Friday, February 17, 2017

Audio Review ~ Until Harry ~ L.A. Casey

Until HarryUntil Harry by L.A. Casey
Narrated byHeather Wilds
Release Date: July 19, 2016 (audio)
Genre: Adult, Contemporary Romance
Source: Purchased on Audible
Rating: 4.5 Bookworms
Challenges: Audio Challenge, #ShelfLove

Coming home is hard for Lane. Hard because her beloved uncle Harry has died suddenly, but also because of him. Kale.

Kale Hunt has been her best friend since childhood. But it was never that simple. He was Lane's reason for leaving home and moving to New York. Seeing him with someone else, in love with someone else, shouldn't have hurt. But it did. It really, really did. So she upped sticks and left, started a new life and cut herself off from her past.

But now she's back and all the feelings are right there. As if she had never left.

Emotions are running high, and tragedy has a funny way of bringing people together. But is Lane reading the signs right? Are they still just friends, or is there something more?

*Tissue Warning* I'm giving y'all fair warning. This story requires copious amounts of tissues...almost from the very beginning. It's an emotional roller coaster but it's an incredible one - well worth the tears and tissues.

Lane Edwards is home for the funeral of her beloved uncle, Harry. She's been away from home, in York, living in New York, for six years. She left after her best friend died and her other best friend became entangled in a serious relationship. Her decision to leave was met with dissention from her family causing a rift. Her uncle Harry, being the sneaky and cheeky man he was, brought Lane home and made her face her past - all posthumously.

This story is told both in the present and the past - and the format worked brilliantly. We were able to get to see Lane and Kale grow up together, see where and how they feelings between them developed, see where it all fell apart. We get to see the tight family dynamics between Lane, her parents and brothers, Nanny, and of course, uncle Harry. And in the present, we see Lane have a chance at mending fences with her family as well as with Kale. There's also the chance at more.

Lane and Kale both suffered a lot while Lane was away so there's more than their shared past to overcome. They both broke my heart, experiencing all their heartaches along with the. But I also got to be along as they put everything back together. And it was heartwarming.

I think I've made this story sound all sad. It's not all sad. It's poignant and very well rendered. And just so compelling. Heather Wilds narrates and she did a spectacular job! From the pacing to her accents, she made the story that much more compelling.

This was my first read from L.A. Casey. Needless to say, she made an impression. I'm eager for more. 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

That's What HE Said #74 ~ Thirsty Thursday & Hungry Hearts #59 ~ Bounty by Kristen Ashley

That's What He Said is a weekly meme hosted by the lovely ladies @Chapter Break. Here's the deal: every Thursday, post a line from your book boyfriend to his heroine. Keep in mind, these are direct quotes from dialog in the books. The quote doesn't have to be romantic - just something our hunky hero said to his lucky lady. Be sure to link up over at Chapter Break as well.

My pick this week for That's What He Said is from:

Bounty by Kristen Ashley


"I got a lotta friends I watched go down for the count and stay down because they like the feel of bein' stuck. And what I mean when I say that is they went down to the women they decided to spend their lives with. Watched that, dug that for them, straight up wanted it for myself. But I know the man I am and knew what that would take for it to happen to me. And never, not once, Justice, did I ever find one I even considered havin' this conversation with so the shit I'm tellin' you, baby, you gotta know up front not to take it lightly. And I'll share what I mean by sayin' that I don't want a future with you. Where I'm at right now, after seein' those cruisers at your house, is that I can't imagine a future without you."


This particular quote resonated big with me because my Hubs used to make fried bologna sandwiches for me when we were in college. :D

It was dinnertime and I was sitting cross-legged on his couch, watching him in his tiny kitchen frying bologna and making toast.
Frying bologna and making toast.
The girls had brought huge amounts of food. So much of it, some of it was taking up what little counter space Deke had. They hadn't prepared us for a few nights hanging at Deke's trailer. They'd prepared us for a three-month-long seige.
And he was making me fried bologna on toast, the American cheese slices out and at the ready.
Just like I'd told him I liked it.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Review ~ Beauty from Pain ~ Georgia Cates #COYER #ShelfLove

Beauty From Pain (Beauty, #1)Beauty from Pain by Georgia Cates
Beauty Series #1
Release Date: January 4, 2014
Genre: Adult, Contemporary Romance
Source: Purchased on kindle
Rating: 4.5 Bookworms
Challenges: #COYER, #ShelfLove
Goodreads ~ Amazon

They agreed on three months...but their love knew no boundaries.

Jack McLachlan is a winemaking magnate and easily one of Australia's most eligible bachelors. His success and wealth make him no stranger to the complications of romantic relationships and that's why he goes to extreme measures to avoid the hassle. He prefers simplicity in the form of a beautiful female companion with no strings attached. He arranges relationships like business deals and they're always the same. No long term relationships. No real names.

It's his game and his rules. He's content to play as usual, but when Laurelyn Prescott enters his life, his strategy must change because this player is like none he's ever encountered. His world is turned on its head after he begins a three month affair with the beautiful American musician. Nothing goes according to plan and as he breaks more and more of his own rules for her, she's exceptionally close to becoming something he never thought possible. His ultimate game changer.

Omigosh! I cannot believe I've had this for so long and hadn't read it! Cates sucked me into this story immediately and I flew through it. So good!

Laurelyn has escaped to Australia with her best friend for a 3-month long getaway. She's running from a situation and taking time to make some big decisions regarding her future. Jack/Lachlan is a man who doesn't do relationships and his reasons are logical. He enters into agreements with his companions - no names (real anyway), no strings, just 3-4 weeks of fun and then they walk away. However, he's in Wagga Wagga for an extended time and he's decided to have a longer arrangement. Laurelyn, luckily, ticks all his boxes and will only be in the country for 3 months.

Obviously these two had chemistry - and it was palpable. They were fun together - Laurelyn challenged and teased Jack and he didn't know what to do with that. Laurelyn also felt the freedom to really be herself - even offering admissions she'd never shared with anyone - because there was an expiration date on their relationship. Neither of them expected to fall.

Watching as these two got acquainted and as the feelings developed was a pleasure. Laurelyn is feisty and even though there were boundaries set for their time together, she wasn't afraid to push Jack when it was important to her. Jack, although he wouldn't admit it, was smitten and almost immediately started breaking his own rules for her. He liked that she wanted time with him over anything he could buy for her.

There are some things in their pasts that are causing problems. I like the element of suspense these are providing. And there's the issue caused when Laurelyn goes home.

The next book in this series will be the first book I buy this year. But I *have* to know! Fortunately I have a few gift cards. :) This was my first read by Cates and her writing is fluid, the story well-crafted, and her characters well-defined. I can't wait to read more!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Review ~ Kaleidoscope ~ Kristen Ashley

Kaleidoscope (Colorado Mountain, #6)Kaleidoscope by Kristen Ashley
Colorado Mountain Series #6
Release Date: February 4, 2014
Genre: Adult, Contemporary Romance
Source: Purchased paperback
Rating: 5 Bookworms
Challenges: #ShelfLove
Goodreads ~ Amazon

When old friend become new lovers...anything can happen.

Sexy, gifted, and loyal, PI Jacob Decker is a tall, cool drink of perfection who had Emmanuelle Holmes at "hello." His relationship with Emme's best friend kept them apart for years, but things have changed. Now that a case has brought him to Gnaw Bone, Colorado, the road is wide open for Emme and Deck to explore something hotter and deeper than Emme dreamed possible. So why is she sabotaging the best thing that's ever happened to her?

It isn't easy to catch Deck off guard, but Emme does just that when she walks back into this life after nine long years. The curvy brunette had her charms back in the day, but now she's a bona fide knockout...and she wants to rekindle their friendship. Deck, however, wants more. Emme's always been the one; she excited Decks' body and mind like no other woman can. But a dark chapter from Emme's past overshadows their future together. Now only Deck can help her turn the page-if she'll let him...

KA knows how to spin a yarn...a beautiful yarn. She hasn't let me down yet and she certainly didn't with Emme and Jacob's (Deck's) story.

It's been nine years since Emme and Jacob have seen one another so it's shocking to them both when they run into each other on the street in Gnaw Bone. Emme and Jacob were the best of friends back when Jacob was dating Emme's best friend. When they broke up, Emme broke up with them both, saying goodbye to Jacob. Now that they know they're essentially neighbors, neither waste any time in reconnecting. And in doing so, they realize how much they meant to one another. Plus, they have sparking chemistry. They just need to get past some from Emme's past - and present.

Kaleidoscope returned the series back to a romantic suspense - even if it is romantic suspense-lite. And although I didn't miss it in Jagged, I delighted in having the suspense element back. Jacob's profession involves seeking out the bad guys and seeing as Emme is somewhat connected to his current case, he's determined to solve the case and protect Emme. But the story primarily revolves around Emme and Jacob rekindling what was once between them. There are some pretty big obstacles in their way, but it's worth the fight.

Both these characters will have you rooting for them. Emme is sweet, loyal, smart - but a bit damaged because of something in her childhood. Jacob is an alpha male but one who's bossy without overkill. He's loyal, brilliant (literally, he's a genius) and he knows now what he couldn't see back them - Emme's the one.

Kaleidoscope gave me everything I expect from KA. Complex characters - even getting time with favorite characters from previous books - a stunning setting, a romance to melt my heart and others things *wink*, and in this case, a touch of suspense. It all combines for a book hangover - one I'll always sign on for!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

My TBR List ~ February ~ And the Winner is...


My To-Be Read List is a meme hosted by Michelle @Because Reading. I think it's a fabulous idea because it gets y'all in the game and it helps me knock off some of the many, many books on my TBR list. You're more than welcome to join in the fun! I've included the basic rules below but you can click on the graphic above to hop over to Michelle's site where you can find all the details. 

Here's how it works:
On the first Saturday of each month, I will make a post with three books from my TBR List (these books can be already on your ereader or bookshelf OR books you might want to purchase) and add your link on the linky that will be provided on Michelle's post. Y'ALL will help me choose which book I will read next. The following Saturday, I will announce which book won. Then the last Saturday of the month, I'll post my review.

Fun, right?!?


This month's winner, again by a fairly large margin, is..

Charade (Games, #1)
Games #1
(I started this series out of order with #2)

Nineteen-year-old Cheyenne tries to portray the perfect life to mask the memories of her past. Walking in on her boyfriend with another woman her freshman year in college threatens that picture of perfection.

Twenty-one-year-old Colt never wanted college and never expected to amount to anything, but when his mom's dying wish is for him to get his degree, he has no choice but to pretend it's what he wants too.

Cheyenne needs a fake boyfriend to get back at her ex and Colt needs cash to take care of his mom, so they strike a deal that helps them both. But what if Cheyenne's past isn't what she thought? Soon they're trading one charade for another--losing themselves in each other to forget about their pain. The more they play their game, the more it becomes the only thing they have that feels real.

Both Cheyenne and Colt know life is never easy, but neither of them expect the tragedy that threatens to end their charade and rip them apart forever.

Thanks for voting and check back on February 25th for my review!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Blog Tour Review & Giveaway ~ Fire Balls ~ Tara Lain (@taralain, @VivianaIzzo, @dreamspinners)

Fire Balls by Tara Lain
Balls to the Wall #2
Release Date: February 8, 2017
Genre: Adult, M/M Contemporary Romance
Source: I received a complimentary copy as part of the blog tour. I voluntarily reviewed it.
Rating: 3.5 Bookworms
Challenges: #2017NewRelease
Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ B&N 

Renowned artist Rodney Mansfield stands five foot six, has pink hair, six earrings, a black belt in karate—and a desperate yearning for firefighter Hunter Fallon. But Rod, the Runtback of Notre Dame, knows he’ll never land the beautiful “straight gay” guy, so Rod musters his altruism and helps his more masculine friend Jerry attract Hunter. As if a broken heart wasn’t enough, Rod saves Hunter from a firehouse homophobe—humiliating Hunter in front of his dad!

Hunter lives a dream life—his father’s dream. While he’d like to teach literature in college, read poetry in the sun, and find a strong guy to top him, he fights fires for his dad. Hunter hates flamboyant guys like Rodney. So why can’t he resist him? Maybe it’s time to admit this is one flame he has no desire to put out.

Fire Balls was another quick and sweet read in this series!

Having met Rodney in Volley Balls, I was eager for this talented artist and matchmaker to find his own match. And the match Rod has his eye on is one hot firefighter. Unfortunately, Rod's friend, Jerry, having no inkling of Rod's crush, sets his eyes on Hunter as well. Rod, being the selfless man he is, hands Hunter to Jerry on a platter, even coaching Jerry on dating conversation. Besides, Rod is a small, "all-fairy" sort of gay man who Hunter wouldn't never have any interest in. Right?

I quite enjoyed Fire Balls. We got to spend some quality time with both Rod and Hunter and I liked getting to know them. Rod really is talented and selfless. He also has some self-esteem issues with his physical appearance. Hunter is also smart and selfless - living his life for his dad's ideals rather than his own. These two together were a match - especially intellectually.

I did wish, however, that I'd gotten to spend more time with them as a couple. Although I feel like I got to know them individually, as a couple things happened pretty quickly and the "L" word is bandied about early on - too quickly, in my opinion. If there'd been more time spent watching their feelings bloom, the relationship would have more depth for me.

Fire Balls was a fun read though despite my issue with the fast pace of the relationship development. I thoroughly delighted in Rod and Hunter finding their match in each other. And I'm excited to meet the next couple in this series.

a Rafflecopter giveaway;

Tara Lain writes the Beautiful Boys of Romance in LGBT erotic romance novels that star her unique, charismatic heroes. Her first novel was published in January of 2011 and she’s now somewhere around book 23. Her best­selling novels have garnered awards for Best Series, Best Contemporary Romance, Best Ménage, Best LGBT Romance, Best Gay Characters, and Tara has been named Best Writer of the Year in the LRC Awards. In her other job, Tara owns an advertising and public relations firm. She often does workshops on both author promotion and writing craft. She lives with her soul­mate husband and her soul­mate dog in Laguna Beach, California, a pretty seaside town where she sets a lot of her books. Passionate about diversity, justice, and new experiences, Tara says on her tombstone it will say “Yes”

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Thirsty Thursday & Hungry Hearts #58

My pick this week is from:

Beauty from Pain by Georgia Cates

I escort her toward the back of the restaurant to our table. I pull out her chair and slide it under her when she sits. "Are you hungry?"
She smiles and I find myself wanting to know all the secrets she hides behind it. "Very. I'm not one of those girls who's scared to eat in front of a date. I hope you don't mind that."
"Not at all."
She's quiet as she reads the wine list and our server arrives to take our drink order. "I'll have a Sauvignon Blanc."
She lifts her eyes from the list. "I have no idea how to order wine. I'll have what you're having."
"Two Sauvignon Blancs."

She holds the menu in front of her and I can't see her face. She's studying it like there could be an exam later. "I don't know what I want. Everything looks good."
"My business associate recommended anything seafood."
A moment later she places her menu on the table. "Seafood sounds good. I'll have the stuffed prawns."

It must be said that I don't do seafood but the Sauvignon Blanc sounds good. :D

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Release Day Review ~ With Ties That Bind #3 ~ Trisha Wolfe

With Ties that Bind: A Broken Bonds Novel, Book ThreeWith Ties That Bind by Trisha Wolfe
With Ties That Bind: Broken Bonds #3
Release Date: February 7, 2017
Genre: Adult, Dark Romantic Suspense
Source: I received an eARC from the author. I voluntarily provided a review.
Rating: 4.5 Bookworms
Challenges: #2017NewRelease
Goodreads ~ Amazon

Third novel in the With Ties That Bind trilogy. Final novel in the Broken Bonds series.

To protect the woman he loves, Detective Ethan Quinn defied the law he's defended and upheld his entire career. He turned his back on his honor and ethics with only one objective in mind: protect Avery at all cost. Now he's tangled in a web of deceit and corruption, no better than the killer he's hunting.

As Quinn navigates a treacherous maze, he senses a rat amid his department. He suspects the perpetrator is hiding in plain sight, using their shield within the law to disguise them.

Who is the real Alpha?

Having been framed for murders and crimes they didn't commit, a suspect is under investigation by not only the ACPD, but the FBI, and lead medical examiner Avery Johnson feels pressure from all sides as she guards the secrets within her lab. Quinn went to great lengths to save her, to protect her...and now it's her turn to be the hero for the man she loves.

A showdown is looming, the Alpha is ready to strike. No one is safe as the clock ticks down to the final moments that will test every member of the task force, leaving only one side left standing.

TWolfe has really found her stride with this dark and twisty series. Hmm, what does that say about her? *wink* I've been anxiously awaiting this final installment - to have all my questions answered, to see how it all shakes out and who is left standing. TWolfe did not disappoint. Watching as Quinn tries to protect Avery, as Avery tries to protect Quinn and Sadie, seeing pieces fall into place - it was so exciting I was flipping through the pages as fast as I could. I even stuttered over a familiar name - my own - having forgotten I was making a cameo. And the reveal - damn, TWolfe. You are good! I'd like to say I had it figured out but I'd be lying.

My favorite elements in this installment and the series overall:
  • Avery's strength and resilience. I loved seeing her embody the survivor she is and take a stand - fight back!
  • Quinn realizing who he really is and what he's capable of. I didn't feel his actions ever compromised his integrity even though he did. I felt his actions proved something most of us will never know about ourselves - what we're willing to do to protect the one we love.
  • The profiling/serial killer element. Whatever is says about me, I find it fascinating and TWolfe gave us insight not only into a serial killer but also into those who hunt them.
  • The introspection the series sparked - what would I do? How far would I go? What is my breaking point - the line I'd be leery of crossing for fear of becoming a monster? Do we all have a little darkness in us?
This entire series has been riveting. If you like dark romantic suspense with a side of mind f#ck, this series is for you. PSA: With Visions of Red, the book that started it all and where you'll need to begin the journey, is FREE. Just click the title. You're welcome.