Archives

Burning Love by Trish Morey

Posted in Advanced Reader Copy/ Chick Lit/ Contemporary Romance/ Netgalley/ Reviews 12th June 2017
Burning Love by Trish MoreyBurning Love by Trish Morey
Series: Hot Aussie Knights #4
Published by Tule Publishing on June 12th 2017
Pages: 96
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
two-stars

Caleb Knight’s ex accused him of being married to his firefighter job, and maybe she was right. He’s given up looking for happy ever after and finds what he needs between Ava’s scorching sheets. But lately, he’s wondering whether this thing with Ava might become more permanent…

Artist Ava Mattiske's ability to trust was shattered long ago. Her steamy fling with Caleb is perfect until he starts talking long-term. She puts on the brakes, but when a bushfire threatens her studio and Caleb is on the scene, Ava realizes that there is one man she can count on... But will it be too late?

Caleb Knight turned up in his twin brother’s book and it got me curious about how evasive he’d been with Dylan. But when Caleb finally burst onto the page, I found myself somewhat underwhelmed and maybe that was because I just couldn’t feel any particular investment in a couple that was simply making the difficult transition from temporary to permanent with several speed bumps along the way.

‘Burning Love’ is unusual in that it takes place a year into Caleb’s and Ava’s casual arrangement with the story picking up from there, alternating between their hookup sessions, Ava’s art and Caleb’s job, though it’s a cycle that rinses and repeats until something gives. As a whore to her parents’ business to the time she has reinvented herself, Ava nonetheless lets her past dictate her future because of the scars that has left on her, convinced that she wants nothing to do with anything remotely resembling affection or love. Somehow Caleb gets beneath her skin and their agreement to just burn up the sheets in bed for the past year on a casual basis is something she uses against him when he finally wants more.

Apart from some parts that had the camaraderie of the guys on show, it was personally hard for me to get into a relationship that felt lopsided and unequal, made up of pull-push dynamic from start to end as Caleb finally grows past the casual hookup stage with Ava and pushes for more, just as Ava pushes him away in denial that gets rote after a while. The later part of their relationship is one made up of more of the same, except that Caleb spends most of his time trying to reaffirm Ava and rebuilding the shattered confidence that she’d lost in her youth. He’s a top bloke undoubtedly, but for most of the story, it felt like he was the one doing all the work while waiting for Ava to come to her senses—which she did only frustratingly, after a life-threatening event. His hard work pays off, though that much made me think of him playing the role of caretaker/therapist/lover all in one for a needy woman who hides a brittle interior.

I’d hoped that the wrap-up to this interesting series could have been better for me; sadly I never could quite get into this pairing as much as I could the rest.

two-stars

Casey by Kelly Hunter

Posted in Advanced Reader Copy/ Chick Lit/ Contemporary Romance/ Netgalley/ Reviews 2nd June 2017
Casey by Kelly HunterCasey by Kelly Hunter
Series: American Extreme Bull Riders Tour #3
Published by Tule Publishing on May 23rd 2017
Pages: 145
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
four-stars

Rowan Harper has traveled the American Extreme Bull Riders tour circuit with her stock-contractor father since she was four years old. She's seen the best rides and the worst wrecks. And then there's TJ who impressed her most when he didn't ride at all.

T.J. Casey walked away from his rightful place in last year's bull riding finals in order to bury his father. His sponsors are gone, but he's back to stake his claim. He wants the buckle, sure, but he also wants the woman who treats her bucking bulls like lambs.

Can T.J. really score the championship and the girl? Or will he have to choose between the two..once and for all?

T.J. Casey’s eye has been on Rowan Harper for a while, a woman who has only known bull-riding and breeding all her life, yet family tragedy has derailed him from pursuing her outright. It’s only when he’s back, comfortable in the saddle this time around that he asks her out, though not without more accompanying family drama that could threaten the happiness they have with each other.

Much of the story is told with wry humour and with deliberate pacing, building on bits of revelation of their lives and back stories that makes you appreciate the growing intimacy and the slow-burn that builds up over weeks between them. It’s certainly a change for me but one that is enjoyable nonetheless.

Casey’s and Rowan’s relationship is first clandestine, then public but deftly handled by Kelly Hunter in a way that leaves no space for excessive theatrics between 2 adults who really do know the type of behaviour that’s befitting their ages. It doesn’t hurt that Casey and Rowan are good together, mostly because they are distinct individuals—both of them not fitting in the stereotypes of characters typically populating the bull-riding circuit—who actually know what they want and aren’t too afraid to get it. Casey’s steadfastness and his encouragement of Rowan’s continued discovery of herself, starting with something as innocuous as going dress shopping is as appealing as Rowan’s unwavering determination to carve out a distinct career for herself in a place that she has been all her life. For these reasons, ‘Casey’ is an easy but unique read—more heartfelt than action-driven—but capped off with a fitting HEA that doesn’t feel trite nor rushed.

four-stars

Long Hot Summer by Victoria Purman

Posted in Advanced Reader Copy/ Chick Lit/ Contemporary Romance/ Netgalley/ Reviews 24th May 2017
Long Hot Summer by Victoria PurmanLong Hot Summer by Victoria Purman
Series: Hot Aussie Knights #3
Published by Tule Publishing on June 5th 2017
Pages: 140
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
four-stars

It's going to be a long, hot summer in Reynolds Ridge…

Hannie Reynolds has returned to the town she grew up in because no other place feels quite like home. But living in the stunning Adelaide Hills comes with risks--from the threat of bushfires that destroy everything in their path to the heart-stopping return of her high school crush.

Firefighter Dylan Knight has come home too, and old memories flare when he sees Hannie again. Have they waited too long to rekindle their love?

When they discover they were driven apart by a lie, they’re more determined than ever to fight for their second chance… until a bushfire threatens to destroy all they might share together and the very foundations of Hannie’s life in the hills.

Has she lost everything … and has Dylan lost her forever?

‘Long Hot Summer’ is such a lovely read, and it’s one that I know will stay in my mind because of the beautiful, extensive descriptions of the natural landscape of Adelaide hills and the slow burn, second-chance trope that comes with it when a jeweller returns home and runs into her teenage crush.

In fact, I was captivated by Dylan Knight’s and Hannie Reynolds’s relationship and how, even fractured by lies and a vindictive cousin who never really got her just rewards, that was never too broken to fix, 14 long years later. But if I was frustrated by Hannie’s big-heartedness and her passivity towards her cousin’s petty jealousies and manipulation, both Dylan and Hannie’s steadfast commitment to each other after these lies were uncovered were more fulfilling because of it and no less powerful because it burns bright and hot against the ever-present menace of the summer bush fires that threaten their homes.

Effortlessly woven into the drama of their lives is the inescapable bit of the unique (and biting) Australian weather and landscape that kept me engrossed and reading on, as Victoria Purman pays tribute not only to Dylan and Hannie, but also the rural community’s resilience and hope when tragedy strikes. By the end of it, it does feel as though Dylan/Hannie’s happiness is tied as much to the land as it is to each other and the bittersweet ending is simply one that speaks of their personal, hard-won victory.

four-stars

Burning Both Ends by Sinclair Jayne

Posted in Advanced Reader Copy/ Chick Lit/ Contemporary Romance/ Erotica/ Netgalley/ Reviews 21st May 2017
Burning Both Ends by Sinclair JayneBurning Both Ends by Sinclair Jayne
Series: Hot Aussie Knights #2
Published by Tule Publishing on May 29th 2017
Pages: 158
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
three-stars

Darington Knight has known a lot of loss in her twenty-six years. She can deal, so she resents it when the commander of her Montana smoke jumper unit sends her on a firefighter exchange program in Australia after her unit suffers a double tragedy. Hooking up with a sexy firefighter her first night Down Under improves Dare’s mood considerably until she realizes her hook up is now her station commander and he has a rule book as thick as her arm.

Lachlan Ryker did not make senior station officer as a Melbourne Metropolitan firefighter by the time he was thirty by acting impulsively, but when he meets the sexy, brash American in his favorite pub, his by-the-book, measured approach to life gets kicked to the curb. He and Dare ignite one night of smoldering passion he can’t forget. But before he can call for a second date, Dare strolls into his station newly assigned to him for three months. Lock knows he has to keep his hands to himself. He never breaks the rules. Dare, however, never heard a rule she didn’t want to shatter.

‘Burning Both Ends’ continues the Hot Aussie Knight series, where a legion of Knight family firefighters gather to mourn the family patriarch…and that’s where the stories begin.

I found myself fairly neutral about this one throughout; it’s well-written with all the emotional slips and nuances detailed though it was harder to connect with the characters who didn’t quite do it for me. Dare and Lock on their own, had so many issues in their past that combined, their baggage would have shattered a camel’s back.

Dare – whose behaviour reflects her own name – is as much of a wild-card as she is an emotional drifter with a bold, reckless streak and a penchant for breaking the rules, felt like an out-of-control character for most part, and I spent most of the time waiting for her implosion as she finally confessed that she couldn’t ever betray her first and only love’s memory. In fact, it felt as though Lock had been put, to some extent, in a caretaker role – of her emotions as well as her physical health – gave the relationship a strange and somewhat unequal sheen especially since he was adamant not to fall into the same trap again.

I did however, expect more opposition to the fraternisation between Dare and Lock at the station house, and was quite surprised that didn’t seem to be an issue at all. But the long and short of it is, I’m not entirely sure what to make of the angst and the frequent push-pull in this particular story; there were times the frustration got me as the protagonists hovered at the TSTL threshold as there were other times where they reminded me that they were adults still. Objectively speaking, ‘Burning Both Ends’ isn’t a bad read, but it’s probably more suited to those who like their characters heavily-burdened and tortured with a bucketload of (leftover teenage?) angst to boot.

three-stars

Tanner by Sarah Mayberry

Posted in Advanced Reader Copy/ Chick Lit/ Contemporary Romance/ Netgalley/ Reviews 1st May 2017
Tanner by Sarah MayberryTanner by Sarah Mayberry
Series: American Extreme Bull Riders Tour #1
Published by Tule Publishing on May 9th 2017
Pages: 178
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
two-stars

After flying half-way around the world to surprise her boyfriend, Evie Forrester finds herself heartbroken and stranded in a strange city. What could be a total disaster becomes something else when a tall, dark bull rider turns out to be a white knight in disguise. Evie isn’t sure she needs saving, but Tanner Harding is a difficult man to deny. He’s even harder to resist…
Tanner Harding can tame a monster bull with ease, but he never expected to be floored by someone like Evie. Sparks fly between them until injury threatens to end Tanner’s career –and suddenly he’s the one in need of a rescue.
Evie can’t turn her back on her wounded hero and, as Tanner struggles with his recovery, she’s not sure she can guard her heart against him either. Tanner knows Evie has slipped under his skin, but she lives in Australia and his future is under a cloud. Can two people with too many reasons to walk away make the bold decision to stay?

Unknowingly setting herself up for heartbreak when she empties her savings and hops on a flight on the off-chance that the one-night stand with a man she’d known all her life wants her as badly as she wants him, Evie Forrester’s trip to America suddenly seems like a wasted one when it’s clear that Troy Jensen has moved on fully and wholly from her. Her only saving grace is Tanner Harding, another bull rider whose white knight complex insists on taking her in.

Unfortunately, Tanner and Evie weren’t exactly a couple that worked for me, perhaps because the start of this pairing felt too much like an accidental slip into a ‘relationship’ when Tanner was actually a rebound for Evie—for a woman who was hurting for her unrequited love—and Evie was simply someone whom he couldn’t resist. I couldn’t see the draw that brought them together apart from the very obvious physical attraction and Evie’s impulsive naïveté was off-putting at times, particularly with the more worldly Tanner who preferred women like him. It also seemed too easy for Evie, despite all the years of being in love with someone else, to shrug off the heartbreak and fall for Tanner in a matter of days because he’d been good to her, so she did seem emotionally flaky, and well, too needy for my liking.

I do like Sarah Mayberry’s writing however and that’s primarily the reason I requested for this book. Normally I expect heart-wrenching moments with every Mayberry book, but in this case oddly enough, the bull-riding scenes provided me more wide-eyed-wonder moments that had scarce little to do with the romance. From the looks of it, I probably wouldn’t continue with this series and that has more to do with the series not being one I could see myself getting into rather than Mayberry’s assured writing.

two-stars

Hot Mess by Amy Andrews

Posted in Advanced Reader Copy/ Chick Lit/ Contemporary Romance/ Netgalley/ Reviews 26th April 2017
Hot Mess by Amy AndrewsHot Mess by Amy Andrews
Series: Hot Aussie Knights #1
Published by Tule Publishing Pages: 152
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
three-stars

"I never thought I'd get a second chance at a first time with you."

Firefighter Logan Knight thinks it's fate when he meets Arabella Tucker again, nine years after their brief, intense relationship ended. Until he realizes that Bella doesn't recognize him and all of their memories together are completely erased from her memory.

Bella may be oblivious to their history but she can’t deny their scorching chemistry and the possibility of a future with the mystery man from her past. Logan wants a future too, but he can’t go there until Bella knows everything they shared. Her parents, though, want to protect her from the emotional cost of old memories and so Logan is reluctantly persuaded to let the past lie.

But when Bella starts to uncover the truth, she is shocked by the revelations. Can she move beyond the hurt of her shared history with Logan and begin their new story?

Amy Andrews’s take on the second-chance trope is by far, one of the most angsty and the most intense one I’ve read in this genre.

‘Hot Mess’ is a story of heartbreak and rediscovery (with a huge twist written into this trope), and while not entirely unpredictable, does have the elements of deception (even though executed with the best of intentions) and misplaced hope that form the main conflict of the narrative. The coincidental meeting of Logan and Belle starts it all off when Logan gets the biggest shock of his life to learn that Belle has no recollection of their tumultuous past at all after a traumatic accident that stole 9 years of her memories from her. As they reconnect, Logan is desperate for their past to resurface, but it never does and that alone, strains their newfound relationship.

Andrews articulates the process of grief eloquently enough that I could empathise with both Logan and Belle. The former had never stopped hoping for a miracle that never came, leaving him alone to shoulder the burden of their difficult past and that made me feel for him, caught as he was between Belle’s parents and his desire to move onwards with her. Belle on the other hand, had gone through so much on her own and faced a different kind of pressure in her inability to make herself remember, then condemning herself when she couldn’t.

But there isn’t a medical miracle here by any stretch and that alone makes the journey ahead so much harder for both of them. Andrews definitely paints a realistic portrait of what happens when memories are lost forever, and with them, how the pain and the heartbreak that will now stay irretrievably lost because one party cannot remember anything of that time period at all. Both Logan and Belle had been so brave, though it was harder for me to accept Belle walking away so quickly after vowing to fight for Logan this time around. That it was up to Logan to grovel in the end made me wish that Belle had a bit more courage in her to move forward and stick with that decision instead of running when she couldn’t handle things, especially since it actually had to take an accident for her to change her mind about them. Their HEA, after they finally hit rock-bottom the second time around, is a bittersweet one and you do feel as though the characters have sweated blood and tears to get where they needed to be, whether by fate or by coincidence.

‘Hot Mess’ by and large, did surprise me and it’s mostly because I’ve never quite read a second-chance romance like this. But it’s a hard book to ‘like’ because of the subject matter and as morose as I felt at the end, that’s in no way a judgement on Andrews’s deft writing at all.

three-stars

Burning with Desire by Patricia W. Fischer

Posted in Advanced Reader Copy/ Chick Lit/ Contemporary Romance/ Netgalley/ Reviews 21st April 2017
Burning with Desire by Patricia W. FischerBurning with Desire by Patricia W. Fischer
Series: Men of Marietta, #5
Published by Tule Publishing on April 18th 2017
Pages: 188
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
four-stars

As the new owner of the Main Street Diner, chef Gabriella Marcos has taken a huge risk. After being duped by her fiancé and her boss, she invested her entire savings into a place she’s never seen, in a town called Marietta she’s never been to and brought her reluctant teenage daughter along for the adventure. Gabriella is also determined to prove to her overprotective family that she doesn’t need a man to make her life complete. Too bad her sexy new neighbor is impossible to ignore.
Since arriving in Marietta last summer, fireman Kyle Cavasos has enjoyed the anonymity that small town life provides. It’s a far cry from the opulence of Bel Air where he grew up. Here, he can be a Navy vet and a first responder, not the love child who caused a flurry of gossip and tabloid headlines decades ago. Kyle has no intention of getting involved with anyone in Marietta until Gabriella moves in and life gets interesting. Fast.
Despite agreeing to pose for the Marietta Men For All Seasons calendar in order to raise money for Harry's House, Kyle hopes to stay out of the social media chaos, while he gets to know the new girl in town better. But when the calendar goes viral, will it all come crashing down for the both of them?

‘Burning with Desire’ closes the Men of Marietta series not quite with a bang, but certainly not with a whimper. Kyle/Gabrielle was a pairing that I’d been waiting for and it didn’t – by and large – disappoint, though I think I’d expected something a little more exciting and poignant.

Kyle/Gabriella have an attraction to each other almost immediately and they’ve both settled in Marietta for different reasons, yet the things that they’ve left behind turn out to be the very connection that links them together, somewhat coincidentally. I did like Kyle’s backstory though and how he’d made sure that he wasn’t the man his biological father was, which, translated, meant that he was careful with the women he dated. I also liked that he was stubborn enough to make his own honest living as a first responder in a place where fame can’t catch up with him. It was also easy to identify with Gabriella’s gumption and determination to make her new life work for her and her adopted daughter.

It’s only Kyle’s not too little secret that might threaten their newfound relationship, which I didn’t think was that big a deal, as his reasons did seem justified. But as much as I thought it was going to be a huge conflict-climax, I’m sort of glad that Patricia W. Fischer resolved it quite quickly, focusing instead on maintaining equilibrium with just a dialogue that promised more open lines of communication.

I’m a little stuck between 3- and 4-stars for this review, but that’s because I’d hoped for something more, though what ‘more’ really constitutes isn’t something I can exactly articulate. Yet it’s definitely an improvement over the past few books in this series. That it’s quite well-written is a bonus.

four-stars
Back to top

Pin It on Pinterest

X