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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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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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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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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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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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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Paper Castles by Terri Lee

Paper Castles by Terri Lee

Paper Castles Cover

4.5 out of 5 Stars

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

In 1963, Georgia Socialite Savannah Palmerton has what looks like the perfect life: a successful husband, two children, and a beautiful house. But looks can be deceiving. Secrets hide behind that perfect façade, secrets that are just waiting to be let into the light. With Savannah’s marriage and family crumbling around her, she must search through the rubble for the woman beneath the garden parties and pretty dresses. She can’t even begin to love anyone else until she learns to love herself.

Paper Castles is an expertly woven tale of lies, betrayal, and murder. I became immediately invested in the life of the main character, and I was hooked to the story right up until the end. The story is set in the midst of John F. Kennedy’s assassination and the civil rights movement, and the historical details added a layer of uniqueness. The author kept true to the time period in the characters’ actions, clothing, and outside occurrences. It was a different world 50 years ago, and women didn’t just divorce their husbands without becoming the talk of the town. Mental illness was a dirty little secret. Ms. Lee convinced me I was living in the 60s with the way her characters reacted.

The plot of the story was much more than just one genre. It was about family, finding yourself, finding romance when you thought life was over, and most of all it had suspense. The murder investigation was well executed, keeping me guessing until the end without unnecessary surprises.

The single reason for rating this book less than 5 stars is that it could use another pass by a proofreader. The errors were noticeable enough to catch my attention but thankfully not enough to draw me out of the story. With such a fantastic story and the wonderful talent with words Ms. Lee has, I hate to see it dragged down by incorrect punctuation.

I truly enjoyed this book and Ms. Lee’s writing and look forward to reading more of her work.

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Boundary: The Other Horizons Trilogy (Book 1) by Mary Victoria Johnson

Boundary: The Other Horizons Trilogy (Book 1) by Mary Victoria Johnson

Boundary Cover

4 out of 4 Stars

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

To an outside observer, Penny and her five friends live a life of luxury. They have everything they need provided for them, they live in a mansion, and they can do almost whatever they want within the boundary of that space. But it’s that boundary that makes Penny question everything around her. Touching the invisible wall surrounding the property will fry someone to a crisp, and Penny and her friends are essentially being held hostage inside it. They’re not exactly being held against their will, at least not until Penny begins questioning how they got there and why they can’t leave.

Penny’s curiosity not only angers their already sinister master, but it also begins a series of trials that pit friend against friend because the winner will get to leave the boundary. Alliances are formed and help is provided from unexpected sources, but not everything is as it seems. As the trials become more and more dangerous, it will be every man for him or herself.

Boundary is book one of the young adult The Other Horizons Trilogy, and although it is a standalone book, it does set the stage for the next book in the series. It is full of action and adventure, mystery, and fantasy, as well as being historical. This made for quite an interesting combination.

Although the story felt slow-moving at first, there was always the feeling that something more was under the surface. I immediately wanted to read on to find out why Penny and her friends were not able to leave the boundary. Even the somewhat mundane parts showing everyday life at the manor kept me involved and turning pages. The author did a good job of including small details that played into the plot in a larger way.

Overall this was a great book that I enjoyed reading, however I was left confused by some issues at the end. I’d be giving away too much of the story to go into detail, so suffice it to say these were not the type of issues that will be resolved in the next book; rather, they were the type that were resolved within this book but either done too quickly or without enough explanation for me. Still, I appreciated the journey and would be likely to read more by this author.

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Speaking Greek (Foreign Exchange Book 1) by Selena Laurence

Speaking Greek (Foreign Exchange Book 1) by Selena Laurence

Speaking Greek Cover

4 out of 5 Stars

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

Rules are important to Tess Richardson. Her life has always been structured by them. But the moment she steps off the boat and onto a Greek island for her internship, she realizes that rules can be broken. When Tess’ feelings for her billionaire boss Nico begin to grow, she’ll have to decide if she’s going to take a chance and break some rules of her own.

Nico Stephanos has lived a life with no rules. As the son of a business mogul, Nico’s had anything and everything he wants with no questions asked. Meeting Tess, his rule-following intern, begins to put things into a different perspective. While Nico learns to live life like the rest of the population, he discovers rules being broken in a different way. Nico will have to figure out where his true loyalties lie—with his family or with following the rules.

Speaking Greek is a contemporary romance set on the beautiful island of Georgios in Greece where Tess lands an internship with a shipping company. I appreciated the juxtaposition of the main characters’ traits—one was a rule-follower and one was a rule-breaker—which set up what each of them had to overcome. Tess needed to learn that sometimes it’s okay to break rules but you have to know which ones are okay to break. Nico needed to realize that the fortunate life he led wasn’t all it seemed.

Tess was a strong character, another quality I admired. She’d been brought up following rules her whole life and wasn’t about to give up everything she believed in just for a fling with a guy who was off-limits anyway. Even when she did bend the rules, she never totally lost her perspective. Nico’s character underwent great change and growth throughout the story, starting as a privileged playboy and finding his way to a more balanced life.

While the romance between polar opposites was attractive, the book didn’t hold me as much as I expected it to. I kept reading, interested to find out how things were going to play out with the relationship between the main characters as well as the business issues, but it was missing that wow factor that really grabs you. At the start, Nico was already thinking about how his life needed a change, so it was no surprise that his attraction to Tess made that happen. There was insta-attraction between the characters, and it felt like both were losing their hearts before really getting to know one another. I would have enjoyed seeing the Greek customs more if they were only shown instead of told.

Overall, I did enjoy the book and would read more in the series. I’ve read some of Ms. Laurence’s Lush series, which I really loved. Speaking Greek is book one in the Foreign Exchange series and can be read as a standalone.

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Stirred by Nancy S. Thompson – Review and Giveaway

Stirred by Nancy S. Thompson

Stirred Cover

4 out of 5 Stars

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

At forty-one, Eden MacLaird appears to have everything—a husband and son, a beautiful house, and a posh lifestyle. But her marriage is a sham, and finding her husband in bed with her best friend only makes her realize what she’s really missing: love. A chance meeting in a bar with Sean Bennett could change everything.

Sixteen years her junior, Sean awakens a sexual desire in Eden she’s long forgotten about. Just when she thinks she can have it all, a double murder points to Eden and Sean. As they get swept up in the investigation, long-buried secrets are revealed and Eden will have to decide if she really trusts Sean.

Stirred is an erotic romance with elements of mystery and suspense that will draw you in right from the prologue. There’s deceit, murder, intrigue, and of course hot sex. The relationship between Eden and Sean is built up nicely while Eden re-evaluates her world once she catches her husband and best friend in bed together and makes the resulting connection believable. The story is told in first person point of view from both Eden and Sean, giving the reader a solid understanding of where each character is coming from.

While the mystery continued until near the very end, there were plenty of clues along the way. Even though I essentially figured out what was going on, it didn’t take away from the enjoyment of seeing everything resolved. There were plenty of things left to learn, and Ms. Thompson has a way of shocking you with what happens.

That said, there were some scenes that were quickly summarized that I would have liked to see in more detail, like Eden’s discussion with her son. Ian was a major reason for Eden’s hesitation in continuing her relationship with Sean, yet he was mostly only included in passing. Some of the secondary relationships felt forced in order to make the plot work. Eden and Reely were supposedly best friends for years, yet Eden seemed to dislike Reely even before catching her in bed with Declan. Sean was best friends with Trinitee, who was several years younger than him, but he was always quick to point out her flaws and shared her life story with Eden without much prompting.

Despite some drawbacks, this was an entertaining, mysterious, steamy story. I look forward to seeing what Ms. Thompson comes up with next.

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Stirred Summary:

I’m Eden MacLaird, and Fate screwed me good at the age of twenty-one, stole my first love, then my first child. Twenty years later, I still haven’t found my happily-ever-after. Sure, from the outside, I have it all, including Declan, my gorgeous, rich-as-sin husband. But things aren’t what they seem, and catching Declan in bed with my best friend destroys any dreams I harbor for love, much less sexual fulfillment.

Then in walks Sean Bennett…

Just months away from earning his post-graduate law degree, Sean’s smart, driven, and serious, but an unexpected encounter between us in a bar one night changes everything. His best friend, Trinitee, warns against getting too involved, but the heat between us is beyond intense, and neither of us are willing to walk away.

With my marriage in shambles, I’m eager to make a go of it with Sean, despite our sixteen-year age difference. But while I relish my sexual reawakening, I fear giving up the posh life I’ve grown accustomed to. That life, however, and everything in it, comes crashing down as bodies start piling up around us, and all clues point to me and Sean.

Secrets, betrayal, and revenge threaten to destroy not just my carefully-crafted reputation, but my very life. With our freedom at stake, Sean and I join forces to uncover those plotting against us. But as doubt and evidence mount, I must choose: give in to my suspicions and save myself, or trust our new-found love and save us both.

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Exclusive Excerpt:

Anticipation (1)

Her hands caught mine and stilled it in place, not letting me go any farther, but not pushing me away either. She was very conflicted; that much was certain—the look in her eyes, the way she worried her bottom lip with her teeth. And it would work to my benefit, I was sure. But instead of emboldening me, it gave me pause, and my longing inexplicably shifted from what I wanted for myself, to what I wanted for her—to feel desired, to know she was someone’s fantasy, a dream come true. I would show her what she’d been missing all these years, what her husband had denied her, that she was worth the effort, worth giving to, worth loving. And in my sudden need to be what her husband had not, I felt a fullness swell inside me. Not just between my legs, or even my heart, but in my soul.

Caught in that epiphany, I leaned in, my mouth a mere inch from her right ear.

“What are you so afraid of, Eden?” I breathed, and slowly, I moved to face her, so close, all I had to do was stretch my neck, ever so slightly, and my mouth was on hers, gently, my tongue a flick against her lips as I brushed across it. Next, my mouth was at her left ear. “Why not take the risk?” I pressed but for a moment before my mouth reclaimed hers.

I kissed her deeply this time, my tongue probing for hers, and, after a moment’s hesitation, she met me head on. My hand between her knees pressed forward, not rough, but definitely insistent. Undeniable. Her hands, once a tense and formidable barrier, relaxed, though she kept them resting against mine as my fingers edged upward, gently easing her legs apart to allow me access. And there it was, the lacy edge of her panties, and an intense, scorching heat. My heart ricocheted in response.

Eden sucked in a soft hiss as her mouth retreated from mine, but, though she pulled back for a split-second, a half-hearted attempt to regroup and regain control, she knew, as well as I, that it was impossible, and her mouth returned to the one place we both knew it belonged, right against mine. But even that proved too much for her, and she dipped her chin to lean her forehead against my cheek as she panted in anticipation.

Because that’s what this was. Anticipation. I hadn’t really touched her—not yet. I hadn’t invaded the space her wedding vows had long ago promised to one man, and one man only. That anticipation she felt was her sense of decency and fidelity warring with her desire, the basest need a human could ever experience.


Nancy S. Thompson Bio:

Nancy is a California transplant currently living in Seattle, Washington with her husband of 23 years, their son, a student at Seattle University, their giant snow dog, Jack, and his kitty, Skye. She works as a freelance editor for her publisher and writer friends and also has her own interior design business within the model home merchandising industry. When she’s not writing or editing, Nancy keeps herself busy by cooking and baking.


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