Heller Brothers Series – Hockey Romance by Kelly Jamieson

Breakaway (Book 1) – The story of Remi and Jase reviewed here.

Faceoff (Book 2) – The story of Kyla and Tag.

Kyla is an up-and-coming lawyer who grew up with the Heller boys. They have been close since they were little, Kyla trying to keep up with the much more athletic boys. She’d had a crush on Tag since her later years in high school, but she buried it. When her mom tells her about a week-long double family reunion between her family and the Hellers, Kyla is reluctant to go. She is in the running to become partner at the law firm and work is her focus. After fighting the boys club mind set at work for too long, she gives in and goes away for the week with the family.

Tag is dealing with the movie of his professional hockey from Phoenix back to his hometown of Winnipeg. With the crush of publicity, media requirements, and pressure to pull his teammates through the move, Tag is grateful for a reason to get away for a week. What he and Kyla did not reckon on was the firing attraction that blooms as soon as they see each other again. They spend the week getting familiar with each other again and dealing with their attraction and the impact it would have on their families.

The book wasn’t too bad, but it was very predictable. You could tell pretty much exactly what was going to happen and there wasn’t anything really surprising. There was the topic of developing a work/life balance that was a nice backdrop to the romance. It was very erotic and focused quite a bit on sex scenes. There was the addition of some kink in this book as well. I wouldn’t say it was my favorite book or even that I would read it again, but that is just me. It doesn’t mean the book is bad, just that I personally won’t reach for it again.

One Man Advantage (Book 3) – The story of Nicole and Logan.

After Nicole is basically called a hockey whore on live television by her ex-boyfriend, she vows never to date another hockey player. In walks Logan Heller and throws her plans off track. Logan is not searching for a relationship. He has just been traded to Minneapolis to try to help bring the team out of a slump. He is not happy about leaving his comfortable, sunny California, but he has not choice. He finds a happiness and love with Nicole he has never known anywhere else. Nicole however is fighting the relationship with everything she has and often hurts Logan in the process.

This book is probably the most believable so far. It seems like a perfectly plausible meeting and relationship development that would actually occur. Even the emotions the characters feel is quite real and logical even if the road from hello to love was quite fast. I wasn’t really able to connect with the characters though and felt they needed to be developed a little more. There was more kink in this book than the other two and also seemed to focus heavily on the physical relationship between the characters. I think that was an issue I had with it as I like to read about the emotional growth between the characters that leads to a relationship where this book was missing that.

Hat Trick (Book 4) – The Christmas book.

I was actually quite disappointed with this book. It was supposed to be the Christmas book where the boys and their girl friends go to the Heller house for Christmas. You would expect a standard issue or two popping up as they pretty much have to in a romance book, but for some reason the characters in the book had issues that caused a LOT of issues. One character became a real asshole for a while. I tried to think that yes there are really people like this, but it seemed a bit on the extreme end. It did a good job of showing how issues really disrupt lives and people deal with things a lot differently, but the book just didn’t come together well in my mind.

Offside (Book 5) – The story of Honey and Matt.

This was probably one of the best books of the lot. You have Honey, a young woman with the rich wildchild past trying to make something of herself now and trying to move on from her past. Your hero is Matt Heller, who was very comfortable in his position in California when he is traded up to Minnesota to help revive a sluggish hockey team. Honey and Matt had a past when Honey was in the height of her crazy days and he helped instigate her parents to finally curtail her. When they meet again, the attraction is still there, but Honey has a lot to deal with and fights Matt most of the way. Throw in the emotional turmoil that Honey deals with and the hard life reality she makes herself face, you actually have a good emotional read. You get to see Honey and Matt deal with difficult emotions and checkered pasts as well with the real life effects that people and pasts can have on current emotions. Like the other books, there is a lot of sex and erotica, but this book has a genuine storyline that makes you feel for the characters, particularly Honey.

Overall rating:

Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 12.29.30 PM

Advertisements

Born in Shame (Irish Born #3) by Nora Roberts

Since I loved Born in Ice so much I decided to continue with the next book in the series. The story begins with Shannon Bodine, the mysterious half sister the Concannon girls were looking for, learning about her real father right before her mother dies. Not too soon after that, the private detective tracks her down and presents Shannon with the invitation to visit Ireland and meet her sisters. Shannon initially resents this and fights against this new knowledge. Eventually she gives in and take a leave of absence to go to Ireland to figure out what she wants to do with her life – not to meet or get to know her sisters.

When she arrives, she begins to fall in love with the country. Murphy immediately begins to fall in love with her. Through the book, Murphy and Shannon develop a strong relationship even as Shannon fights it. The majority of the book is Shannon dealing with and learning to accept that she is a part of this country and has a father that would have loved her if he had been able to. This is complicated by the feelings she has about betraying her father, the one that raised her, and her mother while coming to love her biological father and the sisters she has. The relationship between Shannon and Maggie is extremely rocky as Maggie doesn’t believe Shannon will accept the changes in her life or the people she has now. While she is in the country, Shannon takes the time to explore her painting talent. Everyone is blown away by her skill and work and even Sweeney, Maggie’s husband, convinces her to put her work in the local gallery.

This story was very complex and well written, I myself just didn’t particularly like the visions aspect that was wound into it. As soon as Shannon arrives, she begins to have dreams that  seemed to be memories of a long time ago and a man that reminds her a lot of Murphy. When she brings them up, Murphy has had the same dreams and is convinced that is how he knows Shannon is going to be the woman he is supposed to marry. She fights that as well.

There is a lot of conflict and emotional turmoil in the book. I didn’t like it as much as Born in Ice because I don’t think I could relate to Shannon as well as I did to Brianna or Maggie. It is however a good book and ends the trilogy rather well. There are a lot of conclusions and endings to issues that were around in the first two books and it was satisfying to have them worked out.

My rating:

Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 12.29.16 PM

Breakaway (Heller Brothers #1) by Kelly Jamieson

I hadn’t actually intended this book to be a part of my 2016 reading challenge. I found the set on sale in the Kindle store and decided it sounded good. I like simple hockey romances so I just picked it up for fun. I needed to relax the other night so I thought I’d read one of the books in the series. It was only after I started reading I realized the main female character was a teacher. It just kind of worked out and now I’m one more down on my reading challenge.

The story follows Remi, a sixth grade teacher, and Jase, a professional hockey player. The meet in a club when neither of them wants to be there. Remi had just helped her younger sister move out of the family home and Remi was finally on her own. Jase had just broken up with his super model girlfriend and wasn’t interested in finding anyone. One thing leads to another and they end up in bed. They meet again by accident at a presentation at Remi’s school where she finds out he’s a hockey player and he finds out she’s a teacher. He doesn’t like teachers having had bad experiences with them when he was younger. The core of the story is them both dealing with their past, and current, issues and how they start to build a relationship by accident.

The book is predictable and heavily focused on the sex. It was good for a simple hockey romance. The characters were developed but could use a little bit more. There is a variety of emotions and it does a good job focusing on the emotional growth between the characters. I’m not a bit erotica fan which is what this crosses into at points. However, for an erotica book there is a decent story line and a good bit of story in between sex scenes. The writing was good and easy to follow. The story line fairly believable and flows well. I liked the addition of the baggage the characters brought and dealt with throughout the story. The development of that baggage could’ve been done more intensely. Some of the things they were dealing with would not have been solved that easily or quickly.

The book is definitely intended for mature audiences. I’d recommend it to fans of hockey romance, erotica, or just needs a good read to unwind to.

My rating:

Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 12.29.30 PM

Born in Ice (Irish Born #2) by Nora Roberts

For some reason I always forget how much I enjoy Nora Roberts’ books. I was cruising for a new audiobook to listen to and stumbled across the Irish Born trilogy. I looked through each book and decided this one sounded the most interesting. I was not disappointed.

The narrator of the book was Fiacre Douglas. He has a deep Irish brogue and is quite delightful to listen to. The only real issue I had with his dialogue was every once in a while you couldn’t tell between dialogue and text reading. It wasn’t a major issue though and didn’t impede the book in any way.

The story is about Brianna Concannon and Grayson Thane. Brianna is a young woman who runs the Blackthorn Cottage Inn. Grayson is a world-renowned murder mystery writer who is looking for an out of the way place in Ireland to find the environment for his next book. He stays at the cottage for six months, doing research, writing his book, and learning about the people. He comes from no where, has no one, and claims no place as home. Brianna, her family, and the town confound him with their roots and ties. He is unable to understand them and the pull that gets stronger and stronger around him. Brianna, a strong soul who survived an unloving mother and a failed engagement is somehow confident in her emotions and feelings for Gray as the story progresses. She asks no promises and demands nothing as she falls deeper and deeper in love with him. The story is further wound up with a mysterious stock certificate and love letters found in their father’s possessions that Brianna decides to clean out.

The whole book is an emotional roller coaster. My heart was pulled every which way as Brianna and Gray in turns indulged and fought their relationship. Furthermore, the relationships between Brianna, her sister Margaret, her mother, and Murphy keep the in-between times full of interesting events and strong emotions. The book is in turns heart-wrenching and laugh out loud funny. I would find myself laughing and smiling in my car as I listened.

Even though the book is part of a trilogy it is completely a stand alone book. I am eager to start the next one in the series and then go back to read the first. The romance scenes are not overly explicit, just implied which is a nice change from some of the other romance books which seem to focus on the sex and not the growth of the emotions and relationships. I loved listening to how emotions grew and changed between the characters. I fully recommend it to anyone interested in a good romance.

My rating:

Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 12.27.43 PM

The Wilde Sisters Trilogy by Sandra Marton

I don’t know why it took me so long to write my review of this trilogy, but here it goes. This trilogy just happened to fall in my lap on sale in the Kindle store and since I needed a trilogy for my reading challenge I figured I’d read it. It was an easy read and rather short if I remember correctly. The collection follows the love stories of three sisters.

Sex and Sensibility

This story follows Emily and Marco. Emily is picked up by Marco in the middle of the night walking in the rain. On the drive to her house, she answers his questions, admitting she is out of work and can play piano. Marco finds her a temporary job playing piano at an opening of one of his new buildings, but the human resources department hires her as his personal assistant instead based on her resume. The attraction between them grow and they eventually give in, with multiple discussions about how to behave in the workplace. They have some trouble and arguments, but it ends happily.

Fire and Ice

This story follows Jaimie and Zach. Jaimie is starting out in real estate and happens to end up at Zach’s apartment thinking she has an appointment to talk to him about selling his apartment. He knows nothing about this and the confusing meeting ends up as a steamy night due to a power outage. Unfortunately, Jaimie has a stalker and her brother hires Zach (unknowingly thinking they have never met) to protect Jaimie. One thing leads to another and Zach ends up showing himself but not explaining why he was really near by. The story builds from there as they figure out who is stalking her, deal with their growing romance, and she discovers the truth of his visit.

Sugar and Spice

This story follows Lissa and Nick. Lissa is a trained chef who gets stabbed in the back by her boss/partner and ends up looking for work outside Hollywood. Her agent sets her up as the chef at a ranch in Montana. Unbeknownst to her, the ranch is not a fancy dude ranch and the owner is a retired actor. The two clash heads most of the time despite their attraction to each other. Eventually they give in and Lissa tries to help Nick to heal from his troubled past.

Overall

I didn’t have an issue with the books too much as romance reads. There is a lot of erotica in them, but for the most part they are quick, steamy reads. However, since I am slowly drawing away from romance, these are books that are why. There is no way a lot of these scenarios would actually happen. The last book, Sugar and Spice, I liked the best because it was actually believable (not all of it, but most of it). People don’t just fall in love with a one night stand or during a stalking incident. Furthermore, the love interests of three sisters in different parts of the country don’t miraculously know each other already. However, the story lines were decent, they moved really well, and I had not trouble with the language or grammar. The characters are relatable and well-developed. If you are looking for a good summer, weekend, or steamy read these are the books for you.

My rating:

Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 12.29.30 PM

Amanda’s Blue Marine by Doreen Owens Malek

I found this book somewhat of a let down. Don’t get me wrong – it is a good book, just not quite what I wanted. I wanted a well-written book that followed a pretty standard storyline, but adapted it somehow. The adaptation was good, but it could have been worked a lot better in my opinion.

The story follows Amanda and Brendan. Amanda is a well-born woman who went to school to become a lawyer so she didn’t have to live off her trust fund. In her job as an assistant at the DA’s office, she picked up a stalker. She gets the red carpet treatment at the police station thanks to her father and ends up assigned to Brendan. Brendan helps to find her stalker and keep her safe, with the two of them falling for each other every step of the way. This causes problems with Amanda’s fiance, Tom. Amanda ends up choosing Brendan (not really a spoiler since it’s a romance novel). After they get together, Tom comes after them with a vengeance.

The characters could have been developed a little more strongly. Amanda is a solid character, well-developed and relatable. However, she is the only one. You don’t really learn anything about Brendan until the very end. He’s there and you know what he feels for Amanda and his job, but not a whole lot else. You don’t really know anything else about him until the end, and it’s mostly just a lot of background on him thrown into conversations. He goes through a lot at the end, but you never get a feel for what he is going through, how hard it is, what he is dealing with, or how Amanda is helping him through it. I think that would have been a great way to work this book, really get into how he was dealing with the issues at the end of the book.

The core of the book is good though and you cheer on the couple most of the way through. It could have been developed a little deeper, complicated the storyline a little more, but not a bad book. I’d recommend it to anyone who wanted a simple summer read or likes the books where the lady falls for her protector.

My rating:

Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 12.29.30 PM

Back to Buckhorn by Lori Foster

I want to start by saying I was kind of disappointed this was only a novella. I’m used to reading the other Buckhorn books that are long and really detailed. I loved reading about the brothers falling in love and was hoping this would be similar. I was similar, but I think there could have been a lot more to the story. Saying that, the author did a good job for such a short story.

The story follows Garrett and Zoey. Zoey comes back to Buckhorn because her mom is in the hospital, and decides she is going to stay and set up a pet grooming salon. Zoey was run out of town years ago because of an incident that left her high school football star boyfriend dead. Garrett is the hometown golden boy and a firefighter. He has always been drawn to the quirky, odd ball Zoey and now sees his chance to make his move. The story describes Zoey falling back into the comfort of small time life and remodeling her house while still dealing with some hostility about the past. Garrett is there to help her as often as he can and defending her against the haters. It is a nice story, but like I mentioned it could definitely been fleshed out more. There is a good mix of drama, romance, and emotional upheaval to keep it interesting and moving well.

I really liked and could relate easily to Zoey. I thought she was a fun, down to earth, realistic character I would like to know more about. Garrett is pretty much a standard romance hero, but it was nice to see the relationship develop in the book. Unfortunately, the ending is somewhat abrupt and doesn’t quite feel finished. I hope we run into the couple in later books to see how they are doing and how the story line plays out.

I would recommend this to anyone who liked the Buckhorn books or Lori Foster stories. It is a quick read, and would be a good summer read.

My rating:

Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 12.29.30 PM

Delayed Penalty (Crossing the Line #1) by Shey Stahl

I was quite surprised by this book. First off, it is not really a novella – it’s a full length book. Secondly, it was what I had hoped for when reading hockey romance. Not a focus on sex, but a focus on relationships and the game. I had never read anything by Ms. Stahl before, but I will be looking into more of her work.

The story follows Evan and Ami. Evan is a 20/21 year old professional hockey player for the Chicago Blackhawks. Ami is a 17/18 year old orphan who Evan found almost dead from a brutal rape. Evan feels drawn to her and doesn’t leave her side during her recovery. Ami is drawn to him when she awakes from her coma. The begin a friendship and a deep connection grows between them throughout the story. I was fascinated by how the author portrayed Ami’s rape from Evan’s viewpoint. Usually you just read about the victim and all she is dealing with, but not here. It is how Evan handles the emotional pitfalls he feels as her friend and lover. Ami doesn’t remember much of her attack, so most of the memory comes from Evan. Throughout the story, Evan is constantly looking for the attacker because not knowing just rips him apart. They eventually find the guy, and there is more emotional upheaval at his arrest.

I loved the deep emotional quality of the book. Every character is thoroughly fleshed out and has a personality. You get to meet Evan’s family (who are from Pittsburgh by the way, my hometown – Go Pens!) and several teammates. You also meet Callie, a lively woman who tends to sleep with everyone on the team, but becomes a great friend to Ami. You read mainly from Evan’s point of view, but there is a lot of Ami in there as well. I wasn’t super drawn to Ami, but she is a lovable character and solid. I preferred Evan and Callie, they seemed more animated and fascinating.

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves hockey. It is not a lighthearted romance by any means, so if that’s what you’re looking for don’t read this one. However, if you are looking for a well-developed story with a strong emotional pull and intricate characters, this is a good book.

My rating:

Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 12.29.16 PM

What Wendy Wants by Nikki Sex

So this is one of the books I have found that is precisely as it was described. Let me start by saying it is a super short novella. It only took me an hour to read. It is definitely an erotica novel, too. I picked it up just for one of those fun, don’t have to think, I have an hour or so to kill reads. It didn’t disappoint. As I am not much into erotica, this was a little out of my reading zone, but I didn’t think it was too bad. I liked the premise and think a few men should read it LOL. The story line follows Wendy and her husband. They have slowly drifted apart and neither of them is enjoying sex much anymore after 13 years of marriage. Her husband accidentally grabs her Kindle on day and ends up discovering all of her erotica stories. As an analyst, his curious and analytical mind instantly started to unwind exactly what his wife wants in the bedroom. The rest of the story is him organizing and going through with his plans to give her everything she wants. Like a said, quick erotica story, but the love of the couple and the marriage they had built was inspiring. It also was a good lesson on honesty and openness within the marriage. I think the most amusing part was the husband reading all the erotica books. Not a bad read for the summer if you’re looking for one.

My rating:

Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 12.29.30 PM

Melting Away the Ice (Ice Series #1) by Mary Smith

I wanted to continue with my hockey novella reading in honor of the NHL playoffs, so I downloaded this book. I was hoping it was a well-written and thought out as some of the other series I had read, but it wasn’t. That’s not to say it was bad, because it wasn’t. It had a good story line, something a little different but not too different at the same time.

The story follows Sara as she is working to get back to herself before a terrible domestic violence incident. She is drug by her friend Rachel to a hockey game where she meets Lucas Sharp by accident. Lucas is the captain of the Chicago Eagles. He doggedly pursues her until she relents and, with the help of Rachel, gives in and begins dating him. Sara keeps Lucas in the dark for most of the story about her past. The story mainly focuses on Sara and how she is dealing with dating and falling in love. You get some of what Lucas is experiencing, but it strikes me as mainly surface emotion, or a general emotion that one would assume he is feeling through the different events.

I would like to guess this is an early writing, someone new to being an author. A lot of my issues were with phrasing and tense. She wrote in present tense which is always a little jarring at first. Furthermore, she had the Chicago Eagles as the reining team in the league. For some reason that bothers me. I would think it would make for a stronger book if the team was placed somewhere in the middle of the field. Also, I thought the progression of the romance was a little too quick for a domestic violence case. The emotional struggle of recovering could easily have been fleshed out and been more in-depth. But like I said, it felt like the writer was new. So hopefully her books will improve as her skills grow.

My rating:

Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 12.29.41 PM