Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Aloha Baby! by Ann Omasta

From Goodreads:
Being pregnant and alone is not a situation Leilani Kehele thought she would ever be facing. Nevertheless, that is exactly how she finds herself in Aloha, Baby! Feeling like a disappointment to her family, Lani turns to her two handsome and loyal best friends, Kai and Honi, for advice. In an attempt to arrange the best possible outcome for this challenging scenario, the three hatch a plan to give Lani's baby a father. Will it work? Will Lani and her baby be able to find their happily ever after ending? Escape into the enchanting Hawaiian islands with Leilani, Kai, and Honi by reading this heartwarming tale of friendship, love, and triumph after heartbreak.

My Take:
I'm not going to rate this one because of certain things. One, I know how much time, effort, and self an author puts into a book (at least I hope everyone spends as much time as I do). Second, this is written in present tense which is one of my pet peeves. It just doesn't work for me.

Okay, the story itself has potential. However, I never felt connected to the characters and I felt like this was someone's outline draft for a book. It was all telling, no show (this could be a result of the point of view and tense). I wanted to like the characters and I wanted to feel something. Even though I finished it, I was left feeling disappointed.

There was a sex scene I skipped.

If I were to rate, I'd give a 3 on my scale with a PG-13 to R movie rating for the one scene. 

1-5 scale and what it means:
1: I couldn’t even finish it / just plain bad
2: I hope I didn’t pay for this / disappointing
3: I didn’t hate it, but it was still missing something / forgettable but inoffensive
3.5: On the line between good and ok / like, not love
4: Solid mind candy / worth reading
4.5: So very close to perfection! / must read
5: I could not put it down and I’m still thinking about it! / a true treasure

Movie Ratings in relation to my review:
Clean--Hallmark movies, some kissing, no nudity, no sex on or off "screen"
PG--Some innuendo but nothing kids don't hear every day, sex is all closed door
PG-13--some language (swear words not related to sex), more talk about sex, heavy petting, removal of clothing on screen, but sex is closed door.
 R--swearing (can be related to sex), feels like the whole story is about the sex and not the relationship or some other plot

The Disenchanted One by Cami Checketts

From Goodreads: Marissa Yates fell in love with Byron Judd three years ago, but she caught him holding another woman and she ran. She’s built a great life for herself and has kept Byron at arm’s length, only talking to him through phone, email, or text. She knows if she sees him again, he’ll charm his way right back into her heart.

Byron has no clue why Marissa ran from his life, but he does know his only chance to win her back is his brother’s wedding. His brother’s fiancĂ©e, Summer, schemes up a Lonely Billionaire Pact to help him be reunited with the only woman who has ever broken up with him in this companion story to the bestselling Billionaire Bride Pact Romances.

My Take: It's no secret that I'm a Cami Checketts fan. This story was just as well written and cute as the others, but I felt a little cheated that it was so short. Maybe I missed something somewhere? Maybe this is a sequel to another story where we see more of Marissa and Byron's bumpy road to happily ever after?

It felt a little fast--she's angry at him and hurt that he'll never be a keeper, then they are locked in a kiss, then she's mad, then he's there again and it's over. That's probably just because the book is so short. Seriously, everything happens in one day. But, as I said, it's trademark good writing from Checketts with emotions that make sense and have a real life reasoning behind them. It's just on rocket boosters. :)

I give it a 4, and is a clean read.

1-5 scale and what it means:
1: I couldn’t even finish it / just plain bad
2: I hope I didn’t pay for this / disappointing
3: I didn’t hate it, but it was still missing something / forgettable but inoffensive
3.5: On the line between good and ok / like, not love
4: Solid mind candy / worth reading
4.5: So very close to perfection! / must read
5: I could not put it down and I’m still thinking about it! / a true treasure

Movie Ratings in relation to my review:
Clean--Hallmark movies, some kissing, no nudity, no sex on or off "screen"
PG--Some innuendo but nothing kids don't hear every day, sex is all closed door
PG-13--some language (swear words not related to sex), more talk about sex, heavy petting, removal of clothing on screen, but sex is closed door.
R--swearing (can be related to sex), feels like the whole story is about the sex and not the relationship or some other plot

Monday, January 23, 2017

Pastels and Jingle Bells by Christine S Feldman

From Goodreads
Trish Ackerly never expected to cross paths with Ian Rafferty again, but when she spots the former bully of her childhood years through her bakery window, she thinks she may just have been given the best Christmas gift ever: the opportunity to finally give Ian the comeuppance he deserves.

But clearly she does not have a knack for this whole revenge thing, because before she can make good on her plans, Trish gets inadvertently drawn into Ian’s life in an unexpected way that lets her see just how different the man is from the boy he used to be. In fact, much to her astonishment, she actually starts to like the guy. A lot.

Trouble is, Ian doesn’t know who she really is, and explaining it to him is going to be a little difficult now—which is bad news, because Trish is starting to realize that all she really wants for Christmas this year… is Ian.

My Take:
I was sad when this story ended. Part of me wishes the author had stretched it out to a full length novel, but then again, maybe I liked it because it was so short. Who knows!

Anyway, I really enjoyed the idea of a woman who was teased/bullied in school running into that guy later in life. Her plan to tell him off was entertaining, but what I really liked was the theme that came through loud and clear without being beat over the head with it. People change, and you never know what they are going through unless you give them a chance. Trish finds that her tormenter's life wasn't all roses when he was young. Plus, he had liked her but didn't know what to do with those emotions. Trish thought she'd never get the chance to stand up to Ian Rafferty after disappeared rather abruptly from her life. I love the irony of the fact Ian's daughter is being bullied and Trish steps in to help.

Everything about this story was cute and fun. And clean to boot! This gets a 4 Clean rating.

1-5 scale and what it means:
1: I couldn’t even finish it / just plain bad
2: I hope I didn’t pay for this / disappointing
3: I didn’t hate it, but it was still missing something / forgettable but inoffensive
3.5: On the line between good and ok / like, not love
4: Solid mind candy / worth reading
4.5: So very close to perfection! / must read
5: I could not put it down and I’m still thinking about it! / a true treasure

Movie Ratings in relation to my review:
Clean--Hallmark movies, some kissing, no nudity, no sex on or off "screen"
PG--Some innuendo but nothing kids don't hear every day, sex is all closed door
PG-13--some language (swear words not related to sex), more talk about sex, heavy petting, removal of clothing on screen, but sex is closed door.
R--swearing (can be related to sex), feels like the whole story is about the sex and not the relationship or some other plot

Saturday, January 21, 2017

One To Keep by Ev Bishop

Ha! I love a romance that's filled with humor. We start off with Sophie and Jesse in the same bar sitting alone and toasting themselves for deciding to be single forever. They've both had too much too drink, and even though neither of them are casual one night stand kind of people they try. And they both chicken out. I really liked that.

They spend the next few days getting to know each other, riding quite the roller coaster of attraction and irritation with each other. There's a lot of baggage for them to work through, but I felt the story line flowed smoothly and believably.

You'll find Sophie refreshingly honest, even when she's confused about her own emotions. Jesse is alternately sweet and frustratingly "man" when he's trying to figure out his own deal.

The only character that confused me in this story was Stella. She started off nice and then had a night of total witchery if you know what I mean. It was the classic "I like him so I'm going to sabotage you" routine and it was so obvious I don't think Sophie should have fallen for it.

Anyway, I'd give this a movie rating between PG-13. They don't, but there's foreplay that's more than PG. The story itself gets a solid 4 from me.

1-5 scale and what it means:
1: I couldn’t even finish it / just plain bad
2: I hope I didn’t pay for this / disappointing
3: I didn’t hate it, but it was still missing something / forgettable but inoffensive
3.5: On the line between good and ok / like, not love
4: Solid mind candy / worth reading
4.5: So very close to perfection! / must read
5: I could not put it down and I’m still thinking about it! / a true treasure

Movie Ratings in relation to my review:
Clean--Hallmark movies, some kissing, no nudity, no sex on or off "screen"
PG--Some innuendo but nothing kids don't hear every day, sex is all closed door
PG-13--some language (swear words not related to sex), more talk about sex, heavy petting, removal of clothing on screen, but sex is closed door.
 R--swearing (can be related to sex), feels like the whole story is about the sex and not the relationship or some other plot

Friday, January 20, 2017

Batter Up by Roybn Neeley

I've downloaded a ton of new books for this year and have been hoping some would be review worthy. Since not all of them would technically fall into the Clean category, I've added a PG and up rating to some of these. Hopefully, that will help you gauge whether or not you want to give the book a chance.

From Goodreads:

She mixes more than flour and sugar into her cake batter, and he’s about to find out if a little bit of magic is to his taste...

Bakeshop owner Emma Stevens has a secret — a delicious, slightly unorthodox secret. Each Monday, she mixes up a premonition to share with the bachelors of Buttermilk Falls, and sets one lucky man on the path to true love.

When reporter Jason Levine finds himself mixed up in a Las Vegas bachelorette party, he hears the strangest rumour: the marriage is happening thanks to magic cake batter. Seriously sceptical, and sick of frauds, Jason journeys to the backwater town of Buttermilk Falls to expose the baker and release the townspeople from her evil clutches.

But when Jason meets Emma, tempers flare and sparks fly. Will Jason cling to his logic at the expense of a future, or will he let himself fall under Emma’s spell?

My Take: This was a fun read with a little magical baking thrown in. The fantasy element gave a nice little twist and made for some good laughs. Emma's been hosting Batter Up night for a couple years now, continuing her grandmother's tradition of nudging bachelors toward their true love with a little magic cake batter. Too bad the magic only gives the names of men's sweethearts and not women. Emma's cousin Abby keeps trying though, and she pulls a "J" out of the batter for Emma. 

Jason is a journalists who's spent too much time on the down and dirty crime beat of Miami. A detour to Buttermilk Falls to expose a con-artist in a bakeshop sounds like a great diversion. Little does he know how this trip will change his life and his heart.

I really enjoyed the chemistry and the snarkiness between these two as they fought it out and gave in to their attraction. Rating--PG-13. All sex is closed door, but there is quite a bit of talk about it. This is a mash-up of several other popular romance tropes--bakery, journalist out to uncover something just to be converted to the cause, intense rivalry between two girls, an auction for bachelors,

I give this one a 4.5 because it was so fun to read.

1-5 scale and what it means:
1: I couldn’t even finish it / just plain bad
2: I hope I didn’t pay for this / disappointing
3: I didn’t hate it, but it was still missing something / forgettable but inoffensive
3.5: On the line between good and ok / like, not love
4: Solid mind candy / worth reading
4.5: So very close to perfection! / must read
5: I could not put it down and I’m still thinking about it! / a true treasure

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Cupcakes and Cowboys by Lindzee Armstrong

From Goodreads:
Cassidy wants two things-to make her cupcake shop a success, and to forget the ex-fiance who traded her for the lights of Hollywood. She can't stand actors, movies, or anything resembling the guy who ruined her life. So when Jase-best friend of her ex and A-list actor-shows up at the ranch to research an upcoming role, ignoring her past becomes impossible.

Jase is desperate to escape Hollywood, and ranch life gives him a temporary reprieve. But ranching is starting to feel less like preparing for a role and more like the life he's always wanted. And he can't help envisioning Cassidy as his co-star. Can Jase convince this stunning cupcake shop owner that he's really a country boy at heart?

My Take:
This was a fun fast read. I liked Cassidy from the very beginning and felt her pain and shock at having Jase show up at her home. I felt like the initial misunderstanding made sense, and I was glad that once Jase understood why Cassidy was hostile to him he took the steps to remedy it by talking to her. So many times, romances create conflict simply by having the characters NOT talk to each other. Thank you Lindzee for not following the crowd in that respect!

The story flows nicely, although it could have easily been made longer by showing more of their "dating" moments instead of speeding us through the month. The only other thing on my wish list for this story came near the end. When Drew showed up and opened his mouth, I really needed Jase to deck him really good.

I give this lovely short a solid 4.

1-5 scale and what it means:
1: I couldn’t even finish it / just plain bad
2: I hope I didn’t pay for this / disappointing
3: I didn’t hate it, but it was still missing something / forgettable but inoffensive
3.5: On the line between good and ok / like, not love
4: Solid mind candy / worth reading
4.5: So very close to perfection! / must read
5: I could not put it down and I’m still thinking about it! / a true treasure

Monday, January 2, 2017

The Billionaire's Heart by Kathleen O'Brien

From Goodreads:
High School art teacher Sophie Smith is usually the most honest of women. But when her dearest friend and mentor asks her to be her stand-in on a two-week vacation at an Amalfi Coast luxury resort, she won’t let her down… even if it means posing as a rich, pampered socialite.

As it turns out, Sophie could get used to this, especially handsome, enigmatic gardener Declan Muldoon who’s strangely more thrilling than any of the billionaires buzzing around. She ends up falling for him—hard.

Then Sophie discovers she’s not the only one pretending. Declan’s gardener gig is temporary. He’s actually the black sheep of a very wealthy, powerful family, a man who appears to be in need of an heiress.

An heiress exactly like Sophie is pretending to be…

*Previously titled The Billionaire's Secret

My Take:
The Amalfi Coast sounds like a dream! I can see how Sophie allows herself to get lost in the beauty of it all. I loved that she bumbles through playing the part of a rich socialite at times, while pulling it off at others. Her discomfort with that life shows though in the fact that she's drawn to the gardener. Oh, sure there's that lovely sexual tension too, but initially I think she finds him safer because he isn't filthy rich. Or so she thinks.

Declan never really chases Sophie for her money as is hinted at in the blurb. And for that fact, I'm grateful. He's really a good guy, and he wants to be with her simply because he enjoys her company. he tries so hard to keep it on a friend basis, but Sophie is a force to be reckoned with.

There is a closed door scene and a lovely ending to it all after a bit of moping heart break.

I give this one a solid 4.5 because I never felt frustrated by any of the plot devices. It was easy to get lost in the story.

1-5 scale and what it means:
1: I couldn’t even finish it / just plain bad
2: I hope I didn’t pay for this / disappointing
3: I didn’t hate it, but it was still missing something / forgettable but inoffensive
3.5: On the line between good and ok / like, not love
4: Solid mind candy / worth reading
4.5: So very close to perfection! / must read
5: I could not put it down and I’m still thinking about it! / a true treasure