Review: The Gamble by Kristen Ashley

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I’m 5 years too late, so I’m playing catch up. This has been on my shelf for about a year now, particularly because I want to get to “The Bounty,” which received a 5-star rating from NBJ. What I expected, prior to starting it: that “The Gamble” will be a good book. What I got after I finished it:

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If you’ve ever enjoyed any theme in any book, Kristen Ashley basically threw it all at us in “The Gamble,” and more.

  1. Hot, alpha mountain man? Check.
  2. Fierce, intelligent, cute, and beautifully blonde female main character? Check.
  3. Murder and mayhem? Check.
  4. Poor, emotionally abused invalid person? Check.
  5. Drama, in the form of rape and suicides? Check.
  6. Funny supporting characters? Check.
  7. Dismal and useless parent? Check.
  8. Annoying mother? Check.
  9. Military man with PTSD? Check.
  10. Small town coziness and nosiness? Check.
  11. Insta-love and incredible sexy scenes? Check, check, and check.

Yup, everything. Except for the mafia, MC, and rock & roll god, I got it all right here in this doozy of a book. And, I can’t wait to dive into the next one in the series. Seriously, what’s not to love about this? Okay, okay, there were moments when I’ve heard Nina say “Max” one too many times in those annoying one-word sentences, but otherwise, Max the Macho Mountain Man can take-over anytime he wants.

P.S. I read the blurb for “Sweet Dreams,” and it’s set in another part of Colorado. I thought it was gonna be about Brody, Max’s bestie, but oh well, “Carnal, Colorado” as a setting doesn’t sound bad.

P.P.S. I just Googled “Gnaw Bone, Colorado” to see if it’s a real place. Turns out there doesn’t seem to be one – but there IS a real “Gnaw Bone, Indiana.” Road trip, anyone? 4 stars

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Review: The Billionaire’s Favorite Mistake by Jessica Clare

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I resisted the novella, “His Royal Princess,” from Jessica Clare’s “Billionaire Boys’ Club” series, because its plot was just waaay out there – so far out that it might as well have been labeled as a dystopian romance. But, somehow, I just keep getting pulled back by the offshoot of that series. Already, I’ve finished the latest installment in the”Billionaires and Bridesmaids” series, “The Billionaire’s Favorite Mistake,” which is the fourth book of its ilk. I read the blurb, I had extra cash, so I was… like, meh, let’s spend it.

Was it a wise decision? Not really. I mean, it was okay. I liked the heroine, Greer. Her hero-counterpart, Asher? Took a lot of getting used to, IMO. I felt really bad for Greer – shithead for a father, drunk sperm donor for a first-time lover, and Gretchen as one of her best friends. In case you don’t know, I hate Gretchen; she’s one of the most annoying heroines in any romance novels I’ve ever read. She first appeared here, then was featured, rightfully so, here. Her feature story, “Beauty and the Billionaire,” was my FAVORITE in the “BBC” series. And, then, for some odd and irritating reason, Gretchen’s character changed. Drastically. Like, she was the baddie in this one. If someone knows why Ms. Clare decided to do that, please let me know. Else, I keep buying and getting disappointed in these books.

3 starsNote to self: do NOT buy… I repeat, DO. NOT. BUY the next installment in “B&B” series. It features Taylor, another female character you cannot stand. Save yourself from further heartache and more money. Okay, Kim? Thanks.

Review: Wicked Ride by Sawyer Bennett

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I received an ARC of this book:
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You know that feeling after you’ve finished riding a roller coaster? Your tummy feels like it’s still swimming somewhere inside your lungs, you’re breathing like a horse, and your mouth hurts from all the excessive ear-to-ear grinning? Well, I have that. Right now. I’ve just finished Wicked Ride.

That’s exactly what it was. Sawyer Bennett took me on a wicked ride. Yes, I acknowledge that there was a lot of sex. Yes, there was a lot of kink. Yes, it was not like Ms. Bennett’s other books. What it was was awesome. I gotta admit, though, after reading smut scene after smut scene, a girl can get tired. And, then, KABLAM! Ms. Bennett hit me with a doozy – and it didn’t come from the con artist.

Plus, the epilogue. Holy macaroni. The EPILOGUE. Bridger. Mysterious woman. A glimpse into his back story (awful, but homigawd huwaow). Maybe a teaser of another new series?

4 starsOh, and the non-dialogue appearance of Cal and Macy, and the smokestack of a prosecutor from their series. I’m done for the day, people. Laid out on the floor. BOOK 5, please, Sawyer! Please!

Review: His by Brenda Rothert

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Isn’t the cover beautiful?

I loved the ebb and flow of Quinn and Andrew’s story. While there was insta-lust between the two main characters, Brenda Rothert wisely restrained on making this another cliched Cinderella story. Quinn is a badass girl from the streets of NYC, who was picked up, out of the blue, by Andrew’s personal assistant for her to service the young tech billionaire. Andrew is an equally badass young guy who had a weird penchant for ordering and paying for sex with street girls. I am, of course, making light of his whole persona, but that’s how much I can sum it up in.

What I liked:
1. Quinn is no damned damsel in distress. She does things for two main things: to survive and to protect her sister at all costs.

2. Andrew did not push Quinn for sex. Their story’s progression was a slow, but very necessary and realistic burn.

3. The main characters are young. Quinn’s 21 and Andrew’s 28. Thank god there was no annoying “does he love me, does he not” crap type of mentality/attitude for these two. Thank you for that, Ms. Rothert!

What I didn’t like:
Probably because “His” was a slow burning story, either Ms. Rothert ran out of steam at the end or her editor slashed the story to keep to a certain number of pages for the book. All the baddies suddenly came out of the woodworks and the climax & denouement were smooshed into the last 10% of the book. There were plenty of things left unanswered in the end: [WARNING: Spoilers ahead!]


1. Why did Bean initially help out Quinn and Bethy on the streets, then turn a vicious 180-degree turn against the sisters? I had the impression that he was secretly in love with Quinn, that’s why he didn’t like it when she “sold” herself to Andrew. Then, he started to drink and demanded for $40K as the sisters prepared to leave. It was very weird.

2. Bean had violently revealed his true nature to the sisters, but after they overpowered him during their struggle, what happened to him then? Did Andrew exact revenge, even though his Circle of Six, technically, go after terrorists only? Did Bean’s drug cartel friends get to him? I wanna know, dammit.

3. Quinn’s stepfather, Paul, turned up and did his thing. What happened to the sisters’ mom? Was she ever charged with anything after the truth came out?

4. So, it turned out that Dawson, the personal assistant, was a baddie, too. He stupidly risked his six-figure salary to traitorously let Paul the Monster into Andrew’s home, so that he could terrorize Quinn again. Why was Dawson suddenly made into a baddie? He was the one who found Quinn for Andrew. What happened to him after his violent breach of confidence?

5. Bethy wants to study to be a doctor and eventually work in a non-profit benefiting homeless people. What did Quinn want to study as? I hope she’s not gonna rely on Andrew and shed her badassiness.

4 starsWith all these, I had to give it a four. If only the ending was as polished as the beginning and the middle parts of the story… Regardless of my unanswered questions, however, I’d still read more of Ms. Rothert’s stories. I loved this. Kinda.

Review: Leveled by Jay Crownover

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I have a secret to tell you.

I’m not into M/M love stories.

There. The truth is out. But, but… but. Jay Crownover released a new series, called the “Saints of Denver,” and I thought, “okay, Kim, time to show yourself (and your mother) that you have restraint. You have willpower. You CAN save money, dammit! You will NOT buy ‘Leveled.’ You just won’t.” You’ll read other people’s reviews on Goodreads and, THEN, purchase that real first full novel in the series.” See, restraint? I got this.

Um. No, I didn’t.

I read other people’s reviews. I saw that it had an average of 4 point something stars in Goodreads ratings. So, I tell myself, “you’ve spent money on books that you stupidly thought were good when they only had 3 point something ratings, what’s 3 bucks for a novella that’s marked by a 4-star rating, minimum?” Restraint? I don’t understand that word.

If there is an addiction-support group for book nerds/collectors, I’m a definite shoe-in. Especially if they’re luring me in with free books.

But, I digress.

Like I said earlier, M/M books ain’t my speed. However, this one was written in 2 stars Ms. Crownover’s signature romantic and dramatic flair that I often forgot that the main characters were both male. Orlando “Lando” Frederick previously appeared in Ms. Crownover’s “Marked Men” series; he was Remy Archer’s secret lover in Rule’s book.

Okay, wanna hear another secret? I never read Rule’s book.

Yup. I just happened to jump into Jet’s book, after Goodreads recommended I get into it a long time ago. Then, I just downed Rome, Nash, Rowdy, and Asa’s books like water. I felt like I got Rule’s story already, just by reading the other books in sequence. There was no point in going back and reading Rule’s story, when I already know how it went. Similarly, if you’ve read Marked Men before, and you’re just diving into Lando’s short story, then you’ll get it as well.

Now, comes a big question: should one read “Marked Men” first before starting “Saints of Denver?” My personal opinion is: I think if you’re starting with “Built,” then you need not go over the Marked Men books first, since they have completely different storylines. But, if you gave in to the little devil on your shoulder, like I did, and got “Leveled” first, then you have to kinda sorta perhaps have an idea of the Marked Men. You may not appreciate Lando and Dominic Voss‘ story if you don’t know some of the characters who made cameos here Again, that’s my opinion. You, of course, have the opinion to ask Ms. Crownover herself.

Now, where was I? Oh yeah, my review for “Leveled.” It was okay. The sexy scenes were hot (thank you, Ms. Crownover). Dom was hotter. Lando, I feel for ya, hon. Thank goodness you got over the guilt and drama over Remy. Plus, the book made me salivate all the more for Sayer’s story, after Lando met her at his gym here.

Gotta remind myself, though, about that thing called restraint. Knowing Ms. Crownover’s penchant for writing serial books with interlinking characters, I think I might be addictively spending more $$ just to beat my own devil-book back.

Review: Archer’s Voice by Mia Sheridan

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This is completely different from any other romance novels I’ve ever read before. “Archer’s Voice,” while unique in its story, also tugs viciously at heart strings, makes you think deeply, and practically begs us all to remember to be kind.

Mia Sheridan expertly blends YA romance and heavy drama, without the cloying neediness I often find in YA novels. She’s……….. augh, how do I describe someone I don’t personally know, but feel like I do, after reading only 2 books so far in her repertoire of zodiac-sign-based books? I suppose I can sum it up only best when I say: she’s a damned good writer. Her hero, Archer Hale, lost his voice after accidentally, painfully, and forcibly taking part in a brother vs. brother showdown when he was just a 7 year old child (and, no, I’m not talking about that HGTV show). He lived in isolation, neglect, fear, and loneliness for years, until town newbie, Bree Prescott, befriends him. Bree, who has had her fair share of experiencing heavy-duty tragedy and trauma, ultimately shows Archer how to, not only to live, but how to love and how to trust. In return, she finds her own self and claims a love that we all, in real-life, wish we could have.

quotation markArcher’s Voice while unique in its story, also tugs viciously at heart strings, makes you think deeply, and practically begs us all to remember to be kind.

 

Despite the OTT-drama and the often predictable twists, I found myself really,4 stars really, REALLY liking “Archer’s Voice.” Its hero was so highly unusual for me – he’s not an obvious alpha-male, and at times, showed so much vulnerability that, if he were real, would have scared me from befriending him, too. Ditto for its heroine – she’s highly impulsive and naively thinks that “love will conquer all.” This, at a time, when Archer didn’t know what he was going to do for a living. [N.B.: If there is any one person reading this who THINKS money is not important, even in a fictional romantic relationship, s/he desperately needs a slap up the head. IMO.] Digging down deeper, though, and thinking beyond the skin-deep qualities of these two fictional characters, the values ingrained and woven into the story are the same as mine. I especially liked it when Archer found his voice; that voice was not just discovered thru Bree, but by himself, too, when he went on that journey to find out who “Archer Hale” is. For me, that was the clincher. And, the reason why Mia Sheridan’s books would now always either be on my “read” or “TBR” lists.

P.S. I also secretly love the fact that this is a book about a fellow Sagittarian, one whose birthday falls on the exact day as mine. And, on Britney Spears’.

Review: One In A Million by Jill Shalvis

One In A Million follows the standard Jill Shalvis romance novel formula:

Step 1 – girl with baggage meets guy with baggage
Step 2 – girl falls into insta-love, which she mistakes for lust, with guy. vice versa.
Step 3 – girl’s closest friends mercilessly prod, tease, and poke her into talking about her feelings about guy
Step 4 – because this is a Lucky Harbor series novel, Lucille meddles and annoyingly wields her social media powers to get this match-made-in-heaven going
Step 5 – girl and guy have smoking, hot sex
Step 6 – guy finally admits to himself that he’s in love with girl
Step 7 – girl finally admits to herself that she’s in love with guy
Step 8 – they have a huge fight/misunderstanding
Step 9 – make-up sex
Step 10 – they out themselves as bf/gf or they get engaged or they get married and live HEA

Good book. Thank God it’s over.

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I’m finally done with the Lucky Harbor series!!!