Review: Exclusively Yours by Shannon Stacey

Exclusively YoursExclusively Yours by Shannon Stacey

Kowalski Family #1 // 282 pp. // Contemp. Romance // Carina Press // May 2010

GOODREADS SUMMARY: When Keri Daniels’ editor finds out she has previous carnal knowledge of reclusive bestselling author Joe Kowalski, she gives Keri a choice: get an interview or get a new job.

Joe’s never forgotten the first girl to break his heart, so he’s intrigued to hear Keri’s back in town–and looking for him. Despite his intense need for privacy, he’ll grant Keri an interview if it means a chance to finish what they started in high school.

He proposes an outrageous plan–for every day she survives with his family on their annual camping and four-wheeling trip, Keri can ask one question. Keri agrees; she’s worked too hard to walk away from her career.

But the chemistry between them is still as potent as the bug spray, Joe’s sister is out to avenge his broken heart and Keri hasn’t ridden an ATV since she was ten. Who knew a little blackmail, a whole lot of family and some sizzling romantic interludes could make Keri reconsider the old dream of Keri & Joe 2gether 4ever.

After months of hearing about the notorious Kowalski men, I figured it was high time I found out what all the hoopla was about. Enter Exclusively Yours, book one of the Kowalski Family series. Wow. I finished this book in a matter of HOURS!

To be honest, I was expecting a typical light contemporary romance — which I have no problem with; in fact, it’s one of my favorite genres — but what I got instead was so much more than “fluff.” Exclusively Yours is wrought with complicated family relationships, as well as two people whose love for each other is both long-lasting and complex.

I was taken by Joe Kowalski from the very beginning. Not only is he an incorrigible flirt, but he’s also up front and honest — with both his family and Keri. Also, despite not having any kids of his own, he comes across as a man who truly loves his family.

Keri is also likable, but I have to say that I rolled by eyes at her a few times. I admire the fact that she takes her career seriously, but there are a few instances where she’s way too prissy (i.e. cliché bitching over a broken nail and harping about needing a facial). I get that she’s spent the last 20 years in LA, but her high-maintenance attitude doesn’t really fit with her character, who seems fairly down-to-earth. On the other hand, it’s refreshing to see a woman portrayed as career-driven instead of one so quick to drop everything in her life for the hero. I actually appreciated the fact that she follows through with her assignment after their time together. Let the hero do the chasing!

The rest of Kowalski family plays an important role as well, especially Terry, Joe’s twin and Kerry’s ex-best friend. Her marriage troubles add another layer to the story, which made me sympathize for her… at times. However, I’d have to say that about, oh, 85% of the time she is a major bitch. Yeah, I said it. I get that she’s going through a tough time, but more often than not she’s just a spiteful shrew. Ugh! I know that Ms. Stacey did an excellent job with this story if she could make me love this book despite an unlikeable character. Though it’s Terry’s issues that play a role in setting the story apart from other stock contemporary romances.

Overall, I have to to say that Exclusively Yours is a great introduction to the Kowalski family. At the moment there are five more books in the series, which means I have five more opportunities to delve deeper into the Kowalski family tree!

Review: In Rides Trouble by Julie Ann Walker

Women love a man with scars. With scars come stories, and women are suckers for a good scar story. Ladies, am I right? In this sequel to Julie Ann Walker’s Hell on Wheels, not only does our hero, Frank, have the most rugged of scars, but also he’s grouchy with a capital “G”. Since grouchy heroes are often the most redeeming, this makes Frank what I like to call a supreme alpha hero. However, his ‘tude doesn’t stop our heroine, Becky, from using all her tricks and wiles to go after him. In this case, her tricks happen to be in the form of lollipops and accidental kidnapping, which seems a bit unorthodox when read out of context, but trust me, it all makes sense when you read the book.

So you’ve got a scarred hero, a lollipop-loving heroine, and a whole team of Black Knights ready to kick ass and take names. Sounds like a good time to me… So what are you waiting for? Click! Buy! Read!

 

Review: Craving Perfect by Liz Fichera

Everyone has something they wish they could change about themselves. I’d be lying if I said I never peeked over the fence and longed for the grass on the other side because it looked greener. However, like the great Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Why try to be like someone else when you can instead strive to be the best you instead? This is a lesson that the main character in Liz Fichera’s Craving Perfect learns the hard way. If you’ve ever found yourself wishing you could be someone else — or a cooler/fitter/more exciting version of yourself — this book will speak to you.

Be yourself; everyone else is already taken — Oscar Wilde.

 

Review: Sweet Kiss of Summer by Sophie Gunn

Everyone knows that a good book has the power to take you places — whether it be a sandy beach or grassy picnic in the park (both places I’d love to be right now). For those of you still in the throes of winter chill and dreaming of warmer temps, I recommend Sophie Gunn’s Sweet Kiss of Summer. A cute, heartwarming read, this book is sure to keep you toasty while waiting for spring to make its debut.

"Sweet Kiss of Summer" by Sophie Gunn

Review: Savannah’s Ghost Tale by Kali Willows

Savannah's Ghost Tale (1 Night Stand, #45)Savannah’s Ghost Tale by Kali Willows

1 Night Stand // 38 pp. // Paranormal Romance // Decadent Publishing // Oct. 2011

GOODREADS SUMMARY: Savannah Teale has an obsession with the supernatural—to disprove it. An unorthodox Ghost Hunter with a dark secret, she doesn’t believe in life after death. Not anymore. Being romantically challenged since the traumatic death of her fiancé, she has no interest in dating, but her sister’s loving interference has led her to accept a date for a 1Night Stand.

Cameron Evans is one of Savannah’s most handsome, charismatic, and sexy bachelors. He’s an exceptionally gifted tour guide, and a psychic, but hasn’t learned how to turn off his gifts. Since his conversations with the dead are a turn-off for most women—to put it mildly—Cameron has turned to Madame Eve to find a woman who can accept him for himself and all he has to give.

They may be a great match—if a certain, lingering ghost would just step out of the picture. Continue reading

Review: Wishing for Grace by Inez Kelley

Wishing for GraceWishing for Grace by Inez Kelley

Turn It Up sequel // 28 pp. // Contemp. Romance // self-pub e-book // 2011

SUMMARY: Caz Talbot is a reformed rock ‘n roll bad boy who’s still fighting demons from his past. Although he’s straight-laced and sober now, he’s still suffering the consequences from things he’s done in his past. Though it gives him great material to write soul-searching ballads, it also gives him nightmares as well. He’s made a lot of mistakes but his biggest regret involves his daughter, who he’s never met. He’d move heaven and earth to see her just once and his heart nearly explodes when he gets the chance. Is he lucky enough to also get a second chance at love? Continue reading

Review: Turn It Up by Inez Kelley

Turn It UpTurn It Up by Inez Kelley

230 pp. // Contemp. Romance // Carina Press // August 2011

SUMMARY: Charlie and Bastian, aka Honeypot and Dr. Hot, are sex-pert radio hosts whose show covers any and everything under the sun regarding relationships and sex. Off-air, Charlie is a bombshell who’s open and upfront with her sexuality, while Bastian is a good-boy doctor. The two have been friends for years and Bastian has been secretly in love with Charlie for almost just as long.

When Bastian finally admits his feelings to Charlie, Charlie’s intrigued by the thought of sex with Bastian but she refuses to commit to more for fear of losing her best friend to a doomed relationship. Bastian is desperate to show Charlie that they can be great together and proposes a bet: can he get Charlie to agree to marriage before she can seduce him to bed? It’s a battle of willpower as they both try to get the other to crumble first, and in this case, all’s fair in love and sex. Continue reading

Review: Real Men Will by Victoria Dahl

Real Men Will (Donovan Brothers Brewery, #3)Real Men Will by Victoria Dahl

Donovan Brothers Brewery #3 // 336 pp. // Contemp. Romance // HQN // Oct. 2011

GOODREADS SUMMARY: It was meant to be a one-night stand. One night of passion. Scorching hot. Then Beth Cantrell and Eric Donovan were supposed to go their separate ways. That’s the only reason he lied about his name, telling her he was really his wild younger brother. Hiding his own identity as the conservative Donovan. The “good” one.

But passion has its own logic, and Eric finds he cannot forget the sable-haired beauty with whom he shared one night of passion. When Beth discovers that Eric has lied, however, she knows he cannot be trusted. Her mind tells her to forget the blue-eyed charmer. If only every fiber of her being did not burn to call him back.

Continue reading

Review: Nothing But Trouble by Rachel Gibson

Nothing But Trouble (Chinooks Hockey Team, #5)Nothing But Trouble by Rachel Gibson

Chinooks Hockey Team #5 // 354 pp. // Contemp. Romance // Avon // Apr. 2010

GOODREADS SUMMARY: Trouble… Chelsea Ross’ acting career has been a total bust. The closest she ever came to stardom was her brilliant performance as “Pretty Dead Girl #1.” But leaving Hollywood to become the personal assistant to a famous hockey player could be her stupidest career move ever.

More Trouble… Injured superstar Mark Bressler’s glory days are over. The bad-boy ex-jock could at least be civil to the pint-sized, pink-haired bombshell who the Seattle Chinooks hired to be his P.A. If Chelsea didn’t need the money, she’d be running from the world’s biggest jerk as fast as her feet could carry her.

Big Trouble! Chelsea can deal with Mark’s rotten attitude and dark moods. The problem is those biceps and that red-hot bod! And when the bad boy starts to put the moves on her, Chelsea knows it’s time she banished him to the penalty box…if only she could resist the kind of trouble he has in mind.

I gobbled this book up in less than two days! I have read all but one of the Chinooks Hockey Team books and they always make me laugh out loud. This was definitely the case here, as Chelsea and her “cell phone antics” had me giggling while reading on the subway.

As much as I wanted to give this book 4 stars like I did with all the previous Chinooks titles, it started a bit slow and the relationship between Chelsea and her twin sister, Bo, kind of irritated me. Bo came across as judgmental and condescending and Chelsea just sort of took it laying down simply because they were sisters. I did like Chelsea’s character and her witty attitude, but for someone who could talk back so easily, it seemed far-fetched that she would let her sister get away with treating her like that.

I was also a bit disappointed with the sex scenes in the book. They were very watered down and took forever to get to. I understand that in contemporary romances there must be tension built between the characters, but the steamy scenes (if you can call them that) between the two characters doesn’t even occur until about 200 pages into the book – when you’re more than halfway done with the story!

The saving grace of it all was the characters. Chelsea is a smart ass with a love for ostentatious clothes, while Mark is a gruff, broken-down (ex) hockey player who is brought to life by her. Plus, Gibson glosses over a few of the other players on the team and they make great side characters because they’re so believable and their personalities make you smile (Vlad, anyone?).