Ty’s Heart (California Cowboys #3) by Selena Laurence

 

Ty’s Heart (California Cowboys #3) by Selena Laurence

Ty’s Heart Cover

4 out of 5 Stars

*I was provided a copy of Ty’s Heart by the author in exchange for an honest review. I am not compensated for my honest opinion.*

Ty Jenkins has spent the last five years devoted to two things: his daughter Katie and the ranch he and his brothers inherited after their parents’ death. When Katie’s mother decided she couldn’t raise their baby, Ty didn’t hesitate to take on the responsibility of being a single father. And now his life revolves around doing what’s best for the precocious little girl.

Jodi Morgan’s childhood left her ill-prepared to be a mother, so she did what was best for her child. She walked away, leaving the infant in the hands of the young man she was only just getting to know. But the hole in her heart could not be filled by a promising career or any other man she met. With a plan laid out, Jodi moves back to Big Sur with the hope she can get to know her daughter.

Five years ago, Ty and Jodi’s relationship was cut short by the unplanned pregnancy. They both want what’s best for Katie, but long-buried feelings for each other could get in the way of the little girl’s happiness if they’re not careful.

Ty’s Heart is the third standalone book in the California Cowboys series and revolves around the middle Jenkins brother and his adorable daughter. It was easy to fall in love with Ty and Katie in this book, and I always love a story that revolves around more than just the budding romance. Ms. Laurence did not disappoint, keeping Katie and her need for a mother front and center in the story line.

Every parent struggles to know what’s best for their child, and Ty’s character was realistic in that manner. Just because Jodi came back was no guarantee she would stick around this time, and a mother who blew in and out of Katie’s life could do more damage than good. Ty had to get to know Jodi, and he also had to take a chance on her if he wanted Katie to have that one thing he couldn’t give her.

In the course of getting to know Jodi again, the reasons they’d been attracted to each other in the first place stirred up all the feelings that got buried five years ago. Their attraction and the ups and downs of their relationship kept me turning pages long into the night.

The one thing holding this book back from being a 5-star read for me was that the climax felt a little manufactured. I won’t give any details to spoil it for others, but it just fell a bit short for me. By no means did it ruin the story though. It was still a thoroughly enjoyable ride with a satisfying conclusion, and I’ll continue to read Ms. Laurence’s books because I can always count on a captivating, sexy story.

You can find more reviews of Ms. Laurence’s work under the Author Spotlight tab.

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Rach

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Flutter by Olivia Evans – Review

Flutter by Olivia Evans

Flutter Cover

4 out of 5 Stars

*I was provided a copy of Flutter by the author in exchange for an honest review. I am not compensated for my honest opinion.*

When Dylan Walker lost the love of his life, he dedicated his life to helping others like her. After six years, he’s finally ready to start over, and that includes moving to the other side of the country where he doesn’t have memories of his past. But his path to helping others puts him in the direct path of a ghost. Not only is Presley Cooper supposed to be dead, but judging by the blank way she stares straight through Dylan, she won’t be any help in figuring out how she ended up there. Now he needs to make her remember not only her life but also her love for him.

Flutter is a standalone romantic suspense novel that had interesting aspects of mental illness woven into the story. As a doctor, the main character worked with patients in an in-patient mental illness facility, which provided the reader with glimpses of the suffering from various mental illnesses. The author presented the information in a way that was sophisticated enough to be coming from a doctor yet plain enough for the reader to understand, which increased my enjoyment of the story.

The book has aspects of both romance and suspense, but it leaned heavier on the suspense plot. The romance between Dylan and Presley was more of a given, with information provided to prove how much they loved each other rather than the process of falling in love. The story goes back and forth between the past and the present, which isn’t my favorite way to read, but it does work in this book to provide more information on the history between the characters and explain aspects of the plot going forward.

As for the suspense, it was interesting to watch Dylan trying to help Presley and another patient, and the suspenseful parts of the story were wrapped up nicely without leaving a bunch of loose ends. I especially appreciated that Presley’s mental issues were not immediately solved at the climax of the story, making it more realistic.

There were other parts that didn’t ring true for me, but not enough to take me out of the story. I also wasn’t immediately drawn into the story at the start, but glad I kept reading because it was well-written and enjoyable in the end.

If you enjoy suspenseful romance, this book is worth the read. I’ll definitely read more by this author.

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Rach

Starry Eyed Inside by Rochelle Allison

Starry Eyed Inside by Rochelle Allison

Starry Eyed Inside Cover

4 out of 5 Stars

*I was provided a copy of Starry Eyed Inside by the author in exchange for an honest review. I am not compensated for my honest opinion.*

Coming of age is never easy, and it’s especially difficult for Rory Shepherd when she falls for bad boy Skyler Nolan. Starry Eyed Inside takes readers on a journey of exploration through the high school years, following Rory through first love and heartbreak and learning to live for herself. One of my favorite things about this book was the author’s use of voice for Rory and being able to feel her maturity emerging as she goes from love-struck high school freshman to senior year and knowing what she wants out of life. The journey is an emotional roller coaster, and the author has a talent for making readers feel everything her characters feel.

Although the story is told from Rory’s point of view, we get plenty of Skyler growing up as well. He goes from from reckless, indifferent teenager to a young man who has figured out what’s important and isn’t afraid to go after it. His patience and determination showed great character growth, and I enjoyed falling for the bad boy but loving the mature young man.

This is a great story of life and love, but I hesitate to classify it as Young Adult due to the amount of sexual content. It’s definitely geared more toward the older YA crowd. This certainly isn’t a strike against the book for me, but worth noting if that’s not your cup of tea.

A couple things contributed to this being a 4-star book for me as opposed to giving it 5 stars. While I enjoyed the journey of the characters, at times I felt it was too drawn out. The final third of the book could have been condensed and more to the point in my opinion. There were a few secondary characters with not enough follow-through (or perhaps too much inclusion to start), and some editing errors and minor inconsistencies, but nothing that would take me too far out of the story.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and would definitely read more by this author.

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Rach

Shameless by Nana Malone and M. Malone

Shameless by Nana Malone and M. Malone

Shameless Cover

4 out of 5 Stars

*I was provided a copy of Shameless by the authors in exchange for an honest review. I am not compensated for my honest opinion.*

Romantic Suspense

Lucia DeMarco has made it her life’s mission to find out why her brother Rafe was killed. In the meantime, she just wants to live. A date with the cute guy who works with the city’s records while she’s searching for information seems like a harmless idea. Too bad her brother’s best friend, Noah Blake, feels otherwise.

Noah Blake swore he would protect Lucia at all costs, and that includes protecting her from jerks who aren’t good enough for her. Realizing he’s one of those jerks doesn’t stop his attraction from growing for the girl he used to view as a little sister. But staying away and staying out of her life are out of the question, especially now that she’s in more danger than she realizes.

Shameless is the first book in a romantic suspense series, and it will capture your attention with its wit and humor. The brother-figure turned romantic interest provides a nice amount of push and pull between the characters, and the tension between them is thick right from the start. I especially enjoyed when Noah intruded on Lucia’s date. There was plenty of comedy as well as forging of the attraction between the characters to carry the reader throughout the book.

This first book in the series focused on the beginning of the relationship between Lucia and Noah, and it could have used a little more buildup on the investigation into Rafe’s death. It didn’t feel like the investigation moved very much by the time the book ended. I did enjoy getting to know both characters, however Noah’s thoughts on how he wasn’t good enough for Lucia became repetitive after a while.

Overall, the story was well-written and left me wanting to know what happens next. I would definitely be interested in reading the next book in the series to find out more about Rafe’s death and how it affects the main characters and their relationship.

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Rach

One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

Title Cover

4 out of 5 Stars

Real people. Real struggles. Very real emotion. Jojo Moyes delivers all of that in spades in the novel One Plus One.

Jess is a single mother. Since her husband left she’s barely making ends meet. Her sixteen-year-old stepson Nicky is being bullied, and her ten-year-old daughter Tanzie is a genius at math. One math competition could allow Tanzie to go to a better school, get a better education, get out of their horrible neighborhood. But without even enough money to get Tanzie to the competition, there’s no hope of getting ahead in this world.

Ed Nicholls may be a rich software developer, but he has problems of his own. He’s facing the possibility of prison for just trying to let a woman down easy. When he crosses paths with Jess and offers to drive her family to the math competition, it should be a simple trip and something to take his mind off his own problems. Falling in love certainly wasn’t on the agenda.

This book caught me up in the lives of its characters and kept me enthralled throughout. One of the most immediate things that drew me in was that the main characters did not even like each other at the start. Jess was “the help.” She cleaned Ed’s house, he didn’t have a clue who she was or what her situation was, and he literally slammed a door in her face. Ed was just another rich guy who didn’t know how good he had it. And once the two got into a car together, they got even more prickly toward each other. Such an awkward situation that had no choice but to turn into some kind of friendship.

The character growth was amazing on all fronts. Jess needed to learn to accept help. Ed needed to realize his situation wasn’t the worst thing out there. But even Nicky and Tanzie had much to learn, and I loved that Nicky and Ed formed a bit of a friendship that allowed Nicky to grow beyond his little neighborhood and find his place in the world.

The reasons for only 4 out of 5 stars were somewhat minor but enough of a drawback for me. Overall, I loved the book and was filled with emotion while reading it. But there were a few inconsistencies in the story, like the dog being in two places at once, which tend to draw me out of the story. The other thing for me was that while Ed was a loveable character as he was written, it wasn’t exactly the way it was depicted in the summary of the book. I expected some more quirks, or that he’d be a little more insecure. He was certainly uninformed about financial matters, but for the most part his character seemed to be fairly confident. He was no pushover with his ex-wife, and never seemed to doubt why women were attracted to him.

This was an enjoyable and emotional journey, and I will definitely read more by this author.

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Rach

The Czar (A Standalone Hockey Billionaire Romance) by Selena Laurence

The Czar (A Standalone Hockey Billionaire Romance) by Selena Laurence

The Czar Cover

4 out of 5 Stars

*I was provided a copy of The Czar by the author in exchange for an honest review. I am not compensated for my honest opinion.*

Mick Petrovich’s life has been built around playing professional hockey and enjoying no-strings-attached time with the puck bunnies. When an injury puts him out of hockey for good, it throws everything he’s lived for into turmoil. His father’s pressure to join the family business only makes matters worse. Mick has very personal reasons for wanting to stay as far away from the vodka business as possible.

Solana Werner has just landed her dream job in the marketing department of Petrovich Vodka. She’ll let nothing stand in the way of proving herself in the corporate world, and she may have something to prove in her personal life as well. Her growing attraction to the heir-apparent of Petrovich Vodka, Mick, is dangerous in more ways than she ever imagined. Both Mick and Solana need to figure out what they really want out of life before it’s too late to have it all.

The Czar is a standalone romance from trusted romance author Selena Laurence. Ms. Laurence can always be counted on to deliver a solid plot and well-developed characters, and this book is no exception. Ever the playboy, Mick’s career-ending injury forced him to wake up and take a hard look at his life. From the beginning of the story to the end, Mick worked his way through a life-changing journey to figure out what came next. In addition to the romance between Mick and Solana, Mick also had to choose a new career path and resolve relationship conflicts with his father over the family business.

One of the things that drew me to Mick beyond the sexy hockey player persona was his Russian heritage. It was incorporated into many aspects of the story, from the food to his nickname for Solana, and gave more depth to his character. I also enjoyed reading about Solana’s Hispanic background and how each character respected where the other came from.

The relationship developed at a nice pace with both Solana and Mick having to come to terms with their feelings for each other in their own time. The only minor drawback from this story for me was that the problems in their relationship could have been avoided, but the growth of each character kept me engaged and turning pages.

Overall, it this was another enjoyable book, and I will continue to read Ms. Laurence’s work as I can always count on an appealing story. All of my reviews of Ms. Laurence’s books can be found under the Author Spotlight tab.

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Happy reading!

Rach

Complexity (The Kinky Connect Chronicles Book 4) by Harper Miller

Complexity (The Kinky Connect Chronicles Book 4) by Harper Miller

Complexity Cover

4 out of 5 Stars

*I was provided a copy of Complexity by the author in exchange for an honest review. I am not compensated for my honest opinion.*

Personal trainer Manny is always up for a good time. Doesn’t matter if it’s with a woman or a man. He’s secure in his sexuality and enjoys the no-strings sex he can get from the kinky website where he’s a member. But when Chris comes along, everything changes. Manny develops feelings he wasn’t looking for. Even if Chris feels the same, an open relationship between the two is impossible due to Chris’ life in the spotlight.

Complexity is book 4 in the Kinky Connect Chronicles, which features kinky standalone novellas with interracial couples. Each story is told as a confession of one of the Kinky Connect members, providing the reader with character-driven narration rather than the watered-down version found in typical fiction. This story is no exception with Manny’s slang and Hispanic phrases. As with all of the stories in this series, it’s well-written and enjoyable.

Beyond the method of the telling of the story, I liked both main characters and could understand their positions but had a bit of a difficult time grasping and accepting the conflict between them. Manny lamented about wanting to find his Lego piece (a metaphor I appreciated), and then he was upset with the situation when he actually did fall in love. I understand that the length of the story didn’t allow for much development, yet still felt something was missing that would have allowed me to connect more with the relationship. Manny’s anger at Chris for not telling him who he really was up front didn’t resonate with me either. They met through a website, so it was unlikely for either of them to spill their secrets before meeting in person.

Overall, it was an enjoyable tale with a unique style. Ms. Miller will keep me coming back for more with stories like this.

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Rach

Touch of Trouble (Touch Series Book 4 by Cara Dee

Touch of Trouble (Touch Series Book 4 by Cara Dee

Touch of Trouble Cover

4 out of 5 Stars

*I was provided a copy of Touch of Trouble by the author in exchange for an honest review. I am not compensated for my honest opinion.*

Kayla Brandon has finally found a place where she completely fits in, both in her kinky lifestyle and in love. Nicholas Ford is the perfect Daddy for this little girl, and she’s ready to spend forever with him. But first she’ll have to make peace with her demons from the past. And a little matchmaking along the way won’t hurt.

Touch of Trouble is the 4th book in the Touch series and is best read in order with the other books of the series. Nicholas and Kayla’s relationship began in book 1, and now Kayla has to face her family in order to move forward with Nicholas.

I enjoy Ms. Dee’s writing tremendously, and this book is no exception. Her characters are real people and her kink is realistic. She doesn’t skirt around the rules of the BDSM lifestyle and offers readers what feels like a true glimpse into various kinks. It’s always hot and entertaining.

I can appreciate that different kinks are for different people, and unfortunately this one just isn’t for me. I don’t mind reading about Daddies and littles, but I have a difficult time getting in the mind of a little. I enjoyed the first book of the story more because it was from Nicholas’ point of view. With this book being told from Kayla’s point of view, I couldn’t connect as well with her even though I like her character in all the other books.

Overall, it was an integral part of the series as a whole and well-written. I enjoyed the other characters at Switch, and look forward to the stories that follow.

All of my reviews of Ms. Dee’s works can be found by selecting her name from the Author Spotlight tab.

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Rach

It’s In His Smile (A Red River Valley Novel) by Shelly Alexander

It’s In His Smile (A Red River Valley Novel) by Shelly Alexander

It’s In His Smile Cover

4 out of 5 Stars

*I was provided a copy of It’s In His Smile by the author in exchange for an honest review. I am not compensated for my honest opinion.*

Miranda Cruz has something to prove to herself and Red River. She’s determined to become a respected business owner and overcome the bad reputation her mother saddled her with. Witnessing her mother’s mistakes, Miranda is determined to do it all on her own and not depend on any man.

Talmadge Oaks has a life outside Red River, a life that’s beginning to fall apart and desperately needs his attention. When he realizes the only solution to his problem is to stay in town and help Miranda with the renovations of her inn, Talmadge gets more than he bargained for. The undeniable chemistry between the couple sizzles, but secrets and independence just might push them apart.

It’s In His Smile is book three in the Red River Valley series and is completely standalone. It is a contemporary romance and women’s fiction novel, with Miranda asserting her independence and desire to stand on her own without a man to support her. The story is well written with a strong plot and strong characters.

I really enjoyed the relationship between Miranda and Talmadge, but above that was the fact both main characters had issues outside of the relationship. This gave the story more depth, keeping me interested in their lives beyond whether they would end up together or not.

The only drawback from this was how it went a little overboard in Miranda asserting her independence. I realize the characterization was true throughout the story, however after a time it felt like a bit too much. The ending was just okay for me, but I did appreciate the story overall.

I would read more stories from this series as well as more from this author.

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Rach

A Lush Rhapsody (A Rhapsody Novel) by Selena Laurence

A Lush Rhapsody (A Rhapsody Novel) by Selena Laurence

A Lush Rhapsody Cover

4 out of 5 Stars

*I was provided a copy of A Lush Rhapsody by the author in exchange for an honest review. I am not compensated for my honest opinion.*

As the newest member of the Lush family, Tully O’Rourke has a lot to prove. It’s not easy being the new guy—or girl—in such a close-knit group. Lush has been around for a while, and not everyone is happy about adding a keyboardist and backup vocalist and changing their sound. But if there’s one thing they all agree on, it’s that Tully needs to stay away from Blaze Davis, the lead guitarist for rival band Rhapsody. Easier said than done when the two bands are on tour together and the sparks between Tully and Blaze begin to fly.

Peterson “Blaze” Davis has something to prove. Winning the Superbowl Halftime Show spot will ensure his father sees just how far he’s made it in the career his father doesn’t approve of. Blaze will do whatever it takes to come out on top, and he doesn’t care who he has to step on in the process. His budding relationship with Tully and newly-formed truce with Lush are put on the line, along with Blaze’s sobriety.

A Lush Rhapsody is a crossover rockstar romance novel by bestselling author Selena Laurence. The Lush band is back with a new addition in order to freshen up their sound, and Tully O’Rourke is out to prove herself to her new bandmates as well as her family. The book introduces the Rhapsody band members, setting the reader up for the new series about this rival band. Ms. Laurence does a great job of incorporating the secondary characters into this book to give us some insight into what they’ll be up against in the coming stories without detracting from the main plot of this book.

Both Tully and Blaze had depth to their characterizations, and both had their own personal issues to overcome, keeping the story interesting. Everything was nicely woven together, bringing out some strong emotions in several places. I was hooked on both main characters right from the start, and their attraction was palpable, practically sizzling off the screen of my e-reader.

The only drawback was that with the story told in alternating points of view, at times things were glossed over where I would have like to see some more depth. Being told a character was laughing or crying without feeling the emotion with them left me somewhat unsatisfied. That’s not to say it happened regularly; I certainly laughed and cried right along with the characters in many places. There were just a few places where I would have liked to see a little more.

Overall, I enjoyed the book from start to finish and look forward to reading more about the Rhapsody band members in the coming books. Although this book is part of a series, it can be read as a standalone.

All of my reviews of Ms. Laurence’s work can be found under the Author Spotlight tab.

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Rach