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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Love and Other Games Anthology Will Make You Swoon and Giveaway!

I love sports romances, so I’m happy to be part of the Love and Other Games cover reveal!  Get the deets below, and enter for a chance to win a gift card to the book store of your choice!
Love and Other Games is a collection of four sexy new adult stories centered around athletes competing in the Winter Games by Ana Blaze, Melinda Dozier, Aria Kane, and Kara Leigh Miller. It releases October 1st from Swoon Romance in all major electronic formats.
 
 
 
Worth More Than Gold by Ana Blaze
 
Amy Pierce, the klutzy sister and manager of America’s Skating Sweetheart, is used to being invisible. But when a friend drags her to a party near the Olympic Village, Amy catches the eye of a sexy Norwegian ski jumper. It’s a magical night, but an awkward next morning has her running.
 
Everyone knows Erik Andresen’s best shot at an individual medal was back in 2010, before an injury pulled him from the competition. He’s there for his team, but a hot night and a remarkable final training session have him wondering if a gorgeous good-luck charm could give him another chance at the podium. With a little bit of luck, these two might have a shot at something worth more than gold.
 
Ana Blaze’s: Website | Twitter | Facebook
 
Trouble With Gold by Melinda Dozier
 
US snowboarder and notorious prankster, Ty (Trouble) Madsen is only getting a taste of his own medicine when his Olympic teammates shackle him to a fence wearing nothing but his boxers.
 
Reception and protocol volunteer, Nadia Hoffman, gets up close and personal with the sexy snowboarder to rescue him, but she’s not the kind of girl who lets her hormones get in her way. A professional performance could help her land her dream job at Olympics Committee Headquarters, but her new assignment supervising the rambunctious US Snowboarding Team is making that difficult.
 
Can she see behind the snowman in the community center bathroom and into the warm heart of the man everyone calls Trouble?
 
Melinda Dozer’s: Website | Twitter | Facebook
 
The Girl Behind the Gold by Aria Kane
 
Greek aerial skier Lia Milonas’s parents are about to lose the family farm. Saving it means medaling and landing a huge sponsor. While her no-nonsense attitude has her well on her way to a medal, it hasn’t won her a place in fans’ hearts.
 
“Come back with a story that will make readers cry, or don’t come back.” This is what Brandon James’ boss told him before he left New York to cover the Winter Games for Moment Magazine. With a wink and a smile, he can charm his way into any invite-only party, but that career-making story is nowhere to be found – until he meets Lia.
 
The two strike a deal that should get them both what they want – but neither would have guessed they’d also find what they need.
 
Aria Kane’s: Website | Twitter | Facebook
 
Ice Gold by Kara Leigh Miller
 
Colton Campbell thrives on the fast paced, adrenaline rushed lifestyle of being an Olympic hockey player. Despite Brenna Jessup’s abhorrence for the games and the athletes, she’s hand-picked as the official photographer for the U.S. Olympic Hockey Team. When a faux pas by Brenna almost costs Colton his career, she owes him. Too bad for her, Colton doesn’t want apologies — he wants retribution! And he knows just how to get it — and her — in the process.
 
Kara Leigh Miller’s: Website | Twitter | Facebook
 
 
To celebrate the cover reveal, the authors are giving away a $20 gift card to the bookstore of the winner’s choice. Check out the rafflecopter below to enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway Rafflecopter direct link

Meet Dominic Chekovsky From Debra Kayn’s Seductively

Please welcome special guest Dominic Chekovsky to the virtual offices this morning.  Dominic took some time away from his busy practice schedule to introduce himself, so give him a big hello!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Dominic Chekovsky] Dedicated, competitive, sincere, misunderstood, and sensitive. What? I am.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you share a typical day in the life of Dominic Chekovsky?

[Dominic Chekovsky] It’s all about hockey and Diana. I get up and plug in the coffee maker for Diana while I make a protein shake for myself. Usually this takes about an hour, because Diana strolls into the kitchen looking adorable with her curls going in every direction and distracts me. Then I head to the arena for hockey practice. I play hard. It’s going to be a banner season. By the evening, I’m ready to reconnect with Diana again and relax. We’re homebodies lately, preferring to entertain ourselves at home. She’s still trying to beat me in sock hockey. Once in awhile I let her win, because it benefits me. In two weeks, we’re taking a few days to travel to Cottage Grove and meet up with our friends.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to choose one moment that made you the person you are today, which would it be?

[Dominic Chekovsky] *grows serious* My parents. Their unending support and dedication in my career have made me the man I am today. My father gave me the advice as a young boy, "Whatever you do, throw your heart into it and you’ll always be happy." I think that’s true, don’t you?

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words come to mind when you think of Diana?

[Dominic Chekovsky] Hot, Mouthy, Adorable. *sighs on a smile* She’s perfect for me.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you find most exasperating about her?

[Dominic Chekovsky] *scoots to the edge of his chair and lowers his voice* She argues a lot. Don’t tell her I said this, but her attitude drives me crazy. Sometimes I’ll argue with her just to set her off, so I can see the passion in her. She’s beautiful but when she fights, she steals my breath away.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could change one thing you’ve done in your life, what would it be?

[Dominic Chekovsky] Ugh. I approached Diana all wrong back when I first met her. I’ve learned a lot about women since we got together, thanks to her. It all worked out for the best but if I would’ve known the secret to handling women, I would’ve stayed out of trouble early on in my career. I would’ve learned to say no to them sooner, before my life derailed.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s one thing you won’t leave home without?

[Dominic Chekovsky] My car keys. Only because if I don’t take them with me, Diana steals my Porsche out of the garage. I’ve never seen a woman so attached to a car before. She drives way too fast.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you share your dreams for the future in five words or less.

[Dominic Chekovsky] Babies. *grins and looks away* Yeah, babies with Diana.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

[Dominic Chekovsky] Thanks! It’s been fun. Don’t forget to watch the San Jose Sharks. We’re gonna kick ass this season.

To learn more about Dominic and Diana, be sure to read Debra Kayn’s Seductively.

Purchase link

Check out Wildly Book One in Debra’s Playing for Hearts series, too

About the book:

Independent and goal orientated, Diana Spenner has set her sights on buying the old Ferriday House and running her own Bed and Breakfast by the end of the year. Nothing will sway her from her plans, especially the famous hockey player Dominic Chekovsky, who can’t take no for an answer. But, when Dominic strolls into Cottage Grove and begs her in his thick Russian accent to keep his adoring female fans away from him, she’s not going to turn him down—because the job pays half a million dollars.

Dominic Chekovsky life is out of control. American women go crazy around him. They invade his personal space, leave their husbands for him, and make his life hell. Except, Diana. She’s the one woman who always turns him down, no matter how many times he asks her out on a date. Now he’s desperate. He needs Diana’s help to figure out why she’s the only female immune to his charm, so he can continue to play hockey in the United States. Maybe when Diana finally allows herself to say yes to having sex with him, he’ll be over his wild fascination with the one woman who always tells him no.
Warning: Sexy Russian accent, big ego, and thick, hard thighs on ice. Go Sharks!

Cover Shot! Melting the Ice by Jaci Burton

Cover Shot! is a regular feature here at the Café.  I love discovering new covers, and when I find them, I like to share.  More than anything else, I am consumed with the mystery that each new discovery represents.  There is an allure to a beautiful cover.  Will the story contained under the pages live up to promise of the gorgeous cover art?

Wow! This is the seventh Play by Play novel, and I still haven’t read The Perfect Play (which I purchased at Borders during their fire sale).  I like that the background looks like ice. Even though everything about this cover makes me think of winter, which I hate, I still think it’s fun to look at.

In stores February 2014

 

Carolina Preston has only one goal in mind—launching her new fashion line. She needs only one last thing to make it perfect—hockey phenom Drew Hogan. But Carolina and Drew have a history that goes back to their college days, and Carolina doesn’t want the embarrassment of her past to cloud the brightness of her future.

Drew is eager for the chance to show Carolina he isn’t the boy who hurt her back then, but a man now, with the skills necessary to melt the icy exterior of her cold heart.

Review: Falling for the Backup by Toni Aleo

 

Title: Falling for the Backup

Author: Toni Aleo

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

 

After serving as a dutiful bridesmaid in the wedding from hell, Aynslee Shaw just wants to slink home to Nashville and forget the whole trip. That is, until the hottest guy she’s ever seen is seated next to her on the flight and dazzles her with his easy laugh and killer smile. But just when she thinks things are getting good, he vanishes, leaving Aynslee wondering, was that guy the one? And did she just let him slip through her fingers?
Former superstar goalie Jordan Ryan is back on the ice—finally. After a crippling knee injury that had him wondering if he’d ever play pro hockey again, he’s got his full attention on rebuilding his career. So a pretty—okay, beautiful—girl on a plane shouldn’t be a distraction. But Jordan is very, very distracted. And when Aynslee crosses his path again, he’s not sure any job in the world is worth missing his second chance with a woman like her.
Includes a special message from the editor, as well as an excerpt from the Loveswept title Empty Net.


Review:

This novella did not work for me, and judging from the ratings on GoodReads, I am definitely in the minority in regards to this title.  I wanted to read Falling for the Backup because it’s a sport romance with hockey, and I love hockey.  How can I not? I’m from Detroit, and hockey is in our blood.  What else is there to look forward to in the middle of the long, dreary winters?  Why, the battle for the Stanley Cup is about all that keeps us from falling into a bleak, seasonal depression.

Jordan Ryan is a goalie for the Assassins, but after an injury that almost ended his career, he’s gone from superstar to backup.  Frustrated with his life, he’s watched his career go down the toilet, his fiancée left him when he was at his most vulnerable, and now he’s warming the bench for a hotshot youngster who’s taken his position, as well as the all of the glory that goes with it.  Desperate to play again, he’s shopping himself around the league with his father’s help.  His father is his agent, and he’s adamant that Jordan stay on the straight and narrow and that he doesn’t do anything to jeopardize a contract offer from another team.  Easy enough.  Jordan’s only interest in life is getting back on the ice full-time.

Until he meets Aynslee on a flight home to Nashville.  After he accidentally dumps a cup of coffee on her dress, Aynslee can’t keep her eyes, or her mind, off of Jordan.  She thinks they have a connection, but after disembarking, he takes off with a curt good-bye.  No phone numbers are exchanged, and Aynslee is confused.  And disappointed.  How could the most breathtaking guy she’d ever seen take off without even getting her number.  Ugh!

When they continue to bump into each other, Jordan finally gives in and allows Aynslee to sweep him off his feet.  The timing stinks because he’ll be leaving town once he signs with a new team, but he lets her know up front that they aren’t, and can’t be, a long term thing.  Aynslee goes along, willing to put her worries about their breakup in the back of her mind.  She’s sure that Jordan will change his mind and that they will figure out a way to stay together.

Why didn’t this work for me?  Because Jordan and Aynslee are obviously meant to be together, but Jordan is too caught up in himself to even think of asking Aynslee to go with him to his new team.  He’s convinced himself, without asking her, that she’s got a perfect life, with perfect friends, in Nashville, and that she would never consider moving.  This just frustrated me, because after dismissing a long distance relationship because they never work out, he is resigned instead to breaking up with the love of his life and moving off to reestablish his glory on the ice.  Aynslee isn’t much better, because she can’t seem to discuss their impending breakup, either.  She’s just content with the way things are, and she has faith that things will work out, without any effort on her part.

The other aspect of the novella that bothered me was that both characters acted too young for their ages.  Jordan is in his early thirties, but his behavior was closer to a guy in his early twenties.  Sure, his confidence has taken a few knocks after losing his starting position and after getting dumped by his girlfriend, but it was like he reverted to a much younger version of himself, and I just couldn’t buy into that. 

This is a quick, steamy read, and you can get beyond the contrived conflict, it will make a great beach read.

Grade:  C-

Review copy provided by publisher

Review: Game. Set. Match. by Jennifer Iacopelli

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Title:  Game. Set. Match.

Author:  Jennifer Iacopelli

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

 

Nestled along the North Carolina coast, the Outer Banks Tennis Academy is the world’s most elite training facility. In this pressure-cooker environment, futures are forged in blood and sweat, and dreams are shattered in an instant.

Penny Harrison, a rising female star, is determined to win the French Open and beat her archrival, Zina Lutrova. But when her coach imports British bad boy Alex Russell as her new training partner, will Penny be able to keep her laser-like focus?

Tennis is all Jasmine Randazzo has ever known. The daughter of two Grand Slam champions, she’s hell-bent on extending her family’s legacy and writing her own happily-ever-after…until her chosen Prince Charming gives her the just-friends speech, right before the biggest junior tournament of the year, the Outer Banks Classic.

With a powerful serve and killer forehand, newcomer Indiana Gaffney is turning heads. She’s thrilled by all of the attention, especially from Jack Harrison, Penny’s agent and hot older brother, except he keeps backing off every time things start heating up.

With so much at stake, dreams—and hearts—are bound to break.


Review:

Wow! Coliloquy does it again!  Here’s another book with lots of angst, set amid the ultra competitive world of tennis.  Here’s a secret; I can’t stand tennis, and yet I couldn’t put this book down!  The interpersonal relationships had me hooked.  Would Penny get over her fling with tennis bad boy Alex?  Would Jasmine live up to her parents’ legacy?  Would Indy ever fit in at OBX and make her dreams of being a top tennis player come true?  Will I get over the cruelty of those painful little words – THE END??

While I don’t enjoy tennis, I was drawn to this book because I love sports stories.  It doesn’t matter what the sport is, either.  As long as the protagonists are committed to training hard and being the best they can be, I’m onboard.  There is just something about a competitor refusing to be second best that keeps me engaged in their struggles.  I want to see them persevere, to overcome all obstacles in their path, and become the best they can be.  Throw in rivals, disinterested parents, interfering parents – in short, any emotionally distracting relationship, and I am that much more invested in the story.

Game. Set. Match. has three central characters, and the book is told in alternating POVs.  Penny has just won her first major tournament, defeating the world’s number one player.  She’s determined to win the French Open next, but she’s still having flashbacks to a disastrous competition where Alex Russell messed with her mind, her heart, and destroyed her game.  To her utter dismay, her coach has brought Alex to OBX to help her train.  Can she keep herself together and ignore the attraction raging between them? Can she ever trust him again?  I loved this story line, because Alex is such a player, yet he’s ready to make a commitment to Penny, if only she’ll give him the time of day.  There was a lot of great tension between Alex and Penny, as they both strove to train for their matches at the French Open.   Penny has so many pressures now that she’s finding success, from potential sponsors to rivals waiting in the wings to take her down a notch.  Great stuff here!

Jasmine is probably my least favorite character, because she came across as a spoiled princess.  Her parents were both tennis superstars, and since she was seven, all she’s wanted was to follow in their footsteps.  When Indy shows up at OBX and promptly derails her dreams and hopes for the future, she lashes out at her new tennis opponent.  Jasmine lost the mental game long before she even stepped out on the court.  She expected that success would just fall into her lap, without her truly working for it.  While I did like her better by the end of the book, it took a lot for her to win me over.

Indy gave up on tennis after her mother’s death.  After Penny wins the Madrid Open, her fire to play tennis is re-ignited.  She is surprised that her offer to attend OBX is still open, and jumps at the chance to train at the best tennis academy in the country.  I really liked Indy and found her story arc highly engrossing.  Still reeling from her mother’s death, she and her father have a distant relationship at best.  She’s never been as interesting to him as his work, and Indy has resented his indifference for years.  Now she’s facing the toughest competition of her life, and she’s learning the hard way that tennis is more about the mental game than she realized.  Her early success at OBX hasn’t earned her any friends among her classmates.  She’s surprised to discover how down to earth Penny is, and the two girls soon become close, which leads to more rivalries with the other girls at the academy.  Indy’s story was my favorite, and I thought that her romantic pursuit of Jack, Penny’s older brother, was very sweet.

Game. Set. Match is a great read with lots of emotion.  Even if you don’t usually enjoy sports stories, give this a try.  It’s more about relationships and chasing your dreams than tennis.

Grade:  B / B+

Review copy provided by publisher

Cover Reveal! Blue Lines by Toni Aleo!

I’m excited to help with the cover reveal for Toni Aleo’s Blue Lines.  This is book 4 in Toni’s Assassins series.   What do you think?  While I love the guy’s back, I don’t think I’m over the moon about his jeans.  Would I like it better without them? Ummmm…yeah.  What do you think?

 

About the book:

Opposites do more than just attract in Toni Aleo’s latest Nashville Assassins novel about a very bad boy and the good girl he can’t resist.

The instant Piper Allen sees Erik Titov, she wants him—wants his rock-hard body, sure, but the strength and mystery that lie behind that superstar hockey jock demeanor, too. So when he sidles up to her at a bar and slinks his arm around her waist, she’s lost. What follows is the wildest night of her life . . . followed by inevitable heartbreak the next morning. And then, a few weeks later, a very big surprise: two blue lines on a pregnancy test.
Only a check to the head could make Erik fall for a nice girl like Piper. But since their crazy-sexy night together, he’s been trying to forget about her alluring body by falling into bed with every woman in Nashville, and it’s not working. So when Piper shows up at his house with a baby-bomb to drop, it doesn’t take much for Erik to suggest the nuclear option: marriage. While it’s supposed to be all for show, the second they say “I do,” the ice between them starts to melt into sizzling steam.
Includes a special message from the editor, as well as excerpts from these Loveswept titles: Taking Shots, Trying to Score, and Empty Net.

 

Purchase Links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Blue-Lines-Assassins-Contemporary-ebook/dp/B00BH0VTUW/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1366653309&sr=1-1&keywords=Blue+Lines%3A+The+Assassins+Series+Toni+Aleo

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/blue-lines-toni-aleo/1114852590?ean=9780345547330&itm=1&usri=9780345547330

iBookstore: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/blue-lines-toni-aleo/1114852590?ean=9780345547330&itm=1&usri=9780345547330

Random House and other retailers: http://www.randomhouse.com/book/227840/blue-lines-the-assassins-series-by-toni-aleo