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Saturday, February 20, 2016

ARC Review: Dared by Kristina Borden

At the very beginning of this book, I had hope that it would be really good. It opens with our introduction to Summer, the heroine. Summer was strong and sassy and I liked that about her initially. But things quickly went off the rails. It didn't take long to discovery that Summer's strength and sassiness crossed the border into extreme drama and hysterical behavior. Let me just give you a hint, Summer can't just break up with a guy. Nope, Summer is burning up a guy's clothes and kicking him out. And you know what the real problem with that is? The fact that the author didn't bother to account for how someone is able to start a fire indoors and keep it contained without burning up the whole building.

Next, we meet Damien and things get even worse. Damien is a manwhore or really just a whore. Ok, no big deal right? We read about these types of guys everyday. The problem in this book is that Damien is banging every random chick he can get his hands on even after Summer re-enters his life. I just don't like to read about the main characters in a book with other people. Even though there is technically no cheating, after Damien and Summer acknowledge their attraction to one another there are still sexy scenes with both of them with other people. That is just a huge turn off for me.

Next problem, by the end of this book, I really didn't like Damien or Summer and I really didn't care about them being together. Summer and Damien act like they are in their late teens instead of in their late 20's. Summer is constantly going on these immature rants and using physical violence to make her points. I'm as violent as the next middle class girl but I wasn't still pulling chicks' hair and kicking guys in the balls after I reached the drinking age. Summer didn't get the 'you are a grown up now' memo. Damien is also more like an 18 year old guy as opposed to a 27 year old guy. The way he treats women and speaks to women was a complete turn off and there was never really anything to mitigate the effect of his assholery.

Next problem, there are a lot of things in this book that just don't make sense. I don't mean sense on a conceptual level, I mean like this book needs some more Beta readers. At one point, Summer goes for a jog in New York, only at the time, she is living in DALLAS. At another point in the book we are supposed to be reading from Summer's POV, but suddenly it's Damien's. At another point, the name of one of the characters changes. Like her name is A in one chapter and B in the next- super confusing. Those are three examples but there was a lot of this going on in the book. Sometimes things like that don't really matter where the story line is particularly strong but in this book, the actual plot needed all the help it could get and it just wasn't forthcoming.

The last big problem (and there are a lot of smaller ones) with this book was that the resolutions of the conflicts were just really rushed and not well conceived. Damien's resolution of his issues from childhood was particularly unsatisfying. It was like he took 2 weeks, snapped his fingers and he figured out a lifetime of dysfunction. And the issue with Summer at the end of the book and how it is handled was just....stupid. Like, I really love my HEA's but they have to be logically connected to what is going on in the story. This one just came out of nowhere.

There was some potential here but in the end we wind up with two really unlikable characters who are intimate with other people in the book, can't control their tempers and have the coping skills of the average 12 year old.

**ARC provided by Author**

Purchase: | Amazon

ARC Review: Make Me a Match Anthology by Melinda Curtis, Cari Lynn Webb, and Anna J. Stewart

Make Me a Match is a short Anthology featuring three interconnected stories from Melinda Curtis, Cari Lynn Webb and Anna J. Stewart. Set in Alaska, Cooper, Ty, and Gideon take a bet to get back in to the hockey world. If they can match 6 couples that find real love, they will get jobs working for one of Coach's teams in the lower 48.

Baby, Baby by Melinda Curtis 

This one didn't work for me at all. It starts out with Cooper Hamilton being surprised with a visit from a one night stand that he does remember arriving in town with a baby she claims is his daughter. Cooper being a complete bachelor wants a paternity test, but the more time he spends with Nora and her daughter Zoe, the more he falls for the baby girl and her mom.

My biggest issue here was that I didn't like Nora. She was extremely judgmental and pretty awful to Cooper for the majority of their story. She showed up out of the blue with a baby and expected him to just accept it and that she would leave again once he handed over money. It really felt like she wouldn't have bothered to tell him at all if she hadn't needed financial support. I honestly saw no connection form between these two with Nora constantly having a negative attitude towards Cooper and making assumptions about him. Cooper was really good with Zoe, and he had been through so much. He came around really quickly for having his life turned upside down yet again, and I wanted Nora to see that. Unfortunately her abrupt change of opinion at the end of the book was too rushed to be believable for me. This one was a miss all around, though I liked Cooper a lot. 

The Matchmaker Wore Skates by Cari Lynn Webb 

I liked this story a little better than the first. Ty Porter is a former pro-hockey player. He was badly injured an a reporter ruined his career with a couple of features she wrote. Now years later as he and his friends have a shot at once again getting back into hockey, she returns looking for another story. Ty and Kelsey once had something together, but with her career on the line, she will do whatever it takes to get her story. 

Once again I had trouble liking the heroine. Kelsey was so determined to be on the top of her career, and she had little to no regard for who she had to step on to get her there. Yes she had some stories that helped others, but it seemed like she was very selfish and only out for her own success. I didn't like how she could do what she did to someone that she knew and had romantic feels for, it just felt like her feelings couldn't have been that genuine if she could turn around a do that to him. She ruined his career and never looked back. While things did feel pretty rushed at the end, I did find it more believable than the first story in this anthology since Kelsey and Ty had more history than Coop and Nora did. I wanted to like these two together since I am a huge fan of second chance romance stories, but it was hard to overcome my dislike of Kelsey. 

Suddenly Sophie by Anna J. Stewart 

This was my favorite story of the anthology! Gideon Walker has a history with Sophie Jennings. He hated having to turn her down for a loan to expand her flower shop, but he knew that her brother would find a way to take the money as he did everything else. But when Sophie comes to him asking to be a part of his matchmaking service, he sets out to find her a match. Except with each new date, he starts to realize that the only person she should be dating is him.

I really liked Sophie and Gideon. They were great for one another, and I liked that they had a bit of a connection going into this story. Sophie was sweet and caring, and loyal to her brother even when he didn't deserve it. While I didn't agree with her letting him get away with as much as she did, it was good to see her stand up to him at the end. He needed some tough love and I was glad she got there. Gideon had been doing his best to look out for her when he could, and I really liked that he had her best interests at heart even if it didn't seem that way at first. This one was cute, and I enjoyed it a lot. 


Overall, there were some cute moments and these were light and easy to read. If you are looking for a set of short and clean romance stories, this is one worth giving a shot. Coop, Ty and Gideon were a lot of fun and I think that readers will enjoy seeing these men try their hand at matchmaking.

**ARC Provided by Author**

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Guest Post with Author Teri Anne Stanley and Giveaway

Teri Anne Stanley began her writing career with scientific articles—followed by a three-ingredient recipe column, but wasn't allowed to write naked parts for them—so now she writes romance.

She's also worked as a fashion designer for female body builders and a sex therapist for rats. In her spare time, she’s a neuroscience research assistant. Along with a variety of offspring and dogs, she and Mr. Stanley live just outside of Sugartit, which is—honest to God—between Beaverlick and Rabbit Hash, Kentucky.

Friday, February 19, 2016

ARC Review: A Friendly Flirtation by Christine Warner

I have to start out with my warning that you are going to be plagued by a sense of deja vu as you are reading this book. If you have ever read a friends-lovers, little sister romance before, this book is going to be very familiar to you. It's not just that, there are also some social themes in this book that are pretty well worn.

Allison is the nerdy girl who aspires to be something more than invisible. Jared is the best friend of Allison's brother who is going to help her be something more than invisible by giving her dating tips (stop me if you've heard this one before). Of course big brother does not care for the budding relationship between Jared and Allison. This is always the part that gets me in these little sister books. The "little sister" is a grown woman and I can never understand why her adult brother would be so involved in her love life or have such a strong objection to her dating. It just seems...weird. Allison's response is what the typical nerdy chick might do, she quits her job (it's a long story but Jared and the brother are business partners and Allison works there too and blah blah blah, drama). Jared quickly discovers his flirtation with Allison was more than that and it's on like donkey kong or whatever.

I really did feel like I had read each aspect of this book several times before. If you read my reviews, you know I don't criticize books just because they remind me of other books and I'm not doing that here. I chose to read this book because I like the little sister, reformed nerdy girl theme. I think this author does a good job with the theme. Allison is a bit timid for my taste but I like Jared and I liked how their relationship developed. Ok, the drama of it all was a bit contrived but it was all in good fun and it made it easy to keep turning the pages of the book. I wish Jared had realized his feelings for Allison sooner but aren't men always the last to know? I'm not going to hold it against him. This book was good fun, fast paced and the characters were sweet. If you are a fan of this sub-genre, I recommend you give this one a try.

**ARC provided by Publisher**

Purchase: | Amazon | B&N | iTunes | Kobo |

ARC Review: Dare to Run by Jen McLaughlin

I'll be honest and admit that I didn't even read the blurb before starting this book. I loved the cover and love Jen McLaughlin, so this was a no-brainer for me. I was surprised to find out that this book deals heavily with gangs and there should be a warning for those readers that have some trigger issues with violence and sexual assault. But Dare to Run was unlike anything I have read from McLaughlin before, and I enjoyed seeing her take on something new. This book was darker than her normal style, and there was quite a bit of grit here. I liked it and it kept me guessing the whole way through. 

Lucas Donahue has just been released from prison. He did his time and kept his mouth shut, but he is ready to leave the gang life behind. He also knows that as much as he wants that, no one gets to just walk away. But when he witnesses the feisty bartender at the bar he frequents being harassed, he ends up starting something he wasn't entirely prepared for. Lucas knows that Heidi needs to get as far away from him as possible, and yet to keep her safe he needs to keep her close. But can he protect her from more than one enemy, especially when he isn't sure of who he can trust? 

I liked Lucas. He was sexy and not afraid to be who he was. He fully embraced his lifestyle and didn't make apologies for who he was. Heidi on the other hand was a bit hard to take at times. While I really loved her standing by Lucas, even when she wasn't comfortable with his lifestyle, I did have some problems with her. She was strong and feisty, yet she was also a bit to brash and often had no regard at all for her safety. Not that I support anyone assaulting women in any way, but at times it wasn't hard to see why she was in the situation she was in. She ran her mouth far too much and it was just so blatant that I couldn't get over it. Her and Lucas definitely had chemistry, but I didn't really care for her character. 

I liked seeing Jen McLaughlin begin to push herself in a new direction, but I did feel like she could have taken it a bit further. There is a lot of promise here though and I wanted to see her really embrace the darkness and make this one a bit grittier. I think that as this series continues, she will do well if she embraces that a bit more. This one was definitely a promising start though, and I loved how she was able to take a story that started as intense and just keep ratcheting that up as things progressed. Jen McLaughlin hit the ground running with this one, and I can't wait to see where things go from here. If you are looking for something with a bit of darkness, grit, and plenty of steamy action this is one I would recommend giving a shot.

**ARC Provided by Publisher**

Purchase: | Amazon | Kindle | B&N | iTunes | 

Feature and Giveaway: A Friendly Flirtation by Christine Warner

One kiss can change your life...

Allison Hall is fed up with being a social outcast. Even at the tech company where she works for her brother and his best friend, Jared, she's the invisible nerdy girl. What she needs is confidence—and that requires a makeover and dating tips. And she knows just the man to help…

Jared Esterly is shocked when Allison asks for his assistance and turns her down, knowing that her brother—his business partner and best friend, Nick—would kill him if he dated her, even if it is just for practice. But when Al’s attempt to make changes on her own fails spectacularly, Jared reluctantly steps in. Things heat up quickly, and soon lessons move from the salon to the bedroom.

When overprotective big-brother Nick discovers Jared is dating Allison, their friendship and business partnership sour. Allison, consumed by guilt, must make a choice: stay with Jared, even though that means ruining his friendship with Nick and possibly his career, or leave the one man who sets her on fire.

Purchase: | Amazon | B&N | iTunes | Kobo |

Thursday, February 18, 2016

ARC Review: Some Sort of Love by Melanie Harlow

Some Sort of Love is the third book in the Happy Crazy Love series from Melanie Harlow. Each book is a standalone story and features a different Nixon sister. This book is about Jillian, and I couldn't wait to get her story. Her story was adorable and on the sweet side, but as with any Melanie Harlow book there was plenty of steam as well. 

Jillian Nixon's life is almost perfect, but the one thing she is missing is the thing she most envies about her They have each found the perfect match and as happy is she is for them, she wants the same for herself. But when she runs into her sexy one night stand from college, the two reconnect and realize that there is still the same spark. Levi Brooks is sexier than ever, but he is also a single father and that leaves little time for anything else. Though things are hotter than ever between them, Levi believes that Jillian deserves more and he won't be enough for her. Jillian knows better and will do whatever it takes to convince him that she wants something more with him and his son Scotty. 

I really liked Jillian and Levi. These two had amazing chemistry right from the start, and they were super hot together. It was clear right away that their connection went beyond that though, and I loved seeing them get to know one another. Because of the situation they didn't have a lot of time together, but they made the most of it. Jillian was really understanding and caring, and I was glad that even when things would change she handled it well. She would of course be upset, but she understood that Scotty was a priority for Levi and was so supportive of him and whatever he needed. She really just wanted to spend her life with Levi and show him that he deserved everything, and I was glad that they were able to take things slow. It felt real and natural, and their relationship was very believable. Levi had a lot of fears and insecurities that he needed to work through, and I felt like Jillian was perfect for him through it all. 

Overall, this was a really good story. There were times that it almost felt a bit too sweet if that is possible. But it was also funny, heartwarming, and of course extremely sexy. I am a huge fan of Melanie Harlow's because each book is such a great balance of everything I look for in a romance. If you are looking for an all around great love story, her books are a must read. I honestly can't wait to see what she writes in the future, and I am looking forward to reading more from her.

**ARC Provided by Gossip Girls PR**

Purchase: | Amazon | B&N

Feature and Giveaway: Wrecked by Sherilee Gray

He’s driving her crazy…

Piper West is finally on her own, and it’s time to get crazy. Except that her overprotective big bro has enlisted his ex-cop best friend to keep an eye on his baby sister. With every move monitored and reported back, Piper’s life has gone from “going crazy” to “being driven crazy.” But a searing-hot kiss with her sexy and scarred watchdog is just the game-changer she needs…

Cole Black owes Piper’s brother big-time, but there’s nothing easy about his new assignment. Piper is all feisty sexiness and curves meant to tempt a man beyond reason, and Cole can’t stop himself. Now he’s caught up in a hunger like nothing he’s ever known, and he can’t get enough…

Even if Piper’s the one girl he’s not allowed to have.

Purchase: | Amazon | B&N | iTunes | Kobo |

Feature and Giveaway: Unexpected Rush by Jaci Burton

In the new Play-By-Play novel by the New York Times bestselling author of All Wound Up, a football hot shot and his best friend’s sister are breaking all the rules.

All the Right Moves

For Barrett Cassidy, playing defense for the Tampa Hawks is a dream come true. And now he may have discovered his dream woman. Harmony Evans, once the sweet, gawky teenage sister of his best friend and teammate has grown into a smart, gorgeous woman with moves he finds hard to resist. But he knows he can’t get involved with his best friend’s sister—it’s guy code.

Harmony has always gone after what she wants with single-minded determination, from her independence to her education to her career in social work. She never expected her youthful crush on Barrett to develop into something deeper. And she’s not about to let some ridiculous man rules or her brother stand in her way.

When the chemistry is this combustible, lines tend to get crossed. And when Barrett and Harmony’s secret gets out, it just might be game over...

Purchase: | Amazon | Kindle | B&N | iTunes |

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

ARC Review: A Convenient Engagement by Kimberly Bell

A Convenient Engagement was a good story but not amazing. There wasn't anything I could think of that really set it apart or made it unique. However, despite its simplicity, it wasn't a disappointing debut. I kept wanting to read it, and the romance between the couple had strong development and was convincing.

Hannah Howard is the textbook strong, independent female. Due to her controlling father, she wasn't allowed to do much or socialize. Now that her father has passed she has moved herself to London and wants to renovate her new town home. Unfortunately, construction can be noisy, and her late night carousing neighbor gets disturbed.

Her rake of a neighbor is Gavan Dalreouch, Earl of Rhone. He marches over there and says a few things making quite a fool of himself. Next thing he knows, he is on the curb after Hannah has punched him. While he feels affronted, Hannah then finds herself being snubbed by polite society.

Gavan feels guilty and comes up with a plan for a false engagement. This will help her get back on the good side of the "Ton". Of course false engagements tend to lead to a lot of face time. They get to know each other and the romance builds. It was sweet.

Hannah's character doesn't grow very much until the very, very end and quite out of nowhere. Her convictions changed very quickly and too easily. I didn't like Gavan at first, but he grew slowly as a character. It was more believable, and soon had me falling for him.

I did like this story, and I think the author has a lot of potential. I really believe in a few more books she will become better and write some amazing romances. I look forward to seeing where she goes from here.

**ARC provided by Publisher**

Purchase: | Amazon | B&N | iTunes |

ARC Review: RoomHate by Penelope Ward

I could not wait to get my hands on RoomHate by Penelope Ward from the moment I first heard about it! Penelope Ward has quickly become one of my favorite authors, with each new story she releases just seeming to get better and better. RoomHate was absolutely everything I had been expecting and hoping for and I really loved it. Penelope Ward is a talented writer that has a way of drawing her readers in and bringing them on an emotional journey that will have you experiencing all the feels. RoomHate was not an easy journey for the characters, but I truly felt like it was so real and exactly as it should have been. 

RoomHate starts with Justin and Amelia both inheriting half of Amelia's Nana's beach house. The two had been close as children and her Nana had always loved Justin. Amelia and Justin were best friends until she found out that he kept something from her and she abruptly left him behind to go and live with her father. Years later they haven't spoken since, but are forced back together because of the house. As both try to find their footing and figure out their new circumstances, Justin shows up at the house with his girlfriend. Though Amelia is jealous and wants Justin more than ever, she can't help but like Jade. 

I really loved the characters here. I was a bit worried with Jade being in the picture, and of course I didn't want to like her. I really did though and I also knew that as great as she was, Justin belonged with Amelia. They had such a strong connection and a ton of history. My heart hurt for all that they had gone through and the pain they had felt, yet I also saw exactly what had happened and it was all so true to life. Life is messy and decisions get made whether they are right or wrong, and the circumstances here felt very real. The one thing that was easy to see though is that no matter what had happened or how each of them had tried to move on, there was so much unresolved and buried between these two that I knew it would come out sooner rather than later. Their chemistry was just too strong and their feelings were intense to not resurface. I never stopped believing that they would find a way back to one another. 

Overall, I really can't get into the details of this story without spoiling anything but I thought that it was perfect. I felt like these characters ended up exactly where they were meant to and everything that had happened was for a reason. Penelope Ward writes such emotional stories that you can't help but feel emotionally invested in, and RoomHate was a perfect example of that. My emotions were all over the place and yet I couldn't get enough! I highly recommend RoomHate or any of Penelope Ward's books and I honestly can't wait to read more from her in the future.

**ARC Provided by TRSOR Promotions**

Purchase: | Amazon | B&N | iTunes