Category Archives: SAFE

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.

Captive of the Horde King (Horde Kings of Dakkar Book 1) – Zoey Draven

Nomadic tribal alien scifi erotic romance

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Luna’s brother brings the wrath of the Dakkari down on their little human village. Luna offers to serve the horde king that comes to punish them in exchange for her brother’s life. He accepts, and her life is changed forever.

This was a fast paced read with likable characters. Luna was strong, and I liked seeing her emotional growth along the way. The horde king was good and honorable. Lots of details like regularly used alien language and an alien version of horses made for great world-building. We don’t learn much about why humans are living on this planet as refugees, but I enjoyed the snippets of information I did get. The sex scenes were titillating but not scorching. The aliens were similar to humans but had tails and black and yellow eyes with no whites. They have a built-in, vibrating, clitoral stimulator, which had me laughing. Don’t all the best aliens have sex toy equipment?

The Dakkari instantly reminded me of the Dothraki in Game of Thrones. Those names are similar, they are a nomadic alien-horse-riding culture, and the men all have long hair. “Kalles” is their word for woman and the first the horde king calls Luna, which is close to khaleesi to me. It isn’t overwhelming, and there are plenty of differences, but I would guess the author is a fan.

I don’t want to give too much away, so how do I say this? The climactic action was too easy to foresee and cliché. But I was very happy that Luna fought for herself and didn’t just wait to be rescued by her man.

First person past tense, all from Luna. No cheating. No OW/OM drama. Several graphic sex scenes. The only foul language I noted was the occasional use of the F word when referring to sex. This is the first in a series of standalone novels. HFN.

Grammar: Error count 15 – wrong, missing, or misspelled words. Missing comma between two independent clauses, but it was consistent so accepted as style. Not terrible.

I enjoyed this and would read more books in the series. I don’t think I would read this one again, so 4 stars.

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.

Werewolf Cinderella – Amanda Milo

Cinderella done right! With the werewolves and laughter it always needed!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Fairytale retellings aren’t my thing, but when I saw this was about werewolves, was written by Amanda Milo, and turned the stepmother around, I one-clicked it and read it right away. No regrets! This was awesome! I’ve loved everything Amanda Milo has written. She has a great sense of humor and fast paced writing style that hits all the right notes for me.

This started off in a unique way, grabbing me and holding me with the second start. The young people’s sexual exploration was hilariously written. It’s so funny but probably accurate! Poor sheltered humans for centuries trying to figure sex out on their own without any information at all. Ugh! Amanda Milo really depicted this well!

I loved how the old fairytale was turned around like the mean stepmother and stepsisters. The references to other fairytales were also great. I promise, even if fairytales aren’t your thing either, you’ll love this!

SAFE, M/F, no cheating, no OM/OW drama, bit of violence, occasional foul language, HEA. First person present tense. Graphic sex scenes.

This was 98 pages – a quick read I read in a few hours.

Error count: 2 – Amazing!

Favorite Quotes:

“My heart is so easy for him. It flops beneath him like a besotted puppy, wanting all the belly rubs.”

“When questioned about my strange behaviors, I claimed I was suffering from an onset of menses madness. Evidently, everyone everywhere is willing to accept this as explanation enough for an eighteen-year-old lass like myself to change moods at the speed water rushes past in a brook.”

““Let me drive this pony,” Gareth orders hoarsely. “After all, I’ve handled this sword all my life. You’re liable to stab yourself.””

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!