Book Review: Lovegame by Tracy Wolff

This was one of those books that started out slow, but once I found the story’s rhythm, I was hooked until the end.
I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
One-Sentence Synopsis
A writer doing a story on an actress doesn’t tell her his true intentions, which makes it more complicated when he falls for her. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.
Undercover Writer
Ian writes true crime novels and has been asked to do a feature story for a magazine on Veronica, a Hollywood starlet from a well-known acting family. What he doesn’t tell her is that he’s actually trying to get information for his current novel, which is about a serial killer who’s connected to Veronica.
Ice Queen Starlet
Veronica has made a lifestyle out of keeping control and not letting anyone get close to her. When Ian starts breaking through that wall, she fights as long as she can before she finally lets him get to her.  Their relationship is very dom/sub when it comes to sex. For someone who doesn’t like to give up control, Veronica finds herself submitting to Ian and actually enjoying it, even though he pushes her away after a few of their encounters for personal reasons of his own.
Possible Insanity
Unfortunately, Veronica’s lack of control with Ian is the least of her worries. Strange things are happening, and all the evidence points to them having been done by Veronica, even though she has no memory of doing them. It doesn’t help that a few months prior she’d taken on the role of a serial killer from one of Ian’s books-turned-movie, and she’s still dealing with that psychological bruise. Now she can’t determine if someone is messing with her or if she’s really going nuts. It doesn’t help that she’s having to deal with a really immature mother who’s about as deep as mud puddle.
The story is told from first-person switching viewpoints, but unlike a lot of books that tell you each chapter who the narrator is, this one didn’t. However, it was easy to tell based on context. Because of all the secrets the two kept from each other, the switching POVs kept me engaged without being too in the dark. However, it was still a nice slow mystery with a strange twist that seemed a little nutty, but the more I thought about it, the more I liked it.
Cast of Characters
I loved the development of both characters. They both start out cold. Ian is interviewing Veronica and he’s pushy with his questions, pressing past any discomfort he notices in her, even though he has a pretty good idea of why his questions make her uncomfortable. Veronica is purposely cold. She’s built up her demeanor for years because she refuses to let anyone in. So it was interesting to watch them thaw together and realize just how well they’re matched.
Both Veronica and Ian have secrets in their past, things they don’t want anyone to know about and things that have shaped who they’ve become. Though not overly detailed, there are some triggering events when Veronica talks about what happened to her (child molestation and rape).
The Romance Factor
I loved the emotion between Ian and Veronica when the floodgates opened. There was a lot of angst with Veronica trying to fight her feelings and Ian dealing with the knowledge that he’s not being fully truthful with her, which then led to a ton of emotion. At the same time, I felt that it was also kind of a slow burn and well-developed. They have a passionate relationship without any unbelievable insta-love. 4/5
The Steam Factor
Hot. So hot. The sex scenes in this book definitely put off some heat, made hotter by the whole sub/dom factor which seemed to be handled well in light of Veronica’s childhood trauma. 5/5
Final Thoughts
Sex, suspense, interesting characters, and a few crazy side characters were a great mix for good read. Though the themes and overall tone were dark and a bit disturbing, it was entertaining and kept me guessing as to what was going on.

Book Review: Jackson’s Trust by Violet Duke

This is the first sports romance I’ve read that involves football. Unlike most sports romances, though, neither main character is a player. So maybe it’s not considered a sports romance? Either way, it was really entertaining.


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

One-Sentence Synopsis
A woman takes a job as an NFL sportscaster and becomes involved with one of the sports analysts. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

Sex Equality
The story starts out with Leila getting her dream sportscasting job and meeting Jackson, who she has an instant attraction. However, she doesn’t want to act on it because she doesn’t want to put her job or her reputation in jeopardy. She knows a lot about football, and even runs her own fantasy pick site. But the industry doesn’t welcome women with open arms and she knows she’d be judged quickly if anyone caught her getting down and dirty with Jackson.


The “I’m No Good For Her” Scenario
Jackson has an instant attraction to Leila as well, but besides the fact that he knows the type of problems an affair could cause for her, he has his own personal reasons for not wanting to get into a relationship, insinuating that nothing good could come for anyone who dates him. Okay, drama king. It’s a pretty standard trope, and I knew eventually all would be revealed and we’d find out why he was so anti-relationship.

Taking It Slow
Instead of jumping into bed, Jackson and Leila start a friendship, then a cuddle buddies agreement, and things eventually escalate into an actual romance. Through the first half of the book, things are pretty standard. The banter is good, the sexual tension is palpable, and the foreplay isn’t overdone, but you know what’s coming. Maybe.

Did Not See THAT Coming
The second half of the book starts taking some turns. We find out that Jackson isn’t actually who we think he is just before Leila finds out the same thing. Whoa. It’s not like he’s Superman or a serial killer, but I kind of loved the fact that up until that point, I’d accepted he was just a mild mannered sports analyst. This brings a little more conflict to the story, as does the family drama for both of them.  While their relationship doesn’t have a whole lot of angst, there’s a lot of side conflict between douchecanoe relatives and coworkers being morons.

Towards the end of the book, things get really nutty, and again, I saw none of it coming. There are more secrets that, if they were alluded to earlier in the book, I didn’t catch on to. There are some heartstopping moments. There are feels all over the place. Basically I started out thinking it was a nice, mellow, cute romance and ended up feeling wrung out and hung to dry. And yet it was executed and paced so well that the experience was fun and unexpected.


Conspiracy Theories
The only part that seemed a little weird to me was that at one point, Jackson starts talking about “them” in relation to the conflict in the context, and he sounds a little paranoid. By the end of it, you understand where he’s coming from and why he’s saying it, but it led me to wonder if we’re going to see some weird conspiracy in other books? Or if it was just rambling as a product of his situation.

The Romance Factor
My favorite thing about Jackson and Leila’s romance is how supportive they are of each other. Jackson believes that Leila can do anything in her job and that she’s highly talented, giving her the support her crazy political family never gave her. And Leila never stops proving to Jackson that despite his beliefs that he has nothing to offer, she knows he does. There is a lot of great unconditional love going on here, and it was delightful. 4/5

The Steam Factor
There’s a lot of foreplay, but eventually things get horizontal. It wasn’t overly scandalous, but it was still sensual and upped the temperature a few degrees. 4/5

Final Thoughts
Besides being a good read in general, this story had some fun side characters that lend themselves to future plots of the series. Jackson’s friends make a big appearance in this one (and they’re hilarious), so even though I liked Jackson and Leila, I’m definitely looking forward to learning more about the other guys. This was a solid romance with a nice dose of excitement thrown in, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.