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review 2017-04-20 22:41
What the Librarian Did by Karina Bliss
What the Librarian Did - Karina Bliss

This is the best pure romance that I've read in a long, long time. Wonderful characters, a believable plot, and the ups-and-downs of relationships portrayed for once without the irritating Dr. Phil-style psychologising that infects so many modern American romances. The author is from New Zealand, and that's where the book's events take place, which is so refreshing. Too often non-American authors place the plots in the US, and it gets a bit monotonous. It's nice to read about places that aren't Montana or Wyoming or New York or Seattle. 

 

Here's the blurb:

 

Is Rachel Robinson the only one on campus who doesn't know who Devin Freedman is? No big deal except that the bad-boy rock star gets a kick out of Rachel's refusal to worship at his feet. And that seems to have provoked his undivided attention. Devin, the guy who gave new meaning to the phrase "sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll." Devin, the guy who somehow becomes wedged between her and the past she's kept hidden for years.

It's up to this librarian to find out firsthand just how "bad" he really is. Because her secret—and her growing feelings for a man who claims he's bent on redemption—depend on his turning out to be as good as he seems. Which is really, really good.

 

What's not mentioned in the blurb is that the book is also about parents who should never be parents, religious fundamentalism, domestic violence where the wife constantly refuses to admit that her husband is an abuser, a mother who was forced to give her child up for adoption, what happens when they find each other, a son who needs to confront the fact that his mother has a lover at 65. And, of course, that love conquers all :)

 

And there is a very, very funny bedroom scene.

 

Highly recommended.

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review 2016-12-18 16:19
You Had Me At Christmas - Various Authors - My Thoughts
You Had Me At Christmas: A Holiday Anthology - Laura Florand,Jennifer Lohmann,Molly O'Keefe,Stephanie Doyle,Karina Bliss

You Had Me At Christmas is an anthology of 5 Christmas romance novellas.

The first one is Play by Karina Bliss and you know what?  I couldn't put it down!  *LOL*  I love me a good rock star story and this one was one.  But mostly told from the rock star wife's POV.  Yup, story about a married couple with two little kids.  He's a fresh made rockstar and she's his childhood sweetheart learning to cope with his newfound fame.

I found both characters believable and their insecurities and doubts worked for me.  As did their reconnection - especially the parts with their kids.  The sexy scenes were sexy and steamy, but it was the scenes where they were dealing with their kids and their rekindled desires at the same time that I really enjoyed.

A really good read!!

Now, on to the next one!

One Naughty Little Christmas was a lot of fun!  Starts off with a dating app and some sexy sexting between a business woman and an ex con on Christmas Day night, neither of them in the first blush of youth (Thank God!).  I found it an interesting pairing and their back and forth texting and sexting at the beginning of the story was well done and easy to follow.  I don't know that there was a lot of holiday in this one, other than the setting and the set up, but it left me with a smile on my face, so all was good!  :)

Twelve Kisses Until Christmas was ... well.. not my cup of tea.  Each time that I began to really enjoy the characters, they pulled some whiny bullcrap that made me go UGH.  It was really very much a New Adult type story and those I avoid like the plague.  The characters are never likable or sympathetic or not whining about something.  I think maybe the premise might have been better served with an actual novel where the characters could have been better fleshed out and maybe some positive sides shown?  Not much of Christmas or the holidays in this one either.  Anyway... the story wasn't great.

Snow-Kissed.  Well.  The first chapter left me so down and in despair that when the second chapter started the exact same way, it was fast forward time.  I want to read holiday stories that don't throw me into a pit of dark despair before maybe... MAYBE giving me my HEA or HFN ending.  I know miscarriages are devastating and tragic, but maybe not in a holiday romance novel?  Seeing as I DNFed this story, I have no idea if it actually held up the Christmas part of the bargain.

Let's hope the last one leaves me in a better frame of mind.

Christmas Eve: A Love Story.  It was an improvement, I'll give it that.  (Honestly, couldn't have been much worse than the DNF story.) I dunno. I wanted more joy, more happiness, more Christmassy feeling.  I wanted to finish the story with a smile and a happy sigh, but that didn't happen.  I think it could have.  The story of long-time friends to lovers is always an enjoyable trope for me, but this one was so - angst-laden? - that I found it hard to enjoy.  It was missing a sense of fun.

So, out of five novellas, I can honestly say that I enjoyed 2 of them.  Way too much 'woe is me' in the others.

What a shame.

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text 2016-11-10 17:44
You Had Me At Christmas by Florand, Bliss and more 99 cents!
You Had Me At Christmas: A Holiday Anthology - Laura Florand,Jennifer Lohmann,Molly O'Keefe,Stephanie Doyle,Karina Bliss

What’s better than a little romance at Christmas?

Five romances at Christmas!

Snowbound friends become lovers. Enemies discover they mean far more to each other than they ever dreamed. A marriage in trouble is saved, and strangers find connection in delicious encounters... It’s Christmas, and everything is possible.

A gift to you. Five beloved Contemporary Romance authors bring feel-good magic to the holidays in this specially-priced box set.

PLAY by Karina Bliss
a Rock Solid romance
 
Rock star Jared Walker is within reach of career glory...but his marriage is in the pits. Determined to save it, he talks his wife into holiday dates with only one rule: they must pretend they are strangers.
But when he discovers what Kayla really wants for Christmas, will he be able to give it to her?


One Naughty Christmas Night by Stephanie Doyle
 
Workaholic Kate never expected to find herself looking for love online on Christmas night. Then John appeared on her screen and her whim to escape loneliness turned into the hottest sex of her life - even if it was via text. John knew Kate was too classy for his ex-con ass, but he was about to learn that Kate knew how to fight for what she wanted. And she wanted more of him.


Twelve Kisses Until Christmas by Jennifer Lohmann

Escaping her abusive father and small hometown to follow her dreams takes money Selina Lumina doesn't have. After a millionaire software developer offers her a ride out of town, she has to decide whether to follow her aspirations or take a chance at love. Could a snowbound night on the road turn into a Christmas miracle?

Snow-Kissed by Laura Florand
(previously published as part of the Snow Queen Series)
 
After the utter destruction of her marriage and her happiness, Kai knew it was better to shut herself away from the world than to hurt and be hurt.

Holed up in her mountain cabin, Kai plans to spend her Christmas alone. Until her not-quite-ex-husband shows up as the first flakes start to fall. Now should she send him back out into the cold? Or can she be brave enough to let this winter snow bind them back together?


Christmas Eve: A Love Story by Molly O’Keefe
(previously published in the Sweet Talk Anthology benefiting Diabetes research)

Growing up in the mountains of Wyoming Trina and Dean had been childhood friends until the bitter feud between their families drove them apart. When the magic of Christmas Eve tips the star-crossed lovers together year after year, will they be able to make sure this holiday is not their last?

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review 2015-03-13 10:13
Rise, and fall flat. Or how Karina Bliss Ruined Devin's brother.
Rise - Karina Bliss

I loved What the Librarian Did. I loved the book and its hero enough to name a then GR shelf after him. I loved the heroine’s strength and how the story subtly undermined one of the most irritating romance tropes: miscommunication. Keeping all that in mind, you can surely guess what I thought of the sequel written for Devin’s brother, the unredeemable Zander.

 

I very nearly hated it.

 

After spending majority of the book wanting to love it and reluctantly lowering my expectations to hoping to like it, it was a bitter disappointment to watch all that promise to being squandered away.

 

Zander Freedman, half-Kiwi, was as likeable anti-hero as he could be, until he was forced into a hero’s mould he didn’t quite fit in. His lying and intentions were understandable, even relatable. His actions spoke louder than his unspoken words.

 

Dr. Elizabeth Winston was a wonderfully self-assured adventurer heroine. Unwilling to take this particular risk, at first, but determined to be her own woman instead of the mousy shell everyone else thought her to be.

 

Bringing these two together to write a memoir filled with secrets is a brilliant set up. It echoes back to What the Librarian Did’s set up where Devin was determined to find out Rachel’s secrets. Unlike Elizabeth, however, Devin actually figured out what Rachel was hiding and talked with her about it.

 

That’s where Rise falls apart, in its execution. The book is a collection of cutesy scenes loosely threaded together rather than a story depicting a romance where two people actually learn to know each other and fall in love. Instead of getting to know each other little by little, Zander and Elizabeth stand still emotionally even when their physical relationship progresses.

 

While the reader has an inkling of what’s going on in Zander’s head, Elizabeth doesn’t until the very end. Zander’s honesty is too little too late and still, her rejection of him feels disingenuous. It’s not true to Elizabeth’s character, but what a typical heroine in these situations is supposed to do.

 

The revelation of Zander’s secrets is pushed to the end of the book, which leaves little to no time for the actual resolution. While the characters might have to live through the weeks of Zander’s recovery, the reader rushes through those moments in a handful of pages, and it’s all too fast and unbelievable.

 

Aside from these big mistakes, the little missteps such as a rock star having Skype sex and exposing himself to blackmail were enough to scrape off what little stardust was left of the brilliant premise.

 

As much as I liked Zander and Elizabeth individually, I didn’t like them together and think they’d have been better of apart.

 

Final Assessment: Read What the Librarian Did and forget this sequel ever happened. Or if you love the miscommunication trope applied to a middle-aged rock star and a wolf-in-sheep’s clothing academic, go ahead and read it. D

 

Source: Bought. So you don’t have to.

 

Series: Various Harlequin romances with Zander as the villain authored by Karina Bliss. Apparently.

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review 2015-03-13 10:13
Rise, and fall flat. Or how Karina Bliss Ruined Devin's brother.
Rise - Karina Bliss

I loved What the Librarian Did. I loved the book and its hero enough to name a then GR shelf after him. I loved the heroine’s strength and how the story subtly undermined one of the most irritating romance tropes: miscommunication. Keeping all that in mind, you can surely guess what I thought of the sequel written for Devin’s brother, the unredeemable Zander.

 

I very nearly hated it.

 

After spending majority of the book wanting to love it and reluctantly lowering my expectations to hoping to like it, it was a bitter disappointment to watch all that promise to being squandered away.

 

Zander Freedman, half-Kiwi, was as likeable anti-hero as he could be, until he was forced into a hero’s mould he didn’t quite fit in. His lying and intentions were understandable, even relatable. His actions spoke louder than his unspoken words.

 

Dr. Elizabeth Winston was a wonderfully self-assured adventurer heroine. Unwilling to take this particular risk, at first, but determined to be her own woman instead of the mousy shell everyone else thought her to be.

 

Bringing these two together to write a memoir filled with secrets is a brilliant set up. It echoes back to What the Librarian Did’s set up where Devin was determined to find out Rachel’s secrets. Unlike Elizabeth, however, Devin actually figured out what Rachel was hiding and talked with her about it.

 

That’s where Rise falls apart, in its execution. The book is a collection of cutesy scenes loosely threaded together rather than a story depicting a romance where two people actually learn to know each other and fall in love. Instead of getting to know each other little by little, Zander and Elizabeth stand still emotionally even when their physical relationship progresses.

 

While the reader has an inkling of what’s going on in Zander’s head, Elizabeth doesn’t until the very end. Zander’s honesty is too little too late and still, her rejection of him feels disingenuous. It’s not true to Elizabeth’s character, but what a typical heroine in these situations is supposed to do.

 

The revelation of Zander’s secrets is pushed to the end of the book, which leaves little to no time for the actual resolution. While the characters might have to live through the weeks of Zander’s recovery, the reader rushes through those moments in a handful of pages, and it’s all too fast and unbelievable.

 

Aside from these big mistakes, the little missteps such as a rock star having Skype sex and exposing himself to blackmail were enough to scrape off what little stardust was left of the brilliant premise.

 

As much as I liked Zander and Elizabeth individually, I didn’t like them together and think they’d have been better of apart.

 

Final Assessment: Read What the Librarian Did and forget this sequel ever happened. Or if you love the miscommunication trope applied to a middle-aged rock star and a wolf-in-sheep’s clothing academic, go ahead and read it. D

 

Source: Bought. So you don’t have to.

 

Series: Various Harlequin romances with Zander as the villain authored by Karina Bliss. Apparently.

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