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Review: When Sparks Fly by Helena Hunting

When Sparks FlyWhen Sparks Fly by Helena Hunting
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Title: When Sparks Fly
Author: Helena Hunting
Series: n/a
Pages: 320
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Date: September 21, 2021

Summary:

Running the Spark House, a hotel/event space that has been in her family for years, has been Avery Spark’s lifelong dream. After years of working hard and making personal sacrifices, Avery and her two younger sisters have turned the Spark House into the premier destination in Colorado Springs. Avery is living her best life—she works with her sisters and loves every minute of it, she has a great group of friends, and she lives in a fantastic condo with her best friend Declan. She might not have any love in her life, but she’s happy.

But everything comes to a screeching halt when Avery is in a car accident, leaving her immobile for weeks. After nearly losing Avery, Declan insists that he will be the one to take care of her while she recovers. However, as Declan becomes Avery’s caretaker, lines begin to blur.

Avery and Declan have been best friends since college and always had an attraction to one another, but when she ended up dating his best friend, Sam, they successfully stamped down any feelings they may have ever had for one another. Now, as Declan and Avery spend more time together, they each begin to wonder what would’ve happened if she’d dated him instead of Sam. What starts as a friend helping out another friend turns into foreplay and, before they realize it, they recognize how deeply they care for one another. But when things get serious their past threatens to destroy everything they have built.

Review:

I have mixed feelings about this book. I only gave it three stars, but I think it’s because I’m the wrong audience for this book. First of all, though, I want to say what I liked about it.

From the description, it’s obvious it’s a friends to lovers book. I like Avery, Declan – not so much, but I love Avery’s sisters. I’m looking forward to their books even though I was not thrilled with this one. That’s it. That’s what I liked – Avery’s sisters.

The book is written in first person, alternating between Avery and Declan. That way, the reader gets a lot of information that would be hidden if it used a third person narrator. And that brings me to one of the two things I really didn’t like about it. I don’t like first person and I really don’t like alternating viewpoints. As I implied earlier, it’s a personal taste issue.

However, my real issue with the book is Declan is an immature jerk. He’s thirty-years-old, but acts more like he’s still in college. He makes stupid decisions that hurt other people. He regrets them and accepts his responsibility, but still!!!

Finally, in parts of the book, the dialogue is overblown. Declan and Avery talk to each other like they are sitting in a counselor’s office. No one talks like that in real life.

So yes, three stars, but I will read the sequels. As I said, I want the sisters’ stories.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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A Good Day for Chardonnay (Sunshine Vicram, #2) by Darynda Jones

A Good Day for Chardonnay (Sunshine Vicram, #2)A Good Day for Chardonnay by Darynda Jones
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Title: A Good Day for Chardonnay
Author: Darynda Jones
Series: Sunshine Vicram, #2
Pages: 416
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Date: July 27, 2021

Summary:

Running a small-town police force in the mountains of New Mexico should be a smooth, carefree kind of job. Sadly, full-time Sheriff–and even fuller-time coffee guzzler–Sunshine Vicram, didn’t get that memo.

All Sunshine really wants is one easy-going day. You know, the kind that starts with coffee and a donut (or three) and ends with take-out pizza and a glass of chardonnay (or seven). Turns out, that’s about as easy as switching to decaf. (What kind of people do that? And who hurt them?)

Before she can say iced mocha latte, Sunny’s got a bar fight gone bad, a teenage daughter hunting a serial killer and, oh yes, the still unresolved mystery of her own abduction years prior. All evidence points to a local distiller, a dangerous bad boy named Levi Ravinder, but Sun knows he’s not the villain of her story. Still, perhaps beneath it all, he possesses the keys to her disappearance. At the very least, beneath it all, he possesses a serious set of abs. She’s seen it. Once. Accidentally.

Between policing a town her hunky chief deputy calls four cents short of a nickel, that pesky crush she has on Levi which seems to grow exponentially every day, and an irascible raccoon that just doesn’t know when to quit, Sunny’s life is about to rocket to a whole new level of crazy.

Yep, definitely a good day for chardonnay.

Review:

Read the first book! Do not read this book without reading the first book! Believe me. Take my word for it. READ THE FIRST BOOK!

Oh, yes, the first book? The title is A Bad Day for Sunshine. It leads right into book two: A Good Day for Chardonnay. I can guarantee that you will have no clue what is going on if you do not read the first book.

Are we all clear now? You do understand you have to read the first book first, right?

Now that that is out of the way.

I never thought Darynda Jones could top her Charley Davidson series, but she has definitely done it with the Sunshine books. These books are straight contemporary with a mystery and (will you get on with it?) a romance. Actually, they don’t have a mystery, they have multiple mysteries.

Who abducted Sunshine when she was a teenager?

Who is the father of her daughter?

Who is her Chief Deputy in love with?

Has Randy (the raccoon) been officially deputized?

And a new mystery involving one of Levi’s uncles . . . is he in prison unjustly?

And the thing about Darynda Jones, she can make you feel any of these mysteries are just as important as another.

This book does clear up some of the mysteries, but it definitely introduces more mysteries and problems. The plot is wonderful, but my favorite parts are the one liners.

For example, there is one scene where Sunshine has to climb a ridge. She thinks to herself that she needs more cardio and less Oreo. That could be me talking. No, I mean really. That could be me.

And of course, my absolute favorite parts of the books are her chapter headings. I’ll leave you with my favorite one.

“Donate blood today! Please note: it must be your own blood.”

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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Blogger Shame Review Challenge

Blogger Shame 2016
This challenge is being hosted by Anna @ Herding Cats & Burning Soup. This is for all those review copies that you received but haven’t reviewed yet! There are no set levels, so you choose your own. I am aiming for:
Twelve books from my NetGalley shelf.

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White Tiger (Shifters Unbound, #8) by Jennifer Ashley

White Tiger (Shifters Unbound, #8)White Tiger by Jennifer Ashley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Title: White Tiger
Author: Jennifer Ashley
Series: Shifters Unbound, #8
Pages: 336
Publisher: Berkley
Date: April 6, 2016

Summary:

A woman is lured into the shadows of a dangerous manhunt…
Wanted and on the run…

For twenty years, Kendrick, a white tiger Shifter, has been the Guardian of un-Collared Shifters who spend their lives living in secret—and in fear of being shunted into Shiftertowns. When Kendrick’s group is discovered and forced to flee, Kendrick is more desperate than ever to protect them

His only salvation was in a beautiful stranger.

In a diner in the middle of nowhere, lonely waitress Addison Price has seen a lot of unusual drifters come and go, but none has ever captivated—and intimidated—her like the imposing fugitive who wields a broadsword with incredible skill. But when he risks all to protect her, Addison’s fear turns to empathy—and empathy to desire as she learns more about her savior. Soon she’s more than willing to help the crushingly sensual white tiger and his cubs in a passionate bid for freedom. Whatever the cost.

Review:

I had waiting anxiously for this book ever since the first chapter was included at the end of Bad Wolf (#7.5) back in July. Talk about leaving a reader hanging and White Tiger is not due out until April. Therefore, I was thrilled to get an early reviewer’s copy a couple of weeks ago.

It was worth the wait.

The intense, exciting beginning just set the stage for the relationship that was already developing between Addison and Kendrick. But this book was not just about fighting the bad guys. It was more about protecting family, which may or may not have anything to do with blood. It was about trying to do what you think is the right thing, even if it means giving up what you really want.

And, it’s about finding out you can do the right thing and still get what you really, really want.
It’s about love and family and pack and, let’s not forget sex. After all, this is a Shifters Unbound book and the sex is always hot.

I think this may be my favorite Shifters Unbound book and I have enjoyed them all.

Now, how long until I can get my hands on the next one?

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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Scandal Never Sleeps (The Perfect Gentlemen, #1) by Shayla Black and Lexi Blake

Scandal Never Sleeps (The Perfect Gentlemen, #1)Scandal Never Sleeps by Shayla Black

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Title: Scandal Never Sleeps
Author: Shayla Black and Lexi Blake
Series: The Perfect Gentlemen, #1
Pages: 400
Publisher: Berkley
Date: August 18, 2015

Summary:

They are the Perfect Gentlemen of Creighton Academy: privileged, wealthy, powerful friends with a wild side. But a deadly scandal is about to tear down their seemingly ideal lives . . .

Maddox Crawford’s sudden death sends Gabriel Bond reeling. Not only is he burying his best friend, he’s cleaning up Mad’s messes, including his troubled company. Grieving and restless, Gabe escapes his worries in the arms of a beautiful stranger. But his mind-blowing one-night stand is about to come back to haunt him . . .

Mad groomed Everly Parker to be a rising star in the executive world. Now that he’s gone, she’s sure her job will be the next thing she mourns, especially after she ends up accidentally sleeping with her new boss. If only their night together hadn’t been so incendiary—or Gabe like a fantasy come true . . .

As Gabe and Everly struggle to control the heated tension between them, they discover evidence that Mad’s death was no accident. Now they must bank their smoldering passions to hunt down a murderer—because Mad had secrets that someone was willing to kill for, and Gabe or Everly could be the next target . . .

Review:

I only gave this book three stars not because it is an average book, but because it is the first book in the series . . . and that is not fair.

We are introduced to six major characters in the prologue. We are introduced to six different personalities. We are given hints of how these six different characters will mature (or not, as the case may be.)

And that is a lot to absorb in a matter of a few pages.

I felt like I should be taking notes on who everyone was and their personality traits. I keep harping on their personalities because they are a diverse group of best friends/brothers.

Unfortunately, I never got past that state of confusion.

The story itself is excellent. Everly is a wonderful girl who gets in over her head with Gabe. Gabe is not a bad person, but he has always been entitled and his attitude reflects this. However, in Everly, he has met the one person who means more to him than even his friends. His problem is convincing Everly of that.

There is a strong, overarching storyline (Maddox’ death) . . . and that was another problem for me. I expected this plotline to be resolved. Instead, I was only given clues about the next book. The relationship between Gabe and Everly is settled and firmly on the way to a HEA. However, the reason Maddox is killed is not explained.

I don’t like cliffhangers, in fact, I hate them. I would not have read this book if I realized there was going to be one. What I would have done is wait for the series to be complete and then read them all at once.

Book two, Seduction in Session, is due out in January 2016. And yes, I will buy it as well as the others. I just hope the ending of this one is more settled.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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Siren’s Call (Rainshadow, #4; Harmony, #12) by Jayne Castle

Siren's Call (Rainshadow, #4; Harmony, #12)Siren’s Call by Jayne Castle

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Title: Siren’s Call
Author: Jayne Castle aka Jayne Ann Krentz
Series: Rainshadow, #4; Harmony, #12
Pages: 336
Publisher: Jove
Date: July 28, 2015

Summary:

In the mysterious world of Harmony, there are places filled with unexplored marvels. But Rainshadow Island isn’t about to give up its secrets…

In the alien catacombs of Rainshadow, there are creatures whose compelling songs lure the unwary to their death. That’s why Rafe Coppersmith, hired to clear out the catacombs for exploration, needs a music talent. He’s knows the perfect one, but she probably doesn’t want anything do with him…

Ella Morgan had once fallen hard and fast for Rafe, but then he disappeared for months…and he’s not about to tell her why. Ella, too, has secrets that only her dust bunny knows. She’s not just a music talent, she’s a Siren: a paranormal singer capable of singing men to sleep—or to their deaths.

But once on Rainshadow, Rafe and Ella will learn that surrendering to passion doesn’t come without risks—and fighting fire with fire only adds to the flame…

Review:

Goodreads calls this series Rainshadow. It is also part of the Harmony series. None of that matters. Those of us who read and love this series KNOW that they are all actually “the dust bunny books.”

Early in this series, the author introduced a companion animal, not a pet, called a dust bunny. They have stolen the show for me in all of the books. Yes, I love the human characters, their talents, and the romance that evolves between them. But the books just wouldn’t be the same without the dust bunnies.

In Siren’s Call, Ella has a talent we haven’t seen before. She has an affinity for music . . . especially alien music and she can use it to disable and even kill. There are fairy tales about Sirens, but everyone knows they don’t really exist. For Ella’s sake, everyone has to keep believing that.

Rafe has suffered a major psyburn and believes he is going insane. His talent is gone and although he wants Ella, he knows he has nothing to offer her. It’s only a matter of time until he is committed to a mental hospital or dead.

However, Rafe is a Coppersmith and his family’s corporation needs a strong music talent to protect people from the dinosaurs in Wonderland. Yes, I said dinosaurs AND Wonderland.

Doesn’t it sound great?

I had my suspicions about the identity of the bad guy, but not until the very end. It’s always a good thing when I can be surprised.

This book could easily be read as a standalone, but there is so much backstory I recommend the entire series starting with Bridal Jitters. This first book in the series does not have a dust bunny, but it is wonderful anyway. If you really get hooked, there are additional books that take place in our past and during contemporary times which interconnect with the dust bunny books. I recommend them all.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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Review: Lover Revealed

Lover Revealed
Lover Revealed by J.R. Ward
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I think this is my favorite of the series so far. Although I wanted to slap Marissa sometimes, things worked out the way they should. Butch so deserves his happy ending.

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The Wedding Affair by Leigh Michaels

The Wedding AffairThe Wedding Affair by Leigh Michaels
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Leigh Michaels is a new author to me although she has published over eighty books. I don’t know how I have missed her all this time. After reading The Wedding Affair, I will certainly be looking into her backlist.This book actually focuses on three separate romances. I originally thought they would be treated as separate stories in an anthology. However, there is a single storyline with the three relationships interwoven together.

The first couple introduced, and to me the primary one, are Lady Olivia Reyne and Simon, the Duke of Somervale. Olivia is a widow with a young daughter. Her husband left her pretty much penniless and her landlord is trying to coerce her into becoming his mistress.

The wedding in the title refers to Simon’s younger sister’s marriage. Their mother has invited numerous eligible young ladies in hopes of finding a bride for Simon as well. Simon makes an arrangement with Olivia to act as his potential bride in order to ward off the debutantes. This arrangement also includes acting as his mistress.

Olivia’s friend and houseguest, Kate Blakely, is the daughter of the late village vicar. The duchess asks her to help with chaperoning and entertaining the young ladies at the manor house. To help distract the ladies, Simon has asked a number of his male friends to join the party. One of these friends, Andrew Carlisle, just happens to be the young man who Kate fell in love with at seventeen. Unfortunately, Andrew does not have a family income either and Kate knows she must support herself.

The final couple are Charles and Penelope, the Earl and Countess of Townsend. Although they have been married for three months, the marriage has never been consummated. Penelope’s father is a commoner who owns a series of breweries and ale houses. He is very wealthy and arranged a marriage with the Earl in order to buy a title for his daughter and future grandchildren. The Earl is determined to thwart his plans by never fathering any children.

Within the first chapter, this book had me hooked and I ended up reading it in just one day. The sex scenes are not numerous, but they are very will handled. While explicit, the scenes are very vanilla. Each couple is true to each other and there are no indications of any infidelity.

All in all, this is an excellent book. The author does a wonderful job of weaving the stories together while maintaining the separate romances. I felt like I was reading three books in one. It was an outstanding introduction to a wonderful author.

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