Wednesday, April 20, 2016

“What are you wearing?”
A pause, as if she’d shocked him. “You’re hitting on me.”
“Are you complaining?” She twisted around in her chair and stared into the mirror on the wall across from her. When he didn’t immediately respond, she kept going. The only alternative was to back down, and Carrigan was so goddamn tired of backing down. The only reason she kept taking James’s calls was because of the distraction he offered her. If he wasn’t going to play, there was no reason for her to stay on the phone.
She really wanted him to stay on the phone. “Shy? That’s okay, I’ll go first. I’m wearing a thin white tank top and a pair of black panties.” She was a liar, but it would take all of five seconds to make it the truth.
“Lovely, you’re testing me.” His voice gained an edge.
Good. At least someone was feeling as out of control as she was. “I suppose you’d like photographic proof.” She stood and shimmied out of her long skirt, and then pinned the phone between her ear and shoulder while she unhooked her bra and took it off. “Hold, please.”
Ignoring his cursing, she adjusted her angle so he would have to be blind to miss the faint outline of her nipples against the fabric of her tank top, and snapped a picture. She knew she was playing with fire. Good lord, of course she knew. But she wasn’t about to stop. She grinned as she sent the picture.
Carrigan put the phone back to her ear in time to hear his sharp inhale. “Your turn.” She held her breath, waiting to see if he’d actually do it. Receiving pictures was one thing. Putting them out in the world was entirely another. Really, she shouldn’t have taken the risk in the first place. There was no telling what he would do with them—they might show up on the Internet. Then who would want to marry her?
Funny, but the idea of countless men checking out her rack didn’t bother her nearly as much if it meant she dodged the marriage bullet. The shame on her family might be enough that her father would send her away permanently. She’d like to spend some time in New York or LA or even New Orleans. Maybe Rome or Paris or Tokyo. The world was so damn big and she’d only seen a little slice of it.
Her phone beeped, pulling her out of her thoughts. She glanced at the picture he’d sent and started to shake. Oh my God. James was shirtless, wearing only those goddamn jeans she couldn’t seem to get enough of. And they were unbuttoned—a clear invitation if she ever saw one. An invitation she desperately wanted to accept. “Damn, James. Somebody taught you how to selfie.”
“Maybe I’m a natural.” His voice was little more than a growl. “You started this, lovely. Tell me what’s next.”
The strange mix of command and handing her the reins got her head back in the game. She walked over to her bed and climbed onto it, trying to ignore the trembling in her legs. She could be in charge. She wanted to be. “I’m lying on my bed.”
“What color are the sheets?”
The question seemed to carry far more import than it should. “White.”
“They don’t suit you. Red is your color. Go on.” He sounded so damn imperial, as if he actually knew her. He didn’t. No one did, really. She wore so many masks, sometimes she worried she’d forget the woman at the center of them all.
But this time he was right. She would have chosen red for herself.
Carrigan put the thought away and focused on the now. “You talk too much.”
“My mistake.” He didn’t sound the least bit sorry. Good. She wasn’t, either. “How do you want it, lovely? Rough, I’d bet. You’re not fucking breakable, and I think you love to be reminded of that fact.” Something rustled on his end of the line. “Close your eyes.”
She obeyed without thinking, and then instantly snapped them open. “I thought I was in charge.”
“You let me know if I get something wrong.” His laugh told her how unlikely he found the possibility.

The Wedding Pact (The O'Malleys, #2)The Wedding Pact by Katee Robert
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review posted just prior to blog tour.The Wedding Pact is the second book in a seriously intense family crime family saga which I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for review. One good thing I can say is despite the fact that I had not had a chance to read the first book I could jump right in and catch up without feeling lost. Of course the references to the previous book make the reader want to run and grab the first book and get a first row seat into what happened to Calligan’s brother, Devlin, who by all accounts was an amazing person. But, his character and the love his family had for him comes through really clearly even in The Wedding Pact which is for the most part Calligan and James’ story though the reader gets pretty large glimpses into other family members’ lives like Cillian and Ricky.
Carrigan has been stalling as best as she could to keep her father from arranging a marriage for her with one of his allies. Dimitri looks to be a contender, but, Carrigan can see right away several issues with choosing him, though he seems to be the one that will give her the most freedom. The biggest issue she has with him is the look in his eyes which tells her that she will have to contend with a very violent man, possibly literally. But, as she “interviews” and “negotiates” to try and choose the least of all of the evils in the list her father has given her to choose from, she also gets closer to James Halloran, her family’s biggest enemy. Their other enemy, the Sheridans, have become an ally through an arranged marriage, which unfortunately is not an option for the Southie crime family, the Halloran’s.
The Wedding Pact tells the story of how Carrigan goes through the motions of trying to find some semblance of freedom despite being the daughter of a crime boss. She has tried everything to considering becoming a nun to flat out saying no, to no avail. Her father considers his children pawns to be moved around on a chessboard and he seems to really have no love for any of them, or at least he displays no love for them. The jury seems to be out on her mother and one or two brothers. The Sheridans seem like a tight clan that loves and supports each other and really there are no words for how the Hallorans treat each other or even feel about each other. If there isn’t a bunch of people designed to implode then the Hallorans are a perfect example of why sometimes family can be just as big of an enemy as a true foe. These three families have legitimate and illegal businesses and James is doing his best to move his family businesses into areas where he can do business and still live with himself. We see that the children in each of these families want to be free to live life outside of their crime families, but, they all understand that doing so puts them in jeopardy in more ways than they can even conceive of when considering just walking away. Gangster stories, mob books and crime family stories are typically not my normal areas of interest for reading, but, the individual lives the reader is introduced to in this series makes it hard not to at least take a peek because there is a ton of action, family politics in addition to the romance, even when sometimes cringing with how family members treat each other. This is definitely a series to dig into.

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Monday, April 11, 2016

Love & GelatoLove & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Love and Gelato will go down in my memory as one of those stories that I will read again just when I do not remember all of the details so I can visit Italy again. I received a copy through Edelweiss. I cannot help but be attracted to a book with this title. The cover is unassuming but appropriate. I kept thinking what does it have to do with gelato? Of course, if you have ever tasted gelato it is easy to think of ways to wax poetic about it write songs about it, or even write books about it. Eating gelato is not just a treat. It is an experience and the way it was tied into this book worked really well. Love and Gelato is the story of a sixteen year old teenager who goes to Tuscany to live with her father after making a promise to her mom when she was dying. She agrees to at least spend the summer in Tuscany, at least that is what she agrees to in her own mind. Her Grandmother is not prepared to take her. She has had a great time living with her best friend’s family and plans to return there as soon as possible.
When she gets to Tuscany she is heavily mourning her mom and in shock from meeting a man that has never bothered to get to know her during her 16 years of life. Why did her mother never mention this man before she was dying? She was not even aware of her mom’s time in Italy, even though it played such a large part in her life. Lina is a smart, athletic, pretty teenager who appears to do a good job of making friends despite all that she is dealing with since her mom died. One of the things Love and Gelato handles really well is the loss of a parent, specifically loss of a parent when still a child. The experience is different for everyone, but it has specific difficulties when that parent is the only parent the child has known. In addition to loss of a parent, Lina is living through the loss of her home and, in a sense, loss of or leaving her friends and school behind. Another great thing this book handles well is making new friends in a strange place. What can be as strange as an entirely new country where you don’t even speak the language? One of the best scenes in the book was when Lina first meets Ren and he tells her about the people at the international school that have been waiting months to meet her because her dad had already contacted the school and talked to them about enrolling her. The school is small enough that all of the students are made aware and they look forward to it. Her new friend Marco has the best response and I won’t spoil it for other readers, but, you will know it when you see it. Finally, Love and Gelato does a great job with discussing single parents and the tribulations that children go through when having to explain to people they just met that they were not only raised in a single parent home, but, also lost that only parent. Love and Gelato does bring out some extreme emotions from the reader but they only draw the reader into the story more. This was a great read and I look forward to seeing more from this author and to reading it again.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Marry Your BillionaireMarry Your Billionaire by C.J. Anaya
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Marry Your Billionaire is what is thought of as a modern day Cinderella. I received a free copy in exchange for review from eBooks for Review via Inspired Kathy. It is the story of Midge Knightly, the only daughter of a famous television producer in California and a former actress. Midge spent her childhood following in her father's footsteps until she realized being in the limelight and in the world where famous people have no privacy and live their lives for the public to dissect. When she became an adult she decides to carve out her on niche and become an author, much to her father's dismay.

Midge meets Brody by chance in a cafe. Brody owns a very successful dating agency but has an image problem which leads him to agree to sign on as a rich bachelor on a reality show designed to find him a wife. It turns out that the reality show is her father's next big hit and he happens to now be short one contestant, which he plans to have Midge fill in for in exchange for receiving her trust fund back. Brody has already decided that he is interested in Midge and knowing that she will be a contestant on the show he decides to use the situation to his advantage and everything that could go wrong goes wrong. From jealous, backstabbing contestants to miscommunications it seems that Brodie and Midge just will not find their way to each other.

Midge is a forward, outspoken, intelligent woman who is very weary of meeting new people because in the past they all seemed to want to use her to get to her father. She has a hard time trusting and is willing to go it alone to forego the disappointment of yet another man being interested in her just to get to her father. Brody has been spending time with the wrong women and can't seem to trust that women are interested in just him and not his money. Their verbal sparring is fun to read, but, the miscommunications are enough to make the reader want to pull out a couple of handfuls of hair. But, it is a great, fun story with interesting characters.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Secret Child, Royal Scandal (The Sherdana Royals #3)Secret Child, Royal Scandal by Cat Schield
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Secret Child Royal Scandal was a good read that I received from NetGalley in exchange for review. It is the story of Noelle and Prince Christian whom Noelle has loved for many years, despite them being apart for 5 years. Noelle has spent the previous 5 years in Paris, France training under a top clothing designer. While she is gone she has had Christian's son who is now 4 years old. Noelle has moved back to Sherdana to help her mom who also helps with her son Mark's care while Noelle works in her own dress shop. Christian was not ready to be with Noelle when they were together before but, he misses her and hopes to rekindle their friendship without knowing about Mark. Interestingly enough Christian is under pressure from his family to marry and produce an heir because his brother, the next in line for the throne, will not be able to produce an heir with his wife and his other brother married an American making his children ineligible for the throne. When Christian learns about Mark he sees a clear way to meeting his family obligations but, after the pain he has caused Noelle she is not willing to marry him which is what is required for Mark to be eligible to inherit the throne.

I have to admit that I had to put this book down for several days because I found Christian to be annoying and appeared to have a ridiculous notion that he could just step back in Noelle's life after how things were left between them. After a break, I was willing to give Christian another chance and it turns out he was a better person than I originally thought and managed to redeem himself in my eyes. Noelle and Christian's story turned out to be a pretty good one and I liked Noelle very much for continuing to be a strong person and a wonderful mother who deserved to get the guy and luckily for him he deserved to get the girl.
ase date.

Shadows in Death by J.D. Robb My rating: 5 of 5 stars Is it possible for an author to be 51 books into a series and still have those book...