Thursday, January 29, 2015

Review | Bringing Home the Bad Boy by Jessica Lemmon + Giveaway

Bringing Home the Bad Boy by Jessica Lemmon
Series: Second Chance #1
Published by 
Forever
Publish Date: January 27, 2015
Source: Publisher
Find it here:  Goodreads / Amazon / B&N


Evan Downey needs a new beginning. Since the death of his wife five years ago, the brilliant tattoo artist has shut himself away in a prison of grief that not even his work can break him out of-and what's worse, Evan knows his son Lyon is bearing the brunt of his seclusion. Moving back to the lake town of Evergreen Cove where he spent his childhood summers is his last chance for a fresh start. 
Charlotte Harris knows she owes it to her best friend's memory to help Evan and his son find their way again, but she can't stop her traitorous heart from skipping a beat every time she looks into Evan's mesmerizing eyes. Charlotte is determined to stay strictly in the Friend Zone-until a mind-blowing night knocks that plan by the wayside. Now, if they're brave enough to let it, Charlotte and Evan might just find a love capable of healing their broken hearts . . . (Goodreads) 
Bringing Home the Bad Boy by Jessica Lemmon

My Thoughts:  I think it's so fun that I chose to read this book because 1) I'm sometimes wary of the mysterious "bad boy" with tattoos and 2) this cover looks like exactly that type of character. HOWEVER, HOWEVER this character is not that way at all, not mysterious or broody or angsty, and it made me very happy that I decided to read this book because I feel like people need to know this! Bringing Home the Bad Boy by Jessica Lemmon is a really wonderful second-chance romance. 

Evan Downey is an artist - a painter, a book illustrator, and a tattoo artist. He also sports plenty of tattoos of his own. He has the messy-hair, dark t-shirt, great-looking jeans vibe going on and his best friend is a rock star. SO! I can see where the cover of the book comes from. BUT OH OH, see, Evan is anything but a bad boy. He's actually a very good boy. 

The book opens with Evan packing his young son up to move away. They need a fresh start in Evergreen Cove, somewhere familiar and comfortable for them, and it doesn't hurt that they'll be closer "Aunt Charlie." Charlie was his wife's best friend and is the closest family that young Lyon knows except Charlie isn't really Lyon's aunt by blood; she and Evan's first wife Rae were not actually sisters. But they were incredibly close. When Rae unexpectedly died a few years ago, it devastated them all. Evan is hoping that this move will give Lyon a better sense of family - being closer to Charlie - and he is also hoping for some closure for himself because he just has to get out of the house where Rae died unexpectedly. 

Evan is not expecting to fall for Charlie. But, man, he really wants to see where their relationship goes. 

It's true that Charlie had a crush on Evan even back when they were all young, but when he chose Rae, she respected that decision and never crossed any lines. NOW THOUGH, with Evan and Lyon living just a couple of houses down from her, it's difficult to keep all of her feelings buried under the surface. Evan always smells great, he always looks fantastic, and it's so awesome to see him interacting with his son the way that he does. Plus, it's really sexy to watch him make his art. 

Charlie's biggest problem is the guilt she feels in admitting her feelings for her best friend's husband. 

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I could never even begin to imagine what kind of guilt and stress and strain the death of somebody-you-both-love would put on a relationship like it did between Evan and Charlie. Here we have two people that were friends years ago, even into adulthood - but that friendship had a respectable boundary, which was very well-written. This was all before the book began but it was a palpable respect that I could feel throughout the story. Rae, Evan's now-deceased wife, is a character that is never alive while the story is taking place (her character dies before the book begins), but she is written well enough that I felt her at the most appropriate times, which meant that the respect that Evan and Charlie had for one another because of Rae was very well-placed. It also meant that once the two began to admit that they had feelings toward each other, there was a depth of emotion present that is extra for an adult contemporary romance like this one. It was not too heavy, but it was just a little something there, and I think this was because of the second-chance romance thing. 

Evan is called the "bad boy" in the title, but I genuinely feel like he is a great guy. First and foremost, he is a great father. He is smitten with his child, parenting him to the best of his ability, ALSO recognizing that he's doing it alone, without the assistance of a mother for his son. I loved this show of vulnerability and the way he never hesitated to ask Charlie for help. Evan placed himself geographically closer to Charlie because she had a vested interest in the boy's life and because she wanted to help raise him; in doing so he ended up feeling things toward this woman. And this is okay, you see. It's been years since Evan's wife died - he realizes that he needs to move on. He wants to. Charlie helps with this without even realizing it. Evan is thrilled that he is able to feel things again for another woman, and he is thrilled that it is Charlie because they have so many shared interests - his son, their grief, a love for art, several other things. They are helping each other work through the grief process when it rises. But Evan is a man just like any other man, ya know? He is ready for a relationship. 

And Charlie...oh, Charlie. She had a relationship before - it wasn't a great one. The guy ended up breaking her heart for not-great reasons, which left Charlie with baggage. So not only is she carrying unwarranted baggage, but she's got this huge amount of guilt over feeling things for Evan, for wanting to be with him. Charlie has to work though this and IT. TAKES. FOREVER., which drove Evan crazy at times (and me too, doggone it!). Despite wanting to reach through the book to squish Charlie into Evan's face so he can kiss her senseless, I love these two together and love their happy ever after and YAY FOR SECOND CHANCES, they make life and reading so much fun. 

This book introduces some fun secondary characters that I'm having a fit to know more about, A ROYAL FIT. And I love the small-town feeling that I'm getting from Evergreen Cove - it feels like a vacation destination even though these characters actually live there, at least some of them do! The second book in this series is coming out in May and features one of these fun characters, but there are several that I want to know more about as soon as possible. SEVERAL. I hope some of them get a book of their own, wink wink Gloria and Asher. Ahem. 

I'm excited about this book and I love that this is the Second Chance Series because I LOVE these types of stories. I recommend Bringing Home the Bad Boy by Jessica Lemmon to fans of small-town romance stories, fans of second-chance romances, and fans of happy ever afters. 


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Click on the Rafflecopter link below to enter the 
tour-wide giveaway hosted by 
Author Jessica Lemmon and Forever Romance! 

*One winner will win a collection of books by Jessica Lemmon
*Ten winners will win a print copy of Bringing Home The Bad Boy

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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Bringing Home the Bad Boy will appeal to fans of:

Adult Contemporary Romance
Romance: No triangle. Second chance romance.
Happy ever after! 

Bringing Home the Bad Boy by Jessica Lemmon 
is currently available for purchase.


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Jessica Lemmon has always been a dreamer. At some point, she decided head-in-the-clouds thinking was childish, went out, and got herself a job . . . and then she got another one because that one was lousy. And when that one stopped being fulfilling, she went out and got another . . . and another. Soon it became apparent she'd only be truly happy doing what she loved. And since "eating potato chips" isn't a viable career, she opted to become a writer. With fire in her heart, she dusted off a book she'd started years prior, finished it, and submitted it. It may have been the worst book ever, but it didn't stop her from writing another one. Now she has several books finished, several more started, and even more marinating in her brain (which currently resides in the clouds, thankyouverymuch), and she couldn't be happier. She firmly believes God gifts us with talents for a purpose, and with His help, you can create the life you want. (While eating potato chips.) 

Find Jessica Lemmon:  Goodreads / Twitter / Facebook / Website 

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Second Chance Series: 

 




Monday, January 26, 2015

Review | For Keeps by Rachel Lacey + Giveaway

For Keeps by Rachel Lacey
Series: Love to the Rescue #2
Published by 
Forever
Publish Date: January 27, 2015
Source: Publisher
Find it here:  Goodreads / Amazon / B&N


A SUMMER FLING . . . OR SOMETHING MORE?
Merry Atwater would do just about anything to save her dog rescue - even if it means working with the most stubborn man on the planet. It's hard to avoid the sparks that fly with TJ Jameson, the ruggedly sexy cowboy in charge of the children's camp where she's just taken an animal therapy job. But commitment is not Merry's style, and TJ clearly wants more than just a roll in the hay.

TJ Jameson isn't looking for anything complicated-just a peaceful life on his family's ranch with a wife and kids. "No-strings" Merry Atwater doesn't fit that bill, no matter how irresistible she is. But when he sees how Merry gets through to his autistic nephew and the other kids at Camp Blue Sky, TJ's a goner. If he doesn't give in to the now, he might just lose his shot at forever . . .
 (Goodreads) 
For Keeps by Rachel Lacey

My Thoughts:  For Keeps is the second book in the Love to the Rescue Series by Rachel Lacey. I read this one on the heels of Unleashed, which is the first book in the series. (Here's my review.) I have to admit that while I'm not the type of person that normally goes crazy over pets, I'm head-over-heels over this series and I love the way dogs and other animals play into these stories. 

Merry Atwater is a full-time nurse who also founded the Triangle Boxer Rescue right after finishing nursing school a few years ago. She loves dogs - rescuing them, fostering them, helping them find adoptive families. This makes her so happy! It's hard work, but good work, but lately the Rescue has taken a huge financial hit. A very supportive anonymous donor has recently stopped sending their generous donations, and this has been a big blow to the Rescue's accounts. As a result, Merry has been using her own personal accounts to pay for everything, and running an organization like this is extremely expensive - she has to stop. Merry is stressed! This Rescue means life and death for these dogs! Also, how could she have let herself depend so heavily on an anonymous donation like that? She should have been more forward-thinking! Merry needs a plan and now

Suddenly a solution falls into Merry's lap, albeit a temporary one: local veterinarian T.J. Jameson runs a summer camp for special needs children with horses. Equine therapy, so cool! This year, he wants to add specially-trained dogs to the camp and he's reached out to Merry. In exchange for a nice donation to her Rescue, he has asked Merry to donate her time and a few dogs to the camp. This is a large commitment but it can help Merry pay some of the Rescue's expenses for at least a little while...except when she meets T.J., his ideas for what he wants are not the same things that Merry is willing to provide -- and neither seem to want to compromise. 

Well, neither are initially willing to compromise. It doesn't take very long for THAT to change...

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For Keeps by Rachel Lacey is SUCH a cute story! Merry and T.J. have a chemistry that is so present and obvious, and one of the things I loved about these two was that they acknowledged it right away instead of refusing to admit it, dancing around it like some couples do sometimes. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for a slow burn, but I like when people admit there is an attraction too. HOWEVER, even though the attraction is obvious, Merry and T.J. take a while to agree on exactly what they want in terms of a romantic relationship. Is a future even possible for them?  

Here are some THINGS about For Keeps that I love

1. T.J. Jameson is a veterinarian, and Merry thinks that's charming. She loves his farm/ranch but when she finds out that he rescues horse - like she does with dogs - it elevates her feelings for him by WELL, A WHOLE LOT. Because, see, here this means that what they have in common, a love for animals, is deeper than Merry realized. Maybe Merry judged T.J. a little bit prematurely when she made assumptions about his cowboy-ness, his big truck, his extreme hesitance to foster one of her dogs... 

2. T.J. is also uncle to an autistic boy, Noah. He's a FANTASTIC uncle. Noah is the primary reason T.J. hosts his summer camp. Merry loves watching his interaction with Noah, and T.J. loves watching Merry interact with his nephew. Heck, T.J. may even be a little bit jealous of how well Noah responds to Merry BUT he tries to remember that she is a pediatric nurse so she does have some experience in working with kids. If only this camp could be successful at helping Noah to interact more, become more verbal, and be more social! Merry's dogs seem to be just about the only thing Noah responds to...

3. Merry has a THING from her past that comes up while the two are developing their relationship - I've seen and read before where this THING sends a man running away fast, fast, fast. BUT! Here, it doesn't even make T.J. flinch and I kind of loved that about him. Merry does too. 

4. Merry's nursing job, her work with the Rescue, and her work with the summer camp are all connected - this shows the type of person Merry is even though she is determined that she doesn't want to get married and have a family (while T.J. does - here's our romantic tension!). T.J. watches her, and puts bits and pieces of her life together over the course of the month-long camp, and he falls for her as he sees who she really is through all of these pieces of her life. 

5. Both Merry and T.J. have fears and vulnerabilities. Both of their fears and vulnerabilities come out in the story, and both are dealt with. I love how both can depend on the other one to help with these challenges, and there is no judgment given. This is really special.

You know how many romance have that 'falling-out thing' that happens about about three-quarters into the story, the thing that causes the big issue that must be resolved before the happy ending? Well, there is a little bit of that, but it didn't feel like such a big thing because Merry and T.J. were so good for each other from the beginning. There is some dramatic tension, but it is quickly resolved, and the happy ending does come. There is plenty of depth to this story, and this was a nice change for me. 

Two books into the Love to the Rescue Series, and I'm all in! I love the way the series is set up, I love the characters, I love the North Carolina setting. I hope Merry's friend Olivia, who plays a nice role in the summer camp as an assistant to Merry, will have her own book because she seems to have some shenanigans of her own going on and I'd love to find out more about her! I recommend this series to fans of small town romances with happy endings, fans of companion stories, and fans of stories that feature animals because the dogs play a nice, big role in the romances in these books. 


Click below to win a collection of books by Rachel Lacey! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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For Keeps will appeal to fans of:

Adult Contemporary Romance
Romance: No triangle!
Great setting: North Carolina
Dog-lovers & Horse-lovers will love this one!

For Keeps by Rachel Lacey 
is currently available for purchase.


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Rachel Lacey lives in North Carolina, with her husband, son, and their own rescued pup. She volunteers her spare time with Carolina Boxer Rescue and truly has a passion for helping our furry friends. She is a member of the Romance Writers of America as well as her local Heart of Carolina RWA chapter. 





Find Rachel Lacey:  Goodreads / Twitter / Facebook / Website 

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Love to the Rescue Series: 


 



 
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