Review: Beautiful Bitch

Review: Beautiful BitchBeautiful Bitch (Beautiful Bastard, #1.5) by Christina Lauren
Series: Beautiful #1.5
Published by Gallery Books on July 9, 2013
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 160
Goodreads
five-stars

FINAL DECISION: I love these extra moments with beloved characters. A year after the events of BEAUTIFUL BASTARD, we get to see that the HEA is something that has to be worked at but is real.

THE STORY: A year after BEAUTIFUL BASTARD, Bennett finds that Chloe’s burgeoning career and his own obligations can be difficult on a relationship. Planning a trip together tempts fate which has caused problems every time the two have tried to travel together.

OPINION: This novella is for fans of BEAUTIFUL BASTARD. It is about how Chloe and Bennett are challenged to fit their lives and careers together. Even so, it contains the same big sense of fun, sexy times and the big strong personalities of these characters. I enjoyed this as an add on to the original book. I don’t think it would stand up on its own, but I just didn’t care. For fans of BEAUTIFUL BASTARD, this is required reading.

WORTH MENTIONING: This is a novella.

CONNECTED BOOKS: This book is book 1.5 in the Beautiful series. It really is an epilogue or continuing story from BEAUTIFUL BASTARD and should be read after that book.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

five-stars

Review: Beautiful Bastard

Review: Beautiful BastardBeautiful Bastard (Beautiful Bastard, #1) by Christina Lauren
Series: Beautiful #1
Published by Gallery Books on February 12, 2013
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 305
Goodreads
five-stars

FINAL DECISION: Funny, sexy and a joy to read. These characters kept me engrossed from the first page. I loved how their relationship began with angry and frustrated sex and ended up as something much more.

THE STORY: Chloe Mills is a hardworking intern working towards her MBA. Her boss, Bennett Ryan, happens to be tough, annoying, brilliant — and incredibly sexy. Bennett finds Chloe infuriating, but he can’t stop thinking about her. When the two cross the line between boss and intern, both want to deny what is between them, but can’t seem to stop. When angry and desperate attraction tempts both to want something more, the question is whether it is even possible for something more to exist between two demanding independent people.

OPINION: I absolutely loved this book. The characters, the sexy, hot interactions between these reluctant lovers. The bickering, two independent and fierce people finding out that they are perfect for one another.

This is the only the second Christina Lauren book that I have read (although my review of JOSH AND  HAZEL’S GUIDE TO NOT DATING is upcoming as of the date of this review). This book was so good that I immediately began reading the second book in the series.

I loved that these two characters are engaged in intense erotica type encounters, but that the book always remains rooted in the characters and not what body parts go where.

Bennett is kind of a jerk when the book starts, but by the end, I began to see him differently. These two are hot and fiery and I loved their battles.

Chloe is an independent business woman. And I really liked that the conflicts between her and Bennett respect her intelligence and her business acumen. The two have some serious bumps on the way to their HEA, but the story is never bogged down with stupid decisions or brainless encounters. These two are smart and hot and driven.

This book is just fun. The pages went incredibly fast and I devoured this book. I loved the turnaround of the normal story. Sex first and then the relationship. And yet, there is always something connecting these characters. Strong, vibrant people who have a deep passion for one another and fight their way to a happy ending.

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

CONNECTED BOOKS: BEAUTIFUL BASTARD is the first book in the Beautiful series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

five-stars

The Wedding From Hell, Part I: The Rehearsal Dinner

The Wedding From Hell, Part I: The Rehearsal DinnerThe Rehearsal Dinner (The Wedding From Hell, #1; Firefighters, #0.5) by J.R. Ward
Published by Gallery Books on July 17, 2018
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 63
Goodreads
five-stars

This is a short story (in several parts of which this is only one) which is a prequel to CONSUMED which is the first book in the Firefighters series.

This story introduces Anne Ashburn and Danny Maguire who are both firefighters. Danny has been attracted to Anne and the opportunity for some personal relationship exploration comes about as the two are involved in the wedding for one of their fellow firefighters.

I really enjoyed this part of the story. The characters are vivid and flawed and interesting. Anne is a woman trying to deal with a family legacy of firefighting and being a woman in a male dominated field.  She is attracted to Danny, but doesn’t intend to be just another bed partner for him. Danny, on the other hand, has real feelings for Anne.

This is only a small part of even the prequel. We get to see Anne and Danny in some various wedding related activities and get the chance to be introduced to their viewpoints.

Not a complete story, but a nice appetizer.

five-stars

Review: Shelter in Place

Review: Shelter in PlaceShelter in Place by Nora Roberts
Published by St. Martin's Press on May 29, 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Romantic Suspense
Pages: 439
Goodreads
five-stars

FINAL DECISION: A difficult and timely subject. A mass shooting alters the lives of everyone connected to the events. Simone and Reed alter and rebuild their lives and eventually find one another. A nice romance combined with the suspense of someone who wants to continue the body count.

THE STORY: On a summer’s evening, three young men execute a horrible crime in a mall and theater in Maine. Simone Knox, a teenager, ends up hiding in the bathroom at the theater calling 911. Reed Quartermaine, a college student, is in the mall when the shooting takes place. That event changes both of their lives. Their struggles eventually bring them in orbit of one another while someone else is eliminating survivors.

OPINION: I generally prefer my books heavy on the romance with some suspense thrown in. This book is much more a suspense and story of rebirth after a tragedy, but the story works so well in bringing Reed and Simone together that I really enjoyed this one.

I enjoyed seeing these characters build their lives and find one another. The story between them was sweet and sexy (even if they don’t meet until well into the story), and I was intrigued for every page and turn of their story.

The characters were well drawn. The varying reactions to the tragedy not only for Reed and Simone but also for their friends, family and even strangers kept the story grounded and compelling.

The suspense story worked well for me but I really appreciated that while it was important, it did not overshadow for me the relationships of the characters. The book ends up being about hope, about overcoming tragedy. The violence ends up being a part of the story, but not the most important part.

It’s been a long time since one of Roberts’ standalone books has interested me so much. This one will be on my keeper shelf.

WORTH MENTIONING: Although the book deals with a violent subject, I thought the depiction of violence was not gratuitous or overly graphic.

CONNECTED BOOKS: SHELTER IN PLACE is a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

 

five-stars

Review: Ross

Review: RossRoss (Riding Hard Book 5) by Jennifer Ashley
Series: Riding Hard #5
Published by JA / AG Publishing on August 21, 2018
Genres: Contemporary
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: Sweet and gentle, I loved this story. After a bunch of angst and drama filled installments, I loved that this is just two people getting to know one another. Yes, there is a dramatic closing set regarding the drug dealers in town, but the heart of of the story is two people discovering one another apart from their town reputations.

THE STORY: Ross Campbell is the “rebel” in the family, turning away from the family stunt business to work in law enforcement. He rescues a damsel in distress when her car goes off the road during a rainstorm. She’s on the way to her wedding and she happens to be Callie Jones, the girl Ross had a crush on in high school. When the wedding doesn’t happen, Callie turns to Ross as a calm in her crazy day.

OPINION: I loved this story. Ross is such a sweetheart. There is a bunch of external drama, but Ross and Callie are pretty stable people. These two are perfect for one another from the start and there isn’t a lot keeping them apart except for them getting to know one another and understand what each wants from the relationship.

The story felt like a sweet spring breeze — refreshing and cleansing with a joy. I loved these characters and how normal most of their relationship is. Yes, there is some external drama, but the two of them are centered and have such normal problems.

In fact, my only disappointment was that I would have liked to see how these two worked out some of their issues that were raised (Ross’ career, Callie’s horse rehab project) since those were important parts of the story.

This was a character centered story where the relationship was far more developed than the plot and I prefer a book with these tendencies. Of all the Campbell brothers, Ross is my favorite.

WORTH MENTIONING: Next up are the Malorys and we get a little preview in this book.

CONNECTED BOOKS: ROSS is the fifth book in the Riding Hard series. The romance here is a standalone although the series deals with characters in a small town so there is a lot of overlap of characters. Readers also get an update on the prior couples in the series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC from 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: Shadow Keeper

Review: Shadow KeeperShadow Keeper (Shadow, #3) by Christine Feehan
Series: Shadow #3
Published by Berkley on May 29, 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Paranormal
Pages: 432
Goodreads
two-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: I’ve enjoyed the other books in the series, but this one was only average for me. I was more interested in the plot than the romance because I didn’t feel a connection between the characters, and I wasn’t particularly interested in their personal stories.

THE STORY: Giovanni Ferraro doesn’t enjoy playing the playboy for the family while recovering from an injury that prevents him from riding the shadows in the family business. At the club one nights a new waitress catches his eye. Sasha Provis is working two jobs to support the medical care for her brother. But every moment once Giovanni and Sasha meet is filled with drama as Sasha finds herself the focus of a stalker. Giovanni is determined to protect Sasha and Sasha is determined to be her own independent woman.

OPINION: Just didn’t find this book compelling. It wasn’t terrible but merely forgettable. I wasn’t particularly interested in this couple who didn’t really have a strong presence. In fact, I spent much of the book looking for tidbits about other couples whose stories are yet to be told.

Both Sasha and Giovanni felt generic in their character. Their romance happened so quickly that there was no tension in the relationship. Instead, there was the external plot of the Sasha’s stalker and while I found that story interesting, I didn’t find the romance intriguing.

This is the weakest of the series so far, but I have high hopes for the others in the series.

WORTH MENTIONING: I have to admit that I find two other couples more interesting and I want their stories rather than this one.

CONNECTED BOOKS: SHADOW KEEPER is the third book in the Shadow series. The romance here is self-contained but there are overlapping characters and the premise of the series isn’t explained as much here as in the earlier books. I recommend reading this series in order.

STAR RATING: I give this book 2.5 stars.

two-half-stars

Review: The Family Gathering

Review: The Family GatheringThe Family Gathering (Sullivan's Crossing, #3) by Robyn Carr
Series: Sullivan's Crossing #3
Published by Mira Books on April 17, 2018
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 352
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: An enjoyable and complex family drama combined with a man and a woman reinventing themselves as part of a community. This is a slow burn romance that gives the characters time to get to know one another and fall in love.

THE STORY: Dakota Jones has come to Sullivan’s Crossing after leaving the military. His brother and sister have settled there and Dakota is, for the first time (after years of keeping his distance), feeling the need to be with his family for a while. But a short visit becomes a job and a sense of place and a woman who interests Dakota from the moment that they meet. Sid is the bartender of her brother’s place and she has some serious baggage of her own. A divorce and a breakdown brought Sid to Sullivan’s Crossing and she has made a new life for herself. She’s definitely not interested in a relationship — but Dakota is not a man who gives up easily.

OPINION: What I loved most about this book was the sense of community that the story creates. The stories of the characters intertwine, the book doesn’t shy away from the hard parts of life such as abuse, betrayal, mental illness, substance abuse, divorce, death and adultery. Yet, this book isn’t a downer. Rather, it is about how characters rise above the problems in their lives and truly connect with the other people in their community.

Dakota comes to Sullivan’s Crossing to reunite with his brother and sister who have settled down in the small town. So this story is not just about Dakota finding a romance but also about family dynamics and siblings building adult relationships with one another. We get to see Dakota building a life for himself in a way that includes the possibility of true connection with one another.

Sid is a woman who has already built a new life for herself, but she is also in a limbo. She doesn’t want to risk love, but she ends up finding Dakota’s persistence and kindness irresistible.

The romance between Dakota and Sid is a gentle and slow building thing. I liked that these two really get to know one another as the book progresses. There is a sweetness and a maturity in their romance along with a deep sense of respect and commitment. This is a grown up story and I really liked that.

There are some dramatic moments dealing with family and some outside agitation, but I never felt that it overshadowed the connection and Dakota and Sid are building. It just felt like a part of life.

I really enjoyed seeing the prior couples from the series and also getting an update on Tom and Lola’s romance.

This is truly a community story and we get to see how people fit together. The story is multi-faceted and has lots of layers and complexity. I really enjoyed returning to Sullivan’s Crossing.

WORTH MENTIONING: For fans of the series, if you read ANY DAY NOW, this book gives a continuation of the story of Sierra and Connie.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE FAMILY GATHERING is the third book in the Sullivan’s Crossing series. While the main romance here is self-contained, this book has various storylines running through it which connect with prior books. I think the book is better read as part of the series although all the information needed is in this book.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: Chaser

Review: ChaserChaser (Dive Bar, #3) by Kylie Scott
Series: Dive Bar #3
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on April 17, 2018
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 270
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: An enjoyable story about a man who meets the right woman and it changes his whole life. I enjoyed the story which is told in the first person from Eric’s point of view and how his whole world changes warmed my heart.

THE STORY: Something is just not right with Eric Collins. He’s feeling unsettled and when he meets newcomer Jean, his no commitment, single swinging lifestyle doesn’t call to him as much as spending time with the very pregnant single mom who ends up being his neighbor. But the friendship that develops between the two is constantly challenged by Eric’s attraction to Jean.

OPINION: This book’s slow and steady romance was wonderful. We get to see Eric actually changing as the book progresses. The events occur over months and Eric finds himself becoming the man that Jean needs. Getting to see exclusively Eric’s point of view allowed me to have sympathy for a guy who seemed shallow and immature in the prior books of the series. The book is sweet and made me smile as Jean and Eric got to know one another.

I was most impressed that this book made me really like Eric by the end. I truly believed that he had changed as the book progressed and a guy who I worried would be a lousy hero ends up being a man willing to love a woman and her child.

WORTH MENTIONING: There is a special appearance and update that will please fans of Kylie Scott’s other books.

CONNECTED BOOKS: CHASER is the third book in the Dive Bar series. The romance here is self-contained and can be read as a standalone, but there are overlapping characters.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: As You Wish

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: As You WishAs You Wish by Jude Deveraux
Series: The Summerhouse
Published by Mira Books on March 6, 2018
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 416
Goodreads
two-stars

FINAL DECISION: This book isn’t really for me. The intertwined stories of three women combined with time travel/alternate realities was just too odd women’s fiction. Not a bad book, but not one I would pick up again.

THE STORY:  Sixty year old Oliva is a newlywed with regrets. Not over her marriage, but over the years she wasted away from the man she loves. Forty year old Kathy is married to man who is in love with someone else. Elise is married to a man who seems to want to get rid of her — in any way possible. The three end up at Summerhouse with the opportunity to change everything in their lives and make things right.

OPINION: I’m not the audience for this book because something really bothers me about the entire premise of the story. I don’t like the “let’s have a redo” on stories in general. It’s tricky because it feels to me like a cop-out on having to accept the choices one makes. I am often willing to suspend disbelief, but this premise always bothers me.

The multiple storylines also kept me disconnected from all of them. I prefer my books more emotion and this book just felt like a gimmick based on the plot. The story wasn’t bad and neither were the characters, but the resolution just didn’t work for me. I think someone who was willing to look past the plot twist might enjoy this one better.

On the positive side, I like seeing the Montgomerys.

WORTH MENTIONING: I’m not sure I like the impact of this story on THE GIRL FROM SUMMER HILL.

CONNECTED BOOKS: AS YOU WISH is the third book in the Summerhouse series, but I haven’t read those books. For me, the book is a sequel of sorts to THE GIRL FROM SUMMER HILL.

STAR RATING: I give this book 2 stars.

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

two-stars

Review: Getting Schooled

Review: Getting SchooledGetting Schooled (Getting Some, #1) by Emma Chase
Series: Getting Some #1
Published by Emma Chase, LLC on June 26, 2018
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 300
Goodreads
five-stars

FINAL DECISION: I loved, loved this book. A story of second chances, of rediscovering a love you thought you had moved behind. The story is funny and sweet, emotional and just amazing.

THE STORY: In high school Garrett Daniels and Callie Carpenter were a serious thing.  But when college took them in different directions, they broke up. Now Callie has returned to their hometown on a temporary basis and things are still hot between them. Garrett is now a high school teacher and football coach and things seem to be going well for him. Callie’s arrival, however, brings up the feelings he never got over. Callie remembers that there are some things she still misses about her hometown, including Garrett. But is history about to repeat itself as the two have separate lives across the country from one another.

OPINION: I just loved the romantic feeling of this book. The characters of this book are so normal that all the small moments feel real and romantic at the same time. This is a book about relationship on a small scale. There isn’t a secret billionaire or a horrible past or a murderer stalking the couple. There are just two people who turned away from one another years ago, lived their lives in the middle, and then meet again and have to see if the future can be different from the past.

I liked these characters. They are good people, the choices they have to make are hard, but not over dramatic. There is a great deal of heartwarming sweetness in this story.

The characters have a great deal of chemistry between them.  Things seem so fall in place so easily for them…until it doesn’t. The story is a manifestation of the phrase — those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it. For most of the book, the two seem hurtling towards repeating their own personal history. Because of that the book gets energy because it always seems like something is just waiting to go wrong because these two can’t have it that easy — and they don’t.

I loved seeing how these two go a different way, how maturity and experience has changed them and made them recognize what matters.

Finally, I’ve been a fan of Chase’s male POV since the first book I read by her. She just seems to capture that male voice — or at least my idea of a male POV.

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

CONNECTED BOOKS: GETTING SCHOOLED is the first book in the Getting Some series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

five-stars