Donna Reads: Listen to Me (Fusion #1) by Kristen Proby

Addison Wade and her four best girlfriends have opened a successful restaurant together in downtown Portland. She’s a former model who’s not had a great history with men, and she has a weakness for musicians. Looking to increase traffic at the restaurant, the women decide to hire musical entertainment. Jake Keller is a former rock star who walked away from a successful band and career five years in the past. He works mainly behind the scenes now, producing music. Addie sees him singing a song at an open mic night, and she instantly recognizes him. He makes eye contact with her, instantly drawn to her in the crowd. A friend of his later tells him about the opening at Addie’s restaurant. Not knowing that she is one of the owners, he shows up about the job.

When the story opened Addie was in a relationship, living with a jerk who was cheating on her. She jumped pretty quickly into a relationship with the hero, and the more we find out about her, we find out that she’s had quite a few men in her life. I didn’t like that about her character. Instead of making me see her as a strong, independent woman, I saw her as too easy. I don’t think the hero slept around as much in the past as she did. At least it wasn’t mentioned as much as her friends bragged about her exploits. That was a turnoff for me. I felt bad that she thought everyone abandoned her, but maybe she brought some of that on herself by jumping from guy to guy?

Jake walked away from the band when drugs and alcohol interfered. He also spent years blaming himself for a friend’s devastating accident and injury, thinking he was responsible for everything. He has missed performing, and singing weekends in the restaurant is just what he needs. He and Addie were cute together. I liked the teasing banter between the two of them. Addie doesn’t trust easily, but Jake is determined to be more to her than just an occasional bed partner. I liked him a lot. He has demons from his past, and yes, they catch up to him, and he and Addie have their struggles. He was a little clueless as to how his interactions with other women were perceived by his girlfriend, but he wasn’t a cheater.

This was a nice love story with a lot of sweet romance, great passion and mild angst.

Donna Reads: Under Locke by Mariana Zapata

lockeThe Blurb: He was my boss, my brother’s friend, a Widower, an ex-felon, and a man I’d seen casually with a handful of women. But he was everything that gripped me, both the good and the bad. Worst case scenario if things turned awkward between us, I could go somewhere else. I’d gotten over epic heartbreak before, one more wouldn’t kill me.

After moving to Austin following six months of unemployment back home, Iris Taylor knows she should be glad to have landed a job so quickly… even if the business is owned by a member of the same motorcycle club her estranged father used to belong to. Except Dex Locke might just be the biggest jerk she’s ever met. He’s rude, impatient and doesn’t know how to tell time.

And the last thing they ever expected was each other.

But it was either the strip club or the tattoo shop.

… she should have chosen the strip club.

When I read the blurb, I at first thought “Widower” meant he had lost his wife! It turns out that was the name of the motorcycle club. I read one of the author’s other books The Wall of Winnipeg and really enjoyed it even though that one had been slow-developing. The hero in the Wall was short-tempered, bossy and a little obnoxious, but as the book went on and you got to know the character, he grew on you. The hero in Under Locke, Charles Dexter Locke, is much the same.

I don’t get the whole “doesn’t know how to tell time” thing in the blurb. Dex gripes at Iris a couple of times about being late for work, but she’s not. No explanation is ever given for that – perhaps it’s just to suggest he’s a bit of jerk. The story was slow-moving and the romance non-existent until past the halfway mark. The heroine spends most of the book annoyed with the hero because she overhears him call her a “f@$#ing idiot”. She eventually confronts him about it, and he apologizes and says he often says things he doesn’t mean. Does she let it drop? No. She confronts him about it on at least two or three other occasions and makes the poor guy apologize and beg her for forgiveness over and over again. I kept wishing she’d just drop it. It seemed childish and petty after awhile for a character that had faced so many horrible and more serious challenges in her life. To be that upset over a stupid comment she’d heard seemed silly, especially after he was already showing her that underneath the gruff exterior he was really a good guy.

The motorcycle club part of it wasn’t really at the forefront of the story. I’ve read other biker books that were more over the top, rough, wild and dangerous in nature. I liked that it wasn’t as huge of a factor in this book. Dex was a member, her brother was a member, and her father was an ex-member. The fact that he was a talented tattoo artist wasn’t really played up all that much either. He did the Accounting details for the MC club. I really liked the hero and her brother as well as the other tattoo artists. They were all good guys and took good care of Iris. She ends up having to move in with the hero when bad guys beat her brother up as a result of something the father did. The brother then goes off with another club member looking for the father.

It was a long book, but then hers usually are. Some of the slower or more repetitive bits could have been edited out. Her estranged father was the bad guy in the story, and it took a long time for him to get his comeuppance, but it was satisfying when it happened. I loved the interplay and romance between Ritz and Dex once it started to develop. I’d recommend this one. I just wished the pacing had been a bit faster.

Image and blurb from Goodreads

 

Donna Reads: Reaper’s Legacy (Reapers Motorcycle Club Book 2)

reapers2In Reaper’s Legacy (Reapers Motorcycle Club Book 2) by Joanna Wylde, we meet Sophie and Ruger. The book opens with Sophie as a teenager dating Ruger’s younger stepbrother, Zach. Sophie ends up a pregnant teen, and her parents turn their backs on her. Ruger has always been there for Sophie, and he’s also been supportive and loving to Sophie’s son, Noah. Flash forward seven years, and Ruger is there for her again when she needs him the most. The only problem is that Ruger is part of the Reapers Motorcycle Club, and Sophie wants nothing to do with the club. She thinks they’ll be a bad influence on her son. She also sees Ruger as a man who isn’t looking for a permanent, long-term relationship.

This is a difficult one to review without giving away too much of the story. I enjoyed it but not quite as much as I did the first book in the series. I liked Ruger a lot. It was obvious to me that he loved Sophie all along. It just took him a long time to admit it. The explanation about one of his tattoos was certainly memorable. OMG. Sophie was harder to like. She needlessly put her son at risk when she didn’t need to, and she kept asking Ruger to bail her out. Noah seemed to be in more danger from things she did than he ever was with the bikers. Sophie was also way too negative about the people who welcomed her and did all they could to help her. She kept thinking they were the “wrong sort” to be hanging around with. Why did she think she was so much better than everyone else? That got tiring after a while. I would have appreciated her dropping her high and mighty attitude sooner.

The plot in this one takes an odd twist towards the end. I thought the story was going in one direction, and it went somewhere else entirely, kind-of out of the blue. It explains why Sophie never stuck with Zach, but it was also a little hard to swallow. I suppose Sophie had to reach the turning point she did so that she would accept the motorcycle club. It also gave her a chance to exact some revenge. I’m not sure I liked the twist, though. It felt like the author had to take her down to an all-time low before she saw the people who were good to her as equals.

 

Donna Reads: The Game Plan (Game On Series #3)

gameplanThe blurb:

NFL center Ethan Dexter’s focus has always been on playing football and little else. Except when it comes to one particular woman. The lovely Fiona Mackenzie might not care about his fame, but she’s also never looked at him as anything more than one of her brother-in-law’s best friends. That ends now.

My Favorite Line:

“I’ve been waiting two years for you to see me.”

Best romance hero ever. I loved Ethan Dexter. He was the big, strong, silent type and he loved Fiona Mackenzie from the moment he first saw her. It just took a few years for Fiona to catch up and mature enough to really look at Dex and actually see him.  When she does, she’s surprised at what she sees and wonders why she never noticed him before. I read this book twice back-to-back because I didn’t want it to end after I finished it the first time.

This book is the third and final book in the Game On series. It’s also my favorite. The players have moved on to their professional football teams, and all three are scattered across the country. Ethan and Fiona meet up when they are both visiting Gray and Ivy in San Francisco, and their story starts with a kiss, in a bar. Fiona idly wonders what it’s like to kiss a man with a beard, and once Ethan kisses her, she finds out what she’s been missing.

Kristen Callihan really nailed this one. If you’re looking for a hot romance, give this book a try. It’s amazing.