Christmas in the City by L.J. Shen and many many more

Christmas in the City is a total gem. It’s a Christmas (duh) themed anthology featuring the best authors, and is guaranteed to put a goofy smile on your face. It’s a total of six stories, co-written by twelve authors, including L.J. Shen, Helena Hunting, Penelope Ward, Penny Reid, Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy.

If you’re anything like me and don’t have nearly enough time for reading now that the holiday season is here, then you’ll appreciate this anthology for sure. Usually I prefer full-length novels, but during December especially, there’s never enough time to really immerse myself, and then bite-sized is the shit.

Christmas in the City is a super cute, sexy and altogether fuzzy collection of love stories that is bound to make you all warm inside. Personally, I was most excited to get re-acquainted with Jamie and Wes from Him and Us by Bowen and Kennedy, but every single one of the stories was perfect in its own way.

There’s a story of an encounter in Paris entailing a shoe full och dog piss and a missed tip, but that ends with epic sex and true love.

Then there’s the story with the christmas tree stuck in the door and where a sexy neighbour being neighbourly leads to so much more.

There’s the queen and the bodyguard, a story that is both sizzling and romantic.

The two strangers in Dublin, meeting on christmas eve.

The unexpected, but not unwelcome, consequences of kissing a stranger in a coffee shop on a dare.

And Wesmie of course. Oh my lordt, the feels!

So, basically, Christmas in the City is great for a quick fix of the feel-goods. In other words, perfect for this time of year. Read it!

07. December 2019 by swedishgirl
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Headstrong Like Us by Krista and Becca Ritchie

Headstrong Like Us is the 6th installment in the Like Us series and continues Maximoff’s and Farrow’s story. And if you’re like me and have read the first five books in the series, you’re already hooked and will love this one as well.

I adore this series. And I love Maximoff and Farrow. The world that the Ritchies have created in the Like Us universe is completely captivating. I just can’t get enough of all the intriguing characters of the Hale, Cobalt and Meadows families, or their bodyguards. Whenever there’s a new installment, I dive in and love every minute of it.

I can’t deny that Maximoff and Farrow – so far – is my favourite couple in the series. And continuing to read about them and the progression of their relationship is simply awesome. In a way, this book was almost like a really extended epilogue in that it’s a continuation that extends way after the initial ILUs. You get to follow them living in a solid relationship. It’s beautiful, sappy and wonderful.

So, trying to be somewhat objective in my review of this book is hard, but I’ll try.

As all of the previous books, Headstrong Like Us is written alternating between Maximoff’s and Farrow’s respective viewpoints. And I really like the dynamics between the two. They’re so obviously and helplessly in love with each other, but they express it in other ways than sentimental, flowery declarations. It’s depicted in such an understated, typically guy-way that is absolutely perfect. There couldn’t be a more suitable writing style to describe Maximoff’s and Farrow’s love story.

However, there is also a tendency to skip, or gloss over, significant incidents. At least incidents that I, as a reader, find important. Like Maximoff getting hurt, or conflicts that are resolved but without any details being provided. It’s a bit frustrating and annoying. Because really, it’s those juicy parts that keep the story interesting, and I felt a bit cheated on information on more than one occasion.

And also, I did have trouble with the baby.

Sure. It’s a big step to become guardians to a baby and you might say that it takes away some of the focus from the Marrow relationship. But most of all, it’s so bloody unrealistically described. It’s too picture perfect. Ripley, despite constant wailing is apparently the easiest baby in the world, having no effect on Maximoff’s and Farrow’s relationship. Which is bullshit. Because a baby up-ends everything. Mostly in a good way, but still. Sleepless nights, having another human being glued to you 24-7, vomit, pee and poop, incessant colicky screaming. The sleepless nights. And oh, yes, the sleepless nights. But in Headstrong Like Us, little baby Ripley is portrayed, not like an actual baby, but like a cute accessory. Something to be brought along anywhere or handed off when inconvenient. I can only surmise that the Ritchies don’t have kids themselves and haven’t met many parents with infants.

Still, despite these things, Headstrong Like Us is a great read. I particularly admire Farrow’s hair quality. His hair must be as strong as steel, the hardcore way he alternates between colouring and bleaching it without it dissolving into dust is enviable.

28. November 2019 by swedishgirl
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The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams

The Bromance Book Club is an adorable romance. It’s sweet, funny and gave me all the feels. It’s a guaranteed favourite for everyone who enjoys romance, and it’s the first in a new series I imagine will become immensely popular.

The story is about professional baseball player Gavin and his wife Thea. After finding out that Thea has been faking her O’s their entire marriage, Gavin’s self esteem takes a huge hit. Instead of trying to resolve anything, he cuts her off. When she later wants a divorce he’s crushed. She’s the love of his life and he’ll do anything to win her back. The help comes in an unexpected form; a romance book club for men. A bunch of macho guys reading feminist smut to try to understand their wifes and girlfriends better.

The Bromance Book Club is super funny. The description of the manly-men discussing the female perspective and feelings in general is hilarious. But there’s also a serious undertone, because the lack of understanding the Bromance guys start out with feels painfully realistic.

The main characters are wonderful and so endearing. The story is written as alternating between the viewpoints of either Gavin or Thea. And their rocky journey finding their way back to each other is everything you could possibly want from a romance. I highly recommend this read.

Personally, I wouldn’t have minded a bit more of the naughty. But since The Bromance Book Club is more of a romance than anything else, it’s all good. Just know that the amount of smut is limited.

But in short, this is a great read. It’s so warm and sweet without being over the top sugary. And there’s a perfect balance between the humour and the feels. Even though it’s a story about saving a marriage, it’s absolutely a low-angst story and will leave you feeling happy and satisfied. In an entirely asexual kind of way.

24. November 2019 by swedishgirl
Categories: Great, Okategoriserade, Romance | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Sharing Hailey by Samantha Ann King

So, I was in the mood for some ménage. And after reading another one of King’s books – Waiting for Ty – I decided to give this M/F/M story a try. And I wanted to like it. I really did.

Sharing Hailey is genuinely well-written with a thought-through story-line. But I just couldn’t get into it.

The story is about Hailey who’s been seriously attracted to two of her brother’s friends for years. Just after breaking up with her boyfriend, she goes to Hawaii on vacation with her family – and her crushes Mark and Tony. Needless to say, things get hot in Hawaii. But then Hailey’s abusive ex shows up.

There are a few things that had me disliking this story. The first one was that Hailey kept referring to herself as a slut for getting involved with two men. Someone slut-shaming themselves is a serious turn-off.

Secondly, I just didn’t feel for the characters. They didn’t turn into the three-dimensional individuals they needed to be to be engaging. They were all very superficially depicted without any real personalities. Hailey had two settings; horny damsel in distress or scared damsel in distress. Mark and Tony were in turn either horny or protective. Or both. And all three of them were just so bloody serious and broody all the time, except when they were shagging. Infatuation, love and sex are supposed to be fun. It wasn’t.

Third, ménages where two of the participants ignore each other isn’t sexy. Or even worse. If they get all angsty if they happen to touch. For a threesome to be hot, all three need to be involved and attracted to each other. Two guys going at it with one woman and entering a three-way relationship, it doesn’t appeal at all if the guys aren’t into it with each other too.

And finally, and probably because I couldn’t really care about the characters that much, the end chapters had me bored to tears. Stories with abusive exes usually end with this final showdown and then there’s some kind of epilogue and a HEA. But Sharing Hailey didn’t. Instead, after the final confrontation with Hailey’s ex, there was quite the aftermath where Hailey, Mark and Tony needed to come to grips with some issues. And it was so boring I barely managed to finish.

Sorry. But those are my honest feelings about this story. I’m disappointed since I’ve read King before and liked her writing. Not so this time though. Despite that, it’s a perfectly fine story – for someone else. To me there was just too many off-putting circumstances that I couldn’t see passed to appreciate the story behind.

17. November 2019 by swedishgirl
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Final Play Cover Reveal!!!!!

Final Play by Eden Finley is coming the 25th of November. We’re getting epilogues for all of the guys in the Fake Boyfriend series and I’m so excited!!!!!!

14. November 2019 by swedishgirl
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Hat Trick by Eden Finley

Hat Trick is the 5th and last installment in Eden Finley’s Fake Boyfriend series. It’s simply the sweetest love-story and an incredibly emotional goodbye to her Fake Boyfriend universe. Finishing Hat Trick had me more than a little teary eyed knowing that there won’t be any more of these hilarious guys to get to know.

I guess this book could be read as a stand-alone, but that would be an enormous waste of the depth of the story. To fully appreciate this awesome romance you should definitively have read the previous four installments too.

 

Hat Trick is the story of how Jet and Soren finds their happily ever after. Jet’s the lead singer of a band struggling to make it big. Soren is a hockey player and Jet’s senior by ten years. Three years ago, Jet and Soren shared an unforgettable night together, but the next day Soren learned that Jet was the kid brother to one of his friends, and Jet was leaving on a tour. It was like they weren’t meant to be. When they meet again, both recently single, they get a new chance at love. But is it even possible to make a relationship work without one of them giving up on their career?

This story has so much going for it. It’s a second-chance romance, there’s the sexy rock-star meets hot athlete angle and there’s the age gap. The slight taboo of getting involved with a friend’s sibling doesn’t hurt either. And it’s all wrapped up in the hilarious comradery of a group of super competitive, and a bit immature, professional athletes that we’ve gotten to know in the previous four books.

For a Fake Boyfriend book, I’d say it’s one of the cutest in the series. Meaning there was very little angst and conflict. But I can honestly say I can’t be particularly objective when reviewing this read. I’m to0 emotionally invested, which I’m sure is the case for all of Finley’s fans now saying their goodbyes to the Fake Boyfriends. So I can just say that I loved Jet’s and Soren’s story. It’s a super charming romance and so funny with all the antics the gay brigade gets up to. It’s humour and love in the very best combination. And there’s also some very hot dick-action which is always a win.

The one thing that kept bugging me is Soren’s name. So, his name is Caleb Sorensen. But to a Swede it’s painfully clear that it should be Sörensen or Sørensen since it’s obviously a Scandinavian name. So every time I read Soren, I went back and forth between the two different pronunciations. First the English version, then the Swedish and then back to English. Every. Single. Time. That was a bit exhausting.

But even though Finley says this is the last book. I’m hoping she’ll change her mind. There are new characters in Hat Trick that deserve their own HEA, so I’m rooting for them and for Finley’s inspiration.

12. November 2019 by swedishgirl
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Alpha’s Sacrifice by Nora Phoenix

Alpha’s Sacrifice is an unexpectedly fun read. It’s also gay erotica bordering on porn. So in that sense, it’s awesome. It’s the first book in the series Irresistible Omegas which so far has seven installments.

It’s definitely not for everyone though, and that ‘s not even because of the gay raunchiness but for a whole lot of other reasons. First of all, this is a poly-amorous story with four men. Then it’s the fact that the story is set in a somewhat dystopian society where everyone, male and female, are defined and restricted by their inherent position as either Alpha, Beta or Omega. In this world, humans are descendants of wolf shifters but unable to shift. What remains are some animalistic instincts and behaviours, and a very unequal and unfair society where Alphas are kings, Betas constitute the common class and Omegas are repressed and subjugated property. And finally, the Omega males in this world can actually bear children. So. For this read, an open mind is necessary.

The story revolves around Veino, an Omega living with his best friend Palani after being disowned by his parents. Veino and Palani are lovers, but Omegas go into heat every few weeks and are biologically dependant on being fucked by an Alpha to stay healthy. Only, Palani is a Beta and Veino gets sicker with each heat without Alpha-spunk. Through the help of Enar, an Alpha and a physician, Veino and Palani are introduced to Lidon who is the ultimate Alpha-male. Lidon agrees to get it on with Veino during his heat, and after, neither of them can stop thinking about the other.

What surprised me about this read was that it actually had more content and depth than I ever could have imagined. It wasn’t just a simple fuck-fest. The world-building is quite good. I would have wanted to learn more about the society but instead, readers are only allowed small peeks of it, mainly through the retelling from one of the four main characters. Which is a shame really. The societal hierarchy is super interesting, with the Omegas being discriminated left and right. They’re a weird combination of 50’s housewifes, eager puppys and submissive sex-addicts. But apart from the similarities to many past and present societies, there’s also an interesting plot being unravelled that centers around a particular Omega gene variant, the medical industry, dirty cops and decisive anti-Omega legislation. So Alpha’s Sacrifice was pretty much a page-turner.

It’s a very well-written book, the characters are engaging and you crave to learn more about them. It is hard though, I think, to manage to develop four characters instead of the more regular two that are found in most romances. Phoenix does a good job of it though, and she’s a great storyteller.

Unfortunately, this is not a stand-alone. So, not only did I not get to know what will happen with the plot, the book also ended just before the first full-on M/M/M/M orgy. Kind of inconsiderate of Phoenix if you ask me. The sequel is called Alpha’s Submission and I suspect I’ll need to read that one too. For plot-closure of course.

09. November 2019 by swedishgirl
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Man Cuffed by Sarina Bowen and Tanya Eby

Man Cuffed – coming November 19is the very best of rom-com. Hilarious, sexy and impossible to put down. It has it all; A grumpy, muscly, alfa-male with a bit of a gooey center. A strong, kickass and wonderfully self-assured heroine. And all the wonderful shenanigans those two get up to.

The story is about Meg. Strong-willed and confident, she’s trying to make it as an actress while working different serving jobs to pay the bills. When moving into a new apartment, she soon discovers that her new neighbour is a hunky police officer. A police officer she once mistook for a stripper and tried to rip the clothes off of. Mac, a.k.a. hot cop, doesn’t do relationships. Emotionally closed off after being betrayed by the people closest to him, he only ever does hook-ups. But he does need a date for his sisters wedding, and his new, sexy neighbour agrees to pretend to be his girlfriend.

Man Cuffed is awesome. It’s the only way to describe it. There were just so much to love about it. First, the humor. It’s funny AF! The witty kind of funny where, after you stop laughing, you cant’t help but wonder how the author can possibly come up with it all.

Then, it’s the steamy love story. Naturally. It’s sizzling chemistry all the way and a story-line that that keeps you guessing. Wonderful.

I must admit, in the smut and romance genres, I haven’t really considered cops to be particularly swoonworthy. But Mac was the ultimate man-meat. Bowen and Eby truly succeeded in creating a deliciously sexy character in him.

But finally, and most of all. What makes this book stand out is Meg. Sure, all romance novels have more or less strong female leads. But they’re also, way too often, still in need of a manly-man to come save them in one way or another. Meg is strong, but most of all she has a sense of self-worth that isn’t portrayed within the genre very often. She’s not perfect by any means, but she has a backbone of steel and she’s hilarious to boot. That’s another thing to love about her – and the book. Funny female characters aren’t that usual. At least the ones that are funny without putting themselves down. Simply put; Meg is by far one of the best female characters I’ve encountered in the rom-com genre.

In conclusion. Man Cuffed is amazing. I read it. I loved it. And now I need to read all of the other books in the Man Hands series. You should too.

06. November 2019 by swedishgirl
Categories: 5-star reads, Delicious smut, Entertaining, Romance | Tags: , , , , , , | Comments Off on Man Cuffed by Sarina Bowen and Tanya Eby

Iced by Jacob Chance

Iced by Jacob Chance is a college romance. A story of Ava, a talented dancer who’s sworn off men, and Oliver Ice, a sexy hockey-player who’s determined to stay clear of everything female at least until graduation. But plans are made to be broken and when Oliver agrees to play the role of Ava’s boyfriend at a weekend family get-together, it’s the start of a friendship that has all the makings of becoming something more.

This is a really sweet story. Ava and Oliver are both reluctant to trust after being burnt, but then, when they stopped looking for love, love found them instead.

It’s a very well-written story and Oliver is truly the prefect boyfriend. And I think that’s one of the reasons I had trouble to enjoy this read. Both Ava and Oliver are just so perfect. Too perfect. They’ve both been cheated on by their exes, but that’s the only trouble in their paradise. It’s also in their past. So there was minimal drama, smooth sailing throughout and no particular emotional highs or lows to be seen, or felt, in this case.

Also, since this was a college romance, the story taking place at a college with, not surprisingly, college-aged characters, I would have expected some college-aged antics. Some humor. Some laughs. But most characters – and most especially Ava and Oliver – acted more middle aged than anything. They were just so freaking mature and (this hurts me to say but) boring. Well mostly. They didn’t feel like twenty somethings at all.

So, Ava’s and Oliver’s freakish maturity combined with the lack of humor and any real conflict had me feeling quite lukewarm towards this read. Not even the nooky was enough to cheer me up. The only book by Chance I had read before (Depravity, book 1 in the King University series) was hot hot hot. Meaning I was counting on some scorching action in Iced as well and was quite disappointed in what I got.

But despite my feelings about it (or, in this case, the lack thereof), Iced is a perfectly fine read. It just wasn’t for me. I require more angst in a story, more emotion and tension, more imperfections and some high quality naughty to enjoy myself. But it’s a really well-written story, albeit short, with lovely characters and a HEA. So, for me, Iced is a solid 3-star. The fabulous cover picture (love it!) might raise the grade to a 3.5 though. But either way, I’m quite positive that for someone more appreciative of sweetness, Iced will be a 5-star.

03. November 2019 by swedishgirl
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Broken Knight by L.J. Shen

I loved this book. And hated it a bit too. It was just so overwhelming. An emotional roller-coaster of epic proportions. All the feelings, all the time. Exhausting in the very best way.

In other words, this is an awesome read!

Broken Knight tells the story of Luna Rexroth and Knight Cole. They’re neighbours, best friends and have loved each other as long as they can remember. But even though they both also feel love of the romantic variety towards each other, the universe – and their own self-destructive tendencies – seem intent on keeping them apart. Luna is the good, shy girl. A selective mute since early childhood, she’s struggles to find her place in the world. Knight is the high school heart throb, the star of the football team and Luna’s protector. He’s also trying to suppress his grief with pills and alcohol.

This is a story about growing up. About second chances, self-discovery and acceptance. It’s about two damaged and imperfect people, on the cusp of adulthood, trying to find their way back to each other while also finding themselves. There are so many layers to discover in this story, and so many depths to uncover. Frankly, it’s quite devastating in a way. In a bloody great way.

I adored the characters. Both Luna and Knight were instantly lovable. The fact that Knight could be such an insensitive douche and still so utterly endearing is a true testament to Shen’s talent. Because he was such an asshole! Over and over and over. But no matter what shit he said or did, Shen always counterbalanced that with his (often hilarious) inner monologue or some shitty circumstances that managed to keep Knight from tipping over into the totally unforgivable wanker-territory. In other words, pretty inspired writing.

So I loved this story, I really did. It sucked me right in and wouldn’t let go. I laughed and cried and felt with the characters. And I was irritated as all hell. There couldn’t be anyone else as hell-bent on sabotaging for themselves as Luna and Knight. The complete lack of communication and the level of misunderstanding those two managed to pull off was extremely annoying. But despite that and despite the ups and downs, this is a great, great story. This is my first read by L.J. Shen, but there will definitely be many more.

30. October 2019 by swedishgirl
Categories: 5-star reads, Romance | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on Broken Knight by L.J. Shen

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