Review: Freeing the Beast by Tina Donahue

Freeing the Beast (Taming the Beast #1)
by Tina Donahue

No more Mr. Nice Guy.

Magic is Becca Salt’s business, but it ain’t happening in her bedroom. The half-witch proprietress of From Crud to Stud performs miracle makeovers for paranormal creatures. Once she’s done with them, they’re out the door hunting for hot babes, not hanging around for a too-curvy, plain Jane like her.

Her newest client is hot, hung, mouthwatering perfection. What could she possibly improve upon?

Eric Diletto. Descendant of Cupid, bred for courtship, courtesy, and all that other gentlemanly junk. What has it gotten him? Dumped time and again for bad boys. He needs Becca’s help for an entirely different reason—regression therapy to release his inner beast. Grrrr.

Two potions later, they’re crawling all over each other. Becca aches for a man who loves her as she is, not because he’s under the influence. But Eric isn’t as impaired as she thinks. And he intends to take Becca here, there, and everywhere—anything to convince her his desire isn’t just the potions talking.

Warning: A witchdoctor’s nightmare. Contains potions with weird side effects, a sorceress with limited magical skills and a yearning heart, plus a minor god who wants to get down and dirty. Bad, bad boy!

Ever heard of  a business that does makeovers for paranormal creatures, helps in taming the beasts inside so they could find their one true love? Well, that’s what From Crud to Stud is for. Becca Salt owns and operates this booming business, but when she encounters Eric Diletto, she’s surprised by this minor Greek God’s request. Instead of being the nice guy, he wants to unleash the Kraken and be the bad guy every woman wants.

Will Becca succeed on this predicament?

I enjoyed a great part of this paranormal story and even had me grinning like a lunatic after all those (mis)adventures of Becca Salt and her conquest. She’s one insecure witch who believed that no guy would ever fall for her. I liked how Eric Diletto entered the picture and knocked the wind out of Becca. Literally. Loved their banters and crazy antics, and the supporting characters were just as funny as well. (Loved Uncle Desi!)

This has been a really hot and erotic paranormal story that wiped out the frowns I was having this morning. Really a great fun read!!

 

NOTE: I received this book from the publishing company in exchange for an honest review.

 

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Review: All Things New by Lauren Miller

All Things New
by Lauren Miller

Seventeen-year-old Jessa Gray has always felt broken inside, but she’s gotten good at hiding it. No one at school knows about the panic attacks, the therapy that doesn’t help, the meds that haven’t worked. But when an accident leaves her with a brain injury and visible scars, Jessa’s efforts to convince the world that she’s okay finally crumble. Now, she looks as shattered as she feels.

Fleeing from her old life in Los Angeles, she moves to Colorado to live with her dad, but her anxiety only gets worse in the wake of her accident. That is, until she meets Marshall, a boy with a heart defect whose kindness and generous spirit slowly draw Jessa out of her walled-off shell and into the broken, beautiful, real world — a place where souls get hurt just as badly as bodies, and we all need each other to heal.

“A dragon is exactly what it feels like, my panic. Breathing fire in my gut.”

Jessa Gray was used to hiding her anxiety, pretending to be brave and in control. Her boyfriend Wren was enough for him, didn’t make any other real connection except her mother, who didn’t know how to deal with her. When an unfortunate accident left her grasping for air and bruised and scarred, her world of pretense and lies crumbled. Unstable, fragile Barbie soon became broken and wounded.

“We see what we want to see, what we expect to see, instead of what’s really there. I don’t think we do it on purpose, most of the time. We just get kind of stuck. We start thinking that the way things are is the way they’ll be. But that’s not true. It can’t be true. Because the world is never still.”

After the accident, Jessa’s brain was affected so much, she could no longer picture anything with her mind. Closing her eyes, she couldn’t see anything, couldn’t even imagine a thing. When she open them, she saw scars on other people’s faces, bruises, wounds, disfigurement. In her own terms, she hallucinated.

Moving and settling in to her father’s place might just be the change she needed to deal with her hallucinations and panic attacks. Jessa met and made new friends with twins, Hannah and Marshall, two distinct personalities, each with his own burden to bear.

I totally get why other people didn’t seem to get a grasp of the story with the heroine always controlling her emotions and not accepting the reality of her scarred situation. If you would have asked me to read this three years ago, I wouldn’t be able to understand anything, too. But after I’ve read so much about panic attacks and learned about mental disorders from various channels, I finally have better concept of people dealing with this mental and emotional health issues. I’m also glad I was able to read this book during the World Mental Health day a week ago, it even made me more aware of this disorders and helped me understand the depressed even more.

I hurt a lot and as much as Jessa did. It may have been painful to see everything with her eyes and not with her mind, but I believed it was even more painful to see everyone’s scars right in front of you. I thought she was a strong girl, especially when she finally admitted she needed help, she acknowledged her fears and had joined a group that doesn’t judge nor ridicule her imperfections. The depiction of Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Gray was a genius idea, perfect and on-point. This book by Lauren Miller was splendidly written and heartbreakingly beautiful. Cut right through my heart, drove it like a race car and plummeted it to a deep ravine. Her harrowing journey to recovery was definitely something to read and think about!

 

Review: Explicitly Yours by Mika Jolie

Explicitly Yours
A Platonically Complicated Novella
by Mika Jolie

Marriage.
The final frontier. The end of dating. The number one cause of divorce.

I bet you every man who is about to take the plunge experiences a wide range of feelings. As a guy, whose wedding day is only seven days away, I know this.

Anxiety—Nerves are kicking in. Yeah, even confident, cocky guys like me are bound to face nuptial stage fright.

Let’s face it, forever is kind of a long time, right?

Excitement—Coriander and I are going to make it official. I’m marrying my best friend, the one I laugh with, live for, dream with.

Nothing can top this moment.

That is until I got the biggest surprise of my life…

 

 

Coriander Phillips and Dean Conrad Morello are soon to be married. Yes, finally! The man who was always surrounded by a bevy of beauties was finally tying the knot with his beloved, with his best friend. Almost twenty years of friendship and in less than three months, they decided it was time. If you thought this was kind of rushed, I assure you, it’s not.

Years and years of platonic relationship had finally took up a notch and now they couldn’t wait to make it official. But there’s one thing that they couldn’t agreed on, a crucial decision that they had to bear responsibility for the rest of their lives. A responsibility that Dean was scared to even think about. Everything was running smoothly until they finally realize what they were getting into.  It’s five days before their wedding…. is Dean really ready to settle down amidst his fears?

A few months ago, I met Cori and Dean in The Boyfriend and fell in love with the reformed player. There’s something about guys who admit their insecurities and mishaps and failures and dreams. That something was what drawn me to Dean.

In Explicitly Yours, the same annoying yet charming narrative greeted me, Dean airing his dirty laundry while admiring his fiance’s physique. Other readers may find him obnoxious and egotistical – me, I found him honest, adorable, tolerable self-centered macho who’s got stars and hearts in his eyes. Cori was lucky to have him.

And oh, don’t remind me of those hot and heavy scenes that happened between the couple. I’m telling you, I couldn’t handle the heat! Whew!

Anyway, I love how Cori and Dean grew as mature and responsible adults. I love how they got a very strong support system, too. I just wish the other characters were given more spotlight, but maybe, they’ll be having their own books soon, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Once again, Mika Jolie turned me into a mushy, giggly hopeless romantic overnight. She always knows how to make my day right. She always knows how to tell an honest-to-goodness story without making me sleepy. I would read everything this author writes and I will never get tired of her writing. That’s how much I love Mika Jolie!

Review: Driven To Date by Susan Hatler

Driven to Date
(Better Date than Never #7)
by Susan Hatler

Career-driven attorney, Jill Parnell, has worked long and hard to become a partner at Corbett, Gray, & Shaw. When the coveted position is given to the boss’s nephew, she does what any intelligent employee would do—attends a colleague’s wedding and schmoozes a high-powered partner at another law firm.

Her potential new boss has only one condition for her, that she demonstrate a personal life that will support a thriving career. Pretending to have a boyfriend is outside Jill’s comfort zone, but she invites the best man to act the part and Ryan is all-too eager to play her significant other. Sparks fly between them, but she reminds herself she’s only driven to date to get back on the partner track.

When Jill discovers Ryan is the lawyer who stole her promotion, her charade threatens to implode. But breaking off their pretend relationship could cost her the job of her dreams. And the more she gets to know Ryan, the more she’s tempted to tame the bad boy, and make him her own.

Jill Parnell had worked her butt off in Gray, Corbett & Shaw Law firm for five years, and the day she thought she’d be promoted to Managing Attorney turned out to be false alarm. That position she had aspired for was given to one of the partners’ relative and that really hurt workaholic Jill.. Concerned friends told her to take it easy and have fun once in a while, but how could she, after her ill-fated career boost?

Ryan Shaw met Jill on a common friend’s wedding and they hit it off. Another promising job got Jill all excited that she was willing to hire a ten-minute boyfriend just to impress a possible new colleague. After she realized who Ryan was, she needed a plan to put into action, and she’d do everything to make it happen.

I’d like to call this story, It Started With A Kiss, because that’s how I saw Jill and Ryan’s partnership started. But after reading the entirety of this lawyer romance, Driven to Date is indeed the deserving title. I loved how Jill had pursued her plans and showed so much drive to achieve her goals, by changing the person she initially was. I liked that she was open to criticisms and listened to pieces of advice even if it tore her heart. Ryan Shaw was the ideal man, despite getting called a player or someone with a short attention span for ladies. He had proven that there was more to him than meets the eye, and he always got me with his buttercup charisma.

Susan Hatler, as always, make the readers swoon and feel in love with her stories and characters. I loved that this one has clean, slowly burning romance that got me giddy like a teen. Jill and Ryan may have driven me crazy with their complicated love affair, but I was more than happy to plead guilty for being crazy in love.

Review: The Chocolate Comeback by Roxanne Snopek

The Chocolate Comeback
(Love at the Chocolate Shop #7)
by Roxanne Snopek

Fame, fortune and fashion: that’s aspiring model Deirdre Cash’s ideal life. But when her splashy New York career dries up, she swallows her pride and returns to Marietta, Montana, desperate for any work she can find.

Isaac Litton doesn’t want the intrusion of a home care aide for his brother, Mark. But when the young man takes a shine to DeeDee, Isaac decides to give her a chance. He can’t help but be impressed when DeeDee changes his brother’s life around, by rewarding his healthy habits and exercising with treats from the Copper Mountain Chocolate Shop. Gorgeous and opinionated, DeeDee stirs everything up in the Litton household, including an attraction that Isaac can’t deny.

As DeeDee and Isaac start to fall for each other, an unexpected opportunity arises that could launch DeeDee back into the modeling scene. It’s her chance to achieve everything she’s ever wanted. But taking it would mean letting down her friends at the chocolate shop, her family who believes in her, a boy who adores her, and a man who thinks she’s already perfect, just the way she is.

DeeDee Cash is back in Marietta, broke, jobless, and living with her twin sister Maddie. She was a model back on New York, but after a series of mishaps and uneventful gigs, she came back home tried to reassess her life. Thanks to her meddling twin, DeeDee found herself knocking on the door of the new guy in town, and taking care of his brother with Down Syndrome.

Isaac Litton was at his wits’ end with all the finance work he’d been doing, plus making sure that his younger brother’s needs were me. Mark Litton wasn’t an easy boy to deal with, but he loved him so much, he’d do everything in his power to give him all his special needs. But could he trust someone as careless and enticing and as gorgeous as hell as DeeDee Cash?

Just when I thought I have read everything about The Chocolate Shop series, just when I thought I’ve met all the beautiful people from Marietta Montana, here I am, silently crying for joy, for DeeDee Cash, Isaac and Mark Litton. My heat is overwhelmed. Never have I ever cried in a fashion show, never have I ever read a woman as aloof yet as passionate and dedicated as DeeDee, never have I ever loved a boy with Down Syndrome before, and never have I ever attended a fundraiser event as uplifting and emotional as the one I’ve just read.  But here I am now, embracing the characters one by one, flaws and disabilities and all.

If the water from Marietta Montana is indeed magical, the authors of Love at the Chocolate Shop are magical, too! I can’t help but to fall in love everytime I read a book about the characters of Marietta and Copper Mountain and the neighboring towns. The Chocolate Comeback is currently my favorite read and I got teary eyed reading about the other people participating in the fundraiser/fashion show.

I love Mark Litton to bits. He was so adorable and caring and trusting in his own special way. Although at first, DeeDee wasn’t that into him and his brother, I was glad this snooty model had come a long way to becoming the ideal woman she was destined to be. Isaac, on the other hand, was understandably remote and antisocial at the beginning, given his responsibility to his bro. It’s a pleasure to see him squirm once in a while and see a little of his romantic silly side. I highly approved of DeeDee and Isaac’s budding romance: slow-burning, tension-building, hackles-rising and all those stuffs.

Once again, Roxanne Snopek made my night. She’s my new fave Marietta author (I loved The Chocolate Cure!)  and I couldn’t wait to read all the other books she’d written and the other stories in The Love at the Chocolate Shop series!

Review: Married in Montana by Jane Porter

Married in Montana
(Paradise Valley Ranch #2)
by Jane Porter

Beautiful, spirited, Texas born Ellie Burnett needs a husband. Fast. Her father, rancher Archibald Burnett, is dying, and she’s determined to marry to protect the ranch and preserve her father’s legacy in Montana’s rugged Paradise Valley. The trouble is, she wants to wear the boots in the family and the man she has in mind, Irishman Thomas Sheenan would never stand for that.

Independent and taciturn Thomas Sheenan isn’t looking for a wife, having spent far too much of his life taking care of others. He’s come to Montana to carve out his own identity, and be his own man. The last thing he needs is a headstrong bride, but when Ellie approaches him with the offer of a lifetime, he can’t refuse.

Thomas didn’t anticipate falling for his new bride. He moved to Montana to stake his claim…he never planned on losing his heart.

Ellie Burnett needed to get married before time ran out. Her father Archibald Burnett was dying and she would never be ready for it. She needed a husband as soon as possible to continue his father’s legacy. Only she wasn’t looking for a man to love and to hold nor cherish. She wanted a man who had strong physique to help toil the land and horses, a man who would respect her decisions and let her do just about everything concerning her family’s ranch.

Only she met the man who couldn’t possibly pass up for a husband, but he was too rude to her and ungentle and already formed an opinion about her. Irishman Thomas Sheenan didn’t go to Montana to find a wife, in fact, he went away from Ireland to escape his past. But this little annoying redhead amused him so much, he couldn’t help but agreed to her demands… Until the funeral happened.

Oh man, Ellie Burnett was such a feisty, stubborn woman and I had a hard time liking her. When I first read the few pages, I thought Ellie was a fine, independent woman, too headstrong for someone of her gender in the Western era (1890s). Too bad she didn’t turn out amusing at all when she got married. I understand she was grieving following her father’s demise, but she just as soon turned into her spoiled brat and surly persona when she finally realized what had been happening under her roof after three months. Unluckily for her, Thomas knew how to tame the beast and boy, what drastic methods he used to bend to his will.

I am not entirely in favor of Thomas initial perception of Ellie, I thought he was too sexist, hinting that he preferred a woman with ladylike manners, soft and gentle and homebody.  Ellie was the complete contrast, much to his dismay, but there was something about her that mystified him and couldn’t ignore that niggling feeling through his gut. When they got married, he was quite the bossy one.

As the story crawled, the journey to their better relationship and more understanding situation paved the way to a happily ever after. Both had learned to compensate each others’ flaw, and though they married for convenience and first treated it as a business deal, in the long run, love finally won and found its way to their hearts. I may not usually read Western / historical romances, but I do appreciate a good balanced love story.

Review: Always by London Saint James

 

Always
(Two Hearts, One Soul Duet: Book One)
by London Saint James

Winter Perri never truly understood love until she met Austin Carlyle—the man who would rock her world to its foundations and give her something to believe in. But the night before they were to be married, the fairytale shattered.

Thirteen years later Winter is pulled out of her seclusion only to have a painful past confront her, and when it does, she’s left questioning reality, because the impossible is looking back at her with the face of a destroying angel, and piercing eyes in too familiar shades of blue.

This has been quite a roller coaster! A love story about heartbreaks and second chances. Winter Perri and Austin Carlyle had it good when they started seeing each other, I thought there’s was quite romantic and sensational.. Until everything shattered to pieces on the eve of their wedding day, and I thought I wouldn’t be able to recover myself.

I really thought there’s nothing more that would make me cry the moment Winter Perri’s body had gone limp upon hearing the news about her beloved. My heart bled out to oblivion. When I continued with the story, I was expecting a lighter mood surrounding Winter. But lo and behold, Chandler and Cayden Cain’s involvement in this frozen fairytale got me shocked and gutted. I told myself, this better not be another new lovestory destined to end in doom. But as the pages went, my eyes continued to go misty until I got to the last page and my eyes were already dripping and my nose swollen and my mouth quivering. Gosh, I couldn’t stop my ugly crying!

This story had been long and winding, I thought I wouldn’t be able to finish it. But I did. And I’m glad I did even though I cried 90% of the time. I’m glad I read this because it reminded me about life, about the people we love, about how precious every second of time is. This has been really a powerful book, something that I would cherish forever and always.

This is my first London Saint James book, and even though she had me wailing like a harpy, I am looking forward to reading more of her books soon!