Archive for the ‘3 Star Books’ Category

Before We Fall by Courtney Cole

Title:Before We Fall
Author:Courtney Cole
PublisherForever
Publication Date:December 2013
Publisher's DescriptionSometimes, one dark moment is all it takes to turn your world black...

For 24-year old Dominic Kinkaide, that moment took place on the night of his high school graduation. One dark incident changed him forever. He's a hardened actor now, famous in the eyes of the world, but tortured in his own. He doesn't care about much of anything, except for losing himself in the roles that he plays.

23-year old Jacey Vincent doesn't realize how much her father's indifference has affected her. She is proof that sometimes it isn't one specific moment that wrecks a person, but rather it's an absence of moments. She's like a bird with a broken wing-strong yet fragile, as she tries to float through life, finding acceptance in the arms of random guys, one after the other... to fill the void that her father left in her.

Until she meets Dominic.

After jaded Dominic and strong-willed Jacey are thrown together, his secret and her issues create a dark and damaged energy that will soon turn their attraction to each other into an explosive storm.

Even though when the clouds have cleared and the dust has settled, both of them are almost obliterated... they've learned a priceless lesson.

Sometimes, before we fall... we fly.
My rating:***

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I haven’t read the previous books in this series, but I enjoyed Before We Fall. I thought that Dom was an interesting character, and his particular hangup and kinks were not things that I’d run across before. I disliked that they were made out to be solely about how he coped with his previous tragedies. There are people who enjoy voyeurism and Dom’s other activities, not because they are atoning or compensating for past hurts, but simply because they like it. Jacey’s pop psychology wore on me, although I do think that Dom would benefit from some real serious attention from a mental health specialist.

Although I liked this book well enough, it didn’t pique my interest enough for me to read the previous entries in this series.

My Sweetest Escape by Chelsea M. Cameron

Title:My Sweetest Escape
Author:Chelsea M. Cameron
PublisherHarlequin HQN
Publication Date:January 28, 2014
Publisher's DescriptionThe past will always find you

Jos Archer was the girl with the perfect life—until the night it all came crashing down around her. Now, nine months later, she still hasn't begun to pick up the pieces. Even transferring to a new college and living under the watchful eye of her older sister, Renee, isn't enough to help her feel normal again.

And then she meets Dusty Sharp. For reasons Jos can't begin to fathom, the newly reformed campus bad boy seems determined to draw her out of her shell. And if she's not careful, his knowing green eyes and wicked smile will make her feel things she's no longer sure she deserves.

But even as Dusty coaxes Jos to open up about the past, he's hiding secrets of his own. Secrets about the night her old life fell apart. When the truth is finally revealed, will it bring them closer together—or tear them apart for good?
My rating:***

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Neither terrible enough to scar you for life nor well-written enough to be memorable, this story brings nothing new to the New Adult genre. A lot of what happened here felt manufactured and unnecessary. From little things (Dusty is introduced to Jos as Dusty, but she knows his name is Dustin – how?) to looming problems (why is Renee so insane about Jos; one and a half lost semesters hardly explain her jailkeeper mentality toward her only slightly younger sister), so much about this book felt off to me. Dusty was actually a pretty stellar character, although I found his see-sawing to be tiresome and annoying. There’s such a thing as genuine confusion, but at some point, his behavior toward Jos felt needlessly hurtful. Likewise, both of their needs to assume the blame for something that was not their fault made me want to say, “Girls! Girls! You’re both pretty.” (or “Boys! Boys! Your penises are exactly the same length.” I’m not a sexist.)

This is the second book in the series, but I haven’t read the previous titles, so maybe I’d like Renee and the other housemates better if I was already familiar with them. As it was, I found them a bit cloying and far too involved in Jos’ life. Renee I sort of understand, but everybody else needed to take a giant step back and mind their own beeswax. Hannah, who I suspect will be the subject of a future installment in the series, also annoyed me, but for different reasons [Nevermind, just read that this is a two-book series. My apologies!]. She betrayed Jos’s confidences twice; while I know that this came from a good place and the results were ultimately favorable, if I were Jos I’d never tell Hannah anything that I didn’t want anybody else to know.

If you’ve already read the previous book in this series, I would think that you’d like to read this one, too, but reading this book left me with no desire to read the previous title.

I received this book free of charge from Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review and my last clean pair of undies.

Faster Longer by Colleen Masters

Title:Faster, Longer (Take Me... 3)
Author:Colleen Masters
PublisherHearts Collective
Publication Date:December 2013
Publisher's DescriptionTwo star crossed lovers racing together at breakneck speeds, barreling along at 200 miles per hour willing to destroy everything and everyone in their path.

Siena can't escape.

She's trapped now.

How did she fall so helplessly, recklessly in love with the one man who could single handedly turn her life upside down?

Harrison has her wrapped up in his strong, muscular, tattooed arms. Right where he wants her. Right where she wants to be.

Even as the championship is decided and fate comes crashing down around them—betrayal, blackmail, death...all seem like nothing compared to Siena's ultimate secret.
My rating:***/***.5

18809594I’m glad that I came to this series late enough that book 3 was available immediately after I’d finished books one and two. I hate having to wait a long time between books in a series, and I’m always reading so many things that it tends to be a struggle to remember pertinent details of previous outings if any significant amount of time passes between when the books are published. Since I read book three in the same week that I read books one and two, I actually remembered lots of details. Details, for example, that the author did not. In the third book, Siena is said to have been born in the United States, even though she definitely states in the first book that she was born in Italy. I can barely remember what I email my staff from one week to the next, though, so I have very little room to talk.

While things that worked for me really worked for me, the things that didn’t really really didn’t.

The good:

  • Harrison and Siena continue to have smoking chemistry and make for some dynamic scenes.
  • I loved how supportive Harrison is of Siena. He believes that she is good at her job and tells her so.
  • I am always a fan of heroes who want the world to know of their love for the heroine, but who are willing to allow her to set their pace.
  • The scenes at Siena’s family home (excluding Enzo) worked for me. I liked seeing the Lazio family interact, and it was nice to see Harrison integrated further into Siena’s life.

The bad:

  • How fast do Charlie and Bex move? I mean, really. I would have liked to see a bit more of them as a couple, so that their trajectory in book three made more sense to me. Aside from sneaking out of hotel rooms and then having Bex ditch Charlie on a couple of occasions when Siena needs her, I didn’t get much sense of their relationship.
  • The scenes where Bex and Siena reconnect after a seemingly long time of barely talking felt repetitive and seemed like they barely worked within the book’s timeline.
  • What crawls up Enzo’s culo? It was annoying in the extreme that he is completely okay with being a hypocritical juicebox to his sister, seeing as how he is dating a member of Team McClain (who’s a total cow to his sister). Ugh. This kind of behavior is bad enough in Harlequin Presents novels, but I didn’t expect to see it here. [I believe that this is a legitimate character choice, do it's you bad writing, I just dislike Enzo.]
  • Some members of the press’ lines of questioning at the press conferences in these books have seemed unbelievably unprofessional to me, but the one at the Lazio home seems particularly egregious. I don’t believe that other journalists would find some of the questions asked to be okay. It seems to me that such a vindictive/gossipy reporter would be more likely to stir up interest in himself, than in the answers that he receives.
  • The “mystery” in this book is not well done at all. I suspected the eventual culprit from book one, but definitely knew who it was by the second book. It disappointed me not that none of the characters suspect this person even briefly, especially considering his or her behavior in book two. The scene where it finally all adds up for Siena is only missing a neon downward arrow that says, “Bad Guy Here.” The title of this third book should have been A Bunch of Red Flags. Look, Ma! I stuck with the racing theme.

This video sums up how I felt about people in this book not recognizing the culprit.

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Why in the world doesn’t anybody give Marques a second thought after he frames Siena with that doctored video? Even if they are ultimately swayed by the fact that his car has been “tampered with,” they still should discuss, then dismissed him as a possibility. The fact that none of these supposedly intelligent people pick up on what a ruthless creep Morales is made me think less of them as characters, and this book as a form of entertainment.

I guess what I’m saying is that I found this book to be a bit of a mess, aside from Harrison and Siena. I’m going to regard this more as a table-setting book, since the way that Faster Longer ends means that book 4 should be awesome and insane. If you’ve stuck with this series for this long, I recommend this book and that you give book 4 a chance, but I didn’t love this novel as I’d hoped that I would. I keep going back and forth on the rating, but I would say that it’s more of a 3.5 star book than 3.

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Some Like it Sinful by Robbie Terman

Title:Some Like it Sinful
Author:Robbie Terman
PublisherEngangled: Edge
Publication Date:November 25, 2013
Publisher's DescriptionTheir attraction is sinfully delicious…
 
A struggling business and one act of vandalism may have brought them together, but bakery owner Chloe Nelson and professional hockey player Griffin Lange get along like chocolate and pickles. Chloe needs the famous (and famously unattached) Griffin to attract people to her pastries, and Griffin needs the curvaceous and fiery Chloe to keep him out of trouble. A fake relationship to keep the media interested seems like the perfect plan.

But when temptation throws them into bed together, a new plan arises. Why not make the fake real? Griffin’s winning every home game, and Chloe’s business has never been better. Both know it’s only physical—and only temporary. But can they drop their defenses for love, even if it means getting a little bit sinful?
My rating:***

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I found this book’s premise highly improbable, but it was the laughably thin sabotage plot that had me rolling my eyes here. This was like “Kimmy Gibbler on Full House”-level intrigue, and I was embarrassed at how long it took for these otherwise functional adults to catch on. Griffin gets slammed into baseboards and knocked around for a living, so I don’t mind that he wasn’t putting two and two together and coming up with four, but what was Chloe’s excuse for not figuring out what was happening here? It annoys me when otherwise sharp characters are dumbed down in an unbelievable way in the name of plot advancement. I wish that this book had just stuck to the romance, non romantic interpersonal relationships, and sports angles, and not tried to shoehorn in an ill-fitting “mystery.”

Aside from those gripes, I did like how Chloe and Griffin grew closer to one another and also blossomed as individuals. I felt that they both changed in believable ways as a result of being with each other. Although it wasn’t perfect, this book is a pleasant enough way to pass a few hours. Fans of Susan Mallery and others who enjoy contemporary romance novels should give this title a try.

A Second Blessing by Anne Keller

Title:A Second Blessing (Life in Blessing Tales)
Author:Anne Keller
PublisherAmazon Digital Services
Publication Date:October 31, 2013
Publisher's Description38-year old Abbey Carr was living her dream life – married to a successful chef, mother to two great kids, and living in a nice house in the Los Angeles suburb of Hollywood. But all of that changed the day she discovered the love letter from her best friend in her husband's pants pockets.

Now, ten months and one divorce later, Abbey finds herself living the crazy life of a single mom in Long Beach, California, raising two tweenies by herself while trying to keep a roof over their head working as a freelance PR specialist.

As her first Christmas alone approaches, she can't help but wonder what she will do with herself. The kids would be away at her ex-husband's family reunion in Florida and most of her freelance public relations clients were closing down for the holidays. It looked as though it was just going to be her and her mom all alone around a lonely, little Christmas tree.

Unbeknownst to her, fate had other plans…

A last minute business trip sends her a thousand miles away to the idyllic mountain community of Blessing, Colorado where she just might find her SECOND BLESSING.
My rating:***

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I received this book for free from Story Cartel in exchange for an honest review.

Abbey was a great protagonist. She was realistic and easy to identify with. I felt bad that so many people in her life were giving her static about dating/sex so soon after her divorce, but her relationship with Bill felt natural and unforced (even with the helpful pushes they received from others). Bill was a likeable hero, and the two of them together made a lot of sense. Being privy to his internal dialog was helpful. Abbey’s ex made a satisfying villain, although he, like many of the other secondary characters in this novel, seemed to be underdeveloped and propped up by stereotypes. Wendy was 100% a caricature of the remorseless home-wrecking shrew, and it was impossible for me to understand why Abbey would have been friendly with such a vile person.

The story felt a bit underdeveloped and the ending rushed, but I would have given it a higher rating if it had been better edited. I went into this book thinking like a reader, and not an editor, but was pulled out of what was happening by the grammatical errors, poor word choices, and typos that I encountered. This is not a complex story, but it is an enjoyable read, and I wish that more care had been taken in its presentation. As this book one in a series, I can understand why certain aspects of what happened in Blessing weren’t given more attention, and I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

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