Friday, October 14, 2016

Review: A Scot in the Dark by Sarah MacLean

27067875
Series: Scandal and Scoundrels Book #2
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Pages: 390
Rating: 4.5 Stars
How I Got It: Purchase
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Avon

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads
 
Lonesome Lily Turned Scandalous Siren

Miss Lillian Hargrove has lived much of her life alone in a gilded cage, longing for love and companionship. When an artist offers her pretty promises and begs her to pose for a scandalous portrait, Lily doesn't hesitate...until the lying libertine leaves her in disgrace. With the painting now public, Lily has no choice but to turn to the one man who might save her from ruin.

Highland Devil turned Halfhearted Duke

The Duke of Warnick loathes all things English, none more so than the aristocracy. It does not matter that the imposing Scotsman has inherited one of the most venerable dukedoms in Britain—he wants nothing to do with it, especially when he discovers that the unwanted title comes with a troublesome ward, one who is far too old and far too beautiful to be his problem.

Tartan Comes to Town

Warnick arrives in London with a single goal: get the chit married and see her become someone else's problem, then return to a normal, quiet life in Scotland. It's the perfect plan, until Lily declares she'll only marry for love...and the Scot finds that there is one thing in England he likes far too much...


Review

I've seen some negative reviews of this and I don't get it. Maybe I'm a MacLean apologist, but I really enjoyed it and I'm eager to get my hands on the next book in the series.

One of my favorite things is the major themes that ran through it. She addresses some very real contemporary issues like slut-shaming and consent. These were important issues then and are still today. And sometimes it's easier to take a deep look at these issues in a historical because they feel more removed.

Lily and Alec were both good characters. I liked them both equally. Lily had a lot of sass, but was also vulnerable which is very normal. Alec was similar. It's always nice to read about a big man who has emotional weaknesses.

My only real complaint is that there was some repetitiveness. Specifically, Lily and Alec would have the same argument about whether her situation Lily found herself in was or wasn't at fault. And every time it felt like they resolved it, but it still came back up.

Overall, I like the characters and story. They and it entertained me. I easily read this in just a few hours.

Thanks for reading!
Holly


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Review: Steadfast by Sarina Bowen

29087455
Series: True North Book #2
Format: Ebook
Rating: 5 Stars
How I Got It: Purchased
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Rennie Road Books

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads
 
She’s the only one who ever loved him—and the only one he can never have.

Jude lost everything one spring day when he crashed his car into an apple tree on the side of the road. A man is dead, and there's no way he can ever right that wrong. He’d steer clear of Colebury, Vermont forever if he could. But an ex-con in recovery for his drug addiction can’t find a job just anywhere.

For Sophie Haines, coming face to face with the man who broke her heart is gut-wrenching. Suddenly, he’s everywhere she turns. It’s hard not to stare at how much he’s changed. The bad boy who used to love her didn’t have big biceps and sun-kissed hair. And he’d never turn up volunteer in the church kitchen.

She knows it’s foolish to yearn for the man who returned all the heartsick letters she wrote him in prison. But the looks he sends her now speak volumes.

No one wants to see Sophie and Jude back together, least of all Sophie's police chief father. But it's a small town. And forbidden love is a law unto itself.


Review

Sometimes when I blow through a book I have no idea how to review it. That's what happened here. I've actually been thinking about this for five days and have gotten nowhere.

I really liked the characters-especially Jude. Ms. Bowen did such a good job of dealing with addiction. I've never had a drug or alcohol addiction, but it did remind me a lot of the compulsions when my OCD was at it's peak. And the Shippley family returned they are the true stars.

This was definitely an emotional read and personally I need that. But, based on the synopsis, I feel like the next/last book will be a real roller-coaster. I can't wait for it!!!

Thanks for reading!
Holly

Monday, October 10, 2016

Review: Bittersweet by Sarina Bowen

28161530
Series: True North Book #1
Format: Ebook
Rating: 4.5 Stars
How I Got It: Purchased
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Rennie Road Books

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads

The last person Griffin Shipley expects to find stuck in a ditch on his Vermont country road is his ex-hookup. Five years ago they’d shared a couple of steamy nights together. But that was a lifetime ago.

At twenty-seven, Griff is now the accidental patriarch of his family farm. Even his enormous shoulders feel the strain of supporting his mother, three siblings and a dotty grandfather. He doesn’t have time for the sorority girl who’s shown up expecting to buy his harvest at half price.

Vermont was never in Audrey Kidder’s travel plans. Neither was Griff Shipley. But she needs a second chance with the restaurant conglomerate employing her. Okay—a fifth chance. And no self-righteous lumbersexual farmer will stand in her way.

They’re adversaries. They want entirely different things from life. Too bad their sexual chemistry is as hot as Audrey’s top secret enchilada sauce, and then some.
 
Review

Now, I want to visit Vermont. It sounds so amazing. Although I do live in Apple Country already. Sarina Bowen just knows how to grip me.

This was a cute story with a whole cast of characters. I really enjoyed Griff's family. And I'm so happy the other two books are about Zach and Jude because I'm pretty intrigued. There's some serious elements, but overall it's a cute and sexy romance.

Griff is kind of broody, but is actually very caring and passionate. He's never afraid of his feelings for Audry. And he obviously cares for his family, the farm, and his workers. That's very attractive in a man.

And Audry's pretty likeable, too. She's a little repetitive when it comes to her mommy issues, but I didn't find that particularly annoying. She was actually pretty relatable because she doesn't have everything easy.

I already bought and downloaded the next book because I NEED to know more about Jude.

Thanks for reading!
Holly

Friday, October 7, 2016

Review: The Shadows by J.R. Ward

21849362
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood Book #13
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 590
Rating: 4 Stars 
How I Got It: Borrowed from the library
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Vampires
Publisher: Signet

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads
 
Trez “Latimer” doesn’t really exist. And not just because the identity was created so that a Shadow could function in the underbelly of the human world. Sold by his parents to the Queen of the S’Hsibe as a child, Trez escaped the Territory and has been a pimp and an enforcer in Caldwell, NY for years- all the while on the run from a destiny of sexual servitude. He’s never had anyone he could totally rely on... except for his brother, iAm.

iAm’s sole goal has always been to keep his brother from self-destructing- and he knows he’s failed. It’s not until the Chosen Serena enters Trez’s life that the male begins to turn things around... but by then it’s too late. The pledge to mate the Queen’s daughter comes due and there is nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, and no negotiating.

Trapped between his heart and a fate he never volunteered for, Trez must decide whether to endanger himself and others- or forever leave behind the female he’s in love with. But then an unimaginable tragedy strikes and changes everything. Staring out over an emotional abyss, Trez must find a reason to go on or risk losing himself and his soul forever. And iAm, in the name of brotherly love, is faced with making the ultimate sacrifice...


Review

I knew how I was going to rate this until the last 100 pages. Then, I was thrown for a loop.

My thing about this and the previous couple of books is how many storylines there are. It gets confusing and then some seem to disappear. It also felt like a lot of set-up for The Beast and Blood Kiss.

About half-way in I started to really enjoy it. I got very invested in Trez and iAm. And Paradise-I'm very excited to read her story.

Trez and iAm have always interested in me. They've been kind of mysterious figures so it was great to get into their heads. It would be easy to compare them to the other brothers-Z and Phury. They do have some similarities, but this is a different story.

There were definitely some serious romantic relationships going on here. And I was actually invested in all of them. Which was actually a writing accomplishment. Without spoilers let me say this: it was one hell of a roller-coaster.

I felt like these books were getting a little boring, but I'm now fully invested again. I need the next book ASAP and wanted to go in for a re-read of the earlier books especially Rhage and Mary's book.

Thanks for reading!
Holly

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Review: Fortune's Pawn by Rachel Bach

15790894
Series: Paradox Book #1
Format: Trade Paperback
Pages: 320
Rating: 4 Stars
How I Got It: Borrowed from the Library
Genre: Sci-Fi, Futuristic
Publisher: Orbit

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads
 
Devi Morris isn't your average mercenary. She has plans. Big ones. And a ton of ambition. It's a combination that's going to get her killed one day - but not just yet.
That is, until she just gets a job on a tiny trade ship with a nasty reputation for surprises. The Glorious Fool isn't misnamed: it likes to get into trouble, so much so that one year of security work under its captain is equal to five years everywhere else. With odds like that, Devi knows she's found the perfect way to get the jump on the next part of her Plan. But the Fool doesn't give up its secrets without a fight, and one year on this ship might be more than even Devi can handle.


Review

I normally picture the books I'm reading in my head, but this was like a full-blown movie. I attribute that mostly to Ms. Bach's world building, but I have watched a lot of Sci-Fi shows with bad-ass women-BSG, Killjoys, Dark Matter, Firefly, etc. The characters were fantastic and I'm invested in these characters and their story so hard.

Really the world is the star for me. It's so developed and explained in such an easy way. Ms. Bach touches on some tiny things that help make it feel real. Like details about different species I wouldn't even think about. A lot of times, Sci-Fi stories just have humans or humanoid creatures.

All that being said Devi is solid. She's actually a pretty well-balanced bad-ass which you don't always see I don't have a lot in common with her, but I still respect her. She's smart and kind even if she's a little reckless.

The side characters were also done well. Rupert and Nova are probably my favorites. Ms. Bach did a great job of laying groundwork so I'm curious about them, but didn't do too much. Which right now I'm pretty frustrated about.

I have no idea were this is going but I'm definitely excited to go on the journey.

Thanks for reading!
Holly

Monday, October 3, 2016

Review: Brown-Eyed Girl by Lisa Kleypas

18126966
Series: Travis Family Book #4
Format: Hardcover
Pages:
Rating: 4 Stars
How I Got It: Borrowed from the library
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Piatkus

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads
 
Wedding planner Avery Crosslin may be a rising star in Houston society, but she doesn't believe in love--at least not for herself. When she meets wealthy bachelor Joe Travis and mistakes him for a wedding photographer, she has no intention of letting him sweep her off her feet. But Joe is a man who goes after what he wants, and Avery can't resist the temptation of a sexy southern charmer and a hot summer evening.

After a one night stand, however, Avery is determined to keep it from happening again. A man like Joe can only mean trouble for a woman like her, and she can't afford distractions. She's been hired to plan the wedding of the year--a make-or-break event.

But complications start piling up fast, putting the wedding in jeopardy, especially when shocking secrets of the bride come to light. And as Joe makes it clear that he's not going to give up easily, Avery is forced to confront the insecurities and beliefs that stem from a past she would do anything to forget.

The situation reaches a breaking point, and Avery faces the toughest choice of her life. Only by putting her career on the line and risking everything--including her well-guarded heart--will she find out what matters most.


Review

After like a year I finally picked this up. It isn't my favorite in the series, but it was a solid book. Plus, it was nice to spend time with the Travis family again.

Avery was an interesting POV character. She's very realistic in appearance and has some of the same insecurities as me. I appreciate that she is open to some change in her appearance but for herself not someone else.

Joe was truly amazing and I wish we got his POV. He seems like such a beta and that makes me want to see more about his life perspective. He's such a kind and generous guy.

They do have chemistry and a nice relationship. It's not often that you see characters get to know each other. But it could've been more in depth when they had to face conflict.

Actually that's how the whole book felt. There were a lot of interesting story-lines, but they weren't explored as much as I would've liked. The other books in this series had a lot of emotional depth which is why it was a little bit of a let down from this one.

But it's still a decent Lisa Kleypas book and I recommend it.

Thanks for reading!
Holly


Friday, September 30, 2016

Review: Lover Eternal by J.R. Ward

35729
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood Book #2
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Pages: 441
Rating: 5 Stars
How I Got It: Purchased
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Signet

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads

Within the brotherhood, Rhage is the vampire with the strongest appetites. He's the best fighter, the quickest to act on his impulses, and the most voracious lover-for inside him burns a ferocious curse cast by the Scribe Virgin. Owned by this dark side, Rhage fears the time when his inner dragon is unleashed, making him a danger to everyone around him.

Mary Luce, a survivor of many hardships is unwittingly thrown into the vampire world and reliant on Rhage's protection. With a life-threatening curse of her own, Mary is not looking for love. She lost her faith in miracles years ago. But when Rhage's intense animal attraction turns into something more emotional, he knows that he must make Mary his alone. And while their enemies close in, Mary fights desperately to gain life eternal with the one she loves...
 

Review

After reading some of the more recent books J.R. Ward books I was feeling like a re-read. Especially after The Beast I wanted to go back to the beginning of Rhage and Mary's relationship. Now, to be honest, whenever I re-read these I typically skip the Lesser sections. I'm here for the inter-personal relationships.

I actually forgot a lot about this book. Mary is a really great heroine who has to go through a lot. But she truly cares about other people and it's nice to see how intrinsic that is to her character. Definitely, an alpha who is super-protective, but that's expected in this world.

Reading this made me want to re-read Lover Awakened, too. First, there's just something so beautiful about these early books and the relationships between the Brotherhood. Plus, the chemistry between Zsadist and Bella is so strong.

I freaking love these books.

Thanks for reading!
Holly

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Review: The Beast by J.R. Ward

25293695
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood Book #14
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 508
Rating: 4 Stars
How I Got It: Borrowed from Library
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: NAL

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads

Nothing is as it used to be for the Black Dagger Brotherhood. After avoiding war with the Shadows, alliances have shifted and lines have been drawn. The slayers of the Lessening Society are stronger than ever, preying on human weakness to acquire more money, more weapons, more power. But as the Brotherhood readies for an all-out attack on them, one of their own fights a battle within himself…

For Rhage, the Brother with the biggest appetites, but also the biggest heart, life was supposed to be perfect—or at the very least, perfectly enjoyable. Mary, his beloved shellan, is by his side and his King and his brothers are thriving. But Rhage can’t understand—or control—the panic and insecurity that plague him…

And that terrifies him—as well as distances him from his mate. After suffering mortal injury in battle, Rhage must reassess his priorities—and the answer, when it comes to him, rocks his world...and Mary’s. But Mary is on a journey of her own, one that will either bring them closer together or cause a split that neither will recover from...
 

Review

I love Rhage and Mary. They are my second favorite couple in the series, so I was super excited about this book. But I was a teeny bit let down. It was kind of slow and had too many unresolved things for me.

Even though this was slow, I liked how parenthood is explored. There is definitely baby fever running through the mansion. Seeing Rhage and Mary work through their inability to have kids is one of the best parts of the story. But Ms. Ward also explored a couple who doesn't want children and was showed as a valid life choice.

The relationship between Bitty and Rhage was so adorable. I hope this series continues for years just to see her turn into a teenage girl.

I'm actually getting really into the Layla/Xcor story line. I read the next book will be about them and I'm curious to see how this progresses. I'm also finally liking Assail. I have not idea what will happen with him, but I'm curious to find out.

Thanks for reading!
Holly

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Top 10 Tuesday: Fall TBR

Top 10 Tuesday was created by the Broke and the Bookish. You can find more information here
TBRs scare me at the best of times, but my reading has been so random in the last six months that it's extra scary. But I still wanted to make this list. Lately, I've been reading a lot more, so perhaps I'll actually read one or two of these this fall.

As per usual, this list is in no particular order.

Oh, and some of these I own and some I don't. 

1) The Goal by Elle Kennedy
28262024 
 
2) Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon
5364 
 
3) Fire Study by Maria V. Snyder
1966969 
 
4) Cream of the Crop by Alice Clayton
25056216 
 
5) Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger
10874177 
 
6) Keepsake by Sarina Bowen
29087466 
 
7) Any Duchess will Do by Tessa Dare (This would be a re-read)
15724338 
 
8) Irresisitbly Yours by Lauren Layne
 
23395414
9) No Good Dragon Goes Unpunished by Rachel Aaron
26116636 
 
10) Heaven's Queen by Rachel Bach
18295835

Thanks for reading!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Review: The Blood Kiss by J.R. Ward

24903031
Series: Black Dagger Legacy Book #1
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Pages: 397
Rating: 4 stars
How I Got It: Borrowed from Library
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Signet

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads

Paradise, blooded daughter of the king’s First Advisor, is ready to break free from the restrictive life of an aristocratic female. Her strategy? Join the Black Dagger Brotherhood’s training center program and learn to fight for herself, think for herself…be herself. It’s a good plan, until everything goes wrong. The schooling is unfathomably difficult, the other recruits feel more like enemies than allies, and it’s very clear that the Brother in charge, Butch O’Neal, a.k.a. the Dhestroyer, is having serious problems in his own life.

And that’s before she falls in love with a fellow classmate. Craeg, a common civilian, is nothing her father would ever want for her, but everything she could ask for in a male. As an act of violence threatens to tear apart the entire program, and the erotic pull between them grows irresistible, Paradise is tested in ways she never anticipated—and left wondering whether she’s strong enough to claim her own power…on the field, and off.
 
Review

This actually reminded me a lot of the early Black Dagger Brotherhood books. I don't know what the spin is, but I wouldn't read this without reading the first BDB books.There's the obvious spoilers, but I actually don't think those are that bad. I think you would need more backstory on the world than this provides.

There are three kind of overlapping plots--it's kind of like a three-circle Venn Diagram. The most minor is a murder-mystery. It was kind of just thrown together and was very predictable.

I actually kind of liked the Butch/Marissa story line. They have never been my favorite couple, but this kind of raised their stock. And they faced some very real relationship struggles. Ms. Ward seems to be doing this more which I liked. It makes the couples feel more developed.

Then, there's the Paradise/Craeg romance. This is what I actually came for and probably is my favorite. It's definitely insta-lovey, but that's how these vampires actually work. The chemistry was spot-on. And Paradise is great. She has a physical strength which is built on a strong mental will. And she has so much generosity. Her  relationship with her dad also melts my heart. Craeg is also interesting, but she just overshadows him.

I'm very excited about the potential of this series. There is so much groundwork for this to turn into another found-family series. I love those and nothing would make me happier than to see that happen.

Thanks for reading!
Holly

Friday, September 23, 2016

Review: First and Then by Emma Mills

23310751
Stand Alone
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 267
Rating: 3 Stars
How I Got It: Borrowed from Library
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads
 
Devon Tennyson wouldn't change a thing. She's happy watching Friday night games from the bleachers, silently crushing on best friend Cas, and blissfully ignoring the future after high school. But the universe has other plans. It delivers Devon's cousin Foster, an unrepentant social outlier with a surprising talent for football, and the obnoxiously superior and maddeningly attractive star running back, Ezra, right where she doesn't want them: first into her P.E. class and then into every other aspect of her life.

Pride and Prejudice meets Friday Night Lights in this contemporary novel about falling in love with the unexpected boy, with a new brother, and with yourself.


Review

Honestly, I'm all over the place with this one. I wasn't feeling it, then I got into it, but I ended fairly disappointed. There was just so much left unexplored.

My biggest problem was that I couldn't fully connect with Devon. She fell a little flat and I don't know who she really is. What is she passionate about? What scares her? Why does she want to be friends with the people she's friends with? Most of the time she felt more like a storyteller than a protagonist.

I actually really liked most of the other characters-Jordan, Foster, Ezra, Marabelle. I want to know so much more about them and all of their relationships. There are so many unresolved questions.

While I'm a sucker for romance and do like this one, my favorite relationship is the one between Foster and Devon. When she was with him she felt very developed and real. And it's the kind of relationship I'm not used to reading about.

In the end, I'm confused if this book is weak or not the writing style fo rme. So, if the synopsis interests you I would pick it up-maybe at the library.

Thanks for reading!
Holly

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Review: Bared to You by Sylvia Day

20448515
Series: Crossfire Book #1
Format: Trade Paperback
Pages: 334
Rating: 3 Stars
How I Got It: Borrowed from Library
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Erotica
Publisher: Berkley

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads

He was beautiful and brilliant, jagged and white-hot. I was drawn to him as I'd never been to anything or anyone in my life. I craved his touch like a drug, even knowing it would weaken me. I was flawed and damaged, and he opened those cracks in me so easily
Gideon "knew." He had demons of his own. And we would become the mirrors that reflected each others most private wounds and desires.
The bonds of his love transformed me, even as I prayed that the torment of our pasts didn't tear us apart 
 
Review

This is a tough one, but I kind of assumed that going in. I don''t think I can review this honestly without spoilers. I'll be as vague as I can but no promises.

This book is compared to Fifty Shades a lot, but I think that's not a very good comparison. We can't just compare all billionaire story lines which is what I feel like is the only similarity. Well, and that it's a highly dysfunctional relationship. But these characters seem to acknowledge that. We'll see if they actually do anything about it and grow.

I was getting a little frustrated because they are either fighting or fuc...having sex. I am not a fan of this.

Eva has a lot of potential. She is a strong personality and ambitious, which I like. But the minute Gideon shows up she loses it. I just don't get it-she isn't even the innocent virgin so she doesn't even have that excuse.

And this was incredibly addicting. Even when I was pulling my hair out in frustration. How do authors do that?

I do plan on continuing this series. The reason for that and my three-star rating is the discussion questions at the end. They suggested an acknowledgement of the unhealthy aspects of the story. So, I'm optimistic this will be addressed throughout the series.

Thanks for reading!
Holly

Monday, September 19, 2016

Review: Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie

1191143
Stand Alone
Format: Trade Paperback
Pages: 337
Rating: 4 Stars
How I Got It: Borrowed from Library
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: St. Martin's Press

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads

Minerva Dobbs knows how to work the odds.
Calvin Morrisey always plays to win.

But when they face off, neither one is prepared.
Because when real life meets true love, all bets are off. . . .

Minerva Dobbs knows that happily-ever-after is a fairy tale, especially with a man who asked her to dinner to win a bet, even if he is gorgeous and successful Calvin Morrisey. Cal knows commitment is impossible, especially with a woman as cranky as Min Dobbs, even if she does wear great shoes and keep him on his toes. When they say good-bye at the end of their evening, they cut their losses and agree never to see each other again.

But fate has other plans, and it's not long before Min and Cal meet again. Soon they're dealing with a jealous ex-boyfriend, Krispy Kreme doughnuts, a determined psychologist, chaos theory, a freakishly intelligent cat, Chicken Marsala, and more risky propositions than either of them ever dreamed of. Including the biggest gamble of all---true love.
Bet Me is the winner of a 2005 RITA Award


Review
 
I've been hearing about this for years. People talk about it being the best romance novel or it being the one that made them love the genre. But I have a general aversion to bet story lines. Somehow, I was finally worn down and picked this up at the library.

It is a good book and I read it in one sitting. But it was a little too long for me. I kept waiting for something to happen and it got kind of frustrating.

The characters were great. I totally relate to Min and I'm sure a lot of women do. It's always nice to read about a "normal" woman. She's also full of sass. Cal is also a well-developed character, Then, there's all the fantastic friendships. I always love books that incorporate positive relationships-especially between women.

It's easy to see why people really like this. My mom apparently loved it. And I would recommend it, but I wouldn't call it a favorite or necessarily put it in my romance conversion kit.

Thanks for reading!
Holly

Friday, September 16, 2016

Review: Some Kind of Perfect by Krista and Becca Ritchie

26148181
Series: Calloway Sisters 4.5
Format: Ebook
Rating: 5 Stars
How I Got It: Purchased
Genre: Contemporary Romance, New Adult
Publisher: Self-published

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads
 
The conclusion to the epic ten-book series about the unbreakable strength of family, friendship, and love.

Lily & Lo are back one final time. Childhood best friends and soul mates.

Ryke & Daisy are back one final time. Wild risk-takers and flirty adventurers.

Connor & Rose are back one final time. Genius rivals and intellectual teammates.

Ten years of laughter. Of heartache. And love.


Review

Reviewing a book like this is incredibly hard. I feel like this is my family and I'm saying good-bye. Plus, it isn't necssarily a complete story. It's more a series of vignettes. It's 600+ pages of Calloway port-not that way Lily;) There is some of that, too.

I've spent so much time with these characters. I feel like they are my friends. They've been there during some hard times. And have taught me so much about my life and myself-sometimes not good things. So how do you rate something that feels like it's become a part of your DNA?

I will say that it was great to see the gang growing up and having children. Life isn't all gumdrops and rainbows and they face those struggles head on. So many kids were introduced and are all their own characters. I'm constantly amazed by the talent of Krista and Becca Ritchie. I already care so much about these children that I can't wait for Damaged Like Us. Moffy is my favorite so far.

If you loved the Addicted and Calloway Sisters books like me you will probably love this. It is a massive epilogue. It is the kind of book I wish more authors would write.

Thanks for reading!
Holly

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Review: Asking for More by Lilah Pace

28965944
Series: Asking for It #2.5
Format: Ebook
Rating: 5 Stars
How I Got It: Purchased
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Erotica
Publisher: InterMix

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads

Finally sure of each other's strength and love, Jonah and Vivienne continue to explore their darkest fantasies together. However, what should be a night of ecstasy takes a dangerous turn, injuring Vivienne. She shrugs off the incident, but Jonah is haunted by it, particularly by the fear that others may believe he abuses her, or even glimpse the truth of their erotic obsession.

Then Jonah receives a call from his younger sister, Rebecca, who's dealing with trouble of her own in South America. When Vivienne travels with him to aid Rebecca, she learns yet more about his tortured history—and Jonah opens up to Vivienne as never before.

Can Vivienne help Jonah cast off the shadows of his past forever? 
 
Review

I feel like a horrible person for not knowing this was a thing. So, a few minutes after I found out, I bought and read it. And I really enjoyed it. It's a novella and really just a big epilogue which the Lord knows I'm a fan of.

Honestly, it was just really nice to spend time with these characters again. I kind of forgot how much I love them. And there's still an exploration about how fantasies surround non-consensual sex work in a relationship.

This isn't anything groundbreaking, but it's a nice fairly cute read. There are still some dark elements, but the overall tone is fairly light.

Thanks for reading!
Holly

Monday, September 12, 2016

Review: A Lady to by Midnight by Tessa Dare

13061255
Series: Spindle Cove Book #3
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Pages: 374
Rating: 4  Stars
How I Got It: Purchased
Genre: Historical Romance, Small-Town,
Publisher: Avon

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads
 
After years of fending for herself, Kate Taylor found friendship and acceptance in Spindle Cove—but she never stopped yearning for love. The very last place she'd look for it is in the arms of Corporal Thorne. The militia commander is as stone cold as he is brutally handsome. But when mysterious strangers come searching for Kate, Thorne steps forward as her fiancĂ©. He claims to have only Kate's safety in mind. So why is there smoldering passion in his kiss?

Long ago, Samuel Thorne devoted his life to guarding Kate's happiness. He wants what's best for her, and he knows it's not marriage to a man like him. To outlast their temporary engagement, he must keep his hands off her tempting body and lock her warm smiles out of his withered heart. It's the toughest battle of this hardened warrior's life . . . and the first he seems destined to lose.


Review

In some ways, this book has my catnip all over it. But for some reason I can't put by finger on I'm not really into it.

Thorne was great. He's got a well-developed and I get him. Plus, it's always nice to see a story explore the impact of war on people. And I've always liked Kate, but she became a little immature. Not necessarily in the way you might think. It's like someone attractive shows her attention and she turns into a lost little girl. I do think they love each other, but it could've been done a little better.

There is less of the awesomeness that is Spindle Cove in this one, but I still love Spindle Cove. And naturally, I will keep reading. This was still a good book and Tessa Dare is a great writer.

Thanks for reading!
Holly

Friday, September 9, 2016

Review: The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima

6342491
Series: Seven Realms Book #1
Format: Paperback
Pages: 506
Rating: 4 Stars
How I Got It: Borrowed from the Library
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: Hyperion

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads
 
Times are hard in the mountain city of Fellsmarch. Reformed thief Han Alister will do almost anything to eke out a living for his family. The only thing of value he has is something he can't sell—the thick silver cuffs he's worn since birth. They're clearly magicked—as he grows, they grow, and he's never been able to get them off.

One day, Han and his clan friend, Dancer, confront three young wizards setting fire to the sacred mountain of Hanalea. Han takes an amulet from Micah Bayar, son of the High Wizard, to keep him from using it against them. Soon Han learns that the amulet has an evil history—it once belonged to the Demon King, the wizard who nearly destroyed the world a millennium ago. With a magical piece that powerful at stake, Han knows that the Bayars will stop at nothing to get it back.

Meanwhile, Raisa ana'Marianna, princess heir of the Fells, has her own battles to fight. She's just returned to court after three years of freedom in the mountains—riding, hunting, and working the famous clan markets. Raisa wants to be more than an ornament in a glittering cage. She aspires to be like Hanalea—the legendary warrior queen who killed the Demon King and saved the world. But her mother has other plans for her...

The Seven Realms tremble when the lives of Hans and Raisa collide, fanning the flames of the smoldering war between clans and wizards.


Review
Umm...I'm struggling with this one. Not a lot happened but that doesn't really bother me. And it was fairly precitable. I guessed everything that came out. I do think the world is flushed out but I don't know enough. Even a map would've helped me.

I did like the writing. It was descriptive without being over the top. And it was well paced. I didn't feel rushed or bored at any point.

Generally, I liked the characters. I feel like Raisa and Han are the main characters but I like the other characters more. They both frustrated me sometimes. But Amon really interests me. and I really want to know more about the historical characters like Hanalea and The Demon King. Crossing my fingers that it will happen.

I do want to keep reading the series and I'm sure I will get some of the things I felt were missing from this one. Plus, politics and intrigue may be on the table and those are some of my favorites.

Thanks for reading!
Holly

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Review: Made For You by Lauren Layne

21489269
Series: The Best Mistake #2
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Pages: 320
Rating: 2.5 Stars
How I Got It: Borrowed from Library
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Forever

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads
 
Will Thatcher is exactly the type of sexy playboy good girls like Brynn have always avoided. And yet there was still something about him she just couldn't resist. When Will moved across the country three years ago, Brynn vowed it was time to put him behind her. She never thought Will might have other plans . . .

Back in town, Will intends to get what he's always wanted-gorgeous, unforgettable Brynn. For years, he tormented the untouchable ice princess in a desperate bid for her attention. Now he has a new plan, and he'll do anything to rewrite their stormy past. This time, he's out to show Brynn that the imperfect man might be the best mistake of her life . . .


Review

This was a little frustrating. Brynn kind of got on my nerves and was a little oblivious to everything going on around her. And it had some of the bickering couple thing I love but it wasn't done particularly well.

I think if more time had been spent in Will's head I would've given this a higher rating. He definitely the more likeable character. Plus, I feel like I didn't get to know him because Brynn is so blind. Even if it was just in the flashbacks. So many chapters start with a look at Brynn's past/childhood and I think if some of them were for Will it would have added something.

Will comes across more as a prop in Brynn's development but she didn't develop particularly well. I don't completely love were she ends up but that isn't my issue. Instead it's that I don't understand why she made the decisions she made. This is especially bad because so little time is spent with Will. So Brynn should really shine.

This was a very fast read and I didn't hate it. But I also wouldn't necessarily recommend it. I've read better by this author and fell like this shows how she has become a better writer over the years.

Thanks for reading!
Holly

Monday, September 5, 2016

August Wrap-Up (2016)

August really flew by. I think a huge part of that is that work was busy. This is already our busy season and this is the worst I've seen it in my five years there. So, I've been working a lot of overtime. This cuts into a lot of free time including reading.

I have to prioritize other things like sleep. Especially when I have to be 100% at work.

So, I read six books. It could've been better, but I'm not disappointed. Probably doesn't hurt that I finally read a few books by two of my favorite authors. And all but one of them (which was a re-read) were library books.

Below are the books I read and their ratings.

The Shadows-4 Stars
21849362

Blood Kiss-4 Stars
24903031

The Beast-4 Stars
25293695

Lover Eternal-5 Stars
35729

Brown-Eyed Girl-4 Stars
18126966

Fortune's Pawn-4 Stars
15790894

Thanks for reading!
Holly

Friday, September 2, 2016

Review: A Week to be Wicked by Tessa Dare

11738128
Series: Spindle Cove Book #2
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Pages: 356
Rating: 4.5 Stars
How I Got It: Purchased
Genre: Historical Romance, Small-town
Publisher: Avon

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads
 
Minerva Highwood, one of Spindle Cove's confirmed spinsters, needs to be in Scotland.

Colin Sandhurst, Lord Payne, a rake of the first order, needs to be... anywhere but Spindle Cove.

These unlikely partners have one week to
• fake an elopement
• convince family and friends they're in "love"
• outrun armed robbers
• survive their worst nightmares
• travel four hundred miles without killing each other
All while sharing a very small carriage by day and an even smaller bed by night.

What they don't have time for is their growing attraction. Much less wild passion. And heaven forbid they spend precious hours baring their hearts and souls.

Suddenly one week seems like exactly enough time to find a world of trouble. And maybe... just maybe... love.


Review

I remember really liking this the first time I read it. But I didn't remember much else. This made this re-read exciting, but a little scary. What if I was disappointed?

It's easy to see from my star-rating I wasn't. This book has so much of my catnip-the bickering couple, emotional trauma, marriage of convenience. It also has some of that small town vibes and no ballroom which is a nice break.

Minerva and Colin are both great characters. And they have fantastic banter. Minerva is very strong and intelligent. And she never loses that which is nice to see. She evolves, but not in a negative way. Then there's Colin. Oh, Colin. He is such a kind person, but no one seems to see that. Ms. Dare really shows how people's expectations can impact you.

I'm not always a fan of stories with forced confinement for the hero and heroine. But this one works. It probably helps that it isn't one location and they put themselves in this situation.

Oh, and there was some sequel bait which the world knows I love. I'm really glad I started to re-read this series, because it's beautiful.

Thanks for reading!
Holly

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Review: Head Over Heels by Jill Shalvis

11350561
Series: Lucky Harbor Book  #3
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Pages: 328
Rating: 4 Stars
How I Got It: Borrowed from the Library
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Forever

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads
 
Free-spirited Chloe lives life on the edge. Unlike her soon-to-be married sisters, she isn't ready to settle into a quiet life running their family's newly renovated inn. But soon her love of trouble--and trouble with love-draws the attention of the very stern, very sexy sheriff who'd like nothing better than to tame her wild ways.

Suddenly Chloe can't take a misstep without the sheriff hot on her heels. His rugged swagger and his enigmatic smile are enough to make a girl beg to be handcuffed. For the first time, instead of avoiding the law, Chloe dreams of surrender. Can this rebel find a way to keep the peace with the straitlaced sheriff? Or will Chloe's colorful past keep her from a love that lasts . . . and the safe haven she truly wants in a town called Lucky Harbor?
 
Review
 
This was a really cute contemporary. It's easy to see why people like Jill Shalvis so much. And I do want to spend more time in Lucky Harbor.

Chloe stole the show for me. She was very easy to like and I really sympathized for her. It's sad that people won't take her seriously. She isn't just a ditzy fool. And her asthma was incorporated very well. It was a serious issue and played a roll in her character.

I don't have any complaints about Sawyer, but I did like Chloe better. They do have good chemistry, but the story wasn't all about that. There were other relationships to be explored.  And it's nice to see a romance that isn't only focused on the hero and heroine.

I'm definitely a sucker for a small-town romance. Ms. Shalvis creates a great world without going over the top with the stereotypical characters.

Thanks for reading!
Holly

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Top 10 Tuesday: College-Set Books

I've been out of college for five years but it is still one of my favorite settings. College wasn't the best-time of my life (or worst) but I'm still drawn to it for some reason. I do think part of it is that I really New Adult-especially good New Adult.
Top 10 Tuesday was created by the Broke and the Bookish. You can find more information here

 
I did put series together because otherwise this would be a list of all Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy. While that would be accurate it isn't very informative.

Like all of my lists these are in more particular order.

1) The Ivy Years Series by Sarina Bowen
2) Off-Campus Series by Elle Kennedy
3) Addicted to You by Krista and Becca Ritchie
4) Wait for You/Trust in Me by Jennifer L. Armentrout
5) Game On Series by Kristen Callihan
6) Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
7) Easy by Tammara Webber
8) Bowler University Series by Megan Erickson

Thanks for reading!
Holly

Friday, August 26, 2016

Review: Paper Princess by Erin Watt

28678119
Series: Royals Book #1
Format: Ebook
Rating: 4 Stars
How I Got It: Purchased
Genre: New Adult
Publisher: Self-published

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads

From strip clubs and truck stops to southern coast mansions and prep schools, one girl tries to stay true to herself.

These Royals will ruin you…

Ella Harper is a survivor—a pragmatic optimist. She’s spent her whole life moving from town to town with her flighty mother, struggling to make ends meet and believing that someday she’ll climb out of the gutter. After her mother’s death, Ella is truly alone.

Until Callum Royal appears, plucking Ella out of poverty and tossing her into his posh mansion among his five sons who all hate her. Each Royal boy is more magnetic than the last, but none as captivating as Reed Royal, the boy who is determined to send her back to the slums she came from.

Reed doesn’t want her. He says she doesn’t belong with the Royals.

He might be right.

Wealth. Excess. Deception. It’s like nothing Ella has ever experienced, and if she’s going to survive her time in the Royal palace, she’ll need to learn to issue her own Royal decrees. 
 
Review

This was definitely an addictive read. I didn't love it and found it a little problematic, but I couldn't put it down. And I do want to read what happens next.

There's a soap opera feeling to this story. And it kind of has an Abbi Glines feel, too. You know the poor helpless girl brought into a world of privilege and alpha males. And the characters are fairly well done or are on their way there.

I don't completely get the romance. But I'll trust them to make me buy it. And I do like a lot of the other relationships Ella has. It might've helped if Reed's POV had been explored.

My issues surround some of the alpha-hole behavior. I trust Elle Kennedy so I'm withholding judgement. Besides they kept straying toward slut shaming and then pulled away. So, the whole thing may be happening on purpose. We'll see when I read the next book.

Thanks for reading!
Holly

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Review: Once Upon a Winter's Eve by Tessa Dare

12974563
Series: Spindle Cove Book 1.5
Format: Ebook
Rating: 5 Stars
How I Got It: Purchased
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Avon

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads

Violet Winterbottom is a quiet girl. She speaks six languages, but seldom raises her voice. She endured bitter heartbreak in perfect silence. The gentlemen aren't beating down her door.

Until the night of the Spindle Cove Christmas ball, when a mysterious stranger crashes into the ballroom and collapses at Violet's feet. His coarse attire and near-criminal good looks would put any sensible young lady on her guard. He's wet, chilled, bleeding, and speaking in an unfamiliar tongue.

Only Violet understands him. And she knows he's not what he seems.

She has one night to draw forth the secrets of this dangerously handsome rogue. Is he a smuggler? A fugitive? An enemy spy? She needs answers by sunrise, but her captive would rather seduce than confess. To learn his secrets, Violet must reveal hers and open herself to adventure, passion, and the unthinkable... Love.

Warning: The heroine packs a pistol, the hero curses in multiple languages, and together they steam up a cold winter s night. "
 
Review

Oh my god, that's probably the best novella I've read. Definitely romance novella. And it was very fast paced-mainly takes place in one night-which is normally a turn-off for me.

I don't want to spoil things, but the characters and their story is beautiful. Ms. Dare took one of my least favorite tropes and made it compelling. Violet definitely stole the show. She has so much sass and strength under her wallflower shell.

And the pacing. This is how you do a well-written romance. The time is so compressed, but the characters face conflicts (internal and external) in a natural way. The romance truly had a beginning, middle, and end (Happily Ever After).

I've said before that writing a novella is a particular skill set and not everyone can do it. But Tessa Dare sure can. I want more of these characters in the best possible way.

Probably, the best compliment I can give this is that I wanted to immediately read it again when I finished it. That doesn't happen very often.

Thanks for reading!
Holly

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

TTT: Books on Your TBR from Before Blogging/YouTube

Top 10 Tuesday was created by the Broke and the Bookish. You can find more information here
 
 
 
To be 100% honest, I've gotten rid of a lot of old books that were on my TBR. Because of that this list is a little small. So, here we go.

1) If You Give a Girl a Viscount
10695787

2) Glitter Baby
1924491

3) How to Entice an Enchantress
17571127

4) The Princess Bride
21787

5) Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister
18943

6) Glamorous Double Life of Isabel Bookbinder
6310524

7) Sexiest Vampire Alive
10428848

8) A Secret in Her Kiss
12193350

Thanks for reading!
Holly

Monday, August 22, 2016

Review: A Night to Surrender by Tessa Dare

10429836
Series: Spindle Cove Book #1
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Pages: 372
Rating: 4 Stars
How I Got It: Purchased
Genre: Historical Romance, Small Town
Publisher: Avon

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads
 
Welcome to Spindle Cove, where the ladies with delicate constitutions come for the sea air, and men in their prime are... nowhere to be found. Or are they?

Spindle Cove is the destination of choice for certain types of well-bred young ladies: the painfully shy, young wives disenchanted with matrimony, and young girls too enchanted with the wrong men; it is a haven for those who live there.

Victor Bramwell, the new Earl of Rycliff, knows he doesn't belong here. So far as he can tell, there's nothing in this place but spinsters... and sheep. But he has no choice, he has orders to gather a militia. It's a simple mission, made complicated by the spirited, exquisite Susanna Finch—a woman who is determined to save her personal utopia from the invasion of Bram's makeshift army.

Susanna has no use for aggravating men; Bram has sworn off interfering women. The scene is set for an epic battle... but who can be named the winner when both have so much to lose?
 
Review

I've read this series before, but I didn't read all of the novellas and it's been a long time. So, I didn't remember much of what happened.

Spindle Cove is amazing. It's like a small-town romance, but historical, which I feel like you don't see that often. There's tons of quirky characters and sequel bait. Oh, there's so much sequel bait.

Honestly, now that I'm writing this I realize I don't have much to say. I find some of Rhys' decision or words problematic. But generally, they are good characters. I cared about them. And it isn't everyday you read a romance between two alpha characters.

My plan is to go through this complete series in order including the novellas. Wish me luck.

Thanks for reading!
Holly

Friday, August 19, 2016

Review: Marrying Winterborne by Lisa Kleypas

26242354
Series: Ravenels Book #2
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Pages: 416
Rating: 4. Stars
How I Got It: Purchased
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Avon

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads
 
A ruthless tycoon

Savage ambition has brought common-born Rhys Winterborne vast wealth and success. In business and beyond, Rhys gets exactly what he wants. And from the moment he meets the shy, aristocratic Lady Helen Ravenel, he is determined to possess her. If he must take her virtue to ensure she marries him, so much the better…

A sheltered beauty

Helen has had little contact with the glittering, cynical world of London society. Yet Rhys’s determined seduction awakens an intense mutual passion. Helen’s gentle upbringing belies a stubborn conviction that only she can tame her unruly husband. As Rhys’s enemies conspire against them, Helen must trust him with her darkest secret. The risks are unthinkable… the reward, a lifetime of incomparable bliss. And it all begins with…

Marrying Mr. Winterborne


Review
The first book in this was good, but this is why Lisa Kleypas should never stop writing historical romances. And the next book?! My favorite characters from my favorite book are coming back.

This felt a lot like an older Kleypas book. I reminded me a lot of Tempt me at Twilight and Secrets of a Summer Night. She really knows how to write a social differences story. And I'm a real sucker for those.

Helen and Rhys are both great characters and they are an enjoyable couple to read about. Rhys is a very well written alpha male. She explores whyhe is that way instead of it just being an alpha-hole. Helen is also fantastic. She is so gentle and kind, but isn't just a push over.

Seriously, if you haven't read a Lisa Kleypas book you need to.

Thanks for reading!
Holly