**Originally posted @ ReadingDiva's Blog **
REVIEW: I have become a fan of Pepper Winters after I read her Indebted series. I was looking forward to reading Ruin & Rules and I will have to admit to having high hopes and expectations.
Ruin & Rules is the first book in the Pure Corruption Series (MC series) that explores the traitorous world of motorcycle clubs. Ruin & Rules is not your typical romance, the story deals with raw and intense moments, passion, deceit and violence. It explores the characters intimacies and exploit their feelings.
Though I wanted to love this story I can’t say I did. There were a few things that kept me from loving it. The story itself is profound and intense, however I believe the way in which it was executed took away the intensity that I expected, a story is only as good as the characters who live it. Cleo is a young woman who was born in the heart of a motorcycle club, while everything seem to be perfect, evil lurked in the background. She fell in-love at a young age of fourteen, almost too intensely for a young child, her thoughts as well as her intensity for the boy made her feelings at times seem more adult than childish. Arthur (Kill) was a bit older than Cleo, he is intelligent & sweet, destine for great things. That all changed when loyalty changed to deceit and tragedy happens.
Cleo isn’t a character one can easily relate, her story is complex and at times hard to understand her motives and actions. Her reality most times mixes with her past, and a lot times her flashbacks aren’t relevant to the scene. The story has all the things needed to make Cleo an interesting character but somehow this is not the case. Due to the tragedy she experienced, she lost memory and 8 years of her life, she doesn’t know who she really is, but at times does very little to find out. Her concerns are more intone with having sex with her found lover than recovering the lost years. Some of her struggles are inconsequential and her inability to communicate her memories creates uncertainties that are key and necessarily important to her story. Her lack of interest in her own story makes it hard to believe her need to know her past. While I think she tries to remember, I also think she focuses too much on what Art is thinking and what he is doing to help her. The lack of communication & relevant interaction between the characters take away from the raw reality I expected Cleo to experience.
Art on the other hand is a bit more open, his explorations and as well his thoughts are out in the open and that’s something I enjoyed. He says what he feels and think, and does what he says he would do. I think the author did a better job portraying a well developed and mature character, however not without flaws. Arthur (Killer) has every bit of bad boy that we have come to love in Peppers writing however, the nature of this character as well as his capabilities are highly unlikely.
The story itself is too far fetch, a motorcycle president who is also a mathematics genius as well as a very rich day trader. It is almost as if we would mix Sons of Anarchy and The Wolf of Wall Street. The combination of these two would likely create a story just like Ruin & Rule where money and trading as well as trafficking is part of the reality these characters live.
Overall, the story did not have the WOW factor I expected however it is the type of story you hope and feel could’ve been so much more. While I think the characters could’ve been better and their drama better exploit I think the focus of the story shouldn’t be so much Cleo finding Art, but about Cleo finding out who she truly is, not the young girl who fell crazy in-love but the young girl whose past came back to hunt her. The story has a certain level of predictability and it doesn’t get intense until the last 20 pages. This is a 400+ pages of self hate and uncertain thoughts.
Up for a little horseback riding? Enoy these Contemporary Cowgirl Romance Heroines!
My lists are never in any particular order.
1. True Love at Silver Creek Ranch by Emma Cane
Adam Desantis is back—bruised, battle-weary and sexier than ever! Not that Brooke Thalberg is in the market. The beautiful cowgirl of Silver Creek Ranch needs a cowboy for hire, not a boyfriend—though the gaggle of grandmas at the Widows' Boardinghouse thinks otherwise. But from the moment she finds herself in Adam's arms, she's shocked to discover she may just want more.
Adam knows it's crazy to tangle with Brooke, especially with the memories that still haunt him, and the warm welcome her family has given him. But he finds himself in a fix, because tender-loving Brooke is so much more woman than he ever imagined. Can a soldier battling demons give her the love she clearly deserves?
Just about everybody in Valentine thinks so!
2. Drifter's Heart by Karen Wiesner
Maggie May’s pa is still looking for the cowboy who knocked up his cowgirl vixen daughter five years ago. Little Tex has grown up without a father, but he’s the shining star of the May Ranch. Like his father, though, he’s always running off and disappearing. Just when Maggie May thinks it’ll never happen, the drifter she loves shows up, suddenly wise to the fact that his oh-so-altruistic efforts to quiet her endless stream of conversation had ended with a child. Horse trainer for hire and former rodeo bullfighter, Ryder McCall returns to Fever, Texas. This time, Maggie May plans to get him back in her clutches—and win his heart forever.
3. Cowgirl Up! by Carolyn Anderson Jones
ife on the Front Range of Colorado is never dull, especially with a spunky vet and a really hot cowboy in the mix.
Samantha Kendrick is a large animal vet in her small hometown of Fairview, and happy tending to her clients during the day and reading sizzling romance novels at night. Until Cheyenne Wells comes back into her life.
Samantha and Cheyenne have known each other since first grade, but it’s been a tenuous relationship that started when he yanked her ponytail and she punched him in the nose. Now Cheyenne is the head trainer and manager of the largest horse ranch in the west, and Samantha is called out to treat their prize stallion.
Their reunion ignites sparks of passion neither one is expecting. Though Sam resists at first, Cheyenne’s Native American magnetism draws her into his life, with some help from her mom and fate. Before she knows it Sam is drawn into a spidery web of evil. Together, Sam and Cheyenne must work to solve the mystery before it turns deadly.
It couldn’t get any worse for Sam, who up until then only pondered mysteries like, “Do cowboys really go commando?”
4. Cowgirls Don't Cry by Lorelei James
essie McKay has accepted her marriage to Luke McKay wasn’t perfect. After two years of widowhood, she’s ready to kick up her bootheels—until Luke’s younger brother shows up to spoil her fun. But if Brandt thinks she’ll ever take orders from another McKay male, he’s got manure for brains.
Brandt McKay has avoided his sweet, sexy sister-in-law ever since the night he confessed his feelings for her weren’t the brotherly type. Unexpectedly faced with proof of Luke’s infidelity, Brandt is forced to ask for Jessie’s help in taking care of Luke’s young son. Jessie agrees on one condition—she wants Brandt’s boots exclusively under her bed for the duration.
The sexual heat that’s always simmered between them ignites. Brandt is determined to make the temporary situation permanent, proving to Jessie he’s a one-woman man. And Jessie is shaken by feelings she’s sworn never to have again for any man…especially not a McKay.
5. Accidental Cowgirl by Maggie McGinnis
After being betrayed by her con man ex-fiancé, Kyla Bennett nurses a broken heart. But Kyla’s friends have other ideas and when they whisk her off to Whisper Creek, a dude ranch staffed by cowboys so hot they dim the Montana sunset, all Kyla wants to do is hide under a quilt. Then in rides Decker Driscoll. He’s hauling about as much emotional baggage as Kyla, but when he stands close by, both of them want to stay close—and begin to succumb to an undeniable attraction.
After experiencing personal tragedy, Decker never thought he’d see Big Sky country again. But now that his family’s Whisper Creek property is in deep with a Vegas gambler, Decker’s back for the summer—and spending all his time running from “cowgirls” who come to the dude ranch to score some dudes. Then he meets Kyla, a kindred spirit who brings on a stampede of protective feelings . . . and a powerful hankering to sear her with a new brand of love.
6. His Outback Cowgirl by Alissa Callen
Australian cowgirl Bridie Willis travels to Montana to escape the pain of losing her father. Headstrong and determined, she plans to spend the summer alone photographing wild animals. Instead she finds herself saddled with a stubborn cowboy as a back-country guide.
Ethan Morgan has been shaped by a childhood spent on the run. Cautious, steady and conservative, he is tasked with ensuring the beautiful, risk taking cowgirl doesn't ditch him or come to any harm.
But the biggest challenge Ethan must face is to accept how Bridie makes him feel. And the biggest risk Bridie must take is to trust in her heart.
7. Boots and Twisters by Myla Jackson
Lucky Albright’s unlucky streak is so long and wide that she’s been run out of one town and it looks like it may happen again.
When she finds herself out of money and out of gas in Temptation, Texas, a part-time job from the kind owner of the Ugly Stick Saloon gives her a glimmer of hope that this time things will be different.
Trent Jameson and Isaac Moore have always believed you make your own luck, but a black cloud of disaster seems to hover over their new hand. Under a tumbling stack of hay, Isaac discovers what Lucky’s hiding beneath baggy clothes and a tough exterior. Enough sexy curves to satisfy both men’s appetites.
But it isn’t long before Lucky’s history starts wreaking havoc all over town. It’ll take a force of nature to help the ranchers convince the law, the Garden Club—even Lucky herself—that now is no time to hit the road.
8. The Cowgirl & The Unexpected Wedding by Sherryl Woods
Half virginal innocence, half saucy temptress, willful Lizzy Adams had long since stolen rancher Hank Robbins's heart. And then one night, passion overcame common sense and left them both with a little more than just wonderful memories—and the determination to "do the right thing."
For Lizzy, that meant not roping the rugged rancher into marriage. And for Hank, well…what would it take to make the beloved mother-to-be his wife?
9. Cowgirl Crazy by Becky McGraw
wyla Taylor is one frustrated cowgirl. She's not winning at barrel racing or in love. She's spent ten years nursing a crush on her brother's best friend, Ryan Easter, who thinks of her as no more than his little sister. When Twyla catches Ryan with yet another no-good buckle bunny, and calls him out, he tells her to get a life, and that is exactly what she decides to do. One that does not include a buckle-bunny-chasing cowboy with a bad attitude, or an overbearing older brother.
Ryan Easter is one frustrated cowboy. He's winning every night at bronc riding, and has a different woman in every city. Mostly so he can keep his best friend's fiery little sister, and his desire for her, at bay. Since she grew those proud little breasts of hers, and mile-long legs, Ryan has had to fight his attraction to her. If her brother knew what he was thinking, he would kill Ryan, if her daddy didn't first. Ryan valued the surrogate family the Taylor's provided him with too much to ever go there with their youngest member.
His diversion techniques work like a charm, until one night he pushes her too far, and Twyla takes off. Ryan knows he has to find her quickly and apologize, or face his best friend's wrath. He finds Twyla in Dallas and decides she's definitely gone cowgirl crazy. He barely recognizes her, because his barrel-racing tomboy is wearing makeup that looks like it was put on with a putty knife and she's working at a bar which borders on a cowgirl strip club. When she isn't serving shots off of her stomach, she's shaking her round ass for any man with a dollar to shove into the waistband of her barely-there shorts.
Twyla refuses to leave with him, and Ryan knows he better make his final arrangements, or come up with another way to convince her and fast.
10. Jesse by C.H. Admirand
Danielle Brockway’s Uncle Jimmy brought her and her daughter, Lacy, to Pleasure, Texas, to mend her broken heart. Danielle is hoping for a new start, and the last thing she needs is another sweet-talking cowboy who will break her down again. Jesse Garahan is a proud man who wants what his brothers have found — love with a good woman on his ranch. But he’s been burned before. When a curvy blonde cowgirl shows up, the odds are stacked against them. But under the blue Texas sky, they may just be the answer to each other’s prayers.
Vote for your favorite Cowgirl on my Goodreads list: Yee Haw! Contemporary Romance Novels with Cowgirls
**Originally posted @ReadingDiva's Blog** **Giveaway link at the bottom of review**
REVIEW: The Bourbon Kings is the latest book in Ward’s collection , it is perhaps one of my favorite of 2015 thus far. I enjoyed every aspect of this book, from the history behind the families to the romance that awakens the heart and shaken one’s soul. Ward has written a fantastic story about a family’s legacy, about money and deceit, how it passes from one generation to another, giving the reader every aspect of its history and the dark side of money and power.
From the moment I started reading I felt transported to a southern Downton Abby. From the charm that exudes from the story, to the description of grandeur and luxury in every page. The Bradford family is one of the most powerful bourbon makers in the world and their fortune has no limits. There isn’t anything or anyone who can tarnish their name and their power, that’s until Williams Bradford does the inconceivable. There is so much to say about this story, the plot flows beautifully. It explores the dealings of a man whose motives are unknown but whose power has no match. His control over the bourbon empire is massive. His position of power over one of the biggest wealth in the country as well as the power over his family is unparalleled, not only does he dominates with fear but he has almost managed to removed anything and anyone who stands in his way.
The story is brilliantly plotted, as the story flows, we get closer and closer to these characters. Lane is not your typical billionaire. I expected to find a character that was egotistical, power hungry and irreverent. What I found, a man who wear his emotions on his sleeve, a man of certain integrity, a man who loves deep and strong. The story is fantastically paced, it gathers speed and dread until the very last page.
The Bourbon Kings doesn’t fall from Ward’s original writing style, it is descriptive, intense, realistic. However, this time around her writing seems a bit richer, it posses the formality that isn’t always visible or experienced in her writing. Though the romance comes with its own history it doesn’t lack intensity and angst. I like how Ward explores these characters, exposing their feelings and emotions in ways that one can relate. Ward makes these characters vulnerable without taking away their strong and independent nature, she gives them a natural and real feel that compels the reader to love them.
I liked Lizzy, she is independent, caring, responsible and stubborn. I think those are traits I have come to enjoy about Ward’s characters. Lizzy isn’t perfect by any means and that’s perhaps what I enjoyed the most, her virtues are those of any other human being, but along with those traits & virtues come indecision. Since the past seem to be repeating itself Lizzy takes upon herself to help the man she loves, not without first going through indecision & a ton of misunderstandings.
Overall, The Bourbon Kings is a hell of a great story, one that will not disappoint. If you are looking for deceit, family drama and dirty deeds look no further, The Bourbon Kings is all you need to read.
**Originally posted @ReadingDiva's Blog**
REVIEW: Manwhore is the first book I read by Katy Evans, after reading so many good things about her writing I decided to start my adventure with Manwhore.
Manwhore is the story of a playboy, a guy that has it all. He has money, he had the looks, and the women. It is also the story of Rachel, a young woman trying to make her way into a fierce and struggling business of publishing. I have read a good share of rich playboys in need of fixing and in need of love.
Manwhore doesn’t fall far from that bandwagon, the story follows the struggles of a young journalist, a woman who is trying to find her way in the world of news, but since competition is fierce she has to reinvent herself. She works at a magazine that is in trouble, almost at risk of closing its business. Their idea of reinvention and their only way to maintain the edge needed to keep the business open is to do a full expose′ about the hottest player Chicago has to offer.
The story flows as the characters struggle with their reality. Rachel for one seems to enjoy what she does, she loves writing but feels she needs more in order to establish herself as a respectable writer. Her break comes in the form of an expose′, her chance, the one thing that will guarantee her break and the magazine’s only chance to surviving their rival, the only chance it has to maintaining their business afloat. As the story flows we experience Rachel’s reluctance to taking this new assignment, her fears take over her rationale but at the same time it exposes her need to know, her need to investigate and explore. After going over the reasons why this is her only chance she accepts the assignment but not without some apprehension.
As far as characters go, Saint is pure sin. His looks and his power have given him the ability to always getting what he wants, nothing stands in the way of what he wants and he doesn’t shy from taking it if necessary. I think his character as many other in the genre seems to always lean towards arrogance, over powering, domination and sexuality. He keeps his friends close and his enemies closer, he has control over his business and has made a name all on his own. His character is pretty close to others I have read in the past, though comparing characters isn’t always wise because stories differ from plot and setting it is hard not to fall under the same daze that their power and sensuality offers.
The author explores both of these characters struggles with their reality, but each under different circumstances. While one struggles with the reality of a career and a the possibility of a ruined future, the other struggles to maintain an appearance that is deem necessary in a world where money and power set standards. The story focuses on Rachel’s point of view, we witness as she moves from the girl who isn’t always certain of her steps to the woman who is willing to risk and explore, giving the reader a first hand experience of her feelings and emotions. We are also given bits and pieces of Saints struggles, his demons resurface as he exposes his feelings to Rachel, showing vulnerability while also showing his masculinity and sensuality.
This story explores more than just sexual awakening and need, it explores the emotions and weaknesses of these characters. It gives us a first look into the relationship foundation and what it lacks. Though the story has plenty sexuality, I think it lacks passion making it also difficult to relate to these characters. Yes, the author explores feelings, emotions and sentiments that are natural in any relationship and attraction but these characters lack passion in the sense of their encounters. Their interaction seems guarded and predefined. Their dialog does not have a real feel and flow making it hard to establish a connection, I enjoy characters whose feelings flow easily, whose thoughts are easy to explore without making them predictable.
Though Rachel come across as an independent and strong character I think her ingenuity is misplaced. The author portrait of Rachel does not fit her actions, yes at times she goes head on towards what she needs to do while other times struggles to make the simplest of decisions. Rachel’s reality doesn’t call for indecision and inaction, I think that’s what I felt her character lacked most. What I find interesting is that even though she knows she has to do her best, she seems to think that writing for a magazine that is on the brink of collapsing is her only way to stardom. She didn’t seem to have the backbone one expect to see from a journalist, a go get it, a action seeker, a hunger for exploration and news. As a reader, I need to be able to visualize the characters thoughts in order for me to establish a connection. I needed that in order to take her side, though she states her love for what she dose and for the news, it just wasn’t there.
Overall, I enjoyed Manwhore. I think the story though it didn’t have the WOW factor I expected still maintain a level of interest that makes it easy for me to pick the next book in the series. I am interested in seeing how their story develops and how these two characters will make their love story work. If you enjoy love story between rich boys and not so rich girls then this story is for you.