Tuesday, August 14, 2018

ICYMI ~ Tomorrow's the BIG Day!!

In case you missed it, starting tomorrow, August 15th, I'll be embarking on a brand new blogging journey as Lexxie (formerly of (un)Conventional Bookviews) and I marry our blogs and become:

Please join us for a "reception" of sorts where we'll have giveaways galore! I hope to see y'all there! And thank you so very much for your support and readership over the last 6+ years. 💚

Monday, August 13, 2018

Review ~ Rescuing Rayne ~ Susan Stoker #COYER

Rescuing Rayne (Delta Force Heroes, #1)Rescuing Rayne by Susan Stoker
Delta Force Heroes #1
Release Date: February 9, 2016
Genre: Adult, Romantic Suspense

Source: Kindle Freebie
Rating: 4 Bookworms
Challenges: #COYER, #ShelfLove

As a flight attendant, Rayne Jackson is used to cancellations, but she never dreamed her latest would lead to a whirlwind tour of London with a handsome stranger...or a life-altering night in his bed. One evening is all the enigmatic man can give her, and Rayne greedily takes it, despite suspecting it will never be enough.

Heading home after another extreme missions, Keane "Ghost" Bryson hadn't planned to seduce someone during his layover, but Rayne is too sweet to resist. Being a Delta Force member means lying to protect his identity, which is unfortunate, considering Rayne seems made for Ghost, right down to the tattoo on her back. For the first time in his life, regret fills him as he slips away the following morning.

Both are shocked when, months later, they meet again - under the worst possible circumstances. Seems fate has given them a second chance...if they can survive the terrorist situation they're in. If Ryane can forgive Ghost his lies. And if Ghost can trust Rayne to be strong enough to endure the secrets and uncertainty that come with loving a Delta Force soldier.

Rescuing Rayne is the first in the Delta Force Heroes series and served as my introduction to Susan Stoker's brand of romantic suspense. Stoker's characters are well-defined and the suspense was tight, if predictable. I enjoyed meeting Ghost and Rayne and look forward to getting better acquainted with the guys of Delta Force.

  • Characters/Romance
    Ghost and Rayne are well developed. I had a good sense of who they were - courageous, protective, loyal, smart - individually and they also made a strong couple. The way Stoker developed them and their romance - their meeting and the impact they made on each other, how they left one another and found each other again - felt very realistic even with the element of fate being involved. Their connection was palpable and Stoker also involved the secondary cast well. Ghost's team, and even a few others, are well-drawn. The dynamics between them felt genuine and I want to get to know these guys better. They way they take each others' backs and the way they enveloped Rayne into their fold was heartwarming.
  • Suspense
    Despite the circumstances that created the suspense being a foregone conclusion, Stoker chose a relevant way to incorporate the suspense. She also didn't skimp on the horror and terror - although it wasn't explicit. There was one aspect I felt was a bit unrealistic given the situation though.

Overall, Stoker's brand of romantic suspense worked well for me. I'm eager to continue this series as well as check out her other series. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

New Release Review ~ Queen of the Darkest Hour ~ Kim Rendfeld @kimrendfeld #2018NewRelease #COYER

Queen of the Darkest HourQueen of the Darkest Hour by Kim Rendfeld
Release Date: August 7, 2018
Genre: Adult, Historical Fiction

Source: I received an eARC from the author. This did not affect my rating and my review is provided voluntarily.
Rating: 4 Bookworms
Challenges: #2018NewRelease, #COYER

Family Strife Imperils the Realm
Francia, 783: Haunted by the Saxons' attack on her home fortress, Fastrada obeys her father and marries Charles, king of the Franks and a widower with seven children and an eighth on the way by a concubine. As more wars loom, Fastrada's greatest peril lurks within the castle walls: Pepin, Charles's son by his embittered former wife. Blaming his father for the curse that twisted his spine, Pepin rejects a price archbishopric and plots with his uncle and mother to seize the throne. Can Fastrada stop the conspiracy before it destroys the kingdom?
Based on historic events during Charlemagne's reign, "Queen of the Darkest Hour" is the story of a family conflict endangering an entire country - and the price to save it.

I often read historical romance but historical fiction is also a favorite genre of mine. Having stories created around historical people with historical details incorporated makes for educational as well as entertaining reading. I'd read Ms. Rendfeld's previous works and found them fascinating so I was delighted to have the opportunity to read her latest novel, Queen of the Darkest Hour.

Queen of the Darkest Hour is set in the late 700's and revolves around King Charles - King of the Franks, and the Lombards, and patrician of Rome - his fourth wife, Fastrada, and his and their children. As that time period would dictate, the story involves war, religion. politics, and intrigue. But it's also a story of the strong bond between a king and his queen - a bond so strong that Charles consulted Fastrada on many decisions and included her in the ruling of his realm.

Ms. Rendfeld discusses in her afterword the details of the story which are historically accurate and those she took creative license with and I found it all interesting. But that she could craft a compelling story, set so long ago, around these figures is a testament to her skill. I will admit there were places where I groaned over the continued whining of a certain prince or the seemingly perpetual preparing for a move or for war. However, this was all realistic, a part of their lives, and set up for the events surrounding the traitorous plot against the king.

Ms. Rendfeld's use of both Fastrada's and Pepin's POV to relate the story worked well as I was able to see the true affection between Fastrada and Charles. I commiserated with her frustration at not producing a son, her deep feelings for their children, and her people. Through her I could understand Charles's desire to do all her could to rule fairly and protect his family and his people. I applauded her taking her place by Charles's side, offering her opinions and advice rather than standing in his shadow - something she was despised for. Through Pepin's eyes, I could see, if not relate to his unhappiness with his lot in life and his determination to have more. I understood his need to have his father see him as more than a deformed son...as worthy of praise and attention. I could also understand how the Church was used to twist his thinking. I think my only grievance would be with Pepin - who was treated far better - in life and in this story - that most deformed children would have been. However, it was necessary to the story and possibly historically accurate to portray him as greedy and ungrateful.

Ms. Rendfeld not only developed strong characters but also conveyed the setting well - the sights, sounds, smells of the abodes Charles and Fastrada inhabited as well as the forests, rivers, and battlefields. The ways in which Charles ruled - holding assemblies, consulting the Church, etc., was genuine. The story kept me riveted, needing to know what would happen next, how Fastrada and Charles would handle things, while also providing history lessons.

In Queen of the Darkest Hour, Ms. Rendfeld delivers an engaging historical tale, with a high degree of historical accuracy. But it's also a portrait of a loving couple and their family - who just happen to rule a large portion of Europe.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Release Day Review ~ Rock F*ck Club: A Postseason One Novella ~ Michelle Mankin @MichelleMankin #2018NewRelease #COYER

Rock F*ck Club: A Postseason One Novella  (Rock F*ck Club, #2)Rock F*ck Club: A Postseason One Novella by Michelle Mankin
Rock F*ck Club #2
Release Date: August 7, 2018
Genre: Adult, Contemporary Romance
Source: I received a complimentary copy from the author. This does not affect my opinion or rating. I voluntarily provided a review. I also purchased my own Kindle copy.
Rating: 4.5 Bookworms
Challenges: #2018NewRelease, #COYER

A Postseason One Novella
10 cities. 10 famous rock stars f*cked.
Raven Winters has chosen the one rock star she wants to keep. She has completed filming for the Rock F*ck Club. Her season of the reality show is about to debut on the World Media Organization channel.
Her once very private sex life is about to become public.
Can her life ever return to normal?
Does she want it to?
And what about the next season of RFC?
Who will be the next star?
Who will be f*cking whom?

This novella - and it's meaty so it doesn't feel like a novella - is a treat! Getting to see Raven and Lucky and how they're faring was a delight. And we also got a glimpse of where RFC is going from here and that was exciting! 

The novella revolves around Raven and Lucky, of course. Seeing how they're working at maintaining their relationship, dealing with their newfound fame, the fallout over RFC, etc., felt realistic and genuine. I liked that it wasn't all hearts and roses because part of their relationship had been that way so I appreciated Mankin keeping it real. Lucky being the lead singer of a band with mounting popularity and, therefore touring more meant fans and  being on the road were issues...also real. And being a fan of character growth, I was thrilled to see both Lucky and Raven - especially Raven - do some growing.

The other plot threads - RFC's next season, Raven and Marsha's friendship, and the relationships of Lucky's band mates were all compelling and kept me flipping through the pages. I especially enjoyed Marsha's growing friendship with Lucky's sister, Sky, and it further developed Marsha's character. I'm excited about the direction Mankin seems to be taking with things.

That ending! WOW!! It was a shocker and I am more than happy RFC #3 releases soon!

Monday, August 6, 2018

New(ish) Release Review ~ Relentless ~ Elizabeth Dyer #2018NewRelease

Relentless (Somerton Security #2)Relentless by Elizabeth Dyer
Somerton Security #2
Release Date: June 12, 2018
Genre: Adult, Romantic Suspense

Source: I received an eARC from Montlake Romance via Netgalley. This did not affect my rating and my review is provided voluntarily.
Rating: 3.5 Bookworms
Challenges: #2018NewRelease

Ethan Somerton doesn't do safe or easy. He's all about the challenge. The risk. In order to rescue one of his agents, Ethan must infiltrate the ruthless Vega cartel. One tiny error - just one - and he's dead. Which means he needs Natalia Vega. Bright, beautiful, and cut sharper than the most lethal blade, she's finally reached her breaking point. Now Ethan must find a way to make her surrender.

Caught between desperate choices and no-win situations, Natalia has survived the unthinkable by becoming dangerous, relentless, and feared. When it comes to protecting her sister, there's no line Natalia won't cross. But when Ethan storms into her life with his cocksure arrogance, stone-cold competence, and seductive promises, Natalia wonders if she's finally found a way out. But discovering whether Ethan is salvation or destruction is going to require the one thing Natalia doesn't have - trust.

As the cartel implodes and loved ones are threatened, Ethan and Natalia are going to have to choose between love, loyalty, and the lies they cling to. They could run, knowing they'll never be safe. They could fight, knowing they'll probably die. Or they can trust in each other and do something far more dangerous.

Relentless was suspenseful with well-developed characters. There were a few times when they pacing slowed and a few places where I felt as thought Dyer "told" me rather than "showed" me but overall Ethan and Natalia's story served as a good introduction to Dyer's writing.

What Worked:

  • Premise
    Ethan, feeling guilt and a lack of control, must ingratiate himself with the Vega family in order to save a member of his team. The target is Natalia Vega and Ethan would do well not to take her at face value. Ethan has his team at his back as he works against the clock to win Natalia's trust - and maybe more? - and gain the intel he needs. The premise hooked me and kept me turning the pages.
  • Characters
    Dyer created a great cast with Ethan and Natalia at its center. She deftly conveyed the type of people Ethan and Natalia are - loyal to a fault, fearless, strong, smart - as well as demonstrating the close relationships they each have with the friends and family. I was particularly fond of the snark and wit shared between Ethan and his friends/team members, Parker and Georgia. These interactions served to illustrate Ethan's ability to trust whereas Natalia's interactions with her sister and others showed her intense lack thereof. Of course, her family runs a cartel so it was understandable.
  • Romance/Suspense
    I lumped these two together because as this is romantic suspense, they were inextricably linked. And Dyer did relatively well in developing the romance in a way that amped the suspense. Wondering if Ethan and Natalia could build on the intense chemistry they felt while also moving toward their goals, wondering what would happen if they had to make difficult choices, kept me turning the pages. The dual POV, delivered throughout the chapters rather than alternating, also worked well in conveying the romance and the suspense.

What Could Have Worked Better:
  • Pacing
    There were points in the story where the pacing slowed...not something you want in romantic suspense. Most of these places occurred when Dyer "told" me what Ethan or Natalia was thinking or feeling where actions would have "shown" it more succinctly and would have kept the pace moving.
  • Romance
    While the chemistry between Ethan and Natalia was evident, I felt that their feelings occurred rather rapidly and mostly in their heads. If they'd spent a little more time together the romance would have felt more genuine.

Relentless, although #2 in the series, can be read as standalone. I was drawn into this world and these characters' lives deeply enough that I want to go back and read #1 as well as continue the series.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

#COYER Mini-Challenge Day #7 ~ It's Been a Week of Romantic Suspense

COYER Mini-Challenge: Romantic Suspense

Hey, hey! You made it to Day #7 of our Romantic Suspense Mini-Challenge. How did you do? Again, we sincerely hope you've enjoyed our mini-challenge and that you've created or rekindled a love of romantic suspense. 

To put an end to the suspense (but not the romance), here's what Lexxie and I are up to...

We're getting married!! Er...merging our blogs. *wink* And you're all invited...to the reception!

And the winner of my giveaway is.... Anne!

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Friday, August 3, 2018

#COYER Mini-Challenge Day #6 ~ Down to the Wire...Romantic Suspense

COYER Mini-Challenge: Romantic Suspense

Hey there! Welcome to Day #6 of our Romantic Suspense Mini-Challenge. Your down to the wire...have you read all 3 books? Did you enjoy them all? We sincerely hope you have enjoyed our mini-challenge and that you've created or rekindled a love of romantic suspense. As for me, I finished Relentless by Elizabeth Dyer and am still working on Rescuing Rayne by Susan Stoker. 

So, have y'all figured out what Lexxie and I are up to? What are your ideas? I'm curious what you think. Here's the final installment:

The end...

It seems like the next natural step for us. It isn't something we took lightly. We tiptoed around the idea, neither of us seeming to want to commit. Until we did. We chatted for months, making plans, coming up with ideas. It's taken time, a lot of planning, and a lot of learning. In the end though, we think it's going to be perfect.

...is a new beginning!

Don't forget to get your entries in the Rafflecopter!

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Thursday, August 2, 2018

#COYER Mini-Challenge Day #5 ~ Loving Romantic Suspense?

COYER Mini-Challenge: Romantic Suspense

Hey y'all! Welcome to Day #5 of our Romantic Suspense Mini-Challenge. Have you read all 3 books? Have you decided you need more romantic suspense in your reading diet? Tell me how it's going. I finished Relentless by Elizabeth Dyer, and I ended up enjoying it. My review will post soon. :) I'm now reading Rescuing Rayne by Susan Stoker. It'll probably be the last one I finish...if I can manage that. 

Continuing with our story... be sure to check back tomorrow for the *final* installment.
It was a big step, bringing everyone together, but we decided it was time. It was no small feat getting her family (minus 2) over to my continent but we did it. I was worried - can you tell that's my constant state? - about how her family would feel about me...my family...my home. But I shouldn't have. Everyone got along splendidly even if there was a language barrier and we all had a great time. And it was more proof that things - our meeting and being a part of each others' lives - were meant to be!

Don't forget to get your entries in the Rafflecopter!

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Tuesday, July 31, 2018

#COYER Mini-Challenge Day #3 ~ Are You Enjoying Your Romantic Suspense?

COYER Mini-Challenge: Romantic Suspense

Hey there! Welcome to Day #3 of our Romantic Suspense Mini-Challenge. How's it going so far? Are you enjoying your romantic suspense? What books have you read? I'm about halfway through Relentless by Elizabeth Dyer, and I'm still enjoying it. I just wish I read faster! 

Continuing with our story... be sure to check back tomorrow for the next installment.

I had thought first contact was nerve-racking. It was nothing compared to actually meeting in person. We'd decided on neutral ground for our first face-to-face. She had arrived ahead of me and I found myself wondering if she was as nervous as I? We'd spent time connecting, getting to know each other's likes and dislikes, things we had in common, but things might be different in person. Isn't that what they warn about when "meeting" people online? The butterflies in my stomach felt like bats as the taxi pulled up to my destination. They didn't calm as I entered the establishment. Then I saw her. And when our gazes met, I knew I'd been right about her. 

Don't forget to get your entries in the Rafflecopter!

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Monday, July 30, 2018

New(ish) Release Review ~ Hot Asset ~ Lauren Layne #2018NewRelease

Hot Asset (21 Wall Street, #1)Hot Asset by Lauren Layne
21 Wall Street #1
Release Date: May 22, 2018
Genre: Adult, Contemporary Romance

Source: I received an eARC from Montlake Romance via Netgalley. This did not affect my rating and my review is provided voluntarily.
Rating: 4 Bookworms
Challenges: #2018NewRelease

Ian Bradley is the definition of a Wall Street hotshot: seven-figure salary, designer suits, and a corner office. His drive off the floor is just as potent. Every woman who knows him has felt the rush. But now he's met his match in Lara McKenzie - a woman with the power to bring Ian to his knees.

An ambitious, whip-smart daughter of FBI agents, Lara is a rising star in fighting white-collar crime. Her latest case - the investigation of Ian Bradley for insider trading - could make her career. She knows a scoundrel when she sees one. Ian fits the bill: a cocky, ridiculously handsome bad boy with a slick swagger. 

She'll do anything to prove he's guilty. He'll do anything to prove he's not. But it's only a matter of time before their fierce battle of wits gets oh so hot and personal. Now, taking down Ian has become more than business for Lara. It's become a pleasure - and there's more at risk than she ever dreamed.

I'd never read Lauren Layne before. *hangs head* I know, I know. But I honestly think I picked a great story to serve as my introduction to her writing. Hot Asset was funny, romantic, suspenseful, and HOT! I absolutely enjoyed every minute.

Ian Bradley, a man who has climbed from essentially the streets to become one of Wall Street's elite, finds himself in hot water. Not only is he under investigation by the SEC but he's also insanely attracted to the investigator. And they may have gotten off to a rough start. ;)

Lara McKenzie, an SEC investigator with her sights set on the FBI, prides herself on being thorough and following protocol to the "T". In her investigation of Ian, she finds herself in uncharted territory. Not only is she attracted to Ian but she's also hoping he's not guilty while also wanting him to be because he's just the sort of high profile case in which a win would guarantee her the FBI's notice.

The character development and growth of Ian and Lara was impressive and y'all know how I like that. Both Ian and Lara slowly come to realize what was really important to them and I appreciated how LLayne handled the delicate navigation of the laws where Ian and Lara were concerned. Their histories and backgrounds, also slowing revealed, helped develop their characters, explaining the things that defined them. I haven't read any (that I recall) books set on Wall Street like this and I liked the relevancy of the topic. And I most admired how LLayne developed the romance. The attraction between Ian and Lara was abvious and I quite enjoyed the snarky banter. But as things advance between them, even with the chemistry being electric, it all felt organic and realistic.

LLayne also created a wonderful secondary cast, which is brilliant seeing as this is the first in this series and I'm now extremely eager to get Ian's friends' stories. Besides serving to hook me into wanting to read the next in the series, Matt, Sabrina, Kennedy, and Kate also served to give depth not only to Ian and Lara but also to the story overall. The interactions between them all further conveyed the type of people Ian and Lara are.

Hot Asset was an exciting read with an inherently readable story, compelling characters, humor, a little suspense, and a completely satisfying romance. LLayne is one of my favorite new-to-me authors of 2018!

#COYER Mini-Challenge ~ Join Us for Some Romantic Suspense Day #2

COYER Mini-Challenge: Romantic Suspense

Hello and welcome to Day #2 of our Romantic Suspense Mini-Challenge. How's it going? Are you enjoying your romantic suspense? I'm reading an ARC I got awhile back - Relentless by Elizabeth Dyer. It's pretty good so far. Tell me about what you're reading. What do you plan to read next?

And now that that first little bit o' fun... each day you'll get a little more of this story.

I've been watching her for awhile. She's beautiful. And she's funny but she's also smart. I can tell. She seems like the kind of woman I could connect with. She intrigued me from the start but I had to be ready before making contact. I'm not sure I'm ready but it's time. I don't want to wait any longer. I'm quite nervous. I've never done this sort of thing before. What will she think? Will she like what I have to say? Will she care? Will she like...me? I bite my lip and wring my hands in anxiety. I take a deep breath. I have to be brave. I have to pluck up the courage or I'll never know. Right? Right. Another deep breath. And I push the button.

Stay tuned for the next installment... and be sure to get your entries in the Rafflecopter!

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Sunday, July 29, 2018

#COYER Mini-Challenge ~ Let's Read Some Romantic Suspense!

COYER Mini-Challenge: Romantic Suspense

Hello all :) Welcome to our COYER Mini-Challenge for Romantic Suspense! Lexxie @(un)Conventional Bookviews and I are so happy to have you :)

This challenge is pretty straight forward - read three romantic suspense books this next week, one book that you've bought, one you've borrowed - either from the library or a friend, and one you've received for free - either a gift, or an ARC.

We both love romantic suspense, because there is a little bit of angst to go with the romance, and sometimes, the suspense parts are so good we just can't wait to flip to the next page. Plus, having romance in those books just makes everything a bit more bearable, are we right? 

And since we love our romantic suspense, we have something we hope will be fun for y'all. It's a little romantic and a bit suspenseful. Starting tomorrow, we'll give y'all a bit of a story leading up to something we have in the works...and if you can guess what that something is, you get an extra entry in the giveaway.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Blogger Chick-Reader Chick Chat Review ~ Driven ~ K. Bromberg #COYER #ShelfLove

Driven (Driven, #1)Driven by K. Bromberg
Driven #1
Release Date: December 25, 2013
Genre: Adult, Contemporary Romance
Source: Purchased on Nook
Rating: 4 Bookworms
Challenges: #COYER, #ShelfLove

Rylee Thomas is used to being in control. But she's about to meet the one man that just might make her enjoy losing it...

I am the exception to the rule.

In a world full of willing women, I'm a challenge to the roguish and achingly handsome Colton Donavan. A man used to getting exactly what he wants in all aspects of life. He's the reckless bad boy constantly skating that razor thin edge toward out of control, on and off of the track.

Colton crashes into my life like a tornado: sapping my control, testing my vulnerabilities beyond their limits, and unintentionally penetrating the protective wall around my healing heart. Tearing apart the world I rebuilt so carefully with structure, predictability, and discipline.

I can't give him what he wants and he can't give me what I need. But after a glimpse beneath his refined exterior into the dark secrets of his damaged soul, can I bring myself to walk away?

Our sexual chemistry is undeniable. Our individual need for complete control is irrefutable. But when our worlds collide, is the chemistry enough to bring us together or will our untold secrets and battle of wills force us apart?


Yay! Denise and I have another Book Bonanza buddy read/chat review under our belts! We have another one coming and even though Book Bonanza is over, I think we'll continue with these buddy reads and chats. Enjoy!


Me: Yay! Another Book Bonanza buddy read under our belts!

While Driven was a bit angsty for me at times, I'm completely invested in Rylee and Colton, as individuals and as a couple.

1. Rylee and Colton's initial meeting was comedic despite the circumstances that created it. They both felt such an immediate connection. How do you feel about the way Bromberg handled that connection throughout the book?

Denise: Bromberg kept the connection hot and lusty. I felt that the first meeting with its fiery lust was going to be the highlight of the connection but I was completely wrong. They have a connection that they cannot fight even as they both try.

It was definitely a case of insta-lust but I liked that Rylee fought the attraction and Colton despite his fierce determination. I agreed with Rylee in that part of Colton's attraction to her was that she said "no" but clearly it was more and became so much more.

2) How do you feel about the reasons behind both Rylee's and Colton's attempts to keep distance between them? 

Both characters have some very dep emotional reasons for wanting distance. Although they are very different, they both run very deep and have closed themselves off. It was very difficult to hear Rylee's story but the bits and pieces of Colton's that we have seen are very disturbing and we still don't know the whole story. So while Rylee's reasons are very sad, Colton's just piss me off.

Rylee's reasons - which we become intimately aware of - broke my heart. And she hasn't shared everything yet - at least with Colton. To experience all she did and then to be treated the way she was by people she trusted (at least I assume she trusted) was awful. She's certainly scarred physically and emotionally, and rightfully so.
Colton's reasons we're only guessing at and I'm getting an idea they aren't pretty. They must be beyond terrible if the life he was eventually gifted wasn't able to help him heal at all.

3) What do you think about Rylee's profession and how it relates to Colton's issues?

I believe the work she does helps her relate to Colton but as in many situations it is hard to see things in your personal life even if it is part of your work life. Rylee is very giving and definitely not selfish in any way but still has difficulty dealing with some situations due to it affecting her heart and not her job.

I love that she's working to help a population that is probably largely ignored. I think it helps her deal and heal from some of what she's gone through. And it puts her at an advantage in knowing how to approach Colton at times. I find it ironic that Colton believes he's so irrevocably damanged and yet you can "feel" his hope that Rylee will be the one to heal him.

4) And that brings me to wondering how you felt about the push and pull between these two and the angst is caused.

As you read the story it is obvious that they care for each other but they can never be on the same page at the same time. The push and pull makes for a great story but at times I just wanted to tell them to get their act together and get on the same page.

I did feel it was mighty angsty at times and while I don't mind angst, there were times I wanted to shake them both and yell "Make up your mind!" Honestly, that was the only downside to the story so far.

Overall, I liked the story, the plot, and the character development. I'm impressed with Bromberg considering this was her debut. And I'm anxious to start Fueled - which I know you've already finished. I'm eager to get the story behind all of Colton's demons and to see him healed...because I know he's capable of being "fixed."

It is a great story. I love the chemistry. Broberg really knows how to write a cliffhanger which makes you buy the next book at 11 p.m.!!!!

In the end, both Denise and I gave Driven 4 Bookworms and I know we'll be continuing the series...Denise is already one ahead of me!

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Release Day Review ~ The Sexpert ~ JA Huss & Johnathan McClain (@JAHuss @MisterJMcClain) #2018NewRelease

The SexpertThe Sexpert by JA Huss & Johnathan McClain
Tall, Dark & Handsome #1
Release Date: July 24, 2018
Genre: Adult, Contemporary Romance, Romantic Comedy
Source: I received an eARC from the authors. This did not affect my rating and I voluntarily provided a review.
Rating: 4.5 Bookworms
Challenges: #2018NewRelease


I'm just a simple girl who likes dessert. And sexy men. And social media. So starting an anonymous video channel call The Sexpert as a side hustle to make up for my low-paying marketing job at Le Man Magazine seemed like a perfectly sensible career decision. Until we went viral, my boss accused my anonymous personality of stealing his idea, and now my super sexy new boyfriend, Andrew, is out to get me.

Her. Me. Whatever.


I don't want it to be her. I do not want this... sweet, delicious, shy social media nerd working at my best friend's magazine to be the face behind those perky cupcakes on the Sexpert channel. I don't want it to be her... because I like her. A lot. She's funny, and quirky, and smart, and creative... and... I really, really like her. It just can't be her.

But it is.
And now I have to choose.
My best friend?
Or... The Sexpert?

I met up with JA and Johnathan - actually met Johnathan for the first time - at Book Bonanze the night after I finished The Sexpert. The first think I did was ask JA if the TDH (Tall, Dark & Handsome) neighborhood was real. Okay, I actually first said how much fun the book was but I seriously was dying to know. It's not real. Phew! I know I'm out of the loop but I was hoping I wasn't that out of it. ;)

Anyway, Huss and McClain's foray into the world of romantic comedy was a fun time. It was the perfect blanace of comedy and romance and it dealt with relevant topics as well as taking us along for the ride for the journey of self-discovery both Eden and Andrew found themselves on.

Eden meets Andrew on a day that's seeminly indicating her life is changine...and all for the better. Then things take a downturn when she finds out Andrew - this guy she could really, really like, is tasked by her boss to figure out who the person behind The Sexpert is so he can sue her for intellectual property theft.

Andrew meets Eden on his first morning in town and he thinks Denver is looking mighty nice. The shine begins to fade a little when he starts thinking that the girl he just met - a girl that he could really, really like - might be the person behind The Sexpert and therefore his best friend's nemesis.

Y'all, the premise hooked me and the characters reeled me in. I adored Eden's awkward quirkiness and I enjoyed Andrew's artistic and compassionate way of looking at things. Their interactions were entertaining no matter what they were doing - looking at art or mountains, discussing work or sex. That they couldn't ignore the pull they felt despire knowing they could each make life messy for the other was fun and compelling. And I appreciated how they each learned so much about themselves in the process of trying to figure out how to do the right thing - decide what the right thing even was. Sigh. So good.

I look forward to more in this series and hope to see more of Eden and Andrew. Huss and McClain impressed me here. RomCom from this duo seems promising and I'm excited.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

New(er) Release Review ~ Before and Again ~ Barbara Delinsky #2018NewRelease

Before and AgainBefore and Again by Barbara Delinsky
Release Date: June 26, 2018
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Fiction

Source: I received an eARC from St. Martin's via Netgalley. This did not affect my rating and my review is provided voluntarily.
Rating: 4 Bookworms
Challenges: #2018NewRelease

Mackenzie Cooper took her eyes off the road for just a moment but the resulting collision was enough to rob her not only of her beloved daughter but ultimately of her marriage, family, and friends - and thanks to the nonstop media coverage, even her privacy. Now she lives in Vermont under the name Maggie Reid, in a small house with her cats and dog. She's thankful for the new friends she's made - though she can't risk telling them too much. ANd she takes satisfaction in working as a makeup artist at the luxurious local spa, helping clients hide the visible outward signs of their weariness, illnesses, and injuries. Covering up scars is a skill she has mastered.

Her only goal is to stay under the radar and make it through her remaining probation. But she isn't the only one in this peaceful town with secrets. When a friend's teenage son is thrust into the national spotlight, accused of hacking a powerful man's Twitter account, Maggie is torn between pulling away and protecting herself - or stepping into the glare to be at their side. As the stunning truth behind their case is slowly revealed, Maggie's own carefully constructed story begins to unravel as well. She knows all too well that what we need from each other in this difficult world is comfort. But to provide it, sometimes we need to travel far outside our comfort zones.

I knew here name but I'd never read BDelinsky before. The synopsis of Before and Again intrigued me though so I requested it. I'm so happy I did. Delinsky delivered a character-driven, captivating story dealing with love, loss, guilt, forgiveness, and what it means to be a true friend.

  • Characters
    Maggie (Mackenzie) is the central character and she was a woman I wanted to wrap up in a big, warm hug. She's endured so much and has built a new life in a small, quiet town, and made new friends. She's on a journey of self-discovery of sorts and she's forced to learn a lot about herself when her past shows up in her present, along with helping a new friend face a challenge. The supporting cast was also well-developed where it needed to be - especially Maggie's friends and Edward. I admired how Delinsky created a close-knit community where, for the most part, people rallied around their own even if "their own" weren't life-long residents. That's something I really enjoy about small town settings.
  • Plot
    Delinsky deftly wove together plot threads from past and present as Maggie put together the puzzle of her life. I appreciated how Maggie's past was dealt with and how the present, particularly helping Grace deal with her problem - something Maggie wished she'd had friends do for her - tied those threads together with the present enabling Maggie to see a real future for the first time in a long while.
  • Message (for lack of a better term)
    Before and Again deals with some weighty topics but does so adroitly. I liked what Maggie's story seemed to say aobut how our pasts shape us, are a part of us but don't define us. I liked the element of forgiveness - of others but especially ourselves. I also liked the ways in which Maggie learned about love - familial and romantic - and friendship - what it means to be a good daughter, wife, and friend.

I'm delighted with my introduction to Delinsky and will definitely be reading more from her.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Audio Review ~ Even the Score ~ Beth Ehemann #AudioChallenge #COYER

Even the ScoreEven the Score by Beth Ehemann
Narrated byChristian Fox and Lucy Rivers
Release Date: September 6, 2016
Genre: Adult, Contemporary Romance
Source: Purchased on Audible
Rating: 4 Bookworms
Challenges#AudioChallenge, #COYER, #ShelfLove

Single dad Andy Shaw loves his job as a sports agent, with one exception: it doesn't leave him much time for his kids. No parent likes being sidelined, so Andy decides to hire someone to share the workload. But when one of the hottest agents in the industry applies, Andy knows that this deal is definitely trouble.

Danicka Douglas works her butt off, but being an attractive woman in a testosterone-heavy industry isn't exactly a cakewalk. She guards her professional reputation fiercely, which means no crushing on her gorgeous boss. But the more they ignore that sexy little spark, the more it sizzles...

Just when it looks like romance might be in the plan, Dani is threatened by a stalker with dark intentions. To keep her safe, Andy must cross the line between professional and very personal...because this time, he's playing for keeps.

Even the Score was my first Beth Ehemann read and I'm eager to read her backlist now so I can get the stories behind a few of the characters I met here. Andy and Danicka's story was one I enjoyed even though I wished a few things had been handled differently.

What Worked:

  • Characters Andy is a good guy. A single dad who has built his business and life around providing for his kids. In order to spend more time with them he decides to take on a partner - enter Danicka. Danicka is a strong and intelligent woman making a name for herself in a male-dominated profession. I liked them both, who they were as individuals - loyal and compassionate and funny - and I liked them together. They built a friendship first and then worked at the more.
  • Plot The circumstances that enabled Andy and Danicka to get closer, while maybe a little predictable, felt realistic. Ehemann was able to surprise me with the reveal which kinda shocked me. I appreciated the suspense and tension these circumstances created. I also liked the sports management element which kept me guessing.
  • Romance This is a slow-burn and it worked. There were many things to consider before going in - Andy and Danicka's work relationship, Andy's kids, their pasts - but I liked how Ehemann made it all work.
  • Narration I admit to having grabbed this book because I adore Christian Fox's narration. And he proved once again why he's one of my favorites. His delivery, his pacing, his voices...gah! I just love him. Lucy Rivers is a narrator I enjoy as well and that's a good thing since she's routinely paired with Christian Fox. ;)
What Could Have Worked Better:
  • Danicka's Issues I felt like there were things - like her being raised by a single dad - that could have been explored more which would have given her more depth and complexity.
  • The Reveal The reveal honestly surprised me but at the same time, I think it was tied up way too neatly. That part wasn't realistic all things considered.

Overall, I liked Even the Score and I'll be adding more of Ehemann's books to my library.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Blogger Chick Chat Review ~ Bad at Love ~ Karina Halle #2018NewRelease #AudioChallenge

Bad at Love by Karina Halle
Narrated by: Cornell Collins and Jo Raylan
Release Date: March 27, 2018
Genre: Adult, Contemporary Romance
Source: I received a complimentary copy from Tantor Audio. This did not affect my rating and my review is provided voluntarily.
Rating: 4.5 Bookworms
Challenges#2018NewRelease, #AudioChallenge

She's bad at love, but he's even worse...

Marina is hot, blonde, and wickedly smart, but when it comes to men? She's hopeless. Between her quirks and her lack of filter, there isn't a man in Los Angeles that will stick around after the third date.

Her handsome, charming friend Lazarus has the opposite problem. Everyone wants to be the sexy Brit's girlfriend, but he gets bored and moves on quickly.

There's only one way to figure out why neither of them has cracked this love thing -- they'll date each other. On paper, it's the perfect experiment. But in reality, things between Marina and Laz get complicated quickly.

They might be bad at love, but they are even worse at being friends.

Hi wifey! I'm so happy we buddy read Bad at Love - you know, Karina Halle seems to be our "go-to" author for these. ;) Okay, let's chat!

What did you think of Laz's serial monogamy?

Me: I found it very interesting that he dated for periods of time but always had a girl to move to immediately - and that it was easy because he never got close to a girl or let them get close to him. It said a lot about his feelings on relationships even though he felt he was doing a good thing.

Lex: I thought that Laz's serial monogamy was a way for him to not be alone, but also to not be invested. He made himself believe what he did was OK, because he didn't cheat. However, he also didn't really give his girlfriends a chance, as he always knew there was an expiration date.

And what about Laz's career? Poet? Lead singer of a cover band?

I felt both were ways to keep people from really knowing him since poetry is open to interpretation and singing someone else's lyrics allows you to hide. Both were brilliant ways to develop Laz's character and convey the issues he had due to his past. But I loved that he was open with Marina - showed her his true self - and it was easy with her.

Yummy! I loved both his poetry and his music - even when he sang cover songs, he kind of did make them his own. But yeah, he always took the safe road, not taking risks or showing anyone who he really was. I loved his and Marina's friendship too - you know friends to lovers stories are among my favorites, and with Bad at Love, that was one of the things that really made me swoon.

Marina was quirky and I loved her for it. How do you think her childhood influenced her career and relationship choices?

I adored the bee lady! She was out to save everyone - and the planet - one bee at a time. So her career said a lot about her need to save since she was unable to save someone close to her and I think she felt she failed at saving another someone close to her as well. Her relationships and the way she sabotaged them was a self-preservation mechanism. You can't get hurt if you don't let anyone close. In that way, she and Laz were similar. And yet they let themselves be close to each other...because romance was out of the equation. Until it wasn't...

I adored Marina and her awkward dorkiness! It was so funny how she'd have extra coffee and then too much wine at her third date - making sure it would be a disaster, then doing her bee-dance at the end. :D Definitely a self-preservation mechanism, plus, I am pretty sure her subconscious knew there was only one man for her, all the others were just fillers.

Marina and Laz's friendship was miraculous considering how "bad" at love they were. Did you think Laz had ulterior motives for his suggestion about them fake dating or do you think he was genuine and then was genuinely surprised by the results?

I thought he had ulterior motives until I saw his reaction to how good they were together. I was happy about that - but I also felt Marina needed the fake dating to get past her "need" to sabotage things. Then of course I wanted to string Laz up for doing what he always did. I mean, I understood but that was when he should have leaned on Marina... *sigh* All's well that ends well though. :D

I don't think Laz had ulterior motives per se, but he did have strong feelings for her from the beginning, I'm sure of that. However, when things started getting more tangled, he really didn't know what to do with all those feelings he had kept at bay for so long. I cried with Marina when Laz was stupid like that. And while I could kind of understand him, I had hoped he'd be stronger with her.

What did you think overall? And did you get the feeling that this might have been a bit autobiographical? Marina? Lazarus "Scott"?

Overall, I liked Bad at Love. I do love a friends-to-lovers romance and this one just really worked for me. I loved that they'd found their "weirdo" and *finally* figured it out. And I did wonder at whether this was semi-autobiographical since Marina is similar to Karina and her husband's name is Scott... In any event, it was a great read!

I didn't even think of that at all! Autobiographical? Eh...
I loved that Laz and Marina found their weirdo, too, what more can we all ask for, right? I've even found more than one weirdo, since I now also have you, wifey. ;)

So there you have it! Both Lexxie and I adored these characters and how they found their way to love. *sigh*

One thing to note: I actually listened to Bad at Love, which was narrated by Jo Raylan and Cornell Collins. These were both new-to-me narrators and I was impressed. They kept the pace just right as well as kept their voiced distinct and consistent. And they both conveyed the depth and breadth of emotions - especially during the sexy scenes. ;)