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Falling for Mr. Wright by Robyn Neeley

Posted in Advanced Reader Copy/ Chick Lit/ Contemporary Romance/ Netgalley/ Reviews 3rd December 2017
Falling for Mr. Wright by Robyn NeeleyFalling for Mr. Wright by Robyn Neeley
Published by Entangled Publishing, LLC (Lovestruck) on December 4th 2017
Pages: 214
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two-half-stars

After being dumped two weeks before his wedding, civil engineer Ryan Wright’s not interested in love. Been there, done that, had the wedding deposits to prove it. Still, he can’t help lusting after the fiery redheaded executive assistant who’s stirring up feelings that aren’t exactly appropriate for the office. 

Sarah Leonard is determined to make the CEO fall in love with her. To execute her plan, she’s going to need a little help in the form of her lunch buddy, the 6’2” office hottie who just so happens to be their boss’s best friend. Who better to tell Sarah everything she needs to know to win the other man’s heart?

Ryan agrees to help Sarah put her plan in motion, but he has no intention of helping her win anything. In fact, it’s time to show his office crush that he’s the guy she should be falling for…

Crippled by the fact that his ex-fiancée left him for another man years ago, Ryan Wright simply decided that this experience should define his entire dating life: anti-relationship and anti-commitment now rule his dating life, though it’s an office colleague who has the hots for his best friend finally gets under his skin. But this same woman has a never-ending crush on his best-friend and boss, and her recruitment of Ryan to get an ‘in’ with Logan twists him inside out. Torn between steadfastly holding that bachelor card and wanting Sarah Leonard, Ryan’s plotting takes on a desperate edge when things between his best friend and the woman he wants suddenly move forward in a way that he doesn’t need it to.

Despite the blurb, this isn’t quite a love triangle, which I’m utterly thankful for. And if I was initially wary of 2 men competing for a woman’s affection and another losing out along the way, well, there isn’t too much of that actually, because the third party isn’t even in the running for it.

‘Falling for Mr. Wright’ is in fact, a light-hearted, holiday-themed romance and somewhat low on the angst, if that’s the sort of easy read you’re looking for. It definitely has all the rom-com vibes along with all the seasonal feel-goods, though it could be somewhat cookie-cutter in its characters and predictability.

But there was where the problems began for me. It was fun at first to see the commitment-phobe guy being given a taste of his own medicine (the pining woman typically takes this role in many books) though it was harder to root for Ryan who seemed to be the perpetrator for the confusion and the messy emotions. His complete lack of communication, his inability to decide whether he wanted Sarah or the anti-commitment banner he’d been flying all along, and the heap of denial he had somehow fashioned him into the TSTL heroine that I usually take issue with.

Not only was he completely mute about his feelings, he’d adamantly sent out mixed signals to Sarah about not wanting commitment, so I couldn’t blame the latter at all for wanting to protect her heart when he acted like a wishy-washy, undecided fool. This was also where the story seemed to fall into a own trap of its own making: that Ryan finally admitted he’d loved Sarah at first sight in retrospect, then dated other women casually over that time while having the hots for her and not doing a thing about it simply didn’t push him up any higher in my esteem of him.

Sarah, on the other hand, seemed to switch the object of her affections so easily, just as she didn’t seem to question Ryan’s sudden own switch in wanting to give her his heart after all: did that mean the months-long crush on Logan simply disappeared or was that transferred to Ryan?

I think ‘Falling for Mr. Wright’ left me with more questions than answers that weren’t satisfactorily addressed, despite the festive cheer and the love-is-in-the-air kind of feels that the story wanted to create. So while it was a sweet and easy read, I wasn’t entirely able to believe the development of this pairing—cute as the circumstances could have been in bringing them together—not when both characters hadn’t convincingly shown that all they really wanted were each other.

two-half-stars

The Right Kind of Guy by Kerri-Leigh Grady

Posted in Advanced Reader Copy/ Chick Lit/ Contemporary Romance/ Netgalley/ Reviews 24th September 2016
The Right Kind of Guy by Kerri-Leigh GradyThe Right Kind of Guy by Kerri-Leigh Grady
Published by Entangled Publishing, LLC (Lovestruck), Entangled Publishing: Lovestruck on October 17th 2016
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two-stars

Romance novelist Kelsey Spencer doesn’t believe in love, and she's tired of faking her way through happily ever afters. Determined to change things up, she heads to the Las Vegas Romance Lovers Convention. But somewhere between half-naked cover models and hot Navy SEALs, Kelsey’s plans derail...

Especially once she meets über-fan Jasmine Grant...and Jasmine’s über-hot alphahole brother, Aaron.

Buttoned-up Aaron Grant never thought he’d find himself at a romance convention, but here he is, trying to convince his impulsive sister not to marry a beefcake cover model. His only hope is to enlist the aid of the cynical (and sexy) romance writer his sister worships.

After a sweltering jaunt around Vegas, some strange conference hijinks, and one outrageous proposal, Kelsey and Aaron are left questioning everything they know about romance and love...and if falling in love might just be worth the gamble.

‘The Right Kind of Guy’ is an amusing parody of the entire romance genre, right down to the conventions, the crazed reader, a very jaded author who doesn’t believe what she does any longer and an arse of a player who apparently has no time for commitment with non-stop work.

I enjoyed it somewhat of course, given the very self-referential matter of the very kind of book it parodies, yet thought that it succumbed to the very cliches of instant love, a hot, instant connection and the eventual HEA that it gently mocked. In the end, Kerri-Leigh Grady acknowledges the problems inherent in writing this genre while fulfilling the impossible demands of the contemporary reader, yet manages to negotiate a ‘middling’ road that says both the paths of quiet love as well as explosive first connections work.

Well, maybe. I’m not entirely convinced personally by its message-if there’s even one to be had-but its cleverness can’t be denied.

two-stars

Just One Week by Alice Gaines

Posted in Advanced Reader Copy/ Chick Lit/ Contemporary Romance/ Netgalley/ Reviews 17th August 2016
Just One Week by Alice GainesJust One Week by Alice Gaines
Published by Entangled Publishing, LLC (Lovestruck), Entangled Publishing: Lovestruck on September 12th 2016
Pages: 153
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two-stars

Her brother’s best friend is not only the hottest man Michelle Dennis has ever seen, he’s the reason she left town eight years ago. Of course he’s the one waiting at the airport. Worse, he made sure they’re staying in the same house.

Alex Stafford is expecting to pick up his friend’s kid sister, not a full-fledged bombshell. He was planning to apologize for their past, but the feelings he had years ago come roaring back…and this time, there’s no denying them.

Keeping his hands off is a test he’s bound to fail—especially when they’re stuck in close quarters. But falling in love with Michelle, living in her world, isn’t an option for a guy like him. And remembering that will save them both a lot of heartache…

The prodigal daughter returns home after an 8-year rift with a man whom she’d loved and now that she’s turned into a bombshell (as well as as intellectual), the man who’s pushed her away sits up and notice. Needing to score away the hurt, Michelle Dennis decides that using Alex Stafford for his body after his rejection is the best ploy. What follows is a predictable trajectory of realising that sex can’t come with no strings especially with a man with whom she shares history, even if he’s always thought himself beneath her.

My excitement in discovering another brother’s best-friend’s story was dimmed by the nonsensical and well, dumb behaviour of the characters, whom I simply couldn’t bring myself to like at all. In most cases, sex seldom is the problem; the behaviour before and after as well as the motivations are. Michelle’s soreness over Alex’s rejection lasted only a day it seemed and seeing her behaviour flip from hostile to seductive was cringe-worthy, just as watching Alex suddenly decide that he was in love with her after getting horizontal. The latter, who spent the entire book making a huge issue of his dyslexia that supposedly kept him from keeping intimate relationships, cemented his own stupidity not because of his learning disorder but because of the cowardice that he’d shown with Michelle for years.

That they fell into bed so easily – as though the years of fraught tension just disappeared – made me incredulous, because I’d assumed this was a huge road block that would take more than just an affair to smooth over. With this source of narrative tension suddenly removed, I felt short-changed and somewhat repulsed by Michelle’s tanking pride (when it seemed she had to be the brave one the whole time) and Alex’s inadvertent reiteration of the stereotypical dumb jock behaviour.

The story did rub me the wrong way, unfortunately; I couldn’t wait to finish this by the time Michelle and Alex rushed through their HEA with a wedding that I couldn’t believe when their supposed love didn’t feel real at all.

two-stars

The Three-Week Arrangement by Sarah Ballance

Posted in Advanced Reader Copy/ Chick Lit/ Contemporary Romance/ Netgalley/ Reviews 11th February 2016
The Three-Week Arrangement by Sarah BallanceThe Three-Week Arrangement by Sarah Ballance
Series: Chase Brothers, #3
Published by Entangled Publishing on April 4th 2016
Pages: 200
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three-stars

Ethan Chase isn't interested in dating. After losing the woman he loved more than life itself, he'd much rather ride solo, but his family is dead set on fixing him up. To get them off his back, he hooks up with ultra-adventurous, ultra-temporary adventure photographer, Rue Campbell. All he has to do is survive three weeks in her orbit and he'll be single again, only without the pitying looks and pressure to move on.
Rue is literally counting the days until her plane leaves New York City. The last thing she wants is a relationship, but being Ethan's pretend girlfriend can't hurt, right? Wrong. With Ethan, there's no faking anything—in or out of the bedroom. With the sheets burning hot and the clock ticking on their arrangement, Rue realizes she's falling for a man guaranteed to derail her goals...and break her heart.

Being accosted by a random stranger on the road wasn’t ever part of Ethan Chase’s plan and before he knows it, he and Rue Campbell have an arrangement that will mutually benefit the both of them. Temporary yet intense, neither expect that there could be something more past that due date

I had expected this relationship to be fraught with angst, denial and explosive (but exaggerated) passion and was pleasantly surprised when it really wasn’t. Sarah Ballance captures Ethan Chase perfectly: tentative, wary, but open and giving, if not a bit scared still of venturing out into dating.

Yet I thought ‘The Three-week Arrangement’ read like a book skewed towards exploring Ethan’s own journey post-grieving with a woman whom I wasn’t too convinced was a perfect match for him. It was brilliant to read about Ethan slowly crawling out of his comfort zone, but I finished the book with the nagging feeling that Rue Campbell’s somewhat self-absorbed nature hadn’t changed too much when decided she wanted Ethan on her own terms and failing to make that same measure of sacrifice he had. Rue never quite gave me the impression that she would ever keep a stable home and in the epilogue, her constant travel made it look like their relationship would be defined by them more physically apart more than together.

Perhaps this works for some readers; this particular compromise of far-flung dreams and relationship with strings that could comprise a good enough HEA for couples like Rue and Ethan. Personally, I’m simply less convinced – not because of Ms. Ballance’s great writing itself – of this kind of ending because I thought some kind of grand(er) gesture from Rue was needed for someone so beautifully-written as Ethan.

three-stars

Meeting His Match by Katee Robert

Posted in Chick Lit/ Contemporary Romance/ Reviews 31st October 2014
Meeting His Match by Katee RobertMeeting His Match by Katee Robert
Series: Match Me #1
Published by Entangled Publishing on July 21st 2014
Pages: 200
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three-stars

When New York matchmaker Addison St. Claire is tasked with matching her best friend's new brother-in-law, she almost refuses. But the sexy southern CEO turns out to be a challenge she can't resist, because if anyone needs to meet his soul mate, it's this man. And if matching him with someone else removes the temptation of being near him? Even better.
The last thing Caine McNeill needs is a matchmaker—especially a gorgeous redhead who spouts nonsense about soul mates, critiques what he drives and how he dresses, buys him a dog, and pesters him about a million little things he couldn't care less about. It's a crying shame he has to keep his hands off because chemistry like what's flaring between them ought to be explored. Thoroughly.
And so the battle begins. Addison is determined to stick to her plan of setting him up on dates with other women, and Caine is equally determined to ignore these women and seduce her.

A short and sweet, though not entirely plausible read, and as smexy as it can get from a seasoned erotica writer Katee Robert.

I understand that characters have issues – so much so that they’re a necessity for category romances like this. Yet call it budding intolerance on my part but insecurity resulting in idiotic behaviour does get on my nerves and Addison (heroine) has spades of it. For this reason, it’s hard to appreciate the book more than I wished I could have.

On the bright side, it was great to catch up with Regan and Brock again in their domestic Happy-ever-after.

three-stars
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