Review: The One Real Thing by Samantha Young

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Boring. Extremely hokey. Not worth it. And did I mention boring?

What in the ever-loving world happened?! I used to love Samantha Young’s books. Her Dublin Street books, especially book 1, were E.P.I.C. I cried, laughed, and fell in love with her characters. So, to find that I absofuckinglutely hated this was a big surprise… To me!

I wanted to love it. In fact, when I started it, I got really into it. I liked heroine Jessica and her seemingly noble and kind treatment of female inmates, despite her fuck-buddy-cardiac-surgeon of a friend’s lowly opinion of her chosen prison-doctor career. I liked aloof and seemingly alpha-male hero, Cooper. Ms. Young first gave us a few pages of how these main characters met, then I found I wanted to know more, and when I did, welp… I ended up NOT finishing it. It was THAT bad.

(1) Jessica, an M.D. by profession, stumbled upon 3 hidden desperate love letters from a former, dead female inmate, who, apparently, hailed from nearby Hartwell, Delaware. She goes on a self-discovering vacation to Hartwell, fell in lust with Cooper, then fell deeper in love with him, his small town, and its other cuckoo beachside residents. IN TWO MONTHS. She, a 33yo woman, abruptly quits her prison doctor job, decides that maybe being a doctor is not her real passion, has gabundles of student loans to repay, and took a job offered to her by immature and meddling innkeeper, Bailey Hartwell. Oh, and she’s harboring deep and scabbed-over mental trauma from losing her sister to suicide, and she actually begged Cooper, at one point, not to leave her because of her inability to talk about her and her sister’s tragic pasts. Her petty jealousies over Cooper’s ex and hook-ups, while she’s fresh into her relationship with Cooper, i.e., 2 days, were also just too tiring to read about over and over and over and over and over again.

(2) Cooper, the supposedly aloof barkeep and bar owner, was a sham. He’s a goddamned softy. He decides he liked Jessica’s mystery and sets out to make her fall in love with him. The 35yo dude has drama galore in his own life. Examples: he has an ex-wife who cheated on him with his then-lifelong best friend; the same ex reappears repeatedly to try and get him back; has a chain of hook-ups who relentlessly pursue him; and has kinky sexual tendencies he wanted to take on with the good ol’ doc. Makes sense? Nope, didn’t think so. It was, like, Cooper is a Frankenstein of a romantic hero. He’s everything and anything any female would want. As Jessica described him, he’s perfect. Which, TBH, fuckin’ annoyed me. ‘Coz all the women in this book were flawed, flawed, FLAWED. And the man was perfect?! UGH.

(3) Bailey was another annoying character. Her meddlesome and idealistic characteristics grated on me, for some reason. Her book is the second in this series, and without my even reading her book’s blurb on either Amazon or Goodreads, I already know her hero-counterpart would be her self-sworn enemy, New York-transplant and rival hotel owner, Vaughn. Her story is, again, predictable. ho-hum, and has me crying, “NEXT!” as if I were a casting director who’s just not having a good book day.

My conclusion:
(a) I regret buying this book.
(b) I regret auto-buying Bailey’s book, which now sits on my e-shelf, sticking its proverbial tongue out at me, and yelling “SUCKA!!!!!”
(c) DNF-ing it was more than what this book deserves from me.
1 star

Blog Tour!!! @Kris10Callihan and The Hot Shot

If you haven’t read “The Hot Shot” by Kristen Callihan yet, then I say unto you – why? You’re missing out on some feel-oh-so-great book amazingness. Nevertheless, I shall give you a taste, thankfully released to us by the author and her publicists. Read on, enjoy, and go buy the whole thing, people! It’s worth it, I promise.

kristen callihan the hot shot



Grumbling, I toss on some black lounge pants and my oversized Tulane t-shirt and head to the drugstore.

My head throbs by the time I get there, and my insides are writhing. I rest my hand against my lower stomach and grab a basket before calling James to complain.

“I swear,” I tell him as I grab a bottle of painkillers. “It’s like this entire day has been cursed.”

He snickers. “Curse. Get it? Curse?”

I roll my eyes, even though he can’t see me. “Laugh it up. Meanwhile, it feels as if someone is playing Battleship in my uterus.”

“Poor Chessie bear. At least we know why you were in such a foul mood.”

A flush washes over my cheeks. “Yeah.” Lie. Lie. Lie. A tub of salted caramel gelato makes its way into the basket.

“Tell me you’re getting some gelato,” James says.

I smile. “Just grabbed it.”

“Salted caramel?”

“You know it.”

I find the feminine products aisle and search for my brand. “I’m going to go home, take a long bath with my gelato, and forget this fucking day.” Forget Finn. “And then I’m going to go on Amazon and buying a freaking year’s supply of tampons so I don’t have to make these kinds of emergency runs anymore.”

A low, deep chuckle rumbles from behind me, and all the tiny hairs lift on my arms.

“But you’ll still need your gelato,” a familiar—fuck me, seriously?—voice points out.

My insides swoop even as my cheeks burn.

“Who is that?” James asks in my ear.

I slowly turn on one heel. “The plague,” I say, glaring up at Finn Mannus’s smiling face.

“From asshat to plague.” Finn scrunches up his brow. “I’m not sure if that’s a step down or a tie.”

“Who is that?” James nearly yells now.

I don’t take my eyes off Finn. “I’ll call you back.”

James’s squawks of protest cut off as I hit the end button.

“Are you stalking me, Mannus?”

Finn a rests his hands low on his lean hips. “Having a healthy amount of conceit myself, I have to admire yours, but no, buttercup. My buddy Woodson lives a few blocks away. It’s poker night. I’m stocking up on beer.”

It’s only then I notice a twelve pack tucked under his other arm.

“And tampons?” I ask, with a pointed look around the aisle we’re standing in.

“Not tonight,” he says easily. “Though we used to keep a pack of them back in college. Light flows were perfect for stopping up bloody noses.”

A snort escapes me. “Now there’s a visual.” Somehow, I’ve taken a step closer to him. He’s freshly showered, the golden brown strands of his hair still damp at his temples. And I wonder if he’s just come from the gym or practice. “So back in college you went and bought these tampons?”

“Nah,” he says with a cheeky smile. “I’d ask one of the girls hanging around to get me some.”

“Of course you did.” My nose wrinkles with annoyance.

“Give me a little credit, Chess. I’d buy them now if I had to.”

“Hmm…” I eye him, trying not to return his smile. If only because it’s more fun when he teases. “So why are you in this aisle now, if not for potential nosebleed needs?”

“That’s easy.” He steps closer, a warm wall of muscle and clean scent. “I heard your voice.”

For a second I just blink. “You recognized my voice?”

His gaze darts over my face as if he’s trying to get a read on why I’m gaping at him. “Not to be…ah…rude, but you’re loud when you talk on the phone.”

“Yeah, but… You recognized it.” We’d only just met. It occurs to me that I’d recognized his both times he’d snuck up on me. Then again, his voice is distinctive, flowing like hot honey when he’s relaxed or hammering down like iron to rock when he’s taking command of a situation.

A soft flush of pink tints the tips of his ears. If I wasn’t staring at him, I might have missed it. He shifts his weight. “Was I not supposed to?”

“No. Yes.” I shake my head and laugh. “I don’t know.”

He grins then. “You’re cute when you’re flustered.”

“I’m not flustered.” I am.




Kristen Callihan is an author because there is nothing else she’d rather be. She is a three-time RITA nominee and winner of two RT Reviewer’s Choice awards. Her novels have garnered starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and the Library Journal, as well as being awarded top picks by many reviewers. Her debut book FIRELIGHT received RT Magazine’s Seal of Excellence, was named a best book of the year by Library Journal , best book of Spring 2012 by Publisher’s Weekly, and was named the best romance book of 2012 by ALA RUSA. When she is not writing, she is reading.the hot shot AN.jpg

Review: The Hot Shot by @Kris10Callihan

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I loved every single page of this latest offering from author Kristen Callihan. Almost two years it took to get into my grubby, little hands, but thanks to the generous author and her publicists, I received an ARC last week and just couldn’t. Put. It. Down. I read it. TWICE! Hence, I’m a bit late with my ARC review.

I won’t dilly-dally with a repetition of the book’s blurb. Instead, I’ll focus on how much better the plot was this time around (at least compared to book 3 of this series). There was none of the usual jealousy drama between Finn Mannus and his lady-love, Chess Copper. The female protagonist was portrayed like a person I’d like to be friends with. She’s lonely, has a male best friend who doesn’t give her shitty advice, extremely strong, emotionally adept, and self-sufficient. If it sounds like I’m in love with the fictional girl, well, then, maybe I am. Her counterpart, on the other hand, is also endearing. His ability to be fun and make fun of himself is cute. He’s got some leftover drama with another woman, while he was pursuing his relationship with Chess, but the way the author wrote those scenes? I liked them. It was both human and ideal, at the same time. I don’t know how Ms. Callihan did it, but she did it damned well.

If there’s a fifth book in this series, I’ll risk it now by saying it’ll be anti-climactic, because, DANG. I loved this one. Perfection cannot be topped.5 stars

Review: Provocative by @LisaReneeJones

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When I received this ARC of Lisa Renee Jones’ “Provocative,” I honestly don’t know what I was thinking. If you’ve read my blog before, you’d know how I avoid books with cliffhangers like they’re the resurrection of The Plague. However, I can add this, too: HOLY GOD ABOVE, thank goodness I got to read this in advance!

Provocative is a story filled with lies, deception, and love. In short, it’s my kinda story. Faith Winter and Nick “Tiger” Rogers are tied together by secrets and lust. At least, that’s how they started. Goody-two-shoes Faith is holding on to her father’s legacy, a Sonoma Valley winery, by the tip of her chinny-chin-chin. She’s also trying to revive her almost-dead art career. If I were her, I’d do the same as she did: sell some art to pay back her winery creditors. Plus, the way Ms. Jones described Faith? Makes me wanna be friends with her. She’s portrayed well, in my opinion, as she’s no simpering damsel-in-distress. Faith’s counterpart, Nick, seemingly holds all the keys to the unfolding of their relationship. He turned it from a plain one-night-stand to a “she’s mine” type of full-time obsession. Which, by the way, I luuuuuved. Alpha males, like Nick, with knights-in-blindingly-shiny-armors hidden inside them, make the best male leads, as far as I’m concerned. In my mind, he’s Bradley Cooper/Matthew McConaughey mix.

I was sliding right along with the angst, lust, and love that Nick was feeling as he narrated parts of his story with Faith, when Provocative, sadly ended. Ms. Jones segued into a surprise addition at the end (an erotic tale featuring a character who was the subject of a painting Nick bought and who had also appeared in Ms. Jones “Inside Out” series. I chose not to read that yet, because… ehem, I haven’t read the Inside Out books 4 starsyet. *GASP* What?! Yes, I haven’t, but don’t worry, if you haven’t either, I still suggest you follow in my eager-beaver footsteps and get Provocative, because you won’t get lost, I promise.

Now, allz we gotta do is wait until July when book 2, Shameless, comes out.


P.S. Augh! The agony of waiting!


Review: All You Need by Lorelei James

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I received the ARC for “All You Need” by Lorelei James a couple of weeks ago. Then, I got stressed out, because, at that time, I haven’t yet read the 2 books that preceded it in the series it’s part of, “Need You.” So, I read those first. Then, I really, really liked Brady Lund’s story. And, really, really tried to finish Walker Lund’s story in time, but got caught up daydreaming about Brady and Lennox. In the midst of “Just What I Needed,” I fell in love with fictional Walker, and entered into a love-hate relationship with his heroine-counterpart, Trinity, whom I found so clichéd. Nonetheless, I pushed thru and, finally, leapt wholeheartedly into Annika and Axl’s story.

Long story short? This was okay. The main characters were put in a situation that I found to be anticlimactic all throughout the book. Axl was a hockey player-bad boy, who, after getting his heart broken by his first real girlfriend, decided that he’d pretend that he neither speaks nor understands English, that he’d sleep with as many puck-bunnies as possible (one of whom was his former hockey team coaches’ wife), and that he’d sabotage his own career, because he felt betrayed and depressed since arriving in America. If you didn’t understand the logic behind this character’s thinking, well, me neither. Congratulations, you are as confused as I am.

Annika Lund, the heroine of this story, was just as weirdly characterized. She consciously entered a love-hate affair with Axl, which later on evolved into a secret I’m-so-in-luuuuuuuv relationship with him. It’s kept a secret, because she decided that she didn’t want to ruin her public Ice Princess business persona (what a way to “lean in” there). She promised herself that she’d complete a business deal first, before she comes out of the closet with Axl. When that’s done, she got depressed and DID NOT come clean about her and Axl’s love connection. Turns out, the Ice Princess is pretty insecure, despite Axl’s repeated love declarations. She only turned her sad face around after Axl put on a public performance that outed them both to their fans and family.

The entire thing was…… there’s just no other word for it, except “lame.” I got more excited about the book (I just know there’s a book coming out) about Annika’s cousin and his ex-girlfriend, whom Annika has hired to be her PR team’s graphic artist. Nevertheless, the fourth book in the series will be about Annika’s younger pro-football 2 starsplayer, Jensen Lund, who featured prominently as well in this book. I’m telling you…. everyone was more interesting than Annika in her own damned book. Sigh. It’s okay, though, I still love Lorelei James and this series.

Review: Mister Moneybags by @ViKeeland & Penelope Ward

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I was excited. I was so excited that I bought this book blurb-unread. Because, hey, it’s by Vi Keeland. So, I know I couldn’t go wrong. Even though it’s written in tandem with Penelope Ward. I was so super excited that as soon as I have an entire 4-hour block free from any and all obligations, I just locked myself up in my room and read this ebook with the pretty half-naked man on the cover.

By the first 10 pages, I was laughing out loud. Bianca George and her balls. Bianca and her therapeutic shouting. Dex’s sexual innuendos. Dex’s alter-ego on the cover of the e-book and my rampant imagination.

After those first 10, though, it kinda dwindled down for me. Like, Puff the Magic Dragon went pfffffffft. I understand that the authors needed Dex to keep up with his charade to fit the story they wanted to tell, but I felt that it just got too immature and weird. To me, it was as if his insecurity, lying, and weird jealousy (over his fake “Jay” persona) did not fit his Wall Street-business-magnate characterization. Then, there was the Penelope Ward “Mack Daddy”-ish reminder. In “Mack,” Ms. Ward turned the heroine into a heart-stomping, cheating beeyatch, which I absolutely hated. Here, Bianca, after discovering Dex’s perfidy, tried to quickly move on from him and dated a nice co-worker of hers, Eamon. After one date, even though Eamon soundly perfectly sane and good-guy-next-door, Bianca dropped him like a hot patata and leaped for joy into Dex’s bad-boy Richie Rich arms. Then, Eamon was never mentioned ever again after that scene.

It got even weirder when the story took a sharp left towards the land of WTF-Is-Happening. Like, the TV show “Friends” evolved into the long-running soap opera, “Dallas.” In a blink of an eye, we suddenly discover, together with the main characters, that Dex’s dad and Bianca’s mom had a long-running affair back in the day. That Bianca detested her dad for the longest time, because she was led to believe that it was her dad who had stepped out of his marriage (and out of her and her sister’s lives). And, that Dex and Bianca has this major potentially incestuous relationship going on, and that Dex was fully prepared to get it going on with his perhaps-maybe-don’twannaknowforsure half-sister.

Of course, it all still ended in a HEA. And, I just didn’t have the heart to give it just 2-stars, because I did like it…. in the end. I didn’t read “Mister Moneybags” from cover-to-cover like I normally would a Keeland-Ward novel. There were times that I just had to stop and remind myself that I bought this ebook, and also to realize that blurbs are marketing gizmos to lure in gullible readers these days. I always like twists in my books, but the 3 starsones that the authors threw in here were not to my liking, I suppose. They didn’t fit, at least, not in my head. Nonetheless, I definitely look forward to another collab. But, really and truly, I wish Ms. Keeland would just release a solo book. Please.

Release Day for Nicola @AuthorNRendell


“I bet I can untangle you.”

 –> Kim inserts: And, with these opening words, I think I got tangled up even more with Nicola Rendell’s newest book, “Just Like That.”

Check out the synopsis:

At an airport baggage claim, Penny Darling looks up from her knotted mess of ear buds to find the sexiest hunk of man she’s ever seen. He’s got a military haircut, a scar through his eyebrow, and he’s rocking a pastel pink dress shirt like only a real man can. But Penny is on a man-free diet so she leaves the airport without succumbing to his delicious double-entendres…or his dreamy dimples.

PI Russ Macklin can’t take his eyes off Penny. As she sashays out of the airport with hips swaying and curls bouncing, he suspects they may share more than just sweltering chemistry. That suitcase she’s rolling along behind her? It looks a lot like his.

Because it is.

When he tracks her down, he holds her bag hostage in exchange for a date. Their night begins with margaritas and ends in urgent care, and Russ proves that Cosmo’s theory about a very particular type of orgasm was oh-so-wrong.

In Penny, Russ finds a small-town sweetheart with a very naughty side. For the first time ever, he’s thinking about picket fences. Penny finds in Russ a loving, caring man who understands the power of massaging showerheads.

But Russ is only in Port Flamingo for a week. They agree it’ll be a fling and nothing more. Because really, they can’t fall ass-over-teakettle in love just like that…

Can they?


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Get to reading!


SNEAK PEEK! Check out the excerpt below.

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In my shopping cart, I’ve got assorted gifts: a box of wine, like I saw in her fridge; every kind of salt-and-vinegar potato chips they sell; a box of Dots; some Kama Sutra warming massage oil because I couldn’t fucking resist.
And that just leaves one more thing.
I put my basket down by a display of cupcakes and clear my throat. “I need to get something written on a cake.”
The baker turns around. She pulls her hairnet off her head and says, “I’m leaving for the night, sir. I can take your order, but it’ll have to be for tomorrow.”
This part can’t wait. Penny needs to know I’m not sleeping on this. She needs to know I listened to every single thing she said—every last detail, every last word.
I lean forward, putting my hands on the curved glass case. I glance at the baker’s nametag and then look her in the tired, baggy eyes. “Jacquie. It’s urgent. I fucked up, and I need to apologize.”
“The bait shop has some nice carnations. Usually.”
“Already tried that. Didn’t take.”
She gives me a stern stare, like if the blue carnations didn’t do it, I must really be in the shit.
“Jacquie. Please.”
She inhales long and hard, pursing her lips tight. “I’ve got my bowling group in twenty minutes.” She points backward toward the freezers, and I see a turquoise bowling shirt hanging on the back of a door. “I’m sorry, sir. I don’t have time.” She starts undoing her apron, which is a smudgy, colorful explosion of frostings. “Like I said, come back tomorrow. I’ll be glad to do whatever you’d like then.”
I pull out my wallet and open the billfold. “I’ll pay your overtime. I’ll pay your lane fees. I’ll buy you a new goddamned pair of bowling shoes. Whatever you want.” I put a fifty on the counter, next to the crumbly remains of some free cookies. “I just need a cake, tonight, with a message written on it.”
She looks at the money and then back at me.
“Jacquie. We’re talking about…” What the hell are we talking about? Chemistry? Sparks? That feeling in my gut that I’ve never felt before? Happiness? No, it’s more than that, and there’s only one word for it. “Love, Jacquie. We’re talking about love.”
Holy fuck. As soon as I say it, I know it’s true. Just a few days with Penny and I’m saying the word I’ve never said before—the one I never thought I’d ever say at all.
She lowers her nose, crumpling her chin into her throat. “Love?”
“Love. Like love-at-first-sight, different-planet, just-like-that love.”
She sighs hard, considering the cash. And then finally she untangles her hairnet from her palm, slipping it over her crunchy curls. “Five minutes. Pick out your cake. I’ve only got time for writing, though. No extra flowers. No balloons. No decoration. No sprinkles. We’re clear?”
“Jacquie, you’re a life saver,” I say, and pull a small round cake, decorated with pink roses, from the display shelf below. I slide it across the bakery case as she reties her apron. Then she takes a pad of paper and hands me a pen.
“Print what you want. Nice and clear. No cursive. I’m not letting one of my cakes become a hashtag bakery fail, all right?” She puts on a pair of plastic food service gloves and pops the lid off the cake. She sets it on a pedestal to the left of the register.
I pick up the pen and look at the blank pad, thinking about what I want to say and how.
It isn’t Shakespeare. It’s the truth. Six words does the job. When I’m finished, I put the pad on the other side of the case. “There.”
Her gloves crinkle as she reads it, and then she recoils a little. She gives me a shame on you shake of her head. “Sir, this is a family establishment. I can’t write that on a cake.”
I pull another fifty out of my wallet. “How about now?”