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review 2017-07-06 18:15
American Queen by Sierra Simone
American Queen - Sierra Simone,Stephanie Rose

I guess I'm giving this book a 2 1/2.  

This author likes to jam a lot of stuff into her books and into her heroines and this story is no exception. She also likes to set up preposterous plot lines and run with them. I said this about her book Priest but it totally fits here too:

“This story is not based in any sort of reality. If you know that going in you’ll likely be okay. But I make no guarantees.”

Unfortunately, for me at least, I had a hard time doing that. I simply could not suspend my disbelief enough to get past the fact that this book is about a 3-way relationship featuring the President of the United States. Yessirree, you read that right. And, as if that weren’t weird and disturbing enough, one of the members of this lusty triangle just so happens to be the Vice President. I kid you not. Seriously, though, any other position of power would’ve worked better for me at this point in time than those two. Granted this book was written before an over-stuffed, pumpkin head took over the US but it is very unfortunate that every time someone says Mr. President or Mr. Vice President in this story that I can only picture the current two running our country.



Ok, say you can throw reality out the window better than I, what you’ll find here is a story about three people who lustlove each other but for many reasons, aren’t open and clear about their feelings which causes no end of angst and punishing kisses and eventually much kinky sex. The third caught up in this mess is Greer. She is the most beautiful girl in the world and that’s all there really is to her. She is submissive, a little naïve, adores edgy sex and is a little bit of a door-mat when it comes to dealing with certain people (her bitchy cousin, especially). She wasn’t my most favorite heroine and I’ll just leave it at that.

I listened to this book as an unabridged audiobook. I may not have finished it otherwise. Narrator Stephanie Rose is great as Greer. There’s a slight sexy innocence to her voice that works well here. She voices the guys decently, if a little robotically here and there but she’s not too bad. I’ve definitely heard much worse! 

Heads up, there is a wee bit of this which a lot of people do not like in their threesomes (I am not one of them).

 


 

(spoiler show)


Also thrown into this convoluted sexy stew for reasons unknown, we have several things that left me shaking my head:

*A man named Merlin who can apparently see the future!
*An otherwise virginal heroine who at 15 starts writing super porny letters to a soldier she kissed once. 
*Greer’s cousin makes a major pass at Greer’s man (one of them, anyway) and it’s all but ignored.
*There is sex with a half-sister (this happens off screen so don’t get too excited!) 
*A past marriage that happens out of the blue and makes no sense at all to me.
*And then there’s the killing blow: We have ourselves a genuine and terribly frustrating cliff-hanger!

People LOVE this book so much that writing this review makes me feel like a crab. But at least my cat loves me.

 

 

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

 

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review 2017-06-28 17:24
Last Night With The Duke by Amelia Grey
Last Night with the Duke (Rakes of St. James) - Amelia Grey,Alison Larkin

A sexy duke needs to hire a chaperone to escort his two younger sisters and keep them safe from the vipers out to ruin them as they make their debut amongst the ton. He fears someone will harm their reputations to pay him back for a prank he played out years earlier. While visiting the local governess/chaperone business, he witnesses a sassy young woman instruct one of her underlings on the proper way to keep a boy in line and decides then and there that Miss Esmeralda Swift is the only woman able to do the job. It doesn’t matter that she’s probably too young, doesn’t particularly want the job and has a few unconventional demands, such as bringing her little sister and their dog along for the duration. He meets all of her demands and offers her a deal so good she cannot refuse. All of this happens after only one conversation simply because she is the most beautiful woman he has ever set his eyes upon . . .

 

 

Esmeralda, her bratty little sister and her rascally dog move into the duke’s home and chaos and kisses ensue. But do you know what doesn’t ensue? The darn revenge plot line that was set up in the first very long scene! That whole “someone is out to get my innocent sisters, whoever must it be?” part of the story never happens. It was just thrown out there to have a reason for these two to meet and that bugged me and a second or two of conflict. Now I’m not a huge fan of mysteries but I’m thinking a little mystery would not have hurt this story because it was a little bit boring. There wasn’t much going on and there was very little actual conflict between the two characters.

 

Esmeralda was born to the snootier class but she’s been forced to become a manager of the governess/chaperone agency because her mother was disowned when she decided to marry a penniless poet. Esmeralda spends a lot of time longing for the life the she should’ve had by birthright and, I’m not going to lie, that got a little tiresome, boo-hooey, poor me after a bit but she also does right by her little sister and that balanced things out for me. Because she is an employee the duke doesn’t want to mess with her, so instead he flirts and teases and leads her on which I found a little mean. They long for each other but don’t take much action until he learns of her fancy family ties. Meh. As I said, there’s not much of a conflict here. There is a lot of time spent talking about wardrobes, chasing after dogs, going to balls and such but there isn’t any deep relationship development happening. Mostly they like each other’s faces and other body parts and it feels like surface attraction and little else and that isn’t why I read these kinds of books. I want angst, drama, true love. But mostly I want to feel something besides vague boredom. That didn’t happen here.

 

Narration Notes: Alison Larkin narrates this lackluster story beautifully. She has a very engaging voice and was the only reason I was able to keep going. If you plan to read this series and you enjoy audios, this one is the way to go!

 

2 ½ stars for the story but I am bumping up this unabridged audio version to a 3 because the narration is lovely and made me tune in to the very end.

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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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