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!

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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: Love Uncovered by Laura Barnard

Love Uncovered
(Babes of Brighton #2)
by Laura Barnard

Independent woman to her core, Brooke Archer has always been happy to hit it and quit it with the men in her life. But when her beloved Nan suffers from poor health, Brooke realises just how precious life is and decides it’s time to face her daddy issues and seek out her estranged father. Without so much as a name or photo, and a cagey Mum withholding vital information, it’s going to be no easy task.

Nicholas Parker is a relationship guy and always has been. Abandoned by his mum when he was seven he craves love and security. But finding a woman who can conquer his trust issues is no easy feat. Brooke is exactly the kind of woman he doesn’t need.

Pulled together by some invisible force, can Brooke and Nicholas overcome their differences to uncover true love?

Brooke Archer has always been the wild one in the group, but little did everyone know what pains she has to endure, starting with her alcoholic mom and two evil step(half)sisters and not knowing who her real father is. At some point, she longs for undivided attention from one of the men she’s dating, but sadly, an indecent toilet scene just leads her to false hopes. Now she’s decided to find out more about her own father’s identity and in doing so, she finds an ally in the form of heavily tatted hunk, Nicholas.

Women have warned Brook about Nicholas; they said he’s clingy and jealous and possessive. Qualities that may deem sweet to other gals, but also quite a turnoff to some. But Nicholas is more than just that, and when Brooke finally uncovers what lies beneath, she is in for a big surprise.

Love Uncovered is the next book in the Babes of Brighton series. I’m glad I was able to read the first book (Excess Baggage) and have kept up with the characters and their issues, personalities, concerns and activities. Although I wasn’t impressed that much with Brooke, I thought she was a bit too much on the wild side and also self-centered and cocky. Can’t say I like her much, but when she’s with Nicholas, I thought she’s okay. Despite the criticisms thrown at Nicholas’ attitude, I thought he was the perfect guy who could tame Brooke, but time and time again, she hurt Nicholas in more ways than one and I couldn’t stand her. I couldn’t help but cry for Nicholas. The truth about his mom though, wow that was really shocking! And Brooke’s daddy issues was way more complicated than I thought it would be.

Somehow, it all boiled down to lack of trust and communication that broke their connection, but in the end, I liked how everything worked out.

Can’t wait to read Alice’s story next!

Review: The Chocolate Cure by Roxanne Snopek

 

The Chocolate Cure
(Love at the Chocolate Shop #4)
by Roxanne Snopek

No more chocolate! No more meddling! No more men!

New Year’s resolutions are great. Announcing them in a crowded bar, with a chocolate martini in her hand? Not Maddie Cash’s finest moment. It’s time this new realtor got serious about her life and this time, she means it.

But when hospital volunteering lands her at the bedside of bruised and battered Mick Meyer, who has no knowledge of Maddie’s reputation – and no memory of the kiss he begged from her during that long, pain-filled night, her best-laid plans are put in jeopardy. It’s not just his sweet tooth that’s tempting her.

The hunky bush pilot with the concussion has an old family property to unload. Making this sale could be Maddie’s professional salvation. But when Mick turns on the charm, she’s in danger of forgetting all her best intentions… on chocolate… on meddling… and especially on men.

Sure had lots of fun meeting the once privileged spoiled girl Maddie Chase and the daredevil pilot Mick Meyer in this deliciously sweet and sexy story, The Chocolate Cure. Loved the friendly banter between two strangers. Maddie as a volunteer in a hospital was a hoot with Mick struggling to keep sane despite all the drugs inside his body. The promise of never eating chocolate again (OMG, how could Maddie make such NY resolution?) and staying away from men or meddling with other people’s decisions proved to be quite a difficult feat for our female protagonist. Not to mention that one heady kiss that Mick totally forgot about.. Le Sigh…

Maybe it’s the chocolates, or the gorgeous men in the story, or Maddie’s knack for Prada and branded items, or the warm and friendly people of Marietta – these factors definitely made my reading fun and memorable. The Chocolate Cure is absolutely the cure to all my insanity issues. This is my first book by Roxanne Snopek and I am already in love.. Love the butterfly feelings I get while reading this book. I think I am in love!

Review: Swept Off My Feet by Ines Bautista-Yao

Swept Off My Feet
by Ines Bautista-Yao

Why my life sucks
by Geri Lazaro

1. My dad left when I was a kid.
2. My mom is in love (insert eye roll).
3. With a guy who is like 10 years younger than her!
4. My friends think he’s hot. (Gross)
5. I love ballet but our dance studio has a leak and we have to dance in this smelly studio that doubles as an aikido dojo.
6. There’s this Dojo guy who thinks the studio belongs to him.
7. Friends think Dojo guy is cute. (Ew.) (Okay, objectively maybe but still, ew.)
8. I’m failing algebra.
9. Need to quit either basketball or ballet. Or both.
10. Dojo guy keeps showing up! (Fine, he does aikido in the same building but whatever.)
11. Dojo guy is asking me to dance with him. And maybe he is as cute as my friends say.
12. I don’t know what to do anymore!

I love love love this new book by Ines B. Yao.. Mostly because, there’s a ballerina in the story. Just so you know, when I was in 2nd grade, my mom enrolled me in ballet, together with my twin cousins EdieLyn and MarieLyn. For three years, we danced and glided like swans, in allegro while in strict arabesque position wearing white tutus and pointe shoes. We performed in school and church events, and I always loved the feeling ballet entailed.

That’s why I felt a connection with Geri Lazaro, the main female character in the story. Aside from being a ballerina, Geri also played basketball in her school. And then, we share the same distaste in Algebra too. And oh, she and her mom loved listening to 90s songs and Alanis Morisette! Wow! I mean, how cool is that? I’d love to meet Geri Lazaro for real!

And mister Dojo guy also known as Bas is such a nice guy. There’s something about him that makes him endearing and charming, not just because of his looks and ridiculously tall appearance and affiliation with aikido. Bas is the kind of guy you’d want to know more, hate to disappoint, and love to be with everytime. Yes, he’s that kind of guy.

While both had family issues to deal with, they got this special kind of bond that appealed to readers like me.

Swept Off My Feet reminds me of one of my favorite dance movies of all time, Step Up (the one with Channing Tatum). I loved that movie but I think I love this book even more. I love all the characters and I love how I easily connected with all of them.  I love how Ines Yao brings out my cheesy side and how she effortlessly makes me grin with her stories. I would definitely have a smile on my face when I go to sleep tonight.

Review: Can’t Help Falling In Love by Bella Andre

Can’t Help Falling in Love
(San Francisco Sullivans #3)
by Bella Andre

Gabe Sullivan risks his life every day as a firefighter in San Francisco. But after learning a brutal lesson about professional boundaries, he knows better than to risk his heart to his fire victims ever again. Especially the brave mother and daughter he saved from a deadly apartment fire…and can’t stop thinking about.

Megan Harris knows she owes the heroic firefighter everything for running into a burning building to save her and her seven-year-old daughter. Everything except her heart. Because after losing her navy pilot husband five years ago, she has vowed to never suffer through loving – and losing – a man with a dangerous job again.

Only, when Gabe and Megan meet again and uncontrollable flames of desire ignite between them, how can he possibly ignore her courage, determination, and beauty? And how can she deny not only his strong bond with her daughter.but the way his sweetly sensual kisses are challenging her to risk everything she’s been guarding for so long?

This winter, if one – or both – of them aren’t careful, they just might end up falling in love.

An apartment fire almost cost the lives of single mom Megan and her daughter Summer, if not for the courage and sheer focus of Gabe Sullivan, firefighter extraordinaire. But Gabe didn’t want to credit everything to his job, because he had seen firsthand how Megan braved the fire and made sure her daughter could make it out alive. Both of them were heroes in their own rights, and that’s what made them more appealing to me.

Gabe had his Firefighter Dating rule – never date fire victims, especially the ones he helped rescued. One past experience had him burned so bad, now he was a little extra careful when it came to women. Megan had vowed never to date a man who could die anytime in his line of job. Her deceased husband would only remind her the perils and worries and heartaches she had previously experienced and would possibly feel once more. And then there’s Summer. She didn’t want her daughter to go through that again.

So far, Gabe is my favorite among the Sullivans.. I’ve got a soft spot for firefighters and single mothers, and most specially, to a cute little girl named Summer. I loved how their story slowly developed, started out as kindle and soon burned into a glowing fire and ended with a magnificent explosion of fireworks. Literally and figuratively. My heart warmed at the wonderful image these three characters painted – full of passion, caring, love and fire.

Trust Bella Andre to come up with a family that’s so easily loved and never easily forgotten. The stories just kept getting better and better. I’m glad I decided to continue with the Sullivan series, every member of the family was getting more delectable and admirable by the minute! (And yeah, just a question for Miss Andre, what’s up with the brothers and bath tubs, anyway? Seriously makes me want to get my own bathtub in my house, too!) Oh well, I just can’t help falling in love with this family, indeed!