Review: Bad Neighbor by M. O’Keefe

Review: Bad Neighbor by M. O’KeefeBad Neighbor by M. O'keefe
Series: Bad Boy Romance #1
November 1, 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 288
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Amazon US
Goodreads

He's sexy... He's dangerous... He's right next door.

I gave up everything to save my sister from a monster, and now I’m lying low in this rundown apartment so I can stay out of danger. Hiding from everyone.
Except for the guy in apartment 1A.
He’s rude. Silent. Muscled, mysterious, and hot as hell. I don’t know if he likes me or hates me, but the more time I spend with him, the less it matters.
I want him.
And for the first time in my life I'm going to go after what I want.

She doesn’t belong in my world.

From the second 1B moves in, I know she’s keeping secrets. She doesn’t belong here, much less with a street fighter like me.
But that doesn’t stop me from craving her. Her softness and sweetness. She’s a drug, and suddenly I’m addicted.
I know someone is going to try and hurt her and I can’t let that happen. But unless I push her away and get her out of my world, that someone could be me…

If you are not already reading O’Keefe, you should start. She’s got a way with unique characters that never fails to make me fall in love. I’ve read her Everything I Left Unsaid series and have a special little love affair with it’s darkly romantic perfectness. Bad Neighbor, while still giving you a full spoonful of edginess, is a much lighter read.

Most of that lightness comes from Charlotte, with her sunshine dresses, slight nerdiness and bumblebee window treatments. She’s nothing short of adorably awkward. She’s found herself in a shabby apartment complex, in a run down part of town, with little money – after selling off all her belongings to help her sister flee from a bad relationship. Charlotte never expects to find herself tangled in a strange relationship with her hot and cold and mysterious neighbor, Jesse. But that is exactly where she lands and when her sister’s past catches up to her, every future fantasy Charlotte had started to build, is threatened by a stark and possibly dangerous reality.

I really enjoyed Charlotte and Jesse’s ‘push and pull’ relationship. It’s obvious they both want the same thing but neither really understands how to go about getting it. Charlotte has some female insecurities and Jesse has a lifestyle that he would never wish on sweet and innocent Charlotte. So, it’s a fumbling sort of thing mixed with a few really sexy scenes. Which makes for quite a page turner. 

Bad Neighbor is a quick read, without too much drama and strife but enough going on to keep you fully invested and wanting more! Good thing book two in the Bad Boy Romance series comes early May – with a surprise baby, no less!!

 

About M. O’keefe

Molly O’Keefe has always known she wanted to be a writer (except when she wanted to be a florist or a chef and the brief period of time when she considered being a cowgirl). And once she got her hands on some romances, she knew exactly what she wanted to write.

She published her first Harlequin romance at age 25 and hasn’t looked back. She loves exploring every character’s road towards happily ever after.

Originally from a small town outside of Chicago, she went to university in St. Louis where she met and fell in love with the editor of her school newspaper. They followed each other around the world for several years and finally got married and settled down in Toronto, Ontario. They welcomed their son into their family in 2006, and their daughter in 2008. When she’s not at the park or cleaning up the toy room, Molly is working hard on her next novel, trying to exercise, stalking Tina Fey on the internet and dreaming of the day she can finish a cup of coffee without interruption.


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Review: Twist by Kylie Scott

Review: Twist by Kylie ScottTwist by Kylie Scott
Aprill 11, 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 288
Format: ARC
Source: Copy for Honest Review
Amazon US
Goodreads

When his younger brother loses interest in online dating, hot, bearded, bartender extraordinaire, Joe Collins, only intends to log into his account and shut it down. Until he reads about her.

Alex Parks is funny, friendly, and pretty much everything he's been looking for in a woman. And in no time at all they're emailing up a storm, telling each other their deepest darkest secrets... apart from the one that really matters.

And when it comes to love, serving it straight up works better than with a twist.

Twist is tricky book for me to review. I’m a big fan of Kylie Scott. She always draws me in with her humor, her unique characters and fun, yet emotional, story lines. But something about Twist felt…different. Not because it didn’t have all the things you expect with a Scott title. It did. They were there. But it took longer for them to surface, I suppose.

It was a bit like reading two books. The first 50% and then the second.

The first half is fairly slow paced, as we learn how Alex finds her way from Seattle to Idaho. It’s a cute take on mistaken internet identity, she believes she’s been getting to know one person but it turns out the real person returning her emails is his – much more responsible (and bearded) – brother, Joe. A lot of time is spent with the struggle of being lied to and of trying to re-trust someone after such a betrayal. All important stuff and I appreciate the realness of the timeline here.

But man, did I want them to remove some clothes earlier. 😉

I’m slightly kidding there. Mostly.

Once you  get to that half way point, the pace changes and the story heats up. It also allows for the characters to relax enough for that familiar funny to kick in. I really enjoyed the easiness between Joe and Alex at that point. They fit together really nicely, pushing each other just enough without making it too hard for the other person, as they both struggle with relationships in their own ways.  

By about 80%, I was fairly over the fact that we had a slower start. Then Scott pulled one of my all time favorite, and hardly ever used, moves.

In so many, many romances you hit that spot in the book. You know it’s coming. You know about when in the timeline (80ish %) it’s going to surface. It’s the all too familiar ‘break up’. Right? You know it. Something happens and one person gives up or leaves the relationship for one reason or another. Then you spend the next 10% of reading with them separated, before head is removed from arse and they reconcile.

We’ve seen it time and time again.

Well, Scott twisted that up a bit. In my favorite way. I won’t say how because I don’t want to be a spoilery bitch. But it’s different and I’ve only seen it in a few titles. That isn’t to say that there isn’t that emotional climax. It’s there, it’s just different and I fucking loved it. I re-read the last 20ish %. Twice.

While I would probably rate the front half about a two star, the second would be quite near a five. I ended up really enjoying it, as a whole.


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Review: Mister Wrong by Nicole Williams

Review:  Mister Wrong by Nicole WilliamsMister Wrong by Nicole Williams
February 27, 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 195
Format: eBook
Source: Copy for Honest Review
Amazon US
Goodreads

Cora Matthews grew up with the Adams’ boys, twin brothers and best friends who wouldn’t let anything come between them—except for her. One of them became her best friend; the other, her fiancé.

She always knew she’d wind up marrying one of them, and Jacob Adams is the epitome of Mister Right. At least until he fails to show up for their wedding.

As Jacob’s best man, and identical twin, Matt makes a split-second decision that will affect the three of their lives forever—he steps in to take his brother’s place. In front of the altar, exchanging vows with the woman he’s secretly been in love with for years.

But Cora finds out about the groom swap. The morning after the wedding. As if realizing she just slept with her fiancé’s brother isn’t disturbing enough, she’s forced to confront the feelings for Matt Adams she thought she’d buried years ago.

Through the course of her real honeymoon with her fake husband, she uncovers truths both Adams brothers were hoping to keep hidden, for opposite reasons. One to protect himself, the other to protect her.

She married the wrong brother, but what if he’s been the right one all along?

I’ve read about half of what Nicole Williams has written and I’ve really enjoyed everything I’ve picked up.  Mister Wrong is no different.

Mister Wrong is a short (like really short.  Less than 200 pages short) story that is a cute second-chance type romance involving Cora and twin brothers, Jacob and Matt.  She grew up with the Adams brothers since she was six years old, and has been in love with one or the other (or both!) since she can remember.

The story starts and she finds herself at the alter with her fiance’ (and high school sweetheart) Jacob.  But what she doesn’t realize is that Jacob is a no-show and she’s really exchanging vows with Matt, the brother who has been madly, deeply, and secretively in love with her, always, and is pretending to be his brother so that her heart isn’t destroyed on her big day.  Purely unselfish reasons….  maybe.

They find themselves on the honeymoon, alcohol and hormones take over, and boy do they have a honeymoon.  Their chemistry is on point, ya’ll.

And then of course, it comes to light the Matt isn’t Jacob, and Jacob is on his way to claim his fiance’ back.

There’s drama.  There’s good angsty parts.  There’s wonderfully sexy parts.  Matt shows some good alpha moments, too.

Overall it was a really good, quick story.  There are parts that I didn’t love…  where the story got unrealistic enough I was like, “Come on you guysssss.  This would never, could never happen.”  And usually when things like this are in a story (yes, I know this is all fiction, but there are just some things that are eye-roll worthy) I usually DNF.  But with Mister Wrong, I didn’t really care too much.  Yes, I noticed it was maybe a wee bit ridiculous, but it fit the story, the characters, and Nicole Williams is a strong writer.

I think if the story was a bit longer, and Matt and Cora had time together, building their relationship for the reader to enjoy…   for us to see their love, and get to enjoy the journey of them figuring them out… I would have given it another star, totally.

Don’t let my few hesitations hang you up from picking up this book.  It was sweet and sexy story that I think most people will really enjoy!

 


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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. 

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Review: The Unwanted Wife by Natasha Anders

Review: The Unwanted Wife by Natasha AndersThe Unwanted Wife Series: The Unwanted Series #1
Published by Montlake Romance March 25, 2014
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 249
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Amazon US
Goodreads

No one had ever looked at her and seen perfection—until now.

Delicate, titian-haired Theresa Noble has met her father’s associates in the past, but the gorgeous, Italian-born Sandro De Lucci leaves her speechless. Eighteen months into their marriage, however, Sandro has turned to ice. Desperate to escape a relationship that has proven to be as stubbornly passionate as it is cold and hateful, Theresa summons up the courage to ask for a divorce. But before he’ll grant her request, Sandro demands something from Theresa: a son.

The stalemate sickens her. Never mind that Sandro has yet to introduce Theresa to the large family that means so much to him. Or that Theresa overhears her husband on the phone with a mystery woman. Most damning is that Theresa senses, in Sandro’s treatment of her, the behind-the-scenes machinations of Jackson Noble, her cruel father. From the depths of her anxiety, Theresa must seek an empowering truth about the husband who calls her, with such cold affection, his cara, his beloved.

Revised edition: This edition of The Unwanted Wife includes editorial revisions.

For days and days, Debbie was telling the rest of us that we needed to read this book. She specifically told me that it gave her similar feels to Unbreak My Heart by Nicole Jacquelyn, a book I really enjoyed and cried at while reading. Something I just don’t do often. Well, I picked it up and she was absolutely right. It broke my heart in much the same manner.

Theresa married Sandro for love. What she didn’t realize was that he did not have the same motives for marrying her. While his cold demeanor towards her surfaced rather quickly, it took her a year and a half to finally realize that she is more than the nuisance Sandro treats her as. In their shared bed, he’s an attentive and giving lover. Outside the bedroom, he wants little to nothing to do with her. When she gets the courage to ask for a divorce, he gives her one condition. She can have her divorce, after she gives him a son. Now she must navigate a life with no purpose aside from being a brood mare and an unwanted wife to the man she once loved. 

Theresa is somewhat of a doormat, but when you get her history, you understand why. Normally, I am not so much a fan of this type of character but it works perfectly for this story and you do see her will to fight for herself.

Sandro, on the other hand, starts the story off as such a dickhead. You do eventually get an understanding of why he acts as he does, though there were still times that I was not very sympathetic to his plight. He does come through at pivotal times. I think I would have enjoyed an occasional trample through his brain, however.

I was on the verge of tears from start to finish, while reading this book. You cannot avoid feeling for Theresa. It’s such a depressing existence and Anders writes it in a way that each time you think there might be a little relief for your heart, you’re wrong. A new barb gets thrown and you are right back to feeling the sadness. I never, actually, cried but my eyes were welling with tears for much of the story. Which, I could not put down. Reading this over the holiday was a bad idea, I was ready to kick all my family out of my house so I could get back to reading.

I think Anders has cemented herself as one of my go to authors when I’m in need of some super-angsty-all-the-feels type reads. Well done.


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Review: Beard Science by Penny Reid

Review: Beard Science by Penny ReidBeard Science by Penny Reid
Series: Winston Brothers #3
October 11, 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: Copy for Honest Review
Also in this series: Grin & Beard it
Also by this author: Grin & Beard it
Amazon US
Goodreads

Make a deal with the devil and you might get what you want, but will it be what you need?

Jennifer Sylvester wants one thing, and that one thing is NOT to be Tennessee’s reigning Banana Cake Queen. Ever the perpetual good girl and obedient daughter, Jennifer is buckling under the weight of her social media celebrity, her mother’s ambitions, and her father’s puritanical mandates. Jennifer is officially desperate.

And desperate times call for Cletus Winston.

Cletus Winston is a puzzle wrapped in a mystery covered in conundrum sauce, and now he’s in a pickle. Despite being convinced of his own omniscience, extortion by the exalted Banana Cake Queen of Green Valley has taken him completely by surprise. So... what’s a maniacal mastermind to do?

Likely, the last thing you expect.

I can’t recall the last time I was so excited for a book. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all the Winston family goodness up to this title, but Cletus always held a special place in my heart. That spot has grown exponentially, after reading Beard Science (amazing title, by the way). 

Cletus and me…we have a thing. We have a connection. We would be friends if he were real or I was fictional. We’d go to each others birthday parties.

I don’t like to judge people. I love it.

I may or may not agree with that quote, but that is not relevant.

What is relevant is that Penny Reid nailed this story for me. First, she gave me Cletus in all his sneaky glory. He delivers some of the best quips I’ve ever read. He’s odd in the most endearing way but then she humanizes him with these beautifully quirky romantic moments. He was perfect and he will probably forever be towards the top of my favorite characters list. 

She needed distance, she needed space, and I needed her.

But Cletus is not the only character I fell for. I wasn’t really sure what to expect from Jennifer after reading the previous titles. Any ideas I did have….all wrong. I adored her. I adored her for her quiet intelligence, for her timid humor, for her resilience and for her ultimate bravery. She really is the perfect balance for Cletus, I could not imagine anyone being better suited.

The story flowed a little slower than the majority of romances these days but I never felt like I needed it to pick up the pace. It took a natural progression that I very much appreciated and I think is the only thing that would have worked for Cletus’ character.

It’s always so easy to fall into Reid’s stories, she writes with such harmony between her funny and her romantic. I could talk all day about how much I loved the people of this book, but I won’t, I’ll just say this – read this book. You’ll like it. It’s better than banana cake and I really like banana cake. 

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About Penny Reid

Penny Reid is a USA Today Best Selling Author of romantic fiction. When she’s not immersed in penning smart romances she works in the biotech industry as a researcher. She’s also a full time mom to three diminutive adults (boy-8, girl-6, and girl-4 months), wife, daughter, knitter, crocheter, sewer, general crafter, and thought ninja.


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Review: Black Swan Affair by K.L. Kreig

Review: Black Swan Affair by K.L. KreigBlack Swan Affair October 17, 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 370
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Amazon US
Goodreads

I’ve loved him as long as I can remember.

The gangly boy with big brown eyes and unruly hair who grew up into an intoxicating man. He wears scruff like he invented it and ambles with a swagger that makes panties drop.

Killian Shepard.

Shep.

We grew up together. We played Ghost in the Graveyard. Had our own rock band. It didn’t matter that he was five years older than me. It didn’t matter that he looked at me as a kid sister even as I grew into woman. It didn’t even matter when he left me behind to go to college and start his adult life.

He’d be back.
He was always meant to be mine.

He came back, all right. But instead of smelling of promises, he stunk of betrayal. And he destroyed me—us—the day he married my sister instead of me.

So I did the only thing a girl like me in my position could do.

I got my revenge.
I married his brother, Kael.
Now we’re one big happy f*cking family.

I’m not sure I’ve ever read a more convoluted story. I’m absolutely sure I’ve never read one with more nicknames.

Maverick (Mavs, Mavericky, Small Fry, Swan) has always been in love with Killian (Shep). He’s in love with her too, they have plans together, until he leaves town to become his ‘own man’ and when he returns it’s with the announcement that he will be marrying Mav’s sister, Jillian (Jilly, half of the “Illians” – yes…she shipped her characters). Killian won’t say why he’s marrying Jillian and in her own childish, snitty, revengeful ways, Maverick decides to to accept a marriage proposal from Killian’s brother Kael, (one of the few characters in the book who is sans a nickname) who has been in love with her for forever. 

Got that? Settle in, we’re just getting started.

I think this was supposed to be a story about Maverick finding out what love really is. It was not that for me. What this was for me, was a story about a bunch of selfish and ridiculous people. So, let me break it down for you a little.

Maverick grew up with Kael and his older brother Killian. As said, she has been in love with Killian since she was a girl. However, Kael is her best friend. Always been there for her, no matter what.  Here lies my first problem with the story. You don’t marry your best friend, knowing you are in love with someone else. Especially, his own brother. In my opinion, that makes you a horrible person. Kreig writes the story in a way to try to make you see that Kael wooed her, which he did attempt to do. But Maverick is constantly reminding the reader that she still loves Killian. Horrible person. I can’t get past that.

Adding to this horrible person theory, the first time she interacts with her best girl friend, she’s not kind to her either. Thinks about MaryLou’s (ML) voice as being grating and saying she needs a makeover. I had immediate unkind feelings toward Maverick as a character, which makes it very difficult to sympathize with her.

Furthermore, Kael is amazing. Kael seems to be the kind of man everyone should wish for. He was kind and caring and sexy and would do anything for Maverick. This makes Maverick even less appealing.

As the story progresses, so do her feelings for Kael. Yet, she still continues to remind us that she loves Killian. Something I could never understand. There were no scenes in this book that gave me that ‘Aha!’ moment of understanding WHY she loved him.  Not one. Again, how am I supposed to sympathize with her?

Then, after a really long time and whole lot of nonsense nicknames, you get to the big reveal. The ultimate betrayal. The reason why Killian left her for her horrid human of a sister. If you asked me to pick one word to describe the big reveal, that would be easy. It’s a word in the first sentence of this review, it’s a word I will always associate with this book.  It’s convoluted. Incredibly convoluted.

The kicker for me though, is that after the big reveal, Maverick still doesn’t seem to get things. She was still concerned about picking a man and in my head, there was no choice there. One man did everything to protect her, one didn’t.

Aside from all the things I just listed that bothered me, there was something else I couldn’t get over. It’s the way I felt manipulated as a reader by some silly scenes. Scenes that didn’t need to be there, they had really nothing at all to do with the story. One is very early on in the book, one is very late in the book. I say manipulated because the one early on is only there to keep you wondering but later you realize it was not at all what you thought it was and was actually completely pointless.

Now, let’s get to the nickname thing. I have no problems with a nickname. A. One. This book is full of them. I’ve given you some already. We learn about a childhood friend, they call him “The Hole”. Sam is also Hamhock. The karaoke DJ in this small town of 5k people where everyone knows everyone is Johnny Littleton, let’s call him J Ton when he’s actually hosting karaoke though. The restaurant they eat at is The Red Rooster, aka The Bloody Cock – sounds appetizing, eh? There is a dude called One Nut. Patsy, a waitress, but we call her Pat. Sally, called Sal. Get the point? I sure don’t.

While I see the appeal of this story in the synopsis, it did not deliver for me what so ever. I’d like to give it a couple of stars just because I made it to the end, but I think I can contribute that to the manipulation. Kudos to the author for carefully plotting the chapters the way she did. I can concede that one thing.  I guess it can have a star for that and a star for ultimately picking the right guy, even if it was for the wrong reasons. 


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