Review: The Striker’s Chance by Rebecca Crowley

The Striker's Chance by Rebecca CrowleyFormat read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Sports Romance
Release Date: September 2, 2013
Number of pages: 149 pages
Publisher: Carina Press
Formats available: ebook, audiobook
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website | Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Publisher’s Website

Landing the PR contract for North Carolina’s new soccer team could take Holly Taylor’s career to the next level. Her task? Make Kepler “Killer” de Klerk, an athlete with a party-hard reputation, a star. But revamping the sexy footballer’s image while battling her unwanted attraction to him is easier said than done.

The car accident that derailed Kepler’s European career also gave him some much-needed perspective. He’s ready to give up on fame and focus on the game he loves. The last thing he needs is a headstrong brunette pushing him back into the spotlight, even if butting heads with her is the most fun he’s had in ages.

The more time Holly spends with Kepler, the more she sees how different he is from his tabloid persona. But when she’s offered her dream job for a price, she finds herself torn between the career she’s spent years building and the man she doesn’t want to give up.

My Thoughts:

A sports romance set in North Carolina about soccer instead of NASCAR. What a surprise!

Hey, a sports romance set in the U.S. about soccer instead of football. An even bigger surprise!

On the other hand, because the book is about soccer instead of football, or any other sport that USians are familiar with, the title kind of lays an egg. On the other hand, the cover, while featuring yet another infamous headless torso, represents an event that takes place in the story. (Also looks yummy.)

About the story…

This is a contemporary romance about a female sports PR specialist who has to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. Not exactly, but close enough. It’s not that “Killer” de Klerk isn’t pretty enough (back to that cover picture again) but his off the field reputation is “party all the time” and the “Killer” nickname sums up his on the field rep.

His off the field antics ended in an automobile accident that nearly ended his career and got him kicked off his old team and out of Europe. The new team in North Carolina is his last chance to play the game he loves before either time or the accumulation of injuries bring his career to a close.

Holly Taylor’s brilliant idea is to turn Killer back into Kepler de Klerk. To make him a bit more family friendly, but mostly to showcase him as a leader and integrate him into the team and the community.

Kepler finds himself making a home in Charlotte, and a place for himself with his new team. He’s the star, but it’s his experience that proves a genuine treasure, as he teaches the young team not just how to play, but also how to win.

And while he makes himself at home in Charlotte, he gets to spend more time with Holly, who proves to be the most compelling reason to love his new team. While Kepler starts to feel like he might have finally found a place where he belongs, the team’s owners have other plans–plans that Holly can’t share with him.

No matter what she feels about those plans. No matter what she might feel for him.

Verdict: This is a solid contemporary sports romance. It doesn’t break any new ground, except maybe for the hero being a soccer player instead of something more usual for an American audience. Also, it’s interesting that Kepler is South African and not from one of the more typical European countries for a non-US background.

While the chemistry in this romance wasn’t off-the-charts, it was definitely there from the beginning, and in a very plausible way. I actually liked that things developed naturally and we didn’t get treated to unrealistic insta-anything.

The development of Kepler’s character, from someone who was used to getting things handed to him and didn’t want to be there, to someone who became a real leader and coach, was well done.

One of the things I liked about Holly was that she was unapologetically devoted to her career. She understood herself and that she put her career first. She’d sacrificed some relationships to that and it was something she understood about herself. Men do this all the time, in romance novels and in life, and it was great to see a woman do the same thing.

The one thing that detracted from the story was the big misunderstandammit. It made sense that Holly would hold off on a relationship with Kepler because getting involved with a client was definitely a conflict of interest. But the whole underhanded business with the team owners seemed very contrived as a way of creating tension.


I give  The Striker’s Chance by Rebecca Crowley 3 and ½ stars!

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Review: A Spy to Die For by Kris DeLake

Spy to Die For by Kris DeLakeFormat Read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Number of Pages: 384 pages
Release Date: July 2, 2013
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Series: Assassins Guild #2
Genre: Science Fiction Romance
Formats Available: Mass Market Paperback, ebook
Purchasing Info: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Book Depository US | Book Depository (UK) | Author’s Website | Publisher’s Website | Goodreads

Book Blurb:

Jack Hunter is a double agent. Skye Jones is a pirate…or is that just a cover? One thing is for sure—neither of them are competent assasins. Thrown together on the Krell space station during an important Assassins Guild meeting, each is determined to get to the truth and prevent catastrophe. But when Jack and Skye are matched against two master killers, they find themselves caught in the crosshairs between their willingness to trust each other and the undeniable attraction coursing through them. Both knows that a long-term relationship is tough in their profession, but the chemistry they’ve got is too good to deny. Now all they have to do is stay alive.

My Thoughts:

Assassins in love by Kris DeLakeThis is either a sequel or a parallel-que (this needs to be a word, really) for DeLake’s Assassins In Love (reviewed at Reading Reality) It’s second in the series, and some of the events in Assassins in Love seem to have taken place before the start of A Spy to Die For, but the two stories end at very close to the same point in time.

It’s not as confusing as it sounds.

On my other hand, even though this story didn’t quite read as deliberately light-weight as Assassins in Love, it actually worked better. Or maybe there weren’t quite as many plates spinning.

DeLake’s gritty space opera world, there are two competing groups of contract assassins; the Guild and the Rovers. The Guild is considered to be slightly more fussy about the contracts they take than the Rovers. It seems like they get paid better, and they certainly train their agents better.

Of course, this story, like Assassins in Love, concerns a pair of operators who would normally work for the rival agencies. But not as assassins, hence the title. Skye and Jack are both researchers, they’re the recon agents who make sure that contracts are on the up-and-up.

Even in this less-than-bright future, not everyone who has a price on their head deserves killing. Skye and Jack do recon because Jack refused to be an assassin, and Skye refused to be good at it.

But Jack’s Rovers have decided that money is more important than the ethics they used to abide by, and the new leader of the Rovers has put out a contract on Jack for pointing out that they aren’t, well, the moral killers they used to be.

He’s one night too late. Skye met Jack first. And in spite of her need not to get involved or attached to anyone, she’s emotionally attached to the man she spent the best night of her life with. The gut instinct that has kept her alive tells her that Jack is a good man. And that even though everything about someone putting a contract out on him means that he’s been dealing with bad people, he’s still a good man.

So she helps him escape. She has her own reasons. The same man who put the contract out on Jack also accepted a contract from someone in her own Guild, and she knows that’s just wrong. Especially since the woman who gave him that contract is someone who has been disciplined. And is someone who has always been her enemy.

But their escape from the first trap leads them, not just to a long trip to places where they can get unregistered ships and even better unlicensed information–it’s also time for two people who aren’t sure that it’s okay to trust anyone to find out that they have much more than just amazing chemistry. They have a real partnership. All they have to do is live long enough to find out what that means.

Verdict: A Spy to Die For is much more of a straightforward science fiction romance than Assassins in Love was, and that’s a good thing. Jack and Skye meet cute in a pretty run-down space station burger joint, and have one perfect night. They may want more, put that’s all their lives have taught them to expect.

Then it all goes to hell. Skye’s experience of relationships is that everyone leaves her, something that started with her parents. She may want to try for something more, but her early experiences are all of abandonment, and life as a Guild spy doesn’t encourage involvement. And in their first night together, it’s not as if she and Jack can be candid about their work! They start out with a lot of lies of omission.

When they’re forced to rely on each other, the relationship builds slowly and hesitantly, which is the way it should be. Sex is easy, love, or even the ability to trust and rely on another person, is hard for both of them.

This was a story where the character creation was good. The world building had been done in the previous book. The plot was admittedly a bit on the thin side, but watching Skye and Jack reach towards each other made the story fun.

I give A Spy to Die for by Kris DeLake 3 and ½ stars.


***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Review: SEAL of Honor by Tonya Burrows

SEAL of Honor by Tonya BurrowsFormat read: ebook provided by the publisher
Series: HORNET, #1
Genre: Romantic Suspense, Military Romance
Release Date: May 28, 2013
Number of pages: 352 pages
Publisher: Entangled Select
Formats available: ebook, paperback
Purchasing Info: Author’s website | Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Book Depository US | Book Depository (UK) | Goodreads

It’s a good thing Gabe Bristow lives and breathes the Navy SEAL credo, “the only easy day was yesterday,” because today, his life is unrecognizable. When his prestigious career comes to a crashing halt, he’s left with a bum leg and few prospects for employment that don’t include a desk.

That is, until he’s offered the chance to command a private hostage rescue team and free a wealthy American businessman from Colombian paramilitary rebels. It seems like a good deal—until he meets his new team: a drunk Cajun linguist, a boy-genius CIA threat analyst, an FBI negotiator with mob ties, a cowboy medic, and an EOD expert as volatile as the bombs he defuses. Oh, and who could forget the sexy, frustratingly impulsive Audrey Van Amee? She’s determined to help rescue her brother—or drive Gabe crazy. Whichever comes first.

As the death toll rises, Gabe’s team of delinquents must figure out how to work together long enough to save the day. Or, at least, not get themselves killed.Because Gabe’s finally found something worth living for, and God help him if he can’t bring her brother back alive.

My Thoughts:

This team is a mess. The story, however, isn’t totally although it does have a few moments that are sticky when things shouldn’t be. And not-sticky when they should be.

<sigh> Let me explain…

Two Navy SEALs are forced to retire after a fairly mundane car accident, Gabe Bristow and Travis Quinn. If the only easy day for a SEAL was yesterday, it’s pretty clear that for Bristow, life was way easier as a member of SEAL Team Ten. For Quinn, not so much.

But it’s not Quinn’s book.

Bristow’s the one with the leadership qualities. He’s the guy who can make a SEAL team, or the bunch of highly qualified misfits that gets recruited by “HumInt Consulting Inc.” to become a private hostage rescue team, follow anybody’s orders willingly.

About those misfits, well, let’s just say that it’s really obvious there’s going to be a book about each one. For the purpose of this first story, the fact that these guys are all still jockeying to figure out whose ass is badder makes for a lot of laugh out loud moments…but it does interfere with the operation they’re supposed to be on.

It shows that the team is neither all military, which it isn’t, nor is it ready for the job it has been shoved into. The team’s story is how they pull together and get themselves out of really, really deep foo-foo without losing anyone.

Gabe Bristow’s story is learning to live with who he is now. His leg is busted up too bad for him to ever go back to being a SEAL. That’s why they retired him. This is his life, and he can still do a lot of good. He just has to accept that it is what it is.

Part of that acceptance comes in the package of Audrey Van Amee. She is the sister of the man his team is supposed to recover. She is also an asset. She speaks Spanish like a native, her brother was kidnapped in Colombia, and half of Bristow’s team doesn’t have any language skills.

Audrey not only throws herself into a lot of situations that she shouldn’t, she talks to herself about the fact that she’s walking or running or leaping headfirst into a situation that in the movies always ends up with the heroine getting captured or killed, but she does it anyway. Sometimes she seemed brave, and sometimes not.

SEAL of Honor wouldn’t be romantic suspense without the romance. So the sister of the kidnapping victim, meaning Audrey, and the leader of the rescue team, in the person of Gabe Bristow, naturally have way more chemistry together than they can manage to handle, in spite of, or maybe because of, the heightened tension of the situation they find themselves in.

And let’s not forget about the kidnapping. Bryson Van Amee was in the import/export business. The problem is that Bryson had been doing a little bit of dealing in, let’s call it the shady side of the business. He hadn’t quite reached the dark side yet, but he was getting there. So there are multiple gangs of bad dudes either involved with his kidnapping, killing off the dudes involved with his kidnapping, or threatening the possibility of his rescue from his kidnapping.

Verdict: On the sticky where it shouldn’t have been side, the heroine was not in the least bit squeamish about having sex with the hero in a hut in the jungle in the midst of being kidnapped at gunpoint by a bunch of drug-running thugs that she had seen murder several cops. And again in the house of a known drug-dealer, admittedly in more plush surroundings. On the not-sticky where it should have been side, she wasn’t willing to let Gabe use the violence necessary to let them escape from said murderous drug-running thugs.

The romance between Gabe and Audrey had a little too much insta-love in it for my taste. And the whole business where he decides that she doesn’t really love him, that it’s all just the intensity of the situation, drove me nuts. That is one of my least favorite misunderstandammit tropes.

One of Gabe’s team members is a Cajun named Jean-Luc. No, just no.

But the teambuilding aspect of the story, or rather the fact that they do one hell of a lot of fumbling and screwing up, that part was fun to read. It was great to read about a para-military team that does not have its act in gear.

The suspense part was pretty decent. There was so much double-faking going on, it took most of the book to figure out who was on first. All the bad guys blamed each other, and they kept the good guys (and the reader) plenty confused.


I give  SEAL of Honor by Tonya Burrows 3 and ½ stars!

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Review: Hold Me Down Hard by Cathryn Fox

Hold Me Down Hard by Cathryn FoxFormat read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: May 13, 2013
Number of pages: 48 pages
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Formats available: ebook
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website | Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Publisher’s Website

When Eden Carver, Iowa farm girl turned NY actress, decides to seduce the sexy cop next door, she begins to wonder if she’s bitten off more than she can chew.

The last thing Officer Jay Bennett wants is to cross a line with the sweet and innocent country girl—no matter how much he’d like to help himself to a nibble. Not only are they in the friendship zone, a naïve girl like Eden doesn’t belong in his dangerous world.

But when she asks him to help her rehearse lines, and things go from simmer to boil, he finds himself doing the one thing he swore he’d never do. He knows he needs to walk away from temptation, but when sweet little Eden bites back, it tilts his world on its axis.
Because biting back changes everything.

My Thoughts:

File this one under “extra short and extra steamy”.

At right around 50 pages, this is a short story. Let’s call it a sexy interlude. What makes the story work as erotic romance, instead of just porn-without-plot, is that the Eden and Jay know each other before the first page.

They’re neighbors, and they’re friends. Unfortunately, they are friends without benefits.

Jay is a cop, and he’s decided that sweet and innocent country girl Eden couldn’t possibly want to do the dark and wicked things he knows he’ll do to her if he lets her out of the “friend zone”.

Of course, he’s never asked Eden what she wants! He has no clue that all of Eden’s dates end up running away, because they decide she’s a pervert when she asks to be tied up.

Did I mention she has a uniform fetish?

Are these two made for each other, or are they made for each other?

Verdict: The story is a quick and very enjoyable read. The problem is that it is too short. We don’t learn anything about how they met, or how their friendship developed. It’s clear they’ve been interested in each other from the beginning, so how have they managed to get so easy with each other? And by easy in this case I mean get together for pizza and a movie every weekend easy, not the other kind.

The problem is that they both want the other kind of easy, with each other, and have managed to become close friends without figuring out clue one about each other. I’d love to have seen how that worked out.

And I’d love to know more about how they manage to get past the whole “he decides what’s good for her” thing in a longer story, and therefore longer relationship, but if you’re looking for something very short and hot with a happy-ever-after, this might be just the ticket.


I give  Hold Me Down Hard by Cathryn Fox 3 and 1/2 uniform blue stars!

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Review: Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris

Dead Ever After by Charlaine HarrisFormat read: ebook purchased from Amazon
Series: Sookie Stackhouse, #13
Genre: Urban fantasy
Release Date: May 7, 2013
Number of pages: 352 pages
Publisher: Penguin Publishing
Formats available: ebook, paperback, hardcover, audiobook
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website | Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Book Depository US | Book Depository (UK)

There are secrets in the town of Bon Temps, ones that threaten those closest to Sookie—and could destroy her heart….

Sookie Stackhouse finds it easy to turn down the request of former barmaid Arlene when she wants her job back at Merlotte’s. After all, Arlene tried to have Sookie killed. But her relationship with Eric Northman is not so clearcut. He and his vampires are keeping their distance…and a cold silence. And when Sookie learns the reason why, she is devastated.

Then a shocking murder rocks Bon Temps, and Sookie is arrested for the crime.

But the evidence against Sookie is weak, and she makes bail. Investigating the killing, she’ll learn that what passes for truth in Bon Temps is only a convenient lie. What passes for justice is more spilled blood. And what passes for love is never enough…

My Thoughts:

“I’m Sookie Stackhouse. I belong here.” THE END.

Except for the capitalized end, Sookie pretty much declaring that there’s no place like home really is the last line of Dead Ever After. We just had to read through 13 books to get there.

dead until dark by Charlaine harrisWhat’s hard to believe is that in the Sookieverse, it’s only 2 years of her life, because it’s taken 12 years out of the rest of us. Dead Until Dark was unleashed on the world in 2001. Practically a whole lifetime ago.

Sookie’s lifetime, anyway. (If you’re searching for perspective, Harry Potter had found the Goblet of Fire, but had not yet joined the Order of the Phoenix. No Horcruxes were even on the bloody horizon in 2001. Dumbledore was still alive!)

Back to Sookie. In Dead Ever After, all of the chickens from all of Sookie’s previous outings come home to roost. Pretty much everyone she has ever met gets at least a mention.

Nearly all her old friends who are alive pay her a visit. Most of them come to support her in her hour of need. And does she ever have a need!

Because all her old enemies return to do her one final bad turn. Some of them want her very, very dead. And some of them want to hurt her so bad, she’ll just wish she was dead.

Every loose end that might possibly be left in Sookie’s story gets tied up tight, nearly in the shape of a handman’s noose around her neck.

And while Sookie investigates, not necessarily successfully, to figure out who her enemies are, she also figures out who her friends are. She has a lot more friends than she believed. Sookie has always sold herself short, never thinking that she had made as many friends as she has.

Most important of all, she finally grows a pair and protects her heart, instead of continuing to be Eric’s doormat. Eric has always put himself first, and it’s high time that Sookie did the same.

Verdict: The first books in the Sookie Stackhouse series were magical, because Sookie was on an incredible voyage of discovery. The last few have been kind of a chore, because Sookie let herself become dependent on Eric. She got weak and whiny and bitchy.

dead to the world by charlaine harrisThe only time I thought Eric really loved Sookie was when he had amnesia (Dead to the World) and forgot to be the manipulative bastard he really is. Otherwise, Eric puts Eric first. He always has and he always does. It’s a survival instinct that has kept him alive for more than a thousand years.

Here’s a question about vampire romances in general: what does someone who is over a thousand years old have in common with a 20-year-old? This isn’t about looks or possibly even brains, but what do they talk about? What are their shared experiences? Why would this relationship possibly work?

How could Sookie ever be anything except a subordinate (and I don’t mean this in a sexual context necessarily)? Even if Eric turned her, which she expressly did not want, it would be centuries before she acquired enough experience to approach a level of equality. And, as was shown in Club Dead, the vampire who sires another vampire has control over that vampire for the rest of their unnatural lives. If Eric had turned Sookie, he would always be in control of her and their relationship.

Sookie started the books as an independent person. The one being in her life for whom she continually made excuses and ceded that independence was Eric. I wish she’d kicked him to the curb sooner.

The double-mystery that sets this story in motion is a little weak. It mostly provided an excuse to “get the band back together” and have everyone that Sookie has ever met parade through her life one last time. I’m almost certain that every living or unliving soul that Sookie has crossed paths with got a mention except Bubba.

But the point was to make sure that Sookie took stock and resolved all her issues with the supe community, and she does that. The mystery is just an excuse to put her in jeopardy, so the troops rally round.

Sookie also had the opportunity to choose between Eric, Bill and Sam. While admittedly she could have chosen to be happily single, that wasn’t likely to be a resolution for the story and it wouldn’t have tied up the romantic loose ends.

Eric wanted her to be his “piece on the side” while he married someone else. Bill wanted her to forgive him for deceiving her, for betraying her, and, let’s not forget, for raping her.

And Sam, a while back he made her half owner of his bar, because she’s been so supportive of him. She didn’t need to put in any money. Sam counted her sweat-equity and her support more than enough of a contribution.

I know who I’d pick. And I know who I wouldn’t choose if he were the last man or vampire on Earth.


I give  Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris 3 and 1/2 furry stars!

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Review: Private Practice by Samanthe Beck

Private Practice by Samanthe BeckFormat read: ebook provided by the publisher
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Erotic Romance
Release Date: Feb. 28, 2013
Number of pages: 263 pages
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Formats available: ebook
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website | Publisher’s Website | Amazon | B&N | Kobo

He’ll teach her how to bring a man to his knees…

Dr. Ellie Swan has a plan: open her practice in tiny Bluelick, Kentucky, so she can keep an eye on her diabetic father, and make hometown golden-boy Roger Reynolds fall in love with her. But Ellie has a problem. Roger seeks a skilled, sexually adventurous partner, and bookish Ellie doesn’t qualify.

Tyler Longfoot only cares about three things: shaking his bad boy image, qualifying for the loan his company needs to rehab a piece of Bluelick’s history, and convincing Ellie to keep quiet about the “incident” that lands him on her doorstep at two a.m. with a bullet in his behind.

The adorable Dr. Swan drives a mean bargain, though. If sex-on-a-stick Tyler will teach Ellie how to bring a man to his knees, she’ll forget about the bullet. Armed with The Wild Woman’s Guide to Sex and Tyler’s lessons, Ellie is confident she can become what Roger needs…if she doesn’t fall for Tyler first.

My Thoughts:

Dr. Ellie Swan comes home to her small town of Bluelick, Kentucky to open a private practice, finally reconcile with her neglectful, diabetic and alcoholic father and marry the man of her high-school dreams who just so happens to also be a lawyer.

This should be saccharine-sweet, and possibly also a contemporary Cinderella story–or a grown-up version of one of those “After School Specials” that used to run on TV. Except that Ellie Swan’s rose-colored glasses’ version of why she came home to Bluelick isn’t quite working out the way she planned.

Her high-school dreamboat has been freed from his ten-year engagement, supposedly because he’s interested in much kinkier sexcapades than his high-school sweetheart. That should have been a big clue for the romantically clueless Ellie but book-smart Ellie.

Instead, she tries to turn herself into a sexual adventuress by blackmailing the town bad boy into providing her with “no strings attached” sex lessons after he shows up at her house in the middle of the night with a buckshot wound in his very-nicely sculpted butt.

The ladies of Bluelick don’t call Tyler Longfoot “Tyler Footlong” without good reason. But that’s not all he’s good for. Ellie just turns out to be the first woman Tyler’s ever been with who makes him resent that it’s all that women think he ever might be good for.

Tyler should be thinking that a few weeks of “just great sex” with a beautiful woman is a terrific idea. Instead, the more time he spends with Ellie, the more he realizes that he finally wants more than just a good time.


seducing cinderelly by gina l maxwellMy first thought was that I’d read this story before. The whole “sex lessons story” plot is very similar to Gina L. Maxwell’s recent Seducing Cinderella (see the BLI dual review for deets), except that in Maxwell’s story, it’s not the heroine who is the doctor, it’s the guy she thinks she wants. But still, there are a LOT of parallels.

I liked both Ellie and Tyler. He’s a genuinely nice guy, which is kind of a surprise considering the reputation he has as the town’s bad boy. He’s even a responsible business owner.

Even the side-characters in this one have some interesting moments, especially Melinda, the ex-fiancee of Ellie’s dream guy. In a fun twist, Melinda becomes Ellie’s office manager and best friend.

What makes this story work is the changing dynamic between Ellie and Tyler. He figures out that he wants more long before she does, but he continues with her bargain that he is giving her “sex lessons” because he knows that’s the only way she’ll let him stay close.

The added element of Ellie’s messed-up relationship with her father, his health crisis at the end and their overdue reconciliation was just too much to throw into a sex-into-lovers romance that didn’t need any more plot threads.


I give  Private Practice by Samanthe Beck 3 1/2 stars!

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Review: The Spinster’s Secret by Emily Larkin

The Spinster's Secret by Emily LarkinFormat read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Genre: Historical Romance
Release Date: Feb. 17, 2013
Number of pages: 218 pages
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Formats available: ebook
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website | Publisher’s Website | Amazon | B&N | Kobo

Penniless spinster, Matilda Chapple, lives at isolated Creed Hall, dependent on the austere charity of unloving relatives and under pressure to marry a man twice her age. In an attempt to earn enough money to escape this miserable existence, she writes a series of titillating ‘confessions’. Her secret is safe — until battle-scarred Waterloo veteran, Edward Kane, reluctantly accepts the commission to uncover the anonymous author’s identity.

While staying at bleak Creed Hall, Edward finds himself unaccountably drawn to his host’s lonely niece. Can Matilda conceal the secret of her scandalous writings, or will Edward discover that the spinster and the risqué authoress are one and the same person? And when Matilda feels the need to experience sex as her fictional courtesan does–will she lose her heart to Edward, along with her virginity?

My Thoughts:

The concept of this story is so incredibly intriguing that I had to pick it up, but it doesn’t quite live up to its expectations.

Or it does, but the setting is so dreary that the all-too-realistic description of the dreariness depresses the reader along with characters.

Let me explain.

Mattie Chapple is a penniless spinster. She is supposed to be grateful to her stingy, miserly, nasty uncle for the roof over her head, the food on her plate and the clothes on her back. The very cold roof over her head, the stringy and boiled food on her plate, and the always grey clothes on her back.

In other words, her uncle would make Ebenezer Scrooge seem like a generous and giving human being–before his visit from the spirits of Christmas. After all, Bob Cratchit was allowed to do whatever he wanted with his meager salary. Mattie doesn’t even have an allowance, because she’s female.

And she has to read sermons on female “meekness” after dinner. Every night. Even in the years just after Waterloo, Uncle would have been considered a bit much.

fanny hillMattie has a plan to escape her bleak life by writing salacious, and entirely fictitious, confessions of a courtesan. Mattie has no sexual experience whatsoever, so she is plagiarising the entire thing from a diary she found in a cupboard and a purloined copy of  Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure, much more famously known as Fanny Hill.

Mattie’s “confessions” are selling like hotcakes, or the time-appropriate equivalent.

Of course something happens so that she is in danger of discovery before she’s ready. Otherwise there wouldn’t be a story. And Uncle Skinflint (no that’s not his name but really, nothing comes close) can’t stand the thought of a prostitute in his domain.

Conveniently for the story, Edward Kane enters the picture to search for the supposed prostitute. The convenience is okay.

Kane is as fascinating a character as Mattie. He survived Waterloo. That’s not it. His descriptions of exactly what he survived are gut-wrenching. He was ready to die, and you know exactly why. He’s left with pretty horrible scars, and an even worse case of survivor’s guilt. He’s come to Creed Hall to do penance, and it’s a good place for it.

He decides that his penance is to find the courtesan. Instead, he finds a reason for living.

Verdict: I don’t have enough hands to do a proper “on the one hand/on the other hand”. Some things were terrific and others made me want to scream.

On the one hand, I loved that neither the hero NOR the heroine were pretty people. And it’s sad that it’s necessary to applaud this as a welcome development. Kane is physically scarred as well as emotionally. His scars are startling and even frightening. His right ear is mostly missing, as are some of his fingers. Mattie loves him as he is. And Kane worships her as she is. He prefers the fact that Mattie is a big woman, because he is referred to as a goliath. He’s happy to find a woman he doesn’t have to be careful of. He thinks Mattie is the incarnation of Venus!

They are friends first, and their friendship is cautious, as it should be, and it takes time to develop. We see them tentatively reaching toward each other, and how fragile that bond is. This story would break if there were even a hint of insta-love. But there isn’t.

The premise of the story, that a spinster with no experience whatsoever would be writing a salacious novel filled with sexual detail, and writing it by plagiarism at that, was just a bit too unrealistic. On the other hand, it did set up the reason for Mattie to proposition Kane, which in turn sets up the later misunderstandammit.

The story is actually a sweet love story about the power of redemption. I liked the story itself. But the extended descriptions of the utter, mind-numbing, soul-destroying dreariness of Creed Hall and Mattie’s life there sucked most of the joy out of the story. I would be giving this story a higher rating if there had been a couple of dozen pages less detail about the bleakness of living in Creed Hall.

I give  The Spinster’s Secret by Emily Larkin 3 and 1/2 slightly depressed stars

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Dual Review: Holding Out for a Hero by Christine Bell, Ella Dane, Tamara Morgan, Nico Rosso, Adrien Luc-Sanders

Format read: ebook copy provided by the publisher for review
Release Date: 14 January 2013
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Number of pages: 550 pages
Formats available: ebook
Purchasing Info: GoodreadsAmazon, Barnes and NobleRead an excerpt


Scarlett Fever, by Christine Bell and Ella Dane

After five years in training, it’s finally time for Scarlett Fever and her fellow superheroes to leave the United Superhero Academy and test their powers out in the real world. There’s only one problem. She’s been assigned to partner with arrogant, by the book, and irritatingly hot, Blade of Justice.

Blade’s whole life has gone according to plan, and he’s more than ready to move on to the big time, protecting a metropolis of his own. But his perfectly ordered life is derailed when he’s teamed up with the fiery maverick, Scarlett Fever.

Sparks fly the moment they arrive in Plunketville, Oklahoma, as they each set out to force the other to request a transfer. They soon discover there’s more going on in this single stop-sign town than blowing up mailboxes and cow tipping. If Scarlett can get Blade to listen to his gut, and he can teach her to use her head, they just might have a fighting chance.

Ironheart, by Nico Rosso

Vince might be hard as steel, but he’s not invincible. Not when iron touches him, especially in the hands of an evil minion. Not when Kara ran away after a whirlwind affair, just when he thought he might be falling in love. And definitely not when she returns, looking for his help.

The archvillain TechHead is coming for Kara and her superhero teammates, and he’s determined to use their combined power to create the ultimate weapon. But Kara can’t fight him alone. She needs Vince’s brutal skill, though being with him means she risks losing her beloved secret identity, leaving her nowhere else to hide.

When TechHead makes a play to capture Kara, Vince has more to lose than just his heart. But he will do anything for the woman he loves, even if it means putting his heart on the line again.

Playing With Fire, by Tamara Morgan

Fiona Nelson has always been one hot ticket—even before she took the conversion serum that gave her superhu¬man abilities. Fiona’s powers come at a price: lack of human contact, or she won’t be the only thing burning. When she loses control of her emotions, her fire powers run rampant… and she’s hurt enough people already. Including herself.

But when the man behind her conversion returns to black¬mail her into helping him gain power, the only person she can turn to is Ian Jones, the man who broke her teenage heart. The man determined to expose the criminal known as Fireball, whose explosive escapades are just a little too close to Fiona’s M.O.
Ian is convinced Fiona’s dangerous, convinced she’s Fire¬ball, and convinced he’ll damn himself if he doesn’t resist a heat that’s always drawn him to Fiona like a moth to a flame—but Ian has his own secrets.

And he’ll learn far too soon what happens when you play with fire.

From the Ashes, by Adrien-Luc Sanders

Sociopath. Killer. Deviant. Monster, devoid of morals, incapable of human emotion. The villain known as Spark has been called that and more, and as a super-powered aberrant has masterminded count¬less crimes to build his father’s inhuman empire.

Yet to professor Sean Archer, this fearsome creature is only Tobias Rutherford–antisocial graduate research¬er, quiet underachiever, and a fascinating puzzle Sean is determined to solve.

One kiss leads to an entanglement that challenges ev¬erything Tobias knows about himself, aberrants, and his own capacity to love. But when his father orders him to assassinate a senator, one misstep unravels a knot of political intrigue that places the fate of hu¬mans and aberrants alike in Tobias’s hands. As danger mounts and bodies pile deeper, will Tobias succumb to his dark nature and sacrifice Sean–or will he defy his father and rise from the ashes to become a hero in a world of villains?

Our Thoughts:

Stella: With Marlene we are both big superhero fans, so when we heard that Entangled Publishing released this new anthology full of thrilling superhero romance novellas we were more than excited to read them and then later duel about the stories. To keep it from being too long we decided to restrain our discussion to only 2 of the 4 novellas: Scarlett Fever by Christine Bell and Ella Dane and Playing With Fire by Tamara Morgan. So Marlene, en garde! 😉


Scarlett Fever by Christine Bell and Ella Dane

Marlene’s Thoughts: Superheroes and sasquatch. I’m not sure whether the question should be what do those those two things have to do with each other, or whether it’s even possible to make a romance out of them, let alone in Plunketville, Oklahoma.

I should have looked to see if there really was a Plunketville, Oklahoma.

The opposites-attract trope can make for a fun romance, and the heat amps up twice as fast in the middle of a scorching Oklahoma summer. Especially when your cover is to live in a trailer park in air-conditioning challenged Plunketville. (I can’t help myself, I just love the name Plunketville, as long as I don’t have to live there)

And one of you is a fireball-throwing rookie-superhero. Partnered with a control-freak rookie-superhero who prides himself on being, not just too cool for school, but too cool for everyone. Especially the out-of-control fireball known as Scarlett Fever.

Blade of Justice is all about being cool and controlled. He dislikes anyone and anything that colors outside the lines or refuses to plan every operation to the last detail. Superheroes like Scarlett.

Too bad that when General Hammer hands out assignments to their graduating class from the United Superhero Academy, he assigns Blade and Scarlett to Plunketville to discover the mysterious anomaly in the hot, dusty, ugly small town.

Their cover says they’re married. Scarlett changes that program immediately. She tells the locals they’re siblings.

It takes less than 24 hours before one of the local waitresses decides that Blade is the hottest thing she’s ever seen.

And before Blade starts to wish that his “sister” had stayed his “wife”.

Then the evil ramps up, Blade and Scarlett start off not sure whether they are still school frenemies, or partners.

But the supervillain in town just wants Scarlett gone. And Blade realizes that coloring outside the lines is more fun, and more powerful, than being in control.

Verdict: Scarlett Fever reminded me of Tiffany Allee’s Heels and Heroes. Everyone knows there are superheroes, there are regular schools for them, it’s an accepted part of the world. This means that everyone also knows that there are supervillains.

It was obvious who the supervillain was. Not what that person’s power was, but who they must be.

What was fun was watching Scarlett and Blade fall for each other. They have a lot of preconceived notions, because they did not get on at school. When they are forced to rely on each other in the field, they discover that a lot of their negative feelings towards each other were a mask for something else.

This was just a fun story. And the characters of Sherwood and Nestor were an absolute hoot.

I give Scarlett Fever 3 and 1/2 radioactive stars.

Stella’s Thoughts: It was by pure chance I read Scarlett Fever, namely that it was the very first story in the anthology and I started with it and I have to say in my opinion Holding Out for a Hero started out with a bang.

Scarlett Fever starts with the graduation exam at the Superhero Academy, where  Scarlett Fever and Blade of Justice fight the graduation battle before being assigned to be each other’s partner for the next year. Their mission is in Plunketville, Oklahoma, and the small town provided a colourful location with several memorable secondary characters.

Scarlett and Blade are complete opposites: Scarlett is fiery, feisty, spontaneous while Blade is cool, level-headed and responsible, he is the ice to Scarlett’s fire, and the sparks crackle between these two. I loved their banter and their loaded silences as well, Blade was a hero the reader could have a serious crush on, while Scarlett was a likeable and very entertaining heroine with her huffing and puffing. The story was truly a superhero romance because Scarlett Fever was just as much about the explosive chemistry between Scarlett and Blade than the superhero mystery, and I absolutely enjoyed both!

She had to admit, it was easy to see Blade’s appeal. He exuded strength and confidence, and he kissed like the world was about to end.

Oh yeah, he definitely does… Can I just say yum? 😉

Verdict: Some people on Goodreads called Scarlett Fever silly, but I don’t expect to take my cartoon superheroes seriously (really, how could you take a hero who is called Blade of Justice seriously? lol 😉 ). But what I expect is lots of action, tongue in cheek humour and tons of fun and Scarlett Fever delivered! If you are a fan of Jennifer Estep’s Bigtime series you’ll love Scarlett Fever as well, and I sincerely hope Christine Bell and Ella Dane will give us more stories in this universe, because it was a lot of fun, and I personally would LOVE to read many more similar superhero stories! 😀

I give Scarlett Fever 4 and 1/2 fiery stars!

Playing With Fire by Tamara Morgan

Marlene’s Thoughts: Fireball was framed, over and over and over. Although this story has a happy ending, this is not a happy story.

Fiona Nelson seems to have been a victim of her own life. She willingly took the conversion serum that gave her the power to spontaneously create fire at a touch, but willing is somewhat of a relative term when it comes to Fiona and men persuading her to do the wrong thing..

She catches fire whenever she loses control of her emotions. She can’t allow anyone to touch her, because, well, love makes you lose control of your emotions. Sex just plain makes you lose control, whether you do it for the right, or the wrong, reasons.

And most of the people, especially men, who have touched Fiona have not done so with love. Or even like. Fiona has some serious self-esteem issues.

Or, as way too many people in her hometown referred to her, Fiona was the town bicycle. Every man got to ride her. She let them. Sex made her feel better. Momentarily. Then she felt worse.

The man who gave her the serum was one of her “lovers”. Now he’s her persecutor. General Eagle, out to save the world from the converted. He calls them the corrupted.

Fiona finds herself asking for help from the first man who told everyone she was so easy. Except Ian was just a boy then, and now he’s a researcher trying to prove the converted really exist.

Without revealing that he is one.

Fiona’s reappearance in his life is Ian’s chance to make up for having wronged her, all those years ago. His only excuse then was that he was young, and stupid, and didn’t speak up for himself very well. Because nothing much happened.

Now he can save her. Or condemn her to death.

Verdict: This story made me sad. It wants to be a superhero story, but it ends up being, I want to say a supervillain story, but not even that. Everyone is a victim. Fiona is a victim. Ian is a victim. Eagle is kind of a victim.

I wanted to kick Ian’s friend in the balls. Twice. he was just an arse beyond reason.

The government doesn’t come off too well either. They mostly manipulate. This story ended up as a sad mess.

I give Playing with Fire 1 and 1/2 sputtering stars.

Stella’s Thoughts: I am a fan of Tamara Morgan’s stories, I enjoyed Love is a Battlefield and her latest release Confidence Tricks was phenomenal, so yeah I admit, that her story was the reason I was the most looking forward to reading this anthology, but sadly Playing with Fire as Marlene just said made me sad as well.

Due to a natural disaster (something about an asteroid hitting Earth) a conversion serum was developed, many people excited to see what supernatural abilities it would develop for them took it without knowing anything about any potential side-effects and consequences, one of them being Fiona, who developed the power to generate heat and fire with her bare hands. Eight years have gone by and although she has come a long way handling this unique ability of hers, she still has a thin grasp on control whenever her temper flares. But with Fiona we don’t see any positive changes this superpower brought to her life only the bad: how for the past 8 years she had to relinquish all kind of human contact, relationship and had to resign herself to a life of loneliness and solitude.

The problem was that this story was depressing on all levels: Fiona had awful teenage years, she had a reputation of the “high school slut”, and it was not due to false rumours and gossips because she really did do the whole football team as Fiona tells us. And even after that not only the world but mostly Fiona objectified her body and traded sexual acts for any kind of human contact: attention, compassion, companionship. Fiona’s past not only made me sad for the young vulnerable girl she was and still is, the problem is that I don’t feel her opinion of herself, on the matter of sex and her self-esteem have changed.

Besides a superhero who still hasn’t risen above her sad past, the hero also made me sad. His best friend was a jerk and even at the last rescue didn’t manage to redeem himself to me. And I wouldn’t call the romance romance as it didn’t have much time or space to develop, since both the hero and heroine were stuck in very different places than the hero and now, at times stuck in high school and their guilt ever since, then trying to escape the threat looming.

Verdict: Although Playing with Fire had a mutant human heroine, somewhat her attitude doesn’t make me think of her as a superhero. I felt sorry and sad for her, and just wanted to hug Fiona and tell her it will be alright, but one of my problems is that I’m not sure at all it will be. The universe in the story seemed very dystopian to me, and I seriously can’t think of any friendly or trustworthy person there. Don’t write off Tamara Morgan based on this story, try one of her contemporary romance for something lighter and fluffier.

I give Playing with Fire 2 and 1/2 stars!

To read Lea’s review of From the Ashes by Adrien-Luc Sanders CLICK HERE.

To read Marlene’s review of Ironheart by Nico Rosso  CLICK HERE.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

ARC Review: Double Enchantment by Kathryne Kennedy

double enchantmentFormat Read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Number of Pages: 352 pages
Release Date: March 5, 2013 (paperback originally published August 26, 2008)
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Series: Relics of Merlin #2
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Formats Available: ebook, Mass Market Paperback
Purchasing Info: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Book Depository US | Book Depository (UK) | Author’s Website | Publisher’s Website | Goodreads

Book Blurb:

Too Much of a Very Good Thing…

High society enjoys their power based on their rank, but Lady Jasmina Karlyle’s magic causes nothing but trouble. Her simple spell has gone horribly wrong, and now she has a twin running around the London social scene wreaking havoc on her reputation. When both she and her twin get intimately involved with gorgeous shape-shifting stallion Sir Sterling Thorn, Jasmina finds herself in the impossible position of being jealous of herself…

Still Isn’t Enough…

Sterling is irresistibly drawn to Jasmina. She seems to have two completely different sides to her personality though, and the confusion is driving him mad. Is love just the other side of lust…or is what he has with Jasmina much, much more than that?

My Thoughts:

enchanting the ladyDouble Enchantment is the second book in Kathryne Kennedy’s Relics of Merlin series, after Enchanting the Lady (reviewed at Reading Reality).

Whether because the second outing didn’t mix in quite as many fairy tale tropes, or because we’d already been here once, Double Enchantment definitely was not doubly enchanting. Maybe three-quarters as enchanting.

The Beauty and the Beast story looks like it’s going to persist through the whole series. The barons in this alternate Victorian-Era fantasy are all shapeshifters. They really do turn into beasts. Unfortunately, the rest of the peerage seem to have rather beastly manners around them. If handsome is as handsome does, the non-shapeshifters frankly aren’t very handsome in this regard. But the Crown Prince finds the shapeshifters invaluable, so watching the nobles lump it can be rather amusing.

The relic in this outing does doppelganger magic. Infinite doppelgangers. And they’re real. Royal magic (and shapeshifter magic) can see through illusions, but relic magic creates real things. A doppelganger army bent on rebellion, that’s trouble.

But that’s not where the story starts. The story starts with a girl, Lady Jasmina. Her mother is a kleptomaniac. And Jasmina has devoted her life to putting back the jewelry her mother steals.

Jaz normally leaves an illusion of herself in bed, while she dresses as a chimney sweep and breaks into people’s houses to return her mother’s thefts. But her mother stole the relic, and her illusion is a doppelganger that takes on a life of its own. It goes off, gets married, and ruins her reputation!

It marries a shapeshifter. Sir Sterling wants his wife back, and discovers that he might not have one. And he has a mission to hunt down the relic.

Lady Jasmina has a rapidly deteriorating reputation, and memories of performing certain salacious acts with Sir Sterling that no well-bred young lady could possibly have any memory of. Even worse for her, she’s scandalously certain she’d like to experience them again. For the first time.

And then there are rumors of disappearing shapeshifters. And an army of rebellion. The relic is still missing. Jasmina is under house arrest. And her mother is still stealing!

Jasmina’s world is spinning further and further out of control, and the only solution seems to be to work with Sir Sterling in secret, in the hopes of locating the relic before too much damage is done. Maybe she convince herself that when the relic is found, her life will go back to the way it was before.

She’ll be the dutiful daughter again, carefully managing her family’s reputation and never having a life of her own. Maybe it’s not to late.

Except that the doppelganger she created, the one that is creating a scandal all over London? Those bold actions, those scandalous deeds? Those are all a real part of her. One she’s not sure she’ll be able to put back.

Verdict: I have mixed feelings about this book. I love this alternate Victorian world. The idea that rank would be chosen by magical ability, and that different powers do different things, this is pretty cool, especially with the Victorian love for frou-frou wrapped around it.

enchanting the beastI think the part that made me go a little spare in this story was Jasmina’s relationship with her family. Sterling’s dysfunctional family made sense (It was nasty, but logical). Her dysfunctional family made none.

Jasmina has been covering up for her mother’s kleptomania and incompetence at running the estate since she was old enough to manage. Okay, what happened before Jasmina reached an age of responsibility? And why the hell doesn’t her dad know that his wife is looney-toons? I understand keeping it all in the family, but Jasmina wasn’t putting mommy’s thefts back when she was 4, so who took care of things then? I was half-expecting one of her parents to be part of the evil, just for the nonsensicalness of this behavior.

I’m hope Sourcebooks is planning to re-release book three, Enchanting the Beast, later this year. And there’s supposed to be a brand new book four, Everlasting Enchantment in December.


I give Double Enchantment by Kathryne Kennedy 3 and 1/2 semi-enchanted stars.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Review: Falling For Her Fiance by Cindi Madsen

falling for her fianceFormat Read: ebook provided by the publisher
Number of Pages: 153 pages
Release Date: January 14, 2013
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Formats Available: ebook
Purchasing Info:  Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Author’s Website | Publisher’s Website | Goodreads

Book Blurb:

Danielle and Wes have been best friends since college, so when Wes needs a date for his sister’s wedding and Dani needs a partner for her company’s retreat, they devise the perfect plan: a fake engagement to get through both events unscathed. Adrenaline-junkie Wes can prove to both his ex and his family that he’s well and truly moved on, and serious-minded Dani can prove to her boss that she’s worthy of the promotion he seems to only want to give to a family-oriented employee.

But amid the fake swoons, fake kisses, and forced proximity, neither expects the very real feelings that develop. There’s nothing more dangerous than falling for your best friend…but what if the landing is worth the fall?

My Thoughts:

It’s often difficult to figure out a plausible reason for a contemporary romance to use a “fake engagement” trope.

Falling for her Fiance double-dips, it combines the “fake engagement” trope with the friends-into-lovers story. Now that one is usually a LOT easier to manage in a contemporary romance, and that’s actually what made it possible for Cindi Madsen to pull the fake engagement along for the ride.

Dani and Wes have been best friends since college. They were both slightly nerdy, combination history majors, basketball players and science fiction geeks. (We’re all weird in our own way). They liked each other, they hung out a lot. They didn’t date each other.

Just once, they tried stepping over that line from BFFs to something more, and the line stomped on them. It was the worst kiss EVER. Wes was so drunk he didn’t remember kissing Dani, and Dani felt no chemistry whatSOever. None. Zip. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

They never went there again and it took their friendship weeks of persistence to recover.

Everyone assumed they were more than friends. Including everyone either of them ever dated. Dani’s last boyfriend convinced her to move from Charlotte to Little Rock in the hopes of dislodging Wes from her life. Made things difficult, but didn’t work.

Wes’ ex-fiance was a general all-purpose bitch about Dani, but that didn’t work either. Hence the ex-fiance.

Still, several years after college, Dani is a workaholic with no social life, and feels like she has no chance at promotion because she doesn’t have a significant other to bring to couples-oriented outings at her family-friendly company.

Wes’ sister has just invited his ex-fiance to be one of her bridesmaids at her wedding. He’s just tired of the drama.

Instant brainstorm! They’ll be each other’s fake fiance for a month, be each other’s backup at each other’s events, and get a fantastic chance to be together. It’ll be great!

And it is great. And nerve-wracking. Wes loves surprises. Like surprising his entire huge family with his “fiance”, who only has her mother and grandmother and has no idea how to react to the giant crowd she’s thrust into.

He’s spontaneous. She’s a planner. His family wants him to be happy. His ex wants him back. His sister is mad because he’s stolen her show. And Wes has suddenly realized that he doesn’t miss his ex after all. As long as Dani is with him, it’s all good, all the time. He just has to find a way to keep her.

The more afraid Dani is of Wes’ spontaneity upsetting her carefully constructed world, the more he helps her to see that it’s the crazy things in life that make it worth living. Including the crazy thing they have between them!

Verdict: This is light and fun. The author did a good job setting the stage, making it clear that there was a reason that this couple hadn’t moved beyond friendship, otherwise the story wouldn’t have worked.

Wes did have a habit of not thinking things through that could have gotten him in real trouble. If the fake engagement hadn’t turned real, his family was going to be very hurt. If they pitied him before, it was going to be worse after this stunt.

However, Dani had been drifting in her life for a long time. Whatever happened with her ex had socked her self-confidence, and that had been pretty low to begin with. She needed the cosmic kick in the pants.

Falling for her Fiance is one of the “New Adult” romances that have started appearing recently. The hero and heroine are older than young adults, but are still faced with the issues of establishing careers and lives post-college. I’m still not sure how that works as a separate genre.


I give Falling for her Fiance by Cindi Madsen 3 and 1/2 stars.


***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.