Broken Open by Lauren Dane

Grade: B
Hotness Level: Inferno
Kink Level: No Kink
Genre: Contemporary
Series: The Hurley Boys #2
Published: 11/25/14
Reviewed by Anne
275 pages

“If a woman could come just from being looked at, I’m pretty sure I’d be screaming your name right now.”

He locked his gaze to hers. “You will be soon enough.”  (p. 79)

Tuesday is just starting to stand on solid ground after the death of her husband five years ago.  Ezra is a member of Sweet Hollow Ranch, one of the most famous rock bands in existence.  This just means that his spectacular fall from grace due to drug addiction was a very public one.  Now he’s been clean for years and lives a simple life.  He’s a rancher on his family’s ranch, he helps with the band behind the scenes and spends time with his extended family.  When they meet each other their attraction is instant.  Then it’s just a matter of two people healing from past wounds try to find their way together.

I love, love, love low conflict romance, and this one is definitely low conflict.  However, the first half of the story was even a little slow for me.  That seemed pretty intentional, and it definitely fit with these two wounded characters, but it took me a while to get invested.  About half way through the issues these two had were clear and I didn’t want to set my reader down!

As always, Lauren Dane writes incredibly good and hot sex scenes.  Tuesday is confident in her self and her body and in her enjoyment of sex.  Ezra also knows what he likes.  At the beginning of their relationship they have to figure out if they’re going to fit together sexually.  That’s something you don’t normally see.

In your typical romance you have one partner mention they like to be in control and the response by the other partner is generally excitement and agreement with this power dynamic with no questions.  With Tuesday and Ezra it’s more complicated and more realistic.  Ezra admits he likes control and Tuesday thinks to herself,

“Sex with him?  Yes. Yes and yes again.  Control, though?  What did that mean?  Like something creepy?  Or something hot?  Sometimes people inexplicably found stuff like cell phone tracking and that sort of control to be superhot.  She was not one of them.” (p.31)

And then they go on to have an actual conversation about what they want from their sexual relationship.  How cool is that?

I also want to mention that Tuesday is African American and Ezra is white.  Their race is a factor in their relationship, but not a huge one.  I liked that it was acknowledged, but not the defining conflict in the story.

I really enjoyed Broken Open, despite its slow start.  I’ve read this series in order, including the series that came before it, but I think this one would stand on its own just fine.  In fact, I think having read the previous book actually worked against me in this case.  This story overlaps a bit with the story before it and it left me a little disoriented because it had been a while since I’d read the previous one. It was still a great read.  It wasn’t my favorite book in this series of series, but it was another solid entry.  I’d recommend it for anyone who enjoys contemporary romance, rock stars, strong women, hot sex, and internal conflict.

Return to You by Kate Perry

Return To You (Laurel Heights, #3)
Hotness Level-Blaze/Inferno
Kink Level-No Kink
Series-Laurel Heights #3
Reviewed by Kate
344 pages

It’s been eleven years since Michael left town to pursue his dreams in Hollywood, leaving the love of his life, Olivia, behind. Now he’s come back to film a movie and has to face Olivia again. Olivia’s been nursing her broken heart for the eleven years Michael’s been gone, but can she love someone who hurt her so badly before?
I have enjoyed each of the Laurel Heights books that I’ve read and this one is no exception. There is just so much inner turmoil and angst with Michael and Olivia. I just wanted to lock them in a room together until they got everything sorted out…oh wait, that happened (only it was a shed instead of a room) and they still managed to not get anything sorted out. Had this one been a little less angsty (I think that’s a word), I would have enjoyed it more. I did find the secondary romance between Olivia’s father and his assistant sweet and tender.
If you like low conflict romances along the lines of Jill Shalvis’s Lucky Harbor series, this is a series I would highly recommend.

Officer Off Limits by Tessa Bailey

Officer Off Limits (Line of Duty, #3)
Hotness Level-Inferno
Kink Level-No Kink
Series-Line of Duty #3
Genre-Romantic Suspense
Reviewed by Kay
250 pages

Story Brooks is a teacher in California. She’s engaged to a doctor she doesn’t really love. Said doctor breaks up with her and right after that she learns that her father has had a heart attack in New York. She goes there to see her dad and meets Daniel Chase. Daniel is a hostage negotiator like her father. Daniel and her father have a special relationship since her dad mentored Daniel. Jack (the dad) tells Daniel to stay away from Story because he’s a man whore. He really really is. Daniel tries to honor Jack’s order, for about five minutes.

I’ll be honest, the last two books put together aren’t as good as the first one. This book was okay but it didn’t make me flush or blush. I love a dirty talking man and Daniel didn’t talk dirty very much. There are a few things I’ve come to expect from Tessa Bailey and a filthy mouthed hero is one of them. Don’t get me wrong, I will still read Tessa Bailey! I just wish the last two books were as good as the first.