Tag Archives: friends to lovers

ARC Review: Sweet Little Lies (Heartbreaker Bay #1) by Jill Shalvis

4.5 gems

sweet little lies

It’s been a while since I’ve read a Jill Shalvis book. Sweet Little Lies was a good book to start reading her again. I do love a book with strong characters and zero unnecessary drama, and Sweet Little Lieswas exactly that. Sweet Little Lies is a gem of a book. Beautifully written, with strong lead as well as side characters.

Pru is one of the strongest and best heroines I’ve read recently. As a captain of a San Francisco Bay tour boat, Pru is used to handling the rough seas and having lived through tough times in the past, she is also used to a rough life. Now all she wants is to do right by the people she believes were wronged and live a content if not happy life. But she finds herself drawn to a man who isn’t exactly right for her, a man she believes will hate her when he learns of his past.

Finn O’Riley is six-foot something, hardworking man who always has his bar and is arms open for his friends. When Pru becomes one of his friends, he extends the same behaviour to her too. Finn too has had a rough past. Early on he had to abandon his dreams to take care of his brother Sean, who by the way still hasn’t grown up. Pru enters into his life as a breath of fresh air.

The chemistry between Finn and Pru is perceptible and hot as hell. They share a great rapport and the banter between them is fun-filled and sexy. I love how their relationship progresses. They start as friends and go on to become lovers. They learn new things about each other with each passing page. You can actually see how their relationship develops and grows. As individuals too Pru and Finn grow a lot over the course of the book.

Pru has easily become one of my favorite heroines. She is innately good, with a big heart and only love to give, with no expectations of any returns. She made me fall in love with her. She is the kind of woman you need in your life, the best friend who will stay with you through your thick and thin. Her past and her guilt also broke my heart. For a woman so pure and good, her circumstances were not so good. I loved how easily Finn’s group of friends accepted her. Even a tough cookie like Elle was won over by Pru. Pru’s chemistry wih Elle and Willa is exactly the kind I feel I have with my friends, which made it all the more relatable.

Finn too was a great character. He had no controlling or dominating tendencies and that made him love him. In the era of hard-core alpha males, Finn came in as a breath of fresh air. That’s not to say that he wasn’t alpha, he was, just not in the overbearing way. He helped Pru open up and grow as an individual. He made her want happiness and life and love, and I absolutely loved him for it. Pru and Finn were the perfect couple.

Like in any romance novel, in Sweet Little Lies too there was an anger induced break-up. But the way Finn comes back to Pru and everything that hew says, I just fell in love with him and that epilogue was just beautiful.

Sweet Little Lies was a mixture of love and heartbreak, laughter and cries, sexy times and honest love-making. It was beautifully written in a way that would win your heart and make you believe in love. I can’t wait to read the stories of the rest of the gang.

This review was first published in The Ever Romantic Arts


The Millionaire Makeover (Bachelor Auction #2) by Naima Simone

4 gems

The Millionaire Makeover

When you think of a fairy tale retelling, you imagine a fantasy with probably monsters and fairies and all sorts of paranormal shenanigans. Well, at least I did. That was before I read Naima Simone’s Bachelor Auction series. Thanks to her I know that fairy tale re-tellings can worm their way into contemporary romances too. By the wayThe Millionaire Makeover, if you haven’t guessed yet, is a rendition of The Ugly Duckling.

Plain-Jane Khloe Richardson, a.k.a the ugly duckling (at least she seems to think so, I don’t know why!) is in love with her boss. Except she doesn’t know how to approach him, and he definitely doesn’t see her. So what’s a girl to do? Make him jealous of course. Now how do you go about doing that, you ask? Easy peasy, you bid on a bachelor at the Bachelor Auction. Now if that bachelor turns out to be your brother’s best friend, who slept with you and then took off? You stay far away from him. And then after a few days of him wearing you down, ask him for a makeover. Well Khloe never wanted to do all that. But a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. And when you have a best friend like Morgan pushing you into the arms of the love of your life, there’s not much one can do.

I love the brother’s best friend trope. The genre and I are the bestest of friends. And this book is exactly that. To make things interesting, Naima Simone decides to off the brother. Now hold your horses, before you start thinking, “with the brother gone things are going to be so easy” Because they are not going to be easy at all. The brother, Michael has to give a hard time to the man who is trying to shag his sister, even if it from the grave, a la P.S. I Love You style, with a letter. Or rather a couple of them. Read on for the rest.. the story isn’t disappointing. When you’ve a brooding, alpha male with an Irish accent, things can never be boring.

For Niall Hunter, Michael Richardson is his brother, his best friend and his family. His death completely shatters Niall. Dealing with the loss of the only person who accepted him warts and all is not going to be easy. Michael’s sister Khloe has a hard time dealing with the loss of her brother. So, she goes to the only person who really knows what she is going through, her brother’s best friend Niall. Neither of them expected to end up in bed together. And Khloe definitely wasn’t prepared for Niall to disappear from her life after an amazing night together.

Fast forward three years, Khloe has moved on, or so she thinks until Niall appears in front of her. It’s like seeing a ghost from the past. For the past three years there has been no communication between Khloe and Niall, and not for her lack of trying. Niall has stayed away from Khloe for three years. She used to be one of her closest friend. But after “deflowering” her, he receives a letter from Michael. Which explicitly states that Khloe deserves a better man than him. So Niall does what any man who loves his best friend and has some decency and honor do. He leaves her in bed. Naked. Then doesn’t talk to her for three years.

Now that Niall is back in town, he wants to be Khloe’s friend. Just like old times. What Niall doesn’t know yet,  is that the penance for sleeping with your best-friend’s little sister is…. transforming her into a beautiful swan from an ugly duckling. All this would be cool, if only, and only if, he could stop imagining her naked and stop touching her, and stop trying to be her everything.

I loved reading this book. Because even though the trope is clichéd, Naima Simone brings her own flavor into the novel. Her characters are quite real and very well fleshed out. Be it the guilt-ridden and heart-broken Niall or the sweet and shy Khole. You could even understand Khole’s parents and their reactions, even if you don’t agree with them. And I don’t agree with them. I wanted to slap them around for a bit, and then I realized it’ll take more than a few love-taps to make them open their eyes and see what’s in front of them.

For those of you, who are not familiar with Naima’s work, this book is as good as any to start with. I guarantee, you will not be disappointed. The Millionaire Makeover is full  of good humor and great  characters. The story itself won’t let you leave disappointed either.

Other books in this series:

Beauty and the Bachelor

This review was first published in The Ever Romantic Arts


3 Breaths by L.K. Collins

3 gems

3 breaths

Pssst.. The review is kinda spoilery. Proceed at your own risk.

3 Breaths definitely had a lot of feels, but unfortunately the feels weren’t enough for me.

The book starts with Zoe and Krane celebrating their engagement with friends. but on their way home, Zoe has a seizure attack and passes away. Fast forward 5 months, Krane is still reeling from the loss of his beloved. He has let himself go; surviving solely on booze and underground fights. The only light in his dark tunnel is Ivy, Zoe’s sister. While neither his family nor friends understand his pain, Ivy surely does. She is the only one who does.

Ivy too has trouble dealing with her sister’s death, especially since they had grown apart in the last few months of Zoe’s life. With her death, Ivy is reeling with guilt and pain. Her only solace is her sister’s fiancee, Krane.

The pain of both Ivy and Krane is very palpable. You can actually feel their hearts breaking, you can feel them spiraling down. This is one of the most emotionally draining book that I’ve read. But on the flip side, while both Ivy and Krane work as individuals, they didn’t work as a couple for me.

Since Zoe’s death, Krane has not even looked at anyone else. But when one fine day he notices Ivy’s ass, he feels guilty, because well he is checking out a woman who is not Zoe and just to spice things up a bit, he is ogling his dead fiancee’s sister. That was all well and good, until the same night he sleeps with a woman, in part to get back at his high-school girlfriend who cheated on him, but didn’t feel an ounce of guilt.

Now mind you, I have no problems with men who sleep around, as long as they stay faithful and monogamous when they are with a particular woman. But hypocrisy doesn’t work for me. So if Krane felt guilty for ogling a woman who was not his fiancee, then he should have felt guilty for sleeping with someone else too. And he sleeps with two someone else’s, with no guilt whatsoever.

What I didn’t like was that Ivy was no different than the other two women Krane slept with. When he first notices Ivy, Krane says that Ivy is making him feel things (including lust). But he is just as turned on when he meets Casey and Shannon. How does that make Ivy special? I could get over this tiny issue, if only I felt some chemistry of the true love kinds, between Krane and Ivy. They work as best friends, they even work as friends with benefits, but I am not convinced that they are in love with each other.

One thing that L.K.Collins surprised me with was that Zoe was not an issue with Ivy and Krane. They both knew that Krane really loved Zoe, but Ivy was never insecure about that fact, which I absolutely loved. But I also didn’t appreciate the over-dependence that Krane and Ivy have on each other. They stop talking for a week and in that week they both spiral so far down the drain. They were way too dependent on each other, which in my opinion is unhealthy in a relationship.

I also never understood how they came together. One fine day Ivy asks what they were doing and Krane says he doesn’t want to hurt her. A fight, and a one-night stand later, Krane and Ivy make up and poof, they are together. I was never a fan of intsa-love, but here I didn’t even see it coming. All I could see was Ivy and Krane having a lot of sex together, but no love, even if it was there. Add to that the ending that came out of nowhere. If I didn’t see Ivy and Krane in a relationship, I definitely didn’t see the wedding coming. I find it hard to believe that a man would mourn for months after her looses his beloved fiancee, but within a month of dating another woman, he is ready to marry her. Ivy and Krane’s relationship has been on the fast track since Zoe’s death.

The secondary characters were also mostly a likable bunch. I adored Logan. He was a really good friend to Krane and a good man to have in his corner. L.K. Collins has a flair for writing complex characters and a heart-wrenching story.

3 Breaths is a good book. The author has beautifully portrayed the pain and anguish the characters go through, but there were way too many things that didn’t work me for.

This review first appeared in The Ever Romantic Arts. 

Book Review: Witness to Passion (Guarding Her Body #1) by Naima Simone

4 gems

witness to passion

Fallon Wayland hates birthdays. After all nothing good has happened to her on any of her birthdays. On her tenth birthday her dad stood her up because he was on a business trip, on her fifteenth birthday, her mom took her puppy to the pound and on her eighteenth birthday she kissed her childhood crush and got rejected. If you think all this was bad till you hear what happened on her twenty-fifth birthday. She gets dumped by her boyfriend on twitter, witnesses a mob hit and gets fired from her job. And now her life is all turned around.

Shane Roarke has avoided his baby sister’s best friend, Fallon for the past seven years after sharing a hot as hell kiss with her. But now that Fallon’s life is in danger, he can’t stay away. I doesn’t matter if just seeing Fallon turns him on. Her life is more important than his need to stay away.

With Fallon’s life endangered at very turn, Shane takes it upon himself to keep her safe. With both of them cooped up in a safe house, desires flare, clothes come off and hearts are at risk. Even when the clothes are flying off, danger is creeping in. Fallon and Shane need to survive if they must have a chance at love.

Fallon and Shane have a love-hate relationship, more hate than love. Being rejected does not sit well with Fallon after all. After avoiding her for almost eight years, when Shane shows up at her doorstep ready to be her knight in shining armor, she is skeptical.

“If you were truly ‘here for me,’ you would have a Kahlua in one hand and Henry Cavill’s number in the other. Since I’m not having drunken phone sex with Superman, there must be another reason you’re darkening my living room.”

Their banter is what made me love Fallon and Shane. Their back and forth was fun and oozing chemistry.  Both came from similar emotional backgrounds. While Fallon’s parents had money and never love to give her, Shane’s mom had loads of love, but was reckless and self-involved. They never tried to see the people behind the masks, and now that they do, they might not survive long enough to act on it.

The suspense in this book was good. I figured out who the traitor was once a couple of hints were dropped, but otherwise this book was majorly unpredictable. The characters were strong, the sex was hot and Addy, Shane’s sister and Fallon’s best was friend was super fun.

Witness to Passion was a good blend of romance and suspense. The action in the book kept me on my toes, and the author did not disappoint.

This review first appeared on The Ever Romantic Arts.