Tag Archives: TBR Challenge

Team ALBTALBS TBR Challenge Review: Unraveled by Lauren Dane

Unraveled (Whiskey Sharp book 1) by Lauren Dane
Contemporary romance released by Carina Press on January 30, 2018

Whiskey Sharp: Unraveled by Lauren Dane book coverThe sharpest ache comes from wanting what you think you can’t have…

Maybe Dolan has lived independent, free-spirited and unattached since leaving home at sixteen. Whiskey Sharp, Seattle’s sexy vintage-styled barbershop and whiskey bar, gave her a job—and a reason to put down roots. Cutting hair by day, losing herself drumming in a punk rock band by night, she’s got it good.

But a longtime crush that turns into a hot, edgy night with brooding and bearded Alexsei Petrov makes it a hell of a lot better.

Maybe’s blunt attitude and carnal smile hooked Alexsei from the start. Protecting people is part of his nature and Maybe is meant to be his…even if she doesn’t know it. Yet. He can’t help himself from wanting to protect and care for her.

But Maybe’s fiery independent spirit means pushing back when Alexsei goes too far. Still, he’s not afraid to do a little pushing of his own to get what he wants—her in his life, and his bed, for good. Maybe’s more intoxicating than all the liquor on his shelf…and he’s not afraid to ride the blade’s edge to bind her to him.

My TBR is massive, I don’t think I’ve read 40 new to me books in the last two years. I have reread several Lauren Danes though, so when thinking about what to read and review for ALBTALBS, this book from January of last year was the first to come to mind.

** TW/Spoiler: Maybe suffered severe emotional abuse at the hands of her parents and this is a main plot point in the first two books in the series.** Continue reading

Team ALBTALBS TBR Challenge Review: Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
Contemporary romance published by St. Martin’s Griffin on May 14, 2019

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston book coverWhat happens when America’s First Son falls in love with the Prince of Wales?

When his mother became President, Alex Claremont-Diaz was promptly cast as the American equivalent of a young royal. Handsome, charismatic, genius—his image is pure millennial-marketing gold for the White House. There’s only one problem: Alex has a beef with the actual prince, Henry, across the pond. And when the tabloids get hold of a photo involving an Alex-Henry altercation, U.S./British relations take a turn for the worse.

Heads of family, state, and other handlers devise a plan for damage control: staging a truce between the two rivals. What at first begins as a fake, Instragramable friendship grows deeper, and more dangerous, than either Alex or Henry could have imagined. Soon Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret romance with a surprisingly unstuffy Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations and begs the question: Can love save the world after all? Where do we find the courage, and the power, to be the people we are meant to be? And how can we learn to let our true colors shine through? Casey McQuiston’s Red, White & Royal Blue proves: true love isn’t always diplomatic.

I’m reviewing this for the July #TBRChallenge. While it’s a fairly recent release, I feel like I’ve waited forever to read it. If unrequited love, enemies to lovers, and friends to lovers are things you like in a romance, then this book is for you. It has all of these tropes and more between one couple and it’s delightful. Pretty much all of this story worked for me. Alex and Henry are lovely main characters, the secondary characters are so compelling. I feel like I got enough information for them to be fully developed but at the same time there’s potential for other stories in this world involving these great characters. A big component of the romance between Alex and Henry is epistolary—they communicate via text and email, initially getting to know each other more then it evolves into love letters. It’s so romantic y’all. Continue reading

Team ALBTALBS TBR Challenge Review: Crashed Out by Tessa Bailey

Crashed Out (Made in Jersey #1) by Tessa Bailey
Contemporary romance published December 7, 2015, by Entangled: Brazen

Crashed Out by Tessa Bailey book coverJasmine Taveras is the reason Sarge Purcell grabbed his six-string and bailed the hell out of New Jersey four years ago. She’s the fuel for every song he’s ever written-each one laced with bitter, hard-edged, hungry lust. Now, with his hugely successful band on temporary hiatus, Sarge is determined to prove to Jasmine that he’s turned into every inch the man she’s always needed…

Men are slim pickings for a single factory girl in Hook, New Jersey…until tall, broad-shouldered hotness walks—or rather storms—into Jasmine’s life. Sarge’s return shouldn’t affect her this way. He’s her best friend’s much younger brother, and the kind of rough, gritty, sexiness Jasmine has no right to taste for herself. Even if he lets her.

But lust is a blinding, insatiable force. And when it crashes, it will take both Sarge and Jasmine down with it…

I read Crashed Out for the April TBR Challenge—Something Different. I hoped for a fun read based on the premise of this book. Older woman/younger man, best friend’s little brother, and a rock star romance?! Unfortunately I’m disappointed. Very sexy but I wanted more conversations between Jasmine and Sarge about who they were and what they saw in each other, not just dirty talk. The story seemed very superficial and I wasn’t in the mood to accept two or three days of fabulous sex and a couple “grand gestures” was enough for Jasmine to fall in love with Sarge. Continue reading

Team ALBTALBS TBR Challenge Review: Second Chance with Her Billionaire by Therese Beharrie

Second Chance Her Billionaire by Therese Beharrie (Billionaires for Heiresses book 1)
Contemporary romance released by Harlequin on March 1, 2019

 Book cover for book by Therese BeharrieFrom “I don’t”…

To “I do”?

In this Billionaires for Heiresses story, Summer Bishop knew her parents’ anniversary party in stunning South Africa would be hard. Spending the week with her gorgeous ex-husband, Wyatt Montgomery, reminds Summer of their painful divorce but also—inconveniently—why she fell in love with him! Summer never told Wyatt why she left, and he’s determined to uncover her secrets. Will Summer reveal her heart for a second chance with her husband?

I was so thrilled to get the TBR Challenge for favorite trope. And then I struggled because I love so many tropes, how could I possibly pick just one? And then I  remembered pre-ordering Second Chance with Her Billionaire specifically because of the second chance at love trope. I love a good second chance at love story. My personal library is filled with stories that focus on a couple who had a relationship and for whatever reason, that relationship was doomed, except the love didn’t die and fate shoves a second chance in their way.  What made me want to read Therese’s latest novel wasn’t just the second chance plot, but also the fact the couple is forced together after two years of separation, and neither partner can say no. Continue reading

*Team ALBTALBS TBR Challenge Release Day Review + Giveaway: Devil’s Daughter by Lisa Kleypas

*Whew that title is quite the mouthful, isn’t it?! 😛

Devil’s Daughter by Lisa Kleypas
Historical romance released by Avon on February 19, 2019

Although beautiful young widow Phoebe, Lady Clare, has never met West Ravenel, she knows one thing for certain: he’s a mean, rotten bully. Back in boarding school, he made her late husband’s life a misery, and she’ll never forgive him for it. But when Phoebe attends a family wedding, she encounters a dashing and impossibly charming stranger who sends a fire-and-ice jolt of attraction through her. And then he introduces himself…as none other than West Ravenel.

West is a man with a tarnished past. No apologies, no excuses. However, from the moment he meets Phoebe, West is consumed by irresistible desire…not to mention the bitter awareness that a woman like her is far out of his reach. What West doesn’t bargain on is that Phoebe is no straitlaced aristocratic lady. She’s the daughter of a strong-willed wallflower who long ago eloped with Sebastian, Lord St. Vincent—the most devilishly wicked rake in England.

Before long, Phoebe sets out to seduce the man who has awakened her fiery nature and shown her unimaginable pleasure. Will their overwhelming passion be enough to overcome the obstacles of the past?

Only the devil’s daughter knows…

This book was like a warm hug. I loved cousin West in Hello, Stranger and I squee’d when I read the excerpt included in the final of Hello Stranger, so I knew I absolutely wanted to read Devil’s Daughter and was desperate to get my hands on it. (I even liked him from his very short appearance in Devil in Spring!) Cousin West! Phoebe! I adore the Challons too – I’m Team Sebastian + Evie forever. While I hadn’t read many historical romances in the last few years, exactly, (although I’d venture to say high fantasy romances are also historical…) I always want to read the new one out by Lisa Kleypas. And as I said, this one didn’t disappoint. If a book could be a hug, Devil’s Daughter would be it.
Continue reading

Team TBR Challenge Review: The Date Dare by Tara Sue Me

The Date Dare by Tara Sue Me
Contemporary romance released by After Six Publishing Co on November 19, 2018

The Date Dare by Tara Sue MeWho knew three words held such destructive power? No, not THOSE three words. I’m talking about the evil word trio that’s my own personal kryptonite, that stole my best friend, and took away the only woman I’ve ever loved:
I dare you.

I was six when Darcy Patrick moved next door.
By the time we were eight, we were best friends.

At fifteen, I gave a classmate a black eye for calling her names.
At sixteen, she talked me through asking my crush to prom.

I helped her get over her first heartbreak at nineteen.
Two years later, she returned the favor.

It wasn’t until I was twenty-nine I realized I loved her.
And because I was too stupid to do anything about it,
at thirty, I lost her for good on a dare.

Darcy Patrick is tried of watching her best friend, Elliott Taber, date the wrong kind of woman. When his latest flavor of the month walks out on him, she dares him to let her find his next date. Elliott agrees, but only after Darcy agrees to allow him to do the same.

The dare is on.

The dates take place on the same night. One is an epic fail. The other is just plain epic.

Elliott isn’t prepared for the onslaught of emotions hitting him as Darcy seemingly finds everything she ever wanted with the man he set her up with. He should be happy for her. He should leave her alone.

But he can’t.

So he makes one more dare….

This month’s TBR Challenge prompt was a short read. I tried a few category romances (the less said there the better)… then this book became available at the library, and win! I’d had it on hold because I thought the premise looked cute. In fact the blurb gives more history/detail about Elliott and Darcy’s childhood friendship than the book, almost, but … you get the gist of it. I love friends to lovers stories, and it was nice to read two characters that are so utterly comfortable not only with each other, but themselves as well. I can’t remember if I’ve read a book by Tara Sue Me before … so this one was a great start. Continue reading

Also Belated Team TBR Challenge Review: Muffin Top by Avery Flynn

Muffin Top by Avery Flynn
Contemporary romance released by Entangled on October 29, 2018

Muffin Top by Avery Flynn Book CoverThe only thing about me that’s a size zero is the filter on my mouth. I’ve got a big personality, a big rack, and a big number on the scale. And I’m perfectly fine with that.

But when some random guy suggests I might not be eating alone if I’d ordered a salad instead of a hamburger I’m shocked silent, which is a feat, trust me.

That brings us to one sexy fireman named Frankie Hartigan. He’s hot. He’s funny… And he’s just apologized for being late for our “date” then glared at the fat-shaming jerk. Next thing I know, he’s sitting down and ordering himself dinner.

I have no problem telling him I don’t need a pity date…unless of course it’s to my high school reunion next week. Oops where did that last bit come from? And what do I do now that he’s said yes?!

Because this is no make-over story, and I think Frankie is using me for something. I just have to figure out what…

I actually read this book a few weeks ago, so bear with me if I mess things up. However, it’s stayed with me, and this book is the reason why I read a number of Avery Flynn’s other backlist titles. These Hartigans though – there’s something about them. However [November’s] challenge prompt was “cover love” and! While this isn’t one of those immediately eye catching covers, or eye poppingly (bad) ones … what I love about it is its simplicity, and the fact that there actually is a plus sized woman on the cover. I know we’ve all talked about problems where the models on a book cover are nothing like the characters in the book. And before authors start running in here with “well actually” … yes I also realize authors have varying levels of control in [traditionally] published books. With all that out of the way … I think this is a really great contemporary romance! Onward! Continue reading

Team TBR Challenge Review: A Daddy Sent by Santa by Susan Carlisle

A Daddy Sent by Santa by Susan Carlisle
Contemporary category romance released by Harlequin Medical on October 16, 2018

A Daddy Sent by Santa by Susan Carlisle Book CoverWhen a small-town mom…

Falls for a big-city doc…

Nurse Lauren Wilson is used to doctors coming and going in her Oklahoma town — and doesn’t expect prestigious Boston doc Paxton Samuels to be any different. Until they’re snowed in together and their sensual tension reaches boiling point! But knowing Paxton is due to leave after the festive season, can Lauren risk giving him her heart and her little boy a daddy for Christmas?

This book was in my physical TBR pile and I received it in a book subscription box. I did not finish this book. I read a little past the halfway mark then couldn’t take it anymore. I would be hate-reading if I kept going. I underlined more and more sentences in disgust? Outrage? Disappointment? All of the above? These characters and story did not work for me. Continue reading

Very Belated Team TBR Challenge Review: Roaring Midnight by Colleen Gleason

Roaring Midnight by Colleen Gleason
Paranormal romance released by Avid Press on June 18, 2013

Roaring Midnight by Colleen Gleason Book CoverAmid the glitzy age of Jazz, when gangsters and bootleggers control the cities, there lies another, more insidious threat….the undead.
Macey Gardella is a typical young woman of the Roaring Twenties: she works a job, has her own flat, and loves to dance the Charleston. But when a mysterious man named Sebastian Vioget informs her she belongs to a family of vampire hunters, Macey is stunned and disbelieving.

Yet, strange and frightening things begin to happen, and when Macey comes face-to-face with one of the fanged creatures, she has no choice but to believe Sebastian. And when she learns his own soul depends on her willingness to carry forth the family legacy and hunt the undead, Macey capitulates and joins the fight.

As she begins to learn about her new calling, Macey encounters a handsome newspaper reporter known as Grady–who seems to know more about vampires than he should. And when he begins to ask too many questions, she has to juggle her strong attraction to him with the need for secrecy.

Slipping into speakeasies and sampling bootlegged whiskeys, dodging gangster gunfire and trying to keep her nosy landlady from finding the stakes in her flat, Macey Gardella must navigate through a world of stunning violence, passionate romance, and dark betrayal…

I have been reading Colleen Gleason’s books ever since I was lucky enough to hear her speak at the 2007 RWA Nationals conference. I snapped up her first two Gardella Vampire Hunters novels and became an immediate fan, following her writing into every genre she has written. She’s one of the few authors I’ll purchase even if I don’t have time to read her new releases right away. Which is how I found myself pulling out Roaring Midnight from my TBR pile for the September TBR Challenge. Continue reading

TBR Challenge Review: Exorcising Sean’s Ghost by Beth Kery

Exorcising Sean’s Ghost by Beth Kery
Contemporary erotic romance re-edited and re-released on July 16, 2017 by Beth Kery

Exorcising Sean's Ghost by Beth KeryFrom the New York Times Bestseller Beth Kery comes this sizzling contemporary romance suspense, now re-edited and re-released after former publication by a previous publisher . . .

Belle is forced to mourn in secret after her lover, U.S. Attorney Sean Ryan, is murdered in a terrorist plot. When she has an irrational, intense sexual response to the mysterious stranger Jack Caldwell, Belle wonders if it’s due to delayed grief for Sean. Sean was the only man she’d ever responded to so completely, after all.

When she finds herself submitting wholly to Jack’s dominant, demanding manner in bed Belle begins to live on the sharp edge of doubt and uncertainty, even to the point of questioning her own sanity. Because Belle can’t let go of the crazy, impossible idea that Sean Ryan and Jack Caldwell are one and the same man.

So I never read the original – apparently it was published in 2007 … and I’m kind of happy about that, because everything – the edits etc, were new to me. I love Beth Kery’s writing. I think she’s one of the best authors of erotic romance out there. Even if (and when – because usually it does happen) the characters do something way out there to/for me … it’s still sexy because it works for them. The hero and heroine are always so in tune, and Ms. Kery’s writing has such depth and layers to it. It’s not just the sex – it’s the emotion, the cerebral connection – the full package. The “prompt” of the month’s TBR challenge is PNR or RS … and I’d say this is … peripheral RS? I kept thinking “this is the aftermath – the ‘everything else’ that happens around and after a RS.” It’s the thinking part of it, which makes sense because Ms. Kery (also) has a background in psychology. It’s suspense in and of the mind, not so much in action – as there is a lot of that … but it takes place “off page, off screen.” Can we call this an erotic low key psychological thriller? Because that’s what I’m doing. Continue reading