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Monday, March 2, 2020

My First 5 Star Read Of The Year, A Sexy Novella, & A Disappointment



Happy Monday, friends!

I have 3 book reviews for you today. First up, I'm sharing my love for my first 5 stars read of the year, Love Hard by Nalini Singh. This rugby romance novel with a single dad seemed to have been custom-written for me and I enjoyed every minute of it. Next up, I'm reviewing a sexy celebrity romance novella, One Night with the Sexiest Man Alive by Ainslie Paton. This short story was hot, hot, hot! Finally, I'm ending the post with a bit of a disappointing book, Yours in Scandal by Lauren Layne. Read more of my thoughts below!

LOVE HARD

by Nalini Singh
Series: Hard Play #3
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Adult
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: March 10th 2020
Source: ARC received for review
Star Quotient: ★★★★★
Kiss Factor: ✷✷✷✷✷
Amazon - The Book Depository - IndieBound

If you've been reading romance for a while, then you know the legend that is Nalini Singh. While everyone is head over heels in love with her urban fantasy/paranormal series, I have a softer spot for her contemporary romances. They are all about the characters and the achingly swoony romances that develop between them. Reading Love Hard was the perfect way to spend a relaxing day for me and no, I'm not just saying that because the male love interest of this book is a single father a.k.a my romance novel catnip.

Love Hard opens up with a beautiful wedding of two characters from the previous books. To say that I loved the entirety of this first section of the book surrounding the wedding would be an understatement. Yes, it was very very romantic, but it was seeing the beautiful family dynamics and the powerful friendships that truly made it memorable. The wedding was also where Jacob reunited with the bad girl from his childhood, Juliet. Sparks immediately flew between the two as their physical chemistry was blazing hot. This attraction to each other only seemed to explode further throughout the wedding and the rest of the book. It's this palpable chemistry that kept me glued to the pages of Love Hard. I also found both Juliet and Jacob to be such endearing characters. They were opposites in many ways, but they somehow fit well together. Several factors led to some hesitation on Juliet's part for getting together with Jacob including her troubled teenage years, the fact that the mother of Jacob's daughter was her best friend, Callie, and Jacob's fame as a rugby player. It was hard for her to resist the magic and charm of Jake though and I don't blame the woman one bit. Jacob was what I like to call book husband material. He was swoony and entirely too delicious for words. He had to grow up very fast after Callie passed away shortly after giving birth to their daughter, Esme. His goal in life was to ensure Esme's happiness and protection, and his bond with that little girl was the most precious thing ever. Romances that deal with dead best friends and their loves can be somewhat tricky, but Nalini Singh handled it beautifully here. Jacob and Juliet have long conversations about Callie and the role she played in their relationship, along the way building up their emotional connection. I won't lie, there were a few times when I shed a tear or two because Jacob had this way with words and he was so so good at proving to Juliet that she was his future. *swoon* I'd be remiss to not mention the most amazing fictional family, the Bishop-Eseras. They defined everything good about a loving and supportive family and I just want them to adopt me (even though I do love my family too).

It took zero reflecting on my part to rate Love Hard 5 stars. It wholely deserves it, in my opinion. I know I will be re-reading my favorite parts of Love Hard, over and over again. :)


***

ONE NIGHT WITH THE SEXIEST MAN ALIVE

by Ainslie Paton
Series: The One #1
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Adult
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: February 27th 2020
Source: ARC received for review
Star Quotient: ★★★★
Kiss Factor: ✷✷✷✷

Only Ainslie Paton could have gotten me to read a book about a celebrity and LOVE it. One Night with the Sexiest Man Alive was sexy, romantic, and represented everything great about Ainslie's writing. This isn't a short story that you should miss out on!

Teela and Haydn's love story was so easy to sink into. I was hooked from their very first encounter on the balcony at a gala that Teela's company organized. Their chemistry was FIRE, but it was the characters and their emotional bond that had me reading. As the book title hints at, Teela and Haydn shared a steamy and passionate night together that ended with them feeling a little something for each other besides the physical attraction. Haydn has a career and life in Hollywood and Teela's life was in Australia. The two decided to have a fling and eventually part ways when the time came. I loved the natural banter between Teela and Haydn, and I loved watching them become more and more comfortable around each other. The reason why this celebrity romance worked so well for me (besides the scorching hot romance) was the two characters. Teela and Haydn were great together, but they were also fantastic on their own. I especially grew to love Haydn a lot by the end of the book and was ready to fight for him to have his happily ever after. I'm also not quite sure how the author did it, but she had me feeling so many different feelings while I was reading One Night with the Sexiest Man Alive. I guess I should not have been all that surprised given my track-record with her books, but I truly believe it speaks to Ainslie's writing talent that she got me to experience all the emotions within a short story.

Thankfully for me, The One will be a series. I'm quite excited to dive into the next book One Kiss from The King of Rock. If it's going to be anything like this one, I'm in for a treat! 


***


YOURS IN SCANDAL

by Lauren Layne
Series: Man of the Year #1
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Adult
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Publication Date: March 10th 2020
Source: ARC received for review
Star Quotient: ★★1/2
Kiss Factor: ✷✷1/2
Amazon - The Book Depository - IndieBound

I hate to say this about a Lauren Layne book, but Yours in Scandal was spectacularly underwhelming. I think all of her books are starting to blend together for me. 90% of her stories are about rich white New Yorkers falling in love and while it was very entertaining in the beginning, I'm starting to feel as though they are all blurring together. I would really love for her to maybe expand and venture into some new horizons because I believe she has the talent for it.

I'm also generally not a fan of romance novels where the basis of the relationships are lies of omission. In Yours in Scandal, Robert Davenport approaches event-planner, Adeline, when he finds out that she is the estranged daughter of his political rival in his future governor's race. The goal is to maybe discover a secret or two about her father that could potentially lead to his success in the elections. Adeline wanted nothing to do with her father and she had a built a life for herself outside of his circle. She was completely unaware that Robert knew her true identity. I think this was the primary reason that I could not get into the romance. These two were clearly lying to each other, so it was hard for me to root for them. Even if I was able to move past these lies, I found their relationship to be dull. The chemistry was non-existent, in my opinion, and there were, unfortunately, no moments that had me swooning like Lauren Layne's book usually have. Both Adeline and Robert were uninspiring characters. I needed to see more passion on both of their ends to root for them. Ultimately, I simply was not convinced by their happily ever after.

I'm sure other readers will enjoy Yours in Scandal, but it was lackluster for me. I'm not completely writing Lauren Layne off just yet. I do really love her writing as there's a warmth to it,  and hopefully, whatever she writes next is a much better fit for me.

Have you read any of the books featured in this post? Have you had any 5 stars read this year?
Let me know in the comments below!