For Better or Worse by Lauren Layne

fbowBook: For Better or Worse

Author: Lauren  Layne

Series: Wedding Belles #2

Release date: 30th August, 2016

Main characters: Heather Fowler (assistant wedding planner to NYC’s richest) Josh Tanner, enigmatic musician and all-round slacker. (Or is he?)

Plot: Heather Fowler has come a long way to realise her dream of moving to NYC and having a fulfilling career. Life back in Michigan always left her wanting more, so now she’s desperate to get a promotion and finally become a wedding planner in her own right. To do this, she needs to work with a very famous, very fickle starlet, who seems to want nothing to do with the minutiae of the wedding.

That’s not all though – as well as headaches of the professional variety, there’s also headaches closer to home. This particular migraine comes in the form of noisy neighbour, Josh. He and his band play next door at all hours and Heather has has enough. He irritates her constantly – he’s cocky, seems to enjoy making her mad and he has a constant stream of ladies coming and going on a weekly basis.

Josh Tanner is a private guy. Despite his affable exterior, he discourages any personal questions. Something else Heather seems to find irritating. He gave up his high-flying career in favour of a more relaxed life of music and women. He doesn’t want Heather prying in his past, because he doesn’t want his past to define who he is now. His refusal to open up to people leads to Josh keeping others at bay. Until Heather. Bit by bit, she manages to chip away at some of his defences. Despite knowing he will never get serious about her, he can’t seem to shake Heather from his thoughts – and the feeling may well be mutual.

Why you should read it: I loved this story – it actually made me well up a couple of times. It had a freshness about it that made me smile and feel for the characters. Usually, when a character tries to alienate others, it drives me crazy! But it felt justified in this story – and Josh has been through a lot. Heather was a great heroine – she’s desperate to succeed in life and find her place in it. She doesn’t think Josh is the happy ending she’s looking for – but she’s pragmatic, which I liked. She doesn’t stand in the way of her own happiness and isn’t a whiner! There was an absence of angst in this story, which I loved. It all found a great balance.

What you might not like: Josh can be A JERK at times. A big, thickheaded jerk. But as I’ve said, he has his reasons. He’s abrupt, sometimes surly and he totally gets in his own way. But I liked him so much. He was human and vulnerable, and that made me love him more.

Rating: 4/5 for a sweet, heartwarming and entertaining read. It makes me want to continue with the series and get to know every one of the Wedding Belles.

Blog tour – Sugar Rush by Sawyer Bennett

Book: Sugar Rush

Series: Sugar Daddy #2

Author: Sawyer Bennett

Release date: August 16th, 2016

**Contains slight spoilers if you haven’t read book 1, Sugar Daddy.**


Main characters: Sela Halstead, (the heroine) Beckett North (the hero) and Jonathon Townsend (the villain of the piece)

Plot: Sela is left reeling after her admission to Beck resulted in him calling her a liar and throwing her out of his life. Devastated and realising that she may have lost the best thing to ever happen to her, she returns home to regroup.
Beck can’t believe he was taken in by Sela’s lies and actually allowed himself to fall for her. Left in the silence of the apartment, Beck considers the possibility that Sela wasn’t lying. If she was telling the truth, how will he ever get her back?

Sela is still committed to getting justice for what happened to her 10 years ago and maybe, with Beck’s help they can bring JT down once and for all…

Why you should read it: If you read and loved Sugar Daddy, how could you not want to read on after that cliffhanger? Sela has been through a lot and is set to go through more before she’ll make peace with her past. With Beck, she’s finally experiencing some stability and a loving relationship she never thought she’d have.

What you may not like: Book one was a roller coaster and Sela was a force to be reckoned with. She was hellbent on revenge and focused on the goal. In Sugar Rush she’s less self-sufficient and makes a truly daft decision that could jeopardise everything. Being with Beck has dulled her murderous intentions, but it’s also made her more dependent on him. She’s a bit of a damsel in distress in this book and I’m not sure I liked the shift in her character. That said, we’re left on another cliffhanger at the end and I’m keen to see how she’ll get out of her predicament.

Rating: 3/5 for this continuing story. It lacked the intensity of Sugar Daddy, but left me dying to know how this will all end.

The Player and the Pixie by L.H. Cosway and Penny Reid

pandpBook: The Player and the Pixie

Series: Rugby #2

Author: L.H. Cosway and Penny Reid

Release date: 12 April, 2016

Main characters: Lucy Fitzpatrick (the pixie with a peculiar compulsion), Sean Cassidy (the player with his own problems).

Plot: Lucy Fitzpatrick has a very famous brother. It could be said that she’s overshadowed by him. Her mother dotes on him and criticises her constantly. Despite the situation, she loves her brother Ronan as he is the only person in her life she can rely on. That’s why when she bumps into Sean Cassidy, Ronan’s arch-nemesis, she tries not to be intrigued by him. She tries not to see beyond his nasty veneer and definitely doesn’t want to be his friend. Nope, absolutely not.

When Sean witnesses Lucy’s compulsive (and very illegal) behaviour in public, he promises not to tell anyone if she has lunch with him. What’s a girl to do? The last thing she expects is to have fun with him. She spots a troubled, yet kindred spirit underneath the surface and finds herself unable to hate him. Sean Cassidy is trouble.

Sean Cassidy hates Ronan Fitzpatrick and would do anything to get one over on him. When he first meets Lucy, he expects her to be exactly like him, but she’s not. Despite the multi-coloured hair and free-spirit attitude, Lucy is a soul in distress. When their friendship spills over into mutual attraction, Sean fears he’ll have to admit his own personal issues in the bedroom. Maybe they can help each other with their respective problems…and if it pisses off Ronan in the meantime, so much the better.

Why you should read it: God I loved this book so damn much. It’s a short read (or maybe it seemed short because I inhaled it!) filled with great dialogue, quite complex issues for the main characters and the premise was so damn hot. I never thought I’d enjoy a story about a hero with difficulties in the bedroom, but gah! It was so incredibly hot. Lucy ‘teaching’ Sean was so toe-curlingly sexy, that I could not put the book down. I loved the humanness of the characters and the lack of unrealistic drama.

What you might not like: Not much – for me it was spot on. Sean was sweet, lost and defensive at times. Lucy was struggling to do the right thing and going against her own better judgment. Sometimes this gets overplayed in books, but it wasn’t the case here. Did I mention how much I freakin’ loved this book?

Rating: 4/5 for a thoroughly satisfying, sexy, funny read. It was adorable and L.H. Cosway and Penny Reid write so well together. I will definitely read The Hooker and the Hermit (book 1).

Release day blitz: The First Taste by Jessica Hawkins

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00071]Book: The First Taste

Series: Slip of the Tongue #2

Author: Jessica Hawkins

Release date: August 4, 2016

Main characters: Andrew Beckwith (sexy, surly, single dad to Bell) and Amelia Van Ecken (Andrew’s sister’s boss and heroine of the story)

Plot: Andrew has been a single dad for the last four years, ever since his girlfriend took off without a backward glance. He loves being a father and has no interest in finding another woman to mess with his head or the life he has. If only the other mothers and teachers would stop trying to ingratiate themselves into his good books, life would be simpler. His sister Sadie is the only female presence in Bell’s life so she lacks nothing.

Amelia Van Ecken is stressed. In the process of a messy divorce, she uses her demanding business as a way to maintain focus. The more hours she puts in, the less time she has to stress about her husband Reggie trying to manipulate her further.

When Andrew and Amelia meet, they think they have the other sussed out. He’s the typical bad boy, tattooed and not what Amelia’s looking for. She’s the uptight, Manhattan princess he could do without. They have one thing in common though. They both want a night of passion – but nothing more than that. They both want to let off some steam, without the strings of complicated angst afterward. They’re perfect for each other. The night is all they hoped it would be – but can only one taste ever be enough?

“Let me make an appointment for you at my favorite barber tomorrow. If they know you’re with me, they’ll hook you up. You can even get a shave. It’ll look and feel amazing.” He takes my wrist and removes my hand from my face. In the dim light of the bathroom, dimples shadow his cheeks as he smiles. “I am not a prissy city girl,” he states. “Therefore, I will not be caught dead at a salon while I’m alive and conscious. Have you ever cut a piece of paper?”

I give him an incredulous look. “Of course.”

“Then you’re qualified to give me a trim. I cut Bell’s hair all the time.”

“That poor child. I think I’m going to be sick.” Laughing, he stands, pulling me up with him.

Why you should read this: Because it’s the perfect blend of sexy, funny and demonstrates some great storytelling. I loved every page of this book. Andrew was the right balance of straightforward maleness, but due to his own experiences and his maturity, he was also sensitive. He was comfortable enough in his own skin that he didn’t need to posture or go alpha all the time. He was very sweet and surprising as a character. I think it’s hard to write a male lead convincingly, but Jessica Hawkins nailed it!

Amelia is an interesting character and I was totally invested in her story and the development of her character. She’s strong because she has to be, but she’s not an automaton. She feels things but she’s doing the best she can to protect herself from further hurt. I loved these two – there was banter, flirtation and sexy times that really were hot!

What you may not like: I got nothing – this book is light on the angst, heavy on humour and sarcasm and I loved it! A tatted, smart hero and a tightly-wound heroine who isn’t so self-absorbed that she can’t relate to others. She’s also witty as hell.

Rating: 5/5 for a great read. It had it all in my opinion. A well-written child character too. (Normally, I hate kids in romance books as they’re too cutesy. Not a problem here!)

The First Taste is out 4th August. If you haven’t read Sadie’s story, check out Slip of the Tongue.


PURCHASE LINKS

US: http://bit.ly/TFTAMZNUS

UK: http://bit.ly/TFTAMZNUK

To Have and to Hold by Lauren Layne

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Book: To Have and to Hold

Series: The Wedding Belles #1

Author: Lauren Layne

Release date: 26 July, 2016

 

Main characters: Brooke Baldwin (wedding planner extraordinaire) and Seth Tyler (brother  to the bride and curmudgeon)

Basic story: Brooke Baldwin has relocated to the Big Apple after suffering humiliation at the altar in California. For a successful wedding planner, having your fiancé arrested before he says I do isn’t a ringing endorsement for her business.

Despite her private and profession setbacks, Brooke has been welcomed into the Wedding Belles fold. Manhattan’s top wedding planning agency has taken her on and she feels as though her luck is about to change. She just needs to prove herself on her first assignment.

Enter Seth Tyler. Seth is CEO of the family business and is less than impressed when his sister Maya announces her engagement to a man she’s known less than six months. He’s determined to get to the bottom of the mystery. He knows something’s amiss. When he crosses paths with the wedding planner, things take an interesting and perturbing turn. He resents her perkiness and the reason he has to meet with her, but she’s certainly intriguing. If only he can keep his controlling ways and his tendency to be an ass in check…

Why you should read it: I am a huge fan of Lauren Layne as she writes the perfect balance of fun, sexy and touching in all her stories. Brooke and Seth’s relationship is a perfect storm of emotions. Dynamite from the start. Is Seth naturally an ass, or is he just protecting his heart? Is Brooke really ok with her past, or is she an expert in avoiding her more inconvenient feelings in favour of her optimistic veneer? All is revealed in the story and we get to meet some interesting peripheral characters whom you’ll meet in other books in the series. I’ll definitely be reading Heather and Alexis’s stories.

What you may not enjoy: Nada – this is a perfect, peppy romance read. Great for summer or a rainy day. The dialogue is on point and light on angst.

Rating: 4/5 for a fun, sweet and entertaining story. I loved Brooke and Seth and read it with a huge smile on my face.

Sugar Daddy by Sawyer Bennett

SDBook: Sugar Daddy

Series: Sugar Bowl #1

Author: Sawyer Bennett

Release date: May 24th 2016

Main characters: Sela Halstead (the wronged heroine), Beckett North (the hero) and Jonathon Townsend (the villain)

 

Blurb: Sela Halstead lost her innocence in a way that no sixteen-year-old should ever have to endure. She’s spent years trying to forget that night even while wondering about the identities of the monsters who brutalized her—until a telltale tattoo flashes across Sela’s TV screen. The incriminating ink belongs to Jonathon Townsend, the millionaire founder of The Sugar Bowl, a website that matches rich older men with impressionable young women. Obsessed with revenge, Sela infiltrates Townsend’s world, only to come face-to-face with a tantalizing complication: Beckett North, his charismatic business partner.

The tech mastermind behind The Sugar Bowl, Beck always gets what he wants, in business and in bed. And yet, for a man who’s done every dirty thing imaginable, there’s something about the naïve, fresh-faced Sela that sparks his hottest fantasies. Because with her, it’s not just about sex. Beck opens up to her in ways he never has with other girls. So why does he get the feeling that she’s hiding something? In a world of pleasure and power, the shocking truth could turn them against each other—or bind them forever.

Why you should read it: I don’t read a lot of suspense/thrillers – usually 1 or 2 a year. My heart just can’t take more! This book is a tough read – not due to the way it’s written, but due to the opening scenes of the book. Heed the trigger warnings if you’re vulnerable. After you get past the opening chapters, the story begins immediately and you are drawn into a plot of deceit and revenge. I stormed through it – I had to know what was going to happen. Sela is a tough cookie and I think you’ll be on her side throughout. Her burgeoning relationship with Beck is interesting. They’re both feeling their way through their situation – neither knowing the first thing about relationships. I totally enjoyed their dynamic, but was waiting for the other shoe to drop. And boy did it!

What you may not like: I know some of you hate cliffhangers, trilogies, stories dealing with very difficult topics. If any of these apply to you, then maybe give it a miss. This is a new departure for Sawyer – she’s never written anything this heavy before. It was difficult but a very accomplished book in my opinion. The tough scenes weren’t for titillation – but I guess the reader needs to be the judge of that.

Rating: 4/5 – it was edge of the seat stuff. I now have to wait a month until book 2 – not great for someone with no patience whatsoever! It’s not for the faint of heart, but I’m hanging on for the day of reckoning!

Bossman by Vi Keeland

Book: Bossman

Series: A Dirty Office Romance #1

Author: Vi Keeland

Release date: 16 July, 2016

Main characters: Chase Parker (the self-assured hero), Reese Annesley (the sassy heroine)

Plot: Reese Annesley is in need of a new start. She needs a new job and her love life is in dire need of resuscitation. While on a date disastrous date, Reese is put in the path of Chase – a cocky, inappropriate fantasist who doesn’t think twice about crashing her date and telling a bunch of stories and pushing all of her buttons. He seems to have no boundaries and is completely infuriating, arrogant and sexy as all get out.

Despite Chase’s lack of propriety, Reese finds herself enjoying his company. He’s definitely worth a little cyber-stalking. After another ‘chance’ encounter at the local gym, Reese has to accept that there is something compelling about him. She likes him but is seeing someone else. Just friends it is. Although…when Chase ends up as Reese’s new boss, he makes one thing clear: all bets are off. Chase wants Reese – and he’s not accustomed to not getting what he wants…

Why you should read it: OMG – I love Vi Keeland. Each book gets better and better. This was totally feel-good and fun. The banter between Reese and Chase was entertaining and made me laugh out loud. There were lots of cute touches, like Reese’s hairless cat that made me smile. If you’re in need of a laugh, you should consider this one. At the same time, it’s not just a laugh fest. There’s some pain in both characters’ pasts, but it’s not over the top on angst. Just read it!

What you may not like: The dialogue is super sexy and you may not like heroes who speak their dirty minds (course you do!) but I honestly don’t see what there is not to like. The heroine is smart, fun and sensible – mostly. The hero doesn’t play games and gets to the point. I loved them and was rooting for them.

Rating: 5/5 – it was super, duper fun. I loved every minute. The banter, the sexiness, the slow burn. Love, love, loved it! A truly romantic read.

To Have and to Hold by Serena Bell

Book: To Have and to Hold

Series: Coming Home #3

Author: Serena Bell

Release date: 19 July, 2016

Main characters: Trina Levine, Hunter Cross


Basic story: Trina Levine has been counting down the days until Hunter, the man she’s been waiting a year for, would return from his deployment. She’s been holding the fort at home, looking after his daughter Clara, and her own daughter Phoebe.

It soon becomes startlingly clear that Hunter is not the same man who made her promises of a life together. He barely recognises her at the airport and even then it’s only as the mother of his daughter’s friend. Hunter’s injuries are clearly not all physical.

Trina is torn – should she tough it out and patiently wait for Hunter’s memories to return, or pack herself and Phoebe up and move to California – where a new job beckons and Phoebe can finally meet her absent father?

Hunter had no idea he was missing chunks from his memories until he saw disappointment in Trina’s face when he failed to recognise her. Unable to deal with her pain and his, he distances himself from her. However, it soon becomes apparent that Trina’s presence is indispensable to his family, and maybe to him too, if he’d just let himself trust his instincts.

Why you should read it: I’m a huge fan of the Coming Home series. Each story has been smart, sensitive to issues such as PTSD and combat trauma, and also sexy as hell. This one is no exception. Trina is a down-to-earth, courageous heroine, rising to the occasion and being strong enough for both her heart and Hunter’s. She has no time for navel gazing and gets on with making sure her family is secure. Hunter is damaged but he is interesting, kind and oh so sexy. I loved their story and think you might too.

What you might not like: It was a gentle read, and a short read. You may like your books with a bit more drama and angst. If so, this is comparatively tame. There’s plenty of passion here, and no baddies. For me, it’s a relief to read a story steeped in reality.

Rating: 4/5 for a well-crafted welcome addition to a great series. To Have and to Hold is out on 19 July.

Beauty and the Mustache by Penny Reid

beauty

Book: Beauty and the Mustache – a philosophical romance

Series: Knitting in the City #4 and Winston brothers 0.5

Author: Penny Reid

Main characters: Ashley Winston and Drew Runous

 

Basic story: Ashley Winston has a great life in Chicago – she was desperate to get away from her native Tennessee, and her band of idiotic brothers eight years ago. Settled in a good job with a close-knit circle of friends (excuse the pun – it wasn’t intentional), her life takes an uncertain turn when she gets the call that her mother is ill.

Returning to Tennessee to look after her mother forces her to reconnect with her six brothers – at one time her biggest tormentors. She also has to deal with family friend Dr. Drew Ruinous, an intense, poet and bearded park ranger, whom she can’t figure out. He seems to hate her on sight – at least, at the times when he isn’t looking at her like she’s a glass of water and he’s a VERY thirsty man. What’s up with that?

As Ashley learns about herself and absorbs her mother’s enigmatic advice, she comes to realise that Chicago may be where her life is, but life in Tennessee could also hold some exciting possibilities – if only Drew would finally lay his cards on the table and use those words he’s so good at capturing on paper…

Why you should read it: Because. Penny Reid. She’s fabulous and funny and whose poetry ‘will melt your butter.’ (A phrase that I will now be using constantly!) Her characters are well-rounded, complex and feature some familiar faces that you may have read about in earlier books. Good news is if you love Ashley’s brothers, they have their own spin-off series – they all have beards and are super silly and sweet! The chemistry between Ash and Drew was HAWT – he is a deep and old soul and Ashley is the right balance for him. I loved their dynamic and swooned many a time.

What you might not like: Erm…hot mountain men with lots of facial hair? Didn’t think it was my thing, but I confess I’m a convert! Especially if the dude’s a poet. I honestly can’t criticise this book – it was superb – so fun and a great study in family dynamics, with some drama thrown in.

Rating: 5/5 for me – thoroughly entertaining, sexy and smart – which is something you can rely on with Penny Reid books.

 

Moonshot by Alessandra Torre

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Book: Moonshot

Author: Alessandra Torre

Genre: Romance/suspense

Release date: 4 July 2016

 

Basic story: Ty Rollins was just 17 when she first laid eyes on Chase Stern. Having always admired him from afar, she never dreamed he’d actually play for her beloved Yankees.

As a ballgirl – and daughter of a baseball legend, Ty lives and breathes the sport. Her family is the Yankees, her home the stadium. Chase has a bad reputation and Ty’s father is determined to keep them apart.

Chase has made his fair share of mistakes. Mistakes that got him transferred clear across the country. He’s ready to realise his dream of playing for the Yankees and needs to stay clean and sober if he’s going to keep his spot on the new team. Meeting Ty throws all that up in the air. She’s beautiful, talented and sure to spell trouble for his new leaf. Convinced she’s the one, he wants to come clean to her father and the public, but Ty isn’t convinced her dad wouldn’t kill him.

The years pass and things take a sinister turn. Women start dying – and at first there seems to be no causal link, but that’s not the case. Is it a manic fan, or is there more to it? Ty and Chase are about to learn that their love comes at a cost…

Why you should read it: Calling all sports fans! This one’s for you. I know less than nothing about baseball, but the book is so descriptive, I felt as though I was in the dugout observing it all. It’s evocative and well written. The story has a strong narrative running through it and the passion between Ty and Chase is strong.

What you might struggle with: For me, the pacing of the book was slightly off – in the sense that the last half was rushed in some ways. The end was neatly (a little too neatly) wrapped up and some scenes could have been expanded on. I felt that so much time was spent setting the scene at the start, that the overall development of the story towards the end suffered. It’s an enjoyable read, but maybe not as interesting a read to a non-sports fan.

Rating: Because I love the author’s fearlessness and her ability to create original characters in new and interesting settings, I give it a solid 3/5. I liked the characters and was keen to get to the bottom of what happened.

Moonshot is out now!