Beard with Me

Beard with Me (Winston Brothers #6) by Penny Reid: Review by Cupcake

Beard with Me (Winston Brothers, #5.5)

Blurb:

‘Beard With Me’ is the origin story of Billy Winston and Scarlet St. Claire (aka Claire McClure) and is just the beginning of their epic love story.

No one is better at surviving than Scarlet St. Claire and making the best out of circumstances beyond her control is Scarlet’s specialty. In an apocalyptic situation, she’d be the last person on earth, hermitting like a pro, singing along to her CD Walkman, and dancing like no one is watching.

Scarlet is clever, Scarlet is careful, and Scarlet is smart . . . except when it comes to Billy Winston.

No one is better at fighting than Billy Winston and raging against his circumstances—because nothing is beyond his control—is Billy’s specialty. In an apocalyptic situation, he’d be the first person on earth to lead others to safety, overcome catastrophe, or die trying.

Billy is fearless, Billy is disciplined, and Billy is honorable . . . except when it comes to Scarlet St. Claire.

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4 Stars

God gave us free will so that we’ll stumble and learn how to pick ourselves back up. But He also gave us folks who love us, to clear away the obstacles before we trip and fall.</b

Let’s just start with the obvious, this is the prequel to the long, long, looooonnnnnggggg awaited Billy-n-Claire HEA that everyone and their cousin has been waiting for since forever. We all know they have a small ocean’s worth of water under their bridge and this book gives insight into where and how all that water got there.

If you’ve not read the series, this is a fantastic place to start, actually, because not only does it cover Billy and Scarlet/Claire but all of the Winston brothers are featured to varying degrees from Cletus and his… Cletusness to the twins and their yin/yang thing to Roscoe and his preciousness.

However, it is not the easiest book to read. Scarlet and Billy have monstrous fathers who play pivotal roles in their development. I knew that but I did not know the details of Scarlet’s backstory, most of which is awful. So, if you’re triggered by abuse this might not be the best read for you.

On the other hand, Billy’s backstory didn’t surprise me and probably won’t surprise fans of the series. He’s responsible, altruistic, loyal and intense through circumstances beyond his control foisted upon him at a young age. Case in point:

I redoubled my resolve. She deserved someone looking out for her first, someone who’d set aside selfishness for her sake. So, yeah, I would keep her safe, even if it meant sending her away.

My heart broke (again) for both of them and I am beyond ready for them to be exceedingly selfish when it comes to each other. Enough with the doing the right thing and always putting others first nonsense.

It’s your time, #Clairilly! Carpe diem!

My only quibble is the lack of a more comprehensive backstory; the whole thing takes place in 2003 when they are 14 and 16. They fall in love in a week which was a surprise to both of them and extremely gratifying for me to read. But I know there are more heartbreaks, more disappointments, more sacrifices and more missed or wasted opportunities and I wish a couple of them would have been included as well.

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. It applied to life and hopes and dreams and expectations too.

Needless to say, I would like Beard Necessities and my equal and opposite reaction, like, yesterday. I find Green Valley extremely comforting even when things are tense so while it might seem counterproductive to long for the final installment (a) I will always have this series and (b) there are not one but TWO spinoffs in the works!!! One of which involves Cletus and Jennifer and undoubtedly some shenanigans so I’m owning my greediness. I’m ready to soak in a tub filled with Billy and Claire’s happy happy joy joy until my fingers get pruny.

Recommended with the caveat mentioned above.

An ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review.

Superfan

Superfan (Brooklyn, #3) by Sarina Bowen: Review by Cupcake

Superfan (Brooklyn, #3)

Blurb:

Sometimes lady luck shakes your hand, and sometimes she smacks your face. Sometimes she does both on the same day.

Three years ago I met the most amazing girl in the world. We were both down on our luck. Then I got that call—the one that tells you to get your buns on a plane to go meet your destiny.

But the girl was left behind. I didn’t have her phone number, and she didn’t know my real name.

While I became a professional hockey player, she became a superstar, with platinum records and legions of fans. And a slick, music producer boyfriend who treated her badly.

But fate wasn’t done with us yet. When Delilah turns up at a hockey game, I can’t resist making contact. The internet swoons when I ask her out on a date.

She might not remember me. But her jerkface ex does. He’ll do anything to keep us apart.

Good thing athletes never give up. This time I’m playing for keeps.

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3 Stars

Truth.

I had to think on this one a few days primarily because there’s nothing wrong with it other than it not being super memorable.

While reading Superfan I was invested in Silas and Delilah’s journey. I wanted them to find a way to navigate the obstacles both of their careers inherently pose. I was rooting for them but when it happened I found myself thinking, (a) that was easier than I envisioned it being and (b) how many Bruisers are going to end up with their sweethearts in the same building in Brooklyn?

Quibbles aside, Superfan is extremely readable, something I’ve come to expect with SB’s writes. It’s a second chance romance that’s packed with good feels and two likable protagonists. It also fulfilled my desire to peek in on previous couples and how their coupletry is progressing, which is something I find comforting.

Silas, simply put, is the guy you marry. He’s caring without being overbearing. He’s protective without sliding into alphaholedom. He’s generous both in and out of the bedroom and, mostly importantly, he’s crazy about Delilah; his most fervent desire is to share his life with her. In short, he will melt reproductive organs far and wide.

Delilah is a bit guarded having been burned multiple times in her life but the bottom line is she too is ass over teakettle when it comes to a certain hockey player. But she’s also trying to break into the next level within the music industry and doesn’t want to rely on Silas for the wrong reasons. I appreciated her independent spirit as well as the details regarding the music biz that SB included.

Their romance largely evolves smoothly. Told in flashbacks from both of their perspectives that illustrated their instantaneous attraction which I found touching. Maybe their romance could’ve done with a bit more conflict but that would’ve detracted from the fluffy. Plus, I think the storyline involving Delilah’s wanker of an ex was supposed to satisfy the conflict quotient of the romance algorithm.

Special shout out goes to Mr. Muscles who referred to Silas as a unicorn which, frankly, deserves a bajillion stars in and of itself. I sincerely hope we’ve not seen the last of him because I soooooooo want that gentle giant to find a unicorn of his very own.

I’m looking forward to whomever comes next in this series and would recommend Superfan to fans of the series or anyone in need of a feel good read.

An ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review.

Fireworks

Fireworks (True North, #6) by Sarina Bowen: Review by Cupcake

Fireworks (True North, #6)

Blurb:

Skye Copeland is on paid leave from her broadcasting job after accidentally drawing a pecker on the traffic map.

Let that sink in. Like it’s her fault the traffic pattern that day created a perfect schlong?

Skye isn’t laughing. She needs this job. And that’s the only reason she’s agreed to chase down a story in her least favorite place—that hell on earth known as Vermont.

A quick trip. In and out. Much like – never mind. Skye can sneak into the town that once tried to break her, get the story and get back into the good graces of her producer. Easy peasy.

Except things go sideways even as she sets foot over the county line. Her step-sister is on the run from a violent drug dealer. And the cop on the case is none other than Benito Rossi, the man who broke her teenage heart.

His dark brown eyes still tear her apart. And even as she steels herself to finally tell him off after twelve years, the old fireworks are still there.

Things are about to go boom.

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3 Stars

What I like so much about this series, plain and simple, is the Shipleys. The further removed from the Shipleys it gets, I’ve noticed my interest usually wanes. The problem is, we’re running out of Shipleys.

Bowen’s writing style is engaging and infinitely readable, as always. I mostly like Benito; he has his alphahole moments but he clearly worships the ground Skylar walks on and is upfront about it. Devotion and forthrightness are always good character traits in my book. I like Skylar. Benito and Skylar together, though, lacked the spark I’ve come to expect from Bowen. The razzle dazzle wasn’t there for me.

They have a backstory beginning when she was 16 and he 18 told in flashbacks that, for me, I found unnecessary. I’m well aware of the teenage propensity to turn molehills into mountains and that coupled with high intensity emotions can lead to disaster. But of all the people whose word you’re going to take, how in the sam hell did Jimmy Gage make the list? In twelve years it never once occurred to her to verify? And she’s a journalist?

That I found a little unbelievable which, obviously, dovetailed into the second chance trope not working well for me. The opportunity to reconcile not just with Benito but with Colebury and Zara in particular, I did like. I’m just sad that it took twelve years to transpire.

I’ve mentioned before how much I appreciate Bowen’s diligent efforts to keep the opioid epidemic and its catastrophic effects part of this series. Here we have Benito who’s in law enforcement and Skylar’s former stepsister is tangentially involved in the investigation which is what brings Skylar back to Colebury. It’s a fairly intense subplot with the nefarious Jimmy Gage as the centerpiece, but I think it overtook the romance plotline. I liked the resolution and Skylar’s role in it, though.

Colebury is as charming and cozy as ever which is part of what keeps bringing me back to this series and I always like catching up with its residents. In a nutshell, Fireworks is a nice addition to the series, but not a favorite of mine.

Copy provided for honest review.

Boy Toy (Man Hands, #3)

Boy Toy by Sarina Bowen & Tanya Eby: Review by Cupcake

Boy Toy (Man Hands, #3)

Blurb:

A brand new romantic comedy from your favorite snort-laughing duo!

Liam

The moment Sadie Matthews walks through the daycare center door, I feel my world tilt in her direction. Again. I fell for her when I was fourteen, and I’m still not over her. Problem: she still thinks of me as a teen she used to babysit. But I’ve learned a few things about pleasing a woman in the last fifteen years. I can’t wait to show her how good it could be. I need to move quickly before I lose her again. This is more than a game to me, but I still plan to win.

Sadie

I’ve just survived the worst year of my life. As a single mom of twin toddlers, I don’t have time for a man. I barely have time to finish a thought. Who knew that Liam McAllister would grow up to be so devastating? He’s everything my husband was not: tall, built, and willing to have a tea party with my girls.

I can’t possibly get involved with him. He’s too young for me. Too handsome. But he’s so persuasive…

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4.5 stars

Boy Toy is rom com at its finest.

I barely even made it to 20% and I had already cackled, chortled and chuckled.

Sadie is final member of this little sisterhood to find her HEA and the one I identified the most with. She’s kind of a hippie chick, loves pillows and works in the mental health field. She’s getting her life back together after her butt lick of a husband left her shortly after she gave birth to their twin daughters. Decker is a butt lick. Trust me.

She’s reluctantly trying to get her groove back when she runs into a blast from the past: Liam.

She was hired to babysit Liam’s younger siblings and left an impression on 14 yr old Liam. I know this because 14 yr old Liam has a tendency to interject thoughts into 29 yr old Liam’s psyche to hilarious effect.

Liam is all grown up now and makes Sadie a wee bit drooly with his six pack abs and penchant for running shirtless. To add to the ovary explodingness, he’s working towards his Ph.D. in childhood development at the girls’ daycare. He’s really great with the girls and they adore him. There were so many moments where my heart gave a squeeze: when Amy calls him Wiam, when he gave Kate the golden Band-Aid. So adorable! True, he used his chocolate chip smiley face pancake magic too woo them but he then proceeded to prove himself worthy of their adoration time and time again. Not only that but any guy who will hold your hair while you praise the porcelain god is deserving of a little adoration, in my opinion.

So, yeah, I liked Liam. More importantly, I loved Liam and Sadie together.

There’s something about this known-each-other-for-years/unrequited to requited trope that always appeals to me and Boy Toy is another to add to the collection. I can see it becoming a comfort read.

Both Sadie and Liam came across as genuine. Both had depth with the addition of a little water under the bridge that fleshed them out. Both do a pretty good job of communicating their needs excepting the very brief hiccup that was needed for Sadie to gain clarity. The level of attraction that exists between them was palpable but maybe more important than anything else, they have fun together. They fit together regardless of the 6 yr age difference between them. They make time for each other and trust one another making their future a foregone conclusion to my mind.

There is a teeny tiny sliver of hurt/comfort as Sadie’s ex did a number on her self-image but in the face of Liam’s overwhelming desire that negative self-image doesn’t stand a chance. If bossy in the bedroom appeals to you, you’ll enjoy the sexy times.

There are a plethora of comedic moments but Kate and Amy stole the show. I was laughing so hard at Kate at the big fancy party that I had to put my kindle down. Because I couldn’t see it! The kid is a firecracker and her antics are side-splitting.

I sure do hope these two authors continue to work together because they have some mojo that creates comedy gold. This and Man Hands are the funniest books I’ve read this year, so I hope the hits keep coming. Maybe a spinoff involving Sadie and Liam’s siblings? Or a follow up to this one?

Recommend this book and this series to fans of the rom-com and anyone who likes a sweet romance that’s a little bit spicy and a whole lot funny.

An ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review.

Dr. Strange Beard (Winston Brothers #5)

Dr. Strange Beard by Penny Reid: Review by Cupcake

Dr. Strange Beard (Winston Brothers, #5)
Blurb:

Hunches, horse races, and heartbreak

Ten years after Simone Payton broke his heart, all Roscoe Winston wants is a doughnut. He’d also like to forget her entirely, but that’s never going to happen. Roscoe remembers everything—every look, every word, every single unrequited second—and the last thing he needs is another memory of Simone.

Unfortunately, after one chance encounter, Simone keeps popping up everywhere he happens to be . . .

Ten years after Roscoe Winston dropped out of her life, all Simone Payton wants is to exploit him. She’d also like some answers from her former best friend about why he ghosted her, but if she never gets those answers, that’s a-okay. Simone let go of the past a long time ago. Seriously, she has. She totally, totally has. She is definitely not still thinking about Roscoe. Nope. She’s more than happy to forget he exists.

But first, she needs just one teeny-tiny favor . . .

Dr. Strange Beard is a full-length romantic comedy novel, can be read as a stand-alone, and is the fifth book in the USA TODAY bestselling Winston Brothers series.

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4.25 Stars

I love this series.

I love Green Valley. I love the Southerness of both the town and the people in it.

And I love the Winstons.

Some more than others. I’m looking at you, Cletus. I always look forward to catching up with everyone whenever a new Beard book comes out. There is a coziness about them and simply put, they make me feel good. For me, there’s no higher compliment than that.

Dr. Strange Beard is Roscoe’s book. Roscoe is the youngest of the Winston clan, the quiet one and a vet. Truthfully, I was hoping for more puppies; there is one scene that will likely leave anyone with ovaries deceased but there can never be too many puppies is all I’m saying. Or dogs. Or any cute animals. I’m not picky.

Roscoe has an eidetic situational memory that sounds like more of curse than a blessing. He remembers people after only meeting them once. He remembers the stories they tell him verbatim. He remembers every conversation he’s ever had complete with all the sense memories which makes him an exceptional storyteller, but also brings with it the inability to “unfeel” painful memories. Roscoe’s memories of his and Simone’s time together as kids pulled at my heartstrings and fleshed out their friends to lovers/unrequited to requited love story.

Roscoe’s been hopelessly in love with Simone Payton since forever. They grew up together as best friends, did everything together, including their first kiss. At 16, when Roscoe finally worked up the courage to tell her that she was it for him, she was drunk and not only didn’t reciprocate his feelings but hurt him. He literally could not forget it, reliving that pain over and over again every time he saw her was unbearable so he ghosted her.

For 10 years.

Simone eventually moved on but she never forgot nor did she ever understand what happened to make Roscoe leave her, because she didn’t remember his declaration. Back in Green Valley for work puts her on a collision course toward Roscoe. Of course events transpire that make Roscoe the easiest conduit to achieve her goal, because of course they do.

The Iron Wraiths plot line has been ongoing throughout the series and it is starting to come to a head, so expect a significant amount of the narrative to involve Darrell and the Iron Wraiths.

Simone is scrappy, cunning and hilarious. I was automatically drawn to her when she let loose with Cletus being “almost” as brilliant as she is. WHAT THE WHAT WHAT?!?!? CLETUS???? My Cletus??? Who some may call diabolically-oh alright, pathologically. Tomato, to-mah-to.-intelligent? ALMOST???? Sputtering ensued. She is smart and charming so she’s got Cletus there, and she can hold her own against him, but let’s face it Cletus is in a class by himself.

Being inside Simone’s head was an experience I’ll not soon forget. I don’t fully understand how she got this bee in her bonnet that she was never going to fall in love or get married but she did. She’s set on being an independent woman who will be self-reliant. Except… she can’t seem to get Roscoe Winston out of her head, or as she says, she likes him against her will. 😂 She zinged me several times but when she busted out with her scientific theories on sex I snorted then slow clapped. I’d pay good money to go to that “scientific” seminar. Simone is yet another female character in this series that I both respect and admire, that I can relate to.

Stories that utilize the friends since childhood to lovers trope always resonate with me and Dr. Strange Beard is no exception. However, what made this one special was Roscoe’s singleminded devotion to Simone even when they were apart. He’s only ever loved her and everyone knows it. Literally, everyone in Green Valley knows it and is rooting for them. I loved how much Simone’s parents loved him, how his family loved her and how oblivious they both are to their silent cheering section.

They’ve hurt each other but the love is still there just beneath the surface; they just need to tap into it. Expect UST. Expect heartwarming moments. Expect a few sexy moments too. Expect to be moved. Expect a few surprises. But more than anything, expect to feel the chemistry between them. They are crazy about each other and how they come to accept and embrace those feelings is what I’ll remember most about this book.

Ordinarily I don’t mention race in my reviews but Penny Reid reframed something for me and I feel that needs to be acknowledged and that I should thank her for it. That coupled with the RWA situation I think merits a mention at minimum. I also think she deserves credit for the research she did as it was obvious that she put time and energy into developing these characters. I feel like this is a hallmark of hers that maybe doesn’t get acknowledged enough and is instrumental in making these characters memorable as well as three-dimensional.

Recommend to fans of friends to lovers, unrequited love being requited and anyone who loves a good romance.

Now the wait begins for Billy’s book. The good lord willing Cletus will finally, FINALLY get to deploy the armadillo plan!

An ARC was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Speakeasy (True North #5)

Speakeasy (True North #5) by Sarina Bowen: Review by Cupcake

Speakeasy (True North, #5)

Blurb:

Sometimes you fall for Mr. Right. And sometimes for Mr. Right Now…
May

Did you hear the one about the girl who walks into a bar and catches her live-in lover kissing someone else? No? You’re the only one in town who missed it.
Luckily Alec is there to wrap me up in strong arms and carry me out the door before things get too ugly. And that’s not all Alec is good at. Our unexpected chemistry makes him the perfect rebound guy.
Alec
I should know better than to hook up with my rival’s little sister, but the fiery look in May’s eyes really turns my crank. She needs cheering up, and I’m just the guy for the job.
It’s not like I’ll fall in love. Not even after a string of scorching hot trysts, and the realization that we’re good at the same things: wild nights and familial disappointment. I don’t do love, never have, never will. So this is the perfect arrangement, for both of us.
Nobody would approve, but nobody has to know…

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ALL THE STARS!!!!!!!!!!

True story. When I discovered that this one wasn’t going to feature Roderick and Kieran I had a sad, because something is up with those two! But I soldiered on and guess what happened?

I fell in love with this book! I might even like this better than Bittersweet! Bold statement I know, but this book filled up my love tank to bursting.

And now I’m going to squee. A lot. So brace yourselves.

This series always feels like coming home. I love the atmosphere in this sleepy little Vermont town called Tuxbury that SB has created. I love the Shipleys and look forward to catching up with them every time a new book comes out. Tuxbury is really more of an extended family than made up of merely neighbors. They love their craft beers, baked goods, whatever Audrey cooks up in the Shipley kitchen for Thursday dinner, organic farming and the sense of community that pervades the True North series are what make it special for me.

May is the oldest Shipley daughter. She calls herself a hot mess for many reasons; she’s an alcoholic, made mistakes aplenty and she generally feels like she’s always fucking something up. In short, no one is harder on May than May. She’s bisexual and been in love with her best friend Lark for years, but Lark does not reciprocate her feels. She actually went and fell for the nicest of nice guys Zach in Keepsake. That probably sent May into a bad “rebound” relationship with Daniela. Who is a bitch. A controlling, abusive and awful bitch.

Coming home from work one night May spots Daniela’s car at The Gin Mill and in an effort to be a nice girlfriend goes in and finds her putting on a show in a booth. With her ex. Who is also awful. Alec, The Gin Mill’s proprietor, intervenes before blood is shed. Good thing since I’m guessing the Vermont Bar Association would frown upon one of its members being charged with assault.

Alec Rossi is the boy your momma always told you to stay away from. He’s made a lifestyle out of partying. He’s the fun guy that found a way to hold a kegger in high school. Every weekend. He’s allergic to relationships and commitment, an allergy which has earned him a rep as a sex wizard. The ladies are never in short supply. Oozing charisma with an aura of laid back that borders on zen makes him VERY popular. He’s also a Rossi. There’s been bad blood between the Shipleys and Rossis since forever, so there’s a certain Romeo and Juliet vibe about Speakeasy that’s extremely appealing. There’s something sexy about sneaking around, isn’t there? Adds to the excitement or something.

Naturally both of these characters have more depth than they believe themselves to have. Both are well constructed and infinitely likable. The banter between them put a smile on my face and kept it there for the majority of the book.

They have sizzling chemistry and embark on a friends with bennies relationship which of course segues into deeper feelings. They both have baggage but that baggage felt genuine, honest. I never felt that mountains were being made out of molehills or that their angst was contrived. As I watched them fall in love I could see how well they compliment one another which is guaranteed to make me swoon.

May’s addiction is still very much a part of her life and isn’t downplayed. I wouldn’t say that I enjoy reading about addiction but if it’s going to be integral to the character then I applaud when it’s portrayed authentically and SB not only did that for May but she again addressed the opioid epidemic that’s plagued the northeast for several years now and is now spreading like wildfire through the rest of the country.

May’s bisexuality wasn’t sidestepped either. She truly believed that her future lay with another woman but once she realizes that she’s fallen for Alec she doesn’t hold back. She fully commits to him and the possibilities of a future with him, but it’s made clear that doing so doesn’t make her any less bisexual.

The fact that Alec isn’t intimidated by her bisexuality and is prone to “perving” on her lesbian fantasies made me adore him. Well, that and that he’s not afraid to show emotion. He wears his heart on his sleeve and is honest with both himself and May where his feelings are concerned. He’s a refreshingly honest male character who is alpha in many ways without being an alpha-hole. As much as he likes to believe he’s the antithesis of Griff, I noticed a lot of similarities between them. Alec’s just not as grumpy.

 

Making her happy makes me happy.

The backdrop of their love story is The Gin Mill and its future. It’s Alec’s baby and he has designs on expanding, just not the capital to do it. The way this storyline evolved put May and Alec’s connection front and center. It also showcased what makes me love the Shipleys and this little town so much. It made me a little verklempt a couple times to see it unfold. Maybe it was a little “too easy” but I do not even care. Not. One. Care. It was perfect to me in every single way and I can’t wait to reread it.

I have nothing else to say on this long and rambling road other than I LOVE GRANDPA SHIPLEY AND HIS OLD SCHOOL WORDS! Can’t wait to catch up with everyone in the next installment *side mouths* which I’m rully hoping is about Kieran and Roderick. Please don’t make me beg, SB.

An ARC was provided.

Back in the Game

Back in the Game by Meghan Quinn: Review by Cupcake

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Blurb:

Single dad and hockey star, Calder Weiss has put his love life on the back burner for the past five years, raising his daughter and keeping up with the demands of his profession.
But all that changes the minute Rachel Perry runs into him in the most unlikely of places, right outside the men’s bathroom. Vibrant and enchanting, she captures his attention, making it impossible for him to walk away without scoring her number.
Their connection is immediate, their attraction palpable, and their relationship undeniable. But Rachel isn’t the only girl in Calder’s life which scares him, because Calder’s daughter already lost her mother. He doesn’t want Shea to lose someone close to her again, making Rachel’s task of breaking through Calder’s wall that much more difficult.

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 3 Stars

Low angst cuteness

Sports romance is difficult for me to resist so when this came up for review I snapped it right up. I’m glad I did because this was a fun little read.

Calder and Rachel have a meet cute outside a restaurant bathroom where Calder’s fairy wings almost take out Rachel. He’s having a Daddy/daughter day and he’s committed to it!

Instant attraction quickly evolves into instalove. They hit it off and have a super cute first date during which Calder books the second date, so he’s into her. Then begins a flurry of texts since Calder is a professional hockey player and on the road pretty often.

Some of the dialogue can veer into Cheeseville but mostly I found their banter to be cute. Rachel is sassy, quick witted and confident. Calder is kind of a hot mess without the backstory to match it, but overall I thought this was a sweet, sexy diversion.

If you’re looking for a low angst, feel good sports romance that’s light on sports this story could be just the thing.

An ARC was provided.

 

 

Double Dose

Double Dose by Katie Allen: Review by Cupcake

Synopsis:

A double dose of happily-ever-after… 

Speech therapist Daphne’s neat, orderly life takes a turn for the dramatic when she’s kidnapped and spirited away to a hideout deep in the Colorado mountains. Her captors? Gorgeous men—all escaped from a secret laboratory designed to build perfect supersoldiers.

Trauma associated with his engineering left Benjy mute, and Ari thinks Daphne’s just the girl to help him recover. Held against her will, Daphne will be damned before she helps any of them—regardless of how electrifying she finds their touches.

But as Daphne’s hunger for Benjy and Ari grows, so does her empathy for the other soldiers hiding out at the lodge. With danger from her own past threatening to resurface and an overeager FBI agent sniffing around, she needs to free herself, her men and the others.

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 2 Stars

Books like this make my head tilt. Just when I think I’ve gotten a handle on this suspending disbelief deal a book like this comes along and I’m all…

Those of you that have superior suspension of disbelief powers might could enjoy this, because it is very… cutesy. Instalove fans will likely adore this too. I do recognize that it’s supposed to be romantic rather than bad wrong, but it was just a little too weird for me and I was never able to alter my thinking from WTF to warm fuzzy.

Daphne is a speech pathologist and tells this story. Aristotle/Ari/A kidnaps her ostensibly to “fix” his best buddy Benjy’s muteness. Only that never happens! Apparently ole Benjy’s cup of care is empty which begs the question of why the hell his bestie doesn’t know this. Nevertheless, Benjy is WAY more interested in doing the shilly shally with her than talking, though his voice returns later under… dubious circumstances. *side eyes*

Allow me to set this stage, Ari drugs and kidnaps Daphne, takes her to a secluded compound lodge, when she wakes it’s to a room full of strangers gawking at her. She tries to escape. YAY! She’s discovered immediately and taken to Ari’s and Benjy’s loft where he puts her to bed. Like a toddler. She wakes to not just Ari but Benjy. In bed. With her. Her reaction is along the lines of, “this is cozy”. NAY!

I maybe would’ve been less floored by this reaction were it more believable gradual? But within days she’s thinking of quitting her job and staying on the compound at the lodge forever with her two dudes and the rest of these fugitives then learning how to use various weapons to aid them in fighting the baddies. Ummmm first, when did they become a committed throuple? Second…

The suspend disbelief doubled down with her being a virgin at 25 who during her deflowering was deep throating one and taking the sizable dick of the other simultaneously. Like a porn star. Approximately 2.5 seconds later she’s DPing like a champ.

I’m not sure if I was more disturbed by her meteoric rise to pornstardom or the fact that the guys essentially treat her like a fuck doll. They carry her around, arrange her like a body pillow, dress and undress her, smack her ass a whole lot and basically dictate how she spends her time. What’s more, she seems to like it! She giggles and swoons whilst walking around making the moony eyes at them.

WHAT.THE.FUCK? There’s making lemonade out of lemons and then there’s HAVE YOU LOST YOUR DAMN MIND?

The saddest part is… well, two things really, the first being I got Jedi mindtricked into believing this was MMF when in reality it’s MFM. I blame myself for this. The cover should’ve tipped me off. I clearly saw what I wanted to see, so technically I Jedi mindtricked myself which is just… sad. Second, the sex is lame. Oral and DP. Only on her though which I found unrealistic seeing as how these two dudes were sharing a bed before Dolly, I mean Daphne, came along and they never cross the swords?

I’ve not read the other books in this series and was able to catch up relatively quickly so it can be read as a standalone. The ongoing plot is a little bit sci-fi divided by cyberpunk multiplied by action/suspense with the characters from the previous books playing a significant role in the narrative. The way it concluded was much the same as the romance plot-a little bit hokey and a lot unbelievable. I didn’t hate it and can admit that there were some sweet moments but Daphne was too bizarre and that coupled with the speed of their “connection” was too much for me.

Recommend to fans of cutesy reads who can suspend disbelief like a BOSS!

A review copy was provided by NetGalley.

On His Knees

On His Knees by Laura Kaye: Review by Cupcake

Getting on his knees makes him question everything…and want even more…

Another failed relationship has lawyer Jamie Fielding confronting the truth—he’ll never be satisfied with any woman until he admits what he needs…to submit and to be used—hard. When a friend invites him to the exclusive Blasphemy club, Jamie is stunned to find everything he ever wanted—in the fierce, ruthless hands of a man.

Psychiatrist Alex McGarry will play with anyone who craves his rough brand of domination, but what he really wants is to settle down. Which makes the submissive male he meets at his club a bad idea—the man might be hot as hell but he’s also new to everything Alex has to offer. Except that doesn’t keep them from coming together again and again, sating every one of their darkest desires.

Master Alex sets Jamie’s whole world on fire and makes him question everything—and that’s good. Because Alex won’t tolerate hiding what they have for long and he wants much more than just having Jamie on his knees…

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 2 Stars

Wellllll this sucks.

I had high hopes going in since I’d read (and really liked) Kaye before plus kink! It’s glitterkink though which I should’ve picked up on from the blurb. My bad. Glitterkink is not my jam. The protocols and honorifics were tolerable and it wasn’t overly BDSM 101 but still… glitterkink. I like the subversiveness of the club being a former church, though. That made me titter. Blasphemy indeed.

There is one force play scene that was bad wrong in the best possible way. Many things are cursorily tried and/or mentioned kink-wise-D/s, spanking, CBT, face fucking and breath play, lite bondage and humiliation, forced orgasms with mentions of orgasm denial, electroplay and impact play-but none was very inspired or intense. There was nowhere near as much PAIN as I was hoping for from a book purportedly focused on SM.

The plot is straightforward new masochist and sub meets experienced sadist and dom who is 10 yrs his senior, their kinks align and they speed race to HEAsville. Like they were on an egg timer. Fans of instalove will be delighted by this story. I found it predictable, employing a standard romance algorithm.

It’s rushed which stymied my connection to both of these characters despite having access to both of their perspectives. BOOM! Jaime realizes he’s bisexual. His tattoo artist offhandedly calls him a masochist and offers to set him up with a friend who’s part owner of Blasphemy and BOOM! Jaime’s a card carrying masochist. Master Alex shows him around on his inaugural visit and BOOM! he’s ready for him to pound his virgin ass into submission. Then BOOM! Jaime’s taking a fat cock like champ in every orifice and even some monster dildos too.

You don’t want to maybe… take a breath first? I do. I need a minute. Fast forwarding through all those major life changing events not only felt unrealistic, but I felt like I was missing all the good stuff. Like development of… everything.

On His Knees is BDSM fantasy. Those who like their kink to be realistic are not going to like this. It’s a quick read that’s low on angst and can be read as a standalone with storytelling reminiscent of Cherise Sinclair, so if you’re a fan of hers you’ll probably like this.

Some positives are they have some sweet moments, I liked how tactile they were and they have chemistry, so I was leaning towards 3 stars until the conflict which was hellafuck juvenile and stupid. I can deal with some piss poor communication but this was NEXT LEVEL ridiculous, especially given that open communication is a pillar of BDSM.

Sadly, this was not super successful for me but I think the cat’s out of the bag that I’m a picky bitch. There are already a multitude of glowing reviews for it so feel free to ignore me.

Recommend to fans of glitterkink, instalove and Cherise Sinclair.

A review copy was provided by the publisher.

Make Me Want

Make Me Want by Katee Robert: Review by Cupcake

Synopsis:

“I want everything.”

She’s taking control. And it’s driving him wild!

Lucy Baudin’s ex did a number on her self-esteem, but it’s time for her to regain control. In her job as a lawyer she’s bold, confident. But in the bedroom she needs inspiration to reawaken her inner seductress. Asking her friend Gideon Novak for help seems wrong…yet so deliciously right!

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3.5 Stars

Helllllooooooo Katee Robert.

Welcome! Glad to meet ya.

Sorry for the serenade but… THIS GIRL IS ON FIIIIIIIYYYYYYYYYAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!! Still. While reading this I considered dialing a friend, because HHHHHAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLPPPPPPPPP!!!

Reading Make Me Want I more than once wished for a warning label and maybe my own personal freezer. Someone should put a blast chiller option on kindles. I needed one.

What prompted me to click the request button are:

(a) The dude on the cover kinda looks like Carter Dane so my first thought was, “why is CD on the cover of some MF smutticilicicousness?” which quickly segued into a brief episode of wish fulfillment along the lines of, “has CD decided to widen the playing field?” Then I expanded the photo and realized my mistake.

*epic sad face is epic*

Congrats, Alex Mecum!

*fake smile*
*grumbles*

(b) The main character’s name is Gideon!

What? I have a name kink. Don’t judge.

This Gideon is eerily reminiscent of another (also slightly Neanderthalish) Gideon I’ve lusted over read before and while Sylvia Day might take exception to the similarities, my thoughts are more akin to…

The story itself is not groundbreaking and rife with non/miscommunication with a heaping of martyr syndrome that I loathe. Lucy is up for a promotion at her good ole boys law firm and won’t get it unless someone puts a ring on it. Gideon’s a friend of her ex-fiancé and was once hers too, so that coupled with his reputation as a skilled headhunter, leads her to hire him to find her a suitable husband. His reputation as a sex gawd leads her to ask him for “lessons” on how to have the HILLY DILLY amazingly since her ex told her she was a bad lay. Can you say projecting, boys and girls?

Regardless, the boning is top-notch! On the couch, on a conference table AT A FANCY SCHMANCY CLUB, a naughty video chat, in a lingerie dressing room and they did make it to the bedroom a couple times. Gideon’s also on the bossy/toppy side too! I mean…

Seriously, this thing should come with a complimentary box of wipes, a pack of cigs and some Gatorade.

I will most definitely be reading the next in this series. One-handed, but still. Now that I know what I’m in for I will be prepared like the devoted Girl Scout I am to see Roman getting his swerve on!

Recommend to… hells bells, you know who you are.

An ARC was provided by NetGalley.