Category Archives: Contemporary Romance

Braking Hard – Gloria Joynt-Lang

Contemporary romance with imperfectly perfect hero and lots of humor

Rating: 5 out of 5.

As a female mechanic, Eden suffered way too much sexual harassment until she was hired by Gage. Gage has his own troubles keeping his garage running with a wandering mind, the fidgets, and the stress of his business partner and mentor just dying. Hiring Eden helps, and Gage would like to be more than her boss, but he would never want to make her uncomfortable.

This was fast paced, engaging, and funny, with a writing style I appreciated. A fantastic job of “show not tell” is done throughout. I loved that we don’t get a label put on Gage’s psychological struggles until midway through, so much so that I don’t want to put the label in this review. When we label something, we often dismiss it and discount the unique experiences of those who suffer with it. The great descriptions and metaphors used allowed me to laugh at and empathize with Gage’s thoughts.

I loved all the characters in this, main and secondary. My absolute favorite is Aunt Iris. She doesn’t get much screen time, but I want to invite her for a long stay and might keep her. She’s hilariously unfiltered and reminds me of my mother who had to make sure she was wearing Depends before I came over for a chat because we made each other laugh so much. I laughed often throughout this book, which nicely balanced the serious parts.

Eden is a strong woman, confident in herself and her abilities. She was reluctant to get into a relationship with her boss. Of course I wanted them to get together, but her reasons were sound, logical. I wasn’t irritated with her or thinking she was stupid. Gage is honorable, hot, cute, and funny. They both grow along the way. The secondary characters add lots of spice to this stew. I appreciated how developed they all were with strengths and flaws. No one was one dimensional.

I don’t know much about cars, but I didn’t have to. Both of them being mechanics and the background of the garage added flavor but didn’t leave me confused. At one point, Gage laments that, “…mechanics never topped the list of women’s fantasies.” True, they didn’t rank in mine, but the ones that have worked on my cars have looked nothing like Gage! Having a hot man who can always fix my car sounds very appealing now that I think about it.

3rd person past tense from alternating main characters. Graphic sex scene (just one, so not a big part of this novel). No cheating or OW/OM drama. Occasional mild foul language.

Grammar – the author fixed the errors I pointed out.

I highly recommend this and would read it again in the future, so 5 stars!

Favorite quotes:

Gage: (After coming home with a dog when he was supposed to pick up a car part.) …he hoped he’d never stray so bad that he’d end up at a nearby farm purchasing a llama. But even if fate doomed him to seek out llamas, he’d probably load up a Jersey cow instead.

Eden: An elderly man even struck up a conversation while she selected feminine hygiene products at the pharmacy. Most men would avoid stopping in front of the tampon display but not this guy. Midway through the conversation, she thought about heading to the condom aisle to see if he would follow but decided against it. She doubted he’d gossip about her selection of tampons with plastic applicators, but he might start a rumor if she lured him near the prophylactics.

Apparently, the lonely senior made a 911 call when faced with the insurmountable challenge of opening a jar of pickled beets. The police attended to the matter, broke the seal, and left with one of her delicious apple pies.

Telling an anxious person to relax was akin to cleaning a cat by shoving it under the kitchen tap.

Being annoyed with Gage O’Neill was the equivalent of shaming a puppy for jumping on your lap.

Gage: “Aunt Iris is brutal. […] She’s beyond horrible. At my sister’s wedding, she tried pairing me with this long-haired blonde sitting across the room. […] And just so you know, hair color wasn’t the issue. I objected because the blonde at the wedding was a dude.”

Gage: “There are two times a man should do this.” He rose from his chair, shook his head and lowered himself to his knees. “And one of them is when he’s scared of his eighty-three-year-old great aunt. Please, I’ll buy you whatever dress you want. I’ll even toss in a pair of shoes. Just come to this wedding with me.”

Aunt Iris: “Maybe if you went up to Lotus Point with my handsome grandnephew, you’d toss away this friendship nonsense.”

Aunt Iris: “Getting married on the beach. A bikini and a veil. It’s utter nonsense. I hate boring weddings but if I wanted to see a bride in her skivvies, I’d go to a strip club.”

I received a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Broken Hero – Olivia Hayle

PTSD and Small-Town Gossip Threaten Contemporary Romance

Rating: 3 out of 5.

It’s a standard romance formula – a woman is cheated on and loses her job, so she moves home to a small town where she meets a great guy. The twists here are that he’s an ex-soldier with PTSD, and she’s a massage therapist dealing with the profession’s negative reputation- that sometimes massages come with “happy endings”.

It’s cute, sweet, and has some good laughs and steamy sex scenes. I liked the characters both main and secondary, especially their maturity. Misunderstandings were handled pretty quickly by talking them out. I loved the banter between them. They come out with some zingers. They aren’t perfect but grow with the story, working on their issues. PTSD is realistically shown as something that requires ongoing treatment and self-awareness. It has relapses with good and bad days, months, and years. This issue isn’t a major focus of the story but is part of the greater theme of self-acceptance and learning to ignore the haters in life.

Overall, I enjoyed this but was heavily distracted by grammar mistakes. I’d probably have given it a 4 but must knock it down to a 3 due to this.

1st person present tense with a few slips into past tense. Chapters from alternating main characters.

HEA, graphic sex scenes, no OW/OM drama, very little foul language.

Grammar: tons of missing commas mostly between two independent clauses, but they weren’t all missing. So it wasn’t a conscious style choice. Missing comma count: 150. Other error count: 36 – Wrong or missing punctuation marks. Missing, wrong, and misspelled words. Dialogue separated from action sequences which identified the speaker. Missing dialogue tags where needed, so I couldn’t tell who said some things. Mixed tenses.

Least Favorite Quote: “Mandy leans closer t me.” T with no O. It makes me 1) wonder if even Word’s simple grammar check was run and 2) want to cry.

I received a free copy of this book from BookSirens and am voluntarily leaving my honest review.

Crossing the Line – Joy Slaughter

Great EMS Romance

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Crossing the Line grabbed me and held on. It’s a story about building trust, not only with others but with yourself. With trust, comes love. It’s a romance between a man and a woman, but it’s also about both of them rebuilding themselves to be capable of giving and receiving love after life has broken them down.

The setting for this is the Emergency Medical Services, and it’s compelling. EMS is a completely new world for me, and I loved it. So you won’t need to know anything going in to enjoy it. It’s certainly not just for EMS workers or those who know them. My curiosity compelled me to Google several things, but it wasn’t necessary. It felt like reading science fiction or watching a medical drama, where I trust the characters know what they’re talking about or doing when I don’t. I found several things shocking, like the work hours. I found all of the little details interesting.

Both Megan and Nathan are complex, interesting characters. They have their strong and weak moments. They do good, bad, wise, and stupid things, and I liked them. I hated Todd and wanted to torture him slowly, so he’s a very good bad guy. The supporting characters provided flavor and were memorable, even a radiologist who only appears for a page (See? I remember her!)

The writing is very good, fast paced and entertaining throughout. We are shown instead of told. We don’t get a load of backstory at the start. Many things are slowly revealed with hints, like light slaps to the face, telling us something is not okay.

I liked the occupational slang and that it wasn’t dumbed down or explained to the reader, even if I didn’t understand it. It gave me that fly on the wall feeling of realism.

A staccato rhythm of thoughts and feelings, leaving sentence structure behind, is used to convey indescribable terror and pain in a very credible way. This is how the mind works, or doesn’t work, when we can’t deal.

I also laughed out loud many times. The humor is great at relieving tension, just as it is in life, and keeps this from being a depressing read. It made me sad, angry, hopeful, shocked, proud, amused – It made me feel!

Favorite quotes:

Past tense. 3rd person close to both Megan and Nathan but no head-hopping.

Sections are separated with time and place headings. I find this format difficult to follow at times, needing to flip back to see how much time passed.

Almost clean romance – no graphic sex scenes. What is shown is camera obscura or high-level lens.

No cheating or OW/OM drama.

Triggers: Verbal and physical abuse and rape, not graphically described. Some other violence and medical gore. Suicidal ideation.

Occasional foul language.

Grammar was great for most of this. I was reading an ARC and sent what I did find to the author. Fellow grammar curmudgeon’s need not beware.

Sort of HEA but definitely a satisfying ending. No cliffhanger.

Loved it. Would I want to read it again? Yes! So 5 stars. I highly recommend this!

Pursuit – Lynda Chance

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Hot! Jealous, protective, possessive alpha male but no pain (spanking, BDSM, etc)

Lynda Chance is one of my all-time favorite authors. There hasn’t been a Lynda Chance story that I haven’t loved, but this might be my favorite.

Lynda writes dominant alpha males, possessive, jealous, caveman instincts, but no pain (spanking, BDSM, etc.), no cheating ever, no OM/OW drama, no abuse (verbal, emotional, or physical). These men are only controlling in the bedroom, about safety issues, and about getting their woman. They don’t try to isolate or keep their women dependent on them financially.

Logan gets hit by the thunderbolt when he sees Lauren in a coffee shop, and he refuses to accept her rejection. He works at her with single-minded purpose to make her his!

Logan is an OTT alpha male that says and does everything right for me. Lauren is a strong woman who can handle him. I laughed out loud several times and like to re-read this every few years.

This one is SAFE. As in all her books, there is no cheating, OW/OM drama, or love triangle. This one doesn’t even have dubious consent or a virgin h. So I recommend it for everyone without reservation! I think this might be Lynda’s favorite too because she revisits this couple with three short stories. This novel is a standalone with a HEA. The shorts are slice of life, further adventures of, type stories.

Favorite Quotes:

“He’d have her, and sooner, rather than later, if he had his way about it. She was like the proverbial Little Red Riding Hood, taking one step too close to the Big, Bad Wolf.  And when she did, he’d have her. And that would be that.”

“He showed no signs of even being interested in other women. Like, she didn’t think he even registered that there were other women alive. Like there were no other women but her living on the planet.”

The only problem with grammar I found was missing commas between two independent clauses joined by a conjunction. It happened regularly but not consistently, making them mistakes rather than a style choice. Most readers may not even notice the issue.

The short stories are, in order:

  • Temptation in Texas Logan and Lauren
  • Temptation in Texas: A Christmas Special
  • Logan and Lauren: A Valentine’s Special

Trucker (The Good Guys) – Jamie Schlosser

So cute!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Travis picks Angel up when she starts to hitchhike across the country.

This was so frigging cute. It’s a light-hearted, feel-good read. I loved that both the leads are virgins. Travis’ horror date stories were hilarious. I laughed out loud several times while reading this.

The only thing I didn’t like was the OW drama. It was just another woman that wanted Travis, mean girl stuff, no touching at all between H and OW. Very cliche, but at least it was over quickly!

Angel was naive and far too trusting, but she’s very young (17/18). It’s nice to see that life hadn’t beaten that out of her already.

This is written in alternating 1st. I only found a few grammar mistakes in the whole book, just extra words. HEA.

Great quick read that I needed between heavier stuff!

The Sound – Sarah Alderson

Awesome, gripping, couldn’t stop reading to go to bed.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This is a complete story in one book. No cliffhanger!
It’s clean but has some steamy kisses.
I really loved it. It grabbed me from the start and I couldn’t stop. I read it all in one sitting, staying up all night to finish it. It was gripping and had me on the edge of my seat but it wasn’t depressing at all, which I love. I didn’t see the twists coming. I was thrilled that Jessie stopped Ren from having regrets – you’ll see what I mean. I was very satisfied with the ending. Overall, I absolutely loved this book and highly recommend it.