Tuesday, March 28, 2023

REVIEW: Drive Me Wild by Melanie Harlow



Look, I don't know what I can say about Drive Me Wild that much better writers and bloggers haven't already said so I'm going to write this for me as a way to keep track of all things Melanie Harlow that I've read.

Drive Me Wild is the first in the Bellamy Creek Series, and just like her other series, there are allusions and crossovers to characters in her other novels, which is something I happen to enjoy. This novel features Blair, a former debutante rich girl, and Griffen, current mechanic and struggling garage owner. She's a ray of sunshine and he's a grumpy carebear. She's striking out on her own to find herself and stand on her own two feet and he's trying to keep the family business open. They are the stereotypical opposites attract and it totally works. He gives her confidence and clarity and she shows him that needing people and opening up isn't always the worst thing ever. As they get to know each other, she manages to break down more and more of his walls as he builds her up. They have chemistry out the wazoo and seem to fit together like two puzzle pieces.

It's set in a small town where there are no such thing as secrets; everyone knows everyone and everything about each other. They support each other, rib each other, and look after each other, which all seems lovely, unless you're Griff who detests people in his business. The secondary characters are warm and fun and funny and help round out an already engaging romance. Between some of the elderly customers of Griff and his mom, sister, and friends, they all welcome Blair into town and soon she has the family she never knew she could have. 

Drive Me Wild is the quintessential Melanie Harlow novel; it has great characters, great chemistry, and great dialogue which all add up to me wanting to read the rest of this series. 

BUY IT: https://amzn.to/424Xehb


When Blair Beaufort literally crashes into Bellamy Creek wearing a ball gown and a tiara, I should have towed her car, said goodnight, and sent her packing.

I’m a mechanic, not a hotel manager.

I've got enough on my plate trying to keep my shop from going under, my overbearing mother off my back, and my baseball team in contention for the league championship. I don’t have time for a former debutante with zero street smarts and a cash flow problem, even if she is crazy beautiful.

Problem is, she’s stranded in my small town, and I’m hiding a protective streak underneath my broody exterior that runs deep. So I offer her a place to stay and keep my hands to myself.

For exactly one night.

If only she weren't so gorgeous. So funny. So eager to please. She’s a disaster behind the wheel, but she drives me wild without even trying--at work, at home, in the back of my truck . . . I can’t get enough of the way she makes me feel. But I know better than to think it can last.

She wants a fairy tale, and I’m no prince.

So when it comes time for her to leave, there’s nothing I can do but let her go.

No matter how much it hurts to say goodbye.

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

REVIEW: Strip by Elisabeth Caldwell


I stumbled across Strip on NetGalley and it immediately reminded me of some of the New Adult reads we read way back in the 20-teens...a time I've started thinking of as the golden age of NA Romance when there were many new adult reads to choose from but they all kinda stayed in the same few trope lanes.  Anyway. Strip sounded like a throwback to those times and I thought I'd give it a try. I'm glad I did because it was very much like those first new adult novels I read, just updated to a 2023 sensibility. There was the smoldering, intense boss (Ryker) and the independent, yet vulnerable employee who had a secret reason for stripping (Sage). The moment they run into each other the chemistry sparks and despite him coming off as a closed off prick and her calling him on it, they manage to make a deal--he'll do her a favor for the favor of her company at a few upcoming events. As the days go on and they get to know each other better, neither of them can stop thinking of the other, even though that's (of course) against the deal they made. They trade childhood stories and worries and the fake dates become more and more real, just as suspicious and strange acts amp up. And just when he decides to take the plunge and allow himself to care for her and she decides to open up and tell him all of the truths she's been omitting, the shizz hits the fan and things seem to be over. But as this is a true romance, Ryker and Sage do get a happy ending.

It appears that this is the first of a series and I hope that Elisabeth Caldwell is dreaming up her next story because I enjoyed Strip and would love to see which characters she writes about next. 

BUY IT: https://amzn.to/3JBahzy 


Sage Cashman’s sister suffers from a terrible illness and Sage will do anything to help her, including dancing at a gentleman’s club to support the two of them. Every night, she puts on a show for the customers, and the naughtier and more flirtatious she acts, the better her tips. Sage is just going through the motions until she gets closer to the dark, silent Adonis who lurks in the shadows during her performances. When Ryker Madsen is in her orbit, she doesn’t have to pretend she’s a woman easily seduced.

Ryker Madsen turns out to be more than Sage’s boss—he’s the owner of the club. He’s also involved with the company producing the experimental drug that might be her sister’s only hope. Ryker is as arrogant as he is rich, and it’s no secret that he wants Sage and is determined to have her. He’s intrigued when Sage proposes a deal: companionship for connections. Preferring uncommitted and unemotional relationships, Ryker sees Sage’s proposal as the perfect way to get her out of his system. What Ryker doesn't know is that Sage, jaded from a string of betrayals, has many secrets. Including her identity.

The hotter their relationship gets, the closer the truth comes to the surface. When the skeletons in Sage’s family’s closet start tumbling out, they threaten both her plan to save her sister and her future with Ryker.


Monday, March 13, 2023

REVIEW: Shooters by Julia Boggio


Shooters grabbed my attention with its synopsis: a newbie wedding photographer falling for the rock star (and arrogant) photographer of the stars + comedy + set overseas? Yep, yep, and yep. And while Shooters most definitely had all of those things, it had a little bit more too. 

As the synopsis indicates, Stella is seeking a new career after her previous one blew up in her face. It's a career she has an affinity for and has dreamt of doing for a long time and so even though she enjoyed being lauded for her creative ideas, this seemed like a good change for her. It becomes immediately clear that she's working through some things...things that cause her incredible stress and can even immobilize her, if she's having a particularly rough moment. Not something she enjoys or wants witnesses to; so you can imagine her humiliation when Connor, Mr. Photography, finds her in mid panic attack. It sucks.

Fast forward through a series of funny events and we soon find Stella at Connor's weeklong photography course, where she's vacillating from lusting after Connor and being extremely frustrated by him. This push and pull goes on for quite a while, even after the course has ended. They keep running into each other and either have heated exchanges or try to freeze the other one out. It makes from some funny and, at times, frustrating moments.

Ultimately, Stella works through some of the cause of her stress and Connor works through his commitment-phobia and we finally get to see them together, getting the HEA every romance reader hopes for.

BUY IT: https://amzn.to/3yi4lFx


"The photography conference simmered with talent: those who had it, those who wanted it, and those who would always suck no matter how hard they tried. Stella Price wondered where she fell on that scale." Stella is determined to become a successful wedding photographer, even if it means learning from Connor Knight, a wedding shooter with sexy rock star status and an ego to match. Burned by an affair that ended her last career, Stella should know better than to get entangled with Connor during a residential course in a romantic French chateau. But while his arrogance turns her off, his talent turns her on. Their clashes lead to a whirlwind of passion, but Stella struggles to frame a future with a man who's come to distrust "happily ever afters" and hides a softer side behind his image. Can Stella learn from her past mistakes and teach Connor about real love before he disappears from the picture?

REVIEW: Never Ever Getting Back Together by Sophie Gonzales



Let me state for the record that when I read the synopsis of Never Ever Getting Back Together I mistakenly thought this was about post-college aged characters so I was a little thrown when I realized that we were really looking at 18-ish year olds. The premise (a game show where old flames have a chance to reconnect and maybe get together again) works with a younger crowd but to be honest, it felt a little hard to believe...maybe that's because I teach people around the age of the main characters and some of the conniving and contriving seemed a little much...as did the intensity of their feelings? So while those things didn't necessarily work for me, I enjoyed the writing, the humor, the burgeoning romance, and the ridiculous nature of many of the situations they found themselves in and I would definitely pick up another Sophie Gonzales novel, given the chance. 

BUY IT: https://amzn.to/3Eni6pw


When their now famous ex-boyfriend asks them to participate in a teen reality show, two eighteen year old girls—one bent on revenge, the other open to rekindling romance—get tangled up in an unexpected twist when they fall for each other instead in Never Ever Getting Back Together by nationally and internationally-bestselling and Indie Next Pick author Sophie Gonzales.

“Wickedly funny [and] searingly sexy.”—Kelly Quindlen, author of She Drives Me Crazy

It’s been two years since Maya's ex-boyfriend cheated on her, and she still can’t escape him: his sister married the crown prince of a minor European country and he captured hearts as her charming younger brother. If the world only knew the real Jordy, the manipulative liar who broke Maya’s heart.

Skye Kaplan was always cautious with her heart until Jordy said all the right things and earned her trust. Now his face is all over the media and Skye is still wondering why he stopped calling.

When Maya and Skye are invited to star on the reality dating show 
Second-Chance Romance, they’re whisked away to a beautiful mansion—along with four more of Jordy’s exes—to compete for his affections while the whole world watches. Skye wonders if she and Jordy can recapture the spark she knows they had, but Maya has other plans: exposing Jordy and getting revenge. As they navigate the competition, Skye and Maya discover that their real happily ever after is nothing they could have scripted.

Monday, March 6, 2023

REVIEW: Bitter Play by Alison Rhymes


Ever since June and Drew came on my radar, I've been curious about Reed (June's brother) and Leighton (her best friend). From book one they've been seemingly at each other's throats while also seeming to be very interested in the each other. Naturally, all of that tension had me curious and I snatched up Bitter Play as soon as I saw it was live. 

The reasons for their animosity and tension become clear, fairly early, and while it may be a little laudable that Reed was doing what he thought was the best thing for both of them, it kinda blew up in his face and the entirety of the novel is mostly him trying to patiently wait for Leighton to trust and believe him when he expresses his desire to be with her. 

Ultimately I enjoyed the novel but I found Reed to be a bit heavy handed and Leighton to be a little flaky at times. I get why they were the way they were but I (maybe unfairly) compared them to the main characters in the previous two novels and those characters were more dynamic and dramatic...so at times Bitter Play felt not as over the top dramatic as I think I was expecting.

Even though this wasn't my favorite book in the series, I'm still enjoying the world that Alison Rhymes has created and I will definitely read whatever she produces next. 

BUY IT HERE: https://amzn.to/3SchpFr


Reed Turner has loved his sister’s best friend, Leighton, for damn near a decade. He’s given her space to grow in her career and her life. Now he’s ready to claim the woman he’s always believed was his. It’s too bad another man in her life keeps getting in the way.

Leighton Ward has never been in love. Now, just as so many things are changing in her life, she finds two men vying for her heart. Both hold strong ties to her future and making the wrong decision comes with heavy consequences.

He knows what he wants.

She’s as confused as ever. 

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