Review: The Real Thing by Melissa Foster

The Real Thing
Series: Sweet Lake, #1
Author: Melissa Foster
Publication Date: September 5, 2017
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Genre: Romance, Contemporary
Note: I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

This sassy, spirited baker is fine with heat—but is her fake fiancé too hot to handle?

Bakery owner Willow Dalton’s friendship with Zane Walker has always been a bit complicated. Now a scrumptiously hot A-list actor, Zane’s always had a reputation as player. He’s arrogant, and he’s definitely not boyfriend material. Sure, he did Willow a favor by agreeing to take her virginity before college, but is that reason enough to go along with a fake engagement a decade later—even if it comes with a real diamond ring?

Zane should have known better. Nothing involving Willow has ever been easy. Still, he knows her better than anyone, and becoming America’s hottest new leading man means cleaning up his reputation. An “engagement” to curvy, sass-mouthed Willow is the perfect PR move . . . provided no one gets hurt.

Now Zane and Willow’s little white lie has turned into an irresistible recipe for sweet temptation. And soon no one will be able to tell the difference between their fake engagement or the real thing—including them.


Willow has always longed for her older brother’s best friend, Zane. They had a night together back before Willow left for college, but their relationship went no further. It left Willow with feelings of anger and resentment toward Zane — especially when he became a womanizing famous actor. Now, Zane’s back in town and looking to change his image. He needs Willow to help him do that by pretending to be his fiancée. The arrangement is something Willow should know better than to say yes to, but she still can’t resist Zane.

The Real Thing was a fun fake fiancée romance. It’s been a long time since I read a book by Melissa Foster. I had forgotten how much I enjoy her writing. She’s an author who knows how to write third person point of view. A lot of the time, it takes me a while to be able to get into third person narration. It wasn’t that way with The Real Thing. I didn’t even notice it. Third person felt just as easy as reading first person in this book. I really appreciated that. I also appreciated that both Willow and Zane’s perspectives were included.

Willow and Zane were a cute couple. She was independent, loyal and fiery. He was overconfident, but deep down had a big heart. All of those things fit really well and complimented each other. I loved that they had been pining over each other since high school. It made their love story all the sweeter.

I do have to admit there was something that bugged me about this book that I couldn’t let go. Willow’s hatred and distrust of Zane didn’t make complete sense. I understand that she’s mad that he moved on, but she set things up that way. He truly didn’t do anything that set out to hurt her or break her heart. Plus, it had been like ten years and she was still holding onto to her anger. It seemed weird since she had been in contact with him at least monthly and had seen him several times over the years. Maybe I was missing something. Maybe I needed more than just a snapshot of the aftermath of their teenage decision.

One of my favorite things about this book was the cast of secondary characters. Willow had an amazing family. Each was an individual with a strong personality. Meeting them made me very excited for what’s to come in this series. I hope they all get their own books. I’m really hoping to see more of Ben and Amelia!

Overall, The Real Thing was a sweet contemporary read, and an entertaining take of a celebrity fake relationship.

WWW Wednesday: August 30, 2017

Welcome to WWW Wednesday!

WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words. The purpose is to share what I’ve reading lately. The three W’s stand for:

What did you recently finish reading?
What are you currently reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Recently Read

The Real Thing (Sugar Lake, #1)
Temporary

Renegade’s Pride (Cahill Ranch, #1)


Currently ReadIng

Fraternize (Player’s Game, #1


Reading Next

I’m still trying to work my way down my NetGalley ARCs, so I’m not sure which I’ll pick next.


What are you reading? Make sure to leave me your link below so I can check out your post. 🙂

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Hidden Gem Books in the NA Genre

Welcome to Top Ten Tuesday!

Top Ten Tuesday is an original weekly feature created by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is  Ten Hidden Gem Books in X Genre. My choice for the week is Ten Hidden Gem Books in the NA Genre.

This is kind of a tough topic. New adult books have become more popular recently, and what I consider a hidden gem might not be anymore. I’m going to do my best to pick books that I don’t believe are read enough. Or at least I’m not seeing them reviewed very often. (That could be because they’ve been out for a while, too.)


1. Sincerely, Carter by Whitney G.

Just friends.
We’re just friends.
No, really. She’s just my best friend…

Arizona Turner has been my best friend since fourth grade, even when we “hated” each other. We’ve been there for one another through first kisses, first “times,” and we’ve been each other’s constant when good relationships turned bad. (We even went to colleges that were minutes away from each other…)

Throughout the years, and despite what anyone says, we’ve never crossed the line.

Never thought about it.
Never wanted to.

Until one night changed everything.
At least, it should’ve …

Just friends.
We’re just friends.
I’m only saying this until I figure out if she’s still “just” my best friend…


2. Where I Belong by J. Daniels

When Mia Corelli returns to Alabama for a summer of fun with her childhood best friend, Tessa, there’s only one thing keeping her on edge. One person that she’d do anything to avoid.

Benjamin Kelly. World’s biggest dickhead.

Mia hates him with a fury and has no desire to ever see him again. When she decides to start her summer off with a bang and finally give away her v-card, she unknowingly hands it over to the one guy that excelled at making her life miserable, learning a valuable lesson in the process.

Always get the name of the guy you’re going home with.

Ben can’t get the girl he spent one night with out of his head. When she leaves him the next morning, he thinks he’ll never see her again. Until he sees her lounging by the pool with his sister.

Mia is determined to hate Ben, even though she can’t forget him.

Ben is determined to prove he’s not the same guy he used to be.

What happens when the one person you wish never existed becomes the one person you can’t imagine being without?


3. Sacked by Jen Frederick

What he wants he gets…

Knox Masters is a quarterback’s worst nightmare. Warrior. Champion. And…virgin. Knox knows what he wants–and he gets it. All American Football player? Check. NFL pros scouting him? Check. Now, he’s set his sight on two things. The national title. And Ellie Campbell. Sure, she’s the sister of his fellow teammate, but that’s not going to stop him. Especially not when he’s convinced Ellie is the one.

…but he’s never met her before.

But Ellie isn’t as sure. She’s trying to start a new life and she’s not interested in a relationship…with anyone. Beside it’s not just her cardinal rule of never dating her brother’s teammates that keeps her away, but Ellie has a dark secret that would jeopardize everything Knox is pursuing.

Knox has no intention of losing. Ellie has no intention of giving in.


4. Waking Olivia by Elizabeth O’Roark

His father’s debt, a failing farm and a floundering track team. College coach Will Langstrom already has too many responsibilities, and the last thing he needs is Olivia, a beautiful new addition to his team with a bad attitude and a troubled past.
Abandoned and broken, Olivia trusts no one — especially not the cocky track coach the rest of the team adores. But when her past is revealed to Will, she discovers another side to him — one she could grow to love.  Forced together by a secret no one else can know – and breaking university rules to do it – Will and Olivia’s connection deepens. As does an attraction that could cost them everything.

5. Burning Moon by Jo Watson

There’s a very fine line between blushing bride and mascara-streaked sobbing mess. #beenthere

Lilly Swanson has been planning her perfect life since she was twelve years old: Meet Mr. Right, have the big white wedding, buy a house in the burbs, and raise 2.5 picture-perfect kids. However, when her fiancé bails, leaving Lilly alone at the altar to face five hundred gossipy guests, her dream turns into a nightmare. But then Lilly makes an impulsive decision—she ditches the dress, grabs her passport, and heads off to Thailand to spend her honeymoon alone.

Or so she thinks . . .

Because Lilly quickly learns that everything in Thailand is very hot: the weather, the merchandise, and especially Damien—the sexy, spontaneous man she meets before her feet even hit the sand. Now with no plan, and nothing holding her back, Lilly lets Damien lead her on a wild, unpredictable ride to the world’s most exclusive party, Burning Moon. But after a week of letting go, indulging her every impulse and desire, Lilly must go back to the girl she used to be. Or can Damien convince her that their party doesn’t have to end?


6. When it Rains by Lisa De Jong

One night changed my life forever.

Beau Bennett has been my best friend since I can remember. He was my first crush before everything came crashing down, and now he wants more, but it’s more than I can give him. Things are different now. I wish I could tell him why, but I can’t.

I haven’t told anyone.

I never knew how much I really needed him until the day he left for college, and I was completely alone.

Then one day, Asher Hunt rides into town with his dark, captivating eyes and cocky grin. He doesn’t care who I used to be, he’s simply breathing life into what’s left. People warn me to stay away from him, but he helps me forget the pain that has held me hostage for so long; something I thought was impossible before he walked into my life.

I’ve been hurt.

I’ve been saved.

And I’ve found hope.

I thought my story was written that night, but now I know it was only a new beginning. Until one secret turns my world upside down…

Again.


7. Left Drowning by Jessica Park

What does it take to rise from life’s depths, swim against the current, and breathe?

Weighted down by the loss of her parents, Blythe McGuire struggles to keep her head above water as she trudges through her last year at Matthews College. Then a chance meeting sends Blythe crashing into something she doesn’t expect—an undeniable attraction to a dark-haired senior named Chris Shepherd, whose past may be even more complicated than her own. As their relationship deepens, Chris pulls Blythe out of the stupor she’s been in since the night a fire took half her family. She begins to heal, and even, haltingly, to love this guy who helps her find new paths to pleasure and self-discovery. But as Blythe moves into calmer waters, she realizes Chris is the one still strangled by his family’s traumatic history. As dark currents threaten to pull him under, Blythe may be the only person who can keep him from drowning.


8. Only for You by Beverly Kendall

College freshman Olivia Montgomery is thrilled at the chance to start over, escape the rumors that plagued her in high school. And she can finally put her juvenile crush, Zachary Pearson, where he belongs–in her past. Then her unrequited love strolls into her French class, shattering Olivia’s newfound peace, and the feelings she’d thought buried for good come rushing back. Now she can’t shake her unwanted attraction to the one guy who can twist her stomach into knots with just a smile…but has never given her the time of day.

Zach’s good looks may have always gotten him his pick of girls, but it’s the star quarterback’s skill on the football field that gives him his pick of the Big Ten colleges. To escape the crushing demands of his win-at-all-costs father, Zach opts for a private university in upstate New York where…his present and past collide. And the one girl he’s always wanted but can’t have–and a class trip to Paris–turn out to be the ultimate game changer that has him breaking every one of his rules.


9. The Hurricane by R.J. Prescott

Emily McCarthy is living in fear of a dark and dangerous past. A gifted mathematician, she is little more than a hollow, broken shell, trying desperately to make ends meet long enough to finish her degree.

Through an unlikely friendship with the aging, cantankerous owner of an old boxing gym, Em is thrown into the path of the most dangerous man that she has ever met.

Cormac “the Hurricane” O’Connell is cut, tattooed and dangerous. He is a lethal weapon with no safety and everyone is waiting for the mis-fire. He’s never been knocked out before, but when he meet Em he falls, HARD. Unlike any other girl he’s ever met, she doesn’t want anything from him, but just being around her makes him want to be a better person.

They are polar opposites who were never meant to find each other, but some things are just worth the fight.


10. There is No Light in Darkness by Claire Contreras

A past hidden in darkness. Her present cloaked in secrets. The future holds the only truth that cannot be escaped.

After the mysterious and violent death of her parents, Blake Brennan finds comfort with an unconventional family. As the dramatic loss of her parents continues to haunt her—and hinders her from reciprocating love that others give freely—Blake embarks on a harrowing journey in search for the truth.

Living in a constant state of fear and need for control, vivid nightmares reveal details that lead to perilous situations. The past begins to collide with the present, and Blake must decide if the truth is worth losing the ones she loves.

Can love conquer all as her past comes to light? Or will Blake realize that there is no light in darkness?


Have you read any of these? Do you want to?

Review: Arm Candy by Jessica Lemmon

Arm Candy
Series: Real Love, #2
Author: Jessica Lemmon
Publication Date: September 5, 2017
Publisher: Loveswept
Genre: Romance, Contemporary
Note: I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Last call! At the end of the night, a clean-cut hunk and a rebellious bartender act on their unlikely chemistry in this frisky standalone novel from the author of Eye Candy.

Davis: I’ve had my eye on Grace Buchanan for a while now. Unlike the bubbly blondes I usually date, the feisty, flame-haired bartender both intrigues and bewilders me. Something about Grace—the tattoos? the nose ring?—makes every part of me sit up and beg. There’s only one problem: She hates me. Trading insults and one-liners has become our M.O. But when Grace bets me that I can’t get a date with a non-blonde if my life depends on it, I’m determined to prove her wrong by landing the ultimate non-blonde: her.

Grace: I’m used to regulars hitting on me, and I’ve turned them all down, except for one: Davis Price. I like giving him a hard time, and he’s kind of cute in his suit and tie—if you’re into that kind of thing. Anyway, I don’t care how many blondes he takes home . . . until one of them sidles up to him in my bar. Nuh-uh. But after my little bet with Davis backfires, our first date lands us in the sack. So does the second. And the third. Neither of us wants more than the best sex of our lives. The trouble is, it’s not a question of what I want. It’s what I need. And what I need is Davis.


Okay. So I have to admit that I was a little worried going into Arm Candy. You see, Jessica Lemmon is one of my go-to contemporary romance authors, and the first book in the Real Love series was not my favorite. It was good, but not the great I have come to expect from Lemmon. I didn’t need to worry. Arm Candy was exactly what I’m expecting when I pick up one of her books.

In Eye Candy, we first met Davis and Grace. Davis was Vince’s best friend and Grace was their local bartender. Davis obviously had a thing for Grace, but there was something keeping him from acting on his attraction. Fast forward now to Arm Candy. Davis still isn’t ready to break the mold of petite blondes he dates, but Grace issues him a challenge. Soon Davis and Grace are going out on a date and surpassing the bickering banter they exchange at the bar.

This book totally surpassed my expectations for it. Arm Candy was classic Jessica Lemmon and I loved it. The humor and witty dialog woven into the story was fantastic. I couldn’t get enough of Davis and Grace’s conversations. They were both such great characters. Davis was a hard worker. He had been jilted by love in the past, but that didn’t stop him from giving his all to Grace. Grace was a little more hesitant and held her feelings closer to her chest. I loved that their feelings and relationship blossomed in a very realistic way.

Another person I adored was Davis’ grandmother. She was a hoot! Her presence in the story was perfect. I do wish she would have played an even bigger part in Arm Candy, though. I loved her so much!

The one thing I should point out is that there wasn’t as much drama in Arm Candy as I expected. Well, there was drama. It just didn’t feel like there was ever a gigantic moment of it. It felt like their should have been more of an explosion at the climax, but I actually appreciated that there wasn’t. The problem of the story felt just as real as the build up of Davis and Grace’s relationship.

I’m really happy I continued with the Real Love series. I wouldn’t have wanted to miss out on Davis and Grace’s story. I can’t wait to see what’s next for the series.

Release Blitz REVIEW: Hate to Love You by Tijan

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Hate to Love You, an all-new standalone from New York Times Bestseller Tijan is LIVE!

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Hate to Love You by Tijan
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Publication Date: August 28th

Rule #1: No hot guys.

It might sound ridiculous. I get it. It kind of is, but college was supposed to be my sanctuary. It was my place to start over. The rumors, the whispers, and the jealousy I endured through high school would all be gone.

No one would know me at college.

Rule #2: No drama.

I’d major in pre-law. I’d make a few loyal friends. Everything would be easy breezy. No one was going to use me or hurt me. I wouldn’t let them.

Rule #3: New year. New place. New me.

Right?

Wrong.

And all because of Shay Coleman.

Football captain and quarterback, he was the big guy on campus. The cocky guy in my political science class with a smirk. I hated him on sight . . .

. . . and he was about to break all my rules.

TIJAN-HTLY-AN KU

Read Today!

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2ggN4aZ
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2wB2Wvp
Amazon CA: http://amzn.to/2xoGkvv
Amazon AU: http://amzn.to/2wKztQc

Add to GoodReads: http://bit.ly/2rwVniM

My Review:

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½
Note: I received an ARC from Social Butterfly PR in exchange for an unbiased review.

Tijan is an author I recently started reading. I love her books set in high school or college. There’s something in them I connect with and they take me back to that time in life. I’m not sure if it’s the drama of that time or the new relationships that are formed during it. It’s probably a little bit of both. Either way, I felt that connection when reading Hate to Love You.

Hate to Love You is college freshman Kennedy Clarke’s story. Kennedy is happy to be leaving high school and her hometown behind. She’s done with drama of mean girls and cocky guys. Kennedy’s goals this year are to study and avoid any unnecessary drama. It’s easily done until her first day of class when Shay Coleman walks in the door. The quarterback is everything Kennedy should avoid, but can’t. Shay’s determined to make Kennedy part of his inner circle — whether she hates him or not.

I’ve enjoyed several of Tijan’s previous books, but this might just be my new favorite. I loved Kennedy and her standoffish personality. She had good reasons behind everything she did, even if her actions seemed drastic and borderline nuts. I loved her hesitancy to get involved with Shay, and the way she proclaimed she “hated” him. I also loved that Shay could see the real Kennedy, and knew there was something more behind her hatred of him. He pushed her in a good way. There relationships was so sweet and supportive.

There were only a couple things that disappointed me during Hate to Love You. One, I missed not getting Shay’s point of view. While I enjoyed the story told in solely in Kennedy’s voice, it would have been nice to have Shay’s, too. It could have brought another great dimension to the story. Second, this book was a 5 star read until Phoebe happened. She made the drama feel a little too crazy and almost repetitive. She came out of nowhere and her storyline was pretty out there. I didn’t feel it was needed.

Hate to Love You was a very entertaining and humorous love story.The characters were so much fun, and many of the supporting characters deserve their own books. I hope Tijan will make this book into a series.

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About Tijan:

Tijan is a New York Times Bestselling author that writes suspenseful and unpredictable novels. Her characters are strong, intense, and gut-wrenchingly real with a little bit of sass on the side. Tijan began writing later in life and once she started, she was hooked. She’s written multi-bestsellers including the Carter Reed Series, the Fallen Crest Series, and the Broken and Screwed Series among others. She is currently writing a new YA series along with so many more from north Minnesota where she lives with a man she couldn’t be without and an English Cocker she adores.

To find what to read next of hers, go to www.tijansbooks.com.

WALL STREET JOURNAL, NEW YORK TIMES, AND USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR

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Connect with Tijan:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Tijansbooks/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TijansBooks
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/tijansbooks/
Reader Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/TijansFanPage/

Stay up to date with Tijan by signing up for her newsletter here: https://goo.gl/9GxnKU
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Cover Reveal: Thirty Day Boyfriend by Whitney G.

Thirty Day Boyfriend
by Whitney G.
Publication Date: November 2, 2017
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Cover Designer: Najla Qamber Designs
Photographer: Wander Aguiar of Wander Book Club Photography

Preorder: Amazon | iBooks

I should’ve never agreed to this arrangement…

Thirty days ago, my boss–Mr. Wolf of Wall Street, came to me with an offer I couldn’t refuse: Sign my name on the dotted line and pretend to be his fiancée for one month. If I agreed, he would let me out of my employment contract with a “very generous” severance package.

The rules were pretty simple: No intimate kissing, no actual sex. Just pretend to love each other for the press, even though I’ve secretly wanted to knock that sexy smirk off his face since the first day we met.

I definitely didn’t need to think twice about this. I signed my name and started counting down the seconds to when I would never have to deal with his special brand of ass-holery again.

I only made it to one minute…

We argued the entire four-hour flight to his hometown, failed to make a convincing impression with the welcoming press, and right when I was about to knock that arrogant look off his face in real life? He purposely dropped his bath towel in front of me, distracting me with his nine-inch cock to “show me who the bigger person was” in our relationship. Then he gave me his trademark smirk once again and asked if I wanted to consummate our marriage.

Tragically, this is only day one.
We still have 29 more days to go…

About Whitney G.

Whitney G. is a twenty-eight-year-old optimist who is obsessed with travel, tea, and great coffee. She’s also a New York Times & USA Today bestselling author of several contemporary novels, and the cofounder of The Indie Tea–an inspirational blog for indie romance authors.

When she’s not chatting with readers on her Facebook Page, you can find her on her website at http://www.whitneygbooks.com or on instagram: @whitneyg.author. (If she’s not in either of those places, she’s probably locked away working on another crazy story.)

Don’t forget to sign up for Whitney’s monthly newsletter here: http://bit.ly/1p9fEYF

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Review: Don’t Tempt Me by Lori Foster

Don’t Tempt Me
Series: Guthrie Brothers, #1
Author: Lori Foster
Publication Date: August 1, 2016
Publisher: HQN Books
Genre: Romance, Contemporary
Note: I received this book from the publisher via Goodreads in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Love comes along when it’s least wanted 

Jason Guthrie has no time for entanglements—between helping out his widowed brother and teenage nephew and getting his hometown back on its feet, his days are spoken for. But his nights are another story… And when his lovely new neighbor, Honor Brown, reluctantly accepts his help in remodeling her house, Jason finds himself wishing his handyman skills could knock down the defenses she keeps building around herself.

Martial arts teacher Sullivan Dean knows real danger when he sees it—even when it takes the form of the gorgeous blonde helping her friend move in across the street. After putting his wayward past behind him to focus on teaching control to troubled kids, Sullivan has learned to avoid party girls like Lexie Perkins. But Sullivan can’t seem to keep his hands off the real woman behind that flirty charm—or keep his heart from landing at her feet…


I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Don’t Tempt Me is my first Lori Foster book. I’ve wanted to try one before, but I just never got around to it. I’m so happy that I won Don’t Tempt Me
in a Goodreads giveaway to push myself to try one of her books. I had no idea what I had been missing. Well, that’s not exactly true. Debby @ Always Booking has been trying to get me to read a Lori Foster book for a while now — and for good reason!

Don’t Tempt Me was a great contemporary romance read. I enjoyed Lori Foster’s writing. In this book, she had two love stories going at once. Honor and Jason’s was the main focus, but there was enough of Lexie and Sullivan’s story to make it feel like a complete story. I did have one minor issue with the writing, though. Don’t Tempt Me was told in third person with points of view for Honor, Jason, Lexie and Sullivan. The narration would switch mid-chapter without warning beside **** and I would be thrown off because it would always take me a few sentences to figure out who was narrating now. It would have been helpful to have name headings to make the switch easier and more fluid. Other than that little issue, I loved the story.

Honor was a very strong person, but she was kind of a mess. I loved the support she found in Jason. He knew how to help Honor in ways she could accept. Whether it was helping with her house or being a shoulder to lean on, Jason was there for her. She also gave Jason something he never thought he’d find when she gave him her love. It was all so sweet.

Lexie and Sullivan’s relationship was also sweet. Lexie was a party girl always on the look out for a good time. Sullivan was down to party, but spending time with Lexi made him crave more. More was something neither of them wanted, but being with each other quickly changed that.

Some of my favorite characters weren’t even part of the love story. Colt and Hogan were amazing. They were Jason’s family, but they went above and beyond to become Honor’s too. I loved them so much and I can’t wait to read more about them as the series continues.

Overall, I adored Don’t Tempt Me. I liked it so much that I went ahead and requested the second book in the series from my library. I can’t wait to get my hands on it and experience more of the Guthrie brothers!