Review: Beast by Elizabeth Reyes

Beast
Series: Boyle Heights, #2
Author: Elizabeth Reyes
Publication Date: August 4, 2017
Genre: Romance, Suspense, Contemporary, New Adult

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Synopsis:

She holds the power to tame the Beast . . .

or unleash him if he lets her in.

This close to turning his life around and just months away from the end of his probation, all Leo has to do is keep his inner demons in check.

But the Beast within is about to be reawakened.

One interview was all it was supposed to be. An interview with the daunting felon in the work-release program that leaves Allison breathless with anticipation for their next encounter.

Despite the risks of becoming involved, neither is able to fight the inexplicable draw they’re feeling.

Life keeps throwing them back together until the fateful night they stop fighting the inevitable and give into their desires. Suddenly, Leo has even more to look forward to in his new life.

Until his violent past catches up to him.

With the stakes infinitely higher now that Allison may also be at risk, the dormant Beast deep inside Leo threatens to unleash, ruining all the progress he’s made—worst of all any future with Allison.

My Review:

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Note: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an unbiased review.

I have to admit that I wasn’t sure if Beast was going to be a book I would enjoy. Ali wasn’t one of my favorite characters when I read Lila (Boyle Heights, #1). I wasn’t fond of the disregard Ali had for her own safety in that book. Beast did a very good job of making me like and understand Ali. It overlapped the time frame of Lila and gave me new insight of Ali’s motivations and her falling for Beast.

Ali is one of the softest female character Reyes has written. She was young and sweet. Her insecurities about her body made her very easy to relate to. Ali was timid when it came to men, but also wasn’t afraid to go after what she wanted. It made her relationship with Beast pretty perfect. Beast was the typical Elizabeth Reyes alpha male. He was hard, older, and reluctant to corrupt Ali. He knew the most important thing was to keep Ali safe. I loved how their relationship built throughout the book, and developed into something really special.

I’m not a big romantic suspense fan, but I enjoyed the suspense created in Beast. It wasn’t over the top. It gradually increased throughout the book. Some of the twists in the story I expected, some caught me off guard. I liked how everything played out in the end. It wasn’t what I was expecting. That was a good thing.

Beast was a great addition to the Boyle Heights series. It had almost everything I want from an Elizabeth Reyes romance. (I did kind of miss a kick ass female character.) Beast was a fun read, and it made me excited for the next book in the series.

If you like diverse characters, alpha males, strong women and lots of fun drama, I highly recommend Beast or any other of Elizabeth Reyes’ novels.

Excerpt:

Reaching the room in question, Leo walked over to the car parked in front of the window and pretended to fumble with invisible keys at the door. He glanced up and saw the two figures move about in the room. That was when he got a glimpse of the other person—a much shorter person—who had long hair. There was a light on in the background possibly to the bathroom or hallway just outside the bathroom. The long-haired person’s body moved just so it was silhouetted by the light.

If Leo hadn’t been so obsessed with that ass and those curves he may not have been so sure it was her. The buzzing in his ears began even as he started toward the door, but only grew louder when both figures moved onto the bed. Fuck knocking. As soon as he was close enough, he kicked the door with the bottom of his foot as hard as he could. “Allison, you in there?”

Reviews: Checkmate: This is War / Checkmate: This is Love by Kennedy Fox

Checkmate: This is War
Series: Travis & Viola, #1
Author: Kennedy Fox
Publication Date: October 3, 2016
Publisher: Kennedy Fox Books LLC
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, New Adult

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Synopsis:

*An enemies to lovers romance*

Travis King is the worst kind of asshole.
He taunts me for being a good girl and mocks my high standards.
He’s cruel, crass, and has enough confidence to last two lifetimes.
And I hate him.

It wouldn’t matter so much if he were avoidable.

But considering he’s my older brother’s best friend and roommate, I see him more than I’d ever want to.

His sculpted abs and gorgeous eyes are a waste on such an egotistical man, which makes me hate him even more.

Even though I’ve had a crush on him since I was ten, the feelings weren’t mutual and he’s always made that very clear.

He’s always loved getting under my skin and one night against my better judgment, I let him in my bed.

I’ve succumbed to his manwhore ways, but that doesn’t change a thing.

Because the King is about to get played at his own game—and lose.

Checkmate.


Last month, I subscribed to The Bookworm Box. In my box was Kennedy Fox’s Checkmate: This is War. I was excited because this enemies to lovers story sounded right up my alley. It pretty much was.

Checkmate: This is War was incredibly well written. I could feel the hatred and longing rolling off the pages of this book. The banter was extremely witty and sexy. It fit well with the characters and their personalities. I was so happy this book was written in first person dual point of view because I’m not sure I would have liked either character if I hadn’t gotten in their heads. They were both a lot a little crazy.

Viola was your standard nerdy academic. She loved school, books and Harry Potter. She wasn’t completely nerdy, though. Viola was hotter than she knew. All the guys were dying to get a piece of her. (Kind of cliché, but it worked.) Luckily, her older cop brother could keep them away. I loved her cheeky attitude and the fire with which she hated to love Travis. I just wish there had more behind her hate of him. When I finally found out why she hated him, I hate to say it, I thought it was a little lame. It made her seem immature.

Travis was a cocky womanizer. He wasn’t nice. He wasn’t sweet. Honestly, there wasn’t really much to like about him other than his relationship with Viola. He had horrible extracurricular activities (if you know what I mean). Even though they were setting up the story, they weren’t that fun to read when I wanted him with Viola. He was way hotter with Viola.

Viola and Travis’ chemistry was so far off the charts. Heck, I could only imagine how uncomfortable she was after all their nights together. He put her body through the ringer. It was fun to read, but Viola was probably singing Ariana Grande’s Side to Side when she was walking to class.

Even though this book wasn’t exactly perfect in every way, I still enjoyed reading it. I flew through it. The cliffhanger ending left me wanting more and ensured that I immediately downloaded book two to read.


Checkmate: This is Love
Series: Travis & Viola, #2
Author: Kennedy Fox
Publication Date: December 13, 2016
Publisher: Kennedy Fox Books LLC
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, New Adult

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Synopis:

Viola Fisher is the epitome of perfection.
She despises my one-night stands and mocks my less-than-classy habits.
She’s smart, beautiful, and too good to be true.
And I want her.

If she were anyone else, I’d have made my move years ago, but considering she’s my best friend’s little sister, she’s always been off-limits. Not to mention how much she loathes my very existence.

Hating me is her religion, but needing her is mine. Her sexy curves and filthy smart mouth make me want her even more, and I’m more determined than ever to change her mind.

I’ll prove I’m done playing games.
But until then, we’ll continue to play by her rules.
Viola Fisher may have won the battle, but the war isn’t over yet.

Checkmate, princess.


Checkmate: This is Love was full of so much drama! I couldn’t even believe where the cliffhanger led! There were so many crazy surprises waiting in this book. I didn’t expect half the things that took place.

I was way more invested in Travis and Viola’s relationship in this book than I was while reading the first book. That’s because once Travis became a one woman man, he was dedicated to Viola. I was amazed at how loving he was towards her. Their relationship developed into this really cute and sexy thing. I didn’t expect it to be so sweet. They still had their friction filled banter, but there was a noticeable tenderness between them.

Travis wasn’t the only one who surprised me. Viola completely shocked me a couple of times. I wasn’t expecting some of the choices she made. They frustrated me a bit, and I didn’t think they were fair. I guess they did make the story more interesting, though.

The secondary characters really shined in Checkmate: This is Love. Kayla and Courtney were such good friends to Viola. Courtney was hilarious, too. I loved her unnoticed obsession with Drew. He was so cute and clueless.  If I didn’t already know these characters were getting books of their own, I would be begging for them.

Overall, Checkmate: This is Love was a good conclusion to Travis and Viola’s story. Their relationship grew and changed throughout this book, and I loved where they ended up.

Review: In Pieces by Danielle Pearl

In Pieces
Series: Something More, #2
Author: Danielle Pearl
Publication Date: October 10, 2017
Publisher: Forever
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, New Adult
Note: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Synopsis:

Three years ago she was left in pieces . . . Most college freshmen love the newfound freedom of living on campus, but none of them craves it like Beth Caplan. One ill-fated night when she was fifteen left her locked in a posh prison of private tutors. It’s for the best, everyone said, and maybe it was. But after years of hard work and healing, the one person who never thought of her as broken could be the one to break her all over again. And Beth can’t seem to stay away now any more than she could all those years ago. As soon as David March learned his best friend’s little sister was enrolling at his school, he promised to look after her, and promised himself he’d keep a safe distance. But the sweet little girl he’d grown up with has transformed into a gorgeous young woman, and she’s attracting attention from people she shouldn’t-like the ex who nearly destroyed her and a strange new student with a disturbing habit of showing up wherever Beth goes. But for David, the most troubling discovery is realizing that he doesn’t just want Beth to be safe. He wants her to be his.


In Pieces is the first book I’ve read by Danielle Pearl. I really enjoyed her writing style. She told the story in first person dual points of view. That’s my favorite type of narration because it allows me to connect deeply with the characters. She also threw in some chapters set in the past that helped show how the characters had matured over the years.

My favorite thing about In Pieces was Beth and David’s relationship. David was Beth’s older brother’s best friend. He was supposed to be her protector at college due to her weaknesses, but Beth was constantly pushing his boundaries. She didn’t want to be seen as a little girl any longer. They both were harboring secret feelings for each other. I loved the way their relationship progressed from friendship to lovers.

The only problem I had with this book was that there was almost too much going on in it. Both characters had secrets in their pasts. That probably would have been enough to keep the story going on its own, but there was also a ton of other drama. There was the new stranger, David’s frat friends, and a surprise twist toward the end. It was entertaining for sure, but just too much at times. I just wanted to focus on the love birds.

Overall, In Pieces was a fun, quick read. It had everything I would expect from a new adult romance and more. I liked Danielle Pearl’s writing style so much that I would definitely pick up another of her novels. I would like to read the first book in this series.

Review: For Forester by J. Nathan

For Forester
Series: For You, #2
Author: J. Nathan
Publication Date: July 19, 2017
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, New Adult, Sports
Note: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Trace
I’m Alabama’s star wide receiver. I’ve got mad skills on and off the field, and it’s no secret I’m heading into the draft after the upcoming season. But I’m home for the summer to make some cash before my senior year. Being back under my parents’ roof isn’t the ideal situation, but the moment I see Marin, the star of my adolescent fantasies, I know it’s about to get interesting. She may not have noticed me back then, but I’ve got a feeling it’s just a matter of time before she lets me turn those fantasies into reality.

Marin
The last time I saw Trace Forester he was just a kid tearing up the neighborhood on his skateboard. That was when I was foolish enough to think I had the perfect husband and the perfect life. But now my life is in shambles and Trace is back, all grown up, hot as hell, and exuding major confidence. It would be so easy to fall for his good looks and undeniable charm. So easy to let him into my life. Too bad I learned the hard way that nothing worth having ever comes easy.


For Forester is the first book I’ve read by J. Nathan. I was impressed with her writing. I easily connected with her characters and believed in their relationship. That was amazing because I never expected to find a nineteen year old guy falling in love with an almost thirty year old single mother believable. I expected the attraction, but didn’t expect the love.

Trace was a special young man. I loved the way he loved Marin and her son. He was at the height of his college football career with everything going for him. Trace had a multitude of women at his beck and call, but he only wanted Marin. His loyalty to Marin and her son was exceptional considering the distance between their locations.

What Marin went through was tough. Not only did she have to deal with the fallout from the demise of her marriage, but the attention of dating a much younger man. She was constantly being judged while trying to do what was best for her son and herself. I loved how strong of a person she was. Her relationship with Trace only made her stronger and gave her a new outlook. That was so cool.

Trace and Marin’s relationships was filled with so many ups and downs. Everything they went through together and apart made me love them together more. I was totally invested in their relationship. I loved the little family they made.

Reading For Forester has made me a fan of J. Nathan. It’s also made me want to go back and read the first book in the For You series. I would love to know more about those characters! Finlay and Caden seemed like such special characters.

If you’re looking for a new adult romance that’s outside the normal college sports romance, I highly recommend For Forester. I loved the older woman, younger man dynamic.

Review: After We Collided by Anna Todd

After We Collided
Series: After, #2
Author: Anna Todd
Narrator:  Elizabeth Louise, Shane East
Publication Date: November 25, 2014
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Tessa has everything to lose. Hardin has nothing to lose;except her. Life will never be the same…

After a tumultuous beginning to their relationship, Tessa and Hardin were on the path to making things work. Tessa knew Hardin could be cruel, but when a bombshell revelation is dropped about the origins of their relationship – and Hardin’s mysterious past – Tessa is beside herself.

Hardin will always be Hardin. But is he really the deep, thoughtful guy Tessa fell madly in love with despite his angry exterior; or has he been a stranger all along? She wishes she could walk away. It’s just not that easy. Not with the memory of passionate nights spent in his arms. His electric touch. His hungry kisses…

Still, Tessa’s not sure she can endure one more broken promise. She put so much on hold for Hardin – school, friends, her mom, a relationship with a guy who really loved her, and now possibly even a promising new career. She needs to move forward with her life.

Hardin knows he made a mistake, possibly the biggest one of his life. He’s not going down without a fight. But can he change? Will he change… for love?


I am honestly shocked I continued reading this series after how I felt about the first book in the series, After. I only continued because the cliffhanger ending caught my interest. I had to know what was next.

The beginning of After We Collided surprised me. I actually enjoyed it. I think maybe it was due to the fact that both Hardin and Tessa were miserable being apart from each other. I liked how they went about their separate ways. And then they reconnected…

Ugh. How many different times and ways can Tessa and Hardin break up only to make up over and over again? This is still a horribly abusive, messed up relationship. I should want them to be together since that’s where this series is heading, but I don’t. I want Tessa to move on. F’ing Trevor is looking like a decent choice, but Zed has to go.

Tessa may be a smart girl, but she makes the dumbest decisions. Her relationship with Hardin causes more pain than a relationship should, and she keeps coming back for more. Then, there’s her almost relationship/friendship with Zed. Why would she confide in Zed about Hardin when Zed’s interested in her? He’s not going to give her good advice. She needs a real friend to knock some sense into her.

Hardin is deeply troubled. He needs psychological help. I want him to get some therapy. After that, maybe he can meet someone other than Tessa and start a healthy relationship. I did appreciate getting his point of view in this book, though. It almost — and I mean almost — made me like him. He spent too much time being a jerk and making horrible decisions for me to like him.

Like I said before, Zed needs to go. The Hardin-Tessa-Zed love triangle made me sick. I really hated it. It adds even more unnecessary drama. Plus, Zed’s just as bad as Hardin. He was in on the bet thing. He creates drama on purpose. How does Tessa not get it?

I don’t know if I can continue this series any further. Tessa and Hardin’s relationship is so volatile and unhealthy. Listening to the story can be addicting, but it’s also stressful. But who am I kidding? I’ll keep reading because I just have to know what more Anna Todd could come up with next for these characters who don’t seem to learn from their actions.

Review: Hello Forever by Sarina Bowen

Hello Forever
Series: Pay it Forward, #2
Author: Sarina Bowen
Publication Date: July 14, 2017
Publisher: Rennie Road Books
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance,  LGBT+
Note: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Synopsis:

A SINGLE BASKETBALL GAME CHANGES EVERYTHING…

When they were only teenagers, Axel and Caxton were caught making out in the woods at church camp. And afterward, Cax had disappeared from all the youth group activities.

Six years later, Axel is astonished to spot his first love’s face in the crowd of a college basketball game he’s watching on TV—at a school which has just offered him a job. It’s a thousand miles away, in a tiny rural town. But suddenly, he can’t wait to get there.

Cax can’t believe his eyes when Axel appears in the same Massachusetts town where he now lives. And he’s still just as drawn to Axel as ever. But he can’t let himself go there again, because loving Axel will mean giving up everything else he holds dear.

Both men have so much to lose. But as far as their love is concerned, it’s Hello Forever.

Hello Forever is a stand-alone novel with no cliffhangers. Readers of Goodbye Paradise will get to check in on Caleb and Josh and their clan.


Hello Forever is a second chance love story. It’s the story of two men who fell in love as teenagers, but were forced apart by the expectations of others. Neither Axel or Cax thought they would ever see each other again. Then, Axel spots Cax on a televised college basketball game. Seeing his first love again inspires Axel to accept a position at the very same school. Axel hopes he’ll run into Cax again, and that they will be able to rekindle what they almost had.

Their reunion isn’t exactly what Axel had hoped. The same demons that drove Axel and Cax apart are still at play in Cax’s life. As much as Cax wants what Axel is offering, he may not be able to accept it. Some things in Cax’s life are more important than his love for Axel.

After reading Goodbye Paradise, I had very high expectations for Hello Forever. I loved that first Pay it Forward book so much, and I wanted to have a similar experience with this book. Hello Forever was a great book, but not quite as amazing as Goodbye Paradise. I can’t put my finger on exactly why that was. The only thing I can think of was that it took me a little longer than usual to connect with the characters. A lot of the beginning was Axel setting up his history with Cax. It wasn’t until Cax and Axel were back in the same room that I felt engaged with the story.

I don’t want you to think I didn’t love Cax and Axel’s story. I did.Their second chance at love was sweet, sexy, and had just the right amount of drama. Cax having to decide if his personal happiness was more important than his devotion to his family was a really great story line. It was a tough choice for him, but I loved the way it all played out. It was fun to read. I especially loved the ending!

It was exciting to be back in Josh and Caleb’s world. I loved seeing them again and how they worked into Cax and Axel’s story. I also liked the other new characters I met. I’m hoping some of them (Jason) will get their own stories in the future.

Overall, Hello Forever was a great M/M romance. It’s one I would recommend if you’re a fan of M/M romances, Sarina Bowen or new adult romances in general.

Review: Shut Out by Kelly Jamieson

Shut Out
Series: Bayard Hockey, #1
Author: Kelly Jamieson
Publication Date: June 7, 2016
Publisher: Loveswept
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Sports Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

The Bayard College hockey team isn’t where Jacob Flass thought he’d be a season ago. He was a rising star in the Canadian major junior league, cruising toward a spot on an NHL roster—until a single disastrous night on the town brought it all crashing down. Now he’s out of options, except for playing well, studying hard, and staying away from girls. He’s not supposed to be flirting with the hottest, sweetest chick he’s ever met. But how could he possibly stay away?
 
Skylar Lynwood knows that Jacob is out of her league. She’s just trying to go with the flow, which isn’t easy when six feet and four inches of total hockey hunkiness is making a play for her one moment, then giving her the cold shoulder the next. Skylar’s head tells her that this rugged athlete isn’t worth her time, but her body says something altogether different. Risking her heart for Jacob may be the craziest thing she’s ever done . . . but she won’t let him shut her out.


I’ve read quite a few Kelly Jamieson novels over the past year, and the Bayard Hockey series has been my favorite of hers. I love how she uses first person narrative in this series. It makes it so much easier to connect to her characters. I read the second book prior to its release and really enjoyed it, so the minute I saw the first book was on sale I had to buy it.

I knew what Shut Out was going to be about prior to reading it because the second book builds upon it a little bit. It didn’t dampen my reading experience at all. I loved Shut Out. The characters were awesome, and easy to relate to. I loved that the author used them to explore the issue of sexual consent. Both Skylar and Jacob had a history dealing with lack of consent, and I loved how their experiences were different, but both relevant.

My favorite thing about Shut Out was Skylar and Jacob’s relationship. It started out as a fake relationship, but quickly moved into the real category. That wasn’t hard to believe because they had great chemistry. What made their chemistry so good was the friendship they built. They cared deeply about each other, and they were both constantly finding ways to build the other person up. It was little things like helping each other study, pushing them in the right direction on a decision, or just complimenting each other that made this romance shine. Their relationship always felt like a positive one, even when things weren’t going so well.

Shut Out was a quick, fun read. It’s a book I would recommend to readers who love new adult hockey romances. It has a swoon worthy romance and exciting hockey moments. Oh, and hot hockey guys to drool over. I can’t forget those!