Review: Mercury Striking by Rebecca Zanetti

Posted February 20, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 11 Comments

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Review:  Mercury Striking by Rebecca ZanettiMercury Striking by Rebecca Zanetti
Series: Scorpius Syndrome #1
Published by Zebra on January 26th 2016
Genres: Romantic Suspense, Post- Apocalyptic
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars
Heat:three-half-flames

With nothing but rumors to lead her, Lynn Harmony has trekked across a nightmare landscape to find one man—a mysterious, damaged legend who protects the weak and leads the strong. He’s more than muscle and firepower—and in post-plague L.A., he’s her only hope. As the one woman who could cure the disease, Lynn is the single most volatile—and vulnerable—creature in this new and ruthless world. But face to face with Jax Mercury…
Danger has never looked quite so delicious…

Ninety-nine percent of US citizens have been killed by Scorpius, a bacteria. If a person survives the contagion, they became a carrier and could infect other people who have not yet been infected. Rippers are survivors of Scorpius bacterium, that is known to change brain chemistry. Some became sociopaths, some became serial killers, while other people have not changed in to bad of a way. Vitamin B seems to help keep the body protected from itself and the worst of the brain damage. Lynne Harmony, otherwise known as Blue Heart (because of her glowing blue heart) is the head of CDC and is blamed for being responsible with not only creating the virus but also releasing it.

Jax Mercury is the organizer of a group called Vanguard. An ex gangbanger who had joined a military after given a choice between that or prison.

When Lynne Harmony shows up on his doorsteps asking Jax to kill someone for him, he didn’t expect the woman to also peel away his carefully constructed layers and get under his skin. In the new world, Jax does not feel like he could afford that distraction – especially if he knows that Lynne is hiding something from him, something important.

Woah, this was a ride. I absolutely adored every minute of this book. This wasn’t easy to read at times and a warning in advance, do not get attached to too many secondary characters in this book. Zanetti knows how to craft an interesting, eerily real world of what could happen if some type of infection did spread across the US. Think The Walking Dead, without zombies, where the scariest thing left behind is the mind of an organized serial killer – the most dangerous of the kind.

There was just so much going on in this book. We get the sense that Lynne is hiding something big, and it takes a while to reveal what it is. Meanwhile, there is a whole other bunch of issues going on, mainly the fact that a lot of people in the Vanguard territory believe that Lynne and hers Blue Heart are a carrier of a stronger strain of the bacterium, thanks to the rumors that have been spread. Also, there is a huge price tag on her head and a rival gang member called the Twenty keep attacking their compound. It’s just a world wind of awesome.

I liked Jax. I liked his let’s kick ass and take names later persona, it’s very realistic with the situation he is dealing with. He is in charge of about 500 people and the supplies are very limited. You can tell that he is afraid to open up to the people in fear that he would grow to care for them, even people in his own territory. It seems much easier for Jax if he doesn’t have to get close and then watch the people die, because people do die in this world, sooner than others.

I really liked Lynne also because she stayed true to her character most of the time. She isn’t let’s kick butt type of woman, she needs help most of the time, which is okay with me because it kept her real.

This was so good, the writing was amazing and it brought out so many emotions. Anger, frustration, fear, interest, excitement. It seemed so very realistic and Zanetti was not afraid to hold back punches. I was so shocked and upset by some of the secondary character deaths, some took me by complete shock and surprise and even left me angry. I wasn’t expecting it, but isn’t that what makes it a good writer? It isn’t always easy to let go and some of the most shocking scenes can make or break the story.

Overall, I really liked the world that is being built and I cannot wait to see what happens next. The only thing I had an issue with was with what happened to Wyatt and Lynne’s sudden clumsiness at the end of the book. The next book is Raze’s story and I am for one excited about that one. Raze is this man with very few words who showed up on Jax’s turf out of the blue and is highly skilled at what he does.

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Review: Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall

Posted February 15, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 18 Comments

Review:  Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise GornallUnder Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall
Series: Standalone
Published by Clarion Books on January 3rd 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mental Health
Pages: 320
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars
Heat:half-flame

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

At seventeen, Norah has accepted that the four walls of her house delineate her life. She knows that fearing everything from inland tsunamis to odd numbers is irrational, but her mind insists the world outside is too big, too dangerous. So she stays safe inside, watching others’ lives through her windows and social media feed.
But when Luke arrives on her doorstep, he doesn’t see a girl defined by medical terms and mental health. Instead, he sees a girl who is funny, smart, and brave. And Norah likes what he sees.
Their friendship turns deeper, but Norah knows Luke deserves a normal girl. One who can walk beneath the open sky. One who is unafraid of kissing. One who isn’t so screwed up. Can she let him go for his own good—or can Norah learn to see herself through Luke’s eyes?

A story about a seventeen year old girl named Norah and her take on living with agoraphobia, OCD and anxiety.

This was interesting. As someone who hasn’t read a lot of books featuring mental health, I jumped into this unsure what to expect. What I didn’t expect was to read a book from Norah’s point of view. Under Rose-Tainted Skies takes us for quite a ride when we enter Norah’s head and get a taste of what it is to experience everything she is going through, and at times it wasn’t pretty.

Gornall’s debut novel was well written. It wasn’t suppose to be pretty, and we get to know Norah pretty personally.

She spends most of her days at home, afraid to leave her house. She builds stuff out of food and spit, watches junk TV, surfs the web and has to attend therapy at least once a week. Than her life takes a different turn when a boy named Luke moves in next door and he becomes instantly fascinated with her.

I found that I couldn’t put this book down and devoured it fairly quickly with a day with a lack of sleep. Gornall’s writing really pulled me in and immersed me in a story that was both fascinating and not always an easy read. But I love the way Norah prevails everyday despite what she finds herself going through. The snarky tone of the book does make this a lighter read. I adored Norah’s personality and her spunk.

The romance was an interesting twist, but I did find myself wondering how realistic was it really? Luke was a seventeen year old boy, and despite me absolutely adoring the relationship they form and how he sends her letters through the mail slot – I wasn’t completely sold on the romance.

I think my favorite part of the book is the relationship between Norah and her mother. The support she gets from her is moving and the closeness they share just squeezes my heart. It is so good, so refreshing to find wonderful, caring adults in Young Adult fiction and not painted into someone who doesn’t get it, and is downright evil. It was good, it was more of a realistic feel.

The only thing that bothered me about the relationship is when her mother goes away for a few days on a business trip. I didn’t know if it was also really realistic for a mother to leave Norah, given her situation, alone like that when she has so many things going on inside her head and can panic at any given moment. I felt that maybe she would have gotten her like a caregiver or a neighbor to check on her more often?

The ending was also a bit different. The wrench that the author threw into the mix did not make sense unless she intended it to be a way that Norah finally moves forward with her treatment. The ending was a bit open and basically left me wondering what was next. But, I really enjoyed the writing, it was really good. I enjoyed the humor. I was heartbroken by some of the more difficult moments and found myself really connecting and feeling for Norah.

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Happy Valentines Day, Love is in the Air

Posted February 14, 2017 by Lily B in discussion / 20 Comments

Phew! What a month. I hope everyone is enjoying their weather today, where you guys are. I jumped on here to wish all my readers, followers, fellow book lovers and alike a very Happy Valentines Day! I hope you find a way to enjoy your day.

In honor of this day, I got my cup of coffee for the morning, so let’s talk books. Specifically, Romance books with some exceptions. I am going to list my top few favorites and why I liked them, what was it about them that really drew me in and what I am looking forward to reading next. I think this is like my first ever discussion post and I am running on three hours of sleep, so I hope you guys will take it easy on me. I could have posted a review, but I wanted to do something a bit different today. All links are to their respected GR pages.

1. The Hating Game by Sally Thorne 

At the moment The Hate Game is probably my most favorite Romance book of all time to date. I absolutely adored it. I loved the characters, I loved the writing and I am still a bit sad that it ended. Lucy and Joshua’s antagonistic relationship was just so much fun and what made the book. I loved how awkward Josh was and how hard it was for him to express his feelings, but I think that is what made him so much more appealing from the usual alpha males painted in books. Throne does an excellent job with slow burn romance that just made my heart sigh when we start to put the two and two together and how everything unrevealed was just perfect. If you have not read it, not sure what you are waiting for? I cannot recommend this book enough.

Trope? Enemies to lovers.

Slow burn Romance with humor.

2.  Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson

I read this a few years ago, but I still loved this. It was a gripping tale of une

xpected love set in Blackmoore manner. All Kate wanted was to be independent and travel, but her mother had a different idea. When Kate is forced to receive at least three proposals, she enlists the help of her dearest childhood friend Henry in hopes of folding her mother’s plans. It was childhood friends to lovers story, with another slow burn romance and wonderful writing. I absolutely adored this, the characters, the heartwarming romance, the reveal, everything.

Trope? Best Friends to lovers

Slow burn romance, clean romance

3. Kate Daniels by Ilona Andrews 

Not a standalone, but an entire paranormal series.  Kate and Curran are one of my favorite couples in books. I loved their antagonistic relationship, their bickering, and how he seems to show up all the time just when she needs him most. I love him it took a couple of books for the relationship to grow. When I first picked the series up, I couldn’t put it down, it was everything with amazing writing and a really great cast of main and secondary characters. Plus, I loved how independent Kate was and she was quick to remind Curran that she can handle herself. The storyline always kept me on my toes. I binged on this for days and really need to find more time to catch up.

4. Charley Davidson by Darynda Jones

Another one of my all time favorite series. Charley and Reyes are an amazing duo and one of my favorite couples. I just love Reyes and his dark alpha male tendencies. He first meets Charley when they are younger and as his tragic past unfolds, I couldn’t help but feel for him. His character is so original and creative and their relationship is super unique and gets more dangerous as the story unfolds. Jones’ writing just hooks you, so does her storyline and characters. I love Charley and I love her best friend Cookie. It’s funny, it’s entertaining, and it just keeps getting hectic.

5.  On Second Thought by Kristan Higgins

This book surprised me and blew my expectations of it out of the water. It was just so good. I loved the humor, I loved the plot. It was difficult to read at times, but Higgins did such an amazing job with writing these two sisters. I think I have this as one of my favorites because of Ainsley and Jonathan and their relationship reminds me a lot of Lucy and Joshua from The Hating Game. Jonathan is very awkward and doesn’t know how to display his emotions well, but the romance, holy cow it was so swoon worthy and when the reveal came I was so giddy! I recommend this book just as strongly as The Hating Game. It’s a story of heartbreak, love and just how strong a sister relationship bond can form. It will make you laugh, it will make you cry, and it will make you swoon.

Honorable Mention

RaeAnne Thayne – You probably cannot go wrong with most of her books. Thayne writes slow burn, really sweet, clean and wonderful romance. Her Christmas books are one of my few favorite out there. There is just something about her writing and her characters that makes me fall in love every single time. If you haven’t tried her yet either, I recommend her. I haven’t tried anything but her Holiday books yet, but Christmas in Snowflake Canyon is one of my favorites from her with an interesting, amusing storyline, great characters and wounded war heroes.

 

Currently Reading

  1.  Mercury Striking (The Scorpius Syndrome #1) by Rebecca Zanetti  – Dystopia, virus, hot romance, new to me author. Loving this already cannot wait to see how it plays out. Been a while since I read a dystopia novel, especially an adult one.
  2.  How to Tame a Beast in Seven Days (The Embraced #1) by Kerrelyn Sparks – paranormal, new series, new to me author, arranged marriage. I was itching for something different and a few blogger friends loved it, so I decided to pick it up. Enjoying this. Love paranormal.

 

What are you reading? what do you recommend? What is your favorite romance so far this year or last?

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Review: Highland Vixen by Mary Wine

Posted February 13, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 7 Comments

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Review:  Highland Vixen by Mary WineHighland Vixen by Mary Wine
Series: Highland Weddings #2
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on February 7th 2017
Genres: Historical Romance, Scotland
Pages: 384
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars
Heat:three-flames

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Fierce Highland war chief seeks comely lass for fun, frolic, and marriage
Marcus MacPherson is every inch the fearsome Highlander. He's used to men averting their eyes and women cowering before him. He thinks he'll eventually settle down with a nice, obedient bride. Instead, he gets Helen Grant... Stubborn as the day is long, fearless and dedicated to raising as much hell as possible, Helen is definitely going to challenge Marcus. And challenge him some more. And then some.
It's anyone's guess who'll win this battle of the heart...

I didn’t actually know what to expect from this book. I wanted something Highlander, and Mary Wine’s book jumped out at me. I have not read her before, and she is a new to me author who has pleasantly surprised me.

Highland Vixen jumped into a story leading from book one, so if you haven’t read book one, like me, I strongly suggest starting from there so you don’t have to face the same confusion.

The book opens up with Helen and Brenda Grant escaping the MacPherson Castle and looking for shelter at Court. Helen was a captive in the MacPherson castle because Marcus took her as a prize, but her life wasn’t bad by any means. The last thing Helen wants to do is sit around and wait for the Laird to marry her off.

Helen and Brenda end up at court, where they are immediately called to Earl of Morton’s attention. Morton is a regent of Scotland, and seems to think he can wield power over the Highlanders. So when Marcus shows up at Court in order to bring Helen back, he is stuck under Morton’s claws, who wants Marcus to marry a girl barely 14 to strengthen alliances. Disturbed by the prospect of sleeping with a 14 year old girl, Marcus refuses, ends up in chains and Helen comes to his rescue with the prospect of marriage to her in order to save them.

This was an interesting read. Once I was able to get used to the writing and the dialect, I found myself fully immersed in the story. It did take some time to put the pieces together, since I have not read the first book, but other reviews helped with that.

I really enjoyed the fact that it wasn’t just a romance novel, there was a lot going on, there was a full storyline with the Earl of Morton trying to cause trouble for Helen and Marcus, bringing in other clans into the fold to try and get in their way.

I was confused about why Helen and Brenda went to look for safety in Court, mainly since the two seem to be aware of Earl of Morton and just how despicable and awful the man is. It seems to me the entire situation could have been avoided. I also still am not entirely sure who Brenda is to Helen and how Helen did not come to help her friend after the escape. Especially now that they know what Morton is capable off as he tried to derail Marcus and Helen at every turn.

The romance itself was actually pretty good. I loved that there was some resistance from Helen at first considering the rocky start the two had, but I loved Marcus and his patience. He wasn’t really good at charming his new bride by any means, considering he is the War Chief of clan MacPherson and his wooing skills are zilch next to nothing. The bickering and the growing attraction were a major plus in this book amidst all the danger and excitement thrown their way.

I liked the secondary characters and their storylines and wonder how this series will progress. Well, now I am finding myself invested and hope to learn what will become of them in the future and how it will play out. Especially since the issues with the Earl of Morton have still been unresolved.

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Review: The Billionaire Bachelor by Jessica Lemmon

Posted February 9, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 15 Comments

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Review:  The Billionaire Bachelor by Jessica LemmonThe Billionaire Bachelor by Jessica Lemmon
Series: Billionaire Bad Boys #1
Published by Forever on June 30th 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars
Heat:four-flames

Indecent Proposal
Manwhore. That's what the board of directors-and the tabloids-thinks of billionaire bachelor Reese Crane. Ordinarily he couldn't care less, but his playboy past is preventing the board from naming him CEO of Crane Hotels. Nothing-and no one-will keep him from his life's legacy. They want a settled man to lead the company? Then that's exactly what he'll give them.
Merina Van Heusen will do anything to get her parents' funky boutique hotel back-even marry cold-as-ice-but-sexy-as-hell Reese Crane. It's a simple business contract-six months of marriage, absolute secrecy, and the Van Heusen is all hers again. But when sparks fly between them, their passion quickly moves from the boardroom to the bedroom. And soon Merina is living her worst nightmare: falling in love with her husband . . .

I was looking for something different to read when I came across The Billionaire Bachelor and figured I could give it a shot.

Boy was I rewarded with a fun story, great characters and a romance that sizzles long after the pages are done.

The Plot

Two hotel owners collide when Merina Van Heusen discovers that her precious hotel has been sold off to Crane Hotels.

Reese Crane is on track of making CEO, there is just one problem, the board of directors do not seem him fit to take over his father’s position. Reese has lived and breathed Crane hotels ever since he threw himself fully into his family’s legacy, and now a bunch of old man, who don’t approve of his lifestyle, are standing in the way of him losing everything.

Now, Reese much ditch his playboy lifestyle and settle down, and who do better with than a woman who hates his guts. But, Reese has something that Merina wants, and knows she is perfect to not screw things up.

Oh I loved the plot. It was an enemy to lovers story with a fake marriage that over time succumbs to passion and morphed into something more.

Like a miracle had occurred. Had he grown a conscience? Her eyes narrowed in suspicion. “What’s the catch?”
He smiled, then said two words that made her go temporarily blind in one eye.
“Marry me.”

It was fun, it was exciting and it was something totally different from my recent reads so I was glad to have discovered this. I was totally engrossed with the plot, hooked, line and sinker. I was unable to put this book down and was cranky from the lack of sleep, but it seemed totally worth it.

The plot was totally character driven and I loved both equally with their prickly personalities. I loved that there was a build up and the way things played up, with even a bit (a little bit) of angst thrown in at the end. The story was everything I wanted and more.

The Characters

Merina and Reese were definitely the stars of the show. Thought I love the fact that this is book one in a trilogy of Crane brothers – because I totally adored Tag and cannot wait to read his story.

Reese was passionate, calculating, and a bit detached. He has a story and it consists of heartbreak that left him running for the hills when it comes to relationships. So marrying was equivalent of having a lobotomy, I’m sure.

He likes his women, he doesn’t like emotions or exposing his weak side. Reese does not want to get hurt ever again after that devastating heartbreak, which made him a little frustrating in the end when the possibility of love came pounding on his doorsteps. He get’s closed up, but he opens up with Merina without even trying to show that he actually does care and in turn exposes his heart.

Merina was prickly and I really liked her and her spunk. She really knew how to get under Reese’s skin and the two worked and clicked so well together. There was heat, there was steam, and a romance that absolutely sizzled. The chemistry was explosive, it didn’t feel forced, and kept things completely engrossing and interesting.

I adored these two so much that I am going to miss them.

Overall

Overall, this entire book was a win. I did have one issue and that was at the end where everything Reese has been trying to avoid, catches up to him and he closes down. I did realize that it’s a part of him that kept him protected from heartbreak, so it did make sense that he had responded the way he did, but at the same time Merina was different. I wanted to throttle him for being so stupid.

When the fog cleared, he did redeem himself and the story ended on a touching note. I loved seeing the vulnerable side of him.

The writing was good, the characters were well rounded, raw, real, emotional, sprinkled with humor. It kept me turning the pages, and will keep me coming back to find out what the author has in store for me next!

“Are you capable of being monogamous?” It was easier to needle him than address the gauntlet resting between them like a huge pink elephant.

“I don’t prefer it.”

Which was no answer at all.

“So this is a bribe.”

“It’s a proposal.” One eyebrow lifted slightly. “In this case, literally.”

“When a woman says ‘fine’…,” he started.

“Run.” Tag’s smug expression fell as he sat ramrod straight. “Like you have zombies on your tail. ‘Fine’ is not a term of endearment from a woman.”

“Yeah, that’s what I thought.”

Tag’s eyes went to Reese’s phone. “Who gave you the F-word?”

“Merina. In answer to my marriage proposal.” He leaned on his desk, hands folded. “I’m assuming that’s a yes.”

“You should assume the position, man. That does not sound like a good sign.”

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Review: The Christmas Ranch by RaeAnne Thayne

Posted February 7, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 12 Comments

Review: The Christmas Ranch by RaeAnne ThayneThe Christmas Ranch by RaeAnne Thayne
Series: Cowboys of Cold Creek #13
Published by Harlequin on November 18th 2014
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Holiday
Pages: 224
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Heat:one-flame

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS
Hope Nichols has never felt as if she belonged anywhere, except her hometown of Pine Gulch. So, when she hears that her family's property, Christmas Ranch, is set to be shut down forever, a determined Hope heads home. She refuses to let the Grinch steal her holiday—this will be the most memorable ranch Christmas ever! And, thanks to hunky former navy SEAL Rafe Santiago and his adorable nephew, she might just pull off that miracle.
Rafe is undeniably drawn to Hope and her passion for rebuilding her family home. But he knows more about Hope's tragic past than even she herself could imagine. And though she doesn't know it, she owes him her life. And all he wants in return is for her to spend it with him…

I think I might be a little obsessed. After finishing the last book in the Nichol’s sister trilogy, I came to a surprising realization that somewhere along the way, I did not read the first book. That was unacceptable, so I had to remedy that quickly. I was pleasantly surprised I already had the book on my kindle and dove right in it.

Guys, I cannot believe I somehow put off reading these books. I am totally kicking myself because I just love them so much. I fell in love with all the characters and I find that I truly am going to miss them. I am glad Thayne wrapped everything up on high note and even gave us a glimpse at what’s in store for the sisters.

The Christmas Ranch is actually the first book in this awesome, romantic and sweet series. It features Hope, the middle sister. Hope watched her father get shot at a rescue mission that went terribly wrong. Rafe Santiago was a rookie, who felt responsible for not being fast enough to save the young girl’s father. The last thing Rafe expected was to end up running into Hope Nichols, the girl he pulled away screaming into the helicopter and the guilt that came attached after. Hope doesn’t remember him, but after his nephew puts a nice hole in her car window with a rock, Hope finds a way into his life.

This was super cute. I loved Rafe in the other books and needed to know how it all began. Rafe is so much different than the other men in this series. He is an ex Navy Seal, he rescued Hope and her sisters from the people that held them hostage, and he carries a lot of guilt.

The romance was just what I expected from Thayne, it was sweet, clean, slow, and just what I needed in the past few gloomy and rainy days.  I just can’t seem to get enough of her writing.

I adored Hope and how she wanted to restore The Christmas Ranch despite the fact that her sister’s at first were so against it. The ranch was failing, there wasn’t much money made out of it and most of it was falling apart. Until Hope comes along, and tries to breath life back into the place that has been a staple in the community. With the help of Rafe and his nephew, it might just happen after all.

Rafe was amazing, and I loved watching him try to become a father figure to his nephew. He doesn’t tell Hope at first who he is and she doesn’t remember him. So it was interesting to see how it would all unfold.

I was confused by Faiths response to him when she sees him. She’s angry, but thankful to him at the same time? It was a bit confusing.

Overall, it’s a great beginning to a wonderful heart-touching, heart-melting, cozy romance series that will stay with me long after.

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Review: The Holiday Gift by RaeAnne Thayne

Posted February 6, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 16 Comments

Review:  The Holiday Gift by RaeAnne ThayneThe Holiday Gift by RaeAnne Thayne
Series: Cowboys of Cold Creek #15
Published by Harlequin on November 22nd 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Holiday
Pages: 224
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars
Heat:one-flame

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

A COWBOY FOR CHRISTMAS
With two kids and an active life, widow Faith Dustin only wants peace and quiet for Christmas. But her snowy Pine Gulch ranch is nothing but chaotic. All that keeps Faith going is her helpful neighbor, cowboy Chase Brannon. He's always been "good ol' Chase," her faithful friend. Until he kisses her under the mistletoe…
Years ago Chase blew his chance with the woman he's loved since childhood. Now he's determined to step out of the friend zone…and into the role of husband. But the scared and stubborn Faith won't let herself fall. With Christmas just days away, Chase will need all the magic of the season—and the help of her two matchmaking children—to unwrap a second chance at love.

The Holiday Gift is the third and last book in the Nichols sister’s, this time featuring Faith Dustin, who is the oldest of the trio.

Faith has had a rough life. First, her parents die when the girls were really young, than her husband dies in a tragic accident, leaving her with a ranch that was failing and in debt. The only constant in her life, her rock, has been her best friend Chase Brannon.

Chase has always felt like he has been on the sidelines looking in, waiting for the perfect moment to swoop in and tell Faith how he felt about her. In love with her ever since the sisters arrived in town, Chase was never given an opportunity to express his feelings, especially after his best friend married the girl he was in love with.

Now, years after his death, Chase wants the opportunity to show Faith how much she really means to him.

Cute story. I really enjoyed it. I love Thayne books. Every time I pop one open it’s like coming home to curl in next to a warm fire with a cup of chocolate. Her Christmas/Holiday books make me so happy, that I can read them at any time of the year.

I am sad that this trilogy has come to a close. Faith was the oldest sister, and she didn’t know how to deal with the fact that suddenly her best friend wants to take her out on the date when he is the one thing in her life that seemed so there and so solid, is suddenly shaking things up.

I loved Chase. I loved how much he cared for Faith and I was so sad that he got put on the sidelines like that. I cannot even begin to imagine how hard it would be for someone to watch a person you love fall for someone else, get married, have children, be happy. It must have hurt.

I loved that he wanted Faith to see that there is so much more to him than just her friend.

I struggled with Faith at times. It appears that she is the only one in the family that did not know that Chase has been in love with her forever and news of that comes as a shock for her. Plus, she kept trying to force the new girl Elle onto Chase even after she came to know about his feelings. At 80%, I was finding myself annoyed when she made another attempt to push the two together and in the process, hurt the other woman’s feelings because she was so inconsiderate.

I do get it. Her husband dies, she has just learned that the only man in the world that has been her rock and did so much for her, wants a relationship and she doesn’t want to lose him. Plus, she is afraid that something will happen to Chase and she will watch another husband pass away. I get her resistance, it just got a bit much at times.

Otherwise, this was a really charming, slow, clean romance story. Thayne’s writing is just so good, so amazing, I never found a dull moment. I found myself finishing the book in one day, even if it took me almost all night. I was so unable to put down their story.

“I wasn’t even involved with the show and I still have people stop me in town to tell me they hope we’re doing it again,” Faith offered.

“That’s because you’re a Nichols,” Hope said.

“Right. Which to some people automatically means I burp tinsel and have eggnog running through my veins.”

Celeste laughed. “You don’t?”

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Review: Wicked Cowboy Charm by Carolyn Brown

Posted February 3, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 14 Comments

Review:  Wicked Cowboy Charm by Carolyn BrownWicked Cowboy Charm by Carolyn Brown
Series: Lucky Penny Ranch #4
Published by Forever on January 31st 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 336
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Heat:two-half-flames

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.



ONE BLIZZARD, ONE BUNKHOUSE,AND A WHOLE LOTTA TROUBLE . . .
Josie Dawson is new in town, but it doesn't take a local to know that Deke Sullivan is trouble--in a smokin' hot package. He's sweet, sexy, and has charmed just about every woman in Dry Creek, Texas. Well, Josie won't be next. She'll keep her distance, even if he is great with babies and makes a mean cup of homemade hot chocolate. Deke Sullivan really is a one-woman type of guy. He just had to do a lot of looking to find that one woman. Now he thinks he's found her and he won't let a strong, sassy gal like Josie slip away. Just when he's wondering how to convince her he only has eyes for her, they get stranded in a tiny cabin during a major blizzard. If Deke can melt her heart before they dig out of the snow, he'll be the luckiest cowboy in Texas . . .
The Lucky Penny Ranch Series: Wild Cowboy WaysHot Cowboy Nights Merry Cowboy ChristmasWicked Cowboy Charm

With all my trusted bloggers fussing over Carolyn Brown and her writing, I knew I had to give in and give this author a try. I am glad to say that this is my first read by this author and although I wasn’t in love with this story, particularly, I did really enjoy and really, really, liked her writing.

This is book four in Lucky Penny Ranch series and I believe it’s the last book in this particular series, so shame on me for starting here – we get Deke and Josie’s story to tie it all up.

Deke is a cowboy who loves his women and he isn’t shy about it, spending lots of time in bars and picking up his one night stands. Josie is Jud’s sister, who seems to think she has a prickly exterior and isn’t looking for romance, but cannot deny the sudden attraction she feels towards Deke.

When the two hit the road to pick up a couple of bulls and horses (in Josie’s case), the two never imagined that a big snowstorm was going to merge their paths together and get them stuck on the same farm when both were supposed to be miles apart.

It was a cute story, a bit of destiny tied into it. I did enjoy it, it was a soft read with what seems like perfect romance, a bit too perfect in this case. Nothing really goes wrong for Josie and Deke until like 70% into the book when they get home and hit a bit of a hick-up – but even then it felt like Brown was trying to stir things up a little. It didn’t last long, but it felt unnecessary.

The book moved a bit slow for me, especially the first part. I couldn’t wait for Deke and Josie to leave the bunkhouse. I usually enjoy snowed in plots, but this just felt a little monotonous for me, nothing really happens for the two until late in the 70% and by 90% I was just reading it as quickly as I could to move on.

What I did really like was Deke, I liked that he was such a HUGE animal lover and that was what warmed me up to him most. He was so swoon worthy. I wanted him to be more believable in his role as a woman’s man, but he seemed to settle into settling down for one woman fairy quickly without much anxiety and that did not feel believable – but then I have only just met Deke – so maybe my opinion will change when I visit the rest of the series.

Josie seems to think she has a prickly exterior, I didn’t get that vibe from her. She cares about her family, she was very quick into going into business with Deke instead of fighting out over the bulls with him, and overall she just seemed like an easy going, sweet person. She did take that one indiscretion with a solid skin though.

This overall was a really sweet story.

The writing, though, I really liked the style and I think I would enjoy the first few books in the series so I am definitely giving them a try. This book did not deter me from trying more of Brown’s books, in fact, I cannot wait to read the other ARC’s that are waiting for me on my kindle as well as some other backlist titles that have caught my eye.

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Review: On Second Thought by Kristan Higgins

Posted January 29, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 29 Comments

Review:  On Second Thought by Kristan HigginsOn Second Thought by Kristan Higgins
Series: Standalone
Published by HQN Books on January 31st 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Chick-Lit
Pages: 480
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Heat:one-flame

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Following in the footsteps of her critically acclaimed novel
If You Only Knew
, multi-bestselling author Kristan Higgins returns with a pitch-perfect look at the affection—and the acrimony—that binds sisters together 
Ainsley O'Leary is so ready to get married—she's even found the engagement ring her boyfriend has stashed away. What she doesn't anticipate is for Eric to blindside her with a tactless breakup he chronicles in a blog…which (of course) goes viral. Devastated and humiliated, Ainsley turns to her half sister, Kate, who's already struggling after the sudden loss of her new husband. 
Kate has always been so poised, so self-assured, but Nathan's death shatters everything she thought she knew—including her husband—and sometimes the people who step up aren't the ones you expect. With seven years and a murky blended-family dynamic between them, Ainsley and Kate have never been overly close, but their shared sorrow dovetails their faltering worlds into one. 
Despite the lifetime of history between them, the sisters must learn to put their differences aside and open their hearts to the inevitable imperfection of family—and the possibility of one day finding love again.

It’s been a really long time since I have read a Higgins book, but when this was brought to my attention, I knew I had to get my hands on it.

On Second Thought was a book that not only surprised me, but blew my expectations out of the water. To date, I think this is the best book Higgins has ever written.

The story is told from the POV of two sisters, Kate and Ainsley. Kate is the older half sister from their father’s first and current marriage, and she is also a 39-year old widow. For twenty years Kate never thought she would have a chance to marry with her bad luck and a string of bad relationships, she gave up hope – until Nathan came over into her life.

I became Nathan’s wife. One hundred and two days later, I became his widow.

Nathan was sweet, talented, came from a wealthy family and wanted to have children. They dated for a few months before quickly getting married and not too soon after their marriage, Nathan dies, leaving Kate to pick up the pieces.

Ainsley is the younger half sister, who comes from a woman that the girl’s father was actually in love with. Kate’s mother took her in, and for the longest time Ainsley felt a little alienated. She was in a relationship with Eric for 11-years, up until after he recovered from his cancer, watched Nathan die at their life party and decided to cut ties with Ainsley with a very ugly public blog post to top of the hurt.

This book was everything, it had everything. I had my reservations at first, Nathan dies getting a glass of wine for Kate and it is mentioned several times as the guilt sits heavy on her chest. At first I was a little worried that this was going to be a very to shame anyone who drinks wine, but as the story went on, it was proven otherwise and I relaxed a little.
The story pulled on my heartstrings, squeezed my heart, broke my heart and cemented it back together with love and warmth.

It was frustrating, shocking, sad, heartbreaking, but at the same time it was wonderful, full of love and just downright realistic. There were moments that made me really feel for the two women, but Higgins hands the entire situation not only with wit and charm, but with humor cleverly woven in.

The story was about death, grief, moving on after, love, heartbreak, and family all the good, the bad and the ugly. I loved how the heartbreak and the events in both of the sister’s lives bought them together and formed a stronger bond. I liked learning  about their family, and how Candy (Kate’s mother, Ainsley’s step-mother) felt about having another woman’s child trusted upon her. For a long time, I didn’t know how to feel about her, but Candy redeemed herself tenfold by the end of the book.

Kate’s story was rough. I couldn’t even begin to understand how she felt being widowed so fast, but I also had to take into the account that Kate didn’t even know her husband for a year, so the experience must have felt different to other widows who knew them for years.

I loved the romance, especially between Ainsley and her boss Jonathan. When Jonathan appeared more and more in the story, he won me over quickly. He isn’t your typical love interest, which was so refreshing. He is awkward, he doesn’t wear his feelings on his sleeve, his interaction with Ainsley is amusing. She calls him Captain Flatline for a reason, he is hard to read and she often compares him to an alien. But I loved that, I loved that Jonathan wasn’t like the rest of the alpha males in the books, it made him so much more endearing and memorable.

Daniel the hot Fire Fighter was also an awesome addition to the book, and I loved the way he treated Kate and pulled her out of her funk.

The entire story was just great, but I think I already mentioned it. It was well over 400 pages and I was sad that it was over, I will definitely miss Jonathan. I liked both of the sister’s voice and their sarcastic witty humor, I never found a dull moment.

If you want to give Higgin’s a try, I strongly recommend this book.

“Are you crying?”

“Oh…I just…I’m a little, uh premenstrual.” Shit.

He gave me a long, unblinking look. Strange pale blue eyes, like an alien. “Will that be a problem during this interview?” he asked.

“Let’s hope not. But those first two days can be murder.” I smiled. He did not. I felt my uterus shriveling, as if his disapproving gaze was bringing on menopause.

Finally, he blinked. “I’m Jonathan Kent. This way.”

Inside the grocery store, it was as cold as a morgue. Poor choice of words.

I couldn’t remember what I’d come for, Vegetables? Why not? Whole Foods did have the prettiest produce in the entire world, even if it did cost a million trillion dollars.

I was dying to know what my stick-up-the-colon boss did in his spare time. Taxidermy seemed about right.

I pulled into Kate’s driveway, once again doing the walk of shame (though damn proud of it), went into the kitchen and screamed

A very large man was there.

“Hey,” he said. “How’s it going?”

“Who are you and why are you wearing my sister’s shirt?” I yelped..

He smiled. I smiled. The cat smiled.

He had a cat!

“You have a cat!” I said. Maybe shouldn’t have had that second glass of wine. Too late now.

I could seriously go on with snips and quotes forever. Go read the book!

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Review: Accidentally on Purpose by Jill Shalvis

Posted January 26, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 12 Comments

Review: Accidentally on Purpose by Jill ShalvisAccidentally on Purpose by Jill Shalvis
Series: Heartbreaker Bay, #3
Published by Avon on January 24th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4 Stars
Heat:three-flames

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

There’s no such thing as a little in love…
Elle Wheaten’s priorities: friends, career, and kick-ass shoes. Then there’s the muscular wall of stubbornness that’s security expert Archer Hunt—who comes before everything else. No point in telling Mr. “Feels-Free Zone” that, though. Elle will just see other men until she gets over Archer . . . which should only take a lifetime . . .
There’s no such thing as a little in lust…
Archer’s wanted the best for Elle ever since he sacrificed his law-enforcement career to save her. But now that she’s earned happiness and success, Archer just wants Elle 24/7. Their chemistry could start the next San Francisco Earthquake, and Archer doesn’t want to be responsible for the damage. The alternative? Watch her go out with guys who aren’t him . . .
There is such a thing as…
As far as Archer’s concerned, nobody is good enough for Elle. But when he sets out to prove it by sabotaging her dates, she gets mad—and things get hot as hell. Now Archer has a new mission: prove to Elle that her perfect man has been here all along…

Ever since I met Elle and Archer in the last book, I knew I needed their story. I think with the explosive dynamic between the two, they were hands down easily my favorite two characters to fawn over.

Discovering Elle and Archer’s history wasn’t easy, it was both heartwarming as it was heartbreaking. Archer basically saved Elle when she was younger and got mixed up with some bad people thanks to her sister. After being attacked by her sister’s boyfriend for stealing something of his, Archer had to blow his cover in order to save the young girl and with that Elle has since believed that she owned Archer for not only saving her life, but for getting him kicked out of the police force.

What Elle didn’t know for a long time, that after that night Archer never really strayed too far away from her life.

I adored their story. I adored Archer so much and his protectiveness. I felt that they had such a wonderful connection, especially after being bought together by such unfortunate events. Elle holds a bit of a grudge against Archer, because when he saved her, she thought he wanted sex as a payment and he just laughed at her.

I never really fully understood why the two took such a long time getting together. There was a bit of angst, perhaps a bit more than it was necessary. Their back and forth fighting was also starting to get repetitive but I was glad when Shalvis knew when to move on in the story. I felt that both Elle and Archer had an alpha complex, both were too stubborn, too proud, but I did love everything Archer did for her.

It was a great book, I loved the story and the secondary characters were amazing. Archer’s men are funny and awesome and I hope they get their story as well. I enjoyed the humor and the romance, Shalvis writes just felt so familiar and warm. I did notice over time that she likes to use the same phrasing over and over again. I haven’t read enough of her books to find it annoying, but Timbaktu comes up a lot as well as climbing him like a tree.

I was also grateful for Morgan, Elle’s sister showing up when she did. Not only did she add to the story and substance, but also moved the story away from the back and forth between Elle and Archer. It was getting frustrating when she kept telling him to stay away, but returned constantly herself. Half the time, I didn’t understand her anger towards him. But, the story between the two sister’s was also a bit sad. What Morgan did at the end of the book might have been stupid, but it was selfless and I feel like she too will get her own story, because it fell a bit open ended there?

Overall, I am glad I read it. I did adore these two. Still don’t like Willa.

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