Review: Love Hacked: A Reluctant Romance by Penny Reid

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Bitcoins. A psycho-therapist who draws in men who want to reveal everything and uncover all things emotional about themselves to her during their first date. A hacker and a genius. A 21-year-old virgin. A 28-year-old woman who’s looking for The One. All this and more from Penny Reid’sLove Hacked: A Reluctant Romance,” the third book in the author’s Knitting in the City series.

It took me a good, long while before I felt compelled to pick up this series again. You see, I loved Neanderthal Seeks Human (book 1) and Neanderthal Marries Human (book 1.5, but written after books 2 and 3), but I absolutely loathed the heroine in book 2, Friends Without Benefits, that I just had to stop before I lose my e-reader (due to the fact that I wanted to throw it into the fictional faces of Dr. Elizabeth Bitchyface and Dr. Sandra Fielding. The latter, ironically enough, is the heroine featured in Love Hacked). It took my liking Daisy Prescott’s “Missionary Position,” where Ms. Prescott advertised Ms. Reid’s “Love Hacked,” for me to brace myself and finally read Sandra’s story.

I really do think that a reader judges a book she’s reading, based on what she’s feeling that day. How else can I explain why I hated Sandra in book 2, but grudgingly liked her in book 3 of this weird and wonderful series? Perhaps my rating is also influenced by how the author portrays her characters? In one book, a major character could be the most likable and least annoying of girlfriends, but in another, that same character would be given a minor role and made to be the villain of the bunch. This wishy-washy feeling I get about a fictional character is also prevalent in my current hatred (read: former love) for a character named Gretchen from Jessica Clare’s “Billionaire Boys Club” and “Billionaires and Bridesmaids” series. Anyhow, Sandra from Ms. Reid’s Knitting series has been redeemed in my eyes.

Her hero, Alex Greene, on the other hand, is a fascinating character. He’s engaged in a May-December romance with Sandra, where he is the May to her December. No where in the book, however, did I feel like they were unevenly matched. Alex was a hacking genius – the fictional creator of bitcoins. He’s also a man who challenged Sandra’s intellectual, professional, personal, and emotional psyches. At one point, she felt physically challenged, too, by the size of his… er, bit, but this was inconsequential in the whole scheme of things.

Bottom line is: I loved this book. Definitely a 5-star book. I therefore conclude: I shouldn’t read books from the same series back-to-back, lest I become too involved again in the lives and personalities of fictional characters, created by writing geniuses such as Ms. Reid.

Continued – Review: Playboy Pilot by Penelope Ward & Vi Keeland

Okay, so sorry for the abrupt ending to my previous post – had to pick up the fam, but I couldn’t stop myself from briefly logging on earlier to try and wax poetic about my love for authors Penelope Ward and Vi Keeland’s latest collaborative work: Playboy Pilot.

Individually, I think that Ms. Keeland is the better writer of the two, but that’s just my biased opinion. Ms. Ward has written 2 books by herself that I hated so much that I couldn’t stomach keeping them in my e-reader. Together, though, they are unbeatable. They mix humor, drama, and romance so eloquently that it’s really difficult to put their books down once you start reading them. That’s precisely what happened to me last night. I started Playboy Pilot at 8pm and ended it sometime past midnight. While it started a bit wobbly, where the titular playboy pilot, Captain Carter Clynes (a.k.a. Triple C or Trip), meets and attempts to pick up Texan heiress, Kendall Sparks, it ended strongly and wonderfully.

In between the beginning and the end, Carter and Kendall take us around the world, from Miami to Rio de Janeiro to Dubai (where the heroine was almost jailed for dancing/swaying on her feet to music in public) to Amsterdam to New York to Boston, and finally, to Sydney. There were weird twists (see the mini “Locked Up Abroad” episode mentioned above) and LOL episodes, i.e., Carter’s declaration of love via a sky banner that reads: “The Answer is in Disguise – Ken Doll Loves Farting.” There were predictable reactions from Kendall and surprising behavior from our playboy. I thought there was going to be a plane crash, but thank goodness, there wasn’t.

Let me pause for a moment and allow ourselves a look at Ward and Keeland’s physical embodiment of the fictional pilot. I present to you: Sahib Faber.

 

*SIGH*

Okay, so where am I? Oh, yes. If you haven’t caught on yet, then let me be blunt. “Playboy Pilot” is worth every single penny you’ll spend to get this either in your e-bookshelf or physical bookshelf. It’s THAT good.5 stars

Of Cowboys and Dangling Endings

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Finally! A “new” author I’m learning to like. I’ve been absent yet again from my blog for over a week for several reasons:

  1. An extremely sucky Internet connection;
  2. My MacBook won’t quit automatically updating the inherent Apple Apps and kept consuming whatever Internet bytes allotted to me by my stupid ISP;
  3. Recent books I’ve recently read depressed me by being so fucking bad.

So, thank goodness for author Cat Johnson! She saved me from constantly giving bad books even worse ratings. I’ve had the 3 above-pictured e-books on my reader for quite some time now, but I only got to read them all yesterday. Yes: I read all 3 in succession from yesterday afternoon to midnight last night. These 3 from Ms. Johnson’s Midnight Cowboys series were life-savers. Not literally, of course. More, like, from sheer boredom and excessive eye-rolling. Similar to other series I’ve read, though, not all of them were swoon-worthy. Allow me to break my thoughts down for you:

  1. Book 1, Midnight Ride, was the best, in my opinion. I’ve always liked May-December romances, so long as the author does not make illegal ones (e.g., sex between a full-grown adult and a minor) sound sexy. Between 36-year-old widow Janie Smithwick and 24-year-old player-cowboy Tyler Jenkins, this book was both LOL and boohoo. 4-stars.
  2. Book 2, Midnight Wrangler, was likable. It’s a second chance romance between 43-year-olds Rohn Lerner and Bonnie Martin. The only thing I didn’t like was Bonnie’s tendency to act like a 17-year-old D-rated Mexican telenovela actress whenever confronted with an emotional problem. Sheeeesh – the scene where Rohn gets down on one knee to propose marriage to Bonnie using the promise ring he had bought her when they were 18? Bonnie reacts by tearily shaking her head no, running to her car, and driving to their “special place” by the river (i.e., the spot where they first de-virginized each other) to contemplate her long-ago teenaged actions. If Ms. Johnson had made Bonnie of sterner stuff, then I would most likely have rated this a 4-star book. Since she didn’t, Bonnie and Rohn get 3-stars from me.
  3. Book 3, Midnight Heat, was okay. Its synopsis on Amazon and Goodreads makes the book and its main characters, Justin Skaggs and Phoenix Montagno, sound mysterious than they really are. From the get-go, if you’d read book 2 in the series, you’d already know who Phoenix is, in relation to other Cat Johnson characters. Their romance was not hot at all. It was more of a meeting of 20-something-year-olds’ active sexual hormones, I think. Their ending was abrupt and is juuuuust a minor hint of better things to come. It’s realistic, I say, because both MCs were only in their mid-20s in the book. Not romantic, though. So, it’s 2-stars from me.

Weird tidbit about all 3 Midnight Cowboys books: all 3 female main characters are teachers. Janie teaches kids how to ride horses. Both Bonnie and Phoenix are elementary & middle school teachers. Apparently, there are no other jobs in Oklahoma for women aside from being teachers. Other female minor characters are retail store clerks or cashiers, or flirty waitresses or bartenders. Ms. Johnson probably hasn’t met The Pioneer Woman, her Marlboro Man husband, and their 2 cowgirl daughters.

Oh, and there are also no people of color in these books. Another weird tidbit.

There. I’ve typed out my angst against my ISP, my laptop, my hatred for bad books with worse (i.e., annoying) characters, and my thoughts on 3 books I have rated from “okay” to “really like.” I’m now cleaning out my physical bookshelves, searching for my well-loved and dog-eared Judith McNaught books. I need a little cheering up. TGIF!

Review: Shielding Lily by Alexa Riley

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One of Alexa Riley’s best books! It’s actually *gasp* got a story.

The hero, Ren Hendricks, is the typical AR hero – alpha male, me-man-you-mine, overprotective, ultra successful, handsome as all get out, rough & tough, eyes only for his woman (literally), sexually blessed, one-man woman. In short – fictional. Ha!

The heroine, Lily Parker, needed a savior, but she wasn’t needy and annoying – not to me, at least. She was handed bad cards by life, and then heaven gave her Ren. She is as protective of him as he is with her.

What I especially love, though, about this book, is that the characters live inside a bubble. Lily doesn’t have annoying girlfriends (yay!). Ren doesn’t have annoying guy friends (yay!). Ren’s mother treats Lily like her own daughter. Their college education is virtually free of charge. IKR?! Ridiculously great. Their story is so unbelievable, it’s good. I wish real life was like this. Thanks, Alexa Riley, for bringing back stories with all the goodness you provide! “Shielding Lily” has a beginning, a middle, an end, and epilogues that make me believe that HEA does exist. If you don’t add it to your Kindle Unlimited library now, then I don’t know why you even like life. #JustSayin’

Review: Even the Score by Beth Ehemann

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So, I got this book due to the high ratings it got on Goodreads. After reading it, though, it turned out to be a dud.

I mean, it was okay. It wasn’t THAT horrendous, but it was neither a 5-star or even a 3-star type of book, IMO. It had a promising plot that just missed so many marks. You see, it starred two work-addicted sports agents, Andy Shaw and Danicka Douglas. Overworked and overstressed, Andy decides to hire another experienced sports agent to help him with his workload at his own sports management firm. Way I read it – when Danicka (“Dani”) came in, she had her own clients, her own meetings, her own goals to achieve. So, I don’t understand exactly how Dani’s employment helped Andy free up more time for him and his kids. I don’t know anyone in the sports business, but I have worked. Unless Andy has offloaded some of his own clients for Dani to manage – which he didn’t – I really don’t see why she was necessary for his business.

Anyhow, so Andy likes Dani, and Dani likes Andy. Of course, I fully comprehend why Dani would have shields up to protect herself from completely falling for Andy, lest anyone thinks she’s with him because of his status in their industry or his financial well-being. I also get why their company’s executive assistant, Ellie, was pushing them together. Their slow-burn romance was not sizzling – I’ve read better and hotter romances before – but it was sweet.

My real issue with this Beth Ehemann book, however, is the author’s attempt at romantic suspense, when it’s clear (to me, at least) that she should’ve stuck at sweet romance instead. More Jill Shalvis than Nora Roberts, Ms. Ehemann served up a so-so story with a little bit of blood and gore. Heroine Dani experiences some stalker problems that has been escalating since she started at Andy’s firm. The whodunit case is bungled up when the detective assigned to her case couldn’t find the culprit. Whilst Dani has offered up a misogynistic former athlete-client of hers as a potential suspect, neither she or the police detective thought of others who may have a motive to harm her. Perhaps an intelligent deducer of clues would surmise that since Dani left her former job abruptly, thereby taking some pretty big-shot clients from her previous firm when she switched jobs, her greedy ex-bosses may be suspected of the stalking crime, especially since one of them hinted at payback when she left. I mean, c’mon, show us some suspense, man.

Ultimately, though, the perpetrator turned out to be Andy’s sociopathic ex-wife, who had apparently exhibited extremely bad behavior throughout Andy’s life with her. The crazy ex, Blaire (who turned out to be a witch of epic proportions), faked a pregnancy to force Andy to marry her while they were finishing up college, tried to break up a romantic relationship between two of Andy’s friends, was the mother from hell to her 2 kids with Andy, and hired a contractual carpenter of hers, who’s equally as sociopathic, to kill Dani.

2 starsEven The Score” had an anti-climatic ending. Overall, I think I could’ve spent money elsewhere than in the purchase of this okay-book. Would I read my 3 other Ehemann books that I’d purchased earlier this year? Maybe. Maybe not. They might better serve as Christmas re-gifts than gifts to myself. So… it’s back to the drawing board for me in my perpetual quest to find the next great romance author.

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Blog Tour!!! Wicked Bond x Sawyer Bennett

Release Date: September 13, 2016
Synopsis:
Bridger Payne is an enigma that no one can figure out. Wise beyond his years, eerily intuitive and sexy as hell, every woman in The Silo wants him. None can have him. Not the real man, anyway. He might wield the lash for you if you ask prettily, but he’ll get no gratification from it. He’ll definitely make you scream, but he won’t think twice about you when he walks away. Bridger carries the darkest of secrets. He’s filled with too much pain. He’s utterly untouchable. Until she came along.
**Warning: this book has sex in it. Lots of sex. Dirty sex. The Wicked Horse Series is a bit different than what Sawyer Bennett normally writes. While you’ll still enjoy fabulous characters, a suspenseful story, some witty banter and an epic romance, there’s just… a lot of sex. You’ve been warned.
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Goodreads Link: here
Purchase Wicked Bond:
  • Amazon: **available on release day**
  • B&N: **available on release day**
  • iBookshttp://apple.co/1RME4Ei
  • Google Play: **available on release day**
  • Kobo: **available on release day**
About the Author:
Since the release of her debut contemporary romance novel, Off Sides, in January 2013, Sawyer Bennett has released more than 30 books and has been featured on both the USA Today and New York Times bestseller lists on multiple occasions. A reformed trial lawyer from North Carolina, Sawyer uses real life experience to create relatable, sexy stories that appeal to a wide array of readers. From new adult to erotic contemporary romance, Sawyer
writes something for just about everyone. Sawyer likes her Bloody Mary’s strong, her martinis dirty, and her heroes a combination of the two. When not bringing fictional romance to life, Sawyer is a chauffeur, stylist, chef, maid, and personal assistant to a very active toddler, as well as full-time servant to two adorably naughty dogs. She believes
in the good of others, and that a bad day can be cured with a great work-out, cake, or a combination of the two.