Nicole Reads A Lot

so many books, so little time

Blue’s Beauty by Bailey West

Title:Blue's Beauty (Bluette Men Series Book 1)
Author:Bailey West
PublisherSelf-published
Publication Date:December 2016
Publisher's DescriptionRoman 'Blue' Bluette falls in love with a woman. He plans on spending the rest of his life with this woman but circumstances prevent that from happening. He settles on being alone for the rest of his life and focuses his energy on other things until he meets her.
She is an unconventional woman in the sense that she loves girly things like pretty clothes and manicures but she is also just a comfortable hanging out with the guys, arguing about sports and riding motorcycles. She believes in love but her encounters with it so far have left much to be desired. She wants someone to love her and to take care of her. She almost considers settling for one or the other until she meets him.
Can they love each other through their brokenness to find true happiness?
**This book is part of a series but it is a standalone novel. No cliffhangers.***
My rating:****

bluesbeautyIn terms of the storyline, this book was a 4 star read. It wasn’t without flaws, but the author wrote a compelling religious romance that I didn’t hate (and I generally can’t stand religious romances). Zenetta was a great character, and I really loved Blue’s evolution. Blue’s Beauty was surprisingly funny and possessed an underlying sweetness that touched me and made me feel more invested in what was happening than I normally do when reading romance novels. While I am not usually a fan of closed door romances, the steamy scenes in this book almost seemed de trop; the novel seemed so full to me that the scenes that raised the sensuality level didn’t actually feel necessary.

The book’s editing was frankly awful, and I was kind of shocked at how many errors abounded in this book. While I would 100% read the next book in this series, I really hope that Ms. West has a lot of success and can get her books edited professionally – I am confident that better formatting, grammar, and attention to detail could only enhance the experience of reading her work.

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Color Me Crazy by Carol Pavliska

Title:Color Me Crazy
Author:Carol Pavliska
PublisherEntangled Publishing
Publication Date:May 2015
Publisher's DescriptionNever fall for a rockstar...

Julian Wheaton views the world through a kaleidoscope of synesthesia, seeing the colors of every sound he hears. His life as an iconic rock guitarist was a stressful psychedelic trip that nearly destroyed him. Now he’s abandoned the rock ’n’ roll lifestyle for the peaceful sanctity of his recording studio, but when fiery Cleo Compton comes to work for him, she brings chaos with her.

Cleo Compton has had her flings with rockstars—and it’s left her wary and bruised. Julian may have those sexy bedroom eyes and drool-worthy tattoos, but Cleo is determined to keep things strictly professional—until Julian turns out to be every dream she’s ever chased. When he risks it all to hit the road with a band again, Cleo fears he’ll return as the one thing she can no longer abide—a rockstar.
My rating:****

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This book had a lot happening in it and I appreciated how Ms. Pavliska brought it all together in a meaningful way. In some stories, the synesthesia itself would have been the entire focus, but I like how she showed what having that condition could mean to a musical prodigy with nearly crippling performance anxiety. Julian and Cleo were a good match, and I appreciate the time that both of them put into thinking about things before jumping into a relationship together. Cleo in particular was interesting to me, and I liked watching her consider the implications of dating Julian, based on her own past history. I found the inclusion of the characters’ families helpful to understanding why they were the way they were. I didn’t know what to expect when I requested this book from Netgalley, but this is a very solid story, and I’m glad that I read it.

I wasn’t actually a fan of the cover, and it might have turned me off if I hadn’t read the description before seeing it.

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Point of No Return by Tiffany Snow

Title:Point of No Return
Author:Tiffany Snow
PublisherMontlake Romance
Publication Date:May 20, 2014
Publisher's DescriptionKathleen Turner wasn't expecting to fall in love when she came to Indianapolis a year ago, much less with two very different men. And not just any men. Brothers.

Blane Kirk, former SEAL turned attorney, is every woman’s dream man. A playboy who changes women as often as he changes his tie, trying to hold on to Blane could only break Kathleen's heart.

Commitment is a foreign word to Kade Dennon, assassin-for-hire and genius hacker, and safety is non-existent. A future with Kade would surely end in disaster—for both of them.

Past betrayals come to a head and the choice Kathleen makes could sign her death warrant. Everything’s at stake as Blane, Kade, and Kathleen reach the Point of No Return.
My rating:****

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I was so excited when this book appeared on my ereader at midnight! It was a great ending to a really enjoyable birthday.

Without going into too much detail, I will say that this book had what was, in my mind, one of the most satisfying resolutions to a love triangle that I ever read. First of all, all three of the participants made it out of the book alive, which isn’t always a given. Second, the guy I liked better won. That’s not always guaranteed to happen, either. What can I say? I always root for the underdog.

There are a few things that I found strange and the whole politics subplot required way too many explanations and exceptions to be believable.

For instance: Why is the US senator uncle so often in Indiana, when he represents Massachusetts? (Click on the blurred text to see potential spoilers.) Further, How would Blane, who’d previously run for governor of Indiana AND came from an entirely different political party, be able to easily step in an win his uncle’s seat? That bit of foolishness greatly detracted from this book.

I read to learn, and I really appreciate Ms. Snow letting us know that, at the heart of all anti-fracking activism is Russian money. Because fracking is totally okay and 100% nontoxic and not even kind of harmful to the environment. Sure, stupid people who blindly support environmental causes may have been duped into taking up the cause, but what they don’t know is that anti-fracking activism is largely funded by Russian money. Why, you ask? Because Russia’s greatest export is natural gas, they’re desperate to block all US efforts to cultivate American sources of energy. See? Fracking isn’t bad for the environment, it’s bad for Russia’s bottom line, and the dumb and/or greedy will do all they can to prevent Americans from ever knowing the truth about anti-fracking efforts. This is some Bond villian-level thinking, and I congratulate Ms. Snow on her healthy paranoia. Meanwhile, I think I just strained an optic nerve, what with all the eye-rolling I did through that part of the book. Between this and Kathleen’s singing an internal ode to 2nd Amendment rights in the middle of a gun battle, I don’t have to reach far to figure out Ms. Snow’s political leanings.

This story is a 4.5 star for me, easily. The action is great, the romance has depth, most of the players transcend easy classifications to achieve realness [except for the one-note bad guy(s)], and the ending works for me on many levels, including karmic. The political motivations at the heart of this story are a total joke, but I enjoyed the rest of the book enough not to care too much.

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The Resistance by S.L. Scott

Title:The Resistance
Author:S. L. Scott
PublisherSelf-published
Publication Date:April 28, 2014
Publisher's DescriptionYou don't choose when.

You don't choose where.

And you don't get to choose who you fall in love with.

The minute he opened his sexy mouth, Holliday Hughes should have known Jack Dalton was trouble. His smooth pickup lines, broad shoulders, and ridiculously handsome face charmed her right out of her clothes. She gave into her desires, the instant attraction blinding her to the obvious.

One night. That was all it took for Holliday’s world to be flipped on its axis. Jack Dalton was cocky. Smug. Volatile. Demanding. He ignited something deep inside her like no other, but there was something more to this brooding bad boy. There was a dark side to him she couldn't help but be drawn to.

Torn between what she knew about him and a mysterious side he tried to hide, could she walk away or was he simply too hard to resist?
My rating:****.5

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So what gives? Although this blog is entitled “Nicole Reads a Lot,” this is my first post in over a month. Why???

The short answer is: I haven’t read anything that excited me in that time period. I have read a few books that seemed pretty terrible, and many more that were just meh, but nothing that I felt like writing about. Until now! I just finished The Resistance by S.L. Scott, and I can’t remember the last time I got this excited over a book by a new (to me) author.

The premise of this book intrigued me: Holliday unknowingly hooks up with a rock star. Secret famous people stories are maybe my catnip. Novels that feature this type of storyline tend to take me to my happy place. Dalton, who is more commonly known by his stage name of Johnny Outlaw, is a world-famous rock star who takes a chance when he meets a woman who attracts him and, equally important, doesn’t initially know who he is. He just wants to be loved, dammit!

This book reads like Ms. Scott reached inside my brain, saw what I liked, and wrote a book combining all my favorite things. Holli is a smart, sex-positive, successful businesswoman who makes no apologies for her success. Her business exists because she came up with a good idea, but if she hadn’t been a great entrepreneur, it would never have gone anywhere. She doesn’t have as much of a social life as she’d like, but she makes time for her best friend. She isn’t awkward around men, and is pretty much my hero. Unlike in some books where I don’t get how the heroine (hate that word) appeals to the hero (ditto), it’s pretty easy to see why a rich, famous, world-weary rock star would fall for somebody like her.

The secondary characters in this book really add to its depth. We get a better understanding of Dalton and Holli through their connections to the people in their lives. Danny and Rochelle, in particular, are well-realized, and I’d be interested in seeing what happens in either or both of their lives (did I just come up with something?)…

The only things that I wished Ms. Scott would have included in this book are more information about JD’s relationship with his family, and really any information at all about Holliday’s. Otherwise, this book was pretty much perfect for me.

Judging by the number of her books that are on sale at Amazon, Ms. Scott isn’t a new author, but she’s new to me. I’m really happy that she’s on my radar, and I plan to enjoy going through her back catalog over the next several weeks.

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The Tycoon’s Socialite Bride by Tracey Livesay

Title:The Tycoon's Socialite Bride
Author:Tracey Livesay
PublisherEntangled Publishing, LLC
Publication Date:February 10, 2014
Publisher's DescriptionTo avenge his mother's mistreatment at the hands of her upper-crust employer, self-made real estate tycoon Marcus Pearson needs entree into their exclusive world. When D.C. socialite Pamela Harrington comes to him for help, Marcus realizes the golden admission ticket he's been seeking has suddenly fallen into his lap.

Pamela will do anything to save her favorite cause, even agree to a marriage of convenience. The altruistic "it-girl" isn't worried about the pretend passion with Marcus turning real; she's sworn off powerful, driven men who use her for her family's connections.

So she'll deny the way her pulse races with one look from his crystalline blue eyes. And he'll ignore the way his body throbs with each kiss from her full lips. Because there's no way he'll lose his blue-collar heart to the blue-blooded beauty.
My rating:****

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I really enjoyed this book. This is a side of the self-made bajillionaire genre that I feel often gets glossed over: having money isn’t always enough. Marcus learns the hard way that, no matter how many zeroes come before the period in his net worth, they’re not going to be enough to help him break into the upper strata of Washington DC society. Without those contacts, he’s never going to be able to buy the one piece of property that he needs to gain closure from his childhood. The person who can help him get his foot in the door is Pamela Harrington, a blue blood whose relationship with her powerful father is perfectly encapsulated by the fact he makes her address him as “[the] Senator.” Brrrr.

This is my favorite type of interracial romance because people of different races fall in love, but their races themselves are no. big. deal. This part, too, felt correct, because at this level of society, lineage trumps wealth. In fact, it is Pamela, the racial minority in the relationship, who has the contacts and social clout that Marcus’s money cannot buy. I enjoyed being able to read this book without feeling like I’d wandered into a fetish novel.

As with the best marriage of convenience books, both Marcus and Pamela have clear motives for going into this relationship. It was a pleasure to watch them grow closer to one another and to integrate this new relationship into their existing motives. Marcus in particular is flawed but is a compelling character to read about. Pamela is a multidimensional character whose advantages in life haven’t insulated her from everything, and who wields her privilege to help those who are less fortunate. It takes Marcus longer to turn his gaze outward, but the rewards are immense. This is how to do a revenge plot without being completely annoying. I highly recommend this book!

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

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