Hurts to Love You (Forbidden Hearts #3) by Alisha Rai
(Avon, 2018, 369 pages)
The final book in the Forbidden Hearts series wrapped things up nicely. Keeping things in the Kane and Chandler families this book focuses on Eve, the youngest (and only) daughter in the Chandler family. She is getting ready to celebrate the wedding of her brother and his recently-reunited high school love, Livvy, but in the midst of wedding details she finds it harder and harder to ignore her attraction to Gabe Hunter, a surrogate-Kane if ever there was one.
Gabe was the child of the Kane’s housekeeper and was effectively raised with the Kane children. Tall, rugged, handsome, tattooed, known for his sexual prowess… he’s the man Eve has had her eye on since she was a teenager. What Eve doesn’t know is that in the midst of the wedding planning Gabe has developed something of a crush on her that he regularly tries to brush off.
While both Eve and Gabe try to deny their mutual attraction it seems like all the mishaps leading up to the wedding day are conspiring to get them to spend more one-on-one time together. Eve helps that along by deciding to put herself out there in a way she hadn’t really done before. As the two find themselves getting closer family secrets find a way of coming out… Neither Gabe nor Eve is sure they can handle the ramifications.
There’s no question that the first book in this series (Hate to Want You) was the one I enjoyed the most, but this one didn’t disappoint. I’m glad I discovered Rai’s writing and will turning to her when I’m looking for another contemporary romance to round out my TBR pile.
Hate to Want You (Forbidden Hearts #1) by Alisha Rai
(Avon, 2017, 371 pages)
Nicholas and Livvy have established a one-night rendezvous every year for the past decade. That’s all they get – one night. Then they go back to not communicating until the following year. The two have a complicated past. They’d been high school sweethearts but a rift between their families forced them apart. When Livvy doesn’t show up for her standing date with Nicholas he’s not sure how to handle things. He’d been counting down the days each year until he got to be with her. Then he finds out she’s back in their hometown and he won’t be able to rest until he finds out why she stood him up.
Meanwhile, Livvy can’t really believe she’s back home. She has spent the past ten years wandering around the country. The only reason she’s back is because her mom is recovering from an injury and Livvy wants to be supportive. The last thing she wants is to run into Nicholas… so naturally, he puts himself right in her path.
Nicholas and Livvy struggle to find a way to coexist in the same town without giving in to lustful urges they know will eventually do more harm than good. Even with their families doing everything they can to keep them apart, it’s hard to ignore their attraction to one another…
This was my first time reading a book by Rai and I loved it! She was actually recommended as a contemporary romance author I might like by Victoria Dahl (whose romance novels I love). I appreciate the writing, the multicultural cast, and just hearing a new voice. I definitely recommend her. I’m about to start book 3 in the series 😉
Sex Criminals, vol. 1 by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky
(Image Comics, 2014, 128 pages)
In case the title of this graphic novel isn’t descriptive enough, this is definitely a book that earned it’s “mature” rating. And not that I need to validate my reading choices (no one should ever have to do that) but this title was selected by TIME as one of their top 10 graphic novels for 2013 😉
Suzie is a young librarian with an interesting gift. When she has sex she has the ability to literally stop time. At first she’s not sure what to make of this ability, but then she learns how to make it work to her advantage. Then she meets Jon at a party and learns that he shares this same gift! They can’t believe they’ve found one another and then they get a brilliant idea for using their “power.” While time is stopped they’re going to rob banks… Nothing can go wrong, can it?
This is an ongoing series and volume 2 came out in March of this year. This was a unique read, for sure. It was quick and there was humor throughout. Just make sure if you decide to pick this up that you’re prepared for a fair amount of nudity (in case the title, cover, and summary didn’t clue you in). Happy reading.
Looking for Trouble by Victoria Dahl
(Harlequin HQN, 2014, 352 pages)
I’ve enjoyed Victoria Dahl‘s books in the past so when I saw she had a new book out I had to pick it up. This is the first book in a new romance series she is starting (set in one of Dahl’s favorite spots, Jackson Hole, WY) and it is taking things down a more “suggestive” route. I prefer my romances on the steamier side so I was fine with the direction Looking for Trouble went, if you’re more a fan of cozy/tender romances, this isn’t going to be the book for you.
Sophie is a librarian in Jackson Hole and while she likes dressing in 40’s style classic clothing she’s hiding a wilder side under her conservative exterior. When she finds herself crossing paths with Alex, a sexy new man in town (shaved head, tattoos, motorcycle), there is an instant attraction. She’s not looking for anything serious and neither is Alex. It’s the perfect setup. Except for the fact that the two have something of a shared past that goes back to when they were children and their parents (his dad, her mom) got involved with one another.
Sophie and Alex definitely have chemistry and they can escape from the reality of their lives when they’re together. They went into this looking for nothing more than a short-time fling, but will they find each other to be such kindred spirits they end up wanting more?
A fun, quick read. I’m not really into the whole motorcycle/bad boy thing, but I got past it. Having the main character be a librarian didn’t hurt 😉
The Mistress by Tiffany Reisz
(Harlequin MIRA, 2013, 464 pages)
When I picked this up I assumed it was a stand-alone title. Only after I finished it did I realize it was book 4 in a series – whoops. While I was able to follow the story and characters pretty well, it definitely would have made things easier if I’d had more background. If you can’t tell from the cover this is definitely a “steamy” read – not for those looking for a traditional romance and not for those who aren’t fans of detailed sexual “interactions.”
Obviously I have no problem reading books that are on the steamy side, but I wasn’t really prepared for the specific focus of Reisz’s novel. Part of The Original Sinners series, BDSM relationships are a central focus of the books. This wasn’t really my cup of tea, and just so we’re clear, this is not in the Fifty Shades of Grey category. Reisz channels the “real” aspects of this world and depicts true-to-life elements of those kinds of relationships. There’s also a religious element in the book that some people might not be comfortable with… I think I’ve addressed most of the concerns people might have before deciding to read or not read Ms. Reisz’s titles 😉
A quick summary:
Nora has been kidnapped by a woman who is seeking vengeance. Nora’s life is of little or no concern to her, she’s simply a means to an end. While her captor waits for her true prey to come forward Nora plays a present-day Scheherazade, keeping her captor’s interest with stories of her sexual exploits.
There are a number of individuals who will do whatever they can to get Nora back safely. Søren – who Nora has the closest ties with and who she has known the longest; Kingsley – who runs the business-side of Nora’s life, but still has a personal connection with her; Wesley – who is Nora’s fiancé and who claims Nora as his first love; Grace – a close friend of Nora’s who credits her with saving her marriage.
Timing is key here, but in this situation the stakes are such that freeing Nora without bloodshed is more or less impossible…
Obviously this book has some sexual elements interspersed with the drama of rescuing Nora… If you’re looking to branch out and this sounds like it might interest you, Reisz writes much better than E. L. James 😉 Just keep in mind the information I provided above.
Tear You Apart by Megan Hart
(Harlequin MIRA, 2013, 304 pages)
Megan Hart is one of my favorite writers when it comes to the “steamier” side of the things. While this could technically be marketed as a romance… it didn’t really feel like one to me. Elisabeth has been married for over 20 years to Ross, her college sweetheart. They’ve raised twin girls together who are now ready to graduate from college. Elisabeth and Ross have gotten to the point in their relationship where it’s kind of like they take each other for granted. They know each other so well, but there’s something missing…
Elisabeth works for her friend Naveen who owns art galleries. During one of his showings she meets Will who also happens to be one of the artists on display. There’s definitely an attraction there, but she’s married… Yet even with that reality the two can’t seem to stay apart and Elisabeth finds herself in a situation she never imagined being in with someone who doesn’t want to be “the other man.” Tear You Apart has you “rooting” for an ending that isn’t typical for a romance novel… and all I’ll say is I was surprised at the direction Hart went. She handles her books in a unique way and tends to deal with darker issues. Just because her books are steamy doesn’t mean she sacrifices the plot.
Not quite what I was expecting, but an entertaining read nonetheless. If you haven’t tried Hart and you’re looking for something… different, you might give one of her books a try.
Renegade by Lora Leigh
(St. Martin’s Paperbacks, 2010, 416 pages)
Mikayla enjoys a simple life as a bridal shop owner but once she witnesses a murder in her small town, things get a little more exciting. Maddix, the man Mikayla saw commit the murder, swears he’s innocent and has a strong alibi to prove it. So he calls in Nik to find out why Mikayla would lie about who she saw. Nik and Mikayla have an instant attraction and Nik begins to be more concerned with who is trying to kill Mikayla then with what he was hired to do. Nik must solve the case before he loses Mikayla forever.
It’s appropriate that the last novel I read for my romance class is the absolute cheesiest romance novel I have read all semester. Nik is the cliché hero who wears leather pants and has long blonde hair that he ties back with a leather strap. Nik’s nickname for Mikayla was his little fairy which I just cringed at every time I read it. The dialogue was outrageous and the ending would never ever happen. I can’t even pretend there’s a chance it would happen because it seemed like it was just an easy fix to end the novel with everybody happy. Lora Leigh was recommended to me but I think I just picked the wrong book of hers to read.
And that ends my romance class adventure! It was fun getting to read all the different subgenres of romance and discover new authors I might not have picked up before. But now I’m ready to tackle a different genre for a bit!