Saturday, September 23, 2017

Early Review of Chasing Christmas Eve (Heartbreaker Bay, #4) by Jill Shalvis

Title: Chasing Christmas Eve: A Heartbreaker Bay Novel
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Heartbreaker Bay
Format: Hardcover; 272 pages
Publisher: Avon (September 26, 2017)
ISBN-10: 0062697218
ISBN-13: 978-0062697219
Author's Website:
Notes: I received an eARC loan from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I am also an Avon Addict which means I love the books that Avon publishes enough to volunteer to read as many ARCs and books as they can send my way. So you'll be seeing a lot of books reviewed by me from this publisher. Please note, however, that if I don't like a book, it will be truthfully reflected by a low rating.

Due to the fact that I read an ARC, any quotes will need to be checked against the final version as Advance Reader Copies are subject to change. 
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 
Once upon a time a twenty-eight year old author lost her writing mojo so she decided to runaway from it all--her family, her publisher, her commitments--but nothing seemed to go the way she planned. She wanted to go to Aruba, Jamaica, or someplace exotic, but a late season hurricane kept that from happening. Then as she was going through security they took one look at her research material and lets just say homeland security was not too happy with her. Colbie had a lot of explaining to do. Finally, upon reaching her destination, she threw in the towel and told the cab driver to "surprise me" as that was what had been happening to her all day. She ended up in a place called Cow Hollow and immediately, or pretty close, got knocked into a fountain. Everything that possibly could go wrong did and then she met him and her luck seemed to change.

Sometimes in life you need to stop fighting the current and let it take you where it may.
This was a cute, sweet, funny, and sexy read, but what else would you expect from author Jill Shalvis? This was the fourth book in the Heartbreaker Bay series and this may be my favorite of the bunch. This one could be read as a standalone, but you'll enjoy the story more if you know the people surrounding the couple, so you may want to check out the previous books in the series first.

Colbie Albright is a smart young author whose first book is about to become a movie. She's a little leery of people and decides to keep her identity under wraps so when Spence assumes she hasn't yet published a book, she doesn't correct him. Ironically, she's not the only one who doesn't want her identity revealed.

Spencer Baldwin is young, rich, and smart as they come. He also has just been named one of San Francisco's most eligible bachelors. Since then he's been having women throw themselves at him, sending him gifts and naked pictures and making marriage proposals. His friends are very protective of him so they won't tell Colbie exactly who he is and Spence isn't about to volunteer the information. Since Colbie confesses she's just in town for a few weeks, he lets his guard down with her and, she in turn, lets hers down as well.

I gave this one 5 out of 5 roses. I loved how Colbie and Spencer were both private and passionate people who understood one another. They are both fiercely loyal and each has been a bit overly obsessive about their work in the past. I love how Colbie is able to distract Spencer from his work and how Spencer is able to make Colbie realize she sometimes needs to put herself first. The two seem to counterbalance one another and you could just picture them growing old and gray together. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, STEAM rating--too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed.

Order of the Hearbreaker Bay series:

Friday, September 22, 2017

Early Review of Don't Let Go by Harlan Coben

Title: Don't Let Go
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Format: Hardcover; 368 pages
Publisher: Dutton (September 26, 2017)
ISBN-10: 0525955119
ISBN-13: 978-0525955115
Author's Website:
Notes: I received an eARC from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Fifteen years ago Detective Napoleon “Nap” Dumas' twin brother Leo and Leo's girlfriend Diana, were tragically killed in a accident on the train tracks in Westbridge. No one knows exactly what happened--if they were in the middle of a game of chicken with the train that went terrible wrong, if they committed suicide, or if they were the victims of some seriously bad luck--all anyone truly knows is that they died way too young. Now, years later, the tragedy is being called into question as one of the couple's former classmate and friend is found murdered and another, who's been missing since shortly after the accident, becomes the prime suspect. As the killings of Leo's and Diana's former classmates/friends start to stack up, a connection between the tragedy and murders seems the most likely scenario leaving Nap to wonder what really happened on the night his life change irrevocably all those many years ago?
Harlan Coben is one of the few authors that can keep me guessing right up until the end as to who dunnit. His books are like a fusion of 3-D jigsaw puzzles with a series of connect the dots. You can't solve the puzzle until you've separated the information into groups, connected all the dots within each grouping, and have stacked all the relevant information in order before piecing together what ultimately happened. He also doesn't disclose one important piece of information until the very end which can ultimately make all the pieces fit together or, if excluded, make all the carefully collected clues and information come tumbling down like a Jenga tower. In a nutshell, his thrillers are nail biters that keep you guessing till the bitter end while throwing you for a last minute loop that leaves you thinking, "Oh, so that's what happened." I personally love that.

Nap is a very likable character whose life changed drastically when his brother died. Letting go of loved ones is never easy, but losing a sibling makes you view your own mortality much more clearly, and reevaluate what is important in your own life. It's part of the reason Nap became a cop. He's a good cop, but he isn't above bending the rules when the rules don't seem to work. This could one day get him into trouble, but he just doesn't see it. As the investigation into Rex Canton's death seems to have more and more links and ties to his brother's death, it's as if an old wound that never truly healed has been reopened. He's still haunted by his brother's death and still talks to him, even though it's five years since his passing, which, I believe, is part of Nap's coping mechanism.

I couldn't help but give this one 5 out of 5 roses. It captured and held my attention from the very start. I enjoyed the twists and turns, and the journey that led to the answer of what happened all those years ago. I admit I was totally off and was sad to find out what really happened. I liked how something Nap did years before is what ultimately led to the connection between the murders. I'd like to see more of this character, and find out how everything affected him in the long run. For fans of Harlan Coben's Myron Bolitar series, Myron makes a small appearance in this one, but if you haven't read any of the books in that series, you won't feel lost. I highly recommend this one. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Early Review of Acting on Impulse (Love on Cue #1) by Mia Sosa

Title: Acting on Impulse
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Love on Cue (Book 1)
Format: Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Avon Impulse (October 31, 2017)
ISBN-10: 0062690345
ISBN-13: 978-0062690340
Author's Website:
Notes:  All quotes need to be checked against final copy as they are subject to change. I received an eARC loan from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I am also an Avon Addict which means I love the books that Avon publishes enough to volunteer to read as many ARCs and books as they can send my way. So you'll be seeing a lot of books reviewed by me from this publisher. Please note, however, that if I don't like a book, it will be truthfully reflected by a low rating.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 
Tori was just dumped by her boyfriend--not in person, not by phone, and not by text messaging, but very publicly during an interview on a talk radio show. When asked if there was anyone special in his life he'd responded, "No", and then announced he was taking a "breather" from the dating scene.  Angry, upset, and desperate to get away, she books a last minute trip to Aruba giving herself some time to relax. recover, and reflect on the whole relationship. While there she meets Carter. She's sworn off men decreeing them off-limits, at least for the moment, but there's something about Carter that draws her to him.

Carter Stone just finished filming his first movie, and he's in the worst shape of his life. He looks like an emaciated version of Grizzly Adams. He's come to Aruba to relax and begin gaining back the weight he lost for the role he played. At present he doesn't look like the TV heart throb that he is and that suits him just fine. The weight loss and beard have taken their toll on him, but he likes the anonymity it affords him. When he meets an attractive woman who is just his type, however, it makes his pursuit of her all that more difficult as his is not the only eye she's caught at the resort. She's gonna make him work for her attention...
This was a sweet, humorous, and sexy story. I was intermittently laughing, chuckling, and grinning while reading. I liked Carter from the start. He's knows what he wants and is patient and determined enough to wait for it. Tori, on the other hand, is skittish and wary of him at the beginning, but as she gets to know him she slowly, oh, so slowly, starts to warm to his pursuit.

Tori was a strong, confident and smart young women who values her privacy. When she learns Carter's true identity she's torn. On the one hand she feels something stirring between them, on the other she doesn't want to end up being known as one of his many conquests. Carter has his work cut out for him because Tori has no wish for a casual relationship. I actually liked that about her, and Carter has to convince her he's in it for the long haul.

Carter is the type of guy almost every woman falls for. He's sweet, thoughtful, and funny all wrapped up in a gorgeous package. He's the type of guy who has plenty of acquaintances, but few friends--by design. He's learned to be slightly wary of people because many have tried to use his stardom to further their own agendas over the years. Since he doesn't look like himself, given his present appearance, he feels free to open himself up to Tori, and lets her see the real Carter--Carter Williamson--not the made up persona of actor Cater Stone. While she makes him jump through hoops and leads him on a merry chase, he believes she's worth it because he sees something special in her right from the start.

Overall, I gave this one 4 1/2 out of 5 roses. It was cute, fun, witty and a most enjoyable read. The characters were easy to relate to and well rounded. The story had a steady pace and kept my interest from start to finish. A lovely debut by author Mia Sosa. I look forward to reading more books by her in the future. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earned a SHOWER rating--a cold shower is necessary (need I say more?). Some books should come with a warning - make sure your significant other is handy or your shower is in working order. lol

Monday, September 11, 2017

Early Review of The Way to London: A Novel of World War II by Alix Rickloff

Title: The Way to London: A Novel of World War II
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Historical Fiction
Format: Paperback; 384 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (September 19, 2017)
ISBN-10: 0062433202
ISBN-13: 978-0062433206
Author's Website:
Notes: I received and eARC loan from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Lucy Stanhope is a spoiled debutante living the good, but boring life in Singapore as World War II encroaches upon its shore. Just months before all hell breaks loose, her mother banishes her to England to live with her estranged aunt as punishment for her total disregard for priority and for almost sabotaging her stepfather's business deal. As the ship makes its way to England, however, it's torpedoed, and so begins a journey that will test her inner strength and beliefs ultimately changing her life forever.
This was a lovely journey of self discovery. When we first meet Lucy she is a self indulgent young woman desperate for attention, but who goes about getting it in all the wrong ways--sometimes to the point of recklessness. She's always felt a bit like an outsider, constantly being moved from one place to another and never setting down any roots. With no immediate plans for the future and constantly trying to gain her mother's approval and affections, she tends to act out and do what she wants. While not happy about going to England, she hopes she'll somehow manage to find her place in the world. When a chance encounter with a Hollywood producer suggests he could make her a star, she really think much of the offer. As the idea begins to take root, she sets her sights on being "discovered" as she suspects Hollywood might be her ticket to getting her what she wants. Her mother would no longer be able to deny her existence and maybe, just maybe, be happy to lay claim to her.

Bill is a young boy whom Lucy befriends. Separated from his mother during the evacuation program set up to save London's youth during the worst of London's air raids, Bill is equally ignored and frequently finds himself in trouble. In Bill, Lucy finds a kindred spirit often times seeing bit of herself in him. Right from the start, the two get along swimmingly. Together they decide to venture into the war torn region of London--one in search of his mother, the other for a shot at stardom.

Lucy is more than she first appears. As the story progresses, we watch her grow as an individual and find herself right before our eyes. Instead of trying to do things that will get her mom to notice her, she starts trying to figure out what she wants. She begins to wonder what would make her happy. That's a luxury that until recently she really had no control over. As she makes her way to London with Bill, she loses her prickly disposition and begins to open up to life, love, and all the possibilities that exist..

Overall, I gave this one 4 out of 5 roses. It hooked me at the get-go and kept my attention. I hadn't a clue what to expect with this one, but it was intermittently funny, witty, and serious. I enjoyed the multifaceted characters, and felt as if I'd stepped through a portal back in time. I'm not sure taking a young boy back to London in the middle of a war zone was the wisest of decisions, but I enjoyed the journey and story nevertheless. I'll definitely be reading more books by this author in the near future.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Early Review of Escape to You (Montana Heat, #1) by Jennifer Ryan

Title: Montana Heat: Escape to You
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Romance Suspense
Series:  Montana Heat (Book 2)
Format: Hardcover; 320 pages
Publisher: Avon (August 29, 2017)
ISBN-10: 0062697196
ISBN-13: 978-0062697196
Author's Website:
Notes: This one does include violence towards women, so be aware. I received an ARC from the publisher at RWA. All quotes need to be checked against the final version as they are subject to change prior to publication. All errors involving quotes are most likely my own.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Ashley Swan disappeared a little under a year ago from the Hollywood spotlight. She was at the height of her career and still climbing after winning her first of what many predicted would be many Oscars. With no evidence of foul play or anything to suggest she'd met her end, many believed she simply gave it all up and walked away. But when Ashley Swan stumbles onto the property of a DEA agent in the middle of a snow storm severely under dressed with a young boy in tow the truth of what really happened begins to unfold. She did not walk away. She was kidnapped.

Now trying to reclaim her life with the help of Beck, she'll need to make sure the man who kidnapped her doesn't get away with it. For the man who took her has powerful friends in high places, and enough dirt on many others that getting charges to stick on him will be very difficult.
Escape to You is the first in the Montana Heat series and a spin-off from her Montana Men series. DEA Special Agents Caden and Beck "Trigger" Cooke first make an appearance in Stone Cold Cowboy. Caden's story can be found in the Montana Heat prequel novella, Protected by Love. This story, of course, contains Beck's.

This was a roller coaster ride of a read. There were twists and turns, highs and lows, and just when you thought you knew everything that was going on, another layer of the story is revealed. There is a lot going on in this one and it makes for a very addictive and suspenseful read.

Ashley is a very strong and brave young woman who feels like a shell of her former self. She'd been touted as one of the most beautiful women in Hollywood. Now she looks like she could play the starring role on The Walking Dead without any makeup. When she sees a means to escape from her captor, however, she doesn't hesitate to take the young boy who was held captive with her along. Considering she has to carry the boy a good portion of the way in her condition, that says a lot about her character.

Beck, just came off of an undercover assignment that went terribly wrong, and is in hiding from those he attempted to bring down. He's hoping to stay out of the spotlight, and when Ashley tells him her story, he realizes they need to be very careful how they handle things. Ashley is afraid the media will twist things on her and make her out to be the villain. If the charges against her kidnapper don't stick, she'll forever be looking over her shoulder wondering if he's out there somewhere planning to come after her once again.

I couldn't help but give this one 5 out of 5 roses. It had all the things I look for in a good romantic suspense novel. I loved the chemistry between the two main character, the drama of the situation, the suspense from not knowing if the kidnapper would be caught, and all the twists and turns Ms. Ryan threw in between. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earned a FAN rating--the temperature in the room seems to have suddenly gone up a couple of degrees and a fan would be nice. I highly recommend this one. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Order of the Montana Heat series:

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Early Review of Dirty Dancing at Devil's Leap (Hellcat Canyon #3) by Julie Anne Long

Title: Dirty Dancing at Devil's Leap
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Hellcat Canyon (Book 3)
Format: Paperback; 384 pages
Publisher: Avon (August 29, 2017)
ISBN-10: 0062672886
ISBN-13: 978-0062672889
Author's Website:
Notes: I received an eARC loan from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All quotes need to be checked against the final version as they are subject to change prior to publication. All errors involving quotes are most likely my own.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Avalon Harwood was on top of the world. She'd help create a new game that became one of the hottest selling gaming apps on the market. It led to the start of a new company and kept a significant amount of money in her bank account.  Just as she thought life couldn't get any better, her world came crashing down around her. She found her long term boyfriend and co-creator of GradYouAte in bed with another woman.

Trying to get her emotions in check, she runs home to Hellcat Canyon where she makes the impulsive decision to purchase a house that she's loved from little on. The house was put up on the auction block and she paid a pretty penny for it. Then she finds out the person she'd been bidding against was one of the house's previous residents--a guy she'd once had the biggest crush on, Maximilian “Mac” Coltrane. She also finds out he happens to be her new neighbor.

He's hoping to convince her to move out.
She's got other plans.
And so a battle of the wills, wit, and pranks ensues...
This was the third book in the Hellcat Canyon series and it can be read as a standalone. Other than taking place in Hellcat Canyon, the previous two books don't really come into play with this story which primarily focuses on the two main characters, Mac and Avalon.

This was a book that reminded me a little of The Hating Game by Sally Thorne. The way these two tried to out do each other with their pranks and to force the other's hand was too funny. It was a battle of will, wits, and pranks that had me giggling and laughing throughout the book. It also allowed you a little insight into each of their characters. While the pranks left me shaking my head, they weren't mean spirited only deceptively devious mostly in a hilarious way.

Avalon Harwood is a smart and strong young woman who is emotionally distraught when she comes home. Her feud with Maximilian “Mac” Coltrane comes at just the right time. It lets her focus on something other than her heart ache. The fact that he's a gorgeously handsome man and that she is extremely attracted to him helps even more.

Mac has issues of his own. The family everyone thought to be so perfect really wasn't. His father is presently residing in jail. His brother and he seldom speak, and all of that has had a profound affect on him. He's gone back home to find himself. Avalon will unwittingly help him.

I couldn't help but give this one 5 out of 5 roses. I enjoyed observing the banter, shenanigans, flirting, and chemistry going on between this couple. I liked watching what started as a mutual indifference for one another turn into one hot, steamy, and meaningful relationship. Plus, the grand gesture at the end won over my heart. While the beginning was more emotionally charged than some might like, I loved how Avalon handled herself and coped with everything. Additionally one of the last things she says to her ex had me grinning from ear to ear. I'd quote it, but I'd be getting into spoiler territory. On the Lisarenee Romance Reading Scale, this one earned a STEAM rating--too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed. I loved it and highly recommend this one.

Order of the Hellcat Canyon series:

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Early Review of Love Will Always Remember (Shades of Love #3) by Tracey Livesay

Title: Love Will Always Remember
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Shades of Love
Format: eBook
Print Length: 257 pages
Publisher: Avon Impulse (August 29, 2017)
Publication Date: August 29, 2017
Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
ASIN: B01GZS3624
Author's Website:
Notes: I received an eARC loan from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All quotes need to be checked against the final version as they are subject to change prior to publication. All errors involving quotes are most likely my own.

Leighton Clarke is engaged to Thomas Moran. Together they hope to become one of  D.C.'s power couples. The only problem is that Leighton finds herself in the uncomfortable position of being extremely attracted to his younger brother, Jonathan. She manages to reign in her attraction, but when an accident leaves her with amnesia, things get complicated because Jonathan tells the hospital staff he is her fiance so she won't be alone...

"Leighton is in a coma, With a swollen. Brain." He emphasized the pertinent words, in case his brother hadn't initially understood their importance.(...) 

"I can't. The new system needs to be in place before the end of the fiscal year." 

"They can have someone else handle it."

"If they send someone else, I can kiss this partnership goodbye. I've given that firm ten years of my life. That partnership is mine."

"Your fiance is here, fighting for her life. You need to be here with her. Helping her. Not in London."

"Leighton knows how crucial this assignment is. I'll get valuable face time with some of the partners. She'll understand."

"How can she understand? I don't understand."

Love Will Always Remember is the third book in the Shades of Love series and it can be read as standalone. While the couples from the previous book make an appearance, their stories are self contained and no spoilers from the previous two are revealed in this one. You can go back and read them later and not feel like you know everything already.

This was a sweet and sexy take on While You Were Sleeping but with some major plot twists. At first I had some apprehensions about a woman falling for her fiance's brother, but quickly realized that Thomas and Leighton's relationship isn't as it should be. Thomas is too self involved and a marriage between the two is destined to fail. His reaction to Leighton's accident put the exclamation point on that sentiment.

The contrast between Jonathan and Thomas was interesting. Both are successful and smart, but their priorities and personalities differ drastically. Thomas' career comes before all else while for Jonathan those he cares for come first. I found it interesting that Leighton was attracted to these two similar yet very different men.

Leighton is a very complex individual. We find out early that she's changed a lot in the past several years. Because of her amnesia she's able to do something that few, if any, of us are ever able to do; look at her life from a different perspective--that of her six years younger self. What she sees disturbs her. As the mystery of how she went from who she was to who she became is revealed, we gain a deeper understanding of her relationships and choices. I loved how she managed to get a second chance at being the person she truly wanted to be.

Overall I gave this one 4 1/2 out of 5 roses. I loved how Ms. Livesay was able to capture how those people we trust and care about the most can have a profound affect on us. They help shape and mold us into who we are and who we'll become. How sometimes their decisions can make us question, sometime even alter, our own beliefs and choices, but not always in a good or positive way. I think this is my favorite book so far by Ms. Livesay. I loved the hidden depth flowing beneath the storyline. On the Lisarenee Romance Reading Scale, this one earned a STEAM rating--too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed.

Order of the Shades of Love series:

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Early Review of Nyxia (The Nyxia Triad, #1) by Scott Reintgen

Title: Nyxia (The Nyxia Triad)
Classification: Young Adult
Genre: Science Fiction
Series: The Nyxia Triad
Format: Hardcover; 384 pages
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers (September 12, 2017)
ISBN-10: 0399556796
ISBN-13: 978-0399556791
Author's Website: n/a
Notes: I received an eARC loan from Penguin Random House's First to Read program. Thank you.

Sixty-three years ago Babel Communications discovered a habitable planet they dubbed Eden. The planet, however, was already inhabited by a race they named the Adamites. The planet contains a rare substance called nyxia. Nyxia can be manipulated into just about anything the mind can imagine without much more than a mere thought. Babel Communications has found a number of ways to use the substance, and it has secretly become the most valuable resource in the world. Their mission is to harvest as much of this material as possible. The only problem is the Adamites don't take too kindly to strangers, but Babel thinks they've found a way around this.

 Adamites revere children and young people because they are no longer able to produce any offspring of their own. The reason is most likely that there are no more females left on the planet. Emmett Atwater is one of ten youths chosen to, according to Babel Communications, be at the forefront of the most serious space exploration known to mankind. He and his fellow recruits are told the results of their mission will change the outlook for our entire species.

From the start, however, Emmett has reservations regarding the mission. All the teens selected come from low income households. Then there's the little matter of the way he was picked for the program. Emmett never applied for the position, Babel Communications approached him through his school. As the mission gets closer and closer to Eden, he begins to see things that make him question things.

The stakes are high.
The rules keep changing.
Not all will survive.
And only 8 will be chosen to ultimately complete the mission.
This was a fun book that had something I'd like to see more of--a black protagonist. The young adult class of books appears to have overlooked a huge audience and we need more young adult black heroes, both female and male. There's a missed opportunity here and I'd like to see the gaping hole in this classification filled. It's long overdue, and I hope this is the first of many more such books to come.

Emmett is a smart, streetwise, observant, and adaptable young man. As he tries to fit in and earn as many points as he can to qualify as one of the lucky 8 to be chosen to be part of Babel Communications exploration team, we see him grow as an individual. He also manages to collect a few friends and enemies along the way. The selection process tests each candidate's survival and adaption skills, but quickly changes from a regular competition into something much more ugly and deadly. I can't help but feel the competition was meant to be a distraction under the guise of a teaching and selection tool, but we'll have to wait and see if this ends up to be the case.

I couldn't help but give this one 5 out of 5 roses. The story contained an intriguing mix of elements reminiscent of Ender's Game, The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, and Avatar while managing to stay uniquely its own. I'm curious what the next book has in store because just before the group reaches its final destination, Eden, the book ends. I can't wait to find out more about the Adamites and what Bable Communications is hiding. I'm positive there's going to be a lot of twists and turns thrown at us in the next book. I, for one, can't wait. An excellent debut for a talented new writer. I highly recommend this one.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Early Review of The Duchess Deal (Girl Meets Duke #1) by Tessa Dare

Title: The Duchess Deal
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Girl Meets Duke
Format: Hardcover; 288 pages
Publisher: Avon (August 22, 2017)
ISBN-10: 006269720X
ISBN-13: 978-0062697202
Author's Website:
Notes: I received a copy of the ARC at the annual RWA conference in Orlando.

Once upon a time a young seamstress, down-on-her-luck, decided to take matters into her own hands. She put on the wedding dress that had been ordered but never paid for, marched into her client's ex-fiance's house, and demanded payment. Little did she know the man, a Duke, would make her a  proposition--one she'd find she couldn't refuse...

 "Here is your choice, Miss Gladstone. I can pay you the two pounds, three shillings." (...) "Or," he said, "I can make you a duchess."
This is an example of Tessa Dare at her finest.The Duke of Ashbury, was injured during the war. He bears most of his battle scars on his face and many have trouble meeting his gaze as they are unable to see past his scars. Since returning from the war he's lost his fiance, become a recluse, and moonlights in the evening as a vigilante earning himself the moniker 'the Monster of Mayfair'. He knows a love match is not in his future so when Emily Gladstone barges into his study and doesn't cower, isn't appalled by his appearance, appears to be of genteel background, and is rather pretty, even in the horrendously gaudy gown his former fiance chose, he decides she's the one that he wants.

Emily is a strong young woman and a talented seamstress. For six years she's had to fend for herself and has done rather well considering her circumstances. When the duke makes his offer she doesn't immediately accept thinking it to be some kind of ruse to make her his mistress. When he persists in his pursuit, she finally takes him seriously, but timid she is not. She gives as good as she gets and doesn't let him get away with bullying her. She challenges him every step of the way and slowly coaxes and lures him out of his self imposed isolation and back into the land of the living.

I couldn't help but give this one 5 out of 5 roses. It was a deliciously sweet and sexy romance that had elements reminiscent of Beauty and the Beast. It's a book about seeing beyond the facade one presents to the world and seeing into the heart and soul of the individual who lurks beneath. I loved the way Emily handled Ash and the way she gently teased and coaxed the beast right out of him. While he tried not to show it, Ash had a lot of pent up anger and emotions he needed to work through. In some ways he mourned the loss of who he used to be. It took Emily to show him that he still had much to live for and while his outside appearance might have changed he was still the same man on the inside. I absolutely adored this one. On the Lisarenee Romance Reading Scale, this one earned a STEAM rating--too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed. I very much enjoyed this one.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Early Review of Disorderly Conduct (Academy #1) by Tessa Bailey

Title: Disorderly Conduct
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: The Academy (Book 1)
Format: Paperback; 384 pages
Publisher: Avon (August 29, 2017)
ISBN-10: 0062467085
ISBN-13: 978-0062467089
Author's Website:
Notes:  All quotes need to be checked against final copy as they are subject to change. I received an eARC loan from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I am also an Avon Addict which means I love the books that Avon publishes enough to volunteer to read as many ARCs and books as they can send my way. So you'll be seeing a lot of books reviewed by me from this publisher. Please note, however, that if I don't like a book, it will be truthfully reflected by a low rating.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 
Ever Carmichael has been told from little on that you can have anything you want in this world, but don't you dare believe a man when he says he can give it to you. You see, Ever comes from a long line of mistresses. Unlike her predecessors, however, she has scruples. She doesn't go for married men only those married to their jobs. When she spies Charlie at a bar he appears to holds all the right signs of being married to his law enforcement career. So she puts him through a series of questions to find out if he fits her criteria. He answers all of them correctly save one...

"Which part of the movie Titanic did you cry over?"(...)
"When the old people are holding each other in the bed..all the water rushing around them. I might have gotten a little misty."

Charlie Burns is not like the other men she's known. Is he a relationship guy disguised a s a casual fling? She just can't figure him out. When she decides to throw caution to the wind and give in to the attraction she'll get more than she ever bargained.
This was a traditional romance disguised as an erotic read. Thankfully, Charlie and Ever introduced themselves (yes, my friends have laughed at me for complaining about this not being the case in an erotic read) before going at it like rabbits. I found myself in equal measures laughing and shaking my head at this couple. Charlie is a bit full of himself at the start and Ever manages to keep him on his toes and, surprisingly, makes him prove he's worthy of her love. He's never too sure of his standing with her and she kind of likes it that way.

Ever is convinced that after a month she'll drop Charlie like a brick and never look back. Charlie has other ideas. There is a lot of fun wrapped up in this small story, and some of the things Charlie does to win Ever over are hilarious. I couldn't help but come away from this story with a huge grin on my face.

Overall, I gave this one 4 1/2 out of 5 roses. Usually I don't go above 4 with erotic reads, but I loved these two as a couple enough to forgo that rule. The only thing that slightly annoyed me was his nickname of 'cutie' for Ever. It kind of rubbed me kind of the wrong way--think nails on chalkboard--although for the life of me I have no idea why. I guess it's just one of those unexplainable things. While the speed dating episode could have come off a little creepy I found it rather charming, if a little devious. The image it conjured in my head left me laughing all day. On the Romance Rating Scale, this one earned a SHOWER rating--a cold shower is necessary (need I say more?). Some books should come with a warning--make sure your significant other is handy or your shower is in working order. This was a truly enjoyable read. lol

Monday, August 14, 2017

Early Review of Invictus by Ryan Graudin

Title: Invictus
Classification: Young Adult
Genre: Science Fiction
Format: Hardcover: 464 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (September 26, 2017)
ISBN-10: 031650307X
ISBN-13: 978-0316503075
Author's Website:
Notes: I received an eARC loan from the publisher via NetGalley. Thank you.

Once upon a time a boy was born out of time. His mother was a time traveler from 2354 AD sent to accurately record history when it happened as it happened. His father was a gladiator hailing from ancient Rome in the year 95 AD. There are rules about such liaisons, but one can't always choose whom one will fall in love with. The transgression alone did not cause reason for alarm. What did, however, was that while traveling between times Far's mother, Empra, gave birth. At first things appeared to be just fine, but then strange and unexplainable things began to happen...

This is Farway 'Far' Gaius McCarthy's story.

Out of the night that covers me, 
 Black as the pit from pole to pole, 
I thank whatever gods may be 
For my unconquerable soul. 

In the fell clutch of circumstance 
I have not winced nor cried aloud. 
Under the bludgeonings of chance 
 My head is bloody, but unbowed. 

Beyond this place of wrath and tears 
  Looms but the Horror of the shade, 
And yet the menace of the years 
      Finds and shall find me unafraid. 

It matters not how strait the gate, 
   How charged with punishments the scroll, 
I am the master of my fate, 
I am the captain of my soul. 


Far is about to graduate from the Academy. He's top in his class and doesn't make mistakes only calculated risks. When he takes his final exam, however, something goes amiss. He's convinced someone sabotaged his examination simulation program, but no one will believe him. They say that's just not possible and "final exams are final." The result is him not graduating and instead of becoming a cadet who travels through time, he's grounded with no possibility of the decision ever being reversed. So instead of earning a spot of the coveted Central Time Machine as he'd hoped, he's offered the illegal, yet much more lucrative position of commander of his own ship. He'll lead a crew of essentially time bandits and they'll travel through time rescuing historical artifacts, documents, books, etc. before they're destroyed forever by the ravages of war, natural disasters, fire and time. Did his potential future employer or someone else sabotage his Sim module or is something much more nefarious underfoot? He'll eventually get to the bottom of things. It'll just take some time. Luckily, he appears to have all the time in the world.*smirk*

Overall, I gave this one 4 1/2 out of 5 roses. It was a fun story that dealt with time traveling and multiverses. It also deals with the butterfly affect and how one seemingly small and insignificant change can bring about large unforeseeable consequences. Additionally, it inspires one to question what things could go wrong if people could time travel, and if you could change one decision in your life how would your life be different? Surrounded by a crew of his best friends I enjoyed watching this merry band of traveling companions travel through time and uncover a few treasures and mysteries along the way. I look forward to reading the next book in the series.

Friday, August 4, 2017

The Driver by Hart Hanson

Title: The Driver: A Novel
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Format: Hardcover; 336 pages
Publisher: Dutton (August 8, 2017)
ISBN-10: 1101986360
ISBN-13: 978-1101986363
Author's Website: n/a
Notes: I received an eARC from the publisher through Netgalley. Thank you.

Michael Skellig is a highly decorated war veteran. When he left the military he pursued a career in politics hoping to make a difference that would benefit injured and returning veterans. When he learned it would be years before anyone would reap the benefits of what he was doing, he quit politics, opened a limo service, and employed veterans who needed a hand up and not a hand out. To date he has three employees two of which are veterans. One is nicknamed Tinkertoy who is dealing with psychological issues among them PTSD and the other is Ripple, a double amputee dealing with the loss of his limbs and, subsequently, his wife. The third employee is an illegal immigrant whom Michael somehow managed to smuggled into the country from Afghanistan. All three depend on him and together have formed an unlikely bond for better or worse.

At first running a limo service seemed fairly simple and straightforward until one day, while waiting for a client, he heard trouble (literally and figuratively) whispering on the wind. When he goes to make sure his latest job isn't cut short by a killing, he stops an assassination attempt and, in doing so, gets caught in the middle of one deadly game. This is that story.
I wasn't sure what to expect when I started reading this one. A skateboarder hip-hop mogul? A limo driver? It seemed like a strange mix. Michael Skellig did not impress me all that much at first, but he sort of grew on me as the story progressed. He's a man who does what needs to be done and, unlike many, takes everything into account before acting.  He's also haunted by the ghosts of those he's killed so while he may have no regrets over what he's done, he's not totally unaffected either.

Bismarck Avila reminded me of a black rough and tough street punk version of Tony Hawk. I would have liked him to have had a little more depth to his character because I felt it would have enhanced and solidified the story more. He was portrayed as the stereotypical jerk who has more money than he knows what to do with who 'wants what he wants' and will do everything in his power to manipulate those around him to get it. While he held a major role in what was happening, he felt a little one dimensional to me.

Overall, I enjoyed the story and gave it 3 1/2 out of 5 roses. It was loaded with plenty of twists, turns, suspense, and drama. The main character was flawed but very likeable with his heart in the right place. The secondary characters were interesting and I look forward to getting to know them better and seeing them grow as the series--I'm assuming and hoping this is the first in a series--progresses. I have to confess, however, I would have liked to have seen this limo company be used as a sort of undercover capacity. Perhaps used to take down corrupt individuals/groups throughout the city? Possibly hired in a consultant type of manner to spy on subjects of interest? Since the employees are all former military with Michael having been part of a Special Ops unit I'm thinking he could have some mad skills in that area? I have a feeling, however, the author will make him into a hero/vigilante reminiscent of  the character Windsor Horne Lockwood III, aka "Win", from Harlan Coben's Myron Bolitar series. I guess we'll have to wait and see where this author will take this motley crew. I, for one, am looking forward to it.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Early Review of Hate to Want You (Forbidden Hearts #1) by Alisha Rai

Title: Hate to Want You: Forbidden Hearts
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Forbidden Hearts (Book 1)
Format: Paperback; 384 pages
Publisher: Avon; Reissue edition (July 25, 2017)
ISBN-10: 0062566733
ISBN-13: 978-0062566737
Author's Website:
Notes:  I received an eARC loan from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I am also an Avon Addict which means I love the books that Avon publishes enough to volunteer to read as many ARCs and books as they can send my way. So you'll be seeing a lot of books reviewed by me from this publisher. Please note, however, that if I don't like a book, it will be truthfully reflected by a low rating.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 
Livvy Kane and Nicholas Chandler were high-school sweethearts when tragedy struck. Her father and his mother both died in a car accident. Neither parent was where they were supposed to be and the rumor mill had it that the two were having an affair. While the truth may never be revealed, Nicholas' father did take advantage of Livvy's mother's grief when he offered to buy her portion of their families' joint owned company, C&O, paying only a fraction of what the shares were worth. Then came the break-up, with Livvy shortly thereafter moving away. There was a catch, however, Nicholas and Livvy agreed to hook up once a year, in secret, on Livvy's birthday until they'd worked each other out of their systems. They'd done this for the past nine years, but last year Livvy never texted a location and the hook up never happened. Now Nicholas has heard Livvy's back in town and he wants answers. The question is will he like what he hears?
First, let me just clarify this review by saying I'm not a huge fan of erotica. It's just not my type of romance. so this book will get a lower rating than if if was one of my go-to romance sub genres. I hate doing this, but it is what it is, and erotica is just not my cup of tea. That being said, the highest rating this one could get is a 4. Is the story hot and steamy? Yes. Are these two going at it like rabbits? Uh-huh. Now, the big question--Is there any depth to the actual story? Surprisingly, there is. Unfortunately, I hadn't a clue about this until the big reveal close to the end when all my questions were finally answered. For the majority of the book I felt like asking these two characters to take a seat on a chaise lounge while I put on a pair of wired rimmed spectacles, got out my pen and notebook, and psychoanalyzed these two. I kept thinking, "What the heck? This relationship is truly messed up." It was obvious the two really liked each other and I just couldn't figure out how they'd ended up in such an unhealthy and potentially damaging relationship--and it wasn't just them. Both their family dynamics were messed up at well.

I'm giving this one 3 out 5 roses. I kept finding myself putting the book down, reading something else, and then returning to it. The characters were multidimensional and had more depth then I first imagined. The ending is what made the book because prior to that I didn't think these two had any chance of coming out of things as a couple. The story turned out to be more emotionally complex and a heavy than it initially appeared. While I didn't like the initial dynamics of the relationship, the lower rating is more a reflection of me and my tastes than of the author's writing. Had the writing not been any good I would have simply never picked the book up again and been done with it. On the Lisarenee Romance rating scale, this one earned a  STEAM rating--too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Early Review of Wildfire (Hidden Legacy, #3) by Ilona Andrews

Title: Wildfire: A Hidden Legacy Novel
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Hidden Legacy (Book 3)
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Avon (July 25, 2017)
ISBN-10: 0062697447
ISBN-13: 978-0062697448
Author's Website:
Notes:  I received an eARC loan from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I am also an Avon Addict which means I love the books that Avon publishes enough to volunteer to read as many ARCs and books as they can send my way. So you'll be seeing a lot of books reviewed by me from this publisher. Please note, however, that if I don't like a book, it will be truthfully reflected by a low rating.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 
A century and a half ago, the Osiris serum was discovered by scientists which unlocked a person's magical abilities. The serum was given to soldiers so that wars could be won, but scientists didn't comprehend what they'd truly done until much later and by then it was too late. The serum was locked away, but the damage had been done because it was soon found that magical talents could be passed from parent to child. The world as we knew it was changed forever as a restructuring of power occurred. Money no longer guaranteed power, influence, and prestige in this magically oriented new world, rather, one's magical abilities did. For from the power of magic, one could acquire the rest.

Talents varied among people, but each person showed potential toward one specific type of magic. Among the varying types of magics, ranges of talent were soon noted and magic users were categorized into five different ranks: Minor, Average, Notable, Significant, and Prime. The highest and strongest being Prime. Soon magical dynasties, as the most powerful of magical families came to be called, were broken into houses and attempted to manipulate and enhance their family's magical potential by arranging marriages which would bring about the most gifted and talented of offspring.

Nevada Baylor is a private eye working for the family business--Baylor Investigative Agency. The firm specializes in small-time investigations. She's just been asked by Rynda Charles to investigate the disappearance of her husband, Brian. Three days ago Rynda's husband went to work and never made it home, and isn't answering his phone. He's a Prime of  House Sherwood, but his House is convinced he's taking a break from his marriage and refuses to look for him.

Grandma Frida is against Nevada taking the case stating Rynda Charles is a "man magnet." She's young, rich, beautiful, helpless, and looking for someone to save her--all things men eat up. If that isn't bad enough she's also Rogan's ex-fiance. Nevada argues that if Rynda can steal Rogan's attentions away with a few tears then the relationship never stood a chance to begin with, and its better to find out now. Additionally, Nevada, who has a talent for knowing when someone is telling the truth, argues Rynda is not lying about her husband's disappearance. While she too questions the motives of the daughter of the woman Nevada recently killed, she finds she can't refuse her plea for help. Only time will tell if she made the right decision in taking the case.

This is the third book of the Hidden Legacy series, and I can't seem to get enough. The books build upon each other so I highly recommend you read them in order and from the beginning. They contain a whole lot of magic, a mesmerizing collection of powers and abilities all neatly wrapped in drama galore with a steamy romance unraveling smack dab in the middle of it all. If you're looking for your next urban fantasy fix, you really ought to consider checking this series out. It will totally leave you wanting more. Luckily, there are presently three books out in the series.

Nevada is a surprising individual. With all that's happened to her and her family you'd expect her to be much more hardened by life, but somehow she's managed to keep her humanity. She has a supportive family which I believe is the key that keeps this tougher-than-nails detective grounded and kindhearted. She's smart, loyal, and oh so talented both magically and otherwise.

At first glance, Rogan seems the very opposite of Nevada. With monikers like Mad Rogan, the Butcher of Merida, and Huracan he is most known for using his magical skills to single handedly kill thousands in the war against Mexico which helped bring about a favorable end to the fighting. No one knows the extent of his powers, but the overall consensus is the man is scary as hell and not someone you want to mess with. At second glance, you start to see there is much more to him than meets the eye, and its society (the very people whom he helped save) whose made him into the villain. He is the way he is because he needs to be, but Nevada helps him to remember who he really is because she sees him for who he truly is--not a monster but a man--someone who is not all that different from herself. He's a misunderstood hero with some dangerously scary mad skills. In case you haven't caught on ladies, this guy is seriously swoon worthy. *sigh* You've been warned. lol

I truly can't say enough about this series and all of it is good. I couldn't help but give this one 5 out 5 roses. It's got action, romance, suspense, drama, magic, and a whole lot of other goodies just waiting for you to uncover. I'd say more but I wouldn't want to enter into spoiler territory. One thing I can say is Nevada's paternal grandmother makes a huge splash in this one, and Nevada and her family need to decide how to handle the situation. They either need to petition to become a House or find another way to keep their grandmother at bay. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earned a STEAM rating--too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed. I highly recommend this book and series. Its definitely going on my keeper shelf.

Order of the Hidden Legacy series:

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