Her Valentine Surprise by Ayla Asher

If you’re looking for the perfect Valentine’s Day read, then look no further! This darling novella has all the feels, squeees and awwwws you could ever ask for.

What’s it About? 

Sam has a secret he holds close to his heart…

Joy Paulson is fine being single. In fact, it saves her from the maddening dating rituals in Manhattan. If she ever settles down, it will be with someone she truly loves and trusts. That’s why she turns down her super-hot boss when he asks her out, leading to disaster when he retaliates, forcing her termination.

Sam Davidson has pined for Joy since the first time he saw her sweet smile and stunning eyes. But there’s a secret that the shy IT developer holds deep inside: Sam is still a virgin. At twenty-nine, he never intended it to happen, but accepts that he could never please Joy in all the ways she deserves.

Sam can offer her a job, though, and proceeds to help Joy rebuild her life after the unfair firing. As their work relationship grows, Joy is taken with Sam’s kindness, gorgeous crystal-hazel eyes and generous smile. And his hands…oh, his firm, broad hands…Joy can’t figure out why Sam resists the desire that sparks so vividly between them, but Valentine’s Day is coming and she’s determined to seduce him and make them both burn. Even if it means discovering all his secrets…

First Impressions

Even thought the first novella in this series features a woman falling in love with her sexy neighbor, I would say this second novella presents us with the perfect epitome of the “guy next door”. Sam is the guy we can all see ourselves falling for. He’s sweet, humble, he’d move the Earth if it would make our female lead smile, and in every sense of the word is just a good guy! The most fascinating aspect of this read is that Sam is hiding a secret from Joy that fills him to bursting with embarrassment: he’s a virgin. There are seemingly countless romances out there which feature a virginal lead falling in love, but 9 times out of 10 that lead is our heroine rather than the hero. I’m enthralled any time an author chooses to explore a male virgin lead because it’s so unbelievably rare, yet a very important topic to discuss. This novella presents us with an intriguingly honest discourse between Joy and Sam about how his virginity isn’t something to be ashamed of, and Joy doesn’t view him as “less than” when compared to her former lovers. She’s honored that Sam has chosen her as the special person he wants to share this with, and sees the next stage of their relationship as a journey they can traverse together.

From Co-Workers to Lovers

Compared to the previous novella, we do have to wait a bit longer to get around to the steamy fun times, which makes sense when you consider Sam’s virginity and the fact that he and Joy have just started a business relationship with each other. Neither wants to risk the positive working relationship they’ve developed, but eventually they realize that not taking things to the next level is proving to be more of a distraction. Once the slow burn combusts into a steamy night of passion you can’t help but admire Joy’s emphasis on communication in the bedroom. They are both so open about what works and what doesn’t that it feels like we are witnessing the start of what a healthy relationship is supposed to look like. This was also a feature of the first novella that I really appreciated. Everyone is able to vocalize what can help them find release during sex, and they have these conversations naturally without any sense of awkwardness or shame. It’s actually quite beautiful!

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

Series: Manhattan Holiday Loves, book 2. Do yourself a favor and just get the whole series.

Final Impressions: Overall I’d say this was a slightly more predictable read than the first novella in that it was easy to see where some of the minor dramatic plot points were going. That being said, it was still a delightfully fun and sexy read that left me with a huge sappy grin on my face. What more could you want in a Valentine’s Day romance?!

Smut Level: This novella may have been a slow build-up before Sam and Joy gave into their desire, but once they do Sam is definitely a fast learner in the erotic arts. As for Joy, she’s more than happy to serve as his instructor and help his long-held sensual dreams of Joy finally become a reality.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. 136 Pages. 

His Holiday Pact by Ayla Asher

His Holiday Pact by Ayla Asher

“Because, sometimes, you just need a sweet, sultry fake relationship holiday romance…”

What’s it About? 

Who knew a fake holiday relationship could be so fun?

Kayla Summers has had enough of her mother’s insistence that she find a man and get married.  At thirty-three, she’s a successful attorney and has a fantastic life. Knowing her mother will grill her constantly over the upcoming holidays about her single existence, she dreads the visits home.

Carter Manheim is a self-proclaimed bachelor, dead set on seducing every beautiful woman in Manhattan. And why not? His parents’ disastrous marriage and divorce proved that lifelong commitments just aren’t viable. As his mother’s health worsens, his only wish is to give her one last happy holiday, even if it entails bringing home a girlfriend.

When Kayla’s sexy neighbor proposes they take each other home for the holidays as fake partners, she’s floored. However, getting her mother off her back is her number one priority and she agrees to the arrangement. Now, if she can only keep her heart from becoming emotionally entangled with the player of the century, she’ll be just fine…

First Impressions

A fake relationship between neighbors with some Pretty Woman black books and the perfect shade of red lipstick? I think the only thing missing from this holiday romance was a twig of mistletoe! Although, we do get some eggnog now that I think about it. This fantabulous novella presents us with a female lead who just might be my literary twin. A curvy lass with a penchant for pizza, a small but tight-knit group of gal pals, and she enjoys a good ole Black Velvet at the end of a long day. Sure, she might have a slight obsession for the Knicks that I can’t quite relate to, but I’m willing to overlook that little detail.

As if that wasn’t enough perfection for one read, the first introduction we get to our male lead, Carter, is absolutely drool-worthy. “Gray sweatpants sat low on his hips, the V of his abdomen jutting down below the waistband, leading to a sizeable package.” Gulp! Oh, and did I mention that in between acting jobs he lends his deep and sexy voice to audiobook narration? If that’s not enough to make you fall in love with these two characters, their progression from mere neighborly acquaintances to friends and confidants before eventually becoming lovers will make you adore them all the more.

Adults Being Adults

One of the aspects of this read that I appreciated the most was that these adults managed to act like…well…adults! This was especially true in regards to their sexual relationship. Sure, Carter might enjoy bringing some dirty talk into their escapades, and Kayla brings her vibrator into the mix, but you can tell that there is an underlying respect for each other right at the surface. Considering Carter’s slew of one-night stands and short-term flings before Kayla, his care for her needs in the bedroom was definitely an unexpected surprise. For example, during one of their first sensual interactions, they’re caught up in some steamy passion, but Carter still takes a moment to ask if Kayla can find her release from penetration alone, or if she’ll need additional stimulation to help things along. He easily could have just been absorbed in reaching his own pleasure, but he wanted to ensure her needs were met before taking care of himself. In another scene Carter is eager to get Kayla’s red lips around…a certain part of him. His initial instinct is to grab her hair and pump away, but he talks her through how to take him, and asks her if she’d prefer that he move away from her at the end. Again, it was these small details that did a lot to demonstrate Carter wasn’t selfish in the bedroom.

The Past Threatens the Present

Carter experienced a troubled past relationship with his father who abandoned him, his mother and brother years ago. Due to this complicated history Carter is open with Kayla about the fact that he isn’t looking for anything serious. With the awful example his father set for him, he simply can’t see himself as a husband and father in the future. However, as things progress between Carter and Kayla, sex before bed soon evolves into just wanting to hold each other as they fall asleep. Kayla realizes she’s starting to feel something deep for this man, yet she also acknowledges these intense emotions were never part of their initial fake relationship agreement in the first place. They were just supposed to make it through the holidays, and settle the inquisitive minds of their intrusive family members.

When Carter admits things are no longer fake between them Kayla doesn’t immediately demand he confess his love for her, or even ask him to consider marriage and kids at some point in their future together. She admits that marriage isn’t for everyone and doesn’t necessarily work out in every case. Kayla also isn’t 100% certain about having kids either. What she does want from him is simply some kind of commitment that their relationship is going somewhere. Now, I do agree that Carter had a lot to consider with this seemingly simply request considering his mother had only mere weeks to live, and this was never something he saw for himself. His hesitancies to commit were pretty understandable in that regard. That being said, you can also see things from Kayla’s point of view in that she wasn’t asking him for an awful lot either. The joys and trials of falling in love!

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

Series: Manhattan Holiday Loves, book 1. This entire series has officially been added to my immediate TBR list.

Final Impressions: Get yourself this novella! It’s funny, cute, super sexy, and provides an enlightening review of how a relationship can evolve. It felt like we were witnessing a real connection! I would have loved a few more scenes involving Carter’s mother, but I also realize that would have probably resulted in full-blown, heaving, ugly crying.

Smut Level: Daaaaaaaang!! This read should come with a warning label: may cause reader and Kindle to spontaneously combust.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. 141 Pages. 

Scandalous in a Kilt by Anna Durand

Scandalous in a Kilt by Anna Durand

A sexy Scotsman who looks drool-worthy in a kilt and can toss a caber using his bulging man muscles? Umm, yeah, where does the line start for that tall drink of perfection?!

What’s it About?

A free-spirited American. An uptight hot Scot. When passion ignites, no rules can survive the heat.

An office drudge by day, a free spirit by night… For Emery Granger, getting laid off from her job as a computer programmer liberated her from imprisonment in an office cubicle. The problem? She has no career and almost no money. Desperate to forget her quandary for one weekend, she takes off on a spontaneous trip to New Orleans — where the unconventional American collides with a sizzling-hot Scot.

Uptight lawyer by day, steamy seducer by night… After surviving three disastrous failed marriages, Rory MacTaggart has no desire to get entangled in another relationship. But with his two brothers now living in wedded bliss, he’s enduring the well-meaning pestering of his entire family. Rory’s solution? Get himself a trophy wife.

A one-night stand leads to a marriage of convenience, and a culture clash when Emery must adjust to a new life in Scotland and her new husband’s need for rules. When Rory’s ordered life explodes, the reluctant husband may just have met his match in the passionate, adventurous wife he swears he will never love.

First Impressions

Yasssssssss!!!!!!! Finallyyyyyyyyy. It only took two previous novels featuring hot Scots from this family finding their lady loves before we finally get around to what I’ve been waiting for since book one. After all this time we finally see our love interests travel to Scotland! This third book has definitely been my favorite of the series, and while the change of scenery wasn’t the sole reason for this fascination of mine, it certainly helped! Rory’s introduction of his homeland and its traditions was something that helped him and Emery grow closer together as a couple. It brought them together in a way that helped provide a window into who Rory truly is beneath his serious, businessman exterior. He’s always been closed off in revealing too much about himself to Emery, but when they find themselves in his home environment, he can’t help but open up a bit more.

From One Night to One Year

Upon first meeting, neither Rory nor Emery has the idea of a happily ever after at the forefront of their minds. Initially they’re both looking for a distraction to lose themselves in the arms of a stranger. After one explosive night of seduction, Rory realizes this carefree spirit might be the answer he’s looking for to convince his family to stop pestering him to find a wife. As for Emery, she was recently fired and is trying to figure out what new direction to take her life in. When a sexy Scot offers her one year of marriage, plus a hefty sum for this charade, how can she say no? Let the road lead her wherever it might…straight into the arms of her future happiness.

And this plays into what makes Emery and Rory such a delightfully engaging couple. At the end of the day, they are both selfless people who care deeply for others. Emery especially is so carefree, is so upfront with Rory about her life, and she won’t let him intimidate her into backing down when she tries to get him to open up to get away from his obsessive work life to just play with her. When we consider the crazy pandemic world we find ourselves in, I think we adults can take a page from Emery’s book to just let loose every once in a while, and find time to spin in a circle with our arms stretched wide. While she helps Rory relax and even make a fool of himself at times, he in turn shows her his country and teaches her about its history and culture. There’s nothing better than a couple willing to teach and learn from each other simply because they want to share a bit of themselves with the other person.

Series: Hot Scots, book 3. Hands down this was my favorite book of the series so far!

Final Impressions: While there were moments which tested Rory and Emery’s relationship, there was nothing overly dramatic or outlandish to threaten pushing them off the tracks entirely. Emery was a delightfully open spirit I’d love to try and emulate. Then you have Rory who seems like a rule following hard-ass, but Emery slowly succeeds in uncovering the sad details of his previous failed marriages and slowly breaks down the walls he’s tried to build around his heart. Gotta love ’em!

Smut Level: On the surface, Rory might appear to be a by-the-book rule follower who can’t fathom the idea of day-time sex or sharing a bath with Emery, but don’t let that fool you. Once Emery gets him to loosen up, Rory proves he’s all manly Scot beneath that well-tailored suit. Seriously, where does the line start to get me a man like this?!?

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. Jacobsville Books. 280 Pages.

Hot as Puck by Lili Valente

What could be better than a sexy, funny, caring hockey player with six-pack abs? How about one who also likes to crochet?

What’s it About? 

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The NHL’s biggest bad boy is about to fall for the virgin next door…

I am the world’s biggest dating failure. We’re talking my last date went home with our waitress kind of failure. But I have an ace in the back pocket of my mom jeans–my sexy-as-sin best friend, NHL superstar forward, Justin Cruise. Justin owes me favors dating back to seventh grade, long before he became a hotshot with a world famous…stick. So in return for my undying platonic loyalty, all I want is an easy-peasy crash course on how to be a sex goddess. How hard can it be?

***

I have never been so hard in my life. The things I want to do to my sweet, kindergarten-teaching, mitten-crocheting best friend Libby Collins are ten different kinds of wrong. Maybe twenty. But I’m a firm believer in teaching by example, and by the end of our first lesson, we’ve graduated to a hands on approach to her education: my hands all over her, her hands all over me, and her hot mouth melting beneath mine as I prove to her there isn’t a damned thing wrong with the way she kisses. Give me a month, and I’ll transform Libby from wall flower to wall banger, and ensure she’s confident enough to seduce any guy she wants. Problem is… the only guy I want her seducing is me.

First Impressions

Alright ladies and gentlemen, I think we can all agree that the cover pic of this read deserves honorable mention. Not to mention the play on words we have happening with the title Hot as Puck, as well as the name of the entire series Bad Motherpuckers. Cue delighted golf clap. Now, plot-wise we’re essentially dealing with a friends-to-lovers romance, which is one of my favorite themes of all times. With any novel dealing with friends who choose to elevate their relationship into something more sexual, we always question what will be the turning point in their dynamic? When will one or both of them start to look at the other as something more than a friend? When it comes to this read, almost immediately after breaking up with his girlfriend, Justin notices Libby walk into the room wearing a tight black tank top. And his pants get just a smidge tighter. Sooooo, I guess you can say wardrobe choice was the deciding factor here!

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Lesson One: Find Your Pleasure

While the impetus for Justin seeing Libby in a new light was inspired by her clothing, for Libby she turns to Justin for some instruction. She has a huge crush on somebody she works with, and she wants her long-time friend to teach her a thing or two on how to please a man. Yet another theme that’s usually one of my favorites in Romancelandia. With this situation however it wasn’t quite the sexucation I was expecting. I assumed it would be more about the logistics and techniques of how she might be able to give her crush the ultimate pleasure by using Justin as her instructor in all things sex.

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However, once Justin and Libby start spending some couch/bed time together, it turns out the giving and receiving of pleasure comes pretty naturally for both of them. Libby didn’t really need an education in the mechanics of sex after all, but rather in how to build up her own self confidence. This is what Justin is able to teach her. That she is a beautiful, desirable woman that any man would be lucky to have. A past break-up is what made Libby question her sensuality, but it doesn’t take long following a roll in the sheets with Justin for her confidence to start shining through.

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Series: Bad Motherpuckers, book 1. Again, gotta love the series title here, and I can see myself continuing with it.

Final Impressions: This is a cute read that definitely brought a stupid grin to my face many times when I listened to it as an audiobook. I’d say that Libby and Justin develop more of a friends with benefits situation than the sexucation I was really hoping for, but it’s still fun to see their relationship evolve. While both are initially surprised to find how much pleasure they can bring each other, eventually they realize it’s the most natural thing in the world.

Smut Level: Justin and and Libby bond over something more than just sex, and that would be their love of crochet. But who says you can’t bring the two delights together? Hence Justin’s wearing of a cock puppet…which is basically an adult sock puppet…on a certain part of his anatomy…

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Self Taught Ninja Publishing. 330 Pages.

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Brooklynaire by Sarina Bowen

Who knew palindromes could be such a sexy turn-on?

What’s it About? 

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You’d think a billion dollars, a professional hockey team and a six-bedroom mansion on the Promenade would satisfy a guy. You’d be wrong. For seven years Rebecca has brightened my office with her wit and her smile. She manages both my hockey team and my sanity. I don’t know when I started waking in the night, craving her. All I know is that one whiff of her perfume ruins my concentration. And her laugh makes me hard.

When Rebecca gets hurt, I step in to help. It’s what friends do. But what friends don’t do is rip off each others’ clothes for a single, wild night together. Now she’s avoiding me. She says we’re too different, and it can never happen again. So why can’t we keep our hands off each other?

First Impressions

I must say I was pleasantly surprised with how much I loved this book! I went in with low-to-no expectations, yet practically every time I listened to a little snippet of it before work I’d find myself with a smile almost permanently plastered on my face. It’s simply the epitome of the perfect beach read. Fun, romantic, silly, light-hearted, and you can really just relax and enjoy it as the sun shines and the waves crash along the sandy beach. Nate and Rebecca have been co-workers for years, but more importantly they’ve developed a beloved friendship on top of their professional relationship. It’s only when Rebecca sustains an injury which literally throws her off-balance that we see she and Nate develop a level of closeness they’ve never experienced before.

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What’s Standing in the Way? 

It’s only when Rebecca gets a concussion following a little slip on the ice that Nate starts to realize how much his beautiful employee means to him. We don’t just have a friends-to-lovers romance going on, but also the complexities of an office romance mixed in there as well. I was quite surprised, and happily so, that Nate’s immense wealth (simply the fact that he had money) was never really a point of contention between them. Sure, sometimes he used his money in a way to support Rebecca without consulting her ahead of time, and the ensuing arguments caused some pointed grumbling. However, we see other factors were significantly more influential in causing Nate and Rebecca to hesitate in pursuing the romantic relationship they both desired.

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First, there’s the fact that they’re also in an employer/employee dynamic. While they’ve had a friendly relationship throughout the years, they’ve always maintained a level of professionalism in the work place, and it’s a line they’re not quite willing to risk crossing. A second hurdle that Rebecca personally had to jump over was her own sense of intellectual inferiority when compared to Nate. He didn’t just happen upon his wealth, but rather he earned it by putting his smarts to good use in the tech industry. His level of genius intimidates her, and often makes her feel as though he deserves better. It’s only through a multitude of flashbacks depicting the progression of their relationship, and through their current interactions of Nate caring for Rebecca that we see how comfortable and at ease these two can be with each other. In a way, this proves to be more important than the sexual chemistry they both share.

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Series: Brooklyn, book 1. I’m gonna continue on with this series.

Final Impressions: This is such a fun read, and the perfect book to bring along on your next beach vacation. Personally, I would recommend listening to this one as an audio book, primarily for the AI character, Bingsley, who proves to be a source of comedic relief with his uptight British accent in the midst of this modern New York City burrough. Nate and Rebecca are two delightful characters who you can’t help but love, and their connection feels so real it’ll put a smile on your face.

Smut Level: These two get surprisingly creative with a rubber pool float.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $0.99 Kindle Price. Rennie Road Books. 298 Pages.

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Playing for Keeps by Ashlie Knapp

A man with six-pack abs who loves watching the Food Network and cooking Bobby Flay recipes? Oh yeah, I can get behind that!

What’s it About?

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To her friends and family, Aria Cook is a sassy, foul-mouthed, not-a-care-in-the-world woman. She dances for the Oklahoma City Thunder and tends bar at her father’s trendy downtown bar, A Shot of Whiskey. What her friends and family don’t know, however, is Aria’s running from a past she can’t escape no matter how hard she tries.

Trevin Anderson is a love ’em and leave ’em kind of guy. He knows most women only want the fame associated with dating an NBA athlete. He doesn’t get attached. He has a job he loves, a sister and mother he adores and friends who have his back. He doesn’t need anything else.

After a failed first date, Trevin can’t walk away. Maybe it’s the thrill of the chase; perhaps it’s something more. She calls him her stalker. He calls her his girlfriend. Which one will be right in the end?

First Impressions

Aria and Trevin both put on an air of something they’re not. Her more-so than him, but essentially they’re both hiding the sensitive side of their nature from the rest of the world. He has the reputation as the ultimate man whore of the Thunder basketball team, always with a different woman on his arm, and never making promises about forever. However, when it comes to his time with Aria he becomes 100% dedicated to her. He’s not afraid to be sweet and affectionate with her, whether it’s renting out an entire animal park to give her an amazing experience with the animals, or constantly asking if he can change his relationship status on Facebook so everyone knows they’re dating.

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Trevin is smitten like a kitten, and he doesn’t care who knows it. As for Aria, she puts on a front of being a sassy, carefree chica who isn’t afraid to speak her mind, and doesn’t let anything phase her. In reality, she’s experienced an intense trauma in her past that she keeps hidden from those closest to her. She doesn’t want others to know her weakness, so she’s essentially overcompensating in an attempt to show strength. Most people accept her facade as truth, but Trevin is the only one who recognizes she’s putting on a mask, and he’s determined to dig deeper than anyone else in an attempt to uncover who the real Aria is. She’s terrified her past will cause him to leave, no matter how much he declares he’s in it for the long haul. You can’t help but fall in love with his determination in the face of her hesitancy.

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“She put on a brave, smartass and carefree facade, but the closer he’d gotten to her the more he’d seen her vulnerability.”

A Long Wait

The development of Trevin and Aria’s relationship is a comedic delight to watch, while also interspersed with moments of emotional connection between the two of them. Throughout it all, we keep waiting for the other shoe to drop that will ultimately test the foundation of their relationship. It’s an inevitability we know is bound to happen! Most of the book involves Trevin convincing Aria to let down her guard, and to trust in them as a couple. Once she finally does, and admits how much she loves him, things are almost going too well for them. Especially after they meet each other’s parents and aren’t fully scared off. We constantly wonder what will cause their perfect bubble to pop.

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Will Aria get scared off by his intimate affections and desire to take their relationship to the next level? Will Trevin’s man-whore reputation come back to bite him in the bum? We’re waiting, and waiting….and waiting. It’s not until about the last 10% of the book that we finally witness the drama that threatens to break up their relationship, and I must say I did not see it coming! Definitely a surprise, although it took a bit too long for us to finally get to this climactic moment, and then it was resolved fairly quickly. It was an interesting twist for sure, but it probably could have been fleshed out more fully to take the conclusion to a whole other level.

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

Series: Playing, book 3. This was probably my favorite book in the series, if not a close tie with book one.

Final Impressions: This was a fantastic addition to the series. Overall it was a funny and cute read with some adorably likable characters. From Tristan’s mother who fully encourages him and Aria to have sex even if she’s staying just down the hall, to the whole cast of female characters from the previous two books. Aria and Tristan both had depth to their personalities that they didn’t always choose to share with others, yet as their love for each other grows they let their shields drop to reveal the softer side hiding just below the surface. The final drama at the end did seem a bit rushed, and could have been incorporated more fully into Aria and Tristan’s story, but nevertheless it was a fun read.

Smut Level: Some intimate make-out sessions, touches and caresses, but normally the sex scenes themselves were ones which faded to black before we witnessed anything too sensual.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Amazon Digital Services LLC. 280 Pages.

All of Me by Rose Grey

Charlotte and Jock never thought love was in the cards for them. But when they’re thrown together amidst life-changing surprises, they come to realize that love just might be right in front of them.

What’s it About?

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Jock Durrell hopes the surprise baby his ex-girlfriend left behind at his office isn’t his. Still, someone has to care for it. So while he waits for DNA test results, he advertises for temporary help. Preferably Mary Poppins. By the time Charlotte Aubin arrives to interview, Jock’s too tired to be choosy. True, Charlotte dresses like a Goth and throws things when she loses her temper. On the other hand, as far as he knows, she’s not an ax murderer. So he gives her a chance. Because at this point he would sell his soul for just one night of unbroken sleep. But Jock isn’t the only one with a complicated life. Charlotte’s past is closing in fast. When danger looms, Jock will have to choose between protecting the safe life he has crafted or risking it all for a woman who has stolen his heart.

First Impressions

When our novel opens I wasn’t even sure if Charlotte and Jock were meant to be the romantic focus of the book. The authors does a great job of presenting us with two people who aren’t looking for love. They’re both so focused on treading their way through life that upon first meeting they seem more determined to be annoyed with each other than to see the possibility of romance. However, it would seem fate had more in store for these two after their initial meet cute, and no matter how much they tried to steer clear of each other, they both eventually acknowledged that they could help one another by sticking together.

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The set up of this story was everything. Charlotte and Jock are both dealing with their own problems in life, and yet somehow these distinct issues they’re both confronting prove to be the impetus in bringing them together. Jock is struggling with the fact his ex-girlfriend just dropped off a baby on his doorstep, claiming he’s the father. Charlotte has her own problems in life, from unloving parents to a somewhat sadistic step brother who seems determined to see her fall apart. They were both such independent, selfless characters who never really had the opportunity to enjoy life for themselves. They were always living one day to the next, and yet after fate throws them together both Charlotte and Jock are finally able to live in the moment, and learn how to laugh with each other.

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From Baby Jane to Brother Dearest

Jock has always pushed aside his own wants and desires in order to care for his brothers following the death of their parents. No woman has ever really tempted him to put his own wishes first, until he meets Charlotte of course. While his younger brother, Ronan, proves to be a source of humor at certain moments throughout the novel, I would have liked to see his brothers play a larger role in the overall story. We really don’t see much from them in terms of helping him cope with the emotional impact of suddenly having a daughter, and his brother from book one is almost absent entirely.

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“He had spent ten years creating a stable environment for his brothers. Ignoring his own desires had been a crucial part of that and a measure of his self discipline. But he couldn’t seem to summon the same vigor now.”

The drama that Charlotte experienced throughout the book in terms of her unloving parents and creepy step-brother was definitely the most compelling aspect of the story. Her troubled relationship with her family meant she never had a reason to trust others, especially considering those who were meant to love her most in this world continually brushed her aside. Charlotte has never deigned to try loving someone. Jock is the first one to cause her to hope for something better. While her relationship with her step-brother was a fascinating element that held your interest, and overall was carried out very well, I felt it could have been pushed one step further. The ending was fantastic in that it allowed for Charlotte to finally stand up for herself, but I wanted us to see more about the motives and thoughts behind her family in order to more fully understand their actions. This would have provided one more additional push to the book that would have been near perfect in execution.

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“She hadn’t ever fought for what she wanted…What if the reason she didn’t fight for what she loved was because she was afraid of what losing might do to her? She didn’t like thinking of herself as a coward, but it seemed the inescapable conclusion.”

Afraid of Love

Our love story ultimately culminates with some rather big misunderstandings that result in Charlotte running away from her feelings. Both she and Jock were hesitant to voice how they truly felt about each other throughout the entirety of the novel. We see that it wasn’t just their employer/employee relationship that caused them to pause, but also their inability to believe they could devote themselves to someone wholeheartedly. I’ll admit it was kind of frustrating to see them both internalize their anger towards the other for closing themselves off from love, while simultaneously acknowledging their own inability to dive deep into the relationship.

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I was pretty worried this inability to confess their feelings would negatively impact my appreciation for the book up until that point. However, I’m happy to say we do eventually see redemption with how they both are willing to fight and stand up for what they want in life, and their refusal to have others walk all over them. It’s almost as though they both reach a breaking point where they’re fed up with being alone, and even though they’re terrified of being rejected, they’d rather face the music than risk not knowing how the other person feels.

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“…one way or the other, she was done running.”

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

Series: Durrell Brothers Trilogy, Book 2. I may have liked this second book even more than the first book in the series!

Final Impressions: It was interesting to see two such independent characters learn how to finally allow someone else into their lives. It’s a difficult journey full of ups and downs, but they eventually realize that the mere presence of the other person brings joy to their day. Charlotte and Jock have a relationship that isn’t built upon lust or sex, but instead almost a mutual respect for how hardworking and selfless the other is. Incorporating more depth to Jock’s relationship with his brothers, as well as Charlotte’s background with her parents and step-brother could have elevated the emotional side of the plot, but overall it was a compelling read.

Smut Level: We never see anything too sensual in description, but you’ve gotta love the circumstance of being trapped together in a house during a snow storm. I can certainly think of a few ways for them to keep warm.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. Simply Romance Press. 272 Pages.

Out Too Far by Andrea K. Stein & Sawyer Stone

An exciting and humorous conclusion to the Love Overboard series!

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Rania Elsaeid is the brilliant engineer aboard the 115-foot yacht, the Bonnie Blue. She’s also a deadly, well-trained security guard. She keeps her cool when everything around her heats up. Morris “Moj” Johnston, internationally famous music producer, is on a much-needed vacation cruise through the islands of the Indian Ocean. He’s not looking for love but trying to heal a broken heart. When Moj meets Rania, everything changes. Suddenly, they find themselves on the run from pirates, lost on a deserted island, and dangerously close to going…OUT TOO FAR!

First Impressions

It’s always sad to see the end of a series, but this final installment in the Love Overboard trilogy manages to keep you giggling as Rania and Moj navigate their love in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Both characters are dealing with the stresses of life. She’s lying low, trying to keep off the radar so her crazy ex doesn’t find her. As for Moj, he’s keeping busy as a famous music producer, trying to keep his mind off the recent and untimely death of his wife. Neither is looking for love, but once their eyes lock during a crowded music festival, there’s no going back. The connection between them is immediate. While they’re initially hesitant to explore anything physical between them seeing as she’s working on the yacht he’s chartered, it’s not long before fate pushes them to take things to the next level.

Stranded

Funnily enough, the moment when they decide to finally give into the desire which has enveloped them since they first met is not the moment I would have guessed would be the most opportune for sexy fun times. Moj and Rania find themselves stranded on a seemingly deserted island with kidnappers, albeit hilariously incompetent ones, hot on their tail. This is the moment where I’d be freaking out, convinced that starvation and dehydration would soon portend the end of it all. However, Moj and Rania take an entirely different approach, seeing this deserted island as an opportunity to finally get some privacy from all of Moj’s fame. Sure, they need to explore the island for water, food, discover whether or not it actually is deserted, but they first choose to look at the silver lining of the situation. Beautiful beach, just survived an adrenaline inducing escape from kidnappers…seems like the perfect time to get naked, no? Priorities people!

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“There is maybe one chance in hell we’re going to survive this ordeal. I say we make the most of the time we have left…”

The Need to Stand Aside

Something I really loved about this read, and the series as a whole for that matter, was that we were presented with a strong female lead character. Oftentimes throughout the books we find it is the ladies who are stepping up to protect the gents, or help them out of a sticky situation. This holds true in the character of Rania, a strong woman who can take care of herself, and has been trained by the very best to do so. Moj on the other hand, is a man who was determined to take care of his first wife who died from cancer. Caring wholeheartedly for others is part of his very nature, and the concept of stepping aside to let Rania take care of herself is one he’s struggling with. Where his first wife needed him, Rania doesn’t really need him at all. Even though their time together has been brief, it’s not long before Moj can’t imagine what life would be like to have Rania pulled away from him so suddenly.

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By the end of the novel, Moj finally accepts that when it comes to attempted kidnappers and matters of international espionage, his interference would probably cause more harm than good. He succeeds in stepping aside to allow Rania to shine in all her bad-assery. The final scene is quite funny even though it’s the climax of everything coming together, and it’s described in such perfect detail I could practically see it playing out in my head like a movie. Moj still worries for Rania’s safety, that’s something that will never go away completely, but he can learn to let her take care of herself when necessary. It doesn’t mean she doesn’t need him at all. She needs his presence in her life, she needs his love and support, but she doesn’t need him to treat her as a damsel in distress. If anything, Moj is the one who needs her protection and strength in certain moments. There are many times where they learn to place their full trust in the other person in order to make it out of a sticky situation, and acknowledge that there are some things they can’t do all by themselves. Sometimes they need a shoulder to lean on.

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

Series: Love Overboard, book 3. It’s always fun to see the earlier characters from the series come back in the end, although it was kind of disappointing that the couple from book 2 never made a surprise guest appearance.

Final Impressions: This was a sexy, funny read, and a great conclusion to the series. Some scenes were a bit over the top, and other areas could have been explained more fully, such as Rania’s past with her ex. However, it’s still a fun and silly read that’ll have you giggling along. Aside from the delight of having a strong female lead character, my other favorite part would have to be our would-be kidnappers. At the start you worry about how they might cause trouble for Moj and Rania, but as the story progresses you see they are hilariously inept at being criminals, and I was shocked to find myself liking them more and more with each new scene.

Smut Level: The first time Moj and Rania do the deed it’s on the beach of a deserted island they’ve been stranded on. I can’t imagine how much sand must have gotten into some extremely uncomfortable places.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Muirgen Publishing, LLC. 211 Pages.

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Delectable by R.L. Mathewson

When Kasey first sets her sights on Reese Bradford, one perfect nickname comes to mind. Yummy. Sooooo yummy.

What’s it About? 

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Reese Bradford is a typical Bradford, he enjoys his food, is easy on the eyes, and has a killer smile, but there’s one thing about him that he doesn’t want anyone to know about, which of course is the first thing that his ex-fiance makes sure that everyone finds out about after she leaves him for his best friend. Out of options, he reluctantly heads out of town to spend the summer in the cottage that he’d rented for his honeymoon only to find himself tormented by a woman that never should have crossed his mind twice.

More intrigued than he’d ever thought possible, he can’t help but wonder about the woman that made him smile.

First Impressions

This is another classic addition to the Neighbor From Hell series. It’ll put a smile on your face, make you giggle in delight, and even blush a time or two with the sexual escapades of our lead couple. There usually isn’t a ton of drama to a book in this series, but there are some lovable themes which connect them all. First and foremost is the infamous Bradford stomach. An endless gut that doesn’t seem to get full no matter how much food is consumed. The fact that this novel features a Bradford male falling for a woman who runs a cooking website? Stand back ladies and gentlemen, you’re about to see something reaaaaally special.

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Another feature that each novel in this series shares is also something which sets them all apart. Distinct lead characters that you can’t help but fall in love with. R.L. Mathewson isn’t afraid to provide us with delightful characters who break the mold when it comes to typical romance novel leads. Throughout this series we’ve seen full-figured female leads, adorable nerds, and even virgins. The leads of this ninth novel pull our hearts in once again, and include a single mother who had her daughter when she was just a teenager, as well as a sexy male virgin police officer. That’s right folks, we have a 29-year-old male virgin here. That’s the ultimate white whale, the sparkliest of unicorns, the needle in the haystack of Romancelandia.

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Bedding the Virgin

Kasey and Reese are both hesitant to take their physical relationship to the next level, and for good reason. She hasn’t been with anyone since the death of her husband over seven years ago. The few times she’s dated since his untimely death from cancer have left her feeling guilty, as though she’s betraying his memory. She simply feels she’s not ready to take that next step yet, but Reese is the first man to make her consider the notion. As for Reese, he’s a 29 year old virgin. He’s never wanted to take that next step with a woman unless he was convinced he could take care of her in every way possible. The fact that Reese is still trying to navigate his own life, and figure out what he truly wants to do, means he’s never felt like he was in the right place to take care of someone else wholeheartedly. I must say, while I completely understand why they were both hesitant to become physically intimate with each other, I was quite disappointed at Kasey’s initial reaction to his admission of virginity.

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Simply put, she doesn’t believe him. Now, I get it’s a concept which seems completely foreign in today’s day and age. Here we have a gorgeously sexy and caring police officer who’s also handy with a tool belt. How could a man so flirtatious and good looking possibly be a virgin?! However, he’s also never given her a reason to think that he’d make something like that up. She’s convinced he’s lying in order to show her his sensitive side, and trick her into going to bed with him. Perhaps if he had been pushing her repeatedly to jump into bed with him before this moment, I may have understood her point of view. The thing is, he’s always taken things slow with her. When he discovered her hesitancy to go out on a date with him due to the grief she still feels over the death of her husband, he didn’t goad or pressure her into moving on. He chose to keep things friendly between them. So why would he be going to such lengths now to get her into bed by creating a false back story of virginity? It just seemed like an insensitive assumption, not to mention it would have been a complete break with the caring personality which Reese had shown her up until this point.

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Series: A Neighbor From Hell, book 9. One of my favorite romance series of all time.

Final Impressions: While this definitely wasn’t the strongest addition to the Neighbor From Hell series, it’s still a fun, cute read. You can’t help but fall in love with all of the characters, and feel as though we’ve been granted permission to enter their world. There were certain aspects of the story which didn’t come full circle for me, and could have been fleshed out in more detail. While the reasons for Reese’s virginity are discussed quite clearly between him and Kasey, as well as the breakdown of his most recent relationship, something I felt we didn’t receive as much information about was Kasey’s background with her former husband and his family. Overall though, it’s still a great beach read that you won’t want to put down.

Smut Level: Our male lead is an officer of the law. You just know handcuffs are mandatory at some point.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $0.99 Kindle Price. Rerum Industries, Inc. 315 Pages.

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Nailed Down by Chelle Bliss

Kane is a rather intimidating hunk of a man who likes to refer to himself as the “Storm”. Sometimes he even has to threaten to give people a weather lesson should they annoy him too much. Oooooookay then.

What’s it About? 

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He’s the hottest handyman on TV, but he only has eyes for his best friend.

Kit Carlyle isn’t just some woman. Beautiful? Yep. Seductive? Damn straight. She’s also my best friend and my co-worker. But, hell, I’m a guy with a pulse. Every once in a while, I look at her and think filthy things.

But when her cousin dies and leaves her with a long as hell and sexy bucket list, Kit turns to me for a helping hand. What can I say? I’m a sucker for a woman in need. Besides, I’m not about to let another man steal away my girl, occupy her bed, or fill my shoes.

But as the stakes get higher and the items become hotter, I’ll have to face the toughest challenge of all: admitting I want more than Kit’s friendship. I want to make her mine.

First Impressions

A sexy bucket list? Yes please. A friends to lovers romance? Sign me up! The synopsis of this book has everything, and definitely seemed like it’d be right up my alley. It’s definitely a cute read, with some highlight moments, but I must say they summary of what we’d be in store for did ultimately leave me wanting. Particularly when we take a look at that bucket list which is described as being “long and sexy”, and increasing in heat as Kane and Kit start to cross things off that list. My mind definitely ran wild with erotic possibilities. Perhaps some elevator sex? Toys? Alas, in the end the list came across as rather tame in terms of sexiness. Adventurous, or adrenaline inducing may have been a more apt descriptor. Below is a slightly abbreviated version of the 10 items Kit’s cousin designated for the list.

  1. Go zip-lining
  2. Buy something frivolous
  3. Go whale watching
  4. Find someone to give you a mind-numbing, toe-curling, can’t breathe, moan-worthy kiss that ruins you for all other men
  5. Run a half marathon
  6. Shake hands with the president
  7. Camp out in the mountains
  8. Sing in front of a crowd of more than twenty people
  9. Have sex with someone other than yourself
  10. Fall in love

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See what I mean? Not quite the sauciest of lists. While Kane agrees to assist Kit in crossing as many items off the list as possible, only three of them would directly have an impact on their friendship crossing over into something more intimate. We soon discover that while these two have been friends for years, there’s also been an underlying yearning that neither has wanted to act upon. Until now of course. Both are hesitant to act on their desires for the fear that it might interfere with their friendship. However, with the first touch of their lips, the sizzling electricity which ignites between them ensures there’s no going back to mere friendship.

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The Games We Play

As Kit and Kane continue to check items off her bucket list, they soon come to the conclusion that there are deeper emotions developing between them. While they can both admit to themselves that they’re in love, they simply can’t voice it to each other. It’s even evident to their close friends and colleagues what’s going on. Towards the end even our lovebirds themselves can sense that something bordering on love is building in the other person, yet they both remain tight lipped about how they feel! Therefore, in order to try and nudge him into making a move, Kit tries to make Kane jealous by flirting with another man she knows is a sleazy playboy. Kit admits to feeling like a juvenile brat for playing games with Kane, but that still doesn’t prevent her from playing said games.

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Juvenile is correct. She’s so insistent on setting up this scenario to get him to declare how he feels, that you can’t help but question why she felt the need for him to act first. Seems to me like it would have saved them both a lot of time and energy, not to mention sped up their physical escapades, if she’d been the first to simply voice what she was feeling. At one point Kit even declares that Kane was “emotionally stunted” for not being able to admit how he felt and needed to “man up”. I’d have to counter and ask why she doesn’t “woman up”? Hell, I’m not even asking for her to say she’s fallen deeply in love with him. Merely admitting she’s starting to feel something more than friendship would have been enough to at least test the waters.

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Series: Nailed Down, book 1. I think I’ll continue on with book 2 which features Kane’s brother.

Final Impressions: There are definitely some sweet moments between Kane and Kit, but I felt like there were some important areas which only received a surface-level kind of introduction. It was as though there was a missing layer of depth which could have contributed to a fully fleshed out story. For example, we never learn how Kit’s cousin died. We were also never given the chance to see how Kit and Kane interacted as friends before the death of her cousin. Our book opens with Kit’s return from the funeral, and the introduction of the bucket list. We just sort of dove right into these feelings of lust simmering between them, without ever seeing their previous normal, everyday interactions as buddies. This contrast of a before and after could have helped us connect even more with our characters to see how things have truly changed between them.

Smut Level: Kane is described as a generous, but not a gentle lover. The first time Kit and Kane ever fool around beyond just a kiss is in his truck. Then the first time they actually do the deed is up against a wall. They certainly like to take things up a notch, even if their ultimate consummation doesn’t happen for quite some time.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. FREE Kindle Price. Bliss Ink LLC. 250 Pages