Tag Archives: contemporary romance book reviews

Review ~ Faking It by Diane Alberts


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Derek Rory never meant to propose to his best friend’s little sister. But when her boss tells a family-oriented investor he’s Stephanie’s fiancé, Derek can either play along or let her get fired. He’s hardly one to turn away from a damsel in distress. If only that damsel wasn’t adorable and sexy with a laugh that could melt any cold business mogul’s heart.

When a business proposal becomes a marriage proposal, Stephanie Miller tries to keep it strictly boardroom. But when things get hot under the table, it’s all they can do to stay apart. As the tangle of lies drags them deeper into the underhanded world of business politics, Stephanie finds herself in over her head—not just with her job, but with her “fiancé.” His eyes are cold, but his kisses light her on fire. If she’s not careful, she’ll end up faking her way into a real romance.

First of all, who doesn’t love a fake relationship romance? Because I do. Stephanie, the heroine of Faking It, is one of those heroines you just have to love. She’s vibrant and bubbly…and clumsy as hell. As a fellow klutz, I had a good time reading about her mishaps. She wasn’t exactly a bumbling idiot, just clumsy enough to make a tiny mess of things, which actually turned into the best thing that had happened to her in a long time.

The simple act of listening to the weatherman had her caught out in the rain without an umbrella, and that’s how she first meets Derek. The friend her brother wanted to introduce her to, anyway. Derek was hot and successful…and terribly emotionally stunted. But not in that annoying way that most men have of being emotionally stunted, no Derek’s father had done a real number on him and it is what causes much of the drama in Faking It.

Throw in a smarmy boss and possible spy for a brother, and you have a fast and fun romance that’ll have you smiling the entire time.

This was a classic opposites attract and watching how being together made both Stephanie and Derek better people was a joy and something you rarely get to see in modern romance. Sometimes Stephanie was stubborn as hell, too proud to accept help but you always understood her rationale, even if you wanted to beat her over the head with it.


Review ~ Redeeming Lottie by Melissa Ellen

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Things I never planned on happening in my life: Getting married, being a mother to a house full of kids, and returning to my small hometown in Texas.

I especially never planned on seeing Tucker Monroe again.
Sexy smile. Country charm. A man and a life I left behind for a reason.

The only plan I had for myself was my career.

My career as a buyer for one of the largest high end department stores was the only commitment I had time for. The only one I was willing to make.

Now, being left with no choice but to return to my hometown, I’m finding it hard to remember why I left in the first place. Because all that’s on my mind is Tucker. He is just as sexy. Just as charming. Just as dangerous as he used to be…

When you’re a woman like Lottie, you know what you want in life, an more importantly, what you don’t want. For her she didn’t want marriage and kids and definitely not a life in her small Texas hometown. She has a fabulous life in the big city and a great job, but life laughs when you make plans and following Lottie on her journey was both hilarious and sobering.

What I enjoyed about Redeeming Lottie was that she’s like most women of a certain age, certain in what she wants her life to look like. But somewhere along the way that changes for her, and she can’t seem to figure out why. This to me was the most compelling part of the story, watching her figure it all out. Sometimes, we think we have to stick to our set course instead of taking a step back to see if it’s still the right course for us and this was a message the reader gets loud and clear in Melissa Ellen’s story.

I’ll admit that I’m not a fan of most first person stories and it took me some time to get beyond the whole ‘jet setting, super fabulous’ life Lottie created for herself. It was clear from the beginning this was a surface happiness and I was eager to find out more. The writing itself was solid but not great, however Redeeming Lottie is all about the story and the message.

Tucker was…amazingly everything and his little niece just the most adorable girl. Watching this story unfold was a joy, and the story had a surprising depth that kept me reading to the end.

LIVE ~ Baby It’s Cold Outside by Kait Nolan

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A runaway author

Ivy Blake is on a deadline. Actually, she’s past the deadline and desperate to find some peace, quiet, and inspiration to get her book back on track. She doesn’t plan on a Tennessee blizzard or the bear that causes her to crash.

A grumpy lumberjack

Harrison Wilkes isn’t actually a lumberjack, but he’s doing his best impression during this week away from real life. He needs to rest, recharge, and stay the hell away from people, while he makes some major life decisions. He doesn’t plan to be executing a snowbound rescue.

Is it getting hot in here?

When Winter Stormageddon traps Ivy and Harrison together, suddenly his one-man cabin feels more cramped than cozy. As more than the fireplace heats things up, Harrison’s starting to think the interruption to his solitude might be worth it. Will the grumpy lumberjack prove to be inspiration or distraction?

Ivy and Harrison were a fun couple to get to know in Baby It’s Cold Outside, despite my initial hesitance about reading a novella. Usually I find them too short to be satisfying but, as usual, Kait Nolan has done a great job of pulling out all the right details for a full and satisfying story.

As a writer myself, I fully understand Ivy’s need to just get away and focus on taking care of herself and writing. But best laid plans and all that, and she ends up in a compromising position (not that kind!) that lands her in the arms of super hot and very grumpy Harrison. He’s a man of few words, plenty of grunts, and some pretty intense inner thoughts.

It was nice to see some of the people from the Misfit Inn series, especially Ari who seems to have grown up even more and all I have to say, is poor Pru! And (hint, hint) I’m hoping this is going to kickstart another series with those sexy ex-servicemen?!?!

Okay, back to the story. Baby It’s Cold Outside was hot and sweet, fun, funny and yes, even sad at times. I felt it all and if not for the fact it was so short, I definitely would have stayed up all night trying to finish it!

Another great romance from Kait Nolan!

LIVE ~ His Best Mistake by Lucy King

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Is it too much to ask for a relationship that works?

When Stella Grant realises her perfect romance is a lie and that she’s the other woman, she flees to her remote cottage in the Highlands to lick her wounds.

Billionaire currency trader Jack Maclean has nothing but contempt for the woman who stole not only his sister’s fiancé but quite possibly a family heirloom to boot. Nonetheless, he wants answers and he intends to get them. A quick trip north should do the trick. Never in a million years could he have predicted a kamikaze sheep and inclement weather would leave him stranded.

Jack might be gorgeous but Stella isn’t in the market for a man, especially one who hates her. No matter how attractive he finds her Stella is the very last person Jack should want. The trouble is, they’re all alone and the chemistry is irresistible, and, well, what happens in Scotland stays in Scotland, right?

His Best Mistake is the story of Stella, a courtroom artist and Jack, a currency trader. Stella is nursing a broken heart and has taken to her cottage in the Highlands to get over a broken heart and learning that she’d played the role of the Other Woman. She was painting away her pain when a strange vehicle drove by her property and ended up in an accident. The driver was gorgeous and gruff, and it turns out, the brother of her former flame’s fiancée. He showed up to read her the riot act, and Lucy King did a good job of making him a first glass jerk from the beginning. Too bad for Stella, he didn’t stay a jerk.

After waking up to an empty bed after a night of spectacular loving, Stella feels both disappointed and relieved. At least until a few weeks later when she gets the shock of her life. Lucy King made this story enjoyable by switching up the roles a bit. Though Stella did have self-esteem issues, she was the strong one in this story. The one who tried to make herself better and do better while Jack was stuck in a rut of mourning and misery. His Best Mistake should have been a depressing read and at times it was mighty frustrating, but overall this was a fascinating story about getting what you want when you least expect it.

There were plenty of times I just wanted Stella to throw her arms up and kick Jack to the curb, because he really was pretty bad for most of the story. He mourned, and felt guilty in those rare moments that he actually gave a damn about the woman in his life today, and after a while I just found it hard to have any sympathy for him. At first I was worried that Stella would be a doormat because of how easily she gave in to some of his demands—even though she had a valid reason for doing so—but it turned out that she was determined to feel more confident, to be better and do better. That’s an admirable trait in any woman but especially for a mom to be.

If I could fix anything other than Jack in His Best Mistake, it would be the cover. Not to get all nit-picky but it gives away the plot which takes that surprise away pretty quickly and there wasn’t much drama otherwise.

A Little Bit In Love by N.D. Jackson ~ Just 99 cents!

After losing her birth parents and her adopted parents Alexis Mabry is used to being alone. So after a year of bad dates with everyone from sugar babies to cross dressers, she decides to stop dating altogether and focus on what matters most: her business and her friends in Mustang Prairie.

When she meets a handsome stranger on vacation she starts to wonder if maybe its time to get back in the game.

Baxter Thompsen spent the last decade building his empire to the exclusion of everything but sex. Now tired of the socialites and starlets, he wants someone real. When he finds her, Alex only wants a vacation fling and it’s up to Baxter to show her that lust is great, but love is everything.

Is it lust, is it like or are Baxter and Alex just a little bit in love?

Review ~ Any Way You Want It by Monique McDonell

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Sometimes the big-hearted guy who comes bearing over the top gifts is the perfect fake fiancé.
Chloe has spent her whole adult life running, with no one to lean on, so she’s more than a little wary of Moose. After all, why would he be interested in her? When her shady ex-boyfriend shows up in her ice-cream parlour Chloe panics and tells him that she and Moose are engaged. So now she has a crazy ex stalking her and a hot not-fiancé moving in and she’s not quite sure how to deal with either of them.
Moose has been looking for an opportunity to show Chloe that opposites attract for a reason. Living in her house and spending every day with her couldn’t be more perfect as far as he’s concerned.

Will Chloe let her guard down and let Moose in or will she do what she always does and run?

If you like hot coffee, snow days, a little bit of Elvis and fun, romantic comedies Any Way You Want It is for you.

Although part of the Upper Crust Series You can read Any Way You Want it as a stand-alone novel.
Upper Crust Series

Book 1 – Any Way You Slice It
Book 2 – Any Way You Dream It
Book 3 – Any Way You Fight It
Book 4 – Any Way You Plan It
Book 5 – Any Way You Want It
Book 6 – Any Way You Build It
Book 7 – Any Way You Spin It

I was really excited to read this because I mean, who could resist a big mountain of a man called Moose? I was in right from the get go, but Chloe made Any Way You Want It a really difficult read.

Chloe has lead a very sheltered life inside a religious cult in Texas, but when the time came to marry some old fart, she left it all behind. Unfortunately she fell prey to the same predators that too sheltered children often do and his name was Viper. I applauded her for getting away, for having the strength to leave behind not one, but two toxic situations.

…then I got to know her.

I wanted to like Chloe, I really did but she just made it so damn difficult. Self-doubt is expected and hell, it even enhances the story. BUT there comes a point where you just can’t put up with it any longer and I’m sad to say that point came very early on. If not for Moose, Marissa and the whole community, I might have stopped before I got to the end. But Moose was the Pacey of book boyfriends, kind and sweet, patient and understanding, and hot as hell with a penchant for going shirtless! Yeah, he was all kinds of perfect with a mile-wide protective streak that just about had me swooning as I read.

I know it sounds like I didn’t like this book, but the truth is that Any Way You Want It was an enjoyable read filled with small town goodness. Monique McDonell has written a fun romance that’s easy to read and endearing in its sweetness. I will point out that at times the language became British English which was unexpected but took nothing away from the story.

Review ~ Fake Wife by Stacey Lynn

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This marriage is strictly business . . . until the temptation gets way too real.

Corbin: I loved my grandma, but I don’t need her money. All I care about is keeping the house—the only place that’s ever felt like home. That, and screwing over my dad, who wants to turn the property into a mall. There’s only one catch: To receive my inheritance, I have to get married within six months. Me, the guy who’s never dated a girl for more than six minutes. Now I need to find a woman I can trust. So when I’m rear-ended by a Prius, I figure it’s a sign that I’m supposed to meet gorgeous, down-to-earth Teagan Monroe.

Teagan: First I lose my job. Then I come home and find out—in the most graphic way possible . . . yeah, that way—that my boyfriend is a cheating jerk. And then I speed off and nearly kill Portland’s sexiest bachelor. Corbin Lane should be pissed. Instead, he offers me more money than I’ve ever seen in my life to marry him and live together in a mansion for two years. No sex. No feelings. Just cash—enough to make all my dreams come true. Then we go and break all our rules . . . and I realize I’m falling in love with my fake fiancé.

I have to say that marriage of convenience is one of my favorite tropes. I don’t care that it’s predictable because what I love most is how the hero and heroine try to fight a losing battles because it is a blast to watch!

Corbin and Teagan have both had their run of bad crap lately. The only family member who mattered to him died and put a huge caveat on his inheritance, which at first had me thinking, “oh, poor little rich boy.” But the more I learned about Corbin—and the sperm donor he called ‘dad’—the more I understood his reason for going through with the charade. And Teagan, well she just had one of those bad days that usually ended with all of your closest girlfriends and copious amounts of junk food and booze. Since she has no girlfriends, she gets to add more crap to her life…in the form of an auto accident.

Don’t get me wrong, Stacey Lynn didn’t reinvent the genre by any means, but Fake Wife was a fun read that kept me smiling (nearly) the whole way. I really enjoyed the insta-love where I normally loathe it, because neither Corbin nor Teagan acted on it. In fact, they fought it so hard that at times I wanted to clunk their heads together.

Fake Wife was honestly just a damn good time. There was the greedy villainous relative who wanted to take the inheritance and make even more money on it—but I’ll say it again Stacey Lynn changed it up by giving us even more reasons to hate the villain. There was the expected miscommunication, but it was resolved quick enough that it didn’t ruin the ending.

In general, I’ve been hit or miss with this author since her Fireside series ended, but Fake Wife has given me a very convenient case of reader’s amnesia because I truly enjoyed it.

Review ~ Falling for her Best Friend’s Brother by Noelle Adams

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After too many bad decisions in romance, Emma is going on a man-fast. For the next six months, she’s fasting from men. No sex. No dating. No soulful gazes. No fond memories of her first crush. She’s going to spend the time focusing on her career, getting in touch with herself, and helping her two best friends with the launch of their new tea room. No men.

And that includes her brother’s best friend, Noah Hart, who has just returned to their hometown.

She doesn’t want Noah anyway. He might be even hotter than he was before, but he’s not a nice guy anymore. He’s made a fortune by acting ruthless in business, and the last thing he’s looking for is small-town domestic life. He doesn’t even want to be in town again, but a sick grandmother guilted him into it. Then he has nerve to not even recognize Emma when he sees her again. Maybe it’s been seven years, but a decent guy would remember his best friend’s little sister.

Noah is not a decent guy. Anyway, Emma is on a man-fast. And she doesn’t want Noah.

At all.

Fifteen years ago, three girls were thrown together because their brothers were best friends. Now they’re all grown up, and their brothers are grown up too. The Tea for Two series tells their stories.

As soon as I heard the words ‘man fast’ I knew Falling for her Best Friend’s Brother was going to be good! It’s basically tempting the universe to throw the perfect man right at your feet and dare you to ignore him. In Emma’s case, that man was her best friend, Ginny’s, brother Noah. Crushing on your best friend’s brother as a kid is one thing, it can be brushed off as just that, a crush.

But when Noah walks into the tea shop owned by her two best friends, one of which is his kid sister, Emma knows her man fast is in trouble. My favorite thing about this story was Emma. She tried, really, really tried to keep to her man fast because, let’s face it, falling for jerks sucks. Big time. But Noah was hard to resist.

And Noah, hot, vulnerable, cool and complicated, Noah. I had some issues with Noah which were thankfully resolved by the end of the story, but damn, he made it hard. I do love a hero that can be redeemed by the end but there were times I really wanted to just grab his sexy ass and shake some sense into him. We all have issues but he refused to deal with his in any real way, which resulted in some pretty deep feelings of alienation. It was hard to have sympathy for a grown man who always runs at the first sight of trouble, but I loved him anyway.

And let’s not forget the steam. Falling for her Best Friend’s Brother is packed with some hot sexy times that you won’t soon forget. This is kind of a departure for Noelle Adams but this reader is NOT complaining.

The story was fleshed out well, introducing us to the other brothers and best friends for the rest of the Tea for Two series, plus their wise old bible-quoting Nan. I’m committed to this series and if you’re interested this book was #FREE at time of posting!

Review ~ Cowboy SEAL Homecoming by Nicole Helm

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Three former Navy SEALs
Injured in the line of duty
Desperate for a new beginning…
Searching for a place to call their own.

Alex Maguire never thought he’d go home again. The perfect soldier, the perfect leader, he’s spent his whole life running away from Blue Valley, Montana—but when a tragic accident bounces him and two of his men out of the SEALs, there’s nowhere left to turn but the ranch he used to call his own…and the confusing, innocently beguiling woman who now lives there.

Becca Denton’s like nothing he could have imagined. She’s far too tempting for her own good, but when she offers to help turn the ranch into a haven for injured veterans, he can’t exactly say no. He’ll just need to keep his distance. But something in her big green eyes makes Alex want to set aside the mantle of the perfect soldier and discover the man he could have been…safe and whole within the shelter of her arms.

Nicole Helm’s story of an inexperienced woman at the troubled SEAL who steals her heart was incredible. Becca was a great character, I would say the perfect romance heroine because she is bright-eyed and naïve but she’s perfectly aware of it and unafraid to start going after what she wants. And what Becca wants is Alex.

Alex spent his adult life as a Navy SEAL and now that his life of service has ended, he’s at loose ends and suffering from PTSD. He insists he’s fine but Becca is tenacious and quickly falling for him, which means she wants her man whole. This is the part of the story I really enjoyed, watching Becca realize just how strong she was, which allowed us to see that Alex was the one truly suffering and in need of help.

Jack and Gabe perfectly rounded out Cowboy SEAL Homecoming, adding both comic relief, back story and a glimpse of the strong bond forged against the backdrop of war. I loved the guys and the way they razzed each other, and quickly opened their arms and hearts to Becca.

Nicole helm penned a perfect small town romance with a hero and heroine that make it easy to root for their happy ending.

New Release & Review ~ Crash Into Us by Shana Vanterpool

Title: Crash Into Us
Author: Shana Vanterpool
Genre: Contemporary/2nd Chance Romance
Release Date: December 18, 2017
They met when they were kids.
They were friends, lovers, and then husband and wife.
They were supposed to be together forever.
He was her Superman.
She was his happiness.

And then he went pro.
And she doubted something that was supposed to be forever.
Mistakes were made in exchange for dreams, and hearts were shattered.
Their forever crumbled right before their eyes.

He went on to play for the Washington Warriors. He ate, breathed, and slept professional hockey. All he had left after her was the ice. He was in magazines, he won a Stanley Cup, and he had a crowd of people screaming his name. He had everything. Didn’t he?

It’s hard to move on from an addiction, and she was addicted. Drunk on love too early on, she never truly moved on from her first love. She faded in and out of life, trying to ignore her need. But bad habits have a way of coming back when you least expect them too.

For years they went separate ways, until her Superman falls from the sky.

He was on a helicopter after a big win when the engine cut out. He knows he’s not making it out alive. Even with the screams of his teammates shouting in the background as they crash toward earth, all he can think of is her. He’ll never get to see her again…

Love is unforgiving dragging her back to heartache. She only wants to help him get better from the accident and move on with her life. She never planned on falling back in love with him. She never planned on falling so hard a second time.

Lovesick and broken, they crash right back into each other.

I finished this book pretty quickly and now…I don’t know where to begin.

So, I’ll start where I always do with books written in first person. My preference. Yes, we all know that they aren’t my favorite books to read which probably says more about me as a reader and a person than about the author. But I received an email asking if I wanted to review Crash Into Us and after reading the synopsis I was ALL IN.

…then I received the ARC. First person.

Still, I pushed on and, crap on a cracker, I really liked it. A lot.

I liked Jasmeen almost as much as I had problems with her, but she was stronger than she thought and that’s a characteristic I always enjoy reading. My first impression of her was that she was very sad woman who needed to go out and figure out what fueled her. Oh, and that her mom was a big ol’ ass. But slowly I came to see her strength in her actions, because most people wouldn’t have done what she did to help Gavin.

Who, in my opinion absolutely did not deserve it. Or so I thought.

And this is where my only real problem with the Crash Into Us came into play. The whole reason for their divorce became so murky and muddled after a while that I honestly just stopped caring. I mean, if she’s going to forgive him then the details don’t really matter, right? At least that was my perspective until this part of the story was actually resolved.

I also didn’t love the flashbacks because I don’t think they added to the story. It gave depth, but who they were at ten years old wasn’t all the relevant in the face of accusations of infidelity.

As I neared the 45% mark I had been contemplating calling it quits, and not because Shana Vanterpool is a bad author, she’s not, but because I felt that Jasmeen gave in too easily. Gavin needed to work harder to earn her love back, but he didn’t have to so…

I gave this story 4.5 cocktails because it was good. Really good. The love between Jasmeen and Gavin was intense, for most of us that would be scary as hell, overwhelming, but it was right for them. Crash Into Us was packed with emotion and angst, so if those aren’t your jam you’re not going to like this story, but damn the emotion was so good. It was like crying over Dawson’s Creek or Party of Five or even the early seasons of Grey’s Anatomy, that kind of angst.

It fed my 90’s grunge girl at heart need for good, solid angst. This wasn’t drama for the sake of drama, this was grown folk’s problems drama and damn, I read it in 2 days when I should have been finishing final edits on my own book.

I’ve never read Shana Vanterpool but this book gave me the FEELZ.

Romance author, coffee drinker, and bad boy aficionado. Every second not spent breathing is an opportunity to write and read. I live in Northern California with my family and actress dog, Halle Bella. (Just Bella when she decides to cut the crap.) Escaping with a good book is something I live for and I write so others can do the same.