Friday, April 29, 2016

He Loves Me Not by Tiereny Fowler

He Loves Me Not by Tiereny Fowler
Release: April 20, 2016
Romance Subgenre: Young Adult
Standalone Book

In the game of love, everyone roots for the underdog. You know, that girl-next-door type who wears glasses and has a shy smile and who falls for the most popular boy in school…she’s the hero of every story. And when the shy girl takes off her glasses and the quarterback kisses her and the crowd roars and the movie fades to black, people sit back and are satisfied.

But what about the cheerleader? The one he dumps at the fifty-yard line and the one who runs off the field humiliated and sobbing? What about her feelings? What about her?

He Loves Me Not tells the story of what happens after the cheerleader is denied her fairy tale ending. Maggie's life was perfect--she had perfect friends, perfect parents, and a perfect boyfriend. But when she's abruptly dumped in front of the entire county by that perfect boyfriend, her life falls apart. With her clique, her friends, and her social standing obliterated, Maggie is resigned to a lonely, humiliating senior year of high school. least until she meets AJ Abbott, a musician who breaks every rule her mother ever taught her. He has no college degree. He wants to be a rockstar. He wears entirely too much black and leather.

But despite their differences, Maggie is slowly drawn into AJ's rock and roll lifestyle, and she'll be forced to choose which is more important--clinging to her nonexistent popularity or learning that maybe there's more to her than her beauty queen tiaras and cheerleader pom-poms.


Oh high really do stink sometimes! This book transported me right back to high school (the good and the bad parts)! Fowler's descriptions of young love's first heartbreak and the feeling you got when the cute, older boy looked your way was pretty darn perfect. Overall, I really liked this book. I'm not sure it's appropriate for actual high schoolers (see The Bad below) but as an adult reader who has some years on her, this was a fun read.

The Good

  • I like how Maggie stuck to her guns throughout the book. Even though she felt out of place wearing pink to a club in NYC she knew who she was and what she liked and she stuck to it. Even the popular girls feel awkward sometimes!
  • Oh man, can I order me up an AJ? What a sweet, sweet guy. He was so down to earth and so very lovely that I found myself falling in love with him the moment he stepped on the page.
  • The internal monologue by Maggie was hilarious!
The Bad
  • Is this what high school is like for some people? Parties with beer at your parent’s beach house? No supervision and a maid to clean up everything in the morning? The party aspect of this book made my skin crawl. I think there was too much freedom for these high schoolers! I cringe to think of the young reader to devours this book and then feels like they need to go get some friends who drink beer and run into the ocean half-naked in only their underwear.
The Unique
  • It was refreshing to read a YA book from the “popular” gals point of view. The geek choir girl in me cheered when Maggie has her initial falling out with her perfect boyfriend but at the end I was right there with Maggie...cheering for her HEA and wanting to explore her an AJ’s relationship more. It’s hard for me to like the perfect, beauty-queen, cheerleader characters and Ms. Fowler not only made me like Maggie, she made me want to be friends with her.
I rate this book:
What did you think of He Loves Me Not?

About Tiereny Fowler

The long lost Wakefield twin. Blair's head minion. The BSC party planner. The original Pink Ranger. Stephanie Tanner's BFF.
In addition to crafting young adult and new adult novels, Tierney Fowler works as an IT consultant by day and a style blogger by night. She resides in Northern Virginia near four shopping malls, counts leopard as her favorite color, and once shot a reality TV show pilot...that never went anywhere.
Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Author Guest Post: Ride Hard by Laura Kaye

The first book in Laura Kaye's hot new Raven Riders Motorcycle Club series, RIDE HARD, is finally here! RIDE HARD is about a new kind of MC with a protective mission. You might’ve first met the Ravens in the Hard Ink world, but this series stands on its own and is even sexier, edgier, and grittier!

I'm excited to have author Laura Kaye on the blog today to discuss her new book, Ride Hard. Thanks for sharing, Laura!

Buy on Amazon: Ride Hard

Author Guest Post and Recipe
I’m thrilled to be celebrating the release of my 25th novel, Ride Hard, the first book in my Raven Riders Motorcycle Club series about a new kind of MC with a protective mission. You might’ve first met the Ravens in the Hard Ink world, but this series stands on its own and is even sexier, edgier, and grittier! I can’t wait for you to get to know Dare, Haven, and everyone in the Raven world!

One of the things that surprised me about Ride Hard was that food became a major theme throughout the book. Haven suffers from insomnia and baking is one of the things that calms and distracts her, so sometimes she sneaks down to the clubhouse’s kitchen in the middle of the night and bakes whatever sweet thing comes to mind. Cinnamon rolls and peanut butter cookies are two of her favorites (and Dare’s, too!), and she loves leaving these treats for the guys in the club to devour in the morning. Because you might find yourself hungry while reading *winks*, I thought you might enjoy Haven’s recipe for cinnamon rolls—and since I am not much of a cook LOL, I turned to my good friend and fellow author Christi Barth, who is an excellent cook, for her take on cinnamon rolls, very similar to what I describe in the book:

Haven’s Cinnamon Rolls
Recipe from author Christi Barth
Check out her new Risking It All (Naked Men, Book 1) Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Kobo
Find Christi at: Website / Pinterest / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Blog

What makes these cinnamon rolls super easy is that they have to sit overnight - which means you don't have to get up at the crack of dawn to start cooking for a crowd of hungry bikers.

1 package quick rise yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup warm water
4 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 ounces evaporated milk (I like to use evaporated skim milk - it won't change the texture or flavor, just the guilt you feel for eating a second roll)
1/4 cup water
1 egg

1/4 cup softened butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 tablespoon cinnamon

1 1/3 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk

Dissolve yeast, 1 teaspoon sugar & the warm water in a bowl and let stand for five minutes or until small bubbles foam on the top of it. In a large bowl, blend flour, 1/4 cup sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and salt. In another bowl combine 2/3 cup milk, water and egg. Once thoroughly mixed, add yeast and flour mixture (1 cup at a time) into it until it forms a dough ball.

Lightly flour your counter, and then knead dough on it for about 6 minutes. Coat a bowl with non-stick spray, put dough in it and cover. Let dough rise until doubled (at least an hour).

Roll dough out to an approximate 10" x 20" rectangle. Gently spread the butter over the dough, then sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon. If you like nuts, you could add 3/4 cup chopped pecans. Roll up, starting with the long side. Slice roll (a bread knife works best) into 12 1" thick pieces. Put in two buttered cake pans, with 1 slice in the middle and 5 ringing it. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in the refrigerator at least overnight, but up to an entire day ahead. Bake at 375 degrees for 24 minutes.

Whisk together powdered sugar and milk with a fork. Drizzle over rolls while still hot.

Who can say yum????? Enjoy!

Thanks for reading!

About Ride Hard
Release: April 26, 2016
Romance Subgenre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Raven Riders #1

Brotherhood. Club. Family.They live and ride by their own rules.These are the Raven Riders . . .

Raven Riders Motorcycle Club President Dare Kenyon rides hard and values loyalty above all else. He’ll do anything to protect the brotherhood of bikers—the only family he’s got—as well as those who can’t defend themselves. So when mistrustful Haven Randall lands on the club’s doorstep scared that she’s being hunted, Dare takes her in, swears to keep her safe, and pushes to learn the secrets overshadowing her pretty smile.

Haven fled from years of abuse at the hands of her criminal father and is suspicious of any man’s promises, including those of the darkly sexy and overwhelmingly intense Ravens’ leader. But as the powerful attraction between them flares to life, Dare pushes her boundaries and tempts her to want things she never thought she could.

The past never dies without a fight, but Dare Kenyon’s never backed down before . . .

About Laura Kaye
Laura is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over twenty books in contemporary and paranormal romance and romantic suspense, including the Hard Ink and upcoming Raven Riders series. Growing up, Laura’s large extended family believed in the supernatural, and family lore involving angels, ghosts, and evil-eye curses cemented in Laura a life-long fascination with storytelling and all things paranormal. She lives in Maryland with her husband, two daughters, and cute-but-bad dog, and appreciates her view of the Chesapeake Bay every day.

Website | Facebook |Twitter | Newsletter Sign Up | RIDE HARD on Goodreads

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

What I'm Reading: Highly Anticipated Releases of May 2016

Look how many books on my TBR list are coming out in May! I'm pretty sure I won't get to read/review all of these, but look for a lot of playlists and reviews in May. Also, I have been sorting through a lot of my favorite author's backlists so you may see quite a few playlists for some older books pop up!

Scot of My Dreams by Janice Maynard

Release: May 10, 2016
Type: Contemporary Romance
Series: Kilted Heroes #2

In USA Today bestselling author Janice Maynard’s sweet and sexy new series, three childhood friends with a shared passion for the Outlander novels and TV show decide to travel to Scotland looking for adventure—and their very own Highland heroes…

Willow Ryman is as crazy about Scotland as her friends, but she’s on a tighter budget. So during their visit, she opts to stay at a shabby local hostel instead of a cozy B&B. When the owners abruptly decide to shut down for renovations, Willow is left out in the cold—until while exploring the countryside, Willow meets a handsome, friendly, kilt-clad fisherman. The Scotsman is everything she’s dreamed about. But he’s a blueblood, and she’s blue collar…

Bryce McBrae’s lineage as Laird McBrae has always been more of a burden than a blessing. Rarely does it spark such stimulating conversation as he enjoys with the pretty, refreshing American. Wanting more and unwilling to let Willow slip away, he invites her to stay at his castle. But as the two fall hard and fast for each other, they’ll have to decide whether this is just a vacation fling—or a sexy Cinderella story come true…

Too Hot to Handle by Tessa Bailey

Release: May 17, 2016
Type: Contemporary Romance
Series: Romancing the Clarkson's #1

The first book in a brand new contemporary romance series from New York Times bestselling author Tessa Bailey!

When Rita Clarkson's Suburban takes its last breath on a New Mexico roadside, rescue roars up on a Harley in the form of smooth-talking honkey tonk owner, Jasper Ellis, a man as mysterious as he is charming. Rita's cross-country journey to New York City--with her three estranged siblings in tow--is only beginning, but now that Jasper has found Rita, his plans do not include her leaving.

Dark Alpha's Demand by Donna Grant

Release: May 17, 2016
Type: Paranormal Romance
Series: Reapers #3

There is no escaping a Reaper. I am an elite assassin, part of a brotherhood that only answers to Death. And when Death says your time is up, I am coming for you...

My secret is an ancient one. I exist to exact vengeance on the Fae for their wrongs per Death's orders. When I’m sent as a spy to one of the most treacherous, deceitful places in any realm – the court of the Light Queen – things go awry. Neve captured my soul with just a look from her seductive gaze. She is who I want, who I crave…who I hunger for. But someone has set out to kill her – and expose me. I’ll destroy any man – human or Fae – who brings harm to her, for she is the light my soul can’t risk losing…in Dark Alpha’s Demand, the next Reapers novel from New York Times bestselling author Donna Grant.

Mr. and Mr. Smith by Helenkay Dimon
Release: May 23, 2016
Type: Romantic Suspense, Contemporary Romance, MM Romance
Standalone Novel

Secrets and seduction make for an explosive combination in HelenKay Dimon’s edgy, thrilling new series, which kicks off with a novel about two men who can handle any threat—except the one posed by desire.

Fisher Braun knows how to keep a secret. As a covert paramilitary operative, his job—and his life—depends on it. He’s at the top of his game, ready for action and always in control. No enemy has ever brought him to his knees, but one lover has: Zachary Allen, the man currently sharing his bed. The perfect package of brains and brawn, Zach is someone worth coming home to, and Fisher hates keeping him in the dark about what he does. But the lies keep Zach safe. Until the day Fisher loses everything. . .

Zachary Allen is no innocent civilian. Although he plays the tech geek, in reality he’s deep undercover for the CIA. In a horrible twist of fate, the criminal enterprise he’s infiltrated has set its sights on the man whose touch drives him wild. Zach would do anything for Fisher—except blow his own cover. Now, in order to save him, Zach must betray him first. And he needs Fisher to trust him with all his heart if they want to make it out alive.

Tempting Isabel by Rissa Brahm
Release: May 24, 2016
Type: Contemporary Romance
Series: Paradise South #1

Luck. Lust. Love.

Wedding planner Isabel Ruiz is cursed. Her hometown of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico agrees, considering her tragic track record. Alone and loveless, she creates fairy-tale weddings for others. Her only distraction? The occasional anonymous fling. So to avoid further tragedy, her rule, one–night–only, is never broken…

Until Zack.

Self-made millionaire Zack James is in town for his brother’s wedding, when a sudden spell of depression hits. Maybe burned out by his fast and luxurious lifestyle? Not even his two female companions hold any interest.

That is, until he meets Isabel.

She humbles and captivates him, reigniting his thirst for life. With her, Zack feels more alive than ever. To his delight—and her dismay—they share a deep bond, a sensual connection, and one mind-bending night.

Zack must have her – to complete him. And Isabel must escape him – to save him.

Their game of catch and chase leads to lust-turned-love. For Isabel, it's fate’s cruelest joke. But Zack won’t quit, positive he’s the cure to her curse. Can he convince her to risk everything with him? Or will it all go south…in paradise.

The Darkest Torment by Gena Showalter

Release: May 31, 2016
Type: Paranormal Romance
Series: Lords of the Underworld #12

New York Times bestselling author Gena Showalter returns with her most explosive Lords of the Underworld tale to date, about a fierce warrior on the brink of sanity who will stop at nothing to claim the exquisite human with the power to soothe the beast inside him…

Driven to his death by the demon of Distrust, Baden spent centuries in purgatory. Now he's back, but at what cost? Bound to the king of the underworld, an even darker force, he's unable to withstand the touch of another…and he's quickly devolving into a heartless assassin with an uncontrollable temper. Things only get worse when a mission goes awry and he finds himself saddled with a bride—just not his own.

Famed dog trainer Katarina Joelle is forced to marry a monster to protect her loved ones. When she's taken hostage by the ruthless, beautiful Baden immediately after the ceremony, she's plunged into a war between two evils—with a protector more dangerous than the monsters he hunts. They are meant to be enemies, but neither can resist the passion burning between them…and all too soon the biggest threat is to her heart.

But as Baden slips deeper into the abyss, she'll have to teach him to love…or lose him forever.

Lana and the Laird by Sabrina York
Release: May 31, 2016
Type: Historical Romance
Series: Untamed Highlanders #3


Lachlan Sinclair cannot escape his accursed heritage in his Highlands homeland. Somewhat resigned to the fate that destroyed his ancestors, he is prepared to live his life without an heir, without a wife―without love. But when he meets the woman of his dreams in the flesh, the bewitching lass makes him want to throw away his cursed, restrained existence…and unleash the highlander within…

Lana Dounreay has only seen the Duke of Caithness in her dreams as a wild, rugged man, while in reality, his life has been cramped by curses and cravats. He may have forgone his kilt and lost his brogue, but Lana knows that the heart of a true Scotsman beats within his broad, muscular chest. But what plans does the mysterious, passionate Lachlan have in mind for her―and can she convince him that love is stronger than all else?

Are there any books you are looking forward to reading in May?

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Magnate (The Knickerbocker Club #1) by Joanna Schupe

Magnate by Joanna Shupe

Release: April 26, 2016
Romance Subgenre: Historical Romance
Series: The Knickerbocker Club #1

I rate this book:

New York City's Gilded Age shimmers with unimaginable wealth and glittering power. The men of the Knickerbocker Club know this more than anyone else. But for one millionaire, the business of love is not what he expected...

Born in the slums of Five Points, Emmett Cavanaugh climbed his way to the top of a booming steel empire and now holds court in an opulent Fifth Avenue mansion. His rise in stations, however, has done little to elevate his taste in women. He loathes the city's "high society" types, but a rebellious and beautiful blue-blood just might change all that.

Elizabeth Sloane's mind is filled with more than the latest parlor room gossip. Lizzie can play the Stock Exchange as deftly as New York's most accomplished brokers--but she needs a man to put her skills to use. Emmett reluctantly agrees when the stunning socialite asks him to back her trades and split the profits. But love and business make strange bedfellows, and as their fragile partnership begins to crack, they'll discover a passion more frenzied than the trading room floor...

Theme Song

After I reviewed Tycoon by Joanna Shupe earlier this Spring I immediately added the next installment of the Knickerbocker Club to my TBR pile. Seriously, buy this book right now. 1-click the heck out of it and read it ASAP.

The absolute best thing about this book is Shupe’s stunning writing. Every word in Magnate seems carefully chosen. The writing is so intense, so rich and it’s hard to not slow down and enjoy the journey. Also, if you read my review of Tycoon you know that I love the Gilded Age setting of these books. Reading historicals not set in Regency England (or even in Victorian and Georgian England) always feels like such a treat since that’s primarily what’s available in the marketplace. Just like Tycoon, Schupe’s descriptions of Gilded Age fashion, buildings and decor are simply breathtaking. Sign me up for more romances in diverse time-periods any day!

When I finished Magnate I knew the perfect song to represent Emmett and Elizabeth. I had just heard “Safe Place to Land” earlier in the week due to my Discover Weekly playlist on Spotify. If you read through the lyrics of the song I hope you agree that they are perfect for our hero and heroine.

“Safe Place to Land” by Christian Burghardt
Unsure if I’ll disappear
I’m not going nowhere
Open your eyes
I’m always
Gonna be
Your safe place to land

What did you think of Magnate?
Are there any songs that remind you of Emmett, Elizabeth and their HEA?

Buy Magnate on Amazon

Monday, April 25, 2016

Author Playlist: The Wedding Pact by Katee Robert

Carrigan O'Malley has fallen in love with family enemy #1, James Halloran, and he has absolutely no intention of letting her get away. The Wedding Pact is the second book in a smoking-hot series about the O'Malleys—wealthy, powerful, and full of scandalous family secrets from New York Times Bestseller Katee Robert and Forever Romance.

I'm excited to have author Katee Robert on the blog today to discuss her new book, The Wedding Pact. Thanks for sharing, Katee!

Author Guest Post and Playlist

Question from Romance Playlist: Does Katee listen to a specific playlist, album or song when writing? How does music factor in her writing process and the O'Malley's world?

Katee Robert: Music is a vital part of the writing process for me. For each book, I either create a playlist or mold a Pandora station to meet my needs. For The Wedding Pact, it was a playlist. It’s very eclectic, but it really encompasses the feel of the book for me overall.

Break the Fall - Laura Welsh
Over - Tove Lo
Laura - Flogging Molly (I wore this one out with all the replays. LOVE this song)
Treading Water - Alex Clare
Ghosts - Laura Welsh
Frisky (feat. Labrinth) - Tinie Tempah
Nina - Ed Sheeran
Almost Lose It - Trey Songz
Out of Mind - Tove Lo
Hell on an Angel - Brantley Gilbert
Relax My Beloved - Alex Clare
This is Gonna Hurt - Sixx:A.M.
Afire Love - Ed Sheeran
Born to Die - Eli Lieb
If You Want a Bad Boy - Brantley Gilbert
Help is On the Way - Sixx:A.M.
I See FIre - Ed Sheeran
Teeth - Lady Gaga
R.I.P. (feat Tinie Tempah) - Rita Ora
Bang Bang - Willie Moon
Monster - Lady Gaga
Trumpets - Jason Derulo
Bossy (feat. Too $hort) - Kelis

Katee's Playlist

About The Wedding Pact

Release: April 26, 2016
Romance Subgenre: Contemporary Romance
Series: The O'Malley's Series #2

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Katee Robert continues her smoking-hot series about the O'Malleys-wealthy, powerful, and full of scandalous family secrets.

Carrigan O'Malley has always known her arranged marriage would be more about power and prestige than passion. But after one taste of the hard-bodied, whiskey-voiced James Halloran, she's ruined for anyone else. Too bad James and his family are enemy number 1. 

Hallorans vs. O'Malleys-that's how it's always been. James should be thinking more about how to expand his family's empire instead of how silky Carrigan's skin is against his and how he can next get her into his bed. Those are dangerous thoughts. But not nearly as dangerous as he'll be if he can't get what he wants: Carrigan by his side for the rest of their lives.

About Katee Robert

New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Katee Robert learned to tell her stories at her grandpa’s knee. She found romance novels at age twelve and it changed her life. When not writing sexy contemporary and speculative fiction romance novels, she spends her time playing imaginary games with her wee ones, driving her husband batty with what-if questions, and planning for the inevitable zombie apocalypse.

Connect with Katee at: Website | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads | Instagram | Tumblr | Youtube

What did you think of The Wedding Pact?
Are there any songs that remind you of James, Carrigan and their HEA? can find my review of The Wedding Pact here.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Icing (Aces Hockey #2) by Kelly Jamieson

{I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.}

Review and Character Study Playlist

Release: April 19, 2016
Type: Contemporary Romance, Sports Romance
Series: Aces Hockey #2

Ladies and gentlemen, I’m still on a sports romance kick. Which is totally OK in my opinion since it led me to Icing by Kelly Jamieson. I really enjoy Ms. Jamieson’s hockey books. The Heller Brothers series hit all of the right buttons for me and I truly believe it’ll be a series I reread over and over again. I enjoyed Icing just as much as the previous Kelly Jamieson books I’ve read; I might have even enjoyed it a bit more than the Heller books in some ways. Please note that I have NOT read the previous Chicago Aces series book and that seemed totally fine as I read through Icing since Jamieson gave us plenty of background on the characters, setting and the Aces.

The Good
  • I totally adore hockey romances. If you like sports romance, or just hockey romances specifically, you really shouldn’t pass by a chance to read a Jamieson book. The author just gets everything readers love about sports romances: the vulnerability of the hero/heroine in the media spotlight, the game day routines and the pros/cons of dating a professional sports player. The complexities of the romantic situation are never glossed over with Jamieson. Instead, they are explored and taken into account for each and every hero and heroine that she tackles. I can’t recommend Jamieson’s books enough if you like sports heros.
  • The meet-cute in this book was pretty awesome. Although Duncan and Amber meet quickly on the heels of Duncan’s previous relationship, it didn’t feel like a rebound. The lead-up to the initial date at the diner more than held my interest and the amazingness that was their first date was worth the initial wait and turmoil. The beauty of the romance genre is that we know what’s going to happen at the end, so the back and forth between Amber and Duncan and their feelings over getting rejected by one another made their coming together that much sweeter.
The Bad
  • Something about the writing in this book didn’t flow for me. It felt choppy at various parts like I was reading an incomplete work or a rough draft. It certainly wasn’t the whole book or even most of the book, just a few scenes, but it spoiled one or two of the sexy scenes for me.
The Unique
  • I’m not sure I’ve read a character like Amber recently. Sure she grew up with money, sure she grew up with privilege, but at the end of the day, even when Duncan says she wants to take care of her, she doesn’t budge and run to him with open arms. Amber wants to be independent and take care of herself. She concedes a little bit, but not much. I have to admire that in a heroine.
The Playlist
  • The HEA for Duncan and Amber was just so sweet that I couldn’t pass up the chance to do a playlist entirely based on their HEA. Be forewarned: the musical style of the songs on this list is incredibly varied since I focused on lyrics.

I rate this book:
What did you think of Icing?
Are there any songs that remind you of Duncan, Amber and their HEA?

Monday, April 18, 2016

Caught up in Raine (Caught Up In Love #1) by L.G. O'Connell

{I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.}

Review and Curated Soundtrack

Release: April 18, 2016
Type: Contemporary Romance
Series: Caught Up in Love #1

Caught Up In Raine is one of the first ARCs I received when starting this blog. I wanted to read/review the book since the May/December romance featured would be a good fit for lots of different songs in a variety of musical genres. After reading the book though I realize that the book is so much more than the typical May/December romance; that is only a piece of the puzzle of Caught Up In Raine. Jillian and Raine’s relationship is complicated, and messy and they both come to the relationship with baggage (actual baggage not perceived baggage). This was an excellent start to L.G. O’Connell’s new series and I’ll be patiently/not-so-patiently waiting for the rest of the books.

The Good

  • It’s so refreshing to read vulnerable characters. Although we get weak/fragile heroines in romance, it’s always intriguing to read heros who are struggling and vulnerable in some way. Raine’s character felt unprotected in certain scenes of the book but came across as so physically-strong and emotionally-mature in others. The dichotomy of Raine’s situation and personality really made for an excellent story and such great tension.
  • L.G. O’Connell’s writing style really shone in this book. Caught Up In Raine covers a lot of ground and emotion, but I didn’t feel bogged down in the weeds on this one. I appreciated that it wasn’t overly wordy and maintained a steady flow. Never once did I feel myself starting to skim, but I didn’t feel rushed either.
  • It’s always nice to read contemporary that takes you to a different place. This book transported me to Jillian’s house, the beach house and the hospital. So often I feel like the “world building” or “setting the stage” in contemporaries is lacking, I didn’t get that sense at all with Caught Up In Raine.
The Bad
  • The initial meet-cute between Jillian and Raine and the first few scenes between them worried me. Although Jillian’s feelings for Raine took on a life of their own, her initial attraction to him through the lense of Drew really troubled me. It was hard to read honestly. I was very worried for Raine. If you start the book and feel the same way, push on.
The Unique
  • There aren’t a lot well written May/December romances out there when the woman is the older lover. O’Connell’s take on the May/December trope is especially unique since Jillian is not the typical “cougar”, she isn’t looking for a younger man. Jillian’s hesitation to pursue Raine and her battle to come to grips with their relationship had me rooting for their HEA once I got over the initial bumps in their relationship.
The Playlist
  • It took a lot of time for me to come up with a suitable character student playlist for Caught up in Raine. Raine and Jillian's relationship was just so passionate that I really felt like I knew them personally coming out of the book. For some reason I NEEDED to create the perfect playlist for these character's HEA. After some serious thought and strife, hopefully I did :) 

    "You Changed Me" by Michael Warren especially fits Jillian and Raine: 
    And you changed me,
    And you changed the way,
    You changed the way I look at love.

    You shook me up,
    And I never saw I'm shaking,
    Its just enough,
    Now my hearts unbreaking,
    You were meant for me.

I rate this book:
What did you think of Caught Up In Raine?
Are there any songs that remind you of Raine, Jillian and their HEA?

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Pass Interference (Game On #3) by Desiree Holt

{I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.}

Review and Character Study Playlist

Release: April 12, 2016
Type: Erotica, Contemporary Romance, Sports Romance
Series: Game On #3

Over and over and over again people have told me I should pick up a Desiree Holt book. I’m sure friends always recommend her work since I enjoy reading erotica, but people also seem to comment on her ability to write likeable characters. I, therefore, had pretty high expectations when I picked up Pass Interference. Pass Interference also interested me due to it being a sports romance. See, I’m on an athletes kick lately...a really long and involved athletes kick. This book was a chance for me to not only read more of what I was currently loving but also branch out away from the hockey boys that had been dominating my life, and move onto a different kind of athlete. 

The Good
  • The character Tony added a thoughtful element to the book. It’s not often that we get to see acquaintances of the heroine that are significantly older and friends of a parental figure play a role in the romance or in character development. It was interesting to see Tony speak not only to Rafe’s attraction to Tyler but also get his perspective on Tyler’s father after her mother died.
The Bad
  • I’ve read the general idea of this book before...the heroine felt ignored by her parent(s) who were successful members of a sports community, so she acts out and then has some sort of “come to Jesus” moment where her life changes and she’s decide to now take on a relationship with the man she’s always wanted. Yep, I’ve read this general idea before.
  • Although this book can be read as a stand-alone I felt like I was missing pieces of the puzzle. I’m going to take a guess in saying that Rafe’s friends at the gala were the heros of the previous Game On books, but without knowing anything about Rafe (where is he from, does he have a family, etc.) I’m just not sure how his friends fit in. It’s almost like he doesn’t have a life outside his football career and his ex-coach, Tyler’s father. All this leads to Rafe feeling pretty one-dimensional.
The Unique
  • I’d categorize this book as a contemporary romance, however, it certainly had suspenseful elements woven in. Without the stalker element Tyler and Rafe may have never lived together and Tyler and her Father may not have begun to reconcile, so from a plot perspective the suspenseful element makes total sense. What the stalker storyline also showcased was Holt’s talent for writing in different genres and blending them together seamlessly. Pass Interference also had strong erotic elements, sports elements and protector covered a whole lot of romance tropes all in one read. The good thing about Holt’s ability to blend writing genres and tropes was that I didn’t notice distinct sections of the book or plot as having different voices or a different tone. Only after I read the book (in one sitting) and reflecting on it did I realize how many genres were really working in tandem.
The Playlist
  • This playlist is a little of this and a little of that. The songs I chose were based on plot elements and what I imagine the characters were feeling. “Crash” by Dave Matthews Band was added for the stalker elements of the plot (you can read about the song here). “Need You Now” is based around Tyler reaching out to Rafe for help. “Bubbly” represents Tyler’s growing feelings for Rafe. “Wonderful Tonight” is how I imagine Rafe was feeling when Tyler and he attended the fundraiser. To represent Tyler and Rafe’s tumultuous relationship throughout the book I added in “Stay A Little Longer”. Finally, “When You Say Nothing At All” is symbolic of Rafe and Tyler’s HEA.

I rate this book:
What did you think of Pass Interference?
Are there any songs that remind you of Rafe, Tyler and their HEA?