Book Review: This One Moment by Stina Lindenblatt

I seem to have fallen into a kick of reading romance novels that have a dark aspect and/or mystery to them. I’m not complaining, but one of these days I’m going to need to find something super lighthearted to balance this all out.


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

One-Sentence Synopsis
A music star goes home when he finds out his best friend from high school is in a coma despite the fact that the town holds bad memories for him. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

Embracing Those Repressed Memories
Nolan is shocked when one of his friends calls to tell him that his best friend and the girl he was in love with for years is in a coma, having been attacked in a shady section of their hometown. Even though Nolan hasn’t been home in five years and hasn’t talked to Hailey (the one in the coma) in all that time, he goes back to see her, even though he knows that doing so could trigger memories of the night his father killed his mom and sister.

One Way to Masochist
Hailey never confessed her own feelings to Nolan, but she was hurt when he left without keeping in touch. Yet she seems to accept his reasons and tries to enjoy the fact that he is back and she gets to spend at least a little time with him. She “knows” he doesn’t return her feelings and that he’ll be going back to L.A. soon, so she tries to guard herself against feeling that hurt all over again.


Everyone’s Taking Crazy Pills
Part of their time together includes trying to solve the mystery of who attacked her and put her into a coma. She can’t remember anything from the attack or the few days leading up to it. Other weird things happen, and I kind of liked that you never know which things relate to her attack and which things just sort of happen.  Fair warning: between Nolan’s past and Hailey’s attack, this story contains some dark themes. It kind of feels like a small town story, but for a small town, a lot of crazy stuff happens (the town is probably actually a city and I just read it wrong).

The Fame Life
Another wrench is thrown into their reunion when the media gets ahold of their relationship and Nolan’s fans start threatening Hailey for stealing him from his fake media girlfriend. The paparazzi also get their hands on the info regarding Nolan’s past, and things kind of get nutty from there. Stupid media.



I enjoyed the trope of best friends who love each other but are too afraid to tell each other the truth. It’s one of those angsty things that could be solved with a little communication, but I can relate to the fear of telling a friend you have feelings for them and potentially ruining the relationship, which is the situation that Nolan and Hailey find themselves in.

Stage Names Are Real
I understood most of what was going on with Nolan’s rock star status, but it seemed weird that when his real name came out that it turned into a thing. A lot of celebs have a real name they don’t use and it tends not to be a huge deal. While I can buy it was kind of an issue where his bandmates were concerned, it seems weird that it wasn’t just presented to the general public that he’d chosen a different stage name.

The Romance Factor
The romance is strong for me because I love this type of story (best friends to lovers). I thought the parts where they were together were epically sweet and it was sad when Nolan left to go back to L.A. I had one of those reader moments when I was like “Dude, are you really going to be that stupid?” The question wasn’t so much as to why he was going back to L.A. (he had a career he enjoyed and all that), but why he didn’t ask Hailey to go with him. 4/5

The Steam Factor
Steamy, but not frequent. The sexy times were titillating, though they still had the melancholy feel of the rest of the story. 4/5

Final Thoughts
This was not a happy cheery story by any means, but I still enjoyed it. Good writing and the emotions from the characters came through strong, which is always a win for me.

Book Review: Highland Awakening by Jennifer Haymore

I read and reviewed the first book in this series last November and really enjoyed it, so I was excited when NetGalley told me this one was available. Though the first one started a little slow for me, this one was up and going right away. I mean, a meet cute in a brothel? I’ll take it!


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

One-Sentence Synopsis
A socially awkward and anxious lady is attracted to a Scottish man who, to her annoyance, seems to know what’s best for her and makes it known as he pursues her. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

Romance Writers…So Scandalous
Right from the start I liked Esme. Not only is she super awkward, but she has a touch of social anxiety as well, something she fights against so as not to bring scandal and shame to her family who have already had their share of attention from the rumor mill.  She also has a secret…she’s a romance writer who’s been published under a pseudonym to hide her identity. This secret career leads her to shady places for research, including the brothel she happens to be in when she meets Camden for the first time.

Good Intentions, Bad Execution
I liked Camden too, but honestly? He doesn’t do a lot of things that are likable. He breaks into Esme’s house and sneaks into her room, which is just felt creepy. He breaks her trust. He sets her up for humiliation because he thinks it’s what’s best for her (and it gets him what he wants). And he disregards her feelings and wishes a few times. Sure, it turns out for the best, but dude! At least Esme calls him out on his bad behavior. His saving grace is that he grew up with a real butthole of a father and doesn’t really know how to “relationship” like normal people. He’s not a bad guy, and you find out later the lengths he went to to protect and take care of his sister. He’s just misguided and in need of some discipline.


Villain on the Loose
Besides the drama of Esme’s initial engagement to another guy and all of Cam’s shenanigans, there’s a mystery plot happening at the same time. Members of the group Cam is part of, the Highland Knights, are being murdered, and Cam has no leads as to who it is, nor does he know who’s going to be targeted next.

The Romance Factor
I think I was as conflicted as Esme was about Cam doing things that were totally douchie in the name of love. I understood where he was coming from and found some of the things to be sweet and romantic. But my independent woman side wanted to add side notes on why a man shouldn’t ever do those things to try to get a woman. Still, there’s some great feels and aww-inducing moments in this one, and I definitely got the romance. 4/5

The Steam Factor
When Camden gets up in Esme’s business, he really gets up there. I got a kick out of the fact that he’s cautious with her the first time they get down, but then he reads her books and is like, “I think you’re kind of a freak. And I like that.” And then they continue the freakiness. The freakiness isn’t super detailed, but it’s hotly implied. 5/5

Charlie Sheen - Hot Collar

Final Thoughts
I had all the warm fuzzies with this one, and then I had anticipatory fuzzies when the epilogue gave us a hint at what the next story in the series is about. I like this world and these characters a lot, and if this one was any indication, they seem to just be getting better.

Book Review: Atone by Beth Yarnall

Just a quick housekeeping note. I few weeks back, I put a new page on the blog regarding solicitations and requests to review books. I’d been receiving a lot of authors asking me to read their books, and I wanted to address where I stand on this. This doesn’t need to be read by everyone (obviously if you’re a reader and not a writer, you don’t even need to worry about it), but anyone wanting to ask me to review their book should know that even though there are exceptions, it will not be my practice moving forward to accept all requests.

Trigger warnings for this book: There are very dark and heavy themes and descriptions of sex trafficking, abuse, and rape.

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

One-Sentence Synopsis
A man recently released from prison for a crime he didn’t commit is now working to help a young woman find her sister who was drawn into a dark world that the woman knows much about. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.
I read the first book in this series, and while it was okay, I remember feeling like it had a very young adult vibe. The second book revolves around Beau, the brother who Cora fought to release from prison by proving his innocence, and Vera, a troubled and secretive woman who needs the investigation agency to help her find her sister. Unlike the first book, there was no YA vibe. This one is dark and disturbing, and yet somehow manages to still be romantic.

Damaged Halves of a Whole
Beau and Vera are both damaged. Beau isn’t quite over his murdered girlfriend, not just because she was taken from him, but because their relationship before she was killed was rocky. When he meets Vera, he sees another damaged soul and wants to be her champion, much like his sister championed him and worked tirelessly to get him out of jail.

Vera is also drawn to Beau, but she can’t get over the things in her past that she feels make her “less than” and not worthy of his love. She keeps most of her history from him as long as possible, thinking that when he finds out about her past, he won’t want to be with her. Not only that, but the things she was involved with, which tie in directly with her sister’s disappearance, are things that can get her killed if she’s discovered by the man at the center of it all.


Dark Side
This is definitely not a lighthearted fun read. It’s dark and sad and highlights the nasty world of sex trafficking. Vera is a strong woman. I liked her, I felt bad for her, and I wanted to see her “win” and get revenge on the man who abused her. Beau seems to understands her pain and does his best to handle her carefully, though he doesn’t always succeed due to his own background which affects the way he sees things. I found the characters to be realistic and poignant, and it was their characterization that made the book enjoyable for me.

The Romance Factor
It’s hard to resolve the theme of this book with the fact that the book is a contemporary romance, but the author makes it work. Beau and Vera share a bond that no one else can really understand, and it shows by Vera’s willingness to fully trust him and no one else, and Beau’s determination to stay with her and protect her no matter what. 4/5


The Steam Factor
I struggled a little bit with the sex in this book, not because the sex scenes weren’t well written, because they were, and they were definitely steamy. But it was hard for me to reconcile the fact that Vera had been brutally used and abused and yet was still somehow completely sexually functional when it came to Beau. I understand that psychologically, this is possible, that some people can compartmentalize and still have a healthy sex life with someone they trust. I just expected Vera to have a bit more difficulty with it than she did. 4/5

Final Thoughts
Even though I thought the first book was just “okay,” I really enjoyed this one. It’s a heavy read, but it’s worth it and sends a message of redemption and hope that resonated with me.

Book Review: A Whisper of Desire by Bronwen Evans

How have I not heard of this series before? The Disgraced Lords feels like something I should have had in my life before the 4th book. I owe a thanks to NetGalley and the good people at Loveswept for hooking me up with this one. The book can be read as a standalone, but there are references to other characters and there’s an ongoing mystery that weaves through the series.

Trigger Warning
There is a description of rape in this book.

Format Note
I’m going to start playing around with format, as I’d like this blog to evolve a bit. Just so you know I haven’t been hijacked by romance reading gnomes.


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

One-Sentence Synopsis
A duke and his friend’s sister wake up to find themselves compromised into marriage, and though they try to make the most of it, they’re also determined to find the person who put them in that position. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

Not Quite the Ladies’ Man
Let’s start with Maitland, the man known as the Cold Duke because he doesn’t seem to enjoy women the way his friends do. He refuses to let himself fall in love or enjoy intimacy because his father had a bit of a problem that led to debauchery and syphilis. There’s also a thing that happened to him in his past that has kind of messed up his head. Of course, not all of that is revealed right away, and at first he just seems like a cold fish.

A Thing Called Love
Marisa wants to marry for love. So when she finds herself having to marry Maitland, who makes it clear he does not nor will he ever love her, she feels like her life is ruined. But she’s a trooper and decides to make the most of it, seeing in Maitland a lonely soul with whom she feels she could at least be friends with.

Give That Woman the Kama Sutra
I loved that Marisa realized very quickly that she enjoyed sex. A lot. And there was no shame in it, nor was it awkward that she wanted to explore everything about it…well, other than the fact that Maitland, as regimented as he was, only wanted to do it every third night and only missionary. But a sex positive heroine makes my day.


Makin’ It Weird
Maitland’s personal issues affect Marisa and make her think that there’s something wrong with her, so she seeks advice from pretty much everybody about this…including her brother. While I’m all about being comfortable about talking about sex with people, going to her brother for advice and giving details about what did or did not happen in the bedroom seemed a little strange. Granted, the brother was very uncomfortable and told her he really didn’t want to hear it, but still….


The Romance Factor
Because Maitland runs hot and cold, Marisa’s angst level is high. She wants to stay with him in his bed and cuddle, but he’s having none of that. Of course deep down, he totally wants to cuddle, but he’s way too scared of turning out like his father if he gives in to all those baser urges. But of course, you know he loves her like a quarter of the way into the book, even if he doesn’t realize it until close to the end. 5/5

The Steam Factor
This book brought it when it came to the sexy times, especially with regards to Marisa wanting to experiment. It’s even mentioned in the story that many women weren’t expected to enjoy sex at that time, so to have Marisa be a character that had absolutely no shame about wanting to try new things was awesome. The book definitely leaned to the side of erotic romance, with detailed and numerous steamy scenes, but it only added to the romance of the story. 6/5

Final Thoughts
Besides the love story, there was a mystery and some danger and a bunch of side characters and some really sad things. This book covered everything, and yet did so in an uncluttered, coherent fashion. I ended up being awake way past my bedtime because I couldn’t stop reading. I’ll be going back and reading the first ones in the series, and I look forward to seeing how the later ones pan out.

A Bad Boy for Christmas by Jessica Lemmon

Okay, so we’re not even past Halloween yet, but when it comes to holiday romances, I don’t think there’s a timeline. And since Netgalley has a deadline with which they archive things, I had no excuse not to jump on this one right away.


I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

One-Sentence Synopsis
A young woman hurt by a breakup is determined to be independent, which means convincing herself that she needs to not get too involved with an ex-soldier turned gardener. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

The Good Stuff
I kind of love me some damsel in distress, and there’s a touch of that in this book when Faith hears something outside her apartment one night and Connor insists on staying at her place to make sure she’s safe. Connor is alpha male, but not over the top. He’s also a damaged hero who has things in his past that, while not necessarily secrets, are not things he wants to talk about.

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I enjoyed the banter between the two, and my heart kind of broke for Faith who had never had a real Christmas but had done her best to enjoy it in previous years. Connor did everything he could to make the holidays special for her, and I’m like “Girl, you gotta marry him! Now!”

Things That Made Me Go Hmmm
I wanted the damsel in distress thing to go on longer than it did, because the whole alpha male in protection thing was really doing it for me. Alas, it ended too soon, but that didn’t detract from the romance of the rest of the story, and there was still plenty of conflict to deal with in other areas of both their lives.

Faith is constantly eating sugar. Constantly. When she’s upset, she eats sugary cakes. When she’s happy, she eats sugary cakes. Of course she’s blessed with a good metabolism, but I still couldn’t help thinking that she was walking that sugar coma/diabetic tightrope. I know, I know…it’s just a fun romance and I shouldn’t take it so seriously. And it didn’t really detract from my enjoyment of the book, but still…diabetes.


Oh, and I spent most of the time reading the book craving a damn cupcake, so there was that too.

The Romance Factor
Reluctant love at its finest. Faith doesn’t want to lose the sense of independence she’s started to cultivate, even when Connor gives her an ultimatum. And we all know how well ultimatums go when it comes to these matters. 4/5

The Steam Factor
There is definitely some hot scenes in this book, often times standing up. There’s nothing taboo, but the sexy times in this one could use a hand held fan at the least. 4/5

Final Thoughts
Once again, I’m late to the party, because even though I know I have at least one of the other books in this series, I haven’t yet read it. And now I have to, because of course there were hints at a future story in this series and I have to get caught up. But this book still worked at a standalone, and rather than feeling lost with regards to plot, I was tantalized by the other characters and the hints of their stories.

Scandalous Desires by Elizabeth Hoyt

Though I love this series, I wasn’t as enthusiastic about diving into this one, mostly because I hadn’t been sold on the hero when he appeared in the previous books. The guy was kind of a douche, and though I had faith that Hoyt would work her magic, it was still a little bit daunting at first.


One-Sentence Synopsis
A pirate has to protect his daughter and the woman he ruined, not expecting his attraction to her to turn into anything more than lust. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

The Good Stuff
No more will I lose faith in this author. By the time I got to the middle of the book, I loved Mickey. Like all romance heroes, he had a sympathetic backstory that made me do a 180 on my previous opinion. However, he really kind of maintains his bad boy persona through the whole book.


I kind of loved that Silence was willing to go to extremes to care for a child she’d only taken in and that other characters seemed to like her right away. It definitely helped emphasize the bad boy/good girl thing she and Mickey had going on.

The Romance Factor
Silence is kind of a sad character who’s had a lot of bad things happen to her in her recent adult years. Mickey had a lot of bad things happen in his childhood. The way these two interact is still fun, with a lot of foreplay, a good girl turning to the bad boy trope, and some sweet angst. 5/5


The Steam Factor
Besides the normal frequency of the sexy times on Maiden Lane, I thought these felt a little more scandalous, mostly because Silence had been fairly innocent. Even having been married, her husband definitely hadn’t been as adventurous as Mickey. 5/5

Final Thoughts
Considering how much I ended up liking the pirate, I’m now more hopeful that the Duke of Wakefield will be bearable in his story.