Thursday, April 24, 2014

Mini Reviews: Hope Ignites + Happily Ever After

HOPE IGNITES
Hope #2
Jaci Burton
Adult Contemporary Romance
304 pages
Jove
Available now
Source: Finished copy from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Logan McCormack likes his isolated life on the ranch, until a movie crew starts filming there. When actress Desiree Jenkins blows into his life, she wrecks it harder than the Oklahoma winds with her brutal honesty and soft touch. Des knows this is a temporary stay, but she loves the open freedom of the land, and for the first time in her life, Des feels like she might have found a place she can call home, with a man she might be falling in love with. But Logan’s heart is tougher than the soil beneath them—can she convince him that they belong together?

MY THOUGHTS
Hope Ignites is a fun and sexy reverse-Cinderella story (of sorts) wherein a gruff, set-in-his-ways rancher gets amusingly knocked off-kilter by a no-nonsense Hollywood starlet. Desiree, or Des as she prefers to be called, is initially a bit tricky, her openness with regard to what she wants from Logan coming across as pushy when she continuously tries to goad him into action by making references to them begin naked together, but once they do cross that line she quickly becomes the highlight of the story. She’s nothing if not completely honest with Logan at every turn, game playing something she has very little interest in and even less time for given she’s on location for only a few short months.

Whereas Des lays everything on the table from page one, Logan is much more reserved and so thoroughly convinced that no one could possibly love ranch life as much as he does that he's the one responsible for much of the push and pull in their relationship. Because Des is so anti-games however, she calls Logan on his behavior every single time, bringing a smile to our faces as we long to hug her for being who she is. Logan, to his credit, is not one to stew in his own righteousness, and after his temper quickly flares it dies right back down and he makes sincere, heartfelt apologies. The two of them together are cute and flirty, and their love scenes are as steamy as readers might expect from Ms. Burton, making Hope Ignites a quick and enjoyable escape from reality.

Rating: 4/5
 


Find Jaci:


HAPPILY EVER AFTER
Elizabeth Maxwell
Adult Contemporary Romance-ish
336 pages
Touchstone/Simon & Schuster
Available now
Source: Finished copy from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
At forty-six, Sadie Fuller’s life isn’t exactly romantic. A divorced, overweight, somewhat sexually frustrated mother of an eleven-year-old, she lives in the suburbs, shops the big box stores, makes small talk with her small-minded neighbors, and generally leads a quiet life. But while her daughter is at school, or when Sadie is up late at night, she writes erotic fiction under the name KT Briggs.

Then, during a routine shopping trip, Sadie runs into someone familiar…too familiar, in fact. She encounters an incredibly handsome man exactly like the one in her imagination—and her latest novel. Is Aidan Hathaway really one of her characters? And if so, what is he doing in Target? As Sadie tries to negotiate this strange new world, her eyes begin to open to romantic possibilities in places she never dreamed of looking... places where Happily Ever After might not be so far-fetched after all


MY THOUGHTS
While labeled a contemporary romance, Happily Ever After is more a genre unto itself, beautifully combining romantic and magical elements with a hilariously realistic heroine, and eschewing a traditional, predictable route to its titular end in favor of something a little different. In the beginning we get snippets from Sadie’s latest novel, a book with a more typical sweet and innocent heroine who falls quickly and easily for the commanding presence of an overwhelmingly beautiful businessman. While the length of these snippets is a touch frustrating given we’re instantly charmed by Sadie and want to return to her, they do prove vital in setting up the explanation for how Aidan suddenly finds himself in Sadie’s world.

The contrast between Lily (Sadie’s heroine) and Sadie is glaringly apparent in the opening chapters, Lily’s naivete making Sadie’s smart mouth and straightforward approach to life and love absolutely refreshing. Though we might expect the magical twist surrounding Aidan’s arrival in the “real” world to follow a standard romance novel path once he meets Sadie, we should have known just from our short time with her that she would not be one to get caught up in romantic craziness. She’s honest with herself and those around her, and she stands gorgeously on two feet in this story without anyone of the male persuasion necessary to prop her up. That’s not to say she’s not surrounded by a solid cast of secondary characters–because she is–but Sadie is a true delight in this story and the main reason the pages turn with such speed. I will definitely be on the lookout for more from the witty and entertaining Ms. Maxwell.

Rating: 4/5
 

Find Elizabeth:


These books were sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

34 comments:

  1. Oh like a reverse Cinderella story? It's fun to have a story like that! I don't think I ever tried a book like that so I'm curious. I was also curious to see reviews about the second book because it intrigues me and it's nice to see it's something different, in its own genre. It's great like that.

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    1. A little bit! She's all gorgeous and famous and he's much more blue-collar, but she doesn't have a massive ego and I loved the two of them together:)

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  2. Aw, these both sound adorable! I do love Jaci Burton, even though the random dog on that cover make me snort. And how can I write myself up a hero? I need this answer.

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    1. Right? *opens Word document and starts writing*

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  3. I haven't had much luck with Burton in the past, but I've yet to read Maxwell and her novels sounds wonderful, especially the fact that they're nearly a genre of their own. I'll definitely have to pick this one up, so thanks for putting it on my radar, Jenny!

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    1. I really liked that it was a straight up contemporary for the most part but it had this one fantastical element which was really fun. It was a different read for me which I enjoyed:)

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  4. OK Hope Ignites sounds like so much fun. I love the sound of Des. She seems like such a hilarious character. :) I love that she's the one who makes references about being naked with the love interest. :D

    Oh and I've had my eyes on Happily Ever After for some time now. I'm happy to hear that you enjoyed it as well. I'm going to have to grab a copy from the library.

    Lovely reviews, Jenny!

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    1. Once Des stopped propositioning him I thoroughly enjoyed her. She pushed too hard for me in the beginning (but that could be because I'm WAY more reserved and don't have the balls to just put myself out there the way she does), but I loved her after they got together the first time:)

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  5. These both sound like great reads Jenny. I definitely want to check out the Burton book, I have yet to try any of her work.

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    1. I enjoy her books Ali! I still have a lot of her backlist to read, so I'm excited:)

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  6. I have yet to read to something by Jaci Burton. I know her covers are HOT and need to read one soon.

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    1. She does have the BEST covers. Her torso's don't need heads:)

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  7. I think the first book sounds fantastic! And more books go on my TBR list . . . ;)

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    1. I know. Everyday more books go on because of blogger recommendation. It's a hard life we lead ;-)

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  8. While the second book sounds a bit too fluffy for my tastes in contemporary, the first book sounds like such a winner! Logan sounds irresistible! Great mini reviews, girl!

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    1. I actually think you would like Happily Ever After Melissa! It's not really fluffy at all - Sophie's about as real as they come. It's not a dark read by any means, it's just a more blunt type of romance which was fun:)

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  9. I really enjoyed Happily Ever After and we rated it the same. It was different and quirky. I tried a Burton novella at Christmas and it was really meant for fans of the series. I want to try her again..what book/series do you recommend I start with?

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    1. I think you read a Play by Play novella right? I would start at the beginning of that series. The second book, Changing the Game, is my favorite, but you need to meet Liz in book one to really understand what happens in book two. This series is definitely erotic contemporary romance though, just a heads up:)

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  10. Hope Ignites is right up my alley. I always enjoy a d steamy romance to escape from reality with. This is one the genre that I love, you don't have to think to read it. It's and the two people who are falling in love. Especially on a nice summer's eve we are having at the mo! Lovely review, Jenny! :)

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    1. YES EMMA! Sometimes I need a fun adult romance. I love YA, but it's nice to have a little variety:)

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  11. I'm not very much in the mood for reading romance as of late, but Happily Ever After sounds like a lot of fun!
    Great reviews, Jenny!

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    1. It was fun Pili! Not something I would have normally picked up, but I'm so glad I had the opportunity to do so!

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  12. I love the covers for Jaci Burton's books, but that poor dog seems out of place. I was expecting a horse in the background being a ranch and all. I almost picked up Happily Ever After at the library but put it back because my arms were going to fall out of my body with my huge stash so I'll pick it up at my next run. Great reviews, Jenny!

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    1. There are dogs at least in the story, so he's not just there without there being a single dog in the book:) But yes, I think the cover would have worked just as well without him. Let us just focus on that lovely cover model ;-)

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  13. The plot of Happily Ever After sounds so fun! If only the fictional characters I love would become real ... shenanigans would ensue!

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  14. I so rarely read contemporary romance, but when I do, I want it to be both fun and sexy, just like Hope Ignites. And Happily Ever After seems just different enough to be memorable and entertaining, which is all one can ask.
    I'm glad you had such luck with both these books and I'm definitely putting them on my list.
    Fabulous minis, Jenny!

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  15. Both books look like fun. I think I am leaning more toward Happily Ever After because I like the funny.

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  16. Oh, hello beautiful man torso. These both sound good!

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  17. Totally out of my genre but both sound fun. The second is probably more something I would want to read. But great review!

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  18. I agree, Hope Ignites was a wonderful quick escape from reality, and I appreciated that the back and forth never became frustrating. Jaci Burton does know how to write some steam! Wonderful mini's Jenny! :)

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  19. I've been waiting for Happily Ever After to come out since I read it's blurb months ago! I pictured it as more of a chick lit than contemporary, either ways, I'm so glad that you enjoyed it. I'm very interested in knowing the secret behind the guy's arrival, that has to be bigger than just a mere coincidence! As for Jaci Burton, I had a miss with one of her books, so I'm hesitant to give it another try. Though I really like the reverse-Cinderella storyline :) Awesome reviews, Jenny!!!

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  20. These both sound like such fun, romantic reads! I love that Des doesn't put up with games, and that the romance is steamy. And I'm so glad to hear you liked Happily Ever After! I've read so many good reviews for that one, I'm dying to try it. Lovely minis! :-)

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  21. You can never miss with Jaci Burton if you want to read a great and sweet romance.

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  22. Ooohhh Both of these look good! I've gotten a little obsessed with rancher/western romances recently. Something about those guys is sexy. Though I have to say that this book cover makes it look like the dog is the love interest in this one. A good pick for Mary's cover post. The second looks funny. Love the idea of a romantic hero coming to life.

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