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Book Review: Damaged Goods by Talia Hibbert

25 Days of Book Reviews logo.

DAY 20

Cover of "Damaged Goods" by Talia Hibbert.
Image via Goodreads

Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
Series: Ravenswood #1.5
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: Second chances shouldn’t be this sinful.

Laura Burne‘s husband is a monster, her diamond ring is a trap, and her pregnancy is the push she needs to finally escape. She runs away seeking safety… and finds Samir Bianchi, her long-lost teenage sweetheart.

With his kind eyes and dirty smile, Samir’s still hot as hell—and he still treats Laura like a goddess, baby bump and all. The wild boy she spent one magical summer with is every inch a man, and he’s more than ready to care for her tiny family.

But Laura’s been keeping a secret Samir might never forgive. When she finally confesses, will he remain by her side? Or is this fairytale ending too good to be true?

 

Light blue text that says "Book Review" over a stem of while orchids.

This is a heavy story indeed but the mood is balanced well with lighter and steamy moments. You should definitely read the trigger warnings before the story begins (see 24/7 resources below).

Some parts were slower paced than others, but I was still interested. When Laura and Samir reunite it’s like they nearly fall back into place where they left off well decades ago and they clearly still have strong feelings for one another.

So it was just a matter of when Laura would tell Samir about the abusive marriage she escaped and watching as she slowly rebuilds herself after all she’s been through. Samir’s character felt more like the rock of the story to anchor Laura and the reader.

I like how stalwart and patient Samir is with Laura, and enjoyed his happy-go-lucky demeanor. I loved the part where Laura was brainstorming baby names.

The story was alright to me. I like Laura and Samir as a couple and the easy way they interact with each other. Some parts were hard to read and it broke my heart learning about what Laura went through. The ending and epilogue were very sweet though.

I would read the other books in this series because of how well the author writes characters and romance.

CW: descriptions of domestic abuse, intimate partner violence, child abuse, gaslighting


24/7 Support That’s Here For You

Women’s Aid
https://www.womensaid.org.uk
0808 2000 247 (24/7 helpline)

National Domestic Violence Hotline
thehotline.org
espanol.thehotline.org
1-800-799-7233
1-800-787-3224 (TTY)

Crisis Text Line
www.crisistextline.org
US and Canada – Text HOME to 741741
United Kingdom – Text HOME to 85258
Ireland – Text HOME to 50808

To Write Love On Her Arms
https://twloha.com/


More by Talia Hibbert

The Brown Sisters
Take A Hint, Dani Brown (#2)

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Book Reviews

Book Review: Rock Courtship by Nalini Singh

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance, Novella
Series: Rock Kiss #1.5
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: What happens when the Gentleman of Rock decides to play dirty?

A drummer for the hottest rock band on the planet, David has a single, powerful weakness: Thea, the band’s publicist and the woman who steals his breath away with her every move.

Only problem is, Thea doesn’t date clients–or musicians. Emotionally scarred by a cheating ex, she’s not about to risk her heart with a man who has groupies buzzing around him like flies. Even if his sexy smile ties her up in knots.

What she doesn’t know is that David is a one-woman man…and he’s madly in love with her. David’s determined to prove he’s worth the risk, and willing to court her, step by exquisite step. Thea’s about to discover just how long and hard this handsome drummer can play.

 

My Review: Rock Courtship was a quick friends to lovers novella that I enjoyed reading. Thea and David are well-rounded, likable characters with great backstories and a red-hot chemistry.

Thea is a boss publicist and co-business owner. She’s tough as nails, kind-hearted, and loyal, which is why her ex cheating on her was such a devastating blow. I can understand why she was very reluctant to be with David who is her client first and foremost.

David, rightly dubbed the “Gentleman of Rock,” is so cute and such a sweet guy. He has never cared for fame; he lives and breathes music. He’s more subdued than the rest of his bandmates in Schoolboy Choir (btw, great band name!) and “too boring” for paparazzi.

David has loved Thea for years but has respected that he’s technically her boss and was loyal to her prior relationship. It’s that respect and other endearing qualities that makes me love his character so much.

I wanted more from the plot. The parts where Thea and David are apart were somewhat slow going. But I loved their banter in the form of formal memos that they sent each other.

I liked how concurrent this story is with other books in the Rock Kiss series. I love the close familial relationships between characters related to each other or not. And I love the backstory of how the band came together.

I don’t often read novellas but I’m glad I read this one. Rock Courtship is a short but sweet addition to the Rock Kiss series that is worth the read.


More by Nalini Singh

Rock Kiss
Rock Hard (#2)

Categories
Book Reviews

Book Review: Booked for Christmas: A Short Story by Lily Menon

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance, Holidays
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: Novelist Sophia Hart (real name: Sophie Bartholomew-Kaur-Hughes, but try fitting that on a book cover) absolutely hates her loudest critic—Evan Wolfe, evil mastermind behind the Lone Wolfe book review column. They’ve never met, but Wolfe’s favorite pastime seems to be dumping on Sophie’s unapologetically happy, magical romances. Sophie, not one to be left behind, gets her revenge in her own ways (never annoy a writer in search of a villain).

When Sophie decides to throw a holiday party at her cabin, Wolfe is the last person on her mind. But the universe has a twisted sense of humor. Not only does Wolfe show up as someone’s plus one, but a massive snowstorm blows in, stranding them both alone together in Sophie’s cabin.

Over the next few days, Sophie begins to realize that Wolfe isn’t as odiously cynical a man as she’d originally thought. In fact, he’s kind of…sweet. And impossibly hot. But still, Sophie’s been hurt before and she has so much to lose. What she needs is one sure sign that she and Wolfe are meant to be together. Will Sophie and Wolfe get their Christmas miracle?

 

My Review: Booked for Christmas is an enemies to lovers holiday read that’s as cute as its cover art.

Sophie is a romance author (which I immediately loved) who loathes book critic Evan (the perfect opposition/rival) brash reviews. Sophie is an idealist while Evan is more pragmatic. Both are shocked to the core to find themselves at the same party. And so ensues some funny moments.

Being snowed in forces them to make conversation and learn more about each other. Their interesting backstories made me care more about them and hope for a happily ever after. Although we only get Sophie’s POV, there is an obvious attraction between based on what they talk about and the actions they take. Neither is who they thought they were on paper but so much more.

This was a very short but sweet romance story. Not only did I love the main characters but all the side characters we meet before the snowstorm. It didn’t feel rushed at all, which is great for a story that’s under 100 pages. I can’t help but wish it were longer so I can see Sophie and Evan’s relationship develop. I would totally read a full length novel about them!

Categories
Book Reviews

Book Review: #AllIWantForChristmas by Yesenia Vargas

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Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance, Novella, Holidays
Series: #BestFriendsForever #4.5
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: Five friends. Five Christmas wishes. Five chances for things to go horribly wrong.

With Christmas Eve just around the corner, the perfect Christmas is looking more impossible than ever. Ella’s prince charming is caught in a snowstorm. Lena is SO over the holidays, she should change her name to Scrooge. Harper’s a hundred dollars short of making ends meet for a family in need. Rey’s forever alone while Tori’s more wrapped up in balloon colors than her own boyfriend.

Will their first Christmas as friends end up being a giant flop, or will Harper prove to her friends that Christmas miracles happen in more than just Hallmark movies?

 

My Review#AllIWantForChristmas is a novella from Yesenia Vargas’s YA contemporary romance series, #BestFriendsForever. I have not read any of the books yet, but didn’t have too much trouble following the different POVs . 

It’s a nice holiday story featuring all the girls – Ella, Harper, Lena, Rey, and Tori – from the series. I liked that the conflicts are unique to each girl. The true meaning of Christmas and remembering what’s important is emphasized by those conflicts.

#AllIWantForChristmas is a light, sweet story that will put you in the Christmas spirit. There isn’t really any character growth but it’s still a likable novella.

Categories
Book Reviews

Book Review: Counting On You by Kelly Jensen

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Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance, MM Romance, LGBTQIA+ Romance, Short Story
Series: Counting, book 3
Rating: 4 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

Summary (via Goodreads):
Henry and Marc can’t seem to catch a break. They’ve had two disastrous dates—the first trapped in a car during a blizzard and the second locked in a basement—followed by nearly two months apart. Even though they work for the same firm, their relationship is held together by flying visits, phone calls, and text messages. A joint assignment in Washington DC might be more togetherness than they can handle, however.

Henry is still battling insecurity, and this assignment is too important to his career to mess up. Marc is committed. He’s falling for Henry and looks forward to having him permanently on his team and at his side. But the real test isn’t the assignment. When Marc finally lays his heart on the line, can he count on Henry to be there for him, in every way that matters? And can he do the same for Henry when Henry needs it the most?

 

Content Warning: Explicit sexual content.

My Review:
Everything you thought could go wrong for Henry and Marc does in this book – even more than being trapped somewhere. As business mixes with please, mistakes begin to pile high and you wonder if their relationship will survive.

Marc was too pushy with Henry. He let his insecurities cloud his judgment. I don’t think he truly grasped what it means to be in a same-sex relationship. Also, I don’t think he considers Henry’s feelings much in the decisions he makes in the first half of the story.

Henry lets his insecurities about himself and what could go wrong make his extremely paranoid. He is paranoid about if Marc is too good to be true.

It’s peculiar/interesting that after so many deep conversations that there would still be such strong doubts between them.

But I love their relationship because it’s so precious and true and real. Marc is confident and charismatic. Henry is laser-focused and funny. They fit together perfectly.

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Book Reviews

Book Review: Counting Down by Kelly Jensen

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Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance, MM Romance, LGBTQIA+ Romance, Short Story
Series: Counting, book 2
Rating: 4 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

Summary (via Goodreads):
It’s been a week since a Christmas Eve blizzard changed the course of Marcus Winnamore’s life. Plan A is now Plan B, and the first item on his new agenda is taking Henry Auttenberg on a date. They’ve been invited to a New Year’s Eve party, and Marc is counting down the hours until midnight… until he can kiss Henry in front of his colleagues and friends.

Things don’t quite work out to plan. Finding the elevator out of service, Marc and Henry check the stairs, only to choose the wrong door and become locked in the basement. Close quarters once again make for close conversation, and as they explore every avenue of escape, they also explore the deepening attraction between them. For Marc, this isn’t an experiment. Will he still feel that way when he has to admit to someone other than Henry that he’s gay?

 

Content Warning: Explicit sexual content.

My Review:
Henry and Marcus are trapped again; this time in a basement on the way to a New Year’s Eve party. As you can guess they have more deeper conversations about their pasts and how they fit together (being in an openly meaningful gay relationship). This story is just as good as the first. I’ve come to love Henry and Marcus more. And I liked getting to read new layers of who they are as individuals and together.

Categories
Book Reviews

Book Review: Counting Fence Posts by Kelly Jensen

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Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance, MM Romance, LGBTQIA+ Romance, Short Story
Series: Counting, book 1
Rating: 4 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

Summary (via Goodreads):
There are over two hundred thousand fence posts between Syracuse and Boston. Henry Auttenberg likes numbers—it’s his job—but he isn’t going to count them all, even if the view outside the rental car is less confounding than the driver, his attractive but oh so obnoxious colleague, Marcus Winnamore. It’s Christmas Eve, and Henry would much rather be home with his family. When the blizzard that grounded their flight forces them off the road, however, he’s stuck with Marc until the storm passes—or a plow digs them out.

As the temperature outside plummets, the atmosphere inside the car slowly heats up. Henry learns the true reason for Marc’s chilly distance—he’s not exactly straight… maybe… and he’s been fantasizing about Henry’s mouth, among other things. Confession laid out, Marc is all for sharing body heat… and more. Henry isn’t interested in being an experiment, but as the night and cold deepen, he could be convinced to balance certain risk against uncertain reward.

 

Content Warning: Explicit sexual content.

My Review:
Counting Fence Posts is a short read full of character growth between Henry and Marcus. They get stuck in a blizzard on some back road on Christmas Eve, forcing them into a tense, bleak situation. This unconventional circumstance allows them to get to know each other and then some.

I liked how Henry and Marcus’ relationship grows organically. They engage in real conversation for the first time. Both are two halves of the same whole. The author takes great care depicting their backgrounds and the internal struggles of someone LGBTQ. I’m really interested in seeing how their relationship will go because of their troubled pasts and present insecurities.