Heather in FL

Hooray for new spaces! (Give me some time to figure this whole thing out.). It'll be my space for my musings about what I read. Some might call them reviews. Some may not. :-)
Goodreads, for instance, likely would not.

Forgettable, but not bad

Instructing Sarah - Anne Rainey

This was sweet, if a bit fast-moving. Sarah and Greg have lived in the same complex for a couple of years. Greg is a love-em-and-leave-em kind of guy, but he's been obsessing over Sarah. He doesn't want to make a move because he's sure she deserves better than what he thinks he can give her. But then Brent moves in and starts eyeing Sarah, so Greg feels like he needs to make a move before Brent can get close to her. And who knew she was a virgin? And who knew once wouldn't be enough for Greg?


So while this was a sweet story and Greg treated her and her virginity with respect, the whole Brent thing just bugged me. He was standing there when Greg asked Sarah out, so why the hell would he walk up to her in the restaurant where she and Greg went (though Greg was not there at the time) and try to pick her up? Hello, douche. And Greg went a little too possessive caveman once he had Sarah. It was kind of sweet, but just a bit overbearing. 


This wasn't super long, and not a whole lot happened, which is why I call it forgettable. I enjoyed it, but it's going to get lost in my mind with the rest of the stories that are very much like this.

I wouldn't call this a *dirty* trick, per se

Dirty Trick - Christine  Bell

Well, this was really cute. You knew it was going to be a problem when Trick came up with his plan, but he kinda had it right that Grace wouldn't see him in any romantic light if some chicanery wasn't involved. And I pretty much see her point based on how he was when she met him. But a boy in love's gotta do what a boy in love's gotta do, right? And considering all the bad things people can do to each other, this one doesn't really rank anywhere near the lowest of the low. Everything he did was done with good intentions. And I can understand, with Grace's history, why it was such a problem for her, but I was glad with how it all turned out. 

Sweet story, if a bit "fast"

Johnny Blue - Azure Boone

I read this for a freebie challenge. At first, I wondered if I was going to regret this, but ultimately, it was a sweet story, if a bit unrealistic. Yes, I know, it's fiction. I was mostly concerned with the editing at first. Ultimately, it wasn't horrible, but it definitely could use a good once over by someone in-the-know. A lot of you're/your mistakes, among others.


Besides the editing, the story moved quite quickly. I suppose it is on the shorter side, so it needs to, but they had this instant attraction which was kind of sweet. Jewel was damaged... something happened ten years ago that she hasn't been able to forgive herself for. She has sort of existed in a fog since then, and she has a therapist she sees.


Johnny is an artist. Jewel thinks he's just a beggar who likes to paint murals, but when she comes to warn him about a prank she's heard the local kids talking about, she's stunned when she meets him face to face. This is after she's discovered, by his living accommodations, that he's far from a beggar. He wants to paint her, and she reluctantly agrees. And sparks fly in a huge way. He has to go back to New York and asks her to accompany him. Things move really fast then. 


I'm not quite sure how Johnny could have just ignored what happened 10 years ago, but that he could was really sweet. I kinda wish we'd known Johnny's issue before we did, but considering it was Jewel's POV and she didn't even know, that would have been a little difficult. Still a sweet story.

I do love a good historical romance

Midnight Angel - Lisa Kleypas

I've read or listened to many of Ms. Kleypas' historical romances, and they always make me feel happy by the end. I think it's partially because they were so "proper" in that time and so prudish. Then, when they couldn't bear it anymore, they'd let all their passion loose. 


Tasia has escaped a death sentence in Russia for a murder she doesn't remember committing. She's run to her cousin in England, and that cousin's husband has placed her as a governess with a friend whose wife died. Lucas is a somewhat cold man, believing he'll never truly love again, though he does take advantage of mistresses for his baser male needs. But once Tasia comes into his life and challenges him as if she's not simply a servant, he can't get her out of his mind. The fact that he knows she's not who she says she is intrigues him that much more. 


I thought their budding relationship was very sweet. I almost wondered if we were going to get a taste of dominance in Victorian times, because often times Lucas acted incredibly dominant, and Tasia bloomed under his attentions. But of course, she was running from her life in Russia, and of course it caught up with her. 


All worked out, and considering all the arranged, loveless marriages of that era, it always warms my heart when a couple actually falls in love. 

I know a lot of people like this series...

Decadent - Shayla Black

... but it's just OK to me. Maybe I'd do better reading them. The narrator of this one made the girl sound so incredibly young. Granted, at the beginning, there was mention of her "little girl voice", and she didn't act like a teenager, but she sure sounded like one. Maybe if I'd read it, it would be different.


While I could understand Deke's issues with screwing a girl by himself, I kinda wanted to smack him. I mean really... man up already! You were freaking YOUNG when that happened, and you knew the girl had issues beyond what you "caused". But he was just fixated on one aspect of it and carried that guilt for a really long time. I was glad that Kimber was able to bring him out of that, but jeez it took forever! And the whole thing with Luke and why he felt like he needed to share... I didn't really see that coming. 


Again, as with the first one, parts were steamy. I've just found that I really like stories where the sex supports the relationships, and I felt like the story was sort of secondary in this one. It wasn't a bad read (listen) by any stretch... just not likely to make me want to continue the series. 

I'm sad the series is over...

Rock Chick Revolution - Kristen Ashley

... but at the same time, I'm so glad to see them all settled. I wasn't quite sure how the Ren and Ally thing would work out considering their families were on opposite ends of the law, and I found it so interesting that Ren was the one doing the chasing for the most part. I could totally understand Ally's reluctance to give in to her feelings for him. I can't imagine how devastated I would be, waking up after that first incredible night, hearing the name of someone else fall from the lips of the guy I fell hard for. And I can totally understand her not wanting to make a big deal of it. Or even wanting to mention it. Interesting, since Ally is such a straight-forward, take-no-gruff person that she would choose to smother this. 


I also loved that Ally wouldn't compromise herself for Ren. Ren wanted something very specific, and Ally didn't think she could give him what he wanted, so she let him go. It was heart wrenching, and I was so sad for them both, but I understood why she needed to do that. I was very happy when Ren got it, too, and realized what he needed to do to make things right. Damn, he always knew just the right things to say. Then again, so did Ally. They were a great pair.


I thought for sure the "girl in danger" bit that happens in every Rock Chick book would be because of Ally's job. And when it happened and it wasn't, I was surprised, and I was so afraid for the person who was there with her (don't want to spoil anything). I was very glad that everything worked out and everyone was settled settled by the end of the epilogue. Such a great group of friends. 


I was also very happy to see that we're going to follow Mace and Darius to LA. 

Meh... More of the same

Fill Her Up - Brynn Paulin

Verity was raised in Daly. She knows the score. Her first real relationship was with Sim and Patrick as a teen, but when she got pregnant, her assumption of what her life would be flashed before her eyes and she didn't like it one bit. So she bolted (after losing the baby). Ten years later, she returns to town to visit her parents before trying to find a vet job elsewhere. She thinks Patrick and Sim are still in the military and won't be there. But first day back in town, she goes to get gas at the Daly family garage and Patrick absconds with her and calls Sim home. Even though she fights her feelings, she can't resist their reunion or that there is still that spark between the three. Plus, there's this new undercurrent between Sim and Patrick that she hopes they'll explore. And they do. Along with two of their military buddies.


I dunno... this was just OK. It's likely going to be one of those forgettable f*ckfests. Because not much happened beyond the screwing. And it kinda bugged me that while she hadn't been with anyone else, she knew they'd been with other women and it was never really a thing. She thought about it, it bugged her, then she just shoved it aside. Not sure why it was mentioned unless it was going to be a thing later, but it wasn't.

Fast moving town

Plays Well With Others - Brynn Paulin

So... you're hankering for some wide open spaces after having been a city girl most of your life. And you've applied for a job on a ranch, but you have no experience with ranch life. But you're also applying for a job on a ranch in Daly, where what is considered a normal boy/girl relationship does not exist. But you don't know that. You just think your bosses are gay. They are quite affectionate with one another, so you know they're together.


So imagine your surprise when they finally explain that they really want to keep you forever and ever. After like two days?! (That may be an exaggeration, but it's not a big one if it is.) I'm thinking most women would run for the hills. Not because of the expected menage (though that could be one of your reasons), but for things happening WAY too quickly with people you barely know.


Paisley went from freaking out to giving in to not only her two bosses, but the two guys who were helping them out while two other guys were on their honeymoon with their wife. And besides her freaking out at the beginning and one of the guys losing a fight with a skittish cow and ending up in the hospital, there wasn't a lot of conflict in this one. Just a whole lot of screwing. So it was alright. Not bad. Not great. And yet, I'm moving on to the next one. Hey... I bought them, I might as well! And they're not super long, so I'm not investing a ton of my time on them.

Very short slice of life story

Lovers Moan - Savannah Chase

This was very short, so it's interesting that you start out thinking one thing, and it's a completely different (and very sweet) situation by the end. It's definitely a slice of life story, but I felt like it was pretty well done. I didn't love it, but I definitely didn't dislike it -- since it's so short, it's hard to get a real feel for any of the characters, and I'm definitely one who likes character-driven stories. But this was read for a freebie challenge, so one more required timeframe fulfilled!

You know Jack's in trouble from the beginning

Wicked Ties - Shayla Black, Lexi Maynard

I mean really, how did he expect this to go down? He likes Morgan when he first meets her, but he wants to get Brandon so bad. But he doesn't want Morgan to feel like she's been used. Um, how's that not going to happen? And how do you think she's not going to hear about the videotape you sent to her brother showing you fucking her?? Yeah, I knew that wasn't going to go over very well. 


And OMG for someone who is supposed to be so in tune with his sub, he gets her to admit her deepest fantasy and then he leaves her bound because he can't deal with it? WTF is up with that? Thank goodness Deke was there. 


I think the stalker plot was only there to provide a reason for Jack and Morgan to spend time secluded together because it wasn't super compelling. And parts of this story were hot, but parts just kinda didn't do it for me. That said, it was interesting enough for me to continue on to the next one. That, and I got the second in a one-credit-for-two-audiobooks sale. :-)

I'm almost glad it's over...

Ain't That a Mess (a Diary Among Friends) - Marcia Brevard Wynn

First off, this is the second book I've read by Ms. Gallagher that relates to horses, so I'm thinking she's a horsewoman. Either that or she does a lot of research into horses, because she really sounds like she knows her stuff. The main character of this one is a dressage trainer. Dressage. Who the heck knows about dressage except people in horse circles? I only know about dressage because my mom was involved when I was younger, lol. 


Anyway... Dani moved from her hometown in Wyoming to Seattle with her then boyfriend, Matt. Matt soon dumped her, and she's trying to get her footing in Seattle as a single girl. She can't exactly leave and go back home -- it's not cheap to move horses, and she's not selling her two, who she thinks of as her kids, just so she can go back home. During a night out with her co-worker Susan, who is trying to set her up with a friend, she meets Connor. And they hit it off big time. 


When she tells Susan they sort of hooked up, Susan sort of fills in some holes for Dani, that he had been engaged until just a few months before, and he was going to be moving at the end of the summer to go to graduate school. Since Dani is still sort of hurting from her breakup with Matt, it seems like a summer fling with Connor, who is supposedly also hurting after a breakup with his ex, would be perfect. They both know it can't last because he's moving. But neither of them could have expected how well they'd get along. The overwhelming need for each other. How much it would ultimately hurt to say goodbye. But they had to say goodbye. He had to go to school and she would not follow another man to another town. So lots of angst, this one. Ms. Gallagher does angst really well.


What I did not like about this one is that -- and this will be a shocker coming from someone who really enjoys erotic scenes -- there was too much sex. Every other scene was them attacking each other, the need was so overwhelming each and every time. Which is fine -- I'm happy for them -- but it just got old. I get it, they need each other more than their next breath. Move on with the story already. I just feel like at least two scenes (probably many more... I'm telling you, they were plentiful) could have been removed and the story would still remain intact.


That said, I enjoyed the story. I do love a bit of angst, and like I said, Ms. Gallagher does that really well. I was beginning to wonder near the end if she was going to rip my heart out, but ultimately, it just swelled a little with the happy feelings. 

Books like this make me want to visit Down Under

White-Hot Christmas - Serenity Woods

Merle is visiting her sister, Bree, in New Zealand. They are both natives of England, but Bree moved to New Zealand when she got married. Their mother has had health issues, so Merle lives with and cares for her, but Merle needed a break, so she's visiting Bree. Bree's husband has a hot, commitment-phobe cousin, Neon, short for Napoleon. Upon meeting, they have an instant attraction to each other, but Bree is an intellectual, and she meets Neon while he's surfing, and so she makes some (inaccurate) assumptions about him. Granted, he makes assumptions about her, too, but I honestly felt like her thinking he couldn't possibly be worldly or intelligent was a little bit worse than him believing her to be a stuffy British girl. 


Anyway, Merle needs to loosen up while she's on vacation. Neon is typically a playboy and available. And they have great chemistry. Seems like the perfect situation since neither will have to endure an awkward breakup. They know their relationship has an expiration date. Famous last words, right? Yup. Turns out Neon has never felt as comfortable with a woman as he does with Bree. And Bree has so much more fun -- both in and out of bed -- with Neon than she expected. And it becomes so much more than either expected it to be. But, of course, neither of them gives voice to their feelings, assumptions are made, and people end up miserable.


I liked how it ended; I felt it was an honest solution with honest feelings, and I ended up happy because they were happy. A very enjoyable story.

Ahh, hot twins. What's not to love?

Together in Cyn: 1 (Members Only) - Jennifer Kacey

Cyn has harbored secret crushes on her best friends, Jared and Chris. When they discover her diary, however, the secret is out, and the boys are totally on board. They didn't realize Cyn enjoyed the same fantasies and activities they did. And she had no idea they owned a BDSM club. But they do, and they're happy to help her fulfill every fantasy she recorded. Cyn is resistant at first because she thinks she has to choose just one, but they quickly make it clear that they're a package deal.


Near the very beginning, it was pretty darn hot. But for me it kinda started to go downhill after a while. I felt like there was a checklist of things the author wanted to include. Bondage? Check. Menage? Check. Exhibitionism? Check. Girl on girl? Check. Two boys? Check. Some of these things added to the story. Some detracted from it for me. And the stalker/sabateur underlying plot was only somewhat compelling. That said, I did enjoy the story. It just started to drag for me.

Barely kept my attention

The Darkest Hour - Maya Banks

I'm not sure what I expected with this one. No... I guess I expected more because it's Maya Banks. More romance. More sexy times. I suppose this one fell victim to the whole first-of-series-worldbuilding. Which seems kind of strange since it's not like this is fantasy. But there are a lot of brothers, so I guess we need to figure out the lay of the family to help us understand the rest of the story.


I guess I was just bored through the first 70% of it or so. I kept listening because I expected more to happen. This is a fairly popular series, after all. And it finally did pick up near the end. I still wish there had been more romance instead of all the pussyfooting Ethan and Rachel did around each other. Rachel had cause -- she could barely remember anything. And I guess Ethan did, too, but jeez... just love your wife already!


I'm not sure this first one was enough to make me want to continue with the series, though I heard #3 and #4 are pretty good. Maybe I'll come back to it. 

Rekindled love is so sweet

Son of a Preacher Man - Arianna Hart

This was a sweet homecoming/reunited love story. Nadya is part Roma. Her mother got pregnant at 16 (unmarried) and her family threw her out. Nadya's father didn't take direct responsibility for her, so she grew up the only child of a woman people simultaneously castigated and feared. If anything went wrong in the town, anything went missing, they always looked to Tala because of her "Gypsy blood". Sure, there were good people in the town, but the bad moments stood out more in Nadya's memories. Especially the last one where she and her mom were basically run out of town. But she fondly remembered J.T., the son of the preacher we find out later was fooling around with Nadya's mom. J.T. was going into the armed forces so he could get out of the small town.


So Nadya's mom has passed away, and Nadya is called back to town to deal with some estate business. Turns out it's her father's estate, not her mother's estate. She never knew who her father was and never expected anything from him. Doesn't want anything now. And while she's figuring out how to deal with that, she's also reconnecting with her best friend, Mary Ellen, and rekindling the romance with J.T. that was cut short by her and her mother's unexpected departure twelve years earlier. J.T. returned to the small town and became one of their police force. On top of all this, Nadya must deal with intimidation, the reasons for which elude Nadya.


I really enjoyed J.T. and Nadya's relationship sort of picking up right where it left off. There was chemistry galore. I also liked that her best friend was willing to overlook many years of silence. I guess it was a testament to their strong friendship. I loved that Mary Ellen was still willing to buck the establishment to be Nadya's friend and that many others had none of the prejudice that Nadya had expected to still find there. That's not to say all the assholes were gone, but it made Nadya begin to remember that it wasn't all bad when she had lived there.


What I didn't like was the intimidation and how that was resolved. It just seemed like the resolution was just too quick. We sort of knew who the perpetrator was and why, but it was just like -- there, that's it! Oh, it's over. Um, OK.

Anyway, it was a sweet story, and I did enjoy it.

Sign me up for tasting week!

Claimed: 1 - Evangeline Anderson

OK, so this was another freebie I got last year that I read for a freebie challenge. I kinda enjoyed the book. Nothing at all wrong with Baird, except maybe some of the challenges he faced could have been avoided or lessened if he'd have just talked to Olivia and explained exactly what would happen. While they had this great chemistry, it's almost like he expected that chemistry was all he needed to claim his bride. And while I wanted to smack Olivia, I could kind of sympathize with her. Whether Sophia is her twin or not, any bride who is drafted is going to have created her own life and will have family. It's not common for someone to just be perfectly willing to give that all up. And for Olivia and Sophie, they're very close! Even a month is too much time for them to just be okay with the whole thing. I mean seriously... drop what you're doing and go off with someone who you've seen in your dreams for the last six months and have NO contact with anyone or anything you know for a month? I can see her resisting it. But I still felt bad for Baird. I almost can't believe that by 85% there had still been no actual nookie. There were sexy times -- poor Baird must have had the bluest balls in the galaxy -- but no traditional sex. Can there be traditional sex with an alien? Especially one with a "mating fist"? (I'd have probably been a little frightened of that, too, lol!) Anyway, an imaginative world and a decent story. I just wish Olivia had been a little more "giving" along the way. 


Oh... the editing bugged me on this one, too. First, there were way too many "uhs" in dialogue. I get that maybe Olivia was uncomfortable about some topics, but after a while, she just started to sound dumb. Also, too many times where "too" was used, but it should have been "to". It wasn't horrible, but it was enough for me to notice and remember.