Connected by Kim Karr

Well…isn’t this a depressing start to a novel?!

What’s it About?

17902302

What if a ‘Once in a Lifetime’ could happen twice? Suffering from a past full of tragedy, Dahlia London’s soul has been left completely shattered. Happily ever after is a far cry from reality in her world. But, when she is reconnected with her past, the bonds that form are irrefutable.

When River Wilde, lead singer of The Wilde Ones, comes back into Dahlia’s life, the intensity that fires their relationship combined with underlying feelings that have never died lead her to believe she has met her soulmate. Struggling with confusion as old connections fade and new ones begin, Dahlia’s grief begins to lift–but guilt remains. River wants to be the one to mend all that is torn within her. But with a past that is never really gone, can their future survive?

First Impressions

We start things off with a touching memory involving Dahlia going to a concert with her father, but then we find out in the next scene that her parents both died soon afterwards in a plane crash. Flash-forward a couple years and Dahlia is dating a guy named Ben, but has an unexpectedly passionate eye-connection and quick convo with a mysterious musician in a bar. I figured we’d proceed with a love triangle college romance. Not always my favorite, but I can deal. Well, hold your horses because we’re not done with the tragic set-up of the novel quite yet. We flash forward another 5 years to find that Dahlia and Ben are engaged, and while on the way to a party they’re approached by a gunman who shoots and kills Ben in cold blood. Good God can I get a shot of tequila or something before I attempt to read another chapter here?!

giphy

Another Flash Forward

The first part of this novel focuses on Dahlia overcoming the death of so many loved ones before she happens to reconnect with River, the handsome musician she locked eyes with when she was back in college. After so many years apart, not to mention the multiple tragedies which she has encountered, when she reconnects with River she’s surprised there is still the same spark of connection, lust, and desire. Something which surprised me though during this reunion with River was how often Ben came back into her mind. True, this is the first man she’s thought about in a physical sense since the death of her fiancé. However, I guess I just figured that seeing as she’s been mourning him so deeply for so long, that maybe her time with River would cause the memory of her fiancé to slip ever so slightly from her mind. If anything, we see that the opposite happens.

How-to-Process-Grief-Six-Steps-of-Mourning-800x565

Instead of having River replace the memory of her dead fiancé, if anything she thinks about him more than she ever has in recent months. Their conversations are full of fun and laughter, yet they constantly make her think back on happy memories or connections with Ben. While I may not have been expecting this reaction, I must say I loved how realistic it felt. Ben was such an important figure in her lift since she was 5 years old, and I think it would have been so simple for the author to have River’s very presence push the tragedy of Ben to the sidelines. But instead we see the reality of someone moving on from tragedy, and the inner conflict Dahlia feels as she spends more time with River. Inevitably she starts to compare the two, and feels guilty as she contemplates whether or not Ben ever made her feel the way River does. Ultimately she’s able to start having happy memories again with someone new, but for a good portion of the book it’s almost as though the ghost of Ben is there as the third wheel in her re-connection with River.

9b7af17b216bfd01b45f39111e6161c7

Quick Switch

The majority of the book is told from Dahlia’s point of view, from her tumultuous experience with grief, to her growing love for River, and even her arguments with River’s brother. I need to take a moment to say my God the disagreement and animosity between River’s brother and Dahlia was so unbelievably contrived and arbitrary with misplaced blame it was pretty ridiculous. Listening to it on my walks to work I’m sure other people probably thought I was having a seizure from all the eyebrow scrunches and crazy looks I was putting out there. Anyway, I digress.

giphy

Even though Dahlia is our main storyteller for about 3/4 of the novel, I was surprised at a point of view switch so late in the game. At first I thought, well this will be a total waste to have waited so long to suddenly hear things from River’s viewpoint. Well, I couldn’t be more wrong! It was actually rather fascinating to see that underneath River’s seductive and confident exterior lies vulnerability and doubt over whether or not Dahlia will ever love him as much as she loved Ben. Sure, she says she loves him, but is he actually just an emotional rebound? He loves her so much, but is worried that he’ll constantly have to battle Ben’s ghost for her affections. In this instance, it was an unexpected yet surprisingly useful POV switch.

giphy

Multiple Meanings

Mkay, the title. Connected. As the novel progresses it wants you to think that the connection that’s being referred to deals with the emotional link between Dahlia and River. And yes, I realize I just referred to the book as a free thinking entity. Their connection over music is especially strong, and this is definitely one of those books where an accompanying playlist would be particularly helpful to figure out who the heck they’re talking about. However, once River’s point of view takes over the narration we realize that there’s a different kind of connection going on, and it’s one related to all of our characters being connected in a way we never thought possible! Except it was actually slightly predictable 🙂 But!! The freakin’ epilogue leaves us with a holy shit Batman surprise that will knock your socks off. Ok, so I kiiiind of predicted this surprise too, but to have it confirmed was definitely a slap in the face, and it ends the book on a rather huge and intense climax.

mind-blown

Series: Connections, book 1. Honestly, I’m kind of hesitant to proceed with this series, mainly because the cliffhanger ending implies that book two is gonna be one hell of a heartbreaking continuation that will involve some really difficult and depressing decisions on the part of Dahlia. Good luck girlfriend. I do not envy you this decision.

Final Impression: We have an unbelievably emotional and depressing start, and kind of a mind f*ck of an ending, with a middle section that kind of dragged a bit with all of Dahlia and River’s lovey dovey ooey gooeyness love connection. That’s one roller coaster of a sandwich cookie right there. Definitely double stuffed. In my opinion though we definitely could have used less filling.

Smut Level: The emotional connection between Dahlia and River isn’t the only thing that’s off the charts between them. River has been waiting to unleash his sexual prowess on Dahlia for years, and he’s not holding back this time around.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Berkley Publishing. 370 Pages.

Advertisements

Setting Sail!

December has finally arrived, which can only mean one thing. It’s time for another family cruise vacation! We are setting sail this week for the beautiful sunshine of the Caribbean. See ya later 40 degree weather! Can’t say I’ll miss you at all.

rendezvous.jpg

I’ve got my Kindle full of romantic beach reads, and I can’t begin to express how much I’m looking forward to getting my tan-on whilst reading the day away. Sure, the endless buffets of delicious food and desserts are also pretty awesome, but I’m most excited about getting away from the stresses of life. Nothing quite like getting off the grid, and telling work that you will literally be unreachable for a whole glorious week in international waters.

07064e384ebbb98ae220a77fc44ec326.jpg

From Costa Maya to Cozumel, not to mention the delicious rum of Belize, here’s to a week of fun, sunshine, and time with family. I imagine I’ll have finished quite a few books by the time the week is out. See you all in a week!

norwegiancruiseline

Confessions of a Gigolo by Richard Godwin

With a name like “Paris Tongue”, you can expect all kinds of sensual delights from this gigolo.

What’s it About? 

42106018

Set in five major European cities, this erotic novel absorbs cultural atmosphere against a backdrop of love, lust, betrayal and revenge.

Blonde. Dangerous. Gigolo.

Paris Tongue uses his looks to seduce wealthy women and introduce them to the Secret Hour, that hidden time when they can escape their lives. Using his inheritance to travel, he penetrates the erotic essence of different cities, from London, Paris, to Rome, Madrid and Dusseldorf.

His sexual escapades begin to catch up with him. He sleeps with the wife of a Mafia Boss and is hunted across Europe by hit men. The assassins find him in Spain. By then he is versed in the deeper philosophy of Eros and sees them off. He is, after all, the bastard child of a killer, who knows how to survive.

In Germany he meets Anja from Croatia, the first woman he wants to settle down with, then he realises he inhabits no city at all – just a place of intoxicated night and endless seductions.

First Impressions

Alright ladies and gents, I’m gonna be straight up with y’all right off the bat and say that this read simply was not my cup of tea. It basically just came across as porn to me, with some pretty stiff (pun absolutely intended) and graphic dialogue. Now don’t get me wrong, you all know I am an absolute lover of dirty talk, but this was even out of my realm of comfort. I know dirty talk isn’t for everyone, but at times I feel it can sort of encapsulate the passion of a main couple. But with this read it didn’t seem so much as passion, but rather just dirty for the sake of being shocking. I read this entire book during a 2 hour and 1 minute flight from Sacramento to Denver, and let me tell you I can’t remember the last time I clutched my kindle so close to my chest, with my cover flap acting as a shield, so that the passengers and flight attendants around me wouldn’t see some of the illicit language on the page.

Reading a book while travelling by airplane.

Gigolo vs. Con Artist

My main disappointment with this novel would probably have to be with our main character, and it wasn’t just because he was a gigolo. As a matter of fact, I think this was the aspect of the synopsis which really appealed to me the most! We sort of see through his troubled and uncharacteristic childhood how he fell into this habit of non-committed relationships. But what I was really hoping to see more of were the logistics of him connecting with women as a gigolo. That moment where he goes from flirting with women, to then having to ask for payment for his special kind of services. But we really don’t get any of that.

gigolo_20171221_133233

Instead there’s a brief mention here and there of him being paid afterwards, but for several of the hook-ups which are described here it almost comes across as though he uses these women to get free lodging and gifts as he travels around Europe. Sure, I guess that can fall within the lines of payment, but I think what bothered me with this form of payment is that it wasn’t really evident to the women that this fling with our lead character was going nowhere. Some were so obsessed with him they were willing to leave husbands, and sometimes even commit murder in order to be with him. But he’s used to a life of non-commitment, so he would continually leave them behind to move onto his next city. At that point I almost had to question, are we really reading about the confessions of a gigolo, or a sexually adept con artist?

In-Crazy-Stupid-Love-e-il-seduttore-Jacob-Palmer

Avoiding Commitment

Another important thing to keep in mind with this read is that it is far from a romance. Again, I went in with false expectations thinking that we’d meet a gigolo who might eventually find one woman so special he’d want to leave all his previous scheming behind him. Sure, I guess that kind of happens? But it’s more along the lines of one day he just sort of thinks to himself, “hey maybe I should try things out with just one woman”, and the woman he happened to be with at the time was the one he chose to embark on this endeavor with. It’s not like he chose her because he fell in love, or that she was different from every other women who came before. Hell, it didn’t even seem like he was entirely convinced it would last, but it was simply a new adventure he wanted to try out. Doesn’t really fill you with a whole lot of warm and fuzzy feelings.

a2fc483bfb9c083b9959ebd2178be40c2f0cde9d

Temptations Beyond Marriage

One last important thing to keep in mind with this read, which I sort of alluded to earlier, is that it has a dark side to it. Our lead character specifically likes to set his sights on married women, and basically considers his presence in their lives as a service to break them from the shackles of marriage. He never really has to seduce or persuade any of these women to sleep with him, they all come quite willingly to bed, and they all have some pretty exotic tastes. He certainly attracts the same type of women, who can all go for hours on end and come countless times in a plethora of orgasms. But whereas he thinks he’s doing them a service by providing them with the sexual pleasure their husbands can’t provide, I must say I saw his presence as more of a curse. You see, things don’t always…end well for these women.

Przesladowca_lYF7aHt

A few end up killing their husbands, one kills her sister in a jealous rage over access to Paris’s body, and one woman even ends up killing herself. Paris himself also kills a few people who were hired to pursue him for having sex with their mob boss’s wife. Whether it be stabbing them in the chest with a butcher’s knife, or slicing their neck open with a pocket knife, we’ve got some disturbing confessions here. And throughout it all, it never seems as though Paris shows any remorse. True, he never really led these women on by making false promises of forever, and these women weren’t forced into cheating on their husbands. However, he spent a lot of time with these women carrying out the most intimate act two people can engage in. The fact he never looked back, but instead kept looking forward to his next conquest wasn’t that enjoyable to read about if I’m being entirely honest with you.

23735399_500485560325330_8591725430153674752_n

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

Series: Stand-alone

Final Impressions: I can’t really give my recommendation with this one if you’re looking for a “romance”. If you’re looking for something really really out of the box, with a guy who goes from town to town and woman to woman leaving some pretty questionable results in his wake? Sure, give it a try! It won’t take you long. For my tastes though it was simply too over the top.

Smut Level: My god. This man’s penis must be made of gold with how frantic women can become in order to maintain their access to it. His tongue is also pretty decent. Every woman he comes across tastes like champagne and peaches, but the fancy references end there. We see a level of dirty talk that unfortunately was beyond my comfort level.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Amazon Digital Services, LLC. 117 Pages.

99 Coffee Dates by PJ Adams

How can you tell when you’ve found the perfect woman? Easy, she knows the difference between goop and Goop. For those of you who aren’t in the know, that’s adhesive vs Gwyneth Paltrow’s website. Yeah…I didn’t know that either.

What’s it About? 99 coffee dates

99 Coffee Dates is the Laguna Beach story of a woman, a man, a beach, a mermaid, and a steaming mug of coffee. Actually, quite a few cups of coffee since it takes a lot of Joe to find the Joe who’s right. Miranda Wells, divorced single girl and coffee lover, starts the 99 Coffee Dates Project with high hopes. But will she find a dream guy among the 99 individuals on her spreadsheet? Or will serendipity play a hand in this dating adventure based on a true story?

First Impressions

The premise of this romance is definitely an interesting one, in that we see the journey one woman takes to find love through 99 coffee dates with different men she’s met online. Believe it or not, this is actually based on a true story from a woman who set out to have 400 coffee dates in the hope of discovering true love. Which she did. In order to make her way through so many possible prince charmings, our female lead, Miranda, is very methodical in scheduling her meet-ups. She usually meets at least 5 different bachelors in one day at her favorite local coffee shop. Goodness gracious, 5 coffee dates all in 24 hours? My personal limit is 2 cups of coffee per day. I’d probably start having heart palpitations from excessive caffeine intake if I followed this woman’s schedule!

27365623-lots-of-coffee-cups-coffee-time.jpg

Possibles 1 Through 99

While the premise to this novel was undoubtedly unique and entertaining, I can’t say the execution was as successful. In my opinion, the concept of including all 99 dates in one novel just wasn’t the right format. Since finishing this book I’ve been racking my brain trying to think of what would have worked better, and for some reason the only thing that comes to mind would be a TV show or podcast. Cramming all of Miranda’s meetings with her 99 “possibles” into one book started off fun and entertaining, but it didn’t take long before the endless repetition of first date intros, and multiple dates in one afternoon became monotonous and rather tiring. And this was just for me as the reader! I can’t imagine what it would be like as the woman carrying out this little dating experiment. I mean, how would you be able to remember which aspects of your life you’d already introduced to the man sitting in front of you, and which ones you told to your second date of the day 3 hours ago.

An additional aspect of the story line which added a wrench to Miranda’s routine is that we are introduced rather early on to a man who also frequents the same coffee shop where Miranda likes to carry on her coffee dates. Even though the first mention is extremely brief with very little personal information about said gentleman, it’s immediately evident to us as the reader that this guy will inevitably be our leading lady’s happily ever after. At the start Miranda and this other man, Jared, just happen to have a plethora of serendipitous and accidental run-ins, and it takes some time before they even introduce themselves to each other. For a large portion of the novel they simply recognize the other as that random person they apparently see all over town. Eventually they become friends, and I must say I did enjoy watching the progression of their relationship from total strangers to something special. That being said, it was almost too slow of a progression, and it really makes you almost skim the details of these extraneous dates that we simply know will lead nowhere.

quaintest-coffee-date-weve-ever-seen_2048x2048

The Beautiful Beach and the Realities of Dating

If ever there was a book that should be categorized as a beach read, this would be it. While a large portion of the novel takes place at Miranda’s favorite local cafe, another decent portion presents us with our lead contemplating her choices in life and love along the beautiful sand of Laguna’s beaches. The amount of immaculate detail which goes into describing the sound of the waves crashing against the sand, the sea birds skimming their beaks just above the break of the water, and the majestic juxtaposition of the sometimes violent waves with the peacefulness of the vast expanse of the Pacific was oftentimes poetic. It will make you want to book a beach vacation as soon as possible. Good thing I’m going on a cruise next week, otherwise I would seriously be itching for a trip to the beach ASAP.

laguna-beach2-e1466198100739

Another aspect of this read which I appreciated, especially as a single woman, was the reality of Miranda’s dating life. Throughout her first few dates, I remember raising my eyebrow a few times in suspicion and wonderment considering how well these initial interactions were going. Surely dating can’t be that seamlessly easy? Sure enough, it didn’t take long before some of the weirdos came out of the woodwork, as well as the more unfortunate, yet realistic aspects of dating. From men who brought their mothers along, to others who ghosted her, a man that Miranda showed an interest in but he just wasn’t feeling it, to the men who are just in it for the sex, and finally some who were just downright scary. It shows that online dating is far from easy, even when you attempt to weed out the more questionable characters from the get-go.

big_1468225613_image

#1 Vs. #99

A final aspect of this novel which I would be remiss if I didn’t discuss was the psychological component to Miranda’s love project. A common question which is posed to Miranda throughout the novel is whether or not she’s being almost too methodical and scientific in this approach to dating, especially with her spreadsheet of notes for all of her possible suitors. I’ll admit, at times I even wondered if Miranda was being too, well…cold with this dating “experiment”. She’s a numbers girl, and it almost seems as though she’s trying to breeze through these 99 men as quickly as possible, and might not be giving every guy a fair shot. However, I constantly had to remind myself that she’s actually going about this in a rather smart way. She’s choosing to rely on her gut, and especially the first impression she has with a guy. Having already been through one painful divorce, Miranda doesn’t see the point in having to excuse flaws, or convince herself to give a guy a chance. She’s simply relying on her inner voice to tell her whether or not it’s right. If it’s not? No point in dragging things out, onto the next of the 99.

writing-1170146_1920

That being said, I did wonder if subconsciously she would have really been giving all of herself and her attention to the first few men she met compared to those who came along further down the line. I mean, what if the first man she sat down with was wonderful, they hit it off, and there was no longer a need to proceed with the other 98? Or, did she see the first few guys as more of a test run; an introduction to the process of meeting new people? She set out to meet 99 potential suitors, and the dark side of me wonders if she would have shut off part of herself to the possibility of connecting with someone so early on in her experiment. Maybe in the end it really was all a numbers game, and coming into the process further on in the total count of 99 would have increased the chances of a connection? Although coming along too late may have decreased their chances as well considering Miranda may have been pretty burnt out by that point. Meh, what do I know? I’m definitely not an expert when it comes to meeting men online. Let alone 99 of them!

476210133_wide

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

Series: Stand-alone

Final Impressions: Interesting premise, not the best execution in format. At the midway point especially I was really starting to see the tediousness of date after date after date. And it’s not like we really get a cut-away at any point to say that another 10 dates had passed. We literally get an introduction to each and every 99 possible bachelor. In addition, I think if perhaps we had been introduced to Jared, her ultimate winner, later on in the book it wouldn’t have seemed like all these other dates were such a waste of time. In the end it really makes you question if her experiment was a success considering Jared was never in her list of 99 possibles. However, if she hadn’t set out on this experiment their paths may never have crossed. Does serendipity win out in the end after all?

Smut Level: A few mentions here and there of amorous bedroom activities, but a clean read through and through.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $9.99 Kindle Price. Meandering Trail Media. 418 Pages.

Against the Odds by Michele Solano

There’s only a handful of romance novels that make me want to give up city living and move out West to the quiet peace and seclusion of a Wyoming ranch. This is definitely one of those romances.

What’s it About? 

40785715

Jace Nichols is the kind of cowboy every woman wants. He’s sexy, he’s strong, and he knows how to treat a woman to a good time. However, just like a wild stallion who cannot be tamed, Jace makes it a point to keep women at arm’s length, only offering casual dating, and never commits. He gave his heart out only once in his life, and that heartbreak had him promising himself he’d never risk that again. So now his life consists of hard work, time with the Michaels’ clan, and enjoying as many women as he wants without any risk, which suits him just fine. That is, until Scarlet James walks back into his life.

Scarlet James grew up a stone’s throw from Michaels Mob and loved everything about country life. She loved horses, she loved drawing, and she loved Jace Nichols. And when a devastating accident turned her world upside down and ripped her away from everything she knew and loved, including Jace, she never thought she’d set foot on the Mob again. But with her world being turned upside down with an impending divorce and a child to support, she returns to the Mob with the hopes of starting her life over, once again.

Heartbreak returns, secrets are revealed, and first loves reunite in this story of family, love and loss. Can Jace allow the one woman who broke his heart back on the Mob in order to start a new life for herself? Can Scarlet reconnect with the family who helped raise her and heal old wounds with Jace in the process? Can they both be in the same place after all this time and face the pain they caused each other all those years ago or are their wounds too deep to heal?

First Impressions

This series is unbelievably dangerous. Why, you might ask? Because the family matriarch, Grandma E., is so freakin’ adept at cooking and baking, every time I picked up this book I couldn’t help but feel the urge to bake either a casserole, or a pie. The fact I was away from home on work travel without easy access to a kitchen for the majority of this read caused me some rather intense mental anguish. Not to mention severe hunger. In this sequel to Have a Little Faith, we see that the entire clan from the first novel is back, but instead we get a different primary focus on Jace Nichols. He might not be a Michaels, but they’ve basically adopted him into their little family.

Harvest_Various_IoRES

He seems perfectly content to work the Mob with his surrogate family, never becoming tied down or committed to just one woman. But when an unexpected blast from his past comes sweeping onto the ranch to design a race track and stables for a new business venture, both he and Scarlet are forced to confront their former teenage love which ended in heartbreak. Throughout it all we see the couple from the first novel act as a shoulder to cry on, or even vent frustrations, but this tale is really all about Jace and Scarlet finding their way back to each other after so many years apart. The question is, will they be able to overcome the hurdles which separated them all those years ago, or will they prove too strong a barrier? Only one way to find out!

Kiss (2)

Part One: Reconnecting

This book is essentially divided into two parts. The first focuses on Scarlet and Jace coming together again after she is hired to design a race track on his family’s ranch. The animosity between the two is palpable, and I must say it was quite a bit of fun to see them try to tip-toe around avoiding each other. However, in those inevitable moments when they’d come face to face, the bickering between them inflated the sexual tension to a delectable degree. You simply know it’s a matter of time before the two become reacquainted in the physical sense, and I rather enjoyed the suspense of wondering when it was going to come about. We do actually have to wait a while until roughly the halfway point before they go for a roll in the stable loft. Before that though, we are constantly wondering what it was that broke them up so many years ago when they seemed destined to be together.

hay loft

Normally I hate when we’re left in the dark for so long, but I must say the big reveal moment came about naturally and realistically, which was quite refreshing. We first get to see Jace’s take on events, as he relates them to a character from the first book who was so desperate to find out the truth she essentially cornered him and demanded an explanation. Gotta love this woman’s tenacity! And then we get the ultimate climactic moment when Jace and Scarlet finally square off to lay all their cards out on the table, and Scarlet discloses all the tragic details as to why she abandoned him all those years ago. It was an emotionally touching scene, and in that moment you really do feel for the characters.

When-Noah-Gives-Allie-Ultimatum

My one and only complaint was that more attention was focused on the explanation of what split them up years before, rather than having any real focus on the time that they were together as a couple. Sure, we get a few mentions of how they were inseparable for years, and that they had a secret hideout spot on the ranch to connect, but I think the story really could have benefited from a few flashback scenes wherein we could witness the emotional bond these two shared. If we’d had some of these moments interspersed with their bickering, we could have constantly been questioning how things could have ever gotten so bad for them to seemingly hate each other so much before finally building to the inevitable explanation. It seemed like we lost a bit of what brought them together in the first place to instead focus on what was bringing them back together now.

tumblr_m6nr1riXj91ra6bhqo1_500

Part Two: Dropping the Ex

The second half of the book switches focus rather dramatically, and I’m not exactly sure how, but it is both my favorite and least favorite part of the novel (I know, my mind is a scary and weird place where anything is possible). After the reconciliation between Jace and Scarlet, things remain primarily hunky dory between them, and we switch all of our attention to the nasty divorce proceedings between Scarlet and her hopefully soon-to-be ex-husband, Preston. In the middle of it all we find her son, Nicholas, caught in the cross fires of a bitter custody dispute. One way this part of the novel should be applauded is how we see a dramatic building of suspense where we don’t really know what is going to happen in terms of this custody battle, and what lengths Preston will go to in order to ensure Scarlet regrets the decision to try and make it on her own. He’s not afraid to use his son as a bargaining chip, and I was filled with worry and wonder as to how this final courtroom drama would play out.

courtroom-sketch-artist_profile_image

Something that I didn’t quite care for in the midst of all of this though was that for the most part Jace remains in the background as Scarlet tries to resolve this divorce back in Kentucky. He’s still uber supportive through multiple phone calls and FaceTime sessions, but it was kind of a stark juxtaposition to having Jace be such a major part of the first half of the novel, to see him become almost a secondary character in the second part. It’s also kind of an emotional whiplash for the surly and brooding Jace to suddenly transform into a romantic poet. That being said, with Jace remaining back in Wyoming for a portion of this, we do get to see the special connection that Scarlet has with her son, and also see her stand up for herself against her dick of an ex. It was nice to see such a strong female lead not having to lean on her man to solve all her problems for her. It demonstrates this mother-son duo working together as a unit before they can turn all of their attention to moving forward with Jace stoically standing by in their corner.

6033653441_71356c8d07_b

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

Series: Michaels’ Mob, book 2. There are plenty of sexy cowboys to be found on this here Wyoming ranch. I wouldn’t mind seeing a few more highlighted in future books.

Final Impressions: This was a delightful continuation of the Michaels’ Mob series, and instead of portraying a newfound romance we get to see one that highlights the tumultuous path of having a second chance at love. I did enjoy the build-up we get at discovering what it was that separated Jace and Scarlet back when they were teens, as well as the growing suspense surrounding Scarlet’s bitter divorce with her ass-hat ex-husband. While the reasons behind their split were emotionally heartbreaking, I do wish that we had seen a few more tender moments behind the initial love story between Jace and Scarlet all those years ago. It was fun to see the entire Michaels clan back in action for this sequel, although I will say at times their familial connection seems almost a bit too perfect! I mean, is my family the only one that tends to argue around the holidays? No? Oh…well, never mind then.

Smut Level: Alright ladies and gents, you sort of have to wait a while before we eventually get to the good stuff, but once we do? Holy crap. We have some nookie in front of a fireplace, in a candlelit bathtub, not to mention some decent bedroom action. Seriously, I might need to find a Wyoming cowboy for myself.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Amazon Digital Services, LLC. 260 Pages.

RedRockRanchbydee_2011-1522

Seventeen Days by Linda Griffin

What do you do when the man you’ve just started developing a romantic connection with is suspected of a grisly murder? Do you cut your losses, or do you stand by your man?

What’s it About? 

51zGGIjG7pL

Divorcee Jenna Scott moves to a quiet California fishing village during the first Gulf War to make a new life in a house inherited from her grandfather. Her next-door neighbor recommends widowed handyman Rick Alvarez to fix her leaky roof. Jenna is intimidated by his good looks and annoyed by his self-assurance, but disarmed by his affection for his young son. She is still hurting from her ex-husband’s betrayal and resists the attraction between them.

Rick has lived in the village for only three years and is still an outsider, friendly but not sharing his past with anyone. When an attractive vacationer is murdered, local gossip says he is the killer, and rumors spread about his wife’s death as well. Jenna is determined not to believe the gossip, but will she ever be able to trust Rick with her wounded heart?

First Impressions

Surprisingly, the main focus of this novel wasn’t so much about the murder which happened in this sleepy coastal town, but rather the fallout of it. While we see the closeness that can develop between neighbors in a small town, we are also witness to the darker side of town gossip that can overtake a community shocked by tragedy. It was definitely an interesting focus highlighting the prejudice which can be placed towards the supposed “outsiders” in such a close knit community. While it was a fascinating and rather sad glimpse at the dangers of wildfire rumors, I do wish we had focused a bit more on the mystery of the murder. I was expecting it to be more front and center, but instead it’s sort of pushed to the side as an unfortunate incident that we’ll figure out the solution to just when it happens to come about. It’s not like Jenna and Rick team up to find the actual killer in order to clear his name or anything. They just kind of sit by as observers to the drama which unfolds around them.

whisper.0

17 Days of Love and War

The Seventeen Days title of this romance was certainly clever, as it not only tracks the burgeoning romance between Rick and Jenna, but also tracks the first few tumultuous days of the Gulf War. At the start of every chapter we get a count to what day of the war it is, as well as a brief news announcement to how the war is progressing. Now, I must say I was slightly confused as to why the novel was set during that particular time period. It didn’t really play a big enough of a role to truly feel relevant, which made it come across as a rather unnecessary detail. It’s not like either of our lead characters had a military connection, or really any of the characters in the book for that matter. One character expressed an interest in joining up, but again it simply wasn’t a big enough part of the story to really tie everything together. It’s just this event that’s referenced as going on in the background of their lives.

9720229021

I realize this is going to sound slightly weird in hindsight considering the title was in reference to two different things, but you kind of forget about it as the novel progresses. Only at the very end when Jenna makes a reference to it having been 17 days since she first met Rick was I like, ohhhhh, riiiiight. A different approach which could have been an interesting twist would have been to have a 17 day countdown rather than counting up. It would have helped build suspense in reference to the murder story line especially, wondering what might happen when we get to that final day countdown of day 0. And then once it was all over we could have a final chapter entitled day 1, which could symbolize the true beginning of Rick and Jenna starting out on an official relationship with each other once the drama of the novel had concluded. Just a thought!

GrotesqueSimplisticLice-max-1mb

Missed Connection

When all was said and done I feel like we missed a bit of an emotional connection with our lead characters. Rick always remains a bit of a quiet, surly dude who only shows minor glimpses of sensitivity when interacting with his son, and some romantic sentiments towards the end with Jenna. I mean, it’s kind of understandable he’d be in a sour mood with his entire town suspecting him of multiple murders and everything. However, the conversations where Rick and Jenna get to know each other are almost too reminiscent of an interview with rapid fire questions where they want to know as many details about each other in as short amount of time as possible. A few more scenes shining a light on the softer, emotional side of Rick’s personality would have been great.

Eduardo_verastegui

As for Jenna, she was also a bit of a strange duck. Half the time I couldn’t tell if she wanted to go off on a tirade against Rick for having the gall to show up to work on her house when she wasn’t ready for him, or if she wanted to push him up against a wall to ravish him. It was a weird back and forth that continues throughout the story where she’ll ask a very point blank question as though she’s accusing him of something, but then brush it off with a kiss. And then the most bizarre aspect of all is when she does decide to take the next step in their relationship. To quote Rick, “You didn’t like me at all until you thought I killed her.” Seems kind of…bizarre, no? However the more I thought about it the more I read into what I’m hoping is a more romantic way of looking at the situation.

Bedroom (2)

Since meeting Rick, Jenna hasn’t really known what to make of him, but he’s constantly on her mind. And then the unthinkable happens, a gruesome murder in their small town, and Rick is the primary suspect among the town gossips. This is when Jenna is forced to decide whether or not she can place her trust in this man she barely knows. She has no reason to trust him, especially considering everyone around her is convinced of his guilt. And yet, her gut is telling her he’s someone she can trust. I can see the romance there. Right? The only hiccup here is that even after they sleep together it seems like she does still contemplate whether or not he’s guilty. Hmmm, maybe the threat of danger is something she finds titillating?

Capture

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

Series: Stand-alone

Final Impressions: I think Rick’s son, Danny, was my favorite character of the book, and I wish he’d been featured a bit more prominently. Overall I think we may have had one too many story lines going on here. From the burgeoning romance between Jenna and Rick, to the murder of a visiting tourist, to the Gulf War starting. We needed to either drop the war aspect and have the murder featured more prominently to build suspense, or we should have had more of a military focus on the war, with soldiers going off to war or something. Lastly, a few more revealing emotional moments between our lead characters could have helped us warm up to their characters earlier on.

Smut Level: Rick and Jenna go for a few roles in the bedroom, but the scenes are pretty clean.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. The Wild Rose Press, Inc. 132 Pages.

Burning Fields by Alli Sinclair

I had a feeling in just the first chapter alone this was gonna be one emotional journey!

What’s it About? 

41kPhBNPIIL

1948: Change has come to every corner of the globe—and Rosie Stanton, returning home to northern Queensland after serving the war effort in Brisbane, plans to rescue her family’s foundering sugarcane farm with her unstoppable can-do spirit. Coming up against her father’s old-world views, a farm worker undermining her success, and constant reminders of Rosie’s brothers lost in the war, Rosie realizes she wants more from life and love—but at what cost?

Italian immigrant Tomas Conti arrives at a neighboring farm, and sparks fly as Rosie draws close to this enigmatic newcomer. When an enemy appears with evidence of Tomas’s shocking past, long-held wartime hatreds rekindle . . . and an astounding family secret sets Rosie’s world ablaze. At the dawn of a new era, Rosie must make her own destiny amid the ashes of yesterday—by following her heart.

First Impression

Rosie might be a young Australian woman returning home to her small town after the end of WWII, but I was surprised to find how much I could identify with this lady. Sure, I might be from a small town in the Midwest of the United States, but I could relate to the reverse culture clash involved of returning home after living in a big city for so long. Rosie encounters this friction of facing nostalgia and the happy memories of childhood with the reality of looking at her home from an adult’s perspective. It’s such a bizarre juxtaposition to have to face as an adult. Home is supposed to wrap you up in warmth and comfort, but sometimes you get cold moments instead, with a wall being put up in place of a welcoming embrace. This book tackles some serious issues and discussions revolving around racism, women’s rights, and the status of immigrants. It makes us realize that in some respects we’ve come a long way, and yet at the same time it’s so sad to see how much has remained the same. Honestly, this book could have been set in the present day based on some of the conversations which took place. I had to keep reminding myself that we were dealing with a post-WWII setting. Such an eye-opening comparison!

gettyimages-123525797-612x612

Welcome Home

A main discussion point of this novel revolved around the topic of war, specifically the effects of men returning home after risking their lives to protect the safety of their country. PTSD of the returning soldiers isn’t the only issue highlighted though. We also see the impact of women having to return to their “proper place” in the home after getting a glimpse of independence. There’s also a spotlight shone on societal issues involving all of the different migrant communities who fled their homeland to escape the terrors of war, and in some instances had to leave a home behind which no longer existed because of the mighty wrath of war. In my opinion, all of these sensitive topics were described and detailed to perfection. You feel for these characters, and understand their frustrations in life, as well as the difficulties they face in moving on from such a tumultuous and unforgiving war.

monuments-men-palermo

Light Shining Through the Darkness

There are some heavy subjects which are discussed in this book, and yet a guiding light through it all is the blossoming romance between our home girl Rosie, and a mysterious Italian immigrant named Tomas. To be frank, it was sort of the one component of the story which was somewhat lacking for me. There’s definitely a coy flirtation going on between them, but Tomas is obviously a troubled man dealing with the atrocities he’s witnessed in war. Sometimes this difficult past causes him to lash out at Rosie when she tries to learn more about what happened to him back in Italy. Now, it’s 100% understandable that he would want to try and forget the past rather than dredge up the painful memories of all the tragedy he’s seen firsthand. But then he has the tendency to push Rosie away, only to pursue her again, or she’ll come after him to make some headway, but then he’ll push her away again.

bova_2

It’s kind of a grueling back and forth that, while undeniably realistic of many post-war relationships of the time, made me feel kind of bad for Rosie. They also both have the somewhat annoying tendency to start sentences or thoughts without finishing them. It happens a LOT. I lost track of the number of times they would be in the middle of a deep discussion, and just when we’re about to make some headway in their connection one or both of them would utter, “Never mind, it doesn’t matter”. Yes it bloody well does!! Tomas comes across as a rather moody man with a short fuse, and you can never really tell when he’s willing to open up about his past to lay all his cards on the table, versus when he’ll get testy and stalk off in a huff. It speaks to Rosie’s headstrong and persistent nature to not give up on him, but I wish we could have seen just a few more sparks of lightness and tenderness from Tomas.

Australia_704_1

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

Series: Personally I’d love to see a sequel to this novel which shows us what Rosie and Tomas are up to a few years down the line.

Final Impressions: A must read for your next book club. Definitely some interesting discussion points on society which still resonate today. While it’s kind of sad to see that some of these issues are still present, it shows us a light at the end of the tunnel, and how people can overcome their differences if they’re just willing to open up their eyes to see the good in other people. For me the standout feature of this book was really the societal issues discussed in terms of PTSD, racism, sexism, and the stigma of migrant communities. Tomas and Rosie’s romance was nice, but in my opinion it took a back seat to these other topics.

Smut Level: Some light touches, kisses, and one fade-away sex scene that we don’t get any detail to. Overall I’d say it’s a clean read!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. Lyrical Press. 275 Pages.