The Beautician and the Billionaire by Evelyn Aster

I have lost track of the number of modern versions of Beauty and the Beast that I’ve read in the last few years, but I haven’t managed to get sick of them yet! I just love seeing how various authors will interpret the classic tale, and create their own beauty and beast.

What’s it About? 

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This is the complete romance of Conor and Charisse! Charisse is still reeling from a miscarriage that tore her relationship apart last year. Her only focus is making her beauty salon a hit in Manhattan. Conor is still recovering from the death of his wife three years ago. He spends his days orchestrating corporate takeovers. Charisse and Conor want nothing more than to be left alone. But when Charisse’s dad loses three of Conor’s ships at sea, negotiations begin that land Charisse under contract to Conor.

First Impressions

One of the unique aspects of this novel is that it was actually released as a serial. That being said, in my opinion the evolving complexity of the main characters was the standout feature. I felt like my opinions of them were constantly changing, and that my first impressions didn’t always hold true. At first, you think Charisse’s dad is a heartless prick who uses his daughters for his own personal advantage. Eventually you come to see how he’s always treasured them above all else. As for her sister, Marie, I initially thought she was a ditzy socialite who only wanted to sleep her way to the top. However, in the end, I think she may have been the most intelligent character of the bunch. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a group of characters that have kept me on my toes so much!

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Our Beautiful Beast

Something I love about any Beauty and the Beast retelling is the interpretation of the Beast, and Conor sure is a humdinger. Without question, Conor could definitely play a beast. At times I believe the term “rat bastard” came to mind. He’s not afraid to push Charisse to her ultimate limits, and he’ll do anything to have her. Even if it involves pushing her away.

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Our Beauty, Charisse, manages to do the impossible by getting Conor to open up. Both characters are dealing with complicated issues from their pasts, and they struggle to deal with it on their own. It’s only when they come together, and support each other, that they can become strong enough to move on towards a brighter future as a couple.

Evolving Contracts

At times I did sort of feel like the story went in too many different directions. Conor sets up deals and contracts with seemingly every character in the book. These deals were altered, dropped entirely, or sometimes tweaked slightly that it was kind of hard to keep track. I must say though, we have a stellar ending on our hands here! There is one fabulous climactic scene at the end which highlights how far Charisse has come, and grown since being with Conor. I wanted to do a fist bump I was so proud.

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

Series: Originally produced as a serial, you can now buy all of the parts in one convenient package.

Should you read it? This novel definitely starts with a bang, and the ending was so unbelievably satisfying on so many levels you gotta love it. There were a few parts in between that dragged a bit, and it’s important to remember that Conor can be the ultimate beast every once in a while. It all comes together in the ending though!

Smut Level: These two make passionate love in a swing. Not of the BDSM variety! It’s sort of a giant bed swing in his penthouse garden. That being said, they can get pretty raunchy when they want to. At one point they even make out in her salon chair. Looooove!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $9.99 Kindle Price. Hot Java. 413 Pages.

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Thankful Hearts by Evelyn Aster

I seriously need to find the Holiday Cafe featured in this series. They have a latte that tastes like apple pie! I want! I need!!

What’s it About? 

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All Stacy wants is the perfect Thanksgiving at her new house. And after a year without sex, a boyfriend would be the whipped cream on the apple pie.

All Hudson wants is the perfect Thanksgiving after his third Army tour in Afghanistan. But he arrives home to find his brother engaged to his girlfriend. He takes off on his Triumph motorcycle to drive 700 miles to the only place he can think of: the Holiday Cafe.

Stacy and Hudson knew each other on Words with Friends, but when he arrives to meet Stacy and share an Apple Pie Latte with a shot of toffee their relationship goes from platonic to romantic faster than his Triumph accelerator.

First Impressions

Stacy is more than happy to provide Hudson with a proper homecoming when he seeks her out after returning from Afghanistan. They’re quick to have some hot and passionate sex (on a motorcycle no less), and I’ll admit I was kind of wondering where the story could go from there. Turns out, everywhere! There are so many emotions and plot lines that connect so unbelievably well.

One thing’s for sure with this book, you can’t possibly get bored with it. There’s always something happening, from Hudson acclimatizing to civilian life, Stacy preparing her house for Thanksgiving, a gang member harassing her employees, and even discovering a long-lost grandfather. On top of all that, we also have some hotter than hot and descriptive sex scenes between Stacy and Hudson. Now that’s what I like to think of as the whipped cream on my apple pie!

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A Difficult Subject

The romance between Stacy and Hudson is so sweet, yet also surrounded by drama as they both try to cope with Hudson’s PTSD. It’s a difficult, not to mention sensitive, subject matter to deal with, but it was obviously handled with the utmost care and expertise by the author. Aster has the ability to transport you into the novel, and make you feel like you are also sitting at the dinner table with the rest of her characters as Hudson’s PTSD comes to the forefront.

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Aster can definitely describe a sex scene in amazing detail, but when it comes to those scenes where Hudson is transported back to the battle field in his mind, shaking and sweating with anxiety? They are so gripping that I found myself holding my breath, and even bouncing my leg in anticipation.

Family

This book has its moments of tension, but it also manages to have some comedy thrown in there as well. Thanksgiving is both Hudson and Stacy’s favorite holiday, as it provides you with the important sense of family minus all of the craziness around presents that goes with Christmas. The irony of it all is that Stacy is working so hard to fix her new house up for her family, yet they kind of frustrate the crap out of her throughout the book. It’s so true to life I love it!

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Something else I loved about this book was how Stacy comes to be Hudson’s family. He is a war hero who realizes that he has signs of PTSD, and tries to draw from his inner strength to control it. Stacy is also a strong character in her own right, as she stands by Hudson in his darkest of moments. She refuses to give up on him, like the rest of his family has sort of already done, and does her best to get him the help he needs. Both are strong and loving characters to be admired.

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

Series: The Holiday Cafe, book 2. The first book was awesome; the second book is awesome; I want the next book to focus on the quirky owner of the Holiday Cafe, Chloe. But I’ll take anything I can get! If you haven’t read book 1, no worries! This one is a stand-alone, but I’d still recommend book 1 because, again, it’s awesome.

Should you read it? I can think of no better book for you to read in the month of November, what with both Veterans Day and Thanksgiving taking place. It’s sweet, sexy, intense, and focuses on the difficult yet ever important subject of PTSD.

Smut Level: We’ve got motorcycle sex, elevator sex, up against the refrigerator sex. What more could you want?

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Hot Java, Amazon Digital Services. 253 Pages.

New Release: Corporate Fire by Evelyn Aster

This book is proof that skiing is the worst sporting activity known to man! Sure, it might lead you to meet your ideal prince charming and live happily ever after, but you’ll probably have to break a bone before the universe will allow that to happen. Sorry, I’ve had an aversion to skiing ever since I went right over a cliff ledge when I was a teenager. But that’s a story for another day!

What’s it About?

corpGrace has spent her life protecting herself from emotional pain. She’s a workaholic with few friends and fewer dates. But despite her devotion to her job, she falls victim to a corporate layoff. Escaping to the slopes to ski away her troubles, she’s relentlessly pursued by the model-gorgeous ax man Royce. Finally she challenges him to a ski race: if she wins, he leaves the resort, and if he wins, she has to have dinner with him. The unexpected result of the race leaves Grace reeling in a romance that brings her walls crashing down. But when someone sets fire to her old office and casts the blame in her direction, will she be willing to trust Royce, or will she retreat to the safety of her defenses?

First Impressions

This is another delightful read from Evelyn Aster. It tells a cute, yet sensual love story with a leading man to drool after, and a female heroine to admire. Royce can be very smooth and flirtatious when he wants to be, which just makes my toes curl! There’s also some suspense built in towards the end dealing with disgruntled employees from the initial corporate firing, and it helps bring the entire story together full circle. My only complaint is that I wish Grace and Royce’s relationship had dragged on a bit longer. Our love-birds basically fall in love over the time-span of a weekend, and I think it would have been very interesting if we could have seen them try and deal with the struggles of a long-term relationship.

Our Less than Graceful Heroine

Grace felt some initial flutterings of desire during her first meeting with Royce when he fired her, but it isn’t until he cares for her following her ski accident that their relationship really smolders like a marshmallow over an open flame (now I want S’mores). I must say I thought Grace was a very different and unique character. She has OCD, as well as a long set of rules when it comes to men. She has already determined which dates it is appropriate for a man to kiss her, make love to her, set foot inside her apartment, etc. And let’s just say it’s a lot longer than your typical three date rule!

However, once Grace is laid off her entire routine is thrown off kilter, and she is tempted to re-examine her strict rules after being pursued by the gorgeous Royce. Grace is a no-nonsense character who strives for perfection, but she also has her faults. Reading about her attempts to fit love into her organized bubble, and rationalize her feelings for Royce made for an interesting read.

I Might Go Skiing for Him

OMG Royce just might be the ideal book boyfriend, minus the fact that he fires people for a living. Not only is he understanding of Grace’s quirks and eccentricities, but he doesn’t try to push her to break her rules for him. She breaks them all on her own. His desire for her is strong, and although he’s no amateur in the bedroom, he does remain respectful of her boundaries throughout the entire novel (audible sigh). The fact that he likes to cuddle on top of all this other wonderfulness might just be too much perfection for one man. At least have him drink milk from the carton or something!

joeyA Cast Makes Sex Difficult, Not Impossible

Due to Grace’s broken leg, not to mention her long list of rules, it isn’t until fairly late in the game when our love-birds finally have sex. But my God in Heaven that doesn’t mean they didn’t do other stuff in the interim. Holy shiitake mushrooms do these two know how to make good of a bad situation. Make-out sessions abound, and Grace is more than ready to please her pseudo care-taker Royce. I think she even begged him at one point to fool around. One of my favorite scenes though was when Grace did a quick Internet search to study the best ways to give a man pleasure. Let’s just say he was extremely appreciative, and more than happy to repay the favor.

damonWhat’s Next?

Author Evelyn Aster will actually be writing a guest post for my blog on Wednesday, April 29th, which will include a giveaway where you could receive a free copy of her first book in the Holiday Cafe series, Masked Hearts. Be sure to check back in on that date! A few months ago I reviewed Masked Hearts and absolutely loved it. Check out my review here. At the end of Corporate Fire there was actually a teaser chapter for the next book in the Holiday Cafe series, and I will be bouncing with anticipation until I can get my hands on that second book!

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

Series: Corporate Romance series, book 1. I’ll definitely be reading book 2. Royce has a brother!

Should you read it? Yes! It’s a quick read that’ll have you laughing, fanning yourself a few times, and sitting on the edge of your seat. It’s cheesy at times, but the guy likes to cuddle! Why wouldn’t you want to read this?

Smut Level: There are times when they claw at each other’s clothing, and do whatever it takes to bring the other pleasure, but overall it isn’t too raunchy.

Get it on Amazon:Click Here. It just came out today!! $3.99 Kindle Price. 180 Pages