Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Enchanting Christmas by Beth Ciotta

This book showed up for .99 cents in my EreaderIQ alerts and since I was looking for a holiday romance  I snapped it up. At first I couldn't even remember  why I had a price drop alert for Beth Ciotta, but I looked into it and I guess  her Cupcake Lovers series was mentioned during NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour romance special, but I don't remember what was said about it.

This novella is about Christmas 'Chrissy' Mooney, who isn't feeling to into the Christmas spirit and hasn't been for a while. Five years ago she had to give up her dream of being a violinist when a fling at a music festival left her pregnant. To top it off when she discovered her mystery fling was Mason Rivers, heir to a million dollar company, he threatens to sue her via e-mail if she makes him claims he is the father.

Oh and also her daughter was born

I guess the conceit of this series is that there is a website called (which I'm super surprised Beth Ciotta hasn't snapped up)where you put in your information and apply for a dream and then their data analysts make it come true by um,....I don't know... Applied Phlebotinum or something. It's not really explained how this website works, but their slogan is  'We provide the magic. You provide the derring-do.' 

Needless to say there was a big miscommunication between Chrissy and Mason and she suddenly gets a second chance with him, but can she provide the derring-do to make it work ?

This was a quick, light and relatively sweet  romance I was able to read in two days. I liked that this book has a little bit of magic and I think small town communities have become my genre kryptonite.  This book takes place in Nowhere, Nebraska and it is a romance small town straight from central casting complete with a bakery, a bar for the men and a former professional athlete.


It looks like this series recently got new covers, because I have to admit I wouldn't have picked up the original.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Mini Reviews: Sugary Romances

Delectable Desires by Farrah Rochon (Draysons #2)

The Drayson family in this series is kind of like the family in Empire...except with more cake (and common sense). The Draysons are a baking dynasty and own Lillians, a large bakery that dominates the Chicago desert scene. Despite being one of best cake artist at the bakery Carter Drayson has always feels left out because he is the only illegitmate child. He meets and falls instanstly for the straight laced Elise when she comes into the bakery looking for a cake for her sister. What he doesn't know is she is a member of the Hawthorne-Hayes, an upper class jewelry family.

The romance in this novel was pretty basic; they meet and through their relationship are able to be their true selves. But. geez some of the moments in this book were so saccharine it kind of hurt. There were a lot of children just moppet-ing it up. There are a couple of scenes where Carter brings cupcake to a ward of sick (and extremely well behaved) children and  it's like Rochon forgot to decsribe his halo.  While it didn't blow me out of the water this romance was sweet in both ways and I think I'll continue with the series. Each of the books in this series are written by a different author and I'm curious to see how it will differ. The next one is by Yarah St. John, someone I've never read before.

Also...someone had way too much fun with Photoshop on this cover. - ★★

Gingerbread Cookie Murder by Joanna Fluke (Hannah Swensen #13.5)
I'm starting to think the first rule of cozy mystery is that you take the most inoffensive thing you can think of and just put MURDER behind it. Back to School Murder. The Secret Ingredient Murders.Death by Pantyhose.

This is a collections of (um, gingerbread themed?) novellas and I started the titular one by Joanna Fluke when it was on the library's Christmas display and decided to take it home. Even though this novella comes much later in the Hannah Swenson series, I was able to keep up.

Baker Hannah Swenson is looking into the murder of her upstairs neighbor. I think what kept me reading was meeting all the characters and seeing how they reacted to the murder and trying to guess whodunit So, I know it’s in the genre name, but this cozy mystery was just so...cozy. The town of Lake Eden, Minnesota felt so quaint and everyone loves themselves some baked goods. Sarah Koenig should take note; If you bring cookies people will tell you anything.

I didn’t realize these books had recipes in them and they was she talks about the desserts makes me want to make ALL the food. There were 5 recipes in this novella alone and I can only imagine how many are in the full books. I think I’ll try the Game Day Burgers. I just finished two pretty heavy adult books, so this was just what I needed. It was as if Monk and Pushing Daisies were baked into a book and I definitely want seconds. I’ve already purchased the first book in the series So...Cupcakes, Mysteries & ? eh ?  - ★★★.5

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Ceremony In Death (In Death #5)

Dear Rorake NoLastName,

While reading and reviewing the In Death series I realize that I've been kind of hard on you as our love interest/supporting character. I mean as an Irish Billionaire Businessman (Former criminal and not-so-former hacker) you have a lot of work to do to seem . . . believable. In previous reviews I've deemed you useless and only around as supportive eye candy and to provide a fantasy element.

However recently I've been doing research on your billionaire brethren over at Harlequin Presents and honestly for a billionaire you are really not that bad.

I mean when Eve finds out a fellow cops seemingly natural death might have been murder, you offer your help when Eve's investigation leads her into the world of Witchcraft and Satanism. I mean you grew up in Ireland and have a belief and respect for the practice, so you are a natural partner. While Eve has to set aside her belief in pragmatism and look for the divine you are the perfect person to help . . . without having to kidnap her and taking her to a remote country and make her stay with you (okay so he does that sometimes but it's only for like a day or two).

Anywho you are totally cool with Eve taking the lead, even when things get dark and boy do they get dark, when bodies start pilling up. It’s fun seeing you two work together. While you do disappear in the second half,  Eve and Peabody continue to  build their work relationship  and bantery repertoire to bring this case to a close..
This book is a careful examination of the subject of Wicca and witchcraft. Do you think maybe dabbling in the subject here is what inspired Robb to start writing her (as Sara Wendell calls them) Para-Nora books  ?
This was just the right In Death book to read for Halloween as it takes place around the holiday. The only thing that would have made it better is if you’d dressed up like a Leprechaun.

This book was miles better than Rapture In Death. Other than that I wish someone would at least question WHY YOU DON'T HAVE A LAST NAME.  I MEAN SERIOUSLY.

Dear Eve, I now the series is formulaic but can you please stop getting kidnapped and confronting the killer alone. There’s got to be some better way Just. . . yeah. Although this ending had an unexpected twist.

P. P .S
Obligatory P.C rant - why oh why did the line " like a mob at a lynching" have to be there ? It Just took me out the story. Just why. Also  did the shady owner of a coffee shop that's cover for a gambling hall have to be Hispanic ? Eh ? eh ?

P.P.P. S.
I hate saying this but for lack of a better term why do these books have to be so rape-y ?

Friday, December 18, 2015

Mini Reviews : The Lieutenant and The Beauty

Rapture In Death (#4)

Trigger Warning - Child Abuse/Sexual Assault

Could suicide with a smile possibly be murder ?

When newlywed Lieutenant Eve Dallas runs across a case of bizarre suicides her instincts says it's murder,  but as she falls into the world of technology and psychology she realizes the person she can't trust is herself.

For starters this book just has a lot of things I don't want in my fiction. The first strike being an Asian character (who thankfully doesn't show up again) being described with  "yellow" skin and "almond shaped eyes" it just felt. . . bleh to me. Also I don't think this is really a spoiler but I totally could have done without the hero sexually assaulting the heroine while under mind control. . . Just no. Also, I'm pretty sure every one of my In Death reviews is going to have a PC rant on it, so yeah..

Anywho, this is what I call the sci-fi book in the series because Robb goes deep into her own world building and makes use of fictional science to propel the story and honestly it's not Robb's strong suit. I just couldn't  buy into Robb's brand of science fiction. If you're half paying attention you can figure out what the deal is especially if you know the formula. In other series news, uniformed officer Peabody working as  Eve's aide has becomes #official and it's great seeing them work together. Even ignoring the squicky parts this is probably the book I would totally skip. The pay-off just isn't there. ★★

Beauty and The Balcksmith

I thought the reason I liked the Spindle Cove novel A Lady by Midnight was because of Carolyn Morris' audiobook performance, but there is something so comfortable and likable about Dare's world of Spindle Cove. The Beauty and the Blacksmith is a novella about Diana Highwood. Diana is the most beautiful and respectable of the  Highwood sisters. Everyone just knows she will marry well especially her pushy match-making mother.  Diana isn't sure if marrying for money is for her-- especially since she is infatuated with Aaron Dawes, the local blacksmith.

What I really liked about this is there were no dukes or ballrooms to be seen. Yes, the clash of class was in the background but at the end of the day it's a story where a woman from the gentry  tries to  find a way to her HEA with small town craftsman. I seriously wanted a whole book on them. Dare has a great way of bringing the final chapters to an end that (generally) gets the whole town involved in a a slightly wacky way.

I haven't read the whole Spindle Cove series but I think it helps to have read at least one of the first three Spindle Cove books to fully appreciate the novella.★★★★

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Jacked Up (Fast Track #6)

Pit crew member Nolan Ford has had a crush on Eve Monroe for a while. The only problem ? She’s the sister and PR rep of the driver he pit crews for and has a reputation of being a cold ‘battle axe’.  When Nolan finally finds the chance to ask her out their relationship will change Eve Monroe’s life forever. He helps her learn that maybe the reason she is so bitter is because she never took the chance to try  her dream--becoming a professional driver.

I really enjoyed the romance in this book and was rooting for this couple so hard. Jacked Up has everything I like about this series; humor, conflict, complex heroes and heroines with just the right amount of tension. And while I started this review with Nolan, this book is really...all about Eve (I think I did a thing).

Monday, December 14, 2015

Catch a Ghost (Hell or High Water #1)

Tom pressed his lips together for a moment, then said, “I just thought we’d be doing something. . .”
“Bigger?” Prophet asked, and without waiting, said, “Saving lives is always big.”
“There’s no one to save, Prophet.”
It took everything Prophet had not to punch Tom. “There’s always someone to save.”
- Catch A Ghost, S.E. Jakes

So, I just discovered you can sort by publisher on Overdrive and I noticed my library has a sizable number of titles from Riptide, a M/M publisher. I’d heard Joyfully Jay talk about M/M on The DBSA Podcast  so I thought why the heck not ?

When I first heard about M/M  it kind of rubbed me the wrong way because so many of the authors are straight women and I'm not sure how I feel about the gay/out for you thing. It just seemed fanfiction-y to turn a straight guy gay for one person. I mean...there's a word for that. Anyway this book doesn't have any of that, so moving on,

Former military man, Prophet, (it’s a nickname) works for a private company called Extreme Escapes--who I guess rescues hostages when the US government won’t cooperate or something . .  I don’t know It’s never fully explained in this book what they do or how they get paid. Also, while we’re on it the name Extreme Escapes kind of irks me, it sounds like some kind of 90’s amusement park.

Anyway, against his wishes Prophet is partnered with EEs newest associate former FBI agent, Tom Bordeaux. En route to their first mission they are interrupted by news of a murder in Texas---and for Prophet it’s personal.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Slow Ride by Erin McCarthy (Fast Track #5)

Professional stock car blogger, Tuesday Jones,  has spent months watching her  father die of cancer. At his funeral she ends up crying all over Daniel ‘Diesel’ Lange-- one of her Dad’s favorite drivers. Diesel's quit racing after  he was injured in a crash on the track. It's a slow ride as  the stoic beta hero, Diesel, falls head first into Tuesday’s wild extroverted ways.

The hero and heroine in Slow Ride had great chemistry. This book is a little bit darker than the others, it hints that Tuesday may be an alcoholic. I think so often women drinking lots of wine is just seen as flippant fun and not as something that could be potentially a real problem and I liked the way McCarthy handled it.

Like the last one this book gets away from the community and settings established in the other books. Tuesday is supposed to be this professional stock car blogger but she never goes to races, they never talk about racing and she never seems to work. It just didn’t feel realistic that that was her job. How does she know anything if she never goes anywhere ?

There are  a few quick scenes with previous characters, but it felt like awkward bonus content. Like they just randomly show Suzanne and Ryder from book 3 saying they should have a dinner party to see if Diesel and Tuesday belong together even though they’ve never met Tuesday or Diesel. And the dinner party doesn’t even happen and we just never hear from them again.

Slow Ride lives up to everything I expect from a Fast Track novel; complex heroines, smexy heroes and lots of fun !

Monday, December 7, 2015

Hold Me by Susan Mallery (Fools Gold #16)

Jess and I recently went to McKay’s Used Bookstore, which is like a wild west mecca for book lovers. There are shelves and shelves of books, but no inventory  so you just have to parse through by genre to find the good stuff. We decided to pick a romance at random for the other to read and I got Hold Me by Susan Mallery. I’d heard about the clich├ęs of small town romance novels and let me tell you this one seemed to hit every single one.

Hold Me is the 16th book (21st if you count novellas) of Susan Mallery’s Fool’s Gold series. Each year 1 cycle of three books come out. Needless to say I spent pretty much most of the book going:

There were so many townspeople floating in and out, but I’d say it’s totally doable to jump into it. If anything it helps you relate to the main character since she is new in town.