Friday, April 18, 2014

The Bossman by Renee Rose

Grade: D+
Hotness Level: Inferno
Kink Level: Moderate Kink
Genre: Contemporary
Published: 3/08/14
Reviewed by Kate
114 pages

Sophie's dad was a member of the mob and was killed when she was younger. Since then, she's gone out of her way to avoid getting involved with the family again. But all of that changes when her car is about to be repossessed and the mob boss' younger brother, Joey steps in and pays off the loan for her. Joey's always been happy to stay in his older brother's shadows and keep his hands clean. But can he ever have Sophie when she wants nothing to do with the family?

This one was a head shaker for me. First, I don't think I'll ever be a fan of mafia romance (this was my first mafia romance read) and, admittedly, I know very little about the mafia. Secondly, for not wanting to get involved in the family, Sophie was very quick to jump into bed with Joey and by the end of the second date she was ordering spanking implements for him?! Not to mention Joey doesn't really seem to get off on spanking Sophie, yet he knows that's what she really needs (yes, knows this by the 2nd date). Apparently mind reading ability comes along with your mafia membership card. And last, the ending seemed a little too easy. It's presented as happily ever after, but I just can't see it staying that way for long.

If the mafia romance angle sounds intriguing to you it may be worth a read, but for me, I don't think I'll be reading any more mafia romance. 

Has anyone else read a mafia romance? What did you think? Good, bad, indifferent?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Taken With You by Shannon Stacey

Grade: A
Hotness Level: Blaze
Kink Level: No Kink
Genre: Contemporary
Series: Kowalski Family #8
Published: 3/25/14
Reviewed by Anne
209 ebook pages

Hailey, the town librarian is happy with her life, but lately, watching all the Kowalski's couple up and get married has got her wondering when she'll find her own Prince Charming.  She's pretty sure he isn't in Whitford, because she's looked!  And when her new neighbor, Matt, moves in, she's sure it's not him either.  She met him a few weeks before on an ill advised adventure weekend when she got lost in the woods.   He may have been able to guide her to safety, but he looked like he hadn't seen a shower or washing machine in weeks!  And he might look a whole lot better in his forest ranger uniform, but she's seen the real Matt and he's not her Prince Charming.  That's all just fine with Matt, who was burned once before by a girl friend who didn't embrace his love of the outdoors.  So they'll be good neighbors.  Maybe they'll be very good neighbors... but both of them know they could never have a relationship.

Shannon Stacey's humor and story telling is great in this book.  Hailey and Matt are both so sure they are just too different to make things work.  It's a delight to watch them come together.  The small town of Whitford is all over the two of them, with everyone knowing they'll be a couple before the two of them even get a whiff of it.  So fun and funny!

When I meet people who haven't read romance lately and I want to recommend a book to them, Exclusively Yours, the first book in this series, is my go to recommendation.  It's one of my all time favorite reads, right along side Yours to Keep, the third Kowalski book.  Even though the other books weren't as good as those two, I've still enjoyed them as I've read through the series, but this one is a return to the best!  It's not about a Kowalski, but there are plenty of Kowalskis in the story.  There's not anything OF DOOM, but there's still plenty of humor.  There's some ATV fun and gossip at the diner and the grocery store.

This is a long running series, but you could easily jump in and read this book without having read the others - and I recommend you do!  It's going on my favorite books of the year list!  Do you read the Kowalskis?  If so, what's your favorite of the series?  And if you don't, do you have a series to recommend?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Her Kind of Trouble by Sarah Mayberry

Grade: A
Hotness Level: Blaze
Kink Level: No Kink
Genre: Contemporary
Published: 4/1/14 
Reviewed by Anne
210 pages

What if the two right people met, but it was the wrong time?  Vivian and Seth meet at their siblings' wedding.  The attraction is instant.  Neither is looking for commitment, and that works out just fine for them.  A quickie in a limo at the wedding turns into a happy memory for both of them as Seth keeps trying to make it big with his rock band and Vivian moves to the US to work on her career as a designer.

Ten years later Vivian moves back to Australia and suddenly she and Seth are seeing each other all the time.  The attraction is still there, and the timing is still awful.  Seth has grown up a lot.  He gave up on the rock star dream and settled down and bought a bar.  But he still managed to knock up his twenty-something girlfriend before they split up. So now he's looking at fatherhood with a girl who seems more interested in shopping than the baby due in weeks.   Vivian, who is known in her family as the flighty one, has also grown up and settled down.  She's co-owner of a new photography/stylist business.  But they keep getting thrown together.  And even though the timing couldn't be worse and their families don't really approve, they're starting to find they don't just have horny pants for each other, but they actually like each other, too!

This book is going on my best of the year list!  I think Vivian is one of my all time favorite heroines.  She knows who she is and she's fine with herself, flaws and all.  She likes sex and she's not ashamed that she does.  But she's mature enough that her life is not all one night stands and she understands that there are repercussions when you decide to sleep with someone.  She will not put up with slut shaming and doesn't hesitate to call Seth out on it when he starts down that path.

Vivian's acceptance of herself and her imperfections helps her appreciate the same in Seth.  And if Seth is a little late to see all that is wonderful about Vivian, we'll give him a pass because his life is a pretty big mess during most of the story.  It's an awful time to start a relationship.  It's messy and probably not smart, but it's their story, and that's how Mayberry writes it.  So awesome!

There were a couple small things about the book that bothered me.  I would have been happier with a HFN ending instead of the all out HEA.   It's also not as hot as some of the books I enjoy, but with the strong plot and characters, I didn't miss the extra couple sex scenes at all.  And the scenes that were in the book were great!

I'll just say it right here.  I think Sarah Mayberry is one of the most under appreciated romance authors out there right now.  In my book she's right up there with Jill Shalvis, Jaci Burton, Shannon Stacey, Ruthie Knox, and Cara Mckenna.  I'd even say she writes stronger storylines than any of these authors.  If you haven't tried her yet, go pick up one of her stories and try her now!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Once Upon A Billionaire by Jessica Clare

Once upon a Billionaire (Billionaire Boys Club, #4)
Hotness Level-Inferno
Kink Level-No Kink
Series-Billionaire Boys Club #4
Reviewed by Kay
261 pages

I had such high hopes for this book when I first started it. I love Jessica Clare books. It had a billionaire, a down on her luck but strong heroine, great sexual tension and a decent, if not far fetched premise. These are great things in a romance story but at sixty percent in it all fell apart for me.

Griffin, the hero, is a billionaire who belongs to a secret society of friends and a Viscount in his native country. He has to go home to his homeland for a family wedding. A royal family wedding. He would rather do anything other than that but family is family. His assistant comes down with the chicken pox and can't go with him. One of his friends' wives, who he doesn't get along with, offers him her husband's assistant for the trip. He's desperate, so he agrees.

Maylee is from Arkansas and the first person in her family to go to college and get a degree. She sends part of her paychecks back home to her family to give them a somewhat better life. She lives in an unsecured building in a hovel of an apartment. She doesn't have much but she's content with her life. When she gets the chance not only to earn doubletime but to travel, she's so very excited.

When these two meet, Griffin is a total asshat. He insults her at every turn even knowing that he desperately needs her help. To make matters even worse, he becomes attracted to her and still continues to belittle her. This happens through most of the book. At about sixty percent, I'd made my mind up that there would be no redemption for him in my eyes. Not even Jessica Clare's writing could make him likeable. Maylee was a precious heroine and I cried for her several times while reading this book. She was the one bright spot in this story. If you can stand a constantly cruel hero, give it a try.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Naughty Bits Part 1: The Lingerie Shop by Joey W. Hill

Naughty Bits Part I: The Lingerie Shop (Naughty Bits, #1)
Hotness Level-Blaze
Kink Level-Mild Kink
Series-Naughty Bits #1
Reviewed by Kate
110 pages
Madison has inherited her sister's lingerie shop, Naughty Bits. But Naughty Bits is a bit more than just a lingerie shop. Madison has always needed to be in control, yet she recognizes that she's drawn to being a submissive. She recognizes it, but has been running from it for a while now. When she meets Logan, who runs the hardware store next to Naughty Bits, and discovers that he's a Dom, she's not sure how long she'll be able to keep running.
The relationship that is starting to form between Logan and Madison promises to be so hot, so steamy, so emotional, so....just so much. Madison is so conflicted and Logan is so confident. It seems like the perfect pairing for a great series. I've read some of Joey W. Hill's BDSM romances before and I can't wait to see what she does with Logan and Madison.
I couldn't stop turning pages with this one and Joey W. Hill has me tapping my toes, not-so-patiently awaiting the release of part two.
One minor note: there is no sexual interaction between Logan and Madison in this book. I can only imagine that the anticipation will make it all the better when it finally happens. Because if it can be steamy without the sex, I can only imagine...
How about you? What series are you anxiously waiting for the next book to be released?

Friday, April 11, 2014

Beyond Solitude by Kit Rocha

Grade: A
Hotness Level: Inferno
Kink Level: No Kink
Genre: Dystopian
Series: Beyond #4.5
Published: 4/1/14*
Reviewed by Anne
Pages: 126

*Note: This novella is part of the Alphas After Dark Anthology. The authors report that the anthology will be on sale for 99c in April and after that the novella will be priced at $2.99

So, just as I was finishing up with my review of Beyond Jealousy, I was lucky enough to get this ARC of Beyond Solitude.  I devoured it!  It takes place at the same time as Beyond Solitude, but could easily be read first.  In fact, this one probably stands alone better than any of the stories in the series besides the first one.  

Derek Ford is a member of the O'Kane gang.  Unfortunately a broken leg and old fashioned healing has left him tied to his desk a whole lot more than he likes.  One day he's surprised to discover Mia in his office.  She's new to the sector and she's not an O'Kane, but she's got ties to Lex, the O'Kane queen.  Lex gave Mia a job - she's supposed to help Ford out with his office work.  Ford is grumpy and not appreciative of Mia invading his space, but Mia's determined to make things work.

I showed the following quote to pretty much everyone in my bookclub trying to convince them to read this series!

"I need a job. If you don’t want me to mess with your files, fine—”

“Okay. Don’t mess with my files.”

She didn’t falter, didn’t even blink. “Then tell me what to do instead."

If I were an asshole... He waved the bottle of whiskey at her. “You could start by letting me drink half of this and jerk off so I can get some sleep.”

That snapped her teeth together—for about five seconds. “If you’re self-conscious about doing that with me in the next room, I could take some work home.”

“Self-conscious?” He dropped the bottle on his desk and unbuckled his belt. “I’ll lay it out right here, buttercup, if you like to watch.”

Her gaze flicked to his hands, and he got that flash of tongue he’d been waiting for as she wet her lips. “I wouldn’t be watching. I’d be working.”

Filing papers like there was nothing more interesting going on? Fuck that. “Bullshit.” Ford tugged open the top button on his jeans. “It may be a little battered these days, like the rest of me, but my ego’s not dead. If I start stroking my dick right in front of you, you’re damn sure gonna be paying attention. Not just watching—riveted."  p.7

This is on page SEVEN!  And really, the story starts on page 5, so it's really like page 3...  It's one hot story.  

It's also got one of the things I like most about the Beyond series - strong women who support each other.  Mia has issues.  She's working through them, but it's really important for her to stand on her own.  That means falling for her new boss causes her some problems.  The real conflict in this story comes when Ford doesn't understand why it's a problem for him to be her boss and lover.  The way he makes it up to her is one of the most memorable "I'm sorry" gifts I've ever read, though!

This story could probably be read anywhere in the series, as it stands alone really well.    It's tamer than most of the other stories, too, as Mia and Ford aren't really interested in the orgies or PDA that the rest of the O'Kanes enjoy so much.  So, it might even be a good entry point.  I highly recommend it, and even though I got a review copy of this short story,  I'm still going to buy the anthology.  For 99c it's hard to turn down!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Improper Proposals by Juliana Ross

Grade: A
Hotness Level: Blaze
Kink Level: No Kink
Genre: Historical
Series: Improper #3
Published: 3/24/14
Reviewed by Anne
122 pages

"Instead of instructing young wives on how to roast a chicken or darn a sock or ease colic in an infant, I want you to write a guide that will tell them, plainly and directly, what they might expect from marital relations with their husbands.  It will tell them that it could and should be a pleasant experience, and not a shameful necessity to which they are bound to submit."  -p.24

When her husband of eleven years dies, Caroline is distraught and alone, with no other family to turn to.  As time passes, she throws herself into the project of writing an instruction manual for young wives.   Once it's done, she seeks out a friend of her husband's who is a publisher.  She's disappointed when he says there's no market for her book, but he contacts her again, impressed with her writing and proposes she write the same sort of book, but this time have it focused on "marital relations."

Juliana Ross really shines in this story!  I devoured it in one sitting and wanted to turn around and re-read it immediately!  Since Caroline lives in the country, and her publisher, Tom, lives in London, they send letters and manuscripts through the mail, then meet in person about once per month to discuss things. I loved the contrast between the formal way they talk and write letters to each other and how very dirty they are in the bedroom.  It was great read and an incredibly hot one!  The author also manages to sell me on a second love of a lifetime without bashing the first - something I really appreciate!  

My biggest complaint was how Caroline handled the obstacle they faced near the end of the story.  It seemed out of character, especially when the solution seemed so easy to me.  However, the way Tom reacted really redeemed things.  He was so confident in her love for him and his for her that he was able to handle things well.

I also want to note that Tom is a dirty talker in the bedroom, and Caroline finds that she really enjoys it.  The sex scenes are very well written!  I highly recommend this book - it's going on my best of the year list!