In Your Corner by Sarah Castille

in your cornerBook: In Your Corner

Series: (Redemption, #2)

Author: Sarah Castille

Format: Kindle ARC

Review by: Onnica

 

 Basic story: Amanda’s life is heading downhill fast. She’s the unwanted object of affection of her boss at law firm Farnsworth & Tilman and he’s not prepared to back down to get what he wants. Despite working her ass off to make partner, he has a file as thick as the phone book on her extracurricular activities. The choice is simple: play nicely with him or face all her seedy secrets coming to light, and kissing the partnership goodbye. When she opts for the latter option and dealing with her parents’ disappointment (read rage) and unemployment, she’s ready to give up and stay under the covers. Indefinitely.

To make things worse, she runs into old flame Jake Donovan, former-MMA fighter, who doesn’t seem at all happy to see her. When he rescues her from a late-night attack, she remembers why she had to cut him loose the first time. He wants everything from her and Amanda’s convinced she won’t be enough. Having grown up without love and security, she’s unable to provide that for Jake.

Jake is having problems of his own. His father wants him to take over the business, when really all he wants to do is go back into fighting. He’s stunned to come face-to-face with Amanda, the woman who abruptly broke up with him two years earlier. He can’t deny his attraction to her, but he doesn’t want to end up hurt again.

When her friends and Jake finally intervene in Amanda’s pity party, she finally re-discovers her fighting spirit. She’s always done pro-bono work as part of her legal work and so she decides to go into business. Surrounded by people who care about her, will Amanda finally learn to ask for help?

Why you should read this: If you read and liked Against The Ropes, then you’ll really enjoy re-visiting some familiar characters and the environment of Redemption fighting club. This is Amanda and Jake’s story, who were minor characters in Book one. Jake is manly, an alpha and a lover – there’s not much to dislike about him. It’s a very sexy read, so hold on to your hats!

What you might hate: Amanda. Where to start? I didn’t hate her – she’s actually quite likeable, aside from her constant internal monologue and her ability to make really stupid decisions and not be very good at reading people. Despite being a hotshot lawyer – she’s incapable of seeing how much Jake wants to reconnect! I would advise you to read this book in a good mood, otherwise you may not have the patience to deal with Amanda. Remember that episode of Friends where Monica berates Rachel for flip-flopping between ‘I love Ross, I hate Ross!’ Believe me, this book is the epitome of that. So much drama! Having said all that, it did make me smile and I liked it more than I disliked it.

Rating: a generous 3/5 – for over-the-top alphas and strong but imperfect females.

 In Your Corner is out on 1st July

The First Time We Met by Pippa Croft

The First TimeBook: The First Time We Met

Author: Pippa Croft

Series: Oxford Blue #1

Format: Kindle ARC

Review by: Onnica

 

Basic story: Lauren Cusack has begged, pleaded and finally convinced her parents to accept her decision to leave Washington DC to pursue a Masters at Oxford University. Largely pleased with her decision to move so far away, she is determined to commit to her studies and get over her ex-boyfriend. If only it would stop raining! Suffering from severe culture shock, Lauren is thrust into a world of privilege and decadence. A congressman’s daughter, she’s no slouch and can certainly hold her own, but running in the same circles as the landed gentry, haughty students and having to face overt anti-American hostility, Lauren feels a little out of her depth. Luckily she has a friend in Imogen, who lives in her building, who sees her through the term.

Lauren is trying to find her feet, when she is introduced to Alexander Hunt. Fellow student at her college, and all set to become a Lord someday, Lauren is knocked off her feet when she meets him. He’s arrogant, self-assured and enjoys the thrill of the chase.

Having split from his girlfriend of two years, Alexander is busy with studying, his duties in the army and fighting with his father, who believes he should pay more attention to the estate. Lauren brings a rare opportunity for fun and she refuses to be seduced by his title and money. Things are going great until Lauren actually meets Valentina, his former flame and she begins to question whether she really knows Alexander at all.

Why you should read this: I was really interested in the premise of the book. Inevitably, it will draw comparisons to Fifty Shades, but it isn’t like FSoG at all. Lauren is a strong-willed and likeable heroine. The all-American sweetheart is thrust into a world full of stuck up snobs. Alexander – once you get a feel for his character has vulnerabilities that I’m looking forward to reading about and hopefully we’ll get to know the characters quite well throughout the trilogy.

What you might hate: I’ll confess, it took me a while to get into the story. The start was slow and I felt like I couldn’t connect with these frankly horrible snobs! I have friends who studied at Oxford and I’ll have to ask them whether they know people this horrendous! It took a while, but soon after the book hit its stride and I really began to enjoy the scenes. There’s plenty of sex but it doesn’t go on for pages and pages. There is actually a story underneath.

Rating: 4/5 for a strong start to the series. I’m halfway through book two, The Second Time we Met, and look forward to reviewing that one too.

The Oxford Blue series will be out in October in the US, but is already available in the UK.

Heat by Jamie K. Schmidt

heatBook: Heat

Author: Jamie Schmidt

Series: Club Inferno #1

Review by: Onnica

Basic story: Mallory Bryant is on the run from her drug-addicted fiancé David. To the outside world, they are the perfect couple and Mallory is having trouble admitting the truth to her mother and colleagues. Desperate not to be found, she heads to her sister Colleen’s home. They are polar opposites but Mallory knows that her sister will help.

Colleen has built an empire for herself and runs a respectable business called Couture. Beneath the facade, lies a hedonistic paradise, where the rich and well-connected play. Mallory is about to be introduced to a whole new world. She’s assigned a body guard and dom, named Max Spencer. Talk, dark, handsome and friendly, Max offers to show Mallory around and help confront her issues with David.

At first, Max intends only to show Mallory the way the club works – what it means to be a dom, but soon their mutual attraction intensifies and the lines between duty and lust begin to blur. When Mallory’s past comes back into her present, the pair face several challenges and Mallory will have to finally decide what she really wants.

Why you should read this: I’d never read anything by Jamie K. Schmidt before and she certainly knows how to create a rich world. I felt as though I’d been inside Club Inferno and knew it intimately – it was so vivid. Mallory, despite being on the run and unwilling to face up to her situation, was a likeable character – she had a sense of fun, despite being a wee bit judgmental! Her drunken banter with Max was one of my favourite scenes in the book, and seeing her grow closer to her estranged sister was also a delight.

What you might hate: I felt that the storyline between Mallory and her ex could have done with a bit more development – it wrapped up a bit too neatly and was also an afterthought. I was expecting an explosion, but it was more of a damp squib. Was the ending a bit rushed and sugary? For me, a little bit. The book started strongly, but dwindled a little towards the end. It was a bit disappointing but a satisfying conclusion all the same.

Rating: a solid 3/5 for a story dealing with facing your demons head on and having the courage to go on.

Heat is out today.

Nowhere but Here by Renée Carlino

nowherebuthereBook: Nowhere but Here

Author: Renée Carlino

Publisher: Atria Books

Review by: Onnica

Basic story: Kate Corbin is struggling under the weight of grief and finding her place in the world. She’s a reporter at a popular Chicago newspaper but according to her Editor, she’s lost her spark. With no family and few friends to speak of, she’s haunted by the idea that she’s all she has.

When her Editor hands her an assignment to interview the reclusive and enigmatic R.J. Lawson, she’s unconvinced she’ll be the one to draw him out. Fiercely private and media-shy, R.J. Lawson has granted a rare opportunity in allowing her onto the grounds of his winery.

After a disastrous journey to the vineyard, Kate meets Jamie, one of the winery’s staff who seems to do a bit of everything. They hit it off immediately, and when it becomes clear that R. J won’t be answering any of her questions, they spend more and more time together. Will Kate be able to find her spark again? Is she all she has? For the first time in her life, she is made to reevaluate her initial assessment…

Why you should read this: I was drawn to this story – not sure why, but I know that I like Renée’s writing style. I’d enjoyed Sweet Thing (all except for the heroine) so I knew that there’d be a strong story there. I really liked Kate – she’s depressed sure, but the way she phrases things and behaves made me smile. She was fun and the peripheral characters were well-developed too. I felt as though I knew these people. Jamie for me was a sweet, sexy and enigmatic character. I enjoyed the fun that he and Kate had together. For me it was the right balance of sexy and sweet. You’ll have to make up your own mind.

What you might hate: I hate schmaltz and sickly sweet stories. For me, the story was perhaps a little too neatly wrapped up at the end and I can see why some found it super-sweet, but I still loved it! Trust me, I’m not one of those people who cries at book trailers or wells up at the thought of her favourite book boyfriend. I just loved the underlying message in the book: you may feel that it’s safer to be alone, but it’ll suck. Big time!

Rating: I’m giving this a 5/5 which is rare for me I know. Perhaps if I’d been in a bad mood while reading it I would have felt differently? Who knows? It made me happy, made me smile and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Nowhere but Here is out now.

Holiday reading – where’s a girl to start?

I don’t know about you, but at the moment my to-be-read list is out of control! It doesn’t help that I follow a LOT of other bloggers too, so am seduced by the words ‘SALE’ or ‘RELEASE DAY!’ on a regular basis. I’m busy reading the stuff I buy and my job is seriously getting in the way of my blogging responsibilities. So I thought I’d be time-efficient: here’s what I actually managed to read during the holiday break and hopefully you’ll see something you like!

Carmen's NY climaxFirst up is a fun quick read by Nikki Sex. Carmen’s New York Climax is currently free (so I thought, nothing ventured…) and I have to say that it’s a hoot! A case of mistaken identity; a disillusioned Dom facing legal troubles with an ex; a chamber maid on the run from her past and chaos ensues. Beware, this story is HEAVY on the dirty loving and I will confess that after a while I did grow a little tired of the monkey sex, but I still want to find out what happens next. A steaming, fun read – 3/5

MonsterSecond is Monster by Julia Sykes – also free at the moment (aren’t I good to you?) It’s book one in a trilogy like the previous read but completely different. It’s exciting, with a tough and dignified heroine trying to come to terms with being kidnapped in order to save the life of a stranger. It’s really well-written and I was glued to the action. What will Claudia do next? And can she ever forget about Sean? An engaging, heart-stopping 4/5.

Ruin meLastly, but by no means least, is Ruin Me by Cara McKenna. If I ever meet Cara, I’m in serious danger of embarrassing myself. She’s one of my favourite authors and she writes a damn good tale! Ruin Me is sexy as hell and should come with a warning. The heroine, Robin, is set to marry Jay but can’t get her friend Patrick out of her mind. She’s a hypocrite but so sympathetic that you’ll love her. Who will she choose? Patrick, the brooding outsider who saved her life, or Jay, the sexy, loyal and besotted boyfriend? I give this 5/5!

I  hope you’re having fun reading or doing whatever for the long weekend – I need to go hit the books! It’s a tough job…XOXO.

London Bound by Nana Malone

London BoundBook: London Bound (Chase Brothers, #1)

Author: Nana Malone

Series: Chase Brothers

Format: Kindle edition

Review by: Onnica

Basic story: Abby Nartey has begun to lose sense of who she is. Once spunky and vibrant, she’s become cowed and cautious. Having given in one too many times to a controlling and violent partner and her strict Ghanaian parents, Abbie decides enough is enough. After rejecting the career her parents believed appropriate, she arrives in London, having won a place on a prestigious photography degree. She’s scared, as her parents have cut her off financially, and is unsure of the future, but she has two friends on whom she can rely.

Alexi Chase is young, handsome, rich and bored. Bored of his social circle, bored of living a lie. But there’s no way out. Or so he thinks until Abbie quite literally crashes into him. Despite the mutual attraction, Abbie is determined to stay boyfriend-free in London, as her last relationship was a disaster. Alexi believes he’ll never be able to form a fulfilling relationship due to the childhood secrets that still haunt him and only his brother knows about. So friends it is. Only friends don’t share kisses that literally rock their world…

Why you should read this: I loved this book! It’s not often I get to read a book from a person of colour’s perspective and although it’s not that important to me, (a good story is a good story) can I say what a refreshing change it made! I could totally related to Abbie. She’s a girl’s girl. She’s been through a lot, but she’s a good friend, she isn’t jaded by her previous boyfriend’s controlling ways. She’s determined to start afresh and get on with living. I loved her. The chemistry between Lex and Abbie was also dynamite. Being English, I often have to laugh at characters who are written as British and use terribly outmoded slang or terms out of context. This wasn’t the case here. The vocab and the dialogue flowed well and it rang true. I loved this book so much that I cannot wait to read about Chase brother number two…please don’t make me wait too long!!!

What you might hate: I’m giving it top marks, so I can’t think what you might hate. You might want a bit of closure on her family side of things – what happened there? Will they cut her off indefinitely? I had very little sympathy with her parents – aside from one of her sisters, they were utterly horrendous.

Rating: Easy – 5/5 for a refreshingly sexy, authentic read. I fell in love with these characters and was left wanting more, which is always a good thing.

Sex Love Repeat by Alessandra Torre

Sex, love RepeatBook: Sex Love Repeat

Author: Alessandra Torre

Format: Kindle edition

Review by: Onnica

 

Basic story: Madison Decater is in a relationship with two men. She loves them both and is not willing to give either one up. They both know about the other and for the most part, Madison is able to keep the two lives separate. She loves Paul, her boyfriend, as he would do anything for her and puts her first. And there’s Stewart her lover – his passion and intensity satisfy a need deep within her. He is married to his work and is unable to give her more and that’s fine as she has Paul to have fun with, shop with and build a life with.

Madison knows that this peculiar set up has a shelf life – it won’t be sustainable long-term as one will eventually demand she gives up the other one day. But little does she know that it’s a woman, watching all three of them who will be the catalyst to unravel everything.

Why you should read this: Can I just say, wow! I bought this book on sale and was thoroughly intrigued by the blurb and the premise. This is not a book about cheating, as all parties are aware of what is happening. It is very, very sexy and there’s a lot of sexy times, but it didn’t feel gratuitous – it’s a huge part of the story and goes a long way to explaining why Madison is the way she is. I loved every minute – read it in a day (stayed up way too late for a school night to finish it!) and was completely satisfied by the ending.

What you might hate: Objectively, (which is hard to be as I loved this book) you may have an objection to the subject matter, some of the angst and the drama that happens. The book is a fast, sexy read so there are no repetitive conversations of soul-searching – which I’m grateful for! All in all, not a great deal to hate on here.

Rating: I’m giving this book 4/5 – for a thoroughly engaging, sexy and touching book. I loved every drama-filled moment. I will definitely be reading more from Alessandra Torre.

Flying by Megan Hart

FlyingBook: Flying

Author: Megan Hart

Format: Kindle ARC

Review by: Onnica

 

Basic story: Every few weeks, Stella boards a plane with her free air miles and goes in search of adventure. One night in a different location; an anonymous liaison with a man she knows she’ll never see again. This suits her life and she has no wish for anything more.

Mother to  a surly teenager, Stella fields her way through life’s difficulties and shared custody. Her free weekends keep her grounded, make her feel wanted and desired and she comes to crave them like nicotine. She doesn’t have to be Stella, she can be whomever she likes. When she meets Matthew on a delayed stop in Chicago, she immediately recognises a kindred spirit. She’s not the only one seeking solace elsewhere and running away from a difficult past. She isn’t prepared for him to see her so intimately. She can’t lie to him. And she has to accept that one time only with Matthew may just not be enough.

Why you should read it: I love fluff and feel good as much as the next person, but sometimes I want a sexy read that also has substance. This is why I constantly return to Megan Hart. (Check out my past reviews if you don’t believe me!) This book has it all; heartbreak, finding love and passion after 40 and learning to trust your heart again, despite your instincts telling you otherwise. Stella is a great character – she’s struggling. She tries to be a good mother and gives all she has, but until she can put the past to rest, there’s no hope for her family.

What you might hate: The book is one of Megan’s heavier stories – parts are actually heartbreaking and at times I had no idea how Stella would pick up the pieces. She is isolated and at times you wonder how much of that is actually down to Stella. What did she do? Matthew was a good character and a challenging one, but at times I wanted to slap him. He was so weak and definitely had alcohol issues that didn’t seem to be addressed. Yet I still loved them as a couple and was rooting for them.

Rating: 4/5 for a sensual, gritty and absorbing tale of love, loss and lust. But not necessarily in that order.

Flying is out on May 1st.

Just One Night by Lauren Layne

FINAL-JUST-ONE-NIGHTBook: Just One Night

Author: Lauren Layne

Series: Sex, Love & Stiletto #3

Review by: Onnica

Basic story: Riley McKenna loves her job. As a sex writer at Stiletto magazine, she’s gained quite the reputation as an expert in men and having a good time. As the anniversary issue of the magazine approaches, each columnist is asked to write a personal piece that draws on her own experience. Not a problem for a sexpert right? Wrong, Riley may have been giving sex advice very successfully over the years, but her own range of experience is seriously lacking. The reason: Sam Compton. Sam has featured heavily in Riley’s life and her fantasies for the past ten years. The chemistry between them is electric. The only problem is getting him to see her as anything other than his best buddy’s little sister.

Sam Compton is in turmoil – he’s left his highflying career as an investment banker and ploughed his 401(k) into a new distillery venture, making high quality whisky. He’s unsure of himself but knows one thing: he’d do anything for Riley McKenna. She drives him crazy. When she propositions him to help her write her article for the anniversary issue, it takes all he has to refuse. He promised her brother long ago that he wouldn’t go after his little sister and he’s not in a hurry to lose his best friend. But when Riley’s offering just one night to get the sexual tension out of both their systems, will one night be enough?

Why you should read this: If you’ve read and enjoyed After The Kiss and Love The One You’re With then you definitely need to read on to see how some much-loved characters are getting on. Riley, Grace and Julie are a lot of fun and it’s great to catch up with them and their love lives. Riley’s a great character. She’s brave, focused and determined to get her man. Sam is sexy, hopeless and prone to hurt those who love him the most. He screws up – making him a flawed hero. It was a heart-warming and sexy read.

What you might hate: This book had quite a bit more angst than the earlier two. Not a bad thing – it gave it depth, but at times the hero did do the whole ‘I’m not good enough for you, I don’t deserve to be happy’ shtick, which fortunately, didn’t last too long. I don’t have a lot of patience for heroes who sabotage their own happiness! The angst was well balanced by the heroine’s determination to get her man and make him see sense. I’m hoping there will be a fourth book in the series for Emma and Alex – I don’t want it to end…

Rating: While I may not have loved this book as much as Love the One You’re With, it was still an enjoyable, sexy read. I’m giving Just One Night 3.5/5

Just One Night is out on April 22nd.

Her Best Laid Plans by Cara McKenna

Her Best Laid PlansBook: Her Best Laid Plans

Author: Cara McKenna

Series: Cosmo Hot Reads (short stories)

Format: Kindle ARC

Review by: Onnica

Basic story: Jamie Webb is newly-dumped and in Ireland on a holiday that was supposed to be taken with her best friend. Alone in the middle of nowhere, Jamie is convinced that the trip will be a bust. The local pub is full of senior citizens and she’d happily drive to the nearest town if she could conquer a stick shift and face driving on the wrong side of the road.

Nursing her pint of Guinness and contemplating her luck, in walks the sexiest bartender she’s ever seen. It doesn’t hurt that he’s the only guy under thirty for miles. Connor Kelleher makes Jamie want to throw caution to the wind and go for it. She deserves a holiday fling. Nine days of flirtation and sex, then back to the real world. Each will be left with a warm memory. Connor is exactly what she is looking for – fun, cocky and he wants exactly the same as she does out of life. A no strings attached fling to turn a good holiday into a great holiday. But the more time the pair spend together, Jamie begins to wonder whether leaving will be that easy…

Why you should read this: If you haven’t read any Cara McKenna before, then you are in for a treat. The woman is super smart and writes male characters really well. She made Connor sizzle – he was the right blend of sexy, shy and cocky – such a great balance. Jamie was a likeable, funny heroine – she gave great banter and was someone we all know. The story is sweet, oh-so very sexy and just so much fun. She writes about Ireland with authority and the dialogue is authentic and spot on. I didn’t want it to end but I finished it with a great sense of satisfaction and a goofy smile on my face. I may have to return to Ireland sooner than I thought, if the male citizens are half this hot!

What you might hate: Absolutely nothing to hate on here – loved it! And yes, I have a huge need to go and buy Ms McKenna’s entire back catalogue!

Rating: Easily 5/5. It made me smile, feel warm and fuzzy when I really needed cheering up. Awesomely hot, hot, hot. Read it!

Her Best Laid Plans is out on April 15th.