Welcome to the release week of Ties That Bind and Animal Attraction by Katee Robert! These two short novels are part of the Hot in Hollywood duology, and both are publishing tomorrow. Today, I'm sharing my review of both books, and more!
Ties That Bind by Katee Robert
Book One of the Hot in Hollywood series
Publication Date: September 19, 2017
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC sent for review
Once upon a time, Cora Landers was America’s Sweetheart and destined to be the Next Big Thing in Hollywood—but that was before her sex tape ruined her image and eliminated her contracts. These days, instead of being an A-lister, she’s divorce attorney to the A-listers. So when her ex—and fellow sex tape star—Jack shows up, needing her expertise, she wants nothing to do with it.
Jack McArthur might have costarred in that sex tape, but he didn’t share Cora’s fate—instead of tanking his career, the tape skyrocketed it. Now, as one of Hollywood’s most buzzed about new directors, Jack has everything to lose—especially when he wakes up after a friend’s bachelor party gone wrong to find that he’s apparently married a woman he’s never met before…and now can’t find. Desperate, he goes to the only person who he knows can help—Cora.
Cora reluctantly agrees to help Jack—both because he’s offering an absurd amount of money and because she loves seeing him as a disadvantage for once. Neither of them anticipate the very real problem of their being unable to keep their hands off each other—or that Jack’s accidental marriage might be anything but accidental. With both her heart and career on the line—again—Cora has to decide if she’s going to take the high road or leave Jack hanging in the wind the same way he left her twelve years ago.
What I Liked:
Usually I don't read books set in Hollywood, focused on actors or actresses or big shots living in L.A. I make many exceptions for books by my favorite authors, including Katee Robert. While a sex tape in the mix definitely didn't appeal to me, the ensuing romance did, and I'm glad I gave this book a chance. It was a lovely story, not quite second-chance romance but definitely one with a lot of history between the hero and heroine. The story is short and steamy and very satisfying.
Cora used to be a child actress, but she got out of the industry when a sex tape of hers with Jack McArthur leaks. Twelve years later, she's pushing thirty and she's a divorce lawyer with no love life to speak of. But enter Jack McArthur, after twelve years, who needs her help. After getting blackout drunk and having no recollection of the night - definitely not signing a marriage certificate - Jack needs Cora to help him get a divorce. It has been twelve years, but the chemistry between Jack and Cora never diminished. Cora wants to keep things strictly business, but she finds it impossible when it comes to Jack.
Cora is so prickly and tense, not a sweet and charming girl, but not a mean and rude one either. She's assertive and tough as nails, and she doesn't take crap from anyone. But she can't help but bend when it comes to Jack - Jack, whom she started to fall in love with when she was eighteen and lost her virginity to him. I can't say Cora is my favorite heroine (I didn't really love some of her logic), but I didn't hate her and I definitely understood her.
I adored Jack (surprise!). He's a good guy with a good heart. Twelve years ago, Cora used him and didn't feel bad about it, and twelve years later, it is Jack who wishes he could have been better. Jack is always looking out for others, even as he is looking out for himself with the marriage he doesn't recall. In many ways, I don't think Cora deserved Jack, even if she is exactly who he wanted.
The romance is pretty steamy! Jack is a control freak, inside and out of the bedroom. I personally like this type of hero, especially since he is decent sort of alpha male. There is a hint of kink in this book (not nearly enough, in my opinion. I mean, hellloooo, the title!), and I was all for it. I liked that Jack and Cora were well-matched in their preferences - Jack was very alpha-y, and Cora liked him that way. It is not quite a dom-sub sort of thing, but it mirrors that.
Did I mention that this book is hot? It is very steamy. You can always trust Robert's books to be filled with sexy, sexy times. This book is short, and there could always be more, but I thought Robert did just fine with the page count of this book.
A neat things - Jake and Jessica from Prom Queen are mentioned in this book! If you recall, Jessica used to be Cora and Brooklyn's roommate, until she moved in with Jake, in Texas. I adored Prom Queen, by the way!
The conflict of this book involves a bit of a revisit from the past, and of course the pending divorce. Things worked out just fine for Jack, and he wasn't swindled out of half of his assets. Things worked out well for Jack and Cora too. There is some apologizing on both sides (though I definitely think Cora should have been the one to grovel), and things work out. The ending is a very sweet one. I can always trust Robert to deliver a good HEA!
What I Did Not Like:
There was nothing really wrong with or bad about this book! I would have liked to see Cora grovel some, at the end of the book, but they both groveled, so that made sense. I always like seeing a woman own up to her mistakes and apologize and chase her man. What is wrong with that? Why is it always the guy (even when he isn't in the wrong, when it she is?)? See my review for Animal Attraction though. That book got a five-star rating for a reason.
Would I Recommend It:
If you're in the mood for a short, steamy romance novel involving a divorce attorney and a movie director in Hollywood, give this book a go. It was fairly low on drama, even though you'd think there would be (given the sex tape, and the fact that Jack somehow married someone in the beginning of the book).
4 stars. This is yet another success by Katee Robert! The next book, Animal Attraction, is even better (in my opinion). I loved Levi!
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Animal Attraction by Katee Robert
Book Two of the Hot in Hollywood series
Publication Date: September 19, 2017
Rating: 5 stars
Source: eARC sent for review
A private investigator might not be as glamorous as Brooklyn James had expected, but it pays the bills. Or at least it used to. In dire financial straits, she no longer has the luxury of saying no to jobs if she wants to pay her bills—which is how she ends up in a tree, spying on a billionaire who’s accused of dognapping. Not her finest moment.
Levi Turnbull made his fortune by creating tech that melds exercise with video games. It sounded great at the time, but now he’s got more money than he knows what to do with and he’s bored out of his mind waiting for the next game to launch. When he realizes a neighbor has been neglecting his dog, he takes matters into his own hands—by taking the dog. If he’s been trolling the neighbor ever since with hilarious fliers around the area… Well, he’s only human. When he finds a pretty redhead trespassing on his property in search of the missing dog, he sees the ultimate distraction until the launch.
Brooklyn initially agrees to a date in order to get close enough to Levi to find evidence of his dognapping—but that motivation gets complicated when they end up in bed together. She’s unable to resist his charm, and as they grow closer, Brooklyn can’t avoid the truth—not only did Levi steal a million dollar dog…he’s in danger of stealing her heart, too.
What I Liked:
This book follows the story of Levi and Brooklyn, both of whom were present in Ties That Bind. Levi is Jack's best friend, and Brooklyn is Cora's best friend (and roommate). This book involves lots of dogs, cats, and crime that seems fun and noble (oddly enough)!
Brooklyn, a private investigator, has been struggling to get jobs that pay well. She needs the money to pay for the extravagant mortgage of the house she lives in with her roommate Cora, especially since their third roommate Jessica moved out. When a rich but horrible client throws a bunch of money at her in order to investigate the theft of his job, Brooklyn doesn't hesitate, even if the job is unusual. It turns out that Levi Turnbull is most definitely guilty of stealing the dog... but why? And how is Brooklyn going to get inside Levi's home to get pictures? Levi knows exactly why Brooklyn was hired, and he knows why she wants in his house. That doesn't stop him from wanting her, and wanting her close. Brooklyn agrees to go on a date with him in order to get close to find evidence, but she doesn't expect to like him. Or want to break laws for him. Or return Fisk's money and not investigate the theft anymore. Levi is more than a dog thief, and Brooklyn can't help falling for him.
This book was so fun. It is short, possibly even shorter than Ties That Bind, but it was such a fun novel. Levi is a strange and charming guy, and Brooklyn is the type of girl that doesn't want to be bothered. But something about Levi definitely bothers her, and in a I-want-to-jump-him kind of way.
I'll start with Levi. He is easily my favorite character of this book - of this series, even. He has cats and dogs and an iguana, and he lives with all of them in his enormous mansion. He is such a sweetheart and he seems playful, but he is also charming and a little wicked. He doesn't hesitate to ask Brooklyn out on a date, even though he knows exactly what her game plan is (without her having to tell him). He knows what he wants and doesn't hesitate to go after it (or her, in this case). He has a dominant, powerful side, which makes sense because he's basically a bearded, mountainous lumberjack. He's a sweetie though!
Brooklyn is the human equivalent of a cat (Levi's words, not mine!). She likes to do her thing and she doesn't like to be pushed around. She is in a tough spot financially, when she accepts the job to investigate the dog snatcher. She doesn't want to fall for him, but she does. Levi is so different from Brooklyn, but he is actually who she needs.
Their chemistry is so hot! I love how the two of them connect, and then collide. Brooklyn is more skittish and doesn't always follow her heart, but something brings her back to Levi, every time. These two are such a fiery and passionate couple, even with Brooklyn's task of investigating Levi lying between them. The sexy times are so steamy! There is a lot of good intensity and buildup. And the progression of their relationship is sweet, even with Brooklyn being unsure of if she should go into a relationship with Levi. She likes him so much - too much, in her mind. But she works through this and realizes that it's okay to like him "too much".
This book is getting five stars (as opposed to four stars), and it's because of the climax and ending. There is very little drama in this book, which was good. There is the cliche "breakup" thing at the climax, in which Levi is hurt by Brooklyn, and Brooklyn has a decision to make, about her task. This book is getting five stars because Brooklyn is the one to fix her mistake. She is the one to grovel and apologize. I love this. You know why? Because often in romance novels, we see the male apologizing and groveling, even when the woman is the one who messed up. I was so happy to see Brooklyn trying to earn back Levi's favor. It's so good to see a woman in romance fiction stand up and own her mistakes. It isn't healthy when the woman is in the wrong but the man is the one apologizing and groveling. Good on this character for being better.
The ending is a wonderful HEA! But of course, right? I love HEAs.
What I Did Not Like:
I have nothing to complain about! This book was lovely. I may reread it soon (already!), because it was quite wonderful. And steamy!
Would I Recommend It:
I'm pretty much always going to recommend Katee Robert's novels. I don't think I've read one that I didn't like. This one is ranking among my favorites of hers though. It was such a good romance story, the climax and ending were perfect, and there were lots of adorable pets! This is a short novel, so if you're in the mood for short and steamy and to the point, try this book!
4.5 stars -> rounded up to 5 stars. I rarely round up and I rarely give 5-star ratings, but this book was great. I always have high expectations when it comes to Katee Robert, and she never disappoints!
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About the Author:
New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Katee Robert learned to tell her stories at her grandpa’s knee. Her 2015 title, The Marriage Contract, was a RITA finalist, and RT Book Reviews named it 'a compulsively readable book with just the right amount of suspense and tension." When not writing sexy contemporary and romantic suspense, she spends her time playing imaginary games with her children, driving her husband batty with what-if questions, and planning for the inevitable zombie apocalypse.
The Excerpt from Ties That Bind:
Jack opened the back door, every inch a gentleman—if it was gentlemanly to plan to ravage her in his backseat. Cora climbed in slowly, letting her dress ride up to give him a peek of her panties. His sharp inhale was reward in and of itself.
She expected him to follow immediately, but he stood there blocking the open space, his blue eyes forbidding. “Take those off.”
Cora settled back against the far door and pulled her dress up so she could slide her panties off. She tossed them in his direction, and Jack snaked a hand out to catch them. He slid them into his pocket and only then did he climb into the backseat with her.
“Really? You’re going to…what? Take them home as a memento? Bragging rights?”
She licked her lips. “Yes?”
“Shut up. You know goddamn well and good that I’m not a douche like that, so stop pretending that I am.” He hooked her thighs and pulled her to the edge of the seat as he went to his knees next to the seat itself. “And stop pretending that it doesn’t get you wet knowing that I’ll be jacking myself to the scent of you later.”
Her jaw dropped. “Holy shit.”
“Now, stop talking.” He nudged her shoulder until she leaned back against the seat. Jack ran his hands up her thighs, spreading her legs farther. “It’s been a long time.”
There was nothing to say to that because it was the truth. Cora grabbed the hem of her dress and arched off the seat so she could drag it over her head. It left her in only her bra, but Jack’s curse made the bold move more than worth it. She shook her hair out of her face. “It won’t be much longer.”
He didn’t take his gaze off her as he reached for the center console. “Fuck, Cora.” The blatant appreciate in his tone made her smile despite herself. Jack met her eyes. “This isn’t a one-time thing.”
“You. Me. This.” He motioned between them. “We do this, we’re doing this.”
The words were less than enlightening, but with his thumbs stroking intoxicating circles on her inner thighs, she wasn’t sure she cared. “Fine. Whatever. I need you inside me.”
His slow grin was foreplay all on its own. Jack traced his thumbs along the dip where her thighs met her hips. “Getting there.” He didn’t give her a chance to curse him. One second he was teasing her, the next he pushed two big fingers into her, filling her in a way that was nothing compared to the main course. She rolled her hips, trying to take him deeper, but Jack just chuckled and kept his strokes light.
Need built, stronger than it had any right to be. His scent wrapped around her in the close confines of the car, the tinted windows creating an intimate atmosphere despite where they were. Cora didn’t want intimate. She didn’t want soft. She sure as hell didn’t want slow. She grabbed his wrist. “Stop teasing me.”
“Come home with me.”
She blinked, surprised for what felt like the thousandth time that day. “What?”
“Come home with me, Cora.” Jack kept stroking her, his fingers unerringly gravitating to that sensitive spot inside her that could motivate her to do damn near anything. She gasped and he leaned down to eat the sound. His tongue stole her words even as his fingers continued their wicked work. Jack consumed her.
And then he stopped.
He pressed one last light kiss to her lips and sat back. “What’s your answer?”
She wasn’t even sure what the question was. Cora shook her head, trying to clear it. “This is emotional blackmail.”
“Hardly.” His thumb idly circled her clit, sending a wave of tension through her body. “This is me flat out saying that I want you naked in my bed, to do with as I please for several hours before we pass out. Reality can wait until tomorrow.”
Common sense said it was the perfect time to stop this before she got herself—and her heart—into trouble. No one had ever seen her the way Jack threatened to. She didn’t relish the thought of being stripped bare, only to be left in the dust when he moved on from his current crisis.
But if she didn’t jump now, she might never get the chance to again.
The thought of spending the rest of her life kicking herself for missing the chance to be with Jack again had her finding words she never thought she’d say. “Yes.”
“Yes?” His cobalt eyes watched her every move, making her feel strangely like prey. It wasn’t a comfortable feeling, but it wasn’t entirely unpleasant, either.
Cora swallowed hard. “Take me home with you, Jack.”
The Excerpt from Animal Attraction:
He spun her around and pressed her hands to the door, his big body at her back. “This is the door.”
“It’s a very nice door.”
“Mmm.” His hips thrust against her ass, and she swallowed hard, her body clenching in anticipation. The first-time nerves were gone. She knew what was coming, and she knew she would be coming before long. They might not be compatible in life, but their bodies didn’t know that. Levi pulled her hair off her neck and kissed her there, taking his time, the sensation of his lips and beard making her toes curl. “I picked it out myself.”
Picked out… Oh, right. The door.
She arched back into him, rubbing her ass against his cock. “You have good taste.”
“Funny you say that, because what I want most right now is to taste you.” He backed off enough to pull her jacket off and then one hand was on the front of her jeans, unbuttoning them deftly and dragging the zipper down. She felt that tiny vibration all the way through her body. There was nothing to say, though, because he slipped a big hand into her jeans, dipping beneath her panties, and speared a single finger into her.
Brooklyn moaned and tried to spread her legs. The move tightened her jeans, holding his hand in place. “I need you.”
“Tour’s not done yet.” He pumped as much as he was able. And then he withdrew his hand.
She couldn’t keep her whimper of protest in. She spun to face him, trying to shove out of her pants in the process, and nearly face-planted. “Levi.”
“Dresser.” He lifted her, and walked the handful of steps to the dresser to set her on it. Then he yanked off her jeans and tossed them behind him. “Better.”
He stepped between her thighs and kissed her. It was nothing like the last time. There was no careful and teasing exploration. Levi sucked and stroked and nipped her into a frenzy. His mouth drew sounds from her she wasn’t aware she could make. She wrapped her legs around his waist and clung to his shoulders and basically tried to climb him like a big, sexy tree, because she needed his cock and she needed it now.
He shifted and set her back on the dresser, untangling from her. “Mahogany.”
It took Brooklyn a few beats to catch up. She looked down at the piece of furniture she sat on and back at the man in front of her, his hard length creating a mouthwatering outline against his jeans. “I don’t care.”
“You should. It’s a family heirloom. My grandfather built it.” He hit his knees in front of her and spread her legs wider. “It was his wedding gift to my grandmother.”
She blinked. Didn’t expect that, either. Brooklyn tried to get a better look at the massive piece of furniture, but Levi chose that moment to lean in and drag his tongue up her center and suddenly, she didn’t give two fucks about what she sat on, as long as it didn’t fall apart beneath her. She gripped the edge of the dresser to keep from levitating right off it and looked down her body to meet his gaze.
The switch had been flipped again. Gone was the playfulness, replaced by that intensity that had tingles shooting down her spine. He really was something.
She half expected him to rush through the oral, but she really should have known better. Levi hitched her legs higher and went after her clit like it owed him money. He sucked and licked and growled against her skin as his grip tightened on her thighs.
Brooklyn was so lost in her pleasure, she didn’t notice that he’d half released her until she looked down to watch him again and saw that he was stroking himself. He jacked himself while licking her, as if he couldn’t contain himself and…
Her back bowed and she came with a cry. “Oh, my God.”
“You don’t have to call me God. Levi will do.” He kissed first one thigh and then the other. “But if you’re going to insist, I won’t stop you.”
“Shhhh. You don’t get to talk shit when I’m too weak from my fantastic orgasm to fight back.”
Levi rose and kissed her shoulder, her collar bone, her neck. “Honey, that’s the best time to talk shit.”
Copyright © 2017 Katee Robert
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