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: Broken English by Marita A. Hansen

Broken English (Broken Lives #1)
by Marita A. Hansen

For me, the name Dante conjured up two images. The first was the epic depictions of Hell from Dante’s Inferno, with people burning for their sins. The second image was a sexual depiction. I don’t know where it came from, but as far back as I can remember, I had always associated the name Dante with a beautiful and sexy man. I’d imagined a dark-haired, dark-eyed, gorgeous lothario, the type who could capture a woman’s heart with just one look. Dante was the Fabio of my generation, the heartthrob that got women’s hearts beating fast, made us want this man to rip our clothes off and to throw us onto the bed.

Little did I know that the Dante that walked into my life was very different from the one I’d imagined. Oh, he was dark-haired, dark-eyed, gorgeous, even a lothario … just … he wasn’t a man. Instead, he was someone who was going to send me to the Hell his namesake had written about.

And I was his teacher.

I don’t know what to feel after reading this book. While I am OK with teacher-student relationship, something that most people disagree or frown upon, I am NOT OK with husbands or wives cheating on their spouses. I am sorry but I wasn’t just feeling it even if the other party’s feelings are so strong and intense. Just No.

When I got Broken English via Netgalley, I just looked at the synopsis and thought, “hmm a teacher-student love affair, now this I gotta read.” Because, who wouldn’t like forbidden love stories, right? But as I perused the book and got to know the characters, Dante specifically, I cringe so much I thought my face would remain twisted forever. I get it, Dante was gorgeous, he may only be a boy (15 years old to be exact) but have had experienced so many hardships in life. Drugs, alcohol, sexual abuse, incest, mental illness, just to name a few. I knew where his hatred and angst were coming from. I understood him yes.

But Clara Hatton, the English teacher he’d come to admire and fantasize, was another story. She. Was. Married. She was his teacher, I had no problem with that, but she was effing married to a very understanding guy.

The ending was kind of expected, so I wasn’t that much surprised to say the least. Promising, yes, but will I read Broken Lives part 2? Well, let’s just wait and see..

 

 

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: Here and Gone by Haylen Beck

Here and Gone
by Haylen Beck

Here and Gone is a gripping, wonderfully tense suspense thriller about a mother’s desperate fight to recover her stolen children from corrupt authorities.. It begins with a woman fleeing through Arizona with her kids in tow, trying to escape an abusive marriage. When she’s pulled over by an unsettling local sheriff, things soon go awry and she is taken into custody. Only when she gets to the station, her kids are gone. And then the cops start saying they never saw any kids with her, that if they’re gone than she must have done something with them… Meanwhile, halfway across the country a man hears the frenzied news reports about the missing kids, which are eerily similar to events in his own past. As the clock ticks down on the search for the lost children, he too is drawn into the desperate fight for their return.

This was devastatingly heart breaking and heart pounding. The kind of thriller and mystery and suspense that would grip your heart, make you sweat out of fear and tremble during sleepless nights, be shocked how something as trivial as missing kids could wreak havoc to your way of thinking. That was everything I felt while reading Here and Gone. I thought I wouldn’t wake up from a nightmare.

One moment I was here with my Kindle, sipping coffee and tipping my eyeglasses up on my nose and before I knew it, my mind had gone astray and my heart stopped for this woman who only wanted nothing more than finding her kids who were stolen from her after a car arrest.

The characters, distraught mother Audra Kinney who escaped New York with her children, Sean and Louise, had captivated my heart. They’d been tangled up in a web of conspiracy and sick people who would do unimaginable evil. When she was arrested for possible drug possession, her kids were taken away from her and were deemed missing the moment she was “jailed” by Officer Whiteside. And so began her long insufferable journey to finding Sean and Louise and proving to everybody that she was perfectly sane and harmless. Something that only Danny the Knife Boy believed.

The story had been a roller-coaster one, gripping, terrifying, eye-popping. I couldn’t stop until it was finished. And when I got hold of my sane self, I almost choked out of breath and never wished to experience those moments again. My eyes cried out for Audra and my heart bled for her kids. That’s how emotional and intense this story had been.

All hail Haylen Beck for a remarkable first novel! A definite heart-stopping one from beginning to end!

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

 

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.