Review: Blown Away, by Brenda Rothert

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Part of a series? No.

Category/Genre: Contemporary Romance

Publisher: Loveswept

Pages: 205

Blurb:

In an emotionally charged, wickedly hot novel of love and loss, a passionate affair gives two daring storm chasers the strength to overcome shattered dreams and the courage to build a future together.

One year after her fiancé died in a heartbreaking accident, Drew McGovern decides to honor his memory by joining his old storm-chasing buddies on their latest excursion. What she’s not so sure about, however, is whether she’s ready to move on. Drew wasn’t expecting to feel the powerful pull of desire toward Colby’s best friend. But there’s no denying the intensity of their connection . . . or the heat he inspires in the parts of her that are still very much alive.

Aiden O’Neal doesn’t trust himself around Drew. He’s wanted this girl for a long time—long enough to remember the stab of jealousy he felt the first time he saw her in Colby’s arms. Now he’s trying his best to behave himself. But when the wind starts blowing and the adrenaline starts pumping, Aiden can’t resist the urge to claim Drew as his own. Because when it comes to desire, he’s hoping to make lightning strike twice.

Advance praise for Blown Away
  
“After I devoured Blown Away in one sitting, Brenda Rothert is absolutely going on my auto-buy list. I don’t think I’ve ever read such brilliantly wound sexual tension, and there were times when I was straight-up jealous of the heroine because I wanted Aiden all to myself.”USA Today bestselling author Lauren Layne

ADD IT TO GOODREADS


REVIEW:

I received this book via Netgalley for an honest review.

Upon reading the blurb I was eager to read this novel. I mean, if it’s said to be emotionally charged and wickedly hot, it’s for me. That’s why I went in with high expectations.

While it’s a fast paced story and a really quick read, I can’t say I find it really hot or that emotional. It’s at odds with some things the characters are dealing with and I’m left hanging in a way.

You see, this novel opens with a very sad scene, something that should have immediately brought to life emotions and subsequently, I should have been all for Drew if not for Aiden. But the thing is, I think the emotions aren’t depicted that vividly to make me, as a reader, feel. I didn’t feel. I was merely a distant spectator and if I’m honest it went that way for most if not all the book.

I didn’t connect with Drew and Aiden even though they are likable characters and are somewhat enticing. I’m just afraid that the writing didn’t convey the kind of emotions I expected to feel like while reading a story built on something highly emotional.

Also, the hot factor of this book is completely lacking in my opinion. I’m not saying this with a comparison in mind with other books in the genre or in a more racy genre. No, I feel like the heat is lacking probably because I didn’t connect that much with Drew and Aiden, but also because the sex scenes seemed to be there only because it’s supposed to be there instead of showing us more of the connection between the characters. It’s an issue when it’s said in the blurb that there’s plenty of heat. I mean, even most of the sexual tension between the characters didn’t really work for me.

I’m sad to say all this because I truly love the plot and the story itself. It could be a huge, huge hit for me if only I clicked more with the characters and the writing. But don’t think it’s badly written, it’s just not the kind of writing I enjoy. It’s too flat for me and while some dialogues are really good, I’m afraid that the dialogue between Drew and Aiden isn’t exactly up to par with some other couples I’ve had the chance to read in books.

In the end, I believe it’s a good book for when you want to chill and if you’re in need of something quick, but it’s best not to expect an emotional slap going in.

RATING:

2.5 to 3

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Review: The Movie Star’s Red Hot Holiday Fling, by Christine Glover

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Part of a series? Yes.

Cliffhanger? No.

Category/Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance

Publisher: Entangled Publishing, LLC – Indulgence

Pages: 119

Blurb:

Determined to qualify for the fire department’s grueling physical, former marine Jessie Sullivan never gives up, despite the pins in her leg. The last thing she needs is a tall, incredibly hot action movie star sharing her gym…and who makes her want to trade in her reps for some sexy physical activity. Of the naked kind.

Blake Johnston is more than just a Big Screen Sex Machine, and he’s willing to prove it. Especially to a spirited and sexy ex-marine like Jessie. But when a harmless dare leads to sizzling fireworks, Jessie and Blake’s workout ends up generating some serious heat between the sheets. And it’s more than Jessie could have imagined. Much, much more.

But flings don’t last forever. And in two weeks, Jessie will have to say goodbye to her red-hot Christmas fantasy…

ADD IT TO GOODREADS


 

REVIEW:

I received this book via Netgalley for an honest review.

This novella is the first installment in the Sweetbriar Springs series.

What I like most when I think about this novella is that for once, the marine isn’t the male character. It’s a nice change, I have to admit it. But is it enough to keep me interested in the long run? Not really.

You see, going in I thought I would find characters with a real depth, a story that would bring out emotions, but I didn’t. Maybe it’s because this is a novella so by definition it’s a rather short story in length, but I believe the author doesn’t show enough when it comes to Jessie’s struggles. As soon as something emotional is coming we’re cut off and something more “analytical” takes place instead and that’s when I’m usually pulled back from a story. I miss Jessie’s in-depth characterization, but also Blake’s.

When it comes to Blake, even now that I’m finished with the story, I don’t know him that well. He’s a nice character, of course, and handsome, but I don’t really know what makes him tick and I don’t fully get why it’s so hard for him to open up to Jessie. Somehow, I think I’ve missed something when it comes to him.

The plot itself is pretty simple which is best when it comes to novellas. I regret some ellipses that, in my opinion, keep some things away from me as a reader. I didn’t see the change in Jessie and Blake’s relationship once they start sleeping together. In a way and if I exaggerate I feel like we go from physical attraction between Jessie and Blake to love. I would have liked a chapter detailing some more of their time together right after they start their casual fling. (And the end is a bit too cheesy for me. :/ )

Also, I think that some things regarding Jessie’s issues and Blake’s decisions (I can’t write more or else I’d spoil you) aren’t enough developed. Once again, I didn’t have enough room to feel and be invested.

It’s not because I think it’s a story more fitting for a novel than novella that I can’t appreciate the author’s writing or the nice flow of the dialogues. Some secondary characters are interesting and I wouldn’t have minded if only they had a bigger part in this story.

Overall, I think this novella is a nice choice for when you want a quick read. I believe my expectations are what truly prevented me from fully appreciating this novella as I probably should have.

RATING:

3

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: 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: 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