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review 2017-06-15 17:20
Emphatic by Kaylee Ryan
Emphatic - Kaylee Ryan,Jillian Macie,Nelson Hobbs

3 1/2 Stars

Emphatic is a sweet romance about a rock star and a beautiful girl next door type who fall madly deeply, emphatically in love but don’t truly get together until the book is almost finished. Their romance starts out hot and heavy but then turns into one of the slowest of slow burns I think I’ve ever read in this genre.



Logan has just graduated college and has wisely dumped her cheating loser of a boyfriend and is ready to start a new life and a brand new job. But first she heads to Hawaii with her best friend to celebrate and maybe have a well-deserved fling. There she meets a gorgeous hunk of friendly tatted up man who calls himself Michael (but is really named Kacen). A hot and heavy sexy time ensues. She leaves sated and ready to begin life as an adult but you’ll never, ever in a zillion years guess who her new boss turns out to be . . . Yep, that dusty old-school romance trope is shined up and put to use here. Things like this make me feel like I’ve read entirely too many books. If you can’t guess, you probably haven’t read enough romances yet so get going on that!

What follows is a very sweetly developed romance between Logan and the rock star who loves her to pieces from the first moment he meets her. Even though he can have anyone he chooses he thinks she is the most beautiful girl in the world and loves that she isn’t after him for the fame. He falls hard and fast and he never sways. She, however, has been emotionally wounded by her ex and fears the pain of getting entangled with anyone, never mind a gorgeous rock star so he must wait ‘til she comes around.



Do you think there is such a thing as a hero who is too emphatically in love? I didn’t think so until I read about this guy. He lavishes Logan with sweet (and often sappy) words, stolen butterfly kisses and he always seems to be hovering around with his undying devotion. Some girls love this kind of thing but I’m not that kind of girl and to me it was almost smothering. Maybe I’m just too old to appreciate that kind of touchy feely kind of loving especially when it’s one-sided for so long.



Narration Notes: The story is told in first person, alternating between Logan and Kacen’s POV and each have their own narrator. Logan’s narrator has a lovely voice which gets sultry when it needs to. She does justice to the male characters too. Kacen’s narrator has a soft southern accent which, at first, didn’t seem to fit and then I remembered/realized they were in Nashville so I went with it. Honestly though, I preferred the female narrator but I can see why they went with one for each POV because it would’ve been very confusing otherwise.

I liked the writing despite all of my complaints about the story. The author has an easy, down to earth style and though nothing truly exciting happens despite the fact that this book features rock stars (no drugs, no debauchery!), it was never boring – if that makes any sense. The characters were all decent people just falling in love and hanging around. If you want a sweet, slow-burn and like this kind of hero give it a go!

 

I received a copy of this unabridged audiobook from Tantor Media. Thank you Tantor, I hope you don't regret it!

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review 2017-06-05 19:40
No Ifs, Ands, or Bears About It by Celia Kyle
No Ifs, Ands, or Bears About It - Celia Kyle

This book starts out adorably. Mia has just inherited her grampa’s home and is moving in when she discovers a baby bear cub running for cover.  He’s scared and, awww, he’s crying huge, scared-to-death tears. He’s no regular bear either. He’s a shifter cub.  She tries to soothe the baby bear but soon someone comes a-knocking. It’s the baby’s big, bad uncle and the cub is so terrified Mia decides to keep him (and by keeping him, I mean forever, seriously, she wants to keep him forever) and she tries ignore the clamor. Fortunately the police arrive after a nosy neighbor calls and this is how Mia meets Officer Ky.

 

Ky is also a shifter and leader of his clan. He is immediately smitten with a bad case of the insta-love for the curvy lady and tries to keep it professional but has a hard time controlling his urges. He wants her and he knows she wants him because he can smell her creamy desire . . .  They are drawn together and things are going great but then clan politics and baddies instigate to make their lives and new-found love difficult.

 

I don’t know how to say this kindly so I’m just going to be blunt. This book had zero romance development.  It relied almost entirely on the old “you were made for me, I was made for you” trope. Except in this case, it was more of the “my inner bear approves, that means you’re the One!”  If you like that, you’ll love and adore this book. Me? I’m grumpy and I need a pair to work for it. A little side of suffering never hurts either. I’d also like to get to know a bit about them in the process too. None of this happens here. The only thing keeping them apart were the clan wars, the fact that the clan members didn’t welcome Mia because she was too human and the constant coitus interruptus by clan members who kept busting in with some oh-so-important announcement or another. I need more than that for conflict and when I don’t get it this is the kind of review I have to write.

 

Narration Notes: The audio is read by Kendall Taylor. She has a happy, perky voice well suited to Mia and does a capable enough job with the many grumbly bear-men. She was great. In fact, if it weren’t for her narration, I know I would’ve put this down at the 50% mark.

 

I received a copy of this audiobook from Tantor Media. I hope they don’t regret it!

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review 2017-05-31 18:53
Her Name in the Sky by Kelly Quindlen
Her Name in the Sky - Kelly Quindlen

This book started out so slow for me. Maybe it’s because I’m getting old and crotchety but reading about a group of beautiful, popular, well to do, catholic high school students getting reading for parties, ditching classes to get beignets and hanging out and getting drunk was not my idea of a good time. Nah, who am I kidding, it wouldn’t have been a good time no matter my age. I’ve always found this kind of thing boring. Give me messed up people and sticky situations any day. Somewhere along the line, maybe about a third of the way in, feelings started getting complicated and messy and I was finally all in for the angst and I am glad I stuck with it.

 

Hannah and Baker have always been the best of friends but in-between the pep rallies and beignets, Hannah starts to develop feelings for Baker, feelings she doesn’t want and doesn’t know how to deal with. She’s supposed to grow up and marry a boy. She's not supposed to fall in love with a girl.

 

Stuff and sexy times happen and that’s when things get really messy. Neither Hannah nor Baker are ready to admit that they might be falling in love and start doing what is “normal” and expected and begin dating boys but that only makes things oh-so-much harder for all of them. Oh the angst. I loved it.

 

It’s a raw and painful read and there is a lot of God talk (so if that’s not your thing, be warned) and the kids, as kids will do, make terrible choices that cause them so much inner torment. But it’s honest and the characters always felt real. Hannah, especially, feels incredibly genuine as she lashes out at those closest to her because she is in such a state of anguish over her feelings. Feelings she can’t share with anyone out of fear of being looked at differently. She tries in vain to wish it all away but life is never that easy.

 

I’m glad I stuck with the story, despite the draggy beginning, because it turned out to be a beautifully written book.

 

 

Narration Notes: Piper Goodeve has a youthful voice that suited both the female and male characters which is quite a feat. I always knew who was who even though there were many characters in their little circle of friends. If you're into audio, this is a good one!

 

I received an ARC from Tantor Media. Thanks, Tantor!

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review 2017-05-24 19:18
The Boyfriend Makeover by River Jaymes (audio version)
The Boyfriend Makeover - River Jaymes

The Boyfriend Makeover is a sexed up book. If you’re listening on audio you might want to make sure you’re wearing headphones or at least close your car windows otherwise you risk scandalizing yourself to the nosy Parker’s at the stop light. There’s one section that is 30 minutes or so of straight up sexy time. I listened on the drive home from an appointment (with my windows closed and the volume turned waaay down just in case someone thought me a perv), when I got home I put in my headphones, cleaned the kitchen mess everyone had left for me (yes, I know you all want my glamorous life) and played with the dogs ‘til they were huffing and puffing and the couple were still going at it.

But it is about other things too . . .

Noah donates his time to charity events and lives off of a trust fund. He’s a charmer and a smart dresser and gets talked into making over a doctor for the “Bachelor Bid” at his upcoming event. Ky is a workaholic who prefers his cowboy boots, flannel and giant belt buckle to most anything else but he also loves his sisters and agrees to auction himself off after they talk him into it. He thinks the whole thing ridiculous and he’s very uncomfortable but he’s also a very good big brother. Awwww, Ky.

Noah, naturally flamboyant and a shameless flirt can barely contain himself when gorgeous Ky is around. Is he gay? Noah is determined to find out and find out he does . . .

This is a fun book. Noah’s dialogue is ridiculously funny and Ky balances him out. And their chemistry is something else! There’s some angst and some drama as Ky keeps his sexuality to himself for reasons. Reasons that I am not going to spill. Noah drinks too much and his humor masks some deep pain. He has some serious work to do on himself before the two will ever live out a HEA and I like that this book addresses it and doesn’t gloss over it. And then there’s sex. Whew, if you want a steamy read this one’s calling your name!

This is book #3 in a series and I’m sure I would’ve gotten more out of the appearance of the myriad number of friends who pop in and out of the story had I read their stories. It stood alone pretty good though so you’ll get none of my typical mid-series complaints here. Now I want to read the other books just to see what I’m missing.

Narration Notes: I have to say, as much as I loved the story and the characters and all their angst and sexy ways, I wasn’t too crazy about the narrator, Marc Bachmann. He sounded like a newscaster when not doing a character voice and something about his voice just didn’t seem to fit any of the characters. He’s professional and polished but maybe a wee bit too dramatic for this story, eh I don’t know. Instead of falling into the story his voice kept pulling me out.

I received a copy of this book directly from Tantor. Thanks Tantor!

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review 2017-05-10 19:35
Rescuing Finley by Dan Walsh (audio)
Rescuing Finley (A Forever Home Novel Book 1) - Dan Walsh

Rescuing Finley is a beautiful story about healing, second chances and the unconditional love of dogs. The best part for me was that Finley the dog was given his own point of view and he had a lot of thoughts that made me teary. I wish more writers would do that. I’d rather see the world from the dogs POV than through the eyes of some obnoxious human character.

Finley is a sweet but rowdy young golden retriever mix whose owner joins the military and leaves Finley with his mom who is not a dog person. Sad things happen and Finley ends up in a shelter, confused and depressed. His anguish is soooo hard to read but the author doesn’t linger there for long. Finley is chosen to join a prison program where female inmates train homeless dogs to become companions for soldiers with PTSD. He is paired with Amy, a young lady who messed up her life with a meth habit and poor choices. They both thrive in this program but will Amy be able to part with Finley when it’s graduation day?

The book is written pretty simply and cleanly (I later discovered Dan Walsh is a Christian author). There’s no fancy prose, humorous dialogue or action sequences that’ll make you hold onto your undies or whatnot but it worked for me. Sometimes simple is just right. When I say simple I don’t mean boring. If it were boring I’d tell you. But if you are not interested in dogs, dog training or the healing powers of love and dogs, this one might not be for you. There’s a lot of dog time here, probably why I loved it so much, as well as time spent going over training protocols, the prison dog training program and humane society intake rules, etc. Here and there I found the author repeating himself. This might’ve been more apparent to me because I was listening on audio and listening with my full attention for once!

Somehow this book manages to tackle difficult situations but it never gets too dark. There is a deep dive into the life of a soldier once he’s returned home from war and seen atrocities that follow and haunt but instead of dwelling in that dark space, this story is about how one man pulls himself out of it and decides to live his life again. The end wraps everything up in a nifty little bow which might’ve just gone a wee bit over the edge for me but you may or may not think so depending on your outlook on life.



Anyway, it’s a lovely read and the narration by Hillary Huber is excellent and very professionally done. She hits all the right notes with her performance and I have no complaints there.

*I received this book from Tantor Media. I hope they don’t regret it!

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