Review: Hold Me Today by Maria Luis

hold me todayTitle: Hold Me Today

Author: Maria Luis

Year of publication: Out today! I was kindly given a copy to read and review

The heroine: Hairdresser Mina Pappas

The hero: Restoration company owner Nick Stamos

The blurb: At least, that’s what I tell myself when I bargain with the enemy and score a renovation for my hair salon.

The enemy? Nick Stamos, my best friend’s older brother.

He’s got a body and face the Greek gods would envy but his personality needs a major overhaul. He’s surly. A rule-follower.
Did I mention he’s seen me naked?

I may have crushed on him for years, but the only place I want Nick swinging his hammer nowadays is at my salon.

Except, he needs something in return. . . a fake girlfriend.

And I’m just reckless enough to say yes.

Standalone or series: This is book one in the Put A Ring On It series, but can be read as a standalone

The review: Maria is a wonderful storyteller. It’s clear that she loves to write, loves to create worlds with characters that are relatable and human. I read this book knowing it involved two tropes I don’t particularly care for – best friend’s sibling/sibling’s best friend and reality TV – and with a lesser writer, I know I wouldn’t have enjoyed it at all.

Nick Stamos has known Ermione ‘Mina’ Pappas since they were kids. Mina has had a crush on Nick since they were teenagers. They’ve never really been friends – his sister, Effie, has been the buffer – but they’ve always been in each other’s orbit. When Mina desperately needs help to create her dream salon, she turns to Nick and his construction company for assistance. But she doesn’t have any money, after being ripped off by the man she hired to do the work, so Nick makes her a deal: he’ll do the work for free if she agrees to fake being his girlfriend to get the paparazzi off his tail, since they’re hounding him after he appeared on a Bachelor-style reality TV show.

The more time they spend together, the more they realise how much fun they have. They go from frenemies of sorts to best friends. Mina’s long buried feelings for Nick surface again, and Nick finally sees Mina in a different light. There are moments of brilliance in this book, some scenes that really stood out. I liked Nick, and I really felt for Mina in some scenes where she’s trying to figure out her place in the world.

If you’ve never read any of Maria’s books, you really should, because this girl can spin you quite the tale 🙂

Review: Body Check by Maria Luis

body checkTitle: Body Check

Author: Maria Luis

Year of publication: Out today! The author kindly gave me a copy to read and review

The heroine: Photographer Holly Belliveaux Carter

The hero: Hockey player Jackson Carter

The blurb: They call me the Badass of Hockey. The Beast of the Northeast. And I’m not just referring to my stick play on the ice.

As Captain for the Boston Blades, I’ve spent years working toward bringing home the Stanley Cup.

But when the owners sell us out to Hollywood, suddenly we’re not just playing for thousands of fans, we’re cracking open our lives on a new reality show, Getting Pucked. They want all the dirty details, and I’d rather take a puck to the gonads than peel back the curtains on my life.

Not when it could take me out of the game for good.

I agree to sign the contract on one condition: they hire New England’s reigning queen of media to call the shots.

Holly Belliveaux Carter.

The woman who drives me to insanity and turns me on with nothing but a quirk of her lips and the sound of her laugh. The only woman I’ve ever loved.

The problem? She’s my ex-wife.

Standalone or series: Book four in the Blades Hockey series, but can be read as a standalone.

The review: This book was a romance between an ex-husband and wife done so very right. Holly and Jackson married young, and their marriage lasted for eleven years until they realised it just wasn’t working anymore. So they divorced, but it wasn’t acrimonious. There was no scandal, no cheating; they were simply two people didn’t put their marriage first and walked away when it was clear it was irreparable.

This was one of the many things I loved about this book, and one of the many things the author did so well: just because they were divorced didn’t mean Holly and Jackson didn’t still love each other. You can’t turn your emotions and feelings for people on and off like a tap. It was clear there was still love between them, and they both harboured regrets about the end of their relationship.

Jackson is the Captain of the Boston Blades and the owners decide to allow some sporting channel to film them 24/7 for a new reality TV show. He only agrees if they give Holly and her team a contract to be part of the show. Holly is reluctant at first, but she misses being part of the hockey world… and she misses her ex-husband. So she agrees to sign the contract, after some negotiation.

Being around Jackson isn’t good for Holly’s hormones; sex was never the problem for them. For his part, Jackson’s heart still only beats faster for one woman – the one who continues to bear his name, even if she doesn’t wear his ring anymore. But he’s also hiding a secret, one that could cost him his career, and it’s the real reason he’s gotten Holly involved in the show. What will happen when she discovers the truth?

What really made this book stand out for me was the perfect blend of funny scenes (I don’t remember the last book I read that had me actually laughing out loud as many times as this one), hot sex scenes, and beautifully phrased lines. One of the things I loved most was that Jackson wasn’t a douchebag. They both had flaws, but their relationship felt very real. And that they were both open to renewing their relationship was wonderfully handled. There was also so many little touches that elevated the book; one such example was that Holly and Jackson both still had their wedding rings, hidden away in a drawer.

This is the first book I’ve read by this author, but it definitely won’t be my last. I’m calling this as one of my top ten reads for this year. Go buy it. Enjoy it.