Don’t Speak by Katy Regnery

Blurb:

33222262From New York Times bestseller Katy Regnery comes a new twist on a beloved fairytale.

A fisherman’s daughter.

The governor’s son.

Two very different worlds.

In this modern retelling of The Little Mermaid, a fisherman’s daughter from an Outer Banks island untouched by time, meets the son of North Carolina’s governor at a fancy party where she’s working.

Laire, who wants so much more from life than her little island can offer, is swept away by wealthy, sophisticated Erik, who is, in turn, entranced by her naiveté and charm. The two spend a whirlwind summer together that ends on the knife-point of heartbreak and forces them to go their separate ways.

Years later, when fate leads them back to one another, they will discover the terrifying depth of the secrets they kept from each other, and learn that shattered hearts can only be healed by a love that willfully refuses to die.

All novels Katy Regnery’s ~a modern fairytale~ collection are written as fundraisers. 10% of the e-book sales for in March and April 2017 will be donated to P.E.O. International, a non-profit organization that celebrates the advancement of women, awards scholarships and grants, and provides motivation for women to make their dreams come true.

**Contemporary Romance. Due to profanity, adult themes and very strong sexual content, this book is not intended for readers under the age of 18.**

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

Well darn.  I just didn’t connect to this book like I was expecting to.  I love Ms. Regnery’s Blueberry Lane novels, but this is the first of her Modern Fairytale stories that I’ve read.  I’ll still give the others a try, but I think I had some expectations for it from seeing people gush about those stories, and so I kind of set up roadblocks against myself if that makes any sense.  I’m not sure how to explain it.  It’s like, I wasn’t sure how the retellings would play out since they are contemporary stories, but I guess I just kept expecting one major plot point in this particular story, and didn’t quite get it.  I can’t really say more without giving minor spoilers.  While I have never read the original Little Mermaid fairytale, I do adore the Disney movie and I do know the basic gist of the original story…and I guess I felt that the absence of that major plot point was disappointing.

And those anticipations and expectations hindered my enjoyment in other ways too.  I kept trying to guess when certain things would happen or how certain parts would play out, and so I was never fully absorbed in the story.  Again, that was my fault.  Perhaps I wasn’t in the right mood for a retelling.  Perhaps the pace of the first half just didn’t work for me, it was a lot longer than I was anticipating, and I was always waiting for the other shoe to drop.

One of the little things that threw me off were the many subtle references to the Disney film.  It’s funny, b/c while I adored the movie, it felt odd to me that there should be such obvious references (from character names, to subtle song nods).  This is TOTALLY a personal preference thing, but I often found those references, and even some of the ways in which Laire thought of Erik as the “Prince of Utopia Manor”, or Erik thought of Laire as a “little mermaid”, to be kind of forced, or contrived.  That doesn’t mean they were, that’s just how they felt to me.

I spent a lot of my reading time thinking that all the building blocks for a great story were there, but I just couldn’t connect with the characters.  And there weren’t any obvious reasons why, I’m not entirely sure if they were flat or if it was just me.  But while they did most things really right, I didn’t swoon as much as I expected, or get as many tingles, or even bawl in the places where I should have been crying…I didn’t shed a single tear.

I think part of my problem is that I felt a personal disconnect with Laire’s extremely sheltered upbringing, and those conservative views that often result in women being shamed just rub me the wrong way entirely.  It really fit well and made SO MUCH SENSE for how naive the little mermaid is supposed to be.  That was soooo well done (seriously, the set up of a sheltered island girl and a Governor’s son was a perfect way to make the story work in a contemporary setting).  But I didn’t end up feeling ANY good feelings towards her family, and perhaps I needed a little something to love about her father to understand her reactions later on.  But maybe that’s because they made me so angry that I didn’t care for her family at all.

OK, so I know…this review is ridiculously long.  I just…I like to understand what went wrong for me, especially when so many felt differently.  I DID love the romance.  I think I held myself back from Laire because of how naive she was, and so it made it harder to connect to both of them as fully as I might otherwise.  I LOVED that while Erik looked like he would be a party boy or something, he was not what I expected at all.  It was definitely a lot of strong feelings in a short amount of time, but young love can be like that sometimes so it didn’t bother me.  And can I just say that I love that he called her Freckles?  SO CUTE.

And I actually really enjoyed the part after the Interlude.  I felt like that was paced really well, and I adored a certain major character in that part.  I felt a lot more feelings in the second half, and started to connect more.  It definitely started hitting me in the feels more, but of course that part was shorter.

So yeah.  There you have it.  My thoughts.  *sigh*  *shrugs*

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Cheater by Rachel Van Dyken

Blurb:

31345293Lucas Thorn wasn’t born a cheater. All it took was a single moment—say, a certain disastrous incident on the night before his wedding—and boom. Reputation destroyed forever and always. So now he owns it. He has a lady friend for every night of the week (except Sundays—God’s day and all), and his rules are simple: No commitments. No exceptions.

But a certain smart-mouthed, strawberry blonde vixen is about to blow that all to hell.

Avery Black has never forgiven Lucas for cheating on her sister. And suddenly being forced to work with him is pretty much a nightmare on steroids. Of course, it does afford her the opportunity to make his life as difficult as possible. But no good revenge scheme comes without payback. Because he didn’t become the Lucas Thorn without learning a few things about women.

Now Avery’s lust for vengeance has turned into, well, lust. And if Lucas stops cheating, it’s definitely not because he’s falling in love…

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

Oh dear.  I’ve had a hot and cold relationship with books written by this author.  I’ve read books that I really loved, but I’ve more often read books that just rubbed me the wrong way.  Strangely, this one wasn’t a full on hate, but it’s just not a Lenore book.  It’s not that I can’t see why people would enjoy it, it just wasn’t a good fit for me.  I have a few other books by this author that I’ll give a shot, but I think I’ll steer away from her normal contemporaries, or romantic comedies, b/c I just don’t think I have that sense of humour.

Oh, and yeah, this was kind of a weird one to request for me b/c cheating is one of my button issues (I just don’t have a good tolerance for cheating in books, and it will likely make me dislike a book), but I thought perhaps in exploring the topic it wouldn’t be too bad.  And actually, the cheating wasn’t the part that really didn’t work for me.  The author didn’t delve as deep into the reasoning as I had hoped, but it still addressed some interesting questions.

So what didn’t work for me?  The humour in this book was cringe-worthy.  I’d been telling my husband about it, and quite honestly the two MCs were just too over the top for me.  So much yelling.  There’s quirky characters, and then there’s these two…particularly Avery.  I cringed through parts of this book.  It was like watching Meet the Parents.  I could understand why people would find it funny, but I just couldn’t.  And quite frankly, I ended the book and I couldn’t help but think that if these people existed in real life, the people surrounding them must be so exhausted.

And the crazy humour kind of got in the way of their chemistry with each other.  There just weren’t enough moments that got to my heart and made me feel for them.  And for *this* particular reader, that was a shame.  I like my humour mixed with more depth I guess.  I would see glimmers, and then one of them would say something outrageous.

Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I didn’t laugh at all in this book, or that I didn’t enjoy parts.  But I just got tired after awhile.  I guess I just do better with moderation.  *shrugs*

Oh, and on a strange side note, the author would use dramatic periods in weird ways.  You know, where someone is trying to emphasize their point and so they break. The. Sentence. Up.  But she would use them in places that didn’t make sense, at least to this reader.  Was I the only one that noticed that?  And mostly in the beginning of the book too.

So yeah.  I can see this book being popular, it just wasn’t the right fit for me.

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Royal Affair by Parker Swift

Blurb:

30364208One seriously sexy son-of-a-duke . . .

Behind the posh British accent, Dylan Hale possesses a down-and-dirty sexiness. Off-the-charts gorgeous, a ruthless architect . . . and did I mention he’s a future duke? Every time we touch, it’s wildfire. All need and lust and heat. But Dylan has rules: just sex, no one can know, and in the bedroom he gets complete control. All I have to do is follow the rules, because falling in love with Dylan Hale is all it would take to screw everything up . . . royally.

 

 

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

So I’m probably one of the few erotic readers in the world that still hasn’t read FSOG, or seen the movie.  It’s not the BDSM, it’s more that I’m a hipster that doesn’t tend to get into things that are especially popular.  I’ve read a lot of BDSM erotica, I couldn’t imagine what that story would give that I hadn’t already read.  So why am I even mentioning that book?  Because even having not read it, I couldn’t help but think to myself many times while reading this story “this feels like FSOG.”  It also gave me a Harlequin Presents line feel.  So if you’re the type of reader that doesn’t mind books that stick to well known tropes, and you enjoy either of those reading experiences, then this book is perfect for you.  If that’s not your bag, then you might want to proceed with caution.

So I’ll go with what was meh for me: I became a bit bored.  I hate to say this, but I wasn’t expecting it to be an erotic read, and so there was just way more sex than plot for me.  I’m not saying the sex wasn’t hot (it totally was, and OMG can Dylan dirty talk like no one’s business…*fans self*), but after awhile I just wasn’t as engaged, and I really wanted the book to hurry up and get back to the plot.  Which was kind of weird.

Also, I saw the conflicts coming a ways away, and they made me roll my eyes at times.  I’ve never been a fan of the misunderstanding thing, and Lydia (fabulous name btw) had a bad habit of jumping to conclusions.

And quite frankly, I hadn’t realized this would be a series all based on Dylan and Lydia, often times these series are about connected love stories.  But this is in fact a series of 3 books about Dylan and Lydia.  Which isn’t terrible by any means, but I felt like this one dragged a bit and could have been edited down, which makes me wonder how well the plot will be paced in the next two installments.

So saying all that, let’s get to the things I LOVED.  The chemistry and bantering between Dylan and Lydia.  THIS is where the author NAILS it.  I can’t tell you how delighted I was in Lydia’s sassy comebacks, pushing Dylan’s usual control.  That girl seriously made me laugh out loud.  And I enjoyed the bit of backstory about Lydia and how she came to be in the fashion industry, while not being super fashionable.  There is definitely some insta-love going on in this book, the relationship develops incredibly quickly, but I did feel like they had a connection outside of the sex, even if most of their connection WAS the sex.  I felt like we got to see them getting to know each other enough that I could believe there were deeper feelings involved.

And speaking of chemistry, while I did get a bit bored with all the sex, it was fairly smoking…particularly their first few encounters.  Heck their first kiss was just tingly.  And like I said, the dirty talking was very well done (especially given I recently read a book with unnatural dirty talking, I was like “THIS IS WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT!”).

My problem lies in how to round this.  My hubby just shamed me about wanting to round up, saying how could I 4 star a book that bored me.  But he doesn’t understand how GOOD the good parts were.  Or how much characters and banter really weigh for me personally.  But alas, he is kind of right.  It was a bit predictable.  GAH!!!  Stupid logic!  So there you go.  Rambly review complete, you’re welcome.

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Hot Licks by A.M. Arthur

Blurb:

33238136Benji Moore is living his dream traveling as the lead singer of his band. His life would be perfect if he could get his boyfriend, Josh, to commit to an exclusive relationship.

Even though Josh loves Benji, he has good reasons not to trust in long-term relationships. So Josh decides to take some time to himself and sublets a room at a friend’s beach house. But when he walks into the nearby Off Beat bar, he finds a bartender who may be a good distraction from his relationship problems.

Van Holt doesn’t do anything deeper than sweaty one-night stands. But when Josh sets his sights on him, Van is surprised by their connection. Except Van also doesn’t do complicated, and the situation between Josh and Benji defines complicated. But the more time Van spends with them, the more he’s realizing how hard it would be to let Josh and Benji go.

Can the three of them find a way together, or will they all end up going solo?

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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.

Well damn, that was even better than I was anticipating.  Again, with this series I dove in to the 2nd book without reading the first, and I had some conflicting feelings about that story and the amount of angst it contained.  So when I was offered a widget for this book, I took it with some trepidation.  Because I don’t mind angst, but I don’t seek it out as some do.  But I was really intrigued finding out that this was Van’s story, and while I didn’t really know much about Benji and Joshua b/c they were probably more heavily featured in the first book that I missed, I still really wanted to find out what their story would be like.

And can I just say before I get to the meat of my review that the blurb really doesn’t give a good feel for the story and what all in contains?  Because it’s really just a taste of the very beginning of the story, but there is so much more to it.  And as another side niggle, they usually called him Joshua, rarely Josh.  And also, can I just say I’m not a fan of the guy on the cover?  I’m assuming that’s supposed to be Benji, but I really didn’t get the impression that he was that cut.  Van’s really the only one that would fit that physical description for me.  OK, enough with the superficial.

So while this book still had the problem of having angst up the hoo-ha, it didn’t have a lot of the side story angst that the previous book was bogged down in.  I still feel like it seemed a bit much for each main character to have their own tragic childhood story, but I could deal with it a bit more for some reason.  Maybe because I expected it?  Or maybe it just was because at least there wasn’t outside tragedies happening as well that we had to encounter.  And even though Van’s tragic story was left til the end, it fit with his character and I wasn’t surprised by this.  I thought each of their childhood traumas were given the proper respect and resolution within their relationship.

I had no idea that this story was going to deal with the gray asexual spectrum, and I actually found that it was dealt with quite well, b/c it is really complicated and all over the place, and Benji’s story gave us a flavour of someone within the spectrum.  I ADORED that part.  And I was satisfied in the way it played out in the story.  I was a bit disappointed that Van’s pansexuality was never explored, but I guess it didn’t really need to be.

I also really loved the way the story addressed poly relationships, and how much time and thought all 3 men took when considering it for themselves.  I was especially intrigued since this story contained an established couple, but I never felt like I missed out on anything.  It all flowed really nicely, and I loved the way it all expanded when Van was added to the mix.  I felt the chemistry between all 3, and the steamy scenes were fantastic.

Honestly, I have no idea why it doesn’t get full 5 stars.  Just a gut feeling.  Probably because of my personal preference away from angst.  But yeah, it was nice to see all the things that bothered me about book 2 not becoming a problem in this book as well.  And it was nice to see glimpses of the characters we knew from the other stories, I always love that.  One tiny note: if you read this book first, you will get a bit of a spoiler for book 2.  But I don’t think it would spoil it enough that you couldn’t go back and read it and enjoy it.

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