1 November 2016

Hotline by Quinn Anderson

Hey everyone,

The book I’m reviewing today is Hotline by Quinn Anderson, a contemporary M/M romance whose heroes meet over a sex-line… Not exactly the cute meet everyone is looking for! Also before I get into the nitty-gritty of the book, I want to thank Riptide Publishing for sending me a copy of this book, via NetGalley, in return for an honest review.

The book:

Zack never intended to become a phone sex operator, but with half a college degree and a smart mouth, his options were limited. It helps that he has a knack for thinking on his feet and a willingness to roll with whatever his clients throw at him. Sure, he gets his fair share of creeps and unconventional requests, but it pays the bills, and he’s in no danger of breaking his one rule: never fall for a client.

Until a man named “John” starts calling, and Zack finds himself interested in more than a paycheck. It’s not just that John has money, or that his rumbling baritone drives Zack wild. He’s everything Zack isn’t: educated, poised, and in total control of his life.

A twist of fate brings them face-to-face, and now that they’ve seen each other—and spent an unforgettable night together—they can’t go back to the way things were. A sex worker and a trust fund brat . . . It’s like Romeo and Juliet, but with less stabbing and slightly fewer dick jokes. Hopefully they can pull off a more successful ending.

My thoughts:

Perhaps my expectations are too high but when I finished Hotline I was left feeling flat. I certainly didn’t hate reading it, and I would be interested in reading more by Quinn Anderson, but it also didn’t wow me. I really enjoyed reading the build-up Zack and John’s first meeting. The sexual chemistry, when they had phone-sex, was incredible. Yet once they met the relationship was a little boring? For me, I felt they never progress after that point; perhaps because the major conversations and emotional engagement happened before they meet.

When Zack spoke again, his words reverberated in his chest, more vibration than actual sound. "I can promise you, I'm worth every penny."

Also, Hotline is told solely from Zack’s perspective. We get a lot of background information about his family, his neighbours and friendship circle. I felt I knew Zack and understood his motivations in life. I never felt I understood John. To me, he came across as a very two-dimensional character. He was rich. Came from a wealthy family. Liked phone-sex and that was about it. We never delve deeper than that. Also considering he is described as charming, handsome, wealthy and proudly out I didn’t really understand why he was using a phone-sex line in the first place?

Zack opened and closed is mouth several times before he managed to rasp, "John?" His own voice sounded foreign to him, and his tongue was thick in his mouth.

I found the drama surrounding Zack’s family a little prolonged. I liked knowing about Zack’s life outside of work and his relationship with John but I personally thought it took much of focus away from the main relationship. I think this added to the lack of information about John’s life outside of Zack left Hotline feeling imbalanced to me.  Overall this is why I didn’t enjoy it as much as I could have. When I’m reading a romance I want to care about all the leads. I want to know what makes them tick, what motivates them in life because this is how I become invested in the relationship.

Zack's insides squirmed in a pleasantly unpleasant way. The feeling was starting to become familiar to him. Nervousness, happiness, terror: the staples of his relationship with John.

Overall I’ve given Hotline a generous three stars because I did enjoy the first 55%, but the second half was disappointing. I would be intrigued to see what Quinn Anderson does next and see how her style as a writer develops. Unfortunately, Hotline just wasn’t the book for me.

My rating:

Happy reading and see you next time!

17 October 2016

Roman Crazy by Alice Clayton and Nina Bocci

Hey everyone,

was seeing a lot of hype about this book all over Tumblr and when I saw the beautiful pictures of it on Instagram I couldn’t resist requesting it from Netgalley. I was lucky enough to be given a copy of Roman Crazy in return for an honest review by Simon & Schuster. I’ve read a few books by Alice Clayton before so I was intrigued to see how her collaboration with Nina Bocci would turn out.

The book:

Avery Bardot steps off the plane in Rome, looking for a fresh start. She’s left behind a soon-to-be ex-husband in Boston and plans to spend the summer with her best friend Daisy, licking her wounds—and perhaps a gelato or two. But when her American-expat friend throws her a welcome party on her first night, Avery’s thrown for a loop when she sees a man she never thought she’d see again: Italian architect Marcello Bianchi.

Marcello was the man—the one who got away. And now her past is colliding with her present, a present where she should be mourning the loss of her marriage and—hey, that fettuccine is delicious! And so is Marcello…

Slipping easily into the good life of summertime in Rome, Avery spends her days exploring a city that makes art historians swoon, and her nights swooning over her unexpected what was old is new again romance. It’s heady, it’s fevered, it’s wanton, and it’s crazy. But could this really be her new life? Or is it just a temporary reprieve before returning to the land of twin-set cardigans and crustless sandwiches?

My thoughts:

As soon as I started the first page Romance Crazy drew me in. I felt I was there with Avery as she watched her husband having sex with his secretary, I was cheering for her as she confronted her soon-to-be-ex-mother-in-law and I was proud of her when she got on the plane to Italy instead of taking the scumbag back. Alice Clayton and Nina Bocci have a gift for writing wonderfully human characters and this is what made me love this book. I was able to connect with Avery as a character because she felt human. She was a nuanced character, someone able to bravely stand up to her mother-in-law and yet emotionally falls apart afterwards when no one is around. She isn’t hundred-percent sure that going to Italy is the right thing to do, but with encouragement from Daisy and the realization that apart from her parent's nothing is keeping her Boston.

Choices were made, decisions were cemented, and paths were chosen. But no one said I had to stay running on that particular hamster wheel.

15 October 2016

The Governess was Wicked by Julia Kelly

Hey everyone,

Today I’m reviewing The Governess was Wicked by Julia Kelly, a historical romance about a Governess and a doctor. I was immediately intrigued by the occupations of the hero and heroine because it differs from the usual suspects of aristocrats, soldiers or ‘mistresses’. I wanted to see how Julia Kelly would incorporate ideas of class and social standing into the romance. Also before I start I need to thank Simon and Schuster and Netgalley for sending me an arc copy of this book in return for an honest review.

The book:
This delightfully charming and saucy Regency era romance is first in the Governess series in which three best friends are employed as governesses for different families, and all find themselves wanting something they can’t have.

Elizabeth Porter is quite happy with her position as the governess for two sneaky-yet-sweet girls when she notices that they have a penchant for falling ill and needing the doctor. As the visits from the dashing and handsome Doctor Edward Fellows become more frequent, Elizabeth quickly sees through the lovesick girls’ ruse. Yet even Elizabeth can’t help but notice Edward’s bewitching bedside manner even as she tries to convince herself that someone of her station would not make a suitable wife for a doctor. But one little kiss won’t hurt...

My thoughts:

When we meet Elizabeth Porter she is working as a governess for Juliana and Cassandra Norton, two girls who often fake illnesses to gain attention. Although Elizabeth isn’t always convinced of the girl's maladies she won’t take the risk incase they are seriously ill. This results in many late night visits from a Doctor Edwards Fellow, the family physician. Both Elizabeth and Edward occupied an unusual position in society. Elizabeth as a governess is slightly above the rank of a servant but is still considered replaceable and of little importance by her employers. Above all else Elizabeth has to be beyond reproach, she can’t risk any scandal being attached to her name.

He was the sort of man Elizabeth could imagine forgetting herself with. But a governess could never forget herself, no matter how much she wanted to.

26 September 2016

Just my Luck by Andrea Bramhall

Hey everyone,

I wanted to love Just my Luck by Andrea Bramhall. I went in hoping it would be a cute friends-to-lovers contemporary romance, which arguably it is. Yet something stopped me from loving this book. But before I get into the nitty gritty of the review, I would like to thank Ylva publishing and Netgalley for sending me a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

The book:

Genna Collins works a dead end job, loves her family, her girlfriend, and her friends. When she wins the biggest Euromillions jackpot on record everything changes…and not always for the best.

When Abi Kitson fell in love she always knew it would go unrequited. The woman of her dreams was so close yet seemingly untouchable for so many reasons. Reasons like – they are best friends, or the big age gap, or the ‘other’ woman, nevermind Abi’s own baggage. And even when those reasons crumble it seems luck just isn’t on her side.

It’s a learning curve for both of them. But what if money really can’t buy you everything you want? What if the answers aren’t hidden in a big, fat bank balance? What if happiness is right in front of them? They just have to reach out…

My thoughts:

Just my Luck had so much promise! The premise was incredibly interesting, a young woman winning the lottery and a friends-to-lovers romance, but right of the bat I struggled to connect with the story. Andrea Bramhall’s writing style is almost interactive with the audience. Genna and Abi would often talk to the audience, as if they were recounting the story to a friend, asking them questions and filling in the answers. Now this isn’t necessarily a bad writing style but I personally found it brought me out of the story. Rather than getting lost in Genna and Abi’s world I was being forced to participate in it. Also despite the story being set in Manchester, England and being British myself, I didn’t understand all the pop culture references that Andrea Bramhall used to describe people or events.

I want the earth to open up and swallow me. It doesn't happen. I want the alarm to go off and wake me up from this nightmare. It doesn't happen.

20 September 2016

Steady Stroke by A.M. Arthur

Hey everyone,

Today I’m reviewing Steady Stroke by A.M. Arthur, this is the second book I’ve read by this author and as I thoroughly enjoyed the first one I had high expectations. Steady Stroke is the second book in A.M. Arthur’s Off Beat series, but I read this without reading the first one and thought it worked perfectly as a stand-alone. Before I get properly into the review I should thank Swerve, via Netgalley, for sending me a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

The book:

After a tragic accident, Lincoln West’s dreams of making it big as a guitarist fell apart. Unable to play music, he’s battling a hopeless downward spiral, and takes his friend’s offer to stay at their beach house for the summer. While at an open mic night at local bar Off Beat, he locks eyes with a busboy who doesn’t make Linc feel so broken anymore.

Emmett Westmore lives for the anonymity of busing tables in his aunt’s quirky bar where no one pities him for the fire that killed everyone he loved. He blames himself for the fire, and he doesn’t want anyone to see him—except for Linc. Emmett’s walls drop when he’s around the gorgeous blue-eyed guitarist, but he has a secret that could destroy his budding relationship with Linc.

Both Linc and Emmett are looking for a way to live again…will they let their fears control them or take a chance on something real? 

My thoughts:

In Steady Stroke we are first introduced to Lincoln West, who is struggling to adjust to life after a car accident that left him unable to play music. He feels isolated from his former friends who are all still pursuing a career in music. Yet he is stuck in the same place as last year, but this time unable to play his beloved guitar. In the beginning of the book we are seeing the world from Linc’s perspective, his feelings of hopelessness, anger, and resentment. His struggle to move forward without constantly wishing for what he had.

A year ago, XYZ was on the verge of a breakthrough into an actual record deal. Lincoln was happy, healthy, and so proud of Dominic for beginning to work through some painful emotional baggage.