Category Archives: Rated C

Review: Last Chance Rebel by Maisey Yates

Title: Last Chance Rebel by Maisey Yates
Copper Ridge Series Book Six
Publisher: HQN Books
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 384 pages
Book Rating: C

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


The prodigal son of Copper Ridge, Oregon, has finally come home

The man who ruined Rebecca Bear’s life just strolled back into it with one heck of an offer. Years ago, Gage West’s recklessness left Rebecca scarred inside and out. Now he wants to make amends by gifting her the building that houses her souvenir store. Rebecca won’t take Gage’s charity, but she’s willing to make a deal with the sexy, reclusive cowboy. Yet keeping her enemy close is growing dangerously appealing…

He’s the wild West brother, the bad seed of Copper Ridge. That’s why Gage needs the absolution Rebecca offers. He just didn’t expect to need her. After years of regretting his past, he knows where his future lies—with this strong, irresistible woman who could make a black sheep come home to stay…


The sixth installment in Maisey Yates’ Copper Ridge series, Last Chance Rebel is an enemy to lovers romance that is full of unresolved issues.  Like the other books in the series, it can be read as a standalone, but I highly recommend the previous novels as well.

Rebecca Bear has overcome a lot of adversity in her life but she is still incredibly angry about the accident that irrevocably changed her life seventeen years ago.  In the years following the accident, she endured multiple surgeries and painful rehabilitation and Rebecca continues to carry both the emotional and physical scars of those difficult years.  Needless to say, she harbors a ton of animosity toward the person responsible so when Gage West comes strolling into her store, she does not welcome him with open arms.  Rebecca lets him know in no uncertain terms that she will never forgive him for destroying her life and her family.

Seventeen years ago, Gage took the easy way out and let his father pay off Rebecca’s family to keep his involvement in the accident quiet.  He immediately left town  and he has lived an itinerant life ever since.  Returning to Copper Ridge to take care of his father’s business while he is recuperating from a stroke, Gage knows it is time to make amends for the mistakes of his past. He is not looking for forgiveness or atonement and he tries to remain free of emotional entanglements as he works to repair his relationships with his siblings.  A lot of his actions feel a little hollow since Gage tries to distance himself from everyone and he does not take anyone’s feelings into account as he moves forward with his plans.

The relationship between Gage and Rebecca is angst-ridden and their interactions are volatile and incredibly negative.  Rebecca has a GIANT chip on her shoulder and she makes no effort to hide her dislike and disdain for Gage.  Her feelings are understandable but she places a lot of blame on Gage’s shoulders for things that are really not his fault.  Gage is determined to make amends while Rebecca is unbelievably prickly which leads to rather dramatic outbursts.  With so much anger simmering between them, Rebecca’s sudden decision to sleep with Gage is very hard to believe.  Their sex scenes are quite passionate and their encounters are incendiary.  Their romance has a definite insta-love quality to it since they literally fall in love with each other in a span of a few days.  Both characters undergo tremendous growth as they work through their individual issues, but with everything happening in such a short amount of time, the resolution is just a little hard to believe.

Although Last Chance Rebel is not my favorite novel in the series, it is an enjoyable addition to Maisey Yates’ Copper Ridge series.  Longtime fans will enjoy catching up with characters from previous books and readers will be impatiently awaiting the release of the next novel in the series.


Filed under Contemporary, Copper Ridge Series, Harlequin, HQN Books, Last Chance Rebel, Maisey Yates, Rated C, Review, Romance

Review: Last Kiss of Summer by Marina Adair

Title: Last Kiss of Summer by Marina Adair
Destiny Bay Series Book One
Publisher: Forever
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 336 pages
Book Rating: C

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


He’s one bad apple she just can’t resist . . .

Kennedy Sinclair never dreamed she’d own a pie shop and an orchard in a small town like Destiny Bay. But nestled between the mountains and the Pacific Ocean, it’s the perfect place to cross something off her “Life’s short so eat the icing first” list and start her life over from scratch. Her shop, Sweetie Pies, is famous for its hot, flaky apple turnovers and sinfully delicious deep dish pie. For Kennedy though, nothing is more enticing than the tall, strapping slice of temptation who keeps coming back for more.

Luke Callahan is determined to make his hard cider business a success. With his beloved father’s cider recipe and the opportunity of a lifetime in his grasp, he’ll stop at nothing to get this deal done. There’s just one catch: he needs Kennedy’s apples. At first, he thinks it’ll be as easy as pie to charm those apples right off her trees. But Kennedy isn’t falling for his tender charms or his wicked ways. When the negotiations start heating up, so do the feelings they have for each other. And it takes just one kiss to seal the deal . . .


The first installment in Marina Adair’s Destiny Bay series,Last Kiss of Summer is a story of new beginnings for lead protagonist Kennedy Sinclair.

Thanks to her beloved grandmother Edna, Kennedy finds the fresh start she is looking for in the delightfully charming town of Destiny Bay following her heartbreaking split from her cheating ex.  Taking a big chance that could either give her the break she desperately needs or wipe out her life savings if it fails, she buys  Sweeties Pies sight unseen from Edna’s old friend Fiona “Fi” Callahan and Fi’s niece Paula.  Although she initially has a few reservations about the possibly too good to be true deal, Kennedy puts her misgivings aside in order to finally find a place that feels like home.  Turns out her fears are well-founded but it is Paula’s son Luke who becomes the biggest thorn in Kennedy’s side as he resorts to underhanded means to destroy her business in order to get his hands on the apples he needs to expand his hard cider business.  Although the two share a smoldering hot attraction, Kennedy and Luke continually lock horns over the apples and although they eventually seem to reach a truce, will Luke’s betrayal end their chance for happiness?

Kennedy still carries the scars from her mother’s abandonment and she craves nothing more than a well-ordered and predictable life.  Hurt by her ex-boyfriend’s infidelity and dismayed to have to start over yet again, she is surprisingly optimistic about her new business and she throws herself wholeheartedly into the venture.  Quickly realizing she should have asked a few more questions about the bakery’s finances, she comes up with a brilliant plan to keep Sweetie Pies in business.  Despite Fi’s resistance to change, Kennedy is quick to reassure the former owner that she only wants what is best for the shop. However, the biggest challenge Kennedy must overcome is Luke’s concerted effort to keep her from the three acres of apples that were included in her purchase of the shop.  Undeterred, she creatively works around the challenges he puts in her way but she woefully underestimates how far Luke will go to ensure he gets the apples that are vital to her business.

Luke is extremely loyal to his mom and his friend and business partner Bradley Hawk.  Trying to assuage his guilt over leaving the family business years earlier, he will do whatever it takes to expand their business and while he has a valid reason to do so, he is merciless as tries to destroy Kennedy in order to keep the apples he needs for an upcoming business deal.  Luke is more than willing to fight dirty and his maneuvering is incredibly sly, devious and underhanded as he tries to undercut her every chance he gets.  He charms Kennedy in order to get an edge and although he knows exactly what is at stake for her, Luke is unrelenting as he undermines her efforts to succeed time and again.  His final act of betrayal is so incredibly reprehensible and deceitful that it is virtually unforgivable.  But what really makes the act so vile is his continued dishonesty and his infuriating reaction as Luke tries to console  her when his scheme works and Kennedy loses a valuable business deal due to his duplicity. This act of sabotage is positively heartbreaking and completely unnecessary since he has other means to accomplish his goals.

Although well-written with a lovable heroine, Last Kiss of Summer is a bit of a disappointing beginning to Marina Adair’s Destiny Bay series. The romance between Luke and Kennedy never quite feels quite right due to Luke’s single-minded pursuit of his dreams even though he knows achieving his goals will financially and emotionally destroy her.  In spite Luke’s calculating and destructive machinations, Kennedy remains refreshingly kindhearted and compassionate and she never does anything that would deliberately hurt anyone else.  Luke is eventually ashamed of how his behavior, but this realization comes far too late to redeem him into a likable character who is worthy of Kennedy’s forgiveness or love.

Despite this rather lackluster first installment in the Destiny Bay series, the tantalizing glimpses of Kennedy’s new friend, Ali and Luke’s close friend Bradley Hawk will leave readers eagerly awaiting their story which is slated for release in 2017.

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Filed under Contemporary, Destiny Bay Series, Forever, Last Kiss of Summer, Marina Adair, Rated C, Review, Romance

Review: Meant to Be Mine by Lisa Marie Perry

Title: Meant to Be Mine by Lisa Marie Perry
Guilty Pleasures Series Book One
Publisher: Forever
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 400 pages
Book Rating: C

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Loving him was hard. Wanting him was so damn easy . . .

Sofia Mercer may have been sick as a teen, but she’s no delicate flower. And she’s proven it by making it on her own and starting a new life away from the town that turned against her, away from the boy who broke her already fragile heart. But when her aunt Luz dies unexpectedly, leaving Sofia with a mountain of regrets and the keys to a quirky boutique, Sofia has no choice but to return to Cape Cod. Only, this new life in her old town comes with complications.

Burke Wolf was Sofia’s first love-a relationship that burned bright and went up in flames. Seeing him again, Sofia can’t help but get caught up in that all-too-familiar tornado of passion and pain. He’s battled his own demons-that much is clear. But Sofia can’t afford to be careless with her heart . . . and loving Burke again might just break it completely.


The first installment in Lisa Marie Perry’s Guilty Pleasures series, Meant to Be Mine is a second chance at love romance between former friends who have not seen one another for fourteen years.

Sophia Mercer has not been back to Eaves, MA since she and father left years earlier after a scandal.  Following her beloved great aunt’s death, Sophia returns for the funeral but after the service, she is more than ready to return to the anonymity of New York.  However, Sophia decides to move back to the small town after inheriting her aunt’s specialty store and apartment. Running into her old friend Burke Wolf stirs up long forgotten feelings but will their complicated pasts prevent them acting on their scorching hot attraction?

A sickly child with a life threatening heart condition, Sophia has been fairly healthy since receiving a much needed heart transplant.  She has a successful career but after returning from her aunt’s funeral, her life does not seem to quite fit her any more.  Realizing she would rather be in Eaves, she moves back home although she knows she will have to make peace with some of the ghosts of her past.  Sophia is a smart and savvy business woman who has an uphill battle ahead of her as she makes some pretty gutsy changes to her aunt’s business.  One of the improvements she would like to make involves spending time with Burke, but their interactions are rather acrimonious due to their somewhat convoluted history with one another.

Several years ago, Burke finally managed to kick his drug addiction and he continues to work hard to maintain his sobriety.  Running into Sophia brings back painful childhood memories he has tried very hard to forget.  Despite their unlikely friendship, they were once thick as thieves and Sophia saved him more than once during his turbulent teen years.  While he and Sophia supported on another during very tough times, he kept much of his life a secret from her and he still keeps a tight lid on the reasons for his substance abuse problems. Despite his unhappy history, Burke cannot quite leave Eaves for good although his career keeps him away from town for long stretches of time.

Burke and Sophia’s relationship seems to be following the same frustrating pattern as when they were teenagers.  They get along on a superficial level but the peace between them is tenuous which leads to an irritating pattern of them getting along, fighting and making up then turn around and repeat the cycle time and again.  Neither of them has dealt with the lingering issues from their respective childhoods and they both have a tendency to shut down or run away instead of discussing their problems.  Burke and Sophia spend so much time apart that it is difficult to connect with them as a couple and while there is plenty of passion between them, something always stops them before they consummate their desire.

While the plot is interesting, it does not seem to have much focus.  There are multiple story arcs involving numerous secondary characters so the storyline often feels chaotic and disjointed.  Every character seems to be keeping secrets and while this helps keep readers invested in the unfolding story, it is also irritating since there is little context for their actions or decisions.  With so much going on with Burke and Sophia, the plot feels a little overly complicated and busy because there is plenty of drama going on with the secondary cast of characters as well.

Despite a few flaws, Meant to Be Mine is a nice introduction to the Guilty Pleasures series.  Sophia is a strong female lead and her medical condition adds another layer to the storyline.  Burke is a well-rounded hero and his struggle with recovery is realistically portrayed.  The conflict between them is believable although it takes a little too long for begin working through their emotional baggage. Lisa Marie Perry’s tantalizing glimpses of the secondary characters will leave readers anxiously awaiting the next installment in the series.

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Filed under Contemporary, Forever, Lisa Marie Perry, Meant to Be Mine, Rated C, Review, Romance

Review: Age of Consent by Marti Leimbach

Title: Age of Consent by Marti Leimbach
Publisher: Nan A. Talese
Genre: Contemporary, Historical (70s), Fiction
Length: 336 pages
Book Rating: C

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


From the author of Daniel Isn’t Talking and Dying Young comes a shattering new novel, a page-turner about a sexual relationship between a grown man and a newly teenaged girl.

June was a young widow with a hopeless crush on Craig Kirtz, a disc jockey at a local rock station. To her surprise, the two struck up a friendship that seemed headed for something more. But it was June’s thirteen-year-old daughter, Bobbie, whom Craig had wanted all along. Bobbie thought her secret life—the sex, the drugs, the illicit relationship itself—could remain safely buried in the past. But thirty years later, when Bobbie discovers Craig’s attentions to her had been repeated with any number of girls, she returns home with one purpose in mind: to bring Craig to trial.

Her decision is greeted with mixed feelings. Some people think that bringing charges against someone for a crime committed so many years ago is unjustified. She’s called a “middle-aged woman with a vendetta.” She’s accused of waging war against her own family. But the past has a way of revealing itself, and some relationships lie dormant through the years, ready to stir to life at the
slightest provocation.

June remembers things differently from the way Bobbie does. Craig insists he has done nothing wrong. As their traumatic history is relived in the courtroom, Bobbie and June must come to terms with the choices they made and face the truth they have long refused to acknowledge. Told with warmth and compassion, this is a moving, deeply absorbing story of a family in crisis.


Age of Consent by Marti Leimbach is an unflinchingly honest novel about a woman who was sexually abused when she was a teenager who finally tries to get justice thirty years later.  The subject matter is dark and disturbing yet the rambling, disjointed narrative does not do the topic justice.

In the late 70s, Bobbie became the victim of a sexual predator whom her mom later married.  In 2008, Bobbie brings charges against him for the long ago crime.  What should be a compelling court case in the present becomes muddled by extraneous details and a meandering storyline that flashes back and forth between past and present.  The present day narrative is concise yet contains a few troubling coincidences that diminish the impact of the court case.  There is evidence that could corroborate key facts in the case, yet somehow the prosecutor fails to see it.  The courtroom scenes fall flat and the lack of clear resolution is a bit of a disappointment when taking into consideration the fact that a key witness has an epiphany that could turn the entire case around.

The flashbacks contain horrifying details of fifteen year old Bobbie’s abuse at the hands of twenty-eight year old disc jockey Craig Kirtz yet these details are often lost in tedious passages that do little to explain why Bobbie was drawn to a man with absolutely no charm or redeeming qualities.  Bobbie’s scenes with Craig are harrowing and her fear and disgust are palpable.  The fact she kept the relationship a secret from her mother is easy to understand since teenagers often remain silent in these types of situations.  Bobbie’s shame later in life is realistic as is her underlying belief she is somehow responsible for what happened to her as a teenager.  Bobbie’s explanation for the series of event that led up to her involvement with Craig occurs so late in the story that it almost feels like an afterthought.

However, what is most perplexing is why Bobbie’s mother, June, was so thoroughly enthralled with Craig in the first place.  Yes, his job as a disc jockey made him a “celebrity” of sorts, but his behavior is so appalling that is impossible to understand what she found so appealing about him.  And the fact that June was able to overlook and explain away certain details that should have been major red flags is mindboggling.

Age of Consent by Marti Leimbach does manage to end on positive note but overall, the novel is a bit of a disappointing read.  While some parts of the story are unsatisfying, it is a gritty and realistic portrayal of how sexual predators groom their victims and coerce them into keeping silent about the inappropriate relationship.

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Filed under Contemporary, Fiction, Historical, Historical (70s), Rated C, Review

Review: Separate Lives by Kathryn Flett

Title: Separate Lives by Kathryn Flett
Publisher: Quercus
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 401 pages
Book Rating: C

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Your partner of ten years, and the father of your children (though not your husband, because the two of you agreed that marriage seems so…old-fashioned), receives a text message. A text message you happen to see when you’re getting ready for work one day:

Start living a different kind of life… P 🙂 xxx

You don’t even know anyone with the initial P, but even if you did, the smiley face and kisses would send a shiver of fear down your spine that everything you and your partner have built and which seemed so strong, might be in danger of collapse. How could you miss that?

Narrated by Susie, her partner Alex, and the mysterious P, this is an achingly funny, moving and honest portrayal of modern romance, parenthood, and adultery.


Separate Lives by Kathryn Flett is a contemporary novel about the disintegration of a long term relationship amid suspicions of infidelity.

Susie Poe and Alex Fox have been together ten years and although engaged, they have never tied the knot.  They have two children, eight year old Lula and four year old Chuck and both have successful careers.  Things begin rapidly falling apart after Susie discovers a text on Alex’s phone from “P”and she immediately suspects he is having an affair.

The characters are a bit of a mixed bag and several of their relationships are interconnected. Susie is likable and sympathetic but she is not as innocent and wholesome as she first appears. Pippa’s (the not so mysterious P) motives for some of her actions are a little difficult to discern and while not completely unsympathetic, she is not exactly easy to like. Alex is a complete jerk who becomes even more detestable by the end of the novel. The Fox siblings are an interesting group of people and the story would have been much more enjoyable if they had bigger roles and more time on page than brief appearances, texts and e-mails.

Opening with Susie’s discovery of the text, the novel then unfolds from multiple points of view: Susie’s, Pippa’s and a series of texts and e-mails between Alex and his siblings.  Susie’s chapters take place in real time and her entries are full of rambling passages that are a mishmash of pertinent information and non-essential, mind numbing minutiae.  Pippa’s chapters are written letters to her Mum and they, too, are jam-packed with wordy sentences that contribute little to the overall story but do contain a smattering of relevant details.  Surprisingly, the text messages and e-mails are the most concise chapters that are easy to follow and provide interesting insight into the unfolding events. The combined narratives explain the entire story but some of the storytelling is out of sequence so key information is sometimes not revealed until later chapters.  There are plenty of twists and turns and not everything is as straightforward as it appears. While this is an interesting and unique approach to storytelling, unfortunately, the tedious, meandering chapters make it virtually impossible to appreciate overall story.

Separate Lives has an interesting storyline that unfortunately gets a little lost in the narrative until about the last quarter of the novel. Kathryn Flett introduces quite a few plot twists that are completely unexpected and the novel concludes with a few absolutely jaw-dropping revelations. All in all, it is a decent debut that requires a bit of patience to fully enjoy.

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Filed under Contemporary, Kathryn Flett, Quercus, Rated C, Review, Separate Lives, Women's Fiction

Review: Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

Title: Before the Fall by Noah Hawley
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 400 pages
Book Rating: C

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


From the Emmy, PEN, Peabody, Critics’ Choice, and Golden Globe Award-winning creator of the TV show Fargo comes the thriller of the year.

On a foggy summer night, eleven people–ten privileged, one down-on-his-luck painter–depart Martha’s Vineyard on a private jet headed for New York. Sixteen minutes later, the unthinkable happens: the plane plunges into the ocean. The only survivors are Scott Burroughs-the painter-and a four-year-old boy, who is now the last remaining member of an immensely wealthy and powerful media mogul’s family.

With chapters weaving between the aftermath of the crash and the backstories of the passengers and crew members–including a Wall Street titan and his wife, a Texan-born party boy just in from London, a young woman questioning her path in life, and a career pilot–the mystery surrounding the tragedy heightens. As the passengers’ intrigues unravel, odd coincidences point to a conspiracy. Was it merely by dumb chance that so many influential people perished? Or was something far more sinister at work? Events soon threaten to spiral out of control in an escalating storm of media outrage and accusations. And while Scott struggles to cope with fame that borders on notoriety, the authorities scramble to salvage the truth from the wreckage.

Amid pulse-quickening suspense, the fragile relationship between Scott and the young boy glows at the heart of this stunning novel, raising questions of fate, human nature, and the inextricable ties that bind us together.


Before the Fall by Noah Hawley is an intriguing mystery about the investigation into the cause of a private airplane crash that killed nine of eleven passengers on board.

The passengers on board the luxury plane bound for New York are network head David Bateman, his wife Maggie, their two children Rachel and JJ, their bodyguard Gil Baruch, Wall Street financier Ben Kipling and his wife Sarah, and struggling painter Scott Burroughs.  The crew include pilot James Melody, co-pilot Charlie Busch and flight attendant Emma Lightner.  Nothing seems out of the ordinary with the flight until sixteen minutes after takeoff, the plane inexplicably crashes into the ocean.  Scott and four year old JJ are the only survivors and after an arduous night of swimming, Scott and JJ arrive safely on the New York shore only to wind up smack dab in the middle of an intense investigation and media frenzy.

Although Scott is immediately hailed as a hero, he is also at the center of the investigation and media speculation.  Why was a recovering alcoholic and moderately successful painter on the plane in the first place?  What was his relationship with Maggie Bateman?   What is his connection to Ben and Sarah? What does Scott know about Ben’s business dealings?  Why, of all the passengers on the plane, is he the lone adult survivor?  NTSB investigator Gus Franklin gives Scott the benefit of the doubt and he treats Scott with respect and care.  The same cannot be said for FBI Agent O’Brien whose antagonistic approach angers Gus and befuddles Scott.

News anchor Bill Cunningham deliberately stirs up the public with his rabid (and often baseless) speculation and he utilizes questionable (and illegal) tactics in hopes of getting information for his news reports.  Like much of today’s news reporting, Bill is pursuing his own agenda and he blatantly skews facts to fit his increasingly bizarre theories.  Scott is genuinely bewildered by some of Bill’s questions and he goes to great lengths to avoid the limelight.

The investigation into the cause of the crash is rather straight forward but plagued by interagency fighting since they each have their own theory about what happened.  Although there is little evidence to back up some of the conjecture, other assumptions are credible.  However the novel quickly gets bogged down in chapters about the passengers and crew and while they contain nuggets of valuable information, these points are often lost in these extraneous, meandering passages. Equally frustrating are Bill’s wild accusations and vitriolic newscasts that are nothing but pure speculation.  Although Scott is a genuinely likable person who is caught up in extraordinary circumstances, he comes across as incredibly naive and rather clueless during his interactions with Bill and Agent O’Brien.

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley is a perplexing mystery that is impossible to solve.  Despite the somewhat slowing pacing overall, once the pieces of the puzzle begin to fall into place, the novel thunders to a dramatic and completely unexpected conclusion.  All in all, an interesting mystery with a unique storyline that fans of the genre will enjoy.

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Filed under Before the Fall, Contemporary, Grand Central Publishing, Mystery, Noah Hawley, Rated C, Review, suspense