Tag Archives: susan elizabeth phillips

Take a Chance on Me

Take a Chance on Me by Jennifer Dawson 

Take a Chance on Me (Something New, #1)Description: Gorgeous runaway brides. . .

When Maddie Donovan runs out on her high school sweetheart moments before walking down the aisle, she ends up at a bar in the small town of Revival, Illinois, with only the wedding dress on her back, fifty dollars to her name, and her “good girl” reputation in tatters. Not ready to return to Chicago and face the music, she accepts hot bartender Mitch Riley’s offer to stay at his place. But sharing such close quarters is driving Maddie insane with desire.

Always drink for free. . .

Mitch thinks he’s seen it all—until Maddie strides into his bar in full wedding attire and downs three shots of whiskey. Though the gorgeous knockout seems tough as nails, he also senses her vulnerability. With a troubled past of his own, Mitch has no interest in ties of any kind—yet he can’t help falling for Maddie. Now he’s got to find a way to convince her to give love a second chance.

Review:This is 3rd book I’ve read this month with the heroine named Maddie or Madeline. And the hero’s name is Mitch. Hmm… I wonder how many romance couples have names starting with the same first letter… That would be an interesting study. Anyway, barely two chapters into Dawson’s The Name of the Game, I knew I was going to read this book. Grace and James’ story was so good that I wanted to continue with the characters. Plus, it was obvious that their dislike, cough, attraction, had stemmed from earlier books. Take A Chance on Me is the first book in the series. It follows Maddie Donavon as she runs away from her wedding and into Mitch’s dive bar. Honestly, runaway bride stories aren’t my favorite trope. Despite being a devout romance reader, I have priced feelings about the price of weddings and while Maddie is climbing out the window, I’m calculating how much money was wasted on that wedding. Although, this book did remind me of Rachel Gibson’s first Chinooks book, Simply Irresistible and Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ The Great Escape, with the runaway bride and the guy she hooks up with. Okay, enough cynicism, let’s get down to the bones of the story.

What I liked most about this story is that is it about discovering yourself. Maddie’s entire adult life had been shaped by a horrible car accident she had been in as teenage. She lost her sense of self under the guilt and the pressure of a caring family and an overbearing boyfriend. Growing up she had been a rebel, a troublemaker but she stripped herself of that freedom after the accident. When she runs out on the wedding, she decided to become her own person, whoever that may be. This conflicted with her budding relationship with Mitch. She knows she needs to stand on her own two feet but she also wants Mitch and he wants her to need him.

While Maddie was embarking on her path to self-discovery, the hero, Mitch, was as well. He had been a big-time Chicago lawyer who, through bad choices and worse family ties, was in disgrace. He left everything in Chicago and was running a dive bar in Revival. Through his relationship with Maddie, and a little behind his back, Mitch was forced to face his demons and determine what he wanted to do with his life.  There was classic romance novel miscommunication as both tried to solve each other’s problems. And wow, Jennifer Dawson is now on the top of my list for steamy sex scenes. The chemistry between Mitch and Maddie was sizzling. There’s were some intense scenes and really drove home the relationship between the couple.

Rating: 4 out of 5. 


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Filed under Contemporary Romance, Reviews, Romance Novels

Top Ten Books That Made Me Cry


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week they post a new Top Ten list and everyone is welcome to join. This week’s theme is a freebie so I decided to do “Top Ten Books That Made Me Cry”. I’m one of those people who adores books that make me cry so I figured, why not.

  1. Midnight Pleasures by Eloisa James Midnight Pleasures (Pleasures, #2)

    This book makes me sob. Not just cry. Sob. I’m actually not the biggest fan of this book’s plot but whenever I pick it up, I know the emotions I will get from it and that’s why I keep coming back to it.

  2. Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever by Julia QuinnThe Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever (Bevelstoke, #1)

    This is one of my favorite Julia Quinn books. I think that’s because most of her books are so happy that I was knocked off my feet by the emotions in this one. Case in point, my other favorite Julia Quinn is Romancing Mister Bridgerton, which has similar themes but leaves me grinning the entire book.

  3. The Bollywood Bride by Sonali DevThe Bollywood Bride

    I just read this book recently and I’m pretty sure I sobbed from start to finish.

  4. Dream a  Little Dream by Susan Elizabeth PhillipsDream a Little Dream (Chicago Stars, #4)

    A lot of Susan Elizabeth Phillips books make me cry but I decided to include the two that make me cry the most.

  5. Kiss An Angel by Susan Elizabeth Phillips Kiss an Angel

  6. Styxx by Sherrilyn KenyonStyxx (Dark-Hunter, #12)

    Oh god. There aren’t words for how much this book makes me cry. It doesn’t matter what I’m in the middle of doing, just the thought of the scene where Styxx is poisoned and dreaming of Bethany and their son. I’m tearing up right now just typing that.

  7. Acheron by Sherrilyn KenyonAcheron (Dark-Hunter, #8)

    I’m still emotionally scarred from that book.

  8. Blue-Eyed Devil by Lisa KleypasBlue-Eyed Devil (Travises, #2)

    This is my favorite Lisa Kleypas book and I cry through the first 100 pages over what Haven has to suffer through.

  9. Enslaved by Virginia Henley Enslaved

    The scene in the arena where Marcus has to send Diana back. Sobs.

  10. Heart of Obsidian by Nalini SinghHeart of Obsidian (Psy-Changeling, #12)

    This book tore my heart out and then pieced it back together.


Filed under Romance Novels, Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Books That Would Be On Your Syllabus If You Taught Romance Novels 101


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week they post a new Top Ten list and everyone is welcome to join. This week’s theme is”Top Ten Books That Would Be On Your Syllabus If You Taught Romance Novels 101″

  1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

    Pride and Prejudice The most classic romance novel of all time and the one of the genre founders.

  2. These Old Shades by Georgette Heyer

    These Old Shades (Alastair, #1)
    To my everlasting shame, I’ve never read Georgette Heyer but this book of hers was recommended and her contributions to the genre are extremely important.

  3. Skye O’Malley by Bertrice Small (Bodice Ripper)
    Skye O'Malley (O'Malley Saga, #1)

    I thought about going with The Flame and the Flower but I never actually got through that book. Skye O’Malley, I did read, and can serve as both a representative for old school bodice ripper romances and as a contrast to the evolution of romance novels over the last 20 years.

  4. Dangerous Books for Girls: The Bad Reputation of Romance Novels Explained by Maya Rodale

    Dangerous Books For Girls: The Bad Reputation of Romance Novels Explained: Expanded Edition
    This book is excellent for the history of romance novels and the negative reputation they have.

  5. Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase (Historical Romance)

    Lord of Scoundrels (Scoundrels, #3)
    Often viewed as the best romance novel, this book is a must!

  6. It Had To Be You by Susan Elizabeth Phillips (Contemporary Romance)

    It Had to Be You (Chicago Stars #1)
    Susan Elizabeth Phillips is the best of the best when it comes to contemporary romance!

  7. Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh (Paranormal Romance)

    Slave to Sensation (Psy-Changeling, #1)
    Nalini Singh shows the beauty of paranormal romance.

  8. Romancing Mr. Bridgerton by Julia Quinn (Historical Romance)

    Romancing Mister Bridgerton (Bridgertons, #4)One of the best historical romances, and one with an older heroine, that I have ever read!

  9. Magic Bites by  Ilona Andrews (Urban Fantasy)

    Magic Bites (Kate Daniels, #1)
    Nothing can beat the world-building in the Kate Daniels series!

  10. The Professional by  Kresley Cole (Erotic Romance)

    The Professional (The Game Maker, #1)
    I wanted to included a well-written erotic romance to show that not every erotica is Fifty Shades of Grey.


Filed under Romance Novels, Top Ten Tuesday

The Hotter You Burn

The Hotter You Burn (The Original Heartbreakers, #2)The Hotter You Burn by Gena Showalter

Description: Beck Ockley is ruthless in the boardroom…and the bedroom. He’s never been with the same woman twice, and vows he never will. With a past as twisted as his, meaningless sex keeps the demons at bay. His motto: One and done. No harm, no foul.

Harlow Glass is the most hated girl in town. The beautiful artist is penniless, jobless and homeless. When she sneaks into Beck’s home—her ancestral estate—for food, she’s shocked by his early return…and her immediate, sizzling and intense attraction to him.

For the first time in Beck’s life, he can’t get a woman out of his mind. All too soon, friendship blooms into obsession and he’ll have to break her heart…or surrender his own

**Warning- This review has spoilers! 

Review: About halfway through this book, tears streaming down my face, I realized something: I didn’t actually like the book I was reading, and crying over. Despite this, I finished the book, staying up a little too late on a work day. I then spent my entire commute into work the next morning trying to pinpoint what bothering me so much about this book. And it did bother me. I had read the novella and the first book of Showalter’s The Original Heartbreakers Series and really liked them. And the first book left me intrigued for Harlow and Beck’s story as well as the third book, West and Jessie Kay’s story. However, The Hotter You Burn left me questioning why I liked the first book and whether it would worth it to read the third. Honestly, I’m a fan of Showalter. I love her Lords of the Underworld Series, her Alien Huntress Series, and even her Atlantis Series, though I read it a while ago. I think that’s why I’m so surprised I didn’t like this book.

This book is mostly character driven. In terms of plot, not much occurs. Beck, as learned in the previous book, bought a house in Strawberry Valley, Oklahoma, with his two best friends. This house previously belonged to Harlow Glass and her family but Harlow lost the house after her mother died. Harlow was the town mean girl and basically everyone in the town hates her. She is homeless, jobless,broke and secretly camping on Beck’s land. They meet when Beck catches Harlow breaking into her former house and stealing a pie. The rest of the story revolves on Beck being attracted to Harlow, giving her job and a RV to live in. Harlow is trying to make amends with a town that hates her as well as wanting to create a home and stability, which totally goes against Beck’s One Night Stand policy.

Okay, so let me try to break down my issues with the book. Basically, it’s a lot of small things combined which put me off this book.

  1. Harlow’s life- We learn, in Harlow’s backstory, about why she was a mean girl in middle school and high school. However, halfway through high school, Harlow is injuried and home-schooled. Then, a time later, her mom dies and Harlow loses her house. That’s it. Harlow is presented as in her 20’s. What did she do between her injury in high school and her mom dying. Didn’t she get a job? Go to college? There’s a giant piece of her life, one which places her in the position she’s in at the beginning of the book, that is completely blank.
  2. Harlow’s job with Beck. Beck gives Harlow a job designing characters for video games. That’s fine, he’s seen her art work and knows she’s a good artist. But he essentially gives her his office at the company and moves into West’s. And then, when they break up, she’s basically fired and homeless again. So she moves back into the woods. Wtf
  3. Harlow and the Woods. Okay, I get the poverty plotline. But living in the woods because you won’t leave the town you grew up in, a town whose people actively hate you, seems a bit ridiculous. And when she goes back into the woods a second time, she has friends, somewhat, or at least people who might be willing to help her. But no, she goes back to living in the woods.
  4. Random odd things that Beck does- He sets up a trust for her early into the book and doesn’t tell Harlow- even after they break up and she moves back into the woods
  5. Beck the Man-Whore – I get the whole childhood sexual assault and friend-went-jail -and-its-partly-my-fault and abandonment by family thing but I’m not sure if that all justifies his fear of commitment. And if it does justify his fear of commitment, I’m not sure his and Harlow’s relationship is enough to get over that.
  6. How easily Harlow takes Beck back- this might be a preference thing but I really like when there’s a good grovel scene and when the heroine doesn’t automatically forgive the hero.

Honestly, I’m just not sure if I like the characters either as individuals or as a couple.

Despite my previous rant, there are pros to the book.

  1. It made me cry- Also personal preference but I’m a huge sucker for books that make me cry. I’m talking to you Midnight Pleasures and Kiss An Angel and Styxx and Blue-Eyed Devil. I’m fan of down-on-their-luck heroines. And I have to say, as many issues I had with this book, there were emotional, poignant scenes which bought my opinion of it back up.
  2. Chemistry- For as many problems I had with Beck and Harlow, both individually and as a couple, Showalter sure knows how to create chemistry between characters. Never did I doubt their chemistry, not for a minute.
  3. The negative side of small towns- I’ve been reading a lot of small town romances, i.e. Susan Mallery’s Fool’s Gold Series, and these books tend to present the positive side of small towns. It was a nice change of pace to see the humanity of Showalter’s Strawberry Valley, even if it was the negative side. It made the town feel more realistic.

Rating: 2 out of 5. I clearly had a lot of issues with the book and I’m not sure if I’m going to continue the series when the next book came out. But it also made me think. And cry. I really do have a soft spot for books that make me cry.

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Filed under Contemporary Romance, Reviews, Romance Novels

Romance Reading in Bryant Park

In addition to RWA last week, I also went to a romance reading in Bryant Park. Joyce Lamb was the moderator. She introduced and asked questions of the following authors:


Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Robyn Carr

Beverly Jenkins

Kristan Higgins

Meredith Wild

Elizabeth Hoyt

Each author read an excerpt from one of their books. After the reading, there was time for book-signing. Susan Elizabeth Phillips signed a copy of Heroes Are My Weakness for me.

Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Kristan Higgins

Kristan Higgins

And Kristan Higgins signed The Best Man.

I love Susan Elizabeth Phillips books. I can’t even count the amount of times I’ve cried reading Kiss an Angel. And Kristan Higgins books make me laugh my ass off. So meeting them was like a dream come true.


Filed under Booksigning, Personal

Audio-Books vs Books

Hi all.

I’ve been listening to audio-books on and off, for about five years.I started in high school, while driving my sister and me to school. We listened to Meg Cabot’s Heather Wells Series and Steve Berry’s Cotton Malone Series on our 20 minutes treks, to and from school. It was a nice way to bond over books and pass the time. But I never really thought about audio-books or whether they were better than regular books. I would just buy the physical copy of a book and take the audio out from the library.

Through out college, during the semesters I commuted, I would listen to romance novels on audio-books. The most notable were books from Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ Chicago Stars Series and Julia Quinn’s Just Like Heaven. During this time, I realized the impact of the narrator’s voice and diction on my enjoyment of the story. While I had really liked Just Like Heaven when I first read the book, the narrator’s voice was grating and piercing at times. As much as I liked the story, and to be honest, I’m a huge fan of Julia Quinn, I found myself wishing the audio-book would  end faster, just because I couldn’t stand the narrator’s voice.

Now that I’ve graduated college and moved on to my first adult job (scary, right? I’m still in denial. The real world is terrifying), I have a decent commute to work. I’m in the car for about 90 minutes each day. I’ve noticed that on average, audio-books are about 8 hours long. Unless you’re listening to War and Peace. I’m sure that’s easily 24 hours long. Never-mind, I just googled it. According to Amazon, an audio-book of War and Peace is 61 hours and 8 minutes long. Damn, that’s a long time. So far, most of the romance audio-books I’ve listened to are about 8 hours, which usually takes me about 5 days to finish. Look, see, I can do math. Nice to know my college degree and massive amounts of student loans are good for something.

Anyway, I find myself listening to audio-books pretty regularly. I started out listening to books I read already, albeit a long time ago. This is because I’m cheap (see aforementioned student loans) so I just take out audio-books from the library. (Resisting the urge to go on a tangent about how much I freaking love the library). I discovered audio-books are a nice way to revisit old characters and books that I knew I enjoyed but haven’t felt a burning desire to reread. The issue with audio-books is when I listen to new books. Then I find myself volunteering to drive places or forcing my passengers to listen to my audio-books with me. But really, how can they not appreciate having to listen to  Bet Me. It’s a gem! Seriously, who doesn’t laugh at Bet Me??

I have no self-control when it comes to romance novels and when I get caught up in a story, I binge-read. Binge-reading is hard to do for audio-books though. I’m partly afraid that one day I’m going to run out of gas because I sat in a parking lot listening to an audio-book….

My final verdict for audio-book vs books is I will always buy the physical book over the audio. While audio-books are great, especially for commutes, it’s probably better to not listen to new books on audio. Or at least new romance novels. I could probably listen to a new historical non-fiction book on audio and not want to waste my gas waiting to discover if Henry VIII executes Anne Boleyn or not. (Spoiler Alert: He does.)

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Filed under Audiobooks, Personal, Romance Novels