Friday, February 27, 2015

Review: The Courtesan Duchess (Wicked Deceptions #1) by Joanna Shupe

How to seduce an estranged husband—and banish debt!—in four wickedly improper, shockingly pleasurable steps...
1. Learn the most intimate secrets of London’s leading courtesan.
2. Pretend to be a courtesan yourself, using the name Juliet Leighton.
3. Travel to Venice and locate said husband.
4. Seduce husband, conceive an heir, and voilĂ , your future is secure!

For Julia, the Duchess of Colton, such a ruse promises to be foolproof. After all, her husband has not bothered to lay eyes on her in eight years, since their hasty wedding day when she was only sixteen. But what begins as a tempestuous flirtation escalates into full-blown passion—and the feeling is mutual. Could the man the Courtesan Duchess married actually turn out to be the love of her life?

OOH!! This is a good one! Okay ... The Courtesan Duchess. So very good! First, for those of you that don't know what a courtesan is ... it's basically a prostitute for rich fellas back in the day. It was no secret that dudes went outside of the marriage for ... things that they didn't want the mother of their children to do and/or basically to just be a dog. And it was okay back then, women didn't talk about it, courtesans were just a part of their lives. Well, not that I know for SURE that is how it was done ... that is how it is done in the hundreds of historical romance novels that I have read. Anywho ... this is about a woman named Julia who was basically abandoned by her husband after she said "I do" to him. She just deals with this abandonment for eight very long years. Then she comes up with a plan ... she is going to seduce her husband. She gets all of these tips from a lady of the night on how to seduce him and after she disguises herself, she sets the plan into motion. That's it. And what happens is nothing short of a fabulous read!

I just adored this book from the very first page. I don't know what it was ... the writing style, the characters, the whole premise ... it was just awesome. I loved the sassy gumption that the main character had, it knocked the story up a few pegs. If the characters aren't interesting or if they are just ... normal ... it's not interesting to me. I really didn't have to worry about that with this one. Joanna Shupe did an amazing job of introducing you to the characters but not bogging you down with too much background info on them and just let the reader find out for themselves what really makes each character tick. 

The way that the story played out,  you were really lead to hate Nick (the husband) and I LOATHED this fictional man with everything I had. I really wanted Julia to make him suffer. I won't say whether she did or not because it's something that you have to experience when you crack the spine on this one. The premise was amazing, the execution was amazing ... the whole damn thing was amazing. I've never read anything by this author but I know that she has quickly become a staple in my life and I'm excited to see what the other two novels in the series are like. If they are anything like this one, I know I'm in for a wild ride!

Available March 31st, 2015

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Review: Wandering Wild by Jessica Taylor

Raised by Wanderers, sixteen-year-old Tal travels the roads of the southern wild in her Chevy by day and camps in her tent trailer at night. Hustling, conning, and grifting her way into just enough cash to save her fifteen-year-old brother, Wen, from bare-knuckle fighting was once enough to keep her dreams of traveling the whole world at bay. Everything changes when the Wanderers set up camp in a little town called Cedar Falls.

There, Spencer Sway, a boy Tal tried to hustle at a game of billiards, keeps popping up into her life—and worst of all—into her scams. Buttoned-up, starched-and-ironed Spencer talks of places where Tal’s truck can’t take her. His promises of traveling across oceans are almost enough to shatter her love of the Wanderer life.

When a boy shows up at camp, ready to make good on a nearly-forgotten arranged marriage to Tal, Tal and Wen make a pact: No matter the cost, they will use their limitless skills of grift to earn the bride price and buy back her future—even if Spencer Sway gets used along the way.

Okay, let me give you the low down on this one. It's about this girl ... who happens to be a gypsy ... I'm sorry ... wanderer ... (WHICH IS A DAMN GYPSY) ... who is a con-artist and claims to be a compass (she tells her band of merry gypsies wanderers where to go) but she knows she isn't a compass but thinks that she might be the compass that everyone thinks she is when she thinks she might not be but probably is (confusing, huh) ... who follows her non-compass gut to some weird podunk town where the people hate gypsies wanderers but falls for Spencer Sway (she sways his way and/or sways on her previous conviction of being a wanderer ... see what Jessica Taylor did there?). Yeah.

So ... I don't know how to say this ... but I don't get it. I don't understand why this story needed to be told, I don't understand what it was trying to convey, I don't understand the motivation behind the characters or the author. I just don't get it. I mean, I UNDERSTAND it, it's not written in Swahili but it was just a non-story for me. Why oh, why?!? I read the blurb for this damn thing and I was intrigued. Intrigued! But after the first couple of chapters, I was just bogged down with boring-ness and the long-winded paragraphs. Geez. Reading a book should NEVER be a chore. I should never feel like I am trudging through quicksand trying to save myself.

Wandering Wild swaps back and forth between what's going on now and what has happened in the past and these transitions were anything but smooth. I often found myself wondering if I was in present day or in the middle of a flashback. Now, I'm not an author and I don't know how in the hell to pull off flashbacks but this was not the way. At. All. It felt unnatural and it stilted the entire flow of the story. The flashbacks provided interesting information, the content was never an issue ... it was the presentation, I guess. 

To be honest, this read more like it was about a cult rather than a very large group of gypsies wanderers. It was weird and unnecessarily violent, I think. I don't know, I just didn't get it, I guess. I'll be honest, the reason it got two stars instead of one was because I actually fought the battle of boring and pushed through to the end. 

It needs to be said that this book has received super high ratings. Honestly, I don't know if these other people had a different version of the book or what, because surely we aren't reading the same thing. Anyway, I am definitely in the minority with my views and I could very well be wrong and this is going to be a best seller. It's just not one for me.

Review: The Competition (Rachel Knight #4) by Marcia Clark

In Marcia Clark's most electrifying thriller yet, Los Angeles DA Rachel Knight investigates a diabolical high school massacre.

A Columbine-style massacre at a high school in the San Fernando Valley has left a community shaken to its core. Two students are identified as the killers. Both are dead, believed to have committed a mutual suicide. But in the aftermath of the shooting, as LA Special Trials prosecutor Rachel Knight and Detective Bailey Keller dig deeper, they realize that the pieces don't add up. Could it be that the two "killers" were themselves victims? And if so, does that mean that the real killers are still on the loose? When someone starts dropping clues that another horrific crime is in the works, Rachel and Bailey scramble desperately to profile their suspect and prevent another killing--before it's too late.


I first started this book about two months ago. I just finished it. I think that says a lot. When I first started The Competition, I was really excited because of who the author was ... I figured that she would have an interesting take on pretty much everything since she's been in the trenches with this type of thing. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the book for about the first quarter. After that, all bets were off. And so was my concentration and patience with this novel.

Here's the deal. I haven't read any other novels from this series and maybe that's why I had issues with this. There are about a bazillion characters that you have to keep track of ... you have lawyers and detectives and cops and judges and crime scene investigators and the ME and on and on and on. That's just the people investigating stuff. That's not to mention the school full of kids that you also have to keep track of and remember who is friends with whom and what they do in their spare time, what their cousin's best friend's neighbor's dog likes for a snack. This book was just so detailed that you really lost the magic. It was just too much. I had to actually go through and highlight in my book when a new character made their first appearance so that I could keep track of who in the hell everyone was. After about halfway through the book, I just gave up on that and every character was new to me and I had no idea who was who. 

The storyline was also nothing that I was expecting. I thought the pages would be filled with intrigue and massive revelations and set backs and big surprises but it wasn't. It was a bit predictable and that isn't really fun to read. I'm okay with having hunches, that is what makes reading so much fun! Wondering who did what is why I love mysteries. Or even when the author makes it apparent who did it and you have to see the journey to catch them ... that's great also. That is a far cry from knowing who did it and just experiencing the characters knowing who did it and then it reading like it's all a surprise isn't fun. That probably didn't make sense at all if you haven't read this. 

Well, my curiosity has been stomped out. I know what a big-time defense attorney's writing style is like and it's not for me. But it's received pretty high ratings, so you might give it a try. Oh, and FYI, don't get too attached to what you think are main characters, you'll just be floored and disappointed. And pretty quickly.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Review: Joyride by Anna Banks

A popular guy and a shy girl with a secret become unlikely accomplices for midnight pranking, and are soon in over their heads—with the law and with each other—in this sparkling standalone from NYT-bestselling author Anna Banks.

It’s been years since Carly Vega’s parents were deported. She lives with her brother, studies hard, and works at a convenience store to contribute to getting her parents back from Mexico.

Arden Moss used to be the star quarterback at school. He dated popular blondes and had fun with his older sister, Amber. But now Amber’s dead, and Arden blames his father, the town sheriff who wouldn’t acknowledge Amber's mental illness. Arden refuses to fulfill whatever his conservative father expects.

All Carly wants is to stay under the radar and do what her family expects. All Arden wants is to NOT do what his family expects. When their paths cross, they each realize they’ve been living according to others. Carly and Arden’s journey toward their true hearts—and one another—is funny, romantic, and sometimes harsh.

I've had a few Anna Banks books on my To Read list for a really long time and when this one came up, I just had to get my hands on it. Just to kind of recap the summary, it's about a girl (Carly) whose parents were deported years ago and she is working herself into the ground trying to help her brother save up enough money so that they can pay to have her parents smuggled back into the country. She teams up with a popular guy in school (Arden) and they start pranking people who have offended society in some way. Shit hits the fan when Arden's racist father (who happens to also be the town sheriff) first meets Carly. That's all the info that you're getting from me on this one. I don't want to spoil any of the surprises for you.

So. Let's see ... where to start ... I guess I should say that I'm thankful that I have some friends who fluently speak Spanish. Not that it actually helped me ... I only know one word ... chanklas ... which means sandal. That wasn't in the book and it was a bit of a let down. I kind of knew what most of the words and phrases meant. The book doesn't have a whole heck of a lot of Spanish in it but I wanted to impress you with my vast knowledge of the translation of sandal, so I decided to include this. Really, you can just skip this paragraph. 

The book was ... good. I thought the storyline was interesting, I haven't read anything remotely like it in the past and that was refreshing in itself. It was an interesting take on devotion to your family. It was a little sad, to be honest. I can only imagine the stresses that Carly was under. No, I can't imagine. It must have just been horrific. Anyway, the family dynamic with Carly and Julio was pretty interesting. 

Unfortunately, as good as the premise of the storyline was, I found the characters to be utterly ... forgettable. I hate saying that but I just felt like the book only scratched the surface on them. I would have liked to have gotten a little more info on who they were. They felt unfinished to me. I didn't really get attached to any character and while it was sad to read, I didn't actually feel sad for the characters. It didn't move me. The characters went through quite a bit within these pages and I just felt ... nothing. I grew more attached to one of the secondary characters than I did the main ones. And that is saying a lot, I think. 

Now the ending. Ugh. I was a bit disappointed. More than disappointed. When you get to the climax of the story, I WANT TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS!! I want to be able to read what happens, I don't want to be told about it in the next chapter from one of the character's point of view, I want to actually READ about it happening. Of course, this is just a personal reading preference but I was really let down. I mean, the entire freaking book is leading up to this certain point and then it was like getting to the top of the rollercoaster only to realize the rest of the ride is just ... flat. Flat, I say. I don't know, it just kinda ruined the entire experience for me. I don't know if this author is for me after all. It's a sad day. 

Available: June 2nd, 2015

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Review: Breaking Noah by Missy Johnson and Ashley Suzanne

What happens when you start falling for your worst enemy? Fans of Abbi Glines and Monica Murphy will relish this addictive novel of smoking-hot seduction—and revenge gone so wrong, it’s right.

I wasn’t always this jaded. I had a clear head, things I wanted out of life, and a concise plan on how to get there. For being only twenty-one, I pretty much had it all figured out. Until the day my cousin died.

I spent months going over all the details surrounding her death, trying to figure out how I missed the signs, and the only thing I could come up with was she would still be alive if it wasn’t for one person: her professor. So I transferred to his college, enrolled in his class, and set my new plan in motion.

First I’ll seduce him. Then I’ll ruin him. I’ve just got to stay strong and not let his charm and my emotions get the best of me. Because someone has to pay for her death. If it’s the last thing I do, I’m going to break Noah.

First of all, it needs to be said that I am most certainly not a fan of books written by two people. Weird, I know. But I do have reasons. What if the authors are great together but their books are crap when they write alone and then they never write another book together after I've fallen in love with their combined writing style?!? Or what if the authors are horrible together and then I never give either of them another shot because that one co-written book is just the worst thing ever and I miss out on their solo books and they are awesome?!? OR ... well, I don't have another or right now but I might come up with one later. Probably not though. But those are my reasons. Well, it's really just one reason and just said differently another way. Fine. That's my one reason why I don't like co-authors. 

Whew. With that out of the way I can safely tell you that this was one amazing book. I didn't mind the co-authoring this time! Total success! I really, really, REALLY enjoyed it. The whole seducing a teacher thing isn't new by any means but I've never read a book that revolved around that and certainly not a book that had a vendetta as the reason why there was some seducing going on. I will say this, a big thank you to the authors for not making Zara (the main character) wear one of those cliche plaid skirt and knee sock concoctions. When I read the professor part, I was just totally for sure that the authors would do this but for once, I was wrong and man, am I glad that I was. I fell in love with the main character, Zara, pretty quickly. I loved her spunk and sass that she seemed to approach everything with. 

The plot was absolutely perfectly paced. I never felt a lag in the storyline or the yearn for more info. I did feel a bit pissed with the novel at the end but that was only because it was over and I just wanted more of the story. This was one that I was really sad with when it was over because being the greedy reader that I am, I just wanted more. The writing style of Missy Johnson and Ashley Suzanne created one of my favorite and memorable reading experiences that I've had in a long time. I don't know how these two write on their own but together, they are gold. I will pick up anything that has both of their  names on it in the future and I know that I'll get immersed in a story that I won't want to put down and will never forget about. Breaking Noah will be reread (and probably soon). I just wish that everyone was able to get their hands on it right now and not have to wait until May. But go ahead and get it pre-ordered, you won't regret it!

Available May 12th, 2015

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Review: Only for Him (Only #1) by Cristin Harber

Grayson Ford and Emma Kinglsey—close since they were kids, opposites in every way. He’s the stuff high school crushes are made of, Mister Popular, and captain of every team. She’s artsy, cute, and not in his league, though fully aware of Summerland’s "I Dream of Dating Grayson Ford" support group.

I can’t say no. The girl’s had my heart since before I knew it went missing.

He hides a life of hell. His father hates him, his mother’s gone. Emma is his only savior, yet she doesn’t know her power over him. She’s the only girl he wants, the only one he could ever tell—though he won’t.

I’m stronger, bigger, more of a man than he’ll ever be, but because I ruined his life, I’ve taken his crap, his attacks, the vulgar nature of his existence.

Until she discovers Gray’s embarrassment, his humiliation. Emma fights for him, for a chance. Theirs is a Cinderella story that she believes impossible. But as the layers peel back, it’s just a guy who needs a girl in order to keep breathing.

My mind is already doodling Mrs. Grayson Ford in imaginary notebooks. He has no clue where my head is at… But, given that I didn’t see what just happened coming, maybe I have no clue where his head is at either.

First. Of. All. It would be super appreciated if someone would have let me know that this was a NOVELLA!! Fine. Maybe it was listed on it's Goodreads page and on the Netgalley page but how in the world was I supposed to pay attention to one little word down at the bottom of the page when the blurb for this was so utterly amazing?!? I can't be expected to pay attention after reading a great summary. It just won't happen. 

Whew. This was one amazing novella. Oh! Let me tell you when I realized that it was a novella ... this is a funny little story ... yeah ... it was when the damn thing ended and I wanted to know what in the world happened!!! Total bullshit. Okay, fine. The story isn't bullshit. The fact that the novel wasn't complete was bullshit. I mean, it was JUST getting so good and then there was an advertisement for the next portion of the series. Man, was I hot. I got really mad! I was so mad because the story was incredibly good. I was being a greedy reader and I wanted more. MORE, I say!

There is so much more to say but any little detail could spoil the surprises within the pages. I just can't do that to you! I want you to go in as blind as I did ... well, maybe not THAT blind. You'll know that it's a novella (you're welcome). 

The story itself was so good. It was nice to read something about a girl pushing for a relationship and a guy holding back, such a nice change. This is a love story that you won't be able to get enough of .... it's full of heartbreak, elation, turmoil, sadness, impossible odds and the idea of forever. It's a story that I will find myself reading again and for once, I'm actually stoked to see what happens next in a series. This is one that I HAVE to know what happens next. I'll be first in line to get #2 when it comes out.

Available February 24th, 2015!!

Review: Where the Road Takes Me by Jay McLean

Chloe has one plan for the future, and one plan only: the road. She’s made a promise to herself: don’t let anyone in, and don’t let anyone love her. She’s learned the hard way what happens if she breaks her rules. So she’s focused on being invisible and waiting until she can set out on the road—her dream of freedom, at least for a little while.

Blake Hunter is a basketball star who has it all—everything about him looks perfect to those on the other side of his protective walls. He can’t let anyone see the shattered pieces behind the flawless facade or else all his hopes and dreams will disappear.

One dark night throws Chloe and Blake together, changing everything for Blake. For Chloe, nothing changes: she has the road, and she’s focused on it. But when the so-called perfect boy starts to notice the invisible girl, they discover that sometimes with love, no one knows where the road may lead.

I was super interested in this one ... I can't really put my finger on why it intrigued me so much ... maybe because the blurb made the main character sound just completely against falling in love or anyone loving her. I knew that there would be some earth shattering change within these pages on that standpoint. I won't say whether there was or wasn't because that would spoil the fun but I will say this, it will keep you on your toes. Plus, I enjoy reading love stories about couples where they are doomed to fail ... that came out wrong ... I like seeing them end up together even though they have tons of obstacles and are doomed to fail. It kinda reminds me of my husband and I and our love story. Okay, enough sappiness ... moving on!

Right away, this novel reminded me of a certain novel by an author whose last name rhymes with harks ... I won't say which one or if they made a movie of it ... (they totally did). But the resemblance was uncanny. Almost. The further I got into the novel, the more it distanced itself from that other (very familiar) novel. And that is a good thing because if it had stayed parallel, I would have put this one down. No need to read another novel exactly like it, right? Well, it did change and morph into something different, thank goodness.

It was really great, I loved "watching" the characters change and mature within the pages ... the relationships with each other and secondary characters was interesting and made me keep reading. Surprisingly, it never got confusing ... there were quite a few characters to keep up with but it never became an issue. I just really enjoyed reading Where the Road Takes Me. 

But then it happened. First of all, yes, this is a young adult novel. Yes, it is written for and about teenagers. That all being said, there were many times where this novel turned whiny and teenangsty (no, it's not a word but it totally should be). I just wanted to get past the whiny stuff because it was changing the story from being endearing to frustrating. At that point, I was just ready to put it down. But thankfully, it changed again. The story kicked back up and moved forward and I found myself enjoying the remainder of the story. But keep in mind, this novel is pretty sad right from the beginning and it's one that makes you think about how you would act if you were in the same situation. All in all, pretty good. I would be interested in seeing what else this author has written since this is my first novel from her. 

Review: Die For Me: A Novel of the Valentine Killer (For Me #1) by Cynthia Eden

Katherine Cole thought her fiance was the perfect man until he turned out to be the perfect killer. He left his victims stabbed through the heart holding a telltale single red rose and was deemed the Valentine Killer. Three years ago he vanished. Now he's back. And he's hunting the one who got away. In New Orleans, Katherine dared to hope she was finally safe, yet somehow he found her. This time, Katherine won't just sit silently by; she'll do anything to stop the monster she once loved, even trust the sexy cop promising to keep her safe? Detective Dane Black never lets his emotions interfere with the job, even as the Valentine Killer surfaces in New Orleans to stalk his prey. But when Dane agrees to protect the killer's ex-fiance, he can't ignore the passion kindling between them. After a single unforgettable night binds them body and soul, Dane won't rest until Katherine is safe in his arms and the Valentine Killer is dead.

This novel is the perfect example of a complex book with a complete and satisfying ending. All too often these days, authors are so keen on writing a series where the books totally leave you hanging at the end and you have to wait months and sometimes over a year for the next installment. I don't know about anyone else, but that is just so long to wait and the majority of the time, I totally forget about the whole damn thing and move on to other books and then I don't even realize when the next book comes out. Yes, this one is the first in a series, but it could be a stand-alone novel. Everything is buttoned up all nice and for me, that almost intensifies my reading experience. 

You've probably read the blurb on this one (or if you haven't, go ahead and read it) and let me tell you, the blurb makes you think that awesomely scary things are going to happen within these pages and it does not in any way disappoint. I love this whole romantic suspense genre and I can't seem to get enough of it (thanks a lot, Sandra Brown). Not very often do these romantic suspense novels actually meet my expectations ... I've just read so many of them that I've become a bit stingy with my ratings of them. I just expect too much sometimes, I guess. But not with this one. 

Die For Me is romantic and thrilling and gory and downright scary at times. It's not the "normal" type of book for this genre because it is so much more gory ... no one likes normal anyway, right? You're thrust into the nightmare life of Katherine Cole ... she was engaged to this diabolical monster and then he just vanished basically into thin air but THEN things start happening around Katherine and she thinks that he is back. DUDE! That's all you need to know. Go get the book. It really is good. Here's the deal ... if you like Sandra Brown, then pick this book up. If you like watching Criminal Minds or any shows like it, then pick this up. It will keep you on your toes from the very first page to the last period. And the ending ... the ending is awesome. 

Except. And here it is. The reason why this amazing book didn't get 5 stars from me. The ending is only mostly awesome. Here's how it went ... the book is chugging along (do doodo) when all of the sudden, BAM!! It turns into the movie Seven (or Se7en). If you've ever seen the movie Seven just think of the ending (WHAT'S IN THE BOX?!?) ... yeah. I don't want to say anything else because this really is a good book and you should totally pick it up but that's what I had a problem with. Anywhoo ... good read. For the most part. 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Review: One More Minute with You by Sierra Hill

Seattle is in the rearview mirror and Kenzie Daniels wants to start a new life to pursue her musical dreams in Nashville. But it’s harder than she thought trying to make it on her own with no one to rely on but herself. Until a handsome customer shows up at her table and changes the course of her future.

Remy Martins wasn’t looking for anything but a good time and a creative outlet when he stumbled upon Hank’s Diner and discovered his muse. The moment he laid eyes on Kenzie, the beautiful waitress with a chip on her shoulder, he knew his luck had turned around. He’d been in a writing slump for months and she was the spark he needed, breathing new life into his lyrics. Now Remy is determined to have Kenzie and keep her in his life.

When a chance run-in at one of his gigs has Kenzie leaning on him for support, Remy is given the opportunity to make her an offer she just can’t refuse. 

Just as their relationship morphs into something more, fueling a deep physical need that neither of them can deny, Kenzie’s and Remy’s pasts collide - threatening to destroy their bond along the dreams they’d hoped to fulfill.

Can Kenzie rely on Remy to be there when she needs him the most? Will both their dark pasts ruin their chances at a bright future?

Whew. This one. This. One. I ... ugh. I'm a little disappointed with this one. I'm just going to jump in on the review here. I really thought that this was going to be a great novel. I read the blurb and it had so many great things going for it that nothing could possibly go wrong, right? Negative. Big, fat negatory. No, that isn't a word, but it totally should be. 

The beginning of the story was great. I fell in love with Remy and I just couldn't get enough of Kenzie, I thought that they were great characters ... just messed up enough to make the story interesting. But then somewhere in the first quarter of the book, it just dropped off. It became a reader's worst nightmare for me ... it was a chore to read. I felt like I was forcing myself to read the next page when all I wanted to do was put this down and pick something else up. I felt like I was wasting my time with a story that was really going no where. 

There were lots of opportunities for the story to really take off. The story was riddled with controversy and problems but it was just boring. Maybe there were too many things going on ... there is such a thing as too many problems and that could be what was wrong with this novel. This is going to be a spoiler alert, so don't read any further if you plan on reading this book .... but you have two moms that have died, two absent fathers, an abusive boyfriend, a whoring girlfriend, a pervy uncle and each of them brought tons of issues to the story. Now that I really think about it, it's just too much. If there were just a couple and the issues were deep with them, it probably would have worked. 

I also didn't like the ending. Things just came too easy for the main characters. I want to read about strife. I want to read about a massive struggle that the characters overcome. Don't make it easy. Make the characters AND the reader work for that big payoff. But that's just me. I'm sure there are a bunch of readers who wouldn't care if things are easy in a story. I don't think that I'll read anything else by this author again. Not my cup of tea.