Fame

Tough Enough (Tall, Dark, and Dangerous, #2) by M. Leighton Review

   Tough Enough by M. Leighton 2 Stars 

There was a time when I had everything–a wonderful family, a bright future. Love. But all that was taken away in a single night, torn from me like flesh from bone. Since then, I’ve hidden away in my second-choice job as a makeup artist. But I prefer it that way, actually. I’m comfortable in the shadows, where no one can see my scars.

Kiefer Rogan literally took my breath away the moment I met him. MMA champion-turned-actor, notorious playboy, charming to a fault—he’s everything I vowed to avoid.

But he just wouldn’t stop until I opened up and let him in. Maybe I should’ve tried harder to resist him. Maybe I shouldn’t have fallen in love with him. Because I, of all people, know that everyone has secrets. Scars. And that they’re usually ugly and painful and destructive to the people we love most.

I just never guessed that they could be deadly, too.

 

Review

In order for a romance to work for me, I have to connect with the characters. I don’t always have to like them but I have to think they are interesting.

I didn’t like the hero. He was no attuned to the heroine. I didn’t care for the heroine either as she was really judgmental and I was stuck in her head.

They could have both grown and it would have been a more enjoyable book as the writing is well done but they didn’t do that with any compelling elements and too slow for me.

So, I didn’t care about them in the end.

Training Season (Training Season, #1) by Leta Blake Review

  Training Season by Leta Blake  3 Stars!

Unquestionably talented figure skater Matty Marcus is willing to sacrifice everything for his Olympic dream, but his lack of discipline cost him the gold once before. Now the pressure’s on. He needs a coach who can keep him in line, but top coaches don’t come cheap, and Matty can’t afford to stay in the game no matter how badly he wants to win.

When a lucrative house-sitting gig brings him to rural Montana, Matty does his best to maintain his training regimen. Local residents turn out to be surprisingly tolerant of his flamboyant style, especially handsome young rancher Rob Lovely, who proves to be much more than a cowboy stereotype. Just as Matty requires a firm hand to perform his best on the ice, Rob shows him how strong he can be when he relinquishes control in the bedroom. With new-found self-assurance, he drives himself harder to go straight to the top.

But competition has a timetable, and to achieve his Olympic dream, Matty will have to join his new coach in New York City, leaving Rob behind. Now he must face the ultimate test. Has he truly learned how to win—on and off the ice—during his training season?

 

 

Review

I have mixed feelings about this book. If you like angsty romance, you will love this one. If you like BDSM well done, you will like it as well.

Rob is a wonderful complex character with all kinds of intersting pockets of who he is.

Matty is super messed up. I have trouble setting into a book when the lead needs therapy and does not get it nor is it really talked about. He is messed up in intersting ways though.

It is very rough road for this couple and because the other book I had read by Blake was so funny, I longed for more light at least in parts.

Until You Loved Me (Silver Springs, #3) by Brenda Novak Review

   Until You Loved Me by Brenda Novak  3 Stars!

After catching her fiancé cheating—with another man—usually straitlaced, workaholic scientist Ellie Fisher liberates her wild side just long enough to indulge in a passionate one-night stand with a tall, dark stranger she meets at a trendy Miami bar. Embarrassed by her recklessness, she ducks out the following morning without learning the guy’s full name, something that shouldn’t have been a problem…until a pregnancy test turns positive.

Being a professional football player, Hudson King has always been cautious around women. But this one had been different—so disinterested in his celebrity, so convincingly into him. When Ellie tracks him down, claiming she’s carrying his baby, he’s stunned. And more than a little betrayed.

But after growing up as an orphan, he’ll do anything to stay involved in his child’s life, so he urges Ellie to move to Silver Springs, where they can co-parent. Hudson has a lot of love to give, certainly enough for his child, and when their initial spark reignites, perhaps for Ellie, too…

 

Review

I like the heart of this novel very much. A one night stand leads to a pregnancy between a scientist heroine and a football player hero.

The hero has major trust issues and the heroine is just trying to do the right thing,

I like watching them fall in love.

The heroine’s ex is really a non subtle bad guy. And I really hate the my ex was gay and cheating on me with a dude horror show. And this one takes it all the way home Sad face.

The mystery around the hero is intersting. I am interested in the other books in this series.

I was given this book for my honest review, So, there you have it.

One True Pairing by Cathy Yardley Review

    One True Pairing   by Cathy Yardley  3 Stars!

They couldn’t be more opposite, the Hollywood actor and the hometown girl, but all they need is a little convention magic to become the perfect ship in Cathy Yardley’s One True Pairing.

Jake Reese needs a decoy girlfriend. Fast. The lead actor of the popular TV show, Mystics, is tired of losing his shirt to overeager fans. Literally. Which is why a chance meeting with gothabilly bookworm-slash-barista Hailey Frost seems almost too perfect to be true. Hailey is not impressed with his TV fame and is desperate to save her family’s bookstore. It’s a match made in Hollywood, but as the two pretend to date, fan fiction becomes reality. Can this OTP become canon?

Review

I love Cathy Yardley’s writing. I love it in this book too. Her words just pop off the page.

She creates great characters. Jake is such a lovely sexy human. Halley is fierce and loyal and funny.

My favorite parts of the book are the most feminist ones. Yardley does a great job thinking about the small oppressions and aggressions on selfhood and imagine a world in which the heroine calls them sees them and calls them all out. Loved it.

She is sexually assertive and clear about her sexual needs. She calls Jake out when he tries to “do” for her when she can handle things herself or it really isn’t his business.

Jake is reflective and apologies. He has never been told these things and really processes what she says. That is hot. There is also a good bit that deals fandom and the objectification of Jake.

I love Haley’s sisters and Jake’s fellow actors. I adore pretend dating plots though really they just should have dated.

However, the rest of the plot was wonky, tired, and unneeded, I don’t want to give out spoilers but it would have been a much better book if it stayed with the basic conflicts and not pour all the extra sauce on.

I am really interested in the sisters getting books and I will read them happily.

I was given this book for my honest review. So there you have it!

Behind the Curtain by Amy Lane Review

  Behind the Curtain by Amy Lane 3.5 Stars! 

Dawson Barnes recognizes his world is very small and very charmed. Running his community college theater like a petty god, he and his best friend, Benji know they’ll succeed as stage techs after graduation. His father adores him, Benji would die for him, and Dawson never doubted the safety net of his family, even when life hit him below the belt.

But nothing prepared him for falling on Jared Emory’s head.

Aloof dance superstar Jared is a sweet, vulnerable man and Dawson’s life suits him like a fitted ballet slipper. They forge a long-distance romance from their love of the theater and the magic of Denny’s. At first it’s perfect: Dawson gets periodic visits and nookie from a gorgeous man who “gets” him—and Jared gets respite from the ultra-competitive world of dancing that almost consumed him.

That is until Jared shows up sick and desperate and Dawson finally sees the distance between them concealed painful things Jared kept inside. If he doesn’t grow up—and fast—his “superstar” might not survive his own weaknesses. That would be a shame, because the real, fragile Jared that Dawson sees behind the curtain is the person he can see spending his life with.

 

Review

I really enjoyed this book. Dawson is a lovely main character. He is so himself and asks for what he wants and needs. His circle of friends is great.

I love the community college setting and the tech side of theater. The issues of virginity and distance relationships are nicely explored here.

Jared is a complex hero and I do wish we had gotten more time in his head. I like him and feel for his pain. The last section books hurts a bit because of the cruelty of others but we come out okay.

We get two secondary romance here. Woo hoo!

A lot more epilogue would enrich. Amber needs her own book, Just saying

Pull Me Under by Zarah Detand Review

   Pull Me Under by Zarah Detand   4.5 Stars!!

 As the first British footballer to come out at the prime of his career, it helps that Ben Jimmer is in a long-term, committed relationship with university student Henry Brown. Even if that relationship is fake.

Or: A cheerfully clichéd tale of romance, tattoos, football, and friendship (both with and without benefits). Also, tea. And stupidly complicated feelings, of course. Let’s not forget about those.


Review

 Oh, this is so good.

This love story is a great sports romance with a wonderful pretend relationship theme played with a twist of two heroes.

The soccer scene are great as are the plot points about dealing with coming out when you are a famous athlete.

The leads are pretty young so this has a bit of New Adult feel to it but in a good way.

I like both heroes a great deal though the lack of communication is what knocks off half a star.

The romance is a nice slow burn where friends fall in love.

Great read!

How To Be A Normal Person by T.J. Klune Review

  How to Be a Normal Person by T.J. Klune 4.5 Stars!!!

Gustavo Tiberius is not normal. He knows this. Everyone in his small town of Abby, Oregon, knows this. He reads encyclopedias every night before bed. He has a pet ferret called Harry S. Truman. He owns a video rental store that no one goes to. His closest friends are a lady named Lottie with drag queen hair and a trio of elderly Vespa riders known as the We Three Queens.

Gus is not normal. And he’s fine with that. All he wants is to be left alone.

Until Casey, an asexual stoner hipster and the newest employee at Lottie’s Lattes, enters his life. For some reason, Casey thinks Gus is the greatest thing ever. And maybe Gus is starting to think the same thing about Casey, even if Casey is obsessive about Instagramming his food.

But Gus isn’t normal and Casey deserves someone who can be. Suddenly wanting to be that someone, Gus steps out of his comfort zone and plans to become the most normal person ever.

After all, what could possibly go wrong?

 

Review

 So, it looks like TJ Klune will just be getting all my money. I love discovering a new to me writer that is this good. My bank account has other feelings.

The comic pacing and imagination of this book amazes. There is such much fun and detail.

If you don’t like quirky characters, don’t read this. Every character in the book is quirky turned to 11 even the albino ferret. I delight in zane and oddball and here me roar so I was clapping with glee but they are all very strange, bright, and complexly human. Love me an old lady Vespa gang.

But under all the silly, quirk, and randomness is a very tender love story about friendship, grieving a partner, and being odd and human.

The fact that one of our heroes is asexual is thoughtfully explored and the other hero’s relationship with his beloved father is everything.

I did wish for just a bit more in terms of getting an epilogue or just more HEA but really this is the most endearing book and I can’t wait to reread it.

Pipe Dreams (Brooklyn Bruisers, #3) by Sarina Bowen Review

     Pipe Dreams by Sarina Bowen   3 Stars! 

 

Review

This is a good book. I don’t think Sarina Bowen can write a bad book.

What I don’t love about this book is all me. I hate flashbacks. This is a second chance romance and we get flashbacks to the hero and heroines previous relationship. Those flashbacks are also emotionially painful as the hero hurts the heroine with his choices.

Also, I just never get over the dumb choice the hero makes and end of resenting Bowen for not telling me right away like she did this to me. See, she is a good writer, I totally care and am involved I am just …gah.

Because I never get over what he did and why he did, I can’t be all in for the romance. And don’t get me wrong Mike is wonderful. He is all in and great. I just side eye him the whole time.

The heroine was a fierce and grumpy in the other books and that is explained here and soften but I kind of liked her mean. lol

Enjoyable but not a reread for me.

So, I am super excited for Nate’s romance! Love me a nerd!

Big in Japan: Accidental Sumo by Jennifer Griffith Review

Big in Japan: Accidental Sumo by Jennifer Griffith 3.5 Stars! 

Buck Cooper is big.

So big, in fact, that people don’t see him anymore—not at work, not in his love life. He’s become 300+ pounds of invisible. But when a family situation shanghais this Texan to Tokyo, suddenly being big makes him a spectacle—in a good way, especially when the spotlight at a sporting match lands on Buck and forces him into the sumo ring. Will this accident of fate be Buck’s chance of a lifetime, making him Big in Japan?

 

 

 

Review

The parts of this book that are good are so good that it warrant this high rating. I completely loved the book while I was reading it. However, as I have mulled over the book my enjoyment dims a bit because of some truncated elements of the plot that make it less fulfilling and silly in places.

What I loved: This book takes a deep dive into Sumo culture. I show up for this kind of detailed exploration in my romance novels. Clap my hands and give me a cool drink, I settle in.

Sumo hazing is crazy. I love me some Sumo (yeah not a sentence that most Westerns say but there it is) and was thrilled to to seek out this book based in the world of Sumo. It was really wonderful. The story showcases the sport, the athleticism and the culture.

The setting in Japan through our hero Buck’s (clearly and American) eyes well done. I got very hungry reading this story. All the senses are used to tell the tale of living in a vastly different place than he is use to and it is well done.

His hero’s journey is lovely to trace. Buck is the best person. His motivation are human and he is good without being saccharine. He does the right thing because that is his nature but the writer is gifted at showcasing how hard these choices can be for so many reasons.

The body issues that are explored here are powerfully rendered looking at culture, self worth masculinity, bullying and other nuances.

Buck works hard and is open minded. Love him!

When he falls in love, it is sweet. (FYI this book never gets past kisses which is a nice break from hotter fare).

However, the romance could have been way more developed, They are hardly ever together. We needed more couple time, I really would have liked some of the book from the heroine’s point of view. She remains pretty idolized.

There is crazy side plots of all kinds that are way over the top. Those are sort of fun but need to be balanced with more relationship development.

So, 3.5!

I Want You to Want Me (Rock Star Romance, #2) by Erika Kelly Review

3 Stars

Derek Valencia finally has the success he’s worked so hard for. His band is touring its debut album and great reviews are rolling in. But when pictures of him tossing naked groupies off a balcony go viral, it’s damage-control time. He’s assigned a “babysitter” whose sole job is to keep him out of trouble.
Violet Davis swore she’d never work in the music industry again, but being a minder for a rock star will earn her enough to pay off the mortgage on her wildflower farm. And for a girl brought up in the foster care system, owning her own home means more to her than anything.

Though at first the two bang heads, the rocker and the farm girl soon grow close and realize that they make sweet music together. But can a girl who craves the stability of life on a farm really make it work with a man whose life is spent on the road with his band?

Review

I like a great deal about this book but I dislike about the same amount.

I love how competent the heroine is and the very real portral of how foster care system shapes her. I think it is intersting how her job as a minder grew out of her emotionial intelligence gained in the system.

The hero’s self esteem struggles are also interesting. I like the close look at addiction and denial in the other characters as well as group dynamics.

Who doesn’t love a wildflower farm?

What I did not like is how long it took the hero and heroine to evolve. They really needed to at least say out loud how they thought this thing between them might or might not work and then try. Given who they are they would stumble but this would be a much better book if they just adulted a little in terms of communication.

We get horrible drama instead which makes both of them undatable.

And the other band members are such wankers. Which is fine but there is all this talk of how close and what a family they are.

We have some good moments of recognition of wankerness but I needed way more.

There is too much red haze lust in here which gets in the way of plot for me.

So…. Calix looks like a great character and is up next but I am not sure I can take all the side stuff and more lack of TALKING.