Geri’s Review: Making Up by Lucy Parker

MAKING UP
Series: London Celebrities #3
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: Lucy Parker
Release Date: May 28, 2018

Author of Act Like It and Pretty Face Lucy Parker returns readers to the West End, where it’s fireworks onstage and off in a sexy enemies-to-lovers showdown.

Once upon a time, circus artist Trix Lane was the best around. Her spark vanished with her confidence, though, and reclaiming either has proved…difficult. So when the star of The Festival of Masks is nixed and Trix is unexpectedly thrust into the spotlight, it’s exactly the push she needs. But the joy over her sudden elevation in status is cut short by a new hire on the makeup team.

Leo Magasiva: disgraced wizard of special effects. He of the beautiful voice and impressive beard. Complete dickhead and—in an unexpected twist—an enragingly good kisser.

To Leo, something about Trix is…different. Lovely. Beautiful, even though the pint-size, pink-haired former bane of his existence still spends most of her waking hours working to annoy him. They’ve barely been able to spend two minutes together for years, and now he can’t get enough of her. On stage. At home. In his bed.

When it comes to commitment, Trix has been there, done that, never wants to do it again. Leo’s this close to the job of a lifetime, which would take him away from London—and from Trix. Their past is a constant barrier between them.

It seems hopeless.

Utterly impossible.

And yet…

AMAZON

 

Lucy Parker became an instant favorite after I fell in love with the first book of her London Celebrity series. She has never fails to deliver on the swoons and the great characters. The third book, Making Up, is no exception.

We’ve met Trix in Pretty Face. She’s a circus artist and Lily’s best friend who was in an abusive relationship with Dan. That abuse took a toll on Trix and the aftermath was even more heartbreaking. She lost confidence in herself and her talents, and just when it seems like her career and life are in the doldrums, an opportunity to take the lead role in the long running show she’s in dropped on lap right along with her old nemesis, Leo Magasiva.

We’ve also met Leo Magasiva briefly in Pretty Face. He’s a make up artist whose Holywood rise was derailed by an allergic reaction mishap. Now back in London, Leo joined Trix’s company as the head make up artist.

Can I just say how refreshing it is to read about a hero who is not a billionaire/Rockstar/biker/soldier but a makeup artist? I loved it. Plus, Leo Magasiva was just divine. Swoon-worthy, creative guy with a heart of gold. He’s the perfect man for Trix, and lord knows she needs someone trustworthy after Dan the snake oil man almost ruined her life.

It doesn’t have to be complicated, Trix.” It was the only thing he could say. It was also a total bloody lie. It was them. It was going to be completely fucking complicated.”

The chemistry between Trix and Leo just leaps off the page and their banter was amazing. Lucy Parker definitely knows how to write banter. The relationship between Trix and Leo was complicated from the start. They had history and they had personal issues to deal with on top of everything. I of course, adored it because I love me some complicated.

It was delightful going back to the London setting of this book. I wish more contemporary romances are set there just to break the monotony of American set romances. I loved that the London described in this book is filled with diverse characters and it felt lived in. London’s West End is in and on itself a main character in the book. And oh, this book was also damn funny. It’s not slapstick humor but the sarcastic, offbeat, and deadpan kind, which I personally prefer.

There’s a new character introduced in this book which I feel readers will either love or hate. I wasn’t sure about it myself but I think I love to read more about this character. Fingers crossed Lucy will have something plan because it’s going to get interesting to say the least.

We do not squee over anything to do with this man, ovaries. Rein in the hormones immediately.”

I enjoyed this book immensely. Although I’ll be the first one to say that it’s far from perfect. I had a bit of an issue with the pacing especially the middle. It was definitely slow during that part but it did pick up and finished strong. And that epilogue!! Loved it.

There is also a scene that might raise some discussion around consent. And after thinking about it and rereading that part again, I personally wasn’t bothered by it. I felt that something was already established between them. So I wasn’t bothered by it. I’m mentioning this, trying to be as vague as possible as to not spoil the book but I also feel that it’s a good point to discuss among readers.

Anyway, I still adored this book. Those little snags weren’t big enough to affect my overall enjoyment at all.

Geri’s Review: Hurts to Love You by Alisha Rai

HURTS TO LOVE YOU
Series: Forbidden Hearts #3
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: Alisha Rai
Release Date: March 27, 2018

Being bad never felt so good, in the third novel in Alisha Rai’s sexy Forbidden Hearts series!

Well-behaved women don’t lust after men who love to misbehave.

Heiress Evangeline Chandler knows how to keep a secret . . . like her life-long crush on the tattooed hottie who just happens to be her big brother’s friend. She’s a Chandler, after all, and Chandlers don’t hook up with the help. Then again, they also don’t disobey their fathers and quit their respectable jobs, so good-girl rules may no longer apply.

Gabriel Hunter hides the pain of his past behind a smile, but he can’t hide his sudden attraction to his friend’s sheltered little sister. Eve is far too sweet to accept anything less than forever and there’s no chance of a future between the son of a housekeeper and the town’s resident princess.

When a wedding party forces Eve and Gabe into tight quarters, keeping their hands off each other will be as hard as keeping their clothes on. The need that draws them together is stronger than the forces that should shove them apart . . . but their sparks may not survive the explosion when long-buried secrets are finally unearthed.

AMAZON | iBOOKS

 

Hurts to Love You, the final book in Alisha Rai’s Forbidden Hearts series, puts the youngest Chandler and Gabe Hunter. It also ties up some story threads from the previous books in the series. It also gave readers all the answers that we’ve been asking ourselves about one particular event that started the Kane-Chandler fued all those years ago.

Gabe Hunter has secrets. Secrets that he has to keep because it could change everything from his standing among the Kanes and his relationships with Jackson and Livvy. And his attraction to Eve complicate things. So he tried to stay away but with Nicholas and Livvy’s upcoming destination wedding coming up, his plans of staying away from Eve became even more challenging.

Eve is shy, a bit timid but not lacking in courage despite growing up emotionally abused by her father. Her long time crush on Gabe is just that: a crush. She doesn’t think he feels that way for her. But Eve is tired of being held back by her past. She has plans and one of those plans involve Gabe. And her brother’s upcoming wedding is the perfect opportunity for her to convince Gabe that she’s not the little girl he once knew.

I felt for Evie’s unrequited feelings for Gabe. I was rooting for her to get the guy. And it was so satisfying when everything finally lined up for her and for him as well. Alisha Rai took her own sweet time with these two characters but the payoff was well worth it. The romance, once it got going, was hot. Gabe was definitely hiding his growly, dirty talking, alpha self underneath his man-bun. The things he said to Eve during their sexy times will make your toes curl.

Overall, I liked how this book brought everything full circle for these two families. After all the betrayals and secrets, it’s nice to see these characters win especially Gabe! His secret was quite obvious to those who have read the previous books, at least to me they are. And that’s quite okay because this book isn’t really about the “secret.” It’s more about the characters and their journey.

Geri’s Review: Scoring Off the Field by Naima Simone

SCORING OFF THE FIELD
Series: WAGS #2
Genre: Contemporary Sports Romance
Author: Naima Simone
Release Date: March 12, 2018

Tennyson Clark is getting a life. First step: quitting her job as assistant to Dominic Anderson, star quarterback for the Washington Warriors, her best friend … and the man she’s been secretly in love with for years.

But since the gorgeous, if overprotective playboy has only ever seen her as his BFF, she’s finally ready to relinquish her tattered fantasy and move on.

Enter steps two and three: new job and new man.

Football is Dominic’s life, and with his contract soon up for renewal, all his focus needs to be on the game. But Tennyson—dependable, logical Tennyson— is making that next to impossible with her mysterious new job and her sudden interest in online dating.

He doesn’t do relationships. But the thought of another man touching her sexier-than-hell curves has him suddenly wanting more from his best friend.

Indulging in hot, dirty, what’s-my-name sex with no strings and lots of benefits is simple, uncomplicated…until it’s not.

 

AMAZON

Wowza! This book checked all my boxes!

Sexy.
Steamy.
With the right amount of angst thrown in!!

It’s no secret that I love the two tropes equally: unrequited love and friends-to-lovers. Scoring Off Field has both. So yeah, I requested this baby so fast and [insert squee here] I was not disappointed.

Tennyson Clark has been in love with her best friend, Washington Warrior’s quarterback, Dominic Anderson. Football was Dom’s whole life. His other whole life is his best friend and personal assistant, Tenny. Unfortunately, Tenny just dropped a bomb. She’s moving on and getting a life away from Dom. This decision turned Dom’s world upside down and became the catalyst for their relationship changing.

I loved Tennyson. She had a hard life but she never lost her optimism. She had some emotional scars that came from a difficult childhood so I totally felt for her and understood her decision to walk away from Dom. I applauded her decision despite also wanting them to get together.

While I do think that Dom cared about her even prior to their romance, he took her for granted. Football was his last connection to the family he loved and lost so his decision to make football his lover and mistress was understandable. He was clueless about his best friend’s feelings but he wasn’t intentionally cruel. He did everything he could for Tenny but it wasn’t exactly what Tenny wanted from him. It took a while for Dom to realize it but once he did, he was all in. I also understood Dom.

The transition from friends to lovers can be tricky but it felt seamless here. I was already invested in both Tenny and Dom, so their coming together was something I was already invested in. I loved that despite their physical chemistry, there was still some emotional issues and character journeys that they have to embark on, and it was those issues and character journeys that kept me glued to the book. It was emotionally satisfying to read how these two characters grow and develop.

Naima Simone did an exceptional job with Tenny and Dom. I loved them as individuals and loved them together. I sound like a broken record saying this but the romance in this book was so satisfying. It’s one of those books that puts a smile in your face throughout the day after you finished it. Definitely one of my top reads of the year.

Geri’s Review: A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole

A PRINCESS IN THEORY
Series: Reluctant Royals #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: Alyssa Cole
Release Date:  February 27, 2018

From acclaimed author Alyssa Cole comes the tale of a city Cinderella and her Prince Charming in disguise . . .

Between grad school and multiple jobs, Naledi Smith doesn’t have time for fairy tales…or patience for the constant e-mails claiming she’s betrothed to an African prince. Sure. Right. Delete! As a former foster kid, she’s learned that the only things she can depend on are herself and the scientific method, and a silly e-mail won’t convince her otherwise.

Prince Thabiso is the sole heir to the throne of Thesolo, shouldering the hopes of his parents and his people. At the top of their list? His marriage. Ever dutiful, he tracks down his missing betrothed.

When Naledi mistakes the prince for a pauper, Thabiso can’t resist the chance to experience life—and love—without the burden of his crown.

The chemistry between them is instant and irresistible, and flirty friendship quickly evolves into passionate nights. But when the truth is revealed, can a princess in theory become a princess ever after?

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A Princess in Theory was one of my most anticipated reads for 2018, for good reasons. One. It has a fairy tale like premise: a royal prince looking for his long-lost betrothed who happens to have no idea of who he is and thinks he’s just out to scam her. Two. I’ve seen and read countless of “royal romance” stories in the past year or so featuring princes and princesses from fictional European countries but zero stories from non-Euro fictional kingdoms. A Princess in Theory gives us the fictional African kingdom of Thesolo. And let me tell you right now, after reading the book, I am so ready to book a one-way ticket to Thesolo. Three. The book features a STEM heroine and a prince. I mean, come on. That’s like peak OTP for me.

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So yes, I have high expectations for this book and fortunately, all of it were not just met, but were exceeded by this book. Alyssa Cole created a very colorful and exciting world filled with complex and interesting characters.

“She was fine on her own. She always had been. And if no good guy ever made it past her barriers? Well, that’d be fine, too. Just fine.”

Naledi is right up there as being one of my favorite heroines ever. She’s smart, driven, and a little bit broken. She hides her emotions behind a tough exterior but she’s all gooey on the inside. Her backstory was heartbreaking and explains why she keeps everyone at arm’s length. Prince Thabiso’s arrival challenges Ledi’s boundaries and forces her to change in so many ways. I love where the author took this character. The emotional character journey Ledi went through was so amazing and so worth it.

Ledi isn’t the only thing that made me love this book though. Everyone, meet the Crown Prince of Thesolo, Prince Thabiso.

“But instead of a peeved researcher standing in the doorway, there was the finest man Ledi had ever seen outside of a social media thirst trap pic.”

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Sorry. I didn’t mean to show my thirst like that but oh-em-gee, Jamal aka Prince Thabiso was amazing. And I don’t just say that because he’s hot and he’s a prince. Like Ledi, he went through his own emotional journey.

Thabiso is a prince—the Prince. He’s loyal and he loves his people, but he was also arrogant, privileged and can be dismissive of other people’s feelings. He grew up surrounded by people who’re there to accommodate his whims and desires. He was in for a rude awakening with Ledi though because here was a woman who he thought would fall over herself because he’s a prince. Instead he found someone who not only didn’t know who he is but mistakes him for a hired help.

I loved how he changed from this arrogant prince to someone worthy of Ledi’s love and affection. Their romance just builds off of that initial meeting and went to some really interesting places.

“Her mouth curved up into a smile and something in his chest moved out of alignment.

The romance between Ledi and Thabiso wasn’t all rainbows and roses. Ledi has her own issues while Thabiso wasn’t really being honest. And I admit I was nervous because there’s a chance that Thabiso’s deception would be swept under a rug just because he’s the hero of the story and that the reader and the heroine are supposed to forgive him immediately. Rest assured, Ledi did not make it easy for him. And I liked that so much. Thabiso had to work for her forgiveness and nothing warms my heart more than a hero that grovels.

“Fuckboyism is a fairly common disease in men aged eighteen to thirty-five.”
“What’s the cure?” he asked.
“You’ll have to ask your doctor about that. But I can tell you right now that it’s not me.”

And oh, did I mention that this book was funny? Not slapstick funny but understated-but-still-makes-you-laugh-out-loud funny. Ledi’s Ledisms are hilarious and Thabiso’s stint as a lowly waiter had me rolling.

I also loved the secondary cast of characters from Thabiso’s parents to Ledi’s family and friends. Speaking of friends, Portia, Ledi’s best friend was very interesting. There were moments where I really didn’t like what she did, but I couldn’t help but root for her to find redemption. Her story is next and I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am to read it.

A Princess in Theory is a breath of fresh air. If you’re looking for a swoon-worthy read, I highly recommend this. This book made laugh and gave me characters I could relate and really root for. I finished this book with a huge smile on my face. I was soooo good, you guys! I highly recommend it.

And Alyssa Cole, take a bow, because A Princess in Theory is one of those books that readers will be recommending and talking about in the weeks to come.

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Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m just gonna run out and one-click more Alyssa Cole books. Kthnxbye.

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Geri’s Review: The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

THE WEDDING DATE
Genre: Contemporary
Author: Jasmine Guillory
Release Date: January 30, 2018

A groomsman and his last-minute guest are about to discover if a fake date can go the distance in a fun and flirty debut novel.

Agreeing to go to a wedding with a guy she gets stuck with in an elevator is something Alexa Monroe wouldn’t normally do. But there’s something about Drew Nichols that’s too hard to resist.

On the eve of his ex’s wedding festivities, Drew is minus a plus one. Until a power outage strands him with the perfect candidate for a fake girlfriend…

After Alexa and Drew have more fun than they ever thought possible, Drew has to fly back to Los Angeles and his job as a pediatric surgeon, and Alexa heads home to Berkeley, where she’s the mayor’s chief of staff. Too bad they can’t stop thinking about the other…

They’re just two high-powered professionals on a collision course toward the long distance dating disaster of the century–or closing the gap between what they think they need and what they truly want…

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Alexa Monroe found herself trapped at a hotel elevator with a handsome, charming Drew Nichols. The incident led to a wedding date, a pretend relationship which quickly escalated into something more.

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The Wedding Date charmed me from beginning to end. The best part about this book was easily the heroine! She’s gorgeous and competent as hell but also strong and vulnerable. Alexa Monroe was everything I love in my romance book heroines.

Another element I enjoyed about this book was the development of Alexa and Drew’s relationship. What started out as a disaster (getting stuck at an elevator) became so much more. That’s not to say there wasn’t some awkwardness between them at first because here was and it was charming and cute because you recognize it as part in real life. Loved their chemistry together.

I also loved the fact that both characters are competent at their jobs. Drew is a doctor and Alexa is a mayoral chief of staff. Their careers are part of who they are and I enjoyed reading those parts in the book.

Conflict wise, I thought that it was very well done. Drew and Alexa not only came from different backgrounds, but they also lived in two different cities which was a challenge to say the least. I normally do not like long distance relationships in my romance, but I liked how it was dealt with in this book. Drew and Alexa were very aware of its pitfalls and of course, its rewards. I thought their actions were very real, and it showed the characters’ flaws and redeeming qualities.

The Wedding Date met all my expectations, which I am so grateful for. It’s sweet, charming, lighthearted romance at its best. If you enjoy fake-dating-relationship stories, I highly recommend this book! This is only Miss Guillory’s first book and judging by how much I enjoyed it, I’m looking forward to more books from her in the future.

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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’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.

AMAZON | iBOOKS | B&N | KOBO 

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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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 Breaks by Ilona Andrews

MAGIC BREAKS
Series: Kate Daniels #7
Genre: Adult Urban Fantasy
Author: Ilona Andrews
Release Date: July 29, 2014

No matter how much the paranormal politics of Atlanta change, one thing always remains the same: if there’s trouble, Kate Daniels will be in the middle of it…

As the mate of the Beast Lord, Curran, former mercenary Kate Daniels has more responsibilities than it seems possible to juggle. Not only is she still struggling to keep her investigative business afloat, she must now deal with the affairs of the pack, including preparing her people for attack from Roland, a cruel ancient being with god-like powers.

Since Kate’s connection to Roland has come out into the open, no one is safe—especially those closest to Kate.

As Roland’s long shadow looms ever nearer, Kate is called to attend the Conclave, a gathering of the leaders from the various supernatural factions in Atlanta. When one of the Masters of the Dead is found murdered there, apparently at the hands of a shapeshifter, Kate is given only twenty-four hours to hunt down the killer.

And this time, if she fails, she’ll find herself embroiled in a war which could destroy everything she holds dear…

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This book was fraught with tension from beginning to end. Kate’s courage and mettle has been tested in the past and she always triumphed. But this might be the toughest test she has to face yet. It’s personal and it threatens everything and everyone she worked so hard for.

I was in pins and needles while reading this book. Kate seemed to be vulnerable in this book. She seemed to be floundering. Kate has always been tough so there were some moments in the book where it’s hard to see her so down and helpless, and feeling defeated. It’s hard to read. And I understand why some reviews feel that this was uncharacteristic for Kate especially since she seemed to be waiting for Curran to rescue her. And that somehow, she’s not a badass anymore.

Fortune favors the brave,” I told her. It also kills the stupid, but I decided to keep that fact to myself.”

I admit at first, I was taken aback. But the more I read the more I realized that this is the reason why Kate is special. She’s not the typical “badass” who doesn’t need anybody or feel vulnerable or doesn’t experience self-doubt. She experiences all these things and come out of it stronger and more resolute. I love that Gordon and Ilona showed us that sometimes our heroes feel helpless and that it’s okay for them to need someone come through for them. That’s what makes me root for them.

In Magic Breaks, Kate and Curran are both pushed to the absolute limits. I feared for their lives and the lives of the other characters in this series. I was still traumatized by a major character’s death in the previous book that I was worried for everyone! Yes, even the ones that we can technically consider the bad guys.

That said, I did want to kill Hugh myself. I still hated his character. Ugh. Out of all villains so far, save from the villain of season 1, I find Hugh the most punchable. I just find his character very grating. His backstory is interesting enough but his motivation was too obvious that there is no way Kate would even be tempted to join him like he wanted.

And his constant flirting with Kate wasn’t cute. It was annoying. He’s like that married boss you had right out of college. Handsome, predatory, and predictable. I’m so glad Curran beat his ass twice now!

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Roland was exceptional as a villain, mainly because you can’t quite put your finger on his motivation. Some of his decisions and actions made me question if he’s the big baddie of the series or just a misunderstood father who wants to get to know his estranged daughter. Plus, he’s just so damn likable.

Magic Breaks marks the end of some major story and character arcs in this series. In the first seven books, it was about Kate hiding her identity from her father, Roland. Everything is out in the open now. Every major players in the series knows who she is and they’ll be gunning for her. This book also marks the end of some of Curran’s arc.

Although you can consider this an ending, it’s hardly THE END because some of the decisions that Kate and Curran made will have repercussions. Not to mention there are some loose ends still that needs to be tied. I’m really excited to get to know more about Roland.

All that was missing was a neon sign that read EVIL AND CONFLICTED ABOUT IT with a flashing arrow pointing at his head.”

Overall, this was another solid installment. The humor, the excellent cast of characters, the plot, everything work seamlessly together. And although I must admit that I was expecting a bigger battle set piece especially during Kate and Roland’s confrontation. But I do understand that they might be saving the big battle towards the end of the series. Roland still holds all the cards here, and we really haven’t seen what he’s capable of yet.

If I pass out face down in this water, will you fish me out?”
“Will you promise to call me Your Majesty?”
“Hell no.”
“Then I’ll have to think about it.”

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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Excerpt & Geri’s Review of Maybe This Christmas by Jennifer Snow

MAYBE THIS CHRISTMAS
Series: Colorado Ice #3
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: Jennifer Snow
Release Date: September 26, 2017

All wrapped up . . .

One more game. That’s all that stands between NHL star Asher Westmore and a major career milestone.

But then his brother bashes him against the hockey boards, sidelining him for months. Over Christmas holidays, no less.

If staying off the ice doesn’t drive him crazy, staying with his family will. The only bright spot amidst the mistletoe and twinkle lights: His best friend, Emma, is a physical therapist. And working out with her improves his body and his spirit.

One last time. Emma Callaway was in trouble the minute she and Asher added benefits to their friendship.

How is she supposed to resist a funny, caring guy who makes her toes curl? Her heart was safe while he lived in a different state. Now that he’s back home recuperating, though, it’s only a matter of time before she blurts out her feelings.

Emma’s only hope is that with a little holiday magic, she’ll get the best Christmas gift of all.

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Asher climbed out of the car. “Nah. I’ll hang out with Em tonight. I’m her last patient of the day,” he said, suddenly feeling a little better and eager to get this appointment finished so they could go back to her place for the evening. Without the meds, he was suffering a little more, and she was the only thing that eased his pain.

“All right, man. Take it easy,” Jackson said as he closed the door.

Entering the clinic, he tugged the big, heavy old door closed behind him.

“Hey, Asher,” Jane said, standing as she saw him.

“Hi, Jane. How are you?” he asked, approaching the desk and leaning over it. If he sat again, getting up would be a struggle.

“I’m great. Um, actually, I wanted to ask you…if maybe you wanted to grab a drink at the Grumpy Stump tonight?”

Caught slightly off guard, he laughed. “You don’t hang out there, do you? You’re far too pretty to be slobbered on by all the local single men.”

She blushed. “Thanks. Actually, I don’t hang out anywhere. Single-mom life doesn’t lend itself it to many dates. Not that this would be a date…”

Oh, damn. He felt like an ass saying no to the woman who was obviously putting herself out there…but he wasn’t interested in dating. In fact, since his last semi-permanent situation ended a while ago, he’d been enjoying how things were going with Emma. Right now, she was certainly the only one he wanted to be with. “I…uh…”

Emma appeared in the reception area, an unreadable expression on her face as she glanced back and forth between the two of them.

“Well, the thing is…I promised Emma I’d do that…thing with her tonight,” he said, looking at her to save him.

Her expression softened slightly as she slowly nodded. “Right, you did promise me you would do that…thing tonight.”

He smiled. Saved. Now he could resume getting excited about a full evening with her, naked, with no pressure of a flight out the next day or having to be anywhere at all. The idea excited him beyond the sexy thoughts coming to mind. He looked forward to just being with her, holding her, kissing her, and talking. He’d been so caught up in his own problems the last few weeks, he had no idea what was going on with her.

“Ok, yeah, no problem,” Jane said, busying herself with the papers on her desk.

He felt like a jerk. He turned to Emma for help.

“Um…maybe Asher could get you and Aiden tickets for a game in Denver,” she said.

Perfect. Right there—that’s why he loved her so much. The thought made him pause. Love? Of course, love. She was his best friend.

“Right, Ash?” she said when he’d yet to confirm her suggestion.

“Oh, yeah…no problem.”

Jane smiled. “Aiden would love that. Thank you,” she said, sitting back down at her desk as the phone rang.

Emma’s eyes held a hint of amusement as he followed her into her therapy room.

“What?” he asked.

She closed the door behind them and grinned. “You just turned down a hot date to suffer through dinner at my sister’s house tonight.”

Oh shit.

**Excerpted from MAYBE THIS CHRISTMAS by Jennifer Snow. Copyright © 2017 by Jennifer Snow. Reprinted with permission of Forever. All rights reserved.  

This was another heartwarming, holiday read from Jennifer Snow about two best friends who found love with each other. You know me, I’m a sucker for a good friends-to-lovers story, and Maybe This Christmas delivered on the romance big time.

Asher Westmore and Emma Callaway have been best friends for years. Then they became best friends with benefits, which suited both of them just fine. Asher is a hockey placer for New Jersey while Emma is pursuing a snowboarding career. Then life comes at you fast.

For Emma, that change came when she took a serious tumble during a qualifying snowboarding competition for the Olympics, ending her career. These days, she’s a physical therapist in her small town of Glenwood Falls. Her friendship with benefits with Ash is going strong but lately, she had been feeling adrift. Not really sure whether she should get back into snowboarding or pursue a doctorate in physical therapy. There’s also her relationship with Asher. Emma’s feelings for her best friend is definitely deepening and she’s not quite sure if he feels the same.

Asher is about to hit a huge milestone of his career. He could almost taste it. But a knee injury and a hard hit from his own hockey-playing brother derailed that milestone for him. Now he’s back in Glenwood Falls to recuperate with Emma’s help, of course.

She was the one person in the world he always knew he could count on and the only one he wanted to be with.

While this book can be read as a standalone, I would highly recommend that you read the previous books in the series to get a background of Emma and Asher’s relationship. I don’t think it’s necessary but I think it would enhance your reading experience.

That said, I have not read any book in the series prior to this one but I didn’t feel lost and I was able to pick up the threads of the story very easily.

I enjoyed how Asher and Emma’s relationship transitioned from friends to so much more. It helped that the author already established that these two have an intimate physical connection. At the start of the book, they’ve been FWB for a long time. Years, I think. So it wasn’t a leap in any way.

Despite being friends and then lovers, they both had to deal with a lot of issues not just between them but also with their families and careers.

For Asher it’s dealing with his feelings of resentment for his brother Ben, Emma, and the thought of having to give up hockey. who always seem to achieve every accolade that Asher wants without struggle. Emma herself is dealing with a meddling sister and a father who is losing himself daily.

And speaking meddling…Emma’s sister Jess got on my last nerve.

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I mean, come on! She was positively heinous in her treatment towards Ash, turns up her nose at her sister’s accomplishment, and she makes decisions about Emma’s lovelife and career without consulting her. Sure, I believe that she’s doing it because she loves her sister but gah! It was still annoying. I had to resist the urge to throw my Kindle against the wall whenever she was in the scene because I just can’t deal with her meddling.

Fortunately for me, Jennifer Snow was able to write a really convincing romance between Asher and Emma. Despite some hiccups along the way, they were able to deal with their issues like adults. No unnecessary flouncing, drama or whatever. And Ash proved himself to be a really sweet and caring hero worthy of Emma and that one revelation in particular (which I won’t spoil here) sealed the deal for me.

So if you’re a fan of sports romance and the friends-to-lovers trope, I would recommend this book!

 

Jennifer Snow lives in Edmonton, Alberta with her husband and son. She writes sweet and sexy contemporary romance stories set everywhere from small towns to big cities. After stating in her high school yearbook bio that she wanted to be an author, she set off on the winding, twisting road to make her dream a reality. She is a member of RWA, the Writers’ Guild of Alberta, the Canadian Authors Association, and the Film and Visual Arts Association in Edmonton. She has published over ten novels and novellas with many more on the way.

 

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