Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

About Kati

I've been reading romance for more than 30 years and reviewing regularly for the last five. My first romance was Irish Thoroughbred by Nora Roberts, and once I read it, I was a goner. I read most subgenres of romance (except inspirational and steampunk) but focus mostly on contemporary and paranormal, with a sprinkling of historical thrown in for flavor. I am an avid sports fan, so I have a special place in my heart for sports themed romances. I'm a sucker for old skool romance, which is probably most evident in the fact that The Windflower is my favorite romance of all time.

Posts by Kati :

REVIEW:  Breathless for Him by Sofia Tate

REVIEW: Breathless for Him by Sofia Tate

BFH

Dear Ms. Tate:

I’m always wary when publishers opt to market a book as “For fans of New York Times bestselling authors Samantha Young, Sylvia Day, and E. L. James”. My experience is that the books rarely live up to the hype, plus, EL James is not a selling point for me. But Samantha Young is, which is why, despite my exhaustion with the billionaire trope, I requested your book.

Allegra Orsini is a gifted opera singer who is working at a posh restaurant in New York as a coat check girl. One evening she finds a beautiful Hermes scarf and a single leather men’s glove in her coat check room. She dutifully puts them in her Lost & Found box and goes about her business. The next day, the most beautiful man she’s ever seen comes to claim the glove. He is Davison Cabot Berkley, billionaire playboy. He is accompanied by his well known girlfriend, Ashton. Their families are longtime friends and everyone knows that they are destined to end up married. Except, when Davison claims the glove, and touches Allegra, there is an immediate spark.

Without warning, he begins rubbing his thumb over my hand, slowly. So slowly. My breaths begin to increase. His emerald eyes turn darker, hooded with a look that both scares me and arouses me. The warmth from his touch permeates my skin, setting the rest of me aflame. I can feel myself turning wet at the apex of my thighs. I press my lips together, determined not to break this moment. He is powerful and commanding. I can’t look away. And I don’t want to.

Then he moves closer to me. His lush mouth opens to say something, his thumb still moving again and again over my hand.

“Do you think I could make you come just by doing this?”

Um, what?

SIGH. I don’t understand how this is supposed to be sexy. Had I been Allegra, I’d have yanked my hand away and called security. Because no matter how pretty he is, that’s just creepy.

Anyway, she tells him her name and that she’s studying at the Gotham Conservatory and he secretly arranges for her class to have a backstage tour at the Metropolitan Opera. She’s delighted, but wary. What could he possibly want from her? Obviously, he wants to be with her. And he begins a single minded pursuit that creeped me out. Allegra knows she can’t be with paparazzi magnet, Davison because of her past. When she was a child her mother was murdered by a stalker while Allegra was present. She ran away from the stalker and hid from him, disappearing for two days. When she came out of her hiding place, her photo was plastered on the covers of newspapers all over the world. For some reason, this is a shameful secret and therefore, she can’t be with Davison, or bring shame upon the House Berkley, or something.

Oh dear, this book. I was intrigued by the opera singing heroine, and you do a nice job incorporating her talents into the book. We do get to see Allegra practicing and performing, and your research certainly shows. Davison, on the other hand, is out of Billionaires-Are-Us. He is overbearing, entitled, well-hung and dominant. Because, billionaire. The secondary characters are very stock, with Ashton, Davison’s possible girlfriend, being right out of the EVIL competition playbook. The book was ridiculously predictable. There is a minor sub-plot with Allegra’s mother’s kidnapper, which I think was intended to raise the stakes, but it felt almost like your editor said, “throw in something about the kidnapper” so you did. It wasn’t well incorporated into the story, so it felt out of left field, and therefore I was not invested in the raised stakes at all. I was even more shocked to find out that this is apparently just one installment of Allegra and Davison’s story, even though I felt like the book ended in a perfectly fine HFN place. Overall, I found Breathless for Him to be predictable in the extreme and a really mediocre entree into the billionaire hero trope. Final grade: D+.

Sincerely,

Kati

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REVIEW:  Sweet Filthy Boy by Christina Lauren

REVIEW: Sweet Filthy Boy by Christina Lauren

SFB

Dear Christina Lauren:

I read your first release, Beautiful Bastard, and didn’t really connect with it, writing it off as another NA book that totally didn’t work for me. But after seeing on Twitter how much Mandi from Smexybooks enjoyed Sweet Filthy Boy, I decided to give it a go. I’m delighted to say that I really enjoyed it.

Mia Holland has just graduated from college and is Las Vegas bound with her besties, Harlow and Lola. They’ve got one weekend of debauchery before they have to get on with the business of being grown ups. Mia had a horrible accident a few years ago, ending her promising career with the Joffrey Ballet. Mia didn’t speak for six months after the accident, experiencing an almost dissociative reaction to the accident. Her only solace during her recovery was writing letters to herself. They helped her articulate what she was feeling “for the record”. Her father, who is overbearing in the extreme, grasped the accident as an excuse for Mia to start a “real” career, and has agreed to pay her way through college in Boston where she’ll pursue her MBA. But for now, a weekend in Vegas is just exactly what the doctor ordered.

Mia resolves on her weekend that she’ll act like someone else. She’ll be bold and daring. She’ll do her best to block out the horror of the accident, and she’ll have a blast. On their first drunken night out, the girls are in a bar dancing and having a great time when Mia’s eyes connect with an incredibly handsome man across the dance floor. He’s the best looking man she’s ever seen, and because she’s acting bold this weekend, she maintains eye contact. Sadly, she and her girls flit off before she’s able to actually speak with him. When the girls finally roll home, Lola and Harlow fall straight to sleep, but Mia is kept up by the raging party going on in the hotel room across from theirs. She finally goes and knocks on the door, and who should answer but Mr. Tall and Dimpled. As they begin to talk, she realizes he is French and his name is Ansel Guillaume. He flirts endlessly with her, but she won’t give him her name. The next day, the three girls meet up with Ansel and his buddies. As the day becomes night. naturally shy Mia finds Ansel incredibly easy to talk to. They drink more and more and flirt and act on their attraction. When Mia wakes, it’s to the worst hangover she’s ever had, and yes, a gold band on her band. She’s horrified. She remembers next to nothing about the night, but can tell she’s had quite a lot of sex and far too much to drink. She finally gets up and goes to find Ansel, who greets her also wearing a gold band. He hands her a letter she wrote to herself the night before. She proposed, and then made Ansel promise no matter how hard she tried to flee being married to him, that he’d make her wait until the end of summer to get an annulment.

Ansel is a remarkably sweet guy, and he really has fallen for Mia. After the weekend in Vegas, he chases Mia back to San Diego and tries to talk her into coming back to Paris with him for the summer. He makes good money and while he’ll be working very hard, she can stay with him and figure out if going to Boston is really what she wants. Of course, Mia says absolutely not. Her parents will never stand for it, and she just isn’t impulsive like that (their marriage notwithstanding). In the end though, Mia hops a plane and decides to go to Paris. Her father is furious, her friends are as shocked as Mia is. But she’s decided to do this one thing for herself.

When they arrive in Paris, Ansel is working very long hours and Mia is discovering Paris. She acts as tourist and at night, she and Ansel play out their fantasies. But she knows Ansel is holding something back from her. Ansel had a prior relationship that was long term and quite serious, but he’s reluctant to talk too much about it. He’s assured her it’s over, but he’s very reluctant to discuss it and she feels like he’s holding something back. Will Ansel’s secrets tear them apart? Or will they be able to build a foundation to keep their romance going past summer’s end?

I really enjoyed this book. First, it’s set in Paris – my favorite city in the world, and you do a nice job of capturing some of the less popular spots to highlight in fiction set in Paris. Second, I really liked how this book felt “New Adult-y”. These were not barely out of college kids experiencing “adult” issues. These were two young adults who did something impulsive. The way they dealt with it seemed really credible to me. I loved how steady Ansel was. He’s a truly lovely beta hero, one who is strong and beautiful and has this gorgeous soul, but is also not an overbearing alpha douchebag. I really enjoyed Mia’s growth as a character. She starts off so timid and unsure, but in the end, you provide us with glimpses of the adult she is becoming/will be. It also has to be said that this book features some incredibly hot sex scenes. They are varied, interesting and propel, in particular, Mia’s slow journey from college kid to adult. They are some of the best I’ve read in New Adult literature.

Overall, Sweet Filthy Boy was a totally enjoyable reading experience. I’m thoroughly excited to read the next installment in the series. I’m always delighted to say when I was wrong about an author. And in this case, I’m so glad I gave your work a second chance. I don’t regret it at all. Sweet Filthy Boy gets a B+ from me, and a strong recommendation.

Kind regards,

Kati

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