Thursday, May 25, 2017

ARC Review: Walk of Shame by Lauren Layne

Walk of Shame
(Love Unexpectedly)
by Lauren Layne
Publisher: Loveswept
Genre: Contemporary romance
Release Date: April 18th, 2017
Rating: ★★★
Goodreads | Kindle | B&N | iBooks | Kobo | Google Play

Sparks fly between a misunderstood New York socialite and a cynical divorce lawyer in this lively standalone rom-com from the USA Today bestselling author of Blurred Lines and Love Story.

Pampered heiress Georgianna Watkins has a party-girl image to maintain, but all the shopping and clubbing is starting to feel a little bit hollow—and a whole lot lonely. Though Georgie would never admit it, the highlights of her week are the mornings when she comes home at the same time as her uptight, workaholic neighbor is leaving to hit the gym and put in a long day at the office. Teasing him is the most fun Georgie’s had in years—and the fuel for all her naughtiest daydreams.

Celebrity divorce attorney Andrew Mulroney doesn’t have much time for women, especially spoiled tabloid princesses who spend more time on Page Six than at an actual job. Although Georgie’s drop-dead gorgeous, she’s also everything Andrew resents: the type of girl who inherited her penthouse instead of earning it. But after Andrew caps one of their predawn sparring sessions with a surprise kiss—a kiss that’s caught on camera—all of Manhattan is gossiping about whether they’re a real couple. And nobody’s more surprised than Andrew to find that the answer just might be yes.

Review:

[Actual rating: 3.5]

Lauren Layne is one of my go-to authors, so I was really excited when I got approved for this on Netgalley that I ditched my school work and finished it on one sitting. 

Now in hindsight I'm a bit confused as to why it is called Walk of Shame when there isn't really any walk of shame in it... Lots of walking, though... Walking aside, this is such a fun read! I especially love the way it read like a rom-com movie in my head. 

Anyway, the reason why this book worked for me is the same reason why LL's books worked for me in the past: the characters. Georgie stole the show for me, I love her so much. She's kindhearted, easy to love, and she's a genuine ball of sunshine I want to squish and keep her forever. Mr. Love Interest, Andrew Mulroney (*cue Georgie voice* Esquire) is also entertaining to read despite his stoic ways. He's definitely the personification of the You Tried meme; boy just can't express himself without offending people, poor thing.

Their early morning banter are basically the highlights of this book, although I'm still horrified that Andrew is up and ready to go by 5 am (can't relate, Andy). I want to call their relationship enemies-to-lovers but I think they are not quite what you call enemies? It's more of Georgie wanting to get under Andrew's skin and crack him because he is so...stodgy? Either way, it's so fun to watch because everybody likes Georgie and then here is Andrew who keeps calling her ridiculous and rolling his eyes. I would take it as a personal challenge as well. 

"I can't shake the sense that while maybe I don't need someone to need me, I really, really wouldn't mind spending time with someone who at least wants me."*

Also, I'm a big Disney buff, so I shared Georgie's obsession with the movie Enchanted. I really love the role the movie played in the book, especially in the end. I was in tears by the time I reached the ending. It really suits the whole HEA vibe this book had going, my hopeless romantic heart is thriving. 

Not to forget, a special shoutout to Peter and Pam, Andrew's brother and sister in law for being awesome. I wish we had more of them. I love their little bit of HEA in the end (I cried, no surprise).

Overall, Walk of Shame has been a great stress reliever, and I recommend it to anyone who's looking for a quick, lighthearted read.

*Quote is taken from the ARC. 




Friday, April 28, 2017

Cover Reveal: The Difference Between Us (Opposites Attract #2) by Rachel Higginson

Hey friends, today I'm here to help out with a cover reveal for Rachel Higginson, whose books I just love! This is the second book in the Opposites Attract series and I definitely recommend the first one, it's the perfect comfort read. I am so excited for this next book as well and the cover is just gorgeous too. Without further do, please scroll down so you can witness the cover in all its glory and the absolutely charming synopsis as well.





The Difference Between Us
(Opposites Attract #2)
by Rachel Higginson
Release Date: July 25th 2017
Genre: Contemporary romance
Goodreads | Kindle

I’m cursed.

At least when it comes to finding Mr. Right.

I’m tired of men that only want one night stands or blind dates that are nothing but awkward and uncomfortable. I’m tired of avoiding inappropriate text messages and the constant disappointment of always meeting Mr. Wrong.

After all these years of dates that lead nowhere, I can admit that it’s me. I’m the problem. I’m shy and picky and cursed. Definitely cursed.

So I’ve decided two things.

The first? I’m giving up dating and relationships and men in general. Maybe, possibly, forever.

The second? I’m going to have to try harder to avoid Ezra Baptiste.

If I couldn’t hack it in the kiddy pool of dating, I certainly can’t swim in his deep end. He’s too successful. Too intense. He’s all man when I’m used to nothing but boys pretending to be grownups. He’s everything I’m afraid to want and so far out of my league we might as well be different species entirely.

So he’ll need to find a different artist to paint his mural. And a different graphic designer to help him with his website. He’ll need to find someone else to glare at and flirt with and kiss.

It can’t be me.

We’re too different.


Thoughts, comments, opinions? I personally love the double exposure thing happening at the bottom and I know I'm going to enjoy this book so having a pretty cover is definitely winning some brownie points haha. Until next time,





Wednesday, April 26, 2017

ARC Mini Review: Haven (Beards and Bondage #1) by Rebekah Weatherspoon

Haven
(Beards and Bondage #1)
by Rebekah Weatherspoon
Publisher: Rebekah Weatherspoon
Genre: Contemporary romance
Release Date: April 25th, 2017
Rating: ★★★
Goodreads | Kindle | B&N | Kobo 

A week-long getaway…

City girl Claudia Cade's carefree life is plunged into chaos when a camping trip with her brother in the national forests of Northern California turns into a deadly dash for her survival.

A solitary world turned upside down…

Nature photographer Shepard Olsen has resigned himself to a quiet existence, with only his dog by his side, until a woman in need of his protection shows up on his doorstep and throws his universe into disarray.

Two lives linked by tragedy…

Claudia is desperate to heal from her traumatic loss, but can’t stop thinking about her run-in with evil….or the grizzled mountain man whose quick thinking and good aim saved her life. When she shows up on Shep's doorstep again, she finds she isn't the only one who can't move on.

…saved by bliss.

The two begin an intense, passionate relationship of Dominance and submission, pleasure and pain, but with dark memories haunting them and decisions about the future rapidly approaching, Claudia can’t help but wonder...how long can they be each other's haven?

*** WARNING: This book contains a sexual relationship between a fashionista and a cranky mountain man who are dealing with physical and emotional trauma. And a very big, cuddly dog.***

Review:

Lisa: I'm a big fan of Rebekah's Sugar Baby trilogy (I mean, who can resist Michael Bradbury and his *coughs* oral skills?) and I was excited for this one purely because a) bearded hero, and b) sex in the woods. Hey, pretty much all I need a book, to be honest. Unfortunately I'm a tad disappointed that I didn't enjoy this as much as I hope I would, and I managed to pinpoint it to two reasons.

Firstly I applaud how the story started because it definitely grabbed my attention and made me go what the hell (I am, obviously, among the people who sometimes don't pay attention to book blurbs), but the momentum sort of fizzled out by the third chapter. Things did pick up again by the 60-70% mark so there's that, but I wish I was hooked from start to finish instead of struggling to make it halfway.

Secondly, I love both Shep and Claudia (extra love to Shep's dog), and I especially found it entertaining to be in Shep's head. I love how Shep is so gentle with Claudia despite his appearance and grumpy rep, and how Claudia challenges Shep all the time, and they're sure as heck hot together, but I feel like there's something missing? I'm not opposed to the insta/fast love in books (Shep and Claudia were technically only together for a week, after all) but I need that Moment, the Turning Point when Everything Becomes Clear, you know? And it's not present in this read.

There are some cute moments (the ending bit was my ultimate favourite) and sexy times are sexy but overall, I wish I had loved this more.


Eri: Like Lisa, I liked this book, but I didn't love it as much as I wanted to or the hype surrounding it made me want to. Rebekah writes so well and I have really enjoyed her other books I've read but this one was a tragic case of it's not you, it's me.

The beginning is definitely a bit startling since the action starts you right off and it really hits you on the back of your head, but after the initial shock, I really liked how the book began with the intense connection that Shep and Claudia form. The pacing afterward did feel a little slow for me, before picking up again towards the end, which I struggled a bit with.

Something I really liked is while instalove books are quite common especially in romance, they're often rarely backed by a solid ground that builds on the intital attraction. With Haven, the characters are well aware that they're in over their heads because they've only just met and the characters around them express that fear as well. I did think that their time together was depicted well, but I'm not sure how much I buy into the emotional love connection.

Shep is surprisingly soft for a dominant hero, considering how often they aren't, and while he does turn intense and broody once he is in that headspace, he is so caring and sweet towards Claudia and I found that rather endearing. I liked how serious he was about his lifestyle and being careful with intitaing Claudia into bdsm, especially because I find often that my biggest frustration with the depictions of bdsm is a lack of official warning or explanation to the heroine about the lifestyle.

I do like how Claudia is direct and she maintains good communication with Shep throughout the book, and while Shep might be the one who intially protected her, she is equally protective of him and the fact that they do care about each other is clear. Also the sex was pretty good, quality smut is always a bonus. I also loved the ending and the grand gesture, which I found really sweet.

All in all, this is one of those books that I would recommend to others, because it seems like something that just didn't work for me personally, and if you're not as into bdsm, this is a good starter as Rebekah does a great job with easing you in.


Friday, April 7, 2017

Entangled Sale Blitz: Men in Uniform



This week, Entangled Publishing has been celebrating The Best Book Boyfriends Ever by shining a light on some of the heroes on Embrace! Today I’m joining in as we salute the military book boyfriends!

Authors Ophelia London & Cole Gibsen shared their thoughts about writing about men in uniform. Entangled has all of the Embrace stories with military heroes on sale for just 99¢, today only!

Is your hero inspired by a real-life person? If so, who?

Ophelia London (author of Abby Road & Crossing Abby Road): Actually, my hero, Todd, is very, very roughly based on a mix of my college boyfriend and the fantasy I wished he'd been back then. Hee-hee. I started dreaming up this story a few years after 9/11, so I KNEW Todd needed to have served in the military.

Cole Gibsen (author of Seared on my Soul): I'm the executive director of a charity that places PTSD service dogs with veterans. I wouldn't say Reece was inspired by a particular veteran, but rather the struggle I've witnessed so many of them going through.

What other kinds of heroes do you like to read about?

Ophelia: Basically any of them! But currently, I love to read about powerful men: the businessmen: strong silent type that appear to be all business, but deep down have a gooey heart of gold. And if they have an accent, whooo baby!

Cole: I'm seriously a romance junkie, so when it comes to heroes, I don't discriminate. I love them all.

Playlist - music inspired by Embrace's men in uniform, selected by the authors.



Link: https://open.spotify.com/user/hollishter/playlist/77at4Yqi8hCkCxnAEdRLPN

Sales Card - Men in Uniform - April 7

Full Measures by Rebecca Yarros
Fight & Glory #1
She knew. That’s why Mom hadn’t opened the door. She knew Dad was dead. Twenty years as an army brat and Ember Howard knew, too. Her dad would never be coming home. Then Josh Walker enters her life. Hockey star, her new next-door neighbor...and endowed with the most delicious hands that have a way of erasing her pain with a single touch. But just when Ember lets him in, Josh’s secret shatters their world. And she must decide if he’s worth the risk that comes with loving a man who could strip her world bare.

Eyes Turned Skyward by Rebecca Yarros
Fight & Glory #2
Since her sister's death, Paisley, who shares her sister’s heart condition, is treated like glass by her parents. But nothing will stop her from completing her Bucket List—even if it kills her. And it almost does, until Jagger pulls her from the ocean and sets her soul on fire. Jagger is wickedly hot, reckless, and perfect for a girl living life to the fullest. Except Paisley is the commanding general's daughter and her boyfriend is Jagger's biggest rival. One wrong move, and they could crash and burn…

Beyond What is Given by Rebecca Yarros
Fight & Glory #3
The last thing Lt. Grayson Masters needs is the distraction of his gorgeous new roommate, Samantha Fitzgerald. While her smart mouth and free spirit are irresistibly irritating, he can’t deny their off-the-charts chemistry—or her ability to pull his focus away from his Apache helicopter course. Sam has no business digging for Grayson’s secrets while she’s hiding her own, but that doesn’t stop her from trying to tear down his walls. Each barrier she busts through drops one of her own, though, and she’s not prepared for the truth…

Hallowed Ground by Rebecca Yarros
Fight & Glory #4
Josh Walker is loyal, reckless, and every girl’s dream. But he only has eyes for December Howard. Together they have survived grief, the military, distance, and time. As Josh heads to Afghanistan, a country that nearly killed him once before and took Ember’s father, they fill their last days together with love, passion, and plans for their future... If there’s one thing Ember has learned from her father’s death, it’s that there are some obstacles even love can’t conquer.

Seared on My Soul by Cole Gibsen
Written on My Heart #2
Reece Montgomery never planned on being anyone’s hero, especially the foul-mouthed, bleach-blonde barista from the local coffee shop. He thinks there’s more to Emily Garret than her tattoos, and lip ring, but getting close means letting her into his past and meeting his ghosts.

Abby Road by Ophelia London
Abby Road #1
It's been exactly one day since rock star Abby Kelly fled her chaotic life. One day without her demanding manager, papparrazzi, ridiculous tour schedules, and recording sessions. But all it takes is one twist of fate— to enter a stranger's surf shop while trying to dodge some fans—for everything to change. When Abby meets Todd, an ex-Marine sniper turned surfer, she feels things she hasn't felt for a long time. Possibly never. But when the real world comes crashing back in, Abby is caught between the superstar she's become...and the painfully real human being she longs to be.

Crossing Abby Road by Ophelia London
Abby Road #2
Todd Camford went from Marine sniper to owning a beachfront surf shop in Florida. He's a free-flying, unfettered hawk, and relationships outside of family are out of the question. And then she comes into his shop. Everyone knows who Abigail Kelly is—mega rockstar, tabloid fixture. He'd be an ass (or possibly insane) to think he can resist her. Just for today, maybe he'll keep an eye on her to make sure she doesn't get mobbed. Because really, how much damage could one day with a super-hot, kick-ass celebrity really do?

Rafflecopter Giveaway: A grand prize pack of signed print books, ebooks, swag, & specially selected gifts from your favorite Embrace authors!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Monday, April 3, 2017

April TBR: Wrap Up + Reflection



Hello friends, it's time for us to share the latest in what we've read and our thoughts on how our reading went last month. This time, we've opted not to make a list of books to read for the coming month, since we both miserably failed last time. I don't know if you can relate, but sometimes you just have a burning desire to read anything other than the book you're supposed to be reading.

Lisa:

Oh my god I'm in the worst reading slump ever, I feel. I spent March rereading old faves, and if it isn't for Goodreads' new reread setting I would've been having a hard time trying to meet my 2017 reading goal. Aside from Lisa Kleypas' Wallflowers series (one of my all time favourite regency romance series!), I also reread Cara McKenna's After Hours and Willing Victim. Cara McKenna writes awesome alpha males who aren't scared to show their emotions and it feels so great revisiting her work. Aside from that, I also read and reviewed the ARC for Kate Meader's In Skates Trouble that is a part of an anthology called Hot On Ice. In Skates Trouble is the prequel to Kate's new series, Chicago Rebels, and I'm so excited for the first book, Irresistible You to come out this August.

As for my plan to read romance class books, I'm afraid I failed miserably in that corner. However, I did read Plain Vanilla by Ines Bautista-Yao and I adored it so much. It's a short and sweet YA novella about a girl who's been perceived as plain her whole life, and when she finds a book of dares, she decides to be fun and spontaneous and attempt each one, but for some reason her crush keeps showing up to her every try and does them with her. I'm also currently reading Beginner's Guide: Love and Other Chemicals by Six de Los Reyes, and I'm loving it already because the heroine is 26 year old postgrad student who's never been in a relationship (sounds a tad bit familiar, hmm). 

Last but not least, Laura Florand's Trust Me is coming out this month! Laura Florand is one of my and Eri's favourite romance authors, and I'm really excited for everyone to read her latest release.


Eri:

I've been in an odd reading mood the last month, but I'm slowly regaining my mojo for YA at least, which makes me rather happy. I spent some time reading cookbooks, of all things, in efforts to feel inspired enough to read, and I think it did the trick. I caught up with a number of ARCs I had, which is great and all, but I haven't written many reviews, a fact that makes me quite sad hahah.

Trust Me is the latest Laura Florand book out later this month, and of course, like all of her books, I adored it to pieces. You'll probably get sooner than later that Lisa and I are massive fans of her and we'll post our dual review sometime soon. I also read The Opposite of You which was the cutest romance between a food truck owner and a chef, with positively delicious banter. You can read my review for A Star to Steer Her By on the blog, and that was a nice read as well. Lastly, there's Forbidden Promises, the latest in the O'Malley series, which was a great sexy book.

For YA, I read Why I Loathe Sterling Lane, a book I inhaled because the rivalry and competitive spirit between the main character Harper and Sterling were so much fun and I loved the way it breathed life into the cliche premise. I breezed through the Starbound trilogy, a YA sci-fi romance series that was so well-done and enjoyable I can really understand the hype it gets and deserves.


How has everyone's March reading been? Do you have any must reads or favorites? We'd love to know, since we're always looking for new material!


Thursday, March 23, 2017

Blog Tour: A Star to Steer Her By by Beth Anne Miller


A Star to Steer Her By
by Beth Anne Miller
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Genre: Contemporary romance
Release Date: March 20th, 2017
Rating: ★★★ (3.75 stars)

I’m scarred. Broken. I’ll never be the same.
But I will take this journey.

Ever since my last dive ended in bloodshed, I’ve been terrified to go back into the water. But the opportunity to spend a semester at sea is too good to pass up. I need to get my life back.

I never expected to love it this much. And I never expected Tristan MacDougall.

Rugged, strong, and with demons of his own, Tristan helps me find the courage I thought I had lost and heals me with every stolen moment we share. But the rules of the ship mean we can't be together.

When a dive excursion goes terribly wrong, our only hope for survival is each other.

Review:
I wasn't sure quite what to expect from this book being honest. It sounded engaging, so while the first pages didn't suck me in completely, I soon found myself falling in love with the characters and the whole sailing experience. It felt like catching a glimpse of a world (the sailing one) but didn't overwhelm me with technical details. I enjoyed how the sailing trip was portrayed as this magical experience, but didn't try to sugarcoat the less glamorous aspects of it and stayed true to what the experience is. The diving and ocean scenes were so vivid, and I can't help but want to attempt to go diving myself, to see all the beautiful fish and sea mammals and gorgeous view from a boat.

Ari, the heroine, is easily likable and I admired her courage so much. She's been through a tough traumatic experience in the ocean before, and while she's hurting physically and mentally, she was trying, and I couldn't help but be drawn in by that resilient core. I loved her passion and enthusiasm for sailing, and how she worked really hard, even if she did get distracted at times by the handsome crew member. Tristan is swoony, to say the least, and though his looks and Scottish accent would have charmed me anyway, I loved how caring and respectful he was towards Ari. He has some pain of his own to work out, but he also has that deep passion for sailing which easily connected him with Ari. The no hooking up rule between them is a very palpable thing, and while you know they're going to hook up at some point, I did like that the actual physical aspects were slowly intensified along with the emotional connection they shared. The romance was sweet and slowly built up, something I had been slightly worried would get reduced to instalove, but I felt the chemistry and tension every delicious step of the way. Those kisses were seriously swoony, I can attest that the chemistry definitely delivered.

Kevin and Jenny are two side characters who are both enjoyable in their own way. Kevin is a great guy, and I loved his friendship with Ari, they both joke around with each other but you can see the camaraderie is built on their very real bond. Jenny was a character who was introduced as snobby and not quite in touch with the whole sailing thing, but she did win me over, especially after how she thawed down the longer they were on the ship.

It wasn't a full four stars for me mostly because in general, I try to reserve those for books that reach my heart and soul on a different level, and this one didn't quite reach there, unfortunately. I also felt the synopsis is a bit misleading, since the dive excursion occurs quite late in the book, contrary to what I expected. But overall, it was thoroughly enjoyable and I recommend this to anyone who wants to get lost in romance and passion for at least a few hours.

Thank you to Entangled for the review copy.




About the Author
Beth Anne Miller’s first book, written in elementary school, was bound in pink fabric and was about—what else?—a girl and her horse. She soon began cheating on horses with the sea, becoming an open water scuba diver at age 14. That love of the sea led her to a college semester aboard a schooner. She returned with fond memories of the exhilaration of being on a ship under full sail, less fond memories of hurling over the leeward rail on a daily basis, and a sailing bug she couldn’t quite shake.

In addition to horses and the sea, she has a fascination for all things Scottish (including, but not limited to, men in kilts), which she explored with her first novel, INTO THE SCOTTISH MIST (The Wild Rose Press, 2011), and carried into her new novel, A STAR TO STEER HER BY (Entangled Embrace, March 2017). A native New Yorker, Beth Anne works in the publishing industry and is always looking ahead to her next voyage, whether a short one on a dive boat or whale watch, or, with luck, a longer one on a tall ship.




Tuesday, March 21, 2017

ARC Mini Review: In Skates Trouble by Kate Meader

In Skates Trouble (Chicago Rebels #0.5) 
Part of Hot on Ice: A Hockey Romance Anthology
by Kate Meader
Publisher: Avery Flynn
Genre: Contemporary romance
Release Date: March 21st, 2017
Rating: ★★★★
Goodreads | Kindle | B&N | iBooks | Kobo | Google Play

He'll give her what she needs . . .

Addison Williams isn't looking for romance, but when she encounters an eavesdropping stranger on an adjoining hotel balcony, she figures she's due a little fun. She just hadn't reckoned on the "fun" escalating so quickly to "out of control." One minute she's flirting with a whiskey-graveled voice in the dark, the next that same voice is telling her to do things. Hot, wicked things.

Cup-winning hockey player Ford "Killer" Callaghan can't believe he let the anonymous woman who blew his mind slip away into the night. He'll track her down because once could never be enough—even if discovering her identity places her strictly out of bounds.

Stolen kisses. Secret hook-ups. Deliciously forbidden in every way. Can a passion that started in the dark find a lifetime of love in the light?

Review:

I've been in the world's worst reading slump for some time now, but Kate Meader managed to do me a solid and pull me out of it with IN SKATES TROUBLE.

See, I don't usually give novellas a rating higher than three stars on account of their length, but this one is just too good for a mere three. I was hooked from the moment Addison and Ford had their first encounter equivalent to phone sex (I can always count on Kate to write steamy sexy times!) and finished the book in one sitting.

What I Love

  • The Story 

IN SKATES TROUBLE doesn't feel like a novella to me; it's well developed and didn't end in a rush like some novellas.

Also, did I mention this book has two of my favourite tropes? Addison is Ford's boss's ex-wife, and she is also six years older than Ford. Forbidden romance? Check. Age gap? Check.

  • The Characters

Addison is just so admirable; I love her determination to move on from her ugly divorce and make something of herself outside the labels people have given her by starting her own lingerie line. Ford is more than meets the eye; he's all heart and soul, and I love his relationship with his nephews and brother, despite having some problems with the latter. I enjoy their witty banter and the fact that they can't keep their hands off each other every time they're in each other's zone. Their first "meeting" is definitely something else altogether.


What I Don't Love

Um, the fact that we have to wait until August for Harper's story?

Harper Chase is the superwoman in charge of the hockey team Chicago Rebels, and her and Addison's friendship is one of my favourite things about this book. I simply love how supportive they are with each other. I'm also intrigued by the hint of dislike between Harper and Remy; give me all the hate-to-love romances!


Overall, this has been fun! Now let me just go and reread this again as I wait (not so) patiently for August (AUGUST?!).


E-ARC is provided by the wonderful author in exchange for an honest review.