Review: Tempting Fate

tl;dr: a great story about native peoples and culture that I really enjoyed

The Story:

Naomi lives a solitary life, and has taken some time from her busy jewelry business to spend some time alone in the Colorado mountains. Unfortunately, her relaxing vacation is cut short when two escaped cons from a nearby prison accost her and assault her. She manages to get away, but falls and injures herself. She’s found the next day by Chaska, who is an emergency rescuer, his sister, and their “pet” wolf.

Chaska and his sister are members of the Lakota Nation, and slowly, Naomi begins to realize her roots are there, too. The story from there involves a lot of interesting aspects of tribal customs and ceremonies. Naomi gets a lot of questions about her past and future answered, along with the eventual capture of the two cons and a run-in with parts of Naomi’s past that she’d rather not revisit.

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Review: In His Hands

tl;dr: amazing story about love, faith, and doing what’s right

The Story:

This series so far has been one hundred percent my jam. It combines a real plot with hot and steamy romance, the characters well-developed and the conflict completely absorbing. All three of Adriana Anders’ books in her Blank Canvas series take place in Blackwood, West Virginia, a small town settled in the mountains. Anders weaves interesting stories around a small but growing cast of central characters. However, each book is completely stand-alone, and reading them out of order won’t ruin the enjoyment of the books at all. It’s fun to see characters you’ve seen before pop up again, but you never feel like you’re missing large chunks of the story if you haven’t read them all.

In His Hands is the story of Luc Stanek and Abby Merkley. Luc owns a vineyard that is adjacent to a plot of land inhabited by a strict orthodox protestant cult. Abby is concerned about the lack of medical attention for the children, in particular an adolescent boy named Sammy. He exhibits signs of epilepsy and also has Downs Syndrome (which is identified by other characters since medical care is not part of the cult’s ethos), and she wants to earn money to get him out of there and get the care he needs. She asks Luc for a job, and he isn’t too keen on the idea as he is escaping his own demons and wants to be left alone.

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Review: Sexsomnia – Sleepless in Manhattan

tl;dr: some spice but a smidge too skeezy

The Story:

Consent is sexy.

It’s really not possible for non-consensual acts in a romance novel to ever be okay, at least in my eyes. In modern romance novels, the rapist doesn’t get the girl. (As he shouldn’t.) While rape isn’t particularly the problem between the hero and heroine in this book, the lines blurs where informed and enthusiastic consent can be given. And that part of it turned me completely off of this story and I just can’t redeem it.

The description of the book was entirely misleading. I assumed that the reason that Abigail withdrew her application from the administrative assistant position was due to the sexsomnia, but instead the plot is completely focused on how Abigail just thinks that Jayden is a huge jerk. Which, he is. He only becomes less of a jerk when he is jealous of her being within 50 feet of any other man and decides he has to commit to her in order to chill out his caveman self.

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Review: A New Leash on Love

tl;dr: story with life, loss, love, and adorable animals

The Story:

I have gotten a lot of stinkers since I started reviewing books for NetGalley. I don’t expect to be able to get access to the really amazing and established authors, but when I first signed up, I hoped to be able to read some less famous but equally good writers. Coming from fanfiction, where there are so many amazing amateur authors, it really makes you realize that not all the great writers are published. And that there are more authors than just those that wind up on the bestseller lists. The flip side of that, of course, is that sometimes published works are terrible, and not just because I didn’t enjoy them. I can fully acknowledge that some books I did not like were well-written and good; because I didn’t like them doesn’t mean they were terrible. (See my reviews for Eleanor & Park and The Royal We for books that are deserving of kudos but not my jam.)

That was a lot of rambling for me to say that my faith in my original mission of discovering amazing new writers has been restored. I loved this book. I don’t think I would go so far as to rate it as high up there as Tiffany Reisz (which, you all know, is my gold standard these days), but it was heartfelt, well-written, well-plotted, not entirely predictable, and just lovely. It had heart and lightness, it was both sad and happy at times, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

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Review: The Red

tl;dr: completely insane but satisfying erotica fantasy

The Story:

If you are unfamiliar with Tiffany Reisz, you may want to mentally prepare yourself. This book is bananas, but in the best possible way. The Red is about a young woman named Mona, who comes from scandalous beginnings (her mother was a free love kinda gal, and invited a man to impregnate her without any strings because she wanted a child) and is now faced with a arduous task of saving her late mother’s gallery from financial ruin. She’s gone over the books, and the prognosis in grim. Right at the moment she decides she can’t fight it any longer and needs to sell it, a mysterious man shows up, and offers her the money it will take to bring the gallery back from its debts IF she agrees to submit to his sexual appetites with a carte blanche agreement.

Mona is intrigued by the man, and really doesn’t want to sell the gallery, so she agrees. They embark on a year-long steamy affair, where she is given hints about their encounters from a variety of paintings. He shows up every few months for many hours of debauchery, which begin to become strange and twisted, and nearly unbelievable. She wonders if her imagination is that good, or if he’s drugging her somehow.

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Review: My Roommate’s Girl

tl;dr: interesting twist on a ‘Jesse’s Girl’ type plot

The Story:

The plot of this book surprised me, because I envisioned that the chase would be the bulk of it, and while that’s sort of true, it’s not really. Aiden is your average asshole, who sees a pretty girl and decides he has to have her. He sets in motion a pretty awful plan to get a hooker to seduce her boyfriend, who happens to be his roommate. But this plot only covers the first few chapters. Once he finally seems to be making inroads into getting into her pants, Aster stuns him by revealing that she spoke to the hooker and she knows everything.

But before this big revelation, Aiden has been trying harder than he’s ever tried to get a girl. He remarks to himself a few times how strange it is that he can’t seem to let go of the chase, even if she doesn’t seem totally interested. Normally, he doesn’t continue chasing a girl that doesn’t seem interested in his advances, but something about Aster spurs him on. The flip side to that is that he actually begins to see her as a person instead of an object, and then, well, there’s feelings involved.

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Review: Heat

tl;dr: save yourself some pain and stay far away from this garbage fire

The Story:

I picked up this book because I got a publisher email. If you’ll recall, I also reviewed the author’s last release, A Fare To Remember. I didn’t think it could honestly get worse than that one. I figured it would be a quick read, a few laughs, and then I’d write a review that was essentially a rehashing of the last.

This book was so much worse than the one before it. I don’t even want to review it. First, the review copy that they sent me was barely readable. The formatting was awful and random words and numbers were inserted throughout the book. I had the worst time following it because of those things. And not only that, but the story itself was the most bored I’ve ever been while reading erotica. The prose was infantile and awful. The characters were worse than paper dolls.

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Review: The Wedding Date Bargain

tl;dr: sweet and sexy chemistry overrides the few technical faults

The story:

When reading the title of a book, a reader generally has some expectations about what’s to follow. But when it comes to this book, toss them. I have no idea why the book is titled ‘The Wedding Date Bargain’. The wedding is a 3 page non-event, and I don’t even know where the bargain comes from.

This is the actual story: college friends Max and Sarah reconnect after 8 years, and then reconnect AGAIN one week later. Sarah has always had the hots for Max, and the feeling is mutual. She threw herself at him in college, but apparently he has a White Knight complex and refused to tarnish her virtue, so they spend 8 years mooning over the one that got away. When Sarah ends up working for his friend Sean’s chain of hotels, she AGAIN tries to seduce him and he AGAIN says he can’t be the guy to pop her cherry, because it would give her the wrong impression or something. But when Sarah agrees, and decides she’ll find someone else to fix her ‘problem’, Max goes 110% caveman and offers himself as tribute, because he can’t stand the idea of anyone else touching her.

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Review: The F Word

tl;dr: formerly overweight woman is plagued by high school broken heart

The Story:

Finishing this book was a struggle.

I’m not totally sure if it’s because the ‘women’s fiction but not romance’ genre, otherwise known as chick lit, is just not for me anymore, or if the book is actually not that good. I didn’t connect with any of it, and not because the gist of the story wasn’t interesting. It’s because the actual story fell very flat for me, mostly because I kept getting pulled out of it by visceral disgust or general disagreement with some of the things that were plied off as truth.

The F Word is apparently a follow-up to Conversations with a Fat Girl, which I didn’t read. That story is about Olivia’s friend, and while Olivia is a character in that book, the friend at the center of the first book is barely even mentioned in this one, which is what it is. This book takes place ten years after the first one. Olivia has been living in her Hollywood life with her doctor husband and working in a PR firm for celebrities. We are supposed to be making parallels between Caroline Lang, Olivia’s actress client going through a divorce, and Olivia herself. They both maintain an icy I’m-better-than-you demeanor, although it’s hard to tell from Caroline whether she means it or if it’s just a coping mechanism left over from her lonely childhood. Olivia, on the other hand, is just mean. She’s mean to her socialite couple friends, and makes very little effort to have friends of her own. She seems closer to her mom and her mom’s friends, although she doesn’t bare herself to anyone. Literally. She’s been married ten years and her husband has never seen her naked.

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Review: Chase

tl;dr: mistaken identity story remains listless on the page

The Story:

Chase Garrett has rearranged his whole life for his fiancée, whom he catches cheating on him with his best friend in the opening pages of the book. With no property to go back to, he decides to be reckless and join the IBR, the International Bull Riding circuit, and doesn’t look back. On one of his rides, a little boy dashes across the arena, thinking that he is his late father. Riley Barrett doesn’t understand that this Chase is not the same man, due to some physical similarities and how similar his name is to his dad’s.

Madeline Barrett, on the other hand, feels overwhelmed at being a single mother. It’s been many months since her husband died while bull riding, and she is trying to plan for their financial security. She has a ton of brothers, all of whom want to help, but she won’t let them because of pride. When she sees Chase and the way that he connects with Riley, she begins to feel all those stirrings that she’d avoided in the months since her husband’s passing.

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