Monday, October 29, 2018

Isn't It Romantic?

Big Stick
Kelly Jamieson
Series: Aces Hockey, #7
Age/Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Loveswept
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
A brooding hockey hunk learns to embrace life—and love—from a single mom who takes the world one puck at a time.

Big move . . . Jodie's motto is "Don't wait for the perfect moment - take the moment and make it perfect." And that's just what she decides to do when she moves to Chicago with her two-year-old daughter. Now all Jodie needs is a place to live, and her best friend's boyfriend has just the answer.

Big stick . . . Nick Balachov has zero interest in socializing, partying, or flirting right now. It's not that he doesn't like women. He loves them. It's just that hockey, casual hookups, and hanging out at home are enough for him these days. Now Nick has a big problem - because the woman living in his empty coach house is a major distraction.

Big deal? The more Nick tries to keep his distance, the more Jodie needs him - around the house, that is. First he helps with the snowstorm, then the power outage. Nick even finds himself trying to impress her little girl. What the hell is wrong with him? Jodie represents everything Nick doesn't want. But maybe she's just what he needs. . . .
That's right - book 7, and I am still loving this series. In Big Stick, Jamieson gave me one of my favorite kind of heroes, the grumpy hero, and I really enjoyed watching Jodie help him reveal that heart of gold he had hidden for so long.

  • Jodie - a single mother by choice and mechanical engineer, who was busy building her own business. 
  • Nick - the resident anti-social member of the Aces, who appeared to only want to save old furniture, but was secretly nursing some serious pain. 

Jodie was new to Chicago, and looking for a place to live. Nick had an empty guest house. As a favor to Hallsy, Nick invited Jodie to live in his guest house, but opening his home to Jodie may have resulted in opening himself to her as well.


I have no idea why, but I love the grumpy heroes. Maybe it's because I like seeing people really have to work for their affections, or maybe it's because they do generous things without seeking attention for doing it. Whatever the reason, I really enjoyed seeing Jodie penetrate Nick's walls.

She was able to tap into a side of him, that he had been keeping under wraps for many years. She was able to get close, when he normally help people at arms length. She was able to get him to open up, and acknowledge his fears, thus, helping him free himself, in a way.

It was both heartwarming and heartbreaking watching Jodie make all this progress. Heartbreaking, because Nick had suffered so much in his past. Heartwarming, because it was gratifying to see him heal and take a step towards his future.

Nick and Jodie were great together. The physical connection was there, great chemistry, but I also thought there was a fantastic emotional connection between them. I am always amused, when the MCs are just "going to have some fun", because we all know that means they will fall for each other, and that happened here, but it was gradual. You saw lust turn to more as both Nick and Jodie became more invested in each other than originally anticipated.

My first Aces book was actually Hallsy's (I have since read them all), so I was happy that he shared a special bromance with Nick. If any of the Aces would be able to understand Nick's loss, it would be Hallsy, and Nick was lucky to have him in his corner. I greatly enjoyed their interactions, and I always like seeing that more sensitive side of men.

I also adored the interactions between Nick and Zyana, Jodie's daughter. Nick proclaimed he did not like kids, but his actions were very contrary to his words. Zyana was a cute little kid, and she was able to plow through Nick's barriers and get right to his heart. I definitely "awwwwed" quite a bit.

This book was about loss and dealing with that loss, but also about realizing that some loads are lighter when we allow others to help us shoulder it.


Another great Aces book, which was fun and emotional, and left me wanting even more of this series.

Crossing Double
Tamra Baumann
Series: Heartbreaker, #3
Age/Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Tamra Baumann
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Brent Keiser, a certified genius, and forensic accountant works for the FBI mostly because of their awesome retirement plan. Growing up homeless with a ditzy mother can make a guy be a little obsessive in the saving for the future department. But just once, he'd like to get out in the field, maybe actually fire a gun or chase after a bad guy like the other agents. Although, solving crimes with his calculator is statistically much safer, and he'd live to enjoy that house on the beach he saves for each payday.

Sara Chapman used to be a card-carrying member of the Hollywood rich kid pack, but after serving community service, she said goodbye to her spoiled friends. Seeing the plight of the homeless up close and personal gave her new direction. But that doesn’t deter the annoying paparazzi. Her parents were the famous ones, not her. Sara’s only recent claim to fame was for having the most embarrassing public break up in the history of the entire world. Unfortunately, they don’t give Oscars for those, so she is trying to keep her head down and to stay as far away from single men as possible.

But then Sara becomes unknowingly tangled up in Brent’s money laundering case against her father. When it becomes hard to tell the good guys from the bad, she turns to Brent for help. While on the run for their lives, the built, nerdy accountant with magnificent abs, transforms into her personal superhero. Opposites in almost every way, will Brent see her as his Kryptonite or his Lois Lane?
It was fun being back with the Botelli women, and if this was the last Heartbreaker book, Baumann gave this clan a nice little send off.

I was curious about Dani's younger sister. She was a little wild child, who made a few appearances earlier in the series, but I knew there was more to her than we had seen, and I was right. Sara was struggling to break free of the fame she earned just by being the offspring of two Hollywood stars. She had lived the shallow, party-girl life, and now she wanted, and was working toward, having more.

Brent was an undercover FBI agent sent to uncover all the major players in a money laundering operation. Being an FBI desk-jockey was not his dream job, but it made good use of his talent with numbers and provided the financial stability, which eluded him during his childhood.

Though he didn't think he should, he accompanied Sara to her father's wedding, and that was where the plot thickened.

As always, Baumann wove a big suspense element into this romance. I liked how it forced these two on the run, because that afforded them a lot of bonding time. Running from the law, donning disguises, and trying to stay alive are definite relationship accelerants. I loved seeing Sara and Brent grow closer as they sought safety and seeing Brent opening up about his past, but I also liked that Baumann managed to do all this without letting the story get too weighty. She did a great job balancing the story elements and produced a story which was light and fun.

The romance between Brent and Sara worked for so many reasons, but mostly, because they were both running from something. They were missing something that they found in each other, and though Brent's backstory was a bit more heartbreaking, they both shared some abandonment issues, and had to deal with loving a parent, who did not necessarily return their love.

It was a treat having all three generations of Botelli women together in this story. In fact, Baumann gifted us fans of the series with having all the major players from each book present at the end. I loved the little catch up, and was overjoyed with the ending she gave to them all.

Once again, Baumann delivered a great contemporary romance, that was filled with humor, suspense, fun, and warmth.

**ARCs received in exchange for honest reviews.

Which do you prefer:
sports romances or romantic suspense?
Let us know in the comments!


  1. I am happy to hear that you are still loving this series now with book 7 that speaks volumes. I have a thing for grumpy heroes as well. Sounds like a fun one!

    1. For some reason, hockey romances are among my favorites, and an HEA romance is always great

  2. Definitely not my kind of thing, but I'm glad you're enjoying the series. :)

  3. Aces is new to me, holy moly 7 books! I love grumpy heros too and Jodie sounds like a bad ass!

  4. I know some readers dislike grumpy heroes but I tend to fall for them. :) I love watching as they slowly soften up and share their softer side with the right woman. *insert swoons here* In this case, I love the fact that there was a good emotional connection as well a great chemistry. I’m not really familiar with this series but I’m going to check it out! Great reviews, Sam!

    1. I think it's the idea that they save that side for people, who are special to them. This is a series, that has gotten better and better for me.

  5. I love grumpy heroes too. I had to laugh at that title!

    1. There is a whole exchange in the book utilizing the title, which made me laugh

  6. I might have to check out Big Stick since I do love a grumpy hero. Glad you enjoyed these!

    1. He's a grumpy hockey player too. I think you could like him.

  7. Sports romances over romantic suspense any day! Romantic suspense rarely clicks for me.
    I'm glad you liked Big Stick! I had some promo in my inbox about that one but I passed as I've been dying under the weight of ARCs lately. (My own fault!)
    Will add it to the watch list for future readage. :)

    1. I read way more sports romances, than romantic suspense, though I have seen a few romantic suspense series that look pretty good. I love the Aces series, and I was all about getting to know Hallsy's BFF better.

  8. I just like straightforward romantic suspense more, but there is nothing wrong with a good sport romance too! I am glad you're continuing to enjoy both of these series as well. The cover and the title to The Big Stick had me smiling in that slightly laughing way. Just imagine my mum's expression if she caught me reading a book with that cover! :P

    1. I never have to hide my covers, because I read ebooks. 😂 I see lots of romantic suspense books out there, but I don't know, I don't always pick them up, unless it's an author I have read before, though, I always tend to enjoy them.