30 October 2014

DBML: One Way or Another: The Complete Series by Jade Cain


My rating: 3 stars

Synopsis from GR: 
Meet Ethan Kovac and Isaac Duncan, co-stars of the new sitcom, One Way or Another. Ethan's ditching a career full of terrible tween movies, while Isaac needs to cash in some of his 'serious actor' cred for, well, cash. Ethan's gay and closeted and not happy about it. Isaac has enough issues as a black man in Hollywood without dealing with rumors about his sexuality too. 
Neither of them counted on the red hot chemistry that has them fighting to keep their hands off each other.  When the gossip mags suggest that their epic off-screen bromance is just a front for a sizzling affair, the two men have to play the Hollywood game, and find the line between keeping things private and denying who they are to one another. 

UPFRONT, PILOT, HIATUS, SWEEPS, and FINALE: five hot, sweet stories of three actors, two second chances, and one romance that'll shock an entire television viewing audience. 


[DBML Event: I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review]

Ethan and Isaac are both actors and they find themselves acting in the same TV series "One Way or Another". Ethan is gay but, even if everyone suspects it, he's not out. Isaac is straight and everyone knows it...'till Ethan that is!

This is - as you could guess - a gay-for-you story but, contrary to many stories in the genre, there's very little drama in this one: Isaac doesn't need a lot of convincing to admit his attraction to Ethan and in doing something about it; and even when confronted with the possibility to being found out he's pretty nonchalant about it. It's Ethan the one that worries about Isaac's new sexuality and the probabilities of them being outed to the press and it's once again Ethan that takes a step back in order to prevent negative repercussions to Isaac's career.

While I appreciated the low drama level in One Way or Another: The Complete Series, I found it a little strange and unrealistic that a known straight man could so easily accept that he's suddenly attracted to another man. Isaac didn't act confused about his new sexuality, he didn't question it and he didn't act even a little bit panicky about it or about being outed...That seemed strange to me, that's all!
I also missed the courting/flirting part of their relationship (the UST stage to be clear): the story starts pretty much with those two going at it!!

In the end this was an enjoyable read but I felt a little detached to its characters and their love story so I won't giving it more than 3 stars.
At last, I'd like to thank again the author for the opportunity to read her book for free and I hope she appreciates my honest review.

26 October 2014

ARC Netgally: The Boyfriend Sessions by Belinda Williams


My rating: 4 stars

*ARC courtesy of Netgalley*

Another good one! I'm on a positive streak!!

Christa has learned from very young – with her parents' failed marriage and the consequent suicide of her father - how much being in love can hurt someone. Having been hurt herself more than once from people she cared about, she -unconsciously- closed off that part of herself preferring to frequent men she knew she couldn't possibly be serious about and leaving them just at the right time. After her last disastrous break-up, Christa's friends force her to attend weekly meeting with them to discuss her past romances while she has to endure a six month period of abstinence from men. What better time than this for starting a relationship with her best friend's brother? None, obviously!

Max has been hurt quite bad by his last girlfriend and, while he's not able to talk about it, he thinks he's ready to move on...and what better woman to fall in love with than his sister's best friend? The same best friend that was his first crush and who also happens to be a serial dater with a commitment phobia?! Obviously there couldn't be a better choice!

Sarcasm notwithstanding, those two are a very cute couple and I really liked how their relationship started and developed in the story! But the romance in itself it's not the part I liked the most about this book.

I started this story expecting a fun and light read but The Boyfriend Sessions is more than that.
I don't know...maybe it's just the right-book-at-the-right-time kind of thing but this story gives - in my opinion - an interesting insight on good and bad relationships we (women) find ourselves in and, even more important, about how they leave some long lasting effects we often tend to ignore.
What I liked most of the analysis the book offers on Christa's past romances is that it tries to be objective on both parts' faults: Christa tells her story and her perspective on it, her friends express their opinions and then Max says his. It's all very organized and methodical.
Obviously, as it always happens for love's issues, it's not so simple to learn from our own errors...Christa surely proved that!

In the end I'm quite happy with this book since my expectations of it were definitively exceeded: 4 solid stars! At last I'd like to thank again the author for the opportunity to read her book for free and I hope she appreciates my honest review.


22 October 2014

New ARCs

Two new ARCs through Netgalley  + one book through the "Don't buy my love" event on Goodreads



Just a Little Crush by Renita Pizzitola

The Boyfriend Sessions by Belinda Williams

One Way or Another By Jade Cain


Currently reading: The Boyfriend Sessions


Please take your seats. The journey to happiness may involve some turbulence.
Christa Morrison has commitment issues, a fact that quickly becomes apparent after she flees a romantic proposal in Paris, the thunder of impending wedding bells ringing in her ears.

Back in Sydney, she turns to her closest friends for reassurance. Instead they offer her a startling and painful diagnosis: she's a relationship junkie. The cure? An extreme rehabilitation program guaranteed to reform even the most L-word illiterate. With her girlfriends along for the ride, Christa commits to their radical plan and the chances of recovery look good. The only problem is Max Spencer. The one guy Christa—and her friends—never expected her to fall for. But he's proving to be a temptation she may not have the willpower to resist ...

For a shot at happiness, is being with Max worth betraying her friends? And will Christa have the strength to trust her heart when her colorful relationship history comes back to haunt her? It might just be enough to make a poor girl leave the country (again)

DBML: The Understatement of the Year by Sarina Bowen

The Ivy Years Series, Book #3
(could be easily read as a standalone)

My rating: 5 stars

[DBML Event: I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review]

Wow..this book was just wow...
I loved it! And every hour of (beautiful) sleep I lost for it was really worth it!

Graham and Rikker relationship was sad and sweet at the same time. In the beginning however it was mostly sad. Graham is full of guilt for what he let happen to Rik when they were young and he's also very afraid to admit he is gay so he tries his hardest to never talk to him and never met his eyes. Rikker, for his part, has to deal with being the new guy (again) in town and in particular being the new gay guy in a hockey's team...not so easy! He's also both angry and depressed with Graham's behavior but he takes the high route and tries to not challenge him on it when they're with the other teammates - when they're alone though it's another story - . I really admired him for this!
Rikker is a good guy through and through and, during their 'secret' relationship, he is very patient and understanding with Graham. How could I not like him?!

It takes a while to Graham to confront his still alive attraction to Rik; it takes him longer to do something about it and, even then, he is so afraid of what he is and what could happens if they're outed that he forces so many “rules” to their relationship to almost lose it all.
For all his hang-ups, I really liked Graham: he's probably my favorite between the twos MC. He is also a victim of hate and prejudice but, differently to Rik's case, he wasn't forced to face his being gay at sixteen and as a consequence he let himself be ruled by fear. He hides himself from the world - by drinking too much at times, and just enough at others; putting on shields and forcing himself to act straight - but mostly he hides from himself. His struggle was quite painful for me to watch but, in the end, I was so proud of his efforts! The scene with his mother (if you read the book you'll know what part I'm talking about) was touching and beautiful for its simplicity.

There's really not a thing I would change about The Understatement of the Year! I loved this story!

At last, I'd really like to thank again the author for the opportunity to read her book for free (THANK YOU!!!) and I hope she appreciates my honest review

20 October 2014

ARC Netgalley: Full Contact by Sidney Halston


Worth the Fight Series, Book #2
(the books should probably read in order)

My rating: 4 stars

*ARC courtesy of Netgalley and Random House Publishing*

I really liked this one!

Slade and Jessica are quite a steamy - their chemistry is really undeniable – but cute couple! I liked in particular how Slade took care of her and how he was so attentive to Jessica's needs and moods but, as a close second, I liked also their constantly bickering and joking. They gave the impression of two people that are comfortable with each other while still having that uncontrollable attraction between them!

And then Dennis came back...He is definitely a character I didn't like (as well as Jessica's parents) but that's the part he was wrote for. Jessica, for her part, should have talked to Slade (or Jack since he's a cop) right from the start of Dennis's threatening instead of doing what she did (so much drama could be avoided!!!).

While I'm talking about the secondary characters, let me say that the author has some interesting storylines to explore: Francesca & Tony, Violet & Cain, JL & Enzo...it'll be fun reading about them!

Full Contact should probably be read after Against the Cage since at the beginning, if you didn't read the first book in the series, you'll feel quite bewildered. Or at the least that's what happened to me. The reader is in fact thrown in Jessica and Slade's more than friendship right from the start and the whys and hows are only explained  later in the story, in the third or fourth chapter if I'm not wrong. It was confusing! Still, after Jessica's recap of the events happened in the previous book it went better and I started to fully enjoy the book. In the end this was a solid 4 stars read for me!

At last, I'd like to thank again the author for the opportunity to read her book for free and I hope she appreciates my honest review

16 October 2014

DBML: Spaghetti Western by E.M. Lynley


My rating: 3.5 stars

[DBML Event: I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review]

This is part of the "Delectable" series but it could be easily read as a standalone.

One of the thing I liked most of this book is Riley: he's such a good guy!
He grew up in a very rich family and, instead of taking the privileges that comes with it for granted, he took his own path. Even when he found himself stranded and without the boyfriend and the job he thought were waiting for him, he tested his own ability as a chef in a new setting and location.
Moreover the one time he asked for help to his family he did it more for the sake of Colby's family than for his own gain.
If I have to find something to criticize Riley for it's probably his insecurity in his relationship with Colby and how often he preferred to say nothing instead of confronting him. They could have spared themselves a lot of angst if they both just talked to each other!!

Colby has a very different life-story than Riley's. He lost his parents when he was still a child and he formed a strong attachment to the ranch and his work. Now that the family's ranch has financial problems he is ready to do everything to escape its sale. He is also full of guilt for a bad choice he made and for aggravating an already difficult situation so when the prospect of losing it all or bed the investor and take the money presented itself he was quite tempted...
I won't say how it all worked out in the end - you should read the story to find out ;) - but I will say that it was (maybe) a predictable but satisfying way! While a little jealousy could also be a positive motivator, as I've already pointed out, if they talked sooner to each other they (and we all) could have saved a lot of angst!

One thing Riley and Colby had in spade though was their sexual chemistry!!!

In the end Spaghetti Western was a 3.5 stars read to me: I liked pretty much all the characters involved in it (Denny and Beef notwithstanding) and the flow of the story; I just wasn't fully taken away by Riley and Colby relationship.
I appreciated - even if I'm definitively not chef material - also the author's idea of putting at the end of the book some of the recipes mentioned during the story. I don't know if it's the same for the others books in the series but it's a really good idea!

At last, I'd like to thank again the author for the opportunity to read her book for free and I hope she appreciates my honest review.

13 October 2014

*Sales*Sales*Sales*

Gone shopping today!!!

dbml: In From the Cold by Cat Grant


My rating: 2 stars

[DBML Event: I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review]

This novella is part of the "Courtland Chronicles" but it could be very well read alone (as I did)

It was a pleasant but very short story.
And that's probably the cause of my biggest issue with this novella: while the author tried to introduce many very complex themes (Bilal's heritage, Seth's non-traditional upbringing, religious and cultural hang-ups, ect.) there simply wasn't enough time to explore them all.

For how short In From the Cold is, the reader learns to know very well Seth and Bilal (separately). The author did in fact a very good job in developing this two new character in so few pages but, in the end, it felt to me as if I didn't get the chance to know how they worked with each other. I didn't get to know Bilal-and-Seth as a couple. For that same reason, this story seemed to me almost incomplete...I missed the romance between those two!

Nevertheless I'm a little curious about Seth's parents and their coming together so I wouldn't turn down the chance to read about them in the previous books of this series. All things considered this was an okay read to me, hence the 2 stars.

At last, I'd like to thank again the author for the opportunity to read this book for free and I hope she appreciates my honest review.

11 October 2014

#readmore

ARC Netgalley: Control by Laura Marie Altom


My rating: 1 star

*ARC courtesy of Netgalley and Random House Publishing*

Reading this till the end was really hard for me...I just couldn't connect with this story or its characters at all!

Julie/Ella is running from an abusive husband and the family that didn't believe her story of domestic abuse. She thinks of herself as 'dead inside-out' and she tries her hardest to mask her beauty since it could attract men like Blaine (the abusive asshole)...all very sad, pity though that straight after this explanation she went to a club with her friend Willow -let's not talk about her for the moment- and pretty much blew a guy met just an hour earlier. She didn't finish him 'cause she had a flashback and she run from the stranger but it didn't work. The same stranger, very understanding, tried to console her and offered to take her to his motel...that's the point where -I think- a frightened girl would have said no instead Julie accepted the offer! WHY??
What I liked the least about this character, even more so than her frequent tears and attempts to run away, it's exactly this inconsistency: she describe herself as fearful of men and insecure then she acts in a way that contradict pretty much everything. In the end she's not believable, neither as a victim, neither as a seductress.

Liam is also a contradiction and not in a good way: the Liam from the beginning and the one after the revelation of his status are two very different person.
His reasoning to offering the contract to Julie/Ella makes no sense and the way he talked about it made me want to slap him really hard. The lowest point he reached I think was when he tossed around his credit cards trying to impress Julie...I mean he literally threw them at her! Unfortunately his over the top cockiness makes an appearance (too) many times in the story.
He, like Julie/Ella, had a shitty past to overcome but the author doesn't elaborate about it until the very end and at that point I just couldn't sympathize with him and I also didn't think it justified his general behavior.

As for their relationship, it's a strange case of instant-love/lust/hate where none the above emotions are even a little believable.
Their story, after that first meeting and not quite blow-job, goes on pretty much like this: after the signing of the contract they spend together a day, then he leave for work for a week and doesn't call Julie at all. When he come back she has already run away. They spend apart some months and then they meet again when Willow -Julie's friend- is in the hospital. They finally have sex. Then they have a fight. They apologize to each other and then obviously he profess his love to her and ask her to marry him....ooooookay how could I not feel the love?!

Sorry, I really didn't get those two!
To be honest I couldn't connect even with the secondary characters; Willow in particular I really disliked!

Unfortunately I wasn't able to write anything somewhat positive about this book since it touched pretty much all my bad-buttons, still I'd like to thank again the staff of Random House Publishing Group - Loveswept from NetGalley for the chance to read&review an arc of Control and I hope they appreciate my honest (but not very positive) opinion about it.


09 October 2014

ARC Netgalley: Alex by Sawyer Bennett


Cold Fury Hockey Series, book #1

My rating: 4 stars

*ARC courtesy of Netgalley and Random House Publishing*

The thing I liked most about this book was the heroine, I'm sorry for Alex but Sutton totally stole his one-man-show!!!
She's mature and kind and strong -definitely strong- in the way that counts the most: she had a bad childhood since her father was (is still) an addict but she didn't let it affect her in a negative way, she instead decided to use that experience to help other children in the same situation. From this two lines she probably came out as a goody-two-shoes but she's really not: she also has insecurities and bad moments but what make me really respect her is the way she dealt with them. In the relationship with Alex she was the strongest of the two because, even when she wasn't sure of the reciprocity of her feelings, she gave it all abandoning herself to the emotions she felt and expressing them in an unassuming way (and that takes courage!). What some readers could misunderstand for lack of passion -for the lack of drama and yelling and angry burst- I read it as a strength of character and fortitude.

That said I also liked Alex and the other supporting characters in the story (not Cassie though). The author did a really good job in casting believable and lovable characters for this book.
Alex wasn't the bad boy he tried to be, more than an asshole he just seemed to me that he liked to wallow in his loneliness and in the bad memories of his past.
From the start he recognized something special in Sutton and acknowledged her kindness and still -proclamations to expect the worst at any time notwithstanding- he didn't take advantage of it! He was in reality quite the good (dreamy) boyfriend to Sutton.

While I liked Alex and the way Sawyer Bennett told her story, I wasn't so overwhelmed and engrossed in it as it happens with some books so this remains a 4 stars read to me.

Finally I'd like to thank again the staff of Random House Publishing Group - Loveswept from NetGalley for the chance to read&review an arc of this book and I hope they appreciate my honest (and humble) opinion about it.

- Expected publication: October 14th 2014 by Loveswept-

 
Alex (Cold Fury Hockey, #1)

07 October 2014

New ARCs!

Just received a new bunch of ARCs through Netgalley and two more books from the "Don't buy my love" event on Goodreads...this is starting to be an intense (but exciting) season!!!



Alex by Sawyer Bennett

Full Contact by Sidney Halston

Control By Laura Marie Altom

Draw Me In by Regina Cole

Dangerous by P. Rosemoore
Want It by Jennifer Chance

In From the Cold by Cat Grant

Spaghetti Western by EM Lynley



I've already started to read Alex by Sawyer Bennett and I like it so far!

Cold Fury Hockey, book #1
Hockey star Alexander Crossman has a reputation as a cold-hearted player on and off the rink. Pushed into the sport by an alcoholic father, Alex isn’t afraid to give fans the proverbial middle finger, relishing his role as the MVP they love to hate. Management, however, isn’t so amused. Now Alex has a choice: fix his public image through community service or ride the bench. But Alex refuses to be molded into the Carolina Cold Fury poster boy . . . not even by a tempting redhead with killer curves.

As a social worker, Sutton Price is accustomed to difficult people—like Alex, who’s been assigned to help her create a drug-abuse awareness program for at-risk youth as part of the team’s effort to clean up his image. What she doesn’t expect is the arrogant smirk from his perfect lips to stir her most heated fantasies. But Sutton isn’t one to cross professional boundaries—and besides, Alex doesn’t do relationships . . . or does he? The more she sees behind Alex’s bad-boy fa├žade, the more Sutton craves the man she uncovers.

06 October 2014

ARC Netgalley: Once Perfect by Cecy Robson



My rating: 3.5 stars

*ARC courtesy of Netgalley and Random House Publishing*

Regardless all the difficult themes the book covers and the tough times both characters had to overcame, this was a very sweet story!

Evie and Mateo at first couldn't be more different:
Evie grew up rich and spoiled and part of the 'in' clique but when her family lost all the money and her father killed himself she had to learn to survive on her own while struggling with ghosts she still doesn't see clearly;
Mateo grew up poor and with a father who often beat him and his sisters up, he ended in prison to vindicate the rape of his sister Sophia and he still struggling trying to maintain his family and himself while controlling his simmering anger.
As often happens in this cases, they aren't so different after all...both are struggling with their past and its repercussions on their present and both need someone able to love them in spite of everything, someone who bring out the best in them. That's exactly what Evie and Mateo are for each other!

As I said at the start this was a sweet story and Mateo is quite the knight in shining armor at times (I got the biggest crush on him reading this book) and I enjoyed the slow development of their intimate relationship, mostly the care Mateo showed to Evie, but I admit there was less chemistry and steaminess than what most NA romance get us used to...so probably if you're in the mood for an hot and steamy novel this isn't the book for you!
I still recommend it for those times you feel more romantic and soft!

In the end Once Perfect was a solid 3.5 stars read for me.
I'd like to thank again the staff of Random House Publishing Group - Loveswept from NetGalley for the chance to read&review an arc of this book and hope they appreciate my honest (and humble) opinion about it.


Once Perfect (Shattered Past, #1)

03 October 2014

My kind of shopping ;)

The Expert's Guide to Driving a Man Wild by Jessica Clare

My rating: 3 stars

It was a 'silly' but enjoyable read!
Mostly I enjoyed the role reversal as it was the woman -Kenna- the one with the cold feet in the relationship and the fear of committing...obviously trying to keep the sex totally without strings didn't work so well for Kenna (does it ever?!) but she fought a good fight ;)

I would have liked it more if they didn't go to bed together so soon!
Their bickering at the beginning was fun and their conflicting personalities could have been explored a little more. Also I thought that Grant attitude toward Kenna changed too quickly after that first kiss..

Still The Expert's Guide to Driving a Man Wild was a pleasurable book!

02 October 2014

Bender by Stacy Borel


My rating: 1 star

The biggest problem for me in Bender were the main characters: Keegan and Camden.

Keegan is whiny and so insecure it just made me cringe. I get that a girl can be a little self-conscious about her body (who wasn't/isn't) but too much is too much! All the more if that self-consciousness seems to be just an excuse to gain sympathy from others...get a grip girl! Another 'funny' thing about Keegan is that she thinks of herself as more mature than her age but, when it counts, she doesn't show it at all!

Camden is an asshole, plain and simple! At the beginning he's very rude and distant to Keegan but still he acts all jealous and possessive when she mets someone new. He tries to control everything and everyone around him without any logical reason but mostly without even trying to offering one.
Probably the author tried to make him all alpha-male but the result was just plain-asshole...unfortunately it's something that occurs more and more often in books!

Another thing that irks me -and that obviously couldn't miss in Camden's repertoire- is the random act of spanking during sex...Why??? Is it really necessary?? In my humble opinion, in this story (Camden's ego notwithstanding), was a totally avoidable scene.

Finally, why that cover? It's just me or it doesn't fit Camden's image at all?!

I'm sorry, but I really didn't like this book!

ARC Netgalley: Once Perfect by Cecy Robson

Just got my first ARC at Netgalley!!! Yay I'm very happy :)

cover
Synopsys from GR:
His life was never easy. Hers wasn’t supposed to be this hard. They come from different worlds, but fate lures them together in a way neither expected
Evelyn Preston’s future once looked perfect—until her wealthy father was caught in an embezzlement scandal and took his own life. Alone and struggling to pay her college tuition and bills, Evelyn finds a job as a waitress at the ultra-hip nightclub Excess, where she used to have more in common with the privileged private-school clientele than her fellow staff members. But something attracts her to the sexy six-foot-four bouncer and underground MMA fighter Mateo Tres Santos. Although they’ve led different lives, their troubled pasts bonds them in both survival and love.
Mateo is ex-army who wound up in prison for assaulting the man who harmed his sister. Now he’s feeling the same protective impulse for this petite blond waitress. When Evelyn experiences a panic attack at the club, Mateo comes to her rescue. And when Mateo is wounded shielding her from a brawl, Evelyn returns the favor and comes to his aid.
As their attraction intensifies, Mateo is determined to find out what nightmares are lurking in Evelyn’s past—even if that means tackling his own to save her.



Going to read it now ;)