Book Review: Robin Covington’s His Southern Temptation

southernTitle: His Southern Temptation
Author: Robin Covington
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Yes / Book 2
Rating: 4 out of 5
My Copy: Advance Reader Copy via Entangled Publishing

I’m a big fan of lovers reunited and when I came across the opportunity to review Robin Covington’s His Southern Temptation, I couldn’t resist. I haven’t read the first book in the series, A Night of Southern Comfort, and while I don’t think it’s necessary to read it before reading His Southern Temptation, I think it would help because you’ll be familiar with a lot of the characters mentioned. That being said, His Southern Temptation, is a good a standalone book.

Like any person growing up in a small town, David “Lucky” Landon couldn’t wait to leave and his chance came when he enrolled in the US military. As a former assassin in the military, he’s done things he wishes he could forget. He decides he wants to buy his father’s farm, but before he does, he has one more job to do. He’s hired to find the whereabouts of Sarah Morgan and the case is proving more than he bargained for; no one will talk to him regarding Sarah. Meanwhile, Taylor Elliott is only in town to help pack and sell her family’s house. Thinking an intruder is in the house she holds him at gunpoint and realizes it’s none other than Lucky. The feelings she had for him resurfaces and both must come to grips with what it all means. Will they be able to put the past aside or will they once again go their separate ways?

I really enjoyed Covington’s writing and His Southern Temptation is a fast paced read. In terms of characterization, the characters are interesting and well-written. We find out how long Lucky and Taylor have known each other and the reason why they aren’t together. The differences between their backgrounds are also pointed out, with Lucky growing up on a farm and Taylor being part of a prominent wealthy family. Taylor has some relationship issues. Her parents haven’t had an ideal marriage and she’s afraid of heading down the same path. The constant relationship / no relationship discussion got a bit old especially once Taylor had made her mind. I understand her mother’s point when she tells Taylor she needs to live to her life and basically outlined what she gave up, but at the same time Taylor has had YEARS to think this through. That was my only small annoyance. While there are a lot of secondary characters, you’ll enjoy them. I loved Sheriff Burke and his untimely arrival in three memorable scenes involving Lucky and Taylor. The real standout secondary character is Taylor’s brother, Teague. He’s so stuffy and proper and I can’t wait for someone to come and turn his world upside down.

The mystery of Sarah Morgan plays a minor role and while I was disappointed there wasn’t more to it, I realized after reading, this isn’t about Sarah, but about Lucky and Taylor. While I wanted to give it a three, I debated with the rating. In the end, the romance between Lucky and Taylor is the center of the novel and because of that, I gave it a four.

My favorite quotes:

It was time to channel the late, great Patrick Swayze and take “Baby” out of the corner.

“Maybe what you’re looking for isn’t a place but a person.”

I’ll be going back to read A Night of Southern Comfort and am really looking forward to reading Teague Elliott’s story. If you’re a fan of romance, I recommend His Southern Temptation. Just be warned: it’s a sizzling read. You might need a cold shower or two after.

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Book Review: Toni Aleo’s Taking Shots

takingTitle: Taking Shots
Author: Toni Aleo
Genre: Contemporary Romance / Sports
Series: Yes / Book 1
Rating: 3 out of 5
My Copy: Purchased

Let me start off by saying, I’m a HUGE hockey fan (Dallas Stars!) and as a reader I’m aware of sports themed romance plots; however, I had no idea there were hockey related plots. It just never crossed my mind and when I came across Toni Aleo’s Taking Shots, I knew I had to read it immediately.

Eleanor Fisher has spent the last six years thinking no man would want her after her ex-finance treated her like dirt. She’s insecure about her about weight despite losing the weight she gained due to an illness. Elli is a former Broadway actress, but now she has a thriving career in Nashville as a photographer with a successful business. Her uncle, Bryan Fisher, owns the Nashville Assassins and hires her to take the team photos for the upcoming NHL season. She catches the eye of Captain Shea Adler and he’s quickly smitten, but she can’t believe a hunk like Adler would be interested in her. They both quickly fall in love, but will Elli’s insecurity threaten their happiness or will it be an outsider?

I liked Taking Shots and there are some swoon worthy moments. I LOVED the birthday surprise Adler organizes for Elli. Two words: Netherfield Ball. Yes, Elli is a big fan of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and even introduces Adler to the book and film. I really liked that he was open to the idea of reading Austen and took the time to actually read the book. Adler quickly adopts Elli’s dog and that was super nice to read. A majority of the plot does center around their families. I feel for Elli because she doesn’t have an ideal family, but Adler’s family totally makes up for it.

As for the writing, it is my understanding there were issues with the first edition of Taking Shots in terms of grammar, but I still found errors. I believe a lot of it has to do with the way Aleo writes: writes the way she talks. I can’t say for sure how she talks, but I’m making the assumption because some authors do write the way they talk. It doesn’t necessary distract a reader, but it does pull you out of the story from time to time.

I debated with the rating and in the end decided on a three. It would have been a solid four had Aleo edited some of the mundane portions such as the daily routines. I understand Elli’s insecurity with regards to her weight, but it was just annoying to read page after page about her weight issues. Adler was supportive and come on, if the hockey player I crushed on and was a HUGE fan of was interested me, I’d be throwing my off clothes right away and not be worried about this or that. Sport fans are familiar with the groupies and hockey players aren’t immune to the attention lavished on them by puck bunnies. So when there’s an incident with Adler and a puck bunny, I don’t know why Elli gets angry about it. It’s almost as if Adler never could catch a break. He had to constantly “prove” he loved her and when he tells her he does, she doesn’t say she loves him until 15% is left of the book. Additionally, Elli kept a lot of secrets regarding her ex-finance to that of her family’s background. I’m not sure why Adler was still interested in her especially since she kept so much hidden.

My favorite quotes:

Whoever coined the phrase ‘Absence makes the heart grow fonder,’ was an idiot.

“Jeez! I thought you said you were just gonna set up the tree? It looks like Santa shit Christmas in here”

Despite a few hiccups, I’m going to read the entire series and see how Aleo’s writing progresses. I do appreciate the enthusiasm she brought with regards to hockey. As I stated, I am a hockey fan and could easily associate with the feelings regarding the game and I think non-fans will be able to appreciate the game a little more.

Book Review: Jessica Lemmon’s Tempting the Billionaire

temptingTitle: Tempting the Billionaire
Author: Jessica Lemmon
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Yes / Book 1
Rating: 5 out of 5
My Copy: Purchased

The romance genre is oversaturated with billionaire plots and even though I had my doubts, Jessica Lemmon’s Tempting the Billionaire was a pleasant surprise.

Crickitt Day is down on her luck and needs a job. Hoping to chase the blues away she agrees to a night out with her best friend Sadie. While at the bar Crickitt breaks down into tears as she takes stock of her life and what she’s lost. Across from Crickitt is Shane August and his cousin Aiden. Shane reluctantly agrees to go out with Aiden to help him get back into the dating scene. Aiden quickly zeroes in on Crickitt and seeing her tears assumes she’ll be easy to seduce; however, Shane takes one look at Crickitt and his heart stops. He’s interested in her and convinces Aiden that Crickitt’s friend is where his interest lies. When Shane begins to talk to Crickitt, she confesses she needs a job and acting on impulse he hands her his business card. She’s hesitant about the job interview and in fact turns down his offer, but reconsiders when he interviews her a second time. Both are clearly attracted to each other and Shane tries to set up guidelines of how to go about their relationship, but Crickitt doesn’t want what he’s offering. Realizing he can’t give her what she wants, they both agree to maintain a professional relationship. When Crickitt’s ex-husband calls her, Shane believes she’s gone back to him and what ensues is a beautiful story about a man and a woman realizing what true love is.

What I really liked about Tempting the Billionaire is the fact Shane is normal. He wears cargo pants and isn’t flashing his cash telling the whole world “oh look at me! I’m filthy rich!” When he does, it’s to help people who need it. He’s also not going around showing up where Crickitt is or demanding to know her whereabouts. Nor is he showering her with endless gifts. He’s not interested in buying her love, but rather he’s more interested in getting to know her. Shane does have some issues that are rooted in his past as a child. It’s easy to understand his reluctance at falling in love because he witnessed firsthand what it did to his father and he wants to spare his children the heartache he experienced. The scene in which he realizes he can’t live without Crickitt was the best. It’s also refreshing to read a book where the two protagonists are aware of their sexual attraction and have an adult conversation about what to do about it.

Some people think Crickitt is a doormat but I disagree. You have to take into account her past. Most people enter relationships with some baggage and what she has is normal for a woman who is divorced. Remember she’s only known one man and spent the past eleven years catering to him. Besides she’s perfectly able to stand up for herself and knows what she wants. When Shane takes off to distance himself from her, she had one of two of options. The first was to continue to work for him as his personal assistant or quit and leave him hanging. Instead she took the initiative and became the face of August Industries when Shane didn’t care.

Lemmon’s characters are believable and flawed. Her writing is engaging and witty. If I had been reading this book out in public, everyone would have seen the HUGE grin on my face. I had so much fun reading this and adore it immensely.

Some of my favorite quotes:

Women may throw themselves at you like live grenades, but the rest of us commoners have to come out of the trenches and hunt.

She looked at it a beat before taking it. “Crickitt.”
“Like the bug?” He flinched. Smooth.

Her mother pulled her to one side. “You stay as long as he needs you, you hear?”
Pimped out by my own parents. “Yes, Mother.”

I’m not ashamed to say I read this book in a day. I kept insisting I would only read one more chapter and just kept going. If you’re looking for a book with lots of sexual tension that will make your heart beat, this is the book for you. Heck if you’re just looking for a good fleshed out romance this is your book. There’s a side romance between Sadie and Aiden and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens in book 2, Hard to Handle.

Book Review: Courtney Cole’s Confessions of an Alli Cat

allicat-for-webTitle: Confessions of an Alli Cat
Author: Courtney Cole
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Yes / Book 1
Rating: 2 out of 5
My Copy: Review Copy via Author

I’ve never read Courtney Cole before, and it’s my understanding she writes mostly Young Adult. Confessions of an Alli Cat is her first “adult” contemporary. I had high hopes for Confessions because the synopsis looked interesting, and it sounded like a funny read. Thirty-five-year-old Allison Lancaster is divorced and in a dating funk. Well, actually not a funk as she’s not dating anyone. Her best friend Sara buys her a night with a gigolo, and encourages to her to try new things such as sex toys and a Brazilian. What ensues is supposed to be a hilarious account of a woman getting her groove back; however, the book falls flat for me. While it’s a fast-paced read, I had several issues with the plot and its execution.

First of all, the language used in several places seemed forced and unnatural. I felt the author was trying too hard to be funny, and it just failed. Sure, there are a few funny moments but none that were really memorable. The constant referral to Alli’s ex-husband as “Rick the Dick,” got old really fast. A few times here and there would have been okay, but it’s overused. The language ultimately felt very juvenile to me. I couldn’t quite place why it felt this way. The only times it felt natural was when Alli’s 15-year-old daughter and Alli’s assistant were talking.

Second, with the exception of Alli’s daughter and Alex, everyone else seemed to be a caricature. I found myself asking what mature, 35-year-old woman acts the way Alli’s best friend does? I’m not saying the “Sara’s of the world” don’t exist because I’m sure they do, but the entire dynamic between Alli and Sara felt fake. Alli asking if the Brazilian was THE Brazilian just felt off. Also, Alli complains how everything is Sara’s idea and doesn’t want to go along with them, such as the Brazilian experience. She’s a grown woman and can put her foot down and say no, but does she? Nope. Yes, we see Alli grow from this shy, sexual woman to a woman confident in her sexuality; but I believe the experience could have been achieved without the exaggeration used.

Finally, the big plot twist ended up more of a “yuck fest” than anything at all. I’m not a prude; but when the big reveal came, all I could do was put my e-reader down and walk away. It took a few days to get back into it. I know a lot of reviewers don’t have an issue with this; and that’s okay, but I do. Part of the issue is that nothing is said to Alex, and all I can imagine is the future when he does find out. I know it’s fiction, but I don’t need a Maury Povich moment in my books, even if I imagine what the future could be. Judging from the reviews, no one has a problem with it, and that’s fine. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I couldn’t move past it. Even trying to think of Shade as Shade, etc. I just couldn’t.

A lot of reviewers have focused on the sex and saying they are scorchers, etc. I found myself skimming them. One scene in particular involving Shade and a masseuse had me rolling my eyes and skimming the rest of the scene. I don’t have a problem reading a love triangle; but in most, the third wheel isn’t expanded, and it’s easy to cheer on the underdog or the one giving lessons in seduction. In Confessions, we don’t have that. A large chunk is devoted to Shade and Alli’s relationship and I kept wondering if it was Shade she was going to wind up with and what the heck Alex had to with the book.

I’d also like to bring up the concept of gigolos. The gigolo genre isn’t very popular, and there’s a reason for it. I’m not sure how the author got the idea, but I think she must have been watching Nightline’s story on “Secrets of Gigolos” or Showtime’s Gigolos, that focuses on the Cowboys4Angels website. Here is where the author failed the legal aspect of it. While paying for an escort is perfectly legal in several states because you are paying for companionship, paying for sexual services is illegal. The novel takes places in Clark County, which includes Las Vegas, so paying for sex is therefore illegal. While the author, does state that Shade is an escort, the fact remains Alli and her friend pay to have sex and it’s illegal in Nevada to exchange money for sex the way the author describes the scenarios. In fact, in Nevada legalized brothels outside metro cities is acceptable with the rest being prostitution. Shade even admits he got into the business because he likes to have sex. I can suspend disbelief in fiction, however; in this case I can’t separate fact from fiction.

The story had potential, but quickly fell flat. I debated over the rating. It would have been a three if we would have had more moments with Alex because I truly believe those are the best scenes in the book.

Book Review: Sylvia Day’s Reflected In You

Reflected-in-You-by-Sylvia-DayTitle: Reflected In You
Author: Sylvia Day
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Yes / Book 2 of 3
Rating: 3 out of 5
My Copy: Advance Reader Copy via NetGalley

Reflected In You is the highly anticipated sequel to Sylvia Day’s Bared To You. It is part of a trilogy and book two in the Crossfire series. It can be read as a standalone, if you’re the type not to care for much back story, and if you aren’t interested to see how the series concludes. The Crossfire series will get compared to Fifty Shades of Grey, but I disagree. I believe both series are very different from each other (there is no BDSM references here ) and can be enjoyed by fans of both.

This next installment picks up right where we left off at the end of Bared To You. It’s the morning after Cary’s, Eva’s roommate, infamous orgy in the middle of their living room- what a way to end book one! Readers will remember Cary’s ominous words to Eva, “He’s a ticking time bomb,” with regards to Gideon’s nightmares. Both Eva and Gideon are trying to make their relationship work, but how can both make it work when it is very clear that they are obsessed with one another and as equally damaged? Eva, Gideon, and Cary grow as characters, each having to face the consequences of their choices; and it was interesting to see these past decisions affect their current lives. Day turns an erotic novel into a deeper therapy session, but the angst and steam were not lost in the shuffle.

Reflected is centered around Eva and her haunting past. Day gives insight regarding the abuse Eva experienced in the first book; however, in Reflected we have the return of her abuser as well as a newcomer from her past. One of them plays a more prominent role while the other is a player in the background, but we are given two justifiable reasons for both to be present. First, they provide us with a glimpse into the type of woman Eva was and how she’s evolved into this young, vibrant, and confident woman we were introduced to in Bared. The second is to showcase her feelings for Gideon and how important and life altering he has become to her. I will ask this though, how many times will Day kick Eva in the stomach? It was heartbreaking to see her reduced to this insecure woman who questions her motives and feelings for Gideon all because of her past. I was mentally high-fiving Eva when she finally got some balls, put her foot down, and said enough was enough. There was the Eva I knew and adored from Bared.

As for Gideon, Day finally reveals what happened in his youth; and as much as I want to say I had an idea, I was not prepared for the effect it had on me. Eva is devastated for him, and I have no doubt you, as a reader, will be too. We get a better understanding of why he is distanced from his family, and I can’t help the urge to want to hold Gideon and see him through it. Seeing Eva with him makes me glad he has someone there for him and understands how it feels to be a victim and to help see him through it all. For those wondering who Dr. Terry is…you will see exactly why the animosity is not lost between them, and the revelation was not what I expected. To say Eva is a snoop and stubborn is an understatement.

Reflected in You is an emotional mess wrapped in a plethora of steam. When Eva was happy, I was happy; and when she was hurting, I was too. I couldn’t quite wrap my head around Gideon and his actions, but I’m sure that was Day’s goal all along. A lot of what he does is not explained until near the end, and I still can’t understand or accept why Eva put up with it as much as she did. We have Gideon becoming more possessive, as if he is a stalker; and his constant need to “watch” her had me troubled for both of them. He keeps secret after secret, and all he can say to Eva is “trust me.” I questioned Gideon and his need to keep secrets hidden with his intentions, and I found myself struggling to trust him. Eva is left out in the cold to flounder, and all I could ask myself was how can you trust someone who can’t bring himself to tell you what is going on? When Eva would tell him to fuck off, I was cheering her on and felt the need to tell him that too.

I admit I’ve reread Reflected three times. At first I thought I missed a few key items; but by the second read, I realized that Day just didn’t elaborate on the things I wanted to know more about. I hope she touches on them in book three because I’m already left hanging as it is now. The ending isn’t a heart-stopping cliffhanger, but nevertheless, a bit shocking and left me unsettled. I’m not quite sure what it was but something just didn’t sit right, and I am interested to see the public’s reaction to it. You will know what I’m talking about after you read it, and I hope you share your feelings with me here because I really want to talk about this ending!

Some reviewers really like Reflected and feel it’s more polished. I, however, feel that Bared to You is more polished and fleshed out; and at times Reflected felt rushed in some areas. That being said I still enjoyed it, and I am looking forward to how this series concludes and to see how Day brings all of these elements together in the end. I will be sad when it’s over, but at least I have Gideon; and when things get a bit too crazy with him, I just can say to him, “Crossfire.”

Book Review: M. Leighton’s Down To You

16001893Title: Down To You
Author: M. Leighton
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Yes / Book 1
Rating: 3 out 5
My Copy: Review Copy via Author

It’s difficult for any author to write a love triangle because each reader is different and we get divided up into teams. Afterwards we have our own idea regarding who the heroine should have picked (especially if she picks the wrong one). I admit I was a bit worried about how this would turn out. The reason? From the premise, Olivia Townsend, is attracted to brothers. Normally this isn’t a problem as we’ve seen it played out before because one brother turns out to be the villain and makes it easy for her to figure out which one she wants, but the problem here lies with twin brothers. Twin identical brothers: Cash & Nash Davenport. If you’re saying to yourself, “Cash & Nash?” no worries-Olivia thought the same thing.

On the one hand we have Cash. He’s oozes sexuality and Olivia is attracted to him on sight, however; he’s not what Olivia wants. She immediately puts him in the bad boy category and she’s done with that type. Then we have Nash and he’s everything Olivia wants in man. He’s intelligent, hard working, financially stable and not to mention responsible. It should be a pretty easy choice right? Wrong! While Nash has it all he’s also in a relationship. Since we know Nash is taken then her choice should be Cash right? Leighton doesn’t let us off that easy and throws us a curve ball weren’t expecting.

Leighton writes an intriguing tale that will have you grinning ear to ear and maybe tossing and turning as you attempt to sleep. Olivia first meets Cash at a bachelorette party for her good friend Ginger. A little misunderstanding ensues and let me just say Olivia gets up close and personal with Cash. When the misunderstanding is cleared up she’s immediately embarrassed, but moves on. The next day she meets Nash and finds out he’s dating her cousin Marissa. Upon seeing Nash in Marissa’s kitchen (Olivia is roommates with her) she’s immediately outraged. How can this man be here in her kitchen pretending he doesn’t know who she is and what about Marissa? Her confusion is immediately cleared up when Nash explains he has a twin brother named Cash.

Needless to say Olivia spends time with both brothers and her attraction to both of them grows. While she tries to figure out why she turns to jelly around them, both brothers are hiding a secret. One evening, Olivia accompanies Nash to a work function in Marissa’s stead. He tells her about his family, but Nash doesn’t go into details and she doesn’t press him for information. Later Cash explains the predicament his family is in. Olivia doesn’t know what to do with this information and is angry at Cash for telling her something that could potentially hurt her and her family. Despite knowing this information, she still can’t quite decide which brother she wants and when her friend Ginger suggests she test drive both of them to pick the one she wants, Olivia scoffs at the idea. It’s Cash who wants her and will do anything to have her. The question is will Nash take a back seat and let Cash have what he wants too?

Leighton utilizes first person point of view (POV) and unlike some authors who only write using one POV, she gives us not only Olivia’s, but Cash and Nash’s as well. Sometimes this can backfire on an author because it disrupts the flow of the story, however; in this case no disruption whatsoever. She also identifies which POV you are reading so you aren’t confused. Again this does not disrupt the flow of the story. Leighton’s curve ball towards the end might surprise some readers. I admit I wasn’t surprised because I had an inkling of how it would end, but I still gasped when I found out the big twist. She leaves us with a cliffhanger that made me throw a book across the room because I hate having to wait. Readers will be left wanting more and I really can’t wait to see how this concludes.

Book Review: Colleen Hoover’s Slammed

13372690Title: Slammed
Author: Colleen Hoover
Genre: YA
Series: Yes / Book 1 of 3
Rating: 4 out 5
My Copy: Purchased

Instead of a traditional review, I present you with the following: my attempt at a poem. Slam poetry plays a major role in Colleen Hoover’s Slammed. Everything touched upon in the poem is what I took from the novel. Please note the bold sections come directly from Lake’s poem, “Schooled,” and it’s the poem she reads Will regarding her feelings. You can read the full blurb here. I absolutely adore this book and I think you will too.

“By a Book”
I got schooled this year
By a book
A book that left me feeling
Love, hope, and sadness
I learned about life
And about death
How we wish we could plan
And prevent
But when he comes knocking
We can’t pretend we’re not home
We’d love to carve pumpkins
And eat basgna all day
But that’s just it
We can deny and deny, but in the end
We all die

I got schooled this year
By a book
A book about a girl
Who meets a boy
A boy who chose the Lake
I learned to go out and be it
When I miss to do my best
I found a band to love
To accept others
And to never judge
I learned to question
To push boundaries
To laugh and to love
And to never regret

I learned this in a book
One I believe you should read
I got schooled this year
By the author Colleen Hoover
By Will and Lake
And by Eddie who in the end quite didn’t give a damn
This book is Slammed.