Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Review ~ Masked Innocence ~ Alessandra Torre #ShelfLove

Masked Innocence (Innocence, #2)Masked Innocence by Alessandra Torre
Innocence #2
Release Date: February 25, 2014
Genre: Adult, Contemporary Romance, Erotic Romance
Source: Purchased on Kindle
Rating: 4 Bookworms
Challenges#ShelfLove
Goodreads

Synopsis
The man was sinful. It wasn't just the looks that made him dangerous, it was the cocky confidence that dominated every move, every touch. And the frustrating yet ecstatic fact about the whole package was that he could back it all up...
Julia Campbell never knows what to expect with win-at-all-costs Brad De Luca. And she's starting to like it that way. She gave up safe, conventional relationships when she let the elite divorce attorney seduce her into his world. Now that he's determined to strip her naked of every inhibition, she's in danger of falling too deep and too fast.
But their attraction begins to feel even more dangerous when a murder leaves a trail of suspicion that points straight to the mob...and Brad. Trusting a man with a bad reputation and a past full of secrets seems like a mistake. But when she's forced to make a choice, the consequences will take her further than she could ever have imagined.



With Masked Innocence, I could tell Torre was beginning to hit her stride writing-wise. Her prose began to flow more smoothly. However, there were still editing issues such as the use of wrong words.

The story revolving around Julia and Brad continued with Julia's sexual awakening, Brad's willingness to change because of Julia, and their relationship growing stronger. The tone of this installment changed though with the added element of suspense.

Julia and Brad face a few obstacles in their relationship - dealing with an event within the firm, talk behind and to their faces regarding their relationship, and the reveal of a major secret. Seeing them deal with these obstacles, the emotional growth they experience - was fascinating.

Besides the editing issues, I also felt a few incidents were treated a little lightly when they could have made more of an impact. Of course, that might have really changed the tone. ;) Oh well. I'm continuing to enjoy Brad and Julia and am jumping into the final book NOW.


Monday, August 21, 2017

Blog Tour Review & Giveaway ~ Fool of Main Beach ~ Tara Lain (@taralain @VivianaIzzo @dreamspinners) #2017NewRelease



Fool of Main Beach (Love in Laguna, #5)
Fool of Main Beach by Tara Lain
Love in Laguna #5
Release Date: August 21, 2017
Genre: Adult, M/M Contemporary Romance
Source: I received a complimentary copy as part of the blog tour. This did not affect my rating and my review is voluntarily provided.
Rating: 5 Bookworms
Challenges: #2017NewRelease, #COYER
Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ B&N 

Synopsis
The unlikeliest of lovers. The sweetest of loves.

Merle Justice wants to reach for the stars, but it's tough to get respect when playing a teenybopper vampire on TV. Then he meets a famous director anxious to give him all he thinks he wants - and maybe a bit more. Everything's looking up until a life-threatening encounter with some homophobes on Main Beach puts Merle face-to-face with a Sasquatch-sized hero in a pink puffer coat.

Tom Henry defies description. As unsophisticated and simple as an angel, he walks through life content with who he is and asking for very little except to care for his sister, Lily, and the dogs he loves. Then he meets Merle, the embodiment of dreams he barely knows he has. Merle knows the people who hold his future in their hands might love Tom - but they'll never understand Merle and Tom together. Tom knows it too. With lives far apart, who's really the fool of Main Beach?






Tara Lain's Love in Laguna series is a favorite of mine. Lain always delivers a meaty story along with a touching romance. And all the characters thus far are friends (or become friends) so I always get to check-in with them. Fool of Main Beach delivers on all counts and then some. Here are some highlights from all the goody-goodness:
  • Merle
    He's an actor and a really good guy. He's handsome and charming but also down-to-earth, which means he isn't so fond of all the Hollywood hoopla. His family, while completely accepting of his sexuality, isn't so accepting of his career choice seeing as they're more of the intellectual type. This affects Merle's self-esteem as he wants to be taken seriously and he wants their respect. When he's given the chance at those things, he has to decide whether he wants others' respect or to be able to respect himself.
  • Tom
    Oh my gosh did I adore this man! He's described once as guileless and that's a fair description. He's really smart but has some learning disabilities. He also is open and honest, not understanding social cues or following social etiquette when offering his opinions. Tom's hardworking and loyal to a fault, taking care of his family despite them kicking him out at 15 because of his sexuality. 
  • Character Development
    Both Merle and Tom grow over the course of the story. Tom learns to stand up to his parents and speak up for himself. But Merle does the most growing, learning that he deserves happiness in life whether others approve or respect his choices or not.
  • Social Commentary
    This is an element I love in Lain's stories - religion and sexuality, bigotry, homophobia...I admire that she weaves it into her stories (without brow-beating) because it's a reality.
  • Tom (yes, again)
    I was a bit worried over how Tom would be handled. As I said, he's guileless, but considered "simple" by some of the characters and he's anything but simple. His character had to be handled "just right" in my opinion to make the story work and Lain handled him with aplomb.
  • Dogs
    I would be remiss if I didn't mention the dogs. Tom volunteers at an animal shelter and is particularly fond of dogs. As a dog lover myself, I felt a strong affinity for Tom because of his love and care for these animals and Lain did a nice job giving the dogs their own personalities.
In the end, this might have moved into the top spot as my favorite in this series so far!





**Love in Laguna Series**


Knight of Ocean Avenue


Knave of Broken Hearts


Prince of the Playhouse





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Tara Lain writes the Beautiful Boys of Romance in gay romance novels that star her unique, charismatic heroes. Her first novel was published in January of 2011 and she’s now somewhere around book 40. Her best­-selling novels have Best Series, Best Contemporary Romance, Best Paranormal Romance, Best Ménage, Best LGBT Romance, Best Gay Characters, Best Romantic Suspense, and more. In her other job, Tara owns an advertising and public relations firm. She often does workshops on both author promotion and writing craft. She lives with her soul­mate husband and her soul­mate dog near the sea in California she sets a lot of her books. Passionate about diversity, justice, and new experiences, Tara says on her tombstone it will say “Yes”!






Friday, August 18, 2017

Review ~ I'll Meet You There ~ Heather Demetrios #2017HW #COYER #ShelfLove

I'll Meet You ThereI'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios
Release Date: February 3, 2015
Genre: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Romance
Source: Purchased Hardback 
Rating: 5 Bookworms
Challenges: #2017HW, #COYER, #ShelfLove
Goodreads

Synopsis
If Skylar Evans were a typical Creek View girl, her future would involve a double-wide trailer, a baby on her hip, and the graveyard shift at Taco Bell. But after graduation, the only thing separating Skylar from art school is three months of summer...until Skylar's mother loses her job, and Skylar realizes her dreams may be slipping out of reach.

Josh had a different escape route: the Marines. But after losing his leg in Afghanistan, he returns home, a shell of the cocksure boy he used to be.

What brings Skylar and Josh together is working at the Paradise - a quirky motel off California's Highway 99. Despite their differences, their shared isolation turns into an unexpected friendship and, soon, something deeper.

Compelling and ultimately hopeful, this is a powerful examination of love, loss, and resilience.



I procured this gem after reading Tanya's review (Girl Plus Books) and I can't thank her enough for the recommendation! I'll Meet You There is a moving read, powerful, and I'm thrilled I put it on my HW list.

Skylar has just graduated from high school and is preparing for college in San Francisco where she has a full ride scholarship in art. Embarking on this new journey is daunting especially because even though leaving Creek View, a dead-end town, is her dream, she's leaving the familiar and her friends, not to mention her mom lost her job and is losing it. And then there's this boy...

Josh escaped Creek View when he graduated by enlisting in the Marines. He's back home now after suffering a traumatic injury. He's dealing with figuring out what he is if not a Marine as well as parents who are lackluster (an extreme understatement)...And he can't stop thinking about this girl...

This story of a girl, who's dealt with so much loss and pain, figuring out how she's going to move onto the next phase when it's going to mean leaving behind what she's only just realizing is a big part of her, meshed with the story of a boy who's dealing with his own brand of loss and pain coupled with guilt after all he saw and experienced in Afghanistan...well, it made for an incredibly emotional and gripping read. The detail -- the emotion of it -- was very genuine and realistic. The alternating POV, even though primarily related from Skylar's, provided that much more understanding for what they were experiencing. The format of Josh's POV was unique and really gave a fascinating glimpse into his psyche. The inclusion of Skylar's art -- collages -- was also distinct and well done. The secondary cast is well drawn, allowing me to see the impact they each make on Skylar's and Josh's lives. Honestly, there isn't anything I didn't like about the story. This was my first Demetrios read but it certainly won't be my last. She delivered a meaty, engaging, and realistic young adult story!




Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Review ~ Blindfolded Innocence ~ Alessandra Torre #ShelfLove

Blindfolded Innocence (Innocence, #1)Blindfolded Innocence by Alessandra Torre
Innocence #1
Release Date: January 28, 2014
Genre: Adult, Contemporary Romance, Erotic Romance
Source: Kindle Freebie
Rating: 4 Bookworms
Challenges#ShelfLove
Goodreads

Synopsis
"I'm not sure what you have been told about me, but I'm not nearly as bad as they make me out to be." His deliciously deep voice carried a little bit of ego.

I'm sure you are exactly as bad as they make you out to be...

Brad De Luca is used to getting whatever and whomever he wants. The premier divorce attorney in town, he's a playboy who's bedded half the city--including his own clients. And when the newest intern at his firm poses a challenge, his seductive prowess goes into overdrive.

Pre-law student Julia Campbell is fresh off a failed engagement and happy with her new independence. Even if she weren't warned away from Brad at every turn, she'd know he was bad news. The last thing she needs is a man who could destroy her job prospects, not to mention her innocence. But before she knows it, the incorrigible charmer has her under his spell. His deviant tastes plunge her deep into a forbidden world of sexual exploration...but her heart may not survive the fall.



Okay, I admit to knowing almost nothing going into this book except that I'd heard good things about it. I'd only read a novella by Torre prior to this one - which I loved - but she's an author I seem to collect. :) Anyway, I enjoyed Blindfolded Innocence. Here's what worked for me and what could have worked better:

What Worked:

  • Premise - Blindfolded Innocence has a very interesting premise. Young pre-law student/intern, despite warnings and her better judgement, gets involved with an attorney in the firm.
  • Character development - Julie and Brad are well-defined and we witness their emotional growth - how they change, or begin to - once they become involved.
  • Sexual exploration - we're along for the ride as Julia explores her sexuality with Brad - her safety net. The journey is interesting, provocative, and we get to see it changing Brad as well.
What Could Have Worked Better:
  • First novel hiccups - Torre's writing wasn't quite as fluid as it becomes later. (I can say this with certainty having read the entire Innocence trilogy as well as another novella from Torre) There were editing issues - mostly the use of wrong words - that stuck out for me.
Overall, meeting Brad De Luca was as exciting as promised and I like the changes I'm seeing in him affected by his interest in Julia.




Saturday, August 12, 2017

My TBR List ~ August ~ And the Winner is...

MyTBRList

My To-Be Read List is a meme hosted by Michelle @Because Reading. You're more than welcome to join in the fun! Click on the graphic above to hop over to Michelle's site where you can find all the details. 


***

Thanks so much for voting, y'all!!



And the Winner is:

Faking It (Losing It, #2)Faking It
Losing It #2

Synopsis
Mackenzie "Max" Miller has a problem. Her parents have arrived in town for a surprise visit, and if they see her dyed hair, tattoos, and piercings, they just might disown her. Even worse, they're expecting to meet a nice, wholesome boyfriend, not a guy named Mace who has a neck tattoo and plays in a band. All her lies are about to come crashing down around her, but then she meets Cade.

Cade moved to Philadelphia to act and to leave his problems behind in Texas. So far though, he's kept the problems and had very little opportunity to take the stage. When Max approaches him in a coffee ship with a crazy request to pretend to be her boyfriend, he agrees to play the part. But when Cade plays the role a little too well, they're forced to keep the ruse going. And the more they fake the relationship, the more real it begins to feel.




Check back on August 26 for my review!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Review ~ Where the Four Winds Collide ~ Hildie McQueen #ShelfLove

Where the Four Winds CollideWhere the Four Winds Collide by Hildie McQueen
Six Pack Ranch #1
Release Date: January 1, 2013
Genre: Adult, Historical Romance, Western
Source: Contest Win 
Rating: 3.5 Bookworms
Challenges#ShelfLove
Goodreads

Synopsis
Adeline Buckley escapes her abusive father only to find herself in a brothel, on a stagecoach to the untamed west and married to a stranger, all in that order. Plotting another escape becomes harder, the more she gets to know her new husband.

Jackson Pruitt didn't expect a secretive mail order bride to show up the same week cattle wrestlers absconded with a large part of his herd. The bigger surprise was the loveliness of the woman. Why would a beauty like her need to travel so far to marry?

Jackson and Adeline learn that secrets and marriage do not go hand-in-hand when both of their pasts comes knocking and both have to come to grips with the reality, that sometimes trust comes only after you lose it all.




I was drawn to this book for its historical element and that it's set in West Texas - for the most part - where I'm originally from. This served as my introduction to McQueen and I'm not a fan. I'll certainly seek out more from her.

What Worked:

  • Character development. I quite enjoyed the characters. Adeline was well drawn as this young woman who's been mistreated by the men in her life - one who's been seen as property and insignificant. I liked watching her blossom under Jackson's treatment. Jackson is a good man. He's fair, hard-working, loyal, and he shows all these attributes once Adeline comes into his life. Secondary characters were well-drawn too, overall. There were a few that seemed more one-dimensional but they weren't all that important to the plot.
  • Mail-order bride trope. I liked McQueen using this element. There was definitely a lack of women in the territories as the U.S. expanded west and this theme was well used in the story.
  • The drama. The elements of the story used to create drama and tension felt genuine and realistic.
  • The detail of daily life. I liked seeing Jackson work the cattle and Adeline go about daily chores.
What Could Have Worked Better:
  • The detail of daily life. While I liked seeing Jackson work the cattle and Adeline go about daily chores, a bit more detail would have been welcomed.
  • Speech. This story is set in West Texas where there is a definite pattern of speech and an accent. This is nit-picky of me but being from the area, I'd have liked to have had the accent conveyed.
  • The resolutions. There were 3-4 plot points where the resolutions were a bit too easily come by.
Despite my "issues" with Where the Four Winds Collide, this story was inherently readable. I looked forward to picking it up and finished it rather quickly. My introduction to McQueen was pleasurable and I'll be reading more from her.






Wednesday, August 9, 2017

New Release Review ~ Until You Loved Me ~ Brenda Novak (@BrendaNovak) #2017NewRelease

Until You Loved Me (Silver Springs, #3)Until You Loved Me by Brenda Novak
Silver Springs #3
Release Date: July 25, 2017
Genre: Adult, Contemporary Romance
Source: I received a complimentary copy from the author. This did not affect my rating and my review is provided voluntarily.
Rating: 4.5 Bookworms
Challenges: #2017NewRelease
Goodreads

Synopsis
Sometimes starting over means finding everything you've been missing...

After catching her fiance cheating - with another man - usually straight-laced, workaholic scientist Ellie Fisher liberates her wild side  just long enough to indulge in a passionate one-night-stand with a tall, dark stranger she meets at a trendy Miami bar. Embarrassed by her recklessness, she ducks out the following morning without learning the guy's full name, something that shouldn't have been a problem...until a pregnancy test turns positive.

Being a professional football player, Hudson King has always been cautious around women. But this one had been different - so disinterested in his celebrity, so convincingly into him. When Ellie tracks him down, claiming she's carrying his baby, he's stunned. And more than a little betrayed.

But after growing up as an orphan, he'll do anything to stay involved in his child's life, so he urges Ellie to move to Silver Springs where they can co-parent. Hudson has a lot of love to give - certainly enough for his child, and when their initial spark reignites, perhaps for Ellie too...



This third installment in the Silver Springs series had a little different feel in that it didn't all take place in Silver Springs, and we didn't spend much time in town or with the locals. But I certainly didn't love it any less!

Hudson King is a graduate of New Horizons, the school for troubled boys located in Silver Springs. Being a starting quarterback for a professional football team, he's a success story for the school and he spends a lot of time and money mentoring the boys there. But Hudson's life prior to New Horizons wasn't smooth. He was abandoned and passed in and out of foster homes so much he has a difficult time trusting anyone...especially women.

Ellie Fisher is doing post-doctoral work in immunology - specifically diabetes. She's always been more likely to spend time with a book or in the lab than out with people. Recently, she's been dealing with a broken engagement having found her fiance with another man...both of whom she works with.

Hudson and Ellie meeting seems serendipitous. He appreciates the fact she doesn't seem to know who he is and he can, therefore, relax and be himself. She appreciates that he doesn't seem to mind discussing philosophy, science, politics, and religion over making small talk. When they both throw caution to the wind and spend the night together, things seem perfect. But Ellie runs the next morning, mortified over her reckless behavior. Unfortunately, 7 weeks later she's dealing with the consequences of that night...alone.

The circumstances of Ellie and Hudson reuniting were entertaining, and then kinda scary. Watching as they move past feelings of betrayal and recriminations was endearing. Seeing them learn to trust one another and make an attempt at building a life together, for the sake of their child, was as well. Novak once again delivered a riveting story with such well developed characters. Hudson's issues and actions and reactions were all so true to who he was and the man, and father, he wanted to be. Ellie was the most genuine person you could ever meet. I couldn't imagine not liking her. Being witness to them building on their chemistry, turning it into so much more while dealing with difficult life changes...well, it's something I've come to expect from Novak, something she does well. And she didn't let me down.

Once again, I'm clamoring for my next visit to Silver Springs.


Saturday, August 5, 2017

My TBR List ~ August ~ Polling is Open!

MyTBRList

My To-Be Read List is a meme hosted by Michelle @Because Reading. I think it's a fabulous idea because it gets y'all in the game and it helps me knock off some of the many, many books on my TBR list. You're more than welcome to join in the fun! I've included the basic rules below but you can click on the graphic above to hop over to Michelle's site where you can find all the details. 

Here's how it works:
On the first Saturday of each month, I will make a post with three books from my TBR List (these books can be already on your ereader or bookshelf OR books you might want to purchase) and add your link on the linky that will be provided on Michelle's post. Y'ALL will help me choose which book I will read next. The following Saturday, I will announce which book won. Then the last Saturday of the month, I'll post my review.

Fun, right?!?


***

I'm continuing my quest, and working at one of my Bookish Resolutions to catch up on series (since I'm behind in 148 series) I'm once again having y'all decide which series I'm going to work at catching up on this month! :D

FYI, this will be my theme all year. And since I'm letting random.org choose from the list of series I'm behind in, you might see books show up more than once. ;)


Your Choices Are:

Avoiding Alpha (Alpha Girl #2)
Avoiding Alpha
Alpha Girl #2

Synopsis
Seventeen-year-old Tessa McCaide has come a long way since her abrupt entrance into the world of werewolves, but she still has just as far to go before she's comfortable with turning full wolf. In the meantime, she's avoiding the topic of shifting to four legs any way she can. Thankfully her mate, Dastien Laurent, is quite the distraction.

When she finds her best friend, Meredith, getting sick in the bathroom, Tessa knows something's majorly wrong. Meredith was cursed years ago, and the dark magic kept her wolf dormant--only now the wolf is awake, and that same spell is killing her.

Tessa has no intention of sitting around while Meredith wastes away. Even if it means playing with magic she doesn't understand, she'll do anything to save Meredith's life. Including bargaining with the local coven of witches and is crazed leader, whose only goal is getting Tessa to join the witchy ranks.

Can Tessa save her friend without losing herself?



Edge of Oblivion (Night Prowler, #2)Edge of Oblivion
Night Prowler #2

Synopsis

There exists a world beyond our own. It is a world of ancient magic and well-guarded secrets, a world of strict laws and harsh punishments for those who betray them, a world inhabited by the Ikati, a race of gifted people who are so much more than they first appear. Brought together by fate in this world of danger and beauty, two people with dark pasts will meet.

Morgan is beautiful, smart, sexy...and about to die. Convicted of treason against her shape-shifting kin, she is given one last chance at redemption; discover the hidden lair of the enemy intent on destroying every one of her kind, or forfeit her life.

Xander is ruthless, heartless, cold-blooded...and assigned to kill her if she fails in her task. Expecting to feel nothing but contempt for the traitor under his watch, the assassin accompanies Morgan on her search, but as the two race through the heart of Italy while the clock winds down to zero hour, he finds himself drawn into a dangerous web of desire as powerful as it is forbidden. Their passion will test everything they believe in, and endanger the future of the tribe itself.

Sensual, edgy, and action-packed, Edge of Oblivion is a must-read for lovers of dark paranormal romance.




Faking It (Losing It, #2)Faking It
Losing It #2

Synopsis
Mackenzie "Max" Miller has a problem. Her parents have arrived in town for a surprise visit, and if they see her dyed hair, tattoos, and piercings, they just might disown her. Even worse, they're expecting to meet a nice, wholesome boyfriend, not a guy named Mace who has a neck tattoo and plays in a band. All her lies are about to come crashing down around her, but then she meets Cade.

Cade moved to Philadelphia to act and to leave his problems behind in Texas. So far though, he's kept the problems and had very little opportunity to take the stage. When Max approaches him in a coffee ship with a crazy request to pretend to be her boyfriend, he agrees to play the part. But when Cade plays the role a little too well, they're forced to keep the ruse going. And the more they fake the relationship, the more real it begins to feel.



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