Dueling Review, Recommended Read

Dueling Review: Big Bad Cowboy by Carly Bloom (2018)

Once Upon a Time in Texas, Book #1

Holly’s Take

Heat Factor: I found the sexting shockingly effective

Character Chemistry: Maggie is in lust with the Big Bad Wolf, and moving from animosity to friendship to love with Travis. Except they’re the same man—and she doesn’t know it.

Plot: Maggie and Travis have mindblowing, slightly kinky sex as anonymous strangers at a costume party. And then Travis discovers that they’re neighbors slash she thinks he’s destroying her business. Too bad the sexting is so fun.

Overall: There were a few rough patches at the beginning, but I ended up really enjoying it.

Ingrid’s Take

Heat Factor: I’d definitely say it borders on a slow burn IF you don’t take the sexting into consideration.

Character Chemistry: There are a lot of relationships going on and they all had pretty good chemistry. Maggie and Travis seemed to sync really well.

Plot: Maggie and Travis hook up in disguise at a costume party—Travis knows Maggie’s identity, but Maggie is in the dark. When they end up at odds as neighbors and work competitors, they end up finding a deeper connection.

Overall: It was a cute cowboy-to-be book that felt realistically small-town.

Erin’s Take

Heat Factor: It starts early and doesn’t really slow down if you count all the sexting, but I wanted the story to get on with it because all the character interactions were more fun

Character Chemistry: I was more invested in the all the dynamics of the small town characters than in the romantic relationship between Maggie and Travis

Plot: business competitors, antagonistic anonymous neighbors, anonymous hookup, forced to work the same contract, sexting deception, custody battles, and liens

Overall: If we hadn’t agreed to buddy read it, I probably would have DNFed by 25% simply for all the gender essentialism, BUT I think it was maybe Trying To Do Something, and, as Holly said, it turned out pretty cute in the end.

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Dueling Review

Dueling Review: Dragon’s Instinct by Elva Birch (2022)

Daycare for Shifters, #2

Ingrid’s review of Daycare for Shifters, #1

Holly’s Take

Heat Factor: There’s an epic sexathon without a ton of details

Character Chemistry: “My dragon says that you’re the one!” But also they’re really cute together.

Plot: Single dad dealing with some stuff + neighbor who is really good with kids + the American West is on fire

Overall: A cute read

Ingrid’s Take

Heat Factor: So many puns about fire and heat factor and so little time. They have many encounters and entanglements. 

Character Chemistry: It’s a lot of cute, eager yearning and then it’s off to the races.

Plot: Olivia is not a shifter, but she’s hoping to shift gears and start over in a new town. Ian is a single dad with a massively challenging home life going on, and he’s immediately drawn to his new neighbor.

Overall: Very tender and entertaining.

Erin’s Take

Heat Factor: I don’t think I’ve ever read an Elva Birch book with this much descriptive sex. (They go through a whole box of condoms in one weekend!)

Character Chemistry: Is it fated mates or are they just really into each other?

Plot: She’s running from her past, he’s running himself ragged with a shifter toddler, and there are some worrisome things happening around town

Overall: It’s light-hearted and sweet

**Our discussion contains spoilers**

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Rant, Dueling Review, Back to Old School

Back to Old School: It Was Contemporary Week

Night Whispers by Judith McNaught (1998)

Heat Factor: No foreplay.

Character Chemistry: Sex so good you’ll forget all of your police training. (But they’re definitely gonna get divorced.)

Plot: Cop goes undercover to investigate her estranged family.

Overall: That’s a nope.


versus


Sea Swept by Nora Roberts (1998)

Heat Factor: Fighting is foreplay.

Character Chemistry: Sex so good you’ll forget the ethics of your very sensitive job.

Plot: Three brothers have to honor their father’s last wish by rearranging their lives and taking care of their newly adopted ten-year-old brother. And the social worker is really hot.

Overall: Rough seas ahead.

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Back to Old School, Dueling Review, Rant, Recommended Read

Back to Old School: Devils Week

Devil’s Bride by Stephanie Laurens (1998)

Heat Factor: Devil is going to make the molten heat inside Honoria explode. In a cataclysmic starburst. For 25 pages.

Character Chemistry: You’re my perfect match because our bloodlines make us strong enough to tame each other. But Devil never says “I love you.”

Plot: Murder most foul.

Overall: Erin was tickled. Ingrid powered through. Holly hated it.


versus


Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas (2006)

Heat Factor: Billiards and blow jobs

Character Chemistry: Sebastian is such an asshole, but he’s also so soft for Evie.

Plot: Marriage of convenience, gambling hell edition.

Overall: Erin loved it. Holly tolerated it. Ingrid can’t remember the plot.

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Back to Old School, Dueling Review

Back to Old School: Pirate Week

Gentle Rogue by Johanna Lindsey (1990)

Heat Factor: It’s your standard old school fare—a couple of relatively descriptive scenes and then a bunch of interludes that fade to black.

Character Chemistry: Antagonism leads to love. 

Plot: Georgie is dressed as a boy but James knows she’s a woman. So he’s seducing her. And then they’re forced to get married. 

Overall: Slow. Then bonkers.


versus


Captured by Beverly Jenkins (2009)

Heat Factor: There’s a lot of blue balls, and then it’s just balls to the wall.

Character Chemistry: It was “NO!” Then, “YES, let’s do it.” Then, “Let’s get married!”

Plot: Dominic steals Clare away from her mistress and shows her a life of freedom, but Clare can’t rest easy until her children have also been freed from slavery.

Overall: High stakes, low tension. Very historically juicy.

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