Category Archives: Carina Press

Review: Bending the Iron by Libby Drew

Title: Bending the Iron by Libby Drew
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: Contemporary, Erotic, M/M, Romance
Length: 40,000 words
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Michael feels trapped. In his conservative, poor hometown where he has to keep his sexuality hidden. In his dead-end job. In caring for his alcoholic grandfather. Everything changes when he meets Eric, the new curator for the railroad museum. His curiosity about the passionate man quickly gives way to an intense attraction–one that Eric happily returns.

Carefree and refreshingly confident, Eric guides Michael to places he’s forgotten, reminding him that it may not be too late to follow his dreams for something more in life. But the truth is, Eric knows exactly how it feels to be stuck in a bad situation. A failed relationship has left him with personal demons that may hurt his connection with Michael.

To give their future a chance, they both must fight being trapped in the past.

40,000 words

The Review:

Bending the Iron by Libby Drew is a sweetly romantic yet sensual novella about following your dreams even though they seem tantalizingly out of reach. Firmly grounded in reality, the setting and unique occupations of the main protagonists, make this a standout read in the m/m genre.

Michael’s situation is not unique in today’s world and it is very easy to relate to him. Stuck in a small, dying town, working a dead end blue collar job and caring for his alcoholic grandfather, Pete, Michael’s dreams of a career in architecture have fallen by the wayside. Michael does not resent helping his grandfather, but he sees no way out of his current life. A chance meeting with Eric becomes the catalyst for both Michael and Pete to make some much needed changes in their day to day lives.

Michael and Eric are well-rounded and three-dimensional characters. Their relationship begins with an intense attraction that they are quick to act on, but there is also an emotional connection between them as well. While Eric is the more upbeat and positive of the two, he does have emotional baggage from a previous relationship. Eric has plenty of confidence, but he is a bit hesitant when it comes to his and Michael’s relationship. As the two men grow closer, Eric sees the potential in Michael and he gently encourages him to go after his dreams.

Never bleak or depressing, Libby Drew paints a vivid picture of life in small town America. It is a gritty and accurate portrayal of the hopelessness that Michael feels about his financial and family situation. But it is also quite hopeful as Michael and Eric find love and Pete rediscovers his self-worth as he aids Eric in the train museum renovation.

A beautiful story of second chances, Bending the Iron is an emotionally gratifying romance that I highly recommend.

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Filed under Bending the Iron, Carina Press, Contemporary, Erotic, Libby Drew, M/M, Rated B+, Review, Romance

Review: The Rebound Girl by Tamara Morgan

Title: The Rebound Girl by Tamara Morgan
Getting Physical Series Book one
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 94,000 words
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Book one of Getting Physical

Plastic surgeon Whitney Vidra knows all about getting over a cheating ex. She followed her boyfriend halfway around the world before she found out about his infidelity. Now she’s focusing on her career and her friends, and using men just for single-serving, no-strings fun. Until she meets charming Matt Fuller.

Newly single Matt is captivated by the vibrant Whitney, in every way the opposite of his cheating ex-wife. When he confesses to Whitney that he hasn’t had sex since his divorce, she volunteers to be his rebound girl. But Matt’s not a no-commitment kind of guy–he’s either all in, or all out.

Whitney is determined to remain attachment-free, but Matt is equally determined to prove to her that what they have is more than just a rebound fling.

94,000 words

The Review:

There is very little I did not love about Tamara Morgan’s The Rebound Girl. Fabulous characters, unique plot, steamy make-out scenes and witty dialogue are a winning combination in this first romance in the Getting Physical series.

Whitney Vidra comes across a little harsh on occasion, but she is such a refreshing character that it is easy to overlook this sometimes annoying trait. She is a definitely a force to be reckoned and I like every brash, larger than life aspect of her personality. Whitney speaks her mind, she does not give a darn what other people think of her and she goes after what she wants. But there is a vulnerable side to Whitney and she goes to great lengths to protect herself from ever being hurt again.

Matt Fuller is such a sweetheart. He is a genuinely nice man with old-fashioned values. Nice does not necessarily mean pushover, and Matt stands his ground with Whitney when he needs to. However, he does have a blind spot where his ex-wife, Laura, is concerned and she does take advantage of him.

The secondary cast of characters is eclectic and I loved everyone of them. Whitney’s friends and business partners, Kendra and John, cut her some slack when she needs it but they also make her live to her business obligations. Whitney’s parents are positively delightful and I LOVED them!! Matt’s sister, Hilly, is a lot like Whitney when it comes to speaking her mind and I really enjoyed her scenes. I am crossing my fingers we see Matt’s brother, Lincoln, in a future book in the series.

The relationship between Matt and Whitney is not what readers typically find in a romance novel. It begins as a strictly no strings attached fling and the emotional connection is slow to build. Matt has definite ideas of how far he is willing to go sexually without a commitment and although Whitney continually pushes his boundaries, he does not give in.

The Rebound Girl is a fast paced and engaging romance. Tamara Morgan provides just enough conflict between Matt and Whitney to keep the story interesting. The sexual attraction between Matt and Whitney is intense and their sex scenes are incredibly sensual.

Realistic characters, a believable plot and an angst-free resolution make The Rebound Girl one of the best romances I have read in a long time. I am eagerly looking forward to the next installment in the Getting Physical series.

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Filed under Carina Press, Contemporary, Getting Physical Series, Rated B+, Review, Romance, The Rebound Girl

Review: Ruby by Jeffe Kennedy

Title: Ruby by Jeffe Kennedy
Facets of Passion Book Three
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: Contemporary, Erotic, Romance, BDSM
Length: 41,000 words
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Book three of Facets of Passion

Danielle Sosna has no problem denying herself in order to achieve her goals–after all, that attitude landed her a dream job at Vogue Paris. But in New Orleans for one last assignment before heading overseas, she’s faced with the most decadent of temptations. Seductive Cajun chef Bobby Prejean takes Dani’s strength of will as a challenge, and offers her a night of wild indulgence–if she will agree to obey his every command…

Dani can’t resist Prejean’s invitation to join him in a world of carnal desire, complete with fetish costumes and masks. Determined to keep her emotional distance, she gives Prejean everything but her name. A night becomes a week, as she spends Mardi Gras suspended…in the delicious space where pleasure meets pain.

Too late, she realizes the cloak of anonymity has not protected her–and that chasing her dream might come at the expense of her heart.

For more Facets of Passion, check out Sapphire and Platinum, available now!
41,000 words

The Review:

Ruby, the latest installment in Jeffe Kennedy’s Facets of Passion series, is another intense journey of sexual discovery as Dani Sosna gives in to her secret desires with Bobby Prejean.

Dani is tightly controlled and very goal oriented. Her world is well-ordered and she is willing to make sacrifices to achieve success. Dani is shocked at the desires Prejean arouses in her but she is willing to explore the attraction between them.

Prejean is arrogant almost to the point of rudeness. But he is also extremely charismatic and his Dominant tendencies awaken Dani’s submissive cravings. He is patient with Dani as she slowly cedes sexual control to him. There is a complexity to Prejean’s character that is slowly revealed throughout the story and gives him depth that is not initially apparent.

Ms. Kennedy exquisitely builds the sexual tension between Dani and Prejean to a fever pitch. Their resulting sex scenes are explosive and incredibly erotic. Prejean is involved in the BDSM scene and he gives Dani a tantalizing (and voyeuristic) peek at the lifestyle when they visit one of the local clubs.

Ruby is a deliciously kinky addition to Jeffe Kennedy’s Facets of Passion series that fans of BDSM romances do not want to miss!

Read my review of Platinum HERE.

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Filed under Carina Press, Contemporary, Erotic, Facets of Passion Miniseries, Jeffe Kennedy, Rated B, Review, Romance, Ruby

Review: Plus One by Brighton Walsh

Title: Plus One by Brighton Walsh
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Word Length: 22,000
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Olivia hates the singles scene, so when her best guy friend, Ian, offers to be her plus one to a series of weddings she has to attend, she agrees. Although she doesn’t want to complicate their lifelong friendship, she can’t pass up the chance to have a steady date without the dating drama. What she doesn’t expect is to now find Ian so incredibly sexy.

When Ian sees his old friend Olivia dolled up for wedding #1, the boyhood crush he once nurtured transforms into smoldering attraction. It doesn’t take long for their no-strings arrangement to turn physical. But as Olivia’s desire to stay “just friends” becomes clear, Ian’s feelings are deepening. In the time they have together, how will Ian convince Olivia that one plus one can make for a lifelong pair?

22,000 words

The Review:

Fans of friends to lovers romances are going to LOVE Brighton Walsh’s Plus One. This novella is fun, flirty and delightfully steamy.

Olivia Winters and Ian Donnelly have been friends for years. When Olivia decides to take a break from dating, Ian offers to be her “plus one” for the upcoming wedding season. Olivia is stunned by her new attraction to Ian while Ian’s longtime crush on Olivia is quickly becoming more serious. With their friendship on the line, will Ian and Olivia give into their simmering desire?

Both Olivia and Ian are wonderfully developed characters. They are both successful professionally and neither has any emotional baggage to work through. The banter between Olivia and Ian is witty and entertaining and the sexual tension between them is sizzling hot.

Olivia and Ian attend several weddings before they transition from friends to lovers. Their sex scenes are full of passion and exquisitely detailed. Olivia is more cautious than Ian and her fears about ruining their friendship are realistic. Ian was a little quick to jump to conclusions but fortunately their issues are resolved pretty quickly.

Plus One is a sweet, sexy, light-hearted novella that old and new fans of Brighton Walsh are sure to enjoy.

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Filed under Brighton Walsh, Carina Press, Contemporary, Plus One, Rated B, Review, Romance

Review: Cutest Couple by Kate Davies

Title: Cutest Couple by Kate Davies
Girls Most Likely to…. Series Book Two
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Word Count: 22,000
Book Rating: C+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Book two of the Girls Most Likely to…

Ten years ago, Marc and Bree were voted Cutest Couple–until a graduation-night argument destroyed their relationship. Unable to contact him, Bree had no choice but to forget Marc–and raise the son she never got to tell him about.

Marc got Bree’s message loud and clear when he never heard from her again. Now stationed near his hometown, he sees their high school reunion as a chance to make peace with the past. But after one glimpse of Bree, he knows he never really got over her. And after one glimpse of her son, Marc knows he’s the boy’s father…

Despite the secrets and lies that kept them apart, Marc and Bree can’t resist picking up where they left off. But when the weekend is over, it may be too late to build the future they once dreamed of.

For Kelsey and Nathan’s story, check out Most Likely to Succeed.

22,000 words

The Review:

Cutest Couple, the second novella in Kate Davies’ Girls Most Likely to… series, is a fast-paced second chance at love story.

High school sweethearts Marc and Bree’s relationship ended on graduation night after a big argument following Marc’s announce he was joining the military. After Marc left for boot camp, Bree discovered she was pregnant and made a cursory attempt to let him know of her pregnancy. Marc’s military career has taken him all over the world but now that he is stationed close to his hometown, he decides to attend his ten year high school reunion where he learns he is the father of Bree’s nine year old son, Ben. The sparks are soon flying between this volatile couple but can they resolve the issues of their past?

While I enjoyed the general premise of Cutest Couple (secret baby and second chance at love), I never did warm up to Bree. She is a frustrating character that is self-centered, indecisive and immature. Her attitude toward the military is irritating and irrational and I had a difficult time feeling any sympathy for her.

Marc is a fabulous character that I positively adored. His reasons for joining the military are admirable and he is an all around great guy. As soon as he discovers he is a dad, Marc is eager to meet Ben and become an active participant in his life. Marc is patient with Bree up to a point, but he does not cut her any slack about her excuses for not making more of an effort to contact him about her pregnancy.

Bree and Marc are a passionate couple, but the relationship between them is emotionally exhausting. With so much antagonism between them, they are constantly fighting. While their one sex scene is smoking hot, Bree is instantly remorseful and retreats from Marc yet again.

Although Cutest Couple is not my favorite book in Girls Most Likely to… series, it is an entertaining read and I am definitely looking forward to Tess’s story, Life of the Party.

Read my reviews of the other books in the series HERE.

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Filed under Carina Press, Contemporary, Cutest Couple, Girls Most Likely to Series, Kate Davies, Rated C+, Review, Romance

Review: Killer Kitchens by Jean Harrington

Title: Killer Kitchens by Jean Harrington
Murders by Design Book Three
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Length: 71,000 words
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Book three of Murders by Design

Interior designer Deva Dunne just may have hit the jackpot. Sure, her new client Francesco Grandese talks tough and has shady friends, but he has the eye of a connoisseur, and a huge, empty mansion he wants her to decorate.

Deva’s boyfriend, police lieutenant Victor Rossi, has misgivings about her promising job–especially when he accompanies her to one of Francesco’s dinner parties. After Francesco returns a dish to the kitchen untasted, the chauffeur promptly scarfs it down and drops dead from cyanide poisoning.

Has the killer made a terrible mistake and murdered the wrong person? Or was the dead man the intended victim? The only thing Deva knows for certain is someone present that night committed murder. And it seems everyone–from the dinner guests to the kitchen help–has a motive.

71,000 words

The Review:

Killer Kitchens, the third installment of Jean Harrington’s Murders by Design series, is another puzzling mystery starring Interior designer Deva Dunne. Deva is once again drawn into a murder investigation when a guest of her current client dies from cyanide poisoning.

Things are looking up for Deva both professionally and personally. She is hopeful her first commercial design for her good friend and chef Chip Salvatore will prove beneficial for her design business. Deva is now dating Lt. Victor Rossi and she is quite happy with their new relationship. But Deva’s life is quickly complicated by an explosion at Chip’s restaurant and some unexpected news in her personal life.

Deva’s new client Francesco Grandese has an unexpected connection to Chip that raises some very interesting questions about the explosion that rocked Chip’s restaurant. Deva has a few doubts about Francesco, but he wins her over with his impeccable taste in antiques and real estate. Despite Victor’s warning to steer clear of Francesco, Deva cannot turn down the job that could secure the future of her design business.

As with the previous books in the Murders by Design series, Killer Kitchens has an eclectic but well-developed cast of characters. Lead protagonist Deva is engaging and she has come a long way from the grief-stricken widow we met in Designed for Death. She is self-confident, witty and she absolutely cannot resist poking around in the ongoing investigation. Victor Rossi is still the same gruff yet lovable detective with a heart of gold. Francesco is a little insensitive but his obvious affection for his wife and surprising knowledge of the finer things in life go a long way in smoothing out his rougher edges.

Deva tries to avoid investigating the death of Francesco’s chauffeur, but she inadvertently stumbles onto clues as she continues working on Francesco’s design project. An unexpected discovery in her personal life not only derails her burgeoning relationship with Victor, but also distracts Deva from the investigation. Deva uncovers incriminating information that cast doubts on a large suspect pool and once again, Ms. Harrington does an excellent job of keeping the killer’s identity tightly under wraps.

Killer Kitchens is another absorbing mystery, but the story does not flow quite as well as the earlier installments in the Murders by Design series. The investigative element of the plot is sometimes a little overshadowed by Deva’s personal life. These deviations provide insight into both Deva and Victor and add dimension to both their characters.

Jean Harrington has a few surprises up her sleeve for her intrepid sleuth in Killer Kitchens. Mystery lovers are sure this entertaining and intriguing addition to the fabulous Murders by Design series.

Read my reviews of the other books in the series HERE.

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Filed under Carina Press, Contemporary, Jean Harrington, Killer Kitchens, Mystery, Rated B, Review