Monday, July 30, 2018

BLOG TOUR: Four Day Fling by Emma Hart



Imagine this.
You’re ready to leave after a one-night stand, and you’re figuring out how to—shock horror—leave your number and ask him to be your fake boyfriend for your sister’s wedding this weekend.
When he wakes up.
Well, that happened to me. And over coffee and omelets, I found myself a date.
Which was how I ended up arriving at the wedding with a guy I knew nothing about.
I didn’t know his last name, or how we met, or how long we’d been dating. I didn’t know where he grew up, what he’d majored in in college, or how many siblings he had.
I sure as hell didn’t know he was Adam Winters, hotshot hockey player, and not only my father’s favorite player, but my little nephew’s freakin’ idol.
Which means I’m in trouble. Big, big trouble.
My mother is suspicious, my sister is bridezilla on crack, and my grandpa will tell anyone who’ll listen about his time in Amsterdam’s Red Light District.
Four days.
I have to keep this up for four days, and then Adam and I can return to our regular lives, where we don’t have sex whenever we’re alone, and my family aren’t interrogating him over his intentions with me.
At least, that’s the plan.
And we all know what happens to those.


~Book Review~

No Rating/A 'Just-Not-Feeling-It' DNF

Poppy and Adam had a ONS after meeting in a bar. She needs date for her sister’s big wedding. He agrees. She doesn’t know he’s a pro athlete.

Full disclosure, there’s an author’s note at the beginning reaffirming it’s an unedited, unproofed ARC. Nothing uncommon there.  But then it proceeds to request that reviewers skip over any mistakes (specified as “typos, incorrect words, misuse of words, and facts”). I generally don’t dwell on minor, infrequent, and inconsequential grammatical mistakes that a final proof will likely fix but “facts!!!” WTF? I had to wonder if that was another wording mistake.

I did quite a few double takes or rereads of paragraphs. In the first chapter alone, there were more unproofed sentences than there should be. My genuine advice to any author (and this comes from my years working in the publishing industry as well as studying composition and literature in college)—first impressions are important, and that first chapter can set the whole tone. Re-reading sentences and playing ‘what’s the missing word’ guessing games is distracting. And if I’m being honest about my reading experience, which is what every reviewer should do, then it’s only fair to mention how and why it kept me from engagement with the actual story. Aside from correcting grammatical mistakes in my head, I also kept trailing off pondering questions germane to the plot as I continued on past the first chapter.

Like why didn’t Adam clue her in? He seemed like a decent, laid back guy, and I got that he found it refreshing that Poppy didn’t recognize him nor was she attracted to him because of his celebrity status. But after he agreed to be her fake boyfriend for a long weekend family wedding, it made no sense that he didn’t inform her of his identity. Heck, they exchanged phone numbers but not last names?

Also, if Rosie and Mark have been high school sweethearts and have a 6 year old son together, why would Rosie say she didn’t feel bad leaving Mark with her parents at a pre-wedding event so he could get a “warm up” in what they were like? This dude has clearly known the family for years if he sired their elementary age grandkid, married yet or not.

And perhaps most importantly, why did all these adults let a woman old enough to be a grandmother dictate so much drama??? It’s contrived, perhaps, in many cases. For example, Poppy narrates that her sister is her mom’s favorite, and when Adam’s identity is revealed she fears her mother will accuse her of trying to upstage her sister’s wedding. But Poppy and Rosie appear to get along, Rosie being just as annoyed with her mother as Poppy. So why didn’t someone just tell the women to shove it? Or better yet, not invite her to the wedding!

And maybe they do give her the boot. (God I hope they do.) But it was 22% and I still wasn’t making a significant connection with the characters or feeling any substantial chemistry between the hero and heroine.  I was also pretty meh on the whole ‘awkward’ theme. I don’t care for heroines who have been dumped on, have a history of embarrassments, or simply can’t stand up for themselves. It’s not endearing, and it feeds a culture of depicting women as the lesser sex—less confident, less capable… hell even unable to hold a conversation with a naked man she already had sex with or to choose a career based on her own interests rather than as a way to avoid or spite her mother.
On the plus side, the safety factor on this one seemed fine from the parts I read, and I think it had potential. It appears to be a light-hearted, upbeat romance, which I typically enjoy. This one just didn’t work for me. I finally decided to throw in the towel when I was losing interest and the story reminded me that I have an awesome family (hubs & kids) who deserve my attention more. 

Amazon US    Amazon Universal     iBooks     Nook     Kobo     


“Ready?” Adam strolled out of the bedroom, playing with the button on his shorts.

“For lunch with my mother?” I turned and stared at him, expressionless. “I’m thrilled.”

He laughed and adjusted the short sleeve of his white shirt. “It’s what—an hour? Then she’ll be back snapping at your sister’s ankles. Surely you can give Rosie a break for sixty whole minutes.”

“Oh no. I’ve done that guilt trip my entire life. I’m not getting it from my fake boyfriend, too.” I waggled my finger at him before turning back to the mirror to finish my make-up. “And yes, I can give her a break, but it doesn’t mean I need to be happy about it.”

“Do you ever get along?”

“Yes. When I’m in Orlando and she’s in Key West.”

“I mean when you’re together.”

“In the same room together, or having a conversation together?”

“Now you’re just being awkward, Red.”

I brushed a final stroke of mascara over each of my eyes, then stopped, wand in hand, and met his eyes in the reflection of the mirror. “Given how you ended up here, I would have thought you knew that awkward was my default mode.”

“That was cute-awkward. This is attitude-awkward.”

“How do you know there’s a difference?”

He pointed at himself. “Four sisters. I grew up with attitude-awkward. I could recognize it blindfolded with hands cuffed behind my back from two hundred miles away.”

“Wow. Someone’s cocky.”

“I thought we established that the night we met.”

My cheeks flushed. Damn it. Why did I have to blush like an idiot? Oh, that’s right. I was a redhead and so pale I was a distant relative of Casper the Friendly Ghost, which meant you could see my blushing a mile off.

“You’re adorable when you blush.” Adam grinned.

“Thank God,” I drawled. “That was my life goal. Be adorable. Now, I can get it in neon lights over my bed.”

Emma Hart is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over thirty novels and has been translated into several different languages. She is a mother, wife, lover of wine, Pink Goddess, and valiant rescuer of wild baby hedgehogs. Emma prides herself on her realistic, snarky smut, with comebacks that would make a PMS-ing teenage girl proud. Yes, really. She's that sarcastic.

Monday, July 9, 2018

RELEASE/REVIEW: The Billionaire's Wake-Up-Call Girl by Annika Martin

Genre: Romantic Comedy


When my manager assigns me the task of finding a new wake up call service for our CEO, I think, how hard can this be?

Answer: practically impossible. It turns out that no wake-up call company in the world will take him on as a client. They’ve all had enough of his surly personality.

So in an effort not to lose my job, I secretly start making the calls myself, every day at 4:30 am sharp. OMG yes you read that right—four freaking thirty in the morning.

Confession: I’m not the nicest wake-up-call girl at that hour. Hello! Who wakes up before the roosters are even crowing? Luckily he doesn’t seem to mind my get-your-ass-out-of-bed attitude.

Day by day we’re becoming closer, and the calls start turning hot, like pay-by-the-minute hot and oh-so-wild. Snuggled under the covers with the moonlight streaming in the windows, we divulge our secrets to each other, but the one thing that he can never find out is that the sexy vixen who wakes him up every morning is just the lowly assistant who wears frumpy dresses. I can only imagine his disappointment.

Now he wants to take me out on a date and he’s scouring Manhattan to find me. He’s an overachieving billionaire bent on a mission. How much longer can I keep up this charade?

TBWUCG_ebook_amazon_kobo_ibooks (1)
~Book Review~
4.25 Stars

Elizabeth “Lizzie” Cooper, 27, only has to stick out her new job for 30 days to earn the sign-on bonus she desperately needs.  Then she can escape the strange world of Vossameer Inc. and its elusive Oz like owner.
“Everyone here is obsessed with Mr. Drummond. They seem to regard him the way the ancient regarded gods that controlled the weather and plagues.”
Theo Drummond is preoccupied with cracking the chemical solution to another life-saving medical invention. That is till he’s preoccupied with his new wake-up caller.
“‘Wake up, motherfucker’”
Lizzie has spirit, and she’s determined to be self sufficient. After being screwed over in her last relationship, she’s weary of making the same mistake. That doesn’t stop her though from taking some wild risks that fuel the comedic element in this romcom.
“I had phone sex with my boss at 4:30 in the morning and now I’m in a prairie dress impersonating a wake-up-call service.”
Theo rocks the aloof and surly CEO image in the opening chapters from Lizzie’s POV, but once the story reaches his perspective it’s clear he has integrity and determination. Their opposites attract romance has just the right amount of heart and depth.
“In chemistry, just the smallest adjustment—the addition of one atom—can be the difference between inertness and an explosion. We have that something. We really are combustible.”
Oh and there’s their sexual chemistry too!
“It’s just by the sheer backward recitations of the periodic table that I’m not losing it like a schoolboy at first fuck. But I’m not making it longer just for myself. I love concentrating on her pleasure. I could do it forever.”

Told via Lizzie and Theo’s first person POVs, the narrative is witty and entertaining, and the premise as it played out gave me quite a few out-loud chuckles. Lizzie’s descriptions of the company and employees in the opening chapters were colorful and engaging.  I did, however, pause at several points and consider contracting the Dragusha brothers to handle Sasha. ;-)

But for the most part the story only left me craving one thing…. I’ll be in the kitchen baking before I start my next book. 

Lizzie hasn’t even met Mr. Drummond yet, but she can already tell you all about him:

I’ve never met the notorious Mr. Drummond, but evidence of his assholery is all around. 

The employees here are fearful, as though they’re expecting to be fired at any moment, or maybe beheaded. The environment is sleek gray marble and steel, like an elegant and slightly futuristic prison. No outside decorations are allowed, not even in the deepest recesses of your cubicle.

Even the outside of the building is unforgiving—a mod gray concrete bunker with rectangular windows arranged in straight rows. A study in harsh geometry.

Mr. Drummond doesn’t like decorations, my manager Sasha told me once. Vossameer is about lifesaving solutions, not party streamers.

I’d brought a giant tub of home-baked frosted cookies to share my second day, and people nearly fell out of their chairs. It turns out we can’t bring treats to share. Ever.

This is a workplace, not a potluck, Sasha said.

I’ve gotten good at sensing the jerky DNA of Mr. Drummond’s statements, and I’m pretty sure that was one of them. Same with the party streamers comment. It’s something about the sheer jerkiness of it, and also, how Sasha changes her voice to sound breathless and intense.

Everyone here is obsessed with Mr. Drummond. They seem to regard him the way the ancients regarded the gods that controlled the weather and plagues. Angry and vengeful, yet glorious. Never to be spoken ill of.

Also, nobody talks about Mr. Drummond without using the word “amazing” at least once. Maybe that’s in the employee manual somewhere.

Sasha’s obsession goes way further—more into awestruck love territory.

She speaks his name like she’s whispering hallowed secrets to the Greek oracles atop Mount Olympus—Mr. Drummond this, Mr. Drummond that. Amazing Mr. Drummond.

“Mr. Drummond is not the most sociable person in the world,” Sasha breathlessly informed me the day I started. “He has extremely high standards—for himself and for his employees—but his amazing breakthroughs save lives every day. The work we do to support him makes that possible.” And then she’d looked me deeply in the eyes and said, This is the most important job you’ll ever have.

I’d just nodded while making a mental note to stay away from any brightly colored liquid.

Annika Martin loves fun, dirty stories, hot heroes, and wild, dramatic everything. She enjoys hanging out in Minneapolis coffee shops with her writer husband, and also likes birdwatching at her bird feeder alongside her two stunningly photogenic cats, especially when she should be writing. She’s heavy into running, music, saving the planet, taking long baths, and consuming chocolate suckers. She’s worked a surprisingly large number of waitressing jobs, and has also worked in a plastics factory and the advertising trenches; her garden is total bee-friendly madness and her most unfavorite word is nosh or possibly fob. A NYT bestselling author, she has also written as RITA award-winning author Carolyn Crane.

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Sunday, July 8, 2018

BOOK REVIEW: Without Regret by Aubrey Bondurant

4 Stars

Emma Brown likes bad boys, but Trevor Newhall, 28, is a nice guy.  Technically, he’s a suit guy, which Emma has sworn off. But he’s hard to resist.

I liked Emma in WithoutApology, and I think she started off strong here.
“‘Because I guarantee being the one who got away feels a hell of a lot better than being the girl who gives him a second chance.’”
This is awesome advice that she gave out, and more women should probably take it to heart. There are too many tales of heroines taking back cheaters, users, and abusers and worse yet, romanticizing it. So when a heroine speaks these wise words, well…Amen!

I only wish Emma could have applied more wisdom to her own emotional baggage as the story progressed. At certain points, Emma’s no commitment, keep-a-distance stance grew a little tired.

Trevor really was a good guy and great catch.  He had a ton of patience, and turned out to be a true sweetie.  I would have only haggled with him over one statement, and that’s mainly because I hate to see the importance of higher education sold short.
“‘All a degree means is that you had the financial means and put forth the effort to get it.’”
But honestly, I think he was just trying to make Emma feel better because he was a caring and understanding guy like that.

These two didn’t lack for sexy times together.
“‘Too bad you already covered up; I bet you would’ve looked good between my red lips.’”
Though there was a point where their relationship seemed stalled in sex mode due to Emma's hang-ups.   

In comparison to the first book, this one seemed to lack some of the business side plot intrigue that I enjoyed with that one.  Told via Emma and Trevor’s dual first person POV, it can be read as a standalone, although I highly recommend the first book too. Peyton and Simon (Emma’s boss) make appearances in this one. I enjoyed Simon’s role here, reaffirming what an awesome guy he is as well. Hope to see Mason get a story at some point. 

~Also in the Series~  
“It was amazing how much more quickly a twenty-five hour ride went when you spent most of it having sex….I was sure Simon had been inside me in every single state we’d driven through.”