Book Review: Down With This Ship

review-cover-down with this shipTitle: Down With This Ship

Author: Katie Kingman

Genre: Contemporary Young Adult

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Kole Miller does one thing really well: write fanfiction for the show The Space Game. Everything else is a struggle: like managing her anxiety, frequent crushes, and plans after high school. But when her blog, Spacer, wins a major fanfiction contest, her traffic soars.

With massive readership comes criticism Kole isn’t prepared for, including getting stuck in the heated ship wars surrounding the show. And then an invitation to speak at The Space Game’s official convention arrives in her inbox.

When the most competitive kids in her Creative Writing class discover Kole’s writing Spacer, her blog is taken hostage and she risks them hitting ctrl+A+del on Spacer. To win it back, Kole must face both her inner demons and the ones at Crystal Lake High before they make the drama not just about The Space Game, but about Kole herself.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I’m very tentatively giving Down With This Ship by Katie Kingman 3-stars. Here’s the thing… there’s a very specific audience for this book, and if you aren’t part of that target audience (like I’m not), you most likely aren’t going to enjoy this book. The story leans heavily into the fan-fiction culture and has a very contemporary teen feel to it… and that isn’t going to be for everyone.

If you are a teen, and you enjoy fan fiction – you’ll actually probably love this book. You’ll be able to relate to it, and you’ll get a kick out of the hijinks. If you’re an adult though… I’d pass this one up.

Personally, the writing wasn’t great. There wasn’t a lot of atmosphere or description. The main character was somewhat of a cynical brat and had very shallow relationships with those around her. As I said, if you’re a teenager, you’ll probably love every minute of drama-filled angst, but I wanted more. The teens in this book talked like they were in middle school. Despite being from a school that focuses on academics, none of the children seemed very smart or mature, and the parents were down-right awful. It was very cliché and tropey in some ways.

By the time I got to about 30% into the book, I was over it. Maybe part of that is because I don’t understand or appreciate the fan-fiction culture. Maybe not. For a teen, I’d rate this 4 stars, because I do think there’s a specific

group of people that are going to love this book to bits, although I don’t fall into that category… for the rest of us, maybe pass this one up.

Book Review: Breaking The Rules

reviewcover-breaking the rulesTitle: Breaking The Rules [Breaking 1]

Author: Ember Leigh

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Rating: 1 Star (DNF)

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Description/Synopsis:

For Travis, there’s only ever been one rule: stay away from his best friend’s sister. But Amara Valenzuela has transformed from meek and sweet to a woman that Travis can’t keep his eyes—or hands—off of.

Before long, however, Travis learns that being with Amara isn’t just breaking the rules. She’s a dangerous distraction.

In a room full of hot, hard, sweaty bodies, these two have more than fitness on their minds. Will the undefeated MMA fighter be strong enough to resist the charms of his best friend’s sexy and sweet little sister…or will trying to win her heart be the showdown of his life?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Listen, Breaking The Rules by Ember Leigh wasn’t as bad as you might assume by seeing this one-star rating, but I just could not get into it.

The narrative actually flowed fairly well. The grammar and punctuation were correct, and I didn’t run into any major typos. All good things.

However, despite these strong points, I still had trouble. I didn’t feel anything for the characters. They weren’t particularly interesting and I didn’t really like them to be honest. Their attraction felt superficial because any sexual tension the author threaded through the story was overshadowed by the constant mention of it. It seemed like every few seconds the couple was thinking about boning each other, and it drained the impact. Sadly, there didn’t seem to be any plot outside of the romance and it just wasn’t enough to carry the book for me.

I grew bored. For some readers, this won’t be an issue… but it was for me, and I chose not to carry on.

Book Review: Her Wicked Stepbrother

cover-her wicked stepbrotherTitle: Her Wicked Stepbrother [Nolan Bastards 0.5]

Author: Amy Olle

Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Novella

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

My stepbrother hates me.

That’s fine, because I hate him too.

I hate his crooked smile and the way he looks at me, like he’s a sugar addict and I’m the last cupcake on earth. I hate that he makes me feel like I’m more than that lost little girl whose mom didn’t want her, then leaves and doesn’t come home again for days.

And I really, really hate that he flirts with other girls.

A lot of other girls.

But it’s fine. Really, it is. Soon, he’ll be leaving to attend university on the other side of the world, and I’ll only have to see him on holidays and at the rare family get-together. It’ll all be just fine.

As long as I don’t fall in love with him.

WARNING

I don’t usually read novellas, and had I realized this book was so short, I probably wouldn’t have picked it up — but I’m glad that I did. Despite being short, this book didn’t read like the usually rushed novella – it felt like a full-length novel up until it ended.

Despite the title, it wasn’t thinly veiled erotica either. I am intrigued to read on in the series and continue the character’s stories further. The romance and tension between the main characters were well executed and the family dynamics between the teens and the parents was handled realistically. The characters felt real – which is an amazing accomplishment for a novella.

I look forward to more!

– SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Book Review: The Matchmaker’s Match

cover-the matchmaker's matchTitle: The Matchmaker’s Match [Man’s Best Friend 3]

Author: Nicole Flockton

Genre: Contemporary, Romance

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

The last person Meredith Turner expects to see at her best friend’s wedding rehearsal dinner is the guy she had a one night stand with. What’s worse, Lincoln Forrest is the best man and as maid of honor, her partner. To add insult to injury, she has to leave the rehearsal dinner early, and Lincoln is the one to help her with a deeply personal problem. The aftermath of that night brings big changes for them both.

Lincoln Forrest has helped his best friend meet the woman of his dreams, but recently he’s made a series of bad decisions, the biggest being leaving his career with the Army. Now the former K-9 handler is looking for a new career and trying to get his life back on track. Helping Meredith in her time of need connects her to him more than he expected. On a mission to right the wrong he created, Linc will do whatever is needed. But when the attraction that first drew them together flares to life again, will the obstacles between them be too much to overcome? Or has the matchmaker met his match?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I adored The Match Maker’s Match by Nicole Flockton. The only true qualm I had with it, is that it simply wasn’t long enough for my tastes. I wanted more.

The romance between Lincoln and Meredith was hopeful with a twist of sweet seduction. They made a great couple, even with all the baggage they brought with them.
 
I loved the theme of dogs throughout the book and series, and the writing was both clear, easy to read, and flowed well. I have nothing to complain about. If you like contemporary romance with HEA’s, this book is for you.

Book Review: How To Date Your Brother’s Best Friend

cover-how to date your brother's best friendTitle: How To Date Your Brother’s Best Friend [Eden Hills 1]

Author: Julie Kriss

Genre: Contemporary, Romance

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Holly
Everyone knows Dean Madden. He’s a bad boy – and my older brother’s best friend. The guy you’d never bring home to your parents. His looks are pure sex, and the only fun he knows how to have is the filthy kind.
I’ve known him for years. No one in their right mind thinks I should date him. But now I’ve grown up – and everything has changed. I want him, even if it’s just for a little while. Until I can’t let him go.

Dean
I’m not that guy – the relationship guy. I’m the one-and-done guy, or so everyone says. But when Holly bets me she can date me for four weeks, I’m not going to say no. She’s grown up gorgeous – and now I’ve got my chance.
I don’t deserve her. It can’t get serious. I can’t get my feelings involved, because there are things she doesn’t know about me. But until it falls to pieces, I can give her the wildest, hottest four weeks of her life….

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

How to Date your Brother’s Best Friend by Julie Kriss was a fantastic contemporary read for me to have stumbled upon. The characters had depth, the romance was sinfully steamy, and there was lots of great tension in the relationship and plot. I have nothing negative to say.

If you are looking for a solid contemporary romance to sink into, this is a great one to pick up. I look forward to reading more by this author in the future.

Book Review: Jake Cocker

cover-jake cockerTitle: Jake Cocker [Cocker Brothers of Atlanta 1]

Author: Faleena Hopkins

Genre: Contemporary, Romance

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

JAKE COCKER:
I rented to her out of pity because I hate to see a woman cry.
I braced myself for a nightmare.
She just hides in her room, studying.
From a small town, Drew has never heard of me and my brothers.
She’s not impressed.
Why has that given her the starring role in my fantasies?
And how can I convince her to make them real?


DREW CHARLES:
Having this gorgeous man as my roommate is the worst idea EVER.
He’s introduced himself wearing a damp towel and a smirk (hotter than hell in August).
Jake thought I was a boy from my name.
Now he won’t rent to a woman.
I can’t stay where I’ve been.
Secrets are there I’m not even aware of.
What am I supposed to do?
Give up on my dreams of a new life?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Jake Cocker by Faleena Hopkins was a great little contemporary romance read. It was well-written, well-paced, had a wonderful steamy romance, and just enough comedic tension to even it all out.

I loved the characters and their interpersonal dynamics. The book was fun and just a bit dirty – and I’d certainly recommend it to anyone who enjoys the contemporary romance genre.

Book Review: One Hundred Reasons

cover-one hundred reasonsTitle: One Hundred Reasons [Aspen Cove 1]

Author: Kelly Collins

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Rating: 1 Star

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Description/Synopsis:

Nurse Sage Nichols life changed when she lost her favorite patient and inherited a bed and breakfast in a town she didn’t know existed. She traveled to Aspen Cove intent to sell so she could hurry back to her life in Denver. Little did she know, she was about to find everything she ever needed in the tiny mountain town with a big heart. Sage found herself in a place where caring for your neighbor was a way of life. In her case, that happened to be surly Cannon Bishop, the man of her dreams.

Cannon Bishop was a man who learned long ago that hope was a dangerous thing. Closed off from the world after a family tragedy, Cannon lived a lonely life as the owner of Aspen Cove’s only bar and son to the town drunk. When Sage Nichols breezed into town, she offered the possibility of more if he’d only open his heart. Cannon’s protective walls tumble and suddenly a brighter future of healing, hope, and peace was possible… if only Sage would stay.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I thought I liked this book. I was sure of it at first. It was engaging, I liked the characters, the plot, and the writing flowed easily. Everything was going great – until the 50% mark.

I don’t know what happened. The book was moving along at an even pace… and then BOOM – the romance hit hard – and not in a pleasant way. The romance rushed head-long without a second thought. Before the main couple seemed to even consider it, the two were making out and sitting in laps and making declarations of forever.

The book became so incredibly sappy that I was genuinely grossed out. At 72% in, I tossed the book aside. I couldn’t take another paragraph of the sickeningly sweet and sappy romance.

I’m generally a fan of HEAs and sweet romances, but this one was like being force-fed frosting. It was all fluff and no substance. It didn’t feel genuine or earned. No thank you.

Book Review: Work in Progress

cover-review-work in progressTitle: Work In Progress [Cook Brothers 1]

Author: B.J. Harvey

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Rating: 3 Stars (2.5)

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Description/Synopsis:

Jamie Cook is a work-in-progress. He’s always wanted what his parents have: a good marriage, lots of kids, and financial security. He thought he’d have the first two with his ex-girlfriend while the third would come once he got his house-flipping business off the ground. When his ex doesn’t subscribe to his five-year plan, he makes Cook Brothers Construction his sole focus.

Then he moves next door to April Williams, a sassy single mom he can’t stop riling up. Throw in her matchmaking mother-in-law, who’s set her sights on Jamie being April’s knight in a leather tool belt, and a house threatening Jamie’s sanity, and it should be a recipe for disaster, but Jamie wants this three-month project to last forever. That’s if he can stop being the neighbor from hell and prove to April he’s not just flipping a house—he wants to flip her heart.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Honestly, Work In Progress by B.J. Harvey barely got a pass from me. I read it, I didn’t hate it, so I gave it 3-stars… but it was very close to being 2-stars.

The plot wasn’t bad, I even liked the characters, but there was no tension. The romance was too easy to be genuine and it came across as contrived. By half-way in, I was pushing myself to finish for the sake of being done with it. There was never any doubt that this would end as a HEA, and it was a straight shot from Point A to Point B.

I just wish there had been more to it, something that made the pay off feel earned, instead of handed over. If you like HEA romances without contention, you may like this book – but in my opinion, there are better options out there.

Book Review: The Initiation

cover-review-the initiationTitle: The Initiation [Filthy Rich Americans 1]

Author: Nikki Sloane

Genre: Dark Romance, Contemporary

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

No one knows how new members are selected to the board of Hale Banking and Holding. But there are rumors of a sordid rite of initiation.

Whispers how one woman and nine men disappear into a boardroom.

This time, that woman will be me.

The Hale family owns everything—the eighth largest bank in the world, everyone in our town, even the mortgage on my parents’ mansion. And now Royce Hale wants to own me.

He is charming. Seductive. Ruthless. But above all, he’s the prince of lies. My body may tighten with white-hot desire under his penetrating gaze, but I refuse to enjoy it.

I’ll make a deal with the devil to save my family and sell myself to the Hales. But Royce will never own my heart.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Brutal. That’s the word I would use to describe The Initiation by Nikki Sloane. This book was a sucker punch from one cover to another. It was sinfully sensual, smart, and terrifying.

The book was extraordinarily well-written. It was fast-paced, complex, and filled with thrilling drama. Honestly, it was probably my favorite book I’ve read this year, and I’m nearing the end of my 100 book quota for 2019.

If you like dark romances full of mind games, powerful men, and fearless women, this book is for you. Though I feel I should warn you – this book gets dark. The heroine is put in impossible situations that lead her to bargain away her body and her soul… and for some people, this won’t sit well. Personally, I can’t wait to read more.

Book Review: The Beastly Groom

review-cover-the beastly groomTitle: The Beastly Groom [Texas Titan Romances]

Author: Cami Checketts

Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Sports

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Knox Sherman, aka the Beast, left the military to raise his best friend’s daughter and play professional football. When an irresistible reality show host buys a date with him at a charity auction, it’s all he can do to keep her away from his heart and his home.

Ema Kahue is fighting her way into the top rankings of television. Interviewing the beast will propel her career to stardom. Yet when she’s given a sneak peek into his heart and his relationship with his daughter, Ema wants a shot at taming the Beast for life.

Can these two overcome repeated misunderstandings and a vicious predator to give love a chance?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I’ll admit, The Beastly Groom by Cami Checketts won me over. Though I read a lot of romances, even a contemporary one on occasion, sports aren’t my thing – so when I came across this book with its quarterback male lead and former beauty queen female lead, I was a little hesitant.

I’ll put it bluntly: the book wasn’t perfect. The events were a little overdramatic and theatrical at times, and as an atheist, the repeated religious undertones from the characters didn’t appeal to me.

But, I still liked the book. It was well-written, fast-paced, flowed easily, and I liked the characters. (Except Mike and Paris, but who could blame me?) The romance was sweet and intense, and little Shelby won my heart over.

Overall, it was a nice afternoon read, and I enjoyed it. If you like contemporary romances and you are looking for a quick, heartwarming read, I’d certainly recommend you give this one a try.