Her Best Friend’s Dad – Penny Wylder

her best friends dad

152p.

4****

Lia is best friends with Tasha, daughter of Beck, her longtime crush. Its not clear how much older he is than Lia, but I would guess by about 22-25 years. Nothing happens until Lia is 22, but she isn’t shy about admitting wanting Beck for a long time, and Beck hints at some attraction to Lia before she left for art school.
The romance was pretty sudden, considering Beck has known Lia since she was a kid. I expected him to be more wary of a relationship than her, but it was the other way around. Lia didn’t want to hurt her best friend, understandably. It surprised me that Beck didn’t have that hang up or fear that people may question if he’d ever done or thought of doing something with Lia at an inappropriate age. There was one instance when Beck is reminiscing about Lia teasing him as a teenager in a bikini while he was still married to his wife. From my calculations, that means Lia couldn’t have been any older than 13, which was creepy to me.

Jean was a bit too Disney villainess for me, and when she blackmailed Lia, I just kept wondering “why not just tell Beck that his daughter has a secret that she can’t divulge, and that Jean was threatening their relationship with that knowledge?”. Beck was a sucker for Lia, I’m sure he wouldn have respected her promise to her best friend. It just seemed like a weak conflict that could’ve been easily resolved.

True to Penny Wylder, the love between Beck and Lia was intense and romantic, and Beck was the perfect amount of alpha. And the sex scenes were wonderfully done, as usual.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Hard Rules – Lisa Renee Jones

hard rules

304p.

3***

The writing style was good, but the organization and layout left me a little confused. Let me explain:
The beginning was pretty solid. The prologue is from the POV of Teresa, sister to a big-time cartel boss, who seems to be scared and sick of the lifestyle. It ends with her jumping into a car and making out with “him”. Pretty vague, but it was intriguing.
First chapter jumps to Shane, an attorney that moved to Denver to help his family’s business out of some dire situation. We aren’t told anything about what that was, other than Derek, Shane’s brother, kind of caused it, and Shane saved the day. Soon enough, Shane meets Emily, a sexy brunette that gets his motor running. POV switches back and forth between Seth and Emily, which is fine with me, I like both perspectives.
What bothered me, though, was that Emily kept silently referring to some big secret she was hiding, even going as far as to hint that Emily may not be her real name. *Possible Spoilers* So, naturally, I kept reading with the impression that she was, in fact, Teresa from the prologue, and that she had actually run away from her previous life. It isn’t until at least a third of the way through the book that it’s revealed that Teresa isn’t Emily, she’s an actual woman involved with Shane’s brother, Derek.
Well, I just wasted over 100 pages thinking I knew who this character was, only to find out I’d been misled, and I don’t even think it was intentional for the author. The prologue set up a cartel/mob style theme, but otherwise, it didn’t seem necessary or even beneficial to the plot.

The chemistry between Shane and Emily is a little forced at first, but it quickly grew on me. I appreciate strong characters, and they both were… at least at first.
I had a hard time getting past Emily’s inconsistent personality and the circling, ever-changing-only-to-change-back decisions that both Shane and Emily were guilty of.
Early on, Emily thinks it’s better to push Shane away in order to keep him safe (from what, I still don’t know), so after a particularly jerk-ish moment on his part, she takes advantage and tells him she doesn’t accept his apology. I was thrilled, THRILLED, when she stood up for herself (even though she had her other reasons) and gave him what he deserved. My excitement wasn’t long-lived, however, because the more disagreements Shane and Emily kept having, the meeker and more of a push-over she became. There were times she practically dropped her panties for him when she should’ve stood her ground.
Despite being over 300 pages, and plenty of perceived obstacles, the plot kept revolving, rather than moving forward. And despite having finished the book, I still don’t have a clue what Emily’s big secret is. I would’ve given the book more stars if there was at least some resolution or another revelation. Still, thanks to how well-written it is and a big cliffhanger, I will probably read the next, and hopefully, final book in Shane and Emily’s story.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Your Daddy – B.B. Hamel

your daddy

About 130p.

3***

It’s tagged as a dark romance, but I don’t quite agree with that. It’s a romance with some violence on the side. More like a suspenseful romance, in my opinion.

There’s a lot of things that happen in a very short timeframe, which makes it difficult to be believable. Carson picks Kailey off the street one evening and their relationship gets very heavy within 48 hours. It’s textbook instalove/instalust, going from 0 to 60 in a matter of a few pages. And I’m normally ok with that, but these characters were very complex with a lot of drama in their lives. I don’t think it would’ve been a problem if the book were longer, thus giving the characters more time to get to know one another, and to give the reader a little more info to satisfy their curiosity. I wanted Kailey’s relationship with her dad better explained. I didn’t really understand Elliot’s intense loathing for Carson, either. I realize some siblings have severe rivalries and may even hate one another, but Elliot was frickin’ nuts. Something was seriously wrong with him/the situation, but nothing was ever revealed. And the ending felt rushed and was unsatisfying.
The story was enjoyable, and the plot has a lot of promise, I just think it was too much to explain in so few pages.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

His Chance – Sheila Kell

his chance

237p.

3.5***

This is the only story I’ve read so far from the HIS series, so I was lost at a few points. The primary plot and conflicts can be read as a standalone, but there’s plenty of info and descriptions that I completely missed having not read the other books. I don’t fault the author for this at all, it’s just something some readers may want to know about.
The characters were the best part of the story. I appreciate a strong woman and confidant, yet sweet man, and Rylee and Devon fit that bill.
The plot was a little far-stretched and vague at times. *Spoiler* I really wanted to know why Rylee was such a hot commodity for the man that wanted to purchase her. She didn’t appear to know who he was, and it seemed like he was meeting her for the first time, so I was a little confused and disappointed when it was just some random pervert.
There’s a good deal of repetition that could’ve been left out. It felt like every other paragraph was about how Rylee couldn’t trust Declan and how Declan would’nt give up on her despite not knowing what happened at the hotel.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Takeover – Lana Grayson

takeover

1658p. (Seriously. It’s a complete series consisting of three full-length novels.)

3***

Good books that could’ve been amazing.

You need to be ok with dark romance and accepting of some really unique and almost unbelievable circumstances in order to enjoy Takeover. Sarah is the unofficial heir to the Atwood family fortune. Her father recently died from cancer and her two older brothers shortly after that in a plane crash. Apparently, her father never considered the possibility that his sons would die so young, so his will stipulates that all power and finances go to a male heir. Before the death of her brothers, her mother married Darius Bennett, the head of the Bennett family and the Atwood family’s longtime nemesis. Said nemesis has a sick and sinister plan to make his sons kidnap and “breed” Sarah to produce a male heir that is half Atwood, half Bennett.

The whole series is loooongggg, which is ok, but I don’t think it was necessary for three books when it could’ve been told in less. Much of the internal monologue was repetitive, like it was trying to fill up space rather than introduce us to new ideas or situations. Darius’ threats were repeated, again and again, practically the same threat/words each time, yet Sarah kept reacting like it was new to her. I understand the desire for Sarah’s character to want revenge or vengeance on the Bennett family, I understood it the first time, and the second, and the twentieth. Some scenes could be completely removed from the book and it wouldn’t matter; I felt like they were throw-always. The books were good and I enjoyed them, but with a little reduction and better editing, they could be amazing.

The story is emotional and those emotions translate very well in reality.  I felt myself tear up a few times, especially in regards to Max. Out of all of the repetitiveness of the books, I wish the ending would’ve been longer and more thorough. After the main conflict, it jumps to a short and honestly, strange perspective by Reed, and then to the epilogue. I was really curious to see how things would work out, how Sarah and Nick would cope and move on, but that wasn’t given and I felt cheated.

There are numerous scenes of dubious consent, rape, physical abuse and violence against women, so if any of those are triggers, these may not be the books for you. There are also several scenes of ménage and they are quite descriptive. If that’s all cool with you like it is for me, you’ll enjoy Takeover.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Never Look Back – Gabi Moore

never look back

232p.

3.5***

Sophia and Leo have been together for over a year. They’re put into a dangerous situation that exposes who they really are, and it’s like they’re meeting for the first time. They are my favorite Gabi Moore characters to date. I like that they are already a couple at the beginning of the story, but that you still get to experience them as if it’s a new relationship. Since they both have dark pasts that they’re ashamed of, they never allowed themselves to be completely honest and vulnerable with each other.
I thought Sophia’s addiction was unique and risky, and I loved it. Not many romance heroines are given such naughty personalities, so it was refreshing. I adored Leo and how sweet yet domineering he could be. It was the best of two worlds. My only issue with the story was an inconsistency towards the end, where one character (don’t want to give away too much) is said to have died, but in the epilogue states that the person later died in jail. It wasn’t a huge deal, but it pulled me out and confused me for a minute or two. Otherwise, it was solid.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Lumberjacked – Alexandria Hunt

lumberjacked

328p.

3***

Aaron is a lumberjack from Alaska in need of $100,000 to save his family’s timbermill. Reagan is a reality tv show producer with an offer to solve Aaron’s problem: live in a house with 10 beautiful women and at the end, choose one to marry (a la the Bachelor). Problem is, Aaron and Regan have the hots for each other and can’t seem to decide what’s more important: the show and money, or seeing if they can have a real relationship.

Their chemistry is strong, yet realistic. It’s a while before they do anything, even kiss, so the instalust is there, it just doesn’t get acted upon. Aaron and Reagan could both be immature at times, but I still liked them both a lot. Some of the dialogue was a little too schmultzy for me. I had to speed-read through some of their declarations of love to each other because it felt too cheesy and fake. On the other hand, there was sufficient dirty talk to even it out, so I guess you can call it “balanced”.

There were a few issues with consistency that bothered me. First, at 2%, Reagan refers to herself as 24 y/o, then just at 3%, she talks about her Mercedes that her dad got her for her 25th birthday. Not a huge deal, but things like that are very distracting to me, so it pulled me out of the story for a while. Also, Reagan is only allowed to offer Aaron $50,000 for the show, but she offers him $100,000, then mentions to her co-worker that she’ll figure it out eventually. I was waiting and waiting for some sort of problem to arise reguarding that, but it never happened, but we also never saw it resolved. I expected them to finish filming and have Aaron realize he was only going to get half the money, causing a huge rift between them, but instead, it just kinda fell away from the plot. Overall, it was a quick, entertaining read.

I received an ARC for an honest review.