Tuesday, October 17, 2017

In Too Deep by Kimberly Kincaid

Title: In Too Deep
Author: Kimberly Kincaid
My Rating: A

Genre: Contemporary Romance/Romantic Suspense
Series: Station Seventeen #3
Main Characters: Luke and Quinn
Release Date: October 2017
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
As Station Seventeen’s rookie, Luke Slater knows his fire and EMS training will be both rigorous and risky, but he never imagined having to partner up with the one woman he wants to keep at arm’s length most of all. Quinn Copeland is as wide-open as Luke is reserved. He has no interest in letting the sweet and sexy paramedic rock his hard-earned control. But the need for composure becomes the need to survive when they find themselves in the crosshairs of a brutal gang leader on their first shift together.

Paramedic Quinn Copeland’s station mates aren’t just her friends. They’re her family. She’d do anything to keep them safe—including reluctantly trusting her impossible-to-read, impossibly gorgeous new partner with the one thing she holds close. As the passion between Luke and Quinn goes from a slow burn to a sizzle, their steps grow more and more dangerous, both in the fire house and out. Can they outwit a cold-blooded killer and face the fears that could cost them everything? Or are they in too deep?

My Review: 
Wow, I never would have thought you could write a romantic suspense around two threatened paramedics that turned out as good and edge of your seat action packed as this one did. I really did enjoy it. 

So, this story. Luke is the rookie. He hasn't been working at the fire station long, but in that time, he's proven himself to be a hard worker including training to be a paramedic on top of his fireman training. Luke is an interesting character. He's learned to hold himself back from everything. He's a caretaker, and he makes sure that no one needs to worry about him. He stays a step away from everyone, and just doesn't make connections....and that's very much on purpose. BUT...he's had a crush on Quinn ever since he went to work for Seventeen. 

Quinn loves her job as paramedic and her partner is one of the best. But when he gets hurt, the command decides that she could step up to lead and let Luke take the passenger seat. She's been working with him as he studies so they already know that they work well together. 

But when they go out on their first call, everything goes very, VERY wrong...and now they're both in grave danger...and can't tell anyone, so they find out that they're turning to one another for support. I kind of loved how the story played out. It was extremely sexy and seems to flow naturally. Both these characters are paramedics. They chose that career because they want to take care of other people. To watch them take care of one another is a beautiful thing and then to see Luke open himself up and be vulnerable...huge swoony sigh. I loved that aspect of the story!

In fact I liked all the aspects of the story. I didn't realize until I went to write this review, but I've never read Kimberly Kincaid before. This will NOT be my last read of hers. I like her style of writing and fell in love with the guys at this station. It's time to go do some one-clicking through the series!

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Joyfully His by Jamie Beck

Title: Joyfully His
Author: Jamie Beck
My Rating: B

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Sterling Canyon #3.5
Main Characters: Andy and Nikki
Release Date: October 2017
Publisher: Montlake
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity:  spicy

Story Overview:
Jamie Beck welcomes readers back to Sterling Canyon, Colorado, where a disgraced but charming ski instructor falls in love while trying to redeem himself.

Folks in Sterling Canyon know that small towns have long memories. Two years after the DUI that injured a pedestrian, Andy Randall is still making amends. He hopes the Christmas spirit will help him get rehired as a ski instructor, but that job will come with conditions. He can’t afford another mistake, which is exactly what making a play for his former boss and friend, Nikki Steele, would be.

Nikki races down double black diamonds and hikes mountains better than most guys, unafraid of tumbling down the slopes. But trusting the guy who once shot her down could end in a fall that actually hurts, especially when she’d have to vouch for him with her boss. Still, the resort needs another instructor to handle the holiday tourists, and Andy’s sexy grin and relaxed charisma make him hard to resist.

With both of their reputations now on the line, can Andy convince Nikki that the second chance he wants isn’t only about the job?

My Review:
This is a quick satisfying little holiday read. 

Andy has been a well-known face in the series. He's the guy who drove drunk and almost ruined Grey's life (Grey was the hero in one of the books in the series previously and is now married to Avery, Andy's twin sister.) So, anyway, Andy's been there all along. He's a guy who screwed up...but he's paid for that crime and is trying so hard to get on with his life...not so easy to do in this very small community. But the thing he misses most from his former life is being a ski instructor and working with Nikki. So he goes to her, hoping maybe now that he's served his time, he can get his old job back.

It works, but now Nikki is his boss...something that complicates him trying to pursue a relationship with her even more. For Nikki, she also has issues from that night Andy's life went to hell. She was there. She could have stopped him from driving like a responsible friend should, but she was mired in her own self-recriminations at what she saw as Andy's rejection of her. (She read him wrong...he's very much interested in her, but she'd had too much to drink that night to make sound decisions.)

So, yeah...there are a few lingering issues between the two and that's even before they try to go into any sort of relationship beyond the good friends that they've always been. 

This was a fun little read. It takes place in a ski resort town over the holidays where there is tons of fresh snow and skiing. As a result, the ambience of the book is fantastic. I liked both Nikki and Andy together. The book was short and it could have delved deeper and gone a bit longer because there are some serious conflicts between the two characters that could have been fleshed out more, but this is the perfect novel for a dark, winter night to get  you in the mood for Christmas. It's short. It's sweet. And you only need a couple of hours to read it. 

Overall, I enjoyed it.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Burn For You by J.T. Geissinger

Title: Burn For You
Author: J.T. Geissinger
My Rating: A

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Slow Burn #1
Main Characters: Jackson and Bianca
Release Date: October 2017
Publisher: Montlake
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
The marriage is fake. But for a sassy chef and an arrogant billionaire, the sparks are real…

Jackson “The Beast” Boudreaux is rich, gorgeous, and unbelievably rude to the staff at Chef Bianca Hardwick’s New Orleans restaurant. Bianca would sooner douse herself in hot sauce than cook for Jackson again, but when he asks her to cater his fund-raiser, Bianca can’t refuse, knowing the cash will help pay her mother’s medical bills. Then Jackson makes another outrageous request: Marry me. The unconventional offer includes an enormous sum—money Bianca desperately needs, even if it does come with a contract—and a stunning ring.

The heir to a family bourbon dynasty, Jackson knows the rumors swirling around him. The truth is even darker. Still, he needs a wife to secure his inheritance, and free-spirited, sassy Bianca would play the part beautifully. Soon, though, their simple business deal evolves into an emotional intimacy he’s built walls to avoid.

As the passion heats up between them, Bianca and Jackson struggle to define which feelings are real and which are for show. Is falling for your fake fiancĂ© the best happy ending…or a recipe for disaster?

My Review:
Ooh, this one was a winner in my book. Jackson and Bianca have a very contentious relationship from the start, but that's mainly because he's rough and gruff and she won't put up with being treated badly. It made for a great dichotomy especially after some of the reasons Jackson is the way he is began to be revealed. 

So Jackson...he's extremely wealthy and is known as the Beast because he's not a very nice man. He growls and scowls and is generally unpleasant to almost everyone. BUT there are reasons he's that way and as those things were revealed, my heart melted for him more and more. Gah...this guy needs love so much and Bianca is just the person to give it to him.

Bianca...OMG, I loved her so much. She calls Jackson on his attitude when he's being rude and unconscionable...which is often. He may be richer than midas, but unlike the rest of the world, that doesn't mean Bianca will bow down to his demands. She is exactly what he needs because he needs someone he can trust. He's NEVER had that and it's heartbreaking. 

I loved this book so much. The relationship between Bianca and Jackson is amazing on its own, but there are so many other details that make this book fantastic. Jackson has one friend...his servant who's known him since birth. His character is awesome and so snarky. Every time he was on the page I was laughing out loud. Also, Bianca is a chef and her food plays heavily into the story. There are about 10 recipes added within the book and they sound as delicious as the romance was in this one. I had to buy the book in print so I would have printed copies of all those. 

I loved this story. There are a lot of highs and lows and a lot of emotion throughout the story. That kind of angst is perfect for my reading preferences. I highly recommend this one. If you like angst and sexy chemistry, this story has it in spades. 

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review, but then bought a print copy because I wanted the recipes and to be able to reread. 

Once a Charmer by Sharla Lovelace

Title: Once a Charmer
Author: Sharla Lovelace
My Rating: A-

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Charmed in Texas #3
Main Characters: Allie and Bash
Release Date: October 2017
Publisher: Lyrical Shine
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
Charmed, Texas, is a close-knit small town where people’s dreams of love can come true. That’s not to say that some people aren’t still waiting, and dreaming . . . 
By day, Allie Greene stays busy with her family diner, and keeping tabs on her teenage daughter. What’s really exhausting Allie, however, are the nights. Not that she minds Bash Anderson unbuttoning her naughty desires—if only in her dreams. But what was he doing there at all? He’s her best friend, and a father figure to her girl. Talk about awkward. Talk about OMG-heat-and-fireworks that are flipping fifteen years of normal upside down. And now, when Allie needs him as a friend more than ever, logic doesn’t stand a chance against his lips and irresistible deep-blue eyes . . .
Sure, Bash has fantasized about Allie, but there’s no way he’d act on it. She and her daughter are the closest thing to family he’s ever known. With the exception of one drunken moment fifteen years ago, he and Allie have stayed on this side of the line—until that impulsive kiss of hers knocked him on his butt. That’s just one hurdle. Not only does Allie need Bash’s help to save her diner, but his apiary is in trouble, too. To stir the pot further, they’ve been roped into vying for the town’s Honey King and Queen contest—a sweet event that’s making them closer than ever. Something’s bound to come undone. Bash just hopes it’s not the friendship he’s worked so hard to hold on to.

My Review:
Ooh, I am a sucker for a good friends to lovers story and this one was fantastic. Bash has always been gorgeous and personable. Even in high school, he would have been much to cool for Allie, except they worked at the diner together and became friends. He was the one person who stood by her when she got pregnant at seventeen. He even delivered her baby and they've been best friends ever since. Although they have flirted with something more a couple of times, they both treasure their friendship too much to really pursue a romantic relationship. They both realize their friendship wouldn't survive a romantic heartbreak.

But as this book begins, things are changing. In one of the previous books, Bash was in danger and the relief over him being okay meant Allie kissed him. Ever since then she's been having erotic dreams about him. Those nightly visuals are making it weird between the two of them. But there's a whole heck of a lot of other drama going on in their lives too which is straining their relationship, including Allie's 15 yo daughter who they both love and adore. 

I loved the relationship between Allie and Bash. I love a good friends to lovers story. What I missed in this book though was his point of view. I really would have loved to have seen some of the story and emotions from his perspective. Because that wasn't there, I just didn't feel like I got to know him as well as I wanted to. 

But Allie is awesome on her own, too. Honestly she's a bit of a mess. She's always felt like she's judged in this small town because she got pregnant so young, but I think she has a skewed vision of how the town really sees her. But it does feel like she's constantly on the verge of a nervous breakdown. And, well, she may be right about that because pretty much everything in her world that can go wrong is on the precipice of collapsing and she's not dealing with the stress too well.

This is the one thing I love about Sharla Lovelace's heroines...they feel real and vulnerable and so deserving of a break. And most of them haven't had many breaks. 

This has been a great series and I really did love Bash and Allie's story! I highly recommend both it and the entire series. (Note: you can read any of the books as stand alones.)

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Slap Shot by Kelly Jamieson

Title: Slap Shot
Author: Kelly Jamieson
My Rating: A

Genre: Sports Romance
Series: Aces Hockey #5
Main Characters: Max and Kendra
Release Date: October 2017
Publisher: Loveswept
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
My name’s Max Hall, and I need to f***. As a pro hockey player who’s been away from the game for over a year, my libido has picked one hell of an an inconvenient time to come roaring back to life.
After my wife died from a rare form of cancer, sex was the last thing on my mind. Same with hockey, the other love of my life. Now, after fifteen months of eating too much, drinking too much, and generally just feeling sorry for myself, I’m facing a steep uphill battle to get my ass in shape and play my way back onto the Chicago Aces.
So I’m not looking for a relationship. Just sex. Yeah, I know how that makes me sound. But the truth is, I’ll never love another woman the way I loved my wife. When I meet a sexy bridesmaid at my teammate’s wedding, I decide to scratch that itch. A fling with Kendra Armstrong in her posh hotel room could be just what the trainer ordered.
Not only is Kendra smokin’ hot, she’s dynamite in bed—one of the perks of being a sex toy designer. Since she lives in New York anyway, we agree to keep things casual, no strings attached. The arrangement is perfect . . . until one of us falls in love. And it’s not me.

My Review:
Max's devastating loss of his wife has played throughout the series. I can't remember which book she died in, but he's been in the background through the whole series, so I was so excited to get to his book. It did not disappoint. 

As one would expect from a book where the hero lost his wife to cancer fifteen months before, there is a lot of emotion to this story. When his wife got sick, Max stepped away from hockey and he didn't come back after she died, instead taking a leave of absence. But now he's ready to jump back into his career. It's just going to take a lot of work because he hasn't exactly been living the life of an elite athlete through this time. He knows it's going to take a ton of work and commitment. He doesn't have time for anything else, but he would like to have sex again.

And that's where Kendra comes in. Kendra and Max are completely compatible in the bedroom. She designs sex toys and has a degree in psychology. She understands Max, and even better, she doesn't want a relationship either. She's also focused on her career. They also live in different cities, so work out a friends with benefits arrangement.

But you know how friends with benefits goes...the emotions tend to develop when no one is expecting it. 

I liked this book. I especially liked that Kendra has studied psychology. She understands the stages of Max's grief and accepts them even when they hurt her. She's very self aware and self confident and that made her a perfect match for Max. I also enjoyed watching Max's comeback to fitness, including the snark about his healthy diet. 

This entire series has been phenomenal and this is another good installment into it. I like getting glimpses of the Bayard players from Kelly's NA series, too. It's fun to see the crossover!

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Save a Truck, Ride a Redneck by Molly Harper

Title: Save a Truck, Ride a Redneck
Author: Molly Harper
My Rating: A+

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Southern Eclectic #.5
Main Characters: Carl and Marianne
Release Date: October 2017
Publisher: Pocket Star
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
Molly Harper brings her signature “clever humor, snark, silliness, and endearing protagonists” (Booklist) to the charming small town of Lake Sackett, Georgia with the new Southern Eclectic series.

Carl and Marianne were high school sweethearts, loving the way only teenagers can—with no thought to logic or pride, just a bone-headed, optimistic frenzy of unicorns and hormones. That was all they needed. Or so Carl thought.

Scared of being stuck in Lake Sackett, Georgia, like so many of her friends—without a real shot at a future or achieving her own dreams—Marianne panicked and bolted to college after stomping Carl’s heart into the high grass. But when she returns to Lake Sackett for the summer with her family after years away, she and Carl are drawn together like moths to a flame. As they rekindle their old romance and remember what it was like to be in love, they have to wonder: is this, finally, their real chance at happiness?

Perfect for fans of Kristan Higgins and Amy E. Reichert, this warmhearted and witty love story introduces Molly Harper’s new Southern Eclectic series set in the small town of Lake Sackett, Georgia. This story about second chances proves that “Molly Harper never lets the reader down with her delightfully entertaining stories. Humor, emotions, and romance are cleverly matched, and her likable characters are most appealing” 

My Review:
OMG, if this is a preview of how good this series is going to be, I'm completely on board as an auto-buy for this series.

This is a second chance at love story. Four years ago, Marianne went to college and broke up with Carl right before she left, breaking his heart. Now she's home for the summer before she heads off to law school and seeing Carl for the first time in four years...and it's not easy. 

The entire story is told from Marianne's POV, so it's hard to know exactly what Carl is thinking and feeling, especially at first. But he's a good guy...that's obvious from the very first when he probably should be at least slightly abrupt with Marianne...she left him in the worst way and completely blindsided him with their breakup. He thought they were going to do the long distance thing. He never planned on holding her back from her dreams, so that's why it took him by surprise so much. 

But they are awesome now. It takes a while to get around the leftover wariness of one another from before, but the dance and the chemistry is amazing. I loved them together and all the little details of this town and Marianne's family and how Carl fits into that. 

I've always loved Molly Harper's paranormal series, but didn't know how that would translate to contemporary stories. The good news is that it translates amazingly well. I couldn't have loved this story anymore and am so excited that it's kicking off a whole new series. I'm ready. Bring on the rest of the books. My one-click finger is ready!

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Broken by Nicola Haken (audiobook)

Title:  Broken
Author: Nicola Haken
My Rating: A-
Narrator: Joel Leslie

Genre: Contemporary Romance (m/m)
Main Characters: Theo and James
Release Date: June 2017 (audiobook)
Publisher: Nicola Haken
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
Length: 10 hrs and 36 mins 

When Theodore Davenport decides to switch his mundane job for a career, he walks into Holden House Publishing with enthusiasm and determination to succeed. As he settles into his new role, makes new friends, and dreams of making it to the top, everything is going to plan.

Until he meets James Holden, CEO of Holden House.

James Holden hasn’t been able to stop thinking about his encounter with the timid man he met in a club bathroom last week, and when he discovers the one haunting his dreams is an employee, he can’t seem to stop himself from pursuing him.

Just a little fun - that’s what James tells himself. He can’t afford to care for someone who can never reciprocate, not once they find out who he really is. James believes nobody deserves the burden of being attached to him. He’s a complicated man. Damaged. Difficult. Demanding. 


Is Theodore strong enough to confront James’ demons? More importantly, is James? 

Please note:This book contains scenes of self harm, mental illness and suicidal ideation which may be uncomfortable for some readers.

My Review:
Overall: 4.25
Performance: 4.0
Story: 4.5

Wow, what a really powerful story this was. I was in the middle of a crazy busy week and this audiobook kept sucking me in. I'd have one hour to listen to it and then sit there for three hours completely engrossed. It was phenomenal. 

The story takes place in London. Theo is new, working at a publishing house. He goes out and gets drunk one night and does something he would normally never do...hook up with a sexy stranger in a bathroom stall. Well, it turns out the stranger is none other than the owner of the publishing house that Theo works at. For the first while, James is powerful and amazing, but then there are little signals that maybe all isn't right in James' world. He's hiding a powerful secret. 

This book is powerful and emotional. Watching James go through his highs and lows is really painful, especially knowing how much he's hurting both of them. The way the story unfolds is perfection just because the reader is totally in love with these two guys falling in love...and then everything crumbles. 

I don't want to post any spoilers. It's emotional, but it's really good and well done. I definitely recommend this one.

Huge kudos to the author. Nothing about this story is easy, but she wrote it exceptionally. It felt real and raw and incredibly believable.