Tag Archives: TBR Challenge

TBR Read: Hard Time by Cara McKenna

Hard Time by Cara McKenna
Contemporary Romance released by Penguin InterMix on April 15, 2014

Hard TimeAnnie Goodhouse doesn’t need to be warned about bad boys; good sense and an abusive ex have given her plenty of reasons to play it safe. But when she steps into her new role as outreach librarian for Cousins Correctional Facility, no amount of good sense can keep her mind—or eyes—off inmate Eric Collier.

Eric doesn’t claim to be innocent of the crime that landed him in prison. In fact, he’d do it again if that’s what it took to keep his family safe. Loyalty and force are what he knows. But meeting Annie makes him want to know more.

When Eric begins courting Annie through letters, they embark on a reckless, secret romance—a forbidden fantasy that neither imagines could ever be real…until early parole for Eric changes everything, and forces them both to face a past they can’t forget, and a desire they can’t deny.

I got an ARC of this book, and had heard a lot of positive buzz about it, so I decided to read it. I’d read one of Cara McKenna’s [much] earlier books, so I was interested in reading this one. I also thought it was really interesting to read a book that featured a romance hero who had been (or is) a convicted felon. That’s … intense. And not your typical hero material. However, I wanted to give it a go because I’d say I know more than the average person about our criminal justice system, and how things work, or don’t work. Because of that, it’s possible I may have been more forgiving and open. (Or just that I think about these things way more than most people do.)

Like last month, this isn’t going to be a formal review for many reasons … but I do want to talk about some things.

One [totally insignificant] detail that irked me was the strip search scene Ms. McKenna wrote in when Annie first went to the Correctional Facility. With the caveat that my jurisdiction of license/practice isn’t Michigan, I believe a Correctional Facility in Michigan is a prison. I’ve only been to jails not prisons, but even so I don’t think a strip search is usual procedure. If you’re going through intake, than yes, of course. Or, if you’re a suspicious character, and the officers there suspect you of smuggling contraband. A visiting librarian/instructor I don’t think would fall under that umbrella. Unless it was a maximum security facility? (But then she wouldn’t be going there in the first place…) I could go on, but I won’t. So anyway, you see that having that right there in the beginning stuck with me. Thankfully, I gave it some time, then powered on. I’m so glad I did.

I liked Annie, and the fact that she was generally reasonable. I don’t think I’d ever be in the position she put herself in, but it was interesting to read. (And never say never, amirite? ;)) I liked that she put herself first – after a hard lesson learned well before she met Eric. Then also, that she was willing to give the relationship a try and not shut herself off just because of her past. What’s also nice is that Annie sticks up for Eric. I liked that in a way, she was his champion.

Eric, for all that he’s a felon, is probably one of the most romantic heroes I’ve read in a long time. His letters and the way he acts … I think it’s necessary to counter the automatic assumption and stigma that comes with his criminal record. However, the violence of a moment doesn’t define him – it isn’t really who he is – even though to the world he’s stamped with the label and to many people that’s all he is, or will ever be. The strength of will and resolve that Eric has to build a life on the outside really impressed me. He did the wrong thing, and I can’t say his reason or motive was right, but he felt compelled to do it. I also appreciated the fact that Eric owned up to his actions, and made no excuses for them. I almost wished that he had at first, but the story was written exactly as it should have been. I don’t agree with “Street Justice” but I think I understand it. My hat is off to Ms. McKenna for writing that in a convincing and universal way.

Of course there’s family drama, and it was an interesting (and subtle) compare/contrast of Eric and Annie’s families. I in fact like the fact that Annie took a step back and the two didn’t immediately have a romantic relationship upon Eric’s release from prison.

I can see myself reading this book again. There’s so much more that I didn’t even begin to discuss – and it all fits so well. I don’t think Hard Time is an easy read, but it’s an enjoyable one. The journey to happily ever after for Eric and Annie isn’t your typical romance, and I appreciate the hangups and extreme amount of caution Eric employs throughout the book.

I can see myself re-reading Hard Time in the future, and definitely more of Ms. McKenna’s upcoming books.

Grade: B

You can read an excerpt here (warning: it may open as a PDF), or buy a copy here.

TBR Challenge Read: Savin’ Me by Alannah Lynne

Savin’ Me by Alannah Lynne
Contemporary Romance released by Alannah Lynne on August 6, 2012

Lies. Deceit. Backstabbing friends… Welcome to the jungle known as advertising…

Kat Owens can tell you all about the snake-infested world of big-time advertising. Thanks to an ex-best friend co-worker and a gone-wrong love affair with a client, she’s forced to leave her large Charlotte agency for a small-town coastal one. It’s do-or-die time to prove she can be a success to the aging grandfather she adores. Which means she can’t afford to be distracted by a client who’s a walking, talking definition of sex… Even if he is the man who stole her heart thirteen months before in a one-night stand she can’t forget.

Erik Monteague is a handsome, charismatic, highly respected businessman who has it all. Or so it seems. Only his closest friends know the truth about the guilt and emotional scars he carries, or why, following his fiancée’s death, he invoked the twenty-four/two rule. He never spends more than twenty-four hours with a woman, he rarely dates them twice, and he never thinks about them afterward.

But Kat Owens is different. She cheated him out of twelve hours, and now he can’t forget her. At least that’s what he tells himself, because admitting the truth is too dangerous. When she suddenly appears in his hometown, he sets out to finish what they started thirteen months earlier. But while his perfectly executed seduction gets Kat back in his bed, the emotional fallout is more than he counted on. Will he face his tragic past once and for all… or spend the rest of his life running?

This isn’t going to be a formal review because I’m bad … but I did want to make note of the book I read for the March challenge of A “New to Me Author” – and there are a lot to pick from. I think I saw Savin’ Me recommended as a kindle freebie, so I went for it.

I really like the romances where the hero falls first and falls fast. It might have something to do with reading all those earlier romances where the heroine just is in love with the hero “ever since she was a little girl” and just pines and pines for him for over a decade and he’s a total asshat and she’s a doormat – and you know those books. That is not the case here.

I think Ms. Lynne wrote wonderfully developed characters. Kat has a lot of depth, and is focused on her career, but she’s also willing to see reason. Even more than that, however, she’s not willing to take, or put up with Erik’s bullshit. I liked that she lived her life, and tried to do it without having to see or interact with Erik. Erik is sneaky though, and that’s the romance in the book. We all know they’re going to get together, but the journey was quite enjoyable. I found the story reasonable and realistic.

Obviously a lot of fun, and with lots of sex and chemistry between Kat and Erik too. There were some emotional moments, and I liked the focus on introspection from both Kat and Erik.

I liked this book – it was an enjoyable read and I can see myself looking for the rest in the series. If you’re looking for a solid contemporary romance, I suggest Savin’ Me. And you know what? It’s free for kindle right now.

Grade: C+

You can read an excerpt here, or buy a copy here.

TBR Challenge Review: The Chocolate Temptation by Laura Florand

Review: The Chocolate Temptation by Laura Florand
Contemporary romance released by AOS Publishing on January 14, 2014

The Chocolate TemptationShe hated him.

Patrick Chevalier. The charming, laid-back, golden second-in-command of the Paris pastry kitchen where Sarah worked as intern, who made everything she failed at seem so easy, and who could have every woman he winked at falling for him without even trying. She hated him, but she’d risked too much for this dream to give up on it and walk out just so he wouldn’t break her heart.

But he didn’t hate her.

Sarah Lin. Patrick’s serious, dark-haired American intern, who looked at him as if she could see right through him and wasn’t so impressed with what she saw. As her boss, he knew he should leave her alone. The same way he knew better than to risk his heart and gamble on love.

But he was never good at not going after what – or who – he wanted.

He could make magic out of sugar. But could he mold hate into love?

The theme of February’s TBR Challenge is “Series Catch Up” and to be honest, there’s nothing for me to technically catch up on because I haven’t read any of the series. (Although isn’t starting at book six something of a catch up reading wise? ;)) I have to say, I read this because of all the Laura Florand buzz I’d been seeing constantly … but really because the premise of this book. I’m not usually one who goes for the “enemies” trope, but I’d say this one isn’t that.

I loved Sarah. She’s so neurotic and clueless and wonderful. I just think she’s fantastic. And actually, Sarah is really great – she’s just suffering from a total lack of self confidence, and I think we can all relate to that. I liked that she’s sweet and shy, but has a steel core. She seems so closed off and contained, but has such a huge heart. Patrick describes her as the fairy godmother, and that sums her up perfectly. She’s not the fairy tale princess – Sarah makes things happen on her own for herself, and the ones she loves. It might not always be the grand sweeping gestures, but the little things people take for granted, and she just continues on. Sarah is everyday in that she could be any regular person off the street – but one who excels at what she does.

Patrick Chevalier might be one of my favorite romance heroes because he’s just so perfect. Sarah pretty much describes him as a golden surfer god in looks and character. But he’s so messed up. It’s delightful. Patrick is a phenom in the kitchen, and I loved his casual arrogance. He’s not an asshole, just that he so summarily dismisses anything basic. He knows how good he is and can back it up – but he doesn’t throw it in your face, it just is. That’s sexy. What’s more sexy though, is how he falls for Sarah. He meets her and develops a crush on her basically on sight, and for the next five months just goes gaga for her. Only he can’t show it because basically he’s her boss. Patrick being denied something he wants is a lot of fun. Even sulky Patrick is charming and delightful.

Even though Patrick is Sarah’s superior in the kitchen it doesn’t seem skeevy. I think what helped is that Sarah has had a longstanding attraction to him as well – just that she suppressed it. Also that there are definite boundaries, and they remain professional in the work environment. The turning point (and I don’t consider this a spoiler because it happens so early in the book) is when Sarah tells Patrick she hates him. That’s the catalyst and spurs him into making his move. Sneaky loveable wonderful bastard that he is. One thing that I waver between is his interpretation? I’m not sure if Patrick is like “yes! She hates me! That’s a powerful emotion and means she feels something so I’m going for it! I can’t resist!or if he’s like “hate? She hates me? No! That … no! She can’t hate me – I have to change this.” Perhaps a mix of the two? (I kind of like the latter more, but that’s just me.) The aspect that makes this okay for me is that Sarah doesn’t really hate him – she just “hates” how he makes her feel and act, because she thinks she’s got this major case of pointless, consuming, unrequited love. How can you not love all this?

I had some issues with the book that I won’t get into because they’re hyper technical, and wouldn’t bother 99.9% of people. But if I think about them, it drives me crazy. … So yeah.

This book is just so freaking romantic (and sexy), and emotional – that line – and the following passage with the quote “then why are you still here” – if you’ve read it you know – it makes me cry every time. Every. Damn. Time. I love how developed Sarah and Patrick are. I love the relationship Patrick has with Luc. The way the relationship develops, how Patrick sets out to court Sarah, wooing her from the start with treats from the kitchen then treats outside of it … It’s even nice that there’s conflict and Sarah and Patrick work through it naturally.

I’ve already re-read this book, and I just know I’ll be reading this book many more times – and the other books in this series too. The Chocolate Temptation is probably one of my favorite books of 2014. Get a copy, read it. You’ll thank me.

Grade: A

You can read an excerpt here or buy a copy here.

TBR Challenge: The Plus One Chronicles by Jennifer Lyon

The Plus One ChroniclesSince this is the first challenge, I went all out, and read three short stories! They were all combined though, and really should be read all together. I read (as you can see) The Plus One Chronicles by Jennifer Lyon. (The Proposition, The Possession, and The Obsession.)

​I remember reading Part I: The Proposition around the time it came out. I also remember being surprised that it was a series series … because a) I tend to avoid them b) it was still relatively new for romances to not have closure at the end of the “book.” So, I knew I didn’t want to read on until it was finished and I could read the series in one go. I like Jennifer Lyon’s writing, and have since she wrote as Jennifer Apodaca. Remember those Brava anthologies? Good stuff. I know the theme for this month was “a short,” but I’d also been wanting a well written sexy story. I re-read The Proposition then immediately glommed on to The Possession, and immediately The Obsession​​.

The PropositionI’m not going to write a formal review because … well I don’t want to. But I do want to talk about the stor[ies]. Here’s the book blurb.

Savagely sexy billionaire Sloane Michaels ruthlessly controls his life and everything in it. Even his sex partners are carefully negotiated plus-one arrangements, including his latest, the fiery bakery owner, Kat Thayne. But Sloane’s control is challenged when his mentor becomes seriously ill, and his need for Kat, his need to possess her at all costs, rivals only his single-minded goal of vengeance for the murder of his sister.

After surviving an attack six years ago, Kat Thayne escaped her fears in the protective world of her beloved bakery. Then Sloane Michaels storms into her life, making her feel beautiful, strong and sexy. Yet as Kat pushes her boundaries and uncovers a dangerous secret in her past, Sloane’s controlling side emerges. Worried that Sloane will possess her mind, body and soul, Kat fights to keep her hard won independence. But just as Sloane demands her complete surrender, she discovers he has a dark side that could destroy them both.

The PossessionKat Thayne is a great character. I love how real she is – she’s damaged, but not broken, flawed, insecure, yet steady and certain. She’s basically the best we can all hope to be. I’d really love to be her friend, and to have a friend like that. Sloane Michaels is … as close to perfect as a guy (and hero) can get. He’s a giant teddy bear. And I mean giant. I liked how Ms. Lyons made the MMA aspect relevant, but not pedantic. The story is hot, but it’s also all about the relationship, which I find great. There was a part either in the second or third story where I got a little eye-roll-y, but the third story also made me cry. There’s this section that just … tears you up emotionally.

I don’t want to write huge spoilers, but I think Sloane’s driving force is habit, and his horrible mother. She’s what leads to the resulting conflict between Kat and Sloane, but they work it out. Usually I think the heroine is too soft for giving the hero another chance, or pursuing the relationship, but here it really worked, and I think was the best possible way for the story to be written.

Sloane’s light bulb moment is also a tiny bit deus ex machina, but I’m ok with it nonetheless. I know I sound incredibly vague, but I want you to read this trilogy! And then come back and talk to me about it!

I mean, chemist turned baker heroine, and MMA fighter turned billionaire mogul hero. They’re both damaged in different ways, yet the best they can be. Even the uber tragic past works – and usually I’m turned off by the excessively sad back story that doesn’t seem that realistic. (Thanks a lot for that, real life.)

The ObsessionI finished The Obsession at 3:30 AM and was practically screaming. Ms. Lyons is evil for ending Part II thus, and I was so glad I already had The Obsession on hand, so I could keep reading until I felt I reached an ok (and sufficiently happy) stopping point.

I also appreciate how Ms. Lyons gives us sufficient closure, and ends on a high note. I knew that things were good, that Kat and Sloane were going to work, and have their happy ever after, and that life would continue to happen, but they’d be ok. And isn’t that all we can ask for anyway?

So yay TBR challenge for pushing me to find and finish this series. I know I’ll be re-reading it, and looking for more of Ms. Lyon’s books. In fact, I found myself wishing for Marshall’s story, despite him already being engaged. In a way though, I hope that’s the end – always good to leave people wanting more, right? And I expect more wonderful, different stories from Jennifer Lyons.

(Incidentally, The Proposition is free right now for kindle/the kindle app, so go and get it right now!) Have you read these stories? Or anything by Jennifer Lyons/Apodaca? Any thoughts? 🙂

TBR Challenge Review: I Married the Duke by Katharine Ashe

I Married the Duke by Katharine Ashe
Historical romance published by Avon Romance on August 27, 2013

Arabella Caulfield, one of three orphaned sisters, has clung to an ancient gypsy prophecy as the only way to save her family from endless heartbreak. Now she has twelve days to reach a remote French castle and fulfill her destiny: to marry a prince.

Along the way, Arabella meets Lucien Westfall, decorated naval captain and the new Duke of Lycombe. She thought he was a pirate. He thought she was a governess. Two wrongs have never made such a scandalously perfect right.

(And because I feel the blurb on Katharine’s page better describes the book…)

She thought he was a pirate. He thought she was a governess. Two wrongs have never made such a scandalously perfect right.

On the way to marry a prince in a castle a lady should never:

Bribe an infuriatingly arrogant and undeniably irresistible ship captain,
Let him kiss her senseless on a beach,
Battle assassins at his side, or
Exchange wedding vows with him, even under the direst circumstances.

But daring, determined Arabella Caulfield isn’t just any lady. And Luc Westfall is no ordinary shipmaster. He’s the new duke of Lycombe, and to defeat a plot that could destroy his family he must have an heir. Now he knows just the woman for the job . . . and he’s not above seduction to turn this would-be princess into a duchess.

Confession – this month I messed up 🙂 I had the prompt in my calendar, and it says “Western: Contemporary or Historical” – but I only hovered over the date and saw “or historical” so … >.> I thought general historicals were on the table. Nevertheless it was a happy mistake, because I “rediscovered” historicals. I’ve been wanting to read a book by Katharine Ashe, and I Married the Duke was one more recently added to my calibre library. Kismet!

Arabella Caulfield is a fantastic heroine. She’s so practical and determined, very rational and realistic … and yet her whole driving force is something a gypsy woman told her when she was a child. It’s a great juxtaposition. Bella is written with such depth and just comes alive from the page. In a way, Bella provides for her family and is the most pragmatic. She knew what she wanted, and went for it, through schooling, her making money to support her family, and becoming a finishing governess. On the other hand, she’s determined to marry a prince. It’s just so out there, that I didn’t (couldn’t?) really think about it. Bella is so friendly I just loved her. The fact that she’s willing to throw Luc’s words back in his face, and take matters into her own hands is also great. It’s hard to explain, but Arabella is how you want every romance heroine to be – unique, her own person, smart, and human.

Lucien Westfall is quite the hero. (I love an understatement, don’t you?) He’s a pirate, a future duke, a former officer in the navy, a rogue, and an all around marshmallow. I loved him. He’s so capable, yet flawed, inept, but amazing. As you can see, Ms. Ashe does a great job developing her characters. Luc has a wicked sense of humor which is compounded by the company he keeps. I liked that Luc isn’t arrogant, despite the fact that everyone expects him to be the duke (and in fact begin addressing him as such). Luc is rather wicked, and actually starts out brusquely with Bella. So much in fact that for a little bit I questioned if he actually was the hero or not. It was a nice take, and really fit with the story. He of course also has a hero-complex, which fit.

There’s just so much about this story that’s woven into the plot I’m having a hard time not talking about it. (My own rules, I know!) I loved the fact that this book stands alone, and has its own “happily ever after.” However, it is clearly part of a series, and the overarching story is not yet finished (and should be at the conclusion of the trilogy, as there are three sisters, and it is driving me crazy.) The prologue is interesting, but I was pretty skeptical about it. It also leads to so many questions. I know Arabella has the goal of marrying a prince, and at the beginning of the book she’s on her way to meet one … but also as a career move – he’s hired her. It’s this mix of prudence and fantasy. Which I suppose any good romance is.

I have to admit, I looked at the cover, and the cover quote is from Lisa Kleypas. She wrote “Katharine Ashe writes with eloquence and power.” The eloquence I could figure, but the “power” really caught my attention. Having read this book, I see it. Ms. Ashe tells a compelling story, with excellent writing. The characters are so dynamic, with a great dialogue and banter. The pacing and flow is perfect. I’m just so annoyed it’s only the first book in the series because I hate waiting. I’m so impatient to see how the story ends, because there are so many questions. The girls’ origin, the ring, what prince, and there are still two books to go! If anyone has read it, I’d love to discuss with you in the comments what pairings you suspect, because I have an idea or two.

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Clearly, I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys historical romances, and in fact, anyone who enjoys romances in general. I’ve already told a friend to read it. If the gypsy aspect makes you skeptical – go with it. I think you’ll be really happy.

Grade: A-

You can buy a copy here or read an excerpt here.

TBR Challenge Review: Twice Tempted by Jeaniene Frost

Twice Tempted by Jeaniene Frost
Paranormal romance released by Avon on March 26, 2013

Dating the Prince of Darkness has its challenges…

Leila’s psychic abilities have been failing her, and now she isn’t sure what the future holds. If that weren’t enough, her lover Vlad has been acting distant. Though Leila is a mere mortal, she’s also a modern woman who refuses to accept the cold shoulder treatment forever–especially from the darkly handsome vampire who still won’t admit that he loves her . . .

Like choosing between eternal love and a loveless eternity . . .

Soon circumstances send Leila back to the carnival circuit, where tragedy strikes. And when she finds herself in the crosshairs of a killer who may be closer than she realizes, Leila must decide who to trust– the fiery vampire who arouses her passions like no other or the tortured knight who longs to be more than a friend? With danger stalking her every step of the way, all it takes is one wrong move to damn her for eternity . . .

I really enjoyed Once Burned, and I was really excited when I learned Twice Tempted would be out this year. I liked Vlad when he had cameo appearances in Ms. Frost’s other books. (I actually haven’t read the Cat and Bones books, but liked her spinoffs a lot.) Anyway despite not liking series (especially ones that don’t really stand alone), nor first person point of view, I was into this book. (What faint praise, eh?)

Leila is an incredibly strong heroine. We’d already seen this in Once Burned, but here I liked that Ms. Frost took it to the max. Leila is the heroine everyone wants to read about, and wants to be. She has the strength to make difficult decisions, and not to settle. But, beyond having self worth and a clear idea as to her own importance and identity, she’s considerate. Leila is willing to admit when she’s wrong, and make concessions. Leila isn’t a wilting female, but she isn’t stupid about it either. (She might risk herself, but it isn’t necessarily reckless, or thoughtless.) I say this because her powers take a massive toll on her throughout this book.

Vlad is, well… Dracula – although nobody can call him that – of course. I felt, however, that he wasn’t as developed in this book. So much of what happens between him and Leila is implied, or hidden. While I love heroine centric books, it seems that Vlad almost faded from notice at times. His deeply possessive nature is entertaining, and a bit thrilling, but I just felt I would have liked to see a bit more from and about him. Vlad made huge sweeping romantic gestures, but they simply didn’t have the massive impact or thrill I might have expected.

I don’t know what it is about this book. There were emotional moments. Some when I almost got a bit teary, a few when I chuckled out loud. Leila is so real. And her inner (evil) voice of self doubt is something I think we can all relate to. And yet, something about it just felt… off to me. I know a lot of people loved it – but also that to some people, Vlad’s spinoff has been disappointing.

I’m in the camp that likes it, and will probably re-read it (although I will say I liked Once Burned a lot more…) but I really want this all to be done with by book three. Enough. Even though I really do like Vlad and Leila. So this is me crossing my fingers and hoping. I’d love to see them visit future books, with more than cameos, but these two need resolution. I think also because the “villain” in this case was minor. I know Leila and Vlad’s relationship needed a lot of developing, but it almost seemed secondary.

Twice Tempted is definitely a book I enjoyed reading. It’s a good book, and I happily recommend it to people who like Jeaniene Frosts’ paranormals. Even for people who like paranormal romances in general. (Although in this case I think reading the first book in the series is crucial. Even all the other spinoffs would be helpful, especially Mencheres’s story, Eternal Kiss of Darkness. However, personally, if Vlad and Leila’s doesn’t end with a third book, I might be tapping out. We’ll see. (Or, at the least, I’ll be waiting until the series ends to read all the books at once.)

Grade: C+

You can read an excerpt here or buy a copy here.

TBR Challenge Review: Game for Marriage by Karen Erickson

Game for Marriage by Karen Erickson
Contemporary romance released by Entangled Publishing on January 11, 2013

He’s going in deep to make her his…

Struggling artist Sheridan Harper never imagined she’d spend a sizzling night with Jared Quinn, the smoking-hot star quarterback of her local professional football team, the San Jose Hawks. And she’s even more shocked when Jared’s publicist offers her a proposition: a fake marriage to keep Jared out of the gossip mags. Being that close to Jared would be too tempting, so to protect her heart, she insists on secretly including a clause forbidding sex between them.

Jared just wants to keep his starting QB job and keep it in San Jose. His reputation as a ladies’ man has landed him in the headlines one too many times, but there’s something about his kind, passionate new wife that tempts him beyond reason. Any sort of intimacy between them is completely forbidden, but as their bodies fall in deep, will their hearts follow suit?

I love football. I love romances that involve football. After reading the blurb for the book I immediately got a copy. As I’ve read other books by Karen Erickson before, I had high hopes going in. I wasn’t disappointed. In fact, despite modern day marriage of conveniences being not really my thing, I was sold. I didn’t even get caught up in the legal potentialities!

Sheridan Harper is a great heroine. Although she’s only 25, she’s got a good head on her shoulders and great sense of self. Sure, she’s a little flighty and flaky at times, but I think that has more to do with Jared, than her. Sheridan is like every woman plus. She’s normal – other than being super hot, and having an inheritance. I like that she’s an artist, but still worries about the mundane. Paying for things, keeping her studio, and so on. Ms. Erickson writes a great balance, adding those details perfectly, making Sheridan real and relatable, instead of bogging down the story. Sheridan got major bonus points in my book for being rational and down to earth.

Jared Quinn is an entertaining hero. He’s a quarterback in the NFL, so you know his life (at least currently) is cake-like. Especially since he leads a team that does well. I liked that Jared was a home town boy and that he wanted to stay there. (Not quite actually believable or feasible in real life, but that’s why it’s fiction!) The sentiment is there though, and the fact that Jared has to work so hard to stay with the team. I also liked that he knew he was an ass, but outgrew it. He’s a reformed bad boy hero. What also authenticates this transformation is that Jared has some nudging from the team’s PR people. And that Sheridan makes him work for it. After all, Jared knows full well what he’s got and uses it to his advantage.

The fact that the characters are real and have flaws add that perfect touch. The story is pretty charmed – marriage of convenience that happens to work out. Beyond that, the premise seems like it might be a bit weak, yet Ms. Erickson makes it play out naturally. The setting, story line, developing relationship, and situations Jared and Quinn are thrown into all work together. I liked that Jared and Quinn both have good friends that are there for them. (The fact that the best friends fall for each other was obvious series bait, but I’m willing to give them a chance.)

There were some other minor things that bothered me. For example, Jared gripes that the ring he gets Sheridon costs over $100,000, but then adds how he would never tell her the cost or she’d never wear it. But lo and behold! Sheridan happens to be a connoisseur of diamond rings! And she slips it on happily. Or the fact that the owner would out Jared from the team for behavior issues. Unless you’re Bill Gates and can burn cash for warmth, or don’t care about winning… it doesn’t make sense for an owner to act thus. Yes, I am a picky reader.

But! The heat is there, and the romance is really there. I quite enjoyed Game for Marriage, and I think anyone who reads contemporary romances will like it too. In fact, I can see myself re-reading it in the future. The sports angle is just a bonus if you happen to like football. Ms. Erickson is a great writer and story teller. I’m definitely looking for her next release – in any genre.

Grade: B

You can read an excerpt here or buy a copy here.