Nicole Reads A Lot

so many books, so little time

Lasting Kind of Love by Jen A. Durand

Title:Lasting Kind of Love
Author:Jen A. Durand
PublisherDurand Publishing
Publication Date:October 31, 2016
Publisher's DescriptionFive years ago, Luca left Ashton with a broken heart and Olisa stayed behind determined to not regret her decision.

Now the mother of a four-year-old boy and working as a neonatal nurse practitioner, Olisa wasn’t looking for love. She had a good life.

When Luca returns to care for his dying father, the two reconnect. The bond between the two hasn’t faded.

Both wiser and older, they needed to discover whether they had a lasting kind of love.
My rating:**.5

Luca and Olisa dated throughout high school and college. Luca, who craved the approval of his distant single father, joined the military after they graduated from college. Olisa felt blindsided by her fiance’s decision and worried about him and their future. She decided that she didn’t want to feel that way and eventually broke up with him when he was deployed. Although they were no longer dating, they remained in contact after their breakup. Not over the dissolution of their relationship, Olisa had a one night stand and ended up pregnant with her son Cam, now four years old. It took some time for Luca to get over Olisa being pregnant by another man, but they resumed their friendship, and when Luca returned to town to take care of his ailing father, it was Olisa he asked to get him from the airport.

This book tells the story of how Luca and Olisa found their way back to each other, but I have to be honest, it was basically the shortest journey ever. These two characters still loved each other, and from their flashbacks and present scenes, it was clear that they each viewed the other as The One. As refreshing as it was to read a book where the protagonists weren’t constantly getting in their own way with needless distractions, there’s something to be said for the satisfaction that one feels when characters separated by circumstance successfully bridge a gap and come together. This book had none of that. The characters faced challenges that the author never believably tied to their relationship with each other. Gregory, Cam’s father, popped into the book past the 50% mark, but why? He wasn’t a viable romantic interest for Olisa and Luca never really viewed him as a rival. He didn’t even make much of an effort to actually see his son, considering the legal avenues he could have used, if he’d chosen to do so. The Gregory subplot seemed pointless and added nothing to the story as a whole.

I spent a lot of time thinking about how to review this book. It’s not bad, but it is incomplete and requires editing. It has a clear focus, namely getting Luca and Olisa together, but lacks any sense of genuine conflict. The only part of this book that seems fleshed out (pardon the pun) is the sex scenes. At $2.99, I expect more from a book. As it is now, Lasting Kind of Love reads to me more like a $.99 book. If the author can introduce a believable source of conflict (internal or external: what must the protagonists overcome to be together?) and make Luca and Olisa’s coming together feel more like a triumph and less like a foregone conclusion, I can see it being worth the higher price tag.

I received this book from the author for free, in exchange for an honest review.

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Beauty from Pain by Georgia Cates

Title:Beauty From Pain
Author:Georgia Cates
PublisherSelf published
Publication Date:January 29, 2013
Publisher's DescriptionThey agreed on three months...but their love knew no boundaries.

Jack McLachlan is a winemaking magnate and easily one of Australia’s most eligible bachelors. His success and wealth make him no stranger to the complications of romantic relationships and that’s why he goes to extreme measures to avoid the hassle. He prefers simplicity in the form of a beautiful female companion with no strings attached. He arranges relationships like business deals and they’re always the same. No long term relationships. No real names.

It’s his game and his rules. He’s content to play as usual, but when Laurelyn Prescott enters his life, his strategy must change because this player is like none he's ever encountered. His world is turned on its head after he begins a three month affair with the beautiful American musician. Nothing goes according to plan and as he breaks more and more of his own rules for her, she’s exceptionally close to becoming something he never thought possible. His ultimate game changer.

Not recommended for younger readers due to sexual content and language.
My rating:**.5

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You guys, Jack is a sexist egotist. He’s not some self-assured, sexy alpha man. He’s a guy who is completely okay with running roughshod over Laurelynn and expecting her to make all of the sacrifices in their relationship. He lies when he finds it convenient and doesn’t even tell her his real name, yet wants to be in every part of her life. I nearly gave up on this book halfway through, but then I convinced myself that he wasn’t as bad as I’d thought. I started to see Jack as somebody who had a lot of growing up to do, and who was becoming a better person.

Ha, no. Halfway through the second book, I had to be honest with myself: Jack is awful (more details to follow in that review).

 

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Impasse by Sylvie Fox

Title:Impasse
Author:Sylvie Fox
PublisherPenner Media
Publication Date:November 2013
Publisher's DescriptionHot nights, huge consequences.

Divorced and done with her dry spell, Holly Prentice is ready to get back in the game. But with two conditions: her future mate can’t be married to his career, and he has to have a couch. Nick Andreis loves his job, and his only furniture is a king-size bed. He’s also single, sexy, and six years Holly’s junior. Any guy this hunky and carefree can’t be serious about the future.

After one spontaneous and explosive night, Holly decides that her search for Mr. Right can wait. Nick can be Mr. Right Now.

Nick has waited years for Holly. Now that she’s dating again, he’s determined to be the only man in her life. He wants what Holly wants: forever. Convincing her of that won’t be easy, but Nick agrees—with fingers crossed behind his back—to Holly’s idea that they can be bed buddies until someone serious comes along. His plan: use the time between their passionate nights to convince her that he is the one.

Will Holly’s unexpected pregnancy change the rules of their games? Or can they both decide to play for keeps?
My rating:**.5

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I loved the first 50% of this book, and then hated almost all of its second half. Initially, Nick was a great character. He’d carried a torch for Holly for a couple of years, and was excited about getting back in touch with her after she’d distanced herself from everybody during her divorce. He made a serious play for her, then recalibrated his strategy once he recognized how hesitant she was to enter into a relationship with a guy six years her junior. I’m Holly’s age, and while I felt that her initial concerns about dating a 26 year old man in LA were valid, I thought she did Nick a disservice, treating him more like an age than a person. Nope. As it turns out, Holly was so, so right.

Nick, whose unspoken thoughts were about how much he loved Holly, who made grand declarations of love, and repeatedly stated his desire to commit totally let her down when she told him that she was pregnant. Nick, the same Nick who confidently said that he was ready to accept whatever came of them not using protection the first time they had sex, dropped the effing ball and turned into the worst caricature of manchild unwilling to grow up and accept responsibility. Although still disappointing, this would have made sense if he’d been the person in the relationships to express doubts about its longtime viability, but he’d spent the entire first half of the book trying to convince Holly that they belonged together, and that he was serious about her. With serious like this, who needs deadbeats? His wishy-washy attempts to justify his awfulness just made me angrier.

Since this is a romance novel, I knew that Holly would end up with Nick, but I really wish that some non-asshole love interest would have shown up and illustrated to Drew and Nick exactly how badly they’d each messed up when they mistreated a great person like Holly. I really respect how Holly was able to pick herself up each time life knocked her down, and how she didn’t allow the selfishness of Drew and Nick to embitter her. I really didn’t believe Nick’s change of heart at the end of the book. What finally made him really what a jerk he was being to Holly? I was pretty much done with Nick during the conversation where he told his father Dominic that Holly was pregnant, but I only started to hate him around Thanksgiving.

Sophie and Dominic were the only two supporting characters who had distinct personalities. I really respected how Dominic managed to express his disappointment but still offered his son the emotional support needed to turn Nick back into a semi-decent human being. Sophie was mostly a good friend, although I felt that she gave Nick more credit than he deserved. Drew was more of idea than a person, and even when he showed up, he felt more like a plot device than a legitimate concern. Helena served no purpose that I could see, save to annoy me every time she was on a scene. Asha, Ryan, and Hayes were like so much background noise.

My dislike of the second half of this book greatly affected my ability to enjoy the work as a whole. Also, I wish that the title had stayed In the Nick of Time. I’m pretty sure that having such a cheesy pun for a title would have dissuaded me from reading this book, which might have been for the best. 26 year old men of the world: lose my number.

I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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The King of Threadneedle Street by Moriah Densley

Title:The King of Threadneedle Street
Author:Moriah Densley
PublisheresKape Press
Publication Date:December 2013
Publisher's DescriptionHe owns three shipping companies, a diamond mine, and his own castle.
He knows Portuguese, Hindi, Mandarin and Morse code.
His assets net thirteen million.

Everyone thinks Andrew Tilmore, Lord Preston, the financial prodigy dubbed “The King of Threadneedle Street,” has it all, but he wants the one prize money can’t buy: his childhood sweetheart.

Alysia Villier can’t say if it’s worse having Andrew’s father in control of her inheritance or Andrew in control of her heart. He’s ruined her for any other man, but she simply can’t give in to him. She knows he’s destined for great things — marrying a courtesan’s daughter would jeopardize everything he stands for.

Keeping Alysia out of trouble and away from eager suitors becomes a cross-continental quest for Andrew, and he won’t be stopped by his old-fashioned family or the disapproval of the ton. After all, he’s a man with the power to play newspapers and investors like pawns, tumble world markets and incite riots… but can he win the biggest gamble of his life?
My rating:**.5

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This book is as dramatic as a SoapNet (RIP SoapNet) marathon, and contains about as much logic. I didn’t mind it while I was reading it, but when I thought about it afterwards, I realized that a solid 85% of it was unbelievably illogical. Why would a man raise his mistress’s child alongside his own children? Having done this, why would he then object to his teenage son falling in love with the mistress’s beautiful daughter? Having seen this happen, why would he try to use the concepts of familial obedience and honor to dissuade his son from marrying his love? Wouldn’t having one’s mistress openly reside WITH ONE’S FAMILY already tarnished the family’s name for at least a generation? And what is up with Andrew’s mother? How can a woman who at the beginning of this novel is portrayed as being incapable of performing the most routine hostessing duties manage to so capably vex his supposedly brilliant son with her marriage-minded scheming? And why would a paragon of tonnish virtue would repeatedly try to sic a fortune-hunting ho-bag on her own son? And what kind of stock exchange/black wizardry is responsible for the money-related goings-on in this novel? He’s rich? He’s poor! He’s richer!!!! Or something.

The bottom line here is that nothing that takes place within this novel makes any sense if thought about for more than two seconds. Characters change on a dime, as is needed to further whatever scene is currently taking place. This book is utterly ridiculous, but as it only cost $.99, I’m not too bothered by this. Here’s what would have happened if this book made sense:

Andrew: I love you. You love me. Our three-year age difference becomes increasingly less creepy the closer you get to twenty. Let’s get married.

Alysia: Your parents won’t approve. I’m the illegitimate daughter of your father’s mistress.

Andrew: I don’t care my parents. Frankly, they’re irredeemably awful. Let’s go to Gretna Green, get married, come back to England, live our lives, and dare them to shun us in front of society. I’m like Donald Trump with better hair and and a soul and you’re like Frieda Kahlo with less self-confidence and no unibrow.

Alysia: I don’t get any of those references, but since you often speak in code, I’m not going to worry too much about it. Yes, I’ll marry you.

Boom goes the dynamite! The end.

Of course, this would have changed this story from a novel into the treatment for an entirely different novel, but hey, I’d read that book, too.

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Paradise Hops by Liz Crowe

Title:Paradise Hops
Author:Liz Crowe
PublisherTri Destiny Publishing
Publication Date:October 2012
Publisher's DescriptionA brutal attack left Lori Brockton convinced she was damaged goods. By the time she emerges from hiding two years later, ready to run her family's famous brewery, she's determined to be independent--never rely on anyone ever again. Nearly a year of working in every corner of Brockton Brewing Company, from warehouse to pub, front office to kitchen, teaches her all she needs to know about the business. Then, she comes face-to-face with masculine perfection in a suit and her world is rocked in more ways than one. Garret Hunter is the new Brockton business manager who takes one look at the beautiful, sad young woman and his entire existence coalesces around winning her heart.

But standing between Garrett and what he believes is his true love, is a six-feet six-inch blond-haired bad boy brewer.

Eli Buchannan is a craft beer rock star, recently hired by Brockton to drag the company into the 21st century. He brings innovation and attitude plus a prima donna ladies' man reputation. But he's sworn off anything resembling commitment, personal or professional, after getting burned at his last job on both fronts.

Garret Hunter is "The Perfect Man" -- handsome, successful, stable, eager to settle down. Eli Buchannan... is not. Compelling, smoking hot, creative and elusive, he represents everything Lori Brockton should avoid. But just as she makes a difficult choice, a drastic life-changing shift occurs, and nothing is ever the same again.
My rating:**.5

15836126Okay, what did I just read? I had a fairly good handle on this book for the first 2/3 of it, and then it went somewhere completely unexpected. The thing is, the detour, reroute, side trip, or whatever it was, wasn’t terrible, it just didn’t make much sense to me, given what we had been given to work with in the earlier parts of the book. Without giving away too many details, I will say that the final third of this book felt to me like the author didn’t want to make Lori unlikable, and took a fairly drastic step to prevent her from becoming the object of hatred by people on Team Eli OR Team Garrett.

Maybe I’m completely misreading that decision, but I felt that Ms. Crowe only briefly touched on a lot of things that could have made the characters come alive a little better. I shared Eli’s concerns over Garrett’s saintliness. Likewise, I felt that Eli was supposed to be an grouchy alpha male, but often ended up being an unnecessarily rude bully. I get that Lori, Garrett, and Eli had some personal issues to work out, but I really didn’t like the tone of some of their interactions.
I had serious reservations about how this book ended, but I don’t regret reading it.
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