Sunday, September 23, 2018

Review: The Vixen by Christi Caldwell

Title: The Vixen
Author: Christi Caldwell
Genre/Age: Historical Romance/Adult
Series: Wicked Wallflowers (Book Two)
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Format: ebook via NetGalley
Rating: ✺✺✺
LinksGoodreads
SynopsisUSA Today bestselling author Christi Caldwell pits a fiercely independent beauty against a devilish investigator.

Set apart by her ethereal beauty and fearless demeanor, Ophelia Killoran has always been a mystery to those around her—and a woman they underestimated. No one would guess that she spends her nights protecting the street urchins of St. Giles. Ophelia knows what horrors these children face. As a young girl, she faced those horrors herself, and she would have died…if not for the orphan boy who saved her life.

A notorious investigator, Connor Steele never expected to encounter Ophelia Killoran on his latest case. It has been years since he sacrificed himself for her. Now, she hires orphans from the street to work in her brother's gaming hell. But where does she find the children…and what are her intentions?

Ophelia and Connor are at odds. After all, Connor now serves the nobility, and that is a class of people Ophelia knows firsthand not to trust. But if they can set aside their misgivings and work together, they may discover that their purposes—and their hearts—are perfectly aligned.


**Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book.**

When everyone you know may be your enemy...

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Ophelia hates the snobby elite society. And she has every reason to, after her dealings with the arrogant men who took advantage of her in the past. Yet, she has found herself thrust into their world as her brother expects her to make a match with a wealthy and influential gentleman. However, Ophelia finds herself drawn to someone considered much worse... and investigator.

Connor may have been adopted by a titled man, but he was once a boy in the streets. So it's easier for him to connect with Ophelia and their shared history. Unfortunately, no one else in their lives is happy about their budding relationship. And people on both sides are willing to do terrible things to keep the couple apart. Their path to happiness is riddled with secrets, lies, and possibly the hangman's noose.

I have to say, I was lukewarm toward Connor for the first half of the book. He wasn't standing out very much to me and I'm not entirely sure why. He seems like a nice guy, passionate about his intentions to help the unfortunate. And he had good chemistry with our heroine. But he was still sort of 'meh' until the last quarter of the book. This was looking to be more of a 4-star book for a while.

But when the big twist happens and our hero is forced to stand up to his father and the other lords, I was pleasantly surprised to see this mild-tempered gentleman lose his cool and turn into a total bada$$. I literally cheered aloud, and my opinion of Connor skyrocketed. He earned that last star from me.

Our heroine was similar to Cleo from the first book of this series, in that she hated the circumstances she found herself in. I think that I preferred Cleo's story in some ways and Ophelia's in others. Both women were feisty and outspoken. Ophelia's history was much more painful and sometimes that was hard to read, but that made it easier to sympathize with her. The last part of the book was suspenseful and emotional. I finished the story with a smile, which is always good.

In closing...
With the way this book ended, I'm not sure if the third sister will get a chance to make a match. But I'm curious to see where the series goes from here. Five suns!

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Review: Friends with Benefits by Hazel Kelly

Title: Friends with Benefits
Author: Hazel Kelly
Genre/Age: Contemporary Romance/NA
Series: Beta Brothers (Book Two)
Publisher: Self-published
Format: ebook via Author
Rating: ✺✺✺
LinksGoodreads
SynopsisWe were only supposed to be friends with benefits. 

We even made rules. 

So things wouldn't get complicated. 

So no one would get hurt. 

But somewhere along the way, feelings got involved... 

I should've known better, but he got me. Had me. 

Besides, I always was lousy at relationships. 

I just never cared before. 

Not until him, anyway. 

Not until Carter. 

**This is a full-length, standalone romance novel with no cliffhanger, no cheating, and a satisfying HEA. 

**Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book.**

I love a book that leaves me smiling!

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Nina doesn't do relationships anymore. Not since the last three guys she dated all cheated on her and left her with a broken heart. But now she's lonely and hoping to find a 'friends with benefits' situation to warm the cold nights and leave her heart whole. Unfortunately, she may have chosen the only guy on campus who doesn't want to settle for just sex. Carter may have thought their one time fling would be enough, but he soon realizes he can't just be friends with Nina. And he really wants the benefits. But permanently.

This is the second book of a new series and it's vastly different from the first. In the previous book, we met Logan and Zoey, whose relationship was mostly a forbidden one. There was a lot of angst there and the romance was slow to burn. Here, it's almost the complete opposite tone of story. The sexy time starts early and the fire burns heavy throughout the entire book. I can't say which I prefer because both methods of storytelling appeal to me.

As for the characters, I may have enjoyed this couple a bit more, simply because of their humor. I don't mind a book with more intense emotion, such as book #1 in the series. However, this one had a tad lighter feel to it. The interesting thing to me was that the 'rules' of the relationship were given by the heroine and not the hero. It was the girl who shied away from a serious relationship in this book, which I have to say is pretty rare to find. It's usually the other way around, so that was a nice change of pace.

And we do get to see the prior couple in this book too. So if you're curious as to how Logan and Zoey are faring, they are shown several times in the story. The conflict was understandable, even though I did want to strangle the hero when it happened. I know why he did what he did, but I still wanted to choke him out. The problem Carter has with his overbearing father isn't really explored much in the book, which I sort of wanted to see resolved. But the ending was sweet and left me grinning. That's proof of a good book for me.

In closing...
Orange Reeses--read this book! Five suns and I can't wait for the next one!

Monday, September 10, 2018

Hurricane

We are under a mandatory evacuation for Hurricane Florence. I may be unable to post for the remainder of the week, depending on our location and internet access. Thank you for your understanding during this time.

~Dawn

Review: Darak by Cara Bristol

Title: Darak
Author: Cara Bristol
Genre/Age: Sci-Fi Romance/Adult
Series: Dakonian Alien Mail Order Brides
Publisher: Self-published
Format: ebook via Author
Rating: ✺✺✺
LinksGoodreads
SynopsisRevenge is best served sweet with a hot, horned alien 

Free-spirited pastry chef Lexi Sutterman has discovered that true love is pie in the sky. The only thing more difficult than finding an Earth man willing to commit is pleasing her wealthy, hypercritical family who view her as a failure. So she’s given up on both, focusing her energy on her new bakery. Now that her uber successful little sister manages to nab a well-heeled fiancé, Lexi fights back by joining the Intergalactic Dating Agency. She plans to bring a huge, purple, tentacled alien as her plus-one to the wedding. 

Darak of planet Dakon isn't purple or tentacled—he’s just seven feet of horned alien hotness. To get a woman on his world, a guy has to literally win the lottery. Tired of waiting for the Fates to send him a female, he joins the dating service to meet a nice Earth girl to call his own. He recognizes Lexi as his true mate, but realizes convincing her they’re meant to be together forever and not just a weekend will be no cake walk. 

But when a sweet-tart pastry chef and a horned alien hottie fall in love, everyone might get their just desserts… 

* * * * 
DARAK: Dakonian Alien Mail Order Brides is a new science fiction romance series and a spin-off from the author’s Alien Mate series. In the Alien Mate books, Earth women travel to planet Dakon to become the mail order brides of aliens. 
In the Dakonian Alien Mail Order Brides series, the aliens get tired of waiting for their ship bringing women to come in, so they join the Intergalactic Dating Agency and go to Earth.


**Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book.**

Find an alien date to shock your snooty parents? Check. Fall in love with said alien? Wait, what?

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When Lexi came up with a scheme to annoy her up-tight mother, she had no idea what she was really getting into. Because the alien she was matched with isn't like a human man. Darak recognizes her as his mate and he isn't looking for a fun fling. He's playing for keeps. But even if Lexi does decide to take their relationship seriously, their future depends on whether they can survive being an odd couple in a judgmental family.

This was a short and pleasant read. I loved both characters, immediately. I also appreciated the fact that Lexi took Darak's feelings into consideration when she realized how serious he was about finding his mate. This made me respect her more. And it was nice to see the alien react to the human world, since we've gotten to see the opposite in the other series. The romance was sweet with a dash of spice and there was a bit of suspense tossed in too.

In closing...
I can't wait to see how the next alien finds his mate. Five suns!

Review: Werewolves Only by Carrie Pulkinen

Title: Werewolves Only
Author: Carrie Pulkinen
Genre/Age: Paranormal Romance/Adult
Series: Crescent City Wolf Pack (Book One)
Publisher: Self-published
Format: ebook via The Romance Reviews
Rating: ✺✺✺
LinksGoodreads
SynopsisWhen the alpha's love for his fated mate is forbidden, he'll risk everything to hold her. 

Detective Macey Carpenter has been on the trail of a vicious attacker for weeks, with nothing more than a vague description of a red-eyed man to go on. She has no clue she’s hunting demons, and if the evidence doesn’t stop disappearing, she’ll never solve the case.

Before Luke Mason becomes alpha of the Crescent City Wolf Pack, he has to end the French Quarter’s demon infestation and keep the police from discovering the truth. But when he falls head over tail for the feisty detective investigating the crimes, supernatural secrets aren’t the only things at stake.

Luke has to mate with another werewolf or he’ll sacrifice his position as alpha. But as heat builds between the pair, he discovers Macey has a few secrets of her own. She may hold the key to ridding New Orleans of its demons, but his feelings for her could tear the pack apart.


The Romance Review

**Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book.**

Macey fell for... the leader of the pack...

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When Macey's current case leads her to a handsome and mysterious man, she isn't sure if she should follow her heart or her head. Luke seems to live a complicated life and Macey has her own hands full with her detective work. To make matters worse, she is starting to wonder if her mystical gift isn't the only supernatural occurrence happening in the city. But does she really believe that werewolves are real? Or demons?

Luke knows werewolves are real because he is one. And he knows this pull he feels to Macey is because she's supposed to be his mate. It's unfortunate that he can't be with her due to the rule that alphas can only mate with other werewolves. While he tries to figure out how to handle his growing affection for the feisty human detective that he can't have, he has to deal with the multiplying demons threatening the city. And time is running out.

This is the first book of the series and we're immediately tossed into the middle of an ongoing investigation into rapes of women by demons. The bad guys are pretty vicious, though we don't see a lot of the graphic details, at least until the brief action sequence near the end. There isn't a lot of gore, but the tone of the story was sort of dark, so don't expect a light and fluffy paranormal romance. This has more grit than that.

I think the one thing that I didn't love about the story was how stubborn and overly-feminist the heroine was. I can handle a strong woman, but it seemed like Macey tried a little too hard to be independent. I was in the military, so I understand that it's hard to be a woman in a mostly male profession. However, she insinuated early in the story that there is something wrong with a woman choosing to take care of the home and family, instead of working. There isn't.

But that was really my only complaint and it's not a very big one. Macey's stubbornness does get in the way of her happy ending a few times, but that's only one of the conflicts in the story. There is also an ambitious pack member who wants to take Luke's job as alpha. And you can't forget about the fact that Luke can't even mate with a human to begin with. Oh, and there might be a demon running around and raping women to impregnate them with demon babies. So yeah, there's a lot going on here.

The pacing is steady and the story never lulled for me. It did take me a while to read it, but only because work and family obligations always seemed to get in the way. Yet, it was easy enough to pick up and continue, no matter where I had left off. I'm curious to see who in the pack will find their mate next and whether a certain rogue werewolf will end up joining the pack. I liked her character quite a bit.

In closing...
A paranormal romance with demons, witches, werewolves, and more. Four suns!



Book provided by and reviewed for:

Review: Spies, Lies, and Allies by Lisa Brown Roberts

Title: Spies, Lies, and Allies
Author: Lisa Brown Roberts
Genre/Age: Romance/YA
Series: None
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Format: ebook via The Romance Reviews
Rating: ✺✺✺
LinksGoodreads
SynopsisSummers are supposed to be fun, right? Not mine. I’ve got a job at my dad’s company, which is sponsoring a college scholarship competition. I just found out that, in addition to my job assisting the competing interns, I’m supposed to vote for the winner. Totally not what I signed up for.

My boss is running the competition like it’s an episode of Survivor. Then there’s Carlos, who is, well, very distracting––in a good way. But I can’t even think about him like that because fraternizing on the job means instant disqualification for the intern involved.

As if that’s not enough, an anonymous informant with insider intel is trying to sabotage my dad’s company on social media...and I’m afraid it's working.

Much as I’d love to quit, I can’t. Kristoffs Never Quit is our family motto. I just hope there’s more than one survivor by the end of this summer.

The Romance Review

**Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book.**

Forbidden love...with a side of geek!

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Laurel misses her dad. He's always working and they don't get to spend time together anymore. That's what compels her to volunteer to work at her father's company for the summer. However, she starts to regret that decision after she becomes the person responsible for choosing a winner of a scholarship. She can't possibly see how she's supposed to choose one intern, all of whom are deserving of the money. And her job becomes even tougher when she starts to fall for one of the contestants. All is not fair in love and summer internships...

This book was adorable in so many ways. Our hero was more interesting than I predicted he would be. And while we never see things from his point of view, I think his expressions and behavior is detailed well enough to get a good idea of what he's thinking and the kind of person he is. There were a couple of times when he did things that I didn't quite understand and that would have been a good time to switch to his POV, but it didn't diminish the story much for me without it.

The whole idea of Laurel choosing the winner of the scholarship made some sense to me. The way her father constantly acted as if there was a secondary reason he chose her for the job, however, did not. He and Laurel's mother made comments that hinted toward there being a significant reason for allowing Laurel to come work for him. I kept waiting to see what it was, but nothing was ever revealed. I never got a good idea of what her plans for the future were either. But the plot was pretty interesting, though. I was never bored by the story and the pacing was steady.

As for the romance, it was certainly the best part. I think I fell for Carlos the moment he wrote those cute notes in Laurel's notebook. And he just continued to impress me throughout the book. Laurel was cute and her geeky side made me laugh on more than one occasion. The pair together were simply adorable. I rooted for them to find a way to be together and I have to say that the ending was super cute, as well. Overall, this was a good read that left me smiling.

In closing...
This was my first book by this author, but likely won't be my last. Four suns!



Book provided by and reviewed for:

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Promo & Tour: Cloaked by Taylor Hobbs


As the Cloaked Shadow, Fawkes has made his career breaking into prisons for any contract with a large enough purse. He takes advantage of the kingdom's impending revolution by playing both sides of the conflict. Each rescue contract he fulfills turns a tidy profit until he angers the wrong duke.

Charlotte is a criminal-in-training who yearns to crack her mentor’s guarded façade, but is unprepared to confront the depths of his dark past. As her sense of right and wrong blurs, Charlotte discovers just how far she will go for the Cloaked Shadow and the sacrifices he requires.

Now hunted throughout the land, Fawkes must face long-buried secrets in order to survive, but they could destroy him. Charlotte risks everything, including her heart, to set Fawkes on the path to redemption.

Will Charlotte have the strength to pull Fawkes into the light, or will she follow him into the shadows?



“Please, whatever you are,” Henry begged, “don't hurt us. Please.”

There was no answer, but Charlotte heard the rustle of fabric and a felt a light breeze on her skin as the shadow whisked by her. She whirled around to face the cell across from Henry's. Through the haze of her torchlight circle, Charlotte watched as the shadow knelt down, freeing a hand holding a key from the depths of a long, black cloak. With the telltale rasp of iron on iron, the door to the other cell creaked open.

The stranger crept soundlessly inside, returning seconds later with a body slung over its shoulders. The body emitted a low groan, and the shadow lowered its burden to lean against the wall. With unexpected care, the shadow crouched over the emaciated prisoner and murmured softly to him.

Seeing this spark of humanity gave Charlotte the courage she needed. “Help us.” It was a statement, not a question.

The cloaked figure remained kneeling next to its charge, and a man's voice finally spoke in a low rumble. “But you have nothing to offer me.”

Charlotte hesitated at his unexpected statement, trying to decipher its meaning. “Free my brother, and you can have anything you want.”



Five Favorite Movie Scenes


I had to give myself some parameters for this post, because I was paralyzed with indecision for two days trying to narrow down my choices. So, these are my top five romance scenes of all time. 

The Princess Bride
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This is my absolute favorite movie, but the best scene has to be when Buttercup pushes Westley down the hill and he yells out, “As you wish!” Iconic.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=niul8Hy-3wk


10 Things I Hate About You
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Confession: I had a massive crush on Heath Ledger growing up. When he serenades Kat with his infectious grin and the entire marching band…swoon.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MZjdcCTUuGE


Up
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The opening scene is masterful storytelling. So many emotions without any dialogue. It makes me cry every time I watch it. Fun fact: I walked down the aisle to this song, as my husband and I promised to start our greatest adventure with each other on our wedding day.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F2bk_9T482g


Dirty Dancing
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The choreography. The music. The lift. “Nobody puts Baby in the corner.” Could there be a more perfect ending to a movie?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WpmILPAcRQo


Ladyhawk
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Star-crossed lovers can almost touch in the magic moment right before dawn. Sigh. What more could you ask for in a love story?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ODVyWqW4ps




Taylor Hobbs lives aboard a 38 ft sailboat named Story Time with her husband, baby girl, and dog. They are a military family and who love to travel, whether it is by sea or air. When she's not writing, Taylor enjoys doing yoga and planning her next adventure. You can keep up with their crazy life at cannonstocruising.com or follow on Twitter at @tayhobbit. 

Cloaked is her debut novel and can be found at https://catalog.thewildrosepress.com/all-titles/6046-cloaked.html

Buy links:

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