Monthly Mini Review
Most Valuable Playboy by Lauren Blakely, narrated by Zachary Webber – B Lauren Blakely writes reliably good, fun and sexy contemporary romance and I usually enjoy them on audio. Zachary Webber has improved significantly since he first started narrating and he was pretty good to start with. Blakely gets some of the best narrators for her books. Perhaps it’s her superpower?
Most Valuable Playboy is one entirely from the hero’s POV and that is pretty much catnip to me anyway as a hero-centric reader/listener. And I do have a soft spot for fake relationship, best friend’s little sister and friends to lovers tropes, all of which are in play here.
Cooper is the starting quarterback for the San Francisco Renegades, a fictional NFL team. He’s up for contract renewal and unfortunately the team owner’s sister is hitting on him without mercy. He is not interested but he doesn’t want to rock the boat by complaining about the sexual harassment he’s receiving for fear of ruining his chances to stay with his beloved team. So his good friend Violet steps up and helps him out. Only the pretense reveals real feelings to Cooper, who then has a whole nother set of problems. His best buddy is very frowny about the whole thing and what if Violet doesn’t feel the same way?
I’m over at Dear Author with a review of It Takes Two by Jenny Holiday. Witty, fun and sexy contemporary.
Why I read it: My friend Caz recommended this series to me.
What it’s about: (from Goodreads) Gideon Frayne has spent his whole working life as a policeman in the village of Dark on Bodmin Moor. It’s not life in the fast lane, but he takes it very seriously, and his first missing-child case is eating him alive. When his own boss sends in a psychic to help with the case, he’s gutted – he’s a level-headed copper who doesn’t believe in such things, and he can’t help but think that the arrival of clairvoyant Lee Tyack is a comment on his failure to find the little girl.
But Lee is hard to hate, no matter how Gideon tries. At first Lee’s insights into the case make no sense, but he seems to have a window straight into Gideon’s heart. Son of a Methodist minister, raised in a tiny Cornish village, Gideon has hidden his sexuality for years. It’s cost him one lover, and he can’t believe it when this green-eyed newcomer stirs up old feelings and starts to exert a powerful force of attraction.
Gideon and Lee begin to work together on the case. But there are malignant forces at work in the sleepy little village of Dark, and not only human ones – Gideon is starting to wonder, against all common sense, if there might be some truth in the terrifying legend of the Bodmin Beast after all. As a misty Halloween night consumes the moor, Gideon must race against time to save not only the lost child but the man who’s begun to restore his faith in his own heart.
What worked for me (and what didn’t): I enjoyed the story very much. It was a short (novella-length) audio and, considering that the main characters had not met before it began, it managed to sell me on the budding relationship between Gideon and Lee. There is a bit of insta-lust (nothing wrong with that) and perhaps one or two narrative jumps which suprised me just a little in the romantic story but nothing I wasn’t able to go with fairly easily. Gideon’s last relationship broke down because he was closeted. It’s clear that he has enough regret about that and enough time had passed that when Lee bobs up in his life, Gideon wasn’t likely to let that happen again. So it made sense to me.
I’m over at AudioGals with a review of Riptide by Skye Jordan, narrated by Piper Goodeve. Really interesting take on the secret baby trope – nobody is the villain here.
Why I read it: I bought this one as soon as I knew it was available because of course.
What it’s about: (from Goodreads) As a Rock Chick, Shirleen Jackson lived through all the kidnappings and explosions. Along the way, she also watched the dramatic love stories that came with those rides unfold.
But long ago, Shirleen made her choice. It affected who she was and would always be. She decided to settle for what she had and not want more. She had good friends. She was raising two fine young men who weren’t hers, but she loved them anyway.
She was good.
And then Moses Richardson crashed into her life, literally… and deliberately.
Moses has different ideas about Shirleen. He’s more interested in the Shirleen of now, mostly because she’s interesting. And funny. And loyal. Smart. Beautiful.
But Moses has a big challenge on his hands.
He has to convince Shirleen of all that.
And then convince her she deserves to have more.
What worked for me (and what didn’t): I’ve come to expect kidnappings in Rock Chick books but there are none in Rock Chick Reborn. Perhaps that’s a good thing! In some ways, the book is fan service. Certainly those who have no familiarity with the series would struggle to understand who everyone is and how they came to be where they are when the story begins. That’s not a criticism. Fan service isn’t a pejorative. And, the Rock Chick books have a very large fan base, many of whom were crying out for Shirleen to get her own HEA. Indeed, from the acknowledgements it seems that parts of the book were crowd-sourced (the hero’s name for example) so I think it’s explicit that this is a book for fans.
I’m over at Dear Author with a review of The One You Can’t Forget by Roni Loren. There was one thing that really bugged me but otherwise the book was great.