BACK TO TOP

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Bad Penny by Staci Hart



Blurb:

Nothing good comes after the third date.

Date three is the crucial point when things get real, which is exactly why I bounce out the door, twiddling my fingers at whatever poor boy I’ve left behind. Because if I stick around, one of three things will happen: he’ll profess his undying love, he’ll get weird and stalky, or I’ll go crazy. Like, Sid and Nancy crazy. Like, chase-him-through-the-streets-begging-him-to-love-me crazy.

Seriously, it’s better for everyone this way.

So when I meet Bodie, I figure it’ll be the same as it ever was. It doesn’t matter that he doesn’t put a single string on me. Doesn’t matter that he’s funny and smart and jacked or that he can play my body like a grand piano. Because even though I’m built for love, love has only carved me up like a Christmas ham.

Resistance is something I can only hang on to for so long, and he has persistence in spades. But my heart isn’t as safe as I want to believe, and neither is his. And the second I ignore my cardinal rule is the second I stand to lose him forever.

Find Bad Penny on Goodreads



Purchase Links:

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2suAw4n
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2torX7F
Amazon AU: http://amzn.to/2rtA0DG
Amazon CA: http://amzn.to/2sCtzxR


Kristine's Review:
Reviewed: June 2017.

When Staci Hart announced Bad Penny saying this book would be different from her previous ones she couldn't have been more right, Penny is brash, without filter and truly seems to have mastered the art of giving zero f*cks. She calls it as she see's it, refuses to behave demurely or deny her sexual urges because of societal expectation and says whatever it is she's thinking without fear of judgement or retribution, in saying that she's also inherently good and kind, despite wanting to show the world she's heartless, she has possibly the biggest heart of any of Hart's characters to date. Her bright hair, piercings and tattoo's may give off a don't even try me vibe, but underneath the sass and bravado, underneath the feisty and in control heroine is a young woman who's been burnt one too many times and is just trying to find a way she can navigate her life without ending up as someone's collateral damage.

"Here's the thing, Bodie. When I love, I don't do it halfway, I go all the way into the fire until it burns me up. It's obsessive. I lost myself once to someone else, and I'm not doing it again."

Penny's take on dating, is very clear, she doesn't date, she has short sexual entanglements and she moves on, before the guy can get attached and before she can go crazy, it's a simple rule that's been treating her well, her three hook up rule keeps everyone involved safe, and until she meets Bodie, her plan seems fool proof, when the hot blonde surfer catches her eye she's sure she can put her plan into action and walk away unscathed.

"Penny could take over the world if she wanted to. She could take me over. She kind of already had."

Bodie is tanned and toned to perfection, built in all the right places, with the face of a God and the worlds sexiest dimple he sets Penny's heart racing, chemistry in spades and an instant connection - everything about him screams to Penny's carefree, wild side, lust and attraction bubbling between them, but more than that Brodie is the ultimate nice guy, inherently good and decent, he see's beyond Penny's quirks, past her feisty attitude, to the young woman she hides underneath, he knows in the first meeting that she is exactly who he wants, if he can just figure out how to hold on to her long enough for her to see it too.

"But that was what Bodie did. He anticipated what I required and gave it to me, even when the gift was his silence. He cared for me without demand, without expectation."

Bad Penny is SEXY, and I mean balls to the wall, often times explicit sexy, and I'll be honest here, as my reading preferences have changed over the years I often find myself skimming my way through long or frequent sex scenes, feeling that it fails to propel the story forward and for me ends up feeling more like filler, and from the outset I suspected this book would be heavy on the sex, with Penny and her blatant sexuality I was concerned I'd find myself less engaged and  yet, I found myself so utterly invested in Penny's development and growth that I couldn't look away.

"You are the toughest chick I know, and the very last thing I expect from you is to let fear stop you from doing anything. Jump out the plane , Pen."

Undoubtedly the hero of this story is Penny, it's her journey from somewhat broken and flawed that absolutely grabbed me and demanded my attention. While I may not have always been able to connect with Penny and her behaviour, I inherently understood her fears and shared her pain, because at some point inside most of us lies that frightened girl, who has been burnt one too many times and is just trying to find a way to piece ourselves back together, the girl who refuses to apologise for how she healed herself and the decisions she's made to get where she is, and at the very heart of it, that's what made Penny so damn lovable and relatable, not her sass or bravado, not her wild at heart life mantra, nor her man eater ways, it's how truly unapologetic she is as she goes about her day to day life, it's the number of heartbreaks and dalliances with the crazy train she has endured and said f*ck it to the world, while pulling up her big girl panties and getting on with it. Bad Penny is laugh out loud funny, absolutely inappropriate at times in the best possible way, sinfully sexy while still maintaining that sweet edge, Hart shows her writing chops by delivering a story with the right amount of angst, commensurate to the age of the lead characters, ensuring nothing felt out of place or overdone, making Bad Penny utterly engaging and impossible to put down.






About Staci Hart:


Staci has been a lot of things up to this point in her life -- a graphic designer, an entrepreneur, a seamstress, a clothing and handbag designer, a waitress. Can't forget that. She's also been a mom, with three little girls who are sure to grow up to break a number of hearts. She's been a wife, though she's certainly not the cleanest, or the best cook. She's also super, duper fun at a party, especially if she's been drinking whiskey.

From roots in Houston to a seven year stint in Southern California, Staci and her family ended up settling somewhere in between and equally north, in Denver. They are new enough that snow is still magical. When she's not writing, she's reading, sleeping, gaming, or designing graphics.

Connect with Staci on Facebook
Join Staci's Reader Group





Saturday, 10 June 2017

The Foxe and the Hound by R.S. Grey


Blurb:

A full-length STANDALONE romantic comedy from USA TODAY bestselling author R.S. Grey.

When your life is a hot mess at twenty, it’s cute. At twenty-seven…well, not so much.

It’s just that my lofty dreams—making it as a real estate agent, paying rent on time, showering daily—have stayed just that: dreams. Oh, and love? I’ve decided love might be a little ambitious for me at the moment. Instead, I’ve settled for the two guys who will never leave me: Ben & Jerry.

That is, until Dr. Adam Foxe takes up residence as the town’s new vet.

With his strong jaw, easy confidence, and form-fitting scrubs, it’s not long before every housewife in Hamilton is dragging neglected tomcats in for weekly checkups.

Like everyone else, I’m intrigued. Even after I spoil my chance at a good first impression, he still offers me a proposition I can’t refuse: play his girlfriend at a family function and he’ll hire me as his real estate agent. Welcome to love in the 21st century.

It’s too bad I underestimated Adam’s irresistible charm and the undeniable attraction that burns between us. The day he pins me to the wall and silences me with a kiss, the line between reality and ruse begins to blur. Every teasing touch brings me to my knees. Every kiss promises more.

It looks like my hot mess of a life is about to get a little hotter.

ind on Goodreads

Purchase Links:



Kristine's Review:
Reviewed: June 2017.

I fell in love in with R.S. Grey's words way back when with  With This Heart and Behind His Lens, as her back catalogue has grown, so has my affection for her stories, from the quirky and fun, to the heartfelt and serious, Grey has ensnared my heart and captured my mind with her witty dialogue, relatable characters and explosive chemistry, her writing always leaving eager for more, and yet entirely sated. After a period of failing to connect with books, I finally hit my stride, discovering titles that left me giddy and desperate for more, I'll be honest, with each book I finished feeling overjoyed and elated there was also a sense of trepidation, because what if the next book doesn't continue your loved up book spree, what then... I shouldn't have been worried, especially not where Ms Grey is concerned, because while I have been a long time fan of the authors words, The Foxe and the Hound became a new top recommendation.


“I didn't plan to be this dysfunctional at 27, but dysfunctionality has a way of creeping up on you. One second, you're 22, wrapping up your undergraduate degree from a top business school, and then suddenly, you're sitting alone in your car at 27, wondering how five years slipped trough your fingers without so much as a blink.”  

To say Madeleine Thatcher has had a tough run would be an understatement, ever the eternal optimist even Madeline is starting to doubt how long she can continue, perennially single, regularly behind on rent, and working a job she loves but never seems to be making it in is starting to take its toll. Once again running late for work, her life and giant mountain dog of a puppy sends her careening into the newest addition to her small town, unbeknownst to all involved Madeleine's life is about to change.

Adam Foxe relocated from Chicago after some messy personal issues, he's quite content to just jump into his new practice and keep a low profile, after all who needs messy personal entanglements after everything he's just left behind? His first meeting with Madeleine Thatcher left a sour taste in his mouth, unfortunately he can't stop thinking about her either. Adam's not the only one, despite his surely demeanour, Madeleine can't deny the attraction she feels, everything about their tenuous interactions is almost laughable and yet neither seems to be able to stay away.

"I like you. If I were dating right now, I'd want to be with you, okay?
He bends down so his gaze meets mine. Even still, I do my best to focus on the gym floor.
"The reason I've been ignoring your calls  and emails is because I like you too much." 


Grey writes adorkable romantic entanglements like no other, there's a cringe worthy element to Madeleine and Adam's interaction that makes it absolutely impossible to put down, there's a realness there, despite the settings created that allow the reader to truly believe in the story unfolding between not only the hero and heroine but their friends and peers. The push and pull Grey creates is utterly spellbinding, I found myself so enchanted to that I didn't want to put it down, the snarky banter had me laughing out loud, the pure absurdity of certain moments felt so incredibility right that I lapped up her words, telling anyone who would listen to buy this book!

Uproariously funny, scintillatingly sexy and stunningly sweet, The Foxe and the Hound hit all the right notes for me, even with all of that, what I truly adored was the story beneath, the story of a young woman who's quietly questioning her life, and the choices she's made up to this point, the one who's questioning if she should pack up and start again somewhere new, or whether she's destined to stay where she is right now, coupled with the young man, who had thought he had life completely figured out, and had his happily ever after in his sights, who instead if left questioning if all the decisions he made were the right ones, there's a beautiful dichotomy in these two characters, who the reader knows are perfect for each other but can't quite step out of their own heads for long enough to realise it. Hands down a TOP Recommendation of 2017, and a MUST READ for all book lovers.



About R.S. Grey:



I am a lover of books, chocolate, reality TV, metaphors and similes, black labs, and cold weather.

Connect with Rachel on Facebook




Dating-ish (Knitting in the Cty #6) by Penny Reid


Blurb:

There are three things you need to know about Marie Harris:
1) She’s fed up with online dating,
2) She’s so fed up, she’s willing to forego the annoyance and consider more creative alternatives, and
3) She knows how to knit.

After the most bizarre and irritating first date in the history of human kind, Marie is looking for an alternative to men. With the help of her friends, she quickly identifies a few possibilities:

Need a cuddle? Use a professional cuddler. Need affirmation? Get yourself a life coach. Need an orgasm? Try orgasm meditation! Why does she need the hassle of a romantic partner when she can meet all her needs with paid services?
But then her irritating date resurfaces. And he’s not at all the person she thought he was. And he suggests a different—and crazier—solution to her dilemma . . .
As everyone knows (or will soon come to realize), traditional relations between humans are a thing of the past. Robots are our future. And if robots are our future, then why do we need other people at all?

Find on Goodreads

Purchase Links:

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2slZXRI
Amazon PB: http://amzn.to/2ro2PjA
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2slWRNJ
Amazon AU: http://amzn.to/2rEpUzK
Amazon CA: http://amzn.to/2sdCenw



Kristine's Review:
Reviewed: June 2017.

Over a week later and I'm still ruminating over Dating-ish, the basis of this story was instantly intriguing, there's something inherently thrilling about diving into a Penny Reid novel, it's filled with a sense of the unknown, never quite sure what you're going to find. For fans of the Knitting in the City series, we finally get to embark on Marie's story, for those new to this crafty bunch, it's a seamless introduction to an old group of friends.

“Whatever happened to taking the time to actually know a person?"

"People don’t do that anymore.” Sandra flicked her wrist toward Ashley’s image on the laptop. “It’s all swipe left for sex or right to murder.”
“Not quite, but, yeah. It’s pretty bad out there.”  


Tinder, eHarmony, Plenty of Fish, HER, Grindr most of us have used some sort of dating app in our quest to meet THE ONE, after all we're busy 20, 30, 40 and beyond somethings, we work chaotic jobs, live in a fast paced world, and we won't say no to a little help when it comes to finding a good match. Before marriage I saw Saturday nights with equal amounts of joy and trepidation, I was happy being single but I saw my coupled off friends and wondered if I was missing out on something, I wanted to meet someone, I wanted the butterflies and the swoony eyes, the elation over receiving that text and trying to figure out how long I had to wait before replying, and don't even get me started on weird first dates, and the sheer horror of some of those blind dates, awkward introductions, stilted conversations, longingly staring at your phone praying it will ring, the entire process is not for the faint of heart, at least in my experience. The worst part of my tale of woe, isn't even the bad first dates, it's what comes after, it's the meeting someone and clicking, it's the hanging out and becoming something else entirely, it's the threat of the dreaded FRIEND ZONE, and for a girl who's lived a great deal of her life in that murky grey area, I've got to tell you, it's tough, because feelings get involved, and you realise the line between friendship and more is actually pretty blurry.

“I’m gonna give you some unsolicited advice, okay?” Dan peered at me, as though making sure I knew to take his words seriously. “But it’s good advice, even though I’m tired as hell, so it might not make much sense.”
“Sure. Go for it.” Even in my muddled state, I couldn’t help but smile at my friend.
“You like that guy, you tell him flat out. You just lay what you want and everything out there. Don’t waste time not saying things that need to be said. He’ll always be in your mind, wrecking the possibility of things with other people, because your heart can’t move on until it knows for sure a door is closed.”
I managed a reassuring smile. “Thanks for the ad—”
“But then, if the door opens, make sure it’s the right door, not a different door. Because then you’ll be in the room, but it’s not the right room. And then you’re stuck in the room, you’ve committed to the room, and you’d be an asshole for trying a new door in the same house when you’re already in a room. And then your f*cking heart won’t stop looking for a window.”  


When Marie goes out on a quasi blind date she's hopeful, surely it's her turn right, she's a good catch, she has a good job, great friends, her own place, sure she's not Rockafeller but she does okay for herself, what has potential soon crumbles, dissolving in the most awkward of first dates, so bad it's entirely laughable, and just when she thinks the whole thing is done and dusted, life has a way of throwing her a curveball, in the form of the socially awkward Matt. As Marie begins her quest to find out if services bought and rendered can make up for a real life intimate relationship, something bizarre happens, the man who was once the enemy, becomes someone who makes her life better.

“Maybe the answer is: Don’t be an asshole, think before you open your trap, take responsibility for your words. Meaning, apologize when you’re wrong and correct yourself moving forward—and don’t constantly look for reasons to be offended and police well-meaning people’s words. We want folks to talk to each other, right? Not just hang out with like-minded people all the time. Everyone is ignorant about something, and everyone is offended by something. If people can’t have a calm, respectful dialogue without being hurt by ignorance, or without offending with insensitivity, then what the hell are we supposed to do? Surround ourselves with robots who don’t challenge our ideas?”



At its heart, Dating-ish is essentially a frienemies/friends to lovers rom com, but like everything Reid writes, it's also so much more than that, with her ability to engage in a moral debate of sorts with the reader, I often find myself, asking more questions, of not just my own thoughts and beliefs but of the world around me. There were so many moments that I found myself stopping to process my emotional response Reid's words, from the outset I found myself drawn to Marie, from her self deprecating humour, to the care she easily bestowed on all lucky enough to be loved by her, but more than that I sympathised with her in the way only someone who has felt the sting of developing feeling for someone who won't or can't reciprocate them, I felt that physical, crushing pain for her in the quiet moments when she allowed herself to break, and because of that I could feel her joy when she smiled and laughed.

“Only you get to decide how you stand, what you stand for, and when you do it.”  


Penny Reid has easily become one of my go to authors, I find myself drawn to her words, like a moth to a flame, her often poignant dialogue and spirited thought provoking prose is what leaves me remarking to book friends "I feel smarter reading her books", there's a simple, unassuming beauty in Marie and Matt's story, one filled with undeniable heart, and a health amount of humour, that had me utterly invested from the very first page, even now I find myself struggling to make sense of everything I felt reading this book, the emotions often too big to adequately describe, and the sucker punch to the gut to real and raw, Dating-ish left an indelible mark on my heart, one I'll wear proudly.





About Penny Reid:


Penny Reid is the USA Today Best Selling Author of the Winston Brothers and Knitting in the City series. When she’s not immersed in penning smart romances, Penny works in the biotech industry as a researcher. She’s also a full time mom to three diminutive adults, wife, daughter, knitter, crocheter, sewer, general crafter, and thought ninja.

Connect with Penny on Facebook






Wednesday, 31 May 2017

The Way Back Home by Carmen Jenner


Blurb:


August Cotton shouldn’t be here. When a tragic accident calls him home to Magnolia Springs, this returned Veteran adds his parents to the list of things he’s lost in recent years, right along with his IED detection dog and his left leg. As the sole guardian of his four-year-old sister, August must rely on his Marine training in raising a tiny hellion who’s as stubborn as he is. But the Corps could never prepare him for this. Nor could they prepare him for Olivia Anders, a woman who’ll stop at nothing to get her way.

As owner of Paws for Cause, Olivia is no stranger to the broken men and women who return home from war. She’s no stranger to broken dogs either. In fact, she’s made it her mission to pair the two and enrich both of their lives, but pairing ornery and aloof August Cotton will take some work. The last thing August wants is some pushy southern woman occupying his parents’ bed and breakfast and forcing him to open up about the hell he narrowly escaped, but that’s exactly what Olivia intends.

They complete one another, and yet they can’t stand to be in the same room.

Can Olivia make this hardened Marine feel again and finally show his heart the way back home?

*** Intended for a mature 18+ audience only. This book may contain triggers for some readers.***

Find on Goodreads



Purchase Links:

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2rnXQiX
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2slNrBR
Amazon AU: http://amzn.to/2qA7qQU
Amazon CA: http://amzn.to/2rjIwSC




Kristine's Review:
Reviewed: May 2017.

When I read my first Carmen Jenner book I remember thinking, wow she writes tattooed bad boys so well, then when she turned her hand to rock stars I again had the same thought, would you believe it, with each of the new tropes she tackled, from motorcycle gangs, to small town factory workers, to returned veterans, she has captured the very essence of characterisation that allows the hero and heroine to exist in a real state, off the page, and in our hearts.

"There's nothing like feeling lonely when you're surrounded by a crowd."

When I first met Olivia Anders, it was her take no sh*t attitude and resilience I adored, she was strong and feisty, determined to do her part to keep making the world a better place. There was a sense of someone who had seen and experienced far more than she had let on, and it was both endearing and inspired.

"Every day I tell myself I'm brave, I'm strong, that the past does not dictate who I am or the woman I've become. I keep hoping that one day it'll stick."

August Cotton has had a pretty crap run, he enlisted and went off to war, never really expecting to return to the life he left behind, returning home under the worst of circumstances has left the brittle and battered man even more determined to steer of everyone and everything in his small town. August has lost too much, left to rear his baby sister, the last thing he needs or wants is a pushy Olivia telling him what he needs and wants.

"Because wounds on the inside can be so much harder to heal than those of the flesh."

In true Jenner style, The Way Back Home is full of angst and emotion, everything about Olivia drawing you in, while August resolutely pushes you away, the building tension and blinding chemistry make this story impossible to put down, but its true beauty comes from those unparalleled moments of raw and real anguish, the moments that we watch as the walls these two people painstakingly built come crashing down, it's in those moments that Carmen Jenner truly shines, as she tugs and pulls at your heart, bruising it, battering it, before piecing it back together slowly and surely and sending you on your way.




About Carmen Jenner:



Carmen Jenner is a thirty-something, USA Today and international bestselling author.

Her dark romance, KICK (Savage Saints MC #1), won Best Dark Romance Read in the Reader’s Choice Awards at RWDU, 2015.

A tattoo enthusiast, hardcore makeup addict and zombie fangirl, Carmen lives on the sunny North Coast of New South Wales, Australia, where she spends her time indoors wrangling her two wildling children, a dog named Pikelet, and her very own man-child.

A romantic at heart, Carmen strives to give her characters the HEA they deserve, but not before ruining their lives completely first … because what’s a happily ever after without a little torture?

Connect with Carmen on Facebook






Plight by KM Golland


Blurb:


Plight [plahyt]
Noun: a difficult, or otherwise unfortunate situation.
Verb: pledge or solemnly promise. Be engaged to be married.

I promised myself to a man. Well, technically, I promised myself to a boy. We were eight years old. Neighbours. He gave me a Cheezel, pushed it onto my finger, and asked me to marry him.
I ate the Cheezel.
I also said, “Yes” but that we’d have to wait until we were thirty.
It was my thirtieth birthday last week and now he’s calling in that promise.
Seriously, Elliot Parker is insane if he thinks that an out of the blue private Facebook message stipulating the binding law of an oral contractual agreement is going to seal our twenty-two-year bullshit engagement.
Insane.
I wonder if he really does look like his profile picture, though.

Find on Goodreads


Purchase Links:

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2qArK09
Amazon PB: http://amzn.to/2qFof89
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2rU0MED
Amazon AU: http://amzn.to/2qzMeKB
Amazon CA: http://amzn.to/2slH7dk


Kristine's Review:
Reviewed: May 2017.

Plight was such a fun premise, two childhood best friends who agreed to get married when they grew up, a deal sealed with a cheezel, I mean lets be honest, most of us wore our cheezel rings with pride when we were kids, the only caveat was that Danielle refused to don a white dress unless she was single at thirty. As is inevitable, Danielle and Elliot have drifted apart, well over a decade has passed since they last spoke, and for better or worse Danielle has moved on with her life, just after turning thirty, she receives a private message from none other that her betrothed, when Elliot reaches out to honour his proposal from all those years before, we know in true KM Golland style the fun is just beginning.


"Elliot Parker is insane if he thinks that a private Facebook message stipulation the binding law of an oral contractual agreement is going to seal our twenty-two year bullshit deal. In.Sane."


Danielle is every part the sassy and strong heroine I've come to expect from KM Golland, despite a few set backs in her life, Danielle is doing just fine, thank you very much, not one to be reliant on others, or ask for anyone's help or approval, she is tackling each day with vigour and determination. When the boy she once loved more than herself or her traitorous teenage heart could handle waltzes back into her life and demands her time and attention she's finding old feelings rushing back to the surface, childhood crushes and teenage heartbreaks, and all these emotions she didn't ever want to have to deal with.



"Except Danielle had never been the girl of my dreams, she’d been the girl of my reality, my best friend and that was even better."

Elliot was always a resourceful kid, but Elliot as an adult, who has set his sights on the ultimate prize isn't going to let Danielle's annoyance get in his way, the girl of his dreams has always been Danielle, despite all the twists and turns his life has taken he has always been sure of one thing, and now that Danielle is back within reach he will stop at nothing to convince her what they have is real, what they have is not something you walk away from, that what they have is forever.

Everything about Plight is engaging, Danielle and Elliot entice you with their witty banter, but beneath the hilarity is a tender love story that begs you to read a little deeper, and surrender to the magic that Golland weaves. Equal parts heat and heart and Golland's trademark humour Plight is the perfect Sunday afternoon read that feels familiar and intriguing all at the same time.











About KM Golland:


“I'm an author. I am married. I am a mother of two adorable little people. I'm a bookworm, craftworm, movieworm, and sportsworm. I'm also a self-confessed shop-aholic, tea-aholic, car-aholic, and choc-aholic.” Born and raised in Melbourne, Australia, K.M. Golland studied law and worked as a conveyancer before putting her career on hold to raise her children. She then traded her legal work for her love of writing and found her dream career.

Connect with KM on Facebook