Saturday, August 13, 2016

ARC Review: Turbulent Intentions by Melody Anne

I think this book might be for some readers but I didn't particularly enjoy it. I've read several Melody Anne titles from a few years back and I liked those but I've been striking out with some of the recent releases.

Right from the beginning, the set up of this book kind of confused me. I thought the book was going to go in one direction but then it goes in a completely different direction. When the book starts Cooper and his brothers are a bunch of spoiled rich boys who are about to lose their father. When their Dad passes away, he leaves a provision in his will that for the boys to inherit a massive fortune, they have to settle down and get married. The thing is, they all are already semi wealthy because of their trust funds so they don't need the inheritance to be rich. So instead of this book being about Cooper making a deal to settle down with a girl and then falling in love right as she finds out she was just inheritance bait, the book winds up being something else. That just threw me off and not because I want to be able to predict the direction of a book. It threw me because it didn't fit into the story later on. I came to the conclusion that Melody Anne was just introducing us to all of the characters and backdrop of this series.

Stormy meets Cooper after his Father dies and has a one night stand with him. I was ok with the one night stand, I got it. Although, I do think women need to be more careful about who they wonder off with. A couple of years down the road, Stormy's life is all sorts of a mess.  She is about to be evicted, she is working at crap jobs and things just aren't going well. I struggled to understand this too. Stormy was young, she wasn't taking care of any relatives, she didn't have any debts she was trying to pay off, WHY was she so financially strapped? I think the author was trying to set up a Cinderella story but I was just at a loss as to why this girl was in the position that she was in.

And then there is Cooper. Cooper is just an asshole. I tried to see him as something more but it was almost impossible. Cooper is arrogant and a playboy. Ok, fine, I can live with that. What got me is that Cooper did not remember who Stormy was when he ran into her after their one night stand. REALLY? REALLY? You can't remember somebody you banged all night long. I'm sure this happens to people in real life but I don't care. I didn't like it with my romance.

When Stormy and Cooper get together, Stormy lets Cooper off the hook way too easily. I totally understand not being able to control your libido. So yes, maybe you have to hate screw a guy every now and then. I just didn't like the fact that Stormy fell for Cooper so easily when he had been such a jerk.

Let's take a moment to discuss Uncle Sherman. I liked the meddling Uncle. I just didn't really get to what end he was meddling. Or I didn't get it for long enough that I was kind of annoyed.

All in all I feel like this book might be good for readers who are newer to the rich boy/ Cinderella girl romance trope. I think I've just read to many of these to be thrilled about this one which wasn't one of the better books I've read. The book isn't a bad read, it really isn't. I just didn't love it.

**ARC provided by Publisher**

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Feature and Giveaway: Hard Rules by Lisa Renee Jones

Wall Street meets the Sons of Anarchy in the smoldering, scorching first novel in the explosively sexy new Dirty Money series from New York Times bestselling author Lisa Renee Jones.

How bad do you want it?

The only man within the Brandon empire with a moral compass, Shane Brandon is ready to take his family's business dealings legitimate. His reckless and ruthless brother, Derek wants to keep Brandon Enterprises cemented in lies, deceit, and corruption. But the harder Shane fights to pull the company back into the light, the darker he has to become. Then he meets Emily Stevens, a woman who not only stirs a voracious sexual need in him, but becomes the only thing anchoring him between good and evil.

Emily is consumed by Shane, pushed sexually in ways she never dreamed of, falling deeper into the all-encompassing passion that is this man. She trusts him. He trusts her, but therein lies the danger. Emily has a secret, the very thing that brought her to him in the first place, and that secret that could that destroy them both.

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ARC Review: Reaper's Fire by Joanna Wylde

This is probably going to be more of fangirl letter to Joanna Wylde than a review, but I don’t care. Joanna Wylde outdid herself! I’ve read all her MC books: Reapers and Silver Valley. Wylde not only really knows her craft but seems to really know the MC world. I’ve read so many other MC books and they do not compare to Wylde’s research. She brings the MC world to life and seems to really know the rules that it abides by and stays true to it.

Finally, we get Gage. I feel like we have been waiting for Gage forever!! Gage has been in the previous Reaper’s books and I always enjoyed any little tidbit that Wylde gave us in the previous books. Gage is Picnic,the Reaper’s President, right hand man. He is a great strong and sturdy character all throughout and even in “Reaper’s Fire. Gage has always put the club first, it is his heart and soul. When he takes on a special “assignment” he has to travel to Hallies Falls to deal with another MC club that is not abiding by the rules of the MC world. Gage changes his name to Cooper and is visiting under the guise that he is a divorced man with two children. He sees an ad for a handy man posted by Tinker. Tinker and Gage have instant chemistry. They have a very strong attraction to each other but they both have many complications that they need to overcome first.

Tinker is fantastic. I loved her so much. She is tough but also very pure of heart and vulnerable. She has been kicked down by life a few times and is trying to find herself again. She is in the middle of a divorce and has moved back to Hallies Falls to take care of her father. Her mother has recently passed away and her father’s health is a major concern also. Tinker is happy to be back home but has a lot to deal with. One of those issues is that “Cooper” and her can’t fight their attraction to each other. Another complication is that he has a girlfriend. As the reader we know the real reason that “Cooper” has this girlfriend-all MC business and loyalty-but Tinker is not privy to this so it complicates her feelings for Cooper.

There are many levels to this story. One is Gage/Cooper’s dedication to his brothers in the MC club. It is admirable and it ultimately pays off but it comes with great sacrifice. Second, the development of both Gage and Cooper was so rewarding to see. Both of them develop and grow as the story progresses. I really loved them both individually and as a couple. As a couple Tinker and Gage have many obstacles to overcome: their pasts, their present and ultimately-their future. Wylde gives us some great secondary characters that had me laughing-out-loud and I loved them! She also gives us some insight into what the future will look like for not only Tinker and Gage but the future of the Club as well. I have to add any time Picnic makes an appearance I just love him more and more. For me, this was another great read by Wylde:full of adventure, passion, laugh-out-loud moments and MC violence. Now… counting down until the next Reaper’s book!

**ARC provided by Publisher**

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Friday, August 12, 2016

ARC Review: Wanting it All by Christi Barth

I read this book awhile back and I still remember that it was engaging and fun. The characters, especially Madison, are unique and memorable. If you're in a book funk, this is a good read for you.

First, I just have to note that this book takes place in my second hometown and I was inappropriately excited by that. Why are there not more romance books set in DC? Ok, I digress. The book actually opens with the story of Knox and his friends surviving a horrible accident. I kind of knew from the synopsis that was going to happen but I thought the author did a really good job building the cast of characters for this series right from the beginning.

Fast forward to present day and we are introduced to Madison who has relocated to DC for work. Madison is truly one of the most different characters I've read about. She came from the Alaskan bush (seriously) where she and her other lived a modest but good life. Madison is in DC to sort of spread her wings and live a librarian at the national library. I love stuff like that. It was totally offbeat and unexpected. And by the way, Madison is also determined to find herself a husband. Enter Knox.

Knox was a super geek when he was involved in a near death experience. After escaping with his life Knox was determined to live life to the fullest but somewhere the wires got crossed. In reality Knox was traumatized (as anyone would be) by his brush with death. And instead of simply indulging in the good stuff in life, he was gorging himself on temporary pleasure without finding something worth holding on to. Knox was brilliant so he becomes a billionaire. He grows out of his geekiness and becomes a ladies man who can barely keep track of all his conquests. Except he does- by GEOGRAPHICAL location. He's banging his way through the country. Ew. Everything was just too much. Until he meets Madison.

This book isn't entirely a brand new spin on the genre, so you can kind of guess where things are going after a certain point. Knox and Madison have an incredible one night stand and Knox figures out that one night is not going to be enough. Everything is going great until Knox finds out that Madison is his best friend’s little sister. Even though Madison is really just what Knox needs to calm down and actually enjoy his life, he gets all crazy over the little sister thing. If you've read any 'little sister of my best friend' books you know how that goes.

I started by saying this book was fun and now I will agree with myself. Because I know what I'm talking about. Even though you can guess some of what's coming, the dialogue between the characters is entertaining and engaging, the romance is really sweet and there's some good steamy stuff.

**ARC provided by Publisher**

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ARC Review: Something So Right by Natasha Madison

Something So Right is the debut novel for Natasha Madison, and that is always a bit of risk for a reader. While this book and the premise did have promise, ultimately it just didn't fully work for me. I think that Natasha Madison does have talent, but this book didn't feel polished and much of the time felt forced. 

Parker caught her husband and high school sweetheart cheating on her, and her entire life changed. After that, Parker lost her faith in men and love. Focused on her kids and career, she was determined to live her life for them. But then NHL star Cooper came crashing into her world changing everything once again. While Parker's life is her kids, Cooper's life is hockey. But their connection is unlike anything they have felt before, and soon they begin to realize that while their worlds are completely different, together everything feels right. 

I did like the characters here. Parker and Cooper were great, they had a ton of chemistry and I liked seeing how things started between them and then progressed with the story. While I was rooting for them, I did feel like much of this story felt forced. It just didn't feel natural, even with the chemistry they had. Parker's kids were cute, and I enjoyed them. But overall, this just felt predictable and as though the drama was all created for the sole purpose of driving a story that didn't feel quite right. I also hated the OW drama here. It also felt forced, and just seemed to keep coming up. 

The story also had several points that just didn't seem to fully connect for me. It would feel like a stopping point would happen and then the story would just go on. It was disjointed and threw me off. The story felt like there were several smaller arcs happening rather than one large story arc overall. I also felt like the author's writing style felt a bit off to me. It was more like she was talking to someone and telling the story rather than showing us the story as it unfolded. There were several grammatical errors and problems with the context. I did have an ARC, so some of this could have been fixed before the final version, but this copy was filled with things that were more than just minor mistakes and this seemed to be a rough draft more than a polished final copy. I really think that Natasha Madison could benefit from a good set of beta readers that can help make some of these changes, because there was potential here. I just think that there were too many things that were problematic here for me to love this one despite the many glowing reviews I have seen for this book. If this sounds like one you would enjoy, I encourage you to give it a chance. There are a lot of people who seemed to really love this book and they didn't have the problems I did here. This could just be a case of it being me personally.

**ARC Provided by Gossip Girls PR**

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Feature and Giveaway: Playing By Her Rules by Amy Andrews

In this grudge match, the first to score…

When style columnist Matilda Kent accidentally lets slip that she was once involved with the captain of the Sydney Smoke rugby team, she suddenly finds herself elevated to the position she’s always wanted – feature writer. The catch? She’s stuck doing a six-part series on her ex. Still, there’s no way she can turn down a promotion…or the chance to dish the dirt on the guy who so callously broke her heart.

…could win it all!

Tanner Stone wants to be involved in a feature series about as much as he wants to snap an Achilles. But the thought of seeing Tilly again is a bonus—and has him more worked up than he wants to admit. Only he’s not prepared for how different she is – all cool and professional. His Tilly is still in there, though…and he still wants her, now more than ever. All he has to do is charm her into giving him a rematch. And this time, winner takes all!

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Thursday, August 11, 2016

ARC Review: Rogue by Michele Mannon

This book had so much promise based on the description but then it just didn't come together. I like romantic suspense so I knew this was going to be right in line with my book preferences. And parts of it were romantic and suspenseful but....but.... right from the beginning, I had a hard time following the story. It didn't get better. I enjoy plot twists but too many can make you feel like a crazy pretzel. I definitely got the crazy pretzel vibe in this book.

Quick rewind on the plot: Kylie is bent on revenge (not sure why at first) and also needed money for her mom and younger sister who she has to care for. Kylie is recruited by a undercover group of mercenaryish agents who hunt down criminals.... (again, not sure why this group exist or why they recruited Kylie. I never got that part). Jaxson is a TORC assassin. I like Jaxson, he's arrogant and playboyish, the type of man no woman should get involved with but we all keep falling for anyway.

Kylie did nothing for me as a character. Let me amend that, Kylie worked on my last shaky nerve. If I was on this super serious mission to save my family, I would like to think that I would not get distracted by a hot guy. I don't know, maybe I would've but damn Kylie, you can not be that easily thrown off track.

Jaxson was ok. If you go back in time to the time when he met Kylie, he made his intentions known from the beginning of the book. But Jaxson was kind of a conundrum. On the one hand, I found it difficult to take his easy going personality seriously, on the other he's a stone cold assassin. Not just any stold cold assassin, he actually trains Kylie. I had a hard time reconciling the two worlds. While all the confusing spy, double spy stuff is going on, Jaxson makes it his mission to get it in with Kylie. And he tells her that. In great detail. Ok, I can live with that, you know I loves some dirty talk.

Jaxson's talking is all good and fine but he would have to break orders to make his talk reality. I loved that he was willing to give it all up for his woman. That's what I like to see. But then fast forward to the present and it seems as if Kylie betryaed Jaxson. Only I'm not sure she did and really I found all of this very confusing!

I'm tired and irritated just trying to sum up this book. Honestly, it's kinda good but really all over the place. I don't have the patience to put together all the pieces, if you do, you might really like this.

**ARC provided by Publisher**

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ARC Review: Burn Down the Night by M. O'Keefe

I really enjoyed the first two books in the Everything I Left Unsaid series, but I wanted more after finishing the second book. While Burn Down the Night is about a different couple than the first two books, it was great to return to this world that M. O'Keefe created. I was so curious to get more of Max, and Burn Down the Night was a great addition to this series. 

Joan/Olivia is determined to do whatever it takes to find her sister. Even if it means posing as a stripper and blowing up the strip club. But when she drags a very injured Max into her car, she sees the perfect opportunity. Joan offers to give Max a place to recover and hide out and in return he would help to rescue her sister from the cult that has her. But soon the tables begin to turn and Joan realizes that she isn't as in charge as she thought. With both Joan and Max playing with fire, is it only a matter of time before they get burned?  

These characters were so fascinating to me. They each had so much depth and I loved that there was so much more to them than first meets the eye. This world is raw and gritty, and these characters are strong. Joan was a great heroine and I loved that she wasn't afraid to do what it took for her sister. Max was stubborn and tough, and while I wasn't sure about him in the first two books of the series, I really enjoyed getting to see beneath the surface here. These two had a ton of chemistry, and I couldn't get enough of the dynamic between them. 

While this book can be read as a standalone story, I highly recommend reading the first two books as well. I think that those books provide a lot of insight into these characters, especially Max and they are definitely worth the read. Once I started this book, I couldn't put it down. This one kept me on the edge of my seat, and I already can't wait for more.

**ARC Provided by Publisher**

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Feature and Giveaway: You Before Anyone Else by Julie Cross and Mark Perini

Bestselling author Julie Cross teams up with international model Mark Perini to create You Before Anyone Else, a poignant and authentic contemporary YA novel and companion to Halfway Perfect

The supportive friend, the reliable daughter, the doting big sister: Finley is used to being the glue that holds everyone together. But while her sweet demeanor makes her the perfect confidant, her wholesome look isn’t landing her the high-paying modeling jobs, which are what Finley needs if she is going to reopen her mother’s dance studio.

Enter Eddie. He’s intense and driven, not to mention the life of every party, and he completely charms Finley. The last thing she wants is another commitment to stand in the way of her dreams, but when she’s with Eddie, their chemistry takes over and she can let go of her responsibilities and just be. After all, what’s so wrong about putting herself first once in a while?

Except Eddie is hiding a secret. A big secret. And when it surfaces, he and Finley are going to have to choose between their love for each other and everything else…

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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

ARC Review: Shadow Rider by Christine Feehan

I’m honestly not sure where to start with this book, or how it made me feel. This is the first story I have ever read from this author, which makes my feelings for it that much more complex. On one hand, I have been dying to read one of her stories for so very long, and I am aware that they are loved by many. I know that she could be considered the Queen of Paranormal Romance as well, and has been hailed as such before. So, naturally, I wanted to love this book so hard, but unfortunately, I didn’t.

There were certain aspects of the book that I enjoyed though. I pushed through the story to finish it and I’m glad for that. I loved the concept behind the Shadow Riders. The ability is fresh, new, and unique as is their cause. The thought that certain individuals have the capability to attach their shadows to other shadows and disappear into them, able to ride them to another destination is pretty rad. Add in the ability to hide within the depths of a shadow, psychic abilities, and exceptional fighting skills? Yes please.

I loved the Ferraro family, and honestly, I probably would read the next in the series just to see what happens to the next member of said family. I would also be curious to see if the storylines themselves get better. However, I wasn’t too fond of the heroine, Francesca. In some ways, I liked her. I liked her ability to empathize with others and that she had pride in her work. With that said, she was a very wishy-washy character who one minute would be hell-bent on reveling in her independence and suddenly be the ultimate submissive. While I have thoroughly enjoyed other characters and books that explore those sexual preferences, there wasn’t consistency between the hero and heroine of the story. There appeared to be boundaries that simply disappeared with no effort or a way to understand why.

Stefano was the typical Alpha male hero, and usually I like that, but the writing swept away the majority of the substance needed for a story. While I loved the backgrounds of the characters, and how they came to be Shadow Riders, as well as how they were vigilantes in the war against hardcore criminals in a flawed system of justice, I couldn’t get past other aspects of the book. I think that the idea behind the story, and the storyline revolving around Francesca and Barry Anthon (the bad guy) was good. I also loved the ending. I loved the conclusion. Despite that, the book itself fell flat, and it took me weeks to get through.

I know that I am mostly rating the book based on the story, but I cannot deny the issues I had with the writing itself. The redundancy and constant use of certain words relating to thoughts and actions between Francesca and Stefano made it nearly impossible to turn the page. I had a difficult time wanting to wait for the next interesting part because the sexual scenes were anything but hot because of the misguided use of certain words and descriptions.
Honestly, if I’m reading a romance, I want to feel it to the depths of my soul. I want to feel so turned on that if my guy is next to me, he can feel the heat. This book didn’t transport me into an experience of love and want and need that I crave when I read a romance. It didn’t give me the feeling of happiness I like to find when the couple overcomes their obstacles and gets their happily-ever-after. So, unfortunately, this book just wasn’t the one for me. Regardless, I will most likely read the next one, hoping that it will be not only better, but also that the next couple does give me that feeling of a lifted heart.

**ARC provided by Publisher**

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ARC Review: Exiled by Jasinda Wilder

I just have to start out by telling you that this is the third part in The Madame X Series. You can not start reading the series at part 3, these books are not standalones. So if you want to be a part of the wonderful experience that is the Madame X Series, you need to start at book one and come back to this review when you are ready for book 3. The prior books as well as this review will contain spoilers of the preceding books in the series.

Okay now that that warning is out of the way let's get down to business. This has been a truly compelling and intriguing series . Exiled is the final installment and provides the answers to the questions about Isabel's identity that have followed the series. Exiled also brings an end to the love / hate triangle between Isabel, Logan and Caleb. By way of background, I gave the first two installments in this series five stars each and they were five well-deserved Stars. As much as it pains me to do it, to really be honest about where this book falls on the rating scale, I had to give it a solid three stars. I think it is necessary to dissect my rating a little bit just so that you have a clear picture of what it means.

First, in terms of the writing and the language of this book, this is definitely Wilder at her best as usual. The language is Rich and nuanced and the author paints a picture that you can engage in at every scene in the book. If this review were just about the technical and structural aspects of the writing, it would be a total 5 star review. The reason this book wound up in my good but not great category is because of the progress of the actual story.
I think that because the first two books present so many issues that have to be resolved in terms of Isabelle's background, a lot of this book is spent explaining Isabel and her past. This is done through conversations between Isabel and Caleb, Isabel and Logan and it is also accomplished through a series of flashbacks. The thing that can be a little difficult for the readers who are expecting the explosive romance and sex that we found in the first two books is that this is more the story of Isabel's life including how she came to live in New York, her parents and finally we learn how Isabel and Kaleb met. As much as we need the biographical information, I have to admit that there were parts of the book that just weren't as compelling as what I came to expect from the series. Some of the book felt like the coming-of-age story of Isabelle.

The other thing about this book that is a little bit different from the other books in the series is that a sort of triangle emerges. I know it's been there in other books but it was a little more complicated in this one in terms of Isabelle's feelings. That's all I can tell you without spoiling anything but it was one of the things that I wasn't necessarily crazy about. And the reason I wasn't crazy about it is because all the things that we know Caleb did to Logan. In the first two books the readers are kind of torn about their feelings for Caleb, we are trying to decide is he a good guy or a bad guy. When book two closes, however, we are fairly certain that Caleb is a bad guy. It was hard sometimes to read Isabel's positive feelings for someone who destroyed Logan's life in many ways. I guess how you ultimately feel about that issue depends on whether you are team Caleb or team Logan.

The last thing about this book that I REALLY did not enjoy was the twist on the unexpected thing that happens. I refuse to spoil anything but there is an issue that arises and we have to wait most of the book to get an answer. When we get the answer it is just so far fetched, I was really unhappy about the answer we got. That's all I can tell you.

Obviously, you have to read this book if you've read the series. Be warned, you might not love Isabel at the end and you might not be as entertained by this book as the others in the series.

**ARC provided by Publisher**

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Feature and Giveaway: The Playboy's Proposal by Ashlee Mallory

Sometimes the perfect match is right under your nose…

Doctor Benny Sorensen has had it up to here with her party-throwing playboy neighbor. She’s declaring war. She doesn’t care how gorgeous or charming he is, he’s going down. That is until he proposes something she’s not sure she can say no to…

Wealthy ad man Henry Ellison lives an uncomplicated life that revolves around work, women, and partying. In that order. Until Benny storms into his life. To placate his attractive but hotheaded neighbor, Henry offers to help her land a date with the man of her dreams. Only as Henry makes her over and coaches her on the fine art of flirting, he realizes that the idea of this woman in any other man’s arms but his own is unacceptable. But Benny’s a forever kind of girl and forever might just be the one commitment he can’t make.

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