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The Bachelor’s Promise by Naima Simone

Posted in Advanced Reader Copy/ Chick Lit/ Contemporary Romance/ Netgalley/ Reviews 15th August 2016
The Bachelor’s Promise by Naima SimoneThe Bachelor's Promise by Naima Simone
Series: Bachelor Auction #3
Published by Entangled: Indulgence on August 29th 2016
Pages: 251
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four-stars

Aiden Kent never expected to see Noelle Rana again. He’s determined to keep his distance from the beautiful enigma wrapped in denim and leather. He can’t trust anyone with the last name Rana. But he made a promise to his dying mother, and it isn't long before Noelle invades his personal space. He can't stop thinking about the exotic beauty's alluring curves.
He wants the daughter of his enemy, and he’s determined to have her…if only for one night.
If Noelle wants to move forward with her life, she must make a deal with the devastatingly gorgeous, broody millionaire Aiden. He made a promise years ago, and she’s come to collect—even if it means facing down the only man who ever broke her heart. And there's a really good chance he'll do it again.

There are too many shades of a Judith McNaught romance that accompanied me throughout this read: the dark, tortured hero screwed over by those he’d trusted and the virgin heroine who’d become the scourge of his existence, the simmering tension, the fraught history and the huge climax that typically involves a screw-up and massive grovelling.

But I do think Naima Simone does pull it off, in what feels like a regency romance superimposed on contemporary Boston as the whole drama between impoverished woman and self-made millionaire plays out.

We caught a glimpse of Aiden in the first Bachelor Auction book (and this starts with one yet again) and his story is almost a mirror-image of Lucas’s one, where a woman from his past comes and asks for money years after he’d cut her out of his life. It’s not quite a rags-to-riches story; neither is it one where a rich guy takes in a street urchin, but one where domestic troubles have led to the estrangement of two people who’d once been close.

Simone has a way of writing into the heart of her characters and I found myself liking Noelle in fact (a lot more than Aiden at least), whose only crime is her last name and the godawful family that she’s associated with. That Aiden continued to paint her into a corner with that paintbrush was fully on him; I liked how Noelle hadn’t manipulated her way into his life again, nor had she done anything that hadn’t already played into his suspicion with a family that had betrayed him in every way.

The share of the blame lies on Aiden’s shoulders, which is a typical ending scenario of his own doing and personally, gratifying to read especially after that sort of self-righteous behaviour he’d displayed through most of the story. My only complaint is the very quick resolution and Noelle’s even quicker forgiveness – especially for someone who’d constantly tagged her as guilty until proven innocent – which seemed to have short-changed that tumultuous relationship which I felt needed more than a simple apology, a declaration of love from Aiden and a session of body painting.

four-stars

Falling for Her Bachelor by Robin Bielman

Posted in Chick Lit/ Contemporary Romance/ Reviews 13th April 2016
Falling for Her Bachelor by Robin BielmanFalling for Her Bachelor by Robin Bielman
Series: Bachelor Auction #2
Published by Tule Publishing on April 12th 2016
Pages: 136
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two-stars

When Navy firefighter Nick Palotay returns to Marietta to go on the bachelor auction block for a good cause, he expects it to be risk free. But when he needs someone safe to bid on him and his sister's best friend is coaxed into stepping up, Nick isn’t prepared for the effect Cassidy has on him. She sends his mind to all kinds of dirty places…places his battered heart can’t afford.
Freelance photographer Cassidy Ware is in waaay over her head. She’s always been Nick’s other little sister, but she’s all grown up now and just a glance from him leaves her hot and bothered. Still, she can stay immune to his charms and keep him at an emotional distance because she’s got an agenda, too. She’ll help the too-handsome Nick with his charitable deed, and, in return, he’ll help her keep an unwelcome suitor at bay.
A deal’s a deal, but when their “business transaction” turns into more pleasure than duty, can they walk away from each other without losing what matters most?

‘Falling for Her Bachelor’ is yet another take on the best friend’s brother’s trope, which I’m a sucker for when done exquisitely.

My personal quibble with the story is simply the nagging feeling that Nick seemed to find every excuse – except for his raging libido – to put above the heroine, as well as his dubious ability to only see her as a pest for so long while putting his long-gone ex on a pedestal. I found that I liked Cassidy more for what she has managed to overcome in her personal life, even if she sold herself short when it came to falling so quickly for Nick and his non-committal ways. The HEA that rolled around simply left me questioning the validity of their relationship beyond the bedroom and frankly, wondering if this would be a couple that could last.

It’s a short, entertaining read nonetheless, but I wish it didn’t quite leave me feeling so unsatisfied with an unbelievable end.

two-stars

The Millionaire Makeover by Naima Simone

Posted in Advanced Reader Copy/ Chick Lit/ Contemporary Romance/ Netgalley/ Reviews 23rd December 2015
The Millionaire Makeover by Naima SimoneThe Millionaire Makeover by Naima Simone
Series: Bachelor Auction, #2
Published by Entangled: Indulgence on February 8th 2016
Pages: 204
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three-stars

Plain-Jane computer programmer Khloe Richardson needs a date—one to make the prince of her dreams jealous. Maybe then he'll finally see her as a desirable swan and not the ugly duckling in the second office from the left.
But when she bids on a bachelor at a charity auction, the man she wins is millionaire Niall Hunter—who once made intense, passionate love to her and then left without a word. She's determined not to let her guard down again—among other things—around the infamous Irish lothario.
Niall never imagined his penance for one hot-as-hell night with his best friend’s little sister would be transforming her from a shy wallflower to a sultry siren. Helping her attract another man is torture...especially when he promised his friend he’d stay away. Plus, she wants forever, and he's not a forever kind of guy. But Niall can't stop wanting her. Can't stop touching her. Can't stop, period. And damn if he can remember why he has to...

A take on the brother’s best friend-Cinderella story, ‘The Millionaire Makeover’ is sort of a typical read from Naima Simone: confidently executed, with left-field exaggerated analogies and metaphors and turn-of-phrases that do dig deep into the romance genre’s exploration of need, want and that time can do to emotional scars.

Yet, as tantalising as this formula is in the hands of a talented author is, I’m left however, sitting on the fence when it comes to the H/hr in question. Niall Hunter is too much of a dislikable protagonist for me; his callous, jaded and cynical manner overwhelm any redeeming qualities that he might have displayed at the very end of the book, but for some inexplicable reason, his apparent predatory manner, good looks and so-called tortured past prove enough to snare a somewhat spineless heroine whom I wish stood up more to him instead of melting into a lump of quivering flesh each time he stalks towards her. And when a character incites more anger rather than reader support, it is consequently near-impossible to bet on this guy whom I can’t honestly say deserves a HEA.

In all, a disappointment because of the rather gormless main characters, but what I felt redeemed the story was the secondary character called Morgan (who should rightly become a fan favourite), whose sneaky, devious but loyal ways made me wish that she had a story of her own to flaunt.

three-stars

Beauty and the Bachelor by Naima Simone

Posted in Advanced Reader Copy/ Chick Lit/ Contemporary Romance/ Fairytale/ Netgalley/ Reviews 27th July 2015
Beauty and the Bachelor by Naima SimoneBeauty and the Bachelor (Bachelor Auction, #1) by Naima Simone
Series: Bachelor Auction #1
Published by Entangled: Indulgence on August 10th 2015
Pages: 236
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four-stars

She may be the highest bidder, but this bachelor's price is blackmail and passion...Billionaire Lucas Oliver is hell bent on revenge. And his plan begins when Sydney Blake-the stunning daughter of his enemy-is tricked into bidding on Lucas at a bachelor auction. Then he serves up a little blackmail...followed by a marriage proposal Sydney has no choice but to accept.
Sydney has been controlled by her family her whole life. When Lucas threatens to reveal her father's shady business, she is once again forced to do her duty for her family. But worse-oh so much worse-is the rush of lust that Lucas ignites in her blood. Lucas is determined to make Sydney suffer, but it's tough when he can't keep from touching her-or thinking about touching her-all the time. She's not fairing much better since she's engaged to a darkly handsome beast intent on destroying her entire family...along with her heart.

Yet another twist in the Beauty and Beast tale, with corporate blackmail and high-flying reputations at stake in this modern version of it. And it all starts with blackmail, a web of lies and a woman who cannot say no to a man who’s feral in the elite business ranks and is out for revenge that’s 15 years in the making.

Lucas aka The Beast, has very little going for him, to be honest. Driven by revenge, consumed by it and letting its fire burn all those around him, it seems his turnaround in the last 5 pages is too easily earned and unbelievably shallow. But Sydney is on the other hand, such a heroine to remember – vulnerable yet dignified and incisively perceptive with a self-sacrificing mien so wide that it threatens to destroy her. Caught between a rock and a hard place, she earned my utmost admiration with the way she handled every manoeuvre with Lucas’s unreasonable blackmail.

Naima Simone’s flowing prose, as always, cuts to the heart of human emotions, peeling them raw for the reader with the sheer power of words, which is primarily the reason why I’m always drawn to her writing, even if some characters appeal less than others.

four-stars
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