Thursday, July 21, 2016

Review: Going Down Easy


Carly Phillips is back with a new series, Billionaire Bad Boys. The first, Going Down Easy, was pretty much exactly what I expected. Damaged boy meets damaged girl and sparks fly. While it was quite predictable and not the best romance I've read, I was drawn in and am interested to find out what happens to the rest of the billionaire boys.

Here's the synopsis:
Meet Kaden Barnes.
Alpha-licious in the most unexpected ways, Kaden Barnes always gets what he wants.
Enigmatic and exacting, he's unable to keep an assistant for long. Until Lexie Parker arrives. She's no-nonsense, efficient and all business… She’s also hot as sin and soon starring in Kaden's dirtiest fantasies.
When their passion for each other reaches a boiling point, Kaden may think he’s calling the shots, but for this billionaire bad boy, going down easy has never felt so good.
Both Lexie and Kaden are fighting battles with mental illness. One directly, the other indirectly. I appreciated that Phillips didn't shy away from mental health but didn't try to take too much of a stand, if you will. She presented it as a natural thing that many people deal with and worked it fairly seamlessly into the storyline. I say fairly because I kind of got frustrated with Kendall, Lexie's twin sister who hasn't quite figured out how to accept what she needs to change so her mental illness does not take over her life (and therefore the lives of her family members). Kaden has a few issues of his own but I didn't find that Lexie was presented as his savior.

Lexie was a smart, sassy heroine. I was really hoping Kendall would get her act together because I could see how much her mental illness was negatively impacting Lexie's life. Lexie was such a genuinely good person that she couldn't help but drop everything when her twin needed her. How can you not root for a woman like that?

As with most romances, there were instances that were just a bit too coincidental (I couldn't quite understand how Lexie's dad could have pulled strings to have Lexie work for Kaden) but I found I could easily roll with the issues and enjoy the overall story.

Carly Phillips is definitely an author to turn to if you want a smart and sexy romance. Going Down Easy did go down easy (I couldn't help it!) and was a really easy, quick read. The first in the Billionaire Bad Boys series is a great one to toss in your bag for some weekend beach or cottage reading.

Buy Going Down Easy
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About the Author

After a successful fifteen-year career with various New York publishing houses, and over 40 sexy contemporary romance novels published, N.Y. Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Carly Phillips is now an Indie author who writes to her own expectations and that of her readers. She continues the tradition of hot men and strong women and plans to publish many more sizzling stories. Carly lives in Purchase, NY with her family, two nearly adult daughters and two crazy dogs who star on her Facebook Fan Page and website. She’s a writer, a knitter of sorts, a wife, and a mom. In addition, she’s a Twitter and Internet junkie and is always around to interact with her readers. You can find out more about Carly at www.carlyphillips.com.


*A copy of this novel was provided by Rockstar PR in exchange for a review for a blog tour. All opinions are honest and my own.*

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Readalong: Then He Ate My Boy Entrancers


I can't believe we're over halfway through the Georgia Nicolson readalong! I think we're almost at the point where the books will be new to me. Craziness! I mentioned last time that I was feeling more optimistic about the readalong and really remembered why I adored these books when I was a teen. This time, with Then He Ate My Boy Entrancers? Er. Not so much. This was, in Georgia's words, vair vair weird. Or as Jessica of Paper Trail Diary and the mastermind behind the readalong said, Georgia's latest story was full of randomosity.

Here's the synopsis of the sixth book in the Confessions of Georiga Nicolson series:
Let the overseas snogfest begin!
Georgia and Jas are off to Hamburger-a-gogo land! Georgia plans to track down Masimo, the Italian-American dreamboat, but after a long week in America, she only succeeds in learning importantish things -- like how to ride a bucking bronco. Will Georgia reel in the Italian dreamboat? Or is she destined to live forever all aloney on her owney?
The biggest plot point in this book was Georgia and her family, accompanied by Georgia's best friend Jas, traveling to America. Georgia was thrilled about this (so thrilled, in fact, that when she learned they would be going to Hamburger-a-gogo land at the end of the last book, she hugged her father) because her latest crush, Masimo the Luuurve God, was visiting family in the US. Of course she can't track him down in Manhattan from Memphis so she has to actually take part in her family vacation. There are glimpses of a loving, family and friend oriented Georgia in the beginning and she does end up having a good time on vacation.

But this is where the randomosity and vair vair weird comes in. I present you with Exhibit A:
As the olds went off to get last-minute pressies and Libby went to get something for the kitties, me and Jas made our small but meaningful tribute to our visit to Hamburger-a-gogo land. The only good thing about the nightmare trip to Gaylords was that we got to buy some souvenir bison horn hats. We were able to wear them for our farewell nuddy-pants photo session in the hotel room.
Um. What the what? I actually don't even have words for this.

There were also far too many gay/lesbian slurs in this book. Dave the Laugh implies, on several occasions, that Masimo is gay. And at another point Libby, Georgia's younger sister, is having two of her dolls kiss and if it wasn't for the fact that it was actually one male doll dressed up like a woman, it would be "lezzie snogging" and Georgia blames her parents "because of their lack of moral code." Really? This is really what teen books were like in the early 2000s? Reading that now is incredibly appalling.

I think I've just realized a big problem I have with this series. Georgia is so completely boy obsessed that she doesn't care about anything else. Not school, not (really) her family, not even really her friends. She needs everything to be about her and her thoughts are consumed with boys (and makeup and shoes and hair and clothes). I wasn't really that kind of teenager. Sure, I thought boys were cute and I wanted to wear what everyone else was wearing, but I still realized that there were things more important than snogging my latest crush. Of course, reading it now, at 29, is much more difficult because I want to shake Georgia and tell her she's being a little idiot. She'd likely just roll her eyes and lump my advice in with that of The Olds (her parents and their friends). But really. I sometimes have a hard time feeling sorry for and reading about a teenager who is so obsessed with finding out where her new crush is staying that she can't be bothered to learn how big the United States is.

Though I had about a gazillion problems with this book, I did find myself giggling at certain exchanges. How about this foreshadowing:
[Mum] said, "I'm really looking forward to this trip, aren't you? I wonder if we will bump into George Clooney. I hope we do! He's so...woof woof."
I said, "Mum, excuse me if I am right, but did you just bark like a dog?"
She laughed, "Well, you know, he's gorgeous, isn't he? And he might really like English women."
There was also this random exchange between Georgia and her father after he came home after drinking a few beers and decided that the family was actually Irish, not English:
I said, "Dad, when you say 'villainous English,' do you mean us?"
But he wouldn't be stopped. "They changed the name to Nicolson."
I said, "What, that grand old English name? NOT. Why would they change their name from an Irish one to a Scottish one? The English, ie, us, hated the Och Aye landers just as much as the Leprechaun-a-gogo folk. More. That is why we built Hadrian's wall at the top of England...to keep the ginger-beardy folk out."
Dad was still rambling on like Paddy O'Mad. "And another thing, we look Irish. That man in Memphis spotted it. ..."
"No, he didn't, Dad. He was an American - he doesn't know where anyone comes from unless it's Texas."
I also really enjoyed how none of the Americans they met could place their accent. It's a bit true of Canadians too...I have a hard time figuring out where people are from right away. I'd have to really listen hard before I could determine if they were English, Irish, or Australian. (Though I really couldn't tell the difference between Australians and New Zealanders...sorry. I know it's the exact same as people not being able to tell us Canadians from Americans.)

The rest of the book after their vacation was a rambling mess of chasing after boys and buying shoes that were three sizes too small and having to have the doctor come to cut them off her feet (I couldn't believe how stupid she was). I think I'm going to kind of pretend Then He Ate My Boy Entrancers didn't happen because it was just so utterly bizarre. Right to the end when Gordy the kitty was eating one of Georgia's fake eyelashes aka boy entrancers.

Here's hoping the next book, Startled by His Furry Shorts isn't quite so full of randomosity! We'll be reading that one for July 26.

Review of book two, On the Bright Side, I'm Now the Girlfriend of a Sex God.
Review of book three, Knocked Out by My Nunga-Nungas.
Review of book four: Dancing in My Nuddy-Pants
Review of book five: Away Laughing on a Fast Camel

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Readalong: Away Laughing on a Fast Camel


I can't believe we're already on the fifth book of the Georgia Nicholson Readalong! (More on Paper Trail Diary's idea here.) I had been feeling a bit blah about the series for the last couple of books - mostly getting more annoyed with Georgia's immaturity and wondering if anything was actually going to happen in the books. Happily, I found myself getting back into the groove with Away Laughing on a a Fast Camel. Sure there are still many issues but I had more fun reading this one than I had with the last couple.

Here's the synopsis:
The Sex God has left the country, taking Georgia's heart with him. So she decides to display glaciosity to all boys -- a girl can only have her heart broken so many times.
Until she meets Masimo, the new singer for the Stiff Dylans. The Sex God is gone, but here comes the Dreamboat, and Georgia's away laughing on a fast camel (whatever that means).
I remember always liking Dave the Laugh when I first read the books but I'm not liking him as much as I used to. I know I'm older now so that has a lot to do with it, but it's still frustrating to read about a boy telling a girl he clearly likes that his Cosmic Horn (basically: liking and wanting to snog many individuals instead of dating and snogging just one person) is due to his teenage boy hormones. I mean, he's not lying, but he just keeps falling back on the "I'm a teenager! I'm full of hormones! My need to date and make out with everyone is not my fault!" and it gets a bit tiresome. I do, however, appreciate that he realizes Mark (who Georgia dated briefly back in book one) was way off base when he tried to shame Georgia and called her a tease for not wanting to have sex with him when all they were doing was kissing.

Actually, this is a moment I want to explore more. To set the scene a little bit: Georgia had run into Mark and he told her to meet him later that evening. She goes even though she doesn't have any particular feelings for him. They end up kissing and then Mark sticks his hand down Georgia's shirt:
[I]t gave me such a shock that I jumped back and Mark was left off balance; he stumbled into the bushes. He came out a minute later covered in twigs. He didn't look pleased.
He said, "What did you do that for?"
I said, "Well. Er, it was all a bit...I don't know that I want you to..."
He lit a fag and said, "What did you come here for...a chat?"
I said, "Well...I..."
What did I come here for? Very good question. Excellent point, well made. Boredom mostly, I suppose. I didn't think I should say that. Mark seemed really angry. He said, 'Do you go all the way or not?'
I said, "Well, no I..."
Mark started walking off. "Girls like you make me sick."
And he was gone. I was left at the top the hill alone. What had I done now? I felt really weird. And lonely.
I'm glad Rennison included a scene like this in the book because it's something that happens in real life. What I don't love is that Georgia doesn't get to have a moment where she realizes that it's not her fault. She didn't do anything, even though she thinks she has. Mark's anger is never discussed and the whole problem is dealt with by Dave beating Mark up. Maybe I'm expecting too much of a YA book but I just feel that the whole situation could have been dealt with better. Which brings me to another issue that's tied into this one...

Georgia is starting to worry that she's doing something to lead on boys (again: she's not. She just apparently attracts idiots. But who doesn't when they're in high school?). It doesn't help that Jas, Georgia's very best friend, continues to have troubling views on this matter. She kinda sorta slut shames Georgia and it drives me bananas. Kissing lots of boys is not a problem and I hate that Georgia's friend is making it seem like it is. (OK, I might be projecting a bit because I definitely kissed a lot of boys in high school and I know some of my friends thought negatively of me. This may be the only thing from high school I have yet to let go of...11 years after graduation...lol.) Anyway. I don't like to see girls judging other girls like this, especially not when they're supposed to be best friends.

I found myself giggling a lot more in this book than I had with the last couple. I don't have any specific examples, since I was read a lot of this book at the gym (it's hard to take pics of good lines when you're doing cardio, let me tell you). Georgia continues to come up with the most outlandish ideas (like spying on The Stiff Dylans and their new singer during their rehearsal and having to tuck her skirt into her knickers when she climbs a box to look into the venue) and has tons of cringeworthy moments (note to self: never reapply eyelash glue while out at a concert otherwise you might end up sticking your eyelashes together).

Overall, I definitely had fun reading Away Laughing on a Fast Camel and am feeling excited about this readalong again. Yay! Coming up next is Then He Ate My Boy Entrancers. We'll be chatting about book five on July 5...and hopefully reminding myself that the "he" who ate the boy entrancers (fake eyelashes, as we learned in book four), was Georgia's cat Angus or kitten Gordy and not any human he.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Review: One True Loves


I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of Taylor Jenkins Reid's newest book, One True Loves, a few months back. I had put off reading it because I knew it was going to be great and I knew I'd be sad once it was over. Finally the perfect reading moment presented itself: the afternoon of my birthday a couple of weeks ago. I read the book in essentially one sitting and I absolutely adored it. Jenkins Reid has written another stunning novel.

Here's the synopsis of One True Loves
In her twenties, Emma Blair marries her high school sweetheart, Jesse. They build a life for themselves, far away from the expectations of their parents and the people of their hometown in Massachusetts. They travel the world together, living life to the fullest and seizing every opportunity for adventure.
On their first wedding anniversary, Jesse is on a helicopter over the Pacific when it goes missing. Just like that, Jesse is gone forever.
Emma quits her job and moves home in an effort to put her life back together. Years later, now in her thirties, Emma runs into an old friend, Sam, and finds herself falling in love again. When Emma and Sam get engaged, it feels like Emma’s second chance at happiness.
That is, until Jesse is found. He’s alive, and he’s been trying all these years to come home to her. With a husband and a fianc√©, Emma has to now figure out who she is and what she wants, while trying to protect the ones she loves.
Who is her one true love? What does it mean to love truly?
Emma knows she has to listen to her heart. She’s just not sure what it’s saying.
Jenkins Reid always (well, I say always even though I still haven't read her first two novels...I even own them...there are zero excuses) writes about some element of marriage and relationships that I feel other authors shy away from. In her latest book, Emma is put in an impossible situation. How on earth do you even begin to figure out where your head and heart are at when your presumed dead husband shows up a few months before your second wedding? How do you deal with having a husband and a fianc√©? I think Emma handles it pretty well. It's messy and pretty much everyone gets hurt...but I think she did the best she could have in that situation. (Vague? Yes. Just read the book.)

I liked how the book was written. Right off the bat you find out that Emma is engaged and then gets a phone call from her husband. Then we go back in time to when Emma was a teen and first meets Jesse. The book moves forward in stages (like, Before: Emma and Jesse, Or how to fall in love and fall to pieces) until you get to a few weeks after the phone call from the start of the novel. I liked that we got the main bombshell right away and then Jenkins Reid pulled back to give context. It drives me bonkers when there's supposed to be a big secret and then it's finally revealed and I'm all, "Yeah. I know. I figured this out 100 pages ago. Move on." (That doesn't always happen of course but there are genres where bombshells work and authors who are better at revealing and concealing. I haven't found many chick lit/contemporary/women's fiction authors who do it well.) 

One True Loves took hold of my heart right away and did not let go...not even after I finished the last page. I was so incredibly invested in Emma's life and I wished I could hop into the book and find a way to ease the pain she, Sam, and Jesse were all feeling. I loved that I felt everything the characters were feeling in this book (and yes, I did find myself tearing up a time or two). I loved the story, I love the cover, I love pretty much everything about this book. I think everyone should read it at some point this summer. Either on the beach or in the backyard or at the cottage. Anywhere. Just read it. 

*An ARC of this novel was provided by the publisher, Simon & Schuster Canada, in exchange for review consideration. All opinions are honest and my own.*

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Readalong: Dancing in My Nuddy-Pants


We're back with another installment in the Georgia Nicolson Readalong! Last time, when reading Knocked Out by My Nunga-Nungas, I found myself getting more and more frustrated with Georgia. I don't know if I was in a better mood or was just able to monitor my annoyance better but I found Dancing in My Nuddy-Pants to be more enjoyable. Learn more about the readalong on The Paper Trail Diary.

Here's the synopsis of the fourth book in the series:
Since Georgia's been dating the yummy scrumboes Sex God, Robbie, her glossy lips are always at the ready, and her "red-bottomosity" is kept under wraps. Along with Naomi the Sex Kitten's new litter (thank you, Angus), Robbie's announcement that his band will be traveling to Hamburger-a-gogo land (Georgia can only hope to go with), and a class trip to France, Georgia is one camper in a state of teenage splendiosity. The small trouble is, Georgia also wonders if Dave the Laugh might still be the guy for her, and when Robbie gives a surprise-ending twist to his travel plans, she gets a "weird feeling of reliefosity" that makes her wonder if she must venture out and bravely use her "red bottom wisely."
As Jess mentions in her review, not a whole heck of a lot happened in this book. Of course, in the mind of a teenager, SO MUCH IS HAPPENING. Her Sex God boyfriend might be going to America with his band but she can't keep her teenager lips off Dave the Laugh. There's also a field trip to France with her class and the good looking male French teacher. But...that's about it. Was it a huge problem? No. Not really. I still blazed through the book in one afternoon and didn't think about the lack of plot or events until well after the fact. (Blazed is appropriate as I was an idiot and read outside with no sunscreen on our holiday Monday...I might be a bit burnt...) 

Georgia plays field hockey for her school and in this book is made team captain. And then, because she acts like the immature 15 year old that she is and irritates the caretaker yet again, she has the captainship taken away. I would have liked Georgia to really think about why she was no longer allowed to be the captain. You can tell when you're reading that she's upset but isn't fully sure why she's upset. Her parents never even find out - I don't know if they even knew she was captain in the first place. But, shortly after she gets sacked from the captain's job, in a fit of rare "maturosity", Georgia and the rest of the ace gang "snitch" on the two mean girls who essentially caused two other girls to get suspended for shoplifting. Clearly there's some correlation between the two events even if Georgia doesn't realize what it is yet.

One of the phrases that stuck in my head when I first read this series made its first appearance in this book:
[Dave] explained that "having the Horn" means fancying people. And it's got various stages. "You can have the Specific Horn, when you fancy one person. Then if it gets worse you get the General Horn, which is when you fancy loads of people. But worst of all is the Cosmic Horn."
He was making me laugh and feel funny at the same time, but I couldn't help asking, "What in the name of Lucifer's bottom is the Cosmic Horn?"
"That's when you fancy everything and everyone in the universe."
Blimey.
My friends and I used Specific, General, and Cosmic Horn all the time when we were teens (it may have been implied I had Cosmic Horn...so what if I had crushes on all sorts of boys? lol). I would love to know how Rennison came up with some of these ideas!

The next book in the series is Away Laughing on a Fast Camel (aka one of my favourite phrases from the series). The review posts will go up on June 14. I can't quite remember what happens next so I'm looking forward to it.

I'm going to leave you with the pic I posted on Instagram on Monday because it was a gorgeous day and I was so happy to finally be reading outside!

Review of book one, Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Release Blitz: Smut


Happy release day to Karina Halle! Her latest novel, Smut, hits e-retailers today and you (and I) need to buy it immediately. I've been reading Halle's books for awhile now, both new releases and some of her backlist, and I've loved all of the ones I've read. As you probably can guess, I'd rather read a contemporary story (rather than a dark, scary one) and it's a bonus when it's got some heat and humour. Needless to say, I was pretty pumped when I learned Halle's next book was going to be a romantic comedy. Smut is out now and you can bet I'm going to be buying it as soon as it goes live!

Here's the synopsis:
What happens when the kink between the pages leads to heat between the sheets?
All Blake Crawford wants is to pass his creative writing course, get his university degree and take over his dad’s ailing family business. What Amanda Newland wants is to graduate at the top of her class, as well as finally finish her novel and prove to her family that writing is a respectful career.
What Blake and Amanda don’t want is to be paired up with each other for their final project but that’s exactly what they both get when they’re forced to collaborate on a writing piece. Since Amanda thinks Blake is a pushy asshole (with a panty-melting smirk and British accent) and Blake thinks Amanda has a stick up her ass (though it’s brilliant ass), they fight tooth and nail until they discover they write well together. They also might find each other really attractive, but that’s neither here nor there.
When their writing project turns out to be a success, the two of them decide to start up a secret partnership together using a pen name, infiltrating the self-publishing market in the lucrative genre of erotica. Naturally, with so much heat and passion between the pages, it’s not long before their dirty words become a dirty reality. Sure, they still fight a lot but at least there’s make-up sex now.
But even as they start to fall hard for each other, will their burgeoning relationship survive if their scandalous secret is exposed or are happily-ever- afters just a work of fiction?
I'm so intrigued by this storyline and hope you are too!

Now hold onto your hats because I have an excerpt for you too. Enjoy!

She holds my gaze for a moment and something passes over her. Regret, maybe. Then she nods. “Sit down. Let’s work.”

And so we do. And for the first time in a long time, it’s strained. I’m about to suggest maybe we need the Estonian vodka anyway when she lets out an exasperated sigh over something she’s reading.

It happens to be something I wrote.

“What?” I ask, wondering what I did wrong.

She gives me the are you kidding me? look. “Okay, I was ignoring it earlier but I think you need to get a grip on some of this shit. This simply does not happen.”

“Explain, please.”

“I just think it’s unrealistic for there to be so much talking, let alone the fact that the first time they do it it’s in a public place.”

“Too much talking?”

“Yeah.” she scans over the document. “You know, give me your cock, oh you feel so good, harder, harder, you’re so big, fuck me harder big boy.”

“Have you even had good sex?” I ask incredulously.

She flinches. “Of course I have. And it’s none of your business.”

“We’re writing about sex. It’s completely my business. I’m not letting you interject your edits based on your personal experiences about sex because believe me, if the sex is good, you’re moaning my name.”

She raises her chin. “Maybe all those girls were faking it.”

Oh, brilliant.

“Excuse me?” I say, hands pressed against the table, nearly getting out of my chair. “You have no idea. I pride myself in giving a girl as many bloody orgasms as she can handle.”

“Bloody orgasms don’t sound like fun,” she jokes softly.

“They can be if you’re into knife play,” I tell her, even though that’s not exactly what I meant. Still, she scrunches up her nose. “Don’t knock it until you try it, but that’s neither here nor there. When you were with Alan, he must have made you come at least a few times.”

If he didn’t, I feel like finding the guy and showing him a thing or two for wasting four years of her life.

“Yeah,” she says flatly.

“And in the middle of that orgasm, didn’t you want to yell a few things?”

“Sometimes.”

“And why didn’t you?”

She looks at her nails as if they’re suddenly fascinating. “It didn’t seem right. It was…too intimate. I would have felt dumb. He didn’t like any of that stuff.”

The plot thickens. “Any of what stuff?”

“Sex that didn’t involve the missionary position or the bed.”

My mouth drops open. My brain and penis can’t compute this. “I feel so sorry for you.”

We must remedy this.

She glares at me. “It’s not like I didn’t want to do it. I did. And he did try it. Most of it. But it always went back to the same old.”

I knew it. She’s a nerd on the streets and a freak in the sheets.

“I don’t mean to brag,” I tell her in all seriousness. “But you do realize that I could give you an orgasm in thirty seconds.”

Her eyes widen. I can’t tell if she’s horrified or intrigued. “I don’t believe you and I don’t want you to try.”

She’s not getting it. I frown, trying to explain. “If you’re having good sex and it’s with someone you’re comfortable with, you won’t worry about holding back. You’ll cry out all the nonsense you want, you’ll make noises like a pig and scream like you’re on fire because you truly can’t have a good orgasm unless you’re letting go on all accounts.” I lean back in my chair and study her, running my fingers along my jaw. “I would venture that every time you came with your ex, you were only experiencing half of what you should have been. How is it with your vibrators?”

I expect her to tell me to fuck off, that I’m getting too personal but to my surprise she gives me a small smile. “It’s better. But I do have a roommate with exceptionally good hearing.” She clears her throat. “Anyway, so I guess I’m wrong. The heroine can make all the noise she wants.”

“And have first time sex in public.”

“I don’t know…”

“Believe me, when you finally get a chance to fuck, you don’t care where it is. That’s why I always have a condom in my pocket. And the more public the sex, the sneakier you have to be, the hotter it is.”

“But in the book you would never get caught.”

“You don’t always get caught in real life too.”

I can see she wants to ask me where I’ve done it but she loses her nerve. “Okay.” She looks back to the document. “I accept defeat.”

But I don’t want her to. I want to prove to her I’m right and not have her take my word.

Is there a non-creepy way to show her just how amazing good sex can feel? I’m thinking not.

Or…maybe there is.

About Karina:
Karina Halle is a former travel writer and music journalist and The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today Bestselling author of The Pact, Racing the Sun, Sins & Needles and over 25 other wild and romantic reads. She lives on an island off the coast of British Columbia with her husband and her rescue pup, where she drinks a lot of wine, hikes a lot of trails and devours a lot of books.
Halle is represented by the Waxman Leavell Agency and is both self-published and published by Simon & Schuster and Hachette in North America and in the UK.
Hit her up on Instagram at @authorHalle, on Twitter at @MetalBlonde and on Facebook. You can also visit www.authorkarinahalle.com and sign up for the newsletter for news, excerpts, previews, private book signing sales and more.

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Monday, May 9, 2016

Blog Tour: Dare to Take


I love a good, steamy, enjoyable romance every once and awhile. Actually, who am I kidding? I enjoy them as often as I can in between some of the other books I have to review. Because I've read two of Carly Phillips' Dare to Love books before, I knew I wanted to read Dare to Take, the latest (and possibly last...but don't quote me on that) in the series. It was exactly what I was looking for and I devoured it in one day.

Here's the synopsis:
A one-night stand.
A secret.
A mistake they tried to forget.
 On leave from the army, Tyler Dare is just looking for a little fun, but his sister's best friend is off limits. Yet unable to deny how sexy and alluring she is, he finds it all too easy to succumb to a night of passion and heat that ends the next morning in the worst way possible.
 There are just some guys you don't touch-- even someone as innocent and inexperienced as Ella Shaw knows that. But when her best friend's brother is up for grabs and willing, she can't resist. After all, she's wanted him for years...
 Now, Ella is stranded on a tropical island with a hurricane bearing down, and only Tyler can save her. It's his chance to make amends for the past and show the woman he's never forgotten that he's coming after her...in more ways than one.
I really liked Ella. She's a smart, strong woman who's fiercely independent and an amazing friend. That independence comes from a less than ideal childhood and is actually one of Ella's flaws. It's hard for her to accept help and accept the fact that some people, like Avery, her best friend, and Tyler, Avery's brother, want to help her and think the world of her. For most of the novel Ella is unable to let her issues go and that causes huge problems with Tyler, who wants nothing more than to make sure Ella is taken care of. The issues Ella had to work through made so much sense based on her past and, even though it was annoying when they created roadblocks in her relationship with Tyler, it was still easy to love her and hope for a picture perfect Happily Ever After.

Ella and Tyler had crazy chemistry and I loved reading and waiting for them to finally get together (again). It wasn't just chemistry between the sheets, either. (Though those scenes were definitely enjoyable.) Once the two started to put aside and work through their issues, you could tell they had a solid foundation for a relationship - which is probably why they both quickly realized that whatever they were doing was more than "just sex". 

The one thing I find awkward about companion series like this one are the sheer number of names and characters tossed around. Because Dare to Take is so late in the series, everyone else is already coupled up and having babies, adding even more names into the mix! There was also this odd character whose full name was mentioned and Ella had one conversation with and we never hear from again. As far as I could tell, the only reason Jillian Novak is brought into the story is because Ella needed someone who wasn't Avery to vent to about Tyler. I did wonder if she was a character in another of Phillips' novels. (A quick Google search returns nothing but it could be the character was named after Jill Shalvis and Brenda Novak - two other romance authors.) I also wasn't a huge fan of how the next series was introduced. It seemed to forced to have Kade show up in the epilogue the way he did. But maybe I'm just being super nitpicky and thinking too much about these things.

Dare to Take wasn't my favourite out of all the Carly Phillips novels I've read. Maybe it's because everything between Ella and Tyler seemed too easy or that the problems that came up were just based on stubbornness and not communicating. I can handle that in some romance novels but something about this one didn't quite work for me. I did enjoy reading it though, I promise. I didn't want to put it down and I think a big part of that is because it's a second chance romance - one of my favourite kinds of romance novel! I don't like to think of this as the final Dare to Love book so I might actually backtrack and start reading some of the earlier ones I missed!

*A copy of this novel was provided by Rockstar PR & Literary Agency for the purpose of a blog tour. All opinions are honest and my own.*