Beauty and the Best Man (The Lassiters, Book 0.5) by by Maureen Child

beauty best manSummary: Matt Hollis would never let a woman get between him and his first mistress, his career. Except there was one once that wanted to commit and he let her get away. He’s been thinking about her ever since. His best friend is marrying her best friend and they’re thrown together once again. Kayla is conflicted and unsure if she should open to hear to Matt again. Tables are turned as Matt tries to prove commitment is worth it.

Review: It’s a novella and very short. On one hand it felt long because of the constant circling of will they-won’t they arguments that generally felt the same, but then the romance falls into place much too quickly. Definitely a story for readers who’ve seen these two in action in another book.

Liked the tag line – May the Best Man Win……the Maid of Honor?

Rating: ★½☆☆☆

Buy: Beauty and the Best Man (Dynasties: The Lassiters)

Review: Fired by Her Fling by Christy McKellen

fired by her flingHero: Tristan Bamfield arrives in London to settle a personnel dispute at his father’s radio station. Cleaning up messes for his dad is something Tristan is used to, having taken over the family kitchen cabinet business years ago. He has a fabulous evening with a sexy woman only to find out the next day that she’s one half of the dispute he has to resolve. He’s been played a fool — again!

Heroine: Tallulah (Lula) Lazenby gets tongue-tied around people which may sound odd as her job is as a radio DJ. Sleeping with her boss at the station was a huge mistake. Jez is a major sleazeball; and the promotion he promised her? Nowhere in sight. Imagine her surprise when her one night stand ends up firing her and calls her on the carpet for unethical behavior and manipulation.

Review: Lula’s celebrity personality (the confident side of herself) I felt had better chemistry with Tristan than her “real” timid personality. Tristan has some serious family issues with his brother stealing his fiancée and his dad serially marrying women. My favorite sequences in this story included the night these two hooked up the first time, when they realized who the other one was and the subsequent firing, and Tristan’s later groveling where he wins her back to the studio with gifts (not all appropriate, but all right, cute anyway).

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: Fired by Her Fling

Review: Tempted by the Billionaire Tycoon (Billionaire Romance, Book 2) by Jennifer St. George

tempted by the billionaire tycoonSummary: Nic Capitini is about to take his luxury spa resort company public. He needs the launch to be successful not just for business but because he plans to use its success to prove to his mother and sister they can rely on him to be strong enough to protect them from his father (a ruthless man who runs the island Nic is from with casinos and prostitutes.)

The only fly in his ointment is the poor showing of his English spa where a series of strange incidents spells certain failure for his launch. He goes undercover to ferret out the resort’s manager and fire her for poor performance. Only Nic has a hard time finding anything wrong that Poppy Bradford. Everything he could complain about she fixes or has a reason for doing (like ensuring the safety of the guests). He finds himself falling for her instead.

Review: A quick and fun read. There are a lot of suspects who could be behind the sabotages at the Sirona resort. Is it the manager? The assistant manager? An employee who was fired for drugs? A male client stalking the manager? I like Poppy who was capable and strong. She was a smart manager and was doing everything she could think of to make the resort a success and minimize future incidents. She even figures out Nic quick enough and calls him on it. She proposes a deal – let her prove she’s worth not only keeping but promoting and he takes her up on it. The dialogue was fun and snappy. I had a few concerns about her sister’s sudden turn around in behavior but it didn’t pan out to be anything.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Tempted by the Billionaire Tycoon: Billionaire Romance Book 2

Review: Only with You (Best Mistake, Book 1) by Lauren Layne

Layne_Only With You_MM[1]Hero: CEO Grayson Wyatt is a reserved man (read socially awkward). He wasn’t always so reserved, once he loved somebody and was engaged. It didn’t last and what the lady had to say in parting was not kind. So when this ex-fiance’s doppelganger appeared in a Vegas elevator is it any wonder he was rude? Not to mention the woman dressed like a hooker.

Heroine: Waitress Sophie Dalton was dressed to kill for a slutty bachelorette party downstairs in the hotel. When a hot stranger snubs her in the elevator she is mortified. Nobody has held up a mirror like that to her and she didn’t like what she saw. So she makes an effort to change it. Even if her family thinks she inadequate to the task.

Review: They don’t expect to meet again but since both hero and heroine were in  Vegas on a trip, is it any wonder to the reader that they find each other again in Seattle? Grayson is kind of dating her sister. Her family wrangles a job to Grayson as his secretary. It’s a match made in heaven for readers who love enmity at first sight. Lauren Layne does an excellent job skirting around the issue of being with a sibling’s date. Grayson and Brynn have no chemistry and they only try to make it work because both feel it’s the right match compared to getting together with someone they’re more interested in – ie Grayson and Sophie, Brynn and Will (Made for You). I liked both the hero and the heroine and I thought they paired well. She makes him loosen up and he grounds her. It’s a good balance. I read it in a few sittings and was sad to part ways. One of my favorites published this year.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Only with You (The Best Mistake)

Get into Bed with Lauren Layne (Author Interview)

lauren layneKeira: Only With You features an enemies-to-lovers trope. What is your favorite aspect of enemies-to-lovers plots?

Lauren Layne: From the moment I discovered romantic comedies, enemies-to-lovers became a favorite. Actually, probably THE favorite. But it’s not until I started writing my own romance stories that I figured out why: instant-conflict. Have you ever picked up a romance that had exquisite writing, relatable characters, but you just couldn’t get into it? It’s probably because there wasn’t enough conflict; not enough “stuff” keeping the two characters apart. With the enemies-to-lovers plot, there is so much anticipation on the page because these two people don’t like each other … and yet they DO. It’s like the Holy Grail for sexual tension.

The other reason I love enemies-to-lovers? It’s a great set up for fun banter. Banter is my favorite thing to write, and when my two main characters are at odds, I get to write lots of it!

Keira: It also features an office romance and a romance where a main character dates a sibling’s “ex”. Both can be tricky to navigate without coming across tacky and I think you hit a home-run. What were you most aware of as potential pitfalls while writing this book?

Lauren: I so appreciate you saying that these elements worked for you, because you’re correct … getting them right was HARD. As far as the office-romance goes, I’ve always been a sucker for them, but I’m also a feminist, so it was really important for me that Sophie wasn’t the little woman who was pushing papers, in awe of her big, important boss. In order to give a modern-take on the boss/secretary romance, I tried to make it clear that Sophie’s job choice was very deliberate. She was in charge of her life, she was calling the shots. And I’ve worked as a receptionist at a big company; it’s freaking hard, important work!

As far as the “dating of the sister’s ex,” that was even more difficult. I really have to credit my agent with helping me get that part right. In earlier drafts, I skimmed over it TOO much, so it wasn’t believable. In later drafts, I went too far the other way, and made Gray and Brynn too much of a thing. Finally, FINALLY I found the happy in-between phase. I think. I hope.

Keira: Gray has a gut reaction to meeting Sophie. She reminds him of his ex-fiance in her appearance. He’s introverted and awkward around people, failing at the most basic social niceties – in other words, he sticks his foot in it a time or two. What was something Gray said or did that he felt most embarrassed by later?

Lauren: Ha. Poor, poor Gray. But really, don’t we all know a few real life Grays? Those people who have a GREAT heart, but for whatever reason, are really, REALLY bad at showing it?

As far as “in the book” moments that he regrets: that in-the-elevator meeting with Sophie, for SURE. Not only was he guilty of a snap-judgment, but he’s guilty of saying it out-loud. Major no no. As far as moments in his past that the reader doesn’t get to see? I definitely picture him being an absolute disaster asking a girl to prom :)

Keira: How do you define love? What does it take to be with someone for the long-haul?

Lauren: You know, this is such a great question, and one I think about  lot, not only because my chosen career is writing love stories, but because of my personal life. My husband and I met at 15, started dating at 17, married at 23 … basically we’re a recipe for “married too young,” but we’re 31 now and seem to get happier every day. And sometimes I’m like, “How? Why? Why does this work SO well for us, and not everyone?” I think the difficult answer to this question is that it’s just not the same for every couple. For us, it’s definitely laughter. We make each other laugh SO much, every day, so the relationship rarely feels like work. But that’s just our personality; it’s not the way everyone works. We have friends in successful relationships that are all about shared goals. Or adventurous spirit. Or dedication to family.

I think what makes a relationship work for the long-haul is figuring out what brought you together in the first place and watering the hell out of that seed so that it continues to grow. But at the same time, give each other room to grow and change. And you know what? Be interesting. A significant other that has his/her own thing going on is SEXY.

Keira: What makes a sex scene in a romance? (And I think I know where you might go with this question – banter and anticipation – which Only with You has in spades!)

Lauren: Ha, you caught me! A sex scene without build-up is to me, just a description of body-parts touching other body parts. Snooze. Anticipation is everything. I recently read Screwdrivered by Alice Clayton, in which the hero/heroine don’t even kiss until the last 95% of the book, but it’s one of the hottest books I’ve read all year, because it’s been building the ENTIRE STORY.

I tend to look at structure of movies when I write; romantic comedy screenplays can tell us a lot about pacing. With the exception of Friends With Benefits storylines, rarely do you see the main characters getting it on until at LEAST halfway through. And THE kiss at the end of those movies? It’s everything.

Keira: In what ways would the story have changed if Sophie wore the sensible shoes instead of the boots?

Lauren: You know … GREAT question! I’ve never even thought about it, because those darn boots were in my very earliest conception of the story. I think, likely, Sophie and Gray would have exchanged polite smiles and never seen each other again (well okay, Sophie would have drooled, and Gray wouldn’t have smiled, because he’s Gray). But you get the idea … these characters are SO opposite, they really needed “exceptional circumstances” to bring each other together. Or in this case, exceptional footwear!

Keira: What’s the next Best Mistake?

Lauren: Next up is the story of Sophie’s uptight sister, Brynn. It was a really tricky one to write, because in book 1, she verges on being slightly unlikable. She’s rigid, a little prissy and self-absorbed. But honestly? Brynn’s books is one of my favorites because of these flaws. She’s my most imperfect heroine, and I think that makes her story so real. Made for You (October 28th) is the only book of mine that I’ve gone back and read “just for fun.” I love it that much :)

Layne_Only With You_MM[1]About ONLY WITH YOU

Getting mistaken for a prostitute is not part of Sophie Dalton’s life plan. Not that Sophie even has a life plan. She’s perfectly happy being everyone’s favorite party girl. But then a Las Vegas bachelorette party goes awry, and an uptight businessman gives Sophie a new label: hooker.

Unfortunately, what happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay there. When the same jerk who mistook her for a prostitute shows up as Sophie’s new boss and her perfect sister’s new boyfriend, Sophie’s carefree existence is turned upside down. Grayson Wyatt may have infiltrated family dinners and her professional world, but Sophie’s not about to let a judgmental prude anywhere near her personal life.

As Gray’s icy stares give way to quiet smiles, Sophie realizes that the one man she’s been so desperate to get away from just might be the one she wants to keep around forever.

Buy: Only with You (The Best Mistake)

Layne_Made for You_MMAbout MADE FOR YOU

Three years ago, Brynn Dalton made a rare error in judgment and had a one-night stand with the one man she swore would never get into her designer panties. Will Thatcher was exactly the type of sexy playboy that good girls like Brynn stayed away from. And when Will moved across the country just days after their fling, Brynn vowed to put him behind her, even as the memories haunt her.

Now Will Thatcher is back, and just in time to see Brynn’s perfectly structured life begin to crumble. Her job is dull, her social life is tedious, and Brynn’s perfect cardiologist boyfriend doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to get to Tiffany & Co. More than ever, Brynn needs her childhood nemesis to keep his distance.

But Will isn’t content to be Brynn’s dirty little secret any longer. This time, he’s out to show Brynn Dalton that the imperfect man might just be the best mistake of her life.

Buy: Made for You (The Best Mistake)

About Lauren Layne

Lauren Layne writes contemporary romance for Grand Central Publishing (Forever) and Random House(Loveswept).

After dabbling in an e-commerce career in Seattle and Southern California, Lauren moved to New York City where she now writes full time.

Lauren graduated from Santa Clara University with B.S. in Political Science that she has yet to put to good use. She lives with her husband and plus-sized pomeranian in a tiny Manhattan studio.

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Review: Reckless Games by M.J. Lowell

reckless gamesReviewed by Lynn Reynolds

This story is told in the first person.

Lucy Flannigan is mourning the loss of someone very special to her.  And then she overhears something she shouldn’t have.  Rhys Carlyle is a man who has quite the appetite for the ladies.  These two have a very interesting first meeting.  Rhys is one cocky man who is very sure of himself.  He’s a man of mystery and is hard to figure out but he certainly knows how to take care of a woman.

The situation surrounding them is very serious but there are times that you just can’t help chuckling.  As you read the scene where they are having tea, you’ll understand how smooth and cocky Rhys can be.  He’s also a man who knows what he wants sexually so this isn’t for the shy or who like things missionary or vanilla.

Tarot cards become a part of self-discovery for Lucy.  She’s given some choices that she needs to decide if she’s going to take.  My question to you – “Would you take the chance and listen to what the cards are telling you?”  Would you even go to a fortuneteller?  Are you willing to push you comfort zone boundaries?  You may even get some pleasurable ideas.

There are scenes that are going to be graphic and push sexual boundaries, but that just expresses the need between our two main characters.  This is not just a book where two people get together and have sex.  There’s also mystery and suspense that pulls this book together and then there’s the war that goes on between the head and the heart.  Music plays a small part and an excellent way to set the mood so if you like classical get your favorites playing in the background.  I found that this is a book that you can put down but the problem was trying to find just the right place to stop.  But when you get to the end, be prepared…  I look forward to see how our author does with the sequel.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Reckless Games

Review: Seducing the Playboy (Hot Nights, Book 2) by Amanda Usen

Seducing the PlayboyReviewed by Lynn Reynolds

I received a copy of this book from the publisher and the author in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated in any way.

Roman Gallagher has a visit from Jenna Cooper. The reader at this point is treated to a scene of instant combustion. I feel that this book should come with a warning – it’s going to make you hungry. And if you love to cook, you may want to get out some of your favorite recipes. I can see gaining weight with this book – picture reading this story in a bakery or sitting outside of a restaurant.

One thing that I absolutely loved about Jenna was her attitude. I could almost picture her sticking her tongue out. And Roman is a man who knows how to cook. And what I love about Roman’s character is that he doesn’t stand a chance against Jenna’s will.

Our author shows her readers that there are all different types of hunger and she definitely knows how to feed that need. She also does a great job of seducing and teasing her readers. There’s just enough to get a reader’s imagination flowing. And then there are the fantasies. The sad part is that you can get this book read in one day. I’m glad to see this is a series. Into The Fire is the first book of the series should you need to get caught up. Another sad part is that I can’t find anything about book three. We’ll just have to be patient.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Seducing the Playboy (A Hot Nights Series Book) (Entangled Brazen)

Review: A Venetian Affair by Dana Mitchell

Venetian AffairReviewed by Lynn Reynolds

Helen Stoddart is a singer who has caught a gentleman’s attention. Gabriel Venier has come to listen to opera at a Venetian café. He also comes to the aid of a damsel in distress. The heat is combustible between the two of them. If my book was a paperback, the pages would burn.

If you like to listen to music while reading your books, you may want to try listening to Il Divo and Il Volo. Or if you prefer opera, you could try stopping down at your local library and see what they suggest. Me, I loved watching “The Pirates of Penzance” with Linda Rondstadt and Kevin Kline. You can catch a segment below:

This is a story about misunderstandings. Dana shows how misconceptions can hurt and how people can overcome other people’s attitudes. Helen is a passionate woman but she has a mask that she always wears when she is around others. Will she ever find someone who will look beyond that mask? The only way you can answer that question is if you read this book.

Besides having just the right amount of sex, Dana puts in just enough tension that will have you turning the page. She also reminds her readers that you can’t pick your family. But best of all we get our HEA ending. It will be interesting to see what she has in store for her readers next. But while you wait, try giving Dana’s book A Venetian Affair a chance.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: A Venetian Affair