Tag Archives: love

Once Upon A Power Play

Once Upon A Power Play (Risky Business) by Jennifer Bonds

once upon a powerplay

Overview by Amazon:

Sidelined by a potentially career-ending injury, the only thing hockey player Ryan Douglas should be thinking about is recovery. But after sharing a near death experience and a night of passion with a spunky brunette, the only thing on his mind is five and a half feet of sexy sarcasm. And he’ll do whatever it takes to get her back in his bed—even if it means playing dirty.

Chloe Jacobs is done with fairytales. And men. She’s kissed her share of frogs and what’s it gotten her? Dumped by text—again. Determined to eighty-six illusions of romance and prove she’s more than just a good-time girl, the last thing she needs is a pushy, arrogant hockey player testing her resolve. Especially one who’s sinfully good with his hands and thinks date-by-blackmail is a perfectly acceptable social convention.

Ryan wants to play games? Fine by her, but this is one faceoff he’s going to lose.

I LOVED this book!  I thought it was amazing!  I have recently become a huge fan of the sports genre – hockey, baseball, football.  Living in a major hockey city, you are not allowed to dislike hockey.  So when I saw this book on Netgalley, I snapped it up right away.

Chloe is the friend I wish I had.  I love her perspective on life!  She is a straight shooter and a little bit wild.  Her love life has sucked hard for a long time, so she is beyond jaded when she accidently meets Ryan Douglas.  Their first encounter was hilarious.  As much as I love hockey, I don’t know if I would recognize a player out of their pads, helmet and gear.

Ryan is the captain of the Rangers.  He has been sidelined with a possible career ending injury and his long time girlfriend dumped him.  What I liked so much about Ryan was that he was a really good guy.  No history of puck bunnies or bad boy behaviour.  But under that good guy exterior, was a dirty talking sex god.  The love scenes between the two were scorching hot and I thoroughly enjoyed how they connected.

The story is a great telling of how a couple goes from random hook ups to a real relationship.  I liked how the author explored this.  At times, it was very easy to forget that Ryan was a sports celebrity.  Chloe wasn’t impressed with his notoriety and I loved that about her.  While the characters are really well fleshed out, I knew more about Ryan’s back story than Chloe.  Besides one slight mention of her family and that she grew up in New York City, there wasn’t much context to her background besides her failed relationships.

Chloe’s job keeps the two of them in constant contact.  Chloe is doing the PR for a children’s charity and is feeling the pressure to do her job well and to support the adorable little rug rats.  When Ryan steps up to help her, I fell even harder for him.

Chloe is such a breath of fresh air.  She’s the brash and caustic New Yorker, but also deliciously funny and wicked.  She was such a great counterpart to Ryan.  When the big misunderstanding happens, we get to see what Chloe is made of.  I really liked how the author manoeuvered the plot and she evoked a lot of emotions out of me as the reader.

This is not only a great hockey romance book, but a great contemporary romance novel!  I highly recommend checking it out!

Hard to Break

Hard to Break by Bella Jewel

hard to break

Overview by Amazon:

Quinn has spent her whole life working in her dad’s garage, leaving her more comfortable with a carburetor than a curling iron. Her world is turned upside down when her beloved garage is bought by none other than world famous, sexy as sin, custom car builder, Tazen Watts. He’s the one man she can’t stand…even though he makes her hotter than a high performance engine in top gear.

Tazen has no use for Quinn, at least not professionally, and he’s making sure she knows it. But there’s a spark between them that she’s finding hard to ignore. She’s determined to prove her talent is as impressive as her sassy mouth. When she finds out Tazen is hiding a secret that could bring down his career and everyone involved in it, she wonders: is falling for him is going to be worth the risk?

I found this book so fascinating.  It’s a love story set within the world of custom cars – think along the lines of those reality tv shows featuring garages that build unique and special cars.  While I have never really watched those reality shows, it was a fascinating back drop to the story.

Quinn is a mechanic and lives for the grease monkey life.  The garage is pretty much all that she has in her life as she takes care of her alcoholic father every evening.   The story opens with the garage being sold to the super sexy Tazen, who just happens to be the reality star darling of the custom garage world.

Quinn is devastated at the sale of the garage.  She is almost as devastated that she feels a zing for the cretin Tazen.  So she sets out to make his life hell.  I love a story that has conflict that is portrayed with such amusement.  Quinn’s foray as a receptionist is memorable and hilarious.

This story is not just about cars and sex.  There is a much deeper undertone to the characters and the plot.  The realities of life – betrayal, disappointment, feeling of unworthiness are all explored through the actions of the characters.  I enjoyed that Tazen and Quinn develop a deep intimacy – along with hot sex that involves cars.  The characters have such great chemistry.  I loved the one liners and zingers they throw at each other as it just makes the passion between the two hotter and hotter.  I am a sucker for  witty and sassy dialogue every single time.

The only thing that had me questioning the story was that Quinn didn’t know anything about Tazen, even though she had watched his tv show.  I wondered why she didn’t just google him?  Surely his previous relationships would be splashed over the gossip sites and he must have had a Wikipedia page!  But, if she knew too much right away, it would have stopped the story from evolving the way it did.

I think one theme that I connected with the most was how Quinn was validated in the man’s world she inhabits.  She proved that she was a superior mechanic and earned the respect of the men she worked with.  That was one of the things that stayed with me the most from this book.  I adore books where the female lead is strong and capable.  The author has created a character that knows her heart and her worth and is able to prove it.

This was a fun book to read.  I really enjoyed the car and racing genre, as well as the smoking hot chemistry between the two characters.  This is a stand alone book and there is no cliff hanger –  just a lovely happily ever after!

Highlighted Author – Lauren Layne

I have been on a binge.  It’s not the type of binge where you eat all the candy and chips in the house – although that would be really fun.  I have found a new author that makes me want to stay up all night, ignore my household and work just to read the words she has written on the page.

Her name is Lauren Layne and I found her books through Netgalley.  I reviewed the first in the Oxford Series, Irresistibly Yours, and found it great!  So, I went online and looked up the rest of the books in the series and I was captivated.  The Oxford Series is an offshoot of the Stilettos series that features young 20 somethings in New York City.  These gals work for the woman’s magazine Stilettos and they are the love, dating and sex columnists that rule the city.  The series follows their lives and the men at the brother magazine, Oxford.

This series has it all.  At times it feels like reading a romantic version of the Devil Wears Prada.  Some Sex and the City love thrown in for good measure.  The angsty romantic pains of the Crossfire series captures the emotions, although the sex is not as graphic and overwhelming.  But what is never in question is the strength of these women.  Sure, they have moments of crisis and weakness, but they are strong.  They all have amazing and dynamic careers and don’t have to compromise on their intelligence (love this!!)

Each book features a different couple.  At first I was worried that it would be like reading about the same women and men, just different contexts.  Boy, those fears were quickly put to rest.  Lauren Layne is truly gifted at creating dynamic characters that live and breathe the personalities she gives them.  The characters are not one dimensional at all.  I found myself loving Southern Belle Emma, smirking along with Hugh Jackman lookalike Jake and rooting for sexy Riley.  Sometimes authors bring characters back from previous novels just to keep them in the story line or keep it fresh, but with these books, it never felt that way.  All of the characters are friends and their involvement in each other’s lives was realistic and necessary.

I have recently written a lot about setting.  What a great place to have as your backdrop – New York City.  From the hustle and bustle of downtown, to the trendy Tribeca area to beautiful Central Park, each neighbourhood in New York plays a special part in each love story.  The author has done her research well and has the ability to make Yankee stadium seem like the best place to fall in love.

What I loved the most about these books was how I felt as a reader.  I felt all the emotions you feel when zinged by flirting, relieved at returned love and betrayed at denial.  My emotions were fully invested in these characters and their stories.  I wanted to know everything about their stories and how they came to fall in love.  The author doesn’t make the men the scapegoats either.  She doesn’t make them horrible men who treat women badly.  They hurt as much as the women and love even harder.  She makes the characters so compelling that you hold your breath until you know what happens.

So if you love the slow, practiced wink from a flirt and women who encourage and support each other than you will be very satisfied with this series.  This is one author who I definitely plan on adding to my must be read pile!  And you should too!

After the Kiss Book 1

after the kiss

Julie Greene loves flings. Loves steamy first dates, sizzling first kisses, and every now and then, that first sexy romp between the sheets. Comfy pants, sleepy Sundays, movie nights on the couch? Shudder. But when Julie gets assigned the hardest story of her career—a first-person account of that magical shift between dating and “I do”—she’ll need a man brave enough to give a total commitment-phobe a chance at more.

Normally, Mitchell Forbes would be exactly that man. A devastatingly hot workaholic who tends to stay in relationships for far too long, he should be the perfect subject for Julie’s “research.” But what Julie doesn’t know is that Mitchell is looking to cut loose for once in his life. And the leggy journalist notorious for avoiding love is exactly the type of no-strings fling he’s looking for. In other words, Mitchell is the polar opposite of what Julie needs right now. And, at the same time, he’s exactly what she wants.

Love the One You’re With Book 2

love the one your

As a leading columnist for Stiletto, Grace Brighton has built a career warning women about rotten, cheating liars. She just never suspected her fiancé would be one of them. After Grace takes a heart-mending hiatus, her first assignment is to go on a couple of dates with a counterpart from the men’s magazine Oxford and report her impressions. Grace 1.0 may have been instantly smitten with the gorgeous correspondent, but Grace 2.0 has sworn off relationships for six months, and she’s not falling for his outstanding bod and trophy-winning kisses . . . or is she?

Jake Malone wants to get back to the fly-by-night, who-knows-what’s-next guy he used to be, and he knows exactly how to do it. Oxford is adding a travel section, and Jake—with no wife and no kids and a willingness to live anywhere, eat anything, do everything—is perfect for the job . . . except that his playboy reputation makes his new editor nervous. To get the gig, he must agree to a fluffy joint article with Stiletto. But after just one date with snooty, sumptuous, sensational Grace Brighton, Jake starts taking this assignment a whole lot more seriously.

Just One Night Book 3

just one night

Riley McKenna knows sex—good sex, bad sex, kinky sex. Her articles in Stiletto magazine are the publication’s most scandalous—and the most read. But when Stiletto’s fiftieth anniversary issue requires her column to get a lot more personal, Riley is forced to confront a long-hidden secret: Her own sexual experience is limited to one awkward college encounter. Now Riley is about to call in the favor of a lifetime from the one man who’s always held her heart.

Sam Compton knows two things about Riley McKenna: She’s the only woman for him. But as his best friend’s little sister, she’s also completely off-limits. Sam shouldn’t even consider her proposition: to have a one-night stand in the name of research. But the thought of another man putting his hands on Riley is more than Sam can handle, and soon he’s agreeing to one night with New York’s resident sexpot. But Riley’s full of surprises, and what starts as “one time only” soon becomes “just one more time.” And then one more. And before they know it, Riley and Sam learn firsthand that when it comes to love, there’s no such thing as just one night.

The Trouble With Love Book 4

the trouble with love

As Stiletto magazine’s authority on all things breakup-and-heartache, Emma Sinclair writes from personal experience. Five years ago, Emma was Charlotte, North Carolina’s darling debutante and a blushing bride-to-be. Now she’s the ice queen of the Manhattan dating scene. Emma left her sultry Southern drawl behind, but not even her closest friends know that with it she left her heart. Now Emma’s latest article forces her to face her demons—namely, the devilishly sexy guy who ditched her at the altar.

After giving up everything for a pro-soccer career, Alex Cassidy watches his dreams crumble as a knee injury sidelines him for good. Now he’s hanging up his cleats and giving journalism a shot. It’s just a coincidence that he happens to pick a job in the same field, and the same city, as his former fiancée . . . right? But when Emma moves in next door, it’s no accident. It’s research. And Alex can’t help wondering what might have been. Unlike the innocent girl he remembers, this Emma is chic, sophisticated, and assertive—and she wants absolutely nothing to do with him. The trouble is, Alex has never wanted her more.

Irresistibly Yours Book 1 Oxford Series

irresistibly yours

Hotshot sports editor Cole Sharpe has been freelancing for Oxford for years, so when he hears about a staff position opening up, he figures he’s got the inside track. Then his boss drops a bombshell: Cole has competition. Female competition, in the form of a fresh-faced tomboy who can hang with the dudes—and write circles around them, too. Cole usually likes his women flirty and curvy, but he takes a special interest in his skinny, sassy rival, if only to keep an eye on her. And soon, he can’t take his eyes off her.

Penelope Pope knows all too well that she comes off as just one of the guys. Since she’s learned that wanting more usually leads to disappointment, Penelope’s resigned to sitting on the sidelines when it comes to love. So why does Cole make her want to get back in the game? The man is as arrogant as he is handsome. He probably sees her as nothing more than a barrier to his dream job. But when an unexpected kiss turns into a night of irresistible passion, Penelope has to figure out whether they’re just fooling around—or starting something real.
lauren layne

Lauren Layne is the USA Today Bestselling author of contemporary romance.

Prior to becoming an author, Lauren worked in e-commerce and web-marketing. In 2011, she and her husband moved from Seattle to New York City, where Lauren decided to pursue a full-time writing career. It took six months to get her first book deal (despite ardent assurances to her husband that it would only take three). Since then, Lauren’s gone on to multiple books including the bestselling Stiletto series, with more sexy stories on the way!

Lauren currently lives in Chicago with her husband and spoiled Pomeranian. When not writing, you’ll find her at happy hour, running at a doggedly slow pace, or trying to straighten her naturally curly hair.

Irresistibly Yours

Irresistibly Yours (An Oxford Novel) by Lauren Layne

irresistibly yours

Overview by Amazon:

Hotshot sports editor Cole Sharpe has been freelancing for Oxford for years, so when he hears about a staff position opening up, he figures he’s got the inside track. Then his boss drops a bombshell: Cole has competition. Female competition, in the form of a fresh-faced tomboy who can hang with the dudes—and write circles around them, too. Cole usually likes his women flirty and curvy, but he takes a special interest in his skinny, sassy rival, if only to keep an eye on her. And soon, he can’t take his eyes off her.

Penelope Pope knows all too well that she comes off as just one of the guys. Since she’s learned that wanting more usually leads to disappointment, Penelope’s resigned to sitting on the sidelines when it comes to love. So why does Cole make her want to get back in the game? The man is as arrogant as he is handsome. He probably sees her as nothing more than a barrier to his dream job. But when an unexpected kiss turns into a night of irresistible passion, Penelope has to figure out whether they’re just fooling around—or starting something real.

This is exactly my kind of contemporary novel.  I love stories with excellent witty banter.  Cole and Penelope have it in spades and it adds the spark that keeps you hooked as a reader.   This book is fast paced and electric.   Reading it was like glimpsing into the world of really hot and fun executives in the publishing world.  But what really got me was the very well developed characters and the sparkling dialogue.

Cole and Penelope have an amazing relationship.  Cole can be flirty without Penelope taking it the wrong way.  She is every guy’s dream friend – totally into sports, eats greasy food and is smart.  They are competing for the same job, which both of them really need.  Penelope needs it because she is due for a job of this calibre and has worked damn hard for it.  Cole needs it because (his pride wants it) but he has to pay bills for his brother’s group home.  This made it so hard as the reader.  I liked both Cole and Penelope immensely.  I wanted them both to get the job!  So thankfully, Alex gives it to them both and makes them co-editors of the new sports section of Oxford magazine.  Now, the question becomes, how will they work together?

From the start they have excellent chemistry.  Cole can’t believe how cool Penelope is.  Not only is she adorable, but she is real.  I adored Cole.  Handsome charmer, he always has the right lines and come backs.  See the texts they sent each other as an example:

Penelope:  Your precious Yankees aren’t looking so hot.

Cole:  You watch your filthy Chicago mouth.

Penelope: Hmmm, maybe I need glasses, because I keep looking at my tv, and I’m seeing Chicago White Sox: 6, New York Yankees: 2….What are you seeing?

Cole:  The Yanks will come back.  They always do.

Penelope:  Has anyone told you how cute your delusions are?

Cole:  Not recently.  Want to come over and tell me to my face?

Penelope:  Nice try, Sharpe.  I’m quite comfortable on my own couch, thank you very much.

Cole:  Fair enough…what are you wearing?

Penelope:  Goodbye, Cole.

So awesome right???  It was so fun watching Cole and Penelope work together.  The other guys around the office make it such a fun place to work.  Cole is just fascinated by Penelope and is finding himself majorly attracted to her.  The shift from co-workers to lovers is perfectly told.  I would hate to say this book was predictable, because it wasn’t, but it was everything I was hoping for.  An extremely fun and interesting story with great characters, sexy time and a satisfying resolution.

Cole is my kind of guy.  He’s the charmer that I can’t help but fall for.  So reading this book was intoxicating.  I blasted through this book in order to find out what happened, but at the same time, I wanted to slow down to relish every word.  That, my friends is how you know you are reading a great book.  I have actually already downloaded other books in the series because I really liked the characters that support the leads.

Penelope was a great character and while I don’t have much in common with her, she was immensely relatable.  That is the sign of a great writer.  I haven’t read anything by Lauren Layne before, but this was a wonderful introduction and I will be following her from now on!

Hardwired Series

hardwired series

Hardwired Series by Meredith Wild

Overview by Amazon:

Determined to overcome a difficult past, Erica Hathaway learns early on how to make it on her own. Days after her college graduation she finds herself face to face with a panel of investors who will make or break her fledgling startup. The only thing she didn’t prepare for was going weak in the knees over an arrogant and gorgeous investor who’s seemingly determined to derail her presentation. Billionaire and rumored hacker Blake Landon has already made his fortune in software, and he’s used to getting what he wants with very little resistance. Captivated by Erica’s drive and unassuming beauty, he’s wanted nothing more since she stepped into his boardroom. Determined to win her over, he breaks down her defenses and fights for her trust, even if that means sacrificing a level of control he’s grown accustomed to. But when Blake uncovers a dark secret from Erica’s past, he threatens not just her trust, but the life she’s fought so hard to create.

I saw Hardwired on Netgalley and something trigged within me.  I recognized the cover and the series.  I clicked away not entirely realizing that I was getting the first book in the series that was published in 2011.  I started reading and I realized that I have read this book before – and really liked it.  So, I kept reading and reading and reading.  In fact, this weekend I read all four books in the series to date and have pre-ordered the fifth book coming up in October.

This series is a great fit for those who loved Fifty Shades of Grey and Crossfire.  They feature the young ingénue and the billionaire, genius businessman.  Erica and Blake are great characters and the plot is actually much more interesting that the other series.  Blake has a past as a hacker and is now an incredibly successful entrepreneur.  Erica is the one with the damaged past.  She has managed to make her past not define herself or her future.

The cool part about this series is the technology and business element.  I loved learning about tech start-up companies and the Angel network that funds projects.  Blake is at the top of the food chain in the industry and with his help; Erica has the ability to make her dreams come true.  I really liked this part of the plotlines.  I liked how Blake’s experience and knowledge wasn’t hidden away and it was a mystery to the reader what he actually did when he dragged his body away from the luscious form of his lady.

Sex features heavily between the two.  They have a very robust sex life that starts out vanilla, but eventually reveals Blake’s needs.  It’s kind of like a blend of Fifty and Crossfire.  There are definitely elements of BDSM – all I could think about was that Erica is a lot tougher than Ana.  The sex is copious and amazing like Eva and Gideon from Crossfire.  You’d have to be dead to not be turned on by the scenarios and words that Meredith Wild splashes across the chapters.

Erica was a great character.  I liked how she was so independent and wanted to run her vision.  She has trouble giving Blake the control he needs, but sometimes I wanted her to go to him more and include him in her life.  He was clearly interested and very motivated to support her life.  Erica has a past that I couldn’t even imagine.  She has been alone for so long, that I was happy for her that she had Blake’s normal family to join.

Like most books in this genre, it’s the guy that intrigues me.  Blake was just amazing.  So smart and confident, it was a major turn on.  I kept imagining him as Jamie Dornan, but the character has darker hair.  When Blake laughs, fucks, kisses or is at the boardroom, he is in complete control and it’s so sexy.  He wants to take care of Erica and be her partner in everything.  I don’t know how, but Meredith Wild creates a guy that is everything I want.  His sexual boundaries are pretty intense, but he’s the perfect package, so I’d be down with that!

The secondary characters once again remind me of Fifty Shades, but are better developed and more interested.  Heath is Blake’s brother and Allie is Erica’s best friend and they are also a couple.  I really liked them and they round out the lives of Blake and Erica.  While there is a lot of drama with Erica’s father and then her pseudo mom, it’s Blake’s family that provides the normalcy and consistency in the story.  I really liked that Blake came from a normal and happy family.

This series kept me so entertained that I re-read the first two books and then blasted through the next two this weekend.  I can’t wait to read the next one in the series and find out what happens to Erica and Blake.  This series is a great blend of compelling business, a beautiful love, remarkable sex and two fascinating people.