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Too Hot to Handle by Tessa Bailey

Posted in Chick Lit/ Contemporary Romance/ Reviews 18th May 2016
Too Hot to Handle by Tessa BaileyToo Hot to Handle by Tessa Bailey
Series: Romancing the Clarksons #1
Published by Grand Central Publishing on May 17th 2016
Pages: 336
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two-stars

When rescue looks like a whole lot of trouble . . .
The road trip was definitely a bad idea. Having already flambéed her culinary career beyond recognition, Rita Clarkson is now stranded in God-Knows-Where, New Mexico, with a busted-ass car and her three temperamental siblings, who she hasn't seen in years. When rescue shows up---six-feet-plus of hot, charming sex on a motorcycle---Rita's pretty certain she's gone from the frying pan right into the fire . . .
Jasper Ellis has a bad boy reputation in this town, and he loathes it. The moment he sees Rita, though, Jasper knows he's about to be sorely tempted. There's something real between them. Something raw. And Jasper has only a few days to show Rita that he isn't just for tonight---he's forever.

This started out rather amusing, like a dysfunctional family comedy that veered off into an accidental romance which I couldn’t quite buy into because of the glaring instant love element that smacked me straight into a wall, as well as the lack of believability of the romantic leads.

I never quite felt the connection between Rita and Jasper who seemed to get together in order to put their own personal ghosts to bed: Rita needing to forget her failure in the culinary business and Jasper for his desperation to shrug off his tramp-like reputation in the small town where he’d been seen for a long time only a joke – with the first outsider to come along. Even if I could admire Jasper’s eagerness to pull himself out of that rut and make a name for himself, I felt that Rita/Jasper’s relationship seemed to happen out of serendipitous convenience and unbeatable lust rather than a shared history, bewilderingly compounded by the fact that it took only 72 hours for Jasper to somehow determine that Rita was the one he wanted to marry.

But to be fair, I’d readily admit that the instant-love trope would work definitely better for others than a sceptic like me.

Tessa Bailey’s writing certainly isn’t in question here and all her hallmarks are found in abundance in this book: the dirty-talking hero, the novel way her steamy scenes are constructed, the strong element of quirk that’s present in all her characters that they can almost be caricatures in some comic-strip and the extreme flaws that either make them tear-jerkingly sympathetic or absolutely abhorrent. Or maybe even both.

Personally, I’m simply not too convinced by the start of this series however, and I’ll remain on the fence with this one for now.

two-stars

Nobody but You by Jill Shalvis

Posted in Chick Lit/ Contemporary Romance/ Military/Paramilitary/ Reviews 3rd April 2016
Nobody but You by Jill ShalvisNobody But You (Cedar Ridge, #3) by Jill Shalvis
Series: Cedar Ridge #3
Published by Grand Central Publishing on March 29th 2016
Pages: 368
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two-stars

SOMETIMES YOU CAN GO HOME AGAIN…
After an overseas mission goes wrong, Army Special Forces officer Jacob Kincaid knows where he must go to make things right: back home to the tiny town of Cedar Ridge, Colorado. All he needs to scrub away his painful past is fresh mountain air, a lakeside cabin, and quiet solitude. But what he discovers is a gorgeous woman living on a boat at his dock.
Sophie Marren has nowhere else to go. She’s broke, intermittently seasick, and fighting a serious attraction to the brooding, dishy, I’m-too-sexy-for-myself guy who’s now claiming her dock. Something about Jacob’s dark intensity makes her want to tease—and tempt—him beyond measure. Neither one wants to give any ground . . . until they realize the only true home they have is with each other.

An incredibly annoying, selfish ‘heroine’ and an indecisive ‘hero’ tested my patience in this long-awaited installment of the Kincaids of Cedar Ridge, which was such a shame because I truly wanted to like this book. Instead, all I got were main protagonists who played stupid mind games about promising each other not to fall in love, odiously determined to cling onto their issues and previous hurts (particularly Sophie) so as not to get hurt…once again.

The consequence is a huge amount of emotional prevarication (once again, Sophie, whose passive-aggressive determination to see the worst in everyone grated enormously on me) and a huge load of sex to gloss over it, which is annoying and frustrating because I only saw both Jacob and Sophie simply behaving like the juveniles that they aren’t.

To be fair, Jill Shalvis does chart out difficult pasts for both of them, but I never felt as though both of them grew in any way likeable even midway through the story, to the point where I wished I was actually reading about Kenna and Mitch – whose story, had it been written, would have been way more interesting – who got sadly relegated as secondary characters. In the end, I skimmed quite a few pages, rolling my eyes in the process, especially parts about Sophie’s internal monologues about not wanting to be a victim and her own insecurities because they simply emphasised her as someone who gave mixed signals when all she needed to do was to kick up some courage where it mattered – but never did. Worse yet, getting too many affirmative phrases repeated throughout the book like ‘she’s an amazing woman’, as though needing to convince me of Sophie’s stellar character did just the opposite of my impression of her.

Not Ms. Shalvis’s finest effort, sadly, when I find myself hating the female protagonist so much that it was impossible to support this pairing at all.

two-stars

Second Chance Summer by Jill Shalvis

Posted in Chick Lit/ Contemporary Romance/ Reviews 8th January 2016
Second Chance Summer by Jill ShalvisSecond Chance Summer by Jill Shalvis
Series: Cedar Ridge, #1
Published by Grand Central Publishing on June 30th 2015
Pages: 368
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three-stars

Cedar Ridge, Colorado, is famous for crisp mountain air, clear blue skies, and pine-scented breezes. And it's the last place Lily Danville wants to be. But she needs a job, and there's an opening at the hottest resort in her hometown. What has her concerned is the other hot property in Cedar Ridge: Aidan Kincaid-firefighter, rescue worker, and heartbreaker. She never could resist that devastating smile . . .
The Kincaid brothers are as rough and rugged as the Rocky Mountains they call home. Aidan has always done things his own way, by his own rules. And never has he regretted anything more than letting Lily walk out of his life ten years ago. If anyone has ever been in need of rescuing, she has. What she needs more than anything are long hikes, slow dances, and sizzling kisses. But that can only happen if he can get her to give Cedar Ridge-and this bad boy-a second chance . . .

This was such a fun and funny read and I loved all the antics that the Kincaid brothers got themselves up to. Aiden – firefighter, SAR crew and resort helper – is the focus here and while there was so much to like about him, I found his object of interest and flame of the past, Lily, much harder to tolerate, for all the excuses she gives for holding herself back from Aiden. For this reason, I found it hard to stand behind Aiden/Lily together and this has definitely affected my overall rating of this book.

That being said though, I still think I want more of the hilarious Kincaid antics that actually kept me up all night.

three-stars

My Kind of Wonderful by Jill Shalvis

Posted in Chick Lit/ Contemporary Romance/ Reviews 8th January 2016
My Kind of Wonderful by Jill ShalvisMy Kind of Wonderful by Jill Shalvis
Series: Cedar Ridge, #2
Published by Grand Central Publishing on December 22nd 2015
Pages: 368
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four-stars

UNEXPECTED AND UNDENIABLE...
Bailey Moore has an agenda: skiing in the Rockies, exploring castles in Europe, ballroom dancing in Argentina. Now that she has a second lease on life, she's determined not to miss a thing. What she doesn't realize is that item #1 comes with a six-foot-one ski god hot enough to melt a polar ice cap. She doesn't want to miss out on him either, but Hudson Kincaid isn't the type of guy to love and let go. And as gorgeous as Cedar Ridge is, she's not planning to stick around.
As head of ski patrol at his family's resort, Hud thinks he's seen it all. But never has he run into someone like Bailey. She might look delicate, but her attitude is all firecracker. And her infectious joy touches something deep within him that he's been missing far too long. Now he'll just have to convince Bailey to take a chance on her biggest adventure yet . . . something rare and all kinds of wonderful.

Hudson Kincaid’s life is full to the brim and there isn’t space – or so he believes – for love that isn’t of the familial kind, especially not when he’s still haunted by a missing twin brother he hasn’t seen in years. But it’s on the ski slopes that he meets a very special woman who has fought her own battle with cancer and is on the cusp of winning that particular war…and learns the very hard way that life’s preciousness is meant to be seized in every way possible.

More sombrely written than the first (I can’t quantify this except to say that I didn’t laugh as much as I did in the first installment) most probably because of the subject matter, even if Jill Shalvis has admittedly kept the story more on the light-hearted side, nonetheless, choosing not to tilt the narrative into tragic proportions. Hudson’s and Bailey’s story grew on me each step of the way, even if I didn’t really quite understand or needed the clumsy dance and tizzy about messing around/commitment they got into, which turned somewhat farcical and ridiculous right up until the very end.

four-stars
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