Sparks Like Ours by Melissa Brayden

I want to start this review by saying how glad I am that this is not a trilogy. There is one more and oh how I cannot wait for Hadley. Don’t get me wrong Hadley’s story is going to be outstanding but aren’t all of Brayden’s stories. Let me tell you Gia Malone and Elle Britton bring the heat. Hell yes they do, the heat they bring is hot, smoking hot.

Gia and Elle are fierce competitors. Elle is the currently the number one female professional surfer. She has adoring fans and is the face of women’s surfing. Gia is number two and is doing everything in her power to get her points total to top Elle’s. They don’t hate each other but there is some definite tension. Ooooh, don’t you just love the tension and the whole got off on the wrong foot/rivals scenario, Lord knows I do! Two elite athletes that are both fierce competitors, you know right off the bat that Brayden is going to give you some fabulous angst mixed in with amazing dialogue, light-hearted fun, and characters that steal your heart.

Gia is driven, ambitious and solely focused on being the very best female surfer. She loves surfing for the pureness of it and to fuel her competitive spirit. Catering to sponsors and being friendly with reporters is part of her job but something she is less than comfortable with. Elle gets under Gia’s skin because she not only knows how to play the game, she has reporters, fans, and sponsors eating out of her hand. This peppy people person drives her mad.

What draws you so much to these Gia and Elle is that they act like real people. They are flawed, they make mistakes, they get tipsy on margaritas in a bar and blurt out something that they shouldn’t. Perfection is boring. Brayden makes them come alive right off the page. You love them for their missteps and their triumphs. You love them because she makes them feel real.

We aren’t reinventing the wheel here folks. Brayden has her formula and by golly, I am so glad she does. It works and it’s not good, it’s great. I for one, think my lucky stars that Melissa Brayden writes lady loving books because she is one of the very best and takes it to the next level every single book. She writes the stories that you come back to. Not once, or twice, but time and time again because they give you all of the feels. Isn’t that why we love romance? Those little flutters that pull of your heartstrings, that paragraph that makes you smile, the joy of a first kiss. Her books are the ones you cherish.

An easy 5 stars!

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Tinderbox Under Winter Stars (The Tinderbox Tales Book 2)

I cannot begin to tell you how excited I was to read more about the adventures of Elise and Nessa. I adore these two characters, not to mention you know when you pick up a book by Emma Sterner-Radley it going to be fantastic.

When we left these two amazing ladies at the end of Making a Tinderbox, they were on the move to escape the Queen of Arclid. Fleeing Nightport to head to the bitter colder climate if Storsund. They are hoping to go so out of the way that the Queen and hopefully, her spies cannot find them.

This book is full of adventure and you see and feel Nessa and Elise struggle to find their footing both in their new world. Sterner-Radley describes everything in such detail you can see the setting unfold before your very eyes. Everything is new, so different from what these two ladies have ever experienced. You feel their wonder and trepidation. I tend to pull away from books where there is a lot of world-building because often times the author forgoes the human interaction. Never fear Elise and Nessa’s relationship are still the forefront of this book.

Nessa and Elise are dynamic characters. They just find a way inside your heart. This book has it all, Adventure, intrigue and above all else a fabulous romance. This is one series I will treasure and look forward to Emma Sterner-Radley has in store next.

5 out of 5 stars

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The Princess Deception by Nell Stark

Nell Stark is back with another book in her Princess series. Deception is the name of the game here. Based on William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, we have a princess pretending to be her brother and a journalist trying to uncover the sordid tale.

Viola is the Princess of Belguim. An accomplished artist who prefers to stay out of the family’s limelight. Unfortunately for Viola, her twin brother Sebastian overdoses on heroin right before Belguim begins its rally to win the bid on the next FIFA men’s World Cup. As in the Twelfth Night, Viola takes on pretending to be Sebastian to fool everyone into believing everything is on the up and up. She doesn’t want to let her family or her country down.

Missy Duke was the face of USA women’s soccer. Her career was ended before she was ready with a catastrophic knee injury. Duk” doesn’t know what to do with herself, emotionally she is a mess and now she has settled for a job she really doesn’t want because she has no idea what to do not being on the pitch. Taken a job as a gift from a brother of a teammate, Duke sets off to cover Belguim’s bid for the cup.

Unlike in the Twelfth Night, Viola doesn’t totally sell her alternate identity as her twin. Duke picks up on it pretty quick by seeing little tells Viola has. Tucking her hear behind her ears, little things here and there. So a good portion of the story is the newbie journalist trying to figure out the why and see if it’s newsworthy. Of course, she is attracted to Viola so this makes her problem even larger.

Overall the book is q good read, Nell Stark always delivers a quality product. My only hangup is that I wish our two mains spent more time together. The reuse of pretending to be Sebastian takes up so much of the storyline that you don’t get enough Duke and Viola time. The relationship/romance portion of the book is smaller than I would have liked. Still a great read!

3 out of 5 stars

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Outside the Law (Lone Star Law Series #4) by Carsen Taite

I think this book is a fabulous closing to the Lone Star Law Series. I think Taite improved the series with each book and this one being the best overall. This book felt more romance than crime. Which I cannot say about the others. Of course, we had to wrap up the ongoing investigation, put those bad mofo’s in jail but I just felt more spark this time around. I think you will see that the characters are given more time in the book to explore that romance and as a romance junkie, that was much appreciated.

Tanner Cohen is one of the FBI agents you met in the previous books. Tanner has been very much an auxiliary character until she helped with the rescue, Bianca Cruz’s daughter. Tanner is your strong silent type. She is the job, 100%. What we didn’t know is that Tanner gave up the love of her life for this career and that former love just showed up in Dallas and is on the case as well.

Sydney Braswell is Tanner’s law school sweetheart. They had their lives planned, finish school, take a job at a high-powered law firm, big house and kids to finish it out. The only problem, Tanner wanted something else and that desire to join the FBI broke them. Sydney found out the high profile firm wasn’t all it was cracked up to be either and is now a special prosecutor for the Justice Department.

Tanner and Sydney’s journey back to each other is sweet, sexy and sure to keep you entertained. Overall this series has been delightful, I was thrilled that the book to finish out was this good.

3 out of 5 stars

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Berlin Hungers by Justine Saracen

When you pick up a Justine Saracen novel you know that you will undoubtedly finish the book with a respect for her historical detailedness and more knowledge than you had before. I love that her stories are so intricate and well, smart.

The Berlin Hunger takes us to the direct chaos that directly followed World War II. The horrors that took place in “peacetime” are tragic and hard to stomach. There is blatant brutality and at times it is hard to read.

Gillian Somerville was a pilot for the Air Transport Axillary during the war. She loved flying for her country but when the war ends Gillian suddenly finds herself with no work as a pilot. The women are not needed for that duty anymore. Unable to just go home, her whole family has passed, she decides to join the WAAF to become an air traffic controller.

Erika Brandt was a musician before the war. Now as the Russians have control of Berlin, she is scavaging for food to keep from starving to death. The Russians men portrayed in this book are animals and Erika faces unspeakable horrors to survive in this desperate time.

Erika and Gillian meet by chance a couple of times in the book and strike up a friendship born out of kindness. As the book progresses more feelings develop. This is a star-crossed lover romance though. These two have a lot going on and cannot see each other often for a multitude of reasons. So a lot of longing from afar.

Overall, I loved the historical aspect of the book. I felt as if Saracen dropped my in Berlin post-war and I was right there with the characters. The romance wasn’t my favorite. I loved the characters don’t get me wrong, and I was absolutely rooting for their happiness. I just felt like it dragged a bit. This is more historical fiction than your hot burning romance. Still a very good read!

3 out of 5 stars

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Playing the Spy by Maggie Brown

Lies and deception is never a good way to start a relationship. It is a damn good way to start a romance novel though. Add in chemistry and a whole lot of sexiness and you have a book by Maggie Brown you just won’t want to put down.

Eleanor Godwin is a mega-star in Hollywood and beloved by many. As a household name, Eleanor has very little privacy and the small amounts she does have she guards fiercely. After wrapping up a punishing role, Eleanor is exhausted and ill from the toll she reeked on her body to get into character. She decides to return to her birth country of Australia for some much needed rest out of the public’s eye.

Our other main character is a journalist on the political beat. Sophie Marsh is forced by her editor to take an undercover role, as a housekeeper/cook to infiltrate the life of Eleanor Godwin. Sophie has no interest in Hollywood or reporting on entertainment news. Her sexist boss forces her to take the role or hit the unemployment line. The young journalist reluctantly agrees knowing that this is so wrong on so many levels and decides upon arrival at the private island she will not do harm to Eleanor Godwin’s reputation no matter what.

This adorable and sweet relationship blossoms from a reluctant friendship to an all-out burning love affair. The two main characters are delightful and you love them for their kindness and strength as well as the many missteps they make on their journey to happily ever after. You root for their success all the way through. A fantastic read!

4 out of 5 stars

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After The Glitter Fades by Diane Marina

Soooo, I love Hollywood love stories. This is totally one of my favorite tropes in romance. After The Glitter Fades by Diane Marina gave me just the Fix I needed with two Tinsel town starlets with that great push-pull relationship.

Siena Armetta is one of Hollywood’s darlings. As one of the most sought after and influential film stars, Siena has a reputation to uphold. She guards her privacy fiercely, only a few friends, family and her ex-husband are allowed to know the real Siena and know that she is a lesbian. Siena sees no way out of the closet, she left her adoring husband because of her sexuality but since that step, she’s lead a lonely life of work and little else.

Julia Westbrooke is the most out celebrity women in America. Julia is an entertainment TV journalist, whose career has blossomed since she announced her sexuality to the world. She is known for fair and honest interviews that get past the gossip and go to the heart of the story. She is very well respected by her audience and the celebrities that she interviews.

Siena immediately wants nothing to do with Julia upon meeting her with mutual friends. She is even more dismayed at why her circle of friends keeps including the journalist. No matter how down to Earth they say she is, Siena wants nothing to do with her. Push Pull! Julia of course breaks down the walls Siena has erected and what unfolds in a dazzling story.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with this romance. If you are a Kindle Unlimited reader this is by far one of the better stories you will pick up and it is worth the $7 price tag if you are not.

3.5 out of 5 stars

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