Billionaire’s Bond – Maura Rose

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Billionaire’s Bond
199 pages

2  ⭐⭐

Heather’s family just got notice that a billionaire plans to evict them from their trailer park and build a country club in its place. Despite no longer actually living in the trailer park herself, she takes charge of the situation and confronts the billionaire, Dan. What starts as a hate-hate relationship quickly evolves into something more when they both realize there’s more to each other than meets the eye.

The book was slow and had little character development. The conflict of the story isn’t really substantial, and the climax is more like going over a speed bump than a cliff.

It was sort of insta-love, but their romance is pretty… average. It was a little too ho-hum and lacked passion for my taste. It probably didn’t help that it felt like the author was simply retelling me the story of this book she read. There was too much referring to events (IE their first two dates were re-imagined rather than actually witnessed)rather than experience it for myself. It wasn’t immersive.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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Christmas Daddies – Jade West

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Christmas Daddies
>1200 pages between three full-length novels and a novella

5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Christmas Daddies (the novella): 5/5
Sugar Daddies: 5/5
Call Me Daddy: 3.5/5
Dirty Daddies: 2.5/5 (The h never grew on me)

This review is just for Christmas Daddies, the novella, since I reviewed two of the other books separately forever ago.

Jenny’s set to spend her first Christmas alone, thousands miles away from her mother/only family. So when her boss of two months, Jackson Hart, finds out that she is going to be spending the holidays alone in a dinky apartment, he’s inspired to give her a Christmas she deserves. And it doesn’t hurt that he just discovered her treasure trove of dirty stories on her work laptop – all which feature him as her lover.

This story is on the sweeter side of West’s repertoire, but it’s still really, very dirty. So if you’re in the mood for a holiday romance with plenty of naughty scenes and a dash of “aww”, this is a go-to.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Ruin Me – Bella Love-Wins

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Ruin Me
304 pages

5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

**First Book of a three book series, but can be read as a standalone.**

Angel is visiting Vegas for one last hurrah with her best friend before moving to Mexico for two years to teach inner-city kids English. Mac has always been a loner, even to the point where most women don’t interest him. But when he sees Angel, that all changes. And what was supposed to be a one-night stand turns out to be so much more.

I loved Angel and Mac. Angel was perfect, but I still found her to be so down-to-earth and personable. Mac is the big, quiet, sexy hero that you want to just jump, but he has some issues that cause him to act like an ass at times. And together, woah… they can hardly keep their hands to themselves.

The plot revolves mostly around the question of Mac and Angel being so far apart, yet still wanting to be together despite barely knowing each other. Angel’s practical and honest about what she wants, but Mac’s pride really causes a problem. The more you learn about his past, though, you can’t help but cry for the poor guy. His story is devastating and unpredictable, and the guilt he weighs upon himself is suffocating.

Ruin Me is sometimes sad, a little angsty, often sweet, and always hot. Read it.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Christmas Candy – Angela Blake

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Christmas Candy
452 pages

DNF @ 35%

Hoo boy, I couldn’t finish this box set because the first book was an absolute mess and I didn’t want to waste more of my time with the others.

But here’s my review of the first story, Christmas Kisses?.
I had no clue where this book was going for the first thirty percent. Why? Well, because in my copy, Cara’s (the h) best friend is named Jack, so for a while I thought he was the love interest considering this story was originally published under the title ‘Jack Frost’. But then I find out that the ex boyfriend is ALSO named Jack. Needless to say, throughout the rest of the story, it managed to cause plenty of confusion.

Cara and Jack#2 had a bad breakup that the reader only gets bits of information about. The H/h hardly spend any time together and the H was really underdeveloped. I knew almost nothing about him except for his profession and that he has depression… I think? It’s not quite clear. Really, the story’s just a bunch of messing around between Cara and her two best friends. Their banter and interactions are cute and funny, but after I bit I started to think ‘if I wanted to just read about some people hanging out, joking around, I’d spend my time with my friends instead of reading about others’’.

Proofreading: sjack1 was used 24 times, norJack 13 times. Why? Not sure, but my guess is the author was using them as placeholders so she could go back with the actual words she wanted after thinking it over. That’s definitely something that shouldn’t be missed.

The story has potential, but thanks to poor editing and an underwhelming relationship between the H/h, it’s a pass.

Mr. Darcy’s Kiss – Krista Lakes

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Mr. Darcy’s Kiss
Full-length Novel

3 ⭐⭐⭐

Another modern day retelling of Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Darcy’s Kiss centers on Elizabeth Bennett and William Darcy, only in this version the chemistry is a little more risqué. Just as the classic, Mr. Darcy comes off as an absolute a-hole to Elizabeth and she quickly tries to write him off. But the more their paths keep the crossing, the harder it is for them to deny their feelings for each other. Until Elizabeth learns some really unfortunate information about Darcy that will put her well on the hate side of their love-hate relationship.

The story is a cute adaptation with a little bit of steam. I liked most of the characters (except for Lydia, who needed a strong wakeup call), but found some of their behaviors unrealistic and annoying. *SPOILER* When Jane gets dumped by Charles and he immediately moves on, he lost a lot of his credibility with me. So, when weeks later he shows up out of the blue to propose to Jane- without once explaining why he did what he did, how he would right his wrongs, anything- and she says yes? That’s something that would be much more acceptable in the 19th century version, because nowadays, I’d really hope the woman would stand up for herself more. I was so disappointed when she didn’t.

It’s not the best adaptation, but it is plenty entertaining. I just had a few hang-ups with how unrealistic some of the story was and how little some of the characters evolved.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Lucifer – Ava Martell

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Lucifer
224 pages

4 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Grace’s back in New Orleans after leaving seven years ago when her parents died. Despite having a degree in journalism, she’s working as a bartender at a bar in the tourist district. Leaving work late at night leads to some creepy encounters, but it becomes more than that when she discovers that not only is she being followed, but someone was actually in her home as she slept.
Lucifer is the Devil, literally. Suspecting his brother, Archangel Michael, has released demons on poor humanity, he decides to make a trip to Earth and fix the mess. But soon he’s being told of prophecies and a “her” that will change everything for him, and possibly Heaven and Hell as we know it.

Lucifer is full of biblical trivia that I’ve either long since forgotten about or simply never heard of, and it’s pretty interesting. The way that Martell weaves centuries-old stories into modern day is impressive, but it’s even more impressive how sympathetic she’s able to write the actual Devil. The romance between Grace and Lucifer is powerful and unique. Very little of their relationship is predictable, and the same is true for the entire plot.

The book is a standalone, but the ending is more open-ended than I would’ve preferred, but that’s just me. I anticipate there will be more books in the series and presume it’s possible to see Grace and Lucifer again in the future.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Dirty Beginning – Ella Miles

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Dirty Beginning
287 pages

2 ⭐⭐

Nina is an Art History graduate student spending a month abroad in Italy for her program. Whilst touring a historic mansion one day, she becomes obsessed with its owner, Arlo Carini. Convinced he wants her too, she relentlessly pursues him, refusing to give up until she gets what she wants.

This is a prequel to what I imagine will be Nina’s true ‘dark romance’ experience, so it’s not very ‘dark’, but it still managed to churn my stomach.
The writing is spotless and the plot is unique, but for personal reasons, I couldn’t connect with this book.

Nina has a serious problem, and thanks to that problem, she’s not as strong or smart as I’d like, but I appreciate that she doesn’t fit the trope of poor, little innocent girl. Her problem? She gets obsessed with men to the point where if she doesn’t sleep with them, she stops functioning normally. Too bad she wants Arlo, because he’s one of the hardest to like heroes I’ve come across. He’s beyond cruel to her and he apparently has his reasons for treating her in such a way, but I still don’t know what they are.

This is my issue with the story: In romance, I don’t like the H/h actively having sex with OM/OW and using sex to make someone jealous or to prove a point is a trigger of mine. So, *Mild SPOILER* when Arlo locks Nina in a bathroom while he has sex with multiple women, multiple times, being as loud as possible to make sure she hears, it bothers me. There are countless ways he could’ve tried to scare her away, but that was a little too humiliating for my liking. *End Spoiler* After the end of the book, I vaguely understand why he did it, but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to like him after that.

After all of Arlo’s attempts to scare Nina away, I finally got his ambiguous insight that he actually cares for Nina, but I wasn’t convinced. Not just because of how he treated her, but because she doesn’t have many likable characteristics, either.

Maybe if the story didn’t end when it did and more reasons were given for me to like the characters I’d rate this higher, because even in the darker stories I need something or someone to connect with and care about, and I didn’t find that in this story.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

A Sheikh for Christmas – Leslie North

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A Sheikh for Christmas
146 pages

3 ⭐⭐⭐

After leaving her fiancé, Heath, for another man, Melody finds herself disowned and alone with nowhere to go. As a last resort, she goes to Heath’s apartment hoping for some help, but when she arrives, Heath isn’t there, but his friend Daveed is. Finding it too hard to kick Melody out on the curb, Daveed gives in and allows her to stay with him until she gets back on her feet.

The plot is light and sweet, but it moves slowly and has little drama. Melody and Daveed weren’t perfect, cookie cutter characters, which I liked, but Melody was always left looking like a fool when it came to Daveed. Their chemistry is mild and hard to grasp. There’s plenty of insight into how they feel about each other, but little action actually shows it. So when it takes mere days for them to fall in love, I was sort of left scratching my head wondering how the heck it happened.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Big Man – Penny Wylder

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Big Man
320 pages

4.5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

After receiving a letter from her deceased mother’s attorney telling her she’s now responsible for their family estate, Sasha finds herself having to go back to the town she’s avoided for the last fifteen years. But when she arrives to find her old childhood friend, Grant, fixing up things on the property, she realizes she’s in for a bit more than she expected.

The plot is sweet and heartwarming, but still sexy with plenty of angst. Grant is impossible to dislike. Sasha is stuck-up at times, but in reality she’s very down-to-earth and pleasant. Their chemistry is off the charts, making for some very steamy intimate scenes.

This is one of my more favorite stories by Wylder. What kept me from giving it 5 full stars is due to some timeline inconsistencies that kept confusing me. IE she hasn’t been back to her hometown since she left for college fifteen years ago, but she receives the letter on her 25th birthday? It’s nothing major, but it managed to pull me out of the story a few times.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

 

Destruction – Jennifer Bene

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Destruction
306 pages

2 ⭐⭐

Lianna Mercier has lived a charmed life. Despite losing her mother at a young age, her father has always managed to spoil her and keep her happy. Now working for his company, she expects to spend more time with him. Unfortunately, she’s devastated when he breaks off vacation plans with her in order to go on a business trip. But all of that becomes insignificant when a stranger breaks in and violently kidnaps her for reasons she doesn’t understand.

Look, this is a dark romance and dark things certainly do happen. However, I don’t understand why the word ‘rape’ is not once used in the entire book. Not once despite the fact that David does indeed rape Lianna, repeatedly. I get the feeling that the author purposely ignored the word, instead choosing to use the ‘F’ word to misrepresent what David does in order to trick the reader into thinking that maybe what happens to Lianna is consensual. But it’s not, at least not for the entire duration of her captivity, and I’m pretty unhappy that the author chose to go about it the way she did.

I liked Lianna. She’s strong and fights back and after the secrets are revealed, she’s still standing. I understand that she is confused about the way she feels with David, and don’t fault her for it at all. But just because she’s willing to try to look past what happened to her, it doesn’t change the fact that David is indeed a rapist. Yes, his story is sad, but not really as traumatic as I expected, making his whole revenge plan seem even more deranged. He had no proof that Lianna was a part of her father’s doing, yet he just assumed she was guilty? A better person would’ve at least let her explain or defend her innocence before attacking. David had a few likable characteristics, but not enough for me to sympathize with him. And when he says that he regrets nothing, that he would do it all again… c’mon. That’s the hero?

I liked Bene’s Thalia Series, even though the first book was difficult for me to like… until I realized that the man in that book was actually the villain, and another man comes in later as the hero. That saved the entire series for me. But with Destruction, I’m left with a ‘hero’ that’s actually the villain.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.