Hi all! Judith here. Let me set the stage for you. June 2012. Ellen and I were at Book Expo America in NYC for one day only and we had spent the morning stumbling down aisle after aisle of publishers and their wares. All the books were free. That’s right, FREE. My eyes were the size of saucers as I took in all the books and I made grabby hands at everything.
Author: Laura Lee
Reviewed by: Judith
Basic Story: Paul’s beloved wife died a while ago and now he’s just going through the motions. He ministers to his congregation, sermonizes, interacts with them but never really relates to anyone and feels as if his life is stagnating. He knows he’s depressed but can’t do anything but pray that his life will get better. Then one day, God answers his prayer by sending him an angel. Only Paul is completely mistaken: Ian is definitely not anyone’s idea of an angel. He’s merely a misguided youth who stumbled dead drunk into the church while looking for an AA meeting. When Paul helps him find his way, their brief meeting sets off a chain of events that catapults him out of his depression and makes him realize that love can be found in unusual places and with those we least expect.
Why You Should Read It: the love story between Ian and Paul is so real and vivid that you can’t help rooting for them. They are two lost souls who desperately need someone to love who will love them in return; they also need someone who will allow each to be himself with no limitations. Their tentative forays into friendship and then love are awkward and telling. They show that any sort of relationship requires time and trust for it to evolve. The fact that the protagonist is a minister who happens to fall in love with another man in no way makes this feel like commentary on the church, religion as a whole, or homosexuality. In fact the budding romance between minister and gay man humanizes the ministry and gives some understanding into the stress of being the guiding force in a congregation. Ian is a bright spot. He oozes confidence and charm, enjoying the pleasures that life has to offer and forcing Paul to lighten up. He’s also gorgeous and larger than life.
The writing is superb with an easy flowing storyline that reads beautifully and effortlessly. The dialogue is fantastic, especially the religious conversations between the believer, Paul, and Ian who is most definitely searching for answers to the meaning of life.
What You Might Hate: the fact that this story shows a gay relationship between a member of the clergy and another man might be off putting if you have a deep rooted faith. Even if you don’t, a gay relationship in and of itself might turn you off. The male lead, Paul, is in no way dreamy. He’s a middle aged, balding widow with a lot of stress and a bit of a depression. Ian is a recovering drug addict who can’t stick with anything when the going gets tough. The realism of their relationship might leave you wanting something more upbeat. Also the cover leaves a lot to be desired.
5/5 stars. I loved this story mainly because it was NOT glossy and perfect. It shows how love can evolve in the most unlikely of places and rarely ends as happily as books/movies/etc make it out to be. Paul and Ian’s relationship takes time and effort to begin and maintain and I love the realism of that. Also, even though he bats for the other team, Ian sounds like a dreamboat.
Author: Tara Sivec
Series: Chocolate Lovers
Reviewed by: Onnica
Basic story: Claire always wanted to do something with her life and get out of small town Butler. For her that meant finishing college. That was the plan anyway – until that night she met a boy at a frat party.
Following their one and only night together, she soon has to re-adjust her life plan as she’s pregnant. Fast-forward a few years and Claire is looking after her 4 year old son Gavin, while working at the neighbourhood bar. She still thinks of the boy she snuck out on in the middle of the night. The boy whose name she doesn’t even know.
Carter gets a work transfer back to Butler following the end of his relationship. He can’t quite forget the girl from that night years ago; who smelt like chocolate and shared his love of the movie Heathers. When their paths finally do cross, Claire is forced to face up to telling Carter that she is that girl and that he is a father. Can they do things right the second time around?
Why you should read it:
It may not sound like it from the synopsis, but this book is actually a romantic comedy in book form. The plot runs a mile a minute and there are jokes and embarrassing situations throughout. Gavin, the four year old is potty-mouthed (foul-mouthed children are funny on paper only!) and in my opinion is one of the best characters.
What you may hate:
If you don’t enjoy cursing in books, then this book is definitely not for you! I have nothing against bad language, but the book is littered with f-bombs; so much so that I wondered whether the characters had Tourettes – it was a little much.
I found the plot enjoyable, but the pace I mentioned earlier is a little frenetic, making me feel that the author was trying a little too hard to be funny all the time. The story doesn’t take a breath and for that, I wasn’t always able to relate to the characters or engage with the plot.
I give this book a solid 3/5. It’s fun, silly and very crass but if that doesn’t put you off then look out for the sequel, Futures and Frosting – what happens after the happily ever after.
Book: Dirty Author: Megan Hart Series: (Spice) Reviewed by: Onnica Basic Story: Elle doesn’t do relationships. She doesn’t do love. She keeps herself and her feelings to herself. She also hasn’t been on a date in three years. Preferring uncomplicated anonymous encounters to meaningful relationships, … Continue reading Dirty by Megan Hart
By: Ruthie Knox
Reviewed by: Onnica
Basic Story: Cath Talarico is a woman who has made a lot of mistakes in life. She documents them on her body in the form of tattoos so as not to repeat them. Determined to make a fresh start, she leaves her native Chicago behind and heads for London. Eager to shed her former life, she resolves to focus solely on work until one night she meets Nev.
Nev Chamberlain is a banker in the City and she has him all figured out – she thinks. However, beneath the custom-made suits and the vast wealth lies a would-be artist struggling to find independence from his dominant family.
When she wakes up in Nev’s bed after an alcohol-filled night out, she’s convinced she’s made yet another huge mistake. Nev doesn’t share her opinion. The passion is instant but Cath fights her intense feelings for the kind, incredibly sexy Nev, convinced there’s no place for her in his privileged world.
Why you should read it: This book is incredibly smart – Ruthie Knox is a very talented writer and she recreates London beautifully. The love scenes are seriously hot but not gratuitous and the story itself has a lot of heart. For quite a short book, the characters are well-drawn, complex and flawed. Cath’s secrets and vulnerability are often very moving, while Nev’s quiet patience makes him the perfect leading man.
What you might hate: Please don’t let the terrible cover put you off this read. It bears no resemblance to the story beneath it! You may also get a little frustrated with Cath’s attempts to keep Nev at arm’s length and Nev’s inability to stand up to his family.
Rating: 4/5 Ruthie Knox knows how to write engaging characters that you’ll care about. The story is intelligent as well as passionate and I fell hard for Nev. Definitely worth a look!
Author: Lisa Kleypas
Series: Travis Family
Basic Story: Liberty Jones has a rough life living across the tracks in the trailer park of Welcome, Texas. When she meets Hardy Cates, she thinks she’s met her soulmate. Hardy is the sort of handsome loner who’s always looking out for her and acting as her biggest advocate. But when Hardy leaves unexpectedly and then her mother dies, Liberty must do what it takes to stay afloat while also raising her younger sister, Carrington. She puts herself through beauty school and eventually meets the enigmatic oil tycoon, Churchill Travis while working at a Houston salon. After slowly getting to know one another, Churchill offers her the opportunity to live in his mansion and act as his personal assistant. When she agrees, everyone including Churchill’s children who are Liberty’s age, assumes that she is looking for a sugar daddy. But over time, the animosity between Liberty and Churchill’s oldest son, Gage, in particular blossoms into something more. Then Hardy Cates reenters her life and Liberty must choose between two men she loves dearly.
Why You Should Read It: Lisa Kleypas is a master storyteller weaving an engaging tale about love that is uplifting and not maudlin; three wealthy hunks (Hardy, Churchill, Gage) all looking to make Liberty happy each in his own way; seeing the bonds of love extend throughout an entire family. Some of the most touching scenes are watching Liberty and Carrington or Churchill and his children; the opulent Texas lifestyle is fascinating to northerners; everyone speaks in a drawl and you can practically hear it through the pages!
What You Might Hate: all the weird names–I’m a big proponent of 1 or 2 wacky names but here there are 5 in the main characters alone (Liberty, Hardy, Gage, Carrington, Churchill) and it drove me batty. Who names their kids names like this?!; everything is a little too easy for Liberty who just happens to have a billionaire walk into the beauty salon where she works and who eventually offers her a LIVE IN job doing something that has nothing to do with being a beautician; all the talk of the rich lifestyle might make you jealous (I know am); Hardy the bad boy you love to hate shows up at the worst moment possible.
Our rating: 5/5. Lisa Kleypas can write a convincing love story like no one else .Her books are effortlessly enjoyable and crazypants names aside, this was one of my favorites from her. You wouldn’t think an established historical romance writer could craft such a good contemporary, but she does. BUY IT!
Author: Sylvia Day
Basic Story: Eva is that sort of wealthy socialite who thinks she has to make her way in the world without a lot of help from her parents. After taking a lowly job at an advertising agency in NYC’s Crossfire building, she is literally knocked down by the building’s owner, the enigmatic, wealthy, and extremely hot Gideon Cross. Their instant burning attraction cannot be denied and the two begin a passion fueled relationship that helps fill in the gaps all their respective relationships used to have. Gideon and Eva are both abuse survivors and their ability to trust one another is severely hampered even in light of the really good sex. Eventually their pasts and their own ghosts catch up with them and each of them must choose to release the demons within in order to take their relationship to the next level.
Why You Should Read It: Gideon Cross is every woman’s dream man: wealthy, gorgeous, sympathetic, caring, loving, fantastic in bed, willing to sacrifice himself for the woman he loves; there’s a LOT of gratuitous sex; the backdrop of their romance is set in opulent and aristocratic NYC so we’re shown a forbidden glimpse of Manhattan’s elite; nice cover.
What You Might Hate: Did you see what we said about Gideon Cross? God! How annoyingly perfect can one man be? Geez; Eva acts like a high school girl, getting angry and walking out on Gideon over and over for having past relationships and for maintaining platonic friendships with some of his former lovers; there’s a LOT of gratuitous sex that just seems to act as filler when the author can’t think of anything else to help the plot along; there’s really no story and we never learn much about either character.
Our rating: 3/5. There’s nothing new here and it reads like the only slightly amoral man’s version of Fifty Shades of Grey. Read it for the hot love scenes and not for the plot. Buy it for that fab cover though!
Author: SC Stephens
Basic story: Keira and her Aussie bf, Denny, leave sleepy Ohio for Seattle when he lands a dream internship out west. Moving in with Denny’s former host brother and local rock star, Kellan, the couple quickly adjusts to life in the big city and all seems right in their world until Denny is forced away on a long term assignment in Arizona and Keira is left to fend for herself. Attending classes and working at Pete’s bar are all she does until Kellan takes her under his wing. As they grow closer, the limits of their friendship are tested and eventually Keira must choose between the man she thought she would spend the rest of her life with and the rock star she never assumed could touch her heart.
Why You Should Read It: You could cut the sexual tension with a knife! The will they-won’t they aspect of Keira and Kellan’s relationship is without a doubt the driving force behind this book and the build up to their romance is HOT HOT HOT; you never know until the very end who Keira picks and while it is aggravating at times, it is also invigorating to watch her world view become shaped and tempered by Kellan’s enigmatic personality.
What You Might Hate: The book drags a lot and Keira’s constant flip flopping between her love interests is annoying with a capital A: just choose one already and it better be Kellan the hot rock god with abs of steel; there are a lot of extraneous scenes that would have benefited from a good editor (but frankly it wasn’t that annoying since it just meant we get to see more Kellan and his chiseled bone structure); Denny, Keira’s Aussie boyfriend, was just too perfect to be real; we don’t see much scenery beyond Kellan’s house, Pete’s bar where Keira works and Kellan’s band plays, and Keira’s school.
Our rating: 5/5 Keira and Kellan’s romance is hot. No seriously, HOT. It drags in places and can worry you in others, but their road to love is amazing. Get this book!
Author: Kerry Connor
Basic story: Mel needs to find the perfect Mr Right for a national ad campaign for a swanky cosmetics company. Only problem is she’s been looking for months with no luck. When advertising exec Jeff’s best friend from back home in Brooklyn meets him for lunch at the office, Mel decides he’s the one. Former Army Ranger Sam is gorgeous and charming enough to wow all of America. But after a few days with Mel, he decides that the only one he wants to win over is her.
Why You Should Read It: Sam is charming enough to knock the socks off of grandmothers, mothers, sisters, and gay men everywhere–he knows exactly what to say at exactly the right moment; the cover features the hottest abs we’ve seen in a long time.
What You Might Hate: the plot line is extremely predictable with commitment phobic Mel warding off the advances of overly charming and captivating Sam at all times; as a character, Mel is pretty lackluster and seems cobbled together from some stereotype of a mousy woman–what we get is a bland heroine; the subplot featuring Sam’s uncle Tommy and his own love interest serves nothing more than to fill up pages; the lack of steamy scenes.
Our rating: 2/5 stars. Read it if you’re looking for a little escape otherwise don’t waste your time. You know this plot, you know the outcome, you won’t be surprised.
Author: Meredith Duran
Basic story: Emmaline travels to British occupied India to be reunited with her army captain fiance, man she cares little about. When rebellion hits close to home and she is forced to flee, she finds help in British lord and half Indian military man, Julian Sinclair. The two are separated during the insurrection and never find one another again. Years pass and when Julian discovers a budding artist who paints very personal scenes of the horror of Indian rebellion, he knows he has found Emmaline again and begins his own battle to win her heart.
Why You Should Read It: Meredith Duran is a superlative storyteller–her writing is lyrical, well paced, and glorious; the setting of British occupied India and scenes of rebellion during that time are little used in romance novels and make for some extremely exciting action and interesting scenes; Julian is HOT–no, really. I can tell you don’t believe me. He is so honest to goodness hot that I can’t stand it. A British lord who’s exotic due to his Indian heritage and hates the occupation of India but also understands the mores of British society? Umm, yes please! I’ll have one of those; really really steamy sex scenes.
What You Might Hate: There’s nothing light about this book so anyone wanting a quick, unabsorbing read won’t find it here; graphic violence; historical fiction interspersed with the love story.
Our rating: 5/5 stars. If I could give it more, I would. It’s very rare for a romance novel to resonate so well with me. Duran is a fabulous writer who writes convincing and compelling characters and hot hot sex scenes at the same time.