Review: Back Check (Aces Hockey #4) by Kelly Jamieson

Title: Back Check
Author: Kelly Jamieson
Series: Aces Hockey #4
Rating: 4.5 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance/ Sports Romance
Links:

Blurb:
The so-bad-they’re-good alphas of hockey’s Chicago Aces are back in this emotionally charged novel of sex, love, and second chances from the bestselling author of Top Shelf and the Heller Brothers series.

Tanner Bennet hates weddings. They just remind him that he simply isn’t cut out for any kind of healthy, committed relationship—never has been, never will be. After getting rejected by the girl he thought was “the one” all those years ago, he made a huge mistake and married the wrong person. Now that the divorced heartbreaker has reluctantly agreed to be a groomsman for one of his NHL teammates, the last thing he expects is a chance at redemption with the one that got away.

After Marc Dupuis of the Chicago Aces hires wedding planner Katelyn Medford, she discovers that her big break comes with a twist: a reunion with her college sweetheart. The way she dumped Tanner still haunts her. Eight years—and three broken engagements—later, Katelyn knows she’ll never have that kind of innocent, wide-eyed passion again. Still, she and Tanner soon generate enough body heat to burn up the sheets. And even with Tanner’s career with the Aces up in the air, Katelyn’s wondering whether the time is right to let him in for real.

My Review:
Actual 4.5 stars.

I love a good sports romance and Back Check by Kelly Jamieson ticked all my boxes. This is a riveting second chances love story that packs plenty of emotional punch. Loved Tanner and Katelynn’s romance and it had me hooked from the first page until the last.

Tanner has pretty much given up on women after his disastrous marriage (and subsequent divorce) to a gold digger. Katelynn had been his college sweetheart and he thought she was the one but when he got signed for a New York team she refused to move with him and he forced himself to leave her in the past.

Katelynn has been engaged three times but always calls it off because she doesn’t love the guy enough. Tanner broke her heart in college when he left for NY. They had a heated row and he left and they never spoke again and she feels like he just ran away without facing up to the situation they were in, without giving her a real explanation.

Fate intervenes and they find themselves reconnecting when Lovey hires Katelynn as her replacement wedding planner. Very quickly our couple realize that they never got over one another and they rekindle their romance.

I loved this story! Loved how it didn’t take too long for them to get it on because the sizzling hot chemistry and soul-deep connection they shared continued to burn bright. How could any couple ignore that for long? Of course, the path of true love never runs smoothly, and Tanner lets her down again before recovering in spectacular fashion. That video, with his teammates cutting in, had me in stitches. It was beautiful and heartfelt and it gave me all the feels.

I really enjoy the worldbuilding in this series and love how we got to meet up with some of the other couples. I have only read Sidney and Jarod’s story (which I didn’t enjoy as much as this one) but I’m intrigued to read the earlier stories.

The balance between the hockey and romance was perfect, the banter was humorous and emotional, and the romance scenes were perfectly written. Tanner was swoony worthy in the extreme and I loved Katelynn’s independent career-woman streak. As an aside, Tanner’s dad was a total ass.

I loved that epilogue even if it was a little cheesy, but I love seeing our couples get their HEA.

Overall, this was a fantastic addition to the Aces Hockey series and one I would recommend if you enjoy well-written sports romance.
Thanks to the publisher for providing an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Review: Fighting Dirty (Ultimate #4) by Lori Foster

Fighting DirtyTitle: Fighting Dirty
Author: Lori Foster
Series: Ultimate #4
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: Sports Romance/ Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
He’s the hottest MMA fighter in the game, but one woman is ready to try out a few steamy moves of her own in an unforgettable new novel from New York Times bestselling author Lori Foster…

With the life he’s led and the muscles he’s gained, Armie Jacobson isn’t afraid of anything. Except maybe Merissa Colter’s effect on him. It’s not just that she’s his best friend’s little sister. Fact is, she deserves better. Women pursue him for one night of pleasure, and that’s all he wants to offer. Until rescuing Merissa from a robbery leads to the most erotic encounter of his life.

Good girl meets bad boy. It’s a story that rarely ends well. But Merissa is taking matters into her own hands. No matter how he views himself, the Armie she knows is brave, honorable and completely loyal. And as past demons and present-day danger collide, they’re both about to learn what’s truly worth fighting for…

My Review:
Another great addition to this superb series and a hugely entertaining read from the very talented Lori Foster.

I’ve been dying to read this book as Armie has been my absolute fav man throughout the entire series (closely followed by the Saintly Cannon.) I’m pleased to say that Fighting Dirty lived up to my expectations, and it was a captivating sweet ‘n’ steamy read.

Armie has been running from his past but finally it catches up to him. In the right place in his life, he feels ready to tackle it head-on, backed by the SBC, his coach and manager, and his best friend Cannon. Life is suddenly looking up for Armie but he is still keeping Merissa (Rissy) at arms-length, believing he isn’t good enough for her, and concerned about dragging her into the drama.

Rissy has been in love with Armie since she was a teenager but he is constantly pushing her away. Until an issue in her workplace brings them together in the most unexpected way.

I loved this couple, and they are easily one of my fav couples from the series. Armie is a dirty, dirty boy but I loved how sweet he was with Rissy, because he knows she isn’t into that scene. He was so protective of her and it made my heart swoon. That’s actually one of the things I love best about this series. All the guys are alpha males but totally soft to the core when it comes to their women. They would all die to protect their wives and girlfriends, and they look out for each other. None of them ever belittle or demean their partners, and they understand they are strong, intelligent women, but that won’t stop them jumping in to protect them when necessary. Modern-day chivalry is alive and well, and I loved it in this book. It’s not just Armie, but Leese and Cannon too. Merissa is a lucky girl.

There was a strong sub-plot running alongside the romance, which is typical of the books in this series, and I loved the element of mystery and suspense tied to Rissy’s ex Steve, and Armie’s pathetic excuse of a father. All elements were successfully interwoven throughout the story and the writing and pacing are spot-on, as I’ve come to expect from this author.

I adore this world that Lori has created and I’m thrilled she is writing a spin-off series, especially because book 1 is about Leese, who is another of my favorites. I want to see him get his HEA.

In summary, I really enjoyed Fighting Dirty and it’s a great ending to this series. If you enjoy well-written romantic suspense then you should definitely check out this amazing series.

Thanks to the publisher for providing an ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

Review: Coming in from the Cold (Gravity #1) by Sarina Bowen

Coming in from the ColdTitle: Coming in from the Cold
Author: Sarina Bowen
Series: Gravity #1
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance/ Sport Romance
Links:

Blurb:
He can’t have her. And he can’t tell anyone why.

Ski racer Dane “Danger” Hollister does not do relationships, though he keeps his reason a secret. The real-life curse he’s inherited from his mother will eventually cost him everything: his place on the Olympic ski team, his endorsement income, and his ability to fly downhill at top speed.

Reluctant country girl Willow Reade meets Dane by accident. Literally. Her skidding truck forces him off the road during a blizzard. Stranded together in his Jeep as night falls, the two loneliest people in Vermont find themselves sharing more than they’d planned. And not just conversation.

Yet neither can guess how their unlikely tryst will threaten Dane’s frightening secret and Willow’s tentative peace with her own choices. Only mutual trust and understanding can end their pain and give them a hard won shot at love.

My Review:
I picked up a copy of this book as part of a Bookbub promotion and it sounded like exactly what I was in the mood for. I planned on reading a few chapters last night but ending up staying up half the night reading it. It was just too good to put down. I adored it, totally loved it, and there is absolutely nothing I can fault about it.

It has to be said – Willow has lousy taste in men. First she ups sticks with her boyfriend to the middle of nowhere to set up a chicken farm and then he runs off with a younger model leaving her stuck with a load of debt and with no way out. Stranded in a snowstorm, she almost runs Dane off the road and a chance encounter turns into a life-changing event.

Dane has been hiding a big secret his whole life and he doesn’t let anyone get close to him. He can’t afford for that to happen. Then Willow comes into his life and she is like the embodiment of all he longs for but can never have. Though it kills him to walk away from her, he feels like he has no choice.

Circumstances thrust them together again but because of his big secret (a devastating medical condition that runs in his family and has already claimed the lives of his mother and brother at an early age) he continually pushes Willow away in a very hurtful manner.

This book deals with some heavy subject matter in a very realistic, sympathetic way. There was no sugar coating. Dane’s emotions dripped off the page and it was hard not to feel for him, even though he was a total jerkface to Willow for half the book. I really feel like Sarina got deep under the skin of her characters and I was so invested in both of the mains.

Willow is the nicest human being on the planet! Though she isn’t a pushover. She is compassionate with a big heart and lots of love to give. She is patient and kind with Dane even though he doesn’t deserve it half the time.

The romance was hot and steamy, just how I like it.

Callie is also a great BFF and she was well-developed for a side character. Book 2 is her story and I look forward to reading it soon.

The writing is fantastic and the book flowed fluidly the entire time. I was engrossed in every single page.

In summary, this was a fantastic read that dealt sympathetically and realistically with some heavy subject matter. The romance was steamy and angsty and thoroughly addictive. Highly Recommended.

Review: The Score (Off-Campus #3) by Elle Kennedy

The ScoreTitle: The Score
Author: Elle Kennedy
Series: Off-Campus #3
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance/ Sport Romance
Links:

Blurb:
He knows how to score, on and off the ice

Allie Hayes is in crisis mode. With graduation looming, she still doesn’t have the first clue about what she’s going to do after college. To make matters worse, she’s nursing a broken heart thanks to the end of her longtime relationship. Wild rebound sex is definitely not the solution to her problems, but gorgeous hockey star Dean Di-Laurentis is impossible to resist. Just once, though, because even if her future is uncertain, it sure as heck won’t include the king of one-night stands.

It’ll take more than flashy moves to win her over

Dean always gets what he wants. Girls, grades, girls, recognition, girls…he’s a ladies man, all right, and he’s yet to meet a woman who’s immune to his charms. Until Allie. For one night, the feisty blonde rocked his entire world—and now she wants to be friends? Nope. It’s not over until he says it’s over. Dean is in full-on pursuit, but when life-rocking changes strike, he starts to wonder if maybe it’s time to stop focusing on scoring…and shoot for love.

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My Review:
The Score is another spectacular smoking-hot page turner from the NA Queen. Elle Kennedy OWNS this genre and the Off Campus series is the best NA series out there at the moment, in my opinion.

I ADORED the first two books, and I fell in love with Garrett and Logan, and I really didn’t think it was possible to fall for Dean given what I’d already learned about him, but boy was I wrong. I think Dean may just be my favorite male lead so far. What’s not to love? He’s SEXY, SMART, SUPER WITTY, SUPPORTIVE, SUPER HOT and SERIOUS about honesty. And no, I will not apologize for all the shouty-capitals because this book has earned them. Elle writes amazing male characters, and the voice is always spot on.

I loved catching up with the other characters, and there are plenty of hints of new couples for future books. I know that Tuck’s book is next, and I’m not sure what’s planned thereafter, but please, please, Elle, don’t stop writing this series because I am enchanted with this fantastic world you’ve created, and I’ve become totally immersed in your wonderful character’s lives.

Elle is a phenomenal writer and she creates complex characters and worlds, but the absolute best thing about her writing, for me, is the hysterically funny dialogue. When I say I laughed non-stop while reading this I am not exaggerating in the slightest. And I’m not talking little chuckles. I mean hearty, deep-bellied, unattractive snorting type of laughter. I swear my husband was on the verge of divorcing me last night because I literally laughed continuously for a solid half hour. I gave up highlighting after a while because it was getting ridiculous. I loved all the Twilight and Hunger Games references in this book. “Are you volunteering as sexual tribute?” Allie asks Dean at one stage and I nearly choked on my laughter. Man, this book is seriously funny.

There are two major reveals in this book. The first one hit me out of nowhere and I did not see it coming. My heart broke for poor Dean, and he was so upset and vulnerable. And poor Allie. She wanted to help him but didn’t know how to, though she was a trooper all the same. I did predict the reveal at the very end, and it had been obvious to me who he was sneaking off to meet at weekends. When he approached and said I have something to tell you I guessed immediately what he was going to say, so that reveal wasn’t a surprise in my case. I’m still intrigued to see where the plot is going and I’m already drooling at the prospect of reading Tucker’s story.

In summary, this is another solid 5+star read. If you haven’t started this series yet you need your head examined, and I say that in the nicest possible way. Now is a great time to get stuck in as I believe the first two books are discounted presently. I couldn’t recommend this series or this author more highly. ABSOLUTELY AMAZING.

This review will be posted to my blog in due course: http://myyanabookobsession.com
Thanks to the author and publicist for providing an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Some Fav Quotes (from the ARC I read):

“This guy has the attention span of a fruit fly, and the affection-giving habits of a puppy, offering his sexual devotion to whoever happens to be holding the treat. By which I mean the vagina.”

“Okay, so you know how Bella’s blood is extra special? Like how it gives Edward a raging boner every time he’s around her? Do you think it happens in real life? Pheromones and all that crap. Is it a bullshit theory some horndog dreamed up so he could justify why he’s attracted to his mother or some shit? Or is there actually a biological reason why we’re drawn to certain people? Like goddamn Twilight.”

“Allie.” I draw a steady breath. “We need to stop now. Before my balls disappear altogether and my man-card is revoked.”

what I want

Review: The Year We Fell Down (The Ivy Years #1) by Sarina Bowen

the year we fell downTitle: The Year We Fell Down
Author: Sarina Bowen
Series: The Ivy Years #1
Rating: 4.5 stars
Genres: contemporary sports romance
Links:

Blurb:
he sport she loves is out of reach. The boy she loves has someone else.

What now?

She expected to start Harkness College as a varsity ice hockey player. But a serious accident means that Corey Callahan will start school in a wheelchair instead.

Across the hall, in the other handicapped-accessible dorm room, lives the too-delicious-to-be real Adam Hartley, another would-be hockey star with his leg broken in two places. He’s way out of Corey’s league.

Also, he’s taken.

Nevertheless, an unlikely alliance blooms between Corey and Hartley in the “gimp ghetto” of McHerrin Hall. Over tequila, perilously balanced dining hall trays, and video games, the two cope with disappointments that nobody else understands.

They’re just friends, of course, until one night when things fall apart. Or fall together. All Corey knows is that she’s falling. Hard.

But will Hartley set aside his trophy girl to love someone as broken as Corey? If he won’t, she will need to find the courage to make a life for herself at Harkness — one which does not revolve around the sport she can no longer play, or the brown-eyed boy who’s afraid to love her back.

My Review:
I’ve had this on my Kindle for months but I only picked it up after I read another book by this author (Coming in from the Cold) and I loved her writing style so much that I couldn’t wait to get stuck into another one of her stories.

Corey is an amazingly strong MC. She’s been through the wringer and back but she doesn’t let it beat her down. Determined to forge a new path in life, she enrolls at Harkness and meets Adam Hartley on the first day. Adam is hot but he has a really really really (yes it deserved three reallys) annoying cow of a girlfriend. The only bright spark was the fact that she was going on a sabbatical to Paris for a semester so we didn’t have to put up with her too much. Yay.

Corey and Hartley hit it off and become firm friends, though her lingering crush is developing into something much deeper. They bond over their disabilities (hers permanent, his temp) and their love of hockey.

There are some great side characters in this novel too – Dana, Bridger, Daniel in particular.

The plot wasn’t overly original and there weren’t any major shockers – I was pretty much expecting the reveleations that come out in the second half of the book. I knew there was some reason why Hartley was putting up with that idiot Sasia, and there were enough hints on the family drama to give it away. The beauty is in the exemplary execution of the story and the flowing, fluid writing style.

I really connected emotionally with both mains and I felt Corey’s pain and heartache and Hartley’s fear of rejection.

Hartley lost some bonus points from me after Sasia returned from her Paris trip. He knew she was screwing around with some other dude but was prepared to overlook that? ( I know they had a ‘deal’ but still) Also, he just spent the night with Corey and then allows Sasia to kiss the face off him in front of her? So not cool. I was hopping mad with him, but he redeemed himself in spectacular fashion so I forgave him.

The disability storyline was sensitively handled and Corey had a very pragmatic approach to her limitations. I’m not sure how realistic that was though, but I can’t comment as I don’t have a disability or know anyone that does. I would have expected it to take her longer to come to terms with her changed circumstances and at least experience some prejudice, but neither was the case here. I thought for sure that Sasia would throw that at her when Hartley dumped her, but that didn’t materialize.

All in all though this was a fanstastic read. If the two books I’ve just read by Ms. Bowen are any indication, she is fast becoming a new favorite author. I love character driven books that aren’t afraid to tackle sensitive moral or emotional topics and ones that delve deep into the psyche of the characters. Ms. Bowen has shown clear talent for snuggling deep under her characters skin and we gain well developed, complex characters as a result. I will definitely be checking out more of her work.

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)

Lori-Foster-Covers_415

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:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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