Category Archives: Contemporary

Review: The Second Time I Saw You by Pippa Croft

second timeTitle: The Second Time I Saw You by Pippa Croft
OxFord Blue Series Book Two
Publisher: Penguin
Genre: Contemporary, Erotic, New Adult, Romance
Length: 366 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

Lauren and Alexander’s journey continues in the second novel in Pippa Croft’s Oxford Blue romance series.

It’s the beginning of a new term at Wyckham College, Oxford, and a fresh start for Lauren Cusack. Her fingers were badly burnt when a whirlwind romance with gorgeous English aristocrat, Alexander Hunt, became too hot to handle – and now she’s determined to keep her distance.

Her resolve is shaken when Alexander appears on her doorstep – he’s been completely torn apart by some devastating news. Lauren knows that she should stay away, but their chemistry is undeniable and she soon finds herself back in Alexander’s arms.

Can Lauren handle the drama that comes with Alexander Hunt? Or will she have to sacrifice the most exhilarating passion she’s ever known . . .

Fans of E L James, Tammara Webber and Beth Kery won’t be able to get enough of Pippa Croft’s Oxford Blue romance series. The First Time We Met and The Second Time I Saw You are the first two novels in the series, followed by Third Time Lucky, which is also available to pre-order from Penguin.

The Review:

The Second Time I Saw You, the second novel in Pippa Croft’s Oxford Blue series, is a continuation of Lauren Cusack and Alexander Hunt’s tumultuous but scorching hot romance. Beginning with Lauren’s return to England following Christmas break, this installment follows this passionate couple through a few more ups and downs and ends with a dramatic cliffhanger.

Lauren returns to England for her second term at Wyckham College and she is firmly resolved to stay away from Alexander. But that vow is quickly set aside upon her arrival when Alexander is waiting for her with stunning news. Lauren finds herself swept back into the Hunt family drama as they cope with the aftereffects of an unexpected tragedy. Still unable to resist their smoldering desire, Lauren and Alexander resume their relationship but will their fragile bond survive when a secret comes to light?

Lauren considers herself strong and in control of her life, but her helpless response to Alexander brings this opinion into question time and again. She is compassionate and caring, so her willingness to support Alexander is not surprising nor is it unexpected that she complies with his request to be there for his sister, Emma. What is surprising is the lack of judgment Lauren displays when Emma confides in her and she agrees to keep the information from Alexander. Lauren has compelling reasons for keeping quiet, but it is just a matter of time before the information is revealed.

Alexander is still rather enigmatic and taciturn but in this outing, he is beginning to unravel as the weight of responsibility falls squarely on his shoulders. Torn between duty and his dreams, Alexander is juggling his studies, his career and unexpected family obligations. He is much more vulnerable during the course of the story as his life implodes, but Alexander remains firmly in control of his relationship with Lauren.

Lauren and Alexander’s romance continues to be based on their mutual lust and their sex scenes are still incendiary. But the change in Alexander’s circumstances makes him a little easier to relate to and he is more open with Lauren. They agree to be complete honest with one another and Lauren’s omission is a betrayal of trust that he finds impossible to overlook. While at first unbending and unforgiving, Alexander makes an unexpected gesture that is quite romantic and makes the cliffhanger that much more shocking.

The Second Time I Saw You is an absolutely brilliant addition to the Oxford Blue series. Lauren and Alexander are vibrantly developed, three dimensional characters that are quite appealing. But it is Pippa Croft’s fresh and innovative storyline that makes the novel such an outstanding read. She makes it impossible not to become fully invested in the final outcome of this beleaguered couple’s relationship and I am very eager to read the conclusion to this fabulous series.

Read my review of The First Time We Met HERE.

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Filed under Contemporary, Erotic, New Adult, Oxford Blue Series, Penguin, Pippa Croft, Rated B, Review, Romance, The Second Time I Saw You

Review: Broken Open by Lauren Dane

broken openTitle: Broken Open by Lauren Dane
Hurley Boys Series Book Two
Publisher: Harlequin HQN
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 384 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

Beyond passion. And beyond their control…

Five years ago, Tuesday Eastwood’s life collapsed and left her devastated. After an empty, nomadic existence, she’s finally pieced her life back together in the small Oregon town of Hood River. Now Tuesday has everything sorted out. Just so long as men are kept for sex, and only sex…

Then she met him.

Musician and rancher Ezra Hurley isn’t the man of Tuesday’s dreams. He’s a verboten fantasy—a man tortured by past addictions whose dark charisma and long, lean body promise delicious carnality. But this craving goes far beyond chemistry. It’s primal. It’s insatiable. And it won’t be satisfied until they’re both consumed, body and soul…

The Review:

Broken Open is the second delectably steamy installment in Lauren Dane’s hot rocker Hurley Boys series. In this outing, deliciously tortured rancher/rock star Ezra Hurley and sinfully sexy widow Tuesday Eastwood give in to their searing passion and unexpectedly heal the wounds of their respective pasts.

The few glimpses of Ezra and Tuesday in The Best Kind of Trouble hinted at some kind of connection between the couple so it comes as no surprise that their relationship begins pretty much right away. These two share a sizzling attraction to one another and while they have danced around it for months, they finally are ready to explore their mutual lust. What Ezra and Tuesday both find surprising is how much they enjoy one another’s company outside of the bedroom. And this becomes a little tricky for Ezra as he tries to navigate the unknown: a real relationship.

Tuesday has had a difficult time moving on since the death of her husband. She disconnected from real life for a long time but through her close friendship with Natalie (from book one in the series), she has finally made a new life for herself. She has a successful framing and jewelry business and she has also indulged in a few short-lived, casual hook ups. Although she is very open to a relationship with Ezra,Tuesday does experience some guilt over the depth of her emotions and the strength of her desire for Ezra.

Ezra might have shaken his addiction to heroin, but he has been unable to let go of the guilt and shame of what his addiction did to his family and friends. Needing a complete lifestyle change after his stint in rehab, Ezra quit touring with Sweet Hollow Ranch and focused his energy on the family ranch, songwriting and studio work with the band. In the past few months, he has performed live with the band in a few small shows which really highlights how far he has come in his recovery. While Ezra is delighted at his surprising romance with Tuesday, it also makes him very uneasy as he tries to find the same balance in their relationship that he has found in the rest of his life.

Ezra and Tuesday’s relationship is mostly conflict free and it is very enjoyable watching them build their relationship. Their lives perfectly complement one another’s and their shared interests bring them closer together. Their social lives also intersect since Ezra’s brother is involved with Tuesday’s best friend and this provides them with added opportunities to get to know one another. While there are several scorching hot love scenes between Ezra and Tuesday, the novel mainly focuses around their deepening emotional bond and the impact this has for them as a couple.

Emotionally compelling, Broken Open is a beautiful novel of healing for Tuesday and Ezra as they find the courage and strength to open their hearts to the possibility of love despite their emotional baggage. The characters are multidimensional with believable obstacles to overcome. The storyline is realistic and Lauren Dane never shies away from difficult topics. The resulting romance is quite heartwarming and one that I highly recommend to old and new fans of the Hurley Boys series.

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Filed under Broken Open, Contemporary, Harlequin, HQN Books, Hurley Boys Series, Lauren Dane, Rated B, Review, Romance

Review: Unwrapped by Maisey Yates

unwrappedTitle: Unwrapped by Maisey Yates
Silver Creek Series Book 3.5
Publisher: InterMix
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: Novella
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

In USA Today bestselling author Maisey Yates’s latest Silver Creek Romance, a naughty Christmas wish turns into something so much more…

Kindergarten teacher Sarah Larsen has spent her whole life being the good girl. But now, she’s ready to do something bad. So wearing the shortest, tightest black dress she owns, she marches over to the nearest bar to fulfill her Christmas fantasy: a wild night with a total stranger.

Walker Callahan moved to Silver Creek to start fresh. He doesn’t want to bring his baggage into a relationship, so an evening of fun with the sexiest welcoming committee ever is just what he needs.

They were both in it for one night with no strings attached.. But when Sarah discovers that Walker is the father of her new student, things turn deliciously complicated. Can the cold winter nights thaw two frozen hearts?

The Review:

Unwrapped by Maisey Yates is a sweet and sexy holiday romance between two people whose fling unexpectedly turns into so much more. This fast-paced and engaging novella is a journey of self-discovery for Sarah Larsen whereas Walker Callahan must decide whether or not to risk his heart again on love. This lovely addition to the Silver Creek series can be read as a standalone, but I highly recommend the other books in the series as well.

Sarah is a good girl who always does what is expected of her. Now thirty years old, she is finally ready to explore her sexuality but achieving that goal takes her way out of her comfort zone. Just as she is rethinking her decision, a handsome stranger walks through the door and she charms him into accepting her tantalizing offer of a one night stand. However, Sarah is dismayed to discover that Walker is not just passing through when their paths later cross in very surprising set of circumstances.

Sarah is a sweet and giving woman but moving past the messed up teachings of the grandmother who raised her is difficult. She is uneasy with the changes she is trying to make, but she does not let her discomfort stop her. As she becomes more sexually experienced, Sarah gains confidence both in and out of the bedroom. But most importantly, Sarah realizes that she deserves to be happy and she refuses to keep her growing feelings for Walker to herself.

Walker is not looking for a woman when he finds Sarah and he has serious qualms about getting involved with her beyond their one night together. Having had his heart shattered by his ex-wife, Walker is devoted to his daughter but once his libido comes back to life, he finds it difficult to ignore his desire for Sarah. Agreeing to keep their relationship casual, the couple eagerly explore their scorching hot passion but Walker brings their relationship to a screeching halt in the aftermath of Sarah’s confession.

Unwrapped is a delightful novella that is humorous, sensual and at times, a little poignant. Sarah and Walker are multi-faceted characters with believable flaws and realistic obstacles to overcome. It is a super steamy addition to Maisey Yates’ Silver Creek series that old and new fans are sure to love!

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Filed under Contemporary, InterMix, Maisey Yates, Rated B+, Review, Romance, Silver Creek Series, Unwrapped

Review: Not Quite Forever by Catherine Bybee

not foreverTitle: Not Quite Forever by Catherine Bybee
Not Quite Series Book Four
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 322 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

The touching and heartwarming fourth novel in the wildly popular Not Quite series from New York Times bestselling author Catherine Bybee.

Romance author Dakota Laurens believes that happily-ever-afters exist only between the covers of her sexy novels. But to her surprise, she finds a real-life hero when she meets a handsome emergency room doctor. The outspoken author feels an instant and intense attraction to Dr. Walt Eddy, and the feeling is mutual. When the globetrotting doctor pulls a disappearing act on Dakota, she’s prepared to write him off…until fate brings a blindsiding twist to her story.

Still scarred from a past tragedy, Walt may have disappeared on Dakota, but now he’s determined to win her back. For the first time in years, he knows he’s ready for a new chance at love. Yet between Dakota’s doubts and two sets of meddling parents, can the once-blissful couple finally create the bright, loving future they desperately want?

The Review:

Not Quite Forever by Catherine Bybee is a delightful, light read that is fast-paced and engaging. The fourth novel in the Not Quite series, this captivating love story has a charming cast of characters and an angst free storyline. Although part of a series, fans of contemporary romances will be thrilled to learn this novel can be read as a standalone.

Dakota Laurens is a bestselling erotic romance author who meets Dr. Walt Eddy while both are in Florida for different conferences. Walt is intrigued by Dakota at first glimpse while she is instantly attracted to the handsome doctor. Learning they live close to one another in real life, the two enter into a casual relationship that becomes serious a lot sooner than either expect.

Dakota is a refreshing breath of fresh air. She is super organized, straight to the point and unapologetic about her career but she has a horrible track record with men. She is strong and self-confident but she also has the occasional doubts and insecurities that everyone is faced with. Dakota faces most problems head on, but when the unexpected occurs, she turns to family for support.

Walt is extremely busy with his career as an ER doctor so he is thrilled with Dakota’s laidback approach to their relationship. However, their slow-moving get to know you casual dating style is fast-tracked when he needs a date for a family celebration and their romance really heats up. But Walt has been keeping a surprising secret that causes him to back off when things begin to move a little too quickly for him.

Walt and Dakota’s fledgling relationship ends almost before it really begins when Walt’s crisis coincides with Dakota’s unanticipated discovery. Lack of communication leads to a misunderstanding on Dakota’s part and she abruptly flees to her parents. Walt is pretty persistent in his efforts to find her and when he learns the reason behind her departure, he pulls out some pretty impressive stops to win her back. This part of the storyline is particularly touching and while he wants her back, Walt patiently waits until Dakota is ready for their reconciliation.

Not Quite Forever is a wonderfully heartwarming romance that does not shy away from real life issues. Walt and Dakota have complicated relationships with their parents and both sides of the families are slow to warm up to their children’s significant others. Catherine Bybee throws a few obstacles in their path, but Walt and Dakota are more than capable of working through their issues and finding their happily ever after.

Not Quite Forever is a lovely addition to the Not Quite series that I absolutely loved and cannot recommend highly enough!

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Filed under Catherine Bybee, Contemporary, Montlake Romance, Not Quite Forever, Not Quite Series, Rated B+, Review, Romance

Review: The Reluctant Elf by Michele Gorman

reluctant elfTitle: The Reluctant Elf by Michele Gorman
Publisher: Notting Hill Press
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 120 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher

Summary:

Meet Britain’s Worst Innkeeper

Single mother and extremely undomestic goddess, Lottie, has five days to become the ultimate B&B hostess to save her beloved Aunt Kate’s livelihood.

When Aunt Kate ends up in the hospital, Lottie and her seven-year-old daughter are called to rural Wales to stand in at the B&B. Without the faintest idea how to run a hotel (she can barely run her own life), Lottie must impress the picky hotel reviewer and his dysfunctional family who are coming to stay over Christmas. Without the rating only he can bestow, Aunt Kate will lose her livelihood.

But will Danny, the local taxi driver who she hires to help her, really be Santa’s little helper, or the Grinch who stole Christmas?

The Review:

The Reluctant Elf is a delightfully heartwarming novella by Michele Gorman. A very appealing cast of characters and a refreshingly unique plot make this engaging story a superb holiday read.

Lottie, along with her young daughter Mabel, rush to Wales upon hearing the news that her Aunt Kate has been injured in an accident. Upon their arrival, they are greeted with the news that Kate should make a full recovery but it is the fate of Kate’s B&B that is precarious. Learning that Kate desperately needs the positive rating from a reviewer who is due to arrive in a few days, Lottie and Mabel join forces with Danny, a local taxi driver, to play host to the reviewer and his rather dysfunctional family in an effort to save Kate’s beloved B&B.

Lottie is dismayed by the condition of the B&B but she does not let its rather decrepit state discourage her from helping her aunt. She immediately enlists Danny’s help and they find some rather creative ways to polish the diamond in the rough. Lottie remains unfailingly cheerful and always puts forth her best effort even in the face of some pretty daunting situations.

Danny is no more prepared to run a B&B than Lottie, but he has a pretty compelling reason to accept Lottie’s rather lucrative offer to help her out. Like Lottie, he throws himself into the task at hand and gamely agrees to her sometimes unorthodox solutions to the problems that keep popping up. He is very sweet and charming with a past that is similar to Lottie’s so it is no surprise that the two hit it off.

The Reluctant Elf is a sparkling gem of a story that is warm, witty and brimming with holiday cheer. The characters are perfectly imperfect, the storyline is fun and the romance aspect is understated but believable. Michele Gorman once again spins a humorous yet heartfelt tale that is guaranteed to charm her readers.

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1 Comment

Filed under Contemporary, Michele Gorman, Notting Hill Press, Rated B, Review, Romance, The Reluctant Elf