Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Virgin Territory by Lia Riley (Hellion Angels #3)

 Rating: ★★★ +.5 | 149 pages  | Avon Impulse | Contemporary Romance | 03/06/18

I’m a sucker for the virgin hero trope, it’s a rare one and I really like it in M/F romance because it subverts the typical gender expectations and adds an interesting power dynamic to the relationship.

After getting into a bar fight with a scummy lawyer, hot-headed pro hockey goalie Patrick “Patch” Donnelly is assigned to take meditation classes from the high-spirited yoga teacher Margot Kowalski. She’s supposed to show him how to find peace of mind, but after a few weeks together she may have found a piece of his heart.

The lust between the characters is sparked on their first meeting and they take care of the whole virgin hero thing real quick, it's not much of a conflict in the story. The hero and heroine complement each other well as they navigate their budding relationship. There are some fun antics and even a B-story about Patch being sued for something he didn’t do, that was like a mini legal drama embedded in the romance.

Perfect for a one sitting read, Virgin Territory is a shortie but a goodie!

I was kind of annoyed that in the opening scene where Margot is in one of those cafes that doesn’t allow patrons to use their screens. I would never go into one of these. No coffee shop can tell me if I can have a phone or laptop out.

Received as part of the Avon Addicts program! 

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Blood Guard by Megan Erickson (Mission #1)

Note:  I started this book before all the Santino Hassell revelations came out. I’m not sure what Erickson's involvement was in any of it and how much she knew, but I do think I’ll be taking a break from reviewing her titles after this one.

Rating: ★★ | 213 pages  | Loveswept (Random House) | Paranormal Romance | 9/12/17 

Tendra Parrish thought she had a pretty normal life until it's turned upside down by the appearance of Athan Gregorie--a 7 foot vampire who informs her that her blood is part of an ancient vampire prophecy and if she doesn't get her blood to the vampire prince all of humanity will be enslaved by evil vampires. As you do. It's Athan's sacred duty to guard her on the journey to the vampire prince but along the way, she finds herself more attracted to her guard than her fated prince.

Okay, so I’m going to use the T-word.

I haven’t actually read any vampire romance except Twilight and it turns out...I’m just not that into it. I just can’t get into the blood thing. Every time Athan came near her body with his fanged mouth I was just like:

Also, the conflict felt kind of cartoon-y. Tendra is basically a McGuffin and I never understood why the bad vampires wanted to enslave humanity. The good and bad vampires have managed to live literally thousands of years without enslaving humans. The humans who know about vampires willingly give their blood and take pleasure from it so it's not like they are in danger of losing their supply. Also, these vampires can't go out in the daytime which I think would make it pretty hard to control humans.

 I’m already a hard sell on paranormal elements and could just never fully engage with this one.


Wednesday, April 11, 2018

No Earls Allowed By Shana Galen

Rating: ★★★★ | 354 pages | Sourcebooks Casablanca | Historical | 3/6/2018

In his nightmares Major Neil Wraxall is still battling the violent war that took the lives of his men and his only brother.  He may have come home a war hero but as an illegitimate son, he is at the beck and call of his father; who assigns Neil the impossible task of bringing the headstrong Lady Juliana back home from the rundown Sunnybrooke Home For Wayward Boys and the twelve rambunctious orphans she is trying to keep in order. Juliana isn't going anywhere . . . so neither is Neil, who soon finds himself whipping the motley crew of boys into shape.

(In other news, I  just got the title of this book...Get it? It's about a home for boys?  No girls allowed. Also, I don't think there are any Earls in this book...Wraxall's father is a Marquess. . . )

No Earls Allowed sort of had the feel of a fun 80's rompy comedy as Neil uses his military know how to get the wayward boys in order . . .while also foiling a corruption plot? I don't usually go for books with kids in them, but there is something endearing about the flurry of chaos that erupts with everyone under one roof.

This series is all about self-assured war heroes meeting their match with plucky headstrong heroines and Lady Juliana is no exception.  Lady Juliana is determined to turn Sunnybrooke into a real home and while she accepts Neil's help, she refuses to let any of the boys slip out of her protection.

Did I mention that this book has a virgin hero? I don't think it's that big of a spoiler because it doesn't have anything to do with the plot and is revealed early on. Knowing the difficulties of being an illegitimate child Neil never wanted to risk having one of his own. His choice to abstain is because of social constraints, something we usually only think about with women and I think it's worth noting Galen applies this to the hero.

 A heartwarming romance that isn't afraid to bring the heat.

This isn't the first virgin hero I've read from Galen. The Making of A Gentlemen also features one but he was like. . . locked up in prison since he was a child.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Off Base By Annabeth Albert

Rating: ★★★★ | 8 hrs 9 min | Carina Press| M/M Contemporary| 1/09/2017 | Buy Now!

Off Base is my first foray into M/M romance. I've been wanting to read M/M for awhile and  I've been hesitant about non #ownvoices, because the idea of a subgenre that is generally accepted as being, written by straight women about gay men for straight women. just made me unsure. But I've heard good things about Annabeth Albert and this series has won a few audiobook awards, so I was ready to jump in.

IZack Nelson is the good son. He has made his parents proud by moving to California and becoming a Navy SEAL. But on the inside, Zack is struggling to confront his sexuality. Even though he is serving in a post-DADT military he is still confronted with homophobic jokes by the men who are supposed to have his back.

Needing some space, Zack decides to move on off base (oh, I get the title) to a house in need of a serious renovation. He agrees to take acquaintance Pike Reynolds-- a smart, vocal out-and-proud math professor and home repair expert--on as a roommate. The two work together on the house but soon Pike is doing a rehab of his own on the tough SEAL.  As Pike slowly gets Zack to open up, their bond becomes a safe haven f, but can they ever explore the possibility of being together outside the four walls of the house they share?

The house is sort of like a third character in this book (Yeah, I said it) because it serves as this sort of refugee for the Pike and Zack. It's a safe place for Zack to explore his feelings while not having to confront them, which becomes the main emotional crux of the book.  Pike is also dealing with his career taking a turn he didn't expect, but I found his plot pretty predictable. Zack steals the show in this one.

The book doesn't glamorize Navy SEALs, there are no clandestine missions or doors being broken down. The harassment and blackmail Zack has to deal with is handled very seriously and methodically in this book, I am curious how much of this is pulled from true stories.

Narrator Tyler Stevens does an amazing job and he gets real emphatic during emotional scenes. You can just tell he is really getting into it. I'm kind of sad to find out he only does one book in this series.

 Zack is 23 years-old and I think Pike is supposed to be a bit older but to me this skewed as New Adult. The characters are finding their place in the world and no one has a ton of money to throw around.

I'm just going to say it. I really dislike the name Pike. It just made me think about Starbucks.

An emotional character driven military novel with a slow-burning romance and unbeatable odds.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

How The Cowboy Was Won by Lori Wilde (Cupid, Texas #6)

Rating: +.5 | 3/2/2018 | 384 pages | Avon | Contemporary | Cupid, Texas  #6

After a bitter divorce Ember Azalte is back in her hometown of Cupid, Texas where she’s fashioned herself into something of a matchmaker. Her current prospect is Ranger Lockhart, her childhood best friend now brother-in-law back in town from a year abroad. A year away has made Ranger realize he only has eyes for Ember...if only he could tell her that without ruining their lifelong friendship.

As I’m sure 90% of you have already put together, yes, yes this is an Emma inspired romance.

I’ve been reading a lot of Lori Wilde for Avon Addicts and she writes playfully warm contemporary romances with a little Texas twang. I loved that Ember was an impulsive extrovert who existed opposite the more introverted and pragmatic Ranger who (as I’m sure you tell by the cover) is a post doc astrobiologist. Their life-long friendship felt authentic. This is also a slo-o-o-ow burn romance, like they don’t get together as a couple until like 90% in and then it moves at a  break neck pace as they go  almost immediately to the black moment and HEA.

All that said, the way in which this book used Native American culture feels incredibly cringe-y. Ember is half Apache and we get a lot of the spiritual parts of Native Americans without any real nuance. I understand half-Native is a common trope in western romances but there are just a few moments where characters make rude comments towards Native Americans and it's kind of treated like nothing. The worst is a flashback where as children Ember and Ranger are playing with a knife and Ranger’s stepmom sees them and says Ember is trying to scalp Ranger and I’m just like wow, we’re really going to have a character make a racist statement and just blow over it ? Was it supposed to be funny to the reader ?

I’m not saying authors needs to write political thinkpieces but you just can’t strip a culture down to it’s pretty mytiscal parts. Ranger has this minor backstory about being sick as a child that you don’t really need so I don’t see they couldn’t stick in some of the cultural back story with Ember. In the book Ember has been recruited to make a tourist film about the town’s white founders. Why not make it about the Native American that used to live there ?

Maybe this stuff is fleshed out better in the other books about Ember’s relatives, but I’m rating this one and while the book was passable I have to drop it a star because this stuff bothered me. It’s 2018, ya’ll.

ARC received as part of the Avon Addicts program

Monday, March 19, 2018

Book Blitz: Unearth Me by Grey


Unearthing is the act of discovering something hidden, lost or kept secret by probing, investigating or digging.

Kirklynn Sayers, 34-year-old renowned therapist of Huffington Mill, has mastered every aspect of her life except love. She refuses to refer to herself as a hopeless romantic, simply, because she’s lost interest in finding it, altogether. Unsympathetic about her shallow hopes of partnership, she buries the hatchet and focuses on creating a legacy and defying the stigma attached to therapists as herself.

Heath Benedict, 26 years old and the newest heir of the Benedict throne, is still suffering from the death of his grandfather years prior. Though he was blessed with a budding empire as a result of it, Harold Benedict’s death unsealed wounds that he’d covered for Heath’s sanity and protection. Heath has the world at the tip of his fingers, but the feeling of inadequacy is keeping him from accessing it.

From the day he took charge of Benedict and Associates, Heath has only been content with one aspect of the company... access to Kirklynn Sayers. He, soon, discovers that her wholesomeness is the key to unlock his sanity. While she tries to solve his issues of inadequacy through treatment, Heath reveals that there’s only one way to heal him. Submission.

Kirklynn refuses to submit and jeopardize her career, leaving Heath with no choice but to force his hand. Journey through a story of uncertainty as the two struggle to unearth their most sacred aspirations while undressing one another in the process.

Purchase on Amazon  | Add to Goodreads

Grey Huffington, evoking emotions through raw, heart-piercing Romance.

Between the pages and through the bleeding ink of my pen, I urge to create whimsical stories that depict the truth about black love with relative situations, circumstances, and characters. Grey is a penman derived from a deeper desire to tell of less complex, circumstantial, stereotyped, and biased stories of black and interracial love. My goal is to highlight the misconception that black love stories can be everything BUT pleasant, joyful, everlasting, and beautiful.

Follow Grey:


Sunday, March 11, 2018

A Princess In Theory By Alyssa Cole

Rating: ★★★★ | 354 pages | Avon | Contemporary / Royalty | 2/27/2018 

A Princess In Theory is a humorous and delightful  kick-off to Alyssa Cole's Reluctant Royals series. Naledi Smith has a ton to juggle between grad school, lab work and waitressing--the last thing she needs is to get caught up with Jamal, the cute guy at work who just happens to be her new neighbor.

... except Jamal isn't who he say he is, he is actually Prince Thabsio, the crown prince of Thesolo who has gone undercover to meet the girl he was bethored to as a child. Thabsio gets more than he bargained for with Naledi --- but can he tell her who he really is before it's too late ?

In a lot of ways this book was exactly what I thought it would be, but I wasn't expecting this book to be so funny ! A lot of the initial humor comes from Thabiso's early interactions with Ledi. It's this comedy of manners as he tries to be blend in as a regular American guy. It hits all the moments you want to see in a romance like this and is filled with memorable side characters.

I also like that Alyssa Cole threw in cute little expys for real life things like there is a food delivery service called "Yellow Spoon" and "Instaphoto" is a popular social media platform . I gather these are going to keep showing up in the wold of these books. I'm also pretty sure Regina's , Ledi's best friend's sister, website GirlWithGlasses is an expy of BlackGirlNerds ! I hope Regina gets to be the heroine of a book.

As you can imagine when you have a hero lying to a heroine you want a good grovel, and don't worry we get a pretty good one here.Look, I'm going to be honest,  the book didn't completely land the ending. There was an intrigue plot that popped up and was really easy to figure out. I really just wanted was more of the cute Brooklyn love story from the first half of the book.

So, if you're looking for a book that features STEM, African Royalty and female characters who are crushin' it--and you've already seen Black Panther five times--A Princess In Theory is everything you want, and that is a fact ! 

*ARC received for review