Carly Phillips: Dare to Surrender

Dare to SurrenderDare to Surrender is the third book of the Dare to Love series, and so far it is the best! It reminds me of a better written, more mature 50 Shades of Grey. The book is a great, very short read with really well developed characters that are likeable from the very beginning.

When the book starts the lead female, Isabelle Masters, is just leaving her relationship to a cheating, manipulating man. She gets arrested that same night for stealing her own car. Who is to come to her rescue but Gabe Dare, a man who has been watching her from afar? Gabe, sensing that this could be his chance, invites Isabelle to stay with him as long as she needs.

While Gabe works on claiming Isabelle, all she wants is to be independent and be able to stand on her own. When Isabelle’s ex come and shakes up her building relationship with Gabe, Isabelle decides that it is time for her to really be on her own.

Eventually, Gabe manages to get Isabelle back, but that doesn’t end their problems.

Even though I liked this book, the premise was unoriginal and clichéd. Basically there is a girl whose confidence is very easily shaken, and a guy who is dominating and confident. I had no issue with Gabe because he is just the kind of guy I like, but Isabelle sort of got on my nerves a bit.

I still think that this book is worth a read. While it is part of a series, it stands well on its own. It is a feel good story that you can read in one sitting without being disappointed.

Go over to Carly Phillip’s website to learn more about the Dare to Love series.

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Abigail Strom: Almost Like Love

abigail strom almost like loveThis is my first NetGalley book. Woohooo!! This means that I got to read this book for free in exchange for my honest review.

Maybe I am just a really bitter person or something, but I find it hard to believe that anybody would be as forgiving of a boss firing him or her as our heroine is to our hero. So for the purpose of this book we are just going to skip over the ethical issues of hitting on people that you just fired. Yep. Just skipping right over that. We are also not going to talk about calling said fired person and asking them to babysit for you the next day. Nope.

Kate Meredith is your classic goody two-shoes girl. Smart, nerdy, and hot without even realizing it. When she gets dumped by her fiancé and fired in the same 8-hour span, she decides that it is time to do a 180 and quit her good girl life.

Ian Hart is a wolf in sheep clothing. As the VP of programming, he plays the part of the corporate stooge very well. So well in fact that he fires Kate when her show ratings tank. Underneath it all he is the quintessential bad boy.

Ian never really liked Kate, but one night he spots her in a dominatrix-like outfit and suddenly he decides that he needs to save her from all the men looking to potentially ravage her. He wants to be her white knight after firing her and never previously liking her when she was just her dowdy self. BUT, I pretty quickly came to see that Ian starts liking Kate for herself and not just her sexyfied version.

So, I always feel a bit awkward reading the steamy scenes by new authors because I just feel like I don’t know them well enough yet. Well, I’ll just let you know that I had to get over that really quickly cause this book wasn’t slowing it down for me and I loved it.

I really like the character of Kate. She is smart, nerdy, and a romantic. My favorite part of her personality was that she was strong and did not let Ian get away with anything. I just like to think that I see a bit of myself in her :). She is so rational and normal and doesn’t go off and get angry for no reason like a lot of romance heroines do in some books. Basically, she is a breath of fresh air.

Overall, the plot felt realistic. I thought that it was something that could actually happen in real life and that reality helped me stay engaged with the story and the characters. I won’t give away the ending, but I loved it because it also felt real. It was slow, easy, and didn’t feel too rushed. It fit into the story and characters well.

Even though I had some issues with the characters in the beginning, I came to realize that they weren’t too different from each other and that they could actually fall for each other.

In conclusion, run –don’t walk- to get this book when it comes out on the 28th of this month!

You should check out Abigail Strom’s website to learn more about her and her other books.

Carly Phillips: Dare to Desire

CarlyPhillips_DareToDesireAfter reading the first of the Dare to Love Series I was a lot hesitant to continue on with the series. Even though I did not like the first book, I have this need to finish series’ and I am glad I went on to this book.

Alex Dare is the typical playboy quarterback for the Tampa Breakers. Madison Evans is a social worker with abandonment issues. This unlikely couple is brought together through a mutual friend. When an injury permanently sidelines Alex’s career, his relationship with Madison falls apart. Months later a unique business opportunity comes along for Alex – except there is a catch. He and Madison must come together to work a project that means a lot to both of them. Alex realizes Madison is the only woman for him, but she is determined to keep him away as to protect herself.

This second books was a great improvement over the first. We met Alex and Madison in Dare to Love (Book 1). When we join them again they are already a few months into their relationship. I did not like that once again we were dropped into the middle of the situation. I would have liked to see how Alex picked Madison up and how their relationship developed from there. I felt a little robbed in that respect.

Well-developed characters made up for the lack of relationship building in the beginning. Madison and Alex were relatable and likeable. I especially liked how they resolved their issues early on in the book so that we had the majority of the novel to like them as individuals and as a couple.

Overall, this is a good easy book for when you want something light to read. It probably won’t be a book you come to again and again, but one you will not regret having read.

Check out more about the book here!

Lora Leigh: Wild Card

20 pages into this book and I had to grab a pen and paper to write my love letter toloraleighwildcard Lora Leigh. Seriously, I have yet to come across a Lora Leigh book that I have not loved. She is amazing. She has the incredible ability to draw you in to become instantly emotionally tangled with the characters that she created.

Sabella and Nathan Malone, a SEAL, were married for just 2 short years before she was told that he died in the line of duty.

But Nathan didn’t die. He went through horrors that almost broke him, and is determined to stay away from Bella as to not endanger her. But danger already surrounds Bella and Noah has no choice but to re-enter her life.

6 years later, Bella is doing everything she can to hang onto Nathan’s garage while keeping the vultures away. In walks Noah Blake, a mysterious dominating man who seems to want everything that nation had. Especially Bella. For Bella, Noah reminds her too much of her husband. Bella is determined to discover Noah’s Secret and find out who he really is.

The book started out really strong. The middle was a tiny bit so-so for me because I thought that it got a little bit too technical, and it left a great overall impression at the end. The characters grew through out the novel – from when we met them the first time, until we met them again 6 years later. When they were married Bella and Nathan were still getting comfortable with each other. Bella pretended to be the airheaded Southern belle for Nathan because she knew that he needed to be the badass Navy SEAL. After being on her own for a few years after her husband’s death, we really begin to see that Bella is super strong and someone that I, as a reader, can really look up to. I didn’t really see the same growth in Nathan/Noah, (not a spoiler, you find out pretty early on) but he did come to realize that Bella is really strong capable of doing things on her own.

Overall, this is a very good book that you will enjoy many a time. The sex scenes  are super hot and you will not be disappointed.

Check out an excerpt of this awesome book here!

Carly Phillips: Dare to Love

carly phillips dare to loveOkay. A little disclaimer first: negative reviews are hard to write because I do not want to be negative, but I do feel like I need to be honest. I really respect and appreciate authors because they do something that not a lot of people can do. They have the ability to create entire worlds in their head and put it down on paper for the rest of us to come visit.

It is even harder for me to write a negative review about Carly Phillips because I usually like her books. This has been the first and only time – so far – that I have not liked something that she has written.

This was a short read that took me a lot longer to finish than it should have.

He noticed her, across the room and couldn’t keep her eyes off her, but she arrived with his estranged half brother (blah, blah, blah), very clichéd and not too much of a plot. The writing seemed a bit amateurish for Carly Phillips, but she is delving into a new area of romance than what she usually writes. She usually writes contemporary – very well I might add.

Riley is hesitant about Ian because he seems too dominant. Carly alludes to something in Riley’s past with her dad and before we find out what that issue is and it gets resolved (as it usually does in romance novels), she decides that despite all her concerns she is ready to jump into bed with him.

Even though this is the first book in the Dare to Love Series, I felt like I was being dropped right in the middles of an established series with a few books ahead of it.

The characters are not well developed. I didn’t really feel like I ‘knew’ them. Other authors have written erotica in short story form and still managed to make you feel connected with the characters because they were well developed. Because I wasn’t connected, I found myself thinking and drifting off about other things during the sex scenes (which felt like they were about every other page).

It was too dramatic and cheesy. It was at the same time too much and not enough.

Poor Ian couldn’t do anything right. I understand that Riley had some trauma in her past, but I just didn’t like the way she kept projecting onto Ian for absolutely no reason. I was not attractive of likeable. When he was being dominating she didn’t like it. When he wasn’t she wanted him to. I just wanted to yell, “MAKE UP YOUR MIND, LADY!”

Here are some of the thoughts that I had as I was reading the book:

  • Painful
  • Not much detail/descriptions of the surrounding which takes away from the story
  • The dialogue was kind of horrible. I understand that with the family dynamic there is meant to be a sense of awkwardness between the members, but awkwardness in the story seemed to go beyond that.

One the plus side I really liked the character of Ian’s mother, Emma. She seemed to be one of the few ‘normal’ people in this novel. I really hope that we get a story about her. If I had to choose a part of the novel that I like the best… it would have to be the end. Not because it meant that the novel was over, but because I believe that the book really started to come together at the point.

What do you guys feel about negative reviews? Do you appreciate them? Hate them? Or think that they are a necessary evil? Post your thoughts in the comment section!

Head here for an excerpt!

Maya Banks: Taking It All

This is book 3 of the Surrender Trilogy.

Lately I have been reading a lot of these BDSM novels. One scenario that I hamaya banks taking it alld yet to discover was how that dynamic would work in an already established, committed relationship.

Chessy and Tate have been married for five years. Tate is the dominant and Chessy is the submissive. Lately, Chessy is not feeling the love and security that she usually gets from Tate and her friend have noticed the strain that it has on her. Tate is distracted and obsessed with work and has stopped taking care of Chessy emotionally and physically, though he is there for her financially. Chessy does not care about being financially secure; she would rather have her attentive, loving husband back.

You really need to read the first two books in the series in order to understand all the dynamics of this story (which I promise to post). Maya goes right for the heart from the very start. She does a perfect job of letting us into the hearts and minds of Chessy and Tate from the very start. My heart was even crying when they cried – she really made me care. I had to keep reminding myself that this was fiction and not real, but that just kind of takes the fun out of it.

After a ‘come to Jesus’ moment, Tate begins to understand that his marriage to Chessy is in danger and that it is up to him to do everything in his power to show her that he still loves her. It all comes to a (pretty predictable) climax when in the middle of a scene, Tate’s lack of attention leads to Chessy’s life being endangered.

As Chessy contemplates a permanent split from Tate, Tate does his best to hang on to his wife and correct the errors of his ways.

Taking It All is my favorite of the Surrender Trilogy. It is a short and quick read that goes by even faster because you will not want to put the book down.

Head over here for an excerpt!

Lora Leigh: Loving Lies

This is a book that I have read more than once – and every time I find something newloving lies lora leigh and interesting about it.

The first time that I read this book, I don’t think that I really understood it. While the book does not make me angry as it did the first time that I read it, it’s not all cozy and warm feelings like it usually is with other romance books. Lora really takes you on a journey, one that you might have to experience over and over again until you think you have reached where the author wanted you to go.

Jessie Benton has been in love with Slade Colter since she was 16 years old. On her 21st birthday she finally gets him – for two days. He leaves town, marries another woman, and five years later he has come back to claim Jessie’s heart again. This time Jessie is ready, she can tell that he is still keeping secrets from her and she doesn’t plan on giving in to him easily. She has plans to make him suffer as much as she has.

It really made me think about my own life and how I might react if someone I was in love with did something that to some would be completely unforgiveable. Would I be able to get over the past and see the hope of the future, or would I be so focused on the past?

Also, it brings up the idea of where the line is on denials in romance novels. A few times through out the book, Jessie expresses that she does not want to get freaky but Slade went ahead and did the deed with her. Of course by the end of the session Jessie was a willing participant, but when does it stop being seduction and it turns into coercion? Hmmmm. It gives you something to think about.

This book is very short and very hot straight from the beginning and take your emotions through a rollercoaster ride.

Head over here for a synopsis and excerpt of the book.