Category Archives: Book Barista

The Book Barista Reviews: Falling For Flynn by Kate Willoughby

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Title:  Falling For Flynn

Series:  Hockey On Tap, #1

Author:  Kate Willoughby

Release Date:  October 19, 2016

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falling-for-flynn

ISHO Summary

Tracy Duval has spent her life proving women can play hockey. From leading her college team to coaching little girls, she’s been a champion of the sport. But when a sexist ad for the Barracuda Fantasy Hockey Camp seems to exclude women, she signs up to teach the boys a lesson.

Retired NHL player Flynn Hammerstrom meets Tracy at the local ice rink and is immediately intrigued. She’s mature, confident, sexy—and hello, she plays hockey. He’s ready to settle down again and, after his tumultuous marriage, he’s looking for a woman who is high on fun and low on drama.

Unfortunately, even though he’s nuts about her, the drama he desperately wants to avoid flares up at the fantasy camp.

And Tracy is smack dab in the middle of the fire.

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I love Kate Willoughby’s hockey romance series In the Zone, so I was pretty excited to see that she had a new spin-off series for me to sink my teeth into.

The first thing that I liked about this book is that the characters are more mature.  In their 40’s.  How awesome is that?!  It’s nice to read about characters that are closer to my age.

The next thing I liked about it is that Tracy is a hockey player.  It’s good to see females playing the game.  In the book she stands up for women everywhere who love to play hockey.  Aaaaand she also coaches a little girls’ team.  I think it’s safe to say that I really liked Tracy.

Now what can I say about Flynn?  He’s a retired hockey player.  The chemistry between Flynn and Tracy is instant.  He apparently had IT back in the day and he’s still got IT. I instantly also liked Flynn.  He’s sexy and sweet.

This was a quick read as it is a novella.  There was just enough heat and drama to satisfy any reader.  I gave Falling For Flynn four steamy lattes.  The only reason it didn’t get five is because it is a novella.  I would’ve liked more.  Please note that that isn’t a complaint, it’s just my preference.  I’m am definitely looking forward to more in this series.

four starbucks

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Note: I received this ARC from the author in exchange for my honest opinion.


The Book Barista Reviews: Top Shelf by Kelly Jamieson

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Title:  Top Shelf

Series:  Aces Hockey, #3

Author:  Kelly Jamieson

Release Date:  October 18, 2016

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Top Shelf

ISHO Summary

Whether it’s a clutch goal or a cocktail, nothing beats “top shelf.” In this novel from the bestselling author of the Heller Brothers Hockey series, a fun-loving jock and an ambitious career woman mix business with pleasure.
 
Not only is Jared Rupp one of the stars of the NHL’s Chicago Aces, he’s also the owner of the Sin Bin, the after-hours hot spot where the whole team hangs out. Lately, Jared can’t take his eyes off the woman he’s hired to give the Bin a more modern feel: a sexy, sophisticated consultant who has carved out a niche updating drink menus. She’s as passionate about her career as Jared is about hockey—and yet he can’t help wondering what kind of cocktail she really wants.

In her line of work, Sidney Frayne is used to guys hitting on her in bars, but Jared gets her hot enough to burst into flames. When he’s wining and dining her, he’s sophisticated as hell; on the rink, he’s a testosterone-fueled powerhouse. Still, Sidney’s bitter divorce taught her to keep her emotions on ice. With her busy schedule—and Jared’s playboy reputation—she’s not sure she’s ready for a fling. Because if she lets Jared into her bed, she just may have to let him into her heart.

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It’s no secret that I love sports romance, especially hockey romance.  There’s nothing like a big, gorgeous hockey player.  Kelly Jamieson knows how to provide the hot steamy hockey romance and the big sexy hockey player book boyfriend.

A chance encounter and an honest comment brings Sidney and Jared together, at first in a business relationship and then as fun.  Both Jared and Sidney are reluctant to get into a long term relationship but both agree to have some fun together.

I really enjoyed Sidney.  She was a strong, independent woman who had gathered up the pieces of herself after being emotionally destroyed in a previous relationship, and made a new career for herself.  I definitely thought she was a great character.  She also had a fantastic dog.  I’m a sucker for pets as fictional characters.

As for Jared…I loved Jared!  He had been introduced in the previous books in this series so I was happy to see him get his own book.  He was a very sexy (and well dressed) hockey player and bar owner.  He’s an older and wiser player on the Aces team. I must also say that Jared  could very well be the king of great dirty talk. Yes indeed!!!

One of my favourite parts of the book was their first real kiss.  Man oh man was it hot!!!!  I don’t know if it was the kiss itself or if it was the build up to it.  Maybe it was just these characters.

Also, I love the way this author actually puts some hockey in her books.  It’s not that he’s just a hockey player and hockey is mentioned.  She actually writes some exciting hockey action into the story.

Kelly Jamieson once again delivered a great story with great characters (including a lovable dog).  I look forward to more in this series.  I gave Top Shelf five hot, rich and steamy cups of Tim’s Dark Roast coffee.

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Note: I received this ARC from the Publisher/NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.


The Book Barista Reviews: Roman Crazy by Alice Clayton and Nina Bocci

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Title:  Roman Crazy

Series:  The Broads Abroad, #1

Author:  Alice Clayton and Nina Bocci

Release Date:  September 13, 2016

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roman-crazy

ISHO Summary

Avery Bardot steps off the plane in Rome, looking for a fresh start. She’s left behind a soon-to-be ex-husband in Boston and plans to spend the summer with her best friend Daisy, licking her wounds—and perhaps a gelato or two. But when her American-expat friend throws her a welcome party on her first night, Avery’s thrown for a loop when she sees a man she never thought she’d see again: Italian architect Marcello Bianchi.

Marcello was the man—the one who got away. And now her past is colliding with her present, a present where she should be mourning the loss of her marriage and—hey, that fettuccine is delicious! And so is Marcello…

Slipping easily into the good life of summertime in Rome, Avery spends her days exploring a city that makes art historians swoon, and her nights swooning over her unexpected what was old is new again romance. It’s heady, it’s fevered, it’s wanton, and it’s crazy. But could this really be her new life? Or is it just a temporary reprieve before returning to the land of twin-set cardigans and crustless sandwiches?

A celebration of great friendship, passionate romance, and wonderful food, Roman Crazy is a lighthearted story of second chances and living life to the fullest.

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When I first heard that Alice Clayton and Nina Bocci were going to work together on a book I knew I’d be in for a treat.

Right from the opening lines of the book I was already laughing.  How can you not with this opening:

I WAS STARING AT A PENIS.

I was staring at a penis, and yet I couldn’t actually comprehend what I was seeing.  Which was weird, because technically that penis in question belonged to me.  Not in the anatomical sense, but in the marital sense.  As in, I’m familiar with that penis, I know that penis, I’m married to that penis, except…this penis is in fact, doing something it really shouldn’t be doing.

Avery is faced with the end of her marriage and takes up her best friend’s invitation to visit her in Rome to get away from things. At a party thrown for her by her friend, she comes face to face with “the one that got away”.  Marcello. Quite some time has gone by and now she’s got an opportunity at a second chance at true love. This is where I mention what a swoony book boyfriend Marcello is.  You can just picture yourself dodging in and out of traffic on the back of his Vespa, holding on to him…really tight.

Aside from a great second chance romance story, it was so amazing to have Rome as a backdrop.  I’ve never been to Rome (although my Italian husband and I keep saying we must go soon) so I really enjoyed all the places and attractions that were mentioned in this book.  Google images really was my friend throughout this book.  I also kept asking a friend who has traveled to Rome many times about certain places (you can see her travel blog here).

This book was an absolute pleasure to read.  I definitely look forward to reading more from both these authors.  I gave Roman Crazy five steamy hot and delicious espressos served with some very yummy cornettos.

five espressos

ISHO Teasers

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ISHO Author Bio

 

alice-clayton

Alice Clayton worked in the cosmetics industry for over a decade before picking up a pen (read: laptop). She enjoys gardening but not weeding, baking but not cleaning up, and finally convinced her long-time boyfriend to marry her. And she finally got her Bernese Mountain Dog.

TWITTER  |  FACEBOOK  |  WEBSITE

 

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Nina Bocci is a novelist, publicist, eternal optimist, unabashed lipgloss enthusiast, constant apologist, and a hopeless romanticist. She has too many college degrees that she’s not using and a Lego addiction that she blames on her son.

TWITTER  |  FACEBOOK  |  WEBSITE

 

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Note: I received this ARC from the Publisher/NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.


The Book Barista Reviews: The Darkest Link by Scarlett Cole

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Title:  The Darkest Link

Series:  Second Circle Tattoos, #4

Author:  Scarlett Cole

Release Date:  August 30, 2016

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The Darkest Link

ISHO Summary

When her car breaks down off the side of a lonely highway far from her sunny Miami home, tattoo artist Lia never expected her very own white knight to ride up on the back of a barely street-legal motorcycle…and she never expected to fall for her dark savior. After a string of failed relationships and a bruised heart, Lia is not looking for forever, and the hot mechanic, with his sexy scruff and shaggy hair, is simply impossible to resist and the perfect candidate for mind-blowingly-perfect, no-strings-attached one night stand.

Reid left his life in Chicago far behind him and hasn’t been back, but he’s never been able to escape the guilt he feels about his own painful role in inviting a monster into his baby sister’s life. A monster who almost destroyed her. Being with Lia is an unexpected gift, one he doesn’t feel he deserves, and their one night together has him wanting more than he should. Especially since she doesn’t know the truth about his past. However, when he finds Lia’s bracelet in his bed, he has the perfect excuse to drive down and surprise her at her tattoo studio, Second Circle Tattoos, in Miami. He’s in for an even bigger shock – and a fist to the face – when his past and present collide in the humid Miami weather when he runs into the last person he’d ever expect to see in a tattoo studio: Harper, the sister he betrayed, and the last link to his former life.

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I was kind of sad to see that this would be the last book in this series, but at the same time I was happy to see that we would find out about Reid.  Reid was mentioned in the very first book and I was definitely left wondering about what had happened to him.  Why he just disappeared from his sister’s life.

Right off the top I want to say that I loved Reid.  A LOT! He rides a motorcycle.  He’s a gentleman.  He’s really caring.  AND he’s sexy as all get out!  All these things are what make him perfect for Lia. She’s smart, talented, looks like a pinup girl and drives a classic car.

Reid and Lia seem to have an instant connection.  They try to treat it lightly but soon realize it’s more than they expected.  Both of them have unresolved issues with their parents, especially their fathers. With each others’ help they manage to navigate through and come to some resolutions.  Along the way there is a some drama which leaves you wondering “WTF?!” but it gets resolved.

Scarlett Cole has wrapped up this series very nicely.  It was a pleasure to read this series and I am definitely looking forward to her next series.  I gave The Darkest Link four very satisfying and delicious cups coffee.

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Note: I received this ARC from the Publisher/NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.


The Book Barista Reviews: Ghost by A. Zavarelli

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Title:  Ghost

Series:  Boston Underworld, #3

Author:  A. Zavarelli

Release Date:  August 26, 2016

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Ghost

 

ISHO Summary

Talia.
I have always been a bird. Caged by one prison or another when the only thing I ever wanted was to fly away.
Sold. Beaten. Starved. Drugged.
Nothing scares me anymore.
Until him.
He makes the numbness go away.
He is hazardous to me. It has nothing to do with his mafia lifestyle, and everything to do with what he offers.
A gilded prison.
A retreat from everything that I once knew. The reality I have no desire to return to.
He thinks he’s caged me, but soon…
I’m going to fly.

Alexei.
I live by a code. The Vory code.
In this mafiya world, there are traditions.
Expectations.
She does not care for these things. She does not care about anything.
She thinks she has me fooled with her haunted eyes.
What she can’t know is that I see her better than most.
She wants to fly.
But I’m going to clip her wings.
And make her my wife.

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I’ve only recently become a fan of A. Zavarelli, thanks to an audiobook group I’m in on Facebook.  After listening to Crow and reading Reaper (the first two books in this series) I was dying to get my hands on Ghost.  I knew that I was going to have to brace myself for this because I had a feeling it was going to be INTENSE.

Alexei and Talia are two extremely damaged people.  Alexei lives with the pain of being disowned by his father and for living with a secret that no one must know.  Talia has endured unspeakable things, both as a child and then again as a young woman.  Although both broken, they seem to come together on a basic level.  Of course, neither one of them will admit how deep their relationship actually is.

Along the way, we get to see some of the characters we already know and love and we meet a few that we now love and a few that we hate A LOT!

A. Zavarelli did not disappoint with Ghost.  I couldn’t put this book down and read through it pretty quickly (if only work and real life didn’t interfere, I would’ve finished faster). This book was definitely worth five very strong and intense espressos.  I now endeavour to read all the other books written by Ms. Zavarelli and I especially look forward to more in this series.

five espressos

 

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Note: I received this ARC from the author in exchange for my honest opinion.


The Book Barista Reviews: Ravage by Tillie Cole

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Title:  Ravage

Series:  Scarred Souls, #3

Author:  Tillie Cole

Release Date:  August 16, 2016

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Ravage.jpg

ISHO Summary

Taken by the Jakhua Clan as a teen, 194 was stripped of his name, his identity, and his freewill, meticulously honed to be a ruthless, soulless killing machine, trained solely to spill blood and stop hearts. This is a role he resents with every fiber of his being, but one he embraces to gain back the precious leverage the Georgians wield as their weapon of control: his younger sister, 152.

Mzia Kostava is in shock. After fleeing her mafia family’s massacre in Georgia as a child, Mzia lives in secret, hiding from her enemies in the dark shadows of Manhattan. At age twenty-five, believing all her family is dead, word reaches Mzia that her brother Zaal is very much alive… and living with their family’s greatest enemy: the Volkov Bratva in Brooklyn.

Yearning to be reunited with her beloved Zaal, Mzia risks her safety and anonymity for the brother she had mourned since childhood. But just as she reaches Zaal’s apartment, Mzia is seized and taken captive by a strange man, who is strong, dark, and brutal… Unyielding, he demands her utter obedience as he locks her away in darkness. He is highly skilled in torture and inflicting pain, and demands to know everything about her brother Zaal and everything about her. He is a man that’ll do anything to get what he wants.

Sometimes love requires the sacrifice and betrayal of those held most dear. But is finding one’s true love worth committing the greatest sacrifice of all?

 

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I look at pictures and videos of Tillie Cole and I ask myself how such a seemingly sweet girl could possibly come up with the darkness that I’ve read in her books (this series and the Hades Hangmen series). Then I ask myself why I love her books so much. With each story she weaves a  world of so much darkness and pain but through all that she allows hope and love to flourish. I do believe this is the reason why I love her books.

I felt so much for these characters.  I can’t say much without spoiling the book but I will say that 194 aka Valentin and Zoya have endured so much pain and fear in their lives.  The circumstances that brought them together are not at all romantic but somehow out of the torture and pain they fall in love.

As always, it’s always so good to connect with characters from the previous books in the series and after reading this book I’m left waiting for the next book.

I gave Ravage four hot, strong espressos.  I feel that I need to explain that the only reason that this book did not get five coffees from me is because some of the scenes were a bit difficult for me to read.  I think I was suffering a bit of anxiety reading this book.  I’m happy to say that I read through my anxiety and loved this book and the characters.

four espressos

 

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Note: I received this ARC from the Publisher/NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.


The Book Barista Reviews: Hard Rules by Lisa Renee Jones

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Title:  Hard Rules

Series:  Dirty Money, #1

Author:  Lisa Renee Jones

Release Date:  August 9, 2016

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Hard Rules

 

ISHO Summary

Wall Street meets the Sons of Anarchy in the smoldering, scorching first novel in the explosively sexy new Dirty Money series from New York Times bestselling author Lisa Renee Jones.

How bad do you want it?

The only man within the Brandon empire with a moral compass, Shane Brandon is ready to take his family’s business dealings legitimate. His reckless and ruthless brother, Derek wants to keep Brandon Enterprises cemented in lies, deceit, and corruption. But the harder Shane fights to pull the company back into the light, the darker he has to become. Then he meets Emily Stevens, a woman who not only stirs a voracious sexual need in him, but becomes the only thing anchoring him between good and evil.

Emily is consumed by Shane, pushed sexually in ways she never dreamed of, falling deeper into the all-encompassing passion that is this man. She trusts him. He trusts her, but therein lies the danger. Emily has a secret, the very thing that brought her to him in the first place, and that secret that could that destroy them both.

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Allow me to start by saying that this is the first book I’ve read by Lisa Renee Jones and I’ll be honest when I say it was the “Wall Street meets the Sons of Anarchy” part of the summary that caught my attention.  I now must say that there was nothing in this book that I would equate to Sons of Anarchy.  Nothing at all.  That said, I did enjoy this book.

There’s lots of intrigue in this book.  Like, what is really going on in the Brandon family and who really is Emily?  After reading this book I was left with more questions than answers.  I did not realize that this book ends in a cliffhanger and that I will have to read the next books in the series to get any real answers.  I wish I had been warned about this.

I enjoyed Shane Brandon, he’s smart and sexy and does not seem fooled by any of the treachery around him.  As for Emily, I liked her most of the time.  I found myself rolling my eyes at her sometimes.

I liked this book enough to want to know what is going to happen so I will be looking out for the next book in the series which I believe will be released in February 2017.  I gave Hard Rules three cups of java and settle in for the wait for the next book.

NEW three coffees

 

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Note: I received this ARC from the Publisher/NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.


Cover Reveal: The Goal by Elle Kennedy

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Title:  The Goal

Series:  Off Campus, #4

Author:  Elle Kenney

Release Date:  September 26, 2016

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TheGoal iBooks

 

ISHO Summary

 

She’s good at achieving her goals…

College senior Sabrina James has her whole future planned out: graduate from college, kick butt in law school, and land a high-paying job at a cutthroat firm. Her path to escaping her shameful past certainly doesn’t include a gorgeous hockey player who believes in love at first sight. One night of sizzling heat and surprising tenderness is all she’s willing to give John Tucker, but sometimes, one night is all it takes for your entire life to change.

But the game just got a whole lot more complicated

Tucker believes being a team player is as important as being the star. On the ice, he’s fine staying out of the spotlight, but when it comes to becoming a daddy at the age of twenty-two, he refuses to be a bench warmer. It doesn’t hurt that the soon-to-be mother of his child is beautiful, whip-smart, and keeps him on his toes. The problem is, Sabrina’s heart is locked up tight, and the fiery brunette is too stubborn to accept his help. If he wants a life with the woman of his dreams, he’ll have to convince her that some goals can only be made with an assist.

 

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