Category Archives: Read by Vicki

Playing With Fire (Hot In Chicago # 2)

By Kate Meader

Synopsis

As the only female firefighter at Engine Co. 6, Alexandra Dempsey gets it from all sides: the male coworkers who think she can’t do the job, the wives and girlfriends who see her as a threat to their firefighter men, and her overprotective foster brothers who want to shelter their baby sister at all costs. So when she single-handedly saves the life of Eli Cooper, Chicago’s devastatingly handsome mayor, she assumes the respect she’s longed for will finally come her way. But it seems Mr. Mayor has other ideas…

Eli Cooper’s mayoral ratings are plummeting, his chances at reelection dead in the water. When a sexy, curvaceous firefighter gives him the kiss of life, she does more than bring him back to the land of the living–she also breathes vitality into his campaign. Riding the wave of their feel-good story might prop up Eli’s flagging political fortunes, but the sizzling attraction between them can go nowhere; he’s her boss, and there are rules that must be obeyed. But you know what they say about rules: they’re made to be broken…

Review

PLAYING WITH FIRE is the first book I’ve read from Kate Meader and I found it quite enjoyable.  It did take me a few days to finish, but I think that had more to do with the fact it was a paperback instead of a Kindle version.

The banter and sexual tension between Eli and Alex was the best part of this story.  And there was a lot of banter and sexual tension.  While he has experienced great tragedy throughout his life, Eli still had a privileged upbringing, which shows in the way he speaks and in how he thinks a woman should behave.  While he likes Alex’s spunk, he thinks she’s unrefined and wants to tame her.  Some of the things he would say to—and about—Alex rubbed me up the wrong way, but overall I liked him.

“You crossed a line in there, Dempsey.  Ran your mouth off when all I required was that you wear your dress uniform and a sweet-as-sugar smile.”
“Like the good little woman.  God, you’re such a throwback I bet all your selfies are sepia toned.”

Alex is a woman who is not afraid to speak her mind, so much so that it turns a lot of people off.  She’s not had much luck in the dating scene because men are intimidated by her strength, which I liked, but I also liked the vulnerability she showed when the situation called for it.

PLAYING WITH FIRE is told in dual POVs, and while it’s part of a series, it can be read as a stand-alone.  That being said, I did have trouble understanding the Dempsey family tree for a while, so I would have spent less time confused if I’d read the previous books in this series.

Playing With Fire (Hot In Chicago # 2)

My Rating:  

Buy LinksAmazon | iBooks

Visit Kate Meader:  Click Here


Hot In Chicago Series

Sweet Dreams (Halle Pumas # 2)

By Dana Marie Bell

Synopsis

Getting attacked by some crazed she-devil, complete with claws and fangs, certainly wasn’t on Rebecca Yaeger’s agenda when she agreed to attend a local masquerade. In a few slashing moments, Becky learns things about her friends and the man she loves that she never would have suspected.

When Simon rescues Becky from an unprovoked attack by one of his Pride, he finally confirms what he’s long suspected: she’s his mate. Carrying her off to his home and dressing her wounds gives him the chance he’s been waiting for—to taste her and mark her as his. And she’s far sweeter than anything, or anyone, he’s ever had before.

Just as their problems seem a thing of the past, a strange illness begins to haunt Becky, threatening to turn their sweet dreams into a nightmare.

Review

SWEET DREAMS is the second book in the Halle Pumas series, and as with the first book, it is a light, quick, fun and sexy read.  We met Simon and Becky in the previous book, as Simon is Max’s best friend and pride beta, and Becky is Emma’s best friend.  They’ve been crushing on each other for a long time, but a threat to Becky forces Simon to finally act.

SWEET DREAMS is told in dual POVs and comes with a HEA for Simon and Becky.  The beginning of this story overlaps with the ending from the previous story, so I would recommend reading this series in order.  I devoured this entire series back in 2010 (and a couple of times since then), and each book is just a nice way to spend an hour or so on something fun and easy.

Sweet Dreams (Halle Pumas # 2)

My Rating:  

Buy LinksAmazon

Visit Dana Marie Bell:  Click Here

Buns (Hudson Valley # 3)

By Alice Clayton

Synopsis

Clara Morgan is living the dream, if you can call rebranding hotels that are desperate for a new life and running any kind of marathon a dream. Which she does. But the career she loves and the endurance races that keep her adrenaline pumping have kept her too busy to put down any roots. Growing up in foster care, she’s never been able to establish traditions of her own, which may be why she’s fascinated by the rituals that generations-old family resorts are known for. She’s especially interested in the Bryant Mountain House, and not just for their secret recipe for the yummy, gooey, can’t-get-enough-of Hot Cross Buns….

Archie Bryant, the man with the Buns, is fifth generation and one-day-owner of the charming yet run-down Bryant Mountain House in Bailey Falls, New York. He’s determined to save his family’s legacy from the wrecking ball the old-fashioned way—by gritting his teeth and doing what needs to be done. There’s no way Archie will be influenced by the new hotel branding expert his father brought in to turn one hundred and fifty years of tradition on its head just to attract a faster, younger, slicker crowd. But when some of Clara’s ideas start bringing in new, paying customers, Archie can’t deny that she may have just given him a shot at keeping his resort open.

It’s sticky, it’s messy, it’s sweet, it’s Buns.

Review

BUNS is my first Alice Clayton book, and I’m happy to say it was one I found enjoyable.

Clara and Archie are both likeable characters, but they’re also very stubborn, which made for some fiery discussions.  I really enjoyed watching these two bicker over how to save Bryant Mountain House from going out of business.  Archie was a sweet and loyal guy, and he is devoted to keeping his family’s traditions alive.  Clara has an amazing work ethic, she’s not easily intimidated, and she is not afraid to speak her mind to get her point across.  That being said, she has serious abandonment issues; issues which are justified in my opinion.  However, her constant inner monologue about always being alone, her fear of letting someone in, and her inability to feel like part of the group, did become tiring after a while.  It also made the conflict and resolution fairly easy to predict.

BUNS is told in Clara’s POV, with the epilogue being told in Archie’s.  While it is part of a series, it can be read as a stand-alone, and although the couples from the previous two books appeared several times throughout this story, I never felt like I was missing something when it came to them.

Buns (Hudson Valley # 3)

My Rating:  

Buy LinksAmazon | iBooks

Visit Alice Clayton:  Click Here


Hudson Valley Series

The Wallflower (Halle Pumas # 1)

By Dana Marie Bell

Synopsis

Emma Carter has been in love with Max Cannon since high school, but he barely knew she existed. Now she runs her own unique curio shop, and she’s finally come out her shell and into her own.

When Max returns to his small home town to take up his duties as the Halle Pride’s Alpha, he finds that shy little Emma has grown up. That small spark of something he’d always felt around the teenager has blossomed into something more—his mate!

Taking her “out for a bite” ensures that the luscious Emma will be permanently his.

But Max’s ex has plans of her own. Plans that don’t include Emma being around to interfere. To keep her Alpha, Emma must prove to the Pride that she has what it takes to be Max’s mate.

Review

I first read THE WALLFLOWER back in 2010 and I’ve read it a couple of times since then, but I’ve never reviewed it for our blog.  This is the first book in the Halle Pumas series and introduces us to Max (the alpha) and Emma (his mate).  This is a series I quite enjoy because all the books are light, quick and fun to read.  Oh, and the sex is animalistic and hot!

“I want Livia to grind her teeth into powder when she sees you on my arm. And then I want us both to smile at her and wish her well after she bows down to you.”
“Damn, Max, you should have been a girl. That’s totally bitchy.”

Max has returned to Halle to take over the Puma pride; a right he earned years ago when he was still human.  He’s not looking for his mate, but he finds her anyway when he sees Emma for the first time since he left, and he wastes no time in claiming her.  Emma is the town’s wallflower; the Plain Jane that the popular girls pick on, even though high school has been over for almost a decade.  Everyone underestimates her strength and when she gets a taste of her power, she wields it beautifully.

When he’d used his power to force an answer out of her in that alley, she’d actually walked away from him, back turned, head held high. He still couldn’t decide if he wanted to fuck her or spank her for that.

THE WALLFLOWER is told in dual POVs and is a great way to spend an hour or two.

The Wallflower (Halle Pumas # 1)

My Rating:  

Buy LinksAmazon

Visit Dana Marie Bell:  Click Here

Vegas Love (Love # 1)

By Jillian Dodd

Synopsis

Hollywood actress, Ashlyn Roberts, just had the worst week of her life. Her ex released a sex tape of them and just when she was convinced her current boyfriend was a keeper for standing by her side, he breaks up with her at a friend’s wedding. She’s planning to drown her sorrows in booze when she meets a sexy stranger as she’s leaving the wedding and they end up in Vegas, married.

Cash Crawford is offered a dream job working with his brother as a junior talent agent. He’ll put his shiny new law degree to good use and make a bunch of money in the process. His first task is simple: Keep Ashlyn Roberts out of trouble and don’t sleep with her.
Which might be kind of tough, since they definitely consummated their Vegas wedding.

Will this one night stand end in the quickie divorce they promised each other? Or will they realize they got lucky in love?

Review

VEGAS LOVE is a book I’d seen around Amazon for a while now, and when I saw it was available through Kindle Unlimited, I downloaded it right away.  I wanted something light and fun, and I thought this would fit the bill.

Unfortunately, the writing had me thinking about giving up several times by the 30% mark.  The story moved at an incredibly fast pace.  I’m talking warp speed.  It moved so fast that I didn’t have time to get emotionally invested in the story or it’s characters.  Most chapters were broken down into several smaller scenes, which I found not only odd and annoying, but also added to that rushed feeling.  There were so many repetitive and abrupt changes in thoughts and topics that I thought I’d end up with whiplash trying to keep up with it all.  Finally, if you’re after some sexy reading, you won’t find it here because all the sex either happened behind closed doors or was over with in less than a page.

VEGAS LOVE is told in dual POVs and comes with a HEA for Cash and Ashlyn.  While I considered not finishing this story, I kept giving it a chance and made it to the end.  But sadly, even the sweet ending wasn’t enough to save this book from a 1❤️ rating.

Vegas Love (Love # 1)

My Rating:  

Buy LinksAmazon

Visit Jillian Dodd:  Click Here


Love Series

Yes, Prime Minister

By Aria Cole

Synopsis

As the Prime Minister of the greatest nation to the north, boyishly handsome Bryce Gallagher gets exactly what he wants, exactly when he wants it. He’s never met a foreign dignitary he couldn’t charm, or an office assistant that didn’t swoon with one panty-dropping smile. But Bryce has never met a woman that’s caught his attention. And then Juliette Alexandre walked into his life.

Growing up on the wrong side of the tracks requires grit, and Juliette Alexandre has it in spades. She’s worked tooth and nail for every accomplishment she’s earned, which is why she is zero percent interested in the perfectly round, incredibly taut, viral-worthy assets of her new boss, Prime Minister Gallagher. She’s finally landed the dream job, now she just has to avoid drooling over the sexy-as-sin Prime Minister every time he shoots her that toe-curling grin. The fate of the country may depend on it.

Review

YES, PRIME MINISTER was downloaded onto my Kindle as soon as I heard about it.  A beefy story about the hot Prime Minister of Canada?  Yes please!  Sadly, I had no idea that this was going to be an insta-love novella, one without much of a story to sink my teeth into.

For me, a novella can be a hit or a miss.  If it’s part of a series with previously established characters, it’s generally a hit.  When it’s a stand-alone, not so much.  Some have too much happening.  Some move too fast.  Some don’t delve into the characters backstory.  YES, PRIME MINISTER doesn’t have a lot thrown in; instead it focused purely on the relationship between Bryce and Juliette.  While the story itself didn’t move too fast, their relationship certainly did, with Bryce declaring Juliette was “the one” before they had even been on a single date.  In regards to the characters, we learn almost nothing about them personally from reading this story.  For example, Juliette grew up on the wrong side of the tracks and has worked very hard for everything she has, but we only know this about her because it’s mentioned in the blurb.  It’s not mentioned anywhere in the story at all.  What’s the point of giving her a difficult past if it’s not going to form a part of the actual story?

YES, PRIME MINISTER had potential, but I felt the insta-love and the overall lack of a story was too much to overcome.  If you like quick reads that take less than an hour, contain no conflict and have some light kink thrown in, this novella is for you.

Yes, Prime Minister

My Rating:  

Buy LinksAmazon

Visit Aria Cole:  Click Here

Wasted Words

By Staci Hart

Synopsis

Some universal truths refuse to be ignored.

Peanut butter and jelly are a match made in heaven. Spaghetti and meatballs are best friends forever. And guys like Tyler Knight don’t go for girls like Cam Emerson.

She knew from the second she met him that he didn’t belong on her bookshelf, the six-foot-six ex-tight end with a face so all-American, it could have sold apple pie. So she shelved him next to the supermodels and rock stars and took her place on her own shelf — the one with the flannel-clad, pasty-faced comic book nerds. Most of her boyfriends have existed between the pages of books, but rather than worrying over her own lacking love life, she puts all her energy into playing Cupid, using her job at the book bar, Wasted Words, as her stomping ground.

Tyler Knight always looks on the bright side. His career-ending injury turned into a job as a sports agent. A horrible breakup led him to Cam, his quirky, smart roommate who is far more beautiful than she realizes. She’s made it perfectly clear she’s not interested in him — not like that at least — but if she ever changes her mind, he won’t hesitate. Because he doesn’t see the lines she’s drawn between them, as much as she insists that they’re there. Deep down he knows that despite their differences, they’re a match well made.

Review

WASTED WORDS is the first book I’ve read from Staci Hart, and I’m sad to say that I didn’t enjoy it like I hoped I would.  Which is a shame, because the blurb sounded like something I’d really be into: Hot Jock (Tyler) falls in love with Geeky Girl (Cam) who doesn’t know how beautiful she really is.

While I liked Tyler a lot, I found Cam completely unlikeable and it was her behaviour that proved too much to overcome.  She was supposed to be smart and funny, but I found her to be childish, too insecure and downright bitchy when something didn’t go her way.  She thought she knew what was best for everyone, so when they threw a wrench in her plans, she threw a tantrum.  Literally.

Unfortunately, my issues with WASTED WORDS didn’t end with Cam.  It was a slow moving book that became a struggle for me to finish, so much so that I ended up skipping sections without feeling like I missed anything important.  I noticed some thoughts and comments were repeated, as well as several spelling mistakes and missing words throughout.

WASTED WORDS is told in dual POVs and comes with a HFN ending for Tyler and Cam.  It does appear to be a stand-alone, but I know at least one other couple have had a book written about them.

Wasted Words

My Rating:  

Buy LinksAmazon

Visit Staci Hart:  Click Here

The Executioner (The Family Creed # 1)

By Shauna Allen

Synopsis

~ Five brothers, one family tragedy, untold heartache. ~

A stray bullet ended my Army career, forcing me to follow in my father’s prison guard footsteps.
My sister’s disappearance ten years ago annihilated my family, forcing each of us to find a way to cope. 
But I’ve survived. Adapted. 
At least until Genevieve Stone showed up, digging into the truth in the name of journalism and finding her way deep under my skin. I’m determined to do whatever it takes to find my sister, but when the case is blown wide open by the sexy reporter, I’m left with the ultimate question . . . can I trust her? 
I’m a soldier, heart and soul. 
I don’t do love. 
War and death and pain are my church.
My name is Asher Creed.
I am the Executioner. 

***Reader note: This is the first of a 6-part emotional family saga series. Each story is 100% male first-person point-of-view, and while each full-length novel is guaranteed to have a complete HEA romance, their family mystery remains unsolved until the end of the series.

Review

THE EXECUTIONER starts with a quick prologue that shows Claire being abducted ten years ago, before continuing on in the present day.  Asher’s family has been left devastated by Claire’s disappearance, but Asher is also saddened at how his once-close family has drifted apart over the years, as each family member has suffered alone and in silence.

Asher is a very hard working, honest and down to earth man.  What you see is truly what you get.  While working as a prison guard is not his dream job, he takes pride in his work and is respectful, which translates into being somewhat respected by most of the inmates he works amongst.  Genevieve is a crime reporter who doesn’t just focus on the crime when writing her stories, but also on the victims and their families.  Being a victim herself, she understands that it’s the people who are left behind that tend to suffer the most.  She’s perfect for Asher in that she too is very hard working, respectful and has a lot of integrity.

While THE EXECUTIONER does involve a romance between Asher and Genevieve, the bulk of this story revolves around the Creed family members as they deal with Claire’s disappearance, even ten years later.  I’ll be honest, I don’t remember much about the romance between Asher and Genevieve, but I am very intrigued by Claire’s disappearance and would love to know how that story plays out.

THE EXECUTIONER is told only in Asher’s POV and ends in a cliffhanger.  It is considered a family saga, so the books cannot be read as stand-alones and they will need to be read in order.  Asher is the oldest of five brothers, and each brother will get their own story: Asher; Levi; Jamison; Joshua; and Silas.  Although, considering this will be a six-part family saga, I’m not sure who the sixth book will be about.  I have a theory, but it’s one I’ll be keeping to myself.  Looking at Amazon, the next three books are being released at the end of May, June and July.  If that’s the case, I’ll be very happy that we won’t have to wait too long to find out what exactly happened to Claire.

The Executioner (The Family Creed # 1)

My Rating:  

Buy LinksAmazon | iBooks

Visit Shauna Allen:  Click Here


The Family Creed Series

The Backup Boyfriend (The Boyfriend Chronicles # 1)

By River Jaymes

Synopsis

Professionally, Dr. Alec Johnson has almost reached his goals. As this year’s recipient of a humanitarian award with his ex, Dr. Tyler Hall, Alec’s work with the homeless is about to be recognized. Unfortunately, his personal life sucks because now he has to attend several events alongside Tyler—with his ex’s new boyfriend in tow. In an attempt to lift his mood and break out of his rut, Alec purchases a motorcycle he has no idea how to start.

Dylan Booth doesn’t have time for Dr. Clueless and his fickle 1964 Harley, but the cocky mechanic can’t say no to the request for help. Having spent his teen years on the streets, and losing his best friend to HIV, Dylan decides teaching the do-gooder how to ride is the least he can do. But watching Alec flounder in his ex’s company throws Dylan into protector mode, and the confirmed hetero introduces himself as Alec’s new boyfriend.

The ex suspects Dylan is lying.

Alec claims Dylan’s plan is insane.

And Dylan’s not sure he can fake being gay.

But Dylan’s a master bullshitter, and the phony PDA soon turns ultra-hot. Alec can’t afford to get attached, and Dylan’s learned everyone eventually leaves. Unfortunately, playing the backup boyfriend is starting to feel way too real…

Review

I read THE BACKUP BOYFRIEND a few years ago and it was one of those stories that would pop into my head from time to time, even though I couldn’t remember the title or the author.  I was finally able to find it and re-read it to see if it was as good as I remembered.  It was.  I didn’t take a lot of notes, and it is slow moving with not a lot of action, but it was an enjoyable read.

Alec and Dylan are both very nice guys who have mutual friends, yet have never met.  Alec is the sweet one who has known he was gay since he was a teen and loves being in a relationship.  He comes across as the more sensitive and insecure of the two, but at the same time he loves topping Dylan.  Dylan is the complete opposite of Alec.  He’s straight, avoids commitment and is more rough around the edges than what Alec is used to.  He’s surprised by his feelings for Alec, but I liked how he wasn’t afraid to embrace them—for the most part.  I liked watching him grow and learn to accept the things he always thought he didn’t want.

THE BACKUP BOYFRIEND is told in dual POVs and while it’s part of a series, each book can be read as a stand-alone.  It comes with a sweet epilogue and a HFN ending for Dylan and Alec.

The Backup Boyfriend (The Boyfriend Chronicles # 1)

My Rating:  

Buy Links: Amazon

Visit River Jaymes:  Click Here


The Boyfriend Chronicles Series

Pipe Dreams (Brooklyn Bruisers # 3)

By Sarina Bowen

Synopsis

A goalie has to trust his instincts, even when taking a shot to the heart…

Mike Beacon is a champion at defending the net, but off the ice, he’s not so lucky. A widower and a single father, he’s never forgotten Lauren Williams, the ex who gave him the best year of his life. When Lauren reappears in the Bruisers office during the playoffs, Beacon sees his chance to make things right.

Lauren hates that she’s forced to travel with the team she used to work for and the man who broke her heart. There’s still undeniable sexual tension running between her and Mike, but she won’t go down that road again. She’s focused on her plans for the future—she doesn’t need a man to make her dreams of motherhood come true.

Lauren plays her best defensive game, but she’s no match for the dark-eyed goalie. When the field of play moves to Florida, things heat up on the beach.

One of Mike’s biggest fans doesn’t approve—his teenage daughter. But a true competitor knows not to waste the perfect shot at love.

Review

PIPE DREAMS is a second-chance romance between Lauren and Mike, who broke up two years before due to a personal issue Mike had to deal with.  I won’t lie, how Mike ended their relationship years ago was all kinds of wrong, but then I guess there wouldn’t be a story if he had ended things the right way.

“Who’s the only one who really harmed me?”
“I am.”
“Good guess! And two years later I’m still waiting for the only apology that ever mattered.”

Due to Lauren’s cold and unfriendly demeanor in the previous two books, I was worried I wouldn’t like her in her own story.  But after being in her head for a few pages, I wasn’t worried anymore.  We find out why she acts the way she does—and I could certainly understand it—but in this book her demeanor does a complete 180, which is normally great, but I felt it changed too quickly and easily.  I liked Mike; he’s a nice guy and a good dad, but he didn’t make me swoon.  I admired the reason behind his breakup with Lauren, but again, he could have handled it so much better.

Even two years later, one glance at him made her remember how quickly her love had been thrown away.  Like yesterday’s trash.

Just like the change in Lauren’s behaviour, I felt their relationship was rekindled too easily.  Yes, Lauren tells Mike exactly how badly he hurt her, and they don’t come together until the second half of the book (from memory), but they fall into bed and then fall back into a relationship without any real discussion, while making a huge life changing decision.

PIPE DREAMS is told in dual POVs and while it’s part of a series, it can be read as a stand-alone.  The story includes flashbacks to when they first dated, and I don’t know why but I had a hard time following the switch between the past and present.  I know it sounds like I didn’t enjoy PIPE DREAMS, but I really did.  It held my attention and Lauren and Mike are both likeable characters.  It’s just that after several days between reading it and reviewing it, these are the points that stand out the most.  We get a lovely HEA for Lauren and Mike, and it looks like we’ve seen some progress in the potential relationship between Nate and Becca.  Nate seems like such a geeky sweetheart and I know I’m not the only one who’d love to see their story.

Pipe Dreams (Brooklyn Bruisers # 3)

My Rating:  

Buy LinksAmazon | iBooks

Visit Sarina Bowen:  Click Here


Brooklyn Bruisers Series