Review: Forbidden, by Lauren Smith

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Part of a series? Yes.

Cliffhanger? Yes.

Category/Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance

Publisher: Forever Yours

Pages: 167

Blurb:

Kat has always been a good girl. She studies hard and never stays out too late. But when sitting in a pub on her birthday, she realizes she’s a nineteen-year-old virgin who’s never really lived. And she wants tonight to be the night that changes.

Then she sees him walk in. He’s tall, dark, handsome, and straight out of her deepest fantasies. His voice makes her knees feel weak, and when he smiles, she imagines him doing wicked things to her in bed. From the look in his eyes, she knows he’s imagining it too. So when he asks if he can walk her home, she hears herself whisper yes . . .

ADD IT TO GOODREADS


 

REVIEW:

I received this book via Netgalley for an honest review.

Forbidden is the first installment in Her British Stepbrother series/serial. This is a short first installment, mainly focusing on the introduction of the main characters Kat and Tristan. This story is written in third person with heavy inner musings thrown in.

So… Am I in love with this story? Not necessarily, but I did spend a good enough time reading this book. It’s a quick read, a bit too sweet at times and also a bit childish regarding Kat’s reactions, but overall it’s nice.

The author spends a lot, and I mean a lot, of time sharing Kat’s (and a bit of Tristan’s) inner musings. Usually I enjoy it when it helps me understand the characters and see their evolution, but here I’m afraid it turns out to be a bit too repetitive to keep me riveted from start to finish. I would have probably enjoyed it more if there were more dialogues. But you know what, it’s only my opinion. We all often feel differently when it comes to this.

The plot itself is easy. Is it too easy? Well, I think the purpose of this installment is mainly to introduce the characters, the conflicts coming in the second installment and how Kat and Tristan get closer, so much so that we have to root for them later on when actual conflicts happen. Doing a fairly in depth intro is fine, but I would have loved to see more real conflicts in this installment instead of giving off the very obvious hints as to what to expect in the next installment. Here, I think that the few things happening (mainly Kat acting a bit too ‘childish’) are mostly to bring some type of issues to the story so Kat and Tristan don’t get close too quickly. But these issues are truly non-issues and I can’t help but think that the plot in this first installment misses a little something to tie me over and make me want to crave the second book in the series.

Kat and Tristan are quite likable even if, as I already said, Kat is a bit too childish for me. She’s not a child and she does have depth beyond her years, but on the other hand she tends to act as you’d expect a teenager sometimes. I understand where she comes from, so it’s funny but she didn’t annoy me as I expected she would. It just bugged me a bit. Tristan is your usual play boy, but with a softer side that we see quite fast. There are a few things I’d like to see regarding his family dynamic and I’m sad that it’s not more used here in this first installment.

Overall, it’s a rather nice introduction to this story. The tropes used here are fairly common and that’s probably why I’m not necessarily overeager to read the next book, but I will read it. I think the author can surprise.

RATING:

3 to 3.5

Review: A Fighting Chance, by Shannon Stacey

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Part of a series? No.

Category/Genre: Contemporary Romance.

Publisher: Carina Press

Pages: ? (This is a novella.)

Blurb:

All work and no play makes Adeline Kendrick a dull girl, so when she heads to a casino resort for a friend’s bachelorette weekend, she’s ready to have a good time. Until she runs into Brendan Quinn, professional fighter and the one who got away—the one her family drove away—and things take a turn for the interesting.

Running into his ex won’t shake Brendan. Even if it brings up the old pain of loving her when she was only slumming. Even if she looks really good. In fact, what better way to get over the past than to take advantage of the still-sizzling chemistry running hot between them? He’s there to win an MMA fight, but he won’t say no to a little physical relief of a different kind.

But when the weekend is over, Adeline isn’t ready to give up her second chance that easily. Brendan is still the one for her, no matter what her family thinks. Now, if only she can convince him of that…

ADD IT TO GOODREADS


 

REVIEW:

I received this book via Netgalley for an honest review.

This is my first book written by this author and while I can imagine that other books could appeal to me, this novella is a disappointment, as much for the writing as for the characters and plot.

I don’t want to be harsh or anything, but while this isn’t a bad novella I don’t think it’s a good one either. Honestly, there’s no compelling voice here, no thrilling plot and the writing itself is rather dull/bland with some words used too much for my liking on the same page. Considering I wasn’t overly invested in the story I was able to focus a lot more on the writing itself. That being said, I have an ARC so I’m sure editors worked their magic with the author before A Fighting Chance was published.

The story itself is very, very straightforward. I can’t say it’s a surprise because this is a novella, not a novel so it’s without saying that the plot has to be less thick. But still, I think it would have been good to at least get ONE conflict or anything to threaten Brendan and Adeline’s relationship. Instead, I honestly didn’t feel once that it’s a second chance romance. It’s way too easy and the chemistry isn’t all there in my opinion. Speaking of… The sex scenes are like reading a grocery list to me. It’s surprising. It doesn’t enhance the chemistry between the main characters, doesn’t spice things up either. I don’t know, I guess I could have gone without… :/

The characters, Adeline and Brendan, are cute. They don’t have a real trait that stands out. They’re nice, but I think the author didn’t develop them. And now that I’m finished with this novella, I still don’t understand Brendan’s decision six years ago or how come Adeline could forgive and forget so easily when she’s supposed to still be hurt over it. Once again, I think it’s too easy.

I’m not saying I always need angst in books, but I do need some conflict to help the plot along, to develop the characters and actually feel something while reading. Here, it’s a nice story, but I don’t see the point. I’m really sorry.

RATING:

2.5 to 3

Review: Playing Pretend, by Tamsyn Bester

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Part of a series? No.

Category/Genre: Contemporary Romance.

Self-published.

Pages: 293

Blurb:

Kadence Kavanagh has spent the last two years trying to rebuild her life. When a job opportunity presents itself, she can’t say no, even if it’s with the man who’s life was ruined by her father’s indiscretion. It’s been years since she last saw Caleb Callahan, and she’s not even sure he remembers her, but she’s determined to give herself a clean slate no matter who she has to work for.

In the unlikeliest of circumstances, Caleb becomes her savior – if somewhat reluctantly – and she discovers that the man she’s read about in the gossip columns is nothing more than a smoke screen. Kadence knows that keeping her distance is for the best, no matter how difficult, but when Caleb proposes the unthinkable, she finds herself caught between what’s real, and what she wishes was real.

Caleb and Kadence lose themselves in a lie, and when reality comes knocking, they realize that all they were doing was playing pretend…

ADD IT TO GOODREADS


 

REVIEW:

I received this book via Netgalley for an honest review.

This standalone novel, mostly written from Kadence’s POV, is a not unheard of, but it still works even though sometimes my interest dwindled.

I don’t know what’s going on this year, but I often find myself bored with books and think about taking a break (meaning that I want to stop reading and put the book aside and never pick it up again). It’s very unusual for me. Here, twice I had to convince myself to keep reading and I’m glad I did because while it’s not my favorite book, it’s still a nice story.

Playing Pretend doesn’t miss the mark for me, but somehow it’s not a book I fully enjoyed and the main reason is simple; I don’t like Kadence Kavanagh.

Reading her POV is interesting even though sometimes I think the author does a bit too much and the character’s inner turmoil takes precedence to the plot and rhythm of the story. So, her POV isn’t the real issue because the author manages rather well to conveys her main character’s thoughts and traits. My issue is that Kadence doesn’t show much of a backbone.

I can understand a character’s weakness, I can understand if the female main character has a really hard time resisting the male interest even when he’s being downright awful and doesn’t show much of any redeeming quality, but here it’s too much for me to actually sympathize to Kadence and all she has to go through.

Yes, she truly is a nice girl and has a big heart, but you see at some point I want her to actually do something for herself. Basically, Caleb has to invade her personal space and she’s a goner, even when she knows he’s about to hurt her. AGAIN. I think I wouldn’t have minded that if only I could have seen an evolution in her, if only I felt more of the chemistry between Caleb and her and if only I actually liked Caleb earlier in the novel.

Even now that I’m finished with this novel I’m still annoyed with Kadence. Maybe it’s me because somehow I can’t truly put myself in her shoes and understand all her choices, or the choices she should have made but didn’t. :/

The plot itself stands on its own rather well even though I think sometimes in the book nothing noticeable happens for a few chapters and then many things happen at once and not much is fully explored. For example, we don’t really see much of anything of Nathalia, we don’t know much about that bomb Kadence’s mother drops, I don’t get what is the purpose of the very, very brief encounter between Kadence and Katrina. I can’t explain these examples or else it’d spoil your reading, but I feel like there’s something missing here to fully complete this story. (But there are no lose ends, don’t worry).

The writing is flowing well enough that I easily got into the story, but then I got a bit ‘bored’ when it becomes obvious that nothing worth noticing happens for a long while. It’s my opinion, so…

You see, I don’t really know how I truly feel after reading this book. Without a doubt, it’s a good book with a rather solid story. Many romance readers will probably fall for this story and these characters, but I’m afraid my personal taste makes it harder for me to completely fall for Kadence and Caleb and their story.

RATING:

3 to 3.5

Review: Make Me Sin, by J.T. Geissinger

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Part of a series? Yes.

Cliffhanger? No.

Category/Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance, Rockstar Romance.

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Pages: 400

Blurb:

Chloe Carmichael’s life feels pretty sweet—she’s both maid of honor and florist for her best friend’s A-list wedding, things are getting serious with her boyfriend, and her flower shop is about to get a spread in a national magazine. But it all quickly turns sour whenever the best man, Bad Habit drummer A.J. Edwards, shows his face…his handsome, unforgettable face. A.J. is everything Chloe doesn’t want: tattooed, selfish, and all-around bad news. So why can’t she stop thinking about him?

Goody two-shoes Chloe isn’t exactly A.J.’s type, either, but the chemistry between them is undeniable. A.J. will be the first to say he isn’t a saint, but there’s something he’s not saying—something that would devastate Chloe. The only way he can protect her is to push her away, but the drummer finds he needs her now more than ever. When a wedding-day confrontation reveals secrets they’re both hiding, will Chloe and A.J. ever find their rhythm again?

ADD IT TO GOODREADS


 

REVIEW:

I received this book via Netgalley for an honest review.

Make Me Sin is the second book in the Bad Habit series. Each book features a different band member and their significant other. If you remember, last year I reviewed Sweet As Sin which is the first book in the series. I qualified the first installment as a guilty pleasure. Is Make Me Sin like that too?

Guess what?

No! It’s undeniably better and in my opinion more emotionally charged. Or maybe I was able to connect a lot more easily with Chloe and A.J. But the thing is, I truly love this book.

Of course, I can still point out a few things I think could make this novel even better, but it’d be nitpicking. I’d rather start with what I like and love in this second book.

The writing is, in my opinion, more consistent and flows even better. In this book, the dialogues aren’t overdone and mingle really well with the descriptive parts and Chloe’s inner musings (since this book is mostly from her POV). Also, the author conveys really well some of the emotions depicted here.

Then, there are the characters. I love Chloe and A.J. When I read the first book in the series, I just knew I’d love Chloe and A.J’s story, but I would have never expected being so taken by them (especially A.J. 😉 ). Truly, it’s a wonderful surprise.

Then, you have the plot that, while it has its flaws, works rather well. I find it more believable than some events from the first installment.

But now that you know what I love the most in this book, I need to talk a little bit of the things that prevent me from rating this book with the highest rating.

First of all, there still are a few little things I find a bit ‘too much’ for me. It’s not so much some tiny bits of Chloe’s POV that are maybe a bit too chick-lit in some small ways (and while I don’t mind chick-lit I find it clashes a bit with the overall story), but it had more to do with the plot itself.

I know, a few lines before I wrote that the plot works well, but it doesn’t mean it’s all to my liking. Before I go further, I want to point out something. There’s something huge happening at one point that completely took me by surprise. I won’t tell you who is involved or what it is so it doesn’t ruin your reading pleasure, but let me tell you something. HOLLY. SH*T! 😮

I wasn’t expecting that to happen and I swear I thought my heart would break. So you see, some bold choices made by the author are really good and serve to up the story. But then, you have things happening that you see coming from a mile away and that’s when you end up sighing and rolling your eyes a few times. The whole thing with Eric was no surprise whatsoever and while it’s rather well done (even though I wouldn’t have minded a bit more regarding his own troubles to be brought to light in more details), I’m still sad that nothing surprised me and that everything is over rather quickly. I didn’t agonized much here. It’s too bad because sometimes throughout the novels I think there are parts a bit ‘boring’ that could have used a bit more tension.

Overall, it’s a really, really good addition to the rockstar romance novels out there. If anything, I think it’s better than the first one and I will keep Chloe and A.J in my heart for a little while.

I look forward to the next book!

RATING:

4

Review: The Fractured Heart, by Scarlett Cole

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Part of a series? Yes.

Cliffhanger? No.

Category/Genre: Contemporary Romance, Adult, Suspense Romance.

Publisher: St Martin’s

Pages: 283

Blurb:

All things, when placed under pressure, eventually break or leave a mark.

Tattoo artist Brody “Cujo” Matthews knows how to keep things simple. In life and in love. Abandoned as a child by a mother who refused to stick around to raise three boys she didn’t want, he’s intent on staying clear of complicated women. The only things complicated in Cujo’s life are the killer tattoos he designs and inks. That all changes when he’s asked to help organize his best friend Trent’s engagement party, which means working with Trent’s fiancée’s best friend, Drea, the definition of high maintenance and sizzling curves. And the one woman he doesn’t want to walk away from.

Andrea “Drea” Caron is broke and tired. After years of caring for her ailing mom, she’s at the end of her rope trying to manage the piling medical bills, two jobs, and a life placed on hold. She certainly doesn’t need the added frustration of a sexy playboy tattoo artist messing up her best friend’s engagement party or her carefully balanced life. But when Drea witnesses the abduction of a woman from the café she works at, she can’t help but turn to Cujo who’s determined to prove to Drea that he’s someone she can count on forever…but as they attempt to bring the truth to light, someone is working to bring that forever to a sudden, deadly halt.

ADD IT TO GOODREADS


 

REVIEW:

I received this book via Netgalley for an honest review.

This is the second book in the Second Circle Tattoos series. The first book, The Strongest Steel, is probably one of my favorite books read in 2015 so obviously I was eager to get the second book this time featuring Brody “Cujo” and Drea. Now, it’s time for me to debrief a little with you.

I don’t know if it’s because I had such high expectations or if I’m still recovering from the end of the year celebrations, but this book doesn’t do it for me. I enjoyed reading it to a certain extent, but it’s nowhere near how I have felt while reading The Strongest Steel.

If you ask me, this book is more of a “suspense” book than a contemporary romance and while it could have been a thrill, I’m left feeling a bit uncertain as to the execution… :/

Believe me, I’m surprised I feel this way and it’s hard to explain without giving away spoilers so I’ll do my best.

You see, I really love Cujo and Drea so I think it saved this story for me otherwise I’d have had a hard time finishing it. Cujo has a lot going on in this book between his building feelings for Drea, his hangups regarding some events from his past and a “thing” from his past coming back suddenly. I understand that and I understand this character but… I felt nothing while reading! He is feeling a lot of things and it’s not developed. The same goes for Drea. I’m afraid that the whole suspense aspect of the plot takes up all the space.

Speaking of the suspense, while I see the nice tropes that could have been used to keep me on the edge, the whole thing is rather wonky. Drea is ALWAYS at the right place and the right time to see something or someone and get things rolling. I can buy it once, but several times? I’m sorry, but that’s when I can’t suspend disbelief anymore. And the same goes for the whole thing near the end! In the end, nothing much happens. And I didn’t fear for Drea or Cujo. (Even when I should).

Now, let me go back to the romance between Drea and Cujo. Considering what we know of them two going in, I expected them to be a bit more like cat and mouse in the beginning. The opening chapter is a blast, but then I find that they both get close easily. I’m not saying they jump on each other immediately, but they do a 180 rather quickly. I would have loved a slower burn, a real romance instead of all this suspense thrown in every few pages, pushing to the background the characterization at times, but also the whole issues Drea and Cujo have to overcome to be together.

For example, I find that Cujo easily pushes away Drea a couple of times and while it’s understandable why considering what he’s going through and what he went through at one time, but we don’t see him working things through in his head, we don’t see him struggle. We’re told. 

Basically, I find the story stilted and without much emotions for me to feel. There are everything to make this novel unforgettable, but unfortunately it’s a bit of a miss for me contrary to the first book.

But, I will read the next installment and maybe with less expectations which should prevent me from being disappointed.

Don’t let my opinion stop you from reading this book because I’m pretty sure many of you will enjoy this novel. There are things to enjoy and some littles things that make you want to read the next chapter. I just wish The Fractured Heart had the same impact on me as the first book.

RATING:

3

Review: Layers, by T.L. Alexander

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Part of a series? Yes.

Category/Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance

Self-published

Pages: 308

Blurb:

Alexia Keith, self-proclaimed nerd and potty-mouth, is a beautiful, scotch drinking, complicated mess. In other words, she has issues, and the last thing she needs is her boss, Jaxson Ryan, CEO of Ryan Acquisitions, messing with her issues. She finds him hard and even harder to resist, but she must, he’s off limits.

One of New York’s most eligible bachelors, Jaxson Ryan, is the poster boy for the tall, hot, conceited self-proclaimed manwhores. The only thing he wants is Ryan’s, Risk Manager, Alexia Keith.

What happens, when a man with a bedpost-notching waiting list, a man who thought he had it all, wants the only woman he can’t have?

The Layer Series is written for adults, by an adult (this is questionable). In contains adult language, and adults doing adult stuff like, hot sex and drinking scotch. It’s written for those who like to laugh and maybe shed a tear or two.

ADD IT TO GOODREADS


 

REVIEW:

I received this book via Netgalley for an honest review.

Layers is the first book in the Layers series.

I will keep this short because this book is a DNF for me at 14%. I know, it’s very early in a book to give up and maybe I will pick it up at another time. The thing is, I can’t find a single thing I enjoy in this book or a single thing that makes me want to know more.

I don’t like the overly caricatural characters, I don’t like the heroine’s POV (her voice if you wish), I don’t think the dialogues flow well and to me all characters sound the same with an over-use of “Freakin'”, “fuck” and “hey” for no real reason whatsoever. The plot itself isn’t fully developed considering I’m only at 14% in, but even the mystery/conflict introduced doesn’t interest me, probably because all characters annoy me. A. Lot.

Also, the story starts out of nowhere and while it’s the author’s choice to throw us right in the story without much build up, it’s not something I enjoy here because I find the opening scenes a bit confusing and so over the top that I can’t bring myself to smile when I should. And I can’t picture the male character, Jaxson Ryan. Actually, other than his eyebrow thing there’s no real description of him when he makes his first appearance. He doesn’t sound like a character I would want to know more, to be honest. It’s obvious him and Alexia have a past, but it’s confusing and somehow I don’t buy it.

Once again, I know I’m only at 14% so I can’t judge anything, but right now there are too many things working against the book for me and I don’t feel like pushing through my annoyance and dislike to read more of this book. Maybe in a few days/weeks I will want to try again, but right now I know this book isn’t for me.

I’m really sorry, but I’m not the right reader for this book. Don’t let it stop you from picking it up, because it could be a good match for you. 😉

RATING:

I won’t rate this book because it’s a DNF

Review: The Hurricane, by R.J. Prescott

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Part of a series? Yes.

Cliffhanger? No.

Category/Genre: Contemporary Romance, New Adult, Sports Romance.

Publisher: Piatkus (Little, Brown Book Group UK)

Pages: 300

Blurb:

Emily McCarthy is living in fear of a dark and dangerous past. A gifted mathematician, she is little more than a hollow, broken shell, trying desperately to make ends meet long enough to finish her degree.

Through an unlikely friendship with the aging, cantankerous owner of an old boxing gym, Em is thrown into the path of the most dangerous man that she has ever met.

Cormac “the Hurricane” O’Connell is cut, tattooed and dangerous. He is a lethal weapon with no safety and everyone is waiting for the mis-fire. He’s never been knocked out before, but when he meet Em he falls, HARD. Unlike any other girl he’s ever met, she doesn’t want anything from him, but just being around her makes him want to be a better person.

They are polar opposites who were never meant to find each other, but some things are just worth the fight.

ADD IT TO GOODREADS


 

REVIEW:

I received this book via Netgalley for an honest review.

The Hurricane is the first book in the series and the second book is now available. It’s funny because up until a few days ago I’ve never heard of this book. I must have been under a rock somewhere because when I see the amount of ratings this book has I don’t understand how come I’ve never heard of it.

Anyway… Because I love sports romance novels and fighters romance books even more, I had to read this one. And…

I’m disappointed!

I expected to love this one so much that I’d be gushing shamelessly like so many reviewers but in the end it doesn’t live up to my expectations. I don’t feel like all the readers that seem to be so in love with this book.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad book and it has its moments when I’ve easily lost myself to the story, but these moments are too few and “far” between moments when I got bored. I know, some of you must be cursing me already and thinking I’m nuts or something, but I think the author is mostly telling and not especially showing, even when the emotions are running high or when there are scenes with the two main characters that should have me either afraid or swoon. For example, when the main character says that a room stinks, I want to actually “feel” it. You know what I mean? Basically, I don’t find the writing vivid enough to make me experience this story as I should and I wouldn’t be this disappointed if this story wasn’t calling for gut wrenching emotions at times.

Also, while Emily and O’Connell are so sweet together, I didn’t see the actual falling in love. To me, it feels like they meet, feel lust and soon after deeper emotions. It would be fine if only I was on board, but somehow I kept expecting something more and truly feel the chemistry. And the sex scenes were… honestly, I don’t like these scenes because it goes back to what I said above: I don’t feel the chemistry. Somehow, I don’t feel like so many other readers and I am honestly wondering if I’m not turning into a very tough reader. :/

Overall, it’s a nice story with interesting supportive characters, but if I’m being honest there’s not much happening (and I mean in a term of actual conflicts) throughout the book. It’s mostly in the end and it’s over pretty fast, but isn’t badly executed. I think some chapters are more filler chapters than anything else and usually that’s when I got a bit disconnected.

So yes, I’m not blown away and it makes me really sad. I guess I’ve missed the mark here. To me, it’s an average read, entertaining in some parts, but the overall story could have been a lot more powerful if only emotions and feelings could have been felt through the writing itself. I want more “showing” and less “telling”.

I’m tough and I apologize, but I don’t know if it’s only me but when I expect a lot of a book I end up a lot more difficult once I’m finished if it doesn’t meet my expectations.

But don’t worry, I’m not rating this book badly! I know that when reading my review you’d think I hated it, but I didn’t. It’s a nice story with a lot more potential in my opinion.

RATING:

3