Sunday, July 26, 2015

Taking The Heat by Victoria Dahl (Girl's Night Out #3)

Release Date: July 28th 2015
Series: Girl's Night Out
Pages: 384
Publisher: HQN Books (Harlequin)
After enjoying Flirting with Disaster by Victoria Dahl, I was excited to read the third book in the Girl's Night Out series. When I saw it on NetGalley for review I jumped on it.

27-year-old Veronica Chandler is a star in her hometown of Jackson Hole, Wyoming for her Dear Veronica advice column and weekly live show. Locals love her brand of sass as she gives unfiltered advice on; sex, life and love. Everyone including the new librarian in town, Gabe McKenzie. Veronica falls for him almost instantly. The only problem ? The worldly and raunchy Dear Veronica on stage is an act and Veronica is just a self-conscious girl who couldn't hack it in New York City and came running home. Oh and she's a virgin.

I think this premise could have been horribly contrived, but it actually works really well in this book. I think Dahl did a great job re-writing the idea of  the virgin heroine because Veronica isn't just some innocent ingenue waiting for Gabe to tell her what to do. She's excited and actually initiates with Gabe. At first Veronica felt uneven because she was saying one thing and then doing another, but as you learn more about her past it becomes more clear why she acts the way she does.

Gabe is like the ultimate romance reader fan service as the hot male librarian, but his character has some really interesting conflict. He loves living in the Wyoming woods, but if Gabe doesn't give it all up and take over his family's business in New York City his father will work himself into a grave.In my six months of romance blogging Gabe is the first truly beta hero I've come across, he is pretty easily pushed around.

 I'm actually starting to realize I like it in a romance when at some point the male hero is given a The Reason You Suck speech by the heroine. This happens in Megan Erickson's Make it Right too, and I think it is always an interesting moment in the plot.

 Dahl delivers a funny, sexy, romance that reminds us that some of the best advice you can get comes from yourself.

Also librarian hero.


I don’t always fancast, but as soon as I started reading the description of this book  this I saw Gabe as Jamie Dornan as hispter sheriff on  ABC's Once Upon A Time  and Veronica as Michelle Williams.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Dark Needs At Desire Edge (Immortals After Dark #5)

  • Release Date: April 29th 2008
  • Pages: 368
  • Genre: Paranormal Romance
  • Publisher: Pocket Books
So. . . I skipped around again on the Immortal After Dark series. I tried reading Winter Deeds, but it's a werewolf book and the hero was too alpha and I could start seeing the plot points way to early on. 

 So,  I jumped back in with the Wroth Brothers. This time we meet the elusive Conrad Wroth. A former Vampire hunter, Conrad rages when his brothers turn him into a vampire against his will to save his life. As a result Conrads's spent the last 300 years as a mercenary, killing by drinking blood, something not tolerated by his brothers and the good vampires. They've been searching for him ever since. Can I just say how convenient it is they haven't been able to find him for 300 years. It's like. . . really ?

In the roaring twenties rising ballerina Neomi Laress is at the height of fame when she is murdered by her fiancĂ©. Ever since then she's been stuck as a lonely ghost in Elancourt, the home she bought for herself.

Nemoi has watched people come and go unable to communicate for decades, but when Conrad's brother's lock him in Elancourt to undergo "vampire rehab" and get him off the whole drinking and killing people bandwagon, Conrad becomes the first person to see Nemoi in nearly 80 years. Not that anyone believes she exist.

Now in forced proximity the two began to fall for each other. There is a lot of tension added when you have two characters who can't touch one another, because one is well. . . dead. I also liked the revelation Conrad comes to in the midst of the book when he realizes the main reason  he is falling for Neomi because she is dead, Conrad has a lot of enemies (cause you know. . .he's a mercenary)  meaning he doesn't ever have to worry about his enemies using her as leverage.

So, we've got a lot to work with here conflict wise. Can Neomi become human ? Will Conrad's enemies find him ? How will Conrad feel about Neomi if she becomes human and vulnerable.

The second part of this book started to pull a few themes from the previous Wroth Brother novels   but the pacing of this book picks up in pace  towards . 

Neomi and Conrad have a lot of great dialogue, as they get to know one another. They sort of accept each other as roommates and learn to live
 with each other; one piece of dialogue includes a sex positive discussion about Neomi's past, I was glad the hero didn't get to slut-shamy.
This book is was great for paranormal newbies like me because Neomi is new to The Lore and she has to learn all the "terms" and "rules" along with the reader. This is  just the kind of Paranromal training wheels I need.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Flirting With Disaster & Fanning the Flames (Girls Night Out #2 and .#.5)

Release Date: January 27th 2015
Pages: 384
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: HQN Books

So I’m finally going to talk about a book that I didn’t get rec’d by the  DBSA Podcast...this one I got from Harlequin’s 14 Days of Valentine Who’s Your Harlequin Boyfriend game.

Set in the woods of Jackson Hole, Wyoming our heroine, Isabelle West, is a medical artist who is enjoying her life living  solitude. That is until Tom Duncan, a U.S. Marshal, comes into town with his team to protect a local judge from a dangerous fugitive.

This romance features some of the oldest characters I’ve read in romance so far. From what I can tell mature characters are Dahl's forte. Isabelle is 36  and Tom is 42. They are very settled in their lives and careers and are not expecting any big changes or romances, which I think is a nice element because neither of them are looking for the other.

This romance has a few secondary plots, one being the fugitives on the run and other being that  Isabelle is actually using a fake identity, because she is hiding from the legacy of a father who was a corrupt (surprise, surprise)  Chicago  detective.  I couldn’t really follow all the legalese and bureaucracy stuff that went along with these plots and I got confused as to why people were looking for what and why they couldn't do certain things.

The best part of this series are the characters, I  particularly loved  how Isabelle has introverted tendencies, but when she's ready can also be the life of the party. She has this great self-confidence that keeps Tom on his toes and also kind of intimidates him. Isabelle is especially unashamed of her age and isn't concerned with how people think of her. There are a lot of feminist themes in this book about women accepting their bodies, meaningful female relationships and  women being sex positive.

I generally ask why nearly all the women in genre fiction are artist, but Isabelle's art career seemed genuine. She  is an oil painter who does commissions of anatomical paintings for medical textbooks and doctor's office.

This is part of Dahl's Girls Night Out series and I liked the scenes with all the "girls" the best. They have  such humorous quick, banter-y dialogue. I liked how the books didn't linger to much on the characters of books I hadn't read because I feel like I could read those without knowing everything.

There is even some diversity  in this novel, Isabelle's closest neighbor is a Black lesbian in her 50's who has a romance in the background. At first I thought this character was going to be tokenistic, but she had a lot of agency and purpose within the plot.

Flirting with Disaster is a funny, feminist contemporary romance with a dash of suspense. Now, if you'll excuse me I am going to raid Dahl's backlist.

The copy of Flirting With Disaster I had also had Fanning the Flames  in the back. The prequel novella is about Isabelle’s friend and local librarian Lauren and how she met her boyfriend, Fire Captain Jake Davis. I liked the 60 page novella length and will probably read more of these. They get right to the point without a lot of the will they won't they.

This is my first firefighter book and it made me understand the firefighter trope--they are as close as you get to superheros in contemporary romance. While cops and FBI agents are all about stakeouts, waiting and procedure while  firefighters swoop in and make quick decisions. Their was one scene of a Jake managing a fire rescue and it was really intense with  high stakes.

This is another mature romance with the characters having kids in their twenties which makes me think...has there ever been  a romance / NA crossover ?  - 

Monday, July 6, 2015

Undeclared by Jen Frederick (Woodlands #1)

  • Release Date: April 28th 2013
  • Pages: 260
  • Genre: New Adult
  • Publisher: Self-Published

When I discovered Sarah Wendell and the rest of the Bitchery I also discovered Jane Litte from Dear, Author. While I was familiar with her from various bookternet goings ons I didn’t get to really know her until I started listening to the podcast. I really admire Jane’s unfiltered-ness and willingness to stand up for her own opinions. So, when she  revealed she had written some books under a penname I was excited to read them--despite some of the controversy surrounding it.

This book was recently  listed for free on Amazon and for 1.99 I upgraded to Whispersync--which is a feature that allows you to switch between the Audible audiobook and Kindle book across multiple devices. I know AMAZON IS EVUL, but I really like this feature. I could switch between my e-ink Kindle and the audiobook on my phone seamlessly.

The heroine  is 19-year-old college sophomore Grace Sullivan who is both undeclared in her major and in life. The hero  is Noah Jackson a Marine that Grace has been corresponding with since she was in high school. When Noah ends his tour goes ghost on her despite promises of them being together leaving Grace brokenhearted. Just when she thinks she is over him he shows up out of the blue, enrolls at her college and is ready to win back her heart.

In retrospect I get major Great Gatsby vibes from this book. Noah is from a lower class town and wants to do nothing more than to impress Grace and be worthy of her. Also he lives with these 4 other guys who (because of reason) share a nice mansion in a nice part of town (The Woodlands) and host crazy parties that everyone wants to be invited to.

Right off the page Noah sounds kind of trope-y because not only is he an ex-Marine, an aspiring Mixed Martial Arts fighter...he’s using his GI benefits to get a finance degree--so he’s got the potential to be an MMA fighting ex-marine millionaire--but I think Frederick reigns the tropes in and he comes off more realistic.

I hate to say this about a heroine, but as a character nothing about Grace was particularly memorable. I liked that she had an ability to get along with everyone from her cousin’s sorority sisters to her brother’s football teammates without it turning into a slut shaming thing. Grace is a hobbyist. photographer and Frederick does some great competency porn. I do think Grace comes into her own later on in the book.

This is the first romance audiobook I've really liked. It is narrated by  Connor Kelly-Eiding, and  Adam Eiden. They work well together and are able to match each others tones and both manage to make Noah's Texan accent  non- cringe-wrothy. These two work together in Noelle August’s Bounce series, so I may check that out.

I’ve actually started the second book (SCRIBD 4EVA) and it is about Noah’s Marine buddy, Beau. This book seems to have some more interesting dynamics because the heroine was basically slut-shamed off campus. Also it wheels out ALL the diversity (literally in like one scene) that this book didn’t.

Side Note

There is also companion book The Charlotte Chronicles,  about Noah and Grace’s kids that I think is YA that I stared reading (No seriously...SCRIBD 4EVA !) was soooo weird seeing the characters as parents...but I’m into it.