Review: Royal Rebel by Jessica Peterson

Royal Rebel
Series: Flings with Kings, #2
Author: Jessica Peterson
Publication Date: March 29, 2018
Publisher: Peterson Paperbacks
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Royal. Recklessly Rebellious. Totally Delicious.

SUBJECT: I’m sorry (Marked Confidential)
Sat 21 May 02:48 A.M.

From the Desk of His Royal Highness Prince Robert

Aly—can’t stop thinking about tonight. Never thought enemies like us would end up naked together. Know you think Im cocky, but come on, sweetheart…don’t tell me it’s not the best sex you’ve ever had.

I’m not a good man. But for the first time, I wish I were. Maybe then I’d deserve you. I don’t. Not when I come from a family like mine. All these secrets…

You’re gorgeous. Clever. You call me out on my bullshit, and I bloody adore it.

I adore you, sweetheart.

You have your new bloke. And I’m…me. The playboy prince. We’re not meant to be together. But staying away from you is killing me, Aly. Thinking about him touching you is killing me.

I’ve no right to talk to you like this. Im sorry. It’s the whisky talking. This is what you do to me.

Rob

P.S.—am I stupid to think you might feel the same way?

P.P.S—I am not going to send this. So never mind.


I have to admit that I was hesitant to read Royal Rebel after reading Royal Ruin. I have been a fan of Jessica Peterson’s writing since the Study Abroad series began, but was Royal Ruin was the least favorite book of hers to date. I just didn’t connect with the main character. But when I saw the blurb for Royal Rebel, I had to read it. It sounded like fun.

Royal Rebel is about Aly trying to find her forever man. She wants the house, the kids, and the Volvo. Aly knows she won’t find those things with Prince Rob, her hot hook-up. She can’t even stand the man. Rob’s not quite ready to be done with their time together, though. He would do just about anything to keep their hook-up status going — maybe even accept that deep down he deserves someone like Aly.

Royal Rebel was definitely fun. I loved the witty dialog and banter. The emails between Rob and Aly were especially entertaining. I also enjoyed the unexpectedly sweet moments between the two. Rob and Aly had a great physical and emotional connection. Their journey toward happily ever after was very romantic. I’m so happy I got to experience their relationship! It’s made me excited to continue the rest of this series, and reminded me why I enjoy Jessica Peterson’s writing so much.

Mini Reviews: Rusk University Series by Cora Carmack

All Lined Up
Series: Rusk University, #1
Author: Cora Carmack
Narrators: Justice Bolding, Dan Bittner
Publication Date: May 13, 2014
Publisher: HarperAudio
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance, Sports

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Cora Carmack follows up her trio of hits—Losing It, Faking It, and Finding It—with this thrilling first novel in an explosive series bursting with the Texas flavor, edge, and steamy romance of Friday Night Lights.

In Texas, two things are cherished above all else—football and gossip. My life has always been ruled by both.

Dallas Cole loathes football. That’s what happens when you spend your whole childhood coming in second to a sport. College is her time to step out of the bleachers, and put the playing field (and the players) in her past.

But life doesn’t always go as planned. As if going to the same college as her football star ex wasn’t bad enough, her father, a Texas high school coaching phenom, has decided to make the jump to college ball… as the new head coach at Rusk University. Dallas finds herself in the shadows of her father and football all over again.

Carson McClain is determined to go from second-string quarterback to the starting line-up. He needs the scholarship and the future that football provides. But when a beautiful redhead literally falls into his life, his focus is more than tested. It’s obliterated.

Dallas doesn’t know Carson is on the team. Carson doesn’t know that Dallas is his new coach’s daughter.

And neither of them know how to walk away from the attraction they feel.


I have always been interested in the Rusk University series, but I had not gotten around to reading it yet. When I saw that All Lined Up was available as an audiobook through my library, I jumped on the chance to listen to it. I knew from the moment I began that I was going to love this book, and I did!

I loved Cora Carmack’s writing style. Her books have the feel I’m looking for when I reach for a new adult sports romance. There’s college, there’s the sport, there’s emotion, and there’s two characters who are perfect for each other. I absolutely adored Dallas and Carson’s love story. I loved how it built slowly, and being together made them stronger apart. It was a fun, sweet romance.

I also have to add that this was a great book to listen to! The narrators were amazing. They truly brought this story to life.



All Broke Down
Series: Rusk University, #2
Author: Cora Carmack
Publication Date: October 28, 2014
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance, Sports

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Dylan fights for lost causes. Probably because she used to be one.

Environmental issues, civil rights, corrupt corporations, and politicians you name it, she’s probably been involved in a protest. When her latest cause lands her in jail overnight, she meets Silas Moore. He’s in for a different kind of fighting. And though he’s arrogant and infuriating, she can’t help being fascinated with him. Yet another lost cause.

Football and trouble are the only things that have ever come naturally to Silas. And it’s trouble that lands him in a cell next to do-gooder Dylan. He’s met girls like her before fixers, he calls them, desperate to heal the damage and make him into their ideal boyfriend. But he doesn’t think he’s broken, and he definitely doesn’t need a girlfriend trying to change him. Until, that is, his anger issues and rash decisions threaten the only thing he really cares about: his spot on the Rusk University football team. Dylan might just be the perfect girl to help.

Because Silas Moore needs some fixing after all.


I’m just going to say now that I’m a sucker for this series! It is so good! I loved All Broke Down even more than I loved All Lined Up. Silas’ character was redeemed in this book. I didn’t like him in the first book, so I was shocked how much I loved him! He was an angry young man who needed someone to believe in and love him. Dylan was the perfect person for the job! I loved how they each gave each other the support (and lessons) they needed to be happier and healthier people.

I also have to mention this book made me really, really want Stella’s book. I know it’s not the next one, but I’m hoping I get to read it someday soon.



All Played Out
Series: Rusk University, #3
Author: Cora Carmack
Publication Date: May 12, 2015
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance, Sports

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

First person in her family to go to college? CHECK.
Straight A’s? CHECK.
On track to graduate early? CHECK.
Social life? …..yeah, about that….

With just a few weeks until she graduates, Antonella DeLuca’s beginning to worry that maybe she hasn’t had the full college experience. (Okay… Scratch that. She knows she hasn’t had the full college experience).

So Nell does what a smart, dedicated girl like herself does best. She makes a “to do” list of normal college activities.

Item #1? Hook up with a jock.

Rusk University wide receiver Mateo Torres practically wrote the playbook for normal college living. When he’s not on the field, he excels at partying, girls, and more partying. As long as he keeps things light and easy, it’s impossible to get hurt… again. But something about the quiet, shy, sexy-as-hell Nell gets under his skin, and when he learns about her list, he makes it his mission to help her complete it.

Torres is the definition of confident (And sexy. And wild), and he opens up a side of Nell that she’s never known. But as they begin to check off each crazy, exciting, normal item, Nell finds that her frivolous list leads to something more serious than she bargained for. And while Torres is used to taking risks on the field, he has to decide if he’s willing to take the chance when it’s more than just a game.

Together they will have to decide if what they have is just part of the experiment or a chance at something real.


I really wanted Stella’s book, but if I had to read another character’s in the mean time I’m happy it was Torres’. The guy made me smile the minute I met him, and it was fun to get to know the deeper side of him. He was definitely swoon worthy. I loved how he wanted to take care of Nell and help her accomplish her list.

Nell was a fun character, too. She was all studious and series. I adored how Torres sent her head into a spin. I loved how her relationship with him taught her more about living life to the fullest.

Torres and Nell’s relationship was so sweet I adored it unfolded. I loved this book so much that I’m having a hard time deciding whether it has surpassed book 2 as my favorite or not.


Overall feelings about this series? It was exactly what I want in a new adult sports romance series. It was amazing. I loved how it was set at a university with a developing football team, and that those players were the focus. It was cool how all of the characters were connected in a way. That made their stories even more fun to read. I can’t wait for Cora Carmack to release another book in this series.

Review: Penalty by Jacob Chance

Penalty
Author: Jacob Chance
Publication Date: May 12, 2017
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sports

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

He’s the bad boy quarterback of Boston University’s football team. As the son of a former NFL player, he’s showered with attention and praise twenty-four-seven. One flash of his smile and all the girls fall at his feet – or should I say to their knees?

And then there’s me.

Brady Lincoln is the last person I want attention from. He’s the kind of guy my father warned me about. His play on the field is legendary and his play with the ladies, even more so. I’ve managed to stay off his radar until recently.

What happens when the cocky quarterback breaks all the rules to win my heart?


The other day I was thumbing through my news feed on Facebook and came across Jacob Chance promoting his book in a blogging group I’ve joined. I hadn’t heard of him before, but his books sounded like something I might be interested in. Penalty was part of Amazon’s KU program, so I decided to give it a try.

I really enjoyed Penalty. There’s something slightly different about reading a romance written by a male author. It’s hard to explain, but it has to do with the hero’s point of view. Their thoughts feel a little rawer, a little dirtier. I liked it. It made me want to read a romance collaboration between a female author and male author. I’m now curious to how real that book would feel…

But anyways. Back to Penalty. Like I said, I enjoyed it. The writing was great. I loved the characters. I thought both Harlow and Brady had distinctive voices, and were easy to relate to. Their relationship was really adorable, and I loved how Brady made Harlow fall for him. My only complaint was that it was hard to believe how quickly Brady changed his outlook on women. One minute he was a player, the next he was wooing the girl. Their wasn’t the transition I was expecting. It wasn’t that big of deal, though; because I loved Brady when he was wooing Harlow. I adored their relationship!!!

Jacob Chance did an amazing job with the climax of this story. I didn’t foresee what was coming until right before it happened. Usually I can tell what the problem is going to be for the couple from the beginning. That wasn’t the case with this book. I loved that!

Another thing I loved about Penalty was the secondary characters. They were all great, but Nick was my favorite. I was really, really happy to learn that he has a book of his own! I’m planning on downloading it as soon as I finish writing this review.

Overall, Penalty was a fun new adult sports romance. This may have been my first book by Jacob Chance, but it won’t be my last. I’m excited to explore his back list.

Review: Cracked Kingdom by Erin Watt

Cracked Kingdom
Series: The Royals, #5
Author: Erin Watt
Publication Date: February 28, 2018
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Young Adult

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ 

Synopsis:

These Royals will ruin you.

Ever since Hartley Wright met Easton Royal, her life hasn’t been the same. There are enemies behind every corner and dangers beyond each door. When tragedy strikes and steals her memories, she can’t trust anyone, not even the blue-eyed boy who promises her that everything will be all right.

Because while Hartley’s memory is full of gaps, her instincts tell her Easton is dangerous. She doesn’t know if he’s the snake in the garden or her chance at salvation. The chaos he brings wherever he goes is too much to handle, the intense feelings he evokes are too confusing to unravel.

Easton wants her to remember. Hartley thinks it’s better to forget.

She might be right.

Tragedy. Treachery. Trust. Hartley has to face the facts—in this world, you can’t escape the Royals.

Either you live by their rules or you die by them.


Fallen Heir, book four in The Royals series, gave us an Easton we weren’t familiar with. Gone was the protector and friend we thought we knew. In his place was a womanizing alcoholic. It was hard to match the Easton of the first three The Royals books up with the broken boy from Fallen Heir. Because of this change in Easton, some people weren’t very happen with that book. I still really enjoyed it, but I was curious to know how Erin Watt would get us back to the Easton we knew and loved.

The answer to that was Cracked KingdomCracked Kingdom felt more like the first three books than the fourth. It had Erin Watt’s amazing writing, all of my favorite (and not so favorite) characters, a swoon-y love, and drama galore. I also can’t leave out the shocking surprises it had in store. Those are what make The Royals series so hard to put down.

I have to admit that I was a little hesitant about Cracked Kingdom‘s storyline at first. I’m not usually into amnesia plots. This one really worked, though! It was set up a little differently, and I loved that. Hartley was uneasy most of the book, and that was actually fun. I also found myself connecting better with her character as she got to know herself. I ended up liking Hartley a lot more than I did in Fallen Heir. Having her own point of view really helped.

Easton… Well, Easton still had problems, but what happened at the end of the fourth book and the beginning of this one seemed to pull him out of what held him captive. I truly felt like I had one of my favorite characters back. I loved how he was with his family and Hartley in this one. This book felt almost like a fresh start for Easton and Hartley.

As for the rest of the Royal clan, they were as fun to read about as always. I loved being back in their world with all the deceitful people surrounding them. Every character brought something I wasn’t expecting to the story.  I even liked seeing those characters I hate.

I flew through Cracked Kingdom and enjoyed every minute with it. I was surprised by some of the directions the authors went, but I liked how it all worked out. I’m sad The Royals series is over because I would have loved a book about the twins (I still need to know exactly what was up with them and Lauren.), but I understand why the authors are ending things where they did. Cracked Kingdom was a great end to a truly amazing series.

Review: All You Need by Lorelei James

All You Need
Series: Need You, #3
Author: Lorelei James
Publication Date: April 4, 2017
Publisher: Berkley Books
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Sports

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

A hockey romance burns up the ice in the third sexy Need You novel from the New York Times bestselling author of the Mastered Series and the Blacktop Cowboys® Series.

PR agent Annika Lund can spin any disaster into a win. But revamping the reputation of a notorious Swedish hockey player will take every trick in her arsenal, especially when his agent insists that convincing everyone he’s no longer a playboy is top priority. And that it requires a sham relationship—with Annika playing the part of loving girlfriend.

On fire in the rink and in the bedroom, Axl Hammerquist couldn’t care less about being anyone’s golden boy. So when his agent forces him to play nice with a new publicist, he takes satisfaction in being as much of a pain as possible. But the more time he spends getting to know Annika, the more Axl starts to think that being Mr. Nice Guy might be worth it if it gets him the girl…


Okay hockey romance fans, I have a book for you to read!

All You Need is a hockey romance that had so many of the things I love in it. Axel and Annika’s story includes a fake relationship, a hate to love story, and a bad boy who needs redeeming. It’s filled with witty dialog and amazing chemistry, and the plot was so much fun.

I loved Annika and Axel. Both were stubborn, independent people. This might be something that kept two people apart, but it brought these two together. They made a really great team whether they were pretending or being real. I loved that about them. I also loved how they both had a soft side only brought out by the other. It was sweet.

All of the series regulars also make an appearance in All You Need. I especially loved Annika’s mom’s crazy comments and learning more about Lucy. I really hope Lucy and Annika’s cousin get a second chance romance of their own! But not worry — if you haven’t read any of the other books in the series, you don’t need to. It can totally be read as a standalone.

I can’t leave out the hockey in this book! There aren’t a lot of actual hockey moments, but there are some great teammate moments. The guys on the Wild brought even more comedy and fun to All You Need.

I’ve been reading the Need You series a little out-of-order. I read the first book, the fourth, and then the second. I was sure the fourth book about football player Jensen would always be my favorite. I was wrong. All You Need is my new favorite. I loved it so much. I really, really hope Lorelei James continues this series! I would love books about the Lund cousins.

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: Walk the Edge by Katie McGarry

Walk the Edge
Series: Thunder Road, #2
Author: Katie McGarry
Narrators: Callie Dalton, Andre Eiden
Publication Date: April 1, 2016
Publisher: Harlequin Audio
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

One moment of recklessness will change their worlds.

Smart. Responsible. That’s seventeen-year-old Breanna’s role in her large family, and heaven forbid she put a toe out of line. Until one night of shockingly un-Breanna-like behavior puts her into a vicious cyber-bully’s line of fire—and brings fellow senior Thomas “Razor” Turner into her life.

Razor lives for the Reign of Terror motorcycle club, and good girls like Breanna just don’t belong. But when he learns she’s being blackmailed over a compromising picture of the two of them—a picture that turns one unexpected and beautiful moment into ugliness—he knows it’s time to step outside the rules.

And so they make a pact: he’ll help her track down her blackmailer, and in return she’ll help him seek answers to the mystery that’s haunted him—one that not even his club brothers have been willing to discuss. But the more time they spend together, the more their feelings grow. And suddenly they’re both walking the edge of discovering who they really are, what they want, and where they’re going from here.


Last month, I listened to Katie McGarry’s Nowhere But Here. It was my first book by McGarry, and I fell in love with her writing. I couldn’t wait to continue with the Thunder Road series. Walk the Edge was just as amazing as Nowhere But Here. Everything about it was incredible.

I loved the plot of Walk the Edge! It had a similar feel to Nowhere But Here, but was completely different.  Both books are about bonds and trust between family members and friends. They’re also about the characters finding their own truths, and learning to live with what they have discovered. Oh, and falling in love. What sets each book apart is the characters and their situations. The blackmailing plot and the mystery of Razor’s mother’s death were addicting!

Razor and Breanna were extremely lovable. Razor was a young man on the edge. The mystery of his mother’s death had left a piece of him missing. He never felt like he was truly happy until he met Breanna. Breanna was the insanely smart girl who everyone knew of but few really knew. She was one of nine kids and was completely lost in the middle. The last person Breanna ever thought she would find a connection with was Razor.

Razor and Breanna seemed like an unlikely pair, but I immediately felt their connection. I loved how they became their true selves with each. There was a sweetness between them that I loved.

Just like the first book, I also fell in love (or more in love) with the rest of the characters. I grew to love the Reign of Terror family even more. I loved Razor’s relationships with Violet, Oz, Chevy, and Rebecca. Breanna’s family was harder to love. I mostly loved the younger kids, but I appreciated the roles of her older siblings and parents for what they brought to the book.

Walk the Edge was such a great book. I can’t even properly write about how much I enjoyed listening to it. The writing was amazing and addictive. I adored the characters and their story. The narrators were fantastic. I could go on and on. I can’t recommend this book and the Thunder Road series enough. I am not so patiently waiting for my library hold to come through on the third book. I can’t wait to continue the series.

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.

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.