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review 2017-02-17 16:05
Trade Me
Trade Me - Courtney Milan I read this for Romance Book Bingo: Interracial couple square.

I feel really bad about this, but Courtney Milan's foray into New Adult Contemporary is not my jam. I almost DNFed this book a couple of times while reading. The two protagonists were not compelling or believable as a couple. The main plot about two 20 year old college students trading lives for a couple of weeks was all over the place. I think the amount of sub-plots also hindered the overall story too.

Tina Chen is focused on finishing college so she can go off and be a doctor. A daughter of two Chinese immigrants, she is used to have to struggle to pay bills. After getting into it with Blake Reynolds about how hard her life is and he has no idea what it means to be poor, he offers to trade her life for his. Unlike with Trading Spaces though, two powerful and racist white men are not behind this whole thing.

Blake is having a hard time with the fact that his father, Adam Reynolds, wants him to take over their billionaire dollar company Cyclone when he graduates from college. Just think of Cyclone like a younger and hipper Apple. Seriously though, the company and the ins and outs of it were the most boring parts of this whole story.

All you really need to know though is that Blake finds Tina hot. And for no reason at all he tells Tina she has to pretend to be his girlfriend for his father in order for them to make this swap. It is dumb. I just think Milan wanted a scene with Adam Reynolds and Tina not backing down in front of him.

I can usually say what POV I like in a book, but I had issues with both Tina and Blake's first person POV throughout this book. If Tina was "speaking" then Blake seems naive and somehow sexy all the time. Tina is shy and hesitant about saying one word. When Blake is "speaking" he sees Tina as this self assured and sexy woman and is constantly thinking about having sex with her. I really wish that this book had focused on Tina's best friend Maria, since her backstory (she's a transgender woman) who actually wants to be an actuary when she graduates. Maria has dealt with being thrown out of her home by her parents, and being rejected by fellow girls for not really being a girl. I liked Maria's personality and how she calls Tina out on things.

Other characters I was not too bothered with. Tina's mother was overbearing. Her father just seemed to be some wise man who barely spoke. Tina's younger sister seemed quirky. Blake's dad Adam was aggravating. The reveal about what was going on with him maybe made me laugh out loud though. I don't think Milan meant that to be a reaction. I just found this whole book so over the top I just couldn't keep up with it. And honestly didn't want to after a while. I definitely don't see myself continuing this series past this book either.

I disliked some of the writing a lot. It felt juvenile and also way too old for some of the conversations that Tina and Blake have with each other. The flow was off from beginning to end. Switching between Tina and Blake could have worked I think if their respective chapters ended organically. Instead sometimes it felt like they were mid-thought and it switched to one or the other. I maybe also laughed hysterically when they finally gave in to their impulses and started having sex. I swear when I am done with these romance reads I am just reading about mystery novels for a month straight.

The ending sets things up to continue following this couple. There were a couple of crisis's that ultimately don't matter. I honestly had a hard time with how the book ends since I don't think it's realistic at all for these people to just put out there all the things that were going on with the company and somehow the stock increases.
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review 2017-02-10 16:22
Review: The Suffragette Scandal
The Suffragette Scandal - Courtney Milan

I spent the first half of this novel expecting it to be my favorite in the series. Free was already my favorite character, and Edward is a wonderful character. However, based on the last act, I'm falling back to Heiress Effect as my favorite. This is still quite good, fantastic, even, but there's just a bit more angst and less explicit text than really aligns with my interests.

 

And even in that last act there are some just wonderfully satisfying scenes. Gosh this whole book is full of wonderfully satisfying scenes. Has someone already started a Manfeels Park variant of this? Or, heck just make me a graphic novel version of the actual book. More than any other story in this series, this book wants that treatment.

 

A final complaint, I wish Amanda had gotten more screen time, or had gotten her own short story, or both. Yeah, both. Or maybe a spin-off series? *crosses fingers*

 

I only have one short left before I am out of Brother's Sinister. I have no idea what I'm going to do!

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review 2017-02-07 20:14
Review: The Heiress Effect
The Heiress Effect - Courtney Milan

Amazing! I think this is my favorite in the Brothers Sinister series so far. The heroine is brilliant and the hero is just the right kind of jackass. 

 

The writing is so sharp. Equal parts warmth and wit. Great plot, great sex, great characters. This series is fantastic. I desperately want to read the UF/PNR version of these. 

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text 2017-01-20 17:34
Cat's Best Romance Reads of 2016
Moonshadow - Thea Harrison
First Step Forward (The Grand Valley Series Book 1) - Liora Blake
Her Naughty Holiday (Men at Work) - Tiffany Reisz
Beard Science (Winston Brothers Book 3) (Volume 3) - Penny Reid
Bittersweet (True North Book 1) - Sarina Bowen
Dark Deeds (Class 5 Series Book 2) - Michelle Diener
The Wall of Winnipeg and Me - Mariana Zapata
The Bird and the Sword - Amy Harmon
A Promise of Fire - Amanda Bouchet
Fall (Hold Book 3) - Claire Kent

I had a great reading year with so many 5 Star reads.  And I needed it with so much going wrong. Here is a little sweet to ease the sour of this day. 

 

Here are my best Romance Reads of 2016 (published in 2016) in no particular order.. 

 

1. Dark Deeds by Michelle Diener Excellent Science Fiction Romance. 

 

Rescue might just be the death of her.

Far from home . . .
Fiona Russell has been snatched from Earth, imprisoned and used as slave labor, but nothing about her abduction makes sense. When she's rescued by the Grih, she realizes there's a much bigger game in play than she could ever have imagined, and she's right in the middle of it.

Far from safe . . .
Battleship captain Hal Vakeri is chasing down pirates when he stumbles across a woman abducted from Earth. She's the second one the Grih have found in two months, and her presence is potentially explosive in the Grih's ongoing negotiations with their enemies, the Tecran. The Tecran and the Grih are on the cusp of war, and Fiona might just tip the balance.

Far from done . . .
Fiona has had to bide her time while she's been a prisoner, pretending to be less than she is, but when the chance comes for her to forge her own destiny in the new world she's found herself in, she grabs it with both hands. After all, actions speak louder than words.

 

2. The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata Watching them fall in love is the best slow burn. 

 

Vanessa Mazur knows she's doing the right thing. She shouldn't feel bad for quitting. Being an assistant/housekeeper/fairy godmother to the top defensive end in the National Football Organization was always supposed to be temporary. She has plans and none of them include washing extra-large underwear longer than necessary.

But when Aiden Graves shows up at her door wanting her to come back, she's beyond shocked.

For two years, the man known as The Wall of Winnipeg couldn't find it in him to tell her good morning or congratulate her on her birthday. Now? He's asking for the unthinkable.

What do you say to the man who is used to getting everything he wants?

 

3.The Bird and the Sword by Amy Harmon Excellent magic world building. 

 

Swallow, daughter, pull them in, those words that sit upon your lips. Lock them deep inside your soul, hide them ‘til they’ve time to grow. Close your mouth upon the power, curse not, cure not, ‘til the hour. You won’t speak and you won’t tell, you won’t call on heaven or hell. You will learn and you will thrive. Silence, daughter. Stay alive.


The day my mother was killed, she told my father I wouldn’t speak again, and she told him if I died, he would die too. Then she predicted the king would sell his soul and lose his son to the sky.
My father has a claim to the throne, and he is waiting in the shadows for all of my mother’s words to come to pass. He wants desperately to be king, and I just want to be free.


But freedom will require escape, and I’m a prisoner of my mother’s curse and my father’s greed. I can’t speak or make a sound, and I can’t wield a sword or beguile a king. In a land purged of enchantment, love might be the only magic left, and who could ever love . . . a bird?

 

4. A Promise of Fire  by Amanda Bouchet A great adventure romance with magic! 

 

Catalia "Cat" Fisa lives disguised as a soothsayer in a traveling circus. She is perfectly content avoiding the danger and destiny the Gods-and her homicidal mother-have saddled her with. That is, until Griffin, an ambitious warlord from the magic-deprived south, fixes her with his steely gaze and upsets her illusion of safety forever.

 

Griffin knows Cat is the Kingmaker, the woman who divines the truth through lies. He wants her as a powerful weapon for his newly conquered realm-until he realizes he wants her for much more than her magic. Cat fights him at every turn, but Griffin's fairness, loyalty, and smoldering advances make him increasingly hard to resist and leave her wondering if life really does have to be short, and lived alone

 

5. Let It Shine by Alyssa Cole  Perfect. Loved every moment. 5 Stars.

 

Sofronia Wallis knows that proper Black women don’t court trouble by upending the status quo, but it’s 1961 and the Civil Rights movement is in full swing. Sofie’s spent half her life being prim, proper, and reserved—as if that could bring her mother back—but the nonviolent protests happening across the South bring out her inner agitator.

Ivan Friedman has devoted his life to boxing, loving the finesse of a well-delivered punch and the penance of receiving one. His family escaped from Europe before the horrors of WWII, and Ivan decides to help fight injustice in their new country, even if it goes against all his instincts as a fighter.

When Ivan and Sofie meet, they realize that their pasts are intertwined and—with the sparks that fly between them—perhaps their futures will be too. With everything in their society lined up against them, will Sofie and Ivan be able to beat the odds? Or will their chance at love be destroyed by the tumultuous times they live in?

 

6. Bittersweet by Sarina Bowen A great second chance romance.  5 Stars.

 

The last person Griffin Shipley expects to find stuck in a ditch on his Vermont country road is his ex-hookup. Five years ago they’d shared a couple of steamy nights together. But that was a lifetime ago.

At twenty-seven, Griff is now the accidental patriarch of his family farm. Even his enormous shoulders feel the strain of supporting his mother, three siblings and a dotty grandfather. He doesn’t have time for the sorority girl who’s shown up expecting to buy his harvest at half price.

Vermont was never in Audrey Kidder’s travel plans. Neither was Griff Shipley. But she needs a second chance with the restaurant conglomerate employing her. Okay—a fifth chance. And no self-righteous lumbersexual farmer will stand in her way.

They’re adversaries. They want entirely different things from life. Too bad their sexual chemistry is as hot as Audrey’s top secret enchilada sauce, and then some.

 
 

 

7. Beard Science by Penny Reid A delight in every way. I would marry Cletus. No joke but I love Jennifer. 5 Stars!

 

Make a deal with the devil and you might get what you want, but will it be what you need?

Jennifer Sylvester wants one thing, and that one thing is NOT to be Tennessee’s reigning Banana Cake Queen. Ever the perpetual good girl and obedient daughter, Jennifer is buckling under the weight of her social media celebrity, her mother’s ambitions, and her father’s puritanical mandates. Jennifer is officially desperate.

And desperate times call for Cletus Winston.

Cletus Winston is a puzzle wrapped in a mystery covered in conundrum sauce, and now he’s in a pickle. Despite being convinced of his own omniscience, extortion by the exalted Banana Cake Queen of Green Valley has taken him completely by surprise. So... what’s a maniacal mastermind to do?

Likely, the last thing you expect.

 

8. Her Naughty Holiday by Tiffany Reisz The perfect morsel of a book. 5 Stars.

 

Clover Greene would sooner crawl into her oven than host family for Thanksgiving dinner. Yet another annual ritual of too much food, served with a side of criticism over "Clover's Bad Life Choices." This year, she needs to distract them all—with a handsome fake boyfriend. And she has the perfect guy in mind. 

 

Contractor Erick Fields is the poster boy for sexy single dads, and Clover has been secretly crushing on him for ages. She certainly wasn't expecting Erick to agree to her insane charade…or to add lots of hot, wicked sex to the deal. If they can pull it off, the worst Thanksgiving ever might give them something to be really thankful for!

 
 


9. First Step Forward by Liora Blake Opposites Attract doesn't get better than this. 5 Stars. 

 

Pro-football player Cooper Lowry is off the field and into some trouble—in the form of a very alluring, very free-spirited apple orchard owner named Whitney Reed—in the first installment in Liora Blake’s all new Grand Valley series.

After eight seasons playing pro-football, Cooper Lowry knows all the right answers.

Is he stubborn, short-tempered, and impatient? Yes. Are jersey chasers more trouble than they’re worth? Absolutely. Has he ever imagined a life beyond the game? Nope.

Cooper has built an enviable career—the result of staying focused, working hard, and keeping his head on straight—even as his body takes the brunt. So when a hard hit during a Sunday home game leaves him in a dazed heap on the field, it’s nothing more than another day at the office. The only thing that’s different about this Sunday is a chance encounter with a certain fascinating, beautiful free-spirited woman. And some sternly-worded instructions from his coach to take a little time off and give his body the TLC it craves—before he does lasting damage.

Whitney Reed is a few months away from losing the organic fruit orchard she bought three years ago in the tiny town of Hotchkiss, Colorado. At the time, she was just looking for a place to get lost. Instead, she found a home, somewhere she could finally put down roots. Now foreclosure is knocking on her door—along with a grumpy, gorgeous football player who might be just what she never knew she needed.

 

10. Moonshadow by Thea Harrison An amazing heroine! 5 Stars! 

 

Her past is a blank, her future uncertain….

Recovering from a shooting, LAPD witch consultant Sophie Ross leaves her job and travels to the U.K. to search for answers about her childhood. When she encounters a Daoine Sidhe knight of the Dark Court, she becomes entangled in an ancient hatred between two arcane forces.

He has given his body and soul to fight for his people….

Barred from his homeland along with his surviving brother knights, Nikolas Sevigny is embroiled in a conflict that threatens everything he holds dear. Only by uniting his people’s resources can they hope to prevail against Isabeau, the deadly Queen of the Light Court. He will do anything and use anyone to return home to Lyonesse.

When Nikolas encounters Sophie, he sees a tool to be used. The insouciant witch might be the key to unlocking every passageway that has been barred to the knights of the Dark Court, even as a fascination for her takes root in what’s left of his soul.

Sophie has no intention of becoming anyone’s pawn, yet the fierce Nikolas is so compelling, she can’t deny the temptation that endangers her guarded heart.

As magic threatens Lyonesse, Queen Isabeau unleashes her merciless Hounds, and Nikolas and Sophie become embroiled in a race for survival. Meanwhile, the passion that ignites between them burns too hot to be denied and quickly turns into obsession.

Thank goodness they both know better than to fall in love…

 

 

Honorable Mentions! 

 

1. Wait for It by Mariana Zapata

2. Hail Mary by Nicola Rendell

3. Fall by Claire Kent

4. Hold Me by Courtney Milan

5. Mercy by Catherine Miller

 

What were your favorite reads of the year? 

 

 

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review 2017-01-18 16:16
The Heart of Christmas (A Handful of Gold, The Season for Suitors, This Wicked Gift) - Mary Balogh,Nicola Cornick,Courtney Milan
The Heart of Christmas (A Handful of Gold, The Season for Suitors, This Wicked Gift) - Mary Balogh,Nicola Cornick,Courtney Milan

7 January, 2017

It's a snowday, which is only a delight on schooldays, not on weekends, which are properly devoted to doing a vast number of things. Not me, I'm perfectly happy to spend a day reading and napping with cats. But for two highschool students who have active social and extracurricular lives, there is consternation. All day long.

And then, after supper, there was terrific drama: a loud noise, cats running, blood on the floor. It was necessary to catch the cat, and hold him still, and find a clean washcloth, and run warm water on it, and try to get him to hold still by constant bribes of cat treats, and try and locate the source of the blood, and try to put a spot of antibiotic ointment on a twenty-two pound cat, and then trying to figure out a way to bandage the tail, which clearly wasn't bothering the cat, but was leaving tiny blood smears every where.

Fortunately Calder did not lose half his tail in a violent accident, just the merest square centimeter of skin and fur from the pointy tip. It's only funny if he's fine. But now I have a moment of quiet and I don't have the energy to hunt down something new. So this is good.

10 July, 2015

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