Tuesday, September 19, 2017

seriously romantic: better together by annalisa carr

the last thing aiden marlowe wants is to go back to london and step in for his father at the family business. but as better together opens he can't say no. not if someone is stealing from the company. and not now that his father is suffering from some serious health concerns.

when he gets to marlowe industries he knows immediately that there is something wrong. it's not just the possible embezzlement that is the problem. the air about the place is all wrong. even tallulah becks senses this. it used to be when she temped at marlowe there was a buzz of excitement and people seemed excited about what they were doing. but now people clock out early and spend more time socializing than working.

when aiden's original assistant resigns, and her replacement is a disaster, he ends up with tallulah as his temp. he and tallulah had literally run into each other a couple of times before, and each time he'd been struck by her fairy-like presence. she was like a breath of fresh air in a sea of corporate suits.

aiden and tallulah are total opposites. and at first he treats her like crap, because he needs to find a way to keep his distance from her. because if he's honest, and it's actually impossible for him to deny this for too long, he's so attracted to her. when they inevitably give in to all that chemistry one thing becomes clear--this might be for keeps. the idea of permanence terrifies tallulah. for one, she already put her life plans on hold once before for a guy, and she doesn't want to do that again. especially since this guy doesn't even live in the same city. she also has a lot of baggage, having been raised by a neglectful mother who struggled with addiction. so there are trust issues that need some working through. and these issues of theirs add some nice emotional depth to the story.

i enjoyed reading aiden and tallulah's story. the family issues that both characters had to face not only fleshed out who they were, but also gave some nice weight to an otherwise frothy romance.

**better together will publish on september 20, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of nina croft in exchange for my honest review. 

strictly literary: whispers of warning by jessica estevao

i really enjoy books set at the turn of the twentieth century. it was such an interesting time period, not just due to historical events, but culturally the world was changing. and the increased interest in the spirit world, is reflective of a world that was drastically shifting and yet trying to still hold onto the past. this is the second book in the change of fortune series, and i kind of wish i had read whispers beyond the veil first. not because whispers of warning can't stand alone, because it does, but because i would have liked to pick up ruby's story from the beginning.

the plot in whispers of warning revolves around the suffrage movement and when ruby's new mentor is killed, ruby can't stop herself from investigating the murder. i really enjoy these stories for the heroines with modern sensibilities navigating the world that seeks to silence their briliance. i love that they can overcome the constraints society places on them. i love the relationships they form with people of all walks of life. you get such a feel for the era, even though modern attitudes suffuse the narrative. if you like the veronica speedwell mysteries, you will like this series too.

**whispers of warning will publish on september 19, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of penguin's first to read program in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, September 18, 2017

seriously romantic: saison for love by meg benjamin

book 2 in the brewing love series, saison for love, connects aimless brewer/bartender liam dempsey with single mom and cheesemaker ruth colvert. even though they both lived in the small colorado town of antero, and liam's sister worked with ruth, their paths never really crossed until ruth decided to go out one night to let off some steam.

when liam notices her in his bar he's captivated. and soon they're enjoying one night of fun in the back room of his sister's brewery. ruth's life is complicated, what with raising her precocious daughter and running her small café/delicatessen. liam doesn't seem like the type to stick around when things get tough. he'd already bailed on his sister when their brewery hit hard times and as the bar he works for gets run into the ground he's already got a backup plan in his back pocket.

ruth doesn't think that she'll have any problem avoiding liam after their one night stand, after all she hardly knew of him before. but now she finds herself tripping over him all the time. if his goal is to wear her down until she can't deny him any further. well, it's effective. what makes liam and ruth so charming together is how well they balance each other out. where ruth is too serious, liam is light-hearted. ruth has put down roots, while liam is content to play the will-o-wisp.

as impossible as it seems for two very different people to work, liam and ruth are better together than they are apart. and once they figure that out good things happen.

**saison for love will publish on september 18, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled publishing (select contemporary) in exchange for my honest review.

seriously romantic: temptation and treachery by sahara roberts

temptation and treachery finds ice agent río getting tangled up with the daughter of the cartel boss he's been tracking for years. their meeting is entirely coincidental, and neither of them has any idea how intertwined their lives are. the chemistry between the two leads makes the story.

from the moment they meet, ending up in bed is a foregone conclusion. it doesn't matter how crazy or improbable the circumstances that bring them together are. the need they feel for each other strips away reason and their inhibitions. and for 24 hours they are lost in each other.

they go their separate ways, only to meet up in the worst possible circumstances. río finally has a bead on his target and celeste happens to be collateral damage. finding her again in a drug lord's safe house wrecks him. and when he learns her identity he doesn't know what to think or how to feel.

things get even crazier for them as they figure out that there is an unknown subject behind some of the attacks that río is investigating. but one thing remains true throughout the ordeal, it might be instalust with a side of instalove, but it's also undeniable.

**temptation and treachery will publish on september 25, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled publishing (ignite) in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

simply all about solace - a cover reveal

Title: Solace
Author: S.L. Scott
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: September 22, 2017
Add to Goodreads

seriously romantic: lust in translation by jenna bayley-burke

lust in translation pits sightseeing-minded xavier moreau against destination-focused jaime cruz. she's tagging along with him on a cross-country drive to her sister's wedding in medford. they have two weeks to get there, but she's done the drive in three days. xavier who is visiting from france has no intention of driving through america without stopping to see it.

it's xavier's car so jaime really has no leg to stand on when he insists on stopping at a haunted house. when a ghostly presence has her end up in his bed, xavier presses his luck and soon things get pretty steamy between them. jaime continues to protest that she needs to get home, but she allows xavier to pull her from place to place.

but the end of their road trip means only one thing. he has a life he needs to return to in france. and her family and her future job is in america. it takes a special kind of charm to close that divide, but xavier is certainly up to the challenge.

jaime and xavier are both meant to be conversational in a number of languages, but jaime is supposed to be fluent in spanish and xavier in french. the french bits were fine, but the spanish seemed like it had been run through google translate and never once checked by a native speaker. i refuse to believe that someone who is actually fluent in spanish actually read and approved those phrases because it read like gibberish to me. and i am actually fluent in spanish with working knowledge of italian, french and portuguese. this is a nit i am constantly picking at, but it happens to be a pet peeve.

**lust in translation will publish on september 18, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled publishing (lovestruck) in exchange for my honest review.

seriously romantic: for kicks by jenna bayley-burke

breeze cohen has one goal, to become the youngest store manager in the history of her company, supplanting her grandmother in the record books. when she meets logan chandler in for kicks, she has no idea that he's going to knock her off her path.

logan understands ambition. but he's also learned how to course correct when life throws obstacles in your way. his professional soccer career was cut short with a near-fatal accident and since then he's learned to jump into things. when he meets breeze his attraction to her is off-the-charts. it doesn't matter to him that their relationship might be construed as inappropriate given that they are working together on the same product launch.

logan is nothing if not persistent, and he can see that breeze feels the attraction simmering between them. he understands her reasons for keeping it quiet and does everything he can to honor her wishes. but it's hard for him to deny what he feels for her. he just needs her willing to take a risk on him, on how she feels about him. she's been badly burned once before. in a way that was life-changing.

being with logan brings her back to the girl she used to be. and that's just a little bit terrifying. because that girl was hurt and vulnerable. and feeling that way is the last thing breeze wants. but if you don't risk your heart, you don't gain love. it's a gamble, but a worthy one. and logan might just be a sure thing. this sounds super angsty, but it's actually not. this is fun and sweet, but not cloying. it's a solid contemporary romance. though be aware that while this is new to entangled's lovestruck imprint, this is a re-release. i never read the original so can't say if things have been edited.

**for kicks will publish on september 18, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled publishing (lovestruck) in exchange for my honest review. 

Saturday, September 16, 2017

seriously romantic: you can't hurry love by lee kilraine

the final cates brother gets his match in you can't hurry love, even though i doubt this is the last we'll see of climax, north carolina. paxton cates and jolene joyner have been at war ever since paxton cut off one of jolene's pigtails in kindergarten.

when jolene is forced to ask paxton for help out of a legal quandary, he decides to ask for a fake relationship as payment. jolene has always been such a goody-two-shoes, and he needs to project stability and family values if he wants to make partner at his law firm.

the thing is that jolene has been feeling disatisfied with where she is in her life. she's been acting like the good girl for so long that she's completely repressed the wild child she used to be. the why and wherefores are easily explained by the messed up family dynamics. jolene has a twin sister who went to the troublemaking extreme, and the more darlene acted out the more jolene behaved. soon it became second nature for jolene to ignore her wild impulses, and when her mother asked her to give up a career in dance—jolene's true calling—she did it. but in doing so she denies a part of her soul. 

deciding to fake date paxton is an act of rebellion. but paxton wants to date her for the steady, upstanding presence that no longer fits. and she's not sure what he'll think of the new jolene.

(spoiler alert: he likes new jolene. quite a lot.) 

the thing is, being with jolene now, has made him look at their long-time rivalry through a new lens. and what he realizes is that he never actually hated jolene. he always liked her. he liked to argue with her because that's what boys do when they like girls they're not ready to be in relationships with. 

one of the things that makes paxton a great hero is how emotionally honest he is. he realizes how he feels and he goes after what he wants. it takes jolene a while to understand what is happening, but it's easy to be sneaky when someone is avoiding you. 

the epilogue on this one was so sweet and closed the story out for these two characters perfectly. they ended up exactly where they were supposed to. 

**you can't hurry love will publish on september 19, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/kensington books (lyrical shine) in exchange for my honest review. 

seriously romantic: against all odds by jezz de silva

ryder harper gets on a plane back to australia expecting to only be down his leg. after all, he'd lost it years ago while on assignment in afghanistan. his experiences in war had him surviving death more than once. but when he meets his seat mate in against all odds, he's pretty sure that he's down his heart too.

the last thing abi expects is for a real life australian super hero to sit next to her. her luck hasn't been close to good recently, what with the rediscovery of her third brain tumor, a glioblastoma she's christened doris. this trip is kind of a last hurrah, a chance to see and experience the world while she still can.

but somewhere along the pacific, ryder and abi fall in love. not that they'll admit it. ryder knows it will scare her away. and abi doesn't want ryder loving her if it will only mean losing her. from then on this is the push-pull of the novel. abi's future, her health is something that hangs over the plot, sometimes it drags it down. in the end, the characters get a happy for now. but when you know enough about brain cancer, you know that at most abi has ten years. it's her third bout of the disease. it's hard to buy the happily ever after.

and there's nothing wrong with the "better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all" school of thought. it's just it's kind of a downer, and not what i'm looking for in my romance novels. to be honest, i prefer my romances to be cancer-free.

**against all odds will publish on september 18, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled publishing (select contemporary) in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, September 15, 2017

seriously romantic: diving in by kristina mathews

the swift brothers series comes to a close with diving in, where we meet kyle, the long lost swift brother. he's on a recon mission to buy out the swift whitewater rafting business out from under his brothers. but early on he finds himself more focused on strong blonde, fisher jones.

from the moment he sees her at a bar and they share this incredible night together, to finding out that she's connected to the business he's been brought on to convince to sell, he knows she will be his. he's not the kind of guy to give up at the first sign of adversity. and it doesn't matter the obstacles fisher throws in his way, he makes sure that at the end of the day, she's in his bed.

kyle is a really good guy, and being with him proves to fisher that whatever she felt for cody was a pale imitation of love. things between kyle and fisher get serious fast, but you still get a lot of time to enjoy them together as a couple. when all their secrets are revealed, how easily some of these things are accepted stretch reality, but it doesn't matter. in the end, this was an enjoyable contemporary read.

**diving in will publish on september 19, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/kensington books (lyrical shine) in exchange for my honest review.

seriously romantic: game on by lynn stevens

game on picks up after the events of full count. the westland baseball team has been racked with a steroid scandal and the remaining players are suffering the consequences. devon miller for one is trying to keep his head in the game both on the field and off.

olivia dawson is the one person who keeps him off his game. she's the girl who got away after they had a one night stand freshman year. at the time she was seeing someone, and then they were often in the same classes, competing for the same awards.

while olivia can't figure devon out, his intentions are clear from the get go. the problem is that olivia doesn't trust devon. she doesn't trust his motives, she doesn't trust his feelings for her, she just doesn't trust him.

and this is what keeps derailing them. trust. both of them have their reasons for distrusting each other. but at the end of the day the only way forward is for them to risk everything and trust each other with their hearts. because what grows between them is something special and sweet and strong.

i loved olivia and devon together. i enjoyed game on so much. moreso than full count because here neither lead does anything so catastrophically stupid. olivia and devon are complex and fully realized and that makes everything that happens between them resonate deeply. i loved it.

**game on will publish on september 18, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled publishing (embrace) in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

something from the archives: say goodbye - part 37

parts 123456789101112131415161718192021222324252627282930,  31323334, 35, and 36 can be read by clicking the links.

while part 36 follows the jump...

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

seriously romantic: the best man's proposal by wynter daniels

the thing about the best man's proposal is that i don't actually remember him proposing anything. because the whole thing that gets niki and grant living together is niki's sister and new husband's doing. it's super awkward because niki and grant had just had the best one night stand, and now they are supposed to be roommates.

it's a temporary thing though. grant is selling his house to move back to upstate new york, and niki has a job offer that could have her moving to london. everything they want for their future is the complete opposite. grant wants to work back on his family's farm and find a way to serve his community—he's a firefighter in miami. and niki wants the city life. she wants thrills and excitement.

but for all that they want opposite things, they also want each other. being in each other's space all the time only brings out the blazing hot chemistry they have. but how can they have a future when there is no middle ground to compromise on? how can they make it work without one of them having to give up their dreams?

grant is always ready to save the day for niki, but he already gave up his dreams for someone once, and he doesn't have it in him to do it again. even though niki is worth it. but are her dreams really what she wants? or have her dreams changed?

there are lots of questions here. and they do all get answered. niki and grant have something worth fighting for. as roommates they fit into each other's lives just so, so there has to be a way to figure it out long term.

**the best man's proposal will publish on september 18, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled publishing (lovestruck) in exchange for my honest review.

seriously romantic: breaching the contract by chantal fernando

when katerina dawson starts her job as an associate for jaxon bentley in breaching the contract she's hit the jackpot. he's encouraging and gives her more opportunities than most first-year associates ever get. when he is called away for a family emergemcy she gets stuck with tristan channing, who is jaxon's complete opposite on the manager level.

he has her running errands, picking up and babysitting his kids, getting his coffee; and she's furious but she doesn't—can't—say anything. he's her boss. she's a first-year associate. but soon she starts to see the stress he is under. and a part of her can't help wanting to help him. 

because as much as she keeps reminding herself of the boss-employee thing, as much as she tries to focus on how he treats her like a secretary instead of a colleague, as much as they both try to keep their distance, the attraction between them sparked from the first moment they laid eyes on each other in a coffee shop without knowing who the other person was. 

and soon enough there is no way to deny it. they make sense together. and even when tristan tries to put some distance between them as he deals with some personal problems, there is no turning back. this is a novella so the time scale feels pretty compressed, although in truth i think more time elapses in the story than you feel as a reader. but this is fine. 

i thought maybe things were resolved pretty quickly, and i'm still not sure why the paternity issue was thrown into the story since i don't think it added anything to the romance. it wasn't really an obstacle for tristan and kat, and felt like some manufactured drama that came out of left field and given the short format there wasn't enough time to fully deal with the issue. 

**breaching the contract will publish on september 18, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/gallery, threshold, pocket books (pocket star) in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

seriously romantic: promise to defend by diana gardin

book 2 of the rescue ops series, promise to defend, delivers just the right mix of suspense and romance. ronin and olive have known each other for a while, and while they've noticed each other they haven't paid close attention to how being in each other's orbit makes them feel. this changes at jeremy and rayne's wedding reception.

jeremy asks ronin to keep an eye on olive, in part because she's been acting strange since she got back from a job in france, and also because he knows that rayne will worry about her sister regardless. at first ronin is skeptical that there is any need for this. but quickly his spidey senses start tingling.

and when olive comes home from a date to discover someone has broken into her house, all bets are off. there is no way ronin will let her out of his sight after that. his reaction makes sense because one, he is a total alpha and of course would not stand for a woman to remain in danger, but two because his wife was murdered and he can't handle the idea of someone he's promised to protect to be in mortal danger.

given the heightened emotions, things between ronin and olive get serious pretty quickly. but the way she makes him feel, it's given him new life. and ronin touches the parts of herself that olive has kept behind a wall. they are both broken and battered and together they heal. it's not a new story, but it's one that works for me. i liked both ronin and olive, they aren't forced to behave like morons for the plot to work. even when olive is endangered, her rationale for behaving the way she does is completely understandable.

and all's well that end's well, right?

**promise to defend will publish on september 12, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/grand central publishing (forever yours) in exchange for my honest review. read on for more information about the book...

seriously romantic: a gentleman never surrenders by lauren smith

picking up soon after an earl by any other name, a gentleman never surrenders continues the story of owen hadley. he's in desperate need of a wife with a fortune and has reached the point where trapping a woman into marriage is his only option. his actions here and in the previous novella are less than gentlemanly, but over the course of the story he does redeem himself.

owen isn't a bad guy. he's just a guy who has no other recourse. when he accidentally creeps into milly pepperworth's bed he doesn't expect to end up with a happy marriage. but milly surprises him. she'd been holding out for love, and is horrified by the turn of events that force her into marriage. but she does give owen a chance to make things right. and he surprises her by being more progressive than she could have expected.

he trapped her into marriage, but he doesn't want a cold marriage filled with contempt and he goes a long way to find ways to connect with milly and make their marriage work. even in the short format of the novella, this story works and i don't feel like anything got short shrift. owen and milly improve from their initial first impressions in the first novella, and they are well-suited here.

**a gentleman never surrenders will publish on september 12, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/grand central publishing (forever yours) in exchange for my honest review. keep reading for more information and an excerpt...

shockingly real: spoiler alert: the hero dies by michael ausiello

i've been reading michael ausiello's work for years. i've followed him from tvguide, to entertainment weekly, to his start up television focused website tvline. it's not just because he is good at getting scoops on my favorite shows, although that is part of it, but also because so often his views on shows meshed with mine. sure, maybe it set up some implicit bias, but when you are reading takes on the entertainment you are consuming you want to find someone who has a similar world view. beyond that, however, is also the fact that he is snarky and funny and good at telling stories. and i kind of love someone who isn't afraid to give away the ending.

i am one of those rare birds who doesn't care about spoilers. nine times out of ten i read the end of books before i'm a quarter of the way through. i still read the whole book, but i like to take surprises out of the equation, for me reading or consuming television isn't about the ending, but about how we get there. in spoiler alert: the hero dies, michael ausiello takes us on a journey from the moment he first met his partner-in-life/future husband, kit cowan to the moment kit succumbs to a rare form of neuroendocrine cancer.

this story was heartbreaking and sad and funny and honest and brutal and just a love letter to kit. there is grief and loss and anger and so much love that your heart feels full and shattered all at the same time. the way michael can put himself, his insecurities, the imperfections that abounded in his relationship, and the immensity of his love for kit out into the world is kind of wonderful. this is a story worth sharing, a love worth witnessing even when it wasn't easy or beautiful or kind. the reality of living with and loving someone who isn't perfect, but is still the only person for you somehow makes the loss more wrenching, absolutely gutting.

this is not just another memoir about cancer. michael is unflinching in his descriptions about the ravages of kit's disease, and certainly it's a big part of the story here. but when i think back on what i read, i'm not thinking about the horrors cancer and the therapies meant to cure it put the body through. i'm thinking about love. in every remembrance, every word he writes about kit, even when he's detailing kit's flaws, you can feel the love michael felt for him. and that's what i took away from this. it doesn't matter that the story ends with kit dying, because he loved michael and michael loved him, and love is all you need.

(n.b.—i'm a total romantic at heart, so there is that. but i think most people would agree with me.)

**spoiler alert: the hero dies will publish on september 12, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/simon & schuster publishing (atria books) in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, September 11, 2017

seriously romantic: help wanted by allison b. hanson

in help wanted you actually get two romances for the price of one. the only thing is, that you don't actually realize this until you've hit the middle of the book. and i'm not sure that's a good thing. zane and kenley start out as our original leads. and midway through the book it feels like the author decided there wasn't enough story to stretch her word count target, so the love story of michaela and brady is added in.

but this leaves both romances feeling somewhat undercooked. and it's hard to get past some of the character's actions when you don't have enough time to fully explain or provide context for why they've done what they've done.

in the end, i was kind of lukewarm about all these characters. so it's hard to say that i would have liked this story better if each set of leads had gotten a full novel of their own. there were things i liked, but more i didn't in this one.

**help wanted will publish on september 12, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/kensington books (lyrical shine) in exchange for my honest review.

seriously romantic: haunted hope by inés saint

in haunted hope, hope piper has a sleepwalking problem. it doesn't matter the alarms, the locks, the guards she and her sisters try, she finds herself drawn to a rundown house on nome road. matt williams happens to be in the process of restoring the home.

hope has no idea she's met matt in her sleepwalking state. and matt has been sworn to secrecy by her family because the knowledge would destroy hope. who has already suffered enough. unwittingly hope has revealed some pretty intimate things to matt in these nighttime adventures. and this is knowledge that matt doesn't want. not because he doesn't want to know hope. but because he cares for her and wants her to find peace.

when they are forced to work together to find a way to keep hope's business in ohio, he forces her family to come clean. hope is horrified to realize how much matt knows about her. but given the chance to get to know the real hope, matt finds ways to spend time with her. and hope, who was feeling like there would be no healing from her past, suddenly believes that there is a chance that she can overcome the sleepwalking.

matt is such a good guy. he's good and decent and kind and all around wonderful and he's the perfect guy for hope. he's strong and steady in a way he needs. and what he wants out of life, jibes completely with what she wants out of hers. it's such a sweet romance between them.

**haunted hope will publish on september 12, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/kensington books (lyrical shine) in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

seriously romantic: break of day by andie j. christopher

break of day opens when carla hernández meets jonah kane at her aunt's house in cuba. they don't make a great first impression. well, they both recognize that there is some crazy sexual attraction, but they also think the worst of each other. it's mostly to protect themselves.

they've both been hurt before. carla's fiancé spent their engagement making her feeling less than, and the more she tried to please him, the more she lost her sense of self. so she's in cuba to figure things out. jonah is in cuba on assignment. he's seen things, lived through things that weigh on his psyche and meeting carla is like an unexpected balm to his soul. he's not quite sure what to do about her.

and their story is filled with so much angst and emotion. i loved it. jonah and carla are made for each other. how they make each other feel is exactly what i'm looking for in my romances. i'm not sure how to describe it, but it's the kind of love that makes your heart feel full. we'd met carla before in the previous books in the one night in south beach series, and i wasn't sure how i'd feel about her as a heroine, but she really redeems herself throughout the novel.

and she's really met her match in jonah. he's the strong silent type. big where carla is small. her complete opposite in so many ways. but the way he loves her. the way he falls in love with her. i just loved how their story played out. honestly, i think break of day is my new favorite in the series. each book is so good, i loved reading about the hernández siblings. i love it when latinos are the leads in romances. those are my people and i love seeing the increased diversity in romance novels.

**break of day will publish on september 12, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/kensington books (lyrical press) in exchange for my honest review.

seriously romantic: blame it on the bet by l.e. rico

the town of mayhem, minnesota is the perfect backdrop to blame it on the bet. hennessey o'halloran has come back into town to lay her father to rest, only to discover that the bar that their father built, the bar that formed the cornerstone of her and her sisters' childhood is in the red and has a buyer. the saving grace is that the contract hasn't been signed, but the sisters only have 60 days to pay off the mounds of debt that the bar owes.

when bryan truitt comes into town to figure out what happened to his handshake deal with pops o'halloran. what he discovers is four angry women intent on keeping their family legacy. when bryan makes  a bet with hennessey that he can stick it out in mayhem for the duration of their 60 day grace period from the bank, he doesn't expect to be so charmed by the residents of mayhem.

as hennessey spends more time with bryan she comes to realize that he is not the bad guy in this scenario. the bet is actually a pretty fair deal for the pub, and even though she doesn't agree with what he plans to do with the property she can acknowledge that he really does have good intentions for the town.

i enjoyed spending time with the residents of mayhem, and the romance between hennessey and bryan is sweet and, as they open up about their past and family histories, has some surprising depth. as the start of the series, a fair amount of time is spent introducing us to mayhem and the whiskey sisters, and i do look forward to jameson's, walker's and bailey's stories, but sometimes with these small town romances, i feel like i get cheated out of time with the leads.

**blame it on the bet will publish on september 11, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled publishing (bliss) in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

seriously romantic: breaking the rules of revenge by samantha bohrman

mallory thinks that trading places with her identical twin sister blake will be a good thing for her. she'll spend a couple of weeks in the woods, her sister will pass her math class for her, and she can try her hand at being more like her confident, good-with-the-boys sister.

if only ben iron cloud, the boy blake has been feuding with over a series of escalating pranks hadn't also been sent to camp. and even though mallory knows that he has every right to be mad at blake. he doesn't actually have any reason to be mad at her. so when he decides to get revenge on blake, mallory ends up in his crosshairs.

what ben can't figure out is why he's suddenly seeing blake in a new light. she doesn't seem as selfish. and she keeps apologizing. and when he realizes that he's breaking the rules of revenge that he set for himself, he has to admit that his heart isn't into it. there's more to blake than he thought. (mainly because who he thinks is blake is actually mallory.)

this secret identity causes way more problems than mallory could have ever imagined. because she really likes ben. and she knows he's going to be so angry at her when he learns the truth. and there's also a part of her that is afraid that ben likes the parts of her that are pretending to be blake and won't like the real mallory.

when everything blows up it ends up blowing over pretty quickly. blake for all her awfulness does actually care for mallory, and she ends up helping in a surprising way. when you think of summer camp and identical twins and pranks you can't help but think of the parent trap, but this is definitely not a retelling of that particular story, it is just as enjoyable though. the pranks that ben ends up pulling off on mallory are pretty epic. orange hair and green teeth are definitely something.

**breaking the rules of revenge will publish on september 18, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled publishing (crush) in exchange for my honest review.

seriously romantic: boomerang boyfriend by chris cannon

the theory of the boomerang boyfriend is pretty simple. he's the one who runs, but always comes back. delia has been jack's little sister's best friend forever. she's over at their house so often he finds himself running away. truth is, he's never really spent time with delia until she gets a job as the pie girl at the burger joint he works at.

suddenly delia is everywhere he is and there is nowhere to run. and for the first time ever they actually talk. and suddenly delia isn't his little sister's annoying best friend. and jack isn't sure what to do about that. if he's even ready to deal with that. delia is just as stunned to realize that her best friend's older brother isn't the jerk she always thought he was.

this change in perspective affects more than just them. zoe, jack's sister and delia's best friend, also figures into their romance. if anything goes wrong their relationships would all be affected. and at the same time, whatever is happening between them is something that shouldn't involve her. they can't live their lives worry about what zoe will think and feel. so it's an interesting dynamic for all of them.

because the truth is jack and delia are very different people. they handle things differently and this makes their relationship more volatile because they don't always understand where the other person is coming from. but as much running as jack does, he keeps coming back to delia. because there is something about her that calls to him.

boomerang boyfriend was a sweet young adult contemporary. the friendships and cast of characters are all well drawn, and i enjoyed reading this.

**boomerang boyfriend will publish on september 11, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled publishing (crush) in exchange for my honest review. 

Friday, September 8, 2017

seriously romantic: game for marriage by karen erickson

game for marriage kicks off with one hot night of crazy sex for jared quinn and sheridan harper. jared is the star quarterback for the local team, and happens to be in dire need of image rehab. the team publicist believes that sheridan will make the perfect fake wife, especially considering she's barely making ends meet in order to keep her art studio open.

it's too hard to say no to the deal they offer and before she knows it sheridan harper becomes sheridan quinn. and things would be going swimmingly if it weren't for a no-sex clause sheridan had insisted writing into their marriage contract. at the time sheridan was thinking to protect her heart because too many wild nights with jared would inevitably result in heartbreak.

she hadn't counted on wanting him in spite of all the possible terrible consequences. getting to know her husband she realizes that he's not really the scumbag player he's made out to be in the press. and the guy he is around her is someone easy to love. negotiating how to make this fake relationship a real one will involve some fancy footwork. but there's too much heat and emotion between these two that there is only one conclusion.

i'm a big fan of fake relationship stories. and football too. and watching sheridan and jared figure out that all those pretend emotions are something very real is well worth the read.

**game for marriage published january 11, 2013. i received a digital copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled publishing (brazen) in exchange for my honest feedback.

seriously romantic: her spy to have by paula altenburg

when garrett catches isabelle trying to sell her passport in bangkok in her spy to have, he's both furious and impressed. isabelle is clearly resourceful and up to something. and when it turns out that she might coincidentally be the daughter of the man he's searching for he's compelled to follow the lead. but he's also compelled to help her, because isabelle is clearly down on her luck and in need of rescuing.

once back in canada isabelle ends up as garrett's sister's new nanny, she assumes that he has everything to do with her newfound employment. obviously, he wants to keep tabs on her. obviously, he's not just a government program officer. she's well aware of his interest in her father, but she believes that her father is misunderstood. she can't believe that the man who raised her would truly be involved in something illegal that could harm people.

garrett admires her loyalty. but at the same time it presents a problem. he doesn't think she actually knows anything about her father's less than legal transactions, but his superiors don't want to miss the chance that isabelle could lead them to him. the problem is actually that garrett finds isabelle compelling and attractive. he can't stay away from her, and it's not just because he's been ordered to spy on her. he wants her any way he can have her. and at the same time he knows that he shouldn't.

isabelle finds herself torn between her loyalties to her father and her attraction to garrett. it's even more difficult as it becomes clear that garrett is right about her father. being with garrett feels like a betrayal of the man who raised her. but her life is better when he is in it. she is happy when he is with her. garrett and isabelle are perfectly matched. her unconventional upbringing makes her the ideal partner in his unconventional life. and as long as they can get past her daddy drama, their future looks bright. which you know, it kind of exactly what you want in a romance novel. this one is surprisingly sweet, given that i was expecting more of a suspense thriller type deal. but that isn't a bad thing.

**her spy to have published on march 4, 2016. i received a digital copy for review courtesy of netgalley/barclay publicity in exchange for my honest assessment. 

Thursday, September 7, 2017

seriously romantic: keeper by amy daws

booker harris is the youngest of all the harrises. and that's quite a lot to live up to. his brothers all have outsize personalities. his sister is a force to be reckoned with. and his father is a living legend.

but in keeperit's booker's time to shine. the thing that makes the harris family so special is how up in their business they are with one another, but the reason for that closeness has a lot to do with some deep-seated childhood trauma. and relationships outside of family is challenging for them because for so long they've only had each other. 

well, booker also had poppy. and we get to see bits and pieces of their history in flashbacks. because their story starts when they were seven, and when it picks up in the present they're reuniting after a six year separation. one booker doesn't fully understand and yet resents, while poppy isn't sure six years was long enough to make her forget what sent her running. 

booker isn't your average commitment-phone player. his experience with love has always led to abandonment. his mother died, his father withdrew, and in many ways his siblings left him to his own devices. and if family loves you and leaves you, what will someone who doesn't share those bonds do?

this is why booker and poppy are meant to be. there is no one else booker would ever be able to trust. but her abandonment six years ago broke that trust, and he and poppy will need to rebuild. and the live is still there and it shouldn't be that difficult, except crazy sexual chemistry makes it all go haywire. 

what makes booker and poppy so special is the added emotional depth in their story. having their relationship begin when they were so young means that there is a wealth of feelings and memories and experiences to draw from to build the romance. and there is an innocence and sweetness to the story of the boy and girl next door falling in love. (it's also sexy, booker and poppy have their fair share of heat.)

i can't tell you guys how much i enjoyed this book and how excited i am for everyone else to read it. those harris brothers worm their way into your heart. and next up is gareth, whose story will be epic. seriously, two books. it's so exciting. and might kill me.

**keeper will publish on september 7, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of trsor productions/amy daws in exchange for my honest review. keep reading for more information on the book and an excerpt...

something from the archives: say goodbye - part 36

it's time to face the parents...dun dun dun...

catch up here: 123456789101112131415161718192021222324252627282930,  31323334, 35.

part 36 follows the jump...

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

simply watching the wind

i've spent all day tracking hurricane irma. my family was lucky because puerto rico avoided the brunt of the storm, but i can't stop thinking of everyone else who wasn't that lucky. the people of barbuda. the people of st. thomas.

the storm was the size of spain and portugal combined. the sustained wind speeds topped 185 mph and there were reported gusts of over 200 mph. that's insane.

it's still not over. it will hit the east coast of the us somewhere. most likely starting with florida. and floridian homes aren't built to withstand hurricane-force winds.

but it's also not over for the people of puerto rico and the leeward islands who suffered direct hits. these places do not have the resources or the infrastructure to withstand the devastation. and with all of this happening on the heels of hurricane harvey i can't help but worry that these people will get short shrift.

watching and worrying over irma has been somewhat emotional for me. i've heard from so many people asking about my friends and family and that has warmed my heart. but the silence from other quarters has also been interesting, and it's made it clearer who in my life values me and who i should value.

no surprises. it's kind of a relief to know that my instincts about people are spot on. but sad too, because in some cases i wish things were different.

anyway. philosophy from me today. back to romance novels tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

seriously romantic: going dark by monica mccarty

when going dark gets going we spend an intense information-laden chapter with brian murphy. except by the end of the chapter, he's maybe dead? missing in action? (we find out later that he's definitely dead.) who knows because the book is actually about annie henderson and dean baylor, one of brian's presumed dead teammates whose gone dark in order to figure out how their op got compromised. 

there is a lot of military jargon and a lot of characters who will likely get stories of their own in this series, and that's all fine. the main thrust of the novel is about annie and dean's intense physical connection and how they are basically oil-and-vinegar together because more complete opposites you couldn't find. 

this is one of those novels where the only thing that makes sense is that they are together because of the great sex, but some of the emotional connection is missing. the navy seal stuff is clearly well-researched and meticulous, but it's also kind of overwhelming. 

and i know i keep fixating on this, but it's just so jarring to get to know a whole group of characters from one person's perspective and then not have that person show up anywhere else in the book. i think the prologue had me thinking this book would be one thing, but what we got was another, and the fact that the mystery around the lost platoon is still ongoing just felt off-putting. i would have edited this book differently because there are things that work, but i think the structure does it no favors. 

**going dark will publish on september 5, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of penguin's first to read program in exchange for my honest review. 

simply all about black bird of the gallows

Welcome to the Release Week Blitz for Black Bird of the Gallows by Meg Kassel presented by Entangled Teen and Chapter by Chapter Blog Tours! My review will post on September 25th, but I loved this book!

Title: Black Bird of the Gallows
Author: Meg Kassel
Imprint:  Entangled Teen
Publication Date:  September 5, 2017

A simple but forgotten truth: Where harbingers of death appear, the morgues will soon be full.

Angie Dovage can tell there’s more to Reece Fernandez than just the tall, brooding athlete who has her classmates swooning, but she can’t imagine his presence signals a tragedy that will devastate her small town. When something supernatural tries to attack her, Angie is thrown into a battle between good and evil she never saw coming. Right in the center of it is Reece—and he’s not human.

What's more, she knows something most don't. That the secrets her town holds could kill them all. But that’s only half as dangerous as falling in love with a harbinger of death.


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His soft voice clashes with the intensity of his gaze. “You’re adorable when you’re trying to be mad at me. You needn’t work so hard at it, though. We aren’t meant to be adversaries.”

“I, um…” My thoughts disband, leaving nothing for communication purposes. I’m adorable? Adorable has many definitions. I think my dog is adorable, for example. “That…wasn’t what I was going to ask you.”

He inclines his head. “Okay, then. Ask.”

But that “adorable” echoes through me, clinking around like a penny down a well. “What are we meant to be, then?”

His lips curls up at the corners. “That wasn’t your question, either.”

Meg Kassel is an author of paranormal and speculative books for young adults. A New Jersey native, Meg graduated from Parson's School of Design and worked as a graphic designer before becoming a writer. She now lives in Maine with her husband and daughter and is busy at work on her next novel. She is the 2016 RWA Golden Heart© winner in YA.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads


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seriously romantic: penthouse player by tara leigh

when reina st. james first encounters tristan bettencourt at a charity gala in penthouse player she is stunned by their connection. their flirtation quickly boils over to seduction, until reina recognizes his family crest and is horrified to realize that she's in bed with her future boss.

you see reina has big plans for her future, she wants to take wall street by storm. she wants one of those corner offices with the floor to ceiling windows that look out over manhattan. reina has been shut out of this world because of her background, but she also belongs to this world. and she sees the bettencourt group as a way to gain access to this world she's always yearned to be part of.

but she's not going to sleep her way into it. she wants to earn it. she's good at finance. and to muddy the waters before she even has a chance to step into the office is probably the worst thing that could have happened. when tristan realizes why reina ran he's shocked. and unsure of how to proceed because he can see her potential to be the dream employee, but he still wants her in his bed.

and they try so hard to stay away from each other, but with chemistry like theirs there is no way. and things are even more complicated because reina's past ties into some of tristan's current connections. and everything blowing up is inevitable. you can't keep the connection they have a secret. but it shouldn't be the kind of secret that destroys everything either.

and one thing i liked, is that when everything does go sideways, tristan has his moments of doubt, but he lets reina explain. and he believes her. and it's so nice when fictional characters behave like real human beings instead of total drama llamas. i appreciate it.

**penthouse player will publish on september 5, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/st. martin's press (swerve) in exchange for my honest review. keep reading for some additional information on the book, as well as an excerpt...

Monday, September 4, 2017

seriously romantic: the real thing by melissa foster

melissa foster kicks off her sugar lake series with the real thing. zane and willow were each other's firsts, but back then neither of them was really prepared to handle all those emotions. so a series of misunderstandings had them at odds in a way, but connected nonetheless.

zane for his part has been trying to reconnect with willow since then, but she never takes him seriously. so he tricks her into meeting him at a local resort, convincing her that she is up for a job interview. instead he wants her to pretend to be his fake fiancée. willow is not okay with this at first, but when zane reminds her how he agreed to be her first and how he followed all her rules, she supposes that she does owe him one.

but all too soon things get complicated by the very real feelings they have for each other. feelings that they've always had for each other. and for zane, it's very clear what he wants, he just needs to convince willow that he's serious about it. this is harder than it seems because zane happens to be a big hollywood star with a life in los angeles that willow doesn't really want a part of. she loves living in sweetwater, ny, and as far away from big city life as she can get.

these obstacles are not insurmountable but it's enjoyable to watch them figure it all out. we also get to know willow's family and other secondary characters around the town of sweetwarer, who i'm sure will pop up in future books in the series. the real thing is a good start.

**the real thing will publish on september 5, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/montlake romance in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

seriously romantic: untold by shannon richard

untold, the last book in the country roads series, starts off soon after the death of bethelda grimshaw, mirabelle's town meanie. seriously, there is no better way to describe her. bethelda has no redeeming qualities, something bree davis, her biological daughter discovers as she finds herself in mirabelle sorting out bethelda's things.

for some mysterious reason known only to bethelda, she left everything to the daughter she gave up for adoption 28 years ago. bree had looked her up when she turned 18 and had been summarily rejected by bethelda so her inheritance was a shock. arriving in mirabelle she's also shocked to discover some crazy chemistry with town veterinarian and part-time bartender finn shepherd. she's also shocked by the animosity so many people felt toward her biological mother and how easily they transfer that animosity to her.

finn is actually guilty of this. though he realizes he's being an ass while he does it. and while they spend a handful of chapters after the reveal at odds with each other, finn finally gets his head on straight and decides to break all his dating rules and spend time with bree. because the truth is he really likes her.

this is a small town romance and also the last in a series, so we do also get to spend some quality time with characters who have already found their own happily ever afters and who can't stop themselves from getting into other people's business. it's always a fine line for me on how much small town quirkiness and nosiness i can stand, this one comes on a little strong at first, but eases up once finn and bree really go all-in on their relationship and then i was pretty much good with it.

**untold will publish on september 5, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/grand central publishing (forever) in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

seriously romantic: the billionaires: the bosses by calista fox

calista fox is always good for a nice, super steamy read, and that's what you get in the billionaires: the bosses. christian davila and rory st. james have been business partners and friends since their college days. christian is intense and analytical, while rory is fiery and impulsive, together they balance each other out. given their propensity to be attracted to the same women, it's no surprise that over time they've shared them.

from the moment they meet bayli styles they know she is the missing piece to their next venture. it's no surprise that they are both attracted to her, and she is attracted to both of them too. one of her best friends enjoys a ménage relationship, so after a little advice, she jumps right into one with rory and christian.

the plot here is rather thin and secondary to all the sex, but it's not a bad story. watching bayli and christian and rory come together and work out a relationship that works is enjoyable. and even though it was super obvious who the villain was in the bit of suspense that was built into the story, it did add a little extra something.

**the billionaires: the bosses will publish on september 5, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgally/st. martin's press (st. martin's griffin) in exchange for my honest review.

seriously romantic: under pressure by cathryn fox

the third entry in the dossier stories, under pressure, finds best friends cole and reese on a vacation of a lifetime in mexico. it's a short and sexy read about two friends who have always been each other's person.

reese is not usually adventurous, and she's had a crush on cole forever. but she thinks he only sees her as his chubby childhood friend and he's a photographer who is not just around gorgeous women but travels the world and leads an exciting life. but this trip is about getting reese out of her comfort zone. so when trapped in a shark tank with cole she lets her guard drop and lets him see her attraction to him. and he is blown away.

because he's always been a little bit in love with reese, and she never seemed interested in him. but this shift in attitude is something he can't stay away from.

so they both jump. and what they discover, beyond an amazing sexual chemistry, is that it is amazing to fall in love with your best friend.

**under pressure will publish on september 4, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled publishing (scorched) in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, September 1, 2017

seriously romantic: summoner by s.d. grimm

in summoner, s.d. grimm introduces us to allie billings six months after the death of her mother. she's only just started to come out of the fog of grief and hanging out with her old friends is part of that. she's not thrilled that her friend nell has decided that they need to go witching at the local cemetery. at least her mother isn't buried there.

but other are, and allie is weirded out when she thinks she hears them talking to her. that same night she meets her new neighbor, cody burkhardt. even in the dark she can see the scars that mar his body and the hand he is missing on his left arm. but she doesn't press him for answers. she doesn't want to make things awkward because for the first time in a long time she hasn't felt the need to pretend.

cody understands loss. and he finds himself as drawn to allie as she is to him. it's just hard to trst it at first. he's too used to being the freak. but so is allie. and she's even more freaked out when she realizes that she can see ghosts. she can even see the outline of cody's missing hand. it's actually a phantom limb. but as allie learns more about the ghost world, she comes to realize that seeing the undead is more a curse than a blessing. and it puts her life, as well as cody's, on the line and there's a chance that both of them won't make it.

the relationship between allie and cody blossoms quickly, but they have so many nice moments together, it's hard to be mad at how quickly they fall for each other. i really enjoyed this one, it's the perfect spooky romance for the fall.

**summoner will publish on september 4, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled publishing (entangled teen) in eexchangefor my honest review.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

seriously romantic: long for me by stacey lynn

the latest novel in the luminous series, long for me, finds intense dom bennett tangled up with his secretary rebecca. she's good at her job, though you wouldn't know it given the way bennett dismisses her. what she doesn't realize is that he can't dismiss her. he can't stop thinking about her. he can't stop imagining all the ways she could submit to him. but he senses a powerful reserve in her and knows instinctively that it's not something he can pursue. so he hides his attraction by being the most demanding, condescending boss he can be.

when rebecca lets herself be taken to luminous by her good friends and neighbors, it's a big deal. she's known that they are part of the bdsm community and she's come to accept that their relationship is loving and healthy. but it is hard for her. her father was physically abusive of both her mother and her. and even when he left them, the emotional abuse didn't stop until her mother was gone. so rebecca has a lot of trust issues framed around physical violence and degradation.

when bennett sees rebecca at the club there's is no turning back. if she is curious about the lifestyle, if she is willing, if she is searching for something more—he knows he can give her exactly what she needs. she doesn't know it yet, but she's always been his. since the moment she walked into his office eager to please. but bennett knows that she won't be easy to tame. her reluctance is clear, but so is her curiosity. and when she responds to him, the way she explodes with sensation when he touches her, he knows that they are meant to be more.

rebecca puts bennett through his paces though. she's got a lot of emotional trauma to get through, and bennett doesn't always realize what is going on in rebecca's head. so he's often wrong-footed, and this is a foreign sensation for him because he's obsessive about being in control. this is why he is drawn to the lifestyle after all.

the relationship that blossoms between rebecca and bennett is both frustrating and satisfying. they have plenty of crossed wires, but what i love is that once bennett is certain that rebecca can be the woman for him, he goes after her single mindedly. she puts up barrier after barrier and he figures them out and gets her to see that they are meant for each other.

**long for me will publish on september 4, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/carina press in exchange for my honest review.