Review: Pipe Dreams by Sarina Bowen

Reviewed by Joanna

In this series of more mature hockey romances, Sarina Bowen shows us how love isn’t always enough. Sometimes it doesn’t save the day, and more building blocks are needed to fix some relationships. Trust, honesty and commitment are as big issues. These are grown up thoughts happening right here in this second chance romance.

Lauren, office manager and support staff for the Brooklyn Bruisers, has been in love with Mike Beacon, goalie, for years. They were a loving couple until he broke up with her out of the blue, returning to the wife he’d been separated from, who was sick. Lauren didn’t know his reasons as he rather cruelly left her in the lurch.
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Review: Goodbye Paradise by Sarina Bowen

Reviewed by Joanna

This is a rerelease, as Sarina Bowen originally published this story under a different author name. I’d never heard of it so jumped right on the ARC when the email came through.

It’s the tale of Joshua and Caleb, two young men raised in a remote cult in Wyoming. The sort of place where the elders, the men who run the place and have all the power, take lots of wives, picking the prettiest teenagers as they become grown. And the kind of place where young men are of no use if they can’t keep up with the harsh field work. Which Joshua can’t. [Read more…]

Review: Good Boy by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy

Reviewed by Joanna

Jessie is organizing her brother Jamie’s wedding to hockey super-star Wes. She’s stressed, more so as she’s trying to impress her family in the face of being a screw-up with frequently shifting careers. She certainly doesn’t need the unhelpful advice of Wes’s best man, Blake.

Blake’s also a hockey player, dark haired, green eyed and with a mean case of hyperactive puppy syndrome. Seriously – he’s all over the place though it’s actually pretty charming and he is universally loved. [Read more…]

Review: Hard Hitter by Sarina Bowen

Reviewed by Joanna

O’Doul is the captain and enforcer of his ice hockey team, the Brooklyn Bruisers, which means he gets paid $2 million a year to brawl on the ice. He’s 32, so nearing the end of his career, and has a few recurring aches and pains that need treating. This is somewhat of a problem as O’Doul doesn’t like to be touched.

After a shaky start, he finds he can make an exception for Ari. Ariana is the club’s massage therapist and yoga leader. She’s zen and chill and super professional, but the captain with the cut eight pack gets her hot under the collar. [Read more…]

Review: Us by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy

Reviewed by Joanna

The sequel to Him sees Jamie and Wes several months into their relationship. Their secret relationship, I should say, as Wes’s rookie NFL career is underway, and he doesn’t want it overshadowed by him being outed as the first openly gay ice hockey player in the league.

Jamie has given up his own playing career and taken up a coaching post, teaching elite kids how to be goalies. It’s his calling and he loves it, but it doesn’t go easily. He’s also having to navigate the new world where he’s suddenly bisexual and in a gay relationship. Whereas his family and friends are happy and supportive, it’s a lot for him to deal with, and he hates not being able to be with Wes publicly. Plus he’s in a new city and the isolation adds to his woes. [Read more…]

Review: Him by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy

Reviewed by Joanna

I read this New Adult sports romance series out of order, picking up the first book of the spinoff series Wags before coming to the start. Silly me, as book one and two couple are sweet as sugar.

Wes and Jamie were camp buddies as kids, seeing each other once a year for six weeks at a time at ice hockey summer camp. Wes knew he was gay, but struggled with it, including receiving rejection from his parents. He also knew he was attracted to his best friend – the guy he loved on a number of different levels. One day when they were eighteen, something happened between them, a bet gone wrong. It gave Wes a terrible case of the guilts. He broke off their friendship and stopped attending the camp. [Read more…]

Joanna’s Favorites of 2016

I joined the team of Red Hot Ladies in January and challenged myself to expand my reading choices past my usual go-tos. I’ve had my eyebrows raised and I’ve found writers I will love forever, from long-established authors to newbies who’ve contacted us at the blog and offered their work.

Throughout the year I’ve been editing my own novel, which is my new favorite and never ending pastime. Seriously – help, I can’t stop. Much respect for my co-reviewers, who published, drafted and dreamed big their own books this year – you guys rule and your work is sublime. On with my other favorite reads from the past twelve months:


Magic Binds (Kate Daniel #9) by Ilona Andrews

I’m pretty sure this novel will be on Jen’s list too. I love this series and rate this book as one of their best. The development of the relationship between Kate and Roland, her doting/murderous father, is fascinating. Curran made me laugh out loud, as did the side characters just being their excellent selves. The story is fast paced, compelling and tense, with little let up, and the world of post-shift Atlanta is just as awesome as it ever was. [Read more…]

Review: Keepsake by Sarina Bowen

keepsakeReviewed by Joanna

Need your romance sexy yet gentle and angst-free? Like the sound of a warm and welcoming family of handsome adults on an apple farm in Vermont? How about the little matter of a darling virgin hero? Look no further, with the feel-good factor pumped up to high, Keepsake is the hug of a novel for you.

Zachariah is our guy. This farm hand caught my eye in the previous two books (this is great as standalone), working hard, keeping his head down and flushing red whenever anyone mentioned sex. See, he was born into a polygamist cult where kids weren’t allowed to do pretty much anything, and though he’s been free for a few years, he’s still never got into the whole idea that touching people is okay. He knows little pop culture, doesn’t own a phone and has certainly never had a girlfriend. (Plus, of course, boy’s got abs that won’t quit.) [Read more…]

Review: Rookie Move by Sarina Bowen

rookie moveReviewed by Joanna

This was a book I was excited for, so when it came in I did a little jig of joy. And as I started reading, I knew I’d be a happy girl.

Rookie Move is the first in Sarina Bowen’s new Brooklyn Bruisers series, which picks up some of the characters from the Ivy Years series plus adds a whole bunch of new ones. If you haven’t read any of IY, you don’t have to, these are all standalone (though you should cos they’re great). This is still centered on ice hockey, but we’ve moved away from the college set so it’s not NA any more. The work is more mature, and I found it fresher. [Read more…]

Review: Steadfast by Sarina Bowen

steadfastReviewed by Joanna

This second in the True North series takes a turn from the food, health n’ sunshine meets organic farm of book one, and puts us into the gritty and grim world of Jude after his six month stay with the Shipleys had ended. Winter is here and there’s no work on the farm ’til next year. Jude has to go home, where drug dealers lurk everywhere and denying what his body is screaming for is an ongoing and daily battle.

See Jude is a drug addict. Painkillers after he broke a limb as a teenager, heroin in prison. (Cheaper, apparently. Yikes.) He had a wonderful relationship with high school girlfriend, Sophie, daughter of the local police chief, but all went to hell when one night the car he was in left the road and the other person in it died. Sophie’s brother. The police chief’s son. The chief already hated him, but they really throw the book at him and he spends 3 years in the clink. [Read more…]