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review 2017-11-20 13:13
#Audiobook Review: Stay by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy
Stay - Audible Studios,Elle Kennedy,Sarina Bowen,Jacob Morgan,Lucy Rivers

Hailey Taylor Emery co-owns a thriving startup “go-for” company with her ex. Hailey is a huge Toronto Maple Leafs fan, and is a bit flustered to discover her long-time celebrity crush, Toronto forward Matt Erikkson, is one of her clients. She is even more discombobulated when he refers to her as “hottie” and invites her to a game. 

 

Over 18 months ago, Matt’s wife insisted on a divorce, and he’s still feeling the impacts. His ex convinced him that being a professional hockey player and having a long-term relationship can never work. However, after meeting Hailey, Matt is considering putting his heart out there again.

 

I absolutely adore the Him/WAGs world that Ms. Bowen and Ms. Kennedy have developed over the course of three books. This is the first story that wanders away from the “original” characters and family, and the authors do a great job transitioning the focus to Wes and Blake’s teammates. Overall, I enjoyed Stay, and found Matt and Hailey to be an adorable and sexy couple. With that said, I also had a few hiccups with the story and Hailey, which made it not quite as amazing as the previous three books.

 

As I mentioned, I enjoyed Matt and Hailey together. Their playful banter, especially as translated through texting and messenger apps, is fun, and it allows the couple to get to know one another in a safe place. And once they become a couple, I loved watching them grow, especially Matt. I also love the WAGs supporting characters, who add dimension to the story. And there are some fabulously hilarious moments… just think “junk selfie in a public restroom”!  I do really like it when it’s just the two of them getting to know each other, spending time together and with the team. 

 

However, I did struggle a bit with the first half of the book. First because I didn’t care that much for the female narrator (discussion below). Second, I couldn’t get 100% behind Hailey. She’s unsure and uncertain, and it made it difficult for me to cheer for her. Third, the ex situation on both sides adds too much tension, making parts of the story very combative. Finally, I had a big issue with a conflict that came up regarding client confidentiality. It is a serious thing, and I felt Hailey, the OWNER of the business, took it way too lightly!

 

As far as the narration, Ms. Rivers excels when portraying Hailey, although it was a tab bit slow at 1.25x. And her female characters are good, but sometimes they felt forced - in that she was working too hard to create different voices from the norm. However, her male voices sound just like a goofy teenage character from a cartoon show I used to watch, and that is all I heard every time she performed any male character, to include the lead. That took me out of the story too often. On the other hand, the male narrator is the same who voiced Wes in both Him and Us. While it was a bit confusing at first (because I kept thinking it was Wes speaking), once the story progressed, it worked well. I really like Mr. Morgan’s voice, and felt he does a great job with a multitude of characters. He also brings solid emotion to Matt, who is struggling to figure out his life.

 

In the end, I’m giving Stay a B rating, whereas normally a book that has a few issues would get a B-. I liked Matt and Hailey together, especially for the second half, after she got over her nervousness and committed to the relationship. The couple clicked, creating a strong romance and finish to the book. I just adore this world, and hope the authors give us more stories soon!

 

My Rating: B

Male narrator: B+

Female narrator: C

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review 2017-11-20 13:12
#Audiobook Review: Good Boy by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy
Good Boy - Teddy Hamilton,Elle Kennedy,Sarina Bowen,Tanya Eby

Jess Canning is struggling to find her path in life. Planning and hosting her brother Jamie’s wedding to NHL superstar, Ryan Wesley, helped her realize party planning isn’t the job for her. After determining that her life’s calling is to be a nurse, Jess is relieved to earn a scholarship to the Smith Nursing school in Toronto.

 

After hooking up with his best friend’s little sister not once, but twice, Blake Riley realizes for the first time in five years, he wants more with a woman than a one-night stand. He’s into Jess, so when she moves to Toronto, he makes it his mission to woo her into being his girlfriend.

 

Good Boy is the wonderful followup to the amazing two-book Him series. I love that the authors did this spinoff starting with Blake and Jess - especially with Wes and Jamie’s wedding kicking off the title. The wedding helps transition nicely from the Jamie-and-Wes centric stories, to focus on Wes’s teammates. I love that they the pair is still a significant part of the book, but as the story unfolds, the focus is truly on Jess and Blake. 

 

I already liked Blake from the previous book, but after Good Boy, I’ve fallen hard. He’s got such a heart of gold, but he’s cocky and playful. He pushes, but knows when to back off. He makes me laugh. He’s the kind of character you want as your own best friend. Whether hanging with his teammates, romancing Jess, or skating on the ice, Blake is always true to himself and those around him.

 

Jess and Blake make a great pair. They start off as “frienemies” with their chiweiler hookup (a hilarious scene from Us), and I was worried I would be annoyed with Jess. She wants Blake, but is horrified by that, so she is a bit rude to him. But he takes it all in stride, confident she likes him, and wears her down. He knows just how to be there for her when she needs it. I really like how the story is all about them coming together - getting over their own hurdles. It’s gradual and real, rather than all at once. Love sneaks up on them. 

 

Teddy Hamilton and Tanya Eby are two narrators I’ve enjoyed listening to recently. Mr. Hamilton voiced the part of Jamie in the previous two books, and I recently listened to another contemporary romance by Ms. Bowen, that was also narrated by Ms. Eby. Because I had heard both narrators play other parts just before listening to Good Boy, I kept thinking of the other characters while listening to this one. While it gave some familiarity to the tale, it was also a little confusing for me. However, they are both strong, talented performers, creating fitting voices for the two main characters. My only issue with Ms. Eby is that I didn’t care for her versions of Jamie and Wes because I’m so used to the other narrators’s versions. And while I liked her Blake, I did have trouble at times distinguishing between her male voices. 

 

Although the WAGs series, starting with Good Boy, is a spinoff of one of my favorite series, you do not have to read Him or Us prior to starting this one. Blake and Jess are a fabulous couple and the book is a lot of fun. I am so glad the authors continued what they started in Him and opened it up to this larger world.

 

My Rating: A-

Narration (both): B+

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review 2017-11-15 21:17
Cuffed by His Charm: A Dirty Little Secrets Novel - Stacey Kennedy

This is the 4th book in the Dirty Little Secrets series and we finally get Gabe O'Keefes's story.  Gabe may be rich and likes his sex a little dirty (why else would you own a sex club?) but what most people don't know is that enjoys being a pub owner and serving beer, not the CEO to his huge company.  They might not also know that Gabe has been lusting after McKenna Archer, a bartender that work for him.  Since Kenna is an employee, she is hands off but when she ends up as the source for all the personal leaks of Gabe and his best friends to Gotcha! magazine, all bets are off.

Damn, you do not want to cross Gabe when he is not happy!

It quickly comes to light that Kenna's brother Evan is behind all the leaks and not Kenna, which leaves Gabe feeling a little guilty.  When Kenna realizes something is wrong regarding her brother, Gabe and his friends step in to help.  It was a twisty, turnie ride these two had to go on to find Evan and stop the leaks.  I really loved how Gabe helped Kenna even though he'd rather have her brother rot in hell for the things he did to him and his friends.  Overall, this was another great addition to this series with all your favorite alpha DC men back together.  I really liked how loyal Kenna was, especially to her brother, even if he didn't always deserve it.  And I really enjoyed the happy ending that Gabe and Kenna finally got!

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review 2017-11-15 20:48
Restrained Under His Duty (Dirty Little Secrets) - Stacey Kennedy

This is book 3 in the Dirty Little Secrets series and Ryder's story.  Ryder has been lusting after Hadley Winters for a long time but since he is her father's bodyguard, it has to be hands off.  Too bad Hadley doesn't see it that way.  She has tried anything and everything to be with Ryder.  While info regarding Ryder and his friends keeps getting leaked to the tabloid paper Gotcha!, the latest one is regarding Ryder and Hadley, and then a sexy photo of Hadley bound and gagged with two guys has been brought to light.  Ryder promises Hadley he will put a stop to this so it doesn't come to her father's attention but of course that means that they must spend more time together.  Ryder realizes that there is a bigger story underneath everything and is stepping up security for Hadley and her dad.  Just when Ryder thinks things are looking up....Bam....his world starts to unravel!  It takes Ryder's security team, his best friends and a leap of faith to fix his problem and get the one thing that he didn't realize meant so much to him before....Hadley.

I really loved this book.  Great characters and a great plot that kept taking me in a different direction than I though it was going to go.

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review 2017-11-14 02:27
Lust, not love
Cuffed by His Charm: A Dirty Little Secrets Novel - Stacey Kennedy

Let me start by saying that I haven't read the other books in this series, but I didn't have too much difficulty figuring out the connections between this group of friends. That part of the story line was interesting and it was obvious that this group would do anything for each other. The romance between Gabe and McKenna was where I ran into problems. I was put off by Gabe's initial treatment of McKenna, but as the story progressed, he did redeem himself. McKenna, however, was the source of much eye-rolling and head shaking. From the star ratings that I've seen, I realize that I'm in the minority here, so I will try to explain without too many spoilers. McKenna loves her brother and would do anything for him, which I can understand. What I couldn't understand was her willingly participating in a "scene" with Gabe right after finding evidence that her brother could be in serious trouble. I completely understand two people with a strong attraction coming together in times of stress, but this situation seemed almost separate from any worries McKenna may have had. Gabe had no reason to care what happened to McKenna's brother, other than his feelings for her, but at times it felt like I was reading two separate stories - one that was an emotional hunt for Evan and another that was a steamy BDSM light romance. Again, toward the end, I was a bit confused about the money. I don't know if it was intentional, but it came across that McKenna didn't want Gabe when she though he'd paid one amount, but when the truth comes out, it's a different story. I'm still confused as to why it matters how much was paid as long as her knight came riding in to save her. The romance between this pair never felt like a romance to me. A strong physical attraction, yes, and Gabe does things that only a man who loves a woman would do, but I never felt like McKenna had anything more than lust for him. 

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