So Tough to Tame by Victoria Dahl

So Tough to Tame (Jackson, #3)

Grade: B
Hotness Level: Inferno
Kink Level: Mild Kink
Genre: Contemporary, cowboy
Series: Jackson #3
Published: 9/24/13
Reviewed by Anne
376 pages
Charlie and Walker were friends in high school when geeky Charlie tutored the very popular Walker.  They went their separate ways, but now they have apartments across the hall from each other and they are both recovering from awful on the job experiences that ended with being fired.  Neither has troubles starting a new job, and neither is admitting to anyone that anything bad happened.  It’s like a high school reunion.  I’m great!  I’m so happy!  I just moved on to a wonderful job!
The attraction that had simmered between them in high school flares up again and now they are adults free to act on that attraction.  Neither is looking for anything long term, so it all should be great, right?
This was a good story.  I thought the characters were unique and more flawed than I’m used to reading.  They were each hiding the truth of themselves from the other, which bordered on annoying.  However, this set up worked for me.  They were both so embarrassed about their pasts because they were responsible for the poor choices they’d made.  This made for more angst than I usually like to read, but, again, it really worked in this story.
Walker is a really refreshing hero in a genre that seems full of billionaire CEOs and over achievers.  His life is simple, in part because he doesn’t think he can achieve more, and in part because that’s how he likes it.  Walker does make some changes over the course of the book, but the changes are motivated by his own happiness, not out of a desire to impress someone else.
Charlie was interesting, too.  A security expert who wasn’t a strong physical force.  She specializes in out-thinking criminals and setting up monitoring systems.  The situation she finds herself in on her new job – feeling like she’s being watched every moment of the day – was really creepy!  (Although I should point out that I’m not a huge suspense fan, so even a little bit of it is creepy to me!)
I think one of my favorite parts of the book was that their personal growth was in parallel, and not caused by the other person being in their life.  Even when Charlie tries to interfere with Walker, he’s not going to move on things until he’s ready.  I enjoyed that as opposed to magic sex that heals all wounds!
I thought the ending was a little too hearts and sunshine with respect to their careers, but I REALLY appreciated that the wedding in the epilogue wasn’t theirs.  They still have issues to work through, in my opinion, but you leave the story sure that they will work things out.  This was an enjoyable and funny contemporary romance!

The Secret Heir of Sunset Ranch Charlene Sands

Hotness Level-Blaze
Kink Level-No Kink
Reviewed by Kay
192 pages

The Cast

Justin: Ass-hat who lost a bet and had to pretend he was Brett for a weekend-and while he was at it, decided to sleep with Kat as Brett. Son of the wealthy Slade family.

Brett: Justin’s soldier buddy who died in the line of duty, was raised by his Aunt Mattie. Had never met, much less slept with Kat.

Kat: Slept with Brett (who was really Justin), then found out she was pregnant. Was raised in an extremely poor and abusive household. Wants better for her son. A reformed gold digger. Currently living with Aunt Mattie.

Aunt Mattie: Brett’s aunt. Lost her husband and her nephew-both had been in the military. The news of her nephew’s death caused a heart attack, leaving her in a fragile health state.

Connor: Young son of Kat and Justin. A model baby, always sleeping when the story requires it.

The Plot

Justin returns home after his stint in the military is finished. He heads over to Brett’s aunt’s house to confess his guilt over Brett’s death. When he arrives, he discovers Kat living there with Connor, the son he didn’t know about. Aunt Mattie believes Connor is her nephew’s son. Kat pleads with Justin to not reveal Connor’s paternity as Aunt Mattie’s health is too fragile to handle such a blow. Justin reluctantly agrees, but demands to be a part of Connor’s life.

This was a book about secrets. Everyone seemed to have at least one huge skeleton in their closet. Starting off with Justin’s “Brett’s not my name” secret, it was just one secret after another.

It was also a book about money. How having money or not having money can lead to different motivations. Justin is not afraid to throw his money around. Kat struggles to not chase after money.

Secrets and money are not a good combination for me. I can handle one or the other, but when you put them together, it gets too soap opera-ish for me. And that’s what this book read like. A soap opera. The characters seemed a bit like stock characters. A hero with money and a secret. Check. A heroine with a secret and no money. Check. I just couldn’t connect with either of them and their conflict didn’t pull me in either.

Obviously, secrets and money don’t work for me as a combination. Do you have any combinations that don’t work for you, but are okay individually?

Turn and Burn by Lorelei James

Turn and Burn (Blacktop Cowboys, #5)
Grade: D+
Hotness Level: Inferno
Kink Level: Mild Kink
Genre: Contemporary

Series: Blacktop Cowboys #5
Published: 8/6/13
Reviewed by Kate
368 pages 

Tanna was hurt in a barrel racing accident and hasn’t been able to get on a horse again. Unfortunately, that kind of leaves her floundering as barrel racing was her life. She agrees to help some friends out with their resort over the summer. Fletch is an overworked veterinarian. But when he hooks up with Tanna, who he calls ‘Sugar Twang’ (she shall forever be ‘Sugar Twang’ in my head), he feels the longing for something more. But he’s definitely tied to the area while Sugar Twang is only there temporarily. How can the two of them possibly work?

Okay, that’s all that general stuff you can get by reading the book description (well, except for the Sugar Twang bit, I threw that in for a bonus). Now, onto what you really want to know.

I think that we all know that Lorelei James succeeds at writing series that keep us coming back for more and more and more. Turn and Burn is filled with all the things that should keep you coming back for more. It is a solid entry into the series, but it didn’t blow my socks off. There was nothing extremely memorable about either Fletch or Sugar Twang. And unfortunately, a day later, I’m already forgetting them a bit. Fans of Lorelei James, and especially her Blacktop Cowboys series, will enjoy this one, but I don’t think this is the best example of her writing.

The other thing I think I need to address in this one is Fletch’s nickname for Tanna. Sugar Twang. Now I’m generally fine with nicknames. But for some reason this one grated wrong. And it was on every page. I didn’t enjoy the book as much because every time I read it, it pulled me out of the story a bit. Sugar Twang? *shuddering*

So, obviously Sugar Twang is not my favorite nickname.  How about you?  Are you pro-nickname or anti-nickname?  What are the ones you’ve loved or hated?