Wednesday, March 20, 2019

We're Going To Apollycon 2019


On Saturday the bloggers behind Romance and Sensibility will be at ApollyCon ! This will be our first big romance event. This is a huge event and the organizers really have it down pat! I can't wait to get books signed by Elle Kennedy, Brigid Kremmer, Kristien Callihan and maybe Christina Lauren? If you're going we hope to see you there !

- Kat and Jess




Saturday, March 9, 2019

The Whole Package by Marie Harte


Rating: ★★ | 352 pages | Contemporary | Sourcebooks Casablanca | Release Date: 1/29/2019
When Vets on the Go!, retired Marine Reid Griffith’s moving company, get some unexpected good press, Naomi Starr sees them as the perfect client for her new PR firm. She wants to keep it professional since mixing business and pleasure caused her some trouble in the past, but when she meets Reid there is an inescapable instant attraction!

I went on a journey with this book. Marie Harte wrote some of my favorite contemporary romance novels so when I first picked up this book I was excited to be back in her world. The dialogue was snappy, the characters were ambitious and complex, Harte’s knowledge from her own time in the Marines shone but then….this book turned into a giant clunker.

There were just all these weird side storylines that bloated the story and never get fully resolved. We have the poorly executed mentally ill mom plotline, family drama, ex-boyfriend drama, work drama, abusive pasts,  oddly aggressive middle-aged man bullies and then they foil a robbery? There are also just so many characters. I’m not sure why we have to meet every mover they hire and get the tedious intricacies of how they work with another mover. I looked it up, none of these movers get their own book and most don’t even have much dialogue.

I was also really irked at just how poorly the inclusivity in the book is executed. It felt like every minority character had a point where they turn to this cishet white man and verbally tell him that they are black or gay or a lesbian. We then get Reid saying he doesn't care they are a minority (which I think is supposed to make him look like a good guy but saying you "don't care" someone is a minority is literally the least you can do )  and then we never hear from that person again. I  also think it was extremely tone deaf make your one explicitly Latinx character end up being a criminal.

I wanted to like The Whole Package but it left a bad taste in my mouth.



*Received for review from NetGalley


Thursday, March 7, 2019

Cover Reveal: Hook Shot by Kennedy Ryan

We are so excited to host the cover reveal for Hook Shot by Kennedy Ryan. Hook Shot is a deeply emotional standalone set in the worlds of professional basketball and high fashion coming out on March 28th! 




KRHookShotBookCover5x8_HIGH.jpg


Divorced. Single dad. Traded to a losing squad.
Cheated on, betrayed, exposed.
My perfect life blew up in my face and I'm still picking up the pieces.
The last thing I need is her.
A wildflower. A storm. A woman I can't resist.
Lotus DuPree is a kick to my gut and a wrench in my plans
from the moment our eyes meet.
I promised myself I wouldn't trust a woman again,
but I've never wanted anyone the way I want Lo.
She's not the plan I made, but she's the risk I have to take.
A warrior. A baller. The one they call Gladiator.
Kenan Ross charged into my life smelling all good, looking even better and snatching my breath from the moment we met.
The last thing I need is him.
I’m working on me. Facing my pain and conquering my demons.
I've seen what trusting a man gets you.
Don't. Have. Time. For. This.
But he just keeps coming for me.
Keeps knocking down my defenses and stealing my excuses
one by one.
He never gives up, and now...I'm not sure I want him to.

Add to GoodReads: http://bit.ly/2RQ7p81
Audiobook Alert: http://bit.ly/2tsr7sH
Audiobook Release: April 30th
Cover Designer: Letitia Hasser, RBA Designs : Romantic Book Affairs
Photographer: Henry Lou
Enter the Giveaway on Kennedy’s FB Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/KennedyRyanAuthor/




About Kennedy


KR W Bckg Verti.jpgA Top 30 Amazon Bestseller, Kennedy Ryan writes about women from all walks of life, empowering them and placing them firmly at the center of each story and in charge of their own destinies. Her heroes respect, cherish and lose their minds for the women who capture their hearts. She is a wife to her lifetime lover and mother to an extraordinary son. She has always leveraged her journalism background to write for charity and non-profit organizations but enjoys writing to raise Autism awareness most. A contributor for Modern Mom Magazine and Frolic, Kennedy’s writings have appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul, USA Today and many others. The founder and executive director of a foundation serving Atlanta Autism families, she has appeared on Headline News, Montel Williams, NPR and other media outlets as an advocate for families living with autism.


Connect with Kennedy
Never Miss A Release! Follow Kennedy on BookBub: http://bit.ly/2HcRuee
New Release Txt: https://clk2.me/mgFv
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Reader Group: http://bit.ly/2GY6eyb

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Romancing The Duke by Tessa Dare



Rating: ★★★ + .5 | 9 hours | Historical Romance | Castles Ever After #1 | Avon | 1/28/2014

When her father dies unexpectedly, 26-year-old Izzie Goodnight is left with only the legacy of
his popular syndicated stories and...a castle--given to her by one of her father’s fans. Izzie can work with a castle but unfortunately for her, there is a surly, recently blinded duke angsting it up inside and claiming true ownership. Izzie Goodnight and Ransome Vane, Duke of Rothbury are an unlikely pair and as they try to discover how they both ended up with ownership of the same castle they find the kind of love and acceptance they'd both given up on ever deserving.

I read this book for book club but I’ve been hearing about it for years because of the fandom aspect. Dare creates this enthusiastic fandom for Izzie’s father’s stories and it was so much fun. There is cosplay, LARPing, fan theories and fanfiction. While I enjoyed this book, it was not my fave Dare story. It felt like a bottle episode because we literally never leave the castle except for one page. Also, the grumpy broken, angsty duke is kind of my least favorite trope. Although his grovel is a good grovel.

This works great on audio, Carmen Rose delivers a charming narration and continues to be my go-to narrator for historical romance.





Speaking of this book taking place in one location….I kept thinking this book would work really well as a play. How are no romance novels turned into plays?

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Once Ghosted, Twice Shy by Alyssa Cole


Rating: Unrated| Avon | Contemporary | 

Once Ghosted, Twice Shy was a moderately paced perfect little romance to start the year off with, but I have to admit I felt like I was plunked down in the third act --- I needed this to be a full story! We take a short walk through the start, end and new beginning of the relationship between Liktosi, an international royal aide and Fabiola an accountant with a side-hustle.

They have one day together to figure out why their all-consuming love story ended. I liked that Cole explored the eclectic side of New York, the specificity was pretty intriguing. Power and money are usually pretty important in a HEA and I think Cole used this trope in a pretty powerful way.

Check out the audio review too !


Thursday, February 14, 2019

Book Spotlight: Love Grind by Shelly Ellis

 Happy Valentine's Day ! We're so happy to host Love Grind, the last book in Shelly Ellis' MacLaine Girls series. Scroll below to learn more about this book and read an excerpt.



Love Grind by Shelly Ellis

She’s used to baring it all . . . but baring her heart is a whole different story
Down on her luck and broke, Jennifer Dudley long ago traded dancing in the chorus line for swinging from a stripper pole to make ends meet. She’s hoping an offer to come back home and teach dance at her old performance academy will be the opportunity she needs to fix her life. When she moves in with and falls for a software developer with brains, a boyish smile, and muscles, she decides she might be well on her way to a second chance at success—and love. But her X-rated past may come back to haunt her, compromising her newfound happiness and hurting the ones she loves the most.

Excerpt:

Jennifer heard a knock at her car window and slowly opened her eyes.

“Ma’am! Ma’am, wake up!” a baritone voice said. “This is a private parking lot. You can’t sleep here.”

She rubbed her eyes and slowly turned to find a police officer standing at her passenger side window. A frown was on his handsome, dark face. She slowly looked around her, realizing it was finally morning. A few people were walking along the sidewalk. She was no longer the lone car in the parking lot. How long had she been sleeping?

“Is the school open yet?” she croaked dazedly.

She rubbed her aching neck. After her cross-country drive and spending the night sleeping in her car, her body felt like one big knot. Her head ached, too. She would love to crawl onto a real bed, but she had already wasted her money on a crappy motel room while driving to D.C. and a deposit on a basement apartment she now refused to rent. The next place where she spent her last bit of funds would have to be cheap, clean, but safe. She’d make sure it. Until then, she just wanted to talk to Miss Yvonne.

“Oh, my . . . oh, my God!” she heard another voice squeal, making her jump in her seat in alarm. “Jen, is that you?”

The police officer squinted at a woman who was now standing beside him. He pointed to Jennifer. “You know this person?”

“Yeah, I know her! You do, too! It’s Jen . . . Jennifer Dudley. We used to go to the Academy together. We were besties, but I haven’t seen her in years!”

Jennifer stared in bewilderment at the woman. With her sleep-addled brain still struggling to orient itself, it took her a few seconds to realize who it was.

“Oh. Hey, Monique,” she said.

Monique didn’t look like the woman Jennifer was used to seeing in the music videos; Monique’s face was a little plumper and she had cut her long hair into a chin-length bob. Now waving and smiling, Monique didn’t look like the haughty pop diva Jennifer had heard rumors that her old friend had become. Monique actually looked sweet, even wholesome in her pale pink cashmere sweater, camel wool coat, and jeans. It was a relief.

“Jen, what are you doing here, girl?” she asked as Jennifer finally opened the door and shakily climbed out.

“Coffee,” Jennifer said, shoving her fingers into her matted hair. If she couldn’t get a bed to sleep in, she needed caffeine to stay on her feet. She was too tired to put on a mask of pleasantry or to answer questions. “I need coffee. And I need to talk to Miss Yvonne.”

“Oh, Miss Yvonne doesn’t get in this early,” Monique said, walking around to her side of the car. “She doesn’t usually get to the Academy until 10 o’clock. Bina is here though. She’s usually in the office bright and early. You should come in and say hi. She’d love to see you!” Monique grabbed her hand and gave it a gentle squeeze. “I can’t believe you’re here, girl!”

“So everything is okay then?” the police officer asked.

She and Monique turned to find him gazing at them expectantly.

“Oh, yeah, Justin. Everything’s fine!” Monique said, waving him off. “You can head to the station now. I’ve got this, baby. No worries. I’ll call you later.”

Wait a minute. That’s Justin? Justin Mailer?

So Monique was back with her ex from the old days. Jennifer looked at him again—at his strong jawline, dark eyes, full lips, and muscular build that was visible even in his bomber jacket and uniform. Justin had definitely gotten hotter over the years. He looked like one of the Chippendales strippers back in Las Vegas.

I’d give him a second chance too, if I were you, Peanut, Jennifer thought with an appreciative nod.

She watched as he walked back to waiting cruiser before Monique tugged her hand, drawing her attention.

“Let me take you inside. We have coffee in the lounge and croissants and bagels if you’re hungry.” She looked Jennifer up and down. “We have a place where you can freshen up too if . . . well, if you need it.”

Jennifer glanced down at her disheveled clothes as she followed Monique to the Academy’s front door. She hadn’t planned to show up for her first day like this.

But I hadn’t planned for a lot of things, she thought ruefully.

She’d wanted to arrive fresh and eager and instead she was bedraggled and dog-tired. She looked and probably smelled like a homeless person. But the instant she stepped into the Academy’s lobby, all her misgivings and sense of inadequacy faded. She gazed around her, shocked to discover that besides a few minor improvements, the school still looked the same. The same portraits still hung on the far wall along with a dozen or so additions. The same inspirational messages and words of love from the Academy’s founder, Miss Yvonne herself, were painted behind the receptionist desk. Being here was comforting; it felt like home.

“So you never said what brings you here. Why’d you decide to visit?” Monique asked as they strolled down one of the halls. Jennifer trailed behind her, looking around.

“I’m not visiting. I’m supposed to work here. Miss Yvonne hired me as one of the dance instructors.”

Monique halted mid-step. “Uh, does Bina know she hired you?”

“I don’t think so. Miss Yvonne said she wanted it to be a surprise.” Monique burst into laughter, catching Jennifer off guard. “What’s . . . what’s so funny?”

Monique shook her head as her laughter tapered off into giggles. “I’m sorry. I’m not laughing at you. It’s just . . . this is the third time Miss Yvonne has done this . . . brought in a new person without telling Bina, I mean. Bina’s the business manager around here and she’s still very Type-A.”

Jennifer nodded. She’d always remembered Bina being the organizer of their little crew, the big sister and leader. Bina always had a plan and knew how to implement it. It wasn’t surprising to hear she handled the business side of the Academy now.

“She hates it when Miss Yvonne throws her curve balls like this. She’ll be happy to see you, but don’t get offended if she’s a little put off that Miss Yvonne hired you without consulting her.”

Jennifer grimaced. Did that mean she was about to get fired before she even started her new job? She was about to ask Monique that very question when Monique turned and murmured, “Speaking of the devil . . . here Bina comes now.”

Jennifer followed Monique’s gaze and saw a curvy, model-type strolling toward them with file folders in her arms.

The years had been kind to Bina MacLaine. She looked as beautiful as Jennifer remembered, maybe more so.

“Jennifer!” Bina cried, beaming. “Is that you?”

Jennifer nodded and absently patted the bird’s nest on her head. “Yeah, it’s me!”

“Girl, give me a hug!” Bina said, holding out an arm and embracing her, crushing her file folders between them. “I’m so happy to see you! What are you doing here?”

Monique lowered her head, trying but failing to stifle her laughter. Jennifer anxiously gnawed her bottom lip.

“What?” Bina asked, looking between them, making her long curly hair sway around her shoulders. “What am I missing?”

“You might as well tell her,” Monique said, eyeing Jennifer.

Bina’s smile disappeared. “Tell me what?”



Jennifer knew there was no other way to say it or ease into it. She shrugged. “I work here now
.”

AVAILABLE ON:

AMAZON


ABOUT SHELLY ELLIS

Shelly Ellis is a NAACP Image Award-nominated women's fiction/romance author and creator of the Gibbons Gold Digger and Chesterton Scandal series. Her fiction writing career began when she became one of four finalists in a First-Time Writers Contest when she was 19 years old. The prize was a publishing contract and having her first short-story romance appear in an anthology. She has since published ten novels and was a finalist for 2015 NAACP Image Award in the Literary Fiction Category, a three-time finalist for the African American Literary Award in the romance category (2012, 2016, and 2017), and a finalist for the 2015 RT Reviewers' Choice Award in Multicultural Romance category.

She is married and lives in Prince George's County, Maryland with her husband and their daughter. Visit her at her web site www.shellyellisbooks.com.


CONNECT WITH SHELLY ELLIS

AUTHOR SITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | GOODREADS | AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE

Monday, February 4, 2019

Syncopation by Anna Zabo


Rating: ★★★ + .5 | 295 pages | Contemporary Romance | Carina Press | Release Date: 4/19/18

Ray Van Zeller, the lead singer of Twisted Wishes, needs a new drummer and the last person he expects to walk into auditions is Zavier Demos. Zavier is a Juilliard trained timpanist--and the guy who rejected Ray when he asked him to join the band in high school. But underneath the orchestra suit and tails, Zavier is a tattooed, Dominant, Twisted Wishes fan looking to get away from drama caused by his aromanticism.

Zavier falls in perfect rhythm with the rock band and as Twisted Wishes tours across the country and deal with rumors, abusive managers and press Ray discovers he needs Zavier in more ways than he’s ever imagined.

Rockstars are one of my favorite tropes in YA and I haven’t found a romance book with this trope that worked for me until this one. The first half of the book was slow but once the characters and backstory were set up I was all in. I liked the relationship between the bandmates and I think Zabo, who is nonbinary, made a point to show the kind of relationship fans would have with a band made up of non-straight members.

Part of the reason I chose this book is that I was curious to see how a romance would work with an aromantic character. Zabo effortlessly weaves Zavier’s aromanticism, Ray’s emotional issues and their BDSM relationship into a cohesive narrative that feel emotionally satisfying even though the romantic arc doesn’t end with the typical I love yous. In some ways, I think it is a greater challenge for a writer to show a change in the relationship between two characters without having one character say I love you as a shortcut to getting there. 

Syncopation is a super sexy rockstar romance that moves to a beat all its own. These books are pretty short so I’ll probably finish the series.