Review: Until You by Denise Grover Swank

Until You
Series: Bachelor Brotherhood, #2
Author: Denise Grover Swank
Publication Date: May 30, 2017
Publisher: Forever
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Note: I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Never settle down. Ever.

Workaholic Lanie Rogers lives a completely nomadic lifestyle. Her job keeps her on the move, and relationships are a complication she doesn’t need. That is, until she meets Mr. Tall, Dark, and Hotness at a pre-wedding party. Complicated? Maybe. But lately, Lanie’s life has been missing a little something—and sexy playboy Tyler Norris offers something she definitely can’t refuse.

Tyler has always been a little too popular with women for his own good. Ever since he and his buddies vowed to remain bachelors, Tyler figured he was safe from temptation. Lanie and her gorgeous brown eyes are about to prove him so, so wrong. With one kiss, the heat is intense. After one night, it’s pure combustion. It was supposed to be a no-strings fling—until these two commitment-phobes each discover the one undeniable exception to their rule.


I became aware of Denise Grover Swank’s Bachelor Brotherhood series when I was asked to participate in the blog tour for the first book, Only You. I immediately fell in love with her brand of contemporary romance. It was smart, sassy and sexy — three things I’m looking for when I’m reading a romance novel. I was very excited when I saw Until You was available to request on NetGalley. I’ve been waiting for this book since the moment I finished Only You.

In Until You, we get to know Kevin’s best friend, Tyler. Tyler’s a reformed manwhore who’s dealt with his fair share of crazies. Being around Kevin and Holly, and now soon-to-be-married Randy and Brittany, has Tyler re-examining what kind of relationship he really wants in life. Meeting bride-to-be Brittany’s cousin, Lanie, has Tyler feeling things he’s never felt before. It’s a good thing that Lanie is only here for a month. There’s no promise of forever if Tyler acts on his attraction to her.

Lanie lives her life moving from place to place opening up a famous women’s clothing store in secret. She’s doesn’t own a house or a car and she’s completely satisfied with that. Lanie is very excited to have a sex only fling with groomsman Tyler. Or she was until she watched her best friend and cousin get ready for her upcoming nuptials. Now, Lanie finds herself wanting more than her nomadic life. Maybe a chance at forever with a certain sexy groomsman.

Until You was a humorous romance. You had two people who kept getting paired together who were sexing it up in secret. Every interaction they had outside the bedroom had some sort of crazy disaster. I can’t count the number of times I found myself laughing or shaking my head. It was so much fun to read!

I loved both Lanie and Tyler. Both were workaholics who only had time for sex. Luckily, the sex they had together was so amazing that other parts of their lives started drifting together. They were on the same page for pretty much the whole book and I loved that. Their chemistry propelled the entire story forward. I enjoyed every minute of it.

My only complaint about Until You was how the story wrapped up. It was a good, strong ending with as much humor as the rest of the book. I just didn’t like how quickly the conclusion came. Everything fixed itself in one outlandish moment, and I kept thinking to myself that amount of crazy doesn’t happen all at once. It was sweet, though; and entertaining.

If you’re a fan of contemporary romances and haven’t yet read the Bachelor Brotherhood series, I highly recommend you read it. It’s a stellar series wrapped around, but not consumed by, weddings.

Review: The Butterfly Project by Emma Scott

The Butterfly Project
Author: Emma Scott
Publication Date: February 28, 2017
Publisher: CreateSpace
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Note: I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

“Where you are is home…”

At age fourteen, Zelda Rossi witnessed the unthinkable, and has spent the last ten years hardening her heart against the guilt and grief. She channels her pain into her art: a dystopian graphic novel where vigilantes travel back in time to stop heinous crimes—like child abduction—before they happen. Zelda pitches her graphic novel to several big-time comic book publishers in New York City, only to have her hopes crash and burn. Circumstances leave her stranded in an unfamiliar city, and in an embarrassing moment of weakness, she meets a guarded young man with a past he’d do anything to change…

Beckett Copeland spent two years in prison for armed robbery, and is now struggling to keep his head above water. A bike messenger by day, he speeds around New York City, riding fast and hard but going nowhere, his criminal record holding him back almost as much as the guilt of his crime.

Zelda and Beckett form a grudging alliance of survival, and in between their stubborn clash of wills, they slowly begin to provide each other with the warmth of forgiveness, healing, and maybe even love. But when Zelda and Beckett come face to face with their pasts, they must choose to hold on to the guilt and regret that bind them, or let go and open their hearts for a shot at happiness.

The Butterfly Project is a novel that reveals the power of forgiveness, and how even the smallest decisions of the heart can—like the flutter of a butterfly’s wings—create currents that strengthen into gale winds, altering the course of a life forever.


The Butterfly Project has been sitting on my Kindle waiting to be read since February. I kept putting off reading it because I knew I was going to be in for an emotional ride. Emma Scott is an amazing author, but she packs a powerful emotional punch in all of her books. I wasn’t sure I was ready for the experience The Butterfly Project was going to give me yet.

I’m so happy I went ahead and started reading it. I loved The Butterfly Project! It was definitely an emotional read, but it immediately drew me and had me invested. I wasn’t willing to put the book down. I stayed up way too late reading it because I needed to know what was going to happen to Zelda and Bennett.

If you haven’t read Emma Scott’s Full Tilt duet, you may not know that Zelda was an employee of Theo’s Las Vegas tattoo shop. She’s decided to branch off on her own, and take her comic book to shop publishers in New York. The reception of her comic book is not what she had hoped, and she has to figure out how to spend more time in New York to make the revisions she needs to it. Zelda refuses to give up on the one thing that may help her entire family heal. A chance encounter with Beckett gives her the possibility to stay in New York.

Beckett isn’t super thrilled to have Zelda around. He’s got his own tragedies and regret to deal with. What begins as a partnership, slowly turns into companionship for Beckett. He realizes maybe he’s not as alone as he thought. His friendship with Zelda is the only thing heating up his cold and dreary days.

The more entwined their lives get, the more Zelda and Beckett want more from each other. Before they can truly fall, let will have to decide if they can let go of the past and live in the future.

Zelda and Beckett were really amazing characters. Both were living their lives by the day, trying to make it through. They were emotionally stunted by things they wished they could change in their pasts. The sadness and guilt connected them, but their different outlooks on each other’s situation brought a strength to their friendship. Zelda knew what Beckett needed and Beckett knew what Zelda needed. Their friendship turning into a romantic relationship was inevitable. They got each other and their chemistry was off the charts. I loved every minute of their romance.

All of the secondary characters were magic. Each brought a little bit of something special to the story. I especially loved Zelda and Beckett’s Italian neighbor lady. She cracked me up! I also loved getting a tiny bit of Theo in this story. I had forgotten how much I missed him.

One thing I thought was super cool in this story was the use of the comic book. I liked the glimpses of it I got to see and how the story created helped Zelda and Beckett heal. It was a cool way to connect two characters.

I don’t know what else to say about The Butterfly Project except that I loved it. I would highly recommend it to new adult romance readers. The healing and love in this story is amazing. I’m so happy I finally read it!!!

Review: Buns by Alice Clayton

Buns
Series: Hudson Valley, #3
Author: Alice Clayton
Publication Date: May 23, 2017
Publisher: Gallery Books
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Note: I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Clara Morgan is living the dream, if you can call rebranding hotels that are desperate for a new life and running any kind of marathon a dream. Which she does. But the career she loves and the endurance races that keep her adrenaline pumping have kept her too busy to put down any roots. Growing up in foster care, she’s never been able to establish traditions of her own, which may be why she’s fascinated by the rituals that generations-old family resorts are known for. She’s especially interested in the Bryant Mountain House, and not just for their secret recipe for the yummy, gooey, can’t-get-enough-of Hot Cross Buns….

Archie Bryant, the man with the Buns, is fifth generation and one-day-owner of the charming yet run-down Bryant Mountain House in Bailey Falls, New York. He’s determined to save his family’s legacy from the wrecking ball the old-fashioned way—by gritting his teeth and doing what needs to be done. There’s no way Archie will be influenced by the new hotel branding expert his father brought in to turn one hundred and fifty years of tradition on its head just to attract a faster, younger, slicker crowd. But when some of Clara’s ideas start bringing in new, paying customers, Archie can’t deny that she may have just given him a shot at keeping his resort open.

It’s sticky, it’s messy, it’s sweet, it’s Buns.


Lately, I’ve read some contemporary romances that have been good but not great. They’ve just been a bit lackluster and left me craving a really great read. Buns was that really great read.

In Buns, Clara has been given the task of helping make Bryant Mountain House profitable again. She has all sorts of great ideas, but unfortunately the owner’s son isn’t quite on board. Clara knows she’s right and is willing to do what it takes to make Archie Bryant see reason. When some of Clara’s suggestions work, Archie realizes he needs to give her a chance in more ways than one.

Having read the first two books in the Hudson Valley series, I was pretty sure I was going to love Buns. As always, I loved Alice Clayton’s witty writing. It wasn’t as over the top funny as the previous books, but that didn’t bother me. The amount of humor in the story went well with Clara’s personality.  There were still many hilarious moments, but there were also some serious and soul-searching ones. I loved how they balanced each other out.

Clara was a more serious character than her friends. She based her life on the achievements she wanted to complete. Clara had her two close friends, Natalie and Roxie, but other than that she was a lone wolf. She didn’t see love or family in the future for herself. Her career was everything. That made her relationship with Archie come as a shock to her. It was fun to see Clara all flustered at the idea of a relationship with uptight Archie.

I adored Archie. He had a couple hang ups of his own, but for the most part he knew what he wanted. He put faith in all of the things Clara didn’t. I loved how he dealt with Clara’s fears, and didn’t hold them against her. He was just a really great guy. I would have loved to get his perspective on the whole thing, but it wasn’t necessary to the story.

Another really fun thing in Buns was getting to see some of my old Bailey Falls friends. Natalie will always be my favorite Hudson Valley girl, and she added some great moments to this story. I also loved seeing Chad and Logan again. I wish those two would get a book of their own! Oh! I can’t forget this! Fans of Wallbanger will love a visit from our favorite neighbor and decorator, Caroline!

Buns was a great addition to the Hudson Valley series. It was so much fun to explore another part of Bailey Falls and get to know Clara and Archie. I loved the sweet romance wrapped in humor. Buns restored my faith in contemporary romances again.

Review: 180 Seconds by Jessica Park

180 Seconds
Author: Jessica Park
Publication Date: April 25, 2017
Publisher: Skyscape
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Note: I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Some people live their entire lives without changing their perspective. For Allison Dennis, all it takes is 180 seconds…

After a life spent bouncing from one foster home to the next, Allison is determined to keep others at arm’s length. Adopted at sixteen, she knows better than to believe in the permanence of anything. But as she begins her third year in college, she finds it increasingly difficult to disappear into the white noise pouring from her earbuds.

One unsuspecting afternoon, Allison is roped into a social experiment just off campus. Suddenly, she finds herself in front of a crowd, forced to interact with a complete stranger for 180 seconds. Neither she, nor Esben Baylor, the dreamy social media star seated opposite her, is prepared for the outcome.

When time is called, the intensity of the experience overwhelms Allison and Esben in a way that unnerves and electrifies them both. With a push from her oldest friend, Allison embarks on a journey to find out if what she and Esben shared is the real thing—and if she can finally trust in herself, in others, and in love.


I’ve been sitting here staring at my computer screen for a while now trying to put together this review. It’s been hard because I don’t think I can adequately write about how 180 Seconds made me feel. Just thinking about this book makes me so emotional.

Jessica Park has been one of my auto-buy authors since I stumbled upon her novel Left Drowning. I’ve read every one of her books because they always manage to touch me in ways I’m not expecting. She has me wanting to know her characters and everything about them from the first sentence, chapter and page. I’m always surprised by what I find, but never by how much I enjoy the journey. And I loved the journey I took in 180 Seconds. There was so much raw emotion in it. I couldn’t help being swallowed up by all of the feelings. So many things touched me deeply. I tried to hold back tears so many times unsuccessfully. 180 Seconds made me feel more than a book has made me feel in a long time.

Allison was such a vulnerable character. Everything about her life had been and was hard. She wasn’t your typical college student. She craved privacy and anonymity. Allison was afraid to let people in. That made being pulled into a social experiment with the famous Ebsen Baylor all the more nerve-wracking. Spending 180 seconds with him did something to her, something big. It was exciting and stressful to be in her mind.

Ebsen’s point of view wasn’t included in this book, but I didn’t need it. His character was so open that his thoughts and feelings came across well. I loved his part in Allison’s awakening. Their connection was so raw. I could feel it. He was an exceptionally amazing guy, and learning what experiences made him who he was made me believe Ebsen could actually be as amazing as he was.

All of the secondary characters in this book were incredibly important to the story. I adored them all, and I would love to read future books about their stories. I do have to rave about one particular character, though: Steffi. Steffi was Allison’s best friend. She was a tough cookie and the only person Allison could rely on for a long time. I loved how they got each other as only best friends can. The way Steffi pushed Allison out of her comfort zone was very special. Their friendship was truly touching.

One of my favorite things about 180 Seconds was how it portrayed social media. It showed the good and bad of being so connected in this day and age. It also showed how easy it is to be happy about the positive recognition received and how hard it is to deal with the negative.

This is where I’m going to stop my review. I know I haven’t told you much about the story itself, but I don’t want to give anything away. 180 Seconds was such a beautifully written journey. It’s one that should be experienced for yourself. What I will say is that I absolutely adored this book. I didn’t put it down once I started it. I couldn’t. It was just too special to take a break from. 180 Seconds is going on the list of books I recommend to friends, and will be one I give often as a gift.

Review: Hot Shot by Kelly Jamieson

Hot Shot
Series: Last Shot, #2

Author: Kelly Jamieson
Publication Date: May 16, 2017
Publisher: Loveswept
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Military Romance
Note: I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Synopsis:

A former Navy SEAL and current bad boy bar owner learns to trust a free spirit in this steamy novel of unexpected romance from the bestselling author of Body Shot and the Heller Brothers series.

Marco Solis knows that if he gets too close to people they disappear. His parents were deported back to Mexico when he was fourteen, his fiancée married someone else while he was in the military, and now his business partner’s spending more time with his girl than with Marco. For better or worse, that’s how Marco meets Carrie Garner. She’s legitimately model-hot. She’s also a nut—a wild, artsy, unapproachable nut. So why is Marco so interested in cracking her shell?

Although Carrie Garner is a natural in front of the camera, her dream is to make it as a photographer. Soon she’ll be heading to Spain for design school, and she’ll miss her best friend, Hayden, like crazy. She’ll even miss Hayden’s boyfriend, Beck—but she won’t miss Beck’s partner, Marco. Bossy, brooding, and annoyingly sexy, Marco really pushes her buttons, though he obviously wouldn’t mind pushing her buttons in an up-against-the-wall, hard-and-fast kind of way. The craziest part is, if Carrie lets him do that, well . . . she may never want to leave.


I’m no stranger to Kelly Jamieson’s contemporary romance novels, but this is the first book I’ve read from her Last Shot series. To be honest, it took me a while to become invested in Marco and Carrie’s love story. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy the enemies to lovers vibe they had going on. I just didn’t immediately feel their emotional connection. Looking back at the story after finishing, it was probably because there wasn’t an emotional connection between the two for the first half of the book. Everything was based on attraction. It makes more sense to me now, but didn’t help at the time.

Once Carrie and Marco decided to act on their attraction, there became an intense emotional connection between them. They were able to share parts of themselves with each other that they’d never shared with anyone before. It bonded them and deepened their sexual connection. This is when the story took off for me and I fell in love.

Carrie and Marco had some deep emotional scars they were living with. Carrie never felt good enough for her family, or that she was more than a pretty face. She hated Marco because he seemed to only see her for her beauty. Every suggestive comment from him felt like a smack in the face. Carrie didn’t realize Marco found her extremely attractive. Marco felt constantly abandoned. He kept his newer relationships with people on the surface to avoid the pain of losing people. Carrie was the perfect sexual relationship for Marco because there was a time limit. He knew when thing would end and that was safe.

What I liked most about Carrie and Marco’s relationship was that they weren’t looking for it to fix their insecurities. They had plans to do that on their own. In the end, their relationship helped them achieve their goals, but it wasn’t the only thing giving them strength.

Despite its slow start for me, Hot Shot was a great contemporary romance. It had two down to Earth main characters and some very fun secondary characters. While I would have rather it have been in first person, the third person narration was good. After reading it, I would love to finish reading the rest of the series.

Review: The Playboy Bachelor by Rachel Van Dyken

The Playboy Bachelor
Series: The Bachelors of Arizona, #2
Author: Rachel Van Dyken
Publication Date: April 11, 2017
Publisher: Forever
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Note: I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Synopsis:

She’s no Sleeping Beauty. And he’s definitely no prince . . .

Margot McCleery could have lived her whole life without seeing Bentley Wellington again-her ex-best friend and the poster boy for Hot, Rich Man-Whores everywhere. But Margot’s whiskey-augmented grandmother “buys” Bentley at a charity bachelor auction, and now suddenly he’s at her door. Impossibly charming. Impossibly sexy. And still a complete and utter jackass.

Bentley’s just been coerced by his grandfather to spend the next thirty days charming and romancing the reclusive red-haired beauty who hates him. The woman he abandoned when she needed him the most. Bentley knows just as much about romance as he knows about love-nothing. But the more time he spends with Margot, the more he realizes that “just friends” will never be enough. Now all he has to do is convince her to trust him with her heart . . .


I love Rachel Van Dyken’s books, but The Playboy Bachelor was not one of my favorites of hers. I found it to be a bit lackluster. It had the whole fluffy contemporary romance thing going, but what it really could have used some new adult emotional angst.

Bentley and Margo have been forced to live under the same roof for a weekend thanks to their meddling grandparents. This wouldn’t be a problem for the former best friends if Bentley hadn’t disappeared from Margo’s life when she needed him the most. Margo hates Bentley and his womanizing ways with a passion, and Bentley has no desire to hang out with the woman who hates him. The more time Bentley and Margo spend together, the more they realize their past may not be what it seemed.

I don’t want to give too much away about Margo and Bentley’s past, but they were best friends until suddenly they weren’t. Their underlying attraction was still there after the ten years they spent apart, but there were so many unresolved feelings between them. The situation between them created so many emotional possibilities for the characters and their romance, but were they were barely brushed over. Just reuniting suddenly seemed to fix everything for them.

I needed more self-discovery from the main characters in this book, especially on Bentley’s part. Bentley was a weak man who used his mistakes as an excuse. He was unapologetic about his use of women. Bentley wasn’t a bad guy, though. He was actually a sweetheart deep down and just needed to get over his past. Margot was a little better. She had a reason to be angry with what life had thrown at her. I liked that she didn’t give into Bentley immediately and made him suffer through her anger. My main issue with Margo was how she approached a sexual relationship with Bentley. It felt so uncharacteristic of her.

While The Playboy Bachelor didn’t accomplish what I wanted emotionally, it was still an enjoyable read. It had a fun, fluffy contemporary romance thing going on. If you liked the first book in this series, chances are you’ll enjoy this one, too.

Review: Wrong Turn, Right Direction by Elle Casey

Wrong Turn, Right Direction
Series: The Bourbon Street Boys, #4
Author: Elle Casey
Publication Date: May 9, 2017
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Romantic Suspense
Note: I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Synopsis:

Tamika Cleary takes a wrong turn up a one-way street—and straight into Thibault Delacroix’s leg as he steps into the road. But Mika’s in a hurry, and she certainly doesn’t have time for a guy who can’t even look both ways before crossing, even if he does have a cute face, a body to die for, and the darkest, thickest eyelashes she’s ever seen.

Unfortunately for Mika, fate has other ideas. When she’s threatened by her employer, a Russian mafia boss known as “The Thief”, she’s forced to accept Thibault’s help. As the co-owner of the Bourbon Street Boys security firm, he believes he can keep her safe. But Mika has a whole load of trust issues—and the pushier Thibault is about helping, the more stubbornly she tries to resist.

Mika may have taken a wrong turn the day they met, but will she finally let someone steer her in the right direction?


I love Elle Casey’s writing, but The Bourbon Street Boys series has been a little hit or miss for me. Wrong Turn, Right Direction was in the miss category. I wouldn’t say that it was horrible or that I didn’t enjoy reading it, it was just missing something major.

Wrong Turn, Right Direction started out strong.Tamika is trying to get out from under her horribly corrupt boss and ends up in a medical situation that has her turning the wrong way and into Thibault. Thibault wants to do anything he can to help the beautiful and tentative Tamika get on the right side of the law, but first he has to get her to trust him. Tamika’s background and current situation were very interesting and I wanted to know more about them. They made the plot of this story entertaining. I liked how Tamika’s involvement with her boss worked meshed with the Bourbon Street gang.

Where the story lost me was the romance between Tamika and Thibault. I didn’t feel any sort of connection between them at all. I know Thibault was there for Tamika during the most personal experience of her life, but I didn’t feel an emotional connection made at that moment. Nor did I feel one later on as they got to know each other. Tamika was too reserved and kept too much from Thibault. I didn’t understand how he could fall for someone he knew was constantly hiding something. She was so standoff-ish. Their relationship just didn’t make sense to me. I didn’t believe it. That was where this story failed for me. I wanted a stronger relationship for Thibault.

Despite not falling in love with Thibault and Tamika’s relationship, I did enjoy the twists and turns of the story. I also loved seeing the rest of the Bourbon Street gang and hearing what they were up to. So, overall, Wrong Turn, Right Direction was a good read.