Review: Full Package

Review: Full PackageFull Package by Lauren Blakely
Series: Holiday/Hammer #6
Published by Lauren Blakely Books on January 9th 2017
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 300

FINAL DECISION:  Enjoyable, sweet and funny friends to lovers romance.  I really liked these characters as people and their concerns and fears about losing their friendship felt real and I liked that they had problems but were not stupid.  Made me smile and sigh.

STORY:  Chase and Josie have been friends for years.  Chase has also had a thing for Josie for years but refuses to act upon it because he doesn’t want to destroy their friendship.  When Chase is looking for an apartment and Josie is looking for a roommate, the two decide to share an apartment.  The close quarters bring the two together, but how do friends become lovers and still remain friends at the end?

OPINION:  I found this story very enjoyable. For me, it is central that the characters maintain my interest.  Chase is a doctor and a genuine good guy.  But not too good a guy!  A doctor, he likes to entertain Josie with funny cases that come to him. I liked his humor, his good nature and his real desire to keep a relationship with Josie.

Josie is a baker who concentrates on desserts. As the book begins, she is online dating — even though she has been burned before.  She is quirky and very physical and just adorable (especially to Chase).

I appreciated that Chase and Josie were not stupid in their problems with one another.  I felt their real desire to keep their friendship. Their deep feelings for one another send them astray as they fear trying for something more because they risk the friendship that they have.  Their genuineness and honest deep feelings for one another made me accept even when these characters needed to talk to one another.  Fear of losing one another makes them both afraid to confess their feelings.

This book is about these characters.  There is not real external plot.

WORTH MENTIONING:  The book has a number of Josie’s recipes included.  Not only are they actual recipes, but Blakely uses them in a creative way to further the storyline of the book.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  FULL PACKAGE is the sixth book in the series of books (unnamed by Blakely) that I’ve called the Holiday/Hammer series.  Each book can be read on its own, but there are connecting characters.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4.5 stars.


Review: The Only One

Review: The Only OneThe Only One by Lauren Blakely
Series: Holiday/Hammer #5
on December 6th 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 135

FINAL DECISION: Great setup for the story, but the explanation was so stupid and all the anger and disappointment was immediately gone.  I just didn’t buy it and thus this story fell a little flat for me.

THE STORY: Ten years ago, Penelope “Penny” Jones met a man in Barcelona and they had a torrid affair for a few days.  They were to meet in New York but he never showed. Now Penny owns an animal rescue business and is looking desperately for a restaurant to host her business event. She ends up meeting again Gabriel Mathias, the hot restaurateur (in more ways than one).  He is the man with whom she had the affair but when they meet again, Gabriel doesn’t recognize her.

OPINION:  This novella had a fabulous premise and the book went really well until the issue of what happened ten years ago was brought up.

Penny is a woman who was heartbroken when she was stood up by Gabriel ten years ago.  But that event also propelled her into changing her life. She has never been able to forget Gabriel, but she hasn’t been sitting in her room weeping either. She loves animals and has made herself a success in her animal rescue work.  When she meets up with Gabriel again, she is torn between wanting to avoid him, wanting to get some kind of revenge, and just wanting him.

Gabriel has hit the big time.  After winning a television cooking competition, he has become a hot commodity. Yet, he has never forgotten the woman he knew for a short time ten years ago.  He has gone on, but he hasn’t forgotten her.

This book was a real winner until the real reason for their missed date ten years ago is revealed.  I had a couple of problems with it.  First, I just didn’t buy the reason.  I lived through those years and I don’t buy that they didn’t have ways to get in touch.  Ever heard of writing a letter? He knew where she worked.  Second, Penny immediately dismissed her ten years of biting anger and resentment.  I just don’t believe that she would immediately forget what motivated her for years even if she realized that it was a mistake.

For me, this was a book with a good premise but it didn’t live up to the promise.

WORTH MENTIONING: Shortcake is a great name for a dog.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  THE ONLY ONE is the fifth book in the Holiday/Hammer series of books (although they are listed as standalones there are overlapping characters).  This book has characters from THE SEXY ONE and WELL HUNG.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 3 stars.


Review: Out of Bounds

Review: Out of BoundsOut of Bounds by Lauren Blakely
Published by Bloomsbury Spark on November 22nd 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 150

FINAL DECISION:  This was an adequate if forgettable story. I didn’t find anything particularly exciting about the situation, the characters or the plot, but I didn’t hate the story.  I just probably won’t remember it in a week.

THE STORY:  Dani Page is the lawyer for a professional football team in Los Angeles.  Her job is to keep the players out of trouble.  She meets Drew Erickson who is quarterback for the team. While the two hit it off immediately, both are concerned that any relationship between them might interfere with their jobs. Dani doesn’t want to cause a scandal and Drew doesn’t want to remove his focus from the field.  Yet the chemistry between them is unquenchable.

OPINION:  I admit that I was a little disappointed in this novella.  I thought the setup was intriguing and I really love a good sports books, but this novella doesn’t really have anything to do with sports or the law.  Those are just window dressings for the plot keeping these two apart. In fact, my favorite part of the book is when these two meet on the beach for the first time.

I just didn’t feel the connection between the characters.  We are told over and over again that these two want one another, but I just didn’t see the connection other than sex between them. I wish the two had spent more time finding common ground between them.  The story was adequate enough, but it is very forgettable as the characters don’t have any intriguing characteristics that are memorable.

This one was just okay.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This book is told in alternating first person narratives.


STAR RATING: I give this book 2.5 stars.


Review: The Sexy One

Review: The Sexy OneThe Sexy One by Lauren Blakely
Series: Holiday/Hammer #4
Published by Createspace Independent Publishing Platform on October 17th 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 188

“He’s sweet, kind, funny, and good. So damn good. And, for a bonus prize, add in that he’s an amazing father. That’s some sexy Kryptonite right there.”

FINAL DECISION:  A nice story that is lacking a bit in comparison to the other books in this series.  The central conflict seemed not enough to keep these two apart and the emotional depth of this story was not what I would expect.

THE STORY:  Abby is the nanny of a five year old girl.  The father, Simon Travers is known as a “hot single dad”.  He is devoted to his daughter.  The problem is that Abby has been attracted to Simon for months.  What she doesn’t know is that Simon has been resisting his own attraction to Abby.  He fears that wanting the nanny is just too stereotypical and he doesn’t want to lose Abby who has been a blessing for him and his daughter.

OPINION: This was an enjoyable story but lacked the vibrancy of most of Lauren Blakely’s books.  The central conflict of this book is about how Simon doesn’t want to be a cliche of single dad and the nanny.  While an interesting idea, that conflict didn’t feel deep enough to keep these two apart.

Because I didn’t think the central conflict was deep enough, I also didn’t feel that the forces keeping these two apart didn’t feel important enough to justify the drama around it. These characters were so likeable and thus there wasn’t the depth to the story that I would expect — even though the story was nice enough.

I enjoyed these two together, but they were just a little too perfect and sweet for my tastes.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This book is told in alternating first person.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  THE SEXY ONE is book 4 in the Holiday/Hammer books which are connected but can be read as a standalone.  This book is a direct spinoff of MISTER O.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3 stars.


Review: Well Hung

Review: Well HungWell Hung by Lauren Blakely
Series: Holiday/Hammer #3
Published by Lauren Blakely Books on September 12th 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 300

“The woman I want is the woman I married.  Just a few days ago I thought we shouldn’t be tied like this, that we should have a fresh start. But now that I’m certain of how I feel, I don’t want the two of us to end. I want us to keep going. The only problem is she desperately wants me to be her ex-husband by tomorrow at noon.”

FINAL DECISION:  Funny and light, this is a classic romantic comedy with a hero who doesn’t know what he wants, a heroine determined to give him what he says he wants, sexy public sex and two people for whom what happens in Vegas doesn’t stay there.

THE STORY:  Wyatt Hammer has a problem.  He falls for women involved in his business and lives to regret it.  When he and his sexy and adorable assistant Natalie travel to Vegas, what starts as a great business opportunity goes south.  The two decide to have a classic Vegas evening with drinking, gambling and quickly becomes sexual escapades on a roller coaster, public sex and getting married by a bad Elvis impersonator.  When the two wake in the morning, they also have to get a quickie annulment.  As they return home to New York, Wyatt finds that he has a problem.  He can’t keep his hands off his soon to be ex-wife.

OPINION:  This book made me laugh out loud.  It was funny and sexy and crazy.  Wyatt and Natalie have quite a night in Vegas.  Anyone who has imagined what it would be like to throw all caution to the wind and live the Vegas promise of excess.  I loved the scenes in Vegas which might be one of my favorite oops wedding ever.

Wyatt is sweet and a bit silly after his bad experiences with women.  He makes some irrational decisions and lets his fears overcome him, and yet is is adorable.  One of my favorite part of Blakely’s heroes is that they are naughty talking (and doing) men and yet they have a deep emotional core that makes them good men.  Wyatt is a good guy at heart and he made me smile.

Natalie is a good match for Wyatt.  Adventurous like Wyatt, she is a stabilizing influence for Wyatt.  He likes that she takes care of him in various ways.  You also have to like a heroine who knows martial arts and tossing the hero easily!  She is determined to give Wyatt what he claims he wants even if she knows that they are good together.

This is a great book if you are looking for a funny read that keeps it light and amusing.  I liked the emotional connection with these characters but there is more humor than angst.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This book is almost completely from the hero’s point of view.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  WELL HUNG is the third book in the Holiday/Hammer series.  It can be read as a standalone.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4 stars.


Review: Mister O

Review: Mister OMister O by Lauren Blakely
Series: Holiday/Hammer #2
Published by Lauren Blakely Books on May 2nd 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 306

“I’m like a superhero of pleasure, a good-deed doer, the once-upon-a-shy-guy-now-a-stud, and my mission is to dispense as many climaxes to my lovers as possible.”

FINAL DECISION:  A funny contemporary romance, this is a friends to lovers story where these two just seem inevitable.  I loved the tone and humor of the story along with the confusion and uncertainty the hero experiences as he falls in love.

THE STORY:  This is the story of Nick Hammer, former shy geeky guy who now is a stud who writes dirty cartoons.  His childhood friend Harper Holiday decides that she needs a little help in the love department and Nick offers to help.  The only problem is that he really has a thing for Harper and she is the sister of his best friend.

OPINION:  Things have been simmering between Nick and Harper for a while.  Nick has overcome all his shy geekiness and is a now a master with women.  When he recognizes that his friend Harper is having trouble with the men that she is interested in, he agrees to help her “practice” so that she can feel confident.  What starts out as talking and sexy texting become kissing and then much more.  Nick has been fighting his attraction to Harper because they are friends and also because her brother (who is also Nick’s best friend) has threatened to shave and dye his hair if Nick touches Harper.

This story is really about two people liking and caring for one another and yet being afraid of losing their friendship by wanting more.  The book is funny and sweet and really sexy.

The book is told from Nick’s point of view so Harper’s feelings remain a secret until she tells Nick.  At the same time, Nick’s fears and anxieties are on display.  This is a different view than most romance novels and the difference in tone might not be every reader’s type of book.  I enjoyed the change of pace.

The book is light and amusing and the situations that the two get into are not ones that demand deep emotional angst.  Those looking for a funny contemporary will enjoy this one.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This book is told from the male point of view.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  This book is connected by characters but can be read as standalone.  The hero and heroine are, respectively, the best friend and sister of the hero of BIG ROCK.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4 stars.


Review: Big Rock

Review: Big RockBig Rock by Lauren Blakely
Series: Holiday/Hammer #1
Published by EverAfter Platinum on January 6th 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 250

“I think it was one of those things where the one for you is just right under your nose, but we didn’t realize it for the longest time.”

FINAL DECISION:  Funny and sexy (in a seriously dirty way), I enjoyed the male POV. While the story seems like it is going to be raunchy and more sex than emotion, I actually found the story sweet.

THE STORY:  Spenser Holiday is a man who makes it his mission to please as many women as possible.  His womanizing ways, however, may be a liability when his father is attempting to sell his jewelry store business to a conservative family man.  Spenser decides to make himself more palatable by inventing an engagement to his longtime best friend and business partner, Charlotte.  As their pretend engagement progresses, the two find out that the sexual heat between them is explosive.  The only problem is how do friends stay friends once they become lovers.

OPINION:  This novella was the first thing I have read by Lauren Blakely and I will definitely be reading more.  Because the book is written from the point of view of Spenser, it has a different tone than a female POV.  At first, the hero is almost too cocky, too self-assured, but I found his progression through this story to be sweet.

I love a good friends to lovers story and this is a hot one. The two quickly move into a sexual relationship.  Sometimes a book with a lot of sex can become a clinical Tab A into Slot B exercise.  This book always emphasizes the emotional connection between these characters.  Spenser and Charlotte are funny and sexy and I liked them.  One thing I especially like about this story is that the male POV demonstrates how vulnerable and uncertain Spenser is because he doesn’t know Charlotte’s feeling.

This novella is definitely not for everyone.  I’ve been reading a number of male POV books recently along with erotica so the tone of this book was not unfamiliar to me.  Those who prefer knowing less about what men might actually be thinking might want to skip this one.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This novella is told completely from the male point of view.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  BIG ROCK is the first book in the loosely connected Holiday/Hammer series.

STAR RATING:  I give this novella 4 stars.