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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Review: So Wicked

tl;dr: it was confusing in some ways and still confusing in many more ways

The story:

So Wicked is the third in a series of so-called Bad Behavior novels, although I think “nonsensical behavior” may have been more apt. Marshall and Alexis run into each other at the bar that Marshall is opening, with the financial backing of her ex-husband that she abandoned, along with her infant daughter, 6 years before. Marshall has a visceral reaction to seeing her again, and lets loose in a string of profanities that could turn a gal’s hair white. But sparks fly between them, and leads to something more. So far, interesting premise, right?

Spoilers follow, because I don’t think I can fully explain the bizarre trajectory of this novel otherwise.

Continue reading

Review: Burn

tl;dr: weak heroine but great whodunit

The Story:

Someone is setting fire to an array of buildings set along the Riverfront district in Ridgefield, Connecticut, and it’s a veritable who’s-who of whodunits. That’s where the story begins, between a quivering real estate developer with a past and a handsome firefighter with a hero complex.

Chloe is trying to forge ahead with her career as a real estate wunderkind, flipping old abandoned warehouses into useable spaces with businesses on the ground floor below modern condominiums, revitalizing old with new. (An apt metaphor for her life.) Unfortunately, the building that is her current project goes up in flames, and she is considered a person of interest as all the evidence points to arson. Ryan was on the scene for the fire, and he’s training to be a fire inspector or something, so he is abreast of all the evidence that paints Chloe in a not so great light. Also, when he meets her, despite their immediate attraction, she’s pretty skittish and his spidey sense is alerted that she needs saving.

Continue reading

Review: Love on Tap

tl;dr: okay novel that’ll leave you more thirsty for beer than romance

The Story:

You know that feeling you get when you see characters in a TV show eating something, and suddenly you are craving it like nobody’s business? This happened to me with this book. I’m dying for some beer. I’ll probably be running out to the store later, but first, I’ll tell you about this book.

Love on Tap brings two characters together from opposite sides of the supply chain. Wyatt Montgomery needs a spectacular beer to reinvigorate his struggling gastropub in Denver, and Bec Dempsey needs some capital to fuel her craft brewery after her ex took off with the funds and her heart. After Wyatt hears some whispering about a so-called legendary brew called Zoria, he packs up and heads to the town of Antero to find it.

Once he meets up with Bec, she sends him on this bizarre quest that has him tracking down the items needed to create a new barrel of beer, and all of the suppliers in turn send him on other errands. It begins to feel a bit like a video game racked with side quests. There’s even an evil villain by the name of Threadgood, who has slicked-back greasy hair and acts like a mafia don, who also wants to lay his hands on this legendary brew.

During the events of the quest, Bec and Wyatt begin to spend a lot of time together, and one thing leads to another… Of course, since Bec feels like mixing business and pleasure is a recipe for disaster, she keeps her emotional distance. Or does she?

Technical Elements:

The plot was fine, if mediocre. I didn’t expect the direct sabotage to the Zoria from Threadgood, and honestly, it didn’t make much sense. His character was too mustache-twirly to be believable; he wasn’t a well-rounded character at all. But neither were Bec and Wyatt, for that matter. They were cardboard cut-outs, and there was a lot of “telling” rather than showing. This book uses a lot of italic asides, in order to have some sort of weird back and forth in the minds of the characters, as if they were arguing with themselves. (“Did he really think that? No, he didn’t.”)

One thing that puzzled me a little was Colin. He’s the financial backer that took off. I fully expected him to return, maybe full of regrets, throwing a wrench between the couple before they could arrive at their HEA. But no, he’s mentioned, but never appears. It felt a bit like Chekhov’s ex-lover, he was given a lot of weight in the beginning of the story, but it never pays off in a real way.

Final Thoughts:

The most vibrant thing about the book was the craft brewing aspect, which was just enough detail to get a sense of it without being overwhelming. The romance wasn’t entirely convincing, and I had a hard time buying into it. I felt like Wyatt came on really strong, almost pushing Bec into a relationship she clearly didn’t want. But if you’re in the mood to read about falling in love over beer making, then this is probably a good bet, as long as you don’t think too much about it.


Not sure if this book is available at libraries, but you can see where it is available from here.

I can’t think of any other books that involve craft beer (a niche!) but for other pushy heroes, try Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ Nobody’s Baby But Mine.


*** EBOOK FROM NETGALLEY.COM IN EXCHANGE FOR HONEST REVIEW ***