Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Book Review: The Corner Office by Katerina Baker


Tara Johnson's sacrifices are about to pay off: a senior executive at thirty-five at a Fortune 500 company, she's one of the two finalists in line for a Managing Director position. Unfortunately, her rival of fifteen years, the charming, infuriating Richard Boyd, is just as qualified, and unlike her, he's willing to cross pretty much every line to get what he wants.

Of all the things Tara stored in the attic to make it to the top, it's her personal life she misses the most. That is, until she starts a steamy affair with sex god Aidan, her direct report. Interoffice relationships with a subordinate can mean the end of a career, and when Richard finds out, it's the perfect opportunity to take his high-heeled nemesis out, especially since he's still nursing a grudge against Tara for rejecting him years ago.

But Tara's increasingly domineering lover has his own dark secrets, endangering more than just her career. As her liaison spirals out of control, salvation will come from the man she always thought she hated, and perhaps the only one to truly understand



 


It's been a long time since I've given a book only one star. As ridiculous as it sounds, rating books is something I take pretty seriously and I don't like the idea of being all lackadaisical about it because occasionally, reviews do get read and they do influence other book lovers. Basically, I don't just toss around one-star ratings for the fun of it. 

First off, I didn't like the characters. Any of them. I didn't like Richard, I won't even get into Aidan and I kind of hated Tara with the fire of a thousand suns. I couldn't find even one redeeming quality about her that I could connect with. She's super wishy-washy and if that's how she was intended, that's one thing. It's another thing entirely when the author didn't intend for her to be full of hot air ... which I think is actually the case. This chick is all of woman's equality. Which is all good! But you can't be for women's equality and then knowingly get sexually harassed for over a decade by a coworker. It just doesn't make sense. Why have your character be contradictory like that? I mean if you want for women to be equal in the workplace, why would you sit by and just put up with this dude telling you to go have a threesome with him? There are tons and tons and tons of things that Richard said that Tara just brushed off and it just doesn't fit. 

Speaking of Richard ... the reason that Tara and Richard don't get along is the most flimsy and non-existent reason I've ever heard of. And that's because you're not really given a reason. You're told these little snippets of situations that if Tara would just take half a second to get over herself, wouldn't even matter. Aside from the sexual harassment, it's like playground stuff ... equivalent to hair pulling and pinching in elementary school. It just showed the immaturity in both of these "executives". 

Then there was this one part about how tattoos are taboo and basically it is said that if you want to have an important job and not have to ask people if they want fries with that, you can't have tattoos. There was this long winded story about a CEO (or some other acronym) that flew to another country in shame just to get his tattoos removed. Really? That is not the case out here in the real world and that story was absolutely ridiculous and not accurate to how things actually work. 

I really didn't have time to really dive into this book. The reason is because I was wading through all of the ridiculously long inner monologues from Tara that the book just dragged. It would have taken me another 500 pages just to get interested with the way this story was going. It was rough for me. More than rough. Not a fan. 

* I received this novel in exchange for an honest review *



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Sunday, July 16, 2017

Book Review: Mann Cakes by Mysti Parker

Love makes men do desperate things, if desperate things means opening a rival cupcake shop to drive your ex-girlfriend crazy.

Twin brothers and Air Force vets, Tanner and Garrett Mann, return from deployment to find their thriving business burned to the ground. Time for Plan B: Move back to their hometown of Beach Pointe to start over.

But that means running into Paige and Morgan Baxter –gorgeous, curvy, and owners of Two Sisters Cupcakes.

There’s an old diner for sale across town, Garrett’s a great cook, and Tanner has an idea. They’ll make savory cupcakes that men would like. We’re talking bacon and Cheez Whiz. Even better? They'll call it Mann Cakes. Problem is, they end up attracting an unexpected crowd.

Paige is furious. Every man in her life has left her behind, including Tanner. She’s sacrificed everything for her shop. She won’t lose it over some egotistical ex-boyfriend, even if he does have an Air Force-chiseled body. Her younger sister, Morgan, isn’t helping matters. She’s been gaga over Garrett since high school.

To hell with that. If it’s a fight Tanner wants, it’s a fight he’ll get. But how much is Paige willing to risk to win a cupcake war?







This is one of those times when I hate reviewing books. I feel badly when I have to tell everyone that a book and I didn't really get along. And this time, it's for a few reasons. One of which has nothing to do with the plot. For the most part, I liked the meat of the story and by meat, I don't mean the yummy military guys either. 

The whole concept behind the book was pretty interesting: two brothers creating a savory cupcake shop that is involuntarily in competition with two sassy sisters and their cupcake shop. Interesting, right? The cupcake shop idea is not a new one in romance novels, it's been done ... it actually seems to be a theme that runs rampant in the contemporary romance genre ... sometimes it's done well and sometimes not so well but this one was just a little different. You still have the flour and powdered sugar covered heroines but this time, the author threw in some treat baking dudes to stir things up a bit with some healthy competition. 

Unfortunately, I think that the plot was the best thing about the book because I didn't connect with the characters at all. And I should have. I should have connected with Paige on a level that I don't with most other people because like her, I have an autistic son. But I didn't and it was because of something that Paige's sister, Morgan, said. I think that I really resented the sisters because at one point in the story, it says something about the autistic son acting out. Dude, I reached boiling in about two milliseconds. Every time I hear or read something about an autistic kiddo "acting out", instead of just feeling sorry for the person's ignorance for saying that, I get angry at the person's ignorance. Because these are the people that think my son is acting out when he's just had a bit of sensory overload. Anyway, this was a totally personal and what some may think as completely irrational reason to not like a couple of characters in a book. And you know what, that's okay. But that was why I was just totally turned off by these sisters. After that point, I just totally shut down to them. 

The brothers didn't fare much better for me either. And I don't think that their characters were tainted by what I thought of the sisters but that's only because I found the brothers completely interchangeable. Since this book was really about all four of these characters and their corresponding love stories, I was expecting to at least be able to differentiate between the brothers but they read like they were the same person, just with different names. Yes, they are twins but these were the same dude. And I got the feeling that they weren't intended to be like that since it says that they both have different strengths and all of that but it didn't come across like that with me. 

Now, I'm definitely in the minority on my thoughts with this book. It has a super high rating on Goodreads and Amazon, so if you're reading this before you buy, make sure you read some other reviews as well because I'd hate for someone to miss out on a book that they would love just because I'm an angry momma bear. 

* I received this novel in exchange for an honest review *



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Book Review: Tempting Her Neighbor (Small Town Temptations #1) by Laura Jardine


Tired of big city life, software developer Cole Sampson moves to a small Canadian town to get some peace and quiet. Unfortunately, his keep-the-hell-away-from-me vibes don’t work on his gorgeous new neighbor.

Waitress Rachel Malone is intrigued by the hot curmudgeon living next door and his very sexy scowl. Sure, he keeps shutting down her every advance, but before long, she finally catches his interest.

A red-hot, sex-only relationship is what they want. But Cole can’t get over the fact he likes cuddling, and Rachel won’t let herself fall in love, not when she’s finally decided to follow her dreams and move to the city. Still, it’s just sex. Isn’t it?
 
 
 
 
 
 
I don't usually read novellas ... the reason is only that I like a longer book. Weird, I know ... it's just that if it ends up being something that I really like, then I want as many pages as the author is willing to crank out, you know? Anyway, I went against my usual "rules" and decided to give this one a go. Not too shabby.
 
I really enjoyed our hero of the story - Cole. He was all grumpy and prickly. He reminded me of my husband. For some reason, I think that stand-offish personality is sexy as hell. I don't know why ... most of the time people think that these grouchy dudes are assholes but they really aren't ... there is usually a very good reason behind the donkey attitude. Then again ... sometimes there isn't and the dude is really just a jerk. Anyway ... Cole was a good dude. I enjoyed his grouchy attitude and the reason why he was that way. You also get to experience a pretty interesting (and extremely slow) transformation within his personality and I always enjoy a good character metamorphosis. 

I kinda liked Rachel as well ... but not as much. It was literally her character that kind of irritated me. She's the kind of chick that wants to just have fun, which is fine. I have no problem with a woman wanting to just go out there and have a much sex as possible - more power to you if that's your deal. But she would say how this is how she is and she's not apologetic for how she is but then in the same breath, she would whine and bellyache that people pick on her and if she was a dude, no one would say a thing about her promiscuity. Look, lady. You can't have it both ways. Either you don't care what people have to say or you do. Anyway, it was just the hypocrisy of her ... is that even the right word? If it isn't, hopefully you know what I mean. 

This isn't your run of the mill, sickeningly sweet romance novel. It's a bit gritty at times and definitely raunchy and naughty at other times. One thing that did stand out is that it's not really what I would consider a romance ... you don't see the romantic interaction between our two main characters ... you see this animalistic need to mate. It's not flowery with a bunch of scented candles and massage oils, it's more get your rocks off, wham-bam thank you ma'am. All in all, not a bad book, but not one to read if you're looking for the mushy love-sick page turner with the dashing guy and the girl next door wallflower. 

* I received this novel in exchange for an honest review *



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Saturday, July 15, 2017

Book Review: The Playboy Bachelor (The Bachelors of Arizona #2) by Rachel Van Dyken


She's no Sleeping Beauty. And he's definitely no prince . . . 
  Margot McCleery could have lived her whole life without seeing Bentley Wellington again-her ex-best friend and the poster boy for Hot, Rich Man-Whores everywhere. But Margot's whiskey-augmented grandmother "buys" Bentley at a charity bachelor auction, and now suddenly he's at her door. Impossibly charming. Impossibly sexy. And still a complete and utter jackass. Bentley's just been coerced by his grandfather to spend the next thirty days charming and romancing the reclusive red-haired beauty who hates him. The woman he abandoned when she needed him the most. Bentley knows just as much about romance as he knows about love-nothing. But the more time he spends with Margot, the more he realizes that "just friends" will never be enough. Now all he has to do is convince her to trust him with her heart . . .








I've really loved this author since I got hooked on her Eagle Elite series a few years ago. I was more than excited to give this book a shot once I saw that it was by her. 

This book is the second in a series that I've not read any of before. That's usually a no-no for me but I'm doing it more and more often lately. I kind of wish that I hadn't. This book IS a stand-alone but I think that my reading experience would have been enriched greatly if I had read the first book. I think that's just because while I didn't feel like I was missing anything, I also felt like I didn't know the characters as well as I could have. I mean, who wouldn't want a little more Bentley, right?

Bentley was a fascinating character. It's not often that you read a romance novel with an intense anxiety angle and it's SUPER not often that the character with anxiety is male. I think that the author was really able to show how anxiety can be crippling and have a massive impact on someone's life. It was interesting to watch Bentley interact and cope with the issue that caused his anxiety to begin with. I really couldn't get enough of this man. And our leading lady, Margot was this reclusive firecracker that was equally as captivating. These two together were positively explosive. Bentley brought out the worst in our little stubborn Margot. 

The story read very quickly. I don't know if it was because the characters were so completely intriguing or if it was just an all-around great book ... probably a bit of both. You just get hooked from the very first page and it doesn't let up until the very last period. Such a great romance novel. One that I'd read again. And the list ... the list was adorably hilarious. I would read the book again just to experience that list again. 

* I received this novel in exchange for an honest review *



Available: August 29th, 2017

Monday, July 10, 2017

Book Review: The Dangerous Billionaire (Tate Brothers #1) by Jackie Ashenden


Navy SEAL Sullivan "Van" Tate has been called home to reluctantly inherit an empire and finds himself facing the most difficult mission of all: love.

Nothing about Sullivan "Van" Tate is what it seems. A Navy SEAL raised among the New York City elite, Van prefers heart-pounding action over a Wall Street corner office. But when his adoptive father dies and his business rivals move in to overtake his empire, Van must suit up to save the company and protect the one woman most forbidden to him...and the object of Van's most dangerous desires.

Chloe Tate is as ambitious as she is gorgeous. With a newfound independence, Chloe is no longer a prisoner on her father's ranch. But everything changes when losing her father may also mean losing her life. Even with her survival on the line, Chloe can't deny the burning attraction she feels the moment she locks eyes with Van, her rich, rough and ready, foster brother and the new head of her father's company. Tall, dark, and muscled, he's the one man who she has no business being with. But how can she resist a Navy Seal Warrior when he'll do anything to protect her?










This book. This. Book. This book and I had an extremely ... tempestuous ... relationship. It's not that I didn't like it. I did. But there is this one little splinter that worked its way into every single thought about this book and it just kept festering and festering and poking and poking until I was so irritated that I couldn't even enjoy the last however many chapters of the darn book. 

Let's do the nice stuff first because if I start talking about this splinter, I'll lose my focus and who knows where we'll end up. I liked the story. I really thought it was an interesting idea and for the most part, the plot was pretty flawless. There were quite a few little surprises that knocked me off guard and kept the book entertaining. Except for the splinter that shall not be named. Yet.

I also enjoyed getting to know the Tate brothers ... Van is pretty badass and I don't know how this dude could be topped or even measured up to with the other brothers. He's so stubborn that he could win a gold medal at the Olympics for digging his heels in. Chloe was also a great character - her tenacity was almost endearing. And these two together was just a great romance that kept me wanting more. 

But. That pesky splinter. Literally, my biggest issue with this book was one word. SEAL. SEAL!! Dude. If Van could have thrown himself parades each day to announce that he was a Navy SEAL, he probably would. It was over and over and over, ad nauseam (shout-out to my high school Latin teacher - those two years totally came in handy today). It got to the point where I started rolling my eyes every time I saw the word SEAL. Then I started getting mildly irritated. It finally came to a head when I shouted "JESUS TAKE THE WHEEL" and promptly put my Kindle down for two days. Two whole days. Me putting my Kindle down for two days - that is unheard of. But I was pissed! Just say that he's a SEAL a couple of times, then we've got it. The readers will pick up on the fact that he's a SEAL without saying he's a SEAL every time he takes a breath or sneezes or uses his eyes. It was in the book like 40 times. And no, I didn't count that shit ... my Kindle did ... so I'm not that damn crazy. But it ended up being like every 8 pages, Van was talking about being a SEAL or thinking about being a SEAL or dreaming about being a SEAL. Ugh. Over it. Now I'll never be able to listen to Kiss From A Rose ever again. I liked that song. But its dead to me now. Just like this book. Until I get un-mad at it and I don't know how long that will take. It's really too bad because everything else about this book was almost perfect. 

* I received this novel in exchange for an honest review *



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Saturday, July 8, 2017

Book Review: Bottom of the Sky by Shae Ross


Tragedy set his course for revenge. One woman stands in his way.

John
The last thing I need is to be saddled with the on-the-run niece of the family I’m about to take down. Gianna Silva wants me to help her find her missing mother. But I’ve got bigger fish to fry—namely, her cousins Stefano and Santos Silva. I’m working on the inside, feeding information to the FBI, and I'm about to drop the net on their ring of counterfeiters. To keep Gianna out of my way, I’ve agreed to help her but under one condition: What I say goes. No questions. No pushback. I make the rules.

The problem is Gianna Silva doesn’t know the meaning of the word “rule” and she’s on to me. For two years, I’ve hidden my true identity behind a wall built from stone-cold revenge. I thought it was indestructible—especially against someone with the last name of Silva—the family I’ve vowed to destroy…

Gianna
If I could find my missing mom by myself I would, but the only enemies she’s ever had are my dead father and his powerful family. Confronting the Silvas alone is too dangerous. I need an insider who knows how to play their game. John Rossi, with his cool, bad-boy confidence and access to the family is my best hope. I’ve bargained away the last dollar in my savings account in exchange for his help, but I’m beginning to think I made a deal with the devil.

I didn’t expect his rules to include sharing a cabin—and a bedroom with him—northwest of Nowheresville. I don’t trust him, or my attraction to him. But to find my mom, I’ll break every one of his damn rules, regardless of the consequences…



 


I really went back and forth on my rating for this one ... I kept bouncing between three and four stars. The reason I kept wavering is because the beginning of the book did not keep my attention in the least. I actually started reading this book a couple of months ago and then put it down because I just wasn't feeling it. I wasn't attached to the characters, I wasn't attached to the story line or anything else in the story, for that matter. Sometimes I do get into a book funk and what I'm reading irritates me like nails on a chalkboard - since that's usually at no fault of the book, I have learned to just put the book down for a bit and then pick it back up later. Which is what I did this time. 

I still had that feeling at the beginning of the book - not connecting to anything - but once I delved deeper into the following pages, that feeling eventually dissipated. I ended up really enjoying Gianna and John. I liked the chemistry between these two and I found myself not so patiently waiting for their next heated interaction. There was a lot of push and pull between these two that made their exchanges exciting and extremely amusing. 

For the most part, I liked all of the characters. Except two ... Stefano and Santos. I could not keep these two dudes separate. I couldn't remember which was which to save my life. Even after finishing the book, if someone asked me which one was getting married in the book and they would give me a million dollars for the right answer, I couldn't tell you for sure. I would totally guess. And I would probably get it wrong. I don't know what it was ... Stefano and Santos seemed like a single entity to me. 

There were a few surprises that threw me for a loop. I figured some of them out before the secrets were revealed but a couple got me and that's always nice. For the most part, a pretty good book once my mind let me get into it. I'll probably pick up another book by this author - she writes a pretty nice suspense novel. 

* I received this novel in exchange for an honest review *



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Monday, July 3, 2017

Book Review: Seeing Red by Sandra Brown


Kerra Bailey is a television journalist on the rise, and she's hot on the trail of a story guaranteed to skyrocket her career to even greater heights: an interview with the legendary Major Trapper. Twenty-five years ago, the Major emerged a hero from the bombing of the Pegasus Hotel in downtown Dallas when he was photographed leading a handful of survivors out of the collapsing building. The iconic picture transformed him into a beloved national icon, in constant demand for speeches and interviews--until he suddenly dropped out of the public eye, shunning all members of the media. However, Kerra is willing to use any means necessary to get to the Major--even if she has to wrangle an introduction from his estranged son, former ATF agent John Trapper.

Still seething over his break with both the ATF and his father, John Trapper wants no association with the hotel bombing or his hero father, and spurns the meddling reporters determined to drag them back into the limelight. Yet Kerra's sheer audacity and tantalizing hints that there's more to the story rouse Trapper's interest despite himself. And when her interview of a lifetime goes catastrophically awry--with unknown assailants targeting not only the Major, but also Kerra--Trapper realizes he needs her under wraps if he's going to track down the gunmen before they strike again . . . as well as discover, finally, who was responsible for the Pegasus bombing.

Kerra is wary of a man so charming one moment and dangerous the next, and she knows Trapper is withholding evidence collected during his ATF investigation into the bombing. But having no one else to trust and enemies lurking closer than they know, Kerra and Trapper join forces and risk their very lives to expose a sinuous network of lies and conspiracy running deep through Texas--and uncover who would want a national hero dead.





 


Sandra Brown is just IT for me. That's the easiest way to try and convey how much I love her books. Every. Single. Book is a massive hit for me. I always love them and usually, I pick them up totally blind - not having read the blurb or not. Not reading a blurb is completely crazy and not something I regularly do. But when you've written 978 books and I've loved every one of them, well ... there's no point reading a blurb when I could just pick up the book, right?

Anyway, so it was no surprise that when I got this one, I immediately dove into it head first. Then, I was shocked ... I had a hard time pushing through the first dozen or so pages. I'm talking, I felt as if I was in quicksand and with each word that I read, I was just being bogged down. That's a pretty heavy thing to say. One of my favorite authors writing a bad book? Absolutely not. But this book is about a bombing. I'm from Oklahoma City. My dad was a criminalist for the state at the time of the Murrah bombing and this book just hit REALLY close to home. It just took me a couple of days to wrap my mind around a book about that kind of horrific action and I kept picking up then putting the book down. 

That being said, when I finally got through the initial shock of the subject of this book, I absolutely adored it. The characters are absolutely flawless and you'll find yourself falling in love with both Kerra and Trapper just like I did. As with all Brown books, the plot moves swiftly and covers a lot of ground in just 300 short pages. There are tons of surprises and twists that I never saw coming and I was constantly kept on my toes with what was happening. I always have my ideas on how one of her books is going to go and then it ends in some unfathomable way that I just never even suspected. So the suspense was great and the romance portion didn't leave me wanting in any way either. The pages practically crackled with the sparks that kept shooting between Kerra and Trapper. 

Just like I say with every single Sandra Brown book that I read, I think that this one is my new favorite and there is no way that she can top this one. No possible way. I'm sure this will be proven wrong with whatever book she cranks out next. Thank goodness for Sandra Brown - she makes me fall in love with reading every time I crack open one of her books.

* I received this novel in exchange for an honest review *



Available: August 15th, 2017
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