Review: Smoking Ruin by D.R. Martin

smoking ruinReviewed by Karin

This book was quite a read and quite different. I liked it a lot.

It is not a typical romantic suspense. It is higher on the suspense level and the who-dun-it is hidden until the last pages. I guessed the right character(s) fairly early on, but I didn’t guess the whole of it or the why of it.

And it is extremely well written, lots of wonderful color, lots of great descriptions that never got old, very good character development. And a mystery with increasing danger and perhaps two intertwined or intersecting plots.

Minneapolis PI Marta Hjelm is the main character as well as the voice of the book. She is at the edge of burnout because of losing a woman to her abusive husband a year before. She and her live-in/live-out boyfriend have just argued over whether she should give it up (he’s a photographer) and when they argue to that level, he goes to his brother’s house, which is where he is for nearly the entire book, although the two interact. Any sex, and there’s not a lot, takes place off page. But there is definitely love.

Out of the blue Marta’s ex-husband shows up and offers her a job with an advertising company. This doesn’t set well with the boyfriend, as you can imagine. Considering she really wants nothing to do with him, why she lets him in and why she accepts the job (the money to help her and her boyfriend with his photography business) — even she can’t figure it out.

And before you know it, her life is in danger — and the lives of others also. It seems like there is a terrorist plot against the advertising company.

In many ways, it’s a setup, and not just for Marta.

Very clever book — there was one word I’d never heard of and a couple that aren’t used very often.

It was a good read. I’d like a second.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Smoking Ruin

Review: Love Like the Movies by Victoria Van Tiem

love like the moviesHeroine: Kensington Shaw is always coming in second place in her family. Her parents, especially her mother, do not make her feel seen. She’s never quite good enough, even though she thinks she’s got a pretty good life. What really gets her? Her brother’s wife, Ren, who is always one-upping her. Kensi though, knows today is her day, finally. Today she is announcing her engagement to the man she loves and her family adores. Nothing Ren can do will top that…

Bachelor One: Bradley – He’s got the family’s approval. He’s got a steady solid job at the same company where Kensi works. He’s always trying to solve problems that arise between Kensi and her family. He’s a good man and gorgeous. But is that enough?

Bachelor Two: Shane – He’s not going to take “No” for an answer. He will get his ten movie moments with Kensi or he’ll take his big project and walk. Walking, is not something Kensi’s career can take so she agrees to do his ten movie moments as long as they don’t cross a line – after all she is engaged.

Review: This story will make you say, “Aww.” Shane is super adorable and pulls out all the stops. He clearly wants to win Kensi back and will do what it takes. I love how Kensi’s love of rom-coms permeated into Shane’s life even after they had broken up. I love that when he saw them, he thought of her. The movie moments are adorable because they get mixed up and slightly out of order. Shane won’t hesitate to say the female’s part in the movie to get his point across. The only thing I didn’t like was how often Kensi would cry. That girl would tear up and/or bawl for the good and the bad. A little less waterworks would’ve been great. Kensi’s a heroine to love, because she’s willing to be swept away. I love that she channels her inner Bridget Jones (and other heroines).

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Love Like the Movies

Review: Heartstrings and Diamond Rings by Jane Graves

Heroine: Alison Carter has dated every frog in the pond. When current boyfriend proposes a threesome instead of marriage she dumps him and hires herself a matchmaker. She wants to find someone to start a family with, who isn’t a creep, and likes her cats. If love entered the picture that would be great, but her expectations on romance and passion are set very low.

Hero: Brandon Scott inherited his grandmother’s moderately successful matchmaking business.  For the short term it will do nicely to help him raise funds for a real estate project he wants to get in on the ground level, after all what’s so hard about matching people? He doesn’t guarantee love, just 5 good solid matches.  Now he’s just got to convince his first client, Alison, to let him try.

Favorite Scenes: Every time Brandon messes up, Alison shows up at his door. The dating horror events and recaps are deliciously hilarious and over the top.

Favorite Quote: (pg. 236)

He’d kissed a lot of women in his life, but never one whose heart seemed to flow from her lips to his. And that was the problem. He could practically feel all that love bubbling up inside her now, dying to be released, and it wasn’t fair to her if he took even the tiniest bit of it. She needed to save it for the man who could give her forever.

Review: There’s plenty to laugh at in the story. Brandon pegs Alison down to the type of magazine she reads, but has the most awful time setting her up with eligible men. I guess he can’t read guys so well and he sets her up on some truly hideous dates. This works for me because of the humor. Alison always gives him another chance, and Brandon always fails because in his secret heart of hearts he wants her for himself. Over the course of the novel they become friends as she tries to help him grow his business in return for free matches. It’s a little predictable but nevertheless a cute read.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: Heartstrings and Diamond Rings

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Review: Pinch Me by Adena Halpern

Genre: Contemporary, Magic

Summary: Lily Burns has been raised to avoid handsome, strong, nice, intelligent men. Her mother (Selma) and grandmother (Dolly) have said over and over that she should only get involved with awful horrible men who treat her badly because they can’t get worse, but a nice guy, well there’s always something he’s hiding. It was a philosophy she subscribed to until she met Gogo.

He is everything they’ve warned her against – smart, gorgeous, successful, and completely wonderful. She agrees to marry him and on their wedding night the true reason Selma and Dolly drilled their philosophy in Lily’s head comes to light… the family curse is evoked and Lily wakes up in her old apartment alone and unmarried.

Now it’s a fight to regain her life – the life she led with Gogo and break the curse. Can Lily do it or will the fact that her beloved Gogo who is now married to his college sweetheart in this alternate universe going to throw her off her game? What would you do?

Review: The author came up with the idea for this story by wondering what she would do if she woke up one day back when she was single before meeting her husband. It’s a fun concept that adds a little magic to a contemporary story turning it into a modern day fairy tale.

Lily struggles to break a curse that has blighted the love lives of the women of her family for generations and juggles different advice along the way. There is one who is pro-cheating because the real version of history is Lily married to Gogo not Gogo to his college sweetheart, but Lily is conflicted about it.

Of course the other woman isn’t a very nice person and has spent her time with Gogo bringing the man down and keeping him low so you can’t really do anything but cheer Lily on in trying to spark Gogo’s memories of her… if he has them… if the curse works like amnesia… but does it? Can she turn other universe Gogo into the strong capable man he was before? If she does, will he relearn to love her?

It’s a fast read, clocking in around 230 pages. Once you pick it up you’re unlikely to put it down until you get to the end. It’s got humor, magic, and starcrossed (but hopefully not!) lovers.

Favorite Scene: When Selma, Dolly and Lily are sitting around the table after Lily’s told them she’s going to marry Gogo. The conversation is hilarious. I’d share but it’s too priceless to breakup piecemeal. I also like the part when she shares all the things that make Gogo human and not a fantasy man. That was cute too.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Pinch Me, Pinch Me (UK)

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