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Caught in a FAB Romance (@TheLoveJunkee)

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:Instagram

The Mistake by Elle Kennedy

The Mistake (Off-Campus Book 2) - Elle Kennedy
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PJV Quickie: Count me in as an Elle Kennedy fan!  With swoonworthy heroes and realistic heroines who feel like someone you could be friends with, I am really enjoying her Off-Campus series.  The Mistake is a fabulous second installment that you don't want to miss.



John Logan is a college junior; he's also a hockey player with a good shot at going pro.  Girls drop their panties when he walks by, and it seems like he's living a charmed life.  But lately he's been miserable: He knows that after college he's not going to play professional hockey, he's going home to take care of his alcoholic father and run the family garage.  Compounding his misery is the fact that he's in love with his best friend's girlfriend (Hannah from book 1, The Deal).  When he accidentally ends up in a freshman dorm while looking for a party, he doesn't expect to meet, and then disappoint, a young co-ed.  His pride gets the best of him though, and he goes back to set things right.


Grace Ivers is a college freshman, generally quiet and shy.  When the hunkalicious star of the hockey team shows up at her door, she's flabbergasted.  Their awkward meeting turns into an evening of watching movies and making out, but the making out part of the evening wasn't that great.  So when he shows up again, wanting to make up for the disappointing make-out session, she's surprised (again) and acquiesces.


Unfortunately, things don't magically fall into place for these two, and after a long, difficult summer, Logan is determined to win her back.  Grace has other ideas, though, and is equally determined not to fall into his arms again just because he's got a sexy smile and hot kisses... she needs to know she's the only girl on his mind.




Earlier this year I fell in love with The Deal, so when the next book, The Mistake, came up for review I couldn't say yes fast enough.   Elle Kennedy writes NA the way it should be written:  her stories are sweet and tough and sexy and tender and OMG they make me feel.  The relationship between Grace and Logan is hard to describe - it almost works backwards.  It starts off physical but becomes emotional and the scenes where Grace makes Logan work for it provide a hilarious respite from the dark subject matter. 


Logan's character kind of sneaks up on you in The Mistake, you know he's unhappy and he self-medicates with sex. When we see what's going on in his life, you might as well say goodbye to your heartstrings because they'll be pulled right out of your chest. I felt his frustration and despair, and his longing - longing for love and all the wonderful things that go along with it, and longing for a chance at living life after college and being able to pursue his dream of playing professional hockey.


Grace is an amazing heroine - at first she's kind of a pushover but I love that she makes a conscious decision to change and take charge of her life.  She stands up for herself and doesn't apologize for it, and I think she's fabulous.


As in The Deal, the secondary characters are funny and solid enough that you feel like you're getting to know them along with Grace.  As I finished The Mistake, I didn't want to say goodbye to these characters - I  can't wait to see who's book is next!



Fans of Sawyer Bennett's Cold Fury Hockey series will probably enjoy The Mistake.  I'd also recommend this series to Cora Carmack's Rusk University series fans, even though that series is football instead of hockey.   If you like Contemporary Romance but don't read New Adult, this series is a good place to start. You can read The Mistake as a standalone, but I highly recommend reading the first book in the series, The Deal, just because it's a fabulous read.


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Overruled by Emma Chase

Overruled (The Legal Briefs Series) - Emma Chase
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PJV Quickie: Is it possible to love a character while simultaneously wanting to throttle him?  Because that's exactly what happened here!  In Overruled, Emma Chase is doing what she does best - writing characters you love to hate to love. (Yes, that's exactly what I meant to say :) )


Review: Stanton Shaw and Jenny Monroe have a 'don't ask/don't tell' arrangement: When he's home in their tiny town of Sunshine, Mississippi, Stanton and Jenny are a couple - sex with Jenny is good and he loves being a dad to their 10-year-old daughter, Presley.  When he's home in Washington, D.C., where he's a criminal defense lawyer, Stanton and Jenny see other people, no strings attached.  When Stanton gets a wedding invitation in the mail, to Jenny's wedding, he's determined to stop it - she's his girl, even if he's not always there, and there's no way he's going to let her marry someone else.


Stanton Shaw and Sophia Santos have a 'friends with benefits' arrangement:  They work together and make a great criminal defense team.  When they're not at work, they have incredible, no-strings attached sex. Neither has time to go bar-hopping for sex, plus, Stanton's got Jenny at home in Sunshine and Sophia plans to make partner at the firm soon. Their arrangement is win/win for everyone.


When Stanton asks Sophia to go back to Sunshine with him to win back Jenny, Sophia starts to realize that maybe she doesn't want Stanton to win back Jenny, and that maybe what he really wants is right in front of him -in the present, not back in the past.




When I saw Emma Chase had written a romance with a law theme, I could not wait to read it.  I loved Tangled, and I love romance in a law firm setting - this is totally my catnip.  The writing is fabulous and I was immediately pulled in to the story, from the pink lines on the pregnancy test while they were still in high school, to the high-powered courtroom in Washington D.C. where Stanton defended accused criminals, I could easily visualize it all. That being said, I really had a hard time figuring out my thoughts on this one:  While I liked Stanton as a hero, I was also frustrated that he seemed to think he could do his thing in DC and come home to Jenny like nothing had changed, as if he put her away in a box for future use and she ceased to have a life while he was gone.  And I loved his reactions when he realizes that's not what happens.


On his journey to realization, there several scenes with laugh-out-loud humor (cue the obligatory Forrest Gump "I am not a smart man, Jenny" reference), and a nice cast of secondary characters who round out the story and add to the fun.   The sexy stuff between Stanton and Sophia was smokin' hot and once he pulled his head out of his @ss, it was actually pretty sweet, too.


I wiggled between 3 1/2 and 4 stars, but ultimately went with 4 stars because I kept coming back to the story; I had no desire to switch to something else, which is something I do often.  Plus, I liked that Sophia stood up for herself, even when it hurt to do so.  And, I loved how Stanton and Jenny co-parented without using the daughter against each other.


Recommendations: If you like Julie James' books, I would recommend Overruled.  If you enjoy contemporary romance in a courtroom setting, small towns, and heroes that are simultaneously smart and idiotic, give Overruled a try.


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Beautiful Outlaw by Emily Minton

Beautiful Outlaw - Emily Minton

DNF at 45%


The 'hero' picks her up from a friend (her brother), drops her off at his mother's house and leaves for 4 months, then comes back and she's all over him? Nopenopenope.  Not buying it.

Silver Bastard by Joanna Wylde

Silver Bastard (Silver Valley Book 1) - Joanna Wylde
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PJV Quickie: Joanna Wylde writes riveting stories about tough outlaw alpha men and their women (old ladies) living in a biker society that plays by its own rules. Even though Silver Bastard is a new series, it's still full of sexy, bad-ass bikers and the strong-willed women who love them.



Puck Redhouse has just finished 14 months in prison, protecting his motorcycle club ("MC") with his silence.  On his first day out there's a party in his honor, hosted by a local MC, one he's not too familiar with but they're friends of the Silver Bastards.  It's also been 14 months since he's had a woman, and he's going to change that tonight - there's a hot little number he's had his eye on almost since he got to the party; she seems fresh and beautiful and is everything in a woman that he's been thinking about while he was in prison.  After an amazing night with this girl, he finds out things aren't what they appeared to be the night before, and in addition to violating his parole, he's going to change her life forever.


Looking at her now, you'd never know that Becca Jones has had a hard life. She hasn't stopped thinking about the man who ripped her away from a miserable, abusive existence five years ago. Five years of wanting someone she can never have again.  He saved her life but she still lives in fear of the monsters from her past.


When an incident at her job throws them together, Puck has decided he's tired of waiting for her to decide she's ready. Becca is thrilled but hesitant - their history together is not exactly rainbows and unicorns.  Becca doesn't know if she's ready for another controlling man in her life, and the baggage that comes with being Puck's woman terrifies her.




The problem with reading a Joanna Wylde book is that when I'm done, I immediately want more MC romance, but most of what I've been able to find just doesn't compare. Silver Bastard was no exception.


Silver Bastard is a hard book to squee about because it starts rough and I was conflicted about my feelings for Puck. Seriously, it's some messed up sh!t.  That being said, I did like him - he's loyal and underneath the bad-ass biker persona there's a genuinely good guy.  He's wanted Becca for five years but knows she needs to recover and grow before he attempts to pursue her.  He cares about her and wants to protect her.  Don't get me wrong, he also wants to sex her up six ways to Sunday! *winks*


There were two plots running through Silver Bastard - Puck's club story, and Becca's personal story.  I must admit I was a little confused by the club story - I didn't understand the politics behind the silver mine and all the machinations regarding who was on who's side in the battle to take control. Becca's story, however, was perfectly clear to me. I was frustrated that it wasn't perfectly clear to Becca, too.  Oh Becca... Becca, Becca, Becca. I liked her, really I did. But I couldn't understand her refusal to cut her mother out of her life. Becca was a strong character, a smart girl, except where it came to her mother.


All in all, I enjoyed Silver Bastard - this was not a flat-out "oh I love it" but more of a slow build where I had to reconcile the characters intentions with their actions and I liked that I had to think about it.  Puck and Becca are pretty damn hot once they get going, and there is some action near the end of the book that made me go "Oh-Snap! I did not see that coming.".  I'm looking forward to more Silver Bastards, or Reapers - there were plenty of Reapers MC characters making cameos in this story. I will read whatever Joanna Wylde decides to write.


(There was a bonus novella in the print version of Silver Bastard, I don't know if it's in the e-book, about Darcy and Boonie that was sooo good! From their childhood to their present - I loved it!)


Recommendations: I highly recommend for readers who enjoy MC Romance, hot alpha males, and a good story that keeps you interested.  If you're already a fan of Joanna Wylde, you'll want to read this one.  If you haven't read Joanna Wylde yet, definitely give Silver Bastard a read.  Fans of Kristen Ashley will probably also enjoy books by Joanna Wylde.


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Elements of Chemistry (All 3 parts, not just the first part)

Elements of Chemistry: ATTRACTION (Hypothesis Series Book 1) - Penny Reid

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. Different from her Knitting in the City series, different from The Hooker and the Hermit. Still amazingly good.

Venemous by Penelope Fletcher

Venomous (Alien Warrior Book 1) - Penelope Fletcher

I liked the story but many, many pages could have been cut out - it dragged a lot. Some of the dialogue was choppy and certain elements were hard to follow.  The characters were interesting and I am definitely interested in book 2.

The Unleashing by Shelly Laurenston

The Unleashing - Shelly Laurenston
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PJV Quickie: I am a huge fan of Shelly Laurenston's shifter books, so when I saw she was starting a new series, I jumped on it.  I wasn't too thrilled about a series centered around Norse and Viking mythology, but figured if anyone could pull it off, it would be Shelly Laurenston.  And guess what?  She totally did.



Kera Watson is an ex marine who was managing a coffee house when she was killed trying to help someone else. She's just woken up naked in a strange house - she doesn't remember how she got there or why she's naked.  Then she remembers she was killed - she can still feel where the blade entered her chest.  As she was dying, a strange woman offered her a second chance at life and she took it.


Ludvig "Vig" Rundstrom is a Raven, his clan serves Odin, and his sister is a Valkyrie.  He's been trying to work up the courage to ask out the manager at a local coffee house.  When he finds her dying in the alley behind the coffee house, he calls on Skuld to save her. Now, Kera is a member of the Crows, a large clan of women in service to Skuld.


There are other clans in service to other gods, but the crows are the only group where the members are not born with a Norse/Viking heritage. Sometimes the clans get along, and sometimes they don't, but each person is fiercely loyal to the other members of their own clan.


hen the Crows are sent on a series of missions that point to a larger problem, the Crows and the Ravens must work together to defeat a common enemy.




I have two words for you:  Brodie Hawaii!!!  I really liked the story and the characters, but I have to be honest, Kera's dog, Brodie Hawaii, stole the show!


Because The Unleashing is the first book in the series, it sets up for the rest of the books in the series and there are a lot of characters to keep track of at first.  I don't know if it was because I had an e-arc or if the book will have the same issue, but sometimes I had a hard time figuring out who was speaking to whom or how relationships between some of the characters worked.  I do like the mythology and the way the world is set up.


I really liked Kera; she has a hard time letting go of her old life as a marine and when she tries to organize the Crows, it's not pretty.  The other Crows are wild and wacky and over the top like  the characters in her other series.  And Brodie Hawaii - oh how I love that dog!  Brodie had me cheering several times throughout the book.


Vig was a great hero - he was big, strong, smart, grumpy, and cared deeply about Kera.  I wish that we could have gotten more back story on Vig though, we got that he was 'feared by all' but I didn't really get that feeling about him from the story.  I loved how he was with Kera though - her sister Crows kind of just threw her into the lifestyle without much instruction, and Vig was there to teach her and offer advice.


I am assuming future books will focus on different couples and I am totally down for that!  The end is not a cliffhanger per se, but the main story arc is not complete at the end of The Unleashing.  I didn't want the story to end where it did.



If you already read and enjoy Shelly Laurenston books, I definitely recommend The Unleashing.  If you enjoy over-the-top, quirky characters or paranormal romance and Viking mythology, I would suggest giving The Unleashing a read.


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The Dangers of Dating a Rebound Vampire by Molly Harper

The Dangers of Dating a Rebound Vampire - Molly Harper
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PJV Quickie: I'm pretty sure Molly Harper is my spirit animal.  Seriously, I want to be her when I grow up.  Or at least be as funny as she is.  The Dangers of Dating a Rebound Vampire has us back in Half-Moon Hollow and I am absolutely thrilled to be back!



Gladiola "Gigi" Scanlon is Iris Scanlon's younger sister from The Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires.  She's home from college and has a summer job working for the Vampire Council doing computer programming.  Gigi lives with Iris and Iris' husband, Cal, who are both vampires.  Actually, most of the friends in their circle are vampires. But Iris wants Gigi to live a normal human life...one that doesn't include dating a vampire. Problem is, the one guy she can't get off her mind happens to be a mysterious hot blonde vampire with whom she shared a searing kiss while she was home for Christmas break.  When he shows up again on her first night on the job and tries to attack her, she doesn't know what to think.


Nikolai "Nik" Dragomirov is an old friend of Cal's, as in, they go back a loooooong time, and is in Half-Moon Hollow doing some work for the Council and Cal.  He's surprised when Gigi identifies him as the vampire who attacked her outside of her job and also the vampire that kissed her over Christmas break, because he has no memory of either event.  While he's working for the Council, he's seeing a lot of Gigi, and he likes her. So why does he keep attacking her? And why can't he remember doing it?




Molly Harper writes such entertaining books; she hooked me at Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs and I've been a fan ever since.  In the Half-Moon Hollow series, we've got a different group as the main focus but all the characters from her Nice Girls series are here, and it's always fun to see how they're doing.


I had a lot of fun reading The Dangers of Dating a Rebound Vampire; the characters are hilarious and the snark runs high.  Sometimes when I'm reading a book, I'll think "hurry up and get back to the good parts", but that didn't happen here:  the story transitions smoothly from Gigi's job, to her home life, to investigating why Nik is having blackouts.  I enjoyed hanging out with Gigi's co-workers and the characters from previous books, as well as reading alone-time with Nik and Gigi.  Seriously, there was no lag time here.  I would not recommend reading The Dangers of Dating a Rebound Vampire anywhere where you need to be quiet, you're going to laugh out loud more than once. The next book, The Single Undead Moms Club, out in October, and I can't wait!



If you like your paranormal romance sexy and funny, I highly recommend Molly Harper's books. If you're already a fan, don't miss this one.


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Deep by Kylie Scott

Deep (Stage Dive Series Book 4) - Kylie Scott
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PJV Quickie: Kylie Scott's Stage Dive series has been a favorite of mine since the first book, Lick. I have loved meeting each band member and reading their HEA. With Deep, however, I had a hard time liking both the hero and the heroine. Even so, I'm really sad that this is the last book in the series.



Lizzy Rollins is pregnant.  No matter how hard she tries to convince herself otherwise, the pink lines on the test tell her the truth. The truth is that her one-night stand with the gorgeous bassist in her brother-in-law's band has further-reaching consequences than she ever imagined it would; they used a condom, for pete's sake!  She knows Ben loves the rock-n-roll lifestyle and all that goes with it and has no expectation of him settling down to play 'happy family'.  She's going to have to go it alone and rely on her sister for moral and emotional support.  But first, she has to tell Ben.


Ben Nicholson is the bassist for the popular rock band, Stage Dive.  He likes Lizzy, she's sexy and smart and he can talk to her like a real person. He knows she wants him, but he knows he can't have her: she's his best friend's kid sister-in-law and therefore untouchable.  Until one night in Vegas when he just can't resist her any more.  But he's the bassist in a wildly popular band and a family isn't in his plans for his future...right?




I am a huge fan of Kylie Scott, both her NA series, Stage Dive, and her post-apocolyptic series, Flesh.  I have looked forward to each of her Stage Dive books with great anticipation and devoured them as soon as I could get my hands on them.  I dived right in to Deep, ready for Ben and Lizzy's story.


I have mixed feelings about Deep - on the one hand, I loved the scenes with the Stage Dive women:  they're strong, supportive, funny, and warm.  I love reading about women who have friendships like theirs.  The problem, though, is that I didn't really care for Ben or Lizzy:  they both came off as immature and selfish.  Ben just wanted to live the band lifestyle - no attachments and no obligations other than to the band. I really couldn't get past his poor treatment of Lizzy to wish these two a future together.  As for Lizzy, she was a frustrating character - she knew Ben didn't want a relationship but continued to pursue him, and then when he didn't want a relationship she was surprised. Really?


The scenes revolving around the rock-star lifestyle while the band was on tour were entertaining, and I did enjoy the story as it moved forward.  We got to see a lot of the previous couples - there were some funny scenes and some sweet scenes, and I love being back in the Stage Dive world.  A sexy new character from the opening band was introduced, and I hope this means that maybe there will be a spin-off series?  If so, I am totally on board.



If you're already a fan, you'll appreciate the glimpses of the other couples. If you enjoy 'rock star romance', or angsty stories featuring stubborn characters, Deep is exactly what you've been looking for.  Fans of Olivia Cunning's Backstage Pass series will probably love this series.


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Manwhore by Katy Evans

Manwhore - Katy Evans
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PJV Quickie: Oh. My. Gawd.  Manwhore was totally not what I expected, and I mean that in a good way.  I already knew and loved Katy Evans' other series, Real, so I knew it would be good. I just didn't realize I would get emotionally involved with these characters - I haven't stopped thinking about them!



Rachel Livingston is a writer for Edge, a magazine that's been slowly failing and is on the verge of collapse. She's been with Edge since she graduated from college and loves it there. When her boss suggests an expose of one of Chicago's most notorious bad boys, Malcolm Saint, she jumps on it: Malcolm Saint comes from a long line of old money. He's privileged, sexy, relentless, and private. He works continuously, and doesn't do relationships.  If she can just get in a little bit and see the 'real' Malcolm Saint, her story will save the magazine and advance her career.


The more time she spends with Saint and gets bits and pieces of the person behind the public image, the more she realizes she's also giving him bits and pieces of herself.  And maybe she doesn't want to share the bits and pieces Saint has given her, because their bits and pieces seem to fit each other - and not just for amazing sex.




I really enjoyed Real by Katy Evans, so when I received Manwhore for review, I was pretty excited.  When I read the blurb "reporter getting the scoop on playboy millionaire" - I figured that I had been there and done that, but since it was Katy Evans, I was going in anyway.  I should have known better; the story pulled me in and I felt myself falling for Malcolm Saint right along with Rachel, the heroine. I was getting anxious every time Rachel thought about telling Malcolm why they really met. I was dreading him eventually finding out, because I knew he would. And I was devastated, right along with our heroine after certain events unfolded.  I absolutely love it when a writer can pull me into the story and make me feel like I'm part of the story. The outside world fades away, and I am there.


Ms. Evans wrote such a wonderfully layered and engaging story in Manwhore - Saint is not a stereotypical alphahole who drags Rachel by her hair back to his mancave. He's complex and interesting, and IMHO has the patience of a saint (pun intended). The reader is drawn towards his character right along with the heroine, and to be honest, I found him completely swoonworthy. If you keep a list of book boyfriends, you'd better clear a spot for Malcolm Saint on that list.  I was surprised that Rachel is (to me) a sympathetic character, because of her duplicity I wasn't prepared to like her, but the complications of her taking the story then not coming clean are tangled and tortuous and I love that she learns more about herself through her relationship with Saint.  (In case you're wondering, the sexytimes were pretty hot too.)


I always like to know a bit about the secondary characters, and honestly, when I saw that Rachel had two besties, and Saint had two besties, I thought that this would be a trilogy - one book for each couple.  That's not happening here. There may or may not be some couplings (honestly, I'm not sure), but Manwhore does have a cliffhanger ending - we'll have to read book 2 for their HEA (OMG it had better be an HEA!). I hate cliffies, really hate them, and this is why - because I need more NOW. Not July (when Manwhore +1 comes out), not tomorrow, NOW.  Why are you torturing me, Katy Evans and Gallery Books?



I need to point out here that Manwhore is nothing like Real, so if you're already a Katy Evans fan, don't go in expecting a Remy and Brooke story. That being said, if you like Katy Evans, definitely give Manwhore a read.   If you like billionaire heroes, this is the book for you.  Fans of Sylvia Day, J. Kenner, and Christina Lauren will probably also enjoy Manwhore.


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Ten Fingers Touching by Ellen A. Roth

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PJV Quickie: Ten Fingers Touching is a beautiful book with gorgeous illustrations on several pages that bring the story to life.  Unfortunately, the pictures were my favorite part of the book; the story was nice but didn't keep my attention and I ended up putting this book down several times before I finished.



The story begins with Good and Evil making a bet that would end with Evil's banishment from the Kingdom:


  TFT 2


If virtue exists, then nothing can come between two virgin lovers' desire for one another on their wedding night," he declared.  "Their passion will be all consuming and they will reach for each other above all else."    


Evil tricked the couple into reaching for a bewitched globe, more beautiful than anything they had seen before.  But there was still a chance for Good to triumph - if the couple had children, as long as neither child touched the globe before the second child turned 8, Good would prevail.


The story then moves to the lives of some of the residents in the Kingdom:  Princess Rosy, daughter of the King and Queen, Marianna, a maiden from the village who takes care of Princess Ruby, and Martak, who was raised in the woods near Marianna's village.  What follows is a love story, an adventure, and a battle against Evil.






When I received Ten Fingers Touching in the mail for review, I was excited - it's beautiful! The artwork is stunning and gives the story a real 'fairy tale' feel, reminiscent of when your parents would read them to you as a child.  I really wanted to love this book, unfortunately, Ten Fingers Touching was not a good fit for me.


The story is a novella, written in fairy tale form, and I think that's what doesn't work for me.  If it wasn't for the references to 'lovers' and an attempted rape scene, this book would have been perfect for a child.  There's not enough artwork for it to fall into the graphic novel category, and the story was not very in-depth because it was short, so it didn't have enough pull to make me want more.  Also, while much of the mystery was revealed, I felt like there was a big ??? as to the fate of the original lovers when the story was over.



If you enjoy historical fantasies with a touch of mythical good vs evil, you might enjoy Ten Fingers Touching.  I'd also recommend it if you like unusual or visually interesting books, it would be a beautiful conversation piece in any library.


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The Deal by Elle Kennedy - Review and Giveaway

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PJV Quickie: 2015 has been a kind year for me reading-wise; I’ve really been lucky in the selection of books I’ve read so far and have stumbled upon some really excellent reads. The Deal is sitting high on that list – I didn’t want to put it down and when I finished reading I sat there with a goofy grin on my face, replaying the story in my head.



Hannah Wells is a Fine Arts major at Briar University.  She's shy and quiet; she has friends but doesn’t really go out or date – her focus is on school and work and the showcase she’s performing in as part of her major. When a hockey jock from her Philosophical Ethics (PhilEth) class starts bugging her to tutor him, she steadfastedly tells him she doesn’t have any extra time. Even though that’s true, it hasn’t stopped her from developing a crush on Justin Kohl, a football player who’s in her PhilEth class, but he doesn’t know she exists. It’s been a while since she’s had these kinds of feelings, though, and she’d kind of like for him to know she DOES exist – she could probably make some time for that.


Garrett Graham plays hockey at Briar University and signed up for a PhilEth class because it’s a notoriously easy course. The professor died right before the term started and the new professor is a hard-case who’s failing most of the class. Garrett needs to keep his grades up to play hockey and when he notices that she got an “A” on the exam, he decides he needs Hannah to tutor him. She’s immune to his charm and popularity, though, until he stumbles onto the fact that she’s got a crush on a football player in their class. Garrett’s solution: Hannah will tutor him in exchange for Garrett’s help getting Justin to notice her.


As they spend time together studying for the class, they start to realize that there might actually be a friendship growing between them, and maybe, something more…


(Trigger warning: There are some references to rape and domestic abuse that take place off-page)



I loved everything about this book, it was funny and sweet and sad and wonderful.  How do I love The Deal? Let me count the ways:


  • Swoony, smart-ass hockey player hero (I adore hockey-themed romance)
  • A smart heroine who has a talent for music (instead of the hero!)
  • New Adult (if you normally hate NA, don't let that deter you here)
  • Frenemies to Lovers (yesssss!)
  • Angsty but not over-the-top (I love me some angst, but not when it's ridiculous)
  • Sigh-worthy ending (oh yes, I sighed)

When was the last time you got lost in a book? The Deal is the kind of book where you just fall in right from the first page and the next time you look up hours have passed. It’s a book full of sweet sighs and bursts of laughter and a little bit of sadness, and when you close the book, you realize you've momentarily forgotten where you are. The phrase “lost in a book” was coined for books exactly like The Deal: you are so deep into the story that it takes you a minute to find your way back to reality.


Ms. Kennedy's writing is excellent and she writes the relationship to slowly grow and change through the story; it has a natural feel with some surprises (and good and bad). I was in from page one.  Reading along as Hannah and Garrett's relationship grows and changes is like having a secret that no one else knows, and the anticipation of waiting for everyone else to be in on that secret is palpable. These two are so right for each other and the overall flow of the story is slow and sweet.


It's not all about Hannah and Garrett's relationship, they've got other stuff going on independent of each other and their characters are distinct from one another.  You wouldn't think it would work, but it does.   As far as the secondary characters, there are so many characters that I want to get their own stories!  I love that “Wellsy” (he calls her "Wellsy" and it's so adorable!) has a good support system; she has her fine arts crew that she hangs around with and he has his teammates, and they blend pretty well.


Before you think this book is all happiness and sunshine, there are some tough topics the author tackles - Hannah was raped as a teenager (not a spoiler as you learn this very early in), and there is also some domestic abuse happening in the story.


I should close this review with a warning: I haven’t been able to get into a book since I finished The Deal. I’m ruined!!!


Recommendations: First off, I'm going to recommend The Deal to anyone who reads Romance; it's that good.  If you liked  The Hook-Up by Kristen Callihan, or Allison Parr's New York Leopards series, you'll like this.    


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The Giveaway: If you missed your chance during our Flash Giveaway earlier this week, you might be in luck because Ms. Kennedy's publicist has generously offered another e-copy of The Deal by Elle Kennedy for giveaway.  


Enter via rafflecopter below:


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Hurricane by R.J. Prescott

The Hurricane - R.J. Prescott, Jenny Sims Editing 4 Indies, Louisa Maggio LM Cover Creations

If you liked Real by Katy Evans or Beautiful Disaster, you'll want to give this one a go. No cliffie but am looking forward to the next book.

The Master by Kresley Cole

The Master (The Game Maker Series) - Kresley Cole
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PJV Quickie: Kresley Cole has a gift for storytelling – whether it’s young adult fantasy, paranormal or historical romance, or an erotic contemporary romance featuring Russian Mafia heroes, you know it’s going to be good. And The Master is good. Really good. As soon as I finished the last page of The Professional I have been waiting for The Master – Kresley Cole has rewarded my patience.



Catarina “Cat” Marin is a woman who is running from her past. She’s got a list of six rules to live by that keep her safe. The most important rule: Stay in one place no longer than six months. Her six months in Miami is almost up and she doesn’t have enough cash to leave, so in desperation she agrees to fill in for her sick friend – as an escort - one night only and then she’ll have enough money to leave.


Maksimilian “Maksim” Sevastyan is a politician in his home country of Russia who also has ties with the Russian mob. (His brother is Aleksandr from the first book in the series, The Professional) He’s in Miami on business and has hired an escort for the evening – he’s requested the same type he always asks for: tall, blonde, submissive. What he gets is a fiery Latina who challenges him at every turn and surprises him when he realizes he wants to see her again.


When Maksim makes Cat an offer she (literally) can’t refuse, she knows it’s going to force her to break more than one of her rules, but he makes her feel safe and that’s something she hasn’t felt in a long time. Maksim wants to know her secrets, but keeping her secrets is what’s kept her alive…



Let me start off by saying that The Master should be sold as a ‘combo pack’: a copy of the book and an insulated cup to ensure you have a cold beverage nearby while you’re reading. (Seriously, Gallery Books, design a cool ‘Game Makers’ cup and I’ll buy it) Kresley Cole’s Game Maker series is, for me, pure escapist reading. I know I shouldn’t be lusting over mafia killers, but I just can’t help it – Maksim is so male, so alpha, so sexy! He’s the ice to Cat’s fire and when they get together I’m the one who melts.


Be forewarned, there is a LOT of sex in The Master. But believe it or not it moves the plot forward: these two spend a lot of time together and the intimacies they show slowly bring their characters closer together. That being said, there’s more to it than just sex: throughout the story we get glimpses into Cat’s past and that kept me wondering what was going to happen to her and how she was going to get out of her situation and maybe stop running, because I knew there was no way she and Maksim could have a HEA with all those threads left dangling…and these two NEED an HEA together.


If you haven’t read the first book, The Professional, then you’ll be surprised by Maksim’s childhood; once you read about his childhood you will immediately see him as a more sympathetic character instead of an ice-cold killer. We also learn a bit about the third brother, Dimitri, who is the most damaged of the three brothers. I cannot wait to read his story!!!


Something else I liked about Maksim and Cat was that they both had different native languages and when they were carried away with passion (whether it be angry, frustrated, or sexual) they would blurt out things in their native language. And there is a LOT of passion between them. Every time she calls him “Ruso” (“Russian”) and he calls her "Katya", I can hear it in their sexy accents and I melt.



If you like erotica and romance, or elements of suspense, kidnapping, and a hint of mafia life, I would definitely recommend The Master. If you’ve read and enjoyed other books by Kresley Cole but want something with a little more ‘fire’, hit the 1-click button now, you won’t regret it!


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The Hooker and the Hermit by Penny Reid and L.H. Cosway

The Hooker and the Hermit - Penny Reid, Luci Cosway
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PJV Quickie: More books like this please!  I was nervous when Penny Reid said "don't expect this to be like my usual stuff" but I should not have doubted.  A nice blend of humor and intensity, The Hooker and the Hermit will be on my list of favorite reads this year.  (Also, once you've read the first chapter you'll think the cover is awesome!)



Ronan Fitzpatrick is Rugby's fastest rising star - a phenomenal hooker, maybe the best ever, but since punching out one of his teammates he's also earned the title of 'bad-boy'. He doesn't care about his image and he knows why he beat up his teammate - and would do it again - until he stumbles across Annie at the PR firm and wants to get to know her better. He hates social media but says he'll work on his image...if she's the one to help him do it.


Annie Catrel is a shy, borderline anti-social woman who works for a top PR firm and does her job well.  Annie loves her job because she can usually work from home, but she's also got an ironic secret: she's The Socialmedialite, a popular internet blogger who comments on the rich and famous.  When her firm puts her on the case of cleaning up the image of Rugby's latest bad-boy - a Colin Firth look-alike with a gorgeous Irish accent - she can't say no, and not just because her boss insists.


When they accidentally fall into a fake relationship, that's when things start getting real...




Short version:  I loved this!


Long version:  The Hooker and the Hermit was hard to put down.  As a shy person myself, I could easily relate to Annie: her desire not to be noticed, being shy around even her co-workers, all of it. And then she has Ronan practically thrown at her (or she was thrown at him) - he's famous and outgoing and all the things she's not.  But somehow they work.  I thought there was nice character growth for Annie, thankfully not with a 'magic penis' cure-all.  Lest you think I'm having an All-Annie-Love-Fest, I loved Ronan too!  He was cynical and blunt and is surprised when he realizes that he genuinely likes Annie; I liked his character growth too and thought the two of them nicely complimented each other's strengths and weaknesses.  There were secondary characters that were supportive but not scene-stealing, and I liked that even though the set-up was external, the basic conflict was between Ronan and Annie themselves.


I should also mention that the sexy stuff was hot - even when there wasn't any sex happening. <--Yes, you read that right.  Good stuff, I'm telling you!


One thing that I didn't get was the little blurbs at the beginning of each chapter, they were supposed to be different ways to catch a celebrity on camera, but they kind of seemed all the same to me. Maybe I missed how they related to each chapter?  I don't know...but it didn't pull me away from the book so *shrugs*


I was already a huge fan of Penny Reid, and while I own a few books by L.H. Cosway, I haven't read any of them yet. After reading The Hooker and the Hermit, I will definitely be going back and reading them!


Also, I really, really hope this one comes out in audiobook format, because I cannot wait to hear Ronan's sexy Irish accent!



Fans of sports romance, contemporary romance, sexy Irish heroes, socially awkward heroines and plain old good storytelling should enjoy 'The Hooker and the Hermit'.


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Movie Review: Fifty Shades of Grey (and a giveaway!)

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Thursday night I went with my friend Mindie (and her mom, and her grandma!) to see Fifty Shades of Grey. I went into the theater planning to be critical and not let my soft spot for the books color my opinion of the movie, but honestly?  I surprised myself by really enjoying it.  


I’m not going to go into the story line, I think the book has been around long enough that most of us know what it’s about, or at least have a general idea.



What I liked:


  • Dakota Johnson – I was not happy when she was cast and expected to hate her as Anna Steele. Here’s me admitting I was wrong: She was fabulous! I wasn’t expecting her to be so funny and have a great sense of comedic timing. The audience laughed a lot and I was right there with them. She was my favorite part of the movie.
  •  Marcia Gay Harden – I didn’t look up the characters aside from Christian and Anna, so I had no idea MGH was Christian’s mother. She was perfectly cast and I enjoyed the few scenes she was in.
  • Their e-mails – I liked their electronic communication in the books, and it was cute in the movie: little boxes with their messages would pop up on screen.  Not distracting at all.
  • Anna’s wardrobe – I want her stylist! Mindie also commented on Anna’s great style (aside from her interview outfit, of course).
  • Jamie Dornan’s ass - *fans self* It was nice. As you’ll see below, I am not a fan of Jamie Dornan as Christian, but I am *definitely* a fan of his ass. I wonder if his ass has a twitter account…
  • The ‘negotiation’ scene – I enjoyed this scene; it showed Anna with a little backbone while still being humorous.



What I didn’t like:


  • Jamie Dornan – Honestly, it seemed to me that he was phoning it in. His half-hearted use of the ‘toys’ in the playroom and his stilted delivery of the lines just didn’t work for me.
  • Luke Grimes as Christian’s brother Elliot – I don’t remember his character being a skeevy club-rat, but that’s how he came across in the movie. Mindie said he looked like a gas station attendant; I agree.
  • Lack of peen – Yeah, I said it. Seriously, we see Dakota Johnson’s breasts in probably 10 scenes; I could probably draw you a picture from memory, but not even a flash of his man-bits, aside from his butt (see #5 above) and some abdominal shots. For a movie so heavily targeted at females, this surprised me.
  • Some of the dialogue that worked for me in the book didn’t come across as well on screen. As Mindie said to me, they assumed the viewers had read the book so the holes would fill themselves (heh).



Let’s talk about sex, baby:

The first sex scene where he takes her upstairs to ‘take care of this little problem’ was hot. The other sex scenes were a little disappointing – her first spanking was lighter than a ‘love tap’ husbands give to their wives whenever their butt is in close range ;) There was nice use of the ties and ropes, but the flogger scene was half-hearted at best. Don’t get me wrong, Dakota Johnson did a wonderful job of appearing turned on and sexually excited, but Jamie Dornan didn’t seem to be very into her.  


Final Thoughts:

I found myself noticing several times during the movie that Dakota Johnson has beautiful eyes.  And Jamie Dornan has weird fingernails.


But seriously, as you can see from my lists above I think that there were more positives than negatives. Is it going to win any awards? Probably not, but I enjoyed the movie and I’m glad I didn’t wait for it to come out on DVD; Fifty Shades of Grey is a movie that pairs perfectly with a girls’ night out, a few drinks, and a lot of fun.


Hey Parajunkee, if you want to go see it, I'll go again!! ~P  



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The Giveaway: Shades of Dornan

From film and TV critic Jo Berry comes the unauthorized biography of model-turned-actor Jamie Dornan, starring as Christian Grey in the wildly popular Fifty Shades of Grey film!
Jamie Dornan is quickly becoming a megastar. The announcement of his lead role in the upcoming movie adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey caused a media frenzy and he has been hitting the headlines ever since. After English actor Charlie Hunnam stepped away from the role, Dornan was catapulted into the international spotlight. Previously a model for Calvin Klein alongside Kate Moss, he has appeared in Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette, has dated Keira Knightley, was cast as the sheriff in the hit fantasy TV drama Once Upon A Time, and followed it up with an acclaimed leading performance in the TV thriller The Fall. With details compiled from in-depth research into both his personal and professional life, this insightful book will reveal fifty shades of Jamie Dornan—a no-holds-barred biography of the man who everyone wants to know intimately.


I have one copy of Shades of Jamie Dornan by Jo Berry courtesy of Gallery Books.  US only.  Enter via rafflecopter below:


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