Tag Archives: Contemporary Romance

Review: Savor You by Kristen Proby

Savor You by Kristen Proby
Contemporary romance released by HarperCollins on April 24, 2018

In the next sizzling romance in Kristen Proby’s New York Times bestselling Fusion series, two celebrity chefs compete in a culinary competition, but resisting each other will prove to be the greater challenge.

Cooking isn’t what Mia Palazzo does, it’s who she is. Food is her passion . . . her pride . . . her true love. She’s built a stellar menu full of delicious and sexy meals for her restaurant, Seduction. Now, after being open for only a few short years, Mia’s restaurant is being featured on Best Bites TV. To say Seduction is a wild success is an understatement. All the blood, sweat, tears, and endless hours of work Mia has put into the restaurant has finally paid off.

Then Camden Sawyer, the biggest mistake of her life, walks into her kitchen . . .

Camden’s celebrity chef status is world-renowned. He’s the best there is, and the kitchen is where he’s most at home. He can’t resist the invitation to Portland for a showdown against Mia for a new television show. Mia was in his life years ago, and just like before, he’s met his match in the beautiful Italian spitfire. The way she commands the kitchen is mesmerizing, and her recipes are clever and delicious. He’s never had qualms about competition, and this is no different. He can’t wait to go head to head with Mia. But can he convince her the chemistry they share in the kitchen would be just as great in the bedroom as well?

As Mia and Camden face off, neither realizes how high the stakes are as their reputations are put on the line and their hearts are put to the ultimate test.

There were chefs and second chance romances in this book, and it was really good. Camden and Mia have history—and not the cute kind of history. They have the I-walked-out-on-you kind of history. But not many people know about it—Camden’s sister knows, and eventually Mia’s brother learns about it, but mostly, other people have no idea why Mia doesn’t want to do a TV show with this super famous celebrity chef who is appealing to the eye. I really enjoyed how Mia and Camden talked out all of their issues—not just to work out their history, but when they stepped on each other’s feelings; they respect each other professionally and they have a network of friends/family. However, it did start to drag towards the end for me. Continue reading

Review: On the Line by Liz Lincoln

On the Line by Liz Lincoln
Contemporary romance released by Random House on April 17, 2018 

On the Line by Liz Lincoln Book CoverIs this man: A) a super-hot NFL player, B) the guy you’re sexting, or C) your new boss?
If you’re Carrie Herron, the answer is: D) all of the above. First, Carrie starts exchanging steamy text messages with the sexy single dad she meets in line at the grocery store. Then she lands a job as the live-in nanny for the daughter of the Milwaukee Dragons’ newest star. With any luck, she’ll be back on her financial feet before the next cosplay convention rolls around. But when Carrie shows up for work and realizes that her new boss is the guilty pleasure in her phone, she has no choice but to try to keep things professional. Oh, how would Poison Ivy handle a temptation like Seth Chamberlain?

After getting traded from Houston to Milwaukee, Seth’s having a tough time keeping his head in the game, let alone making sure that his daughter is fitting in. So if the only nanny that Madison will tolerate is a grown woman who likes comic books even more than she does . . . well, so be it. Too bad the nanny is also the gorgeous redhead Seth’s been flirting with all this time. But with Carrie’s knowing glances and kissable lips driving him wild, Seth must decide whether he’s ready to put everything on the line.

This is, as the copy says, a romance between a nerdy science teacher and a football player. The football player is a single father, with a teenage daughter. I liked this book, but I had some issues with it, which in the end kept me from giving it a higher grade. Football and geek culture got about equal amounts of attention, which was nice, and we get a decent amount of forced proximity, so if these are your catnip, this might be the book for you. Continue reading

Review: Bound To by Sionna Fox

Bound To by Sionna Fox
Contemporary Romance Released by Sionna Fox on April 24, 2018

Bound To by Sionna Fox Book CoverTake one neurotic new girl in town and one kinky neuroscientist, add sparks and a side of sexual awakening. This might hurt later.

Jolene Whitman has never left her hometown, hasn’t been on a date in six years, and when her best friend asks her to move to Boston with her, she jumps at the chance to leave her country mouse roots behind.

Starting over in a new city with one friend, no job, and her bank account bleeding out is enough to send Jolene’s anxiety through the roof. Add in a hot post-doc with a dominant streak and it could be a recipe for a panic attack big enough to send her home with her tail between her legs. But submitting to Matthew Ward shuts up the running monologue in her head like nothing ever has before.

Each night they spend together, exploring the limits of their trust, Jolene falls a little harder for the man responsible for her sexual awakening. Under Matthew’s care and control, she finds a place where she understands exactly who and what she’s supposed to be.

She knows it’s too good to last, that a man like Matthew will never stay with a woman like her. But if the cost of finding herself is a broken heart, she’s all in.

The blurb is accurate, as far as those kinds of things go, but there were certain instances in the book that caused me to enjoy this book less. Jo is jobless and scared when she first meets Matt, and when she goes out with him, she’s at a boring contract job and worried about what she’ll do for work once her contract is up. Matt is doing his post-doctoral work studying brain chemistry at the cellular level. It has something to do with how anxiety disorders have an effect, but we really don’t get into details. I liked how Jo and Matt eventually were honest with each other about what they wanted—namely, a relationship—and that Jo figured out that she needed a support network and that that was okay; I didn’t like how long that took to happen or that Jo engaged in some not so safe behaviors. I also would have appreciated some more time spent with Matt that wasn’t sexytimes. Continue reading

Review: Speakeasy by Sarina Bowen

Speakeasy by Sarina Bowen (True North Book 5)
Contemporary romance released by Sarina Bowen on May 29, 2018

Speakeasy by Sarina Bowen Book CoverSometimes you fall for Mr. Right. And sometimes for Mr. Right Now…
May

Did you hear the one about the girl who walks into a bar and catches her live-in lover kissing someone else? No? You’re the only one in town who missed it.
Luckily Alec is there to wrap me up in strong arms and carry me out the door before things get too ugly. And that’s not all Alec is good at. Our unexpected chemistry makes him the perfect rebound guy.
Alec
I should know better than to hook up with my rival’s little sister, but the fiery look in May’s eyes really turns my crank. She needs cheering up, and I’m just the guy for the job.
It’s not like I’ll fall in love. Not even after a string of scorching hot trysts, and the realization that we’re good at the same things: wild nights and familial disappointment. I don’t do love, never have, never will. So this is the perfect arrangement, for both of us.
Nobody would approve, but nobody has to know…

Speakeasy felt light, but is actually quite complex. It’s got bad bar jokes, family dynamics, addiction, and a bisexual main character. It wraps up the True North series, so if you’re the kind of reader that doesn’t like to start a series until it’s completed, then you can have at it now — if you’ve been following this series, then this is a bittersweet read. May is the heroine and Alec is the hero; we’ve met these characters before in earlier books, but if you don’t remember who they are, it’s easy to acquaint/re-acquaint yourself with them. To a certain extent, both May and Alec are concerned about their images, although they express it in different ways; May thinks people see her as the sibling that’s messed up the most in her family, and Alec is trying to prove that he is a good businessperson, regardless of his happy-go-lucky ways; and these efforts occasionally get in the way of them being honest about their feelings for each other. Continue reading

SAPAHM Review: Grumpy Fake Boyfriend by Jackie Lau

Grumpy Fake Boyfriend by Jackie Lau
Contemporary romance released by Jackie Lau Books on May 22, 2018

Grumpy Fake Boyfriend by Jackie Lau Book CoverI’m a pretty simple guy. When I’m not writing a science fiction novel, I’m watching a good movie or reading a book. Alone. I like my reclusive life. That is, until my only friend asks for a favor—pretend to be his baby sister’s boyfriend on a couples’ getaway. Her ex is going to be there and she needs me as a buffer.

I should have said no, but Naomi is bubbly, energetic, and beautiful. She also means everything to her brother. But now, our fake romance is starting to feel all too real, and I find myself stuck between the promise I made to my friend and risking my heart to the one woman who might actually get me…

I read this book very quickly, and found both Will and Naomi to be sympathetic, although after a while some of the themes became repetitive. Will is a science fiction writer with a Ph.D. in physics, who is on the extreme end of introverted, and can be a little obtuse when it comes to social interactions. Naomi is Will’s best friend’s youngest sister. She’s an event planner, and bubbly—but not in an everyone-must-be-bubbly-like-me way. This is a forced proximity kind of romance, with a mini road trip thrown in for good measure. I say mini, because in my part of the world, it might take 3 hours to get across the city, if the traffic is particularly awful. Naomi is sweet, has had a crush on Will before and still finds him attractive, but is still processing her breakup with a prior boyfriend when the book begins; Will has a history of people wanting to change his way of interacting with the world, hence the “grumpy” descriptive. And yes, a fake relationship is orchestrated. Will learns that putting himself out there a little more isn’t all bad, and both Will and Naomi learn the importance of being with someone that likes you for who you are makes you be a better person. Continue reading

Team ALBTALBS TBR Challenge Review: A Distant Heart by Sonali Dev

A Distant Heart by Sonali Dev
Contemporary Romance released by Kensington on December 26, 2017

A Distant Heart by Sonali Dev Book Cover

Her name means “miracle” in Sanskrit, and to her parents, that’s exactly what Kimaya is. The first baby to survive after several miscarriages, Kimi grows up in a mansion at the top of Mumbai’s Pali Hill, surrounded by love and privilege. But at eleven years old, she develops a rare illness that requires her to be confined to a germ-free ivory tower in her home, with only the Arabian Sea churning outside her window for company. . . . Until one person dares venture into her world.

Tasked at fourteen years old with supporting his family, Rahul Savant shows up to wash Kimi’s windows, and an unlikely friendship develops across the plastic curtain of her isolation room. As years pass, Rahul becomes Kimi’s eyes to the outside world—and she becomes his inspiration to better himself by enrolling in the police force. But when a life-saving heart transplant offers the chance of a real future, both must face all that ties them together and keeps them apart.

As Kimi anticipates a new life, Rahul struggles with loving someone he may yet lose. And when his investigation into a black market organ ring run by a sociopathic gang lord exposes dangerous secrets that cut too close to home, only Rahul’s deep, abiding connection with Kimi can keep her safe—and reveal the true meaning of courage, loss, and second chances.

Infused with the rhythms of life in modern-day India, acclaimed author Sonali Dev’s candid, rewarding novel beautifully evokes all the complexities of the human heart.

I read Sonali Dev’s first book and loved it, it was fun and light and yet complex and filled with such lovely details. I heard that the next book was the opposite of those things—it was not light and fun at all. I don’t really like contemporary suspense romances so I opted out of that experience. All this to say, I’m reconsidering my decision not to read the books before A Distant Heart, because this book was everything I didn’t know I needed. Dev slowly rips apart the characters and their actions and emotions and then puts them back together; in the case of the hero and heroine—Rahul and Kimi—this results in a happy ending. She also conveys the way people perceive their surroundings, even when those surroundings might be considered worthy of elaborate detail. If you like friends to lovers kinds of romances, this might be your cup of tea, but be warned that their is a lot of emotional tension, because Dev goes into people’s motivations and the way their past experiences shape their actions in a way that makes the reading experience very acute. Continue reading

Review: Wrong to Need You by Alisha Rai

Wrong to Need You by Alisha Rai
Contemporary romance released by Avon on November 28, 2017

He wasn’t supposed to fall in love with his brother’s widow…

Accused of a crime he didn’t commit, Jackson Kane fled his home, his name, and his family. Ten years later, he’s come back to town: older, wiser, richer, tougher—and still helpless to turn away the one woman he could never stop loving, even after she married his brother.

Sadia Ahmed can’t deal with the feelings her mysterious former brother-in-law stirs, but she also can’t turn down his offer of help with the cafe she’s inherited. While he heats up her kitchen, she slowly discovers that the boy she adored has grown into a man she’s simply unable to resist.

An affair is unthinkable, but their desire is undeniable. As secrets and lies are stripped away, Sadia and Jackson must decide if they’re strong enough to face the past…and step into a future together.

I read this book very slowly, not because it was bad, but because I was at a point where I would have read any book slowly. That being said, I think I liked this book more than Hate to Want You, which is the book that precedes this one. More of the collective family drama unfolds in Wrong to Need You, which I will not spoil for you. I enjoyed getting to know Jackson and Sadia better, and seeing their perspectives on stuff was interesting. I’d like to note that mental health comes up a lot in the book, hence it comes up in this review. Sadia’s connections to her family and her anxieties played a substantial role in her character, but so did other aspects; the same can be said of Jackson, in different ways. Continue reading

Review Deux: Hurts to Love You by Alisha Rai

Hurts to Love You (Forbidden Hearts #3) by Alisha Rai
Contemporary romance released by Avon on March 27, 2018

Well-behaved women don’t lust after men who love to misbehave.
Heiress Evangeline Chandler knows how to keep a secret . . . like her life-long crush on the tattooed hottie who just happens to be her big brother’s friend. She’s a Chandler, after all, and Chandlers don’t hook up with the help. Then again, they also don’t disobey their fathers and quit their respectable jobs, so good-girl rules may no longer apply.

Gabriel Hunter hides the pain of his past behind a smile, but he can’t hide his sudden attraction to his friend’s sheltered little sister. Eve is far too sweet to accept anything less than forever and there’s no chance of a future between the son of a housekeeper and the town’s resident princess.

When a wedding party forces Eve and Gabe into tight quarters, keeping their hands off each other will be as hard as keeping their clothes on. The need that draws them together is stronger than the forces that should shove them apart . . . but their sparks may not survive the explosion when long-buried secrets are finally unearthed.

As the blurb says, this book is about Eve Chandler and Gabe Hunter—who is Livvy’s boss. I really enjoyed this book. Eve was likeable and multifaceted—she has issues resulting from her childhood, but she’s working through them, even before she starts having sex with Gabe. Gabe also has issues, which he is not working on. They both have pants feelings for each other, and they have both bought into this idea that having a relationship would be bad. As I’ve gotten older, this she’s-untouchable-because-she’s-my-best-friend’s-sister trope has also gotten old. But Rai made it work. Technically, it isn’t so much that Eve is Gabe’s friend’s younger sister—it’s that she is several years younger than Gabe, and he has a complicated relationship with her family. It was wonderful coming along for the ride with this couple, even though it’s the last book in this series. There are discussions of psychological abuse in this book, as well as anxiety and other mental health issues. There are great revelations in this book, and all the family drama is lanced—popped?—so if you really wanted to know all the truth, this is the pot of gold you were hoping for. Continue reading

Release Day Review: Hurts to Love You by Alisha Rai

Hurts to Love You (Forbidden Hearts #3) by Alisha Rai
Contemporary romance released by Avon on March 27, 2018

Well-behaved women don’t lust after men who love to misbehave.
Heiress Evangeline Chandler knows how to keep a secret . . . like her life-long crush on the tattooed hottie who just happens to be her big brother’s friend. She’s a Chandler, after all, and Chandlers don’t hook up with the help. Then again, they also don’t disobey their fathers and quit their respectable jobs, so good-girl rules may no longer apply.

Gabriel Hunter hides the pain of his past behind a smile, but he can’t hide his sudden attraction to his friend’s sheltered little sister. Eve is far too sweet to accept anything less than forever and there’s no chance of a future between the son of a housekeeper and the town’s resident princess.

When a wedding party forces Eve and Gabe into tight quarters, keeping their hands off each other will be as hard as keeping their clothes on. The need that draws them together is stronger than the forces that should shove them apart . . . but their sparks may not survive the explosion when long-buried secrets are finally unearthed.

I’m a big fan of Alisha Rai. A Gentleman in the Street, Serving Pleasure, and The Fantasy Series were some of my favorite reads the years I read them and I can’t recommend them enough to readers who like hot romance. Before I dive in, first things first—if you haven’t read the first two books in the Forbidden Hearts series (Hate you Want You and Wrong to Need You), stop right now and go fix that. Because they’re awesome books and need to be read immediately. Oh, and also I think it will help frame the story in this book since some events have been building up and the couples from the previous books feature prominently in this story. Continue reading

Review: A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole

A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole
Contemporary romance released by Avon on February 27, 2018

A Princess in Theory CoverBetween grad school and multiple jobs, Naledi Smith doesn’t have time for fairy tales…or patience for the constant e-mails claiming she’s betrothed to an African prince. Sure. Right. Delete! As a former foster kid, she’s learned that the only things she can depend on are herself and the scientific method, and a silly e-mail won’t convince her otherwise.

Prince Thabiso is the sole heir to the throne of Thesolo, shouldering the hopes of his parents and his people. At the top of their list? His marriage. Ever dutiful, he tracks down his missing betrothed. When Naledi mistakes the prince for a pauper, Thabiso can’t resist the chance to experience life—and love—without the burden of his crown.

The chemistry between them is instant and irresistible, and flirty friendship quickly evolves into passionate nights. But when the truth is revealed, can a princess in theory become a princess ever after?

I have to say that I wanted to review A Princess in Theory based on how much I enjoyed An Extraordinary Union and the really gorgeous cover. I had no doubt that it would be a good book and I was not disappointed. The premise is simple, Ledi is the long lost betrothed to the Thesolo prince Thabiso. When he comes to the US to meet her there is simple mix up of identity, and they start to fall for each other.

A story that’s been told many times, the book reminded me of both The Princess Diaries and the film Coming to America on some levels, but overall was fresh and really funny. Continue reading