Review Tuesday: Love Story by Lauren Layne

Lauren Layne is one of those authors that I just buy. I don’t even need to know usually what the book is about, I know that I’m at least going to enjoy it and more than likely fall in love with it. Love Story by her, however, was one of those books that I enjoyed but didn’t love – still good read, but not one of my favourites by her.

love-storyFrom Goodreads:

When Lucy Hawkins receives a job offer in San Francisco, she can’t wait to spread her wings and leave her small Virginia hometown behind. Her close-knit family supports her as best they can, by handing over the keys to a station wagon that’s seen better days. The catch? The cross-country trip comes with a traveling companion: her older brother’s best friend, aka the guy who took Lucy’s virginity hours before breaking her heart.

After spending the past four years and every last dime caring for his sick father, Reece Sullivan will do just about anything to break free of the painful memories—even if it means a two-week road trip with the one girl who’s ever made it past his carefully guarded exterior. But after long days of bickering in the car turn into steamy nights in secluded motel rooms, Reece learns that, when it comes to Lucy, their story is far from over. And this time, they just might have a shot at a happy ending.

This book alternatives points of view (POV) every chapter, and it’s not my favourite way to tell a story. I find that most of Lauren Layne’s non-series books are like this. (Which is maybe why I’m not in love with any of her books that aren’t part of a series…).

Reece’s story is a heartbreaking one. He had a very traumatic childhood that has impacted his emotional wellbeing harshly. I spent this book simply wanted to give Reece a hug and protect him from the world. No one should have to go through what he has gone through. One of the things that I love about Lucy is that she wants to do the same thing. She wants to love Reece and protect him and be there for him in a way that no one else ever has. I love her for that.

These two run aground because of Reece’s emotional baggage, Lucy not quite understanding that baggage, and because the two of them simply cannot communicate well enough (or at all) to articulate their feelings, and what they are thinking. That was frustrating because I spent most of this book just wishing, demanding, and finally yelling at my Kobo screen, that they would just talk to each other and be honest.

One of the great things about this book is that it shows you that even though you’re in love with someone, it takes a lot of work to get onto the same page sometimes. It takes a lot of work and energy and effort to love someone. And it also takes a hell of a lot of trust – in order to be vulnerable in front of the person that you love. It takes Lucy and Reece a long time to get to that point. But when they do, my heart did a little tap dance because these two definitely deserved their happily-ever-after.

Like I said at the beginning of this review, this isn’t a book I’m in love with, but it is very good. It’s a quick read (with some potentially yelling at characters part way through) and well worth it.

Review Tuesday: A Lady’s Heart by Vivian Arend

I don’t remember how I stumbled across Vivian Arend, but I’m so glad that I did. I love the shifter series (fantasy + romance) and the cowboy series that she has. They’re so entertaining. You fall in love with her characters so easily in these two series.

I think that I read A Lady’s Heart in about a day – maybe a day and a half. It was a quick read, with an engrossing story. I also really enjoyed the fact that the story was about Mandy. Readers met her in a previous book in the series. She was a character that you felt terribly for, and who you really wanted to get a happily-ever-after.

a-ladys-heartFrom Goodreads:

Lady Amanda Ainsworth found a safe place to pull herself together under the roof of the loud, boisterous Takhini Wolf pack. Safe—except for the sexy grizzly shifter with the oversized biceps and the steely-grey eyes who’s also hanging his hat with the Whitehorse wolves. Justin Cullinan makes her light up and shimmer inside like the Northern Lights, and she knows it’s time to start her new life.

He may be the bodyguard and not the CEO, but Justin’s powerful in his own right. He gets what he wants—and who he wants is the sweet seductive Mandy. He’ll go as slowly as necessary, but he has no intention of stopping until she admits they’re meant to be.

But when her safety is threatened, all bets are off. Justin’s going to keep his lady safe and find out who’s stalking her, and the best place is hidden in plain sight in the biggest shifter town in the north.

That is, if they aren’t running into a trap…

Like I said earlier, you met Justin and Mandy in an earlier book. In that book you immediately feel sorry for Mandy, and you instantly like Justin. So the fact that this book is about the two of them is awesome.

One of the things that I love about this  book is that Mandy learns how to stand up for herself. She decides what she wants and Justin helps her, in any way that he can, get it. It was so empowering watching her take bigger and bigger steps towards the person that she wanted to become. And I love that Justin always built her up. There were things that she wanted to do that she thought was silly and small, but he was always there to remind her when she gave in to self-doubt that if she wanted to do them, then they weren’t silly or small. It was simply what she wanted to do. Mandy gaining back her self-confidence, and trusting herself was a highlight of this book for me.

I also just enjoyed her and Justin’s relationship. There is a little zest of danger thrown into the story because someone is following Mandy and they’re not sure who is and what their motiviation is, but it does add  some heat to the story and to their romance.

In this story you also of course run into characters from previous books, and it’s just so wonderful seeing them all again. It’s like running into an old friend and playing a quick catch up. And what I like about it to is that you don’t run into ALL of the previous characters, just enough that you enjoy the catch up without being overrun with information that hinders the flow of the storyline.

There are of course hints dropped about upcoming books – there are at least 2 different sets of would-be couples, though one more than the other, that I’m excited about reading.

This was a quick read, and an enjoyable storyline. If you haven’t read any of her shifter series, and you’re into fantasy and romance then definitely give this series a go!

 

Review Tuesday: Accidentally on Purpose by Jill Shalvis

Accidentally on Purpose by Jill Shalvis came out January 24 – and I finished it on January 24th. It downloaded to my Kobo in the morning, when I was able to read a little bit before work, then I read at lunch, and then I came home and essentially read all evening until it was finished.

This was a great book. And it’s my favourite one in the Heartbreaker Bay series so far. But, before I continue:

accidentally-on-purposeFrom Goodreads:

There’s no such thing as a little in love…

Elle Wheaten’s priorities: friends, career, and kick-ass shoes. Then there’s the muscular wall of stubbornness that’s security expert Archer Hunt—who comes before everything else. No point in telling Mr. “Feels-Free Zone” that, though. Elle will just see other men until she gets over Archer . . . which should only take a lifetime . . .

There’s no such thing as a little in lust…

Archer’s wanted the best for Elle ever since he sacrificed his law-enforcement career to save her. But now that she’s earned happiness and success, Archer just wants Elle 24/7. Their chemistry could start the next San Francisco Earthquake, and Archer doesn’t want to be responsible for the damage. The alternative? Watch her go out with guys who aren’t him . . .

There is such a thing as…

As far as Archer’s concerned, nobody is good enough for Elle. But when he sets out to prove it by sabotaging her dates, she gets mad—and things get hot as hell. Now Archer has a new mission: prove to Elle that her perfect man has been here all along…

Archer and Elle have great chemistry – and not just sexual chemistry. They argue and bicker, but there is this friendship, this understanding, this deep caring for each other that is evident from the first page. That caught my interest first.  Most importantly though, the other person always mattered most. You saw the love these two characters had for each other long before they realized it themselves.

The sexual chemistry for these two was off the charts – the story and the plot lined wasn’t overwhelmed with sex scenes, but there was enough for you to get hot and bothered.

The other thing that I loved about this book was the plot line. Elle and Archer have a fantastic backstory and it’s something that gets played out in this book (it’s hinted at, and alluded to in the other books in the series). I was dying to know the history between these two, and I was not disappointed. The plot line gave the story a depth and a weight to it, that also gave their love a weight to it. These two characters got to where they are through a very long and painful road. They both deserved the happiness that they found at the end.

Overall, this was a highly enjoyable book. The plot line kept me interested, and the chemistry and snappy banter kept me entertained. (Also, it’s always nice running into old characters from the other books).

The only thing that I was disappointed about with this book, is that the author Jill Shalvis had said, a couple of weeks ago, that anyone who had pre-ordered the book (and I did months ago) would get an extra little story about two previous characters. I however, didn’t one. So, that I’m bummed about.

However, the story itself was awesome, and clearly something that I could not put down. Definitely pick this one up when you need a feel good book. It will not disappoint.

Update February 2 2017: Jill Shalvis’s PR company reached out to me about the bonus scene that I was missing. Turns out, I’m a moron, and did not read the instructions properly. *face palm*. However, they were super amazing and sent me a link to the scene. It was fantastic. I love these characters so much, and I cannot wait for Spence’s story. So if you haven’t read this series yet, I question your life choices and demand that you go and start it now. Yeah. Like right now.

Review Tuesday: Playing with Fire by Kate Meader

This book series – Hot in Chicago – I heard about from one of my favourite authors Lauren Layne, and I immediately went and bought book 1 Flirting with Fire. It was awesome. So, as soon as I finished it, I immediately went and bought book 2 Playing with Fire.

It must be noted that there a couple of novellas in this series too. One of those is Melting Point, and oh my goodness. It is beyond a doubt one of my favourite books now. The storyline was awesome. It was hot, with great banter, good depth and fantastic characters. Just thinking about it makes me want to read it again.

playing-with-fireBut I digress. From Goodreads:

As the only female firefighter at Engine Co. 6, Alexandra Dempsey gets it from all sides: the male coworkers who think she can’t do the job, the wives and girlfriends who see her as a threat to their firefighter men, and her overprotective foster brothers who want to shelter their baby sister at all costs. So when she single-handedly saves the life of Eli Cooper, Chicago’s devastatingly handsome mayor, she assumes the respect she’s longed for will finally come her way. But it seems Mr. Mayor has other ideas…

Eli Cooper’s mayoral ratings are plummeting, his chances at reelection dead in the water. When a sexy, curvaceous firefighter gives him the kiss of life, she does more than bring him back to the land of the living—she also breathes vitality into his campaign. Riding the wave of their feel-good story might prop up Eli’s flagging political fortunes, but the sizzling attraction between them can go nowhere; he’s her boss, and there are rules that must be obeyed. But you know what they say about rules: they’re made to be broken…

Now, the only thing I didn’t like about this book was the cover. And I didn’t like it because Alex is the firefighter, but in this cover it doesn’t look like it. She looks like the babe who’s hanging off the firefighter. It’s a complete shame because she’s so badass.

However, that’s the only thing I didn’t like about this book. Because overall this book was awesome and I loved it.

Eli and Alex are a great couple. They challenge each other, and demand better and more from each other. They push each other, which to me is fantastic. But, for all that they are extremely competitive and A type personalities they learn to bend, and to compromise in order to make their relationship work because as they realize – winning is great, but winning and losing out on each other blows.

This is a great series, in general, (please go read it, you won’t be disappointed) and this book was amazing.

 

My Favourite Books of 2016

If you’re looking for some book inspiration to start of 2017, here are my top 3 favourite books that I read in 2016.

aeronauts windlassNumber 1: The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher.

This book is without a doubt my favourite from 2016. My bestie Jay recommended it to me – and without his recommendation I would never have picked this one up. I didn’t like Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series and have stayed away from him, but Jay told me to give this one a go, and I’m so glad that I did. This book was epic. It was an amazing fantasy story, with a very well  built and thought out world, and consisted of characters that were unforgettable. I cannot wait for book two! Which reminds me I should go check the publishing date for that…anyway, you can check out my full review here.

 

Number 2: For Better or Worse by Lauren Layne.

I read a lot of romances this year (though truthfully for the last couple of years I’ve been reading a lot of romances) and while I have a couple of favourites this one is without a doubt my favourite. Lauren Layne has become for me one of the those authors that I just buy without evefor better or worsen needing to know the story because 9 times out of 10 the story is amazing and I fall head over heels for the characters. This book was no exception. The banter and chemistry that existed between the two main character was swoon worthy. I inhaled this book. More like this please Lauren Layne. You can read more about what I thought of the book here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

melting-pointNumber 3: Melting Point by Kate Meader.

I never wrote a review for Melting Point because it’s a short novella, but this book made my heart sing. The characters are simply so wonderful and have gone through so much that when they get their happily-ever-after it was just perfection. This book is part of the Hot in Chicago series (which is an amazing series, and which Lauren Layne actually recommended in her Weekly). And while the series was incredible, this little novella is my favourite part. It is a love story about 2 men, which I don’t read often – mostly because I just don’t come across very many of them – but it was such a moving story. Gage and Brady. Two characters who have gone through their own version of hell (and seriously, was that ever heart breaking) to eventually find each other. Now, I would most definitely recommend that you read the Hot in Chicago series because it’s SO good. And definitely read Melting Point. It’s one that packs a hell of a punch.

 

What were some of your favourite books of 2016? I’m on the hunt for good reads because the last two books I read I really didn’t like. (You’ll be hearing all about them in the coming weeks!)

 

Review Tuesday: Beautiful by Christina Lauren

Beautiful by Christina Lauren is the fifth book in the Beautiful Bastard series. Now, I have to say that I didn’t like the first book (Beautiful Bastard)in this series much. I didn’t like the dynamic between Chloe and Bennett. I thought it was hostile and unhealthy. However, I had bought book one and book two at the same time. So I gave the second book a go – Beautiful Stranger – and I completely fell in love with Max and Sara. After that I was hooked and I’ve read all of the books in this series and enjoyed them immensely. Beautiful Stranger though is still my favourite.

Beautiful though also holds a place in my heart because while it is the fifth book in the series it is also the last book.

beautifulFrom Goodreads:

Featuring the entire BEAUTIFUL series cast for one final hurrah!

A FREE-SPIRITED GIRL IN NEED OF A BREAK.
A MAN WEIGHED DOWN BY RESPONSIBILITY.
A ROAD TRIP VACATION WHERE ALL BETS ARE OFF.
OH, AND A LOT OF WINE.

After walking in on her boyfriend shagging another girl in their place, Pippa Bay Cox ditches London for the States to go on a drunken road trip with Ruby Miller and some of her Beautiful friends.

Scaling the career ladder is the default way to deal with heartbreak—and to just deal—for Jensen Bergstrom. Absolutely buried by his drive and workload, he rarely takes time for himself. But when his sister Hanna convinces him to join the gang on a two-week wine tour, he has a rare moment of cutting loose. Of course, it’s only once he’s committed that he realizes the strange girl he met briefly on the plane is coming along, too. She might be too much for him…or he might realize his life has become too small and needs her to make it bigger, crazier.

With this circle of friends there’s always something going on: from Chloe and Sara’s unexpected personality swaps to Will’s new domestic side to Bennett’s text message barrage and George’s own happily-ever-after. In short, their adventures in love, friendship, and hilarity are nothing short of Beautiful.

Now, because this book was the last in the series, the majority of it was about Jensen and Pippa, but the other characters got some page time too. Jensen and Pippa’s romance is a cute one, and it’s one that I enjoyed because the characters ended up balancing each other out so well.

Jensen is all about work, and Pippa is…colour. I think that would be the best way to describe it. She’s not dumb or flighty or anything like that, but she sees the world in loud colours and I liked how she balances out Jensen who if we’re still talking colours would be one shade of grey.

If this was a first book in a series it wouldn’t encourage me to read more of it. It’s not strong enough for that. It’s a cute story, but that’s kind of it. The only reason that it has any kind of punch is because it’s the last one in the series, and readers are brought up to speed on what has been happening to the characters from other books. That’s what sells this book I think. It’s for fans who love the series and love the characters.

Overall, this was a cute story, and I loved being able to catch up with previous characters. An excellent read that was just highly enjoyable.

P.S. I LOVE the covers in this series, and in their other series Wild Seasons. They’re spectacular.

Review Tuesday: Flirting with Fire by Kate Meader

The Hot in Chicago series by Kate Meader was brought to my attention by another author that I love, Lauren Layne. Lauren has a weekly newsletter that she ends out, and in one of them she mentioned that she was reading the latest book in this series and she was in love with it. So I checked it out. Now, the book she was reading was not Flirting with Fire, which is book one. But you can’t start a series in the middle, so I bought book one and I was hooked.

flirting-with-fireFrom Goodreads:

Savvy PR guru Kinsey Taylor has always defined herself by her career, not her gender. That is, until she moved from San Francisco to Chicago to be with her fiancé who thought she wasn’t taking her “job” of supporting him in his high-powered career seriously enough—and promptly dumped her for a more supportive and “feminine” nurse. Now, as the new assistant press secretary to Chicago’s dynamic mayor, she’s determined to keep her eye on the prize: no time to feel inferior because she’s a strong, kick-ass woman, and certainly no time for men.

But that all changes when she meets Luke Almeida, a firefighter as searingly sexy as he is quick-tempered. He’s also the second oldest of the Firefightin’ Dempseys, a family of foster siblings who have committed their lives to the service—if Luke’s antics don’t get him fired first. When Luke goes one step too far and gets into a bar brawl with the Chicago Police Department, Kinsey marches into Luke’s firehouse and lays down the law on orders from the mayor. But at Engine Co. 6, Luke Almeida is the law. And he’s not about to let Kinsey make the rules.

I will be the first to admit that I love romance series that follow a family of siblings. If done correctly, you end up falling for not only the main characters that the book is about, but with the family as well. And when that happens you’re hooked. You want to know more about the family, and you want to belong to the family – if only for a little while. Flirting with Fire is definitely done correctly.

Kinsey and Luke have fantastic chemistry and great banter. These are two very alpha characters who are use to getting their way, and who are use to making the rules, so compromise for them is challenging. And it’s highly entertaining watching them try.

Luke is also seen as the patriarch of the family of siblings, and so there’s an extra layer to the story where he also has to do what is good for his family, as well as learning, or maybe remembering would be better to say, how much family boosts you up and cares for you.

This book was a fantastic start to a series, and I absolutely loved it. I’m so excited to read the rest of this series. Looks like I’ve found a new favourite author!