Book Review: Long Overdue by Tara Andrews

Long Overdue is part of the 1NightStand series, which if you aren’t familiar with it, features short, steamy romances from a variety of authors. All involve individuals who employ the services of the 1NightStand dating service, whose owner has a knack for giving the clients exactly what they need. I’ve read several offerings from this extensive series, but this was my first by Tara Andrews.

I enjoyed this story, which moved quickly, had some nice humor, and delved into the characters’ psyche’s well for the work’s length. Jill and Blake knew each other in college but had since gone their separate ways. What they didn’t know is that they both had crushes on one another back in the day. When they find themselves paired up, the sparks fly. They both come with past wounds that make it difficult for them to open up, and there is a nice push and pull from both parties.

Long Overdue gets 4 cat kisses.

4 cats


Jill Malone has been looking for love for all the wrong reasons. A reality check has her signing up for a no-strings attached night to simply forget about forever after. The last thing she expected was to know her blind date.

Blake Anders doesn’t need help finding a date, but he’s tempted by 1Night Stand’s reputation of arranging exactly what a person needs. And he needs more. Though doubtful, he agrees to one night and hopes to discover his perfect match. He didn’t count on Madame Eve reaching deep into his past to give him a night with the woman he never forgot.

Fearing another broken heart, Jill works to keep herself from becoming attached, but Blake goes all in to convince her that he wants their long-overdue love to be more than a one-night stand…

About the Author

Tara Andrews divides her time between a full-time job as an office manager, an even more full-time job as a wife and mother, and her dream job as a romance author.

An avid reader and writer, Tara continuously seeks to hone her craft in order to provide readers with stories that are provocative yet romantic. She is an active member of Romance Writers of America and belongs to a local chapter. As she has learned from her own experiences, dreams do come true and women can live happily ever after. Tara strives to infuse a blend of fantasy and realism in her stories in order to connect with readers’ own experiences, hopes and emotions.

Tara lives in upstate New York with her wonderful husband and two fabulous children.

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Review: Sliding into Second by Ella Jade

I’ve read several of Ms. Jade’s book, and Sliding into Second is another good, entertaining read. This novella features sports reporter Sage and second baseman Nic. They were high school sweethearts who lost track of each other, only to be reunited through their jobs years later. Having never gotten over each other, they embark on a physical reconnection that turns to more.

As with pretty much all novellas, this one has moments where events are told, not shown, as well as gaps in time. These things are almost always necessary to keep to the shorter format when telling a complicated love story. Still, Ms. Jade does a good job of making the reader care about the characters and understand their motivations. The characters are far from one-note. The sex scenes are well done and often helped move the story forward–the hallmark of a good sex scene in my mind.

If you like sports stories and tender romance mixed with hot sex, then give Sliding into Second a try. I give this novella 4 cat kisses.

4 cats


Jilted once before, now it’s her turn to level the playing field.

Hotshot sports reporter Sage Millan has been busy making a name for herself in the male dominated world of baseball. She’s just landed her dream job, and her first assignment is covering the newly crowned World Series champions, The Kingston Crushers. This is the opportunity of a lifetime. The only problem…her ex-boyfriend, and the only man she’s ever loved, is the team’s second baseman. Things ended badly between them, and she’s not sure she can put those demons to rest.

Professional baseball player Nicolas Cordova is having the time of his life. His team has just won the World Series, and with the victory comes more fame, women, and exposure than he ever could have imagined. But things are about to change for the sexy, charismatic athlete. He never expected his ex-girlfriend to walk back into his life, much less the locker room.

These days Sage is smarter, more mature, and doesn’t plan on being played a second time. Her appearance stirs old memories for Nic. She’s the one he let get away in the name of his career. He vows he can be the man she needs this time around. Will that be enough to mend her broken heart?

Content Warning: contains explicit sex and adult content

Available now for a limited time release price of .99 cents…

Beachwalk Press

Excerpt

“I’ll admit I’ve had many women in the past, and I can’t apologize for living. But as the years went by, my feelings for you were always someplace deep in my heart. I know that’s why I can’t settle down. Why I can’t find the peace I’ve been searching for. It doesn’t exist without you.”

“How can you say things like that? You don’t even know the woman I’ve become. I’m not that girl who relied on you, the one who would’ve followed you anywhere. I’m not her anymore, Nic. I can’t ever be her again.”

“Maybe I’m not asking for her.” He leaned closer to her face. “Maybe I want to know the woman you are today. I want another shot at this.”

“No,” she whispered.

“If you remember anything about me, I have a hard time with that word.” He tipped her chin, focusing on her lips. “I am going to kiss you. Right here and right now.”

Her knees buckled as a cool tremor swept through her. She wanted to say no. It was the only logical word to mutter, but her heart didn’t want her to say it. Her body wasn’t on board with turning him down either. The warmth that built in her stomach had moved lower, and now all she could think about was his lips on hers.

“It doesn’t sound like you’re asking,” she breathed out.

“I’m not.”

Before she could say anything else, his mouth was on hers, eager, but slow and soft. His stubble grazed along her chin as he tilted his head and deepened their bond. The sound throughout the crowded lobby seemed to fade into the background, and soon, all she could hear was her heart pumping loud between her ears. Why did he have to be such a freakin’ good kisser?

After the incredibly long connection, he pulled away, but not before stopping to kiss the bottom corner of her mouth like he used to.

“I’ve waited a long time to do that,” he said. “It was worth every lonely minute.”

“I… Nic…” She’d always had the gift of words. It was what she did for a living, but in that moment, all of her thoughts were jumbled and senseless.

“It’s okay.” He grinned as he stroked her cheek. “Let’s get something to eat and maybe figure this out. Whatever this is.”

“No.” She ran her hands along his strong chest, resting them on his shoulders.

“Don’t over analyze this, baby.” He glanced down at her hands on his body. “Let’s just go with it.”

“That’s what I’m trying to tell you.” She took a breath and continued before she lost her nerve. “Take me upstairs to your room. I know how we can figure this out.”

“What are you asking?” He placed his hand on the small of her back, drawing her closer to him. “You need to be real clear.”

“I want to go upstairs with you.”

“That’s not why I kissed you.”

“Isn’t it?” She smirked. “We’re adults now, Nicky. Let’s settle this like adults.”

“I’m not looking to settle anything. That usually means it’s over, and we’re nowhere near over.” He motioned for Joe. “I’ll take care of the bar tab and then we’ll get dinner.”

“No.” She draped her arms around his neck, intoxicated by the idea of being so close to him again. He may be older now, and may have lost those boyish looks, but the man he had become suited him and drove her wild with need.

“What did I tell you about that word?”

“I can guarantee I won’t be using it once we’re in your bedroom.” She ran her tongue along her top lip. “I’m going to the ladies room. When I come out, if you’re not by the elevators waiting for me, I’ll know that kiss was nothing more than the heat of the moment and we can go on with our lives.”

“Sage?”

“Shh.” She pressed her lips to his. “Now who’s over analyzing?” She reached for her purse and coat hanging on the back of the stool. “I’ll see you in a few minutes.” I hope.

This is book 2 in the Kingston Heat Series but both books stand alone and can be read in either order.

WARNING… Pax will steal your heart

Will the bad-boy pitcher strike out when it comes to love?

Shy music teacher Sophia Ballis has sworn off men. After a bad experience with a college jock she decided it was better to be alone than to get burned again. She focused on her education and now her new job at a local private school.

Professional baseball pitcher Paxton Hughes is a player both on and off the field. He’s signed to the Kingston Crushers to bring home the coveted championship title. Nothing can get in his way. Serious relationships don’t mix with a life on the road and he never loses focus on the game. One-night stands are his specialty for a reason.

While out jogging one spring morning, the two collide, setting their course in motion. Pax is immediately drawn to the unassuming beauty. Sophia is aware of his reputation and decides one night of meaningless sex with the attractive Texas charmer is just what she needs to get over her self-imposed dry spell. Pax has more than a one-night stand on his mind, but will his bad-boy persona and demanding schedule ruin any chances of a happily ever after?

Content Warning: contains explicit sex and adult content

Amazon/Beachwalk Press

About the Author

Ella Jade has been writing for as long as she can remember. As a child, she often had a notebook and pen with her, and now as an adult, the laptop is never far. The plots and dialogue have always played out in her head, but she never knew what to do with them. That all changed when she discovered the eBook industry. She started penning novels at a rapid pace and now she can’t be stopped.

Ella resides in New Jersey with her husband and two boys. When she’s not chasing after her kids, she’s busy creating sexy, domineering men and the strong women who know how to challenge them in and out of the bedroom.  She hopes you’ll get lost in her words.

She loves connecting with readers. You can find her here…

FB/Twitter/Website

Review: Brody by Mindy Harbin

Brody is a romantic suspense featuring a woman, Xan, in the witness protection program and Brody, who is hired to help protect her. The attraction between the two sparks quickly even though they both are guarded, especially Brody who feels it’s a conflict of interest to become involved.

There are a number of hot sex scenes, of the more gritty variety–including an anal scene, which I always like to mention because I am not a huge fan of anal play. Because Ms. Harbin’s style of sex scenes wasn’t my favorite, the middle of the book dragged for me; I just wasn’t into the frequent sex. Might work perfectly for someone else though. 🙂 And I must admit that testosterone-fueled guy interaction is tedious to me, but Ms. Harbin writes it well.

I liked the last few chapters the best. I didn’t see all the twists and turns coming, and that made me like the book better and glad I slogged through the middle. For me, I give this book 3.5 cat kisses. If you like gritty sex and macho men, it could easily be a 4 or 4.5.

3.5 cats


Brody “Brutus” Jackson isn’t your average small-town mechanic. The shop where he spends his days doubles as the headquarters for the mercenary group he works with. They jokingly call themselves the Bang Shift because the government contracts they take are the less savory ones, and they’re all just shady enough to do what’s necessary to get the jobs done. As far as Brody’s concerned, it’s the perfect arrangement for a man with no memory of his past, and no hope for the future.

Under FBI protection, Alexandria Collins and her son have been in hiding for ten years. When it’s time to move again, her piece of crap car breaks down and the man giving her a tow is the biggest, hottest guy she’s ever seen. She is determined to ignore the need her long-neglected body hungers for. After all, the last man she showed interest in put a gun to her head.

Brody thinks the skittish Xan is sexy as hell, but it’s not her hot body that has him rocked to his core. He knows her from somewhere, and in his line of work, that’s a dangerous thing. Following orders have never been this hard, but he will protect her at all costs … even if what she needs protection from is him.

About the Author

Mandy Harbin is an award-winning, bestselling author of several books across multiple romance genres ranging from contemporary to paranormal erotic romance. She is also the number one bestselling author in teen romance under the pen name M.W. Muse with her popular Goddess Series. She is a Superstar Award recipient, Reader’s Crown and RWA Passionate Plume finalist, and has received Night Owl Reviews Top Pick distinction many times. She studied writing at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, earned several degrees, and even pursued an MBA until she realized becoming an author did not have to remain an unfulfilled dream. Mandy is a PAN member of the RWA and lives in a small Arkansas town with her non-traditional family, and although she is a direct descendant of British royalty, they refuse to call her princess. When she’s not penning her latest book, you can find her hanging out online where she loves to connect with fellow readers or stalking Mickey Mouse at Disney World.

Photos attached (I use the color one mainly when promoting my Mandy Harbin stuff and the black/white/smiling one when promoting M.W. Muse)

Mandy Harbin’s Media Links:

Review: With a Twist trilogy

Since these three short novellas are all interrelated, I’m going to do my written review of them as a whole. Given that they are written by three different people, I will also rank each book.

The trilogy follows three best friends who own a martini bar named With a Twist. They’ve been tasked by a gypsy to find love by midnight on Valentine’s Day or lose all the success they’ve gained with their bar. Each book focuses on one of the friends.

First up is Jasmine, who has long lusted after artist Jake, but he’s never seemed to be interested in more than a friendship. However, a long sojourn in Italy makes the heart grow fonder and he returns to win Jasmine’s heart. This story was not my favorite, basically because I didn’t enjoy Ms. Fox’s writing style as much as the other two authors. There was a lot of back story at the beginning that didn’t hold my interest. As the first of the trilogy, she did perhaps have more set up to do, but it still felt longer than it needed to be before we got to the action. Once we did, the action is mostly hot sex (this was probably the steamiest of the trio) and then Jake getting stuck in a snowstorm that threatens that he won’t make it back by Valentine’s Day so Jasmine can confess her love in person. This was perhaps the thinnest premise of the three books to build tension. If faced with losing my business due to a gypsy prediction, I would’ve just spilled the beans on the phone.

Second comes Daisy, who has been drifting along in life. There’s a little confusion about who is really the man for her, as she has two pursuers (and some other complications which you can read the story to find out 🙂 ). I liked this story the most, as both the hero and heroine had compelling emotional and circumstantial issues to deal with. They seemed to fit together really well and had the most chemistry. There were some spicy sex scenes in this book too.

Third comes Rose, who has pined after Jasmine’s cousin Max since high school. He’s been globetrotting since then, and she hasn’t seen him in a decade. So when he shows up to visit Jasmine, she arranges an excuse for him to stay at Rose’s place. This was the tamest of the books, sex-scene wise, but there were more sweet moments between the two as they work out their past, present, and future.

Overall, this was a pretty enjoyable trilogy. There are a number of typos (especially in Ms. Quinn’s book), but not so many that it was terribly distracting. There were a few small continuity errors, although this is mainly because we see a few moments appear in different books, so therefore from a different woman’s POV. This actually was a nice touch for the most part. I only found one error that couldn’t be waved away with this reason, and that’s in Ms. Quinn’s book when Daisy says she was a transplant to San Diego in high school, whereas the other books say the three woman met in elementary school. (Unless maybe they are all transplants, but there is nothing to suggest that’s the case and a few details that make it seem not the case.)

As a whole, I’d give the trilogy 3.5 cat kisses. Individually, I’d give book one 3 cat kisses, book two 4 cat kisses, and book three 3.5 cat kisses.

3.5 cats


 

From the sexy, martini-inspired “Love With a Twist” Valentine Romance Collection by award-winning and Amazon bestselling author Calista Fox, New York Times bestselling author Erin Quinn and USA Today bestselling author Mary Leo:

A prophecy whispered in Jasmine Rosso’s ear by a gypsy fortuneteller in San Diego’s Seaport Village leads her to a sizzling night with sexy blown-glass artist Jake Hartnett. But the clock’s running out on the time allotted to fulfill the prophecy, and if Jasmine doesn’t make a true love connection with Jake before midnight on Valentine’s Day, she’ll lose everything she’s worked so hard to achieve this past year…including the trendy martini bar and bistro, With a Twist, that she owns with her two best friends.

Worst of all, she’ll lose Jake—the only man she’s ever wanted.


Fate may have served up the wrong man, but for Daisy L’Amore, love comes with a twist.
Daisy L’Amore is faced with impossible choices. A prophecy given a year ago has Daisy and her two best friends racing the clock to find love before midnight on Valentine’s Day or they will lose everything they’ve worked for, including With a Twist, the martini bar and bistro the three of them own. A crystal heart and a gypsy’s words guide them, but love has a way of making its own rules, and Daisy is afraid to break them.

Romeo Corazón is shaking up Daisy’s world, but will the transformation he brings to her life be the downfall of everything she values? Or will falling in love with the wrong man make everything right?

 


When a gypsy’s prediction begins to come true, Rose Cupido dismisses it as a coincidence, but when a past estranged boyfriend shows up reminding her of the love she once felt for him, Rose can’t help wondering if that gypsy had true magical powers.

Review: All That’s Unclaimed by Constance Phillips

All That’s Unclaimed is the story of Ben and Anna. Ben has recently returned to his mother’s horse therapy farm, and Anna is the barn manager who has worked at the farm since she was a teenager. When Ben’s mom has an accident, it prompts him to overcome his nervousness and ask Anna out.

I loved the details about horses and how they are used for therapy with children with both physical and emotional challenges. It added a unique note to this book.

I found Anna to be a strong heroine, but I had trouble liking Ben. He’s dealing with issues from his childhood, and through most of the book comes off as angry, whiny, and kind of a jerk (although he wasn’t intentionally a jerk!). This made the story drag for me, as it took a long time for the people in his life to finally call him on his bullshit. It also made it hard for me to buy into the attraction Anna felt for him. I suppose their referred to history made her see him more fully than I, as the reader, could see him.

The last third of the book was the most enjoyable. Ben finally started having to deal with his past and get over his anger and resentment. There were also some secondary characters who had some nice growth.

This was a pretty predictable story, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. After all, I do love romances because I know there will be a HEA. 🙂 Overall, though, I felt either this story should have been longer, with a few more twists and turns, or shorter with less time spent in Ben’s head while he was having an angry pity party. I give this book 3 cat kisses.

3 cats


Ben Crawford has always believed the professional respect and acceptance he desired couldn’t be found at Sunnydale Farms. There were just too many ghosts residing in his broken home. Only when Anna Jenkins, the one constant at his mother’s therapeutic riding facility, announces she is leaving to start her own stables is Ben forced to grasp hold of all he’s left unclaimed.

About the Author

Constance Phillips lives in Ohio with her husband, daughter, two kitties, and four canine kids.

When not writing stories of finding and rediscovering love, Constance is counting down the days until her son and daughter-in-law make her a grandma and planning a cross-country motorcycle trip with her husband for the not-so-distant future…if they can find a sidecar big enough for the pups.

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