Category Archives: SAFE

Wolf Hollow (Wolf Hollow Shifters Book 1) – Nikki Jefford

Paranormal shifter romance set in a post-apocalyptic world with unique shifter lore. Currently free on Amazon.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Blurb:

Breed or die off.

The future of Wolf Hollow is in the hands of their single shifters to claim mates and rebuild their pack after a devastating attack leaves them vulnerable.

Sasha is the only surviving female pureblooded wolf in her pack and feels the pressure to claim the pack’s only pureblooded male . . . until he runs off rather than claim her. The elders have chosen a new male for her with no concern for her feelings on the matter. None of her packmates appear to care who mates her, except for one.

An attraction that threatens the future of the pack…

Tabor, a hotheaded half-breed, is the hollow’s only wizard shifter. Constantly overlooked despite his strengths, Tabor believes Sasha is as shortsighted as the rest of the pack until she proves there’s more to her than a blindly obedient lapdog.

Unable to resist the proud and sensual pureblood, Tabor would risk everything to claim her.

Despite her vanishing bloodline, Sasha can’t resist the charismatic half-breed, even as the elders set her up to breed with another pureblood.

Predators are closing in, threatening to eliminate their pack permanently, and there are shifters within Wolf Hollow willing to do anything to prevent the pair from claiming one another.

It’s a savage, Mad Max kind of world where only the strongest survive. Meet the Wolf Hollow Shifters in Nikki Jefford’s dark and addictive dystopian romance series for adult readers.


Wolf Hollow has unique shifter lore I haven’t come across before. There are four different kinds of wolf shifters: pure-bloods who always lived in the wilderness; non-pure-bloods whose ancestors lived among humans and perhaps mated with them – I’m not clear on that point; werewolves who shift into the monster form we’ve seen in movies; and half-breeds who are a mix of wolf shifter and another magical race – the only one we know of is wizards.

This shifter world does not have fated mates. They choose their mates just like humans do. And they can cheat, having sex with other people than their “mate”, which I don’t like. Both male and female claim each other with a bite to the neck, but it doesn’t have to be during sex (as I often see).

“Wolf shifters, in both animal and human form, could only become pregnant during the full moon. The closer to the exact second, the better their chances.”

“Once a female shifter reached her second trimester, her body became incapable of shifting into wolf form until after she gave birth. With pure-blooded native wolf shifters, the opposite was true. When two purebloods mated, the female was stuck in wolf form the moment she became pregnant until she gave birth. Purebloods were considered the strongest wolf shifters in existence, but they were a dying breed.”

I loved Sasha. She is strong, fierce, and honorable. Tabor is the same but fighting against the prejudice and exclusion of his pack growing up. They both grow throughout the novel.

This was a fast paced read with a lot of action and emotion. I only found one error in this novel, so it is extremely well edited. I’m eager to read more in this series.

There are a few sex scenes, but they aren’t detailed.

SAFE – no Other People drama, cheating, or abuse.

3rd person past tense from Sasha and Tabor.

293 pages. Currently free on Amazon. There are 4 more in the series, $3.99 each.



Her Reluctant Rancher (Return to Stone Creek Book 1) – Anne Marie Novark

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Sweet western contemporary romance – Currently free on Amazon

Blurb:

Trevor Callahan’s grandfather is dead. As a kid, living with the stern old man had been a pure living hell. Trev returns to Stone Creek for one reason and one reason only: To sell the Rocking C Ranch. Maybe then he can put his past behind him and move on.

Beth Evans once confused lust for love and vows never to let it happen again. The bookmobile driver is trying to raise funds to build a new library. The late Hank Callahan bequeathed one million dollars for the project, but he attached one stipulation: Do not let his grandson sell the ranch.

HER RELUCTANT RANCHER

Contemporary Western Romance Novel

65,000 words/204 pp

Heat Index: Hot and Steamy

Listed on Amazon as 301 pages.

Currently free – May 2021


Beth is 24, so Trevor is 36.

Beth has a 5-year-old daughter.

Several detailed sex scenes, but they aren’t truly graphic. Sensual language is used (I wouldn’t call it flowery) instead of slang for body parts. The F word is never used.

It’s sweet, a good, fast-paced read. The characters are likeable. Both Trevor and Beth grow emotionally, which they have to do to really let someone in. HEA. SAFE. Very good grammar.

3rd person past tense from Trevor and Beth.

Head-hopping within the same chapter/section.

Errors: 9


Going Too Far – Jennifer Echols

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A delinquent and a young police officer – clean romance

Blurb:

HOW FAR WOULD YOU GO?

All Meg has ever wanted is to get away. Away from high school. Away from her backwater town. Away from her parents who seem determined to keep her imprisoned in their dead-end lives. But one crazy evening involving a dare and forbidden railroad tracks, she goes way too far…and almost doesn’t make it back.

John made a choice to stay. To enforce the rules. To serve and protect. He has nothing but contempt for what he sees as childish rebellion, and he wants to teach Meg a lesson she won’t soon forget. But Meg pushes him to the limit by questioning everything he learned at the police academy. And when he pushes back, demanding to know why she won’t be tied down, they will drive each other to the edge — and over….


This is about two teenagers 17/19 who face fears, grow, and heal. It’s clean – there is only making out on camera. It’s funny, sweet, and has a great, dramatic story. It is very well written and fast paced. I read it all in one go. 5 stars – this is the second time I have read it.

The book ends at 75%. The last 25% is a sneak peek at two other novels.

1st person past tense all from Meg.

Errors: 10


Favorite Quote:

I didn’t quite dare, because I didn’t want him to tell me no. But I got very close to touching The Place Prisoners Should Not Touch Policemen.


Triple Play: A Sports Reverse Harem Romance – Cassie Cole

Baseball reverse harem romance

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Natalie is hired on as the assistant pitching coach for a major league baseball team. Raphael and Joel are pitchers. Darryl plays first base and is a star hitter.

I actually like baseball, so this was much more my speed. The many baseball details and the suspense in the game descriptions were terrific. It was a great story about baseball as well as a romance. The sex scenes were hot, and there was a good amount of humor in this.

The only thing I didn’t like was how quickly Natalie fell into bed with Raphael. This happens early on, so it’s not a spoiler. It felt like a cheesy porno set up like the hot guy delivering a pizza and suddenly they are having sex. I wasn’t a fan. I definitely wanted more chemistry in their interactions and getting to know one another before they had sex. But the novel got much better from there!

There is a cute little bonus epilogue chapter online set 15 years later.

SAFE – no cheating, Other People drama, love triangles, or non or dubious consent.

Graphic sex scenes both one-on-one and group. No touching between the men.

Occasional foul language.

1st person past tense from Natalie and all three guys.

There are some unnecessary dialogue tags, but not so many as to detract from the pacing.

Alright is not a word, it’s all right. Mom/Dad should be capitalized like a proper name. Aside from that, I only found 8 errors, so this is very well edited.

The Good Guys series – Jamie Schlosser

If you need a break from overused cliches, angst, evil villains, or tearjerkers, dip into this series!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I read the first book, Trucker, a long time ago. I remember at the time thinking I would save these for when I needed a break from angst and difficult reads. I really needed that break after The Sainthood series! I’d been in gangland with murder and raunchy sex for too long. I needed something nice and sweet. So I binged the rest of the series. It was just what I needed. They are all so cute! I had plenty of laugh out loud moments.

They are feel-good reads without being over the top or sugary. They are like real vanilla, not the cheap imitation stuff, with deep notes of true flavor. When I’ve been having a lot of Rocky Road and other complicated or sour flavors, it’s just so refreshing to savor something so genuine and real. If you need a break from overused cliches, angst, evil villains, or tearjerkers, dip into this series!

They are all SAFE – NO: cheating, sex scenes with Other People, love triangles, abuse, non or dubious consent, or cliffhangers! They do contain occasional foul language and graphic sex scenes, which are very hot. These are emotional. People make love in these books.

I especially love that the author turns cliches around. A familiar situation comes up, but the characters react to it in a different, usually saner, way.

Each book is written in 1st person past tense with about half the chapters from each of the two main characters.

They are all very well edited. I only found a few errors in each.

Alright is not a word! It’s all right. I swear!


1. Trucker

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.


2. Dancer

Brielle “Ellie” and Colton were best friends as children until Colton moved away when they were seven years old. Now in their early twenties, Brielle is a cage dancer in a nightclub. Her clothes stay on. She is a single mother, having gotten pregnant as a senior in high school. We met Colton in Trucker. He is Travis’ roommate and also a mechanic like Travis. Colton has been having erectile dysfunction, performance anxiety. But that magically clears up when he sees a certain cage dancer performing, and he has to meet her.

They aren’t virgins in this one, but they haven’t been promiscuous either.

Colton’s autocorrect texts are hilarious! I’ve been to webpages that list these things and laughed so much, so it’s like having one of those sprinkled throughout. He talked about wanting to get his phone fixed, and I yelled, “No! No fixing Colton’s phone!” And Brielle’s kid is fabulously funny as well.


Favorite Quotes:

“Did you ever think maybe you just didn’t like her? I mean, maybe your dick knew better than you,” he joked, making light of the situation.


Me: My dad is a nympho gopher.

Travis: Hahaha.

Me: Dammit! A nosy gossip.


Me: Where spank tits tomorrow?

Ellie: Are you talking dirty to me?


Unfortunately, I got mixed results. Apparently when your internet search contains ‘giant balls’ you need to be prepared for anything.


3. Dropout

Mackenna is a reclusive song writer who recently moved next door to Beverly, the fantastic old lady that we first met in Trucker. Beverly is Jimmy’s grandmother. He moves in with her for the summer after failing his first year of college.

If I have to choose, this is my favorite. There is so much humor in this. We have Beverly, where all my favorite quotes below come from. Then there is Sweet Pea, the cussing parrot who poops everywhere. And finally we have Jimmy himself with his tightie camouflage underwear.

Mackenna had an abusive boyfriend in high school and stayed away from men after that. She isn’t interested in dating anyone, but Jimmy is hard to resist. I loved how their relationship slowly progressed, starting with just holding hands. It was very realistic and just what Mackenna needed. So sweet!


Favorite Quotes:

Beverly Louise Johnson was the coolest motherfucking lady in the entire world. She was brutally honest, didn’t take anyone’s crap, and swore like a sailor. On more than one occasion, my parents had said they thought I inherited my wild streak from her.


“Rule number two,” she continued. “No hanky panky in the hot tub. I’ve never broken that rule and neither will you.”

I made a face. “Grandma. No offense, but gross.”


“Well I’ll be damned, Jimmy,” she said, looking misty-eyed. Then she motioned toward my chest again. “What about the piercings? Did that hurt?” Looking down at her housecoat, she added, “Maybe I should get some.”

A rude sound escaped at the awful suggestion. “Grandma… no. God, no.”

“Seriously. I think Ernie might like it.”

Mortified, I ran a hand over my face. “Please stop talking.”


Jimmy, I’m shacking up at Ernie’s for the night. Be nice to Sweet Pea and give him a peanut. There’s a bag in the pantry. P.S. Don’t you dare tease me about doing the walk of shame in the morning. -Grandma


4. Outcast

Ezra is Jimmy’s little brother, whom we met in Dropout, and Kayla is his classmate. The story starts at the end of their senior year in high school. Ezra is a little overweight and walks with a limp. He has been bullied and teased his entire life. Kayla is very interestingly mixed race and always gets asked, “What are you?” It turns out they have both been crushing on each other for a long time.

They are both virgins in this.

I loved Ezra’s service dog, Pierre. He wasn’t comic relief. He’s a very serious fellow with a job to do! There is still a lot of humor in this. Kayla was adopted by a gay couple, and they are hilarious.


Favorite Quote:

Clearly, she’d been both afraid and impressed by my size. I knew I wasn’t small down there. It wasn’t something I ever flaunted, because my dick wasn’t anyone’s business. Except Kayla’s. It could be her business anytime she wanted it to be.


5. Magic Man

We met Jay and Casey briefly in Dropout. Casey was 16 and knocked up by Mackenna’s psycho ex. Jay got busted for meth dealing that night of the fight. Jay is just recently out of jail and doesn’t think he is worthy of Casey and her son, Gus. Casey is an adult now and concentrating on taking care of her son.

This one had more angst and sadness in it but not too much. It’s not a tearjerker. Still a feel-good story with a HEA. We have a case of a character being an idiot, but it at least it didn’t go on too long, and there was no cheating or OP involved.

Gus was a very cute and funny toddler. I loved that they let him play with jewelry and wear princess dresses since that’s what he wanted. They didn’t judge or worry, even in their thoughts. Kids want they want, and it doesn’t have to be traditionally gender-assigned toys and clothes. Gus might change his tastes as he gets older, and he might not. Either is fine. He might grow up to up be straight, gay, or anything in between, and all of that is fine. They are letting him be who he is and not worrying about it, which is very refreshing in a novel.


Favorite Quotes:

I had a lot of nicknames for my little dude. Buddy. Bud. Bubbie goo. Mister buddy goo goobie goo man. Sometimes I got a little obnoxious with it—I even had made-up theme songs just for him.

Jay: Not having anything to contribute to a conversation about birthing large objects, I stuffed my hands in my pockets while they went into some of the nitty gritty details of labor.

“I brought you a funnel cake,” he announced, clearly pleased with himself. As he should be. If I hadn’t already been planning to jump his bones, I certainly would’ve been now.


Clearwater University: The Complete Series: An Enemies-to-Lovers Romance – Eva Ashwood

Reverse harem doesn’t occur to them for quite a while!

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Emma became best friends with three boys her sophomore year of high school. In her junior year, they turned on her and became her bullies. She and her father moved away but are back in town two years later. Emma starts college, and her tormentors are there and still hating her.

This one was different for several reasons:

1. The hate part of this hate to love goes on for quite a while, well into the second book. I’m more accustomed to the hate part ending much sooner, so that was a twist. And we still get sex scenes while the hate is still strong. So if you like hate sex, you’ll enjoy this.

2. The reverse harem or menage relationship idea doesn’t occur to the group for quite a while. In most of these, the characters are aware of the possibility from the start. Sometimes they know people in poly relationships. Sometimes at least one of the characters has read books like we are reading right now. But in Clearwater, they don’t realize it is a thing for quite a while and then don’t think it would work because –

3. The guys are competitive, jealous, and angry at each other for most of this. They have been best friends forever, but their relationship has been beaten down by what they have done to Emma. Most of the time, the guys are a team from the start. So I liked they we got some unusual twists here!

The writing was very good. It is long with the three novels together, but it was fast paced. I liked the characters, that the guys all had distinct personalities, and that they all grew over the course of the story.

I didn’t like that Trent’s reason for turning on Emma is immature. We know what it is early on, so I don’t think this is a spoiler. Trent thinks Emma told his father that they saw Trent’s mom kissing Emma’s dad. And this results in his parents getting divorced. By the time I was 16/17, I knew that marriages are complicated, and cheating is a symptom of greater issues. Trent’s anger at this small thing, even if true, seemed like an 8-10 year old’s perspective. And then, he gets even angrier when he finds out that Emma introduced his mother to her father at a school event. Why hadn’t Emma and the guys all introduced their parents around when they were still friends in high school? It seems very weird that their parents would let them hang out so much and be best friends without ever meeting their parents. We only see Emma’s dad and Trent’s mom, but they don’t seem like disconnected, neglectful parents. These are the type of parents that I believe would have insisted on meeting the parents of their kid’s friends. Even if not, they are treating the introduction of their parents as something unusual. Especially when the parents are at the same school event, you just would introduce them. So I had a difficult time suspending disbelief for this.

Another complaint I have is more difficult to talk about without spoilers. It’s the total 180 of a character that came out of nowhere. It felt like we didn’t get any lead in to this, like we suddenly need a villain, so we’ll change this character completely. I would have preferred more detail on the character and on their past actions, which would make this turnaround more natural and believable.

Because of these two things, I can only give this three stars. But if they won’t bother you as much as they did me, and you mostly want the hot sex scenes, you may enjoy this more than I did.

Contains many graphic sex scenes. Some are one-on-one and some are group. There is no cheating, scenes with Other People, or Other People drama. There is no non or dubious consent. So this is SAFE. No trigger warnings. Contains foul language. It is well edited. I found 5 little errors.

Broken In: A Cowboy Reverse Harem Romance – Cassie Cole

Contemporary western reverse harem romance

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Cindy just inherited a broken-down ranch. Three brothers just lost their jobs as ranch hands. They all come together to meet each other’s needs.

This was a hot, quick read. It was entertaining, not too long, and didn’t have too much angst. It’s a nice spicy read when you just want to relax. It’s not fantastic or particularly memorable, so I can only give it three stars. But this is perfect when I just want a break from angst, drama, and serious feelings.

Cindy is a strong, independent, and sexually confident woman. The three guys are different enough for my tastes. I don’t like when they are just clones of each other, so I was happy. The story is good enough to keep it going. It didn’t just feel like word porn. I don’t want to give anything away, but I was disappointed not to learn exactly what consequences a villain got in the end. Did they go to jail? Have to pay a lot of monetary damages? We just don’t know.

There is no Other People drama, no cheating, and no slut shaming. So this is SAFE.

1st person past tense from Cindy and the guys.

There were many unnecessary dialogue tags, but they didn’t distract me too much. Mom, Momma, Dad, and so on should be capitalized when not my mom, her mom, etc. like it is a proper name, and that doesn’t happen here. Little things like this grab my attention away. Beyond this, I found 11 other errors – quotation mark issues and missing words mostly. Not too bad.


Favorite Quote:

Once everything was sorted, I pulled out my laptop and opened up Excel. Without internet I couldn’t connect to my cloud storage; I had to save the file locally, like a peasant.


Full Contact: A College Reverse Harem Romance – Cassie Cole

College RH with three hot football players

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Let me begin by saying, “I hate football.” For me, it’s associated with the men in my family screaming at the TV. I’ve always hated conflict and raised voices, so this made me cringe. It also broke my concentration when I was trying to read! I was dragged to football games because my parents didn’t want to get a babysitter, so I sat in the stands reading and hating all the rude noise around me. But with all that, I still loved this novel!

I read a paramedic romance last year and knew nothing about that world and loved that novel too. See Crossing The Line. This felt a lot like that. I didn’t understand the football jargon, trusted the author knew what she was talking about, and just moved past it. It added to the realism and didn’t bore me. I think football fans will enjoy it immensely.

The writing was great, aside from unnecessary dialogue tags. It was fast paced with a lot of story. So this isn’t just erotica. But the sex scenes were very hot. This is also SAFE – no cheating, no Other People problems at all, which was very nice. There was no slut-shaming or villain girls! Overall, I highly recommend this if you like reverse harem / menage romances. It’s a plus if you like football, but it isn’t necessary that you do.

1st person past tense from Roberta and the three guys.

This is well edited. I found 10 errors. There are also some unnecessary dialogue tags, but there weren’t enough to bother me.



Favorite Quotes:

The outline of his huge cock slid against his shorts, falling across to rest against his other thigh. I got the impression it wasn’t fully hard, but it was thick. Like a damn extra-large stick of Toblerone chocolate.

Aly made an annoyed noise. “Do you have to talk about football? I’m trying to enjoy all these hunks in tight pants.”

“Oh, sorry. Didn’t mean to interrupt what really matters.”

Feña was wearing a Ralph Lauren polo shirt, and his dark curls looked like they’d been freshly washed. But below the waist he wore baggy basketball shorts and a pair of gym sneakers. It was a hilarious juxtaposition of styles. Attractive college boy on top, and lazy athlete on the bottom. Like a fashion mullet.

I could see why women loved dating bikers. It was like riding around on a big vibrator.



All Saints High Series – L. J. Shen

The All Saints High books are about the kids of the people in Shen’s Sinners of Saint series. I found them when I was looking for dark high school romances. I haven’t read the parent’s series but went ahead with these. It’s a mood thing. These all had crazy amounts of reviews, mostly 5 star, and are tip top ranked on Amazon. All of these books are written in 1st person present tense with chapters from the two main characters. They each have a couple of chapters from the parents of one of the main characters, which I loved.

Pretty Reckless (Book 1)

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I’m so glad the first book was as good as all the reviews and rankings said it would be. It’s actually SAFE, which I was surprised by, but it’s true. And the editing was amazing. I found so few errors in this! 4 since I always say. What a pleasure to read. In all these books, the bitchy banter is very amusing, there is a lot of great humor, and the sex scenes are hot.

When I was about 12 and started keeping a diary, my mom told me I shouldn’t write anything down that I didn’t want my grandmother reading in a newspaper. This is what code that can only make sense to you is for if you can’t stop yourself. I think everyone should pass on this wisdom to their children!


Favorite Quotes:

Daria: The only way I could protect myself from the fire was by creating a bigger blaze. If they thought I was untouchable, they’d fear me instead of taunt me. If they thought the hard-nosed principal had my back—or had me on my back, for that matter—I would not be messed with. So I nurtured the rumors, made them grow, gave them wings, and let them fly, like butterflies from a Mason jar.

Penn: I need to make sure that Daria is a hobby, not an addiction. Adolescent hearts are trash and as loyal as a starving stray cat. They’ll take anything. Even scraps. I don’t want to feed my rusty tin heart junk. And Daria, she stomped on it hard enough for me to know she’s not even a greasy burger. She’s a Pop-Tarts covered in cyanide.

Daria: High school is an aquarium full of sharks. People are always broiling with the need to burst free. Only the strong survive.

Penn: A perceptive little thing, she is. I don’t think people give Daria the credit she deserves. She could’ve found Bin Laden in a week had she been given enough Red Bull and good internet service.


Broken Knight (Book 2)

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I was hating this for a long time. I mean it’s beautifully written, but it is one hell of a tearjerker! It reminded me of Present Perfect by Alison Bailey, which kept knocking me over the head with tragic events. I read that in December 2013 (I keep a spreadsheet) and still remember it for screaming, “Enough already!” Broken Knight wasn’t that level of angsty and got better, happier, as it went on.

I have to give it only 4 stars because I don’t want to go through that (read it) again. Thankfully, there are very necessary moments of laugh out loud humor in this book. It needs the comic relief. The humor got me through it. This one is definitely not SAFE. We have to suffer through sex scenes with Other People. At least they are short snippets and not detailed.

This is the first book I have read in a very long time that I didn’t find any errors in!


Favorite Quotes:

Knight:

Footsteps thudded in the hall, and I stretched in the large bed, nudging the woman sleeping on my chest to wake up. “Your husband’s back. Pretty sure he won’t be so happy to see a stud like me in his bed.”

Mom looked up, blinking the sleep from her eyes. She swatted my chest, then coughed. “Hide. I wouldn’t mess with him.”

“We always thought we were going to have girls, Rosie and me.”

I couldn’t help but smirk, mainly because all they had were boys. And we were about the most testosterone-filled creatures in the history of mankind. Sometimes I wondered if I had blood or jizz in my veins.

Mom looked down, flattening her palm over my linen and brushing it absentmindedly. Bad idea. This shit is ninety-nine percent spunk, one percent fabric.


Angry God (Book 3)

Rating: 5 out of 5.

After Broken Knight, I had to take break and read some other books, afraid of another tearjerker. But Angry God was back to what I loved in the first book. I’m glad I came back because this was fantastic.

This one isn’t SAFE because we have to endure Vaughn getting blowjobs from Other Women. But I knew this going in from the previous books. He wasn’t in a relationship with Lenora at the time. What really bothered me was the casual way all the teens thought about this. I wanted to scream that you can catch STDs from oral sex too.


Favorite Quotes:

Vaughn:

Empedolces emerged from the rosebushes, strutting his ass like a Kardashian in my direction. I’d named my blind black cat after the Greek philosopher who discovered the world was a sphere. This cat, like the philosopher, thought himself to be God. He had a fierce sense of entitlement and demanded to be stroked at least an hour a day—a wish that, for a reason beyond my grasp, my sorry ass granted him.

It was by far the most human thing I ever did, being pussy-whipped by a literal pussy. Emp brushed past my dirty boot. I picked him up, rubbing the spot behind his ear. He purred like a tractor.

I came buckets. I hadn’t come often before my arrangement with Good Girl, and never this much. I’m talking enough to fill a milk carton. I had to Google that shit to see that it was normal.

I pushed the door open, hoping to find her working or reading or converting to a religion where she could only have sex with people named Vaughn Spencer.



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.