Geri’s Review: All Your Perfects by Colleen Hoover

ALL YOUR PERFECTS
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: Colleen Hoover
Release Date: July 17, 2018

Colleen Hoover delivers a tour de force novel about a troubled marriage and the one old forgotten promise that might be able to save it.

Quinn and Graham’s perfect love is threatened by their imperfect marriage. The memories, mistakes, and secrets that they have built up over the years are now tearing them apart.

The one thing that could save them might also be the very thing that pushes their marriage beyond the point of repair.

All Your Perfects is a profound novel about a damaged couple whose potential future hinges on promises made in the past.

This is a heartbreaking page-turner that asks: Can a resounding love with a perfect beginning survive a lifetime between two imperfect people?

 

AMAZON

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!

It’s been a while since I’ve truly sat down and read a Colleen Hoover book until I came across the blurb for this book.

One. It has a marriage-in-peril trope that I love in my books. Two, the blurb along with the first chapter the author shared on social media truly captured my interest. Three. The meet-cute was quite unique. The whole book itself, however, was disappointing.

Quinn and Graham are two married couple whose marriage is on the brink of collapse. There were many things that contributed to this collapse, which readers will slowly learn but the main contributor to their marriage’s demise was Quinn’s infertility.

This was handled well by Hoover. As the book is told by Quinn, we get to experience her pain and bitterness first hand. And a lot of the scenarios that she mentioned rang very true. We immediately understand that this is a woman who is depressed and is barely holding on. Quinn’s POV benefited a lot from Hoover’s sparse but emotional prose. She captured Quinn’s pain so well.

Unfortunately, the past and present storytelling ruined the momentum for me. I hated it. Just when the story starts to get really interesting, you get pulled into the past again. It was Ugly Love all over again! Maybe it was an attempt to make the story more suspenseful than it is or emotional, but whatever the reason was, it didn’t work for me. I found myself getting angry and frustrated having to go back and forth to get the whole story.

Another thing that didn’t work for me were the secondary characters. Quinn’s mother was also a piece of work. She wasn’t a very developed character. She’s just there to be terrible and make Quinn feel bad. And now that I think about it, this book didn’t have a lot of characters. We get to meet Quinn’s sister and her husband, Quinn and Graham’s exes, and Graham’s sister, but they’re not very well-developed characters. They’re there to either prop up (Quinn’s sister) or tear down (Quinn’s mother) the two main protagonists. But I digress.

I didn’t really like Graham either. He is, in my opinion, one of Hoover’s weakest heroes. And I don’t know if it’s because we didn’t get his POV or whatever but he was just boring. The whole cheating thing—yes, it was cheating and there was really no justification for it—made me dislike him even more. I’m not even going to touch on his asinine reason for doing so but yeah, I wasn’t a fan of Graham at all. Not even his letters could make me like him.

And that ending? Ehhh. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t spectacular or fleshed out either. It felt very rushed. They opened the box, they cried, and everything just smoothed itself out. However, it was worth mentioning that they apologized to each other and renewed their commitment. But overall, it felt, I don’t know, underwhelming and rushed after all that build up.

Ultimately, this was too heavy-handed for me. Like it’s not enough that Quinn is infertile, she has to suffer more tragedy, she has get cheated on. But that wasn’t enough apparently because she has to miscarry and get a hysterectomy. I mean, goodness, the option to adopt was even taken away from her. There has to be more! More suffering, more hopelessness until it becomes a never-ending cycle of suck.

I was reading this book and I couldn’t help but think “Wow, CoHo really loves to torture her heroines.” Some of her last few releases had been a torture-fest for her female characters. I should be happy, I guess, that at least they’d get HEA but my gosh, she has to torture them first. Which brings me to my last point. One thing I realized about myself as a reader is that the more an author makes the heroine suffer by letting her go through tragedy after tragedy, after the less I care. Other readers have said this was an emotional book and I can see that, but it was just lost on me. It felt manipulative. From the way the whole story was structured to the ungodly amount of tragedy that befell the heroine, it felt manipulative. That was the whole feeling I had while reading this book.

Review: A Duke by Default by Alyssa Cole

A DUKE BY DEFAULT
Series: Reluctant Royals #2
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: Alyssa Cole
Release Date: July 31, 2018

Award-winning author Alyssa Cole’s Reluctant Royals series continues with a woman on a quest to be the heroine of her own story and the duke in shining armor she rescues along the way

New York City socialite and perpetual hot mess Portia Hobbs is tired of disappointing her family, friends, and—most importantly—herself. An apprenticeship with a struggling swordmaker in Scotland is a chance to use her expertise and discover what she’s capable of. Turns out she excels at aggravating her gruff silver fox boss…when she’s not having inappropriate fantasies about his sexy Scottish burr.

Tavish McKenzie doesn’t need a rich, spoiled American telling him how to run his armory…even if she is infuriatingly good at it. Tav tries to rebuff his apprentice, and his attraction to her, but when Portia accidentally discovers that he’s the secret son of a duke, rough-around-the-edges Tav becomes her newest makeover project.

Forging metal into weapons and armor is one thing, but when desire burns out of control and the media spotlight gets too hot to bear, can a commoner turned duke and his posh apprentice find lasting love?

AMAZON

“You’re my liege. You’re the person I’m fighting for.”

Alyssa Cole delivered another sweet and heartfelt romance with A Duke by Default! She continues to be one of my go-to contemporary romance authors these days. There’s just something about her stories and her characters that speaks to me as a reader. And this book, is a great example of what this talented author can do!

Portia Hobbs might be my favorite Alyssa Cole heroine to date. When she was introduced, she was a bit of a hot mess. She has a truckload of issues that made her an interesting character to me. I didn’t like her that much in A Princess in Theory but I was curious about her. And I knew that Alyssa Cole is going to do her story justice.

She was done with fuckboys, and fuckbosses for that matter, no matter how sexy their accents were.

I was so right. Alyssa Cole not only made me sympathize with Portia, she made me love her. I wasn’t even halfway in when I knew without a doubt that Portia would become one of my favorite contemporary romance heroines. No joke. Cole did a fantastic job exposing all of Portia’s wounds, her hopes and dreams, and things that make her what or who she is. And I loved everything I read about her.

But it wasn’t just Portia who made this book for me. The hero, Tavish MacKenzie was Portia’s boss, and he’s grumpy and hot as hell. And if you’ve been following me for long enough, you’d know that I have a weakness for hot, grumpy heroes. Tav is a world-class grump, and he is perfect for Portia. Oh, he did some knuckleheaded things and had put his foot in his mouth a couple of times but he is a great hero.

Her boss acted like a gruff, annoying jerk, but dammit there was something about a man who could casually mention Middle Cornish at dinner conversation without sounding pretentious that Portia found irresistible. It didn’t matter—she would resist.

I loved these two characters individually and as a couple. Their romance was emotionally rich and compelling. It tugged at my emotions without being manipulative. The interaction between Tav and Portia is taut with sexual tension and chemistry, I had to stop and fan myself a couple of times because their chemistry was off the freaking charts.

But it wasn’t just their chemistry that drew me in. It was also the fact that these two characters genuinely liked and respected each other. Their banter and how they related to each other was just as satisfying as their red-hot chemistry.

Not only that, I also loved the way Alyssa Cole wrote the secondary characters in this book. None of them felt like throwaways. Even that librarian who was in the book for like two pages, made me smile. Cole makes you notice them. She has a knack of elevating secondary characters that makes you genuinely interested in reading about them. I adored Jamie and Cheryl as well as Tavish’s parents. His interactions with them is probably my favorites, outside of his interactions with Portia, of course.

“We were attracted to each other, we kissed, you humped my leg a little, and everything’s fine now.”

We also get to know Portia’s accomplished twin, Reggie. Although, I wish there was more of her. Two other standout characters that I really liked was Nya and Johann. Eeep! Oh my gosh, there’s so much I want to learn about these two. Again, I don’t want to spoil anything but, you guys, I’m even more excited to read the third book in this series. I cannot wait!

My only gripe about this book was the lack of epilogue. I mean, it doesn’t even have to have an epilogue but I wish the ending was longer. It felt abrupt to me and there were some confrontations that I wanted to happen. I’m going to spoiler tag them, so enter at your own risk:

Spoiler

One, I wish Portia get to confront her parents! I was really upset about the things they said, albeit they don’t realize how hurtful they were. But still, they really did a number on Portia.

Two. I wish Portia had told Tavish and Reggie and her parents about her ADHD diagnosis. I understood why Portia might have reservations but still, I wish she had told someone.

However, those things did not detract from my enjoyment of the book. Overall, A Duke by Default was fabulously charming read. You really won’t want to miss this one. I know some readers are worried about Portia because of the things she did in the first book, but guys, trust. Alyssa Cole made me love this imperfect character and if she can do that to me, I reckon, she has a chance of making you love Portia as well.

“You can think what you want about yourself, but I’ve two eyes and a brain in my head and the view right now? It’s bloody brilliant.”

Blog Tour Excerpt & Giveaway: The Proposition by A.M. Salinger

THE PROPOSITION
Series: Night Series #6
Genre: Erotic M/M Romance
Author: A.M. Salinger
Release Date: June 26th 2018

They call me the Charmer. My best friend Wade tells me it’s because I’m suave and mysterious. But he doesn’t know my secret. The one I’ve kept hidden from him for twelve years. The one I will never reveal to him — Rhys

They call me The Brute. Probably because of my physique. And, let’s face it, because I’m a total dick at times. So Rhys likes to tell me anyway. Thing is, there’s something Rhys isn’t telling me. Something I’m dying to hear from his lips. His sinful confession. You see, I know Rhys’s secret — Wade

Rhys Damon has spent most of his adult life watching Wade Tucker bed woman after woman, his dark desire for his best friend and business partner a secret he is determined to take to his grave, since he knows it will never be reciprocated. With their design firm thriving across two continents, Rhys finds himself content burying his heartache in a string of meaningless, casual sex arrangements. Until the night everything changes.

When Wade Tucker stumbles upon his best friend calling out his name as he pleasures himself, he knows his relationship with Rhys will never be the same again. A year later, the memory of what Wade saw is still branded in his mind and his feelings for Rhys have evolved into something he never anticipated. As tension mounts and the relationship between the two business partners becomes increasingly strained, things finally come to a head the night Wade follows Rhys and discovers him with another man.

After an explosive confrontation, Wade makes Rhys a proposition he can’t refuse: that they try things out for six weeks. Six weeks of exploring a side of each other they never knew before. Six weeks of torrid kisses and sultry touches. Six weeks of screamingly good, scorching hot sex. Six weeks of utterly losing themselves to one another.

But as the end of their proposition looms in sight, can Wade persuade Rhys that he wants more? Or will Rhys’s deep-seated fears stop him from fully surrendering his heart and soul to the one man he thought he could never have?

Discover Rhys and Wade’s wickedly intoxicating story in this sixth novella in the hot, contemporary romance series Nights by A.M. Salinger. Note from the author: although each book in Nights can be read as a standalone, you will enjoy this series even more if you read the books in order!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

Wade gritted his teeth as he stared at the two men sitting with their thighs touching and their heads tilted toward one another at the polished mahogany bar on the other side of the crowded club. Rhys chuckled at something his companion said and placed his hand on the man’s knee. The man covered Rhys’s fingers with his own and gripped them lightly.  

Wade’s entire body tightened where he sat in one of the booths at the back of Saron. His knuckles whitened on the glass in his hand. He brought it to his lips and took an angry gulp of his Scotch. The liquid scorched his throat and fanned the fire burning inside him.

Tonight was a night of many firsts for Wade.

It was the first time he’d stalked Rhys to see where his friend and business partner was going to go unwind for the day and have that elusive drink he’d mentioned.

It was the first time he’d been consumed with the intense longing to beat the shit out of a perfect stranger when he’d seen the man Rhys had met at an upscale restaurant in Shinjuku. As he sat in a cafe across the road and watched the pair have dinner through the glass windows of the restaurant, it didn’t escape Wade’s notice that Rhys’s companion looked very much like Wade himself. As that realization sank in, Wade found his indignation turning to fury.

It was also the first time he’d visited a gay club in Tokyo.

When he’d followed Rhys and his companion from the restaurant, Wade hadn’t been sure exactly what to expect. He’d told himself he would tail them until their final destination, wherever that may be. The fact that that could end up being the stranger’s place, or even worse, Rhys’s apartment, was a reality Wade told himself he would just have to deal with if it came to that.

Surprise had flashed through him when he’d spotted the club in the dingy alley they’d headed into. It had been rapidly superseded by outrage when he’d seen the asshole Rhys had had dinner with kiss Rhys’s hand before they entered the place.

The doorman had hesitated briefly when he’d seen Wade walk up to the club’s entrance. One look at the vein throbbing in Wade’s temple and a quick scan of his tailored suit and dress shoes was all it took for the man to unclip the rope guarding access to the place.

The interior of Saron had been Wade’s fourth surprise of the night. As he’d studied the unique decor of the club, Wade’s anger had reached boiling point. He could see Rhys’s touch all over the place and knew instinctively his business partner had kept this little side endeavor a secret from him too.

Wade wondered how many more of Rhys’s secrets he would uncover before this night was over.

He’d just glanced at his watch when movement to the right caught his gaze. A man was strolling down the steps of the club. At six foot three, with dark hair and a stubbled jaw, he was dressed in a casual suit and carried himself with a bearing that oozed confidence and sex appeal. The crowd parted ahead of him, the club patrons calling out greetings as he passed them, many following him with longing gazes.

The man headed behind the bar, dropped a kiss on the lips of the blond bartender who’d served Rhys and his companion, and greeted Rhys with a warm smile.

Wade scowled. And who’s this fucker?

Ava Marie Salinger is the pen name of an Amazon bestselling author who has always wanted to write scorching hot contemporary and erotic romance. In 2018, she finally decided to venture to the steamy side. NIGHTS is the first of several sizzling series featuring sweet, sexy men and women with dark pasts and a whole lot of love to give to the ones brave enough to fight for their hearts. When she’s not dreaming up hotties to write about, you’ll find Ava creating kickass music playlists to write to, spying on the wildlife in her garden, drooling over gadgets, and eating Chinese.

Want to be the first to know about Ava’s new releases and get access to exclusive content, sneak previews, sales, and giveaways? Then sign up to her Reader Group here (https://www.amsalinger.com/subscribe/) and join her VIP Facebook Fan Group here (https://www.fb.com/groups/avasnightsclub/).

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Geri’s Review: Scoring the Player’s Baby by Naima Simone

SCORING THE PLAYER’S BABY
Series: WAGS #3
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: Naima Simone
Release Date: July 9th 2018

 

After a divorce from her cheating football player ex, PR whiz Kim Matlock would rather drive a pine tree through her walled-off heart than work at the Seattle Wedding Expo.

And the last thing she expects is to be grabbed and kissed breathless by a hot giant of a man looking to fend off a stalker.

She doesn’t want emotional entanglements, but she can’t say no to one scorching night with the sexy stranger.

To her shock, she finds out afterward that a) he’s a pro football player, aka her kryptonite, and b) she’s pregnant.

But nothing could have prepared her for his response…

 

AMAZON

I’ll give you whatever you ask for. Use me in any way you need to erase those shadows in your eyes.”

One of the things that I really like about Naima Simone’s books are her characters. She writes hot-as-sin heroes and gorgeous, accomplished heroines. Scoring the Player’s Baby is no different. It’s a fun, sexy read with a lot of heart.

Ronin Palamo is living a life most men could only dream of. He’s playing for a championship caliber team and he doesn’t lack female companionship. He has it all. But it doesn’t take long for readers to notice that Ronin is hiding a deep wound. One that makes him wary of love and relationship. He doesn’t want it or need it. Or so he thought.

His resolve was tested when he meets Kim Matloc. Like Ronin, Kim is hiding wounds of her own. She was cheated on by her ex-husband who also happens to be a football player. She also issues with her birth father who basically abandoned her and her mother as a child. This makes Kim not trust men in general. She armored herself so no one could ever hurt her again.

I liked Ronin a lot, but I LOVED Kim even more. She’s a successful woman who is constantly underestimated by people. Except for her half-brother, Kim has been hurt by the men in her life and I did not blame her a bit for disbelieving Ronin.

It took me awhile to warm up to Ronin. This is mostly due to personal preference. While I enjoy sexy, gregarious heroes, I don’t really gravitate to them all that much. I prefer a grumpier type hero and Ronin is the exact opposite of that. He’s full of personality which can be overwhelming at times. It was when he shows his vulnerable side that he shines as a character. I also didn’t really like the constant reference to ‘being a pussy’ or the ‘man card’ in his POV. It was very distracting.

Despite those things, I enjoyed the banter between Kim and Ronin. I liked how they resolved their issues, and the grand gesture towards the end was really cute. Although, I must say that Ronin’s come-to-Jesus moment felt a bit rushed considering he seemed hung up on his dead ex-girlfriend. The epilogue, however, leaves little doubt in your mind as to Ronin’s devotion to Kim.

Overall, Scoring the Player’s Baby scored a 100 on the hotness scale. If you’ve enjoyed Naima Simone’s books before, you will find plenty of things to enjoy here.

Geri’s Review: It Takes Two by Jenny Holiday

IT TAKES TWO
Series: Bridesmaids Behaving Badly
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: Jenny Holiday
Release Date: June 26, 2018

In this hilarious romantic comedy, USA Today bestselling author Jenny Holiday proves that what happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas…
 
All’s fair in love and war
Wendy Liu should be delighted to be her best friend’s maid of honor. But after years spent avoiding the bride’s brother – aka the boy who once broke her heart – she’s now trapped with him during an endless amount of wedding festivities. Luckily she’s had time to perfect her poker face, and engaging Noah Denning in a little friendly competition might just prove that she’s over him for good…
Noah Denning is determined to make his little sister’s wedding memorable. But it seems Wendy is trying to outdo him at every turn. Challenging each other was always something he and Wendy did right, so when she proposes they compete to see who can throw the best bachelor or bachelorette party in Sin City, Noah takes the bait – and ups the stakes. Because this time around, he wants Wendy for keeps. And when you’re fighting for love, all bets are off.

AMAZON

Was this what being in love was like—being in a musical?”

Jenny Holiday is a new to me author that I started reading a couple of months ago. Her new series, Bridesmaids Behaving Badly centers around a group of friends who are bridesmaids in each other’s weddings. I really liked the first book in the series, One and Only, and of the standout characters I enjoyed in the book was Jane’s best friend, Wendy and her unrequited feelings for Jane’s older brother Noah. It Takes Two is their story. And let me tell you: I swooned and cried and smiled all the way because this book was fabulous.

It Takes Two has everything I want in my romance:

Firstly, it features a stubborn, prickly heroine who is hiding a soft gooey center. Wendy has abandonment issues and a slew of other issues that made me want to give her a hug. She’s also smart, loyal, and a good friend to her girlfriends.

Secondly, Noah is a caretaker hero who is endearing and solid, and just an all around great guy to have in your life. Sure, he was a bit clueless in the beginning (hello! He’s a guy!) but I never got the idea that he was hurtful or mean towards Wendy.

Thirdly, and my most favorite of all, is the strong bond between these 4 female friends. I LOVE female friendship in books. Seriously. Romance books should feature more women supporting other women. This book is filled with so much love and affection between female friends. I just loved reading about these girls and their devotion to each other.

And last but not the least, it has two of my favorite tropes: unrequited love and in-love-with-bestfriend’s-brother. I, a seasoned romance reader who loves her tropes, am predisposed to like this book. No question about it. This book was written for readers like me.

My only gripe about this book, and this is a minor one and it’s probably just me, is that the middle and towards the end lagged a bit in terms of pacing. It rebounded with the ending but I just noticed how the story slowed down a bit in the middle. While it didn’t affect my enjoyment for the book that much considering I still really enjoyed it, I’m mentioning it here to give other readers a heads up.

Other than that, It Takes Two was everything I was hoping for. I enjoyed it and if you like the things I mentioned above, you might enjoy this one, too!

Geri & Lana’s Review: Wicked and the Wallflower by Sarah MacLean

WICKED AND THE WALLFLOWER
Series: Bareknuckle Bastards #1
Genre: Historical Romance
Author: Sarah MacLean
Release Date: June 19th, 2018

When Wicked Comes Calling…

When a mysterious stranger finds his way into her bedchamber and offers his help in landing a duke, Lady Felicity Faircloth agrees—on one condition. She’s seen enough of the world to believe in passion, and won’t accept a marriage without it.

The Wallflower Makes a Dangerous Bargain…

Bastard son of a duke and king of London’s dark streets, Devil has spent a lifetime wielding power and seizing opportunity, and the spinster wallflower is everything he needs to exact a revenge years in the making. All he must do is turn the plain little mouse into an irresistible temptress, set his trap, and destroy his enemy.

For the Promise of Passion…

But there’s nothing plain about Felicity Faircloth, who quickly decides she’d rather have Devil than another. Soon, Devil’s carefully laid plans are in chaos, and he must choose between everything he’s ever wanted…and the only thing he’s ever desired.

AMAZON | iBOOKS | B&N

GERI’S REVIEW

Sarah MacLean’s new Bareknucle Bastards series is off to a strong start with Wicked and the Wallflower. It’s a passionate and intriguing tale of three brothers who’re bound by the secrets of their pasts.

“You don’t need lessons in fire. You are an inferno.”

Wicked and the Wallflower is about the first brother, Devon, known as Devil to everyone—friends and enemies alike. Devil immediately captures the attention. At the start of the book, his only goal was to uphold a promise from his past but it’s how he goes about achieving those goals that put him immediately in the anti-hero category for me.

In spite of that, Sarah MacLean was convincing in her campaign to show her readers that Devil deserves the heroine and a HEA. One of the reasons for this is the heroine Felicity Faircloth.

Felicity Faircloth was perfection—the first taste of it Devil had ever had.

She was Devil’s equal and his perfect foil. She is innocent but she’s far from naïve. Felicity is similar to Devil is some ways. She was relegated to the fringes of polite society, just like Devil. But unlike Devil, she wanted to be a part of it. So when Devil offered her a chance to be a part of the ton, she took the chance, not knowing that it’s going to bring her ruination once again.

“If I were going to take advantage of you, I would approach from the front, Felicity Faircloth. In full view, so you would have the joy of expecting me.”

I loved how Devil and Felicity interacted with each other. Brilliantly written dialogue is one of MacLean’s skill, and it’s on full display here. You could feel the sexual tension and the chemistry in each of those encounters. Aside from that, there’s a lot of longing in this book! One of the things that make for a grand romance is to have two characters who desperately want each other but their circumstances and their own fears are keeping them apart. Hence, the longing. Devil and Felicity’s longing for each other will make you sigh and swoon at the same time.

I also enjoyed how Devil’s interactions with his siblings. You can sense their shared pain and history together. Their dysfunction is evident and Sarah MacLean is a master at giving us a taste of what’s coming. And just based on what she showed us about Whit and Ewan and Grace, I’m already mentally lining up for the next books in the series.

“I’m going to steal you,” he confessed again. “I’m going to steal you and make you mine.”

Wicked and the Wallflower is very character driven. Yes, there’s a plot but it’s not what drives the story forward; it’s the characters and their motivations. There’s also a lot of intrigue and secrets that I feel would come into play in later books. The seeds are there, and I’m excited to see where it leads.

Fans of Sarah MacLean and historical romances will find plenty of things to enjoy in this book. The characters, the romance and the intrigue will keep you entertained and make you swoon like a romance novel should. I highly recommend it.


LANA’S REVIEW

Felicity Faircloth was perfection—the first taste of it Devil had ever had. She tasted like a promise.

Wicked and the Wallflower is the first installment in a brand new series that’s sure to be a new addiction for me from one of my favorite historical romance authors. However, I’ve been sitting on my rating for this book for a couple weeks now, somewhat stumped in how to rate it. I was completely enamored with the story in the first 15%, then somewhere along the way it began to lose me, only to reel me back in in the second half.

This world is all sin, Felicity, and I am the worst of it.”

I love a broody and broken hero, and Devil certainly fits the bill. This is a man that went through hell as a child, only to come up swinging. Now he’s one of the notorious Bareknuckle Bastards, as rich as he is ruthless, and running a crime ring in the heart of Covent Garden. For years, Devil has yearned for revenge against those that wronged him and his family, and he’s so close he can taste it now. But a woman just may throw a wrench into his hard built plans.

You wish to do the consuming.” She wished to be wanted. Beyond reason. She wished to be ached for. “You wish for him to fly into your flame.”

Lady Felicity Faircloth is in desperate need to wed a Duke. A mistake has now put her on the outskirts of the Ton, and made her into a social pariah. Her only recourse to help herself and her family is to wed a Duke. But Felicity is no vain or mindless twit. This is a woman of passion that will not settle for anything other than true love; no matter how much her incredibly selfish family pushes her otherwise.

For surely, no man on earth should be as handsome as this one. He looked remarkably like his voice sounded. Like a low, liquid rumble. Like temptation. Like sin.

A bargain with the Devil just may be the answer she seeks, but it doesn’t go quite as planned.

I was instantly hooked from the first chapter of this book. I was intrigued by Devil and his story, as well as those of his brothers and sister. This was also the reason for my later struggle. Because while the author paints a beguiling picture with this character, she doesn’t quite give the character development that I yearned for. There’s a lot backstory to him that seems to happen off the pages, things that the reader is told, but you don’t quite feel it. I struggled with this for the better part of the first half of the book. I wanted more of a connection to Devil and his past.

Felicity was a heroine I loved straight away. She’s full of spark and sharp wit. I couldn’t get enough of her. In a world of propriety beyond all, she stood out like a flame. She knew what she wanted and she wasn’t afraid to voice it or to go after it. She was the perfect balance to Devil and I couldn’t get enough of their chemistry.

I’m going to steal you, instead,” he said then, knowing she’d hear the words as part of the story and not as she should—as the truth. “I’m going to steal you,” he confessed again. “I’m going to steal you and make you mine.” “It’s not theft if I allow it,” she whispered. Silly girl; of course it was. But it wouldn’t stop him.

The second half of the book is where it really hooked me. We get a lot more story on Devil (though never quite as much as I hoped for) and the romance truly begins to bloom.

Sarah MacLean has a way with words that I simply adore, and she has hooked me completely on The Bareknuckle Bastards. I’m captivated and already salivating to learn more about Beast, Cassie, and even more of the naughty Duke himself. The romance here was a slow burn but oh so satisfying. With plenty of chemistry to keep a reader yearning for Felicity and Duke’s HEA. So while it wasn’t quite what I had hoped, it still kept me glued to the pages and eager to see what happens in the end. I can’t wait for more in this series!

#DGRFave & Geri’s Review: Rainy Day Friends by Jill Shalvis

RAINY DAY FRIENDS
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Contemporary Romance
Author: Jill Shalvis
Release Date: June 19, 2018

Following the USA Today bestselling author of Lost and Found Sisters comes Jill Shalvis’ moving story of heart, loss, betrayal, and friendship

Six months after Lanie Jacobs’ husband’s death, it’s hard to imagine anything could deepen her sense of pain and loss. But then Lanie discovers she isn’t the only one grieving his sudden passing. A serial adulterer, he left behind several other women who, like Lanie, each believe she was his legally wedded wife.

Rocked by the infidelity, Lanie is left to grapple with searing questions. How could she be so wrong about a man she thought she knew better than anyone? Will she ever be able to trust another person?  Can she even trust herself?

Desperate to make a fresh start, Lanie impulsively takes a job at the family-run Capriotti Winery. At first, she feels like an outsider among the boisterous Capriottis. With no real family of her own, she’s bewildered by how quickly they all take her under their wing and make her feel like she belongs. Especially Mark Capriotti, a gruffly handsome Air Force veteran turned deputy sheriff who manages to wind his way into Lanie’s cold, broken heart—along with the rest of the clan.

Everything is finally going well for her, but the arrival of River Brown changes all that. The fresh-faced twenty-one-year old seems as sweet as they come…until her dark secrets come to light—secrets that could destroy the new life Lanie’s only just begun to build.

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Jill Shalvis new Wildstone series have been all winners for me starting with Lost and Found Sisters, followed by Good Luck Sister, and now Rainy Day Friends.


I’ve learned that life is a crapshoot, and at any moment someone can walk into it and change it forever.” 

 

I loved this book. I loved it more than I expected I would. That sounds like a backhanded compliment but let me explain. This book was marketed as Women’s Fiction, a genre that I read but not exactly my go-to genre. There’s always a risk of WF to fall short on the romance aspect. Not so with this book. Yes, this book is definitely about Lanie dealing about the death of her husband and the fallout of his infidelities. But what really gave this book its emotional weight was the romance between Lanie and Mark Capriotti.

Their romance made me swoon! It was definitely a huge part of the book, and I’m so happy for that. I need a healthy dose of romance in my WF and Rainy Day Friends delivered. The romance between Lanie and Mark is mature, passionate and emotional. In other words, it has ALL THE FEELS! And you guys know I’m all about the FEELS!

And now he had her in his arms, this amazing, prickly, suspicious, hardheaded woman that he was falling for in spite of himself because she was also sweet and kind and had the biggest heart of anyone he’d ever met.”

Lanie is prickly and suspicious. She’s not there to become part of the Capriotti clan no matter how friendly and inclusive they are. She’s there to do her job and escape dealing with the mess her husband left her with. I love LOVE prickly heroines and Lanie is fits the description to a tee. She’s also hiding a very soft center underneath prickly exterior. I’ve always enjoyed Jill’s uber competent and complex heroines, but Lanie just might be my favorite Shalvis heroine yet. I LOVE HER! I related to her so much. I understood her motivations and her reaction to her husband’s betrayal and other things made sense to me.

Not only did Jill hit it out of the park with her heroine, she also hit a homerun with the hero, Mark. If you love single parent heroes, then you will love Mark! He’s a devoted family man who loves his twin daughters. And while he did the whole, “I’m not looking for love and can’t offer you anything,” shtick for a while, he changed his tune very quickly when he realized his feelings for Lanie might be deeper than he originally thought. His interactions with his twin daughters are some of the highlights in the book for me. So pure and so heart-wrenching, I shed a tear or two.

The chemistry between these two are off the charts. I realize I sound like a broken record but I love how their romance developed. Theirs enhanced Lanie’s journey and the conflict she’s facing, and honestly, it’s the perfect balance between family drama and romance.

He hadn’t seen it coming, he hadn’t seen her coming, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t recognize a good thing when he saw it.”

There’s also a secondary romance here, which I really liked but won’t get into. It’s there and it has its own charm but it didn’t overpower the main romance between Lanie and Mark.

One aspect that I loved about this book was the Capriotti family. I fell in love with the whole lot of them! They love as passionately as they fight. They’re not perfect which made them all the more interesting to read. I really hope Jill Shalvis will continue to write about their family in future books because they got me like they did Lanie. They were that irresistible.

This book also has one of the most emotionally intense confrontation I’ve read in a Jill Shalvis book. I cried for Lanie. My heart broke for her. And what I really liked about it is that it didn’t feel like I was manipulated. The conflict and the road to that confrontation was so well written that it really hits you when it happened. And it’s not just that one moment in particular, it’s the way Lanie processed her emotions when confronted with that something that got to me. That, in my opinion, is great writing.

This is one of the best I’ve read this year so far. Rainy Day Friends delivered on the romance and I’m so happy it did. I highly recommend this book. If you loved Jill Shalvis, then this is a must read. If you’re just starting out reading her books, this is a great book to start. And even though this is technically the third book in the series, it can be read as a standalone.

Her life had been a train in a dark tunnel for a very long time. But it was like she’d somehow changed course and now she could see a little bit of light.” 

 

Geri’s Review: Ocean Light by Nalini Singh

OCEAN LIGHT
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Author: Nalini Singh
Release Date: June 12, 2018

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh dives beneath the surface of her Psy-Changeling world into a story of passionate devotion and selfless love…

Security specialist Bowen Knight has come back from the dead. But there’s a ticking time bomb in his head: a chip implanted to block telepathic interference that could fail at any moment–taking his brain along with it.

With no time to waste, he should be back on land helping the Human Alliance. Instead, he’s at the bottom of the ocean, consumed with an enigmatic changeling…

Kaia Luna may have traded in science for being a chef, but she won’t hide the facts of Bo’s condition from him or herself. She’s suffered too much loss in her life to fall prey to the dangerous charm of a human who is a dead man walking. And she carries a devastating secret Bo could never imagine…

But when Kaia is taken by those who mean her deadly harm, all bets are off. Bo will do anything to get her back–even if it means striking a devil’s bargain and giving up his mind to the enemy…

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I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Tautly plotted with dynamic characters and contains of the highest stakes—both romantic and plot-wise—in the series, Ocean Light will engage not just your mind but your heart as well.

Tonight was their impossible dream.

This book picks up not far from where the last book ended. Bowen Knight survived his assassination attempt but the chip in his brain is still degenerating and with time running out, his sister agrees to a deal with the Blacksea changeling clan to take Bo deep underwater to undergo an experiment that could save his life or end it.

I am so happy that this Nalini continued to build on this universe. We’ve only heard about the BlackSea changelings in previous books but in Ocean Light, they finally take the center stage. And what a fascinating world it is. Ms. Singh’s clever world building continues to fascinate and entranced. The BlackSea changelings have their own quirks that separate them from other changelings but what remains constant is their sense of belonging to a family, a pack, or a clan. This theme has been a constant from the very first Psy-Changeling book and continues with the Trinity series. It is again a huge theme here.

As I mentioned, this book has one of the highest stakes in the series. Don’t get me wrong. The stakes in these books are always high but in Ocean Light it is even more so. With Bo’s life on the line and the Trinity Accord being attacked from the inside, not to mention Kaia dealing with trauma and mental health issues, the characters are in constant state of peril in this book. There’s a sense of urgency and doom that I wasn’t exactly sure how the author was going to resolve everything but she did and did it wonderfully.

The romance between Bo and Kaia was just as satisfying as the mystery and intrigue. Singh is one of the masters of crafting a strong romantic conflict. Bowen is a human, a leader of the Alliance that wasn’t always trustworthy in the eyes of the changelings. He’s made errors in the past but his heart is always in the right place.

Promise me.” He grabbed her hand, pressed it to his cutting-edge mechanical heart that would keep going long after he fell. “If it goes wrong, you’ll walk away. Promise me.”

Kaia on the other hand is a changeling whose past made her distrustful of humans. She sees humans and the land as forces of destruction and loss. Bowen’s presence and her peculiar reaction to him puts Kaia in a very vulnerable position.

I love how the romance developed between them. There’s playfulness to their relationship that I found endearing to read. Their HEA was EARNED and it was SATISFYING.

Ocean Light delivers on the romance along with healthy sprinkling of mystery and intrigue that will hold your attention from beginning to end. This is another win for Nalini Singh, and I highly recommend that you start from the very beginning with Slave to Sensation. Yes, it’s a lot of books and you can probably start with Silver Silence and still enjoy or even love the books but I highly HIGHLY recommend starting with the original Psy-Changeling series.

DGR Fave & Geri’s Review: The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

THE KISS QUOTIENT
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Romantic Comedy
Author: Helen Hoang
Release Date: June 5, 2018

A heartwarming and refreshing debut novel that proves one thing: there’s not enough data in the world to predict what will make your heart tick.

Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases–a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.

It doesn’t help that Stella has Asperger’s and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice–with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan.

The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can’t afford to turn down Stella’s offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan–from foreplay to more-than-missionary position…

Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but to crave all the other things he’s making her feel.

Soon, their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic…

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All the things that make you different make you perfect.”

Oh my gosh, this book!

I’ve seen my friends gush about Helen Hoang’s debut for a month or so, and being a contrarian that I am, I tried to temper my expectations. I’ve been here before. Everyone I know loved a book and I’m like, ‘meh’. But that’s not the case here.

The Kiss Quotient not only met my expectations, IT EXCEEDED IT!

I finished this book with a huge grin on my face (always a good sign) and full heart. These characters that Hoang brought to life in the pages of her book made me laugh, cry, and fall in love with them.

You’re very good at the talking part.”
“I’ve had sex. There isn’t a talking part.”
A spark danced in his eyes. “There’s definitely a talking part.”

Stella Lane is magnificent as Hoang’s heroine. She’s beautiful, smart, and kind. Her motivations were so wonderfully written and explored by the author that there’s really nothing I can say except, WOW. I just fell in love with her character just like Michael did.

And speaking Michael? Oh man, easily one of the best romance heroes ever. And I don’t say this lightly. Michael Larsen is a cinnamon roll. Sweet and gooey and perfect for Stella! He might be the sweetest and softest hero but he also owns one of the dirtiest mouth out there. In other words, he’s perfect.

Love, he found, was a jail. It trapped, and it clipped wings. It dragged you down, forced you to places you didn’t want to go.

In all seriousness though, this book is definitely one of the best I’ve read this year. Everything about it worked for me. The romance was excellent. The characters were multi-dimensional, even the secondary ones (please give us Quan’s book, please?), were interesting and had motivations you can relate to.  And lastly, don’t let the pretty pastel cover fool you ’cause this book is super steamy in the best way possible.

So yeah, I dig everything about this book and I hope you would read it and dig it too.

 

Geri’s Review: Grumpy Fake Boyfriend by Jackie Lau

GRUMPY FAKE BOYFRIEND
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: Jackie Lau
Release Date: May 22nd 2018

I’m a pretty simple guy. When I’m not writing a science fiction novel, I’m watching a good movie or reading a book.

Alone. I like my reclusive life.

That is, until my only friend asks for a favor—pretend to be his baby sister’s boyfriend on a couples’ getaway. Her ex is going to be there and she needs me as a buffer.

I should have said no, but Naomi is bubbly, energetic, and beautiful.

She also means everything to her brother.

But now, our fake romance is starting to feel all too real, and I find myself stuck between the promise I made to my friend and risking my heart to the one woman who might actually get me…

 

AMAZON

Grumpy Fake Boyfriend is exactly what I expected—a sweet, low-angst romance with cute banter, and fun, relatable characters.

Will Stafford is the aforementioned grumpy, fake boyfriend who was asked by a dear friend of his to pretend to be his sister’s fake boyfriend for the weekend. Will is many things but he is not a social person at all.

A weekend—a long weekend—with several people I don’t know in a freaking beach house while pretending to be someone’s boyfriend is pretty much the worst thing I could imagine.

But he owes Jeremy big time. So despite his reservations, he agreed to spend time with strangers and pretend to be someone’s boyfriend.

Enter Naomi Kwan. The bubbly, fun, beautiful sister in need of a fake boyfriend. She’s social, and she’s not afraid to put herself out there. A total opposite of Will. But the moment they met, the chemistry between them was undeniable.

We need to figure out our story. How did we meet? How long have we been dating?”

“A month,” I say. “We met through your brother.”

“You’re a writer. I thought you had better imagination than that.”

This was a fun book to read. Mainly because Will’s and Naomi’s inner monologue were a riot. They’re both hilarious. Their banter was cute and despite some personal issues I have with the writing style—first person present tense is not my favorite AT ALL—I was engaged and smiling all the way through. The characters were just so dang fun to read.

Jackie Lau was able to highlight the differences in their personality without feeling like it’s too much of a difference for them to be realistically together. That’s also an issue for me with the opposite attracts trope. Sometimes the two main characters are too much of an opposite that the HEA doesn’t feel believable. That wasn’t a problem here. The author was able to craft Naomi and Will’s personalities and still was able to convince me that they can work together as a couple.

Overall, this was a sweet and fun read. I finished this book with a smile on my face. So if you’re looking for some light, low-angst read, I would recommend this book.

Copyright © 2015 · Dirty Girl Romance

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