PHS Book Reviews

July 5, 2018

 

Here they are, our very first reviews! And our #PHSBookReviews team had some fabulous reads this month. Made choosing our Top Pick VERY difficult!

 

 

 The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

 

Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases—a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.

 

It doesn't help that Stella has Asperger's and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice—with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can't afford to turn down Stella's offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan—from foreplay to more-than-missionary position...

 

Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but to crave all the other things he's making her feel. Soon, their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic...

 

Rated: 5 Pink Hearts       Reviewed by: Ali

 

Stella’s made a decision. She really should date—her mother’s always telling her that she should—and one of the things that she can see is holding her back is sex. Her plan? To hire an escort to teach her and work through all of the things on her lesson plan. But Michael Phan is more than just a tender lover, and soon she finds herself making space for him in her life…

 

I’m not entirely certain how, but Hoang has combined one of the sweetest romances I’ve ever read with some sizzlingly hot sex scenes. This book is sexy as hell, but also beautifully illustrates Hoang’s own experience of autism. From the way in which she describes the importance of good tailoring, so that the seams of her clothes don’t cause her distress, to some of the scenes where she experiences sensory overload, we really understand Stella and her perspective. As a neurotypical reader, it’s always interesting to explore other experiences and this romance moved me to tears at times.

 

An outstanding narrative, with a hero and heroine to fall in love with. One for the keeper shelf.

 

 

 

Bound To Her Blood Enemy by Tora Williams

 

Norman heiress, Matilda Comyn is desperate to escape her grasping guardian and reclaim her inheritance. After a lifetime of being let down by men, she wants to rule her lands on her own terms. She can’t escape without help and battles her mistrust when compelled to join forces with a Welsh spy.

 

Huw Ap Goronwy has a rival claim to Matilda’s castle and has sworn a blood oath against the Comyns. When his king rules they must marry, he struggles to reconcile his attraction with his need for revenge. But they must form a truce if they are to seize their castle.

 

Risking capture and death, they will only succeed if Matilda learns to trust, and Huw allows his love for Matilda to overcome his need for revenge.


Rated: 4 ½ Pink Hearts       Reviewed by: Frankie

 

All her life Matilda Comwyn has been let down by men and wants nothing more than to reclaim her ancestral lands and live on her own terms. First, she must escape her gold digger of a guardian, who has plans of his own, which is to marry her himself to gain her ancestral castle. She knows that she must flee him but seeing as he doesn’t trust her due to an earlier escape attempt she joins forces with an unlikely ally.

 

Spy to the King; Huw Ap Goronwy has been sent to collect the little heiress and take her back to King Stephan, which is an easier task said then done. Unlike those that are wanting to gain Matilda’s castle for themselves, Huw has a genuine claim to it. Years before there was a tumultuous event that happened between the Goronwy’s and the Comwyn’s, something that led Huw to swear a blood oath against Matilda’s kin.

 

Both have built a wall around themselves and neither can bring themselves to let those defences down. She has an issue with men and he has a life-long thirst for revenge. But as their castle and their lives are at risk, they must join forces to overcome the trials and dangers they are facing.

 

Tora Williams has created an engrossing story full of angst and sizzling sexual tension. The chemistry between Huw and Matilda crackles with mutual distrust and equal lust. The story is fast-paced and wonderfully written, it sweeps you along on a thrilling and dangerous journey as our couple try and find their feet with each other, learn to trust one another and most importantly try to stay alive. A richly detailed and charming story that grabs your attention from page one and keeps you gripped. Highly recommended!

 

 

 

Summer At Willow Tree Farm by Heidi Rice

 

Is home always where the heart is?

 

When Ellie spent a summer with her mum on a Wiltshire commune in the 90s it was a bigger disaster than Leo DiCaprio’s trip aboard the Titanic—so fleeing to America seemed a perfect plan.

 

But now, with her marriage falling apart, running back to her mum seems like the only option for her and her son Josh.

 

She wasn’t expecting Art, the boy she once had a crush on to still be working at Willow Tree Farm… And still be as hot and bothersome as he was when they were teenagers.

 

Ellie came to Willow Tree Farm for a fresh start. But is she ready to risk sailing her life—and her heart—into another iceberg?

 

Rated: 5 Pink Hearts       Reviewed by: Shell

 

I defy anyone who reads this book not to laugh, cheer and cry. I did. I have two favourite scenes from the book. The first one is when Ellie is annoyed with Art and she's been stumbling around the out building in the dark and getting her best bunny slippers covered in mud. If that doesn't make you laugh, then nothing will. The second is when Annie says that Art looks like Aidan Turner. Now I already thought Art was hot, but at that point my interest went up a whole lot more. I also loved the diary entries that Ellie wrote when she was fourteen and how she coped with her teenage crush then and how she deals with Art now she is a adult. For me this book is a definite must read and one I can highly recommend.

 

 

 Wicked Wager by Laquette

 

 

Dr. Mandisa Avery is a Brooklyn chemist who's lost sight of her life outside the dreams her late mother left her to fulfill. With too many late nights spent in her office working, she's burned out and desperate for a change.

 

Slade Hamilton is a Texas businessman who adores ranch life. He'd love nothing more than to spend his days tilling his land. However, his inherent need to protect his family legacy from his hateful father keeps him and his future tied to a desk at Logan Industries.

 

When a lucrative business opportunity forces their paths to cross, Mandisa and Slade must each make a decision: risk it all on undeniable attraction, or hedge their bets to save their hearts and their respective businesses from ruin.

 

Will they fold, or will they risk it all on a wicked wager?

 

Rated: 3 Pink Hearts       Reviewed by: Ange

 

The heroine  of this story was a strong individual, an accomplished woman who knew what she wanted and wasn't afraid to go for it. The hero was a good match for her, equally strong willed. Since neither one was afraid to speak their mind, whether mad or not, I really enjoyed their snappy dialogue. However, although the story was entertaining and enjoyable, it did not quite fulfill all my needs. I just needed a little bit more. But every time I wanted to get completely lost in the fantasy, it just felt like it was missing that little extra oomph to get me there, so that it stood out of the erotica crowd. Having said that, I would read another book by the same author again. I hope the next one sweeps me off my feet.

 

 

 

A Girl Like Her by Talia Hibbert

 

After years of military service, Evan Miller wants a quiet life. The small town of Ravenswood seems perfect—until he stumbles upon a vicious web of lies with his new neighbour at its centre.

 

Ruth Kabbah is rude, awkward, and, according to everyone in town, bad news. Thing is, no-one will tell Evan why. Does she perform ritual sacrifices? Howl at the moon? Pour the milk before the tea? He has no clue.But he desperately wants to find out. Because Ruth doesn’t seem evil to him; she seems lonely. And funny, and clumsy, and secretly quite sweet, and really f*%king beautiful…

 

The more Evan’s isolated, eccentric neighbour pushes him away, the more he wants her. Her—and all her secrets. Because there’s no way a girl like Ruth truly deserves the town’s scorn.… Is there?

 

Rated: 5 Pink Hearts       Reviewed by: Ali

 

Ruth Kabbah loves comic books, and her sister and the way that pyjamas feel against her skin. She most certainly doesn’t love the way that she and her sister have been ostracised by the rest of her small town since that night two years ago. So when her new neighbour, Evan Miller, turns up on her doorstep complete with home cooked shepherd’s pie, she’s not entirely certain what to think. She certainly doesn’t want to be attracted to someone who works with Daniel, the man who destroyed her reputation and belittles her in public.

 

I really loved Ruby. I like the fact that she’s blunt and she tells Evan to shut up and f- off on multiple occasions when she’s not sure how she should react to him. And the details about how her autism effects the way she dresses and her facial expressions bring depth to a fully rounded character. I’m also really impressed with the way that even though Evan wants to swoop in and save her occasionally, he holds himself back. And there’s a discussion about consent and use of it in a sex scene which is so unbelievably sexy that Hibbert needs to write a masterclass.

 

It’s a fantastic portrayal of a friendship developing into a relationship, and a brilliant commentary on slut shaming in our society. Another one for the keeper shelf.

 

 

 

 

Beguiled By The Forbidden Knight by Elisabeth Hobbes

 

He’s her enemy… …and she must not fall for him!

 

When her mistress is taken as an enemy Knight’s betrothed, handmaiden Aelfhild knows it would be too dangerous for her Lady—she must go in her place! But there’s more to the scarred Knight than she first thought…she isn’t expecting to fall for him!

 

As the line between friend and enemy blurs, Aelfhild realises she might be protecting her mistress, but not her heart…

 

 

Rated: 5 Pink Hearts       Reviewed by: Rachel

 

The story takes place during the Norman conquest of England. Aelfhild, who is the handmaiden to Lady Signum, doesn’t want her mistress to marry an enemy knight and takes her place. So, when Guilherm Fitzlannion comes to claim the bride of his Lord Gilbert Du Rospez, he has no way  of knowing he has the wrong woman. I was hooked from the first page of this story. I thought Elizabeth Hobbes did a great job representing the events that were taking place during this time and I loved the pairing of Guy and Aelfhild. There was more than just physical attraction between these two. Aelfhild was able to look past Gui’s deformity and what side of the war he was on and see the man inside. If you're looking for a romance with that magic something which allows you to get lost in the past, this is definitely the book for you.

 

 

 

Last Of The Summer Vines  by Romy Sommer

 

Love grows where you least expect to find it…

 

When ambitious workaholic Sarah Wells discovers she has inherited her estranged father’s vineyard near Montalcino in Tuscany, the last thing she wants is to take time away from her busy schedule to sort out a crumbling mess of a palazzo. But, of course, life never runs smoothly and when she makes a rare error, her bosses decide a holiday is just what she needs.

 

When Sarah arrives in Italy, she learns that she is not her father’s sole heir. In fact, she only has a partial stake in Castel Sant’ Angelo because of a loophole in Italian law. Her father has left the vineyard instead to his business partner, the gorgeous and infuriating Tommaso Di Biasi—and Tomasso doesn’t want to sell.

 

At first, Sarah wants the deal done as quickly as possible so she can get back to her life in London, but it seems Italy has other plans for her. Under the warmth of the Tuscan sun, with a glass or two of the local vino rosso, and brooding Tommaso challenging her all the way , Sarah starts to realise that that there might just be something to la dolce vita…

 

Rated: 4 ½ Pink Hearts       Reviewed by: Laura

 

Sarah Wells finds herself in temporary exile from work as a Financial Analyst because of a mistake she made. She travels to Tuscany to her now deceased, estranged Father’s villa, Castel Sant’Angelo, which she now part-owns along with Tommaso di Biasi, a childhood friend and her father’s business partner. Sarah soon realises the Castello and the surrounding vineyards are swamped in debt and she plans to restore the rundown Castello to its former glory to sell it and pay off the debts. With a small job for the Rossi family trattoria, a love interest in her father’s Lawyer, Luca Fioravanti and her surly first love Tommy, Sarah tries to balance her new life and emotions with almost disastrous consequences, but is it too late for a second chance? The author cleverly weaves the beautiful scenery with slightly flawed characters and mouth-watering descriptions of food and wine with a little mystery. Romy Sommer’s writing transported me to Tuscany and I didn’t want the book to end. Although the pacing at the beginning is a little slower than I like, I still highly recommend this book.

 

 

 

Cruising With Danger  by Robyn Rychards

 

After the stress of working in a busy Chicago ER, Sage Brady reinvented herself and enjoys her job as a doctor on a cruise ship. Until she takes over the position of Chief Medical Officer and learns the previous doctor was murdered. Then she discovers narcotics being smuggled through the ship’s dispensary. But it’s the hot detective assigned to the case that threatens her peace of mind most of all.

 

Detective Dace Langdon hates his undercover assignment as a cruise ship security guard, but it’s better than the vacation his boss suggested. Having the ship’s captain assign the sexy Chief Medical Officer as his partner is a complication Dace doesn’t need.

 

Trapped on the open ocean, they race to find the identities of the smuggler and murderer before Sage becomes the next target. Will their attraction to each other complicate their investigation or lead to something lasting?

 

Rated: 5 Pink Hearts       Reviewed by: Gwessie

 

Sassy heroine, Dr Sage Brady, the new Chief Medical Officer, must work with brooding hero, Detective Dace Langdon, to solve not only the murder of Sage's friend and mentor, but also a smuggling ring. All while fighting the attraction they have to each other. This is a captivating and enjoyable read which draws you in as more pieces of the puzzle are discovered. I loved the interaction between the hero and heroine and those around them, which created a world with plenty of scope for future adventures. I will most certainly be reading more by Robyn Rychards in future.  Highly recommended!

 

 

 

The Warrior's Runaway Wife  by Denise Lyn

 

The notorious Lord of Roul……must take her as his bride!

 

Lady Avelyn flees an unwanted betrothal to an elderly warlord only to be hunted down and returned to King David’s court by fearsome Elrik, Lord of Roul, a legendary warrior with a heart of ice—and a kiss of fire.

 

And now Avelyn is bound to Elrik—and his bed—when Elrik is commanded to wed her instead!

 

Rated: 4 Pink Hearts       Reviewed by: Jill

 

Lady Avelyn had a sheltered, restricted lifestyle, raised by a jilted mother and not recognized by her father. Who could blame her for running away when she's betrothed to an elderly man seeking his third wife, a man she'd never met before? Elrik is sent to find the runaway and bring her back, but ends up with her as his own wife instead! While his dark past leads him to be resistant to take her as his wife, they find each other irresistible, which leads to a rising sexual tension that plays out well. While the dialogue can feel stilted—a common problem when selling medieval stories to modern day readers—the book flowed well from scene to scene and kept me turning the page. The tension between Elrik and Avelyn was immediate and perfectly paced. While I'm not often fond of the naive, innocent, no education or experience virgin type romances, this one is well done and it did not deter me from wanting to know more about Avelyn and Elrik's journey. An enjoyable, easy read.

 

 

What are you reading this month? Have you recently read a book you think everyone should hunt down? Let us know in the comments or join the PHS community on Social Media using #amreading And authors, if you want us to review your book, we are now open to September submissions! You can check out the guidelines here.

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