Monday 27 February 2023

Bully by Deborah Bladon, Erotic Research by Mari Carr, The Cleaner by Renee Rose

Bully by Deborah Bladon

My jerk of a boss is getting married today.
Imagine my surprise when I found out that the bride-to-be is me.
Graham Locke is cocky, condescending, and looks sinfully sexy wrapped in a thousand dollar suit.
He’s also a nightmare to work for.
When he sends me a text message asking me to meet him because he’s getting married, I laugh out loud.
Who would marry him?
It turns out I do. I literally marry my boss.
It’s not for love. I can’t say it’s entirely for money, but that does factor into my decision to become Mrs. Locke for ninety days.
Three months will fly by, right?
Within twenty four hours, I’m counting the seconds until I can go back to being Trina Shaw.
I persevere because I’m not one to give up even though I seriously consider it.
It doesn’t take long before I discover that my husband isn’t the man I thought he was.
The secrets he keeps hidden close to his heart may end up breaking mine.

Bull was a pretty standard Billionaire-type romance... Super rich guy, not rich girl, marriage of convenience that becomes more... Misunderstandings and alpha growling abound... It fits safely in the mold and didn't wow me in the slightest but it was enjoyable enough to read and passed the time quite nicely.

Erotic Research by Mari Carr

It was just a little innocent research.

Romance writer Julia Martin is fine with her life, just the way it is. Her simple apartment, successful career and Thursday night pizza dates with her too-hot-for-words editor Ross are more than enough for her. At least that’s what she thinks until her cat dies.

Ross Philips has spent years lusting after his shy best friend, but fears his rather strong sexual desires will be too much for Julia. When she falls into a depression and stops writing, Ross decides she needs a change.

His suggestion? A new genre—erotica. And, of course, being such a good friend and editor, he plans to help her do some research.

This was... Interesting. 
On the one hand, we have a delicious friends to lovers read which features a clueless damsel and a handsome, kinky, rake - 2020's style! 
On the other hand, we have a clueless muppet of a woman with zero self-esteem and a dude who should have pulled his head out his ass years ago and claimed his woman before she descended to these depths of neuroticism!
So, I don't think I have to say that I'm highly conflicted when it comes to what I think about this book! 
Part of me really enjoyed it and part of me was eye-rolling and growling all the way through. 

I adored Ross but Julia got on my nerves super quickly!
The sex was a bit mild considering the build up and there wasn't a lot of it - which is a bit strange given it's supposed to be an erotic romance! It was a book with more talk than action... Which would have been okay if it wasn't for massive communication problems and an epic misunderstanding! How can people who talk, talk, talk not freaking communicate?!!!

So yeah. I don't really recommend this one but I don't not recommend it either. I'd say if the blurb strikes you as appealing then give it a go and make up your own mind because I still can't make up my own!
The Cleaner by Renee Rose


She will pay the price for her father’s sin.
I’ll use my beautiful prisoner to get him.
To make him suffer. Make him believe I'm hurting her the way he harmed my sister.
And when I’m done tormenting him, I will offer a trade: her life for his.
I owe him a slow, painful death. Revenge is my due.
But Kateryna is strong in ways I didn’t expect.
Broken before I ever got to her, she's a willing participant for my torment.
She turns the tables on me, seducing me with her laughter.
Her wild, crazy appetite for pain and pleasure.
Now I must choose: Keep her and forgo my revenge or destroy my enemy and the woman I’ve come to love.

Oh my... Hello daddy issues!! Kateryna is loaded with them and it's a little bit unsettling but once you move on from that this is actually an entertaining read!
I'd describe it as filthy with feelings which I appreciate.
It's technically a dark romance and a mafia romance but compared to most mafia and dark romances it is a fluffy bunny! It touches on messed up and serious issues (people trafficking, sex-trafficking, drugs etc) but all the nightmare material is background. It's not focused on or dwelled upon. It's not handled lightly but the book focuses on Kateryna and Adrian's relationship and not on mafia politics or darkness. It's low drama and low angst.  Adrian and Kateryna have amazing chemistry and banter that I found highly entertaining. 
I adored how Adrian was a mafia "cleaner" but was such a (relative) gentleman when it came to Kateryna. He had a moral code and I loved his burly, protective, demeanor and how he looked after her.
Kateryna... Well, I've already said she's a messed up puppy but I love how she found a home and someone to actually love her in Adrian. 
It was fast paced and not overly long but despite this it took me a while to get through the book as I just didn't have much motivation to pick it up. It was enjoyable but it didn't grip me. It didn't make me want more, to read the others in the series, or read more from the author... I could put it down and forget about its existence.
If you're looking for a "gateway" book into dark-romance or mafia romance this book may not be a bad place to start but if you enjoy either of the sub-genres on the regular I'd skip.


Wednesday 8 February 2023

How To Keep A Husband For 10 Days by Jessica Hatch


I was provided with a review copy of this book via NetGalley. 
How To Keep A Husband For 10 Days releases February 8th! 
(In other words it is available now.)

Pretending to be married to the man you were married to… How hard can it be?!

When Lina’s oldest friends unexpectedly announce they’re coming to stay, she has to think fast. No one knows she and her husband Brown are breaking up, and so she persuades him to act as if they aren’t… After all, how hard can it be to pretend to be married for ten days?

Turns out, a lot harder than she thought. On day one, she strikes so many couple poses that she throws her back out. On day two, she gets muscle spasms from smiling too hard at her husband’s jokes. On day three, she almost has a heart attack when she puts her hand far too high up his thigh at the dinner table. And on day four, when she accidentally grazes Brown’s lips when aiming for his cheek, she almost passes out in the middle of the restaurant.

By day five, Lina is starting to realise there’s a thin line between love and hate. And while she can try to fool her friends, she can’t fool her heart. Was she too hasty calling time on her marriage? Is this more than make believe? And does she even have enough time to find out if Brown feels the same?

I picked up this book because I liked the premise and the publisher billed it as an "absolutely hilarious and totally addictive romcom perfect for fans of Ali Hazelwood’s The Love Hypothesis, Christina Lauren’s The Unhoneymooners, and Emily Henry."
I love Ali Hazelwood and everyone raves about Christina Lauren and Emily Henry so I thought, cool!

Needless to say, the book did not live up to expectations in any way shape or form.

First of all, it wasn't funny! Second of all, romance was thin on the ground. Call me picky but both are key ingredients of a romcom. If I personally had to characterise this book, I'd class it as women's fiction - and you know what? Women's fiction is fine! I enjoy women's fiction! But don't hand me women's fiction when I'm expecting a romcom. That's a massive no-no.

However, the miscategorisation/misselling of the book was not my biggest problem.

My main issue with the book was Lina whose pov the story is told from.
The woman was a neurotic nightmare!
She's a lawyer - a divorce lawyer - yet she is incapable of speaking to her husband about the niggles that are upsetting her and which gradually build into an intolerable situation - in her head. Rather than act like a rational human being and speak to her husband she issues him divorce papers and changes the locks. The fuck? Less than a week from separation to filing for divorce. 
And to make it worse? As the book unfolds you find out that the husband - Brown - doesn't even know what the break-up was over! He assumed it was over whether or not to have a baby!!! 

Seriously... Lina needs more therapy than she is already getting in this book. Brown... Is a bloody sweetheart whose only crime was being oblivious to his wife counting the days that the bed went unmade or other such minor offences! If she'd spoken to him about all her niggles it was obvious he would have broken himself to fix them and make her happy.
The woman brought on absolutely everything herself and therefore I found myself completely unsympathetic towards her and actively disliked her more than once.

Another issue the book had was that the sub-plot of saving their old apartment building (owned by a close friend) overrode the saving the marriage plot. Saving the building may as well have been the focus of the story!

The writer's style is quite... I dunno. Unengaging? There is no charm, wit or warmth in the writing. It's beige. Basic. And there is a complete overuse of the word "musk" when describing people's smell. 

Final gripe - the cover doesn't match the characters! It's an illustrated cover - so you think they could have at least got the physical basics correct - but no. We have a redhead (when Lina is a brunette) and a brunette dude (when Brown is a curly-haired blonde). Granted this annoyance doesn't reflect on the story but it was the cherry on top of a craptastic cake, for me.

Okay... I'm conscious that this review has been a negative rant so I want to finish with some positive points.
I appreciated the realistic depiction of a long-term relationship. It doesn't matter how much two people love each other things will - at least on occasion - drive you crazy and test you. Relationships are not always effortless, they require work, and the author hit the nail on the head of what happens when you fail to appreciate things from each other's pov and actively communicate. 
The author's depiction of friendships and how they change and evolve over time was also well done.
Finally, I appreciated that although things worked out for Lina and Brown there was no perfect fix and they had to work for it, and I was happily surprised with the outcome of the "save the building" campaign as it was also realistic.

All in all... I think this is likely my first and final Jessica Hatch book. 

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