Review: Then There Was You by Claire Contreras

Then There Was You
Series: Second Chances Duet, #1
Author: Claire Contreras
Publication Date: March 1, 2018
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Love and the right timing were two things I didn’t believe in.

Love is about walking to the edge of the cliff and taking the leap together.
Timing was never on our side.
My first mistake was hooking up with my best friend.
My second came years later, when we met again, and I fell for her.
My third was letting her go, because I had to. Because a love like this wasn’t built to withstand the winds coming in our direction.

Love and timing.
I didn’t believe in either.
Then there was you . . .


Hmm… This is a tough review for me to write. I love Claire Contreras’ writing, but I didn’t exactly love this book. It wasn’t the story that rubbed me the wrong way, but the tone of it. Really, it was because of Tessa. I had a hard time connecting with her character. She was so hostile and angry for the majority of the book. Her anger and resentment made me feel those exact emotions while reading. It was so uncomfortable! That’s actually a compliment to Claire Contreras’ writing. She’s so talented that she made me feel what her characters were feeling. I just didn’t like feeling that way, and it affected my reading experience.

That being said, there were some great things about this book. The plot was unique and very good. I couldn’t have guessed where the story was headed, even though I did guess what the big shocker would be at the end. The last third of the book was definitely my favorite part of the story because of everything that went down. It’s made me excited for the next book in this duet.

I also liked Rowan. Many of his decisions drove me nuts, but he tried to do what he thought was the right thing. His relationship with his family interested me. The more I learned about them, the more I wanted to know. I was especially curious about his relationship with his brother.

While I didn’t love this book, I think it was well worth reading because I have a feeling the next book in the duet is going to be epic. I really, really want to know what’s to come!

2018 New Adult Reading Challenge Update #2

Hi, guys! This is my first update for the 2018 New Adult Reading Challenge. This challenge was created and is hosted by Cátia @ The Girl Who Read Too Much. This month I’ve read 17 NA books:

  1. We Were One by Elizabeth Reyes
  2. Midnight Blue by L.J. Shen
  3. Very Bad Things by Ilsa Madden-Mills
  4. Very Wicked Beginnings by Ilsa Madden-Mills
  5. Very Wicked Things by Ilsa Madden-Mills
  6. Very Twisted Things by Ilsa Madden-Mills
  7. Moonshot by Alessandra Torre
  8. The Vincent Boys by Abbi Glines
  9. The Vincent Brothers by Abbi Glines
  10. The Coaching Hours by Sara Ney
  11. Scoring Wilder by R.S. Grey
  12. From Lukov with Love by Mariana Zapata
  13. Sweet Little Lies by Sierra Hill
  14. Amber by Elle Casey
  15. Emerald by Elle Casey
  16. The Weight of Life by Whitney Barbetti
  17. The Sounds of Secrets by Whitney Barbetti

 

  1. finish a seriesVery Twisted Things by Ilsa Madden-Mills
  2. first book by a favorite authorVery Bad Things by Ilsa Madden-Mills
  3. book with only a male POV
  4. forbidden romanceMoonshot by Alessandra Torre
  5. book you knew nothing about Sweet Little Lies by Sierra Hill
  6. friendship to love romance
  7. bottom of your TBR The Vincent Boys by Abbi Glines
  8. blue cover
  9. LGBTQ novel
  10. fantasy novel
  11. book with a POC main character From Lukov with Love by Mariana Zapata
  12. book set in winter
  13. book about family
  14. book with music or artMidnight Blue by L.J. Shen
  15. new to you author
  16. book out of your comfort zoneScoring Wilder by R.S. Grey
  17. book with number in the titleWe Were One by Elizabeth Reyes
  18. 2018 release
  19. book written by a male author
  20. first love
  21. enemies to lovers
  22. book that makes you cry
  23. book set in another countryRoyal Ruin by Jessica Peterson
  24. book with multiple POVsThe Coaching Hours by Sara Ney

I’m looking forward to participating in this challenge! If you’re up for joining in, you can sign up here. Be sure to watch for my monthly challenge updates.

Review: Emerald by Elle Casey

Emerald
Series: Red Hot Love, #2
Author: Elle Casey
Publication Date: April 12, 2018
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Genre: Contemporary Romance, New Adult
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

A million reasons to go home. One hot reason to stay.

Emerald Collins is nothing like her strong-willed sister Amber. When she found out her father was a member of the legendary rock group Red Hot, sensitive Em was determined to carry on as normal—she had no interest in finding out more about her dad or leaving her quiet sanctuary in Maine.

But while visiting Amber in New York, Em meets Sam, a tortured, sexy, and utterly unsuitable musician. Sam and Em are used to life behind the scenes but their undeniable attraction is about to put them right in the spotlight.

When Sam reveals a shocking secret about his past, Emerald has to make a choice. Will she follow her head and return home or is the magnetism between them and the excitement of the big city enough for her to follow her heart?


Emerald is not happy with her sister Amber for moving to New York to work for the band her father is in. They had an agreement not to let the band into their lives, but that’s something Amber seems to have forgotten now that she’s in a relationship with the band’s new guitar player Ty. Emerald is determined to avoid anything to do with the band. She’s able to do just that until Amber forces her to visit New York.

In New York, Emerald meet’s Ty’s brother Sam and they instantly hit it off. They have a lot in common, and Emerald decides Sam might just make this trip to New York worth it. Things are going perfectly until Sam’s secret calls him back to Los Angeles. Emerald has to decide if his secret is too much for her and the short time she’s had with Sam is over, or if she can open her heart to new adventures.

I have to admit that I didn’t love Amber. I liked it, but her personality really put me off. I was curious as to where the series would continue to go, so I wanted to read Emerald. I was hoping I would enjoy this sister’s personality and therefore the book more.

Emerald was easier to digest than Amber. Her personality was quieter, less in your face. I loved that she felt such a deep connection to her upbringing, and wasn’t so quickly swayed from that way of life. I did get frustrated with her stubbornness at times, but I understood it. I felt she had a genuine connection with Sam. I enjoyed how their love bloomed.

Sam was a surprise. I don’t know what I expected from his character, but it wasn’t what I got. He was a really great guy. Sadie proved that. The whole story around Sam and Sadie was sad, but sweet. I really liked it, and I liked how it fit with Sam and Emerald’s story. It made me like Emerald even more.

I do have a couple of complaints about Emerald. One was the insta-love. Everything happened within a week or two, and it felt too fast for me. I needed more time for Sam and Emerald’s love to grow. I guess I sort of got that with the epilogue, but I needed more. The other thing that bugged me a bit was the father storyline. I don’t want to give it away, but I still feel unresolved with it. I’m scared Rose’s book won’t give me what I want.

Emerald was a fun, fast paced romance. I had some frustrations with it, but overall I enjoyed reading it. It continued to keep me interested in the series storyline, and I am very interested to find out what comes next.

Release Day Blast & REVIEW: Memphis by Ginger Scott

We’re celebrating the release of Memphis by Ginger Scott!
Check out my review and an excerpt below!
Memphis by Ginger Scott
A Contemporary New Adult Romance
Release day: February 23
Goodreads
Purchase Now:
AmazonGoogle PlayKobo | iBooks | Barnes & Noble
 

Blurb:
My mom always said it was just something about the way he moved.

The same swagger Archie Valentine wore in the ring when he took his opponents down followed him like a halo everywhere he went. But make no mistake about it—he was no angel. He was like a drug. My mother was his addict.I never understood it…how love could make you blind and convince you to drink the poison. Not until I met Memphis Delaney.

At first, it was the familiar form. He’s a fighter, built like a god from the past, the kind of man the universe doesn’t make anymore. His eyes hide a story, and every time I’m in his presence I want to keep reading him until I get to the end. And then…there’s the way he moves. His boxing is violent but beautiful, and his body is a seductive weapon. When he’s in the ring, he wears the stare of a man committed to the battle until his very last breath.

He could end me; turn me into her. Too much of him will leave me as a shadow, and I’ve lost so much of myself already.

But I have discipline. It came the hard way. Lessons learned, scars left behind, and trust stripped away from life.

I will breathe his air, but I won’t fall for a man like him. The only boxer who’s ever going to break my heart is the one who gave me my name.

REVIEW:

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Note: This review is for an ARC I received from WordSmith Publicity and is my unbiased opinion.

Ginger Scott keeps amazing me. I have read every book she’s written to date, and with each I see her writing evolve. It keeps getting better and better, which is remarkable when I found it perfect to begin with. None of her books feel like a carbon copy of another. They’re all so different, yet incredible. Memphis was different, yet incredible.

When I started reading Memphis, I was immediately wrapped up in the story. I was so uncomfortable the entire time I was reading it. I knew there would be harsh truths and heartbreak — this is Ginger Scott’s writing after all — but I didn’t know I would be on edge the entire book. There was such a darkness to Memphis. It’s set in this dingy, dark place. Reading it felt a little dirty. It was a weird and disturbing feeling, but in a good way. I truly felt like I was right there with the characters experiencing their drama.

Memphis and Olivia were such complex characters. Their separate histories went deep and dark. Olivia’s broke her, while Memphis’ speared him on. Their meeting brought a tentative balance to them. I was scared the entire time I was reading how this balance could/would/might break. I loved Memphis and Olivia together, and I didn’t want to experience anymore heartbreak than I already had. I enjoyed watching them learn and grow throughout the story.

Memphis, but I wasn’t supposed to. I did appreciate what they brought to the story. The horrible characters added to the plot, and created some twists I never saw coming. I did love one supporting character, though: Miles. Miles certainly was something special. Ginger Scott did what she does with Miles, and spotlighted an issue that needs more attention in our society today. I applaud her for that.

One thing that separates Ginger Scott’s sports romances apart from the rest is her attention to detail. Her descriptions of the sport she’s writing about are vivid and almost educational. I feel like I learn so much about a sport from reading them. I felt this way about Memphis. The rawness and beauty of the sport of boxing were so well described that it felt like I was watching it all unfold on television or in person.

Obviously, I’m a fan of Ginger Scott and now I’m a fan of Memphis. It was a wonderfully written sports romance set in the dark world of boxing. It’s one of those books I’m sad I have finished because I will miss the characters, and now I’m left anxiously awaiting Ginger Scott’s next release.

EXCERPT:
I turn so our feet are squared and glance at his home that I think he probably knows I went through while he was gone. Somehow the money he paid for it seems not enough and too much all at once. My gaze shifts back to his, and he steps forward until the toe of his left shoe rests against the right side of mine.

“That’s a nice story, Memphis. I’m glad you found the bike, but I’m not sure what that has to do with me,” I say, my breath catching as his fingertips trace along my jaw, his touch so faint I find myself leaning my head to encourage his palm to rest along my cheek more boldly.

He brings his other hand up with more confidence, and I’m caught. The other option I had, to walk away, is gone. I never really wanted it, though.

Memphis dips his chin, hunching slightly to bring his eyes in line with mine. We’re so close that I can feel the tickle of his breath against my lips, and they tingle at the familiar. Each experience with him weaves itself into my heart in this way that terrifies me. This is how people lose themselves.

But I let it in—each breath, each sound, the smells and words. His story. I am surviving on the very being of him, and I think I have been for a while now.

“I was eighteen when I tracked down that bike. I knew it was mine…”

“I don’t belong to you, Memphis,” I cut in, my heart pounding.

His mouth forms a crooked smile. He holds my eyes hostage in silence for few long seconds. “Maybe it works the other way,” he says, his eyes moving over my face with a softness that feels intimate and vulnerable. His forehead falls forward until it rests gently on my own, and I let go of the grip I have on myself, exchanging it for fistfuls of his T-shirt. My knuckles run along his chest as I gather the material and close my eyes, his muscles hard from discipline.

“I can’t watch you get hurt. I can’t…”

His hand moves to my chin, and he lifts it until our eyes meet. Suddenly, breathing just got a lot harder to do.

“I won’t lose, Liv. I work too hard, and I study too much, and I will never be in a ring I’m not supposed to be in,” he says, and I breathe out what sounds like a laugh but feels like hurt.

“My fifty-year-old uncle kicked your ass in some display of alpha-male, teacher-student bullshit. I couldn’t watch that…how am I supposed to watch you step in with some guy who really wants to kill you? How am I supposed to kiss you knowing that your lips might never be the same after a fight. How…”

Memphis’s mouth takes mine before I can protest anymore, nothing like our stolen moment from earlier. His hands cup my face and his mouth moves possessively over my bottom lip, sucking it in and letting it slide loose through a graze of his teeth. He turns my head with a gentle nudge and kisses me deeper, and his hands fall from my face in long, possessive drags down my shoulders to my waist, stopping with his thumbs just above my hips and his fingers splayed out around my sides.

My hands roam up his chest and neck until my thumbs run along the roughness of his chin, and my touch seems to somehow make him hungrier.

“My god.” He breathes the words against my lips, restraint giving way…

 About the Author:

Ginger Scott is an Amazon-bestselling and Goodreads Choice Award-nominated author of several young and new adult romances, including Waiting on the Sidelines, Going Long, Blindness, How We Deal With Gravity, This Is Falling, You and Everything After, The Girl I Was Before, Wild Reckless, Wicked Restless, In Your Dreams, The Hard Count, Hold My Breath, A Boy Like You and A Girl Like Me.

A sucker for a good romance, Ginger’s other passion is sports, and she often blends the two in her stories. (She’s also a sucker for a hot quarterback, catcher, pitcher, point guard…the list goes on.) Ginger has been writing and editing for newspapers, magazines and blogs for more than 15 years. She has told the stories of Olympians, politicians, actors, scientists, cowboys, criminals and towns. For more on her and her work, visit her website at http://www.littlemisswrite.com.

When she’s not writing, the odds are high that she’s somewhere near a baseball diamond, either watching her son field pop flies like Bryce Harper or cheering on her favorite baseball team, the Arizona Diamondbacks. Ginger lives in Arizona and is married to her college sweetheart whom she met at ASU (fork ’em, Devils).

Social Media Links:
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/GingerScottAuthor
Twitter: @TheGingerScott
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/thegingerscott/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/GingerScottAuthor
Google: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+GingerScottAuthor/posts
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/GingerScott
Website: http://www.littlemisswrite.com

 

Mini Reviews: Scoring Wilder, Do Over & Burn for Me

Today, I have three short book reviews for you. Two are books I read after reading reviews from other bloggers. I was reminded I wanted to read Scoring Wilder by reading Corina‘s review. I found out about Do Over from Nick and Nereyda‘s review. Thanks for the recommendations, ladies! One is a book my book club is read.


Scoring Wilder
Author: R.S. Grey
Publication Date: June 15, 2014
Publisher: R.S. Grey
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sports

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

What started out as a joke— seduce Coach Wilder—soon became a goal she had to score.

With Olympic tryouts on the horizon, the last thing nineteen-year-old Kinsley Bryant needs to add to her plate is Liam Wilder. He’s a professional soccer player, America’s favorite bad-boy, and has all the qualities of a skilled panty-dropper.

• A face that makes girls weep – check.
• Abs that can shred Parmesan cheese (the expensive kind) – check.
• Enough confidence to shift the earth’s gravitational pull – double check.

Not to mention Liam is strictly off limits . Forbidden. Her coaches have made that perfectly clear. (i.e. “Score with Coach Wilder anywhere other than the field and you’ll be cut from the team faster than you can count his tattoos.”) But that just makes him all the more enticing…Besides, Kinsley’s already counted the visible ones, and she is not one to leave a project unfinished.

Kinsley tries to play the game her way as they navigate through forbidden territory, but Liam is determined to teach her a whole new definition for the term “team bonding.”


Around the time of the last Olympic summer games, I read R.S. Grey’s The Sumer Games series. I really enjoyed Settling the Score, and wanted to know more about some of the characters mentioned in that book — they were part of Scoring Wilder. I had completely forgot they were part of this book until I read Corina’s review.

Despite being a little uncomfortable about the coach/player situation in this book at first, I really enjoyed Scoring Wilder. I loved Kinsley. She was just so cool and confident. I also loved Liam, and how he put Kinsley first. Their romance was so cute! Another thing I loved were all the aspects of training for a college soccer team that were included. Scoring Wilder was a fun book to read, and fans of NA sports romances are sure to enjoy it.



Do Over
Author: Serena Bell
Publication Date: January 30, 2018
Publisher: Loveswept
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Toe-curling? Check. Sheet-twisting? Check. But is that enough for a second chance?

Jack: I’m pretty much as tough as they come. But when a woman comes to me in tears, I’m jelly. Scratch that—when Maddie Adams comes to me in tears, I’m jelly. That’s how we ended up making our incredible son five years ago, and that’s why I practically beg her to move in with me when she’s in a tight spot. Of course, the last time I got the chance to be the hero, I let her down, but I’m not making the same mistake twice. This time, I’m going to be the man she deserves—and then I’m going to lay every ounce of sexy on her until she lets me back into her heart.

Maddie: Jack Parker is hot, and he knows it. What he’s not is a family man, something this single mom had to learn the hard way. Still, moving into his place until I get back on my feet makes all kinds of sense. He’s an old friend. He’s, ahem, the father of my child. And let’s face it, now that I’ve just been colossally dumped, we’ve got nowhere else to go. The truth is, I never could resist Jack. Living under the same roof puts dirty thoughts in my head. And when my brilliant plan backfires, my whole body is begging for a do-over. . . .


Do Over is the first book I’ve read by Serena Bell, but it won’t be my last. I adored this book. It was a second chance romance between childhood best friends — who already had a 5-year-old son together. Both harbor secret feelings for each other but are worried the other doesn’t feel the same. I loved how their son helped bring them even closer together. It was so cute and pretty funny. I smiled many times while reading it. I am so happy I spent time with Maddie and Jack. This is definitely a book contemporary romance readers will love.



Burn for Me
Series: Hidden Legacy, #1
Author: Ilona Andrews
Narrator: Renée Raudman
Publication Date: October 28, 2014
Publisher: HarperAudio
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance, Romantic Suspense

Rating: DNF 20%

Synopsis:

#1 New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrews launches a brand new Hidden Legacy series, in which one woman must place her trust in a seductive, dangerous man who sets off an even more dangerous desire…

Nevada Baylor is faced with the most challenging case of her detective career—a suicide mission to bring in a suspect in a volatile case. Nevada isn’t sure she has the chops. Her quarry is a Prime, the highest rank of magic user, who can set anyone and anything on fire.

Then she’s kidnapped by Connor “Mad” Rogan—a darkly tempting billionaire with equally devastating powers. Torn between wanting to run or surrender to their overwhelming attraction, Nevada must join forces with Rogan to stay alive.

Rogan’s after the same target, so he needs Nevada. But she’s getting under his skin, making him care about someone other than himself for a change. And, as Rogan has learned, love can be as perilous as death, especially in the magic world.


Burn for Me was a book chosen by my book group to read for the month. Since fantasy/paranormal romance isn’t really my thing, I decided to listen to the audio version. Sometimes, that makes it easier for me to get into a book in a genre that’s not my favorite.

All that being said, listening to Burn for Me didn’t work out for me. There were just too many things at play. One, I had a hard time connecting to the characters. I think part of this has to do with the narration of the story. Some of the characters sounded ancient when they weren’t past their 40’s. Two, there was a lot of world building to build the foundation of the magical story. That’s probably normal, but I wanted to get to the romance part of the book. The MCs were just meeting at 20%. Three, not only was it fantasy/paranormal based, there was a romantic suspense element to it. Those sub genres combined were an even worse fit for me.

When I found out I wasn’t going to be able to attend my book group, I decided to go ahead and let go of listening to this book. I’ve read several positive reviews, so I’m sure it’s a good book. I admit I might not have given it enough time, but with so many other books I need/want to read it just wasn’t worth going any further on for me.

Review: Amber by Elle Casey

Amber
Series: Red Hot Love, #1
Author: Elle Casey
Publication Date: January 9, 2018
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance
Note: I won this book from a Goodreads Giveaway and this review is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

In the bright lights of the big city, she’ll find red-hot music—and red-hot love.

Fiery, free-loving Amber Fields has just discovered she’s the daughter of a 90s rock legend. Amber is determined to know more and heads to the bright lights of New York City, a world away from the hippie commune she’s grown up on in Maine.

She tracks down the band but answers seem hard to come by. And then there’s the new lead guitarist—troubled, sexy, intriguing Ty who is anything but welcoming.

Ty is not into commitment and Amber is not into the music yet, soon, sparks begin to fly. The more time they spend together, the hotter things get. They’re bound by music—could they also be bound by love?


I’ve loved reading Elle Casey’s romance novels for years. I was excited to read her newest series, Red Hot Love. I was curious to find out what her take on a rock star romance would be. Unfortunately, Amber is the first book of hers that has given me problems.

It wasn’t that I didn’t like Amber. Elle Casey’s writing is always good. Her stories are fast paced and funny. The mystery surrounding Amber’s father kept me interested. My problem was mostly with the entire plot of this book.

The thing about Amber’s plot is that it was almost too unbelievable for me. Three groupies get knocked up around the same time by a band, and they sneak away to have/raise the babies. They create a hippy commune together where the kids call all three ladies mom and each other sister. None of the ladies know who the father of their baby is, and the fathers never know there are babies. The ladies keep the entire band thing a secret from the kids. It was just too crazy out there for me. I guess it wouldn’t have been if it wasn’t for the commune thing and Amber’s personality, but it was.

Amber… It’s hard to explain other than to say she completely annoyed me. Her personality was just abrasive. I found her dialog irritating. She was this tough, angry chick who didn’t care who she was talking to, but at the smallest problems would deflate. There was just something about her I didn’t like, and I don’t know if I’m putting it into words correctly.

Ty was easier to like than Amber. I could understand his position on everything. I didn’t quite get why he was into Amber, since she was so off-putting, but their relationship was sweet.

My favorite part of this book was the mystery with the fathers. That whole thing was really cool. I wanted more from it than I got at the end, but I liked how everything played out.

Overall, Amber was a good book that just wasn’t my cup of tea. I am interested in finding out where the rest of story goes, so I will be continuing on with the series. I’m hoping I like Amber’s sister, Emerald more.

Review: Sweet Little Lies by Sierra Hill

Sweet Little Lies
Series: The Sweetest Thing, #5
Author: Sierra Hill
Publication Date: February 6, 2018
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Sports Romance
Note: I won this book in a Goodreads’ giveaway and this review is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Lance:
Some lies are meant to deceive. Others to protect.
My lies have done nothing but harm. They push people away. Even the people that I want to hold onto for dear life. Mica Reyes is too beautiful and pure for my tarnished soul, although I want her with a fierceness of a caged lion.
They say letting go of your grief and your sins will unburden you and set you free. But it’s her I need to set free from the pain I’ll cause from loving her too much.

Mica:
My Abuelita always said I should never give my heart away unless I knew it would be in capable hands. To give it to a man who would love and cherish me and put me first above all others.
But my heart didn’t listen. I fell for Lance Britton, the college basketball player who uses humor to outwardly disguise the emotional turmoil that lives inside him. To hide his painful secrets.
But I know him. And although I hate ultimatums, I may need to give him one before the lies between us grow any deeper. Letting go may be the only way to reach him.

This is a standalone book that can be read alone or accompanied by the other books in this series.
This book covers sensitive topics such as drug and alcohol addiction, recovery and racism.


Sweet Little Lies is a college sports romance that digs deeper than just falling in love and playing sports. It’s a story of two young adults finding love while dealing with addiction and racism.

Lance has wanted a relationship with his friend Mica since they met. He knows she’s different from all the girls he’s hooked up with in the past. She’s a forever kind of girl. Lance knows he doesn’t deserve her, but he can’t help but want her. Mica has kept her attraction for Lance hidden deep. She can’t afford to let her feelings free. Her family expects her to end up with a Mexican man. Lance is not one. He’s also a serious partier and womanizer. Mica has standards, and she won’t be just another hook up.

When Mica finally gives into Lances advances, they find a love neither could have truly imagined. They have a connection and chemistry that can’t be denied. Life isn’t easy, though. Soon their families’ views on interracial relationships and Lance’s addiction issues are tearing them apart. Their new-found relationship will have to weather obstacles it may not be able to survive.

I have to give Sierra Hill props for taking on two very tough topics. I loved how she dealt with racism in this book. Hearing Mica’s thoughts on her family’s opinions and those of other people was cool. Her truths were a little devastating, but I loved how strong she was. I also loved how Lance’s addiction was portrayed. He slowly and then quickly succumbed to it, and I imagine that’s how it might be in real life.

There is one question I had while reading Sweet Little Lies. How did Mica truly feel about Lance’s alcoholism and drug abuse? I don’t feel the book touched on this deeply enough. Mica was completely in love with and supportive of Lance, but other than her worries about him drinking, I didn’t learn how she felt about him using drugs. There was no hesitation or heavy thinking about whether she could handle the pressure of having a relationship with an addict. For someone as grounded and determined as Mica was, I expected her to have more internal strife about that than just worrying about if Lance was done with her. It just felt like a huge piece of the equation was left out. That might sound mean on my part because most of us want love to be unconditional, but there’s also the reality of how Mica was treated by Lance.The love Mica and Lance had for each other was sweet, but if I’m going to be honest, it was also a little toxic. If this would have been touched on, this would have been a 5 star read for me.

Overall, Sweet Little Lies was a good book that covered some very tough and socially relevant topics. Even though I found it to missing a little something, it is still a book I would recommend. I think we need more romance novels that deal with both racism and addiction.

Review: From Lukov with Love by Mariana Zapata

From Lukov with Love
Author: Mariana Zapata
Publication Date: February 1, 2018
Genre: New Adult, Contem

porary, Sports, Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

If someone were to ask Jasmine Santos to describe the last few years of her life with a single word, it would definitely be a four-letter one.

After seventeen years—and countless broken bones and broken promises—she knows her window to compete in figure skating is coming to a close.

But when the offer of a lifetime comes in from an arrogant idiot she’s spent the last decade dreaming about pushing in the way of a moving bus, Jasmine might have to reconsider everything.

Including Ivan Lukov.


Last year, I fell in love with Mariana Zapata’s writing. I loved how her books were set up. They are super slow burn romance. In fact, the majority of her books aren’t necessarily about the romance. They are more about the main character’s journey within themselves. I love how that journey leads them to a romance with (usually) someone unexpected.

But back to when I fell in love with Zapata’s writing… My first book by her was Dear Aaron. I loved that book so much, and I was so excited to find out that From Lukov with Love was about Ruby’s sister Jasmine. It was a fact I didn’t connect until I started the book. I’m embarrassed that I didn’t remember that Ruby’s sister was an ice skater, but I did binge read all of Zapata’s books in between reading the two. Anyways. I was so happy to be back in the world of the Santos family!

Jasmine was the complete opposite of Ruby. She wasn’t the sweet one. Jasmine was outspoken almost to a fault. She didn’t hold back, and in the past that had hurt her. Life was also harder for Jasmine in some ways. I really liked how Mariana Zapata portrayed all of Jasmine’s issues and insecurities. Jasmine had to do more than most to accomplish her dreams. Life wasn’t easy for her, and I applauded her determination. It’s not often that I run into characters who share Jasmine’s problems in other books. I wish more did because there are so many people who will identify.

Ivan wasn’t a character I immediately loved. I was such a fan of Jasmine’s from the beginning that her hatred for Ivan became mine. He had this refined almost silent personality thing going on. I had as many problems reading his thoughts at first as Jasmine did. Luckily, it didn’t take me long to find some good in Ivan. I ended up loving his sneaky tactics to worm his way into Jasmine’s heart.

Jasmine and Ivan had a snarky, competitive frenemy relationship that I loved. Ivan could easily give back what Ruby dished out. I loved how much his character complimented hers. Any time Jasmine and Ivan were together, it was like powder keg waiting to go off. There was that much electricity between them. I absolutely adored their relationship and how it slowly built.

I mentioned earlier being happy to be back with the Santos family again. That was because they have such amazing family dynamics. I loved how Jasmine interacted with her siblings and her mom. She had a very close-knit relationship with her family with the exception of her father. Her dad was another story. That relationship was so tough, but I loved how Jasmine dealt with it in the end. Ivan’s family seemed to be just as tight as the Santos family. I didn’t get to see too much of them, but what I saw I loved.

One of the things that impressed me the most in From Lukov with Love was the figure skating. Man, was the attention to detail about it good. It feels weird saying that because I wasn’t watching it, but I feel like I learned a lot about what it takes to be a figure skater. It’s something I’ve never really thought about before. All that practicing and falling and…well, just everything. It’s made me excited to watch the competition in the upcoming Winter Olympics. I gained even more respect for those athletes than I had before.

Sorry, this review is starting to feel long and rambly. I can’t help it. I loved everything about this book. Everything. I cannot find one fault with it. Well, except maybe that I didn’t want it to end. I could have gone on reading about Jasmine and Ivan FOREVER. I’m really, really hoping that Mariana Zapata will give us another book about one of the Santos or Lukov family members so that I can spend more time with them.

Review: The Coaching Hours by Sara Ney

THERE ARE NO DOUCHEBAGS IN THIS STORY.

Well, there are, but they’re not who this story is about.

This story is about me—the coach’s daughter.

When I moved to Iowa to live with my dad, the university’s take-no-prisoners wrestling coach, I thought transferring would be easy as pie—living with my father would be temporary, and he’d make sure his douchebag wrestlers left me alone.

Wrong on both counts.

ASSHOLES ALWAYS COME OUT OF THE WOODWORK WHEN THE STAKES ARE HIGH.

A bet is placed, and I’m on the table. After one humiliating night and too much alcohol, I find the last nice guy on campus. And when he offers to rent me his spare bedroom, I go all in. It’s time for the nice guy to finish first.

Midnight chats and spilling my problems turn to lingering touches. Lingering touches turn to more.

And the ultimate good guy has the potential do more damage than any douchebags ever could.

AMAZON | AMAZON UK | AMAZON AU

 

MY REVIEW:

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

I recently discovered the How to Date a Douchebag series. I devoured the first three books in record time. Sara Ney’s writing is just so much fun! Her characters are just the right mix of good and douche-y. There’s so much witty dialog and many moments to bring about laughter. There’s also so many unexpectedly sweet moments. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the fourth book, The Coaching Hours.

I was excited The Coaching Hours book was going to be about a non-douchebag, like the third book. That was my favorite book in the series, and I wanted another sweet guy in this douche-y world. I couldn’t wait to find out who that guy was going to be. I don’t want to spoil it, but I will tell you I wasn’t disappointed. This guy was who and what I wanted him to be. Granted, he wasn’t always perfect (I wanted to give him a good shake a couple of times), but he came pretty close. I loved him.

I also loved the coach’s daughter. Everything about her made this story was much fun. She was smart, sharp-witted, and strong. I didn’t always agree with the decisions she made, but I felt like she put a lot of thought into everything at least. I loved her relationship with her dad and how that set up this entire book. It was cute.

I know what you’re wondering… Are there any douchebags in this book? Yes, there are still douchebags at play in this story. It is the How to Date a Douchebag series after all. We get to shake our heads at the horrible things some our most (un)favorite jerks do to our new favorite heroine. We get to laugh at them when she gets her revenge. There is so muchy douche-y fun.

The Coaching Hours was a great ending to the How to Date a Douchebag series. I’m sad to see this series end, but so very happy we are not quite leaving this college yet. I can’t wait to see what’s next in Sara Ney’s upcoming Jock Row series.

EXCERPT:

She perks up. “Wait, you’ve never had a back massage?”

“No?”

“Ever?”

“Nope.”

“Well, what the hell? How can I, in good conscience, lie here letting you rub my back when you’ve never had anyone rub yours?” She scoots over, pointing to the mattress. “Lie on your stomach, I’ll do you first.”

I wave my hands in front of me in protest. The last thing I need is her warm hands roaming my body. “No, no, you don’t have to. It’s not a big deal.”

“Are you crazy? Back massages are the best—like, better than an orgasm. You’re first, so lie down.”

“And you call me the bossy one?”

“Quit stalling and get on the bed.”

Obediently, I climb to the middle of my bed in nothing but a pair of gym shorts, legs hanging off the side. Next to me, the mattress dips, Anabelle on her knees, approaching my side.

A finger glides down my spine. “It will be easier for me to do this if I’m sitting on you. Hope that’s okay.”

“Is that the approved method?”

“No, but my arms will get tired if I have to lean over you the whole time.”

“Do whatever then, I don’t care.”

I stiffen when Anabelle swings one leg over my body, straddling my ass. Warm palms at my lower back.

“You’re so tense. Try to relax,” she coos, making it worse. “Tilt your head to the side, that’s it.”

I hear the lotion bottle snap open. Click closed. My roommate’s palms rubbing together, warming it up. “Sorry, I don’t have any actual massage oil. This will have to do.”

When her hands make contact with my back, I almost groan it feels so fucking good. Warm. Smooth. Pressure in all the right places, pushing gently into my muscles.

Slowly.

Slower still, caressing along my shoulders, thumbs and fingers working together to soothe the burning on my right side.

“Doesn’t this feel great?” Her soft voice cuts into the silence. “You’re loosening up. That’s good.”

I feel her leaning as her hands move up and down my spine until they stop, hovering at the base of my neck. Thumbs stroking the skin below my hairline, back and forth.

Kneading.

Her torso dips, hands maneuvering my arms, placing them at my sides. Palms slide up and down my biceps.

For several minutes, she rubs my arms and shoulders. Then she skims down my ribcage unhurriedly, in no rush, making little humming sounds inside her throat.

I know I’m not imagining the feather-light way her hands drift down my spine. I remain still, letting her touch me, basking in it.

Remain still when her lips kiss the tender spot of my shoulder where it meets my neck, nose nuzzling behind my ear, her breasts rubbing against my back and what the fuck was that all about? What does she think she’s doing, trying to drive me insane?

Sara Ney is the USA Today Bestselling Author of the How to Date a Douchebag series, and is best known for her sexy, laugh-out-loud New Adult romances. Among her favorite vices, she includes: iced latte’s, historical architecture and well-placed sarcasm. She lives colorfully, collects vintage books, art, loves flea markets, and fancies herself British.

She lives with her husband, children, and her ridiculously large dog.

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Mini Reviews: Briarwood Academy series by Ilsa Madden-Mills

Today, I’m reviewing an entire New Adult series:

Briarwood Academy
Author: Ilsa Madden-Mills

Publisher: Little Dove Publishing


Very Bad Things
Book #1

Publication Date: September 7, 2013

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Born into a life of privilege and secrets, Nora Blakely has everything any nineteen-year-old girl could desire. She’s an accomplished pianist, a Texas beauty queen, and on her way to Princeton after high school. She’s perfect…

Leaving behind her million-dollar mansion and Jimmy Choos, she becomes a girl hell-bent on pushing the limits with alcohol, drugs, and meaningless sex.

Then she meets her soulmate. But he doesn’t want her.

When it comes to girls, twenty-five-year-old Leo Tate has one rule: never fall in love. His gym and his brother are all he cares about…until he meets Nora. He resists the pull of their attraction, hung up on their six year age difference.

As they struggle to stay away from each other, secrets will be revealed, tempers will flare, and hearts will be broken.

Welcome to Briarcrest Academy…where sometimes, the best things in life are Very Bad Things.


For a debut new adult romance, Very Bad Things was very good. It had everything I would expect a book in this sub genre to have. It was filled with romantic angst. I could feel the deep connection between Leo and Nora. Their chemistry vibrated off the pages. The only thing that I wasn’t sure if I liked or not was Nora’s brother Finn’s storyline. It made me a little sick. This book has been out for a while, so I’m going to add a

**SPOILER / TRIGGER WARNING RIGHT HERE**

There is talk of incest in this book. If you can’t handle it, you may want to avoid reading it.

**END SPOILER / TRIGGER WARNING**

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I loved Nora, Leo, and Leo’s brother Sebastian. It’s made me excited to read more of the story.


Very Wicked Beginnings
Book #1.5
Publication Date: May 11, 2014

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

A ballerina from the wrong side of town…
The wealthy football star who can’t forget her…

Meet Cuba Hudson, the heartbreaker of Briarwood Academy:

I’m the tattooed bad boy girls think they can change.
I have it all: a football career, a stellar GPA, and a family that owns half of Dallas, Texas. Everyone wants to be me, but all I want is to forget…

Then she shows up.

Dovey Beckham arrives at Briarwood Academy and looks right through me, unconcerned that I rule the school. I wasn’t part of her precious plan, and it drove me insane…so I made it my mission to claim her, to put her notch on my bedpost.

She would be mine and her heart would be broken.

I didn’t plan on falling for her, and I sure as hell didn’t plan on losing her…

Welcome to Briarwood Academy…where sometimes, the best things in life are Very Wicked Beginnings.


Very Wicked Beginnings made me want more of Cuba and Dovey’s story. I liked everything I learned about them in the book. I also like seeing Spider. When I read his book, I didn’t realize his character originated in this series.


Very Wicked Things
Book #2
Publication Date: May 10, 2014

Rating: ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Born on the poor side of town…

Ballerina Dovey Beckham is a scholarship student at Briarwood Academy, determined to prove she’s more than just a girl with the wrong pedigree. She does whatever it takes to succeed in her endgame, even if it means surrendering her body…but never her heart.

Until the day she meets him, and he rips apart all her well-laid plans. Suddenly, the girl everyone thought unbreakable might just shatter.

Born into wealth and privilege…

Cuba “Hollywood” Hudson is rich, spoiled, and a star football player. With his fast cars and superficial girlfriends, he lives the high-life, hiding his secrets from the world.

Until the day he meets her, and she offers him something he’s never tasted…love.

But once in a lifetime kind of love doesn’t come easy. When trust crumbles and doubts creep in, both will have to decide to either love or let go…forever.

Welcome to Briarwood Academy, where sometimes, only the wicked survive.


Very Wicked Things was so angst filled I almost couldn’t handle it. When I started it, I felt like I missed something from the Very Wicked Beginnings. The story didn’t start off where I was expecting. I still liked Cuba and Dovey as a couple, and I loved their back stories. The only thing I didn’t like was one major ARC of the story. I wasn’t into the whole mob thing and the choice Dovey made. It made me sad. Very Wicked Things stressed me out too much!


Very Twisted Things
Book #3
Publication Date: February 27, 2015

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

A sassy violinist who lives next door.
An obsessed rock star who watches her through binoculars.
And one night when she bares it all.
Life will never be the same in Tinseltown.

Vital Rejects front guy Sebastian Tate never imagined his YouTube music video would go viral, sky-rocketing him to acting success in Hollywood. Okay, maybe he did. After all, he’s a cocky dude who knows he’s hot-as-hell, and it was only a matter of time before his stars aligned.

But life in Tinseltown is never what it seems.

After being cheated on by his ex-lover, his only rule to falling in love is simple: Keep Calm and Don’t Do It. So, spying on his mysterious new neighbor with binoculars seems innocent enough, but quickly escalates into an erotic game between two very unlikely people.

Twenty-year-old Violet St. Lyons is a world-renowned violinist who’s lost her mojo on stage. She hides away in a Hollywood mansion, trying to find her way through her twisted past in order to make her future.

He’s the life of the party with girls chasing him down for his autograph. She’s the introvert with a potty mouth who doesn’t even know who he is.

When they meet, stars collide, sparks fly, and clothes come off. Yet, giving his heart to a girl isn’t Sebastian’s plan; falling for a guy who craves attention isn’t Violet’s.

Welcome to Briarcrest Academy—Hollywood style—where sometimes the best things in life are VERY TWISTED THINGS.

This book is a standalone even though it’s part of a series. Everything you need to know is in this book. Genre: 18+ Hot New Adult Romance.


Ever since I met boisterous Sebastian in Very Bad Things, I’ve wanted his story. Everything that’s happened from the moment I met him in that first book to the kind of cliffhanger of his ARC in the second book had me wondering who he’d end up with. I liked Violet as his love interest from the moment I met her. Her story started off in a heartbreaking fashion, and I couldn’t wait for Sebastian to fill the hole in her heart. This book was my favorite in the series.