The Storm by Amanda McKinney
Series: Berry Springs, #3
The hard sell in this one is that the heroine’s husband is murdered when the book starts, and by the end, she is in love with the hero, the police detective in charge of the investigation. Yes, she had not been married long, and yes she had reservations before getting married – but her lack of distraught and the fact she is smiling and laughing with the hero, shortly after her husband’s murder was hard for me to swallow.
While this was the hero’s first case as being a detective, he wasn’t super thorough with his questions. He actually brings the heroine along with him at one point to look for tracks. But I feel like she was never considered a suspect (hire for murder?) and a detective would not have brought her along near evidence.
The setting and storm were done well – I could really feel the cold sleet. Lots of action. But hard to accept the romance.
The Dog Walker’s Diary by Kathryn Donahue
I adored the premise of a jaded literary agent who needs a best seller suddenly discovers a magical world when his dog walker leaves him explicit stories telling him about his dogs’ secret lives and the adventures they have. This eclectic and amusing story captivated me for the first half. Daniel’s idiosyncrasies concerning redheads, witches, and virgins combined with the dog walker’s elaborate fantasies that she weaves around Daniel’s dogs were an utter delight. I enjoyed the bold yet subtle romance that developed from this couple’s very unusual relationship. Then the second half came along and jumped shark, leaving me less enchanted overall. The tone, set up, story arc, conflict…it was all so very different. Donohoe decides to toss in some larceny, betrayal, and deception and we learn everything we just read was not as we thought. It felt as if Donahoe wrote two completely separate stories and jammed them together. Despite the hiccup, readers looking for something a little different in romance will enjoy this unusual portrayal.
Brightest Ember by Jeaniene Frost
Series: Broken Destiny, #3
Frost wraps up her Broken Destiny trilogy with a bang as Ivy and Adrian not only celebrate their nuptials but also seek out the remaining item that will free the rest of the innocents from the demon realms. But Ivy almost died recovering the last one and Adrian fears that despite their vows, there may be no way they can escape what destiny has planned for them. Fans have followed this unlikely couple as their relationship evolved from friends to enemies to frenemies to lovers to marriage. The world is built using the legends behind the Davidians and Judas. Frost expertly twists and manipulates what we know into an action-packed jet fueled adventure filled with chameleon-like characters, snarky narrative, and a convoluted storyline that never stops coming at you. Well worth the read and perfect for fans who like plenty of excitement and intrigue their paranormal romances.
Cajun Crazy by Sandra Hill
A former cop from Chicago comes home to the Bayou to help her mama while she recovers from surgery. After recently catching yet another beau cheating on her, she and a friend decide to open up a detective agency dedicated to catching cheating spouses. The premise sounded fun and I do love a story that can make me laugh. Some authors can get that southern vibe just right-the humor, eccentricities, colloquialisms-without making you feel as if your being made fun of. Others seem to go overboard and the story comes off mocking and annoying. It’s a very fine line that is easily crossed but almost impossible to straddle and this story felt like every southern stereotype was used. I made it to 20% before I gave up.
Man Hands by Sarina Bowen and Tanya Eby
Series: Man Hands, #1
I was very excited to receive a copy of this for review. I am a tried and true fan of Sarina Bowen. I love her humor, characterization, and the energy and reality she brings to her stories. These are people you want to hang around and be apart of their lives. I’m not sure what happened here. The premise is a woman’s rediscovery of herself after a surprise divorce. Her first goal? No strings sex to “get back on the horse” so to speak. Now, that is a trope that almost always guarantees a good laugh. But, instead of a funny, sexy, girl power hear me roar with orgasms, we got crude humor and juvenile behavior. I was hard-pressed to believe any of these people were adults, much less in their 40s. The heroine repeatedly slurps her drinks, apparently had some incontinence issues (she was forever almost peeing herself) and was always referred to as round or bigger than average while the hero referred to breasts as “boobies and/or boobage, sported chubs, and acted like a frat boy seeing his first vagina. I don’t even want to get into the supporting cast. I dnf’d at 25%. While I’ll continue to read Bowen, this collab is definitely not for me.
He Loves Me KNOT by RC Boldt
I picked this up because the blurb says it’s a runaway bride who gets a second chance with the groom she ran out on. I adore second chance at love stories. Like it didn’t work the first time around, but this time they are ready. Throw in some enemies to lovers and I am there for it. This book fell short of my expectations. Emma Jane ran out on her wedding and the author does a great job of stringing the reader along to find out the reason she left her intended groom, Knox at the altar. I won’t spoil it completely, but I will say, if I had known the reason sooner, I probably would have DNF’ed the book.
Once Emma Jane and Knox are in each other’s lives again, they are at first antagonistic and mean and that slowly moves over to a friendship and of course their old feelings bubble up and need to be dealt with. Through flashbacks from both POV, we see their early years and how they fell in love. The flashback stop about midway through the book and instead of full on flashbacks, we get little snippets of thoughts from the characters in the past, it was a little odd.
The characters are supposed to be in their late 20’s, early 30’s, but I felt like Emma Jane was kind of immature. I found her rationale of why she left Knox at the altar to be silly. And he once he found out, he quickly and too easily forgave her. Everything got tied up quickly and tidily, including a damaged relationship between Emma Jane and her parents.
One interesting thing is that Emma Jane has a BFF that is a single and attractive football player named Beckett. He reminded me a little of Blake from Good Boy, sweet and a little silly at times. But their BFF love was a lot of fun to read.
Man Hands by Sarina Bowen and Tanya Eby
Series: Man Hands, #1
To say that I was disappointed by this book is a bit of an understatement. I have read almost every single book by Bowen and really liked/loved most of them. This is tagged as a romantic comedy and I have a hard time with rom-com, I am almost always let down by it. This was no different.
The heroine is described as “round” more than once. I guess the authors were trying to let us know that Brynn is pleasantly plump, but I think there is a better way to describe it than “round”. There were also other references to the heroine’s body being larger than average, but it felt like overkill. I was rolling my eyes thinking, I get it, she probably has to shop at the Hefty Hideaway, move on with the story. Serious at one point the hero makes a comment about the earth shaking beneath him when she runs to him. Spoiler alert- that doesn’t entice me to read a story.
Overall the story was filled with crude sexual humor and innuendo. There’s a sex tape, a fake engagement, some body shaming of other women, weird body shaming/descriptions of the heroine’s chunky body, and sex in a pantry. I pretty much only finished reading this book because originally Tori and I were going to do a joint review. But she did a better job than I did of setting her boundaries and calling it quits early on.