Friday, May 26, 2017

Outlander Series Reading Challenge Check-In Post #4



Hello Lovelies! First off, apologies for the post not showing up last month; I had some blog and personal issues going on.
 
So, we’ve made it to out 4th check-in and our 5th month of the Outlander Reading Challenge Check-In! Give yourselves a pat on the back and a dram of whatever strikes your fancy.
 
I want to say ‘thank you’ to those who have joined in! As of today, we’re up to 169 members in the Facebook group. If you haven’t joined the Facebook group, please do so. It’s great place to interact with others joining in.
 
 
A few people have had questions about what counts in this challenge, so here’s a quick list.
 
 
Ø Books must be read in 2017
 
Ø Re-reads count
 
Ø All formats (print, digital, or audio) count
 
Ø Any Outlander-related book counts (the big ones, the shorts, the additional material such as the companion books, graphic novel, behind-the-scenes book, and the cookbook)
 
Ø Yes, the Lord John books count.
 
I’m still plowing through volume one of the Outlander Companion. It truly is a brick of a book but it’s full of interesting information and is great if you need to recall a character but don’t want to search through the books to figure out who he/she is. I’m still playing around with the Outlander Kitchen and I’ve found a few new recipes I want to try out. I’ve been trying to listening to Outlander on audio and, well, it’s going a bit slow. I’m just not so sure Davina Porter is my cuppa tea.

 

So, Lovelies, what are you reading? If you’re rereading, are you discovering new things? Have you tried a different format of the book? Newbies, what do you think? Do you have a favorite character other than Jamie and Claire?  

Thursday, May 25, 2017

May DNF Roundup: The Ladies’ Man by Susan Mallery

She'd resolved to "act more sophisticated" and "get out more". But the rumpled bedding, the coffee brewed by other hands, and The Note reminded Rachel Harper that she'd done something completely out of character. She'd brought a man home from a bar.
 
And apparently made a baby.
 
She'd been nervous to tell Carter Brockett the news. Oh, she felt strangely safe with him despite his dangerous looks. Worse, she liked him. But what must he think of the naïve schoolteacher who'd lost control and gotten herself knocked up? After all, the man had a legion of exes who'd been unable to snare a commitment, and here she had a forever-binding one!
 
Then she remembered. He'd lost control, too.
 
I’m usually a fan of Susan Mallery so I was excited when Harlequin reached out and asked if I was interested in reviewing the audiobook of Ladies’ Man when the title was re-released at the start of the year.
 
It sounded intriguing: Rachel’s a good girl who wants to get a bit wild and live a little, Carter’s an undercover cop not ready to settle down. There’s a one-night stand and consequences from that. So, it sounded like it was going to be my cuppa tea. Sadly, this was the type of tea I’d born straight down the drain.
 
Here’s where it started going wrong, so wrong.
 
Carter’s upset because Rachel didn’t call and he accuses her of using him.(I’m totally fine with that part.) What irked me was Rachel’s reply that, ‘I’m the woman, I can’t use you.’ Seriously, Rachel? Seriously?!  Strike One.
 
Then when Rachel tells Carter there are ramifications of their night together, his mind automatically assumes STD, then he goes on a tirade about how can the heroine have unprotected sex with a stranger and then he gets irate that she’s not on the pill. So Carter says, “You let yourself have sex with me without protection or birth control?”  Okay, Carter, it takes two and you decided to go bareback. So, most definitely Strike Two.
 
And to top it off, she asks him to sign away his rights. Strike Three. I’m done.
 
Then throw in Carter’s ex-girlfriend stick her nose into Carter and Rachel’s private business and revealing it to his family, who happens to be the world’s most meddling family.
 
I just couldn’t take any more of the madness and turned this one off for good.



It happens. The dreaded DNF. You know you’ve had one or two, or ten. Rather than posting them individually, I decided to do a monthly roundup of the books I’ve DNF’d. 

 

 
 
 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Lucas by Delores Fossen



A Texas Lawman will do anything to protect his son—even if it includes reuniting with the boy's on-the-run mother…

Lucas Ryland always had a way with the ladies—until Hailey Darrow dropped him after a shared night of passion. Then he discovered her unconscious body in a wrecked car, with a fake ID and enough cash to disappear. Unbeknownst to him, the one who got away was leaving town with his baby…

Now Hailey is out of her coma and still in danger. But hiding her at his Silver Creek ranch ignites old passions…and introduces new dangers. Lucas must use every protective instinct in his arsenal to keep Hailey and their infant son safe. And keep his body from remembering how good it felt to hold her in his arms…

Series: Lawmen of Silver Creek Ranch #13| Publisher: Harlequin Intrigue | Genre: Romantic Suspense | Source:  Publisher| Rating: 1 Cup
You know things aren’t going to end well when you’re only a few pages in and the heroine already has you going, ‘don’t be an idiot’.  Seriously. Don’t. Be. An. Idiot.
 
Here’s what’s going on: Hailey’s been in a coma for three months, although she was pretending the last week of it. Apparently, she’s superwoman because while she was pretending to be in a coma, she was getting out of her hospital bed and exercising her legs while no one was watching. *Insert Eye-rolling here* She knows she needs to make a run for before the hitman catches up with her, so she attempts to hijack her ex’s SUV. When he catches her, he ends up taking her back to his family’s ranch so all his law enforcement family members can protect her and their son. 
 
The blurb sounded intriguing and I’m always up for a solid romantic suspense, but this one just didn’t do it for me. And, if I would have realized that this one was part of the Lawmen of Silver Creek Ranch series, I would have passed. I think I’ve DNF’d most of the books I received from this series, with the expectation of Kade and it only received a 2 Cup rating.
 
Normally, I’m a fan of Delores Fossen, but every book in this series is basically the same. A TSTL heroine is rescued by a Ryland, who happens to be their ex, generally a baby/child is involved, murderers are after them, the heroe’s angry, and there’s little romance and a whole lot of inappropriate lusting/loving when people’s being shot at.
 
 
Overall, this series just isn’t for me.
 
 
The Lawmen of Silver Creek Ranch
Grayson
Dade
Nate
Kade
Gage
Mason
Josh
Sawyer
Landon
Holden
Drury
Lucas 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Dare to Stay by Jen McLaughlin



Bruised and bloodied on Boston's mean streets, Chris O'Brien is reeling from the loss of his childhood best friend. But after barely escaping a hit placed on his head, Chris is desperate to live. A chance encounter leads him to the perfect safe haven - the home of a girl from his childhood, Molly Lachlan. Before he has fully considered what it would mean to involve her in his mess, he lets her take him home.

For Molly, letting Chris into her house means also letting him into her life. Danger and desperation are coming off of him like steam, and yet she can't bring herself to turn him away. His bad-boy charm always had a hold on her, but now there's a soulfulness and sorrow in him that she's never seen before. And despite the heart-stopping risk of helping him, she hopes against all reason that he'll stay....

Series: Sons of Steel Row Series #2| Publisher: Tantor Audio | Narrators: Joe Arden, Maxine Mitchell  Makena  | Length: 10 hrs and 38 mins | Genre: Contemporary Romance | Source: Won | Ratings: 4 Cup

Challenges Read For: Bad Boys of Romance Challenge

Okay, not going to lie, I went into this book expecting to hate Chris. I was 90% sure I was going to DNF this one before I even started it because I just couldn’t see how Chris was going to redeem himself given what he did in the first book. Then, something unexpected happened; I fell in love with Chris. I kid you not; the guy I hated ended up melting my heart.
 
Here’s what’s going on. After betraying his best friend/blood brother, Chris has hit rock bottom. So, when Molly, the girl next door, finds him battered and bleeding in a drugstore and offers to take him home and mend his wounds, he lets her. It’s the perfect place to hide out but he knows he’s putting her in danger. Molly knows exactly what gang life can cost a person, yet she’s always been drawn to Chris and will do whatever she can to help him. Even if that means letting him into her heart
 
So this one wasn’t as gritty as the first one because most of it takes place in the safety of Molly’s world. There’s a few times when the danger and violence of Chris’s world bleeds through, but the majority of the time it has a mainstream feel and I was okay with that.
 
What pulled me into the story was Chris. He had so much anguish and regret inside him over what he did and he knows he’ll never be able to make amends but he’ll do this best to try. I could feel the constant war he was waging within himself and, sometimes, his actions surprised me. What I enjoyed about Chris was how layered he was and it was fun watching him reveal who he really was.
 
Molly really wasn’t my cuppa tea. She was too naïve for my liking and some of her actions were just plain stupid. Honestly, I’m surprised she wasn’t carjacked and murdered. And she definitely fit that TSTL category.
 
While there was an attraction from the start, the actual romance was slow building and I enjoyed that. They totally had the bad-boy/good-girl thing going on and they had to figure out how they were going to fit in each other’s lives.
 
Once again, this was a dual narration and it worked. Joe Arden’s narration of Chris was spot on. He had that sexy dangerous sound that had me eager for more. Maxine Mitchell Makena’s narration made Molly sound more interesting than she really so and it made her parts easier to listen to.
 
Overall, this was a nice continuation to the series. Apparently, the heroes are the stronger characters and the ones I seem to like more than the heroines in this series.
 
Series Alert: While each book could be a standalone, I strongly advise you to read the series from the start. To fully understand Chris, the first book must be read.



Sons of Steel Row Series



Dare to Lie
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Cowboy and the Kid by Anne McAllister



Having a father is a big responsibility.

And finding him a wife is a challenge eight-year-old Becky Jones takes seriously. Ex-rodeo cowboy Taggart Jones is adamant. No marriage. Been there. Done that.

Not even if Becky’s dream candidate is her beautiful, blonde teacher, Felicity Albright, who knows about barrettes, patching up scrapes, and hates carrots as much as his daughter. Taggart’s still not interested. Much.

What’s a daughter to do? Becky’s nothing if not ingenious, and she’s determined to convince a stubborn Taggart and a bemused Felicity that they really have met their match.

Series: The Tanner Brothers, Book 4| Publisher: Montana Born| Genre: Contemporary Romance| Source: Publisher | Rating: 3 Cups

Challenges Read For: Blogger Shame

There’s been some things going on lately and I really just wanted an upbeat read that I didn’t really have to think about and since the books in my TBR mountain wasn’t really cutting it, I looked at my past due pile and found this one. Seriously, the title and the blurb screamed cute and adorable and it was just what I needed.
 
Here’s why liked it:
 
Ø Taggart Jones. Seriously, is there a place to order a Taggart of mine own? He’s a single father and instead of letting his parents raise his daughter when his wife left him, he took her with him on the road during his years as a rodeo star. And, once he realized, that doing what he loved could leave his daughter without a father, he stopped and chose to open a bull riding school instead of competing.
Ø Felicity Albright is one tough chick—and possibly a bit mad. She made a deal with one of her student’s parents that if she could learn how to do something new, then he would allow her to continue teaching his son in a way that gets through to him rather than straight from a textbook. So, this crazy lady decides to learn how to ride a bull—much to Taggart’s chagrin.
Ø The fact that the matchmaking was done by Taggart’s daughter and her friend was adorable. They were willing to do anything to make sure Taggart and Felicity noticed each other so it was exciting to see what they would come up with next.
 
Here’s what could have been improved:
 
Ø The book’s a bit dated—it’s a rerelease that originally came out in the late ‘90s but it has a slightly older feel to it. It would have helped me get into the flow easier if I would have known it was a reprint when I started.
Ø The romance between Felicity and Taggart could have been a bit more developed. It went from attraction to resistance to a date-that-wasn’t-a-date to more resistance then let’s get married without showing a relationship. So, the attraction was there but the chemistry and development was lacking.
Ø I could have done without some of the random plot devices. Sure, they allowed the plot to advance but some of them were a bit out there in left field and had me going, ‘yeah, that wouldn’t have happened’.
Ø I would have liked a bit of backstory on Taggart’s first marriage. Things were alluded to but never addressed and it sort of left holes in the plot.
 
Overall, it wasn’t one of the best books I’ve read but it wasn’t the worst, either. It was fun, cute, and what I needed at the time.

 
The Tanner Brothers Series
Cowboys Don’t Cry
Cowboys Don’t Quit
Cowboys Don’t Stay
The Cowboy and the Kid
Cowboy Pride
 
 
 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Chase by Barbara Dunlop



Betrayed by his fiancée and his best friend, Chase Garrett heads out on the road with the American Extreme Bull Riders Association, determined to ride hard and keep a wall around his heart. But during a competition, three-year-old Riley Barrett bursts through that barrier when he throws himself into Chase’s arms, insisting Chase is his daddy. And Chase’s walls collapse further when he meets Riley’s mother–beautiful, vulnerable, sexy Maddy.

A widow for only a year, Maddy Barrett is stunned by her son Riley’s outlandish assertion that Chase is his father. She tries desperately to convince Riley that his father has not come home to them. When Chase and Maddy join forces to help her son, she finds herself falling fast for the sexy, hard-working bull rider—wishing he truly could be the man for Riley, and the man for her.

Series: American Extreme Bull Riders Tour, Book | Publisher: Montana Born | Release Date: 5/17/2017 | Genre: Contemporary Romance| Source: Publisher | Rating: 3.5 Cups

I could not put this book down and I ended up reading it in just a few short hours. It pulled me in from the start and had me rooting for the characters.
 
Here’s what’s going on. After finding out his fiancée is cheating on him and is pregnant by his best friend, Chase throws himself into the world of bull riding determined to avoid woman. Although that changes when he saves three-year-old Riley, who believes Chase is his deceased father, and falls for the little boy’s mother. Maddy’s not sure how to convince her son Chase isn’t his father, so they decide to work together and break it to Riley slowly, although there’s one little problem. Maddy is falling head-over-heels for Chase but can she convince him she’s in love with him and not just wanting to recreate the family she lost?
 
I’ve apparently developed a thing for bull riders…in my books, that is. Yeah, total city slicker here, I wouldn’t make it an hour in a cowboys world but a girl can still read about it! Anywho, back to the review.
 
Chase totally stole my heart. He’s had a lot that he’s had to come to terms with in his personal life but he still managed to give his undivided attention to Riley. Instead of being annoyed that this little kid was clinging to him, he just held Riley closer and wanted to protect him. Even though I enjoyed Chase and Maddy getting to know each other, it was Chase and Riley that sold me on the book.
 
For the most part, I liked Maddy. She’s a good mother and she’s determined to stand on her own two feet. But I didn’t care for the way she chose to lash out after she fought with Chase, she handled it very poorly on her part and, truthfully, what she was upset about was trivial and it was unfair to both Chase and her son.
 
The romance felt very realistic. It was slow to start and I enjoyed that they took time to get to know each other and figure out what was best for Riley before taking it to the next level.
 
I also enjoyed getting to know Maddy’s brothers and Piper, whose story I’m anxiously awaiting.
 
Although I enjoyed this one, there were several reasons I gave it a 3.5. The ending was way too rushed. The story had a nice even flow then it hit the 90% mark and it seemed to go at warp speed. If a few extra chapters had been added, it wouldn’t have felt so rushed and cramped at the ending. I wasn’t thrilled that the major blowup of the story resulted from lack of communication. Seriously people, just open your mouth and do some talking. And the last thing that irked me was the condomless sex, twice, people, twice. I kept waiting for the oops, I’m pregnant moment to pop up, which it never did. What irritated me even more about the lack of protection was the fact Maddy married her first husband because Riley was the product of unprotected sex.
 
Overall, I enjoyed this one. There were some things that could have been handled differently, but I had fun with it.  



American Extreme Bull Riders Tour Series
Tanner
Chase
Casey
Cody
 
 
 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Dare to Run by Jen McLaughlin



Lucas Donahue is not ashamed of his criminal past, but after a brief stint in prison, he's ready to go legit and live a normal life. The problem is, no one leaves the gang without permission - even if he is one of the boss' top men. Plus, someone's placed a hit on him. And then there's that feisty little bartender who's going to cause him even more trouble.

Heidi Greene knows to keep her distance from a ladies' man like Lucas - even if she can't keep her eyes off him. When he rescues her from an attack in the alley outside her bar, she's forced to stay by his side for safety. But the longer she spends time with him, the greater her chances are of getting hurt in more ways than one.


Series: Sons of Steel Row Series #1| Publisher: Tantor Audio | Narrators: Guy Locke , Monique Makena  | Length: 10 hrs and 35 mins | Genre: Contemporary Romance | Source: Won | Ratings: 4.5 Cups

 
Challenge Read For: Bad Boys of Romance

This has to be one of the best books that I’ve read/listened to for a while. It was such a rollercoaster ride and I enjoyed every minute of it.
 
Here’s what’s going on. Even though Lucas is out of prison, he knows—unless the boss man lets him go, which doesn’t look likely since his stint in prison earned him a promotion—he’ll never be a free man. He belongs to the Sons of Steel Row. Although things are starting to get complicated now that someone has put a price on his head. And to make matters worse, he’s now stuck with Heidi, the woman he rescued. The woman who makes him want to live a normal life. Even though Lucas keeps telling her he isn’t a hero, Heidi can see he’s a good man. A man she’s starting to fall for. But she knows there’s a chance that neither of the men will make it out alive unless she convinces Lucas to run.
 
I’m always up for a gritty bad boy romance, so I was delighted when I won audiobooks of the first two books in the Sons of Steel Row series. While I was expecting something dark and dangerous, I really wasn’t expecting everything this book threw at me, especially what happened at the end yet I found myself enjoying this one.
 
Lucas joined the Sons more or less out of necessity to provide for his mother and brother. For him, it was survival but he wants out, he wants to live a normal life. There’s a part where he’s watching normal people walk down the Freedom Trail and wants to be one of them. He wants to be a normal man with a wife and family but he knows that he belongs to the Sons of Steel Row and he knows that being that ‘normal man’ isn’t an option for him and, oh my goodness, there was so many feels in that scene. Lucas is also coming to terms with the feelings he has for Heidi. Even though he can feel himself falling in love with her, he’s fighting it because he feels as though his black soul is too dirty for her and he knows if he lets someone in, they become his weakness and he won’t be able to protect her. Then to make matters worse, it seems that Scotty, his brother—the boy he raised—is out to kill him. And Lucas know, if Scotty forces his hand, to protect Heidi, Lucas will have to kill his own his brother.
 
There’s a lot of emotional turmoil roiling around in Lucas and I felt every bit of it. And even though he had done some questionable things, he’s a good man and I was rooting for him to live the normal life he wanted.
 
I liked Heidi, but her story just didn’t grip me like Lucas’s. She grew up bouncing around from one foster home to another then ended up living on the streets until a bar owner showed her kindness and took her in. She cares about Lucas and sees him for the man he is rather than just one of the Sons. While I liked Heidi, she has a bit of a problem following orders and thinking things through before she does them. There was a few times she was bordering on being one of those TSTL characters, but I don’t think she was doing things because she didn’t realize something would happen to her, I think she was doing things because she grew up on the streets of Boston and that caused her to look at things differently.
 
The romance was okay. I liked watching Lucas and Heidi learn how to trust each other and let each other in, but the constant use of snarky remarks volleying back and forth between them started to grow a bit old. It was like watching a verbal sparring match. Yet, in a way, I understood why they were doing it. Heidi grew up pretty much relying only on herself and in Lucas’s world he knows that when you care about someone they become a target. So I do get why they put up the sparring match rather than just allow themselves to give into their feelings but I’m just not a fan of that constantly popping up because it gets annoying.
 
I found myself just as interested and invested in the secondary characters and I enjoy it when a book makes me want to know more about them.
 
So, there were a few twists along the way. MAJOR TWISTS. While I had an inkling about certain aspects I was never one-hundred percent certain, so when the big reveal came, it was enough to having me shouting a few curse words and a ‘say it isn’t so.  
 
This book truly brings that criminal underbelly to life not only with the edgy grittiness but with the mentality and actions of the characters. There’s a believability to the book that hooked me from the start.
 
This is the second book I’ve listened to with dual narration and I have to say I’m am really enjoying them. They add an extra depth to the book. While I was excited to start this one, I was a bit hesitant when I heard Guy Locke’s Southie accent. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to listen to half a book narrated with it, but I ended up loving it. It truly brought Lucas to like and after the first thirty minutes, I was starting to find it rather sext. Monique Makena’s narration of Heidi was a bit stale and robotic. I didn’t feel as though she connected with the character but rather was just reading words for the book.
 
This one was so close to being a 5-cup review. The only thing that brought it down was the fact there was so much snarky banter between Heidi and Lucas when they were fighting their feelings for each other.
 
Overall, I enjoyed this one. The reveal at the end left me more than a little growly and slightly hesitant yet eager to start the next book in the series.
 
Series Alert: While you could read each book as a standalone, I wouldn’t recommend it. To get the full effect of the series, it needs to be read in order.


 
Sons of Steel Row Series



Dare to Lie

 
 
 

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Finding Kyle by Sawyer Bennett



When you’ve lived your life as a criminal…

When you’ve done unspeakable things …

When your soul has become dark and stained…  

The path to redemption begins where you least expect it.  

Kyle Sommerville is in hiding and doesn’t want to be found by anyone. Certainly not by his quirky, free-spirited neighbor who’s managed to push her way past the walls he’s built around him. But Jane Cresson’s indomitable will and insatiable curiosity about her reclusive neighbor makes it impossible for Kyle to stay immersed in his dark world.  

Little by little, she claws through his shell.

Day by day, she gets him to smile a little more.

Night by night, they both find pleasure they never knew existed.  

When Kyle’s terrible past is exposed, Jane begins to think she’s in over her head. Can her love for this broken man finally clear his path to redemption, or will Kyle’s darkness extinguish every bit of hope she’s put into him? 

Audiobook Details:

Publisher: Big Dog Books, LLC | Narrator: Kirsten Leigh, Lance Greenfield  | Length: 7 hrs and 11 mins | Genre: Contemporary Romance | Source: Purchased | Ratings: 4 Cups

I picked this one up after reading Anna’s review over at Herding Cats &Burning Soup. Normally, when I purchase a book after reading a review, it ends up either sitting on my shelf or on my Kindle, but not this one. I started it as soon as it downloaded. And I wasn’t disappointed.
 
Here’s what’s going on: Kyle was an ATF agent working deep undercover to take down a dangerous MC. Having gathered the intel that was needed, the agency faked his death and now he’s masquerading as a lighthouse keeper in Maine. He’s done his best to stay off people’s radar, but his neighbor, Jane Cresson, has made it her mission in life to worm her way in and Kyle finally decided to stop fighting it.
 
Kyle was broody, a bit damaged, and, due to the acts he committed while undercover, believes himself unredeemable. Jane was fun, quirky, bubbly, and determined to get to know Kyle. She was like sunshine bursting through the dark cloud hanging above his head and I absolutely loved watching her break through.
I just loved it when they were together. He tried his best to resist her and her random movie quotes but it wasn’t happening and I was so happy when he finally gave in and just went with it. And one of my favorite parts of the book was when he bought—and kept—her watercolor painting. He may think he’s too dark and damaged, but he’s a good one.
 
Okay, so when I bought the ebook, I had the option of adding narration for $1.99, so of course, I added the narration and I was happy with the choice. I read the first few chapters, then switched to the audiobook. I was actually listening to this one while using the mini-stepper and, I was so caught up in the book, I didn’t realize that I had stepped 2,000 plus repetitions (which was 4,000 plus steps) so I definitely had jelly legs but it was so worth it considering the book was so good.
 
If you’re into audiobooks, I highly recommend this one. It’s dual narration, actually the first one I listened to that was, and I had fun with it. Lance Greenfield was brilliant and really added something to Kyle. And he was great for the female narration as well. Plus, that voice of his just made Kyle so much more yummier. Kristen Leigh took a bit to get used to because she was a bit robotic at the start but did finally even out.
 
Overall, I had so much fun with this one and really hated to see it end.