Review: Love in Lingerie, by Alessandra Torre

Love in LingerieLove in Lingerie by Alessandra Torre
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Alessandra Torre has a way of telling stories that suck me in and make me fall in love, even as my brain is telling me that I shouldn’t. She is the queen of writing forbidden love stories that leave you feeling conflicted and questioning your sense of right and wrong. She doesn’t seem to focus as much on huge, “in your face” subjects. Rather, she skirts the edges of what is generally considered socially acceptable behavior.

Whatever her magic formula is, it is working! She never fails to captivate me. Like every other book of hers that I’ve read, ‘Love in Lingerie’ grabbed me and held on tight right to the very end. I was completely absorbed with the antics of Kate and Trey.

Kate and Trey meet when Kate is hired to turn Trey’s lingerie company around. Looking to leave a company where she had no possibility of advancement, Kate is ecstatic to be working for Trey’s company. The company is failing and Trey is at risk of losing everything that he’s worked so hard for.

Despite the fact that he is immediately attracted to Kate, Trey cannot risk losing her as an employee. He’s been down that road before and it ended disastrously. Regardless of the intense desire he feels, he knows that he has to focus on saving his company. He cannot risk chasing Kate away with his kinky tastes.

‘Love in Lingerie’ was a unique love story in many ways. Most notably, the main characters were not “together” for most of the book. In fact, they didn’t really explore a romantic relationship until about 75% of the way in.

In the meantime, there was plenty of sexual tension and heated exchanges. This was definitely a slow-burn story. By the time that Kate and Trey finally took the next step, I felt like I was going to combust myself! However, Ms. Torre proved to make it well worth the wait.

If you’re looking for a sweet, sexy and humorous read, then I highly recommend ‘Love in Lingerie’. I was completely sucked in by these two. Their back and forth, sexually charged interactions were absolutely addicting. I enjoyed every minute of this story!

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Review: “It’s Not About the Sex” My Ass, by Joanne Hanks and Steve Cano

“It’s Not About the Sex” My Ass by Joanne Hanks
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

After reading ‘The 19th Wife’, I wanted to know more about polygamy in religious cults like the FLDS. I ran across this book when searching for other books on the topic. Given the often disturbing and emotional nature of the topic, I was glad to see a book that seemed to approach the topic with humor. In that regard, this book really stood out from the rest.

I listened to the Audible version of this book and my biggest complaint is that it was too short to really explore the topic as in-depth as I wanted to. The author did a fantastic job of pointing out the downright laughable “prophecies” that were a part of her day-to-day life in the polygamist community that she lived in. Written after leaving the polygamist community and breaking away from the cult, she does a good job of pointing fun at her blind obedience and outright idiocy. I just wanted more.

This autobiographical account tells the story of Ms. Hanks, who entered into the polygamist cult as an adult, along with her husband. At that time, she was the only wife and she later helped her husband to “recruit” additional wives later on. Of course, they believed at the time that this was the will of God. Looking back, she recognizes it was really the will of horny guys that were able to craft “prophecies” to their liking.

I really liked the fact that the author did not try to portray herself as a victim, while painting her husband as the monster. Yes, he certainly “reaped the rewards” of plural marriage. However, they made a decision to enter into the polygamist lifestyle together, as consenting adults. Fools they may have been, but victims…no.

On the other hand, there were several things that I really struggled with while reading this book. First of all, I had trouble grasping that two well-educated adults raised outside of a polygamist community would ever be so naive. (He was a Chiropractor and she had a degree in Interior Design. Both had lived in “modern” cities and were exposed to “modern” ideas, as well as the condemnation of polygamist cults by the mainstream Mormon Church.)

Maybe I’m just too skeptical, but I call bullshit. My personal theory is that for whatever reason this woman felt compelled to humor her husband’s desire to have multiple wives. Maybe she was insecure. Maybe they were both closet perverts. I don’t know, but I don’t believe that these two adults actually bought into the religious cult BS.

That being said, I did appreciate the honesty of the author with regards to the ridiculous cult teachings. She also was forthcoming about the emotional toll that plural marriage takes on the wives and the disharmony it creates in a household. In my humble opinion, any woman that says that she is “okay” with hearing her husband have sex with his new, younger bride down the hall is either lying…or glad to be relieved of the chore because secretly she hates his guts. The author didn’t try to paint a rosy “I just love my sister wives” picture for readers and I was thankful for that.

The other thing that really bothered me about this book was that I was pretty appalled by the actions of the author and her husband. On some level, I wanted to relate to the woman and even feel bad for her as her husband took on more wives. However, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.

After all, she had been an integral part of the decision making process every step of the way. She even helped her husband select his second wife, who was a teenager at the time. While she griped about having to “raise” his second wife like she was another child in her home, I kept thinking “because she is, you sicko!”.

As far as I was concerned, she was as culpable as her husband. They preyed upon this young girl. Her husband may have been the dirty old guy that wanted to sleep with the teenager, but she facilitated it. She may have been 18 by the time the marriage was consummated, but it was sick. Just yuck!

Overall, this was a 3 star read for me. I would have liked more of an in-depth expose, but realize that this was just the account of one woman that lived in a polygamist community for several years. While this book was actually pretty humorous, I had trouble believing that these adults could have been so gullible. I couldn’t help but questions their true motivations for entering into such a taboo lifestyle. Nonetheless, I appreciate that the author points out many of the lies that seem readily apparent to most of us already. It goes to show that even intelligent individuals can be duped when it suits them.

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Review: Wonder (Wonder, #1), by R. J. Palacio

WonderWonder by R.J. Palacio
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow! I am so glad that I finally got around to listening to this story. ‘Wonder’ had been sitting on my TBR list for a really long time, but I had been waiting for a time to listen to it with my daughters. That time finally arrived last weekend, when we had to spend a full day in the car on a trip.

I had read many great reviews for this book, so I had really high hopes going into it. In fact, I was worried that I would be disappointed, as I often am with a book that is surrounded by so much hype. However, I can say that this book did not let me down in any way. In fact, it exceeded every expectation that I had. I absolutely loved this story!

‘Wonder’ tells the story of a young boy, August Pullman aka “Auggie”, who is going to begin attending school for the first time ever. Auggie has been homeschooled for years by his mother because he was born with severe facial deformities, requiring multiple operations over the course of his young life. Despite the myriad of surgeries that he has undergone, he still lives with significant facial disfigurement. Now, Auggie will be entering the fifth grade at Beecher Prep.

Told from multiple POVs, this book provides a thorough account of Auggie’s experiences. I was especially impressed with the raw honesty of his sister’s POV. Growing up with Auggie wasn’t easy, as she always came second to his needs. She struggled with resentment and guilt over having those feelings, as she truly loved her brother but craved the attention of her parents also.

Auggie’s POV was also brutally honest. He was well aware of how other people viewed him. Yet, no amount of awareness can make a child immune to the stares and cruel words. His story was heartbreaking, but inspiring.

It was also easy to relate to the POVs of others, including Jack, the boy who befriends Auggie at school. Although some of his actions were upsetting, he was only human. I had to remind myself that he was just a young boy, battling his own insecurities and trying to fit in at a very impressionable age. Even good people do bad things sometimes.

As a parent, I both admired and sympathized with Auggie’s mother. My heart went out to her. I could only imagine how difficult it would be to enroll your child into school, wanting to provide as normal a life as possible, while also wanting to shelter and protect him. I don’t know what I would’ve done in her shoes.

Not surprisingly, this was an incredibly emotional story. At times, it was downright depressing. However, I couldn’t help but fall in love with Auggie and his resilience. This story broke my heart, but it also inspired me.

Most importantly, this story will make you reflect on your views and behaviors. This story highlights the cruelty of people’s actions, bred from ignorance and fear. Never have I read a story that so effectively prompts readers to examine the impact of their actions and words. For children, this was a wonderful lesson in empathy.

This book prompted some thoughtful discussion with my daughters (5 and 10) about bullying and the “golden rule”. Although some of the story went over the head of my 5 year-old, who was primarily hung-up on the hilarity of the “farting nurse”, my 10 year-old didn’t miss a beat. I have no doubt that this story will stick with her and make her more considerate and empathetic toward other children.

‘Wonder’ is the type of book that should be required reading in schools and I’m glad to hear that it is in some schools already. Just like ‘The Diary of a Young Girl’ (Anne Frank’s Diary), this book is a book that guides you to be a better, more thoughtful, person. It is beautiful and engaging. No doubt about it, this book left it’s mark on me. I highly recommend this book to everyone, young and old!

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Review: Truth or Beard (Winston Brothers, #1), by Penny Reid

Truth or Beard (Winston Brothers, #1)Truth or Beard by Penny Reid
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve been meaning to get around to this series for quite a long time. Finally, I downloaded the audiobook and decided to find out what all the fuss was about surrounding these bearded brothers. I wasn’t disappointed.

In the first book in the series, readers/listeners are introduced to the Winston brothers. Listening to the Audible version, I couldn’t help but envision the men from the ‘Duck Dynasty’…which wasn’t exactly sexy. However, with time, I was able to overcome that and mold the brothers into sexier versions of bearded bliss.

Despite being rather over-the-top at times, each of the brothers stood out as being unique and loveable. They were definitely a quirky bunch, but very endearing. I think they might be my latest guilty pleasure.

Jessica James is the leading female character in this first book in the series. She is dying to get out and see the world, but her plans have been temporarily derailed. She’s returned to her hometown to earn enough money to pay off her student loans so that she can travel the world. Long-term relationships or any other commitment that would tie her down are not in her plans.

When she runs into the object of all her young fantasies, Beau Winston, she acts in an uncharacteristically passionate way. Nobody is more surprised than her to discover that her impromptu make-out session was actually with Beau’s twin brother, Duane, her childhood nemesis. She certainly wasn’t prepared for the jealousy and longing that she felt toward her one-time rival.

I enjoyed the progression of Duane and Jessica’s story, from stand-offish to inseparable. This was a sweet, heart-warming kind of story. I smiled and laughed at the personality quirks of the various characters throughout this story. There was just enough action and mystery to keep me engaged as well.

Eventually, everything works itself out. We get the HEA that we craved and are left feeling contented. This story can easily be read as a standalone, even though it is the first book in the series.

If you’re in the mood for a sweet, humorous, feel-good type of love story, then this is a great choice. I can see why so many of my friends have fallen in love with the Winston brothers. I will definitely continue this series. I look forward to seeing what the other brothers have in store for me.

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Review: Last Call (Cocktail, #4.5), by Alice Clayton

Last Call (Cocktail, #4.5)Last Call by Alice Clayton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It has been a long time since I read ‘Wallbanger’, but I was looking forward to seeing what the future held in store for Caroline and Simon. They stood out in my memory as being one of my favorite couples for their witty banter and humorous antics. Unfortunately, I think that I let too much time pass and the novelty has worn off.

Admittedly, I did skip ahead in this series. I never took the time to read the second, third or fourth books in the series, which were the spin-off stories of their friends. That proved to be somewhat important to fully enjoy this book. I thought that I could just skip the friends’ stories to get back to Simon and Caroline, I was wrong. Their friends and their relationships proved to me a significant part of this story.

Despite feeling lost for the first quarter or so of the book – totally my fault – I did enjoy this book as a whole. Once the focus shifted from the friends to Caroline and Simon, I found myself enjoying the tamer version of the couple that I remembered. The dynamics of their relationship were greatly changed, from adversarial to blissfully happy, but it was sweet.

All in all, it was a nice, sweet book. It had the feel of an extended epilogue for Simon, Caroline and their friends, providing closure and the HEAs that readers crave. There was nothing that ripped my heart out or made me feel intense emotions, but it was nice. Sometimes, you just need a nice, predictable read with a HEA. This book delivered on that account.

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Review: Capture (Elements of Chemistry, #3; Hypothesis, #1.3), by Penny Reid

Capture (Elements of Chemistry #3; Hypothesis, #1.3)Capture by Penny Reid
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In this conclusion to the ‘Elements of Chemistry’ series, we again find Martin and Kaitlyn separated. However, unlike the beginning of the second book, this time around the damage done to their relationship will not be repaired so easily. Deep hurt and betrayal have overshadowed what once was so good between these two.

Months after their break-up, Kaitlyn still cannot get over her heartache. Her life has changed drastically, as she made the decision to follow her dreams instead of trying to live up to other people’s expectations for her. Despite the positive changes she’s made in her life, Martin still haunts her.

When she runs into him unexpectedly at an event where she is performing, it all comes rushing back to her. Of course, it doesn’t help that he seems to be doing just fine. After that, the encounters become more and more frequent as Martin pushes his way back into her life.

Alternating between present and past, the pain of their break-up slowly comes to light. If you read the earlier books in the series, you knew how things ended between the two at the end of book 2. However, this book showcases the depth of the emotional pain and betrayal that Kaitlyn experienced. I thought that the alternating timeframes worked well for their story.

Just as Martin did what he needed to do to hold it together, so did Kaitlyn. Mainly, she just avoided all things Martin-related. She didn’t read any articles or news stories focused on his swift rise to success. She refused to hear anything about how he was doing or what he was up to. Out of sight, out of mind was her coping strategy.

The more time that the two spend together, the more clear it becomes that Kaitlyn is unaware of everything Martin has been doing while they were separated. Time and time again, hints that Kaitlyn is the one that broke Martin’s heart are dropped by friends and his business partner. Eventually, she’ll have to find out exactly what he’s been up to while they were apart. When she does, everything changes again.

Overall, this was a nice, sweet finale to this series. I enjoyed every minute of Martin and Kaitlyn’s story. It was fun, sweet and kept me smiling. If you’re looking for a light-hearted, humorous series, this is a fantastic choice.

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Review: Attraction (Elements of Chemistry, #1; Hypothesis, #1.1), by Penny Reid

Attraction (Elements of Chemistry #1; Hypothesis, #1.1)Attraction by Penny Reid
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a light-hearted, fun story that had me smiling from start to finish. I enjoyed every minute of this audiobook. I needed something kind of sweet and this was the perfect story.

Kaitlyn Parker is an introvert and a very quirky girl. She’s been matched as a lab partner with Martin Sandeke for 2 years. Despite the fact that they both come from families of extreme wealth and fame, the two couldn’t be more different on the surface. She’s the studious loner and he’s the resident manwhore.

The two have never spoken outside of the lab, until Kaitlyn overhears something that she shouldn’t have. When she hears the conniving plan of one of Martin’s supposed friends, she knows that she has to tell Martin what she’s overheard. She might think that Martin is a total “jerkface”, but she can’t stand by silently while somebody plans to drug him and have their way with him. That’s taking it too far.

When Kaitlyn approaches Martin to tell him about what she heard, the dynamics of their relationship changes immediately. Soon the two are engaged in a whirlwind romance. Martin convinces Kaitlyn to go away to his island home with him and some friends for a week. Let the fun begin!

One minute they’re hot. The next they’re cold. Both of them have some definite personality quirks and social hang-ups to contend with. Together, they’re absolutely hilarious. Kaitlyn’s inner monologue was enough to keep me in stitches. That girl was too funny!

Martin had plenty of selfish moments, which made for some tense moments. He was certainly used to getting exactly what he wanted, when he wanted it. Kaitlyn was good for him in that regard. She was the first woman that didn’t just throw herself at his feet.

Of course, this is only the first serial installment in the ‘Elements of Chemistry’ series. Accordingly, you can expect a cliffhanger ending that will leave you wanting the next serial immediately. Luckily, I waited until they were all released. So, I didn’t have to wait before diving into the next one.

This was a great, short, and absolutely adorable audiobook. It was sweet and very funny. The narration was great as well. It was a nice change of pace and I was able to jump right into the next one immediately.

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Review: Kulti, by Mariana Zapata

KultiKulti by Mariana Zapata
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve had this book sitting on my TBR for a long time. I had put off reading it for a few reasons, but the most notable reasons being that: 1) I am not a sports fan – at all- and I was worried I wouldn’t enjoy it since this story was centered on two athletes; and 2) I was worried that I’d be disappointed after reading so many fantastic reviews for this book. Now that I’ve read it, I can say that neither of those concerns ended up coming to fruition.

I listened to the Audible version of this book and I thought that it was fabulous. I loved the humor and the wittiness of the heroine, Sal Casillas. Kulti was a real piece of work at times and I loved that Sal wasn’t afraid to call him out on his assholery. (Yep! I’m making that a word.)

Sal and Kulti were a great pair. I spent a lot of time laughing my butt off at Sal’s inner monologue. She was just so “human” that it was hard not to love her.

On the other hand, Reiner Kulti was an acquired taste. He was the polar opposite of the easy-going Sal. He was wound tight, closed-off and outright rude for most of this book. However, little by little, a softer side of him was revealed.

To say that this book was a slow-burn is putting it mildly. This story seemed to go on forever. I enjoyed it immensely, but I did think that it could have been trimmed down a little.

The only other thing that I would’ve changed was the ending. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the way everything played out. I just wanted more. It took so long for Sal and Kulti to get their HEA and after all the time spent describing every detail of every game, I felt like more time should’ve been dedicated to them as a couple. After all, I waited long enough to get there.

Everything considered, I thought that this was a fantastic story. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that all of my worries had been completely misplaced. I enjoyed every minute of this book. If you’ve been putting it off like I did, don’t.

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Review: Addicted to Sin (Hard Love Romance, #1), by Monica James

Addicted to Sin (Hard Love Romance, #1)Addicted to Sin by Monica James
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

***I was provided with a complimentary ARC of this book by the publisher, through netgalley.com, in exchange for honest feedback.***

Wow! This book blew me away! It was a little slow to get started for me, but once it picked up, I couldn’t tear myself away from it. I’m still trying to pinpoint how I feel about it. I haven’t read a book that left me feeling so conflicted in quite some time. I’m dying to get my hands on the next book.

I guess I’ll start out by telling you a little about Dixon. He’s got that all-male hotness that draws you in and leaves you wanting more. As a Psychiatrist, it’s a miracle he hasn’t had his medical license revoked for sleeping with his patients. However, that unsavory tidbit just seems to up his forbidden, bad-boy appeal. He makes no apologies for who he is…and he knows he’s an ass.

Although, we get glimpses of his softer side as well. His manwhoring ways were triggered by his ex-fiancées betrayal with his then best friend. It was all downhill for him after that. He literally threw caution to the wind and lost himself between as many female thighs as he could get to spread for him. It wasn’t pretty.

He soon finds himself drawn to two women that are polar opposites. One appeals to his baser needs only, while the other consumes him wholly. A man with serious trust issues, he doesn’t always make the logical, or wise, choice. He’s afraid to lose himself in love again, only to be crushed.

He keeps the sexually aggressive Juliet around as a repeat booty-call. She’s always interested and always available. He doesn’t care to know much about her, beyond the fact that she is highly skilled in the sack, but she’s easy and keeping her around saves him the effort of having to hunt for other willing women.

Meanwhile, he just can’t seem to shake his feelings for the captivating Madison. He knows that she’s the kind of girl that he could get lost in and he’s afraid to go there again. Yet, no matter how many times he screws up, fate seems to keep throwing these two back together again.

All the while, Dixon has his two friends trying to steer him in the right direction. At least, their hearts were in the right place even when they steered him wrong. Together, these three were absolutely hilarious. I laughed so hard at their banter that I had tears in my eyes. It really helped to keep the story from getting too emotional or sad at times.

Eventually, Dixon seems to get his head on straight and things with him and Madison are finally coming together. Nothing is ever that easy though, so don’t think you’ll get to bask in those warm fuzzier for long. Juliet really is a super-bitch of epic proportions and she’s not ready to take her claws out of Dixon just yet.

Although I had guessed one of the twists fairly early on, it in no way prepared me for everything that transpired in the last 5 – 10% of this book. Holy hell! Ms. James turned my world upside down! I feel completely gutted and I am dying to see where this story will go from here.

The only negative point, was that there were a fair amount of typos, misplaced words, etc. However, I did read an ARC, so many of these errors will likely be corrected in the published editions. Otherwise, I have nothing but positive things to say about this book. It was awesome!

As an aside, this book has now been published under the title ‘Dirty Dix’. I am currently reading an ARC for the second part of this story, but almost missed it due to the new title.

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Review: The Room Mate (Roommates, #1), by Kendall Ryan

The Room MateThe Room Mate by Kendall Ryan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

***I was provided an ARC of this book in exchange for honest feedback.***

If you’re in the mood for something heartwarming and fun, ‘The Room Mate’ is a fantastic choice. It was just the kind of light-hearted, sweet story that I needed to balance out all of the darker stories that I usually gravitate toward. It was a sentimental, feel-good romance that was highly enjoyable.

I have to admit that I was a little skeptical after reading the blurb. The idea of Cannon being some sex-god that women became obsessed with after getting a taste of what he could do between the sheets was a little far-fetched for me. My response was something along the lines of “Oh, please!”

That being said, I’m glad that I didn’t let that initial impression scare me away. This ended up being a great book. I found myself laughing at the sexually-charged banter between Cannon and Paige. It was just such a fun read.

The story begins with Cannon being evicted from his apartment after an incident with his crazy ex-girlfriend. A busy medical student, he doesn’t have the time to find another apartment. Since he’ll likely be moving in two short months to begin a residency, he can’t commit to a new lease either.

Paige is the best friend of Cannon’s sister. When she is contacted by her best friend, who asks her to let Cannon stay with her for awhile, Paige reluctantly agrees. She has known Cannon since they were children and is willing to sacrifice a couple of months of comfort to help out her bestie.

Only, Cannon is no longer the nerdy boy that Paige remembers from her childhood. He has grown into a sexy, successful man that she can’t keep her eyes off of. The sexual chemistry between the two is off the charts right from the start. A few chance encounters only serve to heighten the sexual tension between the two.

It doesn’t take long for their curiosity and lust to win out. It was bound to happen and it did. If they thought that their attraction was something that would wane once they got a taste, they were wrong.

Despite their intense chemistry and the “rightness” of them together, there is plenty of reasons whey these two should not be together. Paige’s friendship with Cannon’s sister is a huge deterrent. Cannon’s career is another. The two decide to keep their relationship casual and hidden.

When a series of tragic events unfold, their relationship is put to the test. Emotions run high and the poor decisions pile up. In no time at all, whatever they had been building seems to have disintegrated.

This book is a standalone that is part of the ‘Roommates’ series. All in all, I thought that this was a fantastic read. It was fun and light-hearted. This is one to save for a day when you need a unicorns and rainbows kind of story. Ms. Ryan delivers the emotional connection and angst that you need, as well as a HEA that will leave you feeling satisfied.

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