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Thursday, October 11, 2018

REVIEW: Consumed by J.R. Ward


Consumed (Firefighters, #1)Consumed by J.R. Ward
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Consumed is the type of romance thriller that fans of J.R. Ward have come to expect from this bestselling author. Not only is there scorching romance but also the building of relationships with depth and vulnerability as well as plotting an entertainingly intricate mystery. What I enjoyed most was the development of this new community of not only firefighters but characters who are family, friends and even lovers.

As co-workers, Anne and Danny have a close relationship that must be hinged on trust; however, their complicated feelings for each other make it difficult to keep personal separate from professional. All that changes during a horrific warehouse fire that will change everything for Anne and Danny. Both have to come to terms with this event before they can move forward. And it just so happens that Anne's first case as an arson investigator hits a lot closer to home that anyone would have imagined.

This novel is fun, sexy but also a well developed thriller with loads of potential for the series.

A note for readers, Danny and Anne's story really begins in the two part novella, "The Wedding From Hell', which I recommend reading before Consumed.

View all my reviews

Friday, August 31, 2018

REVIEW: A Brand New Ending by Jennifer Probst

Expected Publication: October 23, 2018 by Montlake Romance

Publisher's Summary:
Ophelia Bishop was a lovestruck teenage girl when she and Kyle Kimpton chased their dreams to Hollywood. Kyle’s dreams came true. Ophelia’s did not. When Kyle chose his career over their relationship, Ophelia returned home to rural New York to run the family’s B & B—wiser, and more guarded against foolish fantasies. Now Kyle has come crashing back into her life, and all her defenses are down.

Kyle can’t think of a better place to write his latest screenplay than his hometown. After all, that was where he met the heart of his inspiration—his first love. He knows the damage he’s caused Ophelia, and he wants a chance to mend their relationship. If anyone can prove to Ophelia that happy ever afters aren’t only for the movies, it should be him.

As much as Ophelia’s changed, she still has feelings for Kyle. But her heart has been broken before, and she knows that Kyle could run back to Hollywood at any time. She gave up her dreams once, but maybe she can dare to change her own love story…one last time._________________________________

The second in the Stay' series, A Brand New Ending features Ophelia and Kyle, soulmates whose youthful romance ended nearly ten years before; however, Kyle is back, determined to change the ending to their story. As teens, they kept their romance secret, eloping in Vegas, and then pursuing their dreams in California--Kyle to become a successful writer and Ophelia, a singer. 

Readers discover that Kyle had overnight success, but becoming consumed with work, he failed to recognize Ophelia's distress about not wanting to be in the spotlight.  In short, their relationship is broken, and after one too many promises is broken, Ophelia leaves, seeking the solace of her family and the B&B in New York.

With Kyle's return, Ophelia is flooded with intense emotions and a good dose of sizzling hormones. The attraction is still there, but she is scared she'll end up hurt again.  Kyle is determined to change her mind; however, their relationship is not the only part of his past that he needs to make peace with--namely his recovering, alcoholic father.

Oh, and that divorce they assumed was final ;) turns out they are still married, but will it end it bliss or unhappily ever after?

Once again, Probst delivers and engaging, character driven contemporary romance that will have reader's wanting more.

Final rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

REVIEW: From Here to You by Jamie McGuire

Publisher's Summary:
As Darby Dixon sits in a tiny Texas church bathroom on her wedding day holding a positive pregnancy test, she realizes that of all the bad decisions she's made in her life, marrying her abusive fiancé would be the worst. She's never been able to stand up for herself, but she'll sure as hell stand up for her baby. With just the cash she has on hand, she runs to get a bus ticket to the farthest place she can afford. Between her sheer grit and pageant-queen smile, she lands a job as a front desk clerk at the Colorado Springs Hotel. It's not a glamorous life, but she and her baby are all that matters.

A former Marine, Scott "Trex" Trexler has worked in the most dangerous, corrupt, war-torn places on earth. Now he finally has a chance to return to the last place he'd felt at peace--Colorado Springs, Colorado, to take a new job with the Cheyenne Mountain Complex, a top-secret military installation buried deep within the granite.

The moment Trex walks into the inn, Darby knows he's dangerous. There's no way she wants to get involved with another man who seems to be keeping way too many secrets. As charming and devastatingly gorgeous as Trex is, he clearly isn't telling her everything. But as wildfires rage on the mountain and Darby's ex-fiancé shows he isn't so willing to let her go, both she and Trex are soon to find out that what you don't know absolutely can hurt you.

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Loosely connected to the Maddox Brothers books by the same author, From Here to You tries hard to be a sweeping romance full of angst and too much extra plot. Unfortunately, the relationship that develops between Darby and Trex feels predictable, trite and far too rushed. From the first few chapters, it is too easy to for readers to predict the outcome--Ex beauty queen Darby, discovering she's pregnant, flees her abusive soldier fiance and lands in Colorado Springs.  Low and behold, ex Marine, ex FBI, current private government contractor, Trex appears as her knight in shining armor.

They're soulmates! But Darby can't make up her mind and tends to make some really impulsive, stupid decisions and Trex is far too enamored with her to see that things might get worse before they get better.

**SPOILER**

Reader's can see abusive Shawn's return a mile away. Darby does some stupid things that put her and her baby's lives in jeopardy but convenient that Trex and his super team of highly trained ex-soldiers can fix it.

Honestly, I wanted to like it, but the pacing was slow and reading to the end felt like work rather than escapism. A 3 out of 5 is generous since it should be more like a 2.5 out of 5.

There are similar authors like Colleen Hoover and Jay Crownover who handle the genre with more flare.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

REVIEW: Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren

Expected Publication: September 4, 2018 from Gallery Books

Publisher's Summary:
Hazel Camille Bradford knows she’s a lot to take—and frankly, most men aren’t up to the challenge. If her army of pets and thrill for the absurd don’t send them running, her lack of filter means she’ll say exactly the wrong thing in a delicate moment. Their loss. She’s a good soul in search of honest fun.

Josh Im has known Hazel since college, where her zany playfulness proved completely incompatible with his mellow restraint. From the first night they met—when she gracelessly threw up on his shoes—to when she sent him an unintelligible email while in a post-surgical haze, Josh has always thought of Hazel more as a spectacle than a peer. But now, ten years later, after a cheating girlfriend has turned his life upside down, going out with Hazel is a breath of fresh air.

Not that Josh and Hazel date. At least, not each other. Because setting each other up on progressively terrible double blind dates means there’s nothing between them...right?
 
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I absolutely adored everything about this! Hazel is a hoot. Free spirited and hilarious, reader's can see why she hasn't met the right guy.  Her lack of filter is refreshing.  Josh is her polar opposite. Despite their bargain to 'not date', these two are actually perfect for each other. I also appreciated that the authors chose a male protagonist who was not the stereotypical 'hot, white guy'. Part of Josh's charm and sex appeal is his Korean heritage and relationship with his family.

It is no secret that I'm a sucker for friends turned more romances and this checks all the boxes. Josh and Hazel's history plus the disastrous blind dates are hilariously entertaining!

This writing due continues to excel with great, funny, sexy relationship reads. I don't often give perfect ratings but I enjoyed every minute of this book, even laughing out loud quite a bit.  My only misgiving was that it ended far too soon.  I want more!!!

Final rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

REVIEW: Wild Hunger by Chloe Neill

Publisher's Summary:
In the first thrilling installment of Chloe Neill's spinoff to the New York Times bestselling Chicagoland Vampires series, a new vampire will find out just how deep blood ties run.

As the only vampire child ever born, some believed Elisa Sullivan had all the luck. But the magic that helped bring her into the world left her with a dark secret. Shifter Connor Keene, the only son of North American Central Pack Apex Gabriel Keene, is the only one she trusts with it. But she's a vampire and the daughter of a Master and a Sentinel, and he's prince of the Pack and its future king.

When the assassination of a diplomat brings old feuds to the fore again, Elisa and Connor must choose between love and family, between honor and obligation, before Chicago disappears forever.


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As an avid fan of the Chicagoland Vampires, I was super excited about this book! First off, I definitely recommend reading the other series in full as well as book 13.5 Slaying It (a novella of an adventure during Merit's pregnancy with Elisa).

So, some twenty odd years have passed. Elisa is all grown up, so is Connor (and Catcher and Mallory's daughter Lulu). Elisa has returned to Chicago after leaving for Paris to finish school and on a quest to find herself.  As the only person ever 'born' a vampire and as Ethan and Merit's kid, it hasn't always been easy. Plus, she's never told anyone but Connor about the dark magical secret that dwells inside her. 

Neill does what she does best. She's built an intriguing narrative rife with romance, action, adventure and tension (both political and inter-species). I'm really looking forward to future books to see how the characters develop and what is in store for Chicago!

Final rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Thursday, August 16, 2018

REVIEW: Serpentine by Laurell K. Hamilton

Publisher's Summary:A remote Florida island is the perfect wedding destination for the upcoming nuptials of Anita's fellow U.S. Marshal and best friend Edward. For Anita, the vacation is a welcome break, as it's the first trip she gets to take with wereleopards Micah and Nathaniel. But it's not all fun and games and bachelor parties...

In this tropical paradise Micah discovers a horrific new form of lycanthropy, one that has afflicted a single family for generations. Believed to be the result of an ancient Greek curse, it turns human bodies into a mass of snakes.

When long-simmering resentment leads to a big blowout within the wedding party, the last thing Anita needs is more drama. But it finds her anyway when women start disappearing from the hotel, and worse--her own friends and lovers are considered the prime suspects. There's a strange power afoot that Anita has never confronted before, a force that's rendering those around her helpless in its thrall. Unable to face it on her own, Anita is willing to accept help from even the deadliest places. Help that she will most certainly regret--if she survives at all, that is.
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Unfortunately, Serpentine is yet another entry in the Anita Blake series that loses the bite and luster of the series' heyday circa books 1 thru about 10.  There is too much repetitive nonsense that readers of the series have endured for the past 15+ books.

Yes, Anita lives an unconventional, polyamorous life. Yes, she and her partners are okay with it. Why then do readers have to go through the same conversations each book? It feels like a vicious cycle.  If we're still reading, we get it, we can deal with it, so move on and get back to good paranormal monster/police investigations plots with a smidgen of steamy romance fun and not these droll dialogues that go in circles.

Serpentine is a step up from Dead Ice but again lacks storytelling flare. The is too much wedding and relationship drama while the connecting paranormal aspects are not fully explored and wrapped up too quickly in the last 10% of the novel. Elements I did like were appearances by Jean Claude, Micah, Nathaniel, and Nicky. Edward is always a treat and scary Olaf aka Otto shows up - plus eek freaky prediction for a future story tie-in w/ him as Anita's lion to call. I missed some of the other regulars and couldn't tell you a thing about the bodyguards who were present this book.

Why do I keep reading? I'm a glutton for punishment I suppose. Anita and Jean Claude have been a part of my live for more that 15 years. I can't quite give them up even if I'm disappointed with their current journey.

Final rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Monday, August 6, 2018

REVIEW: Bound by Gods by Eva Chase

*Thank you to Netgalley and Ink Spark Press for an ARC in exchange for a review)

The second book in the Their Dark Valkyrie series, Ari and the Norse gods (Loki, Thor, Baldur, Freya, and Hod) are still searching for Odin while trapped in a fake Asgard.  Their capture is none other than Odin's raven of memory, Munnin. 

Can they work together to free themselves while also forgiving each other for many past evils and hurtful transgressions?  Probably, but it is a long journey toward redemption.

I am enjoying this series. Ari is a good female protagonist and she is developing as a character over time. Chase has embodied the Norse gods well. Loki is sexy and sly; Thor a bit hot headed. The romance element to the series fits and who would be able to choose between all those alluring gods? Ari has decided not to!

This series is by no means perfect; however, they are a fun, easy and entertaining read.

Final rating: 4 out of 5 stars