Review: Headmaster by Tara Sue Me

HEADMASTER
Series: Lessons from the Rack #2
Genre: Contemporary BDSM Romance
Author: Tara Sue Me
Release Date: January 16, 2018

The New York Times bestselling author of the Submissive novels delivers a scintillating new erotic romance, where two instructors redefine the phrase “teacher’s pet” . . . .

Lennox MacLure, owner of the RACK Academy, has sworn off the Dominant/submissive lifestyle.

Years ago, his submissive, Winnie, died in a car accident following a heated argument for which he blames himself.

Guilt-ridden and emotionally closed off, Lennox sees the academy as both his punishment and penance for her death.

Mariela, a dance instructor and a natural submissive, was Winnie’s best friend and longs to help Lennox move past his grief. She’s accepted that he will never see her as anything more than a friend, but she still wants to help him acknowledge what he needs.

Mariela comes up with a plan of seduction, guaranteed to unleash the Dominant he’s willfully buried—but the passion they unleash could prove to be stronger than they are ready to handle.

 

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Admittedly, this author is a hit-or-miss for me. He last few books have been misses but the moment I saw the blurb for Headmaster, I just couldn’t help but read it. For one, I couldn’t resist the good old unrequited love trope. Second, I also couldn’t resist a dead ex trope. This book had both.

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Headmaster falls smack dab in the middle of my like-dislike scale. There are certain things that I really didn’t care much for while there are a few that I really, really liked.

Number one of my ‘Really, really liked’ list is the heroine, Mariela. She’s hired by Lennox to teach in his BDSM academy, RACK. She’s a submissive who’s in love with the hero for a long time. And she also happens to be the best friend of Winnie, the hero’s dead ex.

While she has been carrying a torch for the hero since the beginning, she wasn’t a pushover. Her being a submissive is a choice. She’s not timid or easily intimidated by the hero. She could hold her own. I liked how she admits her feelings for the hero without losing her independence or pitying herself, etc.

Mariela also made Lennox likable. I didn’t like Lennox much but I love his banter with Mariela. I also liked the BDSM aspect to the book. It’s there and it’s a big part of the hero and heroine but it doesn’t overwhelm the reader with the ins and outs of BDSM.

The plot was okay. There were high emotional points which I really enjoyed, while there are some stuff which I’m meh about. And that brings me to Lennox.

I’m torn about him. He’s a tortured individual, so full of guilt because he chose the wrong girl and she died. His “I’m so tortured, I can’t be a Dom and fall in love again” got tiring after a while. And if it hadn’t been for Mariela, who I adored, I would’ve DNF’d this book. But to be fair, he did grow as a character.

That said there were moments where I’m not quite sure whether he fell in love with Mariela because she was more compatible than Winnie ever was. And I would totally understand if other readers would take issue with the fact that Lennox did choose Winnie over Mariela. She wasn’t in his radar at all. He knew her as his girl Winnie’s best friend for years. And I missed the moment where he starts to fall in love with her because at the start of the book, they already have this ‘will they, won’t they succumb to their feelings’ thing going on.

Despite that, I still enjoyed this overall. I loved Mariela and liked their romance overall.

Geri & Lana’s Review: The Ones Who Got Away by Roni Loren

THE ONES WHO GOT AWAY
Series: The Ones Who Got Away #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: Roni Loren
Release Date: January 2, 2018

Liv’s words cut off as Finn got closer. The man approaching was nothing like the boy she’d known. The bulky football muscles had streamlined into a harder, leaner package and the look in his deep green eyes held no trace of boyish innocence.

It’s been twelve years since tragedy struck the senior class of Long Acre High School.

Only a few students survived that fateful night—a group the media dubbed The Ones Who Got Away.

Liv Arias thought she’d never return to Long Acre—until a documentary brings her and the other survivors back home.

Suddenly her old flame, Finn Dorsey, is closer than ever, and their attraction is still white-hot.

When a searing kiss reignites their passion, Liv realizes this rough-around-the-edges cop might be exactly what she needs…

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GERI’S REVIEW

Broken glass still made art. Sometimes the most beautiful kind.”

My 2018 is off to a good start with The Ones Who Got Away by Roni Loren. This book packs an emotional punch, filled with complex characters and nuanced storytelling.

The Ones Who Got Away is about a group of friends who were survivors of a tragic school shooting. Finn Dorsey and Olivia Arias might have survived the shooting physically but the emotional wounds they carried had affected them profoundly. It is especially hard for both Finn and Liv because the shooting ended their burgeoning relationship back then.

I was a little wary going in because of the sensitive topic. At the same time, I was really looking forward to how that aspect of the story is handled. In my own opinion, it was handled well by the author.

That could definitely get messy.”
“We’ve always been messy, Livvy. That’s what makes it so good.”

The romance between Finn and Liv was beautifully done. I want to avoid spoilers as much as possible so I won’t go into the details of their romance while they were in high school and why they broke up. What I do want to mention was how mature their romance is in the present. There was no unnecessary drama between these characters. There’s tension, yes and obstacles they have to face but they deal with it like adults, which is really refreshing.

I love Liv so much. She’s a complex character with her own dreams and wants and issues. The way she dealt with the tragedy was heartbreaking. I love LOVE her friendship with the other female survivors. Their friendship and bond was featured prominently in the book, which I adored because I’m a sucker for female friendship in books.

Finn, like Liv, is another awesome character. He has his own way of dealing with the trauma. Except for his single-minded focus and devotion to his job, he’s basically stopped living. I liked how the author was able to succinctly present the hero’s arc and made us root for him despite his mistakes in the past.

Overall, The Ones Who Got Away was a poignant, character driven second-chance romance that will melt your heart.


LANA’S REVIEW

She’d been pretty in high school. Quirky cool. But now she was just flat-out beautiful. And successful. And hella smart. And offfuckinglimits.

Poignant, sensual, and truly unforgettable. I’m absolutely blown away by The Ones Who Got Away and can’t wait for more in this series!

I’ve been a huge fan of this author since I first read Crash into You years ago. There’s something about her writing that just wraps around you and…sticks. She wrote some of my most favorite sizzling BDSM romance. Yet nothing prepared me for this book. I expected it to be great, it’s Roni Loren after all. I simply wasn’t expecting it to effect me as much as it did. I give Loren so much respect for daring to take on such a sensitive subject matter and not turning it into fodder, but making it poignant and memorable. It was completely unforgettable.

How do you move on as one of the few survivors of a devastating and deadly school shooting? Twelve years later, Liv Morris is still struggling with the answer. Back in a town she swore she’d never come back to, she finds herself wandering the halls of her old high school. A documentary that will be sharing the proceeds with the families of victims and research to help prevent tragedies like that happening again are cause enough for her to come back. But what she’s not prepared for is to run into the love of her past.

Finn Dorsey was the golden boy of the town, a football superstar, son of an influential family, while she was the girl from the wrong side of the tracks. They were polar opposites yet something drew them together only to be tragically torn apart due to impossible choices made in a terrible time that they both regret. But Finn isn’t the boy he used to be anymore. He’s hardened, changed, and full of regret. Olivia is also not the girl he used to know and it doesn’t take long for the sparks between them to reignite.

I hope you are selfishly using me right now to get off.” She laughed, breathless from his clever fingers. “Oh, I’m completely doing that. Have you seen you?” His expression went old-school Finn—all cocky and sly. “I have. I’ve been in an exclusive relationship with myself for a few years. I’m amazing in bed.”
“So I’ve heard. This morning, in fact. Glad I get to join in this time.”

Aside from their fantastic banter, there were plenty of other things to love about these characters. I loved the woman that Liv became. She’s a quiet sort of strength and while she’s not where she thought she’d be as a naive girl back in high school, she’s determined to change her life now.

Finn was simply devastating. Man but my heart broke for him. He has so much guilt over what happened to Liv during the shooting. And even though he’s dedicated his life to ensuring that what happened to them doesn’t happen again, he’s lost sight of the boy he used to be. All he’s known is his job and it’s slowly eaten away at his very soul. He’s not surprised that it takes the vivacious Liv to remind him of what he once craved and crave it all over again. The chemistry between them was completely incendiary but also quirky and sweet.

You okay, Batman?”
“No, you’ve killed me. I’m now speaking to you from the great beyond.” She laughed. “Is it nice there?”
“So nice.”
“Are there unicorns?”
He reached out and brushed his thumb along her lips. “You’re weird, Arias.”
“I know. You can be Oddly Hot. I’ll be Weirdly Sexy. We’ll be a crime-fighting duo.”

In addition to their romance, there were secondary characters introduced in the form of the other survivors that I was immediately hooked on. I can’t wait to get their stories; Rebecca in particular.

If you’re looking for a story that’s full of meaning and romance and a step outside of the typical, this is most definitely a must read.

Roni wrote her first romance novel at age fifteen when she discovered writing about boys was way easier than actually talking to them. Since then, her flirting skills haven’t improved, but she likes to think her storytelling ability has. She holds a master’s degree in social work and spent years as a mental health counselor, but now she writes full time from her cozy office in Dallas, Texas where she puts her characters on the therapy couch instead. She is a two-time RITA Award winner and a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author.

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Blog Tour & Review of Team Player Anthology

SBPR-BLT.jpgTEAM PLAYER
Genre: Sports Romance
Authors: LJ Shen, Emma Scott, Kate Stewart, Meghan Quinn
Release Date: December 14, 2017

 Hot jocks. We love them all.

Sexy baseball players. Intense footballers. Sweaty MMA fighters, and sizzling hockey hotties. Score!

The good news? Eleven bestselling authors have gathered to give you a set of stories focused on the men we love most—sports heroes.

We bet you’ll love this thick…book.

The bad news? The men in these novellas don’t actually exist.

*This anthology does not contain calories, just eleven original, never-before-seen stories by the following authors: Adriana Locke, Mandi Beck, Charleigh Rose, Kennedy Ryan, LJ Shen, Meghan Quinn, Rochelle Paige, Ella Fox, Kate Stewart, Emma Scott, and Sara Ney. We aren’t responsible for melted devices.

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4 Douchebag-Man-Whore Stars!! (Review of The End Zone by L.J. Shen)

You wanna know what this book is about?

This book is about L.J. Shen making the Douchebag-Man-Whore her bitch.

This book is exactly why I love L.J. Shen. Like Sara Ney, L.J.Shen can make me hate/love the douchebag.

Sage is a Grade-A Douchebag-Man-Whore. He is the college quarterback, soon to be drafted, and can get anything he wants, including women. After a recent incident, he is lusting after his roommate, Jolie. He has never felt anything for her before now. Sage and Jolie have been best friends since they were kids. Jolie has been in lurrrrve with Sage since then as well, but OF COURSE he doesn’t know it, and OF COURSE he is a Douchebag-Man-Whore. There is no way she is going to put herself out there only to get hurt and lose her best friend in the process.

I love love love the fake relationship stories, and that is exactly what happens. Sage convinces Jo Jo to be his fake girlfriend, and it quickly escalates into something more. Were there a couple of predictable cliché moments? You betcha. Did I care? Not one bit. I read this book in one sitting and enjoyed every second.

I loved this short by L.J. Shen. I wish it was a full book, and those are the best kind of novellas.

LJ Shen

L.J. Shen is an International #1 best-selling author of Contemporary Romance and New Adult novels. She lives in Northern California with her husband, young son and chubby cat.

Before she’d settled down, L.J. (who thinks referring to herself in the third person is really silly, by the way) traveled the world, and collected friends from all across the globe. Friends who’d be happy to report that she is a rubbish companion, always forgets people’s birthdays and never sends Christmas cards.

She enjoys the simple things in life, like spending time with her family and friends, reading, HBO, Netflix and internet-stalking Stephen James. She reads between three to five books a week and firmly believes Crocs shoes and mullets should be outlawed.

Connect with LJ Shen

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Kennedy Ryan:

Kennedy Ryan is a Southern girl gone Southern California. A Top 100 Amazon Bestseller, Kennedy writes romance about remarkable women who find a way to thrive even in tough times, the love they find, and the men who cherish them.

She is a wife to her lifetime lover and mother to an extraordinary son. She has always leveraged her journalism background to write for charity and non-profit organizations, but enjoys writing to raise Autism awareness most. A contributor for Modern Mom Magazine, Kennedy’s writings have appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul, USA Today and many others. The founder and executive director of a foundation serving Georgia families living with Autism, Kennedy has appeared on Headline News, Montel Williams, NPR and other outlets as a voice for families living with autism.

Connect with Kennedy

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Adriana Locke:

A contemporary romance author running on coffee and sticky kisses from my rowdy four little boys.

From Indiana, I’m a true Mid-Westerner. Life, for me, is about family, faith, and food. When I’m not running my kiddos around or having a lunch date of fajitas with my husband (and high school sweetheart), you can find me outside. I love a good sunny day almost as much as I love candy, random quotes, and steamy bad boys in fantastic books.

I’m on nearly every social media platform. Please find me on the ones you frequent – I love chatting with readers.

Connect with Adriana

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Mandi Beck:

Mandi Beck has been an avid reader all of her life. A deep love for books always had her jotting down little stories on napkins, notebooks, and her hand. As an adult she was further submerged into the book world through book clubs and the epicness of social media. It was then that she graduated to writing her stories on her phone and then finally on a proper computer.

A nursing student, mother to two rambunctious and somewhat rotten boys, and stepmom to two great girls away at college, she shares her time with her husband in Chicago where she was born and raised. Mandi is a diehard hockey fan and blames the Blackhawks when her deadlines are not met.

Connect with Mandi

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Emma Scott:

I write romances with flawed characters, characters with artistic hearts: builders, poets, and writers of various makes and models. I love to write book lovers; those who have found refuge, companionship, and escape in books, much as we do in real life. I like realism, honesty, authenticity in storytelling. I love to write about enduring love, soul-deep love, in as real a setting as I can make, but with big smooshy HEAs. I believe in diversity, open-mindedness, and inclusion. I like sweetness mixed with steam, love conquering all, and above all, hope. Love always wins.

Connect with Emma

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Charleigh Rose:

We are a duo of an international best-selling author and a blogger who teamed up to write the taboo, thought-provoking stories we want our audience to have–without filters.

Both Charleigh and Rose are committed to giving you witty, sexy, intelligent novels that will leave you wanting more.

Connect with Charleigh

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Ella Fox:

When she’s not writing, Ella indulges the gypsy in her blood and travels the country. Ella loves reading, movies, music, buying make-up, reading Tmz, Twitter and pedicures… not necessarily in that order. She has a wild sense of humor and loves to laugh. Her favorite thing in the world is hanging out with her family and watching comedy movies.

Connect with Ella

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Sara Ney:

Sara Ney is the USA Today Bestselling Author of the How to Date a Douchebag series, and is best known for her sexy, laugh-out-loud New Adult romances. Among her favorite vices, she includes: iced latte’s, historical architecture and well-placed sarcasm. She lives colorfully, collects vintage books, art, loves flea markets, and fancies herself British.

Connect with Sara

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Meghan Quinn:

A BLONDE AT HEART

Born in New York and raised in Southern California, Meghan has grown into a sassy, peanut butter eating, blonde haired swearing, animal hoarding lady. She is known to bust out and dance if “It’s Raining Men” starts beating through the air and heaven forbid you get a margarita in her, protect your legs because they may be humped.

Once she started commuting for an hour and twenty minutes every day to work for three years, she began to have conversations play in her head, real life, deep male voices and dainty lady coos kind of conversations. Perturbed and confused, she decided to either see a therapist about the hot and steamy voices running through her head or start writing them down. She decided to go with the cheaper option and started writing… enter her first novel, Caught Looking.

Now you can find the spicy, most definitely on the border of lunacy, kind of crazy lady residing in Colorado with the love of her life and her five, furry four legged children, hiking a trail or hiding behind shelves at grocery stores, wondering what kind of lube the nervous stranger will bring home to his wife. Oh and she loves a good boob squeeze!

Connect with Meghan

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Kate Stewart:

Kate Stewart lives in Charleston, S.C. with her husband, Nick, and her naughty beagle, Sadie. A native of Dallas, Kate moved to Charleston three weeks after her first visit, dropping her career of 8 years, and declaring it her creative muse. Kate pens messy, sexy, angst-filled contemporary romance as well as romantic comedy and erotic suspense because it’s what she loves as a reader. A lover of all things ’80s and ’90s, especially John Hughes films and rap, she dabbles a little in photography, can knit a simple stitch scarf for necessity only and does a horrible job of playing the ukulele. Aside from running a mile without collapsing, traveling is the only other must on her bucket list. On occasion, she does very well at vodka.

Connect with Kate

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Rochelle Paige:

Rochelle Paige is the Amazon bestselling author of nineteen books. She absolutely adores reading and her friends growing up used to tease her when she trailed after them, trying to read and walk at the same time. She loves stories with alpha males, sassy heroines, hot sex and happily ever afters. She is a bit of a genre hopper in both her reading and her writing. So far she’s written books in several romance sub-genres including new adult, contemporary, paranormal and romantic suspense.

She is the mother of two wonderful sons who inspired her to chase her dream of being an author. She wants them to learn from her that you can live your dream as long as you are willing to work for it.

Connect with Rochelle

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New Release & Review: Man Hands by @SarinaBowen & @Blunder_Woman

MAN HANDS
Series: Man Hands #1
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Author: Sarina Bowen & Tanya Eby
Release Date: December 11, 2017

He puts the “screw” in screwball comedy…

BRYNN

At thirty-four, I’m reeling from a divorce. I don’t want to party or try to move on. I just want to stay home and post a new recipe on my blog: Brynn’s Dips and Balls.

But my friends aren’t having it. Get out there again, they say. It will be fun, they say. I’m still taking a hard pass.

Free designer cocktails, they say. And that’s a game-changer.

Too bad my ex shows up with his new arm candy. That’s when I lose my mind. But when my besties dare me to leap on the first single man I see, they don’t expect me to actually go through with it.

TOM

All I need right now is some peace and quiet while my home renovation TV show is on hiatus. But when a curvy woman in a red wrap dress charges me like she’s a gymnast about to mount my high bar, all I can do is brace myself and catch her. What follows is the hottest experience of my adult life.

I want a repeat, but my flying Cinderella disappears immediately afterward. She doesn’t leave a glass slipper, either—just a pair of panties with chocolate bunnies printed on them.

But I will find her.

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I want this woman with every ounce of my being. Since I’m six-three and two hundred fifteen pounds, that’s a lot of ounces.


Dear author duo, I have only one thing to say to you about any and all of your future releases together.

Oh yeah. It’s like that. We’re totes besties now.

Side note: I just threw up in my mouth a little from actually typing the words totes and besties.

But I digress as always. So where was I? Ah yes. Deez nuts. I mean, deez book. I mean this book. For goodness sake. I spend one evening with this book and my inner sassy will not be contained.

Let’s simplify it—we’re looking for a man instead of what you’ve been attracted to.”
“What have I been attracted to?”
“Gwyneth Paltrow, I’m pretty sure. And every time I see her on TV, I just want to kick her.”


Aside from the laugh out loud story, the ridiculously endearing main characters, what completely hooked me on Man Hands was the friendship between Brynn and her girlfriends. It was like watching a comedic version of Sex and the City. And I’m not just saying that because I believe that her best friend Ash is my spirit animal. I couldn’t get enough of these three completely different personalities together and their obviously tight bond and love for each other.

Brynn was easily one of my favorite female characters I’ve read this year. Coming off of a recent divorce of an entirely lackluster marriage, Brynn isn’t looking for Mr. Right. But when her friends tell her to move on with her life by getting under some hot stranger, she doesn’t take the advice lightly. She jumps right on it. Literally.

I wind her hair around my hand and quietly convert carpentry fractions into decimals. Three eighths is .375. Five eighths is…
She gives a good, hard suck.
“POINT SIX TWO FIVE!” I bellow.
Her mouth makes a popping sound as she releases me. “Come again?”
“I’m trying not to,” I gasp.

But what was supposed to be one night of pleasure, turns into something much more. Her random stranger can’t stop thinking about her and won’t rest until he tracks her down and makes her give them a chance.

Did I mention yet how much I freaking LOVED Tom? Because OMG! I freaking LOVED Tom. Here’s an alpha male that doesn’t take himself too seriously and I loved him all the more for it. He’s funny, endearing, sexy as all get out, and impossible not to like. SERIOUSLY.

How do you think we should celebrate?”
“Chocolate and sex,” I whisper.
“Mmm,” he groans into my ear. “I’ll bring truffles and my dick.”

Man Hands was easily one of the funniest, entertaining, and quirky romances I’ve read all year. I had a goofy grin on my face from beginning to finish. Between the shenanigans of the main characters and the shenanigans of the secondary characters, I was in stitches reading it.

There’s no crazy drama. There’s no huge misunderstanding. There’s no angst. Just a light-hearted, romantic, and sexy romp that’s full of laughs and memorable one-liners. It unrolled like the perfect romcom movie in my head as I read it, and I simply can’t recommend it enough if you need something cheerful, uplifting, sweet and romantic. This girl loved every page of it.

Geri’s Review: Holiday Wishes by Jill Shalvis

HOLIDAY WISHES
Series: Heartbreaker Bay #4.5
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: Jill Shalvis
Release Date: November 7, 2017

It’s Christmastime again in Heartbreaker Bay!

When Sean O’Riley shows up at the Hartford Bed & Breakfast for his older brother’s bachelor weekend, he’s just hoping to make it through the weekend.

What he’s not expecting is to come face to face with the woman he lost his virginity to a decade ago—a woman he’s never really forgotten.

The last time Lotti Hartford saw Sean, she told him she loved him while he said nothing. Now, ten years later, she’s just looking for a good time.

For once, she wants to be the wild and free one, and Sean – the good time guy – is the perfect candidate.

But as the weekend continues, Sean realizes that after a lifetime of being the hook-up king, he’s ready to find happily-ever-after, and he wants it with Lotti. But will she open her heart to him again?

As Christmas sweeps through the little B&B, he can only hope love and magic are in the air.

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What makes a perfect holiday read?

For one, it has to be sweet. Nothing says holiday novella than a sweet, satisfying romance that make your toes curl. Holiday Wishes has plenty of romance, and yes, it’s sweet and satisfying, just the way I like it.

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Two, it has to be the right length. Look, holiday season often means, you’re pressed for time. You have to do a lot of shopping and cooking. And as much as you want to sit by the fire and read a fabulous 300+ page book for hours, you can’t. Not always. So a novella length book that packs in the romance in under 150 pages or so is a godsend.

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Three. It features familiar characters you already love. Sean O’Riley has been a familiar figure in the Heartbreaker Bay series. He started out as Finn’s younger, troublemaker brother. But as the series goes on, Sean grew up and matured. He’s proven himself a good brother and a loyal friend so reading about him getting his woman made me happy. Especially with a heroine as lovely as Lottie. Jill Shalvis always writes interesting heroines. They’re complex, flawed but inside they’re just full of love and loyalty.

Plus, we get to see the gang again. Nothing makes a reader’s heart happy than to see the characters she loves happy and content. Like do you know of anyone who wants to see their fave characters sad and miserable? No!

And last but not the least, the thing that makes a book a perfect holiday read is its ability to give you the warm fuzzies.

Look. Don’t me make me come at you with a 1,000 page dissertation of what constitutes warm fuzzyiness. All i know is that YOU’LL KNOW IT WHEN YOU FEEL IT!!!

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And yes, this book gave me all the warm fuzzies down to my toes.

Any questions? None? Good. Go forth and enjoy this book! <3

 

New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis lives in a small town in the Sierras with her family and far too many assorted quirky characters. Any resemblance to the quirky characters in her books is, um, mostly coincidental.

Look for Jill’s latest, LOST AND FOUND SISTERS on shelves and e-readers now, and get all her bestselling, award-winning books wherever romances are sold.

Visit Jill’s website for a complete book list and daily blog detailing her city-girl-living-in-the-mountains adventures.

 

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Geri’s Review: Someone to Wed by Mary Balogh

SOMEONE TO WED
Series: Westcott #3
Genre: Historical Romance
Author: Mary Balogh
Release Date: November 7, 2017

A very practical marriage makes Alexander Westcott question his heart in the latest Regency romance from the New York Times bestselling author of Someone to Hold.

When Alexander Westcott becomes the new Earl of Riverdale, he inherits a title he never wanted and a failing country estate he can’t afford.

But he fully intends to do everything in his power to undo years of neglect and give the people who depend on him a better life. . . .

A recluse for more than twenty years, Wren Heyden wants one thing out of life: marriage. With her vast fortune, she sets her sights on buying a husband. But when she makes the desperate—and oh-so-dashing—earl a startlingly unexpected proposal, Alex will only agree to a proper courtship, hoping for at least friendship and respect to develop between them.

He is totally unprepared for the desire that overwhelms him when Wren finally lifts the veils that hide the secrets of her past. . . .

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It was not just her face that she had hidden from the world. It was the whole of herself. Her instinct was to hide behind veils within veils, and she had done it for so long that she did not know how to case those veils aside.

Someone to Wed is a story about two people who came together out of convenience but in the process, found not only affection but deep and abiding love for each other.

The romance was top-notch as is expected from a Mary Balogh book. Both characters are flawed, complex and relatable in a way that made you root for their happiness and their developing relationship.

Alexander has inherited a failing earldom and must marry for money in order to rebuild his estates. Wren has spent the better part of her adult life in isolation. She wants to get married and have a family but feels that her appearance (she was a huge port wine stain on her face) and time spent away from society made her less of an ideal candidate for marriage. The one thing she has advantage of is her wealth. She’s an independently wealthy woman and wealth is something that Alexander needs.

But he had glimpsed something tantalizingly fleeting behind the veil. Something – no, he could not find the word. But something that invited him to keep looking.

There’s plenty to love in Someone to Wed.

It’s a fantastic MOC story, something that Mary Balogh does really well. Great, well-developed characters. Wren is such a strong, layered character. She knows what she wants and while she presents this cold and aloof behavior on the outside, her heart is passionate. But years of self-imposed seclusion and loneliness did a number of her, which made her all the more endearing and likable in my opinion.

I really liked Alexander, too. I liked that at very beginning, there’s no feelings or even an attraction between them. Their relationship grew from chapter to chapter and I was swept away with the slow burn romance between these two characters.

If you’re a fan of both slow-burn romances and the marriage-of-convenience trope, I highly recommend this book.

Mary Jenkins was born in 1944 in Swansea, Wales, UK. After graduating from university, moved to Saskatchewan, Canada, to teach high school English, on a two-year teaching contract in 1967. She married her Canadian husband, Robert Balogh, and had three children, Jacqueline, Christopher and Sian. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading, music and knitting. She also enjoys watching tennis and curling.

Mary Balogh started writing in the evenings as a hobby. Her first book, a Regency love story, was published in 1985 as A Masked Deception under her married name. In 1988, she retired from teaching after 20 years to pursue her dream to write full-time. She has written more than seventy novels and almost thirty novellas since then, including the New York Times bestselling ‘Slightly’ sextet and ‘Simply’ quartet. She has won numerous awards, including Bestselling Historical of the Year from the Borders Group, and her novel Simply Magic was a finalist in the Quill Awards. She has won seven Waldenbooks Awards and two B. Dalton Awards for her bestselling novels, as well as a Romantic Times Lifetime Achievement Award.

FACEBOOK WEBSITE | AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE 

 

Blog Tour Review & Excerpt: Cherish Hard by Nalini Singh

CHERISH HARD
Series: King Of Code #1.5
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: CD Reiss
Release Date: November 14, 2017

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh kicks off her new Hard Play contemporary romance series with a sizzling story that’ll leave you smiling…

Sailor Bishop has only one goal for his future – to create a successful landscaping business. No distractions allowed.

Then he comes face-to-face and lips-to-lips with a woman who blushes like an innocent… and kisses like pure sin.

Ísa Rain craves a man who will cherish her, aches to create a loving family of her own. Trading steamy kisses with a hot gardener in a parking lot? Not the way to true love.

Then a deal with the devil (aka her CEO-mother) makes Ísa a corporate VP for the summer. Her main task? Working closely with a certain hot gardener.

And Sailor Bishop has wickedness on his mind.

As Ísa starts to fall for a man who makes her want to throttle and pounce on him at the same time, she knows she has to choose – play it safe and steady, or risk all her dreams and hope Sailor doesn’t destroy her heart.

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ÍSA WONDERED WHAT THE HELL she was doing.

Being a devil woman, she reminded herself. Having fun for a change. Not being a grandma at twenty-eight years of age.

Still, she couldn’t stop second-guessing herself as Sailor led her out of the house through a side entrance that opened out into a small, manicured garden. “I’ll have to take off my heels,” she whispered when she saw the pebbled path snaking through the garden.

“Want a piggyback ride?” A playful grin. “I promise not to molest your thighs.”

Goose bumps broke out over Ísa’s skin, her nipples tight. Reckless as she was feeling tonight, she might just have taken him up on his offer if she hadn’t been worried her damn dress would split in two. “Maybe when we’re naked,” she said instead, Devil Ísa in full flower.

Groaning, he doubled over as if she’d punched him.

Her lips twitching despite the melting sexual heat liquefying her bones, she leaned down to slip off her heels.

Sailor waited, his hand firm around hers, until she was done. Taking the heels from her, he carried them in his other hand as Ísa padded beside him on the grass that lay on this side of the pebbled path. The path ended at a weathered wooden gate, which, when opened, put them at the top of a narrow walkway that led down onto a beach Ísa couldn’t yet see but could hear.

Her heart crashed in time with the waves as they made their way down to the beach while the mansion behind them pulsed with light and music. But she didn’t turn and run away, she didn’t stop and talk herself out of it, she didn’t attempt to be a sensible adult. She followed a gorgeous, blue-eyed man down a dirt pathway to an effectively private beach.

The sand that had been tracked onto the path was gritty under her feet, the air coming off the sea cool but not cold.

“The water’s going to be icy, isn’t it?” she whispered to his broad back.

“Don’t worry, spitfire. I’ll keep you warm,” was the deep-voiced response. “Stop here.” Jumping down to the beach, he reached up to grab her by the waist, swinging her down as if she were a featherweight.

Something fluffy and mushy came to life inside Ísa. “Here?”

Shaking his head, he said, “Raj told me there’s like a little cove area—not a proper cove, but caused by— There.”

Ísa saw it at once. A huge tree had fallen into the water at some point and smashed up against some rocks where it appeared to be stuck. Between the jutting rocks on either side and the fallen trunk was a naturally created pool. The water within it was pretty calm, and it looked as if they could get to it by clambering over some rocks that didn’t appear too sharp or slippery.

Of course, she’d be walking over those rocks naked.

Ísa looked up at the moon. Imagined it shining on the stark white of her body. Gulped. “Will you close your eyes while I go in the water?” Even Devil Ísa wasn’t up for blinding him with her glow-in-the-dark form.

A glance back. “What’re you going to bribe me with?”

Ísa scowled. “Not pushing you into the water right now.” It was a toothless threat given his muscles and her lack of them.

Rubbing his jaw, he said, “Three tongue kisses. That’s my price, and I’m not budging.”

Ísa wanted to pounce on him all over again. “Two,” she countered.

“Nuh-uh. Three. Or I’m keeping both eyes wide open.” Leaning in, he pressed his nose to hers. “I really want to keep my eyes wide open.”

And Ísa really wanted to kiss him and run her hands all over that sculpted chest. “Three,” she whispered.

 

Copyright © 2017 by Nalini Singh

Cherish Hard is an insanely sweet but very sexy romance between an older heroine and younger hero, which I loved!

Nalini Singh has always excelled in writing great heroes-in-pursuit tropes, and in this book, Sailor is a great example of a hero in pursuit of a woman who caught his eye. He is easily the best part of this book for me.

He’s determined to not only prove that he can get his business off the ground but to prove that his love for Isa isn’t just a passing fancy.

Sailor Bishop is Gabe’s brother but this story took place before the events of Rock Hard so we see a bit of Gabe during his rugby playing years, which I appreciated. A lot.

But the star of the book is Sailor. He’s an amazingly sweet and considerate alpha hero. And I would recommend this book base on that alone.

That said if you’re looking for a high-conflict, angsty romance, then this book won’t be for you. Cherish Hard is light on conflict and drama but it doesn’t skimp on the sexy times. The sexy times in this book is A grade, and I was a huge fan of it.

I would’ve rated this book higher if not for one huge issue for me. I didn’t find Isa particularly interesting. Don’t get me wrong. She’s very sweet and nice and a really good person. She sacrificed so much for her family. And despite being born rich and privileged, her childhood was lonely which contributed to her insecurities and fears. She is on paper, the perfect heroine but I was personally bored with her character. I found her best friend, Nayna, a lot more interesting.

I don’t dislike Isa, it’s just that she didn’t really capture my attention. She’s okay but her character didn’t wow me.

Despite that, I did enjoy this book and I’m looking forward to reading more of this series. I’m hoping we’d get a Nayna book and maybe another Bishop brother? God, I hope so.

Nalini Singh is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Psy-Changeling, Guild Hunter, and Rock Kiss series. She lives and works in beautiful New Zealand, and is passionate about writing.

If you’d like to explore her other books, you can find lots of excerpts and free short stories on her website. Slave to Sensation is the first book in the Psy-Changeling series, while Angels’ Blood is the first book in the Guild Hunter series. The Rock Kiss books are all stand alone and can be read in any order.

 

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Geri’s Review: Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews

MAGIC BLEEDS
Series: Kate Daniels #4
Genre: Adult Urban Fantasy
Author: Ilona Andrews
Release Date: May 25, 2010

Atlanta would be a nice place to live, if it weren’t for the magic. When the magic is up, rogue mages cast their spells and monsters appear, while guns refuse to fire and cars fail to start. But then technology returns, and the magic recedes as unpredictably as it arose.

Kate Daniels works for the Order of Knights of Merciful Aid, officially, as a liaison with the mercenary guild. Unofficially, she cleans up the paranormal problems no one else wants to handle—especially if they involve Atlanta’s shapeshifting community.

When she’s called in to investigate a fight at the Steel Horse, a bar on the border between the territories of the shapeshifters and the necromancers, Kate quickly discovers there’s a new player in town. One who’s been around for thousands of years—and rode to war at the side of Kate’s father.

This foe may be too much even for Kate and Curran, the Beast Lord, to handle. Because this time Kate will be taking on family…

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^^Me every time I finish a Kate Daniels book!

I can’t give you the white picket fence, and if I did, you’d set it on fire.”

What can I say? AnotheramazinginstallmentintheKateDanielsseries!!!

Kate Daniels, mercenary and psuedo Knight of the order gets to meet a long lost family member. It should’ve been a happy family reunion but this is Kate Daniels we’re talking about and to say that her family is just dysfunctional is an UNDERSTATEMENT!

The stakes just keeps getting higher and Kate is confronting bigger and more powerful beings. Man, the action in this book is top notch. There are so many moments where I don’t even know if Kate and Curran would come out of it alive.

Don’t die on me, you stupid sonovabitch. You goddamn fucking idiot. I told you to stay out of the damn fight! Why the hell don’t you ever listen? I fucking hate you. I hate you, you hear me? Don’t you dare die on me, because I need to kill you with my bare hands.”

There’s also politics and intrigue added to the mix. In the hands of less skilled writers, this book would’ve feel bloated but Gordon and Ilona have proven themselves adept at juggling storylines. But where they really shine is with their characters.

Again, we see growth with each and every character in this series. Kate has changed. She’s still Kate but with each and every book, we get to see her make tough decisions. There’s a really powerful scene in this book where we see Kate struggle with a decision between doing what she was taught to do and doing what was right. That scene was so powerful to me because it speaks of who Kate is and I know I sound like a broken record here but man, she’s such an amazing hero.

The stairs ended. I wished I knew the jackass who’d made the staircase so short. I’d throw him down the damn steps so he could count them with his head.”

But what really makes this book special is the romance department. Look, I’m not one of those people who thinks that a badass heroine becomes less of a badass because she wants love or falls in love with the hero. Nope. I’m firmly in the “heroines can fall in love and still be a badass because we can do whatever the fuck we want” camp. And Kate does what she wants. And she wants the Beast Lord. And I can totally get behind that because while Curran might be overbearing at times, he is learning and making comprises with Kate.

You might want to decide fast. We live in a dangerous world. If you see a chance to be happy, you have to fight for it, so later you have no regrets.”

I love how they negotiated and compromised with each other. They are both stubborn. Both are alpha. Kate has baggage, so does Curran and they both have identities outside of each other. Curran’s life is with the pack, while Kate was a loner. She doesn’t belong to anyone. It would’ve been a disservice to Kate’s character if she suddenly becomes subservient to Curran and vice versa. But somehow Ilona Andrews made it work. That doesn’t mean they didn’t make mistakes. They made plenty of mistakes. They had their share of jealous fits and misunderstanding but the way the authors handled their conflict was wonderful.

Mad gold eyes stared into mine. “Do you miss me, Kate?”
I closed my eyes trying to shut him out. I could lie then we would be back to square one. Nothing would be resolved. I’d still be alone, hating him and wanting him.
He grabbed my shoulders and shook me once. “Do you miss me?”
I took the plunge. “Yes.”

I’ve never read 4 straight books in a series before. Never. I tend to get bored easily even with series I love. But this is just too good to put down. So I’m off to read book 5.

I gave him my hard stare. “You’re a control freak and I fight all authority. And you want us to mate?”
A wicked spark lit his eyes. “Many, many times.”

 

Ilona Andrews is the pseudonym for a husband-and-wife writing team. Ilona is a native-born Russian and Gordon is a former communications sergeant in the U.S. Army.

Contrary to popular belief, Gordon was never an intelligence officer with a license to kill, and Ilona was never the mysterious Russian spy who seduced him. They met in college, in English Composition 101, where Ilona got a better grade. (Gordon is still sore about that.)

Gordon and Ilona currently reside in Oregon with their two children, three dogs and a cat. They have co-authored two series, the bestselling urban fantasy of Kate Daniels and romantic urban fantasy of The Edge.

 

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Geri’s Review: Tell Me by Abigail Strom

TELL ME
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: Abigail Strom
Release Date: October 1, 2017

Shy bookstore owner Jane Finch grew up hiding in the margins of her own life while her vibrant, adventure-loving sister, Samantha, dominated every plotline.

She’s made peace with it, unlike Sam’s business partner, Caleb, who’s always nudging Jane to go after what she really wants.

Why should she care what blunt, brash Caleb thinks? They’ve never had much in common, except for Sam.

After tragedy strikes, they don’t even have that.

Caleb can’t quite remember when Sam’s little sister stopped being like a surrogate sibling to him and became just…Jane. She’s the most intriguing woman he’s ever met, and so much sexier and stronger than she thinks.

On the emotional journey to honor Sam’s memory, the spark they’ve tried to deny becomes an inferno.

This journey was meant to be an ending, but will they discover an unexpected new beginning?

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First off, thank you Arabella ~♡AB♡~’s review for bringing this book and this author to my attention. I enjoyed this book so much. I cried and laugh, and let me tell you that I’ve never rooted so hard for a couple as much as I did with Jane and Caleb.

Both are deeply flawed and complex characters whose differences might be too great that love might not be enough!

Yes, you read that right! There were moments in the book where I was like…

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Why? Because the conflict is that good. Simple but really effective and it’s not very obvious if we go by the blurb. In fact, I thought initially that it’s going to be something else. But I prefer the direction that the author took. It’s a very mature conflict and she was able to really flesh out the story and each of the characters.

Aside from the conflict, what I also loved about this book was how tight the writing was. Not one scene or interaction was wasted. Everything that you read has a purpose. And the author did a fantastic job tying up all the loose ends and giving readers the answers to questions they have about the characters and the story. It was masterful.

But what really made this book a favorite was its cast of characters. Jane and Caleb felt real. Jane is a shy bookstore owner. At first, I was skeptical because the character sounds really cliched. I mean, hello, shy, plain-Jane bookstore owner? That’s like classic character trope.

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But the more you read, the more you see the nuances of Jane’s character. And the same goes for Caleb. He’s a tough nut to crack. He was a very intriguing character. At first, he came off really cocky and was a bit annoying. The moment the two of them are together on page, you could feel the tension that was borne out of their differences despite the fact that there’s definitely an attraction there.

I loved how Anne of Green Gables was used as sort of a backdrop in the story. It was clever and it made me want to read Anne of Green Gables again. It made me curious about the lore behind that series.

Another intriguing layer to this book was Sam, Jane’s beautiful and adventurous older sister who also happens to Caleb’s best friend and business partner. She was the thread that connected Jane and Caleb at first. Her tragic death served as a catalyst for Jane and Caleb’s relationship. I personally didn’t feel that her presence detracted from the romance between Jane and Caleb. I thought that Jane’s feelings about Sam was handled really well. Again, it felt real and it was so heartbreaking.

There are so many thing I loved about this book. I especially loved how the author brought everything in full circle, giving readers what they long for. The resolution wasn’t perfect but it fit the story really well.

Tell Me is a heartwarming story about two people who couldn’t be more different from each other fall in love. It’s a beautifully written romance which I highly recommend you guys read.

 

Geri’s Review: Fallen Heir by Erin Watt

FALLEN HEIR
Series: The Royals #4
Genre: Young Adult Romance
Author: Erin Watt
Release Date: August 28th, 2017

These Royals will ruin you.

Easton Royal has it all: looks, money, intelligence.

His goal in life is to have as much fun as possible. He never thinks about the consequences because he doesn’t have to.

Until Hartley Wright appears, shaking up his easy life.

She’s the one girl who’s said no, despite being attracted to him. Easton can’t figure her out and that makes her all the more irresistible.

Hartley doesn’t want him. She says he needs to grow up.

She might be right.

Rivals. Rules. Regrets. For the first time in Easton’s life, wearing a Royal crown isn’t enough.

He’s about to learn that the higher you start, the harder you fall.

 

AMAZON | iBOOKS

You guys!

I’m sorry. Please don’t hate me.

I liked Fallen Heir and I enjoyed it but I just DIDN’T love it the way I did Paper Princess.

*cue my awkward face
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Before I go into the whys, let me tell you what I did enjoy about this book.

One. The writing as usual was impeccable and seamless. The way they write the dialogue and East’s POV is on point.

Two. I adored the secondary characters especially Pash and Bran. Pash is Easton’s best buddy and comic relief in the book. Brandon is the new guy in Astor Prep and his character is a breath of fresh air full of farts. Privileged Astor farts. I hope he doesn’t get screwed over by that crowd and lose his innocence too soon. He’s the perfect foil for Easton’s rich boy arrogance and privilege.

Three. The Easton-Ella dynamic. Boy, this one…I knew a few chapters in that something is up and I have my suspicions (which was proven to be right, by the way!) but I just like the way Erin Watt slowly unraveled that thread. It played out perfectly. And nope, I won’t spoil it for you. You have to read the book yourself. Trust me. It’s worth it.

Now for the so-so parts…

Easton. I know, I know. I loved him in PP. Maybe not as much as the other readers but I was interested to know what made him different from Reed and his other brothers. And I gotta say…he’s OK. I sympathized with his issues and feel for him but other times, he annoys the crap out of me.

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I’m SORRY but he does. The whole book is written in his POV and sometimes I wish I could take a break from it because he can be real douchebag.

I would’ve loved to get Hartley’s POV because I want to know what she sees in him. I want to see him through her eyes. I want to see what she thinks of him. I want to read her thoughts about Easton and whether or not he’s redeemable.

Like I said, I needed another POV, another lens through which I could see his character grow and change. Which brings me to my second so-so. Hartley.

I needed her POV. Did I say that already? Yes, I did.

I needed it to get to know her and relate with her. Without it, I’m kind of apathetic towards her. Aside from being the girl that Easton like, she’s…meh so far. I think that would change once we get her POV…maybe in the next book but for now. I’m not loving her but I’m also not hating her.

Now for the not-so-great part…I only have one issue, which is why I said I still enjoyed this book. But the main reason why I didn’t outright loved Fallen Heir is that it’s a little repetitive.

Okay, more than a little.

What I’m saying is for most of the book, about 70% of it, we get the same Easton-Hartley interaction which basically goes like this: Easton pursues, Hartley demurs and then acquiesce. Easton then does something stupid and Hartley gets hurt and pulls away. Easton gets wasted and does something even more idiotic things. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

Just when there’s progress in their interaction, you get pulled back into the very beginning and start all over again. One step forward, two steps back. It’s great for maybe one or two instances but after the second time, it became annoying and frustrating.

It wasn’t until the last 30% where the plot got tighter and we see breakthrough in Easton that the book really took off! Only to have the rug pulled out from under me with that wicked cliffhanger!!!

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But I ain’t even mad. I was just so happy that the story progressed beyond the Easton and Hartley drama. But OMG, that last scene is stressing me out.

The wait for the next book is gonna be brutal.

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