Rachel's books

I'm a registered nurse.  Reading gives me that escape I need.  I read primarily romance in all genres.



Caine's Reckoning

Caine's Reckoning - Sarah McCarty

I will put up with a bad book if it's for a challenge and I didn't know what else to read for the category.  

Caine is a Texas Ranger and a member of Hell's Eight.  Desi is the woman he rescues and marries.  Desi was repeatedly a victim of trauma and sexual assault.  Does she get time and space to work out her trauma?  Yeah, nope.  This has the trope of the magic penis that heals.  Don't like to be touched?  Well, let's get it on!  It's not romantic, it's abusive.

Then there was the bad guys.  That's it really?  It was too easy.  And it's not helped that there was still the mystery sadistic evil guy that had no name that didn't get his.  He is still free.  And the whole issue of the who/why of Desi and her twin sister Ari (who is not in this book and is alive/dead (who knows!) and suffered/is suffering the same fate that Desi did) kidnapping.  For the length of the book, it left a lot of unanswered questions.  But you know what?  I don't really care and would very much like to burn this trash.  I won't be reading any more of this series.

It's sad that the best thing about this book was Boone, the loyal dog, and Cantankerous, a randy rooster. 

I read this for the Romance-opoly Passion Place sun track square  

Hurts to Love You

Hurts to Love You: Forbidden Hearts - Alisha Rai

This wraps up the trilogy. Nicholas's sister, Evangeline gets her story. I liked reading about her and her ability to grow as the book progressed. I liked Gabe from the previous books and liked them together. Since this wrapped everything up- Nicholas and Livvy are getting married, there are secrets that come out, it was nice the see how everything wrapped up. And I loved the epilogue to see where everyone was a year later.
And Eve's paternity wasn't in question.

Gabe's dad was Robert, he had had a one night stand prior to meeting Tani. Maria and Robert were not having an affair. Maria was leaving Brendan. Livvy's pregnant. She has a girl.

(show spoiler)

I read this for Romance-opoly The Bar moon track

Animal Attraction

Animal Attraction - Jill Shalvis

Jade has something bad happen and she ran to small town Sunshine, ID.  She found a job and made a life very slowly letting people in.  Expect she's not planning on staying, because her family expects her back.  Dell's got relationship problems with women due to his history as a child.  He doesn't do them.  

I enjoy JS writing, humor.  Both Jade and Dell are likable even if this did drag in a few places.  Both are adults and have difficulty admitting to themselves what they want.  Jade has always done things to make her family happy and what they want.  It was only after running to Sunshine that she did things for herself and it took the whole book for her to admit to her family what she wanted.  The upside was her family loved her and wanted the best for her.  Dell had issues with his birth mother and had a relationship/non-relationship with her in them one.  I would have liked for that to be explored more.  The strength in this one are the supporting characters.  Dell's brothers Brady and Adam and friend Lilah are all in this and I enjoyed their banter.

The only problem I have with JS, and I've pointed this out before, is her use of "like a girl."  I hate that phrase and she uses at least once in most (all?) of her books.  (Think "fight like a girl"  or "cry like a girl.")  I do like her writing style, it's easy and humorous, and I know what I'm getting.  

I read this for romance-opoly The Bar sun track

Little Women

Little Women - Louisa May Alcott, Elaine Showalter,  Vinca Showalter, Siobhan Kilfeather

I can't really say anything that hasn't been said already. I do have a confession- this is the first time I've read Little Women. Sure, I've seen multiple adaptations. Greta Gerwig's version that recently came out made me realize I had never read the book. When Romance-opoly called for a YA book considered a classic I knew I had to read this one. I thought it was interesting reading what scenes didn't make it to the various adaptations. It's interesting to see what each version chooses to highlight from the source material. Recommended.
I read this Romance-opoly Beau Boulevard moon track

The Hallowed Ones

The Hallowed Ones - Laura Bickle

Amish and vampires? Interesting.
Something is happening in the Outside world. Not having TV, radio, cell phone, etc, Katie and her community have absolutely no idea of what is going on. They know something is happening since a helicopter crashes in one of their fields....and no one comes to investigate.
I did start out liking this. But then something happened and I just got annoyed. While I don't think this was preachy, I got tired about reading about "God's will," and the "Outside," and the "Plain" folk. I was horrified at the Bishop's initial decision about Alex until Katie stepped in.

He was going to shot him.

(show spoiler)

Alex was unconscious. Katie is very likable and resilient. Alex's background was helpful, but I was annoyed that he kept calling Katie "Bonnet." This also showed (IMO) that no matter the religion or the belief that one is more pious, better, etc the more power and absolute trust an individual(s) is granted, the greater likelihood of corruption. There is no questioning or dissent in Katie's community. It's not allowed.
I read this for Romance-opoly Beau Boulevard sun track.

Silent Threat

Silent Threat (Mission Recovery) - Dana Marton

I felt like this had 2 stories going on at first. There was someone who was sending military intel overseas and a stalker who was escalating. I did like the attention paid to (alternative) therapies in connection with the more traditional therapies. Cole was dealing with disability and PTSD. Annie had her own issues dealing with an abusive stepfather, indifferent mother, and a grandfather who I thought was verbally abusive to her. Both characters are likable. I would have liked this better with 1 focus- either the traitor selling intel (and the way intel was taken was interesting and could have been elaborated on) or the stalker. Even though

it was the same person.

(show spoiler)

I read this for Romance-opoly The Gym moon track


Feed - Mira Grant

This was interesting. It was a lot to unpack and once I got into it this was interesting. Set in the future after a major virus outbreak. I thought the concept is interesting- everyone has the Kellis-Amberlee virus and it becomes activated when one dies, gets bitten, or spontaneously converts. The virus is helpful in that it kills the cancer cells and other things. The problem is, once activated, people become zombies and require a head shot to die a 2nd time. Animals over 40# also are infected and the same things apply. I can't imagine a future where most don't have pets.
In this future, news is disseminated through bloggers. George (Georgia) is a Newsie (news and truth), her brother Shaun is an Irwin (likes danger), Buffy is a Fictional (stories). There are also Stewarts, Aunties). Together they run a blog/news site that gets chosen to follow the presidential campaign of Peter Ryman whose formative years were shaped by the outbreak.
I liked the writing, the characters, and the general story-line. There's a betrayal by someone close, trusted, and considered a friend. There's a conspiracy, murder. A major character dies in this. I do think this has a good solid end and was on the fence about reading the next. I did read some reviews regarding book 2 and certain things happen that I'm not crazy about, so the train stops at this one. I do recommend for those that like zombie stories.
I read this for Romance-opoly The Gym sun track

Melt for You

Melt For You - J.T. Geissinger

Overall this was an entertaining enemies to friends to lovers romance. Joellen is a copy editor at a publishing house with dreams to advance. She's been secretly in love with her boss for years. Cameron is a famous rugby player and traded apartments for the Christmas season with a family member. (I've late at writing this and don't remember the relationship- I think it was a cousin). The apartment is across the hall from Joellen's.
Both characters are like-able, but Joellen's negativity related to anything about herself got old so fast. When her confidence grew and she finally stood up for herself, it was a beautiful moment. But, it took forever to get there. Her relationship with Cameron took awhile to develop and even longer for her to realize the depth of her feelings.
Michael was an asshole.

Stone Cold Texas Ranger

Stone Cold Texas Ranger (Harlequin Intrigue) - Nicole Helm

Natalie's sister has been missing for 8 yrs. She spent all that time looking for clues and working her way into the Texas Rangers as a hypnotist. She assists with suspect interviews. After a suspect is murdered and her house burned she goes into hiding with one of the Rangers who doesn't like her.
The forced proximity and enemies to lovers was decently done. This one had some nice action/suspense scenes.

I read this for Romance-opoly Soldier Street moon track

Hot Combat

Hot Combat (Ballistic Cowboys) - Elle James

This had one of the tropes I really don't like and stay away from (secret baby- you can easily guess). However, in this book, it didn't bother and piss me off like it usually does. Charlie's motivations and secrecy made sense to me. She still took away a choice from Jon, but I still liked her. The plot line was relevant to today (right wing anti government sentiment and using arms to make the displeasure known and it was based in the West- which is something that has happened in this general area- see the Bundys and the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge).
There were a few things that didn't make sense to me/just made me roll my eyes. One of suspects spouses was interviewed and she said something about how she doesn't know how to use their computer and they took her at her word (I got the impression that because she was an older woman she wouldn't know computers). Another one was how 30 yr olds having mad internet/computer skills because (you know) they grew up with it.
I did like this one. The main characters was interesting and likable.
I read this for Romance-opoly Soldier Street sun track

Heart of the Wolf

Heart of the Wolf - Terry Spear

Bella was taken in by the gray pack when her family was killed. She flees the gray pack after their alpha, Volan, tries to force her to mate with him. Bella has lived on her own for 150+ years when this story picks up.
I thought the zoo thing was funny and unique. The whole gray/red wolf differences/hierarchy. Those are the things I liked about this book. You've got an asshole (Volan) trying to force himself on someone who doesn't want it (but it's the wolf's way!). You've got a woman (Bella) who has remained chaste and a virgin for her "one true mate" for 150+ years. The "one true mate" (Devlyn) who hasn't. The whole, "I want you, but I can't!" trope.
Thanks for the remainder- "good" woman don't have sex for pleasure/because they want to and the moment is right/etc with anyone but the "one." The guy? Free pass!
I read reviews for #2 and it sounds like completely new characters. So maybe I'll give this series another chance....maybe.
I read this for Romance-opoly Fated Folly sun track

Pack Enforcer (this is the new title for the reissue)

Enforcer  - Lauren Dane

Full disclosure:The "fated mate" trope is not my favorite. It can be done in a way that doesn't irritate me and in a way I like. This is not that book.
What not to do:
1. Not tell the full truth. Nina consented to sex. That's it. Not a mating bond. Lex knew what was going to happen and deliberately didn't tell her the full story. That should not be okay. It's not sexy, it's disgusting.
2. Make the women (and only the women) go crazy with the mating bond. But wait! They don't have to go cray-cray! Sex with a 2nd man (tri-bond) with fix it! That sounds *super sexy*!
3. Sacrifice the plot. It was an interesting one. Someone in the Pack has gone Rogue and is stealing and killing. Backstabbing! Treachery! But......let's not focus on the that. It's about the sexy times.

And the 3rd partner with Nina and Lex? Lex's brother Cade!

(show spoiler)

And I need to bleach my eyeballs.
I read this for Romance-opoly Fated Folly moon track.

A Big Surprise for Valentine's Day

A Big Surprise for Valentine's Day - Jackie Lau

The last book in this series about Amber the youngest Wong sibling. Amber has a history of dating assholes so she is on a no boyfriend kick. Sebastian is back in town to open his own practice. They met in a grocery store.
I could believe their romance. I think it helped they knew each other growing up (Sebastian was friends with Zach). I liked it when Sebastian stood up to his parents.

I Am Princess X

I Am Princess X - Cherie Priest, Kali Ciesemier

Libby and May met when they were in the 5th grade and became fast friends. Together they created a comic called "I am Princess X." After Libby is killed in an auto accident, May gives up on the comic and Princess X is no more.
Fast forward about 3 years and May is now 16/17 and she notices Princess X everywhere (a sticker on a window, graffiti). Does this mean Libby is alive? Turns out there was more to the accident. And there are clues everywhere May looks. She enlists a boy in her building (who believes himself to be a computer hacker).
I did like the mix between traditional story/comic-graphic novel. I recognize May's a teen, but there were some things I thought she did/said/should have picked up on (like thinking her computer doesn't work- when it just needed to be plugged in to charge, really?!). This was a decent mystery and a good cast of characters. There was no romance in this one. Very much about friendships.
I read this for Romance-opoly Post Office moon track

The Undateable

The Undateable - Sarah Title

Bernie is a librarian. She was photographed one day making a face during a marriage proposal (one of her student workers). This became a meme- "Disappointing Librarian." Enter Colin, a staff writer for an online fashion magazine. Through the magazine, she is offered a make-over and 30 dates in 30 days to prove she is not undateable.
I really enjoyed this. I liked both Bernie and Colin. I liked Bernie's feminist voice and how she called out certain things. I thought she grew throughout the book and did certain things/adapted things because she realized she liked it. I also liked how some of Colin's viewpoints changed once he got to know Bernie. This was a bit of enemies to friends to lovers. Their transition to each was gradual.
I read this for Romance-opoly Post Office square sun track

A Fake Girlfriend for Chinese New Year

A Fake Girlfriend for Chinese New Year - Jackie Lau

This was a short and sweet story about a friends to lovers romance. Both Jo and Zach had previous serious relationships that didn't work out and each had their heart broken. They became friends over their shared misery/mourning. Fast forward a few years and Jo has a crush on Zach. It isn't until Zach needs a fake girlfriend to get his parents off his back that he begins to realize he has feelings too. (In the first book, the Wongs set each kid up with a date).
The Pictionary scene was hilarious and my fav part of the book.

Currently reading

Mister Rogers' Neighborhood by Melissa Wagner
Undercover by Lauren Dane

Professional Reader2016 NetGalley Challenge Reviews Published 80% Romanceopoly 2019 Participant