ARC Review: Prom Queen by Katee Robert

Prom Queen
(Bad Boy Homecoming #3)
by Katee Robert

A high school reunion is about to get down and dirty and a whole lot more complicated in this new erotic romance from NYT Bestselling Author Katee Robert.

Jake Davis had it all in high school—a scholarship to his college of choice, a promising football career, and the gorgeous prom queen for a girlfriend. And then he lost it all when he was injured right after graduation. Ten years later, he’s mostly made his peace with that, and now runs a company that provides women with dates for special events. Imagine his surprise when he discovers that the ex who left him in the dust needs a fake boyfriend for their high school reunion…

Jessica Jackson used to be the mean girl to end all mean girls. But life didn’t turn out like she’d thought it would, and now she’s twenty-eight, single, and works as an insurance agent to A-listers instead of being the A-lister like she’d always dreamed. She can’t go back to her home town and admit just how thoroughly she’s failed, so she lets her friends set her up with a fake date for the reunion.

The second Jessica realizes that her fake date is Jake, she tries to call the whole thing off. The problem is the chemistry between them is even hotter now than it was when they were teenagers. Against her better judgment she lets herself get drawn into Jake’s arms again—and into his bed. But time doesn’t heal all wounds—sometimes, it actually makes them worse—and if Jessica and Jake can’t learn to forgive each other, their second chance might not last the weekend.

Karma is a bitch, that’s what this is all about. Jessica realized too late that everything she’d done in the past had come haunting her back. The mean girl slash cheerleader was finally going to face her victims in the upcoming high school reunion and Jessica was sure they’d throw eggs at her because of her attitude then. Just thinking about the reunion was sending shivers down her spine, not because of her ex-boyfriend hottie Jake Davis coming too, but because she didn’t have anyone to bring as a date to the dreaded get-together. Until her friends signed her up to an escort-type service for people who needed fake dates.

I didn’t expect to like this story, for one, I really don’t like bullies in high school and second, I am not much of a second-chance romance believer. Yeah, I’ve had such horrifying experiences about these instances in high school (I was bullied a little by a teacher’s daughter when I was in junior high, so that kind of sucked. And then I had a boyfriend before who cheated on me but I gave him second chance and just blew it all away because he went back to his cheating ways. So yes, those tropes really get under my skin, so forgive me if I was hesitant to read this.

But surprise, surprise! I had a great time with Prom Queen by Katee Robert. I loved that Jessica Andrews redeemed herself and saw the fault of her ways; that was really important to me. I loved that she also took a chance with love the second time around. At least she wasn’t cheated by her ex so their renewed relationship became sweet and lovely. The drama was okay, it was essential to the story; the characters were real and relatable. One could easily find herself in this characters and I myself couldn’t help but fall for them, especially with Jake.

Overall, this had been such a delightful read! I can’t wait to read more of Katee Robert’s books and the rest of the Bad Boy Homecoming series!

 

P.S. I received this book from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Meet Me at Willoughby Close by Kate Hewitt

Meet Me at Willoughby Close
(Willoughby Close #2)
by Kate Hewitt

Ellie Matthews has come to Wychwood-on-Lea to find a new start for her and her daughter Abby. But, life there doesn’t start out as idyllic as she had hoped. While Ellie loves her cute cottage in Willoughby Close, the Yummy Mummies at the primary school seem intent on giving her the cold shoulder, Abby has trouble fitting in, and her boss, Oliver Venables, is both surprisingly sexy and irritatingly inscrutable.

But miracles can happen in the most unexpected places, and in small, yet wonderful ways. Slowly, Ellie and Abby find themselves making friends and experiencing the everyday magic of Willoughby Close. When Oliver’s nephew, Tobias, befriends Abby, the four of them start to feel like family… and Ellie begins to see the kindness and warmth beneath Oliver’s chilly exterior, which awakens both her longing and fear.

Ellie knows all about disappointment, and the pain of trying too hard for nothing, while Oliver has his own hurts and secrets to deal with. When the past comes rollicking back to remind both of them of their weaknesses and failings, will they be able to overcome their fears and find their own happy ending?

I found the characters really endearing and sweet. Oliver Venables was kind of old fashioned, almost fortyish gentleman who’d come undone when he met his personal assistant, Ellie Matthews. Theirs was a slow-burn romance, so slow that you might get annoyed at Oliver for not being too upfront for his feelings and at Ellie for always over-analyzing things between them.

Abby, Ellie’s daughter, and Tobias, Oliver’s nephew, served as a glue to their bond. I liked how the kids were involved in a relationship between two consenting old-school adults. Oliver was a dear, a darling, always prompt and proper, yet can be quite tenacious when he wanted to. And Ellie, a little too formal for my liking, eventually turned into the fierce and brave girl I wanted her to be.

Their different social upbringing and educational status brought some hindrance to their relationship, but nothing was impossible when the heart is involved.

I love a good read in the afternoon when heavy rains beat down my roof and my kids cuddle up to me in our bedroom. Felt like I was at Willoughby Close myself with Marmite and the Matthews and Venables. This had been quite a feel-good romance that I’d read again soon!

P.S.

I received this book from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Review: Sweet Home Cowboy by Marin Thomas

Sweet Home Cowboy

(Love at the Chocolate Shop #9)
by Marin Thomas

When Marietta newcomer Elena Puente is coerced into attending a speed dating event at the popular Copper Mountain Chocolate Shop, she’s blindsided by a serious attraction to local cowboy, Wesley Banks.

Still recovering from a broken engagement, the first-grade teacher from Las Vegas isn’t looking for romance. She’s in Montana to get to know the great-grandfather she never knew existed until she found some hidden family letters. Judge Kingsley is a grouchy recluse and he’s far from welcoming, but Elena is determined to stay in town long enough to give his neglected estate on Bramble Lane a facelift.

Elena’s resolve to avoid romance is tested when she discovers Wesley is the caretaker of her grandfather’s rural property. Soon, she and the cowboy are attending more speed dating events at the chocolate shop and she’s seeking his advice on how to deal with his ornery boss. Local gossips wager the old Judge will run Elena out of town before anything serious develops between her and Wesley. But Wesley’s a determined man, too, and he’s betting Elena belongs in Marietta forever…with him.

I loved this sweet story between a woman searching for her long-lost grandfather and the man who had spent half his life caring for a crabby, short-tempered judge in the town of Marietta. A speed-dating event brought them together, a box of chocolates sweetened the connection and a grumpy old man sealed the deal. If this didn’t sound romantically exciting, I don’t know how I would call it.

Elena Puente is a first grade school teacher and had had lots of experiences with kids. She’s the kind of girl who would give it to you straight, no sugar coating, no holds barred. She says what’s on her mind, she doesn’t show weakness nor fear, even to the cranky old judge. She isn’t easily swayed by her grandfather’s cantankerous behavior and she makes sure her voice is heard and taken into consideration.

Wesley Banks joins a speed dating event at Copper Mountain Chocolate shop, hoping to find The One. What he gets is a lady who doesn’t want kids and isn’t set to start a family in Marietta. Talk about love in opposite ends.

I’ve grown to love Marietta more and more, even though I know this is just a fictional location in the beautiful state of Montana. But every story I read featuring this place makes me want to reside there and be with the town people. Judge Kingsley is such an interesting character, he could be hot one minute and then so cold the next. His elusiveness made him an engrossing personality. Elena was someone you’d love to be bestfriends with, she is so freaking amazing! And Wesley – he’s the one for keeps.

Once again, the Love at the Chocolate Shop series delivered a sweet delicious story and I can’t wait to get served again.

Review: The Chocolate Touch by Melissa McClone

The Chocolate Touch
(Love at the Chocolate Shop #8)
by Melissa McClone

Chocolate expert Chantelle Cummings arrives in Marietta, Montana with two goals—sign copies of her new book and research a quaint local chocolate shop. When she meets a gorgeous guy passing out chocolate samples, her visit turns sweeter than she ever imagined. The man melts her heart, but her dream of working in France with her family makes her hesitant to pursue a romance.

Former Air Force captain York Parker has one month before embarking upon a consulting career. He never expected to be selling chocolates, but he’s happy to help his sister and her boss. He also likes spending time with sassy, pretty Chantelle. His new co-worker may have the chocolate touch, but he’d rather taste her decadent kisses… That is, until he learns the real reason she’s in town.

Will the truth harden his heart, or will love pave the way to a sweet future?

Fact: Whenever I feel stressed and worn out with my job, I always turn to stories by Melissa McClone , Dani Collins, Jane Porter and everyone else in Tule Publishing. I kid you not. I always find myself relaxed and grinning like a hopeless romantic whenever I meet folks like the Carrigans, The Sheenans, Parkers, the people from Bar V5 Dude Ranch, basically everyone from Copper Mountain. It’s like I belong to a family there in Marietta. So whenever there’s an opportunity to read these books, I grab that chance.

Thankfully, I found York Parker and Chantelle Cummings’ story in The Chocolate Touch. Last Christmas I already met Walt and his son Bryce who captivated York’s sister, Dakota’s heart. And now York is back to help out his sister during a busy season in Copper Mountain Chocolates.

Chantelle Cummings is a writer and a chocolate expert who’s in Marietta for a few weeks for a book signing and to do research on chocolate shops. Turns out she’s going to experience a lot more than tasting chocolates during her stay. Soon she fell in love with the place and with someone who introduced her to the sweetest chocolate kisses she’s ever tasted.

York Parker has no intentions of staying at Marietta after retiring from the Air Force. He wants to travel the world while doing his new job as a computer consultant. But when his sisters asks for his help at the chocolate shop, he couldn’t say no. Then he meets the woman with the most delicious smile he has ever seen.

I love York Parker. Can I have a piece of him? He’s everything Chantelle needs to balance her workaholic life. He’s that special someone that quenches her thirst for a family. But when reality sets in, they realize they belong to the opposite sides of the world, and neither one is willing to compromise.

As usual, Melissa McClone made me faint again with the men of Marietta. I laughed, cried, sighed, swooned, and daydreamed. My stress and wrinkles had gone away, replaced by a smile and a toothy grin, and inspired by my love for chocolates. ‘Tis was truly an exciting, sweet and lovely read!

NOTE: I received this ARC courtesy of Tule Publishing through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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: 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: 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?

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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.”

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