Tag: Romance

Book Review #12: Taken by Jennifer Dawson

Posted 23rd October 2017 by Wattle in Books, Reviews / 12 Comments

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review #12: Taken by Jennifer DawsonTaken by Jennifer Dawson
Series: Undone #4
Published by Jennifer Dawson Publishing on October 24th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica, Romance
Pages: 407
Format: E-Book
Source: Author
Links: Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: four-stars
Series Rating: five-stars
Heat Level: 4 Flames

Brandon Townsend III

Rich, beautiful and entitled, once upon a time he was king of the trust fund babies. He took anything and anyone he wanted, until one day, he walked away without explanation. Now, he’s an untouchable mystery, one I’m determined to crack. And I’m not talking about anything mundane like his bed. No, I want something far more valuable.

I want into his head.

*

Veronica Westwood has blown into my life creating chaos in her wake, and I don’t know quite what to do with her. Rich, beautiful and entitled, she represents everything I’ve sworn off in life, and her being unexpectedly clever doesn’t change that. Instincts warn me to stay away, and that’s just what I intend to do, no matter her attempts to wear me down. I’m good at saying no, or at least I was until I met her. I don’t understand it, but she’s like a weakness, and a man like me can’t have weakness.

I simply won’t allow it.

Taken is the fourth book in the Undone series by Jennifer Dawson. You can find my reviews for the previous novels here:

1) Crave   2) Sinful   2.5) Unraveled   3) Debauched

I think…though I could be wrong, that this is also the last book of the series 😮 *sobs*

Brandon has always intrigued me, he’s the most detached of all of our dominant men, but perhaps the most interesting. I was excited to see that we were going to get his story, and jumped at the chance to read an ARC copy when it was offered.

Taken is dual POV, both Brandon and Veronica give us insight into the story. Brandon was born into a rich family; but opted to shun his status as the #1 trust fund kid and hit out on his own. He still appears at events every so often to appease his parents, and it’s at one of these events that he runs into Veronica. Or rather, she tracks him down.

Veronica, like Brandon, wants out of her privileged life. She’s determined to venture out into the world on her own, but to do that she needs a job. And that’s where Brandon comes in. Veronica is relentless in challenging him to hire her for a management position he’s had open for almost a year. And while he puts up a fight, Brandon loses and against his better instincts caves and gives Veronica what she wants. But it turns out they want so much more from each other. Try as Brandon might, they just can’t resist and it’s explosive (in more ways than one!)

It was great seeing all the characters from previous novels again, and to have a little more continuation to their stories and where they’ve all ended up.

I think Taken was a wee bit more kinky than the other instalments, but I didn’t find it as hot? Which probably makes no sense; I think the last one, Debauched, was a bit steamier. But it might just be how my brain works.

While Brandon and Veronica aren’t my favourite couple of the series, they were sure fun to read about! There’s a bit of drama toward the end that sort of threw me off the pace a bit. I could understand Brandon’s reaction, but it also perplexed me. I wanted to reach into the pages and give him a shake; he drove me (and Veronica) crazy for a short amount of time.

Dawson’s writing is addictive as usual, and I was up until just before 2:30am to finish this novel. I could not put it down! And then I woke up thinking about it, and then I just kept thinking about it.

At some point in the near future, I’m going to give this entire series a re-read. It’s worth it!

If you like your romance on the kinky side, I cannot recommend this series enough!

Rating Report
Plot
three-half-stars
Characters
four-stars
Writing
five-stars
Pacing
four-stars
Overall: 4.1

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Book Review #10: Debauched by Jennifer Dawson

Posted 16th October 2017 by Wattle in Reviews / 10 Comments

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review #10: Debauched by Jennifer DawsonDebauched by Jennifer Dawson
Series: Undone #3
Published by Jennifer Dawson Publishing on April 26th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica, Romance
Pages: 256
Format: E-Book
Source: Author
Links: Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: five-stars
Series Rating: five-stars
Heat Level: 4.5 Flames

One night in a moment of sheer madness I confessed my secrets to him.

All my life I’ve been pretending. Pretending to be the woman I thought I should be instead of the woman I really am. I’ve been faking it and I am good. No one has ever guessed. Except him. He just looked at me and knew.

Chad Fellows is not the man I want, but he’s fast becoming the man I need.

*

One night in a moment of sheer madness I held her in my arms and let her cry.

I did the right thing, letting her walk away, no matter how much she calls to the part of me that wants to rescue her. We are nothing alike, and she’s a mess of complications in a life I’m trying to keep simple. But then I touched her and made her tremble and now I can’t turn away.

Ruby Stiles is not the woman I want, but she’s fast becoming the woman I need.

Debauched is the third book (or fourth, if you count the Unraveled novella) in the Undone series by Jennifer Dawson. My reviews for the previous books aren’t on my blog, as they were on the previous incarnation of Whimsical Nature, but you can find them here:

1) Crave   2) Sinful   2.5) Unraveled

This series is admittedly not what I would consider my tastes. It’s borderline erotica (I’m hesitant to call it erotica outright, because I’m sure there’s more full on ones out there haha), there’s BDSM elements – dominance and submission, and the plot is the romance.

And I love it. All of it!

Dawson creates such great characters in the world of these novels, and Debauched is no different. We’ve already met Ruby and Chad in Unraveled and this is a continuation of their story which delves deeper into their lives – characters from the other instalments pop up of course, and it was nice to see them all again.

Ruby has convinced herself that Chad is all wrong for her; and she most certainly doesn’t want to buy into the dom/sub scene, but her friends relationships with their partners cannot help but pique her interest. Ruby starts out uncertain, and Chad is sure he knows just want she needs, but isn’t convinced a relationship is a good idea. They’re not sure if they can make it work; or if they even want to make it work.

Chad is patient and sweet with Ruby (I think he might actually be my favourite), while she had mildly irritating moments because she had an image in her head of how she was meant to be, and just couldn’t figure out that wasn’t her at all. They are actually kind of adorable together, and the wilder side of their relationship is just…it’s hot, I’m not sure how else to put it, keep a cool drink on hand 😆

Debauched is told in first person with dual points of view, and it works really well (as it has in the previous books). It feels like you get the whole picture and get to know both characters. I don’t think it would be as effective if it was told any other way.

The writing is excellent and there is something addictive about it for me. Each time I’ve read one of these books I’ve had an awful lot of trouble putting it down to go and do things I need to; and I often stay up late reading them.

I’m actually thinking about re-reading them all, and I hardly ever do that!

I definitely recommend this series if you’re a fan of steamy romance with a bit of kink.

Rating Report
Plot
four-half-stars
Characters
four-half-stars
Writing
five-stars
Pacing
five-stars
Overall: 4.8

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Book Review #9: Here Comes The Witch by Ani Gonzalez

Posted 11th October 2017 by Wattle in Books, Reviews / 12 Comments

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review #9: Here Comes The Witch by Ani GonzalezHere Comes The Witch by Ani Gonzalez
Series: Main Street Witches #1
Published by FAC Publishing LLC on September 5th 2016
Genres: Cozy Mystery, Paranormal, Romance
Pages: 178
Format: E-Book
Source: Lola's Blog Tours
Links: Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: three-stars
Series Rating: three-stars
Heat Level: 0.5 Flames

Jewelry designer Kat Ramos has come to Banshee Creek to break the famous Hagen House curse and, in order to do that, she must marry Liam Hagen. A vengeful ghost with a deadly history isn’t part of the deal, and neither is love. Will Kat be able to handle both? Or will the mystery of the cursed Hagen House remain unsolved?

 

This is apparently a cozy mystery (I think?) but it didn’t really read like one, it’s more a lighthearted paranormal. Cozy paranormal? That should be a thing!

It is a spinoff of another series, Banshee Creek, which I haven’t read. I don’t think I missed out on anything though – and indeed, it made me curious about that series itself, which I will have to check out at some point.

Our main character is Kat Ramos, she’s in town for an unusual business arrangement. To marry Liam Hagen, in the hopes of breaking a long held family curse on Hagen House. Then it can be sold and everyone can move on (one of Kat’s ancestors put a curse on the place). She’s doing this to make her dreams of owning a jewellery shop become a reality, as they will split the proceeds when the property sells.

There’s some quirky characters in this. The PRoVE team (Paranormal Research of Virginia Enterprises) were a delight, as was Amy from the Chinese restaurant (I hope there’s more about her in future instalments!) I liked Kat well enough, although her and Liam both made me roll my eyes. For a couple of people who had researched this place very well, they were both pretty dumb about it. Also, it was established that the house only had a grudge against Hagens, but then it seemed like it was against both families. Perhaps I interpreted it incorrectly to begin with?

Anyway. The writing was engaging, but the pacing was a bit slow at first, but then it ramped up and was a bit too fast. Things happened and suddenly it was over! I would have liked to seen the mystery of the house drawn out a bit more. We weren’t privy to Kat’s ‘solving’ of the ghostly mystery, which was disappointing. She was also one of those characters that just gets everything right first go, there wasn’t much tension at the climax. And the romance was…okay. It was just there, I didn’t feel strongly about it either way.

All in all it was a cute, fun read; if a bit short. I am curious enough to read more though!

I read this book thanks to Lola’s Blog Tours 🙂

Rating Report
Plot
three-stars
Characters
three-half-stars
Writing
three-half-stars
Pacing
two-half-stars
Overall: 3.1

About Ani Gonzalez

I write paranormal romantic comedy and cozy mystery (whew, that's a mouthful!) set in Banshee Creek, Virginia, The Most Haunted Town in the USA. My books feature feisty funny heroines dealing with a host of paranormal critters (ghosts, cryptids, pagan gods...the sky's the limit) and mysteries. They find magic, love and laughter and readers get to follow them every step of the way.

I love quirky towns with spooky stories, and, thanks to my books, I get to "live" in one year-around. In real life I live in a Minneapolis suburb (which is sadly lacking in ghosts) with my husband and three children and I'm still trying to adjust to the cold.

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Book Review #6: Size Matters by Alison Bliss

Posted 12th February 2017 by Wattle in Books, Reviews / 12 Comments

Book Review #6: Size Matters by Alison BlissSize Matters by Alison Bliss
Series: A Perfect Fit #1
Published by Forever on November 29th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 337
Format: E-Book
Source: Owned
Links: Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: two-stars
Series Rating: two-stars
Heat Level: 2.5 Flames

The rules of (fake) engagement . . .
Leah Martin has spent her life trying to avoid temptation. But she's sick of low-fat snacks, counting calories, and her hyper-critical mom. Fortunately, her popular new bakery keeps her good and distracted. But there aren't enough éclairs in the world to distract Leah from the hotness that is Sam Cooper - or the fact that he just told her mother that they're engaged . . . which is a big, fat lie.

Sam sometime speaks before he thinks. So what started out as defending Leah's date-ability to her judgmental mother soon turned into having a fiancee! Now the plan is to keep up the fake engagement, stay "just friends," and make Leah's family loathe him enough to just call the whole thing off . But Sam has an insatiable sweet tooth, not only for Leah's decadent desserts but her decadent curves. Her full lips. Her bright green eyes. Yep, things aren't going quite according to plan. Now Sam has to convince Leah that he's for real . . . before their little lie turns into one big, sweet disaster.

I’m not entirely sure how to review this book. I absolutely hated parts of it, and other parts were really funny? And it was a bit…frustrating. There’s a few spoiler cuts in this review:

Let’s start at the beginning. Size Matters starts out badly – Leah is so focused on her size it made me uncomfortable, and her drowning her self pity in alcohol made me angry. I know it happens, we all have our insecurities, but her self esteem issues are very triggery and generally unpleasant to read.

My main issue with the book were the characters (ALL OF THEM). Sam’s inner monologue (where every sentence starts with “Hell…” I don’t care about the word itself, but it was so repetitive! “Damn” was used a lot too) did not help, going on about how he liked a woman with something to hang on to – I became worried this would slide into the ‘fetish’ zone (it didn’t, thankfully).

And then there was the fact that View Spoiler »

Leah’s mother View Spoiler » *shudders* if my mother was like that, I would disown her or at the very least spend as little time in her presence as possible. Leah herself just sucks it up and goes along with it (self esteem issues) which was endlessly frustrating. View Spoiler »

There were some laugh out loud funny moments, and then the negativity ramps up all over again. Sam is such a dick (and in a weird type of denial) and Leah isn’t any better. All this really boils down to is that neither of them can communicate, they are both stubborn and they’re not really likeable apart or together.

Leah needs to grow a backbone, and Sam needs to use his words. And her mother needs to butt out. The plot was completely ridiculous, I feel like it could have been executed much better (a fake fiancé story could be so fun!) but the mass of misunderstandings that took place just drew it out to the point of disbelief.

The one upside of this book is that it was written really, really well, and some of it was hilarious, but overall it just wasn’t for me because of the characters and their choices.

Rating Report
Plot
two-stars
Characters
half-star
Writing
four-stars
Pacing
two-stars
Overall: 2.1

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Book Review #4: Dirty Deeds by A.J. Nuest

Posted 31st January 2017 by Wattle in Books, Reviews / 6 Comments

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review #4: Dirty Deeds by A.J. NuestDirty Deeds by A.J. Nuest
Series: Likely Story #1
Published by Lyrical Underground on January 31st 2017
Genres: Romance
Pages: 285
Format: E-Book
Source: NetGalley
Links: Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars
Heat Level: 3.5 Flames

An Eye for an Eye
As owner of Dirty Deeds, a tech-savvy company specializing in the age-old art of revenge, Eden Smith knows first-hand that secrecy is critical. But when a dead body washes up on the shores of Lake Michigan clutching her business card, Eden’s well-constructed world begins to fall apart. Apparently, she’s not the only one with a passion for payback, and staying alive to outsmart a killer has become her most important job of all.

A Game for a Game
Hardened homicide detective Kelly Riordan is convinced Eden Smith is hiding more than she’s willing to admit. Years on the force have taught him that nothing is what it seems, and that couldn’t be truer than when it comes to investigating the alluring owner of a revenge-for-hire business. But revealing her past could put everything Eden has worked for in jeopardy. And trusting a man like Riordan goes against the very instincts that have kept her alive this long.

Today is my stop during the blog tour for Dirty Deeds by A.J. Nuest. This tour is being run by Love Reading Romance Tours, check out the tour page for more reviews!

I had one significant issue with this book. I’m going to get the bad stuff out of the way first – because really, I don’t want to be a downer, but…

I don’t like it when characters immediately objectify each other, like their looks are the only thing of interest about them. I can understand thinking someone is hot, but to imagine sexual activity within 5 seconds? Nope (or is this just me?) This book has instalust, that turns into instalove.

Turns out I don’t dig it; I just cannot buy it as part of reality *sigh*

Now on to the good stuff.

The premise? Super interesting. The thing I liked best about this was the plot. Also, I loved Eden as a character (and Kelly wasn’t so bad either, but Eden is where it’s at), she was independent and didn’t often do as she was told – I like a rebel. I felt the other characters were a bit hit or miss, and they definitely faded into the background (I couldn’t tell you most of their names) but since this story isn’t about them, that’s okay.

I did have a bit of a lull around 60%, to 65%. The pacing sort of fell away, everything was rushing at breakneck speed and then I hit a bump. But the last 35% of the book was great and really held my interest, it was a bit stressy, although that ending – I’m not sure if what happened is possible, I guess maybe? I’m not keen to conduct an experiment to find out haha.

The writing was excellent, even if the pacing was a bit much for me. I would have liked a bit more background on Kelly and Eden to be honest, we did get bits and pieces about them but I didn’t feel like I knew them very well (although in the case of Eden, that is probably the point).

All in all it was a fun read, and I’ll definitely be checking out more of Nuest’s work in the future!

Rating Report
Plot
four-stars
Characters
three-stars
Writing
four-half-stars
Pacing
two-stars
Cover
four-stars
Overall: 3.5

About A.J. Nuest

Multi-published, award-winning author and editor AJ Nuest resides in Northwest Indiana with her loving husband, two beautiful children, and a bevy of spoiled pets. Her four-part serial fantasy romance, The Golden Key Chronicles, was awarded the RONE Time Travel Romance of 2015 by InD’tale Magazine, and her spin-off series, The Golden Key Legacy, was chosen as a Must Read Romance by USA Today’s Happy Ever After. Her contemporary romantic comedy, She’s Got Dibs, won First Place in the Heartland Romance Author’s Show Me the Spark! Contest, 2013. For more please visit her at ajnuest.com

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Book Review #3: Entwined by J.C. Harroway

Posted 28th January 2017 by Wattle in Books, Reviews / 8 Comments

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review #3: Entwined by J.C. HarrowayEntwined by J.C. Harroway
Series: Recovery Series #2
Published by Escape Publishing on January 15th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 200
Format: E-Book
Source: NetGalley
Links: Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars
Heat Level: 3 Flames

Your true family is the one you choose...

When nurse Jess Bellamy returns to her hometown for a cousin’s wedding, she hopes to completely avoid her ex and first love, Morgan Price. But Morgan is the best man, and the groom’s best friend, so try as she might, Jess can’t avoid him. Teenage Morgan, she got over. Grown up Morgan is infinitely hotter, infinitely more successful, and infinitely harder to ignore.

When they re-kindle the explosive physical connection between them, Jess hopes they've burned it out of their systems. She left everything behind five years ago after her father’s funeral, including Morgan, and she's leaving again in two days. She had good reasons for going, and good reasons for staying away.

But as Morgan and Jess explore their searing passion during that lost weekend, Jess is tempted by what might have been and haunted by the ghosts of what was. She has two days to decide whether to keep her secrets or keep the only man she's ever loved.

I read this on the afternoon that I downloaded it from NetGalley (it’s beside the point I have hundreds of other books to read, right?) it was very well written, and given it’s fairly short was a quick read. Perfect for a rainy day (or a hot afternoon, when moving is difficult).

Entwined by J.C. Harroway is a second chance romance, which, it turns out, I enjoy a whole lot more than instalove/lust. Phew! I liked the connection between Jess and Morgan, their past history was a bit messy and it was mostly believable to me (because humans are weird). They are both stubborn and unwilling to share their secrets after being apart for 5 years, which makes for some tension.

There’s some weird family dynamics going on which made the plot fall over a little bit. I just couldn’t wrap my head around Jess trusting someone during a stressful time (which is to do with why she was gone from her hometown for so long), a person she does not have a healthy relationship with. Nor did I get the blame that was shoved in her direction for past events that were not her fault. It gave an easy ‘villain’ though I suppose.

This book does use my least favourite trope EVER, and I saw it coming from a mile away. It was a bit of a downer and affected the ending for me, which was a pity; but I enjoyed it up until then. Although I must admit, Jess’s ‘wailing’ with pleasure made me giggle each time, because I associate wailing with grief/despair/crying, so the use of that word was a bit strange to me lol

All in all, this was a well written quick read, though the plot had a few faults. I’ll definitely be checking out more of J.C. Harroway’s work in the future – I have the first book of the series on my kindle to read since I opted to read them out of order; but as far as I can tell they work just fine as standalone novels 🙂

Rating Report
Plot
three-stars
Characters
three-stars
Writing
four-half-stars
Pacing
four-stars
Overall: 3.6

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