Thursday, April 28, 2016

Review: "The Wedding Pact" by Katee Robert (Contemporary Romance, Suspense)

The Wedding Pact (#2)
by Katee Robert

Series: The O'Malleys
The Marriage Contract (#1) (affil.)
An Indecent Proposal (#3) (affil.)
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Suspense
Publication Date: April 26, 2016

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Description from Publisher:
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Katee Robert continues her smoking-hot series about the O'Malleys—wealthy, powerful, and full of scandalous family secrets.

Carrigan O'Malley has always known her arranged marriage would be more about power and prestige than passion. But after one taste of the hard-bodied, whiskey-voiced James Halloran, she's ruined for anyone else. Too bad James and his family are enemy number 1.

Hallorans vs. O'Malleys—that's how it's always been. James should be thinking more about how to expand his family's empire instead of how silky Carrigan's skin is against his and how he can next get her into his bed. Those are dangerous thoughts. But not nearly as dangerous as he'll be if he can't get what he wants: Carrigan by his side for the rest of their lives.

My Rating:
Heat Rating:
I received a digital ARC from the publisher through for an honest, unbiased review. This in no way influenced my review. My opinion is my 100% own.

I wasn't entirely sure at first about a romance suspense featuring Irish crime families (Would it be too serious? Too violent?). And I hadn't read "The Marriage Contract", so I was a little put-off at first, feeling like I mssed somehing important when James mentions kidnapping Carrigan. But I had heard great things about Katee Robert and do find crime families generally fascinating.

Now, having read this, I do wish that I had read the first book, but only because I'm sure it was awesome like this one! I cannot wait for the next book!! This second installment is standalone enough that it can be thoroughly enjoyed without the first (and likely the third).

It took a little for me to warm up to Carrigan and James, her more than him. I could sense early on how good James was, which made me like him. The more I read, the more solidified that feeling became. Carringan's fiery spirit warmed (ha) me up to her about 6% in, especially how she held her own with James. I am a sucker for couples who push each other's buttons, so I thought they worked really well together.

The drama of the crime families was intense at times, but that goes with the territory. It's a fascinating subject and Katee Robert writes it so well. I appreciated how things weren't sugarcoated when it came to what had to be done. Characters you love still do bad things (torture, murder, being involved in the sex trade are all referenced, though not graphically), but that doesn't make you love them any less. You can sympathize and understand the life they live and what that means. I imagine this is helped by the way James and Carrigan involve themselves, as well.

I seriously enjoyed this. The love was believable, the suspense gripping, and the family as dysfunctional as you would expect. If you like The Sopranos, you will like this story!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Review: "The Little French Guesthouse" by Helen Pollard (Womens Literature, Chick Lit)

The Little French Guesthouse
by Helen Pollard

Publisher: Bookouture
Genre: Womens Literature, Chick Lit
Publication Date: April 28, 2016

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Description from Publisher: Sun, croissants and fine wine. Nothing can spoil the perfect holiday. Or can it?

When Emmy Jamieson arrives at La Cour des Roses, a beautiful guesthouse in the French countryside, she can’t wait to spend two weeks relaxing with boyfriend Nathan. Their relationship needs a little TLC and Emmy is certain this holiday will do the trick. But they’ve barely unpacked before he scarpers with Gloria, the guesthouse owner’s cougar wife.

Rupert, the ailing guesthouse owner, is shell-shocked. Feeling somewhat responsible, and rather generous after a bottle (or so) of wine, heartbroken Emmy offers to help. Changing sheets in the gîtes will help keep her mind off her misery.

Thrust into the heart of the local community, Emmy suddenly finds herself surrounded by new friends. And with sizzling hot gardener Ryan and the infuriating (if gorgeous) accountant Alain providing welcome distractions, Nathan is fast becoming a distant memory.

Fresh coffee and croissants for breakfast, feeding the hens in the warm evening light; Emmy starts to feel quite at home. But it would be madness to walk away from her friends, family, and everything she’s ever worked for, to take a chance on a place she fell for on holiday – wouldn’t it?

My Rating:
Sexiness Rating:
I received a digital ARC from the publisher through for an honest, unbiased review. My opinion is my own.

There is one word that continuously came to my mind as I read this, and that word is: Charming. This is the kind of story that really envelops you and makes you adore the quirky characters.

Well, except Nathan. He isn't really likable at all, but that's hardly a surprise considering you meet him while he's shtupping the wife of his B&B host while on a romantic holiday with the protagonist. :)

There is a great atmosphere in this story, so that you really get a sense of the surroundings, the friendly people Emmy encounters, and just why someone might never want to leave. And yet it's more than just escapism because it all feels very plausible. There is nothing here, short of perhaps the first 10% which sets up the story, that I think could be considered outrageous. It's so comfortable and feels almost familiar.

The friendship that grew between Emmy and Rupert was very sweet and seemed so genuine it made me smile.

The only thing that I was less excited about was Emmy and Alain. But only because there just wasn't enough! I wanted more, especially after the trip to the zoo. I wish Alain's character had been featured a bit more throughout.

Overall, this is a seriously charming story in an idyllic setting that I would definitely recommend to anyone looking for something relatively light and quick to read.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

REVIEW: "Tumbledown Manor" by Helen Brown (Womens Literature)

Tumbledown Manor
by Helen Brown

Publisher: Kensington 
Genre: Womens Literature
Publication Date: April 26, 2016

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Description from Publisher: From New York Times bestselling author Helen Brown comes a witty, uplifting novel about a woman who discovers that it's never too late to build the home--and the life--you've always longed for…

The windows rattle. The roof leaks. Every surface cries out to be stripped, painted, or polished. But for writer Lisa Trumperton, the dilapidated manor house that once belonged to her great-grandfather is far more than the sum of its battered parts. It's the chance for a new start on her own terms. The fact that it's in the Melbourne countryside of her Australian homeland, far from the deceitful ex-husband she just left behind in New York…well, that's a bonus.

Lisa sets to work refurbishing Trumperton Manor, assisted by her son, his friends, and a "Gray Army" of retired handymen. But it's not just her ancestral home that's being transformed. As she trades her chic Manhattan clothes for jeans and work boots, Lisa is changing and fortifying her relationships with her family and her sense of self. There are floods, fires, and catastrophes, but there are new allies too, including a one-eyed cat, a stubborn cockatoo, and a rugged landscaper with an irresistible grin. Piece by piece, the house is pushing Lisa beyond her old limits, daring her to embrace something bigger, braver, and more rewarding than she ever dreamed.

My Rating:
Sexiness Rating:
I received a digital ARC from the publisher through for an honest, unbiased review. My opinion is my own.

This was a nice and very pleasant story that I enjoyed from the first few pages. It was well-written and had some truly entertaining moments.

My favorite aspects were the animals and the interactions with them, and the setting itself. I'm an American who love basically all things "Australia", and the description here was fantastic and very immersive. I've been to Oz, but haven't yet made it to Melbourne or the surrounding areas, and it was easy to imagine what Castlemaine was like. I also have to say, I smiled at the earlier scene with roadkill kangaroo - having traveled from Perth to Ningaloo (Coastal Outback), it was very accurate and a nice reminder that Lisa had been affected by her 23 years in the U.S. (and that she was an animal lover).

The way that Lisa was about all of the animals was sweet and really made me like her character. The animals themselves were unique and added an extra flavor all their own. Who wouldn't fall in love with a mangy, feral, one-eyed cat who learns to trust? :)

Lisa was a fine character, as were the others, but something felt did feel a little flat about them. None-the-less, I liked each of the characters, except Jake, as is to be expected. I did wonder at first what the significance of her son being gay was, as it kept coming up, but I loved the slow-roll of the entire subplot.

The situations were all enjoyable and felt very genuine. The backstory about the Trumpertons was interesting, but I had hoped it would be slowly uncovered with little clues, adding more mystery to everything. Instead, basically everything is revealed at once not far from the end in a relatively unceremonious way.

Overall, I found this to be a wonderful story about a middle-age woman finding herself again.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Review: "Mayday" by Olivia Dade (Contemporary Romance)

Mayday (#3)
by Olivia Dade

Publisher: Kensington Publishing
Series: Lovestruck Librarians
Broken Resolutions (#1)
My Reckless Valentine (#2)
Ready to Fall (#4)
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publication Date: May 10, 2016

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Description from Publisher: Helen Murphy loves her supportive family, her close-knit circle of friends, and her part-time job at the library. What she doesn't love: the fact that she's a thirty-six-year-old near-virgin who lives in her parents' house. Eager to move out and reclaim her independence at long last, she's determined to get the library's new Community Outreach Coordinator position. Even if that means working side-by-side with the one man she desperately wants to avoid--Niceville's ambitious mayor Wes Ramirez, who happens to be her only previous lover, and the source of her greatest humiliation…

Wes needs to make up for his disastrous one-night--actually, make that one-hour--stand with deliciously nerdy librarian Helen. As they plan the city's upcoming May Day celebrations together, he'll try to prove he can do better, in bed and out. It may take every bit of his creativity and determination, but their budding romance has already gone down in flames once . . . and he'll be damned if he'll let Helen go a second time.

Sexiness Rating:

I received a digital ARC from the publisher through for an honest, unbiased review. My opinion is my own.

First, the things that I liked about this book.

There was some fun banter between Wes and Helen. At times, they felt well-matched for one another. Wes' "plan" was an interesting idea and the buildup generally worked. All of the information about the May Day holiday and its traditions was a fun touch.


The ages didn't feel right for this to me. The way they acted, the points they were in their lives... It felt more appropriate for people in their twenties than for people in their mid/late-thirties (and I say this as someone in her early thirties). Helen's "dream" was not just small, it didn't even seem to make much sense for someone her age. She just wanted to "work with books" and support herself... Working in a bookstore would have been fine with her. But there were no other jobs in bookstores or libraries for over hundreds of miles? That's asking for quite a suspension of disbelief. Her lack of considering jobs outside this didn't make me take her very seriously either, unfortunately. If she loves books, why not consider trying to work for a publisher? If supporting herself was so important, surely there were administrative opportunities available somewhere within 400 miles of her? :/ Something like this wouldn't ordinarily be all that important, except that it was such a big deal to the plot that she couldn't possibly work anywhere but at that library because there was no other work for her anywhere else.

I also couldn't really understand why exactly Wes cared so much all of a sudden. They had basically no history that he was aware of, aside from a "one-hour stand." Being apologetic, sure. Caring to "win her"? Hmm. The ridiculous jealous behavior didn't seem to work for me either.

Which brings me to the other thing that just didn't work for me: The sex. The language and behaviors felt jarring to me once things of sexual nature came up. You would get grandiose emotions that felt a bit over the top, and then things like "I want to eat your pussy" and "He couldn't wait to feel her warm pussy pulsing around his cock." I'll admit that, generally, I cringe when I read "pussy" and "tits" in romance novels, but I can look past them most of the time.

In this, though, so much of everything was just about lust and sex. Wes didn't woo Helen. He got her off. They were either at work, or getting each other off somewhere (handjobs in cars, cunnilingus in the mayor's office, "dry humping" in a public pool...). It seems that even Helen's previous virgin status was just another thing to excite Wes and had very little baring on the plot.

Overall, I felt like there was a lot of promise here. I liked the author's voice, and the characters were all fine. The issues encountered were interesting and not too crazy as to be unbelievable. Unfortunately, I need to toss this into the "Not for Me" pile.

If you are someone who enjoys jealous alpha males, borderline-smutty sex scenes, and insta-lust then this is very likely the book for you! If not, it just might not be your cup of tea. :)

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

😍REVIEW: "Crazy, Stupid, Fauxmance" by Shellee Roberts (YA Romance)

Crazy, Stupid, Fauxmance
by Shellee Roberts

Publisher: Entangled Publishing - Teen Crush
Series: Creative HeArts #3
Ten Things Sloane Hates About Tru #1 (affil.)
How Willa Got Her Groove Back #2 (affil.)

Mariely & Cabot #1
Genre: YA Romance
Publication Date: April 18, 2016

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Description from Publisher:
Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book contains a kickass heroine, a boy so hot he’ll make you shiver, and a falling-in-love story fit for the big screen. You’ll want to settle in and have the popcorn ready.

After Mariely Hinojosa and Cabot Wheeler both break up with their significant others at the same party, Mariely sees a way to get even with both of their exes. Everyone knows that the best way to get over a breakup is a hookup—a fake hookup, that is. Three weeks, all fun, no strings, and definitely no heartbreak at the end.

But somewhere between the sweet hand-holding and melt-your-mind kisses, their fake relationship starts to feel less like an act and more like the real thing...but Mariely’s a free-spirited girl from the other side of the tracks, and Cabot’s the hot trust-fund guy from the Hills.

They’d never work for real...

My Rating:
Sexiness Rating:
I received a digital ARC from the publisher through for an honest, unbiased review. My opinion is my own.

Very cute story. I haven't read YA in awhile, but this one really grabbed me from the beginning.

Mariely is funny, and quirky, and you can't help but love her. She's got a style and flair that is her own, and I loved that she marched to the beat of her own drum (regardless of her reasons).

Then, you have Cabot, who is also funny, and such a genuinely nice guy. He is that guy that people want to dislike because things seem to come so easily for him, but he is just too darn likable. And one you get to know him, you realize that he has a lot of turmoil just under the surface.

Immediately, you see that these two are obviously well-matched and you can't wait until they let themselves accept that.

There is an interesting reveal about Mariely's boyfriend, Jacen, that really surprised me, but I appreciated how it was done. And appreciated how it was all handled throughout. Jacen isn't a bad guy, much like so many exes, and it's nice to see a relationship between exes that isn't hateful. The contrast between Jacen and Audrey was very obvious, but they were both flip-sides to the break-up coin.

I enjoyed the setting, both Austin and the arts school. I've been to Austin and even got to enjoy the Drafthouse and the uniqueness that is ATX in areas like South Congress. It was a great setting for a story like this one, with the artsy vibe. The school also worked to make the characters less childish, with the "tracks" and scheduling, and the characters being more free.

The things that kept this from 5 stars for me were: There were some things that seemed just too stereotypical "rich" vs "poor"... I wasn't a big fan of Mariely not really acknowledging her prejudice and how dumb it was that she dated Jacen because he was "like her." Or the way that she trivialized Cabot's issues just because he was rich.