Review: Keeping Secrets by Maggie Dana

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I always have the urge to read a horsey book right before a horse show.  I kept seeing the Timber Ridge Riders series on Amazon, and wanted to check it out, so when I had the chance to do just that, I jumped at it.  I don’t ride hunt seat, so I always find depictions of hunter shows interesting.  The horse care details were spot on, and nothing made me cringe due to inaccuracies.  I’ll tell you what did make me cringe: the behavior of Kate’s rival, Angela.  What a spoiled, selfish girl!  If I was her coach, she would have been booted from my barn.  Her casual treatment of the animals and her teammates had me boiling mad!

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Spotlight and Giveaway–Catching Cameron by Julie Brannagh

Catching Cameron

A Love and Football Novel #3

By: Julie Brannagh

Releasing May 6th, 2014

Blurb

Julie Brannagh’s sexy, charming Love and Football series continues …
Star sports reporter Cameron Ondine has one firm rule: she does not date football players. Ever. She tangled with one years ago, and it did not end well. Been there, done that.

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Review: Sidelined by Kendra C Highley

Sidelined (Entangled Teen)

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

After being pushed to excel her entire life, high school basketball star Genna Pierce is finally where she wants to be. University scouts are taking notice, her team is on its way to the state tourney, and Jake Butler, the hot boy she’s daydreamed about since ninth grade, is showing some definite interest. When he asks her out and their relationship takes off, Genna believes things can’t get better.

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Review: Love and Other Games Anthology

 

Love and Other Games

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

All of these short stories take place during the Olympic Games in Switzerland, and they all feature a legend about a replica of the torch that brings good luck to anyone fortunate enough to find it.  I enjoy stories with sports settings, so I dove right into Love and Other Games.

Trouble with Gold by Melinda Dozier

I had a hard time connecting with these characters.  Ty is a US snowboarder, and Nadia dreams of landing a job at the Olympic Committee Headquarters.  Ty is a brash thrill seeker, while Nadia is conservative and serious.  I usually enjoy stories with total opposites, but this one didn’t work for me, and I don’t know why.  Ty came off as very immature, and the conflict with Nadia and her father was never resolved.  Granted, this is a novella, so there weren’t enough pages to flesh out all of the plot conflicts as much as I would have liked, so I wish that  her demanding father had never been introduced in the first place.  Nadia and Ty had enough problems to work through without her father chastising her for being seen with a wild snowboarder, which was putting her promotion in jeopardy.  The funny about that was Nadia’s supervisor assigned her to follow Ty and his teammates around to ensure they behaved.  Their antics and practical jokes were garnering complaints from other athletes, and it was her job to make sure they stopped pulling pranks on their competitors.

Overall, this is a fast read that entertained during my wait at the airport, but didn’t stick with me.

Grade: C

Ice Gold by Kara Leigh Miller

I was more interested in Cole and Brenna than Ty and Nadia.  Brenna is a photographer, and much to her dismay, she has been assigned to cover the USA hockey team.  She meets Cole on the plane over to Switzerland, and immediately thinks he’s an ass.  Granted, he behaves like one, so her impression isn’t out of left field.  He pranks her, she accidentally pranks him, and then, to top everything off, he is hurt on the ice because of her mistake.  Through it all, Brenna has to work through her dislike of both athletes and the Games.

Ice Gold is fast paced and a fun story overall.  I liked both characters, and found this a breezy read.  It doesn’t require much brain-power, so it was perfect for a light read after having to get up after only four hours of sleep to catch a plane.

Grade: B

The Girl Behind the Gold by Aria Kane

This one just clicked for me.  Lia is an aerial skier, and she desperately needs to score gold so she can get some lucrative endorsements.   Her family back in Greece is in danger of losing their family farm, and she will do anything to help them keep it.  Her only problem? She’s not very likable.  She’s been told she needs to lighten up because public opinion of her is not favorable.  It’s doubtful that even if she brings home the gold that she’ll win any sponsor money.  Then in walks Brandon, a journalist on a mission.  He has to find a story that will win the hearts of his readers, or he isn’t welcome back at the publication offices.  Just what Lia needs, right?

I found this one compelling and hard to put down.  Lia is driven to save her family’s home, so she is all work and no goofing around.  She’s puzzled why that would have any bearing on her pitching products.  I liked how determined she was.  She worked hard to get to the Games, and she’s not going to risk losing by playing around.  Then she meets Brandon, who fails to tell her that he’s a journalist.  Lia is a very private person, and she doesn’t want anyone to know about her circumstances at home.  The attraction she feels for Brandon is so strong that she puts aside her usual rule of keeping to herself while she waits for her turn at competing. 

Even though Brandon was not entirely honest with Lia, I liked him, too.  I started worrying about how Lia would deal with the news that he was a journalist.  I knew she was going to blow a gasket, and that it was just a matter of time before her happiness was abruptly brought to a halt.  Would it ruin her concentration enough to make her lose her competitive edge? 

This is one of the stronger stories in the anthology.

Grade: B+

Worth More than Gold by Ana Blaze

This was my favorite story.  The pacing is spot on, and relationship between Erik and Amy is engaging.  After an evening of letting her hair down, Amy wakes up in a stranger’s bed with little recollection of the night before.  All she can remember is meeting a hot Viking at party and having a little too much to drink.  She’s hurt that her hook up didn’t even bother to stick around long enough to say good morning or good bye.  Ugh! How mortifying!  Amy is embarrassed and ashamed, and firmly decides that she is going to stick to business for the rest of the Games.  She’s there to keep an eye on her sister, the current figuring skating sweetheart, and stay away from both guys and alcohol.

What she doesn’t count on is that Erik, her ski jumper hook up, considers her his lucky charm.  He pursues her relentlessly, unleashing his devastating charm.  Amy has some self-esteem issues from living in the shadow of her talented and beautiful sister, so Erik is careful not to scare her away again.  He is sweet and charming and impossible to resist.  How could Amy avoid her HEA with a wonderful guy like Erik?

I loved Worth More Than Gold.  The author manages to squeeze a lot of character growth into a small amount of space, and I didn’t put my Kindle down until I reached the last page.  What a great story to close out this anthology. 

Grade: A

Overall, I’d give Love and Other Games a B.  There is a nice mix of stories here, with enough variety that readers should find something to enjoy.  This is a perfect book to load up on your mobile device and read in small chunks when you are stuck standing in line or waiting to pick the kiddos up. 

Review copy provided by publisher

Review: REAL by Katy Evans

Real

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

A fallen boxer.

A woman with a broken dream.

A competition…

He even makes me forget my name. One night was all it took, and I forgot everything and anything except the sexy fighter in the ring who sets my mind ablaze and my body on fire with wanting…
Remington Tate is the strongest, most confusing man I’ve ever met in my life.

He’s the star of the dangerous underground fighting circuit, and I’m drawn to him as I’ve never been drawn to anything in my life. I forget who I am, what I want, with just one look from him. When he’s near, I need to remind myself that I am strong–but he is stronger. And now it’s my job to keep his body working like a perfect machine, his taut muscles primed and ready to break the bones of his next opponents . . .
But the one he’s most threatening to, now, is me.

I want him. I want him without fear. Without reservations.

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Interview with Jami Davenport, Author of Backfield in Motion

Please welcome Jami Davenport to the virtual offices this morning!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Jami Davenport] Best-selling Contemp. sports romance author, charter 12thWoman, Animal Lover, Native Washingtonian living good life–rain or shine. GoHawks

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Backfield in Motion?

[Jami Davenport] Backfield in Motion is a bridge story. I had planned for Book 4 in my Seattle Lumberjacks series to be about the backup quarterback, who has tons of baggage. That book needs to span the 2nd half of the football season, which meant I’d have a big gap between the end of the last season (where Book 3 ended) to the middle of the next season. Since I’d always planned to write Bruiser’s book, I decided to go for it.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Jami Davenport] Usually I know the beginning and the end before I ever start, along with at least one character’s major flaw. I didn’t know anything about this book. I wrote three chapters not knowing who these characters were. Without realizing it, I flipped the beauty and the beast theme I used in Down by Contact. In BIM, the heroine is the "beast" and the hero is the beauty.

I’m always looking for something different, and I was reading about how difficult it is to keep a football field in perfect condition with players on it all the time. It’s really an exact science. So I decided to write about a heroine who wanted a career in grounds management. Also, theirs a mystery component in which the heroine’s brother has been missing for 3 years. I’m obsessed with true crime TV shows so I decided I might as well put that obsession to good use.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Mac?

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