Category Archives: Read by Vicki

A is for Alpha (Homefront: The Sheridans # 4)

By Kate Aster

Synopsis

Who put the “O” in Aloha?

Yeah, that’s me. Camden Sheridan.
A guy who will bring you to “O” faster than you can text it.
Former Army Ranger with the standard issue 8-pack.
And now, a bartender who’ll get you safely back to your hotel after too many margaritas… and you won’t want me to leave.
Believe me, you won’t.

I live life by my rules in my bachelor pad paradise here on the Big Island of Hawaii.
Until a Ranger brother needs me to take care of his little girl while he deploys.
A four-year-old cockblock in pigtails.
My sex life comes to a screeching halt.
Then the babysitter shows up.

Annie.
Smart, principled, good with kids. All the things I don’t look for in a woman.
I want her anyway.
Annie’s got a fortress of secrets surrounding her. But I’ll break it down and claim her as mine.

If this kid will just take a nap.

Review

So I thought FAKING IT would be the last book in the Homefront: The Sheridans series, but it turns out I was wrong. In A IS FOR ALHPA, we meet three of the Sheridans’ cousins: Camden, Fenway and Dodger. Yes, their parents named them after baseball stadiums. Sick of being known as the “other” Sheridans, they moved to the Big Island to get away from the rich and successful side of their family.

A IS FOR ALPHA was an easy and average read for me. Both Camden and Annie are likable characters, but there isn’t anything about them that stands out. The same could be said for the story, because even though it’s only been a few days since I read it, I’m struggling to remember what happened. What I remember most is how often Annie alluded to something that happened to her on the mainland. Something so bad it forced her into hiding on the Big Island. I remember it because I was already annoyed by the repeated teasing at the 35% mark, before the incident was finally revealed at the 60% mark. 

A IS FOR ALPHA is told in dual POVs, comes with a sweet HEA for Camden and Annie, and while it is part of a series, it can be read as a stand-alone. Will Fenway and Dodger get their own stories? I’m not sure. Would I read them? Yeah, I think I would.

A is for Alpha (Homefront: The Sheridans # 4)

My Rating:  

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Homefront: The Sheridans Series

Atticus: A Woman’s Journey with the World’s Worst Behaved Dog

By Sawyer Bennett

Synopsis

A heart-warming and deliciously funny story about the world’s worst behaved dog and how he trained his human how to love herself again.

Through the haze of vodka and self-loathing, Hazel Roundtree saw the poor creature lying in a ditch.

One brown eye. One blue.
Covered in mud and crying from pain, the puppy was desperately trying to free itself from a hopeless situation.

She almost kept walking by. She had her own problems and besides… no one had ever stopped to help her.

Who we’re ultimately meant to be is a journey without end, but there’s always a defined start…

Hazel had no idea the dog would be her beginning, her second chance, the miracle she never saw coming. She named him Atticus. He grew up to be a very bad–and completely awesome–dog. He took Hazel on a life-changing journey filled with mischievous adventure and painful heartbreak. In the end, Hazel grew up to be completely awesome, too.

Review

Wow!
Seriously…just WOW!
Beautiful.
Emotional.
Heartwarming.
Gratifying.
An absolute must read.

ATTICUS is a story about love, friendship and forgiveness, but is it a love story? I’d say yes, but not in the way you might be expecting. Told in the POV of Hazel and Atticus, it’s about the unconditional love that forms between a dog and his human. It’s about Hazel learning to love herself and that she is someone worthy of being loved. There is a sliver of romance towards the end, but romance is not the focus of this story, and the story is beyond amazing without it.

I want to say so much more about ATTICUS, but I’m really struggling with words because I feel as though no matter what I say, I just can’t do this book justice. So I will simply say this:

I could not put this book down.
I laughed.
I cried.
I was deeply moved.
This is the best book I have read this year, and I strongly recommend you read it.

Atticus: A Woman’s Journey with the World’s Worst Behaved Dog

My Rating:  

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Knocked Up (Crazy Love # 2)

By Stacey Lynn

Synopsis

First comes love. Then comes marriage. Then comes baby in a baby carriage. Just not necessarily in that order. . . .

Braxton: I should probably be dead or in jail right now. Instead, thanks to some tough love, I worked my ass off and now I own a string of tattoo parlors throughout the Pacific Northwest. And yet the one thing I’ve always wanted—a family—still seems out of reach. When my best friend gets married, I’m just hoping to blow off some steam with the super-hot maid of honor. But after Cara Thompson tracks me down to tell me she’s pregnant, she’s more surprised than I am when I tell her I’m all in.

Cara: For the first time in my life, I’m living for myself—not for my parents and their ridiculous expectations. I gave up on my MBA, dropped out of the Ivy League, and moved to Portland to pursue my dream of becoming an artist. And what’s the first thing I do? Get knocked up. For a tatted-up sex god, Braxton Henley seems way too eager to “be there for me.” Is this guy serious? Maybe. He sure is patient. Because he won’t back down until I admit what I know in my heart: that our one night stand might’ve led me to the one.

Review

If you’re looking for a sweet and easy read, one that flows well and has just the right amount tension, then KNOCKED UP is for you. It has an enjoyable story, likable and honest main characters, a believable conflict, a sweet resolution and finally, a HEA for Braxton and Cara.

However, I do feel it’s important to point out that the man on the cover looks nothing like Braxton should, who is described as having tattoos that cover his entire torso and arms, from his neck to his knuckles. It’s probably something the author can’t control, but the couple on the cover should look somewhat similar to how they’re described on the inside.

KNOCKED UP is told in dual POVs and while it is part of a series, it can be read as a stand-alone. From memory, this is an entirely new set of characters that are in no way connected to the first book.

Knocked Up (Crazy Love # 2)

My Rating:  

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Crazy Love Series

My Defender (Bewitched and Bewildered # 8)

By Alanea Alder

Synopsis

When a mysterious illness begins to sweep through Noctem Falls affecting the children, Eleanor Kimball is called to the city to see if she can determine what is wrong. As a pediatrician Eleanor loves children and desires many of her own, however, after several dating disasters she has not only sworn off men, but has given up her dream of a family, and the promise of a destined mate.

After discovering Grant in Noctem Falls she is faced with her own insecurities and finds it hard to believe in his love.

Grant Douglas is a man of few words and doesn’t do well surrounded by others. He is scared to death of finding a mate. He believes the harshness of his past, where he struggled to survive, didn’t cultivate a gentle heart. After a series of terrifying nightmares where his mate is at risk, Grant has decided he doesn’t want a mate at all.

When he meets Ellie, he realizes there are some things worth fighting for. Even if it means putting himself out there by becoming the Alpha he was born to be and facing the power he desperately tries to hide.

As Ellie starts to believe in Grant’s love it will take every ounce their combined strength to discover why the shifter children are suddenly falling ill before it’s too late.

Review

MY DEFENDER is the eighth book in the Bewitched and Bewildered series and was another enjoyable read. The story continues on from MY CHAMPION and follows the mating of Grant (wolf shifter) and Ellie (elephant shifter), and we’re still in Noctem Falls.

As I’ve said in my reviews of the last couple of books, the romance and relationship side of the story is lacking, but that doesn’t really bother me anymore. Instead, I choose to focus on everything else that is going on in this paranormal world that connects these books together.

I don’t remember much about Ellie, other than she’s a really sweet, caring and loving woman. I don’t even remember Grant from the previous two books, even though he’s one of the top Unit Warriors at Noctem Falls, and I assume readers have met before. But while I might not have remembered him at the start, I don’t think I’ll be forgetting about him any time soon. From how he comforts children, to hearing about everything he went through between the ages of twenty and fifty, you can’t help but admire his strength, his compassion and his ability to adapt and survive.

MY DEFENDER is told in dual POVs, with the epilogue being told in Etain’s POV as he’ll get the next book. While each book is about a different couple, the books in this series cannot be read as a stand-alone and must be read in order.

My Defender (Bewitched and Bewildered # 8)

My Rating:  

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Bewitched & Bewildered Series

Bought by the Boss

By Stacey Kennedy

Synopsis

HIS PRICE
I’ve wanted Aria Finley from the moment I met her.
We flirt, we laugh, we connect. It could be perfect.
She’s even best friends with my assistant.
Problem is, she works for my archnemesis—Jackson Keller—and she’s the kind of girl who stays loyal unless you give her a reason not to.
Besides my hard-on there’s something hot between us, and I won’t rest until I put my finger on it.
So when I get the chance to buy Aria for the weekend at a charity auction, there’s no limit.
I’m going to take her home and take what I want because I’ll make her want it too.
And by Monday, she’ll know she’s mine.

DIRTY MONEY
Liam Maxwell thinks he can get to me through my assistant.
Well, two can play that game.
Now Mallory Beckett—Liam’s assistant—is mine for the weekend.
Only she has no idea who bought her at the charity auction.
This is going to be worth every penny.
But soon I realize that Mallory has been waiting for my touch all along.
What starts as a fling turns into something more.
From the beginning, I was so focused on stealing her away.
I never thought about the fact that I’d drown if I lost her.
Now the game has changed. And she needs to know that she belongs to me.

Review

BOUGHT BY THE BOSS is made up of two novellas: His Price (Liam and Aria) and Dirty Money (Jackson and Mallory). Once upon a time, Liam and Jackson were best friends and college roommates, but the actions of one destroyed their friendship. Several years later, they’re both very successful corporate lawyers who hate each other with a passion and are always trying to one-up the other. Their rivalry comes to a head when they each bid on the other’s assistant at a charity auction.

Being novellas, both stories are very short, with lots of sex and not a great deal of character development. Despite all the parties knowing each other for at least two years, each story is an insta-love. Both stories are told in dual POVs and while the ending was a little abrupt, it does come with a HEA for both couples.

BOUGHT BY THE BOSS was a good way to spend a couple of hours, but I am glad I got this on sale. I almost never comment on the price of a book, and I know that the author has no say in the sale price, but I do think $4.99 for two novellas totaling less than 200 pages is a bit much.

Bought by the Boss

My Rating:  

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Speakeasy (True North # 5)

By Sarina Bowen

Synopsis

Sometimes you fall for Mr. Right. And sometimes for Mr. Right Now…

May

Did you hear the one about the girl who walks into a bar and catches her live-in lover kissing someone else? No? You’re the only one in town who missed it.
Luckily Alec is there to wrap me up in strong arms and carry me out the door before things get too ugly. And that’s not all Alec is good at. Our unexpected chemistry makes him the perfect rebound guy.

Alec

I should know better than to hook up with my rival’s little sister, but the fiery look in May’s eyes really turns my crank. She needs cheering up, and I’m just the guy for the job.
It’s not like I’ll fall in love. Not even after a string of scorching hot trysts, and the realization that we’re good at the same things: wild nights and familial disappointment. I don’t do love, never have, never will. So this is the perfect arrangement, for both of us.

Nobody would approve, but nobody has to know…

Review

SPEAKEASY is the fifth book in the True North series, and I’m sorry to say it was my least enjoyable read from this series.

I liked Alec, who was fun to be around and who treated May like she hung the moon. I liked May, who battled her alcoholic demons every day, and while the struggle at times was immense, she won that battle every day too. I think Sarina did a great job of getting her readers inside the mind of a recovering alcoholic. Not only did I like them as individuals, I liked them as a couple as well. I also liked that we got to see how three of the previous four couples were doing in their lives and how their relationships were progressing.

While I liked the characters and their story, there were two things I wasn’t a fan of. I didn’t like the lesbian fantasy scenes that I felt Alec pushed May into talking about, which he did so purely to satisfy his own sexual curiosity. I also didn’t like how down on themselves Alec and May were throughout the story. I got to a point where I just could not handle their “I’m not good enough” thoughts anymore.

SPEAKEASY is told in dual POVs and comes with a HEA for Alec and May. While it’s part of a series, it can be read as a stand-alone. As per Goodreads, there will be at least one more book in the True North series, but at the time of writing this review, book 6 is currently untitled, makes no mention of a release date and doesn’t mention who it’s about. I’m thinking it might be about one of Alec’s brothers.

Speakeasy (True North # 5)

My Rating:  

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True North Series

I Flipping Love You (Shacking Up # 3)

By Helena Hunting

Synopsis

Rian Sutter doesn’t usually get hit on in the grocery store, but when she notices a sexy man in a suit checking her out, she thinks maybe it’s her lucky day. Either that or the suit has a thing for sweaty, yoga-pant wearing women with excellent price matching skills.

Turns out it’s neither.

Pierce Whitfield can’t believe his luck when he’s able to track down the woman who scratched up the paint job on his car at the scene of the crime. But when he confronts the hit and run hottie, he discovers there’s not just one, but two of them, and he’s been throwing accusations at the wrong twin.

As repair costs are negotiated, and the chemistry between them flares, Rian and Pierce find out they have more than mutual attraction in common. They’re both vying for the same pieces of prime real estate in The Hamptons and neither one plans to give up without a fight.

Can these passionate rivals turn up the heat on their budding romance—without burning down the house?

Review

When a book has me laughing out loud on page three, I know I’m in for a good read…and I FLIPPING LOVE YOU did not disappoint.

My tank is still dewy, post-exertion, I have terrible under-boob sweat, and my thong is all wonky. If I were alone in this aisle, I’d for sure fix the last issue, but suit guy is here so I must leave the thong where it is for now, wedged uncomfortably between my vagina lips.

I LOVED PIERCE. Absolutely loved him. I loved his confidence and his sense of humor, and he’s probably the best book boyfriend I’ve read in a while. I liked Rian too, but Pierce was definitely the standout character in my opinion. My favorite scene was right at the beginning, where Pierce and Rian first meet in the grocery store, because it was fiery, feisty, exciting and a whole lot of fun. Coming a close second were all the scenes where Pierce was flirting with Rian and trying to win her over with his charm. Oh, and the epilogue. The epilogue was really good too.

“You think it’s sexy that I can do math in my head?”
“Yes. You’re gorgeous, outspoken, and intelligent. It’s a hard-on-inducing trifecta.”

There were a couple of minor things that bothered me throughout the story, like a few repetitive thoughts and scenes, and time jumps that were not identified by breaks within the chapters, which affected the flow of the story at times. But as I said, these were minor and didn’t affect my overall enjoyment of the story.

I FLIPPING LOVE YOU is told in dual POVs and while it’s part of a series—and characters from the previous book do make an appearance or two—it can be read as a stand-alone as it comes with a HEA for Pierce and Rian.

I Flipping Love You (Shacking Up # 3)

My Rating:  

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The Shacking Up Series

Marek (Cold Fury Hockey # 11)

By Sawyer Bennett

Synopsis

Marek Fabritis is used to delivering blows, not receiving them. But when he gets tipped off by an anonymous email about his ex-girlfriend, the news leaves him ice cold—and it’s not because Gracen Moore is getting married to a total jerk. It’s the fact that Marek has a three-year-old daughter he never knew about. Now he’s going back home, not to play knight in shining armor but to make damn sure that no man takes what’s his. For the first time, there might be something more important than hockey.

Gracen Moore has always loved Marek. That’s why she let him go, so he could pursue a career in the NHL. And that’s why she never told him about Lilly. Only now does Gracen realize that she made an unforgivable mistake. But is that any reason for Marek to crash her wedding and make an epic scene? If the spark that still smolders between them is to be trusted, maybe. Still, Gracen’s not getting her hopes up. Because she knows better than anyone that appearances aren’t always what they seem. . . .

Review

MAREK is a second chance, secret child romance, which for the most part was a very enjoyable read and a good addition to the Cold Fury Hockey series. The story was entertaining, kept me turning the pages and brought out a wide range of emotions from me.

I loved Gracen, who apologized several times for keeping her daughter a secret and she meant each and every one of those apologies. She was willing to accept Marek’s anger towards her, but she was not afraid to stand up for herself and put him in his place when he went too far. Given how their breakup went down, I don’t blame Gracen one bit for what she did, especially when she believed she was simply honoring Marek’s wishes.

I also loved her daughter, Lilly, who was a gorgeous and sweet little girl.

I wish I could say I liked Marek, but I just can’t. While he became a good father to Lilly, I didn’t like how he kept playing the victim or how badly he treated Gracen throughout most of the book. From memory, he never apologized to Gracen for the cruel way he broke up with her, or take into account her feelings or try to understand why she kept Lilly a secret.

While MAREK can technically be read as a stand-alone, the scene where Marek rushes to stop Gracen from getting married⏤and learns about his daughter⏤only appears in the previous book. So if you haven’t read REED, you will miss that particular heated and emotional scene that sets up this story.

I also have to say that the synopsis does not match the story at all, and it’s been a long time since I’ve seen such a glaring disparity between the two. The synopsis says that Gracen let Marek go so he could pursue his NHL dreams, and that Marek rushes to stop her from getting married after learning he has a daughter. That is not even close to what happened. Instead, Marek dumped Gracen when he reached the NHL because he didn’t want to be tied down to her, and only learned of his daughter after he turned up to stop Gracen from getting married.

There’s not a great deal of hockey in this book, as the story mostly takes place during the off-season. But despite that, and as I said above, the story is a page turner and I devoured it quickly. MAREK is told in dual POVs and comes with a HEA for Marek and Gracen.

Marek (Cold Fury Hockey # 11)

My Rating:  

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Cold Fury Hockey Series

Hooked On You (Chicago Rebels # 3)

By Kate Meader

Synopsis

Violet Vasquez never met her biological father, so learning he left his beloved hockey franchise—the Chicago Rebels—to her is, well, unexpected. Flat broke and close to homeless, Violet is determined to make the most of this sudden opportunity. Except dear old dad set conditions that require she takes part in actually running the team with the half-sisters she barely knows. Working with these two strangers and overseeing a band of hockey-playing lugs is not on her agenda…until she lays eyes on the Rebels captain and knows she has to have him.

Bren St. James has been labeled a lot of things: the Puck Prince, Lord of the Ice, Hell’s Highlander…but it’s the latest tag that’s making headlines: washed-up alcoholic has-been. This season, getting his life back on track and winning the Cup are his only goals. With no time for relationships—except the fractured ones he needs to rebuild with his beautiful daughters—he’s finding it increasingly hard to ignore sexy, all-up-in-his-beard Violet Vasquez. And when he finds himself in need of a nanny just as the playoffs are starting, he’s faced with a temptation he could so easily get hooked on.

For two lost souls, there’s more on the line than just making the best of a bad situation… there might also be a shot at the biggest prize of all: love.

Review

HOOKED ON YOU is the final book in the Chicago Rebels series, and it is a little sad to say goodbye to the three Chase sisters who did what nobody thought they could: take control of the worst hockey team in the league and lead it to success.

While I liked Bren, Violet and Bren’s two daughters, and that we got to see more bonding between the Chase sisters, this book didn’t engage me as much as I was hoping it would, and it did take me a few days to finish it. I found myself frustrated by the number of times Bren alluded to something terrible he did in his past before it was finally revealed towards the end of the book. There were also a couple of hockey related mistakes, like the name of the opposing team changing in the middle of the game, and the away team having home ice advantage for game seven of a playoff series. These aren’t huge mistakes and maybe most readers wouldn’t notice, but they were big enough for this hockey fan to notice.

HOOKED ON YOU is told in dual POVs and while it’s part of a series, it can be read as a stand-alone. It comes with a HEA for Bren and Violet, and an ending for the team that I think fans of the series will be happy with.

Hooked On You (Chicago Rebels # 3)

My Rating:  

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Chicago Rebels Series

My Champion (Bewitched and Bewildered # 7)

By Alanea Alder

Synopsis

Declan Lionhart has been running interference between the Founding Families and the citizens of Noctem Falls since the day he arrived in the city. His hopes of being a simple unit warrior crumbles in the face of their troubles and it looks like he will always be bound by his family’s political legacy. But with current tensions skyrocketing to unimaginable levels, Declan’s laid back persona and easy smile are needed now more than ever.

Kari Delaney has finally achieved everything she’s ever wanted. The business she created from scratch is booming and she has her dream custom built condo in the heart of the small town where she was raised. But all that changes the day she gets her evacuation notice.

Despite being a vampire, Kari hates Noctem Falls and the politics that permeates every aspect of life within the city. Under protest she and her younger brother leave for the City of the Night.

Declan is smitten with his little general and the strength she exudes. But when it’s just the two of them he begins to break down her carefully constructed walls and shows her that even though he’s easy going, he is still an Alpha, and his lion is demanding her heart.

When the entire city erupts into chaos with matings being dissolved and Founding Families making alliances, Declan realizes it will take every trick he learned at his father’s knee to maneuver through the murky political waters swirling around them. Both he and his mate race against time to keep the people of the city safe, despite homesick children, disastrous dinners, Meryn’s wacky revenge plans and an unexpected pairing.

Review

MY CHAMPION is the seventh book in the Bewitched and Bewildered series and was another enjoyable read. The story continues on from MY GUARDIAN and follows the mating of Declan (lion shifter) and Kari (vampire), and we’re still in Noctem Falls. With twenty books planned for this series, I assume that each of the four pillar cities will get five books apiece, and that only the highest ranking Unit Warriors for each city will have stories written about them.

I’ll be honest, I don’t remember much about Declan at all. Kari was a bit more memorable with her take-charge-and-get-things-done personality, but I can’t say much else about her either. Why? Because unlike the first five books in this series, the couple and their relationship hasn’t been the main focus of the story for books six and seven. Instead, the focus has shifted to Meryn and trying to figure out what’s going on in the paranormal world. While I’m very interested in the conspiracies that have been going on for centuries, I’m disappointed that it’s at the expense of the romance side of things.

On top of the lack of romance, there are a few other minor issues. I agree with what others have said about Meryn becoming more childish as the series progresses. I’m hoping we’ll see the old Meryn again in future books, especially when she seems to be connected to everything that’s going on. Quite a few conversations felt disjointed and hard to follow, with topics changing at random before turning back around to a previous topic. Finally, with so many new characters being introduced, they’re all starting to blur together. I found myself having to stop quite a few times and saying to myself “Who is this person again?”.

If you’re still reading this review, you might be wondering why I’ve given MY CHAMPION 5❤ when it sounds like I didn’t enjoy the book. Well, it’s because despite what I’ve said above, I did enjoy it. There were scenes that had me laughing out loud and the story arc has me chomping at the bit for the next book.

MY CHAMPION is told in dual POVs, with the epilogue being told in Grant’s POV as he’ll get the next book. While each book is about a different couple, the books in this series cannot be read as a stand-alone and must be read in order.

My Champion (Bewitched and Bewildered # 7)

My Rating:  

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Bewitched & Bewildered Series