ARC Review: Intercepting the Chef (Rachel Goodman)

Intercepting the Chef is the first book from new-to-me author Rachel Goodman’s upcoming series “How to Score“. It features rising star chef Gwen Lalonde and Logan Stonestreet, NFL golden boy and quarterback for the Colorado Blizzards who is also best friend with Gwen’s twin brother, Chris. After being fired by her ex-boyfriend celebrity chef and is forced to return home to Denver, Gwen is hired by Logan to be executive chef for his restaurant that he develops on behalf of his mother’s love for food…

I enjoyed this romance — but I must admit that while I thought Logan was such a darling, I had a difficult time to warm up to Gwen. This more or less influenced my opinion.

I know that as a woman, I can be quite hard on heroine characters in the romance books I read. I did applaud Gwen’s determination to fulfill her dream of having her own restaurant. I admired her for being focused on her passion. Because we need females like that too, right? Those who strive to excel professionally; not just in relationship.

Unfortunately, Gwen also felt distant and aloof to me. It was slightly difficult to emotionally root for Gwen because she came up as being dismissive and judgmental over other people’s dreams and issues. Like when Gwen was surprised that her brother did charity (because she always thought of Chris as shallow). Or that Logan didn’t like all of the aspects of football (because Gwen thought Logan enjoyed the glory of the game). For someone who was fired because she assumed that her ex-boyfriend would be thankful of what she did, I was hoping that past experience made Gwen more humble than she was.

I couldn’t help wishing that Gwen to show a softer side once in a while because I found myself taking side with Logan when they had their arguments.

I couldn’t find a lot of faults of Logan. He was warm, and kind, and clearly loved his mother. I felt sorry for Logan because everybody in his life — his father, his agent, his coach, his teammates — seemed to only see him as a franchise. They didn’t care that he was in pain, that he was injured … they only wanted him to bring the win and the money. I wanted to hug Logan and to protect him from all harms. So with Gwen keeping their relationship at arm’s length, sometimes I wondered if Gwen was good enough for Logan.

With this being the start of a series — and I didn’t find any issue with Goodman’s writing — I think I will keep my eyes out for future books in this series. I am quite interested to read romance featuring Gwen’s brother, Chris, or her best friend, Missy. They were two secondary characters that definitely caught my attention here.

 

RATING: 3.5 out of 5

 

 

 

The ARC is provided by the publisher via Netgalley for an exchange of fair and honest review. No high rating is required for any ARC received.

 

BOOK INFO:

Title: Intercepting the Chef
Author: Rachel Goodman
Series: How to Score, #1
Genre: MF Contemporary Romance
Length: 368 pages
Publisher: Pocket Star
Purchase Links: Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble, iBooks
Release Date: May 2, 2017

ARC Review: Leaning Into Love (Lane Hayes)

Leaning into Love is first released as part of It Was Always You Anthology; I never read that one, but I love friends-to-lovers theme and I generally enjoy Lane Hayes’ works … so I decided to request for the ARC.

Eric and Zane have been best friends for over a decade; even if in high school they were not really running in the same circles. On the wake of announcement of engagement of Eric’s ex-boyfriend, Eric is asked by Zane to go to the party together, and he starts to see Zane in a new light.

It is a sweet friends-to-lovers story for sure. The chemistry between Eric and Zane is palpable. I have no problem at all imagining that these two men are falling for one another.

However, I’m a bit miffed that some of scenes here were summarized … it became “telling than showing” kind of thing. Plus apparently there is a slight time jump because the start of Chapter 6 is this line “The year melted away in the usual flurry of holiday parties and family gatherings“. Urgh, I dislike that!! I want to be a witness of Eric and Zane’s dates and activities. NOT just the sex, mind you *pout*

Oh, and one other complaint would be how Eric reacted to his ex’s news … I thought it was really stupid.

The bonus chapter is cute though ^^

 

RATING: 3.5 out of 5
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The ARC is provided by the author via IndiGo Marketing & Design for an exchange of fair and honest review. No high rating is required for any ARC received.

 

BOOK INFO:

 

34093621Title: Leaning Into Love (2nd edition)
Author: Lane Hayes
Series: Leaning Into, #1
Genre: MM Contemporary Novella
Length: 24.000 words
Purchase Link:
Release Date:February 10th, 2017

ARC Review: The Case of the Green-Dressed Ghost (Lucy Banks)

Kester Lanner is a 22-year-old young man who follows his mother’s dying request to go to Dr. Ribero’s Agency. Not knowing who or what Dr. Ribero is, Kester discovers that a whole new world that he never knows before, the world of supernatural investigations, including catching them and such. Not only that, Kester also learns a lot more about his family and the secret that his mother keeps all these years. Then Kester is thrown to the business when he is roped to help with a case of haunted painting of an apparently very viscious lady in green-dress…

I couldn’t help feeling curious with The Case of the Green-Dressed Ghost because of the GORGEOUS cover and the blurb that said “family business: catching supernatural spirits”. Look, British Ghostbusters! *smile* And well, I quite liked this debut…

Kester is definitely the youngest addition to the supernatural agency; all of the other characters are a whole lot older than he is. Maybe because of that, at first I didn’t feel a cohesive and welcoming team towards Kester. Especially coming from Serena, the extinguisher on the team.

After a while, I understand that it is caused by Serena’s fear of Kester taking over her job, since it turns out Kester has “something” running in his blood that apparently is very useful in the ghost-hunters business. Plus Kester is the boss’s son. But still I didn’t feel that closeness yet between them which influences my enjoyment a bit.

However, I could see that this may be a work in progress. After he welcomes the idea of supernatural world, Kester would be quite helpful for the agency. He has a knack for research — and actually enjoys it! — which will contribute to the other skills that the rest of the team has.

I enjoyed reading about the rest of Kester new co-workers — in addition to Serena, we have Ms. Wellbeloved who is a conversant, Pamela – the resident psychic, Mike who designs all the equipment, and of course the head of the team, Dr. Julio Ribero. Even if they sometimes squabble quite loud; it is also probably due to the fact that they had been together for years.

The ghost case is quite engaging; I loved that this book mixes supernatural beings from legends as well as cultural folklore (we have sighting of a dislocated Japanese spirit who wakes up in a wrong time-zome *lol*)

I’d say this is a lovely debut and I’m looking forward to future sequels 🙂

 

RATING: 3.5 out of 5
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The ARC is provided by the publisher via Netgalley for an exchange of fair and honest review. No high rating is required for any ARC received.

 

BOOK INFO:

greenTitle: The Case of the Green-Dressed Ghost
Author: Lucy Banks
Series: Dr. Ribero’s Agency of the Supernatural #1
Genre: Supernatural Fiction
Length: 284 pages
Publisher: Amberjack Publishing
Purchase Links: Amazon, Barnes & Noble
Release Date: March 7, 2017

ARC Review: The Prince of The Moon (Megan Derr)

** REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILER **

I enjoy Megan Derr’s fairy-tale stories but this one fell short. I adored both Solae and Millio. My heart went out for kind and sweet Solae. I thought their relationship was lovely. The ending most particularly, put a huge smile to my face. They were so cute together! I also loved the twist on how the curse was broken…

Unfortunately, I didn’t like how the ‘bad guys’ didn’t exactly get what they deserved, especially the king. After the way he treated Solae, plus the fact that apparently there might not even an enchanting spell in the first place?? I guess I was disappointed knowing that the curse was broken, and the kingdom was saved, but it drove Solae away from it.

Oh, I know, I know, Solae was happy, he was loved, he could travel with Millio while learning his magic and have an adventure … Yes, maybe it was the better future for him rather than staying at the kingdom, but still I wasn’t completely satisfied with how it turned out for the king. Where is the justice? *pout*

FYI, this story was originally published in Fairytales Slashed 4; I haven’t read that one so I don’t know if there is something essentially changed from the first edition.

 

RATING: 3.5 out of 5
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The ARC is provided by the publisher via Netgalley for an exchange of fair and honest review. No high rating is required for any ARC received.

 

BOOK INFO:

Title: The Prince of the Moon
Author: Megan Derr
Genre: MM Fantasy / Fairy Tale
Length: 30,000 words
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Release Date: January 9th, 2017

ARC Review: Wanted, A Gentleman (K.J. Charles)

First of all, I have to say BRAVO to Riptide Publishing, K.J. Charles, and anyone involved in making the blurb for Wanted, A Gentleman . Seriously, it is definitely one of the most creative blurbs I have ever seen!! I love the sub title, Or, Virtue Over-Rated; which kinds of giving a clue about what the story is all about, really.

The gist of the story is this: Martin St. Vincent ropes the help of Matrimonial Advertiser’s scribbler Theodore Swann in order to locate the daughter of Martin’s former master who is going to elope with a questionable gentleman. Then we have a rush of carriage pursuing the couple — and of course Martin and Theo getting attracted towards one another in between.

Since it was a novella length, I thought things happened pretty fast between both men. The relationship wasn’t as ‘deep‘ as I preferred it to be. There is a huge twist around 2/3rd of the book that I didn’t see coming. While in retrospect, after I finished reading, it sort of fit with the characters, I couldn’t help thinking that the twist made the story felt … well, less romantic for me.

Personally, I thought that the relationship felt like more like a business trade after that. I couldn’t help that maybe they getting together was pretty much helped by the pleasure of the flesh rather than attraction of minds and virtues.

But then again, maybe like the blurb says, virtue is over-rated

Charles’ writing is as delicious as ever; unfortunately Wanted, A Gentleman is not one of my top favorites from her. Even if it was still a quick entertaining read.

 

RATING: 3.5 out of 5
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The ARC is provided by the publisher via Netgalley for an exchange of fair and honest review. No high rating is required for any ARC received.

 

BOOK INFO:


Title:
Wanted, A Gentleman
Author: K.J. Charles
Genre: MM Historical Romance
Length: 157 pages
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: January 9th, 2017

ARC Review: The Next Competitor (Keira Andrews)

This book is re-released in the midst of the popularity of the anime Yuri On Ice which has pretty much taken the online social media by storm — by the way, if you don’t know that anime, you probably haven’t read Heidi Cullinan’s passionate blog post about it (*haha*). I can already see fans of the show who also love M/M romance might take an interest on the story of Alex Grady, a twenty-year-old American figure skater on his way to his first Olympic.

I admit that it wasn’t easy for me to immediately warm up towards Alex. Alex is abrasive, sometimes dismissive and he doesn’t seem to have a filter from brain to mouth, which ends up with him hurting other people with his words more than once. But I could chalk it up at him being young and also feeling the pressure to win — after all of his family has done to support him.

Unfortunately, it also made me frustrated with Alex’s determination to win the Olympics without actually showing that he loves the skating itself. I don’t fit to athlete’s “I’m in it to win it” philosophy; which also means that I definitely suck in competitive environment. I guess I really want to see Alex loving the sport because he can’t see himself doing anything else, rather than because of a gold medal (and possibly an Olympic tattoo).

On the other hand, I think that IS what the story is all about. It’s about Alex’s journey to find that there are things other than a place at the podium. Oh, winning is important but it is not everything, you know? Alex learns about friendship, about love (with Matt), and finally able to skate because he loves being on ice. THAT is what I loved the most about this story.

As for the romance — eh, it was okay, I guess. Since Alex is the narrator, I didn’t get to know a lot about Matt’s personal thoughts except in conversations with Alex. I liked Matt just fine though. I thought he would be a good partner for Alex, to remind Alex whenever he is in over his head.

I didn’t enjoy the sex scenes though, which was the HUGE reason for my not being able to put this on my 4-stars category. This is definitely due to personal taste. I have come to realize that I find Keira Andrew’s sex scenes to be personally off-putting. In this case, it felt dirty and I didn’t like to read dirty/advanced sex scenes with young adult/new adult characters *shrugs*.

All in all, this is a good sports-romance with figure skaters. There are quite a number of technical terms used during Alex’s training and performance, but you can take it in stride. Or you can try to watch Yuri On Ice for better visual image of what Alex is doing *lol*

 

RATING: 3.5 out of 5
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The ARC is provided by the author via IndiGo Marketing & Design for an exchange of fair and honest review. No high rating is required for any ARC received.

 

BOOK INFO:


33009275Title: 
The Next Competitor (2nd edition)
Author: Keira Andrews
Genre: MM Contemporary/Sports Romance
Length: 222 pages
Purchase Link: Amazon US, Amazon Global
Release Date: December 4th, 2016

ARC Review: The Holiday Gift (RaeAnne Thayne)

The Holiday Gift is the last story of the Nichols sister, which started Hope in The Christmas Ranch and later Celeste in A Cold Creek Christmas Story. This time, it’s the oldest sister, Faith, who finally gets her love story with her best friend, Chase Brannon.

When we are first introduced to Faith back in Hope’s book, she recently lost her husband, being a young widow with two children at the age of 32-years-old. Now, it’s two years later, and Chase who has been in love with Faith since forever, determines to finally make her see how he feels about her.

I liked Chase — I liked that Chase knows what he wants, and well, he is a fine, FINE man. He’s kind and loyal, and I totally love his devotion to his only daughter. It was Faith that frustrated the hell out of me. I seriously wanted to knock some sense into this woman, frequently groaning over her coward way of retreating from Chase, to the point that she was making that idiotic move by trying to set up Chase with another woman. Seriously, woman!!! Even your sister and aunt know how that man feels about you!!

My frustration over Faith made me enjoy her story less than her two sisters. Although all in all, it was a good holiday romance story, with low level of steam … which is just my cup of tea 🙂

 

RATING: 3.5 out of 5
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The ARC is provided by the publisher via Netgalley for an exchange of fair and honest review. No high rating is required for any ARC received.

 

BOOK INFO:

30813474Title: The Holiday Gift
Author: RaeAnne Thayne
Genre: MF Contemporary Romance
Length: 224 pages
Publisher: Harlequin
Release Date: Nov 1, 2016