Saturday, December 19, 2015

Audiobook Review: The Deal by Elle Kennedy, Narrated by Lorelei Avalon

I absolutely love the Off-Campus series from Elle Kennedy, and I couldn't wait to listen to The Deal narrated by Lorelei Avalon. This was my first experience with her as a narrator, so while I knew what to expect when it came the story I didn't know what I was in for as far as a listening experience. Though Lorelei Avalon wasn't my favorite narrator I have listened to, I love this story so much that I still enjoyed the experience. I have to say that I'm not convinced she was the right choice for this book though, and I wish that there had been a different narrator chosen to bring this story to life. 

Hannah Wells is surprised to finally have found a guy that makes her hot after a horrible incident in her past. The only problem is that he has no idea she's alive. When the star of the hockey team Garrett Graham asks for her help, at first she says no. But when he figures out that she is hot for a football player, he proposes a deal where in exchange for tutoring he will pretend date her to get her crush to notice her. Hannah finally agrees, and she begins spending more time with Garrett in order to help him pass their midterm. But soon they are both starting to feel the lines blur between pretend and real, and Garrett starts to realize that he needs to convince her that what she really wants is him. 

I absolutely love Garrett and Hannah! Garrett is sexy and charming. He is cocky in a likable way and I love that he isn't a jerk. Not only is he a talented athlete though, but he is super smart. I really like that he isn't your typical jock. He is more than just the sexy guy that is a great hockey player, and there is a lot more to him. He is such a well rounded character and I think that Elle Kennedy did a great job of giving him a ton of depth and making him easy to feel invested in. Hannah is smart and witty, and easy to relate to. She made Garret work for it and it was so fun to watch these two. The tension and chemistry between them is so strong and the sparks were flying between them right from the start. 

The one thing that I will say though is that I felt like the narrator wasn't able to really convey the witty banter and how fun and flirty these two could be. This didn't have the same feel as reading the book did, and I think a lot of that was because the voice didn't fit the story. Not only did the narrator do both the male and female POVs, but her voice was older and too robotic for this story. I really like when audiobooks use a male and female narrator for a dual POV story, so I was really disappointed that this audiobook did not. I felt like that was a huge missed opportunity and it really hurt my enjoyment here. Lorelei Avalon's voice was already older than the college/NA aged characters and came off as robotic, so when you have her doing a male's voice and her tone goes even deeper it just came off as odd. Usually I love audiobook versions of my favorite stories since they bring the books alive in a way that simply reading them can't. But unfortunately this wasn't what I had hoped for with The Deal. While I didn't necessarily care for this narrator or version of the audiobook, I found myself lost in the story regardless. The Deal is one of my all-time favorites and no matter what it is just such a fun and enjoyable read that it is impossible to ruin the experience. I highly recommend this book and if you prefer to listen to your books, then I would still give the audiobook a shot. But if you have the choice, I think that this book is much better read traditionally since the audiobook doesn't do the story justice in my opinion.

**Audiobook Provided by Publisher**

Purchase: | Audiobook | Amazon | Kindle | B&N | Book Depository | iTunes | 

A Scandalous Proposal...with Darcy Burke and Giveaway

Darcy Burke is the USA Today bestselling author of hot, action-packed historical and sexy, emotional contemporary romance. Darcy wrote her first book at age 11, a happily-ever-after about a swan addicted to magic and the female swan who loved him, with exceedingly poor illustrations.

A native Oregonian, Darcy lives on the edge of wine country with her guitar-strumming husband, their two hilarious kids-who each seem to have inherited the writing gene in some form-and two Bengal cats. In her "spare" time Darcy is a serial volunteer enrolled in a 12-step program where one learns to say "no," but she keeps having to start over. Her happy places are Disneyland and Labor Day weekend at the Gorge.

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ARC Review: Undeniable by C.A. Harms

C.A. Harms is one of my absolute favorites at this point and I really enjoy her books. That being said, I really couldn't wait to get my hands on Jude's book! I knew there was so much more to him than what we had seen and I couldn't wait to dig deeper when it came to what made him who he is. I really liked Jude's story and it was great to finally get to know more about him. Undeniable is the fourth book in the Key West series and fans will love to see familiar faces. But if you haven't read any of the previous books, this book is a complete standalone and you will have no problems understanding anything. 

Jude has always kept his life as private as possible, choosing not to let many people in. He knows what can happen when you do, and he has seen enough hurt to know that he will do whatever it takes to make sure his family never has to go through loving and losing again. Jude has also seen the interest Callie has shown in him, and he knows that he has to keep her at arm's length because she could very easily get under his skin. But when the unexpected happens and Jude is forced to allow others into his life, Callie is determined to help him and his family. Can Jude allow Callie into his life and heart, or will he continue to push her away?

I really liked Jude and Callie together. These two were perfect for one another. They were sweet and supportive and it was obvious just how well they worked together. Callie was so kind and good-natured, and I don't think I have ever seen a heroine with more heart than her. She is one of those characters that you just instantly love. Jude on the other hand started off really gruff and rude, but it was all a front to try and protect himself. He lashed out when he felt cornered or as though others were doing something out of pity when it concerned him, so it was really nice to see him start to rely on those around him more. He had a great support system and group of friends, and loved that he started to open up to them and let them in. 

Overall, this was a great story filled with love and friendship. It was an emotional read, and while it was uplifting and heartwarming, it was also sad. It was so good though, and I knew C.A. Harms would do the story and characters justice here. While I did love this book, the one thing I will say is that for me it did feel a little rushed. Callie and Jude's relationship changed very suddenly as did Jude's whole attitude towards her. While I believed that he always had feelings for her, it did seem like he just flipped a switch and decided to be with her. I would have liked a little more build-up between them so as not to feel like it just went from zero to sixty in no time at all. As much as I loved them, it just wasn't truly believable for them to go from nothing to everything. I still think that C.A. Harms is a fantastic writer though, and I love the emotion she brings to her stories. I can't recommend her books enough, and Undeniable is one that I think readers will really enjoy.

**ARC Provided by Enticing Journey Book Promotions**

Purchase: | Amazon | Kindle | B&N

Friday, December 18, 2015

ARC Review: Dear Professor by Blaire Drake

Dear Professor is the debut novel for Blaire Drake, a pseudonym for a New York Times bestselling author. This being a debut novel I didn't really know what to expect, but I figured coming from a bestselling author that it would be better than your average debut. While there were things that I liked a lot here (the heat!), there were also things that just didn't work for me. This one left me with mixed feelings and I honestly am still kind of confused on what I am feeling. 

Darcy is working as a cam girl to pay her way through school. Though she has several clients, there is one that is always there and gets her hotter than all the others. So when she finds out that it is her history professor and the only one standing in the way of her getting the final recommendation letter she needs to get into law school, she worries that he will be the one to ruin everything. But when he offers her the letter in exchange for her body, she knows that she will do whatever it takes to get what she needs. 

I have to admit that a lot of my problem here was the characters. Jordan was sexy and alpha, and I kind of loved to hate him here. But I figured that as the story progressed that I would end up loving him, and honestly while I did begin to love him, toward the end he pretty much ruined that for me. There were some things that happened here that I wasn't okay with and unfortunately it really soured me on the book and the characters. I also had some issues with Darcy, and I just didn't really care for her character. I didn't feel invested in her, and it made it kind of hard to really get behind these two. The one thing that I will say though is that these two were so hot together. I definitely felt the chemistry and attraction between them and I couldn't get enough of their steamy scenes. These two were super sexy and those parts were my favorite and why I kept reading. 

While I had been expecting a steamy taboo story, this one just didn't deliver what I had been hoping for. There was a ton of potential here, and I really thought that the set-up was going to make for a great story. I just didn't get it though, and to be honest this felt like the same thing that I have read before, like this was a bit of a mash up of several alpha heroes and stories in one book. There wasn't really anything new or exciting here, and I felt like there was so much more that could have been done with the characters and story itself. The biggest thing for me though was that Jordan something completely unforgivable in my eyes and it was just brushed aside as though it was nothing and Darcy just bought his BS excuse. I lost so much respect for her at that point that even though I didn't really like her to begin with, I couldn't possibly bring myself to like her after that. As much as I didn't like Jordan, I disliked her even more at that point. That would have been game over for me. So while I really loved the heat and steam in this one, I didn't care for the rest. If you are looking for a sexy teacher/student romance, you might give this one a shot. It definitely has heat. But if you are looking for more than that, this one might not be for you.

**ARC Provided by Inkslinger PR**

Purchase: | Amazon | 

ARC Review: Tattooed Scars by Alicia Rae

Tattooed Scars is the second book in the Tattooed series from Alicia Rae. This book is not a standalone as it continues Raelyn and Damien's story. Readers should start with Tattooed Emotions before reading this story. I couldn't wait to dive into this one after the way things left off in TE, and I wasn't disappointed. Alicia Rae is one of my favorite authors, and I always know that I will enjoy her books. 

Raelyn Jennings and Damien Heathman didn't plan on falling in love, but they know that what they share is the kind of love you only find once in a lifetime. Though their love is stronger than anything they have felt before, their pasts threaten to destroy everything. Raelyn has a life changing decision that only she can make, and Damien's secrets resurface as he tries to focus on his future with Raelyn. 

I loved these two in the first book, and I loved them even more here. Raelyn did frustrate me a few times, but it was completely understandable. While I wanted her to handle things a bit differently than she did, I really felt for her. She was in a terrible situation and regardless of what she did it wouldn't be an easy choice. Damien was so fantastic here. He was still the same sexy and commanding guy that we had met before, but his love for Raelyn here was beyond anything words can describe. He showed just how supportive he could be and I really believed that he would go to the ends of the earth for Raelyn. Their connection is undeniable and their chemistry was as strong as ever. But their relationship and bond just continues to intensify and I loved seeing how these two pulled together and were able to lean on each other here. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this story. I am already looking forward to the next chapter of their story, Forever Tattooed, which is set to release in March 2016. I love all of Alicia Rae's books that I have read, but I find that I am especially loving Damien and Raelyn's books. Alicia Rae is a talented writer that always evokes such raw emotions and shows her readers what true and unconditional love is, and that is definitely the case with the Tattooed series. I highly recommend any of her books if you haven't had the chance to read her work yet. Her characters are always so genuine and easy to relate to, and her stories are emotional and heartfelt. Alicia Rae is an author that is at the top of my auto-buy list, and I really would read anything with her name on it at this point.

**ARC Provided by Inkslinger PR**

Purchase: | Amazon | B&N | iTunes | 

A Duke Surrender's His Heart...with Sophie Barnes and Giveaway

Born in Denmark, Sophie Barnes spent her youth traveling with her parents to wonderful places all around the world. She's lived in five different countries, on three different continents, and speaks Danish, English, French, Spanish, and Romanian. But, most impressive of all, she's been married to the same man three times—in three different countries and in three different dresses.

When she's not busy dreaming up her next romance novel, Sophie enjoys spending time with her family, swimming, cooking, gardening, watching romantic comedies and, of course, reading.

Review: Cold-Hearted Rake by Lisa Kleypas

I’m going to try to write this as a review for “Cold-Hearted Rake” by Lisa Kleypass and focus on the book instead of my undying love for the author. Seriously, wow. Can anyone write a historical romance better than her? Years ago I gave up reading romance novels until I stumbled across Keypass’ “Suddenly You” which is a standalone. I was so enamored with her writing and storytelling I checked out anything and everything I could at the library by her. I even read her contemporary and hands down she is just amazing. “Devil in Winter” is one of my all-time favorite historical romances. I’ve read it numerous times and will re-read again in the future.

After nearly five years, yes! Five years! She has finally written a new story” Cold-Hearted Rake” and it is a part of a series, to which I am incredibly grateful because I could not get enough of the characters in the story. All of them. I just loved them. I think one of the reasons that Kleypass always impacts me with her writing is that she just strips away all the emotions from her characters and they just become so vulnerable that it is impossible not to love them and cheer for them as they struggle to find their way.

“Cold-Hearted Rake” is the first book in the Ravenel’s series. I feel giddy just thinking about what she has instore for West, Devon’s brother. What she has in store for the twins and finally the next book in the series, “Marrying Winterborne” the story of Rhys Winterborne and the painfully shy and virtuous Lady Helen Ravenel.

But first our hero, Devon Ravenel has just inherited an earldom with an estate that is crumbling around his ears. His first inclination is to sell. He doesn’t want any of it, that is until he meets Kathleen. Lady Trenear is his cousin’s widow. To say that they dislike each other is an understatement. But Kathleen is tough and she is not shy about standing up to Devon or his brother West. She is prepared to take her sister-in-laws under her protection and take care of them. Devon for all his best efforts can’t resist the pull that he feels not only to his inherited estate but also to Kathleen. Kleypass never has an easy road planned for her characters and Devon and Kathleen are no exception. They face it all from derailed trains to failing estates and they do it with the romantic melodrama that only she can create.

Obviously, I really loved the book. I read it once and then re-read it. I lost sleep but I didn’t care. I was fascinated and intrigued with the characters and their witty-laugh-out-loud quips back and forth. In order to preserve my sanity, I’m not even going to think about the next book but for me it can’t come fast enough. If anyone has never read Kleypass before, this is a perfect introduction. The only other I would recommend is Devil in Winter. No one does antiheros like Kleypass. Simply amazing.

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

Thursday, December 17, 2015

ARC Review: Coming Back by Lauren Dane

Lauren Dane is one of the first authors that I read when I started reading romance, so she will always be one of my favorites. I am a huge fan of hers and she is a truly great writer. That being said, Coming Back was not my favorite book of hers. While I wanted to love it, there were just too many things that didn't work for me. 

Returning home after years away, Jessilyn Franklin is ready to stop pretending. Though Adam and Mick both walked away from her, she is tired of living without them. She tried to move on, but the love they shared is worth sacrificing her pride for. So when she receives an invitation from Mick to attend an event at Twisted Steel to celebrate Mick's partnership, she views it as the perfect chance to lay it all out for both Mick and Adam. But in order to have a future together, the three of them will have to face their past and everything that happened to separate them years ago. 

Mick, Adam, and Jessi were all likable enough characters and it was clear that they all cared about one another. I have to say that while Jessi was likable, it was almost too likable. She was the nicest, sweetest, most forgiving, full of hearts and flowers character I have ever seen. It was too much to be believable. I kept waiting for her to get real, and that just didn't happen. Mick and Adam were likable, and they were definitely sexy. But I didn't really feel invested in their relationship or this story. While the three of them were steamy together and definitely cared about one another, I just couldn't get into this book like I wanted to. 

Part of my problem with these characters was the fact that it felt like we were dropped into the middle of a story here. While this book is a standalone (even though it is third in the series), it felt as though we had missed half a book here. There was no prologue or lead in, we just start right off with these characters reconnecting after years apart and things move at warp speed from there. I wanted more of their past and what had happened to make the guys run as well as what they all had experienced apart. I was expecting to get more build up to their reconciliation, but these characters just jump right into a serious relationship like nothing much had changed. It wasn't realistic, and unfortunately that was where I started to lose interest. Since all of that happened within the first 10% or so of the book, it made it really hard to feel invested in these characters or their story. As much as I love Lauren Dane, I was bored for much of this story and it just wasn't what I have come to love when I pick up a Lauren Dane book. While this one wasn't my favorite, I will definitely read more from her in the future. If you like menage stories or are a fan of this series, I still recommend giving this one a shot if it sounds like something you would like. It wasn't a bad book by any means, it just wasn't my favorite. Readers should know before reading that this is a full menage story with a relationship between Adam, Mick and Jessilyn and if that isn't something that you are comfortable with Coming Back might not be the book for you.

**ARC Provided by Publisher**

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

Review: Crashed Out by Tessa Bailey

I feel like a broken record but OMG I freaking LOVE Tessa Bailey's books. Seriously if you aren't reading her you are severely missing out. She just has a way of bring hot, sexy and humor to a story that no one else can. Plus, no one can write a dirty talking hero the way she can and let me tell you, Sarge was hella dirty. Dirrrty!!!

I'm a sucker for unrequited love stories and I loved that Tessa put a spin on that trope with it being an older woman/younger man. I'm usually not the biggest fan of big age gaps between characters but I found that Sarge was an old soul and didn't come across as immature or younger than Jasmine at all. In fact, to me, it felt like Jasmine was the younger one in this story. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that Jasmine is still coming into her own and learning about herself.

One thing I will say is that I LOVED these two together! They were hot and sexy and had off the charts chemistry together. I felt like Crashed Out was one of Tessa Bailey's hottest books to date and yeah, these two were pretty damn explosive! I admit that I'm glad I read this one at home because it made me hot as hell. I couldn't get enough and pretty much read the book in one sitting.

I love, love, loved the fact that Sarge wasn't afraid to be honest with his feelings and was pretty much upfront with Jasmine about everything. I loved that he pursued her relentlessly and didn't let her talk him out of being together because of their age difference. I love it when a hero knows what he wants and believe me, Sarge was on a mission.

I will say there were moments when Jasmine irritated me a bit. I just felt like she was so closed off at times and stubborn to accept her feelings. I totally get it but it doesn't mean I had to like it.

As always, this was another winner for me and I just couldn't get enough. One of the hottest books that I've read in 2015 and it just left me wanting more. I love this world Tessa Bailey created and I can't wait to see what's in store for the rest of the characters. The little bits that she teased in Crashed Out just let me antsy and I can't wait to see what's going to happen. I just know it's going to be good! Seriously though, read this book. In fact, if you see Tessa's name on a cover of a book just go ahead and buy it and read it. You won't regret it at all.

Purchase: | Amazon | B&N | iTunes |

Dancing with a Rogue...with Bronwen Evans and Giveaway

USA Today bestselling author, Bronwen Evans grew up loving books. She writes both historical and contemporary sexy romances for the modern woman who likes intelligent, spirited heroines, and compassionate alpha heroes. Evans is a three-time winner of the RomCon Readers’ Crown and has been nominated for an RT Reviewers’ Choice Award. She lives in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand with her dogs Brandy and Duke.

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ARC Review: Hard to Forget by Bella Jewel

When I started this book, I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about it. I’m a Bella Jewel fan but I still didn’t know about the idea of the heroine being the hero’s bodyguard. If you’re like me ad cringe at role reversals, have no fear. The hero was all alpha man and the heroine gives us a little extra kick a-s to go with her otherwise very likable personality.

Delaney, the heroine, works for an elite personal security company. Right from the beginning of the book, I liked her. Delaney has an issue that any woman in her field would have, nobody takes her seriously, especially not her co-workers. I enjoyed Delaney’s journey to prove herself and I loved reading how she handled all the shi! that was thrown her way. One of my favorite things about the book is that when Delaney is assigned to Jax’s (the hero) security detail, he doesn’t just welcome her on board because she’s hot, nope. Jax is completely skeptical of her ability to protect him and goes as far as to challenge her to a throw down before he will agree to letting her on the team. As the story progresses, Jax and Delaney develop an attraction that they find it more and more difficult to deny.

The thing that I really appreciated about the development of the relationship between Jax and Delaney is that it took time. Jax had some serious ish going on and really did need security. Someone or someones were trying to kill Jax throughout the book. I liked that the relationship with Delaney was slow and not depicted as a reaction to a bunch of adrenaline spikes. I have to admit that there is a point where you might start to give the book the side eye because it stretches credibility as the story goes on. For example, it was totally unbelievable that Delaney’s co-workers didn’t figure out that there was something going on with her and Jax. It also got a little outlandish when the characters are in New York being chased by the bad guys. I can put all of that aside though because the sex was hot, Jax is a hero you will love and Delaney is a heroine you will root for.

I think I didn’t love the last Bella Jewel book I read but for me this was a return to everything I love about her as an author.

**ARC provided by Publisher**

Purchase: | Amazon | B&N | iTunes |

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Audiobook Review: Kiss of the Demon King by Kresley Cole, Narrated by Robert Petkoff

Usually I start off with a review first and then I comment on the narrator but I have to say that Robert Petkoff was A-mazing! This is a very lengthy audiobook, about 12 hours and I never tired of hear Petkoff’s voice. I also loved the voices he gave to the characters. At first when I heard his voice of Sabine it took me a while to get used to it and then I loved it. I was completely mesmerized by his storytelling.

Equally amazing was this story. This is the first time I experience anything by Kresley Cole and I have to say there was not one single moment that I was disappointed. This was a fantastic story. All the characters were interesting the pacing was fantastic. It varied from tensions between Sabine and her love interest/ hero –Rydstrom Woede. To say I loved Sabine is an understatement. She was so cunning and conniving, blood thirsty and ruthless-these are just some of her good qualities. As a sorceress her powers were fun and interesting, her wit was sharp and her humor had me laughing. Hands down she has to be one of my favorite heroines.

I loved Rydstrom as well and respected his honorable intentions and I loved that the author made him just as quick and intelligent as Sabine. They were so perfectly matched. Where Sabine will lie and cheat to get anything she wants, Rydstrom is all truth and good intentions despite his being a demon. They were both a force to be reckoned with. Even though I jumped into the series with this book, the 7th , I was not lost at all. The author was able to keep me up to date on all that had transpired in the previous books and even though I’m sure it would be better to read/hear the entire series it did not hamper my enjoyment of this book in any way. Between the steamy tension between Sabine and Rydstrom, there is the ever present danger of her evil brother trying to dominate Sabine and finally make her his.

Once I started hearing this story I was instantly hooked and captivated by the characters and the story. Usually when a book is this long inevitably my attention wonders but I could not put this story down! I wanted to know what would happen next, I wanted to know would Rydstrom finally get his kingdom back… Completely intriguing and beguiling, I loved this story!

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