Archives for March 2015

Review: Body Games by Jessica Clare

body gamesReviewed by Janell

Continuing my glomming of every book in this series, this story is set around another edition of Endurance Island, the fictionalized version of Survivor. Annabelle was a contestant on a previous EI, where she fell in love with Kip. She spent her time on the island cuddling with him, while Kip played her for her jury vote and interviewed that she was gullible and stupid. A year later, Annabelle is known as the Idiot Slut. Groupies come to the restaurant where she waitresses to see “bimbo Annabelle and her slutty McSlutterton boobs.”

She’s trying to move past it when the producers call. Would she like to compete again on Endurance Island: Power Players? Hell no, she says. But what if she had a guaranteed payout, and she could redeem her reputation, and beat Kip? Since her real life kind of sucks, she decides to take another chance. But she’s learned from her mistakes — she won’t wear a lot of makeup or skimpy clothes so she won’t appear slutty, and she definitely will not fall for or kiss any guy. [Read more…]

Joint Review: Deep by Kylie Scott

deepPositive. With two little lines on a pregnancy test, everything in Lizzy Rollins’ ordinary life is about to change forever. And all because of one big mistake in Vegas with Ben Nicholson, the irresistibly sexy bass player for Stage Dive. So what if Ben’s the only man she’s ever met who can make her feel completely safe, cherished, and out of control with desire at the same time? Lizzy knows the gorgeous rock star isn’t looking for anything more permanent than a good time, no matter how much she wishes differently.

Ben knows Lizzy is off limits. Completely and utterly. She’s his best friend’s little sister now, and no matter how hot the chemistry is between them, no matter how sweet and sexy she is, he’s not going to go there. But when Ben is forced to keep the one girl he’s always had a weakness for out of trouble in Sin City, he quickly learns that what happens in Vegas, doesn’t always stay there. Now he and Lizzie are connected in the deepest way possible…but will it lead to a connection of the heart?

Reviewed by Janell and Carrie

Janell: I was not looking forward to this book. Ben didn’t appeal to me at all from the other books, probably because he never did anything, and he never spoke, and he was described as a giant. I like a tall man, but he seemed too large to be sexy. I didn’t think  he would make an appealing hero, so if this wasn’t part of a series that I loved, I wouldn’t have read it.

Carrie: I was very much looking forward to this book because this is the last book in the series and I wanted to see how the author would portray Ben, who was the quiet dude in the background. I was hoping to find out about his deal and how he fit in with the band. 

Janell: When I found out Lizzie was the heroine, I wasn’t too thrilled, either, because it all seemed so incestuous. But what’s weird is that I love how the Stage Dive family is so close and sort of dysfunctional. I like how they hang out and have dinners and party together. I guess I thought Anne’s sister was too easy of a character choice, like all the single people are now nicely wrapped up.

Carrie: I hear what you are saying. Lizzie being the heroine definitley seems like an easy out, but the author has been leading up to this ever since book 2 so I had already accepted it. I agree with you that I love the family atmosphere of the band and it totally makes sense as the guys have basically grown up together. They have a very small circle and, in that sense, Lizzie for Ben seems realistic.

Janell: Let me say nice things now. Sometimes in series books I find the “checking in” with past characters to be pointless, but I didn’t feel that way here. Maybe I’m only complaining because I’m not always a completist, and I find myself reading review books that are late in a series I haven’t read. In those cases, I’m like, “stop having these random people pop in to say hi, and stop having this main character think about the plot of past books.” So, if I’ve read the other books, fine, but if not, it bugs me. Apparently the answer is to read the whole series!

Carrie: I’ll go ahead and disagree here – I LOVE checking in with past characters. It gives me warm fuzzies to see their HEA continuing. 

Janell: I like how Ev is still the mother hen. I loved seeing Anne and Mal’s relationship through another pair of eyes, and I loved Mal’s instant brother relationship with Lizzie.  And I more than loved seeing Jimmy as a dutiful, responsible lover and future father, especially giving advice to Ben. (One of my biggest problems with Lead was that Jimmy’s “I’m in love” revelation came so near the end, and it seemed too easy for him to admit. I wanted to see how he changed after that, but the book ended. So in a way I read the Jimmy parts as the conclusion of his own story, and I was so grateful.)

Carrie: Yes!! Ev is still the most levelheaded of the bunch and I love how she can quickly settle a volatile situation. Mal was a just a wee bit over the top as Lizzie’s insta-brother. I would’ve liked a moment of clarity from him on that front to make it a tad more believable.  However, I totally agree that the best part was Lena and Jimmy – specifically Jimmy. Was he ever more adorable than when lovingly smothering Lena to the point of her telling him to back up a bit? I also loved his authoritarian transformation when giving Ben a lecture. I swear I could totally read another book with him. 

Janell: I thought that Ben as a character was the least interesting of all the guys. The others all had issues from their past, or sadness somewhere. Ben was just always the easygoing guy. Dave wants him to play bass? He plays bass. The other guys are busy with their women? He sits in with another band. The author did a great job of explaining him. I totally get that all he wanted to do was hang out and play music and party, and that was his only goal in life. And I totally understand how he screwed up with Lizzie over and over. He wanted to ignore the problem, then throw money at it and be the least involved. It took him until the very end to commit, and even then I wasn’t sure that he would stick. I like that he admitted to Lizzie that he would keep screwing up so she needed to keep forgiving him.

Carrie: I feel like we never really got to know Ben at all, other than he had a rough childhood and he liked his life the way it was.  While all the other members of the band stayed connected, he floated off on his own and did his thing. He’s so afraid of Lizzie, but I didn’t understand why – just because she was a killjoy that put a wrench in his life? 

Janell: Lizzie, for the most part, was a badass. I loved that she was using her psychology classes to try to win Ben over. I liked how she started the texting thing, and her humor came across in it. I loved how she stood up for herself every time Ben tried to get caveman jealous on her. She was like, no, you are not the boss of me and I don’t care that you don’t like it.

Carrie: I’m going to slightly disagree here. I thought Lizzie gave Ben a lot of chances and waited around secretly hoping he would change his mind. Yes, she didn’t let his caveman attitude go but she also let him come back time after time. 

Janell: At least she realized that she was pathetic, and she kept trying to be done with him. But you’re right, she still let him come back. And that’s going to be the pattern of her life. Now that I look back on it, Lizzie seemed to do the most changing. I wish the book got more into how they worked things out, how they related. Kind of like with Lena and Jimmie, I wanted to see them work past things. If Ben just keeps being Ben, and then keeps apologizing, then I think Lizzie got the bad end of the deal. I mean, she’s attracted to him, and she likes his beard, but what does he do for her? This could totally be my anti-Ben bias, so I hope you can point out some good things about him!

Carrie: I’m afraid I really can’t. Honestly, I don’t really understand how a few texts here and there about inane things suddenly morphs into an all consuming love that Ben must stay away from because he doesn’t know how to love because his parents were awful. 

Janell: One last random thought about the writing style… sometimes I like it, but then sometimes I think Ev and Lena and Lizzie all sound the same in their heads. That conversational, lusty, “can you blame me?” tone. I loved Ev because she was the first. And I didn’t notice it much with Anne, because she was calm and Mal was so crazy (I love Mal forever). I was enjoying Lena being tough, but then the last half of the book she sounded just like Ev, and then Lizzie sounded like that, too. Maybe it’s because they’re all around 21? I don’t know. So I appreciated Lizzie’s psychology insight, but it seemed to fade away as she she focused more on her emotions.

Carrie: I had a couple quibbles with the writing as well. I felt like Lizzie’s character was more of an amalgamation of Ev, Anne and Lena than a separate character. I also didn’t like that the reader is “told” what was going on through conversations that Lizzie was overhearing. I would have rather had some dialogue and interaction between Ben & Lizzie.

Janell: Yes! Their main interaction was text messages! There were phone calls that we were not shown, which seemed like lazy relationship building. Their romance was like, Flirt, Oops, tiptoe tiptoe tiptoe, Sex. No talking. But Ben doesn’t talk anyway. I sound critical, but that’s only because I love. I love the world, and the band, and how they all look out for each other. I just think I’m a little sad for Lizzie.

Carrie: I’m sad that this feels like sort of a throwaway book for me. While I loved checking in with the characters, the romance totally fell flat. I can only hope that there might be a Jimmy, Lena and Baby novella someday!

Janell: I wish the series had been written in a different order! Saving Ben for last was a letdown. I think I’d give it a C+, though, because Jimmy 🙂

Carrie: Sadly, it was only a C read for me.

*ARC provided by publisher

Click to purchase: Amazon

Deep
by Kylie Scott
Release Date: March 31, 2015
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

Review: Total Surrender by Rebecca Zanetti

total surrenderReviewed by Jaimie

I have been waiting not so patiently for Total Surrender by Rebecca Zanetti to release and it is finally here!  While I was really excited to read Jory’s story, I was also sad that this was the last book in the Sin Brothers series.  This series is by far one of my favorites and I worried a bit about how Ms. Zanetti was going to wrap it all up.  I worried for nothing!  Total Surrender was really fast paced, it wrapped up a few things that had been lingering throughout the series and I loved Jory and Piper – they are my favorite couple from the series. [Read more…]

Review: It Started With a Scandal by Julie Anne Long

it started with a scandalReviewed by Jen

Julie Anne Long has done it again. This book proves once again why she is one of my favorite historical romance authors. She crafts characters I genuinely care about and relationships easy to root for. Although this is the latest in her Pennyroyal Green series, it holds up well as a standalone, featuring neither a Redmond nor an Eversea (the two core families) in a leading role. It is a great place for a new reader to get their feet wet –or for an existing fan to return. [Read more…]

Review: Warcry by Elizabeth Vaughan

warcryReviewed by Jen

I wasn’t sure how I would feel about Elizabeth Vaughan changing the focus on this series from my beloved Keir and Lara to Heath and Atira.  Thankfully, the shift did not leave the royal couple behind. In fact, the Warlord and his Warprize get almost as much page time as the new featured couple.  To be fair, it does take away some from the main romance, but it also helps the book feel more like a continuation of the same story, rather than a spinoff.

This story picks up shortly after the events of Warlord.  It follows our characters as they journey from the Heart of the Plains back to Xy. Lara is 9 months pregnant and is facing some staunch political opposition from some of her detractors. She must take her place as queen and ensure the future of her child as her heir.  Heath is one of her strongest allies. He travels with her, both to help ease her transition back into power and to try to convince Atira to bond with him. [Read more…]

Review: Reindeer Games by Jessica Clare

reindeer gamesReviewed by Janell

This is a novella that was previously published in a holiday anthology. Usually I stay away from novellas, but since I am now a Jessica Clare acolyte and a Games series completist, I had no choice. Luckily, it was a fun story!

Luna is a contestant on Endurance Island: Alaska. Yes, the reality show decided to take away the bikinis and add suffering by filming in Alaska in December. The logistics of the reality shows in these books always requires a lot of suspension of disbelief. I’m just going to guess that this fake show never returns to a cold climate. [Read more…]

Review: Part Time Cowboy by Maisey Yates

part time cowboyReviewed by Carrie

I super love Maisey Yates’ Silver Creek contemporary small town series. I was bummed to hear of its ending until the author mentioned on Twitter that she had a similar new series coming out with Harlequin. It’s a lot like the previous series and I was happy to delve back into the rural small town goodness.  If you are a fan of the enemies to lovers stories, this is right up your alley! [Read more…]

Review: To Seduce a Sinner by Elizabeth Hoyt

to seduce a sinnerReviewed by Jen

Usually, it’s the hero who can make or break a romance for me. But in this book, the heroine is the standout. Sure, I liked Jasper well enough, but Melisande stole my heart with her quiet strength and hidden love for her own husband.

If you’ve read To Taste Temptation, you may remember Jasper, Lord Vale, as the man Emmeline almost married and Melisande as her best friend.  (Even if you haven’t read it, though, this works fine as a standalone.) Like all of the heroes in this series, Jasper is still recovering from the deadly attack on his soldiers while serving in the military, and he is determined to weed out the traitor who sold them out.  He was not harmed physically, but he still bears the emotional scars of the attack and subsequent torture of the survivors. [Read more…]

Review: Grave Witch by Kalayna Price

grave witchReviewed by Jen

It’s always exciting when I find a new Urban Fantasy series to love. And I can tell from this first installment that the Alex Craft books hit my sweet spot.  There are moments that feel a little familiar. I felt hints of Charley Davidson’s Reyes in the sexy, enigmatic Death. With the grave magic our heroine uses and her affinity for the dead, I caught a little whiff of Anita Blake (of the Guilty Pleasures variety, before all the group sex.) There’s a little estranged, wealthy father action, a la Chicagoland Vampires or Allie Beckstrom. But within the sum of its parts, this book really stands up as a unique and engaging story.  The worldbuilding is well done and original. The pacing is good. And the characters are well drawn and sympathetic. Especially Alex. [Read more…]

Review: Falling by Barbara Elsborg

fallingReviewed by Jen

A sympathetic hero is probably the single most important element of a winning romance for me, whether it’s a traditional het rom or a m/m read. This story definitely has a hero who you can’t help but root for.  Harper has just spent the past 10 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.  He was a teacher, falsely accused of raping a student. Now, he is out of jail, his reputation in tatters, and he has no idea how to regain any sense of normalcy.  He has no one to come home to. Everyone abandoned him. He has only the worn down house his father left him before Alzheimers robbed him of his faculties. [Read more…]