Review: Rhapsodic (The Bargainer #1) by Laura Thalassa

Review: Rhapsodic (The Bargainer #1) by Laura ThalassaRhapsodic by Laura Thalassa
Series: The Bargainer #1
November 15, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 326
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Narrator: Susannah Jones
Length: 9hours 46minutes
Also in this series: A Strange Hymn
Also by this author: A Strange Hymn
Amazon US
Goodreads

Callypso Lillis is a siren with a very big problem, one that stretches up her arm and far into her past. For the last seven years she’s been collecting a bracelet of black beads up her wrist, magical IOUs for favors she’s received. Only death or repayment will fulfill the obligations. Only then will the beads disappear.

Everyone knows that if you need a favor, you go to the Bargainer to make it happen. He’s a man who can get you anything you want... at a price. And everyone knows that sooner or later he always collects.

But for one of his clients, he’s never asked for repayment. Not until now. When Callie finds the fae king of the night in her room, a grin on his lips and a twinkle in his eye, she knows things are about to change. At first it’s just a chaste kiss—a single bead’s worth—and a promise for more.

For the Bargainer, it’s more than just a matter of rekindling an old romance. Something is happening in the Otherworld. Fae warriors are going missing one by one. Only the women are returned, each in a glass casket, a child clutched to their breast. And then there are the whispers among the slaves, whispers of an evil that’s been awoken.

If the Bargainer has any hope to save his people, he’ll need the help of the siren he spurned long ago. Only, his foe has a taste for exotic creatures, and Callie just happens to be one.

Can we talk about this book for a minute? We really, really need to.

Rhapsodic is like…the perfect cup of coffee. You’re out to breakfast and the waitress pours your first cup. Then, you painstakingly add just the right amount of cream and/or sugar or honey or cinnamon or whatever additives you use to make that coffee JUST RIGHT.

Rhapsodic is that cup. It’s fantasy, complete with all the sexiest and most evil supernatural creatures you could want. It’s romance at it’s heartbreaking-ly best. It’s humorous, but never in a cheesy or over the top way. As if that all was not enough, it’s singed with this absolutely creepy, deliciously horrific plot line that kind of just scares the shit right out of you. Boom – perfect cup of java.

I guzzled it right up and am waiting for my refill.

Teach me again how to be someone’s nightmare.

Shall we take a quick break from my gushing to learn a little bit about the story? Sigh…I suppose.

Most of Rhapsodic is written in both the present and flashbacks to the past. We first meet Callie as a teenager, in deep trouble. With little option, she calls on the one person that can save her. The Bargainer (Des). Not a man you want to owe favors to if you can help it, but Callie really sees no other way out.

Seven years later, he’s popping back into her life and ready to collect on that favor and the many, many others she asked for in the year they first met. Some debts will be easy to repay, others will put her life in danger.

Normally, I’m not a huge fan of bouncing between past and present. However, it really worked here. Those bits gave us the foundation for Callie and Des’ relationship and how it’s really a second chance romance of sorts. It adds so much to the level of emotions this story produces from the reader and gives you a sense of Callie’s struggles, insecurities and current state of raw stubbornness to never be a victim again. I couldn’t help but love this girl.

Hell couldn’t give me a more wicked man; heaven couldn’t give me a more perfect moment.

Now, Des. Shit. This guy. Melted me. Utter goo, I tell you. He’s so dark and dangerous but when you get his honeyed moments, they are sweeter than sweet. Toothache sweet. I just wanted to lick those moments!

And the villain – ahhh, loved it! Thalassa wrote that like it came straight out of a horror book. It’s Fantasy, yes, but at it’s most disturbing. I don’t want to give anything away but the synopsis mentions missing warriors being brought back catatonic and with a baby at the breast. Creepy, yeah? Much more than you think.  The images now implanted in my head from this story are vividly disturbing. Of course, that only makes me love it more. Anyway…not only does Callie have to help solve this mystery but she has to survive a similar fate.

If you’re a romance reader that will generally shy away from Fantasy or even Urban Fantasy, due to lack of the sexy – have no fear. Rhapsodic has you covered. In spades. The sexual tension is spot on, the actual ‘get down’ moments were as well. Again – perfect cup of coffee!

I love you. I’ve loved you from the beginning. And I will love you long after the last stars dies. I will love you until the end of darkness itself.

Quick note on the audiobook, as I both read and listened, Susannah Jones nailed the narration. Could not have picked a better person! Not only do I want to binge all of Thalassa’s books now, but I want to binge all Jones’ narrations as well.

 

About Laura Thalassa

Born and raised in Fresno, California, Laura Thalassa spent her childhood cooking up fantastic tales with her best friend. Lucky for her overactive imagination, she also happened to love writing. She now spends her days penning everything from paranormal romance to young adult novels.

Laura Thalassa lives in sunny Santa Barbara, California with her husband, author Dan Rix.


read more

Review: Anti Stepbrother by Tijan

Review: Anti Stepbrother by TijanAnti Stepbrother by Tijan
August 21, 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 321
Format: Audio, eBook
Source: Purchased
Length: 10 hours 26 minutes

He told me to settle.
He asked what was wrong with me.
He called me an easy target.
That was within minutes when I first met Caden Banks.
I labeled him an *sshole, but he was more than that. Arrogant. Smug. Alpha.

He was also to-die-for gorgeous, and my stepbrother’s fraternity brother.

Okay, yes I was a little naive, a tad bit socially awkward, and the smallest amount of stalker-ish, but if Caden Banks thought he could tell me what to do, he had another thing coming.

I came to college with daydreams about being with my stepbrother, but what if I fell for the anti-stepbrother instead?

*Stand-alone novel

Where has CADEN BANKS been my entire life?!

Or more importantly why have I waited so long to read a title from TIJAN?!

I picked up AS shortly after its release in August for my reading preparation for the Mile High Author Event last year and I seriously FELL IN LOVE, madly in love with this book.  I’ve learned after quite a bit of trial and error that I love brooding heroes, quirky heroines, college romances, and somewhat realistic situations… Well this book had it all!  And I can’t go without mentioning that there was a Gilmore Girls’ reference which basically sealed the deal for me.

So with my growing obsession of audiobooks I seriously was on pins and needles waiting for the audio to release and it did not disappoint.  November 15th was marked on my calendar and as soon as the day came I listened all day and fell even more in love with Summer and Caden then I even thought possible.

Bailey Carr and Vikas Adam performed this story perfectly!

Summer Stoltz has this festering crush on her stepbrother Kevin and now that they are in college together she finally thinks its her chance… until she meets Caden Banks the big asshole.  But as time passes and her what begins as an accidental run in with Caden, who also happens to be Kevins fraternity brother, turns into a friendship that no one expected it becomes harder to see him as the  asshole she initially judged him as.

Summer and Caden develop this easy routine where they fall in line with one another and it felt like watching two magnets connect without any fuss.  I adored that so much of the book was spent exploring their friendship and adjusting to each others needs and then wanting to insert themselves into one anothers lives.

And once feelings are recognized is it only one sided?  What if the want for more than a friendship isn’t reciprocated?  All the unknowns surely can drive a person crazy.

Then the plot turned a bit more serious than I expected and for me this either goes one of two ways: it crashes and burns or it is the greatest thing to ever happen.  Since I want to give this book a million stars I am sure you can guess which direction it went.

Perfection, I don’t know what else to say about this book other than it was perfectly timed and executed.  In fear of ruining it with spoilers I will say whether you read the ebook, paperback, or listen to the audio the book translates well in any case!  One more thing, CHAPTER 35, chapter fucking 35.  Seriously I don’t want to admit how many times I’ve listened/read that specific chapter but I will say that it is in the double digits. 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save


read more

Review: Honor by Jay Crownover

Review: Honor by Jay CrownoverHonor by Jay Crownover
October 18, 2016
Genres: Romance
Pages: 368
Format: Audio
Source: Purchased
Length: 10 hours 15 minutes
Also by this author: Better When He's Bold
Amazon US
Goodreads

Don't be fooled.

Don't make excuses for me.

I am not a good man.

I've seen things no one should, done things no one should talk about. Honor and conscience have no place in my life. But I've fought and I've survived. I've had to.

The first time I saw her dancing on that seedy stage in that second rate club, I felt my heart pulse for the first time. Keelyn Foster was too young, too vibrant for this place, and I knew in an instant that I would make her mine. But first I had to climb my way to the top. I had to have something more to offer her.

I'm here now, money is no object and I have no equal. Except for her. She's disappeared. But don't worry, I will find her and claim her. She will be mine.

Like I said, don't be fooled. I am not the devil in disguise… I'm the one front and center.

Let’s start with a bit of a disclaimer. If you are a fan of the Marked Men series by Crownover, you may not like this book. Reversely, if you are NOT much of a fan of the Marked Men series, you may really enjoy this one. I know some of her long term fan base struggles with Crownover’s more suspenseful bad guys. I, however, do not. I enjoy the baddies. I enjoy the danger, the rough and tough world of The Point and characters it breeds.

Nassir is nothing like any character I have ever read. The prologue tells his past, in all its chilling and tragic glory. Nassir is an ex-terrorist, born and sold into some horrific situations, raised in hate.  He isn’t that anymore, but he’s still not good, he’s just a different sort of bad now and only one thing even remotely tames him.  Keelyn.  The only woman he’s ever loved and never had.

If you’ve read the Welcome to the Point series, you are already aware of these characters. While those titles will give you a bit of a back story on Nassir and Keelyn, you don’t have to read them first to pick up on Honor’s story. Keelyn has left The Point, Nassir stayed behind – building his empire – and is now determined to entice Keelyn back. Back to his city, back to his side and finally into his heart.

It’s clear from the beginning that both want the same thing, ultimately, they want to be together. Yet they are both such strong personalities, they continually butt heads on how to get there. Nassir is controlling by nature, Keelyn is determined to stand on her own.

The romantic struggle between these two isn’t the guts of the story, though. The real story lies in all the outside forces determined to drag Nassir, and everything he cares about, back to Hell. And also, what he and Keelyn learn about life and themselves, in the course of fighting those forces.

Crownover balances the scales of good and evil beautifully with Honor. Finding something worth holding onto in a world of bad things, some light in the dark, some hope in the midst of so much despair.

It’s no great hidden secret that I consider Jay a friend of mine, so you can take this with a grain of salt, if you so wish. But I do truly mean it when I say that her writing has grown so much over the past few years and this book proves it.

About Jay Crownover

I’m supposed to share interesting details about myself so that my readers get to know me so here we go in no particular order: I’m an natural redhead even though I haven’t seen my real hair color in years, I’m a big fan of tattoos and have a half sleeve on either arm and various other pieces all over the place, I’ve been in the bar industry since I was in college and it has always offered interesting insight into how men and women interact with each other, I have 3 dogs that are all crazy, I live in Colorado and love the snow, I love music and in all reality wish I could be a rock star not a writer or a bartender but I have zero talent so there is that.
I love to write, love to read and all I’m interested in is a good story with interesting characters that make the reader feel something.
Thanks for taking the time to check my stuff out….


read more

Audiobook Review: Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover

Audiobook Review:  Ugly Love by Colleen HooverUgly Love by Colleen Hoover
Published by Atria Books August 5th, 2014
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 337
Format: Audio
Source: Purchased
Narrator: Deacon Lee, Grace Grant
Amazon US
Goodreads

When Tate Collins meets airline pilot Miles Archer, she knows it isn’t love at first sight. They wouldn’t even go so far as to consider themselves friends. The only thing Tate and Miles have in common is an undeniable mutual attraction. Once their desires are out in the open, they realize they have the perfect set-up. He doesn’t want love, she doesn’t have time for love, so that just leaves the sex. Their arrangement could be surprisingly seamless, as long as Tate can stick to the only two rules Miles has for her.

Never ask about the past.
Don’t expect a future.

They think they can handle it, but realize almost immediately they can’t handle it at all.

Hearts get infiltrated.
Promises get broken.
Rules get shattered.
Love gets ugly.

This book.

Eff me, this book.

It’s been days, maybe even weeks, since I finished and my stomach still hurts when I think about it.  

I’m not sure why I started it.  I’m a huge fan of Colleen Hoover as a person (I mean, come on.  She’s hilarious.  Freakishly giving.  Her family is adorkable.  She’s just…the best.)   And then with her books I’m hit or miss.  Half of them are 5+ stars and destroy me, or I DNF them.  There’s no in between.  I didn’t plan to read this book, but somehow it was on my audiobook purchased list (no idea how) so I just said, “fuck it,” and started it.

The narrators kind of bothered me at first.  I wasn’t diggin’ the male voice at the beginning, and the chick sounded like a less annoying Miley Cyrus.  I almost switched to ebook version at one point… but before I knew it, the story had sucked me in and the voices just seemed right.

Anyway, Ugly Love follows two main characters.  Tate, the female, is in present tense.  Miles, the male character, in the past.   While we listen to Tate’s life in the now, her story with Miles in the now, we hear about Miles’ past from him.  So while their relationship seems like a disastrous hot mess, we’re given these little pieces of Mile’s past and it all starts to make sense why he is the way he is.

I connected to Miles on such a personal level.  What he goes through, what he felt…I’ve been there.  I’ve felt that.  I won’t say what, because it’s a huge spoiler, but Miles is… perfection.  Yes, he’s a fucking asshole as an adult.  But Miles as a teenage is EVERYTHING.  Everything.  Seriously.  Young Miles is the epitome of perfection, and I loved him.  I rooted for him, all while I knew it wasn’t going to end well because I could see what he was like as an adult.  An asshole.  Jaded.  Mean.  Stand-offish.  Broken.  Miles as an adult is fucking broken in so many pieces you can’t even imagine all those jagged edges finding their match and him being whole again.

And that killed me.  To know he was that fucked up.  And that adorable, perfect, hopeful young Miles was going to be destroyed in a terrible, awful way.

Miles and Tate are pretty much fuck buddies.  All sex, no feelings.  Don’t ask about each other’s pasts, don’t expect a future, just enjoy the now when it happens.

That’s obviously a disaster waiting to happen.

Anyway, I don’t know how else to describe this book without giving things away. But I can tell you it made me feel everything. I felt a ton of joy.  And I felt even more heartbreak.  My black, evil little heart fucking broke so hard at one point I was a sobbing, snotty mess.  Seriously, I cried my fucking eyes out.  The pain I felt was visceral and it destroyed me.

Colleen Hoover is a fucking genius, and this book is 5+ stars on my scale.  I loved it.  I loved all the ugly parts and all the beautiful ones.  

 

 


read more

Audiobook Review: Love, Rosie by Cecelia Ahern

Audiobook Review:  Love, Rosie by Cecelia AhernLove, Rosie by Cecelia Ahern
Published by Hachette Books November 1st, 2004
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 512
Format: Audio
Source: Purchased
Amazon US
Goodreads

From the bestselling author of PS, I Love You comes a delightfully enchanting novel about what happens when two people who are meant to be together just can't seem to get it right.

Rosie and Alex are destined for one another, and everyone seems to know it but them. Best friends since childhood, their relationship gets closer by the day, until Alex gets the news that his family is leaving Dublin and moving to Boston. At 17, Rosie and Alex have just started to see each other in a more romantic light. Devastated, the two make plans for Rosie to apply to colleges in the U.S.

She gets into Boston University, Alex gets into Harvard, and everything is falling into place, when on the eve of her departure, Rosie gets news that will change their lives forever: She's pregnant by a boy she'd gone out with while on the rebound from Alex.

Her dreams for college, Alex, and a glamorous career dashed, Rosie stays in Dublin to become a single mother, while Alex pursues a medical career and a new love in Boston. But destiny is a funny thing, and in this novel, structured as a series of clever e-mails, letters, notes, and a trail of missed opportunities, Alex and Rosie find out that fate isn't done with them yet.

I’m going to start by saying I am definitely torn with how I feel about this book.  I listened to it, which was a total pleasure since it’s narrated by an Irish lassie and her accent is absolutely delectable.  The main characters are Irish and the book setting is mainly in Ireland and Boston.  So, listening to the verbiage in an Irish accent made my stomach all happy and content.

The book focuses on two main characters, Rosie and Alex.  It’s told entirely in letters, instant messages, emails, etc…. which is kind of fun and refreshing.   Alex and Rosie are BFFs since toddler age, and the story starts with them as wee bairns, talking about birthday parties and such.  It follows them through middle school, first girlfriends/boyfriends, first kisses, high school, college… then twenties.  Thirties.  Fourties.  FIFTIES.  Like… sweet Jesus.  Talk about a life story.

There are a TON of side characters.  Lots of side stories.  I loved it all.  All the characters are quirky and weird and interesting, and its really fun to see what happens through different eyes and opinions.

Anywho – Rosie and Alex.  Definitely destined to be together, eh?  And I would totally label this as a second-chance romance.  But let me tell you something important… it’s a fekkin’ journey to get to the HEA.  Yes, there is one, and at times you’re going to be SO FREAKING frustrated with the story and what happens that you’ll want to DNF.  Multiple times.  It’s a long damn story and it’s not all hearts and rainbows.  It’s actually kind of exhausting.

BUT, if you stick with it… if you decide to tough it out, enjoy the quirky little characters and what happens to them, you’ll finish the book in satisfactory condition.  Kind of.

Gah, I know this is the hottest mess of a review – but I can’t help it.  I loved the story.  But I kinda hated it, too.

I guess it’s been published under different titles, and it’s a movie, too – so I’m definitely going to check out the movie.  The guy that plays Alex is the dude who’s in Me Before You, plus this author wrote P.S. I Love You.   So….  watching the movie is sooo happening.  I’m interested to see how the book translates to film, because this plot would be hard to execute.

Anyway, cute story.  At times it was a five star listen, and at times I wanted to throw my phone out the car window… so I’m averaging this bad boy at 3 happy little Irish stars.   🙂


read more

Audiobook Review: The Coincidence Of Coconut Cake by Amy Reichert

Audiobook Review:  The Coincidence Of Coconut Cake by Amy ReichertThe Coincidence Of Coconut Cake by Amy Reichert
Published by Simon & Schuster July 21, 2015
Genres: Women's Fiction, Romance
Pages: 318
Format: Audio
Source: Purchased
Length: 7 hours and 32 minutes
Amazon US
Goodreads

YOU'VE GOT MAIL meets HOW TO EAT A CUPCAKE in this delightful novel about a talented chef and the food critic who brings down her restaurant—whose chance meeting turns into a delectable romance of mistaken identities.

In downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Lou works tirelessly to build her beloved yet struggling French restaurant, Luella’s, into a success. She cheerfully balances her demanding business and even more demanding fiancé…until the morning she discovers him in the buff—with an intern.

Witty yet gruff British transplant Al is keeping himself employed and entertained by writing scathing reviews of local restaurants in the Milwaukee newspaper under a pseudonym. When an anonymous tip sends him to Luella’s, little does he know he’s arrived on the worst day of the chef’s life. The review practically writes itself: underdone fish, scorched sauce, distracted service—he unleashes his worst.

The day that Al’s mean-spirited review of Luella’s runs, the two cross paths in a pub: Lou drowning her sorrows, and Al celebrating his latest publication. As they chat, Al playfully challenges Lou to show him the best of Milwaukee and she’s game—but only if they never discuss work, which Al readily agrees to. As they explore the city’s local delicacies and their mutual attraction, Lou’s restaurant faces closure, while Al’s column gains popularity. It’s only a matter of time before the two fall in love…but when the truth comes out, can Lou overlook the past to chase her future?

Set in the lovely, quirky heart of Wisconsin, THE COINCIDENCE OF COCONUT CAKE is a charming love story of misunderstandings, mistaken identity, and the power of food to bring two people together.

Awwww, this story!  I’m not even sure how I found it, to be honest.  It could have been some random recommended read by Amazon, or maybe I noticed it scrolling through Goodreads and saw a cake on the cover and automatically clicked, because…  well, cake.   But I am SO glad I did.

The Coincidence Of Coconut Cake is a quirky, adorable and delicious story told in third person narrative (which I’m weirdly picky about, and it’s done brilliantly, FYI.)  And while I might say “read” a few times in this review, really…I listened to it.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say don’t buy this book, well…that’s not right.  Buy it, but please, please, download the audio version, too.  The narrator is phenomenal, so much so, I spent a while going through all of her other books and after scrolling through a ton of weird self-help and Amish books, found she did some Elle Kennedy books too and promptly downloaded those.  I’m totally in love with her voice, her pronunciations, her story-telling skills.  Seriously.  The book goes back and forth with American, English, and some European accents and she did so good.  (Plus hearing the accents is a total bonus rather than reading them in your head.)

Okay, the story.  The story is focused on Lou, a chef.  And Al, a British food critic who recently moved to Milwaukee.  Al writes under a fake name and is notorious for amazingly harsh reviews that pretty much end up destroying one’s business if he hates them.

So, of course, when Lou finds her fiance wrapped in the arms of another woman, she had a terrible, horrible night at her restaurant fucking all sorts of food up…. which gets served to Al.   Womp, womp, wompppp.  Sucks to be Lou, right?

Lou and Al meet a couple times randomly, and after seeing each other at the pub, they agree to go out so Lou and show Al how amazing her city is (Al wants to get the fuck out of the cold, snowy, cow-town and find greener pastures to explore, pun intended.)  They both agree to not talk about their jobs, since Al wants to stay anonymous and Lou doesn’t want to tell a stranger about her dying restaurant and failed dreams.

Their relationship is adorable.  They both love food and all their dates are deliciously described.  And OMG, I was hungry this entire story and probably gained five pounds in three days from the munchies it caused.  Plus…  who knew Milwaukee could be so cool?  It was never on the List-Of-Places-For-Leah-To-Explore, but now?  Now I want to wear my fancy Romeos and fly over and eat a lot of cheese curds.

The side characters of this story are half the enjoyment.  The friends, the customers, the co-workers… all of them quirky in their own way, playing perfect roles to make the main characters that much more interesting, yet casting their own bright light of awesomeness.

This book was like watching an adorable romcom.  You pretty much know what’s going to happen and how it’ll end, but it doesn’t matter.  You love every second of it, you giggle, you snack, you smile the entire time.   I will definitely listen to this book again, and think of these characters often.

 

 


read more


%d bloggers like this: