Showing posts with label Kathleen O'Reilly. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kathleen O'Reilly. Show all posts

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Contemporary Minis: Sarah Mayberry, Victorial Dahl and more...

Happy Sunday! I hope all who celebrated Thanksgiving had a wonderful long weekend! I certainly did. Today I've grouped four recent contemporary romance reads from Harlequin and am sharing them via mini-impressions -- two recent releases and two older ones. The grades range from B+ to B- so they all turned out to be enjoyable reads for different reasons.


All They Need by Sarah Mayberry

I really enjoy Sarah Mayberry's contemporary romances, but I was hesitant to read All They Need because well... it deals with Alzheimer's and that kind of hits home. However, Mayberry seems to explore these serious subjects with sensitivity and in the end that's what changed my mind. It was an emotional read for me and of course that touch of realism hit me hard, but the romance balanced it out. That's what Mayberry does so well.

Mel and Flynn's romance develops nice and slow. Flynn is a heck of a guy. At times I thought he was too perfect, but that's not necessarily true. I think it's good that he shows his self-absorbed side at the beginning because for the rest of the story, he's pretty much understanding, sweet, passionate and loving. Mel? Well, Mel has been traumatized by her marriage and the psychological abuse her ex-husband dished out during all that time. She's not ready for a long term relationship, and although she allows passion to rule her relationship with Flynn, her heart and head are another matter. That becomes the real conflict between them. Lack of trust and real emotion. I had a couple of issues with this romance, mainly to do with Mel's change of heart and unseen character growth. However overall, I found this to be another solid contemporary romance by Ms. Mayberry. (Harlequin, November 1, 2011): Grade B


Real Men Will (Donovan Brothers Brewery #3) by Victoria Dahl

I liked Eric Donovan when I first met him in Good Girls Don't. I know... I know... he was tough on the kids (and kids they were, and to me they still are at the end of this series if you go by their immature and self-centered regressive behavior), but to me both those kids needed a good kick in the butt. True, he didn't always handle things correctly, but then when taking into consideration the circumstances he did the best he could and should have been admired for it. His siblings didn't really seem to appreciate Eric's position and that was a real shame. But anyway... enough about the frustrating sibling relationship and on to the romance.

I was happy that Eric found himself a woman, and Beth was definitely good for him. Their relationship began as a one night stand based on a lie, and later on continued as a steamy and sensual sexual relationship between adults that slowly developed into more. These two people had baggage and they both had to struggle to make a complex relationship a success, so as it turned out it was even sweeter when at the end it did. This was a highly enjoyable contemporary for me because I really liked both central characters and their romance. (HQN Books, October 25, 2011): Grade B+


I also read two contemporary category romances that are older releases, but turned out to be quite fun! The first one is Sex, Straight Up by Kathleen O'Reilly (Blaze #388), the second book in the Those Sexy O'Sullivan's trilogy and Daniel O'Sullivan's story. I was really surprised at how good and sexy this story turned out and I liked it more than the first book. Why? Well, mainly because Daniel is a widower still grieving for his wife who died during the World Trade Center attacks on 9/11 and he was so reluctant to let her go. However, in this book (as opposed to the first one where the male was the only reason for my grade) the female character, Catherine Montefiore, made a difference and provided balance. She turned everything around and made this story really work for me. I found this one to be a sexy, emotional and satisfying read. (Harlequin, April 1, 2008): Grade B


The other book is By the Book by Nancy Warren (Blaze #85). Now this one was fluffy, fun and just what I needed to read at the time. Shari decides she's going to have a hot date and maybe a night with the hunky downstairs neighbor, but when she sees that he sent for a book with the title "Sex for Total Morons" she changes her mind. Luke is not about to let her, so he asks her to help him get through part of the book, and hmm.. she becomes his tutor -- just for the first few chapters. Riiiight! Of course, we all know who wrote the book, yes? This one turned out to be a book where characters have lots of preconceived ideas on all sides, with lots of fun dialogue, funny situations and sexy circumstances. As I said above, fluffy, fun and read at just the right moment. (Harlequin, May 1, 2003): Grade B-

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Review: Shaken and Stirred by Kathleen O'Reilly

As a student and part-time bartender in Manhattan, Tessa Hart has found that a succession of roomies and cramped apartments are necessary evils in her life. Until she's out on the street and Gabe O'Sullivan, her mentor, boss and certified babe-magnet, steps in.

Any other woman would die to share his apartment--not to mention his bed--but Tessa's determined that they should stay just friends. The fiercely independent mixologist has to prove to their skeptical coworkers at Prime--the O'Sullivans' hot Manhattan bar--that the arrangement is strictly hands-off! But Tessa has trouble adhering to her own "no touching" rule when the actual sharing of close quarters day and night leaves her shaken and stirred....
Oh boy! This book has one of the best male protagonists around. Gabe O'Sullivan is one of those hot, sexy, sweet, understanding, lovable guys that are just total keepers, in and out of bed.

Tessa and Gabe are friends. They've been friends ever since Tessa hit New York City after a disastrous affair left her homeless and jobless in Florida and she decided that Manhattan was the place for her. Gabe gave Tess her first job as a bartender at Prime -- his family's bar -- and has always been there for her with words of encouragement, advice and a shoulder to cry on. Although Gabe is a gorgeous piece of eye candy, Tess sees him as the only dependable man she knows not as someone she would date.

Gabe is a happy man who has everything he wants out of life. His bar Prime is successful and he's about to expand to make it even better. He's single and has no problems finding women when he wants them, plus his two brothers are there to help him if or when he needs them. His only preoccupation seems to be his friend Tessa who is in trouble again. Her roommate bailed out on her and with five days to find an apartment with a roommate, she's about to go on the streets. He's not about to let his friend become homeless, especially since he has an extra room at his apartment. But when Gabe's naughty brother Sean O'Sullivan starts a bet at the bar assuring everyone that these two won't be able to keep their hands off each other, the long-time friends begin to see each other in an entirely different light.

I love the premise of this story, the friends to lovers trope and I absolutely fell in love with Gabe, there's no question about that. He not only gives Tess a place to live, but once the two of them do have their first hot sexual encounter and Tess freaks out, he gives her understanding and goes along with all of her fantastical requests. As the story goes along and Tess makes more and more unreasonable requests of Gabe, even after he tells her that he loves her, he still gives his lover and friend the benefit of the doubt along with passion, love and understanding. He's a keeper all the way, but... Tessa? I had a few problems with Tessa.

Tessa, Tessa, Tessa... what was wrong with you? I wanted to shake her. She begins as a likable character with possibilities then slowly deteriorates. Tessa is scared because of her past relationship, and for her it's all about making it on her own. Which is fine and dandy, except that she goes far in her quest, blindly too far in my opinion, to gain this independence as she lies and manipulates her friend and lover to get there. Although Tessa comes to the right conclusions by the end, I'm afraid that by then she was not a favorite.

What saved this book for me? Well, Gabe. Gabe and the fact that as O'Reilly is developing the relationship between the protagonists, there's in-depth character development. She also includes some intensely hot sexual scenes throughout the story, plus the other sexy O'Sullivans are woven into the plot, giving the story depth and making it tough to put the book down. The story gave Gabe his happy ending and I was glad for him, although I'm not ashamed to say that I wish he'd made Tessa suffer... at least a tini-tiny little bit before the end.

I have the other two books of the series in my TBR thanks to Tabitha who sent them to me, and I'm really looking forward to reading them. Despite my troubles with Tessa as a character, I can tell you that O'Reilly writes one sexy Blaze!

Category: Contemporary Romance (Category)
Series: Those Sexy O'Sullivans
Publisher/Release Date: Harlequin Blaze, March 1, 2008
Source: Received this book from Tabitha
Grade: B

Visit Kathleen O'Reilly here.

Shaken and Stirred, Book 1
Sex Straight Up, Book 2
Nightcap, Book 3