Taming the Troublemaker by Kadie Scott

“You may always win, Autry Hill, but I never lose.” A woman willing to stand up to ladies-man Autry? Hot damn! 

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Autry Hill may be a cowboy to his boots, but he’s also gained quite the reputation as a charmer and playboy. His parents aren’t sure he’s ready to take the reins of the family’s prosperous Texas ranch, so they set up a challenge: No women or scandal for the next six months and the ranch house he grew up in is his. Easy peasy, Autry thinks. He’s already tired of late nights and romancing, until elementary school teacher Beth Cooper happens to cross his path. Suddenly Autry is losing his heart, his mind, and what’s left of his reputation.

Good girl teacher Beth Cooper is far too practical to fall for Autry Hill, even if she had a crush on him way back when. The man’s been breaking hearts since middle school. But when he becomes her unexpected champion and then they work together to help one of Beth’s troubled students who’s about to lose everything, she sees a different side of Autry – serious, compassionate, determined and dedicated. And that Autry is nearly impossible to resist. Does she need to?

First Impressions

Normally in a romance novel we see how a bet can bring two people together. This one throws a rather unique twist on the whole betting trope in that we see how it actually keeps our two lead characters apart in terms of not having sex. Autry has a bet going with a family member that he won’t get into any sexual shenanigans for the next six months, and lo and behold this bet is actually made with his father. Not a drinking buddy or frat brother, which is another aspect we usually expect to see with this theme. Well, not for this ranching family! Autry needs to prove to his mother and father that he’s worthy of inheriting the family homestead after his parents downsize to a smaller piece of property.

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Aside from his parents and siblings, it’s probably the one thing that Autry is most passionate about in this entire world. He’s always been a bit of a player about town, but for the last few months he’s taken up a personal vendetta to clean up his act a bit. Something which his family and the other townsfolk of this small corner of Texas don’t seem to have noticed. The prospect of spending a few more months without a random woman in his life doesn’t phase Autry in the least. Until a quiet local schoolteacher flips his entire world upside down that is. Now, how could you not be intrigued to give this romance a read?

Staying Out of the Bedroom

For those of you who know me, you’ll know there’s one element I usually like to see in all of my romance reads, and that’s some hanky panky between the lead characters before the halfway point. They say patience is a virtue, and it’s a quality I have never possessed, and most likely never will. I usually hate when a physical connection seems forcibly delayed, so when I learned Autry has this bet going with his father which would prevent him and Beth from doing the horizontal mambo, I was understandably concerned. Lemme tell you, I was shocked the author managed to pull me into this story so fully that I didn’t even notice or care that it was taking a while for Beth and Autry to fall into bed together.

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A big part of that probably had to do with the fact that just because they can’t have sex doesn’t mean they can’t do…other things, and my goodness do they do a LOT! But I still think the main part of this was the fact that I was so drawn in by these characters, their connection, their growth as individuals, that sex was the last thing on my mind. Don’t get me wrong, I love a sexual element in a romance, but the emotional connection and passion between these characters was so strong that I don’t think I would have minded at all if we’d gone the entire novel without seeing them have sex at all. Don’t worry though, they do, and it was everything I was hoping it would be! It was still refreshing though to see these two build a relationship that had such a strong foundation that didn’t rely on a physical component.

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Big Brother

The true beauty of this novel lay not in the burgeoning sexual relationship between Autry and Beth, but rather in the familial relationship Beth and the entire Hill family were building with a young lonely boy named Dylan. A troubled foster child who seems closed off from the rest of the world, Beth and Autry are both determined to show him all the love he’s worthy of. Hands down this was my favorite feature of the novel. Dylan’s reluctance to trust others, or show hope in the possibility of someone else willingly choosing to care for him was heartbreaking, yet also the most truthful part of the book. We feel for this boy just as much as Beth and Autry do, and you can’t help but become entranced with the way that we see him open up from his shell to simply have fun as Autry spends more time with him as a positive male influence.

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Striking a perfect balance between the love story in a romance novel, and any additional aspect involving children is often difficult, but this author manages to do it with a steady hand. It adds depth and struggle to the developing relationship between Beth and Autry, yet doesn’t overpower it either. If anything, my only wish would be that Beth was featured a bit more prominently in the scenes which ameliorated the connection with Dylan. It’s clear at the start of the novel that Dylan and Beth have already established a sense of trust with each other, so the book itself focuses more attention on Autry working his way into Dylan’s life. I think just one more scene elaborating on this already defined relationship between Beth and Dylan would have been especially enlightening.

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The Hill Family

Throughout this entire series we have seen how close the Hill family is as a unit, and Autry’s connection with them is just as strong. However, his past “sins” have apparently put a kind of black mark on their opinion of him. They still love him, but it’s clear throughout their conversations with Autry that they seem surprised any time he demonstrates a selfless act. Needless to say, Autry becomes increasingly upset over his family’s seemingly less than positive opinion of him, and it’s a type of underlying animosity which grows and grows throughout the book. Sure, he’s a bit of a flirt, but it’s clear to us as the audience that every action and feeling he’s ever had towards Beth, Dylan, or his family has been filled with nothing but affection and love.

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There was one scene in particular that I feel deserves mention where Autry has seemingly reached the breaking point in listening to his family’s underhanded sarcastic comments about him. He lashes out at his brother, who was surprised Autry wanted to spend more time with Dylan instead of going out drinking. It was such a beautiful and emotional scene you can practically feel the tension emanating off the page. Personally I think it was a kind of defense mechanism, in that his devotion to Dylan was being called into question by those who are supposed to know him best. Autry exclaims in frustration and anger that his family apparently seems to think so little of him, and he’s practically shaking with outrage. He’s a good person with a good heart, and he never thought he’d have to prove that to his family. It’s a quick scene, but for me it’s the one I’ll probably remember the most from this book. It sort of encapsulates Autry’s desire to be known as a good man, and for his past indiscretions to no longer characterize the man he is today.

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

Series: The Hills of Texas, book 3. I didn’t think it was possible, but this series might just be getting better with every new addition we see of a Hill family member. Can’t wait to see what comes next!

Final Impressions: If I had to find one negative of this book it would be that I don’t immediately have book 4 in my hands to start right now! We’ve come to know and love this Hill family, yet I’m surprised that with each new novel in the series we see a slew of different personalities from those we’ve seen in the previous book. Sure, we see some familiar faces from book to book, but it never feels like we’re seeing the same story, or the same people, on repeat. I especially loved the story-line we see here involving Dylan, as it allows us to see a different aspect of how someone can become enveloped into the Hill family. We hold our breath as we question how Beth and Autry’s story might evolve, from their own romance, to whether or not they’ll be able to save Dylan from getting lost in the foster system.

Smut Level: Sure, there might be a no-sex bet in place, but thankfully Autry is willing to push the boundaries as far as what that might include. Some things which aren’t off the table include kissing, licking, sucking, tugging and even a bit of stroking. And they’re on the kitchen table for that matter!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Tule Publishing. 207 Pages.

 

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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.

 

The Attraction Equation by Kadie Scott

Alright folks, it’s official, I am totally in love with this series, and all of the characters. Not to mention the iddy biddy widdle puppies!

What’s it About? 

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FBI agent Max Carter lives his life by a strict set of rules–rules that don’t allow for distraction, deviation…or a relationship. But tell that to his matchmaking mama. To avoid yet another set-up, he announces he has a girlfriend. And now has to produce said girlfriend at Christmas dinner. Maybe Santa has a suitable actress in that red bag of his…

Gina Castillo is about to break her building’s iron-clad “no pets” policy to give her little brother the perfect Christmas gift–a dog. Too bad Max, the most inconveniently sexy tenant in the building, catchers her red handed. Gina expects to be evicted, but instead finds herself blackmailed into playing the role of his girlfriend. Two lies plus one dog should equal a hot mess of a holiday, but attraction and Christmas magic might just defy the rules…

First Impressions

I can’t help it guys and gals, I love, love, LOVED this book! Let me put it to you this way, I absolutely hate New York City (psychotic, I know), and yet if it were in any way possible I would want to live in this world, and have a glass of wine with all of the characters. Maybe two glasses. Ok…a bottle. In my opinion, this is the perfect example of a quintessential beach read. Although, considering this novel takes place at Christmas time I guess it’s technically a better snowy cabin read. It’s quick, cute, funny, sexy and endearing. You can’t ask for much else. And did I mention there’s a puppy?!?! Squeeee!!! This was such a fun read I found it hard to put down. Seriously, the number of times I considered going in late to work with the excuse of “sorry, I was stuck reading a good book”, was too many times to count. Actually, come to think of it, it happened approximately three times, as I finished it in just as many days.

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A Colorful Fake Girlfriend

So let’s start with the premise of the novel; we’re dealing with a fake girlfriend tale here. When Max discovers Gina is keeping a puppy in a no-pets allowed apartment building, he blackmails her into being his fake lady love over the holidays to keep his matchmaking mother off his back. Honestly, fake girlfriend romance novels can really be hit or miss. Let’s face it, we all know how they’re going to end. Playboy guy will fall for said fake girlfriend, and before you know it their phony relationship isn’t so fake after all. But here was the absolute brilliance of this book; Gina fully acknowledges the ridiculousness of the situation.

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Gina even warns Max that according to every romance novel ever, if she accepts this ploy they’re bound to fall in love. In my view, the best sure-fire way to make a cheesy story line work is to highlight the fact that it’s cheesy. Don’t hide it people, revel in it! The other positive aspect of how this rather common romance novel trope was handled was the fact that it doesn’t take long at all before both Max and Gina admit they’re not only attracted to each other, but also that their feelings extend beyond the physical. Their continued hesitation to transition from fake to real deals with the mutual assumption that they’re too different to ever fit into the other person’s life. It adds another layer of depth to the traditional fake GF story line.

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Obsessively in Love

Now while I really enjoyed the approach to the blackmail story, the absolute standout feature of this novel was the incorporation of Max’s OCD. On the surface, that actually sounds really insensitive, and makes me sound like a weirdo, so let me delve deeper into why I enjoyed this aspect so much. I have read many a romance novel featuring a lead with OCD, and many of them default into treating it like a kind of humorous character trait. Only meeting the love of his life does the male lead magically learn to unwind and not be so obsessive. This novel sort of starts off that way in that Gina’s carefree and colorful nature is at odds with Max’s structured life, and their little arguments over it are kind of silly and quirky.

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However, after a while we see how deep Max’s OCD runs, and how it impacts his relationship with not only Gina, but his family as well. He knows that his need for organized structure is on the unhealthy side, and he feels Gina deserves better than that. He doesn’t want his obsessive nature to squash her zest for life, so he draws away from her. But the most heartbreaking moment had to be when Max finally confronts his family for all their teasing about his obsessive habits. He insists that he doesn’t need fixing, and that he’s not some sideshow to be laughed at. During this passionate scene there is one person who fully understands what he’s saying and is willing to stand by his side: Gina. That is why when push comes to shove this book is so much more than a simple fake girlfriend tale.

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

Series: Love Undercover, book 2. Yeah so I need an ETA on book 3 like, yesterday. Also, be sure to check out book 1 in the series, The Wrong Kind of Compatible, on sale for $0.99 on Amazon from Feb 12-16!

Should you read it? This is one of those few moments where I think I like the sequel even more than the first book in a series. And I liked book 1! I understand how fake girlfriend novels aren’t necessarily for everyone, and this one does have quite a few moments of cheesiness, but I definitely think it’s one worth reading. It starts off adorably silly, but as it goes on we uncover a surprisingly sensitive and vulnerable side of Max that is so heartfelt I couldn’t help but fall in love. As for Gina, she pushes Max’s buttons, but also brings out the best in him. Again, love, love, LOVE!!

Smut Level: Hot damn! I was wondering at first if this was going to stay mainly on the cutesy chick-lit side, but this baby is brimming with passion. We’ve got some action up against a door, in bed, and even a late night naked workout in the apartment building gym. Yummy!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Entangled: Lovestruck. 197 Pages.

The Wrong Kind of Compatible by Kadie Scott

The verbal sparring matches between the two main characters in this novel is just the most delicious kind of foreplay. You simply want one of them to push the other up against a wall and start pulling clothes off. Which…they actually do at one point come to think of it.

What’s it About?

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Data analyst Cassie Howard may be brilliant (and, okay, a little awkward), but she’s worked hard to get where she is. She definitely doesn’t need some sexy new analyst coming in and taking credit for her work. Or the inappropriate thoughts that keep popping out of her mouth she’d rather he not hear. For undercover FBI agent Drew Kerrigan, computers have always made more sense than people, but he’d better develop some slick social skills in a hurry if he’s going to win over the too-tantalizing-for-his-sanity Cassie. Hacking their systems was easy. Now he’s just got to hack the one person in the company most likely to see through his ruse…

First Impressions

This novel is fully representative of what some would call a “geek” or “nerd” romance. Basically, our two main leads are extremely intelligent, and their love of Star Wars is mentioned at least once. Although, instead of calling it a geek romance maybe we should just call it a romance between geniuses, because these two are wicked smart. Both are tech gurus, but Drew is actually an undercover FBI agent infiltrating the company Cassie works for. Drew quickly starts to develop feelings for Cassie, which poses a problem as she is also his #1 suspect. On top of that, Drew is not the best at the whole undercover thing, which was adorably cute. His somewhat inept sleuthing starts to draw the attention of Cassie herself, and she is suspicious of his actions. She begins to do some sleuthing of her own, and goes from being the one watched to being the watcher herself.

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That’s What She Said

There are two main things which draw Cassie and Drew together: their intelligence and their tendency to speak through blatant sexual innuendos. One particular quote that I think captures the first sentiment to perfection is, “She was used to out thinking every person around her, and so was he.” They quickly enter into a battle of wits and discover that in addition to appearance, they are also attracted to each other’s brains and intelligence. Love it!

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And as for the sexual innuendos, good God they were utterly delightful, and probably my favorite aspect of the novel. From the classic, “I could go all night” to the tech savvy “should I bring my dongle?” Then of course there was my particular favorite, “You’re turning my floppy into a hard drive.” I’ve seriously got to remember that one. Nerdy? Yes, but also sweet and endearing, as Cassie and Drew can just be themselves with each other. Their relationship has a basis which goes beyond the physical.

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Son of a Bee Monkey!

Another one of my favorite features of this novel was Cassie’s rather unique swear-word repertoire. I always thought I had some pretty unique outbursts, but Cassie simply put me to shame. However, I took notes, and I plan to adopt some of these classics into my own lexicon, including: hopping toadstools, Gorgonzola on a stick, fiddlesticks, and fahrvergnügen.

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

Series: Love Undercover, book 1. I’ll definitely be reading the next book featuring one of Drew’s FBI co-workers, who just might be even more socially awkward than Drew and Cassie combined. Can’t wait!

Should you read it? A cute and funny read! The first chapter starts off with quite a bit of inner dialogue and mutual staring going on, with plenty of heated moments and heavy breathing. Overall though, I loved the connection between Drew and Cassie. They are both equally socially inept, yet can just be themselves with each other. I also enjoyed the investigative story line, which added an interesting twist to their relationship. As all evidence increasingly points to Cassie being guilty, Drew doesn’t know how to deal with this as his feelings for her also increase. Juicy!

Smut Level: Who knew office cubicles could be the prime location for ultimate seduction?

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Entangled Publishing. 270 Pages