Tag Archive | Romance

REVIEW: Spies, Lies, and Allies by Lisa Brown Roberts

Spies, Lies, and Allies Book Cover Spies, Lies, and Allies
Lisa Brown Roberts
YA Contemporary Romance
Entangled Teen
E-ARC

Summers are supposed to be fun, right? Not mine. I’ve got a job at my dad’s company, which is sponsoring a college scholarship competition. I just found out that, in addition to my job assisting the competing interns, I’m supposed to vote for the winner. Totally not what I signed up for.

My boss is running the competition like it’s an episode of Survivor. Then there’s Carlos, who is, well, very distracting––in a good way. But I can’t even think about him like that because fraternizing on the job means instant disqualification for the intern involved.

As if that’s not enough, an anonymous informant with insider intel is trying to sabotage my dad’s company on social media...and I’m afraid it's working.

Much as I’d love to quit, I can’t. Kristoffs Never Quit is our family motto. I just hope there’s more than one survivor by the end of this summer.

My Review

Omigosh! This was such a fun book!

A word of warning: This book is chalk full (CORRECT PHRASE?) of nerdy Star Wars references and IT. IS. AWESOME!

All Laurel wants is to be close to her dad again. He’s a workaholic, so she thinks, what a better way to spend time with him than as a summer intern at his company? If nothing else they’ll have an hour long ride in the car to bond and maybe a chance to spend lunch together. After begging and begging, her dad finally gives in. But there’s a condition. Laurel will be an  assistant to the interns, and she will be spying on them. Because all of the interns are competing for a crazy awesome scholarship.

But as the daughter of the boss, Laurel feels like a fraud. She doesnt fit in with the other interns. And as soon as the rules are laid out, she wonders how she will survive the summer. The worst rule of all, no fraternizing with the interns or they will lose their chance at the scholarship. Enter NAME. He’s cute and Laurel begins to fall for him, after disliking him for a while.

I love that this was not an instalove story. The romance was backseat to the plot, but still a big part. It’s a story of love, father/daughter relationships, and just growing up. Really the best part was all the Star Wars mentions though. So funny.

This is definitely a teen romance I recommend for all YA contemporary fans.


Quotes

(Believe it or not, I scaled back on the number of quotes I had highlighted. This book is hilarious and awesome!)

“So, what am I doing for the Empire this summer? Plotting the destruction of peaceful planets like Alderaan?” I thought a Star Wars joke might be a fun way to start our first morning as coworkers, but Dad Vader doesn’t look amused.
“I’m not the enemy, Laurel,” Dad snaps. “Also, I’m your boss, so watch it.”

It’s cliché, crushing on the quarterback, but I think it’s a high school requirement, like taking U.S. History.

 

“Oh,” Dad says. “I almost forgot. Laurel, please introduce yourself.” Way to make me feel like chopped liver, Dad Vader. I’ll remember this when the Rebels storm the Death Star.

I wish I was like Rey in The Force Awakens, brave and tough. Or Princess Leia, snarky and brilliant. But right now, I feel like a young Anakin Skywalker, when no one thought he was capable of piloting his own Podracer, let alone winning a race.

Trish is finished so I take her place, relieved to be interacting with an inanimate object. I expect her to leave as my cappuccino brews, but she doesn’t. She watches me like a hawk stalking a baby rabbit. I hope she kills me fast.

“Clever I am. Surprised she will be.”
“Dad, you’re not Yoda. How many times do we have to go over this?”

We stare at each other. It’s not one of those Hollywood omigod-we’re-going-to-kiss moments. Instead it’s awkward and uncomfortable. I glance around, noticing we’re the last ones on the rooftop. How did that happen?

“Number one: introduction.” He glances up and grins. “We did that on the first day, in case you forgot. I even got your name right, unlike some interns.”
I roll my eyes and try not to reward him with a smile. He can sense victory, though, because his grin deepens in a way I’ve never seen. Wait—does he have two dimples? This is completely unfair.


Apology

I was supposed to partake in a blog tour for this amazing book. It was read in time, I even had the review written up the day I finished it…. but I didn’t schedule ahead of time, and then I got the flu. I’m a month late getting this posted and I feel really guilty for that, but hopefully the author, publisher, and blog coordinators understand that sometimes crap happens and it is what it is. Sorry. 🙁

 

REVIEW: Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

Along for the Ride Book Cover Along for the Ride
Sarah Dessen
YA Contemporary Romance
Viking Books for Young Readers
June 16, 2009
Hardcover
383
Half Price Books
Beat The Backlist 2018
January 1 - 12, 2018

It’s been so long since Auden slept at night. Ever since her parents’ divorce—or since the fighting started. Now she has the chance to spend a carefree summer with her dad and his new family in the charming beach town where they live.

A job in a clothes boutique introduces Auden to the world of girls: their talk, their friendship, their crushes. She missed out on all that, too busy being the perfect daughter to her demanding mother. Then she meets Eli, an intriguing loner and a fellow insomniac who becomes her guide to the nocturnal world of the town. Together they embark on parallel quests: for Auden, to experience the carefree teenage life she’s been denied; for Eli, to come to terms with the guilt he feels for the death of a friend.

In her signature pitch-perfect style, Sarah Dessen explores the hearts of two lonely people learning to connect.

Review

This was a challenging book to get into. All of the characters were pretty awful and it was hard to care about them. But then something magical happened. Somewhere at around the halfway point this book became difficult to put down. Suddenly I started to see little changes in the heroine, Auden, and I started to care what happened.

On the surface this is a book about a girl who spends the summer between high school and college with her dad and step-mom at their house in a little beach town. She finds friends and romance. But it’s actually much deeper.

Let’s talk about Auden. She’s the youngest of two children and because her parents “needed” her to be quiet and good as a child, she was. She never had a real childhood. She never had close friends, the color pink was frowned upon, and boys were a distraction to her studies — useless.

So when Auden moves in with her dad and step-mother, Heidi, for the summer, she’s dreading having to be around her perky pink-clad step-mother, Heidi. Not to mention the fact that her new baby half-sister NEVER. STOPS. CRYING.

When her parents were fighting, before the divorce, Auden stopped sleeping at night, instead she spent her nights hanging out at an all night diner. Now in the new beach town, she must find new ways to fill her nights. Soon after her arrival, she connects with the mysterious Eli. A friendship blossoms and, upon learning of Auden’s lack of a childhood, he’s determined to give her as many of those experiences as he can before she starts college in the fall.

On the surface, this is a book where not a lot happens. There’s a lot of repetition with the nightly activities between Auden and Eli, plus her job at Heidi’s store, but as Eli takes her on her quest, and things at home become shaky, Auden begins to change.

Let’s talk about the side characters for a second. They were great and awful and a big part of what makes Auden who she is. Her mother is a strong, independent, and powerful woman — very women’s rights and down with the patriarchy. Her dad is a failed writer. Her brother is a free spirit who has spent the last two years mooching off their parents backpacking through Europe.

Her mom comes across as cold-hearted and just mean. She seems to expect Auden to be a carbon copy of herself. Her dad is awful. He’s so selfish and ignorant.

But the people Auden meets in the beach town are amazing.

My main takeaway themes from this book are:

Don’t judge a book by it’s cover — there is far more to a person than what you see on the surface.

People can change — Every person close to Auden in this book showed signs of changing for the better. Even the most unredeemable characters take steps toward redemption.

Coming of Age — A huge theme in this book was Auden realizing who she is without her parents. When she separates herself from them and follows what feels is right in her own heart, who is she really? Is she a carbon copy of her mother? Or as selfish as her dad?

This review is getting WAY too long. For a book I really could have cared less about in the beginning, I’m shocked at how much I enjoyed this.

So, I’ll say my tiny bit of negatives and end this.

  1. The beginning dragged and a critical scene that was referenced multiple times later is glossed over so quickly that it either should have been cut or described.
  1. Very early on her dad and step-mom’s baby is called her stepsister. Grr! She’s her half-sister! Half and Step are VERY different things!!!
  2. I’d liked to have seen more romantic bits with Eli. Personal preference.

Even with those couple negatives, this is still a solid 4 star book for me. The second half was so enjoyable I nearly forgot how bored I was during the first half. I’ll definitely be reading more Sarah Dessen in the future.


Quotes

I was such a smart kid, I should have figured out that the only way to really get my parents’ attention was to disappoint them or fail. But by the time I realized that, succeeding was already a habit too ingrained to break.

There is really nothing more intimidating than approaching a group of girls who have already made up their minds about you. It’s like walking a plank, no way to go but down.

Since I had no rain jacket, I had to borrow one from Heidi, who offered me three colors: bright pink, light pink, and, in her words, “dusty pink,” whatever that meant. I picked the light one, yet still felt positively radioactive as I walked down the gray, wet sidewalk, boldly contrasting with everything about me.

“Who says you have to be either smart or pretty, into girly stuff or sports? Life shouldn’t be about the either/or. We are capable of more than that, you know?”

“Look. I just…”
But no words followed. I just let this hang there, open-ended, waiting for him to jump in, finish it, do the hard part for me. It was my dad’s signature trick, and now I understood why. It was so much easier than having to say what you didn’t want to aloud.

I’d thought I knew so much when I’d arrived here, the smartest girl in the room. But I’d been wrong.


My (Writing) Life

I was going to be GOOD this week and post LOTS of my outstanding reviews. But then I didn’t. I did however get a LOT of my reviews posted at vendors, reviews that are already on the blog and Goodreads, and also submitted to NetGalley. There’s still a ways to go before I’m caught up, but I feel less stressed.

What else… I’m still slogging through reading Animal Farm, but I’m motivated to finish now because next up is going to be The Mummy by Anne Rice. I’ve got the sequel on my old phone from Penguin First Reads to read and I want to refresh my memory by re-reading The Mummy. It’s been a good decade since I first read it!

I’m making slow progress on SOMETHING I’M GOOD AT but that’s mostly right now because I decided to change the book from past tense to present. I usually hate present tense, but it’s starting to grow on me and I think it’ll really help with this particular series of books. (Three books planned at the moment, but I may expand. Who knows!)

I’m 100% certain I will not be posting any other reviews this weekend. It’s the Super Bowl weekend, which I could care less about, but the Super Bowl happens to be in my city this year and I happen to work at a hotel. It’s going to be a full house folks! (Best part of the Super Bowl being in town? One of my good friends demanding that anyone with any info on Justin Timberlake’s whereabouts contact her IMMEDIATELY!) But yeah, I’m working crazy long hours (just like last weekend!) and will be basically dead come Sunday night.

(Psst! Still looking for people who may be interested in reading and reviewing – or even doing a release day blast for – PEACE IN FLAMES my upper YA contemporary romance! Shoot me a message or leave a comment on the post.)

 

 

REVIEW: Princess of Draga by Emma Dean

Princess of Draga Book Cover Princess of Draga
Draga Court #1
Amma Dean
Sci-Fi Romance
October 17, 2017
E-ARC
276
The Author
Jillian Ashe
October 2017

In the first book of the Draga Court series, Princess Adelina's coming-of-age party will declare to the worlds she is finally eligible to wed. All she wants is to serve her people and the crown with honor, but when a dangerously attractive prince from another galaxy - one who they all thought was dead - arrives with warnings of monstrosities and war, will her feelings put her in a position where she has to choose between her people and love?

The Draga Court series is a beautiful combination of fantasy and space opera set in a faraway future where humans have altered their genetics to save their species from their destructive natures. Dominance and rank weave a complicated dance among the galaxy's society where a true submissive has to find her place, and learn the true meaning of power and love.

Review

First – let’s take a moment to swoon over this gorgeous cover. Emma Dean’s covers are legitimately top notch.

Now, I don’t normally read steamy books, but Emma Dean asked me to, so I did. And I don’t regret it.

Warning: Have a fan ready because this one is HOT!

This is a new epic sci-fi romance series by a veteran author (Jillian Ashe) using a pen name for her steamier writing. The sci-fi is light, but the world building is not. It’s an Earth-like feeling, but definitely not the Earth we know and love. In this world, humans have been genetically altered with a dominance gene. This ensures that peace is kept.

The main character is the youngest Princess, Adelina. She’s a submissive, which is odd for a royal, but everyone loves her. She’s a bit annoying for me at first because of her submissive trait, but I promise she does grow as a character and I came to like her more before the end.

There are a number of side plots going on as well (think Game of Thrones style) and I had so many favorites in those subplots it was hard to choose one! The main story though follows Adelina and her family. Her father has fallen ill with one of the VERY FEW illnesses that don’t have a cure. The eldest Princess, Raena, is preparing to step in as queen early. A nearby galaxy has been attacked and overthrown by a mysterious enemy and it’s feared that their Draga Galaxy is next.

The best way to describe this series is probably Game of Thrones in space in the future. Except I’m hoping not everybody will die. 😉


Quotes

“Sometimes the submissives are the ones with the most power. They draw strong dominants to them, incite the age-old instinct to protect and defend. You do not have to be the strongest or the most dominant to wield those who are.”

 

She arched a brow at him and he awkwardly cleared his throat. “I apologize,” he said again. What the gods had this woman done to him? He didn’t normally act like such a fool.

 

Adelina was a master at dissembling. The princess made herself into what she thought those around her wanted or needed. Masks came and went until even Nadyah was unsure of who the female truly was underneath them all.

 

Varan leaned against the guard station and gave her a cocky smile. “I set up my scanner to recognize your retina whenever you’re within a two block radius of my court.”

She narrowed her eyes at him and ground her teeth, not sure whether to be flattered or irritated. “Why in the gods’ name would you do that, simply to annoy me?”

 

Sirus rubbed a hand over his face and shook his head. “No, this is simply moving very fast. I wanted to speak with you, not defile you.”

She smiled at his choice of words, as if she were somehow the innocent and naïve one. “I believe I was the one doing the defiling.” 

 

“I would wait until the stars changed if you asked it of me.”

 


My (Writing) Life

OMG YOU GUYS! PEACE IN FLAMES is going up for preorder next week! If I were a good little girl I’d have already had it up and running, but…. this week got away from me. (Any fellow book bloggers interested in a YA contemporary romance novella, hit me up! I’d love to send you a review copy! Those who already asked will be getting theirs next week.)

This is also my first post since the new year – HAPPY NEW YEAR!

I’m hoping to post next week (on my birthday!) declaring my goals for the new year. I find goals to be easier to meet than resolutions.

SUMMER OF PEACE is coming along. My editor went through it once, even though it’s not done yet. I’m hoping to finish the draft by the end of next week, then go through again before sending back to my editor.

I’ve also started work on my vampire/witch PNR. I’m very excited to see how this goes. If I keep on schedule, the first draft of book one should be finished around the end of February. Ideally I’ll be publishing by early summer. (I want the first draft of book 2 ready before I hit publish on book 1.)

So that’s about it. I’ve got to head to work in less than an hour, so I’m off to get ready!

Catch ya later, happy reading!

 

REVIEW: Royal Guard of Draga by Emma Dean

Royal Guard of Draga Book Cover Royal Guard of Draga
Draga Court #0.5
Emma Dean
Sci-Fi Romance
August 3, 2017
Kindle
174
The Author
Jillian Ashe
July 2017

In a galaxy far from our own in a faraway future humans have settled among the stars, altering their genetics to create a more peaceful society where dominance and rank are known instinctually. Princess Adelina of the Draga royal family seeks love before political gain and her guard is the only male her eyes see. Alpha is the most beautiful man she's ever laid eyes on and ever since he came back from his training Adelina can't get him out of her mind.

The strength and dominance Alpha has tests her will and all Adelina wants to do is submit to him, but she has duties required by the crown. When her father becomes ill her life, and that of her siblings are turned upside down. Can Adelina find love with her royal guard before it's too late and the choice is taken from her?

My Review

This is a prequel to the new Draga Court series by Emma Dean (pen name of author Jillian Ashe).

So, right off the bat, the heroine of this story, Adelina, is kind of hard to like, at least for me. This epic, sci-fi universe takes place in the far distant future and people have been genetically altered so that they are born with a natural “dominance” level. Princess Adelina is at the bottom of that chart, being very submissive. She can come across as a push over and weak at times. Do NOT let that turn you off. Keep reading.

This story is a short little introduction to this new world. It’s descriptive, interesting, and very sexy. This particular story, as I said before, is a prequel and takes place before the events of book 1. You don’t have to read it to know what’s going on in the series, but you’ll understand the events referenced later a little better having read this.

Basic gist – the princess has feelings for her personal guard. He shares those feelings. You have to read on to find out what, if anything, becomes of that.

I also feel like this isn’t too heavy on the sci-fi so anyone who enjoys steamy romance, who is open to non-contemporary genres, can enjoy this series. It is VERY steamy at times.


Quotes

How one was born was reflected in their personal, natural scent. It broadcasted their abilities to everyone around them and created a safe environment where those who were dominant protected those who served. She always knew who to defer to and how to act thanks to protocol. As a royal she should have been more dominant.


Alpha didn’t move for a second. His whole body tensed and then it was like he let go of everything holding him back. His arms went around Adelina’s waist and held her close. Alpha’s touch was soft and gentle – barely there – but he kissed her back with force.

REVIEW: Midnight Jewel by Richelle Mead

Midnight Jewel Book Cover Midnight Jewel
The Glittering Court #2
Richelle Mead
YA Historical Romance
Penguin Razorbill
June 27, 2017
Kindle
416
Amazon
June 27 - July 2, 2017

In MIDNIGHT JEWEL, Richelle Mead goes beyond the glitz and glamour of the Glittering Court, delving into the dark, political underbelly of Cape Triumph through the eyes of one girl who dares to fight for her freedom.

A refugee of war, Mira was cast out of her home country and thrust into another, where the conditions were inhospitable at best. In a life-altering twist of fate, she is given the chance to escape once more, and she takes it, joining the Glittering Court.

Both a school and a business venture, the Glittering Court is designed to transform impoverished girls into upper-class ladies who appear destined for powerful and wealthy marriages in the New World. There, Mira finds herself subjected to persecution, not only from her fellow Glittering Court jewels, but from her suitors, as well—men she would potentially be expected to give her life to.

By day, she goes through the motions, learning the etiquette and customs that will help to earn her anonymity, even making a couple true friends in the process, the forthright ladies’ maid Adelaide and the ambitious laundress Tamsin. But by night, Mira hatches a different plan entirely—one that, if exposed, could get her hanged in the highest court of Adoria.

MIDNIGHT JEWEL is the extraordinary story of a girl with few options who courageously forges a new path, finding love, passion, lifelong friendships, and maybe even a way to freedom.

My Review

If you know me at all then you know that Richelle Mead is my favorite author. She is my idol, my inspiration, my spirit animal. Richelle Mead is my Patronus. I fell in love with her Vampire Academy series, and once I read her Bloodlines series I knew we were author/reader soulmates. Every new book of hers I read makes me love her even more. So, it’s no surprise that Midnight Jewel, the second in her Glittering Court stand alone series gets 5 stars.

I loved the first book in the series so much I was afraid she couldn’t top it. And then, in some ways, she did. While I loved Adelaide’s love story in the first book, Mira’s is also extremely enjoyable in different ways.

If you haven’t heard about The Glittering Jewel series yet I’ll give you a super fast recap. The books take place in a fictional world similar to England/America at the time of the colonization of America. The Glittering Court is a program that trains underprivileged girls in the way of being proper ladies, then ships them off to the New World to wed the men who have settled in the colonies. But the girls Mead writes about don’t exactly play by the rules, and they all have ulterior motives for joining The Glittering Court.

Midnight Jewel is Mira’s story. 
Mira is such a strong and independent character. A refugee, she’s an outsider and shunned no matter where she goes. But that doesn’t stop her. She’s completely kick ass in a time when women are not supposed to be kick ass. She enters into an unlikely alliance working undercover for a spy named Grant. The sparks between them? Get your fan ready! Ms. Mead knows her way around romance! The build up between these two is almost painful, but Mead is the queen of ripping out hearts, crushing them, and piecing them back together.

The only negative I can even say about this book is that readers who have NOT read the first book may not have as clear of an understanding of how The Glittering Court works, simply because most of Mira’s story takes place after her “training” and she’s gone across the sea to the new world. If you’ve read the first book this should be no problem. If you haven’t you may be left a little confused. Don’t let that stop you though, because once the new world plot was set I was 100% invested in Mira and her story.

Should you read this? Fans of Richelle Mead will rejoice. Readers of historical romance will rejoice. (And did I mention there are pirates???) So basically if you want to give Richelle Mead a chance and Vampires aren’t your thing, give this series a try.


QUOTES

 

“No more alley fights.”
“I know.”
“No more daggers to throats.”
“Cedric, give me some credit.” If we hadn’t been in the cathedral, I would’ve shouted it. “I’ll be the picture of decorum at this finishing school of yours.”

A few other comments from Mistress Masterson’s neat writing mentioned my life at the manor thus far and contained a backhanded compliment: Progressing well for a Sirminican.

“Did they let you in here,” I asked, “or did you just pick the locks?”

“And neither of you understand how badly you’re hurting me! You two are ripping me in half! I’ve seen what happens when neither side back down in a fight. No one wins, Tamsin, and I’m tired of it. I’m tired of pain. I’m tired of loss. I can’t do it anymore—and I can’t lose you guys.”

The irony of using Grant’s gift to break into his possessions wasn’t lost on me.

“Let me go!” I yelled, trying to crane my neck and look up at him.
“Hush, I don’t want to hurt you!”
“You slammed me against the wall!”
“I restrained you so I could find out why you’re robbing me! Who sent you?”

“Fifty—or no deal. You’ll regret it if you lose me.”
“I have a feeling I’ll regret this no matter what.” Grant held out his hand to me. “Fifty it is.”

“These traitors we’re dealing with may be crafty, but even a brilliant man will get stupid with a pretty girl. And almost all of them will underestimate you.”

“You don’t have to like me,” I reminded him. “We just have to work together.”
His response was to take off his long coat and toss it to me. “Put this on.”
“Why?”
“Because it’s freezing out here. And I do like you.” He sounded as though it annoyed him to admit it.

“You really are reckless.”
“I think you meant to say ‘fearless’.”

“Aiana, do you think it would ruin the party if I choked someone?”
Her lips twitched with a smile. “I think the Thorns might frown upon that, yes.”

“Don’t correct me on your second language.”
“Isn’t it your second language too?”
“I’ve been speaking it longer.”

“You’re a little overdressed. Or maybe underdressed? That bodice looks. . .”
“Distracting?” I suggested.
“Cold.”
“Don’t worry. I’ll change so you can focus on the job.”

“Men rarely keep honest records hidden under their mattresses. It’s not the bed’s purpose.”
“You mean sleep?”
“Oh, Mirabel. You’re such an innocent.” Grant took out pen and paper from inside his coat and began copying the records. “It’s like you don’t even understand men sometimes.”

He was an exceptional actor, but he hadn’t kissed me like he was putting on a show. He’d kissed me like he wanted to consume me.

Surprise lit Grant’s face when he opened his door. Surprise and. . . something else. Wariness, maybe. Then, his features smoothed, and he was his usual blunt self. “Wisteria Hollow has terrible security.”

I looked like. . . like a girl who’d just let a man have his way with her on the floor. Except he hadn’t.

“I told him he was leading you into things you aren’t ready for.”
“And what did he say?”
“That you were doing the same to him.”

“Whoa, hey, you knew what you were getting into here. If you want hours of flowery speeches, you’d better go find out if Cedric Thorn has a brother.”


My (Writing) Life

No updates. Nothing. I literally posted my review yesterday, went to bed (okay, I ate then played ‘Choices’ on my phone, THEN went to bed) and now I’m here again, up way too early this morning, and posting this review. This much, much overdue review.

Now I’m going to take a nap.

REVIEW: Kissing Max Holden by Katy Upperman

Kissing Max Holden by Katy Upperman

Read: July 24, 2017

Format: NetGalley E-ARC

My Book Rating: 5 Stars

Publisher: Swoon Reads

Release Date: August 1, 2017

Genre: YA Contemporary Romance

Pages: 304 Pages

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

Kissing Max Holden was a terrible idea…

After his father has a life-altering stroke, Max Holden isn’t himself. As his long-time friend, Jillian Eldridge only wants to help him, but she doesn’t know how. When Max climbs through her window one night, Jill knows that she shouldn’t let him kiss her. But she can’t resist, and when they’re caught in the act by her dad, Jill swears it’ll never happen again. Because kissing Max Holden is a terrible idea.

With a new baby sibling on the way, her parents fighting all the time, and her dream of culinary school up in the air, Jill starts spending more and more time with Max. And even though her father disapproves and Max still has a girlfriend, not kissing Max is easier said than done. Will Jill follow her heart and allow their friendship to blossom into something more, or will she listen to her head and stop kissing Max Holden once and for all?


REVIEW

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

BE STILL MY HEART!

This book grabbed me from page 1. There’s so much I love about this story. On the surface it’s a friends to lovers romance, but it’s deeper than that.

First of all, there may be some spoilers here. I’m trying to keep them VERY mild so they won’t spoil your enjoyment of the story.

The characters in this book are amazing.

Jillian is the good girl. She’s an only child, a straight A student, and an excellent baker with dreams of going to a prestigious cooking school in New York City.

Max is the bad boy. He was Jillian’s best friend growing up, but after his father had a stroke, he took it really hard. He started acting out, getting drunk, and partying.

But these characters are so much more than that. When Jillian’s family life gets rocky, we see her struggle to cope. Meanwhile, we see that Max is more than a party boy. He’s really broken up, wracked with guilt over his father’s stroke, convinced it’s his fault. He’s in a rocky relationship with his sisters best friend, and though she treats him like garbage, he knows that part of that is because of how he’s treating her. But being a teenager under so much stress, he doesn’t have the maturity to handle things properly.

When Jill and Max fall into a physical (kissing/making out) relationship this sparks new feelings and emotions in both. They both know it’s wrong, because Max has a girlfriend, but they both want it.

If you hate cheating under any condition, this might not be the book for you. I personally feel it was handled well. There are actually multiple cheating storylines going on here, and I felt like the author tackled them nicely. Because here’s the thing. We’re all human. People make mistakes. Is cheating right? No. It’s selfish and disrespectful. But what makes this story so beautiful is how the characters deal with their actions. The consequences they suffer. I really don’t want to say too much because it would really spoil the book. I’ll just say this, Jillian feels 100% guilty for having ever kissed Max while he was still seeing his girlfriend, even if he instigated it. She even puts an end to things because even though she does want to be with him, she doesn’t want to be the other woman.

So should you read this? If you have zero tolerance for cheating story lines under any condition, run far away. However, if you want a steamy/funny/sweet romance with a good message – despite the cheating – dive into this one.


Get the Book here:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks

~ Add to Goodreads ~

 


QUOTES

– From an advanced release copy, subject to changing in the final copy

 

Max is little more than a peripheral figure in my life these days, but Dad’ll be pissed if he finds the neighbor boy lurking outside my window like a creeper.

 

I have the briefest, most inappropriate thought ever: I wonder what he tastes like?, before I remember how damaged he is.

 

Just like that, I forget all the reasons why kissing Max Holden is an awful idea.

 

He’s probably nursing a hangover, and he’s sporting his semipermanent scowl, but still. He looks good.

 

I want to go to him because, more than anything in the world, I want him to tell me he’s willing to try to get his life back on track. But I don’t think he is, and I won’t enable him—not like Becky.

 

How on God’s green earth did I think this was a good idea? How can Max and I be friends when I’m hyperaware of the energy crackling between us? When I know how his kisses make my skin sing.

 

“I don’t understand why, but you’ve stayed with Becky through thick and thin and all the bullshit in between. Even though you cheated on her, she still wants to be with you. Honestly, I think you guys are terrible for each other, but for whatever reason, you’re hanging on. At the risk of sounding like a shrink, I feel like you need to do some serious thinking about what you want from her. It’s not fair otherwise.”

 

Break the rules blatantly and people rarely question you—a lesson I learned from Max.

 

“Thank you, Nostradamus. Consider your prediction noted and ignored.”

 

“Maybe you haven’t noticed, but my happiness relates directly to yours. I never want to see you cry again.”

 

“What’d you do this morning?”
“Made fondant.”
“What the hell is fondant?”

 

“Even though I knew cheating was fundamentally wrong, I still took part…. Does genuine emotion pardon unfaithfulness?

REVIEW: Cure for the Common Breakup by Beth Kendrick

Cure for the Common Breakup by Beth Kendrick

Series: Black Dog Bay #1

Read: June 22-28, 2017

Format: Hardback

My Book Rating: 4.5 Stars

Publisher: Penguin

Release Date: May 6, 2014

Genre: Chick Lit / Womens Fiction / Romance

Pages: 336

Reading Challenge(s): Beat the Backlist 2017

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

Welcome to Black Dog Bay, a tiny seaside town in Delaware known as “the best place in America to bounce back from your breakup.” Home to Better Off Bed-and-Breakfast, the Eat Your Heart Out bakery, and the Whinery bar, Black Dog Bay offers a haven for the suddenly single.

Flight attendant Summer Benson lives by two rules: Don’t stay with the same man for too long and never stay in one place. She’s about to break rule number one by considering accepting her boyfriend’s proposal—then disaster strikes and her world is shattered in an instant.

Summer heads to Black Dog Bay, where the locals welcome her. Even Hattie Huntington, the town’s oldest, richest, and meanest resident, likes her enough to give her a job. Then there’s Dutch Jansen, the rugged, stoic mayor, who’s the opposite of her type. She probably shouldn’t be kissing him. She definitely shouldn’t be falling in love.

After a lifetime of globe-trotting, Summer has finally found a home. But Hattie has old scores to settle and a hidden agenda for her newest employee. Summer finds herself faced with an impossible choice: Leave Black Dog Bay behind forever, or stay with the ones she loves and cost them everything…


REVIEW

I won a copy of this book from Goodreads with no expectation of a review.

This book is as utterly delightful as that cover. It is a laugh out loud ’till you cry, unputdownable joy of a book.

This book throws you right into the thick of the plot. To be honest, I didn’t care for the beginning. It felt rushed and Summer felt like such an over the top cariacture I didn’t think I’d like this book.

Then she arrived in Black Dog Bay. And ran over the mayors rose bushes. And blamed it on turtles and Taylor Swift. From this point on I was 100% sold on this charming rom com.

I ended up absolutely loving Summer. She has her baggage, and at times it felt like she fell for Dutch too quickly (specifically because of all that baggage!) but I can look past that. Summer is charming and brass and fearless.

I loved Dutch. He’s a great hero. He’s a sweet, no-nonsense kind of guy. I hate politicians on principal, but Beth Kendrick had me falling in love with this mayor.

The chemistry between Summer and Dutch was amazing. The little inside jokes and flirtations they had were hot, hot, HOT — especially for such a clean book!

The side characters were all so charming. I was able to quickly give them all unique voices and even imagine my dream cast for the movie playing in my head. (Kelly Bishop [aka Emily Gilmore] as either Hattie or Pauline – can’t decide which! Diane Wiest as Marla, Lennon Stella [Maddie from ‘Nashville’] as Ingrid, Leslie Mann [from ‘Knocked Up’, ‘The 40 Year Old Virgin’, and ’17 Again’] as Summer—that voice of her is perfect.)

Every single chapter had me wishing I could read JUST ONE MORE, to the point where I accidentally read 50% of the book in one night. I only went to bed because my eyes refused to stay open and the words stopped making sense.

And here’s a word to the wise, don’t read this book anywhere you can’t let out a good belly laugh. Because I was holding in laughter while reading this late at night while my husband slept, and it just wasn’t the same.

I need to find out what happens next in Black Dog Bay.

If you’re in the mood for a light, comedic, romantic page turner, THIS is the book to read!



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QUOTES

 

Summer had never been accused of being sensible.

 

Rustic outdoorsmen weren’t Summer’s type, but something about him… He looked like he could ravish you so right and then stride off to chop a cord of wood.

 

“I promise you, I’m coming back to fix your landscaping situation.”
“Please don’t.”

 

If Barbie hired Hello Kitty to decorate her dream house, the result would be the Winery.

 

He caught her gaze and held it, and in that moment, she saw him as everyone else in Black Dog Bay did: strong and stern and quietly authoritative. Someone who took his responsibilities seriously. Someone who was not to be trifled with.
And it only increased her desire to trifle with him.

 

“Can you talk sense into a bunch of adolescents sloshed on Alabama slammers?”
”Like a professional hostage negotiator.”

 

“Just make me look like I’m a lobotomized lady who lunches. On something other than grilled cheese.”

 

He took in the activity pages and the facial expressions and the iced tea before asking, very slowly, “What are you doing?”

“Connecting the dots,” Jenna said.

“Coloring a frog,” Hollis said.

“Making this word search my bitch,” Summer said.

Dutch glanced behind him. “Is this… am I missing something here?”

 

He made her laugh. He made her think. He made her want to stay.
Oh no.

 

REVIEW: Her Darkest Nightmare by Brenda Novak

RoamHer Darkest Nightmare by Brenda Novak

Series: The Evelyn Talbot Chronicles #1

Read: May 21-June 21, 2017

Format: Paperback ARC

My Book Rating: 4.5 Stars

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Release Date: August 30, 2016

Genre: Romantic Thriller

Pages: 407

Reading Challenge(s): Beat The Backlist 2017

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

THE HUNT FOR A SERIAL KILLER

Evelyn Talbot knows that a psychopath can look perfectly normal. She was only sixteen when her own boyfriend Jasper imprisoned and tortured her—and left her for dead. Now an eminent psychiatrist who specializes in the criminal mind, Evelyn is the force behind Hanover House, a maximum-security facility located in a small Alaskan town. Her job puts her at odds with Sergeant Amarok, who is convinced that Hanover is a threat to his community…even as his attraction to beautiful Evelyn threatens to tear his world apart.

BEGINS WITH AN ESCAPE FROM HER PAST

Then, just as the bitter Alaskan winter cuts both town and prison off from the outside world, the mutilated body of a local woman turns up. For Amarok, this is the final proof he needs: Hanover has to go. Evelyn, though, has reason to fear that the crime is a personal message to her—the first sign that the killer who haunts her dreams has found her again. . .and that the life she has so carefully rebuilt will never be the same…


REVIEW

I received a copy of this book from Goodreads First Reads. I am in no obligation to review this book, let alone give it a good review.

  

Word to the wise: Don’t read two thrillers concurrently in which a teenage girl is the sole survivor of a massacre.

This was a book I won through Goodreads. (Yay!) I don’t read a lot of straight up romance, but this is a romantic thriller. And though from the very beginning I was hesitant, I wound up absolutely loving this book. I need to get my hands on the prequel and the next one in the series!

Evelyn Talbot is an interesting character. Having survived being tortured and left for dead by her psychotic high school boyfriend—after he killed all her best friends—she’s spent her life dedicated to unraveling the minds of psychopaths as a psychiatrist. Now running Hanover House, a prison in the wilderness of Alaska meant to house the most dangerous psychopaths in America, Evelyn must face her past.

In this book, one of Evelyn’s dearest friends at Hanover House is murdered, her dismembered head the only thing found. Evelyn is sure it’s Jasper, her psychotic ex-boyfriend, toying with her before finishing what he failed to do when she was sixteen. From there, the clues keep piling up.

This was a very fun, dark, and twisty ride. There were so many red herrings it was hard to know who the killer really was. And just when you think it’s going to end — BAM!! Another twist!!

The romance was really good too. Evelyn is emotionally scarred because of Jasper and has never been with a man since. The sexy and fierce state trooper, Amarok (a nickname, which means wolf), is determined to break through her shields though. She doesn’t think she’s worth the hassle, but he begs to differ. The chemistry between them is awesome. I can’t wait to see what happens next for them.

I also really loved all the quotes from real psychopaths which preceded each chapter. Those plus the story itself had me looking at every person I know with a “could they be a psychopath?” filter on.

I absolutely recommend this to readers who enjoy mysteries and thrillers. This was a real treat and won’t be my last Brenda Novak novel.


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QUOTES

 

Looking down at their entwined hands, he moved his thumb over her palm in a seductive circle. “You realize you’re giving me conflicting signals.”

 

Maybe he was as attractive as sin, but they were worlds apart in every other way.

 

Psychopaths dismissed murder as easily as most people dismissed neglecting to send a thank-you card.

 

“I haven’t seen you with anyone since I’ve been here. So. . . Who is your type?” She held her breath after she asked. She’d opened herself up, knew he had to understand she wanted to be his type ….

“Apparently I like uptight psychiatrists.”

 

“I can’t—I can’t be restrained.”

“I’m not restraining you. This is called comfort. There’s a difference.”

 

“I don’t want to fall in love with you.”

“Because of my age, Evelyn? Really?”

“No, because love is the biggest risk of all.”
 

REVIEW: Secret Vampire by L. J. Smith

Secret Vampire by L. J. Smith

Series: Night World #1

Read: April 6-8, 2017

Format: Paperback

My Book Rating: 5 Stars

Publisher: Archway Paperbacks / Simon Pulse

Release Date: June 1996

Genre: YA Paranormal Romance

Pages: 242

Reading Challenge(s): Beat The Backlist 2017, 2017 YA

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

The diagnosis for Poppy was death. there was no hope—until James, her best friend and secret love, appeared in the hospital. But this was a James she didn’t know. He offered Poppy eternal life. Only he could open the door to the Night World. They’re soulmates—but can she follow him into death and beyond?

THE NIGHT WORLD isn’t a place. It’s all around us. The creatures of Night World are beautiful and deadly and irresistible to humans. Your best friend could be one—so could your crush.

The laws of Night World are very clear: humans must never learn that Night World exists. And members of Night World must never fall in love with a human. Violate the laws and the consequences are terrifying.

These are the stories about what happens when the rules get broken.


REVIEW

This is actually a re-re-re-re-re-etc-read for me. Its been roughly 20 years since I first discovered L. J. Smith and her Night World series. (Did I just age myself???) Unlike another favorite series from those days, which I re-read in recent years and then questioned my middle grade taste in books, this series is still as amazing as the day I read it.

Smith doesn’t waste time with describing every little nuance that her readers honestly aren’t going to care about, but within 2 pages I had a solid sense of who the heroine, Poppy, was as a person and how she felt about James, the hero of our story.

I was always a huge fan of the whole Soulmate trope and this series executes it perfectly. For me, there needs to be some kind of supernatural reason for Soulmates to exist, and in a world of vampires, witches, and shifters, it’s very easy to buy into that reasoning. Add in forbidden love and what teen girl could resist! Certainly not this one, even now that I’ve said goodbye to my teen years ages ago.

This is a short read, but it is utterly satisfying. There’s the star-crossed lovers, the villain, and vampires and witches galore! I seriously can’t wait to dive into the rest of these books. Who knows, maybe by the time I re-read the last of them, there will finally be a new release date set for the final book in the series. It’s only 17 years past due.

So should you read this one? YES. This was the book for the generation before Twilight. (And the author also created The Vampire Diaries – though the TV series took great liberties with the story. For the better IMO. But that’s a whole other book review!) So, what are you waiting for? Go sink your fangs into this amazing series!



Get the Book here:

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OR GET THE FIRST 3 BOOKS IN 1 VOLUME

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QUOTES

Looking at him, Poppy felt a pang—as always. It didn’t matter that she had seen  him every day, practically, for the past ten years. She still felt a quick sharp throb in her chest, somewhere between sweetness and pain, when first confronted with him every morning.

 

Until today she’d assumed it was her unconditional right to live. She hadn’t even been grateful for the privilege.

 

You don’t love a girl because of beauty. You love her because she sings a song only you can understand…

 
“There are two cardinal rules in the Night World,” he said steadily. “One is not to tell humans that it exists. The other is not to fall in love with a human. I’ve broken both of them.”

REVIEW: More Than Friends by Monica Murphy

More Than Friends by Monica Murphy

Series: Friends #2

Read: February 20 – March 2, 2017

Format: Paperback

My Book Rating: 3 Stars

Publisher: Self Published

Release Date: November 14, 2017

Genre: YA Romance

Pages: 320

Reading Challenge(s): 2017 YA, Beat The Backlist 2017, TBR 2017

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

He’s not perfect, but he’s all I want…

I’m your average girl at your average high school, trying to figure out my place in life. After catching my now ex-boyfriend messing around with my now ex-best friend, I’ve made some big changes. No more band, no more backstabbing friends and no more boring old life. Now I have new friends, a new job and new interests.

But there’s a certain someone who’s interested in me, and I don’t get it. Jordan Tuttle could have anyone he wants. He’s the most popular boy in school. Rich, gorgeous, smart and the star quarterback, he’s perfect. Yet he acts like he wants no one else but…me.

So despite my fears and doubt, I let him get close. Probably too close. I discover that he’s not so perfect after all, but it doesn’t matter. I’m falling for him, even though he runs so hot and cold. I know someday he’s going to break my heart.

And I’m going to let him.


REVIEW

I received a copy of More Than Friends from Goodreads First Reads. I took one look at that cover and wanted it. It’s so pretty!

Alas, I didn’t enjoy the book as much as I’d hoped. I read through it fairly quickly, it was a page turner, but I guess I just prefer books with less teen drama and different plot devices.

As far as the characters go, I liked them. Both Amanda and Tuttle. They both had depth and character flaws. They felt real. Tuttle in particular. He comes across as the perfect golden boy, but once you get inside his head you realize he has a lot of baggage. A LOT of baggage!

It’s been a while since I was in high school, and perhaps I just wasn’t / didn’t hang out with the kinds of kids in this book, but I was surprised that a book with such a tame cover would contain so much sexual content! As a parent, I would not be happy to catch my own young adult reading this book, which seems to glorify sex in high school and make it seem as though everyone is doing it. And yeah, maybe I’m letting my prudish side show, but those are my feelings. I prefer my teen fiction to remain clean. If anything happens it’s behind closed doors/fade to black, as well as being between two characters who actually know where they stand with one another, because throughout this entire book Amanda didn’t know if she was actually with Tuttle or not.

As a whole, this is a well written book filled with teen drama drama drama, but there is far too much sexual content IMO for a YA book. I’d have much rather seen them at least in college.


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QUOTES

It’s like I’m always waiting for the bomb to drop. For the joke to be on me. No one in a million years would ever match me with Jordan Tuttle. Not even me.

 

Ugh. I’m actually pissed people aren’t noticing me when I don’t want them to notice me. I make no sense.

 

“Wait a minute. You apologized to her?” Livvy shakes her head. “Why.”

“Because what I said to her was wrong. It bothered me all night. I had to tell her I was sorry.”

“You’re too nice.” She’s still shaking her head.

Maybe you’re not nice enough, I almost tell her, but I don’t. That’s opening a whole new bag of trouble.

 

Whispering “sorry” under my breath—because yes, I do talk to my car sometimes, thank you very much—I turn the key and the engine starts right up.

 

I have no photos of Jordan and me together. None. And in this social media driven world we live in, if there’s no photographic proof, then it didn’t happen.

 

“Passion only lasts so long, especially with those two. They are a prime example that you cannot sustain a relationship based merely on passion.”