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Series Review: The Burke Brothers by Emma Hart

My 200th Series Review Post! Thanks for reading!

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

Dirty Secret by Emma Hart | The Burke Brothers Series


Synopsis for Dirty Secret (from Goodreads):
Conner Burke never expected Sofie Callahan to come back.

Where she’s been for the last two and half years is a mystery, and so is the reason she left in the first place. Now, though, she’s back in their hometown of Shelton Bay, South Carolina, at the same time Conner’s band Dirty B. is home on a tour break.

Sofie Callahan has spent the months since her father’s death avoiding anything to do with her hometown. But with her brother in Afghanistan, she has no choice but to return and sort out her father’s house, even if it means facing the boy she fell in love with and revealing the reason she left.

Conner has questions, and when his broken heart and her guilty one collide, Sofie has to start answering them. Their present is rocky, their future unknown. Only one thing is certain: Sofie’s daughter will change everything.


Series: The Burke Brothers
Author: Emma Hart
# of Books: 5 (Dirty Secret, Dirty Past, Dirty Lies, Dirty Tricks, Dirty Little Rendezvous)
Book Order: Connected but chronological events
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Second Chances, Drama, Family
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: December 2014 – May 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook


**This post was originally posted as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

Like most readers do, when I enjoy a work by an author I tend to pick up the other stuff they write and Emma Hart is no exception. I really enjoyed her Game Series and have a few of her other series on my to-read shelf; however, this new series got to be read first thanks to the library.

Normally second chance contemporary romances aren’t super high on my reading list: especially ones involving a kid. I’m not sure why but I think it’s because they are predictable and a cliche to a certain extent. BUT, I really enjoyed reading Trapped by Beverley Kendall because it had a little bit of a twist to it which made things more interesting; as is the case with this story, Dirty Secret, and the spin of a famous musician ex-boyfriend as the father of the baby.

Did I know exactly why things went down as they did in the past before even reading this book? You bet your last dollar I sure did. But did that stop me from enjoying the cute story? Not really. I think I was in the mood for a lighter story after reading a particularly darker New Adult novel so Dirty Secret served as a nice refreshing read.

Really this book is everything I expect from Emma Hart’s work (solely based on my experience reading one of her series). You’ve got a stubbornly independent female lead and a charming hero and their cast of entertaining friends.

I didn’t really like Sofie and by that I mean her and I wouldn’t be friends in real life. There was nothing really wrong with her, we just have conflicting personalities. I liked Conner but he wasn’t anything really special either. The romance steam (ie sex) is there but it takes a backseat to the emotional connection of the leads, only popping up here and there. And I would say there really isn’t much of a plot other than Conner and Sofie getting angry at each other but simultaneously wanting to rip the clothes off of the other; but, as I said before, it was a cute, sweet story so I didn’t mind that much.

Again, like in the Game series, my only peeve was the dialogue, specifically the Southern Accent. Now, I will admit, I don’t know what everyday conversation is like in the South but it just seemed like the characters’ accents were latent and would therefore only pop up occasionally. It just seemed inconsistent to me–but I am a Canadian so I’m running slightly on the stereotype of what a Southern accent “should” be. I also felt a bit of a disconnect between some of the narration and what was happening: like the whole baby gate and the naughty step. Maybe that is because I’m not a mom but that just threw me for a loop and I still don’t understand. But it isn’t enough that I would tell you to not read this book because if you ignore that little detail (and it really is a little detail), the book was a smooth read.

I’m looking forward to Dirty Past for two reasons: I really liked Tate’s “bad boy” character AND we actually get to see the two leads fall in love. Dirty Secret was cute and while we do get to watch them fall back in love I just felt like a lot of their relationship was assumed from the past and not really elaborated on. I enjoy watching my leads fall in love as a read and with Dirty Secret it’s like they are already there and are just working out a lover’s quarrel you would see in the second book of their love trilogy–only you didn’t read the first book to see them come together in the first place.

I’m also not sure how many books will be in this series. I am assuming there will be 4 because there are 4 brothers but there also is their sister who I would like to read about as well (but her story could always be a subplot to her brothers’). I guess we will have to wait and see…


–July 19, 2015– Book 2: Dirty Past

I really liked Tate in Dirty Secret so I was excited to meet his match in Dirty Past. Overall, I liked them together but I just had a hard time reconciling their relationship at times, especially at the start. Tate can be quite egotistic and for someone just ending an abusive relationship, I’m not sure if they were the best match initially. Perhaps I was just reading too much into it, but I didn’t love the way he talked to her. I thought it was rude (which I expect from his character) and not the best environment for the heroine’s situation.

BUT, I did get past that and really enjoyed the story overall. It was a solid sequel overall and made me super pumped for Dirty Lies!

–December 28, 2015– Book 3: Dirty Lies

Sigh…I really wanted to like this one. It has everything I normally love: fake romance, asshole hero and a rockstar to boot. But it just fell apart for me despite its promising start.

I have a huge soft spot for asshole heroes and Aiden seemed like I would love him. But something just rubbed me the wrong way with him. I don’t mind confident assholes–which Aiden is–but he is also a little rude and I didn’t particularly like how he would talk about Jessie with his brothers.

On the other hand, I really liked Jessie. She was funny and I liked her independent attitude. And while I could see how these two would work out in theory, I just didn’t like the way their relationship developed. It’s a shame.

I’m holding out hope for Dirty Tricks though. Kye is the last brother and I think he is the nicest. And his heroine seems like she will be an interesting match for him!

–February 14, 2016– Book 4: Dirty Tricks

This book started strong, lost me a bit in the middle and ended on a good note. Kye is probably my favourite brother because he seems the most genuine to me and I liked how he wasn’t a complete asshole like the rest of his brothers (especially his twin).

Chelsea, hmm, I’m a little mixed on her. I totally got where she was coming from and I felt like I understood her character the most out of anyone in this series because her past is so well explained. But I didn’t like her immaturity even it I knew why she would act the way she did. Again, the dialogue was what really showed this and made me have that disconnect.

So while it was probably my favourite story premise of the series, I was a little bored with it at times. It was a solid way to end the series and I’m going to pick up the spin-off; but otherwise, this series was a bit of a bust 🙁

–July 2, 2017– Book 5: Dirty Little Rendezvous

**I DNF’d this book at 23% (start of Chapter 6)**

I really was not feeling this book and I really wanted to like it because Leila was (finally) the heroine and she’s been in the background throughout the series, peaking my interest. But damn, this was bad.

I can tolerate a little bit of crude talk in my novels but this was just brutal. I swear, every other page was about Leila’s vagina and her need to see some action. I’m all for a girl exploring her sexuality but I don’t like reading that in my novels, regardless of the POV’s gender. It get monotonous.

And don’t get me started on the ridiculous double standards of her brothers. I get it, she’s their little sister but after reading all their stories, they don’t really have any moral ground to stand on in my opinion.

Oh, and the romance? It seemed very shallow and rushed to me. Maybe if we got to see their past interaction, I would be on board with it but I just wasn’t liking these two.

Series Rating: 3.5/5

Dirty Secret 4/5 | Dirty Past 3/5  |  Dirty Lies 3/5  |  Dirty Tricks 3.5/5


I enjoyed the cute romance between the two leads but it wasn’t really anything memorable. If you want a sweet read about teen sweethearts reuniting after one becomes a celebrity years later, this is the book for you! Or if you enjoyed Emma Hart’s other works, this is right up your alley! However, I feel like the newest books in the series are essentially the same recycled romances, causing the series to lose some lustre.

Read if You Like: over the top drama, rockstar stories, stories about families
Avoid if You: want a more mature romance, want stronger romantic relationships





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Series Review: The Game by Emma Hart

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

 book2 book3 book4


Synopsis for The Love Game (from Goodreads):

His challenge? Make her fall in love with him.
Her challenge? Play the player.
Until life changes the rules of the game.

Maddie Stevens hated Braden Carter on sight. Arrogant, egotistical, and the playboy of the University of California, Berkeley, he’s everything her brother Pearce has taught her to despise. So why, when the girls challenge her to play the player, doesn’t she say no? She doesn’t know either.

Braden wanted fiery little Maddie the second he laid eyes on her – and he’d do anything to have her, hence why he’s agreed to make her fall in love with him. After all, it’s the only way he’ll get what he wants. Sex.

But, as Braden discovers, there’s more to the girl from Brooklyn than he ever imagined – and he can’t help but care about the broken girl behind those pretty green eyes.

Maddie finds Braden isn’t just a walking erection – he actually has feelings. He can be sweet, funny and his good looks don’t exactly hurt. That means trouble – but when her brother Pearce turns up in Berkeley begging for her help, she realises Braden and Pearce aren’t so alike anymore.

And maybe, just maybe, they’re exactly what each other needs.


Series: The Game
Author: Emma Hart
# of Books: 4 (The Love Game, Playing for Keeps, The Right Moves, Worth the Risk)
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: March 2013 – May 2014
Source & Format: Own–eBook


**This post was originally posted as a Toonie Tuesday review of the first book (The Love Game) of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

Review of The Love Game:

Given the facts that it is a romance novel and the main protagonists are trying to get the other to fall in love with them, you pretty much know how it is going to go–they are going to fall in love with each other for real. But that shouldn’t stop you from reading this book because there is more to it.

I found this novel very refreshing. Despite the fact that it has characteristics of New Adult novels (ex. at least one protagonist has a tragic past which results in their inability to trust and love others) it also puts its own spin on the genre. The whole premise of the game was very Shakespearian (in theory) which I love; especially when you add in the supporting characters.

I also love the fact that Maddie and Braden don’t have an “insta-love” connection (a major turn-off for my reading) and I appreciate that this is talked about in the book as well. It made it very realistic and believable. Another plus is that you actually watch them fall in love with each other and you can see why they do. I find that some novels fail to provide the backbone to a relationship and just focus on the “physical connection” between two characters.

Maddie is great at telling Braden to calm the “caveman” act down. I think a lot of New Adult novels promote the idea that a man who claims you as “his” at every turn is sexy when it is not always the case (this isn’t to say that they present an abusive relationship in anyway–because they don’t–I just think it can border on an unhealthy relationship in the real world and I fear it will give girls the wrong impression). And this isn’t to say that Braden is always caveman like that, he does have really cute moments throughout and is genuinely a nice guy.

My only negatives about are more pet-peeves of mine. Sometimes when Maddie talked it was a little too metaphor-y for me. Given the fact that she is 18 it just was a little “too deep” for me at times (especially the whole comparison to various board games at one point in the last few chapters) but I guess I see how she might be a little wiser beyond her years considering her backstory. Still, she’s only 18!

But to end on a bright note: the story of Maddie and Braden concludes within this book. So yay for not dragging on a story! From what I can see the second book is about two different characters we meet in this book and there are enough hints throughout that I am excited to see what happens next!

>>Bonus: Here is the epilogue for The Love Game (WARNING: It contains spoilers!)


–January 15, 2014– Book #2: Playing for Keeps

I just finished Playing for Keeps after having it sit on my Kobo for months and I have to say another great book in the series! While I didn’t enjoy it as much as The Love Game, it definitely had its enjoyable moments throughout. I’m happy with the way the story went though at times I felt like it was a little over the top considering everyone’s ages. I think if the characters were, say 4-5 years older, I would have an easier time believing their maturity and some of the things they say. I’m not saying you can’t be mature at that age, it just seemed a little odd to me when I was reading.

One thing I didn’t like about this book was that it just jumped into things without much background. Considering Meagan is a secondary character in the previous book, we don’t know a whole lot about her and while I knew there was tension between her and Aston, I just wished it was elaborated more at the start of this book. It’s been a long time since I read The Love Game so I forgot about their interaction in that book–I guess I just wanted to see more of why they liked each other in the first place. But to be fair, the rest of the book is about them finding love in each other so it does make up for it in a way.

These books aren’t like typical New Adult reads. The hot romance really takes a back seat to the building up of a relationship and love and using love to heal broken pasts. So if you are looking for a crazy steamy read, these aren’t the books for you!

I’m interested to see where the next book, The Right Moves, goes from here. From what I have read of the synopsis it has nothing to do with the cast of characters we met in the last two books which I think is a good thing because I don’t know if I could handle another story about this group (I just think all their stories have been exhausted and I wouldn’t want everything to be dragged out). I guess we will see what happens.

Series Rating: 4/5

The Love Game 4/5| Playing for Keeps 3.5/5 | The Right Moves TBA | Worth the Risk TBA


I really enjoyed reading this book. It had me turning pages and was such an easy read (writing-wise). If you enjoy books about love healing tormented past and changing playboy ways, pick this series up!

Read if You Like: NA romances, love heals stories
Avoid if You: like when characters act more their age


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