Lovers at Heart by Melissa Foster

I’m…confused. And frustrated.

What’s it About?

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Handsome, wealthy resort owner Treat Braden is used to getting what he wants. When Max Armstrong walked into his life six months earlier, he saw right through the efficient and capable façade she wore like a shield, to the sweet, sensual woman who lay beneath. She sparked an unfamiliar desire in him for more than a one-night stand, leaving his heart reeling and his blood boiling. But one mistake caused her to turn away, and now, after six months of longing for the one woman he cannot have, he’s going home to try to forget her all together.

Max Armstrong has a successful career, a comfortable lifestyle, and she’s never needed a man to help her find her way–until Treat Braden caught her attention at a wedding in Nassau, causing a surge of emotions too reminiscent of the painful past she’d spent years trying to forget. Max will do anything to avoid reliving that pain–including forgoing her toe-curling, heart-pounding desire for Treat.

When a chance encounter turns into a night of intense passion, Treat realizes that the mistake he made six months earlier may cause him to lose Max completely. He will do everything within his power to win her heart forever–and Max is forced to face her hurtful past head on for the man she cannot help but love.

First Impressions

This book is marked as “book 1” in the Bradens series, but this novel is obviously a continuation of events which took place in a previous book. Our two main characters met six months ago at a wedding, and it sounds like some sh*t went down there! I was so upset that we were never privy to this firsthand, as it made it almost impossible to understand the dynamic between our two characters. References are made that they were stuck in a boat together at one point?! After some further digging, it looks like although this series is marked as a stand-alone series, it’s actually part and parcel to the Love in Bloom series. My advice: read them in order!

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The Frustration Continues

Our female lead, Max, is one of the most frustrating characters I’ve ever come across. Honestly, I felt like she wasn’t really worthy of Treat. Apparently, Treat thought she had a one-night stand with another dude, even though they had some chemistry of their own. So, the next day, he kind of gives her a judgmental look.

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Every time he tries to apologize for this somewhat douchey move, she won’t give him the chance to get a word in edgewise. Therefore, he leaves her alone. Then she pursues him, but quickly comes up with some silly reason of why they can’t be together, so she runs from him. He tries to reason with her, and bring some compromise into their relationship, but she refuses to listen, and runs anyway. Her inability to listen to him at any point during the novel just seemed rather short-sighted to me.

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As if that wasn’t enough, Max then gets upset that Treat didn’t run after her! Dude, you’ve rejected this guy about 6 times now. How many times do you really expect him to come running, especially after you insist there’s no relationship between you two? It’s almost like this woman craves drama.

*A copy of this book was provided for an honest review*

Series: The Bradens, book 1. Love in Bloom, book 4. I found it extremely difficult to understand what happened between these two characters in previous novels. Read in order!

Should you read it? It’s really hard to judge this one seeing as it felt like I came into the middle of the series. Perhaps if I’d read them in order I would have had a more positive experience. However, I still found Max to be a rather annoying character who consistently ran from a great man.

Smut Level: There are some steamy scenes, including one in a bathtub.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $0.00 Kindle Price. World Literary Press. 386 Pages.

Christmas From Hell by R.L. Mathewson

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When the power goes out in the midst of a snow storm, and you’re trapped in a house with your sexy neighbor, there’s one sure-fire way to stay warm!

What’s it About?

Duncan Bradford is used to putting other people first even the annoying little jinx that lives next door, but when the unexpected happens and he starts to see her in a whole new light, he decides that it’s time that he acts more like a Bradford and takes what he wants.

First Impressions

The neighbor series is back y’all, and with all the silliness and sexiness of the first few books. I’ve been a huge fan of this series for quite some time now, but the last book took on a bit of a serious note. In this novel however, we are once again privy to a feel-good story that will make you laugh, yet also blush from some steamy scenes between a clumsy female lead, and a sexy Bradford with quite the appetite. For both food and the horizontal mambo!

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The Dance of the Neighbors!

This couple has got some pretty big shoes to fill when compared to all of the lovable characters who have come before them in this series. I’m happy to say that they don’t disappoint! Duncan is a fireman, so that’s automatically a plus in my book. As for Necie, she’s a talented baker, which seems like a rather dangerous profession when you live next door to a Bradford.

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Shockingly enough, Duncan wants nothing to do with his beautiful neighbor, as she is perhaps the biggest jinx alive, and unfortunately her ill-timed klutzy mishaps often result in Duncan getting injured. Although these mishaps are pretty outlandish, and at times rather repetitive, you can’t help but let out a laugh when they happen. You’ll also feel as though they are fate’s way of ensuring the two are brought together whether they like it or not.

‘Tis the Season for Sexy Times

Duncan and Necie definitely know how to ignite a fire between the sheets. Her grandfather might keep his many guns polished and at the ready in order to keep the dashing Bradford out of his granddaughter’s bed, but even he can’t prevent these two from coming together in a tangle of limbs.

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Funnily enough, a large portion of the overly sexual scenes presented in this book don’t actually happen, but rather are Duncan’s own thoughts on what he’d love to do with the gorgeous jinx living next door. Don’t be disappointed though! He carries out plenty of those desires in reality, and me oh my does that man have a dirty mouth. But hey, Necie doesn’t seem to mind!

Series: Neighbor from Hell, book 7. I can’t wait to read the next book, as our tales of Bradfords continue!

Should you read it? A light-hearted read filled with lovable characters who are guaranteed to make you chuckle, especially Necie’s sweet yet threatening grandfather. And of course, any Neighbor from Hell book would not be complete without a good ole fashion Bradford kidnapping of his one true love. I do wish there had been a bit more tie in with Christmas though beyond just snow and a chapter-by-chapter countdown to Christmas.

Smut Level: When Duncan kidnaps Necie away to a romantic mountain cabin to “get to know each other”, well let’s just say they get to know just about every inch of each other. And get rather sore in the process!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Smashwords. 229 Pages.

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Valorous by Marie Force

I’m shocked that for a romance novel featuring a movie star falling for a nobody, there’s actually some sense of realism to it! Not to mention a pretty big F-You to the media!

What’s it About?

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After surviving a traumatic event at age fifteen and the ensuing estrangement from her family, Natalie Bryant has worked for years to reinvent herself into the woman she is today—a happy teacher fresh out of college and enjoying her first winter in New York City with her faithful dog, Fluff, by her side. Natalie isn’t expecting her life to change completely during a routine stroll through Greenwich Village on a blustery January day. But when Fluff breaks loose and charges into a park, Natalie gives chase and crashes into her destiny. Only after Fluff bites and draws blood from the man who accidentally knocked Natalie down does she realize Fluff has bitten the biggest movie star in the world.

He has no business being enthralled by the gorgeous, young, innocent teacher…Natalie captivates Flynn Godfrey from the first moment their eyes meet while she is lying on the ground and he’s fighting off her ferocious little beast of a dog. The only thing Flynn knows for certain is if he lets Natalie get away, he’ll regret it for the rest of his life. After only a short time in her presence, Flynn is prepared to change who he is to be what she needs. He knows he’s in big trouble when she says she won’t sleep with him and he doesn’t care if it means he gets to keep her in his life. But can he turn his back on the lifestyle that has defined him? Can he deny the desires that drive him to give Natalie the introduction to love and romance she so deserves? And most of all, can he keep his truth hidden from her long enough to have forever with her?

First Impressions

At the end of book one, the entire world found out about Natalie’s past, and we sort of hold our breath speculating how everyone will react. Turns out, pretty much everyone in the entire USA is supportive of her, and they bash the media for prying into her private life. Gotta love the joys of Twitter! I also enjoyed how in this novel there was sort of a sense of realism in that Natalie’s past was front page news for a hot second, before some other celebrity gossip took everyone’s attention away. It seems like in most celebrity romance novels our female lead is constantly being chased by the dreaded paparazzi, and splashed all over the gossip mags, even though she’s not in showbiz. In this book however, Natalie and Flynn are able to move on with their lives rather quickly after the dust settles.

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Fallout

Most of this novel deals with the fallout of Natalie’s rape story being released to the public. You can’t help but appreciate all of the support which the community gives her for surviving such a tragic incident. I must say though, when it came to Natalie and Flynn dealing with the aftermath of the news release, they are so supportive and sickeningly sweet to each other it almost gave me a toothache.

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Throughout the entire novel, we basically hear on continual repeat how she doesn’t want him to blame himself for the story coming out, and he still sees her as a beautiful woman whom he will love no matter what. Over and over and over again. While reading you can almost picture birds chirping and squirrels dancing from all their terms of endearment. Absolutely adore the love and support in the air, but it could’ve been taken down a notch or two.

The Truth Comes Out

My favorite part of this novel was the ending. Nat is an unbelievably strong character, and she’s not afraid to call out Flynn for keeping secrets from her while she’s been completely open and honest with him. She gave him a chance to tell the truth, and acknowledges how she understands he’s trying to protect her from his BDSM tendencies considering her past. What I loved though is that Natalie makes it clear she won’t stand for his lies. By keeping the truth from her, he is in a way implying she’s not strong enough to deal with the consequences. And she won’t stand for that. Boom baby!

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*A copy of this book was provided for an honest review*

Series: Quantum series, book 2. I enjoyed this one five thousand times more than book 1.

Should you read it? The beginning and end of this novel was fantastic. From the public’s support of Natalie, to her standing up to Flynn for keeping secrets. The in between dragged a bit for me, as there wasn’t as much story going on. Just a bunch of lovey dovey-ness between Flynn and Natalie.

Smut Level: Definitely getting more comfortable with each other, which translates into more dirty talk.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. HTJB, Inc. 258 Pages.

 

Wrapped Up in You by Erin Bevan

Nothing like a little romance at the North Pole to get you in the holiday spirit!

What’s it About?

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Princess Jenny Claus has thirty suitors to choose from to take on the role of Santa and her husband, and only three weeks to do it. When an outsider crashes into and destroys the toy factory, her Gala and the prospect of Christmas for children everywhere are ruined.

Logan Moss awakens from his plane crash, suffering from partial amnesia. Surrounded by a world he always considered make believe, he has a hard time accepting his new surroundings. Except for one snow princess who he’s deeply fascinated with. And when Logan realizes she only has three weeks to pick a husband, he begins to feel compelled to be that man. Problem is, he can’t remember if he has a wife. With Christmas getting closer, Jenny has to make the hardest decision of her life…duty or love.

First Impressions

Before reading this novel, all I had to go on in considering the possible content was the title, and the cover. No synopsis to speak of was available at the time! I figured I’d be dealing with some kind of light-hearted romance à la Hallmark channel. Well, you can imagine my utter surprise when I cracked open the cover of my Kindle to discover we were dealing with a romance between Santa Claus’s daughter and a pilot who crash landed in the North Pole. To say I was surprised is the understatement of the entire holiday season! We’ve got a competition for who will be Head Elf, a magical peppermint potion, Dasher’s sassy reindeer wife Marcy, and just a tad of amnesia thrown into the mix. I gotta say though, I absolutely fell in love with this story!

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A Magical Christmas Romance

I love a good Christmas romance, and this one is about as magical and cheesy as you can get. I mean, we’re in the North Pole for crying out loud! I think it’s important to go into this novel with as carefree and as open a mind as possible. After all, it is the holidays. Try to just relax, have some fun, and not worry about taking things too seriously!

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In hindsight I’m absolutely thrilled I hadn’t read the synopsis beforehand, as I went in with zero expectations, and just let the story take me where it wanted to go. Yes, it’s a pretty silly premise, but underneath all the holiday cookies and sprinkles it’s actually a very sweet read that will make your cheeks rosy, and your toes curl in delight. I felt the ending did lay on the X-mas magic a bit too thick, but overall it’s a unique holiday romance unlike any other.

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Some Drama Mixed with the Magic

It’s clear pretty early on that Jenny and Logan have chemistry, but his inability to remember the details of his life (specifically whether or not he has a wife and children back home) prevent them from taking things too far in the romantic sense. Their hesitancy surrounding the mystery of Logan’s past creates just the right amount of fabulous tension to the story. It provided an interesting mix of drama and romance that I simply wasn’t expecting, but ultimately really enjoyed. There’s also the slight mishap over the fact that Logan’s plane crash-landed into the toy factory one month before Christmas, and Princess Jenny must choose a husband who will become the new Santa in that same amount of time. Things are extra busy at the North Pole this year!

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*A copy of this book was provided for an honest review*

Series: One and done

Should you read it? I was drawn into this story right from the get-go, and thought it was a fun and unique read. I understand it might not be for everyone, and you kind of have to prepare yourself for some silliness. That being said, beneath the tinsel and ice sculptures lies a tale about love at first sight, family, honor and the delights of Christmas magic.

Smut Level: No sex I’m afraid, but that doesn’t mean these two don’t get up to some crazy antics in the toy storeroom.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. The Wild Rose Press, Inc. 234 Pages.

Love in the Light by Laura Kaye

This book is everything!!!

What’s it About?

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Two hearts in the darkness…

Makenna James and Caden Grayson have been inseparable since the day they were trapped in a pitch-black elevator and found acceptance and love in the arms of a stranger. Makenna hopes that night put them on the path to forever—which can’t happen until she introduces her tattooed, pierced, and scarred boyfriend to her father and three over-protective brothers.

Must fight for love in the light…

Haunted by a childhood tragedy and the loss of his family, Caden never thought he’d find the love he shares with Makenna. But the deeper he falls, the more he fears the devastation sure to come if he ever lost her, too. When meeting her family doesn’t go smoothly, Caden questions whether Makenna deserves someone better, stronger, and just more…normal. Maybe they’re just too different—and he’s far too damaged—after all…

First Impressions

When I first saw that this book had been released, I was filled with some pretty intense, and conflicting emotions. On the one hand, I squealed like a kid at Disney World in excitement. A sequel to Hearts in Darkness?! That first book was one of the main inspirations for me to start this blog. On the other hand, would this sequel live up to everything that book one was for me? Is it worth reading if it ends up being worse than what I loved about the first book? Turns out, I had nothing to worry about, as this book not only surpassed every single one of my expectations, but it takes you on an unbelievably emotional journey exploring depression, family and love. One of the few romance novels to actually bring tears to my eyes.

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A Humorous Beginning

This book starts off in a rather humorous situation: Caden meeting Makenna’s family for the first time. They met in an elevator, have only been dating for 2 months, and Caden’s covered in piercings and tattoos. Should be an interesting meet and greet! It’s filled with challenges and humor, and I thought this was going to be the main feature of the story line. Turns out it was just the beginning.

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An Emotional Turn

Spoiler alert: Who knew there was something more stressful than introducing your boyfriend to your overprotective dad and three brothers? Well hello unplanned pregnancy! Makenna struggles with how to reveal the big news to Caden. Just when she starts to gather the courage to tell him, we see that Caden is slowly pulling away from her before abruptly severing all communication between them. We are then introduced to Caden’s dark spiral into a deep depression.

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It ties back to the loss of his mother and brother years beforehand, as well as his fear of losing Makenna. She’s the love of his life, yet he comes to convince himself that he’s not worthy of her love, and that she’d be better off without him. This book provides an insightful glimpse into what it’s like for someone dealing with depression. How the person can push away all that is good in their life, and the intense struggle to try and get out of that dark hole. Laura Kaye’s writing was superb and went far beyond the excellence of book one. In my opinion, this novel was on a whole other level.

*A copy of this book was provided for an honest review*

Series: Hearts in Darkness, book 2. I highly recommend this series. Definitely start with book 1. It’s the best trapped in an elevator romance ever.

Should you read it? Expect an emotional roller coaster ride with this one, as you experience all of the highs and lows of Makenna and Caden’s relationship. This one left me floored.

Smut Level: Ah, the joys of having a tongue ring.

Get it on Amazon: Click here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Self-published. 184 Pages.

 

Virtuous by Marie Force

You know, if I didn’t dislike New York City so much, I’d actually consider moving there. It seems there are billionaires and movie stars walking all over the place just looking for a normal girl-next-door like me! Yeah…not gonna happen.

What’s it about? 

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After surviving a traumatic event at age fifteen and the ensuing estrangement from her family, Natalie Bryant has worked for years to reinvent herself into the woman she is today—a happy teacher fresh out of college and enjoying her first winter in New York City with her faithful dog, Fluff, by her side. Natalie isn’t expecting her life to change completely during a routine stroll through Greenwich Village on a blustery January day. But when Fluff breaks loose and charges into a park, Natalie gives chase and crashes into her destiny. Only after Fluff bites and draws blood from the man who accidentally knocked Natalie down does she realize Fluff has bitten the biggest movie star in the world.

He has no business being enthralled by the gorgeous, young, innocent teacher…Natalie captivates Flynn Godfrey from the first moment their eyes meet while she is lying on the ground and he’s fighting off her ferocious little beast of a dog. The only thing Flynn knows for certain is if he lets Natalie get away, he’ll regret it for the rest of his life. After only a short time in her presence, Flynn is prepared to change who he is to be what she needs. He knows he’s in big trouble when she says she won’t sleep with him and he doesn’t care if it means he gets to keep her in his life. But can he turn his back on the lifestyle that has defined him? Can he deny the desires that drive him to give Natalie the introduction to love and romance she so deserves? And most of all, can he keep his truth hidden from her long enough to have forever with her?

First Impressions

The premise of this novel is, for lack of a better word, pretty…ridiculous. Natalie literally runs into Flynn while he is shooting a movie. Like, she runs around a corner and bumps into him. Such an adorable meet cute, you’d think you were watching a Hallmark movie. He’s immediately entranced by her presence, they go on a few dates, and manage to fall in love in the span of one week. See what I mean? It’s not every day you bump into a movie star, and fall madly in love. Kind of out there.

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Secretive Secret Keepers

Although these two characters feel a deep connection with each other, they are both hiding some pretty big secrets. For Natalie, it relates to her past. She was brutally raped at the age of 15. For Flynn, he’s hiding his BDSM lifestyle from her. What really, really bothered me though was that he continually pushed Natalie to trust him, and she took a huge step by revealing to him that she was raped as a teenager. However, he doesn’t even hint at the fact that his own sexual desires might be what some consider to be out of the ordinary.

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I couldn’t help but feel that he was a bit hypocritical to insist that she reveal such an important part of her past without reciprocating by opening up himself. I mean, this woman has vowed for the last three years that she won’t have sex until she’s married, and with his talents of persuasion, and a bit of alcohol, he manages to wear down her defenses in a matter of days. She is literally all in. He doesn’t necessarily have to act out his BDSM tendencies with her, but he could at least admit that he has them.

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*A copy of this book was provided for an honest review*

Series: Quantum, book 1. Consider yourself warned that this book does end on a cliffhanger.

Should you read it? The premise was pretty far-fetched, but I did admire Natalie for her bravery of sharing the details of her rape with Flynn. I just found it kind of hard to like him by not sharing anything with her in return. He basically demanded she talk about what happened to her, but he kept his own secrets to himself.

Smut Level: There are some elements of BDSM, but what I found to be a rather unique aspect of the story is that all of these elements are reserved to Flynn’s dreams. It’s more about what he wants to do with her rather than what they actually did.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. HTJB, Inc. 278 Pages.

 

Ripped by Katy Evans

As far as rocker romance novels go, this is a pretty good one. I just have one little question. Who the hell are these people?

What’s it About?

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Pandora, the gothic friend of Brooke (Real, Mine, Remy) and Melanie, thought that getting her heart broken by her bad boy rocker ex could only happen once. But now, he’s back in town with the biggest concert of the year. Pandora hates him so much that she gets Melanie to come with her and play a prank on him at his gig. But when they are caught by security, and her ex himself is summoned, he decides not to press charges if she’ll follow certain conditions. Pandora likes none of his rules, or that he’s in charge of her, especially since they seem designed to make sure she’s in close contact with him again. But the closeness reignites the passion they once shared, and soon no matter how much she wants to hate him, it’s clear she’s still hung up on him. And worse: he knows it too.

First Impressions

I feel like the further we get into this series, the further away we get from how it all started. Did I like the characters? Yeah! Was it an interesting story line full of sex appeal? Sure! But I couldn’t help but feel like this novel in particular was really disconnected from the rest of the series. Pandora made a brief appearance in the last novel, and Kenna was her first love from adolescence. Not a whole lot of connection with the other characters in the series.

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Lack of Connection

Overall, this novel had a very interesting story line of rekindling a past romance, and making up for lost time. However, I did feel like this was where we saw the biggest disconnect from the previous 4 novels. In the first 3 books, Remy is a boxer in an underground fighting circuit. In book 4, Greyson came to be in control of that underground. And Kenna? He’s a rock star. The underground is barely referenced at all in this book, other than a brief mention that Remy sometimes listens to Kenna’s music before a fight.

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Lack of Struggle

In addition, I felt like this novel really lacked the sense of urgency and struggle that was present in the other books. Yes, there was some initial drama when our lead characters are first reunited after so many years, but once they sleep together everything is pretty copacetic from there on out. There is an interesting twist at the end which is introduced between Pandora and her mother. Unfortunately though, that story line never really comes to a full resolution.

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Series: Real, book 5. Can’t imagine who the focus of the sixth novel will be.

Should you read it? If this had been a complete stand-alone novel I probably would have enjoyed it a lot more. However, I was left feeling a bit confused as to how it related to the series as a whole, as well as where the series will go from here.

Smut Level: Ohhh my. To be locked in a closet with a rock star. Seven unbelievably delectable minutes in Heaven indeed.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $8.99 Kindle Price. Gallery Books. 337 Pages.