Reading on a Dime: This Week Contemporary Romance

Titles for less then my Starbucks habit:
So this is the second attempt at “Reading on a Dime” where I will attempt to highlight everyday low priced titles of great books! Times are rough and if you are anything like me you are constantly buying new books whether you necessarily have the funds or not. I will attempt to provide great reads that wont hurt your bank account as bad. Featuring books for $5.00 or less and a few titles if apart of the series for slightly more. (This post is also on my other blog

Rachel Gibson:
RG is one of my absolute favorite authors and one of the few Contemporary Romance authors I religiously read. A recent meme asked, who is your go to “Comfort Read” and I didn’t even have to think about it for more then a few seconds. Rachel Gibson is my Go To when I need a comfort read. No matter how many times I’ve read one of her books I laugh, every single time! RG has a couple of series as well as some standalone titles. What I do like about RG is even though she does have some series each book is also written as a standalone so it is not necessary to read in order.

Lovett, Texas Series: Price $1.99 – $3.99 ea

Standalone Titles: Price: $3.99 ea

Chinooks Hockey Team Series: Price $3.99 – $4.99 ea

Standalone Titles for slightly more: Price $5.99 ea

Chinooks Hockey Team Series for slightly more: Price $5.99 ea

Writer Friends Series for slightly more: Price $5.99

Victoria Dahl:
I have only read the Donovan Series by Victoria Dahl, but it was enough to get a pretty good sense of her as an author and I loved what I found. Her writing is smart and funny with a sarcastic edge. Our Heros and Heroines are in real world situations with real problems. You will find yourself laughing and crying when you pick up this series. The first book is actually a novella in an anthology containing the first part of the story from “Real Men Will” which I highly recommend reading before you read that title.

Donovan Brewery Series: Price $4.99 ea

Cherry Lynn:
The Ross Siblings is so far two books, it leans towards erotic contemporary romance, so consider yourself warned. They are quite steamy! The first is the oldest Ross sibling Evan which is more a typical sweet CR. The second is the youngest Ross sibling, this is the first book I read. It features Brian who is a bad boy tattoo artist with piercings in interesting places. *wink wink* This a great CR series, that kind of bridged the gap between straight up CR and erotica for me. I never liked erotica much until I picked up Cherrie Lynn’s books. It’s not so heavy on the sex that the story is minimal.

Ross Siblings Series: Price $4.25 ea

ARC Review: Kristen Callihan – Moonglow

Darkest London Series:
Book 2:

Moonglow: Ian Ranulf, the Marquis of Northrup and Daisy Ellis Craigmore

Once the seeds of desire are sown . . .

Finally free of her suffocating marriage, widow Daisy Ellis Craigmore is ready to embrace the pleasures of life that have long been denied her. Yet her new-found freedom is short lived. A string of unexplained murders has brought danger to Daisy’s door, forcing her to turn to the most unlikely of saviors . . .

Their growing passion knows no bounds . . .

Ian Ranulf, the Marquis of Northrup, has spent lifetimes hiding his primal nature from London society. But now a vicious killer threatens to expose his secrets. Ian must step out of the shadows and protect the beautiful, fearless Daisy, who awakens in him desires he thought long dead. As their quest to unmask the villain draws them closer together, Daisy has no choice but to reveal her own startling secret and Ian must face the undeniable truth: Losing his heart to Daisy may be the only way to save his soul.

***Spoiler Free***
When I first saw Firelight on NetGalley, I loved the cover (side note, how beautiful are the covers for Firelight and Moonglow, some of my favorites!) so much I had to see what that book was all about. I read the blurb and was curious enough to give it a whirl. When I had finished Firelight, I knew that here was something special. A new talent was emerging that could weave a delicious story that was rich in detail, intriguing, fresh in its uniqueness and characters that you could truly care about. Firelight became one of my instant favorites of this year so far. I was really hoping that with the sequel Moonglow we would get the same quality that we got from Firelight and I was NOT disappointed. Kristen Callihan delivers another smashing success.

So at first it was a bit slow reading, but that was more my fault then the writing; I’d pick the book late at night knowing I needed to go to sleep so I couldn’t truly immerse myself in the story. I am not one of those people who can read for an hour go to sleep, pick the book up a day or more later, read for another hour then stop again only to rise and repeat. I didn’t give the beginning of the book its due, but I was so eager to start it! But once I finally found a large chunk of time, I could not put the book down! I was sucked in and could not let go until I finished the book. Callihan just has this way of writing that is so rich in detail and emotion that you can’t help but to let go and feel and enjoy. The story is interesting, funny, action packed and entertaining. You come to know the characters so well that when they are hurting, you can’t help but feel along with them. Callihan is a master of divvying up details a little at a time, just enough to keep you from getting frustrated or irritated. Yet at the same time few and far enough between that she keeps you guessing, she takes you on a rollercoaster of twists and turns. The twists and turn are not just from plot reveals but it’s also an emotional rollercoaster. Damn it I cried! Twice! It’s damn hard to make me cry once, let alone twice!

Daisy I came to adore, here is a woman after my own heart. I adored that she had a backup plan! I’m a big believer of the backup plan. She knew her husband was a bastard and would leave her with nothing, so she planned for her own future. She went behind his back and used her very impractical talent of nosing to make herself a fortune. I can get down with that. Regrettably, it’s that talent that brings upon her current troubles. Murders start happening, and the link seems to be Daisy, and now she is being stalked by a very dangerous beast. Ian, can keep Daisy safer than just about anyone else, but in the beginning she wanted nothing to do with him; even though he brings out her lust, he once pursued her sister. I like that Daisy had pride, she refused to be second best, and she refused to stand in the shadow of any woman and told Ian so. She didn’t hold back from him, she told him straight up. I also liked that she was lusty and admitted it, even just to herself. This no demure, shy female, she has a sex drive and knows it. What about broke my heart is her attitude about it though; she had to endure years of abuse from her late husband that made her feel ashamed. I think even modern woman can even still relate this this, even though sex is so much more accepted now, there are still those that would make a female feel ashamed for being sexual. Daisy even musters to herself, that a man would be revered for his sexual prowess a woman is considered a harlot or whore for hers and that is hypocritical. What modern woman hasn’t ever had that same thought once or twice in their life? There is this one part where Ian and Daisy are together and something happens between them that had me crying for what Daisy had to endure and crying for Ian’s reaction to it.

Ian, I seriously didn’t know if I was going to like him, he was such a douche in the first book. He purposely tried to break up Archer and Miranda and that wasn’t so cool. However, Ian is so much more than his douche behaviors in the first book. Again, here is Callihan divvying up those details, but we find out so much about Ian and his past. His pain and loss is significant and has ruled who he has been for the last 70+ years. But, in Daisy he finds that it isn’t enough anymore. His living a half-life isn’t what he wants anymore; it isn’t who he is anymore. I think it’s Ian who does the most growing over the course of this book. I loved how open he had become with Daisy, how he could and would share his feeling with her. He let her see him. There was just something so sexy about it.

I have to say, I don’t think there was anything I didn’t like about this book. This book opens up this series for so many possibilities and I am very excited to see where Kristen Callihan takes us. So many new creatures and characters come out of the woodwork with this novel due to Ian’s involvement in the supernatural world. He is more entrenched in the world then Archer was. I cannot leave this review without at least mentioning Callihan’s seamlessly weaving the genres of Historical and Paranormal romance. I don’t think it would be unfair to say that this new talent may end up ruling this niche genre. Whether you are a paranormal lover or a historical romance lover, there is something here for you! Ms. Callihan has earned a place on my auto-buy list.

Review copy provided through NetGalley for an honest review, no other compensation was provided.

Rating: 5 orchids

ARC Review: Susan Mallery – All Summer Long

Fool’s Gold Series:
Book 9:

All Summer Long: Clay Stryker and Chantal (Charlie) Dixon

Release Date: July 24th, 2012
Can a summer fling turn into love that lasts a lifetime? Former underwear model turned entrepreneur Clay Stryker has loved, tragically lost and vowed that he’ll never risk his heart again. After making his fortune, the youngest of the rugged Stryker brothers returns to Fool’s Gold, California, to put down roots on a ranch of his own. But he’s frustrated to discover that even in his hometown, people see him only for his world-famous…assets.

Firefighter Chantal (Charlie) Dixon grew up an ugly duckling beside her delicately beautiful mother, a feeling reinforced long ago by a man who left soul-deep scars. Now she has good friends, a solid job and the itch to start a family-yet she can’t move toward the future while she’s haunted by painful memories.

Clay finds an unexpected ally, and unexpected temptation, in tomboyish Charlie, the only person who sees beyond his dazzling good looks to the real man beneath. But when Charlie comes to him with an indecent proposal, will they be able to overcome their pasts and find a love that lasts beyond one incredible summer?

I have to admit I’m torn on this book. On one hand you finish the book with the typical warm fuzzy feeling that you usually have at the end of a Susan Mallery novel. It was warm, funny and a crowd pleaser for most. Charlie and Clay were for the most part likeable characters. Charlie we have seen through most of the series a well known town member of Fools Gold. Clay was a newcomer, settling in Fools Gold to be near his family. On the other hand S. Mallery attempts to tackle a serious subject matter of date rape and for me it fell horribly flat.

So let’s tackle the date rape first, I do want to mention that I have had friends that have experienced sexual assault and my best friend has been a rape and domestic abuse councilor for close to 10 years. So I have strong opinions regarding this. For 10 years Charlie has been struggling as a survivor of date rape, her coping mechanism has just been to avoid all men and any intimate settings. Ok, totally out of character for someone like Charlie who tackles everything else head on, but I guess I can see why she would take this approach, it’s easier to avoid then to deal. Now she wants kids but realizes she will have to conquer this fear if she is to be a good mom. Her solution, get laid… So she approaches Clay, whom she barely knows, but hey he’s super hot so I don’t blame her. So this approach of, ok I’ll just get laid is ridiculous. This is not going to fix anything without any sort of counseling but whatever, we will pretend that it will. So I liked Clay’s approach to helping “cure” Charlie, he did research; he had some idea what to expect and was willing to put in the time and work. No matter what she threw at him he took it and maintained calm. It was Clay’s attitude that actually had me thinking that maybe S. Mallery would take this subject matter a little more seriously. However, this was not the case, so it started ok, Charlie was understandably freaked out after the first kiss and a little less so after the second make out. But, after two make out sessions she was practically jumping Clay’s bones and begging for it. I think it was their third or maybe fourth “session” that they were going at it like two teenagers. And then it was like a week after that she was fully “cured”. Really? I mean really? Two make out sessions is not going to cure someone who has been terrified of intimate relationships for 10 YEARS! It is completely unrealistic and completely blows off the seriousness of being a date rape survivor and their recovery. Charlie actually freaked out more that Clay was so attractive and an underwear model then the actual intimacy itself, whining about why couldn’t he be less attractive, then you shouldn’t have picked a model, I’m just saying. I don’t understand why authors take on serious subject matter such as this and then completely blow it off. What’s the point?! It’s almost insulting to those who have been assaulted and go through years of recovery.

Ok, so the date rape aside, I am now done with my rant, this was basically a warm fuzzy novel that is supposed to make you feel good afterward. Charlie is strong yet, kind. She goes above and beyond for friends and that includes Clay. She has a crazy mother who appears out of nowhere to make nice with her. After a difficult period, Charlie does open her heart to her mother and tries to make it work. I do have to admit Charlie’s mother is a piece of work, she is a total *itch, but for some reason I kind of liked her. I have no idea why, she was such a terrible mother, maybe it was because she was so honest in her witchiness. Lol But through it all Charlie keeps her heart open, so I liked that about her. However, when Clay dumped her, man did she run off and fast. I would have thought someone as strong as Charlie would have fought or at least stood up and faced him, but then we wouldn’t have had a touching mother daughter moment, so I guess that was a trade off.

Clay, on the surface I liked him. There is nothing to not like, he’s kind, down to earth and cares about his friends and family. He didn’t have a vain bone in his body, which was quite nice. He is a widower who absolutely loved his first wife and still misses her, which always makes you go AW a bit. He knows the value of love, he is just stubborn in thinking he would never have it again. With all of that, I didn’t really feel like Clay grew as a character much, by the end of the book he hadn’t accomplished much. He still wasn’t a firefighter and his Haycations was still kind of left as a disasterpiece. Poor guy, couldn’t he have had a bit more closure by the end, at least passed training? It felt like his life was still a jumble, the only thing that was different is he committed to Charlie, which took until the last couple of pages. Overall, he’s a very likeable guy, he was a lot different than I had expected with Rafe’s reaction to him and his choice in cars. I had thought he would have been a little more reckless and a little less responsible, but responsible works too. His obsession with research had me smiling, it seemed like he was doing a lot of research for everything that popped up in his life. It was kind of cute.

Overall, it was a light summer read, I had just wished that Mallery would have kept it light and not have introduced such a serious subject matter. I figure that many people will not have the same issue that I had with the date rape recovery and will thoroughly enjoy this Fool’s Gold novel.

*Review copy provided through NetGalley for an honest review. No other compensation was provided.

Rating: 3.5 Orchids