Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Celebrate Flag Day With These Romance Novel Covers !

Did you know today was  Flag Day ?  Whatever the flag means to you, it's time to wave it in the air like you don't care. But if you're like me and don't have a star-spangled banner lying around just download these steamy romances with American flags blowing majestically on the cover and wave them around shouting U-S-A  !

The Protector by Donna Grant - An ex-Air Force pilot and Marine captain team up to solve a kidnapping.
Prince Joe by  Suzanne Brockman - A combat hardened Navy Seal is paired with a coach to help him impersonate a visiting European prince with a target on his back.
Issued to the Bride One Navy Seal by Cora Seton - A down on his luck Navy Seal is sent to help the General's daughter run the family ranch
Damned American! by Melian Belt
A U.S. Navy Captain and Italian soldier have to team up on an undercover mission
Point of Contact by Melanie Hansesn
The father of a fallen soldier finds unexpected comfort in his son's platoon mate.
Be Not Afraid by Alyssa Cole
A pair of slaves join  the Revolutionary War in exchange for their freedom.
Her Perfect Candidate by Candace Shaw 
A Georgia senator recruits an interior designer to clean up his image
Dirty Work by Chelle Bliss and Brenda Rorthert 
An enemies to lovers romance between a Republican and Democrat fighting for the same senate seat.
Deadly Rumors by Cheris Hodges 
An investigator teams up with an FBI agent to solve a missing person's case. 

I searched hard and long for covers with American flags, if there are any I missed leave them in the comments below !  (Also, no. No I didn't write this post during the Winter Olympics and then forgot to post it.)

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Disorderly Conduct by Tessa Bailey

Rating:  | 8 hours 23 minutes | 354 pages | Avon | Contemporary Romance | 8/29/2017

This review is going to involve some ranting.

23-year-old caterer Ever Carmichael and NYPD recruit Charlie Burns had the perfect acquaintances-with-benefits thing going on. But when Ever breaks things off so she can give the NYC dating scene a serious try, Charlie isn’t ready to let her go.

I had a hard time with these characters, Ever never felt like a fully realized heroine to me but she didn't bother me nearly as much as Charlie. Charlie Burns is on some Zack Morris Is Trash level of immaturity and gaslighting. He decides to start systematically ruining Ever’s dates so she’ll come back to him. He sends his police academy friends to act creepy at a speed dating event, catfishes her on a dating site and at one point he pulls the fire alarm to ruin her date...which seriously? SERIOUSLY? We’re breaking the law now? Charlie is aggressive, manipulative and then covers it with charm and I could not even with him. Don’t get me started on how he gets into a fight with another recruit and then pushes his superior (who luckily is his sequel-bait brother) but only gets a suspension. Like, this dude literally should not be allowed to be a cop. I mean even when he does the grovel, he does it using NYPD equipment.

All that said I’m willing to give Tessa Bailey another chance because I really did like her writing style. She writes in a snappy, pop-culture dotted, 4th wall breaking, perspective-shifting first person POV that I really liked, but may bother more traditional romance readers. Her writing also just sounds really good in audio and paired with veteran romance narrators Alexander Cendese and Samantha Cook this was a delightful audiobook listen.

Book received as part of the Avon Addict program 

Thursday, June 7, 2018

A Match Made In Bed by Cathy Maxwell

Rating: ★★★ | The Spinster Heiresses #1 | 384 pages | Avon | Historical | 4/17/18

After getting caught in a compromising position at a house party with Soren York, Earl of Dewsberry, the bluestocking heiress Cassandra Howell must either marry Soren immediately or embrace spinsterhood forever. Deciding she doesn't want to give up her chance at being the lady of her own house she takes his hand, but once she marries Soren she quickly discovers everything she’s ever known about her family and her fortune is a lie.

I thought overall this book was enjoyable but I had a rough start with it because I hated Soren. I don’t know what it is with the books I’m picking up lately but I hate when the hero doesn't take no for an answer and is a lying liar who lies. Soren has a son from a previous marriage and just decides not to tell Cassandra about any of that. There is even a point where he realized he hasn't made it clear to her he has a son and is just like “meh, whatevs I’ll deal with his later.”

Speaking of the son...So, Soren had a commission in Canada and had the son through a marriage to a Lenape woman. A woman who is dead because the Native and Indian women are always dead in these things.

Dear Traditional Regency Romance Authors,

Can we please have a moratorium on writing colonized just never feels right. I know it can be a hard thing to balance the realities of the time with a modern mindset but I feel like rule #1 is not to use the word savage--even to show the hero defending the minority--and to maybe not constantly compare the half native child to an animal.

That said this romance does have some really sweet moments. I loved the interactions between Soren and his son and this line from Soren after he and Cass go through their unexpected married

“Life rarely meets our expectations. But sometimes, when we are lucky, we discover things are better than we could have managed.”

I just think that describes the journey of a romance novel perfectly.

A Match Made in Bed is an ultimately sweet romance, with some interesting twists and turns but I had some serious side eye for a hero I could never fully get on board with.

*received as part of Avon Addicts Program

Friday, June 1, 2018

Fire In His Blood by Ruby Dixon (Fireblood Dragons #1)

Rating: ★★★ | 11 hours 27 minutes | Self-Published | Sci-Fi Romance | 06/20/2017

Seven years ago, after dragons appeared in the sky, America reformed itself into heavily militarized compounds dotting a scorched wasteland. That’s right, it’s a good old-fashioned dragon apocalypse, ya'll.

When 25-year-old Claudia Jones gets caught illegally scavenging by the local militia, they decide to use her as dragon bait and leave her in the wastelands with instructions to figure out, tame a dragon. Claudia has no idea what that even means until she catches the attention of a golden dragon and learns that the dragons are shifters and this one is a man...a man who very much wants her as his mate.

I wanted to like this book but, I'm just not into how base Dixon's heroes tend to be. I was hoping since the dragons were shifters they would be more emotionally complex than Dixon's infamous blue barbarians but the dragon shifter hero, Kael, is borderline troglodytic. He can’t remember what happened before he came to Earth so literally all he thinks about is getting and keeping his mate. I just need a little more emotional intelligence and complexities in a hero's story. Claudia was a great heroine though, she gets thrown into a bonkers situation and through it all was resourceful, tough as nails and fiercely loyal to her friends and family.

Claudia’s narrator, Noelle Bridges, originally drew me to this book, she has this slightly raspy voice that works for a character who has been through an apocalypse and she’s got a vast array of male voices. Jeremy York, on the other hand, sounded like a straight-up creeper to me. I don't know how to explain it. He doesn’t narrate a lot of sections but it was annoying enough that I ended up finishing this book in print.

This book does follow a lot of the same beats of Dixon's blue barbarians. I wouldn’t recommend this series to everyone, but if you fell for Dixon’s blue barbarians but want denser storytelling and higher stakes this might be for you.

I always thought when Ruby Dixon said she was NYT Best Selling author she meant as Ruby Dixon but apparently Ruby Dixon is the under wraps pen name of an established NYT best selling author. All this to say is my guess is that Ruby Dixon is Kristen Ashley because of the alpha heroes and I think she knows the self-pub game well enough to get covers like these designed.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Seduced By The Badge by Deborah Fletcher Mello

Rating: ★★★ | 288 pages | Harlequin | Romantic Suspense | 06/01/2018 | Pre-order 
or Purchase now at Fair warning, there are some mild depictions and mentions of child abuse and assault, so proceed with caution.

Detective Armstrong Black and the Chicago P.D. gest a dose of Southern hospitality when Danni Winstead, one of Atlanta's best, goes undercover to infiltrate a dangerous human trafficking ring (as you do in romance . . .seriously, why is it always trafficking ?) in the heart of The Windy City. The closer she gets to a break in the case the closer she is drawn to the indomitable Chicago detective.

This is a very plotty suspense novel which is exactly my thing, Armstrong and Danni's attraction takes a back seat to Danni's deep undercover work, which was enough to keep me flipping the pages. She quickly befriends a young girl caught on the fringes of the human trafficking ring and lets herself be lured into the dangerous lifestyle. With that being said I found it a little hard to believe that everyone just believes this 34-year-old detective is a teenager. She doesn't even initiate the lie... people just assume she's a teenager. . .all the time. Who is she, Bianca Lawson ?

Danni owns this story while Armstrong hangs out on the periphery doing his investigating thing. He comes from an influential law family; his mother is a judge, his father is retired superintendent of police and his siblings are basically sequel bait who are all named after famous jazz musicians which I thought was pretty creative.

This is book one in the To Serve and Seduce series. I'm glad Mello, who was previously only published in the soon to be defunct Kimani line, has found a place in Harlequin Suspense.

Hey, cover designers! How come the heroine doesn't have a badge? I know it's a stock photo but y'all couldn't photoshop one on?

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Ashes On The Moor by Sara M. Eden

Ever since I read The Wake Up  I've been interested in the inspirational fiction genre. It's this sort of "feel-good" fiction about characters on journeys of self-discovery and redemption.  I've never gone out of my way to check out inspirational romance or books described as "proper romance" because I'm always like--what does that mean? That all other romance is improper?  I know that's not what they are saying, but still.

Our heroine Evangeline Blake is an upper-class woman set adrift after losing her entire family--save one sister--to illness. She is taken from her family estate to the small town of  Smeatly by her indifferent aunt who installs her as the new school teacher. On her own for the first time with no teaching experience and still grieving the loss of her family; Evangeline soon forms an unlikely relationship with her neighbor Irishman Dermot McCormick and his young son. Both Evangeline and Dermot are outsiders trying to prove to a town entrenched in poverty and uncertainty that together they can change the town for the better.

Ashes on the Moor is a quaint small town tale that goes pretty much how you would expect. Dermot's son is presented as being neurodivergent, something that was also in The Wake Up. Is this a common feature in inspirational fiction?

While I was reading up on "proper" or "inspirational" romance, one of the things I learned is that proper romance features feminist elements.  The more I thought about Ashes on The Moor, I realized that female empowerment and independence presented in a very broad. The focus is on women going out their own and making lives for themselves in a society where women weren't leveraged to do that.

Ashes On The Moor is a warm and heartfelt story about found family and the resilience of a community.

Check out the audio review at AudioFile Magazine

Can I just say I like the unique way inspirational romance covers present themselves? Unlike traditional romance, they generally feature period-specific dresses that appear more accurate along with warm colors and detailed backgrounds.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

6 Hot Royal Romances We Want to Crown Queen

It’s Harry and Meghan’s wedding weekend and we’ve put together a list of royal romances because...well...everyone else is doing it!

Not only is this a royal romance it’s also a mature romance. The crown prince of a fictional Caribbean island has seen his children paired off and is now looking for a love of his own. 

                          The Prince by Katharine Ashe

An exiled prince and talented portrait artist falls  for a promising female surgeon masquerading as a man in Regency-era Scotland

                           The Princess Trap by Talia Hibbert

After getting caught by the paparazzi in a compromising position, a prince and his one night stand have to play fake fiances for one year.

When Dahlia decided to live life to the fullest she didn’t think that would include carrying the baby of a prince. Which means it’s secret royal baby time.

The last thing this Baltic straight-laced modern day warrior prince expects is to fall for an intriguing American girl.

These aren’t technically princess or royalty books but each book in this humorous contemporary series about three friends reclaiming their love lives is based on fairytale princesses.