Archive for the ‘BOYS are just BETTER in BOOKS (Romance and Indie Authors)’ Category

breakableSTOLE MY HEART!

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I am not a fan of retells, so I had a few concerns when I heard one of my favorites, Easy, was being written from Lucas’s point of view. Let me assure everyone … this isn’t a retell at all, but a FANTASTIC story all on its own. Ms. Webber delivers a powerful tale of how Landon became Lucas. The development of this character is written so well, I felt as though I was in the room watching the entire story play out. More importantly, I fell in love with him all over again. This is a wonderful companion novel and a completely new story that compliments Easy perfectly. I appreciated the development of the character, Charles Heller. In Easy, we were introduced to the relationship between the two, but little insight was given to the depths of their relationship. Knowing Heller’s influence and relationship with Lucas explained a few of Lucas’s decisions where Jacqueline was concerned. I thoroughly enjoyed the friendships Lucas maintained over the years, and LOVED his relationship with his grandfather. Lucas was drowning in so many layers of guilt and anguish, I appreciated that it took many people, not just Jacqueline, to peel all those layers away. Breakable ranks at the top of my MUST READ list for 2014. This is fiction at its best. Powerful, thought-provoking, amazing, and maybe … even better than the story that started it all!

the pairingMY HEART LOVES A HAPPY ENDING!

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Katie Ashley has done it again! If you’re a fan of The Proposition and The Proposal, then you’ll love this story as well. This one has no angst or broken hearts – only pure romance at its best! We were first introduced to Pesh in The Proposal as he pursued a relationship with Emma. Learning quickly that were only meant to be friends, Pesh quickly became a hero when he saved the day getting Aidan back to Emma in time to witness the birth of his son. In The Pairing, Emma has asked Pesh to be the baby’s godparent. At the baptism, he spends a great deal of time with Megan – the other godparent. We met Megan in The Proposition. Megan is Aidan’s niece, a young unmarried mother of a toddler. Megan has moved back home in order to finish nursing school and is assigned to Pesh’s ER to complete her clinical rotation. What develops is a friendship paired with mutual respect. Megan has experienced two failed relationships while Pesh lost is first true love to cancer. Pesh has some old-fashioned ways and works his honest magic on both Megan and her son. What I loved was the entire Fitzgerald clan was back in full force, and it was great to catch up with Aidan and Emma. As always, Aidan brings nothing but humor to the story! And … Surpise! There is even a little crossover from Beat of the Heart! As always, Katie Ashley delivers a superb dialogue-driven story with crew of fabulous supporting characters, and a storyline that keeps the reader wanting more. I thought a twist or two was needed to spice up their romance, but in the end the HEA was beautiful ending. However, I also believe the epilogue moved way too fast and the lack of any conflict made the overall story slightly dull. Not as great as The Proposition, but a fun, quick read. If you’re looking for a solid romance with very little angst – this is the book for you!

twisted by emma chaseMY HEART LOVES A HAPPY ENDING!

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I have to begin with … I LOVED Tangled. In fact, we loved it so much at Gone Readin’, we listed Tangled as the BEST NEW ROMANCE find for 2013. We loved the new humorous take on a bad boy looking for redemption, and actually fell in love with the KING of all bad boys, Drew Evans. I seriously hate to write these next words … what happened? I was looking forward to hearing Kate’s voice as the story continued with Twisted, but I feel like I just read another story from Drew. Kate Brooks is a powerful, independent woman in Tangled. In this story, she is wimpy and has absolutely no backbone when it comes to Drew. The bottom line is that it’s next to impossible to like either character in this installment. Drew went from being a bad boy to the biggest jackass on the planet. Kate went from a woman we can all admire to a great big lump of goo. The story had a few redeeming moments. First off, I love dialogue driven stories, and Emma Chase is a master of delivering exactly that. Second, the sex was HOT, HOT, HOT right from the start. Third, I loved that Kate took us back to her hometown and had time with her mother. I love a great family drama, and my only disappointment is that I wanted MORE interaction with her mom. Giving her mother a little romance with one of the men from Kate and Drew’s firm was genius. Finally, the scene at the park was written beautifully. This scene alone keeps our review at THREE HEARTS! I’m not a big Delores fan, and am not crazy that all her interactions with Drew are so physical. Even though I’d like to knock him into next week too, it’s a bit overdone. Emma Chase is a brilliant, witty writer, and Gone Readin’ will continue to devour all of her work. I believe the days of a continued book series might be on its way out, and Twisted just became the newest victim of the second book blues. After a gem like Tangled, I hoped for greatness again. Getting the epilogue from Drew gave the ending the HEA we all want! I’m hoping and praying TAMED will be from Drew’s POV, and will be as funny as Tangled. Fingers Crossed!!

ROMEMY HEART IS FULL OF LOVE!

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This is the third installment in the Marked Men series, and in my opinion … the best of the three. Rome Archer (Rule’s brother) has returned from Afghanistan a changed man. He’s suffering from PTSD, has a problem with alcohol, and is still reeling from his little brother’s (Remy) death. Rome interacts with everyone on the canvas, but it’s his interaction with Cora that goes above any of the other romances created by Jay Crownover.  Cora, “Tink” is still dealing with the heartbreak from her last romance. She’s decided, she’ll never settle again, and hopes to find the perfect man. She is a tough strong woman, and I love her outspoken personality. Her relationship with Rome is tension-filled from the very beginning, but their romance is sweet, tender, hot, and incredibly sexy. This couple is the most realistic from the Marked Men series, and I enjoyed every single interaction. The storyline wasn’t original but it is as real as life can get. All of our favorite characters are back in supporting roles, but they weren’t needed as much as in the other books. However, Rome’s memories of Remy, and his ups and downs with Rule made me believe in their family drama. I love the development of Rome and Asa’s friendship, and the introduction of Brite is simply fabulous. I love dialogue driven stories, which is not Jay Crownover’s typical style. I crave more interaction between characters, and prefer that over character thought driven stories. But there was enough dialogue between Cora and Rome to overlook that missing ingredient. This is truly a story of how opposites can attract, and is the first in this series where the man is “unmarked.” I love how this “marked” woman tamed this angry broken man. This is chemistry at its best!

JET2MY HEART LOVES A HAPPY ENDING!

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I liked Rule and Shaw’s story – but I didn’t fall head of heels completely in love with the characters. I had high hopes for Ayden and Jet’s story once the foreshadowing began in Rule. The development of a possible love story for these two characters seemed like it would be a very hot, steamy, read. This is what I looked forward to – and that’s where everything went wrong. There was VERY LITTLE hot and steamy togetherness! The progression of their love affair was agonizingly slow. From the beginning, I had trouble with Ayden. I didn’t feel she had as strong a presence with Jet as Shaw did with Rule. This is personal, because I always hope for a strong female lead, or at the very least … a couple that knocks my socks off. The storyline was okay, but I didn’t care for Ayden’s back story. Other the other hand, I LOVED Jet’s story. I love a sensitive tatted up talented rocker. In fact, I wanted more interaction with his family and especially his mom. I wanted him to save the day, and have a beautiful reunion. I also wanted more of Jet singing Ayden to sleep. This was eluded to – but not capitalized on – a missed very hot opportunity. I always look for a dialogue driven story – which isn’t Jay Crownover’s style of writing. I always find myself skimming text that is heavy in character thought. I would love for these passages to be broken up a bit with character interaction. I also look for a great supporting cast – and here’s where Crownover shines. Rule and Shaw are back along with the entire crew from the tattoo shop. We are also introduced to Rule’s brother Rome in the epilogue setting up the third book well. I absolutely loved the last three chapters, and was pleasantly surprised at the direction the story took.

rule by Jay CrownoverMY HEART IS FULL OF LOVE!

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When scrolling through my Kindle selections one rainy afternoon, I opened Rule and realized I had already read the entire story months ago. For some reason, my review never made it to the blog or Amazon. At first I was sure I had heard this story before. The hallowed virgin falls for the marked, pierced bad boy. But there is so much more to this story. Not only did Ms. Crownover give us a beautiful romance between two colossal opposites, she also created an intriguing family drama. Throw in a few suspenseful moments centering around the dead twin brother, and a different kind of romance story is born. This is Shaw and Rule’s story. Shaw Landon is the perfect person. She’s pre-med, gets superb grades, works hard, and spends a great deal of time trying to help the Archer family heal after the sudden death of Rule’s twin Remy. Rule has it in his head, that Shaw was Remy’s girl, and they he somehow failed his brother. He lives in a drunken stupor with a different girl falling into his bed every night. But Rule didn’t know Remy’s secret, and doesn’t know that Shaw has been in love with him forever. I found myself skimming this book A LOT – because I want … no, I crave dialogue. That is where this one fell short for me. I want my characters interacting with one another. Instead, the author gives the reader most of the details needed through character thoughts and descriptions. And … this book is long. A long 432 pages is considered lengthy for a romance. The plot however, was well-framed. Many reviewers have criticized this story for being “the same old story.” The romance of the story is typical. Rich girl falls for bad boy, but the family drama, and the inclusion of Rule’s family helped this story seem different. The characters are well developed, and are surrounded by an exceptional supporting cast. At first, I thought there were too many supporting mates – but I love how they all compliment Shaw and Rule’s character traits and flaws. The physical relationship that develops is steamy, but it’s their love story that’s pretty special. Rule and Shaw are now one of my favorite power couples. Apart their characters barely sizzle, but together they are a force to be reckoned with.

TIED WITH ME by Kristen ProbyMY HEART LOVES A HAPPY ENDING!!

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Let me introduce you to the Montgomery Clan …
In the first five installments of the With Me series, we are introduced to a Hollywood heartthrob, a beautiful investment banker, a professional football player, a rock star, and a hunky Navy SEAL. Tied With Me takes a look at one of the older Montgomery siblings, Matt Montgomery. Matt is a detective with the Seattle Police Department, but has a kinky side. Nicole Dalton, owner and operator of her own bakery, attends a sex/fetish show with her BFF against her better judgment. What follows is an adventurous night of passion with the kinky detective. But that night is interrupted when Brynna and her girls fall victim to a terrible car accident (from Safe With Me). Nicole mistakenly believes Matt must be married when she overhears his conversation about the accident. When they run into each other again at Caleb and Brynna’s wedding, Nicole makes a half-hearted attempt to leave whatever began with Matt in the past. What develops is a quick and simple introduction to Matt’s kinkier side, and a very fast-paced love affair. Matt is fiercely loyal to his family and friends, but the very beautiful Nic Dalton throws him off his game early on. This BDSM tale felt a little stale – like I heard it all before. Many of Matt’s lines sounded like they were ripped from another series. The previous books all hinted that Matt’s character held some major secret, but his secret was simply boring. I wanted more action, more mystery, and more intrigue. As always, we get a dynamic dialogue driven story with a side of sex. The sexual connection between the two is powerful and interesting. The entire Montgomery clan steps into the supporting roles, with all of the characters from the previous books present and accounted for. The best new character is the Montgomery matriarch, Gail Montgomery. What a breath of fresh air she gives to this story. My favorite part of the entire book is the interaction between Gail and Nicole. What is missing is an actual plot. I’m still not sure what the story is about, other than Matt’s need to dominate his lady sexually. Nic also has some health issues that become part of the storyline, but that isn’t enough to carry the entire story. Unfortunately, this installment is a tremendous let-down after Safe With Me (which I believe is the best so far!) The entire story felt rushed and predictable. But I love those Montgomery boys and how much they love their ladies and family. This unique family drama draws me in, and leaves me wanting more. I love Kristen Proby’s books and wonder if her over-taxed writing schedule is leaving her latest projects a bit undercooked. I’m still anxious for Mark and Meredith’s story, and will follow the Montgomery family stories for as long as Ms. Proby continues to write them.

MAYBE SOMEDAY by Colleen HooverCOMPLETELY 100% STOLE MY HEART – WISH I COULD GIVE IT 100 HEARTS!

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Colleen Hoover never ceases to amaze me. I finished this book … the first time, and just read it again. I also purchased Griffin Peterson’s EP, the Maybe Someday soundtrack, and I’m head over heels in love with it all. There’s more than romance here. It’s a story about morals, values, friendships, and choices. There’s a lesson or two as well. Prior to opening this ebook, I thought I had a pretty good idea of how this story would play out. I thought I read enough of Colleen’s teasers, and watched enough of the Youtube videos to know. Boy oh boy was I wrong! WRONG, wrong, wrong, wrong ….
To be honest, I was a bit worried when I first started reading this tale. I loathe love-triangles. I find it difficult to love the principle parts and impossible to sympathize with their plight. But Hoover is a genius, and she hit it out of the park again. The reason? Her love stories are built on a solid foundation of friendship first. I respect that. Add in a dose of beautiful music – and magic is made!
Griffin Peterson’s music has touched my heart in a way that’s difficult to explain. His soulful sound brings me to tears every time I listen to Let It Begin. The entire song collection is beautifully scripted to the story, and adds depth to the storyline.
This dialogue driven story is written so well, I finished it in one sitting. Ridge and Sydney are a reader’s dream. They’re far from perfect, but their imperfections make them easy to love. Their flaws are so easy to forgive. They both have a sense of humor that’s witty and clever – even when the situation isn’t funny. Finally, both Ridge and Sydney are selfless – a character trait difficult to find these days (both in books and the real world). As an avid reader, I always look for great secondary characters. They breathe life into the principle parts along with great dialogue. In Maybe Someday, Ms. Hoover also gives a Warren. I love Warren. I want Warren to be my best friend. He is the epitome of a best friend. He’s loyal, hysterical, over-protective, and free-spirited. No spoilers from this reviewer, but the last chapter completely blew me away. I think I’ve read it three times … maybe four. And by the way Colleen … I’m still listening to my heart.

 

FEARLESS by Rachel Van DykenSTOLE MY HEART!!

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This book not only stole my heart, but mended it as well. Wes Michels is one of my favorite new characters this year, and the incredible love story told in Ruin is one of my favorite reads. Fearless, a short novella, is the continuation of Wes and Kiersten’s beautiful story. In this installment, the reader is given a look at how their romance progresses. Please note that this story should be read after Toxic. Fearless takes the reader into the future, after Wes has graduated and been drafted by the Seattle Seahawks. Reminded that life can change in the blink of an eye, Wes decides he cannot wait to make Kiersten his wife, and delivers the most romantic proposal I’ve ever read! With the help of their friends, he has planned a surprise wedding and honeymoon. What I love most about the Ruin Series are the diary entries at the beginning of each chapter. The message contained within these entries is so raw and emotional, I found myself re-reading them several times. Fearless is dialogue driven and is strongly supported by the entire cast from both Ruin and Toxic. We get to see Gabe and Saylor, as well as the beginning of Lisa’s story. The third installment in the Ruin series, Shame, will finally give the background needed to understand Lisa.  I felt slightly disappointed by the wedding ceremony itself, and believe the location was more than a little weird. Additionally, Kiersten’s dialogue was decidedly short, and full of too many blubbering tears. These two are such a dynamic couple, I wanted them to have a beautiful, romantic, small ceremony in the company of their friends and family. I felt the location took something away from that. The arrival at the wedding night hotel was also a bit strange. I’m not sure the blindfold was completely necessary. I believe Kiersten’s meltdown in the hotel was necessary, and the dialogue that followed would have felt more realistic and emotional if she could look into her husband’s eyes. Despite the few issues I have with the entire wedding scene, the opening diary entries more than make up for any problems with the plot. Thanks Rachel for another beautiful Wes and Kiersten story!

TOXIC by Rachel Van DykenMY HEART IS FULL OF LOVE!

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The title worried me, but the story sucked me in from the very first word. This is the companion book to Ruin, and they should be read in order. Readers get their first look at Gabe in Ruin, and we are treated to the development of a great friendship between him and Wes. Gabe is a bit of a mystery with very little back story delivered in Ruin. All we know is that he is a student and Lisa’s cousin. Early in Toxic we learn that Gabe is a gifted musician and hiding a deep, dark secret – his true identity. He’s covered his body in tattoos, and dyes his hair in order to hide. Literally running into Saylor rocks his world. The two are drawn together, but fight the connection from the start. Saylor is a music student at the same college. As a classical trained pianist, she’s overcome with emotion with she hears Gabe play. The closer she gets to him, the harder she fights the attraction. Each chapter opens with a diary entry from Gabe, Saylor, or Wes. The depth of emotion that builds from these short paragraphs is tremendous. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this start to every chapter. This dialogue driven story is supported by a tremendous cast of characters. Wes and Kiersten are back, but it’s Wes who we see the most. He and Gabe bonded in Ruin, and became best friends. Too many books only give readers friendships among women. This is a welcome change. We also learn more about Lisa, Gabe’s “cousin.” She will be front and center in the third installment, Shame. I have a few issues with some of the timing of major events in this story (no spoilers here!), but this is definitely more than just a romance novel. I wish more had been explored with Gabe and Saylor’s love of music – perhaps a collaborative song writing scene or even a joint performance. Their relationship did not feel as romantic and Wes and Kiersten’s love story, but that’s probably because most of the book is devoted to unveiling “Gabe’s big secret.” Overall, readers will get their HEA, and a story with a beautiful lesson about true love.