Requested ARC Review: The List by Joanna Bolouri

Format: E-bookthelist
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Quercus Publishing
Hero: Oliver
Heroine: Phoebe Henderson
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: January 6, 2015
Started On: April 9, 2015
Finished On: April 9, 2015

The List by Joanna Bolouri is one of those laugh-out-loud variety romances that makes you feel good and break out in laughter even long after you are done. It all starts when the new year rolls in and Phoebe finds herself still pathetically single, going to therapy, trying to take her mind off the ex who had cheated on her and left her in the lurch.

Like many of us, Phoebe is one to make all sorts of new year resolutions that never see the light of day. However this year, Phoebe is determined that she’d stick to her resolution and see it through, even if it kills her. Thus she and her best friend Lucy get together and make a list, a list that would guarantee that she, Phoebe, would have sexual adventures of the kind that she has only read about, and that she would put herself first this time than anyone else.

Next thing you know, Phoebe finds herself with her friends-with-benefits partner, none other than the Irish sex demi-god Oliver himself, who happens to be one of her closest friends. Oliver has no issues with making her scream with pleasure, in showing her how desirable she is. However, both Oliver and Phoebe promise each other that they aren’t an exclusive item, and that’s where all the ‘misadventures’ of Phoebe’s sex life begins.

The List is written in first person, in Phoebe’s point of view. The whole cast of characters tended to give the story a Sex & the City vibe to it that I absolutely loved. I felt like I had come home to characters who could make me laugh, who could make me cry and yet again who could make me smile through my tears through the happy ending it delivered.

One cannot talk about the good stuff in The List without mentioning the hilarity it delivers. The humor. Oh the humor. At times you feel like you’re watching a movie where everything that can go wrong will go wrong, and yet there’s nothing like laughing your way through the good and bad and being able to look back and still smile when you know that you had gone through it all like a champion. That is the sort of tale that The List delivered and I gobbled it all up in just one sitting!

I would be remiss in my review if I were not to mention the impact that Oliver brought to the story. Oliver, the Irish bloke who teaches Phoebe that she is desirable and sexy and that she deserves better than the man she has continued to pine for for the past year. The fact that they’ve known each other for so long makes it even better, that they can be their true selves with each other without any pretenses speaks volumes on just how well suited they are for each other; Oliver is the kind of friends with benefit bloke every girl should have; funny, sexy as hell and practically a God when it comes to making a woman scream in bed!

Only thing that I didn’t like was missing out on Oliver’s point of view. I felt a bit cheated out because of the fact. I’d have loved to see even a glimpse into his mind, how he views Phoebe, the woman he has loved all this while, the woman whose love he’d been willing to forgo just so that he could spare her the hurt that he’d inevitably cause when he screwed things up! This is the one reason that I tend to dislike books written in first person, which is a fad that every Tom, Dick and Harry seems to be following these days. I believe that Oliver’s viewpoint would have made the story more wholesome and given it a whole lot more emotional punch than the story delivers now.

I loved Phoebe. What is there not to love? I loved her courage; it must’ve taken a lot for her to actually take the step towards moving on even when heart kept clamoring for the man who’d cheated on her and hurt her in the worst way possible. Her cluelessness when it comes to Oliver is one that proved costly, but the angst the fact delivered to the story was one that made it all the more better!

Recommended! Couldn’t put it down. Even for a second. Highly readable!

Final Verdict: Fun & provocative. Loved it!

Favorite Quotes

“Take off your trousers.” I demanded.
I took off my skirt and tights, pulled my knickers to one side and slid down on him. Hard. I then whispered in his ear,
“I am going to fuck you so slowly and take every inch of you, until you’re begging me to let you come. Can you feel how wet I am already?”
He raised one eyebrow (man, I love it when he does that) and said, “Good god Phoebe! Keep talking like that and I think I’ll keep you.”
So I did.

We maneuvered round to the front of the car and he took down my tights and underwear. I say ‘took’, it was more of a ripping action, which would have been sexier had I not been wearing industrial strength pants and tights. With some help, they were flung in the nearby hedge and I was flipped over and shagged on the bonnet of the car, quite dramatically, and while it was obvious he wanted me, I could tell he was totally trying to out-shag Stuart so he could then jump up and down in front of me shouting “I’M THE WINNER, I’M THE FUCKING WINNER!!”
As he was kissing my neck he moved his mouth to my ear and said “It’s never this good with anyone else. Is it?”
I answered truthfully: “No. It isn’t.”

He slowly pulled down my bikini bottoms and began licking me, so slowly I felt my knees buckle and my face flush. He undid his jeans, wrapped my legs around his waist and held me up. I could feel the tree scratching my back and he went faster and faster and then he stopped, looked into my eyes and kissed me. I mean really kissed me and all I could do was kiss him back. It was passionate and as he started to move inside me again I cried out it was so intense.
“The thing about Ruth” he said as we fucked, “is that she’s not you Phoebe.”

He didn’t say anything. He walked to the door…and then he stopped. And he locked the door.
We made love right there on the bed. There was no shouting, or gymnastics or laughing. We were slow and quiet and we never took our eyes off each other. He was so gentle and the moment he entered me, I was so grateful to have him back inside me again, to feel him moving his hands over my thighs and to feel his mouth on mine. It was so intense and I came before he did. It was beautiful.
This morning when I woke up he was gone.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | eBookMall | iTunes

Rating from the sunny side of life: ★★★★☆ 

Caliber SEAL: GREAT READ!


April 20th, 2015 by maldivianbookreviewer | No Comments »

Review: Man With a Past by Kay Stockham

Format: E-bookmanwithapast
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Joe Brody
Heroine: Ashley Cade
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: November 24, 2010
Started On: April 2, 2015
Finished On: April 5, 2015

Man with a Past by Kay Stockham is one of those stories that I stumbled across in my quest to find something featuring a widowed hero or heroine. I was utterly convinced to give this a go based on the rave reviews her books seem to receive, noted in particular for her delivery of emotional reads.

Man with a Past deals with ex-convict Joe Brody who returns back to his hometown after spending 10 years in prison for murder. Joe knows that no one would welcome him with open arms but he needs to find a way to stay, at least for his father’s sake.

Ashley Cade is swimming in waters out of her depth, having just moved to the neighborhood. Growing up in group homes has left its mark on her, and the one thing that drives her to strive to make it amidst feeling like the outsider who would never fit in is the dream that she and her husband had shared of bringing up their children in a homey neighborhood which would give them the experiences that they had both never had.

When Joe turns up at her home, Ashley, the one who follows every self-help guide that was ever written has a hard time letting go of her control issues and saying yes to the help that he would provide. The fact that no one else wants to work that hard for such a small pay is one of the reasons she says yes and within no time Joe proves to her that he is more than capable of delivering on his promises where work is concerned.

What troubles both Joe and Ashley from the onset is the attraction that slowly unfurls in both of them, each yearning for the other in a fashion that refuses to be denied. Joe believes deep in his heart that no one would want to be tainted by a man with a past as his and Ashley though she knows that its time for her to move on from the memory of her beloved, has a hard time trusting her instincts when it comes to going all in.

Kay Stockham writes a mean romance, delivering on characters that reach out to you, putting in the angst and emotional factor that makes the story that much more worth delving into. Joe is the character that clutches at your heart right from the very moment he steps into the story. The wealth of pain that he hides in his heart is one that swallows you a whole and you can’t help but feel for him all the way through.

Joe is one of those heroes that all kinds of romance readers would fall in love with without fail. He is sweet, kind and yet a tortured soul that you’d want to soothe no matter what. The fact that he had made something out of himself during the time in prison when he could have let it rot his mind and soul shows strength in his character that is rarely found. That Joe could find it in his heart to be patient when everything and everyone practically worked towards running him out of town was one of the best selling points when it came to his character. And of course, his rough and tough physique that hides the sweet and generous man that he is serves to be the icing on the cake.

Ashley proved to be a strong heroine, who has a hard time coming out of her comfort zone, her mode of survival when she had been growing up. It takes a different kind of strength to shake free the emotional ties that bind and strive to be better, to push yourself out there because you want your child to have the kind of childhood that you’d never experienced. I loved Ashely from her sassy nature to the kind hearted soul that she tries hard to hide, which nevertheless makes itself known time and yet again.

Kay Stockham touches on a lot of sensitive and important issues in this short novel. Deaths of babies associated with vaccination is one of the reasons why some parents tend to forgo vaccinating their children altogether, owing to the fact that certain children can prove to be allergic to certain vaccinations, especially given the circumstances of their birth. I found it quite informative, the concept that Kay explored in this story, an area that I have never yet delved into even with all the reading that I do.

The issues associated with small towns is also one that touched the core issue of someone from outside trying to fit in. Not to mention the tough time that even a wrongly convicted person, having served his “time” has in trying to fit back into society. There’s a lesson to be learnt from each of these issues that Kay has touched and I love an author who can make me think beyond the storyline and well into the issues that are highlighted in the story. All in all, I can honestly say that Kay Stockham is an author I would continue to seek and read because she has the sort of talent that draws the reader in.

Recommended for those that love sweetly emotional reads.

Final Verdict: Emotional, tender & sweet!

Favorite Quotes

Ashley’s laughter ended with a gasp. She pulled away to look him in the eyes, but didn’t put any more distance between them. He stared into the honey-bronze depths of her gaze and waited for her reaction. Waited for her to shove him away and stammer something about how she shouldn’t have hugged him.
Instead her mouth parted and an instant later Ashley raised herself on those sexy, red-painted toes. That was all the encouragement he needed. He pressed his mouth to hers, swept his tongue inside. She tasted hot and sweet, musky.

“What if I want you to?” she whispered. “What if I want you to kiss me?”
Joe turned just enough to glare at her over the shoulder she touched. In her bare feet she nearly met him eye to eye–nearly, but not quite. And although Mac had been taller, Joe was broader, more strongly built. Honed and hardened.
By prison.
“You deserve nice things like that car your date drove. Things I can’t give you.” He swore softly. “Ashley, I can’t give you anything right now because I have nothing to give.”

Still, he did as she asked and she got an eyeful of taut backside and corded muscles. She smoothed her hands up his arms, trailed her fingers to his shoulders, in to his neck and down his spine. She rose to her tiptoes and pressed another kiss to his skin, this one to the tattoo of Josie’s name.
“Ashley.” His voice broke, husky, filled with too much emotion and needing an outlet. Joe turned so fast she gasped, and even though she stood mere inches from the bed, he swept her into his arms to lower her to the surface. Then Joe’s mouth covered hers, his tongue delved deep and she immediately discovered a difference between this kiss and the ones they’d shared before she’d found out the truth.
Joe’s hesitation was gone. Her acceptance of him, of his past, had unleashed something inside him, a fierceness, a tenderness.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | eBookMall | ARe | HQ

Rating from the sunny side of life: ★★★¾☆ 

Caliber SEAL: GOOD READ!


Books you might like from the same author

April 18th, 2015 by maldivianbookreviewer | No Comments »

Review: Chasing Trouble by Anne Stuart

Format: E-bookchasingtrouble
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: James Michael Diamond
Heroine: Sarah “Sally” Gallimard MacArthur
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: October 1, 1991
Started On: February 14, 2015
Finished On: March 15, 2015

Chasing Trouble by Anne Stuart is one of her oldies and nevertheless an enjoyable one at that. By the time I finished reading, I was sighing over the book, typical reaction to having read an Anne Stuart romance. My life undergoing a bit of a change right now means that I don’t have as much time as I used to, to read for fun. And when I do, I want the book to sweep me away on a journey, just as if I was discovering the wonderful genre of romance anew. Anne Stuart books have a way of surprising you with just that and Chasing Trouble is one of those stories that had me pleasantly surprised and of course giddy with the whole effect of it when I was done.

Sarah “Sally” Gallimard MacArthur is looking for a private investigator and an “unsavory one” at that, one who would ask less questions and help her find her sister. While James Michael Diamond fits the mold that she is looking for, James proves to be a tougher nut to crack than she imagined he would be. James would like nothing more than to forget the classy Sally that walked into his office, trying to convince him to find her sister. But then Sally proves to be a difficult woman to forget, before long, James finds himself saddled with a woman who talks too much and still manages to drive him crazy with the secrets that she harbors close to her heart.

Chasing Trouble is a story that manages to deliver the great stuff that the romance genre is legendary for, and yet the stories of the present seem to quite not be able to deliver. It does not present a mystery that makes your heart pound. But what it does is present two complex characters that the reader would like to peel the layers off to find what lies beneath.

James is the sort of cynical detective, whose life as a cop and his failed marriage has helped shape him to who he has become. Sally, while she might have led a privileged life, suffers from issues of her own which you become privy to as you read along. Both are reluctant to let other people close enough to trust the other with their heart, but eventually its a losing battle they fight when you factor in the sizzling hot attraction that makes the whole body hum.

Anne Stuart is legendary for the types of heroes that she manages to create for her stories. While James is a tamped down version of the caliber of heroes that Anne Stuart is ever famous for, his impact is no lesser. The control that he exerts on himself was one that I wanted to break down under the onslaught that his senses were being subjected to by Sally. I loved the witty banter which is of course another trademark of Anne Stuart novels. This one has got a lot of that going down and boy, do the sparks fly! The “mystery” aspect of the novel has little bit of twists to throw your way and I think everything worked out just wonderfully in the end.

Final Verdict: An enjoyable romp between two opposites. Recommended!

Favorite Quotes

She would have been able to resist an attempt to overwhelm her. Men had tried it often enough, and she had simply shoved them away. She would have been able to resist a polite brushing of his lips against hers. That was usually all she allowed. But she couldn’t resist the slow, sensuous nibbling of her lips, the way he drew her lower lip into his mouth and sucked lightly, the way his tongue moved against hers, the way his fingers stroked her breast into pebbled hardness, feeding the fire that was burning in the pit of her stomach.

He was almost frighteningly efficient about it. He seemed to know just what to do, just where to touch her, how hard, how soft, to elicit the response he wanted. She hadn’t known her breasts were so sensitive, but beneath his hands, his mouth, her reactions were astonishingly strong. She lay beside him on the bed, squirming, whimpering, straining to get closer to him as he quickly, cleverly brought her to the edge of explosion, all without letting her touch him.

She wanted to keep that response from him. She wanted to argue, to force him to break through that control, but the words wouldn’t come, her hands could only clutch his sweat-slick shoulder, her body could only move with his, reaching for him, clenching around him in a sudden shower of stars.
She remembered being almost surprised that he followed her, his body going rigid in her arms, his eyes closed tight, his mouth clamped shut as he gave her the one thing he couldn’t withhold.

“Sally, ” James said, his voice tight with regret, “I’m not the man for you. “
“Yeah, I know. You’re too old, too broke and too mean. Don’t worry about it. I’ll get older, I’ll give away my money and I’ll work on being just as sour as you. “
“Sally. . . “
She put her lips against his and he had to kiss her. There was no way he could stop himself. ”Don’t argue now, Diamond. Once we’re back in San Francisco and my sister’s safe, you can give me the brush-off. Or you can try, ” she added, as if honesty compelled her to. “But for now, just shut up and kiss me.”

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

Rating from the sunny side of life: ★★★★☆ 

Caliber SEAL: GREAT READ!


Books you might like from the same author

March 29th, 2015 by maldivianbookreviewer | No Comments »

Review: The Duality Principle by Rebecca Grace Allen

Format: E-bookthedualityprinciple
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: The Portland Rebels, #1
Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
Hero: Connor Starks
Heroine: Gabriella Evans
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: November 11, 2014
Started On: February 20, 2015
Finished On: March 3, 2015

“A rose represents promises and hope, but its beauty is bonded with thorns. It embodies pain and loss. Combined together, they are in perfect harmony, equal parts beautiful and strong.”

I have somehow forgotten how I stumbled across this book, but I bet there is a good story behind it. The Duality Principle by Rebecca Grace Allen is a contemporary romance that is based on quite the “brainy” principle of duality. The heroine Gabriella Evans is doing her PhD in disproving the duality principle which states that “if a theorem is true, it remains true if each object and operation is replaced by its dual.” Gabriella is not just super intelligent, she is also someone who is tired of hiding her true nature from the men she had accepted into her life up till now. The fact that every single one of them had left her feeling like she is doing something wrong by wanting more from the physical aspect of their relationships had left its scar on her.

Gabriella comes to Portland, Maine to not only sort her thoughts out and work on her thesis, but to say goodbye to the home that had been her grandmother’s, a home that holds sentimental value to her and she is having a hard time letting go of. Her relationships with her parents is a tension filled one at best, and Gabriella comes seeking the solitude which she has always found at her grandmother’s place. When her best friend suggests that she go on a blind date with a friend of hers, Gabriella goes along with it, not thinking that anything much would come out of it. However, when Connor Starks shows up, there is something about him that makes her want to know more, that makes her senses go on red alert, and makes her want to climb, lick, kiss and suck every single inch of him. The fact that Connor seems to present two very contrasting sides of his character to her confuses her more and makes her want to unravel what it is that Connor is “hiding”.

Connor is the bad boy who has worked hard to walk the right path. The fact that Gabriella interests him on a level that no other woman has ever interested him before makes Connor fidgety about the fact that being true to his seductive nature could spell out trouble for him where his long term plans with Gabriella are concerned. But then again, the best laid plans always have a tendency of going awry, and time and yet again, Connor finds himself literally being driven crazy by the desire that makes him feel absolutely primal with wanting when it comes to Gabriella.

What made this book a fun read is the scorching hot sexual tension that sizzles through the pages, practically making me melt, on the spot. Connor is someone who turns up the heat, just like that, and there is nothing anyone can do but go along for the ride. The fact that Connor is the one who holds back, trying to do what is right as per his twisted logic when it comes to Gabriella is what lends the story the interesting tangent of angst that made this worth reading.

While most romance writers tend to shy away from writing brainy heroines of Gabriel’s nature, I found Gabriel to be an interesting mix. The duality that lives within her character, that is constantly at war with one another until Connor comes along and proves to her that he is man enough to handle both was quite compelling. The fact that I learned of a completely new-to-me nerd fact was the icing on the cake when it came to this book.

Recommended for those who love stories featuring sexy as sin, reformed bad boys who just can’t help but be bad with the right woman!

Final Verdict: Loved it!

Favorite Quotes

“You sure you don’t want any more?” he asked.
“I might want more.” But she didn’t mean the ice cream.
“You should. It tastes really good.”
He took the cone from her hand and slowly, purposefully gathered some ice cream onto the tip of his tongue. Closing the distance between them, he bent down to brush his lips against hers. For a moment, all she felt was hot breath and cold lips, and then his kiss washed over her. Gabriella melted into the feeling, drinking the ice cream that spilled from his mouth into hers.
Connor pulled back to take a breath and threw the cone to the ground.
“You taste better.” He roughly clasped her neck, cleaving her to him for another dizzying kiss. “Goddamn, you taste so good.”

Make an island of yourself, make yourself your refuge. There is no other refuge. Make truth your island. Make truth your refuge.

Connor slipped his hands to her bottom, and her hard exhale was as loud as his hiss when he squeezed. His lips brushed hers in an open-mouthed tease. “Am I hot yet?”
“Almost.” She reached back and drew one of his hands around to her belly. “Other side.”
Connor groaned and pulled her to him with the hand still grabbing her ass. He fell back against a nearby tree, leaning on it for support, and Gabriella licked the shell of his ear. Reveling in his shudder, she bit down on his earlobe and brought his hand down toward the waistband of her shorts. She popped the first button open for him, and Connor’s hand slipped inside.
“Now you’re burning up,” she told him.
“Fuck,” he said, his breathing hard and fast. When his fingers stroked over the damp fabric covering her slit, he seemed to completely forget about his quest. Instead, he simply snapped.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | ARe | Samhain

Rating from the sunny side of life: ★★★★☆ 

Caliber SEAL: GREAT READ!


March 28th, 2015 by maldivianbookreviewer | No Comments »

Review: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Format: E-bookthegirlonthetrain
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Transworld Digital
Hero: NA
Heroine: Rachel
Sensuality: NA
Date of Publication: January 15, 2015
Started On: March 16, 2015
Finished On: March 24, 2015

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins is one of those debut novels that has received rave reviews practically everywhere. This book first came to my attention through my sister, who is particularly choosy when it comes to reading. The next time happened to be when I walked into a bookstore here; I just had to pick it up from the prominent display right at the entrance and then I just had to get a copy after reading the blurb. Well, you know how that goes.

The Girl on the Train has an interesting premise, one that perhaps observant commuters who travel back and forth to work or anywhere for that matter, can relate to. Rachel is the woman who commutes to London to work everyday and back, a journey that takes almost an hour of her time in the mornings and evenings. What Rachel does to while away the time is to watch the view beyond the windows of the train. The one thing Rachel does focus on everyday is the couple that she has come to call Jess and Jason, a couple that she believes to be in love, a couple who has got it all, unlike her failed marriage to Tom, the man with whom she shared the house just a couple feet away from the house her Jess and Jason occupy.

When Rachel sees something she would rather not on one of those long commutes and it suddenly comes to light that the woman she has started calling Jess in her mind has gone missing, Rachel does the one thing any civic minded woman would do. She goes to the police to tell them of what she knows.

Thus starts a tale that keeps the reader guessing, that tells the story of a woman who continues to live her life as an alcohol addict, who has a difficult time letting go of the husband who had divorced her for another woman. Rachel finds herself in the midst of a circle of distrust, both from the police as well as the spouse of the woman that has gone missing. The rampant circle of distrust becomes more corrosive driven by the fact that Rachel has a hard time trusting her own memory when it comes to her alcohol riddled mind.

Ms. Paula Hawkins takes the reader through a journey of the impact of emotional and physical abuse, and how debilitating that the former as well as the latter can be when it comes the self confidence of a person. The truth emerges slowly and painfully, at least for Rachel and gives the reader a chance to delve deep into the psychology that drives Rachel to seek out what had actually happened the night “Jess” had disappeared.

While I had my finger on who the villain would turn out to be, The Girl on the Train nevertheless proved to be a story that kept the pages turning, because there is a quality to the voice of it all that is just compelling. While I am not one to stray into genres that do not contain any elements of romance in it, I found myself the least bit bothered with the lack of it because Paula Hawkins delivers a damn good story! Recommended!

Final Verdict: Makes for compulsive, addictive reading!

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | eBookMall | iTunes

Rating from the sunny side of life: ★★★★☆ 

Caliber SEAL: GREAT READ!


March 27th, 2015 by maldivianbookreviewer | No Comments »