Review: Heat Wave by Karina Halle

Heat Wave

Heat Wave
Author: Karina Halle
Publisher: Karina Halle
Published: November 16, 2016
Genre: Romance, Adult, New Adult, Contemporary

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Synopsis new

They say when life closes one door, another one opens.
This door happens to lead to paradise.
And a man I can never, ever have.

~~~

Still grieving the loss of her sister who died two years ago, the last thing Veronica “Ronnie” Locke needed was to lose her job at one of Chicago’s finest restaurants and have to move back in with her parents. So when a window of opportunity opens for her – running a kitchen at a small Hawaiian hotel – she’d be crazy not to take it.

The only problem is, the man running the hotel drives her crazy:
Logan Shephard.
It doesn’t matter that he’s got dark brown eyes, a tall, muscular build that’s sculpted from daily surfing sessions, and a deep Australian accent that makes your toes curl.
What does matter is that he’s a grump.
Kind of an asshole, too.
And gets under Ronnie’s skin like no one else.

But the more time Ronnie spends on the island of Kauai, falling in love with the lush land and its carefree lifestyle, the closer she gets to Logan. And the closer she gets to Logan, the more she realizes she may have pegged him all wrong. Maybe it’s the hot, steamy jungles or the invigorating ocean air, but soon their relationship becomes utterly intoxicating.

There’s just one major catch.

The two of them together would incite a scandal neither Ronnie, nor her family, would ever recover from.

Forbidden, Illicit, off-limits – sometimes the heat is worth surrendering to, even if you get burned.

Note: this is a standalone novel, unrelated to any previous books. It does NOT contain cheating of any kind.

my thoughts new

“Because I should have been with you, Ronnie. It’s always been you.”

Heat Wave is my second Karina Halle read. Although I loved some of its parts, it fell short of my expectations. It didn’t wow me as much as Smut did.

Veronica “Ronnie” Locke became attracted to Logan Shephard when they met at a fundraising event which was hosted by her mom. With their instant connection, they’re supposed to start going out and fall in love. It didn’t happen, though. Because Logan’s attention shifted to her sister Juliet right when he saw her for the first time. Eventually, Logan and Juliet dated and got married. Now seven years later, Juliet’s already dead and Ronnie and Logan reunited in Hawaii– the place where Logan’s hotel is located and where Ronnie is going to work as the hotel’s chef.

I loved that there was an angst. Angst is good. However, the forbidden love story didn’t quite amaze me because the characters lacked some depth. I wasn’t also convinced when it comes to Logan’s feelings to Ronnie. How come he married Juliet but deep down inside he’s in love with Ronnie? His reason was too shallow and I didn’t buy it.

The pacing of the book was also a let-down for me. It was too slow and too many scenes that are unnecessary should’ve never been included.

It’s good that the book promised a mild entertainment in the first few chapters but it kinda lost its momentum in the second half with Ronnie and Logan’s romantic development moving a little too fast.

The thing that somehow made this book redeemable was the writing of Karina Halle which was hands down beautiful and poetic. I loved how it was written with an air of melancholy. The setting was also beyond captivating. For me, this book is a really great summer read. You can read this when you’re staying on a tropical island, sipping a mojito or something. This was a good angsty romance book as a whole, but it wasn’t as spectacular as I expected. I believe there are a lot of Karina Halle’s books that are better than this. For now, Smut remains my favorite.

“There are moments in your life, people in your life, that when they cross your path and meet your eye, you know.”

Rating:

3 Stars

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Review: Color Me Yours by Diana T. Scott

Color Me Yours (Half of Me, #3)

Color Me Yours
(Half of Me #3)
Author: Diana T. Scott
Publisher: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
Published: August 8, 2016
Genre: Romance, New Adult, Contemporary

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Synopsis new

What happens if you wake up one morning and you don’t recognize the person staring back at you in the mirror? When you throw yourself into a relationship so deeply, it swallows you whole and spits you out a totally different person? A person you don’t particularly like… For Paige, it takes ten minutes to decide she needs to go back to Chicago, the first place she ever called home and the last she felt like herself in. The place where she’ll find a purpose and friends she never knew she needed.
But what if her best friend starts to see her before she sees herself? Can she trust him to search between scattered pieces and handpick the ones that belong only to her?

my thoughts new

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The medical residents of Half of Me series are back and this time the story focuses on the adorable couple Miles and Paige. I’ve been a fan of these lovebirds ever since Our Demons, Best Friends and Love Me While I’m Gone so you could imagine how happy I was when Diana announced that they’re going to have their own story.

Paige and Miles meet at the hospital where they’re training as medical residents. They both came from different cities and they both have something in common… a hope that the new environment will change their lives for the better. What started off as friendship turned to something else when they became not just workmates but also roommates at their rented apartment. How can they resist each other when the attraction is mutual and they seem to have a real connection?

First of all, I loved Miles. He’s one of the sweetest male leads I’ve read about. I couldn’t help but swoon every time he does some sweet gestures to Paige. And Paige is one funny woman. I loved her guts and her determination to follow her dreams. These characters are so perfect for each other and that’s also because of their chemistry which was off the charts.

Although Ava and Sebastian remain my favorite couple in this series, I adored Paige and Miles and how cute they were all throughout the book. The relationship development– from being friends, to best friends, to lovers –was amazing. *sigh I also loved how their story was written in an easy and carefree way. Sure, there was a conflict but I loved how it was resolved immediately without getting into lots of drama.

Color Me Yours is the final book of this series and I’m sure I’m going to miss these characters. I feel like they’re already part of my life. If you want to read light romance books with less drama and more swoon-worthy moments, then I highly recommend this series! 🙂

(Thank you to Diana T. Scott for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! 🙂 )

Rating:

4

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Review: Pull Me Close by Sidney Halston

Pull Me Close (The Panic, #1)

Pull Me Close
(Panic #1)
Author: Sidney Halston
Publisher: Loveswept
Date of Publication: October 25, 2016
Genre: Romance, Adult, Contemporary

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Synopsis new

Welcome to Panic, a sultry Miami nightclub where bodies and hearts move to a beat that doesn’t stop at sunrise—the setting for “a magnificent story full of deep emotion” (Sawyer Bennett).

Katherine: I thought I could enjoy a night out like a normal person. I thought I could handle the flashing lights, the pulsing music, the crowded dance floor. I couldn’t have been more wrong. After having an anxiety attack and passing out during my sister’s engagement party at Panic, I wake up in the arms of the hottest guy I’ve ever seen. Nick Moreno’s no gentleman. But he might just be the man I need to help me take control of my life.

Nick: When I hear there’s some random girl passed out in the back room of my family’s South Beach nightclub, I’m pissed. My dad’s already behind bars and we can’t afford any more bad press. But after giving her a lift—literally—back to her apartment, I stop seeing Katherine Wilson as some random girl. She’s gorgeous, vulnerable, and braver than she knows. And when we kiss, all I want to do is pull her close and promise that she’ll always be safe in my arms.

Advance praise for Pull Me Close

“Pull Me Close is a heart-gripping story about one of the most beautiful things in the world: the power of love.”—New York Times bestselling author Aurora Rose Reynolds

“Pull Me Close is a magnificent story full of deep emotion that will get you straight in the feels. Sidney Halston nailed it with this one.”—New York Times bestselling author Sawyer Bennett

“An intriguing tale of anxiety and depression so authentic that readers will feel as if they are in the story with the characters. The plot is fresh and tackles a fascinating topic. The relationship between the main characters is very intense and consuming. . . . A great read!”—RT Book Reviews

Praise for Sidney Halston’s Worth the Fight series

“Against the Cage is funny, steamy, scorching—and holy hot MMA fighter, I wanted more. Five stars all the way!”—New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Toni Aleo

“A steamy and fun romance that will leave readers begging for more. Sidney Halston is an author to watch!”—New York Times bestselling author Cherry Adair, on Against the Cage

“Halston’s new series opener creates an organic and sensual dynamic between Jack and Chrissy that makes an easy buy-in for readers.”—Library Journal (starred review), on Against the Cage

“Sidney Halston has another knockout with her latest release in the Worth the Fight series. Full Contact is a heavyweight contender in the world of MMA romances.”—Smut Book Junkie Book Reviews

“If you love cracktastic drama and sexy times, this is for you!”—RT Book Reviews, on Fighting Dirty

my thoughts new

“I’m falling in love with the man who saved me from myself.”

What a real surprise. This book is a gem!

There are so many reasons to love Pull Me Close. One of these is the writing which was absolutely good! It’s my first time to read a Sidney Halston book and wow, I was hooked. I loved how she nicely delivered a story that has a very challenging theme which is battling the mental illness known as PTSD.

The story started when Katherine “Katie” Wilson woke up in the arms of Nico “Nick” Moreno, the owner of the popular Miami Beach Night Club named Panic. She lost consciousness after having a panic attack right when she stepped into the club. Katie is claustrophobic. In her younger years, she experienced a traumatic experience that changed her life and made her became scared to face the outside world. While her friendship with Nico developed and her feelings toward him progressed, her fears also became stronger. But she has no choice but to conquer those fears in order to have a normal relationship with Nico and in order to give herself a chance to live a normal life again.

“You pull me close and hold me tight, and I’ll be okay.”

What impressed me most was how the PTSD aspect was well-researched. The details were so accurate. This issue actually hits home because I, myself, am one of the people who experienced panic attacks in the past. This is not an easy condition to carry. I still can remember the nerves, the fast heartbeats, the feeling of not being able to control the situation, the feeling of helplessness, and the anticipation that something worst is about to happen at any moment. All these were experienced by Katie in this book and I can say that they really do happen to someone who has panic attacks.

The book was powerful not only because of its realistic storyline but also because of the sincere and believable romance between Katie and Nico. I found myself unable to resist these characters– especially Nico because of his assertiveness and willingness to help Katie get over her condition and face her fears. Their story was not only about falling in love with each other but also about building mutual trust, understanding each other’s differences, and overcoming bad situations by simply being there for each other.

Pull Me Close was as deep and rich as it was emotional and romantic. I highly recommend this book to everyone who wants to read a romance book that has enough substance to move and melt your heart in the end.

“You’re my kind of crazy.”

Rating:

4 stars

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ARC Review: His to Cherish by Stacey Lynn

His to Cherish (Fireside, #3)

His to Cherish
(Fireside #3)
Author: Stacey Lynn
Publisher: Loveswept
Date of Publication: November 15, 2016
Genre: Romance, Adult, Contemporary

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Synopsis new

Can two hearts entwined by hardship move on to form a healthy bond? From the author of His to Love and His to Protect, this tender, bittersweet romance brings together a man who loses everything—and a woman with everything to give.

Chelsea Dwyer arrives home from her job at the middle-school library in Latham Hills, Michigan, expecting another quiet evening—until she hears the screams for help through her living room window. As the first witness to a terrible accident involving two local students, Chelsea doesn’t anticipate how her own life will be irrevocably changed by the father of one of the boys. In the wake of tragedy, she’s the only one who seems to understand his grief. Chelsea’s a survivor, too—and she knows that there are brighter days ahead.

As a single father, Aidan Deveraux worked his entire life to provide a stable home for his son, Derrick. Without him, Aidan feels the deepest despair imaginable. The one thing that keeps him going is his connection with the woman who tried to save his son. Hard as he tries, Aidan just can’t stay away. Chelsea’s warm embrace is the comforting solace he desperately craves—and it doesn’t hurt that Aidan had noticed the beautiful librarian and wanted to ask her out for years. Now that she’s in his life, he doesn’t ever want to let go.

my thoughts new

You know what’s so wonderful about this book? It’s the way I felt the raw emotions of the characters. The way the story weaved not just romance but also an element of family drama which I became emotionally involved with.

His to Cherish started when Chelsea Dwyer witnessed the death of Aidan Deveraux‘s son Derrick from a skateboarding accident. Since Aidan’s loss, she has been there for him, comforting him and giving him her company with no expectations. Despite the fact that she’s attracted to him and she’s completely single after her divorce with her ex-husband, she didn’t entertain the idea of them falling in love with each other. But what if Aidan is also secretly into her but is just not ready to commit to a relationship because of his grief and depression?

It’s my first time to read a book by Stacey Lynn and I must say she writes beautifully. Her characters are well fleshed-out and the narration was tightly constructed. I became invested in the story mostly because of the feels I’ve had while reading the book. Aidan and Chelsea’s chemistry was spot-on and the sexual tension was there all the time.

I especially loved the characters’ romantic development. It wasn’t hurried. And I loved the fact that they didn’t immediately jump to the sex after a series of conversations and encounters. Their mutual respect for each other amazed me to no end.

Can I also say I loved Aidan and Chelsea’s group of friends? I swear they’re all very supportive when it comes to their love affair. Friendship goals!

So, why 4 stars? I wished there weren’t unnecessary scenes. They kind of ruined the overall beauty of this book. I have nothing against slow burn romance but at times I felt the book’s pace was overstretched because of those fillers. Nevertheless, I did love this book. It was a bittersweet, emotionally-driven story but certainly with a HEA that made me smile. And oh, did I mention that Aidan Deveraux is such a perfect male lead? Gaaaah!

(An ARC was provided by Loveswept and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Rating:

4

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Review: Punk 57 by Penelope Douglas

Punk 57

Punk 57
Author: Penelope Douglas
Publisher: Penelope Douglas
Published: October 21, 2016
Genre: Romance, New Adult, Contemporary

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“We were perfect together. Until we met.”

Misha

I can’t help but smile at the words in her letter. She misses me.

In fifth grade, my teacher set us up with pen pals from a different school. Thinking I was a girl, with a name like Misha, the other teacher paired me up with her student, Ryen. My teacher, believing Ryen was a boy like me, agreed.

It didn’t take long for us to figure out the mistake. And in no time at all, we were arguing about everything. The best take-out pizza. Android vs. iPhone. Whether or not Eminem is the greatest rapper ever…

And that was the start. For the next seven years, it was us.

Her letters are always on black paper with silver writing. Sometimes there’s one a week or three in a day, but I need them. She’s the only one who keeps me on track, talks me down, and accepts everything I am.

We only had three rules. No social media, no phone numbers, no pictures. We had a good thing going. Why ruin it?

Until I run across a photo of a girl online. Name’s Ryen, loves Gallo’s pizza, and worships her iPhone. What are the chances?

F*ck it. I need to meet her.

I just don’t expect to hate what I find.

Ryen

He hasn’t written in three months. Something’s wrong. Did he die? Get arrested? Knowing Misha, neither would be a stretch.

Without him around, I’m going crazy. I need to know someone is listening. It’s my own fault. I should’ve gotten his number or picture or something.

He could be gone forever.

Or right under my nose, and I wouldn’t even know it.

Rarely have I read a book as raw and amazing as this one. Punk 57 was quite possibly one of the best books that I have read this year. Such well-constructed storyline. Such real characters that are flawed yet redeemable. Such unique plot twist. It’s packed full of everything. HATS OFF, PENELOPE DOUGLAS!

“Do you notice that, too? How all of us just want to get through life as quickly and easily as possible? And even though we know that without risk there’s no reward, we’re still so scared to chance it?”

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The story is all about childhood pen pals Misha Lare and Ryen Trevarrow. They’ve been writing letters for each other since grade school and for about seven years, they’ve never seen each others’ faces. They promised not to search each other’s name on social media to keep their identity a mystery and to keep their meaningful friendship as it is. But one unexpected night at his band’s party, Misha wasn’t able to resist the temptation of looking at Ryen’s Facebook account after he accidentally saw her picture online. That’s when he knew that Ryen was actually there at the party’s venue.

I’d be honest. This book was HOT. Like RATED PG HOT. And I’m warning you, Ryen and Misha’s smoking chemistry and their steamy scenes will possibly burn your e-reader. lol. And since it’s written by THE PENELOPE DOUGLAS, it’ll be impossible to stop reading.

Steamy scenes aside, this book resonated a powerful message. I loved how it tackled a very important issue which is bullying that happens in every school. The anti-bullying theme here was quite different compared to Douglas’s previous book Bully because in this book, the storyline was centered around the issue and most of the events happened at school. It presented a look at what kids go through every day. It was honest and terrifying and it served as an eye-opening view of what these kids’ lives are like.

One of the things that I also loved about this book was Ryen’s character which came as a huge surprise for me. She was not easy to like especially in the first few chapters, but I totally understood her. She’s a famous student at her school. A beautiful and sexy cheerleader. But underneath it all, she’s insecure. She’s worried about losing her place and losing her friends. She’s afraid to be alone. Afraid to be bullied. And that’s what made me appreciate her character. For me, she was real.

Same goes for Misha. I loved that both of these characters shared the same passion for words, the same desire for attention and love. Not to mention the same rebellious trait which was quite entertaining. And as I’ve mentioned, these characters were redeemable ones.

“We’re rebels with a reason.”

And you know what especially blew me away? The PLOT TWIST. Yes, that twist was a shocker and totally unpredictable!

It will surely take me a lot of time to get over this book. It was simply amazing. A new favorite of mine. 🙂

“We’re all ugly, Ryen. The only difference is, some hide it and some wear it.”

Rating:

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ARC Review: Her Unexpected Engagement by Kyra Jacobs

Her Unexpected Engagement (Checkerberry Inn, #2)

Her Unexpected Engagement
(Checkerberry Inn #2)
Author: Kyra Jacobs
Publisher: Entangled: Bliss
Date of Publication: November 7, 2016
Genre: Romance, Adult, Contemporary

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Synopsis new

Sometimes you’ve got to fake it ‘til you make it…

Stephanie Fitzpatrick wanted out of the spotlight after her pro-golfer husband was caught on camera cheating. But when she returns to Michigan for a job interview and some much-needed R&R, a fib told by her well-meaning sister has her looking for a temporary fiancé, or she can kiss her new start good-bye.

Desperate to hide the truth, she goes to the one man who can help—her former best friend.

Miles Masterson is relieved to see the Checkerberry Inn beginning to thrive once more. Not only does it ease his mind about his grandmother’s financial future, but also about his decision to finally escape town. But then one all grown up and sexy as hell friend from the past shows up needing rescue. Now the temptation to change the “temporary” arrangement into something more is making it harder to think about leaving.

Each book in the Checkerberry Inn series is a standalone, full-length story that can be enjoyed out of order.

my thoughts new

I finished this book with a smile on my face.

Her Unexpected Engagement was an enjoyable light-spirited romance read. The kind of book that gives you warm and fuzzy feelings all because of its sweet portrayal of second chance romance. I’ve never read anything by Kyra Jacobs prior to this book but her way of writing captivated me. It was so Harlequin-ish and it certainly brought out nostalgic feels.

The story started when Stephanie Fitzpatrick‘s famous golf player ex-husband cheated on her in public. Fresh from heartache, she went back to her roots in Michigan to start a new life. By going back there, however, her heart got confused when she reunited with her college best friend Miles Masterson who also happened to be someone she secretly loved before she fell for her ex.

The setting was one of the things that made me fall in love with this book. Checkerberry Inn was beautifully described and living in this romantic place through the pages made me feel so comfortable. I also loved both the main characters and how their romantic development was built up. They certainly have that chemistry.

All throughout the book I found myself swooning, smiling, and laughing over how sweet their reunion was. There were of course scenes that I consider my favorite especially the one where Stephanie cooked a baked ziti that ended up in a disaster lol.

This book, as a whole, was a pleasure to read. Fast-paced, heartfelt, and with a little pinch of humor, this was one of the beautiful reunion romance books I’ve ever read! 🙂

(An ARC was provided by Entangled: Bliss and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Rating:

4

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Review: The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

The Hating Game

The Hating Game
Author: Sally Thorne
Publisher: William Morrow
Published: August 29, 2016
Genre: Romance, Adult, Contemporary

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Debut author Sally Thorne bursts on the scene with a hilarious and sexy workplace comedy all about that thin, fine line between hate and love.

Nemesis (n.) 1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome.
2) A person’s undoing
3) Joshua Templeman

Lucy Hutton has always been certain that the nice girl can get the corner office. She’s charming and accommodating and prides herself on being loved by everyone at Bexley & Gamin. Everyone except for coldly efficient, impeccably attired, physically intimidating Joshua Templeman. And the feeling is mutual.

Trapped in a shared office together 40 (OK, 50 or 60) hours a week, they’ve become entrenched in an addictive, ridiculous never-ending game of one-upmanship. There’s the Staring Game. The Mirror Game. The HR Game. Lucy can’t let Joshua beat her at anything—especially when a huge new promotion goes up for the taking.

If Lucy wins this game, she’ll be Joshua’s boss. If she loses, she’ll resign. So why is she suddenly having steamy dreams about Joshua, and dressing for work like she’s got a hot date? After a perfectly innocent elevator ride ends with an earth shattering kiss, Lucy starts to wonder whether she’s got Joshua Templeman all wrong.

Maybe Lucy Hutton doesn’t hate Joshua Templeman. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.

What a perfect combination of cute and sexy. I kept seeing The Hating Game on my Twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads timeline and since it’s been gathering high ratings, of course my curiosity was piqued.

Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman, both executive assistants to the co-owners of Bexley & Gamin, have always been at a clash with each other. They share an office room together but they don’t get along well. When their respective bosses announced that one of them will be promoted as the other boss, their competitive drive became stronger and of course, they hated each other more. If Lucy loses the job position to Joshua, she has to resign. Is she gets it, then she’ll rule over Joshua. But everything turned to chaos when their daily banters slowly converted into strange attraction and irresistible sexual tension.

Despite the usual tropes — office romance and enemies to lovers, the author Sally Thorne was able to bring life to the story through her fun and quirky characters. Lucy’s narration was all kind of hilarious. I found myself unable to stop laughing with the way she described her working relationship with Joshua and the rest of the employees of Bexley & Gamin. I also loved how the author painted Joshua’s character in a hot and adorable executive kind of way.

The daily bickering was the one that truly stood out here. It was so entertaining to see them exchange witty dialogues that just make their chemistry more apparent. The only complaint I had in this book was the inconsistency of the plotline. I admit I was a bit unsatisfied with their hating game. I thought the romantic development (enemies to lovers) progressed real quick. I kind of wished their hate relationship was longer and that it lasted at least until the middle part of the book. It would be fun to see more of them acting like a cat and a dog in a box. lol.

As a whole, this book was a nice, sweet, and enjoyable story. Nothing extravagant when it comes to angst and conflicts but just an entertaining romantic comedy book that I’m sure everyone will enjoy. For fans of contemporary books and rom-coms, give this book a chance!

Rating:

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