The Best Kind of Trouble by Lauren Dane #Review

The Best Kind of Trouble by Lauren Dane #Review

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The Best Kind of Trouble by Lauren Dane #Review

The Best Kind of Broken by Lauren Dane

five-stars
The Hurley Boys #1
Published by: Harlequin, HQN on August 26, 2014
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
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PJV Quickie: The Best Kind of Trouble is the kind of book you take your time with, savoring each word and page like expensive chocolate because you don’t want it to end too soon.  Then, like that expensive chocolate, the taste of it lingers for you to enjoy after it’s done.

Review:
I’m going to start this review with a quote from my review of LUSH, the 3rd book in Ms.Dane’s Delicious series:

“Family” is a theme that imbues all of Ms. Dane’s novels: Not just the family you’re born with but the family you build for yourself.

Lauren Dane does what she does best in The Best Kind of Trouble, she writes strong characters, strong relationships, and gorgeous sex scenes.  Sometimes, for me, her characters are a little bit too strong, to the point they seem selfish or uncompromising, but in The Best Kind of Trouble she gets it just right. Soooo right:

Natalie Clayton is a small-town librarian who has worked hard to escape her past.  Growing up as the child of an addict, where she had been exposed to so many horrible situations that were left for her to clean up after, the most important thing in her life is having control.  Because of that, when she bumps into rock star Paddy Hurley on her way to work she pretends they don’t have a history and walks away.

Paddy Hurley is getting coffee and sees a beautiful woman in line ahead of him. She looks familiar, and he realizes she is the girl whom he had a really hot, unforgettable two-week long fling with before his band became famous.  He can’t figure out why she is pretending she doesn’t recognize him; there’s no way she could have forgotten their time together.

~~~~~

Reading Natalie and Paddy navigate her past and the way it’s shaped her adult life, Paddy’s rock-star lifestyle, his family, her family, and their relationship was beautiful and painful, hopeful and pleasurable.  Both Natalie and Paddy had triggers and their journey to happiness could only have been written this well by Lauren Dane.

The secondary characters have a life of their own (I’m in book-love with Paddy’s parents) and I cannot wait for the next book in the series, Broken Open, which will be Ezra and Tuesday’s story, coming in late November.

Recommendations: If you’ve read Lauren Dane’s Brown Family series, this is a great spin-off and a must-not-miss.  Fans of Victoria Dahl will want to give The Best Kind of Trouble a try. I would also recommend for fans of second-chance love, librarians, rock-star romance, and small-town romance.

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I Want It That Way by Ann Aguirre #Review

I Want It That Way by Ann Aguirre #Review

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I Want It That Way by Ann Aguirre #Review

I Want It That Way by Ann Aguirre

four-half-stars
2B Trilogy #1
Published by: Harlequin, HQN on August 26, 2014
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Love & Romance, New Adult
Amazon Goodreads
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PJV Quickie: I wasn’t sure what to expect when I heard Ann Aguirre was writing a New Adult series – that’s sooo different from her other books!  I am happy to say I was not disappointed; I Want it That Way was a captivating story with an emotional touch that burrows its way in and squeezes your heart until it hurts.  I love it when a book affects me like that.

Review: Nadia Conrad is a college junior working her way towards a degree in special education.  She is moving into an off-campus apartment with three of her friends.  Daniel “Ty” Tyler is a single dad who lives in the apartment underneath Nadia.  The attraction between them is slow-moving, as Nadia is concentrating on school and her job at a local day-care, and Ty is concentrating on being a father, working during the day, and going to night classes.  I loved how they started talking to each other over the balcony and things reluctantly escalated from there.

I am such a sucker for a reluctant romance, and believe me, neither Nadia nor Ty wanted to fall in love.  There is no “bad boy” or “party girl” drama here, no external conflicts such as a serial killer or natural disaster, just the sweet, difficult, challenging relationship between two people who have too many obligations and not enough hours in the day.  They were terrific together.  I should add that while I normally hate when kids are written into the story because inevitably they’re annoying; that’s not the case here: he’s not precocious, just a regular kid who loves his dad and his daycare.

I also thought Nadia’s roomies were pretty cool – Ms. Aguirre does a great job giving them interesting personalities and stories without taking over Nadia and Ty’s story.  I am very much looking forward to the next book, As Long As You Love Me, which will be the story of her roommate Lauren and someone else I’m not going to spoil for you:)

Random: Be warned – every time you pick up this book, or someone walks by while you’re reading this book, expect to hear the Backstreet Boys’ “I Want it That Way”, either out loud or in your head.  Also, I don’t know why she picked BSB titles for her books, I wasn’t really a fan back in the day so maybe it would be obvious to a fan?

Recommendations: I think if you like New Adult, or you want to try New Adult, this would be an enjoyable read for you.  Fans of reluctant romance or single-parent romance may also want to give this one a try.

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Conversion by S.C. Stephens #Review

Conversion by S.C. Stephens #Review

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Conversion by S.C. Stephens #Review

Conversion by S.C. Stephens

three-stars
Conversion #1
Published by: Self-Published on September 3, 2013
Genres: Adult, Family, Paranormal Romance, Romance
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PJV Quickie: Conversion is probably one of the strangest books I’ve read in a while:  there was quite a bit of WTF happening, yet I couldn’t stop reading.

Review: I was a fan of Ms. Stephens’ Thoughtless series, so when I saw she had written a vampire series I was very interested.  I knew going into it that it would be different, but what I got was totally unexpected:

The two main characters, Emma and Teren, have a meet-cute and the attraction is instant. They quickly get into a relationship but Teren seems to be taking it slowly… until he accidentally pricks her lip while they’re kissing.  She takes the news that he’s “sort of” a vampire pretty well.  I enjoyed the twist on traditional vampire lore. Then it gets weird.  They visit his family and secrets are revealed; things are not as happy-go-lucky as Teren has led her to believe.  Emma must make some pretty momentous decisions, and she doesn’t have a big window of time to make them in.  Then it gets weirder.  I’m not going into spoilers, but it felt like I was reading a category romance with a paranormal twist.  Just as I’m thinking I know what’s going to happen, a villain pops up out of nowhere with a weak premise.

There were some funny bits, but even so the story itself kind of dragged in spots; it definitely could have been shortened and the plot would not have suffered.  Throw in a self-centered best friend, a horribly scarred sister, and a really sweet ending, and you end up with a book that left me wondering what the heck I just read… and looking up the next book.  I have issues, I know.

Recommendations: If you’re looking for a vampire tale that’s a little different and not too dark, you might enjoy Conversion.  It’s lighter than traditional vampire lore, not dark and broody, and the hero is pretty likable.

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Better Homes and Hauntings by Molly Harper #Review

Better Homes and Hauntings by Molly Harper #Review

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Better Homes and Hauntings by Molly Harper #Review

Better Homes and Hauntings by Molly Harper

four-stars
Published by: Pocket Books, Simon & Schuster on June 24, 2014
Genres: Adult, Horror & Ghost Stories, Paranormal Romance, Romance
Amazon Goodreads
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PJV Quickie: Molly Harper has this wonderful, almost-but-not-quite over-the-top way of writing that always makes me smile. Always.  Better Homes and Hauntings continues the trend of me wishing I was besties with her characters, in spite of, or maybe because of, the crazy situations they manage to get themselves into.

Review: Take one gardener, one billionaire computer nerd, an angry ex, a vengeful ghost, and an abandoned mansion, mix them together with Molly Harper’s signature humor, and what you get is an entertaining ghost-story with a twist.  The ghost-story aspect of Better Homes and Hauntings was surprisingly spooky – it wasn’t as light as I had expected and it was genuinely creepy. Molly Harper’s signature humor shines through and the hero and heroine were so nerdy and awkward that their slow-moving relationship was adorable.  The secondary characters are fabulous; my understanding is that this is a stand-alone but I would really love to see another story featuring the cousin.

Recommendations: If you’re already a Molly Harper fan – you know you’re going to love it. Fans of quirky paranormal romance will love Better Homes and Hauntings – even though there are no vampires or werewolves, this “ghost story with a twist” will keep you laughing (and a bit creeped out) until the end.

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Hillbilly Rockstar by Lorelei James #Review

Hillbilly Rockstar by Lorelei James #Review

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Hillbilly Rockstar by Lorelei James #Review

Hillbilly Rockstar by Lorelei James

four-stars
Blacktop Cowboys #6
Published by: NAL, Penguin on August 5, 2014
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Love & Romance, Romance, Western
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PJV Quickie: While I was introduced to Lorelei James’ seductive brand of cowboy in her Rough Riders series, it’s her Blacktop Cowboys that steal my heart. I was a little nervous going into Hillbilly Rockstar, since the hero of the story didn’t actually do any ranching, but I shouldn’t have worried – Lorelei James writes some sexy, sexy cowboys!

Review: Whenever I’m in the mood to read some hard-working, good-looking, fun-loving cowboys, I know exactly which author to turn to – Lorelei James.  In looking at my ratings for this series, I’ve given each of the previous books 4 stars.  In her Blacktop Cowboys series, she’s created a world in Muddy Gap, Wyoming that is full of sympathetic characters whose stories are irresistibly readable and I enjoy going back to visit with each new book.

Hillbilly Rockstar pairs two unlikely characters:  Liberty Masterson, a former soldier who now works for an elite security company as a bodyguard, and Devin McClain, a country-music superstar who is having some security issues on tour.  When a member of his crew is attacked on his personal tour bus, Liberty is called in to go undercover as his “assistant”. Devin doesn’t want a bodyguard, and Liberty doesn’t want to guard Devin, but her boss makes an offer she can’t refuse.

I liked Liberty in that she was confident and brash and doesn’t put up with stupidity. She works hard and has goals.  One thing that sort of stuck around in the back of my mind though, was the fact that she dated her superior officer in the army and then she dated her charge (Devin) as a security guard; I don’t have any sort of medical degree but this seems to be self-destructive behavior to me.

That being said, I really enjoyed reading these two interact and build trust between them. Their scenes together were sexy and fun. The mystery was a bit predictable, but for me the romantic interaction between Liberty and Devin made up for it. Both characters are stubborn and have issues that can’t be avoided while they’re spending so much time together in the isolated world of a music tour; they start off antagonistic towards each other, but that animosity turns to lust and then genuine affection.

Recommendations: If you’re looking for an entertaining Cowboy Romance, look no further than Lorelei James – great characters, steamy love scenes, and interesting storylines make her books hard to put down.

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Looking for Trouble by Victoria Dahl #Review

Looking for Trouble by Victoria Dahl #Review

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PJV Quickie: I love stories with librarian heroines!  It’s been a while since I read a Victoria Dahl book, and after finishing Looking for Trouble I’m wondering why it’s been so long – I really enjoy spending time in the worlds she creates.

Looking for Trouble by Victoria Dahl #Review

Looking for Trouble by Victoria Dahl

four-stars
Jackson: Girls' Night Out #1
Published by: Harlequin, HQN on July 29, 2014
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Amazon Goodreads
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Review: This story was sweet and hot and sad and wonderful. Victoria Dahl has a way of writing that drags your emotions through the mud and leaves you begging “Again!” I was pleasantly surprised with how much I liked both the hero and heroine. The tragedy that changed their lives 25 years ago has suddenly become hot news again. Alex has come back, reluctantly, but plans to leave ASAP. Sophie wants a night of hot sex so she can forget what her life is like, but even as she realizes who Alex is, she can’t resist the opportunity to take what she wants, even it it’s only temporary.

Victoria Dahl takes a storyline that should be depressing and injects hope and love where before there had only been hurt and resignation. These two shouldn’t have been right together, but their chemistry was so good. Their romance was slow and sexy and full of wanting; I loved it. The conflict was well-written and kept my emotions raw (but in such a good way!). The rich characters and gossip gave Looking for Trouble a small-town feel that semed realistic and made me laugh but also broke my heart – there are no perfect people here, instead we get these amazingly flawed characters who sometimes make mistakes.

Recommendations: If you like small-town romance and complex characters, I wholeheartedly recommend Looking for Trouble.  If you’re a fan of Jill Shalvis and Shannon Stacey, you will probably enjoy Victoria Dahl’s books too.

 

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