Donna Reads: Managed (VIP Book 2) by Kristen Callihan

managedGabriel Scott is the manager of the rock band, Kill John. Scottie, as the guys in the band call him, is all business, arrogant, brusque and impersonal and exceptionally good at his job. Devastatingly handsome, always dressed in expensive suits and ties, he never has a hair out of place. Sophie Darling is a bit of an eccentric mess, with crazy clothes and wildly dyed hair. Embarrassed at having worked in the past as a paparazzi photographer, she now works as a social media specialist. On a flight to a job interview in England, she finds her coach seat unexpectedly upgraded to first class. Her seatmate is Gabriel who is irritable, cranky, and has zero interest in sharing the two seats he had reserved for himself. Sophie finds him amusing, and she gives as good as she gets until the plane hits some turbulence. Gabriel is terrified of flying. Sophie comes to his rescue, holding him close in comfort. She has no way of knowing that Gabriel is the man she’ll be working for, or that the rock band she’ll be working with is one she has a disastrous paparazzi history with.

Let me just say first that I am, unfortunately, NOT a huge fan of this series. I don’t know why. I wanted to love it, but I don’t. I loved Kristen Callihan’s Game On series (Gray Grayson and Ethan Dexter are two of my favorite romance heroes ever). I couldn’t wait to see what the author would do with one of my favorite genres, rock star romance. In the first book of this series (Idol), I never really connected with the cast of characters. Although Gabriel’s sarcasm in Idol amused me; I didn’t like Libby much at all; Killian was the best part of that book; and the others were a bit under-developed.

Managed was a slow burn of a love story. It was a decent read, but I was more than a little disappointed by the exceedingly slow pace. It took forever for Gabriel to unbend a bit and even kiss Sophie. Then the pace almost seemed to move too quickly after that. I would’ve liked a bit more in-between romance before their full-out, non-stop relationship. It felt like something was missing or lacking by not having more kisses and slow romancing. I would rather have had more of that instead of Gabriel’s health scare and boxing matches.

I enjoyed the book, but I didn’t love it. I liked Sophie and Gabriel, but I don’t think the supporting cast of characters added much to the story. Maybe it’s because I just haven’t connected with this group of people. Somehow they don’t fit well together for me. I had high hopes for Gabriel. I couldn’t wait to read his story. The pacing here was wrong, though. I wanted to love Managed, but it was just okay for me.


Donna Reads: Idol (VIP series #1) by Kristen Callihan

idolThe Blurb:

I found Killian drunk and sprawled out on my lawn like some lost prince. With the face of a god and the arrogance to match, the pest won’t leave. Sexy, charming, and just a little bit dirty, he’s slowly wearing me down, making me crave more. He could be mine if I dare to claim him. Problem is, the world thinks he’s theirs. How do you keep an idol when everyone is intent on taking him away?

As lead singer for the biggest rock band in the world, I lived a life of dreams. It all fell apart with one fateful decision. Now everything is in shambles. Until Liberty. She’s grouchy, a recluse—and kind of cute. Scratch that. When I get my hands on her, she is scorching hot and more addictive than all the fans who’ve screamed my name. The world is clamoring for me to get back on stage, but I’m not willing to leave her. I’ve got to find a way to coax the hermit from her shell and keep her with me. Because, with Libby, everything has changed. Everything.

I began reading this when it first came out in June. I am a huge fan of her books. I thoroughly enjoyed the Game On series, and I was anxious to see what she would do with rock star romance. I got into this book fairly quickly, but when I got to where it seemed the angst was about to really kick in, I put it aside. I liked the characters, and I liked the story. I just didn’t want to see them split up. I didn’t pick it up and finish it until the other day when I saw a review on the second book in the series. If I’m going to read book two, I needed to finish book one. I have to admit that I’m sorry I didn’t just finish it the first time. The book did have some angst but not as bad as I was expecting. I shouldn’t have prejudged; I should have just kept reading.

The story centers around Libby and Killian. Killian is a mega rock star. Libby is a talented recluse, living on her own and hiding from life. She has her reasons why she is the way she is. I enjoyed seeing her grow with Killian’s love and encouragement of her own singing and guitar playing. Killian ended up on her front lawn after a drunken motorcycle accident. He has his reasons for being where he is, too. A suicide attempt by a band member has forced the band’s temporary breakup. They are both lost and need each other, and they fall in love. When Killian returns to the band and the road, Libby is devastated. She does end up joining him and finding her own way on the stage. I didn’t like that she wouldn’t let him tell everyone they were a couple. She didn’t want the world to think she slept with him to get where she was. There were parts of her character and personality that I didn’t care for. I liked him a lot better than I did her. It was when the story seemed to be leading to the idea that she would be encouraged to go out on her own, without him, that I put the book down the first time. They do, of course, part, but they do, of course, come back together again. Overall, it was a good read.

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.

Donna Reads: The Friend Zone (Game On Series #2)

friendzoneIn the Friend Zone by Kristen Callihan, we meet Ivy Mackenzie and Gray Grayson. Ivy is a sports agent’s daughter, and Gray is a star tight-end college football player. Ivy has been studying abroad, and her father is working hard to sign the star college player to a professional contract. In need of a car, Ivy’s father loans her car to Gray. The only problem is it’s a tiny, bubblegum pink car. Gray receives an irate text from Ivy, threatening him if he dares damage her beloved car. A series of hilarious texts back and forth begin, and Ivy and Gray become best friends via text. The only problem is that when they finally meet in person, the sparks of attraction fly, but Ivy has vowed never to date one of her father’s clients.

I loved that this book began with a series of text messages. Gray and Ivy have never met, yet it’s obvious that they are friends and that they care for one another. The texting goes on for several chapters, and the story is told with alternating points of view so we get to see/hear what both Gray and Ivy are doing and feeling as they get to know one another. I loved that when they finally met in person, they felt like they’d known each other forever. This was a cute book.

I enjoyed it more than I did the first book in the series, the Hook Up. It may have been because Gray was such a great hero. He was such a clown. You couldn’t help but like his character. He wasn’t as likeable in the first book in the series where he was just the sidekick. I liked that the author gave him a chance to grow and become a better person than he had been in the first book. There is so much more to him than meets the eye. Ivy was also a great female lead, and Gray encourages her to think outside the box and follow her heart to a career that she had never even considered to be a possibility.

I highly recommend this one.