Introvert, Worrier, Owner of the blog "Caught in a FAB Romance", and resident Romance Guru on Parajunkee's View. I've been blogging about books for four years - if it's got romance in it, I'll read it! You can also find me on twitter, tweeting about books, my family, and sometimes, The Saints: @TheLoveJunkee Find me on Instagram:
I realize I am late to the party, but OMG have you seen this show? My teenaged daughter was encouraging me to watch (more on that below) and I kept hearing about it on twitter. I'm not a big fan of television, so when I finally got around to it I wasn't expecting to be wowed, but I really, really was: I've watched 9 out of 12 episodes in the last 3 days.
As I mentioned above in the PJV Quickie, I don't watch a lot of television - I'd prefer to read. But at the insistence of my daughter, and the praise it was getting on twitter, I decided to watch the first episode. I loved it! The characters are diverse and dynamic and the premise is vague enough that I'm not sure what the end-game is but I'm interested enough to want to know. I've got three episodes left and I'm impatiently holding off watching them until my husband and son catch up :)
There are eight Sensates in a pod (No, they're no aliens. At least I don't think so). Our main characters (with help from Wikipedia because I couldn't remember all their names) are:
Each of the Sensates has a vision of a woman (Daryl Hannah) dying violently. They then begin seeing themselves either with the other Sensates, or as the other Sensates. No one understands what's going on and they each think they're hallucinating, until pieces start falling into place. There are rules to how it works. There is a villain, I think his name is "Whispers" but I'm not sure. He is trying to eradicate all Sensates. There is another Sensate, Jonas, who is trying to help.
The story is spread out and follows each character separately, but together. I know that doesn't make sense but it will once you start watching. One thing I love about this show is that as each episodes moves forward, my favorite character changes. Each character is getting multiple chances to shine and make an impact on the viewer.
Be warned though (I wasn't) that there is quite a bit of sexy stuff. From the used strap-on in the first episode to the orgy in the 6th episode, I wish I had realized it before my teen watched it. The sex is pretty graphic. (My daughter assures me the sexy stuff was 'gross' and she forwarded through it because she figured it wasn't relevant to the plot. I really, really hope that's true.)
That being said, I like the loving relationships portrayed by Nomi and Amanita and Lito and Hector. There are some characters who have "Daddy Issues", but Capheus' relationship with his mother, and Riley's relationship with her father are heartwarming. Sense8 has a nice mix of paranormal, conspiracy theories, and relationships. I can't wait to watch the last three episodes and am already wondering what's in store for Season 2. Netflix has a winner on its hands in Sense8.
Recommendation: I don't watch enough television to say what other shows might be similar to Sense8, it reminds me of the TV show Heroes. But sexier. Much, much sexier. If you like shows with a paranormal storyline, I highly recommend Sense8; there's enough going on that it doesn't get boring.
Are you watching Sense8? What do you think?
PJV Quickie: At the end of Manwhore, I absolutely could not wait for Manwhore +1. While I did enjoy reading about Rachel and Saint again, Manwhore +1 missed the spark of uncertainty and anticipation that I loved in the first book.
When we left Rachel Livingston at the end of Manwhore, her life was in a shambles: She had just been exposed for doing a secret article on one of Chicago’s hottest bachelors – Malcolm Saint. The problem was, she had fallen in love with him and was pretty sure he had fallen for her as well. After the story blew up, he wouldn’t return her calls or e-mails. Until now. Now he wants her…to work for him. Rachel doesn’t want to work for Saint, though, she wants things to be like they were before. But while she’s trying to make things right with Saint, things are not as great as she thought they would be at Edge, the magazine she works for.
I waited, very impatiently, for Manwhore +1. I absolutely loved Manwhore and talked it up to anyone who would listen. Unfortunately, Manwhore +1 left me wanting more, and not in a good way. While I still love Rachel and Saint, Manwhore +1 just kind of meandered across the page. There’s really no conflict in Manwhore +1, and sometimes that’s okay if the relationship is carrying the story, but in this case I didn’t really feel that the relationship was moving the story forward either. The plot is very loosely defined; mostly just Rachel obsessing over Saint, and sex. Lots of sex. I can’t believe I’m saying a book needs more plot/less sex, but there it is. We already know from book 1 that Malcolm is all that and a bag of chips (probably some very expensive gourmet brand), so I felt like in book 2 all of Rachel’s internal fawning over him was overkill. And there was a lot of fawning. I thought there might be some conflict regarding someone trying to buy out her magazine, but it’s established early on that Rachel is unhappy there and it seems like she should be leaving anyway. Her job hunt felt very 50-shades-esque with Saint knowing all the editors she interviewed for and offering to “put in a good word for her”, all the while she’s refusing to work for him. Without going into spoilers, I felt that the whole job drama didn’t really make any sense and didn’t really make any sense from the “villain’s” point of view.
I realize this all sounds like I hated Manwhore +1, but that’s not true. Katy Evans writes great prose but I feel like in this case it got lost in a wandering story. Several times I’d re-read a sentence just because I liked how it sounded in my head. And I still sigh whenever I think about “dibs”. I do want to see what’s next for Rachel and Saint – I will definitely be reading Ms. Manwhore; I’m hoping Manwhore +1 is just a bridge to the rest of their story.
I’m also wondering if we’re going to get a Gina/Tahoe story? It seems to be building up to it, and I would absolutely be interested in their story.
If you read and enjoyed the first book, Manwhore, I’d recommend this next installment. Fans of Sylvia Day, Emma Chase, or J. Kenner may enjoy Manwhore +1.
PJV Quickie: Station Eleven was recommended to me by a few friends and my local librarian and I have seen nothing but fabulous reviews. Unfortunately, while the premise was good and the writing was exceptional, the story still managed to fall flat for me.
A super-flu wipes out 99% of the worlds' population in a matter of weeks. Years later, pockets of humans live without electricity, antibiotics, or any 'modern' conveniences. "Before", Arthur Leander is an actor who dies in the middle of a performance of King Lear. "After", Kirsten Raymonde is part of a troupe of actors and musicians that travel between towns, playing music and performing Shakespeare's plays. Comprised of alternating scenes from "before" and "after", Station Eleven is both mundane and tragic, straddling the line between ordinary and otherworldly.
I really hate to say it, but even though Station Eleven was beautifully written, it just didn't work for me. I haven't read a "non-romance" book in several years, but coming off Andy Weir's The Martian, I figured I'd try another one and give Station Eleven a go. I think I need to dip back into the Romance pool, because apparently I need a Happily Ever After, or at least the promise of one, to really enjoy a story.
The writing in Station Eleven was wonderful, but I just didn't like the main character, Arthur Leander. So much of the story involves him and his life, and I just didn't find him to be a sympathetic character. At all. Honestly, he was kind of a self-centered jerk and that feeling of distaste stuck with me throughout most of the book.
I also had some difficulty keeping track of all the characters from both before and after. And while I found life "after" to be kind of interesting as a dystopian-type society, I really struggled with boredom in the "before" parts of the story -I can't disclose why without giving away spoilers, but let's just say that's not a good thing.
I will say that Ms. St. John Mandel paints a beautiful portrait with her words; I could absolutely envision the world "after", as well as certain elements that thread through both parts of the story. Her descriptions make me wish there was a companion graphic novel, because I think it would be spectacular.
I think fans of Erin Morganstern's The Night Circus will enjoy Station Eleven, although there are no magical or paranormal elements. I might also recommend Station Eleven to fans of The Handmaid's Tale or other Margaret Atwood books.
PJV Quickie: Coming off the high of True North, I was worried about the dreaded Sophomore Slump. I am happy to report this was not the case and I adored True Devotion!
You'd never guess now, but Devon Jenkins has lived a hard life. She grew up in poverty, but since her brother Trevor's band (Trevor is the hero in True North) hit the big time, she's living in L.A. now. She's turned her life around and gotten away from some bad decisions in her past - she's a massage therapist and she loves to bake in her spare time. She loves her brother and puts up with his band-mate, Simon. Does she have a thing for Simon? Well, sure - Simon is hot, so hot, but he flirts with anything in a skirt. So, no, she's going there and getting her heart broken.
Simon Cole is in Trevor's band, Trax. He's had a thing for Devon, but he knows she's off limits because she's Trevor's sister. Instead he takes what is offered by willing women, but they're nothing real for him - Devon could be. When Devon offers him a drunken one-night stand after Trevor's wedding, Simon tells her no - not until she's ready to make it real.
I loved True North, the first book in this series, and couldn't wait to read cocky, flirty Simon's book. I wasn't too sure about Devon, as she seemed kind of angry and stand off-ish, but that really was not the case here. Once you understand her background and her feelings for her brother, her actions in True North make much more sense.
OMG y'all - Simon and Devon had CHEMISTRY: Simmering, smoldering, sensual chemistry. I loved the back-and-forth between these two, and how they both have a great sense of humor. Their personalities were well-matched, and once they both decided to go for it, they were fabulous together. Simon only had eyes for Devon, and all he wanted to do was make her happy. Devon had a few bumps on the way - her past made her resistant to relationships and she didn't feel worthy of Simon's love and affection. And while I didn't understand her turn towards self-destruction, I do know that it happens in real life and it felt authentic to this reader.
True Devotion had a tiny bit more of the "rock star" life in it than True North did, and I enjoyed seeing the guys doing their thing. We also get to catch up with Trevor and Kate, so that was like seeing old friends again. (Don't worry, it can be read as a stand-alone.) My only complaint with the story is that it followed the same type of story arc as True North, although the different characters were enough to keep it interesting for this reader.
Liora Blake is on my "writers to watch" list and I am excitedly looking forward to the third book in this series, True Divide, which will be out in October.
Is it October yet?
Fans of rock-star romance will love True Devotion! If you like Kylie Scott's Stage Dive series, or Erika Kelly's Rock Star Romance series should give this series a try.
PJV Quickie: I always know when I crack open a Julie James book that I'm going to get a great story with complex characters and just the right amount of romantic tension. Julie James is an auto-buy author for me and her books are always worth the wait; Suddenly One Summer did not disappoint.
Victoria Slade is determined not to ever have a serious relationship or get married. As a divorce attorney, she's seen the ugly side of marriage on too many occasions to ever want to go there herself. A break-in in her home causes her to temporarily rent an apartment until she can move into her new condo, and her new next-door neighbor seems to have a string of ladies at his door, which is fine because she is totally not interested in someone who's an obvious player.
Ford Dixon is an investigative journalist who lives in the apartment next to Victoria's. He's happy with his job and his life, he's got friends and he dates, but his best friends are starting to get married and do 'couple things'. He's certainly not interested in his new neighbor, who's gorgeous but seems kind of unfriendly. Ford's sister Nicole is a new mom, and she's recently confided in him that she's overwhelmed by being a single mom but she doesn't know anything about the baby's father except his name.
When Victoria finds Nicole at Ford's door is in tears with a baby, she offers to let her into her apartment to wait for Ford. As they talk about Nicole's situation, Victoria offers her attorney services to file for child support. When Nicole tells Ford about Victoria's offer, he insists on using his investigative skills to hunt down the baby's father. As they work together to find the baby's father, they both realize that maybe first impressions are not reliable... but Victoria has issues stemming not only from her profession, but also her childhood, that may may ruin things between them before they can get very far.
As I said in my PJV Quickie, I love Julie James' books, so it's not surprising that I really enjoyed Suddenly One Summer. Three words that come to mind: smart, sexy, fun. Reading Victoria and Ford getting to know each other and rethinking their first impressions of each other really worked for me. Their chemistry was good and I love a good 'enemies to lovers' story. I liked the 'finding the baby's father' plot and thought that it was a good way to draw them together. There was no clear-cut villain in the story, no outside influence trying to keep them apart, and that was refreshing to read. Although I wish there had been more lawyer action like we've seen in previous books by Ms. James, I still devoured Suddenly One Summer in a few days. Now that I've finished it, I'm sad I have to wait a whole year for her next book.
I'd also like to point out that Victoria had some PTSD issues that I thought Ms. James handled very well. Mental health issues are still considered 'abnormal' or 'weird' by many people in this day and age, and Ms. James wrote a very positive focus on the importance of going to therapy and not just ignoring your problems.
If you're already a Julie James fan, you'll enjoy Suddenly One Summer. If you're a fan of Contemporary romance, definitely give Julie James a try - Suddenly One Summer is a good stand-alone if you're not looking for a series.
A wonderful fantasy romance. If you liked The Last Hour of Gann, you’ll like this. If you thought Gann was too long or too violent, try Radiance instead. (If you haven’t read The Last Hour of Gann, you need to. Seriously.) I loved the hero and heroine and their sense of humor about their situations. I also loved their slow, sweet romance that neither of them expected. Also, Radiance has great worldbuilding. I own it in print and ebook.
Disclosure: I am a diehard Penny Reid fan and this e-book was provided by the author at no charge to me. Actually, the three parts of the book were sent one at a time and I’m so glad I waited until I had all 3 e-arcs in hand before I started reading. I have so many thoughts all jumbling together but all that keeps coming out is “wow”. Penny Reid is an auto-buy author for me – her characters are funny and relatable. So many sighs, some dreamy and some sad, and many laughs-out-loud. This is different from her Neanderthal series and different from The Hooker and the Hermit, and yet still amazingly good.
I don’t remember where I first saw this book, but it was on my wishlist so when it went on sale I jumped. I’m so glad I did – I absolutely loved this one and will be reading/reviewing the next book, True Devotion, later this month. This was a sweet and sexy story about a rock star (my catnip) and a widow and it was so wonderfully done that I had a book hangover when I finished. My main qualm was that the ending seemed kind of abrupt, but other than that, big big love
YOU WANT TO READ THIS!!! My husband was reading The Martian and sharing little snippets – it sounded like a good story, so I checked out the audiobook from the library. I started listening in my car, but when I got up to Chapter 6 and was sitting in my driveway listening, I decided I was being an idiot so I went inside and proceeded to read the entire rest of the book in less than a day! There is absolutely no romance in The Martian and I still loved it. A little bit technical but I skimmed the math stuff and still really enjoyed it. Hubs and I already have date-night planned for when the movie comes out.
Kristen Ashley made the “stranger sneaks into my bedroom for hot sex” work, this author does not. There were a lot of holes and it’s obvious the sick kid was written in to mask a plot point near the end. Really, none of the story makes sense – what kind of revenge is it to anonymously sex up your so-called enemy and flip her toilet paper roll to the wrong side? I’m not going to give away spoilers but I just didn’t buy any of it. I found Deviant to be very disjointed and I forced myself to read to the end just to see why the “hero” hated the heroine and what he hoped to accomplish by sneaking into her apartment and backing her car into her spot and stuff (which seems pretty nice to me). There’s a cliffhanger but I have no interest in the next book.
I liked the world but there were some issues with the heroine acting out of character (A goody-good school teacher is going to suddenly throw back shots and dance on the bar in a biker club? Doubtful). I’m intrigued by one of the side-characters, whose story is next. I received this book free of charge at the RT Booklover’s Convention.
PJV Quickie: Asking For It is not going to be for everyone. It's a dark read and many readers will not be comfortable with the fantasies the hero/heroine are acting out. For me, it's definitely in my top reads of 2015; I'm going to be talking and thinking about this book for a long time.
Vivienne Charles is a graduate student and artist who has a great group of friends and is happy with her academic career path. She's also got a secret that she can't share with anyone but her therapist: She can't 'get off' unless she imagines she's being raped. She tried to share once before and asked her boyfriend to rough it up a bit, but it didn't end well and he's no longer her boyfriend. Vivienne knows how she got this way and that's why she's seeing a therapist, but she can't help feeling ashamed by her needs.
When Jonah Marks overhears some drunk guy at a party apologizing for not being able to play rapist for his girlfriend, his ears perk up. When he realizes it's the gorgeous grad student he met the other night, he knows he needs to talk to her, to convince her that they each have something the other wants:
"I would never force a woman against her will. Never. If someone held a gun to my head, I'd tell him to shoot. That's not a line I'd ever cross."
"But you fantasize about raping women."
He raises an eyebrow. "You fantasize about being raped. You know the line between dream and reality. So do I."
The story that follows is thoughtful, darkly beautiful, and ultimately hopeful.
As I sat down to write about Asking For It, I complained to my husband that I couldn't put into words how I felt about it: "Can't I just say, 'This book blew my mind and it will blow yours too'?" Because it really did - not only the story, but the writing as well. The contrast of Vivienne's anticipation before her meetings with Jonah, and her self-loathing and shame after each encounter, was powerful and affecting. But it's not just Vivienne's thoughts and emotions that captured me: Ms. Pace was able to write a hero that comes across as honorable and kind, despite his fantasies. I don't think many authors would have been able to bring readers around to see Jonah as a caring and sensitive hero.
As Vivienne and Jonah move from strangers to much, much more, their characters grow and change and I just couldn't stop reading. I had to know what was going to happen with these two - there were so many obstacles these two had to face, from themselves, each other, and outside characters. There are soooo many things I want to say here but in order to avoid spoilers I will refrain. I will say that if you're looking for a story with a Happily Ever After, you're not going to find it here. What you will find is a complicated story about pain, desire, friendship, and love (not necessarily in that order).
I should also mention that as a resident of New Orleans, I have a soft spot for books set here. Asking For It is set in Austin and New Orleans, and, while I've never been to Austin, I can say that Ms. Pace got New Orleans just right :)
Asking For It is not listed as a series but there is a second book coming out in September 2015, Begging For It.
If you read and enjoyed Willing Victim by Cara McKenna, I think you would enjoy Asking For It. I'm going to stretch a little and also recommend this to anyone who liked Fading by E.K. Blair - not quite the same, the heroine's reactions to sex are so very, very different, but still a dark, emotional read.
You may or may not have noticed an absence of Romancing the Weekend last weekend - that's because I was in Dallas at the RT Booklover's Convention (and I don't plan ahead). I went with my Sister-in-Law/BFF, Hannah, and we roomed with Sabrina (The Geeky Junkee), Jannelle (Jannelle Reads), and Michelle (Sporadic Liaiason).
(The view of the lobby from our room door)
There was so much going on, I don't even know where to begin... I guess let me start with the trip to Dallas - I drove from NOLA to Houston to pick up my BFF, then from Houston to Dallas. So here I'll address the beaver in the post title: HOW DID I NOT KNOW ABOUT THE AWESOMENESS THAT IS BUC-EE'S? I'm talking to you, Texans. Seriously, it's awesome - all that beef jerky, barbecue, "road food", knick-knacks, and souvenirs. (I may have purchased a necklace but I'm not confirming or denying that.)
Okay, so, the convention... it was Amazeballs! I am a very shy person, so I can say I saw a lot of authors, like Grace Draven, Molly Harper, Chloe Neill, and Patricia Briggs, but I didn't approach them. They weren't in a panel setting so I was too nervous to say hi. I did meet Ilona and Gordon Andrews at a panel, and Jennifer Estep, Kresley Cole, Alice Clayton, Lauren Dane, Tiffany Reisz, Victoria Dahl, and Sophie Jordan at signings - where I stared a lot but didn't say much ;) At one point during the week, Patricia Briggs and her husband sat down and waited in line a few feet ahead of us! They were there for hours chatting with their group, just like the rest of us. *mind blown*
In addition to my favorite authors, though, I got to meet so many bloggers - I knew Lupe from Hot Listens last year, but I got to meet her co-blogger Melanie. Melanie and I share the same birthday so we had birthday shots at the hotel bar. I also got to meet Stephanie, who was so funny and nice. I met Mandi from Smexybooks at RT in New Orleans last year, but I ended up sitting next to Tori at dinner Friday night which was a pleasant surprise. I also have to mention Felicia the Geeky Blogger, whose room was across from ours - sorry we were so loud!
I didn't attend many panels this year - mostly I did the fun stuff: Gay Cards Against Humanity, Books Booze and More, Cover Model Karaoke, and of course, Entangled's Candy and Spoons -Last year I was the first one out at our table. This year? I won! I was so surprised, I didn't even realize I had won :) It was a fierce competition; we'd been trash-talking each other all year. Someone may have left the table with a bruise...
One thing they don't tell you about RT is that there are a lot of lines. If you want to get in to the popular events, you've got to get there early: (This is the line for Saturday's Book Fair.
We were at the very front of the line, but we got there very early.)
You know what, though? I had fun doing that too. Hanging with my roomies, sending someone on "booze runs" so we could drink while we were waiting, chatting and having fun:
While we were waiting for one event, we were interviewed by Buzzfeed, and Michelle and Jannelle made the articles!!! Check it here (#9 and #15) and here (#2; #7 was my answer but I didn't want my picture taken - shy, remember?). Now they're #internetfamous
The books - oh the books! There were so many books, people were worried about how to get them home. And many times you had the opportunity to have the authors sign them, which was great.
The award for Best Swag goes to Jessica Clare and Jen Frederick – The Last Kiss Eos were fabulous. My kids wanted to fight me for mine when I got home :) I also love the pretty pink nail polish from Romance at Random.
I need to give a shout-out to one of the volunteers at the convention - Jane L. - she was EVERYWHERE! She was friendly and helpful and never seemed to be tired or grumpy. I honestly don't know how she did it.
I have to say it was so much fun, we're already planning for next year - in Las Vegas!! This time the husbands want to come along...
I want to end on this note: One thing I was surprised about was that I walked away from the convention with not only a sense of community, but of body-positivity and self-confidence. When I sit at home and blog or tweet, I feel like a big old ugly lump while imagining all these other bloggers/authors/readers are beautiful and perfect. Guess what? They're not. They're just like you and me and they come in all shapes and sizes. You're not perfect? No one cares as long as you're not an asshole. And it felt good to be a part of it.
I came home from RT with a bunch of books to give away. Unfortunately, I do not get paid to blog, nor am I independently wealthy, which means I'm going to space the giveaways out over the next couple of weeks so that the postage isn't too painful for my wallet :) I have two giveaways today for readers with a US address (sorry international peeps), enter via rafflecopters below:
Print copies of:
I'll also throw in a shot glass, a silly highlighter, a cup koozie, and a cup.
Bonus - an ashtray made by inmates out of a licence plate (not RT related but I'm including it anyway).
A thumb drive from Carina Press with 18 e-books on it (epub format), including:
I'll also throw in some lip gloss, a pair of margarita earrings, and some dog tags.
PJV Quickie: When Dragon's Lair showed up in my mailbox, I wasn't sure what to expect - another MC Romance? Ok, I'll bite... As it turns out, I really liked Dragon's Lair. There were a couple of nitpicky things but the story was so good, I didn't really care. As soon as I closed the book, I wanted to start reading book 2, Arrow's Hell.
Faye grew up with parents who didn't show much affection and were always worried about appearances. As a child, she found solace with two brothers who lived next door, Dex and Eric. Dex was older and looked out for her, and she had a bad case of hero-worship. When they were older, Fay and Eric started dating, and things got serious: they had big plans to open a law firm together when they graduated from law school and get married. That dream died when Faye walked in on Eric having sex with another woman.
Dex is a biker with the notorious biker gang, the Wind Dragons. They're not a "Weekend Warrior"-type biker gang; they are involved in illegal activities, including murder, and they have many enemies in other biker gangs. When Dex finds out Faye has been kicked out of her house and is leaving town with something that is his, he goes after her and brings her back to the Wind Dragon's compound.
A rebound one-night stand has turned into something more between Faye and Dex, and as they learn to deal with their situation and each other, genuine affection blooms. But life in the MC compound is sometimes dangerous, and Faye has questions Dex can't or won't answer, and she finds herself becoming more and more involved - with the man and the club.
As I mentioned in my PJV Quickie, this was not a title I had requested, but I'm so glad Gallery sent it! I really enjoyed the characters - especially Faye. Faye was curious and stubborn and self-reliant. She asked a lot of questions she shouldn't have, and her curiosity has the potential to get her into a lot of trouble. She let the small stuff slide (small is relative when you're dealing with an outlaw MC, lol) but didn't back down if it was important to her, and I liked that.
Dex was a tough biker who goes by the name of "Sin" and is sex-on-a-stick (or bike, as the case may be). I liked that he was bad-ass but cared for Faye and wanted to take care of her. That scary-but-sweet gets me every time ;) I wish we could have had more of his background and his journey to the MC. Speaking of the MC, I loved these guys! They were so good to Faye and some of their scenes were so funny.
With this cast of interesting characters, Dragon's Lair kept me entertained and the story moved quickly. There were a few spots where I thought "really?" and without giving away spoilers, there was a specific scene near the beginning of the book where I think if he would have said something instead of looking angry, things would have been different for this couple. BUT, and that's a big "but", I was so into the story that I just let it go. I absolutely cannot wait to get my hands on the next book, Arrow's Hell. I am already intrigued by the hero and heroine.
If you like MC Romance, I'd definitely recommend Dragon's Lair. Fans of Joanna Wylde or Kristen Ashley should enjoy Dragon's Lair; it's a little different but I think you'll like it. As I type this, the kindle version of Dragon's Lair is only $3.99 - totally worth it.
PJV Quickie: Once again the writing team of Jessica Clare and Jen Frederick has wowed me! You wouldn't think that a heroine with Autism and a hero who's a cold-blooded killer would work together, but take my word for it, it works. Sexy, sensual, funny, and dramatic, Last Kiss held me captive until the end.
Vasily is an enforcer for the Russian Bratva. Life in the Petrovich Bratva has made him ruthless and hard. After the death of the current leader, Vasily has designs on the top spot and has been given a task to prove his loyalty - he must find a rare painting that was once owned by the Petrovich family but has disappeared over time. If he can obtain it, the Petrovich Bratva is his to lead. Vasily knows exactly who can help him find it - the computer hacker known as the Emperor. There is nothing the Emperor can't find online, and Vasily will give him whatever he wants to find the painting.
Naomi Hays has been held captive for the past 18 months by a Colombian drug cartel. In order to survive captivity she made herself useful by funneling money into untraceable accounts for her captors. She likes computers - they're logical and methodical and comforting. When she's the Emperor she feels safe and calm. But now she's been kidnapped again, this time by a severe Russian who wants her to find a painting for him.
Thrown together by fate, or necessity, these two unconventional characters find something special in each other as they travel across Europe searching for the painting. But their time together is running out... Vasily knows Naomi must go back to her family, and Naomi knows Vasily won't want her anymore once he has the painting.
Having read and loved the previous books in Jessica Clare and Jen Frederick's Hitman series, I had very high hopes for Last Kiss. We met Vasily in the previous book, Last Breath, and I was looking forward to knowing more about him. I was also curious about the heroine, Naomi, because her brother spent the last book looking for her. Can you read Last Kiss without reading the previous books in the series? Yes, but I would advise you to read them because it does give you more back story about the characters.
Last Kiss started out fast with Vasily trying to figure out how to take over the Bratva, and carrying out Naomi's "rescue" from the cartel. Naomi has Asperger's, and is a computer genius, but she needs calm and familiar things, like her baseball cap. She's thrown into chaos and Vasily must work around her "quirks" to convince her to help him. Their attraction grows, but it's the most unusual romance I think I've read. Her germophobia and her tendency to become fixated on an idea made for some intense reading - sometimes funny and sometimes sad, often introspective, and always interesting.
We get both Naomi and Vasily's point of view in Last Kiss, and I think it brought a lot to the story as both characters have a lot of internal stuff going on. Because of that, I didn't really 'feel' their relationship at first, but as I read it suddenly clicked and made sense. And then I loved it. The second half of the book sped along and dragged me with it, wanting happiness for these two with all my heart.
There's a lot of action, some suspense, an unforgettable trip to an exclusive sex club, and one of the most swoonworthy lines whispered by a hero, ever.
If you're looking for something different or like unusual heroes or heroines, you will probably enjoy Last Kiss. Fans of Kresley Cole's Game Maker series will definitely enjoy Last Kiss.
PJV Quickie: Funny, sexy, and full of "did she just say that?", Pucked is a quirky comedy of nerdy proportions. While I laughed many, many times, there were a few instances where wish the author would have toned it down a bit. Overall, though, I'll be reading more by Helena Hunting.
Violet Hall has a "no more hockey players" dating rule. This rule is non-negotiable, even though she's surrounded by them on any given day: she's an accountant who works for a PR firm specializing in sports financial management and her step-father scouts for the NHL. Her step-brother Buck has recently been traded to the her local team, and when her mother forces her to go see one of Buck's games as a show of support, Violet plans to ditch the party early. She doesn't expect to meet the sexy team captain, Alex Waters, and is pleasantly surprised to find that he's also smart and funny...too bad he's a player- the hockey kind and the manwhore kind.
Alex Waters loves hockey - there's nothing he wants to do more than play hockey. He's on the cusp of finally scoring major sports endorsements that have eluded him for years, and all seems right in his world. Then he meets Buck's step-sister, and she's funny and sexy and their chemistry together is undeniable. He wants to spend more time together, but she's put off by his playboy reputation, one he didn't actually earn.
An accidental one-night stand turns into something much more, and while Violet's heart is all in, her head doesn't know if she should believe Alex's words, or his reputation.
I read and enjoyed The Librarian Principle, so when Pucked came up for review I was thrilled. Ms. Hunting writes funny, quirky, sexy characters, and to throw hockey into the mix makes this girl a happy, happy reader.
Right from the first chapter Pucked is funny: Violet's lack of brain-to-mouth filter makes for some hysterical observations. Her quirky banter with Alex was cringeworthy at times, which made me really like her character. And I liked Alex - I really liked Alex. You never expect a sports hero to be nerdy and awkward and I loved that he was so unsure of himself around Violet, not a testosterone-fueled caveman at all. The sexy stuff between these two was palpable and I probably could have cooked a meal over the heat coming off the pages.
BUT... but, while the characters are fun and the sex is plentiful, (and I can't believe I'm actually saying this) I would have liked to see maybe a little less sex and little more character development. The story was relationship-driven, so we didn't get a real feel for what these two were like when they weren't together. Also, there were times when the writing was hysterically funny and times when it felt a bit forced- there are only so many times I can read monster cocks, beaver jokes and "jilling off" before it starts to feel a bit repetitive.
That being said, Pucked was a fun read and I am hoping that this isn't a stand-alone and that there might be more stories to follow.
If you like hockey romance and quirky, funny stories, I'd say give this one a go. Fans of Alice Clayton and Penny Reid will appreciate the humorous aspects of this story.