Sweet Rivalry by K. Bromberg
Ryder Rodgers had a plan.
He was going to stride into the conference room, do the required song and dance over the next five days, and win the biggest contract of his career. But when he walked in and heard the voice of one of his competitors, all his plans were shot to hell.
Harper Denton. She was always on top. In college. First in their class. Always using every advantage to edge him out to win the coveted positions. The only one who could beat him. His academic rival. More like a constant thorn in his side. And his ego’s.
When he heard her voice, he was brought back to years before. To the bitter taste of being second best. But the woman who meets his gaze is nothing like the drab wallflower he used to know. Hell no. She was all woman now: curves, confidence, and staggering sex appeal. And no doubt, still brilliant.
The fact that she’s gorgeous and bright won’t distract him. This time, Ryder’s determined to be the one on top. But not if Harper can help it.
Ryder and Harper knew the score from the very beginning. They’re enemies. Their heads and skills crashed and the two of them really wanted to kill each other. Until that kiss happened when they were in college after Harper won the debate with Ryder.
Years later, Harper is back from New York where she was accused of something really nasty (sleeping with the boss so she gets the position–and not because she’s good at her job) and ready to revive her career through this confidential project she’s bidding. With Ryder, her only enemy, no less.
I love a good slow-burn romance book and this was the case in Sweet Rivalry. Both characters really knew how to put up a good fight while ignoring the powerful pull between them. Harper was determine to win this project to prove to everyone she doesn’t have to sleep with the higher ups to get the job done. And Ryder who’s more than ready to prove to Harper that this is his turf and he’ll make sure that it’ll his signature on the contract when the bidding ended. Both of them were really bright, hardworking and sexy as hell. No surprise in how hot the book was.
While I really liked K. Bromberg’s writing here, the internal monologue of the characters were too much for my taste. Like the majority of the story was listening to their inner battles to win the bid or have sex. There wasn’t that much of “rivalry” that happened which was a letdown for me considering the characters have a lot of potential for a round or two of intense verbal lashing. Just when I thought there would be more, it was upsetting for the book to end at 91% when it felt like there should be more.
Overall, I think Sweet Rivalry is well-written but the whole enemies-to-lovers trope needs an emphasis for it stand out from the rest. I hope to see more of Ryder and Harper, though!
If You Were Mine by Melanie Harlow
Theo MacLeod wasn’t supposed to be the one.
Tall, dark and handsome suits me just fine, but the cocky grin, know-it-all attitude, and mammoth ego? No thanks. I only hired him so I wouldn’t have to sit at the singles table again. It was just pretend.
He wasn’t supposed to kiss me.
My heart wasn’t supposed to pound.
We weren’t supposed to spend the night together—the hottest night of my life.
One night turns into a snowed-in weekend away, and even the blizzard of the century can’t cool the fire between us. I can’t get enough—of his smile, of his body, of the way he makes me feel.
We’re nothing alike. He’s a daredevil, and I’m a nervous Nellie. He’s a drifter, and I want to put down roots. He’s an opportunist with a checkered past, and I’m a Girl Scout volunteer.
But none of it matters when I’m in his arms.
I know he’s made mistakes. I know his wounds are deep, and he doesn’t trust easily. I know he doesn’t believe he could ever be enough to make me happy, but he could.
All he has to do is stay.
Well this has been a very hard book to read and finish; I almost DNF.
The premise was very promising, I swear, that’s why I requested it. Lonely single woman falls for deeply wounded man. Fake dating.
After around 14%, Claire, the heroine, got on my nerves really quickly. She’s single, has to attend a co-teacher’s wedding (whom she’s not even very close with) therefore she has to have a date or she’d have to endure seating on the “singles table” which she’s had enough of. Okay, so there’s nothing really wrong with hiring a fake date but the fact that you had to attend a wedding of a person you’re not even close with? And therefore please everyone especially that not-so-special? Uhm, no. Aside from that, Claire’s character was so weak; it’s annoying. She liked to throw pity parties upon herself more times than I can count. (Her sister who’s her complete opposite, selling her art, flying, being single.) She’s always doubting herself and her lack of confidence was tiring.
Theo wasn’t so far behind. AKA Fred, his fake dating name. He was super creepy because he read Claire so well already when he first saw her for their client meeting. They haven’t met yet, FFS. He was tolerable, at least during the beginning of the book, but after he left Claire for like twice already, I wasn’t really sure if I’d like him.
Yes, both characters have a complex past and this could’ve helped for the overall impact of the book but it was not done well. The characters have too much internal monologues that were repetitive. The dialogue was dull and lacking that emotional punch that I’ve known for this author’s work. There was something wrong with the pacing that the moments that should’ve been longer were cut short and vice-versa. The grovelling was disappointing because it’s too easy to predict and very underwhelming. I really thought Claire would at least make Theo work for it hard but nope, no balls still. Since she is Claire, a nurturing kind of woman that even when she’s been hurt twice, thrice by the man she loves, it’s fine. *rolls eyes* *insert doormat heroine gif here*
I’m usually a fan of Melanie Harlow’s books so I’m hoping her next books to be better than this. This was very unlikely of her and I feel so sorry that this one didn’t work for me.
For His Eyes Only by Lexi Blake
A night he can’t forget
Five years ago, Nick Markovic found himself consumed by his quest for vengeance. The one time he managed to find peace was in the arms of Hayley Dalton. Being with her was like bathing in sunlight, and he ached to feel that again, but he couldn’t. He gave his oath to Hayley’s cousin Desiree, his partner at McKay-Taggart and Knight, that he’d never let his darkness infect Hayley’s innocent world.
A spark she can’t put out
It was years before that Hayley offered everything she had to Nick. After that one amazing night, all she wanted was to be his forever. Unfortunately, Nick’s reaction was to walk away from her and never look back. The warm and caring man she’d discovered was gone, and after Des’s death, he’d only grown colder. But when Hayley finds herself in mortal danger, she’s forced to seek protection from the man who broke her heart.
A flame that threatens to consume them both
Haunted by the women he failed, Nick can’t allow himself to grow close to Hayley again. Running to stay ahead of the powerful forces that endanger their lives, they travel from the lush Garden in London to the glittering lights of Rio. As the threat against her becomes clearer, he realizes that to keep her safe he must confront the demons from his past, even if it costs him a future with the woman he loves.
I am a huge fan of military romance, men in uniform, the likes. That’s why when I read the blurb of the book and got lucky to read an early copy, I was so excited to get to it. Only it didn’t live up to my expectations.
This book is the 13th in the series and it stands alone. It’s about Nick and his love interest Hayley, who’s the cousin of his now-dead-ex, Des. Nick and Des work as spies and were in an open relationship. Des convinced Nick to let Hayley go because he’s no good for her and because Des had an intel about the death of Nick’s sister, whom he’s avenging. So that leaves poor Hayley and her broken, naive heart.
Now, I wasn’t really a fan of the dead ex trope especially if said ex had brought a lot of trouble in the plot which could’ve been a potential actually, if she wasn’t dead. But she was and the book felt like it revolved around her dealings in the past that’s now showing up and going after Hayley.
Hayley, for her character as an academic professor, was just too frustrating, too annoying, very childish to me. I knew I wouldn’t like her the moment she was introduced in the book and it was only just the opening of the story.
I wouldn’t say I liked Nick either. Yes, I loved how protective he got because the love of his life, even when he was the one who got away, was in danger. But something didn’t add up to his character. Like the BDSM stuff. It didn’t feel like him. It was like they were two different people (two Nicks) and they didn’t mesh well at all.
I had a really hard time finishing the book because I got bored so many times I had to put it down (I almost DNF!) and move on to my next ones. The story was kind of a drag, lacked that adrenaline high that I loved in this type of romance and there wasn’t really much romance going for the two of them. It was overpowered by the action (or the lack thereof).
It was fun to know about the other characters, though. Though they’re a huge bunch and I felt like lost sometimes, they were entertaining to say the least.
Overall, had the book did not focus on the past much less with a dead character who’s done a lot of things in the story (so much for being dead–I know), I think it could’ve worked. I’m convinced with a trope like this one, it is so not for me.