Kentucky Bride by Norah Hess

19217587

Blurb: Fleeing her abusive uncle, young D’lise Alexander trusts no man—until she is rescued by trapper Kane Devlin. There, amid the simple pleasures of cornhusking and barn raisings, she comes to recognize that the deep affection she holds for her savior is true love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

scr2557-proj697-a-kindle-logo-w-rgb-lg

images

3.5 stars

I know. The cover right?  Sometimes I love these cheesy romances.  This was kinda one of those times.  This book was soooo slow.I mean, I liked the story, especially the slow simmer.  Which would have been required due to the early content in this book but it was like watching paint dry in some parts.  And the constant misunderstanding started to grate on my nerves.  I received this book for free through my Kindle for Samsung app. (great app!)

I’m partial to historical romances and equally partial to rescuees falling for rescuers, which is obviously one of those stories.  This was my first trip into Norah Hess’ work and also into this time frame.  I would absolutely read more in this time frame but I don’t think I have the patience to get through another long descriptive book like this  one right now.

It seemed each day was described and he timeline didn’t vary; i.e. flashbacks or others POV’s.  It was very linear and there wasn’t much of a subplot or it was so predictable as to seem non-existent. Which caused me to take many breaks while reading this.  It was also very predictable and while I do love those from time to time, this one kinda fell flat for me.

I think in the end the predictability of the book is what saved it for me.  Since I knew how it was going to go, I finished it.  And as I got through the second half the time seemed to pick up a bit too. Like I said I liked the story, it just took a while to get to the meat of it.

Curly Carla_small

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.**

images     scr2557-proj697-a-kindle-logo-w-rgb-lg

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*

Lenoreo_small

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.

 

 

images     scr2557-proj697-a-kindle-logo-w-rgb-lg

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.

Lenoreo_small

Waking Up Alive by Emma Shortt

Blurb:
28012875After surviving the zombie apocalypse for two years, Tye LeBow never expected to be saved from a hungry gang of zombies by a geek with a bad attitude and a penchant for explosives. Tye can’t quite work out why scientist Polly Parker saved him. She doesn’t want his protection, and she certainly doesn’t want his company. But Tye has no intention of leaving the beguiling geek behind.

Polly doesn’t want to leave her home, but when the wakers begin to show signs of a burgeoning intelligence, heading south is the only option. With a car packed full of homemade explosives, and Tye’s very large axe, they are ready for the road trip of their lives.

Bombs and blades aren’t the only keys to survival–they’ll need to rely on each other, in a way that neither could have imagined…

images     scr2557-proj697-a-kindle-logo-w-rgb-lg

My Review:
3.5 stars — I moved this book up on my TBR b/c I’m trying to read books featuring black characters for black history month, and from the cover I assumed Tye was black.  I feel like there are different reasons for having diverse characters, and if your reasons are to see things from the perspective of someone of a different race (in this case black), then I’m afraid you’d be disappointed.  It really didn’t come into play at all.  Perhaps because it’s the zombie apocalypse, and race is the least of anyone’s worries.  It’s also just nice to have representation, which is the other reason to have diverse characters, and this would have worked for that.

So after that long winded paragraph, I was definitely entertained by this novel, but it never succeeded in truly sucking me in.  Everything was just good for me, but not great.  Well, except maybe Tye.  He was such a sweet but still badass guy.  Polly was a bit harder to fall in love with, an I must say that I don’t think I ever really did.  I enjoyed her, she was likable, but I tend to gravitate towards snark and sass, and Polly lacked most basic social skills.  There was one point where Tye talks about her sense of humour, and I thought to myself “what sense of humour?”  I guess I like to see it, rather than be told it exists.

If you’re looking for a romance, I would say that Polly and Tye’s may not quite satisfy you.  It was definitely sweet, and I really did feel a connection between them, but it didn’t give me butterflies.  And it’s not because there were only maybe a few light kisses, it was more just that Polly is such an odd character internally that I was just never swept off my feet and believed her tummy flips.  I will say that their connection as companions is FANTASTIC.  I really felt how much they needed each other and cared for each other.  Not sure if I’m making any sense, b/c that probably sounds contradictory.  It was like more than friends, but I didn’t quite get any sexual chemistry (which can exist even in clean reads).

Now as far as a zombie book goes, I thoroughly enjoyed the action, suspense, and overall questions of how one would survive and what would that do to the people left.  I will note that I don’t read many zombie books, so I cannot give a comparison to what is out there.  And I also did not read book 1 in this series, but other than making me a bit curious about Jackson and Luke’s story, I didn’t feel I missed anything.

I enjoyed the different reactions to the zombies that both Polly and Tye had, and how they viewed those people.  I was actually intrigued to see a view into the zombies thought processes, I hadn’t been expecting that, and I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel, but in the end I felt it worked for the book.

I’m not sure if I will read more in the series.  If I didn’t have a HUGE TBR, I definitely would.  But given I do have too many books to read, if I don’t get to it I won’t be heartbroken.

Lenoreo_small

Jacked Up by Samantha Kane

Blurb:

32506423The secret about the Birmingham Rebels is out: With a girl in the middle, two mouth-watering football studs are better than one.

Linebacker Sam Taylor feels like a ticking time bomb. He left the army with emotional wounds as fresh as the scars on his back. Sam’s been living like a monk, but his best friend, defensive lineman King Ulupoka, wants to get him laid. Easy for him to say. The larger-than-life Samoan is a hard-bodied, tribal-tattooed fantasy. Sam agrees, under one condition: King stays to watch.

ER nurse Jane Foster is done being a good girl, and nothing says wild like picking up two of football’s sexiest players and bringing them back to your hotel room. Trouble is, she can’t decide which one she wants more. Sam is hot, sweet, and vulnerable. Jane’s more than willing to ride him into oblivion. But King’s intense gaze from across the room promises that the best is yet to come.

Sure, King has had his choice of girls and guys in the past. That doesn’t mean he’ll jeopardize his relationship with Sam over a case of locker-room lust—until a naughty nurse pushes them both out of their comfort zones. Seeing Jane and Sam together turns King on more than he ever imagined. If they’re game, he’s ready to tackle a three-way play.

images     scr2557-proj697-a-kindle-logo-w-rgb-lg

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

I’ve read a few books in Ms. Kane’s historical menage series (Brothers in Arms) and really enjoyed them, and this modern series is quite entertaining as well!  It had some intriguing characters, a bit of depth (which is always nice for an erotica read), and obviously some hot sex.  And I enjoyed the little glimpses of either past book characters, or potential next book characters in the series.  It’s always fun when a series follows a close knit group of characters, in this case all being involved in the same fictional NFL football team.

I adored King.  I loved that he brought a little bit of diversity with his Samoan heritage, and I didn’t feel as though he was a caricature.  But he was so laid back and accepting, I just wanted to hug him for always thinking the right things and helping Sam and Jane get to the right places.

Sam was a bit up and down for me.  I LOVED the military background story we got with him, and he was so damaged and vulnerable, but willing to make baby steps and try to change and grow and slowly embrace the changes.  I loved some of his conversations with the team psych, Mark.  Heck, I loved some of King’s conversations with Mark too.  But he just brought this book from normal erotica to something with more depth and interest, if that makes sense.

And then there’s Jane.  *sigh*  She was a tough character to love, b/c she spent a lot of the book slut-shaming herself.  And I really don’t deal well with that, but it was kind of the topic of the book and something she was supposed to be learning to deal with and changing and growing about.  But there was just so fricking much of it, it was hard to take.  And it took her so long to learn, and I’m still not sure she really did and accepted it as much.  For all that self-flagellation, I was hoping for more of an obvious breakthrough I guess.  And other than that I’m not sure I really learned enough about her to like her a lot.  Not that I disliked her, she just didn’t make a big impression.  Although I did love how she handled Sam, and his issues from the PTSD to being confused about being bi.

And now onto the major aspect of any good menage erotica: the steamy scenes!!  And oh my gawd, they were a contradiction.  They were sooooo hot sometimes, like really woosh.  And then they would start talking.  And quite frankly, the dirty talking just didn’t work for me in this book.   It might have been just me, but it was just too comical at times.  I know it was supposed to be, but then it just felt forced to me.  Like how I would sound dirty talking.  Like from a script or something.  It was just a personal taste thing.  And it was pervasive through every steamy scene, so it was a mix of good and bad I guess.

So in the end it was a solid erotica, but the little things (like the dirty talking and the slut shaming) just have me rounding down instead of up this time.

Lenoreo_small

It’s You, Book Two by K.P. Kelley

Blurb:

33387588The second book in New York Times bestselling author Katy Regnery’s first duo of paranormal romances!

HAPPILY EVER AFTER…
To some, they’re just words signifying a fairytale ending.
For me, Jack Beauloup, they represent an unyielding desire:
Forever with Darcy Turner, the unexpected love of my life.
A love that has placed her human life in danger.

According to Pack Law, my binding is an abomination that must be severed.
It’s ignited a fiery hatred that I must confront and control.
But what is bound cannot be broken.
I will keep Darcy safe.
Even if it means giving up on my dreams.
Even if it means giving up my life.

images     scr2557-proj697-a-kindle-logo-w-rgb-lg

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

Well hmmm…this is a tough one.  As I’m writing this up, I still don’t know whether I will round up or down.  I enjoyed a lot of this book, was hooked into the romance and action and mythology of the paranormal aspect.  But I also had a few qualms, a few niggles.  It wasn’t quite as satisfying as I’d hoped, and some parts went in directions that I wasn’t entirely happy with (from a personal taste perspective).

So what was I happy with?  I still really loved how unique this take on a shifter story was.  I enjoyed the concept of the Roux-ga-roux and the way Ms. Kelley really made it her own, and blended in the Métis culture and superstitions.  It extended from what was in the first book and remained fairly consistent.

I also really enjoyed that the immediate conflict which ended book one on a bit of a climax was actually dealt with pretty quickly in book two, and was not dragged out.  I loved that we got more good, loving, romantic time with Darcy and Jack, and not just conflict.

What was I less than happy with?  A bunch of little things that kind of added up.  1) There were a few spots (particularly in some steamy scenes) where the POV jumped from Darcy to Jack from one paragraph to the next.  When I’m reading dual POVs, I’m happiest when it’s very clear whose POV I’m reading, and there are clear delineations between them (like chapters or at least breaks).  2) I wasn’t happy with the eventual explanation of the time loss.  I felt it was kind of cheap and didn’t make sense, and if the author wasn’t going to delve into it and make it more clear, then it should have been left out altogether.  There were enough interesting and unique paranormal aspects that it wasn’t needed.  I almost felt similarly about the rash/burns, but I can live with that one.  It just kind of felt lost in the shuffle of book two.  3) I wasn’t happy with the resolution with Willow and Amory…did they tell Amory?  Is he in the dark?  How did they explain everything????  4) I wasn’t happy with the glossing over of Willow’s Enchanteresse stuff.  If you’re going to make it part of the plot, give it some lip service, otherwise it feels very plot device-ish.

SPOILERY PARAGRAPH!!!!  I will hide this on Goodreads, and remove from my Amazon review, but please just don’t read unless you’ve read the book!!!!  YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!!!  5) I was a little disappointed the biology/moss stuff didn’t go anywhere.  It was so foreshadowed, and I really thought she was going to have some breakthrough.  That could have been cool.  6) I really wanted Jack to take out Saint Germain, or show them there was another way, and more clearly break from the pack, though I suppose that would be too dangerous.  7) I wasn’t happy with the amount of sexual propositioning that seemed to happen between unbound Rougs (Julien with Willow, even though he had feelings for Lela, and Tombeur reacting to Darcy, even though he loved Tallis).  I guess this goes along with 6 a bit, in that I kind of thought they were just broken, and Jack and Darcy were the new way (what with all the cheating even in bound couples). 8) I WANTED LOUVETEAUS DAMNIT!!!  ie that epilogue was not nearly satisfying enough.

SPOILERY PARAGRAPH FINISHED!!!

I still wasn’t a big fan of Darcy.  I loved Jack way more, so I was constantly mad at Darcy’s actions.  Although at least Jack kind of screwed up going too far with the keep his distance stuff, so he wasn’t perfect.  But I was never quite happy with how she saw the Roug stuff, and how disgusted she was even by the animals.  I never fully believed that she accepted him (and I guess he didn’t really either).  And I am not a fan of couples that are so bad at communication.  Seriously, I get that neither of you have had much for relationships, but COME ON!!  *sigh*  It’s just a personal taste thing, not my favourite.

So yeah, it looks like a lot of bad, but they’re honestly not big things in the grand scheme of things, just annoyances, you know?  But there were just so many…round up, round down, round up, round down.  But OMG people the emotions in this book were actually pretty amazing!!  My heart broke for Jack on so many occasions, he just grabbed your heart and twisted it!!  *sigh*  My life is so hard.  This one really is a solid 3.5 stars.  I’ll decide on a whim I guess.

Lenoreo_small

 

Why Not? by Carey Heywood

Blurb:

33139808He doesn’t love me.
Our relationship wasn’t supposed to have strings.
Now he’s almost all I think about.
He changed everything.
I’m not ready to tell him.
There’s a chance he’ll blame me when I do.
I don’t know if I can trust him but I’m afraid to face the future alone.
Will he ever love me, or will he always love me not?

images     scr2557-proj697-a-kindle-logo-w-rgb-lg

 

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

Oh dear.  This book did not have a good start for me.  Not the prologue, that was cute.  But chapter 1 dives right in to the steamy scenes, and it was just too abrupt for me.  I felt like I was missing something, and since I haven’t yet read the previous two books in the series, I initially wondered if I should have read them first to get the full value.  After finishing the book, I don’t think that’s the case, I think it just wasn’t a beginning that worked for me personally.  Diving into sex so quickly, I had absolutely NO connection with the characters, and thus I personally did not feel any chemistry in that scene whatsoever.  I guess I’m just the kind of girl who likes to see the MCs interact a bit, maybe talk a bit, before getting into things.  *shrugs*  I like hot sex, but when it happens before we’ve even seen them have much of a conversation, I just can’t get into it.  It’s just sex then, nothing more, which is OK for eroticas, but not a romance.  So yeah, it just did NOT work for me.  I was seriously dismayed and it was hovering at a 2 star or less at this point.

But I kept reading, and it slowly got better.  I think I see why Ms. Heywood went with a beginning like that.  It was quite intentional that their relationship start as a hookup turned friends-with-benefits turned more kind of thing.  In the end it was kind of an intriguing developing relationship to watch, it just might not be for *me*, you know?  While I did start to feel their connection more and more as the book went on, there is still a part of me that felt like I wanted more of what drew them together.  Because it was insta-lust, and so much of what had them together at the beginning was the amazing sex, I felt like I was later told about what they liked about each other more than seeing it.  Part of that had to do with the skips in time.  We’d be going along, seeing some development, and then bam it would be a few weeks or months later.  This happened a few times, and I felt like we ended up losing out on seeing their relationship develop a bit.

So how did I get to a 3.5 star (rounded down) when it started off so badly for me?  Well like I said, the book got better.  I found that the bits we did get to see of Trip and Reilly together were quite cute, and I really loved the way Trip eventually was with Reilly.  He became very swoonworthy as the book went on.  And the secondary characters and the MCs relationship with those secondary characters were absolutely top notch.  I’m actually very curious to catch up on the first 2 books now, b/c I loved seeing Jake and Kacey and Sydney and Heath together.  And Gavin was just the most swoonworthy boy, his blushes have ruined me for life.  And quite frankly I adored Trip’s Mom and Sadie and the whole compound they have.

And hoo boy did I cry in this one.  I was not expecting the tragedy, and it seriously fucking killed me.  I’m so glad no one came to the door while I was reading that part b/c I was exercising at the same time and I probably looked like a read-eyed, snot-nosed, messy haired freak.  And I adored the aftermath of the tragedy, and Reilly’s healing.  Seriously well done.  AND DUDES!  We got a fantastic huge long pre-epiloguetastic ending.  I love seeing HEAs, so I really loved that we got all that.

So the second half of the book was basically 4 star goodness for me, with a couple of little quirks that make it want to dip down, and a few amazing bits that want to make it tip up.  So I settled with 3.5 rounded down.  This really seems to be a case of it’s me, so I can’t honestly say how everyone else will feel about it.  All I can say is that if you’re struggling with the beginning, please do as I did and hold on.  I definitely think it was worth it.  ❤

Lenoreo_small

Welcome Home for Christmas by Annie Rains

Blurb:
31349355The bestselling Hero’s Welcome series continues with a juicy Christmas romance, a short novel set in Seaside, North Carolina, where the bustling military base keeps this small town stocked with dedicated, lovable heroes.

Three-hundred-and-sixty-four days a year, Allison Carmichael doesn’t mind being single. It sure beats dating another loser, and it keeps her heart safe. Then there’s that three-hundred-and-sixty-fifth day: Christmas Eve, the traditional time her entire family gathers together—and gangs up on her, demanding to know when she’s going to get married. This year, she swears, is going be different. And that’s why, at a charity auction she’s throwing on-base, she buys herself a man.

Sergeant Troy Matthews insists that he’s not for sale. His time is, though, and he’s happy to donate it. Happier still when he learns the identity of the winning bidder: the redhead with the killer good looks and smart mouth who runs the veteran’s center. Allison needs Troy’s help to fool her family into believing they’re an item, and he’s all too happy to indulge her. But by the time Christmas Eve rolls around, their little charade is working a little too well . . . because Troy’s falling head over heels.

images     scr2557-proj697-a-kindle-logo-w-rgb-lg

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

This was a good Christmas romance, but for me personally it was just missing something to give it that extra punch.  I think I just wasn’t that drawn in by either Allison or Troy.  Allison felt kind of stiff, and I tend to be more attracted to heroines with a bit of sass.  She just felt kind of dry or something.  And could be a little…uppity? or something.  I don’t know, she just occasionally rubbed me the wrong way with her reactions and things.

And Troy may have had a bit more sparkle to his personality, but I couldn’t always get a handle on who he was.  He’s supposed to be this playboy, but I’m not sure I really felt it.  It felt like I was told that he broke a lot of hearts, but I didn’t really get why.

It wasn’t all humdrum.  I enjoyed some of the memory sharing they did about their pasts, and Troy’s reluctance to go home for Christmas was a pretty good side story.  And the chemistry was pretty good between them.  *sigh*  I guess it was all just good, not great you know?

So yeah.  It was entertaining, but left me a little underwhelmed at the end.

Lenoreo_small

More Than Friends by Jody Holford

Blurb:
33245968Owen Burnett planned on a quiet, easygoing Christmas, hanging out with his best friend and neighbor, Gabby Michaelson. So when his mom pressures him to come home for the holidays, he tells a little white lie…that he’s spending the holidays with his new girlfriend. But when his family shows up unexpectedly, Owen pulls the best friend card and asks Gabby to play his fake girlfriend.

Gabby’s been hopelessly in love with her best friend Owen for what feels like forever, but playing his “fake” girlfriend when the entire boisterous Burnett clan visits is easier said than done. The more she tries to deny the attraction between them, the more obvious their chemistry becomes. But even though she’s not the only one feeling it, putting their friendship on the line is a risk she can’t take.

images     scr2557-proj697-a-kindle-logo-w-rgb-lg

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

So I’m the kind of reader that loves to get absorbed into a book, and read in a pretty short time period.  And thus this read kind of suffered for me b/c I read it with a big interruption in the middle (I was on vacation).  So on a different occasion, this might have been a solid 4 star read, but I’m going to stick with my gut on this one anyways.

First of all, I will say that the cover is completely misleading.  I totally thought this was going to be a small town type of Christmas read, and this one was actually set in Boston.  Not really a big deal, but it’s nice when the cover actually gives you a feel for the book, and after reading it, I just don’t feel like this one is accurate at all (doesn’t really represent the characters either).

Gabby was pretty freaking adorable.  I was torn on Gabby’s background with her parents.  It gave me tears sometimes when she was enjoying Christmas with Owen’s family and missing hers, but the whole not wanting to lie because of it felt tacked on as more of a plot device.

Owen was pretty awesome too, if a bit oblivious.  And he made some monumentally stupid decisions, but I still thought he was pretty awesome overall.

I was surprised by the short length of their best friendship.  Usually when I think of best friends to lovers stories, it’s with friends who have been friends for a LONG time, and these two only knew each other for like 2 years.  Made me wonder more about how the friendship developed and what it was like before this wrench was thrown in.  I almost would have liked a bit more background or something.

They definitely had great chemistry, though this was a sweeter book than I had been expecting…which isn’t a bad thing, I just hadn’t anticipated that, so I was kept on tenterhooks for most of the book.  But I will say I loved the ending I love you scene!!  So many feels.  It was just perfect.

Owen’s family was da bomb.  Truly.  I loved them in all their quirkiness.  Made it a bit hard to understand Owen’s reluctance to spend Christmas with them, but then I had to remind myself it was all the strangers that he was mostly opposed to.

Definitely some intriguing secondary characters in the building….made me want to read both Wyatt and Brady’s books, assuming they both have them.  But at times it did feel like some of those secondary plot lines didn’t fit with the rest of the story, and were mostly there to drive intrigue for the next stories.  The whole Jake (his name was Jake right?) stealing thing and the police just felt so out of place…it didn’t add ANYTHING to Owen and Gabby’s story.  I don’t mind learning about the other tenants so I’ll want to read the next book, but I prefer it when it’s more seamless with the main storyline so it doesn’t feel tacked on.

All in all a great Christmas read.  One I probably would have enjoyed even more if I had been able to stay absorbed in the story, but alas, Disney was calling.  🙂

Lenoreo_small

Maybe This Kiss by Jennifer Snow

Blurb:
31560190Love is always worth the risk . . .

Neil Healy was happy to be promoted to Air Force Lieutenant, but he’s less than thrilled that the new job has brought him back to his hometown. The memories alone could kill a man, to say nothing of actually seeing the woman he never got over. Neil knew avoiding Becky Westmore would be impossible, but he didn’t expect the chemistry between them to be as strong as ever.

All Becky wants this holiday season is to get through the month of December with her sanity intact. Not helping? Her ex-boyfriend’s return to Glenwood Falls. Even after a decade apart, Neil still makes her feel in ways no other man has. But Christmas is a time for miracles, and maybe Becky’s will be a second chance at first love.

images     scr2557-proj697-a-kindle-logo-w-rgb-lg

hohohorat2016button

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

Well hmmm…so this one didn’t hit it out of the park with me.  I’m still trying to figure out why.  I think I just wasn’t totally enamoured with the characters, you know?  Like on paper they were both good characters, but I didn’t feel that connection with them at the start.  And so it was slow to hook me in.  I think I wasn’t big on how frazzled Becky was, but how she wouldn’t ask for help…she made me feel tired.  I was missing some sass there too.  It’s not a bad thing, it’s just something that is a guaranteed love thing for me personally as a reader, and I wasn’t feeling it.  I thought her daughter was pretty hilarious, and her brothers intrigued me, but she was missing some sparkle.  And unfortunately my opinion of her went down before it went up.  I wasn’t really impressed with how she dealt with her relationship with Neil in the past, I couldn’t understand what drew them together if they were so very different.

It was kind of the same for Neil.  He didn’t get my book boyfriend juices going at the beginning.  He was kind of blah.  He didn’t seem to like Colorado or the snow at all, and as a Northern girl who has to deal with people complaining about the weather all the time, I often wonder why they don’t just move.  So I wasn’t sure why he came back, unless he didn’t have a choice in where he was based out of?

And even their initial chemistry…I mean, I felt some of it, but it was sooo…reluctant?  So much past clouding over, that I couldn’t hop on the train you know?  Which is not a bad thing, just not a thing that this particular reader enjoys as much.

BUT.  But.  The book picked up.  I started to see more dimension in both characters.  I got some sweet moments.  I got to see more expansion on what drew them together.  And the steamy scenes drew me in more.  There was still conflict, but I was ok with how that all played out in the end — not too much unnecessary drama or dragging things out.  It ended a bit abruptly (there’s a teaser for the next book at the end, so be warned it ends sooner than you think), and I would have ideally liked an epilogue or something, but I was still happy with how things played out.  I was worried it was going to go one way, but it didn’t.

So yeah.  It ended stronger than it started for me.  And I will say that reading the teaser of the next book, I think I might enjoy those characters more…I was already more intrigued.  Good thing I have that ARC burning a hole in my pocket as well!!  I’m going to be hard pressed not to move on to it right away…I have to decide now.

Lenoreo_small