Review: Harder by Robin York

I didn’t review Deeper, the first in this new adult series by Robin York, also known as Ruthie Knox. I just read it because I really really wanted to and because I love the author and because I needed something else from new adult. And I’m glad I did, because Deeper changed my life.

Hyperbole! Which I’m sure is what the author thought when I told her this in person. But it’s not quite. Because it saved the genre for me after I’d thrown my lot in with it professionally and then read a ton and then began to lose hope. Deeper combined thoughtful writing with all the sexual tension you could possibly want and the added bonus of intelligent, necessary messages. Necessary because the readers of new adult may be all over the age map, but the intended audience is quite specific. And I think if I’d read these two books at that age, I would have discovered some important things about myself sooner. Reading these books now, I’ve learned there are still some things I need to discover within myself.

Harder picks up a couple of months after Deeper left off. West has left college to go home and watch out for his sister, now that his abusive, drunken father has returned. He’s put emotional and physical distance between him and Caroline in an attempt to get her to accept the fact that he’s not returning, that he never should have been there in the first place, that Silt is where he belongs and where she definitely does not. But one night during summer break, Caroline gets a call from West, and she leaves for Oregon. Continue reading

Review: Suddenly Last Summer by Sarah Morgan

Last summer, Dr. Sean O’Neil and Élise, the French chef at his family’s Vermont resort Snow Crystal, got busy in a meadow. Scratchy. And crazy wild. And not something either of them has dwelled on since. Nope, not at all. No matter how fucktastic the experience was. Because neither of them does relationships.

So Élise is Sean’s dream girl, in that she has no illusions she’ll ever be his. So she’s not the reason he’s been avoiding Snow Crystal and his family, immersing himself in his work as an orthopedic surgeon in Boston. That would be his family, specifically his grandfather Walter, who never lets up on the guilt. Anyone who doesn’t want to spend every moment of their lives in Snow Crystal clearly doesn’t deserve his respect, after all. Family and home is everything to Walter. To Sean, it’s work.

But when Walter has a heart attack, Sean rushes right home to be with his family. And he finds himself coming to Élise’s rescue too. The sexual tension between them is as insane as ever, but Élise’s mission in life is to protect her heart, so she pushes Sean away when he tries to convince her a two-night stand wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

In the meantime, Sean’s dealing with the tension between him and his grandfather. Élise has loads of advice in that regard and has no problem berating Sean about the situation any chance she gets.

Suddenly Last Summer is a follow-up to the hugely popular Sleigh Bells in the Snow. People went nuts over that book. As averse as I am to Christmas stories, I went nuts over it. You don’t have to have read it to get into this one, but I totally recommend doing so. First, because it’s such a great read. Second, because you’ll probably feel a bit more kindly towards Élise if you do. Continue reading

Blog Tour and Review: Rusty Nailed by Alice Clayton

Today’s our stop on the Rusty Nailed blog tour, and we couldn’t be more tickled. For all who fell in love with Simon and Caroline in Wallbanger, this is a happy week. But enough of that crap. More about the book.


In this sequel to Wallbanger, fan favorites Caroline Reynolds and Simon Parker negotiate the rollercoaster of their new relationship while house-sitting in Sausalito.

Playing house was never so much fun, or so confusing. With her boss on an extended honeymoon, Caroline’s working crazy-long hours to keep the interior design company running, especially since she’s also the lead designer for the renovation of a gorgeous old hotel. And with Simon, her hotshot photographer boyfriend, gallivanting all over the world for his job, the couple is heavy-duty into “absence makes the heart grow fonder” mode. No complaints about the great reunion sex, though!

Then a trip back east to his childhood home has Simon questioning his nomadic lifestyle. He decides to be home more. A lot more. And he wants Caroline home more, too. Though their friends romantic lives provide plenty of welcome distraction, eventually Caroline and Simon have to sort out their relationship. Sure, more togetherness is a good thing, but does less traveling and working have to mean the other extreme? Apple pie and picket fences? With this second book in the Cocktail series, USA TODAY bestselling author Alice Clayton delivers another delicious, frothy confection of a book, shaking up her characters, stirring in laugh-out-loud humor, and serving sizzling romance straight up! Continue reading

Review: The Saint by Tiffany Reisz

I’ve read and liked Reisz’s books, for the most part, but I’ve never really loved them. That happily changes with The Saint, and the reason is because it solves two problems that the others didn’t: 1) Not enough Soren; and 2) Too much Nora.

I have to explain that second one. Because this book is all about Nora, so it wouldn’t really make sense at first glance. But in the earlier books, Nora is very “Nora”: she’s fully formed, even though she grows and learns in each book, so even though everyone she meets declares her the most amazing woman they’ve ever met and that they would drop everything to be with her, we just see her as good with words and a whip. We see into her heart, which is always generous and loving, but I’ve never really gotten a sense of the little bit extra that takes her from being kind and smart-mouthed and gorgeous and confident (there are lots of women like that, after all) to one-of-a-kind unforgettable. It can’t just be the orgasms or the riding crop. Although that wouldn’t hurt. Much.

So I’ve admired her, but I’ve never really liked her until now. Continue reading

Review: Clipped Wings, Inked Armor, and Cracks in the Armor by Helena Hunting

This winter I read Clipped Wings with the Bookish Temptations book club and rather enjoyed the tragic, angsty love story of Hayden and Tenley, as well as being able to learn about other readers’ thoughts on the experience and ask the author questions. But if you read it, you’ll have to pick up Inked Armor rather quickly to find out what happens next. (And reading the novella Cupcakes and Ink first is essential.) There were things about this series that drove me crazy, but I cared about how Hayden and Tenley overcame their pasts and worked to be together.

In Clipped Wings, imposing tatted and pierced Hayden enjoys the reaction he gets from timid Tenley, who works for his aunt and lives above her store, which is across the street from his tattoo parlour and condo. He also enjoys the cupcakes she makes and sometimes brings to the parlour. Hayden may look all tough, but he rolls over for cupcakes. Continue reading

How I Learned to Let Go and Love the DNF

I have, this uncharacteristically gorgeous Toronto summer day, decided to embrace the DNF. We had no spring this year, so this is the closest we’ve come to renewal, and I am renewing my stance on that policy. I am taking back my future summer days in favour of good reading.

I was once a staunch supporter of Finishing Everything; in the words of Terry Fallis’s Daniel Addison, in The Best Laid Plans, “For most of my thirty-two years, I had lived with what I called my ‘completion complex.’ I was bound to finish what I started…I couldn’t start a book, hate the opening chapters, and discard it until suffering through all 569 pages of it.” That is me, in a nutshell. Or was.

But here’s another quote that somebody somewhere is bound to have said or written or muttered under their breath: “Life’s too fucking short.” Do I really care more about my NetGalley “health” than the value of my time? Do I really care what the two or so people who read my reviews of rightfully obscure books will do instead of reading those reviews of books I don’t think they should read? Sure, DNF reviews can be a whole lot more fun to read than 5-star ones, and often readers find through reading them that actually, yes, they would like that book, and that all the things I hate appeal to them. Continue reading

Review: Duty Bound by Samantha Chase and Noelle Adams

This is the second military book I’m reviewing in a week. Which is crazy because I’m from Canada, where we really don’t think about this stuff much. It’s there, and naturally we respect and admire the people who serve, but it’s far less prevalent. We are not a military culture. Military romance is normally not on my radar.

In Duty Bound, Levi returns form parts unknown with his buddies, all except one. His best friend Gavin returns in a box, and he feels responsible. Which means, naturally (I guess?), that he feels protective of Gavin’s sister Harper. Harper’s a journalist who’s been making inquiries into her brother’s death and getting some unwanted attention in the form of death threats and slashed tires. Levi is all in her business trying to save her from herself and her enemy. But Harper’s a tough kid, and she doesn’t need her older brothers smarmy friend to be her bodyguard. She just needs answers.

Which is fine, but Levi is so overbearing that I got annoyed with him too. And then even more annoyed by the slap-slap-kiss between the two. Really, she was attracted more than she was pissed off? Nope, not buying it. His chivalry just came across as misplaced and condescending to me. He was constantly interfering behind her back even when he was claiming he was being honest.

So I could’ve loved Harper if she had stood up for herself more against the meddling Levi (don’t give into his sexy moves!), and I could’ve liked Levi if he had been completely different in every way. I like these authors, but I didn’t like this book all that much. But…it wasn’t bad, exactly. I did love the scene where Harper dragged him to every drugstore in town and made him carry giant boxes of tampons and other rather embarrassing purchases because he insisted on tailing her: “I think the hemorrhoid wipes and the sexy lubricant might be counterproductive.” Nice. Didn’t make up for “Of course, there wouldn’t have been much listening — not with her wanting to get the last damn word in,” though. *throws perfectly innocent e-reader*


Reviewed from ARC. Published independently April 10, 2014.