Nicole Reads A Lot

so many books, so little time

Faster Longer by Colleen Masters

Title:
Faster, Longer (Take Me... 3)
Author:Colleen Masters
PublisherHearts Collective
Publication Date:December 2013
Publisher's DescriptionTwo star crossed lovers racing together at breakneck speeds, barreling along at 200 miles per hour willing to destroy everything and everyone in their path.

Siena can't escape.

She's trapped now.

How did she fall so helplessly, recklessly in love with the one man who could single handedly turn her life upside down?

Harrison has her wrapped up in his strong, muscular, tattooed arms. Right where he wants her. Right where she wants to be.

Even as the championship is decided and fate comes crashing down around them—betrayal, blackmail, death...all seem like nothing compared to Siena's ultimate secret.
My rating:***/***.5

18809594I’m glad that I came to this series late enough that book 3 was available immediately after I’d finished books one and two. I hate having to wait a long time between books in a series, and I’m always reading so many things that it tends to be a struggle to remember pertinent details of previous outings if any significant amount of time passes between when the books are published. Since I read book three in the same week that I read books one and two, I actually remembered lots of details. Details, for example, that the author did not. In the third book, Siena is said to have been born in the United States, even though she definitely states in the first book that she was born in Italy. I can barely remember what I email my staff from one week to the next, though, so I have very little room to talk.

While things that worked for me really worked for me, the things that didn’t really really didn’t.

The good:

  • Harrison and Siena continue to have smoking chemistry and make for some dynamic scenes.
  • I loved how supportive Harrison is of Siena. He believes that she is good at her job and tells her so.
  • I am always a fan of heroes who want the world to know of their love for the heroine, but who are willing to allow her to set their pace.
  • The scenes at Siena’s family home (excluding Enzo) worked for me. I liked seeing the Lazio family interact, and it was nice to see Harrison integrated further into Siena’s life.

The bad:

  • How fast do Charlie and Bex move? I mean, really. I would have liked to see a bit more of them as a couple, so that their trajectory in book three made more sense to me. Aside from sneaking out of hotel rooms and then having Bex ditch Charlie on a couple of occasions when Siena needs her, I didn’t get much sense of their relationship.
  • The scenes where Bex and Siena reconnect after a seemingly long time of barely talking felt repetitive and seemed like they barely worked within the book’s timeline.
  • What crawls up Enzo’s culo? It was annoying in the extreme that he is completely okay with being a hypocritical juicebox to his sister, seeing as how he is dating a member of Team McClain (who’s a total cow to his sister). Ugh. This kind of behavior is bad enough in Harlequin Presents novels, but I didn’t expect to see it here. [I believe that this is a legitimate character choice, do it’s you bad writing, I just dislike Enzo.]
  • Some members of the press’ lines of questioning at the press conferences in these books have seemed unbelievably unprofessional to me, but the one at the Lazio home seems particularly egregious. I don’t believe that other journalists would find some of the questions asked to be okay. It seems to me that such a vindictive/gossipy reporter would be more likely to stir up interest in himself, than in the answers that he receives.
  • The “mystery” in this book is not well done at all. I suspected the eventual culprit from book one, but definitely knew who it was by the second book. It disappointed me not that none of the characters suspect this person even briefly, especially considering his or her behavior in book two. The scene where it finally all adds up for Siena is only missing a neon downward arrow that says, “Bad Guy Here.” The title of this third book should have been A Bunch of Red Flags. Look, Ma! I stuck with the racing theme.

This video sums up how I felt about people in this book not recognizing the culprit.

(Click blurred text to reveal hidden text.)

Why in the world doesn’t anybody give Marques a second thought after he frames Siena with that doctored video? Even if they are ultimately swayed by the fact that his car has been “tampered with,” they still should discuss, then dismissed him as a possibility. The fact that none of these supposedly intelligent people pick up on what a ruthless creep Morales is made me think less of them as characters, and this book as a form of entertainment.

I guess what I’m saying is that I found this book to be a bit of a mess, aside from Harrison and Siena. I’m going to regard this more as a table-setting book, since the way that Faster Longer ends means that book 4 should be awesome and insane. If you’ve stuck with this series for this long, I recommend this book and that you give book 4 a chance, but I didn’t love this novel as I’d hoped that I would. I keep going back and forth on the rating, but I would say that it’s more of a 3.5 star book than 3.

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

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Some Like it Sinful by Robbie Terman

Title:
Some Like it Sinful
Author:Robbie Terman
PublisherEngangled: Edge
Publication Date:November 25, 2013
Publisher's DescriptionTheir attraction is sinfully delicious…
 
A struggling business and one act of vandalism may have brought them together, but bakery owner Chloe Nelson and professional hockey player Griffin Lange get along like chocolate and pickles. Chloe needs the famous (and famously unattached) Griffin to attract people to her pastries, and Griffin needs the curvaceous and fiery Chloe to keep him out of trouble. A fake relationship to keep the media interested seems like the perfect plan.

But when temptation throws them into bed together, a new plan arises. Why not make the fake real? Griffin’s winning every home game, and Chloe’s business has never been better. Both know it’s only physical—and only temporary. But can they drop their defenses for love, even if it means getting a little bit sinful?
My rating:***

SomeLikeItSinful-500

I found this book’s premise highly improbable, but it was the laughably thin sabotage plot that had me rolling my eyes here. This was like “Kimmy Gibbler on Full House”-level intrigue, and I was embarrassed at how long it took for these otherwise functional adults to catch on. Griffin gets slammed into baseboards and knocked around for a living, so I don’t mind that he wasn’t putting two and two together and coming up with four, but what was Chloe’s excuse for not figuring out what was happening here? It annoys me when otherwise sharp characters are dumbed down in an unbelievable way in the name of plot advancement. I wish that this book had just stuck to the romance, non romantic interpersonal relationships, and sports angles, and not tried to shoehorn in an ill-fitting “mystery.”

Aside from those gripes, I did like how Chloe and Griffin grew closer to one another and also blossomed as individuals. I felt that they both changed in believable ways as a result of being with each other. Although it wasn’t perfect, this book is a pleasant enough way to pass a few hours. Fans of Susan Mallery and others who enjoy contemporary romance novels should give this title a try.

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A Second Blessing by Anne Keller

Title:
A Second Blessing (Life in Blessing Tales)
Author:Anne Keller
PublisherAmazon Digital Services
Publication Date:October 31, 2013
Publisher's Description38-year old Abbey Carr was living her dream life – married to a successful chef, mother to two great kids, and living in a nice house in the Los Angeles suburb of Hollywood. But all of that changed the day she discovered the love letter from her best friend in her husband's pants pockets.

Now, ten months and one divorce later, Abbey finds herself living the crazy life of a single mom in Long Beach, California, raising two tweenies by herself while trying to keep a roof over their head working as a freelance PR specialist.

As her first Christmas alone approaches, she can't help but wonder what she will do with herself. The kids would be away at her ex-husband's family reunion in Florida and most of her freelance public relations clients were closing down for the holidays. It looked as though it was just going to be her and her mom all alone around a lonely, little Christmas tree.

Unbeknownst to her, fate had other plans…

A last minute business trip sends her a thousand miles away to the idyllic mountain community of Blessing, Colorado where she just might find her SECOND BLESSING.
My rating:***

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I received this book for free from Story Cartel in exchange for an honest review.

Abbey was a great protagonist. She was realistic and easy to identify with. I felt bad that so many people in her life were giving her static about dating/sex so soon after her divorce, but her relationship with Bill felt natural and unforced (even with the helpful pushes they received from others). Bill was a likeable hero, and the two of them together made a lot of sense. Being privy to his internal dialog was helpful. Abbey’s ex made a satisfying villain, although he, like many of the other secondary characters in this novel, seemed to be underdeveloped and propped up by stereotypes. Wendy was 100% a caricature of the remorseless home-wrecking shrew, and it was impossible for me to understand why Abbey would have been friendly with such a vile person.

The story felt a bit underdeveloped and the ending rushed, but I would have given it a higher rating if it had been better edited. I went into this book thinking like a reader, and not an editor, but was pulled out of what was happening by the grammatical errors, poor word choices, and typos that I encountered. This is not a complex story, but it is an enjoyable read, and I wish that more care had been taken in its presentation. As this book one in a series, I can understand why certain aspects of what happened in Blessing weren’t given more attention, and I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

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The Perfect Match by Kristan Higgins

Title:
The Perfect Match
Author:Kristan Higgins
PublisherHarlequin
Publication Date:October 29, 2013
Publisher's DescriptionWhat if the perfect match is a perfect surprise?

Honor Holland has just been unceremoniously rejected by her lifelong crush. And now—a mere three weeks later—Mr. Perfect is engaged to her best friend. But resilient, reliable Honor is going to pick herself up, dust herself off and get back out there…or she would if dating in Manningsport, New York, population 715, wasn't easier said than done.

Charming, handsome British professor Tom Barlow just wants to do right by his unofficial stepson, Charlie, but his visa is about to expire. Now Tom must either get a green card or leave the States—and leave Charlie behind.

In a moment of impulsiveness, Honor agrees to help Tom with a marriage of convenience—and make her ex jealous in the process. But juggling a fiancé, hiding out from her former best friend and managing her job at the family vineyard isn't easy. And as sparks start to fly between Honor and Tom, they might discover that their pretend relationship is far too perfect to be anything but true love…
My Rating***

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I really enjoyed some of Ms. Higgins’ earlier works, although some of her more recent books haven’t worked for me. I’m not sure what I was expecting from The Perfect Match, but the immediate desire to cringe wasn’t it. I found the first part of this book so excruciating to read that it actually made me a little angry. How could Honor be so dense when it came to Brogan? I had trouble believing that a woman this smart and capable could so wildly misjudge a relationship. I had to put this book down for a while, until my sympathetic embarrassment faded. I was near my mother when I read the dinner scene, and my litany of, “Oh my god, no. Oh, no no no no no. Oh, Honor!” made her ask me what was happening in the book. Nothing pleasant, I can assure you.

Once I got over feeling like my face would never again cool down, I continued to read this book and was genuinely drawn to most of the characters. Goggy and Pop’s relationship kept me in stitches. Honor’s other relatives were strange but obviously loved her a lot. Brogan was mostly lacking in personality, and I felt that his character needed to be better defined. What was this man’s appeal? Hotness is great, but we weren’t given much evidence of his other awesome qualities, and certainly nothing that would explain a love that spanned half of Honor’s life. Tom, on the other hand, was a multifaceted delight, and his relationship with Charlie was one of the book’s highlights for me.

Although this is not my favorite of Ms. Higgins’ books (that would be either The Next Best Thing or Too Good to Be True, depending on my mood that day), I certainly enjoyed it more than I did The Best Man.

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The Love of My (Other) Life by Traci L. Slatton

Title:
The Love of My (Other) Life
Author:Traci L. Slatton
PublisherParvati Press
Publication Date:January 31, 2013
Publisher's DescriptionPainter Tessa Barnum is struggling. Her husband left, she's broke, about to be evicted and has made some serious missteps in her career. When scruffy Brian Tennyson explodes into her life, claiming to be from an alternate universe, Tessa thinks he's a crazy vagabond - albeit one with mysterious and undeniable appeal.
Then he informs her that in his world, they're married.
Tessa's universe is turned upside down as the truth of love and loss, victory and humiliation, and second chances comes back to her. She has to choose love over logic to reach that state of anticipation where miracles unfold.
The secret to her own life was always in her heart.
My rating:***
tlomolts

Seriously, this cover…wtf?

This story started out slowly for me. I couldn’t understand why Tessa would put up with so much from Brian, who she assumed was a crazy stalker. Even though she kept telling him to go away, she never seemed surprised or truly perturbed that he was everywhere she was. It seemed far fetched that she would suffer his company so often if she were truly afraid of him.

I liked the idea of parallel worlds where things were familiar, but different, but wished that there had been some ambiguity as to whether Brian’s story was true; knowing that he was right just made the “real world” scenes with the Tessa who wasn’t his wife that much more trying for me.

I don’t get how the book’s cover related to the story. I think that it made me expect this book to go in a complete different direction than it actually did, and may dissuade some readers who would otherwise enjoy this book from picking it up. The Love of My (Other) Life had a good premise and was a decent read, but while packed more of an emotional punch than I would have expected from the way it opened, it never completely drew me in.

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