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? 

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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?

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*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.

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Escaping Solitude by Sara Dobie Bauer

His exile has ended. Vampire Andrew is finally back in society with his shipwrecked sailor, Edmund. The temptations of New Orleans await them both!

What’s it About?

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Ancient vampire Andrew escaped his tropical island exile with his beloved human sailor, Edmund. They’ve now returned to Andrew’s home in nineteenth-century New Orleans and must navigate not only their developing relationship—and equally haunted pasts—but also a hungry coven of vampires Andrew used to call friends.

Desperate to stay by Andrew’s side forever, Edmund examines the impressive coven library in search of an Elder, the only creature capable of turning Edmund. Although missing for centuries, Andrew believes an Elder must still survive somewhere; they just have to find him.

The search is put on hold when Edmund receives word that his mother is ill in London, and the lovers set off on an oceanic journey surrounded by new friends and old enemies. When things go terribly wrong, Edmund’s fragile human life hangs in the balance, and an Elder must be found or Andrew will be alone forever.

First Impressions

At the end of book one I wondered if dry land would prove to be the salvation Andrew and Edmund thought it would be. They’re both thrilled to be on dry land and in society once again, but now they find themselves having to check their behavior when out on the town. They simply can’t be openly affectionate in public like they were on the seclusion of the island. Sure, they may have only had blood thirsty cannibals as companions on the island of exile, but apparently they didn’t discriminate.

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While Andrew and Edmund both lament not being able to show affection in public, they’re certainly able to locate a few places all over the city for them to indulge in their passions behind closed doors! I also questioned at the end of book one if Andrew’s blood lust would prove too great to handle once he’s back in the midst of society. While his hunger for blood does grow, we see that his tastes are for Edmund alone, and he can’t bring himself to feed on anyone but his sailor. The question is, will Edmund bare his neck to Andrew’s fangs, or will he run away in fear? Spoiler, he bares it allllllllll.

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Vanishing Cynicism

I’ll admit I was a partial cynic in book one, wondering if the love between Andrew and Edmund was authentic, or simply a matter of convenience at being the only two men alone on a deserted island together. Not including the cannibals of course. I’m happy to say that this book really did put aside those critical views of mine. At the start of this novel you can see that their sexual connection is obviously very strong. There are many scenes which focus on their physical desire for each other, as well as with other people at times. And yet, as the novel progresses we see their emotional link come to the forefront. Whereas they start off by taking advantage of all the sexual delights and brothels that New Orleans has to offer, it doesn’t take long before they admit to each other that they only want to spend the rest of their lives in each other’s arms.

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There were two moments in particular for me which highlighted that this sailor and vampire are actually in love. The first is when Andrew realizes how comfortable he is spending time with Edmund simply doing nothing. Do they enjoy exploring the city together and indulging in their sexual passions? Absofreakinlutely. But they’re also happy to just lounge around in their room for a few hours reading. They can be comfortable in silence with each other, and that in my opinion is a sign of true love. And then there is Andrew’s fear over Edmund’s safety. Sure, that might seem like a given, but we see this augmented even more for Andrew as they begin their search for a vampire Elder to turn Edmund into a vampire as well. Andrew is so afraid that something will happen to take Edmund away from him just when they’re on the brink of spending a lifetime together. It was such a humbling show of desperation and vulnerability in his love for Edmund, you can’t help but feel moved.

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

Series: Escape Trilogy, book 2. The ending of this book? Wow, just wow!! It was everything I wanted it to be and more. I can’t wait to dive into the continuation and conclusion that book 3 has in store.

Final Impression: This book was a delightful look at uncovering who Edmund and Andrew truly are when they’re off the island. At times their indulgence in all the sins that New Orleans had to offer were a bit too over the top sex heavy for me. Not something I usually say, I know. However, I did appreciate that underneath it all we could really sense the growing love and devotion these two share for each other. I also liked that we got to see more of a focus on some supplementary characters from Andrew’s vampire coven. They provide an interesting complement to our loving couple. I think I would have liked a few more moments focusing on Edmund’s research into locating an Elder, with some additional details of this unique vampire world we’re getting to know.

Smut Level: My goodness, somebody get me an ice cold hurricane punch to cool off from all this New Orleans heat! Andrew and Edmund spend a lot of time in bed together, and sometimes they even have a few guests present as well. I feel like New Orleans humidity + 4 men in one brothel room= a literal bucket of sweat.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. NineStar Press. 111 Pages.

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Chroma Crossing Chronicles: Blood Moon: Part 1 by S. Yurvati

The plot of this book is one I would categorize as “outside-of-the-box”. It’s unpredictable, and refuses to play by the rules.

What’s it About?

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Hunky pheromone-laden-man meets pretty accident-prone female—it should have been a love story with a happy ever after ending.
However, when the bored deities choose Candy and Thorne for an amusing game, the gods/goddesses put forth sets of circumstances that can tear the couple apart and wound them deep within their human souls.
City girl, Candy wanted to become a successful artist and maybe someday find a man who would make her feel loved and valued, a feeling she’d never known while growing up. However, with a name like ‘Candy Cane’, males never failed to remind her with a wink and snicker, how it sounded like she was a ‘professional’. And ‘professional’ held so many connotations, none of which she had in mind regarding relationships with men.
With her father’s sudden demise, Candy finds she’s inherited funds and a carriage house in beautiful historic Savannah. Not only can she now afford to go to SCAD, her future as an artist looks promising. Unfortunately her step-mom (and her disturbing son Todd) resides in the main house. When Candy gets her first commission for a life-sized portrait of a beautiful woman from a rather unsettling man, she soon questions what had seemed coincidental.
Candy is a modest female who has always found solace in her artwork, whereas her widowed step-mom, Cherry Ann, considers physical pleasure and money as her measures of worth. And as Candy pursues her art, Cherry Ann pursues a new lover who expands her world of sexual gratifications far beyond past parameters. Cherry Ann finds her new risqué sex life to be addictive and doesn’t recognize the danger of the man she’s invited into her life.
After surviving a couple of ‘accidents’, Candy realizes someone apparently wishes her harm. When she’s chased (by the one thing she fears most) Candy accidently, or so it seems, crosses into a new dimension, land or whatever. She finds herself in an unknown wilderness without resources, let alone a map, or GPS, plus she left her cell phone at home—again. Looking around she sees a curious terrain that is void of color, thus leaving the landscape looking like an old sepia photograph, hardly the Savannah spring day she’d left behind.
The artist in her wants to understand how primary colors could disappear to leave a land so colorless . . . so entirely beige-ish. How could such a phenomenal occurrence come about? A land without modern conveniences—almost as though she’d stepped into a time past, yet that wasn’t quite accurate either.
As Candy literally stumbles through the wild terrain, an intriguing hunter comes upon her. His presence makes her girlie parts beg to become ill behaved, and before she knows it, her hormones are arguing with her strict moral compass.

First Impression

I think we can all agree, that is one long and complicated synopsis. It’s really hard to determine based on the summary what exactly the novel is about, and I couldn’t help but feel as though this then transferred into the progression of the plot. It took a lot longer than expected for the story to actually get going. At the very beginning we get a glimpse of a god and two goddesses gathering together to wreak some havoc on two unsuspecting souls from different worlds as a twisted form of entertainment. We are then quickly introduced to our first character who is to be involved in this game of the gods, Candy.

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Unfortunately we don’t meet her counterpart, Thorne, until the book is pretty much over. In addition, after that initial set up scene we never hear from our scheming deities again, which was rather disappointing. I was hoping we’d see them come in and out throughout the book to provide commentary on how they thought their game was progressing. The fact that many of the chapters are told from the points of view of different characters, from our lead heroine Candy, to her best friend Liam, our villain Mark, Candy’s step mother Cherry Ann, Candy’s new kitten (the best POV in my opinion), and a couple of dead pirates in a cemetery, all contributed to the flow of the novel feeling rather choppy.

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Creating a Villain

The creation of a perfect villain is a tricky business. It’s almost a science, like baking a cake. You don’t want to overdo it, but you also don’t want it to fall flat. When it came to our villain, Mark, the scales tipped a bit too evil for my tastes. We get descriptions of rape, abuse, murder, and some sexual tastes that were rather sickening to read about. I definitely crossed my legs a time or two in discomfort for the abuse being reflected on the page, not to mention the fact that the sounds of a woman’s screams really get him off. Eek! I wasn’t expecting to fall in love with our villain, but I feel like sometimes we can be presented with a bad guy you love to hate. This one was so revolting I came to cringe any time we had a chapter told from his point of view. Entering that guy’s mind was less than pleasant.

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If you attempt this book here is my piece of advice, read the author’s note first. She goes into detail about how these characters are meant to be imperfect. Some crazy, others self-centered, and those who are completely deranged. While reading it I can’t say I was a fan of having so many flawed characters featured front and center, and sometimes with such disturbingly graphic detail. The author’s note definitely helps put things in perspective, as she mentions that at times you should sort of want to put the book down to take a break from some of the darker aspects of the book. While I can definitely appreciate that sentiment, I still think it could have been toned down juuuust a bit. If I put the book down there’s got to be something in there that makes me want to pick it up again. I do like to read in my spare time after all, and usually before bed. Don’t really wanna be risking nightmares here folks. You start messing with my sleep and I will not be a happy camper in the morning!

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Off-Balance

In my very humble opinion I felt as though the balance of the story was off. There were definitely some interesting pieces to it, but I felt as though certain aspects were highlighted more than they should have been, which lent a feeling of the plot dragging in some areas. For example, the character balance. Candy is our lead. She has been through a lot of turmoil throughout her life, and she is one tough cookie. However, at times I felt as though she sort of fell to the wayside as the main focus. Towards one point of the book there was so much focus on our villainous Mark developing a rather dark and demented sexual relationship with Candy’s step-mother, Cherry Ann.

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It just went on a bit too long for me, not only because it was kind of disturbing to read about, but I couldn’t really figure out how it fit in with the rest of the story. It’s possible their bizarre relationship will come back to play a bigger role in a future book, but if the point of the lengthy, multiple chapters told from Cherry Ann and Mark’s points of view was to highlight how depraved they were…yeah that was rather evident pretty early on. While it was nice to have some different chapters here and there every once in a while highlighting some of the supplemental characters, I definitely think it could have been cut back a bit to really push Candy to the forefront as our strong and admirable lead.

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The biggest imbalance for me though was the focus of the plot. It starts strong, with this interesting and cryptic meeting between a Sun God, Earth Goddess and Moon Goddess deciding to have some fun by bringing together two people from two different worlds. After this initial introduction to the game of the gods, we never actually see them reappear as part of our plot, which was kind of disappointing. It seems like we could have replaced a few chapters focusing on Cherry Ann, Mark, and even Candy’s best friend Liam, or her lover Joe, to see a few more moments of commentary from our deities.

What really shocked me though was that the meeting of our two characters from different worlds didn’t even happen until after the 80% point of the book. Throughout so much of the book I just keep thinking, where is this story going, and how does it relate back to that opening scene with our deities? We finally get to it near the very end of our book, and this is when the story truly came alive for me. If anything I feel like we should have seen this climactic meeting of our characters at about the 30% mark, so that the primary focus of the book could have been on Candy adapting to this new world she’s been thrown into, and the stranger who helps her find her way in this unexpected land so different from her own.

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

Series: Chroma Crossing Chronicles, Book 1. At about the halfway point I really did start to question if I’d want to continue on with this series. It’s a dark read at times, and I really couldn’t tell where our story was going. However, once we get to those final scenes where Candy’s world is turned upside down, this is where everything came together for me. I have a feeling that what I wanted to be a focus of this book is instead going to be a focus of book 2, and considering the somewhat cliffhanger ending to this first book I am intrigued to continue on with this series.

Final Impression: While I feel like there were some flaws as to the execution of our story, from the grammar to the pace and flow of the plot, it did start and end on a high note. I wish we had jumped into the journey of Candy traveling to this foreign world earlier on in the book, as this helps tie us back to the initial conversation between the god and goddesses at the opening scene of the book. The middle portion of the novel definitely takes a darker turn as we focus on the somewhat sadistic tastes of our villain. I’ll admit it crossed over too far into the disturbing realm for me where it was a challenge to keep going with the story. Hopefully we’ll leave some of the more demented aspects of our villain’s personality and history behind as an introduction in this novel, and instead have more of a primary focus on Candy connecting with this bizarre world she’s fallen into.

Smut Level: We get some detailed sex scenes, but unfortunately where you don’t really want to see them. For example, there’s a build-up to Candy exploring a relationship with  a guy named Joe. Just when they start to get passionate we switch to focus on the crazy sexual antics of her step mother, who even gets gang banged at one point. Not really the best chapter to end on before going to sleep one night. When we see Candy’s roommate Liam getting all nervously prepped for a date with a handsome guy from school we hope to see some romance, but instead switch to finding Candy’s step brother jacking off in her bedroom. Can’t we just get one nice sex scene? Please?

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Amazon Digital Services LLC. 379 Pages.

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Portal to the Land of Chroma

 

Going Down on One Knee by Christina Hovland

For a cute, romantic, funny read…hot damn was this thing surprisingly sexy!

What’s it About?

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Number-crunching Velma Johnson’s perfectly planned life is right on course. That’s a lie. Sure, she’s got the lucrative job. She’s got the posh apartment. But her sister nabbed Velma’s Mr. Right. There has to be a man out there for Velma. Hopefully, one who’s hunky, wears pressed suits, and has a diversified financial portfolio. He’ll be exactly like, well… her sister’s new fiancé.

Badass biker Brek Montgomery blazes a trail across the country, managing Dimefront, one of the biggest rock bands of his generation. With the band on hiatus, Brek rolls into Denver to pay a quick visit to his family and friends. But when Brek’s sister suddenly gets put on bed rest, she convinces Brek to take over her wedding planning business for the duration of her pregnancy. Staying in Denver and dealing with bridezillas was not what Brek had in mind when he passed through town, but there is one particular maid-of-honor who might make his stay worthwhile.

Velma finds herself strangely attracted to the man planning her sister’s wedding. Problem is, he ticks none of the boxes on her well-crafted list. Brek is rough around the edges, he cusses, and doesn’t even have a 401(k). But trying something crazy might get her out of the rut of her dating life–so long as she lays down boundaries up front and sticks to her plan…

First Impression

Every once in a while, my sister will ask for romance novel recommendations from me, and sometimes she’ll say she’s in the mood for something “cutesy”. Cutesy is sort of a level beyond cute, where some scenes are just so freakin’ adorable you want to giggle and squeeeee in delight. This novel perfectly embodies the definition of a “cutesy” read! It didn’t take long at all before I started to have a permanent grin on my face whenever I opened this baby up on my Kindle. Sure, it started to hurt after a while, but in the most fabulous way possible. The banter back and forth between our lead characters is everything, not to mention their dynamics with the lovable secondary characters. The fact that one of Brek’s good male friends is a florist, so he and his buddies all converge at the flower shop to drink some beers and discuss Brek’s love life was such a hoot. Your toes will inevitably curl in delight with this one!

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A Biker Handles Bridezillas

Brek had just planned to be in town for a short visit when his sister unexpectedly ended up on bed rest towards the end of her pregnancy. She’s desperate to have her wedding planning business succeed, so who does she enlist to help her out with some upcoming weddings but her unbelievably supportive badass biker brother, Brek. The first wedding he’s in control of basically crashes and burns in a rather over-the-top way. From a dog gagging on a pearl necklace, to the mother-of-the-bride sitting down on a box of melted chocolates, everything that could go wrong does go wrong. This was perhaps the one part of the book that I thought, mkay let’s tone it down juuuust a bit. Overall though these weddings are really the linchpin that bring Brek and Velma together as a team when she agrees to help him out with the planning logistics. They go from meager acquaintances to unexpected roommates, unlikely friends to passionate lovers. It’s fun to see their relationship play out and develop into something special that neither was really expecting.

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From Avoiding Commitment to Seeking it Out

An interesting feature of this read was both Brek and Velma’s approach to commitment, as well as to their own newfound relationship. Basically, both see this thing as short term. He doesn’t check any of the boxes in her 5-year plan spreadsheet for a possible groom, but she sees this as an opportunity to live life a little on the wild side and break out of her comfort zone. For him, he’s insistent that he’s just passing through Denver. True, his family and close friends are here, but his life is on the open road managing a band. Settling down just isn’t in the cards for them.

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As their time together lengthens though Brek comes to discover that, “He wanted Velma. He also wanted freedom. The two wouldn’t mesh well. But he wasn’t willing to give up either one. There had to be a third solution.” What I found so interesting in this romance was that Brek was the first to consider making changes in his life for Velma, and as a matter of fact is the first to say “I love you”. They both seemed so set in their ways, and while we knew they’d break eventually I guess I just never thought it would be Brek to be first.

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The Doomed Spreadsheet

Keeping in line with her accounting ways, Velma keeps a spreadsheet with an algorithm to determines her suitability with men she’s gone on dates with. We can all see that this spreadsheet of hers is gonna come back to bite her in the ass eventually. Brek ultimately discovers his entry in Velma’s spreadsheet, and his measly score of a 4 out of 10. According to the spreadsheet rules that’s not even good enough for a second date (even though they’ve been going out for a while now). What follows is a romance novel trope that I must say I’m not a huge fan of, and that’s when one person refuses to listen to an explanation by the other. Velma goes after Brek several times to explain that she loves him, and that she’s finally realized the spreadsheet could never account for feelings and emotional connection. And yet, Brek continually turns his back on her.

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Mkay, here’s my problem. I know it must have hurt like a son of a bitch to see his name on that sheet, and with such a low score to boot. Velma should have deleted the thing long ago, and the fact she even bothered to fill out the columns with his information was a low blow. But, he loves this woman. He’s considering making huge changes in his life for her. She’s already hinted at how she doesn’t hold as much weight behind the spreadsheet as she once did. If you truly love this woman as much as you say you do, the least you could do is treat her with enough respect to listen to her when she’s trying to speak to you. Don’t throw a temper tantrum and essentially tune out what is obviously an honest and heartfelt plea for understanding.

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

Series: A Mile High Matched Novel, book 1. I am definitely going to continue with this series, just try and stop me! But please don’t. I am so ensnared with the supplemental characters in this book I can’t wait to see them get their own shot at a happily ever after!

Final Impression: This is a delightfully fun and lighthearted read, not to mention a perfect option for the beach. Velma and Brek are such lovable characters that you root for them throughout the entire novel. Although slightly predictable, it’s just the kind of cutesy read you need to put a smile on your face.

Smut Level: Just because it’s lighthearted doesn’t mean this thing won’t get steamy! These two come up with some pretty clever sex locales, including Brek’s motorcycle! The scenes themselves never get too dirty or raunchy though. Just some good steamy fun!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. Amazon Digital Services LLC. 314 Pages.

The Boss by Abigail Owen

Finn’s scent is subtly smoky, with additional undertones of Bourbon and Coke. My God I think I’ve died and gone to dragon shifter Heaven!

What’s it About?

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Finn Conleth leads his team of enforcer dragon shifters with an iron fist and a cold heart. Every dragon seeks his destined mate, but the process to turn the woman he once thought was his killed her and devastated him. He will never risk his heart again. His team is his family now. When his body eventually gives out, he’ll leave, living his last days alone.

Delaney Hamilton moved across the country to escape the freak fires that plague her. But when another suspicious fire erupts and rapidly escalates around her, her hopes for a new life go up in smoke. She has no choice but to turn to the mysterious men who come to her aid.

Finn knows the fire is dragon-caused, which puts Delaney’s problems directly in his jurisdiction. No matter how her wounded grey eyes call to every part of him, he refuses to risk her life in the mating process. Until another dragon threatens to claim Delaney for his own, and Finn has to sacrifice everything to keep her alive…

First Impression

Our story here takes place concurrently with the events from the prequel, The Mate, and it was quite fun to see how the two story lines wove together into one cohesive drama. In our short story prequel, we got just a small taste of the intricacies of the dragon world, with the primary focus instead being on the official mating process between a dragon and his mate. In this book we finally get the fuller description that I was hoping for in regards to the details of the different dragon clans. We also get more detail about the importance and difficulties involved in hiding their presence from humans, so I was pretty thrilled to find this novel answer some of my logistical questions from the prequel.

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I really did enjoy the short prequel involving Finn’s brother Fallon discovering his mate, Maddie, but there was one component of this premiere novel which I think gave it a slight edge over the first one, and that would be the introduction of the Enforcers. We meet such a lovable team of characters, each with their own unique personality, and I for one can’t wait to get to know them more throughout the rest of the series. I have a feeling though that I might get slightly heartbroken, as you really do fall in love a bit with each of them, yet we know that there is one enforcer among them who is an informant for a former teammate gone rogue. There are some members of the group that we get to know better than others, but through it all you can sense that even though these dragons all come from different clans they have formed their own little family.

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When Mating Goes Wrong

Finn has spent the last few hundred years mourning the death of his supposed mate, Phoebe. The book opens with the moment the two tried to mate, but rather than it resulting in a successful link we instead see how Phoebe burned to ash in his very arms. She had looked upon him with such trust and love which quickly turned to the most brutal agony. Needless to say, Finn has had a rather difficult time getting Phoebe out of his head, and it’s easy to understand why they say that choosing a wrong mate doesn’t just result in the death of the female. A part of the male dies as well. He hears her screams every time he considers sleeping with another woman, or any time he thinks about finding his true mate. In spite of his immediate connection with Delaney, it will undoubtedly take some time before he can look into her eyes without his mind picturing the frightful way Phoebe burst into flame.

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His previous mating experience resulted in intense mental anguish, and a change in his personality. As he spends more time with Delaney though, Finn’s surly demeanor changes to one of possessiveness and desire. It’s something he tries to quell with all his might because when he sees the potential path it might lead him down with Delaney he once again just sees Phoebe burning. While I understand why his mind would be switched off to the idea of going through the mating process again, I must say it was kind of surprising how looooong it took for Finn to realize that Delaney was his mate. True, he lost a part of himself when Phoebe died, and he’s worried about the possibility of choosing wrong once again. However, surely he must realize that this connection he feels with Delaney, this pull between the two of them, is so much stronger, so much different than whatever it was he felt with Phoebe?

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Clan Drama Infighting

I do wish we had progressed just a bit further along with the drama of the coup d’etat involving Finn’s blue dragon clan, but we pretty much end at the same point that we concluded with in the prequel. It sort of feels like we’re moving up a mountainside, and just when we think we see a crest in view where maybe we’ll move along further, instead there’s more hill in front of us. I really wanted to see our characters connect directly with their new king who staged the coup, but that story still sort of remains in the background. At one point we even see an emissary of the king arrive, and it seemed like he would request Finn and Delaney travel to his hideout to meet him, but instead they remain behind to conclude the drama of Delaney’s stalker. The novel doesn’t necessarily end on a cliffhanger, but it definitely ends on a moment which will peak your interest to immediately want to dive right into the next book. The fact that I can’t has me itchy with anticipation!

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The ending implies that Finn, Delaney, and the rest of their dragon team aren’t necessarily out of the woods of danger. We also have quite a few plot questions left unanswered. We know that there’s an informant in the middle of Finn’s team. While I definitely have my suspicion of who our informant might be, we never receive a big reveal aha moment. Our story also ends with the implication that there’s someone else out there spying on the characters we’ve come to love throughout this book. Most importantly though, we never really figure out why Delaney is so different as a dragon mate. Normally, when a dragon mate is located, breathing dragon fire on the back of her neck produces a faint outline of which clan her mate will belong to. However, Delaney has no such mark, which is why Finn was adamant for so long that she was just a human. While we eventually see her emit other signs of being a dragon mate, we never discover why she never had the tell-tale mark on the back of her neck. Curious-er and curious-er. We’ll just have to see what answers, and maybe even further mysteries we’ll encounter going forward!

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

Series: Fire’s Edge, book 1. Oh yeah, I’ll definitely be continuing on with this series. I also have a feeling I’ll want to make a T-shirt of all the cover art from the series because…well my God just look at it for crying out loud!

Final Impression: While I wasn’t expecting it to take so long for Finn to entertain the idea of Delaney being his mate, I must say the depiction of his inner struggle over whether or not to complete the mating process with Delaney perfectly captured his turmoil. He doesn’t want to risk the possibility of Delaney suffering the most excruciating kind of pain to burn and die in a pile of ash, but at the same time he doesn’t know if he can survive the rest of his life without her. We want to believe that the two are destined to be together, but we also can’t help but hold our breath as they consider whether or not to take that risk together in each other’s arms.

Smut Level: Well well, we have a little dirty talker on our hands. Since the death of Phoebe, Finn has certainly kept himself at arm’s length from other women, but that doesn’t mean the man has lost his touch! As for Delaney, she gets off on the idea of the rest of the enforcer team watching on as she and Finn make some flames in between the sheets. Finn is definitely too possessive to ever see that fantasy come true, but he’s more than willing to create the picture in her mind to bring them to the ultimate pleasure. You naughty little fire starter you!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Entangled: Amara. 286 Pages.

Craving My Costar by Maura Rose

There’s nothing quite like simulated sex with your co-star to awaken the true desires lying just underneath the surface.

What’s it About?

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Robin’s a big star in Hollywood, and with his handsome face, hot body, and lengthy resume of blockbusters, he’s going nowhere but up. He’s cocky for a good reason, and he lives by the code “it’s not bragging if it’s true.” He’s made a name for himself, and he feels like he deserves every ounce of fame and fortune he’s got. The women chasing after him are just icing on the cake.

Lindsay’s a woman with daring dreams, high hopes, and a mouth that sometimes gets her into trouble. She’s got a heap of acting talent, but there’s just one problem: she’s a no-name. When she gets an audition for the film that’s destined to be the next big hit, her hopes and dreams finally become a reality when she nails it and lands the role.

When Lindsay and Robin first meet on set, she can’t stand his arrogance and he can’t believe her insolence. The two hate each other—but now that they’ve both been cast in the lead roles in the film, they have to work together…as lovers.

First Impressions

This is a sweet, quick read, with some definite sexiness thrown in there as well. It has a delightfully strong start, with a premise to die for. Who doesn’t love a tale of romance that starts out with enemies who become friends, and eventually even something more? At the start, you’d assume that Lindsay and Robin would get along fairly well, as they both have a clear passion for acting. They live for it, and are clearly dedicated to their craft. But it’s really more about their journey to this film they’re shooting together which causes the tension between them. For Robin, he’s always been a committed student, going to the finest drama and film schools in the world. It may have taken money for him to enroll in these places, but his raw talent is what helped him excel into a star of screen and stage. It may have also boosted his ego a bit to where he has too much pep in his step.

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As for Lindsay, this film is her first big break. She’s fought hard to get where she is, and has scrimped, saved, and clawed her way through countless failed auditions to finally be given the role of a lifetime. You can’t help but admire Lindsay’s tenacity and spunk. When she first meets Robin on set and he mistakes her for a lowly assistant, demanding she fetch him some coffee, she has no problem standing up for herself with a good ole oh hell to the no! Unlike her cast-mates, she refuses to be star-struck by the leading man on set, and what results is a delightfully entertaining clash of talent. Lindsay’s vulnerability and inexperience also shines through though, and this makes her an even more endearing character. The fact she tries to help the stagehands with the set setup? Love her!

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A Quick, Yet Slow Development

As I mentioned earlier, this is a nice quick read. However, I almost wonder if it was too quick, especially considering we were dealing with the huge production of a full-length, Oscar-buzz film here. I wouldn’t necessarily say it felt rushed, but instead we got more of a surface glimpse of things. And who knows? Maybe it really doesn’t take as long as you’d think to put together a high-budget film, but as a movie buff I would have loved if we were privy to some more of the behind the scenes elements involved in making a movie.

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What wasn’t rushed though was the development of Robin and Lindsay’s relationship from enemies to friends. Due to the initial clash between our lead actors, Lindsay is feeling rather isolated on set, as everyone else stands behind Robin considering he’s the big star. She can’t help but feel depressed, as she’s finally made it to where she’s always wanted to be, yet has discovered the reality of it might not be as wonderful as she’d predicted. Sure, she loves working with the director, and engrossing herself in her character, but the frustration of working with such an annoying co-star, not to mention being ostracized by her other co-stars has her in tears.

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When Robin catches a true glimpse of the sadness which was lying underneath all the anger she directed his way, Robin vows to turn things around. A friendship slowly starts to develop between them, and he even takes her under his wing by showing her the ropes of acting. He keeps an eye out for her, and pulls her into his circle of friends and cast-mates. Hell, the man even helps her shop. Umm, where can I get me a man like this?? I just loved how we got to see a true closeness develop between them, and show that sometimes initial bad impressions can eventually be remedied.

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No Hiding the Passion

While they start as enemies, one thing is for certain. The passion of the scenes they film together is undeniable! They dive right in by filming the most awkward scenes first: sexxx. Lindsay and Robin start out hating each other, but once the director calls action on their kissing scenes, they feel an incomparable draw to one another. Their scenes are no longer scripted, and they can’t help but explore each other. What’s funny is that while our lead couple never actually has sex, they certainly simulate it pretty damn well for the cameras. In those moments they put their hatred aside and give in to the passion, and even start to look forward to their amorous scenes. After they start to develop a friendship with each other, the scenes take on a whole other level of complexity.

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They don’t want the other to know how much they desire the other, as it straddles the line of professionalism. It could also compromise their friendship. Then the studio demands they ramp things up even more, and unfortunately that’s when we see both of them cross that line. This was my one and only disappointment with the story, but you can tell the characters regretted it too. Let’s just say things get a bit out of control when Robin realizes whilst filming how real Lindsay’s moans actually are. They start to indulge in their desires, and it results in both of them coming for real in front of a room full of people. I wish their first and only real romp in the whole book could have played out a bit differently. Perhaps they could have put their lust on hold for just a few minutes more until they could let it out in their trailer, away from watchful eyes.

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

Series: Stand-alone. I almost wish this was a series. I’d love a sequel where we see Lindsay and Robin dealing with their celebrity romance with the paparazzi, obsessed fans, and the stresses of filming. In this book we see the lengths Robin goes to in order to avoid having Lindsay deal with the paparazzi, and while it was refreshing to not have it be a main focus at all in this novel, it seems like an inevitable reality which could impact their relationship.

Final Impression: This novel definitely starts strong, but did not have my favorite…climax, if you know what I mean 😉 We wait so long for Lindsay and Robin to come together, and when they finally do it’s pretty unprofessional. I did enjoy the scenes of them really getting into their characters, and the friendship which blossomed between them. Some details could have been fine-tuned, but overall an enjoyable read. I liked that it was a quick read, but I think if it’d been a smidge longer some more details could have been fleshed out further, perhaps having the lovable supporting characters play a more prominent role in the story.  We do get an adorable final scene though which will make you go “awwww”.

Smut Level: These two may have hated each other at the start, but they couldn’t deny the pleasure they both felt at filming scenes of passionate kissing, foreplay, and intimacy. Hell, even I started looking forward to the moments they’d have to film one.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. TNA Publishing. 252 Pages.

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.