Donna Reads: Arm Candy by Patricia Ryan

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Nora Armstrong has just arrived in New York and is looking to start her own jewelry-making business. She’s staying with her cousin, Harlan, who she has no idea is gay until she meets his live-in boyfriend. Harlan picks her up and greets her with the idea that he’s volunteered her as arm candy to an aristocratic British man named David Waite in exchange for what he hopes is David’s business for Harlan’s event-planning enterprise. David is a fundraiser with many wealthy clients. David is cold and aloof, determined to keep Nora at arm’s length. Nora is forced by Harlan to pretend to be a glamorous model. Nora begins to fall for David and hates living a lie. 

There were parts of this book that I loved – the conversations between Nora and David, David’s friend Alec’s mother, Harlan and his boyfriend, and the romantic proposal at the end. Unfortunately what spoiled it for me were the scenes that made me feel uneasy. When a woman says “no”, it doesn’t mean try harder to subdue her and rip her clothes off. Sorry, that’s not romance, it’s rape. If the aim was to portray that this ultra-civilized man had a darker, more animal-like side, it could have been handled in a different way. Having him try to force himself on a virgin was distasteful, especially given what happened to her when she ran from him. Could the poor girl have had a shittier evening? I wish those scenes had been left out. 

Donna Reads: Friction by Emily Snow

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frictionI was a little disappointed with this one. Lucy Williams is having a rough life. Her ex-husband has worked her over big-time, and she’s had to go home to live with her mother. Her ex is still making her life miserable, threatening to sue her and as her ex-boss, he’s also blocked her from finding any decent jobs. She finds work with Jace Exley, an ex-classmate from High School. He’s a bit of a jerk, too. His business sells a line of “adult” supplies, and I thought the way he introduced her to what he did was particularly insensitive and childish. After he found out what she’d been through in the years since school, he could at least have apologized for being a complete ass.

I also wanted Lucy to get even with her ex. When she finally is forced to confront that creep and the further damage he causes in her life, I wanted her to really get even with him. He still manipulates her and pushes her (and her mother) around. I had hoped the hero would punch him, but that didn’t happen. I was waiting for Lucy to knee the ex in the crotch; I would even have been satisfied with her mother going after him, but sadly that didn’t happen either. I guess I’m too bloodthirsty, but I thought the ex-husband deserved some sort of comeuppance, and he doesn’t really get it, not the way he deserved it.

Donna Reads: The Baller: A Down and Dirty Football Novel by Vi Keeland

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ballerBrody Easton is an MVP football quarterback, and he’s an arrogant, insufferable ass. Delilah Maddox is a sportscaster, assigned to interview the football team in the locker room. In her first interview as a professional sportscaster, Delilah interviews Brody, and he drops his towel on purpose, just to fluster her. From that point forward, he decides to mess with her, and then he decides he wants to be with her. Delilah isn’t interested in having a fling with an athlete.

The story moved along fairly quickly, and I enjoyed the snarking back and forth between the two leads. However, there were too many ghosts from the past in this book. I was glad they found love again with each other; it just took them a while to get to that point.

The other woman angle is what spoiled this one for me. I hated the handful of chapters told from his first love’s POV. I skimmed most of those, reading only enough to get the gist of what was going on because I didn’t care what she was doing, thinking or feeling. She needed to be less prominent. She didn’t belong in this book.

Another issue I had is one that’s a pet peeve of mine – the lack of descriptive text. What did these characters look like? There wasn’t enough description about either one of the main characters or even in the romance scenes. Those were sadly lacking. I expected more, given his character and the way he dirty talked her all the time (and given that cover!). All I know of their physical appearances are that she had lots of dark hair, and he had green eyes. I couldn’t mentally draw a picture of either one of them. There was more description of the “other woman” character than there was of the two protagonists. Why?

Donna Reads: Filthy Rich (Blackstone Dynasty #1) by Raine Miller

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Billionaire Caleb Blackstone comes from a world of wealth and privilege. Brooke Casterley is the granddaughter of the Blackstone family’s former housekeeper. Brooke’s life has not been easy; it’s been tormented and tragic. She’s returned to Blackstone Island to live with her grandmother to help out as her Nan recovers from surgery. Caleb sees Brooke on the street and it’s love at first sight. When he sees her again later at a cocktail party, he knows she’s it for him. Brooke is a harder sell. She’s been through hell in her young life, and she’s not ready for a relationship nor does she believe that Caleb could be seriously interested in her.  

I really enjoyed the interplay between the two lead characters, the wit, the love and devotion. Brooke had survived a nightmare situation, and her reluctance to get involved with Caleb was understandable. His sweetness and persistence won her over. He was so romantic; some of the things he did and said were beautiful. Overcoming the past and adjusting to life together was not easy, and they had their challenges along the way. I liked this one.