Today we have our first Rapid Reviews post, where I give rapid reviews (duh) of titles I have read over the last month. Let’s jump right in!
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– I received a free ebook copy of titles mentioned in this post from the publisher through Netgalley/Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Sources for titles are clearly labeled.
I read a lot of romance novels over the past month. Like, a looooooooot. That’s mostly because romances are a majority of the books that are currently sitting on my Netgalley/Edelweiss backlog. I am making steady progress on said backlog, but that also means I’ve kept to one genre. Luckily, I enjoy romances, and they make for some “light” reading after reading about international relations (school) and the mortgage industry (work) for hours on end.
1 Star – “Could you expect me to rejoice in the inferiority of your [book]?” (Pride and Prejudice)
2 Stars – “[It] is tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me.” (Pride and Prejudice)
3 Stars – “I am delighted with the book!” (Northanger Abbey)
4 Stars – ‘It was a delightful [book] – perfect in being much too short.” (Emma)
5 Stars – “You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.” (Pride and Prejudice)
All the Way (Romancing Manhattan, #1) by Kristen Proby
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks on August 21, 2018
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Finn Cavanaugh is known for being a force to be reckoned with in the courtroom. He owns a successful law firm with his brother and brother-in-law in Manhattan. On the rare occasion that he has down time, he spends it at his home in Martha’s Vineyard. But when Finn’s troubled niece goes to stay with him for the summer in Martha’s Vineyard, he’s reluctant to take time off from work. That is, until he meets his beautiful new neighbor, London.
London Watson is a Tony Award winning actress on Broadway. When tragedy strikes her family, leaving her alone and injured, she flees Manhattan for Martha’s Vineyard. Hoping she can figure out how to pick up the pieces of her life, London is convinced that she’ll never be able to return to the stage. But when she meets the charming young girl next door and her sexy uncle, they soon lure London out of her shell as she finally begins to heal from the wounds of her past.
But when London feels confident enough to return to the spotlight, she’s dealt another devastating blow. Will the newfound love between London and Finn be enough to conquer all? Or will it be over before it has a chance to grow…?
I really enjoyed Proby’s Fusion series, so I had been looking forward to this new series about 3 brothers who run a law firm in NYC. I liked (but didn’t love) All the Way, even though the writing was a smidge “meh.” Not in a “can’t get past it” kind of way, but more just some cookie cutter sentence structure and a little bit of repetitiveness. Finn and London had wonderful chemistry, and some really entertaining dialogue. And getting a peak at his brothers in advance of their stories was a lot of fun too. What I liked best about this story, however, is how the characters have real life “problems” like balancing work and single parenting, family members who are addicts, and professional set backs, and are not just young, good-looking people who have high-paying jobs and commitment issues.
Long Shot (Last Shot, #3) by Kelly Jamieson
Published by Loveswept on February 27, 2018
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Waitressing at a tequila bar on the beach in sunny San Diego may not be what Reece Kirkwell wants to do forever, but for now it’s perfect—other than the flashbacks to the tragedy she caused in Boston. And the fact that one of her bosses is a domineering, first-class manwhore who’s as stubborn as he is sexy. If he’d just listen to her, she could double his business. But it would also mean getting close to someone, and that’s a risk she can’t afford. Cade Hardy’s partners at Conquistadors are like his brothers, but he’s the money man trying to keep them all afloat. To blow off steam, he’s been sleeping around a little. The last thing he needs is business advice from their crazy-hot new waitress. Cade can’t figure Reece out. She’s smarter than she lets on, and she doesn’t hide her disgust for his active sex life. But after he recognizes her PTSD symptoms, Cade is determined to save her . . . unless she saves him first.
This book was straight up food and cocktail porn. Reece was a chef in her hometown, but after she survives a tragedy (trigger warning: gun violence), she moves to San Diego and works as a waitress at a tequila bar and restaurant while she tries to heal and get a handle on her PTSD. Cade is her boss, and has A Thing for Reece, but he’s determined not ruin his business venture with his buddies by getting involved with her. Too bad this is a romance novel and “determination not to get involved” always results in “getting involved.” I really liked Reece and Cade, as well as all the secondary characters. The descriptions of the food are to die for, so do not read while hungry. There’s even an adorably ugly dog that surfs in this book. I don’t know if I’ll ever reread it, but I enjoyed the several hours I spent with this book.
Marrying Winterborne (The Ravenels, #2) by Lisa Kleypas
Published by Avon on May 31, 2016
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A ruthless tycoon
Savage ambition has brought common-born Rhys Winterborne vast wealth and success. In business and beyond, Rhys gets exactly what he wants. And from the moment he meets the shy, aristocratic Lady Helen Ravenel, he is determined to possess her. If he must take her virtue to ensure she marries him, so much the better…
A sheltered beauty
Helen has had little contact with the glittering, cynical world of London society. Yet Rhys’s determined seduction awakens an intense mutual passion. Helen’s gentle upbringing belies a stubborn conviction that only she can tame her unruly husband. As Rhys’s enemies conspire against them, Helen must trust him with her darkest secret. The risks are unthinkable… the reward, a lifetime of incomparable bliss. And it all begins with…
Marrying Mr. Winterborne
What I meant was, you are the adventure.Helen, Marrying Winterbourne
You know what I love? A romance novel where you are dropped into the middle of the story (well, if you read this series out of order and had forgotten some of what happened in the book that precedes this one). When we meet Helen and Rhys, they had already met, courted, gotten engaged, and broken up (due to a misunderstanding and a meddlesome sister, because duh). I absolutely loved Rhys, and how he wasn’t a rake, but a gazillionaire department store owner in love with a woman he didn’t think he deserved. Rhys and Helen’s chemistry is fantastic, and I adoooooored Pandora (which I knew because I had already read her book) and Cassandra, as well as the addition of badass lady doctor, Dr. Gibson (already read her book too). The “mystery obstacle” could have been a little more plausible, but it didn’t detract from the story enough to rate it lower. I highly recommend all the books in the Ravenels series.
Cowboy SEAL Homecoming (Navy SEAL Cowboys, #1) by Nicole Helm
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on January 2, 2018
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Alex Maguire never thought he'd go home again. The perfect soldier, the perfect leader, he's spent his whole life running away from Blue Valley, Montana―but when a tragic accident bounces him and two of his men out of the SEALs, there's nowhere left to turn but the ranch he used to call his own...and the confusing, innocently beguiling woman who now lives there.
Becca Denton's like nothing he could have imagined. She's far too tempting for her own good, but when she offers to help turn the ranch into a haven for injured veterans, he can't exactly say no. He'll just need to keep his distance. But something in her big green eyes makes Alex want to set aside the mantle of the perfect soldier and discover the man he could have been...safe and whole within the shelter of her arms.
My job involves working with/for Veterans, and I have seen the damage PTSD can cause a person and their families. I also appreciate romance novels where people have real life problems, such as PTSD. So I am always intrigued by novels where one of the characters is a Veteran and/or exhibits PTSD symptoms, and I am very sensitive to how these issues are handled. Cowboy SEAL Homecoming handles these elements nicely, without glossing over them, nor being overly dramatic. Alex and Becca have an interesting dynamic, as (former?) step-siblings who a decade a part in age, who are really just getting to know each other. I also really enjoyed reading scenes with Alex and his two best friends/fellow SEALs, Jack and Gabe. Few bonds in life are stronger than that between a soldier and his fellow soldier, and I thought Helms did well in showcasing that relationship.
Cowboy SEAL Christmas (Navy SEAL Cowboys, #3) by Nicole Helm
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on September 4, 2018
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Single mom and Revival Ranch's on-site therapist Monica Finley has dedicated her life to helping brave servicemen and women, but former Navy SEAL Gabe Cortez is the one man whose shell she just can't crack. Yet with the holidays fast approaching, she may finally have a plan. In a bid to get Gabe to open up, she'll ask for as much help as possible―cutting down the Christmas tree, stringing lights, the whole nine yards.
Who could possibly be a Grinch with so much holiday cheer in the air?
Gabe has always hated Christmas―the holiday never fails to remind him just how alone he truly is. But the more time he spends with Monica and her young son, the more he finds himself drawn to their cozy little family...and the more he begins to realize his long-suppressed Christmas dreams may finally be coming true.
I finished this book, but just barely. Gabe was one of my favorite characters in the first book in this series (above), but he was kind of an ass in this one. Throughout the entire book, I got the sense that Gabe and Monica were attracted to each other, but didn’t actually like each other. It was a weird dynamic. And for a book that takes place during the Christmas period, it’s not very festive or happy. I wish I had read these books in order, because my experience with this book (#3 of the series) has eliminated my desire to read book #2.
Every Little Kiss (Sequoia Lake, #2) by Marina Adair
on July 18, 2017
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There’s nothing that single mom Liv Preston won’t do if it means making her six-year-old son smile again. After a heartbreaking two years, her little family is due for some fun in the sun. She just didn’t expect to find it in the big, rugged, Search and Rescue hero next door—who shows her just how exciting, and sexy, life’s adventures can be.
As head of Reno’s K-9 search division, Ford Jamison knows what it takes to make life-and-death decisions on the fly. He doesn’t hesitate, doesn’t do regrets, and has never doubted his instincts—until he makes a promise that turns his world upside down. Desperate for redemption, he returns to Sequoia Lake, only to find himself face-to-face with his past…and the one woman he can’t have. Not when his secret would destroy her—and everything she holds dear.
For Liv, finding love once was a gift. Finding it twice seems impossible, until the moment Ford’s lips meet hers. Love doesn’t always come easy, but when it’s right, it’s worth fighting for…
After listening to an episode of the Stuff You Should Know podcast on search and rescue, I had mountains and rescue and dogs on the brain. So being the mood reader that I am, I sat down to read Every Little Kiss by Marina Adair to get my fix. Ford is a K-9 Search and Rescue superstar, and he’s come back to adorable, small-town Sequoia Lake to put his past mistakes behind him and prepare for his next assignment. Liv, and her son Paxton, are still trying to pick up the pieces after her husband is killed in a car accident, so they have moved into his childhood home. Ford and Liv meet and start a relationship, but of course he has a seeeeeecret that could derail the whole thing. I really enjoyed the first half of this book, but the second half moved a bit slow for me. The big secret is revealed at the very end of the book, and seems to resolve itself too quickly. Luckily, this story is saved by Bullseye, Ford’s hilarious K-9 partner, and Knox, Ford’s bossfriend that I hope gets a story real soon.
Kiss the Girl (The Naughty Princess Club, #3) by Tara Sivec
Published by Swerve on September 4, 2018
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While her friends have broken free of their insecurities, Ariel Waters is struggling to come out of her shell. Her ex-husband took away her voice and her self-confidence, and Ariel is drowning under a sea of debt to afford the alimony she has to pay him. She refuses to ever fall for a man’s charms again, and is determined to make her own way.
When her house and her beloved antiques are taken by the bank after too many missed payments, Ariel finds herself adrift until the infuriatingly charming Eric Sailor comes to her rescue. Although she can’t stand the millionaire playboy, Eric’s kindness and unconditional support reveal hidden depths and a love that Ariel never imagined she could find.
But there are outside influences who will stop at nothing to keep them apart; can Ariel and Eric weather the storm and find a way to be together?
“I’m not difficult… I’m a fucking delight.”Ariel, Kiss the Girl
I almost DNFed this after about 20 pages, but I’m glad I stuck with it. When we first meet Ariel Waters, she is divorced, in a bunch of debt, trying to get her stripper business up and running with her friends, trying to find a roommate, and getting her house repossessed. This would stress anyone out, and Ariel exhibits this stress by yelling at, cursing at, and insulting everyone. Even her friends. She’s also a bit of a hot mess and about to ruin said stripping business with her mind-boggling inability to file paperwork on time. To top it all off, super sexy millionaire Eric Sailor (his family manufacturers luxury yachts guys) is there to witness everything. Luckily, he’s a big ole sweetie with a massive crush on Ariel, and so he helps her out by offering her a yacht to live on while she gets back on her feet. Readers, I really liked this story. Ariel and Eric have smoking hot chemistry, and the dialogue between them had me smiling so hard. And the scene where they try goat yoga together nearly had me in tears. Ariel kicks ass, but she’s missing some of her mojo at the beginning of this story, and watching her find it again was so fun. I have the other two books in this series sitting on my Kindle and I can’t wait to read them.
No Kissing Under the Boardwalk by Kate Angell
on September 25, 2018
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Will a first love get a second chance?
Zane Cates has fallen in love twice--once with flying, and once with Tori Rollins, the girl who stole his heart in high school. For a brief, shining moment, their future looked bright. Then the offer of a place at the Air Force Academy got between Zane and his beautiful young wife, and he found his marriage over as abruptly as a wave washing back to sea. After taking comfort in the wide open skies, he's ready to return to the sunlit beach town of Barefoot William--and the woman he never wanted to leave behind. Starting over with Tori is the plan--if only his stubborn ex will have him . . .
A vagabond childhood left Tori shy and withdrawn, but after her family arrived in the pretty resort town, she made the first real friend she ever had--Zane. Opening up to him was a risk she didn't regret taking, but she never looked back once she decided to end their brief marriage. Seeing him again now is a startling shock--and an irresistible temptation. Can she let him back into her life--and finally find joy in their love?
I struggled with this book. Not so much in reading it (I finished it in an evening), but with the rating of it. I’d argue that at least 70% of this story takes place over a year where Tori and Zane are 17 and 18 years old. Which is fine, but I prefer romances where the characters are adults. Because I am an adult, and reading sex scenes between minors is weird. Which they are in the other 30% of this book. After a week long marriage at 18, Zane goes off to follow his dreams of being an Air Force pilot and then hurricane chaser (*rolls eyes*), leaving Tori behind RIGHT AFTER HER PARENTS DIED IN A PLANE CRASH to take care of her grandma, their dog, and a crappy job. Then, 18 years later, he shows back up for a second chance, and doesn’t seem to quite understand why Tori basically gives him the middle finger and tells him to f*ck off. He then tells her he’ll accept her answer, but only after she spends a weekend with him at a marriage counseling retreat in the woods. That’s how horror movies start, y’all. Add in a ridiculous romance between two side characters that also spans the same time frame and takes up a large part of the plot, and this book was just UGH.
The Governess Game (Girl Meets Duke, #2) by Tessa Dare
Published by Avon on August 28, 2018
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He’s been a bad, bad rake—and it takes a governess to teach him a lesson
The accidental governess.
After her livelihood slips through her fingers, Alexandra Mountbatten takes on an impossible post: transforming a pair of wild orphans into proper young ladies. However, the girls don’t need discipline. They need a loving home. Try telling that to their guardian, Chase Reynaud: duke’s heir in the streets and devil in the sheets. The ladies of London have tried—and failed—to make him settle down. Somehow, Alexandra must reach his heart... without risking her own.
The infamous rake.
Like any self-respecting libertine, Chase lives by one rule: no attachments. When a stubborn little governess tries to reform him, he decides to give her an education—in pleasure. That should prove he can’t be tamed. But Alexandra is more than he bargained for: clever, perceptive, passionate. She refuses to see him as a lost cause. Soon the walls around Chase’s heart are crumbling... and he’s in danger of falling, hard.
Have you ever loved a book so much you just squeed through the whole thing? That was basically me with The Governess Game. This book has everything – a slow burn romance, secondary characters I want to be BFFs with, adorably delinquent children, daily doll eulogies, and astrology. And it is so, sooooooooo funny.
“Almighty Father,” he continued in a dispirited tone, “we commit to your safekeeping the soul of Millicent. Ashes to ashes. Sawdust to sawdust. She was a doll of few words and yet fewer autonomous movements, yet she will be remembered for the ever-present–some might say permanently painted–smile on her face. By the grace of our Redeemer, we know she will be resurrected, perhaps as soon as luncheon.” He added under his breath, “Unfortunately.”Chase, The Duchess Deal
I rarely laugh out loud at things when I am “alone” and this book had me snorting on my commute. Chase is a lovely hero, as a self-aware rake who understands that pursuing our heroine, Alexandra, would be a gross use of his power over her as her employer. Alexandra, our budding astronomer heroine, wants Chase, and she sets out to win him, and the trust of Daisy and Rosamund. I wish I read the first book in this series, Emma’s The Duchess Deal (which I will be reading posthaste), prior to reading this one, but I am greatly looking forward to Penelope and Nicola’s stories.
A Nanny For the Reclusive Billionaire by Regina Kyle
on September 10, 2018
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Mallory Worthington has had enough of being treated like a fragile flower. She needs to get out of Dodge, as far and fast as possible. Somewhere no one knows about her childhood battle with cancer. A talented chef working at her family’s flagship hotel, she leaps at the first job opportunity that meets her criteria – personal chef and nanny for a reclusive and insanely hot billionaire in the Florida Keys. She doesn't know a lot about the nanny part, but how hard can it be?
Billionaire Rhys Dalton cut himself off from the world after his wife was killed. Living on this remote island was the only way he could ensure the safety of his son. Finding someone willing to help him take care of his child, well that's been a challenge right up until Mallory knocks on his office door. She makes him think and feel things he hasn't in years. He's smart, so he fires her on the spot.
But she's not going anywhere, no matter how hard he might try to get rid of her...
Ahhhh, a sweet romance with a dumb title. Those are often my favorites. A Nanny for a Reclusive Billionaire by Regina Kyle was a super sweet, quick read. Rhys (apparently a popular name for a hero this month), and Mallory butt heads when she arrives on his island for her new job as the nanny/chef for his young son. Who doesn’t love a good nanny/lord of the house trope? Rhys is still reeling from his wife’s death several years prior, and sensing Mallory could cause feeeeeelings, he attempts to fire her on the spot. Rhys’ right-hand-man convinces him to keep Mallory on while they attempt to find another nanny. Of course, in that time, Rhys and his adorbs son, Oliver, both fall for Mallory, as she does the same. Kyle does a nice job of making sure that Rhys’ dead wife doesn’t totally overshadow the story and his growing feelings for Mallory, something a lot of authors fail to navigate well. I didn’t realize it until half way through the story, but this is the sequel to The Billionaire in Her Bed, which I read and very much enjoyed last fall.
Wanderlust by Lauren Blakely
on March 20, 2018
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The first time I met him, his sexy British accent almost talked me into giving him my number on the spot. The second time, he nearly charmed the panties off me with his wit. Then I learned he's the key to success in my new job in Paris. The man who tempts me into fling-worthy dirty daydreams has turned out to be my personal translator, and his accent is the hottest thing I've ever heard.My mantra is simple -- Don't mix business with pleasure. I do my best to resist him as he teaches me how to converse with my co-workers, navigate the metro and order the perfect bottle of wine at dinner. But I also figure out how to tell the charming and clever man what I most want to say -- that I want him to take me back to his flat -- tonight.Except there's a catch...
***One more assignment before I take off on my big adventure...
And it involves the toughest work ever -- resisting the fetching American woman I spend all my days with. But you know what they say about best intentions. Soon, we're spending our nights tangled together, and I don’t want to let her go. The trouble is, my wanderlust is calling to me, and before we know it I'll be traveling the globe to fulfill a promise I made long ago.
What could possibly go wrong with falling in love in Paris? Nothing...unless one of you is leaving.
“I’m not done with Paris. And I hope Paris isn’t done with me.”-Joy, Wanderlust
Guys, this book had me wanting to move to Paris and learn how to speak French. Never mind that I didn’t enjoy my time in Paris (GASP!) or that I am currently re-learning Spanish. Griffin and Joy have an adorable meet-cute, only to have their budding romance thwarted by the fact that’s he’s been hired to be her translator at her new job. Our polyglot hero, Griffin, is a regular dude who just happens to speak numerous languages, and is on a personal mission to complete his brother’s bucket list. Not a manwhore, a jerk, or obscenely rich, he just tries to enjoy life. Joy, our fetching heroine, is freshly relocated to Paris for work, and still recovering from a toxic relationship. Despite their attempt to be just friends, they cannot resist becoming more, even knowing there is an end date to their relationship. OR IS THERE? I devoured this story in one-sitting over the weekend, stopping only to accept my takeout delivery. Griffin and Joy are a delight, with snappy dialogue, deep conversations, and fun dates. I even learned a bit of French by the end of this book. I just downloaded the sequel, with Joy’s friend Elsie, and Griffin’s friend Christian, so expect to see that in my next installment of rapid reviews.
Have you read any good romance novels lately?