Saturday, December 26, 2015

ARC Review: Pent Up by Damon Suede

Pent Up is the first book that I have ever read by Damon Suede. I have been reading M/M books for a few years now and have heard about Damon Suede, but I hadn't had the chance to read anything from him before this so I was really excited to see what his writing style was like. While there were things that I enjoyed here, I also have to admit that there were some things that I didn't care for. I would read more from him in the future, but this wasn't my favorite M/M book. Pent Up is a double gay-for-you book, with both of the guys being only with women previously. 

After his divorce, Ruben Oso moves to Manhattan to start over. Staying with his brother, he goes to work as a bodyguard for his brother as well. Ruben's new client is a financial hotshot that Ruben is convinced is paranoid. But is it more than just paranoia for Andy? As Ruben gets deeper involved, his feelings for Andy become more personal and less professional. But can he get to the bottom of everything that is happening with Andy and keep them both safe in the process? 

I had a hard time connecting to the characters here. Andy was a bit odd right off, and unfortunately I just didn't warm up to him. I felt like everything surrounding his job and situation was a bit confusing and I just didn't seem to really ever connect with him. While I liked Ruben okay, I felt like his family situation was a bit odd as well. His parents wanted him to be more "American" rather than to embrace his Latin heritage, and it just came off a bit weird. I have never read a book where they make it a point to bring up a Latin heritage while also trying to downplay that at the same time. Both Ruben and Andy had some issues here, and that was another thing that I had a bit of a problem with. Ruben was a recovering alcoholic, and Andy continued to drink around him even knowing about it. It just felt a bit wrong to me. While I did like the connection and chemistry between these two, the story just didn't seem to really lead me to feel invested in them or their relationship. 

While I was confused about some of Andy's situation, I also thought that the story itself was confusing. Even as things were revealed as the story progressed, I often felt lost and as though I didn't have a clue what was going on. This book was a bit all over the place, and I just never felt like it fully got me there. I kept losing interest because I felt like I didn't know what was happening and the characters weren't doing it for me either. I have heard such great things about Damon Suede and previous books of his that I will give him a shot again in the future. Unfortunately this book just wasn't for me. If you are a fan of the male/male genre or Damon Suede, you might give this one a shot. It very well could be that this one just didn't work for me personally.

**ARC Provided by Author**

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Feature and Giveaway: Did I Mention I Love You by Estelle Maskame

Love is everything but expected.

Eden Munro came to California for a summer of sun, sand, and celebrities- what better way to forget about the drama back home? Until she meets her new family of strangers; a dad she hasn’t seen in three years, a stepmonster, and three stepbrothers.

Eden gets her own room in her dad’s fancy house in Santa Monica. A room right next door to her oldest stepbrother. Tyler Bruce. Whom she cannot stand. He has angry blue eyes and an ego bigger than a Beverly Hills mansion. She’s never felt such intense dislike for someone. But the two are constantly thrown together as his group of friends pulls her into their world of rule-breaking, partying, and pier-hanging.

And the more she tries to understand what makes Tyler burn hotter than the California sun, the more Eden finds herself falling for the one person she shouldn’t…

Did I Mention I Love You? is the addictive first book in Wattpad sensation Estelle Maskame’s DIMIY trilogy: three unforgettable summers of secrets, heartbreak, and forbidden romance.

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Friday, December 25, 2015

ARC Review: The Final Move by Victoria Denault

I have to admit that while I wanted to read this story, I wasn't exactly looking forward to getting Callie's story. I hadn't been her biggest fan in the previous books, and while she had moments here that I liked her, I still had some issues with her. The Final Move was good, but I did have some things that kept it from being great for me. Each book in the Hometown Players series can be read as a standalone, so if you haven't read any of the previous books in Victoria Denault's series you can start here with no problems. With the characters being interconnected though, you will see familiar faces as the series continues. 

Devin Garrison has gotten everything he has ever wanted, and he doesn't fail. As a star NHL player, he appears to have it all. But when his marriage falls apart, Devin realizes he has to start over. When Callie Caplan returns to town, Devin must face the fact that even though he was married to someone else, it has always been Callie that had his attention. While Devin always wanted to settle down and have a family, Callie was always the wild child. She doesn't do relationships, and she has always avoided any guy that she can actually like. But with Devin and Callie being brought together again, can they finally have something together? 

As I said, I had some issues with Callie. I liked her better here than I had in previous books, but I still had some problems with her. She was immature at times and I thought that she took things a bit too far. While I understood some of her problems with love and commitment, I didn't understand it fully. I also had some issues with Devin. He was angry at his wife for what she was doing, but then he immediately went out and hooked up with a random girl. If it wasn't for Callie he would have continued on that path. I also didn't care for the fact that their relationship changed almost overnight. For as mad as Devin was and hurt by it, he moved on too quick for my taste. I realize that he and Callie had always had a connection, but things seemed to move forward too quickly here. There was a connection between them and they definitely had chemistry, but the way everything sort of came about here just left a bad taste in my mouth here.

That isn't to say that this book didn't have good parts, because there were some parts that I really liked. But overall, I just ended up having some issues with the characters and the story here. This wasn't my favorite of the series, but I do think that fans of the series and even new readers will enjoy this book. I think that if you are starting here, you might actually be a bit better off, having no preconceived ideas about Callie or Devin. But I did like things about this book, even with how frustrated I as at times while reading this book. If you are a fan of sports romance stories, I would recommend giving this series a chance.

**ARC Provided by Publisher**

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Feature and Giveaway: All I Want for Christmas is a Duke by Valerie Bowman, Vivienne Lorret, Tiffany Clare and Ashlyn Macnamara

Four popular romance novelists come together to bring readers delightful tales of Christmas Magic and the dukes that make us swoon… The holidays are a time for dining, dancing, and of course—dukes! Celebrate the Christmas season with this enchanting collection of historical romances featuring the most eligible bachelors of the ton…

The Duke and Duchess Trap by Valerie Bowman

A childish prank may have reunited the Duke of Hollingsworth with his estranged wife, but only the magic of Christmas will show this couple ‘tis the season of second chances…

Sophie and the Duke by Tiffany Clare

Sophie Kinsley planned to remain a wallflower at the Duke of Helmsworth’s ball. Yet when a dance with him leads to a stolen kiss, will the duke be willing to let her go? Or will Sophie’s Christmas wish be granted at last?

The Duke’s Christmas Wish by Vivienne Lorret

To the Duke of Vale, science solves everything—even marriage. When the impulsive Ivy Sutherland makes him question all of his data, he realizes that he’s overlooked a vital component in his search for the perfect match: love.

One Magic Season by Ashlyn Macnamara

Patience Markham never forgot the fateful dance she had with the future Duke of Kingsbury. But when a twist of fate brings them together for Christmas Eve, will the stars finally align in their favor?

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Thursday, December 24, 2015

Review: Choose Me by Heidi McLaughlin

Choose Me is the second book in the Archer Brothers Series by Heidi McLaughlin. These books need to be read in order, so make sure that you have read Here With Me before starting Choose Me or reading this review so as not to be spoiled. I knew that I had to read these two back to back, and I am really glad that I did. I think that the waiting in between would have killed me, and it was really nice to be able to finish the first and move straight on to the second. 

Choose Me picks up pretty much where Here With Me left off. Evan has come home from a six year long mission to discover that his family was told he died. His fiance is now engaged to his twin brother, and his son is calling his brother daddy. Evan is determined to win back his girl Ryley and get to know his son EJ, while also getting answers on what really happened. But Nate isn't willing to let Ryley go easy after everything that they have been through. Nate and Evan are both determined to do whatever it takes to win Ryley for good, even if it means fighting dirty. 

I was definitely on Team Evan when starting this book. I loved his connection with Ryley, and I knew that he had never stopped loving her and she hadn't stopped loving him. Their life together was stolen from them, and it wasn't either one of their faults. My heart broke for them and all they had missed out on. I also really felt for Nate here too though. He never asked to be in that situation either, and it was clear that his feelings for Ryley and EJ were genuine. I never was Team Nate though, even though I really liked him. I just always felt like the true soul mates here were Evan and Ryley. Their chemistry and bond was so strong that I just never saw anyone else for either of them. The one thing that was apparent here though was that no matter who ended up together, it was definitely not easy on any of them and I hated all that they had been put through. I felt so badly for them on one hand, and on the other I was so ready for those responsible to pay. I wanted those that had caused all this pain to suffer and get what they deserved.

While I did like parts of this book and how things ended, I will admit that I was a bit disappointed here. I thought that it took far too long in this book for anything to really happen, and the first 50-75% seemed to just go around in circles. It was all about which brother if either was right for Ryley and EJ, and not a lot happened. Then all of a sudden things started to happen, just for them to be wrapped up too quickly and easily in my opinion. There wasn't the same fire or fight here as I had felt in the first book, and that was something that I missed. I thought that the way things played out while nice, was just too easy and had been wrapped up in a nice bow so that everyone could come out a winner. It didn't seem as genuine as I would have liked, and it felt like it was thrown together so that everyone wins in the end. The ending was rushed and while some things were wrapped up quickly, there were other things left unresolved that I would have liked to have seen a bit more about. I think part of that is that there is going to be more in this series, and I am guessing that Heidi McLaughlin left those things up in the air so that they will be continued as the series goes on. I am interested to read more, and I am definitely curious about Tucker McCoy's book. I can't wait to get answers about what happened to his family as well as hopefully get more of these characters after everything that happened here. I still think that this series is worth the read. I had just been expecting a bit more here that I felt we got.

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Stranded at an Inn...with Callie Hutton and Giveaway

Callie has been making up stories since elementary school, and writing gave her a way to turn off the voices in her head. After having a number of articles and interviews published in newspapers and magazines, she took on what she’d always dreamed of. Writing that book. She currently has a number of both historical and contemporary romance books published.

She currently lives in Oklahoma with her husband and adult children who move in and out with alarming regularity. Add three rescue dogs and the household is complete—and full. She enjoys hearing from her readers, and would love to have you visit her.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Event Coming Soon: A Naughty New Year...Brazen Style

Are you ready for A Naughty New Year? Starting December 28th, we've teamed up with the awesome people behind Entangle's Brazen Books to bring you the 2nd annual A Naughty New Year...Brazen Style event. Each day a different Brazen author will be stopping by to share a special hot and smexy New Years' inspired scene and giveaway. On top of the daily giveaways up for grabs, we've also got a few fabulous grand prizes that you can win. So make sure to mark your calendars and so you don't miss all of hot and smexy fun!

With appearances by:
Diane Alberts
Tessa Bailey
Samanthe Beck
Lauren Blakely
Jennifer Bonds
Nina Crespo
Nina Croft
Cathryn Fox
Clare James
Kate Meader
Christina Phillips
Cari Quinn
Brooklyn Sky

The event will run from December 28th - January 9th.

Make sure to mark your calendars and so you don't miss all of hot and smexy fun!

ARC Review: What If by A.J. Pine

What If is the second book in the If Only series from A.J. Pine, though each book is a standalone with interconnected characters. I was really glad that Griffin was getting his own story after the first book, and I have to say that I did enjoy this book more than the first. I have liked all the characters since the beginning of this series, but there were a few things that kept the first book from being one I loved. While I did have some frustrations here in What If, it was nowhere near what I experienced in If Only and I was so glad to see how things have progressed since the first book.

Griffin has always been the live in the moment type of guy, until he went and got feelings for a girl that was in love with someone else. Having returned home from his trip to Aberdeen, Scotland, Griffin is now set to follow his father's footsteps. Though Griffin would rather do something else with his life, his parents expect him to follow their carefully laid out plan. But when he meets Maggie, everything changes. Maggie is different than anyone he has ever met before, and she makes him want to be better person. But Maggie has a secret that could change their entire relationship, and she is afraid to tell Griffin. Can Maggie and Griffin truly let each other in and find their way together, or will their secrets keep them from having a chance at a future with one another? 

I have liked Griffin from the very beginning of this series, and I loved him here. We really got to dig deeper when it came to his character, and it was good to see beneath the surface with him. He was so much more that what we got to see in If Only, and I was surprised at just how much he had felt for Jordan. I felt like in If Only we really didn't get to see just how much he had been affected by how things happened with Jordan, and I had no idea that he had cared as much as he did. But Jordan wasn't the right person for him, and that was never more apparent than it was here when he met Maggie. Maggie and Griffin were so good for one another, and I loved them together. They were able to help each other and support one another, and I loved the connection that was there right from the start. Griffin and Maggie were able to be their true selves with one another, even if they weren't able to fully open up to one another at the beginning of their relationship. The more they spent time together though, the stronger their bond grew and I really felt like these two were perfect for each other. They had great chemistry and the attraction was obvious, but it was really about the emotional connection and bond these two had. 

Overall, I enjoyed this story a lot and I liked the characters. I really liked Griffin's sisters and those that were close to Maggie, especially her friend Miles. These secondary characters really added a lot to the story and I thought that they werea great support system for Maggie and Griffin. It was also good to see familiar faces here, and the progress that all of the Aberdeen crew had made was really good to see. I was frustrated a few times throughout this story with both Griffin and Maggie, but I really felt like most of that fell on Maggie. She needed to be honest with Griffin, and I really wish that she would have explained her situation with him. I didn't really care for the way it was all revealed, though his response was beyond sweet. If I hadn't already been in love with Griffin at that point, his actions there definitely would have sealed the deal. I recommend this book to fans of the NA genre, and if you have read If Only I think that this book is a must read! I am looking forward to reading the next book in this series, and it will be great to catch up with all these characters again.

**ARC Provided by Publisher**

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A Drunken Serenade...with Caroline Linden and Giveaway

Caroline Linden was born a reader, not a writer. She earned a math degree from Harvard University and wrote computer code before discovering that writing fiction was far more fun. Eleven years, fifteen books, three Red Sox championships, and one dog later, she has never been happier with her decision. Her books have won the NEC-RWA Reader's Choice Beanpot Award, the Daphne du Maurier Award, and RWA's RITA Award.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

ARC Review: My Kind of Wonderful by Jill Shalvis

My Kind of Wonderful is the second book in the Cedar Ridge series from Jill Shalvis. Each book is a standalone, though the characters are interconnected. I have been a Jill Shalvis fan for years, and I think if you are a contemporary romance fan she is a must read author! 

Being a cancer survivor, Bailey Moore has a second chance at life and she intends to live it to the fullest. When she meets Hudson Kincaid, she fully intends to enjoy him as well as Cedar Ridge. But Hudson isn't the type to love and let go, and Bailey isn't willing to stick around. But with the attraction and chemistry between them, Hudson finds himself drawn to Bailey in a way that he hasn't felt before. Can Hudson convince Bailey to take a chance on a future with him and stick around in Cedar Ridge? 

As much as I enjoy a strong heroine, I had a bit of trouble relating to Bailey here. I liked her attitude towards her second chance, but I did think that she went too far at times. I just found her hard to relate to, and I didn't like some of the things she did even though I understood where she was coming from. Hud was strong, sexy, and charming and I liked him a lot. I don't think that I have come across a single hero from Shalvis yet that I didn't like, and Hud was no exception. I thought that these two had really great chemistry and they also had connection that just grew stronger as the book progressed. As much as I had some problems with Bailey herself, I did like her and Hudson together. 

The other thing that kept me from rating this one higher though was that while I liked the story, it felt so similar to what I have seen from Shalvis before. After having read several of her stories at this point, things have become predictable for me. While this book was good, it just felt a bit too cookie-cutter to me. I had a tough time really getting into this book and I kept wanting to put it down. I think part of that was because of Bailey. While I am a huge Shalvis fan, this series hasn't been my favorite. I know I will continue to read more from Shalvis in the future, and I hope that the next book in the Cedar Ridge series, Nobody But You, will be more of what I love from Shalvis than this book was. Jacob is a character that I find really interesting and I can't wait to get his story.

**ARC Provided by Publisher**

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ARC Review: You’re the Earl That I Want by Kelly Bowen

Kelly Bowen has been on my to-read list for such a long time, I was really excited to read one of her books. I read the reviews for her previous book, A Good Rogue is Hard to Find (The Lords of Worth, #2) and I was really excited to read her story.

I liked “You’re the Earl that I Want” because, for me, the heroine really carried the story. I really liked her and found her to be very refreshing. Lady Josephine Somerhall is unique and her own person. She grew up making her own rules. She is very intelligent, out-spoken and in control of herself. She is not a typical lady in want of a husband although Heath Hextall is a gentleman in search of a wife. Mostly he needs a wife to take care of the mediocre things that he does not want to be bothered with, like running a household. The list of characteristics that he has are pretty much a summary of Joss. Joss and Heath grew up together as children so they share a history and when they reunite at a ball they share some barbs back and forth.

I liked how the author included Joss in Heath’s adventure/ mystery. Heath needed Joss’ help and this gave them the opportunity to come together. I have to confess that I really did not care for Heath. Although I generally love when the hero and heroine do not like each other or learn to like each other, Heath seemed very superficial as stuck up for me. I couldn’t really form an opinion about him. To me, it seemed like he was always undermining Joss or annoyed by her just because she didn’t follow in everyone else’s footsteps. As their time together progresses he not only learns to appreciate her but champions her individuality.

Overall, this was a cute and interesting story. The author provided some original traits that I have not seen in other historical romances. I liked that the hero was a self -made man I just thought this would have made him more down to earth and less of a snob. Despite my lukewarm feelings toward the hero I plan to read more books by this author and really enjoyed her unique storytelling.

**ARC provided by Publisher**

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Caught in a Compromising Position...with Cheryl Holt and Giveaway

CHERYL HOLT is a New York Times, USA Today, and Amazon “Top 100” bestselling author who spent the past summer celebrating the release of her fortieth novel.  

She’s also a lawyer and mom, and at age forty, with two babies at home, she started a new career as a commercial fiction writer.  She’d hoped to be a suspense novelist, but couldn’t sell any of her manuscripts, so she ended up taking a detour into romance where she was stunned to discover that she has a knack for writing some of the world’s greatest love stories.    

Her books have been released to wide acclaim, and she has won or been nominated for many national awards.  She is considered to be one of the masters of the romance genre.  For many years, she was hailed as “The Queen of Erotic Romance”, and she’s also revered as “The International Queen of Villains.”  She is particularly proud to have been named “Best Storyteller of the Year” by the trade magazine Romantic Times BOOK Reviews. 

She lives and writes in Hollywood, California, and she loves to hear from fans. 

ARC Review: Corrupt by Penelope Douglas

Honestly it kills me to have to do this, and please don't shoot the messenger...but I was so disappointed in this book! I LOVE Penelope Douglas, and I have been a fan of hers since the day I read Bully. I never in a million years would have guessed that I would feel this way about a book of hers, but this book made me extremely angry and quite frankly a lot disgusted. I am hearing so many positive responses to it though, that I think that maybe it is just one of those polarizing books that people either love or hate. I really doubt there will be much middle ground here. Unfortunately, this one didn't work for me at all. 

Erika Fane and Michael Crist had grown up around each other, but for the most part she was invisible to Michael. But one night everything changed between them, and Erika thought that he was finally seeing her for who she was. But then in an instant everything changed again and Erika found herself once again invisible to Michael and he found himself with a ton of guilt and his three best friends in prison. Now three years later, they are out and they have Erika exactly where they want her. 

I found it impossible to like the characters here. I really expected that things would turn around and there would be some redeeming qualities once all was said and done, but after everything had been revealed, I almost disliked them more than I did to begin with. Michael treated Erika horribly. He allowed his friends to treat her horribly. I could understand that he was angry and out to get revenge for his friends, but for someone who had always been drawn to her supposedly and felt things for her, he went way too far in my opinion. Rika (what everyone called Erika...because apparently the E was too much?) had a few moments of strength and there were times I thought I would love her, and then she would turn into the weakest character I had ever seen. She was being put through a lot, I get it. And honestly I can't imagine being in her shoes. But when all is said and done and the truth of everything comes out, she immediately is over it all as if nothing happened and just jumps into Michael's arms. Ummm what? No. Not okay. I won't go into specifics, but the fact that she was able to even look at Michael, let alone want to sleep with him or love him at that point was beyond comprehension to me. He wasn't even the one that seemed to feel the worst about it all! That was his friend Kai, who coincidentally was the only character I actually liked at the end of this book. 

I also felt like this book was so similar to Bully, with just a few details changed. While I loved Bully though, this book didn't have the same redeemable qualities to the story or characters that that book did for me. The way that everyone here treated Rika and the fact that she just moved ahead with little to no groveling at all from these guys was just more than I could come back from. Not only that, but once all was revealed here, I still didn't like the way that Rika was treated. Though honestly I stopped caring since she clearly didn't. This book just had so many things that didn't work for me and I am sad to say that this book left me with so many feelings and none of them were good. I read dark romance and love it, but this one wasn't what I had been expecting or hoping for at all. This wasn't a romance at all to me, and the abuse/attempted rape elements killed any possibility of me being okay with Michael and Rika's relationship even after it was all over. If you have issues with abuse or rape, this book might not be for you. There were several times that the content felt like it would be alarming for those with trigger issues and I would advise those to possibly steer clear of this one. While I don't want to go into too many more details on things that could possibly spoil the story those issues and the treatment of Rika were the things that really alienated me the most. Though I thought the whole Horsemen thing was completely unbelievable and "that scene" with Kai for the sake of healing him was just crazy to me as well as the whole "tapping out" competition between Michael and Rika. Honestly the more I write here and think about this book, the more I dislike it and disappointed I feel. If this one sounds like something you would like, I say go for it. Looking at the ratings, I am clearly in the minority. However this is one book that didn't do anything but piss me off and I wouldn't recommend it.

**ARC Provided by As the Pages Turn**

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