Review: Misadventures of a City Girl

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

Review: Misadventures of a City GirlMisadventures of a City Girl (Misadventures, #1) by Chelle Bliss, Meredith Wild
Series: Misadventures #1
Published by Waterhouse Press on September 12th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica
Goodreads
three-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: A fun and very sexy novella about two people who come from different worlds being challenged out of their comfort zone.

THE STORY: Madison Atwood, newly divorced needs a break from her high paced entertainment world in Los Angeles which is too connected with the star ex-husband. While at a “retreat”, Madison is caught in a personal moment by Luke Dawson. Luke is a “mountain man” who lives alone. His tours in combat as a Navy Seal have left Luke with PTSD and he doesnt’ want to be around people. From the first moment, however, Madison and Luke have a high voltage connection and soon find themselves caught in a snow storm and caught up in a hot affair. The question is there any future for a woman who loves the city and a man who cannot bear to live there.

OPINION: This was a nice break book.  A story which I might not put on my keeper shelf but one that was engaging and entertaining while I read it. It starts from a city mouse/country mouse scenario and demonstrates how to people can compromise and find common ground if they are committed to one another and love one another enough.

These characters start with a hot sexual encounter and they essentially end up with a choice — work to build a bridge between them or leave their relationship as a shallow sexual tension reliever.

I liked these characters who are good and decent people living with the consequences of loving and hurting and living. The story isn’t particularly deep and the characters are not very complex, but I really enjoyed the story which reminded me of the feel good category romances, but with a lot more heat.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This book is really focused on the relationship through the sexual encounters of the main characters so be prepared for a lot of sex.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  MISADVENTURES OF A CITY GIRL is the first in a series of novellas that are only connected by the “misadventures”. So far I don’t see any overlapping characters or places.

STAR RATING:  I give this novella 3.5 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in order to provide a review. I was not required to write a review or write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.

three-half-stars

Review: Dirty Dancing at Devil’s Leap

Review: Dirty Dancing at Devil’s LeapDirty Dancing at Devil's Leap by Julie Anne Long
Series: Hellcat Canyon #3
Published by Avon on August 29th 2017
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 384
Goodreads
four-half-stars

“He’d had nothing but good-natured scorn when she’d told him about her fantasy of slow dancing on Devil’s Leap to what she thought of as her namesake song, Roxy Music’s ‘Avalon’, ‘Of, Avalon. That’s just ridiculous. No one actually does that kind of thing in real life.'”

FINAL DECISION: Another simply lovely addition to the Hellcat Canyon series. Long has such a lyrical and beautifully emotional way of depicting characters who have come to Hellcat Canyon with their world ripped apart. A second chance at love romance filled with humor and deeply emotional moments, Avalon and Mac’s story is a welcome addition.

THE STORY:  Avalon Harwood has (temporarily) returned to Hellcat Canyon after her perfect relationship and business partnership has blown up and she needs time to make decisions. She comes home and finds an opportunity in purchasing the Coltrane estate. She intends on flipping the house as part of her dealing with her heartbreak. The estate has memories for Avalon. Her younger self worshiped the rich son Mac Coltrane until he broke her heart. After his father was convicted of fraud, the family fell apart. Mac has returned and when Avalon snaps up the house under his nose, he is determined to convince her to change her mind.

OPINION:  I can hardly express how much I love the Hellcat Canyon series. Each of the books has such a different romance. This book is a second chance at love story. Avalon and Mac had a chance together when they were younger, but Mac was spoiled and insecure and unable to recognize the value of what he had.

But he has recognized it in the intervening years.

“It took him a long time to adjust to her absence. He hadn’t realized that she was the lens he’d begun to see nearly everything through. That even though she was kind of a secret, she was also, in a way, his center of gravity. And when it was clear he was just never going to see her again, life had taken on a peculiar, almost dreamlike quality. What he did had ceased to matter because nothing had consequences in a dream.”

Both Avalon and Mac in this story have lived a non-consequential “dream” world in the intervening years. Life has happened to them. When they reunite, it is like they wake up and rediscover a life of meaning and value.

The story really revolves around the idea of living a life of active participation.  Avalon sees her “perfect” world fall apart and finds herself yearning for a life that reflects what decisions she makes — what she actually decides she wants rather than what happens to her.

Mac, too, has had to confront the absence of meaning in life. Growing up privileged, Mac accepted everything that his privilege entailed and tossed away those things that could bring meaning. Losing everything has forced him to figure out how to start from the bottom and create a life that he wants. He has done this in the financial world and in his business life, but it takes the reappearance of Avalon for him to find out what actually has meaning in life.

I loved these characters and I loved their interaction. A book that is almost entirely centered on the estate, the “claustrophobia” of Mac and Avalon’s interaction allows them to have some of the funniest banter and one-ups-man-ship that I have read. These two are completely competitive with one another and they know one another so well (and yet they have so many secrets and mysteries from the intervening years), that they can needle one another. I laughed and snickered at Avalon and Mac’s antics.

In a wonderful manner, the humor and lightness turns into deeply emotional and revealing events. Mac and Avalon not only know one another, but they have hurts which can only be healed by one another.

As the title itself expresses, this book is about finding meaning. As we learn, Mac has mocked Avalon’s dream of dancing on Devil’s Leap seeing it as hokey and silly. One might guess that through his examination and refocusing on his life and encountering true relationship with Avalon, he invests Avalon’s dream with intense meaning and significance on a personal level between them.

The worst part of this series is having to wait to read the next book.

WORTH MENTIONING:  I really missed the Eternity Oak in this story along with the quirky town characters since this book is really focused on the Coltrane estate.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  DIRTY DANCING AT DEVIL’S LEAP is the third book in the Hellcat Canyon series. The series has continuing characters, but this romance is completely self contained. In fact, this book is only tangentially related to the rest of the series and most of the continuing characters don’t make any appearances so this book can be read completely on its own.  (But this series is so good, go ahead and read the others as well).

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4.5 stars.

NOTE:  I received an ARC of this book via Edelweiss in order to provide a review. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.

four-half-stars

For 100 Reasons

For 100 ReasonsFor 100 Reasons (100 Series, #3) by Lara Adrian
Series: 100 Series #3
Published by Lara Adrian, LLC on July 31st 2017
Genres: Contemporary
Goodreads
three-stars

FINAL DECISION:  I really wanted to love this book, but I found too many things that just bothered me about this couple and the story.  I’m willing to give it another chance by reading the trilogy as a whole, but the construction of the series with its multiple dramatic cliffhangers, just felt like too much running in place even as I enjoyed the overall arch of the story.

THE STORY:  In this third book in the trilogy about Nick and Avery, the two are apart after Avery finds out about Nick’s deceptions.  Yet these two damaged people are drawn back together just as Avery is beginning to rebuild her life. Now there are even more secrets from the past that come back.  All must be resolved if these two have any possibility of moving forward.

OPINION:  This was a good ending to the series, but honestly, by the time these two get back together, I think I had had enough of their drama.  After all the drama and “betrayal” and anger that keeps the two apart for a year, they seem to get back together without much having been done.

I’m wondering if this series would feel better for me if I re-read it all at once.  Knowing that the cliffhangers between the books will happen, knowing that Nick and Avery will have a angsty, drama-filled, off and on, hot and cold relationship, I might like the entirety of the drama better.  I think the wait between the segments tired me somewhat of the drama (although I’m usually a great fan of angst filled, over the top stories).  For some reason, little things bugged me in this story.  “Enough already” I said a couple of times.  I don’t believe you are really going to stay away and I don’t really understand why a year had to pass before the action picks up here.

I liked so much of this story overall, but those little things just kept itching me, until I found that it was good, but not great.  I think the last half of this book is better than the first half, but one thing that kept bothering me is that it seemed that Avery becomes demanding that everything be done her way.  In some ways, it felt like Nick wasn’t so much changed as neutered in parts of this book as he desperately tries to do what he can to hang onto Avery.  I do like men who have done wrong to grovel, but I still want them to be the strong, dominate men they are.  Just something about the formulation here bothered me.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This book has discussions of sexual abuse.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  For 100 Reasons is the third and final book in the 100 Reasons Trilogy.  This book should only be read as part of the trilogy since the books follow the relationship of one couple and thus depend upon the information in the prior books.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3 stars.

three-stars

Review: Devil’s Cut

Review: Devil’s CutDevil's Cut (The Bourbon Kings, #3) by J.R. Ward
Series: The Bourbon Kings #3
Published by Ballantine on August 1st 2017
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 418
Goodreads
five-stars

FINAL DECISION:  Loved, loved, loved this conclusion to the Bourbon Kings trilogy.  A very soap-ish over the top story, this one finished in grand style. I’m pleased with the scope of the story and an only sorry that the whole series was so short.

THE STORY:  As we resume our story…The patriarch of the family has been murdered and the eldest son, Edward, has been arrested and confessed to his murder. Edward sits in jail mourning the loss of the woman he loves Sutton.  The middle son, Lane has taken over the family bourbon business which is deeply in debt due to his father’s embezzlement.  While Lane has reunited with the love of his life, Lizzie, their happiness is threatened by the lies and deceit in the family.  Finally, the sister, Gin has married a man her father picked out for her who is already abusing her. Gin is determined to take everything she can from her marriage especially to finally be a mother to her teenage daughter (who is the daughter of her longtime lover, friend and enemy Samuel unbeknownst to both daughter and Samuel).  And thus the story begins its conclusion…

OPINION:  I’ve been a fan of the Bourbon King series since the first book.  I loved the big, overly dramatic tales of the rich that reminded me fondly of the 1980s nighttime soap operas and Danielle Steele novels that where unofficially the mandatory reading for girls in my high school.  Together the three books in this trilogy make a wonderful, decadent mini-series reminiscent of the best of that genre.

As the mystery surrounding the murder of the family patriarch deepens, dark secrets of the family continue to be revealed.  There are far more twists and turns left to be explored in this book — and thankfully, the resolution path is not obvious or expected.

These characters are complex and not always nice or good.  Although there is much sudsy drama, the characters remain the central part of the book.  This book travels into the darkest and most dangerous territory of the story as all the characters face serious danger — both physical and emotional.  I liked the characters in this book from the beginning — not because they are nice people (many are not, but because there is the possibility for redemption for many of them).  This book reveals who might end up with a happy ending and who won’t.

There isn’t much I can give for the plot because that would give away the fun of the twists in the plot.  I can say that if you started this series, this book will provide the closure one would have hoped for.  It is a fun, over the top book, but enjoyable especially as a summer beach read.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This book resolves neatly (sometimes it felt too neatly) all the storylines in the trilogy.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  DEVIL’S CUT is the third and final book in the Bourbon Kings series.  The book really does complete the continuing story and should be read as part of the trilogy.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 5 stars.

five-stars

Review: Royally Endowed

Review: Royally EndowedRoyally Endowed (Royally, #3) by Emma Chase
Series: Royally #3
Published by Emma Chase, LLC on August 14th 2017
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 275
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION:  Sweet and enjoyable, this is the story of two people who have known one another for years until the time for their passion to be brought out into the open.  I found the characters likeable and I found the book a fun read.

THE STORY:  Logan St. James and Ellie Hammond met when her sister became involved with one of the royals that Logan is sworn to protect.  Set as part of a security detail to protect Ellie, Logan takes his job seriously, but over the years he has taken to liking Ellie — perhaps too much.  Now that Ellie has graduated college, she is looking to find someone and wonders if it is time to put aside her crush on her bodyguard.  Although Logan feels something for Ellie, he knows that the sister of a member of the royal family is not right for a boy from the wrong side of the tracks — especially a woman he is supposed to work to protect.

OPINION: For me, the highlight of this book were the episodes between Logan and Ellie which occurred over the years.  There was such a gentleness and sweetness that existed between the two from the first.  Unlike other books where the entire sequence of events occur within days, I completely fell into the relationship between these two which happens over the course of years.  For me, that made their eventual passionate relationship both more realistic and more satisfying.

I loved Ellie as a character.  Spunky and determined, I knew that Logan was doomed once she decided to make her move. Their relationship always felt destined — but like they were always waiting for Ellie to make her move.  I liked that both characters were good people who just trying to do the right thing.

Chase has a wonderful ability to present the male point of view. Logan’s narrative felt different than Ellie’s and I appreciated how their alternating points of view still felt cohesive and drove the story forward without feeling duplicative or conflicting.

This book also rewards fans of the series since there are lots of updates on the couples from the previous two books of the series.  I finished this book was a heartwarming feeling about the entire series.

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

CONNECTED BOOKS:  ROYALLY ENDOWED is the third book in the Royally series.  This romance is independent of those books, but characters are overlapping and this story might be better if you have read the other books first just to be familiar with them.  In fact, the beginning of this story happens in the gaps of the first story in the series.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: Royally Raised

Review: Royally RaisedRoyally Raised (Royally, #2.5) by Emma Chase
Series: Royally #2.5
Published by Emma Chase, LLC on June 2nd 2017
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 36
Goodreads
four-stars

This is a short, short story that takes place 20 years after the events of ROYALLY MATCHED and gives an update on what is going on with Henry and Sarah and their family.  There is a little bit of a plot involving their eldest, but that isn’t particularly resolved (perhaps there might be a book in the future about their child!)  It is really nice to see how Henry has matured and grown into his role.  I really enjoy these stories which are just a glimpse in the lives of these characters after the pages of the book are done.  The story was free to download so I think it is perfectly appropriate as a gift to fans.

Rating: 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: The Playboy Prince and the Nanny

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

Review: The Playboy Prince and the NannyThe Playboy Prince and the Nanny (Royal Duology #1) by Donna Alward
Published by Swerve on August 1st 2017
Genres: Contemporary
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION:  A sweet romance that harkens back to my days devouring category romances.  The story is pretty clean and focused on the couple. Sweet read that I enjoyed because of the characters.  This was a book I finished with a warm heart.

THE STORY:  Rose Walters comes to Marazur to take over being nanny for the two royal children whose mother just died.  While there, she ends up spending time with “the spare” Prince Diego.  Diego has been known as a playboy who flits around the world, but the family tragedy brings him back home and gives him a purpose to help his family including his brother and niece and nephew heal.  Of course, it also brings him in constant contact with the new nanny.  A woman he can’t get off his mind.

OPINION:  I found this an enjoyable read. The characters and the story was uncomplicated and really focuses on these nice people navigating external events that threaten their potential relationship.

Years before I became obsessed with dark and angst filled dramatic romances, I read just about every Silhouette, Loveswept, Harlequin, Second Chance at Love, and numerous other category romances.  The stories were mostly simple and focused on the couple overcoming plot devices that threatened their relationship.  I read hundreds, maybe thousands, of those stories and was happy with those stories.

This book is a slightly more sophisticated version of those stories.  The characters are nice and the romance is sweet.  I enjoyed the connection between the characters and the fairy tale quality of the nanny falling for the prince.  (And the playboy prince falling head over heels for the slightly wallflower nanny!!) Rose and Diego are such nice people and the real complication is their relative positions (prince versus nanny) and some external threats that I don’t want to give away.

While the story is definitely on the sweet side, I so much enjoyed the interaction between Diego and Rose which was romantic and gentle and warmed my heart.

I look forward to the companion book in this series about Diego’s brother because this book left me with good feelings.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This is a pretty clean romance with some kisses and one act of premarital sex off screen.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  THE PLAYBOY PRINCE AND THE NANNY is the first book in the Princes of Marazur series.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in order to provide a review.  I was not required to write a review or write a positive review.  All opinions contained herein are my own.

four-stars

Review: Dark Horse

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

Review: Dark HorseDark Horse (Whitehorse, Montana: The McGraw Kidnapping, #1) by B.J. Daniels
Series: , , The McGraw Kidnapping #1
Published by Harlequin Intrigue on August 1st 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romantic Suspense
Pages: 256
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION:  Much more mystery/romantic suspense than romance, I enjoyed this book for what it is — an introduction to the mystery of the disappearance of the McGraw twins.  The romance was a nice addition, but certainly did not carry the story.

THE STORY: True crime writer Nikki St. James to write about (and intending to solve) the kidnapping of the McGraw twins.  It has been twenty-five years since they disappeared and although some believe that the twins are dead and that the mother and her lover committed the crime, Nikki wants to prove there is another explanation.  Nikki has gotten the father to agree to talk, but his eldest son, Cull McGraw, doesn’t trust Nikki and wants to protect his family.  Sparks fly and old secrets present new dangers.

OPINION:  This book is really a mystery book with a side of romance.  I thought the mystery is well set out and very intriguing.  In fact, the mystery is my favorite of the B.J. Daniels books I have read so far.  I thought the entire set up was creepy and definitely a well constructed and interesting conflict.  I felt like I was in the middle of an Agatha Christie book with all the suspicious characters and secrets.

The book really is focused on Nikki as the “detective” of the story.  She has her own secrets which have sent her into the investigation of the twins’ disappearance.  Cull is the dutiful eldest son who falls for Nikki.  There really isn’t much else about their characters, but there was enough to keep me in the game as I was far more intrigued by the mystery than the romance.

This is a short category romance so things happen quickly and I was impressed that the mystery itself was so well set out.

I look forward to the next book in the series with another romance (but knowing Daniels’ style, there will be more about the mystery than the romance and that’s okay).

WORTH MENTIONING:  This book does NOT resolve the mystery of the kidnapping of the twins in its entirety.  There are some answers, but clearly there is much more to learn.  That is the overarching story so you will have to read the rest of the series for that to be resolved.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  DARK HORSE is the first book in the Whitehouse, Montana: The McGraw Kidnapping series.  I haven’t read the other Whitehouse, Montana books so I don’t know how closely related the series are.  I didn’t feel that I missed anything, however, in starting with this book.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4 stars.

NOTE:  I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in order to provide a review.  I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review.  All opinions contained herein are my own.

four-stars

Review: The Rancher’s Runaway Princess

Review: The Rancher’s Runaway PrincessThe Rancher's Runaway Princess (Larch Valley #1) by Donna Alward
Series: Larch Valley #1, Princes of Marazur #0.5
Published by Harlequin Enterprises LTD on April 1st 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 187
Goodreads
two-half-stars

FINAL DECISION:  Nice story, but it was uneven.  I liked the second half much more than the first half.

THE STORY: Lucy Farnsworth has come to Canada to check out a horse farm for the royal family of Marazur.  She becomes attracted to rancher Brody Hamilton, but Lucy is keeping a secret.  She is actually Princess Luciana, the daughter of the King of Marazur.  Lucy discovered this only as her mother was dying and Lucy has had her world turned upside down.  Her father has offered her the opportunity to perform this task in order to give herself some space from her new life.  But as she falls for Brody, her deception becomes more of a problem.

OPINION:  The story here was nice and for those who are looking for a sweet read, this is a nice one.  For me, however, I want more passion between the characters.  Both Brody and Lucy are too nice.  Their conflicts didn’t feel like they were something that could not be overcome.

Brody is a brooding and hurt man.  He has been burned before so as he becomes more and more attracted to Lucy, he acts out in response.  Lucy is confused about her own life and she is keeping the secret of her true identity as a princess.  (Thus, it is perfectly reasonable that Brody doesn’t trust her).

I’m not against sweet books without sex, but I didn’t think there was enough emotional passion to keep the story going.  Rather, the story is premised primarily on the secrets that both Brody and Lucy are keeping.

The story picked up in the second half and if the entire book was as compelling as the first half, I would have given it a better rating.  I thought in the second half as the two get closer, there was a more interesting and personal story.

I liked this story but there was not enough meat here to make this a book that I will think about in a month.  Rather, this is a sweet one time read.

WORTH MENTIONING: This is definitely a book in the sweet category.  There is nothing more than kissing between the characters.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  THE RANCHER’S RUNAWAY PRINCESS is the first book in the Larch Valley series.  It is also the prequel to the Princes of Marazur series.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 2.5 stars.

two-half-stars

Review: Until You Loved Me

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

Review: Until You Loved MeUntil You Loved Me by Brenda Novak
Series: Silver Springs #3
Published by Mira Books on July 25th 2017
Genres: Contemporary
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: My favorite book in the series. This unexpected pregnancy story moves in a direction I did not expect and I really enjoyed the quiet and personal relationship that develops between Ellie and Hudson.

THE STORY: After the betrayal by her fiance, Ellie Fisher tosses off her normal staid scientific personality and has a one night stand with a stranger. Finding herself pregnant, Ellie finds out that the stranger is actually a famous quarterback, Hudson King.  Hudson, scarred by his abandonment as an infant and his time in foster care, at first believes that Ellie planned to “catch” him. But the reality of their baby drives him to want to be a part of his child’s life.  The two agree to live together in Silver Springs until after the baby’s birth.  As these two get to know one another, they find the passion that immediately flared between them reigniting.

OPINION:  I really enjoyed this book.  The story didn’t go in the fashion I expected and I enjoy being surprised by the direction a story goes in.  Ellie and Hudson have a personal and emotional journey and I liked the slow buildup to their happy ending.

I have become a fan of these small town romance series.  Although this book has characters who both come from the big city, there is something quiet and intimate about their relationship as it takes place in Silver Springs. The best part of this book is the day to day living where Ellie and Hudson work out and work through their relationship.

Ellie is a woman who has been concerned primarily with her work. The betrayal by her fiance tosses her into Hudson’s arms. The two have a connection that goes beyond sexual but both turn away after that first night. The unexpected pregnancy brings them back together in difficult circumstances.  Ellie’s inherent decency causes her to tell Hudson of her pregnancy.  I liked that because when she discovers who Hudson is some of the details made me think that Hudson would discover the pregnancy in another manner. I was impressed that the story didn’t go for the over-dramatic plot device but rather the personal work that has to be done between these characters.

Can I say that Hudson is adorable?  He is a man who is struggling as this book goes on.  Not only do we have the unexpected pregnancy but also Hudson’s attempts to discover his origins.  There are both interesting parallels and interesting differences between Hudson’s past and the present.  Those issues are subtexts to the story which give it depth and meaning, but don’t distract from the central story of Ellie and Hudson.  (I also love a man who cares for a sick woman).  Hudson’s commitment phobia is completely understandable considering his past.  I loved how he works through his issues and demonstrates what a decent and caring and kind man he is.

The plot in the story about Hudson’s past brought some drama to the book that really takes place on the ground of two people living together and learning about one another and building a relationship.

This is the best of the series so far.

WORTH MENTIONING: I wish we had seen more of the characters from the first two books in the series.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  UNTIL YOU LOVED ME is the third book in the Silver Springs series.  It can be read as a standalone because the books are only loosely connected by the location and the hero’s connection with the New Horizons Boys Ranch.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4.5 stars.

NOTE:  I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in order to provide a review.  I was not required to write a review or write a positive review.  All opinions contained herein are my own.

four-half-stars