Tuesday, May 19, 2015

MAY 19 || release day • reviews

Happy release day to:

Game Changer by Melissa Cutler jump to review }
Protective Instinct by Katie Reus { jump to review }
Unyielding Bachelor by Miranda P. Charles { jump to review }

Game Changer by Melissa Cutler

Publisher: InterMix (5/19/2015)
Series: Bomb Squad, book 3
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: NetGalley
Purchase links || amazon | add to goodreads


The author of Undefeated and Risky Business has another sexy hero for you to meet...

Welcome to Destiny Falls, New York, home of Bomb Squad--an ice hockey team full of rugged military heroes. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity has the team captain packing his bags for greener pastures, but saying good-bye to the woman who'd captured his heart is easier said than done...

After being wounded in combat, Brandon Theroux lives every day like it's his last. He never could have imagined that the sleek mechanics of his prosthetic leg would open so many doors, including minor celebrity status as a fitness model and a well-earned reputation as a rakish playboy. The only door it hasn't opened is the one to Harper Johnson's bedroom.

Harper has too much self-respect to join the ranks of Brandon's "carpe diem" conquests, but when she needs someone to keep the peace in the tavern she owns, Brandon offers his help--as long as she agrees to a very tempting trade. It isn't long before the two realize that a deal struck between friends who can't keep their hands off each other has the potential to be a whole lot hotter than either of them is prepared to handle...

I love military romance. I love sport romance. I really love hockey sport romance.

...so I knew that there was a good chance I was going to love GAME CHANGER.

Now... I wasn't as in love with it, completely, as I'd hoped to be, but it was still a really good read.

Harper and Brandon have been best friends since he rolled in to town five years ago. He's a bit of a free spirit and never intends to stay in one place for long, and he's starting to get that itch to move on. Prior to moving to Destiny Falls, New York, he was in the military and saw the wrong side of an IED. The only one of ten to survive the blast, he's convinced that there's a reason he's still around and is working on figuring out just that.

With the way Melissa wrote Brandon's character, I see every amputee Michael Stokes has photographed, as well as the will and drive of Noah Galloway -- Men's Health cover finalist and Dancing With the Stars semi-finalist. Like these men, Brandon is an amputee who is working to get his star known -- not for the fame, but for the American public to know about wounded veterans and ways they can help. Through modeling and magazine covers, he's becoming a known name and now he's been presented with an opportunity to get his cause completely known --

He's going to be the next groom on the dating show, Meet the Groom. Problem?

He's not just a confirmed bachelor--he doesn't believe in the whole ball and chain thing.

Brandon plays hockey for the Bomb Squad, a group of amputees; his best (guy) friend and roommate is a fellow teammate. Aside from the guys on the team, his closest friend is Harper. He's been trying to get in her pants their entire friendship, but Harper is eight years older than him, nearing forty, and isn't into the non-relationship thing. When Brandon chooses to leave, and decides that by doing that he needs to end his friendship with Harper cold-turkey, they try and give in to the attraction --

...but between his thoughts of leaving and her health concerns, it doesn't go too well. Luckily for them, they can laugh it off, chalk it up to no-physical chemistry, and manage to remain friends. 

At points, I found the story to be a little slow. Great characterization, great friendships, but I wasn't completely sucked in -- and I found myself to feel that way mainly with the side-friendship stories. The Harper and Brandon scenes were spot on and I lived to read them -- yes, lived... Loved works too, but I kept flipping pages just to read more of the Harper/Brandon scenes. 

I loved the way Brandon cared for Harper and found it comical that it had to take the thought of losing Harper for him to get his act together, but such is the life of a playboy. But when he had his head on straight? He was a class act. I loved how he supported Harper, I loved how he wanted to help her through her dark days, I loved how he loved her. 

"...I need you to know that I loved having you as my best friend."

If the story was more centered around just Brandon and Harper, this would have been a 5-star, hands down. I just found my interest waning during the other aspects of the story. That is not to say I didn't enjoy the other characters -- I have a feeling I'm going to like Will's story if and when he gets one, and perhaps Kayla too... I kinda want both of their stories to live between the same front and back cover, too, but what do I know.

Protective Instinct by Katie Reus

Publisher: KR Press, LLC (5/19/2015)
Series: Moon Shifter, book 5.5
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Source: NetGalley
Purchase links || amazon | add to goodreads

Rating: ★1/2

A woman worth fighting for… 

Wolf shifter Teresa is blown away by her packmate Ryan’s honesty about his past and his rare empathic powers. She wants him in her bed—and her life. The only problem: Ryan insists they wait, because the last thing he wants is to recreate the hellish family he grew up in. Frustrated, Teresa jumps at the chance to assist a packmate off the ranch—far away from Ryan. 

On the way, their vehicle is run off the road—and it wasn’t an accident. Ryan rushes to Teresa’s side, determined to protect her. But there’s a dangerous enemy lurking in the shadows, and if Ryan doesn’t break out of his old thinking and put his faith in his and Teresa’s love—and their ability to overcome obstacles together—it will be too late. 

Length: 27,000 words 
Author note: This novella is part of the Moon Shifter Series, but can be read as a stand-alone. 

In the last Katie Reus title I reviewed, I mentioned how I was coming to really enjoy her work. She is now on a list of authors that I see her name and I automatically want her book -- doesn't matter what genre it falls in, I want to read it.

It also doesn't matter if it's smack-dab in the middle of a series and I've lost out on a lot of the prelude to a particular couple.... Like what happened in this book.

Quick thing to note? It is not necessary to read the other books before reading this novella. It was written in a way that you were still connected to Ryan and Teresa -- it's just that if you read the prelude or see other reviewers talking about how they wanted to see these two bond for ages! -- well, that's when you start to get curious about how this game of love started.

Ryan and Teresa have been with one another for a minute now; they've said their 'love yous' and have done everything sassy besides finishing the bonding process, something that is starting to drive Teresa insane. She understands Ryan's hesitation, but there's only so many times she can tell him she is not like his mother, that's he's not his father, before she'll just get ready to walk away.

His wolf wants hers. Her wolf feels peace around him. He just needs to trust his instinct and unfortunately, it's going to take Frida and her revenge on this pack to make him fully grasp how much he needs Teresa in his life.

I enjoyed this quick little read -- I'm interested in going back and watching their relationship truly unfold in the previous stories, as well as watch as their love continue to grow in the future ones. I have no doubt that I will be drawn to the other characters of the series, but I tend to get attached to one couple in a series and while I can't truly say these two will be it...

I have a feeling that these two will be it.

Unyielding Bachelor by Miranda P. Charles

Publisher: MPC Romance Publishing (May 19, 2015)
Series: Captured by Love, book 1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: Author
Purchase links || amazon | add to goodreads

Rating: ★1/2

He has to stay away from her.

Thirty-year-old entrepreneur Rick Donnelly is under contract to remain unattached until his fifteen-year-old half-sister turns twenty-one. If he breaks the rules, not only will he have to hand over the management of his half-sister's substantial inheritance to his reckless stepmother, but he'll also have to transfer twenty percent ownership of his company to the untrustworthy woman. When the tempting Lexie Mead decides to knock down his heart's defenses, he finds himself in danger of breaking the contract's strict conditions--something he simply cannot afford to do.

She intends to win his heart.

Twenty-six-year-old Lexie Mead has long had feelings for the hunky Rick Donnelly. Tired of being treated as just another one of his friends, she sets out to win his heart from prettier and more aggressive women admirers. But Rick has complications to deal with... and enemies who will do anything to see him fail. She doesn't want him to lose the things he's worked hard to keep. But how can they have a future together when she is forced to walk away and Rick can't ask her to stay? 

UNYIELDING is book two in this series, following UNWILLING -- and by following, I mean ten minutes after we closed Lucas and Jade's story when the group of friends was betting on who the next guy was to fall. Lexie (and Jade) bet on Rick... but Rick and Lucas know that that's just not going to happen.

Lexie has been attracted to Rick for a moment now, and can't figure out what else she can do to get him to notice her. She is blatantly obvious in her flirting, but still, he treats her like a friend. She just doesn't get it.

Rick, though... well, he's equally attracted to Lexie. Problem? He's literally under contract to not be in a serious relationship for another six years and what he wants with Lexie could certainly be filed under 'SERIOUS'. If he were to go back on the contract, though, not only does he lose a huge chunk of his business, but his fifteen-year-old half sister will end up losing her inheritance and that's something Rick isn't willing to gamble with, especially as he's not the biggest fan of Shelley's mom.

I rather enjoyed reading their story -- I liked it better than UNWILLING. My biggest issue in UNWILLING was the not-so-manly dialogue between friends, but I can't say that was evident here. I felt that Lexie and Rick had a great rapport and communicated well -- he tried hard to keep her at arm's length and when he realized that not only did he not want to do that anymore, but that he was hurting her by doing it, he was forthcoming with her and told her why. Granted, when he learns more about his situation... He pushes her away again.

For good reason, but he pushes her away again.

Miranda did a great thing with this story by putting in time jumps -- there was one section that had a six week jump and I felt that that helped with the believability of the story. Granted... I don't recall if I put it in the review of UNWILLING, but I felt that Jade had forgiven Lucas too quickly in the last few pages. Here in UNYIELDING, I felt that the ending was wrapped up a little too quickly. I would have liked to see the last paragraph-ish of dialogue (pre-epilogue/chapter twenty-one) fill a few more pages, but maybe that's just me being greedy.

The next book in this series will belong to Cassie and Carter and I have to say...

I'm pretty pumped. Meeting Carter in this book was fun and I can't wait to see more of him!

{ previous reviews of series }
The Unwilling Executive review here }

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