Resisting the Rancher by Kadie Scott

Will might be a fictional character, but he is so freakin’ adorable you can just tell he’s hotter than a Texas summer.

What’s it About?

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Rusty Walker has spent her entire life trying to earn her tough, ranching father’s respect and approval by learning the business inside and out. But now her uncompromising parent has decreed she must marry if she wants to inherit. Worse, her husband has to be someone who can help her run the business. As if she needs it!

Williams Hill kissed Rusty in a bar in an act of temporary insanity, and lost his heart to her on the spot. Despite the complications to his own rodeo stock business, he agrees to marry the feisty red-head, hoping to woo her once they’re hitched. But she only views him with suspicion and resentment.

Can this soft-spoken Texas cowboy convince his proud wife, who’s never known unconditional love, that she is everything he wants?

First Impressions

Something I particularly enjoyed about the relationship between Will and Rusty was its tone. In book one there was really a sense of drama and seriousness to Cash and Holly’s relationship. While the relationship between Rusty and Will is not without its complications, far from it, there is also a sense of fun and lightheartedness to it all which I found particularly endearing. Even their meet-cute will have you smiling, as Will witnesses Rusty jamming out to a song in her car while they’re both stopped at a red light. While the marriage agreement between them comes off as more of a business transaction than anything else, the two manage to keep up a flirtatious rapport throughout the whole of the novel which will have you grinning. After all, the two have to put on a convincing show of love and affection in front of Will’s family…might as well make the most of it! Will is definitely more enthusiastic in the beginning about putting on a good show through intimate caresses and passionate kisses. However, he quickly realizes that he’ll have to do everything he can to convince Rusty that the two have a connection which just might make this marriage work for real.

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Beyond the Ultimatum

I’ve read many a marriage ultimatum romance in my time, and the majority tend to default towards physical attraction and sexual attention bringing our couple together to realize they want their marriage to last. Living in such close quarters, and oftentimes those performance kisses in front of others sparks a desire to consummate the marriage as soon as possible. And while these two certainly feel those sparks of desire, they still manage to have a strong relationship foundation built on a shared interest. Dare I say it, they can actually have a conversation with each other that doesn’t revolve around sex!

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They have a mutual love and devotion to horses, and in my opinion this brings them even closer together than their physical connection. After all, it was the impetus for their first meeting, as they were both attending the same rodeo. After spending time together Rusty recognizes the passion and dedication Will holds towards his business, and the responsibility which comes with it. This even extends into his personal life with family, who are always coming to him to seek out his advice. Even Rusty found herself opening up to him about private matters she’d never shared with anyone else before. She can sense he cares for those close to him, and gives them just as much attention as he gives his ranch. For Will, his attraction to Rusty goes beyond just the physical. He admires her ability to ride, her intelligence and wit when it comes to understanding the business, and her prowess at standing up to her father. They’re a match made in rodeo heaven!

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Battle of the Ranches

For me the one crucial piece missing to this story was the connection between Rusty and her father’s ranch. She has been trying to prove her worth to her father practically her whole life in the hopes of inheriting it. She has now decided to marry basically a complete stranger for it. And yet, she seems to have more of an emotional connection to Will’s family ranch than she ever had to the one she’s going to such great lengths to inherit. It implies that for all this time she hasn’t been trying to win the ranch, but rather her father’s approval along with it.

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That being said, I feel like witnessing a more emotional connection to her father’s ranch really could have added another layer of depth and turmoil to the story which was sort of the hallmark of book one. We could have seen this desire to fulfill the marriage ultimatum complicated even more by having to leave the ranch behind to go to another one instead. Perhaps a struggle to see if there’s a place in her heart for more than one ranch? But instead this other ranch seems to be so much more a symbol of family obligation than anything else.

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

Series: Hills of Texas, book 2. I am really enjoying this series, and can’t wait to see what comes next!

Should you read it? This sequel is definitely distinct from the story style of the first book in this series, yet you’ll recognize and love the familial sentiment which continues throughout both novels. The flirtations between Will and Rusty are also addictive. It’s not hard to see why these two fell in love with each other. Considering how fast they got together, one can’t help but wonder what the likelihood would be of this relationship lasting in the real world. And I must say, I think their chances are pretty damn good! There’s an underlying strength and realness to their relationship which extends beyond the physical component.

Smut Level: Just like with book one, you do have to wait a while for the eventual consummation of our couple’s relationship. However, don’t distress! There’s plenty of kissing, nibbling and panting to keep you entertained until then.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Tule Publishing.

 

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Waiting for You by Rose Grey

Upon first glance of this book I had one thought, and one thought only: there better be a few scenes featuring this adorable dog on the cover, or else I’m gonna be peeved! Happy to say my wish came true, pretty much from the opening scene.

What’s it About?

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When Aidy Jones, hotel manager, sees Max Durrell in the lobby, she decides to join a dating service. Aidy knows what she needs and Max isn’t it. Her ideal man is attractive enough to have children with but not attractive enough to fall in love with. Ideally, he’ll also have some roofing skills.

Max Durell has returned to Demerest Cove to accomplish a lifelong dream. The Grand isn’t on the market yet, but convincing the eccentric owners to sell should be a piece of cake. His brothers will take care of the transaction. Max’s job is to flirt with Aidy Jones, the owners’ daughter, so she doesn’t interfere.

Flirting is easy. It’s friendship that’s the problem. Max can’t help enjoying Aidy and while he’ll never fall in love again (Been there. Bought the tux. Bride never showed up.) he is falling in like with her. Deeply in like. But any day now, The Grand will be his. And once Aidy learns Max is the one tearing her beloved hotel away from her, she’ll never want to set eyes on him again.

First Impressions

As far as meet-cutes go, this novel presents us with a good one. After all, it’s not every day you start a romance novel where the female lead literally falls into the arms of our dashing hunk by sliding down a hotel staircase banister holding a box of mice whilst being chased by a precocious young hotel guest behind her and avoiding an eager bloodhound running towards her. Phew, that was definitely a mouthful. Admit it though, pretty adorable. Although this novel does present us with a rather light-hearted and funny start, it does manage to expertly address the inner turmoil that both of our lead characters are suffering with.

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Aidy took on the role of manager eight years ago to help her parents with their failing hotel. The business is draining money, as well as Aidy’s patience, energy, time, and love life. She’s doing all she can to keep the hotel afloat, while at the same time shoving down all of her feelings deep within her. Her frustrations, anger, sadness. And then Max comes along. He becomes someone to confide in, a shoulder to cry on, and someone who seems willing to help and comfort her. However, Aidy has gotten so use to pushing her feelings aside to focus solely on the hotel, that she might just end up pushing her feelings for Max aside too. It seems like it’s just a matter of time before she breaks under the pressure. The question is, will Max be there to catch her?

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As for Max, he hasn’t been completely honest with Aidy about his presence at the Grand hotel. He’s there to keep an eye on things as his brothers go ahead with purchasing the hotel from Aidy’s parents. At first he basically lives life by the mantra that it’s not personal, it’s business. But as he spends more time with this selfless woman who will do anything to keep her home from falling apart, we see how Max is devastatingly conflicted when it comes to Aidy. He wants her to succeed, but at the same time his family’s purchase of the hotel will repair the reputation for him and his brothers in this seaside resort town. For his family to win, in a way it means Aidy must lose. The fact that Max is starting to fall in love with this headstrong woman makes his presence at the Grand all the more troublesome. Honestly I think this tumultuous aspect of the story with Aidy and Max both conflicted about their path in life and feelings for each other was probably the most intriguing and well developed feature of the entire novel.

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Delightful Shenanigans or Added Weight?

So, long story short, the Grand hotel is an utter disaster. It’s basically falling down around itself. The roof is leaking, the rooms are dated, the plumbing is shit (pun absolutely intended), the garden is overgrown, the elevators keep breaking, and mice have started popping up throughout the old structure. It seems as though each new issue, the nose twitch of every mouse, is supposed to add a sense of humor to the story. Almost as though, here we go again! What other shenanigans will Aidy encounter today on the job. However, while there was a mild comedic aspect to it in the beginning, I couldn’t help but feel more and more depressed for Aidy as the story progressed.

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Aidy is doing everything she can, pouring her heart and soul into this place, and sadly we see that no matter what she does it simply isn’t enough. With every toilet she manages to unclog, another temperamental guest will come with a complaint about something else. This woman is carrying around so much weight on her shoulders, and as more and more weight keeps being added through every additional setback I just wanted to shout out, “Oh please give her a break already!” Aidy is basically in a sinking ship in the middle of a hurricane, with nothing but a shot glass to try and bail out the water. However, on top of all these hotel breakdowns, there are two much more significant weights which are dragging Aidy down.

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Sky Lark and Lemon Karma

Yes, you read that right. Sky Lark and Lemon Karma. Aka, Aidy’s mom and dad. These two are a rather bizarre lot. They’ve adopted some pretty out there names for themselves, and have shed the societal labels of mother and father. In my opinion, the two were never worthy of the titles in the first place. My goodness are they terrible people. The author does a fantastic job of really making us hate them. They have never once paid their daughter for her work at the Grand, and yet speak to her as though they are doing her the favor rather than the other way around. They consistently undermine Aidy’s attempts to try and improve the hotel, and don’t even bother to tell her that they’ve entered into negotiations to sell the property. I’ve got two middle fingers pointed right at these two sad excuses for parents.

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Aidy definitely has her hands full when it comes to dealing with Sky Lark and Lemon Karma, but while growing up in the Grand hotel there were others that she came to rely on as surrogate parents. The staff. This is her true family. They have stuck by her through thick and thin, and remain loyal to her above her so-called parents. That being said, I really wanted to see more of a focus on her relationships with these staff members, specifically the doorman (owner of the beloved pooch on the cover), the head chef, and the head receptionist. Aidy states how these three characters mean the world to her, but it seems as though we really only get a surface look at these connections. I really wish we could have witnessed more moments where these three take on the maternal and paternal roles they are credited with. Sure, we see how each one basically warns Max to never even think about hurting Aidy, but I think there was more emotion which could have been brought to the table here.

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

Series: Durrell Brothers Trilogy, book 1. Oh I am definitely all in when it comes to the next two books in this trilogy. We get a few glimpses here and there of Max’s supportive, yet headstrong brothers, and I can’t wait to see what the author has in store for these two!

Should you read it? It’s gonna sound weird, but I almost wish this book had been billed more as a drama. The high points of the story always revolved around Aidy and Max debating over whether or not to take their flirtations further considering all of the personal drama they’re trying to hide from the world, and each other. Therefore, when we get these few glimpses of a disastrous online date for Aidy, or an annoyingly out-of-tune chorus group staying at the hotel, these moments of comedy almost seemed at odds with the emotional journey that Aidy and Max were traveling along. I almost wish the online dating aspect of the story had been replaced with more scenes of Aidy connecting with her familial staff. That being said, you definitely feel for the characters in this book. Whether it’s rooting for Aidy to succeed, for Max to open up, or for her parents to get a good slap in the face…you’ll have some pretty intense feelings one way or another!

Smut Level: Plenty of passionate kissing, but the sex scene itself isn’t discussed in detail. We go from a make-out panting session to the afternoon after.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. Simply Romance Press. 296 Pages.

Here and Then After by D.M. Porters

Beth has been given a second chance at life, and in the process she also has a chance at love. It might be the truest love she’s ever experienced. In this lifetime…or her last one.

What’s it About?

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Retired tax accountant, Elizabeth Edwards is devastated when she discovers her husband of 41 years, has been unfaithful most of their married life. What’s worse, she discovers this after he passes away when deep, punishing secrets are revealed. She is left to struggle with the deception and the fact that her life has been a lie. Broken, tortured and alone, Beth decides to leave her life behind and start over with what little time she had left.

With a keen eye for antiques and her love of history, Beth embarks on a journey to England that will change everything for her, even time. She visits the countryside to explore its grand manors and estates. Then, the directions to a ‘hidden gem’ are disclosed to her, and she is inexplicably drawn to this estate – Taylor Manor.

Faced with her own sudden death, Beth is given a second chance to live. This time, however, it is in the body of a beautiful young woman living her own hell 200 years in the past. In a twist of fate, the haven she is sent to is Taylor Manor, where she is to work as a maid. There she meets the brooding Lord Samuel Taylor, who has lived through his own pain and suffering. Can Beth start over and learn to live in this new and dangerous world while resisting her growing attraction to handsome Lord Taylor? Can he allow himself to love while battling his own demons? Love truly has no boundaries, not even time.

First Impressions

This novel presents us with a very unique and interesting twist to your typical time travel romance. Rather than simply traveling through time (seriously, who hasn’t in this day and age?), Beth has actually died in the year 2017 from a heart attack. As she’s traveling towards the white light of the beyond, she encounters a young woman named Sarah who is also moving along that same light. Beth then proceeds to inhabit Sarah’s body back in the early 1800’s. This added an interesting dimension to the whole time travel theme in that Beth doesn’t just have to adapt to living in a new time period, but she also deals with a flood of memories from this young woman’s sad and short-lived life. I can’t say I’ve ever come across a time travel romance such as this, and I must say I loved this twist. Instead of constantly wondering whether or not Beth will be able to return to her own time, because let’s face it that ship has sailed, we get an alternate drama of her having to cope with the events and tragedies that Sarah tried to escape from through suicide. We quickly learn that this woman was abused and raped at the hands of her drunken father, and while Beth is able to hide out in the countryside estate, Taylor Manor, we all know it’s just a matter of time before this abusive father comes to find her.

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A New Life

Beth doesn’t lament too long on the fact that she’s leaving her old life behind for good. After all, she was in her 60’s at the time of her death, and suffering from obvious heart problems. She now gets to inhabit the body of a beautiful 20-year-old, and the aches and pains of old age are no more. Beyond that though, she had also just learned that her recently deceased husband of 41 years was quite the philanderer, and even had a daughter she never knew existed. After learning of this betrayal, Beth decided to finally set out and live life for herself by exploring the beautiful country estates of England. She visits a rather hidden estate known as Taylor Manor, and feels an immediate connection to the house before keeling over dead from a heart attack. Imagine her surprise when she wakes up in the 1800’s, and learns that to escape the clutches of Sarah’s lunatic father she will be hidden away as a housemaid in none other than Taylor Manor.

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Now, most people who find themselves in this type of situation would probably be freaking the eff out. However, you have to admire Beth’s tenacity and ability to look at this entire situation as a second chance at life. Sure, Sarah’s life was fraught with issues, but Beth still chooses to make the most of every day. The fact that she gets to spend her time in a beautiful manor house surrounded by glorious antiques is simply an added bonus! And sure, the devilishly handsome master of the house with whom she has an undeniable sexual chemistry isn’t half-bad either. However, I do feel that there was one missed opportunity here for some added fun. In her former life, Beth was a wealthy older woman who had worked a desk job as a successful accountant. Now she is suddenly a housemaid in the 1800’s doing dishes, cleaning, etc? I just wish we could have been privy to a few more scenes which focused on the difficulty of adjusting to this new life. I get that by waking up 40 years younger she probably has a bit more pep in her step, but it seems like she would have had a few issues here and there with having to put some elbow grease into her daily work.

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Life in the Manor

Of all the manors in England to end up in after traveling through time, Beth definitely lucked out being placed in Taylor Manor. The various characters of the house are such a delight, and you can’t help but fall in love with them. From the motherly love of the head-housekeeper, to the joyous affability of the cook, and especially the rambunctious innocence of the young stable boy. As soon as Beth steps foot into this house you can’t wait to get to know them all, and just like Beth you too will be swept up into the warmth of this friendly bunch of people. And then of course we get to the master of the house, Samuel. He’s a bit of a surly fellow. Kind of closed-off and grumbly, although he has a definite soft spot for his employees.

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We learn that his parents died in a tragic carriage accident when he was just a boy. The fact he witnessed the entire ordeal adds to the overall tragedy of the event, and obviously contributed to his seemingly outward lack of empathy as an adult. But at the first sight of Beth he is obviously smitten, and also surprisingly intrigued by her adept knowledge of math and balancing his ledgers. Beth is also surprised to feel such desire for a man again. I will admit at times I was prone to a slight giggle-fest when they eventually acted upon their desires for each other. What can I say? I couldn’t help but remind myself that in essence we have a woman in her 60’s getting down and dirty with a handsome English Lord in his 20’s. Sure, her body might be young, but this woman has lived, and she brings all of her experience to the table. Let’s just say she has a few tricks up her sleeve to bring this man to his knees. Well…she gets down on hers anyway!

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The Big Reveal

Alright, so the time has come which we know is inevitable in any time travel romance. The moment when our lead character admits to her love interest the fact that she isn’t from this time. Samuel has suspected pretty much from day one that Beth was hiding something about herself, but he never dreamed in a million years what she would come to admit. Now, typically when this reveal happens, a very common response is for the opposite party to think our time traveler is crazy. I definitely get it. But here was the one aspect of this novel that I wasn’t toooooo fond of. Normally when the person thinks the time traveler is crazy, they immediately start to treat them like delicate glass, and vow to get them the help they so desperately need. Well…we don’t get that here.

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Instead, after Beth admits she’s lived a life in the future, Samuel not only declares she must be mad, but practically insists that she get the hell outta his house as soon as possible. Dude, I understand it’s a tough thing to understand, but don’t throw the poor woman out on the street! Let’s assume for a moment that he does actually believe she is legitimately insane. Beth has already admitted to him that she (or at least the woman she’s occupying) tried to commit suicide after being abused and raped at the hands of her father. Why wouldn’t Samuel just think she’s going through some kind of post-traumatic meltdown, and somehow tried to create an alternate life as a way to cope with this trauma? While he quickly comes to regret his decision to kick her out of his house, and immediately runs after her to bring her back, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed at his initial reaction to her admission. I expected more from you Samuel!

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

Series: Taylor series, book 1. I have definitely fallen in love with this family, and this manor. Can’t wait to see what comes next in book 2!

Should you read it? I will say it does take some time for our story to build up to Beth’s eventual death and travel through time. Quite a bit of time is spent on Beth interacting with her husband’s illegitimate daughter that I’m not 100% convinced was entirely necessary. Unless of course that story line comes back into play in a future novel? Who knows! That being said, once Beth makes the jump through time I was hooked. You have the drama and intrigue of her adjusting to life in the 1800s, falling in love with Samuel, and eventually dealing with the suspense of the abusive father. I figured we’d end with a happily ever after, but what I wasn’t expecting was to see how everything connects back to the future. The novel definitely comes full circle in a delightfully clever way, and I for one am excited to see what other inventive twists and turns we might encounter in a second book.

Smut Level: For a historical romance this book will definitely have you blushing. Sure, we get the typical mentions of trembling and bursting forth into ecstasy, but there are also a few more details in there to please our modern sensibilities.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Amazon Digital Services LLC. 237 Pages.

Larken by Suzanne G. Rogers

The miracle orphan finds love. After years of being alone it’s so nice to see that something has finally gone right.
What’s it About?
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The sole survivor of a train accident, young Larken Burke is dubbed the Miracle Orphan. Four years later, however, her life is far from fortunate. Because of her emotional and physical scars, she believes she’s un-marriageable. With little hope for the future, she agrees to wed a gentleman she’s never met. Unfortunately, his aloof manner proves difficult to take.

Marked by romantic tragedy and the loss of his brother, Brandon King has forsworn marriage. Obliged to take in a ward, he advertises for a mail-order bride to raise the boy. Since the union is to be a marriage in name only, his criteria are youthful age, a certain level of intellect, good breeding, and that the girl shouldn’t be so ill-favored she would embarrass him in society. To his dismay, he gets more than he’d bargained for. Will it take a miracle for Mr. and Mrs. King to fall in love, or is their marriage another accident waiting to happen?

First Impressions 
I have read many a mail order bride romance novel, and honestly after about two or three they get kind of repetitive. However I must say this one was quite unique in that we aren’t dealing with a young woman who gets sent out West to fall in love with a lonely cowboy. Instead this novel is set in the Regency period of jolly ole England. Larken has been brought into the family of Brandon King to act as a sort of governess for his ward. The fact that he places an ad in a newspaper in order to find such a woman to marry and become his wife, sight unseen, makes this romance a bit different than your typical Lord falling in love with a governess tale.
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Why would a woman as young and beautiful as Larken agree to enter into such a bizarre arrangement? Easy, she has no choice. Her parents died years before in a tragic train accident in which Larken was the sole survivor, making her the “miracle orphan”. She was eventually adopted by a cold, unloving family. Larken is now of age to be married off, and her stepfather takes the first offer he finds. This novel definitely draws you in with its sad beginning, but eventually we see a beautiful romance develop, not to mention the importance placed on family. Just when it seems that everything is going wrong for Larken, she eventually finds a happily ever after she never thought was possible. 
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The New Wife and the Ward 
Hands down my favorite aspect of this novel is the fact that it didn’t really start off as a romance. Instead we see the focus placed more on Larken developing a relationship with Myles, Brandon’s young Ward. He too is an orphan, and is afraid to suddenly be in a new home surrounded by people he doesn’t know. This is where Larken is able to offer her own personal perspective, and connect with Myles when it seems no one else can. She too has been left alone in the world, and is just looking for someone she can talk to. Neither will find this in the cold-mannered Brandon King. He practically ignored Larken at their wedding, refusing to look or speak with her. Hell, they didn’t even consummate the damn thing. Needless to say her opinion of him was quite negative at the outset.
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As for his relationship with Myles, we aren’t given too much information at the beginning. We just know that Brandon knew Myles’ mother, and felt obligated to pick up the young lad over in America before returning back with him to his estate in the English countryside. Brandon said only a handful of words to the young orphan on the return journey, and therefore Myles also doesn’t have the best opinion of his new caretaker. He is also wary of Larken in the beginning, insistent that she would never be able to replace his mother. But this is where Larken admits she has no such objective. She is just looking for a friend. This is also where we get to see Larken’s rather carefree and whimsical nature. She had to invent imaginary friends in order to survive the harsh realities of being orphaned in such a tragic manner. She has no hesitancy whatsoever in introducing these silly characters with their own personalities to Myles.
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Eventually their laughter draws the attention of the brusque Brandon King. While both are understandably wary of letting him into their tight-knit circle in the beginning, they eventually are able to open up with each other and become a family. All of them have lost loved ones, and while they understand the others could never replace those that they’ve lost, they are able to overcome the tragedies of their pasts the more time they spend together. All of this takes place within the first half or so of the novel, so you can see why it was definitely my favorite part. Once this ragtag bunch of characters find happiness with each other, things start to get a bit…interesting.
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While there were definitely some interesting plot twists towards the end of the novel that I did not see coming, I must admit that the second half wasn’t as enjoyable as what came before it. I did find one particular plot twist revolving the death of Brandon’s brother, Theo, rather interesting. Brandon blames himself for his brother’s tragic death years before, and we see that it actually relates to Myles’ mother. His brother’s death not only impacted his surly manner, but also his outlook on life and love.
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Both Larken and Myles are able to help Brandon overcome the tragedy of his brother’s death, but with this certain plot twist in the second half it sort of throws everything we thought we knew for a loop. While certain aspects of this twist weren’t necessarily my favorite, or particularly realistic, I really did enjoy that it connects back to how our novel began with the terrible train accident involving Larken and her parents. It was neat to see that almost every aspect of the novel introduced in the beginning comes back full circle by the end. Even the most seemingly erroneous of details actually had a purpose, and nothing is left unresolved.
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However, while the twist involving Brandon’s brother may not have been my absolute favorite, the dramatic plot point that was saved for the very end of the novel was by far my least favorite aspect of the book. It was just too over-the-top, and actually involves Larken being kidnapped by an unhappy group of theater actors dressed as pirates. So…yeah. It was too theatrical for my taste, and took away a sense of realism to the story which had been so strong up to that point. Both the pain and love which all of these characters felt was something that we could all understand. And then suddenly we have this group of outsiders dressed as pirates to throw a wrench in the whole thing. I definitely understand the need for drama, but let’s tone things down just a smidge. 
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Series: Graceling Hall, book 1. Overall I really did enjoy the characters and the story presented in this novel. I will definitely be continuing on with book 2.
Should you read it? This is a short, quick read. It highlights the importance of family, and to keep trudging on when life seems to be at its lowest point. You never know, there might just be a break in the clouds up ahead. The ending was definitely a bit too over-the-top, but I loved the familial dynamic between Brandon, Myles and Larken, not to mention the developing romance between our male and female lead.
Smut Level: Two short kisses, and an implied love scene at the very end. Clean read, no graphic details, and very sweet. Not the steamiest of historical romances. 
Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Idunn Court Publishing. 176 Pages.

Always Mine by Ruth Cardello

Passion for art. Passion for business. Passion for each other. When push comes to shove, which one will prove the strongest?

What’s it About? 26064429

When it comes to getting what he wants, Asher Barrington is a hammer who is known for crushing his opponents. From the moment Emily walks into his office and challenges him, winning takes on a whole new meaning. The only thing standing between Emily Harris and her goal to open a museum for the blind is an arrogant, sexy as hell billionaire, who thinks sleeping with her will not complicate the situation. He won’t change. She won’t back down. But together they sizzle.

First Impressions

Meh. Blarg. Blerg. Blaginfeffer. This book was just ok. There were definitely some very interesting aspects which kept me engaged as a reader, but overall there were just too many different storylines and dramatic plot points at play which never really came full circle for me. Not to mention a romantic couple that was constantly engaged in a dynamic power struggle, with a lacking ability to communicate or even act like adults at times. Sounds like a fun one to jump right on into doesn’t it?? Follow me!

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Emotion vs. Physical Connection

Alright, first off, their emotional relationship seemed completely unbelievable, and even one-sided to me. Their physical relationship is certainly ready and raring to go, but also borders on physical manipulation at times. I seriously lost track of the number of times Emily told Asher no, but then he just kisses her into agreeing to sleep with him. It seems like their entire physical connection is based on them being pissed at each other, and then working off their frustration in the bedroom. While this can work in some situations, the fact it was the driving force behind their coupling just left a bad taste in my mouth. As for the emotional side of things, this was all over the freaking place, and is so catty wompus it’s tricky to verbalize in a coherent way.

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When it comes to Emily, I honestly felt she was more passionate about her art than Asher. But there’s actually a very good reason for that. Asher basically treats her like shit! He’s closed off to her about his life, constantly keeps her in the dark, and apparently uses sex as a way to distract her. When he f*cks something up in their relationship, he can never use his words to say how he messed up. Instead he turns to making a big gesture, which I think is supposed to show how deeply he cares for Emily that he’s willing to go all out to remedy the situation. However, instead I couldn’t help but feel that he was just throwing money at her in the hopes of wooing her to his side. I mean, hell, I’d swoon over a private plane ride to Paris with a sex God. But then you have to ask yourself what you’re left with when the Paris vacation is over and you fly back home.

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The Sex God

And this leads me to the underlying reason I didn’t really care for this book. When you stripped away all of Asher’s money, power, and sexual prowess, what do you have remaining? He’s kind of a dick. Sure, he loves Emily, but she has some clear-cut lovable qualities. She cares about her family, she’s passionate about her mother’s art and sharing it with the world. She herself is a loving person. As for why Emily falls in love with Asher? Other than him being talented with his penis I’m kind of at a loss.

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He does show a brief interest in her art, and while he does have a final big gesture which shows he’s been paying attention to how important her art is to her, I couldn’t help but feel Asher merely saw it as a way to get Emily back into his life and his bed. When they’re in Paris he basically abandons her to go solve a work problem. Not only does he leave with zero explanation, but he remains radio silent for about two weeks. No calls, no texts, no carrier pigeons. And then he’s shocked upon returning to Paris and discovering that she’s returned to the States without him. Seriously, what did you expect ya ass?

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A Plethora of Plots

Another big deterrent of this novel was that there were way too many plot points introduced, and they didn’t really mesh well. There’s an interesting start for sure, as Asher’s company is buying up all the land around Emily’s home and museum site for some kind of fancy facility that needs to be in rural New Hampshire for some reason. Then you have their love/hate/anger relationship and sexual explorations. But then there’s this weird side-plot involving Asher’s business exploits in some kind of war-torn country with guerrillas, and for me it was the most unnecessary aspect of the book. Back in the States Emily is working closely with Asher’s mother on an art auction to spread the word about Emily’s new museum. But! As if that wasn’t enough Emily’s museum burns down and we have to deal with the drama of who was responsible, and Asher trying to win her back after being absent for so long. By that point it was just kind of like, alright what else can we plop on here?! Sometimes less is more!!

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Series: The Barrington Billionaires, book 1. Meh.

Should you read it? I wanted more from this book, but also less at the same time. I know, sounds disfunctional. First, I wanted more reasons to like Asher as a person, not to mention love him as a romantic lead. Second, there needed to be at least one less story point, as it was just an overwhelming amount to the point where some couldn’t be fully fleshed out to come full circle. Overdone for sure. And to throw another wrench into the mix, while Emily was a passionate character she could be over-the-top at times, and almost too idealistic. Tone it down girl. All in all, it was hard to fall in love with the characters.

Smut Level: Hot damn! The physical connection between these two was one of the only things they had going for ’em. Naughty, dirty, and angry. But…almost too angry.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. FREE Kindle. RCardello LLC. 220 Pages.

Under a Scottish Sky by Pamela Q. Fernandes

While searching for stars in the Scottish sky, Michelle manages to find love underneath them.

What’s it About? 36239163

Seeking stars, finding love! Michelle Reyes is a strong, guilt-ridden woman. Traveling as a nurse from her home in Manila to Scotland to see the stars, she meets Adrian, the son of her patient. She sees Adrian as arrogant, unforgiving and cruel. But is Adrian more than he appears to be?

First Impressions

I think I’ve said it before. If not, well I guess I better mention it here. Short novels are a tricky business. Their short length are so unique that they can allow you to skip over superfluous details, and get right down to business. They can also give a slight introduction or continuation of a story from a full-length novel that sort of teases you for something more. More often than naught however, I think short novels can act as a trap when what should probably be a full story instead crammed into something much shorter. Unfortunately, I think this story falls into the latter category. Overall, it was an intriguing story which captured my interest, and was filled with troubled yet relate-able characters. However, I couldn’t help but feel that the romance aspect of the tale between Michelle and Adrian felt somewhat rushed. In the end, I was left wanting more.

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A Few More Pages Needed

Personally, I felt this was the type of story that really would have benefited from a longer page length. There’s just a lot going on! In addition to the obvious budding feelings of love between Michelle and Adrian, we also have her acting as a nurse and caretaker to his stroke-impacted mother (probably my fav story line), Adrian dealing with his own troubled relationship with his mom and deceased father, as well as an interesting dynamic involving Adrian’s former friend, ex-girlfriend and Michelle. Not to mention Michelle’s work visa issues to remain in Scotland after moving from the Philippines, and her own quest to find peace following the death of her parents years before. And last but not least, the attempt to see the stars hidden in the mist of Scotland’s grey and cloudy skies. All in 81 pages! Phew, kind of exhausting.

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A Whirlwind Romance

So you can definitely see how there were plenty of plot points on hand to fill an entire novel. That being said, if we have to work within the parameters of a short novel, there is one more thing I would have wanted, which was just one more scene between Adrian and Michelle to focus on the dynamic of their evolving relationship. They seemingly moved rather quickly from acquaintances to crushes to feelings of actual love. We were really only offered one detailed scene which highlighted their connection on an emotional level, and that was when Michelle explained the tragic reasoning behind her desperate search to find stars in the night sky.

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This moment offered us one of the most endearing and enchanting scenes of the novel. However, I think the overall story would have been strengthened significantly from one additional scene where we could have seen the vulnerable side of Adrian. Instead, we have brief mentions of how they “chatted” or “spent time together”, but delving deeper into one of those particular moments could have made their relationship seem slightly more plausible. Again, all the pieces were there for something spectacular, but the details needed to be more fully fleshed out.

The Brightest Star

There was one character in this tale who I think was provided with the most development in terms of her story arch, and that would be Adrian’s mother. From her first scene you can’t help but fall in love with her kindness. She’s struggling to survive following her stroke, as well as deal with the fact her son resents her, but she manages to take things all in stride. Michelle also has the ability to bring out the best in her, not to mention help her find joy in the things she used to love about life. The mother’s story has a definite arch, and it was an emotionally compelling and poignant part of the plot, not to mention one of the main driving forces which brought Michelle and Adrian together.

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

Series: Nope! Although I’d love to see either a continuation of this story, or perhaps even see it developed into a full-length book.

Should you read it? This short novel is a quick read which definitely draws you in, but ultimately I was left wanting more. I think the story could have benefited from maybe one more scene focusing on the development of Michelle and Adrian’s relationship. Also, certain aspects were rushed to the point where we couldn’t fully get to know our two main characters. There seemed to be so much to Adrian’s back story that could have been expanded upon. Michelle also had a number of tearful moments which could have been spread out more.

Smut Level: Some brief kisses between our two unlikely lovebirds.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $1.99 Kindle Price. Amazon Digital Services LLC. 81 Pages.

Company Ink by Kat Colburn

A delicious office romance with a secretive twist.

What’s it About?

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I think this might be someone else’s story…because it certainly doesn’t feel like mine anymore. I can still remember a time when I was happy, when I didn’t go to sleep each night with a stress headache, and wake up each morning and cry because I no longer recognized my own life. A sick parent, a job I can’t stand, a company I hate, and too many people counting on me to stick it out and be strong. This can’t be my story. I guess I’m an unlikely heroine anyway- sarcastic and feisty, and more than one person has called me foulmouthed. Yeah, I guess it’s pretty unlikely that there is a hero and a white horse in my future.

Enter Dan Kelly. The new smoking hot vice president at this horrible company. He’s offered me a way out, one more shot at my dreams and the life I always wanted. He stands too close to my desk with his cocky smirk and makes it hard to type, he pushes our workplace flirting until it’s all I can do not to beg him to bend me over his desk, he challenges me, makes me want to argue with him until our fights verge on something…more. He makes me feel alive like no other. He makes me feel like there just might be a happily ever after in my future.

The problem is…his mountain of secrets.

The problem is…we can’t cross that line or I’ll be fired.

The problem is…he’s my best friend and now I want more.

The problem is…I’m about to be sucked into a story I never imagined I’d be a part of, and I’m not sure if I can make there be a happy ending.

First Impressions

I really enjoyed this book! It was such a good combination of funny, romantic, slightly suspenseful, yet also kind of sad. Office romances are always a tricky thing, and must be handled delicately so that we don’t cross over into inappropriate work behavior/sexual harassment. However, this book cleverly avoids that scenario. Sure, there’s that first initial physical attraction upon first meeting for our lead characters, but they don’t take things further for a really long time. Instead what we see is a true blossoming of friendship. They help each other in work, he helps her with managing stress, and only by opening up through spending so much time together do they slowly start to fall for each other. I for one appreciated how natural it seemed. And sure, once their friendship is secure we do see some fabulous sexual innuendo thrown in there too!!

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Trapped

The work factor of this novel was just as gripping as the romantic side of things. Now, I’m not gonna lie, I didn’t fully comprehend whatever the hell technology it was these two were working on. However, that wasn’t really the most important facet of it. Instead it was all about Dani, and how we’ve seen her become trapped by something she used to love. How this company is running her into the ground with stressful hard work that she doesn’t receive appropriate compensation for. Yet she’s unable to leave because she needs the money to help pay for her mother’s cancer treatment. And that’s when Dan comes along.

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The two of them are forced to work together on a big international proposal, the commission from which would allow Dani to finally have enough funds to help her mother, quite working for a company she hates, and finally get back to the woman she once was before corporate suits and fake personalities buried her true self. She can finally focus on living her life and escape from the depression she’s slowly steeping herself in. And I just found this part of the story so compelling. We find this strong woman at her wits’ end. At first she is hesitant to work with the domineering Dan, but they quickly discover how similar their personalities are. They have the same interests, laugh at the same jokes and truly become best friends. He helps her smile again, and uncover the sassy side she’s kept hidden for so long. They both want to take things to the next level, yet also don’t want to rush the possibility of ruining their friendship. Not to mention breaking a few HR rules along the way!

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Taking Their Time

After a while I really started to wonder if we would ever be privy to Dani and Dan breaking those HR rules, because damn do we have to wait a long time for them to get around to it!! Again, when push comes to shove I’m happy we were able to see them develop an emotional connection beyond anything physical, but good God! Eventually there was so much sexual tension I was ready to burst. While you do have to wait until a good three quarters of the way through the novel to get to the good stuff, lemme just tell you it…doesn’t…disappoint! I’d say we get a good full chapter of details, and my word do they make every second of it count. Simply delicious!

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

Series: Nope!

Should you read it? Personally I really liked this one, and I think it’s a good one to take to the beach. You can’t help but root for Dan and Dani to eventually find a way to be together. There are some secrets to Dan that I won’t give away here, but let’s just say they also impact his decision to hold off on taking things further with Dani. There was one element brought into the very end of the novel that I can’t 100% say was necessary, but overall I thought it was a fun, sweet, sexy read.

Smut Level: We have some warming up in a pool, shower, and against a window. See, I told you it didn’t disappoint!!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $12.89 Paperback Price. Self-Published. 245 Pages.