Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Book review - She's Got A Way by Maggie McGinnis

Just another brilliant story by Maggie McGinnis. If you’ve yet to discover the author or the Echo Lake series, She’s Got A Way is a perfect pick. Although this is book three in said series, the story totally works as a standalone, and no previous knowledge of setting or characters is required. 

I truly adored this book, and it caught me by surprise because I wasn’t sure what to expect. It was so much more than I would’ve thought, even though the author is one of my favorites so I had little doubt about whether or not I’d like it. But well, great job, Mrs. McGinnis! You left me slightly speechless this time. The settings alone made me want to pack up my bags and go camping myself. It was hard to put down the book and return to reality!

When Gabriela O’Brien is forced to spend the summer in a rundown camping resort in the middle of the woods, as a punishment for her four students’ latest stunt, little does she know that the camp is not exactly up to the standards her Briarwood boarding school students are used to. Coming from a rich family herself and having spent most of her life in the same boarding school, having to sleep in a tent in woods, with wildlife sneaking inside it at night, isn’t exactly how she’d envisioned her summer. Not to mention, the four teenagers’ attitude that’s driving her crazy.

Luke Magellan was a troubled kid, going from foster home to foster home until he was rescued by Oliver, the director of Camp Echo. Thanks to his trust, Luke made a life for himself and he’s been helping troubled kids ever since. But now that Camp Echo has been acquired by Briarwood boarding school, he’s afraid his mission will soon go to waste, as soon as it becomes clear that the wealthy school is planning to turn the rundown camp into some sort of high-profile summer resort for their students. So when the good-looking housemother shows up in the Briarwood van with four grumpy teenagers in tow, he braces himself for four weeks in hell.

When he caught sight of the woman stepping out, though, he stopped short. This was no steely-haired old bird in a flowered dress. No. She had sleek, dark hair, a wrist full of gold bangles, and curves in all the right places. He blinked, then peered into the backseat, searching for the housemother. Had Briarwood sent them with a hottie driver?

And then there are four rebellious teenagers who are used to a cushy life and end up having to set up a tent, use the freezing cold lake water as their personal shower and have no access to any of the amenities they’re used to. Well, Luke and Gabriela have their work cut out for them as they’ll have to figure out how to keep the girls in the camp for four, excruciatingly long weeks…

This turned out to be one of the funniest, most entertaining, and most romantic stories I’ve read in months—if not ever. If I could give it ten stars, I would! I can’t quite pinpoint what exactly made me love this book so much because, truth be told, there isn’t a single chapter, scene or even paragraph I didn’t like. You know when you just “feel” a book? When it hooks you from the very beginning and the more you read, the more involved you become with the story and the characters? This was it for me. This book pulled me in from the first page and held me captive in Camp Echo until the last page—and even then, I didn’t really feel like leaving at all.

Luke is a dreamy hero, the tall, dark and terribly handsome man every woman in her right state of mind would want to call her own—I most definitely would. In spite of his troubled past, he managed to pull himself together and do something useful with his life, and when he tried to act all humble around Gabriela, to give her time to adjust and decide how to manage the girls in such a new environment, he was simply adorable!

Gabriela is very easy to like; she’s down-to-earth, despite her wealthy childhood, and her determination to help her students succeed is admirable. I even liked her stubbornness when she tried to do everything without needing Luke’s help. She’s a heroine you can’t help but like and root for. 

Yes, she watched rom-coms every weekend. Yes, she loved the whole knight-in-shining-armor shtick, just like the rest of Hollywood's target audience. But she didn't need one. She'd figure this out. 

The four girls are hilarious, and probably the thread that keeps the whole story together and keeps it moving at an entertaining pace. At first, they come off as your usual spoiled brats who can’t even contemplate living in a place where there’s not even a toilet. The fact they can’t stand one another and keep bickering gives the reader a clue about what to expect—I mean, come on, you put four rich girls together and leave them to build a tent and learn how to build an actual bathroom: wouldn’t it spell disaster? Yeah, just a little—but it’s the hilarious kind. As much as I rooted for Luke and Gabi to get their happy ever after, I couldn’t help rooting just as much for the girls. 

Waverly wagged a finger. "What happens at camp stays at camp. No one will know we got excited about toilets, understand?" She turned a slow circle, pointing at each of the other girls, and Gabi and Luke laughed. 

You could say there’s an enormous amount of character growth in this book, for all the characters involved. And it’s something that left me with a broad grin at the end of the book and, as usual with the books by this author, wanting a few more chapters just so I didn’t have to leave Camp Echo and these new, fictional friends whose stories and adventures made me laugh, swoon, hold my breath and truly warmed my heart.

Once again Maggie McGinnis has crafted a beautiful, awfully romantic and funny story that will keep you turning page after page, with a smile on your face and fuzzy feelings.

If you’ve yet to discover the Echo Lake series, please do yourself a favor and pick up this book. If you like heart-warming romance, this is it—at its best.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Book review: Fearless - Kimberly Kincaid

If you love a hunky hero, a stubborn, not exactly damsel in distress kind of heroine, and quite a lot of steam, I'm positive this book will easily be a 5 star read for you.

I’ll admit it. I have a thing for firefighters. I’m a fan of the Chicago Fire TV series, so when I read the blurb of Fearless I knew I had to read it.

Cole is a hero you can’t help but love—even if you don’t like alpha heroes, you can’t help loving a handsome, strong and protective firefighter. Leaving his family ranch, and cutting all ties with his family, the fire station is his home, the crew his new family and he’s focused on proving he can be the best firefighter and earn the spot on the squad. In order to move from the engine to the squad, he’ll have to train a new candidate coming from the academy. If he can manage to turn a candidate into a real firefighter, he can move up to the squad and get the reward he’s been working hard for.

Everett's mouth pressed into a hard line, his eyes not budging from the stopwatch in his grip. "Emotions are dangerous, especially on this job." God, he was so serious. It had to be painful. 

Problem is… the candidate is a she. And an attractive she, on top of it all. But Cole needs to remain focused on his goal, and won’t let the attraction for the newbie get in the way.

Savannah grew up in a family of firefighters. Every man in the family—father, brothers, and cousins—is or has been a firefighter. As the only female in the whole clan, she wants to follow in her father and brothers’ footsteps, but she needs to prove herself. Knowing she’ll have it easy if she stays in her hometown, she ups and leaves her family behind, moving to the other side of the country where one of her brothers works. When she’s faced with the fact that handsome Cole Everett will be her mentor, she needs to put out whatever fire is building between them, even though it’s easier said than done. 

"You still shouldn't tempt fate."Her laugh coasted past his cheek on little more than a breathy sigh. "In case you haven't noticed, I'm not really a play-it-safe kind of girl. I'm fearless, remember? I think fate shouldn't tempt me."

I was immediately pulled into the story, playing the images in my head thanks to a little help from said TV series I’ve become addicted to. I haven’t read the previous book in the series, but I had no trouble following the story. I actually enjoyed the idea of a female firefighter in a man’s world. The plot was intriguing enough to keep me turning page after page, especially when it became clear that something big was going on at the station—in some parts, this felt a little like a romantic suspense novel, and there were a few edge-of-your-seat moments that left me holding my breath.

And with each passing minute she spent in his presence, resisting the urge to combust with Cole Everett was becoming more and more difficult.

My one pet peeve was that there was too much sex, and in too much detail (at some point almost a whole chapter was a very graphic description of the two of them having sex. Yeah, I get it, I’m being prudish, but really, I just wanted to solve the mystery and know if they’d ever have more than just a good time between the sheets). This could have easily been a 5* read for me if the sex scenes had been fade-to- black. Because of this, when the "L" word was said out loud, it came almost as a surprise, since it seemed all there was between them was a strong physical attraction in the I-can't-keep-my-hands-off-you kind of way but neither had any interest in having more.

If you don’t mind a steamy read, I recommend getting this book, even if you haven’t read the previous one.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Blog tour: Welcoming The Bad Boy by Annie Rains

Hero's Welcome #3
Annie Rains
Releasing August 2nd, 2016

From the bestselling author of Welcome to Forever (“Full of heart and emotion!”—Lori Wilde) comes a sweet, sexy novel about breaking all the rules. In Seaside, North Carolina, the boys on the base are heroes—but that doesn’t mean they’re always well-behaved.

As a preacher’s daughter, Valerie Hunt only dates the very respectable, very boring men who meet her father’s strict standards. In private, however, she leads a double life as a romance writer of steamy stories about the least respectable sorts of men. Valerie has always kept her hottest fantasies separate from her real life, but when she nearly runs a hot-blooded biker off the road, the lines begin to blur.

Even though Valerie almost killed him, Griffin Black can’t be angry after he learns the reason for her distracted driving: an unruly puppy belonging to her ailing friend. As a member of the military police K-9 unit, Griffin insists on training the dog himself. But he soon wonders how he’s ever going to stay disciplined around the most alluring, down-to-earth, and totally unattainable woman he’s ever met. Valerie is the ultimate good girl. And Griffin is going to need all his old tricks to unleash her wild side.

Wow. Another amazing book by the author of Welcome To Forever and Welcome Home Cowboy. If you've enjoyed the previous books in this beautiful series, you will definitely love Griffin and Valerie's story. If you haven't, this could be your chance to discover a wonderful series that will have you swoon, laugh, maybe even shed a tear or two at some points, and warm your heart and all the way down to your toes (watch out for a bit of heat here and there, too!).

I'll start this review by saying I'm not a fan of bad boys-the tattooed, heart-breaking, badass heroes that so many women drool after, both in books and in real life aren't usually my cup of tea. Growing up watching Disney movies, I've always loved the idea of a real Prince Charming who'd come trotting on his white horse and sweep me off my feet. Apparently, Annie Rains proved that Prince Charming can also be a tattooed, ex-military riding a Harley and still be absolutely adorable. Well, Griffin Black, even though he's all of the above, technically isn't really a bad boy at all, and I just couldn't help falling for him from the very first scene and a little more with every page I read. 

I liked Valerie back in book one, so I was looking forward to her story, and I'm happy the author didn't disappoint my expectations.  She is a romance author, so I immediately felt a connection with her-but that's not the only reason I liked her. I knew she was funny and a little crazy, but I wasn't expecting the softer, more romantic and naughtier side that comes out in this book, and that made me root for her from the very beginning. I suffered with her, felt her frustration and insecurities, and by seeing Griffin through her writer's eyes and imagination, I couldn't help falling for him alongside with her. 

The story, as it's customary in this series, is a mix of heart-warming, emotional, funny and sexy moments all woven together to create a book you just won't be able to put down until you've reached the last page - and even then, you might end up wishing for a few more pages (or chapters). I know I did! From the very first chapter to the last page, I laughed, swooned, was close to tears, blushed a little and eventually was left with fuzzy feelings enveloping me. 

The characters from book one and book two are back (yay for Micah and Lawson, Kat and Julie!) and new characters are introduced - including some adorable police dogs that stole my heart almost as fast as Griffin did.

I have to say, this book is way sexier than the others, but well, Griffin is supposedly a bad boy and Valerie is a romance author who needs real-life inspiration to get over writer's block, so... desperate times call for desperate measures!

In short, if you're looking for a sexy book boyfriend and a relatable heroine, an intense story and a beautiful happy ending, look no further: Welcoming The Bad Boy is the book for you! And if you haven't, go back and read the previous books, too. I promise the men of Seaside will sweep you off your feet.

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Annie Rains is a contemporary romance author who writes small town love stories set in fictional towns on the coast of North Carolina. Raised in one of America’s largest military communities, Annie often features heroes who fight for their countries, while also fighting for a place to call home and a good woman to love. When Annie isn’t writing, she’s spending time with her husband and 3 children, or reading a book by one of her favorite authors.

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