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REVIEW: Impossible Odds by Jill Ramsower

4 Stars

It was a little difficult for me to get into this book, but man am I glad I did! I’ll admit that I was a little put off by the dark subject matter (I’m more of a “misunderstood biker bad boy who’s never really done anything wrong” kind of fan). To know that everyone in this book either killed people or profited from those deaths made it a little hard to find endearing, but then it hit me: this isn’t a typical romance! Not only is this a family saga and romantic story, it’s a mystery/crime drama to boot.

This modern-day Romeo and Juliet story follows a cartel kingpin’s second-in-command when he sets out to enact a key part of a crucial plan. He didn’t count on falling in love with his rival’s daughter along the way. For her part, Giada knows what her dad does and where their wealth comes from, but is happy to stay out of it until her world collides with that of one of her father’s latest enemies.

Once getting into the murder-for-hire/organized crime mindset, this book was a real delight. Yes, it had some smoldering romantic scenes–honestly fewer than I expected since that wasn’t the only crux of the book–but also so much intrigue, backstabbing, and fierce protectiveness from both the male and female characters. No more wilting wallflowers, today’s romance heroines are here to kick butt and be just as protective as their families.

Be aware, there were a few typos, but I’m sure this review contains just as many! 🙂

REVIEW: The Love Study by Kris Ripper

4 Stars

It’s hard to say that this book was fun (even though it was) because the main character, Declan, carries so much pain, self-doubt, and at times even self-loathing that I wanted more for them. This is one of those really great books that proves (gasp! horrors! what has the world come to?!) that gay people are literally human beings and experience exactly the same emotions and rollercoaster rides in romance that cis hetero people do (sorry haters).

The premise is something straight out of any mainstream (re: book that the traditional publishing industry has been pushing since the dawn of time) fiction: an up-and-coming video-documentarian asks Declan to be their interview subject on a series of dates. It’s meant to be a glimpse into the modern dating world, even though Declan has his doubts. After all, he’s left someone at the altar and still hasn’t forgiven himself for it, even though his love-victim has and is still close friends with him.

The book was endearing in all the right ways and shone a spotlight on a number of issues. Apart from the aforementioned “omg they’re just like us and by us I mean stereotypical status quo,” the author seamlessly uses correct pronouns without batting an eye. It’s a beautiful example of how this whole thing works when people put a microscopic smidgen of effort into it.

Fun, insightful, heart-wrenching at times, and yes, you want to cheer for the good guys! (Make that, good people!)


REVIEW: The Governess Game: Girl Meets Duke by Tessa Dare

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Full disclosure: I’m not a romance “fan” in the way that traditional devotees of the genre are. I enjoy a nice, fun, intriguing romance once in a while to simply relax. I literally read and write for a living, full-time, “oh my god you get to work in your pajamas” and everything. Basically, I don’t read anything more involved than the Hot Pocket instructions for free.

Unless I find myself with some rare time off and a desire to just get swept away by something really fun… and boy, did this book deliver.

First, I loaded up my library loans and Kindle app with books by authors who are taking a very vocal stand on the @RomanceWriters RWA scandal. Heads should roll over what has been a lifetime of intentional racism and homophobia coupled with active attempts at shutting down diverse voices. As a non-member, my best courses of action were to RT the heck out of those who are exposing the truth and buy/borrow books by these authors.

While three of @CourtneyMilan’s are currently on my hold list from my library, I went ahead and bought Tessa Dare’s book after reading a review online (See? Reviewing REALLY HELPS! DO YOUR PART!) and peeking at the sample. It’s just so damn funny!

But then, sh!t gets real. Our FMC is (be still my beating heart) a woman in STEM and lifelong world traveler! She’s not a wilting wallflower looking for a husband, and in fact, spoiler alert she kind of doesn’t have much interest in marriage. Our love-him-hate-him dashing soon-to-be-duke? Damaged doesn’t begin to cover it. The two children who need a governess? Oh no, they’re not side characters who hide away in the nursery while the plot unfolds everywhere but with them… I WANT TO ADOPT THEM MYSELF!

If you thought you knew what a bodice ripper was by stumbling on your grandma’s old brown grocery sack of Harlequin romances while cleaning out her spare room after the funeral, you couldn’t be more wrong. THIS one is so incredibly different while still offering everything we love and enjoy about romance.

Go get it today. You will not be sorry.

REVIEW: The Alien’s Virgin by Morgan Rae

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5 Stars

I’m not going to lie, when I first learned about sci-fi romance a few years ago, I kept having flashbacks to Captain Kirk French kissing a blue-painted woman with antennae. I wondered how this could really be a subgenre of romance, and then I remembered that the best thing about romance titles is there’s literally something for everyone. Whether you like your love stories sweet and clean or down and dirty, you will find something that revs your engine!

In Morgan Rae’s case, it’s the brilliance of world-building that drew me into her book. This was not the formulaic romance novel, as in, “they meet, they hate each other, they break down their differences, they have sex, something happens and they hate each other, then it gets all cleared up and they love each other for all time.” I’ve read SO MANY of those that they’ve all begun to run together.

SPOILER ALERT/HINT: When your heroine is tricked by a Selith prince into leaving the planet while pregnant with the alien chief’s child halfway through the book, it’s not your typical romance novel.

The Alien’s Virgin definitely keeps you guessing, but the attention to detail in the world that Rae has created is unparalleled. Two different alien races are battling for survival and supremacy, but when a human is thrown into the mix as a gift from the Goddess, only those who can seek out love will be able to withstand the fight.

Take a look here while it’s on sale from Enamored Ink: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MG6B84N

REVIEW: The Best Goodbye by Abbi Glines

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Four Stars

I don’t know how Glines does it, but somehow she manages to keep all the various characters and love triangles and parenting relationships straight in the seaside town of Rosemary Beach! I’d have to have a map and a secret decoder ring handy just to keep everyone straight, and to make sure I wasn’t suddenly pairing off a biological brother and sister (although there are certain fetish genres for that…ewwwwww).

In The Best Goodbye, Glines is at it again when it comes to spinning a fun, sexy, yet completely implausible escape read. I know readers–even romance readers–who would turn up their noses at the highly unlikely stories coming out of this quaint yet dark little town, but that’s the whole point, isn’t it? If I wanted to read a book about a normal guy and a normal girl who do normal things and happen to fall in love in a normal way, those books are a dime a dozen.

Glines’ specialty is the “out there” style of romance, and this one doesn’t fail to deliver in that regard. In this instance, River Kipling meets Rose Henderson, and (no spoilers!) you’ll just have to see it for yourself to find out what makes this one so unrealistic but so entertaining at the same time!

REVIEW: More Than You Know by Jennifer Gracen

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Five Stars

From the publisher…

“Hotel owner Dane Harrison, middle brother of a wealthy Long Island family, needs a lounge singer for his new luxury property. With her stunning voice and amazing curves, Julia Shay is perfect. She also seems to be the only woman in New York City who isn’t falling at Dane’s feet. And despite her feisty attitude and his rule against workplace affairs, he wants her—in his arms, in his bed, anywhere and everywhere.

“Julia loves her new job, and she knows better than to think she can keep it and Dane. Even if he wasn’t her boss, Julia’s painful history has given her ample reason to steer clear of rich, powerful charmers. Still, their chemistry is unlike anything she’s known, and when it becomes too much to resist, they agree to one no-strings night together. But instead of quenching the fire, the intense encounter only proves how much they have to lose—or win…”

As a steadfast non-romance reader (or at least someone who reads romance only once in a while, and even then I hide it inside the covers of a physics textbook or something), I have to admit that I wasn’t sure what to expect. And with so many 99cent books flooding the market with their identical covers of the same headless set of abs, it was refreshing to read something with this much plot development and character description. Is it still a romance? Undoubtedly. But it’s one of the more literary ones I’ve read in a long time. Gracen did a really good job setting the scene and building believable characters (re: no inhumanly endowed self-made billionaires who aren’t even old enough to run for President, let alone explain why they’re so rich), and I love how she played off one of her own talents to create her heroine.

More than You Know won’t disappoint!

New Release: Rush Too Far by Abbi Glines

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A bold, new phenomenon has taken place in publishing due to an abundance of readers who clamor for new content. This phenomenon covers the ability to rewrite editions, switch points of view on a previously published story, draft an alternate ending, and more.

One of the more prolific romance authors to offer up alternate view points for her storylines and casts of characters is Abbi Glines, whose Rosemary Beach novels are published by Atria (Simon&Schuster). For many of her novels, often told from the female lead’s viewpoint, Glines returns to the steamy scene of the crime and republishes the male lead’s novel as well.

Such is the case for the book Rush Too Far, which tells the story of Blaire Wynn and Rush Finlay’s heated romance, but this time from Rush’s point of view. I have to say that books like this are actually tricky: there’s a fine line that has to be balanced in several directions. It can’t be so filled with obscure references to a previous book that new readers are lost, but it also can’t be so overexaggerated that long-time fans feel the repetition. That’s coupled with the interesting dynamic that various characters in Glines’ books each have their own series, so at times I felt just a little lost while trying to keep the characters straight.

Overall, this book was another example of everything fun about the romance genre. It keeps things in the realm of steamy fantasy, when the reality of relationships can be far less storybook-worthy. Rush Too Far is available now!

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