Geri’s Review: Consumed by JR Ward

CONSUMED
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: JR Ward
Release Date: October 2, 2018

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the popular Black Dagger Brotherhood series comes a brand-new novel about arson investigator, Anne Ashburn, who is consumed by her troubled past, her family’s scorched legacy, and her current case: chasing a deadly killer.

Anne Ashburn is a woman consumed…

By her bitter family legacy, by her scorched career as a firefighter, by her obsession with department bad-boy Danny McGuire, and by a new case that pits her against a fiery killer.

Strong-willed Anne was fearless and loved the thrill of fighting fires, pushing herself to be the best. But when one risky decision at a warehouse fire changes her life forever, Anne must reinvent not only her job, but her whole self.

Shattered and demoralized, Anne finds her new career as an arson investigator a pale substitute for the adrenaline-fueled life she left behind. She doesn’t believe she will ever feel that same all-consuming passion for her job again–until she encounters a string of suspicious fires setting her beloved city ablaze.

Danny McGuire is a premiere fireman, best in the county, but in the midst of a personal meltdown. Danny is taking risks like never before and seems to have a death wish until he teams up with Anne to find the fire starter. But Danny may be more than a distraction, and as Anne narrows in on her target, the arsonist begins to target her.

From the creator of the bestselling Black Dagger Brotherhood, get ready for a new band of brothers. And a firestorm.

AMAZON | iBOOKS

 

This book has a lot of the elements I usually go gaga for. It has a competent but prickly stubborn heroine, a compelling but flawed hero, and a cast of interesting secondary characters. Unfortunately, it failed to capture my attention. I found myself struggling to finish each chapter that I wish I just DNF’d it. But this was a JR Ward book! So I kept reading, hoping that things will turn around but it didn’t happen. And so here we are.

So why did I struggle with this? I can give you three reasons why.

One. The slow-moving plot. And when I say slow, I meant SLOOOOWW. Not just the romantic element, which I’ll go into later, I’m talking here the overall plot. It was drawn out and bloated and it finished the same way. And the suspense element that was promised in the blurb didn’t materialize until after way past 50% in the book.

If you guys don’t know yet, there are two prequel novellas that were released for free prior this book. It pretty much sets up the events in this book and it gives readers an idea of why Danny and Anne’s relationship is the way it is in this book. After reading the prequels, I had assumed that since much of their past were already set up, this book would pick up the threads of their story and run with it.

Uhhh, that’s not exactly what happened because instead of running with it, this book walked… okay, that’s not exactly right, it’s more like crawled. In circles. Twice. To get to the point.

And what is the point? I’m still not quite sure really because even the resolution was meh. By the time, Anne and Danny got their act together, I was over it. I was over their romance. I was over the whole thing. I just didn’t really care anymore. Which brings us to my second point.

Two. The romance was lackluster. The romance aspect of this book was something I was looking forward to since reading the prequels. The first two novellas did a good job setting up Anne and Danny’s relationship from the get go. Unfortunately, the romance in Consumed did not live up to its promise.

Listen, I love me some slow burn romances as much as the next reader, but how can it be a slow burn when there’s no heat between the two character? Whatever chemistry they had, they left it in the prequels. Like the overall plot, the romantic conflict felt drawn out too. There wasn’t really any progress in Danny and Anne’s relationship. The push and pull worked for about a second but then it just started to get annoying. Just when you think there’s positive development in the relationship, it goes back to zero again because of their stubbornness, pride, miscommunication or misunderstanding. It’s exhausting.

And last but not the least, Consumed had too many POVs I didn’t really care for. Sometimes, multiple POVs can serve the story well. JR Ward certainly has done it successfully in the past. But it failed here mainly because those POVs didn’t really move the plot or show us anything about Anne or Danny, the two characters I do care about. The other POVs felt like fillers. It added pages to the book but not necessarily the story. By the time, the plot got going and our characters got their act together, I just lost interest.

Consumed had a lot of great elements going for it but it was bogged down by the pacing, the lackluster romance and the multiple POVs that I didn’t really care for.

Geri’s Review: Intercepted by Alexa Martin

INTERCEPTED
Series:  Playbook #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: Alexa Martin
Release Date: September 11, 2018

Marlee thought she scored the man of her dreams only to be scorched by a bad breakup. But there’s a new player on the horizon, and he’s in a league of his own…

Marlee Harper is the perfect girlfriend. She’s definitely had enough practice by dating her NFL-star boyfriend for the last ten years. But when she discovers he has been tackling other women on the sly, she vows to never date an athlete again. There’s just one problem: Gavin Pope, the new hotshot quarterback and a fling from the past, has Marlee in his sights.

Gavin fights to show Marlee he’s nothing like her ex. Unfortunately, not everyone is ready to let her escape her past. The team’s wives, who never led the welcome wagon, are not happy with Marlee’s return. They have only one thing on their minds: taking her down. But when the gossip makes Marlee public enemy number one, she worries about more than just her reputation.

Between their own fumbles and the wicked wives, it will take a Hail Mary for Marlee and Gavin’s relationship to survive the season.

 

AMAZON | iBOOKS | KOBO | B&N

 

Intercepted was an enjoyable sexy romp from start to finish! One of the most enjoyable aspect about this book was the author’s voice. This is Alexa Martin’s first book, and I can’t wait to read more from her because I absolutely enjoyed her voice in this book. It’s snarky but it also has a lot of heart.

When we first met Marlee in the book, her identity is pretty much tied to her status as the girlfriend to an NFL player. She has some dreams of her own, but she had to put them to the side in order to accommodate her boyfriend’s whims and desires. It wasn’t until she broke up with Chris after finding out he’s been cheating on her, that we finally get to see Marlee live her life according to her own rules. Her breakup with Chris also opened up the possibility of a romance with the new team quarterback, Gavin Pope.

Gavin Pope was a revelation! I was pleasantly surprised by how amazing and perfect this character is for Marlee. Sports romances tend to have playboy heroes until the heroine with his lifestyle being part of the conflict. But Gavin was not like that at all, which was refreshing. He is not without flaws but it was fantastic to read about a hero that’s actually a good and solid guy.

But the star in this book was Marlee. I think readers will love being in Marlee’s head. Her snarky commentary about her life was refreshing. Alexa Martin’s stylistic choice of having Marlee mentally hashtagging significant moments in the book worked really well. It’s fun and it’s so Marlee. However, I feel like this choice would date the book. And as much as it feel fresh and new now, I don’t think it will age well. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

This book feels like an inside track into the lives of the women behind the scenes. I’m not a huge fan of reality television that follows the same broad ideas as this book, but it worked for me here. Maybe because the scope is smaller, and Marlee is such a sympathetic character that you immediately root for her. My only complaint about this one was the antagonists. They weren’t very developed or interesting for that matter.

Despite those issues, this was such a joy to read, one that I would highly recommend for readers who love sports romance.

Geri’s Review: Rebel Hard by Nalini Singh

REBEL HARD
Series:  Hard Play #2
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: Nalini Singh
Release Date: September 18, 2018

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh continues her Hard Play series with a sweet, sexy romance featuring big, fat, OTT weddings, a meddling grandma, and a too-serious hero who needs to be unbuttoned…

Nayna Sharma agreed to an arranged marriage in the hope it would heal the fractures in her beloved family… only to realize too late that a traditional marriage is her personal nightmare. Panicked, she throws caution to the winds, puts on the tiniest dress she can find, and ends up in the arms of a tall, rough-edged hunk of a man who has abs of steel—and who she manages to mortally insult between one kiss and the next.

Abandoned as a child, then adopted into a loving family, Raj Sen believes in tradition, in continuity. Some might call him stiff and old-fashioned, but he knows what he wants—and it’s a life defined by rules… yet he can’t stop thinking about the infuriating and sexy woman who kissed him in the moonlight then disappeared. When his parents spring an introduction on him, the last woman he expects is her. Beautiful. Maddening. A rulebreaker in the making.

He’s all wrong for her. She’s all wrong for him. And love is about to make rebels of them both.

 

 

AMAZON | iBOOKS | KOBO | B&N

 

There isn’t a sub-genre in romance that Nalini Singh can’t do.  I was blown away by just how good she is the moment I started reading Rebel Hard. It is, hands down, my favorite Nalini Singh contemporary to date!

Forget about internet dating. All this traditional meet and greet and reject stuff was brutal.

The romance between Raj Sen and Nayna Sharma will make you swoon and will put a dopey smile on your face. Seriously. This book is one of those books that makes go, “This is why I read and love romance!” Because it’s true. Rebel Hard is tropey, and it employs a trope that you don’t see often in romances nowadays, or at least not as well done: the arranged marriage trope.

Raj and Nayna both came from Indian families who believes in tradition, and that includes arranging marriages for their kids. I loved how Nalini Singh tackled this trope in relation to Indian family culture. Singh makes you understand and accept arrange marriages as reality and even gets you invested in them.

The very things that centered Raj were her worst nightmare.

It is often said that a book is only as good as its central conflict. And there is no better conflict than a conflict of ideology. I think that can to romance as well. Raj, because of his experience being abandoned as kid, wanted nothing stability offered by his tradition, and that is finding a wife who will keep the house and raise the kids. It’s the exact opposite of Nayna’s point of view. She grew up under her beautiful but rebellious shadow. When her older sister eloped with a guy their parents did not approve, Nayna overcompensated by being a good daughter, stifling her dreams in order to please her family.  So while she was attracted to Raj, she couldn’t commit knowing that Raj wanted something she might not be able to give. The conflict, and how Nalini Singh chose to resolve it gave me all the feels. Even though in the back of my mind, I know they’re going to have their HEA but the journey they had to travel to get there was best thing to read ever.

It’s easy to root for a character when that character is like Nayna. I was rooting for her to find love with Raj without sacrificing who she is and her dreams. No one should give up who they are because of a guy no matter how gorgeous and amazing they are. And Raj is amazing. Singh did a phenomenal job of showing Nayna’s strength and vulnerability. Her motivation was clear from the onset, which is why for me, her doubts and fears about commitment made sense. She’s definitely one of my favorite Nalini Singh heroines ever.

Raj is the perfect hero for Nayna. I really don’t know how Nalini Singh does it but once again, she gave us another hero to swoon over. I probably sound like a broken record now but Raj is amazing and one of Singh’s best contemporary heroes ever. He’s far from perfect. He’s stubborn and he had some pretty weird ideas about and love and marriage I did not agree with. But what made me love him was how he slowly realized that he was wrong and how he changed his behavior. Most of all, Raj is just gone for Nayna. He fell so hard for her and the length he went through to show Nayna that was adorable. And the sexting!!?! Omg, it was so hilarious.

“I got the Pride and Prejudice audiobook and listened to a chunk of it while working on a site today. Mr. Darcy is kind of a dick.”

The other element that added to my love for this book was the Indian family dynamics and culture. I love that the characters 90% of the characters in this book are Indian living their full happy lives in New Zealand. I’ve been gravitating to non-US set, diverse books as of late and Rebel Hard definitely fits everything I’ve been craving for in my romance. While showing the characters cultures isn’t really a requirement for me in order to enjoy my romance book, I appreciate it when it does. And this book shows a lot of Nayna and Raj’s culture. I thoroughly enjoyed the interaction Nayna and Raj had with their families and community. It made me appreciate and love the characters even more.

Rebel Hard was a joy to read from start to finish. Hilarious, poignant, and sexy, Rebel Hard is everything I wanted in my contemporary romance. Nalini Singh’s writing shines through as she takes us through Nayna and Raj journey to HEA.

Geri’s Review: Magic Triumphs by Ilona Andrews

MAGIC TRIUMPHS
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Author: Ilona Andrews
Release Date: August 28, 2018

Mercenary Kate Daniels must risk all to protect everything she holds dear in this epic, can’t-miss entry in the thrilling #1 New York Times bestselling urban fantasy series.

Kate has come a long way from her origins as a loner taking care of paranormal problems in post-Shift Atlanta. She’s made friends and enemies. She’s found love and started a family with Curran Lennart, the former Beast Lord. But her magic is too strong for the power players of the world to let her be.

Kate and her father, Roland, currently have an uneasy truce, but when he starts testing her defenses again, she knows that sooner or later, a confrontation is inevitable. The Witch Oracle has begun seeing visions of blood, fire, and human bones. And when a mysterious box is delivered to Kate’s doorstep, a threat of war from the ancient enemy who nearly destroyed her family, she knows their time is up.

Kate Daniels sees no other choice but to combine forces with the unlikeliest of allies. She knows betrayal is inevitable. She knows she may not survive the coming battle. But she has to try.

For her child.

For Atlanta.

For the world.

AMAZON

Goodbyes are hard, and it’s even harder when you’re saying goodbye to a series that you’ve lived and breathed for the last year or so. I never expected how much this series would come to mean to me when I started reading Magic Bites last year. After 9 books, several novellas and one spin-off later, we finally get the final book in Ilona Andrews’ wildly successful Kate Daniels series, and they delivered!

“You and me, Kate. We’re forever.”

Magic Triumphs delivered an ending I will not soon forget. Ilona Andrews had painstakingly laid the foundations of this finale over the course of 10 books and several novellas.Everything that happened in this book was foreshadowed in previous books and delivered in a way that only Ilona Andrews can. I finished this book satisfied and yet oddly, craving for more.

Kate has come a long way from a prickly mercenary who had no friends to a being a loving wife to Curran and now mother to Conlan. But Kate and Curran are on borrowed time. Roland has been relatively quiet after the events in Magic Binds but the specter of his presence has never left Kate or Curran. As long as he is alive he continues threaten the lives of those that Kate loves. This time, there’s even more at stake because Kate and Curran just had a baby, and we all know how Roland likes shiny new things, and Conlan is that shiny new thing that Roland wanted. Honestly, I couldn’t really blame Roland for wanting Conlan because this kid is seriously one of the best addition to this series.

But Roland isn’t the only power threatening Atlanta. An old nemesis is back to settle an old family score. And when I say old, I mean, really, really OLD. I got to say that out of all of Kate’s enemies, this enemy is probably the most powerful. Kate had battled a lot of super powerful beings, including Roland, but this enemy is on another realm in terms of power and the depth of its cruelty. This is the first time where I felt like Kate can’t win, not without Roland’s help. I was so anxious while I was reading it for the first time that after I was done, I couldn’t think straight. I had to reread the entire series and then reread Magic Triumphs again just to give myself time to take it all in because I felt like I missed a lot of things. Boy, was I glad I did that because everything made even more sense.

As I mentioned, everything that happened in this book has been set up in the earlier books. I was lucky enough to be able to re-read the whole series including some of the novellas before I read this book, and it really hammered home the level of dedications the Andrews have to building this world. The level of foreshadowing and call backs they employed throughout the series was nothing short of amazing. So a word of caution. If you’ve missed a book in the series, you better hurry before this one comes out because Magic Triumphs is the third act in the Kate and Roland saga, it wouldn’t make much sense if you haven’t read the rest of the series. This is the culmination of everything so it would be a mistake to read this book without reading the first nine books that came before it, including Iron and Magic.

I’m not going to go into plot details because I think you guys should experience that first-hand, but let me just say that this book packs a wallop. But because Kate’s world is so large now, it’s understandable that some characters get lost in the shuffle or don’t get as much page time as others. Rest assured that the major players are there front and center though. Some notable characters for me aside from Kate, Curran and Conlan are Dessandra and Adora. Man, I really want a Dessandra book now. It’d be hilarious and full of inappropriate things. Adora really surprised me here. I ended up really enjoying her character even more.

And to answer the question on everyone’s mind right now: are there any deaths? Yes, there are notable deaths. And yes, I said “are” so multiple characters are going to die. There’s one death that was kind of disappointing only because we didn’t get to see it but other than that, I have no complaints.

Reading Magic Triumphs was such a rewarding experience from start to finish. The amount of time I’ve invested in this series was so worth it. As much I would love to continue reading about Kate, I’m glad Ilona Andrews decided to end this part of her journey because while I would miss the feeling of looking forward to a new KD each year, Kate deserves her rest and her HEA.

“I promise you this morning wouldn’t be the last time,” he told me. “I keep my promises.

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!

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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!

Copyright © 2015 · Dirty Girl Romance

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