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Dear Jane by Marissa Clarke

Posted in Advanced Reader Copy/ Chick Lit/ Contemporary Romance/ Netgalley/ Reviews 19th December 2016
Dear Jane by Marissa ClarkeDear Jane by Marissa Clarke
Series: Animal Attraction #1
on January 9th 2017
Pages: 110
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three-stars

Jane Dixon is a dating disaster. Flammable tablecloths and broken arms are just a typical evening for her unlucky companions. No wonder Jane never gets past a first date. But luckily her co-worker and new bff says he’s got loads of friends who’d date her more than once. If only she could stop thinking about how much fun he was to hang out with. And she’d never dropped a bucket of ice on his junk. Win.

All attorney Eric Blackwell has to do to make junior partner is not screw anything up for six weeks, which seems like a slam dunk until he finds himself matchmaker to the office “One Date Wonder” aka the boss’s daughter. It’s hard to stay focused when setting up the hottest girl he’s ever met with everyone but himself. Maybe he could just set her up with all the wrong men, and keep his hands off his new friend… Yeah. His promotion is toast.

Short, cute and sweet story of a lawyers who find that they are missing something in their lives. There’s hardly any angst in there, except for some misunderstanding forming the bulk of the conflict/climax that seems to be part of the formula for romances.

I found myself liking Eric Blackwell a lot, especially with his supposed flaw of wanting to always be responsible and taking care of others at the expense of himself, while staying besotted the woman working a few doors down. It was cute seeing Jane Dixon (whose clumsy side does make her more endearing to readers) slowly reciprocating his feelings, even if there seemed to be a rather irrational moment on her part towards the end where I thought a lot more had to be done on her part given her impulsive outburst that Eric didn’t deserve at all.

Overall, it’s a cute holiday read that’s worth a couple of hours.

three-stars

Loving Her Crazy by Kira Archer

Posted in Chick Lit/ Contemporary Romance/ Reviews 11th June 2016
Loving Her Crazy by Kira ArcherLoving Her Crazy by Kira Archer
Series: Crazy Love #3
Published by Entangled: Lovestruck on January 18th 2016
Pages: 186
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one-star

Iris Clayton is supposed to be on a tropical island, soaking up the sun and a few dozen mojitos. Instead, she’s snowbound in Chicago overnight, holding out hope the morning flight isn’t cancelled. Good thing there’s a hot cowboy to keep her company. And it doesn’t hurt that Mr. Tall, Calm, and Sun-Streaked can make her tremble with one sultry look from under his well-worn hat.
Montana rancher Nash Wallace sucks at ice skating, has no clue what a selfie is, and may be a tad averse to breaking and entering, but being with Iris makes him want to bend a few rules. Or, hell, throw them out the window altogether. She’s fun, spontaneously crazy, and can rock a Muppet fur coat like no one’s business. He’s falling hard and fast, but wanting to spend his life with someone after one night is insane.
Except, nothing has ever felt so right, and neither of them wants the night to end…

Falling in love in 24 hours is probably a concept better suited to fiction and the movies, and I’m a firm believer that’s where it’ll stay. But ‘Loving Her Crazy’ pushes this this way further than I’m able to tolerate and even a believer in serendipitous meetings might find Iris’s and Nash’s story too much of a whirlwind to be believable.

I skipped chunks when I found out most of the book comprised activities they indulged in during their long layover and actually wondered about the ‘technical’ difficulties of sex in impossible and public places. Call me a cynic, but I think they fell in lust, caught up in the impossibility of the situation and each other, stretching even the definition of what I consider a dubious HEA pizza-crust thin.

I think I just blew an afternoon on a story that went nowhere.

one-star

Romancing the Ranger by Jennie Marts

Posted in Advanced Reader Copy/ Chick Lit/ Contemporary Romance/ Netgalley/ Reviews 25th January 2016
Romancing the Ranger by Jennie MartsRomancing the Ranger by Jennie Marts
Published by Entangled: Lovestruck on March 14th 2016
Pages: 180
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two-stars

Reese Hudson meant to destroy mementos from her last failed relationship, not burn down an outhouse and incur the wrath of a sexy park ranger. When the judge rejects her offer to pay for the structure and sentences her to rebuild it—with the hot ranger supervising—she embraces the challenge to take control of her life.
Park ranger Wade Baker wants nothing to do with the rich city girl, no matter how tempting he finds her lush curves. She’s too much like his ex-fiancée, and if he’s learned anything, it’s that women like Reese don’t fit into his world. And he sure as hell wants no part of her big city life.
Reese may not know a hammer from a screwdriver, but she’s working hard to prove she’s not just some pampered princess to be toyed with. And damn it if Wade doesn’t admire her tenacious spirit. If only they got along half as well outside the bedroom as they do in it, there might be a chance for them after all…

City-bred girl with money meets a small-town ranger who’s the opposite of all she is – and in this tale of opposites attract, both attempt to find middle-ground together when the mutual attraction gets too much to contain for a mere fling.

I wish I could say this had been an unforgettable read, but it wasn’t one at all. There was too much focus on the superficial that I struggled to get past – wealth, prestige, looks and class – and there seemed little beyond those bits to plumb.

I never felt as though Reese and Wade got past mutual lust and past the deep-seated issues of the class divide that were so keenly articulated (possibly overly so) in the storytelling, not to mention the certain idiocies in both main characters that made this pairing seem like an uninspired one. Reese felt a people-pleaser with a world view that never went past flaky while Wade’s insecurities with money and class had been written so repetitively about that he seemed like a stick in the mud who couldn’t get back one woman’s betrayal of his trust.

In the end, it took a lot of effort to get through this book, especially after the characters cemented my opinion that they probably were better suited to others than to each other.

two-stars

Betting On The Wrong Brother by Cathryn Fox

Posted in Advanced Reader Copy/ Chick Lit/ Contemporary Romance/ Netgalley/ Reviews 14th January 2016
Betting On The Wrong Brother by Cathryn FoxBetting on the Wrong Brother by Cathryn Fox
Series: What Happens in Vegas, #12
Published by Entangled: Lovestruck on February 8th 2016
Pages: 149
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two-stars

This good girl is ready to be bad…
He may be at a romance readers’ convention, but a naked woman in the elevator is not what horror writer Ryan Wheeler expects. Now he can’t take his eyes off of her—and not just because he saw her naked, though her luscious curves certainly aren’t helping the matter. She’s beautiful, funny, snarky…and a complication he doesn’t need.
Running into her teen heartthrob while naked wasn’t exactly part of romance novelist Andi Palmer’s weekend plans. Worse, he doesn’t recognize her and gives her a fake name. Years ago, he shot her down in the worst possible way, and now this? It’s time for a little down-and-dirty revenge.
Ryan’s more than a little turned on by this good girl who wants to be bad. But things aren’t what they seem, and the secrets they’re keeping from one another might just end this sexy little rendezvous before it ever begins…

The only way to get a teenage bad boy crush out of your dreams and head is to return that humiliation – even if that’s many years later, after you’ve long grown up. Never mind that these have been intervening years where maturity is supposed to kick in, but apparently a rejection from a crush can and will roll it all back.

Yet it’s exactly what romance author Andi Palmer does when she sees Ryan Grayson at a romance author’s convention, whom she believes is Nolan Wheeler. Except that Ryan Grayson is actually Nolan’s brother, with the same screwed up, no-commitment way of thinking and behaving.

Confusing yet? It all sounds like a very roundabout way of meeting a a teenage crush, getting revenge by getting hot between the sheets. For that reason I just couldn’t quite get into the ridiculousness of the whole affair, especially since a hot night in bed is suddenly sufficient to convince a man whose ‘sex-only rules’ that marital bliss is actually in the cards for him.

This isn’t quite the book for me, unfortunately, seeing as I spent more time trying to believe the farcical storyline than rooting for Andi/Ryan’s HEA.

two-stars

Pretend It’s Love by Stefanie London

Posted in Chick Lit/ Contemporary Romance/ Reviews 4th January 2016
Pretend It’s Love by Stefanie LondonPretend It's Love by Stefanie London
Series: Behind the Bar #2
Published by Entangled: Lovestruck on September 28th 2015
Pages: 203
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three-stars

Bar manager Paul Chapman is sick of his family's traditional ideals. Marriage, babies, and a white picket fence? Not his gig. But now that his 'golden child' big brother is tying the knot, Paul's screwed. His ex will be there...and she's having his cousin's baby. Unless he wants to show up to the wedding alone and face his family's scrutiny, he needs a girl on his arm. Now.
Cocktail specialist Libby Harris has spent her life earning the nickname Little Miss Perfect, all to win the love of her wealthy, controlling father. But she deviated from his plan, and now her business is on shaky ground. If it fails, she might as well kiss his respect-and her dream-good-bye. Her only hope? Convince the hottest bar in town to take on her product.
Luckily for her, the owner's brother is sexy as sin and in need of a perfect girlfriend...

A womaniser meets a girl with commitment issues, enters into a fake relationship with her, get hot sex thrown into the mix and suddenly it becomes more than it really is supposed to be.

Admittedly not a story that surprised me with all its predictable moves, to the extent where I was prompted to reread the *first* story in the series and rate it higher than what I thought it should be because Des/Gracie look like shining stars compared to this one. But the mixology and the cocktail mixes really did fascinate me more than Paul/Libby’s lack of depth.

three-stars

The Fix Up by Tawna Fenske

Posted in Advanced Reader Copy/ Chick Lit/ Contemporary Romance/ Netgalley/ Reviews 17th November 2015
The Fix Up by Tawna FenskeThe Fix Up by Tawna Fenske
Series: First Impressions, #1
Published by Entangled: Lovestruck on December 14th 2015
Pages: 235
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three-stars

While he may look like the love child of a movie starlet and an NFL linebacker, Ben Langley has the people skills of a half-drowned porcupine. Why socialize when there are chemistry labs and bad sci-fi flicks? If he has any hope of taking the helm as CEO of the family business, Ben needs an image makeover. Pronto.
Enter Holly Colvin, owner of First Impressions public relations and branding firm, and the woman who just saved Ben from the clutches of an over-attentive sales clerk. Holly’s rebranded hundreds of companies in her career, but she’s never rebranded a person. The guy clearly needs help, though, and she’s just the woman for the job.
With the clock ticking for them both, Holly and Ben face off over wardrobe malfunctions and business jargon that sounds a lot sexier than it should. But can Holly make Ben into the man he thinks he should be without losing the man she’s starting to love?

Ben Langley is eager to strip the geek out of himself, but then again, geekdom as he discovers, is more than just skin deep, especially after he hires Holly Colvin to do that particular job. What he doesn’t really count on is the eruption of innuendoes, the burning mutual attraction and the pull between desire and duty that happens thereafter.

I laughed at the amount of geek speak and behaviour in this story and for most part, loved Ben more and more as his loveable nerd-side didn’t bow to the sleazy narrow path that his father had set out for him. It isn’t often that I’m swayed by a particular protagonist more than the other, but Ben remained the spotlight stealer in this, so much so that it almost eclipsed Holly and their growing relationship. I loved the multi-faceted layers to him (geek heroes who are really NOT growling, demanding alpha males in disguise are as rare as they come) while Holly seemed a lot less complex than her obsession needing to keep her company afloat and her alpha-male issues. Strangely enough, I felt alright with this little imbalance (that much was I invested in him) as I hungrily followed the so-called journey he undertook to get himself rebranded as the new CEO of Langley enterprises.

three-stars

Chance of a Lifetime by Marissa Clarke

Posted in Chick Lit/ Contemporary Romance/ Reviews 15th October 2015
Chance of a Lifetime by Marissa ClarkeChance of a Lifetime by Marissa Clarke
Series: Anderson Brothers #3
on November 16th 2015
Pages: 220
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four-stars

Sometimes the biggest risk is playing it safe…
Gen Richards is tired of living down to her family’s expectation of the helpless blind girl. Resurrecting her high-school bucket list that begins with “kiss a total stranger” seems just the thing until she finds herself in a panty-melting lip lock with her big brother’s best friend.
Chance Anderson thrives on adrenaline, but Genny’s the one risk he’s not willing to take. His recklessness a decade ago landed her in the hospital and ejected him from her life. He’s bad for her and everyone knows it—especially her big brother.
Chance reluctantly helps Gen complete her bucket list in order to keep her out of trouble. Running through a freezing fountain, playing Spin the Bottle while fending off a mad horde of stinging insects, and skinny dipping with homicidal attack swans don’t hold a candle to the real danger: falling for the one person he can never have.

Blind from birth, Gen Richards has learned to go around with very few hindrances as she can, with her best pal Chance Anderson at her side, until it all imploded one night at the Harbour when it appeared that he never came for her when she needed him most. The decade of separation after that incident is one of the hardest and the most painful for the both of them, until a not-so-chance encounter in a bar throws them back together again. But 10 years is a long time and as Chance and Gen tick off the things to do on that bucket list, they also discover that what had always been between them hadn’t really faded at all.

Despite the narrative itself surprising me at every turn, it would be Marissa Clarke’s persuasive writing and characters that are the true standout: the defiant, unflinching portrayal of Gen (who in turn reflects Ms. Clarke’s eloquent, intuitive understanding of blindness) and the fierce depth of loyalty of Chance who finds his own connections to the girl whom he had always loved (and treats her only in the way she needs to be treated), to the funny secondary characters whose stories I must get my hands on some day.

four-stars
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