Review: Under Her Skin by Adriana Anders

Reviewed by Joanna

Someone hold me. This story has a lumbersexual, big ole hero, who lives at the edge of the forest and works as a blacksmith. He’s got ropey muscles. And a beard. And he saves stray animals. Oh mummy.

BUT, then the publisher had to go spoil the book by doing something stupid with the Kindle edition. More on that later.

Uma is on the run. She fled her ex with little more than the clothes on her back, and her clapped out car. Desperate, she finds an advert in a small town newspaper and takes up a job as live-in carer for the crotchetiest of old ladies. That woman is as mean as the day is long. She’s awful to poor, broken Uma, but our heroine has no choice but to stay. See, she needs to remain in this town for a very specific reason. Her ex, the vile Joey, hurt her by marking her skin, and there’s a doctor there who provides free treatment to such patients. [Read more…]

Review: Beautiful Potential by J Saman

Reviewed by Joanna

Alert! Wounded hero who can’t be with the heroine but can’t keep away Klaxon! Sigh. This is my absolute favorite trope, and Dr Finn Banner is just sumptuous in the alphahole role where I wanted to simultaneously throttle and hug him. But as I also want to be best buddies with the heroine, I imagine she might not be so keen on that. Hmm.

Anyway, let’s start at the beginning. Gia Bianchi has just graduated as a midwife, having already qualified as a nurse. Her parents don’t show for her graduation ceremony, and when she calls them she finds her father is in hospital having had a heart attack.

He doesn’t make it, and Gia is given the facts—and a bit of comfort—by a handsome doctor, who tells her how his own father died. They share a little moment of bonding, then go their separate ways. [Read more…]

Review: The Ones Who Got Away by Roni Loren

Reviewed by Joanna

This tale deals with the second chance romance of Liv and Finn—survivors of a high school massacre where two other kids took their deadly teenage angst out on their fellow pupils.

While the tragedy of that event frames this story, it isn’t the core focus, as the story picks up several years down the line when our protagonists reunite for a documentary being made on their experience.

Liv runs into Finn—her secret ex-boyfriend—at the filming, and the trauma of it all triggers her panic attacks and she flees. Later, in the bar with friends she’s drifted apart from, the women open a time capsule they buried after the shooting, and Liv reads the words teen-her wrote to herself. The full life she expected with passion and adventure is far from her overworked existence, and she realizes all she’s missing. Then she sees Finn again, and the two come together. [Read more…]

Review: Neanderthal Marries Human by Penny Reid

Reviewed by Joanna

This is the wedding book that goes after the romance-getting of book one. It is not a standalone, so can’t be read as a complete story in its own right by any stretch of the imagination. Rather, it slots somewhat awkwardly between the first—Janie’s story of meeting Quinn—and the second, which charts the romance of one of her friends. But it spoils part of book two, so I don’t think it should be read in number order.

Do you like these point-five kind of stories? Infill bits that don’t make sense on their own but give extra scenes and carry on the love? For the right couple I love them, but this tale was fifty fifty. [Read more…]

Joanna’s Favorites of 2017

With so many great and excellent reads published this year, I had a hard job settling on a short list. Some of my favourite authors have been knocking it out of the park with their releases, and I’ve made brand new finds who I’ll one-click forever.

How about you? Found a book that’s given you joy? Let me know.

Burn For You by J.T. Geissinger

Chef Bianca Hardwick goes head to head with rude, gorgeous and damaged Jackson “The Beast” Boudreaux in this tale set in the Deep South. It’s all accents, sumptuous recipes and fiery tempers, with a dollop of an arranged marriage. And I adored it. [Read more…]

Review: If the Fates Allow (An LGBTQ Romance Anthology)

Reviewed by Joanna

This anthology features Christmas shorts from a number of LGBTQ+ authors. All festive, romantic and in most cases super sweet.

Gracious Living Magazine Says It Must Be a Real Tree by Killian B. Brewer

Marcus works in a small-town diner. He loves his job, his boyfriend Hank, who’s the local mechanic, and he adores his deceased grandmother’s interfering friends. As Marcus never knew a traditional Christmas, he’s determined to make this year perfect. Suspecting Hank is going to propose, Marcus freaks out, and his grandmother’s friends only make it worse by giving him too much advice on exactly how to perfect his proposal scenario. [Read more…]

Review: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Reviewed by Joanna

I don’t usually bring YA to this site, for the reasons our name suggests, but this is just so adorable and lovely I want you all to read it then go see the film with me next March, m’kay?

Simon is a sixteen-year-old high school student, who is gay and hasn’t told anyone, and he recently started chatting via email with an unknown boy at his school in similar circumstances. Blue, the mystery boy, intrigues him, and they quickly fall into a screen-based friendship.

He talked about the ocean between people. And how the whole point of everything is to find a shore worth swimming to. I mean, I just had to know him. [Read more…]

Review: Man Hands by Sarina Bowen and Tanya Eby

Reviewed by Joanna

As a long-term Sarina Bowen fan, I look forward to the author collaborations she does, and this story, co-written with Tanya Eby, featuring a sex tape, a TV Mr Fixit and a larger lady, is another winner. It’s heavy on the comedy to make you giggle-snort, alongside a sexy angst free romance that I’ve come to expect from this author. I needed the light relief this week, and it delivered.

Brynn is an unhappy divorcee. She’s glad to have left her passionless ex behind, but she lost her job in the process and feels like a failure. What better to do than go to a fancy party with your friends, and run and jump (literally) on the first handsome guy you see?

Tom is on a lady-hiatus after an unpleasant ending to his last relationship. He’s a big, tall, TV celebrity, with nine seasons of a house renovation show under his (tool) belt, and he’s very good with his sizeable hands. Helpful for when a woman flies through the air at him, and super useful for helping her take off her wrap dress when a kiss leads to explosive passion and a quickie in the boat house. [Read more…]

DNF Review: Christmas at Hope Cottage by Lily Graham

Reviewed by Joanna

Ah, my first Christmas read of the season. Do you like to get in the spirit with seasonal books? I do, though I’m not exactly feeling extra festive, having read this… how to categorize. Not romance, not quite. Women’s fiction, maybe?

Emma is a writer in London, producing a food blog and working a number of writing jobs to make ends meet. On the day she gets dumped by her bland, beige boyfriend, she also gets hit by a postal truck. To add insult to injury? The postie was delivering her family’s ancient recipe/spell book, sent by her grandmother who wants to tempt her back into the fold.

With broken bones and other injuries, there’s only one place for Emma, and the book, to go – back to Hope Cottage, her family’s Yorkshire Moors home in the village of Whistling.

Now, Emma is in a rough way. She’s also a little brain damaged by the accident, causing her to lose her sense of taste, smell and giving her weird vision and touch. It takes a fair amount of time in the bosom of Grannie’s home to aid her recovery. [Read more…]

Review: Start With Me by J. Saman

Reviewed by Joanna

I have a confession. I was given this book aaaages ago, and managed to somehow misplace it, even though I like this author a lot and really enjoyed the first in this series of standalones. And I’m sorry it took me so long to read, as this is a tension-filled sexy romance.

Claire is an overqualified PA, and has been working for the same tech firm since college. Ryan is her boss (book one hero) and his younger brother Kyle is her super-duper dose of eye candy and text buddy. They only met once—at Ryan’s wedding—but their chemistry was off the chart. Shame Claire friend-zoned Kyle from the off. She doesn’t have boyfriends and even if she did, he’d be a bad choice. She considers her boss and his wife Kate as family, and doesn’t want to mess it up by screwing around with his brother. [Read more…]