Mini Reviews: Friends Without Benefits & Love Hacked

Friends Without Benefits
Series: Knitting in the City, #2
Author: Penny Reid
Publication Date: September 29, 2013
Publisher: Caped Publishing
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Humor

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Friends Without Benefits can be read as a standalone, is a full length 120k word novel, and is book#2 in the Knitting in the City Series.

There are three things you need to know about Elizabeth Finney: 1) She suffers from severe sarcastic syndrome, especially when she’s unnerved, 2) No one unnerves her like Nico Manganiello, and 3) She knows how to knit.

Elizabeth Finney is almost always right about everything: the musical merits of boy bands are undervalued by society, “benefits” with human Ken dolls are better without friendship, and the sun has set on her once-in-a-lifetime chance for true love. But when Elizabeth’s plans for benefits without friendship are disarmed by the irritatingly charismatic and chauvinistic Nico Manganiello- her former nemesis- she finds herself struggling to maintain the electric fence around her heart while avoiding electrocution or, worse, falling in love.


After finishing Janie and Quinn’s books, I knew I wanted to continue with the Knitting in the City series. I loved all the knitting women and their bond to each other. I wanted to find out who each of them ended up falling in love with.

Elizabeth’s story was so much fun. It was second chance romance between Elizabeth and her dead ex-boyfriend’s best friend, Nico.Their story was so cute and sweet. I loved how Elizabeth and Nico reconnected. Their insecurities about each other felt real. I could imagine real people having their feelings. I also Nico’s personality. He was funny and nice. Elizabeth got herself a keeper!



Love Hacked
Series: Knitting in the City, #3
Author: Penny Reid
Publication Date: March 3, 2014
Publisher: Caped Publishing
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Humor

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

There are three things you need to know about Sandra Fielding: 1) She makes all her first dates cry, 2) She hasn’t been kissed in over two years, and 3) She knows how to knit.

Sandra has difficulty removing her psychotherapist hat. Of her last 30 dates, 29 have ended the same way: the man sobbing uncontrollably. After one such disaster, Sandra–near desperation and maybe a little tipsy–gives in to a seemingly harmless encounter with her hot waiter, Alex. Argumentative, secretive, and hostile Alex may be the opposite of everything Sandra knows is right for her. But now, the girl who has spent all her life helping others change for the better, must find a way to cope with falling for someone who refuses to change at all.

This is a full-length, 110k word novel and is the third book in the Knitting in the City series. All books in the series can be read as a standalone.


Sandra and Alex’s story was cool. I loved how they met, and how Sandra was a bit of a cougar in this book. I pretty much loved everything about Sandra and Alex’s relationship…BUT this was the book where the plot started getting a little crazy for me. Alex’s true identity surprised me and wasn’t what I expected. Or maybe it was just so smart and over my head. I probably won’t ever know which one. I did like how everything turned out, though.

Review: The Way Back to Us by Jamie Howard

The Way Back to Us
Series: Love Unplugged, #3
Author: Jamie Howard
Publication Date: December 12, 2017
Publisher: St. Martin’s Swerve
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Gavin MacCormack found the one. He fell in love. Hard. Until one night he ran out for some ice cream and came back to an empty dorm room, closets bare and nothing but a quick hand-written note saying, I’m sorry. Those two words taught Gavin the meaning of heartbreak. A feeling he never wants to encounter again. And as the lead singer of a Grammy award-winning band he’s had plenty of opportunities for casual, no-strings fun, which is just the way he likes it.

Dani Winters has had more names than birthdays. On the run with her father for nearly as long as she can remember, she’s lived her life by three rules—always plan for the worst, maintain a low profile at all costs, and never let anyone get too close. Except she broke that last rule once and her heart has never forgiven her.

One chance encounter changes everything. Seeing Dani resurrects feelings in Gavin he thought were long buried, and this time he’s not letting her disappear without getting some answers. But Dani’s life is the definition of complicated and she’s playing with fire by letting Gavin back in. When the time comes to run again, Dani needs to decide if a life without love is worth living, or if it’s time to stop running and fight.


If you’re a fan of the Love Unplugged series, you were probably wondering what was up with Gavin and the red head at the party just like I was. Well, The Way Back to Us will answer all of your questions!

The Way Back to Us wasn’t really what I was expecting. That was mostly because I didn’t read the blurb before I started reading it. I was completely in the dark about Dani and her father, so it took a while for the story to unravel for me. I liked that, even though I did side with Gavin’s friends’ concern about Dani back in his life. It made it harder to like Dani at first, but it gave the story a lot of great mystery.

Dani and Gavin’s relationship was a rocky one. There were so many uncertainties. I was amazed at how supportive Gavin was of Dani despite not knowing a lot of things. He gave her the benefit of the doubt when I might not have. I loved his devotion to her. And despite having a hard time liking her at first, Dani grew on me. She obviously loved Gavin, and felt torn by the need to follow her rules for life. Things might have been messy for them, but their love for each other really shined through.

The Way Back to Us was a fun addition to the Love Unplugged series. It wasn’t my favorite book in the series (that spot is reserved for book 2 at the moment), but I still loved it. Jamie Howard is a phenomenal writer, and her stories always keep me wanting more. I can’t wait to read the next book in this series!

Review: Killman Creek by Rachel Caine

Killman Creek
Series: Stillhouse Lake, #2
Author: Rachel Caine
Publication Date: December 12, 2017
Publisher: Thomas and Mercer
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Every time Gwen closed her eyes, she saw him in her nightmares. Now her eyes are open, and he’s not going away.

Gwen Proctor won the battle to save her kids from her ex-husband, serial killer Melvin Royal, and his league of psychotic accomplices. But the war isn’t over. Not since Melvin broke out of prison. Not since she received a chilling text…

You’re not safe anywhere now.

Her refuge at Stillhouse Lake has become a trap. Gwen leaves her children in the protective custody of a fortified, well-armed neighbor. Now, with the help of Sam Cade, brother of one of Melvin’s victims, Gwen is going hunting. She’s learned how from one of the sickest killers alive.

But what she’s up against is beyond anything she feared—a sophisticated and savage mind game calculated to destroy her. As trust beyond her small circle of friends begins to vanish, Gwen has only fury and vengeance to believe in as she closes in on her prey. And sure as the night, one of them will die.


Killman Creek was one of my most anticipated releases of the winter. The end of Stillhouse Lake promised the mystery and suspense would go on. I couldn’t wait to find out what was next for Gwen, her children, Sam and Melvin.

Tension ran high in Killman Creek. I was constantly on the edge of my seat, and slightly uncomfortable the entire time waiting for something horrible to happen. I feared for all of the characters. My fears didn’t stop me from reading this gem of a thriller, though. I couldn’t put Killman Creek down. It was just as fast paced as Stillhouse Lake, but the stakes were higher. Rachel Caine kept the twists and turns coming right up until the very end.

One of my favorite things about Killman Creek was how the relationships between the characters were constantly changing. No one was ever one hundred percent sure about anyone. The relationships really helped drive the story, especially the slightly awkward relationship between Sam and Gwen.

Killman Creek was the perfect follow-up, and a stand out thriller all on its own. I absolutely loved it. If you loved Stillhouse Lake, this book will exceed your expectations. Be ready for some surprises!

Review: Worth the Wait by Lori Foster

Worth the Wait
Series: Guthrie Brothers, #2
Author: Lori Foster
Publication Date: July 25, 2017
Publisher: Harlequin Books
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Ready or not…love will find a way

Single dad Hogan Guthrie is getting his life back on track, and working as the “barbecue master” at a local diner is just a temporary detour. He and restaurant owner Violet Shaw constantly butt heads…until one night they end up mingling other parts instead. Hogan thought he had the recipe for happiness all figured out. But loyal, carefree Violet is daring him to trust his impulses…and see just how sweet small-town living—and loving—can be.

Nathan Hawley traded his SWAT team credentials for a sheriff’s badge, but a gorgeous new neighbor is shaking up his orderly life. Nathan has a hunch there’s more to Brooklin Sweet than meets the eye—but given her caution about getting involved, he has his work cut out for him. Still, there’s something about the elusive beauty Nathan can’t walk away from—and helping her come to terms with her past might pave the way to the future they both secretly long for.


Earlier this year I read the first book in the Guthrie Brothers series, Don’t Tempt Me. It was my first time reading a book by Lori Foster, and I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed it so much that I needed to read the next book in the series, which leads to this review. I finally got my copy of Worth the Wait from the library.

Hogan and Violet were fiercely attracted to each other, but neither was willing to make a move. They liked what they had going on. Violet was Hogan’s part-time boss. Plus, Hogan was a bit of a womanizer and had no plans of settling down. Violet might have been considering happily ever after. When Hogan starts working full-time for Violet, all bets are off. Their attraction to each other is too much to contain.

I loved both Violet and Hogan. Violet was a gutsy chick. She was strong-willed and determined to make her business successful. She knew what kind of man she wanted, and wasn’t willing to be a one-night stand. Hogan wasn’t truly the womanizer he was playing. He was sewing the oats he thought he needed to. What Hogan really needed was the right woman. Violet was the gal to make him believe in love again. I also really loved the way Colt was involved in Violet and Hogan’s story.

Nathan and Brooklin are thrown together when she moves in nextdoor. Nathan knows there’s something going on in Brooklin’s life, and he’s determined to find out what it is. Practically stalking her, Nathan starts to get to know Brooklin and likes what he learns. Brooklin isn’t so sure about getting into a relationship with him when she’s running from her past. The two start a love affair that becomes complicated when it’s apparent someone is looking to cause problems for Brooklin.

It kills me to say this, but I was not a fan of Nathan and Brooklin’s story line. I’m sorry. It wasn’t that I didn’t like them or want them together. The whole suspense aspect of it bored me a bit. When it started to intertwine with Hogan and Violet’s story, it really lost me. Violet took just way too much abuse for my liking. I’m blaming my dislike for all of this on my disinterest in romantic suspense.

Anyways. I did like Worth the Wait overall. It was a fun read filled with interesting characters and a cute romance (Hogan and Violet). It wasn’t quite what I was expecting in some parts, but it was still a really good read.

Review: Eye Candy by Tijan, Tara Sivex, J. Daniels, Helena Hunting & Bella Jewel

Eye Candy
Authors: Tijan, Tara Sivec, J. Daniels, Helena Hunting, Bella Jewel
Publication Date: September 5, 2017
Publisher: Swerve
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, New Adult, Halloween
Note: I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ¼

Synopsis:

A frightfully good time! Dive into these Halloween novellas from bestselling authors Tijan, J. Daniels, Helena Hunting, Bella Jewel and Tara Sivec. Featuring stories set in the worlds of their popular series.

Tijan’s Fallen Crest crew are back for a weekend of mischief that takes a sinister turn; all four couples from J. Daniels’ Alabama Summer series gear up for Halloween in their own sexy ways, with a special surprise at the end; Helena Hunting’s characters from Shacking Up plan a Halloween gala that features a few ghouls and witches; Bella Jewel brings the chills and thrills in her suspenseful take on Halloween night; and Tara Sivec gathers the Holiday family together one last time as they try to make this ghostly holiday one to remember—or one they’d rather forget…

Cozy up with a mug of hot cider on a dark night and fall under the spell of this Halloween anthology!


Eye Candy is a compilation of stories from some of my favorite authors and their series. I specifically wanted to read it to find out what was next for the Fallen Crest, Alabama Summers, and Shacking Up peeps. I have written a quick mini review for each book below and rated them separately.

Fallen Crest Nightmare – 4 stars

This started out like any other Fallen Crest High book. I loved getting to know what all of my favorite characters were up to, and having Sam as the narrator. Then, this book took a crazy Halloween filled trip. I liked it, but it was crazy! It left me wanting more of these characters! I didn’t realize how much I missed them!

So Much More – 5 stars

This was a super cute Halloween catch up with all of my favorite characters from Alabama Summers. Each chapter was dedicated to a different couple in the male’s point of view. I loved knowing where they were in life now. My favorite was little Noah’s, though. So stinking adorable!!! Now, I’m ready for the next full length book!

Getting Down – 5 stars

I had forgotten what a kick I got out of Ruby and Bancroft. Those two are so funny together! What I really loved about this short story was getting Ruby’s best friend Amie’s perspective on her relationship with Armstrong. That guy is such a dork. I’m really hoping there’s a book coming about Amie and possibly a new suitor. Anyway. I loved this Halloween filled story based on Shacking Up characters.

Unsafe Haven – 3 stars

This was a sweet but suspenseful Halloween tale. I loved shy Jade and Oliver. The were so perfect for each other. I loved them both of them worked at a business that was set up to help those in need. Their Halloween was a little terrifying, though! I wish I would have read books about these characters before because I didn’t feel as connected to them.

The Pumpkin Was Stuffed – 4 Stars

This short story was over the top hilarious! I couldn’t believe the crazy characters in this it. I loved all the Halloween goodies throughout the story. If this was based on characters from a previous book, I need to read it!!! I loved Noel and Sam. I want to know how they began.

Overall, Eye Candy was an incredibly fun Halloween read, and a great way to catch up with some old book friends.

Review: Beast by Elizabeth Reyes

Beast
Series: Boyle Heights, #2
Author: Elizabeth Reyes
Publication Date: August 4, 2017
Genre: Romance, Suspense, Contemporary, New Adult

Purchase Now:
Amazon

Goodreads

Synopsis:

She holds the power to tame the Beast . . .

or unleash him if he lets her in.

This close to turning his life around and just months away from the end of his probation, all Leo has to do is keep his inner demons in check.

But the Beast within is about to be reawakened.

One interview was all it was supposed to be. An interview with the daunting felon in the work-release program that leaves Allison breathless with anticipation for their next encounter.

Despite the risks of becoming involved, neither is able to fight the inexplicable draw they’re feeling.

Life keeps throwing them back together until the fateful night they stop fighting the inevitable and give into their desires. Suddenly, Leo has even more to look forward to in his new life.

Until his violent past catches up to him.

With the stakes infinitely higher now that Allison may also be at risk, the dormant Beast deep inside Leo threatens to unleash, ruining all the progress he’s made—worst of all any future with Allison.

My Review:

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Note: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an unbiased review.

I have to admit that I wasn’t sure if Beast was going to be a book I would enjoy. Ali wasn’t one of my favorite characters when I read Lila (Boyle Heights, #1). I wasn’t fond of the disregard Ali had for her own safety in that book. Beast did a very good job of making me like and understand Ali. It overlapped the time frame of Lila and gave me new insight of Ali’s motivations and her falling for Beast.

Ali is one of the softest female character Reyes has written. She was young and sweet. Her insecurities about her body made her very easy to relate to. Ali was timid when it came to men, but also wasn’t afraid to go after what she wanted. It made her relationship with Beast pretty perfect. Beast was the typical Elizabeth Reyes alpha male. He was hard, older, and reluctant to corrupt Ali. He knew the most important thing was to keep Ali safe. I loved how their relationship built throughout the book, and developed into something really special.

I’m not a big romantic suspense fan, but I enjoyed the suspense created in Beast. It wasn’t over the top. It gradually increased throughout the book. Some of the twists in the story I expected, some caught me off guard. I liked how everything played out in the end. It wasn’t what I was expecting. That was a good thing.

Beast was a great addition to the Boyle Heights series. It had almost everything I want from an Elizabeth Reyes romance. (I did kind of miss a kick ass female character.) Beast was a fun read, and it made me excited for the next book in the series.

If you like diverse characters, alpha males, strong women and lots of fun drama, I highly recommend Beast or any other of Elizabeth Reyes’ novels.

Excerpt:

Reaching the room in question, Leo walked over to the car parked in front of the window and pretended to fumble with invisible keys at the door. He glanced up and saw the two figures move about in the room. That was when he got a glimpse of the other person—a much shorter person—who had long hair. There was a light on in the background possibly to the bathroom or hallway just outside the bathroom. The long-haired person’s body moved just so it was silhouetted by the light.

If Leo hadn’t been so obsessed with that ass and those curves he may not have been so sure it was her. The buzzing in his ears began even as he started toward the door, but only grew louder when both figures moved onto the bed. Fuck knocking. As soon as he was close enough, he kicked the door with the bottom of his foot as hard as he could. “Allison, you in there?”

Review: Hard Stick by L.P. Dover

Hard Stick
Series: Breakaway, #1
Author: L.P. Dover
Publication Date: June 13, 2017
Publisher: Loveswept
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Sports Romance
Note: I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

He carries a big stick. And he’s not afraid to use it.

On the ice, I’m Kellan Carter, powerhouse enforcer for the Charlotte Strikers. Off the ice, I’m just a regular guy. The last thing I want is to get mobbed by a bunch of groupies who are only after me for my fame and money. My ideal woman knows how to enjoy a little good, clean fun—and maybe some not-so-clean fun too. That’s the kind of girl I’d never let go.

When Kristen Robinson, the gorgeous, down-to-earth bartender I’ve been crushing on, agrees to let me take her out, I’m thrilled. We have an amazing night together, culminating in the most electrifying kiss of my life—and that’s it. Kristen tells me we can’t see each other again, but I know that kiss meant as much to her as it did to me. What I don’t know is that Kristen has a dangerous secret. . . .

I’ve proved to Kristen that she can trust me with her body and her heart. But when her past comes back to haunt her, I need to prove that she can trust me with her life. And I might have to get my hands dirty after all.


Hard Stick was my first foray into reading L.P. Dover’s novels. I was impressed with her writing style. I loved that she chose to use first person dual narration in her adult contemporary romance. So many authors use third person, and it makes it a lot harder to identify with the characters.

The characters in Hard Stick were a lot of fun. Kristen had been through and lost so much in her life. She rebounded well and had an inner strength not many people would have. I loved that Kristen did what she needed to do to live her life, and how serious she was about her physical strength and preparedness. Kellan was a reformed hockey bad boy who was looking for more in a woman than just one night together. He was a genuinely nice guy, and I loved how he wasn’t going to let Kristen dismiss him without proving himself to her. They were so cute together, and had amazing chemistry.

Hard Stick was a sports romance, but I didn’t realize it was going to have a romantic suspense aspect to it. I actually think it would be better characterized as romantic suspense. There was way more of that than hockey moments. I’m not complaining, though. Romantic suspense isn’t normally my favorite thing to read, but I did like it in Hard Stick. It was well written, and added a cool dimension to Kristen and Kellan’s relationship. I could see where the twist in the story was going to go from the minute I met Kellan, but it was fun watching everything unfold.

Hard Stick may have been my first L.P. Dover novel, but it won’t be my last. I am so excited to see what’s next in the Breakaway series. I’m really hoping Dallas’ book is next! I loved Kellan’s hockey buddy, and I think he’s got a special romance coming his way.