Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Review: Hooked ~ Brenda Rothert

Brenda Rothert
Contemporary Romance
Loveswept/December 6, 2016

Miranda: Even though I’m broke, putting myself through college, and working two jobs, I’m trying to make the best of it. Meanwhile, Jake Birch, hockey’s hottest bad boy, lives in a luxury hotel in downtown Chicago—and still complains about every little thing in his penthouse. But after I tell him off, instead of getting me fired, Jake requests me as his personal housekeeper. Then he starts flirting with me. Only I’m not flirting back . . . at least, I’m trying not to. Did I mention that he’s hockey’s hottest bad boy?

Jake:  I’ve met the best woman at the worst possible time. Miranda is the fire to my ice—a sexy, charmingly candid spark who breaks down my walls and reminds me what it’s like to feel again. But I’m being forced to date my team owner’s daughter to keep my job, so I can’t be caught with Miranda. Still, we’re getting closer—until Miranda finds out about my “girlfriend.” And that’s not the only secret I’ve been keeping. But Miranda’s the one I want . . . even if she doesn’t believe me.

I've been into hockey heroes lately - with some excellent results! I love the premise of this romance. Hard working Miranda doesn't bow to hockey hero Jake's super sexy hotness. She's not denying his hotness, she's just not playing the part of super fangirl. Miranda shares her smartass attitude with Jake but he finds Miranda refreshing. I did too!

Their relationship has some major hurdles to overcome. They have to hide their relationship from everyone or else Miranda could loose her job. Jake offers to help her out financially but Miranda is a proud woman and doesn't want Jake's money to come between them. She likes him in spite of his wealth and his pickiness. In truth, he can be a real ass when it comes to having things exactly how he wants them. The big hurdle is the batshit crazy woman who wants Jake as her boyfriend. Unfortunately, she is the daughter of the team owner. This woman made me feel sorry for Jake and considering how he met her, that's saying a lot. She was about to go down on him, they were interrupted and later, he didn't remember her name. Manslut thy name is Jake. But, he is different with Miranda. He's smart enough to know she's worth making some serious changes to his life and leaving his manwhore ways behind.

Jake was a better person after meeting Miranda. It's cliché but it worked well in this story. And while there are points when Miranda and Jake should have talked things out instead of keeping quiet, they still acted like mature adults, which can be incredibly refreshing. Characters acting their age, yes please! The way Jake and Miranda's relationship develops is believable even though they come from different worlds and must hide their relationship.

This is my first novel by Ms. Rothert but certainly won't be my last. And as luck would have it, she has a lovely backlist with more on the way!

Rating: B+

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Review: The Hook Up ~ Kristen Callihan

The Hook Up
Kristen Callihan
Contemporary Romance/New Adult
Plain Jane Books/September 7, 2014
Game On/Book 1

The rules: no kissing on the mouth, no staying the night, no telling anyone, and above all… No falling in love.

Anna Jones just wants to finish college and figure out her life. Falling for star quarterback Drew Baylor is certainly not on her to do list. Confident and charming, he lives in the limelight and is way too gorgeous for his own good. If only she could ignore his heated stares and stop thinking about doing hot and dirty things with him. Easy right?

Too bad he’s committed to making her break every rule…

Football has been good to Drew. It’s given him recognition, two National Championships, and the Heisman. But what he really craves is sexy yet prickly Anna Jones. Her cutting humor and blatant disregard for his fame turns him on like nothing else. But there’s one problem: she's shut him down. Completely.That is until a chance encounter leads to the hottest sex of their lives, along with the possibility of something great. Unfortunately, Anna wants it to remain a hook up. Now it’s up to Drew to tempt her with more: more sex, more satisfaction, more time with him. Until she’s truly hooked. It's a good thing Drew knows all about winning.All’s fair in love and football…Game on.

So happy I picked this one up! I've been into sports romances lately, but hockey has been the game of choice. But I read and enjoyed Kristen Callihan's Idol and Managed novels so she has now gone my to-read list. So while these heroes are not hockey players, football is still better than baseball. Or golf. I don't think I've ever seen a pro-golf hero/heroine story.

This is a new adult but really, the new adult novels I've read are only different in that the characters are college age. There is explicit sex so other than the age and location, this might as well be an adult contemporary. And not all of the books in the series are new adult. The characters graduate from college and go on to their adult lives. So if you think new adult is now for you, don't let that designation stop you from checking out this series.

Star football player and quarterback, Drew Baylor is good looking, smart and a decent guy. Almost too good to be true. And when he sets his sights on Anna Jones, she doesn't believe his interest is genuine. She doesn't think she's his type. She's not a cheerleader, nor a tall, slim model type. Anna has the looks of a sexy pinup of the 50's. Which works well for Drew. Their chemistry is enough to set off alarms and their snarky banter made me laugh out loud.

While Anna says she only wants a hook-up, Drew is of a different mind. He wants Anna. Period. Sure, he wants the hot sex. He's a guy. But he also wants that relationship that Anna is so against. So Drew decides to change Anna's mind. I loved these two together! Yes, I got frustrated with Anna and even Drew, but they are such a cute couple! I couldn't help but root for them.

This wouldn't be a sports romance without the ball players. Drew's teammates are players. But they're also good friends to him, like brothers. I enjoyed the dynamics of these guys. They tease each other mercilessly but they'll also be there for each other, no matter what.

This isn't all fun and games. I was pleasantly surprised at how emotional the story was. Both Drew and Anna have been through tough times and they are still in for some emotional damage that they survive and become stronger for it. After finishing The Hook Up, I headed straight into The Friend Zone, book two in the series. And guess what I read after I finished The Friend Zone? Yep! The Game Plan!  Highly recommend this addictive series. I only hope we don't have to wait too long for the next book!

Rating: B+

Game On Series~

The Hook Up
The Friend Zone
The Game Plan

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

ARC Review: Wild Horse Springs

Wild Horse Springs
Jodi Thomas
Contemporary Romance
Ransom Canyon/Book 5
Harlequin Books/January 24, 2017

In the heart of Ransom Canyon, sometimes the right match for a lonely soul is the one you least expect. 

Dan Brigman may not lead the most exciting life, but he's proud of what he's achieved: he's a respected lawman, and he's raised a bright, talented daughter on his own. But finding a lone, sparkly blue boot in the middle of a deserted highway gets him thinking maybe the cowgirl who lost it is exactly the shake-up he needs.

After losing her baby girl, Brandi Malone felt like her soul died along with her daughter. Now singing in small-town bars to make ends meet, she's fine being a drifter until a handsome sheriff makes her believe that parking her boots under his bed is a better option.

College grad Lauren Brigman has just struck out on her own in downtown Dallas when a troubling phone call leads her back home to Crossroads. Her hometown represents her family, friends and deepest hopes, but also her first love, Lucas Reyes. Will Lauren's homecoming be another heartbreak, or a second chance for her and Lucas?

I've said it before, reading Ms. Thomas' stories are like coming home. They are filled with wonderful characters who feel like family and good friends the more you read about them. The newest addition to the Ransom Canyon series is no different. Wild Horse Springs catches up with some familiar characters while introducing a few new ones as well.

As previous novels in the series did, Wild Horse Springs doesn't solely focus on one story line but starts new plots as well as following up with established story lines. Some plots grab my attention more than others but I always leave satisfied when I am finished.

Sheriff Dan Brigman has been there since the beginning. He's been a stable, intelligent figure lending his control and experience to help his community. Sheriff Dan enjoys his life, even if it is rather predicable. Then he makes one small change and he could not have predicted the effect it would have on his life. I liked seeing Dan, in essence, come out of his shell. We get to see more of the man behind the lawman.  And this is a romance so it's no surprise the change in Dan's life is caused by a woman.

Leaving your old life behind and starting fresh somewhere else. It's a romantic notion, one many of us have most likely had at one time or another. But the romance ends when that leaving is brought about by tragedy. This is the case for Brandi Malone. Brandi is running from her tragedy but it continues to follow her. She has no desire to settle in any one place so she keeps moving. Then she meets a man with a boot, her boot.

I loved how Dan and Brandi's meeting came about. How Dan envisioned what the owner of the boot might be like. And how pleased he was when he met Brandi. I did like their romance but at the same time, I found myself more drawn to what was happening between Lauren, Tim and Lucas. Or perhaps I should say what might happen with Lauren and Lucas. Their intertwined relationships have been going on for so long, it is almost as if they will never be fully resolved. But... I have hope that the next book will have Lauren and Lucas back together. Please.

Thatcher Jones. Just saying his name makes me smile. He's such a likable character. I dare you not to like him. He has this way of speaking his mind that is so refreshing. His outlook on life is different from the other characters because of his rough upbringing.  Thatcher has this solemness about him. He has such a strong sense of right and wrong. For all his "country boy" charms, he also has this air of nobility. I can't wait to see more of Thatcher in future books.

And then there's Cody Winslow. He lives on the edge. On the edge of town and on the edge of life. He is rescued from his lonely existence by some of the most unlikely heroines. Yes, that's heroines, plural. Cody's life is turned upside down and inside out. And it turns out, he's okay with that. This romance was such a treasure to read. The characters of Cody and Tess are an entertaining mix of lonesome cowboy and take charge park ranger. I loved how their relationship started with Tessa saving Cody and basically taking over his life. While Cody is busy feeding the local gossip mill. Things get a little out of control but Cody and Tess work it all out and give the town even more to talk about.

Wild Horse Springs is small town romance set in a charming town with enjoyable characters that leave the reader wanting to come back for more.

Rating: B+

Ransom Canyon ~

Winter Camp (novella)
Ransom Canyon
Rustler's Moon
Lone Heart Pass
Sunrise Crossing
Wild Horse Springs