Rock Solid – Carly Phillips & Erika Wilde

 

A very sweet, old-fashioned love story. An upstanding man, with good reputation, good job, successful, from good family and upbringing. Connor’s returning from a business trip and is detained in Denver on the way to his hometown Chicago. There’s a snow storm coming and his flight was postponed. He meets a woman at the airport that attracts him immediately. There’s something sexy and sad about her and her big brown eyes. When he goes to find something to eat, the only seat available is next to her, so they share a meal and she shares her sorry story.

Katie went to Denver to surprise her boyfriend of eight months, to see if she could give a boost to their failing romance. She was the one who got surprised when she found a woman in his room. Now she’s reassessing her bad luck and bad choices in men. She sees Connor as a rebound screw, one night of pleasure with no names and no phone numbers. Connor is a relationship guy, he likes to get to know the woman he sleeps with, enjoy the intimacy, etc. but he made an exception with Katie. They have a night full of pleasure and next morning, she disappeared on him, only leaving a note.

Fast forward three years and she sees an article about him and his realty business. The article gives his information so she contacts him and gives him a big surprise: you have a three-year old daughter. Since Connor is a stand up guy, he immediately wants to know his little girl, he wants to get involved in her life and assume his responsibilities. I loved the scene when he meets Val, his baby girl. She has huge blue eyes, just like his, and looks just like his sister when she was that age. He’s enthralled with his daughter, just like with Katie.

Katie came from a divorced family. Her parents divorced when she was four, and were involved in years of litigation, using her as a pawn. They weren’t fighting for her because they loved her but because they wanted to punish the other parent. Because of this, Katie doesn’t have a good view of marriage and her previous relations that crashed and burned have made her extra wary of getting involved with another man. She is falling in love with Connor and is glad to obtain a family for her daughter and herself but her doubts keep her from accepting the love of this man.

The book is predictable but very well written and with great pace. I found it a little meh because here is no angst or strong emotional content, just a woman who needed a kick in her butt to realize that if she didn’t act, she could very well lose the best partner she could ever hope for. There’s Connors’ parents, his sister and husband, and Katie’s friend, Avery with her daughter Leah who is Val’s best friend. They all form a circle of supportive friends who give a family sense to the story. Connor calls his daughter every day at the same hour, just before her bath time and chats with her for a while. The constancy goes a long way to establish love in the little girl. All this actions point to a rock solid man with good intentions. It doesn’t hurt that he’s sexy and charming too. Great story, family values.

Posted in ARC sent by promoters, Contemporary, Second Chance | Leave a comment

Spider – Ilsa Madden-Mills

 

I loved this book! It has one angsty teenager with emotional issues and another one who came from the wrong side of the tracks but is determined to be someone. The angsty teenager is broken but the will to be worthy of his girl moves him to overcome his issues. Lovely! This book has second chances and third chances etc.  It was really riveting!

Rose and Spider meet for the first time when Rose is eleven years old and Spider is sixteen. Rose is living in a neighborhood outside of Dallas, Texas, called Tin Town because of the junkyards. Her mother is a drug addict and her boyfriend Lyle is mean and dangerous. At ten years old, she had been well brought up by her granny. When her granny died, she was left at her mother’s charge, and now she knows when she should disappear to escape danger. One such night, she escapes from Lyle who was up to no good, and wanders around town. She watched this beautiful boy exchange drugs for money. He finds her looking and when he asks what she’s doing in bad surroundings she says she’s hungry and gives her $300. Then he writes his phone number on her arm with a sharpie and instructs her to call him whenever she’s in danger. This leaves an indelible memory in Rose’s brain.

Four years later, they meet again, in a plane flying from New York City to Dallas. Rose is now a seventeen year old student, adopted by Anne, a Dallas philanthropist. Spider is the singer in a rock band, Vital Rejects, and leads a life of booze, drugs and women. He’s cocky and brazen. He’s on the way to visit his father and meet his new stepmother and stepsister. Rose is returning from visiting a girlfriend in NYU, where she hopes to attend college. They meet and flirt and kiss. They feel something special, but didn’t recognize each other from their previous encounter. Then they crash and burn because Spider always screws things up, even though he felt Rose was different and special. Spider has been broken by his past: his sister died when he was thirteen, his mother left him and his father, then his father dumped him in a boarding school when he needed him the most. As a result, Spider never gets involved, never gives his heart, never calls a girl after one-night-stands. He doesn’t get attached to anyone.

When they arrive in Dallas, they find out their parents are married to each other, they are step-siblings! They have also been warned not to get involved: Spider has a crazy life and Rose is on the way to college to study psychology. They can’t resist the attraction and it ends in flames. They keep meeting every few years, but Spider is not ready. Rose took up with a guy from her high school and moves to New York to study. Spider always knows where she is and what she’s up to, but he needs to get clean to be worthy of her.

I loved this story. Rose was a girl with direction, she knew what she wanted and she went to get it. She fought for Spyder but he screwed things up so royally that she gave up on him. What she didn’t now is that he made a pact with his father to let her be so she could move on to achieve her goals. He watched her from afar and hurt because he didn’t have his girl with him. Meanwhile, she hurt because she missed him, but made do with what she had. I loved her living arrangement in New York with best gay friend Oscar, who cooked great breakfasts on Sundays. I didn’t like her boyfriend Trenton and his bitchy friends Aria and Garrett. I waited impatiently for Spider to sort his stuff so he could go after his girl. And I loved that Spider got a second chance with his father and established a good relation with frequent visits and calls.

I liked the format of the story, it doesn’t happen in a successive manner, but with intervals, with years in-between where the characters have progressed in their careers. Rose went on to doctoral studies and Spyder achieved fame with his rock band. Rose was very straightforward, she was a tough kid from the wrong side of the city who got adopted into a rich family, given a makeover, and got to achieve high goals. Spyder had the rougher road, he had to overcome his emotional issues and physical addictions, but his success in getting there is a testament of his love for Rose. Sweet!!!

Posted in ARC sent by promoters, Contemporary, Rockstar, Second Chance | Leave a comment

 

Triciana made a huge mistake when she was sixteen and in love: she let her boyfriend film her while they were making love. Later the video was streamed all over internet and her reputation destroyed. It was so bad that her family had to move from Virginia to Connecticut so she could start over. Nine years later, she’s living in New York with her friend Kelli, not too happy with her job and not too happy with her boyfriend. Then suddenly, in the middle of a class two hurricane, she gets a message from Ella Davis, a former best friend, asking her to look into her brother Jackson Davis, who had an accident and was in a New York hospital and could die alone. This Jackson is the boyfriend who had filmed her naked and streamed the video to internet.  However, Ella was her best friend from years ago, and the idea that a boy she used to love could die alone moved Trish to go see to him.

When she gets to the hospital, she finds he’s not dying but is seriously injured. Apparently it was a party gone wild. He’s the guitarist of a rock band that is having some success, and he’s living the rock star life. When he wakes up, they converse and he tries to explain and apologize for what happened. Trish has a moment where she gets out her anger over what happened and how he ruined her life. How she has panic attacks and is so fearful and will not take any chances. They get to a point where they carry a civil conversation, then he’s taken to the operating room and Trish leaves.

After this, Trish decides to follow her roommate to her new job location, Hawaii, and has been living there for a few months. She’s working there as a concierge and gets a surprise. Jackson arrives and stays at one of the big suites which means Trish has to take care of all his requests. He states his purpose: he wants to spend time with Trish and get them to know each other again. Trish is not happy! At first Trish tries to scare him into leaving but he conquers all her challenges, so she hunkers down and spends real-time with Jax. They start to communicate and a lot of things come out. It’s explained how the video was streamed and made public, through a friend of Jax who acted without authorization. She learns the consequences he faced with his family. Trish realizes the huge weight of guilt Jax has been carrying and how it affected his life too. In a way, it was like a clarification and a cleansing of causes, effects and guilt. Forgiveness is achieved and they feel free of the burden of their past and can move on.

Then something horrible happens and they face all the chaos again. I loved this book because of the nuances of feelings. Trish is learning the hula dance with a co-worker’s grandmother. The hula is a spiritual dance, full of stories about spirits. She is a strong influence on Trish and helps her and Jax uncover their feelings and deal with them. Trish has a group of new friends who give her support and help her deal with Jax, first in scaring him, later befriending him and helping him.

Jax has always loved Trish and when he lost her in this disastrous way, he went on a downward spiral. He then found the rock group and was writing songs and having a somewhat life, but always living a crazy life of women and booze, always missing Trish, always feeling the guilt. Trish’s visit in the hospital was the turning point in both their lives so they could make something good from the shambles of their lives. I loved that! It’s redemption at its best.

In the beginning, I didn’t love Trish but later saw that she’s a timid soul, afraid of taking chances.  I liked Jax, I could feel his deep feelings for Trish and his feelings of not being worthy due to their past.  I liked how the author made flashbacks to explain what happened in the past.  The use of italics was great to prevent confusion.  The inserts of the flashbacks were also placed in the right places, when the reader needed the explanation.  Also, the pace of the book was great, it didn’t lag and the author knew to keep it interesting with the antics of Benji.

Posted in ARC sent by promoters, Contemporary, Second Chance | Leave a comment

The Outliers – TM Frazier

 

So, we finally have the sequel to The Outskirts. The first book didn’t exactly finish in a cliffhanger because we did have our HEA, but there was unfinished business with Sawyer’s father, the evil Richard Dixon. He was a menace about to happen because his church was about to hit town and there was no doubt in Sawyer’s mind that it was deliberate, and he would come looking for her.

There was another huge surprise at the end of The Outskirts, and that was that Sawyer’s mom, Caroline was alive and that’s where we the readers were left hanging. And that’s where this book starts. Her mother had been alive and living in Critter’s home all this time. Sawyer didn’t know whether to be happy, angry or sad. But that was her mom right in front, so she couldn’t help but go give her a hug. Except, her mom wasn’t behaving right. Turned out, all her tribulations had affected her mind and she was suffering from some kind of PTSD and her mind was not all there all the time, but reverted back to twenty years ago.

In this book, Sawyer and Finn are already an established couple, so the plot deals mostly with Sawyer reconnecting with her mother and learning who exactly was Richard Dixon and how it all related. In a rare moment of clarity, Caroline told Sawyer her whole story, from being raised on the church, promised to Richard, escaping to the Outskirts and meeting Critter. Everything Sawyer thought she knew about herself turned out to be a lie, that her mother perpetrated to keep Sawyer safe while living in the church community. Even Sawyer’s name is related to the Outskirts. There’s a lot of information given to Sawyer, enough to overwhelm anyone.

The Church of Light finally arrives in town and Sawyer and Caroline are heavily guarded by Finn, Critter and all their friends Josh and Miller. One woman from the church, the only person Sawyer considered a friend within the church, makes contact with Sawyer and leaves her a strange clue related to Richard Dixon. Sawyer wanted to help her get out but she remained loyal to her husband, even with the abuse.

sI don’t want to spoil the action in this book. Suffice to say that Finn and Sawyer get closer as a couple, Sawyer learns about her true parentage, and faces the danger that Richard Dixon presents. They surge stronger at the end, and everyone is together and happy, the end.

The book was riveting and suspenseful. With every page turn, I expected the bad guy to pounce, so I kept turning pages fast. Everything, and I mean everything is connected at the end, even names, the author did a great job in all the inter-connections. There was a great scene I liked where Miller was sick and Josh was taking care of him that was hilarious. Miller was such a whiney baby. With tender scenes, sexy scenes, funny scenes, the author wrote a book that was very entertaining. I told my daughter about the plot of the story and she said it sounded very far-fetched. And yet, the author made it sound so normal and real, I guess this is the gift of writers, make a far-fetched story sound believable and have us enjoy it.

Posted in ARC sent by promoters, Contemporary, Suspense | Leave a comment

A Steel Heart – Amy Knight

 

A truly delicious book! Great characters and great story about a guy who is recovering from catastrophic injuries. It depicts the limbo that veterans stay in, after retiring from active duty, and the uncertainty of their future when they have injuries that limit their options.

Miranda Mae has the life she wants. After a childhood in which her mother constantly insulted and demeaned her, she was strong enough that she made the life she wanted to have and she’s happy in her body, her work, and her friends. She has a no-pants rule, which means that when she’s in her apartment, she doesn’t wear any pants, unless she has visitors. She’s a little overweight but doesn’t care because she “needs” donuts in her life. She has a very close friend Ainsley, who lives with her other best friend Adrian. She also has a little friend, aged eight, called Will, who loves to hang with her when his mom has to work overtime. They eat junk food and play Nintendo. They are best buds.

One day a stranger moves into the apartment next to her, and Miranda has a big crush. He’s so yummy, she has to stalk him from her windows. She knows his routine, so she’s in place at her window in the morning, when he leaves for his walk, and in the afternoon, when he leaves for what we later learn is his therapy hour. She’s happy with her crush-from-a-distance and her stalkerish watching, resisting Ainsley’s prods into introducing herself to the guy.

Holden Steel was in active duty in Afghanistan and during one mission he stepped on an IED. As he’s being carried to a helicopter, his best friend who was literally carrying him to safety, was shot down. Then he was submerged into a hell that lasted six months and he’s now, a retired military, bitter, angry, lost. Until one day he catches his neighbor as she came rushing around a corner, he barks at her and she says: Okay. They have a few other encounters where he continues to act like a jerk, but one day at the coffee shop, he does something extraordinary. Miranda was being berated by her mother and he stepped in and defended her, making her mother scoot away.

After this she decides that he needs a walking companion and she starts joining him for his morning walks. And slowly a friendship is born, that gets to be so important to both of them. Hold was incapable of smiling after the atrocities he had lived, but somehow, Miranda woke up his desire to smile and when he did for the first time, she freaked because he has a dimple, which she declared not fair to womanhood. It’s a panty melter LOL.

What ensues next is a delicious romp of a crazy Miranda and a needy Hold who finds someone who alleviates his sorrow. There are places where he won’t go in their conversations, but he needs Miranda in his life. Miranda is a big heart, and she somehow knows what Hold needs before he realizes it. There are beautiful scenes in the beach, at the NICU where they both cuddle premie babies, play dates with Will, where Hold and Will have a hysterically funny competition for the attentions of Miranda. It turns out that Miranda was a much better therapy for Hold than the formal therapy sessions. Of course, not everybody approves of Holden and they try to boycott their relation. Holden feels like he’s not worthy of Miranda, she’s gorgeous, kind, had a huge heart, helps everyone, gives books to the local library for the enjoyment of others; while he’s broken, unemployed, has no direction in his life and he’s still bitter with this life.

I had a great time reading this book. I loved the sassiness in Hold and Miranda’s dialogues, she was great in cutting him to size, calling to his grumpiness. I loved how Hold opened up to life and love and recognized that he does have a lot to live for. The secondary characters were great, but the one I loved the most was Harper, Hold’s sister, because she was so loud and foul-mouthed, yet such a great friend and sister. And above all, Hold and Will’s antics and competition for the love of Miranda. Will was a riot, loved him!

 

Posted in ARC sent by promoters, Contemporary, Military | Leave a comment

Breaking Hollywood – Samantha Towle

 

The best part of this book was Gucci the goat! I loved this crazy funny pigmy goat and her wardrobe! Apart from this, it’s a Hollywood story, with a hot bad boy and funny Ava, who broke his foot with a little lightweight car LOL.

The day the book starts, Ava was just fired from her job. Some days prior, she had broken up with her boyfriend, but that was no big loss. And as of the next day, she was also going to be homeless. Seemed like to much for a woman to take, so she understandably broke up when she left her ex-job and got into her mini car. She gave reverse and felt a bump in the parking floor. Funny, she didn’t know there was a bump and looked and saw she had stepped on a guy!

Like the responsible person she is, she got out of the car and wow! It was Hollywood’s bad boy Gabriel Evans. Except he was no darling. Foul mouthed, sarcastic and annoying, they bickered all the way to the hospital, during their stay in the hospital, while his little brother the doctor treated him, and after he was released, all the way to his apartment, where she was going to watch for him. Since she was jobless, she offered to help him while he had the boot, as that was the least she could do. They kept up the insults, but it turned into a game they both enjoyed. Then comes the surprise of Gucci’s appearance. Since Ava was evicted from her apartment for having a goat, Gabe decided to accept the goat into his house. The goat was more entertaining than any animal, especially the morning Gucci decided to headbutt him for a while until Ava came to the rescue.  I loved all the clothes Gucci wore, like the fruity pajamas and the tigersese coat.

Gabe was Ava’s crush from the first time she saw one of his movies. After she saw how nasty he could be, she lost her crush. But as days go by, and she realized that beneath the crusty exterior lies a decent person, she starts to appreciate him. Likewise, Gabe likes that Ava gives as good as she gets and doesn’t take crap from him. Really, their dialogues sometimes seemed like two six-year olds bickering. They were very entertaining.

Things heat up and they get cozy. But then information from Gabe’s past comes up that could harm his reputation. Ava has no way of proving she wasn’t the informer. But she has friends who support her and they rally around her to help. Gabe is fast to get mad but also fast to get repentant. Ava has one big word to describe her: kind. She is kind, understanding, quirky and loves her goat like it was her family.

This was an even-keeled book, where we don’t get angsty scenes that make you cry, but it’s a very entertaining book about two crazy persons who are perfect for each other, together with the fantastic Gucci. And the smexy scenes were crazy good too!

Posted in ARC from NetGalley, Contemporary, Famous person, Hollywood, Humorous | Leave a comment

Hooking Up – Helena Hunting

 

Every book that this author writes is crazy funny. This book starts with such a hysterically funny scene it had me in stitches from the get go. Also, in Shakespearean terms, she writes tragic comedy because in the middle of the most hysterical scene, there’s incredible sadness and disappointment.

Amalie first met Lexington Mills. She saw in him what she saw in her previous boyfriends, a bad boy, good for a crazy fling. However, the attraction was strong. His mistake was to go away to get her a drink. Armstrong Mills swooped in, invited her to dance, and bad-mouthed Lexington.

One year later, it’s Amalie’s wedding day to Armstrong. Then comes the incredibly funny scene where in the reception a malfunctioning speaker allows everyone on the hall to listen as a woman gives Armstrong a blow job. Everyone gets to hear all the grunts, moans, foul language, and the grand finale of the climax. Except that during all this time, Amalie, the new bride, was at the head banquet table, waiting for the speeches to start. Chaos ensues, and Amalie’s best friend and maid of honor, Ruby, helps Amalie escape from the hall. She runs into the bridal suite, where she finds Lexington on the way to get drunk. She attacks him, going for a revenge f@ck, and tells him the famous words: I’m going to f@ck you and you’re going to like it. It was a priceless scene, in the funny element, but also tragic, because Amalie is dying of shame, anger, humiliation, and disappointment in her choice of a husband. See where the tragic comedy label applies? I loved this scene, but also felt immensely sad for Amalie.

Lex behaved in an extraordinarily kind and tender way with Amalie, extracting himself from her tight grasp and helps get her out of the hotel and into a car to escape the horror. Later on, Ruby convinces Amalie to go on her honeymoon trip, sans Armstrong, so she can escape from the social scandal. She gets numerous texts, emails and calls from Armstrong and his mother, who think this is just a mishap and they can work it out, yeah right. So Amalie escapes and surprise! Finds Lexington is also going to Bora Bora.

Lexington feels bad about Amalie. It was his plus one at the wedding, Brittany Thorton, happily nicknamed Whore-ton, who served the infamous blow job to Armstrong. His mother is friends with Whore-ton’s mother and had insisted on Lex inviting her. Now both Lex and his parents feel mortified and guilty. They determine that it was better if Lex takes a business trip to visit some of their hotels and improve on their efficiency and stay away from the scandal, too. Armstrong and Lexington are cousins and have a long-established competition that through the years has turned into a dark and unhealthy obsession on Armstrong’s part. To the point that anything that Lex shows an interest in, Armstrong swoops in and takes away, including women. So, since Lex was seen helping Amalie escape, it was deemed best that he make himself scarce for a while.

I won’t spoil what happens during the honeymoon and after. It was a honeymoon but not between the married couple. Amalie decides to get back to her normal character and turn into Anarchy Amie and Lex falls in love with her crazy and fun persona. Amalie realizes that Lex is not the bad person Armstrong described, but a tender, fun, understanding man who gets her, like Armstrong never would. Sex between them is explosive, dirty, swinging-from-the-chandeliers monkey-sex, and we get many scenes where this is described.

Amie and Lex face many challenges: her best friend Ruby is engaged to Lex’s brother Bancroft, Armstrong is family and their mothers have a hate/love relationship, plus business-wise the social scandal can affect Lex’s father’s empire. They had thought to just have a fling but their feelings were too involved and the obstacles were too strong. It was a book fraught with funny scenes, angsty scenes, Amalie is shown battling with her self-doubts as she recognized her true feelings towards Armstrong. She realizes the real reasons why she married him and is dealing with her emotions. Her emotions are all over the place and Lex is very considerate, letting Amie set the pace.

I loved the book and loved the characters. This author’s characters are a little bit crazy, a little bit funny and a little bit emotional, but mostly they are perfectly flawed humans who deal with life as best they can.

Posted in ARC sent by promoters, Contemporary, Humorous, Second Chance | Leave a comment

Most Eligible Bastard – Annika Martin

 

The plot of this book is crazy but funny! Imagine an old lady who dies and leaves a huge empire to her little dog, and appoints Vicky, her “dog whisperer”, as the dog’s guardian!

Vicky had fled to New York, escaping a harrowing moment in her teenage years, and is hiding with her younger sister, under false identities and documents. She impersonates as a dog whisperer in a fair as a favor to a friend, and ends up with Bernadette Locke as her stalker. This old lady was relentless in pursuing Vicky to act as her little dog’s interpreter, until Vicky took pity on the lady who lived alone and started to visit with her and act as “dog whisperer”.  She used the opportunities to help the lady since she lived in shabby conditions and seemed to have been abandoned by her only son.

When the old lady is admitted to the hospital, Vicky smuggles the little dog to visit with her. In one of those instances, the son, Henry Locke, happened to visit too, and accuses her of trying to impress and gain favor from the lady, as if she wants money from her. Vicky instantly falls into hate with this guy, who is one of those “filthy-rich entitled men” whom she hates due to her past traumatic experience.

When the lady dies and leaves the control of the Locke Industries to Smuckers, via Vicky’s guardianship, Vicky is forced to join the Board of Trustees of the empire. Vicky is at times intimidated and other times irritated by the behavior of the board members, especially Brett, who is openly hostile to Vicky.  One crazy scene I loved was when Vicky had a throne made for Smuckers, very detailed and enameled in pink, and brings it to the board room, so Smuckers has a place to sit.  She has mimes bring the throne to the board room and makes a ceremony of rearranging chairs and installing Smuckers at the head of the table.  Priceless!!

Vicky sometimes cowers and other times gets aggravated and uses her “dog whisperer” voice to issue commands that are supposedly coming from Smuckers. She uses this ploy to get out of sticky situations where the board members try to get advantage. Little by little Henry gets to know her and starts to discover that she is genuine. Her quirky personality intrigues him and they start to work as a team. Vicky sometimes lets herself be charmed by Henry and other times gets aggravated by his entitled behavior such that she nicknames him Henry Kool-aid Locke.  Over time, Vicky realizes that Henry’s passion is to construct buildings with heart.  She realizes he’s not just a playboy or entitled businessman, but an architect with vision who had lived a sheltered life.  When he visits her work-space, he’s fascinated with all the characters who work there and their different expressions of art and crafts.

This was a fun book to read. I loved how the author developed the love story and slowly opened up tidbits on Henry’s childhood so we can understand the strange relation he had with his mother. We also learn a little about Vicky’s past, her real name and her family situation, but the whole package comes clear late in the book. As compared with other books, this author did a stellar work in developing the back stories in a manner that I never lacked knowledge or was confused by the development of the plot. This book never lagged, never bored, had a great pace and great characters. Some associates from Vicky’s work environment provided great local color. It was interesting, fun, and Smuckers was a little darling who only lived for snacks and cuddles.

Posted in ARC sent by promoters, Billionaire, Contemporary, Enemies to Lovers, Humorous | Leave a comment

Fault Lines – Rebecca Shea

 

What a sad book! I thought it would start in a breakup and work its way into a second chance romance, but this book was a tragedy all along. The heroine truly cried a river of tears! Instead of a second chance romance, I think this book should be classifies as a third or fourth second chance romance. I was feeling pity for the poor guy because I thought he would never get a break LOL.

Cole and Frankie were friends since they were eleven years old, later became sweethearts and later lovers. Frances (called Franny by her family, Frankie by Cole) was studying law, and had plans to come back for Cole so they could leave their itty bitty town and have a great life. Until one day she took her finals early and came back home to heartbreak. She left the town, left her mother, with no plans to ever return. She left a brokenhearted mother and a brokenhearted boyfriend behind.

Ten years later, Franny is a successful lawyer in LA. She has a career she loves, is engaged to a lawyer who had been her mentor when she started working, and had just won an important case in court. This case took a heavy toll on her, physically and emotionally. When she gets home, she gets a surprise call from Cole, regarding her mother. She leaves straightaway.

When Franny arrives, she finds her mother had suffered a stroke. She had nurses taking care of her and physical therapists already hired to help her mother back to help. All was arranged by Cole, who loved her like a second mother. Her sister Faith was on vacation and arrived soon to help on the recovery.

Franny didn’t want to be in Crescent Ridge because Cole lives right across the street and she doesn’t want to see him, ever. However, she understands the need to stay until her mother’s medical care is underway and sorted.

Cole is suffering from a staggering load of guilt, regret, unrequited love, and a lot of yearning for the woman he loves. There were lies involved in the apparent unfaithful act, all designed so Franny would leave and make a better life without him. After the act, he realized what an idiot he was, and like a true idiot, instead of going after the woman he loves, he fell into a downward spiral of booze and women. Now that Frankie is back, he’s determined to make things right and tell the truth.

The truth led to another heartbreak, and this is where the plot really unravels and goes downhill. Even though they were making amends and slowly getting to a place where they could be together, another bomb falls that drove them apart. The book would have been better with a fraction of the heartbreak shown. Even though the story made sense, in a way, it was too negative all the time. The positive moments came from the heartfelt love and support that Frankie got from her mother, her sister and her best friend. Even so, all their dialogues were tinted with the drama of Frankie and Cole.

I liked Franny, I felt she fell in love forever with Cole and even though she made a life in another city, with another man, she would always love Cole. She just buried her feelings and made the best of what she had. When she got back home, she evaded him because she didn’t see any sense in reliving an old tragedy. She was feisty and emotional and guarded her feelings well.

Cole, on the other hand, was an idiot. Instead of facing his girlfriend and giving her a choice, he makes up a lie, then when she comes back and they face the consequences of his actions, he has a hissy fit. This felt like a soap opera, where the drama goes on and on and on. I had no sympathy for his character, although he redeemed himself by working to improve his town, adding necessary jobs to the community, buying and rebuilding structures for new businesses and helped make the town more prosperous than before.

Cole and Franny had a best friend Carter, who was always the voice of wisdom whenever their dramas increased to a high pitch. I think Carter and Faith were the wisest of all the characters in this story.

Posted in Contemporary, Purchased by blogger, Second Chance, Small town romance | Leave a comment

It’s Only Acting – Jackson Kane

 

A great plot, I love Hollywood stories even though IMO it needs editing. This one didn’t have a lot of action in a movie set and it didn’t have a hunky movie star but it was ok, because it had a hunky bodyguard. Olivia Ward belongs to a legendary Hollywood family. Her father, Devlin Ward, comes from Hollywood royalty, and so he expects and demands a certain behavior from Olivia. The result: she’s shy, introverted, invisible in the school, but shines in the school theatre club.

Bastien is a military brat, he moved constantly, according to where his father is next stationed. So, he never makes close connections with friends because he knows he will go away and never see them again. When he arrives at school, he becomes one of the bad boys of the school, involved in drinking and whoring. Even so, he noticed Olivia from the start and watched her discreetly. When she was present in the gym, he always won in the wrestling matches, so he called her his lucky charm, and insisted that she attend all of his matches. Their relation was further strengthened by a tragedy in which Olivia helped Dax overcome his sadness.

Olivia was slowly opening up to Dax and they were becoming heavily involved until on the night of their prom, things went downhill with the intervention of her father. Dax disappears and six years later, he comes back to protect Olivia.

Olivia is now an actress, through no help from her father. She persevered and is making something of herself in this world. When she got involved with another actress and started to look for movie roles different from what her father liked, he strikes against her in the press and took control of her finances.

The situation at the start of the book was that there had been an intent against her father’s life and as a result, she was assigned a bodyguard. And the bodyguard was non other than Bastien, her high school crush who had broken her heart. And here is where things get hazy. Olivia goes to a hotel to see her father who had been attacked. In the hotel room, there is Bastien, Olivia, her father Devlin and her stepmother Trish. In that first scene we learn that Trish was Bastien’s and Olivia’s high school English teacher, she also was Bastien’s guardian, and also Olivia’s stepmother. Convoluted much? I had a hard time unravelling the plot, because the action is a little inconsistent presenting backflashes to the past, then to the present. Even with the important information given during the backflashes, a lot of information is omitted until the end. There were also things that didn’t click for me. For example, that Devlin had worked on projects with Trish and that is how they connect and later marry. How come, since Devlin took little interest in Olivia’s life except to keep strict control of her actions? Devlin at one time froze Olivia’s bank accounts, even though Olivia is twenty-three years old. That didn’t make sense to me, it even seemed illegal.

Bastien as a character was great. He never stopped loving Olivia, he only stayed away because he felt he didn’t deserve her and only came back to protect her. He has a serious self-worth problem, and truly felt that Olivia was better off without him. He was now committed to keep her safe until the attacker was apprehended. Yet, living near Olivia brought back all his strong feeling for her and made staying apart difficult.

Olivia was a difficult character. In the beginning she was tiresome in her anger and complaining. I got she was being defensive because Bastien still got to her. However, while she was so nasty and sassy with Bastien, she was a total wimp with her father. I didn’t have a lot of sympathy for her because she didn’t seem to be able to stand on her feet. There was another situation in a film audition and later on during the filming, where she was being trod upon by other male professionals and she didn’t seem to be able to tell them off. I felt zero admiration for her, while I felt impressed by the depth of feelings in Bastien.

The love story was great, the general story was great, but the sex scenes were a bit too much and too frequent. I felt it took away the romance from the love story between Bastien and Olivia. Also, the start of the book was somewhat disorganized and I had a hard time figuring out the who and the why of the actions. It wasn’t until the end that things completely clicked and I had to re-read the beginning to make sense of what I had learned at the end. Again, the author is promising but needs to hone his craft a little bit. Even so, great read!

Posted in ARC sent by author, Contemporary, Friends to Lovers, Hollywood, Second Chance | Leave a comment