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The Best Man’s Proposal by Wynter Daniels

Posted in Advanced Reader Copy/ Chick Lit/ Contemporary Romance/ Netgalley/ Reviews 29th August 2017
The Best Man’s Proposal by Wynter DanielsThe Best Man's Proposal by Wynter Daniels
Series: The Hamilton Sisters #2
Published by Entangled Publishing: Lovestruck on September 18th 2017
Pages: 244
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two-stars

Niki Hamilton had her hopes pinned on moving to Europe with her boyfriend. But then he dumped her. By text message. Just before her sister’s wedding. Left dateless in a flamingo-pink monstrosity of a bridesmaid dress, she decides to drown her sorrows in a glass of tall, dark, and handsome.

Firefighter Grant Powers has been burned by love, but when his best friend’s new sister-in-law falls into his arms—and stays there for one sexy night—he enjoys the experience a little too much.

Then a rental snafu leaves Niki temporarily homeless. So, gentleman and masochist that he is, Grant offers his spare bedroom. Despite the smoldering sexual tension between them, starting anything would be playing with fire.

Now, they just have to survive living together for a few weeks…

‘The Best Man’s Proposal’ doesn’t quite seem like a title that would fit the blurb at all. Nonetheless, the premise—of life pulling people in 2 different directions and the compromises needed to close those 2 opposing ends—sounded interesting enough for me to put in a request for it. But not having read the first book, I didn’t quite know of any history between Grant and Niki and there are hints that something else had happened in the prequel for this story to begin with the morning after walk of shame that ended up as a forced-roommate situation.

Admittedly, it did take me a while to get into the book as there was quite a fair bit of repetition from the start: the best sex of Niki’s life, her inability to stop noticing how hot Grant’s body is, her inability to think when he was near. She did come across as a disaster though: insensitive, self-absorbed, presumptuous about the way Grant might think and also too much of a damsel in distress who can’t seem to handle herself without needing Grant to come to her rescue. In fact, Niki didn’t seem to know what she really wanted except to go to Europe and live in London, to the extent where she did nearly everything that her manager dangled in front of her—with the London job as bait—while treating her like crap. That she finally grew a spine towards the end redeemed her a mite bit for all the indecision that plagued her.

Apart from an undeniable attraction, I couldn’t find very much that would make Grant and Niki an equal (let alone well-suited) pairing, the differing maturity levels being the most glaring point for me along with their contrasting living preferences. But this perhaps also has to do with the fact that I liked Grant a lot more than I liked Niki which clearly affects my rating of the book. Grant’s sweetness towards his geriatric cat was adorable though (cats are my weak spot; men with cats slay me) and to be absolutely unfair, that shot him up in my esteem immediately.

In short, it wasn’t quite a story that resonated with me, particularly when a protagonist stood out more than the other. I only wished I enjoyed it much more than I did, especially since the only mental takeaway I have here is a picture of Grant with his beloved Orange cat.

two-stars

The Wrong Kind of Compatible by Drew Kerrigan

Posted in Advanced Reader Copy/ Chick Lit/ Contemporary Romance/ Netgalley/ Reviews 19th May 2017
The Wrong Kind of Compatible by Drew KerriganThe Wrong Kind of Compatible by Kadie Scott
Series: Love Undercover #1
on June 12th 2017
Pages: 141
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two-stars

Data analyst Cassie Howard may be brilliant (and, okay, a little awkward), but she’s worked hard to get where she is. She definitely doesn’t need some sexy new analyst coming in and taking credit for her work. Or the inappropriate thoughts that keep popping out of her mouth she’d rather he not hear.
For undercover FBI agent Drew Kerrigan, computers have always made more sense than people, but he’d better develop some slick social skills in a hurry if he’s going to win over the too-tantalizing-for-his-sanity Cassie. Hacking their systems was easy. Now he’s just got to hack the one person in the company most likely to see through his ruse…

Cassie Howard is Drew Kerrigan’s mark and for him, going undercover—a rare privilege for a hacker like him—is probably one of the hardest things he’s ever done when the attraction at every turn, threatens to make him forget his mission. Compatibility (physical or otherwise) is clearly out of the question when Drew insinuates himself in her work and her personal life, but his admiration of Cassie poses a huge conflict when the case he’s working on seems to point to Cassie’s complicity in the crime he’s investigating.

I liked that Kadie Scott made both protagonists nerdy and socially-awkward in their own ways, with unintended innuendoes that they both say and realise it too late. That’s rom-com strategy right there and some parts were sort of enjoyable, particularly when Cassie and Drew had to work together, all the while second-guessing themselves and each other. The hot-cold interactions between them however, intended to build tension, got a little tired for me when it dragged on.

There are also unfortunately, characters who many other people like but who rub you the wrong way, and Cassie was that for me. I found her harder to like than Drew, who seemed some what more ‘earnest’ in his dealings with her. I understand her insecurities about being the smart but unlucky-in-love girl to the extent where her achievements are everything to her, but I think I would have liked her better at the beginning had she not been too defensively territorial and too passively aggressive about it with a runaway mouth that made me wince more than it was funny. So much about her was overwrought (which is to some extent, understandable, given her family of overachievers) and her suspicion of everything Drew was doing got annoying after a while as she took out her prickly issues on him then acted like a stick in the mud about it.

For some reason, ‘The Wrong Kind of Compatible’ was a difficult read for me—it took me days to go through the pages when I normally would breeze through light-hearted rom-com books in an afternoon. Geek-type reads are usually a guilty pleasure but clearly, my personal preferences are showing up and I couldn’t find much common ground with the heroine, let alone the couple in question.

two-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

Protector for Hire by Tawna Fenske

Posted in Chick Lit/ Contemporary Romance/ Military/Paramilitary/ Reviews 30th June 2015
Protector for Hire by Tawna FenskeProtector for Hire by Tawna Fenske
Series: Front and Center #4
Published by Entangled Publishing: Lovestruck on June 30th 2015
Pages: 248
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three-stars

Haunted by his time in Iraq, former soldier Schwartz Patton goes off the grid, retreating deep into Montana’s untamed wilderness. Now, ten years into his self-imposed solitude, his brother tracks him down and asks for a favor. A woman is in danger, and she needs help...and Schwartz is the only one who can protect her.
Designer-loving city girls like Janelle Keebler don't belong in the wilderness. Unless, of course, they're witnesses to a murder by their psycho drug-trafficking ex-husbands. Still, Janelle can't help the immediate physical response she has to her sexy-as-sin protector that leaves her wanting more than she could have ever imagined. Even if he does make terrible coffee...
Every word, every touch, every kiss ignites a need Schwartz thought he’d lost forever. He can't stop the desperate attraction simmering between him and Janelle, even if he wanted to. Even if it means it could get them both killed.

Protector for Hire is the broody Schwartz Patton’s tale, and despite the last book in this series leaving a god-awful taste in my mouth, my soft spot for grumpy hermits surfaced as soon as I knew Schwartz was going to take centre stage. The woman in question is a divorcee with a psychopathic ex-husband – who also happens to be a drug lord – on the prowl for her, and the only way to keep her safe is off the grid…and with Schwartz, who has been living in the wilds of Montana for the past decade.

Protector for Hire has a levity that is unexpected, though it tended to gloss over PTSD too lightly. I did find myself sardonically smirking at Janelle’s antics, which were admittedly juvenile rather than sparkling or witty at times, because if all that was needed to bring Schwartz out of his black hole, why the hell hadn’t his family figured that one out? There were cliches rehashed, off-the-charts-sex (anything else would be a travesty, wouldn’t it?) and of course, the customary TSTL action at the end when Janelle runs off which made the story drop whole stars in my eyes. Schwartz panics, quickly makes good with his family, proclaims his love, rescues the damsel in distress – and because it’s suddenly all too easy, their happily ever after left me dissatisfied.

three-stars
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