Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Healing Hannah's Heart by Preslaysa Williams

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Healing Hannah's Heart by Preslaysa Williams
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Hannah Hart may have been burned by the breakup of her rocky marriage, but the ambitious Afro-Filipina model has big plans for her future. Her stunning looks and flawless skin provide the opening she craves to become a celebrity in the fashion world. Then an arsonist’s match brings Hannah’s world crashing down around her.

While Hannah recovers from her burns, she is forced to accept help from the last person on earth she wants, her estranged husband, Jake Hart. Jake isn't ready to give up on their marriage. The return of Jake's teenage son from a one-night stand had been the catalyst for their breakup. Can Jake help both the son who resents his abandonment and the woman he still loves? He can do nothing about the scars on her skin, but can he heal Hannah's heart?
As she struggles to rebuild her life from the ashes of her shattered dreams, does Hannah have the courage to give Jake a second chance? And is the world ready for a differently-abled model who will redefine what it means to be beautiful? 
I sat on my feelings for Healing Hannah's Heart for a while because I wasn't sure how to encapsulate my feelings for this book. I wanted to be eloquent and not sound like a raging maniac. However, even after all of that time, though my feelings are not as strong—I still do not and will never like this book.

I try not to make everything about race but with the portrayal of black women; it gets my hackles up to see us portrayed stereotypically. AAVE is a part of our culture, but it is always blatantly obvious when an author is using it to portray a character's blackness; as opposed to something that is inherently a part of their everyday vernacular and or lifestyle. That's what Hannah was(is) to me. The author is a black woman and I am not using this space to question her blackness, but her character reads false. I could tell by how the words were used and then spoken. Like, if someone spoke Spanish, you can tell the difference from someone who has spoken it for a long period of time, compared to someone who is just learning. The blackness of one’s character is not determined by how many aint’s or periods they can fit in a paragraph or a sentence. Don’t use it as a determining factor for blacknessas for me and my house, it won't be well received.

The son (the illegitimate child) has these barber cut designs in his hair, tattoos, and the clothes to boot. He read like the gang banger he wound up being. Though the understanding is that he’s a troubled kid due to the lack of a present father, I would have just as quickly believed it simply based on his actions—and found no need for the stereotyped exterior.

Also, the race card was played like a bad hand in this story. It wasn’t unbelievable by any means but it doesn’t seem believable at the same time. As a black person, in this world, race will play a role in our lives no matter what we do—but if you're going to discuss it, do it with care, not with the reckless abandon of someone seeking to grab a certain audience.

Even aside from that, I could not stand Hannah. She was rude and judgemental. She was basically that way to almost every single person who crossed her path. From her mother down to the son her husband had. She made that man forgo a relationship with his child because she needed to be more important to him—and in no way, shape, form or fashion could I get behind this ideology.

Not to mention the beginning of the book was a tailspin I got caught up in and could not find my way out of. I don't claim to know a lot but I don't hear of many gym fires. The author too easily set up the one thing that would hinder the character's development and the thing that would progress the plot. I mean I can't imagine being in a gym pedaling away, walking away momentarily, and the whole thing going up in flames---and then getting caught in said fire.

It was laughable. I literally laughed because I couldn't believe it. I knew from that point the story wouldn't go well. I was not wrong. The MC is awful and though everyone around her tried to do right by her, "her burns" hindered her from moving forward. While I don't doubt going from a swan to an ugly duckling would put many a people into a funk, she was funky long before she became a model burn victim. It served her right for treating her plus-sized model friend like trash because she was a plus-sized model. Who by the way forgave her far too quickly and easily than she deserved.

Hannah does make a turn around at about 95-100% percent, but by then I gave up on her because even with that swift and too late change, I do believe she's still an asshole.

The characters were dreadful. The representation was poor. The plot was boring and the story itself needs restructuring. I won't say I'm able or unable to make this assessment but it's going to be a complete no ma'am for me. 

Monday, September 23, 2019

Release Day Review: White Whiskey Bargain by Jodie THE FAVE Slaughter

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White Whiskey Bargain by Jodie THEE Slaughter
The Butterfly Reader: City of Ashes - Review

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"Like I said before, I know we ain’t in love, and I don’t expect us to ever fall in love, but I want us to be good to each other. People have been gettin married in situations like this for hundreds of years, and they’ve made it work. It doesn’t matter if this doesn’t last forever. I’m goin’ to make sure I’m good to you, and I’d appreciate it if you extended me the same courtesy.” - Javier Meza

The sudden and tragic death of her mother throws Hannah Hawkins into a position she doesn’t feel at all prepared for. With the duty of leading her family’s decades-long moonshining business weighing heavy on her shoulders, the last thing she needs is something making her transition even harder. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what she gets. A band of vicious new players has arrived in small-town Harlan, Kentucky, and while what they really want remains a mystery, it quickly becomes clear they’re willing to stoop to dark lengths to get it. To fight off a beast, Hannah realizes she needs to join forces with a rival. 

Javier Meza may be the sole heir to his family’s moonshining empire, but he’s certainly no leader. He has no head for business or diplomacy, preferring to spend his days in the trenches, making corn liquor with the rest of the “cooks.” That doesn’t mean he isn’t more than willing to step up and take charge when his family finds themselves in danger. Forming a shaky partnership with the Hawkins family is one thing, but marrying Hannah Hawkins to keep their deal on the straight and narrow is something else entirely. 

While Hannah is determined to keep their marriage as something that exists in name only, Javier is eager not to leave this wife hurt and disappointed like his last one. They both quickly learn that their feelings, much like their enemies, don’t plan on going away without a fight.

From All Things Burn author, Jodie Slaughter - illegal white whiskey, a marriage of convenience between decades-long rival families, and Black Appalachia. Jodie blends romance and suspense to bring to the forefront a spotlight on the impact of populations of color in small-town Kentucky. A full-length romance novel with a very satisfying HEA.
Slaughter has a certain languidness to her writing. It's not that it's slow on the action, but her books take their time reaching the climax. It builds you up and lets you down slowly. It's a perfect balance between slow and just right. This second book, like the first, starts off with an interesting and collar grabbing bang.

Hannah is in the moonshine business. Her mother died recently, and it's now her turn at the helm. Though she's not fully seated in her boss position, she's ready willing and able to do whatever it takes to keep the business running successfully. Even if that means marrying her rival's son.

I liked Hannah. She wasn't too much. She wasn't insecure or questioning her very being because of a man. She might not have been completely comfortable filling her mother's shoes, but she maintained a reasonable and likable amount of confidence. I liked what she brought to the table as a young black woman in the seat of a boss.

Javier is a gentle giant. It's not that he's a punk or anything, he's just soft when he needs to be. And tough when he doesn't. He's the perfect balance of hard and soft. Hannah was a lucky woman I'm just saying.

He's loyal to his family and to the business they've built. It's admirable and sexy if I might say so myself. He handles the arranged marriage like a man on a mission and I was not mad at that.

I liked him most of all. He's the ultimate book boyfriend—but you can't have him he's mine. We're married. The paperwork is in the mail.

The story itself was exciting. I don't read a lot of stories that focus on these type of career paths, so it's unique plot definitely pulled me in and kept me reading. It does the standard thing with the romance, meet, resist, fall in love—but I rooted for them all the way. It was a slow burn, but it was worth the wait. Slaughter did what I've learned she can do, which is rock my socks off with a unique tantalizing romance that's sure to singe my eyebrows with its sexy hotness.

I had high expectations; she met them all—and that's why I stan.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

A Selfish Kind of Love (Four Letter Word, Book #3) by Bella Jay: Urban Romane Done Right

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A Selfish Kind of Love (Four Letter Word #3) by Bella Jay
The Butterfly Reader: City of Ashes - Review

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When Tessah Jones turned 18, she learned to put her charming ways to use and get whatever she wanted from men. At 21, she was living her best life on someone else’s dime, with someone else’s husband, and had no qualms about it! But when her sponsor wants more than she’s willing to give, she wants out and it lands her in the arms of the last person she’d ever expect or want it to — Kyree.

Kyree Warwick has a high tolerance for a lot of things but women like Tessah weren’t one of them. Their dislike for one another was no secret but when an unfortunate turn of events has him seeing her in a new light —he does the complete opposite of what his gut says and follows his heart down a path neither him nor Tessah thought possible.

As Tessah finds herself caught up in the rapture that is Kyree, she has to come to terms with who she is as the love she was never looking for is put to the test because of her selfish ways. Follow Tessah on her journey as she finds the true meaning of love.
Tessah is a "man-eater." She gets what she wants from men, by any means necessary—and she has no plans to change. Her best friend, Landon is a street pharmacist for the judgemental Kyree Warwick. He's always judging her with those accessing eyes, and his hate, it's reciprocal. They can't stand each other. But when her life's threatened, Kyree steps in to save the day. And because of it, they see each other differently. 

Urban Romance is not among my favorite of genres, mostly because I'm at the point in my life where street life no longer seems exciting. It was always scary but when I was younger; it was less frightful and more thrilling. But, I digress.

Jay does a thing with this Urban Romance where it's less street and more love. While the heroes are drug dealers, that part of their lives was left off the page. She hints at their illegal doings stronger in the beginning, but she walks away from it to focus on romance and character development. And she did well with both.

As most of you know, I am an enemy-to-lovers trope stan. Kyree and Tessah are enemies-to-lovers through and through. Though the change from hate to love is swift—and I will admit I was worried about that, it turned around and slowed down when and where it really mattered.

The author brought about the change from love to hate quickly, but the story doesn't suffer from its quickness. Their love was real, but it maintained this light playfulness that I really appreciated. They worked through conflicts like adults, and it still had a bit of emotion and angst that I enjoy. It's light for those of you who don't like angst or prefer low-angst. 

I enjoyed seeing the characters grow. Character growth is essential when you're dealing with characters that are not normally used to being in a relationship and in love. The dual POV helped with seeing the characters growth process, which for me upped the story's quality.

The secondary characters were not unlike relatives you may or may not know. That's the thing with Black Romance you get the black experience and you feel you know the person or some version of them. That's one thing I'll always enjoy and appreciate black authors for. Again, I digress.

The book is funny, hood romantic, and pretty well put together. It was paced well and all the important parts were spread out and not rushed. Thank goodness for it.

I'm pleased with this read and I really enjoyed the ending. I was worried after reading book two, but this one more than makes up for it. I would recommend it. 

Monday, September 16, 2019

Reminiscing by Tierra Cox

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Reminiscing by Tierra Cox
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KyuBeom Yoon is known as the ice prince of the renowned K-pop group, C4. All he wanted was to get away from it all—the lights, the cameras, and the fame that comes with being an idol. And all he wants is Maya Campoy. With Maya, he gets the chance to feel normal, to be loved, to be happyand so much more. Unfortunately, things don’t always go as planned. Years later, he finds himself on a radio show reliving a tale of love and heartbreak, wondering if, at the end of it all, she’ll give him another chance.

KyuBeom (Q) is a member of the K-pop group, C-4. Better known as the “iceman” of the group. He’s in the US on vacation, taking a breather from the celebrity life. Daily trips to the diner have led to him gaining a crush on Maya, the American Black girl he can’t keep his eyes off of.

What works for the story is that KyuBeom is very likable. He’s charismatic and easy to like. His voice is soft but effective, as he really comes off the page. Maya, however, doesn’t shine as brightly. The story is told from Kyu’s perspective, and the parts that are told in Maya’s POV don’t come across strongly. It felt like someone else was telling her story, putting a gap between her character and the reader.

The love aspect of the story loses some of its effectiveness as a result, of the POV struggle. The love story is told and felt through a series of recollections in the form of several radio interviews, that take place over a series of days. For me, at least, it didn’t allow me to have an emotional connection to a story. 

The racial and cultural differences, along with the split time between Korea and the US would have been more potent if experienced first hand. I would have loved to see (read) the scenery while the story took place in Korea. It initially attracted me to the story because I am a fan of Korean culture; ie: Kdrama and K-pop. It would have been nice to experience some culture firsthand.

As a reader, you don’t get to experience much of that. The story is based on the relationship complications between Kyu and Maya. So the story leaves off the extra stuff; like scenery, backstory, and outside influence. 

The only influence the secondary characters and the outside world played was having a negative effect on K&M’s budding relationship.  That is aside from the uncle and father of Maya, who rooted for the pair to make it. 

The story is not bad but would have been that much better if told in a more first-person perspective from both the hero and the heroine.

The ending is HEA but left something to be desired. Because we spent so little time with Maya, I would have loved an Epilogue, just to see where they are, especially if there will be no further books from the pair.

I’m fairly pleased with this book and would read more novels if only to see if the author would expound more and dig a little deeper. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Beach Thing by Dl White: Hold onto Summer and Take a Trip To Black Diamond Isles.

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Beach Thing DL White
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When Ameenah Porter moves to the beach town of Black Diamond Isles to fulfill her dream of opening a smoothie shop, she encounters a man who is tall, dark and extremely handsome with a wicked taste for orange flavored beverages. She doesn’t need the distraction of a new man but Wade, who’s staying in the giant sized home at the end of her block, is irresistible. 

Wade Marshall was supposed to spend the summer on Black Diamond Isles getting away from the rush of Brooklyn, ridding himself of the distractions that had been impacting his work so he can do what he does best-- make beats. But the day he meets Ameenah, he becomes consumed by an entirely different and more attractive distraction--his bold, beautiful, sexy neighbor with the “glorious hips” and a penchant for ice cream. 

Ameenah's days at Tikis & Cream, her beachside smoothie shop, are spent cooling off her customers with her gourmet smoothie blends. Her nights on the shores of Black Diamond Bay are enchanting and romantic, and soon Wade and Ameenah find themselves in the middle of a Beach Thing, a fun, meaningless tryst that will end when the summer is over. 

Or will it? 

Wade is returning to Brooklyn at the end of the summer. Ameenah lives on Black Diamond. Neither want this Beach Thing to end... so is this fling really a fling or is it the beginning of something real... and will they realize it in time? 

If you're not yet ready to say goodbye to summer, join me for a trip to Black Diamond.
I know Summer is almost over, but for those of you still basking in the last week or so we have left; Beach Thing is here to help you hold onto the last vestiges of summer. 
Beach Thing follows Ameenah and Wade and their summer tryst. Ameenah just opened up her smoothie shop in Black Diamond Isles; her home away from home--much to her parents' chagrin. Wade is on a workcation. He's there to work and also to enjoy the summer. That does not include falling into the arms or the bed of the woman whose orange-flavored drinks keep him coming back for more.

What's enjoyable about Beach Thing is the overall progression of the romance and the maturity of the characters. While they face obstacles to their "Beach Thing," they handle it very maturely. They're not looking for love, but they don't spend too much time agonizing over the why's and focused on the ifs

The relationship develops quickly, but it stays away from being instant love. They might have found "like" with each other fairly quickly, but declarations of love; and being wholly committed to each other happens much later. I also liked that they didn't spend all of their time being wrapped up in the other. They spent a lot of time together, but they also spent a lot of time being adults and taking care of their respective businesses.

It's a rather enjoyable, mature romance. Perfect for readers who don't like a lot of angst or drama.