Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Review: Charlie, Presumed Dead by Anne Heltzel

In Paris, family and friends gather to mourn the tragic passing of Charlie Price—young, handsome, charming, a world-traveler—who is presumed dead after an explosion. Authorities find only a bloodied jacket, ID’d as Charlie’s. At the funeral, two teens who are perfect strangers, Lena Whitney and Aubrey Boroughs, make another shocking discovery: they have both been dating Charlie, both think Charlie loved them and them alone, and there is a lot they didn’t know about their boyfriend. Over the next week, a mind-bending trip unfolds: first in London—then in Mumbai, Kerala, and Bangkok, the girls go in search of Charlie. Is he still alive? What did their love for him even mean? The truth is out there, but soon it becomes clear that the girls are harboring secrets of their own. 

At Charlie's funeral, Lena stands up and says a few words about him and their three year relationship. Aubrey is at the same funeral to mourn the loss of her boyfriend. They had no idea that the other even existed. When they start comparing notes, it seems like they are dating two different men. How could that happen? Shortly after the funeral, these two women are thrown into a mad race across a handful of countries as they try to figure out who Charlie was and how he could have loved both of these very different women. 

I've read quite a few novels that switch the pov between two characters with each chapter. I don't believe I've read one that did this with three. Three seemed like one too many quite a few times ... especially at first! You've barely met these characters and then two pages later, you have to switch to someone else. It was just confusing until I learned what in the heck was going on. This whole switcheroo didn't matters when there are also flashbacks thrown into the mix. That made the whole thing just ridiculously confusing. Adding to the confusion was some talk of "the program" which made it sound like one of the characters was joining a secret society or the Avengers or some shit. Actually, if they had joined the Avengers, the book would have been more captivating. I finished the book and I still have no idea what in the world "the program" means.

You know, this is a wild ride that Lena and Aubrey go on ... they aren't totally for sure who the other person is and what their motivations are but the progression of these characters within the time frame of the book just didn't jive with ... anything that these women did or said. It was just pretty unbelievable the things that they went through and how each of them had "changed" within like 72 hours. Plus, I found the characters to be annoying, petty, juvenile and most of all, full of hot air. Moving on to the Charlie character ... it was weird how transparent he was and not transparent because I knew what he was thinking ... it was because he was almost just not even there. He is a major part of the book but at the same time, I feel like I know absolutely nothing about him. One stiff breeze could have blown this character straight off the page. I would have liked for him to have a bit more depth or at least seem semi-realistic to me. 

And finally, the ending. Back in the day (1999), there was a movie that came out which starred Claire Danes. I really enjoyed this movie and I've watched it quite a few times. There were glaringly obvious similarities within the movie and this ending. I literally couldn't get that movie out of my head for the last part of this book. 

All in all, not a book for me. I had to force myself to finish this book and I skimmed paragraph after paragraph because I just couldn't get into it. But the cover is gorgeous. Not that I can figure out how it goes with the novel, but it's pretty. 

Available: June 2nd, 2015

Review: Venice in the Moonlight by Elizabeth McKenna

Considered useless by his cold-hearted father, Nico Foscari, eldest son of one of the founding families in Venice, hides his pain behind gambling, drinking and womanizing.

After her husband’s untimely demise, Marietta Gatti returns to her hometown of Venice in hopes of starting a new life and finding the happiness that was missing in her forced marriage.

When Fate throws them together, friendship begins to grow into love until Marietta learns a Foscari family secret that may have cost her father his life. Now, she must choose between vengeance, forgiveness, and love.

Elizabeth McKenna’s latest novel takes you back to the days of eighteenth century Carnival, where lovers meet discreetly, and masks make everyone equal.


Marietta is stuck in a horrible marriage that her father arranged when she was a young girl. Marieta's husband forces himself on her, cheats on her and abuses her. To make matters worse, her mother-in-law looks upon her disapprovingly because she hasn't produced an heir. Fortunately, Marietta escapes the grasp of the family she was married into and rushes to start a new life in Venice. Things aren't as they seem in Venice and that goes doubly for a dashing man she meets along the way ... Nico. 

I'm always nervous when I pick up a novel by an author that I'm not familiar with. I (selfishly) worry about wasted time and effort for a book that I just don't mesh with. But luckily, that wasn't the case with Venice in the Moonlight. I'm a big lover of historical romance novels, something about them is just enchanting to me. And this one did not disappoint. I found myself fairly invested in Marietta's life from the very beginning. McKenna has a way of endearing characters to the reader and making them feel like they are part of your family. And that is EXACTLY how I felt about almost all of the characters in this novel. I felt like I really knew them and that made me more attached and invested in the outcome of the story. 

I really enjoyed how the novel took place in Venice. It reminded me a lot of my trip through that captivating city which may have played a part in why I loved this novel so much. I could picture these places in my mind because of McKenna's on-point descriptions and it felt like I was right there again feeding the pigeons in the Piazza. I would bet that McKenna's imagery could help any reader place themselves in the center of Venice, not only just someone who had been there before. Before I go any further, I wanted to clarify a little bit. Were the descriptions too much? Did it take away from the novel? Did I find myself skipping because of the descriptions? The answer to all three of those with this novel is a resounding no. I didn't feel bogged down or bored or even find myself wishing that it was over already. Just like the depth of the characters, I found that the light descriptiveness just added so much more to an already fabulous novel.

Basically, I loved this book. I blew through it today and I just couldn't put it down. If you're a fan of historical romances, this is definitely one to add to your library.

Available now!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Review: Rules of Seduction by Jenna Mullins

The first rule of seduction is: don’t fall in love.

Fresh out of college, Dani Young heads for the LA sun to chase her dream of becoming a screenwriter-director. So when her former BFF turned actress Elise offers Dani the opportunity to work on the hit teen show Vamp Camp, Dani can’t refuse, even if it comes at a price: Elise wants Dani to seduce her boyfriend, Vamp Camp superstar Tate Lawrence. Turns out Elise has some major trust issues, and needs Dani to test Tate’s faith. The only rule: don’t fall in love with him.

Sure, Dani doesn’t mind occasionally glimpsing Tate’s megawatt smile…or accidentally-on-purpose brushing up against his perfect torso…but she’s no fool. There’s no way she’d ever fall for a shallow celebrity and no way one would fall for her, a lanky movie nerd.

But amidst vampire-crazed fans, a conniving fellow intern, and a devilishly handsome showrunner, Dani feels like all the rules she used to know have disappeared, except for one: Love doesn’t play by the rules.


Dani had high hopes and rose colored glasses when thinking of breaking out of Illinois and heading to the City of Angels but her first day in LA was something of which nightmares are made. On top of the no good, very bad day, Dani runs into a blast from her past ... one of her closest friends from home. While this should be a happy moment, the old friend wants Dani to seduce her gorgeous TV star boyfriend to see if he is trustworthy. Dani discovers that seducing someone is a bit harder than making a list and having high hopes.

I didn't NOT like Rules of Seduction, but it is not one of my favorite novels this year. For me, it felt a little all over the place with what was going on within the pages. The characters were ... okay. I wanted to know a bit more about each of them and I think that a little more depth would have done them some good. I was also a little surprised with the immaturity. These kids are out of college, I wasn't expecting it to feel so incredibly young. Granted, that could be just that I'm feeling super old in my 34 years but I don't think that is the case. I found myself rolling my eyes and thinking "REALLY?!?" quite a few times at the situations these characters seemingly put themselves through. 

I did find quite a few quotes that I really enjoyed and it was a bit funny at times. Unfortunately, that wasn't a redeeming enough quality to save it from the three stars that I thought this should receive. After I read this, I found out that the author has a pretty big history in television and that makes sense because since the majority of this novel takes place on a set and it seemed like it was very well fleshed out. 

I might be interested in reading what else comes out by this author ... it looks like this is her first book and I'm wondering if future novels will be even better. 

Available: April 21st, 2015

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Review: Since Drew by J. Nathan

All Andi Parker has ever wanted, all she’s ever dreamed of, is a spot on the Olympic track team. But when an accident leaves her hospitalized with serious injuries and shattered dreams, she’s not only uncertain what her future holds but also completely alone.

Drew Slater is a wanted man. Professional football teams want him for his arm. Women want him for his irresistible good looks and charming personality. But the well-crafted disguise he wears, the one that helps him score on and off the field, hides secrets. Conceals lies. Threatens the happiness of everyone around him.

One chance encounter brings Andi and Drew together, changing their worlds in ways they never thought possible. Unfortunately, what they thought they knew about themselves—and each other—might just be the biggest lie of all. 

Andi is a runner. A hopeful Olympic runner. Well, she was. All of her hopes and dreams were seemingly crushed as a car hit her one night while she was training. Andi wakes up in the hospital battered, broken and bruised. But everything isn't a loss ... her temporary roomie is a gorgeous smart ass and someone she can't get off of her mind.

Before I start talking about anything within these pages, I think that we need a moment of silence to fully appreciate this cover. Because holy shit. That is one genetically gifted man. Maybe we need two moments ...

Cover aside, this is one of my favorite reads for this year ... I read this thing in one sitting - no stopping for bathroom breaks or drinks or food, I just blazed through it. I also think that the author might be my long lost twin. There would be these situations and conversations going on in the book and I would have these rude, snarky comments in my head (you know you have them also) and then that would be the next line in the book! It was a bit creepy actually. I was also smiling from ear to ear at the snarky flirtation that was going on, I absolutely adored it. The characters just seemed so real because of the interactions between them. It's been a long time since I've read something so very on-point (in my mind) with human interaction. 

I really can't say that much more ... not because I don't have anything to say, oh ... I do. But I don't want to give the surprises away. And there are a bunch of them. WHEN you pick Since Drew up (not IF because if you don't read this book, you're dead to me) you will find yourself sucked into this delightfully sexy read that will take you on a crazy tornado ride and leave you feeling completely disoriented. You just have to read it.

Oh! And before I forget ... two words: SPONGE. BATH. I've never wanted a damn sponge bath so badly in my life. 

Available: April 23rd, 2015

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Review: Forever the One (Meadowview Heat #1) by Rochelle French

Years ago, Sadie Courant had been the frizzy-haired twerp next door. Now she’s drop-dead gorgeous and has, well...uh...breasts. It’s no wonder Broadway director Ethan Sawyer doesn’t recognize his best friend’s little sister when he sees her again.

Sadie has been in love with Ethan since she was in braces. So when he fails to recognize her at the bachelor auction she’s organized, she flips. Sure, she looks a little different now, what with the boobs and a little help from a flat iron, but really?

Deciding she needs to get the man out of her system, Sadie negotiates a way for Ethan to make up for his mistake: a one-night stand. She figures after they do the deed, he’ll head back to New York and she’ll finally be able to let go. But when Ethan has to move back to the small town of Meadowview and work side-by-side with Sadie, she realizes she couldn’t be more wrong about the letting go part of her plan. Because Ethan has and always will be…forever the one.

Sadie has had a massive crush on her childhood friend, Ethan, for a decade. She has kept this piece of info secret from everyone. Including Ethan. When Ethan rolls back into town, this is Sadie's chance to knock his socks off and make him realize what he's been missing all of these years. Not everything goes according to plan. Sadie didn't fathom that Ethan wouldn't recognize her. Ethan was just in town for a few days and he didn't expect to be falling head over heels for a blonde stranger. What he most certainly didn't see coming was that the blonde stranger would turn out to be Sadie.

I've not had the opportunity to read anything by this author before. Forever the One turned out to be pretty good. It's the perfect book to take with you to the pool or beach this summer. It's easy to read and it's a sweet story. 

That being said, I did find it a bit ... simple. There's nothing wrong with that, it makes for an easy read but I wish that the characters had a bit more to them. I would have loved to know more about each of them. The characters didn't feel fully fleshed out to me. Yes, I had the opportunity to know each of them but I didn't feel like I KNEW them. If that makes any sense. I just wanted a little more from them. The characters weren't all that bad ... I really liked them, actually. But I was left wanting more. You know, this could be a completely strategic thing ... getting you hooked on a series and then you learn more about them as the series progresses. But that's nothing that I enjoy, personally. I would rather know the characters inside and out in the first book so that it will urge me to read the remainder of the series. Anyway.

The story itself was also okay. I didn't find it boring or anything ... just again ... it lacked a bit of depth that I expected when picking this novel up. Most of the situations just seemed to brush the surface and not really delve into anything. There were so many background stories that I wish I was able to learn about because they were intriguing but those seem to be kept under lock and key in the Author Vault ... wherever that is ... I just know that they keep all of the alternate endings for novels and background info on characters along with lists of books with good ideas but horrible executions so that other authors can pick through and make better versions of things ... I'm pretty sure George R. R. Martin has his own wing and shit. Sometimes the only thing keeping me reading a book is the thought of an Author Vault out there ... somewhere ... and some day I might be able to find out more info on books that I almost really liked/loved/hated. Well. That was a nice little detour away from where I wanted to go with this. 

So ... pretty okay book. I wouldn't mind reading something else by this author to see if the writing is the same. If her other stuff is a bit deeper, I might have found a new author for my "Must Read Everything By This Person" list.

Available Now!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Review: The Truth About Jack by Jody Gehrman

Dakota McCloud has just been accepted into a prestigious art school. Soon she'll leave behind the artists' colony where she grew up―hippie dad, tofu since birth, yurt―and join her boyfriend and best friend on the East Coast. It was the plan…until Dakota finds out her boyfriend and best friend hooked up behind her back.

Hurt and viciously betrayed, Dakota pours out her heart on a piece of paper, places it in a bottle, and hurls it into the ocean. But it doesn't quite go where she expects…

Jack Sauvage finds the bottle washed up on the shore and responds to Dakota's letter. Except what if his straight-laced life doesn’t jive with the free-spirited girl he’s only seen from afar? As Jack creates a persona he believes she’ll love, they slowly fall for each other with each new letter. Now Jack is trying to find a way to make this delicate, on-paper romance happen in real life…without revealing his deception.


Dakota was left behind by her boyfriend and best friend when they headed off to college. When she receives the news that she has also been accepted, she thinks that her life is right on track. Little does she know that she's going to be thrown a curve ball and her life will seemingly be in shambles. Until she meets Jack, that is. 

When I picked The Truth About Jack up, I was pretty sure I knew what I was getting into ... a feel-good lighthearted romance that would be a simple read. In some ways, that is exactly what I got. It was a very sweet romance novel but it was a little darker than I had imagined. There were a lot of sad things that I hadn't really banked on that surprised me a bit. 

I really enjoyed the journey that Dakota and Jack were on together and apart. I thought that the author did a great job of really tuning into teenagers and it read like I was back in high school. Some of the situations were the same ones that I had been through and it made me a bit nostalgic. 

Another thing made me a bit nostalgic ... The Truth About Jack was a bit ... Message In A Bottle-esque. In more than one way, it reminded me of that book (and movie). Now, I have nothing against repeated ideas that slightly resemble each other ... isn't that what all books are?!? But I just had a stronger sense of it with this one and I'm not completely sure why. It just popped into my head and decided to take up residence while I finished this one.

There are a bunch of surprises that I didn't expect within these pages and that made the story that much better. I do wish that this book was a little deeper. I think that it would have made the story more interesting if some of the topics discussed had really delved into the issue. For the most part, this was a sweet book about coming of age, growing into and out of relationships and falling in love. 

Available: April 14th, 2015

Review: The Harlot Countess (Wicked Deceptions #2) by Joanna Shupe

Maggie, Lady Hawkins, had a debut she'd rather forget--along with her first marriage. Today, the political cartoonist is a new woman. A thoroughly modern woman. So much so that her clamoring public believes she's a man. . .

FACT: Drawing under a male pseudonym, Maggie is known as Lemarc. Her (his!) favorite object of ridicule: Simon Barrett, Earl of Winchester. He's a rising star in Parliament--and a former confidant and love interest of Maggie's who believed a rumor that vexes her to this day.

FICTION: Maggie is the Half-Irish Harlot who seduced her best friend's husband on the eve of their wedding. She is to be feared and loathed as she will lift her skirts for anything in breeches.

Still crushed by Simon's betrayal, Maggie has no intention of letting the ton crush her as well. In fact, Lemarc's cartoons have made Simon a laughingstock. . .but now it appears that Maggie may have been wrong about what happened years ago, and that Simon has been secretly yearning for her since. . .forever. Could it be that the heart is mightier than the pen and the sword after all?

Lady Hawkins has a secret. Quite a few of them actually. She is an artist and a political cartoonist. But no one can know. Mostly because her favorite target is a highly influential man in Parliament and her first love. The Earl of Winchester is a man that she loves to hate and hates to love. Her secret has been kept under wraps for ages. At least until the Earl asks her to help find this mysterious cartoonist and Lady Hawkins is dead set in sending him on a wild goose chase. 

Once again, Joanna Shupe did not disappoint. I read the first novel in this series a few days ago and fell in love with Shupe's writing style, flair for dramatics and her spunky characters. I won't lie, I was a bit tentative about reading another in the series ... I loved the first one so much that I was afraid the second wouldn't be as good and it would mar my feelings of the first novel. But I was wrong (don't tell my husband, I've got him convinced that I'm never wrong). I thoroughly enjoyed this one. Actually, it would have been a 5 star book for me if I hadn't picked out the bad guy so early on. While knowing who is behind a big plot in the book is disappointing, the writing kept me interested and still dying to know how everything would play out. Is it fair that I took off a whole star just because I knew what was going to happen? Probably not, but when you're reading a book of this caliber and there are hardly any issues, you have to kind of nit-pick just to make it fair.

Like I said, the characters were amazing, I absolutely adored Lady Hawkins right from the beginning. I loved reading about her spunk and backbone when women of that time period were mostly marionettes. And the Earl of Winchester ... I loved to hate that dude, just like Maggie. Ugh. He was such an ass. But watching his transformation was one of the best parts of the book. The story wasn't too heavy but at the same time, it wasn't weak either. I have to pick up and put down books all day because of things going on and not once did I forget what was going on or who was who but I did find myself carving out time to read when I really didn't have it just so I could see what was going on. Such a good storyline. Love!

While you don't necessarily need to read these books in order, it wouldn't hurt to do so. There are a few jokes and situations that you get more insight into if you've read the first one. I'm super excited to see what number three has in store for readers. I'm pretty sure it's going to be spectacular. I'll be first in line to get that one, I'm sure.

All in all, it's a super amazing book and if you love historical romance novels, this is one for you. I can almost guarantee that you'll adore Joanna Shupe as much as I do!

Available: April 28th, 2015

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Review: Be Afraid by Mary Burton

The Fear Is Terrifying

When police rescue five-year-old Jenna Thompson from the dark closet where she's been held captive for days, they tell her she's a lucky girl. Compared to the rest of her family, it's true. But even with their killer dead of an overdose, Jenna is still trying to find peace twenty-five years later.

But The Truth

On leave from her forensic artist job, Jenna returns to Nashville, the city where she lost so much. Instead of closure, she finds a new horror. Detective Rick Morgan needs Jenna's expertise in identifying the skeletal remains of a young child. The case jogs hazy half-buried memories--and a nagging dread that Jenna's ordeal hasn't ended.

Is Even Worse

Now other women are dying. And as the links between these brutal killings and Jenna's past becomes clear, she knows this time, a madman will leave no survivors. . .


Be Afraid is about a woman named Jenna who rolls back into her hometown and is dragged into an ongoing investigation that hits a little too close to home. Jenna is a forensic artist and even though she is taking a break from all of that, she decides to help a couple of Nashville detectives with a case.

That's really all I'm going to say ... I know that the blurb says more but I'm having a hard time finding things that I like about this book and it was starting to flow into my little description. So. Let's just jump right in. From the very beginning of this novel, it was freaking weird. Super weird. I didn't like it at all. I wish I could say what I'm talking about but I'm hoping that some things are changed before the book comes out. I'll just say this ... Madness and Reason. Weird.

I found it really difficult to get to know the characters. The writing style felt just different. Something felt completely off to me during the entire book. It was almost as if it was written without any feeling and it was just putting words onto a page. I would say that this could be just a carryover feeling from the beginning (which was weird, in case you missed that) but since it lasted so long into the novel, I really don't think that it was me. It felt stilted. Like a little kid who is stuck in clothes that are a bit too small because it's summertime and the parents don't want to go spend a fortune on new clothes before school shopping. There just didn't feel like there was any breathing room and things were stifled. 

Be Afraid also read like it was part of a series. There were so very many subplots and side stories and back stories. This also aided in the stilted feeling I was having. There was just too much stuff going on for this to be a single novel. I didn't feel like there needed to be THAT much going on. The story would have been just as good if it was cut down to half of the little subplots and the novel had room to expand rather than trying to fit everything into one novel. 

Unfortunately, this one wasn't for me. But it is really popular with a lot of other people. I'm just not in that mix this time. Oooh ... and I've heard of naming cars and boats and even homes are named in the south ... no one can forget Tara ... but this book takes place in Nashville and these named homes didn't sound like plantations ... this weird house naming thing also contributed to the growing weirdness with this novel. 

Available: April 28th, 2015


Monday, March 16, 2015

Review: Finn (Blue-Collar Billionaires #2) by M. Malone

The 2nd book in the BLUE-COLLAR BILLIONAIRES series by New York Times Bestselling Author M. Malone.

Finn Marshall survived several tours in Afghanistan before the billionaire father he barely remembers changed everything. Now he has it all: money, cars and most importantly, power. Power to track down the woman who left him for a richer man.

Marissa Blake dragged herself out of poverty one client at a time, so she's thrilled when her company, Maid-4-U, gets a huge contract for a luxury penthouse. Until she sees who owns it.

Now to save her struggling business, Finn demands everything she once promised him. Money can't buy him happiness but it can buy him one thing: REVENGE 

Finn is about a man named ... you guessed it ... Finn. Now, Finn is quite wealthy due to a new inheritance. He uses this inheritance to make his old flame's life a living hell. Well, that was the plan anyway. Things don't work out quite the way that he intended and you follow Finn and Rissa on this rollercoaster of a relationship as they rediscover themselves and each other. 

You know, I was really intrigued by the summary for this one. Buying revenge? It sounded almost like a romantic suspense. Which it is not. Before I get into all of that, there are a few good things. I liked the characters for the most part. And I liked the camaraderie between Finn and his brothers. I thought that added a bit to the story line.

But. I think that there were too many subplots going on with this book. There were like 15 other things going on other than the main storyline. It was just too much. Not that there was too much information and you're just inundated but with so many different things going on, not enough attention was given to the main plots. I think that if just a couple of them were chosen then the story would have been stronger and it would have grabbed (and kept) my attention. I just got a little tired of such vague situations and anticlimaxes. Where the climax of the story should have been was actually just a "meh" little victory. 

I had such high hopes for this book and this whole series. I had actually put all of this series on my To Read list but I fear that I may have to change that. This book wasn't badly written, it was just a bit fragmented and lackadaisical with the story line. If you like a slower paced book, this may be for you. It's just not a good fit for me. 

Available Now