New Release Review! CHECK MY HEART by Christi Barth


Check My Heart

by Christi Barth

Synopsis:

The death of his little brother turned Kurt Lundquist’s world upside down. He channeled his grief into skating his heart out–and ultimately leading his hockey team to win the championship. Now, all he wants to do is throw a party with the Cup in his brother’s honor. He’s got no clue where to start…until he runs into the gorgeous hospice nurse who took such great care of Jasper. She’s waaay off limits, but he’s desperate, and hires her to help him.

Lisette Broussard’s heart broke a little more every time a patient died. Losing the brave brother of a hockey star was the last straw. Learning a new specialty was supposed to change her life for the better, but it used up her savings. Then the slam dunk job with the New Orleans championship hockey team mysteriously disappears. So she jumps at Kurt’s offer of a job, no matter how temporary. No matter how…dangerous, given how much she’s always crushed on him. No matter how risky it is to fall for Kurt, since he’ll always associate her with the grief of losing his brother.

But the more time they spend together, the deeper they both fall. Kurt’s heart begins to thaw…and then heat. Lisette can’t resist him, and throws caution to the wind. She’ll take whatever time he gives her. Can they move beyond the pain of the past and focus on a future together?

Goodreads

Buy Links:
Amazon
  │  B&N  │  Google  │  iTunes  │  Kobo

Excerpt:

God. Why would Lisette want to keep touching such a wallowing, messed-up son of a bitch? The words, the truth that kept him immobilized on this decision ripped from his throat like gravel spraying from his Harley tires. “Tell me how I can turn my back on my team and my friends and still be able to look myself in the mirror.”

She pressed up against his back, arms circling his waist like a life preserver. “How do you do it now? How do you look past your grief to see what’s truly in your reflection?”

“I don’t.”

Her fingers curved into his stomach. “You don’t look in mirrors?”

“Not for a while now.” Trying to make light of it, Kurt rasped a hand across his two-day-old stubble. “I’ve got an electric razor. Makes it so easy I can do it with my eyes shut. I was tired of seeing nothing but a scowl.”

“Oh, I get it, believe me. But feeling good, being happy? It takes practice every bit as much as skating.” Going up on her tiptoes, Lisette murmured into his ear, “I declare that smile practice is now in session.”

Then her fingers splayed, arrowing down to just below the waist of his shorts. Just enough to make him wish they’d damn well keep going. She scraped her teeth along the cords of his neck, then licked a path down to where Kurt knew she could feel his pulse jackrabbiting through the skin. Lisette sucked. Sucked and swirled her tongue. That was all it took to bring his dick into a full-out lunge, trying to meet her fingertips.

Kurt reached back and around to pull her closer. He got two handfuls of the sweetest ass he’d ever touched and squeezed. Kneaded. His hands almost completely covered those taut globes. He couldn’t wait to see how they’d look doing exactly that on her naked skin.

He didn’t care if she gave him a hickey. Didn’t care that the guys would give him a mountain of shit if he walked into the locker room with a love bite like a teenager. The only thing Kurt cared about was the way her tongue lapped at him, sending shivers of sensation straight down to his dick.

They weren’t really kissing. They were fully clothed, in a fucking warehouse. They weren’t even face-to-face. But her assault on his neck was so damn hot, Kurt was ready to shove up her skirt and take her on the floor, with the goddamned goldfish watching.

Whispering, breath feathering against his ear, Lisette ordered, “Look at your reflection in the bowl, Kurt. What do you see?”

He turned his head to catch a smug, satisfied grin curling up the edges of his mouth. Huh. Kurt twisted to see her wet lips and flushed cheeks. Guess she’d enjoyed giving as well as getting. Which turned him on even more. “You think I’m good in a practice session? You should catch me in the real deal.”

 

Review:

Start with an absolutely heartwrenching beginning (have tissues handy!) and an intriguing premise (older brother of cancer patient falls for hospice nurse)–throw in a hockey hero (aforementioned older brother) and you should have a hat trick, right? That was my hope when I started reading Check My Heart, a hope which was only partially fulfilled.

I liked both Kurt and Lisette, the hero and heroine (AKA brother and nurse). Buying into their relationship push-pull was a bit trickier, though–maybe if we’d seen them in the beginning, instead of finding out about it later on? (Especially since their individual accounts of that time don’t quite seem to jive–both claim to be drawn to the other, but neither seems to think that the other is even remotely interested (I get it; the younger brother is dying, etc., but still…)) They also seem to go pretty quickly from Jasper will always come between us to getting over that obstacle (I don’t actually think there was a moment of them getting over it–though maybe I just missed it, somehow? Or promptly forgot all about it?) My biggest issue, though, was with

Spoiler Inside SelectShow
 Even when it was admitted to and moved on from, it still rubbed me wrong.

Altogether this wasn’t a bad way to spend a few hours, though. I mean, there is a hot hockey hero who has the bonus of being a great older brother and a very sympathetic nurse who knows how to plan kick-butt parties, plus the resolution is sweet and fairly believable. It’s not my favorite from Ms Barth, but I’m not sorry I read it, either.

Rating: 3 stars / C+

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

View all my reviews

 

About the author:

USA Today bestselling author Christi Barth earned a Masters degree in vocal performance and embarked upon a career on the stage. A love of romance then drew her to wedding planning. Ultimately she succumbed to her lifelong love of books and now writes award-winning contemporary romance, including the Naked Men and Aisle Bound series.

Christi can always be found either whipping up gourmet meals (for fun, honest!) or with her nose in a book. She lives in Maryland with the best husband in the world.

For information on books, new releases and more, visit her Website

 

Author Links:   Website | Twitter | Facebook   | Goodreads

New Release and Giveaway! DESTINATION: LOVE by Christi Barth, Eliza Knight, Misty D. Waters, Piper J. Drake, and Christina Elle

Destination: Love
by Christi Barth, Eliza Knight, Misty D. Waters and Piper J. Drake, and Christina Elle
Publication Date: August 1, 2017
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Boxed Set

Go the distance, fall farther than you planned…

Don’t bother with your passport – you can watch our HOT couples fall in love from the comfort of your couch! USA Today bestsellers Christi Barth, Eliza Knight, Misty D. Waters and Piper J. Drake, and Christina Elle take you along on sexy, romance-drenched vacations all over the globe. Enjoy the exotic settings, the steamy vacation flings that become something more. Take the plunge with five couples as they throw caution to the wind and give in to temptation. The final destination in this itinerary is love, and you’re in for the trip of your life.

Purchase: Amazon | Kobo | iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Google Play

Excerpt from FINDING HIS MARK by Piper J. Drake:

Michael nodded, then took Sushar’s hand from his elbow and instead placed his hand on her lower back. The heat of his palm warmed her skin through the gauze of her delicate cover. “Well, I took our discussion from yesterday to heart. I’d like you to meet Su. She’s an old friend who agreed to join me even though I invited her last minute.”

“Very kind of you.” The man’s gaze settled on Sushar and pierced right through her, assessing.

“I was surprised.” She decided concise and honest was best with this man. “But if Michael called, it was important to him.”

Which was absolute truth.

The man’s eyebrow lifted in response to her statement and the corner of his mouth twitched in a hint of a smile. “Michael, you continue to impress me.”

Michael chuckled. He was comfortable with this man. “You recommended I establish a life, a real one beyond my work. Su might be a past acquaintance, but she’s also the only part of my history worth bringing back into my life now.”

Her heart skipped and stuttered, almost stopped. She knew all his tells. Either he’d become a much better liar over the years or he meant what he’d said.

Michael’s boss truly smiled then, the laugh lines creasing an otherwise serious face. “Ben Ward. You are very welcome here.”

He extended his right hand.

Sushar took it and gave him a firm handshake. “Sushar Sakda. Thank you. Please call me Su.”

Michael turned her to introduce her to the others in Ben’s close circle of trusted advisors. Those men had waited for Ben to welcome her, and she noticed only a few of them introduced their ladies. Wives were given introductions. The others were very possibly temporary companions or perhaps mistresses.

It’d been significant, then, for Michael to introduce her to Ben. It mattered in this group of people. The question was, had it mattered as much to Michael as he’d implied?

She shouldn’t wonder, but she did.

About the Authors:

Christi Barth:

Christi Barth earned a Masters degree in vocal performance and embarked upon a career on the stage.

A love of romance then drew her to wedding planning. Ultimately she succumbed to her lifelong love of books and now writes award-winning contemporary romance, including the Naked Men and Aisle Bound series. Christi can always be found whipping up gourmet meals (for fun, honest!) or with her nose in a book. She lives in Maryland with the best husband in the world.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

 

Eliza Knight

Eliza Knight is a USA Today bestselling author of sizzling historical romance, time-travel, contemporary and erotic romance. Under the name E. Knight, she pens riveting historical fiction. While not reading, writing or researching for her latest book, she chases after her three children. In her spare time (if there is such a thing…) she likes daydreaming, wine-tasting, traveling, hiking, staring at the stars, watching movies, shopping and visiting with family and friends. She lives atop a small mountain with her own knight in shining armor, three princesses and two very naughty puppies.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

 

 

Misty D. Waters

USA Today Bestselling author MISTY D. WATERS lives with her family in Maryland. When she isn’t steaming up the pages to a good romance, abusing her muse, or random dancing, she’s writing edge-of-your-seat science fiction thrillers as M.D. Waters.

Her first novel, ARCHETYPE, was nominated for a RT Reviewers’ Choice award, on the Texas Library Association’s 2015 Lariat Reading List, listed on Popsugar.com’s The Best Books of 2014, and voted “Best Sex” by the A.V. Club’s Pages Most Likely to Succeed: Our Favorite Books of 2014 (so far). Her other works, ANTITYPE & PROTOTYPE, are available now.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Piper J. Drake:

Piper J. Drake is a bestselling author of romantic suspense and edgy contemporary romance, a frequent flyer, and

day job road warrior. She is often distracted by dogs, cupcakes, and random shenanigans.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

 

Christina Elle:

Christina believes that laughter really is the best medicine, which is why in her stories she blends a healthy dose of hilarious hijinks with gritty suspense.

When she’s not writing fun contemporary romance or quirky romantic suspense, Christina can be found devouring books in every genre, watching Chris Hemsworth on TV, playing board games with her family, working out, checking out Chris Hemsworth on Facebook, napping, stalking Chris Hemsworth on Instagram, and shopping…for Chris Hemsworth’s latest DVD.

Christina lives near Baltimore with her husband and two sons, who give her an endless supply of humorous material to write about.

She is a member of Romance Writers of America and Maryland Romance Writers.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Release Day Review and Giveaway! TRYING IT ALL by Christi Barth (Naked Men #4)

Riley’s brain tells him she’s a ticking time bomb—but his body doesn’t want to play by the rules.

TRYING IT ALL
Naked Men #4
Christi Barth
Releasing May 16, 2017
Loveswept
Order. Attention to detail. Never leaving anything to chance. These are the qualities that make Riley Ness such a terrific federal agent . . . and a pain in the ass to everyone else. The only time Riley lets loose is when he’s hanging out with his closest pals. So when he’s thrown together with gorgeous, flighty Summer Sheridan, Riley’s brain tells him she’s a ticking time bomb—but his body doesn’t want to play by the rules.
Riley has to be the most irritating man Summer has ever met. The brooding hunk thinks he needs to teach her a few lessons about real life, while she’d rather show him how to enjoy it. But her BFF’s all but engaged to Riley’s best friend, and besides, their intense physical chemistry is all too real. Summer just needs Riley to try to meet her halfway and take a chance with the one thing that matters: his heart.

“Living forever’s only fun if you truly live.”

That jab stung. Because it was the same riff the guys threw at him, over and over again. “I live. I just follow the rules. Obey the speed limit. Turn off my phone before the plane starts to taxi.”

Summer tossed her cloud of hair back. Gave him a knowing look. No, a knowing smirk. “Oh, I get it now.”

“What?”

“You’re not uptight. You’re chicken.”

The woman had crossed a line. He’d gone through wilderness training and survival training. He’d climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. Become a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. He’d pushed himself to physical and mental limits most men wouldn’t be able to attain. Being sensible? In no fucking way was it comparable to being scared.

Riley’s long strides ate up the distance between them. Furious, he spat out, “You want me to try something risky?”

“Yes. Just once. But I don’t think you’ve got the balls,” she taunted.

Riley grabbed her face with both hands. Her lips parted in surprise. And he swooped right onto them.

Her lips were soft. So soft and pliable it almost deterred him. But then . . . they were so soft and pliable that he couldn’t possibly stop. Instead of holding her still, his hands curved to cup the back of her head, his thumbs caressing those impossibly high cheekbones that gave her the look of someone made to walk a runway.

Riley nipped at her wide bottom lip. Soothed it with a stroke of his tongue that savored the sweet, lingering tang of the orange cream cheese icing on the cinnamon rolls from brunch. He wanted to keep going. To nip and bite and lick down her neck, over the side of the breasts she flashed at him all day. To gobble down her sweetness and spice just like he had those rolls.

Her moan refocused him. This wasn’t just following through on a dare anymore. This was a real kiss. A real moment of pure, physical pleasure. So he dropped his hands to the small of her back and hauled Summer tight against him.

Thanks to her ridiculous—and ridiculously sexy—high heels, everything lined up right. The notch between her thighs ground right against his dick behind the suddenly too-tight fly of his shorts. Breasts plumped against his chest. Breasts he was pretty sure he could fit entirely into his mouth . . . since he might have pictured them a time or ten since meeting her in the spring. Tight nipples insistently poked at his pecs.

The kiss kept going. Ry slipped his tongue in as she let out a kittenish purr. God, it was the sexiest sound he’d ever heard. The soft, tiny mewl fired through his blood. Fired him up. His tongue tangled with hers. Like they were two swords, fencing for the win. Because there would damn sure be a winner. The way they were grappling at each other? It wasn’t just fun. It was about proving something.

Her mouth—made for kissing. And more. His tongue slid deep. Felt her wetness. And Riley couldn’t help imagining how all that warm wetness would feel locked around another part of his body. Summer’s hands came up to fist in his shirt. Shit—for a second, he worried she’d push him away. But then those fists pulled him even closer. One smooth calf twined around his. He wanted to walk her back ten steps to the nearest tree and just sink into her.

Which was crazy. Riley didn’t even like this woman. He’d kissed her to save his pride. To defend his honor. To get her off his back. And now he wanted to put Summer on hers, spread her thighs, and—

That was it. Riley let go. Let go of the sweet ass he didn’t even remember moving down to squeeze. Let go of those luscious lips. Yanked his head back and deliberately stepped out of the semicircle of her curved leg.

“You and I both know that was the riskiest damn thing I could possibly do today.” Riley looked at her still unfocused eyes, her kiss-swollen lips. Proof that she’d enjoyed it every bit as much as he had. “Oh, and you also know now that I’ve got the balls. I’ve got the whole package.”

 Yes! Summer’s book! I’ve been waiting for this one since book one, Wanting It All , when her bestie Chloe fell for Griffin. Fortunately, it did not at all disappoint.

Summer and Riley represented everything that is awesome about enemies-to-lovers stories. Their initial antagonism, mixed in with inexplicable attraction, confused with tow-curling kisses–just fantastic. The fact that he’s the (overly anal, it must be said) prepares-for-everything guy and she’s the woman who thinks getting a puppy is too much of a commitment and smacks of future plans? Just adds to the deliciousness of the story. Add in the fact that the rest of the Naked Men are around, poking their noses into Ry’s business from start to finish? Pretty much ensures the story’s awesomeness from start to finish.

(Plus, for those who’ve been reading the series since the beginning, something FREAKING AWESOME happens with an earlier hero and heroine. I very nearly stood up and cheered at that point.)

The one odd aspect of this book, though, is that a lot of the scenes that get a lot of buildup in the narrative don’t actually end up happening on the page (a stressful Naked Men podcast first, a meet-the-parents moment, just to name two). It’s not a huge issue, but it did give the story a somewhat choppy feeling. At the same time, it kept the story moving along at a good clip, but…still felt a bit odd.

Overall, Trying it All was a fun and sexy read with two characters who both did their own share of work to get to their eventual HEA. The fact that they both realized their own issues, owned up to them, and put in equal effort going forward might make this one my favorite of the series (so far–Josh, you’re on notice!). It could work as a standalone, but really, do yourself a favor and read them all. You won’t be sorry!

Rating: 4 stars / A-

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.


USA Today
 bestselling author Christi Barth earned a Masters degree in vocal performance and embarked upon a career on the stage. A love of romance then drew her to wedding planning. Ultimately she succumbed to her lifelong love of books and now writes award-winning contemporary romance, including the Naked Men and Aisle Bound series.

Christi can always be found either whipping up gourmet meals (for fun, honest!)
or with her nose in a book. She lives in Maryland with the best husband in the
world.

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

New Release Review and Giveaway! HOT ON ICE: A Hockey Anthology from 18 Authors!

Hot on Ice: A Hockey Romance Anthology

18 brand new sexy stories from bestselling authors, each one too steamy for the penalty box . . .

20% of royalties from sales of Hot on Ice will go to Homes for our Troops, a charity that builds specially modified homes for injured veterans.

Get ready to fall in love with the smokin’ hot hockey players of the New Orleans Cajun Rage. After this season’s Cinderella run all the way to the Finals, these heroes have won the Cup–and now your heart is the goal.

FREE AGENT, USA Today Best Seller Robin Covington – Finally out, he thought he knew his next step . . . until the man he might not be able to resist puts a sexy offer on the table.

BODY CHECK, USA Today Bestseller Desiree Holt – The Cup, the girl, and the future-could he make them all come together?

DEEP CHECK, USA Today Bestseller Kimberly Kincaid – There’s no such thing as in too deep…

BLOCKED, USA Today Bestseller Heather Long – He needs to clean up his reputation . . . Can this bad boy keep the pop princess safe?

RANSOM, USA Today Bestseller Nana Malone – The last thing he wants is to be stranded in a cabin with the one girl he’s always wanted.

CAGED, USA Today Bestseller Virginia Nelson – She plans to melt the ice king’s heart and prove she’s just the girl to go skate to skate with him, whether he likes it or not.

BREAKAWAY BROOKE, Publisher’s Weekly Bestseller Angi Morgan – Can he convince this Amazon beauty to stop fighting her erotic powers long enough to play his game?

THE WARM UP, Xio Axelrod – Toss a stoic defenseman, a no-nonsense nurse, and a ward full of crafty children in a Cup and anything can happen.

CHECK MY HEART, Christi Barth – The only thing that will make him happy again is the one woman he can’t have . . .

FULL CONTACT, Andie J. Christopher – This player has a bounty on his virginity. She has him up against the boards.

BLADE, Avery Flynn – Sometimes the line between love and insanity is as thin as an ice skate’s blade.

UNDER THE MIDNIGHT SUN, Kim Golden – When it comes to the game of love, he’s playing to win.

COURAGE, Lena Hart – This hot-tempered coach is fully prepared to fight for his wife–but can he win back her heart?

PENALTY BOX BLUES, Robin Kaye – The only woman who knows his secret can slam his heart against the boards with a sideways glance. He is so pucked.

BEAR NAKED, Katie Kenyhercz – When he sets his sights on a goal, it’s only a matter of time.

IN SKATES TROUBLE, Kate Meader – Can a passion that started in the dark find a lifetime of love in the light?

MAKING HIS MOVE, Susan Scott Shelley – Making impossible saves is easy compared to falling in love.

CHECKING YES, Misty D. Waters – She’ll send him to the penalty box, and keep him there . . . for good this time.

Review:

18 romances with hockey-playing heroes? Heck yes, I am so there!

Sadly, I’m right in the middle of one of the busiest school weeks ever–and sick to boot–so I haven’t had a chance to read all 18…yet. Rest assured, this will be remedied. ASA-freaking-P!

What I’ve read so far:

In Skates Trouble by Kate Meader: A NEW KATE MEADER SERIES. Like I’m not going to get right on that? Riiiight. In Skates Trouble definitely did not disappoint. A full-figured model (squee!) and a younger-than-her, hockey-playing hero who’s willing to put everything on the line to be with her? What’s not to love? Plus, we get just enough of a glimpse of the h/H of the series’ first full-length book to make sure our one-click finger’s going to get a workout…

Free Agent by Robin Covington: The NHL’s first out-of-the-closet player has the best inspiration for getting himself out of said closet. (And no, it’s not for the other hero of the story–not that he’s not worthy, but it’s an even better reason. Woot!) This one was extra steamy, with one super-sexy accent straight from NOLA and two drool-worthy heroes.

Deep Check by Kimberly Kincaid: Ex-best friends-to-lovers/second chance (kinda) romance between a star center and his “calendar girl”? Yes, please! Bring. It. On!

I’m not stopping there–but I’ve got two major projects to finish before Sunday night, so I’ve gotta take a shortish break. But that’s the beauty of a novella anthology–it’s perfect to use as both incentive and reward for getting other work done between stories!

Rating: 4 stars / A-

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

Buy Links:

Amazon – http://amzn.to/2jFsJg8
iBooks: http://apple.co/2fOCS8g
B&N: http://bit.ly/2gC6ceJ
Kobo: http://bit.ly/2ggBnyg

a Rafflecopter giveaway

New Release Review and Giveaway! GIVING IT ALL by Christi Barth (Naked Men #3)

Giving It All
by Christi Barth
Series: Naked Men, #3
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: January 17, 2017

Logan Marsh never stays in one place for long. Through his family’s foundation, Logan spends his days traveling to the world’s most dangerous places to deliver disaster relief, which really puts a damper on his sex life—until he reconnects with his high-school crush. Stranded together in the Caribbean, they enjoy a steamy fling that awakens feelings Logan has ignored for too long. But family drama calls him away from her sweet embrace . . . or so he thinks.

Brooke Gallagher loved being a home economics teacher and cheerleading coach. Then an unexpected tragedy forced her to take some time off. Now she’s back in D.C. and despite the intensity of her tropical encounter with Logan, she’s shocked to bump into him again. Logan’s dealing with his own issues (including a newly discovered half-sister) and he’s itching to get back on the road. More than anything, Brooke wants to be there for him. But first, he has to decide if love is enough to keep him in one place.

 

 

Logan’s book!

Ms. Barth has been driving me crazy with the idea of Logan–we’ve only seen him so far in the books either in flashbacks to their Italy adventure (which, as he was the one who didn’t make the bus that day, he was barely in either, until the one in this book), conversations about him, or in a small handful of sat phone calls in book two ( Wanting It All ). I’ve been more than ready to finally get to see him in person!

In a lot of ways, Logan’s book does not disappoint. It was awesome seeing all of the ACSs together again at last–finally!–and about time Logan joined in on both their soccer games and the radio podcast. Logan and Brooke together are a great couple–(high school) friends-to-lovers–and it was clear to everyone but them for about 85% of the book (okay, maybe 75% for Brooke, 95% for Logan–that average works out, yes?) that they should be together. But…there’s issues. Of course.

I think it’s pretty clear from the beginning that Logan’s been carrying some heavy-duty baggage from the accident/rescue in the Alps days, and it’s still driving him in the present. Early in the book he pooh-poohs the idea that he’s suffering from PTSD or similar, but I think he really is–and worry that the “realizations” he comes to toward the end of the book are too quick and not built on a solid enough foundation. Yes, he gets to where readers and his fellow characters want him to be, but it doesn’t quite seem like he’s done enough to really get there on his own.

But, hey–it’s fiction. It could work. And really, I do like both Logan and Brooke and enjoyed their story on the whole, easy resolution aside. It’s always fun to see one of my favorite cities from the viewpoint of a group of locals, and imagining those ACS soccer games makes for some nice mental eye candy moments.

Two more “Naked Men” to go!

Rating: 4 stars / B

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

 

 

 

Christi Barth earned a Masters degree in vocal performance and embarked upon a career on the stage.

A love of romance then drew her to wedding planning.  Ultimately she succumbed to her lifelong love of books and now writes award-winning contemporary romance, including the Naked Men and Aisle Bound series. Christi can always be found whipping up gourmet meals (for fun, honest!) or with her nose in a book. She lives in Maryland with the best husband in the world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Release Review! WANTING IT ALL by Christi Barth (Naked Men #2)

Wanting It All
by Christi Barth

Synopsis:

In the follow-up to Risking It All, hailed by Lauren Layne as “the perfect escapist read,” the heartthrobs of the Naked Men blog and podcast get a little too real about friendship, love, and sex. For one wealthy bachelor, the trouble starts when all three collide. . . .

After narrowly surviving a bus crash in high school with his best friends, science geek Knox Davis resolved to become so successful that he could have anything and everything he wants. Now he’s über-wealthy, a huge business success, and a notorious ladies’ man. Knox refuses to limit himself to one woman, but when his latest conquest—a blond beauty from the Alaskan bush—challenges his superficial ways, Knox begins to see the world through her eyes, and finds he likes what he sees.

A nurturer at heart, Madison Abbott wants to put down roots. She left Alaska to meet Mr. Right—and to track down Logan, the half-brother she’s never met. Instead, she finds Knox. Although the sexy-as-sin bachelor may not seem like marriage material, Madison’s starting to think that Knox is The One. But Knox refuses to settle down, especially once he learns that Madison is his best friend’s little sister. Now it’s up to her to convince Knox that she’s everything he really wants.

 

Review:

The second Naked Men series book had such a strong start. I really love the ACSs (Italian abbreviation for “American soccer survivors”)–the dynamic between these guys, and the women who intersect their orbit, is great. Former scholarship student/geek turned bazillionaire fashion plate/tech guru Knox and Library of Congress librarian (!) Madison are absolutely adorable together. For 60+% of the book, I was in love.

But…it kinda goes off the rails in the last third or so. While I realize that the person who said yes to a marriage proposal one week into a relationship shouldn’t point fingers (in my defense, I figured he 1) was kidding or 2) was insane, and either way, I could easily get out of it later, since the only witness was fast asleep–and we didn’t make it official for 5 more months and the actual event was 2 years later–that all makes it more sane, yes?), there were so many, many things that happened in that last third that had me shaking my head.

1) Madison’s declaration to all and sundry that she’s in D.C. to get married. Um…okay. Not sure you need to tell everyone that quite so fast, especially the commitment-phobic womanizer you just met and started to date, and hey, you’re only twenty-four. It’s not Regency England, so take a breath, okay? Maybe enjoy living somewhere other than Alaska and your brand new job at the LoC for a few minutes first?

2) Though you could see who her mystery half-brother was going to be about a million miles away, it’s still a pretty convenient coincidence.

3) Expecting that previously-oblivious-to-her-existence half-brother to have an instant sibling love connection? Slightly unrealistic. Springing it on the guy 1) at the crack of dawn 2) on a sat phone call from halfway around the world 3) without any easing into it at all and 4) with said half-sister right there, expecting that instant connection? Not fair. Ripping into the guy for not taking it well? Beyond not fair.

4) Mystery half-brother is yelled at, threatened, and then extends a completely insane email invite to his half-sister, whom he still hasn’t met in person. What the what? And Ms. I-have-my-brand-new-dream-job considers it? What???

5) My brow is still furrowed from Madison’s and Knox’s friends’ pep talks toward the end. Were those really supposed to be helpful and supportive?

Sigh.

Still–such a strong start. Chemistry and cuteness all over the place! Set in one of my favorite places in the world! Madison’s a librarian! Jerry’s the butler I never knew I wanted!

Final verdict? I really do love all of these characters, and Ms. Barth’s writing has some truly funny moments throughout. It shouldn’t be too hard to put the crazy aside and look forward to book three–Logan’s story! (Giving It All: A Naked Men Novel)

Rating: 3 stars / C+

I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.
AddtoGoodreads
View all my reviews

Release Day Review! RISKING IT ALL by Christi Barth (Naked Men #1)

Title: Risking It All
Series: Naked Men #1  
 Author: Christi Barth
 Publisher: Loveswept
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Release
Date: March 8, 2016

Blurb:

 Who doesn’t love Naked Men? In Christi Barth’s irresistible series, a group of close-knit friends talk out their problems with naked honesty on a popular blog. Bonded by a high-school tragedy, they’re moving on from the past—and fighting for the future with strong and sassy women.

Griffin Montgomery helps people. As a teenager, he kept his best friends alive after their soccer team’s bus crashed in the Alps. Now, as a Coast Guard search and rescue pilot, he saves lives with reckless abandon—until he goes too far and earns a lengthy suspension. Working on the Naked Men projects keeps his mind busy, but Griff’s itching to get back in the action. That’s when he finds his latest rescue mission: a pretty wallflower who’s stuck in her comfort zone.Chloe Widmore doesn’t take risks. As a professional letter writer, she gets enough excitement out of expressing other people’s emotions. So when the hottest man she’s ever seen invades her coffee shop, Chloe surprises herself with how much she wants to be with him. Routines make her feel safe. Griff makes her deliciously unsafe, in so many ways. But falling for him is one risk she might just have to take . . . whether she’s ready or not.

 

Review:

This was such a fun read–I can’t wait for the rest of the series!

I wasn’t too sure about this one initially–the series name gave me pause–but I read the blurb and took a chance, and now I’m so glad I asked to review it. I loved the relationship between Griff and his four best friends (though we only see three of them in the bulk of the novel); just about every time they showed up en masse on the page, it was a riot. I’m really looking forward to seeing each and every one of them get their own HEA (and if Summer, Chloe’s BFF, gets an HEA with one of them too, then–bonus!)

Chloe and Griff are a great couple–the reclusive letter writer and the risk-taking Coast Guard rescue pilot–even though they look like they wouldn’t be at all compatible at first, they end up totally working, and even end up having a lot more in common than it originally seemed. I have to admit, that at first Griff’s reaction to Chloe’s big “news” 

Spoiler Inside SelectShow
 made me more than a little annoyed with him, but when he talked it out with his posse, it made more sense. (It was still a aggravating, but I could at least see their POV on the issue.) By the time the two of them took care of the “problem”, though, all was good–because Griff was so gosh darn sweet about it.

Letter writing, Who knew? 😉

Even though Chloe had issues galore, I still had to love her for this line alone:

working a literary reference into real life always perked her up

because who doesn’t love a good literary reference? It takes mad skills to work them into everyday conversation. Plus she gets to work in yoga pants and hoodies. She’s practically my idol…and then she got Griff. Slightly nerdy girls for the win!

So…where exactly in DC do I need to hang out to get to watch these guys play soccer? 😉

Rating: 4 stars / A-

I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase Links:
AMAZON US / UK
Author Bio:

Christi Barth
earned a master’s degree in vocal performance and embarked upon a career on the stage. A love of romance then drew her to wedding planning. Ultimately she succumbed to her lifelong love of books and now writes contemporary romance. Barth lives in Maryland with her husband.
Author Links:
FACEBOOK

Week in Review: What I’m Reading (and didn’t have time to read–because, hello–Baltimore Book Festival! 9-29-13)

I know, I know--finally going to take a look at the welcome sign on the last day. I get the irony.

I know, I know–finally going to take a look at the welcome sign on the last day. I get the irony.

 

Well, the Baltimore Book Festival is over, and we’re on our way back to the real world again. Sadly. But we did have an awesome time, talked and listened to lots of interesting people, and increased our TBR piles by…well, a lot. (That latter bit is a good thing, right? I’m going to say yes.)

So…not a ton of reading got done last week, but I’m planning on playing catch up on the long train ride back. As soon as I finish my post, that is.

I read and reviewed Ivy Entwined by Laura Simcox, a new-to-me author who I plan on reading again. I liked her quirky style. Since I’ve argued with flight attendants before about using ereaders during the ascent and descent (and since our flight was so short that’s practically all it was), I decided just to avoid the hoopla and read a print title, so I started Mary Balogh’s The Arrangement, which I am loving. It’s going to be hard to focus on work this week knowing it’s waiting for me. The hero is a blind war veteran. And he’s awesome.

I read the short YA novella (70 pages) The Dating Tutor by Melissa Frost over the weekend, and will be posting a review and an interview with the author tomorrow. It was a really cute debut. (But isn’t on Goodreads yet. I might have to sign up as a librarian and add it, gosh darn it.)

Next up I’ve got a handful of novellas to read for Entangled’s Ever After line–reviews to follow later on this week. In the meantime, check out the associated giveaways here.

On audio I finished Beautiful Bastard by Christina Lauren–fantastic finish, even though the ending was a bit problematic for me (I had a hard time getting past the she’s-his-intern part of the beginning), and I went right into the sequel novella, Beautiful Bitch It was okay, but not as satisfying as the first, since most of the darn good reasons for drama were missing. Since I finished that one a day too early for Meg Cabot’s new release, The Bride Wore Size 12, Mini Moe #2 decided it was time for me to start listening to Jennifer Lynn Barnes’s The Squad: Perfect Cover. It’s an entertaining YA cheerleader squad-masquerading as spies novel, which is good–but now Mini Moe #2 is more than halfway done with Bride and I can’t even start it yet. Grrrr. All part of her plan, I’m sure.

(Yeah, confirmed. She just stuck out her tongue in a very snotty way.)

Last day of the festival was awesome. Most of the panels we attended had to do with the craft of writing–there’s 32 days left until NaNoWriMo, after all–and they were all great. The first one was The Craft of Writing with Cristi Barth, Stephanie Draven, Jean Murray, Christie Kelley, and Kate Dolan. (No pic, because the photographer was at the Writing for Video Games discussion instead.) They had some really great information about how they write and general advice for writers. I’m determined to use Scrivener even more effectively this year because of it. I refuse to be cowed by the month of November!

Much.

Next up was The Part-Time Writer, which I missed the beginning of because I was chatting in the back of the tent. I still got some good ideas for time management–I’m seeing more lists in my future–and have hope that I’ll eventually finish a novel I actually like some day.

part time

The Part-Time Writer, with (L to R) Elisabeth Staab, Ann Arbaugh, Laura Wellig, Misty Waters, Robin Covington, and P.J. Schnyder

I wanted to sit for Writing the Hot Contemporary, but Mini Moe #2 wasn’t sure she could take it and we were both starving anyway so we met Mini Moe #1 and his uncle for lunch. We finished up just in time to catch Writing a Fiction Series, which both Mini Moe #2 and I were looking forward to.

Series

Writing a Fiction Series, with (L to R) A.C. Arthur, Andrew Grey, Elisabeth Staab, Brigid Kemmerer, and Jean Murray

 

Mini Moe #2 was shocked to find out that A.C. Arthur doesn’t like puppies (“How can she not like puppies?” she asked, multiple times). I love reading books in a series, but suspect I’ll have to at least journey over to the dark side of the plotters if I’m going to write them.

Darn it.

Finally, Mini Moe #2 and I (MM#1 went back with his uncle), made our way over to the Literary Salon to prepare for the Meg Cabot/Jennifer Armentrout talk. If we made a slight detour by the Island Cow Ice Cream stand, no one will tell, right? We sat in for the very end of Jason Mott’s talk about his debut book The Returned (on my TBR list, because it sounds good and creepy) and then got front row seats for Meg. And Jen.

Meg and Jen II

Jen Armentrout! Meg Cabot! Live and in person!

Both authors were wonderful–funny, personable, and I wanted to run right home as soon as it was over and read (or re-read, as the case may be) every single thing they ever wrote. The BBF people were taping it, so if (when) they post it online and we find it, I’ll give a link. It was really a great talk.

Meg and Jen

We didn’t want it to end! Except that we had books (and a Kindle) for them to sign, which they weren’t going to do up on stage

 

Both authors recognized us from earlier in the weekend, but neither indicated that they felt like they were being stalked. (Phew!) And they were super nice about signing our things and chatting. We would absolutely go see either of them again anytime, anywhere. If only money were no object…but then that would probably be more stalker-like, wouldn’t it?

Probably better this way.

Hope your week is full of lots of great stuff to read–stay tuned, because this week’s posting schedule is busy!

[contact-form][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Website’ type=’url’/][contact-field label=’Comment’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form]

 

Baltimore Book Festival Day Two: A Super Day–with Books!

BBF Super Stan

Mini Moe #1 (yes, I’m sure it’s him) saves the day! Or should I call him Mighty Moe?

I’m exhausted. All of this traipsing around Maryland, talking about and listening to other people talking about books is draining. I want to get the day’s events down before I forget them all, though. Hopefully I’ll do better tonight than last night–I kept mixing up which Mini Moe was which, and they both took offense. I did let Mini Moe #2 edit the post herself, which mollified her somewhat. But I’ve been put on notice for today, so I have to be more careful.

Mini Moe #2 served as photographer today as well. I tried to take a picture by myself just once and was severely chastised.

We started out today at my new home-away-from-home, the Maryland Romance Writer’s Stage, for their Blogging About Books event.

book bloggers

Blogging About Books, with (L to R) Joy Harris, Jillian Stein, Stephanie Sinclair, Hannah McBride, Jen Fisher, and Andye Eppes

Six fantastic book bloggers were there: Andye Eppes from ReadingTeen.net, Jen Fisher from Jenuine Cupcakes and Young Adult Book Central, Hannah McBride from The Irish Banana Review Blog, Stephanie Sinclair from Cuddlebuggery Blog, Jillian Stein from Read-Love-Blog, and Joy Harris from Joyfully Reviewed Blog. They all shared a ton of information about blogging for readers, bloggers and reviewers, and authors–and they brought extras to share! The Minis each picked up a book to read on the way home–I wish I knew who to thank for them, but the panel ended late and all the books were set on the back table together–and I got a bag full of books and swag from Joy Harris, who brought SIX of them. (Thanks, Joy!) I’ve already bookmarked all of their blogs, and will definitely be spending some quality time with them all later.

After that, we had to rush over to the Children’s tent to see cartoonist and illustrator Nathan Hale talk about his latest book in the Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales series, The Donner Dinner Party. Sheer awesomeness. I read about a third of the book while waiting in line to get it (and the other two in the series, One Dead Spy and Big Bad Ironclad!) and am loving it so far. His talk was great, filled with interesting facts and Sharpie illustrations of the story done while we watched.

Nathan Hale #1

Nathan Hale is talking about one of the bachelors on the trip (illustrated) who, sadly, will not survive the “party”

Nthan Hale and tree

Apparently, during their first night in the snow, the Donner Party burned an entire pine tree to stay warm. Here’s a quick illustration.

Next up, it was back to the MRW tent for Writing Military Romance. We were just in time to catch the very end of the Scottish Highlander Romance panel, and MM#2 felt it was her duty to take a picture of the men in kilts who were there.

BBF kilts

Kilts. Indeed.

Writing Military Romance was a great panel, and I bought books by everyone on it–except Robin Covington, because I already have all of hers.

BBF military

Writing Military Romance, with (L to R) Elisabeth Staab, Robin Covington, Geri Krotow, and Laura Kaye

We decided to get back on time to actually eat dinner with my brother and sister-in-law and the Mini Macs today, so we only stayed for one last panel, Craft: Plotting vs. Pantsing. With NaNoWriMo just around the corner, we’re getting into panic time and I need all the help I can get.

plotters vs...

Plotters (L to R): Lea Nolan, Diana Cosby, and Christi Barth; Pantsers: Joya Fields, Andrew Grey, and Terri Brisbin

I tend to be more of a pantser (as in, fly by the seat of my pants while writing–minimal if any plotting and planning ahead of time), but strongly suspect I could really use being more of a plotter, if only to save my sanity. Both groups had some really solid suggestions and their discussion was lively and entertaining.

Note to self: pick up Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat! already. Only about a million authors have suggested it by now.

…and then we went home. Obviously, the day was draining to all of us.

photo (10) - Copy

Mini Moe #2 on the car ride home. No, I didn’t take the picture. This one was Mini Moe #1’s handiwork

Or maybe she’s just getting caught up on her beauty sleep before round two of Meg Cabot tomorrow?

[contact-form][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Website’ type=’url’/][contact-field label=’Comment’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form]

 

 

Baltimore Book Festival Day One: Fan Girl Alert!

photo (15)

Mini Moe #2 with one of her favorite authors!

 

Let me start by saying that Mini Moe #2 decided a week ago that she needed her own distinct text ringtone on my phone. She picked her own–it’s called Sci-Fi, and it’s got a very eerie feel to it. One could say it’s very Twilight Zone-ish. The kind of ringtone you don’t really want to suddenly hear while you’re working all alone in your place of work that may or may not be haunted. It also stands out in a not-so-great way when you’re in a very small, quite busy, yet somehow quiet mini-mart in the heart of Baltimore’s Mount Vernon section, buying a couple of sodas and a small packet of Tylenol.

The messages I was getting?

Mini Moe #2: OMG I SEE MEG!!!

me: Ok, fan girl

MM#2: She is right there!!!!!

me: Uh huh. My ringtone is scaring people in the minimart

MM#2: Good omg I can’t believe it she is right there

me: Yes, honey. So you said.

By this time, we’re finally checking out. And I’ve now silenced my phone, because the weird looks were disconcerting.

MM#2: Just omg!!!

Totally adorable. When Mini Moe #1 and I got back to the tent, she was practically vibrating out of her seat with joy.

And then Meg Cabot came up for her panel, and…well, the whole trip was totally worth it, just to see her so excited.

Just in case her day wasn’t enough awesome with awesome sauce, MM#2 also won a gift basket of goodies from author Nancy Weeks at the Putting the Suspense in Romance panel. Her birthday was six days away from Nancy’s, which was how the winner was selected. Actually, Mini Moe #1’s birthday was also six days away from it in the other direction–it’s like we were fated to win. MM#1 and I were taking that basket–and the bag o’ books that MM#2 bought earlier in the day and had signed by most of the Young Adult Paranormal Fiction panel–back to the car when MM#2 had her first Meg sighting. And the rest was history….

Clearly, day one was a huge success, even if we missed the Jane Austen panel due to a parking lot mishap, blocked off streets, and an inordinate number of one-ways. I told MM#1 I would give him kudos for his navigation skills, even if he still has yet to learn that a person cannot make a left-hand turn when in busy traffic and the right-hand lane, and that saying, “That was the road you were supposed to turn down” just after one passes it is not as helpful as something like, “This road right up here will be our turn.” Still, we got there and back in one piece and he was very good at ignoring the slightly bad words that I might have said once or twice when the map was not our friend. And now he’s darn near an expert at telling the iMap app to “go to [insert desired address here] from current location.”

So it’s all good.

Here’s some of MM# 2’s pics from some of the panels we heard today:

photo (14)

Writing Historical Fiction, with (L to R) Stephanie Dray, Kate Quinn, Laura Tilley, and Terri Brisbin

photo (13)

Young Adult Paranormal Fiction, with (L to R): Alethea Kontis, Dawn Rae Miller, Lea Nolan, Diana Peterfreund, Bridgid Kemmerer, and Jennifer L. Armentrout

Notice the banner? It fell down during the Hot Paranormal Fiction panel (when my phototographer was at the Graphic Novel D.I.Y. workshop), and may or may not have been knocked down by a ghost that Joya Fields brought to the festival.

photo (12)

Putting the Suspense in Romance, with (L to R) Geri Krotow (mostly blocked), Regina Jeffers, Joya Fields, Rebecca York, Robin Covington, and (off camera) Nancy Weeks

MM#2’s basket is on the corner of the table closest to the camera!

photo (11)

Fantasy Elements in Romance, with (L to R) Vivi Dumas, Dawn Rae Miller, Jennifer L. Armentrout, Catherine Asaro, Stephanie Draven, Robin Kaye

photo (10)

Chocolate and Romance, with (L to R) Christie Kelley, Meg Cabot, and Christi Barth (Eliza Knight, Robin Covington, and Laura Kaye are off camera)

 

It was a fantastic day, even if every time I managed to come up with a question to ask someone else asked it first or the panelists answered it without being asked. All of the talks were very entertaining, the food was delicious, and the number of books in my TBR pile increased by roughly a bazillion, give or take a few.

All of the authors were fantastic, especially the ones who signed MM#2’s books for her. Special shout-outs go to Lea Nolan, Diana PeterfreundAlethea Kontis, and Brigid Kemmerer, who I’m pretty sure now have fans for life in both of us.

Should someone warn Meg Cabot that we’ll be back for her Book Group talk with Jennifer L. Armentrout on Sunday?

Nah… 😉

In the meantime, bring on day two!

[contact-form][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Website’ type=’url’/][contact-field label=’Comment’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form]