Book Review: Tailored for Trouble by Mimi Jean Pamfiloff

As I started writing this review, I saw that this book is part of the Happy Pants series. And while I remember reading something about Happy Pants in the book, I feel like Happy Pants is one of the funnest names for a series I’ve ever heard. Which is just a bonus, since I really enjoyed this book.

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I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

One-Sentence Synopsis
A woman is hired by the man who got her fired, but she has a hard time trusting what his motives for hiring her are. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

Rage Quit
Taylor has decided to go out on her own after being fired from a job due an exec who insulted her and her boss. Unfortunately, her new venture isn’t doing so well, and she’s close to having to call it quits. So she’s shocked when that same exec, Bennett, wants to enlist her services to help him win a deal with a well known woman business owner. It takes some convincing, since Taylor really can’t stand him after their first meeting, but eventually she goes with it because she needs the money.

Trust Issues
She has a really hard time trusting Bennett at first, and for good reason. He’s aloof and secretive and from what she’s seen, he’s not the easiest guy to get along with. Her business centers around teaching executives how to treat their employees well, and she has a hard time seeing where Bennett does any of that. At least at first. It doesn’t help that she finds out that some of Bennett’s business pals have made a bet (one that he’s part of) to see who could sleep with her first.

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Air of Mystery
The story is told almost completely from Taylor’s viewpoint, and it drove me nuts not to know what Bennett was thinking. At the same time, I really enjoyed the mystery of finding out things as Taylor did. From the beginning, you get the feeling that things aren’t really what they seem with Bennett, but it’s never clear if he’s a good guy or a not-so-good guy. Taylor makes things more complicated when she sets out to sabotage his business meeting as revenge for his part in the bet.

Travel Makes for Hot Bedfellows
The story also as a road trip trope, as Bennett makes Taylor travel with him to conduct business, ultimately leading to his meeting with the woman he’s hoping to strike a deal with. Of course, Taylor starts to change her mind about him, and we start to see a softer side of Bennett.

Inner and Outer Voices
Taylor’s inner monologue was pretty hysterical, though sometimes it made her seem a bit nutty. There was some great banter and dialogue, and though the story was mostly lighthearted, there were a few punches to the feels that gave it some major poignancy.

The Romance Factor
I loved the conflict in this book and the major enemies to lovers vibe happening. I also loved seeing the glimpses of Bennett that showed that he actually cared for Taylor. This book hit all of my catnip buttons. 5/5

The Steam Factor
There really isn’t a lot of sex in this story, but there is quite of bit of penis ogling. Taylor, in fact, has a really hard time not focusing on Bennett’s penis. And while sometimes it got a little old, it was mostly entertaining. 4/5

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Final Thoughts
This book had almost everything I love in a story and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’m happy to see that it’s the first in the Happy Pants series, so I’ll definitely be on the lookout for other Happy Pants books.

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Book Review: Wanting It All by Christi Barth

This is the 2nd book in the Naked Men series, and it seems to be standard thus far that it takes me a little bit to get into them. I’m not always sold at the beginning, but there’s something about them that keeps me going and then I end up really enjoying the story by the end.

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I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

One-Sentence Synopsis
A woman set on finding the right mate falls for a man who has no interest in keeping his extracurriculars to one woman. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

From Geek to Sex God
I had a hard time finding my rhythm with this book. Maybe that’s because it jumps right into things. Like, no real plot foreplay at all. Knox meets Madison in a chance encounter and is intrigued by her quirkiness. And also attracted to her. Which is all well and good, except that Knox is a man who has vowed to never settle down. After an accident years ago, he vowed that he’d shed his geekiness and pretty much have sex with as many women as possible.

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A Woman on a Mission
Madison is in town for two reasons: to meet her brother and to find a husband. The brother part is a little tricky since it’s a half brother who likely doesn’t know she exists. The husband part, in her mind, is easy. She just has to meet the right guy and get him to marry her. And in her opinion, Knox is the right guy.

Knox makes it clear he’s not looking for a long-term relationship and is not marriage material. Of course, his loins and male instinct tell the reader different, but Knox really tries to stick to his guns. However, Madison knows that when she wants something, she’ll get it. It’s just a matter of making Knox realize that he wants to be with her forever.

How Is He a Catch?
By the end of the story, I was totally enjoying the plot, but that’s not to say I didn’t have some issues. Knox struck me as super misogynistic and wasn’t really that likable. I suppose he was supposed to have charisma, and he did do some things to redeem himself, but I kept thinking that Madison was kind of weird for thinking Knox was the guy for her.

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Too Naive
Madison was hit and miss for me. She started out cute and quirky, but after awhile, I found her to be more than a little naive. Not only does she believe she can change Knox’s mind completely, but she also has this idea that a half brother that she’s never seen before and who doesn’t know she exists is going to instantly love her because they’ll have an automatic sibling connection. Yeah…not so much. She does have a moment where she realizes she might be wrong about a lot of things, and rather than sympathy, I kind of just thought it was about time she got into the mental space of the real world.

The Romance Factor
While the characters drove me nuts at times, I did like the way their relationship developed over time and how sweet Knox ended up being to Madison. In fact, he does something pretty great for her and then gives her moral and mental support when things get a rough. 3/5

The Steam Factor
So spicy, this one. Madison and Knox seem to have a thing for having sex in some interesting places, like a boat, the park, an office. Nothing like riding the edge of exhibitionism to get the heat rising. 5/5

Final Thoughts
The story was entertaining and I’m all about the bro-friends that form the Naked Men group. I also liked that Madison was able to find a group of friends who helped support her through her transition to the city and her mission to get Knox to put a ring on it. An entertaining read overall.

Book Review: Welcoming the Bad Boy by Annie Rains

A little bit of housekeeping first. I’m going to start publishing these reviews twice a week instead of the current frequency. Life has started to get a bit busier, and though I considered giving the blog up altogether, I thought it would be better if I just pulled back and gave myself some breathing room instead. So I’m going to publish on Tuesdays and Thursdays, which seems reasonable enough and gives me time to get and stay caught up. In theory.

Now, on to the review…

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I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

One Sentence Synopsis
A preacher’s daughter with a hidden wild side and a military dog trainer find a strong mutual attraction despite their differences. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

Secrets of a Good Girl
Valerie’s father, the local preacher, expects her to be a good girl, to serve the members of the church, and to find an upstanding, if not boring, man to be with. But while Valerie does her best to please her father, she has a secret: she expresses her wild side through the romance novels she writes under a pseudonym. Unfortunately, she’s currently dealing with a case of writer’s block and could use some inspiration.

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And Your Little Dog Too…
Inspiration shows up in the form of Griffin, a military K-9 trainer who decides to help train the little dog that Valerie is caring for while her owner is in a nursing home following hip surgery. Griffin is edgy and hot and someone she knows her father wouldn’t approve of. Which makes the fact that she wants him even more exciting. Also, he doesn’t just set her loins on fire…he also sparks her writing mojo.

Seeking Affection
Not only was this book romantic, but there are so many other emotions as well. Valerie is extremely sweet and spends her free time volunteering at the local nursing home, reading books to the elderly (she gets roped into reading her own book which was kind of funny and a bit awkward). Her relationship with her father is a bit heartbreaking. She wants him to show her warmth, but since her mother died when she was young, he’s been aloof, treating the members of his church more kindly than he does his daughter.

Memories
Griffin has his own issues. His mother has early onset Alzheimers, and he’s trying to come to terms with the fact that she never recognizes him when he visits her. It doesn’t help that their last interaction when she was cognizant involved them fighting and him running away. Now Griffin doesn’t know how to make her understand that he’s sorry for what happened and ask for her forgiveness when she doesn’t see him as her son in her declined mental state.

Summer Fling
During the dog training, Valerie also helps take care of Griffin’s mother, showing him ways to connect with her. The two form a relationship and end up letting their mutual attraction take over. Valerie embraces the fact that an affair is just what she needs to finish her book, even if she “knows” that it’s just a summer fling and that Griffin has no intentions of sticking around in the fall.

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The Romance Factor
Griffin and Valerie as characters were amazing, and together they formed this cute, slightly angsty couple who didn’t think the other would want anything long term. Their relationship wasn’t without its issues, though, and the conflict just made it that more emotional and worth the journey. 5/5

The Steam Factor
Though the sexy times were super sweet, they were also pretty tame. 3/5

Final Thoughts
There were many tears in this one. The topic of Alzheimer’s disease is one that makes me sad anyway, so the theme broke my heart. But there are also family relationships and friendships and other tragedies that are explored throughout the book. I loved the story as a whole, though, and loved that it took me through a whole range of emotions.

Book Review: Waking Up With a Billionaire by Katie Lane

This NetGalley request was kind of spontaneous and stemmed from the fact that I’m a fan of billionaire novels…or at least I’ll give anything billionaire a try. Plus, I found the cover to be pretty, and yes, I do sometimes judge a book by its cover.

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I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

One-Sentence Synopsis
A billionaire known for his painting is blocked until the woman he helped save from an abusive relationship agrees to pose for him. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

Prologue to the Plot
Grayson and Chloe met when he helped save her from a violent domestic situation. Chloe hadn’t been very friendly to Grayson, and since coming back from that encounter, Grayson hasn’t been able to paint the beautiful nudes he’s known for. Now, his work is needed for a benefit gala, but he’s blocked, so much so that he can’t even paint a bowl of fruit.

Like One of Your French Girls
Chloe needs money. She wants to run away to Europe to avoid some big secret she’s hiding and someone she’s hiding from, but she can’t afford it. So when she decides to offer herself up as a model for Grayson’s painting, she’s surprised when he turns her down and says he can’t paint. Chloe figures she’s going to have to find another way, but when Grayson “kidnaps” her to keep her from leaving until his new sister-in-law gets back from her honeymoon, Chloe ends up realizing how safe she feels in his home. She also decides she’s going to help him get his painting mojo back.

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Get It Together
The story was enjoyable and fun. Apparently, Grayson was sweet and shy in previous books, but he has a bit of a stiff edge in this one. Chloe is sarcastic and damaged, and her mystery unfolds slowly as the book progresses. We find out fairly early what she’s running from. I won’t spoil what it is, but I found it to be fairly anticlimactic. It seems Chloe is a fan of self-made drama and lets her mind and her assumptions get away from her.

The two characters work well together, and I loved the pre-existing angst they share for each other that carries over into their current relationship.

Men and Their Ways
Maybe I was in the mood for some more fighting, or maybe I’m just irritated when people do things they’re expressly asked not to, but I got super annoyed when Chloe said she didn’t want or photos shared or she didn’t want to become a model, and Grayson and his brothers were like, “Too bad, so sorry.” I mean, she rolled with it, but seriously, guys. Have a little respect.

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The Romance Factor
There’s a sense that Grayson and Chloe connected from the start, and possibly that Grayson may have fallen quickly, but I thought the progression of their relationship and the way they sorted out their feelings was sweet. Chloe pulls the whole “I have to leave to save you” BS that annoys me, but it does up the angst quotient, so it was okay for what it was. 4/5

The Steam Factor
While maybe not as steamy as some things, there is one scene in particular that turned on every single heat sensor in my brain. When painting meets sensuality, things explode in the best way ever. 5/5

Final Thoughts
This book can be read as a standalone, though admittedly, I had a hard time keeping members of the family and aspects of the Beaumont family tree straight. Overall, though, I liked the story and how everything played out. I’d definitely recommend it, and I’d be interested in going back and reading the stories of the other two brothers as well.

Book Review: To Have and to Hold by Lauren Layne

It’s been so fun watching Lauren Layne’s writing evolve. This latest series, The Wedding Belles, feels new and different from her older stuff but is still fun and brings the awesome dialogue and banter that she’s so good at.

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I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

One-Sentence Synopsis
A wedding planner goes head to head with the brother of her latest bride, a control freak who wants her help exposing his sister’s fiance as a fraud. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

The Client Is Not Always Right
Brooke is making a fresh start in New York. She’s always been a great wedding planner, but when her ex-fiance was arrested for being a con man, her reputation and her heart took a huge hit. New York is giving her the chance to get away from that by working with the city’s premier wedding planning agency, The Wedding Belles. She’s thrown directly into her first assignment and finds herself instantly attracted to the brother of the bride, who holds the purse strings and has major control issues.

Let’s Make a Deal
Seth knows his sister’s fiance is shady, and it doesn’t sit well with him that he didn’t even know she was serious about someone much less ready to marry him. So he decides to get the wedding planner in on his micromanaging, asking her to give him details of everything she discusses with his sister. Brooke is willing to make this deal as long as he keeps his distance from the planning itself. His presence puts the bride on edge, and Brooke’s goal is to make the bride as happy as possible.

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Hard-Headed, Yet Entertaining
The two of them butt heads in the way that stubborn characters so often do, and the sexual tension between them doesn’t help. It doesn’t help that Seth has sworn off relationships since he was burned by a woman he thought he wanted to marry and Brooke has both professional and trust issues with dating him.

Seth and Brooke were fun to read, and they brought that whole “I want you but I’m not ready to be with you” conflict to the max. Their personal demons definitely played into it. Seth can’t handle what he can’t control and Brooke pretends to be happy go lucky all the time but still has a lot of pain regarding the blindside she received at her own wedding. It was a nice dose of reality that even though she knew her ex had swindled people and lied to her, she still had feelings for him when the story began, despite her anger and hurt, and that played into all the things she had to work through.

Sides and Quirks
I’m also a fan of side stories and side characters. Not only did I really like Seth’s sister, I loved the subplot of his best friend being into her. Another quirk I thought was fun? There sees to be a bit of a theme with food being thrown whenever Brooke pisses Seth off.

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The Romance Factor
There is such great angst between Seth and Brooke that it breaks the heart a little bit when they have their break-up. They both have to deal with their own personal issues before they can be together, and the way that Seth tries to get her back definitely falls under the category of “go big or go home.” 4/5

The Steam Factor
Though not overly steamy or explicit, there were a few really sensual moments. 3/5

Final Thoughts
Layne does a fine job of giving us a great story while still setting the stage for future books and allowing is to start getting to know the other wedding planners in the series. I’m excited to keep reading this series and love that each Belle has a different personality and brings something different to the business.

Book Review: Full Heat by Carla Swafford

The first book in the Brothers of Mayhem series had a good ending but there was also something of a cliffhanger. This story is about the hot headed brother of the heroine and it brings the same grit and dark themes. Trigger warning for strong references to rape and abuse.

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I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

One-Sentence Synopsis
A woman hires the Brothers of Mayhem to be her bodyguard while she and her business is threatened by a rival gang. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

Biker Bodyguards
Mary Jane and her business partner are being threatened and extorted by a local gang. Her business partner suggests she enlist the services of the Brothers of Mayhem. Though the brothers are known for their own violent ways, under their current leadership, they’re offering bodyguard services as a way to go legit. Their leader, Storm Ryder, is reluctant to help Mary Jane for his own personal reasons, but when it becomes apparent her life truly is in danger, he takes her to clubhouse so he can keep watch on her, day and night.

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No Touching
Storm doesn’t like to be touched. Ever. After several years in jail being abused and raped by other inmates, he can’t handle physical contact unless he’s initiating it. But he finds himself opening up to Mary Jane and letting her get under his skin. She’s a free spirit, having grown up in a commune, and every time he does something he thinks is going to push her away, she surprises him by welcoming and accepting him for who he is.

Daddy Issues
Personal and club matters are made more complicated by the fact that Storm’s dad is back in town, a man who physically abused him and his sister and killed their mother. Unfortunately, the man who actually raised Storm seems to be siding with his old man, and besides an impending war with the other gang, there’s also a lot of unrest within the Brothers. It’s not until Mary Jane takes him to the commune where she grew up that he realizes there is a place and a person that could actually make him happy.

Emotionally Dark
The motorcycle club is violent and criminal, and yet even with this as a backdrop to the story, there’s still a strong romantic and emotional element. It’s hard sometimes to see Storm as an actual hero because of the alpha male harshness, but once we get into his emotions and how painful his time in jail was for him, it’s easier to understand where some of that violence comes from. The other characters, not so much. Storm’s father is loathesome. I actually liked the rival gang better than I did him, and I hope he ends up with some sort of really painful comeuppance.

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The Romance Factor
Mary Jane knows what Storm is like, knows that he pushes her away, and yet she keeps trying to get through and show how much she cares for him. It’s not an easy journey for either of them, but I loved the amount of conflict and emotion they exude in their relationship. 4/5

The Steam Factor
Storm and Mary Jane have a lot of sex. Pretty much every time they’re alone in his room, which is frequent since that’s where she’s hiding out. It’s super spicy! 5/5

Final Thoughts
Motorcycle club books can’t necessarily be marketed as “sweet,” but there were a lot of sweet parts in this one. There’s also an appearance by Cassidy and Thorne from the first book that plays into Storm’s story. Gritty and disturbing, this book still got me in the feels and ended up being a strong read.

Book Review: Her Survivor by Vonnie Davis

PTSD has become prevalent in a lot of the romance novels I’ve read, and it’s usually well done. This book spends quite a bit of┬átime talking about it, which I appreciated because I think it’s a good way to highlight and teach readers more about it. It’s not a side thing..it’s almost the main theme of the story.
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I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

One-Sentence Synopsis
A man who lost his leg serving as a SEAL goes to a small town to deal with his PTSD where he meets a pretty woman dealing with secrets and trauma of her own. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

Dealing With the Scars
Dustin lost his leg and gained a good deal of facial scarring from his last tour of duty, but the physical issues are nothing compared to the PTSD he’s had since getting back. When his SEAL buddy, ZQ, invites him to his quiet ranch for some rest and relaxation, he takes him up on the offer, only to find that the man has offered his architectural services to the local bookstore owner. ┬áThis pisses Dustin off at first, especially when he finds himself attracted to the woman, knowing there’s no way a woman is going to want him with all of his issues.
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Hiding Out
Kelcee loves the little bookstore she inherited and her small town, but there’s also an underlying fear that she’s going to be found by someone in her past who she knows wants her dead. Still, she’s feisty and doesn’t take crap from people, and so when her first interaction with Dustin involves a heavy dose of rudeness on his part, she lets him know it. But when Dustin calls to apologize and they start to get to know each other, he becomes the one person she feels safe with.

 

Love and Trauma
Their new relationship is a little rocky. Dustin has a lot of hang ups, but he also gets violent when he has nightmares, and it terrifies him to know he could hurt Kelcee. He’s also afraid to go out in public and it takes him awhile to realize that Kelcee doesn’t care about any of that. She just wants to be with him and help him through his PTSD as much as she can. He pushes her away, but when her life becomes endangered, he realizes how much he needs her in his life.

 

An Issue with Multiple Faces
The PTSD was shown in different forms to highlight how different people deal with it. Several of the side characters have it, including characters I believe we’re going to see in future stories. Dustin and Kelcee both have it, and it’s definitely a contrast to see how each one handles it.

 

Winning Dialogue
I enjoyed this story even though there were a few things that annoyed me. On the positive side, I really liked the small town feel of the story and most of the banter between Kelcee and Dustin. She was compassionate and caring towards him, but when he got out of line, she didn’t hesitate to tell him where to go. I also enjoyed the side characters, but they seemed to add a lot of sub-plots to the story, and at times I felt they took away from the romance between Dustin and Kelcee, which was the part I really wanted.

 

Curves For the Win
I liked that Kelcee was a plus-sized heroine, and some of her feelings about that and how people treated her were handled realistically and thoughtfully. Some people were mean, others didn’t care. Kelcee handled it well, as she’d learn to accept herself and wasn’t self conscious when things go intimate. I did get a little tired of people, including her, referring to her “teacup ass.” While endearing at first, and though I understand it was kind of one of those cute running gag things, it felt a bit overused.

 

The Romance Factor
Dustin lets Kelcee in and hopes to be able to have a real relationship with her. The fact that he tried to hide his PTSD was kind of sweet (if maybe not the right thing to do). When he pulls away because he’s afraid he’ll hurt her in one of his violent moments, the pain and conflict between the two gave me such feels. 5/5

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The Steam Factor
Though not super spicy, there are a few sensual moments between the sheets. 3/5

Final Thoughts
One thing that stood out to me was that I got a feel for the characters mostly through their action and dialogue, and though I usually like to get the inner thoughts and emotions to a higher degree, the way this book was written really worked for me. Even with minor annoyances, there were some great quirks (the older woman who reads BDSM novels was awesome) and I enjoyed the story overall. I’m looking forward to see how the other characters are handled in future novels.