Review, Excerpt, and Sweepstakes: The Darkest Link (Book #4: Second Circle Tattoos Series) by Scarlett Cole

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The Darkest Link - 2nd Circle #4

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When her car breaks down off the side of a lonely highway far from her sunny Miami home, tattoo artist Lia never expected her very own white knight to ride up on the back of a barely street-legal motorcycle…and she never expected to fall for her dark savior. After a string of failed relationships and a bruised heart, Lia is not looking for forever, and the hot mechanic, with his sexy scruff and shaggy hair, is simply impossible to resist and the perfect candidate for mind-blowingly-perfect, no-strings-attached one night stand.  Reid left his life in Chicago far behind him and hasn’t been back, but he’s never been able to escape the guilt he feels about his own painful role in inviting a monster into his baby sister’s life. A monster who almost destroyed her. Being with Lia is an unexpected gift, one he doesn’t feel he deserves, and their one night together has him wanting more than he should. Especially since she doesn’t know the truth about his past. However, when he finds Lia’s bracelet in his bed, he has the perfect excuse to drive down and surprise her at her tattoo studio, Second Circle Tattoos, in Miami. He’s in for an even bigger shock – and a fist to the face – when his past and present collide in the humid Miami weather when he runs into the last person he’d ever expect to see in a tattoo studio: Harper, the sister he betrayed, and the last link to his former life.

Source: Netgalley and Purchase

My Rating: 5/5

My Review:

Lia has been quite the curiosity for me since I read the first book in the Second Circle Tattoos series.  She’s been a friend and confident to nearly every other character in the series so it’s about time Lia got her own book. 

At nearly 30 years old, Lia has a beautiful home that she owns outright, plenty of money thanks to an inheritance from her grandmother, and a growing reputation as one of Miami’s premiere tattoo artist.  In fact, it’s the growth of her reputation that has Lia on the road out of Miami for a conference when her beloved classic car, affectionately known as Cherry fails her and leaves her stranded on the side of the road.  There are few things in the world Lia loves more than Cherry but a hot man on a motorcycle coming to her rescue might just edge out Cherry J

When Reid sees the sexy as hell tatted up pin up girl stranded along the side of the road, well, what else could a gentleman who owns a garage do but stop and offer his assistance?  It’s immediately clear to Reid that Lia’s engine isn’t going to spark to life but the spark of attraction between the two of them is at risk of setting the surrounding area on fire.  Over the next couple of days, Lia and Reid grow far closer to one another than either would have thought possible in such a short amount of time.  As their time together grows shorter and Lia has to return to Miami, she and Reid both find they don’t really want to be away from one another. 

Meanwhile, back in Miami . . . .

Lia’s life is in Miami but it’s not where she was born and raised.  Oh, no, Lia’s family is from an incredibly affluent community owing to their incredible wealth.  But, money doesn’t by happiness as Lia well know.  Her mother is disconnected and fragile at best and her father is a sadistic tyrant in private with political aspirations that force him to wear a far different persona in public.  Lia’s father has long made his displeasure in her well-known but with his political career taking off, he’s interested in bringing her back into the fold.  All she has to do is have every one of her tattoos surgically removed, stop dressing like a pin up girl, and keep her opinions to herself.  In other words, if Lia wants her family, she’ll have to deny everything she is.  Needless to say, being with Reid who not only accepts her as she is but celebrates who she is, is the strength she needs to fight her father and stand on her own. 

Reid isn’t just scared of his feelings for Lia, he is scared for her safety when she is near him.  Reid has a past that has finally, finally caught up to him and though he desperately wants to be with Lia, he doesn’t want her hurt because of his mistakes.  As the stakes keep getting higher and higher both Reid and Lia have to make some hard decisions about their respective futures.  It’s only when they both figure out they are stronger together than apart that they are able to deal with their issues and get on with their HEA.

The Bottom Line:  As I mentioned in the beginning, Lia has been a point of curiosity for me from the very beginning and I am so damn glad her story is so engrossing.  Lia’s personality, her bearing, her determination, her confidence, and her full on sexy are so well-developed which makes Lia a very full, very real character.  Reid is a wonderful balance to Lia.  Where she is light, he is dark, where she is outgoing, he is more reserved and it is these differences that make them so good together.  Reid and Lia are two somewhat older individuals (compared to the rest of the cast and crew) and I liked this level of maturity.  Both have been around the relationship but still open to the possibility of love even if it comes at lightning speed.  The naughty bits are quite excellent and there is more than enough drama and awful in this read to balance the light and sexy.  In this way, the plot very much mirrors the characters which certainly enhanced the read.   Though I can see places where this series might continue, I would also be totally and completely satisfied if it were to end here, with The Darkest Link!

Excerpt from The Darkest Link (Book #4: Second Circle Tattoo Series):

“What is this?” she asked, running her hand over the elongated hood.

“A 1958 Ford Thunderbird. It was a shell when I bought it. Was found in an unused barn with a bunch of other old classics.”

The wheels were black with white faces, and the soft top was a creamy white. Reflections from the chrome cast light onto the white walls.

“I love it,” she said, excited to sit inside.

“Hood up or down?” Kenny asked, slipping her cases into the trunk.

“Oh, most definitely down,” Lia said. Screw the victory rolls, she could always put her hair into a high ponytail and add the red ribbon she had in her purse if her scarf failed. She reached into her bag to find it and tied it around her head.

“I like this,” Kenny said, fingering the knot under her chin gently. The way his eyes crinkled at the corners made her feel all kinds of gooey inside. Perhaps it was a good thing they lived a long drive away from each other. His very presence made it difficult to remember why she was taking some time off from men. But a little harmless flirtation was adding to the adventure of a few days off work. There couldn’t be any harm in that.

Once inside the car, Kenny took her hotel details and plugged them into his phone. “There are few downsides to the classics, but lack of sat-nav has to be one,” he said, turning the radio on. “Ready?”

“I feel like Thelma and Louise about to drive over the edge of the cliff,” she said with a laugh.

“Close. That was a 1966 Ford Thunderbird, eight years younger than this baby. Does that make me J.D.?”

“That depends. Are you planning on driving me to a motel, having your wicked way with me on the dresser, then stealing my life savings?”

“I know a motel, don’t know if they have a dresser, but more than willing to do a drive-by to find out.”

Lia laughed. “I was joking.”

“I wasn’t. Say the word, Red.”

He revved the engine several times, the low growl sexy as all hell, and grinned as he roared out onto the street. Lia watched his hand as he shifted the stick. He caressed the gear stick. The more she stared, the more turned on she became until she had to cross her legs and look out of the window.

Damn him for getting her so hot and bothered. She spared a glance back toward him, just as he turned to face her. And he winked. Because he knew.

And that just turned her on even more.

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About the author and where to find her:

Scarlett ColeTwo-time RITA finalist, Scarlett Cole, is a contemporary romantic suspense / contemporary romance author (represented by Beth Phelan at The Bent Agency). Author of the Second Circle Tattoos Series. The Strongest Steel was a Best Debut Goodreads Author Finalist 2015, and Authors on the Air Global Radio Network #1 Contemporary Romance Pick for 2015.  When Scarlett isn’t writing, she spends her time reading, hoarding mason jars, and working out to off-set an epic sour candy habit.  Having travelled the world for work and fun, Scarlett is a citizen of both Britain and Canada. A true city-dweller, she considers Toronto and Manchester home and likes to set her books in vibrant locations such as Miami and Los Angeles.

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Review: Meat by Opal Carew

Meat

Title: Meat Author: Opal Carew Published: July 26th 2016 by Swerve ISBN: 1250118565

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I ran into Rex Keene—literally—when I was trying to catch my flight and his muscled, tattooed arms stopped my fall. Then our flight gets canceled, and we’re stranded in the same hotel room together…it ended up being the steamiest night of my life.
All I knew is that I had to see him again.  I just didn’t expect him to show up a week later in the restaurant I manage…as our new head chef.  But the generous, tender man I spent that night with is gone; instead he’s arrogant, demanding, and terrorizing the staff. But he won’t give up until we’re together – and I’m not sure I can stay away.   Which man is real?  Who is Rex Keene?

Source: Netgalley

My Rating: 3/5 stars

My Review:

Layovers, delays, and cancelled flights don’t ever turn out as well for the average person as they do for Rex and Rebecca🙂

When her flight home to Minneapolis is delayed and ultimately cancelled, a very strung out Rebecca is at the end of her tether and about to snap.  Thankfully, she quite literally ran into the hottest man on Earth who just so happens to have a spare room in a hotel suite.  Oh, and as an added bonus, he has a seriously big, you may be injured it’s so big cock.  How can a girl possibly turn that down?

When Rebecca makes the decision to sleep with Rex, she does so knowing very little about him other than he has a ginormous cock, he is a generous lover who likes (nay needs!) to be in control in the bedroom, and he is going to Minneapolis for a work-related project.  After their blissful night together, Rex makes it clear he wants to see Rebecca again and once his schedule allows, he will be contacting her.  Much to Rebecca’s surprise, the day she returns to work at a hotel restaurant she finds Rex in her kitchen as the new head chef.  As if this weren’t enough of surprise, the scuttlebutt says Rex is a tyrant and has been firing people left and right.  What the hell???

As Rex and Rebecca interact over the next few days, it isn’t nearly as blissful as their night in the hotel suite.  Rex is clearly hiding something and Rebecca can’t understand why he has so much authority over her restaurant.  She considers the people she works with to be her family and takes each and every firing personally.  To make matters even more intense, Rex tells Rebecca there are some serious shenanigans going on right under her nose and her beloved “family” is to blame.  Yeah, that’s going to get her right back in his bed . . . .

The Bottom Line:  This is another very, very short and fast standalone offering from Opal Carew.  It’s an OK read with some stretches and reaches that don’t quite make sense but the read is just so short and packed full of naughty bits that you just don’t really care.  I actually liked Rex quite a lot but found Rebecca to be somewhat childish.  Every time Rex tried to explain a situation or discuss a concern with Rebecca she all but stomps her foot and leaves the room in a huff and a snit.  Once Rex finally gets her to calm down and actually listen, the two are able to iron out their differences and make their way toward an HEA.  Don’t put this one at the top of your TBR but if you have a spare hour and are looking for a naughty little read, Meat is the read for you.

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Review, Excerpt, and Sweepstakes: An Indecent Proposal (Book #3: The O’Malleys Series) by Katee Robert

 

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An Indecent Proposal

Title: An Indecent Proposal Series: Book #3: The O’Malleys Author: Katee Robert Format: Paperback, 352 pages Expected publication: August 30, 2016 by Forever ISBN: 1455590525

 

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Greed. Ambition. Violence. Those are the “values” Olivia Rashidi learned from her Russian mob family-and the values she must leave behind for the sake of her daughter. When she meets Cillian O’Malley, she recognizes the red flag of his family name . . . yet she still can’t stop herself from seeing the smoldering, tortured man. To save her family, Olivia sets out to discover Cillian’s own secrets, but the real revelation is how fast-and how hard-she’s falling for him.  Plagued by a violent past, Cillian is more vulnerable than anyone realizes. Anyone except Olivia, whose beauty, compassion, and pride have him at “hello,” even if she’s more inclined to say good-bye to an O’Malley. While his proposal of sex with no strings seems simple, what he feels for her isn’t, especially after he learns that she belongs to a rival crime family. Cillian knows that there is no escape from the life, but Olivia may be worth trying-and dying-for . . .

Source: Netgalley

My Rating: 3/5 stars

My Review:

 

Of all the O’Malley children, Cillian is perhaps the most accepting of his future.  From the beginning, Cillian has known he will never lead the family but he does have his role to play and as long as that role is keeping the books, he’s content to do his part.  Six months ago, prior to the death of his younger brother, Cillian likely would have even been happy to do his part for his family but the senseless death of his brother changed everything and Cillian seems to only be able to muster content lately.

Olivia Rashidi can’t even summon up content where her life is concerned.  She actually does enjoy her job at the bar and she adores her young daughter but then there’s everything else in her life.  Olivia is the until the very end, not wanted bastard daughter of a recently deceased Russian mafia boss, her step-brother wants her back in the family fold, her mother makes Mommy Dearest look like a comedy, and her ex is a bat-sh*t crazy muscle man for her mafia boss step-brother.  Oh, and there’s Cillian O’Malley who just keeps showing up at her bar and can’t seem to take no for an answer. 

Cillian is absolutely drawn to Olivia but he refuses to allow her to use him to get off and get gone.  Since the death of his young brother, Cillian has sobered up on every level and for the first time in his life, he is looking for something beyond a one- or two-night stand.  Olivia is sure she will be able to run him off once he knows about her daughter and if that doesn’t work then the serious level of sh*t she’s in with the Russians with most certainly do the job.  Cillian, however is made of sterner stuff and the need to protect what he now considers to be his is a fierce feeling he isn’t at all used too but willing to embrace.  Yeah, it comes as a surprise to him too J

The Bottom Line: I absolutely loved the first two books in the O’Malleys series but An Indecent Proposal fell flat for me.  I like Cillian quite a bit but Olivia is somewhat off-putting yet I can’t pinpoint exactly what it is about her that I don’t like.  Though there is certainly some drama with Olivia and the Russians, there isn’t the high level of danger and drama that I was expecting based on the first two books.  In many ways, I feel like Katee Robert used this book to set up what’s coming next for the O’Malley’s which means slowing down the pace, dealing with the business at hand in the most expedient manner possible, and getting out.  With that being said, I like this book but there was certainly no staying up all night because I just had to find out what happens next. 

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Excerpt from An Indecent Proposal (Book #3: The O’Malleys Series):

Which only served to make her feel more awkward. Olivia threw up her hands. “I don’t know how to do this.”

“Do what?”

“This.” She motioned between the two of them. “This isn’t normal.”

He laughed again, quieter this time. “What does normal look like?” When she would have balked, he held out his hand. “Sit down. You’re making me twitchy with all the pacing. I’m not laughing at you. I’m laughing at the absurdity of this entire situation. So humor me and tell me what normal looks like.”

She didn’t know. That was the problem. Olivia wasn’t sure she’d recognize normal if it hit her in the face. But she wasn’t quite willing to share with Cillian exactly how messed up her childhood had been, outstanding chemistry or not. She inched closer to the bed and perched on the edge, but even with three feet between them, she felt like a lightning rod to his storm, full of vibrating energy and impending boom. She pulled at the edge of her T-shirt. “You know—we’d meet somewhere normal.”

“We met at a bar.”

“Most relationships don’t start in a bar.” She realized what she said and shoved to her feet. “Strike that. I didn’t mean relationship. I just…” Not sure what she was trying to say, she charged on. “Maybe a coffee shop. You’d be behind me in line and say something witty, and I’d laugh and you’d spend the next ten minutes charming me until I gave you my number.”

She was almost afraid to look at him and see his expression. His silence said it all. “That’s stupid, isn’t it?”

“No, not at all. It sounds nice.”

Olivia faced him. “You’re humoring me.”

“Sit down.” He waited for her to obey before he spoke again. “I’m not. It does sound nice.” He carefully leaned back against the headboard. “So I charm your number out of you, huh? I must be pretty charming.”

She shot him a look. “In this scenario, yes.”

Cillian laughed. “Then I’d call you.”

She edged over to sit on the other side of the mattress against the headboard. It was such a silly thing they were doing, but after how intense the rest of the night had been, maybe silly was exactly what they both needed. “A call instead of a text? I must have made an impression.”

“More like I was determined to make the right impression. Texts are lazy, and you can’t get a good read on someone that way. So I’d call.”

She hadn’t spent much time dating…well, ever, really…but even she knew that was different from the norm. “I’d think you were a freak for calling, but I’d answer because I was intrigued.”

“We’d talk for a while, feeling each other out.”

“More like me trying to figure out if you’re a psycho.”

He grinned. “Or that. I’d say all the things a normal guy would say. You’d be reassured that I wasn’t likely to chloroform you and chain you up in my torture-slash-sex dungeon.”

“That’s…comforting.”

“It would be, yes.”

She laughed softly. “We’d set up a date at the end of the call.”

“Somewhere nice and public and nonthreatening.”

“Now you’re getting the idea.” She stared at the ceiling, part of her kind of weirded out at how well the conversation was flowing with him playing along. “Dinner, no movie. Movies are for people who are too intimidated by the thought of first-date conversation that they chicken out.”

“The conversation would be titillating.”

“You think so?” She rolled onto her side to face him, finding that he’d done the same. His bandage was a vivid reminder of why they were there in the first place. Olivia frowned. “How’re you feeling?”

“That’s not part of the game.” He yawned. “So we’d drink pretentious wine that neither one of us liked and order things that we could barely pronounce and, at the end of it, we’d sheepishly admit that we didn’t like either the drinks or the food, and we’d go find a food truck and laugh at ourselves.”

It was an attractive picture he painted. Normal and kind of sweet and something she’d never have the option of doing. She made a face. “Instead, you wander into my bar because your family’s territory encompasses it and we have a quick fuck in the alley.” She should regret it. She knew she should. There were thousands of dating books and columns out there advising women to withhold sex until they had some sort of commitment.

Except she didn’t regret a damn thing.

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About the author and where to find her:

Katee_Robert_authorNew York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Katee Robert learned to tell her stories at her grandpa’s knee. She found romance novels at age twelve and it changed her life. When not writing sexy contemporary and speculative fiction romance novels, she spends her time playing imaginary games with her wee ones, driving her husband batty with what-if questions, and planning for the inevitable zombie apocalypse.

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Barclay

Review: Cream of the Crop (Book #2: Hudson Valley Series) by Alice Clayton

Cream of the Crop

Title: Cream of the Crop Series: Book #2: Hudson Valley Author: Alice Clayton Format: Paperback and eBook, 384 pages Published: July 12, 2016 by Gallery Books ISBN: 1501118153

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Manhattan’s It Girl, Natalie Grayson, has it all: she’s a hot exec at a leading advertising firm, known industry-wide for her challenging and edgy campaigns. She’s got a large circle of friends, a family that loves her dearly, and her dance card is always full with handsome eligible bachelors. What else could a modern gal-about-town wish for? The answer, of course, is…cheese.  Natalie’s favorite part of each week is spending Saturday morning at the Union Square Farmer’s Market, where she indulges her love of all things triple cream. Her favorite booth also indulges her love of all things handsome. Oscar Mendoza, owner of the Bailey Falls Creamery and purveyor of the finest artisanal cheeses the Hudson Valley has to offer, is tall, dark, mysterious, and a bit oblivious. Or so she thinks. But that doesn’t stop Natalie from fantasizing about the size of his, ahem, milk can.  Romance is churning, passion is burning, and something incredible is rising to the top. Could it be…love?

Source: Purchase

My Rating: 4/5 stars

My Review:

Release day for a new Alice Clayton book is one of my favorite days of the year!  I have been completely smitten with Alice Clayton and her breed of awesome since I first read Wallbanger a couple of years ago.  I now go into her books expecting yet another 4½ to 5 star read and for the most part, that has always happened.  For the most part . . . .

Likes:

Hudson Valley: This is a definite plus for me as the scene was set so beautifully in Nuts, book one of the Hudson Valley Series.  Clayton doesn’t disappoint here with her descriptions of the area, the surrounding communities, the amenities, and the people who populate the region.  I swear, Clayton’s descriptions make me want to drop it all and move right on out to the country.

Natalie: Oh, Natalie!!  I love a woman who can’t open her mouth without R-rated falling out and Natalie Grayson certainly fits the bill.  From top to bottom, Natalie is big, loud, smart, funny, sexy, and totally lacking an internal edit button.  Natalie has worked hard to become the confident and successful woman she is and she isn’t afraid to acknowledge her achievements.  Natalie has embraced every aspect of her being and body which gives her an unparalleled confidence. 

Oscar: I will always, always, always love me a tatted up man!!  I will always, always, always love a strong, kind, and respectful man and Oscar Mendoza certainly fits the bill.  Though Oscar was introduced in Nuts, we didn’t learn much about him and we still don’t until about halfway through Cream of the Crop.  While I would normally chafe at so little backstory, it works for this character.  Oscar is quiet, reserved (except in bed!), and a man of few words.  Very people in town know his story so it is appropriate that he reserves telling anyone about himself until he is close to them.  Case in point, Natalie (aka Pinup).  When his story finally does come out, it just adds to his awesome.

The plot:  Yeah, it’s always nice when you like the plot but, as I’ve said before, a weak plot can be carried by strong characters.  Luckily, Cream of the Crop has both strong characters and a really good and believable plot.  There’s no stretching here to make things work, there’s no convoluted crap that makes little to no sense.  What there is, is the story of a country boy falling in love with a big city girl and the issues they face making a go of their relationship.  Oscar is already living in the Hudson Valley and Clayton gives Natalie two very good reasons to be there as well, her best-friend is from the area and her job.  Furthermore, Natalie already “knows” Oscar since she is a frequent flyer at his weekly booth at the Union Square Farmer’s Market.  The interactions between Natalie and Oscar, especially in the beginning are so funny and sweet.  It makes their eventual hook-up to real romance all the better. 

The naughty bits:  Yeah, this is one my favorite parts of this read and an area of writing where Clayton really shines.  Natalie is just and brash, bold, and confident in the bedroom (and the barn and the truck . . .) as she is everywhere else.  She is a curvy women and she has found a man who truly appreciates her size and her willingness to play with him sexually.  The naughty scenes are more than just sex, they are encounters that are often peppered with humor, mishaps, and genuine emotion.  If you’re in it just for the sex, you’re going to be disappointed.  Clayton’s naughty bits are always so much more than just the sex.

Dislike:

That one scene:  Yes, I only have one dislike in this entire read but it is significant enough that it dropped my star rating down to a mere 4 stars.  Late in the read, Oscar is visiting Natalie in the city and attending an event with her.  Oscar’s behavior is abhorrent and so totally out of character that I was left totally confused.  Even the explanation for his behavior in this one scene is wonky and makes no real sense to this character as a whole. Normally, something like this would just turn me off the character but when I thought long and hard about that scene, it began to feel more like a writing error than a character error/misstep.    

The Bottom Line:  With the exception of that one scene, I adored this read.  Everything comes together so beautifully in this book from the plot to the characters to the descriptions of the scenery, it is all engaging and entertaining.  Once again, Alice Clayton has killed it!!  I laughed out loud, I wanted to choke the life out of a character or two, I was saddened, and I totally rooted for both Natalie and Oscar.  From the opening page to the last line of the epilogue (with the exception of that one scene!) I was hooked, totally and completely.

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About the author and where to find her:

Alice ClaytonALICE CLAYTON worked in the cosmetics industry for over a decade before picking up a pen (read laptop).  She enjoys gardening but not weeding, baking but not cleaning up, and finally convinced her long-time boyfriend to marry her.  Now, about that Bernese Mountain dog.

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Review: Death at a Fixer-Upper by Sarah T. Hobart

Death at a Fixer Upper

Title: Death at a Fixer-Upper Author: Sarah T. Hobart Format: ebook, 267 pages Published: May 17, 2016 by Alibi ISBN: 0399177841

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Newly armed with her real estate license, Sam Turner loves Arlinda, her quirky seaside hometown in Northern California. But life by the beach isn’t exactly a breeze: She and her teenage son, Max, are being evicted from their apartment, her long absent ex-husband unexpectedly resurfaces, and her possibly romantic relationship with sexy Chief of Police Bernie Aguilar is, well . . . complicated. All Sam wants is a quick and easy sale. What she gets instead is a killer headache—or three.  Sam’s trying to drum up interest in 13 Aster Lane, a rambling Victorian fixer-upper that’s more than a little neglected—and possibly haunted—so when a trio of offers arrive out of the blue, she can’t help thinking it’s too good to be true. But after a new client drops dead on the property, she fears she’s lost more than a commission. Before Sam’s out of house and home, she must unmask a killer targeting her clients, or the only property she’ll be moving will be plots—at the local cemetery.

Source: Netgalley

My Rating: 2½/5 stars

My Review:

Sam Turner needs to sell a house! Unfortunately, the only property on her real estate dance card is a rundown Victorian that no one has wanted for decades.  Unloading this monstrosity isn’t going to be easy but Sam has bills to pay and a teenage son to support so she’s going to unload that house, even if it kills her.

For years, no one has been interested in the old Victorian but, in what Sam sees as a stroke of luck, all of a sudden there is interest in the property.  In fact, there is suddenly a lot of interest in the property and if Sam plays her cards right, she’ll get a hefty commission from the sale.  The timing couldn’t be better since Sam’s car is in need of some major repairs, she’s buying a new house of her own, and she’s pretty sure her scumbag landlord is going to charge her a huge fee for “repairs” needed on her crappy apartment.  All Sam has to do is convince just one of the interested parties that the house is worth fixing, the roses are worth saving, ghosts aren’t real, and this really isn’t a good place to build a new subdivision. 

As the days pass, events related to the sale of the property become strange, perplexing, and eventually downright dangerous.  With each weird and/or dangerous occurrence, Sam becomes more curious about the history of the property and the people who are involved with it.  Poking around in the past isn’t always a good idea and as Sam continues to uncover new information, the threat to her safety becomes more serious.  Too curious for her own good, Sam keeps digging and uncovers the answers to an unsolved bank robbery, the truth about the death of the previous property owner, and why her current buyers are dropping like flies. 

The Bottom Line: As I sit here writing this review, I’m finding it difficult to get really excited about this read.  I didn’t dislike it but I also had to remind myself on several occasions that I needed to finish reading this book.  Seasoned readers know that having to remind yourself to read a book isn’t a glowing recommendation.  There aren’t any major technical issues with this read but there are some real stretches and unnecessary bits where the plot is concerned.  For example, the homeless man who hangs out at the real estate office, the reappearance of Sam’s ex-husband, her flighty sister saving the day, and the barely there romance with the chief of police.  These stretches and unnecessary bits detract from an otherwise decent plot line and make the read somewhat convoluted, a state I do not care for in my reads.  While many readers will find this read quirky and fun, I found it be only OK and was hoping for so much more.

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Review: Hard to Fall (Book #4: Take the Fall Series) by Marquita Valentine

 

Hard to Fall

Title: Hard to Fall Series: Book #4: Take the Fall Author: Marquita Valentine Expected publication: October 18, 2016 by Loveswept ASIN: B01E2H3M1A

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As a hardworking, hard-partying firefighter, Hayden Walker values his career and his freedom. But as the eldest son of a U.S. senator, he agreed long ago to follow in his father’s footsteps and run for office, and that means settling down and marrying the picture-perfect wife. Hayden just isn’t ready for that sort of commitment . . . not with women like beautiful, curvy Saylor Dean—the naughty bridesmaid he recognizes the morning after his buddy’s wedding—tempting Hayden to stay single forever.   The unwanted love child of a well-known politician, Saylor has always felt isolated and alone, her only solace the animal shelter she runs in Forrestville. Then she meets Hayden at her best friend’s wedding. During their impulsive and unforgettable night together, Saylor feels desired like never before—only to wake up and find that Hayden doesn’t remember his drunken proposal, or their hasty marriage, or her. But when the truth comes out, Saylor finds it’s a lot harder to fall out of love than in love.

Source: Netgalley

My Rating: 4/5 stars

My Review:

***REVIEW IS SLIGHTLY SPOILERISH***

Hot firefighter who loves to talk dirty and thoroughly satisfy his partner and a nerdy, quirky chick who saves hurt and abandoned animals and has a Star Wars obsession??  HELL YES!!!  Sign me up!!!

Saylor Dean is about as quirky and nerdy and weird as they come.  Though hardly anyone knows, she is a multimillionaire thanks to the guilt money given to her on a regular basis by her totally absentee yet totally famous father.  Her mother might be considered absentee if it weren’t for the fact she’s a famous movie star who adores her daughter and sees her every chance she gets.  From most people’s perspective, Saylor has it made.  She owns her own business, is financially free to do as she pleases, and has a small circle of valued and trusted friends.  What Saylor doesn’t have and desperately wants is a true family of her very own. 

Hayden Walker has no interest in drinking the Walker family Kool-Aid.  He doesn’t want to be a politician, he has no desire to be a politician, and if his father doesn’t start listening soon, things are going to get ugly.  In the meantime, Hayden is going to continue to serve his community as a top-notch firefighter and live his life as he sees fit.  In what could only be described as a stunning bit of debauchery and life living, Hayden has one hell of a good time in Tijuana at his friend’s wedding reception.  At least, he thinks he had a good time, he woke up naked and couldn’t remember anything🙂

Back in the real world, Hayden keeps running into Saylor and can’t seem to get the weird girl out of his head.  She’s quirky and beautiful, always seems to say the wrong thing, and delights Hayden on every level.  Though he’s never had to chase a girl before, Hayden finds he not only wants to chase Saylor but he wants to catch her and keep her.  What Hayden doesn’t know, thanks to a truck load of alcohol is that he’s chasing his wife.  Saylor, scared to death of Hayden’s reaction doesn’t readily share the news about their nuptials nor does she share her lineage.  Turns out, both of those bits of information are going to be vital to the survival of her relationship with Hayden.  If they both survive the impending storm, they may even learn to love one another.

The Bottom Line:  You know what?  Hard to Fall is really a fitting end to the Take the Fall series and I quite enjoyed this read.  Saylor is just so delightfully weird that you really can’t help but love her. She is so awkward as to be almost unbelievable which makes her even more likeable.  Hayden, on the other hand is relatively put together which makes him an excellent balance for Saylor.  This read places a huge emphasis on family and what it means to be a family and those values sort of shine through both Saylor and Hayden.  Their relationship certainly isn’t conventional by any means but it works for these two and works nicely with the overall plot.  The ending gets wrapped up a bit too quickly and conveniently but other than that, this is another solid read from one of my favorite contemporary romance authors!! 

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About the author and where to find her:

author - Marquita ValentineNew York Times Bestselling Author, Marquita Valentine, writes sexy heroes that make you swoon and sassy heroines that make you laugh. She’s the author of the bestselling contemporary romance series, Holland Springs, and the new adult romance series, Boys of the South.  Marquita met her husband aka Hot Builder at Sonic when they were in high school. She suggests this location to all of her single friends in search of a good man—and if that doesn’t work, they can console themselves with cheesy tatertots. She lives in North Carolina in a very, very small town with Hot Builder and their two children.

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Review: Must Love Wieners (Book #1: Rescue Dog Romance Series) by Casey Griffin

Must Love Wieners

Title: Must Love Wieners Series: Rescue Dog Romance Author: Casey Griffin Format: Paperback and eBook, 368 pages Published: August 2, 2016 by St. Martin’s Paperbacks ISBN: 1250084679

goodreadsPiper Summers works like a dog juggling three jobs to put herself through veterinary school—driving taxis, delivering pizzas, and singing telegrams. Thankfully, Piper has her devoted dachshund Colin to help her keep things in line. That is, until she gets fired…and someone throws her a bone that is too good to resist.  Aiden Caldwell is an Armani ad come to life—a billionaire CEO who’s just adopted a dachshund from the rescue center where Piper volunteers. He’s hot on Piper’s tail to be his personal dog walker…but he may be after more than a walker for his wiener. The gorgeous, spirited Piper is everything he’s ever wanted from a woman—and more. But can Piper ever love, and trust, a man who has never learned to open his heart—or has she bitten off more than she can chew?

Source: Netgalley

My Rating: 4/5 stars

My Review:

Piper Summers is just fine!

Aiden Caldwell does not mix business with pleasure!

Piper Summers is focused on her goals and is determined to accomplish everything without anyone else’s help.  To get through vet school, she works multiple crappy jobs, lives in a ramshackle little apartment with her contraband dog, Colin, and spends every one of her precious free moments at the dachshund rescue center.  With just a few weeks left in her final semester of school, Piper can make it as long as the universe cooperates. 

Enter the universe with a sense of humor . . . .

In one afternoon, Piper manages to get fired from two of her crappy jobs and fall face first into the lap of the most stunningly gorgeous man she has ever met only to get up and sing to him.  There’s no stopping a singing telegram girl!  With no expectation of ever seeing him again, Piper is stunned when the stunner makes an appearance at the doggy rescue center where she volunteers.  As if falling into his lap weren’t humiliating enough, the gorgeous man also knows Piper lost two of her jobs and is in a bad way, financially speaking.  What else is there to do but offer her a job??

Aiden Caldwell never mixes business with pleasure but he may be willing to make an exception where Piper is concerned.  Though her first and second impressions left something to be desired, Aiden is attracted to Piper and wants to know more about her.  The getting to know her better becomes all the easier when Piper agrees to work for Aiden as dog walker to his rescue dachshund, Sophie.  Aiden is stunningly wealthy, wants what’s best for Sophie, and is willing to help ease Piper’s way financially.  Though she expects to work alone, Piper is surprised when, day after day, Aiden makes a point of accompanying her and the dogs to the park for some play time.  On most occasions, Aiden acts interested but he runs hot and cold which often leaves both he and Piper confused.  Keeping business and pleasure separate isn’t as easy as it sounds and things are about to get a whole lot worse.

Dating Aiden Caldwell is as thrilling as it is frustrating.  Between the two of them, there is a lot of back luck which makes building a new relationship even more difficult.  Aiden’s hot and cold comes out at the most inconvenient of times and one of the two of them is apparently being targeted by a crazy person.  There’s the car that tries to run them down, there’s the vandalism of the doggy rescue center (which Aiden just happens to own), and there’s the vile behavior of one of Piper’s singing telegram customers and several of Aiden’s employees.  While one or two of these things may be written off as pure coincidence, collectively, Aiden and Piper are worried and the police are proving to be of little help.  Figuring out who is targeting one or both of them and surviving the next attack is of the utmost importance but mixed into the mystery is the distinct possibility that Aiden is a dirty, rotten bastard and the one behind all the awful. 

The Bottom Line:  I am always going to read a book that has dogs in it so it’s just a bonus when the book is also really good.  Piper’s life is like a comedy of errors and with every new incident I just found myself shaking my head in disbelief.  Piper really does have a crappy life for the time being and everything she loves and holds dear is being threatened.  Aiden is the only seemingly good thing in her life but life with him comes with its own set of complications.  Aiden is a good man who has some really funny rules about mixing his personal life and work.  While he tries to do the right thing, Aiden often stumbles and has to dig himself out of a mess.  This quirkiness makes for a sweet romance that is only enhanced by the presence of the two totally adorably Doxies.  Because of all the action and drama, Must Love Wieners reads quickly, has a strong plot line, believable characters, and some really funny plays on the whole wieners thing.  Overall, an enjoyable read and a good start to what is sure to be a fun series.

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About the author and where to find her:

Casey GriffinCasey Griffin can often be found at comic conventions on her days off from her day job, driving 400 ton dump trucks in Northern Alberta, Canada. As a jack of all trades with a resume boasting registered nurse, English teacher, and photographer, books are her true passion. Casey is a 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel finalist, and is currently busy writing every moment she can.

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