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MinnChica from The Book Pushers

I'm MinnChica, from The Book Pushers. I love reading all things romance. Come chat books with me!
Clean Sweep - Ilona Andrews Now that it's finally over, I went ahead and read it in one sitting! Oh, I loved it so much!! Such a great new world that is fun and quirky and interesting and I hope and pray they write more!
Frost Burned - Patricia Briggs Oh, I love Adam and Mercy so much!
She's All In - Cathryn Cade I liked this BDSM romance, it was sexy and fun. Can't wait to read more in the series.
Full review to come.
Drawn Together - Lauren Dane I have mixed feelings about this book. One on hand, I really liked getting to know Raven's back story and what makes her tick. On the other hand, there was just some spark or something missing that makes me fall in love with Dane's stories. I'm not too sure how I want to rate this yet... C+? B-?
Full review to come.
Rocky Mountain Freedom - Vivian Arend Hello sexy Travis.... I love finding out all your secrets!
Bound by Night - Larissa Ione I loved this new series by Ione. I loved the vampires (even though I'm kinda over vamps), and the characters were all incredible. I'm so excited to read the next one, and then the next one, and hopefully another after that, and then more and more and more!
Full review to come!
Always On My Mind - Jill Shalvis Full review to come. A good friends to lovers story.
Unspoken - Jen Frederick Full review to come, but I adored Bo.
It Takes Two - Erin Nicholas Review originally posted here: http://thebookpushers.com/2013/09/17/review-it-takes-two-by-erin-nicholas/

I was so excited to continue on with this series. After only reading three books, Nicholas has quickly become a new auto-buy author for me. If only my wallet could handle her backlist… *wink*

Shane has been asking Isabelle to move in with him for months now. He fell for her, and fell hard. Taking no for an answer isn’t something he can do, and Shane will go to any lengths to get her to say yes. However, the idea of sitting nice and quiet at a cabin for a long weekend isn’t exactly Shane’s idea of a good time.

Isabelle loves Shane, but she is keeping a secret from him that she is pretty sure will break them up. Because of a diagnosis, Isabelle knows she can’t keep up with Shane’s wild lifestyle, despite the fact that she would do anything to do so. A quiet weekend just might be the thing to show him that their lifestyles can no longer mesh as well as they thought. But relationships take work, and both are in love enough to stick it out for the long haul.

I am such a huge fan of second chance love stories. I think they are wonderful and fun and so sexy. The fact that Isabelle and Shane haven’t really broken up or fallen out of love makes this book all the more fabulous. They are both so far gone for one another, that they are both willing to do, pretty much, anything for one another. That level of devotion is so strong throughout the book, that I found myself cheering for them extra hard.

I’ve always been a sucker for books that deal with some kind of illness. I liked the way Nicholas dealt with it in this book. It wasn’t anything life-threatening, but it was definitely life-changing. Isabelle really needed to sit down and take control of her life, of her illness, instead of letting it control her. The struggle that Isabelle went through while dealing with it was incredible to read. From realizing she couldn’t do everything she wanted, to having to really hash it out with her sister, to explaining to Shane what all was good or bad for her, was so awesome to read.

I loved the romance in this book. Because these two are still very much in love, there is a lot of unintentional angst. They want to work it out, more than anything. But there have been lies and secrets between them, and before they can move forward as a couple, they have to find out if they can handle being with one another as they truly are. Hearing Shane’s backstory, and why he was Mr. Personality, was heartbreaking. I could see why Isabelle was so desperate to not want him to change for her. But his desire to keep her, at any and all costs, was so great as well. I just loved them both more and more as each page turned.

I am also super excited to read more in this series. I can’t even tell you how much I adore the Dixon sisters, and all their antics. They are so close-knit, and I just know that they are each going to have fun and sexy stories about falling in and out of love.

All in all I thought this was a fabulous second book in the Counting on Love series. Not only was the romance sweet and real, it was also super duper sexy. (Hello! Car Wash sex!!!) I can’t wait to read the next book Nicholas puts out, and have to pace myself going through her backlist. These stories have shown me just how much I adore her writing.
I give It Takes Two an A-
Lethal Pursuit (Bagram Special Ops #3) - Kaylea Cross Review originally posted here: http://thebookpushers.com/2013/09/18/review-lethal-pursuit-by-kaylea-cross/

I have glommed onto Cross ever since Mandi introduced me to her a couple years ago. With the Bagram series, I wasn’t sure how I would like the fraternization, but so far I’ve enjoyed each story. However, with this book, I think Cross has surpassed everything else she’s written.

Maya likes her job as a Security Forces Lieutenant, despite the fact that she can’t act on her strong feelings toward Jackson. Part of what holds her back is her past, filled with dark and bitter memories that she can’t shake. Going into the military was her saving grace, and she wants to do the best possible job she can in order to have a chance at working for the FBI when she gets out.

Jackson wants Maya for himself, but his job as a PJ and their rank has him keeping somewhat of a distance until Maya changes all that one night. After their night together, Jackson can’t get her out of his head. When they are both taken hostage along with a senior US official, they will be held by a madman, and forced to endure things they never thought possible. But together, they will fight to survive.

I always say that the most suspenseful scene I’ve ever read in a book was in No Turning Back, she may have topped it with THIS WHOLE BOOK! While there was some downtime in the beginning and end, it felt like it was constant go-go-go, sit on the edge of your seat, white knuckle reading. From the moment the medical camp came under fire to the moment they were rushed to the evacuation chopper, Maya and Jackson went through hell.

I’m always amazed at how twisted Cross can be when it comes to her books. She is one of the few romantic suspense authors who can write entire scenes from the point of view of the villain, and be so realistic. I believe wholeheartedly that her bad guys believe they are fighting a just war, no matter how ridiculous it sounds to the rest of us. She does an incredible job getting in the heads of psychopaths, and bringing them to live. One moment during their captivity, wheh Maya and Jackson are forced to “play a game,” was so intense and twisted and creepy. It was incredible to read.

One of the aspects of the romance that I really liked in this was that because so much of the trust and foundation of Maya and Jackson’s relationship took place while they were held captive, they took the time at the end of the book to part ways and process. So many times in romantic suspense books we see the hero and heroine go through unimaginable things, and then start their HEA right away. I have a hard time believing that, and was so glad to see Cross have Maya and Jackson take a step back. They went to therapy, they talked through their experiences, and they did it on their own. Sure they talked on the phone, but they also stepped back from each other’s lives and took the time to unwind. It made me believe in their romance so much more.

We didn’t get the chance to really see a lot of supporting characters in this book, because most of the book took place during their captivity. However, we did get to meet the Secretary of State, a wonderful character who I would love to see more of. I did want to see more of the group of girlfriends though. I liked that these books focused a lot of the friendship between the heroines, and we didn’t get the chance to see that with this book.

All in all I thought this was Kaylea Cross’ best book to date. She really went above and beyond with the plot, taking on the horrific challenge of showing the right amount of torture and prisoner abuse, all while keeping the story readable and enjoyable. I loved the romance between Maya and Jackson, and how quick they were to rely and draw strength from one another. I can’t wait for Cross’ next release!
I give Lethal Pursuit an A
Louder Than Love - Jessica Topper Review originally posted here: http://thebookpushers.com/2013/09/17/review-louder-than-love-by-jessica-topper/

I had some really intense mixed feelings about this book. In many ways, I was absolutely blown away with how great it was. In others, I was so disappointed that it wasn’t living up to the potential I thought it had.

Kat moves back to the small town she grew up in after her husband dies. She lives in the house she grew up in with her daughter, and has kept everything the same since her parents retired to warmer weather. Kat lives day to day, still grieving and struggling with being alone, raising her daughter with just the help of friends. But that all changes the day she asks Adrian Graves to come sing kids songs at the public library.

Adrian wrote the kids songs as a joke, but they took off anyway. He is a hardcore rock star through and through, with the tattoos and alcohol issues to prove it. But something about Kat calls to him, and he does everything he can to try and win her trust and her love. But competing against a ghost is harder than he ever imagined.

I think the one aspect of the book I liked the most was how devoted Kat was to her late husband. He wasn’t a bad guy, nothing came out later about him lying or cheating or being a jerk. He was a wonderful and loving man, and Kat really did struggle with letting him go. The pain she felt, the fear of being alone and the ache of missing him was so tangible. I ached for her. I hurt with her. I loved the fact that Topper dealt with such an intense issue the only way possible, with time and a lot of tears.

However, because of Kat’s unending devotion for her husband, the romance between her and Adrian seemed to take a bit of a backseat in the overall story. Especially since the first handful of chapters were all about Kat’s past, and the current day story took a long time to develop. (Like, I almost stopped a few times it was so slow to start up.) But once the romance got going, it was fun and sexy. Kat seemed to go into it not really knowing what she wanted: a hot fling, a new relationships, a rebound guy? She took it day by day, and as things progressed, seemed to reevaluate at every point. It was slow and sluggish at times, but also easy for me to believe in.

I loved the fact that Adrian had such a large personality. He had a softer side, the side who wrote kids songs and took the time to talk to each and every child; and the heavy metal rocker, who had a history of drug and alcohol abuse, and struggled behind the scenes. But, because this story was told in first person from Kat’s point of view, we didn’t get to see as much of Adrian as I would have liked. We didn’t get to really see what made him tick, why he stuck it out with Kat for so long, and what his motivations were. I wanted that, and was so bummed we never got even a small taste of it.

All the secondary characters were wonderful. Kat, or Tree to her childhood friends, had such a warm and loving group of friends. They helped her raise her daughter and grieve, and all were colorful and fun in their own light. The way they all reacted to Adrian was wonderful too. I liked that some of her friends were hesitant, some were instantly welcoming, and some were flabbergasted when they realized the truth behind Adrian’s rocker past. It added another dimension to the book that really worked for me.

But my biggest complaint is that this book didn’t live up to the potential I thought it could really have. There were so many wonderful elements, so many great parts and characters. Anyone who made it past the slow and difficult beginning was in for a treat, but getting there was a definite battle. The lack of alternating point of views really left a lot to be desired, especially in the romance aspect. I could feel how close Topper was to making this story one of my favorites, but unfortunately it just didn’t reach those heights.

All in all this book is proof that Topper has a strong career ahead of her. If the few issues I had are able to be corrected in the next release, I know that Topper will develop a strong fanbase of readers everywhere. While this book didn’t live up to my high hopes, it still had a wonderful story, amazing characters, and a strong foundation. I’m anxious to see what comes next.
I give Louder Than Love a C
No Romance Required - Cari Quinn Review originally posted here: http://thebookpushers.com/2013/09/13/review-no-romance-required-by-cari-quinn/

I’m a fan of Quinn’s books, so when she emailed me about her newest Love Required book, I was interested to see how things would work out between frenemies Cory and Vicky.

Cory is a workaholic CEO who has been waiting for the moment his parents retire to Arizona and he can take on the company full time. But between his daily duties, launching a magazine and everything else he has going on, Cory doesn’t have time to really live his life, and dating is totally out of the question. But his parents demand he start to slow down, and they think getting a girl is the perfect way to do it.

Vicky has crushed on Cory longer than she can remember, but he has always brushed her off. Until one night when he takes her higher than any man has before. Now their pictures are splashed across the newspaper gossip pages, and Cory asks Vicky to pretend to be his girlfriend. Vicky sees the opportunity to show Cory how they can be more than pretend, and jumps in. But her heart is on the line, and Cory is struggling with figuring out what is real, and what isn’t.

I always love stories when the hero and heroine are thrown together in a relationship they aren’t too sure they want. Although Vicky has crushed on Cory since they were kids, she also knows that she isn’t the kind of woman Cory wants to settle down with. She’s outspoken, a flirt, and has a larger-than-life personality, all things that Cory typically steers clear of. But as they explore their chemistry together, they are both shocked at how explosive they can be.

I thought the sex scenes with these two were off the charts. Not only does it take them forever to find a bedroom, but these two just have the kind of chemistry that keeps a book burning from page one. Every time the are next to one another, the sexual tension is spinning wildly out of control, and neither one of them cares to repress it. I adored their bathroom scene, especially since neither expected it. It was sexy and impulsive and so hot.

One of the things that I think Quinn knocked out of the park on this one was Cory’s apology. There was even a discussion between characters about how Cory needed to make a grand gesture in order to win Vicky’s trust once again, and he went all out. I loved his surprise, his willingness to rope in her brother (despite the fact the man hated him), and just how well he was willing to go to win her back. It was sweet and the perfect ending to the story.

All in all I was glad to see a few characters make another appearance, and loved our hero and heroine. Cory and Vicky were the perfect “opposites attract” couple, and both their romance and sexual chemistry was so fun to read. I can’t wait to see what Quinn has in store next.
I give No Romance Required a B+
Christmas on 4th Street - Susan Mallery Review originally posted here: http://thebookpushers.com/2013/09/20/review-christmas-on-4th-street-by-susan-mallery/

I have so much love for the Fool’s Gold series. Every character, every romance, every secondary character pulls me in and gets me so hooked that I can’t put the books down. I was so excited to read about Noelle, and I have to say I absolutely loved her!

Noelle moved to Fool’s Gold to start over again. Her dream of opening a Christmas shop is finally come true, and her new life couldn’t be more perfect. However, a little romance definitely would be welcome as well. When Noelle meets the sexy and troubled Gabriel, she wonders if she could possibly get a little romance in with him, given their sexual chemistry is off the charts. Only, Gabriel doesn’t believe in ever after.

Gabriel was working so hard, and so long, that he made a huge mistake. Licking his wounds, he heads to reconnect with his family after years and years apart. But being around his father isn’t what Gabriel considers relaxing, and the only thing keeping him going is working and spending time with Noelle. Although their attraction is undeniable, Gabriel doesn’t do long-term, and although Noelle is the kind of girl he could see himself making the exception for, he isn’t sure he is at a place in his life where he is ready to take that leap.

I absolutely loved Noelle from the moment she stepped foot into Fool’s Gold. She was so optimistic, bubbly, fun, and sweet. She was such an endearing heroine and I couldn’t wait to read her story. I loved her with Gabriel, and although he did little things for her in his own way, he really needed the chance to get his head on straight before he could be everything that Noelle needed. I wanted him to get there quicker, so that we would have a little more groveling time and seeing some HEA moments between them. Instead, the end felt extremely rushed and it felt like within a matter of pages Gabriel left, realized his mistake, came back and they declared their everlasting love. The end turned me off a little, to be honest.

I did feel so bad for Gabriel, especially as we got to see just how painful his family life had been. With a drill sergeant father, he was practically forced into the military, when what Gabriel really wanted was something totally different. Each interaction we saw with him and his family was rough. Even toward the end when you could tell his dad was trying, it was hard to read. I wanted for his parents to support him unconditionally (as parents should), and instead he was put down and belittled, and it made me want to cry for him. But getting to see him stand up to his parents and really go for what he wanted was super special.

Getting to see so many secondary characters from this set of trilogies was great fun as well. I think Mallery really knocked this set of books out of the park, especially when it came to the strong female friendships. I loved getting to see Noelle with Patience, Isabelle, and Felicia. Their bond was so strong, and I can only hope that we get to see more and more of them. I adore this set of girls!

All in all I thought this book was a perfect way to round out the 2013 year of Fool’s Gold additions. Noelle got to bask in the awesomeness of her store at Christmas-time, while Gabriel was given the chance to heal and do some soul searching about his life goals. I loved their romance, as it built from friends to flirts to lovers. It was sweet and sexy. I’m anxious to hear all about the sports heroes in the next set of books though, and can’t wait to see what’s in store for Fool’s Gold in 2014.
I give Christmas on 4th Street a B
Cake - Lauren Dane Joint review originally posted here: http://thebookpushers.com/2013/09/10/joint-review-cake-by-lauren-dane/

MinnChica: I adored Dane’s writing, so anytime she puts out anything, I’m all over it. Given the fact that Gregori is tatted, pierced, and has a mohawk, well… I couldn’t put this quick novella down. I adored the romance between these two, and thought that Dane did a fabulous job telling us a sexy and sweet story in only 80 short pages. I have to say though, I really hope that we get to see more from this group of friends!!

E: Oh MinnChica I am there with you! I have been looking forward to reading this since I first heard about it. It was amazing how much Dane managed to pack into this novella. The sense of a long enduring friendship, the flashes of heat, and the struggle to put the past to rest, and seize the future. The fact that Gregori is so very intense made the peace he could find with Wren special and gave him a logical reason to fear losing it. I also hope that we get more set with this group of individuals because they are all characters.

MinnChica: Gregori was super intense, and while I completely understood his reasons behind running scared, I kinda wanted to punch him for it. :) He was so completely wrapped up in his own little world, and his own little pity party, that he wasn’t able to see what he had with Wren. Despite his sexy broody thing, I would have liked him to wake up a bit sooner. But Wren, oh Wren. I liked her so much! She was strong, knew exactly what she wanted, and wasn’t afraid to fight for it. If I could be besties with any book heroine, Wren would be toward the top of that list!

E: I agree, I think he took the coward’s way out and I loved how Wren and his personal assistant Kresley refused to enable his attempts to keep her in a little corner of his life. Each time Wren stood up to Gregori and demanded what she thought she was worth I had to cheer. I also enjoyed how confused he really was when people weren’t just falling in line like he expected because he is “Gregori”. I also really loved how Wren insisted on making her own way into the world of art and refused to use Gregori for his entree. It was another example of how she didn’t need him but wanted to share her life with him. She would also tell him things as she saw them and seeing Gregori think about her insights was amusing. I also thought it was so sweet that Gregori would go out of his way to have some sort of treat to share with Wren because he knew that she liked them. My heart melted when we got the rest of the story because it showed he really wasn’t all that self-centered and oblivious, just scarred from his past.

MinnChica: All in all I really enjoyed this short novella. Gregori was such an intense and loaded character, and Wren was just all around fabulous. Like E said, another thing that endeared her to me was the way she was so determined to make it on her own merit. I thought the romance was good, but I could have used a little more from Gregori, since he really didn’t seem to atone for his constant running. I hope to see more from Dane with this cast of characters.
I give Cake a B+

E: I loved reading this short novella. It was intense, emotional, vivid and satisfying while leaving me wishing for more stories set in this world. The interaction between Gregori, Wren, Kelsey and rest of the supporting cast was a treat to read. Dane has the ability to provide a great story regardless of the length which is an amazing skill. She continues to revalidate with each release why she has a prominent position on my auto-buy list.

I give Cake an A.
The Striker's Chance - Rebecca Crowley Review originally posted here: http://thebookpushers.com/2013/09/04/review-the-strikers-chance-by-rebecca-crowley/

Holly loves her job as a PR rep, and when she lands the contract to work with a big-time European soccer star, she has to help him to rebrand his image. Kepler is known in the tabloids as being a partier, a ladies man, and a killer on the field. But a car accident ended his European career and lands him in a struggling US team. Holly knows she can help Kepler, but was shocked at the sexual tension between them.

Kepler is looking for a home. A place to settle down, have some kids, and live out the rest of his soccer career for a team that can get behind him. North Carolina isn’t what he is used to, but he is enjoying it nonetheless. And Holly is definitely not what he expected. The chemistry between them is off the charts, but Holly is keeping her distance, and Kepler can’t do anything about it. Until Holly changes the rules of the game. Then, Kepler is ready to play the game of his life.

I don’t recall ever reading a soccer book, and although I know next to nothing about the game, I was intrigued anyway. While I liked the soccer aspects and Kepler, I had a hard time connecting with Holly, and thus believing in their romance.

I thought Kepler was a really well thought out and executed character. He came from a hard life, and made something of himself from nothing. The dedication and hard work that he put into his career was awesome, despite the fact that the press painted him as nothing more than a playboy. The fallout of losing his career was devastating, and I could feel his pain. I thought Crowley did an incredible job portraying him as a wonderful and tortured and fantastic hero.

For me, I really struggled with Holly. I could understand her desire to keep her work and her pull to Kepler separate. However, I just didn’t really get why she waffled so much with it. She would flirt and kiss and even lead Kepler on, and then pull back and claim they couldn’t move forward because of work. I got where she was coming from, but I really struggled with an emotional connection to her character because of the way she kept taking one step forward and two steps back.

Because of my disconnect with Holly’s character, I had a hard time connecting with the romance as well. Again, it seemed as if their relationship would move forward – flirting, kissing, and more. Then Holly’s brain would interfere and their relationship would slip back into a negative place. I struggled with why Kepler kept letting Holly come back and lead him around, and was glad that he was the one to finally put a stop to it. I just wish that Holly would have been forced to make some kind of grand gesture (like we always expect our heroes to do) when she was trying to win him back.

All in all I thought this was a decent debut from Crowley. I loved Kepler’s character, and thought she did a fabulous job creating a hero I could love and support. For me, Holly and their romance fell short though, and made the story a little difficult for me to really sink my teeth into.
I give The Striker’s Chance a C+
Past Regrets (Love and Friendship) - Shelley Munro Review originally posted here: http://thebookpushers.com/2013/09/09/review-past-regrets-by-shelley-munro/

I’m not usually a huge fan of amnesia stories, as I think that sometimes the story suffers, however I like the twist that Munro put on this story.

While Ryan was on tour, he was mugged and knocked hard enough in the head that all his memories were more than a little screwy. The image of a woman he knows is important to him is all he has left of his secret wife, Julia. He doesn’t know how to get his memories back, and it isn’t until he gets the divorce papers that he starts gaining more and more memories of his sexy wife.

Julia is done with Ryan. She thought that since his band wore masks, that he wouldn’t be the average rock star. Instead, he hasn’t called since he left on tour, and she’s got enough problems with her family business failing. But when he comes back and wants a second chance, Julia isn’t sure she has the time to deal with her husband, and reimage the family-owned strip club.

I like that this story had a lot of fun elements. The failing strip club that Julia decided to turn into a Burlesque club was such a fun and neat theme to play throughout the story. I loved all the scenes at the club, especially whenever Julia or the other girls would dance. It gave the book such a sensual and sexy vibe.

For some reason, the book seemed to have a novella feel to it, maybe because so much of the story took place at the club — working on turning it around from a failing strip joint, to a classy Burlesque club. While there was a lot going on with the remodeling of the club, the romance portion of the story definitely felt like a novella. Julia and Ryan had to steal moments to work on their relationship, and because so much focused on the club itself, the book had an overall condensed and novella like feel to it.

I did really like the romance between Ryan and Julia though, especially as Ryan was getting his memories back. I liked that he would have to ask Julia about their past, about the things they did together, and how vulnerable that made him to her. I think it definitely helped that he was so desperate to remember, so desperate to have Julia HELP him remember, that it really helped him win her back over.

I thought the supporting cast of characters were great, especially Ryan’s best friend and fellow rocker, Caleb. I also loved all of Julia’s friends, and am looking forward to continuing the series to see how things work out with her friends on their dating show. :) I think that is bound to be hilarious and fun and sexy.

All in all I really liked this story and look forward to more. I thought Munro did a great job giving the amnesia trope a different spin, and I liked the way it worked for both Ryan and Julia. I loved their second chance at love, especially as Ryan was willing to do anything and everything to win his wife back. I’m definitely looking forward to more.
I give Past Regrets a B-