Novella Review–Play with Me by Lisa Renee Jones

 

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I haven’t read anything by Lisa Renee Jones before, so I was eager to start Play with Me.  From the first sentence I was sucked into the story.  I loved Kali’s voice.  She’s a no nonsense young woman who knows what she wants, and she’s not afraid to work to achieve her goals.  After suffering a major setback in her plan to reboot her life, she takes a temporary position as Damion’s personal assistant.  She quickly discovers that he’s a beast to work for.  An attractive beast, but a beast none the less! Relying on a strong sense of self, though, she quickly lets him know she won’t let him push her around. 

The sexual tension sizzles, and both Kali and Damion try to keep their attraction in check.  Kali doesn’t want to give  gossip to the rumor mill, and the thought of sleeping with her boss doesn’t sit well with her.  Try as she might, though, she can’t deny that all she wants to do is rip off his clothes and play out every naughty daydream she’s entertained, with Damion taking center stage.  The push and pull between them is occasionally maddening, but Jones draws you right into Kali’s head, so you know exactly what she’s thinking and exactly what she wants. 

In addition to fending off her blazing desire for Damion, Kali finds herself in the middle of a suspected embezzling case.  Something fishy is going on at the casinos Damion’s in charge of, and Kali’s first hint that something’s very wrong in Damion’s kingdom includes being locking in a hotel room for most of the day with no contact with the outside world.  She’s pissed about her treatment during the casino lockdown, and who can blame her?  Her introduction to her employment at the casinos totally sucked.  Her first encounter with HR had her wasting most of the day while the indifferent staff ignored her, and then, BAM! solitary confinement.  Not a great start to her new job, and not a great start to her new life! 

The resolution of the corporate intrigue felt a bit rushed, as did Kali’s offer to expose Damion’s misdeeds and write an expose on the casinos after a chance meeting with a former employee. Despite these quibbles, Play with Me is an entertaining read featuring a demanding man who gets what he wants, and an equally forceful woman who knows what she wants.  Part of the story takes place during Thanksgiving, but I didn’t find the holiday flavor very strong, so if you were avoiding Play with Me because you don’t like holiday themed stories, you won’t have an issue here.

Grade:  B

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

Heating Up the Holidays 3-Story Bundle (Play with Me, Snowfall, and After Midnight): A Loveswept Contemporary Romance

PLAY WITH ME by Lisa Renee Jones

Kali Miller has spent three years reporting fluff stories, waiting for the article that will launch her career to new heights. When she suddenly finds herself forced to take a job as an executive secretary at a Vegas casino, Kali meets the subject of what will surely be a shocking exposé: her boss, Damion Ward, the arrogant and undeniably sexy CEO. But after Damion invites her to help him plan a Thanksgiving charity event, Kali begins to see another side of the man. And when she surrenders to the exhilarating tension simmering between them, Kali hopes her story will have a happy ending.

Review: Roman Holiday 1: Chained by Ruthie Knox

Roman Holiday 1: Chained: A Loveswept Contemporary Romance

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I adore Ruthie Knox’s writing, so when I saw Roman Holiday on Netgalley, I was curious to check it out.  Roman Holiday is being released in a serial format, in two seasons.  Season One has five episodes, and Season Two will be released starting next March.  Chained is about 50 pages in length, and what a great 50 pages it is!

Read more

Guest Post: Learning Spanish by Serena Bell and Giveaway!

 

We have a special treat today! Serena Bell, author of Yours to Keep, dropped by the virtual offices to share her adventures learning Spanish.  Be sure to enter Serena’s giveaway, too!

Guest Post – Learning Spanish by Serena Bell

Thank you so much for joining me today at Manga Maniac Café, the latest stop on my Yours to Keep blog tour. I’m thrilled to be here today, talking about how I learned Spanish. Ana, the heroine of Yours to Keep, is a Dominican immigrant, a Spanish speaker by birth. She’s fluent in English, because she moved to the U.S. when she was a little kid, around the same time her parents made the immigration mistake that has resulted in her not having a valid visa. She works as an English-as-a-second-language teacher and a Spanish tutor, which is how she meets Ethan, a widowed pediatrician with a habit of saying everything Ana needs to hear, if not quite all in the right order.

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Cover Reveal: All I Want For Christmas is You by Molly O’Keefe

LoveSwept has another holiday romance hitting shelves soon.  All I Want For Chiristmas Is You is penned by Molly O’Keefe, and it will be available November 4.  Because it’s a novella, I will more than likely bite on this one.

 

All I Want for Christmas Is You (Short Story)

By Molly O’Keefe

Loveswept | 978-0-345-54244-1

On Sale November 4, 2013

About the book:

In this touching eBook novella, a prequel to Molly O’Keefe’s Crazy Thing Called Love, a young woman swept up by first love is ready to say “I do”—until challenges arise during the holiday season.

Maddy Baumgarten and Billy Wilkins are spontaneous, in love, and prepared to elope the day after Christmas—that is, if Maddy’s family doesn’t throw a wrench in their plans. Her parents are more than a little reluctant to give their blessing to the impending nuptials. After all, Maddy’s barely out of high school and Billy’s a notorious bad boy. Maddy doesn’t care about Billy’s rough past—all she cares about is living in the here and now. But after Maddy’s mother stops speaking to her in protest, and a Christmas Eve heart-to-heart with her father leaves her with butterflies, Maddy starts to get cold feet. She loves Billy, but is she taking this big step too soon?

About the Author

Molly O’Keefe published her first Harlequin romance at age twenty-five and hasn’t looked back. She loves exploring each character’s road toward happily ever after. She’s won two Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice awards and the RITA for Best Novella in 2010. Originally from a small town outside of Chicago, she now lives in Toronto, Canada, with her husband, two kids, and the largest heap of dirty laundry in North America.

Pre-order ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU

Connect with Molly: Facebook | Twitter | Website

Cover Reveal! Ruined by Tracy Wolff

Here’s another LoveSwept cover reveal, this time for Ruined by Tracy Wolff.  I don’t know why, but I really like this cover.  I have included info about Tracy’s Full Exposure, which got a new cover, too.  I don’t like that one as much as I like Ruined.  What do you think about them?

 

 

RUINED Book Blurb:

He was the last man I should love … but the first I ever could.

Ethan Frost was a visionary. A genius. Every woman’s deepest, darkest fantasy—even mine. And, somehow, I was his.

He stole into my life like a dream. Turned my reality upside down and made my every desire come true—especially those I never knew I had. He demanded everything I had to give. Gave me everything of himself in return.

But dreams don’t last forever, and ours was no exception.  Because my nightmares were darker, and my wounds deeper, than I could ever reveal.  And much as Ethan wanted to protect me, the secrets we didn’t know we shared could only tear us apart. 

Pre-order RUINED

FULL EXPOSURE

Written by Tracy Wolff

Loveswept Contemporary Erotic Romance | 978080417764

On sale October 28, 2013

FULL EXPOSURE Book Blurb:

In Tracy Wolff’s sizzling novel of erotic tension—perfect for fans of Sylvia Day, E. L. James, and J. Kenner—sex and suspense steam up the sultry bayou.

Desperate to leave a traumatic past behind, photographer Serena Macafee prefers sex with no strings attached—no commitment, just pure pleasure. Her new subject, sculptor Kevin Riley, seems like the perfect man to fulfill her hottest fantasies. And where better than the torrid wetlands of Baton Rouge, where Kevin works—and plays? But as their sessions heat up, so do Serena’s feelings for Kevin.

As she opens herself up to emotions she never wanted, Serena leaves herself vulnerable to everything she thought she’d escaped. As her guard breaks down, her fears are aroused. Something has followed her to the sweltering southern bayou, exposing her to the twisted fantasies of someone in the shadows—and to dangers beyond her wildest dreams.

Pre-order FULL EXPOSURE

About Tracy Wolff:

Tracy Wolff lives in Texas and teaches writing at her local community college. She is married and the mother of three young sons.

Find Tracy: Twitter | Website

Connect with Loveswept: Facebook | Twitter | Online Street Team

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

Cover Reveal: Accidental Cowgirl by Maggie McGinnis

Random House has a cover reveal today for their October release Accidental Cowgirl by Maggie McGinnis.  How could I not want to share that with all of you?  I love the premise – I know! I am such a sucker for fish out of water stores and, need I say, cowboys.  I think this is a really cute cover, and I wish I could step out in a sundress and boots like the cover model, but I  just can’t pull off the look. I can hardly wait to read this in October!

 

ACCIDENTAL COWGIRL by Maggic McGinnis

Loveswept Contemporary Romance

On sale October 8, 2013

In her Loveswept debut, Maggie McGinnis tells the tale of a city girl who’s running on fumes—and the cowboy who shows her all the good things she’s been missing.

After being betrayed by her con man ex-fiancé, Kyla Bennett nurses a broken heart. But Kyla’s friends have other ideas and when they whisk her off to Whisper Creek, a dude ranch staffed by cowboys so hot they dim the Montana sunset, all Kyla wants to do is hide under a quilt. Then in rides Decker Driscoll. He’s hauling about as much emotional baggage as Kyla, but when he stands close by, both of them want to stay close—and begin to succumb to an undeniable attraction.

After experiencing personal tragedy, Decker never thought he’d see Big Sky country again. But now that his family’s Whisper Creek property is in deep with a Vegas gambler, Decker’s back for the summer—and spending all his time running from “cowgirls” who come to the dude ranch to score some dudes. Then he meets Kyla, a kindred spirit who brings on a stampede of protective feelings . . . and a powerful hankering to sear her with a new brand of love.

About the Author

Maggie McGinnis is the author of Driving Without a License, which was a finalist for Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart Award. A former high school English teacher, an accomplished musician, and a certified black belt, she lives in New England with her family.

ACCIDENTAL COWGIRL on Goodreads

Pre-order Accidental Cowgirl

Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |   Other retailers / Random House

Cover Reveal: Falling for the Backup by Toni Aleo

Oh-lala!  I have a cover reveal for Toni Aleo’s Falling for the Backup!  This is an Assassins series novella, and it will be available June 24.  What do you think of it?

Falling for the Backup: An Assassins Series Novella by Toni Aleo

Loveswept – Random House |  June 24, 2013  |  $0.99

Toni Aleo’s sexy new eBook original novella featuring the Nashville Assassins will have you believing in the power of love at first sight . . . and second sight . . . and third.

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 charms 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.

Pre-order Falling for the Backup

Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |  iBookstore  |  Random House and Other Retailers


Connect with Toni

Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter