Fix Her Up by Carey Heywood

Blurb:
34229481Fall in love with this hot and hilarious new romantic comedy from New York Times Bestselling author Carey Heywood!

Finley Reeves is the queen of bad mistakes. Fresh off a bad divorce, she decides to rebuild her life from the ground up – starting with a fixer-upper that’s got more leaks than the Titanic. Deciding to tackle this project alone might be her biggest mistake of all…. That is, until Noah Thompson shows up at her front door like a knight in a shining tool belt and makes her an offer she’d be crazy to refuse.

Noah’s sexy, rugged, and good with his hands, but Finley swears she doesn’t need his help – in the basement, or in the bedroom. Can this unlikely couple build a future together? Or will this be one fixer-upper that is better off left alone?

(A fun and sexy Contemporary Romance, ages 17+)

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My Review:
3.5 stars — I received a free copy in exchange for an honest and unbiased review/opinion.

This was just a good old fashioned adorable romance.  If you want a romance that’s gonna leave you feeling happy and basically like the world is awesome, then this is the book for you!  I LOVED Noah and Finley’s love story.  It was just cute, and fairly uncomplicated, and sometimes that’s just what you need, you know?  It’s not that they didn’t have a few pitfalls here and there, but they were pretty minor, so it was mostly just a feel-good read.

I loved how strong and motivated Finley was.  She really had something to prove to herself, and I think she accomplished that.  And seeing her tackle all those projects just screamed girl power!  I loved that she was wary of Noah’s offer of help too, it fit with her character, and come on…it does seem a bit too good to be true, you know?  I will admit that near the end I was growing a bit tired of her continual skepticism of Noah, not that I don’t think it could happen based on what she went through, but I think I needed a bit more diving into her past in order to make me really feel how slowly she was to warm up and trust.

Noah was just all around goodness.  Maybe a bit too good to be true, but honestly I’m not complaining.  And I loved that there really wasn’t anything hugely wrong with him, he didn’t have any hang ups, it really honestly was a case of him not meeting the right girl before Finley.  He was gentle and kind, but forceful when necessary.  He was supportive of Finley, and it just came naturally to him.  I loved the complicated relationships he had with his siblings, it wasn’t all sunshine and roses, but you could still feel the love.

And I really loved how slowly the relationship progressed.  Not that there wasn’t a part of me that was impatient for a kiss or for something more, but the other side of me was so happy to see them developing the friendship first, it made me really believe in the pace their relationship developed.  And when we finally got to the steamy scenes, they were so satisfying and worth the wait!  Occasionally I wanted to see a bit more of their conversations and connection beyond the renovations, it felt like that got skipped over at times in the time jumps, but it wasn’t enough to make me unhappy with it.

Obviously great side characters.  I loved both sets of parents, they were quirky but very loving.  And I’m so hoping that this series is going to follow all the Thompson siblings, b/c I’ve fallen in love with most of them.  If I’m right, then I’m especially looking forward to Asher’s story and Abby’s story.

All in all a great straightforward read!  Honestly, the only thing holding it off a full 4 stars is me wanting a bit more depth in both characters, but I’m greedy like that.

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Never Let You Go by Katy Regnery

Blurb:
25653505Regret, betrayal, kidnapping, loss, madness, abuse, passion, love.

In this modern retelling of Hansel and Gretel, thirteen-year-old foster children Griselda and Holden escape from their abductor after three years of brutal captivity, and try to cross the Shenandoah River on foot. Tragically, one of them makes it to safety, but the other is left behind.

Ten years later, Griselda’s boyfriend drags her to a fight club grudge match, and her world is turned upside down when she watches Holden step into the ring.

Though the connection between them is fierce, bitter regret, simmering rage, and a tangle of physical and emotional scars lie between them, just as dangerous as the white water of the Shenandoah.

Never Let You Go is a story of fear and hope, defeat and survival, and two people–once profoundly broken–who discover that love is the only thing that can make them whole again.

***

This is a standalone novel inspired by Hansel and Gretel.

New Adult Contemporary Romance: Due to profanity, scenes of physical abuse and very strong sexual content, this book is not intended for readers under the age of 18. (Note: Children are not sexually abused in this book.)

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My Review:
4.5 stars — OK, I adore this author, so much so that I flew across the country to meet her this past weekend at an author signing, hence why I was trying to read her books beforehand.  But as yet that love had only been concentrated on her Blueberry Lane series.  I hadn’t been enthralled by the previous two Modern Fairytale stories I’d read of hers, despite the rave reviews — which bummed me out big time.  But in all honesty, when I initially bought these ebooks a few years ago, this is the story that grabbed my attention the most.  I’m not sure if it’s the tragedy of it all, the horror of a kidnapping, or just the uniqueness of doing a spin on the Hansel and Gretel fairytale (which you have to admit, does NOT get retold very often), but I was drawn to this story.  So to say that I was relieved that I fell in love with it is kind of an understatement.  I know it’s probably silly to put so much thought and angst into loving every story by an author, b/c even with my all time favourite authors I haven’t loved EVERY story, but I really loved the concept of contemporary fairytale retellings, so I *WANTED* to love these stories.  AND FINALLY I found my match!!

So after that long winded introduction, what did I fall in love with?  Oh it’s all Holden and Griselda.  From the many flashbacks, both good memories and nightmares, to the truly long and arduous journey to their HEA.  I’m not a huge fan of HIGH angst, and I wouldn’t say this is HIGH, but it is higher…  But there was just something about their obvious connection and love for each other that kept drawing me back in over and over again, cringing every time they hit a setback, and praying that their HEA was just around the corner.

I even understood all of their emotional turmoil, like Gris’s inability to trust the people she loves not to leave her, and her attempts to isolate herself.  And Holden sort of isolated himself as well, but in a bit of a different way.  In all honesty, they both behaved badly at times to those around them, but I forgave them for it because of all they went through.  And they both grew and changed and made really good choices in the end.

And come on, Holden was extremely swoonworthy.  I can’t even tell you how many times he made me rip my heart out and offer it to him on a silver platter.  He was that intriguing mix of sexy aggressive protective boy with this wounded puppy who just wants to be loved, his devotion to Gris was just unmatched.  And I felt like his stammer added something to his character and their experiences.

I loved the emotions that this book wrung out of me.  The desperation, the grief, the despair, the way they would latch on to each other.  OMG, I was just totally all in.  And I loved that we got periods of bliss throughout, so that it wasn’t all hardship over and over again.  We really got to see their relationship change and grow depending on what was going on in their lives.  I even loved the few sideplot loose ends that got tied up, that was an unexpected bonus.

So yeah, not my best review…that’s what happens when I read a book on holidays.  Not only do I have less time to read, so it takes me a few days to get through a book, but then I also find it hard to pin down my thoughts to more specifics, instead of just “I LOVED IT!”  I did find that the book dragged in places, but because of not being able to devote time to the book, I wasn’t sure if that was actually the case or more the circumstances of my reading.  Ah well, you get what you get and you don’t get upset.  H+G Forever baby.

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Hook by Elisabeth Grace

Blurb:
29379163From USA Today Bestselling Author, Elisabeth Grace, comes her most suspenseful, sexy, and thrilling book yet!

Women loathed me without even knowing my name. Men coveted the very idea of me.

Escort. Call girl. Prostitute. Hooker. Wh*re.

I’d heard it all. Done it all.

Over the years I’d felt a lot of things about my occupation…but not regret–never regret. I had my reasons for doing what I did and nothing and no one had ever made me question them.

UNTIL MARCO VALENTI.

He’d changed me and I’d naively fed into the fairy tale.

But Marco wasn’t my Prince Charming. He had secrets of his own. Secrets that would eventually rip away everything I held dear.

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My Review:
3.5 stars — OK, so I will admit that I tend to shy away from mob/mafia feeling books, and with a name like Marco Valenti and a guy with secrets, I had a hunch something like that would appear.  It’s the same as I shy away from Motorcycle Club books, I just have a hard time falling in love with a hero who does questionable things.  But the hooker part intrigued me.  And since the author is going to be at a signing event I’m attending, and gave away this book for free, I figured I’d give it a shot.  And I must say, I was actually pleasantly surprised for the first more than half!!

For one, it was nice to have a woman in a questionable profession who isn’t some virginal girl, but who owns the choices she’s made to get where she’s at.  And who doesn’t regret them.  And when you learn why she’s chosen this path for her life, I could buy it.  A son with MD can NOT be an easy financial burden, especially as a young single mother.  And I think that’s particularly where our heroine shines, in her love for her son Daniel.  I really felt her love for him, her worry, and you could see the different choices she was making to truly give him the best life possible.  And I LOVED that she had goals outside of that too.  Like, with the amount of money she was making, she could have just coasted, but she was going to school, and she had dreams of something more.  It really made her a more interesting and 3 dimensional character.  That caught me by surprise, and I was impressed with that.

Marco was a bit harder to love, but I also didn’t hate him.  He had some spectacular moments (such as how he handles Daniel), and I loved how forceful he was about reminding our heroine that she is not just her profession.  I thought the balance was good.  He could be a bit…emotionally volatile?  Or something.  That wasn’t really a turn on for me.  But he had lots of sweet moments as well.

Honestly, I almost rated this one a full 4 stars because I really enjoyed the first part, even despite some reservations…  But I started to get a bit impatient/bored near the end of the book, b/c I had forgotten that it was a duet, and so I was wondering when we were going to get some resolution.  Answer?  We weren’t.  Cliffhanger.  Which is fine.  It was my fault for forgetting.  And so it just lost a bit of the good steam it had going.

So what were my reservations?  Well, what exactly drew Marco to her in the first place?  He was quite infatuated.  That was mitigated in that at least we got to see them get to know each other, so I could accept the development of the relationship past that point.  The name thing was a bit weird too…it went on longer than I was anticipating.  And it did pull a few things directly from Pretty Woman, which I didn’t feel like it had to be so close (the kissing thing, the opera).

And then we get to the ending.  Well, I’m a bit of a skeptical girl, so I don’t buy it all.  It felt a bit like a cheap play on emotions.  And I REALLY don’t like where that takes our heroine and hero.  In fact, the ending didn’t make me super keen on continuing on (despite the fact that having a cliffhanger is supposed to do the exact opposite).  So I read a few bad reviews for the next book, and I know darned well that my personal tastes are going to run towards that end of the spectrum, so I think I’ll just leave it at this.  Once that decision was made, I read some spoilers so I could at least have a question answered.  No regrets.  Enjoyable book, just not quite in my wheelhouse enough to continue on.

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The Prince & The Player by Tia Louise

Blurb:
34305655Let the games begin…

Runaway Zelda Wilder will do whatever it takes to secure a better life for her and her sister Ava. Crown Prince Rowan Westringham Tate will do whatever it takes to preserve his small country.

“Playboy Prince” MacCallum Lockwood Tate will do whatever it takes to steal Zelda’s heart…

When Zee is blackmailed into humiliating the brooding future king, she never expects to be pulled into a web of international intrigue–or to fall for Rowan’s naughty younger brother Cal.

Cal is determined to capture the sexy player, but Zelda is in over her head with very dangerous men. Time is running out, and it may be too late for the prince to save this player.

Cinderella meets Ocean’s Eleven in this CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE featuring secrets, lies, royal high jinks, scams and double-crosses; breathless, swooning lust, cocky princes, dominant alpha future-kings, and crafty courtiers, who are not always what they seem.

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My Review:
3.5 stars — This one started a bit slower for me, I was enjoying it, but it wasn’t blowing me away.  It ended with a blast though!  It just sped right up and kind of overwhelmed me!  But strangely, even though it ends on a cliffhanger, I haven’t decided if I’ll continue.  Probably not.  While I thought the plot/action was very intriguing, I wasn’t completely sold on the romance and characters, which are kind of the things that most draw me into a story.

I had a few problems with the romance, and I think one of those problems stems from the fact that there are TWO love stories in this book, and that while it is dual POV, we get to read from the heroine of ONE COUPLE and the hero of the OTHER COUPLE.  Which is kind of cool and unique, but ultimately not satisfying for me.  Basically I didn’t really get to focus on either couple well enough, and since I didn’t get to see both sides of each love, I didn’t really buy into the emotions necessarily.  Obviously some romances are written in single POV, so you don’t need to see both sides to buy a love, but then the author really needs to show me what the other half is feeling through our POVs eyes, kwim?  Does that make sense?  And I really did not get a feel for what Cal or Ava were feeling…  Ava maybe a bit moreso, but honestly I felt like I didn’t really get much from that love story at all, it felt more pushed to the background.  So it kind of felt unnecessary.

And BOTH couples suffered from a lot of lust that didn’t transform into love for me at all.  I guess Ms. Louise was trying to go for insta-love or something, and I definitely felt the lust, but I have NO IDEA what drew them to each other (BOTH COUPLES) other than physical attraction.  I guess I don’t mind that quite as much if we get that development later in the relationship, like I’ll give it a pass.  But I NEVER really got a feel for what they were so infatuated with wrt their partner, besides the physical attraction.  I really needed more emotion.  Maybe it’s because the love story I felt I got more of was Zee and Cal, and he was just so blunt and dirty talking and kind of forceful, that I didn’t understand what made Zee different to him than the others.

And I guess that’s the other thing.  While I didn’t dislike any of the main characters, I also did not fall in love with any of them.  They were all ok, but maybe because the narrative was split between 4 main characters, I never really got a lot of development of any of them.  And I must say that they all acted a lot younger than their ages.  The girls felt like teenagers (particularly Ava, who is supposed to be 21), and the boys felt like college age.  *shrugs*  Which, some people really do behave that way at those ages, but I don’t understand why in their particular case.

And while I felt like Zee was a bit naive with Reggie, I did end up enjoying the suspense and action that the book ended with.  I was on the edge of my seat wanting to see how it was going to play out.

So yeah.  Not a bad book, just didn’t have enough of what *I* personally enjoy the most in my favourite books to keep me captivated.  Oh well, not every book is a match for every reader.

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Perfectly Imperfect by Harper Sloan

Blurb:
27512229Mirror, mirror … who’s the fairest of them all?

I still cringe when I hear that line. A fairy tale that had girls pretending they were the fairest, the most beautiful, and the most entitled. A fairy tale most couldn’t grow out of turned my haunted childhood memories into a living nightmare. Girls who grew up believing that pile of garbage became the meanest of all ‘mean girls.’

And those mean girls were right – it was a line meant for all the beautiful people in the world – and I knew the answer would never be me.

The women with long legs, flat stomachs, and perfect chests.

The type of women Kane Masters gravitated toward.

Well, that’s definitely not Willow Tate.

No. That will never be me.

Because I’m completely imperfect.

And … I hate myself.

I have no idea what Kane could possibly see in someone like me when he could have them.

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My Review:
2.5 stars — So I should have DNFd this one.  Honestly, when I started reading the first chapter, I was a little bit put off by the style.  Not to be rude, but I got a little bit bored.  There was just a lot of the story taking place in the characters heads.  I forged ahead, b/c the premise of the story really intrigued me, and I wanted to know where it was going to go.  And there were little glimmers of things that I enjoyed, so you hold out hope that those parts will take over the story somehow.  But they didn’t.  By 60% I honestly contemplated DNFing, but by that point I wanted to know the mystery of Mia and Kane (even though I had my theories, and those actually came pretty close to the truth).  So I finished it.  But I will say, if you read the sample, and you’re reading the first chapter and you’re not really feeling it, then it might not be the book for you either.

Basically, as I told my husband, it was just too many words.  WORDS WORDS WORDS.  Talking and talking.  *sigh*  And if it wasn’t that, then it was sex.  But damn, I was excited after the first kiss (because that was hot), but then we got to the first more steamy scene, and even that got interrupted by words.  *heavy dramatic sigh*  I started trying to skim (which I’m terrible at).  I need more plot I guess.

As for our characters, they weren’t terrible, but I wasn’t enthralled either.  I could see good things, but I didn’t really get to feel their growth.  Willow talked and talked and talked about her changing and growing, but I didn’t get to see that growth happen in actions.  And I’m not saying that I didn’t love the scene where she went back to Logan Agencies, that was awesome.  But it was like one minute she has an eating disorder and hates herself, and then some conversation with Kane and then a month later she’s stronger.  That wasn’t satisfying for me, and it didn’t allow me to buy into the growth you know?  Kind of telling instead of showing I guess.

And then there’s Kane.  Yeah, he could be hot sometimes and sweet, but all the what is essentially soul mate talk just had me dibsing out.  It was over the top dramatic and kind of sappy.  Or maybe I’m just cynical, but I got tired of all that too.  (I didn’t even swoon over the epilogue, I rolled my eyes…so much cynicism in this girl apparently)

And then we get to their decisions about the scandal.  I can’t go into it, but I don’t understand how what they decided to do was any better for the situation, it just felt like unnecessary martyrdom.

And finally, if you’re the kind of person who gets annoyed by bad editing (in the proofreading sense), then unless it’s been changed since I bought it last year, this one is NOT proofed well.  So many sentences had mistakes and it made for a jarring read.

OH!  But I will give a huge nod to Kirby, Eddie, and even Kole.  Some funny moments with all of those secondary characters.  They’ve convinced me to round up.

So yeah.  This one wasn’t for me.  I had kind of higher expectations, which probably didn’t help.  Oh well.  One less author for me to visit at my upcoming signings.

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It Had to Be You by Lizzy Charles

Blurb:
34995954James Parson has a problem. His military dad is going to yank him out of his expensive boarding school if James doesn’t prove he’s no longer hooking up, pulling pranks, and charming his way out of consequences. What better way to show he’s now responsible than becoming the committed boyfriend of a U.S. diplomat’s daughter?

Level-headed, book-smart Edelweiss may have traveled the world thanks to her dad’s job, but when it comes to friends and boys, she knows exactly nothing. Newly enrolled in boarding school, Edel is now on a mission to learn it all. James says he’ll help her experience the ultimate high school life—if she’ll be his fake girlfriend. And fake is perfect, because he’s exactly the kind of player she’d never date.

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book contains red-hot romance, all the feels, and a soul-mate bad boy.

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My Review:
4 stars — I received a free copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased review/opinion.

I will wholeheartedly admit that there were a few things in this book that on another book would probably have bothered me more, but I just couldn’t help but devour this book and end it with a big smile on my face.  And I think that’s because there were just that many things to love, and that I got enough pleasant surprises that it made me gloss over the things that usually annoy me.

So let’s get the lamesauce stuff out of the way.  The niggles:
a) Lack of communication.  Yeah, there was some of that, but it didn’t bother me quite as much for some reason, maybe because I was getting other stuff from the romance, and it didn’t last like the whole book?  But it did bother me a little…it’s frustrating when assumptions are made on both sides and that’s what prevents the couple from getting together.
b) Over the top evil/witchy with a b girl.  Emma was seriously over the top.  I’m not a fan of that.  I didn’t even see any depth in her to explain why she was that way, she was just a straight up mean girl.  I guess those girls exist in real life, but I’m kind of tired of that.
c) The situation with Emma became a bit implausible, and I’m not sure I enjoyed how that all played out and was handled.
d) A few little things were dropped or not followed up with how I expected.  Like we’d suddenly be a week later, and I kind of wanted to know how things developed in between time (like after the hair, or even right after they agree to fake date).
e) Some of the twists felt a bit convenient, especially since we’d find them out at convenient times as the story went on (Julie, some of the Ainsley stuff including the Foster Mom).

OK!  That’s done!  I know that seems like a lot, but please remember they were little niggles that only slightly detracted from the awesome.  So what was the awesome?  Great characters that surprised me at different turns!  I enjoyed the fact that James wasn’t a horrible bad boy, but more of a guy who made some poor choices, or got pulled into the “need to impress” that many teenagers feel in high school.  He was seriously so much deeper than I had been anticipating.  I LOVED that we got to see how his family life affected him (having a military father, no mother), how his race affected him, how being biracial with a white father affected him.  I appreciated those little touches and that they weren’t glossed over.  I loved that we got to see real emotion in him, particularly wrt his father.  I loved that he made some monumental mistakes, which I know sounds weird, but I loved that he owned up to them and tried to make amends.  I loved that he really was genuinely trying to change.  I LOVED that he was a literature nerd, I would have enjoyed even more from that.  Basically he really impressed me with how much we got from him in just a short novel.

Then there’s Edel.  Not to be left out, Edel was pretty well rounded as well!  I enjoyed her unique situation, and how her life growing up shaped her, and how she desired normal teenager experiences.  I loved that she was pretty naive, it really fit with what I expected from her.  But she was also brave and strong at times too, and I thought she grew as the book went on.  She had typical teenage girl feelings, and they still existed right to the end.  I loved that we got to see bits of her relationship with her parents.  And she also made mistakes, one big one in particular.  I did enjoy how she stepped up and did the right thing eventually, and didn’t shy away from it.

And the two of them together were super adorable.  I LOVED the tummy tingles I got just from the hand holding.  And I loved the way they stuck up for one another, particularly how Edel championed James.

I also really enjoyed the secondary characters, though I wouldn’t have minded a bit more.  But I wonder if we didn’t get more because this is going to be a series and we’ll eventually get their own stories?  I sincerely hope so.

So yeah.  May have had a few pitfalls, but the good just made me so happy that it was a success!!

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Tanner by Sarah Mayberry

Blurb:
34682642He’s used to risking it all in the ring, but nothing prepared him for love…

After flying half-way around the world to surprise her boyfriend, Evie Forrester finds herself heartbroken and stranded in a strange city. What could be a total disaster becomes something else when a tall, dark bull rider turns out to be a white knight in disguise. Evie isn’t sure she needs saving, but Tanner Harding is a difficult man to deny. He’s even harder to resist…

Tanner Harding can tame a monster bull with ease, but he never expected to be floored by someone like Evie. Sparks fly between them until injury threatens to end Tanner’s career –and suddenly he’s the one in need of a rescue.

Evie can’t turn her back on her wounded hero and, as Tanner struggles with his recovery, she’s not sure she can guard her heart against him either. Tanner knows Evie has slipped under his skin, but she lives in Australia and his future is under a cloud. Can two people with too many reasons to walk away make the bold decision to stay?

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My Review:
4 stars — I received a free copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased review/opinion.

I have made it no secret that I am a huge Sarah Mayberry fan.  Back when I was reading Harlequins like they were going out of style, I found her to be a refreshing voice full of humour and sass, and always unique characters and situations.  And I’ve read a few of her books outside of the Harlequins (she’s had a few with Tule publishing), and she always just feeds my happy romance reader heart.

I was worried that I wasn’t going to fall in love with Evie at the beginning of the book.  She just struck me as really naive, and I couldn’t help but groan at the decision she had made and how she couldn’t see how it was going to end up, you know?  But somewhere along the way, Ms. Mayberry made me love her anyways.  I can’t say I completely understand why she decided on the surprise trip, but I can accept it I guess, you know?  I was OK with what we got from the fallout of that decision (how she dealt with it), and surprisingly didn’t end up hating Troy (the boyfriend).  I kind of feel like that’s a miracle.  And the way that all went down helped to make me believe in her developing relationship with Tanner…I think if it had been any different, it would have rubbed me the wrong way you know?  That was an intriguing balancing act by Ms. Mayberry.

And Evie was just so sassy, I loved her dry sense of humour.  I LOVED the way she handled Tanner after the turning point, she was just perfect.  And you really could see her kindness and stubbornness.  And I loved that we got to see her depth, and I really believed in her love of animals and such.

I’m not always a huge fan of taciturn heroes, but Tanner was so much more than that.  Sure, he could be gruff and grumpy, but he could also be sassy and teasing and he made me swoon with how he stepped in right away with Evie.  He had his lower moments, of course, but I was satisfied with how that all played out.  I kind of wish we could have seen him deal with the plot twist…we got some of it at the beginning, but then it faded a bit.  I just wanted his feelings revisited a bit, it was overshadowed by the romance.

But damn people, the romance was smoking.  I really did feel the chemistry and the steamy scenes were very hot.

The other thing I really appreciated about this story is how well she can drop you into an environment and really make you feel it and understand it.  I’ve never had any interest in bull riding, but I felt like we got a realistic glimpse of what the sport is like, with both the challenges and the highs.  I really appreciate that, because then it doesn’t feel like a gimmick, but something that is a really big part of the heroes life.

All in all it fulfilled my romantic heart, as Ms. Mayberry’s stories always do.  And the epilogue gave me just enough to have me grinning from ear to ear.

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Confessions of a Former Puck Bunny by Cindi Madsen

Blurb:
34733602Confession #1:
I used to be a puck bunny, but after a hockey player broke my heart, I gave up all things hockey. Now I’m just focused on finding a way to pass my math class so I can graduate college.


Confession #2: Ryder “Ox” Maddox’s deep, sexy voice sends fuzzy tingles through my entire body, and I’m powerless to stop it. Which is a big problem since the hot, surprisingly funny hockey player is my new math tutor.

Confession #3: I can’t stop thinking about how ripped Ryder is from all his hockey training, and how fun it’d be to cross lines with him.

Confession #4: I kissed a hockey player and I liked it.

Confession #5: If I’m not careful, I might relapse and fall for Ryder, and then I’ll be totally pucked.

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My Review:
4.5 stars — I received a free copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased review/opinion.

OK, so I will admit that because of shifting priorities in reading, I have not yet had a chance to read books 2 and 3 of this series, but other than getting spoiled that those couples have a HEA (which duh), I don’t think it spoiled my reading experience in the slightest.  All it did is make me want to go back and read those books NOW NOW NOW, so let’s hope that I can fit them in before the year is out (especially Dane, he made me laugh).  And quite honestly the “family” of players and girlfriends added so much to this story, I LOVED having them there.

Now that that’s out of the way, OMG SWOON!!!  And you know who that swooning is for?  Oh yeah, it’s all for Ryder.  That boy is a perfect mix of sweet/funny and sexy/aggressive.  Like could there really be a more potent combination??  I love me a beta boy, and while I would NOT call Ryder a beta boy in the slightest, I felt like he had some of those qualities you know?  He was just so sweet and attentive and I felt like he surprised me at many turns (just as he surprised Lindsay).  And the way he pursued her with such single-minded determination?  Holy hot balls!!  (is that a saying?  I’m making that a saying)  ANYWAYS, he was the perfect omega boy, with a healthy dose of alpha traits mixed in as well.  I honestly can’t imagine anyone not falling in love with him.  Or maybe I just can’t get out of my own head, and I’m in love with him.

I also really enjoyed his backstory, and how it shaped him and the decisions he made.  I thought that his growth was realistic, because while I was in love with him, he did need a smack or two along the way.  But it made it satisfying to see him do what he could to prove his feelings.  And that was another thing I enjoyed, I appreciated that the forgiveness wasn’t easy (because he really did f* up), and he had to fight for her a bit.  That paint gun scene was immensely satisfying, as was the way the ending played out (sorry can’t elaborate, it would be spoilerific to the extreme).

Now don’t be fooled, I’m not done with my gushing.  Why?  Because we don’t just get a smoking hero, we also got a fabulous heroine to match him.  Lindsay was sassy, and vulnerable, and had a lot of depth.  I LOVED being in her head and seeing her fight through her instincts honed by her bizarre upbringing.  She had such a journey to go on, I can’t even tell you.

And this brings me to the most surprising thing about this book that seriously just won me over, mostly b/c I was expecting something different.  This book totally could have gone down judgemental lane, but Ms. Madsen hit it out of the park by avoiding that pitfall.  I mean, come on people, Lindsay was a former puck bunny!!  And so many authors just love to throw those girls under the bus, but Ms. Madsen tried to give us a different perspective of why they might do what they do.  And not only that, but Lindsay even admitted that they all had their own motivations, and she tried hard not to fall into the trap of judging girls who might enjoy one night stands.  I know I can fall into this trap myself, even if I try not to, so I just really appreciated this sooooo much.  Lindsay was unhappy with her former life because of her *own* reasons, not because it’s inherently shameful.  I loved the lack of double standard that showed.  Right on Lindsay, right on.

So I’ll end this review with a Confession of my own: I watch quite a bit of hockey (heck, my Oilers are in the playoffs as we speak and I’m GLUED to the TV for it), so I love a good hockey romance.  But damn, do these books give an unrealistic representation of the number of good looking hockey players.  I’m not saying they don’t all likely have amazing bodies, but when I look up and down the bench, I’m really not seeing teamfuls of gorgeous guys…or at least not gorgeous to me.  No offense hockey players, I’m sure it’s me and not you.  😛

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Remember Me Forever by Sara Wolf

Blurb:
32507774Isis Blake hasn’t fallen in love in three years, forty-three weeks, and two days. Or so she thinks.

The boy she maybe-sort-of-definitely loved and sort-of-maybe-definitely hated has dropped off the face of the planet in the face of tragedy, leaving a Jack Hunter–shaped hole. Determined to be happy, Isis fills it in with lies and puts on a brave smile for her new life at Ohio State University.

But the smile lasts only until he shows up. The menace from her past—her darkest secret, Nameless—is attending OSU right alongside her. And he’s whispering that he has something Isis wants—something she needs to see to move forward. To move on.

Isis has always been able to pretend everything is okay. But not anymore.

Isis Blake might be good at putting herself back together.

But Jack Hunter is better.

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My Review:
4 stars — I received a free copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased review/opinion.

Huh, I just read my review for book 2 and realized I’m feeling the exact same way!  I really really enjoyed the book, but I don’t have an immediate gut feeling for rating.  I don’t get it.  It’s so weird.  This time I assumed it was just my mood, but maybe it’s just something about these books.  There’s just so much to them, and they’re kind of odd, and so they don’t give you that immediate feeling for how to rate them.  Or maybe it’s just me.

So yes, babbling concluded, I really did enjoy the finale to this trilogy.  Isis was still the Isis we fell in love with in the first two books.  She is so wonderfully odd, like so odd you can’t even describe her (b/c you know I totally tried to describe her to my husband), but she just enchants me with her wit mixed with horribly childish humour.  I know, it’s a terribly weird combination.  And then you add in her vulnerability and totally skewed sense of self, and she just gets to me you know?  She made me laugh laugh laugh, and then cry too…

And we got just a wee bit more of Jack than even in the second book.  I shouldn’t love that boy, he is his own realm of broken.  Like he should have a whole planet to hold his broken.  But maybe that’s why he gets to me too, you know?  Because you see how the choices he’s made really have affected him too.  And even though he kept making HORRIBLE choices, I still rooted for Jack and Isis.  I still wanted the ending that I got.  OK, I will admit there was a moment where I kind of wanted a super big twist ending with Kieran, but it was like a fraction of a second.

The plot type things that happen in this series can be a wee bit outside of believability, but they entertain me anyways.  I had a bit of a hard time with the revenge aspect.  Don’t get me wrong, what happened totally fit with Jack’s and Isis’s personalities, it was VERY CONSISTENT with what we knew about both of them.  But it doesn’t make me feel good.  I think that’s what makes this book (and this series) so odd too.  Isis and Jack aren’t the most morally awesome characters.  It makes it hard to cheer for everything they do, you know?

I enjoyed some of the new secondary characters, and I’m so glad we still saw Wren and Kayla a bit.  Again, as with the rest of the series, the secondary characters play a role, but not as big as I sometimes like.  It’s like we get teased with them, but I’m always left wanting a bit more.

I found a few little things got dropped in the narrative.  Like Isis’s Mom.  I needed more there.  And the plane ticket.  What was the point of that?

But yeah, I’m super satisfied.  I’m so happy that it really lived up to what I was expecting of it, even if I had no idea where it would go.  I’ll definitely be looking for more by Ms. Wolf in the future.

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Pipe Dreams by Sarina Bowen

Blurb:
31820744A goalie has to trust his instincts, even when taking a shot to the heart…

Mike Beacon is a champion at defending the net, but off the ice, he’s not so lucky. A widower and a single father, he’s never forgotten Lauren Williams, the ex who gave him the best year of his life. When Lauren reappears in the Bruisers office during the playoffs, Beacon sees his chance to make things right.

Lauren hates that she’s forced to travel with the team she used to work for and the man who broke her heart. There’s still undeniable sexual tension running between her and Mike, but she won’t go down that road again. She’s focused on her plans for the future—she doesn’t need a man to make her dreams of motherhood come true.

Lauren plays her best defensive game, but she’s no match for the dark-eyed goalie. When the field of play moves to Florida, things heat up on the beach.

One of Mike’s biggest fans doesn’t approve—his teenage daughter. But a true competitor knows not to waste the perfect shot at love.

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My Review:
4.5 stars — I received a free copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased review/opinion.

This one is going to be a hard one to review.  Because I loved so much of it, even if I can see potential pitfalls for others.  There’s a teeny tiny part of me that thinks that things progressed too smoothly, or worked out too well, or was just too convenient at times.  But you know what?  I found I just didn’t care.  Because sometimes life does just work out at the right moments.  It doesn’t have to be all super angsty, sometimes relationships can move forward without huge devastating roadblocks.  Which is not to say that Mike and Lauren didn’t have roadblocks, it just seemed like some of the turns in the plot felt a little convenient.

I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about Lauren.  I mean, she really comes across as a witch with a b in the other two books.  And I’m not entirely sure I buy the transition to the Lauren we discover in this book, but, again, I’m not sure how much I care.  A part of me wishes I’d known more of what was going on in her head when she was being not so nice to the girls.  There were definitely explanations given for her uptight attitude, and they worked to an extent, I just wanted a wee bit more.  BUT if you ignore her from the other books, then just Lauren from this book was actually pretty awesome.  I hated to read about everything that happened to her as a result of her relationship with Mike and subsequent breakup.  I could totally see it happening too, and how it would irrevocably change her.  But I loved that she was so smart and really went after the things she desired in life.  And I loved that she didn’t compromise those aspects of herself when things started to change with Mike.

Regardless of the bad choices Mike made surrounding the breakup with Lauren, I can still sympathize with him while still thinking he was a bit of a bonehead.  Just like with Lauren, despite how much you hurt with her about the past, he still manages to bulldoze his way into your heart.  He was such an intriguing hero actually.  Such single minded determination yo.  Once he got his head out of his butt, he really turned on the charm and went after what he wanted.  And he was funny, and sweet, and charming, but not in a smarmy way you know?  You just couldn’t help but love him.  He made me laugh, and as such he got away with some pretty outrageous behavior at times.  I keep shaking my head at him, but I’m still sold.

Their chemistry was seriously solid too, making for some epic steamy scenes.  You really just wanted to root for them, you know?

And there was lots of delicious hockey in this one.  As a hockey fan who is currently entrenched in playoff season, this was a perfect read for me.

Fabulous secondary character support as usual.  Loved Hans.  Nice to see all our favourite past characters making appearances as well.  And just so you know Ms Bowen, that wasn’t enough for Nate & Becca.  I still politely plead for at least a novella.  PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE!  In fact, I wouldn’t mind a Silas book too…just saying.  You know, not being greedy or anything, noooooo….

So yeah, even though some things felt a little too smooth in the plot, I was still a happy little reader.  Sometimes you just want to read about love winning, you know?

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