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review 2018-02-18 22:53
Frozen Heart (Love Lessons) by Heidi Cullinan 4 Star Review
Frozen Heart - Heidi Cullinan

Proposals don’t come with instructions.

Walter Lucas knows his boyfriend has been looking forward to the newest movie about a certain snow princess, but he isn’t prepared for the reality that is the front-row seat of Kelly Davidson’s cartoon obsession. There’s more going on in November than just the movie, however—Walter’s been working up the nerve to ask Kelly a certain question. When Walter set up his elaborate Thanksgiving marriage proposal, it seemed like such a good idea, but as the holiday, the movie premiere, and the question Walter never dreamt he’d be asking anyone converge…let’s just say even Hollywood’s best couldn’t sing and dance their way out of Walter’s tangle.

 

Review

 

Wow. I can't get over how much wonderful Heidi Cullinan was able to pack into the Walter and Kelly short story.

 

I almost didn't pick this up because we had seen the proposal in anther book.

 

This is so worth it. All the Disney and loving your partner and awww.

 

The details are grand. If you like this series, read this one.

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review 2018-02-17 22:50
Lonely Hearts by Heidi Cullinan 4 Star Review
Lonely Hearts - Heidi Cullinan

 

 

Even hot messes need a happily ever after.

With the quiet help of his wealthy family, Sebastian “Baz” Acker has successfully kept his painful past at bay. But as the end of college draws near, his friends—his buffer zone—are preparing to move on, while his own life is at a crippling standstill. With loneliness bearing down on him, Baz hooks up—then opens up—with Elijah Prince, the guy Baz took a bullet for last year. The aftershocks of their one-night stand leave giant cracks in Baz’s carefully constructed armor. For the first time, the prospect isn’t terrifying.

Accustomed to escaping his demons by withdrawing into his imagination, Elijah isn’t used to having a happy herd of friends. He’s even less comfortable as the object of a notorious playboy’s affections. Yet all signs seem to indicate this time happiness might be within his grasp. When Baz’s mother runs for a highly sought-after public office, the media hounds drag Baz’s and Elijah’s pasts into the light. In the blinding glare, Baz and Elijah face the ultimate test: discovering if they’re stronger together…or apart.

 

Review

 

You need to read the other books in this series to enjoy this book to its fullest but enjoy it you will.

 

As always, Heidi Cullinan writes compelling flawed lovable characters. Neither Bas nor Elijah are nice. Elijah has massive trust issues and Baz too easily use power. But they are both kind.

 

They each have so many open and closed wounds and have physical and mental disabilities created by the events of their past. They have coping mechanism that are not healthy.

 

They are drawn to each other and they come to love each other. And we can believe that while not easy, they will be each others soft place to fall.

They love.

 

A great circle of friends and all kinds of support systems, reaching out, healing of others, and fun details make this a really great book and romance.

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review 2018-02-16 22:33
Manic Pixie Dream Boy (The Underdogs #1) by K.A. Merikan Review
Manic Pixie Dream Boy (gay rockstar romance) (The Underdogs Book 1) - K.A. Merikan

Dusk. Leader of The Underdogs. Destined for greatness. Lives in the now.
Abe. AKA Lolly. Iridescent. Unicorn.

All Dusk wants out of life is for his band to become world famous. He also wants to have a lot of fun along the way. And to get his rocks off. When he wants something, he goes for it, consequences be damned.

So when he sees a gorgeous pink-haired guy who is the human equivalent of tattooed cotton candy, he can’t help but have a taste. But it’s when Lolly ends up on their tour bus that Dusk knows their meeting was destiny

Abe is the kind of guy who goes with the flow. He was hitchhiking anyway, so why not spend the week with a hot piece of rocker beefcake, getting smothered by his sexy long hair? And why not play the part of the supportive cutie while he’s at it? It’s not like he’d be sticking around for long anyway.

All plans hit a wall when photos of Abe and Dusk emerge online, suddenly pushing the band into the spotlight. To take advantage of the sudden popularity, the band offers Abe money for staying. 

Which means money for being in a fake relationship with Dusk.

Which isn’t even fake.

Or is it?

 

 

 

Review

 

I love the idea of Lolly/Abe. I adore the happy themed tattoos et all. But the actual development of the character is uneven and too late in the book to work well.

 

Dusk's character has many of the same issues. They don't talk even after several moments of saying TALK. I don't think Dusk even asks Lolly's real name until near end of the book 

 

Then, we get into a pretend relationship trope which is awkward and an even more awkward climax and break up.

 

Hmmmm. I will likely read Dawn's story because interested but I hope the emotionial depth of the writing gets better.

 

 

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review 2018-02-14 20:00
Sugar
Sugar - Kimberly Stuart

Going to go with four stars since I did enjoy a lot about this book. I just wish the author had surprised us with an ending that had the main character (Charlie) realize that if she is going to date someone, that they had to not only trust her, but understand her job. I had some dissatisfaction with that plot-line as well as the whole t.v. thing. It was weirdly done at the end and I don't know how to feel about it. 

"Sugar" focuses on Charlie Garrett, a chef at one of the hottest restaurants in New York, L'Ombre. Charlie puts up with the daily put-downs of the head chef (baker) at the restaurant who makes her and other co-workers days/nights a nightmare. Charlie puts up with it though since she is promised eventually she is going to get promoted. But when Charlie is given an offer to move to Seattle and work alongside her ex-boyfriend Avery, she leaps at the chance after one put-down/shitty move too many. There's a catch though for Charlie, working with Avery means she agrees to being filmed for a reality tv series and she can't talk about it with others. With her long days/nights put in at Avery's restaurant she doesn't have a lot of time with a budding relationship with a man she meets named Kai.

I have to say, Charlie was awesome in so many ways. She's smart, driven, a neat-nik, and loves to bake. She has dreams and knows that working with Avery in Seattle may be enough to get her to where she should be at in her life. But she feels forced to choose due to actions/conversations with her best friend and with Kai. I hate that there is this whole idea that women can have it all. Having it all means/looks like a lot of different things to people, and most of us cannot have it all. Most of us are going to work long hours and give up on tucking our kids into bed, that does not makes us a failure. There was some interesting commentary here and there that I think had Stuart wading in a bit to feminist waters. But that's all thrown out the door based on what Charlie ultimately does when faced with a decision.

Have to say it, I didn't like Kai much and thought Avery was a dork (not bad or anything, just dorky). Kai gets frustrated/upset because Charlie has a lot going on and then gets shirty when her boss (Avery) is at her place when he comes by. There was too many red flags for me in that whole thing. I also kind of hated Kai's family. Way too into his business and Charlie's and I didn't find it charming. 

Charlie's best friend bugged a bit too since she was also judging Charlie's life and seeming to think that without a man her becoming a head chef (baker) at a restaurant wasn't a big deal. I don't know, I loved Charlie a lot, but the previous two characters I met bugged me.

The setting changes from New York to Seattle and I really enjoyed how Stuart describes both places. You can even feel the difference between both spaces since New York sounds cramped, dark, and smelly and Seattle sounds like heaven on Earth with green spaces, farmer's market, and apartments with a lot of light and views of the water. 

The ending as I said above didn't do a lot for me. Though we do get a silver lining of sorts with Charlie getting her own version (I guess) of a HEA with an out of nowhere offer.

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review 2018-02-14 09:01
The Ones Who Got Away by Roni Loren
The Ones Who Got Away - Roni Loren

They were together in a janitor's closet on the night of their prom, where the majority of their class was shot dead, and then he left her alone, trying to save as many of their classmates that he could, leaving her exposed to the shooters.

Now they meet again, twelve years later, during interviews for a documentary. They're strangers, completely different from the boy and girl that used to make-out in secret, the experience having shaped them both, but the spark is still there...



Sometimes giving a new-to-you author a shot pays out big time. This book is one of those. I went in without expectations, and was blown away by the story and its characters. I'm not really a big fan of straight-up contemporary romance, but this one hit all the right notes, despite not having any real suspense or dangerous situations.

It's a lesson in life, really. How a tragedy can shape a person, influence their choices, and how much strength and stubbornness, it can take to get out of the boundaries of predictability and "safety" a life without risks offers. But that is only a half-life, as both Olivia and Finn proved with their story.

I liked their relationship, the reunion that showed there was still something there between them, but I loved how they tried to be just friends in the beginning, tried to ignore the big elephant of their attraction. And I loved how they made the decision to give it a go despite knowing it was temporary and it was going to hurt in the end.
Did I find the romance, the reunion, the reconnection somewhat too easy, too much like it was nicely tied with a bow? Yes, I did. It was too convenient and neat they way they found each other and slipped into a relationship, but it worked because it was so convenient. They've been through that night together, they knew the "pressure points", and they knew the drill. I don't think it could've worked without that experience and that "intimate" knowledge from twelve years prior.

This was a poignant story with wonderful, nicely-developed, layered, scarred characters (supporting cast included, and I cannot wait to read the other three girls' books), filled with friendship, snark, humor, and topped by a sometimes bittersweet, sexy second-chance romance.


Speaking of humor...

“Do you need us to get you anything, sweetie?” Kincaid asked, sitting on the opposite side of the bed from Finn. “Water? A pill? A former football player in his underwear? Because we’ve got the last one covered. And I can make the first two happen.”
Liv looked up at that, registering the fact that Finn was shirtless and his thick hair was sticking up every which way. Her gaze drifted down to his black boxer briefs. “You’re in your underwear.”
“’Fraid so,” he said. “Good thing I don’t sleep naked.”

 

“We’ve got to up our game. Liv’s about to tackle a letter item and her football player. She’s officially become my patron saint.”

 

“Hey, erect is a perfectly proper word. I can’t help it if your mind was in the gutter.”
“I’ve been celibate for two years. Assume it’s always there. I’ve set up shop and built a little gutter town. We’re about to elect a mayor.”

 

“You’re allowed to have fun. You’re allowed to have a fling with an old boyfriend and not feel like it’s some big life decision or an unhealthy coping mechanism. Be smart about it, but don’t deny yourself some simple life pleasures. Taking your photos. Hanging out with your awesome, amazing, super-wise friends. And hot cop penis.”
A real laugh burst out of Liv this time, and she quickly pressed her hand over her mouth to staunch it. “He’s FBI, for the record.”
Federal cop penis,” Kincaid corrected. “That’s top shelf. It has authority across state lines.”

 

“They sell engagement rings at the airport?”
“Yep.” He smirked. “Next to the Cinnabon.”
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