Category Archives: Read by Vicki

Ain’t He Precious? (Sex and Sweet Tea # 1)

By Juliette Poe

Synopsis

Welcome to Whynot, North Carolina, population 3,872. It has one stoplight, one bar, and the one-and-only Trixie Mancinkus.

Eleven years ago, Trixie graduated Harvard Law, turned down a job offer from one of the most prestigious law firms in Boston, and headed home to Whynot to open her own firm. Not only did she leave behind the big city, but she also left her boyfriend of three years. And just so we’re clear… that would be me.

So what am I doing in Whynot at this very moment? It seems Trixie needs help with a legal case and for some insane reason, she called on me for assistance. I’ve been in town for five minutes, and I’m every bit as out of place as I feel. Trixie is all sweet, southern curves to my tailored suits and high-priced haircuts. It’s a culture clash of north versus south and about the only thing we have in common is our physical attraction to each other.

But I have a new motto since coming to Whynot: When life hands you lemons, all you need is a little sex and sweet tea to make things better.

Review

AIN’T HE PRECIOUS is the debut novel from Juliette Poe (aka Sawyer Bennett), and is the first book in the Sex and Sweet Tea series.  This is a second chance romance between Trixie and Ryland, who broke up when Trixie wanted to return home after they finished law school instead of moving to Boston with Ryland.  After more than a decade apart, letting go of the other is their biggest regret, and the attraction between them is still off-the-charts when they see each other again.

There’s a good amount of humor in this story, and most of that is thanks to big-city-boy Ryland’s reactions to life in the south.  Ryland and Trixie are both very likable characters, as are most of the characters we meet in this book.  The only person who didn’t win me over was Trixie’s brother, Lowe, who acted like a spoiled brat every time he appeared.

The case that Trixie needed Ryland’s help on only takes up about ten minutes of the entire story, and he could have easily helped her from Boston, but then I guess there wouldn’t be a story if he didn’t make the trip to Whynot.  Instead, most of the story surrounds them discussing why their relationship ended, all while Ryland gains some understanding on why Trixie chose to return home all those years ago.

At only 120 pages, AIN’T HE PRECIOUS is a short, simple and sweet read.  It is told mostly in Trixie and Ryland’s POV, but it also has a few chapters told in Trixie’s grandfather’s POV.  Each of the Mancinkus siblings will get their own story in this series, with Lowe getting the next book, STUBBORN AS A MULE.

Ain’t He Precious? (Sex and Sweet Tea # 1)

My Rating:  

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Sex and Sweet Tea Series

Only In My Dreams (Halle Pumas # 5)

By Dana Marie Bell

Synopsis

Gabriel Anderson has accepted a unique position in the shifter world. He’s about to become a Hunter, one of the few trained and sanctioned to hunt down the rare rogue shifter dangerous to humans and shifters alike. But there’s one catch: the man who recruits him tells him to hold off on marking his mate until after his training. Gabe agrees, unaware that his decision could cost him more than he ever dreamed possible.

Sarah is devastated by Gabe’s seeming desertion. His friendship with another woman threatens the bond that could have been built between them. In a bid to win her mate’s heart Sarah decides to flirt with another man, something the possessive Gabe can’t handle. When Gabe finds out that the erotic dreams of dominating his mate have a basis in reality he loses no time in attempting to claim what is his.

If he can’t, the only place he’ll ever have her is in his dreams…

Review

ONLY IN MY DREAMS is sadly the final book in the Halle Pumas series, but it does set us up for the Halle Shifters spin-off series, so yay!  There’s already another spin-off series, but unlike the Poconos Pack, the Halle Shifters series will take place in Halle as well, so we’ll see some of the characters from this series again.

Gabe is the town’s Sheriff and the pride’s Marshal’s Second, and Sarah is the pride’s Omega, which in this series means that she outranks him.  Gabe was just about to claim Sarah as his mate when he was ushered away for Hunter training by the Senate.  Unfortunately for both of them, he’s gone for six months and, in their case, absence does not make the heart grow fonder.  Thanks to miscommunications, insecurities and jealousy, their relationship had almost imploded by the time he returned home.

ONLY IN MY DREAMS is told in dual POVs and comes with a HEA for Gabe and Sarah, the final two leaders of the Halle Pride.  While each novella could technically be read as a stand-alone, it’s best to read the series in order as each one focuses on a different couple.  As with the previous novellas, there’s plenty of hot sex to enjoy, but Gabe is into domination and some light kink, so it’s by far the hottest sex in the series.

Only In My Dreams (Halle Pumas # 5)

My Rating:  

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Halle Pumas Series

Tempting Fate (Colorado High Country # 4)

By Pamela Clare

Synopsis

A woman with no roots…

Naomi fled the cult-like nightmare of her childhood and learned to rely on one person—herself. Her resourcefulness keeps her alive during a catastrophe in the mountains, but it’s no help at all when it comes to Chaska Belcourt, the sexy EMT who saves her life. Raised to feel shame about her body and sex, she is putty in Chaska’s hands as he strips away her armor, exposing the vulnerable woman beneath, awakening desires in her that she’d been taught to ignore.

A kiss that changes everything…

Chaska Belcourt grew up on the reservation, the son of a hereditary Sun Dance chief. He left all of  that behind for a new life in Colorado as an engineer with an aerospace firm and a member of the elite Rocky Mountain Search & Rescue Team. He doesn’t share his sister’s belief that fate led him to find Naomi. But from the first moment their lips touch, he can’t get enough of her.

A love that transforms…

As the passion between them turns into something more, Chaska is forced to admit that his sister is right. There’s no other way to explain the depth of his feelings for Naomi—or the fact that he and his people might hold the key to unraveling the mysteries of her past. But she will have to learn to trust again before the two of them can find the answers she needs—and claim this once-in-a-lifetime love.

Review

TEMPTING FATE is the fourth book in the Colorado High Country series and it was another enjoyable read.

I really liked Chaska, who is smart and kind, and always knows the right thing to say to Naomi.  He’s very calm and peaceful, but he’s also strong and has a good sense of humor.  My favorite scene was when Chaska offered his bride price for Naomi.  Not only was it funny and sweet, but it also showed that he would do anything to make her happy, even when her request was clearly a joke.  The jalapeño blow job scene came in at a close second.

The best way to describe Naomi is to call her a fighter, because that’s exactly what she is.  Everything that she had been through—from the day she was born, to being found unconscious in Chaska’s path—broke my heart.  Despite her horrible upbringing and difficult adult life, she’s the nicest and most grounded person, and I was definitely rooting for her to get her HEA.

I loved the small-town feel in the previous book; how the town rallied around Ellie when she was in need.  However in this book, when they came together to help Naomi, it felt too forced and too cloying.  Maybe I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind when it came to those scenes.

TEMPTING FATE 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 lovely HEA, especially for Naomi, who is finally able to say she has a family.

Tempting Fate (Colorado High Country # 4)

My Rating:  

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Colorado High Country Series

Hello Forever (Hello Goodbye # 2)

By Sarina Bowen

Synopsis

A basketball game changed both their lives.

When they were only teenagers, Axel and Caxton were caught making out in the woods at church camp. And afterward, Cax had disappeared from all the youth group activities.

Six years later, Axel is astonished to spot his first love’s face in the crowd of a college basketball game he’s watching on TV—at a school which has just offered him a job. It’s a thousand miles away, in a tiny rural town. But suddenly, he can’t wait to get there.

Cax can’t believe his eyes when Axel appears in the same Massachusetts town where he now lives. And he’s still just as drawn to Axel as ever. But he can’t let himself go there again, because loving Axel will mean giving up everything else he holds dear.

Both men have so much to lose. But as far as their love is concerned, it’s Hello Forever.



Review

My review for HELLO FOREVER is going to be short and sweet, because I’m in the middle of moving and I just don’t have the time to write my usual lengthy review.

I loved this story and I loved it’s two main characters, Cax and Axel.  They are both so kind and sweet, and they really were perfect for each other.  I also loved Axel’s co-worker, Boz, who was hilarious.  He wasn’t really in the story much, but when he was, he was definitely memorable.

One thing I thought was interesting is that, from memory, there are only two female characters in this story: Axel’s mother; and Cax’s best friend, Amy.  Every other character was male.  I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but it was certainly something that really stood out to me.

HELLO FOREVER is told in dual POVs and, while it’s part of a series, it can be read as a stand-alone.  The previous couple, Josh and Caleb, make an appearance, and it was good to see them again.  Will there be more books in this series?  I’m not sure, but I really hope so.

Hello Forever (Hello Goodbye # 2)

My Rating:  

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Hello Goodbye Series

Jilted (Love Hurts # 2)

By Sawyer Bennett

Synopsis

Eden Goodnight went to Los Angeles to make it big, not to be publicly humiliated by her cheating fiancé at a red-carpet premiere. But when Eden returns to her hometown to put the scandal behind her, she can barely find a sympathetic shoulder to cry on. Turns out the locals are worse than the paparazzi, and they all think she’s turned into a spoiled brat. But in a strange twist of fate, the one person who seems to understand what Eden’s going through is Cooper Mayfield . . . the boy she left behind.

Small-town charm is no match for the glitz and glamour of Hollywood. At least that’s what Coop’s been telling himself all these years. As Eden’s old flame—and the landscaper for her family’s historic home—Coop feels some responsibility for getting her out of her funk. But as soon as he sees that million-dollar smile, he’s a goner. Soon they’re making out like teenagers again. But when a life-changing role falls into Eden’s lap, Coop just hopes she doesn’t give up on a love that’s meant to be.

Review

JILTED is the second book in the Love Hurts series, and while I get the feeling this is supposed to be a light and easy read, I found myself surprisingly emotional at times.  That’s not a bad thing, it’s just something I thought I should point out.

Eden is a lovely woman and I really liked her.  My heart broke for her in the very first chapter, and then again when she returns to her home town only to realise that she’s being shunned by everyone.  She is a woman who wears her heart on her sleeve, but that doesn’t mean she’s not strong because when she’s pushed, she pushes back just as hard.

Cooper is a good guy, but it’s hard to see that at the beginning because of how harsh he is to Eden.  Obviously he has his reasons, and you will find out what those reasons are, but for a man who says he’s doesn’t care, he was certainly holding on to some bitterness.  But when he learns the truth and starts treating Eden better, that’s when we see the real Cooper, and he’s a keeper.

As much as I loved JILTED and would happily read it again, there were a few things that bothered me.  Firstly, the synopsis doesn’t exactly match the events in the story, which is odd.  Secondly, Brad makes an sudden appearance in the middle of the book and then we never hear from or about him again.  Third and finally, what happened with Brad’s movie that Eden was supposed to cameo in?  There was talk of a lawsuit, but just like Brad, we never heard anything further with that.  These things might not be a big deal to some people, but for me, points two and three gave those parts of the story an unfinished feel.

JILTED is told in dual POVs and, while it’s part of a series, it can be read as a stand-alone.  JILTED is set in a different location and involves a completely different set of characters from the previous book.  I’m not sure if there’ll be a third book in this series, but if there will be, I’ll definitely be reading it.

Jilted (Love Hurts # 2)

My Rating:  

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Love Hurts Series

Some Kind Of Hero (Troubleshooters # 19)

By Suzanne Brockmann

Synopsis

Navy men don’t come tougher than Lieutenant Peter Greene. Every day he whips hotshot SEAL wannabes into elite fighters. So why can’t he handle one fifteen-year-old girl? His ex’s death left him a single dad overnight, and very unprepared. Though he can’t relate to an angsty teen, he can at least keep Maddie safe—until the day she disappears. Though Pete’s lacking in fatherly intuition, his instinct for detecting danger is razor sharp. Maddie’s in trouble. Now he needs the Troubleshooters team at his back, along with an unconventional ally.

Romance writer Shayla Whitman never expected to be drawn into a real-world thriller—or to meet a hero who makes her pulse pound. Action on the page is one thing. Actually living it is another story. Shay’s not as bold as her heroines, but she’s a mother. She sees the panic in her new neighbor’s usually fearless blue eyes—and knows there’s no greater terror for a parent than having a child at risk. It’s an ordeal Shay won’t let Pete face alone. She’s no highly trained operative, but she’s smart, resourceful, and knows what makes teenagers tick.

Still, working alongside Pete has its own perils—like letting the heat between them rise out of control. Intimate emotions could mean dangerous, even deadly, consequences for their mission. No matter what, they must be on top of their game, and playing for keeps . . . or else Pete’s daughter may be gone for good.

Review

SOME KIND OF HERO is the first book I’ve read from Suzanne Brockmann.  It was an amazing blend of humour, suspense and romance, and you step right into the action at the very first page.

Shayla is a divorced romance writer and a mother of two teenaged boys.  She’s been ogling the hot Navy SEAL who moved in across the street for months now, so when he flags her down asking for her help, who is she to refuse.  Shayla is a very likeable character because she’s funny, kind and smart.  The only thing about her that irked me was Harry, the imaginary voice of her favourite character in her head.  I eventually accepted the fact that it was just one of her quirks and tried to ignore he was there.

Peter is the hot Navy SEAL Shayla’s been fantasising about for months.  He’s also a newly single father to a teenaged daughter he can’t seem to connect with, no matter how hard he tries.  Regardless of how Maddie feels about him, he loves her, which is proven by how far he’s willing to go to get her back safely.  I loved the emails he sent to Maddie while she was missing; they were so sweet and really allowed her to see that her father was not the bad guy she thought he was.

The story (with exception of the epilogue) takes place in just four days, so I would definitely call this an insta-love.  The epilogue was short and sweet, and the perfect way to end their story.  While this is part of a series, and couples/characters from previous books make their appearances here, it can be read as a stand-alone.  SOME KIND OF HERO is not only told in Peter and Shayla’s POVs, but also in several other characters POVs as well.  This did make it a little confusing, but it didn’t happen too often and it was good to sneak inside the minds of the other characters for certain scenes.

Some Kind Of Hero (Troubleshooters # 19)

My Rating:  

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Troubleshooters Series

Whispered Prayers Of A Girl

By Alex Grayson

Synopsis

A tortured soul meets a damaged family…
A lonely man, a widowed woman, a carefree boy, and a broken girl… Can the four come together and help heal each other? Or will fear of the unknown and guilt about the past keep them apart?
 
Her whispered prayers break her…
At night, as she’s drifting off to sleep, I press my ear to the door and listen to her heart-wrenching pleas. Her words are agony to my healing heart, but I cherish the sound of them, for that’s the only time I ever hear my beautiful daughter speak. Since her father died two years ago, she’s grown quiet and withdrawn. Cat’s Valley was to be our new beginning, a place where my family and I can heal, but what we find there is so much more.
 
Scars mar his body. Pain has left him in pieces…
Four years ago, I lost the two things I cherished most in the world. They were ripped from my arms in the most painful and cruel way. Since then, I’ve kept to myself, preferring to stay away from the pitying looks and murmured rumors. Everything changed when she and her children barged into my life. It was an accident, and I don’t deserve them, but now that they’re here, I’m not sure I can let them go.

Review

WHISPERED PRAYERS OF A GIRL is a beautiful and emotional read that you will definitely need tissues for.  Alex, Gwen, Kelsey and Daniel have all experienced heartbreaking loss, but after being stranded in a snowstorm together for just a few days, friendships are born that help pave the way to healing and happiness.

Alex is a town local, but he became a recluse after a tragic accident robbed him of so much.  He blames himself for the accident and therefore doesn’t think he deserves a happy life, especially one with Gwen and her kids.  Because of his guilt, he spent a lot of the story trying to decide whether he should be with her or not.

Gwen is new to town, having arrived about two years after the death of her husband that left her a single parent to their two children: Kelsey and Daniel.  Gwen is a very patient and forgiving woman, and she needed to be when it came to Alex.  I loved Daniel and his playful personality, and my heart broke for Kelsey and the blame she carries on her little shoulders over her father’s death.

There were only a few small things that bothered me.  We never heard anything about the person who caused Alex’s accident at all.  Were they punished?  Did they survive?  We don’t know, and I thought it was odd that it was never mentioned.  We also never learn what happened to the horse, Bandit, that Alex was training?  Alex and Bandit had an interesting connection, and I wish we’d seen some closure in regards to that.  Finally, I found some of their thoughts and conversations to be a little repetitive.

WHISPERED PRAYERS OF A GIRL is told in dual POVs and it ended with a lovely HEA for Alex and Gwen.  At this time it appears to be a stand-alone, and I didn’t get the feeling anyone else in this story would get their own book.  But you never know.

Whispered Prayers Of A Girl

My Rating:  

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The Game (The Game Series # 1-7)

By LP Lovell & Stevie J. Cole

Synopsis

What would you do for one million dollars? Or rather, what wouldn’t you do? Would you play a game?

One contract. Two Guys. Three players. Four Strikes. Five rules. Six zeros. Seven days.

No safe words. No questions. Complete submission. Are you game?

Review

Judging by the synopsis, I thought THE GAME would be one hell of a kinky read; one with a little bit of a dark edge.  In the end, what I got with THE GAME was nothing like I was expecting⎯or hoping⎯for.  It was kinky, no doubt about that, but it wasn’t just a little bit dark; it was very dark and, in my opinion, sick and twisted.  I found the entire “game” to be bizarre and I just couldn’t make much sense of it.

THE GAME was originally released as a series of seven novellas, but it’s now been combined and released as a single book.  Even though it’s now a full story, it still has that novella feel to it because of its fast pace.  My Advance Reader Copy was in desperate need of a proofreader, as I lost count of all the spelling mistakes and missing words.  I can only hope that these mistakes have been fixed in the final published version.

THE GAME is told mostly in Ella’s POV, with the final chapter for each day being told in Tobias’ POV.  I will say this for THE GAME though: the M/F/M and M/M/F sex scenes between Ella, Tobias and Preston were so very, very hot.  That being said, the amount of anal sex without lube or preparation was, for lack of better words, butt-clenching and wince-inducing.  In the end, I would have just rated this story 1❤️, but I added another ❤️ because those sex scenes were fabulous and truly panty-melting.

The Game (The Game Series # 1-7)

My Rating:  

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Catching The Cowgirl (Cotton Creek # 3)

By Jennie Marts

Synopsis

California video game designer Adam Clark knows that, in his business, authenticity is the key. So, for their newest Western adventure game, he and his partners decide to try out Cowboy Camp. Only Adam’s friends never arrive, leaving him a bit—okay, a lot—preoccupied, trying to resist the gorgeous cowgirl who owns the ranch.

Single mom Skye Hawkins is too busy trying to keep her family’s dude ranch out of the red to even think about romance. But she’s having trouble avoiding Adam. He’s smart, he’s sweet, he’s funny…and he’s hot! Maybe it’s the mountain air, but she finds herself letting down her guard. And the fireworks are definitely worth it. 

The only problem—they live in totally different worlds. Still, Adam is nothing if not resourceful. Sure, he wants to catch the cowgirl. But more importantly, he needs to find a way to keep her.

Review

CATCHING THE COWGIRL was a sweet and funny romantic read, and I loved Adam and Skye.  Skye is hardworking, strong and independent, but that also means she can be very stubborn at times.  Adam is so easy to like because he’s sweet, geeky and a little bit awkward, but in an endearing way.  He always knows exactly what to say to Skye to make her heart melt, because everything he says comes from the heart.

CATCHING THE COWGIRL is the third book in the Cotton Creek series and, while it’s part of a series, it can be read as a stand-alone.  It is told in dual POVs and comes with a lovely HEA for Adam and Skye.  If you’re after a steamy romance with lots of hot sex, you won’t find it here, because other than some foreplay, everything happens behind closed doors.  But even without the sex, I really enjoyed this story.

Catching The Cowgirl (Cotton Creek # 3)

My Rating:  

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Cotton Creek Series

I Knew You Were Trouble (Oxford # 4)

By Lauren Layne

Synopsis

Taylor Carr has it all—a sleek job in advertising, a stunning Manhattan apartment, and the perfect man to share it with: Bradley Calloway. Even after Bradley dumps her for a co-worker on move-in day, Taylor isn’t worried. She’ll get her man eventually. In the meantime, she needs a new roommate. Enter Nick Ballantine, career bartender, freelance writer—and longtime pain in Taylor’s ass. Sexy in a permanent five-o’clock-shadow kind of way, Nick knows how to push Taylor’s buttons, as if he could see right through to the real her.

Nick’s always trying to fix people, and nobody could use a good fixing more than Taylor. Sure, she’s gorgeous, with mesmerizing silver eyes, but it’s her vulnerability that kills him. Now that they’re shacking up together, the chemistry is out of control. Soon they’re putting every part of their two-bedroom apartment to good use. Then Taylor’s ex comes crawling back to her, and Nick figures she’ll jump at the chance to go back to her old life—unless he fights for the best thing that ever happened to him.

Review

I KNEW YOU WERE TROUBLE is the fourth book in the Oxford series, but it’s only the third one I’ve read.  Since it’s been a while since I read the first two books in the series, and because I haven’t read the third, I’m not sure if Nick and Taylor have appeared in the series before, or if they’re new.  The first several chapters are set in the past, ranging from one year to six months ago, before continuing on in the present.  This really gave the beginning of the story a fast-paced feel, but it was a good way of providing us with this couple’s backstory.

Taylor could be a hard character to like, because she’s so defensive and very quick to attack.  She was bitchy to Nick from the moment they met simply because of the way he made her feel.  But because you get to see inside her head, you learn that underneath her cool and aloof exterior, she’s just a woman who wants someone to love her.

What can I say about Nick?  Not much, because compared to Taylor, he doesn’t really shine.  By that I mean I took a lot of notes about Taylor, but hardly any about Nick, which tells me that he didn’t really do anything noteworthy.

I KNEW YOU WERE TROUBLE is told in dual POVs, and while it’s part of a series, it can be read as a stand-alone.  There are mentions of the previous couples, but they weren’t done in a way that left you feeling like you were missing something.  I’m not a fan of a couple never using a condom, or when the conflict happens right at the end and is then resolved very quickly.  Unfortunately, both of those things happen here.  However, it does come with a lovely HEA for Nick and Taylor that I really liked.

I Knew You Were Trouble (Oxford # 4)

My Rating:  

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Oxford Series