Monday, May 9, 2016

MINI-REVIEWS: Contemporary Romance

Leveling the Field (Gamers #4)
Leveling the Field (Gamers #3) by Megan Erickson
Contemporary Romance
Entangled -- May 2, 2016

RATING: 3.5 STARS
Reclusive magazine exec Ethan Talley is furious when his business partner hires a photographer—a gorgeous photographer who insists on speaking her mind, damn it—to take pictures for an upcoming article. No matter how badly he wants the woman…under him, over him, against the nearest wall…he has reasons for not wanting to be on camera anymore, and his scars are only one of them.
It takes approximately two seconds for Lissa Kingsman to recognize Ethan as the popular YouTube gamer who fell off the planet years ago. But this Ethan is different than the charming man she used to watch, and the crush she had on him then is nothing compared to the way she’s lusting after the brooding man he is today. If sex is all he can give her, fine. Why not use that bearskin rug in her studio for something other than a prop? But she’s determined to put a chink in his armor, no matter how much he resists.
I received an eARC of this book from Entangled via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I thought this was a cute and easy read.  The Big Secret that the hero is dealing with is actually traumatic and I understood why he reacted the way that he did.  I thought his journey to getting out of the shadows was handled well, if not a little quick for my taste.  The heroine was super likable and I enjoyed all the scenes showing her at work.  I also liked the emphasis on family for both protagonists.  I did find myself wishing there were more pages to help the romance really develop.  It moved quickly from antagonistic to lust to love and I'm not sure I bought the happy ending.  I did like this enough to want to try the other books in the series.

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Out of Frame (In Focus #3)
Out of Frame (In Focus #3) by Megan Erickson
Contemporary Romance -- M/M
InterMix -- March 15, 2016

RATING: 4 STARS
Perpetually shy, Quinn Mathers is content to remain in the shadow of his brash best friend Jess Hartman. But before their college graduation, he and Jess have planned one last hurrah: a spring break Caribbean cruise.

And it won’t be just any cruise. On board are members of the reality show Trip League, which follows young twenty-somethings on adventures around the world. Since the show’s beginning, Quinn has been fascinated by J. R. Butler, with his amazing body, warm eyes, and killer grin. Unfortunately, he’s straight—or so the world thinks.

At nineteen, J. R. signed a contract to play straight for the show, and there’s no way to get out of it now. Yet with each passing day, Quinn and J. R. find it harder to keep their hands off each other and to keep out of the camera’s frame. But when the lens finally focuses on them, J. R. must decide if he’s willing to risk his career by admitting his bisexuality, and Quinn must determine if he's bold enough to stand in the spotlight with the man of his dreams...
I thought this book was much lighter, but no less entertaining than the others in the series.  The cruise ship element was interesting and helped me believe in the quickness of the love story.  Quinn was adorable and I liked how this book showed him growing as a person to really look beyond his college years into what he wanted to do with his life.  J.R.'s situation was tough to read about because I felt so bad for him.  He is someone who wants to do everything he can for the people he loves, but often ends up losing himself in the process.  As a couple, Quinn and J.R. were easy to root for and I enjoyed the way that they actually talked about things rather than just constantly making out.  The social commentary regarding reality television was also interesting.

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Turning It On (Red Hot Russians, #2)
Turning It On (Red Hot Russians #2) by Elizabeth Harmon
Contemporary Romance
Carina Press -- June 29, 2015

RATING: 2.5 STARS
Book editor Hannah Levinson couldn’t be happier. This “Nice Jewish Girl” is ready to marry the man she’s longed after for half her life. When her fiancĂ© suggests they audition for Last Fling, a steamy new reality show for engaged couples, she lets herself be swayed. Maybe she’ll learn a thing or two.
Vlad Shustov’s fall from a once-bright career as a competitive figure skater was swift. Now trapped by a shameful past and an uncertain future, “Vlad the Bad” strips for cash. Joining the cast of Last Fling could earn him a fortune—or at least enough to finally leave stripping. But to win the show’s prize, he must seduce an engaged woman, something he can't even bear the thought of.
Hannah's not like any woman Vlad's met before. Betrayed by the man she thought she loved and relegated to the ugly-duckling role she’d worked so hard to shed, can she trust there’s more to Vlad than meets the eye? With sleazy TV tactics shattering the last shreds of the contestants' confidence, they'll have to believe true happiness is not only possible...it may be looking right at them.
I wanted to like this book especially after enjoying the first book in the series, Pairing Off.  The good news was that both characters were decent and I liked them, but the bad news was they were the only nice people in the book.  I think I get what the author was trying to do with this book, but I spent so much time rolling my eyes and shaking my head in disgust at the various antics of the other characters that I couldn't really enjoy the romance. The reality show aspect was intriguing and acted as a good backdrop for drama.  I just felt like Vlad and Hannah's story was shafted by all the external drama which I couldn't make myself care about.  I do still plan on reading the next book in the series because I know the focus shifts back to figure skating.


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Come What May (All Saints, #1)
Come What May (All Saints #1) by A.M. Arthur
Contemporary Romance -- M/M
Carina Press -- May 23, 2016

RATING: 4 STARS
Jonas needs Tate. He just doesn't know it yet.
Or at least, he doesn't want to admit it. Because there is no way Jonas Ashcroft is gay. He's a straight, carefree frat boy player, just like any good son of a conservative state senator. If only his struggle to convince everyone—especially himself—didn't leave him so miserable. No matter how many girls or bottles he drowns himself in, Jonas can neither escape nor accept who he is.
Enter Tate. He's smart, confident, and instantly sees right through Jonas's surly exterior. Sure, he's done things in life he's not proud of, but he knows who he is and what he wants. And what he wants is Jonas. As their easy friendship intensifies into something more, Tate introduces Jonas to a life he's never known. One filled with acceptance and sex and a love that terrifies and excites them both.
But some inner demons refuse to be shaken off so easily. When Jonas's old life barges in, he faces a shattering choice, one that could destroy everything he and Tate have fought so hard for. Sometimes love just isn't enough—and sometimes it's exactly what you need.
I received an eARC of this book from Carina Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
 
I found this book to be emotional and sweet which is exactly what I have come to expect from A.M. Arthur.  I loved the way that both characters were depicted and given journeys to go on. Jonas was the most surprising to me and I ended up really adoring him.  I felt for him as he tried to deal with his coming out and his family's expectations.  Tate was a great partner while also having his own issues to deal with.  I appreciated that there wasn't a Big Misunderstanding to keep them apart.  I continue to enjoy the family/home theme that the author creates with these books.  And yeah for fun cameos of other A.M. Arthur-verse couples in Wilmington.  Can't wait for the next book in the series!

1 comment:

  1. So many contemporary romances, Jennifer! That's not like you. :)

    I've only read one Megan Erickson book, and while I enjoyed it, it wasn't love either. But so many people love her books. I should look into her books more. It's so weird, though, when I read a book and the guy is named Quinn. I have to reminded myself who Quinn is!

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