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#Review of Deep Down & Hollywood Honkytonk (Kings of California #1-2) by Mia Hopkins! w/a rafflecopter giveawy & playlist @MiaHopkinsxoxo

Hollywood Honkytonk

by Mia Hopkins
Kings of California, #2
Publication Date: January 13, 2017
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Erotic, Romance

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The Wild Rose Press: http://bit.ly/2i9Olfh

Synopsis: With nothing but her dog, her guitar, and her cowboy boots, songwriter Riley Marion arrives in Los Angeles on the run from her abusive ex. A quiet job teaching music sounds perfect, but her low-key lifestyle is threatened when she reunites with a sexy old flame—now an up-and-coming celebrity who’s constantly dogged by paparazzi.

Charming and driven, Jack Lamont is a Hollywood actor on the rise to stardom. Ready to outgrow his playboy reputation, he’s happy to leave the hard partying to his entourage. Romantic entanglements? Jack’s not interested. At least, not until he gets tangled up with the one who got away—a smoking-hot woman whose memory has haunted him for the last ten years.

*AUTHOR’S NOTE* While this book is a part of a series, it can be read completely as a STANDALONE.

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Excerpt #3

“Stay.” His soft voice heated her blood.

Her willpower was taking a serious beating. Riley rubbed the worn-out brass key of her Datsun between her thumb and forefinger, wishing she could put this particular genie back in his bottle.

“Jack, listen. I have a favor to ask.”

“What do you need?”

What I need has nothing to do with what I want. “I’ve been thinking about what happened on the beach.”

“On the beach? When we…?”

“When we kissed. Made out. Almost…you know. It made me realize something.” She unclipped her seat belt and turned toward him. “I’m not ready.”

“Ready?”

“Ready…to take things further with you.” The words made her wither a little inside. Embarrassed, she didn’t know how to talk about sex. “I was married for a long time. And Tommy—he was my first. My only. There’s been no one since.”

Jack frowned. “Do you still have feelings for him?”

“No. Not at all. That’s done.” She licked her lips and looked up at him. “I know that since high school our lives took two very different paths. And I’m happy to be here with you, now. But, if it’s all the same to you, could we maybe”—she cleared her throat—“take things a little slower?”

Jack stared at her and said nothing.

Riley backpedaled, trying to make him understand. “I know, it’s a really old-fashioned thing to ask. If this doesn’t work out for you, I’ll be happy to be on my way. We can be friends. Grab a drink or two when you want to reminisce. No problem. I completely understand.”

His hands rested calmly on his knees, but his jaw tightened a little. “I think I get what you’re saying.”

“It’s not that I don’t want to—”

“Don’t want to what?”

“Jack.”

“Jesus Christ, Riley. We’re grown-ups. Say what you don’t want to do. I want to hear you say it.” Jack raised his eyebrows. “Go on.”

Riley fidgeted. “It’s not that I don’t want to…sleep with you.”

“So you do.”

“Do what?”

He grinned. “Want to sleep with me.”

“Stop putting words in my mouth.”

“Trust me, sweetheart.” His eyes crinkled up with silent laughter. “Words are not what I want to put in your mouth.”

She looked at him, and her jaw dropped open.

He started to laugh. “That doesn’t make things any better.”

Riley snapped her mouth closed and slapped his meaty shoulder with the back of her hand. “I’m baring my soul to you and you’re making fun of me. You big jerk.” She slapped his shoulder again.

“Ow! Okay, okay.” He held up his hands. “I couldn’t resist. I’m an asshole. Sorry. I’m sorry.” As she seethed at him, he reached forward and stroked her cheek with his fingertips. “Don’t be mad.” He took her hand in his and brought it to his lips. The gentle kiss calmed her. He did it again. When he did it a third time, the tension drained from her shoulders.

“Listen,” he said, “when you came back into my life, I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t think I would see you again, much less have a chance at spending time with you like this. Today was…for lack of a better word, today was fun. You’re fun to talk to. Smart. Passionate. It’s refreshing.”

In spite of her annoyance, Riley gave him a small smile. “I had fun too.”

“Then let’s keep it here for a while. I’m not in any rush.” He glanced up at her. “All right, that’s a bald-faced lie. I’ve been thinking about you all week.”

Her cheeks warmed up. “Really?”

He nodded. “Thinking about you. Fantasizing about you. Yeah. A lot, actually.” He ran his fingertip over her knuckles. “But that’s a conversation for another day, right?”

One more mischievous grin and he let go of her hand. Riley stared at him, wondering if she shouldn’t have shut her trap and jumped into bed with him like the wanton love goddess she wanted to be.

He walked her to her car and held the door open for her as she climbed inside. She cranked the window down and put the key in the ignition. Her crotchety old engine coughed to life.

Before she could drive away, Jack reached forward through the open window and took her face gently in his hands. Without a word, he kissed her—a deep kiss full of longing and sweetness. He slipped her a little tongue and she smiled, eyes closed, sparks falling like rain through her nervous system. Too soon, Jack let go and took a step back, his eyes locked on hers.

“Have a good week,” he said. “Call me.”

Okay, I have to admit that I read both books and will review them separately.  I also have to admit, that I liked this one better.  There is a sweetness to it.  The romance is there.  The trope, friends to lovers is there, too.  But what really sold me on the book were Riley and Jack.  These are the types of characters that I love in a contemporary romance.  They have a history with each other.  They are friends, first, and then they finally admitted their long held feelings for each other but it isn’t easy.  Oh yes, there are other forces they have to deal with.

Jack was introduced in Deep Down when he was a teenager.  I smirked when I read those pages because I couldn’t wait to read what the deal was with Jack and Riley.  I was not disappointed at all.   Jack and Riley had to work for their romance.  Miscommunication, stupid exes and the Hollywood scene don’t make it easy for them but they fight for what they want…each other.  I sighed and swooned throughout the book.  The length that Jack went through for Riley one time.  Oh my…best part of the book.

The secondary characters in the book are top notch.  The nuns are a hoot and I particularly liked how they were connected to Jack and Riley.  Jack’s friends were just okay and I would have liked to have gotten to know them a bit better.  Also, I felt like Ana, Jack’s assistant, could have been a great friend for Riley.  The pacing in this book is perfect.  Before long, it was over and I was sad.  I could have read about Jack and Riley like…forever.  Yes, forever.  I miss them.

Overall, I really, really liked this book.  The sexy times were great but not nearly has erotic as Deep Down.  In fact, I would have labeled this book spicy.  This story didn’t need the sex in it as much as Deep Down.  Again, there is a sweetness to this book that has stayed with me long after I read it.

CHECK OUT THE FIRST BOOK IN THE SCORCHING HOT KINGS OF CALIFORNIA SERIES!

DEEP DOWN

by Mia Hopkins
Kings of California, #1
Publication Date: November 20, 2015
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

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Synopsis: Sex, drugs, and spicy tuna rolls?Resilient and disciplined, tsunami survivor Eve Ono moves to California from Japan looking for a position as a sushi chef. When she’s suddenly fired from her restaurant job, desperation drives her to find work on a fishing boat despite her fears of the ocean. To make matters worse, she’s stuck in close quarters with her new captain—a man whose raw physicality drives her out of her mind with lust.

Free-spirited and roguish, Sam Lamont is a commercial fisherman aboard his own dive boat, the Bravado. When he makes a bad deal with a deadly loan shark who threatens to take his boat, Sam is in danger of losing both his business and his way of life. On top of that, he’s got to train his new deckhand—a beautiful hard-ass who just so happens to be sexy as hell.

A female sushi chef with mad knife skills. A deep-sea diver who’s pissed off a Mexican drug cartel. Together, they’re in trouble, and the only way out is down.

*AUTHOR’S NOTE* While this book is a part of a series, it can be read completely as a STANDALONE.

Excerpt #2

A gust of wind blew sheets of rain against the side of the building.

“I’d like to make a push in the next few weeks,” said Sam. “Instead of three days a week, we’ll be doing four. It’s going to be nasty work. Do you think you’ll be up to it?”

“No problem. Whatever you need.”

Without thinking, Sam ran his fingers through her ponytail. Her hair was silky, heavy, and slightly damp from her shower. He stroked her hair for a few seconds before he realized what he was doing. At once, he withdrew his hand.

“I’m sorry,” he said, his voice rough. “My mind was somewhere else.”

Her smile was gentle. “Don’t worry about it.” She stood up and stretched. “I’m gonna change and get out of here so you can get some sleep.”

“Hell no,” he said. “It’s pissing rain.”

“It’s not that bad―”

“No way. No how.”

“But―”

“Don’t make me use my captain voice on you,” he said. When she looked at him, something flashed in her eyes. Did she like it when he told her what to do?

“Fine,” she said with mock indignation. She went over to the closet where he kept the spare pillow and blanket.

He got to his feet and put his hand on the closet door, preventing her from opening it. “We’re past this. It’s cold downstairs. Just take the bed.”

“What about you?” Her eyes were wide.

“Oh, I’m taking the bed, too.”

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I read this book before Hollywood Honkytonk and this is a new to me author, too.  If you read the review above, first, you might not think that I liked this book.  I truly did like the book.  Sam was an awesome hero and Eve is a joy.  But here is some of things that I like and didn’t like about Deep Down.

  1.  Sam (Hero) – Loved him.  Torn between the party boy in him, finally deciding the grow up and then realizing that Kyle isn’t what he needs around him anymore.  Great character depth, even though he didn’t think he was worth much.
  2.  Eve (heroine) – Wow, what a character.  She had been through enough in her life and not having anyone in her corner, she never let it get her down.  All she wanted was to be a chef.  Romance is the last thing on her mind.
  3. Secondary characters – OMG!  Tiffani, Tiffani, Tiffani.  That girl needs her own book.  I missed her when she wasn’t around.  She was the perfect friend for Eve.  Kyle was a douche.  That is all.  Oh and Judith and Charlie.  *sniff*
  4. The dialogue between Sam and Eve is great.  Sexy, snarky and honest.  I really felt the connection between them.  It is a very slow build to their romance.  Once it starts, though, there is no stopping.  In fact, I think it was too fast in some parts.  I love a good erotic story.  Ms. Hopkins writes exception erotic but at times I felt like it wasn’t needed.  I wanted more emotion from Sam.  Sometimes, the kink (very light) got in the way of a more emotional connection that I was craving from him.  The emotional connection from Eve is there from the start and that’s what broke my heart.

Overall, I really did like Sam and Eve.  The pacing is a bit slow in the beginning but once it picks up, it doesn’t let you go.  Ms. Hopkins can write a hot book with characters that you really can root for.

 

ABOUT MIA HOPKINS

Mia Hopkins writes lush romances starring fun, sexy characters who love to get down and dirty. She’s a sucker for working class heroes, brainy heroines and wisecracking best friends. When she’s not lost in a story, Mia spends her time cooking, gardening, traveling, volunteering and looking for her keys. In a past life, she was a classroom teacher and still has a pretty good “teacher voice” and “teacher stare.” She lives in the heart of Los Angeles with her roguish husband and two waggish dogs.

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#Review, Excerpt and Playlist for The Highlander Who Loved Me (Highland Hearts #1) by Tara Kingston w/a rafflecopter giveaway! @tarakingston115

The Highlander Who Loved Me

by Tara Kingston
Highland Hearts #1
Publication Date: December 12, 2016
Genres: Adult, Entangled: Select, Historical Romance

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Synopsis: He may be her fiercest ally…or a scoundrel waiting to betray her.Johanna Templeton is on a life-and-death quest. Swept into an intrigue that rivals the tales she pens, she joins forces with a Highland rogue to find the treasure that will save her kidnapped niece—a prize the Scot seeks for reasons that have nothing to do with ransom. Engaging the Highlander in a sizzling battle of the sexes, Johanna shields her heart.

Connor MacMasters, spy for Queen Victoria, is a man on a mission—keep a legendary gemstone from an evil man. Trailing an American novelist who holds the key to the treasure should’ve been simple, but Johanna awakens feelings he’d long thought dead. Torn between duty and desire, he wants her in his bed, but loving her would be a fool’s game. Blasted shame his heart doesn’t agree.

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EXCERPT #2:

“Will you please get dressed?”

Her breath caught as he reached for a length of plaid that lay carelessly strewn over a quilt rack.

“As ye wish.” With a bold wink, he wrapped the fabric around the lower half of his body.

“That’s better.” The words burst from Johanna. Suddenly, she could breathe again.

He leaned back, and his gaze sauntered over her. The heat in his eyes, nearly a physical touch, warmed her. Once again, her defiant heart beat a wild dance. Definitely not a waltz. No, this was a tarantella. Exhilarating. Thrilling. Utterly rebellious.

“Aye, ye are indeed a temptation. I’ve seldom seen a more appealing sight. Most women would don silk or satin or some ridiculous lacy get-up that left them half bare. But you…you, Miss Templeton…have chosen cotton from head to toe.”

“Oh, my.” Had the whisper actually made it past her lips? Mortification spiraled through her veins. She’d forgotten the matronly nightdress she wore.

“Ye’ve decided to maintain yer mystery.” The mischief in his eyes transformed into something far more dangerous, laced with desire and unspoken promise. He slipped his hands over her shoulders. The low rumble of his voice stirred a deep, languorous need deep within. “I like it.”

He was teasing her. Of that, she was quite certain. He was no fool. Surely he knew the truth of her purpose in his chamber.

But that did not dilute the power of his attraction, the magnetic pull of the hunger in those penetrating green eyes. She did not pull away. In truth, Johanna doubted she could’ve willed herself to reject his gentle touch. The beat of her heart punctuated each moment of contact.

He drew her close. His arms encircled her, and he pressed her to his body, to the hard length beneath the plaid that betrayed his most primal need. The flicker of amusement in his gaze had transformed into a far deeper emotion, a yearning that transcended the hunger of the flesh.

“Ah, ye are a bonny lass.” With one hand, he smoothed tendrils of hair behind her ear. “A temptation too sweet to resist.”

The heat of his body seared her. She should push him away. Really, she should. But some rebellious instinct deep within demanded she savor this moment. She’d never been in the arms of a man such as Connor MacMasters. Never luxuriated in the intoxicating essence of a vital, powerful male in his prime.

Never allowed herself to be swept away.

His mouth brushed her cheek. Skimmed her flesh with the gentlest of touches, with a seductive lack of haste, as if he drank in every moment of contact. Roaring currents of desire drowned out the feeble protests of her logical mind.

“I know what ye want, Johanna.” His words were a raw whisper. Ragged. Her name on his lips unfurled a deeper longing.

“How can you know?” she whispered. “I don’t understand myself.”

“I know what’s brought ye here…why ye’re in my arms tonight.” His warm breath tickled the curve of her jaw. He pressed a kiss to the tender spot at the base of her throat where her pulse throbbed. Pleasure raced through her veins, and she wanted more.

More of his touch. More of his kiss. More of him.

 

Tara Kingston’s Playlist for The Highlander Who Loved Me

  1.   Make You Feel My Love — Adele
  2.   Something — The Beatles
  3.   Open Your Heart — Madonna
  4.   Breathe — Faith Hill
  5.   Stay With Me — Sam Smith
  6.   Take My Breath Away — Berlin
  7.   Maybe I’m Amazed — Paul McCartney
  8.   Love Me Like You Do — Ellie Goulding
  9.   Skyfall — Adele
  10.  Unconditionally — Katy Perry
  11.  Nobody Does It Better — Carly Simon
  12.  Kiss Me — Ed Sheeran
  13.  I Choose You — Sara Bareilles

 

Oh my, my.  Victorian Romance?  Check.  Suspense/Mystery?  Check.  Scotland?  Check.  An American that is feisty, smart and thrown into a situation that she honestly thinks she can handle on her own?  Check.  A sexy Scot that I kept imagining NOT wearing a kilt?  Check.  That sexy Scot, Connor, can dirty talk to me anytime he wants?  Check.  Okay, maybe he didn’t dirty talk but he sure did know how to get Johanna’s motor running.  The smexy times were just awesome.

What was especially intriguing to me was the suspense/mystery element to the story.  Sure the romance was awesome and sexy but for me, it was how Connor and Johanna worked together to figure out the mystery, rescue her niece and all the while, falling in love.  The pacing of the story is great.  I don’t like a slow, historical romance.  I get bored and move on.  Ms. Kingston just kept the plot moving for me and having characters that I truly cared about and wanted together made it for me.

The secondary characters are a hoot.  I especially liked Connor’s family and I hope that his brothers get their own stories in the series.  Plus, now that know the musical playlist to this story…Ms. Kingston nailed it.  Just nailed it.  Beautiful music for a beautiful couple and story.  I normally don’t care about a playlist in a story.  I read in complete silence but this one touched me.  It is one of those details that some authors fail in.  She did her homework and I can’t wait to read more from her.

Overall, I highly recommend this story to anyone.  Oh yes, anyone.  It’s that good.

ABOUT TARA KINGSTON

Award-winning author Tara Kingston writes romance laced with intrigue, danger, and adventures of the heart. A Southern Navy brat transplanted to a quaint Pennsylvania town, she lives her own love story with her real-life hero in a cozy Victorian. The mother of two sons, Tara’s a former librarian whose love of books is evident in her popping-at-the-seams bookcases and collection of unusual bookmarks. It goes without saying that Tara’s husband is thankful for the invention of digital books, thereby eliminating the need for yet another bookcase.

When she’s not writing, reading, or burning dinner, Tara enjoys cycling, hiking, and cheering on her favorite football team. Learn more about Tara at www.tarakingston.com.

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#ARC Review of Love’s Undertow (For a Song #1) by Lorraine Britt w/a rafflecopter giveaway! @LBrittAuthor

Title: Love’s Undertow
Series: For A Song #1
Author: Lorraine Britt
Genre: Adult, Contemporary/Musical Romance
Published: November 10, 2016
After surviving her darkest hour, it was time for Noelle Thibodeaux to shake off the cobwebs of her previous life. She’d spent the last year as a glorified travel agent for the band her cousin managed, Eton Mess. Now Nile Thomas, the band’s frontman, is in dire need of a personal assistant. He can think of no one better than Noelle for the job. When her cousin calls and offers her the job, she jumps at the chance to pack her bags and make a fresh start.

Nile is impressed with how easily Noelle slips into her role, managing everything for him. But his tortured artist persona wears on her fragile and frayed emotions and their working relationship is less than ideal. Only once the rest of Eton Mess arrives on location, and Noelle instantly bonds with band member Nate Bridges, do things begin to look up for Noelle. Nile, however, is far from approving of their new found friendship and his displeasure hasn’t gone unnoticed. Noelle will do anything to prevent a rift in the band or damage to Nate’s friendship with Nile. The only thing she knows to do is put up walls and pull away.

Will Nate stand up and fight for Noelle? Can Noelle fight the darkness that threatens to swallow her whole? Or will their love be forever drowned by the undertow?

I nodded and focused my attention past Michael and Zach. When my eyes reached their target I felt everything around me disappear, except for the beautiful creature in front of me. He was tall and sinewy, broad shouldered with the chiseled body of a swimmer. His light brown hair hung in soft, shaggy waves just past his ears. I took in the kindness and gentleness of his face. He had the most stunningly beautiful eyes that were the blue of the ocean with a thin layer of brown circling the pupil. I could dive in and get lost in them. I felt drawn to him. I stepped away from Ross’s side and moved toward him, not missing that he began to move towards me as well. He reached a hand out to me and as I took his I felt an electric current shoot up my arm and through my body. I looked up at him in shock and knew from the look on his face that he had felt the same connection.

review

I have a few things to admit about this book.  First, I don’t read books with rock stars.  Yes, I’ve been a couple of friends that were in bands.  It’s not pretty.  Second, this book is extremely long and by 48% into I almost gave up.  Yes, gave up.  It seemed to drag on and on.  I hung in there and I’m glad that I did.  Third,  at times I felt like the book repeated things and I almost gave up.  Again, I’m glad that I didn’t.

Overall, I really liked the book.  I’m so invested in these characters that I can’t wait to read the next installment.  Speaking of which, they are A LOT of characters.  For me though, the story is about Noelle, Nate and Nile.  This is their journey through friendship, love, disappointment and redemption.  I wish I was the reviewer that gave out spoilers but I’m not.

I really felt like that even with all the secondary characters in the book enhance the relationships that occur between Nile, Nate and Noelle.  Fear not, this is not a love triangle at all.  Nate and Nile are best friends.  Noelle is Nile’s PA and falls in love with Nate.  This book is their journey.  Some parts are hard to read but realistically done.  The last 1/4 of the book, I just held my breath.  I cried.  Like, ugly cried over what Ms. Britt wrote.  (I don’t ugly cry in books.)  It left me breathless, grieving but also hopeful.

You really need to give this book a chance.  Just remember that there are a lot of characters, some parts (the middle) dragged a bit but the last 1/4 of the book is so worth it in the end.  I can’t wait to visit them again…and soon!

5harlies

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Lorraine Britt is a fourth-generation Native Texan who is also immensely proud of her Louisiana heritage and solid Southern roots. As an enthusiastic lover of the written word, inspiration struck Lorraine and she began to bubble over with her own ideas. Grasping hold of her lifelong dreams, it wasn’t long before she was putting pen to paper and letting her fingers fly over a keyboard to bring her own characters to life. When she isn’t busy scribbling notes for her next idea you might find her whipping up delicious creations in the kitchen, putting miles on her car on road trip adventures, or snapping photos of her favorite rugby team on the pitch. Lorraine is equally passionate about music, movies and sports. You’ll no doubt find these familiar themes woven throughout her books. Lorraine and her family currently make their home in west Texas.
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