Quick Reviews No. 4

The Confessions by Tiffany Reisz

This is a must read for all Original Sinners fans, particularly if you’ve completely all 8 books in the main series. It’s pretty much an ending to it all, although the first half takes place somewhere around the timeline of The Saint.

Part one is Soren’s confession to Father Ballard, immediately when he meets Eleanor the first time and realizes the temptation before him. Part two is Nora’s confession years later, when she finds a photograph in Soren’s Bible that brings up all kinds of conflicting feelings. And then there’s a fun interview with the author at the end.

Readers Advisory: I mean, obviously if you haven’t read the rest of the Original Sinners series you should start from there with The Siren.

The Bourbon Thief by Tiffany Reisz

I love a good crazy-pants plot, and this one was totally bananas. But in the best way. Combine VC Andrews with a bourbon distillery and this is what you get. It’s Southern Gothic, and has lots going on. CW for incest and attempted rape. But trust me, if you can handle those, this book is totally a ride you should take, because it wraps up completely wonderfully in the end.

Readers Advisory: Criminal podcast did an episode on Pappy Van Winkle recently and it is paired perfectly with this book.

Rookie Move by Sarina Bowen

I love hockey romance, and I knew I would love this series. I’d actually heard a lot about book two, and decided to start from the first one, just because I was that confident that I’d love it, and usually I find that reading in published order makes for a better reading experience. I did, in fact, very much enjoy this book!

The heroine is the publicist for the Brooklyn Bruisers, a fictional hockey team set in–you guessed it!–Brooklyn, NY. The hero is a new trade from a college team, and the heroine and hero have some unfinished business from the past. The romance was great and I loved it!

Readers Advisory: Rachel Gibson’s See Jane Score wasn’t a hockey romance that I loved, but the heroine is a reporter, so it’s kind of similar.

Hard Hitter by Sarina Bowen

The second Brooklyn Bruisers book was by far my favorite (although once no. 4 comes out I may change my mind!) Here we have an aging player who is having some physical issues and a yoga instructor/massage therapist who needs to help him, although he has experienced trauma and doesn’t like to be touched. It’s incredible, and also the heroine has a lot of baggage from an abusive relationship that she needs to overcome.

The romance was sizzling hot and I loved seeing the hero come out of his shell and embrace some vulnerability.

Readers Advisory: Hard Knocks by Ruby Lang also has a hockey player with physical challenges and a health care professional, although this one is a neurologist and he has concussions.

Pipe Dreams by Sarina Bowen

This as-of-yet latest book in the series was maybe my least favorite of the three, but that’s like having to rate your three favorite candy bars. Someone’s gotta be in last place, but that definitely doesn’t mean you would toss it!

This one is another second chance romance where the hero and heroine were once together but the hero ends up going back to his estranged wife after she is diagnosed with cancer. You’ve got a single dad and a heroine who decides she’s done waiting for love and going to have a baby on her own. Can the hero win her back or is it too late?

Readers Advisory: For another hockey player romancing a woman who is planning to have a baby without a man, check out Maybe This Love by Jennifer Snow. Isn’t it funny when you can find books that have such similar plot threads but are so different?

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

This was our book club pick for August. It took a really long time for me to get into the story, but once it picked up, it was really good. I liked all the little threads and how it all came together, but it is quite long. I’ve only watched a little bit of the mini series from HBO and wasn’t hooked enough to continue. This book has all the content warnings though. Domestic abuse, murder, a teenager attempting to auction off her virginity on the internet, etc.

Readers Advisory: This is going to be a out-of-nowhere recommendation, but I just finished the podcast In The Dark, and if you like drawn out mysteries revolving a crime and larger societal issues that are at stake, you will definitely enjoy it. (CW: for child rape and murder.)

I just finished a batch of reviews from advanced copies, so check those out. I’ve been reading a lot more than I’ve been reviewing, so I still have lots of books lined up for quick reviews. I should have a few more full reviews before the end of the year, so keep an eye out!

Review: Holiday Baby Bombshell

tl;dr: sweet Christmas story full of tropey goodness

The Story:

This story picks up almost immediately after Pregnant by the Billionaire, and follows the sister of the main character from that book as she deals with her pregnancy post-breakup to someone who she was falling in love with but has told her in no uncertain terms that he is not relationship material.

Charlotte Locke wants to get her life turned around. She’s been the family party girl all of her life, and now she wants to get serious about her real estate career and make a living so she can provide for her unborn baby. Her plan is to use her family connections to be the agent responsible for the luxury condos on the top floors of her brother’s hotel. There’s a giant wrench in the shape of her former lover thrown into the mix, however, as Michael Kelly is the agent that her brother has already picked for the listings.

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Review: Totally His

tl;dr: sexy fling between cop and actress thwarted by con man father

The Story:

I was incredibly underwhelmed by the previous book in this series, but decided to give this one a try since I hadn’t disliked the writing of the other book, just the plotting. And while this book suffers from a few of the same problems, the general arc of the story is much more compelling.

Finn Kelly spots a lingerie clad actress trying to sneak back into her burning theater, and follows her inside to make sure that she isn’t in danger. Sophie Birch is desperate to save the only copy of a script she feels will be a game changer for her small theater. Of course, with so much skin on display, Finn is really feeling the heat in the room. And Sophie is really digging the heroic cop display from Finn.

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Review: Follow

tl;dr: too much going on and not enough explanation in this dirty talk explosion

The Story:

Our story begins with Teresa Valentini, aspiring filmmaker and petty criminal, realizing that her younger brother has somehow gotten tied up in the seedy underbelly that had once claimed their father. Both of their parents are deceased, but while they were alive, they moved the family from New York to Los Angeles, escaping their shady past and starting over.

Teresa hops on a plane to rescue her brother, but Silas, the kingpin mafia don boss or whatever, refuses to let Nicholas go back to his former life. He instead makes a deal with her: she can retrieve his wayward son Will who took off on a road trip with his Great Dane, bring him back to New York, and only then will he allow Nicholas to leave his employ. Teresa feels she doesn’t have much choice, although she’s disturbed by Silas’ intimation that she’ll basically sex the son up enough to drag him home.

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Review: Take The Lead

tl;dr: sexy Dancing With The Stars-esque romance by #ownvoices author

The Story:

I want to start by saying that I loved this story. It was something I’d heard some buzz about and decided to read because of that. I was so happy that I did! Reality TV isn’t really something I enjoy, but this book really doesn’t require much investment into that, as the settings and characters are so richly developed.

Gina Morales is on her third season of The Dance Off as a professional dancer, and she’s got the trophy in her sight. So when her producers take her into a remote region of Alaska to meet this season’s partner, she’s hoping for some kind of superstar athlete, but instead, meets Stone. Her tongue nearly falls out of her mouth after she spots him for the first time, bare chested and swinging an axe. Stone Nielson turns out to be a mountain man, part of a reality show of his own, that follows his family living off the grid in the wilds of Alaska.

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Review: Play Dates

tl;dr: Undeveloped heroine but cute love story nonetheless

The Story:

When Monica Rayburn strikes up a conversation with a hot “Saturdaddy” at the park, she gets more than she’s bargained for. Colm asks her out to dinner and she accepts, but he makes a strange request: they don’t talk about their children and they keep it no-strings. Monica makes a half-hearted effort to correct his misconception—Emma is her niece, not her daughter—but then decides not to. After experiencing a super hot night together, Monica feels conflicted about the deception, although she believes that based on their agreement, she’ll probably never see him again. But Colm has decided that he likes Monica a lot, and wants to pursue things.

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Review: In Her Court

tl;dr: cute story for someone but not for me

The Story:

I feel really guilty about the fact that I could not force myself to finish this book. Especially since I’ve made it through some real train wrecks, and this one is not even that bad.

The story is about Van, a newly minted college professor who hates her job, and Willa, current graduate student and tennis wunderkind, who used to hang out occasionally because Willa’s older brother and Van are best friends, and have been for ages. Willa’s brother is teaching tennis at this summer camp, and when he breaks his leg, his sister steps up to take his place.

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Review: Too Beautiful to Break

tl;dr: too little explanation for character hangups

The Story:

The fourth and final book in the Romancing the Clarksons series, Too Beautiful To Break, finally gives us the romance between Belmont and Sage, a relationship that’s been simmering since book one, so obviously, I was looking forward to it.

But I was a little disappointed by this book. I felt like a lot of the trials in the previous books were handled better, but in this one, Belmont and Sage both have mental anguish and hang-ups that aren’t clearly defined in ways that make sense.

Let’s start with Belmont. He had a horrible event happen to him when he was young, where he spent several days at the bottom of an abandoned well. Belmont closes himself off from his family, and more specifically his younger brother, because of this. The reasons for why he feels like he has to do this make sense, but what doesn’t track is why Sage of all people can magically cure his anxious episodes. Aside from her being slight and pretty and somewhat dainty, she doesn’t seem to have a specific thing that makes him calmer. I also feel like Belmont’s general “I hate change” phobia doesn’t make as much sense as his apparent and understandable claustrophobia.

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Quick Reviews Edition #3

By Her Touch by Adriana Anders

I very much enjoyed this book, and it may have been my favorite out of the three in the series. It begins with Clay Navarro, an undercover cop, being discovered by the motorcycle gang he’s infiltrated. After barely escaping with his life, he finds Dr. George Hadley, a dermatologist that specializes in tattoo removal, particularly in the tattoo was not consented to (as we saw in the first book, Under Her Skin). Clay doesn’t want to be involved with her as he is still in danger, but obviously, love wins. The climax of the book was edge-of-your-seat fantastic.

Readers Advisory: Obviously, I highly recommend all the other books in this series. Dr. George plays a significant role in the first book, and Sheriff Clay Navarro turns up in the third.

Play by Kylie Scott

The circumstances leading up to the hero and heroine getting together did stretch my suspension of disbelief a little, but otherwise, the story was interesting and fun. There was a little drama to keep the plot moving, and part of it seemed a little melodramatic. Is that common with New Adult? It was definitely a lighter read than what I typically enjoy, but the characters were vibrant and the chemistry was hot.

Readers Advisory: There’s a smidgen of fake-relationship for publicity in this one, so if that’s a trope you love, check out Act Like It by Lucy Parker. You won’t regret it.

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

This was our book club book for August. It took me a really long time to get invested into it, mostly because the story uses an unreliable narrator plot device, and I’m starting to get burned out on those. There were also a lot of characters to keep straight. One thing that I did really like about this book was how it handled the main character’s anxiety, and her reliance on medication to treat it. Many of the other characters are dismissive of that, and it really helps shine a light on how that feels, and how people who are anxious are sometimes unfairly dismissed as crazy.

Reader’s Advisory: This book was eerily reminiscent of The Girl On The Train, but in different ways. I have a feeling that many people who liked one will like the other.

Perv by Dakota Gray

I love a good erotic romance, but there was something about this book that just seemed a little bit off to me. The character motivations and abrupt turn around for both on how they felt and reacted to things seemed a little strange. It was a huge girl-wants-revenge plot, that got kind of crumpled up and tossed aside quickly. And the hero just completely changed his entire outlook on relationships because of one girl that got under his skin. Playboys that meet their kryptonite, and all it takes is for the girl to play hard to get, don’t really work for me.

Readers Advisory: For a really amazing girl revenge book, I highly recommend Sugar Daddy by Sawyer Bennett. Holy moly that was a great trilogy. The hero also loves giving head, if that’s one of your catnips.

Crazy Pucking Love by Cindi Madsen

Now, a forbidden love story with two people who are in sync both romantically and as people, and the reason they can’t be together is an overbearing older brother? That I’m into. I enjoyed this story very much because there’s a lot of backstory for both characters (that I believe may be addressed in previous books, I’m definitely planning on checking them out) that completely made sense for the plot and why the two main characters were resistant to be together. Also, I’m a sucker for a hockey romance.

Readers Advisory: I just finished reading the first three books in Sarina Bowen’s Brooklyn Bruisers series, so if you like hockey romance, I highly recommend you check those out.

Misbehaving by Tiffany Reisz

This was a short novella that was funny and cute, about a woman who writes a column about sex toys and needs a partner for a weekend to ‘try out’ a book all about sex positions. Who better to help her out than the one that got away? There’s not a lot of substance to this one, but it was short and cute and I always love all the funny jokes and asides that Reisz injects into her writings.

Readers Advisory: Tiffany has many of her short stories available for free on her website, so you should definitely check those out.

More full length reviews to come! Keep an eye out for a new Tessa Bailey and a DNF (sad).

Quick Reviews Edition #2

Another round of quick reviews since this summer has been crazy. I have slowed down a bit on the amount of reading that I’ve been doing and that makes me sad, but I am still enjoying a good book.

The Theory of Attraction by Delphine Dryden

I was pleasantly surprised by this book, and now only because it was set in Houston, near where I live. I found the chemistry between the two leads to be sexy and it was interesting to have a hero that wasn’t completely suave and sophisticated. In fact, Ivan is a bit of a mess in social circles. And it was a fun way to introduce the two characters together. Plus I love fake relationships.

Readers Advisory: For another book that includes a heroine newbie to the BDSM scene, I enjoyed Tara Sue Me’s Master Professor.

The Seduction Hypothesis by Delphine Dryden

This book is the second in the series that The Theory of Attraction is in, but it didn’t work as well for me. The hero is kind of an asshole, and it’s only through BDSM that he’s able to tame that part of himself? Reformed jerks are kind of a hard trope to play well. It’s usually better if he wasn’t a jerk at all, but there was a misunderstanding somewhere. But no, this guy is actually a jerk and kind of embodies some of the worst traits of toxic masculinity. There’s a fun subplot about conventions and cosplay though.

Readers Advisory: Another second chance romance that I enjoyed was Off The Clock by Roni Loren. Both have elements of BDSM, and also both have relative newbies to the scene.

Crimes Against A Book Club by Kathy Cooperman

This was our book club pick for July and it didn’t really interest me that much. The story got to be a little off its rocker and while the plot was somewhat interesting, it just didn’t grab me. I did find some of the overwhelmed stay-at-home-mom stuff to be quite relevant to me, but otherwise the book just didn’t have the power to suck me in. I’d consider it light, fluffy fiction.

Readers Advisory: If you just really like reading about book clubs and the lives of all the members, The Jane Austen Book Club was okay.

Crash Into You by Roni Loren

Now, I loved this book. It has everything I like: an interesting plot, sexy sexytimes, and two leads that are interesting yet flawed. It was a book that I found difficult to put down. The mystery was unexpected, and the conflict between the hero and heroine felt real and earned. Did I mention the sexytimes were sexy? Because they were.

Readers Advisory: I can’t currently think of any other books that have an undercover submissive and a second change romance coupled with a murder mystery, but if I think of one, I’ll update here.

Lick by Kylie Scott

Accidentally married in Vegas? A hot famous rock star and a barista? Sign me up! This has many of my favorite catnips. The only detractor for me was that the book is mostly New Adult, which means these are very young adults (early 20s) and some of the conflict that makes sense for youngin’s is a little old and stale for me. However, the relationship that blossoms between Ev and David is sweet and wonderful and a lot sexy. The rest of the bandmates were also well developed and I look forward to reading them all.

Readers Advisory: I have sadly not read many rock star romances, although I did enjoy the follow up to this one, Play.

Too Hot To Handle by Tessa Bailey

What I loved most about this book was that some normal stereotypes get flipped. In this book, it’s the man that is the “slut”. He’s realized that no one wants to have a relationship with him, all the women in his town see him as is a one-time good time, and a loser that named a bar after a dirty joke (it’s called the Liquor Hole…. say it out real slow). Jasper is trying to turn things around, and starting with Rita, a woman who just showed up out of the blue after her road trip van broke down, he wants to prove to himself that he can have a relationship that is more than just a one time thing. Rita has her own demons, and they fight them together.

Readers Advisory: This is another book that’s so unique I’m having a hard time finding something else to recommend along side it. I’ve been working my way through the other books in the series and so far I’ve enjoyed them!

Many of these books are available at your local library! Use Worldcat.org to find a copy near you.