Category Archives: Read by Vicki

Man Hands (Man Hands # 1)

By Sarina Bowen & Tanya Eby

Synopsis

He puts the “screw” in screwball comedy…

BRYNN
At thirty-four, I’m reeling from a divorce. I don’t want to party or try to move on. I just want to stay home and post a new recipe on my blog: Brynn’s Dips and Balls.
But my friends aren’t having it. Get out there again, they say. It will be fun, they say. I’m still taking a hard pass.
Free designer cocktails, they say. And that’s a game-changer.
Too bad my ex shows up with his new arm candy. That’s when I lose my mind. But when my besties dare me to leap on the first single man I see, they don’t expect me to actually go through with it.

TOM
All I need right now is some peace and quiet while my home renovation TV show is on hiatus. But when a curvy woman in a red wrap dress charges me like she’s a gymnast about to mount my high bar, all I can do is brace myself and catch her. What follows is the hottest experience of my adult life.
I want a repeat, but my flying Cinderella disappears immediately afterward. She doesn’t leave a glass slipper, either—just a pair of panties with chocolate bunnies printed on them.
But I will find her.

Review

In MAN HANDS, we have two people recovering from failed relationships.  Tom is mostly in hiding after having his girlfriend reject his proposal…on live TV.  The same woman who only used him to propel her own career.  Brynn is recently divorced from a man who loved her cooking skills but was not attracted to her fuller figure, who made her feel so undesirable it greatly affected her confidence.  Trying to regain some of that confidence, and with her best friends at her back, she literally jumps on the first man she sees at a party, which happens to be Tom.

I liked Tom and Brynn, and I thought they were perfect for each other.  I liked that even though they had both been hurt, it didn’t stop them from trying a new relationship together. Their relationship gave both of them the confidence they needed to stand up to their exes when they popped in to cause trouble, and both scenes were magnificent.  What I also liked about Brynn was that she listened to her heart, and didn’t make wrong assumptions about Tom’s feelings for her.  And Tom?  Well, he always knew the right things to say.

“Like my ex would even notice.”
“Of course he will. If I were married to you, and then I lost you, the regret would be pretty intense.”

MAN HANDS is labelled as a romantic-comedy, and I won’t deny that it was funny.  For example, here’s the ending to their first time together, and I cracked up laughing.

He pulls out and collapses next to me. His leg is over mine, and he reaches across my naked breast to grab my hand.  “I’m Tom,” he says.
“Brynn,” I breathe back.
“Well, Brynn…It’s really nice to meet you.”
We shake hands.

However, I did feel that some of the humor was a little too much, a little too forced, and a little too immature given we’re talking about two people who are 34 and 38 years old.  Tom’s dick talks to him throughout the story—it even has its own mini chapter towards the end—and I can’t decide whether I thought that was funny or not.  That being said, the story made me laugh, and isn’t that the point?

MAN HANDS is told in dual POVs and comes with a HEA for Tom and Brynn.  While it’s part of a series, I think each book can be read as a stand-alone because each book will be about a different couple.  The second book in the series, MAN CARD, comes out in January and I am looking forward to reading it.  It will be about Tom’s best friend, Braht, and one of Brynn’s best friends, Ashley, who had an interesting and fiery “relationship” throughout this story.  Will Brynn’s other best friend, Sadie, get her own story?  I’m not sure, but given she seems to be in the middle of an unhappy marriage, anything is possible.

Man Hands (Man Hands # 1)

My Rating:  

Buy Links:  Amazon | iBooks

Visit Sarina Bowen:  Click Here
Visit Tanya Eby:  Click Here


Man Hands Series

Valiant (New Species # 3)

By Laurann Donner

Synopsis

Tammy has always tried to be prepared for any calamity life might send her way, but a sexy, lion man-beast is way outside the norm. He’s huge, has the most exotic, golden cat-eyes she’s ever seen—and she’s so terrified of him, she’s speechless for the first time in her life. He’s stalking closer, growling at her, and she’s too unnerved to even flee.

Valiant has always hated humans. But when he gets a whiff of the adorable human female who has invaded his territory, he’s forced to reexamine his feelings on the matter. Her fear scents of pure, sweet temptation and the closer he gets, the more appealing she becomes. Once he’s got his hands on her, he isn’t about to let go. One thought will change his life. MINE!

Before Tammy can regain her senses, she’s flat on her back in Valiant’s bed. Now he just has to use every inch of his big, buff body to convince her to stay with him forever.

Review

VALIANT is the third book in the New Species series, and Valiant is one of my favorites because of how incredibly sweet he is.  Sure, he can hunt and kill animals bare-handed.  Sure, he’s scary looking, growls a lot, and even other New Species are afraid of him.  But man, when he cares about something or someone, he is incredibly kind, sweet and very easy to love.  All he wants is companionship, a mate, and when he finds it in Tammy, he’ll do anything to keep her.

Tammy is lovely and she takes to living around New Species very well, but I can’t say much about her because in my opinion, Valiant really stole the show.

As with the previous two books in this series, there are scenes of brief torture that includes the threat of rape, which may be triggers for some readers.  We find out that there are still some Mercile facilities that haven’t yet been raided where New Species are still waiting to be freed.  We got to see a bit more of Slade and Trisha, who were hilarious in trying to keep their relationship and pregnancy a secret from Tammy.  VALIANT is told in dual POVs and comes with a HEA for Valiant and Tammy.

Valiant (New Species # 3)

My Rating:  

Buy Links:  Amazon | iBooks

Visit Lauren Dohner:  Click Here


New Species Series

So Over You (Chicago Rebels # 2)

By Kate Meader

Synopsis

Isobel Chase knows hockey. She played NCAA, won Olympic silver, and made it thirty-seven minutes into the new National Women’s Hockey League before an injury sidelined her dreams. Those who can’t, coach, and a position as a skating consultant to her late father’s hockey franchise, the Chicago Rebels, seems like a perfect fit. Until she’s assigned her first job: the man who skated into her heart as a teen and relieved her of her pesky virginity. These days, left-winger Vadim Petrov is known as the Czar of Pleasure, a magnet for puck bunnies and the tabloids alike. But back then… let’s just say his inability to sink the puck left Isobel frustratingly scoreless.

Vadim has a first name that means “ruler,” and it doesn’t stop at his birth certificate. He dominates on the ice, the practice rink, and in the backseat of a limo. But a knee injury has produced a bad year, and bad years in the NHL don’t go unrewarded. His penance? To be traded to a troubled team where his personal coach is Isobel Chase, the woman who drove him wild years ago when they were hormonal teens. But apparently the feeling was not entirely mutual.

That Vadim might have failed to give Isobel the pleasure that was her right is intolerable, and he plans to make it up to her—one bone-melting orgasm at a time. After all, no player can perfect his game without a helluva lot of practice…

Review

SO OVER YOU is the second book in the Chicago Rebels series—third if you include the prequel novella—and I was really looking forward to this second-chance romance between Vadim and Isobel.  After getting a taste of their story at the end of the previous book, I was certainly intrigued.

Sadly, I didn’t feel much of a connection between Vadim and Isobel and, to be honest, the anger they both felt towards the other was unwarranted.  Isobel is angry at Vadim because he now has a reputation of pleasing the ladies, but he didn’t give her an orgasm the one time they had sex when they were teens and she was a virgin.  Vadim is angry at Isobel because her father kept him from playing in the NHL for years after he caught them together, even though he knows she had absolutely nothing to do with her father’s actions.  Both of them are also guilty of unapologetically interfering in the other’s life without discussion or consideration…for their own good.  They act out of love, but both situations could have been handled so much better and in a much less controlling way.

So it might sound like I didn’t enjoy SO OVER YOU, but I actually did, though my favourite parts of the story didn’t have anything to do with Vadim and Isobel as a couple.  I enjoyed watching the sisters interact and continue to forge their relationships, although we didn’t see as much of it in this book as we did the previous book.  I hope we’ll see more in Violet’s book.  I enjoyed how we were set up for the next story, which will be about Dante (the team’s GM) and Cade (one of the players).  A M/M boss/employee hockey romance?  Yes please!  I enjoyed the side story about Vadim and his mother, who have been separated for fifteen years.  Their interactions were heartbreaking and the most emotional part of this story.

SO OVER 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 Vadim and Isobel, as well as a HFN ending for the Chicago Rebels.

So Over You (Chicago Rebels # 2)

My Rating:  

Buy Links:  Amazon | iBooks

Visit Kate Meader:  Click Here


Chicago Rebels Series

Strip Me Bare

By M. Never

Synopsis

“I may have had more lovers than you, and I may take my clothes off for countless women, but you are the only one who can strip me bare.”

Do you ever stop loving someone just because they’re gone?

Five years ago, Ryan Pierce disappeared from Alana Remington’s life without a trace. He was the one she gave her heart to, her soul to — and her virginity to. So, imagine her surprise when she finds him dancing at one of NYC’s hottest male revues as ‘Jack the Stripper.’

Ryan never stopped loving Alana, and now that she has serendipitously dropped back into his life, he’s vowed never to lose her again. But being together has its costs, and challenges Alana isn’t sure she can handle. She finally has Ryan back. But how in the world is she supposed to share the love of her life with half of the women in New York City?

Strip Me Bare is a second chance, standalone romance. It contains angst, heat, humor, heartbreak, and one seductive male stripper who will not only have you handing over your panties, but also your heart.

You’ve been warned.

Review

I’ve been wondering how to rate STRIP ME BARE for a few days now, and in the end I decided to give it 3❤️, because while I liked the story and its characters, there were some things I didn’t like.

I’ll start with Ryan and Alana, who I did like and I thought they fit as a couple.  What I didn’t like about Ryan was how he sacrificed his freedom for someone who didn’t deserve it the first time, let alone a second time.  What I didn’t like about Alana was how she folded to her father’s demands because she wanted his money to pay for her education and lifestyle.  It made her seem like she was a doormat and a user.  I also didn’t like that Alana never slept with anyone else in the five years they were apart, but of course Ryan had no problem sleeping with dozens of women while still being in love with Alana.

Moving on to the story, it took me a while to get into it because it was a little slow.  So slow that I considered not finish it.  But I’m very glad I kept with it, because it did pick up towards the end and became a more enjoyable read.  Despite being slow, there’s quite a bit happening throughout the story, and as I got closer to the end, I thought for sure the author was going to leave a few of these things unresolved.  So colour me pleasantly surprised when she tidied everything up, and did so in believable ways.

One other issue I had with the story were the skips in time; the story takes place over several years, with the epilogue taking place another six years later.  I don’t think the gaps took away anything from the story, rather my frustration stemmed from not knowing that time had elapsed because it wasn’t a header at the beginning of the chapter.  I’d get this sense that something wasn’t right, that I felt like I was missing something, and it would be several paragraphs into a chapter that Alana would say or think about how much time had passed.

I know I seem to have only listed the bad stuff, and it may sound like I didn’t enjoy STRIP ME BARE, but I did.  It comes with a lovely HEA that brings the story together and left me feeling very happy.  It is told only in Alana’s POV and is a stand-alone.

Strip Me Bare

My Rating:  

Buy Links:  Amazon | iBooks

Visit M. Never:  Click Here

Crank (The Gibson Boys # 1)

By Adriana Locke

Synopsis

This is one mistake Sienna Landry can’t buy her way out of.

As Walker Gibson looks at her, then at the damage to his precious truck (that she may or may not have accidentally inflicted), she knows she’s in trouble. It’s not the busted headlight and dented grill that’s sunk her though. It’s the downright sinful man in front of her that’s the problem.

The small town mechanic is broody. Rough. Smells like engine grease and gasoline and Sienna isn’t sure why that’s so sexy, but it is. It so is. She’s ready to peel off her panties at the drop of his wrench.

He wants her too. She can feel it when he brushes against her. Experience it as he presses her against the wall of the shop. It’s thinly veiled in his deep, brown eyes when he looks at her like she’s everything he’s ever wanted. So why won’t he give in?

The damage to Walker’s truck is the first of many mistakes between the two of them, ending with truths that rock Sienna’s world. Nothing can fix her broken heart except the love of a man that won’t, maybe even can’t, love her back.

Review

With the huge amount of glowing reviews CRANK gets on Amazon and Goodreads, I had high hopes for this one.  Sadly, I’m clearly in the minority because no matter how hard I tried, I could not get into this book.  It took me three days to finish and, even though I only finished reading the day before writing this review, I cannot remember anything at all about the characters or the story.  All I remember is how I felt reading it, which was a combination of frustration and boredom.

Referring to the very few notes I took, I wasn’t a fan of how rudely Walker treated Sienna simply because he was attracted to her when he didn’t want to be.  I also wasn’t a fan of how almost all the men in this story talked about and treated women, with the worst being when one of Walker’s brothers talks about having a girl after his brother is done with her.  If they were supposed to come off as humorous playboys, they missed the mark with me.  I can’t say anything about Sienna because I didn’t take any notes about her at all.

I really wanted to like this book; the cover is cute and the blurb sounds really good, but this story did nothing for me.  In the three years I’ve been reviewing, I’ve only given eleven books a 1❤️ review, but CRANK becomes my third this month alone.  This has me wondering if maybe it’s really a case of “It’s not you, it’s me.”  I’ll let you be the judge.

Crank (The Gibson Boys # 1)

My Rating:  

Buy Links:  Amazon

Visit Adriana Locke:  Click Here

Van (Cold Fury Hockey # 9)

By Sawyer Bennett

Synopsis

Score one for the Carolina Cold Fury hockey team as a stone-cold badass melts for a woman who makes his blood run hot.

As one of the league’s toughest enforcers, Van Turner is ruthless on the ice. He plays hard because it’s the only way to channel the rage boiling inside, and a reputation as an A-hole is better than everyone knowing the truth. Van has spent his entire life running from a secret that’s kept him from getting involved in relationships—or accepting lucrative deals with East Coast teams. Then the Carolina Cold Fury makes him an offer he can’t refuse . . . and Van meets a woman he can’t resist.

Simone Fournier is the stubborn one in her family—and that’s saying something, considering her brothers are two of the Cold Fury’s biggest stars. Simone gets what she wants, and what she wants is Van. Still, there’s a part of him Simone can’t reach, no matter how hard she tries. In private, he’s all fire and passion. In public, he freezes her out. Van may want to push her away, but Simone won’t let him go that easily. Because this time, she’s playing for keeps.

Review

After meeting Van in LUCAS, I was very curious about him and wanted to read his story.  Though I’m not sure why, because he was rude and not likeable at all, but something about him caught my attention.  Spoiler alert, he’s still rude in this book, but overall I liked him.  When you hear about what happened in his past and the demons that still follow him today, it’s no wonder he is the way he is.

While I liked Van, I can’t say the same for Simone, and for two main reasons.  Firstly, she’s very sexually aggressive towards Van.  I’m all for women owning their sexuality and going after what they want, but she wouldn’t take no for an answer and her behaviour honestly made me uncomfortable.  Secondly, I found her to be contradictory on a few occasions, the biggest example is when it came to her relationship with Van.  She says she’ll be patient, that she’ll happily take whatever he can give her and that she’ll always be there, but just a few hours later she’s doubting him and then leaves him the very next day.  Her only saving grace is that she did stand by Van when she learnt of his past, when most people probably would have walked—or run—away.

VAN is told in dual POVs, comes with a HEA for Van and Simone, and while it’s part of a series, it can be read as a stand-alone.  I am disappointed that this is the second Cold Fury story in a row where I haven’t liked the lead female character, and I hope this isn’t a theme that will continue.  That being said, despite not liking Simone—and thinking the blowjob scene with a sweaty Van right after he finished mowing the lawn was gross—I did like VAN.  I enjoyed reading it and it easily held my attention, which lately has been a hard thing to do.

Van (Cold Fury Hockey # 9)

My Rating:  

Buy Links:  Amazon | iBooks

Visit Sawyer Bennett:  Click Here


Cold Fury Hockey Series

Stubborn as a Mule (Sex and Sweet Tea # 2)

By Juliette Poe

Synopsis

Down in Whynot, NC, there are three things that hold true: 1) life moves just a little bit slower, 2) family means everything, and 3) you don’t mess with history.

When his family decides to sell a home that’s been part of their history for over a century, Lowe Mancinkus is madder than a hornet. To add insult to injury, the woman who purchased it is some fancy pants, city girl looking to fix it up and sell it off. Doesn’t matter that she’s sexy as hell or that just being near her gets his blood racing like never before. That home belongs to his family, or at least it did until she came to town.

Well that just won’t do, now will it?

From the moment that she laid eyes on the historical home in rural North Carolina, Melinda Rothschild knew Mainer House was something special. The perfect escape from life in New York City, Melinda signed the papers and set to work restoring the house to its natural beauty. That is until an angry Lowe showed up on her doorstep one day. With a scowl on his handsome, chiseled face. And a shotgun in his strong, muscular arms.

Is it getting hot in here?

Melinda’s about to get a lesson on life in the south, but Lowe is about to learn a lesson of his own – this city girl doesn’t back down from a fight.

Review

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read STUBBORN AS A MULE, because I knew it was going to be about Lowe and I really disliked him in the previous book.  He was rude, bitter and angry, and I just couldn’t see him redeeming himself.  Well, it doesn’t happen very often, but I’m happy to say that I was wrong.  Very wrong.  Once you get inside his head and hear why he was so upset, it is very easy to understand and forgive his behavior.  I ended up liking him a lot, especially his sense of humor.

I can’t say much about Melinda, other than the town (including Lowe) judges her a little unfairly simply because she’s an outsider with money.  She can be just as stubborn as Lowe, which was why their relationship was so volatile in the beginning.  Despite their rocky start, they were both able to quickly calm down and act like grown ups, and I liked watching their affection for each other grow.  I loved Morris D—Melinda’s gay, drag queen best friend—and the pranks between him and Lowe were hilarious.

STUBBORN AS A MULE is a very quick and enjoyable read, and I loved how the first chapter really drew me into the story and the battle between Lowe and Melinda.  If you’re looking for a steamy read, you won’t find it here because all the action happens behind closed doors.  My only complaint is that the conflict towards the end was easily predicted at the halfway mark, so I spent the rest of the book hoping to be surprised, but ultimately not.

STUBBORN AS A MULE is told not just in Lowe’s and Melinda’s POV, but also in the POVs of several of Whynot’s residents, which gives a little extra kick to the story.  While it’s part of a series, it can be read as a stand-alone as it comes with a HEA for Lowe and Melinda.  I’m looking forward to reading BARKING UP THE WRONG TREE, the next book in the Sex and Sweet Tea series.

Stubborn as a Mule (Sex and Sweet Tea # 2)

My Rating:  

Buy Links:  Amazon | iBooks

Visit Juliette Poe:  Click Here


Sex and Sweet Tea Series

Time Out

By Jill Shalvis

Synopsis

NHL coach Mark Diego’s plan to spend his offseason volunteering in his hometown goes awry when he learns that not only is he coaching teenage girls, but that the program is coordinated by energetic (and five feet two inches of trouble) coordinator Rainey Saunders, his childhood friend—and the woman he could never stand to see dating any other guy…

When their tempers flare, Mark and Rainey discover their fireworks don’t just burn angry— they burn very, very hot! But that’ll just sweeten the victory. Because Mark always plays to win. And with Rainey, he’s planning on playing very dirty, too…

Review

Sadly, TIME OUT was a DNF for me.  I don’t like starting a book and not finishing it, but I found I just couldn’t continue on after chapter seven.  I tried to get into it, but I wasn’t feeling the characters, their chemistry or their story.  Despite that, I would try reading from this author again.

Time Out

My Rating:  

Buy Links:  Amazon | iBooks

Visit Jill Shalvis:  Click Here

Close To Heaven (Colorado High Country # 5)

By Pamela Clare

Synopsis

She has nothing…

Rain Minear has fantasized about finding herself in Joe Moffat’s arms for years. It’s just her luck that the night it finally happens, he’s carrying her into the emergency room. It’s Joe who steps up to help her when a tragedy brings her life crashing down. He gives her a place to stay, helps her get back on her feet, and even tries to save her Christmas, though he’s never cared for the holiday. But he’s far too ethical to sleep with a member of his staff, holding her at arms length despite the long-simmering attraction between them.

He has everything…

Haunted by ghosts from the past, Joe Moffat moved to Scarlet Springs to repay a debt. He’s struggled for years to keep his hands off Rain. She’s the general manager of his brewpub, and he is not that kind of boss. But, oh, she turns him on. More than that, she has the biggest heart of any woman he’s ever known. He’d do anything to see her smile again, even put up a Christmas tree and listen to carols, things he normally never does.

A season that changes two lives forever…

When a Rocky Mountain blizzard leaves them snowbound and alone together for days, they can no longer ignore their feelings for one another. As their passion turns to something deeper, it becomes clear to them both that this will be the most important Christmas of their lives.

Review

Luckily, the author didn’t mention in the blurb exactly how long Joe and Rain had secretly been in love with each other, because if she had, I probably wouldn’t have read it.  Why?  Because I’d just finished reading another book where the main characters were secretly in love with each other for twenty years, and it left me very frustrated.  Thankfully, and despite that similarity, CLOSE TO HEAVEN was a nice, easy and enjoyable read.

I liked Joe, who moved to Scarlet Springs two decades ago to try and pay back the town for his great-great-grandfather’s misdeeds.  He’s a very wealthy man, but he’s down-to-earth and he doesn’t act like he’s better than everyone else just because of his money.  The only thing that bothered me was his main reason for not pursuing Rain.  There’s a big difference between using your position of power to take advantage of women in your employ, and taking what is being freely offered by a woman in her thirties.  

I liked Rain, who’s been working for Joe since she became a single mother at seventeen.  She’s been in love with him since almost the beginning, but she never made a move because she was afraid of being rejected.  What I liked most about her is that she truly did not care that Joe was rich, and that she finally got the courage to put herself out there in her attempts to gain Joe’s attention.

An interesting part of the story was the reading Silas’ journals, where we learnt how despicable Joe’s great-great-grandather truly was, as well as the history of the town and its descendants, who still live there to this day.  You’ll be surprised by how much hate you’ll feel for a man who’s been dead for a century.

CLOSE TO HOME 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 beautiful HEA for Joe and Rain, and is a nice addition to the Colorado High Country series.

Close To Heaven (Colorado High Country # 5)

My Rating:  

Buy Links:  Amazon | iBooks

Visit Pamela Clare:  Click Here


Colorado High Country Series

Creep (Karma Inc. # 4)

By Gillian Zane

Synopsis

Case # 4 of the Karma Incorporated Series.

What goes around comes around…it’s called Karma.

Working for Karma Incorporated might sound like the best job in the world, but there’s one really big catch: you’ve got to die to get it. Cassandra Mercier died at the ripe old age of twenty-one and is now gainfully employed by the Afterlife Corporation as a Karma operative…and she’s been working overtime.

Cassandra is given the task of playing the psychic medium Castalia Rosso, and she’s on the hunt to give a few pretend ghost hunters a bit of cosmic retribution.

Her targets are two Creeps.

Twins Raul and Roselle, who have made a name for themselves in the ghost hunting community as renowned demon hunters. They’ve gotten so much notoriety that they’ve landed themselves a reality television show. The network insisted that they include a psychic on the show with them, though — and this is where Castalia Rosso comes in. Joining the twins on an investigation of one of the most haunted houses in the area, Cassie must expose the brother and sister ghost hunting duo, and all their dirty behavior and deal with some real ghosts all while trying to sort out her own tumultuous existence.

As the case gets more and more complex, so does the world Cassie exists in. Life and death aren’t exactly what they seem when working for the Afterlife Corporation.

Review

CREEP is another great addition to the Karma Inc. series, though I can’t say too much about it, because this series is connected and I’m trying not to give away any spoilers.  But I’m very glad my suspicions about Drake were confirmed.  Yes, we finally find out what Drake is, and it definitely makes things more interesting.  In this story, there was no further investigation into Cassie’s murder, but I think we’ll get a lot of information in the next book, given where her next case is taking her.

CREEP is told only in Cassie’s POV and ends in a cliffhanger of sorts.  Each book in this series is connected and cannot be read as stand-alones.  The next book in the series is CROOK, and though I don’t know when it’s coming out, I can’t wait to read it.

Creep (Karma Inc. # 4)

My Rating:  

Buy Links:  Amazon

Visit Gillian Zane:  Click Here


Karma Inc. Series