Avid reader/reviewer and editor. I don't pull punches when I review, love it or hate it, you get what I think.
The Kill Club is dark and twisted and grabbed hold from the very beginning. This one is definitely a thriller with its many sit up and take notice scenes as we follow Jazz from one crazy situation to the next. Whether we should or not, it's easy to empathize with the vigilantes in this one, including Jazz and her determination to save Joaquin. The story does move at a fast pace with a steadily rising tension with the exception of a few lags here and there, and we also get a couple of solid twists. I'm usually pretty good at guessing the big bad in these types of stories, but I admit that I didn't see the big reveal coming, although looking back, I should have. We do have some hints if we're looking for them, but they aren't obvious by any means, and you have to think outside the box a bit to get there. I do think the story went on a bit longer than necessary after that reveal, and the extra twist at the end really wasn't needed. The book was already good, and the added twist at the end was just overkill in my opinion. Nevertheless, the story did hold my interest, and Jazz is a truly great character, one who is easy to like and root for. She's got a great sense of wit and sarcasm, and it shows up with perfect timing. In the end, this one did have a couple of issues with the lags and that extended ending, but I still enjoyed the thrill and would have to say that The Kill Club is my favorite book from Wendy Heard so far.
A new book by the author of the Dexter series? Absolutely, sign me up. Now, before I get into my thoughts on Just Watch Me, let me add that I haven't read the Dexter series, but I enjoyed the television series quite a lot. So, I suppose Riley Wolfe is supposed to be to thieves what Dexter was to serial killers? If so, something got lost in the translation for me because I didn't find anything likable about Riley. He is stealing from the rich and powerful who didn't exactly earn their money honestly, but I can't really say the same for the caper he's planning in this book. Nope, this is just because he's bored and wants a challenge, so why not attempt to steal the unstealable? Riley's talent for thievery reminds me a little of Neil from White Collar except for one thing - Neil was likable. Riley just isn't. Not even a little bit. Now, I have no problem with an unlikable main character, but I didn't find any of the characters in this one particularly likable. It's quite possible that I'm comparing apples to oranges with this book and the Dexter series, but if that's so, maybe it shouldn't have been used in the blurb. We're promised "a new, mesmerizing bad guy we can root for," and I didn't find that here.
As far as the storyline and writing style, Just Watch Me starts off well enough, and it certainly piqued my interest with the caper Riley pulls off. Sadly, it fizzled from there with some serious lags in the story. The dialogue is often stilted with way too many dialogue tags. The "he said" "she said" after almost every line in conversation was repetitive and tedious, especially when only two people were talking. In the end, this one left me underwhelmed at best, and with the lags in the story, I had a really hard time getting through it. With that, I think it's safe to say that I won't be continuing with the series.
Christmas in Silver Springs brings a bit of redemption and second chances. This one isn't really what I would consider a Christmas romance. It's Christmastime, but the romance is more about moving on and learning your own heart. I will say that I didn't much care for the timing on Harper's end. It reminded me of an old expression I heard once - the best way to get over one man is to find another. It was just too much like a rebound relationship. That said, Tobias is such a sweetheart that I couldn't help but root for him. He does have a jaded past, and I liked that the author didn't make him the victim in it all. He's paid for his mistakes, and he's only looking to get on with his life. Despite the bad timing on Harper's end, I still liked her. She had some stuff to work through and did the best she could with what she had. I may have started with reservations about it, but Brenda Novak certainly won me over with a romance that is just the right mix of sweet and sexy, and a couple that is thoroughly lovable, faults and all.
An Alaskan Christmas is more holiday adjacent than what I expect in a holiday romance. Nevertheless, the setting in Alaska always intrigues me, so I curled up to see where this one would go. I admit I had a bit of trouble getting into this romance mostly because it didn't feel much like a romance to me. Erika isn't very likable in the beginning, and I'm not sure if the back and forth between her and Reed is supposed to be fun banter or not, but I wasn't a fan. That said, she does redeem herself, and as the story goes on, the reason for her prickly nature is explained. The middle of the story is a bit more sex than substance, and I did end up skimming some of that. I have no problem with some steamy goodness, but this one was a bit of overkill for me. That said, the conclusion did win me over as far as rooting for this couple, and it's hard not to like Reed. He's much more considerate in the beginning than I felt like Erika deserved. In the end, there were things I liked, and things I didn't about this romance, but this couple did make for an interesting opposites attract romance.
Guilt, unrequited love, grief, family drama - all of that boils down to angst, lots and lots of angst. Now, that's not necessarily a bad thing except when you have angst just for the sake of angst, and after a while, this started to feel that way. Nevertheless, we do have a sexy cowboy to swoon over, and Caleb is such a sweetheart. He's a little bit too guilt-ridden in my opinion, which holds him back, but he's still lovable, and it's hard not to want to see him get his happy ever after. Ellie made me a bit crazy with her back and forth. I get her reasons for being so gunshy, but the repetition of her inner monologue caused a few eye-rolls for me. The conclusion was the saving grace in Cowboy Christmas Redemption, and I have to hand it to Maisey Yates - that scene between our couple, once they have their epiphany, warms you all the way to your toes. In the end, this one had things I liked and things I didn't, but the story was definitely worth the read, and that conclusion leaves you with all the warm fuzzies a Christmas romance should.
I wasn't sure about this one at first. I definitely wasn't sure about Elizabeth, and it all felt a little depressing for a holiday romance. Nevertheless, the author pulled me in with the rich characters. Reservations or not, I wanted to know the answers, I wanted to understand why things happened the way they did and what would happen between Luke and Elizabeth. I won't go into details because almost anything more than what I've said will give spoilers, so I'll just say that it may not have started out with a holiday feel, but this one will certainly warm your heart as things play out. The characters are well-drawn and each one adds something to the charming town of Haven Point. It's impossible not to love Luke with his big heart and generous nature, and it was heartwarming to see that rub off on others throughout the story. Coming Home for Christmas is part of the Haven Point series, but it easily stands on its own, and now that I've read about these wonderful characters, I will be adding the earlier books to my to be read pile.
I've heard great things about Story of L, so I finally dove in and checked it out. Now, I don't pretend to understand a BDSM relationship, and I can't say that I would even consider some of things Liv so readily accepted. I will say that Debra Hyde does know how to set a scene, but that fine attention to detail is sometimes detrimental to the story. There's a fine line between giving a good visual and dragging it out a little too far, and sometimes, this one went over the edge. The story is - well, it's erotica, plain and simple. It's one woman's journey to complete submission. However, I would not consider this a romance. Oh, it generates plenty of steam, but sexual attraction and steamy goodness is lust, not love, and I don't feel like this one ever got deep enough with these characters to call it love. The book is okay for what it is, but I prefer a better connection between the characters, something more than just attraction. Basically, I wanted some substance, something to show that these two women are as compatible outside a BDSM scene as they are in one. So, if you're looking for FF BDSM erotica, this is it, but if you want some real story, I can't say that I found that here. In the end, Story of L was worth the read, but it isn't something I would revisit.
Unmanageable is the second book in the Forbidden Cove series but can be read as a standalone. It is a bit similar to the first book, at least in terms of the romance or lack thereof. Veronica and Brian do seem to do a lot of talking, and there is certainly chemistry, but chemistry and sexual attraction don't necessarily equal love and romance. These two just didn't seem very compatible to me. Veronica is a hard character to like, and I'm not really sure that I ever really got there with her. She comes across as self-centered, selfish, and judgmental, and just when I would start to think there was more to her, she'd do or say something else that just frustrated me to no end. She had reason for some issues, but instead of making her more relatable, she acted like the whole world revolved around her. On the flip side, Brian is just a genuinely likable guy. He's warm and friendly, and an all-around good guy. He does have a secret, but the big reveal of that secret was a bit blown out of proportion in my opinion. It really had nothing to do with Veronica or the relationship, and it felt like her response was just angst for the sake of angst. In the end, this one was just okay for me. I really wanted more depth in the relationship, and maybe a more likable main character.
Remember all those great meet-cutes from the movies? Well, we get to see them all again in Would Like to Meet, only those scenarios don't work out quite the same way for our main character, Evie, as they did on the big screen. Some are hilarious and some are downright cringe-worthy, but the one thing Evie's meet-cutes have in common is they all come together for an over-the-top bit of escapism. This story is not at all realistic, and it's packed with almost every cliché you can name in chick lit and romantic comedy. It's also quite predictable, and all of those things combined would usually be something I would scoff at, but in this story and with these characters, it all just worked. The story is fast-paced and just plain fun. The only drawback in this one is the lack of romance. It's not hard to figure out who Evie will end up with, and there are some hints at romance here and there, but I really wanted more on that front. The characters are what really made this book for me. Clichéd or not, the characters each have their own distinctive personalities. They aren't just window dressing. And my favorite would have to be young Annette, who stole the show every single time she appeared on the page. So, over-the-top? Absolutely. Clichéd? Yep. Predictable? You betcha. Nevertheless, Rachel Winters' debut novel kept me turning pages and laughing out loud from start to finish. This wonderfully witty tale is perfect for curling up and forgetting the real world for a while, and I'll be interested to see what this author does next.
A Cowboy Like You pretty much falls in line with the rest of the Heart of Texas series in terms of my feelings about the book. The story has some things I like and some I don't, landing me somewhere in the middle. The suspense is pretty good, and domestic violence is a serious topic when the main focus is supposed to be a romance. And that's where I started running into problems with this one. Not the domestic violence topic, I'm all for shedding light on a subject that was only whispered about for way too long. However, the romance in this one came up sorely lacking for me. I get that Skylar and Danny already knew each other, but it's not like they saw each other every day either. There should have been some getting to know each other time before they were madly in love. And speaking from experience, Skylar should not have been so willing to trust, especially while everything was still going on. The love story here just didn't ring true. The ending felt a bit rushed also, but when you consider the romance, it fits. In the end, this one was just okay for me.
Weekend Fling is a terrific mix of sweet, funny, angsty, and well, it's just plain good! Trey and Willow are so good together that it's impossible not to root for them. Willow has more than her fair share of problems to deal with, and Trey is one of those good guys who is genuinely just that, a good guy. He's also got just the right amount of stubborn to keep going after what he wants. The story does have its emotional moments and not just with the romance. It touches on a hard topic for many to discuss, and the author handled it very well while still keeping this couple and their love story at the forefront. This newest addition to Stacey Lynn's A Crazy Love series does stand on its own while still giving readers a chance to catch up with some past favorites. That said, this couple is my favorite in the series. The story is well-written, the romance is sexy and sweet, and the characters are engaging and thoroughly lovable.
One of my biggest pet peeves with books is when the blurb is misleading. I get that it should catch the attention of would-be readers, but if you tell me it's a specific thing, I darn well expect it to be that thing. The Dead Girls Club is not a supernatural thriller. Supernatural adjacent, maybe, but other than the made-up stories of one troubled little girl and another letting it get in her head, there was nothing supernatural here. Honestly, I didn't find anything remotely thriller-like either. Here's where I put in that none of that would've been a deal-breaker for me. I still could've enjoyed a good drama with some tragedy thrown in. What I got was a lengthy, wordy story that took way too long to get through. To be brutally honest, I was bored through about 75% of this one, and it was only sheer determination that made me push through to the end. I did like some of the "Then" chapters until they became repetitive with pre-teen drama and angst, but today's Heather got on my last nerve. I finally got to Becca's death, and yes, Becca had a tragic life, but when it came right down to it, I only had one thought about the night this girl died - they were young, yes, but they were old enough to know better. There are a couple of decent twists toward the end that could've been great had the book been better executed, but they were just too little, too late for me. Then an ending that was less than satisfying, to say the least, was just adding insult to injury.
This is my first read by Lori Foster, and I've gotta admit that about halfway through, I was still waiting for some romance, something other than sultry eyes and lingering looks. Seriously, we're talking somewhere around 200 pages into an almost 400-page read, and I'm still waiting for the romance to get going. However, that little annoyance was just that, a little annoyance. Because somewhere in there, while I waiting, I realized that I really liked these characters, and I wanted to know more about them. The whole Crews family is relatable and absolutely lovable. Even Elliott, who is most certainly a jerk when it comes to relationships and responsibility. Yet, somehow I still found myself rooting for him. We do finally get some romance, and yes, I felt like there could've been a better buildup, but I liked both characters enough by that point that I wanted them to be happy. The author also gives us a bit of danger, and our baddies are a bit over the top in their badness, but they did add some tension. In the end, this one was more of a family drama than romance, but I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know this family.
This newest addition to the Wynn Hockey series brings us Everly and Wyatt, the good girl and the good-time guy. Except things aren't always as they seem, and there's more to both of them than what people see on the surface. This one is a bit more serious than what we've seen in the series, but Kelly Jamieson's wit is still present, especially in the banter between Wyatt and Everly. Both characters are likable and relatable, and their chemistry comes through even when they're butting heads. Win Big also focuses more on the Wynn family dynamic than the gameplay, so if you've followed the series, you get to catch up with past favorites in addition to falling in love with this couple. As this is part of a series, it should be noted that this book can stand on its own. There is a continuing story of upheaval within the family, but it isn't hard to figure it all out with the information the author gives us. There's also a handy little who's who in the front of the book to help keep the family members straight. As for this one, the story is engaging, the characters are well-drawn and likable, and it's a good mix of serious and not so serious. All in all, a solid addition to the series.
Anything for You was much better in the abstract than it was in reality. It had the potential to be a gritty thriller, but the writing is too detached to become invested in the story. It didn't help that I didn't like a single character in this story. Not one. For the most part, I found the story to be obnoxious, vulgar, and explicit. Now, let me say that I am not easily offended, but I didn't find any of those things to be necessary for this to be a good story. Honestly, I felt like the shock value they add ended up being detrimental. The thing with being explicit in a story like this is that most people don't need it. With the right words, an author can give just enough for the reader to imagine the gory details. And I'm here to tell you that I can always imagine it much worse than most can write it. Maybe it's just me, maybe not, but the only thing I got from reading this one was a few hours that I can't get back. It's predictable, unengaging, and well, just not good in my opinion.
I realize that I'm in the minority on this one, but The Family Upstairs just didn't do it for me. It's told from three perspectives, which wouldn't be a problem except that one of those perspectives is written in first person while the other two are in third. I understand the reasoning behind it, but that doesn't change the fact that it was a distraction for me. There are a fair amount of characters to keep up with, but they are distinctive enough to keep them sorted in my mind. The problem is that the story gets bogged down in unnecessary mundane details. I can appreciate well-drawn characters and painting a picture to show where they're coming from so the reader can get to know them, but this goes a little too far with that - so far that the three characters the story focuses on start to drift away from the plot at times. This one still could've been an okay story for me, but the more I read, the more I felt like it just didn't live up to its potential. This book had the potential to be an excellent dark and gritty story, but it's stretched to the point of being convoluted, and that was just disappointing.