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The Charmer by Avery Flynn

Posted in Advanced Reader Copy/ Chick Lit/ Contemporary Romance/ Netgalley/ Reviews 16th September 2017
The Charmer by Avery FlynnThe Charmer by Avery Flynn
Published by Entangled: Select Contemporary on September 25th 2017
Pages: 212
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two-stars

Hot, filthy rich, and usually irresistible, Hudson Carlyle just met the one woman in Harbor City who’s immune to his legendary charm. Nerdy ant researcher Felicia Hartigan is the unsexiest dresser ever. She trips over air. And she’s in love with totally the wrong man. Hudson can’t stop thinking about her.

His regular moves won’t work here. He’s going to need a new plan, starting with helping her win over the man she thinks she wants. And if in the process she ends up falling for Hudson instead? Even better. Step one, charm her panties off. Step two, repeat step one as frequently as possible.

But what if the famous Carlyle charm finally fails him when he needs it most? Or worse, what if she figures out the one secret he’s kept from everyone, including his family, and walks away for good?

It’s evident from the beginning that ‘The Charmer’ is like a flip-off to the brother’s best-friend trope, a twist which is in itself, an interesting though tricky one. I don’t know why books that involve academics/geeks/researchers or brainy protagonists appeal so much, but they do. The moment I saw ‘Ant researcher’ in the blurb, I was quite sold on reading this, but was disappointed when it didn’t quite turn out the way I’d hoped.

Yet it’s somewhat slow going though and it was strangely hard to buy into Felicia and Hudson as a couple, particularly since there were several layers of deception, a ton of denial as well as instances of molehills being made mountains which, as staples of the rom-com, should have made me laugh but didn’t. Instead, both Felicia and Hudson were clichéd in the ways that define romantic comedy: the geeky, awkward woman with the tendency to say inappropriate (but apparently adorkable) things and the smarmy, cocky, smug manwhore millionaire who never needed help getting notches on his bedpost yet is strangely attracted to the ‘plainer’ one who is wary of him. Not only did I struggle to get past these stereotypes, I also found myself becoming as frustrated by Felicia’s inability to decide what or whom she really wanted as I was with Hudson’s inability to own what he does as well as his general dishonesty with Felicia—whom he’d never intended to end up with Tyler anyway despite his so-called help.

Their steamy scenes weren’t really the problem—Avery Flynn writes them scorching enough—only that those actually faded into the background and mattered less simply because the bottom-line was that I couldn’t get invested in Felicia and Hudson together with a whole farcical setup that was really leading nowhere for most of the story. I ended up skimming the last half of ’The Charmer’, interested only to see how it all blew up between them before the grovelling began. Unfortunately, I’m going to say that this isn’t a book for me at all.

two-stars

The Negotiator by Avery Flynn

Posted in Advanced Reader Copy/ Chick Lit/ Contemporary Romance/ Netgalley/ Reviews 20th April 2017
The Negotiator by Avery FlynnThe Negotiator by Avery Flynn
Published by Entangled Publishing, LLC (Select Contemporary) on April 24th 2017
Pages: 315
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three-stars

Wanted: Personal Buffer
Often snarly, workaholic executive seeks “buffer” from annoying outside distractions AKA people. Free spirits with personal boundary issues, excessive quirks, or general squeamishness need not apply. Salary negotiable. Confidentiality required.
Workaholic billionaire Sawyer Carlyle may have joked he needed a “buffer” from their marriage-obsessed mom, but he didn’t need a waiting room filled with “candidates” to further distract him. (Thanks, bro.) But when a sexy job applicant shooes his mom and the socialite in tow out of his office, Sawyer sees the genius of the plan. And the woman. In fact, Miss Clover Lee might just get the fastest promotion in history, from buffer to fake fiancé…
This “free-spirit” might look like hot sunshine and lickable rainbows, but she negotiates like a pitbull. Before Sawyer knows what hit him, he’s agreed to give up Friday nights for reality tv, his Saturdays for flea markets (why buy junk still baffles him), his Tuesdays and Thursdays for “date nights” (aka panty-losing opportunities if he plays his cards right). And now she wants lavender bath salts and tulips delivered every Monday?
Yup, she’s just screwing with him. Good thing she’s got this non-negotiatable six-weeks-and-she’s-gone rule or Sawyer may have just met this match…

A workaholic billionaire needs to keep his mother off his heels, especially when the search for a wife gets tiring, tedious and damn inconvenient. The solution? A personal buffer, an off-the-cuff job ad that brings the unlikeliest of candidates to his office and into his life, in an effort to throw off the women his snooty mother keeps shoving at him.

From a personal buffer (sounds like a flaky job opening I’d probably apply for after losing my life’s calling) to a hurried, fake engagement, Clover Lee’s quirky, non-committal, flighty and adventure-seeking ways are given a complete hose-down when faced (literally) with a brick wall who’s quite the stick-in-the-mud about routines and business. Her weird demands teach Sawyer Carlyle a different kind of spontaneity, but then Clover also has a lesson coming for her as she manipulates her way through his money to pay for her next adventure in Australia.

Clover’s calculating edge and well, her blindness to her own family needs weren’t quite so likeable—I was a few paces away from wondering about her being a gold-digger—but it’s basically a story where the hero has a lot more to learn from life than the heroine somehow. The grovelling happens because Sawyer speaks of partnerships and business but can’t seem to understand love and connection, though I didn’t quite think Clover should have been exempt from meeting him halfway.

While not entirely unpredictable, ‘The Negotiator’s got the jaunty tone of rom-coms, that snort-laugh type of jokes (which definitely places you in entertaining fictional la-la-land), the instant attraction and lust metre amped up to max and some kind of comic timing that makes it a fun read. It’s also an easy one to get through, perfect for a lazy afternoon.

three-stars

Hot on Ice: A Hockey Romance Anthology

Posted in Advanced Reader Copy/ Chick Lit/ Contemporary Romance/ Reviews/ Sports 1st March 2017
Hot on Ice: A Hockey Romance AnthologyHot on Ice: A Hockey Romance Anthology by Avery Flynn, Robin Covington, Kimberly Kincaid, Nana Malone, Virginia Nelson, Xio Axelrod, Christi Barth, Andie J. Christopher, Kim Golden, Lena Hart, Desiree Holt, Robin Kaye, Katie Kenyhercz, Heather Long, Kate Meader, Angi Morgan, Susan Scott Shelley, Misty D. Waters
Series: Chicago Rebels #0.5
Published by Avery Flynn on March 21st 2017
Pages: 1800
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three-stars

Get ready to fall in love with the smokin’ hot hockey players of the New Orleans Cajun Rage. After this season’s Cinderella run all the way to the Finals, these heroes have won the Cup—and now your heart is the goal.

‘Hot on Ice’ follows every single team member of the fictional New Orleans Cajun Rage after they’ve won the coveted cup and how the cup, like some magical catalyst, helps bring them get to their HEA that some feel (rightly so, to be honest) they don’t deserve. By the end of the book, I found it somewhat amusing that entire hockey team has found love, as though the cup has helped guaranteed success in their love lives as well.

Like every anthology, the quality of writing varies quite significantly and it can be quite an experience sorting through all of them, like finding gems in a huge haystack. There were some stories that I enjoyed (and found believable) more than others because of the stylish and more sophisticated way of writing, as well as how well some authors handled the typical romance tropes in them. Some others, well…I did find them cringeworthy.

The ARC I received felt like it was in its ‘developmental’ stage though; the formatting didn’t always work in my laptop or my e-reader (I don’t use a Kindle, maybe that’s why) for several chapters and there is still some editing work (grammar/spelling, for instance) that needs to be done to make the final version a more polished one.

*ARC kindly given by the authors
(always grateful, mind)

three-stars

Her Enemy Protector by Avery Flynn

Posted in Advanced Reader Copy/ Contemporary Romance/ Mystery/Crime/ Netgalley/ Reviews/ Romantic Suspense 6th October 2016
Her Enemy Protector by Avery FlynnHer Enemy Protector by Avery Flynn
Series: Tempt Me #2
Published by Entangled Publishing on November 14th 2016
Pages: 220
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three-stars

By-the-book secret agent Lucas Bendtsen will do anything to keep his country safe—even if that means blackmailing the stepdaughter of a notorious mobster who is about to sell guns to a group of terrorists. The plan? He'll pose as her fiancé in order to access her stepfather's guarded compound and find out the location of the arms deal. The problem? Despite her reputation as a heartless femme fatale, Ruby Macintosh is not at all what she seems.
Only a fool would double-cross the Organization, but Ruby doesn't have any choice—not if she's going to save her brother and mother from her stepfather. So she places her life in the hands of a man who turns her on as much as he ticks her off…
The fake engagement may be the beginning of a high-stakes game of subterfuge, but when their hearts get involved, Lucas has to decide whether to break the rules or break Ruby's heart.

This started out very…odd. Jarring to say the least because of the strange fictional place it’s set in—somewhere in the Atlantic, nearer Scandinavia than North America that’s a monarchy—which I couldn’t get my head around at all because it sort of straddles some alternate universe that’s still supposed to be contemporary enough that I should be able to relate to it.

Fictional geography and made-up countries aside, ‘Her Enemy Protector’ champions instant love, or at least, combustible lust where body parts either constantly leak fluids or tighten uncomfortably against clothes. But it also offers loads of James Bond-esque type of suspense where both leads jump straight into hard, fast action with an equally quick though not entirely believable resolution of a fairy-tale end after the conflict. It’s like reading a jumble of the Princess Dairies, Bond and Ethan Hunt who work together to stop an arms-deal while wedding planning—a ruse as it may be—goes on in the background. There are some inconsistencies, especially with appearance and Scandinavian-ish names and places, but if you can get past that, it does offer some good entertainment.

three-stars

Designed for Murder by Avery Flynn

Posted in Advanced Reader Copy/ Contemporary Romance/ Mystery/Crime/ Netgalley/ Reviews/ Romantic Suspense 23rd October 2015
Designed for Murder by Avery FlynnDesigned for Murder by Avery Flynn
Series: Killer Style #4
Published by Entangled: Ignite on November 9th 2015
Pages: 163
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three-stars

Mika Ito combines her two favorite things in life—textile design and live-action role-playing (LARP)—by creating costumes for her fellow Magic Battledome gamers. Lately, someone's been assaulting LARPers and stealing their costumes. Concerned for the safety of her friends, Mika hires Maltese Security...only to discover that the lead investigator is the super-hot stranger she just hooked up with.
Carlos Castillo is all too familiar with Magic Battledome. A former legend in role-playing circles, he was all about gaming, until things went very, very wrong for him. Now he's forced to return to the game undercover—as Mika's boyfriend—to find some answers. Only playing “boyfriend” with his gorgeous one-night stand is more temptation than a guy can withstand...
Someone wants the costumes enough to kill for them. And when it comes to murder, nothing is what it seems...
Each book in the Killer Style series is a standalone, full-length story that can be enjoyed out of order. Series Order:Book #1 High-heeled WonderBook #2 This Year's BlackBook #3 Make Me UpBook #4 Designed for Murder

Costume and textile designer Mika Ito finds herself unwittingly caught in a drug scheme involving fabric…and who better to investigate this matter than a one-night stand that she’d never expected to see again? Forced into the case because of his background, Carlos Castillo runs from his own demons and is forced to face them again with a woman whom he can’t resist. It’s a disaster waiting to happen, especially when feelings start to get in the mix of things, despite both Carlos’s and Mika’s vehement denial of them.

Did I buy them as a convincing couple? Not exactly – between Carlos’s inability to decide between self-castigation for a troubled past and moving forward and Mika’s impulsiveness to the point of stupidity while trying to pass it off as determination to keep others safe, I’d started to think they were really better off apart. But Avery Flynn’s very engaging writing somewhat mitigates the lack of enthusiasm I had for the protagonists at least; there is action aplenty, copious amounts of sex (which I felt was unnecessary) and a fresh take on LARPing – something I’ve never really known about until this – so it’s an education in itself.

three-stars

Trouble on Tap by Avery Flynn

Posted in Chick Lit/ Contemporary Romance/ Military/Paramilitary/ Reviews 14th July 2015
Trouble on Tap by Avery FlynnTrouble on Tap by Avery Flynn
Series: Sweet Salvation Brewery #3
Published by Avery Flynn on June 12th 2015
Pages: 192
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four-stars

What fun is life without a little bit of trouble? Retired supermodel and forever wild child Olivia Sweet is nothing but trouble. The youngest Sweet triplet is back in her hometown, but instead of a triumphant return it's a parade of humiliations. She's broke, homeless and dealing with the fallout from her scumbag ex-boyfriend publishing naked pictures of her to a revenge porn website. Staid and stalwart veteran Mateo Garcia has seen more trouble than a man ever should in his lifetime. He's gone from pretty boy Marine to a small town police chief with a chip on his shoulder and scars covering the left side of his face. Now his former lover, Olivia, is back in town and living next door. When the two are forced to work together to fix up the crumbling veterans' center, the sparks fly between the beauty and the man who sees himself as a beast. Not everyone is happy that Olivia is back home though and Mateo has to choose between the town who wants her gone and an uncertain future with a woman who he thinks could never love him...

Olivia and Mateo have history – of the hot and steamy kind. But an over-confident Mateo chucked Olivia away when she wanted more three years ago and shortly after, a horrific accident turned him from callous cad to grouchy, scarred arse who does everything in his power to turn everyone from him. Back in her hometown with her tail between her legs, even Olivia has her limits when it comes to his god-awful behaviour. But as volatile as their relationship is, you get the sense that tipping point isn’t far away and that maybe…just maybe…love just can’t quite conquer all after all.

‘Trouble on Tap’ certainly packs the biggest emotional punch of all three books, providing more nuanced insights into Olivia and Mateo that make this book more enthralling than Miranda’s or Natalie’s stories. But I thought the emotional scales were tipped in Olivia’s favour; Avery Flynn writes in a way that draws the reader’s sympathies to her, whether incidentally or not. But that was achieved a little too well, because I felt Mateo acted like an underserving arse for three-quarters of the story and hadn’t really done much at the end to counter the hurt he’d dished out to Olivia over the past three years.

With the obligatory big moment of revelation that most male leads have in this genre after someone knocks sense into them, why then, weren’t these revelatory thoughts made privy and publicly known to Olivia in his haste to win her back? With an ending that seemed glossed over, the Sweets’ collective HEA was just merely satisfactory, maybe because I was still waiting for some indication that Olivia had gotten (with surety) what she really deserved

four-stars
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