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ARC review–The Sheriff’s Little Matchmaker by Carrie Nichols

The Sheriff’s Little Matchmaker

4/5*

Publication date–October 11, 2018

I received this ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I am cross posting this review from my review blog as it’s a romance title.

Do you like sweet romance? Sexy lawmen? A Cajun accent? I have a book you’ll love.

The Sheriff’s Little Matchmaker by Carrie Nichols is a lovely sweet romance. Sasha is tired of being that poor widow after her husband was killed in the line of duty, so she moves to Rose Creek, Texas. Remy is the town’s sheriff, and a single father. Evie is his daughter and Sasha’s student–who knows what she wants. Evie orchestrates a meeting between Sasha and Remy, without knowing that Remy was the stranger Sasha had been dared into kissing on a girl’s trip to New Orleans. When Remy sees the mysterious woman who disappeared after a blazing kiss in his daughter’s classroom, he’s thrown. Sasha is torn between shock and embarassment–things like torrid kisses were supposed to stay on vacation where they belong. Sasha and Remy can’t really stay away from each other. Sasha determinedly holds the line of “I’m your daughter’s teacher, I can’t date a parent,” although it’s a losing battle. But step by step, the sexy sheriff breaks down her walls. Which leaves the question of whether Sasha can bear to give her heart to another lawman, and if Remy wants more than just a mother for his daughter.

The sexual chemistry between Sasha and Remy is electric. There is a steady build, and in any other book they would’ve fallen into bed within the first quarter of the book given that chemistry. I kept rooting for sex, and (spoiler) there is one sex scene, but it’s all off page, which is a bit of a disappointment. The way the sex scene is handled is a bit disappointing because it’s quite rushed, and not just because they’re lusting for each other and the sex happens off stage. There could’ve been a longer scene there to rebuild the tension that had deflated in the time since their last encounter.

We get to see the events through both Sasha and Remy’s points of view. Unfortunately there were time when I got a bit confused who’s point of view we were in.

The judicious use of Evie, Remy’s daughter/Sasha’s student is well done. Too often kids speak in inauthentic ways, but I think Evie is just about right (I have a daughter who is older than Evie and one who’s a bit younger). She’s obsessed with Sasha’s cat, loves Eloise, and is very interested in Sasha becoming her new mom. (Remy and her mom divorced when she was young.)

My only real complaint is that Sasha keeps saying she won’t let a dominant personality dictate her actions, but that isn’t quite what happens. Remy is very much an alpha/in charge kind of character and for the most part Sasha gives in. I would have liked a little more spine.

Seven Books I Love, part six–Don’t Get Too Comfortable by David Rakoff

There’s a Facebook meme going around where you list seven of your favorite books in seven days. I thought I’d do mine as a series of blog posts. I’m going to cheat and do a few series mixed in with single books. This is not an absolute list–this is my seven of many favorite books. I could do one of these for children’s books, YA, adult, romance, and I’d still never even approach naming all my favorite books.

That said, here is book six…Don’t Get Too Comfortable: The Indignities of Coach Class, the Torments of Low Thread Count, The Never-Ending Quest for Artisanal Olive Oil, and Other First World Problems by David Rakoff

A bitingly funny grand tour of our culture of excess from an award-winning humorist.

Whether David Rakoff is contrasting the elegance of one of the last flights of the supersonic Concorde with the good-times-and-chicken-wings populism of Hooters Air; working as a cabana boy at a South Beach hotel; or traveling to a private island off the coast of Belize to watch a soft-core video shoot—where he is provided with his very own personal manservant—rarely have greed, vanity, selfishness, and vapidity been so mercilessly skewered. Somewhere along the line, our healthy self-regard has exploded into obliterating narcissism; our manic getting and spending have now become celebrated as moral virtues. Simultaneously a Wildean satire and a plea for a little human decency, Don’t Get Too Comfortable shows that far from being bobos in paradise, we’re in a special circle of gilded-age hell.

My first acquaintance with David Rakoff wasn’t on paper, it was through the NPR show “This American Life,” to which he regularly contributed.  I loved the stories he told there so much, I went out and bought Fraud (and eventually his other books).  Rakoff is a masterful storyteller and his essays, whether on the page or the radio often made me think as well as laugh.  Listening to him tell his stories and reading his work has made me a better storyteller.

I almost picked Fraud instead of Don’t Get Too Comfortable. “I used to bank here, but that was long, long ago” is about Rakoff’s early battle with Hodgkin’s disease which, when it came back years later, killed him.  You can here him tell that story here, or read a transcript of that episode of TAL, including the essay here.  I strongly encourage you to listen to him tell it rather than just read it.

I actually have all of Rakoff’s work as audiobooks as well as ebooks because he narrates them, and the way he tells a story is just…priceless.

Rakoff is the kind of storyteller who makes you want to sit at their feet and beg for another story, and another, and another. I try to savor each story, but find myself instead bingeing because his prose is so gorgeous. He’s also unashamedly cynical, but not cruel. Bring your dictionary–Rakoff doesn’t scrimp on the big words.

In the end, I chose Don’t Get Too Comfortable because it opens with his essay about becoming an American citizen (Rakoff was originally Canadian), and has several other gems that just barely beat out Fraud. In Love It or Leave It, Rakoff explores his ambivalence about US citizenship and why the Patriot Act in the wake of 9/11 and the suspicions leveled at foreigners have led him to bite the bullet and apply for citizenship instead of contenting himself, as he had for a few decades, with his green card.

Question 87 of the citizenship test is “What is the most important right granted to U.S. citizens?’ The answer formulated by the government itself, is “the right to vote.” As we file out of the room, I ask someone who works there where the voter registration forms are. I am met with a shrug. “A church group used to hand them out but they ran out of money, I think.”

I don’t go to the post office to them have to buy my stamps from a bunch of Girl Scouts outside, and if the Girl Scouts are sick that day, then I’m shit out of luck. A church group? Why isn’t there a form clipped to my naturalization certificate? It is difficult not to see something insidious in this oversight while standing in this sea of humanity, the majority of whom are visible minorities.

I haven’t voted since I was eighteen, when I cast a ballot in Canada during my first summer back from college. It’s not that I take voting lightly. Quite the opposite. Living down in the United States where the coverage of Canadian politics is pretty well nonexistent, I have never felt well-enough informed to have an opinion. But even if I had made it my business to stay abreast of things–going to the library to read the foreign papers in those pre-Internet years–after a certain point, I no longer felt entitled to have a say in Canada’s affairs, having essentially abandoned the place. I suspect this is going to happen for the next little while every time I have to do something unmistakably American, like cast a ballot in a non-parliamentary election or go through customs on my U.S. passport, but standing here on line, I am stricken with such guilt and buyer’s remorse, overcome with a feeling of such nostalgia for where I came from, with its socialized medicine and gun control, that it is all I can do not to break ranks and start walking uptown and not stop until I reach the 49th parallel.

This feels appropriately prescient as we endure an immigration crackdown under another, worse, president.

There is also a story about the last flight of the Concorde versus Hooters Air, an essay that starts off by discussing Martha Stewart’s arrest that really explores Rakoff’s own love of DIY and his visit to Martha Stewart Living, and in Whatsizface Rakoff asks two plastic surgeons to tell him what is needed to fix his normal face. He is underwhelmed by an all night scavenger hunt. He is consistently dry and honest as he shares his stories.

I believe, but am not 100% sure that these essays all appeared in other media before being collected together. I certainly heard several on This American Life before I read them.

There are four Rakoff books, and Don’t Get Too Comfortable is my favorite, followed by Fraud. If you too have a sardonic, dry wit, I can’t recommend him enough. Worth noting that a curious thing keeps popping up in reviews–if you like David Sedaris, you may not like Rakoff, while I am the other way around where I find Sedaris occasionally witty but have a strong preference for Rakoff’s work.

One caveat–some of Rakoff’s offhand comments, particularly about women have not necessarily aged well in the intervening 15-18 years since their writing and are somewhat offensive in the era of #metoo

Don’t Get Too Comfortable is 11.99 on kindle, but I’d almost encourage you more to buy the audiobook if you’re only going to consume it using one form of media.

 

Review: On Pointe by Shelly Ellis

This contemporary novella, set in DC sets up the MacLaine Girls series.

Bina MacClaine is the daughter of the founder who can’t convince her mother that the business is in trouble. She teaches lessons and acts as the business manager. The book opens with her meeting up with her ex, his offering to buy her mother’s dance studio on behalf of a client, and her dumping her coffee over his fuckboy head. (More of this, please. Can this be a romance trope?) She is furious when she returns to work that day only to find out her mother has hired another teacher, when they can barely afford the teachers they have (and not for much longer).

Maurice is a back up dancer and choreographer from Atlanta who grew up in DC taking lessons at MacLaine. He came back to get away from some things and a specific someone. Mo always had a crush on Bee when he was a teen but she didn’t know he existed beyond as a student. He’s all grown up, and still crushing on the older woman. Can he convince her to see that he’s not a kid anymore? Will his past threaten his new life?

Bina’s mother Yvonne,who discovers that she had stage 3 cervical cancer and keeps it a secret, is the third “main” character in that there are sections written from her point of view. Her illness serves to flesh her out, as does her burning desire to keep the academy afloat no matter what. She’s had the chance to sell in the past and refuses to do so. However, there’s a lot of room for expansion, and I wonder if we’ll continue to get her point of view in future books, or if her inclusion was largely to help set up the future books.

I like that the age difference between Bina and Maurice and more to the point their former student /teacher dynamic is a big obstacle. It is made very clear that there was never any attraction on Bee’s side. Their slow burn of their sexual tension is well crafted and hot. They are an easy couple to root for.

There’s not a lot of time spent getting to know more about the academy and the other teachers/dancers there or their dynamic with Bee/Mo/Yvonne, and I would’ve liked to see more (I’m guessing that will play a larger part of future books). Gentrification and the consequences of that play out as part of the book, and the pressure on the business is really well done. We don’t see that addressed very often in romance, and I liked seeing it, perhaps in part because I live in Silicon Valley where gentrification and displacement because of it are a reality of my community. We see the role that the school has played in the community and that it has produced several powerhouse performers. If it shutters, it will have real consequences for the community.

Buy On Pointe at Amazon

I will review your books–Here’s my policies and preferences

There has been a lot of discussion about diversity in publishing in the romance/erotica community over the past few weeks.

One of the things said on Twitter by an Author of Color (AoC) was that she’d had really negative experiences when trying to find reviewers for her book because of racism. Now she doesn’t even approach reviewers unless they explicitly say they want to read books by AoC.

With all of that of mind, I want to be very clear about what my review policies are. At this point I have largely reviewed books I’ve chosen on my own or with someone’s recommendation. I would love to be approached to review your book.

Here are my policies

What I want to read in Romance/Erotic Romance

This is a starting point. I am open to hearing more about your book if you are interested in my reading it–just send me your flap copy.

  • M/F, M/M, F/F, menages
  • Contemporary
  • Paranormal
  • Fairy Tales
  • Historicals (I’ve mostly read books set in the US. I’m open to more, but don’t have the same knowledge base/context for them)
  • Engagement/Marriage of Convenience
  • Exes reuniting
  • Billionaires/Princes/Princesses, etc
  • Flings
  • Friends to Lovers
  • Forbidden Love
  • Mistaken Identity
  • Plus sized heroine/hero (but never a book where they hate themselves/lose weight for their HEA/HFN)

I am very interested in amplifying books by Authors of Color.

You can email me at delilahnight at gmail dot com to solicit a review.

 

As I said earlier this week, I’m trying to read 100 books this year, and I’m posting reviews on Goodreads. I’ll be in Vegas having all kinds of adult fun next week, so my posts next week (which I’m scheduling in advance) will be book reviews. These are going to be short Goodreads reviews. A DN blog review will be more detailed.

Review: Bad for the Boss by Talia Hibbert

I first heard about Bad for the Boss on Alisha Rai’s Twitter feed.  (Side note–Alisha Rai is an amazing author and you should read her books.) She was tweeting about how Bad for the Boss featured a plus-sized heroine and that it was well handled, and that there was an instance of sexual harassment that well handled. I was intrigued.

I bought bad for the boss from Amazon for my kindle app and couldn’t put it down.

Jennifer is a plus sized woman with a dark past. She’s working as a social media rep in an advertising company. The office sleaze is hitting on her, and she sends an email to her friend asking for help to get her out of this situation. But she didn’t send it to her friend–she sent it to one of the partners.

Theo is a work-obsessed man who is unprepared for the accidental email, and is intrigued. He replies, insisting that the work-place should be harassment free, and adds a more personal note. When she replies with a reassurance that she’s fine, but a snarky ps, he’s hooked. He needs to meet Jen.

The connection between the two is irresistible, and as a reader I totally bought in. Jen and Theo are three dimensional people, and you see a glimpse of their lives beyond the office. While Theo is Chinese and Jen is Black, race isn’t an issue beyond a few respectful gestures. Nor is Jen’s weight an obstacle–Theo is hooked on her curves and finds her gorgeous, full stop. As a fat woman myself, it was so refreshing to see a plus sized heroine who I liked and identified with.

When dark things happen, Theo wants to protect Jen, but I don’t want to spoil the ending.

The book is a fast, hot read (I was ready to jump my partner after some of the sex scenes, or failing that, find some other release). I was thrilled to find out there’s a sequel, and have already bought it.

I highly recommend Bad for the Boss. If all the erotica I read this year is this hot, I’ll burn out my vibrator.

Review: Evergreen and Poinsettias by Kassandra Lea

Evergreen and Poinsettias

Submissions for my anthology close today, and I unintentionally set myself up with a short and sweet Christmas story to get me off on the right foot when planning my reviewing calendar.

If you’re looking for a sweet, short Christmas romance, this is a good choice. Brylee slips and falls one day, and finds herself staring into the eyes of the most handsome man she’s ever met. Will their chance meeting end with a simple thank-you wreath from her flower shop, or is it the start of something more?

I found myself identifying with both Brylee and her sister. Brylee is shy and a bit lonely. Her sister keeps assuring her that true love exists, reminding her of how quickly she went from meeting to wedding her husband. I spent many years kissing frogs, but like Brylee’s sister I went from meeting to marriage in an extremely short period of time (and have been married, happily, for a decade).

Lea reminds us that love may find you in the most unexpected of places.

Brylee Mariotte is hoping to get a boyfriend for Christmas, and when she meets Liam Casey, it looks like she might just get her wish.

It’s the magical holiday season again and, like everyone else, flower shop owner Brylee Mariotte can’t help but get swept up in it. Of course, the phrase ‘happiest time of the year’ only makes her loneliness worse. As she watches the happy couples, she starts wishing and hoping for Santa to bring her a man to call her own, and not just for the holidays. She wants the real deal—someone for the long haul.

When the dashingly handsome Liam Casey offers her a helping hand, Brylee begins to think that miracles might just exist. The bookstore owner’s touch lights a fire deep inside her, one she thought would never get burning. But what if Liam isn’t as into her? Or, even worse, what if he’s already married?

With a little touch of evergreen and a whole lot of Christmas magic, Brylee may just get her man.

Evergreen and Poinsettias can be found at your favorite e-book retailer, including amazon.

 

Author Spotlight: Kait Gamble

kait_gamble

When Kait Gamble emailed me her guest post, her excerpt was so hot I immediately pre-ordered Sins in the Sand, and several other books. At this point, I am such a fan of Kait’s that I can’t spotlight just one book.

In order of how I read them

Breaking Rossi's Rules

The first book I read by Kait was Breaking Rossi’s Rules, which features Anika, otherwise known as the Ice Princess (her family owns one of the biggest Jewelry Companies) and Luca, a billionaire with a mysterious past.

Anika is complex. Her “ice princess” façade is a coping mechanism. When Luca knocks on her hotel door, expecting someone else, they’re both intrigued. Her ice melts for Luca, and she believes that maybe they could have more than a weekend fling.

Luca inhabits the skin of a billionaire as if he were born to it. But he has a past that few know.

When they come together, Anika melts for him until she catches him doing something unforgiveable.

Anika and Luca have great banter and better chemistry, the locations are described well, and the pacing of the book flows well.

Sins in the Sand

The day that Sins in the Sand downloaded onto my kindle app (I pre-ordered) I started reading at 11 or midnight and didn’t finish until nearly sunrise. I have no regrets.

Kendra is a new employee of the Totally Five Star Dubai hotel. She’s getting used to the quirks of dealing with the highest of the high-end clientele, when the most extreme request she’s ever gotten comes directly from her boss. Kendra bears a striking resemblance to a reality star who was supposed to be appearing at a charity event that evening. Kiki has flaked, so Kendra is asked to stand in, and is assured that they have taken care of ensuring that the “winning bid” will be rigged.

What no one counted on was that competitive billionaires Dmitri and Nikos would shatter the highest rigged bid in an attempt to make this dinner date another contest between to the two of them. Kendra’s desire is ignited for both of them, and when one dinner date turns into a week of playing Kiki, Kendra knows she’s playing with fire.

Kait has written two different, yet equally melt your panties alpha men in Dimitri and Nikos to the point where as a reader I would’ve volunteered to take Kendra’s place. (j/k) The sex, as a threesome and individually with each of the men, was hot enough to live up to the promise.

The reader is taken along with Kendra on a whirlwind ride, and we empathize with her fear that her relationship with these men will shatter when they know the truth, and her confusion over falling for both men.

What happens when the truth comes out? I’m not telling. I will say that this is my favorite Kait Gamble book yet.

Fuel to the Fire

Jackie and Logan were insanely in love. Until they broke up.

When a friend’s wedding brings Jackie to St. Lucia where Logan is working/standing in for a missing groomsman they run into each other again.  The old chemistry is just as strong. Yet something is off–it’s obvious to the reader early on that something fishy went down with the break up as each blames the other. What really happened?

Lots of risky public sex and the rekindling of their romance bring Logan and Jackie to a moment where they need to talk about the past to have a future. That’s when the bride drops a little morsel that sends Jackie running away again.

Just who, or what broke them up?

The public sex is exciting, and Logan and Jackie’s connection pulls at the reader. You’re rooting for them to get together long before you understand why they broke up.

Cuffed

Cuffed is a short story about YouTube stars Scarlet and Jackson getting cuffed together as a publicity stunt staged by a third You-Tuber, Rex. Rex says he won’t uncuff them until they give him some good footage. Neither Scarlet or Jackson expected to enjoy being cuffed together as much as they did.

My only complaint is that I’d love to read more stories in this world.

Ignite Kait Gamble

The last story I’m going to review today is Ignite. This is the second in a series, but works well as a stand-alone as well.

Natalie and Sebastian have been friends since high school. As Sebastian has worked his way from pretty girls in high school to supermodels as an adult, Natalie has always been just his friend. They dress in the latest fashion, while she’s happiest at home in short and a t-shirt, as a computer programmer. When Sebastian has a business deal with a conservative couple, he asks Natalie to play his wife during a trip to Thailand.

Their act drops barriers that have existed for years. But when the trip is over, will Natalie be the latest in Sebastian’s string of conquests.

I really enjoyed this book. I felt the connection between Natalie and Sebastian, and I was rooting for them all the way. My only complaint, which is also a compliment, is that I wanted more.

 

 

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