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katiebabs

Katiebabs Library of Books

Katiebabs is a self-proclaimed present day bluestocking with her head always in a book. She runs her own book blog called Babbling about Books and More!

Review: Curious Minds

Curious Minds: A Knight and Moon Novel - Phoef Sutton, Janet Evanovich

Curious Minds (Knight and Moon #1) is different enough from Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series, that those readers who have fatigue about Stephanie, will get a big kick out of Curious Minds (those still on the Plum crack reading will love this book also), in what I hope will be the start of a great series. It’s a loopy, suspend your disbelief read, but oh what an entertaining and fun read it is! I couldn’t stop smiling and chuckling while I read. Curious Minds will be one of my top 10 favorite reads of 2016 because it a great piece of fiction you can lose yourself in for a few hours, where you’ll be left wanting more.

 

Riley, with the seemingly basic last name of Moon, has just graduated from Harvard, and after interning at the much respected financial institution of Blane-Grunwald, she feels she has arrived. But her first day on the job is far from normal. Werner, one of the owners of Blane-Grunwald wants her to visit with the eccentric billionaire Emerson, who is asking questions about his money. Riley will go to his home and answer any questions he has. When she gets there, she’s met by a woman running out of the house, quitting her job as a housekeeper and Emerson’s sweet aunt who welcomes her in but warns her of the wandering armadillo and other wildlife (Emerson’s recently deceased father had a farm on the property). Riley takes this weirdness in stride. When she meets Emerson face-to-face, she struck by how handsome he is, but the strange way he talks and thinks. He’s all about being Zen and melding his mind and body with the universe and so forth. He wants to see his gold, as in gold bars Blane-Grunwald is keeping for him, and he won’t take no for an answer. Riley has no choice but to take Emerson to Werner, who makes Emerson think everything is right as rain with his money. Emerson acts like he believes Werner, but Riley finds out that’s not the case. And so the crazy adventure with Emerson begins!

 

Riley finds out her mentor, Gunter is missing, the youngest Blane-Grunwald brother. His former assistant is acting strange, and Emerson believe something more sinister is going on. Riley is tasked to keep an eye on Emerson by Werner, which she does because she doesn’t have much of a choice. Soon Emerson is taking her on a wild chase that may get them killed. There’s conspiracies all around them, including one that could destroy the financial institution in America. Riley is freaked out, but Emerson plays it cool as he investigates about counterfeit gold bars that Blane-Grunwald may be involved in. As both are hunted by a bug eyed sarcastic Rollo, who says he’s from the NSA, Riley and Emerson fall deeper into a rabbit hole, so to speak, regarding espionage and possible aliens from outer space.

 

Curious Mind is a trippy novel. It’s a comedic spy thriller with a Bond type character in Emerson, who is beyond adorable, but very “out there” when it comes to his investigation techniques. Poor Riley is thrown into danger, and becomes a spy of sorts because of Emerson. Their banter and dialogue is what makes this a great read. There are also a slew of secondary characters that add a nice dimension to the story. I felt I was reading a screenplay to a movie or TV show, which makes sense since Phoef Sutton is an Emmy winning TV writer and producer. He and Janet really work together as a writing duo.

 

The mystery element is very well done, and even though farfetched during certain scenes, you won’t mind because everything is planned out and executed in such a way that you’ll get a real kick out of it. The ending isn’t a cliffhanger, because the crime is solved, but open for more adventures with Emerson and Riley that may eventually lead to a romance in the future.

 

Curious Minds is an adrenaline rush adventure novel with a great side of humor that hits all the sweet spots for this reader. Do pick it up!

Review: Welcoming the Bad Boy

— feeling alien
Welcoming the Bad Boy - Annie Rains

Welcoming the Bad Boy (Hero’s Welcome #3) by Annie Rains is a strange title for this book because the hero is far from being bad. He’s a sullen jerk for most of the story, but he doesn’t embody the bad boy image we see in romances. I honestly couldn’t stand the guy, even though he loves working with dogs, and is trying his best with his adopted mother, who has Alzheimer’s. The way he’s suspicious toward the aw shucks, Mary Sue type heroine with a heart of gold for no reason made me want to chuck this guy out of the story and give the heroine a better hero. Because I couldn’t stand the hero, even when he does a slight redemption attitude adjustment, was too late in coming, especially when he freaks out on the heroine when he finds she’s a *GASP* secret author of erotic romance. Seriously, WTF?

 

Valerie is a school teacher who also has a secret part-time job writing romances. No one knows, especially her preacher father who’s very stern and opinionated about Valerie even though she’s a grown woman and goes to church every Sunday. He also thinks she’s lazy and selfish because she has the summer off and won’t jump when he tells her to volunteer her time helping her fellow church goers. He doesn’t seem to care that she spends most of her free time reading to retirees at a nursing home, and taking care of a rambunctious pooch while one of the ladies there recovers from a surgery. Valerie also has a bad case of writers block, and may not meet her deadline in six weeks. But then she meets Griffin, whose mother is living at the retirement home Valerie volunteers at.

Griffin is a jerk to Valerie the moment they meet. He has a big chip on his shoulder stemming back to when his mother told him he was adopted, and his worries about his new K-9 dog he’s training who doesn’t obey like he should. He snaps and growls at Valerie for some odd reason, even before he realizes he’s attracted to her. Even though Griffin has a poor personality, and is very rude to Valerie, she’s also attracted to him all because of his body. She wants him even though he’s a jerk. Also he helps motivate her with her writing.

 

Eventually Griffin becomes a bit more humble where Valerie is considered, and courts her with dates and the like, more as a thank you for her helping out with his mother who can’t remember him, which gets him angry and upset at the world. He’s constantly stiff and gritting his teeth, unless he’s hanging out with his own dog or having sex with Valerie. For some reason, he then thinks she’s the one, but that is thrown out the window when he finds out she has a big secret that proves she untrustworthy. She should have told him she writes romance novels! The nerve of her.

 

Welcoming the Bad Boy was not a welcoming read because of Griffin. I didn’t mind Valerie, even though she was a goodie-goodie Mary Sure most of the time, but she did have heart. I just couldn’t see her being happy in the long term with Griffin, which means I don’t believe in their HEA. I can see Griffin in a few years forcing Valerie to give up her writing and choose him and be the happy homemaker with their children and dogs.

 

A big pass on this one.

Review: Saving Sara

Saving Sara (Redemption Series) - Nicola Marsh

Saving Sara by Nicola Marsh is a tearjerker because of the subject matter regarding the hero and heroine. Both go through major losses, which they have to recover and heal from. There’s also a great secondary May/December romance featuring the hero’s aunt and a doctor almost twenty years younger then her, who once was friends with her daughter she barely talks to or sees. Contemporary Romance fans will mostly like enjoy this small town romance, but the romance between the main couple almost takes a back seat to the issues that have to face in order to move on from their emotional prisons. Sara has moved into her deceased grandmother’s house. She’s still mourning the death of her three year old daughter from almost two years ago. She divorced her workaholic husband who she blames for their daughter’s death. Sara still has immense guilt and can barely find the will to go on. She has become a hermit who doesn’t do much than go through her grandmother’s things. But that changes when she meets her neighbor, Cilla, a widow of twenty years who loves to garden and paint. Sara was once a big painter but gave it up for a well paying job and a family. Cilla is friendly, but Sara keeps her distance. But Sara is in for more surprises when Cilla’s nephew Jake comes to stay with her, including his six-year-old nephew Olly. Olly’s mother is in rehab, and Jake is his temporary guardian while his mother gets better. Jake hasn’t talked to his Aunt Cilla in twenty years. The reason is his abusive father cut out his aunt after his mother died. Cilla’s dead husband was also emotionally abusive to her, which caused her daughter to leave and never come back. When Jake’s younger sister asks him to take care of his nephew, he does because he wants his sister to get better. Olly is a scared and angry little boy Jake can’t seem to help. So he turns to Cilla who may have the magic touch. Cilla invited Jake and Olly to stay with her, which may help him and Olly bond. Cilla loves having Jake and Olly stay with her because she has been so lonely, although she has the possibility of a romance with a much younger man (he’s in his early 40s), and a doctor to boot. But Cilla has major reservations. She is almost like Sara in that aspect, haunted by her miserable marriage even twenty years later. Surprisingly Sara becomes a member of their ragtag family because of Olly who is the only one who can reach her self-imposed walls. And there’s Jake who wants to be friends with Sara, and perhaps more if she’s willing to accept his help and a shoulder to rely on. Saving Sara is about saving Sara and her demons, but its also about forgiveness and redemption in the small town of Redemption. Sara, Jake, Cilla, and even Olly have a lot of emotional baggage. As the story is revealed, we see different sides to these characters, and how they do help each other find peace, and eventually joy that surrounds them. There are some heartwarming scenes, combined with heartbreak. Watching these four learn to trust one another, and the world around them is the big HEA. As for an HEA I want in any romance I read, Saving Sara had that when it comes to Sara and Jake. You won’t be disappointed, although I was more interested in Cilla and her back and forth with the young sexy doctor who has been in love with her for almost two decades. The love scenes are adequate, but nothing too descriptive or emotional. The sensuality factor may not matter because the sex isn’t an important factor to further the plot along. Saving Sara is a sold romance with a great Women’s Fiction tone, and a satisfactory summer or beach read.

Review: Everything We Keep

— feeling misdoubt
Everything We Keep: A Novel - Kerry Lonsdale

Everything We Keep starts during a funeral, which should have been a wedding. The wedding was supposed to be Amiee's to her childhood sweetheart, James. But it's his funeral. He was found dead on a business trip to Mexico. Amiee is inconsolable because James was her soul mate, her everything. Not the $200,000 plus dollars Thomas, James's older brother (money that would have been Amiee's if she married James) gives her can help her recover from the loss. Also her parents sold their restaurant Amiee expected to run when her parents retired. Amiee always dreamed of opening her own restaurant, while James would open his own art gallery. James always loved to paint, even though he had to hide it from his parents who had plans for him to run his family's company. Then there is James's cousin Phil, who makes Amiee very uncomfortable, not just because James never liked him and tried to steal Amiee from James, but something he did to Amiee that almost scarred her for life.

 

Amiee is having a hard time adjusting at losing James. It because worse when she's approached by a a female psychic who says James may still be alive. That really throws Amiee for a loop because if he's alive, where is he and why wouldn't he come back to her? Everyone around her she trusts says James is dead, so why would they lie to her. Eventually Amiee moves on with her life, even opening her own cafe. She meets an artist named Ian, who is fine with being friends with her, but she has a small attraction toward him. Even though James is dead, she is faithful to his memory, still wearing her engagement ring, and keeping all his clothes and things at her place over a year later. But then strange things begin to happen. Some of James's painting have gone missing, Thomas acts very strange, and the physic lurks around leaving postcards of paintings in James's style around. Aimee feels like she is going crazy, so the only thing she can do to prove to herself is that James is indeed dead. She will go to Mexico and to the town he was last seen at alive.

 

Everything We Keep reads like women's fiction with a mystery element because of the situation surrounding James's death. The first half of the story if Aimee trying to move on from her deep loss. Through flashbacks we see how Aimee and James met as children, and then their friendship, which also includes James's problems with his parents, and that of his cousins Phil who pops up to cause problems. The second half is Aimee solving the mystery of James's disappearance. What she finds in Mexico should keep reader riveted, but it becomes one big soap opera of implausibility and convoluted storytelling. As Aimee investigate furthers, things become trippy regarding the outcome of James.

 

To explain what happened to James, and the why's is a big spoiler and twist, but not a good one. it comes down to deception, blackmail and possible murder that just doesn't fit with the tone of the book. The reasons for things are eyebrow arching, as in, what in the world is going on? Aimee suffers because of it and doesn't need to. We do feel her pain as readers, but the answers and solutions given are weak and poorly executed. The character of Phil is meant to disgust and appall, but he's a one-dimensional wallpaper mustache twirling caricature that will make you roll your eyes.

 

I did have a soft spot for Aimee, and her supportive friends. Even the men in her life, both James and Ian are well written. Unfortunately the plot and mystery of James and his death is laughable. Also the "prologue" leaves things open ended in a way that is a big if a manipulation to keep the reader interested in a second book, if there is indeed one.

 

Everything We Keep should have concentrated on a woman's loss of a love one, and her emotional recovery, and become empowered. Instead we get a weak suspense mystery type chick lit novel that failed for this reader.

Review: A Promise of Fire

— feeling matrix
A Promise of Fire - Amanda Bouchet

A Promise of Fire by debut author, Amanda Bouchet should feed the appetite for those looking for an alternative world that has magic and romance, and a nice GRRM’s Game of Thrones feel, combined with Elizabeth Vaughan’s Warland Chronicles. The heroine is a spunky loner with incredible powers, and the hero is a Warlord who isn’t necessarily obsessed with fighting and going to war. The main couple clashes from the beginning, which is great foreplay for both as they have a grudging respect for one another, which transforms into full blown love, and a whole lot of lust (awesome steamy love scenes). A Promise of Fire had me hooked from the first chapter, and didn’t let up until the last page. This will be one of my top recommended reads for 2016.

 

Cat has been hiding for 8 years. She travels with a circus of sorts that entertains, as well as sells crafts and other wares. Cat lives in fear her cruel mother will find her and torture her again. Cat has incredible power at her fingertips. By touching someone, she knows if they lie, which causes her intense pain, including her blood, which if spilled, may put her in danger from those who hunt her. She’s a wanted woman. One day while at a bazaar of sorts, she catches the eye of a very noticeable warrior, who she can tell is a Warlord. He has the title of Beta Sinta, also know as Griffin. His sister is the queen of distant land, and he protects her and his family. He wants Cat to find out by touch, which of his men is a traitor. She does that no easily for a coin, but Griffin has tricked her. He know knows she’s the Soothsayer, aka truth finder he needs. He basically kidnaps her and will bring her back to his family and castle, thinking she’ll accept her new role because he’ll offer her protection and other wonderful things, such as shelter, clothes and food.

 

Cat trusts no one, not even the hunky Griffin who his loyal men would die for. As they go on the road, so to speak, she gets to know Griffin better. He’s really not that bad of a guy. He teases and taunts her to he dismay, but she can’t help but be attracted to him. The same goes for him. But danger is all around the, including dragons! Yup, here be dragons, and other creatures intent to do harm.

 

The first half is about Cat and Griffin, and his motley crew on the road. Once they enter Griffin’s lands, things lighten up a bit. Griffin tries to court Cat. He doesn’t just want to sex her up, but wants her in a committed relationship, meaning marriage and children. Cat wants Griffin, but she lives in fear everyone she cares for or loves will be taken away from her like they did when she was a child by her maniac mother. Griffin must convenience her she’s now safe. He would die for her, and protect her from all harm, which worries her.

 

A Promise of Fire is a very entertaining story. The world building is excellent, but easy to follow. Cat is like an actual cat. She spits and snarls, but also purrs when it comes to Griffin. Her banter with him and his brothers in arms lifts the scene, and there are many moments of humor. Griffin is your typical swoony lovable hero. He falls for Cat first, which seems a bit too fast. I felt their relationship still needed some more time to grow. It ramps up in the final 50 pages, complete with many love scenes and promises of love and what some readers may feel is a HEA.

 

Greek mythology is also intertwined here with other mystical folklores. The characters are very engaging, especially Griffin’s sisters. The villains, which are more in flashbacks from Cat’s POV don’t come across as well as they should have. Sometimes I felt Cat’s past was brushed over and not  given enough dimension in order to feel the tension and danger Cat must constantly look out for. But overall I enjoyed A Promise of Fire.

 

Amanda Bouchet is an author to keep your eye on. I look forward to more in this world she created, and of Cat and Griffin who I don’t think we have seen the last of.

Review: Just Kiss Me

— feeling kissed
Just Kiss Me - Rachel Gibson

Just Kiss Me by Rachel Gibson is a Contemporary romance with a Chick-Lit feel, including a soap opera all wrapped into one. There are many secrets that come out after the death of the heroine’s mother, and her love/hate relationship with the family her mother worked for. The heroine is at times a contradiction, whereas the hero is the typical type of hero you would find in this type of romance, although their romance is a bit tepid and their chemistry does seem rushed.

 

Vivian is a big time celebrity. She’s an actress who has fame, fortune and many fans due to a hit sci-fi movie series, much like The Hunger Games. She has returned to her hometown for her mother’s funeral. When Vivian was growing up, she and her mother lived at the cottage house owned by the Shulers. Vivian hated it because she always thought the Shulers, mainly the mother and eldest son turned their noses down on Vivian and her mother. Harrison the eldest has also moved away and made big money in finance, but then came back to do carpentry. When he sees Vivian in the flesh again after so many years, he doesn’t have many fond memories of her. He felt she was a brat, had no respect for authority, and was way too nosy for her own good. She knows a big secret from his past that he’s ashamed of, and the consequences of his actions regarding that secret still haunts him. But he’s the keeper of secrets on behalf of his family, which not only concerns his mother, and younger brother, but Vivian and her mother.

 

Vivian is torn up inside about her mother’s death. She loved her mother dearly, although her mother had some mental problems she tried to hide. Vivian is also surprised to find out her mother owned the cottage house on the Shuler property, and eventually became friends with Mrs. Shuler, who Vivian felt never cared for her. But Harrison’s mother now shows a different side to her Vivian can respect. But she still thinks Vivian is beneath her in regards to status. (Funny since Vivian is one of the best actress in Hollywood and a millionaire.) She’s also confused about Harrison, who she has a hard time figuring out. And then they both make the mistake of acting on this strange attraction for one another, with really stresses Mrs. Shuler out. Harrison wants a shot with Vivian, even though her life is in California, and his in Charleston. And again there are all those secrets the Shulers are hiding that eats away at Harrison because it could ruin his new relationship with Vivian who makes him the happiest he has been in a while.

 

Just Kiss Me should please those readers who enjoy a soap opera element to their romance. The main tone is more on the lighthearted end, with some humor mixed in, but there is some angst and drama, mainly from Harrison. He’s very stiff and proper, even when he’s trying to cut loose with Vivian. These two are opposites in every way, and sometimes I had a hard time believing their attractions and chemistry for one another.

Vivian seemed to grow up with a loving mother, sans a father, but she acts as if she was neglected most of the time. She was a wild child with a chip on her shoulder. Also there was instances she was made fun of because she was fat, although she is now a size 0 as an actress. It’s obvious she still has issues stemming from her childhood because of the role she and her mother played with the Shulers. Harrison’s mother is not the villain Vivian makes her out to be, and Harrison’s younger brother Spence eats up the pages whenever he appears, even more so than Harrison.

 

Just Kiss Me didn’t blow me away, but it was an enjoyable read, although the ending was a bit too pat for me to be behind it one-hundred percent. This would be a good beach read to lose yourself in for a few hours.

Review: Rock Wedding

— feeling amazing
Rock Wedding - Nalini Singh

Rock Wedding (Rock Kiss #4) by Nalini Singh is about the end of a marriage, which comes back full circle for the main couple who must get past a world of hurt in order to find happiness with one another. Nalini has always tackled some hard topics and dealt some heavy emotions, especially when it comes to the hero and heroine, and the traumas they experience in order to find happiness, and become much better people when all is said and done. While I read, there were times I had to stop because the pain and suffering from Sarah and Abe was so palatable. This is not a lighthearted romance, even though there is great chemistry and steamy lovemaking between the main couple. There’s a great deal of angst because of their past. For Sarah, it’s her distant past of when she was a child. For Abe it’s only in recent years past because of his drug and alcohol abuse, which makes him attack Sarah during their short marriage. One night she ended up walking out of him, not just because of his downward spiral drug abuse, but his cruel words, his lashing out at her, who always thought she wasn’t good enough for him or worthy of his love because he’s a mega rich rock star, and she’s a lowlife who doesn’t deserve a loving husband, happy marriage or children.

 

Sarah has been divorced for two years from Abe, who she thought was the love of her life. Abe is a megastar celebrity, aka a rock star of a band who basically swept her off her feet. Sarah grew up an orphan barely living paycheck to paycheck. She met Abe during a party she snuck into with a friend, caught Abe’s eye, and he became her Prince Charming. She married him, but their marriage was full of mistrust and sadness. Because Abe had a bad alcohol and drug problem, he never treated Sarah with the respect she deserved. His self torture is compounded because of the death of his beloved younger sister who died from a horrible illness when she was just a little girl. Sarah also suffers because she miscarried their child. Because Abe won’t let Sarah comfort him as he remembers the day his younger sister died, he lashes out at Sarah, using cruel words and taunts that makes her finally leave him. She divorces him, and now two years later is running her own business and appears to be happy. But Sarah isn’t. She made a big mistake after she left Abe, which is discussed right from the beginning involving another man. But because of her failed relationship, and aftermath with that man, it brings Abe back into her life.

 

Abe is now clean and sober and wants a second change with Sarah, who wants nothing to do with him. They both still share the same circle of friends, which makes it hard for Sarah and Abe not to interact with one another. But when Abe’s bandmate gets married to a woman who has become a close friend with Sarah, she is forced to be with her former husband. Sarah is much stronger and wiser when it comes to dealing with Abe, who is a changed man. She’s willing to have a tentative relationship with him, and perhaps even friendship. But the attraction between the two is as strong as ever.

 

One thing leads to another one night, and they have sex. Because of that, Abe wants to be a part of Sarah’s life again because there was a consequence of their intimacy that forces them to confront their former marriage, and to decide if they should chance another shot of a future together, even though things between them are still very shaky and uncertain.

 

Rock Wedding deals with the loss of a marriage and the difficult steps it takes to rebuild that marriage again. Sarah and Abe have a lot of issues to work on, and not just Abe’s substance abuse, but his guilt over the death of his sister, including two big losses in Sarah’s life that makes her feel less than a wife and a mother. Sarah may love her independence and her circle of friends who support her, but she still longs for a family and a home to call her own. She wants that traditional marriage, husband and children, but it has eluded her. Abe is the one who will give it to her even though the first time around with their relationship was violate because Abe never showed the true person behind his public persona to Sarah. He has his work cut out for him. Sarah has to decide whether to trust him even though he may burn her again.

 

Rock Wedding hits you hard in the gut for a romance. Even though Abe is the main person at fault for ruining his marriage with Sarah, you want him to succeed in winning her heart back. Sarah isn’t some pushover who will take Abe back just because he may have changed for the better. He has to work at it, which he does. His courtship of his ex-wife is very sweet, endearing, and sexy. The only problem I had was that these two is that they should have attended some sort of couples’ therapy or received some professional advice. I think if they had seen someone in a professional setting, it would have been a bit more believable for me, rather than just using the, love heals all wounds trope. But Nalini does make a good case for why Sarah and Abe belong together again. Their interactions and discussions about themselves and their former marriage helps move the story along in a satisfactory manner.

 

Rock Wedding is one romance that may hit you in the gut and cause you to shed a tear, but Sarah and Abe’s journey for their HEA is well worth.

SPOILER ALERT!

Review: Love On My Mind

— feeling cyclop
Love On My Mind - Tracey Livesay

Love On My Mind by Tracey Livesay is a hard book to rate. I love the premise and the first half of the book, especially because it features a hot geeky hero who enjoys being a hermit, and the heroine who is a smart, savvy and tenacious. Plus this is an interracial romance because of the POC heroine. But then the last half falters big time because of the overall characterizations of the main couple, especially the descriptions the author uses to describe the physical attributes of the heroine. Also, there’s a sudden twist on why the hero is awkward and why he acts the way he does, which seems thrown into the story for no reason other than to try an add another layer of emotion for the reader that ultimately doesn’t work.

 

Chelsea is a queen at PR. She has worked hard, giving up much of a social life to become a woman many can admire. It goes back to her unfortunate childhood that made her feel alone and forgotten. But Chelsea is a survivor, even though she is mainly all work and no play. If she wants to her biggest dream to come true, which means a cushy job title and a big raise, she has to fix tech geek Adam, who is doesn’t do well during big media conferences, especially the type where he’s the star because he was picked as People’s Sexiest Man Alive. Adam is very handsome and extremely intelligent, but he doesn’t do well in social settings. He prefers to work from home and not be bothered by ridiculous interview questions from the media on whether he wears boxer or briefs. Soon he’ll be launching a historic media device (think of the iPhone), and has to be engaging and welcoming with the public. Since he’s acts much like a robot, he needs some lessons in how he should dress and act with reporters. Chelsea’s firm is hired by Adam’s partner, and she is picked for the job even though she has to be sneaky about how she approaches Adam. He refuses any help, and if he figures out Chelsea has to “fix” him, he’ll refuse her and possibly act even worse than he did when he was forced to do a press conference for the Sexiest Man of the Year award.

 

Chelsea has her work cut out for her, but thanks to a horrible storm, she ends up at Adam’s house pretending to be lost. She pretends to be his neighbor for a short time, as she has rented a house near his for her “vacation”. At first Adam isn’t thrilled with Chelsea because she invades his privacy, but then he relents. He even does something out of left field for him. When she tells him she works in the entertainment industry, he asks her for advice to help him with his launch. She accepts and gives him tips on how to act and how to dress (goes shopping with him). She even gives him a full body massage to help him relax, which does things for his libido. Soon these two are more than just friendly neighbors, and now Chelsea has crossed a big line. Does she tell Adam the truth or keep her real identity and job quiet until he does his launch? Adam hates liars, and Chelsea has become one by default because of how important her career is, even though she is falling hard for him.

 

Love On My Mind should have been a meet cute type of romance, but right from the start there is deception from Chelsea because she lies to Adam. It becomes even worse because she ends up having a sexual relationship with him, AFTER Adam explains how his last girlfriend lied and used him. He hates liars and fakes, which Chelsea is because of this assignment. Also Adam thinks he’s damaged and can’t figure out people for one reason that is thrown out almost toward the end- Adam has Asperger’s, but on the lower spectrum. I really didn’t understand why Adam had to have Asperger’s as to explain why he is the way he is. As if his handicap is to blame for being deceived, which if he was “normal”, he wouldn’t have been tricked so easily. Chelsea does have immense guilt at deceiving Adam, but if she told him upfront, there wouldn’t be a story, so what can you do other to keep the deception alive? But as the story moved along, and she has sex with him, she still plays a fraud. After all is said and done, I felt as if her apology and why she did what she did wasn’t realistic, as in the HEA isn’t believable. I just couldn’t see Adam accepting what she did and being fine with it to the point he believes she’s his soul mate.

 

Also since this is an interracial romance, there was too much of an emphasis on Chelsea’s skin color. It seems the author couldn’t explain Chelsea without using “mocha skin” or “chocolate”, which was used again when describing Chelsea’s nipples, as in they were chocolate toned. Adam is Caucasian and is never described as having “vanilla” skin or a penis or even his nipples as “vanilla”. Why does Chelsea get the food description treatment but not Adam? That alone made me twitchy. There are better ways to describe someone’s skin tone. Or perhaps just don’t do it if you can’t do it right?

 

I really wanted to enjoy Love On My Mind. It had some original moments I could appreciate, especially when Adam explains some techie type terms and scenarios to a clueless Chelsea, but I just couldn’t get behind his and Chelsea’s attraction or believe their HEA. I wanted to root for these two, but their characterizations failed on the delivery that should have excelled. This book didn’t.

Review: Wrecked

— feeling alien
Wrecked - Sarah Grimm

Wrecked (Blind Man’s Alibi #1) by Sarah Grimm is a pseudo Nicholas Sparks novel with no HEA to speak of because of what happens with the heroine Emma. Emma has cancer and only has months to live. She meets the hero, Joe, a rock star who loves to drink and party hard even though he wants to be a better man because of Emma, who brings sunlight and rainbows into his world. They have a chance encounter that will change both their lives, but the drama and Emma’s possible death looms constantly is a big downer. Also Joe’s crutch for alcohol to the point he’s probably an alcoholic has no real reason than to create more tension and drama, and takes away from what should be a sobworthy romance. At times the story worked, but other times I slogged through reading because not much is happening, unless Emma and Joe are having sex, which is way too much, or Joe is hugging a bottle of booze.

 

Emma is a successful website designer and graphic artist, so much so that it’s implied she’s a millionaire. But money doesn’t matter to her because she is very ill. She has cancer that eats away at her brain. Knowing her time is limited, she refuses chemo or hospital stays, and will enjoy life as much as she can before she succumbs to her disease. She ends up at a Blind Man’s Alibi show, and locks eyes with the lead singer Joe. She goes backstage, and he treats her like a groupie. Not down with that, she tells him off and leaves. Joe is then smitten because no women has refused him. It’s the start of a beautiful relationship.

 

Eventually Joe apologies and Emma gets to know the man behind the rock star who loves to drink. she even goes on tour with Joe after he invites her. He never thinks it’s strange she can drop her life and travel with him and his band, although she was ready to go to Europe on vacation, or so she tells him. Emma spends her day on the bus with Joe and his band mates, writing in her diary or having a lot of steamy sex with Joe. Does she tell him she’s dying or keep her illness a secret as long as she can so she can enjoy her remaining time with the man who has stolen her heart?

 

Wrecked is what some will call a romance even though there isn’t a HEA for the couple. Most will probably shed a tear or two over this love story, but it lacks some depth and emotion needed in the writing. The pages are mainly filled with Emma and Joe having sex or Joe trying not to get drunk. He comes across as too tortured, while Emma is very positive and happy even with her death sentence. At times I had trouble connecting with these two, or even believing they have an all consuming love affair. Their personalities didn’t mesh well, and I felt Emma could have done better than Joe. I actually preferred her with Joe’s bodyguard Gary who has more of an intriguing personality.

 

Wrecked didn’t leave me wrecked with my emotions like it should have. It was a so-so romance with too many clichés and stereotypes that are used in many books of this nature, even with the tragic ending.

Review: Playing By Her Rules

— feeling cool
Playing By Her Rules (Sydney Smoke Rugby Series) - Amy Andrews

Playing by Her Rules (Sydney Smoke Rugby #1) by Amy Andrews is a solid romance that has a Sports Romance and Second Chance at Reunion mash-up. The main couple are very lovable and cute. Their past is a big roadblock toward their HEA, but the hero will try everything he can to reclaim the heart the only woman he has ever loved- the roving journalist reporter who is thrown for a loop by her ex-boyfriend from high school who broke her heart. The reason her heart was broken may seem a big no-no by the hero, but it fits the tone of the story, and his “sacrifice” to help the heroine move on and do great things.

 

Matilda is a lifestyle columnist waiting for her big break. That comes in the form of Tanner Stone, Australia’s most popular rugby player. He refuses to do any interviews, but when Matilda slips and admits during a meeting she once dated Tanner, her boss forces her to get the scoop on Tanner. If Matilda does, which will be six installments, she’ll get a big promotion.

 

Tanner is thrilled his Tilly is back in his life. He’s going to win her heart again although she hates him for what he did right before she went away to college in the states. She caught him kissing another girl, her arch nemesis, which he planned because he felt Tilly would stick around with him and give up a great future. Tilly has no idea what he did, but he’s going to fix things now. He’ll agree to her interviews, but he’ll treat them more like dates. He wants to show her he far he has come not only in his career, but a softer and generous side to him he hides from the public eye. If he can show Tilly he’s a great guy, then maybe he has a shot with her again.

 

Tanner and Tilly are very cute together, especially when they banter and chat. Tanner is a big flirt with Tilly, who can’t help but eat it up even though she still has issues with what he did to her in high school. But her anger toward him is toned down, especially as she falls under his spell. The love scenes are nicely written and show great chemistry between the two.

 

There’s a great cast of secondary characters, specifically Tanner’s teammates I hope get their own stories in the future.

 

Playing by Her Rules is a sweet beach read that should appeal to Sports Romance fans.

Samhain Publishing

Reblogged from TezMillerOz:
In February this year (see Publishers Weekly link), Samhain Publishing announced a "wind-down", but that they wouldn't shut down "immediately": http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/digital/content-and-e-books/article/69517-samhain-publishing-to-shut-down-operations.html
 
In the past 24 hours, authors have reported receiving an email from the boss at Samhain...saying there must have been a "misunderstanding" because Samhain didn't plan to shut down at all. Start at this Absolute Write link, and read on through the thread: http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?26307-Samhain-Publishing&p=9880866&viewfull=1#post9880866
 
An open letter from an author to Samhain Publishing emphasises the key quote in the original email from Samhain: http://gallagherwitt.blogspot.com/2016/07/an-open-letter-to-samhain-publishing.html
 
So now the Samhain boss claims that "begin the wind-down to close" didn't actually mean the publisher would close at any stage. WTF?!
 
This is a PUBLISHER, let's remember. They publish words for a living. You'd think they'd know what words mean, and which words to use to get their message across effectively. So when there's a "misunderstanding"...to me this says that the Samhain boss DID NOT COMMUNICATE THEIR INTENTIONS EFFECTIVELY.
 
They deal with words for a living, yet don't communicate as well as they should, and they blame everyone else for "misunderstanding" their words.
 
Yeah, no one's buying that gaslighting bollocks.

Review: Idol

— feeling matrix
Idol (VIP Book 1) - Kristen Callihan

Idol (VIP #1) by Kristen Callihan should whet the appetite for fans who gobble up rock star romance like M&Ms. Idol is a prime example of what a rock star romance should have with a rock start hero who takes the stereotype to the max with his partying, drinking, man-ho groupie sexxorin, adrenaline rush when he performs in front of thousands, and teams him up with the extreme opposite regarding the heroine who is closed off and pretty much a hermit in a very small town, almost cut off from the world. What this couple has in common is their pain, which makes them bond in a bone deep way. This bond the hero and heroine has keeps you reading because their suffering and a near, all-consuming love is palatable on each page, although the characterizations are far from perfect, more specifically with Liberty, the heroine, who’s angst and drama seems a bit too canned and almost fake for the purpose to move along the story.

 

Idol starts off with a hilarious bang. Liberty Bell finds a passed out, drunk on her front lawn. He apparently was intoxicated behind the motorcycle and crashed. Liberty is disgusted and appalled by this foul, drunk degenerate. After turning the hose on him, he comes to, and is surly and confrontational, as if Liberty caused him to crash. What Liberty doesn’t know is that he’s Killian, one of the biggest rock stars currently on the planet. Killian has run away from it all because his best friend and band mate Jax tried to kill himself by ODing. Killian blames himself and needs time to reflect and basically hide from his life for awhile. He’s lost his mojo for writing lyrics, playing guitar and singing. He thinks if he stays in some backwater town in the middle of nowhere for a few weeks to lick his wounds, he’ll find his balance again. He doesn’t make a great first impression on Liberty by a long shot, and internally he is a bit insulting to her by calling her plain, and a sad hick. But when she goes out of her way to cook for him even though she’s angry with him for passing out on her lawn like he did, he softens to her big time. He taps down his ego and turns on the charm, including getting his flirt on. Liberty doesn’t fall for it, which makes him very confused because women adore him since he’s this big rock star loved my millions.

 

To Liberty’s dismay, Killian has rented the house next to her. Over the course of the next couple weeks, he annoys her, now acting like a lost puppy in need of a home. He follows her wherever she goes, helps her garden, enjoying the outdoors, and insinuates himself in her life where he expects her to cook for him. It’s actually very endearing and sweet because he’s showing a side to Liberty no one else has seen. He begins to grow on Liberty, who he finds out has a musical background. Her parents were musicians, and she knows how to play the guitar and write music. Killian begins to get his mojo back, and they both start jamming together. Surprisingly Liberty has incredible talent and an amazing singing voice. When she figures out Killian is this big rock star god, he tries to convince her to go on tour with him and his band, more so to keep her with him because Liberty has saved him. What’s a homebody like Liberty, who is still mourning the loss of her parents to do?

 

Idol has many things to recommend. Killian is a very engaging character. His personality is colorful and enjoyable. He embodies the rock star hero to a tee. His interactions with his band mates are great, including some secondary characters, such as his snarky cousin, and his band’s manager, Scottie, this hotter than hot Brit who makes all the ladies lust after him. He also has a nice humorous side to him, and when he realizes he has it bad for Liberty, he’s all in. She owns his heart and soul. Liberty is the problem here. I just couldn’t connect with her or understand her motivations. We have more of a well rounded background regarding Killian, but Liberty is an enigma. Why has she closed herself off from the world and entering close to agoraphobia, which is touched upon but quickly swept under the rug? Her parent’s death has really done a number on her, but it’s hard to understand because she never had a good relationship with them. Her personality is very dry and almost empty. She fades into the background whenever Killian is on the page, or with her. I just couldn’t connect with her or her relationship with Killian. Their chemistry just wasn’t believable for me at all. It seems Killian has latched onto her in an almost unhealthy way because he was vulnerable and lost when he met her. I kept asking myself, why is he so enthralled by Liberty who didn’t impress me at all?

 

Idol has a fairy tale element to it with Killian as the Prince Charming who swoops in and saves the damsel locked in a tower. Liberty’s tower is her self-imposed exile, as well as having no real emotion or feeling. She robotic most of the time, except when it comes to sex with Killian. I wished there was a better explanation for her motives, but she is so monotone and almost lifeless. If Kristen wanted to show how the power of love can bring together two total opposites with Killian and Liberty, she succeeded, but it fell flat. The only excitement with Liberty is her name-Liberty Bell, and her interactions with the hot British stud Scottie (Killian’s manager), who almost complimented her better than Killian.

 

Idol was an enjoyable read, and I will definitely read the next book because it’s about Scottie’s HEA, but the blahness of Liberty and her oh woes is me attitude that’s never really fixed or healed didn’t leave me with a satisfactory feeling when all was said and done. If you can look beyond the characterization of Liberty, and concentrate on Killian and his dedication to Liberty, then you should enjoy Idol more than I did.

— feeling bad egg
How about some cheese with that whine?

Speshul Snowflake Alert!

Reblogged from TezMillerOz:

WTF is this bullshit?! Never mind, dude; you won't be getting ANY review from me.

"a reviewer who thinks he’s complimenting an author with a three-star review is, in fact, hurting that author’s ability to make a living"

The author's WRITING is hurting that.

You want a 4- or 5-star review? EARN IT. Don't blame reviewers for not rating your book highly enough. Don't blame people for not buying.

Review: Alexander Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton - Ron Chernow

The reason I decided to read this specific biography of Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow is because I have a better chance of getting hit by lightening than winning tickets to the Broadway show, Hamilton (the show is based on this book). Anyone who is a history buff, especially American history must read this bio of Alexander Hamilton. I was aware of Alexander Hamilton, and his part in the revolution, as well as his duel with Aaron Burr, the vice president under Jefferson, but I never understood how important Hamilton was, and why we should hold him in high regard next to Washington and the like.

 

Hamilton is responsible for so much in how the US government is run, including many aspects of culture, society and money. Hamilton is the perfect example of an immigrant who came to America and excelled in so many ways. He’s a man many can admire, starting with his rough childhood all because of his mother, who left her first husband and first born son (her husband was abusive), and met Alexander’s father when she may or may have not been still married to her first husband. This was in the Caribbean, where Alexander learned many life lessons, such as the importance of family, reading, become a learned individual, and the rights of all people, including slavery, which he detested.

 

Alexander came to the colonies and worked alongside some great men. Washington was his father figure. Not all was roses with the founding fathers and Alexander. He tumultuous relationships with Jefferson, Madison and Adams. Hamilton was a big  family man with his devoted wife Eliza, who is just as great as her husband. She lived to be 97 years old and found the first private orphanage in NY. She and Alexander had 8 children. Alexander adored Eliza and his children, but his biggest mistake, which make me want to hit him, was having a short term affair at 35 with a 23 year old married woman. Because of that mistake, it has haunted his legacy, even though Eliza forgave him for his indiscretion. He learned from that mistake and tried to live a moral and humble life. Alexander was humble, forsaking big money to work in the new American government when he could have lived big working in a law office. Alexander spent his entire life to making the US government excel in ways that still echo today. He started the Bank of America, which is the oldest stock on the NYE stock exchange, among other amazing ventures that we still use today.

 

Poor Alexander had as many friends as he did enemies. Aaron Burr became one of them. He was the total opposite of Alexander in politics and in the personal. Burr lived life as one big party, always in debt and a big man-ho. He was very manipulative. He becomes the villain of this piece because some would say he murdered Alexander in cold blood during their duel. I found Jefferson was also up there in terms of villains because of the hate he and Alexander had toward one another. Jefferson and Adams are not portrayed fondly here. Alexander thought Jefferson was a hypocrite because he owned slaves and constantly raped Sally, his concubine sex slave, or what have you about that relationship.

What I didn’t know was two years before Alexander’s duel with Burr, his eldest son, Phillip was also in a duel, and died. Alexander was heartbroken over Phillip and never recovered. Some say Alexander dueled Burr because he wanted to die. He wasn’t going to shoot Burr, but Burr shot him, and Alexander died as his son did. Burr was an outcast who lived to the grand old age of 80. Alexander died at 49.

 

History has treated Alexander Hamilton kindly. He had his faults like most people do, but he made up for those faults, including cheating on Eliza, by sacrificing himself for the good of the American people. He is one of the reasons America came to be. I can understand why he was so beloved by many, especially his family, specifically his in-laws. Much can be said about a person when their spouse, children and extended family admires and loves them so, and announces it to all.

 

This is one biography I recommend people read. There are many sections about the Revolutionary War, and Alexander’s part in it. You also feel very patriotic reading about Alexander Hamilton, and want to applaud all his hard work. A truly great man.

Review: The Body Reader

— feeling ghost
The Body Reader - Anne Frasier

Fans of mysteries and thrillers will want to read The Body Reader by Anne Frasier. This type of book may have you up all night reading straight through because the story is gripping and riveting. It reads like an episode of Law and Order or CSI, and has a gritty type atmosphere. It’s also depressing and heartbreaking because of what has happened to the female protagonist, and how her life has been destroyed, ruined and turned upside down because of a sick individual intent on doing her harm, as well as other young women.

 

Jude was once a police detective. Three years ago she was kidnapped and placed in a cage in a basement, constantly degraded, tortured and rape by a stranger. She has no idea why this man took her and treats her worse than a dog. One day her captor got lazy, and she grabbed his taser and tasered the sick perverted puppy. She also ends up killing him. She has escaped her nightmare and darkness, but her life has been destroyed. Her boyfriend is no longer hers, her job is gone, and her hair has turned completely white. But she has a new skill. She has a heightened sense of smell, and by reading the features on someone’s face, she knows what they’re thinking, and if they are lying.

 

Four months after Jude escaped, she’s back at her old job but handled with extreme care. Her new partner, Uriah isn’t sure what to make of her. Jude shows no real emotion or personality that makes him want to work with her. Uriah has some trauma in his past also. His wife killed herself, and he takes the blame over it. But he still has to work, and soon Jude and him are working a new case. Young women have been found drowned around the city. Jude thinks there’s more to these murders that meets the eye. Also, Jude’s kidnapper still hasn’t been caught, and the reason she was taken is still unsolved. Not only will she try to figure out why she was a victim, but also find he killer or killers targeting young girls, who now may now target Jude because she’s getting close to solving the case.

 

The Body Reader is a tense filled read. There are many characters that pop up to add to the story, such as Jude’s new landlord, her co-workers she used to work with prior to her kidnapping, her ex-boyfriend who may want her back, and that of her brother and her father, the mayor, both of which she is estranged from. Jude’s past comes full circle regarding the crime against her, which intersects with these murdered and missing women. It may or may not go back to the death of Jude’s mother.

 

The mystery and questions regarding Jude and her current case are on-going until the very end, which may come as a surprise to some readers. I did figure out a part of it early on, but I was still surprised by the villain’s motivation and actions.

 

The Body Reader may make your heart jump in your chest and have you locking all your windows and doors at night. I also think this is a good first book in what I hope will become a series starring Jude. A must read for mystery suspense fans. Also this isn’t a romance.

Review: Then He Kissed Me

— feeling kissed
Then He Kissed Me - Laura Trentham

Then He Kissed Me by Laura Trentham is the second novel featuring the Fournette siblings, who were once considered orphaned swamp rats as children and left to survive the best way they could, with no help from their community. This small town romance spotlights Tallulah “Tally”, the youngest Fournette sibling who owns a gym. Tally has lived in Cottonbloom all her life, and was once a rebellious teen who barely graduated high school. The reason is Tally has dyslexia, and she feels lacking because of it. Her two older brothers have gone on to do great things, but even though she owns a business, and has gained respect within her community, she feels she’s stupid because she has a hard time reading, even though she’s great with numbers. But then her former best friend from childhood returns home- Nash, a former nerd turned college professor with glasses and great muscles who gives her a big boost of self confidence because he thinks she’s amazing, and the one person who touches his soul, unlike anyone else.

 

Nash is your near perfect beta hero. When he was ten, his mother died. His father couldn’t handle her death and left Nash with his aunt (mother’s sister). Before his mother’s death, Tally was his best friend. Nash was bullied and considered a nerd, who also has asthma. When he went to live with his aunt on the other side of the river in a more upscale neighborhood, they lost touch, which the reason why is revealed later in the story. Now Nash is back after working on a big research paper in Europe to teach at the nearby college. He also is back living with his aunt who doesn’t have a high opinion of the Fournette’s for reasons that will also be explained. One night Nash ends up at the same bar Tally is at, and they reconnect. He ends up saving her from her brutish ex-boyfriend, the same man who used to be Nash’s biggest bully in school. Nash wants Tally to be his best friend again. She accepts, although she doesn’t understand why he wants her back in his life. He’s everything she’s not, especially when it comes to knowledge and book smarts. Nash is out to prove Tally wrong why she thinks she’s not worthy of his companionship. Nash is in love with Tally and wants more than friendship.

 

Then He Kissed Me is about two best friends reconnecting, and then becoming lovers. Tally and Nash are sweet people. Nash is everything you would want in a hero. He’s as close as perfect as you can get. He still thinks of himself as a nerd, but he hides it well because everyone around him is in awe of him, especially Tally. They both give each other the big boost of confidence needed in order to have a stable relationship with one another. The way Nash treats Tally is pure gold. He’s not just attracted to her body, but her mind and spirit. He’s beyond smitten with her. Tally has strong feelings for Nash, but she’s always on edge, thinking something bad will happen because of the deaths of her parents, Nash leaving when they were children, and ex-boyfriend who won’t stay away from her, including Nash who he wants to fight.

 

There are nice moments with Nash and his aunt who has secrets of her own regarding Tally’s uncle that was a nice element to what Nash and Tally are going through. The secondary characters also add flavor to the plot. The small town atmosphere here is done well. Nash and Tally also steam up the sheets, and in cars, in very satisfactory ways. Nash may have his nose constantly in a book, or it’s implied, but the man knows how to pleasure his woman. Can’t complain about his technique, and the way Tally also lets loose with him.

 

Then He Kissed Me is a great for contemporary romance fans with a nice couple who find home and  a forever love with one another that started when they were children. Do pick this one up!