Saturday, April 18, 2015

STACKING THE SHELVES (74)

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A great feature hosted by Tynga's Reviews where bloggers get to feature the new books they received over the past week.


~BOUGHT~

The Diabolical Miss Hyde (Electric Empire, #1)
The Diabolical Miss Hyde (Electric Empire #1) by Viola Carr (steampunk romance)
An interesting new start to a series with the daughter of Mr. Hyde himself!  I bought it based on this review over at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books.

Kindling the Moon (Arcadia Bell, #1)
Kindling the Moon (Arcadia Bell #1) by Jenn Bennett (urban fantasy)
A renegade magician who spends her time bartending to demons?  I'm sold!

This Crumbling Pageant (The Fury Triad #1)
This Crumbling Pageant (The Fury Triad #1) by Patricia Burroughs (fantasy)
I enjoy fantasy, but don't read nearly enough of it.  So I grabbed this when it went on sale over at Amazon.

A Clean Break (Gay Amish Romance #2) A Way Home (Gay Amish Romance #3)
A Clean Break/A Way Home (Gay Amish Romance #2 and 3) by Keira Andrews (male/male romance)
Yes, this is a male/male Amish romance trilogy...I was hesitant about the premise, but the first book was so well-done and romantic that I have to see what happens to David and Isaac next.

In the Clear (Winter Rescue #1)
In the Clear (Winter Rescue #1) by Tamara Morgan (contemporary romance)
I don't remember where I heard about this book, but I saw it was on sale and had to grab it.

The Shameless Hour (The Ivy Years, #4)
The Shameless Hour (The Ivy Years #4) by Sarina Bowen (NA contemporary)
Love this series and am super excited to see hockey team manager Bella get her story.

~BORROWED FROM THE LIBRARY~

The Royal We
The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan (contemporary romance)
I am a huge fan of the Fug Girls' blog and am intrigued by this prince meets commoner romance.

~RECEIVED FOR REVIEW~

The Lady Hellion (Wicked Deceptions, #3)
The Lady Hellion (Wicked Deceptions #3) by Joanna Shupe (historical romance)
Heroines in disguise are always fun so I'm looking forward to this one.

***********
WEEKLY RECAP

I READ... 
Flat-Out Sexy by Erin McCarthy
Her Highland Fling by Jennifer McQuiston
Billionaire with Benefits by Anne Tenino

I REVIEWED...
I POSTED...

Friday, April 17, 2015

HR 101: Heroines in Historical Romance

 

Historical Romance 101
is a celebration of the genre that will be occurring throughout the month of April.  My blog along with On a Book Bender, Addicted to Romance, and Quinn's Book Nook will be writing on a variety of topics every Monday and Friday in April.  

What I Look For In a Historical Romance Heroine:
  • Intelligent and witty.
  • Determination to better herself in some way.
  • Respect for others.
  • Looking for more than just a successful match.
  • Figures out a way to always get what she wants.
  • She has to be someone I want to be friends with.
My Favorite Heroines:

The Viscount Who Loved Me (Bridgertons, #2)
Kate -- The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn
She is fiercely protective of her family and can give as good as she gets when it comes to Anthony Bridgerton.  She also has to deal with a deep fear of thunderstorms and some insecurities when it comes to her appearance in comparison to her sister.
Before she knew what she was about, she was jumping about like a crazy woman, yelling, “Yes! Yes! I win!”
“You don’t win,” Anthony snapped.
“Oh, it feels like I’ve won,” she reveled.
The Countess Conspiracy (Brothers Sinister, #3)
Violet -- The Countess Conspiracy by Courtney Milan
One of the smartest heroines I've read in a historical.  Violet is obsessed with science and keeps her talents a secret from society by having her best friend, Sebastian, present her work as his own.  She has low self-esteem due to her emotionally abusive late husband.
That's the way things were; people liked Lily, and while they were busy liking her, Violet got things done.  It never bothered Violet. She liked having things to do, and if her sister hadn't been there, they wouldn't have liked Violet any better.  They'd only have ignored her more.
A Gentleman Undone (Blackshear Family, #2)
Lydia -- A Gentleman Undone by Cecilia Grant
A working courtesan who strives for her independence while still enjoying the sensual aspects of her lifestyle that I really admired.  I especially liked watching her use her penchant for math to earn money at the gambling tables.
“I’ve told you what I enjoy. You may believe I know my own tastes.” Her voice was growing thin with agitation. She twitched like a cornered animal. “Don’t dare fancy you’ll be the man to teach me the pleasures of tenderness.” 
Never Love a Highlander (McCabe Trilogy, #3)
Rionna -- Never Love a Highlander by Maya Banks
An unwanted daughter in Medieval Scotland who dresses and acts like a man to show her father she is just as valuable to him as a son.  I loved her intelligence and her ability to adapt to a variety of scenarios.
"Caelen?”
“Aye, lass?”
“You were right.”
“What was I right about?”
“Kissing. ’Tis a most wondrous thing.”
She could sense his smile.
How to Woo a Reluctant Lady (Hellions of Halstead Hall, #3)
Minerva -- How to Woo a Reluctant Lady by Sabrina Jeffries
The sister of a marquess who courts scandal by writing Gothic novels and then putting out an ad for a husband to circumvent her grandmother's stipulations.  Minerva made me laugh so hard with her antics and her determination to maintain her independence.
Then she jerked back with a siren's smile that made his confidence falter. "Well." She tapped her chin. "That was a decent kiss, all things being equal." She pressed her hand to her chest. "My heart is, if not quite racing, then heading into a quick walk. But I need a thermometer to determine if and how high my body heated. I shall just go--"
"Don't you dare." He caught her by the arm as she was on the verge of fleeing. "You know bloody well that you responded to that kiss."
With a suspicious glee in her eyes, she tugged her arm from his grip. "I'm not saying I didn't respond-- just that I didn't respond to any overwhelming degree. But it was a good kiss, I suppose. Better than some, not as good as others."
Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake (Love By Numbers, #1)
Calpurnia -- Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean
A heroine I would love to befriend.  Callie is considered a spinster and, after always following the rules of society, she decides to do some things for herself.  Her ambitious journey is a ton of fun and very inspiring.
“I've spent twenty-eight years doing what everyone around me expected me to do...being what everyone around me has expected me to be. And it's horrid to be someone else's vision of yourself.”
Romancing Mister Bridgerton (Bridgertons, #4)
Penelope -- Romancing Mr. Bridgerton by Julia Quinn
A woman who realistically developed from a shy wallflower to a happy, confident woman.  I know many people can relate to Penelope and her desire to be seen for who she truly is in the eyes of society.
Deep inside, she knew who she was, and that person was smart and kind and often even funny, but somehow her personality always got lost somewhere between her heart and her mouth, and she found herself saying the wrong thing or, more often, nothing at all.
A Summer to Remember (Bedwyn Prequels, #2)
Lauren -- A Summer to Remember by Mary Balogh
A proper young woman who swears off marriage after being abandoned at the altar and coerces one of London's most infamous bachelors to give her a summer she will never forget.
“I am free, you see," she said, "to love or to withhold love. Love and dependence need no longer be the same thing to me. I am free to love. that is why I love you and it is the way I love you. If you have come here, Kit, because you think you owe me something, because you believe I might crumble without your protection, then go away again with my blessing and find happiness with someone else."
Lord of Scoundrels (Scoundrels, #3)
Jessica -- Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase
I knew I would adore Jessica the moment she took out a pistol and shot her future husband in the arm for ruining her reputation.  I usually don't support violence, but the scene was so hilarious and exactly what Dain needed to wake him to how amazing Jessica is.
"Jessica, I know I've been...difficult," he said. "All the same—""Difficult?" She looked up, her grey eyes wide, "You have been impossible. I begin to think you are not right in the upper storey. I knew you wanted me. The only thing I've never doubted was that. But getting you into bed— you, the greatest whoremonger in Christendom— gad, it was worse than the time I had to drag Bertie to the tooth-drawer. And if you think I mean to be doing that the rest of our days, you had better think again. The next time, my lord, you will do the seducing— or there won't be any, I vow.”
Evernight (Darkest London, #5)
Holly -- Evernight by Kristen Callihan
A metal elemental who is very analytical about the world around her.  One of the best parts of her character was the fact that she is considered to be dangerous due to her brain as much as her unique supernatural gifts.
Men were decidedly odd creatures, incapable of acting with cool logic when it came to practical matters. For instance, Holly could not understand why they would tup whomever they pleased with no compunction, but became downright missish when a woman did the same. Honestly, one would think he'd be glad for her. The loss of a woman's virginity had the possibility of being a horrid experience yet she'd accomplished it with a minimum of pain and a maximum of pleasure.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

REVIEW: "Crushed" by Lauren Layne


Crushed (Redemption, #2)
Crushed by Lauren Layne
(Redemption #2)

For Ages 16+ (Language, Sensuality)
New Adult -- Contemporary

Flirt -- Published on April 14, 2015
Ebook, 240 pages
Read in April 2015
Received from Netgalley

SUMMARY
Growing up in New York, Michael St. Claire never expected to spend his twenties wearing cowboy boots. But that was before he learned about his real father, a total stranger with a family in Cedar Grove, Texas. Once in the Lone Star State, Michael meets Kristin Bellamy, who is exquisitely refined and everything Michael always thought he wanted in a woman. The only problem is that Kristin is dating Michael’s new half brother, Devon.

Kristin’s mouthy, curvy sister Chloe has always been in love with Devon Patterson. So when Michael offers to help Chloe break up Devon and Kristin, Chloe agrees to a deal that seems too good to be true. Before long, Chloe finally gets her man, only to make a startling discovery: She no longer wants the guy she had to fight for—she wants the one who stood by her side.

After all he and Chloe have been through, Michael swears he’s damaged goods. Can Chloe convince him that love is worth the risk?


FIRST LINE
"It's been six months since I fled Manhattan for Cedar Grove, Texas."

MY THOUGHTS
I received a free copy of this book from Flirt via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I became a fan of Lauren Layne's NA fiction after devouring Isn't She Lovely over the summer.  She provides a nice balance of drama, romance, and fun that I think is missing from many of the new adult books I've tried over the years.  While Crushed is not as wonderful as the first Layne book I read, it was enjoyable and I ended it with a big smile on my face.

Michael St. Claire has had it rough the past couple of months after falling in love with his best friend's girlfriend, being rejected by her once she was single, and then finding out that he is the result of his mother's affair with a Texas businessman.  Uncertain what to do next with his life, he decides to move to Texas to find his real father.  While working at a country club, Michael meets the sexy and unavailable Kristin and her younger, less obvious sister, Chloe.  Kristin is his initial pursuit, but he quickly starts to notice that Chloe's witty and genuine nature is outshining her sister's beauty though that is also complicated since Chloe has had a crush on her sister's boyfriend forever.  Confused, yet? :)

I wasn't a big fan of Michael's when he appeared in Isn't She Lovely, but the rejection he faced in Broken had me excited for his story.  He starts off this series a spoiled, rich guy though a heart of gold tends to shine through at times.  By the time this book comes along, Michael has matured and wants to experience a relationship that is more than just sex though he's not sure how to start one.  he is a character that has developed a lot over the course of this series and it was wonderful to see him finally find happiness.

Chloe was the true highlight of the book for me.  I loved the way that Layne portrayed her personality and the differences between how she acted around her hometown and her friends at college.  She is a sassy, hilarious person, but often feels overshadowed by her sister's charm and manipulative tendencies.  It was great to see her evolve into a confident woman thanks (mostly) to her own efforts.  I did get a little bored with her constant desire to hook up with Devon since it is clear that he only ever saw her as a friend, but that is a minor issue.

Michael and Chloe were adorably hilarious as a couple.  They spend time together with Michael acting as Chloe's personal trainer when she decides it is time for her to start living a healthier life and really bond.  Their chemistry is obvious from the beginning and it was fun to see them both fight it.  Thankfully, readers did not have to wait forever for them to act on their attraction though it was some time until a relationship started to form.

I recommend Crushed for fans of NA romance especially if you like a little snark with your drama.  Fans of the Redemption series as a whole will enjoy the scenes at the end where Stephanie, Ethan, Olivia, and Paul meet up with Michael and Chloe to bring the series back around.


4 STARS

BOOKS IN THE SERIES

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

2015 TBR CHALLENGE REVIEW: "Flat-Out Sexy" by Erin McCarthy

Flat-Out Sexy (Fast Track, #1)
Flat-Out Sexy by Erin McCarthy
(Fast Track #1)

For Ages 18+ (Language, Sensuality)
Contemporary Romance

Berkley -- Published in 2008
Paperback, 291 pages
Read in April 2015
Received from Paperback Swap

THEMES/TROPES
Sports, Younger Man/Older Woman, Beta Hero

SUMMARY
Independent single mother Tamara Briggs wanted to find a new, sexy, no-strings-attached man--just not one as young as NASCAR driver Elec Monroe. But he sure does get her heart racing. And after she’s tricked into a blind date with him, Tamara gives in to her passion. Things screech to a halt, though, when he asks to meet her children. Whatever happened to wham-bam-thank-you ma’am? Suddenly Tamara has to decide how much risk she’s willing to take to experience the power of true love.

FIRST LINE
"I've met teenage girls with more testosterone than that man has."

MY THOUGHTS
Read for the 2015 TBR Challenge--April--Contemporary.  The challenge is hosted by Wendy the Super Librarian.  

Why I Chose It For My TBR Challenge Read: I got Flat-Out Sexy through Paperback Swap in May of 2012.  I requested it because of my interest in sports-themed romance and because I had seen the Fast Track series praised on other blogs.  Then other books got in the way and this book was unceremoniously shoved to the back of the TBR shelf.  So I decided to pull it from the depths and give it a try for this month's challenge.

Flat-Out Sexy is the first book in the Fast Track series and tells the story of a single mother who is getting back in the dating scene after her husband's tragic death in a race car accident.  Tamara Briggs is an independent and intelligent woman who is thrown for a loop when she meets rookie Elec Monroe at a party.  She decides to just embrace her fling with the twenty-five year old driver, but things quickly serious and she is forced to figure out whether to chance a new relationship with someone so young and in a dangerous profession.

I really liked Tamara and Elec.  They are very likable people who are equally befuddled by their strong feelings for one another.  Tamara is used to the NASCAR scene so Elec's fame doesn't faze her and he appreciates her mature outlook on life.  For her part, Tamara is understandably hesitant to get into a relationship with Elec, but is attracted to his generosity and his single-minded pursuit of her affections though it never goes into stalking territory.  I love it when characters are so well-matched and spend time together...other than in the bedroom though that happens alot in this book.

With this being the first in a series, readers are also introduced to other characters who are mostly associated with NASCAR.  My particular favorites were Imogen (Tamara's shy graduate assistant who develops a crush on Elec's teammate), Eve (Elec's sister and PR rep), and especially Suzanne and Ryder (former couple who have clearly not gotten over each other yet).  I thought Erin McCarthy did a good job introducing everyone without ever taking the spotlight off  Elec and Tamara.  It was also fun to read about Tamara's kids who were adorable without being precocious and scene-stealing.

If I had to pick one issue, I would say it would be some of the subplots which were left hanging.  In particular, I am thinking of the one "pit lizard" (not a fan of that moniker, but that is how she is described in the book) Crystal who is obsessed with Elec and is determined to get him into her bed.  I understood that she was representative of the types of women that Elec was surrounded by before meeting the love of his life, but I thought her involvement in the book was uninspired.  She would pop in and out at random times and then, when something big happened on the Crystal front, nothing was resolved on the page.  There also was some minor discussion of a feud between the Briggs and Monroe racing families, but that seemed to peter out quickly.

All in all, I did find Flat-Out Sexy to be easy to get into and enjoyable.  I was rooting hard for Elec and Tamara to reveal their feelings and it was a wonderful journey to that moment.  I am sad that I left this book live on my TBR shelf for so long, but I'll definitely be checking out more in the Fast Track series in the future.



4 STARS


BOOKS IN THE SERIES
1. Flat-Out Sexy
2. Hard and Fast
3. Hot Finish
4. The Chase
4.5. Take Me Home
5. Slow Ride
6. Jacked Up
7. Full Throttle
8. Final Lap 

OTHER REVIEWS
All About Romance (B+)
Dear Author (B+)
AudioGals (B)

LEARN MORE
Goodreads -- LibraryThing -- BookLikes -- Shelfari
Author Website -- Publisher Website -- WorldCat

WHERE TO BUY
Amazon -- Barnes & Noble -- Book Depository -- Kobo -- Google Play -- Audible

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Inspiring Quotes From Books


Hosted by the ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish.

1. "Don't think or judge, just listen." -- Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

2. "Many times in life I've regretted the things I've said without thinking. But I've never regretted the things I said nearly as much as the words I left unspoken." -- Sugar Daddy by Lisa Kleypas

3. "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it." -- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

4. “If you want to know what a man's like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.” -- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling

5. “Time has no dominion over love. Love is the one thing that transcends time.” -- One Foot in the Grave by Jeaniene Frost

6. “Nobody looks good in their darkest hours. But it's those hours that make us what we are.” -- Faefever by Karen Marie Moning

7. “I don't believe in fashion. I believe in costume. Life is too short to be same person every day.” -- Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

8. “Power isn’t control at all — power is strength, and giving that strength to others. A leader isn’t someone who forces others to make him stronger; a leader is someone willing to give his strength to others that they may have the strength to stand on their own.” -- Across the Universe by Beth Revis

9. “Because without our language, we have lost ourselves. Who are we without our words?” -- Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta

10. “No one is innocent in the tide of history. Everyone has kings and slaves in his past. Everyone has saints and sinners. We are not to blame for the actions of our ancestors. We can only try to be the best we can, no matter what our heritage, to strive for a better future for all.” -- Across a Star Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund