Review: Excess Baggage by Laura Barnard

Excess Baggage
by Laura Barnard

Stuck in a dead-end relationship, Erica Bennett finds herself daydreaming of her first holiday romance. She was fifteen, it was exciting, new and full of possibilities…and Jack Lawson was hot as hell. That kind of thing leaves a mark.

So when her friends suggest a girls holiday to Luna Island, it’s exactly what she needs to take her mind off things. What she doesn’t expect is to spot Jack – a much older, hotter version of him – across the hotel lobby.

Their attraction is still there and it isn’t long before sparks fly, but fifteen years is a long time. They aren’t the same people they were back then and besides, it’s only a week, right?

Is it a second chance at something real or will their excess baggage ruin their shot at love after they leave Luna Island?

Looking for a fun and crazy summer read? Probably something to peruse while vacationing with friends in the beach.. The story was all kinds of crazy and drama and romance, just right for a particularly hot and sunny day.

This is a second chance romance for Jack and Erica, who had met, had fun and had an affair when they were at the young age of fifteen. The perfect puppy love if you’d ask me. Now, fifteen years later, they saw each other again on a holiday in Luna Island, and tried to rekindled their past. But it seemed that they both had excess baggage that they couldn’t just leave behind.

The flow of the story was fine – quite fast and furious and fun. My main concern however, were the main characters. They were both already in their 30s when they met again, but somehow, their actions didn’t even change from when they got separated a lifetime ago. It felt like they just missed each other for a week, and their tryst began again. They behaved like teenagers, they acted like they were still virgins doing it for the first time, they conducted themselves like high-schoolers fidgeting and jumping to conclusions whenever a simple miscommunication arose. I didn’t really connect with Jack and Erica, but Brooke and Tom and Molly – well they were quite the raucous bunch but they proved to be intriguing as well.

This is my first book by Laura Barnard but will not be the last. I believe there’s promise in her stories and I would still love to dive into her other books soon.

Review: Mercy and Mayhem by Lindsay Cross

Mercy & Mayhem (Operation Mayhem #1)
by Lindsay Cross

He wanted nothing but revenge…until her.

Mack Grey wants one thing in his life: vengeance for the ex-CIA operative who betrayed his team, Jack Mankel. And he’s finally got the traitor within grasp, all he has to do is catch a hop across the Congo and capture his enemy.

He had no idea the depths to which Mankel’s evil could reach.

She never thought she could love again…until him.

All single-mother air force pilot Marley Mitchell has to do is fly a group of special operators across Africa for a HALO jump and then she can be back home with her baby girl. Then the unexpected happens. Her plane crashes and Marley has to rely on an insanely hot commander to get her out of the jungle alive.

Deep in the jungle, Mack gives her his heart and soul. He’s willing to lay down his life to protect hers.

But Marley has a secret.

A secret that could destroy not only their hope for happiness, but Mack’s entire team.

With Mankel closing in and guerilla soldiers on the prowl, their sensual attraction is put to the ultimate test in an action-packed thrill ride of passion so hot it threatens to burn them alive.

The latest book by Lindsay Cross just left me breathless!

I never met a woman pilot as feisty and stubborn and damn well passionate as Marley Mitchell.  She’s independent and determined and would do everything for her daughter Maddie.  When she met Mack Grey,  it was only a matter of time before she got thrown again in that wonderful bliss being in a relationship entailed.

Mack Grey was the colonel leading the team that’d bring down the notorious Jack Mankel, who  betrayed  his  team  and  his  country.  Too many lives had suffered and were at stake,  it was time to capture and punish the traitor once and for all.

But everything changed when Marley was thrown in the crossfire that would put bullet into Mack’s head.

This has been another fantastic story from Cross.  Action packed from start to finish.  Sizzling hot in every chapter too.  There’d been no dull moment when I read this book. Truly another absolutely amazing treat by the men in uniform.

Review: No Interest in Love by Cassie Mae

No Interest

No Interest in Love
(All About Love #2)
by Cassie Mae

Hollywood’s hottest young actor hits the road to chase his big break—and discovers a leading lady where he least expected.

When Jace Carver snags a minor part in his buddy’s zombie flick, he suddenly starts getting noticed all over the place. Even Hollywood megastar Carletta Ocean—known for her extensive “research” with her male co-stars—wants Jace for her new rom-com. The role could be a game-changer . . . if Jace nails the audition.

As Jace’s agent, Shaylene Kwak is all business, and isn’t about to let her favorite client blow this opportunity. Since their college years, Shay has been immune to Jace’s charm and rock-hard body. But long hours in close company have a way of wearing down even the best defenses, and when their platonic teasing turns into serious flirting, Jace and Shay are no longer able to resist what’s been right in front of them the entire time.

Shay knows Jace’s love-’em-and-leave-’em history with women. She’s not about to be just another notch in his belt. And it’s true, Jace has never wanted more than a one-night stand—until now. But at the end of the line, he’s got a choice: sleep with Carletta and seal the deal, or risk his career for a shot at true love with Shay.

 

I gotta admit, I didn’t like this book at first. I thought Jace was an a-hole actor wannabe who would do every girl he met. He thought Hollywood was a better place now that he was in it. And he would do his best to get the roles he wanted, not because he wanted an Oscar, but because he wanted to bed every star he was paired with. All he ever wanted was to get laid.

I thought, ugh, this guy’s disgusting. He even had the audacity to narrate his sexcapades and mishaps, as if they were his trophies. I wasn’t really feeling him. Except when he constantly expressed how he idolized “Barney Stinson” – who wouldn’t? I thought he was an airhead and a slut.

Until he blurted out this four words when he thought he was about to die – ” I love you Grandma!”

I love grandmas. I love elderlies. I grew up with my “abuela” grandmother until her last breath when I was in 3rd grade. She used to comb my hair and taught me Spanish words. When main character Jace Carver screamed his love for his grandma, I was moved. Suddenly I decided to read the story all over again, starting from the very first page.

And soon I saw Jace differently. (Kinda). I realized he was crazy kid, sarcastic, recalcitrant, dyslexic, attention seeker. He was just like any normal aspiring actors wanting to get big in Hollywood. And yes, still, all he wanted was to get laid.

Until he found out he could no longer deny his feelings for his agent. Until he realized he wanted to right his wrongs and be better in the eyes of Shay. Shaylene Kwak, a Texan-based Korean who usually muttered unintelligible Korean curses and had seen his ups and downs since their high school days. Shay whom she found so adorable and attractive despite her constant sarcasm. Shay who re-introduced Elmo to the world through her memes.

I thought the story was entertaining and hilarious because I found myself laughing at Jace’s & Shay’s expense. They ruled the world in their own ways. They threw lines effectively and their constant bickering and bantering was fun to read. I loved that theirs wasn’t a case of insta-love. In the end, I thought the whole book was adorably cute.. (But still, first impressions last, isn’t it? So I still think Jace was an a-hole.

I liked Cassie Mae’s writing. She had this ability to make me look at her characters in a different light. Jace and Shay became real persons, their series of unfortunate events proved that life is full of surprises, uncertainties and promises. Cassie Mae is an effective and competent author, she writes beautiful and realistic romantic stories that appeal to the masses and book enthusiasts. Can’t wait to get my hands on her other books!

Review: Love in Lingerie by Alessandra Torre

Love in Lingerie
by Alessandra Torre

I hired her to fix my company, to bring Marks Lingerie back to life. I didn’t expect her to become my friend. I didn’t expect to fall in love with her.

The first rule of business is to never touch your employees. I think there is another rule about not falling for your best friend—a rule against imagining the curves of her body, or the way her breathing would change if I pulled down her panties and unzipped my pants.

Now, I can’t wait any longer. I’m tossing out the rules.

Damn the company.
Damn our friendship.
Damn my fears.

This has been so tantalizingly sexy, deliciously funny, definitely hot and sexy.

Kate Martin is looking for a job after feeling so under-appreciated in the lingerie company she’d been working at. She met Trey Marks, dashingly handsome and rich and hot. She can think of so many things to do with the man, but she isn’t one to misbehave herself, especially after getting engaged to her long-time boyfriend, Craig.

Well, she isn’t going anywhere whether she likes it or not, because if there’s one rule that Trey Marks religiously implements and follows, that is not to get associated with his co-worker, no commitments, no touch, no feels. Even if Kate Martin happened to be the woman who rocks his world.

Trey Marks isn’t the kind of man I’d want to consider as a book boyfriend, what with all his crazy and naughty ideas and kinks, but Kate Martin sure is the one that has slayed him. Props to this feisty girl who had full control of herself even if she really wants to get a taste of her boss the moment she sees him. Took them years and years – that’s long enough to do the inevitable, that was quite painfully slow if you were to ask me.

But when the love was consumed, everything around them burned and exploded. This is quite a shocking and aggressive read. My first Alessandra Torre book and this won’t definitely be the last.

 

ThrowbackThursday: Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

throwbackthursday

It’s Thursday once again and we’re back with my newest favorite book meme, #ThrowbackThursday created by Renee of It’s Book Talk (https://itsbooktalk.com/) as her way of sharing some of her favorite oldies but goodies books that were published more than a year ago. Check out her blog to see her TBT recommendations this week 🙂

Today, I’ll go a little gritty and bloody.

Title: Warm Bodies

Author: Isaac Marion

Kindle edition

A zombie who yearns for a better life ends up falling in love—with a human—in this astonishingly original debut novel. 

R is a zombie. He has no memories, no identity, and no pulse, but he has dreams. He doesn’t enjoy killing people; he enjoys riding escalators and listening to Frank Sinatra. He is a little different from his fellow Dead. 

Not just another zombie novel, Warm Bodies is funny, scary, and deeply moving.

I think I have fairly mentioned before that I hated zombie flicks/stories. But not entirely. I have read a couple of books featuring zombies and this is by far the most eloquent, if not, vindictive characterization of a zombie I have encountered. And I, surprisingly, loved it.

While I refrained from watching the film adaptation of Warm Bodies, I consider myself lucky to be one of the readers of this Isaac Marion brain-eating macabre masterpiece. The story coming from R was full of passion, as if he really was speaking from his heart, or the lack thereof (initially, that is).

Although I was on the verge of spewing coffee & food all over my Kindle while reading , I managed to control my emotions and soon I developed a love-hate relationship with R. Yes, that gory zombie who had a hole in his stomach and had decaying flesh. That walking-but-no-talking zombie who ate the brain of a certain young man, then soon fell in love with Julie, who happened to be the girlfriend of the said certain young man. Never mind that Julie was alive and kicking, but she did made R felt more human than ever before. Oh yes, what a mouthful, eh?!

The ending of the story was a little rushed, but I am not complaining. Seeing that Julie became an instrument for R to become alive and kicking again, it didn’t bother me anymore if I have stumbled upon a lot of cuss words.

Because seriously, this is one of the best written zombie novel I have ever read. Yes, I repeat, I haven’t watched the movie.. but NO, I have no intention of watching it anytime soon. Because I still want to bask in all those gory details that Isaac Marion had instilled on my mind. He is sick! But he is definitely a great writer.

Review: Happily Ever Single by Jessica Frances

happysingleHappily Ever Single
by Jessica Frances

Contemporary Romance
Date Published: 7/9/15

coffeesynopsisdStill in my twenties, I have it all. I am young, happy, and healthy, despite my wine and pizza addictions. I am a successful business owner who lives a life I love, free from any romantic commitments. To me, my life is perfect right now, except for just one small problem…

My mother.

She will tell you I am missing something in my life, that I should be married with kids and have a house with a white picket fence, even though I cannot think of anything worse.

Ignoring my constant protests, she manages to set me up on a series of horrendous blind dates. To pacify my mother and avoid being set up with another friend’s son, I am driven to do something I never thought I would.

I begin arranging dates through an agency.

This idea seems to work well, until my arranged date falls sick right before a family event. With no other options, I am forced to attend with the agency owner’s brother-in-law as my stand-in date. At this point, my perfect life suddenly becomes … complicated.

Ollie is sexy, fun, and intense. There is an instant connection between us, but is it strong enough to risk my perfect life plan?

I am single, free, and content. I don’t need a man.

However, Ollie is persistent, despite my reluctance, and now I am left wondering if it is possible that he may be the perfect match for me.

Can Ollie be the one man to finally accept me for me, or does he think he can change who I am and my opinions?

Does my story end with me happily-ever-single or with a happily-ever-after?

Or can there be room for both?

thoughts-divider

Lucy was sick and tired of her mom setting her with blind dates. It was really embarrassing her. She specifically wanted to stay single and childless forever, because she didn’t want the complexities being married and a mom would entail. But her family was adamant in seeing her hitched, one way or another.

So she sought dating agencies and they soon found her a match who would pretend as her boyfriend and come with her in every family gathering.

Until her date became unavailable and a replacement was sent. Ollie. Broken-hearted and still reeling with pain, he went out and helped Lucy out. Next thing they know, their lives changed, new emotions were felt, a budding romance started and before they know it, their own families got entangled.

Aww… This was a light-hearted read for of feels! I was smiling all throughout the book, I felt my jaw cringing after grinning for so long, even on those parts where the characters were fighting and arguing and almost maiming each other.

Lucy was understandably wary of relationships, but when The One had finally arrived, I knew she’d find herself doubting her decisions in life. Ollie was a great catch, his perfect imperfections made him more attractive, at least to me. Author Jessica Frances wrote a wonderful story that had me laughing and crying at the same time. Highly recommended for hopeless romantics! Who knows, you might as well find yourselves happily single forever, single together with your The One, that is.

Here’s a bonus excerpt for all of you!

“You know, it is so unfair. Why is it so forbidden to be single? Why am I not complete unless I am stupidly in love with someone, even if that someone makes me miserable? Was there a memo that I missed? One the entire population received that I somehow lost? Why is it that my worth is judged on whether or not I’m married? Why do I have to be in love to be whole? I’m perfectly happy and content by myself. However, everyone automatically assumes I only say that because I haven’t found love. What’s so fucking special about love? Sure, it can be great, until it’s not, until your heart is ripped out, and you lose yourself completely. Until your best friend has to break into your apartment and pry the container of melted ice cream out of your hands and throw you in the bathtub because you got more all over your body than in your mouth!”

“Hey, that only happened once … four times,” Jules weakly complains.

“I don’t know why I have to defend the fact that I am single. I hate that I am considered weird or a freak because I am not desperately trying to find love. I don’t want to get married. I don’t want kids, and I don’t want to be trapped in a loveless relationship just because it is considered normal to be paired up.” I take deep breaths, my head swimming from lack of oxygen from my serious ranting.

“Whoa, how long have you been holding that in?” Jules asks.

“My entire life, but overhearing my cousins basically laughing at me earlier and saying I’m going to be a crazy cat lady didn’t help.”

“I’m sorry about that. Your cousins are such bitches.” I don’t need to explain it was my orange cousins; they are the only ones I ever seriously bitch about to Jules.

“I know, and I shouldn’t let their words get to me. I really couldn’t care less what they think. I just hate how society has given us all this expectation of what our lives should look like, and now, if we don’t meet it, we’re hounded over it. I don’t know the last time I had a conversation with a family member that didn’t have the mention of me being single. I’m sick of it.”

coffeeratingdivider

4cups

Review: White Fur by Jardine Libaire

White Fur
by Jardine Libaire

ARC provided by Netgalley

A stunning star-crossed love story set against the glitz and grit of 1980s New York City

When Elise Perez meets Jamey Hyde on a desolate winter afternoon, fate implodes, and neither of their lives will ever be the same. Although they are next-door neighbors in New Haven, they come from different worlds. Elise grew up in a housing project without a father and didn’t graduate from high school; Jamey is a junior at Yale, heir to a private investment bank fortune and beholden to high family expectations. Nevertheless, the attraction is instant, and what starts out as sexual obsession turns into something greater, stranger, and impossible to ignore.

The unlikely couple moves to Manhattan in hopes of forging an adult life together, but Jamey’s family intervenes in desperation, and the consequences of staying together are suddenly severe. And when a night out with old friends takes a shocking turn, Jamey and Elise find themselves fighting not just for their love, but also for their lives.

This is the story of 20th century version of Romeo and Juliet with a twist.

In New Haven Connecticut, little girl blue Elise Perez scraped for food and struggled to survive in the harsh side of the neighborhood. An unlocked car became her solace and the owner, Robbie took her under his wing. Soon, she met next door neighbors Jamey and Matt; and Elise Perez couldn’t fight that instant attraction, intense chemistry and sexual tension between her and Mr. Hyde. And in her faux white fur, she soon conquered the snotty and wealthy Jamey Hyde.

And then when the couple set foot in NYC, just like in true Shakesperian fashion, Jamey’s family strongly disapproved the couple’s relationship and did everything to break that bond. Even to the cause of one’s misery and the other, probable death.

This book is a fine piece of work. I love how it is set in the 80s, the time when I started learning about life and whatnot, about Depeche Mode and GI Joe. Yes, I grew up to these singers and action figures and the fact that these were featured in the book was really awesome and nostalgic.

Jamey and Elise’s life as a couple was turbulent and fiery and tragic. It gutted me to the core when Jamey fell into oblivion and Elise had to watch from afar on how he could recover. The last few chapters were really in my heart, I thought I wouldn’t be able to finish reading, but I’m glad I did. I survived. As traumatic as it may have been.

White Fur is a real work of art. ‘Nuff said.