Bounty by Kristen Ashley
Series: Mountain Men
Fans will love Bounty, the seventh installment in Ashley’s Mountain Man series and Deke Hightower’s story. Chalked full of all the things that drew me to this series in the beginning, I was more than pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed Bounty. The slow burning romance was very sweet and sexy but this story shines as a contemporary too. Emotionally gratifying with Ashley’s signature humor, camaraderie, strong family dynamics, and engaging characterizations. Cameos by previous beloved characters in the series are plentiful. Of course, no Ashley story is complete without some H/h antagonism, high octane sexual tension, and a small suspenseful subplot. Deke and Justice are another Ashley couple fans will love.
Hardball C.D. Reiss
A romance between a baseball player and an elementary school librarian? Sign me up! This erotic romance hits some high notes when a famous baseball shortstop suffering from ADD meets the one woman who makes him forget all about his schedules, quirks, and hand ups. Hawt and steamy, the sex is good but the narrative is what grabs you. Reiss does a great job of capturing Dean and Vivian’s thoughts and emotions as they attempt to build a relationship neither of them really wanted. Dean especially. He is intense and focused but only in his thoughts do you hear the struggles he deals with every day to just stay focused. A series of texts between the protagonists interjected into the story gives an intimate look into the many facets of Dean’s personality as he quotes Shakespeare and Byron to Vivian then turns around an unleashes his VERY DIRTY MOUTH on her. *fans myself* A mild drama inspired conflict gives Dean and Vivan the necessary push they need to decide if this relationship is worth fighting for. I did find the head jumping a bit unsettling in the beginning and it took some time for me to connect with both characters. The chemistry feels forced in the beginning though you come to understand the disconnected feelings you have as you get to know Dean better. This is my first C.D. Reiss but it won’t be my last.
The Revenger by Debra Anastasia
Women’s Fiction/Dark Fantasy
A woman standing on the edge the abyss get a chance to settle a few scores when the freak accident that killed her family gives her an added edge. When her extracurricular activities catch the eye of a criminal entrepreneur, the stakes are raised in this deadly game of life and death. I want to state emphatically, this is not a romance. The book is tagged romance and untraditional HEA. There is no real heros or heroines in here but there are some good people, some bad people, and some people who are just trying to stay alive. That being said, there are romantic elements. There is love; along with hope, redemption, grief, hatred, revenge, and forgiveness. And the ending is perfect in the sense that our heroines receives exactly what she has been praying for since the beginning. Using some slight of hand and strong characterization, Anastasia builds an emotional and heartbreaking noir world that breaks all the rules and demands your retreat from reality.
The Rule Book by Jennifer Blackwood
(Early arc review) I picked this one up on a whim when I saw another reviewer singing it’s praises on Twitter. The Rule Book is a light-hearted romantic comedy that follows a young woman as she starts her very first adult job right out of college. Hired on as a second assistant for a social media consulting company, her struggle to keep her head above water while NOT falling for the antichrist aka the CEO is hilarious; especially when she keeps breaking all 700 of his must be memorized rules. Add an overly affectionate dog, a drama queen of a first assistant, and an elevator that tries to eat people and you have a winner. While I enjoyed the slow moving romance and mild drama inspired storyline, it’s the heroine, Lainey Taylor, who really steals this show. Intelligent, hardworking, and delightfully self-deprecating; her internal monologue and witty snark kept me cheering as she heroically and hilariously struggles to get over every hurdle set in her way. A cast of amusing eccentric secondary characters only adds to the overall appeal. If I had one issue, it was how stubborn and clueless the hero was. Frankly, I found his “jump first ask questions later” attitude baffling for a supposed CEO of a fortune 500 company. Regardless, The Rule Book is a fun romantic adventure that will definitely have me reading Ms. Blackwood in the future.
Player and the Pixie by Penny Reid and L.H. Cosway
Sports Romance Contemporary
Our heroine, Lucy “mini fitzpatrick” Fitzpatrick, is the sister of the Ronan, the hero in book one. She hates rugby and has a slight sticky fingers problem that is exasperated by her mother and stress. Her hero, Sean “douchewaffle” Cassidy is a rugby star whose attitude and bedroom skills are both boo worthy. When Sean catches Lucy in the act, he blackmails her into spending time with him, hoping he can convince her to tutor him in the arts of love making. Of course, one thing leads to another and these arch enemies soon develop feelings for one another. That’s when the real fun begins. No one does strong heroines, odd alpha heroes, or a-dorkable romances like Reid and Cosway. The Player and the Pixie is the second book in their sexy, funny, emotionally awkward rugby romance series that will leave you giggling and swooning with abandonment as they guide their reluctant lovers to their happily ever after.