ARC Review: Once a Charmer (Sharla Lovelace)

Allie Greene and Sebastian “Bash” Anderson are the BEST of friends. They have been in each other’s lives for years — with Bash also pretty much becoming a father figure to Allie’s daughter. They haven’t really crossed the line though, the fine line between friends and lovers. Until that kiss, the kiss that Allie gave Bash few months ago when she thought that he was shot. Now Allie’s nights are bombarded with sexy things that Bash does to her…

I think, compared to the previous two books, this is the first time I’m being quite comfortable with the story written from the heroine’s first person perspective. With A Charmed Little Lie (book #1) and Lucky Charmed (book #2) I missed the heroes’s thoughts. I wanted to understand how they fell for the heroines. Especially because Nick was a stranger to Lanie, while Sully was Carmen’s ‘one who got away’.

In here, I felt like I didn’t need Bash’s perspective. I KNOW without a doubt that Bash always loves Allie. He has been Allie’s person for years, the one who keeps Allie’s secret, the one who Allie turns to during times of need, the one who knows Allie inside out. The ball is pretty much in Allie’s court, so to speak. Allie, who is now dealing with a teenage daughter, a father with ailing health, and news that she might lose the family diner she’s been managing for the past seven years. It is definitely NOT the time for all sexual repressed feelings towards her best friend to coming like a torrent of rain *laugh*

Allie is probably my favorite heroine of this series so far. Allie becomes a single mother when she is seventeen, her father has a gambling problem and he pretty much gambled their live savings away after her mom died. So she becomes the responsible one. It must not be easy but Allie never gives up. She’s strong, determined, and I admired her so much. I liked how she dealt with her daughter too. Allie can be a tiger Mama but she’s not exactly restraining Angel as well. I thought their relationship as mother and daughter was pretty healthy.

My slight problem with Once a Charmer is in the romantic progress between Allie and Bash. Despite my certainty of Bash’s feeling I thought there were other important things happening in Allie’s life as well (her daughter, the diner) that the romance became slightly pushed in the background. Even if Allie constantly thinking about Bash and the sexy dreams. Which is too bad considering that Bash easily takes the title as “King of Charm” in my eyes. His speech for Allie alone … MAN, hands down, kicks Nick’s or Sully’s asses in the ‘big gesture’ department … I am dying for more Allie and Bash moments.

All in all, Once a Charmer is lovely, heartwarming, and sweet. I love this series and I hope there’s still more tales coming from this small town of Charm, Texas.

RATING: 4 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:
 Once A Charmer
Author: Sharla Lovelace
Series: Charmed in Texas, #3
Genre: MF Contemporary Romance
Length: 271 pages
Publisher: Lyrical Shine
Purchase Links: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes
Release Date: October 17, 2017

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ARC Review: New Tricks (Kelly Moran)

New Tricks is Drake (the oldest O’Grady brother) and Zoe’s story. I’ve been (im)patiently waiting for this one. All of the bread crumbs given in previous books by the author promised a quite emotional read. With Zoe being both Drake’s and Heather’s — his deceased wife — best friend, it’s a friends-to-lovers with a side of guilt kind of situation. I want to know how Kelly Moran tackled that.

Well, guess what this book is another winner for me; it’s totally right up my alley.

Same heart; different ways of love

I thoroughly appreciated the fact that while in the beginning Drake might be in conflict regarding his new-found feeling towards his best friend, but then he completely embraced it. Drake saw Zoe in both her strengths and vulnerabilities. The progress from seeing Zoe as his best friend to someone Drake loved a lot more was convincing; it helped that Zoe was in his life since forever. They had their own special moments, even when Heather was still alive.

In terms of pursuing this relationship, Zoe was the one holding back. Usually I’m easily annoyed with a heroine’s tendency to run away from her possible happiness. In this case, though, I could understand why Zoe was reluctant. She had a lot on her plate. It was more than Drake being her dead best friend’s husband, but there was another issue related to Zoe’s mother having early onset dementia.

For me, Zoe’s excuse rang true and it was heartbreaking to read. My heart went all out for her. I thought Zoe was an amazing character, and she might be my favorite heroine from this series. If I have an ounce of her beautiful heart, I’d probably be a better person.

Reading Drake and Zoe’s relationship flourished was a delight. That grand romantic gesture by Drake made me all teary eyed *sigh*.

We met in an empty room.
Two broken souls among the fray.
Years and distance and regret between us,
And with one call, you stayed.

I wish there is one more chapter, an epilogue maybe, just so I can see everyone in their happily ever after

Redwood Ridge has been an excellent series read. I’m so happy that the author tweeted back to me back in July and said that there would be more books from Redwood Ridge (Jason the firefighter is next followed by Parker the sheriff!)

RATING: 4.5 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: New Trick
Author: Kelly Moran
Series: Redwood Ridge, #3
Genre: MF Contemporary Romance
Length: 216 pages
Publisher: Lyrical Shine
Purchase Links: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo
Release Date: September 26, 2017

ARC Review: Lucky Charmed (Sharla Lovelace)

Lucky Charmed is the second book in Lovelace’s Charmed in Texas series, following A Charmed Little Lie that was released in April.

This time, we have Carmen Frost who has been planning to leave Charmed to follow her wanderlust dream after finally divorcing her husband… only to find out that her first love, Sullivan “Sully” Hart — the one who left her behind and broke her heart fifteen years ago — has decided to return and settle down in Charmed instead.

Similar to the first book, Lucky Charmed is written using the heroine’s first person narrative. I do prefer alternate point-of-views in my romance. I mean, there were times that I would’ve LOVED to get inside Sully’s mind, to know what he thinks and feels about Carmen. However, I admit that I enjoyed the drama and the surprises at the same time as Carmen.

Without knowing anything about that night from Sully’s perspective, Carmen’s emotion when she discovers the secrets being kept from her feels more effective. Besides, despite the lack of Sully’s POV, I still thought the chemistry between the two of them was strong.

I loved that Carmen doesn’t easily give in to Sully’s explanation. I loved that she gets angry at him. I loved that she confronts Sully (and also her mother). I loved that Carmen still tries to follow her dream. Sometimes it needs to be done — experiencing what you think you want or need before making any decision in your life.

I really think Sharla Lovelace’s writing clicks with me. Now I can’t wait to read book #3. Because there’s a development regarding that future couple in this book that intrigues the hell out of me!

PS: There are a number of errors regarding the name of Sully’s brother. At first it is written as Aidan. But later it is also written as Aiden. I hope the release version is cleaned from this mistake.

RATING: 4 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:
 Lucky Charmed
Author: Sharla Lovelace
Series: Charmed in Texas, #2
Genre: MF Contemporary Romance
Length: 217 pages
Publisher: Lyrical Shine
Purchase Links: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes
Release Date: July 18, 2017

ARC Review: Tracking You (Kelly Moran)

“You are no star, Gabby. You’re the sky. The rest of us are just circling your orbit.”

Excuse me while I swoon…

Sometimes you have a feeling that a book will be wonderful. This is one of those occasions for me. From the very beginning, I felt my heart being enchanted by both Gabby and Flynn. I loved these two so f*cking much.

Gabby Cosette is the girl-next-door… she is the good girl that everyone likes to be friends with, but not exactly attracted to her as something more. Gabby longs to have someone who wants her for her, who loves her, who worships her, because she is worth all that.

Flynn O’Grady, the middle of the O’Grady doctor, has been born deaf … so he is used to being invisible. People don’t really know how to engage with the deaf boy, do they? But Gabby has been Flynn’s best friend for over two decades. There isn’t a significant moment in Flynn’s life that he can’t think of not sharing it with Gabby. Because of that, he doesn’t act on his secret attraction on Gabby. Especially because Gabby isn’t romantically interested in him – or so he thinks.

Oh, these two *hugs them tight*. I love friends-to-lovers trope, and I think that Tracking You is this trope being written AMAZINGLY WELL. I believed on the process of Gabby and Flynn moving into something more. They have been in each other’s lives since the forever! I could also believe the conflict. With this trope, usually the argument is “I don’t want to risk the friendship” … and that can be dangerous because it is easy to make it lame and repetitive.

Not here though. I could understand how Flynn thought that he was dragging Gabby down. His life is tightly integrated with Gabby. She is in both his personal and professional life. Does Gabby choose this life because she wants to or simply because she is his friend? That as kindhearted as Gabby is, she wants to make Flynn’s life easier … like she did more than twenty years ago when she demanded to learn sign language to be able to communicate with Flynn.

I LOVED the conflict and the internal arguments that happened between both our heroine and hero. I loved Gabby for being so wonderful, gentle, loving, loyal, and tough in her own way. I loved Flynn for being flawed (not because he is deaf, but because he can’t see what is good for him! Stupid boy). And I loved them together.

This is definitely one of my most favorite romance novels of the year. It has almost everything I want … including the grand gesture that put me all teary eyed. I only wish Ms. Moran adds another chapter or an epilogue just to wrap this one with colorful rainbow tie

Now I cannot wait to read Drake’s story.

RATING: 4.5 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: Tracking You
Author: Kelly Moran
Series: Redwood Ridge, #2
Genre: MF Contemporary Romance
Length: 250 pages
Publisher: Lyrical Shine
Purchase Links: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo
Release Date: May 23, 2017

ARC Review: A Charmed Little Lie (Sharla Lovelace)

I discovered Sharla Lovelace last year, with her Heart of the Storm series. I love her writing style. Which is why, when I saw that she had a new series with Lyrical Press, I jumped for the chance to request the advanced copy.

Lanie Barrett needs a husband. Stat. Apparently her deceased Aunt Ruby makes it a clause in her will that in order for Lanie to inherit the house and the money, Lanie needs to prove that she is blissfully married and must stay with her husband for three months at the house. It’s all because Lanie spun a story about her nuptial to her aunt shortly before she passed away. Enters Nick McKane, a divorcé who needs work and money to send his daughter to college. So Nick agrees to be Lanie’s husband and Lanie promises to share the wealth. Only things get complicated when their fake marriage starts to feel real.

Well, for the most part, A Charmed Little Lie is a delightful read! The story is written solely from Lanie’s first person perspective and she is FUN to be around with. I loved her quips … the humor here fit to my liking. I had so much fun reading how Lanie tried to get out from the deep hole that she dug herself into.

Some of the situations might be a little rom-com cliché, like the way Lanie’s ex (and his wife!) tried to seduce Lanie and Nick away from each other, since they were in it for the money as well … but it resulted in hilarious moments, I couldn’t really complain.

It isn’t perfect though… I wish that Ms. Lovelace explores more about Nick and Lanie “connecting” before acknowledging that they fall in love with one another. Since this book is only from Lanie’s perspective, I felt that Nick was still a mysterious character. I didn’t know much about him apart from him being a divorced father who needed the money … most of what I knew about Nick I got from Lanie’s opinion (and perception) about him. I didn’t really knew what Nick thought of Lanie and when he fell in love with Lanie. It felt a bit one sided…

Having said that, I definitely can say that I was charmed (see what I did there *wink*) and I look forward to reading the next book about Carmen, Lanie’s friend.

RATING: 4 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:
 A Charmed Little Lie
Author: Sharla Lovelace
Series: Charmed in Texas, #1
Genre: MF Contemporary Romance
Length: 241 pages
Publisher: Lyrical Shine
Purchase Links: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Google Playstore
Release Date: April 18, 2017

ARC Review: Danced Close (Annabeth Albert)

Kendall is a wedding planner and Todd works at a bakery where Kendall takes his business (PS: The bakery is owned by Vic, the MC of book #2). Todd is a recovering addict so he thinks Kendall is out of his league. While Kendall breaks up with his boyfriend who cannot take on Kendall’s femme-ness and wants him to tone it down; and Todd seems to be the similar type. But they can’t help to be attracted to one another.

When Kendall’s best friend must bows out from dancing class they are both signed up for, and Kendall discovers that Todd is very good at dancing, he asks Todd to be his partner… and maybe to have fun while they’re at it.

Danced Close is the 6th book from Annabeth Albert’s Portland Heat series … and it definitely of of my favorites *beams happily* I think I have a weakness for men dancing together, which is what happened here. I enjoyed their dancing lessons so much.

I LOVED how Kendall and Todd got into the relationship; it filled with just enough angst and tentativeness. Mostly because both Kendall and Todd formed a certain perception about the other. Kendall being a genderqueer who embraces his feminine side is not used to people like Todd willing to follow and give control to him. He thinks Todd is too perfect and maybe Todd only sees him as ‘flavor of the week’.

While Todd has a major case of insecurity, being a recovering addict and not exactly coming out of the dark side without a scar (this part is important, potential readers, probably best that you find out yourself). Todd tends to think that he’s not good enough both professionally (in his job) and personally (with Kendall). It doesn’t help that Kendall keeps saying that they’re just “friends”, like Kendall doesn’t want to have someone like Todd to be his boyfriend.

These young men definitely need to TALK and work things out, to clear out any misconception. Yes, of course there is a moment of “pushing the other one away” but it resolves WONDERFULLY. I smiled widely when it happened.

I definitely liked the part of Kendall’s genderqueer identity — this didn’t feel like “PSA for marginalization” which was one of my major unfavorable opinion of Knit Tight. I didn’t feel like I was being preached upon. Maybe because Todd was so sweet when he asked Kendall about things, so Kendall wasn’t being defensive when he explained.

Since Portland Heat seems to be the series where Annabeth Albert introduces various QUILTBAG identities, I hope that she will write asexual characters in the future. You know a wish from her asexual fan ^^

You’re what I didn’t know I was missing. What I need. Like dancing back in my life and pesto and salad and you

 

RATING: 4 out of 5
4stars

 

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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:


9781601836953Title:
 Danced Close
Author: Annabeth Albert
Series: Portland Heat, #6
Genre: MM Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Lyrical Shine
Purchase Links: Amazon US, Barnes & Noble, iTunes
Release Date: March 14, 2017

ARC Review: Wrapped Together (Annabeth Albert)

Well, it was a nice holiday read. It has the formula of a little Grinch, tons of holiday-extravaganza, and some sexy times.

Unfortunately, I had trouble to form an empathy and rooted for the couple. Despite it being said that Hollis and Sawyer have been friends for almost two decades — get this, Hollis and Sawyer are both sets of twins; in fact Hollis’ twin sister is married to Sawyer’s twin brother! — I felt like I didn’t have enough backstory about the two of them. Interspersed between the present day, where Sawyer was trying to coax Hollis into Christmas spirit, were few flashbacks scenes that I ended up wishing for more.

Instead of that, I got quite a number of kinky sex scenes between Hollis and Sawyer before Hollis pushed Sawyer away, then had an epiphany, and bam! HEA … While I know this will please majority of MM readers, it’s not my cup of tea. I don’t mean that I dislike kinky sex. However, I enjoy reading sex scenes more if I’m invested enough with the characters and their romance leading up to those. And I didn’t get that here, not so much.

I want to understand about Hollis more; I want exploration on his introvert self and his crush for Sawyer over the years. I want more of Hollis’ past with that older guy that most definitely screwed him in the head enough for relationship. There is a huge chance that I can see myself so much in Hollis because I am also an introvert; social scene tires me out, I prefer to have small company to celebrate important events. So the fact that I didn’t get any of this made me disappointed a little.

It’s not a bad one, I’m sure that fans of Annabeth Albert will like this. It’s just not one of my favorites coming from her.

RATING: 3 out of 5
3-stars

 

11613309

 

 

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:

29536941Title: Wrapped Together
Author: Annabeth Albert
Series: Portland Heat, #5
Genre: MM Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Lyrical Shine
Release Date: December 6, 2016