Reviewed by Mandi
This boxed set contains four stories, two of which I really liked, one was just okay and one I didn’t like at all. I think for the current Amazon price of $3.82, it’s worth it for the two stories I enjoyed. All of these stories will be available separately in September. I’m going to review them out of order from how they appear in the set.
All I Have by Nicole Helm
I had never read Nicole Helm before and what a gem I found! It’s a farmer’s market romance – does it get cuter than that? I think not. Dell and Mia are both farmers in the town they grew up in. Mia was considered quite a geek in high school while Dell was more of a playboy so they were not in the same social circle. Both have the farmer gene flowing strong through their bodies though – and they both want to succeed. Farming is a hard business and Dell’s father wants more for him, but Dell won’t hear of it. Just like Mia, he can’t imagine a life outside of the farm. To prove to his father that he can turn a profit, he sets up a big stand at a weekly farmer’s market. He soon learns that the ladies that shop at this market seem to like it when he takes his shirt off and flexes some muscle. He is soon referred to as the “Naked Farmer” and steals most of Mia’s business away. Although Mia is painfully shy and awkward, she is extremely competitive and won’t stand for Mr. Naked and hot abs to steal all her customers. She pushes it up a notch by making her wardrobe a bit tighter and starting a battle of the sexes competition each weekend. While these two have nothing nice to say to one another at first, their angry words turn into a delightful romance with great chemistry.
I just adored both Mia and Dell. They may fight constantly at the beginning of this book, but it made me swoon with delight. Dell is all charm and flirting, which Mia tries so hard to resist but it’s a losing battle. But although Mia has her awkward moments, her competitive side really shines. Mia’s embarrassment when talking with guys and just her goofy nature is so endearing. I love that Dell falls in love for all her amusing quirks and admittedly, nerdy moments.
“I love your glasses.”
She gave his shoulder a shove. “Shut up.”
“I do. They’re so nerdy. It’s like a fetish I didn’t know I had.”
“I hate you.” She wrinkled her nose. “And unfortunately, I have to bring out the big nerd guns tonight.”
“And that is?”
She pulled her overnight bag off the floor and retrieved a little plastic case out of her bag and opened it.
He looked at the bizarre instrument inside. “What the hell is that?”
“I’m sorry. We’re not sixteen. You cannot have a retainer.”
Mia is a twenty-six year old virgin, and while at first I was like, not another virgin! It all plays out well. The scene where he realizes she is a virgin made me giggle a lot. But it’s not all awkward. Dell is a very swoon-worthy hero. He is more than just hot abs and flirty charm.
Right under the brim of his cap, lines fanned out at the corner of his eyes, either from smiling too much or squinting at the sun too much. Even in May his skin was tan and golden and she itched to touch it.
It made her smile to think she might be able to. “So, what are you going to do about me?”
He met her gaze as he stopped at the stoplight and she noticed the black under his eyes and the couple of days’ growth of beard. Some of her bravado faded into concern. Her hand reached out to touch his cheek, but she caught herself.
Which was stupid, because her hand was now just there, in the air between them. Awkward.
Just as she got enough brainpower to snatch it back, Dell grabbed it. Then, in a move that made her heart beat so hard it felt like her entire body was pulsing, he pressed the palm of her hand to his cheek.
Then the light turns green. Darn it!
I’d also like to quickly note how much I enjoyed both sets of parents in this story. The author takes care to quietly give them such details that add a lot to this story.
The farm setting, the battle at the farmer’s market and the chemistry these two share is truly something special. Highly recommend this one, even if it’s the only story you read from this set.
The Last First Date by Maggie Wells
I’ve never read Maggie Wells either but what a nice surprise. This is a shorter story, only taking place during one night. I would have loved to go more in-depth but what we get is witty and sexy. Hard to complain about that. Lang is a detective who is on his 47th first date in 18 months. He is a serial first-dater. This time it’s with some girl his grandmother set him up with. Instead of getting to a new years eve party, he finds himself at a gas station with his date who just shoplifted gum. In the parking lot of this gas station is another woman who can’t get her car started. Jessica is normally very put together but recently her life is falling apart. Boy problems and living with her mother for a few weeks has left her stressed. When her car doesn’t start, she is just exhausted by her bad luck. But the sexy detective in the parking lot catches her eye.
Her only option is to have him give her a ride back home. But when she gets home, her mother has tied a scarf on the door knob, and Jessica does not want to walk into whatever her mom has going on inside. So she is stuck in the car with Lang. All through this story, even before they arrive at Jessica’s house, there is great dialogue. These two definitely have chemistry, but they fight it as long as they can, both trying to act a little mature and respectable. Their banter back and forth made me laugh more than once and it’s also quite a steamy story. It ends abruptly – like I said, I would have loved another 200 pages with this couple. But it’s cute for what it is. I’d like to try something else by this writer, I enjoy her voice.
Light My Fire by Kristina Knight
The hero falls for his best friend’s little sister. I like that trope, but I don’t think there is enough time in this story to really let anything develop. Nate is a rock star who falls for Lily, a former childhood star and current actress. He has known her for a long time, and has seen her as his little sister, but that changes. Lily has a hard time dealing with the paparazzi and trying to change her image into an adult than the teenage star she was. They both end up as panelists on a television show, and so are forced to work together. This leads to romantic feelings and lots of sex. And that’s about it. This story kind of skims along the surface and doesn’t really give us a lot to chew on. I needed a reason to want to read their story.
Maid to Crave by Rebecca Avery
Single mom Tori Stewart doesn’t know her housekeeper, former army man Seth Lewis, has many other creative uses for the feather duster. Until a night out on the town showcases those talents. Now Tori can’t stop fantasizing about the housekeeper/exotic dancer–who’s proving to be so much more than the sum of his spectacular parts.
This author had the first Man Maid book in the previous boxed set, and I didn’t enjoy it so I should have just skipped this one. But the hero in this story is also a male stripper and the heroine is set up to be more nerdish so I wanted to see how it all played out. I wish I had just skipped it. The first half is okay, as Seth comes in as a fairy godmother of sorts. Part of a cleaning crew of former army men, he cleans and organizes her life and he also swoops in and magically teaches her son how to read better. He is pretty perfect. I like the idea of the hero doing things like this but he is a little too perfect. Then the last 1/3 of the book comes along and it takes a big turn downward. First, Seth and Tori are making out, both fully clothed and Seth comes in his pants. Okay, no biggie, but Tori thinks he peed himself because she pressed too hard against him. Umm what? She isn’t a virgin or anything – who in the world would think that? It made no sense. There is also a side story about Tori casually dating her boss and thinking she is getting promoted and dating her boss has nothing to do with it. Later he asks her to marry him and she is still clueless – I really didn’t like this heroine. She is weak and lets others push her around. Seth kind of barrels over her too. Not a fan.
I hope you take a chance with the first two stories, I think you guys would enjoy.