Don’t Toy with Me by Barbara Barrett

Am I the only one who wishes it was socially acceptable to still be able to play with your childhood toys as an adult? Seriously, give me a few Barbies and a Polly Pocket or two and I’ll entertain myself for hours. Actually…probably more like days.

What’s it About?

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Repossession of your car in Los Angeles is like breathing without lungs. It can make an unemployed management consultant like Jordan Wright do crazy things, such as accept a job beneath her skills on a reality competition show and pretend to be a spy for a competing outfit.

Even though he sees through the undercover story, the show’s executive producer, Bart Underwood, is intrigued by it as well as the woman spinning her tale. Creativity is not one of his strong suits, and he has found himself in over his head with this new production. Unable to ask directly for Jordan’s help, he takes advantage of her need to prove herself in hopes she’ll rescue his baby. But despite their growing attraction to each other, even she can’t save a reverse beauty pageant titled Ugly as Sin.

When several stunts go awry, she suggests a new approach, challenges based on toys designed by Bart’s toymaker uncle. Though interested, Bart must first deal with his useless partner, who has been blackmailing him to stick around. The man’s resentment of Jordan threatens to not only disrupt her growing involvement with Bart but also risk the viability of the new show, Don’t Toy with Me.

First Impressions

When it came to this book my first impression surrounded the synopsis. Goodness gracious there’s a lot going on here! The novel has a rather complicated start, which I think is perfectly reflected in the synopsis. In my opinion, it did seem a bit overly elaborate at times. For example, we have a rather complicated meet cute of Jordan trying out for a show which she thinks is a beauty pageant, and instead of admitting outright that she didn’t know what the show was about she creates an elaborate scheme about spying for a competing production company. Bart knows she’s lying, yet decides to play along even after she admits the truth. Phew, I’m exhausted already! It felt like maybe it could have been that Jordan was in need of a job to pay for her car, so she takes a job she wouldn’t normally take as an assistant on a reality show. Bing, bang, boom, still fun and interesting, yet not as many moving pieces.

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We All Know!

The feature of this novel which confused me the most was Jordan’s creation of this rival production company. It seemed like such an unnecessary story when she could have admitted, “sorry, didn’t know what this show was about, my bad.” Sure, not as interesting, but perhaps a tad more realistic? What I had more trouble understanding though was why Bart would choose to continue playing along with this story even after she admits she lied. Then, as the story progresses, Jordan starts to assume that Bart knows she was lying, yet she also doesn’t confront him about her assumptions. I couldn’t help but compare it to a Friends episode where they don’t know we know they know we know, sooooo….

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Big Reveals and Motivations

Another unfortunate aspect of the synopsis was that it sort of revealed too much of the plot. We know from the outset that the premise behind this reality show is crazy. The concept of demonstrating how terrible society can be to ugly people, and that the ugliest contestant on this show wins is troubling to wrap your head around. Throughout the whole novel we wonder how Jordan or Bart could possibly turn this around into a winning idea. Problem is, we already know how. The synopsis demonstrates it’s just a matter of time before the show transitions into a reality contest centered around Bart’s uncle’s toy creations. If this little tidbit hadn’t been revealed in the synopsis I think we as the audience would have really been stumped on how this show could possibly make a turn for the better.

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Another reveal in the synopsis which confused me a bit was the reference to Bart being blackmailed to continue on with the show. This really doesn’t become a feature until the very end of the novel. Kind of a spoiler for me! The fact that his partner doesn’t try to blackmail him until pretty late in the game makes you question for the majority of the novel why Bart would bother putting up with such a terrible show, and terrible person, for so long. He knows the show is crap, yet he sticks with it, and has a seemingly strange sense of devotion to his partner. If this blackmail feature had been introduced earlier on, I think it would have helped us understand Bart’s motivation as to why he was refusing to throw in the towel with this crazy show.

The Puppet Master

Unfortunately, although I tried my best I ultimately found it rather hard to like Bart as a character. We all know that he’s testing Jordan. He recognizes her creativity almost immediately, and believes she could be the answer to making this terrible reality show a success. However, rather than admit, “we could really use your help in making this show better”, or “let’s collaborate to improve the premise” he instead kind of treats her bad. Bart sends her on a multitude of crazy errands as a way of testing her resolve, and basically berates her any time she has a suggestion which strays from the ugly beauty pageant concept. Talk about frustrating! Especially because he secretly agrees with all her suggestions. While this strategy definitely allowed Jordan to shine and prove her worth, it sort of made me see him as, well, a coward for not vocalizing his concerns to her or his partner. In a sneaky way, it makes his partner look on Jordan as the intruding villain, when in reality Bart is the puppet master orchestrating the downfall of his “friend’s” concept. Again, such an elaborate scheme.

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A Love Blooms

Bart and Jordan have a growing attraction to each other as they invest more of their time in this show. I think some more development in their chemistry would have been beneficial. As it stands it seemed like one minute they were kind of flirting with each other, a few longing looks, a brush of the hand, and the next they were going at it on his office couch. While I’m all for office loving (assuming the door is locked!), it seemed kind of rushed to me. I guess I just had a hard time believing their connection.

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That being said, there was another relationship blooming in this novel that I found to be particularly compelling, and that was between Jordan’s aunt Sheila, and Bart’s uncle Andrew. I’ll tell ya, I’d definitely read a book where their love was the main focus! They were so freakin’ adorable I immediately perked up any time they entered a scene. Both lost their significant others years before, and for Andrew the circumstances were extremely tragic. They’ve been hesitant to interact too much with others for years, yet when Sheila and Andrew meet they are able to come out of the shells they’ve trapped themselves in. They learn to live and love again with each other. Ahhhh, sigh.

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

Series: I could see the potential for a series. A brief novella for Sheila and Andrew would be my everything!!

Should you read it? I wish we could have had more scenes involving stunts with the toys. It was such a unique concept, yet we really only got one up-close toy scene in the competition. As for our lead characters I truly admired Jordan’s ability to stand up for her opinions in front of Bart. Not my favorite male lead when all was said and done though. I think if we had been privy earlier on to his motivations behind this show, specifically in relation to his feelings of guilt surrounding his mother, I probably would have liked him more as a character. Sheila and Andrew definitely stole the show for me, and I just wanted more of their adorableness!

Smut Level: Some office couch time, but nothing too over the top.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Amazon Digital Services LLC. 244 Pages.

West of Forgotten by Lynda J. Cox

A secluded Wyoming ranch set in the middle of nowhere. Sounds like the ideal place for romance to bloom. I seriously need to take a trip to Wyoming.

What’s it About? 

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Banished from civilization to the Wyoming Territory, U.S. Marshal Harrison Taylor holds a deed to half the Lazy L. He isn’t sure why his beautiful new partner, Rachel Leonard, doesn’t trust him. He has to convince her he is nothing like the man who abused her and must earn her trust before the escalating attacks at the Lazy L turn deadly. For six years, Rachel has worked to repair a shattered life. Caring for her son and invalid father leaves little time to keep the Lazy L profitable. She doesn’t want a business partner simply because her father gambled away half of her beloved ranch and most certainly doesn’t desire a husband. Unfortunately, she’s stuck with the former and can’t trust Harrison as the latter. Unless she can learn to trust Harrison, everything and everyone Rachel loves will be lost.

First Impressions

The first half of this novel is all about Rachel and Harrison developing trust in their relationship. She’s been hurt before, and anyone who comes into both her and her son’s lives needs to earn her trust. Harrison is just the man to exhibit the necessary patience to win her over. Upon meeting the tantalizingly beautiful single mother, Harrison is determined that rather than take over the ranch completely, he wants to help her see it thrive again. To do so he determines their best option is to marry. Not only will it silence the gossips in town to see a man living with Rachel, but it also ensures she’ll get the entire ranch should something ever happen to him.

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Beyond just trusting him from a business partner standpoint, Rachel must also learn to trust him physically. She shies away from his every touch with fear in her eyes over what happened at the hands of his brother years before. Although their trust comes slowly, I must say it was built unbelievably well, with a hint of reality to it. It’s not like one day Rachel is wary of the stranger on her front porch, and the next she simply decides her fate is sealed and she’ll throw caution to the wind by trusting him completely. By developing it slowly over time their relationship is stronger for it, as it is built on something more stable and important than physical desire.

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A Troubled Past

I definitely appreciated this story emphasizing the importance of trust in a relationship, but in my opinion there was something which stood out even more. This is also a tale of survival. Rachel survived a horrific rape and abuse at the hands of a man who had the ability to charm an entire city into believing his version of events over hers. It was truly frightening to see how people treated her in the aftermath, as though she were the one to blame. That she led him on. How nobody believed her save a select few.

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What sickened me even more was to consider that this still happens today. This story might be set in the bygone era of the Wild West, yet it’s underlying horrors are still present. Rachel was ostracized from the community, but the one shining light throughout it all were those select few who believed in her. Although not related by blood, they were her family, and were willing to do anything to protect her and her son from the dangers of the world. Rachel is a strong, admirable lead character who drew on the love of her friends to help raise her son, and she could stand up to anyone who dared cross their path. Including a sexy U.S. Marshal.

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

Series: Stand-alone

Should you read it? Yes! This novel isn’t just a tale of blossoming love. As Rachel receives threatening notes, and her ranch is plagued by arson, we discover that her abuser has returned. She must face her fears all over again, but this time she has Harrison by her side. An intense finish that will have you holding your breath and clenching your toes in anticipation. At least…that’s what I do when I get anxious reading a book!

Smut Level: Harrison is the ideal. He helps Rachel live her life again. He pushes her, but not too much. Harrison lets her make her own decisions, but helps to nudge her in the right direction. He also helps her explore her sexuality, and learn that there’s no shame in pleasure. They take things slow, but Harrison manages to seduce her with words, and holy hell is that man a smooth talker and sexy grinner extraordinaire!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. The Wild Rose Press, Inc. 318 Pages.

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A Road Paved in Copper by Angela Christina Archer

A historical western romance that sets the glimmering city of San Francisco against the harsh desert of Nevada.

What’s it About?

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Armed with her six-shooter, Ava De La Vega dips the pen into the inkwell and etches her name on the Esmeralda County tax record book. A formidable force, that’s what her peers have called her. The woman in a man’s world, what did she know of mining ore, silver, and copper? Plenty. And it’s this knowledge that makes her of the richest miners in Nevada in 1903. Of course, it also makes her a target.

Traveling back and forth from Tonopah, Nevada and San Francisco, Ava blazes the trail from the dirt and grime of her mines to the fanciest hotel rooms, enjoying the finest wines, the most decadent meals, and the company of attractive young men. Unfortunately, for Ava, she doesn’t see Craig Harrison coming.

A miner from the snowy Klondike, Craig has traveled from the harsh Canadian mountains down to city streets of San Francisco. Not looking for work, he’s happy with the comfortable life away from the deep mines, the dirt, and the ever sought-after gold. Unfortunately, for Craig, he doesn’t see Ava coming.

First Impressions

This female lead is a bad ass! LOVE her!! Ava has distinguished herself in the male dominated world of mining. She’s more successful than her male counterparts, and not afraid to stand up for herself. Unlike most historical romances, Ava admits very early on in our tale that she’s no virgin. Although she works in the dirt and grime of Nevada’s desert mines, Ava also delights in her trips to San Francisco, where she can indulge in the company of a new man every time. No attachments, no expectations. However, upon first meeting Craig she immediately recognizes that there’s something different about him. He’s no one night stand. Rather than treat him as such, they actually refrain from intercourse for quite some time, even though they are both brimming with sexual need. Talk about willpower!

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From Harsh Desert to Glimmering City

A particular feature of this novel which was rather clever was that it managed to twist your initial assumptions and expectations of both the main character, and even the setting of the book itself. Ava embodies this perfectly, as she herself appears to be a contradiction in terms. She is one of the only women in this small mining Nevada town who can hold her own, and is in no way a damsel in distress. She can shoot a gun and kick a man where it counts, so you sort of have this initial impression that she’ll be kind of a tomboy.

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However, that all changes when she leaves the harsh desert of Nevada behind for the bright lights and busy streets of San Francisco. While she loves getting her hands dirty in Nevada, she loves to indulge herself in luxuries and feminine clothing when in the city. It almost seems like we are dealing with two different personalities in one woman, but we find that she manages to maintain her moxie whether surrounded by the elegance of the city or the ruffians of the mining town. The ability of the author to provide us a glimpse into two such distinct worlds is truly commendable.

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The Allure of the Land

Certain passages within this book were utterly poetic. One section which particularly resonated was when Craig describes both the allure and dangers of mining. How the earth holds such wondrous secrets and wealth, but it’s just out of reach from those who are searching for it. The bounty of the land can dry up at any time. At one point, the mines are even compared to a woman who makes you work for her pleasures; playing a teasing game with her suitor before giving up her secrets. Phenomenal metaphor!! It really made me wish part of the story could have been told from Craig’s point of view, so that we could better understand the intricacies of his own character.

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Another eloquent passage presents us with Ava as she contemplates whether or not to reveal the secret details of her troubled past to Craig. On the one hand, she wishes to keep some of her foolish girlhood decisions a secret from this man she has come to love. Senseless choices which she realizes she would never commit now as an informed adult. On the other hand, the grown woman in her wants to tell him, to admit the mistakes of her past and move on. Unfortunately Ava’s built up so many walls around herself in the attempt to keep herself safe, and ensure that only she will know the errors of her ways. This is probably a debate which many of us have faced at some point in our lives, and makes her character even more relatable.

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

Series: I would actually love to read some kind of short story or sequel to this one, but it looks like a stand-alone.

Should you read it? This book definitely starts with a bang! Ava’s enemies are trying to steal her land claims through force, and she finds herself in the cross hairs of a wild west shootout. After that initial drama the middle section was pretty mellow. If the suspense had carried more throughout the entirety of the book it could have made a positive difference. It all comes together though for an unbelievably intense ending that left me a mess of tears.

Smut Level: Craig has an appetite for this headstrong woman, so he enjoys her on the kitchen table. Hint hint, wink wink. Nothing too explicit or detailed as far as smut.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Long Valley Press. 238 Pages.

The Rest of Forever by Carrie Pulkinen

What to do when you start to fall in love with your guardian angel? Well, if he’s as deliciously fine as Damian, I’d take him back to my place!

What’s it About?

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A guardian angel who’d rather die than fall for a human must come to terms with his tragic past when he learns his Charge is more than she seems. April Carter is a high school history teacher who dreams of finding the perfect man to whisk her away from her small-town life. She wants it all—the husband, the house, the kids, the car. But her dreams of living the perfect life are shattered during a school shooting. Now she must learn to accept her fate if she’s ever going to find the life she loves.

Damian Perkins is April’s Guardian Angel, though no one would guess that based on his attitude. A tragic event in his past has left him bitter and resentful, and he won’t let anyone get close enough to care about him. He’s tried to make April hate him, but she sees through his abrasive exterior and awakens a part of his soul he thought had burned out long ago. Damian must let go of his past and accept his responsibilities or he’ll spend the rest of his existence alone and miserable.

First Impressions

This romance is about a woman who falls in love with an angel, and even though said angel tries his damnedest, he can’t help but fall for her as well. Not gonna lie, when I first started reading this book I had one immediate thought in mind, and that would be Mr. Nicholas Cage. Kind of frightening. Although the plot of this novel is initially reminiscent of City of Angels, it quickly becomes more elaborate as Damian aims to protect his charge, April, in the face of a school shooting.

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Forever Changing

When it comes to the main characters of this novel, I must say they were unbelievably dynamic. I felt like one minute I could find them both to be quite frustrating in their stubbornness and naivete, but then in the next they were both quite admirable as they faced the realities of their lives together following immense hardship.

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Let’s start with April. At the start of the book, she was incredibly materialistic, and wanted nothing more than to move out of her small Texan town for a larger city. She was even willing to marry someone who treated her like crap, and who everyone else hated with a passion if it meant she could get a ring on her finger and the wedding of her dreams. But as the novel progresses, we also see her character start to evolve. She learns to speak for herself and act according to what she thinks is right. Sure, sometimes there are unforeseen consequences to those actions, but at least she starts to live life her way.

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Then there’s Damian, a guardian angel intent on keeping his distance from the one woman he’s meant to protect, mainly because another woman broke his heart 600+ years ago. That’s right, 600 years! Talk about not being able to move on in life. But when he starts spending more time with April, he realizes she is someone worth changing his rules for. In a way, they are kindred spirits in that neither truly plays by the rules. Once Damian admits to himself that he does in fact feel something for April, he can finally start to move on from his past and live in the present with someone he truly cares for.

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Bringing these two characters together was sometimes like trying to mix oil and water, especially when they refused to be open and honest with each other. They were also interrupted from sharing their true feelings one too many times for my taste, as it got pretty frustrating after a while for their romantic coupling to be continuously delayed. However, once they do finally come together in a tangle of limbs, it was oh so worth the wait.

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

Series: Stand-alone

Should you read it? Definitely an interesting story, and one that I’ve never truly encountered before. The story pulls you in at the beginning and has an exciting end. There were a few times in the middle which were a bit stagnant as Damian and April’s stubborn sides are at war with each other. I would have enjoyed some more scenes of Damian explaining to April what it’s like to be an angel, and some more detail of the powers involved, but it’s definitely a unique read.

Smut Level: Sex with an angel has its benefits. Mainly that he can make your clothes dissolve away with just a thought. So convenient!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Amazon Digital Services, LLC. 235 Pages.

 

 

A Deep Thing by A.K. Smith

This book is sort of like Indiana Jones meets Jason Bourne, meets…Jacques Cousteau?

What’s it About?

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What was her husband hiding in the jungles of Mexico? Rocked by her husband’s tragic death, Kendall Jackson strives to put her life back together. But Ryder, her nineteen-year-old stepson, is bitter and wants nothing to do with her. And she can’t keep the grief at bay. Sometimes, it’s so strong, she wonders if life is worth living.

A call from a cave diver in Mexico gives her hope of mending the relationship with her stepson. Before his death, her husband arranged a diving expedition as a birthday gift for his son. Kendall persuades Ryder to honor his father’s last wish.

From the campus of Western Maryland College to the woods of Camp David and the caves of the Yucatán, Kendall and Ryder take a journey to discover what her husband worked so hard to hide, and to protect his treasured secrets from falling into the wrong hands. The choices they make will decide their fate and the future of others. Will they risk everything for the truth?

First Impressions

This novel really focuses on exploring cenotes, which translates into “a deep thing”. Pretty appropriate title, all things considered! While most of the characters in this book look upon these deep pools of water as mysteriously beautiful holes of a multitude of gloriously blue colors, I like to think of them as endless dark depths which could contain any plethora of deadly sharp-toothed and fanged creatures who could kill you in one fell swoop.

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Who is to Blame?

To be fair, there is one person to blame for this fear of the dark blue cenotes, and that would be Jeremy Wade, host of River Monsters. One of his episodes from this last season featured treacherous cenote-dwelling octopuses who can pull unsuspecting swimmers into the endless cave systems deep below, ne’er to be seen or heard from again. Sorry to say, it freaked me out just a smidge. Every time our characters would willingly go diving I would just think to myself, “No good can come of this. Swim away!!”

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A Little Bit of Everything

A mix of adventure, government cover-ups, and moving on after the death of a loved one. A lot is going on in this novel, yet for the most part I felt like this book was sort of out of my wheelhouse, as there wasn’t a whole ton of romance involved. At the start of the novel, Kendall is still reeling from the death  of her husband, Tim, in a tragic cenote diving accident. See, nothing good comes from those places!

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As the novel progresses, we find out there was more to Tim’s death than we originally thought, and in more ways than one. Kendall proceeds to join her stepson on a diving expedition Tim planned before his untimely death. It’s when they return from this trip that a government conspiracy and historical/mystical legends come to the forefront.

Draw You In

I will say, I thought it took too long for the story to really get going. I understand that the goal was to make it appear as though Tim’s life was nothing like it seemed, but there was almost too much build-up and a lot of focus on the initial dive trip between Kendall and her stepson, Ryder. I would have liked more to happen earlier on to really draw you into the mystery. As it stands it almost felt like a cenote travel guide at the beginning.

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Once the intrigue did come into play, the story went in two different directions. One was with the government connection that I felt didn’t completely come full circle. Then there was the historical aspect tied into that story as well, but that didn’t come into play until the very last chapter of the book. Everything sort of builds to one huge twist that I thought seemed kind of rushed, and therefore almost out of place because there was so much focus on the government side of things beforehand.

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

Series: Stand-alone

Should you read it? Definitely an interesting twist at the end, but I think it almost took too long to come about. The entire novel sort of takes place in three major sections: the initial dive trip, the government hoopla, and the big twist. I wish things would have flowed a bit more smoothly between them all. The last part of the novel could have used more focus and attention in my opinion.

Smut Level: Kendall is experiencing a lot of difficulty after the death of her husband, so there’s not really any sex or smut. More focus is placed on the adventurous side of the plot.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $5.99 Kindle Price. The Wild Rose Press, Inc. 278 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.

Dance with Me by Hazel Hughes

For the love of the Bolshoi, why can’t the ballerinas of the world just get along?!

What’s it About?

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When reporter Sherry Wilson-Wong wakes up in bed with ballet bad-boy Alexi Davydenko, she knows she’s crossed the line. But the dancer with the body of Apollo and the panty-removing stare wasn’t talking, so what choice did she have? Playing his little drinking game – a shot and a kiss for every answer – seemed like the perfect way to loosen his sexy lips. She gets her story, he gets his fun, win-win. But his answers only lead to more questions. And Alexi wants more than fun.

Investigating into the ballet company’s shadowy secrets, Sherry learns that the beauty on stage masks ugly dealings, some of which seem to bear Alexi’s signature. But the more truths she exposes, the more lies she is forced to tell herself. That digging up dirt on a company with ties to the Russian mob isn’t dangerous. That licking every inch of Alexi’s naked body while hunting down evidence of his guilt isn’t a conflict of interest. That with each touch, each kiss, she isn’t falling deeper in love with the very man who could destroy her.

First Impressions

Seriously, if I ever came across a professional ballerina in real life, I’d probably pull them aside and conspiratorially whisper, “Alright, who did you have to deceive, maim, or kill to get where you are today? I won’t tell anyone, promise! Just my own curiosity.” I know sometimes you’ve gotta do what you gotta do to succeed, but goodness, these artists can really take it to the extreme. Maybe it’s from the unfortunate lack of calories.

Joy Womack, a 17-year-old dancer who is to become the first American to graduate from the Bolshoi Ballet Academy, takes part in a lesson at the academy buildings in Moscow

 

Sexy Meet Cute

This book has a lot going for it, from a sexy male lead, to some journalistic intrigue, and even a few interesting family dynamics thrown in as well. My favorite part of the novel though would have to be how our two love-birds first meet. She’s interviewing him for an article, and he’s always close-lipped when it comes to talking with the press. To mix things up a bit, Alexi suggests a rather adult version of 20 questions.

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Basically, nothing is off limits, it includes a bottle of vodka, and Alexi gets a kiss for every question asked. Needless to say, things escalate pretty quickly. My only complaint is that we aren’t witness to all the drunken revelries throughout the evening, just the expected hangover the morning after. Don’t let that fool you though, these two are smoking hot in the bedroom. And hallway. And alleyway behind a bar.

Drama at the Ballet

The mystery and intrigue in this novel was also pretty unique. I must say it’s the first novel I’ve read that deals with possible criminal activities at the ballet which don’t involve two ballerinas trying to kill each other over a lead role.

ballet

It was compelling to see the development of what was initially a puff piece written by Sherry evolve into something more dangerous. That being said, I really think this aspect of the story could have been taken one step further as it progressed. In my opinion, the criminal mastermind was kind of predictable, and I kept hoping for one final twist to the story which would throw off all your preconceived assumptions.

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

Series: Nope

Should you read it? A sexy read to be sure! I did feel there was more focus on our couple in the bedroom rather than an in-depth exploration of the ballet conundrum. I would’ve liked to see a bit more of the journalistic side of things as well!

Smut Level: Alexi’s mother tongue might not be English, but that doesn’t mean the man doesn’t know how to talk dirty. Let’s say he’s rather obsessed with Sherry’s “petals”.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. Evernight Publishing. 175 Pages.