Review: The Worst Best Man

Review: The Worst Best ManThe Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa
Published by Avon on February 4, 2020
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 368
Goodreads
three-stars

FINAL DECISION: I really liked the characters in this one, but I found the story slow and uninteresting. There wasn’t really any tension in this one and everything moved so slowly that made it worse. Good moments, but not a re-read for me.

THE STORY: Lina Santos is jilted at the altar by her groom who leaves his younger brother Drew to break the news. A text from her groom on the run to Drew says that what he said convinced the groom to cancel the wedding — the problem is that Drew, recovering from a hangover, doesn’t remember what he said. Years later, Lina is competing for a prime opportunity to help her business as a wedding planner — the hitch, she has to work with Drew in order to have a chance.

OPINION: I was disappointed by this book. The concept was great, the characters I really liked, and the beginning of the book was amazing. The book just went downhill from there for me. Once Max and Lina got together, the book lacked any drive towards the ending. There seemed no drama or tension once the story got started. I was very disappointed and struggled to get through the book. Then the real issues that arise in the book are not actually solved in the end. There is a big gesture, but nothing is actually resolved which was bothersome.

I gave this book 3 stars because I really liked the characters and I enjoyed the way the two talked through their relationship. But the book really needed outside tension because the two are pretty adult and reasonable in their relationship.

Lina is funny and clever and I laughed out loud at some of what she put Max through as they met up again. Max is sweet and very supportive of Lina and does his work without wanting to take over.

I just wanted more than I got here. It was an okay one time read, but I won’t think about picking it up again.

WORTH MENTIONING: The book is often categorized as enemies to lovers. Honestly, this book lacks the tension and drama needed for a good enemies to lovers story. The beginning of the book is amazing towards that but when Lina and Max meet again, the enemy part so quickly dissolves that I don’t think enemies to lovers really describes this book at all.

CONNECTED BOOKS: This book is a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3 stars.

three-stars

Review: One Perfect Summer

Review: One Perfect SummerOne Perfect Summer by Brenda Novak
Published by MIRA on April 7, 2020
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 400
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: A solid summer read. This book has plenty of self-discovery and relationship building between the newly discovered sisters. I enjoyed this, but women’s fiction is not my favorite.

THE STORY: When using a DNA test, Serenity Alston discovers two half sisters. As three meet for the first time, each of them is facing a crisis in their lives. Serenity has testified against her own husbands for crimes he committed which has caused conflicts in her family along with her questioning her own judgment.  Lorelei’s marriage has crumbled when her husband had an affair with her best friend. Reagan has had an affair with a married co-worker. Each of these women is struggling even as they are trying to see what relationship they can have with their newly discovered biological half-sisters.

OPINION: I liked this book as these three women try to create a relationship between them as their lives are complicated by men and children. There is quite a bit of drama and an attempt at an overarching mystery of how these three ended up related.  That part of the book didn’t work for me as well as the relationship building between these characters. The ending of the book really seemed to switch the mood of the story.

For me, the best part of the relationship between these sisters is how they come to accept one another. None of them is perfect and the acceptance is important to the story.

There is a lot of issues with men in this book and at times I just wanted to say — figure out your own life and worry about men later. I prefer romances and even though I knew that this was women’s fiction, I enjoy the author so I gave this one a chance. It was certainly a good and different read that is a perfect summer beach read.

WORTH MENTIONING: This is a woman’s fiction book not a romance even though relationships with men are involved in the book.

CONNECTED BOOKS: ONE PERFECT SUMMER is a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: Taking the Heat

Review: Taking the HeatTaking the Heat (Jackson: Girls' Night Out, #3) by Victoria Dahl
Series: Jackson: Girls' Night Out #3
Published by HQN Books on July 28, 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 384
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: Supersexy male librarian — I don’t think there is anything else to say.

THE STORY: Veronica Chandler feels like she is a pretender is her own life. She is seen as a sophisticated city girl when she knows that she has come to Jackson because she couldn’t make it in New York. She writes an advice column but knows that people think her more experienced and knowledgeable than she really is. She ends up meeting the new librarian, Gabe MacKenzie, and a ill advised number of margaritas ends up with her confessing her darkest secrets to him. The irony, he is more interested in the real her than her fake facade.

OPINION: I really liked Veronica in this one. As the book begins, she is uncertain and lacks self-confidence. She is a woman who is too much in her own head which keeps her from living in her present life and enjoying her sexual experiences. She also struggles against her own mental expectations of herself which makes her feel like a faker in her own life.

Gabe is a beta hero but is simply adorable. He is also struggling with expectations and trying to be the perfect son and a problem solver. He is so supportive of Veronica and respectful of her that I just loved him. I would have liked more library or reading time though!

This book really worked for me. It was comforting and the focus on the relationship between these two just made me happy in these difficult times. There are some misunderstandings and some problems that arise from failures to communicate, but that felt real here. I don’t think that people who are just getting to know one another are likely to tell everything about their lives to one another. That causes problems in real life just as it does in this book.

I really enjoyed how things turn in this book and Veronica leverages her strengths to demand what she deserves and being willing to call out the truth to Gabe even if it damages their relationship — because a true relationship must be based on truth. I loved how adult this book ends up being.

WORTH MENTIONING: My only negative is that this book ends up being a happy for now ending. I wanted and needed more for this to be a 5 star read. The ending might not bother some readers, but I felt cheated a bit at the end.

CONNECTED BOOKS: TAKING THE HEAT is the third book in the Jackson: Girls’ Night Out series. I haven’t read the other books in the series and didn’t feel that I missed anything so this book can be read as a standalone.

STAR RATING I give this book 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars

Review: Wicked Ever After

Review: Wicked Ever AfterWicked Ever After (One-Mile and Brea, part two) (Wicked & Devoted #2) by Shayla Black
Series: Wicked & Devoted #2
Published by Shelley Bradley, LLC on April 7, 2020
Genres: Contemporary
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: Loved this conclusion to Brea and (Pierce) One-Mile’s story. I worried that the first book raised expectations that wouldn’t be met in the finale, but this one was great and hit all the right notes — passion, angst, drama, romance, action and plenty of sexy times.

THE STORY: At the end of the first part of Brea and One-Mile’s story, the two have fallen in love, but One-Mile’s job is dangerous and the people he interact with a threat to Brea. At the same time, Brea is uncertain about One-Mile’s feelings and intentions. Misunderstandings abound as these two try and navigate their emotions amid the expectations of those around them.

OPINION: This second part of Brea and One-Mile’s story begins with a misunderstanding which sets up the conflict in the story as the players react and set up new situations that the characters need to navigate. I’m not a real fan of misunderstanding conflicts — especially because this misunderstanding seems to easy to fix. But thankfully, the misunderstanding is resolved and the characters go on to resolve the problem situations they find themselves in.

The story goes really fast and the pacing just compels the readers to gobble the book up quickly.

One thing I really liked is how Pierce is such a tough guy but who is sensitive and haunted by his past. He doesn’t really believe that he is good enough for Brea. He has masked his insecurities and self-loathing by his outer toughness and anti-social rudeness. I really love when an alpha hero is just completely undone by a sweet gentle heroine. I like that Brea has morals and convictions but she is not judgmental or unforgiving. She also is certainly willing to go all in when she falls in love.

The prior book had a bit more action, but this part felt more emotional.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book completes Brea and One-Mile’s story, but there is an epilogue that sets up the next book in the series. That epilogue leaves the book with a cliffhanger for the next story, but does not disturb the HEA for Brea and One-Mile.

CONNECTED BOOKS: WICKED AFTER EVER is the second part of the story of Brea and One-Mile. The first book, WICKED AS SIN, should be read first. This book also overlaps in time with DEVOTED TO PLEASURE but that book doesn’t have to be read to enjoy this one.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

NOTE: I received an eARC of this book via the author. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.

four-half-stars

Review: Asking for Trouble

Review: Asking for TroubleAsking for Trouble (Line of Duty, #4) by Tessa Bailey
Series: Line of Duty #4
Published by Entangled: Brazen on November 25, 2013
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 250
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: Hot, hot, hot. I really enjoyed this story of two opposites. An enemies to lovers story, the only negative is the plot regarding Hayden’s family which I wasn’t interested in at all. More Hayden and Brent on the page!

THE STORY: Brent Mason and Hayden Winstead are unfortunately friends of two people who are crazy in love. It is unfortunate because Brent and Hayden can’t stand one another. Brent is an explosives expert cop and Hayden is a rich society girl. The rub one another completely wrong until they rub one another completely right. Hayden is also on the edge of being forced into a marriage of convenience to save her family’s fortune.

OPINION: I enjoyed this book as the heat between Brent and Hayden was sexy and really, really hot. At the same time, I really liked these characters which had angst and drama but also a great deal of humor.

Brent and Hayden flirt and tempt one another through their initial animosity. The book begins long after their adversarial relationship has been established and Hayden has decided that she is going to finally win whatever is between them. But instead things blaze like crazy between them. Super hot and super sexy. I loved this scene which seemed to be almost perfect even though the characters are only just introduced on the page.

This moment is a breakthrough of the two them to begin seeing on another beyond their stereotypes. Brent is more than the “ape” cop and Hayden is much more complex than the “society girl”. Both of these characters care deeply and through the story, they begin to see one another more clearly.

I really enjoyed this book except for the silly marriage of convenience plot which I found a throwaway except for the great dramatic moment at the end which was over the top and just amazing.

WORTH MENTIONING: The dirty talk in this book was amazing.

CONNECTED BOOKS: ASKING FOR TROUBLE is the fourth book in the Lind of Duty series. The romance here is self-contained and can be read as a standalone. The couple here does have a close relationship with the couple from OFFICER OFF LIMITS (Book #3). This book can be read as a standalone. I haven’t read OFFICER OFF LIMITS and didn’t feel I missed anything.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: Love Hard

I received this book for free from Netgalley in order to prepare an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


Review: Love HardLove Hard by Nalini Singh
Series: Hard Play #3
Published by Tka Distribution on March 10, 2020
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 320
Goodreads
five-stars

FINAL DECISION: Oh, I loved this one. Jake is sweet and adorable and such a good man trying to raise his daughter until Jules comes and knocks his well ordered life for a loop. These are adults dealing with things in a mature and reasoned fashion and I loved their story.

THE STORY: A wedding brings high school classmates Jacob Esera and Juliet Nelisi together again. As students, the two were uneasily connected by Jacob’s girlfriend who happened to be Juliet’s best friend. After his girlfriend’s death, Jacob has spent the last six years raising his daughter as a single parent and working on his career as a rugby player. There is definite heat between them but Jacob wants a quiet private life and Juliet seems to bring scandal and attention wherever she goes.

OPINION: This book is a joy to read primarily because these are adults who deal with their relationship in an adult way. Less unnecessary drama and more smart people who talk things out make this book a wonderful read.

Jake is a really decent man. Raising his daughter alone after the death of her mother, she is clearly the center of his life. Definite gooey heart stuff seeing this strong man completely wrapped around the little finger of his girl. What is particularly good in is that the kids feel like real people and not convenient plot points. As a parent, I also really felt for Jake who has conflicting emotions regarding this daughter that he loves greatly and yet wants her protected and yet independent.

Juliet is a woman who is smart and clever and has made mistakes. She owns her mistakes which felt mature and realistic. I appreciated having a heroine that was imperfect and dealt with her past with humor and aplomb.

I just love the serious guy with the naughty girl, but even better, these characters are complex and are ultimately they have more in common than at first it seems. This is a lovely story with intricacy of character. There is angst and some drama, but such likable people.

The story is also very sexy as well as being sweet and romantic.

This book just made me feel good and happy.

WORTH MENTIONING: While it is certainly not necessary to read the other books in the series, I highly recommend reading ROCK HARD. A highlight of this book for me is the community of characters that Nalini Singh brings into the story (especially in the beginning). One of my favorite aspects of Nalini Singh’s books is the supportive cast of characters in her books.

CONNECTED BOOKS: This whole series is a spin-off from ROCK HARD in the Rock Kiss series. This book, however, is especially connected as it has the wedding of Gabriel and Charlotte (the couple in ROCK HARD). This book can certainly be read as a standalone as the romance is completely self-contained.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

NOTE: I received an eARC of this book via Netgalley. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own. I purchased a paperback copy of this book after its release.

five-stars

Review: Protecting What’s His

Review: Protecting What’s HisProtecting What's His (Line of Duty, #1) by Tessa Bailey
Series: Line of Duty #1
Published by Entangled Publishing (Brazen) on February 23, 2013
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 252
Goodreads
three-stars

FINAL DECISION: Only average for me. There are some highlights including the bantering between the characters, but at times the story really dragged for me. Things are hot between Derek and Ginger but just too much other stuff.

THE STORY: Ginger Peet takes an opportunity to help herself and her younger sister escape from their family and get a new start. It only took taking $50,000 from her mother without permission. In her new apartment, Ginger’s next door neighbor happens to be a really hot cop. Derek Tyler finds his new neighbor hot and very bothersome. Intense attraction between the two worries Ginger who has to worry about what brought her to Chicago in the first place.

OPINION: This book was uneven. I liked the characters and their sexual energy and attraction to one another. They are sexy and funny together. But there are a lot of threads brought up in this book that seem to be important but are dropped or are brought up only to advance the plot. There is a whole section in the middle of this book that I got bored during. The book was okay as a one time read, but I wouldn’t pick it up again.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book is self-contained but there is a novella that involves the same couple that follows the events of this book.

CONNECTED BOOKS: PROTECTING WHAT’S HIS is the first book in the Line of Duty series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3 stars.

three-stars

Review: Wicked as Sin

Review: Wicked as SinWicked as Sin: One-Mile & Brea, Part One (Wicked & Devoted, #1) by Shayla Black
Series: Wicked & Devoted #1
Published by Shelley Bradley, LLC on March 3, 2020
Genres: Contemporary
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: Loved this story. One-Mile ended up being much more of a marshmallow than I expected about Brea. The story felt really classic and was eminently enjoyable because of that. My only negative is that the book is only part 1 and I’ve been burned by these split stories before. But I can’t wait to read the conclusion.

THE STORY: Brea Bell is warned to stay away from Pierce Walker (aka One-Mile). But the attraction between the virginal preacher’s daughter and the dangerous sniper is hot and immediate. When Brea ends up coming to One-Mile for help, things explode with far reaching consequences.

OPINION: This was a story that I was highly anticipated. I really loved this couple together. The story was hot and yet there was a definite sweetness between this couple that I didn’t expect. I got immediately engrossed in this book and read it quickly in one sitting.

Brea and Pierce are adorable. He’s an alpha who can’t imagine his feelings for the Brea and yet can’t stay away from her. Brea is a woman of values but she doesn’t judge or shame other people. I really liked that about her. I also liked that she recognizes her own faults. The heat and the passion between these two was obvious and I thought their connection worked really well.

The only negative for me is the cliffhanger. I wasn’t angry or annoyed because it is clear from the cover of the book that this is a part 1 of the story. I think my trepidation is because I have over the recent years read some really fantastic beginnings of stories that I was deeply disappointed in the ending. None of those books were by Shayla Black, but I’m still wary. I hope that I will be pleasantly surprised in the end.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book is NOT the complete story of this couple. It is part one. There is a part two that will be the conclusion.

CONNECTED BOOKS: WICKED AS SIN is the first book in the Wicked & Devoted series. The Wicked & Devoted series is a spin-off of the Wicked Lovers series and the Devoted Lovers series. It is not necessary to have read any book in the prior series to read this one. I have not read the Wicked Lovers series at all and didn’t have any problem understanding the various characters and conflicts.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

NOTE: I received an eARC of this book via the author’s Facebook group. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own. I also purchased a copy of this book once it became available to the public.

four-half-stars

Review: Fall

Review: FallFall (VIP, #3) by Kristen Callihan
Series: VIP #3
Published by Plain Jane on October 23, 2018
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 452
Goodreads
five-stars

FINAL DECISION: Incredibly satisfying book. These two characters journey was well paced and I especially enjoyed the slow burn aspect of the story. These characters are deeply engaged in their relationship which allows readers to get to know their weaknesses and their strengths. Loved this one.

THE STORY: While shopping for groceries, Stella Grey runs into a handsome guy who is taking the last package of her favorite ice cream from the freezer at the store. Their competition over it is won by Stella who kisses the guy. Of course, it turns out that the guy lives next door to the penthouse where she is working her temporary pet sitting job. He also happens to be Jax Blackwood — one of the famous, and perhaps the most infamous, members of a legendary rock band.

OPINION: In this book, a lot of time is spent on John and Stella learning about one another. The story is sexy because these two have time and space to get to know one another. I really enjoyed this because it allowed depth to their romance. The focus is on the characters and the plot only serves to highlight and raise issues between the characters — which is my favorite kind of romance.

John aka Jax is a man dealing with his mental health issues. I thought that this book depicted his depression in a way that really gave me insight into how this issue can effect ones life. I found his character sympathetic even as he is sometimes a jerk. I found him generally sweet and funny.

Both John and Stella have masks on. The smiles, the confidence, the concern for others hides dark thoughts and deep insecurities and hurt. The unveiling of these characters kept me fascinated by their story.

Stella is a woman who everyone likes, but no one really knows. Her internal life and pain compel her to keep a distance for those who would care for her. She has strength but also is incredibly vulnerable. We know John’s story immediately, but Stella’s story is hidden in the beginning and only begins to reveal itself through John and Stella’s relationship.

I love books where the relationship is allowed time to develop. Two people learning one another, building a relationship based upon friendship and caring. That makes this book really hot because of the delayed gratification and when things progress here, there is definitely caring and emotion involved.

WORTH MENTIONING: Readers of the prior books will be aware that Jax has attempted suicide (off page) and this book addresses, among other things, his depression and other emotional and mental challenges he faces.

CONNECTED BOOKS: FALL is the third book in the VIP series. The romance here is self-contained and although there are overlapping characters, this book can be read completely as a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

five-stars

Review: Managed

Review: ManagedManaged (VIP, #2) by Kristen Callihan
Series: VIP #2
Published by NLA Digital LLC on November 14, 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 344
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: I loved this book which has a totally buttoned up stuffy hero and the strong woman who just breaks him down. Funny and emotional and a nice slow burn story.

THE STORY: Gabriel Scott aka Scottie who is the manager for a famous rock band ends up flying next to Sophie Darling on a transatlantic flight. The two argue and flirt and talk their way to England where Sophie discovers that her new mysterious job is as a social media manager for the band.

OPINION: I loved this book because there is something adorable about the grumpy stuffy Scottie completely falling for the strong willed spunky Sophie. She doesn’t put up with his grief and that makes him completely undone by her.

Scottie keeps himself apart from those who care about him, and he is reaching a quiet breaking point in his life. He manages to keep his life buttoned up and carefully planned until Sophie comes into it. Sophie is big and open and makes mistakes but owns them. This opposites attract story worked so well for me.

I liked that these two became friends of a sort before the sex began in their relationship. These two talked and argued as a form of foreplay which made this book funny and emotional and incredibly sexy in a different way.

These characters are complicated and felt real in their humanity. They make mistakes and have to deal with the results. I also really loved the relationship between the band members which I felt was more developed than the first book in the series.

Because the book touches on serious themes, I thought it might be dark, but instead it felt funny in a completely human fashion that made me smile and laugh but never feel that the book was slapstick.

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

CONNECTED BOOKS: MANAGED is the second book in the VIP series. The romance is self-contained and although there are overlapping characters in the books, this book can be read as a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars