Campaigning for Christopher by Katy Regnery

Blurb:
26159697Christopher Winslow, the youngest of the four Winslow brothers, was born with a silver spoon in his privileged mouth, which has made it difficult for him to establish his credibility in the fast-approaching congressional race. Working against the clock to assure Pennsylvania voters that he is forthright, trustworthy and able has been an exhausting challenge, but Christopher’s chances at beating the incumbant look good.

Julianne Crow, a plus-size model struggling to make ends meet, jumps at the chance to make a little extra cash on the side. What does she have to do? Slip something into Christopher Winslow’s drink and take some very naughty pictures with him.

But Christopher is nothing like Julianne expected, and when her actions sabotage his hard-earned campaign only a month before the election, her guilt is overwhelming. She offers Christopher her help in an effort to repair the damage she’s caused, but can anything change the fact that he sees her as an opportunist and a mercenary? When she starts campaigning for Christopher, he may find out there’s more to her than meets the eye.

Return to the world created in the English Brothers books with this fresh foursome of scorching hot Winslow Brothers!

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My Review:
3.75 stars — OMG you guys, I was having such a hard time coming to terms with how I felt about this book, and honestly my skepticism started with the Note From the Author at the very beginning.  She talks about doing research and choosing to go with American Indian or Indian to refer to Julianne based on what she learned, and my whole being just rejected that.  I wondered if she actually talked to anyone, or if she’d had someone of that race read the book and gut check it.  And even though it’s really not super important to the overall story, it caused me to do my own research after I finished the book.  And I discovered one VERY important thing (besides discovering that it’s an extremely complicated issue, and that Ms. Regnery did not make a bad choice as I’d thought): the term Indian is considered much more offensive in Canada (where I live) than in the US.  AHHHH!!!  I feel so much better!  So my whole being rejected it b/c it’s different up here!!  I wish I’d looked into it right away from the beginning, b/c I’m not sure how much that coloured my reading, you know?   But anyways, you gotta love when a book causes you to learn something new for yourself.  Yay for knowledge!

ANYWAYS.  As seems to be the case with so many of my reviews for this series, I start off with a related, but not necessarily helpful piece of babbling.  The thing is, I really love reading diverse books, but I’m often wary of them as well, particularly when the author does not share that diversity…can I trust that they got it right?  As a white woman, will I even know?  But at the same time, I WANT to see this diversity.  I want to see characters that reflect the varied world that we live in, so I applaud Ms. Regnery for giving us Julianne, of the Lakota tribe of South Dakota.  And for not just having it be a throw away element of her character, but something that really defined her and the story that she tells.  I felt for her and all that she went through growing up, and I thought that while she had her struggles, she was also a very strong and admirable character.  Which is funny considering how the story begins.  She’s not so admirable at the start.

I can honestly say that I was SOOOOO leery of this aspect of the story (that’s hinted at in the blurb).  Maybe it’s because drugging a person is so anathema to everything in me, that I could not imagine what would transpire to make it OK for Jules to resort to that.  And the great thing is that while we saw her motivations, it *wasn’t* a good enough reason.  Why is that great?  Because she doesn’t excuse it for herself.  She made a HORRIBLE mistake and decision.  And she never backs down from that or plays it off.  From the moment she gives herself time to think, and then investigate, she does what she can to make it right.  Because you know what?  People do make very bad decisions from time to time, based on a multitude of reasons, but still bad decisions in the end.  And every time she lifted her head and sucked it up and quietly apologized and forged ahead, but also didn’t take too much sh*t as time went on, I just wanted to applaud.  Because I can love a flawed character that understands their flaws and works on them.  I admire that.  She was honestly my favourite character of this story, I LOVED her growth and change, I loved that she was forthright about her feelings, I loved that she didn’t play games.  And I loved that she respected herself and made hard decisions that were right for her.

Christopher wasn’t bad either, but I’m not entirely sure I had the same level of connection to him.  He had so much rage after being taken advantage of, and honestly, RIGHTFULLY SO.  But it was hard to fall in love with him.  Because *we* as the readers could see inside Jules’s heart, but he couldn’t.  So when he would snipe at her and same horrible things, it was just hurtful and hard to remember the context of where he was coming from.  I wanted him to be better.  And don’t get me wrong, he did get better.  But it was hard to reconcile his own development with the development we were seeing in Jules.  And I’m not sure what you could have done to make that work better, b/c it made sense.  But maybe I’m just not cut out for the enemy to lovers trope.  I don’t deal well with conflict.  Especially when it’s not born of sexual tension, but where the tension is there in spite of the conflict.  It was hard to get into.  And I kind of wanted to know more about Christopher’s campaign…or maybe not that so much as to see HIS passion.  We saw Jules’s passion, and we saw how much she admired his passion based on his platform.  But I wanted to see him get all riled up and passionate about things he believed in.  I think that would have endeared him earlier.

OK, so we have a heroine that I adore, and a hero that I liked, but took me longer to love.  Which would probably have had this book at a solid 4 stars for me (what? it’s my review, I’ll rate how I want).  But there were some niggles, hence the loss of a quarter star.  Who was the black hat man?  Why was that never resolved?  And why bother making Jules plus-sized if it’s never going to come into play?  I mean, it’s nice to have a plus sized girl, but it’s honestly mentioned like twice the whole time, so why put it there if you’re not going to give it some play.  Heck, we never even know if Chris likes plus sized girls.  It’s not bad, just a bummer.  And where was Alex?  I LOVED seeing Elise and Preston, and even a bit of Margaret and Skye.  But why was Alex never with his wife?

So that’s it, that’s all folks.  Imma gonna go pre-order me a set of Winslow Brothers paperbacks for the signing in May.  As much as I dissect these books and how I feel, I really do enjoy them.  They entertain, they give me a solid romance, and sometimes they even make me think and learn.  Sweet.

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Crazy About Cameron by Katy Regnery

Blurb:
25848928Crazy about Cameron is the third of four books about the Philadelphia-based, wildly-handsome Winslow brothers who are all on the look-out for love.

(Say what? Not so much…Brooks and Pres are OFF. THE. MARKET, and Chris is so distracted with his campaign, he can’t see what – or who – is right under his nose.)

With her stiff posture, black-rimmed glasses and chestnut waves in a tight bun, Cameron Winslow’s downstairs neighbor, Margaret Story, has long been the unaware star of his filthiest dirty-librarian fantasies. But with a floundering business eating up all his time, Cam doesn’t have the open road he’d need to date a lady like Margaret.

Margaret, who grew up down the road from Cameron, has always thought of him as a cross between a bully and a tease, as likely to pull her braids as pull her leg. But he’s grown up to be a smokin’ hot businessman, and Margaret can’t help daydreaming about what it would feel like to be under, um, with someone like him.

When hot-headed Cameron and buttoned-up Margaret start using the same shady contractor for apartment renovations, Margaret may find herself in some unexpected trouble, which forces long-hidden feelings to come out of hiding…and might just make way for two unlikely fantasies to finally come true.

Return to the world created in the English Brothers books with this fresh foursome of scorching hot Winslow Brothers!

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My Review:
4 stars — OK, because I can’t seem to get over it, I’m going to get one of my annoyances out of the way at the beginning, and then commence the gushing.  If you choose to binge read this series (The Winslow Brothers section in particular) as I’m doing since I have the box set, and you have a mind for details, this series is going to bug you at least a little bit.  Because there are continuity errors.  A few little, one a bit bigger.  I first noticed one in Proposing to Preston, when the age of Preston was wrong and inconsistent with what we learn in Bidding on Brooks (he should have been 31 in Part One and 33 in Part Two).  But I didn’t say anything in my review, b/c it’s only something someone who pays attention to details would really notice, and really didn’t influence the story.  But the bigger continuity issue we run into in this book is kind of annoying since it’s what had me anticipating this story in the first place.  We first glimpse Cameron and Margaret in Bidding on Brooks at the auction, and there seems to be this playful war going on wrt the contractor.  Margaret even has a conversation with Brooks before the auction.  That part of the timeline in this book goes QUITE differently.  We never see her talk to Brooks, Cameron is not hiding from Margaret (and actually purposely approaches her), and the whole signing for tiles things doesn’t ever happen.  In fact the contractor war really doesn’t happen how I anticipated.  And there were a few other little ones (like when they moved to England)…  So if you have a mind for details and this kind of thing would annoy you, I suggest spacing out the reading of this series so that you forget that stuff by the time you get to this book.  Or at least be forewarned and forearmed.

OK.  Sorry.  That was a big ole pile of word vomit.  But I needed to get it off my chest before I could get to the good stuff, b/c my brain is, quite frankly, stupid.  It doesn’t help that I’ve recently finished two beta reads, so that switch was still on in my brain.  And, shake it off…

So while this book did not go how I was anticipating, I really actually LOVED the way direction it took instead!!  Like I would have enjoyed the story that was hinted, but I was equally enamoured with the story I got.  And part of that is just good ole likable characters.  Cameron was NOT what I expected.  Not that I knew much about him, but he was…DIRTY, and thoughtful, and FOCUSED (on Margaret), and vulnerable, and initially unhappy, and so sweet!! and protective, and even his impulsiveness came out in ways I wasn’t expecting.  Because he may have been impulsive, but it was like he wasn’t afraid to go after what he wanted once he figured out what that was…  And he went for it WITH ALL ENGINES FIRING.  Sexy as f*ck.  Like seriously, I just loved the way he saw Margaret, and wanted her, and how he resolved the things going on in his personal life, and how involved he became with the new direction and with his new relationship.

And Margaret broke my heart in places.  I’m a sucker for a shy, vulnerable, somewhat wounded heroine that has a core of strength, and we definitely get that in Margaret.  OMG, I had not anticipated her Father, and I seriously cried for her in places.  And while I may not have understood her desire for approval in spite of certain things, I bought it from her.  And I really appreciated that we saw how she would be when she could be the self she wanted to be.  I loved her passion for wine (even though GROSS), and just all the little bits that made up the real her.  She wasn’t what I was anticipating either, but I loved her all the same.

And I really enjoyed the romance that played out between her and Cameron.  It may have been fast at times, but it developed at a pace that made sense for these characters and their histories.

The bit of suspense and mystery that played a small secondary part really didn’t work for me, as it was fairly obvious from the start, and easy to put the pieces together.  And, I don’t know, I guess I was less impressed with the way it played out.  Not sure if it was necessary.

So honestly, despite the few little things that might have brought it down, the characters just drove this story home.  One more book!!

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Rock Bottom by Cate Masters

rock bottomBlurb: Can success trap you at Rock Bottom?

For rocker Jet Trently, success means playing the same platinum-selling hits ad nauseum. Philly rock journalist Billie Prescott thrives on covering the latest music releases. When her editor sends her to Malibu to cover Jet’s reality dating show, Rock Bottom, her blog’s success keeps her trapped there. Her life’s at Rock Bottom too, until she hears Jet’s new songs. They touch her heart as his music did when she was fifteen. When Jet touches her heart as well, will the reality show ruin the real thing?

WARNING: No graphic love scenes, some adult language.

 

 

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3 stars

Okay, the title and cover are a bit cliche but the writing was sound.  The story was engrossing for the first third of it but then something happened, or rather something didn’t happen.  Billy’s character stop evolving and her constant internal debate and misunderstanding started to get boring.  The repetition led me to start the process of not-picking.  

Once I lost interest in her character other things started popping up. Billie was too pushy for me. And I found Jet to be arrogant and condescending.  Also, I wasn’t feeling the chemistry.  It didn’t make my toes curl, but rather, made me scratch my head in confusion.  I didn’t see how Jet would have kept trying to be with her when she was so cold to him.  I feel like I didn’t get enough backstory for either character to really care about them. So I wasn’t really invested in them.  

Then without spoiling it, the ending.  ::rolls eyes:: I only finished it because I had invested my time and with 30 pages left I felt I needed too.   So solid 4 star in the beginning ending was a 2 star leaving my review at an overall 3 star.  Too bad, I probably won’t be reading any more from this author.  

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Rumpel’s Prize (Kingdom #8) by Marie Hall

Rumples prizeBlurb:  Imp, deceiver, villainous mastermind… Rumpelstiltskin’s been called all these names and more, and for the most part, they’re entirely true. But there is more to the brooding, blond haired Adonis than brokering deals for the devil. He’s hiding a terrible, hideous secret. One that threatens to fray the already delicate strands of his sanity and reason. A secret that he’s desperate to make right, to see whole again, and there is no one and nothing that will stand in his way of getting what he wants—no one except a slip of woman with hair like fire and skin like finest porcelain. Something about Shayera Caron calls to the beast inside him and makes him question his motives for the first time in his life.

Shayera Caron is the daughter of the infamous Gerard Caron, former lothario of Kingdom but now a reformed rake and settled husband and father. She can go nowhere in her tiny hamlet without seeing the sneers of women and hearing the murmurings of their disdain for the blood that runs through her veins. Shayera is desperate to get away from the gossiping hens, so when Rumpelstiltskin rides into town, she doesn’t think twice before going wherever he leads. Only thing is Shayera is not as innocent as she might seem, for she hides a secret too. One that will bring the most feared man in all of Kingdom to his knees…

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4 stars

I like this one way more than the others.  It might be because the Gerald is one of my favorite bad guys in this series so since his daughter is in it I paid extra close attention to it.  And she had her own demons to deal with, so to speak.  She was a bit of a firecracker and I really loved her protectiveness of her family.  

Also I’m also a huge fan of Rumpelstiltskin.  I absolutely loved his backstory, it gave a lot of insight into his present character and made me love him even more. He is one sexy demon.  

This love story was more drawn out than the others as well so I got a bit of simmer before the boil if that makes sense.  And the plot twist at the end was unexpected.  I was pretty shocked at the things Rumple was willing to sacrifice to get what he thought he wanted. 

I enjoyed this one and since I had previously read the next one I’m very excited to finish this series.  

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Huntsman’s Prey (Kingdom #7) by Marie Hall

Huntsmans preyBlurb: Rumors abound in Wonderland, of a dark princess named Chrysalis who bears the Moon’s curse. Her beauty is beyond compare, and her madness… even greater than her father’s, The Hatter. Death follows wherever she roams, and Danika—fairy godmother of all villains—knows this task is too great for her to handle on her own. She has no choice but to seek out the one they call Huntsman, his mission is simple: Find the creature, and destroy it.

But nothing is ever so simple in Kingdom. The moment the hunter Aeric steps foot in the mad, twisted realm he’s enveloped in a reality that is neither wholly true nor fantasy. The key, the Cheshire explains, to ending the madness is for one to become mad themselves. The Huntsman has one chance to figure out the riddle before the beauty destroys them all…

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3 stars

This one was okay.  I enjoyed the romance part but the madness was a bit hard to follow and I was turned off by the multiple personalities. I had a hard time thinking he could keep them separate in his head. TBH, I always had a hard time following the stories in Wonderland due to the madness there.  It seems like the journey just goes in circles and nothing really gets accomplished.  Which is exactly how I felt about this one.  

Danica’s story concludes in this one, which was a pleasant surprise for me because I wanted that in the last book.  Some of the things I didn’t like in the last book are addressed here.  

The plot was straightforward, tidy and tied up all loose ends.I’m digging the extended fairy tail series. These are the second generation of fairy tales, the bad guys children.  It’s pretty cool.  I’m a sucker for fairy tale retellings.  I’d definitely recommend for 18 and up as there is some graphic sex scenes here.

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Moon’s Flower (Kingdom #6) by Marie Hall

moons flowerBlurb: Once upon a time, long, long ago a flower fairy looked up to the sky and dared to fall in love with the Man in the Moon…

Or so goes the tale that Danika weaves for the gathered fae children. Tonight is the night to learn a hidden tale of Kingdom. A story long forgotten, remembered by few. A tale of treachery, of love, betrayal and woe… but there’s more to the story than meets the eye. This isn’t just a tale of Jericho and Calanthe and their doomed Shakespearean romance, for tonight the truth of one beloved Kingdom character will be revealed.

 

 

 

 

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2.5 stars

I was unimpressed with this story. I mean, it was nice that Danika kinda sorta got her happy ending but I guess I wanted more for her.  Danika is an awesome character and it sucks that she didn’t get what she give others.  I wish we could have known more about the suns past.  Was she cursed? Does she have a true love also? And we didn’t get a lot of background on the man in the moon’s powers either.  It focused more on Danika which may be why I didn’t really feel a connection to him.  

This story was more physical than mental, they didn’t really get to know each other.  It was mostly chemistry, which I dig, don’t get me wrong but when I’m in the sixth book in the series I am invested in the characters and to not have that extra background was a let down.  I’m going to let it go because I love the series though.  

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Proposing to Preston by Katy Regnery

Blurb:
25361685Proposing to Preston is the second of four books about the Philadelphia-based, wildly-handsome Winslow brothers who are all on the look-out for love.

(Except Brooks… he’s probably sailing around the world with Skye by now. And Christopher, who’s only on the look-out for a congressional seat and absolutely. nothing. else.)

Preston Winslow has a heart as open as the sky and room in his life for someone special. When he falls in love with Broadway actress, Elise Klassan, he holds nothing back.

Elise, who has made tremendous sacrifices to forward her career, is swept off her feet by handsome, charming Preston…but the stage has been her first love for so many years, she doesn’t know if there’s room for Preston in her life. When the day comes that she must choose between her ambition and her heart, she profoundly hurts the one man who could have made her happy.

Two years later, Elise has become a world-famous actress and Preston is a very successful lawyer. But fame has not equaled happiness for Elise, and Preston is much too bitter and cynical to ever consider falling in love again.

Is it possible that the only person who can mend Preston’s heart is the one who originally broke it? Only if Elise can figure out a way to make him believe in love all over again.

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My Review:
4.5 stars — THIS!!!  After being a bit bummed about not enjoying the Modern Fairytale books I’ve attempted by Ms. Regnery, I decided to go back to the series where I fell in love with her and read my box set of the Winslow Brothers from her Blueberry Lane series.  I’d already read the first book a while ago, but I reread it first (and was reminded of my love), and then I started on this one and was just utterly captivated…much like Preston was with Elise.  There’s just some magic there, you know?  I felt all these feelings of attraction at first sight, and just how bewildered Preston was when presented with those immediate feelings.

And OMG, these two were so adorable together!!  There was just so much chemistry!!  And it was sweet, and I appreciated the backstory that came with Elise and how her upbringing shaped her.  So her reactions often felt very authentic, and I could just imagine how overwhelmed she was when faced with so many of her dreams coming true, but also with the exhaustion of all the work that went into making her Broadway dream come alive…and how conflicted she was with how she felt about this new love of hers.

And Preston was just so unbelievably sweet, and he tried so hard.  He was so patient, it was just…GAH!  I really loved him.  But I’d seen glimpses of him in Bidding on Brooks, and I knew that something happened to take him from this sweet endearing boy, to a jaded cynical man (even though it was only 2 years), and so I was just waiting for the other shoe to drop, you know?  Like I couldn’t fully relax, wondering what was going to happen.  And I just kept thinking, OK I’ll read until the end of Part One and then go to sleep, and read the second half in the morning.  And then HOO BOY, we got there, and I just had to read a bit more, until my eyes wouldn’t cooperate.

I LOVED the way that all played out.  Even though it was heartbreaking, it honestly fit with who they each were, and I could just see them both making those horrible mistakes and reacting badly, b/c in so many ways they were just so young.  Not in age, but in experience.  I really appreciated that.  I really appreciated that while I wanted to smack them both, I could accept the way it played out.

And Part Two really compelled me right away too.  My heart was sooooo broken for Preston, I could just feel how broken he was.  And Elise too.  To realize what you’ve done, and not understand how to fix it.  And I was a bit concerned when Elise seemed to be the only one who had thought of the mistakes she’d made, but thankfully Preston didn’t let me down…though I wish he’d expressed to Elise what mistakes he made as well, so she wouldn’t feel the burden of all the blame.  But at the same time, their reconciliation was very satisfying and I enjoyed the way they worked things out every step of the way.  And I liked the development with her family as well, even if that all made me cry.

All in all this book was super satisfying for me.  Both characters were very sweet and earnest, but also very flawed, and so it was so rewarding to see them grow and eventually grow together.  I will say, the epilogue was NOT satisfying for me.  It’s just not my style, and it didn’t give me enough of them, which is what I loved.

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Silence by Natasha Preston

Blurb:
31676476For eleven years, Oakley Farrell has been silent. At the age of five, she stopped talking, and no one seems to know why. Refusing to communicate beyond a few physical actions, Oakley remains in her own little world.

Bullied at school, she has just one friend, Cole Benson. Cole stands by her, refusing to believe that she is not perfect the way she is. Over the years, they have developed their own version of a normal friendship. However, will it still work as they start to grow even closer?

When Oakley is forced to face someone from her past, can she hold her secret in any longer?

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My Review:
3.5 stars — Well.  Hmmm.  So the thing about this book is that I started it before bed and stayed up until 4am finishing it in one sitting…and then I felt disappointed and underwhelmed.  Which doesn’t make much sense right?  Basically there were aspects of this book that were 4+ stars, and there were aspects of this book that were 2 stars.  But given I was sucked in and just kept going and going, I figured I’d give it a slight nod above the average of 3 because I do tend to rate based on overall enjoyment, not on the actual quality of the book.

This book reminded me a LOT of The Boy Who Sneaks in My Bedroom Window.  The relationship between Oakley and Cole and how it develops, and the damage done to Oakley, were surprisingly similar in feel.  That’s another book that I can’t necessarily say is superbly well-written (lots of editing issues common in early self-publishing), but I just LOVE it, you know?  Like a guilty pleasure.  And it was the same for this book.  I was super intrigued by Oakley’s secret, and didn’t even mind TOO much the way it was revealed slowly over the course of the first half of the book, though the false leads were a bit annoying.  And I really adored the sweet nature of Oakley and Cole’s relationship, and how close they could be without her ever speaking (or communicating in any way really).  I actually really believed that he understood her based on years of paying attention to her body language and facial expressions.

But here’s where this book falls short of TBWSIMBW: the pacing.  Seriously, that is my number one issue with this book.  I found I was staying up reading just to finally find out what happened, what was going to happen, b/c we know from the blurb that her past is going to catch up with her.  Seriously, I was like “OK, more relationship, more normal everyday, more sideplot…anytime now…”  I don’t think it was until like 87% that we got even a hint of the dark turn, and that’s just not enough time to give what should be a satisfying climax a lead up and solid conclusion.  And it really wasn’t.  It was super rushed.  I’m torn about how it all happened…there is a part of me that loves it, but there is another part of me that’s wholly unsatisfied that we didn’t hear from Oakley.  And then the ending.  OMG.  I don’t think I fully realized this was a series, or maybe I thought it was a series of connected characters, but nope…the ending is abrupt and unsatisfying.  Not a cliffhanger so much as a non-HEA.

And so there I am, laying in bed, just bummed.  Because you know what?  Even not having read the second book, I can tell that it didn’t need to be a 2 part divided story.  There was so much repetition in the meat of the book that really could have been pared down.  I enjoyed getting to see the emotional impact of what Oakley went through, but I still think it could have been shaved down and still been effective.  And I didn’t mind not knowing the details of what happened, b/c that’s a bit hard to take, and I enjoyed the focus being on how it impacted Oakley’s life.  But there was so much extraneous material in the book that honestly could have been either taken out or, for goodness sake, it should have had a purpose!  Like Julian!  What the what?  What was the point of that storyline?  Either it should have had a conclusion and a development that made sense, or it shouldn’t have been that large.  And Lizzie?  What was with that?

So while I would really *like* to have the conclusion of Cole and Oakley’s story, from what I can gather from looking at the lower starred reviews of the next book (when I take out all the annoying reviews that just talk about the grammar…seriously, that’s the whole reason you rated it 1 star?  Why did even read the second book then?), the pacing is fairly similar and unsatisfying.  So it’s not really worth it for me.  Maybe if it was free, but it still costs my time, you know?

Weird review right?  It was a weird reading experience.  To have so much love for the characters and to be simultaneously sucked in and impatient, it’s just odd.  It’s happened to me before, but it is always vexing when it does.  Oh well.  *shrugs*  I don’t regret it, I just wish it had been better.  Especially because I enjoyed the handling of the tough topic.

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The Vixen and the Vet by Katy Regnery

Blurb:
22888713In this modern-retelling of “Beauty and the Beast,” Savannah Carmichael, betrayed by an unreliable source, returns to her hometown of Danvers, Virginia with her once-promising journalism career in ruins. Given the opportunity to get back in the game by writing a patriotic human interest piece, Savannah turns her attention to the town hermit, Asher Lee, a wounded veteran who returned to Danvers eight years ago, and hasn’t been seen since.

After an IED explosion in Afghanistan took Asher’s hand and disfigured half of his face, he’s lived a quiet life on the outskirts of Danvers where the locals respect his privacy…that is, until Savannah Carmichael comes calling in a borrowed sundress with a plate of homemade brownies. When Asher agrees to be interviewed by Savannah, he starts feeling things for the beautiful reporter that he hasn’t felt in years.

Misfits in small-town Danvers, Savannah and Asher create a bond right away, touching each other’s hearts in ways neither thought possible. When a terrible mistake threatens to drive them apart, they’ll have to decide if the love they found in one another’s arms is strong enough to fight for their hard-won happily ever after.

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

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My Review:
3 stars — I thought now would be the perfect time to finally read Ms. Regnery’s Beauty and the Beast retelling, what with the new movie out…and crap on a cracker, it just didn’t work for me.  It’s so weird, b/c I really enjoy her Blueberry Lane books, but this is now the second of her wildly popular Modern Fairytale stories that I just didn’t connect with.  Quite frankly, this book left me extremely underwhelmed, especially given how outrageously popular it is.

It was so odd, b/c I started this book before bed one night, and just really wasn’t sucked in right away.  I wasn’t too sure about Savannah, and I really wasn’t enamoured with her sister Scarlet, so I put it down and went to sleep.  Then the next day I was reading while exercising, and I was wholly sucked in!!  I was just super excited and thinking “OH!!!  This is what they were talking about!”  I loved the beginnings of Savannah’s relationship with Asher, and how they met, and there was just some magic in their developing friendship and more.  I even highlighted things!  And then I had to do real life things, and when I got back to it today, I was bored.  Like wth?  I can admit that there might be a small mood component to my enjoyment, because I was having a really hard time articulating (even in my own head) what exactly went wrong.  But I’ll give it a try.

On the surface, I really enjoyed the way Ms. Regnery’s chose to portray our Belle and Beast.  I could totally see a reporter from a small town not fitting in, and a veteran with terrible disfigurements feeling ostracized by that same small town.  But I’m not sure I fully bought into their roles…more Savannah than Asher.  I could actually really understand Asher’s backstory and what he went through and how he came to be who he was, and I really felt like he stayed true to his character for much of the book.  And while his actions at the climax were harsh, I could kind of get it even if it made me disappointed.  But Savannah really did NOT act like a reporter.  It was like a character trait that she was just supposed to have that kind of facilitated the plot, but I don’t really feel like I understood much of her.  She uses her past betrayal and disgrace in so many aspects of the story, but I just didn’t know much about what happened, and I just didn’t really feel anything towards her and the decisions she made.  I didn’t empathize with her character nearly as much as I needed to.  I needed something more for me to understand why she would make such a big mistake at the climax, b/c she really came off as selfish, self-serving, and really not very in touch with people’s emotions.  So to say I was disappointed in my Belle would be a bit of an understatement.

And while I enjoyed their initial chemistry and found that spark and magic quite exciting, somewhere along the way I got really bored with it, and wasn’t feeling the steamy scenes…I honestly thought “oh, here they go again.”  I enjoy steamy scenes, but apparently there wasn’t enough keeping me interested in these ones, but that honestly could have been just me.

So the other thing that really didn’t work for me had a lot to do with how this “Southern” town was portrayed.  Are they really like that?  It felt like a stereotype was taken as fact and embellished upon.  It’s not that I don’t understand elements, but I wanted a bit more nuance I guess.  This is not the first time I’ve been insulted by the portrayal of a region that I don’t even live in, so perhaps *I’m* the one who has it wrong.  I don’t know.  But it influenced how I enjoyed Miss Potts (which was sometimes I did, sometimes I really didn’t).  It influenced how little I enjoyed Savannah’s sister Scarlet.  Though honestly, there were many more problems with her.  Both she and her fiance Trent were downright mean.  And I just did NOT buy the turnaround.  I’m glad it was there, I wanted to buy it, but I needed an apology and some humility I guess.  And don’t get me started on the Lance business, and dealing with it in a Southern way.  NOT a fan of that tiny side plot at all, and how it played out.

OK, enough complaining Lenore.  Let’s end with a high note.  I really enjoyed Savannah’s Mother, and the story she told of her relationship with Asher’s Mother.  I really thought it added to the story, and gave depth.  I know she had her own elements of caricature, but I didn’t mind them…maybe because she was kind.  I needed that kindness.

And I really thought the description of Asher’s injuries, and the bits of detail that we saw on how he coped with only one hand, and the look into things that could help him were well placed and added to the story.  It was a really good read for my diversity challenge in that way.

So yeah.  I’m bummed.  I take it really hard when I don’t enjoy a book that’s so highly recommended.  But apparently I’m a special snowflake that just can’t conform.  Oh well.  I’m going to at least give her Hansel and Gretel retelling a try, and if that one doesn’t work either, I’m totally calling it a flatline and sticking with her other series.  Sometimes we’re just not a match.

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Forever Mine by Erin Nicholas

Blurb:

31684529Maya Goodwin doesn’t believe in holding back. Ever. As a cop, she never hesitated to throw herself into harm’s way to save someone. Even after an injury on the job forces her to retire, she’s not afraid to keep risking it all to get the life she wants. With a new career teaching martial arts to kids already underway, she’s looking forward to the future – and taking a chance on the unbelievably hot Dr. Alex Nolan.

Maya – daring and spontaneous – is the exact opposite of what Alex always thought he wanted. But when a nine-year-old daughter he never knew existed shows up on his doorstep, Maya is the one who helps them hold it together. With love on the line, will the guy who’s always played it safe be willing to take the biggest risk of all?

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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, this was a fantastic addition to this series!!  And no, you most definitely do NOT have to read the first book to enjoy this one, but it’s super adorable as well, so I definitely recommend it.

I can honestly say that I loved both characters, and thought they both had some really unique aspects to their personalities, and were really well developed.  Both Maya and Alex were extremely likable, but not without flaws.  And because of those two aspects, it was so satisfying to see their growth over the course of the story, even if there were the occasional bits I wish we’d seen more of.

Maya was seriously badass, but also so satisfyingly nerdy.  She was just ridiculously one of a kind…I can’t even figure out how to describe her.  She’s completely unlike me, but I could really see liking her.  And admiring her.  I kind of wish we’d seen a bit more of her development wrt her future goals…because they kind of changed over the story, but we didn’t see her working that out, it just kind of happened along the way…one of those things that disappointed me.

And Alex was so cautious and meticulous, and eager!  He just kept surprising me along the way.  I loved seeing the little steps he was making forward, even if he was moving a little slower than I’d like, and even if occasionally I wanted to smack him.  But I kind of liked that he was not quite alpha, but not quite beta.  He had his strengths and weaknesses, and he admired the crap out of Maya’s strengths.

And the chemistry between Maya and Alex was smoking and very enjoyable.  But I could also see the relationship that developed between them that was more than just chemistry and lust.

I loved the nerd aspect, and loved some of the introspective commentaries made about the nerd community and why we love superheroes and all that stuff.  It just really felt…I don’t know, intelligent?  Is that insulting to other books?  Or maybe it’s insightful.  Like not just the nerd aspect, but the story as a whole — looking at why people help others, what that says about them, overcoming perceived weaknesses, all that good stuff.

I also really loved the secondary characters in this one.  I loved Maya’s group of friends, and that they are important to her and an integral part of her life.  I enjoyed Rachel, and was surprised that I did.  She was a bit too good to be true at times, but I actually enjoyed that it wasn’t a big dramafest and she really added to Alex’s life.  And Charli was pretty cool.  I loved how important she was to Alex, and how he was just so enthralled with her, but he eventually learned the importance of the dad role.

I did notice that occasionally things would happen that didn’t make sense in the timeline that was in my head, but perhaps that will change in the final copy.  It’s just that sometimes some events would be only days apart when I’d been given the impression it was more like a few weeks.

On a weird side note, I was surprised that none of the girls knew what hemophilia was, since I did…but I did an internet poll, and while the majority of my friends did know, there were a few that didn’t so I can accept it.

All in all I’m really loving this series.  I sincerely can’t wait for Sophie’s story if it’s anything like the first two.

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