Review: Ready to Burn (Due South #3) by Tracey Alvarez

Ready to BurnTitle: Ready to Burn
Author: Tracey Alvarez
Series: Due South #3
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
Love small-town romance with an unforgettable cast of characters? The Due South series will transport you to an unspoilt, wild island of the coast of New Zealand. Meet Shaye and Del…

Take one sassy Harland girl…

Shaye Harland, sous chef de-awesome, desperately wants the role of Due South’s head chef. Though a little out of her depth, she can totally cope with the extra de-mands if she can resist her future brother-in-law when he muscles in on her kitchen. The Hollywood wannabe is nothing but a troublesome distraction and he fries her sex-ometer to a crisp. But as far as romance? Forget it. Love, when she finds Mr. Perfect, will be as sweet as her to-die-for cookies.

Add a bad-boy from LA…

Del Westlake swore he’d never again set foot on the island he calls the “ass end of New Zealand.” With his reputation as a sous chef in one of LA’s hottest restau-rants trashed, and his estranged father’s restaurant needing a head chef, Del wants nothing more than to go in, get the job done, and get out. Except his feisty second-in-command carves herself a spot in his heart and completely incinerates his plans.

Watch the sparks fly as they burn it up in the kitchen…

Winning a spot on a TV reality show is just what Del needs to jumpstart his career back in the States. Nothing can get in the way of him winning—not even the woman whose trust he’d destroy if she discovers his secrets. But with a film crew capturing the explosive kitchen chemistry between them, will his bad-boy ways rear up and ruin his shot at becoming Shaye’s Mr. Perfect?

My Review:
Wow! What a mind-blowing book! Easily my favorite of all the books I’ve read in this series so far.

Ready to Burn has everything I adore in a book: Sublime writing, witty dialog, brilliant character development, stunning world building, strong emotions & relationships, lots of hot, steamy romance, and a fast-paced plot. There is nothing I would fault in the slightest.

Del Westlake has burned his bridges in LA so when an opportunity presents itself to go home, he can’t turn it down. Especially because it may well allow him restart his chef career in Chicago. Del is hiding behind his fair share of demons and it takes a very special lady to crack his nut. (Ahem!)

Shaye has been one of my fav characters in this series to date so I was really looking forward to reading this book. She is warm but sassy, strong yet vulnerable; particularly to Del’s charms.

They spark off each other at the start, and Shaye’s nose is understandably out of joint when she finds out Del has been hired temporarily as Head Chef, a position she believes she can easily fill. However, she quickly falls for Del’s Hollywood bad-boy charm and is soon in deep over her head.

I loved Del and Shaye as a couple and really enjoyed how Del transformed his whole attitude on life by the end of the book, even opening up to his family about the demons that have been torturing him. He was a great leading man.

I also adored the reality-TV theme, it added an interesting dimension to the story.

There was some really funny, laugh out loud moments in this book, like this bit: “Her revenge was squeezing your bum and letting you put a tongue in her ear? Sounds like cruel and unnecessary punishment.”

All in all, a truly amazing read. I’m only sorry I read it so quickly. I wish I could wipe my brain and start over, to relish the enjoyment all over again.

This is an excellent series and I highly recommend it.

Review: Melting into You (Due South #2) by Tracey Alvarez

Melting Into YouTitle: Melting into You
Author: Tracey Alvarez
Series: Due South #2
Rating: 4.5 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
Big, sexy men who don’t relate well to kids need not apply…

Kezia Murphy plays her widow card well. When you don’t trust people not to let you down, it’s easier to not get involved—and getting involved with a man who makes her skin sizzle just by looking at him would be una pazzia—crazy! Four years ago while Kezia’s daughter, Zoe, battled leukaemia, a tragic accident stole her husband’s life. Starting over in the little town of Oban where she’s adopted into the close knit community on Stewart Island, Kezia and her daughter are all the family the other needs. Except Zoe yearns for more.

New Zealand’s worst candidate for instant fatherhood…

Ben doesn’t do gooey emotional stuff. He doesn’t do cosy home and family. And he sure isn’t the big teddy-bear Kezia Murphy, the woman he secretly fantasises about, thinks he is. So when Jade, his surprise eight-year-old daughter arrives on his doorstep, he’s a D-minus student struggling to pass a crash-course in parenting.

They’ll either melt or raze their lives to the ground…

When the sparks of attraction between Kezia and Ben fan into an inferno, Ben doesn’t know how much longer the layers of resistance around his heart can resist melting into the gooey mess he fears. The more he fights it the harder it is to make the choice that will destroy the family he now longs to claim.

My Review:
Melting Into You is a great second book and another wonderful addition to this series.

I really love Tracey’s writing style and the quality is of a very high standard. I enjoy the small tight-knit rural community setting and I think it’s amazing that Tracey can write so many fantastic stories within such a small world. But she pulls it off with aplomb.

Ben Harland is a typical long in the tooth bachelor, a real live Neanderthal Man. He grated on my nerves a bit at the start, but I quickly warmed to him. His progression is heart-warming and I loved his loyalty toward his daughter at the end of the book. The two girls were so cute in this book and it really appealed to my maternal side.

Kezia is battling some pretty big insecurities, and she is terrified of relying on any man again. With Ben’s help and some prodding from her friends, she learns to overcome them.

It’s a beautiful love story – two guarded people opening their hearts and deciding to share a family life together.

Another fantastic read.
Actual Rating: 4.5 Stars

Release Week Blitz: Forever With You by Jennifer L. Armentrout

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Today is my stop during the release week book blitz for Forever With You by Jennifer L. Armentrout. It’s the fifht book in her amazing Wait For You series. There’s an excerpt and a giveaway.

ForeverWithYou mm cTitle: Forever with You
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: Wait for You #5
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
In the irresistibly sexy series from #1 New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout, two free spirits find their lives changed by a one-night stand…

Some things you just believe in, even if you’ve never experienced them. For Stephanie, that list includes love. It’s out there. Somewhere. Eventually. Meanwhile she’s got her job at the mixed martial arts training center and hot flings with gorgeous, temporary guys like Nick. Then a secret brings them closer, opening Steph’s eyes to a future she never knew she wanted—until tragedy rips it away.

Nick’s self-assured surface shields a past no one needs to know about. His mind-blowing connection with Steph changes all that. As fast as he’s knocking down the walls that have kept him commitment-free, she’s building them up again, determined to keep the hurt—and Nick—out. But he can’t walk away. Not when she’s the only one who’s ever made him wish for forever . . .

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Praise for Forever with You:
“Armentrout packs a powerful emotional punch in her fifth Wait for You new adult contemporary (after Fall with Me)… Armentrout tugs at the heartstrings while delivering an intense, gripping tale.” –Publishers Weekly

“Armentrout presents an emotional installment in her Wait for You series…[she] does it again, presenting a fast-paced tearjerker that fans will devour.” –Booklist

FWYTeaser2_IG

Excerpt:
I spotted Roxy and her blue glasses toward the back of the busy restaurant. The walkways between the booths were crowded with racing kids covered in sticky jelly and older people trying to rein them in as I made my way toward them. Roxy’s hair was pulled up in a messy bun and her eyes squinted as she glanced up at me. “You seriously went running before you came here. You weren’t lying.”
“Nope. I try to run every day.” I sat beside Katie, who compared to Friday night was dressed down in a baby blue off-the-shoulder sweater that looked like sequins had thrown up on it. Her blond hair was pulled back in a low ponytail at the nape of her neck. “I have to work out,” I explained, placing my purse between Katie and me. “I eat like five starving guys in college. It’s actually embarrassing how much food I can consume in one sitting.”
Katie laughed. “I don’t have that problem. I can eat whatever I want and not gain a pound. Actually, I’d probably lose weight.” Her shoulders rose in a shrug. “Sucks to be you all.”
Roxy scowled at her. “You don’t need to rub it in, you know.”
“Don’t hate me because I was born this way.” Katie grinned when Roxy rolled her eyes. “Maybe it’s Maybelline. Maybe it’s Katie.”
I giggle snorted. The waitress appeared at our table, clicking the pen she’d pulled out of the pocket of her apron. She took our drink order and then dashed off to fulfill it, her white sneakers squeaking across the floor. “I’m glad you came,” Roxy said, propping her elbows on the table. “I was worried I was going to have to search you down and force you to come eat with us.”
I laughed again. “I’m pretty sure you’d have a hard time doing that.”
“I’m scrappy.” Roxy grinned. “I could take you.”
Thinking of the shiner I’d first seen her with, I decided she was probably telling the truth. “I’m glad you guys invited me.” I paused while the waitress returned with our drinks before disappearing again, then I said, “So, I know Roxy works at the bar, what about you, Katie?”
“At the club across the street from Mona’s.” Katie dumped a packet of sugar into her coffee and then picked up five more, managing to rip the tops off in one impressive swipe. “It’s a strip club.”
“Oh.” How had I not noticed a strip club across the street from Mona’s? Katie dumped the sugar in her coffee. “I strip. I don’t dance. I take my clothes off for a living and get paid damn good money for it, too.”
I blinked. “That’s cool.”
Her gaze turned shrewd. “You don’t have a problem with that?”
“Um, not if you don’t.” I glanced at Roxy, who was busy cleaning her glasses, a small smile pulling at her face. I picked up my soda and took a deep drink.
Katie tilted her head to the side, studying me. “Really?”
I lifted a shoulder. “Nope. Honestly. I think it’s pretty cool you have the lady balls to do it.”
A slow grin appeared. “You should do it. You’d make so much money. Hell, I’d pay to see you—”
“Katie,” sighed Roxy, resting her chin in her hand. “Stop trying to recruit rookie strippers. You do this every time you meet someone. No one has agreed yet.”
I grinned as I pictured the odd blonde roaming the city, looking for women who wanted to take their clothes off. “I don’t think I could do it. I’d get up there and then forget how to take my clothes off.”
“Taking your clothes off is the easiest part,” Katie replied seriously.
Roxy looked doubtful. “Those spandex running pants leave very little to the imagination. If I had your body, I’d walk around naked all day.”
“I have no problem getting naked when it’s—I don’t know, an intimate situation,” I announced, “but doing it in public is a different story.”
“That’s good to know,” the waitress said, pen in hand. “Do you guys know what you want to eat?”
“Awkward,” I murmured under my breath as my eyes widened.

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And don’t miss the previous titles in the Wait for You Series!

JLA_Author-photoAbout the Author:
# 1 New York Times and # 1 International Bestselling author Jennifer lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing, she spends her time reading, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, and hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russell Loki.

Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class, where she spent most of her time writing short stories….which explains her dismal grades in math. Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She is published with Spencer Hill Press, Entangled Teen and Brazen, Disney/Hyperion and Harlequin Teen. Her book Obsidian has been optioned for a major motion picture and her Covenant Series has been optioned for TV. Her young adult romantic suspense novel DON’T LOOK BACK was a 2014 nominated Best in Young Adult Fiction by YALSA.

She also writes Adult and New Adult contemporary and paranormal romance under the name J. Lynn. She is published by Entangled Brazen and HarperCollins.

Links:

There’s a tour wide giveaway, for a chance to win enter the rafflecopter below:
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Review: Falling Sky (Blue Phoenix #2) by Lisa Swallow

falling skyTitle: Falling Sky
Author: Lisa Swallow
Series: Blue Phoenix #2
Rating: 4 stars
Genres: contemporary romance
Links:

Blurb:
Sky’s world turned upside down when she met rock star Dylan Morgan, and exploded when she discovered his hidden past.

Four months after Sky learns Dylan’s devastating secret, she’s trying to piece her life back together. Without an explanation from Dylan, Sky has no choice but to try and forget him.

Dragged back into the life he ran from, Dylan continues to spiral downwards as he copes with his fame the only way he knows how. Shattered by the revelation Sky knows his darker past, he forces himself to return to England and explain.

Sky and Dylan reconnect, attempting to build on the shaky foundations of their summer. But the outside world continues to conspire against them.

Taking place in the epicentre of the Blue Phoenix world, Sky and Dylan’s story continues amongst the chaos surrounding the band and its members.

My Review:
I raced through this second installment, eager to know how things would end up for Sky and Dylan. I loved how both of them matured and developed as characters and how their relationship changed from being a sort of ‘crutch’ to a true partnership.

I still love this author’s writing though there were parts of the dialog that felt unnatural. Personally, I believe she missed a couple of plot opportunities, especially with Lily and Sky’s break-in. (Partly because I just don’t want their story to end.)

The last quarter of the book I was waiting for something climactic to happen but it didn’t. It was only at the end that I realized this is the last story centering on Sky and Dylan and I’m pretty heartbroken because I am not ready to say goodbye to them yet.

I’ve no interest in reading Liam’s book. We barely got to hear from him in Book 1 & 2 so I don’t feel any connection to him and Honey is just uugghh – a stereotypical gold-digger. I won’t be checking out that book, however, I’m really interested to read Jem’s story. He was a really interesting character – flawed, troubled and majorly hitting the self-destruct button.

Overall, this was a great read and this is a gem of a series.

Review: Summer Sky (Blue Phoenix #1) by Lisa Swallow

summer skyTitle: Summer Sky
Author: Lisa Swallow
Series: Blue Phoenix #1
Rating: 4 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
Sky changed her life for a man once, and she has no intention of doing it again – even if he is a six foot, tattooed rock god who makes a mean bacon sandwich.

Sky Davis is fed up of boyfriend Grant taking her for granted and when she comes home to find him wearing a girl, Sky suspects the relationship is over. She takes an unscheduled holiday and leaves the life (and guy) she hates behind.

Rock star Dylan Morgan is struggling with fame and infamy, sick of his life being controlled by other people. Dylan cuts his hair and walks away from his role as lead singer of Blue Phoenix, leaving chaos and speculation behind.

Outside the English seaside town of Broadbeach their cars and worlds collide.

Sky decides Dylan is an arrogant guy with too many tattoos, and Dylan is amused by the smart-mouthed girl with no idea who he is. Dylan and Sky soon discover they’ve travelled to Broadbeach for the same reason – to escape from reality back to a place with happy childhood memories.

Losing themselves in a world where they know nothing about each other, Sky and Dylan begin a holiday romance that soon heats up their rainy English summer.

Fantasies can’t last forever and when reality crashes the party, Sky isn’t sure she wants to be more than his ‘summer Sky’.

Returning to the real world and public scrutiny isn’t their only problem. Blue Phoenix lead guitar player, Jem Jones, has a reason for wanting Sky out of Dylan’s life, and is determined to come between them. Some things won’t stay hidden, even when they’re paid to ‘go away’.

Summer Sky is a romance where occasionally more than the bacon sizzles. This is the first in the new ‘Blue Phoenix’ series of contemporary rock star romances.

*Please note this is not a standalone and has a cliffhanger – Sky’s and Dylan’s story continues in Falling Sky (Blue Phoenix #2)

My Review:
This book totally sucked me in and I read it in two sittings. Apart from a couple of minor annoyances, I really enjoyed it. Love this author’s writing style and will definitely continue the series.

The author brings you into the heart of the story from the get-go and straight away my interest was piqued. Sky is a likeable MC and I loved Dylan at the start; though later on I became more suspicious of his motives and wondered if he was trustworthy. A hot, troubled rock star god? Yeah, this was definitely my kind of book.

There was a part about a third of the way in where I grew a little frustrated as it appeared that the couple were going round and round in circles and the dialog became a little repetitive. However, it was only a minor speed-bump.

I loved the rock star world in the second part of this book and I felt the author did a great job of presenting it as outwardly glamorous but inwardly quite twisted and full of debauchery. It made for some great reading.

I loved the writing style and it was a very accomplished novel, in my opinion.

All in all a great read and I’d highly recommend it. I think fans of J.Lynn would especially enjoy this series.

I’ve already downloaded Falling Sky and I can’t wait to get into bed tonight and continue the story, especially after that shocking cliff-hanger ending (love it).

Thanks to Lisa Swallow for promoting this book which enabled me to pick up a free copy.

Review: Whiskey Kisses (3:AM Kisses #4) by Addison Moore

whiskey kissesTitle: Whiskey Kisses
Author: Addison Moore
Series: 3:AM Kisses #4
Rating: 3.5 stars
Genres: Conteporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
This book can be read as a standalone.

Izzy Sawyer has always been the it girl. She believes she’s the last person on earth who deserves a happily ever after. Holt Edwards has always been the player that women voluntarily fall to their knees for. When it comes to love, Holt doesn’t believe in fairytale endings.

When Izzy dives back into the dating pool, Holt is right there, ready and willing, to offer tips and tricks to get her through an entire army of blind dates—starting with a bone melting demonstration on how to deliver mouthwatering kisses.

One thing leads to whiskey and Izzy is starting to think happily ever after doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. Holt is starting to rethink his stance on fairytale endings.

But Izzy has a secret that has turned her world upside down. Holt has a secret of his own that cost him far more than he ever bargained for.

Sometimes life doesn’t give you the happily ever after. Sometimes it’s best to leave fairytale endings on the bookshelf where they belong.

Izzy can’t stop thinking about Holt.
Holt can’t seem to quit his favorite new addiction—Izzy.

The mercury is rising—secrets are percolating—and their lust for one another is just about to detonate.

Izzy needs just one more hit of Holt and his late night Whiskey kisses, but deep down she knows that will never be enough. She wants all of him—every bone melting kiss he ever has to offer.

Izzy wants Holt
Holt worships Izzy.

Summer in Hollow Brook just heated up.
Sparks are flying.
Together Izzy and Holt are unstoppably electric.

My Review:
Actual Rating: 3.5 stars

This is my first Addison Moore book and I haven’t read the other books in this series.

I really enjoyed reading this and it was quite a quick read. However, I did have a few issues with it that stopped me from rating it higher.

Izzy is a like-able MC and I really felt for her the whole way throughout the story. All she has ever tried to do is abide by her father’s last wish – to make sure her mom isn’t alone, her sister is looked after, and to write to him. I had a feeling that her father would reappear at some point. One of the sweetest parts of this book were the letters that Izzy wrote to her Dad – these parts were exceptionally well written.

Holt is smoking hot and also a really nice guy. Quite mature for 22, except for his actions at the end of the book which were uncharacteristically immature and also not relevant to the plot. Overall, I really loved him though and one can’t help but fall for him, particularly when he is so protective of Izzy.

There was some very witty dialogue between Holt and Izzy, and Izzy and her mom. But in other parts I felt the dialogue was cringe-worthy, cheesy and very unnatural. A little inconsistent.

Izzy’s mom and sister were extremely irritating characters and so selfish, particularly Laney. I really didn’t like her at all. Holt’s dad is a prize jerk, yet in the emotional reveal at the end he seems to have developed into the persona of what a man his age should be – but it wasn’t in keeping with how he acted in the rest of the story.

Izzy has been struggling to deal with the aftermath of a hugely traumatic experience and consequently she has shut herself off to love and relationships. I felt the author handled this very well, and I could feel Izzy’s pain. However, when Izzy and Holt finally get it on she had no doubts and appeared overly confident for someone who was supposed to be a troubled virgin. In reality, I think she would have been way more apprehensive.

There is a plot-line around the fact that Izzy is 5 years older than Holt and there are a few scenes where she worries about this and one scene where others petty prejudices come to the fore. I’m not sure that it’s as current or relevant nowadays but I could relate to Izzy’s sentiments as I met my husband when he was 21 and I was 26 and I initially turned him down because I felt he was too young, and I worried what others would think. However, that was sixteen years ago, and I thought it was more acceptable nowadays? So not sure in current times how big of a deal it would actually be.

The ending was too neatly wrapped up to be believable, and I was incredulous for the most part. But it didn’t dent my overall enjoyment of this book. I will definitely check out more of this authors work. However, I’ve no interest in reading about Lainey and Ryder or Cole and Roxy so I will probably check out Bryson and Baya’s book.

I’d like to thank Addison Moore for running a free promo on this book which allowed me to pick up a complimentary copy.

Review: Tempting the Player (Gamble Brothers #2) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

tempting the playerTitle: Tempting the Player
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: Gamble Brothers #2
Rating: 4 stars
Genres:
Links:

Blurb:
A sexy category romance from Entangled’s Brazen imprint…

He’s a player on and off the field…

Chad Gamble, all-star pitcher for the Nationals, is one of the best players on—and off—the field. And right now, the notorious bad boy wants Bridget Rodgers. But with her lush curves and snappy comebacks, the feisty redhead is the kind of woman a man wants to settle down with…and that’s the last thing Chad needs.

When the paparazzi catch them in a compromising position, Chad’s manager issues an ultimatum: clean up his act or kiss his multi-million dollar contract goodbye. To save his career, his meddling publicist says he’ll have to convince everyone Bridget isn’t just his flavor of the week, but his girlfriend.

Being blackmailed into a fake relationship with Chad Gamble isn’t easy, especially when the sizzling physical attraction between them is undeniable. With a month to go on their arranged pretense, it’s going to take every ounce of willpower they have not to fall into bed together…or in love.

My Review:
I enjoyed this a little more than the first book, in particular I liked the story-line around the ‘fake romance’ and how the plot developed. I didn’t like Chase at first but he grew on me. Brigid is a sweetheart from the outset.

I did feel the end was a little unrealistic, but it didn’t dampen my overall enjoyment of this book.

Review: Tempting the Best Man (Gamble Brothers #1) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

tempting the best manTitle: Tempting the Best Man
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: (Gamble Brothers #1)
Rating: 4 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
A sexy category romance from Entangled’s Brazen imprint…

She’ll make him lose control…

Madison Daniels has worshipped her brother’s best friend since they were kids. Everyone thinks she and Chase Gamble would make the perfect couple, but there are two major flaws in their logic. 1) Chase has sworn off relationships of any kind, and 2) after blurring the line between friends and lovers for one night four years ago, they can’t stop bickering.

Forced together for her brother’s wedding getaway, Chase and Madison decide to call a truce for the happy couple. Except all bets are off when they’re forced to shack up in a tacky 70’s honeymoon suite and survive a multitude of “accidents” as the family tries to prove their “spark” can be used than for more than fighting. That is, if they don’t strangle each other first…

My Review:
I was saving this series for the flight to Australia and I managed to read all three books on the plane.

I enjoyed this book, and it is full of all the favorite things I love about JLA’s writing. Maddie is instantly likeable and I could feel her frustration with Chase, and his apparent lack of regard for her. I was rooting for them from the start.

The only issue I had with this book is the length – it was just far too short and I felt it lacked a bit because of it.

Overall though, a decent read.

Review: Tempting the Bodyguard (Gamble Brothers #3) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

tempting the bodygaurdTitle: Tempting the Bodyguard
Author: by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: Gamble Brothers #3
Rating: 4 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
A sexy category romance from Entangled’s Brazen imprint…

He can protect her from everyone except himself.

Alana Gore is in danger. A take-no-prisoners publicist, her way with people has made her more than a few enemies over the years, but a creepy stalker is an entirely different matter. She needs a bodyguard, and the only man she can ask is not only ridiculously hot, but reputed to have taste for women that goes beyond adventurous.

Chandler Gamble has one rule: don’t protect anyone you want to screw. But with Alana, he’s caught between his job and his increasingly hard libido. On one hand, Alana needs his help. On the other, Chandler wants nothing more than to take the hot volcano of a woman in hand. To make her writhe in pleasure, until she’s at his complete mercy.

She needs protection. He needs satisfaction. And the moment the line is crossed, all hell will break loose…

My Review:
It took me a little while to get into this book as I didn’t like Alana from the outset – as a result of how her character was portrayed in Tempting the Player. But as the story progressed I came to understand her more fully, and began to feel sympathy for her. Overall this was a good read, if predictable.

While I enjoyed reading this series, it is not one of Jennifer’s best in my opinion.

Blog Tour: Tough Love by Lori Foster

TL Review_Excerpt Banner
I am so happy to be part of the blog tour for Tough Love By Lori Foster. I’ll share my review with you today and an excerpt from the book. There’s also a tour wide giveaway.

Book 2_Tough Love by Lori Foster_coverTitle: Tough Love
Author: Lori Foster
Series: Ultimate #3
Rating: 4 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance/ Sports Romance
Links:

Blurb:
She’s playing hard to get… to win the MMA fighter of her ultimate fantasies in a sultry new novel from New York Times bestselling author Lori Foster…

Vanity Baker loves a good, clean match, but she’s not above playing a little dirty. She’s wanted Stack “The Wolf” Hannigan from day one. Seems as though the best way to corral the famously commitment-phobic fighter is to insist on keeping it casual. And her plan works—deliciously well—until Stack’s past steps out of the shadows.

Stack learned early to stay free of attachments. But with sexy, forthright Vanity, he’s the one always left wanting more. Then his troublemaking family comes back into the picture, threatening everything Stack cares about—Vanity included. Suddenly he realizes they’re much more than friends with benefits. He’s ready to go to the mat for her…but will it be in time to protect the woman who’s tamed him for good?

My Review:
This was a great read and I adored the world-building and thoroughly entertaining characters.

Vanity has it bad for Stack, but he’s notoriously commitment-phobic, so she comes up with a grand plan to seduce him and hook him for life. And it succeeds fabulously until he becomes aware of some cards she was holding close to her chest, and then it kind-of falls apart.

I loved Stack’s mad dysfunctional family and the network of MMA fighters he surrounds himself with. One of the things I especially liked was the close male friendships that Vanity has developed with some of the fighters. It’s a refreshing change and one I could relate to. When I was in my late teens and early twenties, I had way more male friends than female friends. Though my mom will tell you they were all in love with me (that’s Moms for you) I never thought that, and I totally believe it’s possible to have platonic relationships with guys. Most books dispute that notion so I liked that we got to see a different side of it in Tough Love. That’s not to say that Leese didn’t admit to an attraction to Vanity, because he did, but the fact is he was a great friend to her and I loved that.

I struggled a little with the first 10/15% of this book – I felt it dragged a little and that some of the dialog between Stack and Vanity was a little stiff and unnatural. Thankfully, those concerns melted away after that. I also struggled to reconcile Vanity’s behaviour regarding her financial position. It didn’t feel natural that she would tell Stack’s family about her wealth in such an open way. To me, it would have been way more natural for her to be cagey about it. Anyway, it’s a relatively minor complaint and it didn’t deny my enjoyment of this book.

I’m interested in Yvette and Cannon’s story and I’m definitely going to read that book. I also can’t wait to read about Armie and Merissa, and Leese’s story when it releases. I warmed to all the guys in this book and they were all intriguing in their own unique way.

The writing style is decent, and while it didn’t blow me away, it’s solidly written and very well edited.

In summary, this was a great book and I look forward to reading more of this series.

I received an ARC of this book via the publisher and Inkslinger PR in exchange for my honest review.

Tough Love Available Now

Excerpt:
The breath she held came out in a gasp as he pulled her against him, locked an arm around her waist and took her mouth with hot, incredible greed.
Whoa. And here she thought she’d been on the ragged edge.
He was so much bigger than her in every way, he made her feel tiny and feminine and fragile. In all other situations her independent soul might have rebelled, but not now. Not with Stack. She trusted him one hundred percent, and wanted him even more than that.
Flattening her hands on his chest, she smoothed over the solid wall of his pecs, up to those rock-solid shoulders. Heat poured off him, and—oh God—he smelled so good. With his big hands opened on her, his mouth eating at hers, she forgot… everything.
The music and the conversation of other guests faded away. She tunneled her fingers into his hair and tried to get closer still.
Someone bumped into them; Stack didn’t stop kissing her. If anything, his tongue became bolder, exploring, tasting.
Laughter, probably from his friends, sounded nearby, and still he didn’t stop. He gathered her closer.
Jarred back to the here and now, Vanity pressed against him. A true gentleman, Stack immediately eased up.
Her lips tingled. Shoot, her whole body tingled. She drew in a shaky breath. “Wow.”
Proving he hadn’t, in fact, forgotten they stood in the middle of the floor at a friend’s wedding, he whispered against her lips, “Let me get you someplace private.” A softer kiss of persuasion. “I’ll give you reason to be wowed.”
Such a tempting promise.
Oh, how she wanted to haul him to the nearest quiet closet. But that would be dumb. What she wanted, what she hoped he ultimately wanted, would require hours, not a few frenzied minutes.
Voice filled with regret, Vanity explained, “I can’t go just yet.”
His rough growl proved his impatience.
“Very soon, I promise.” Adjusting their embrace, her arms around his neck, his hands at her waist, she put some space between them. “Let’s dance while you cool down and I—”
“Dream on.” But he eased his hold and fell into step with her. Gaze burning over her, then lingering on her cleavage, he asked, “How much longer do I have to wait?”
Vanity didn’t pretend confusion; she knew exactly what he meant, exactly what he wanted. “One dance. Then I need to get the bouquet out of the fridge and gather up some presents and—”
He groaned again, prompting Vanity to laugh.
“Let’s talk.” Maybe casual conversation would help cool his jets and give her a needed opportunity to regroup.
“Okay.” He leaned in. “I can’t wait to taste you—all over.”
All over?
“And to get you under me. Or over me. Your preference.”
“Stack.” Her shaky voice sounded weak. “Let’s talk about something that isn’t provoking.”
“Like what? Because honest to god, darlin’, after weeks of your verbal foreplay, I’m feeling pretty damned provoked.”
The smile came slowly. Teasing Stack was a true pleasure.

Tough Love promo

Tough Love is part of the Ultimate series.

The full series includes the following stories:
– Hard Knocks (Ultimate #0.5)
– No Limits (Ultimate #1)
– Holding Strong (Ultimate #2)
– Tough Love (Ultimate #3)
– Fighting Dirty (Ultimate #4)

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Don’t miss the earlier books in the Ultimate Series!
Hard Knocks (Ultimate #0.5)
No Limits (Ultimate #1)
Holding Strong (Ultimate #2)

Lori - Dec 2014About the Author:
Since first publishing in January 1996, Lori Foster has become a USA Today, Publisher’s Weekly and New York Times bestselling author. Lori has published through a variety of houses, including Kensington, St. Martin’s, Harlequin, Silhouette, Samhain, and Berkley/Jove. She is currently published with HQN.

Lori hosts a very special annual “Reader & Author” event in West Chester, Ohio. Proceeds from the event have benefited many worthy causes, including the Hamilton County YWCA Battered Women’s Shelter, the Animal Adoption Foundation, The Conductive Learning Center for children with spina bifida and cerebral palsy, and The One Way Farm, Children’s Home.

Each year Lori donates all proceeds from one book to charity. You can see the benefit romance books here: http://lorifoster.com/benefit-books/

Links:

And there’s a tour wide giveaway! Enter the rafflecopter below for a chance to win:
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