Book Review: A Taste of Seduction

The problem with reading so many different series’ is that sometimes I forget which series I’m in. For the life of me, I couldn’t remember what I’d read of this one. Thank goodness for Goodreads and past blog posts for helping me get caught up.


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

One-Sentence Synopsis
The woman who left him to marry into wealth comes back into the life of a man who’s already in danger from a known enemy. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

Young Love
When they were young, Evangeline told Hadley she didn’t care about money or status, that she loved him and only wanted to be with him. And he believed her. So when he received a letter saying that she decided she needed to do what was best for her family and was marrying a Scottish viscount, Hadley was heartbroken. After giving up on ever finding true love again, he now finds himself in an agreement to marry the sister of one of his brother’s friends.


Back in the Picture
When Evangeline shows up with her son, emotions run high. Now widowed, Evangeline has returned to explain what really happened to her. In her mind, Hadley is the one at fault for never coming to rescue her as she pleaded for him to do in her letters…letters that he never received, of course. Because of shenanigans.

Making & Fixing Mistakes
The angst is high at the beginning, because Hadley doesn’t believe Evangeline. When she’s shot because someone is trying to kill him, he realizes how much he still cares for her and has to decide if he should let go of his hurt and agree to start over with her.


Things aren’t that easy though. Hadley and his friends are the target of a psychopath looking for revenge for things their fathers did, and Hadley is worried that Evangeline and her son are going to become involved, putting their lives put in danger. On top of that, Hadley’s brother is being blackmailed, and Hadley is the one who has to suffer the consequences by marrying someone he doesn’t love to keep his brother and his family’s reputation safe.

Quick and Easy
This one was a really quick read for me and though I enjoyed it, I didn’t get fully immersed in it. By this time in the series, the men being targeted know who’s trying to kill them and are trying to apprehend her without getting murdered, so there was some suspense, but not a lot of mystery. Still, the danger plot gave things a sense of urgency and distress towards the end.

Evangeline comes to the rescue to make it so Hadley doesn’t have to marry anyone else. And of course, she has her own secret to share with him…when the time is right. So there’s conflict, but a lot of the romantic angst seemed to resolve easily.

The Romance Factor
I recently read a book with a similar plot line, so it’s possible something was lost to me because of that. I did like the conflict that arose from their misunderstanding, and by the end, they had things figured out pretty well between them. They were cute, but I didn’t get a huge amount of chemistry between them. 3/5

The Steam Factor
Sexy times were mild but sweet. Evangeline had been treated poorly by her husband, and I liked that the story touched on her worries about being with Hadley and how she realized how different he was when it came to making love. 3/5

Final Thoughts
Not a book that grabbed me, but an enjoyable read for the most part. I feel that I would have been a little more into it had I been reading the books from the beginning. It can be read as a standalone…I didn’t have any trouble following the plot or what had been happening. I think reading from the beginning would have made me feel a bit more invested in the characters. I would still recommend this to fans of historical romance and intrigue, and I’m still on board with reading the final book, especially because the plot teaser for it hooked me hard.

Book Review: Reclaim by Beth Yarnall

I’m a little conflicted about this book, and because I want to write about my conflictions, this review is going to contain spoilers and possible triggers for rape. Proceed with caution.


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

One-Sentence Synopsis
An investigator and attorney team up to clear a woman of murder and end up in a complicated sexual relationship. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

Sleuthing Duo
Nolan is an investigator at Nash Security who bemoans his lack of luck. After screwing up an investigation, he’s determined to prove himself. So he teams up with Lila, an attorney looking to help clear a young mother of the murder of her child. The case is weird because all evidence points to an accidental death, and yet for some reason, the woman plead guilty. So Lila and Nolan proceed down the rabbit hole to figure out what the heck is going on.

The attraction between the two is major, but Lila doesn’t want anything serious. She’s a mystery to Nolan, who knows she’s hiding things about herself but wants to know her more. All Lila wants is sex, pushing Nolan away any time he tries to get closer to her. Nolan freaks out a few times, but even when he lashes back at Lila out of hurt, she seems okay with it.


But as Lila’s feelings get stronger, she starts to realize that she wants Nolan. She just knows that when she tells him the truth about how she lives, he’s going to turn away from her. It isn’t until things get highly emotional that she breaks down and takes him to see her secret. Nolan has gone through all the possibilities of what her secret could be, but isn’t prepared for what she shows him. And truthfully, I didn’t see it coming either.

I’m going to back up here and say that the previous books were pretty heavy. Murder accusations, human sex trafficking…they were hard to read. And there were parts in this one that were hard to read too, like prostitution and rape. But the big secret seemed to be on a whole different level than the rest, and my first reaction wasn’t super positive. Lila is a major hoarder.

Now I Get It
While I first questioned how the heck hoarding was on the same level as human trafficking, I have to admit that the levity of Lila’s situation came through in the writing and the emotion of the characters. It’s easy for us to watch tv shows about hoarding and wonder why they can’t just get rid of the stuff, but it really is a mental health issue, and Lila knows it. She’s ashamed and wants to live a normal life. She just can’t. It becomes understandable why she doesn’t want to tell Nolan.

True Life
There’s also no happy wrap up here. Nolan is freaked out, and rightly so. He actually questions whether he can be with Lila when she has this problem. This doesn’t fall into the normal romance genre view of the hero who would do anything for the woman he loves, but it was so real and true and kind of refreshing. Had Nolan fallen into that standard hero way of thinking, it wouldn’t have fit with this book or with this series.

The Romance Factor
The romance part of this book was one of the things I was conflicted about. I didn’t get the romance vibe in the usual way. The vibe in this one was way more realistic and less full of breathless and sweet emotions. Nolan wants to get to know Lila and eventually she wants to get to know him, but there are obstacles for both of them. And honestly? Things don’t resolve by the end of the book. Which is actually something I enjoy in the grittier novels. There’s not a HEA, but there is a sense of hope that the characters are going to make it, or at least give it a good try. 3/5

The Steam Factor
These two are up in each other’s business almost right from the start, and for awhile, the actual case they were on seemed to be forgotten. Sexy times are hot and there’s some pretty weird foreplay, but weird is good. I thought the focus in this book was way more on Nolan and Lila’s sexual relationship than it was about the case they were on, which was a bit of a shift from the first two in the series. 5/5


Final Thoughts
I liked this book. Once I got over the unexpected twist and realized just how much conflict it was bringing between the characters, I was able to read it with the seriousness it deserved. Both Lila and Nolan were flawed. I love that feel of reality though, and the conflict was through the roof. Though not my favorite of the series, it was still a good read. I recommend giving it a read…even with the spoilers.

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.

Mug Shot by Carolyn Fardig

This 2nd book in the Java Jive series entertained me way more than I expected. Though the first one had been okay, I thought the characters and world felt more familiar and comfortable in this one…and I really liked the unexpected twists.

Mug Shot

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

One-Sentence Synopsis
A woman sets out to clear her friend of murder charges by finding the real killer. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

Where We Find Our Heroine
I’m going to try really hard not to spoil anything here. We met Juliet in the first book, Death Before Decaf. In this one, she’s still running the coffee shop, still besties with Pete, still enemies with Pete’s girlfriend, Cecilia. She’s also sort of dating Cecilia’s brother, Stan, though she’s not terribly impressed with him, nor is anyone else, including his family.


Too Nice to Be a Murderer
Weird things start happening with Cecilia’s family, and there’s a good deal of distrust placed on Stan. But when Cecilia is murdered (not really a spoiler since its in the Goodreads synopsis) and it looks like Pete did it, Juliet needs to do her own sleuthing to find out what’s going on. She’ll stop at nothing to prove her best friend is innocent, even if that means getting other people in trouble and ignoring the advice of Ryder, the guy she’s allowing back in her life after he lied to her in the previous book.

Love Triangle
This book isn’t necessarily a romance, but a mystery with romantic elements. There’s still the weird thing between Pete and Juliet that hovers around the line of friendship and something else. Yet when Juliet sparks things with Ryder, those feelings are genuine too. I enjoy this kind of thing in a mystery novel, and I like wondering who she’s going to end up with. For the record, I was Team Pete in the first one, but I may have switched my allegiance.

love triangle

There were a lot of funny moments in this book and there were a couple good surprises. I liked that with regards to the key players and characters, the author wasn’t afraid to work outside of the framework a little bit. For instance, Cecilia wasn’t really a front and center character, but she seemed important enough that I was legit surprised when she was the murder victim.

The Romance Factor
The romance isn’t strong, but I felt it was more present in this one than the first. Juliet flashes back to some feelings about Pete, but the sweetest parts were between her and Ryder. I’m so conflicted, because I don’t know who I want her to end up with. There’s a touch of angst, but again, the romance takes backstage to the mystery. 3/5

The Steam Factor
Besides a few mentions of getting it on with Ryder and the revelation of some sex toys at one point, there’s not a whole lot of steam in this one. 2/5

Final Thoughts
This was a fun story that kept me engaged. The first one definitely set a foundation that made this one stronger. Though mysteries aren’t my first choice, I hope the author has more planned in this series, because Juliet is growing on me and I want more of her and her weird little life.

Book Review: Resist by Missy Johnson

Confession: sometimes I request a book because NetGalley says I’ll like it. Usually I do, but sometimes I get one that doesn’t quite hit the spot.


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

One-Sentence Synopsis
An aspiring journalist takes a job as a paid sexual companion to a mysterious man believed to have murdered his girlfriend. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

An Estimated 45 Shades of Grey
Charlotte answers the ad of a well known billionaire who’s looking for another woman to add to his collection. Basically, he’ll pay her a lot of money to service him when and how he wants. When I say to his collection, I mean he really has a collection of women who he pays for the same reasons, and he “keeps” them because they each satisfy some part of his sexual needs. Sounds a little creepy, right? But apparently it’s on the up and up because everyone seems to know it’s a thing.

Everyone Has an Agenda
Charlotte doesn’t want the job because she’s looking to service a rich man. She’s hoping she can get close enough to Jaxon to get an exclusive story about him. His family was murdered when he was young and his last public girlfriend disappeared (I’m not entirely sure if the collection of women happened before or after the ex was gone). Charlotte plans on using Jaxon to further her career, and that’s all well and good…until she starts feeling guilty about it.

Leslie Knope - Winning


Jaxon, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to have any guilt at first about using Charlotte to get revenge on the man he blames for the death of his family, a man who also happens to be his business partner. In fact, Jaxon doesn’t seem to have guilt about anything, even using Charlotte to ruin the young daughter of said business partner just to show him what he’s capable of. He reminded me a lot of Christian Grey, but possibly more socially sadistic.

Promises, Promises
This was a short read, and I think I might have enjoyed it more had it been a full length, fleshed out novel. The buildup and development weren’t there for me. If anything, the book teased me, giving me glimpses of things I wanted to read and yet never fully letting me see everything.

The Romance Factor
I had a really hard time buying into the romance of this story, and I believe it’s because we don’t read everything that happens in the time span that Charlotte’s with Jaxon. There’s a point where she tells her friend that she’s seeing a different side of him, and then later she talks about how she’s falling in love with him, but I didn’t get any of that. I didn’t feel any of the romance or feelings between the two, and it never really went much further than a weird sexual/business relationship until the end, when suddenly Charlotte was the only one Jaxon wanted. 2/5


The Steam Factor
I’ll give credit to the fact that most of the sex scenes were pretty hot and powerful. There just wasn’t enough of them. Normally I wouldn’t care, but this story seemed edgy at the beginning. A man who pays several different women to handle this several different sexual desires? Awesome…but we never find out what those sexual desires are. It’s hinted that he’s a deviant of sorts, but darn it…I wanted to know what kind of deviance he was into.  3/5

Final Thoughts
I really hate it when I don’t enjoy a book as much as I wanted, especially when the potential for something new and exciting was within reach. The writing was good and the danger factor was there. There was also a twist that added to the flavor. Though not for me, I think this book is perfect for readers who like an erotic and dangerous edge to their romance without having it go into all out sexual craziness.

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: Heartsick by Chelsea Cain

I checked this out from the library at the request of my mom because she wanted to discuss it with someone. Fair warning: this is NOT a romance. It is a crime drama with a very twisted element of romance to it. Though I usually stick to writing about romance, once in awhile I like to change it up a bit for those readers who like different genres. However, if you’re not one who enjoys dark themes, you may want to skip this post and/or this book altogether.

Trigger warnings: Painful physical and psychological torture, drug dependency, murder, descriptions of dead bodies, and sexual abuse.


One-Sentence Synopsis
A detective known for bringing down the serial killer who tortured and almost killed him is called in to help find the person murdering young girls. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

PTSD: Maximum Level
Archie Sheridan is a hot mess, addicted to pain pills and very noticeably damaged, as he should be considering that his career in tracking down serial killer Gretchen Lowell culminated in him being her final victim before prison. Though she allowed him to live, his mental state is jacked up, and though he’s competent and smart enough to be brought back on this new case, he spends most of his time high on meds.


Daddy Issues
Susan Ward is a reporter who’s been requested to follow the case. The media didn’t handle Archie’s previous case well with regards to how they made the police department look, so this time they’re asking for a reporter to get the scoop as it happens. Susan is also getting info on Archie. After all, he’s an interesting figure who’s been to hell and back. But Susan comes with her own baggage as well, namely a need to become involved with older men, sometimes even married ones. She’s not a homewrecker, rather if the situation happens, she latches on to it for her own sense of security.

Heartbroken. Literally.
Reading about Archie in general is like watching a trainwreck. As messed up as he is, he’s an interesting character that draws you in to his mind and his problems. And to be honest, being drawn into his mind made me really uncomfortable in a way that I kind of liked. Yes, he’s haunted by Gretchen and the memories of torture (which the author describes in painful detail…hide your ribs, hide your spleen).


But it’s not just because the experience was traumatic. There’s also a Stockholm element of attraction there. Archie continues to see Gretchen once a week to get information on the victims she killed and buried that the police never found. Beyond that reason, though, Archie has a strange need to see her and talk to her.

Spoiler: She’s Going to Need a Good Therapist
Susan is a mess, but only mildly so at the beginning. Her past comes to light as the story progresses. She’s damaged, but she’s also kind of fierce and fearless, at least on the surface. She has a definite attraction to Archie, and I liked that you get the feeling that her demons are sort of calling to his.

The Romance Factor
Well…this isn’t a romance novel, but I suppose you could look at it has having a romantic element to it? Even so, it’s not a lighthearted warm fuzzy romance at either end. Susan’s attraction to Archie seems one-sided, though I think there’s room for that to develop, but the younger woman/older man thing is tragic in the context of the plot. And the weird thing Archie and Gretchen have going on? I mean, I know it’s psychologically possible, but it weirded me out. 2/5

The Steam Factor
The plot doesn’t lend itself to any real steam, and while we get a little bit of gritty language describing things that may be happening, we never get those kinds of details. 1/5

Final Thoughts
This type of book is obviously going to score low on romance traits, but the read itself was entertaining if you’re not bothered by violence. I liked the pacing, I liked the side characters, and I like the fact that this book seems to put a new and disturbing twist on the whole serial killer thing. Also, I’m kind of intrigued by a female serial killer. You don’t hear about them often, and so one as a character in a work of fiction is kind of fun…in a dark, psychotic way.

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.

Vindicate by Beth Yarnall

I tend to stick to certain tropes and subgenres of romance. This one was a little bit outside of what I normally read, but it looked interesting, and sometimes I get in the mood to expand my horizons.


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

One-Sentence Synopsis
A young woman working desperately to free her brother from jail tries to resist her attraction to the man who offered to help her with the case. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

The Good Stuff
The writing was good, and I liked Cora’s character. She’s damaged, but she has a good reason to be. She’s put her life on hold to free her brother from prison, and that alone leads to much of the personal conflict of the story.

I won’t give any spoilers, but the ending hit me in the feels, and even though there was much of the book I was a little lukewarm on, the ending made it worth it.


Things That Made Me Go Hmmm
I think the characters were in their early 20s, but they felt so much younger. Other than the few sex scenes, I felt like I was reading a YA novel. I’m not stating this as a negative against YA novels or against this book. But I felt like the general tone was a little younger than I’m used to.

The cover for this book bothered me. It has nothing to do with the story, other than the hero being good looking. In fact, the cover makes me think it should have a sports theme.


The Romance Factor
The romance felt a little lacking. Leo starts out as kind of a jack ass, and it’s hard to get past that. Cora is resistant to him because she doesn’t want a relationship to distract her from helping her brother, so there is a dose of angst and conflict. But for me, the mystery part of the book definitely overshadowed the romance. 2/5

The Steam Factor
Though I didn’t buy into the romance as much, I thought the steamy parts of this book were fairly erotic in a “gentleman meets virgin” kind of way. And though Leo wasn’t much of a gentleman at the beginning, he sort of redeems himself by not jumping Cora the first chance he gets, even if she wants him to. That whole “we’re going to do stuff…but not that” vibe was fun. 4/5

Final Thoughts
I think I became a little too critical because of that cover, and because for the first half of the book, I kept reading the main characters as if they were 16. As a romance, it didn’t hit any buttons, but the mystery and drama were good and I came away feeling satisfied when all was said and done.

Book Review: Death Before Decaf by Caroline Fardig

This poor book. It had been on my list to read for awhile, but I kept shifting it back in favor of books that would be published sooner. Finally I committed to reading it, and though it was originally described to me as a cozy mystery, which isn’t usually my thing, it ended up being a cute, fun read.


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

One-Sentence Synopsis
After a coffee shop worker is murdered, the woman hired to save the shop from closing and the owner, her long time best friend, set out to find the killer. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

The Good Stuff
There were a lot of funny moments in this book, some of them absolutely absurd, including a funeral scene that was straight out of some hardcore redneck reality TV show. The widow of the murder victim was fairly trashy, and I couldn’t help picturing her as Jennifer Coolidge (who I love, but who would play that part perfectly).


I enjoyed Juliet, who seems self aware of most of her downfalls, yet secure enough in herself to continue chasing a mystery even when she gets in over her head. My problem with other cozies I’ve read has been that the heroine annoys me, but that wasn’t the case in this book.

Things That Made Me Go Hmmm
The people in cozy mysteries never know what’s going on, and in this case, I felt like they had failed to read a news article since…ever. During the course of the story, there are very obvious identity theft signs, and yet no one seems to pick up on these. I couldn’t tell if they were really clueless or just being snarkily obtuse.

The Romance Factor
It’s hard to classify this as a romance when the heroine is sleeping with a guy other than the one you want her to be with. I know other readers were all about the mysterious guy of the love triangle, but I was rooting for her to hook up with Pete, her bestie, who she obviously had feelings for. In both cases, there were subtle hints of romance, but it definitely took second place to the mystery aspect of the novel. 2/5

The Steam Factor
Sexy times were talked about, but for the most part, this was all closed door. 1/5

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Final Thoughts
There is definitely paved way for another book in this series, and I can honestly say that I’m not entirely sure how things are going to pan out for Juliet with regards to her love life. This was a fun read and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens in the next book.