gets TONS of hours.  He also started back at school to finish up one more course this semester.  Hopefully he will have some doors opening up for him shortly.  He’s such a good kid.  Okay, adult.  He’ll always be a kid to me though.

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I have finally found my groove in becoming a more consistent blogger.  Of course, that’s because I’ve been writing about my passion…reading.  Plus, I’ve had time.  With my mother-in-law getting sick, I never got a job as I was hoping to do after the wedding.  On top of that, I spent a LOT of time in waiting rooms for her appointments.

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I had set my Goodreads reading goal at 150 books for 2017.  I once again exceeded that goal by reading 183 books.  I honestly don’t know if that would have been the case had I gotten a paying job rather than staying home to care for my MIL, but I’m not complaining about getting more reading time.

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I really love how the array of all my books read looks on Goodreads’ Year in Review.  Check it out.

I’m pretty happy with the way I’ve been able to tweak my monthly recaps throughout the year.  Although, truth be told, I’m not sure they’re accomplishing what I had originally hoped.  That was to help others find new ways to read and obtain books.  I’m sure that has to do with the fact that my readership is low (if you’re reading this, thank you for stopping by!).  I’m sure I’ll continue to post a monthly recap, but I’ll also continue tweaking it as I go along.

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One thing it has definitely helped me with is keeping track of my favorites throughout the year.  I rated 22 books with 5 stars throughout 2017.  I marked A List of Cages by Robin Roe and Harmless by Nicole Edwards as my very favorite of those.

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While it’s great to look back at my 2017 goals in my Looking Back post from a year ago, I realize I should have taken a quick peek once in a while throughout the year so I wouldn’t forget my goals.  I didn’t too bad though.  The thing I didn’t do well with is my intent to have one post a month of a more personal nature so my readers could get a better idea of who I am as a person.  I’m going to re-up, so to speak, on that one for 2018.  I find the hardest thing for me is to not get too wordy when writing anything personal.

As I mentioned before, I exceeded my book reading goal…so at least I did well on one goal!  For 2018, I once again set my goal for 150 books.  The reason being that I really do need to return to the working world (the one where I can get a pay check which doesn’t happen with this caregiver gig!) so know my reading will be taking a nosedive once I find a job.  I’m hoping it won’t nosedive so much that I cannot reach my goal though.  Reading brings me so much joy and I don’t want to lose that joy.

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How was your 2017?  Have you set any reading goals for 2018 or decided to do any reading challenges?  I’d love to hear from you.

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Tied Up, Tied Down – book review

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Tied Up, Tied Down
by Lorelei James
Release Date:  July 8, 2008
Publisher:  Samhain Publishing
Book #4 in the Rough Riders series
Number of pages:  265
Kindle Edition
Source:  MCL
Contemporary Romance/Western/Erotica M/F
Rating: XXX
Read 1/6/18 to 1/7/18

I had to wait a bit for this one from my online library, but it was so worth the wait.  A quick recap of my history with this series; I read the first three books in 2014 but was unable to find this 4th book to continue back then.  I had no strong feeling one way or another with the first book, Long Hard Ride.  I was not very impressed with the second book Rode Hard, Put Up Wet but saw enough potential in other characters that were introduced to keep giving it a try.  Then, with the 3rd book, Cowgirl Up and Ride, I felt the author started finding her groove with this series and was anxious to read more.

Kade McKay is introduced before this story and, in fact, has a pretty big role in the previous book.  Man, my heart really went out to the guy in that story.  The kindness and empathy I saw in Kade before certainly carried over into this book.  A lot of cowboy romance stories have the tough, womanizing cowboy who sleeps his way around and doesn’t want to settle down.  Usually these cowboys are up front with all they sleep with on the fact that they don’t want anything deep, but they still aren’t exactly looking for that white picket fence.  Kade, on the other hand, makes it now secret that he’s a family man and wants nothing more than to find the love of his life and spend his days in domestic bliss.  It didn’t make him weak or less of a manly cowboy, it made him sexy as sin!

The fact that Skylar doesn’t tell Kade about the baby from the start is totally understandable in this scenario.  Again, a bit different from what I’m used to things being.  I’m used to the baby mama going to lengths to hide the pregnancy and birth from the baby daddy.  Not so in this story.  It all had to do with circumstances.  Yet there are some things about Sky that don’t sit well with me.  That is totally by design though.  We get to see her wrestle with that control and realize that letting someone help you is not necessarily giving up control.

There are a lot of dynamics between Kade and his brother Kane (aka Buck!) that still need to be addressed.  I can only imagine we will see some of that all come to a head down the line in this series.  There are so many McKays (and Wests) that can be written about and I’m sure we haven’t heard the last of the Kade/Kane story.

I’m very pleased that I decided to continue this series.  With her more current stuff, Lorelei James is a favorite of mine.  I just knew if I stuck with it things would get better.

4.5 stars

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Serenity Harbor – book review

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Serenity Harbor
by RaeAnne Thayne
Release Date: June 27, 2017
Publisher:  HQN Books
Book #6 in the Haven Point series
Number of pages:  384
Kindle Edition
Source: MCL
Contemporary Romance M/F
Rating: PG
Read 1/1/18 to 1/4/18

Stepping back into Haven Point is like having coffee with an old friend.  It’s been far too long (over a year!) since I’ve been for a visit.

Before I get to the love story in this book, I want to talk about the friendship between Katrina and Sam.  Friends since early childhood, they suddenly find themselves moving along different paths.  Katrina still loves Sam and cherishes their friendship, but she’s ready for the next phase of her life while Sam is still into the flirting/dating scene.  The reactions and feelings Katrina has throughout this story are so true to life.  So many of us go through the same feelings as they feel themselves going in different directions from those they are close to and we don’t know how to “fix” things.  The friendships in this series are one of the things that make it so great.

Now onto the main part of this book, Katrina and Bowie.  And Milo.  And Gabi.  I really can’t see how anyone could resist falling for Kat.  She’s so kind and patient on top of being beautiful and generous.  All things that are evident before one even gets to know her on a deeper level.  As for Bowie; he has the same characteristics but it takes some getting to know him to see these attributes.  His dedication to his brother, Milo, is enough to make him seem like a decent guy even when he’s prickly. 

As much as I adore Katrina, her single-minded focus when it came to her goal of adopting Gabi were actually a negative.  It would seem it would be a positive thing to be focused on a goal and not let anything distract from that goal, but when you can’t see that there actually are some people who want to help you attain that goal it’s a problem.  I was so glad when that was finally pointed out to her.

To sum up the way this story made me feel, just read the very last paragraph.  Like being wrapped in your favorite warm, fluffy blanket.  All the feels!

4 stars

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Fake Wife – book review

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Fake Wife
By Stacey Lynn
Release Date: January 9, 2018
Publisher:  Loveswept
Standalone
Number of pages: 190
Kindle Edition
Source: ARC from Net Galley
Contemporary Romance M/F
Rating: XXX
Read 1/5/18 to 1/6/18

I’m a sucker for fake wife/fiancée stories, so they’re always a good bet when I’m trying out a new-to-me author.  This was a touching fake fiancée story with a huge dose of intsta-romance and I really enjoyed it immensely. 

There are a lot of things that could have been added to this story that would have bogged it down.  The author was very smart to keep certain things on a more peripheral level.  Such as the paparazzi aspect of being a local “celebrity” …it’s touched upon but isn’t allowed to overwhelm the story. 

The fact that Corbin is the very good-looking heir to a prominent and rich family led me to believe he would be a bit of a smug jerk.  Instead, he is a very sympathetic hero.  There is so much he has put up with and made concessions for throughout his life.  While he’s not happy about the way so many things in his life have panned out, he’s not exactly bitter either.  And he’s definitely a wonderful friend to those he trusts.

If you are ever having just a terrible day and think it’s the worst day ever, reading the beginning of this book may change your mind.  Teagan is truly having the worst day ever when this book starts.  The fact that she doesn’t have more issues is really a miracle after what she’s been through.  Not just that day, but in life in general.  I really appreciated that she was able to see, when everything came to a head between her and Corbin, that she really could trust him.  The author took a different angle on this than you usually read and Teagan didn’t need to be hit upside the head to know what the truth of their relationship was.

I’ve really been having a great time with some new-to-me authors lately.  Many of them, like Stacey Lynn, have a bit of a back library for me to go through, too.  Now to find the time to read all the books!

4 stars

**I received an ARC of this book courtesy of Net Galley and the publisher.  All opinions expressed are my own and given freely. **

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