Category Archives: Reviews

Review: Blaze of Winter by Elisabeth Barrett (Star Harbor #2)

Summary: In the second book of the Star Harbor Series, Seb’s twin brother, Theo, returns to Star Harbor in an effort to shake his writer’s block.  Theo is a widely successful author of fiction and his editor has been breathing down his neck.  Feeling stifled by his life in San Fransisco, he decides some time in his hometown might be just what he needs to gain some perspective and refocus on his work.  After a tragedy at work, social worker Avery takes a leave from her job in Boston to travel to Star Harbor to help her aunt run the Inn.  She meets Theo when he takes a room at the Inn and sparks fly from their first meeting.  Theo is immediately intrigued by Avery and pursues her relentlessly, convinced that if Avery would just open up that they could have something magical.  But, despite her deep attraction to him, Avery refuses to let Theo in, which might cause her to lose him forever.  Add some bumps in the night (is the Inn haunted?) and the return of the hilarious cast of characters from the first book in the series (including 3 more hot Grayson brothers) and you get a fast-pased and entertaining contemorary romance novel.

Rating: 4/5

Reasons: I really liked this book! The second book in the Star Harbor series, this book picks right up where the last one left off.  And if you liked Seb Grayson, you will LOVE his twin brother Theo!  He was such a great guy – honest, direct, romantic and a really sweet guy.  But, like all “alpha males” he knew what he wanted and went for it – Avery.  I also really enjoyed Avery’s character.  She was strongwilled, dedicated to her job and her clients, and focussed on helping her aunt through a difficult time.  She was awesome.

I really enjoyed the return of all of our favourite characters, including the last 2 Grayson brothers.  The author was already setting us up for the next installment, which I will definitely read. 

The author added in some “action” to keep things moving, and I found that this helped with the pacing of the book.

Overall, it was a great read and I would definitely recommend this book (and series) to anyone looking for a good contemporary romance.

*This book was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: Deep Autumn Heat (Star Harbor #1) by Elisabeth Barrett

Summary: In order to escape an abusive ex-boyfriend, Lexie Meyers moves across the country from California to Star Harbor, Massachusetts.  An amazing chef and baker, Lexie opens her own restaurant and begins to build a new life for herself.  Sebastian Grayson, celebrity chef and major player, returns to Star Harbor from New York City for a long weekend to reconnect with his 3 brothers.  When the two meet, Seb decides to extend his trip, claiming that he wants to focus on his new restaurant and television show.  In his heart, though, he knows that he wants more time getting to know the intriguing Lexie.  But, Lexie has been burned in the past, and she’s not willing to give her heart away a second time.  As Lexie’s past comes back to haunt her, will she allow Seb close enough to reveal his true feelings for her?  Is she strong enough to admit that she has feelings for him too?

Rating: 4/5

Reasons:  This was an easy, light, romantic read.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I was in the mood for something “fluffy” and this book hit the spot.  I enjoyed the author’s description of the small town and the people living in it.  Lexie was a great female lead – strong, determined, a survivor definitely.  She was so afraid to get hurt again that she tried to bury the feelings she was developing for Seb.  Oh, Seb.  You were kind of obnoxious but I loved you anyways.  Not afraid to tell Lexie what you were feeling, you captured her (and my) heart.  I mean, a tall, dark, handsome, sexy man on a motorcycle who can cook you an amazing breakfast in the morning – what else could a woman need or want?

I know this book is part of a series, so it was interesting to see how the author introduced the other Grayson brothers in this first installment.  The next book is about Seb’s twin, Theo, and I will read that soon.  I really liked how the brothers were such a tight family unit.  I also really loved how they were such troublemakers as children, and all their pranks were hilarious.

My only negative, which isn’t really a negative at all, is that this book reminded me of Jill Shalvis’ Lucky Harbour Series, which I have already read and absolutely LOVED.  So, I guess compared to those books, this book fell a little flat – BUT I still really, really enjoyed Deep Autumn Heat and plan on reading the next book in the series.

**NOTE: This book was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Review: About Last Night by Ruthie Knox

Summary: Mary Catherine (but her friends call her Cath), is a reformed bad-girl from Chicago now living in London.  Since she was 14, Cath lived a wild life filled with drinking, drugs, and lots of boys.  She was a wild-child into her twenties, but after her mother’s death two years ago, she decides to change her ways and “New Cath” was born.   New Cath doesn’t drink, doesn’t date (in fact, doesn’t even flirt), certainly doesn’t have sex, and works herself to the bone as an assistant to the curator at a museum.  New Cath is doing just fine until one morning she wakes up, hungover, in a stranger’s bed.  Uh oh.

After finding a very drunk Cath late at night, Nev brings her home to keep her out of trouble.  What he doesn’t expect is to feel an instant connection with her.  He can’t get her out of his head.  The two start a heated romance, but Cath won’t open up to him.  She won’t tell him about herself, her past, nothing.  Nev tries to break through, and just when he begins to get a glimpse past Cath’s tough exterior something happens to tear them apart. 

This is a lovely story about love, loss, finding who you are and acceptance.

Rating: 3.5-4/5 stars

Reasons:  I didn’t expect to like this story as much as I did.  Primarily, I really enjoyed the characters.  I thought Cath was a great character – she was strong, determined, definitely flawed, but also lovable.  But, oh Nev! What a great guy.  Sure he had some family issues, but he was just so honest, and strong, and sweet and totally devoted to Cath from the beginning.  I loved the scenes when he was pursuing her.  And I loved that Cath tried so hard to deny her feelings, but then ended up showing up on his doorstep night after night. 

The passion between the two characters was well described, and I totally fell for it.  Hook.  Line.  Sinker.  The romance aspect didn’t feel contrived to me.  I felt that their relationship developed organically – from their instant attraction, to the gradual development of their relationship. 

My only negative (and which brought by rating down from a solid 4/5) was that the book was a little short – I would have liked to see the ending developed a little bit more.  It seemed a bit trite to me how everything worked out (I won’t say more because I don’t want to give it away). 

Overall, I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for an adult fiction romance.  There is a ton of romance, enough steam, and a male character you will definitely have a crush on by the end of the book!

**A copy of the manuscript was provided to me for free by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Enslaved (Eternal Guardians #5) by Elisabeth Naughton

Summary: I first read this book not realizing that it was the fifth book in a series.  There was enough background information that you could read it as a stand alone, but I have to admit that after reading Enslaved, I went back and read the first four books in the series.  I loved them all. 

Enslaved is the story of Gryphon, an Argonaut (warrior/protector/hottie), who is trying to adjust to life on Earth after spending several months locked in Tarturus being tortured by Hades.   In book four, his brother, Orpheus, went into the Underworld to rescue him, and brought him to a half-breed colony in Montana to try to help Gryphon recover from his time in Tartarus.  But, although his body and soul are technically free, Gryphon cannot escape the voice in his head, calling to him.  He knows that the voice is that of Atalanta, the Goddess who has over the years amassed an army of daemons in her quest to take over the Human Realm and destroy the Argonauts.  As he tries to resist the unnatural connection he now has with Atalanta, and ignore her voice in his head, Gryphon has never felt more alone. 

Maelea is also staying at the colony.  She can sense changes in energy, and because of her “gift” was approached by Orpheus to help him get the tools he needed to enter the Underworld to save Gryphon.  But, by involving her, Orpheus unknowingly put Maelea’s lift in danger, so he is forcing her to stay with the colony to try to keep her safe.  But Maelea has been on her own for a very long time, and she has her own secrets, and she does not want to put anyone’s life in jeopardy because of her.  So, she  plots her escape and one night she acts…

Only, Gryphon has also been planning his escape from the colony.  And the two collide in the middle of both trying to get free.  Circumstances and threats keep them together, but Gryphon cannot ignore the fact that the voice in his head dims whenever Maelea is around.  Oh, and there’s this crazy sexual heat between them that neither can ignore, no matter how hard they try. 

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Reasons:  Okay, so you can tell by the summary that this book is not a contemporary romance.  It’s pure fantasy, based on Greek mythology but set in modern times.  It’s the best of both worlds.  The Argonauts are warriors of the highest order, with rock-hard bodies and honor ingrained in them, but they wear faded jeans and talk like any modern bad-boy.  Ummmm, yes please!  There were great steamy scenes, but also tons of romance, angst, love and emotion.

The story is full of action.  Because it’s all based on mythology, the reader gets to just accept what’s happening (as opposed to with a contemporary novel where I tend to judge the characters’ reactions as believable or not).  Because I hadn’t read the earlier novels, I was a little bit lost in the beginning, but after catching up it all comes together.   As I mentioned earlier, you could read this one as a standalone, but it obviously makes more sense to read the earlier books (or at least book 4) to get the full backstory.  And the other books are GOOD!

I loved the world-building in the book.  I could really picture what was happening – the author was descriptive, but didn’t overdo it with descriptions the reader didn’t need.  There were a lot of characters to keep track of, but it wasn’t confusing once you get into the book.  If you have any recollection of greek mythology, that knowledge will help you through the beginning.

Overall, I recommend this book to anyone looking for a great action novel filled with romance, angst and steam!  There were a number of sex scenes and a lot of cursing, so I would only recommend this book for older readers. 

**I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

No Turning Back and Turn to Me (Kathleen Turner Series #1 and #2) by Tiffany A. Snow

I just read the first two books in this series one after another, and the second picks up right after the first book ends, so I thought I would review them together.  This dual review may contain spoilers, although I will try my best to not do so.

Summary:

Book #1

We are introduced to Kathleen Turner (no, not that Kathleen Turner), a 23 year old runner at a law firm/part-time bartender.  She recently moved  to Indianapolis after the death of her mother (her father had passed away several years earlier).  While working at the law firm, she meets partner, Blane Kirk, after she clumsily, and literally, falls face first into his lap in the middle of a meeting.  Blane is incredibly attractive and powerful, so it’s no surprise to Kathleen that she feels attracted to him.  But, his long-list of past, short-term girlfriends have Kathleen doing her best to avoid him in order to protect herself from the inevitable hurt she will face if she opens herself up to him.  What she never expects, is that Blane feels an attraction to her as well, and he begins to aggressively pursue her. 

In the meantime, Kathleen’s friend and neighbour, Sheila, is brutally murdered in her apartment.  After discovering her body, Kathleen calls Blane, asking her to help him.  In the midst of her grief over losing her friend, and all of the unanswered questions surrounding her death, Kathleen and Blane begin a heated affair.  Unable to let it go, Kathleen begins investigating Sheila’s death, and the next thing she knows her own life is being threatened and dead bodies start piling up.  And then there’s that sexy assassin Kade, whom Kathleen can’t seem to figure out (or stop thinking about) – if Kade was sent to kill her why does he keep saving her life? 

Book #2

As soon as the threat in book 1 is resolved, Kathleen finds herself in trouble again.  Blane is involved in a high-profile case defending his friend, Navy Seal Kyle, in a wrongful death suit after an American is killed by him in Afghanistan.  The case attracts a lot of media and political attention, but it becomes clear that someone has a particular interest in seeing Blane lose the case after someone starts shooting at him and Kathleen.  Kathleen’s life is threatened again, but she vows to take care of herself and figure out who is trying to hurt Blane.  Kathleen again becomes embroiled in trying to solve the case, despite that people around her keep getting killed.  When Blane does the unspeakable, and breaks Kathleen’s heart, she becomes torn between him and Kade as she tries to decipher her feelings for these two different men. 

Rating: Both 5/5

Reasons:  I won’t say that these books are perfect, because they are not.  There are a number of issues with sentence structure, grammer, the writing, etc., but I still gave them 5/5 because (a) I found the story gripping and past-pased, (b) there was enough sexual tension and steam to sink the Titanic, and (c) I overall enjoyed reading them.

Let’s first discuss the action in the books.  Wowsers.  Kathleen didn’t have a day without being shot at, punched in the face, mugged, attacked, etc.  At times, it felt a little bit “too much”, but overall the book was fast-paced and moved along quite well.  Certainly never a dull moment.

The characters in the book were well-written.  Kathleen was a bit too naive for my liking (doesn’t she learn not to trust complete strangers?) but I understood her motivations for being overly trusting.  I really liked Blane and Kade.  Blane was a pure alpha male, but with a softer side.  Now, let’s talk about Kade.  Holy hotness batman.  Kade was pretty much the epidome of hot – tall, dark, handsome, sarcastic, though exterior but with a hidden softer side.  I loved him from the beginning.  Without ruining anything, the scene in the first book when they are in the motel room together – I freakin melted during that scene.

The books were rife with sexual tension, but with enough steamy scenes to satisfy the reader.  The sex scenes were HOT!

Overally, I would recommend these books to anyone looking for adult, contemporary, murder mystery with lots of steam.

 

Review: Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

Summary: Set over one night, we follow Lucy as she searches for the mysterious graffiti artist known as Shadow.  On her quest, Lucy and her best friend Jazz run into Ed and a few guys from school.  They tell them that not only do they know who Shadow is, but they will help Lucy find him.  Reluctantly, Lucy agrees to accept Ed’s help.  She does so reluctantly, because she and Ed used to go to school together before he stopped going, and she always had a crush on him.  And when he finally asked her out, a misunderstanding led to Lucy breaking Ed’s nose.  Moving beyond her embarassment and regret, Lucy and Ed embark on an after-hours tour of Melbourne, and as they talk, they both open up and realize the connection that was there before, might just still be there.

Rating: 5/5

Reasons:  I LOVED this book.   How do I love thee? Let me count the ways:

  1. I loved Ed and Lucy’s characters – they were amazing, and real, and artists, and passionate.
  2. I really liked the setting – walking around Melbourne all night seemed really magical to me.  It reminds me of the all-nighters my friends and I used to pull in undergrad, ending up eating grilled cheese and eggs at 4 a.m. at the local diner.
  3. I loved the supporting case of characters – they were hilarious and fun and you could tell that they were amazingly supportive friends.
  4. I loved the art in this book – both of the main characters were artists, and they connect over their shared passion.
  5. Did I mention I loved Ed’s character? He was so thoughful and sweet and nervous and then bold.  I just loved him.  I also loved that we got to see his point of view, so that the reader could really understand him.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for a great YA contemporary romance book.

Review: Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

Summary: Abby leaves her home in Witchita to attend a small college with her best friend, America.  She’s trying to start over by leaving behind her deadbeat father and the thugs he associates with.  Abby’s doing a pretty good job of becoming someone else, until she meets Travis at an underground fighting ring on campus.  Abby and Travis feel an instant connection, but she is wary because of his bad boy persona.  The only woman to reject his sexual advances, Travis becomes intrigued by Abby and they become fast friends.  Then, Abby loses a bet that has her staying at Travis’ appartment for a month.  After a month rife with sexual tension, it becomes clear to everyone else that their relationship is much more than friendship.  But, of course there are ups and downs, betrayals and hurt.  Is Abby running from Travis because he represents too much of her past? Or, will she eventually give in to her true feelings for him?

Rating: 2/5 stars

Reasons:  I have to say, I found this book to be very overrated.  I’m sure I will catch a lot of backlash for that comment, but the book didn’t blow me away the way I expected it would after reading other peoples’ reviews. 

Things I liked:

  • I liked the supporting characters – America and Shep were awesome!
  • I liked that the book focussed on college aged characters.  It was very sexy and there were a lot of, umm, heated, moments in the book.
  • I liked Travis as a character.  I can see the attraction.  He’s a pure alpha, but with a softer, caring side. 
  • I thought it was cool how Abby used her poker skills throughout the book.  But, I didn’t like that the whole “going to Vegas” thing was treated so casually.  Like, it’s not a big deal to go make a deal with mobsters in Vegas? (Is my life too sheltered that I do think it’s a big deal?)

Things I didn’t really like:

  • I found the whole relationship between Travis and Abby a little bit underwhelming.  I got their sexual tension, I got their physical attraction to one another, but with all the break ups and makeups, by the end of the book they hadn’t even been together for that long!
  • While I didn’t mind the fight scenes at the “fight club”, I didn’t like that Travis went around beating everyone up.  To me, that’s not sexy.  And the fact that Abby just accepted it, and even liked it – that didn’t resonate with me.  At all.
  • I didn’t really like Abby’s relationship with Parker.  I thought that part of the story dragged on a bit.  No way would Parker put up with so much from Abby and still want to be in a relationship with her, or even be  her friend.  I didn’t find that part believable.

Overall, it was an okay book.  I’m happy that I read it so that I could know what everyone was talking about, but I did not love it.  I also thought aspects of Abby’s relationship with Travis were creepy – he took co-dependence to a whole new level.  And she liked it.  Which is so far from my personal views that I couldn’t get around it.  

This is definitely a book for older YA with adult themes (sex, drugs, drinking, fighting/violence), etc.