Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Wall of Winnipeg by Mariana Zapata (audiobook)

Title:  The Wall of Winnipeg and Me
Author: Mariana Zapata
My Rating: A
Narrator: Callie Dalton

Genre: Contemporary Romance 
Main Characters: Vanessa and Aiden
Release Date: May 2016 (audiobook)
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: spicy

Story Overview:
16 hrs

Vanessa Mazur knows she's doing the right thing. She shouldn't feel bad for quitting. Being an assistant/housekeeper/fairy godmother to the top defensive end in the National Football Organization was always supposed to be temporary. She has plans and none of them include washing extra-large underwear longer than necessary.

But when Aiden Graves shows up at her door wanting her to come back, she's beyond shocked.

For two years, the man known as The Wall of Winnipeg couldn't find it in him to tell her good morning or congratulate her on her birthday. Now? He's asking for the unthinkable.

What do you say to the man who is used to getting everything he wants?
My Review:
Overall: 4.5
Performance: 4.5
Story: 4.25

I have no idea how I ended up picking up this audio, but I'm so glad I did. I thoroughly enjoyed this story, but be ready to sit back and relax because this romance is a very SLOW build. 

When the book begins, Aiden is awful. In fact, he's pretty much the anti-hero. He's stoic and almost brutish in how he deals with Vanessa. But as the story develops, he gets a little bit better...not all the way better...because that's not his personality. There are very good (and yes, painful) reasons why he is the way he is. And as all of that is slowly revealed it becomes more and more obvious how perfect these two are for each other. Their backgrounds are extremely similar. It's just their reactions and development of character that sets them apart. 

While Aiden's background was rough, Vanessa's was downright painful to listen to. No wonder he fell for could he not when he realizes just how much she's overcome. Gah...she's a great heroine. I really did love her and her gumption and determination to accomplish her goals. Even with the marathon running...she just has so much character. 

I loved that Aiden eventually starts to realize that, too. He definitely has an interesting character arc. When the book begins he's so focused on his own determination that he can't see what's happening with the people around him. I loved seeing that slowly change as he became a more empathetic...and human...soul. 

And then in the background of all of the build between the two of them there's Zach. He's Aiden's roommate, but he's truly Vanessa's friend. I loved him so much. I hope he someday gets a story. 

The book was really good. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to it on audio. I honestly think it would have moved too slowly for me if I'd been reading it instead. But there's enough inflection in audio that it kept all the slower internal dialogue so that it didn't slow down the pacing of the story. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Cover Reveal: Chasing Christmas Eve by Jill Shalvis

From New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis comes the next sexy, standalone novel in the Heartbreaker Bay series...


Meet cute...

Run for the hills—temporarily. That’s Colbie Albright’s plan when she flees New York for San Francisco. Wrangling her crazy family by day and writing a bestselling YA fantasy series by night has taken its toll. In short, Colbie’s so over it that she’s under it. She’s also under the waters of a historic San Francisco fountain within an hour of arrival. Fortunately, the guy who fishes Colbie out has her looking forward to Christmas among strangers. But she’s pretty sure Spencer Baldwin won’t be a stranger for long.

Make merry...

Spence’s commitment to hiding from the Ghosts of Relationships Past means he doesn’t have to worry about the powerful—okay, crazy hot—chemistry he’s got with Colbie. Just because she can laugh at anything, especially herself... just because she’s gorgeous and a great listener…just because she “gets” Spencer immediately doesn’t mean he won’t be able to let Colbie go. Does it?

…and hope for a miracle.

Now the clock’s ticking for Colbie and Spence: Two weeks to cut loose. Two weeks to fall hard. Two weeks to figure out how to make this Christmas last a lifetime

Pre-Order CHASING CHRISTMAS EVE in ebook or paperback, releasing 9/26/17
Amazon | iBooks | Kobo | B&N

The bathroom door opened, and even better than his fantasy, Colbie emerged from a cloud of steam, her willowy body wrapped in one of his towels, her exposed skin gleaming and dewy damp. Her hair had been piled on top of her head, but wavy strands had escaped, clinging to her neck and shoulders.
He couldn’t tear his gaze off of her. There was just something so uncalculated about her, so . . . natural and easy. She was like a beacon to him, which was both crazy and more than a little terrifying.

Clearly not seeing him against the wall, she moved with an effortless grace to the suitcase she’d left at the door. Bending low enough to give him a near heart attack, she rifled through her things, mumbling to herself that she should’ve researched more about how to be a normal person instead of how to kill someone with an everyday object.

“Do you kill a lot of people, then?” Spence asked.

“Motherforker!” she said with a startled squeak of surprise, whirling to face him, almost losing her grip on the towel.

Five days a week, Spence worked out hard in this gym. Mostly to outrun his demons, but the upside was he could run miles without losing his breath. But he lost his breath now.

And that wasn’t his body’s only reaction.

And don’t miss the previous books in Jill Shalvis’s Heartbreaker Bay Series, SWEET LITTLE LIES, THE TROUBLE WITH MISTLETOE, ONE SNOWY NIGHT and ACCIDENTALLY ON PURPOSE, now available! Grab your copies HERE!


About Jill Shalvis:
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jill Shalvis lives in a small town in the Sierras full of quirky characters. Any resemblance to the quirky characters in her books is, um, mostly coincidental. Look for Jill’s sexy contemporary and award-winning books wherever romances are sold and click on the blog button above for a complete book list and daily blog detailing her city-girl-living-in-the- mountains adventures.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Daily Grind by Anna Zabo

Title: Daily Grind
Author: Anna Zabo
My Rating: A

Genre: Contemporary Romance (m/m)
Series: Takeover #4
Main Characters: Brian and Rob
Release Date: February 2017
Publisher:  Intermix
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
A man discovers that love can show up when you least expect it—and in a much different form—in this piping-hot romance from the author of Due Diligence and Just Business.

Brian Keppler, owner of Ground N'At, the coffee shop beneath SR Anderson Consulting, doesn't have time for a relationship. His most recent girlfriend broke up with him because he'd become married to his shop, which is falling apart without his favorite barista, Justin.

As he struggles to stay afloat, the arrival of handsome British high-tech whiz Robert Ancroft becomes another complication. Rob quickly becomes a fixture at the shop with his sharp wit and easy charm, and Brian soon finds himself looking forward more and more to Rob's visits—to the point where his heart skips a beat when he walks in.  

But will Brian be able to come to terms with his previously unexplored sexual identity and find happiness now that he has a chance?

My Review:
I've loved this whole series, and this installment was just as good as the others have been. Ground N'at has almost been its own character in this series...the coffee shop on the ground floor of Sam's building. But in this book, the coffee shop isn't quite the mecca of happiness it's been up until now. No, now the story is told from Brian's point of view. Brian owns Ground N'at and running it and making the coffee shop a priority is slowly killing him. Too many hours and not enough reliable help has Brian stretched to his limits. 

But in the midst of all the stress is Rob. Rob is CEO of a huge tech corp. He understands stress and being overworked. He's been there and it's only been through necessity that he's not there anymore. Rob is gay and completely attracted to Brian. 

For Brian, the relationship is a bit more complicated. While he's always known he's bisexual, he's never met a man worth breaking out of his heterosexual mold...until Rob. Like I said, Brian is fully aware that he's always been attracted to men, too, but he's never dated men or told anyone about that attraction. When he meets Rob, he's ready to explore their chemistry. I like that once Brian commits, he never really questions what he's doing. This isn't an experiment. He's all in. That full-out commitment even surprises Rob. I liked that it's not this huge thing. I also really LOVED Rob's family's reaction. OMG, I was so cracking up through all that...some of the funniest scenes in this book. 

Brian is under a ton of stress and NOT handling it well. That causes problems between him and Rob. While they are wonderful when everything is smooth, that isn't a reality of life. The thing is...Rob knows what's happening. He recognizes the signs, and still isn't able to save Brian from himself. Even Brian is aware of what is happening, but his first priority is to his business. He has to make the coffee shop survive and he gets caught in a downward spiral. The harder he tries, the more stressed he gets. The more stressed he gets, the worse the situation at the shop becomes. 

No spoilers, but I do love how it was all resolved. So perfectly executed, especially in lieu of the entire series. I enjoyed the book and loved getting to watch Rob and Brian find their HEA.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Unexpectedly Hers by Jamie Beck

Title: Unexpectedly Hers
Author: Jamie Beck
My Rating: B

Genre: Contemporary Romance  
Series: Sterling Canyon #3
Main Characters:  Emma and Wyatt
Release Date: February 2017
Publisher:  Montlake
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: spicy

Story Overview:
By day, bashful wallflower Emma Duffy works at her family’s bed-and-breakfast. By night, she secretly pens erotic romance hot enough to melt the snow in their cozy Rockies town.
But Emma’s real life is about to heat up when her mother books the entire inn to a professional snowboarder, hoping the publicity will put them on the map. In a karmic twist of fate, that guest is Wyatt Lawson, the man with whom Emma had shared the secret one-night stand that became the inspiration for her novel and its dreamy hero. Worse, a film crew is documenting his comeback just as her debut is about to hit the shelves. Emma’s only saving grace is that Wyatt doesn’t remember her—and hopefully he never will.
When Wyatt arrives in Sterling Canyon for several weeks of intense training, the last tumble he expects to take is falling for a girl, especially one as shy as Emma. Unlike groupies with their hidden agendas, she isn’t using him—or so he believes…until the film crew uncovers Emma’s pen name and steamy novel.
Wyatt’s comeback run can withstand a fall or two, but can his heart recover from this crash and burn?
My Review:
There aren't many books out there that are centered around snowboarding. I really enjoyed that aspect of it. I also really liked the complex backstory for Wyatt with his brother Ryder...even while it broke my heart. Ryder's snowboarding accident has left deep scars on both the brothers. I also liked how that story line tied in Trip and Gray's business (both heroes from previous books in this series).

The heroine in this book, Emma, wasn't quite as straightforward for me. I did like the back story between Emma and Ryder, although the reveal of those facts fell a little flat in the grand scheme of conflict, which was a disappointment. And I liked her secret identity/life. BUT...and this is a big one...I was NOT a fan of how she came across in the book. She never did stand up to her mother, which I had real issues with. And despite her secret life as an erotica writer, Emma constantly came across as way too restrained and sedate. Even with her secret life and some somewhat sexy scenes, her entire personality made the book read like a sweet, inspirational book...which I'm not a fan of. That made me sad because there was some great set up to this story that could have been epic for my enjoyment. But personally, this book didn't work for me because of Emma's personality.

But the book was very readable and there was a lot to the story that was good. I liked the set up with the snowboarding. The details were fun to read about. I also enjoyed the inn and the reality show setup. My favorite details were absolutely the brothers. I also liked the glimpses of Andy. I'd love for him to get a story eventually after rebuilding his life. 

So, overall a mixed review. There were some good things and a few details that I had issues with. But it was still an entertaining read and I'm definitely not sad that I put the time into enjoying it. 

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Roman by Sawyer Bennett

Title: Roman
Author: Sawyer Bennett
My Rating: A

Genre: Contemporary Romance  
Series: Cold Fury #7
Main Characters:  Lexi and Roman
Release Date: February 2017
Publisher:  Loveswept
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
New York Times bestselling author Sawyer Bennett steams up the ice all over again as the Carolina Cold Fury hockey team’s hottest bad boy gets his first taste of something good.

In a league full of troublemakers, Cold Fury defenseman Roman Sýkora stands out—at least when it comes to negative publicity. When he’s not chilling in the penalty box, the sizzling Czech skate demon is racking up tabloid headlines for his scandalous behavior with the ladies. But now Roman’s feeling the burn from management to clean up his act, or else. Luckily he’s got an enticing distraction: a fun-loving barista who plays the ukulele and brings out a side of Roman he didn’t know he had.

Lexi Robertson came to Raleigh, North Carolina, to finally meet her father, Brian Brannon, and her half sister, Gray, both of whom work in the Cold Fury’s front office. That’s where she first meets sexy, intimidating Roman—who’s really a big softie at heart. As one relationship takes off, another begins: Brian seems to be clicking with Lexi’s boss at the coffee shop. But when the friction between Roman and her new family heats up, Lexi wonders whether she’s a pawn in their game. Feeling hurt and foolish, Lexi’s ready to quit while she’s ahead. Trouble is, Roman’s not ready to quit on her.

Don’t miss any of Sawyer Bennett’s electrifying Cold Fury novels:

My Review:
From the very start, this has been one of my favorite sports series, but Roman is easily one of my favorites in the series now. I loved this book. The backstory and ties to the team that Lexi has added a great depth to it that made it fantastic...and I loved that Brian also had his own side story happening with his own POV chapters. Seriously, everything about this book rocked it for me.

I liked that neither Lexi nor Roman fit the typical molds. They're both their own individuals and they instantly had a connection because of that. Lexi is a ukelale playing, doc marten wearing barista who has indulged in a bit of wanderlust over the years. Roman is his own person. When he was 13 he was sent away from his parents to concentrate on hockey and his life has been fairly transient since. He doesn't make connections and doesn't think twice about stretching the rules for the good of his game. 

Neither one of them is a conformist, but that's what makes their relationship so awesome. Neither expects to EVER really connect with that One Person. They don't see their worlds working that way, so when it happens, they're both a little stunned. And all of this is happening in the midst of hockey season combined with Lexi's family drama. She's trying to fit into her new family. Brian's easy, but it's Gray who's the issue...for both Lexi and Roman. Roman and Gray conflict on his bad-boy style on and off the rink. Combine that with he's dating her new young sister...she's not happy. Gray is one of those people who takes a bit to warm up to things aren't smooth for her and Lexi either. 

There's a lot of family drama which flows over into the hockey team management drama. There's a side romance for Brian, which I also enjoyed. It was very low key so it never took away from the main story at all. 

Overall, I just loved this story. Roman isn't a guy you'd think who'd go all in like he does with Lexi. It surprises him as much as anything. I like it when a player like this's even sweeter. 

This is a definite recommend for me. The characters from all the books in the series show up in these stories, but you can easily read this as a stand alone and not feel lost or confused.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Monday, February 20, 2017

The Do-Gooder by Jessie L. Star

Title: The Do-Gooder
Author: Jessie L. Star
My Rating: A+

Genre: New Adult Romance  
Main Characters:  Lara and Fletch
Release Date: February 2017
Publisher:  Pocket Star
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
A college girl tries to make up for her bad karma by doing one good deed for anyone willing to ask—a witty, sweet romance perfect for fans of Christina Lauren and Abbi Glines.

Lara Montgomery is no good. Having been scorned by her classmates since high school, she’s used to it. From where she’s sitting, the one with more notches on the bedpost has more fun anyway. At least, that’s what she tells herself.

Really, a small part of her hopes that her massive amounts of bad karma can be neutralized by wearing her Do-Gooder hat—that thing she does where she’ll complete one good deed for anyone who asks. And she does an amazing job at it, if she does say so herself. Still, there’s one thing she knows she can’t make better, no matter how many problems she solves for other people: on the night her brother died, she was off hooking up with his not-so-single best friend, Fletch.

It’s been three years since that night, and Fletch just wants her to let it go. To him, her persistence with the good deeds only serves to remind everyone in their small university town about what they did. As it is, they can’t help but get into a heated argument every time they run into each other on campus. And yet, neither of them can seem to stop that pesky electricity that runs between them whenever they get too close…. 
My Review:
I had no idea what to expect going into this book. I've never read this author, or even heard of her before, but I the publisher contacted me and I liked the sound of the synopsis, so I warily agreed to try it. OMG! You all...this book was so freaking good. I am completely blown away. The story is fantastic and the emotion to the two main characters...the author does an amazing job showing all those little nuances and tells that make a story so deep and so good. Wow. This book was just phenomenal. 

Fletch and Lara have known one another for practically their entire life. He was always her brother's best friend. She was always infatuated with him. But they also had their own friendship of sorts...until they took it a step too far...on a night that was filled with mistakes. Ever since then, Lara has been punishing herself by making reparations to anyone she can. Everyone on campus knows that if you need help...Lara is the person to ask. She literally keeps a binder to organize and sort all her "good deeds". But Fletch hates that. Every time one of her good deeds comes up, it just reminds him of that awful, horrible night when everything blew up. And that night was three years ago. Three years of horrible, pent up frustrations. Three years of impossible sexual chemistry. Three years the two of them have spent sniping at one enemies in every possible way. There's a fine line...

Gah. There are two words that can define this book...sexual chemistry. Fletch and Lara have it in spades. But there is so much antagonism and hurt between them, there is no way they can ever go back there again. Everything between them broke that night and there's no way to repair it. The aftermath has been too long and painful. 

This is a story filled with angst. I can't tell you how many times I read the scenes with tears flowing down my face, but that makes it so, so good. I loved both Lara and Fletch. It takes a while for the whole story to come out and when it does...and exactly why Lara is so messed up's really just heartbreaking. She is broken, but he is, too. That's why they're so perfect together. I honestly don't think anyone else could understand the depths of what they've gone through other than the two of them.

It was just such a good, good read. And there were some phenomenal supporting characters, too. Overall, there was just nothing bad I can say about this one. I loved it and HIGHLY recommend it.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review, but upon finishing it, immediately bought myself my own copy. I just wish the book was available in print so I could put it on my bookshelf. 

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Hard Edit by Andrea Smith and Eva Lenoir (audiobook)

Title:  Hard Edit 
Author: Andrea Smith and Eva Lenoir
My Rating: A
Narrator: Joel Leslie

Genre: Contemporary Romance (m/m)
Series: Black Balled #2
Main Characters: Troy and Larson
Release Date: January 2017 (audiobook)
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
It's all fun and games until egos get hurt. 

After a year of a seemingly happily-ever-after, Troy Babilonia throws a curve ball that smacks Larson Blackburn right in the head. When Troy's debut novel, "Bridge to Lonely," threatens to overshadow Larson's own success, inviting a past shadow into the light of their present, the two alphas must learn to adjust. 

"Bridge to Lonely" has garnered an unexpected success both in the literary world and in the film industry, forcing Larson to accept that he is not the only successful author in the building. But as Troy's old flame decides to make an appearance, the two alphas are forced to test the strength of their love. Let the battle of the egos recommence; where sarcasm is the preferred weapon, and the testosterone levels go beyond the boiling point. 

Because Black Balled just wasn't enough...Smith & LeNoir bring you Hard Edit. 

Adult Content
My Review:
Overall: 4.5
Performance: 4.25
Story: 4.5

I had no idea there was a second book to this series until I went to write my review for the first. Of course, I immediately scrambled to buy it and was so excited to find it was also already out in audio. And...yay, I think I enjoyed this story even more than I enjoyed the first (although that first one was really good too). So, that's good news for you because this is not a stand-alone story. To get the true effect and understand these characters, you NEED to read both books...and I highly recommend them in audio. 

You should note...these characters in the first story were cocky and belligerent and narcissistic. Those personalities haven't been changed by love. LOL. These guys are both still jerks at their heart...the difference now is that they've softened...a little bit. They are absolutely madly in love and despite everything going on...including the fact that they really strongly disagree a lot of the time...their love is central in this book. Every time they fought and had harsh moments between them, I aww'ed because then they would turn around and confess their emotions. I loved that so much. It was that love and devotion that overrode everything else that made this story so good. 

These two are NOT your typical heroes. In fact, they're thoroughly unlikable characters, but that's what makes their romance so good...because through it all, you can't help falling in love with them and cheering them along the way. 

Huge kudos to the two authors for making that work. Wow, that some serious writing skill. 

So, again, I highly recommend this story, especially if you've read the first book. You NEED to grab this one immediately. It's not your normal romantic story, but I loved it for that and these unlikely, but still lovable characters.