Book Review: Ramping Up by Zoe Dawson

Confession time: I don’t watch a lot of extreme sports, so when I think of skateboarders, I have a preconceived notion of punk kids with baggy jeans and spiked hair. I know, it’s narrow minded, especially because I know in reality that skateboarding takes a huge amount of talent Despite my version of skateboarders, I was excited to read a book about extreme sports, as it wasn’t a trope I’d tried yet.


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

One-Sentence Synopsis
A surfer turned skateboarder is picked up by a well known sports agency and finds himself attracted to his new agent. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

Surfer Dude to Skater Boy
Gunner has been raised by his controlling father to be a surfer, but because of the way he’s been “trained,” he hates it. So he latches on to skateboarding as something he enjoys and is good at, never thinking of it as a career. A video of him skating goes viral, though, and catches the eye of one of the people at Mavrick All-Stars, a sports agent company. The owner’s daughter, Lena, finds Gunner and offers to represent him. And by offers, I mean talks him into signing with the company.


Gunner is cautious about the whole thing, partly because he knows his dad is going to throw an epic fit and partly because going pro means possibly losing his love of skateboarding. But Lena is nothing if not persuasive, and the fact that Gunner is attracted to her doesn’t hurt. He signs with the company and the ball starts rolling on his rise to athletic fame.

Business vs. Pleasure
On the flipside, Lena is attracted to Gunner as well, but she knows she needs to tread carefully when it comes to mixing business with pleasure, especially because her father had been embroiled in a scandal years ago when he started a relationship with a client. But knowing and doing are two different things when the hormones go high octane, and Lena isn’t able to stick to her good intentions.

Dicks Everywhere
Besides the whole “should we/shouldn’t we” conflict, there are some other shenanigans happening to Gunner and Lena. Lena is dealing with a competing agent who’s super shady and also happens to be working with Gunner’s dad to force Gunner back to surfing. Also, the douchie dad is stalking Gunner and causing scenes at his competition, threatening to find and hurt his mother and sister who left home years before.

Did I mention the guy was a complete asshat?

Girl Power
Though I was a little unsure at first, I ended up liking this book. I loved the fact that the top agents at Mavrick were women (or at least the ones showcased) and that they completely rocked at their job without being too perfect. In fact, Lena starts out having a full on Jerry Maguire moment where she questions her integrity and whether or not she’s following the mission of the company. Competent, yet flawed, is a combo for a great character.


Hard Edge, Soft Heart
Gunner is also awesome. He’s got a rough edge, but it comes from being abused by his father for years. Mostly he’s just a sweet guy who did what he had to to protect his mom and sister and who doesn’t want to fight his attraction to his agent. Also, he meets a little girl who wants to be a professional skateboarder, and I loved how he supported her and became a friend and mentor to her.

The Romance Factor
While I enjoyed the relationship between Gunner and Lena, I didn’t get overly mushy over them. I think the emotion of the book came in the form of the conflict brought in by outside forces. While they’re sweet together and there was definitely some romance, it was a little more low key. 3/5

The Steam Factor
When the sexy times happened, we knew they happened, but we didn’t get too much detail or dirty talk. 3/5

Final Thoughts
If there was anything that annoyed me it was the nickname of McHotstuff that Gunner gave Lena. I don’t know why, but it just seemed silly to me. It wasn’t a dealbreaker though, and I enjoyed the book overall. Do I think extreme sports is going to be on my radar? Maybe. It might depend on the context. But I definitely want to read more of this series.

Book Review: Cuff Me by Lauren Layne

I love the Moretti brothers. I love friends to lovers romance. I love the angst of two people who are very obviously in love but don’t know who to let the other one know because they don’t think the other one is interested.  This book was several hours of sheer reading crack.


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

One-Sentence Synopsis
Partner detectives who’ve been close friends suddenly find tension in their relationship when she becomes engaged. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

Emotionally Frozen
I love heroes who have a vulnerable side, and Vin Moretti fits that to a tea. He’s stoic and gruff, and the only person other than his family that he’s accepted into his life is his partner, Jill. In fact, he’s sure he has a thing for her. But Vin is convinced he lacks normal emotions and that he doesn’t have it in him to love someone. Though he can’t pinpoint a reason for his cold nature, his mom sheds some light on the subject at one point in the story. Talk about an “aww” moment.

Jumping Into Marriage…to the Wrong Guy
Jill, on the other hand, is a ray of sunshine who has a lot of love to give, and she’s at the point where she’s ready to settle down and give it. Since her first choice, Vin, doesn’t seem to reciprocate her feelings (other than the friendly ones), she says yes when a man she met in Florida asks her after having only known her a few months. He’s the kind of guy most women would love to marry, but Jill finds herself struggling with her choice when she gets back to New York. She should be happy, but she’s not.


The tension and build-up between Jill and Vin is amazing. Though they’ve never had a problem communicating before, they suddenly find themselves in situations where they don’ talk because of the weirdness between them. In fact, their perfect work record even looks like it’s going to get its first mark when they can’t figure out any leads on the recent murder of a actress. I love their banter. Layne brings her epic dialogue skills to the story, while at the same time pulling us effectively into each characters head.

Family Dynamics
Of course, we get appearances from all the Morettis and the new Moretti wives and girlfriends from the previous books. One of the main themes for Jill is that the Morettis have always treated her like family, but she realizes that when she marries the other guy, she’s going to lose that. I liked that her inner conflict was mostly about Vin, but it was also about the relationship she’d built with his entire family.


The Romance Factor
The conflict that comes when two characters are in love with each other but don’t think the other reciprocates is the best. Vin goes between feeling possessive and determined to win Jill to feeling like he’ll never be able to give her what she wants, and poor Jill is pulled in all sorts of directions. 5/5

The Steam Factor
The sexy times are few but effective. Because the build-up is so strong, it feels explosive and sensual without being overly graphic. 4/5

Final Thoughts
This series was great from the start, but I think this one is my favorite (and I thought the 2nd one would be hard to beat). There was a romance, a little bit of danger, a lot of sexual tension, and the great side characters and developed relationships that are always found in the author’s novels.