Retreat, by Jay Crownover

retreat

Grade: A

Doing it at: 47%

Catnip: Roughing It, Hate to Love You, Cowboys, Lumbersexual, Sexual Healing, Romantic Suspense, Strong Female Lead, Fish Out of Water, Horses, Hot Springs, City Mouse vs. Country Mouse, Ride It My Pony

Shame Scale: I think we are entirely shameless at this point (Garth Brooks link appropriate because this book involves a Stetson hat!)

Fantasy Cast: Alan Powell, Amy Adams

What Does He Taste Like?: Mountains and man

Book Description:


Every once in a while, you need to get away from it all.

I was a woman on the edge, shaken and shattered after a breakup that felt like it tore my entire world apart.
My best friend, sick of watching me drown in misery and melancholy, harassed me until I agreed to go with her on a week-long wilderness retreat.

She promised days spent bonding and getting in touch with our inner bad-asses. It was supposed to be all about the two of us roughing it and making do with the bare minimum. She assured me we were going to be pushed to our limits in ways that were unimaginable. Neither one of us could have ever guessed just how right she was.

Nowhere in the glossy brochure did it say anything about the fact I was going to have to battle the insufferable but deliciously rugged and sexy trail guide instead of the elements. The brochure also forgot to mention the part that warned when you left civilization behind, there was no place to pack your inhibitions and fears.

I was told that I would be facing a week where the only thing I should expect was the unexpected. However, no one mentioned that I was going to have to fight for my life…and my heart as soon as I ventured into the unknown.

I was a pro at hiding from my feelings but when it came time to face a real threat, one that could change everything, I learned I was more of a no surrender, no retreat kind of girl.

Retreat is a standalone novel, the first in the Getaway series which centers on the hardheaded and brokenhearted Warner brothers and the women that dare to love them.
These boys are very good at putting the wild in wilderness.


Mary: Jay Crownover has decided to dip her toes into the Cowboy Romance world and we cannot be more excited about it.

Cleone: Jay seems determined to give us every single male fantasy- hot cop, hot criminal, hot carpenter, hot military men, hot lawyer, hot versions of Trump’s worst nightmare— and now the hot cowboy. Thanks, Jay! You’ve got a golden boner in your future for your gifts to womankind.

M: I love cowboy books, from the super erotic, Stetson hat, vaguely bi-sexual Lorelei James/Maya Banks/Lora Leigh kind of cowboys, to the ultra masculine Kristen Ashley cowboys who are pretty much exactly like her bikers/pimps/bounty hunters/lawmen/fantasyland marauders. I’m pretty much pro-cowboy in all forms. But Crownover’s cowboys lean more towards the gentleman’s undercut, plaid shirt, motorcycle boots, lumbersexual type – and as a Pittsburgh wannabe-hipster mom, that is SO my catnip. So quick, close your eyes and don’t look at the cover, because this book is totally about a hot hipster cowboy and not an aging Joey Fatone.

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Mad About the Marquess, Elizabeth Essex

mad about the marquess

Grade: A

Doing it at: 93%

Catnip: Kilts, Red Hot Banter, Deep Dark Secrets, Wed Before Bed, Hate to Love You, Lords and Ladies, CoHo Exception, Dual Narrative, Strong Female Lead

Shame Scale: Very low, this one is pretty friendly for reading in Dr’s offices, kindergarten classrooms (well, not aloud), and public transport vehicles

Fantasy Cast:  This mystery ginger, Camilla Luddington

Book Description:

WHEN A LADY TAKES TO THE ROAD TO PLAY ROBIN HOOD

Lady Quince Winthrop has been robbing from society’s rich and giving to Edinburgh’s poor for years. But everything changes the day she can’t resist the temptation to steal from the Marquess of Cairn.

SHE MUST BE ON HER GUARD AGAINST HER SHERIFF OF NOTTINGHAM

Alasdair, Marquess of Cairn, has come back to Scotland to stop a thief, never thinking that the lass he’s trying to woo is about to give a lesson in larceny he won’t be able to forget. From the twisted streets of Auld Reeky, to the hills of the highlands, Quince leads Alasdair on a merry chase, and finds the one man she shouldn’t fall for, is the one man she can’t resist.

LOVE IS EVEN HARDER TO RESIST THAN TEMPTATION.


I spent most of this spring in a very serious reading slump, maybe the worst slump of my whole reading life (approaching the 30 year mark), and I was starting to think I would never ever break out of it. I wasn’t reading, so I wasn’t blogging, and Mary was getting real tired of my shit. LUCKILY I have since recovered, and been blessed with a streak of exemplary reads. Including Mad About the Marquess, one of the most charming historicals I’ve ever read.

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Reaper’s Fall, by Joanna Wylde

Reaper's fall

Grade: A

Doing it at: 36%

Catnip: Bikers, He’s Basically A Criminal, MC Romance, Tattoos, Opposites Attract, Strong Female Lead, Accidental Pregnancy, Hate to Love You, Dual Narrative, Pen Pals, Johnny Castle Complex

Shame Scale: Lower than it maybe should be? The men in Joanna Wylde’s books are not particularly concerned with being politically correct with their women, or anything else. But they’re so damned hot. The plot might be a fun one to explain to your great aunt Helen when she asks if you’ve read any good books over Thanksgiving dinner.

Fantasy Cast: Josh Mario John, Sophie Turner

Book Description:

He never meant to hurt her.

Levi “Painter” Brooks was nothing before he joined the Reapers motorcycle club. The day he patched in, they became his brothers and his life. All they asked in return was a strong arm and unconditional loyalty—a loyalty that’s tested when he’s caught and sentenced to prison for a crime committed on their behalf.

Melanie Tucker may have had a rough start, but along the way she’s learned to fight for her future. She’s escaped from hell and started a new life, yet every night she dreams of a biker whose touch she can’t forget. It all started out so innocently—just a series of letters to a lonely man in prison. Friendly. Harmless. Safe.

Now Painter Brooks is coming home… and Melanie’s about to learn that there’s no room for innocence in the Reapers MC.


Cleone: In a genre cluttered with MC novels, Joanna Wylde is writing some of the best ones out there. She’s created a world filled with hot alpha men and strong women we’d actually want to be friends with. We talked a little about our stance on feminism, and how being ok with the things that you like sexually IS feminism in our review for Silver Bastard. These men take what they want and we like what we like and no one should be apologizing for that.

Mary: I discovered the Reapers MC series way back when I was still getting my feet wet in the romance waters. It was after I stopped pretending I wanted to read anything other than sex-filled romances, but before I stopped being a little bit embarrassed by it. I picked up Reaper’s Property on a whim, and I loved it so much you guys. It’s about a biker who kidnaps a woman and tells her she’s going to have to work off her brother’s debt on her back if she wants to live. It was one of the books that made me begin to embrace the fact that yeah, I’m a feminist, and sometimes it’s really hot to read about criminal, maybe-a-tiny-bit-rapey, biker studs. I’m also pretty sure it was one of the first “should we maybe be a little bit ashamed of ourselves for thinking this is sofuckinghot?” books that Cleone and I bonded over. But we’re so so so very past that now. Bring on the criminals and the grey area and the men who just need to own their women.

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Hollywood Dirt, by Alessandra Torre

hollywood dirt

Grade: B+

Doing it at:  50%

Catnip: Hate to Love You, Small Town Girl, Hollywood Hunk, Rags to Riches, Strong Female Lead, Down South, Dual Narrative

Shame Scale: This is basically a regular old book, you could read this in your lady’s wine and cheese book club.

Fantasy Cast:  Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike

Book Description:

Cole Masten. Abandoned by his superstar wife, Hollywood’s Perfect Husband is now Hollywood’s Sexiest Bachelor: partying hard and screwing even harder. Watch out Los Angeles, there’s a new bad boy in town.

Summer Jenkins. That’s me, a small town girl stuck in Quincy, Georgia. I cook some mean chicken and dumplins, can bluff a grown man out of his savings in poker, and was voted Most Friendly my senior year.

We were from different worlds. Our lives shouldn’t have collided. But then Cole Masten read a book about my small town. And six months later, his jet landed on our dusty airstrip, and he brought Hollywood with him.

From the start, I knew he was trouble. For our town. And for me.

Sometimes, opposites just aren’t meant to attract.


I started seeing tons of buzz for Hollywood Dirt as soon as it released, and since I was still rolling in birthday gift-card riches, –and because I hate to tell myself no–  I one-clicked. I was also intrigued because the synopsis was kind of reminding me of an Elaine Kagan book I really like, and of my favorite Danielle Steel novel. YES, I have a favorite Danielle Steel novel, say what you will about her but the lady can write a story and I think she’s where a lot of romance readers cut their teeth. It turns out Hollywood Dirt didn’t have much in common plot-wise with either of those books, but it was a super absorbing, well-written read.

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Dirty Promises, by Karina Halle

dirty promises 2

Grade: A

Doing it at: 8%

Catnip: Once Upon A Time In Mexico, Marriage on the Rocks, Revenge, Mexican Drug Cartels, Hate To Love You, He’s Basically A Criminal, Dangerous Criminal Villain, A Lot Of Blood, Adultery

Shame Scale: I can’t even rate this.

Fantasy Cast: Gael Garcia Bernal, young Penelope Cruise

Book Description:

Dirty Promises is the final book in The Dirty Angels Trilogy. While the first two books can be read as standalones, Dirty Promises can not. Reading Dirty Angels and Dirty Deeds beforehand is HIGHLY recommended.

Also, people sensitive to violence and immoral characters who make questionable decisions should refrain from reading this book. The real cartel life is not pretty, not easy and certainly NOT romantic and that is more than reflected in Dirty Promises.

Blood. Sex. Revenge.
It ain’t easy being king.
Drug lord Javier Bernal has sliced and diced his way to the top of the Mexican drug trade, presiding over the country’s largest cartel. But his rise to power comes at a brutal price: the death of his sister, Alana. Devastated and wracked with guilt, he turns away from his new wife, Luisa, forcing their marriage into a steady decline. But it isn’t until she’s pushed into the waiting arms of Esteban Mendoza, his right-hand man, that Javier realizes everything he’s lost.
And it isn’t until he learns the truth about Alana, that he realizes everything there is to gain.
Blood will spill.
Cities will burn.
Heads will roll.
Because Javier will stop at nothing until he gets what he wants.
And what he wants is raw, ruthless revenge.
The most dangerous man is the one with nothing left to lose.


Mary: We were having an important Blog Meeting.

drunk alec

drunk amy

drunk lucy

Cleone: We are a PROFESSIONAL blog, so of course our meetings have cocktails! And we were drinking Old Fashioned’s, like Don Draper.

M: We were watching Too Wong Foo and discussing Karina Halle’s upcoming release, Dirty Promises (the sequel to Dirty Angels and Dirty Deeds), and how we needed to get our hands on a copy of the ARC at any cost. So that’s when we decided to drunk message one of our very favorite authors. Cleone wrote a very appropriate and polite request for an ARC. But then I left the room, and she went rogue and closed it with:

 P.S. The original draft of this message was, “Whose dick do we have to suck to get an ARC?”

C: I can’t be trusted, but I’m funny, right? Right!

M: Karina Halle never responded, which, duh, means our hilarious message went to her spam folder, and not that she decided to ignore our way-too-informal-for-a-stranger, totally tasteless email. Please don’t try and convince us otherwise, we live in this place called Denial with #noregrets.

C: It’s pretty here, all of our bad decision bar hook-ups look like Tom Hardy in Denial.

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Overtime, by Toni Aleo

Overtime

Grade: B

Doing it at: 47%

Catnip: Hockey Players, Beards, Second Chance Love, Hate to Love You, Addiction, Serious Problems, Sports Stuff, Strong Female Lead, Brother’s Best Friend, Reformed Bad Boy

Shame Scale: Super low shame, the cover is obviously romance, but look at that guy.

Fantasy Cast: The glorious and sadly unknown to us man on the cover, Charlize Theron

Book Description:

Down and out with an injury keeping him away from the game, Assassins’ defenseman Jordie Thomas lives for the blades of his skates on the ice and the feeling of oblivion off it. With no choice but to heal, he’s forced away from the sport that runs through his veins. With everything at stake and darkness setting in, he quickly finds himself spiraling even further out of control. As his life begins to come crashing down around him and his contract with the Nashville Assassins on the line, he’s given an ultimatum. Ready or not, Jordie is forced to face his past, the fears that consume him, and the one woman he let walk away. 

Kacey King had her professional dreams come true, yet her heart was battered and broken. With an Olympic gold medal around her neck, she’s ready to look forward to the future but without the one man she wanted in it. She’s missing the key pieces of her heart she left months ago with the only person who was capable of destroying it, causing her to falter in all her plans to move on. 

In the game of life, there are winners and losers, and neither Jordie nor Kacey want to be on the losing bench. If only Jordie could convince Kacey he’s a changed man and that he wants her right by his side as his MVP for the biggest and best parts of a life they build together. With emotions running high and the game on the line, can two proud people find happiness with each other, or will their hearts and souls be left in the cold? Will they see that sometimes having someone by your side who knows the good, bad, and broken is better than going it alone and losing everything through the back of the net? They are out of time on the game clock and fighting for the win of their lives. 

But overtime was made for an Assassin like Jordie. 


Mary: Full disclosure. We bought this book for the cover model. 100%. Look at him:

Overtime

I don’t even want to admit to the lurid, depraved, bottomless depths of Tumblr I have explored, trying to find a dirty lookalike for this guy.

Dear Toni Aleo, *Slow Clap* Also, how about you HABO (Help A Bitch Out) and tell us who this model is so we can stalk him incessantly on Instagram.

Cleone: Seriously, this is maybe our best cover model of all time, if we didn’t want to avoid angering Jay Crownover we’d tweet this at her RE: this is how you do it (plus she redeemed herself with #HotCop).

Overtime 11

M: And also, hockey is kind of hot. I guess. I’m not really a sports person, but I think out of all of the sports, hockey has some of the better looking players (not counting the dental issues).

C: Hockey has Henrik Lundqvist. It is definitely hot. Plus I adore the Rachel Gibson Chinook series, so hockey has serious catnip for me.

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Beautiful Bastard, by Christina Lauren

beautiful bastard

Grade: A

Doing it at: 5%

Catnip: Hate to Love You, Secret Lovers, Boardroom Sex; Elevator Sex, Dual Narrative, Ass Biting, Hate Fucking, Panty Ripping

Shame Scale: The steam factor in this one is high, low shame for how much you wouldn’t want someone reading this over your shoulder on the bus.

Fantasy Cast: Daniel Gillies; Emmy Rossum

Book Description:

An ambitious intern. A perfectionist executive. And a whole lot of name calling. 
Whip-smart, hardworking, and on her way to an MBA, Chloe Mills has only one problem: her boss, Bennett Ryan. He’s exacting, blunt, inconsiderate–and completely irresistible. A Beautiful Bastard.

Bennett has returned to Chicago from France to take a vital role in his family’s massive media business. He never expected that the assistant who’d been helping him from abroad was the gorgeous, innocently provocative–completely infuriating–creature he now has to see every day. Despite the rumors, he’s never been one for a workplace hookup. But Chloe’s so tempting he’s willing to bend the rules–or outright smash them–if it means he can have her. All over the office. 
As their appetites for one another increase to a breaking point, Bennett and Chloe must decide exactly what they’re willing to lose in order to win each other.

 Beautiful Bastard is book one in the Beautiful Series. As usual I have gone into this series backwards and read book four in the series first, AND all of the inter-connected Wild Seasons books. Essentially Mary and I will read anything that the writing duo of Christina Lauren churns out, their heroines are smart, strong ladies, their heroes are of the highest order of hot, and there’s enough sass and sex to please any romance fan.

Chloe Mills has worked at the Ryan family’s marketing empire for years, she’s a rising star and tight with the family, when the prodigal son returns from years spent in France and ends up as Chloe’s new boss. Bennett is hot, like tall, built, and broody hot; but unfortunately he seems to hate Chloe. He’s extremely critical, works her to the bone, and it isn’t long till she hates him too. They can barely manage to be polite and when they look at each other it’s all:

flames

I was really expecting this to be a slow burn, a gradual thawing where the protagonists eventually learn that they have a lot in common and fall in love. Delightfully that is not what happens in Beautiful Bastard. Instead we get Bennett unable to keep his hands off of Chloe in the boardroom late one night, 5% into the book and he’s angrily taking her up against a window. And It. Is. Hot. Bennett literally rips Chloe’s panties off and they’re still sparring even as he’s inside her.

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