Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Review: Follow by Tessa Bailey

Follow by Tessa Bailey
Publication Date: October 30, 2017
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC sent by the author

Summary (from Goodreads):

He wants her soul. Too bad she already sold it. 

Family is everything to gambling den darling, Teresa Valentini. Blood comes first, especially before men. So when her brother lands himself in hot water, she’s willing to do whatever it takes to save him. And showing up topless in her unwitting savior’s motel room is turning out to be the furthest thing from a hardship…

Will Caruso is the bad boy of New York’s financial scene…and he just found out the very thing that drives his success is a damn lie. Now, he’s exchanged his high-stress life for the open road, no one but his Great Dane…and half a million Instagram followers to keep him company. When a mysterious beauty arrives, her secrecy prods his suspicions, even while she tempts his lust to the breaking point.

Teresa met Will under false pretenses, but the bond consuming them is real. They’re strong enough to overcome a little betrayal…aren’t they?

What I Liked:

Before I begin my review, just a small disclaimer... I received a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion. The review copy came from the author but the source of the review copy matters very little to me in terms of formulating an opinion. (In terms of legal issues... definitely. Please don't pirate. This book is so cheap!)

This is Tessa Bailey's first self-published novel, which might come as a surprise to some, because she has written and published so many adult romance novels, with small and big publishing houses. Nevertheless, Follow is her first foray into the self-publishing world. Self-published, traditionally published, it doesn't matter - her stories are so uniquely Tessa Bailey, with the hot, steamy romances, the intense romances, and the always-satisfying happily-ever-afters. Tessa Bailey is in a class all on her own when it comes to romance novels. Follow is one of her best yet.

There is Will Caruso, the son of a notorious crime boss in New York; the guy who has been vacationing for over a month, going to different places with his Great Dane; the guy who is filthy rich and has a successful company but wants nothing more to spend time with his dog - and away from his criminal father. And then there is Teresa Valentini, a young woman who loves her last family member - her brother - more than anything; a woman who is willing to make a deal with one of the most notorious crime bosses in New York in order to save her brother; a woman who didn't mean to fall for the crime boss's son - but did. She set out to seduce him and make him follow her back to New York, but instead she ended up falling for him - and he her. But what happens when the jig is up, and Will finds out who she really is?

One might think, on the surface, that this is a sexy romance novel with a lot of sex and not much else going on. But that person would be so wrong. Like any of Tessa's books, this story has so much depth, especially in terms of the characters. I'd say this book has even more depth, with the deception, the guilt, and the tumultuous and intense connection that Will and Teresa share. Both characters are so well-written and fleshed out; it was hard not to love them.

I especially loved Will, with his wicked and charming exterior and soft, warm interior. He is very smart, very driven, and very stubborn. He is so physical and male and a little bit aggressive, but not in an alphahole kind of way (though he is definitely an alpha). The respect and care he shows Teresa overshadows his protectiveness and occasional possessiveness. He's the type of alpha I like - dominating and commanding, yet sweet and caring without been forced.

And there is the fact that he basically went on hiatus with his dog, who he loves so much. His dog has a sickness and Will decided to throw caution out of the window and spend as much time as possible with his best friend. This was what inspired Follow, and there is a real Instagrammer that did this, and I think it's the sweetest thing.

I liked Teresa, with her bravery and strength and her determination to protect her family (in this case, Nicky, her brother and last surviving relative). She doesn't stop to think when he calls her and is in trouble - she just gets up and goes. Despite her deception (deceiving Will), she is a good person who was trying to save her brother. Falling for Will wasn't the plan and she definitely didn't plan on things going as far as they did.

This book. Is. HOT. Quite possibly Tessa's hottest book to date. This is the kind of book that is kinky without being hardcore "erotica", or BDSM, or anything like that. There is light dom-sub aspects to it, though not in a disciplined way. It takes some time before the steamy scenes really starts lighting up the pages, but the chemistry is always present from the moment Will and Teresa meet. I loved how Teresa grew more and more comfortable with her preferences and fantasies. I love how Will treated her so well, and how they seemed to fit together. There is no denying their physical connection. 

But there is no denying their emotional connection too. They fall for each other day after day, and not just because of the hot sex. Teresa sees how good of a man Will is, and Will sees how strong and fun of a person Teresa is. They bond and connect and it doesn't take much for them to fall in love. The timeline of this book is short, but you can feel them falling for each other

I wasn't worried about a HEA but I was slightly worried about the climax of the book, because of the obvious impending drama... clearly Will had to find out at some point, and of course he would be angry (justifiably so). But there was a lot less drama than I expected, in terms of the romance at the climax. Will and Teresa work things out fairly well, and I was on board with who did the apologizing (both of them), who did the chasing, who took the blame, who felt bad, etc.

All in all, this book was a fantastic read. It was classic Tessa Bailey, though it felt a little different. Maybe because it was hotter, maybe because it felt a little longer (that's a good thing), maybe because the concept of the story was a little different (crime/deception/underhand deals, etc.). But in any case, this is definitely a book I'll be thinking about in the future, and definitely in my top five favorite Tessa Bailey books.

What I Did Not Like:

I personally thought Tessa Bailey could have gone even further in terms of the sex in this book. There were so many potential scenes that seemed to set themselves up in this book, but they didn't happen. But then I suppose if the author wrote out every dirty scene between the hero and heroine, the book would be ten thousand pages long. BUT. There was a nagging feeling in the back of my head that the author could have gone a little further... or maybe a little more in terms of what she had.

Also, is it bad that I still don't know what Nicky was doing for Silas (Will's father)? Like what kind of crime ring Silas was running and how Nicky was involved? This could have been more explicit. It felt alluded to. Not a huge deal though.

Would I Recommend It:

Any Tessa Bailey fan should read this because it is one of her best, definitely not to be missed. I recommend this to people who haven't read any of her books and lot steamy hot adult romance novels - this is definitely a great place to start. You'll be hooked on Tessa Bailey's books in no time. This standalone is the type of book that is hotter than an "adult romance novel" but not quite "erotica" - but it's so hot and so enjoyable too, in terms of the story and the characters.


4 stars. I know this is a standalone but I wouldn't mind reading another epilogue with the pair. I love their physical dynamic and I honestly wouldn't mind seeing more of it in adult romance. Tessa Bailey did a great job with this story and I hope she continues to self-publish!

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Monday, October 30, 2017

Review: Flashtide by Jenny Moyer

Flashtide by Jenny Moyer
Book Two of the Flashfall series
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Publication Date: November 14, 2017
Rating: 3 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads):

Orion has survived the tunnels of Outpost Five, filled with mutant creatures and dangers around every bend. She has traversed the cordons, exposed to the radiation of the flash curtain and hunted by forces that want her stopped, dead or alive. Now, with Dram by her side, she has made it to the safety of the mountain provinces, where free Conjurors live and practice their craft of manipulating matter.

But Orion's story is far from over.

With the effects of the flashfall spreading and the might of the protected city of Alara looming, Orion must travel into the hands of her enemies once again. Heart-pounding action and adventure await in this sequel to Flashfall.

What I Liked:

When I first heard that there would be a sequel to Flashfall, I was very excited, though a little apprehensive. I loved Flashfall so, so much. It ended perfectly, just as a standalone would. So hearing about a sequel was exciting, but at the same time, I wanted Flashfall to be exactly as it was. Sequels are often lackluster and disappointing, to some capacity. Unfortunately, that was definitely the case with Flashtide. While I still highly recommend Flashfall, I also recommend stopping there.

In this sequel, Dram and Orion are surviving with the Conjurors, hiding and biding their time, waiting for news of their respective fathers. But when one of Orion's hasty plans go wrong, Orion, Dram, and Roran are captured and taken to Alara. There, they are made Delvers and Brunts, enslaved in a different kind of priso. All the while, the effects of the flashfall are worsening, and Orion and Dram's health is waning. But in the midst of despair there is hope, and a shocking surprise that will change the course of events throughout all of the lands.

I had more dislikes than likes, so this review might seem all over the place. I didn't care for the story in general, or the pacing, and definitely not what Orion and Dram had to go through. Things I did like: Dram, Dram and Orion's relationship, love-triangle-free story, and the ending.

Dram was wonderful even when he wasn't at his best. He suffered so much and had to go through so many nightmares, and it was so difficult to watch. But he is strong, stronger than Orion, stronger than any other character in this book, and I have so much respect for him. He is so brave and selfless, and his best qualities make him a shining star in this story's darkness. 

I loved Orion in the previous book, and I liked her for the most part in this book, but somehow I was a little less on her side than I was in the previous book. She made a lot of mistakes and could have handled a lot of things differently. Still, she was incredibly brave and strong like Dram, and even though she messed up a lot, she learned from and made up for her mistakes.

Despite the pair going through all kinds of nightmares and hell, their relationship stayed incredibly unshakable. There were many times in which it seemed like there would be no hope, because of death, or despair, or imprisonment. But I love how strong the bond between Dram and Orion is, and how it seemed to be present even when they were occupying the same space. I hated that they weren't together for many chunks of the book, but I was happy to see them fight for each other.

And YAY for no love triangle. Not that I was worried about one appearing (I wasn't), but it's always good to affirm that there is no love triangle in a book.

This book is awesome YA science fiction, I'll give it that. I love science fiction and so I'm always looking for new ones to read. YA doesn't have a ton of sci-fi, besides dystopias and space operas. This book deals with coronal mass ejections and solar flares and mines, which is so cool.

The ending is very happily-ever-after, and made me smile. Despite all that they went through, Dram and Orion forge on. They never give up hope and they are rewarded for it. I so wish there had been some sort of epilogue, especially if it reflected on Dram's promise to Orion. Hint, hint!

What I Did Not Like:

I really struggled with this book. From the start, I had a hard time continuing with the story. I kept asking myself, what's the point? Where is this going? What is the conflict? Why is this happening and that happening? I didn't get a good grasp of the overall conflict of this book. With Flashfall, it was obvious what Dram and Orion were fighting for and up against. In this book, I got a good sense from scene to scene, but not the overall conflict.

And besides that, I found this book to be a little on the boring side. I had to start skimming pages in order to keep myself invested in the story. I went back and reread some of the passages I skimmed and they added nothing to my understand - or lack thereof - of the story. I was bored, and a little confused, and very disinterested.

I couldn't quite connect with Orion like I did in Flashfall. She made costly mistakes in this book, and those mistakes came from plans that didn't seem like her. Her plans didn't seem calculating and thought-out, like one would expect from her.

I hated how much Dram had to suffer. He had to suffer the most in the book, and it was so painful to watch. Orion didn't have suffer nearly as much. I take so much issue with this because she is the protagonist - why is she not sharing some of this suffering? Why do authors do this? Why shift all of the negativity and pain to one character? Especially the best and most selfless character of the book - why? Dram deserved better. His suffering wasn't specifically Orion's fault - I'm just saying she should have also suffered from something else, or he should have suffered less. Honestly I expected him to have PTSD or something, from all that he had to go through. The poor guy!

Also, the romance is barely there in this book! Yes, it is obvious how strong Dram and Orion's bond is. But they are rarely together, after the one-third mark or so. The romance was huge in Flashfall. It's not such a factor in this book.

I think the biggest thing was that I didn't know where this book was going. What was Orion striving to achieve? At first I thought she was trying to save her friends and father and whatnot. But then, after she and Dram get captured, I lost the aim of the book. And in the climax, what exactly happened? What did Orion do that changed X and Y and Z? What were those changes? I was very confused as to how the "big" things changed. There was a lot going on in the climax and not a lot of it made sense to me. And yes, I tried very hard to read the climax and ending closely. 

At least the ending in general was a HEA.

Would I Recommend It:

I actually would not recommend reading this sequel novel. Flashfall wrapped up perfectly and you should stop there. I really recommend Flashfall, as it was one of my favorite books of 2016. But this book isn't necessary (though it is a direct sequel). This book doesn't really add a lot to Dram and Orion's story - well, what I mean is that the ending of each book are the same HEA (which is good... but also I still don't quite understand the point of this book). While I was very satisfied with the ending of this book (and the series in general), I really can't declare that I loved a book based on its ending. I'm relieved that there was a HEA but I needed more than that.

Read Flashfall though. It was excellent. And the romance was so THERE.


3 stars. I'm sad to give this book a meh rating because I adored Flashfall. But this sequel did not live up to its predecessor. The good thing is that Flashfall is basically a contained story and you could shut your eyes and pretend Flashtide was not a thing. And I'm sure people who try Flashtide might have a different reaction than mine. But for me... this book was a little disappointing.

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Release Day Blitz: Follow by Tessa Bailey

Happy Monday, bibliovores! Today is the release day of Follow by Tessa Bailey!

I'll be reviewing this one tomorrow. You don't want to miss this hawt book! You can read a different excerpt of the book HERE. And there is a new one below!

About the Book:

Follow by Tessa Bailey
Publication Date: October 30, 2017

Official Summary:

He wants her soul. Too bad she already sold it. 

Family is everything to gambling den darling, Teresa Valentini. Blood comes first, especially before men. So when her brother lands himself in hot water, she’s willing to do whatever it takes to save him. And showing up topless in her unwitting savior’s motel room is turning out to be the furthest thing from a hardship…

Will Caruso is the bad boy of New York’s financial scene…and he just found out the very thing that drives his success is a damn lie. Now, he’s exchanged his high-stress life for the open road, no one but his Great Dane…and half a million Instagram followers to keep him company. When a mysterious beauty arrives, her secrecy prods his suspicions, even while she tempts his lust to the breaking point.

Teresa met Will under false pretenses, but the bond consuming them is real. They’re strong enough to overcome a little betrayal…aren’t they?

About the Author:

Tessa Bailey is originally from Carlsbad, California. The day after high school graduation, she packed her yearbook, ripped jeans and laptop, driving cross-country to New York City in under four days. Her most valuable life experiences were learned thereafter while waitressing at K-Dees, a Manhattan pub owned by her uncle. Inside those four walls, she met her husband, best friend and discovered the magic of classic rock, managing to put herself through Kingsborough Community College and the English program at Pace University at the same time. Several stunted attempts to enter the work force as a journalist followed, but romance writing continued to demand her attention. She now lives in Long Island, New York with her husband of eight years and four-year-old daughter. Although she is severely sleep-deprived, she is incredibly happy to be living her dream of writing about people falling in love. 

The Excerpt:

The cheers are deafening. Will hoots and rises from his chair, moving into a spot behind mine. Paula takes his place across from me. Everyone crowds in on all sides. And suddenly my world has been narrowed down to an arm wrestling arena. 

“All right, baby.” Will’s voice smokes into my ear. “Here’s how we get to five seconds. You’re going to top-roll.” 

We? And what is that?” 

I sound like a hysterical cartoon character, but Will continues undaunted, his breath on my neck, his thumb massaging me between the shoulder blades. “If we make this a bicep game, she’s got you beat, so we’re going to make it about hands, fingers and wrists, to ease the disadvantage. You’re going to work your palm upwards, along hers, like you’re trying to wrap your hand around the top part of hers. Just hold firm and focus on coming over the top of her.” 

Paula is mean mugging me across the table, gum being mutilated between her teeth. “I thought you ran a hedge fund,” I mutter to Will.

“I didn’t always,” he mutters, laying a kiss on my cheek. “Five seconds. You got this.” 

“I was wondering why you aren’t already married. Mystery solved. You get a lap dance from your date. Then she gets her arm torn off.” 

Another kiss and this time his lips linger on my temple. “You could look at it that way. Or you could look at it mine. Thank fuck I’m not married or I’d have missed the girl who gave me a lap dance, then took on the local gator-wrestling champ. All before lunchtime.” His fingers slide up into my hair and tug, firm and gentle all at once. “Thank fuck, right?”

Today is the day to buy this book! It's only $3.99. Let's give Tessa Bailey a warm welcome into the self-publishing world!

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Review: Captive Bride by Katharine Ashe

Captive Bride by Katharine Ashe
Publication Date: October 13, 2012
Rating: 4 stars
Source: Review copy provided by the author

Summary (from Goodreads):

From the bestselling author of The Earl and My Lady, My Lord comes a delectably sexy tale of a lady torn between loyalty to her family and the man of every one of her forbidden dreams. A dark castle, a handsome lord, and a wicked ghost... When Bea Sinclaire's scapegrace brother begs her help to rescue a maiden from a haunted castle, she seizes the chance for adventure. If only Lord Peter "Tip" Cheriot didn't insist on coming along. How can she maintain a clear head in the face of danger when Tip is so utterly, deliciously distracting? Then an alluring ghost makes Bea a shocking offer, and he won't take no for an answer. Tip Cheriot has loved Bea forever, and he's determined to have her-no matter how scandalous his past. But a cursed specter has claimed Bea as his bride, and Tip must save her from eternal darkness before All Hallows Eve. In the race to capture the heart of one daring lady, it's every man-and ghost-for himself. * This is an reissue of the original 2012 edition, with minor editorial changes and exclusive BONUS MATERIAL: the Captive Bride playlist. 

What I Liked:

This book was originally published in 2012, but the author reissued the book after changing the cover and doing a little revising and editing. I absolutely love this new cover - it's so lush and dramatic and beautiful. I received a copy from Ashe but this has in no way affected my opinion of the book.

That being said, I really enjoyed this book. I decided to pick it up on a whim because there are only a few days until Halloween, and this seemed like a great romance novel to read during the Halloween season. A haunted castle, a villainous ghost, a delicious tug-of-way romance? Sold!

Beatrice Sinclaire is used to getting her twin brother out of trouble. She is used to doing everything her overbearing mother tells her to do. She is used to Lord Peter Cheriot proposing to her every couple of months. She is used to telling him no, despite having been in love with him for years. What she isn't used to is getting a letter from her brother, who is in Wales, telling her that there is a maiden in a haunted castle, and she (Bea) must help him with the situation. Bea - and Peter, and Bea's great-aunts - travels to Wales and discovers that there is a ghost in the castle and he is very much real. He has been cursed and is determined to break the curse by marrying a virgin maid, as the curse dictates. That could be Lady Bronwyn, the maiden that Thomas (Bea's brother) is determined to save... or that could be Bea. They only have a few nights until All Hallows Eve, when the ghost will take what he demands. 

I'd never read a Regency romance with a ghost involved! This ghost was determined to ruin lives - or it seemed. He was actually quite lonely, not that that excuses his actions. In any case, a ghost in a dark, haunted castle is an intriguing feature and I was a huge fan. 

I liked Peter (or "Tip", as he is nicknamed) from the start. He is charming and sweet and very considerate, and he has a teasing, wicked nature about him. He is always asking Bea to marry him, even though she always says no. I love how nice he is to Bea's mother and great-aunts, and how he clearly tries to please everyone else. He isn't a pushover but he is so considerate of everyone. Perhaps it is his status (he has title and wealth, whereas Bea's family doesn't), but I think it's more of him being a very good guy. He is persistent and protective and he is prone to a little jealousy, at times. He's a great example of how attractive an alpha male can be, when written well.

Bea was fun to follow, though I liked Peter more. She is clever and intelligent, though occasionally she is a little dense. I think the lady protested too much and sometimes she was a little hypocritical - but that was all part of her character development. She protected her heart and didn't want to believe that Peter was actually serious about proposing. She loved him since they were young, but she hadn't know that he was being serious with her. Bea's character development is the most profound because she has the most to come to terms with. She realizes that Peter is serious, that he is a good guy, that he loves her, that he wants her just as much as she wants him.

For once, the aunties in the story are actually really sweet and helpful, and not annoying or bothersome. They weren't even c**k-blockers - they actually were silently cheering for Peter/Bea to be a thing! I loved the two aunts, especially Aunt Julia. She was so sweet and supportive. And Aunt Grace was firm and supportive and didn't put up with Bea's constant denial. 

I hated Thomas and didn't really care for Lady Bronwyn, but I'm glad they got their happy ending. I hated Bea's parents but I was happy to see Bea's mother grow up and stop treating Bea like an ugly stepchild, when in fact Bea had always been her best child. 

The romance is very sweet, full of banter and a tug-of-way in terms of chemistry. Bea wants Peter desperately, but she isn't sure he is serious about her. Peter wants Bea desperately, but of course she has turned down every one of his proposals, so naturally he wonders if she doesn't want him. But the chemistry between them is super hot and never lets up. There are some great sexy times in this book, even with it being a shorter book. I loved seeing Peter and Bea grow in their love for each other, especially upon realizing that the other has feelings for them.

This was a fun, sexy, and thrilling read that is perfect for Halloween! It ends wonderfully and it's a romance novel that I will be rereading. File this under one of Ashe's best!

What I Did Not Like:

I wish Bea would have stopped putting herself in denial and being a hypocrite - BUT I recognize that that was all part of her character development throughout the story. But still, it got tedious. Good thing Peter had an iron will and unbending persistence. He is a sweetheart!

Would I Recommend It:

If you have enjoyed any of Ashe's books, give this one a try! She self-published it and it's fairly cheap on Amazon Kindle, cheaper than a publisher's price. It's perfect for Halloween - not a scary book, but there is definitely haunting vibe to it, with the ghost and the castle and everything boiling down to All Hallows Eve. Romance + Halloween vibes = win!


4 stars. I'm going to dig through some of Ashe's older books, because it seems like I've been enjoying those! I adored her Prince Catchers series, The Scoundrel & IThe Pirate & I... her latest series has been up and down for me but I'm sticking it out. I have Swept Away by a Kiss and may try it soon!

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Saturday, October 28, 2017

Stacking the Shelves (#253)

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews, in which bloggers share the books and swag they've received in the past week!

So, what did I get in the week of Sunday, October 22nd to Saturday, October 28th?

(all links to Goodreads are provided!)

In the mail:

Haven by Mary Lindsay promo package, including the hardcover, mug, tote bag, and more

Thank you, Entangled Teen! This is really timely because I had just been looking at this book on Goodreads the other day, and thinking about requesting it from Entangled. And then this appeared on my doorstep! The Entangled publicists must be able to read minds. I absolutely love everything about this package!

Phew! That was a lot! Thank you, Tor (for the top four), Simon & Schuster (for Dork Diaries), and Little Brown (for Instructions). I grouped these because all of them were unsolicited and I'd not heard of a single one. But I appreciate them all!

The Empress by S.J. Kincaid promo package, including the hardcover, a candle, and three bath bombs!

Rebel/Hero/Traitor tattoos from the Rebel of the Sands series

Thank you so much, Alwyn! These are perfect for my collection. 😍 She is the nicest!

From The Ivy Bookshop:

A Classics Penguin tote bag

I went to The Ivy Bookshop's Penguin Random House Rep Night on Tuesday! The reps were of adult fiction imprints (like Riverhead and Knopf), but it was still very interesting and I learned a lot about adult fiction (think: book-club fiction). They gave everyone tote bags! I didn't buy any of the books that the reps recommended (sorry y'all, I'm not really into that kind of fiction), but I did buy some PRH books I'd been meaning to buy for forever - these two! Support your indies, friends!

From NetGalley:

Woohoo! I love Christmas novellas. Thank you, Forever!

Reviews from this week:

(Click on the covers to go to my reviews!)

Favorite Instagram post from this week:

I had a great week, especially on Thursday! Thursday started out terribly but ended up being amazing - which I love. It's lovely when the biggest disasters can turn around and become a really good thing. I'm a firm believer in everything happening for a reason. I'll be catching up on small tasks that need to get done - and possibly done some Christmas-related things! I love Christmas, and the winter holidays in general. My favorite time of year!

Friday, October 27, 2017

Review: The Negotiator by HelenKay Dimon

The Negotiator by HelenKay Dimon
Book 2.5 of the Games People Play series
Publisher: Avon Impulse
Publication Date: November 14, 2017
Rating: 3 stars
Source: eARC from Edelweiss

Summary (from Goodreads):

Lauren Gallagher’s life changed almost three years ago. After her husband disappeared at sea, she was left with a failing pleasure boat company and more than a few secrets. Now, after years spent rebuilding the business and paying off the pile of debts, she finally feels in control. But when she finds her husband, actually dead, on the floor, she becomes the leading suspect in his murder investigation.

Garrett McGrath wants Lauren in his bed, not his heart. He doesn’t do emotions, but every time he sees her, holding himself back gets harder and harder. When Lauren comes under suspicion for killing her previously presumed-dead husband, he knows he has to help her, any way he can.

But as the danger becomes more intense and Garret and Lauren grow closer than either planned, they’re in danger of losing everything…including their hearts.

What I Liked:

This is one of those cases in which I'm like, "it was good buuuuuuuut...". I love HelenKay Dimon's books and haven't been disappointed yet. My favorite of hers is probably Mine, a book in another series. The Games People Play series has been pretty good so far - not as steamy as I expected, but very intriguing in terms of the light suspense and mystery. I'd been waiting for Garrett and Lauren's story since reading book one because they have a lot of great chemistry in the first two books. Now that I've read this novella... I don't necessarily think there was anything wrong with the novella - I think it was my preferences that got in the way of me loving it.

Garrett McGrath has been chasing Lauren Gallagher for months, but she has turned him down every time he asks her out. He doesn't usually do the chase, or invest so much time and effort into one woman, but something about Lauren has always drawn him to her. Lauren's husband was declared dead after he went missing at sea... but one day, suddenly, he show up, very much not dead, and still the infuriating money-seeking idiot who is trying to get his hands on her house. By the end of the day, he is dead in her house. It wasn't Lauren, but as the estranged wife, she is the primary suspect. She calls Garrett for help, and with him comes Matthias and Kayla. Secrets are revealed and suspects are discovered, but it's Garrett and Lauren's love life that begins to unfold.

I adored Garrett, mostly because he is so dependable and kind. He is always there for Lauren, and his friends too. He is very protective and stubborn, and he's a very good negotiator. I like that he never backed down and never gave up. He might be a nice guy, but he is a hardened former spy that knows how to get what he wants. He is a good guy, probably too good for Lauren.

I didn't love Lauren, but parts of her I liked or at least understood. Mostly I didn't like her. But of course you have to feel bad for someone who ended up with such a crappy husband - the crazy ones don't always seem crazy at first.

The mystery of whodunit seemed obvious to me from the start, though Dimon tried to keep readers off the trail for a little while. It's a short book (a novella) so you start to see the real suspect quickly. That made sense and Dimon wrote the motives and purpose really well. 

Despite this being a short book, there were a few good sexy times, and Dimon always write good chemistry. Of course I found this series in general to be less steamy than some of her previous series, but the chemistry is always cooked up well.

The ending is cute and definitely a happily-ever-after. Garrett and Lauren have a lot to figure out, but they clearly fit together well. Garrett is such a nice guy and I'm glad he got his HEA. Lauren too, for all the crap she had to put up with her former husband. This was a short, quick read that is a great addition to the series, if you're a fan of the books (or Dimon's books in general). 

What I Did Not Like:

I really didn't connect with Lauren. Maybe because she was so walled off? Maybe because she pushed Garrett away one too many times? Even when she was pulling him closer, I didn't like how she didn't see him as the real deal...

... Which leads me to the next thing I don't like and haven't liked in many adult romance novels that I've read recently. Can we stop with having an alpha female s**t all over a nice, sweet, selfless hero? Why is it that heroes these days FALL OVER THEMSELVES to cater to the heroine, and the heroine simply pushes him around, uses him, takes advantages, whatever, and this is okay? I truly disagree with this brand of feminism (or whatever it is). Check yourselves, ladies. Of course, this could be part of a "fantasy" in romance - a man who caters to your every whim and you treat him like crap and he's still there. That's a really odd fantasy and I personally am not a fan. That just seems so disrespectful to another human being.

In terms of the conflict resolution, I really dislike that it was Garrett to come back and apologize. No no no no no. Lauren needed to be doing the grovelling. Garrett did very little wrong.

Lauren was also really clueless, which bothered me because she was supposed to be this smart and sexy woman. Instead she seemed... kind of average and very ditsy?

Also? Small thing but this is supposed to be a Christmas novella and I barely got any Christmas vibes. I love Christmas! I wanted more Christmas! Whenever Christmas was managed (the few times), it was always depressing. Sad life!

Would I Recommend It:

I recommend the other books in the series (The Fixer, The Enforcer), but this novella could be skipped. Of course, fans of the series should try it for themselves, but if you're only now getting into the series, skip this novella. I generally skip novellas because they add so little BUT this one was good because it had a complete love story. It's just too bad I didn't like the heroine.


3 stars. I hate 3-star reviews! They're so hard to write. I think I would have completely loved this book if I had liked the heroine. I felt frustrated by her and didn't really care for her tough-girl act and her clueless self. But I liked Garrett a lot and I can never get enough of happily-ever-afters. I'm hoping to be reading the next book, The Pretender, very soon!

Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Blog Tour: Renegades by Marissa Meyer

Welcome to the blog tour for Renegades by Marissa Meyer! This new novel of hers is jam-packed with action, deception, and good old-fashioned fun. You don't want to miss it! You can read my review of the book next week, but for now, take a peek at my mood board below!

About the Book:

Renegades by Marissa Meyer
Book One of the Renegades series
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication Date: November 7, 2017

Official Summary:

Secret Identities. Extraordinary Powers. She wants vengeance. He wants justice.

The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies—humans with extraordinary abilities—who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone...except the villains they once overthrew.

Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice—and in Nova. But Nova's allegiance is to a villain who has the power to end them both.

About the Author:

MARISSA MEYER is the #1 New York Times–bestselling author of The Lunar Chronicles series, as well as the graphic novel Wires and Nerve: Vol. 1, and The Lunar Chronicles Coloring Book. Her first stand alone novel, Heartless, was also a #1 New York Times bestseller. She lives in Tacoma, Washington, with her husband and their two daughters.

The Trailer:

My Mood Board:

Are you excited to read this book? What's your favorite Marissa Meyer book? Superhero book? Superhero?

Swoon Thursday (#248): Once Upon a Maiden Lane by Elizabeth Hoyt

- From the book you’re currently reading, or one you just finished, tell us what made you SWOON. What got your heart pounding, your skin tingling, and your stomach fluttering

- Try to make the swoon excerpt 140 characters (or less), if you are going to tweet about it. Use the hashtag #YABOUND when tweeting

This week, my swoon is from Once Upon a Maiden Lane by Elizabeth Hoyt!

She chose a tart and placed it on a delicate china plate. "Very well, Henry, though I must point out that the kiss was quite fleeting."

"It was, wasn't it?" he said, his voice deeper.

"One might even conclude that it doesn't count as a kiss at all," she mused. She lowered her eyelashes demurely as she bit into the tart, waiting breathlessly for his response.

There was a moment of silence during which all she heard was the pounding of her pulse.

Then Henry set his teacup firmly on the table, rose, and moved to the settee next to Mary. He took her teacup and plate out of her unresisting hands, placed them aside, and drew her into his arms.

He kissed her.

He took possession of her lips without any sort of hesitation, parting them and running his tongue along the edge of her bottom lip.

Mary stifled a moan as pleasure burst through her body.

She'd wondered if what she'd felt with that first kiss might just be an oddity. Something that couldn't be replicated.

But it hadn't.

It was he - Henry

eARC, page 76

This novella was awesome! Henry and Mary are so cute together - the back-and-forth banter was so fun to read. This is only a novella but it's a wonderful story. I'm going to miss this series!