Review: Duke with Benefits by Manda Collins

dukewithbenefitsI don’t read a whole lot of historical romance as of late but Duke with Benefits was getting some twitter buzz from readers I trust and I decided to dive in and request it. I am really glad I did! Manda Collins is a totally new to me author but I am super glad I gave her a try.

Lady Daphne is determined to never marry. She is a brilliant mathematician and feels she will lose her goals in life if she is forced to marry. But that does not mean she wouldn’t mind a little dalliance with the Duke of Maitland, Dalton. He is scandalized, to put it lightly, that she would propose a tryst when he is interested in much more. Daphne intrigues Dalton and he would like to get to know her better. He is especially intrigued with her mind, quite different from most of the women he knows.

Daphne is mortified when Dalton turns her down and it only reinforces in her mind that she needs to focus on math. In particular, she is determined to find the Cameron Cipher which could potentially uncover great riches for her and her friends. Of course, it’s not as easy as it seems.

This is a super sweet romance. It features one of my favorite types of historical heroines, the brilliant bluestocking. This dates back to my love of Amanda Quick historicals. I can definitely see a hint of Amanda Quick in Manda Collins which made me enjoy it all the more.

I also really liked the rather unconventional path Dalton and Daphne had in falling in love. I loved how Daphne took the lead and told Dalton how she felt attracted to him even if it didn’t go the way she planned. That is a brave act for any woman! And I really liked that her bravery wasn’t a turn-off for Dalton. He was definitely still quite intrigued! There is just a really great sweetness to their romance and it plays well against the mystery back drop. Dalton wants to be a hero to Daphne but it turns out what she needs is a partner and I liked how that worked out through the course of the story.

Duke with Benefits is the second book in the Studies in Scandal series. I have not read book one but this book stands very well on its own. And for a Manda Collins newbie, I think it was a great introduction to her writing.

This is a book (and most likely a series!) worth taking a look at.

ARC provided by Netgalley.

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Review: Mr. Hockey by Lia Riley

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Hey friends! It’s time for another hockey romance review. I’m quite pleased to say that I really, really enjoyed Mr. Hockey by Lia Riley. Firstly, it features a librarian (a children’s librarian at that!) who happens to be a major fangirl for hockey. I can relate to being a fan of SO MANY THINGS, hockey included. This is only the tip of the iceberg as to why I really liked the heroine of Mr. Hockey, Breezy (not her real name, a nickname that I admit it took awhile to get used to).

Breezy is leading a children’s program at the library when she gets the bad news that her guest reader, the captain of the Denver Hellions, has to cancel his appearance because he’s stuck in a different state. Enter Neve, Breezy’s sister, and the man she is currently interviewing for her podcast, Jed West, Mr. Hockey himself. He is also Breezy’s dream guy. The man she crushes on and owns tons of merchandise related to him. She knows it’s a tad overboard but hey, we all have those kinds of crushes (mine is Tyler Hoechlin). Unfortunately, a minor wardrobe malfunction sends Breezy running to her car while wearing Jed’s raincoat.

Cue Jed tracking Breezy down at her house where he plays handyman and is pretty much the sweetest guy around. Like, I am falling hard for him at this point so it’s no wonder Breezy has a super crush. Of course, this is Jed West. There is no way he would look at her seriously. Fortunately, he does take her seriously and before she can blink, Breezy is spending time with Jed, getting to know him beyond his media persona. And he’s even better than she could have ever dreamed.

Jed is really enjoying spending time with Breezy. She just makes him feel happy and relaxed. Unfortunately for him, he doesn’t realize that Breezy has been holding back on just how well she knows him. When Jed finds out that Breezy has been a fan all along, will he end the burgeoning relationship?

I really liked the unexpected way these two came together. It was a very sweet meet cute. Not only does Jed help with unexpected roof leaks, but he meets Breezy’s mom and grandma in one fell swoop. It has all the makings of a great romantic comedy which I really liked.

I liked Breezy a lot and related to her. Unfortunately, much like myself, she comments on her bigger body a bit too much for my tastes. I know it’s realistic but I also like a more body positive outlook in my romance books overall. That is probably my biggest qualm about Breezy. Otherwise, I liked how she fought for her library and her job. I liked how her funny personality and some of her snappy remarks to Jed. These two have great chemistry from the moment they meet.

While things worked out a little too tidily in the end, I can’t fault this too much because frankly, I enjoyed this book from start to finish. This is my first time reading Lia Riley and it will not be my last. I’m already looking forward to book two, Neve’s story.

Mr. Hockey is available now! Pick up your copy today if you enjoy romance books. The hockey angle is just a bonus!

Mister Hockey

Mister Hockey
Hellions Angels #1
By: Lia Riley
Releasing July 11, 2017
Avon Impulse

Her biggest fantasy is about to become a reality. . .
Jed West is Mr. Hockey. The captain of the NHL’s latest winning team, the Denver Hellions—and the hottest player on the ice—at least according to every magazine. .and Breezy Angel. Breezy has been drooling over Jed at games for years, and he plays a starring role in her most toe-curling fantasies. But dirty dreams don’t come true, right?
Then Jed saunters through the doors of her library, a last minute special guest for a summer reading event, and not only is he drop dead gorgeous up close, his personality is straight up swoon-worthy. He even comes to the rescue when she has an R-rated “Super Book Worm” costume malfunction. But when he mistakenly assumes she’s more into books than pucks, she’s too flustered to correct his mistake. And then comes a big kiss, followed by a teensy-tiny problem. Jed’s dating policy is simple: Never date a fan.
So what’s a fangirl going to have to do to convince her ultimate crush that he’s become less of a perfect fantasy, and more like the perfect man. . .for her?

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Jed West’s stomach curdled faster than overheated hollandaise sauce as he squinted at the menu for Zachary’s, Denver’s most popular all-day breakfast hangout. Ghost-like shadows haunted the specials list, blurring the descriptions for peanut butter French toast, country fried steak benedict and sweet potato pancakes.  Ah, shit. Not fucking now. There went the prices too–the dollar signs and numbers blurring until barely legible.

No point blinking. He knew the drill. Jaw tight, he reached for his orange juice, took a swig and waited. Short bouts of double vision had dogged him ever since Game Seven, the pattern the same. After a minute or two, his focus would snap back to normal as if nothing had happened. Until then, he needed to follow one of coach’s favorite axioms: “Suck it up, Buttercup.”

Who cared about the damn menu anyway? He pushed it to one side, having already ordered the “Manwich”, chorizo and eggs smashed between a jalapeno cheddar biscuit–the kind of breakfast that wanted to kill you in the best kind of ways–and crunched ice. Too bad the cubes didn’t pass on their chill, because this. . .situation for lack of a better word, was getting under his skin and it shouldn’t.

No–Scratch that. It couldn’t.

Unexplained double vision wasn’t a walk in the park, but facts were facts. And the ugly truth was that if he didn’t quit batting his lashes like Scarlett O’Hara with a fly in her skirt, The Post’s toughest sports columnist would glance up from across the table, mistake his tic for a cheesedick wink, and go Lord of the Flies on his nut sack.

At least for the moment, Neve Angel was occupied. She hunched over her digital voice recorder, dark bangs obscuring her sharp gaze as she fiddled with the control settings. Her lips moved to the upbeat Buddy Holly song piping over the sound system while she plucked a mic from her messenger bag. His vision came back online in time for him to read the orange button pinned to the front.

Had a Ball at The Rock Creek Testicle Festival.

Christ, looked to be an authentic souvenir too.

Slamming his knees together, he forced a grin, the one that had potential endorsements lined up around the block, eager for him to shill everything from vitamin infused coconut water to shaving cream. He unwrapped the paper napkin from around the fork and knife, and began tearing the corner into neat strips.

No doubt the eye thing was fatigue-related, an inevitable toll from the grueling NHL season and subsequent hard-fought playoffs. Everything would be all right in the end. If it wasn’t all right, it wasn’t the end.

“You plan on telling me what’s up with Mount Napkin Shreds?” Neve leaned her elbows on the recycled wood tabletop, a signal they were shifting into interview mode. Her brows arched beneath her thick-cut bangs. “Nervous about being in the hot seat, princess?”

“Yeah, terrified,” he answered laconically, not missing a beat. Hiding his true feelings behind a mask of confidence was a reflex; it came with the territory of having the “C” stitched on the front of his jersey. A good captain never showed fear to an opponent. “A jackal’s bark is worse then it’s bite.”

“Jackal? Don’t tell me you’re using Gunnarisms now.” She rolled her eyes. “And I’d so wanted to enjoy my bagel without gagging.”

The Hellions Head Coach, Tor Gunnar, had a reputation for dismissing the press as “jackals.” He fostered a tense relationship with journalists, in particular, the tiny woman sitting opposite. Neve had run a piece on his divorce a few years ago. He retaliated by refusing to call on her during press conferences. Neve hit back with increasingly critical op-eds. Their mutual enmity had devolved to the stuff of local legend.

LiaAfter studying at the University of Montana-Missoula, Lia Riley scoured the world armed only with a backpack, overconfidence and a terrible sense of direction. She counts shooting vodka with a Ukranian mechanic in Antarctica, sipping yerba mate with gauchos in Chile and swilling fourex with stationhands in Outback Australia among her accomplishments.

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Blitz: Ready to Run by Lauren Layne

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A reality TV producer falling for her would-be star: 

a Montana heartthrob who wants nothing to do with the show.

READY TO RUN
I Do, I Don’t #1
Lauren Layne
Releasing Aug 22, 2017
Loveswept

The Bachelor meets The Runaway Bride in this addictive romance novel about a reality TV producer falling for her would-be star: a Montana heartthrob who wants nothing to do with the show.

Jordan Carpenter thinks she’s finally found the perfect candidate for Jilted, a new dating show about runaway grooms: Luke Elliott, a playboy firefighter who’s left not one but three brides at the altar. The only problem? Luke refuses to answer Jordan’s emails or return her calls. Which is how she ends up on a flight to Montana to recruit him in person. It’s not Manhattan but at least the locals in Lucky Hollow seem friendly . . . except for Luke, who’s more intense—and way hotter—than the slick womanizer Jordan expected.

Eager to put the past behind him, Luke has zero intention of following this gorgeous, fast-talking city girl back to New York. But before he can send her packing, Jordan’s everywhere: at his favorite bar, the county fair, even his exes’ book club. Annoyingly, everyone in Lucky Hollow seems to like her—and deep down, she’s starting to grow on him too. But the more he fights her constant pestering, the more Luke finds himself wishing that Jordan would kick off her high heels and make herself comfortable in his arms.


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Lauren Layne is the New York Times bestselling author of romantic comedies. She lives in New York City with her husband. A former e-commerce and web marketing manager from Seattle, Lauren relocated to New York City in 2011 to pursue a full-time writing career. She signed with her agent in 2012, and her first book was published in summer of 2013. Since then, she’s written over two dozen books, hitting the USA TODAYNew York Times, iBooks, and Amazon bestseller lists.
 

 

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Review: A SEAL’S Courage by JM Stewart

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Military romances aren’t always my go-to trope but there was something about the description of A SEAL’S Courage by JM Stewart that caught my attention. I love the idea of two people who have feelings for each other finally acting on it. That is what drew me to this story and kept me hooked.

Lauren is ready to live her life. She’s always been a cautious woman and now that’s she’s on the verge of turning twenty-eight, she wants to shake things up in her life. She wants to lose her virginity. She wants to be knock-down drunk one time. And oh yeah, she would really, really like to kiss Trent Lawson, the unrequited crush of her dreams. Unfortunately, she’s had to settle for being his friend. Which isn’t awful of course, she’s happy to be a shoulder and a companion for the Navy SEAL but she definitely longs for more. With her two best friends’ convincing, she signs up for Military Match, hoping to break her really, really awful streak of dating. In a twist of fate that is both good and bad, she is matched with Trent.

When Lauren confesses her crush to Trent and that she’d like to spend the night with him, he panics. Lauren is a good friend and Trent does not want to damage that friendship in any way. Unfortunately, saying no to Lauren is getting more difficult as his feelings for her grow beyond friendship.

Firstly, I loved how Lauren finally just said basically, I’ve had enough. She is going to find a man to seduce and finally live out her wildest fantasies with. She would love for it to be Trent but when he says no, she decides to set her fantasy aside and find someone who may be willing to give her a shot. But it’s not easy and Lauren went through a whole range of emotions that JM Stewart did a great job of describing. Lauren really resonated with me as a character because she’s definitely a bit cautious in life but sometimes, even she realizes you just have to jump in one hundred percent and find your chance at happiness.

Trent is kind of a mess but he’s working to get his life back on track. His ex-wife left him when she realized she didn’t want to be a SEAL wife anymore. Trent witnessed his military dog, Cooper, and a SEAL member die and he blames himself. He also suffers from PTSD that keeps him up at night with bad nightmares. When Lauren started visiting him and just spending time with him, it really made a big difference. She didn’t ask for anything, didn’t require long talks about his feelings. She was just there and Trent is really afraid to lose that. He takes awhile to figure out that maybe, instead of losing Lauren, having her more intimately involved in his life will make things even better.

There is a lot of great chemistry between these two characters, as well as a deep history that bonds them. I was rooting for Lauren and Trent even as I wished Trent would find his own courage and decide to pursue Lauren a bit more ardently. That being said, I liked where they ended up together. The story ends on a very positive and romantic note and well, I just really loved that aspect of it. All in all, A SEAL’s Courage is a genuine and sweet romance. Lauren however was the true star of the story for me and I really liked seeing her embrace her choices and just go for everything head-on. No guts no glory as it were.

ARC provided by publisher for review.

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A SEAL’S COURAGE by JM Stewart
(July 11, 2017; Forever Yours eBook; $3.99; Military Match Book 1)

A sizzling new series about three friends looking for love-and the sexy SEALs who are ready to fulfill their craziest fantasies.

He’s a man on a mission.
Navy SEAL Trent Lawson isn’t a man to back down from a challenge. Ever since he opened his eyes in that army hospital to learn the men from his unit were gone, Trent has been determined to live life in their honor. Even if that means facing his most terrifying mission yet…dating.

She’s done playing games.
Lauren Hayes has standards. In fact, she’s got an entire list of them. There’s only ever been one man to come close to making the cut-Trent Lawson. Except her best friend’s too-sexy-for-his-own-good brother is strictly off-limits.

When Trent and Lauren find themselves matched up by a dating service, the chemistry between them is nothing short of explosive. They both know getting involved is a huge mistake, but life is too short to walk away from something this good.

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J.M. Stewart is a coffee and chocolate addict who lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, two sons and two very spoiled dogs. She’s a hopeless romantic who believes everybody should have their happily ever after and has been devouring romance novels for as long as she can remember. Writing them has become her obsession.

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Review: My Roommate’s Girl by Julianna Keyes

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myroommatesI am starting to realize a lot of my favorite writers right now are Canadian. Julianna Keyes makes the list hands down! When she surprised all her readers with My Roommate’s Girl, I was thrilled. A new book from an author I love? YES! A total surprise?? Even cooler.

Aidan has just moved in with Jerry, his new roommate. Jerry is pretty much an all around nice guy, unlike Aidan who has a past with quite the rap sheet. He is in his third year of college now and things are finally coming together for him. Until he meets Aster, Jerry’s girlfriend. And then, well, he falls hard and wants her NOW. Which is hard because obviously she is Jerry’s girlfriend. But Aidan may be slightly reformed but he’s not a nice guy (at least in his mind). He is determined to break them up and have Aster for himself.

And he does. But it doesn’t quite go as he expected, or how I as the reader expected either which is good because I wanted to be able to like and root for Aidan. Which you know, I can’t do if he is a down and out jerk. But he is not! He is just a little bit diabolical.

When Aster and Jerry break up, she is blindsided by his infidelity. But somehow she keeps running into Aidan and soon, a tentative friendship (with the possibility of more) is growing between them. Aster has secrets in her own past, things I didn’t quite expect honestly. But it made her an interesting and thoughtful character.

Aidan has some tough choices to make in this book, beyond just trying to be with Aster. Shades of his past come back to haunt him and he has to decide how he will proceed. Will he lose Aster over wrong choices? I don’t want to give anything away but I feel like the Chris Pine like cover does not do Aidan justice. Sure, he is hot but there’s a lot riding on his college experience, more than perhaps most young adults have to deal with.

Aster and Aidan do not have a perfect romance at all. It’s pretty imperfect all around but that is what makes it interesting, at least to me. AND another great joy in this book is the introduction of Frisbee Baseball. Is this a thing in real life? I don’t know but I had a lot of fun reading about it in the book.

Julianna Keyes writes books with a great combination of thoughtful character development and real world fallout. Nothing goes exactly as planned for Aidan in this book but I think he becomes a more interesting guy for it when all is said and done. He’s not the bad guy but he definitely has a little bit of the anti-hero to him which kept me reading. I’d say this is definitely his story, more so than Aster’s, who, while likeable, remained a bit more distant to me as a character.

My Roommate’s Girl is available now and it is well worth your reading money. Julianna Keyes strikes awesomeness again!

ARC provided by author for review.

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Review: Stay by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy

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Stay BN KoboWhen Stay by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy showed up on my Kindle, it was a Monday night and thankfully, I was done with work. I was incredibly ecstatic to finally get the chance to read Matt’s story. This is another wonderful, Canada strong romance from two of my favorite writers.

Hailey Taylor Emery runs a successful business with her ex-husband, Jackson. Fetch is a service business that does just what the name suggests. It fetches things, whether services or items, for people. The company has a growing list of clientele, including a hockey player Hailey is almost sure is her crush, Matt Eriksson. Hailey gets called on to walk Matt’s dog and learns that yep, her crush is alive and well and she is walking his freaking dog, Rufus. It’s both a dream come true and a nightmare because Hailey cannot do anything about her crush, obviously. Client confidentiality is a big thing for her.

However, when Matt finally meets HTE (who he has nicknamed “Hottie”) he wants to get to know her. Her passion for hockey and general passion for life appeals to him. But he knows it cannot ever be a real relationship. Been there, done that, have the awful divorce to prove it, in Matt’s mind anyway. Hockey is not conducive to a happy relationship but he’s determined to spend some time with Hailey anyway.

Ah, Stay, my only complaint is that you are not a longer book because I could have spent way more time in the world of Matt and Hailey. I really, really liked these two together. Both of them have been through a recent divorce, both have had their confidence shaken, and both love hockey. They really match in a great way, but not in a way where there is no chemistry or spark in their relationship.

Hailey faces a lot of pressure, both in her new relationship with Matt, and with her business. She’s overheard a few things in the office that make her worry Jackson, not only her ex-husband but her best friend all her life, may be trying to buy her out. She is angry and scared but also nervous about confronting him. Their relationship is not all roses at this point but it is clear that they both still care about each other. I really liked that the authors made it a point to show that Jackson still respects and cares about Hailey. They just didn’t make a match as husband and wife.

Matt is the kind of guy hockey sex dreams are made of. Not only is he a dedicated hockey star, both on and off the ice, but he loves his twin girls, cares about his dog, and is a good man in general. He truly believes he does not deserve a happy ever after which really made me sad. I have to say, his ex-wife was just not a nice woman at all. Some of her words bordered on verbal abuse to me. I’m sure that was not the authors’ intention but as we learn more about her motivations and the divorce, the cruel things she had said to Matt seemed even crueler because of her guilty conscious. I was not a fan of this woman at all.

Matt and Hailey though? I just loved these two and watching them fall in love. From the very beginnings where they texted and lightly moved into flirting, until the very end when Matt conquered two of his fears, well, I was just happy for these two. This is the great stuff romances are made of!

And, I’ll just leave you with this little quote. There are a lot of funny scenes in Stay and this is just a small glimpse into one of those scenes.

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Stay is available June 20, 2017!

Other reviews:

A Novel Glimpse

Happily Ever After Book Reviews

Kelly Bowen Sweepstakes!

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Forever Romance is giving away a Kelly Bowen historical romance prize pack and asking for your help in choosing the cover design for Kelly’s February 2018 release. Click the link below to enter for a chance to win and you can cast your vote on the dreamiest duke while you’re at it!

Click here to enter for a chance to win.

Prize pack consists of a Forever/Forever Yours tote bag and the following six (6) Forever titles from Kelly Bowen:
Duke of My Heart by Kelly Bowen
A Duke to Remember by Kelly Bowen
Between the Devil and the Duke by Kelly Bowen
A Good Duke is Hard to Find by Kelly Bowen
I’ve Got My Duke to Keep Me Warm by Kelly Bowen
You’re the Earl That I Want by Kelly Bowen

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NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. A PURCHASE DOES NOT INCREASE CHANCE OF WINNING. Void where prohibited. Must be legal US resident 18 years or older as of June 16, 2017 to enter. Sweepstakes begins June 16, 2017 at 12:01 am ET and ends June 30, 2017 at 11:59 pm ET. Visit http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/features/forever-romance/kellybowen/ for Official Rules and details. Sponsor: Hachette Book Group, Inc., 1290 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10104.

 

Kelly-Bowen-Author-Photo[1][1]Kelly Bowen grew up in Manitoba, Canada. She attended the University of Manitoba and earned a Master of Science degree in veterinary physiology and endocrinology. But it was Kelly’s infatuation with history and a weakness for a good love story that led her down the path of historical romance. When she is not writing, she seizes every opportunity to explore ruins and battlefields.

Currently, Kelly lives in Winnipeg with her husband and two boys, all of whom are wonderfully patient with the writing process. Except, that is, when they need a goalie for street hockey.

 

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