Tuesday, August 22, 2017

You Say It First by Susan Mallery

Title: You Say It First
Author: Susan Mallery
My Rating: A

Genre: Contemporary Romance 
Series: Happily Inc #1
Main Characters: Nick and Pallas
Release Date: August 2017
Publisher: Harlequin
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
The #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Fool's Gold romances invites you to visit Happily Inc., a wedding destination founded on a fairy tale 

Sculptor Nick Mitchell grew up in a family of artists and learned from his volatile father that passion only leads to pain. As he waits on a new commission, he takes a day job as a humble carpenter at a theme wedding venue. The job has its perks—mainly the venue's captivating owner, Pallas Saunders. Although he won't let love consume him, for ecstasy with an expiration date, he's all in. 

Pallas adores Weddings in a Box. But if she can't turn the floundering business around, she'll have no choice but cave to her domineering mother and trade taffeta for trust funds working at the family's bank. Then when a desperate bride begs Pallas for something completely out of the box, her irresistible new hire inspires her. Nick knows she doesn't belong behind a desk, and she knows in her heart that he's right—where she really belongs is in his arms.
My Review:
It's official...I think I'm going to like this series. This is the first of the Happily, Inc series...a spin-off from the Fool's Gold series. And it features a hero we know from that series. Nick is the chainsaw wielding artist who was the harassed son of the famous artist we knew in Fools Gold. I was so happy when I realized this book was about Nick and that the next two are about the twins. All three of them have gotten such a rotten deal with their father. I can't wait to read all of their stories. 

But anyway, back to Nick. He's only in Happily Inc temporarily as he fully expects to get awarded a big artistic install overseas which will pull him out of the states for 2 years. He's in a kind of limbo and looking for something to do. So, he answers Pallas' ad for a part-time carpenter and finds himself swept into the crazy world of making weddings.

Pallas is an interesting character and she has a great growth arc in the story. She's spent her life brow-beaten by her controlling mother. That backfired for her mom when one of her 'punishments' sent Pallas to having to work at Weddings in a Box, a business that she eventually inherited. Planning weddings was NOT what Pallas' mom had planned for her and she lets Pallas know that at every turn as she bullies and threatens. Needless to say, Pallas' mom is a shrew. I LOVED it when her mother and Nick got together, because Nick is an amazing guy. 

This story was fun and entertaining and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Fans of Ms. Mallery's Fools Gold series are going to be pleasantly surprised. Happily Inc is a different town, but it has some interesting traditions and quirky individuals that feel like going home. I liked it. 

I love the premise of this whole series. It's based on a town that's made weddings it's bread and butter, but the cast of characters are all really creative, artistic, and wonderfully good at thinking out of the box. I think it's going to be a fabulous and entertaining series to read...just for the weddings alone. But in true Susan Mallery fashion, she's created some epic characters, too. I dare you to read this book and not fall in love with the eclectic cast of characters and venues. 

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

Ready to Run by Lauren Layne

Title: Ready to Run
Author: Lauren Layne
My Rating: A

Genre: Contemporary Romance 
Series: I Do, I Don't #1
Main Characters: Jordan and Luke
Release Date: August 2017
Publisher: Loveswept
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
The Bachelor meets The Runaway Bride in this addictive romance novel about a reality TV producer falling for her would-be star: a Montana heartthrob who wants nothing to do with the show.

Jordan Carpenter thinks she’s finally found the perfect candidate for Jilted, a new dating show about runaway grooms: Luke Elliott, a playboy firefighter who’s left not one but three brides at the altar. The only problem? Luke refuses to answer Jordan’s emails or return her calls. Which is how she ends up on a flight to Montana to recruit him in person. It’s not Manhattan but at least the locals in Lucky Hollow seem friendly . . . except for Luke, who’s more intense—and way hotter—than the slick womanizer Jordan expected.

Eager to put the past behind him, Luke has zero intention of following this gorgeous, fast-talking city girl back to New York. But before he can send her packing, Jordan’s everywhere: at his favorite bar, the county fair, even his exes’ book club. Annoyingly, everyone in Lucky Hollow seems to like her—and deep down, she’s starting to grow on him too. But the more he fights her constant pestering, the more Luke finds himself wishing that Jordan would kick off her high heels and make herself comfortable in his arms.
 


My Review:
What a great premise for a series. I love the idea that Luke is some jerk who's left three women at the altar...but then as the story develops, Jordan finds out there's so much more to this guy's story with all three women. There is a lot of backstory to this one and each piece was VERY slowly unveiled. But the biggest revelation of all was Jordan's real back story. Wow!

I loved it. From the small town to the many, many characters. Every single one of them...I fell in love with. It's a great, well-rounded, extremely entertaining story. LOVED IT!

Oh, and that's just the basics...we also have the fact that Luke is a firefighter, lives in the perfect house on a lake, has a dog and a rescued cat, and all of his ex's are still his friends. He's truly the perfect guy which is why Jordan is so sure he'll be perfect for her show, Jilted. Luke doesn't want to have anything to do with the TV show or why Jordan is there, but he's extremely attracted to her...just fighting that attraction. He will not get involved with someone who just wants to use him. 

The other thing that was perfection about this story was the way that Jordan fits into this small town. I didn't realize the full story of why that was, and was so surprised at that aspect of the story, but it added so much to her story. Wow. 

It's never been a secret that I love Lauren Layne's books. While this one has a bit of a different feel (she's gone country this time instead of having the corporate, city setting), I loved it so much. It was just a fabulous story. I can't wait for more in the series. 

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

Monday, August 21, 2017

Suspicious Behavior by L.A. Witt and Cari Z

Title: Suspicious Behavior
Author: L.A. Witt and Cari Z
My Rating: A

Genre: Romantic Suspense (m/m)
Series: Bad Behavior #2
Main Characters: Darren and Andreas
Release Date: August 2017
Publisher:  Riptide Publishing
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: spicy


Story Overview:
Detective Darren Corliss is hanging by a thread. In between recovering from a near-fatal wound and returning to work at a hostile precinct, he’s struggling to help care for his ailing brother. His partner and boyfriend, Detective Andreas Ruffner, wants to help, but doesn’t know how. And with his own family crises brewing, Andreas is spread almost as thin as Darren.

For cops, though, life takes a backseat to the job. When a stack of unsolved homicides drops into their laps, Andreas and Darren think they’re unrelated cold cases. But when a connection surfaces, they find themselves on the tail of a prolific serial killer who’s about to strike again.

Except they’ve got nothing. No leads. No suspects. Just a pile of circumstantial evidence and a whole lot of hunches. Time is running out to stop the next murder—and to pull themselves back from their breaking points.

My Review:
I really enjoyed the first book in this series, but omg, I ADORED this installment. It was so good. 

Note: This is a series (at least 3 books, although this is book #2) that builds on the previous story. To get the full effect of what is happening to these two men, you really should read the first book before reading this one. 

Okay... so, this book picks up about where the last book ended. Darren is better and both him and Andreas are back to work...with a police force that believes they've turned traitor because they exposed the shady cops (and there were a lot of them). No one trusts them. No one likes them. And the harassment is never-ending. Nothing like working a serial murder case and knowing no one besides your partner has your back if things go wrong...and with a serial murderer there are a LOT of lives on the line.

So, things are a bit stressful. 

On top of that, they are both having family issues. Darren's brother, Asher, is devastating. At 35, he has early-onset Alzheimers and has had to be put into a home because he's becoming combatant. OMG, this story line kills me. My heart just HURTS. He's only 35, was a talented lawyer...and it's all just gone. The emotions that the authors infuse into the story through this story line...wow, it's hard. So, yeah, Darren is having real issues with that. He and his brother have always been close. But Andreas is having issues too. His daughter is working as an intern at the police station and she's hearing rumors about things he hasn't revealed to her. Then there's the ex who's having problems, too. 

These guys seriously can't catch a break. They're exhausted...both mentally and physically. Their relationship was just really getting off the ground when everything fell apart. Then Darren almost died and is still physically recovering from that. They're close, but have never had the opportunities that they need to deepen their really strong relationship. It makes for an interesting dichotomy...that really works for me. (And as someone that has read most of L.A. Witt's books, this lack of any real sex is surprising...BUT it works. Don't let me scare you...these guys are close and want it to happen, but life...)

This series is so, so good! I'm truly loving it so much. I cannot wait until the next book comes out. I'm thinking this is one I'm gonna have to get in print. LOVE IT and highly recommend it!

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

The Druid Next Door by E.J. Russell

Title: The Druid Next Door
Author: E.J. Russell
My Rating: A-

Genre: Paranormal Romance (m/m)
Series: Fae Out of Water #2
Main Characters: Bryce and Mal
Release Date: August 2017
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
Professor Bryce MacLeod has devoted his entire life to environmentalism. But how effective can he be in saving the planet when he can’t even get his surly neighbor to separate his recycling?

Former Queen’s Enforcer Mal Kendrick doesn’t think his life could get any worse: he’s been exiled from Faerie with a cursed and useless right hand. When he’s not dodging random fae assassins in the Outer World, he’s going toe-to-toe with his tree-hugging neighbor. And when he discovers that the tree-hugger is really a druid, he’s certain the gods have it in for him—after all, there’s always a catch with druids. Then he’s magically shackled to the man and expected to instruct him in Supernatural 101.

All right, now things couldn’t possibly get worse.

Until a mysterious stranger offers a drunken Mal the chance to gain back all he’s lost—for a price. After Mal accepts, he discovers the real catch: an ancient secret that will change his and Bryce’s life forever.

Ah, what the hells. Odds are they won’t survive the week anyway.


My Review:
I'm really enjoying this series and I think that this book was even slightly better than the first book in the series. The series is about 3 brothers, who are all Fae royalty/members of court. In the last book, Mal (the hero of this story) who is a protector and swordsman was cursed for saving his brother's life and maiming the Fae Queen's consort. His punishment...he has no feeling in his right hand. In this book, it's just been a few weeks and he still hasn't adjusted to life with a dead limb. He's also been cast out of the fae world and is having to make his way in the human world, in the house his new brother in law found for him.

That house happens to be next door to environmentalist and professor, Bryce. Bryce is nerdy and geeky and awkward and more than a little obsessed with the status of the wetlands that he's trying to preserve at the edge of their environmental suburb. He's human and has no idea about anything supernatural...until Mal falls into his world and life. Then Bryce is finding out about all sorts of realities that were totally beyond him just a few days before. 

I liked this pairing a lot. In fact, the whole story just worked for me. There's a whole suspense/subterfuge happening behind the scenes and I loved that Bryce is really smart about it all. He doesn't just take Mal at face value even though Mal is supposedly the expert on all things supernatural. Also there's a great little twist that has the two men tied together throughout the story that I just really enjoyed. It made everything about the story more acceptable and believable. 

I liked it. Gareth's story is next...the bard. All the brothers have tortured aspects to their personalities, but he's the most angst-filled on paper. It will be interesting to see how his story plays out. I can't wait. This is a fun paranormal series...and no worries, you can read each story as a stand-alone. You won't be confused at all, even with this new paranormal world. The author does a good job of giving you all the basics you need.

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

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Until You by T.J. Klune (audiobook)

Title:  Until You
Author: T.J. Klune
My Rating: A
Narrator: Michael Lesley

Genre: Contemporary Romance (m/m)
Series: At First Sight #3
Main Characters: Kit and Micah
Release Date: May 2017 (audiobook)
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: mild

Story Overview:
5 hrs 4 mins

Together with their families and friends

Paul Auster

and

Vincent Taylor

request the honor of your company at the celebration of their marriage.

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

This is a series where you need to read all the books. The good news is that all the books are amazingly funny and entertaining and once you start, you won't want to stop. This group of characters are just as funny, if not funnier, than they were in the original story. This was a great addition and it set up for a great next novel...YES, Corey/Cori. And I'll have to admit, I wasn't sure about the whole "vows" bet, but it turned out to be brilliant in the end. 

Ridiculously fun. I challenge you not to laugh out loud while listening to it. And once again, Michael Lesley stepped up and was brilliant. I loved this mini-installment.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Cover Reveal: Crazy Love by KB Jacobs


Cover designer: Amanda Matthews (AM Design Studios) 

Crazy Love

Kali:
My name means chaos. My mother must have had a premonition when she named me, because my life has been far from normal. No one realizes the truth about me. But he sees more than he should...

Ten:
Can a person have a mid-life crisis at twenty-three? Because I’m pretty sure I’m having one. This wasn’t the life I dreamed about. I settled. And now I’m questioning everything, most especially the conundrum who runs the bookstore. She wears sweater cardigans, but every once in a while I see a flash of ink.

I’m ready to rebel, and I’m thinking she might be the perfect partner to join me. If I can get her to stop arguing long enough to see the real me...

Book #1 in the Bookstore Love series.




*****
And to celebrate our cover reveal, we have an extra little surprise for you. 

Book #1 in the Naked Brews series, 
Deliciously Smooth is FREE!
(TODAY ONLY!)




KB Jacobs is the pen name for two fabulous, best-selling authors. Obsessed with the 3 B’s...books, brews, and bodies...specifically male ones with a ladder of abs leading down to the treasure trail…

Ahem, sorry, we digress.

These two authors decided to pool their obsessions and discovered a whole new destination to whet their imaginations. Welcome to Naked Brews, one amazing microbrewery set in the middle of the Rockies, run by three women, who much like our authors, know what they want...those 3 B’s again. Side eyes the men...oh, yeah, they have very nice obsessions.


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Worth Waiting For by Wendy Qualls

Title: Worth Waiting For
Author: Wendy Qualls
My Rating: B-

Genre: Contemporary Romance (m/m)
Series: Heart of the South #1
Main Characters: Paul and Brandon
Release Date: August 2017
Publisher: Lyrical Shine
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
A small-town in the Deep South isn’t where most gay men would choose to go looking for love. But open hearts will find a way…

Growing up in the Bible Belt, Paul Dunham learned from a young age to hide his sexuality. Now he’s teaching psychology at a conservative college in Georgia—and still hiding who he really is. If Paul hopes to get tenure, he needs to keep his desires on the down-low. But when an old college crush shows up on campus—looking more gorgeous than ever—Paul’s long-suppressed urges are just too big for one little closet to hold . . .

Brandon Mercer has come a long way since his freshman year fumbling's with Paul. Now he’s confident, accomplished, proudly out—and the sexiest IT consultant Paul’s ever seen. When Brandon asks Paul to grab some coffee and catch up, it leads to a steamy reunion that puts their first night of passion to shame. But when Paul’s longtime crush turns into a full-time romance, he receives an anonymous email threatening to expose their secret to the world. If Paul stays with Brandon, his teaching career is over. Yet if he caves under pressure, he risks losing the one true love he’s been


My Review:
The hard thing about writing book reviews is figuring out why sometimes a book works for you and sometimes it doesn't. This was a book that didn't work for me. I'll be honest...I almost DNF'ed it several times in the last 25% of the book, but by that time, I'd already put in so much time to reading it. 

But the question is...why didn't it work for me. I think the answer is this...the main hero, Paul. This book is told entirely from Paul's point of view and Paul is really not that great of a character. It's hard to feel empathy for him when his goal is to lie about his sexuality for the rest of his life, then lie to a woman and marry her under false pretenses. That was his plan pretty much all the way through the book...and it's hard to like a guy who'd be willing to be such a jerk. Seriously. 

BUT the whole setup of the book is a good one. I think if the author had taken half the points of view and given them to Brandon, who is a MUCH more likable character that I could empathize with, I think this would have had a much better rating. 

As it is, though...I just didn't care. I didn't care whether Paul got his HEA or not. Honestly, Brandon deserved someone better. 

But there are moments when the story was good and that kept me reading...and those moments were times when Brandon controlled what was happening in their lives. The trip to Atlanta, showing Paul how life could be was a great sequence of scenes. 

There's also a bit of a mystery story line that had the potential to really drive the story, but then it almost became a side story that fell kind of flat. 

Potential...this book had it. It just didn't live up to the possibilities, and I'm really sorry about that because I really wanted to enjoy this story.

(The cover is gorgeous.)

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