Sunday, October 22, 2017

Review: Once a Charmer by Sharla Lovelace

Publication Date: October 17th 2017 by Lyrical Shine
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

About the book:

Charmed, Texas, is a close-knit small town where people’s dreams of love can come true. That’s not to say that some people aren’t still waiting, and dreaming . . .
By day, Allie Greene stays busy with her family diner, and keeping tabs on her teenage daughter. What’s really exhausting Allie, however, are the nights. Not that she minds Bash Anderson unbuttoning her naughty desires—if only in her dreams. But what was he doing there at all? He’s her best friend, and a father figure to her girl. Talk about awkward. Talk about OMG-heat-and-fireworks that are flipping fifteen years of normal upside down. And now, when Allie needs him as a friend more than ever, logic doesn’t stand a chance against his lips and irresistible deep-blue eyes . . .

Sure, Bash has fantasized about Allie, but there’s no way he’d act on it. She and her daughter are the closest thing to family he’s ever known. With the exception of one drunken moment fifteen years ago, he and Allie have stayed on this side of the line—until that impulsive kiss of hers knocked him on his butt. That’s just one hurdle. Not only does Allie need Bash’s help to save her diner, but his apiary is in trouble, too. To stir the pot further, they’ve been roped into vying for the town’s Honey King and Queen contest—a sweet event that’s making them closer than ever. Something’s bound to come undone. Bash just hopes it’s not the friendship he’s worked so hard to hold on to.

My Thoughts:
Allie and Bash have been best friends since they were teenagers, always there for each other through thick and thin, a makeshift family without intimate benefits.  Never wanting to jeopardize their friendship they ignored the mutual attraction until recently.  A passionate kiss, three months ago, left them both discombobulated.  Avoiding the issue, they’ve grown apart just when they need each other most.  Allie finds out she could lose her diner, and her fifteen-year-old daughter, Angel is discovering the opposite sex! Bash is having his own business struggles, as well.

Once a Charmer ended up being a touching best-friends-to-lovers romance! I had my doubts because up until about the 37% mark I was getting a little frustrated that Bash and Allie weren’t communicating.  I guess this was somewhat necessary because before this book I didn’t really know their history, only that there was some underlying sexual tension between them. Their romance really took off for me after that, with lusty, can’t-keep-our-hands-off-each-other exchanges, but I loved the close, tender moments between them just as much. I melted over how protective Bash could be with Allie and her daughter Angel. He made such soul-baring declarations, in public no less, that completely stole my heart!  Bash and Allie truly completed each other, and with Angel they were a perfect, sweet, ready-made family!  

4 Suns

Connect with Sharla Lovelace:

The Charmed Series:
(Click on cover for Goodreads link)

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Review: Without Merit by Colleen Hoover

Publication Date: October 3rd 2017 by Atria Books
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

About the book:

Not every mistake deserves a consequence. Sometimes the only thing it deserves is forgiveness.

The Voss family is anything but normal. They live in a repurposed church, newly baptized Dollar Voss. The once cancer-stricken mother lives in the basement, the father is married to the mother’s former nurse, the little half-brother isn’t allowed to do or eat anything fun, and the eldest siblings are irritatingly perfect. Then, there’s Merit.

Merit Voss collects trophies she hasn’t earned and secrets her family forces her to keep. While browsing the local antiques shop for her next trophy, she finds Sagan. His wit and unapologetic idealism disarm and spark renewed life into her—until she discovers that he’s completely unavailable. Merit retreats deeper into herself, watching her family from the sidelines when she learns a secret that no trophy in the world can fix.

Fed up with the lies, Merit decides to shatter the happy family illusion that she’s never been a part of before leaving them behind for good. When her escape plan fails, Merit is forced to deal with the staggering consequences of telling the truth and losing the one boy she loves.

My Thoughts:
I was really worried about picking up Without Merit because I hated the last book I read by Colleen Hoover.  I was pleasantly surprised and relieved to like Without Merit as much as I did. It made me feel a whole range of emotions, and I read the story in one afternoon, unable to put it down.

The romance isn’t angsty or the main focus really, but it was the sweetest part to me.  As the story starts you’re just kind of thrown into the middle of Merit’s world, but in a pretty fantastic moment.  That moment is sort of shattered, but no worries, all sorts itself out.

Merit’s family life is far from happy.  Her father divorced her mother and married his mistress when mistress was pregnant with his child, yet everyone, including Merit’s mother continue to live in the same house!! I was not happy with Merit’s father, and even with all the explanations at the end, I still wasn’t thrilled with the man, but no one is perfect and he did seem to be trying the best he could with the screwed-up situation.  Still, all kinds of f*cked up IMO.  I’d say the circumstances were way out there in terms of real life, but unfortunately, I’ve had to deal with a somewhat similar situation in my own life, so I could totally relate to Merit’s feelings and reactions.

Merit bounces back and forth between being a fun, quirky character to someone with a lot of anger.  As the story progresses it becomes apparent she’s depressed. I think the feelings of depression and reactions felt very real to life.  Those feelings can just sort of creep into your life and take over without even realizing it.  It’s a dangerous thing, but I’m happy that Merit, had people there for her, which included her screwed up family.  

4 Suns

Connect with Colleen Hoover:

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Holiday Release Blitz-SMP Romance

I'm excited to be part of the SMP Holiday Romance Blitz, because it's getting close to the season where you want to pick up a romance to warm your heart while you read by a cozy fire! Any one of these titles will put you in the Holiday Romance mood!  I read With This Christmas Ring by Manda Collins (see my review below) and loved this second chance romance!  As part of this post the lovely people of St. Martin's Press have generously offered up a giveaway of one of the print titles.  See below for details and enter for a chance to win.

Publication Date: October 3rd 2017 by Swerve
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About the book:

A wallflower determined to fulfill a dying promise, the rogue she jilted years ago, and an orphaned baby are all brought together amidst the magic of Christmas in this new novella from Manda Collins.

Miss Merry Parks makes a deathbed promise to a schoolfriend that her infant daughter will be taken to her absent father. There’s only one problem—to find the baby’s father, she’ll have to consult his cousin, Viscount Wrotham, the man she jilted five years ago. The man she couldn’t forget.

Alex Ponsonby, Viscount Wrotham, is stunned to find Merry Parks—looking more lovely than ever--on his doorstep with an infant in her arms. His shock soon turns to dismay when he learns his own cousin William is the man who abandoned his wife and child. As head of the family he’s duty bound to see right is done. But he can't let this opportunity pass. He’ll take Merry and the baby to his cousin, but he’ll woo her back in the process.

Merry agrees to travel with Alex and the baby to Wrotham Castle, where the entire Ponsonby family has gathered for Christmas, but her plans to see the baby settled then leave are ruined by a snowstorm. After five years apart, Alex and Merry will spend the week getting reacquainted. Perhaps it’s the spirit of the holiday, or the magic of the season, but there could be something else in the air this Yuletide…A Christmas Reunion.

My Thoughts:
Circumstances throw Merry and Alex together after Merry ended their engagement five years ago. Merry was bullied by Alex’s grandmother, the dowager Lady Wrotham, to break things off unbeknownst to Alex.  The moment they lay eyes on each other again the attraction and longing rush right back up, but Merry doesn’t expect Alex to give her a second chance.  However, it doesn’t seem Alex is holding a grudge, he’s had some time to think about the past and suspects his grandmother had a hand in ending things so when Merry shows up in his life again, he’s determined to take this opportunity to set things right and find happiness with Merry at long last. 

With This Christmas Ring was a sweet, second chance romance that warmed my heart.  There’s no drama between Alex and Merry once they meet up again. They are truthful and bond over the loss and longing they’ve felt since parting.  All conflict comes from outside sources and they meet those problems head on, as a united front. 

The Holiday setting will get you in the mood to take a snowy sleigh ride, snuggling up to your loved one, staying warm under blankets and the heat of attraction.

4 Suns

About the author:
Manda Collins is the author of the Studies in Scandal series, The Lords of Anarchy series, The Ugly Duckling series and the Wicked Widows series as well as several other Regency-set romances. She spent her teen years wishing she’d been born a couple of centuries earlier, preferably in the English countryside. Time travel being what it is, she resigned herself to life with electricity and indoor plumbing, and read lots of books. When she’s not writing, she’s helping other people use books, as an academic librarian.

Below is the SMP Holiday titles featured.
(click on title for Goodreads link)

Saint Martin's Press has generously offered up a copy of one of the Print titles above to one lucky reader.  The giveaway is open to US Residents only.  Winner can choose one Print Copy from the following titles:

A Season of You by Emma Douglas
Christmas at Two Love Lane by Kieran Kramer
Hope at Christmas by Nancy Nagle
The Christmas Cowboy Hero by Donna Grant

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Review & Giveaway: Archangel's Viper by Nalini Singh

Publication Date: September 26th 2017 by Berkley
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Nobles | Kobo | TBD

About the book:

Enter New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh’s breathtakingly passionate Guild Hunter world with the story of a woman who isn’t a vampire or an angel…or human…

Once a broken girl known as Sorrow, Holly Chang now prowls the shadowy gray underground of the city for the angels. But it’s not her winged allies who make her a wanted woman—it’s the unknown power coursing through her veins. Brutalized by an insane archangel, she was left with the bloodlust of a vampire, the ability to mesmerize her prey, and a poisonous bite.

Now, someone has put a bounty on her head…

Venom is one of the Seven, Archangel Raphael’s private guard, and he’s as infuriating as he is seductive. A centuries-old vampire, his fangs dispense a poison deadlier than Holly’s. But even if Venom can protect Holly from those hunting her, he might not be able to save himself—because the strange, violent power inside Holly is awakening…

No one is safe.

My Thoughts:
Holly’s backstory is touched on, and I was horrified by what she went through in her past, captured and tortured by Uram, an archangel who went insane.  She witnessed the brutal murders of her friends and then was force fed his blood changing her into a vampire and more.  The experience could’ve easily broken her, but she had the archangel Raphael and all his clan (not sure if that’s the right word) at her back.  Not only that, she’s had the unconditional support of her family, not caring what she’s turned into, they still love her without reserve. Holly’s definitely a strong, admirable woman.

The more that she’s turning into is what worries Holly, because she’s plagued with crazy thoughts and powers she shouldn’t rightly have as just a vampire.  She fears Uram left a bit of himself in her that might eventually consume and overtake her.  Add to that, there’s a bounty put on her head. Someone has paid a high price to acquire Holly. 

Enter Viper. They’ve apparently had an antagonistic relationship since meeting and he’s back at the Tower in Manhattan where she lives.  Worse, the two of them are assigned to work together to find the person who wants to capture Holly. But as they work together they come to realize they have more in common than any of the other creatures at the Tower, and the attraction neither has wanted to acknowledge increases and electrifies!

Viper and Holly’s romance was a slow build, first a bit of sniping back and forth, and then mutual respect, trust forming a bond that made their attraction more than a fleeting feeling. Viper was a sought-after chef before he become a vampire, hundreds of years ago, so he cooks up the most delicious sounding meals for Holly to care for her, which seduces her even more.  I love it when a man (my husband, lol) cooks for me and does it well!

I’ve read and loved books from Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling series, but had never picked up anything in her Guild Hunter series, so I was pleasantly surprised to enjoy it as much as I did; coming in blind, unfamiliar with the world or creatures.  I was immersed in the mysteries and worried for Holly as the story progressed.  It was a thrilling nail-biter in places! I’m sure any fan of the series will love Viper’s Archangel just as much as I did or more!

4 Suns

Connect with Nalini Singh:

Berkley has generously provided a Paperback Copy of Viper's Archangel to give away to one reader.  The giveaway is open to US Residents only.  Please fill out the rafflecopter for a chance to win.  Good luck!