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69 Million Things I hate about You by Kira Archer

Posted in Advanced Reader Copy/ Chick Lit/ Contemporary Romance/ Netgalley/ Reviews 10th September 2017
69 Million Things I hate about You by Kira Archer69 Million Things I Hate About You by Kira Archer
Series: Winning the Billionaire #1
Published by Entangled: Indulgence on October 9th 2017
Pages: 257
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three-stars

After personal assistant Kiersten Abbott wins sixty-nine million dollars in the lotto, she suddenly has more than enough money to quit her impossibly demanding job. But where’s the fun in that? She decides to stay and exact a little revenge on her insufferable ass of a boss.

Billionaire Cole Harrington quickly figures out something’s afoot with his usually agreeable personal assistant. When he finds out about the office pool betting on how long it’ll take him to fire her, he decides to spice things up and see how far he can push her until she quits.

The game is on, with everyone waiting to see who will crack first. But the bet sparks a new dynamic between them, and soon they realize they just might have crossed that fine line between hate and love.

“69 Million Things I hate about You” doesn’t exactly cast romantic comedy in a new light, but its inventive, unique premise drew me to this immediately. After all, who wouldn’t want that sweet revenge on a demanding, serial-model-dater of a boss that piles you with nothing but stress and no time off?

I liked the tit-for-tat vibe, the oneupmanship that Kiersten and Cole got going the moment it was obvious that she was going to get back at him for the hard time he gave her for the past few months. But some of the games did veer towards the ridiculous/childish even as Cole put a different spin on Kiersten’s efforts to thwart him when he beat her at her own game.

Clearly, it’s all formulaic rom-com from here onwards as the stakes get higher and higher until it becomes clear that this holding pattern would break somehow, so shut down the nagging idea that having money allows you to do whatever the hell you want as both Cole and Kiersten cross over into the outlandish and give each other a hard to harder time. It’s a read that’s after all, fun though not entirely believable (I had a bit of difficulty making that leap from Cole’s and Kiersten’s pranks to their falling in love) yet adventurous in a way that makes it stick out in a long line of books.

three-stars

The Bachelor’s Promise by Naima Simone

Posted in Advanced Reader Copy/ Chick Lit/ Contemporary Romance/ Netgalley/ Reviews 15th August 2016
The Bachelor’s Promise by Naima SimoneThe Bachelor's Promise by Naima Simone
Series: Bachelor Auction #3
Published by Entangled: Indulgence on August 29th 2016
Pages: 251
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four-stars

Aiden Kent never expected to see Noelle Rana again. He’s determined to keep his distance from the beautiful enigma wrapped in denim and leather. He can’t trust anyone with the last name Rana. But he made a promise to his dying mother, and it isn't long before Noelle invades his personal space. He can't stop thinking about the exotic beauty's alluring curves.
He wants the daughter of his enemy, and he’s determined to have her…if only for one night.
If Noelle wants to move forward with her life, she must make a deal with the devastatingly gorgeous, broody millionaire Aiden. He made a promise years ago, and she’s come to collect—even if it means facing down the only man who ever broke her heart. And there's a really good chance he'll do it again.

There are too many shades of a Judith McNaught romance that accompanied me throughout this read: the dark, tortured hero screwed over by those he’d trusted and the virgin heroine who’d become the scourge of his existence, the simmering tension, the fraught history and the huge climax that typically involves a screw-up and massive grovelling.

But I do think Naima Simone does pull it off, in what feels like a regency romance superimposed on contemporary Boston as the whole drama between impoverished woman and self-made millionaire plays out.

We caught a glimpse of Aiden in the first Bachelor Auction book (and this starts with one yet again) and his story is almost a mirror-image of Lucas’s one, where a woman from his past comes and asks for money years after he’d cut her out of his life. It’s not quite a rags-to-riches story; neither is it one where a rich guy takes in a street urchin, but one where domestic troubles have led to the estrangement of two people who’d once been close.

Simone has a way of writing into the heart of her characters and I found myself liking Noelle in fact (a lot more than Aiden at least), whose only crime is her last name and the godawful family that she’s associated with. That Aiden continued to paint her into a corner with that paintbrush was fully on him; I liked how Noelle hadn’t manipulated her way into his life again, nor had she done anything that hadn’t already played into his suspicion with a family that had betrayed him in every way.

The share of the blame lies on Aiden’s shoulders, which is a typical ending scenario of his own doing and personally, gratifying to read especially after that sort of self-righteous behaviour he’d displayed through most of the story. My only complaint is the very quick resolution and Noelle’s even quicker forgiveness – especially for someone who’d constantly tagged her as guilty until proven innocent – which seemed to have short-changed that tumultuous relationship which I felt needed more than a simple apology, a declaration of love from Aiden and a session of body painting.

four-stars

His Heart’s Revenge by Jenny Holiday

Posted in Contemporary Romance/ Reviews 23rd July 2016
His Heart’s Revenge by Jenny HolidayHis Heart's Revenge by Jenny Holiday
Series: 49th Floor #4
Published by Entangled: Indulgence on June 20th 2016
Pages: 210
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four-stars

Alexander Evangelista is a millionaire with all the trappings: houses all over the world and hot guys lined up whenever he’s in need of some no-strings-attached company. He's on his way to world domination.
A CEO in his own right, Cary Bell is competing for a major client with his boyhood crush. He’s never forgiven himself for betraying Alex. But with his professional reputation on the line, he’s going to have to find his inner cutthroat if he wants his new company to succeed.
Alex isn’t about to let his nemesis steal a client out from under him. It’s time to break Cary’s company—and his heart.

‘His Heart’s Revenge’ revolves around a thoughtless act two decades ago set two people on very different paths that forked then converged again in a high-stakes meeting. Alex’s and Cary’s tenuous friendship was shattered during a summer camp and since then, both have suffered in their own way. Their reunion – as somewhat laughable as it is to think that they never quite forgot their 2-decade old love – is hostile, yet fraught with tension as they inevitably slip into enjoying the chemistry that they’ve always had together.

The draw of this book really, was Jenny Holiday’s characters who circled each other like sharks and then went down like wildly, complete with metaphors and awful innuendos that had me laughing at the most inappropriate times. Alex’s journey from quiet teen to ruthless corporate banker is charted out with so much sensitivity that I couldn’t help but feel sorry for him; at the same time, Cary’s genuineness is just as appealing when it becomes clear that he simply made a stupid but monumental mistake with Alex when they were teens. It’s simply unfortunate that his words had such power to change the course of Alex’s life drastically.

Picky as I am about M/M romance, there are times when I stumble across one that’s a keeper and ‘His Heart’s Revenge’ is probably one of those, even as a standalone when it’s clear that this is part of a series with. Holiday’s assured and persuasive writing simply reminds me of the primary element that I find compelling about this specific genre of fiction and strangely enough, it doesn’t have anything to do with the sex scenes at all: the way men behave with each other as they struggle with their emotions because it’s always enjoyable to have something so different from the push/pull elements of M/F romance. And because I felt as though I couldn’t say goodbye to Alex and Cary by the end of the book, that was when I knew Holiday had done it right.

four-stars

Wrecked by Sherilee Gray

Posted in Advanced Reader Copy/ Chick Lit/ Contemporary Romance/ Netgalley/ Reviews 23rd December 2015
Wrecked by Sherilee GrayWrecked by Sherilee Gray
Series: Axle Alley Vipers #3
Published by Entangled: Indulgence on February 8th 2016
Pages: 265
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four-stars

He's driving her crazy...
Piper West is finally on her own, and it's time to get crazy. Except that her overprotective big bro has enlisted his ex-cop best friend to keep an eye on his baby sister. With every move monitored and reported back, Piper's life has gone from "going crazy" to "being driven crazy." But a searing-hot kiss with her sexy and scarred watchdog is just the game-changer she needs...
Cole Black owes Piper's brother big-time, but there's nothing easy about his new assignment. Piper is all feisty sexiness and curves meant to tempt a man beyond reason, and Cole can't stop himself. Now he's caught up in a hunger like nothing he's ever known, and he can't get enough...
Even if Piper's the one girl he's not allowed to have.

Piper West’s road to independence hasn’t been more smoothly paved, now that her sister and best friend have moved out and into their new lives with their other halves. Except for the tiny thorn in her arse called Cole Black, the guy she’s always wanted and will always want.

But being the (most) deluded male that the men of Sherilee Gray’s very excellent Axle Alley series tend to be, Cole’s struggle with survival guilt somehow extends to everything else in his life, especially Piper and proves to be the only major obstacle that neither can really overcome. The cramp in Piper’s style – and the final straw – comes from her overbearing big brother, who insists that Cole watches over her, a move that inadvertently turns both Cole and Piper both into drooling, straining idiots whose clothes you know will eventually get shredded when the tension finally boils over.

It’s hard not to like sassy, spunky Piper, whose hilarious ways of pushing her brother’s best friend over the edge made me laugh and cheer for her, even if this is a well-worn trope that has been employed till kingdom come. That never-say-die, indefatigable hope that she’s full of (and not appearing too needy while at it) won me over immediately and while Cole’s tortured ways do yank some emotional chains, I must say again, that the girls, in Sherilee Grey’s universe, come out top.

four-stars

The Millionaire Makeover by Naima Simone

Posted in Advanced Reader Copy/ Chick Lit/ Contemporary Romance/ Netgalley/ Reviews 23rd December 2015
The Millionaire Makeover by Naima SimoneThe Millionaire Makeover by Naima Simone
Series: Bachelor Auction, #2
Published by Entangled: Indulgence on February 8th 2016
Pages: 204
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three-stars

Plain-Jane computer programmer Khloe Richardson needs a date—one to make the prince of her dreams jealous. Maybe then he'll finally see her as a desirable swan and not the ugly duckling in the second office from the left.
But when she bids on a bachelor at a charity auction, the man she wins is millionaire Niall Hunter—who once made intense, passionate love to her and then left without a word. She's determined not to let her guard down again—among other things—around the infamous Irish lothario.
Niall never imagined his penance for one hot-as-hell night with his best friend’s little sister would be transforming her from a shy wallflower to a sultry siren. Helping her attract another man is torture...especially when he promised his friend he’d stay away. Plus, she wants forever, and he's not a forever kind of guy. But Niall can't stop wanting her. Can't stop touching her. Can't stop, period. And damn if he can remember why he has to...

A take on the brother’s best friend-Cinderella story, ‘The Millionaire Makeover’ is sort of a typical read from Naima Simone: confidently executed, with left-field exaggerated analogies and metaphors and turn-of-phrases that do dig deep into the romance genre’s exploration of need, want and that time can do to emotional scars.

Yet, as tantalising as this formula is in the hands of a talented author is, I’m left however, sitting on the fence when it comes to the H/hr in question. Niall Hunter is too much of a dislikable protagonist for me; his callous, jaded and cynical manner overwhelm any redeeming qualities that he might have displayed at the very end of the book, but for some inexplicable reason, his apparent predatory manner, good looks and so-called tortured past prove enough to snare a somewhat spineless heroine whom I wish stood up more to him instead of melting into a lump of quivering flesh each time he stalks towards her. And when a character incites more anger rather than reader support, it is consequently near-impossible to bet on this guy whom I can’t honestly say deserves a HEA.

In all, a disappointment because of the rather gormless main characters, but what I felt redeemed the story was the secondary character called Morgan (who should rightly become a fan favourite), whose sneaky, devious but loyal ways made me wish that she had a story of her own to flaunt.

three-stars

Her Sworn Enemy by Theresa Meyers

Posted in Contemporary Romance/ Reviews 18th November 2015
Her Sworn Enemy by Theresa MeyersHer Sworn Enemy by Theresa Meyers
Series: Men of the Zodiac #12
Published by Entangled: Indulgence on December 7th 2015
Pages: 174
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three-stars

Money doesn’t matter when what you want is revenge.
Self-made millionaire and family black sheep Tucker McCormack has one goal—payback. He’s planning a hostile takeover of the McCormack empire, but his latest roadblock is too beautiful to resist…and she’s his brother’s ex.
Headstrong antiquities expert Belladonna Dupre has put every asset she has on the line to recover her family’s fortunes from a shipwreck in the Gulf of Mexico, but she needs a dive salvage operator to make it happen. Enter Tucker McCormack. He’s smart, good with his hands, and sexy as hell in a dive suit, but he demands joint credit for the discovery as a condition to work with her.
Bella won’t be bullied into giving up what’s rightly hers. Tuck won’t take no for an answer. It’s a battle on the high seas, where sparks fly, attraction smolders, and anything can happen.

The recovery of a (treasure-laden) shipwreck brings two desperate people for very different reasons: one who wishes to take down his illegitimate family’s corporate empire and another who needs the salvage badly after banking everything in her life to search for it. They clash almost immediately but the antagonism has more to do with claiming credit and splitting profits and once that is over, Bella and Tucker’s adventure on the high seas turns into something much more than just a recovery effort when emotions and the sheets get in the way.

I neither liked nor disliked Bella/Tucker as a couple; both were equally single-minded in their own pursuits, unyielding in some ways and stupid and flighty in others. Blinded by their own faults and personal history, their connection however, not matter how strong it is, just didn’t seem destined or convincing enough to last. But it was honestly hard to root for a pairing I didn’t feel to much about, even though the writing was good and the plot was interesting in the way it combined treasured hunting and the recovery business.

three-stars

Revved by Sherilee Gray

Posted in Advanced Reader Copy/ Chick Lit/ Contemporary Romance/ Erotica/ Netgalley/ New Adult/ Reviews 13th October 2015
Revved by Sherilee GrayRevved (Axle Alley Vipers #2) by Sherilee Gray
Series: Axle Alley Vipers #2
Published by Entangled: Indulgence on October 5th 2015
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four-stars

He'll rev her up and drive her to the edge...
Rusty West swore she was done with men. Instead, she channeled her passion into West Restoration, the car shop she runs with her best friend and sister. But Rusty's aloof composure fades when the owner of the competition comes striding into her shop, over six feet of sexy, rough-edged confidence...hot enough to send Rusty's motor into overdrive.
Reid Parker worked his ass off to get what he wants - and what he wants is West Restoration and its crew. He never expected to find a shop of all-female mechanics...or the stunning redhead who ignites a lust that threatens his cool. But Reid plays carefully. He never, ever gets involved with a woman beyond one night.
And no matter how hot the sparks, Rusty will never compromise her business for a man...

Once again, the Vipers of Axle Alley have me cheering for them. After reading Deacon’s and Alex’s story not long ago, I knew that the Axle Alley women had tales that I needed to get into…and soon. In what’s essentially a rivals-to-lovers story, Rusty West is forced to confront her own demons about relationships when Reid Parker strolls into her compound with the intention of buying her business out. It isn’t long before their personal issues come into play…and threaten to wipe out their fledgling relationship.

Written with lots of panache, Sherilee Gray channels Tessa Bailey and this is never more apparent in ‘Revved’, where the dirty-talking heroes – men who are obsessively possessive and barely keep themselves from falling off the chauvinistic edge – reign supreme, fall in love, screw up and grovel big time. But really, I’d say that ‘Revved’ is Rusty journey to her Happy Ever After and the strength and irrepressible attitudes of all the women here almost make the men inconsequential, even if the guy in question is Reid Parker, the tattooed and rough-around-the edges rival of West Restoration and the king of one-nighters. Rusty and Reid give each other the runaround a little too much though – the steamy scenes didn’t always seem completely necessary – and with a rather abrupt ending that was rather unsatisfying, I could only cheer myself up with the fact that there’s still Piper’s unfinished business with Cole to come.

four-stars
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