Love Hacked by Penny Reid

Sadly, I’d have to say that this was my least favorite Knitting in the City book to date. After the second novel in the series I was really hoping that we were headed towards an upward trajectory of awesomeness, but after a while I was just so frustrated with the plot of this book that I couldn’t wait for it to end hacked

In the 2nd Knitting in the City novel we were briefly introduced to Sandra Fielding, who seemed like a free-spirit, so I was really interested to read her story in the series. The premise of the novel also caught my eye, considering that Sandra probably has a worse first-date record than I do. Because she is a therapist, the majority of her dates find her remarkably easy to talk to, eventually revealing their sad tales of woe and ending the date in tears. On the guy’s side anyway. Sandra is extremely frustrated that she may never find the perfect guy. Enter Alex, hot waiter extraordinaire.

At first, Alex seems like the perfect order of tall, dark and yummy. I mean, his voice is dripping with sex, and he works in an Indian restaurant, which means he would constantly smell like butter chicken. Um, sign me up please! The two love birds also engage in some steamy kissing, and Alex is extremely possessive, which is definitely a point in his favor. Ok, so he may be on parole for committing a federal crime, be a bit paranoid about the NSA following him, and have slightly stalkerish tendencies. He’s also a virgin. So…yeah.

This book had so much potential, but unfortunately the side-plot annoyed me yet again, and this time to unprecedented levels of frustration. In the beginning, Alex seemed enticingly mysterious, but then he just got more mysterious, and extremely secretive, and I just wanted to sit on his head while he confessed to what the hell was going on! All of the build-up makes it seem like his secret is the be all end all of secrets. Did he kill somebody? Is he really a woman? Is he smarter than a 5th grader? Spoiler alert: the secret is that he invented bitcoins. I’ve got some serious eye-roll happening here.

I’m going to sound like an idiotic, simplistic, Midwestern hick here (hey, it’s who I am), but who the hell cares if Alex invented bitcoins?! First of all, I don’t think I’m the only person here who doesn’t completely understand the purpose or function of bitcoins. I mean, heck, Sandra couldn’t wrap her head around it either, and she’s a smart cookie. Therefore, why the hell would you have the plot of your novel center around such a complex idea when most people reading the book probably won’t grasp the full impact of such a big reveal? Secondly, the way that Sandra decides to avoid having to testify against Alex was so unbelievably stupid I almost threw my Kindle against the wall. But then I realized how expensive such a move would be and decided against it. Ok, so Sandra discovers that Alex invented bitcoins, and he is fearful that the NSA would force her to testify against him. Why they would bring him to trial for simply having invented bitcoins is completely beyond me, but I just don’t care at this point. The only way to avoid having her testify is if she were his priest, his therapist, or his wife. So what does she do? She decides to marry him. Ummmm, you are a therapist, and you completely bypass that line of thinking?! GRRR!!!

And now for the main reason I didn’t really care for this book. Where the heck were my knitting ladies?! They were practically absent from the whole novel, and only engaged in the tiniest bit of shenanigans at the end of the book. Come on! Throw me a freakin’ bone here. If you are going to delay the main characters from having sex until the last half of the novel (yet again!), at least let me enjoy the hilariousness of the knitting group. If I don’t have that I have nothing 😦

Series: Knitting in the City, book 3

Should you read it? If you understand the intricacies of bitcoins, feel free to give it a go.

Should you try to explain to me the intricacies of bitcoins? For the love of all that is holy in this world, please don’t.

Smut Level: Delayed gratification is a theme in this series. You don’t see any lovin’ until after the half-way point, and even then it isn’t too smutty.

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Friends Without Benefits by Penny Reid

Friends without benefits my ass! These two have crossed the line from friend zone into sexual innuendo lane in about 2.5 seconds. Not that I blame them, mind you. With the amount of sexual tension simmering between these two they didn’t really have a choice in the matter.friends

As the second book in the Knitting in the City series, I must say I enjoyed this book much better than the first one. It was more endearing and romantic, as the two main characters have a longer history than the couple we met in the first novel. Elizabeth Finney hated Nico Manganiello when she was little, but after the death of her high school sweetheart, she finds brief solace in the arms of her nemesis. She then turns away from him, and never looks back. Until he comes barreling back into her life, full throttle.

At first, I was worried about where this novel was going, as the reason our two love birds are reunited is because Nico’s extremely ill niece is eligible for a clinical trial at Elizabeth’s hospital, and demands that Elizabeth be the one to carry out the trial. I immediately thought, uh-oh, we are going to be dealing with a heart-breaking tale of illness, probably ending in a young girl’s eventual death that will make me go through a box of Kleenex with every turn of the page. What can I say? I’m a pessimist. Therefore, I must personally thank Penny Reid for choosing to avoid that plot path, and instead have Nico’s niece solely travel on the road to recovery. I bow my head to you madam.

This book is just as funny as the first in the series, but the main thing which sets it apart in a positive light is the relationship between Elizabeth and Nico, and how it evolved from their time as enemies in childhood, to a brief friendship which quickly heats up to horizontal mambo partners. What Elizabeth never realized as a child was how much Nico cared for her, and because she was already involved with someone else he chose to bully her out of frustration. And Nico comes to learn that what he believed to be light teasing had a lasting impact on Elizabeth, and he has to show her how much he still loves her. And good God does he show her. Multiple times. In an elevator. Dramatic sigh.

There are other elements from the first novel which carry over into this one, aside from the comedy of it. Firstly, we again get to see our lovely knitting ladies, who just seem so unbelievably wise I want to have coffee with them all. They also make me want to learn how to knit, which is kind of weird. Another element present in this novel which is just as frustrating as it was in the first is the fact that we have to wait a rather long time before our love birds become friends with benefits, if you know what I mean. But because I knew it happened in the first one I was sort of expecting it here, so it wasn’t as terrible. There were also plenty of meaningful stares and half-naked apple fritter baking to keep me satisfied throughout.

There was also another element present in this novel which I didn’t particularly care for, which I believe was much more pronounced in this book than in the first one. For some reason, I find that the female lead character is always portrayed as extremely naive. I understand the whole “blinded by love” idea, but “idiocy by infatuation” is something I don’t particularly condone. For example, Nico makes an unbelievably romantic mixed CD for Elizabeth (so 80’s) which distinctly expresses his love for her since they were children, and how he wants to be with her always. However, his clear message of love completely flies over her head, and it isn’t until the knitting ladies tell her to listen closely to the lyrics that it hits her like a ton of bricks. This woman is a doctor for crying out loud, surely she can’t be that stupid! You’re telling me she listened to that CD over 16 times, and just thought Nico was trying to broaden her musical horizons?! Puh-lease!

That being said, overall I really thought this book was a fun read. It successfully blended a romantic story with a suspenseful side plot that I think the first novel failed to do in a convincing way. The ending was ridiculously silly, but it will make you giggle, and is definitely toe-curl inducing.

Series: Knitting in the City, book 2

Should you read it? Sure! If you choose to avoid this series you aren’t really missing much, but it’s a fun beach read.

Smut Level? There is a titillating elevator sex scene, which is just delightful, but you have to wait quite a while for it. But you have to love their mutual desperation to get each other out of their clothes as quickly as possible. Tee hee.

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Neanderthal Seeks Human by Penny Reid

If you want people sitting next to you on the beach to stare at you like a weirdo because you keep laughing out loud with no warning, then by all means, read this book in public. I did, and I think my sister menacingly glared at me about 50 times. But I just couldn’t help it, this book is freakin’ hilarious. neanderthalI also have to give a shout out to the cover art, which is just adorable.

Janie is, how should I put this…a little strange. She knows an inordinate amount of detail about the most trivial topics, and can’t help but spout useless factoids whenever she’s nervous. When I’m nervous my face gets hot, my voice shakes, and my hands sweat like a whore in church. What can I say? We’re all different.

Janie just lost her job, her boyfriend and her apartment, all in the same day. Yikes! And I think it’s a rough day when my internet connection is slow. Anyway, who should come to her rescue, but the hot security guard she’s been lusting after forever, Quinn. Let’s pause for a moment. The guy’s name is Quinn, you just know he’s gonna be sexy as hell. Okay, unpause. Despite the fact that Janie acts like a nervous wreck whenever Quinn so much as looks at her, he can’t help but be smitten with her and offer her what seems like a dream job. What ensues is a frustrating sexual chemistry which isn’t resolved until the last half of the book, but it involves some nice office desk sex, so I won’t complain.

Overall, I really did enjoy this book, but there were two things I didn’t really care for. Number 1: Janie is unbelievably naive. I understand that she doesn’t do well in social interactions (she considers herself to be the neanderthal in her relationship with Quinn), and might not understand all of the subtle nuances in human behavior, but come on! The guy offers you a job, has a driver chauffeur you around in a fancy car, and you think he’s just a security guard? Open your eyes sweetie, and see the sexy hunk of burning millionaire standing right in front of you! The dude is loaded, and owns the company you now work for. I think I figured that out in about the first 20 pages.

The second thing I really didn’t care for was the storyline surrounding Janie’s sister. Apparently, she’s a bit of a criminal, and attracts the wrong kind of attention, like from other criminals. After a few cases of mistaken identity, a bunch of thugs assume that Janie is actually her sister, and try to take her with them to meet their crime boss. Quinn eventually gets involved because he somehow knows the criminals involved. I don’t know, it was kind of confusing. Anyway, I understand that the author was trying to interject some mystery and intrigue into the plot, but it didn’t really come together all that well, and simply detracted from the humorously awkward relationship between Janie and Quinn.

Now for the absolute best part of the novel. OMG the knitting group ladies! I never would have guessed that a knitting group could exist in this day and age consisting of women who were under the age of 60, but this novel has it. Each woman in the group is a riot, and provides for the majority of the comedy throughout the novel. You need advice on love? You go to the knitting group. They might get intoxicated on a fairly regular occasion and continue to knit sweaters while you recount your story of love, but they’ve got your back. There was one scene in particular which had me cracking up. It’s actually the climax of the book where thugs break into Janie’s home during one of her knitting groups, and attempt to kidnap her. Quinn just happens to be there with a gun, and the bad guys have guns as well. Just when you think a shootout is going to ensue, the ladies of the knitting group go all bad ass with the criminals; jumping on them, stabbing them with knitting needles, etc. When you mess with one in the knitting circle you mess with all of them!

Each book in this series revolves around a different lady in the knitting group, and I honestly can’t wait to read them all. Are they the best novels ever? Nah, not really. Also, just a warning: the author loves to drag out the sexual suspense to the breaking point, but when it finally does snap you can expect some juicy details. Nothing too graphic or explicit, but it’s pretty decent.

Series: Knitting in the City, book 1

Should you read it? Sure, why not? It’s not too long, and will make you giggle.

Smut Level: There is a lot more sexual tension than sexual action in this one. If you’re in the mood for something that’s sexy right away, then this definitely isn’t it. It’s more of a slow build.

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