Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Counting on You by Kelly Jensen

Title: Counting on You
Author: Kelly Jensen
My Rating: B+

Genre: Contemporary Romance (m/m)
Series: Counting #3
Main Characters: Henry and Marc
Release Date: November 2017
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: spicy


Story Overview:
Henry and Marc can’t seem to catch a break. They’ve had two disastrous dates—the first trapped in a car during a blizzard and the second locked in a basement—followed by nearly two months apart. Even though they work for the same firm, their relationship is held together by flying visits, phone calls, and text messages. A joint assignment in Washington DC might be more togetherness than they can handle, however.

Henry is still battling insecurity, and this assignment is too important to his career to mess up. Marc is committed. He’s falling for Henry and looks forward to having him permanently on his team and at his side. But the real test isn’t the assignment. When Marc finally lays his heart on the line, can he count on Henry to be there for him, in every way that matters? And can he do the same for Henry when Henry needs it the most?

My Review:
This has been an enjoyable series, but poor Henry and Mark have never had a chance to really find out who they are as a couple. Their first couple of encounters were a disaster and ever since then they're rarely even in town at the same time. 

So, when they are sent out of town to work on the same project, this is their chance to connect, to see what life together really looks like. But...you know it's not going to be that simple. They haven't had normal. They truly haven't even had a relationship. And every new relationship has pains at the beginning of just how to make all this work. So, while they may actually be together...at last, that sure doesn't mean it's all smooth sailing from here.

At issue for these two guys is that they have extremely different personalities. Henry is very methodical and measured. The whole 'counting' aspect of the books come from him. Mark is more headstrong and act-before-he-thinks kind of guy. Mark has also just freshly admitted that he's gay so there are some lingering issues there. Then, add to that...the guys work together and there's the whole 'how do you work with someone who you're also in a relationship with'...aspect to deal with. 

So, no...not all smooth sailing from here. But they are navigating their relationship. This time without getting trapped somewhere...although I have to admit I did love the whole ending and how Kelly Jensen wrapped it up. It truly was perfect for this series. I've enjoyed the whole series and definitely recommend it. 

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Dirty Scoundrel by Jessica Clare

Title: Dirty Scoundrel
Author: Jessica Clare
My Rating: B+

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Roughneck Billionaires #2
Main Characters: Clay and Natalie
Release Date: November 2017
Publisher: InterMix
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot


Story Overview:
In a sizzling novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Dirty Money, there’s rich, and then there’s filthy rich when an oil tycoon takes being a roughneck billionaire to a new level. 

Clay Price has everything he’s ever wanted, except the one thing money can’t buy—Natalie Weston. Years ago, Clay and Natalie were in love…until she turned down his marriage proposal. Now Clay and his brothers are oil-rich billionaires, and they can have whatever they want. And what Clay wants is Natalie in his bed, no matter what it takes. If it means being ruthless, he’ll do it.  

Natalie gave up on true love years ago when the realities of the world destroyed her fairy-tale hopes. Giving up Clay is her biggest regret in life, and she’s excited to see him return…until she finds out why. Clay’s got one hell of a proposal for her: he’ll save her father’s business and bail Natalie out of debt if she’ll agree to become his very personal assistant. It’s clear that he wants more from her than just typing. 

It’s also clear that Natalie has no choice. This scoundrel’s bet could destroy any hope they had of reconciliation—or it could bring them together once and for all…

My Review:
It's been a while since I read any of Jessica Clare's writing. I'd forgotten just how much I liked her style of storytelling. 

And I have to admit...this story was unexpected just in that I didn't remember what the story was about. This is most definitely not your typical romance story line, although it is a second chance at love story. 

Natalie and Clay were high school sweethearts, but they were young and naive and were easily manipulated which tore them apart. That was seven years ago and neither one of them have recovered since...or moved on. 

But for Clay...he is ready to move on. Enough already. He just can't get past what happened when Nat broke his heart so he comes up with a plan...not a great one, but he's a guy and isn't thinking much past his crotch. So, he goes to Natalie with a proposal...and yes, it's just as indecent and jerk-y as it sounds. But Nat is desperate and not able to turn down the money he's offering so she agrees to his ill-fated plan...one that's pretty much guaranteed to crush them both. 

Overall, this was an enjoyable read. There are some points where the reader has to be willing to suspend disbelief, but I was able to do that well enough. (Although I seriously need to go back and read book #1 to see how the brothers made their fortune as roughnecks. My hubby works in the oil business and I'm just not seeing where billionaire-status could happen for Clay by the age of 25 working as a roughneck...but again...suspend disbelief...LOL). 

And my heart broke for Nat's situation. It's simply heartbreaking and although it was out there, I found it very believable. You do have to wonder about these kids that are born so late in moviestar's (at least for the men) lives. That could definitely make for some uncomfortable realities to a young persons life when dealing with an elderly, failing parent.

I've actually already bought book #1 (since I missed it's release) and plan to listen to it on audiobook this week, but I'm definitely looking forward to more in the series. I like these Boone brothers...they're perfectly unexpected billionaires and I love how irreverent they are!

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Sweet Tea and Sympathy by Molly Harper

Title: Sweet Tea and Sympathy
Author: Molly Harper
My Rating: A

Genre: Contemporary Romance 
Series: Southern Eclectic #1
Main Characters: Margot and Kyle
Release Date: November 2017
Publisher: Gallery
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
Beloved author Molly Harper launches a brand-new contemporary romance series, Southern Eclectic, with this story of a big-city party planner who finds true love in a small Georgia town.

Nestled on the shore of Lake Sackett, Georgia is the McCready Family Funeral Home and Bait Shop. (What, you have a problem with one-stop shopping?) Two McCready brothers started two separate businesses in the same building back in 1928, and now it’s become one big family affair. And true to form in small Southern towns, family business becomes everybody’s business.

Margot Cary has spent her life immersed in everything Lake Sackett is not. As an elite event planner, Margot’s rubbed elbows with the cream of Chicago society, and made elegance and glamour her business. She’s riding high until one event goes tragically, spectacularly wrong. Now she’s blackballed by the gala set and in dire need of a fresh start—and apparently the McCreadys are in need of an event planner with a tarnished reputation.

As Margot finds her footing in a town where everybody knows not only your name, but what you had for dinner last Saturday night and what you’ll wear to church on Sunday morning, she grudgingly has to admit that there are some things Lake Sackett does better than Chicago—including the dating prospects. Elementary school principal Kyle Archer is a fellow fish-out-of-water who volunteers to show Margot the picture-postcard side of Southern living. The two of them hit it off, but not everybody is happy to see an outsider snapping up one of the town's most eligible gentleman. Will Margot reel in her handsome fish, or will she have to release her latest catch?

My Review:
From the moment this story started, my heart broke for Margot. Dang, she got shafted...both by her family as a kid and her situation in Chicago with her career. My heart literally hurt for her and I could definitely feel empathy for the fact that she doesn't trust anyone but herself. This girl has learned that defense mechanism the hard way. So, when she shows up in this small Georgia town and a family that she doesn't know, she has no idea how to handle them. Their overwhelming welcoming attitude and tell-it-like-it-is talk is something that Margot does not know how to handle. 

She's slowly settling in and when she meets a sad lumberjack in the local watering hole, things are looking even better. But sad lumberjack is much more than Margot planned for. He's actually a widower raising two young girls as well as acting as principal of the local elementary...he has strings all over the place and Margot can't deal with strings. But Kyle is okay with that. He never wants to feel the same kind of pain he did when his wife died ever again...he will NOT get attached. But the two are pretty dang hot together. 

This was a FABULOUS book. I am so excited about this series. Both forays into this world (this book and the prequel novella, Save a Truck Ride a Redneck) have been absolutely fabulous. I love getting to see Molly Harper's brand of humor translated into contemporary romance. While I enjoy her paranormal, I think I like these even better. This series is most definitely an auto buy for me from here on out. 

I loved Margot and Kyle together, but I think I enjoyed Margot with her family filled with characters as much, if not more than the romantic relationship. I'm really hoping Duffy gets a story soon...I think he's my favorite, but I kind of love them all...yes, even Stan and Donna. 

I just thoroughly enjoyed reading this book...every moment of it, and HIGHLY recommend it. It's a fun read and I fell in love with all the characters. 

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Monday, November 20, 2017

All Of the Above by Quinn Anderson


Title: All of the Above
Author: Quinn Anderson
My Rating: B-

Genre: Contemporary Romance m/m
Series
Main Characters: Brendon and Matthew
Release Date: November 2017
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: spicy

Story Overview:
Brendon isn’t in a rut, per se—he just always seems to be in-between things. Jobs. Degrees. Boyfriends. He never finishes what he starts. The perfect path is out there somewhere, and if he can just figure out what it is, he’s certain everything else will fall into place.

The last thing he expects is to meet his soul mate in the pages of a magazine quiz. “Who Is Your Perfect Man?” by Matthew Kingston seems like a road map to his future husband: the author himself. Brendon may not have his life figured out, but if Matt is as romantic as his quiz, Brendon can check “true love” off his to-do list.

When Brendon fakes a meet-cute between them, Matt proves to be as wonderful as he hoped. The more Brendon gets to know him, the harder he falls. But Brendon has a confession to make: how can he explain to Matt that he arranged their “fated” meeting? Brendon can’t tell if he’s found his soul mate, heartache, or all of the above.

My Review:
This book is extremely readable. I never once thought about not finishing it. In fact, I really kind of liked the setup of it...super creative and cute. But I just never felt like these two characters really connected. This is probably a 'me' issue though because the writing was very good. There was just something about the personalities in the book that I couldn't connect with and in turn, I don't feel like they ever connected to one another either. Yes, there was sexual attraction there, but I'm not sure I could believe their connection. But again...this is ME as the reader. That won't necessarily apply to you. The writing is good and extremely engaging.  

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Working It by Riley Hart and Devon McCormack

Title:  Working It
Author: Riley Hart and Devon McCormack
My Rating: A-
Narrator: Michael Pauley

Genre: Contemporary Romance (m/m)
Series: The Metropolis #2
Main Characters: Hayden and Cody
Release Date: May 2017 (audiobook)
Publisher: 
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
After his boyfriend dumps him, Hayden is in need of a place to live. Thanks to his buddies, he has a great lead to room with a guy named Cody in Metropolis, the hottest condominium in town. But things get a little uncomfortable when Hayden shows up for the interview and discovers he and Cody share an awkward up close and personal experience from their past. 

Cody doesn’t have a problem living with Hayden. He’s had his share of help when he was down and out, and he wants to do the same for this guy. It’s not long until Cody realizes how great it is having someone around. Sometimes, they watch movies together…and other times, they help get each other off—one of the perks of living with a guy who’s as laid back about sex as he is. They hit off so well Cody even decides to act as wingman for Hayden while he gets used to hitting the town again. 

Before they know it, they’re spending more time with each other than with anyone else. But Hayden just got out of a relationship and should be spending his nights having fun and working it around town, not jumping into something serious again. Cody’s always just gone with the flow, believing if it’s meant to happen, it will. But life doesn’t always work that way, and if they don’t fight for what’s right in front of them, Hayden and Cody might be over before they have the chance to even get started.

My Review:
Overall: 4.25
Performance: 4.0
Story: 4.25


I really enjoyed this story. Hayden is just out of a relationship that really did a number on him and he's moving in with Cody. Cody is absolutely the best person to take Hayden under his wing. Cody's one of those guys...he's sweet and protective and quickly sees that Hayden is messed up. Cody makes it his goal to pull Hayden out of his shell and out of his funk...and in the process gets so much more than he ever planned for. 

Like I said, I really enjoyed this one. The main issue I had with the first book was the gay party atmosphere of the Metropolis. That seemed toned down in this book and I enjoyed it so much more as a result. This story instead focused on these two guys and how their relationship and friendship evolves. I enjoyed all of that. 

Also, this is really a friends with benefits relationship, so it checked a lot of tropes for me that I loved. I love it when friends fall in love. I also love getting to see a character come into theirselves...that was Hayden to the core. 

It was fun and entertaining and I definitely recommend it. I was waffling on book #3 because of the whole "daddy" trope which does NOT do it for me. But there's a glimpse of Jackson at the end of this book and I caved. On to book #3 in the series. I'm crossing my fingers. 

Note: I really do enjoy Michael Pauley's narration, too. He has great inflections and emotions. That being said, though, there were a couple of points in this story where the two main character voices seemed to get a little lost and I wasn't sure which one was speaking. It was a really minor thing, but something I noticed especially in the chapter transitions. 

Friday, November 17, 2017

Lost and Found by Lucy Lennox and Sloane Kennedy (audiobook)


Title:  Lost and Found
Author: Lucy Lennox and Sloane Kennedy
My Rating: A
Narrator: Michael Pauley

Genre: Contemporary Romance (m/m)
Series: Twist of Fate #1
Main Characters: Xander and Bennett
Release Date: August 2017 (audiobook)
Publisher: SKLL
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:

He promised to never leave me. But when I needed him the most, that was exactly what he did…
Wilderness guide Xander Reed has spent fifteen years trying to forget the night he turned to his best friend in his darkest hour, only to find the young man who’d sworn to always have his back was turning his on Xander instead. Two thousand miles and fifteen years of building a new life in the quiet backcountry of the Rocky Mountains should have been enough to put the memory of Bennett Crawford out of his mind forever, but old wounds run deep and when Bennett suddenly reappears in his life as part of a wilderness expedition Xander is guiding, the scars he thought long healed break wide open.
I’d only ever wanted to protect Xander from getting hurt again. I never considered the one he needed protection from was me…
Bennett Crawford was faced with an impossible choice the night his best friend needed him.
He chose wrong.
As the only son of one of the wealthiest families in New England, he should have had the world at his feet, but losing his best friend at the tender age of fourteen changed everything. And even though Bennett’s managed to hide behind a mask of contentment as he takes his place at his father’s side in the family business, inside he’s searching for the piece of himself that’s been missing ever since Xander Reed walked out of his life. Bennett’s only saving grace is his work with a group of inner city kids, and when he’s given the chance to show the troubled teens that there’s a bigger world out there waiting for them if they just have the courage to reach for it, he takes it.
But when he steps off that bus for what was supposed to be a week of fun and adventure, he’s instantly returned to the past when he discovers their expedition guide is none other than the boy he let go so long ago. Only, the soft-hearted, insecure little boy Bennett once knew is gone, and in his place is a brooding, bitter man who isn’t interested in second chances.
People leave. I know that now and nothing Bennett has to say to me will change anything…
All Bennett wants is another chance to show Xander that friendship was only the beginning. But when a stubborn Xander refuses to even hear him out, Bennett realizes he’s going to need to fight dirty.
Because now that he’s found Xander again, he’s not letting him go a second time…


My Review:
Overall: 4.5
Performance: 4.75
Story: 4.5

There was tons to love about this story. It's a second chance at love story which is definitely one of my favorite tropes, but I think my favorite thing about this story was the outdoor adventure setting. It worked so well to set up an amazing book. I was riveted the whole time I listened to the audiobook and truly would have been okay if the story had never ended. The visuals and settings were great. The romance and the characters were fantastic. I became immersed in the book and didn't want to come out of it...which is really hard when listening to an audiobook. For some reason people don't like it when you completely shut them out in favor of the fantasy world playing through your earbuds. 

I highly recommend this one and cannot wait for book #2. I'm hoping it comes out in audio soon, or else I might have to break down and read the ebook.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Mack Daddy by Penelope Ward (audiobook)


Title:  Mack Daddy
Author: Penelope Ward
My Rating: A
Narrator: Andi Arndt and Sebastion York

Genre: Contemporary Romance 
Series
Main Characters: Mack and Frankie
Release Date: March 2017 (audiobook)
Publisher: -
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
They called him Mack Daddy. No, seriously, his name was Mack. Short for Mackenzie.

Thus, the nickname. Perfect, right?
So was he: perfect. The perfect physical male specimen.

At the private school where I taught, Mack Morrison was the only man around in a sea of women.
Everyone wanted a piece of the hot single father of the sweet little boy. I was riddled with jealousy, because they didn’t know that—to me—he was much more.
They didn’t know about our past.
He’d chosen my school for his son on purpose, because Mack and I, we had unfinished business.

As my friend Lorelai so eloquently put it: “Unfinished business between two people who are clearly attracted to each other is like an eternal case of blue balls.” And I was suffering in pain from my case.

I was still intensely attracted to Mack. I tried to resist him, immersing myself further into a relationship with another man just to protect my heart.
Not to mention, getting involved with a parent was strictly against school rules. But seeing Mack day in and day out was breaking me down.

And soon I might be breaking all the rules.

Author's note – Told in alternating points of view, Mack Daddy is a full-length standalone novel.  
My Review:

Overall: 4.5
Performance: 4.75
Story: 4.5

ooh, this book was so good. This is a second chance at love story. While Mack and Frankie were never romantically involved before, they were best friends...and the emotions were there, just not the opportunity since Mack had a very serious girlfriend at the time. A girlfriend that meant he left Frankie behind. 

Now Mack is back in Frankie's life. The girlfriend is still there, too, but now simply as Mack's kid's mom...yeah...ouch. But now Frankie has a boyfriend, a man she lives with and respects and loves. She can't get involved with Mack, no matter how much he pursues her. Because yeah...Mack has finally realized that he made a huge mistake leaving Frankie behind and is out to get her back. 

Oh, and minor complication...Frankie is Mack's little boy's teacher. A little boy who already has enough stress in his life. 

This story had all the feels. I started it and immediately was immersed in the story and didn't ever want to push stop on my audiobook. The alternating narrators/pov's was perfect, and the story was incredible. I hated that Frankie and Mack got pushed to this point and wasted so much time, but wow...I loved getting to watch them sort out their lives. It was a great story, an even better audiobook. I highly recommend it!