Review: It Happened One Wedding by Julie James

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Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Adult Fiction
Pages: 304
Series: FBI/US Attorney #5 (Can be read as Standalone)
Release Date: May 6, 2014
Publisher: Jove

4 Stars

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After three unfortunate reads in a row (didn’t even make it halfway, with any of them), I needed a win. Julie James always gives me a win.

Vaughn and Sidney have a not-so-great first meeting. Vaughn hits on Sidney and tries to ask her out and Sidney, who is jaded and quite judgy after her previous train wreck of a relationship, is kind of an asshole to him. She make a lot of assumptions about him and Vaughn is like ‘well, fuck that!’ and he leaves.

Then they find out that Vaughn’s brother is marrying Sidney’s sister and they’re kind of stuck together until the wedding. They obviously don’t get along, because of Sidney’s prejudice and Vaughn’s complete disinterest in spending time with a girl who would dismiss him as some douchebag without knowing anything about him. But between the bickering, there’s a spark, and since neither of them are interested in a relationship with the other, they don’t feel that there’s any harm in exploring the attraction.

It’s a fun relationship. I liked their bickering and the fact that neither was trying to win the other over. They met because of the wedding and pretended to be civil even though civility was the farthest thing from their minds. I liked the two of them and I liked the slow build of their relationship, how they slowing came to like one another.

But… they were also two of the more frustrating characters by Julie James. Because even as they grew to have feelings for one another, they were in denial about them! Vaughn, because he didn’t want to be in a relationship just then and because he knew Sidney wasn’t interested in him. And Sidney, because she had a legit list of characteristics to find the perfect guy and she was really fucking fixated on it. Also, she was adamant that she would never fall for a guy like Vaughn (because that’s not offensive) and she knew that Vaughn wasn’t interested in a relationship.

I get why they were that way. They both has their misconceptions and their ideas about what they needed to have a good life, and they didn’t want to get hurt. But why couldn’t they be just a little more open about their feelings?!

Plus, I didn’t always approve of Sidney’s actions. It’s human nature to judge, but she was a bit of an ass about it. And she was hypocritical. She judged Vaughn for being the kind of guy who had a lot of flings (even though she had no right to tell him how to live his life) but she was doing the same thing! Still, it was hard to be truly mad at her because after what happened with her ex, it would’ve been impossible not to be a cynic.

Overall, I really liked this novel. The frustration wasn’t fairly mild and I liked the story and the characters, even the siblings, who I forgot to talk about. This was a fun and light read and exactly what I was looking for. I highly recommend that you read something by Julie James. She’s great.

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Review: Moonlight Sins by Jennifer L. Armentrout

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Genre: New-Adult, Contemporary Romance, Mystery
Pages: 400
Series: de Vincent #1
Release Date: January 30, 2018
Publisher: Avon

3.5 Stars

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First of all, I didn’t know that JLA could do dirty. Steamy, sure, but must-be-seventeen-or-older-to-read kind of stuff? I didn’t know that was her thing. I guess it’s because I haven’t really read many of her adult romances. I might give them a shot because I liked this book. I had problems, many of them, that I will list below. But at the end of the day, I liked it. It kept me interested, I liked all the characters and the mystery element was good. That doesn’t change the fact that this book was a total tease.

And I’m not even talking about the fact that the GR synopsis was a bald-faced lie. Like, it mentioned a plot point that didn’t happen. At all. But I can ignore that. These things aren’t usually up to the author and publicists make bad decisions. The problem is that the book itself is a tease.

In the beginning, we’re introduced to three brothers. The de Vincent family is obscenely rich and the brothers have just found out that their asshole of a father hung himself. But because he was an asshole, no one’s upset. They’re more concerned with the media circus. And Lucian de Vincent, the male protagonist, is concerned about his twin sister, who, only a few days ago, showed up after ten years of being missing, and is in a somewhat vegetative state. Lucian’s brothers think she may be faking. He doesn’t. But they all agree that there are suspicious things happening.

Enter Julia. She’s a nurse and has recently landed a job to care for Lucian’s sister. Lucian is instantly attracted to her, even if she’s having none of it because he’s necessarily her boss. It’s not forbidden but seems like a complication to her. Not to mention, unethical. She too notices that there’s something not entirely right about the gigantic de Vincent mansion.

So basically, the author has created an environment of mystery and danger right off the bat. Which is why it’s all kinds of wrong when the focus isn’t on the mystery at all! You do not get to set up a creepy mansion and a murder mystery, only to spend 300 fucking pages on foreplay! It’s unfair and misleading. I’m not saying you can’t have a romance, but can we please focus on the more interesting stuff that you’ve delegated to the background?

And this just the first problem. I have others. For one, there were an unusual amount of typos. And while I can usually count on JLA’s books to have an easy flow with the writing, this time it came off a little choppy. Almost unedited. I have some examples:

“I better get out of here before they kick my ass out of here.”

I really think that he really didn’t want to have any more children

There were faint black smudges along his bare chest. Streaks he had no idea how they’re gotten there.

You can tell that it’s unpolished. And whenever you’re getting into a book, stuff like that takes you out of it. Like a glitch in the movie playing in your head. Not sure what went wrong but I’m hoping it’ll be fixed in the sequel. Because I’m really interested in all the other characters and I want to know their story. Lucian and Julia’s story was good. I liked the two of them, which was a little unexpected.

You see, I’d expected Lucian to be this broody guy who rarely smiled. So I was pleasantly surprised to find that he was funny and charming. Julia was the overthinker. But really sweet and caring, not to mention strong despite being afraid a lot.

Overall, there were ups and there were downs. I wished the focus on the romance had been a tiny bit less and the pace a little bit faster. There was a point (after halfway) when things started to drag. But I still liked the book. And it’s killing me that Goodreads still won’t let us do .5 ratings. What are these people doing?! Get with the program already! God!

But anyway… I think the book’s worth checking out.

Review: Zero at the Bone by Jane Seville

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Genre: Adult, MM Romance, Contemporary, Mystery
Pages: 308 (but really long)
Series: None (but there are bonus short stories)
Release Date: April 6, 2009
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

4 Stars

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Jesus Christ, this book was gi-fucking-normous! I mean, by big-book standards, this is short but for a book that was supposed to be 308 pages long… let’s just say that you’d need a seriously large book with some seriously tiny font to accomplish that because this was about twice as long as it was supposed to be. Stop lying to me, Goodreads!

But anyway, the confusion of length is one of the reasons I’m really confused as to how to rate it. Because I feel like I can’t give it less than four stars just because I finished it. I mean, it wasn’t exactly difficult to finish but still, I had some problems.

The story is about Jack and D. D is an killer-for-hire but he only takes contracts for people who, in his view, deserve to die or who are bad people. Jack is not a bad person. He’s a doctor and recently witnessed a murder. He’s putting his life on the line by agreeing to testify in court, and because he could get some bad people sent to prison, said bad people want him dead. And they blackmail D into taking the contract. But D can’t do it. And since someone still wants Jack dead, not to mention the trouble D will be in for not killing Jack, they have to run away together.

That’s where the whole thing starts. Jack and D are on the run, trying to escape the people trying to kill them while also trying to find out who’s after D and why. They have to stay safe but Jack still need to show up in court on the date of the trial. In the meantime, they have to get along.

D is a very closed off person. Partially due to the reason he has the job that he does, and partially due to the things that his job require him to do; he’s reached a point where you could say he’s barely human. He exhibits almost no emotion, he sleeps and eats little and has no interest in intimacy of any kind. Jack, on the other hand, is an open kind of guy who requires some form of friendly companionship. He’s not so good with isolation.

And I gotta say, I had some difficulty with Jack. For one, he just wouldn’t shut up. But that’s probably because the book would never go anywhere if he did. Still, he needed to tone down the nagging. The main problem wasn’t with that though. It was with the way he was written, his narrative.

Jack sounded like a young man who was wiser than his years. Like when a character is mature but you still know that he’s eighteen. Not that Jack sounded like an eighteen-year-old. More like in his early-to-mid-twenties. Which is still to young for a guy who’s supposed to be thirty-six! I just couldn’t see him as an older man. He was sensible and stuff but he still sounded young. It didn’t interfere too much with the story but every time I though about how old he was supposed to be, it was weird.

D was a better written character. And both he and Jack were likable. I liked their story and how their relationship transpired. There were two other characters we were introduced to who were also good. I liked the plot, and the sequence of events that took place were all good, they just needed to happen faster because really, they were stretched out.

Also, the sex scenes (and there were over half a dozen of them) were not hot. I mean, the author could have easily removed most of them from the book (mainly the ones that had no plot relevance) and nothing would have changed. In fact, the book would’ve been better because the length would have been reduced. Also, being female, I’m not expert on how sex goes between two guys, but isn’t there supposed to be more of a mess or something? Or maybe Jack and D don’t mind sleeping on sticky sheets.

Anyway, yes I had some problems with the book but, as a whole, this was a good read. I still can’t figure out a rating exactly. Four seems high but anything less is too low. I’m confused so I’m just sticking with four.

Review: Forever Right Now by Emma Scott

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Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 299
Series: None
Release Date: October 24, 2017
Publisher: CreateSpace

Star

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I love kids. I love books with kids. And single fathers are infinitely better. As long as you’re not using children as a plot device (though occasionally even then), I’m good. So of course, if there’s a book about a guy who loves his little girl as much as Sawyer loves Olivia, I’m going to at least like it.

Sawyer is studying to be a lawyer. And between his classes, the dozens of upcoming tests and taking care of his thirteen month old daughter, he’s kind of drowning. He’s wound up tight trying to balance everything and he does not have time for distractions, even if they come in the form of a great girl who’s full of life and might make his life better. That girl is Darlene.

Darlene has a history with bad decisions but she’s been going straight for a while. Moving into a new town is just another way to be better. Though dating a new guy is most certainly not part of the plan.

But, despite both of them wanting to avoid the other, they can’t. They’re both really great people and they like each other. And I can’t tell how happy I am just to type that. I feel like I don’t even remember the last time two people wanted to be together just because they got along and liked each other. I mean, I’m sure it happens often, but the situations are very different.

Sawyer and Darlene want to be together. They enjoy each others company, Darlene adores Olivia and they just work. But they have personal issues they need to deal with. For one, Sawyer really doesn’t have time. He barely sleeps, and he’s short on trust after what happened with Olivia’s mother. He’s very protective of Olivia. With Darlene, she has a past that she’s ashamed of but she can’t start anything with Sawyer until she tells him about it. She also has this thing where she uses relationships as an anchor instead of learning to love and accept herself.

All that makes for a really heartening read. Sawyer and Darlene are two people who aren’t perfect. But they try so hard and I’m really proud off them. I love these two and Olivia. Also, I love this story. I was afraid it would be predictable but it surprised me. And the characters, once again. They’re so great. And this is a great novel. I highly recommend giving it a shot.

Review: Most of All You by Mia Sheridan

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Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 352
Series: None
Release Date: October 17, 2017
Publisher: Forever

4 Stars

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Mia Sheridan is an author who has improved a lot since her first novel. But after Ramsay, I felt like she was moving in a direction that I, personally, didn’t like. And I’m very happy to say that we’re back on track.

Most of All You tells the story of two people who’ve had some truly shitty card dealt to them. Crystal, after living most of her life with her horrible father who never showed a shred of affection toward her, now works as a stripper with no hope for a better future. She’s guarded and close to her breaking point. Gabriel is trying to live a normal life after the trauma he faced during his six-year-long abduction as he was a kid. He still has trouble with physical intimacy and that’s why he approaches Crystal. To seek help. Neither of them expected the way they would connect, or that Crystal might need help a lot more than him.

It’s a very emotional journey for both of them. They’ve faced a lot of trauma and while Gabriel has had time to heal (and he’s fine for the most part), Crystal hasn’t even started.

This book is all about healing. It’s about not letting the bad things kill your spirit and continuing to fight. It’s also about vulnerability, how opening yourself to emotion, to pain, is the first step to happiness (Inside Out, anyone?), and that we shouldn’t be so guarded that we miss the good things, even if they’re few and far between. It’s about gratitude and hope.

Mia Sheridan handles the issues and the characters with a lot of care and tells a beautiful story. I was pleasantly surprised by the book. It’s as much of a character story as it is a romance.

There was one character who bothered me though. Gabriel’s brother. He was a grade-A prick and I couldn’t forgive his actions. Nor do I completely understand his reasons for the way he treated Crystal. We get a reason, but it didn’t explain everything. Also, I’m not entirely fond of the every-guy-who-enters-a-strip-club-is-a-disgusting-creep mentally. In an effort to be kind toward women (which I’m more than happy more), it got a little too biased against men.

Other than that, I’m really happy with the novel. I’m also glad that I’m not losing an author I really like. I’m eager to see what she’ll publish next.

Review: Groupie by Susan Daugherty

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Genre: New-Adult, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 257
Series: Groupie #1
Release Date: December 2, 2016
Publisher: Sanctuary Publishing
Date Read: Janyary 23, 2017

1 Star

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So I was in the middle of my Worst Reads of 2017 post and realized that I never uploaded this review on the blog (or I did and it vanished). And since I kinda like this review, I decided to fix the problem. And here we are:

It’s funny, for a book titled “Groupie”, it sure does sneer on groupies a lot. Serious, if ‘groupie-shaming’ was a term, this book would set a record for having the most amount of groupie-shaming ever. But more on that later.

This book follows the characters Lexie, who is a physician, and Jack Morgan, a country music star. When Jack gets injured during a concert, Lexie is assigned as his physician and ends up having to travel on tour with him while he heals. And I was doing okay with all that. The romance was a slow burn, the writing wasn’t bad and the author seemed to have done her research of physical therapy.

Things were doing okay. Hell, I was even, more or less, successful, at overlooking the use of wrong words and the constant groupie-shaming, done by Lexie, with sentences like:

I did not want to end up falling for him like another pathetic groupie.

I was even putting up with Lexie, who has to be one of the most judgemental characters I’ve ever read about. Seriously, she gave Jack shit over his music, how he lived his life, his clothing, his relationships, EVERYTHING! She was a complete and utter BITCH who even went so far as to say that if a female practically molested him, it was because of the inappropriate content of his music and that he was asking for it”. My God, how did the author write that without realizing how WRONG that is?!

Yet, I persevered (God only knows how). The moment I snapped was during a scene which included these lines:

the famous cycle of bimbo groupies who are disposable, making it easy for you to stay completely non-involved and ready for the next one.

We’ve already established that Lexie is a judgemental bitch so far up on that high horse of hers that if someone would just give her a little push, we wouldn’t have to deal with her anymore. But what’s worse (yup, it got worse), Jack didn’t object to her saying this! These were his fans she was insulting and he agreed with her! In fact, he never disagreed with any of her degrading remarks because apparently, her word is fucking gosphel, the rainbow-shitting angel that she is.

I’m not sure who I hate more, him or Lexie. Actually no, definitely Lexie.

By the time I got to the end, I was ready for this shit to be over. Then we find out there’s sequel after the ending was a cheap and blatant attempt at stretching a story for as long as possible. Obviously, I won’t be reading it.

Now I’m going to stop ranting. It’s safe to say that I fucking loathed this book and don’t, at all, recommend it. Just glad I’ll never have to think about this it again, except when it comes time for my worst reads of the year post.

Review: The Law of Moses by Amy Harmon

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Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance, Paranormal
Pages: 333
Series: The Law of Moses #1 (Can be read as standalone. Future books follow different characters)
Release Date: November 18, 2014
Publisher: Amy Harmon (CreateSpace)

Star

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First books of the year are important to me. I’m not superstitious, but I do like to start the year on a good note. And even though it’s not possible to be sure of how you’ll feel about a book, I try to pick one that I’m likely to love. Amy Harmon is always a pretty safe bet.

Before starting, I wanna ask you to not pay much attention to the ‘paranormal’ label that the book’s gotten. It reads very much like a contemporary romance, complete with beautiful prose, very emotional character arcs, and Amy Harmon’s personal brand of heartbreak. It’s just that one of the characters sees ghosts. And, since the story is set in our “normal” world, he gets treated like a crazy person for it. Though his unpredictable behaviour doesn’t really work in his favour.

Moses was found in a basket at the laundromat’s. The son of a crack addict mother who abandoned him, he’s always had medical problems. But his story was famous despite that. Everyone loves babies, right? Then he grew up and became a nuisance to the same people. The story starts when he’s a troubled teenager. He and Georgia are the protagonists. And the book (and the GR synopsis) starts with these lines:

If I tell you right up front, right in the beginning that I lost him, it will be easier for you to bear. You will know it’s coming, and it will hurt. But you’ll be able to prepare.

It’s safe to assume that I was wary. I’ve been hurt by Amy Harmon before. It’s partially why I still haven’t reread Making Faces, despite how much I loved it. I wasn’t prepared to go through something like that again. But I finally bit the bullet. And yes, the book is sad, but it’s not only sad. There are happy moments, healing moments and sweet moments to go along with the sad ones. The initial romance between Moses and Georgia is a mix of all. Moses is a painter. He’s quiet and broody but also surprisingly sweet at times. Georgia is fascinated by him and determined to get him to like her. She pesters him constantly and he tries to be mean to get her to give up. Because he’s not in a good place.

Georgia doesn’t know about Moses and his ghosts. She knows he’s troubled but not the extent of it. And he wants desperately to not drag her into his mess. It’s a story that’s bound to end badly. And it does. That’s part one and no, it’s not what the excerpt is talking about.

Moses needs help controlling his abilities, but it’s difficult when most people just assume that he’s hallucinating. And it’s after the initial romance that the book got really good. I mean, it was good before, but I loved reading about Moses’s journey. Him trying to come to terms with himself and what can see. This is such and emotional book, with the story taking a direction I didn’t expect it to. I don’t want to say much else (I’ve already said plenty), just that I loved this book and it was so worth any heartbreak, just to read about these characters.

It did get a little too poetic at times, but that was the only issue, and a minor one at that. I highly recommend that you check this book out. People who’ve read Running Barefoot get an extra treat. I, myself, am very excited to read the next book, which follows a character we meet in this book. I’ll be reading it within the next couple of weeks. For now, I’m savouring this one.