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.

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: Reason to Believe by Gina Gordon

Talk about a premise you don’t see every day. This story involves a former escort and a porn producer. There was no way I wasn’t going to request this book when I read that synopsis.

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

One-Sentence Synopsis
A former escort who’s now a business consultant tries to come to terms with her feelings for an emotionally unavailable porn producer. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

Working Girl
Grace became an escort to make ends meet when her parents jacked up their finances, and was then kicked out of her house for doing so. Now that she’s out of the business and trying to make it as a consultant, she worries that one of her clients is going to find out about her past and it’s going to ruin her new career. It’s a dream come true when she scores a fairly permanent job that she loves, but then one of her scarier clients from her former profession shows up and things get uncomfortable.

Reliable Guy
Ben has been trying to prove himself to the man who raised him after his own mother turned her back on him, a man who happens to own a porn empire. He doesn’t necessarily like it though, and though he figures there’s something better out there, he can’t give up as long as he knows he’s being counted on.

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So Many Hang-ups
Grace and Ben had a former hookup, but they both want different things out of life. Ben can’t commit to someone when he has this porn gig on the side (and he’s also got trust issues, so there’s that). Grace wants a happily ever after, but she doesn’t want it with someone who’s going to remind her of who she was. Forget the fact that they’re super hot for each other, super jealous of outside factors, and completely compatible…that doesn’t matter because…well, it just doesn’t. For some reason.

Plots on the Side
There was a lot going on this book. First of all, there were several subplots, and though I’m not usually a fan of too many things happening, I thought everything tied beautifully into the central story of Grace and Ben. Besides that, it was also entertaining. Ben gets a college intern and has to talk in front of his class (and that turned into a whole thing). Then there’s the thing with the creepy guy/ex-john that Grace now has to see at work. There’s also a thing with Grace’s friend Sadie getting put in the hospital by a client. That doesn’t resolve, so I’m thinking Sadie will show up in another book?

Food for Thought
There were also a lot of emotional and mental themes that I thought were well-written and thought-provoking. Grace is conflicted. While she knows why she had to be an escort and she’s tried to remain detached from that work, it’s also apparent that she struggles with the guilt and shame of what she did (full disclosure, I’m one of those people who doesn’t think there should be shame in sex work, but I also know there is because of society and what not. I won’t get on a soapbox…much). Ben’s conflict comes in the fact that though he genuinely seems to know that the porn industry has its place, he doesn’t particularly like what he’s doing in it. Much of the thoughts and discussions stayed in a gray area where right and wrong were concerned, and that was something I really appreciated about this book.

Self Imposed Walls
I didn’t really understand why Grace and Ben were so reluctant to get together. I mean, I know they had their reasons, most of which had to do with their past, but it kind of felt like they were grasping at straws. In the beginning of the story it was a little annoying. By the end though, I was able to see how it all fit in to trust issues for life choice questions, so it was fine. Still though, working in the porn industry does not exclude you from having a normal love life. Just saying.

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Full Disclosure…Maybe
I also questioned Grace’s philosophy about disclosing her past. I mean, I think it was her choice either way if she disclosed or not. But she says that she wasn’t hiding it, that if she was asked point blank about her previous job, she’d tell the full truth. I suppose that could mean if someone asked her what she did before. However, all I could think was that how many employers are going to say “By the way, were you ever a prostitute?'” Because that would be super awkward.

The Romance Factor
Most of the time I get all melty when the hero or heroine does sweet things. Or when you can feel the angst between them. I usually don’t feel much when the hero is an outright ass. This story kind of flipped things for me. The angst didn’t really get me because, as stated above, I wasn’t really sure what the problem was. There were a few sweet things between them, but what really got me was when they were hurting each other. I don’t know why. I usually try to gloss that over, but in this case, I got punched in the feels in the scenes where they pushed each other way, possibly because it made the HEA that much more satisfying. 3/5

The Steam Factor
Spicy, but in kind of a rough, hate-sex kind of way. Also, considering the main characters were a porn director and an escort, the level of heat wasn’t as high as one might expect. It was well-written and blush-worthy though. 4/5

Final Thoughts
Though the HEA happened as we knew it would, I liked that things didn’t turn out perfectly and there were some things that were still left unresolved. I didn’t read the first book, but the characters from that one made appearances, and I felt like they hadn’t worked out all their issues either. I liked the sense of reality that gave the story. I’m hoping Sadie gets her story. I want to know that she turns out okay.

Book Review: Good Girl by Lauren Layne

I’d been reading a lot of hype about Good Girl since I follow the author on several different venues. I’m always excited for a Lauren Layne novel, and though this one felt a little different from her previous work, it was still enjoyable.

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

One-Sentence Synopsis
While hiding out from the media, a country singer falls for an attractive caretaker, not knowing he’s actually the owner of her hideaway. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

America’s Sweetheart…or Homewrecker
Jenny Dawson enjoys her career as a country singer sweetheart, but when the media starts calling her a homewrecker based on the lies of another country star, she goes into hiding at an old house in Louisiana that she remembered from her childhood as a musical retreat. It’s obvious from the start that Noah, the caretaker, doesn’t like her, but she figures she can avoid him for the time she’s going to be there.

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A Man With Issues
Noah is grumpy and kind of a dick in general. And he’s not just the caretaker, he’s also the owner. His parentage put him in two different worlds, a poorer world where he struggled and then, when his dad found him, the world of the wealthy. He’s hiding out too, from a psycho ex-fiance who doesn’t seem to understand the meaning of “done.” When he meets Jenny, he lets her think he’s just the caretaker.  Also, he’s convinced she’s a diva and decides that other than checking her out, he really doesn’t want to have anything to do with her.

That Caretaker is So Hot Right Now
You can definitely see where this is going. The trope is standard, and it’s not a secret that in close proximity, these two are going to get their hook up. But it’s in the details that this book is so enjoyable. Jenny is likable and sweet and not really the diva Noah seems to think she is. Contrary to what the media says, she’s not experienced, but she does have a wild side that she starts to think Noah could help her explore.

Though he redeems himself, Noah isn’t as good of a character. He’s written well, but he’s kind of a jerk, pushing Jenny away, then getting close to her only to push her away again. He’s confused, sure, and he’s dealing with the whole fall out of his cancelled wedding and cheating ex, but he made me so mad at the way he’d get all up in Jenny’s business and then completely ignore her. And he knew he was doing it too.

In the Mind of a Head Case
What redeems the romance is that the story switches between Jenny and Noah’s first person point of view, and so instead of just seeing Noah playing mind games with Jenny, we actually get inside his head to see his reasoning behind acting like a tool. Does it justify it? No, not really, but it does help us sympathize and it makes for more feels when we actually get to see him hurting as well. At least to a small degree.

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The Romance Factor
The romance was there, but it wasn’t as strong as I was expecting. There was an amazing break up scene at the end (before the HEA, of course), and though Jenny and Noah had some really cute moments, and even though I didn’t end up hating Noah, there were a lot of times I really wanted Jenny to just smack him. 3/5

The Steam Factor
There are some really good sexy times in this book. Even if Noah is an emotional mess, the chemistry between him and Jenny was hot and well written. I also liked Jenny’s adventurous nature and her calling Noah out on his slut shaming at one point. While the romance didn’t always mesh perfectly with the sex, it was still a strong point of the novel. Also, innovative use of zip ties gets brownie points. 4/5

Final Thoughts
While an enjoyable read, this wasn’t my favorite LL book. I wasn’t disappointed per se, it just didn’t grab me as much as some of her previous ones. I’ll still be looking forward to her next book in this series though. It was still a good afternoon read with a hot and sultry setting and cute dogs as co-stars. So not a full win…but still a win.

Book Review: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

I don’t often read YA, not because I have an issue with it, but because I usually prefer things on the sexier side. And I don’t read a lot of fantasy because…I just don’t. But I don’t care about genre or age when it comes to Beauty and the Beast tropes and retellings, so I checked this one out on audiobook. Get ready. I might gush a bit.

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One-Sentence Synopsis
A young woman is sent to marry and destroy the demon that was responsible for her mother’s death, thereby freeing her people from his reign. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

Slow Pace
Let me say first that this book wasn’t perfect. There were a lot of side stories and parts that seemed to drag on. But I tend to be more forgiving with audiobooks, as it’s a different way of reading and tends to go slow anyway. Also, when I thought of this as a movie, I’m pretty sure Tim Burton would have to direct it. I would totally pay to see it though.

Unwanted Responsibilities
Nyx has been raised with the knowledge that when of age, she’ll be sent to the home of the Gentle Lord, a demon who rules over her world and makes shady bargains with people, to be his wife. This is the result of a bargain her father made with him years ago, a bargain that got him what he wanted but also caused the death of their mother (which her father hadn’t foreseen). What her family hopes will happen is that Nyx will actually defeat the Gentle Lord by killing him. Nyx plans to try to do just that, though she assumes she’ll simply end up dead. Though resigned to her fate, unlike the “Beauty” in other stories, Nyx isn’t a kind and gentle girl. She’s actually bitter and angry that her father has put this on her. She hates her father and to an extent, her twin sister, who is coddled and loved by her father in a way she never was.

Supernatural Threesome
Ignifex, her new husband, isn’t what she expected. At first she hates him because that’s what she’s been raised to do (and also he’s a demon, so there’s that). But the more time she spends with him, the more her hate turns to something else. Ignifex is sarcastic and unapologetic for being the lord of bargains, but Nyx starts to find that she’s drawn to him. Matters are made more complicated by Ignifex’s shadow servant, Shade, who has the same face as Ignifex, though minus the demon eyes and with more of a death palor. Between Shade and Ignifex, Nyx finds her self in a strange situation where her affections are torn.

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Sunderings Never Turn Out Well
This world is so interesting. It blends stories of Greek mythology with demon lore. Nyx’s world is one that was sundered from the real world 900 years ago, so they don’t have a real sky, only a sky of white parchment. Part of the reason they want Nyx to defeat the Gentle Lord is because they hope it will undo the sundering. The way the author weaves this bit of world history in with Ignifex’s story is expert, and though I guessed a few of the secrets just based on the trope, there were some interesting twists that made this story unique.

Pretty Names
Nyx got my nerves a little bit, but no more than most young characters do. She’s torn between her eventual love for Ignifex and fulfilling the purpose for which she was raised (destroying him). There were so many times when as a reader, I was like “No! Don’t do that! You’re such a jerk….what are doing?” But the thing was, she didn’t know what I knew, so it was frustrating (and yes, I did get into this book that much). Ignifex was amazing. I loved his whole personality and the slow way in which Nyx fell in love with him. As for Shade, I guessed that he and Ignifex were part of the same whole, but it wasn’t entirely clear if I was right or not, so it kept me guessing.

A Touch of Creepiness
I said before that Tim Burton would have to direct this, and I wasn’t kidding, especially with regards to some of the creepier parts of the story. Nyx comes across fairly unsettling things, like the Gentle Lord’s previous wives (all dead now), and weird ghosty demon children who sing creepy songs at her. The way this was narrated made these parts unsettling and I loved it. It’s not often you get a blend of romance and subtle horror in one novel.

The Romance Factor
I swooned a bit over Ignifex and loved the slow build of emotion between him and Nyx. The romance in the little details, like her saving him from the darkness even though she hated him at the time and him cuddling her were sweet. There are also some great lines in this story, and dialogue which is beautifully written. Even though I know the outcome of every BatB story ever, I wasn’t sure how things were going to resolve, and the conflict towards the end had me in tears. 5/5

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The Steam Factor
This is a YA novel, and while some YAs have some sexy times, this one didn’t have any details. While Nyx and Ignifex were fairly sensual with each other in general, and it was made known when they finally “consummated” the marriage, the reader doesn’t see it happen. 1/5

Final Thoughts
The great story and good narration came together into an audiobook I had a really hard time stopping. This story is set in a beautiful world with flawed characters and puts a great twist on a classic fairy tale. While BatB is my favorite trope, I’m pretty much a fan of all fairy tale retellings, so my mission will be to acquire the other books by this author. I bought a novella and put a hold on another one of the author’s books through my digital library. I want to immerse myself in this world and I definitely plan on reading this one again.

Book Review: Never Sweeter by Charlotte Stein

I realize that not everyone is going to have my same reaction to this book, so please take what I say as my opinion and not a guarantee that you’ll feel the same. The day after I read this book, I was so emotional I could hardly stand it, not just because it stabbed me in every single feel I had, but because I didn’t want to read anything else after it. I really just wanted to go back to the beginning and read this one again.

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

One-Sentence Synopsis
A young woman is terrified to find that her high school bully is in her college class and will be her partner for a project, but she starts to find a side of him that she never expected. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

Painful Experiences
Letty was horribly bullied in high school, and she carries the effects of that with her. She’s scared of everyone when she first meets them and has a low self-esteem. Even though she’s out of high school and in college where she believes she’s now away from her bullies, what happened in high school has ingrained itself to her personality and existence.

Turning It All Around
Tate is the one that Letty always saw as the ringleader of her tormentors, so when she sees him in her cinema class, she freaks out, and rightly so. All she can think is that he’s there to harass her again, to make her life hell because he obviously didn’t get enough of it in high school. But Tate has his own reasons for being there, and those reasons are not about hurting Letty. In fact, he reaches out to her, but when she tells him she wants him to stay away, he does, going so far as to try to take their shared class from the hallway to make sure she feels at ease.

Things Change
The bullying was never made to seem less than it was or romanticized. Tate was cruel, but as Letty gets to know him, she sees the ways in which he’s changed and she starts to trust him, eventually finding herself falling for him. Even then, their past haunts them. Though Letty starts to believe she can trust him, it doesn’t take much for her to fall back into that fear and belief that he’s only trying to hurt her. As for Tate, he wants nothing more than to get close to Letty, but his actions in high school have far reaching consequences, and she’s unwilling to bend to him easily.

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Redemption
Tate never tries to justify his past actions. He knows he was horrible and messed up, but he never tries to get Letty to forget about it. I don’t even think he ever actively asks her to forgive him. Instead, he tries to treat her as well as he possibly can, showing her that he has changed and that he in no way wants to ever hurt her again. Though the story is told from Letty’s point of view, we get to know Tate right along with her and see all the things and insecurities he’s been hiding about himself. I mean, the guy has body issues, and while that’s no excuse for him teasing Letty in high school about her weight, there is that subtle insinuation that everything mean he ever did or said to her was an internalization of what he didn’t like or was trying to hide about himself.

Emotions All Over the Place
Though the bullying is disturbing and depressing, the story itself isn’t necessarily sad. Yet the author writes such great emotion that I felt exhausted and wrecked at the end (in a good way, of course). I was completely satisfied, but there were tears, and I had a really hard time leaving this book.

The Romance Factor
While I hated that Tate had been mean to Letty in the past, I was completely wrapped up in the relationship they formed, mostly because almost everything Tate did screamed of earning redemption and trying not to hurt someone he had fallen in love with. He treats her with so much care, it was hard not to get emotional. There are times when Letty catches him doing something when he doesn’t know she’s watching, like keeping a scribbled note she’d written while they were studying.  It felt like every kind thing she did to him and every time she seemed to trust him a little more meant the world to him. I seriously got weepy. 6/5

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The Steam Factor
So the project they have to work on together is about sex in cinema, which means that “research” is watching steamy movies where sex plays a key role. You know what happens when two people who have an attraction for each other sit really close on a bed and watch hot movies? Stuff gets out of control in a really good way. There is a slow burn of foreplay between Letty and Tate that goes on in a way that’s sweet and highly sensual yet still extremely dirty. 6/5

Final Thoughts
The only issue I had was more of a technical issue (possibly due to this being an advanced proof of the book). There were times when the dialogue continued and I lost track of who was talking. But otherwise, I am completely in love with this book. I had to fight the urge to re-read right away, but I’ll be pulling this back out in a few months for another reading for sure.

Book Review: The Care and Feeding Of an Alpha Male by Jessica Clare

A few personal notes: I’ve been taking zumba and yoga classes. It feels kind of insane, like I’m not the kind of person who should be taking either (even though I know that’s a fallacy). Either way, I’ve been kind of sore, but I’m definitely getting stronger. However, since my current focus is fitness, my writing time has taken a bit of a hit. I figure everything comes and goes in cycles, so I just need to ride this one out until the next one happens.

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One-Sentence Synopsis
A high class woman in a small town falls for one of the guys from the wrong side of the tracks, despite the fact that they previously hated each other. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

Better On Her Own
Beth Ann is trying to prove that she can live life on her own terms. She has her own business, she’s no longer with her cheating ex, and despite the fact that the whole population of Bluebonnet (who are honestly a bunch of a-holes) thinks she should get back with the ex, she refuses to lose her independence.

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Cabin in the Woods
So when Colt comes to “rescue” her when she’s lost in the woods, her first reaction is to be pissed about it, which in turn, irritates Cole. In fact, because the two don’t like each other in general, it just makes him want to goad her more. This plan puts them together for a weekend under the pretense that the can’t get out of the woods due to the weather flooding the river. Which isn’t true, it’s just Colt’s way of teaching her a lesson…but you can guess what ends up happening.

Sex: The Gateway to Love
It doesn’t take long for the two of them to realize they don’t actually hate each other. Sure, they have a lot of sex, but they actually start an emotional relationship too. Beth Ann doesn’t care that Colt’s family is known as white trash, and Colt is the only one who seems to support Beth Ann’s need for independence. The story isn’t so much about them getting together, it’s about them dealing with the town’s reaction and overcoming their own issues to be together.

Lessons From Carrie Underwood
If you read my review for the first book in the Bluebonnet series, Beth Ann is the one who encouraged her friend to get revenge on the guy who hurt her. At the start of this book, I felt as if she might have been vicariously living through Miranda. Beth Ann, though assertive and independent, is way too nice when it came to her cheating scum of an ex who continues to stalk her and try to get her back. She doesn’t go back, but she shows him moments of kindness, which is way more than he deserves.

Stand By Your Man
I liked Beth Ann, and though I can empathize with her being nicer to the residents than they deserved,  it kind of bothered me that she didn’t always stick up for Colt when someone talked disparagingly about him. She wasn’t trying to hide him, but she failed to say anything in his defense when someone talked about him being white trash or said he wasn’t good enough for her.

The Romance Factor
I loved the romance in this book, especially when it came to Colt. When things get rough and he thinks he’s going to lose her, Colt’s emotions were what really got me. I also loved that he punched her ex. 5/5

The Steam Factor
This one is super spicy and takes it to those places that don’t always make their way into romance novels…in great detail. 6/5

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Final Thoughts
The relationship picked up fast, but there was still conflict, so I didn’t mind the lack of “getting together” foreplay. The residents of Bluebonnet are largely a bunch of putzes, but the main characters are great, and to some extent, are all misfits of their small town populations, which makes the series so enjoyable.

Book Review: The Girl’s Guide to (Man)Hunting by Jessica Clare

Our local library recently got Hoopla, an app that lets you check out media using your library card. I browsed some audiobooks and found several by some of my favorite authors, which means more entertainment and things to listen to during various other activities. This was the first one I decided to try out.

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One Sentence Synopsis
A woman with a bad reputation in her small town attends an outdoor survival class in order to get revenge on the guy who gave her that reputation. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

Friends Let Friends Get Revenge
Labeled the town slut due to something she believes Dane did, Miranda is thrilled to have finally found a job that will allow her to get out of the town she’s come to hate. As she’s preparing to make her exit, she finds out Dane is back in town, and her best friend puts ideas of revenge in her head. After all, she’s leaving, so what could it hurt? I loved that Miranda had a good girl and bad girl side that warred with each other, waffling between wanting revenge and not wanting to hurt Dane like she’d been hurt.

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Probably not this extreme…and with less clothes…

Not the Man He Used to Be
Dane has changed since high school. He’d left to play hockey, but after he’s accused of sleeping with the manager’s wife and kicked out of the league, he finds his true calling in wilderness survival. The one thing that hasn’t changed, though, is his crush on Miranda. When he sees she’s signed up for the survival class, those old feelings come back.

Easier Not to Talk About It
The two of them see the past very differently, mostly because neither knew what actually happened. Miranda has believed for years that Dane was responsible for the videos. Dane didn’t even know about them and couldn’t understand why Miranda’s mother wouldn’t let him talk to her when he called to explain why he’d left town so abruptly to go play hockey.  So much could have been solved with a little communication, but then we wouldn’t have had all the romping in the woods. Probably a good trade-off if we’re talking entertainment value.

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Flaws and All
I liked that even though Miranda only went to the course to get revenge, she found that she enjoyed the outdoors and ended up with a stronger sense of self, despite her confusion over Dane’s attentions. Dane is actually a nice guy, but the fact that he used to be kind of a dick wasn’t glossed over. He wasn’t misunderstood. He really was just kind of a dick.

The Spoken Word
Listening to this on audiobook was definitely a different experience, one that took some getting used to.  When I read, I tend to read faster and absorb the scenes rather than picking them apart piece by piece, and the act of listening makes things feel more drawn out. It also emphasizes the fact that there was a lot of sex in this book. And that in itself, listening to someone read erotica out loud, also took some getting used to.

The Romance Factor
The romance was definitely there, but I think there was a bit of a disconnect in listening to the audiobook. I didn’t get the feels I usually do when I read on my own, though towards the end I did get a few warm fuzzies. Am I going to stop listening to audiobooks? No way. They’re perfect for multitasking. The story was still good and romantic, I just didn’t get all mushy over it. 3/5

The Steam Factor
There is sex all over the place. Hot sex. In the woods. I may have had to fan myself a few times when listening to it. Another side effect of taking it in slower than usual? I had time to dwell on the fact that the forest floor would be very uncomfortable on the knees. 5/5

Final Thoughts
Despite having to adapt to audio, this story was fun. I have the second book in paperback, so I’ll read that one normally and then resume the audiobooks for the rest of the series. Time to queue up some walking and knitting for some quality listening time.

Book Review: The Taming of the Billionaire by Jessica Clare

Even though the title of this book should have given it away, it took me a couple chapters into this book to realize it was a retelling of The Taming of the Shrew. Which then made me nostalgic for “10 Things I Hate About You.” I love retellings and this one was a lot of fun.

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One-Sentence Synopsis
A game developer agrees to go out on a date with a bitchy cat behaviorist so his brother can date her sister, not expecting he’d turn into a cat person and have feelings for her along the way. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

The Cat Whisperer
Edie, the sassy but grumpy friend of Gretchen’s, meets Magnus, a driven game developer at Gretchen and Hunter’s engagement dinner for the those who’ll be in the wedding. When Edie hears him making disparaging “cat lady” comments, she goes on the defensive and they start things out on the wrong foot. Edie is a cat behaviorist who’s fairly resigned to her life as single cat lady, but still, the insult is there and her impression of Magnus isn’t good.

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The Drama of Love at First Sight
Magnus is of the mind that Edie is grouchy and miserable, so he’s not happy when his brother coerces him into showing interest in Edie so he can date her sister. Magnus wouldn’t do it, but he sees his brother as the creative partner in their business, and since his brother can’t seem to create without his “muse,” Magnus agrees to help him.

More Quirks
Besides her love of cats, she has a bad knee as a result of an accident. She doesn’t want sympathy, but she’s a little bitter about the whole thing, especially since her boyfriend at the time of the accident dumped her.  Magnus is an alpha nerd who ends up falling for Edie and realizes that what they were doing in the first place was cruel. He also does something a little different from many of the guys in these books: he actually comes clean before she finds out from someone else. There’s still conflict and betrayal and a very pissed off Edie, but score one for honesty, even if the timing is bad.

Gamers Unite
The book was fun overall, but I loved the fact that Magnus took Edie to a gaming convention. It thrilled my little nerd heart to no end.

Nothin’ But a Gold Digger
I never really got why Bianca was spending time with Magnus’ brother. It was hinted strongly that she was a gold digger, and maybe wanted some time away from taking care of Edie, but I was never entirely sure of her motives. She was just a brat, and it cracked me up every time Gretchen put her in her place.  To be honest, neither of the siblings were really likable and were both highly annoying and self-centered.

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The Pain of Siblings
Having said that, I liked the way that both Edie and Magnus were highlighted as having codependent relationships with their siblings to serve as another of their flaws and another shared trait that brought them together. It’s not something that’s often thought about really, but it’s definitely a family dynamic that could mess with a good relationship.

The Romance Factor
While their whole relationship as that sweet vibe, I absolutely loved what Magnus did to show Edie that he really loved her. No spoilers, but it was such a great thing to do and a great idea in general, that I want it to be a real thing (it involves cats, of course). 5/5

The Steam Factor
Lots of sexy talk, sexy times, and naughtiness, perfectly choreographed and written around Edie’s bad knee. I loved the realism and sex positivity. 5/5

Final Thoughts 
Another entertaining book in this series with more cameos from familiar faces. One thing I really liked is that the storyline in this one actually parallels at least one, maybe 2 other books, and so you get a hint of things to come in some of the scenes.

Book Review: All the Ways to Ruin a Rogue by Sophie Jordan

January has been a crazy month. It kicked off with a big overtime project at work that kind of sidetracked my reading and hasn’t let up since. I’m trying to fit reading in with some other projects, including the revision of my own novel that’s about to come out of the beta reading phase. If January is setting the precedent for the whole year, it’s going to be insane.

In fact, I’m writing this a few weeks after I actually read this book, so some of my memories have faded. I considered not blogging about it, just throwing it on Goodreads and calling it good, but I really did enjoy it and wanted to give it some blog love.

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One-Sentence Synopsis
Once friends, now enemies, a lady and a viscount fight the the sexual tension building between them to maintain their animosity. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

Don’t Want No Short Man
Aurelia and Max follow a friends to enemies to lovers trope, giving us a lot of conflict foreplay and banter, though at times the banter gets intense and turns into some hateful dialogue. As a young girl, Aurelia was in love with Max…until she caught him getting down with another woman. Her anger and hurt took the form of a caricature that ended up haunting Max into adulthood, hence the mutual hate (and by haunting, I mean calling into the question the size of a certain male-only appendage).

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Put a Ring On It
Aurelia values her independence, but when her mother decides to go to Scotland due to financial and family issues, Aurelia has no choice but to either go with her or find a husband locally. This doesn’t sit well with her, but a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. Max, of course, doesn’t want her…until he realizes that omg, someone else might have her. Then it’s game on. Sort of. Because while he doesn’t want to marry her (or so he says), he feels he needs to screw up her chances of marrying anyone else.

Such Anticipation
Aurelia and Max spend a lot of time warring with themselves over what they want. There is a lot of great foreplay, the kind that kept me on edge and made me happily frustrated with the waiting, going into each scene with a “Will they or won’t they this time?” mindset. I enjoyed Aurelia as a character, and I related to her ability to hold a grudge. There were times I liked Max, and then times I wanted to tell him to suck it up. There were also times he was downright mean to her, so douche alert, though he ends up being an okay guy at the end.

Emo Hero
Though I enjoyed the book, towards the end I thought the characters drew things out and parts of it felt depressing, what with Max not wanting to love and all that jazz due to past hurts, blah blah blah.

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The Romance Factor
I really did love the foreplay that happened through most of the book and the fact that Aurelia and Max tried so hard to hold on to their dislike for one another. But there were also sweet moments that helped develop the relationship. 4/5

The Steam Factor
I’m embarrassed to say that due to the time lag between when I read this and when I wrote this review, I forgot how steamy this book was. I’m pretty sure it was open door and detailed, so I’m giving it a 4/5, but there is a chance it wasn’t quite that saucy.  Please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.

Final Thoughts
This was my first Sophie Jordan novel and I really enjoyed it. Though I thought some of the pacing was a little slow at the end and the random meanness of Max annoyed me, overall it was fun and I liked the heroine. I’ll definitely be adding more of her books to my TBR list.