Book Review, Kindle Unlimited, New Release, Romance, Uncategorized

Book Review – New Release – “Crush” by Mae Wood

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I was given the opportunity to read and review Crush, a brand-new release by Mae Wood. It was a quick, fairly enjoyable read, but it had some strikes against it for me from the start. This was not the author’s fault, it’s just that there are certain tropes that I enjoy and some that I don’t. This one happened to have several that I do not like to read!

First, here’s the official blurb:

The only thing headier than wine is lust.

Ryan Royer thought his business trip to California’s Napa Valley would be easy. Land a new client. Taste wine. But when the client is a free-spirited bombshell who presses all of his buttons, Ryan’s world goes sideways.

Kenzie Balfour is entirely irresistible. She’s the fourth generation to run The von Eck Estate Winery and she’s more intoxicating than any award-winning cabernet.

Ryan has been working hard for a promotion at one of the world’s top investment banks. If he can close this deal for her legendary winery, he gets the job. He can’t let a gorgeous woman with a great laugh get in the way of his goals. Even if she leaves him love drunk.

From a trouser-tightening almost-kiss at a restaurant to a seductive walk through a vineyard at sunset, can Ryan keep his crush on his client under control or will a taste of Kenzie be his downfall?

Escape to California’s wine country in Crush.”

I don’t read blurbs for books written by authors I like. I trust them to tell a good story, and I don’t really care that much what the story is about. Unfortunately, this is not a book I would have chosen if it were not written by an author I really like, for a couple of very basic reasons.

First, there’s the Insta-Love. I’m not a fan. It’s one of the reasons I don’t like to read short stories. I like it when the couple has time to develop their relationship. Call me old fashioned, but I’m not a fan of people jumping into sex when they hardly know each other. And I’m even less of a fan when they’re almost immediately “he was IT for me.” Please. They just met.

Second, and this is a big one, the heroine was 22. 22! I haven’t been 22 in a VERY long time, and while I do like to read stories about people of all ages, I just couldn’t relate to Kenzie. She was just finishing college. I have a daughter who is just a couple of years younger, so I usually stay away from books whose main characters are so young. (To be fair, Ryan is 30).

Third, this story also has a “forbidden love” aspect to it. It’s not spoiler-y to say that Kenzie is one of Ryan’s clients, and he could jeopardize his job by getting involved with her. To me, this would not be worth it and I could not see myself making that choice for any reason.

If you would like to read a wonderful – but very different – book by this author, I’d recommend Genealogy. It was one of my favorite books from 2018! You can read my review here.

Find out more about Mae Wood

Read Crush in Kindle Unlimited

Read Genealogy in Kindle Unlimited

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Book Review, Books, Kindle Unlimited, Romance, series, Uncategorized

Book Review: Insatiable by Melanie Harlow, Cloverleigh Farms book 3

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4 of 5 swoony stars

Several years ago, Melanie Harlow was one of the first authors that I fell in love with when I started reading romance again after a long hiatus. Her book Some Sort of Love, from the Happy Crazy Love series, is still one of my favorite books. Melanie Harlow is from Michigan, like me, and I enjoy the references to places that I’m familiar with in each of her books.

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I enjoy this newer Cloverleigh Farms series. I’ve read books 2 & 3, both of which have couples with a complicated history. In book 3, Insatiable, Noah and Meg have been best friends since childhood. He’s always been her protector, and even saved her life once. Although he has had more romantic feelings for her in the past, he’d never acted on them because he didn’t want to ruin the wonderful friendship that they had.

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When Meg comes back to town for her sister’s wedding, after years away, she asks him why he never made a move on her…and you can guess what happens next!

One of the things I loved about Some Sort of Love was that hero, Levi, was the single dad of a son who was on the autism spectrum. As a mom of a special needs child, I don’t find families of special needs children represented much in books of any genre, so it is refreshing to find them in several of Melanie Harlow’s books. In this story, Noah’s twin brother, Asher, has cerebral palsy, which is what my son has. You get to read about the way his family cares for him, the blessings and the struggles, and also the doubts that his mom has in allowing other people to help care for him. I could definitely relate to that!

Melanie Harlow is GREAT at writing sexy times, and she never resorts to a stupid misunderstanding when it’s time for the Moment of Conflict, which makes her far above several of the authors I’ve read lately! I’m looking forward to reading the other books in this series: Irresistible, which is book 1, and the remaining books that I assume are coming, since there are 5 sisters in the Sawyer family, and April and Sylvia’s stories have yet to be told!

Read Insatiable in Kindle Unlimited

Book Review, Books, New Release, Romance, Uncategorized

Book Review: Man Cuffed, Man Hands book 4, by Sarina Bowen & Tanya Eby

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4 of 5 stars

I was very excited to read this book, and unfortunately, I was disappointed. Now, I will say that I was in a grumpy place romantically when I read this book, so I wasn’t really in the right mood for it, so that may color my review a bit.

It was very funny, as all the Man Hands books are, but not as funny as the others in the series. It was an interesting concept: Hot Cop who doesn’t date convinces Hot Neighbor, who is an actress, to be his date for his sister’s wedding. It seemed like it would be a Fake Relationship story, which I would have LOVED, but it didn’t really end up being that at all. There wasn’t a lot of sexual tension, either, because they were like NOPE, not going to have sex; let’s banter about how much we want to have sex; oh, okay, never mind, that rule isn’t that important, let’s have lots of sex. I did really like the banter, because they weren’t hiding how much they would have wanted to have sex if Mac didn’t have his Thou Shalt Not Sleep with Thy Neighbor rule.

There was some interesting family drama, which was unlike I’d ever read before, which caused a few enjoyable surprises. The thing I liked most about the book was all the references to the state of Michigan; being a Michigander, myself, I loved seeing familiar things mentioned.

All in all, I did not like this book as much as I wanted to like it. It was funny and well-written, and worth a read, but it just didn’t live up to my expectations. That, however, will not stop me from reading any and all Sarina Bowen & Tanya Eby books in the future because I’ve pretty much loved everything I’ve ever read from these talented ladies.

Man Hands series

Book Review, Books, Kindle Unlimited, New Release, Romance, smartypants romance, Uncategorized

Book Review: New Smartypants Romance Release “My Bare Lady” Scorned Women’s Society book 1, by Piper Sheldon

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4 out of 5 classic stars

“I have often walked down this street before….”

I don’t read blurbs, I’ve said it before. I signed up to read and review several Smartypants Romance books because I love Penny Reid’s work. I didn’t read any of the blurbs for any of the books that I agreed to read and review, because I don’t like to be spoiled. I want to go into a story knowing nothing, and experience it for the first time as I go along.

So as I was reading “My Bare Lady,” I was thinking that it was a very odd name for a book. Then, suddenly I realized what I was reading and I felt kinda dumb. 😀

I’m a huge fan of musicals, and I don’t know how I didn’t get this reference straightaway. I actually don’t love the story of “My Fair Lady,” but I do love most of the music, and I loved a couple of sweet little hints to the musical hidden in this book.

The thing I loved most about this story was how entrenched it was in Green Valley, Tennessee, and the story of Jethro Winston that I’d already become familiar with. (If you’re reading My Bare Lady and you HAVEN’T read any of the Winston Brothers books, then you’re missing out.)

I’m generally not a fan of books about motorcycle clubs, or the women associated with them. But I loved Prose before Bros, another Smartypants Romance book, which was about the Iron Wraiths, the main MC in Green Valley.  I liked Suzie Samuels, the heroine of My Bare Lady, who was involved in both this organization and the Black Demons, which was new to me. I did not like reading about some of the stuff that happened to her, which is the reason I tend to stay away from books that involve an MC.  But I loved Clifford “Ford” Rutledge, and I wanted both him and Suzie to find their HEA. They were interesting, complex characters, who brought out both the best and the worst in each other. And let us not forget Jack, and the ladies of the SWS.

This was not my favorite of the Smartypants Romance books that I have read thus far, but it certainly kept me on the edge of my seat and I couldn’t wait to find out how everything would be resolved. I love the idea of the Scorned Women’s Society, and I can’t wait to read more of their stories! Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go listen to the soundtrack of “My Fair Lady.”

My Bare Lady is available on Amazon through Kindle Unlimited!

SWS01-LIVE copy

Book Review, Books, Kindle Unlimited, New Release, Romance, smartypants romance, Uncategorized

Book Review: Smartypants Romance New Release “Prose Before Bros” Green Valley Library book 3, by Cathy Yardley

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5 of 5 spectacular stars

If you’ve been around the blog at all, you may know that I don’t like spoilers, so I don’t read blurbs. If there is an author that I love and trust (Lucy Score, Kristan Higgins, Sarina BowenChristina Lauren, Mae Wood, Daisy Prescott and Serena Bell, to name a few), I don’t need to know what a book is about before I start reading it. In fact, the less I know, the better. I’m the same way with movies. The only reason I can think of for this to be the case is that if I know that something is going to happen, I wait in expectation for that thing to happen and am not fully present in the telling of the tale. (For example, the first time I saw Endgame in the theater, I’d mistakenly thought that there would be an intermission, and spent the whole movie wondering when it would occur.)

When I found out about a collaborative writing universe, called Smartypants Romance, which would create a series of books that took place in the worlds created by the very talented Penny Reid, I was all in. I wanted to read every single book, and I didn’t care what they were about. I didn’t care who wrote them, or in which part of the “Pennyverse” they would take place, or who the main characters were. I. Was. In.

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I’ve read three of these delightful books so far: “Baking Me Crazy” by Karla Sorensen, “Stud Muffin” by Jiffy Kate, and now “Prose Before Bros” by Cathy Yardley. The first two were very good 4-star reads, but my favorite so far is the third one, and I’ll tell you why.

All three of these books take place in the fictional town of Green Valley, Tennessee, (home of the Winston Brothers series) and the first two stories revolve around the Donner Bakery, known for Jennifer Winston and her famous banana cakes. Meanwhile, Thuy Nguyen, the main character of this third title, works at the Green Valley Public Library. Now, I enjoy baked goods, but there is very little that I love more than books. (I write a book blog, so you probably knew that coming in!)

Thuy and I have a very similar outlook on bookstores and libraries: “There was a smell to libraries and bookstores that Thuy always found comforting. She took a deep breath, soaking in the ambience. Cliche as it probably was, it felt like coming home.” I’ve lived a lot of places, as my dad was in the Army (Happy Veterans Day to all who served, by the way!) and I would always seek out the local public library and I can still remember so many of them. They felt like home to me, too.

I loved Thuy (and I’m really glad the author told us how to pronounce her name – Twee – because if she hadn’t, it would have been like Hermione all over again!) Thuy is loyal, and smart, and strong, and determined, and not afraid to try new things. She goes across the country because her best friend Maddy needs her. As it turns out, Maddy’s brother should be familiar to anyone who read the Winston Brothers series. As I started reading Chapter 2 of “Prose,” and I realized who Thuy’s love interest was going to be, I got so excited that we were going to find out more about him, because I love a good backstory!

Copy of GVL03-LIVE

I don’t seek out a lot of MCC books, but the Wraiths, the motorcycle club in Green Valley, plays a big part in the Winston Brothers series. Maddy’s brother Drill, or Teddy, as she knew him growing up, is high up in the Wraiths, but the club has gone through a lot of changes of late, and he’s not sure he likes the new direction it is taking. When his father dies, and the sister he hasn’t seen in over a decade comes back to town to take care of the arrangements as well the family farm, he starts to see that there’s more to life than the Wraiths, and maybe they aren’t the family he thought they were, or the family he needs.

There are twists and turns in this story, and danger, and surprises. It kept me riveted, so much so that I rearranged my work schedule so I could finish it! This is my first book from Cathy Yardley, and peeking at the list of her other books, I found one that references The Doctor, so I’m pretty sure I’ll be checking those out, as well. I’m also very excited to read the other three books in the Smartypants Romance series that revolve around the Green Valley library (find them here!)

This book is exactly what I wanted from Smartypants Romance. I did enjoy the books about brand new characters, but I have a feeling that the ones about established Green Valley folk will be the ones I love the most.

Thanks to the author and Smartypants Romance for the chance to read and review this wonderful story!

Read Prose Before Bros on Kindle Unlimited

Book Review, Books, Kindle Unlimited, New Release, Romance, smartypants romance, Uncategorized

Book Review: Smartypants Romance release “Stud Muffin,” Donner Bakery book 2, by Jiffy Kate

4 out of 5 delicious stars

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This was a fun read, but it was more angsty than I expected. I liked the addition to new folks to the Green Valley that we know and love, while the occasional beloved character pops up here and there. I didn’t really like the view of the “religious” people in this book; they seemed VERY self-righteous in their piousness and they came off like real jerks. I liked Tempest’s outlook on God much better. She didn’t really like going to church but she recognized that God was there for her whether she went to church or not!

I’m not really a big fan of the MMR/fighter/boxer type books, but fortunately, Cage was more than that. He was a good friend to Tempest and was there for her when no one else was. I liked how their relationship developed.

This was my first Jiffy Kate book, and they are VERY good at the sexy times. I think some author pairs are excellent at writing together and you can’t tell where one author’s work begins and the other author’s work ends. That wasn’t the case here; occasionally, it was obvious that some sections were written by one author, they were so different in grammar and tone. It did not stop me from enjoying this story, nor will it prevent me from reading other books by Jiffy Kate.

Copy of DB02-LIVE

Available in Kindle Unlimited here: Stud Muffin

Book Review, Books, netgalley, New Release, Romance

Review of Dating by the Book by Mary Ann Marlowe

Four out of five delightful stars

I really liked this book, from its nerdy references (Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter) to the discussion of the more historical literary works (Jane Eyre, Little Women) as well as the peek behind the scenes of an author’s life, it was fun to read and very well written. There was also a bit of a mystery to solve, which I will not spoil, but it definitely kept me guessing and kept me reading!

That being said, this book should be considered less of a romance and more of a fantasy. Maddie, the heroine, had four men vying for her attention. Four! I can barely get one to show any interest, so I just had to chalk that up as a fantastical plot device. However, this was my first book by this author, and I requested it from Netgalley because I liked the summary, so I knew what I was getting into! I just had to suspend my disbelief a little bit.

I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that Maddie has a bit of an online flirtation going on with a reviewer she knows as Silver Fox, and I loved this aspect of the story! I think the “flirty exchanges with an online stranger” storylines are super sexy and fun. If only real life online dating went as well as what I read in books!

I also love books that make me say, out loud, “oh wow…” and this one did. I’m looking forward to reading this author’s other books and I’d encourage you to give this one a try! Thanks to Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review this book.

Buy Dating by the Book on Amazon here