Book Review: Glass Ceilings by A.M. Madden

It actually took me some time to confirm my opinion of this book. I liked parts of it, but I think my mood might have affected my perception. While well written with some good sexy parts, I really wasn’t feeling the whole baby thing. Still, just because I was feeling a little off doesn’t mean there weren’t things about it I didn’t appreciate.

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

One-Sentence Synopsis
Two years after an intense night together, an FBI agent and a woman with an abusive ex find each other again when the ex is murdered. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

Two Years Prior
When Angela and Nick meet, it takes only the span of a week for them to fall in love. Angela is skittish as a result of a freaky stalker ex, and Nick likes to keep his options open, especially because when they meet, he’s working undercover to take down a mob-led drug ring at the bar he’s “working at. One night of passion leads them to decide they want to be together, and since they’re both going to New York, it seems like everything is falling into place for it to happen.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case. A series of events keeps Angela from going to New York, including the death of a family member. But then she receives pictures of Nick’s slashed tires from her ex and finds out she’s pregnant, and instead of telling Nick any of this, she just freaks out and goes into hiding in Ohio, supposedly to keep safe from her ex, who she’s found out has ties with the mafia.

Here and Now
Two years later, Angela is brought in for questioning regarding her ex’s murder, and she and Nick are reunited, though it’s anything but a happy reunion. Nick is bitter and still angry at the way she ended things. His anger only gets worse when she reveals that he’s a father because condoms and hot tubs don’t go together so well. Oops.

Things I’m Grouchy About
Let’s start with the things that didn’t work for me.

First, instalove. Though I liked the passion between Nick and Angela, I kept thinking that maybe they should get to know each other before committing to anything. I mean, they were both going to New York anyway, so sure, they could have planned to date, but other than physical attraction, I wasn’t sure there was much of a basis for a relationship there.

love at first sight

Second, I realize that Angela was scared, but not telling Nick about the baby? Kind of a dick move. Then later when he does find out, some of the interaction between him and the kid was sweet. Okay, all of it was. But after awhile, I kind of got tired of it. Full disclosure though, I’m kind of heartless when it comes to literary babies. Like I said, it wasn’t that it wasn’t good, it just didn’t push my buttons.

But On the Other Hand…
On the flipside, there were a lot of things I liked about the story. For all my minor complaints, I liked Angela and Nick, and when I didn’t think about the speed in which their original relationship progressed, I wanted to see them get together. I also enjoyed the smaller details and conflicts between them. The touch with Nick’s current girlfriend was great, especially because it wasn’t an easy breakup for Nick. Though his feelings for the GF weren’t as strong as they were for Angela, he cared about her and was torn up about the whole thing.

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I also liked that even when they finally got together (again), he still admitted to feeling bitter about her not telling him that he had a son. Kudos for that detail, because realistically speaking, no matter how much you love someone, it doesn’t erase the stupid crap they did and it doesn’t erase negative feelings one has about that stupid crap. Especially when it involves bebehs.

A Splash of Intrigue
As for the whole murder investigation thing, I thought there was going to be a little more danger to it. In actuality, it took a back seat to the relationship Nick and Angela were trying to rebuild. Which was okay, and there was still a little bit of action, but there wasn’t that edgy, adrenaline rush feeling that sometimes comes with a story where someone might be in peril.

The Romance Factor
Though the instalove diminished it a little bit for me, I still enjoyed the intensity between Angela and Nick and I appreciated how painful it was for them to have ended the way they did. Even though I might not completely buy the “in love” aspect, I do think it’s possible to develop strong feelings for someone in a short amount of time, and it was kind of tragic they didn’t get to explore them under different circumstances. 3/5

The Steam Factor
There’s sexy times at the beginning and sexy times at the end, and the middle of the story is spent catching up with what happened to them in the two years they were apart while also waiting to see how they were going to proceed. Though the sex was fairly sparse, it was hot when it happened. 4/5

Final Thoughts
Overall, I’m going to say that I liked the story. It had some great things about it, and the little realistic details really stood out for me. The unrealistic details can be easily overlooked as part of the genre, so in hindsight, not a deal breaker. As for the baby, I don’t normally mind babies, so we’ll chalk that up to a mood thing. The writing is solid and while I can’t rank it as a favorite, I would still recommend it as a good read.

Book Review: His to Love by Stacey Lynn

My mind still rebels against second chance romances, but I usually end up enjoying them, especially when they have an interesting twist. Like this one, which involves the mafia in Detroit. I have a love/hate relationship with all things mafia, and while it leaned more towards hate in this one, I enjoyed the story overall.

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

One-Sentence Synopsis
The daughter of a mafia boss comes home to see her ailing mother and reconnects with her high school sweetheart, an undercover FBI agent trying to take down her father. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

Laying Low
Gabriella, known as Blue to her high school boyfriend, has been hiding at her aunt’s farm in Colorado for several years, staying away from the life her father has built as the head of the mafia…a life she wants no part of. But her mother is dying of cancer, and she needs to go home and say her goodbyes. On her flight home, she doesn’t think it’s weird that she comes across her high school boyfriend, Tyson, who she left after her father told her that Tyson was using her so his father, a cop, could get information on her family.

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Ulterior Motives
Tyson wasn’t using Blue back in high school, but as an undercover FBI agent, he’s working to get the information he needs about her father. After thinking Blue had just left him and being angry, he can’t stop his feelings come back for her now that they’re together again. Though he’s technically using her, he still has genuine feelings for her, so you know things are going to get complicated and angsty.

All the Normal Stuff…and Crime
The romance between the two is pretty straight forward. Tyson has a secret that you know is going to cause issues when Blue finds out. Blue has a family that you know is going to cause problems for Tyson. Yet their chemistry is high and their feelings are real, so you want them to have a happy ending, and even though it’s a romance novel, where a HEA is guaranteed, that journey is still kind of rough.

He’s a Murderer for Crying Out Loud
I often dislike family members of the main characters, because there’s always that one who’s a complete douchebag. But I had a very strong reaction to Blue’s father: I loathed him. In fact, I hated him so much, I had a hard time reading the book at the beginning because he was so completely horrible. It didn’t help that Blue had that same “daddy” reaction that so many heroines do: she just couldn’t hate him and still wanted his approval…blah blah blah. Then her poor sick mother tried to stand up for him and talk Blue into doing what her father wanted her to do (basically marry the new mafia boss that would be taking over). And I wanted to like her mother, but that little scene made it hard.

Waterfalls
If my hate reflexes were triggered early, my tear ducts were activated later. I mean, Blue’s mom is dying of cancer. There are some scenes that were heartbreaking, and while this moved the story slightly away from the love story, it was also an avenue that allowed more relationship development between Blue and Tyson.

Things That Should Not Be Ignored
I liked Blue. I liked how she’d changed from when she was younger and how even though she still had the whole family loyalty thing ingrained in her, she also wanted to break away from her family’s name.

She wasn’t a dumb character, but I questioned the fact that she never thought it was a strange coincidence that she met Tyson on a plane to Detroit (when he seemed to live in Detroit) nor did she think it was weird that he wouldn’t discuss details of his life and work with her. I understand that she was blinded by her feelings to an extent, but she knew she belonged to a crime family. Girl, if I were a mafia princess I’d be questioning the ice cream guy’s motives in the flavor he tried to sell me.

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People Getting Offed
Also, she’s basically being told she has to marry some creepy older guy (I did like that she actually had an attraction to him, even though she didn’t have emotional feelings towards him, because it added an interesting spin). Of course she plans on saying no and continuing to see Tyson, but once again, I would have thought she’d maybe have a suspicion that her dad might try to off Tyson, especially because he offed Tyson’s father.

The Romance Factor
Sure, it was a second chance romance, but considering they hadn’t seen each other in years, it was like they were getting to know each other again. No spoilers, but Tyson’s words and actions at the end of the story were pure sweetness and wrapped it up perfectly. 4/5

The Steam Factor
I feel like maybe I’ve read so much erotica that even steamy books are starting to feel a little tame to me. While suitably titillating, I didn’t feel like this one pushed any boundaries. However, it didn’t need to. The sex was well written and well placed, and there were definitely a few blush-worthy moments. 3/5

Final Thoughts
Despite finding her father to be a complete tool (yay for comeuppance), I enjoyed the story. I didn’t realize that one of the side characters was set to be the main character in the next book until the very end (and after I read the synopsis of the next book), so that was kind of a nice surprise. The writing is solid, and despite Blue’s minor lapse in judgement, the characters were pretty great. Definitely a recommended read.

Book Review: One Touch More by Mandy Baxter

Because I’ve done a fairly good job of scheduling ahead, it hasn’t been noticeable, but I haven’t written a blog post for about 2 weeks. There was a road trip, a visit from my mom, and some other things that kept me off the computer. However, with Nanowrimo getting ready to happen and my lack of self control when it comes to requesting books on NetGalley, I not only need to get some more posts up, but I also need to start reading more books. November’s theme? Book time management.

One Touch More

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

One Sentence Synopis
An undercover marshal trying to find a big name drug lord becomes involved with local drug dealers and the hotel assistant manager who helps them to keep her brother out of prison. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

The Good Stuff
Talk about a strong start. I was pulled in right away with this one, intrigued by Tabitha’s situation and excited for the interaction between her and Damien. Though I don’t read a lot of romantic suspense, I do like danger in a novel once in awhile, and this one brought it. I was on the edge of my seat through most of this book, especially towards the end when things got crazy.

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Things That Made Me Go Hmmm
I didn’t get a clear picture of Tabitha until the end, and I’m not sure if that was due to lack of description or if I just had an image from the start that didn’t match up with the one later in the boom that described her as edgy.

I never agree with heroine’s who are attacked, but then don’t want their attacker to get hurt. Maybe I’m just a horrible person, but if I were on the verge of getting raped and someone saved me and started punching my attacker, the only reason I’d stop that would be to make sure I got a few kicks in.

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The Romance Factor
Though not insta-love, Damien and Tabitha’s relationship seemed to move fast. Yet somehow, the author was able to add enough emotion for it to seem realistic. 4/5

The Steam Factor
The sexy times were not as frequent as I thought they’d be, but they were intense when they did happen. 4/5

Final Thoughts
The intensity kept up through the whole book and ended up being a very entertaining read. There were some gritty themes, but the romance still held its own.