Donna Reads: Sweet as Sin (Bad Habit, #1) by J.T. Geissinger

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Sweet as Sin by J.T. GeissingerKatherine (Kat) Reid is a Hollywood makeup artist. She gets hired to work on the set of a famous rock band’s music video. When she arrives, she finds Avery Kane, the model girlfriend of Bad Habit’s lead singer, Nico Nyx passed out cold. Avery was to have starred in the video. When Kat meets Nico for the first time and stands up to him in defense of Avery, sparks fly. Nico decides he wants Kat to take Avery’s place. Thirty thousand dollars is a lot of money, and Kat agrees to do it. When world famous, gorgeous Nico outrageously pursues her afterwards, Kat doesn’t quite know what to do.

And I don’t quite know how to review this one. I really enjoy J.T. Geissinger’s writing. I loved Midnight Valentine, and I had high hopes for this book. I love rock star themed books. Frankly, this book was a bit of a mess for me, though. It was more of a melodrama than a quirky romance. I thought it was going in one direction, and then it veered off into another with tons of drama, shocking reveals about characters’ histories, and a bunch of angst. It was over the top and at times too much.

Nico had some deep, dark secrets in his past. He offered to tell her fairly quickly which was weird to me considering he didn’t know her well. She didn’t want to hear his story and instead got mad at him and walked away. That was silly and could’ve been avoided had she just let him talk. When she does hear what he’s hiding, she’s suddenly all in and part of his inner circle. It was all very cloak and dagger. That was silly, too. I would’ve preferred less drama and more time getting to know the characters better.

I had a hard time accepting the instant love he felt for her. Yes, she stood up to him. She also had a lot of baggage. Everyone in this book had buckets of baggage. Why did she fall for him? He could be sweet and romantic, but he also had this ugly, over the top, aggressive side that I hated. He was at times abusive. She never won any of their disagreements because he would overpower and physically subdue her. It felt wrong to me many times. That wasn’t love; it was aggressive domination.

There was also way too much ugliness in everyone’s pasts. Her friend Chloe appeared to be the only normal one. And what was up with her friend Grace? I couldn’t stand her bitter and nasty personality. When I finally reached the climactic scene with the villain, I skimmed it and couldn’t read it word for word. I’d reached saturation point with the drama. I don’t think it was necessary to have this much happening in one book.

Would I recommend it? Yes and no. I liked parts of it (the mariachi scene, the necklace, Kenji). I wish there had been less going on in it, though. It felt jumbled and too full.

Donna Reads: Midnight Valentine by J.T. Geissinger

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Midnight Valentine by J.T. GeissingerMegan Dunn is a widow who lost her husband five years in the past. Cass was the love of her life, and Megan is broken and lost without him. She and Cass had always planned to move from Phoenix, Arizona to Seaside, Oregon and buy and renovate the Buttercup Inn. When Megan decides to go through with their plans on her own, her doctor thinks she’s stuck in the past and unable to let go and move on. She herself wonders often if she’s crazy. Once she arrives in Seaside, she meets Theo Valentine, a scarred, mute man who survived a bad accident and is the contractor everyone in town recommends she use to work on the inn. Theo is moody and hostile, and even though she tries, Megan can’t seem to avoid him. For some reason, they are drawn to each other.

I loved this book. Megan and Theo had both been through terrible trauma. Both were damaged, lonely and depressed. I really liked Megan. In so many romance novels, the heroine disappoints me. Megan never disappointed. She was awesome. She was scared, she had doubts, and she went through a lot, but she stayed strong, resilient and true to character. I loved that she was sarcastic and snarky, and I loved her interactions with Theo. It didn’t matter that he didn’t speak. They communicated just fine. Their emails were especially cute and funny.

Poor Theo went through more than one man should have to endure in a lifetime (or two or three). He was tortured both mentally and physically. I felt bad for him at times. He was lucky to have Megan.

The underlying theme of this book was a love that was too strong to die or be denied.

This was my first read by J.T. Geissinger; it won’t be my last. In reading the author’s notes at the back of the book on what her original plans were for Theo, I am so glad she didn’t end the story the way she had intended. The happily ever after was much needed and appreciated.

Donna Reads: Beard Science (Winston Brothers, #3) by Penny Reid

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Beard Science by Penny ReidJennifer Sylvester has always been a bit of a joke, the town’s banana cake queen. Totally controlled by her parents, Jennifer has been told what to do, what to wear, what to say, and even what color to dye her hair. I felt sorry for Jen. She had no life. She was always baking for the family bakery, a job for which she was never paid. She had no life.

Cletus Winston is the Winston brother who is quirky and odd. His quirky, oddball facade covers his wily intelligence. Cletus plots and plans and there are reasons for everything he does. In the series thus far Cletus has been the Winston brother who’s been amusing and not much else. In this book we get to know Cletus and find out how smart he really is. He observes and collects information on everyone in town.

When Jennifer’s mother decides to make her daughter a television celebrity, Jennifer finally rebels. She turns to Cletus for help.

Jennifer was sweet and likable. I liked her growth over the course of the book. Cletus encourages her to change, and she sets out to find herself.

My only (minor) complaint with this book was that Cletus was a lot different from what I expected. He was almost simple in the other books. Here he comes off as shrewd and calculating. At times I had trouble reconciling him with the Cletus I knew and loved thus far in the series. He was more manly and romantic here, almost a different person. I liked him, but he wasn’t Cletus to me.

Donna Reads: Louder Than Love (Love & Steel, #1) by Jessica Topper

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Louder Than Love by Jessica TopperKatrina Lewis is a widowed mother. Grieving and lost when her husband died suddenly, she left her librarian job in New York City and returned to her childhood home in Lauder Lake where she’s spent the past three years just living her life. Her four year old daughter, Abbey, is a huge fan of a PBS children’s show about a cartoon detective cat, and the theme song is sung by a British musician. When Katrina decides to try to find the musician for a presentation at the small town’s library, she is surprised when he agrees to it and then shows up late and drunk. She’s even more surprised when he proceeds to charm the entire crowd.

Adrian Graves has a secret. He was once a world famous guitarist and part of a heavy metal band, but he’s run from that life. He spends his days hiding from life, a recluse. When he agrees to Katrina’s offer to sing and perform some silly songs from a children’s program, he never expects to find his way back to life again.

What I liked about this book:

1. That they were older. He was in his 40’s; she was mid 30’s.
2. Its sweetness. The love story is slow paced and slow to develop.
3. The little girl. Abbey was charming and never annoying.
4. The whole aging rockstar vibe was different and frankly, a welcome change.

What I didn’t care for:

1. Katrina’s friends. They were too high-schoolish and immature. I had trouble keeping track of who was who and/or caring. They weren’t integral to the story and some parts with them could’ve been edited out.
2. The whole no one knew who Adrian was thing. That got old. Her brother was a HUGE fan of the band. His old bedroom at Katrina’s parents’ house was covered with old band posters. Abbey was afraid of them. Somehow it escaped everyone’s notice who Adrian was? Come on. I’m not buying it. She would’ve recognized him immediately.
3. The fact that Adrian lived in New York City and no one noticed him. Then he steps on stage one time in one club, and he’s being chased down the street by rabid fans. That was a little far fetched, too.

Overall, I highly recommend this one, though. It’s a great but different rockstar romance.