Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Hot Finish by Erin McCarthy (Fast Track #3)

  • Release Date: August 3, 2010 / Audio: October 8, 2012
  • Pages: 284 pages/ 7 hours 15 minutes
  • Genre: Contemporary Sports Romance
  • Publisher: Tantor Media and Berkley

By the time I finished the second book in this series, Hard and Fast, I was really invested into the community of racers and their family and friends. There is something nice about coming back into a series with characters you already know. Hot Finish is one of the first romances I've read where the hero and heroine are divorced and I liked the dynamic of the characters having memories and a life together.

With her alimony payments coming to an end Suzanne Jefferson goes back to work as a wedding planner planning the lavish and expensive wedding of spoiled, annoying sorority girl Nikki Borden to rookie driver Jonas Strickland. Nikki is obsessed with having a start studded racer wedding and demands to have all drivers as groomsmen (despite that fact none of them know the groom that well), including Suzanne's ex-husband Ryder Jefferson. Who it also turns out it technically not her ex-husband because of misfiled papers.

I really enjoyed the humor in this book and found it a lot of fun. Suzanne is a spunky, quick witted firecracker of a character and you never know what she is going to say. It's fun to see her spar with both Nikki and her ex-husband Ryder. Plus there are the usual wedding antics like crashed bachelor parties, tuxedo mishaps and bridezilla tantrums.

While the romance in Hard and Fast felt like a quick fling from meet cute to HEA, this one felt like more of an emotional investment. The pursuit in this book is more one sided because while Suzanne has accepted the divorce, Ryder is still in love with her so a lot of the romance is him trying to prove he deserves a second chance. They spend a lot of time thinking back on their past. I liked how their relationship had a lot of ups and downs throughout the book instead of how most romances I've read have all ups and then one bad moment just before the end of the book.

I did this one on audio and had the same thoughts on Emily Durante's narration as I did on Hard and Fast ; all her voices are good, but her southern accents are annoying. I can't wait to finally get to a book where the southern characters aren't the main characters.

Hot Finish was a fun, hot romantic ride and I'm so ready for the next book in this series. This book introduces a prolific TMZ type blog about race car drivers so I'm curious to see if that will play into the next book.

Friday, May 8, 2015

No Rest For The Wicked and The Warlord Wants Forever by Kresley Cole

  • Genre: Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy
  • Series : Immortals After Dark #1 and #3 
  • Publisher: Pocket Star Books
  • Pages: 322

I've been super wary of paranormal romance. I'd been buffeting different paranormal romance novels and they just weren't working for me. I tried Nalini Signh's Archangel series and a few Harlequin paranormals but couldn't see the them through

Then I remembered two years ago I listened to and really liked Krelsey Cole's debut YA novel Poison Princess and decided to check out her long running Immortals After Dark series.  I started by reading the intro novella The Warlord Wants Forever and was just not feeling it. I didn't like the mate-bonding trope, the mythology and the terms were really confusing and the snarky sassy female character seemed obnoxious.

The Warlord Want Forever was about  Myst who is a  Valkyrie,  A  race of  thousand year old female half gods that hunt natural born vampires. Myst mate bonds with a Forebearer named Nikolai, a human turned vampire, and becomes his bride. I found Myst  to be annoying and childish and the hero , Nikolai Worth, to be way to grabby and blurring the lines of consent . I thought I was done with this series.

But. . . The synopsis for the third book , No Rest For The Wicked,  intrigued me( I skipped the second book, I'm not a werewolf person) and wow am I glad I gave it a second chance.

What's odd is this book has very similar plot points as the novella, but it just worked better here.  Sebastian (Nikolai's Brother ) was turned into a vampire, ashamed by his new form he has isolated himself in his family home for 300 years. That is until a Valkyrie, Kaderin, who has been cursed not to feel  is sent to kill  him.  Instead she discovers she is his bride and he has the ability to make her feel again.

Kaderin bolts upon this realization. She has better things to do and doesn't need the distraction. Every 250  years she competes in the Talisman Hei, an Amazing Race style  race held by a goddess, this year the prize is a key that can send the user back in time. Something she desperately needs to  fix a terrible incident from the past

Yes, it's a supernatural Amazing Race I was totally in.

Sebastian isn't letting go that quickly, he is determined to fix himself up and learn more about what life as an immortal is like. I liked that Sebasitan is smart and resourceful. He also makes the point of wanting to earn Kaderin's respect and attention by helping her on the race. 

What I liked about  Kaderin is her commitment winning the Talisman's Hie (for the fifth time) . She let's her snarkiness out in little burst so it came off as less obnoxious as Myst.  While she is usually out during her own thing , she does let herself rely on her  half-sisters when she needs advice.

The plot was filled with so much tension and slap-slap-kiss-kiss. As reader you are rooting for Kaderin in to win the race as well as for the romance. I also like how Kadrein and Sebastian are both self aware of the mate bonding  and understand the line between lust and love. 

The last few chapters are intense but I won't pretend like it didn't confuse me. The book's ending is also a little open ended so I hope Kaderin and Sebastian will show up in another book.

Like I said earlier, the mythology and glossary for this world was hard for me to keep track of, but  in this book  Sebastian is new to the immortal world, so he serves as a great reader-avatar and that helped me get an understanding

 I was a little kerffufled when Myst and Nikolai from the first book showed up, they just aren't my favorite couple.

With a large series like this there a some wink wink  nudge nudge at the other books and I know I want to read Reign's book, so I will dive in and out of this series. Also  the 16th book will be about the missing  Valkyire's Queen who has quite the back-story, so I may have to read all the books to catch up  !


Yes, I know the covers have changed... I don't like the new covers.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Hard and Fast by Erin McCarthy (Fast Track #2)

  • Release Date: May 5, 2009 (Audio released Sept. 24th 2012) 
  • Length: 304 Pages / 8 hours 23 minutes
  • Genre: Contemporary Sports Romance  
  • Series: Fast Track #2 
  • Publisher: Tantor Media and Berkley

The quickest way to get  me to read a book is to hear Sarah Wendell and her guests gushing about in on the Dear Bitches, Smart Authors podcast. On their show on contemporary sports romance Sarah and Amanda had a lot of love for the first book in this series, Flat-Out Sexy, but I was kind of terrified the kids in this book would end up being plot moppets so I went to the second one.

When grad student Imogen Wilson finds herself hiding in a car with stock car racer Ty McCordle who is  hiding from his annoying soon-to-be-ex-girlfriend Nikki, they spark a romance that is....Hard and Fast. 

The romance is sort of a North meets South story. Ty is born and raised in the South and loves fast cars and the outdoors, while Imogen is a native New Yorker  who is most comfortable with coffee and books.

I liked that Ty was a flawed hero. He is dyslexic and because he kept it a secret , he never learned to read. This comes in contrast with Imogen who places a high value on literature. I saw Imogen as kind of like Emily Deschanel's character in the FOX show Bones. She is very analytic, curious and highly educated which makes her sound anti-social at time.

Coming into the second book in a series I did feel like I was crashing a party already in progress. From page one  Imogen is fantasizing about Ty while watching a race at the track with her adviser (Tammy, the heroine of book one) and then when he sees her at a dinner party he already knows he likes her. It felt like a weird instalove, but it became obvious later in the book that they had met at countless other events.

The audio is done by Emily Durante and while I didn't love her voice in the beginning it grew on me. I like how expressive she is when reading just the third person text. I liked all her voice except for the ones she did for characters with southern accents, they sounded more Texan and less North Carolina. Her Ty voice sounded like she was doing a bad Matthew McConaughey impression.

This book is a little steamier than I usually like in a romance. It's funny, I grabbed this to listen to on the way home for work I had a recurring nightmare about opening my window and someone hearing it.

I do wish there had been more of "competence porn" in the book about the stock car racing. Since Imogen is considering doing her thesis on marriage in the stock car racing culture there is some talk about the industry but there aren't really any scenes describing what it's like inside the car.  I still don’t really understand the sport and would have liked to see more of him doing his job. 

I’m still new to romance novels, but there always seems to be this perception that the women change themselves for the hero, but that hasn't been the case in the books I've read.  Imogen felt very fully formed she knew what she liked and what she didn't like. She was assertive and unashamed of who she was. I like how it’s stated very obvious that she wears glasses and when Ty asks if she has to wear them I was afraid it'd turn into The Glasses Gotta Go makeover, but she doesn't. 

The friend group in this series has really captivated me, and I can't wait to see how this series is going to end. McCarthy's writing is both romantic and funny.  Although there are three women in the group and six books in the series, so I'm curious how the new heroines fit in.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Make it Right by Megan Erickson (Bowler University #2)

  • Release Date: September 9th 2014
  • Pages: 336
  • Genre: Contemporary Romance / New Adult
  • Publisher: William Morrow Impulse (Penguin)

I always feel like buying random .99 - 1.99 romances just because they are cheap. It isn't the best habit, but then a book like this comes along.  I completely forgot I bought this and opened it on a bus ride and really enjoyed. I was looking for an interesting but less angsty romance and Make it Right fit the bill.

This is the second book in the Bowler University series.  I don’t think you need to read the first book to get into this one, but I felt like it would have helped me understand how all the characters were related.

This is a frenemies to lovers romance between college seniors. Max is sort of a player (who I think almost broke up the protagonists of the first book) who is trying to do better and Lea is a girl who has closed herself off because of her own personal demons. They exist in the same friend circle, but when Max joins Lea's self defense class the sparks start to fly.

This novel subverts some of the typical NA tropes. Instead of Max being the alpha in the relationship Lea takes on more of that role. Lea is also dealing with a traumatic accident from the past that isn't an assault, which tends to be the norm.

This book is part of William Morrow's new adult category, but this books seems to take style choices from both romance and new adult. It is written in omniscient third person like a traditional romance, but the plots and situations are very NA. 

This is another book that has me coming around to NA .The college setting works here and gives the book a sense of place. It also deals with those life changing conflicts like future jobs and the fear of adult responsibilities that comes along during your senior year in college.

There is even some diversity. Lea has lesbian roommate named Danica who has her own storyline and Max has a Hispanic roommate, Cam. And while Cam is the hero in the next book it doesn't look like Danica will get one. 

Make it Count is a fun new adult romance with a little less angst and a little more fun !