Series Review: Pucked (Book #’s 4-6) by Helena Hunting

Earlier this month, I posted mini reviews for the first three books in the Pucked series. Today, I’m back with mini reviews for the next three books. You can find my reviews for books 1 – 3 HERE.

Forever Pucked
Series: Pucked, #4
Author: Helena Hunting
Publication Date: March 29, 2016
Publisher: Helena Hunting
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance, Sports

Rating: ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Being engaged to Alex Waters, team captain and the highest paid NHL player in the league, is awesome. How could it not be?

In addition to being an amazing hockey player, he’s an incurable romantic with an XL heart, and an XXL hockey stick in his pants. And he knows how to use it. Incredibly, orgasmically well. Alex is the whole package and more. Literally. Like his package is insane. Total world record holder material.

So it makes complete sense that Violet Hall can’t wait to nail him down to the matrimonial mattress and become Mrs. Violet Waters.

It’s so romantic.

Violet is totally stoked to set a date.

Eventually. At some point. Likely before the next millennium. Or when Violet stops getting hives every time someone brings up the wedding, and their mothers stop colluding on stadium sized venues. Whichever comes first.

Review:

Back to beavers, MCs and Area 51. Once again, those terms overshadowed Violet and Alex’s story. This book was a fun addition to their story from book one. I loved the situations they were put in. I liked how they each grew individually and together. I just wish there weren’t so may beaver and MC references.


Pucked Under
Series: Pucked, #5
Author: Helena Hunting
Publication Date: July 7, 2016
Publisher: Ink & Cupcakes, Inc.
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance, Sports

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Randy Ballistic and Lily LeBlanc are head-over-heels, bed-breakingly, screaming orgasmically in love. But even they have their challenges, mostly outside of the bedroom.

With the off-season coming to a close and the boys gearing up for training camp, one more weekend of fun is the perfect way to welcome the new season.

The entire crew piles into vehicles and drives to Alex and Violet’s Chicago cottage for a few days of relaxation—and hopefully a chance for Randy to shake the anxiety that’s been plaguing him.

Accidental wardrobe malfunctions, typical Violet inspired overshares, and a whole lot of private time round out the perfect weekend getaway.

But the moment they return to the city all of Randy’s angst resurfaces with the arrival of a surprise houseguest.

Review:

I adored this novella. Lucy and Randy are my favorite couple in this series so far. They’re story is so cute and sexy. I liked how Randy’s family added the drama to this book and how it all turned out. My only complaint about this one was I wanted it to be longer!


Pucked Off
Series: Pucked, #5
Author: Helena Hunting
Publication Date: February 21, 2017
Publisher: Ink & Cupcakes, Inc.
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance, Sports

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

I’m NHL defenseman Lance Romero, AKA Lance “Romance.”

I’m notorious for parties and excess. I have the most penalty minutes in the league. I get into the most fights. I take the most hits. I’m a player on and off the ice. I’m the one women with no inhibitions want.

Not because I like the notoriety, but because I don’t know how to be any other way.

I have secrets. Ones I shared with the wrong person, and she used them against me. Sometimes she still does. I should cut ties. But she makes it difficult, because she’s the kind of bad I deserve.

At least that’s what I believed until someone from my past gets caught up in my present. She’s all the good things in this world. She lights up my dark.

I shouldn’t want her.

But I do.

I should leave her alone.

But I won’t.

Review:

This was my favorite book in the Pucked series. I could really see Helena Hunting’s growth as an author in this one. I adored Lance and I’m so happy he found that special woman for him. He deserved her and to be happy. Their story was so sweet. My only issue with this book was that I felt the evil person in it needed to be dealt with in a harsher, legal way. Other than that, this book was perfection!

Review: Always Been You by Sadie Allen

Always Been You  
by Sadie Allen
Cedar Lake Series, Book 1
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Design: Oh So Novel
Release Date: July 19, 2018
Synopsis
Emma Taylor ran away from home in a cloud of dust, taking the pieces of her broken heart with her. Fifteen years later, she is back to care for her grieving father and to face the boy who once broke her heart. 
Brazos Huntswell was dealt a bad hand. Life hasn’t turned out the way he envisioned it in high school. He’s a single father to a moody teenage girl and trying to make a go of the cattle ranch his father left him.
Trouble is brewing in the town of Cedar Lake, and people are turning up dead. Will Braz and Emma be able to weather the coming storm and take a chance on forever? Or will a ghost from the past destroy that chance… permanently?
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Review:

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

My thoughts are a little jumbled for Always Been You. I really enjoyed Sadie Allen’s writing, but there was something that didn’t work for me. I’m not sure how to explain it, but I’ll do my best.

I would categorize Always Been You as a romantic suspense novel. There was a second chance love story between the main characters, Emma and Braz. There was also a murder mystery happening in their small town of Cedar Creek. I liked both aspects, but they also distracted from each other.

Emma and Braz were great characters. I liked them individually. They each had a lot going on in their own lives. Emma was a teacher and was encouraging her father to live again after losing her mother. Braz was a rancher and single father. I loved their relationships with their families. It was the best part of the book. I especially loved Braz’s relationship with sky.

As for Emma and Braz together… I didn’t connect with their relationship. I have a hard time believing second chance love stories where the characters pined for each other for years and years without seeing each other. It doesn’t feel natural to me. I understand having that regret or person in the back of the mind at times, but I don’t get not moving on. Emma more so in this aspect than Braz. What made it even harder for me was their reconnection felt like instant love. I didn’t feel like I ever really got to see them get to know each other as adults with the amount of time they spent together. I wasn’t sold on their love. I think I could have been if their relationship was the main focus of the book.

As for the murder mystery, I liked that. I am not always a big fan of romantic suspense, but the suspense part worked for me. I could kind of see what was coming, but it was still exciting. My only complaint with this part was that there wasn’t a complete conclusion — probably because there is already a book two in the works.

I hate that this review sounds negative. I actually did enjoy reading Always Been You. I wanted to know what was going on with the murders and how things would work out for Emma and Braz. I still do. I will definitely read the second book to find out what else is to come in Cedar Creek.

 
About the Author
 
 
Sadie Allen lives in Texas with her husband and three young children. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, catching up on her favorite shows, or chasing her family around the house.
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Review: In Harmony by Emma Scott

In Harmony
Author: Emma Scott
Publication Date: February 13, 2018
Genre: New Adult, Young Adult, Contemporary Romance
Note: I received this book from NetGalley. This review is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

In Harmony…gives a voice to the voiceless…”

The root of all madness is an unbearable truth…

At seventeen, Willow Holloway’s life was torn apart. The happy, driven girl is gone, and she is left wracked by post-traumatic stress her body remembers even if she does not. When her father suddenly uproots the family from their posh penthouse in New York City to the tiny town of Harmony, Indiana, Willow becomes more untethered and lost under the weight of her secret. On a whim, she auditions for a part in the community theater’s production of Hamlet and unexpectedly wins the role of Ophelia—the girl who is undone by madness, and her love of Hamlet…

Isaac Pearce is from the ‘wrong side of the tracks.’ The town bad boy. Girls pine for his attention and guys are in awe of him. That he’s an acting prodigy only adds to his charisma. Isaac utterly disappears into his characters; the stage is the only place he feels safe from his own traumatic home life. He wants nothing more than to escape to Broadway or Hollywood and leave Harmony behind for good.

No one can play Hamlet but Isaac, and when the director pairs him with Willow in acting class, they clash again and again—neither willing to open their hearts to anyone. But clashing leads to breaking, breaking leads to the spilling of terrible secrets, and soon Isaac and Willow find Shakespeare’s words mirroring their lives. When they are cruelly torn apart, neither know how this play will end—with madness and heartache? Or healing, love, and the discovery of who they are truly meant to be.

In Harmony is a standalone YOUNG ADULT/NEW ADULT love story, and is intended for readers 18 and up. PLEASE NOTE, this book contains sensitive material such as physical abuse, and the aftermath of sexual assault (off the page). Reader discretion is advised.


It’s been a while since I’ve read a book by Emma Scott. I have to admit that I had to wait until I was ready to pick up a book that I knew would be emotionally taxing. Emma Scott’s books always hit me hard. She makes me feel so much, and I knew that In Harmony was going to be one of those books that would bring tears to my eyes. It totally did.

In Harmony is a story about two broken young adults. Willow is not herself. She hasn’t been since her world was changed over a year ago. Willow hopes that moving to Harmony, Indiana will make things easier. Maybe she can get back to the girl she was before. Isaac is the town’s bad boy. He doesn’t mind the title. It keeps people from bothering him while he’s working on getting out-of-town. His one chance to leave his horrible existence behind is his acting. When Willow and Isaac are cast in a play together, they find a comfort in each other and a chance to heal.

This book was so beautiful. I can’t really even come up with the words to explain it. Willow and Isaac had been through some horrid things. I hated that they had been through so much. It made my heart hurt. I loved the comfort and trust they found in each other, and how meeting each other changed their lives for the better. It was just such an incredibly important story.

I know this review is short, but I’m so overwhelmed with the feelings this book gave me. In Harmony was truly a special book. I highly recommend reading it.

Reviews: Kings of Rittenhouse & Shameless King by Maya Hughes

Kings of Rittenhouse – A Shameless King Prequel
Series: Kings of Rittenhouse, #0.5
Author: Maya Hughes
Publication Date: June 11, 2018
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance, Sports

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Declan and Mak have been at each other’s throats since sophomore year and now it’s time for the party to end all parties for the seniors of Rittenhouse Prep.
What’s the worst that could happen?

Long live the Kings…

Review:

A new college hockey romance? Yes, please. As far as prequels go, this one was epic. It snagged my attention and never let go. It made me pre-order the first full length book in the series, Shameless King. I loved the drama and the introduction to all of the characters. I know I’m in for a fun ride with Mak and Declan. Funny thing, though, I’m almost more interested in finding out what Emmett and Avery’s story is! I have a feeling I’m going to be waiting a few books for that epic saga.


Shameless King
Series: Kings of Rittenhouse, #1
Author: Maya Hughes
Publication Date: June 11, 2018
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance, Sports

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Declan McAvoy. Voted Biggest Flirt. Highest goal scorer in Kings of Rittenhouse Prep history.
Everyone’s impressed, well except one person…

After a blow out in high school, Makenna Halstead and I were happy to never have to cross paths again. Except life has a way of knocking you straight in the teeth with a puck when you least expect it. She hasn’t just returned to my life, she crashed into it like a wrecking ball…into my college kingdom, into my class, and smack dab into the seat next to mine. My new lab partner to be exact.

For years we hated each other… I may be King on the ice, but she is the Ice Queen. She has no problem calling me out, doesn’t back down, and her piercing blue eyes have me picturing more than than just my arms wrapped around her.

Now we’re stuck with each other and there’s no getting around that fact that we have to work together. My hockey career hangs in the balance. Problem? Oh, yeah.

I can’t deny it. I want her. More than I ever thought I could want a woman. I’ve got one semester–only four months–to convince her everything she thought about me was wrong.

Will my queen let me prove to her I’m the King she can’t live without?

Only one way to find out…

Review:

With the strong start set up in the prequel, it was easy to jump right into Mak and Declan’s book. It was an incredibly fun and addicting enemies to lovers romance. Their bickering and obvious attraction to each other was so entertaining. Once they took the step toward being something more than frenemies, the story took on a sweet and sexy tone. I liked that. I also liked both of their back stories and the emotion they brought to the story line.

I loved everything about this book except for one thing. Mak and Declan were college seniors. I feel like I missed out on three years of fun with them. I was hoping all the books would be set in the college atmosphere, but I know they won’t be. That makes me sad.

Overall, Shameless King (with its prequel) was a great beginning to what’s shaping up to be a fun new adult series. I’m looking forward to reading more about these kings.

Blog Tour Review: Broken Love Story by Natasha Madison

Samantha:

I had the perfect life; a husband who loved me, and two kids who were my world.

Until someone else answered his phone and my perfect life shattered.

When he died, I was left with answers he couldn’t give me and a box full of lies.

He left me broken.

 

Blake:

I fell in love when I was fifteen, knowing she was the one.

For five years, she was my everything—my every breath, every heartbeat, every thought.

She made me promise to move on, promise to find love again, but I broke those promises because I can’t move on.

 

Two broken souls brought together by tragedy and heartbreak.

Can a broken love story be fixed?

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Review:

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

I am a fan of Natasha Madison’s writing, but the Love Story series hasn’t been my favorite of hers. I’m not sure exactly why. It’s filled with great characters, interesting plots, and big emotions. There’s just something I haven’t connected with — until now. Broken Love Story was my favorite of the three books.

What was it about Broken Love Story that made it so good? For starters, there was the fact that the first two books set this one up beautifully. Some of the same events occurred as in the first book, but from a completely different perspective. I didn’t feel like I was re-reading the same book. Samantha and Blake’s story felt fresh and new.

Then, there was the way I connected with the characters in Broken Love Story. I felt a deeper connection to Samantha than I did to Hailey. Her anger made more sense to me than the way Hailey reacted, I guess. I also loved how Samantha’s relationship with Blake came about. It felt natural. Blake was a good guy from the start who wanted to help. There wasn’t any real tension or jerky moments. That was refreshing. I liked how supportive he was. Blake had his own troubles in the past, but they didn’t encroach on the present really, and that made his quick fall for Samantha easier to believe. He was ready for a relationship.

All of the supporting characters were very well written. I adored Samantha’s daughters and Blake’s parents. I hated Eric’s family. The way they all interacted was perfect.

The only thing that kept me from giving this book 5 stars was a shocker near the end. I wasn’t expecting it, and it went a little overboard in my opinion. It was entertaining, though!

Overall, Broken Love Story was a great read. It was an emotional story of healing and fining love again.

Excerpt:

Samantha

Standing in front of the full-length mirror in my room, I smooth down my black skirt. My blond hair is tied up in a ponytail, my cheeks are sunken in more than normal, and the blackness around my eyes indicates I haven’t slept well since this whole thing happened. Since I found out that not only did my husband die, but that he also married someone else.

I sit on the made bed and look down at my wedding band. My thumb of my right hand touches it, and the lone tear that falls out of my eye lands straight on it. “Mommy.” I look back at Lizzie, who is standing in the doorway wearing a black one-piece dress similar to mine with ballerina flats.

My mother-in-law went shopping yesterday and bought us all new outfits for today. “We need to put our best foot forward,” she said as I watched her walk in with the six bags. “We can’t let people talk.”

I turned around and walked out of the room, going upstairs. Shutting myself in my bathroom with my back against the door, I cried quietly, trying to hide my sobs. “We can’t let people talk,” I whispered to myself. The hatred I had begun feeling when I remembered my husband.

Lizzie walks to the side of my bed and sits next to me. “I hate this dress,” she says when I put my hand around her shoulder and bring her to me, kissing her head.

“I know, baby,” I whisper, “but after today, it’s going to be all over.”

“That’s what Grandpa A said.” She mentions the name she calls my father-in-law. Grandpa A because you can’t get better than an A.

“Is everyone ready?” I hear Ethan yell from downstairs. “The limo is picking us up in twenty.”

“Let’s go, baby,” I tell her, getting up and holding her hand while we walk downstairs. My in-laws are both sitting in the kitchen. My mother-in-law in a black skirt and top while my father-in-law has on a black suit. “Where is Daisy?” I ask them.

“Elliot is upstairs changing her. She spilled milk on her dress,” Judy tells me, looking at Lizzie. “You look like such a big girl.” She blinks her tears away.

Elliot comes down the stairs with Daisy on his hip, smiling at me when he walks in. “Okay, you girls go sit in the living room while us grown-ups talk,” my father-in-law says, and the girls both know to leave the room. When he knows they are both out of earshot, he starts. “Today is going to be tough, tough for us all, but we have to stand together. We have to be the family that we are.” I lean against the counter while he talks. “The situation with the other one has been taken care of, and she has been served papers.” I look at him and then at Elliot and Ethan, both of them looking down when our eyes meet. It’s almost as if they feel guilty for meeting this woman. My father-in-law continues, “After all this is done today, we are meeting with the lawyers in person, so we can go over the will, start the paperwork for the insurance, and make sure she doesn’t touch a thing that belongs to him.” I stop listening at this point, turning to look out the window at the backyard.

The swing set that he built in one day to make sure the kids could use it when he left the next day. The patio set he had delivered to us, so I could have somewhere to sit while I watched the girls while he was living with another woman. I shake my head, walking out of the room. I sit on the couch, and the girls come to sit next to me, one on each side. “Today is going to be really hard,” I whisper to them, “but we have to be strong for Daddy.” They both look at me, their eyes exactly like their father’s. “But, if at any time, you need to leave or you need me… I don’t care who is talking to me or who is around; you come and get me.”

“Grandpa A said we had to sit and wait,” Daisy whispers just as Elliot comes into the room and kneels in front of us.

“What is this meeting about?” he asks, smiling at us. The circles around his eyes are just as black as ours. He hasn’t left our house since this happened.

“Mommy said if we need her that we can go to her,” Daisy says, looking at him and then me, “even if Grandpa A said no.”

He leans in, whispering, “You can come to me too, and I’ll make sure that you get Mommy.”

“Okay,” Lizzie and Daisy both whisper at the same time, and then the doorbell rings.

We get up, put our jackets on, and one by one file into the black limo that has come to take us to the funeral home. We arrive before everyone else. “We get an hour with him, and then they will open the door,” Adrian says as Judy grabs her tissue and dabs her eyes.

I look around the funeral home. I’m not sure what I’m looking for, not sure where he is. I haven’t seen him since he kissed me goodbye four days earlier. His last words to me were, “Call you when I can.” That phone call never came.

I follow my in-laws to the big brown door that is closed. “I want to go in before the girls.” Everyone turns to look at me.

“We can keep them in the lobby,” says the lady who greeted us at the door. She told me her name, but I just didn’t listen.

I nod at her as she turns to ask the girls if they want hot chocolate. Daisy’s eyes get big as Lizzie turns to look at me. I nod my head, giving her permission, so she can go with the woman.

The doors open, and I don’t even know what to expect. I’ve never been to a funeral. Never known anyone well enough to pay my last respects. Judy and Adrian walk in first, followed by Ethan, and Elliot waits with me. I step foot into the room, and it’s so cold that I shiver. The smell of flowers hits me right away, making me turn my head. The number of flowers and wreaths shocks me; the whole room is almost full. Some wreaths blocking others. Rows and rows of brown chairs line the room, all facing toward the front of the room. My eyes land on the brown wooden casket at the front of the room. The open half showing you the white satin inside. I walk down the aisle toward him, and then my eyes land on him. Eric. I can’t take another step forward because my knees give out, and I fall. Elliot isn’t fast enough to hold me up, and my knee lands with a thud. But the pain doesn’t matter because nothing could take the place of the pain in my heart. The sound of wailing fills the room as I look up at my dead husband.

I feel arms around me; I feel myself lifted; I feel myself almost floating. He isn’t the Eric who kissed me goodbye; he isn’t the Eric who I made promises to; he isn’t the Eric who made all my dreams come true. This isn’t him.

The man with makeup caked on his face isn’t my Eric. My sobs overtake my body as I look at him, expecting him to open his eyes. Expecting something, anything but this. “I want the casket closed,” I say, my voice soft. “I want it closed.”

“Samantha,” my father-in-law starts, “it’s—”

I shake my head. “I don’t want the kids to see him like that,” I say softly. I know that for me they wouldn’t even consider it, but for the girls, they would move heaven and earth. “They need to remember him alive and smiling, not like that,” I say, pointing at the casket.

“Dad,” Ethan says after me, “I agree.”

“Me too,” Elliot says from beside me. “Close it.”

He just nods at us, then walks to the man standing in the corner. The man looks at him as they have a hushed conversation and then just nods his head. “Do you need some water?” Ethan says to me, and I nod. I don’t bother listening to what else he says; instead, I get up and go to the casket. Standing before the brown box, I look at him, really look at him. You see some bruising under the makeup, and his nose is a little swollen. His hands are folded over his stomach, resting on his black suit. The suit he wore when we got married. Why? I ask him in my own head. Why did you do it? I ask him, hoping I can hear him whisper something to me, whisper anything back. To answer my questions, to give me something; anything to make me understand why he did what he did. Why he left me with so many fucking questions and not one answer.

The man comes over to close the casket. Eric’s face disappears slowly, the shadow filling his face till the casket finally shuts. “I’m sorry for your loss,” the man says, nodding at me. “If at any time you want it open, we can open it back up.” I turn around now, looking at the chairs that will fill up as soon as the people start coming in. Ethan consoles my mother-in-law, and Elliot stands where we were just sitting, his hands in his pockets.

“I’m getting the girls,” I tell them and then walk out with my head held high but my shoulders slumped. Defeated is a word that you use so many times not really understanding what can actually defeat you. I know now, my husband dying, him cheating on me, my kids without a father, my dreams of growing old with him gone. Beaten straight down to my core, straight down to my bones.

I walk over to them as they look up. “Let’s go, girls,” I tell them as they both get up and walk to me. Lizzie takes one hand, Daisy takes the other, and we walk back into the room that holds a piece of our hearts. The room where their father lies, with no answers and no tomorrow.

We stand in that room for four hours while people come up to me and give me their condolences. I nod my head and play the part of the grieving wife. I am the grieving wife, but I’m also the wife whose husband didn’t love her enough to just be with her. The wife who knew her husband was slipping away but couldn’t catch it in time. The wife he said he would love and protect. The wife who stands here between his girls wishing that for one second he suffered horribly. The wife who has to pick up the fucking pieces and lie to her girls about what a great guy he was. The wife who, at the end of the day, just wasn’t good enough.

We listen as people tell us how amazing he was, how much he loved his family, and how much he loved his girls. The whole time, I’m yelling on the inside, ready to stand in the middle of the room, throw my head back, and yell at the top of my lungs. But I don’t do what I want. I don’t tell them what a fraud my husband was. I don’t tell them that it was almost all lies. I don’t tell them that the day he died, they called his other wife and not me. I don’t tell them that I wasn’t the one with him when he died.

I stand here thinking about this other person—his other wife—and wonder how she would handle this. How she would be with my in-laws. Would she just let them control her and do everything for her? Would she want it to be open and weep for him beside the casket instead of standing next to it?

I look around the room at all the people who came to pay their respects, and my eyes find someone I’ve never met before. Someone I’ve never seen before, and our eyes connect. His green eyes stare into mine as I watch him nod to me and turn to walk out. As he walks out of the crowded room, I strain my neck to watch his back. I don’t have long to think because Elliot comes up and whispers, “It’s time.”

When her nose isn’t buried in a book, or her fingers flying across a keyboard writing, she’s in the kitchen creating gourmet meals. You can find her, in four inch heels no less, in the car chauffeuring kids, or possibly with her husband scheduling his business trips. It’s a good thing her characters do what she says, because even her Labrador doesn’t listen to her…
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Blog Tour Review: The Real Deal by Lauren Blakely

Sometimes you need to find a boyfriend-for-hire in the most unusual of places…

What do you get when you mix a bad boy with a heart of gold and a smart & sassy heroine with a desperate need for a fake relationship? THE REAL DEAL, a brand new, standalone romantic comedy from #1 New York Times bestseller Lauren Blakely! Get a copy of your next favorite feel good rom-com now!

✮✮✮THE REAL DEAL is here! Grab your copy today! ✮✮✮

April Hamilton wants you to know she hasn’t been on GigsForHire since that time she sold her futon after college. She doesn’t even spend that much time online. And even if she did, she would not be looking up personal ads. But going home alone for her family’s summer reunion is an invitation for every single relative to butt into her personal life. She simply can’t handle another blind date with the butcher, the baker or the candlestick maker from her hometown. So when she finds the GigsforHire ad for a boyfriend-for-hire, she’s ready to pay to play.

Heading Home and Need a Buffer? I’m the REAL DEAL.

Theo Banks has been running from the past for years. He’s this close to finally settling all his debts, and one more job as a boyfriend-for-hire will do the trick. He’s no gigolo. Please. He’s something of an actor, and he knows how to slip into any role, including pretending to be April’s new beau — the bad boy with the heart of gold.

Even if it means sleeping in close quarters in that tiny little bed in her parents’ inn. Even if it means spinning tales of a romance that starts to feel all too true. What neither one of them counts on is that amid the egg toss, the arm wrestling, and a fierce game of Lawn Twister that has them tangled up together, they might be feeling the real deal.

She only wanted to show her family once and for all that she had no need to settle down.

He didn’t expect to have the time of his life at her parent’s home.

They didn’t plan on loving every single second of the game.

But can a masterful game of pretend result in true love?

ORDER YOUR COPIES HERE!

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Review:

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

The Real Deal was adorable. I don’t think I’ve read a Lauren Blakely book quite like it before. It had her sassy humor, witty dialog, and amazing characters, but it felt much sweeter. I liked how surprisingly low drama it was.

The fake relationship in The Real Deal stood out from others I’ve read. Theo was hired through a Craigslist ad. He wasn’t someone April already knew. Normally, fake relationships tend to fall in the friends to lovers category and I liked that this one was different. I didn’t feel like I was re-reading a book I’ve already read. (I hate to say it, but that happens sometimes!)

Theo and April were fun characters. Theo was a reformed bad boy with a shady past who was trying to stay afloat. April was a sweet, almost innocent, woman trying to avoid her family’s meddling. Their agreement to pose as boyfriend and girlfriend helped them each reach a certain goal. They wanted to keep their relationship professional, but their attraction to each other took over.

I absolutely adored the getting to know each other part of this book. Theo and April’s real and fake stories of how they met and fell in love were perfect! They made me laugh and smile so much! I couldn’t get enough of how they fed off each other and bonded. It made their falling for each other seem destined and utterly perfect.

Another thing I loved about this book were all the side characters. There were so many of them with the whole family reunion thing going on. It gave the book such a fun, loving feel to have all of these family members play a part in Theo and April’s love story. Plus, they added a ton of entertainment.

Obviously, I couldn’t get enough of this book. It was just so dang sweet and fun to read. It’s the perfect summer romance to escape in. I hope Lauren Blakely will write more books set in the town of Wistful. I would not mind returning to it.


✦The audiobook is narrated by Zachary Webber and Erin Mallon! ✦
✦ Audio ➜ http://blkly.pub/RealDeal-Aud


ADD IT TO YOUR GOODREADS TODAY!

“This book was yet another true LB masterpiece, romcom meet fake relationship meet romantic af = perfection!

~Elsa Gomes, Bookish Aurora~

“I loved every word on every page of this story. I can’t stop thinking about it and smiling like a dork. If you were to say #JustBecause or #DoYouRemember? I might just melt into a puddle on the floor, because I do remember…sigh. I want more Lauren Blakely, I’m addicted. The line forms here…”

~Rosa Sharon, iScream Books Blog~

“The Real Deal was a sweet, sexy, hilarious, and entertaining standalone romantic comedy, and I absolutely loved it!”

~Julia, The Romance Bibliophile~

Excerpt:

~THEO~

I can be anyone you want.

I can transform into the boss you’re banging, your hot nerdy coworker who’s only a friend, your best friend’s brother you’ve had it bad for since he danced with you at prom way back when, the guy next door everyone adores since he mows your lawn, fixes your car, and repairs the sink. I can also pull off a fireman, a soldier, a cop, a billionaire, a rogue, an athlete, a pirate—yes, some women like to play with buried treasure—and the bad boy who will drive your family bananas.

How would you reach me if you needed me?

It’s not that hard. You just have to know what you’re looking for and plug the right terms into that trusty old search engine. You might even find me the next time you’re hawking a Cuisinart or hunting for a used exercise bike on GigsforHire. There, you’ll discover a menagerie of roles I can take on, characters I can play for you. The assignments rotate depending on the season, the needs, and what’s in demand for weddings, reunions, Christmas parties, barbecues, and any other occasion where you might need a date.

I’m not an escort, a gigolo, or a stripper. This isn’t about fluid exchange. My job is to become your arm candy, and you can pick the flavor you want. I’ve played them all.

And there’s one role that outsells all the others. By far, the most popular part has been the bad boy.

Trust me when I say I wasn’t your average bod boy. I was the goddamn dictionary definition, and this ad was my golden ticket:

Heading Home and Need a Buffer? I’m Your Man

I’m a good-looking 28-year-old ex-con. But I swear the time I got nabbed, it wasn’t my fault. I was framed. I can play anywhere from 19 to 31, depending on if I shave or act like I love Ed Sheeran music. My most valuable possession is a scratched-up motorcycle one year younger than me that’s painted like a snarling leopard. I’m a bartender and work till 2 a.m. at a dive bar. If you’d like to have me as your date for a wedding, reunion, or work soiree, I can pretend you picked me up when my shift ended and I banged you in the bathroom or that we’re in a serious and committed relationship. Your choice.

✮✮✮Reader’s Choice Giveaway!✮✮✮

Everything you need for Date Night except the date:). Find the perfect date in the Real Deal! $100 gift card to the restaurant of your choice, $50 gift card to the movie theater of your choice, and $50 gift card to the retailer of your choice. ($200 value)

https://laurenblakely.com/readers-choice-giveaway/

About Lauren Blakely:

A #1 New York Times Bestselling author, and #1 Wall Street Journal Bestselling author, Lauren Blakely is known for her contemporary romance style that’s hot, sweet and sexy. She lives in California with her family and has plotted entire novels while walking her dogs. With fourteen New York Times bestsellers, her titles have appeared on the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestseller Lists more than 100 times, and she’s sold more than 2.5 million books. In August she’ll release UNBREAK MY HEART, an emotional second chance romance. To receive an email when Lauren releases a new book, sign up for her newsletter! laurenblakely.com/newsletter

Website ** Facebook ** Twitter ** Newsletter ** Goodreads

Review: The Accidentals by Sarina Bowen

The Accidentals
Author: Sarina Bowen
Publication Date: July 10, 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Never ask a question unless you’re sure you want the truth.

I’ve been listening to my father sing for my whole life. I carry him in my pocket on my mp3 player. It’s just that we’ve never met face to face.

My mother would never tell me how I came to be, or why my rock star father and I have never met. I thought it was her only secret. I was wrong.

When she dies, he finally appears. Suddenly I have a first class ticket into my father’s exclusive world. A world I don’t want any part of – not at this cost.
Only three things keep me going: my a cappella singing group, a swoony blue-eyed boy named Jake, and the burning questions in my soul. There’s a secret shame that comes from being an unwanted child. It drags me down, and puts distance between me and the boy I love.

My father is the only one alive who knows my history. I need the truth, even if it scares me.


Welcome to YA, Sarina Bowen!

Sarina Bowen is one of my most favorite NA/Adult contemporary romance writers. When I learned she was going to be writing her first YA novel, I was really excited. Based on what she’s done in NA/Adult, I could only imagine what type of YA novel she would write. I knew it was going to be amazing, and I was right!

The Accidentals is the story of a teenager who finally gets to meet the father she’s only known through the press after her mother dies. It’s a bittersweet pill for Rachel to swallow. She can’t help but feel guilty over the joy of meeting the man her mother wanted to keep her away from. As Rachel gets to know her father, she meets Jake. Jake is perfect for Rachel, if she doesn’t let her past ruin her present.

I was immediately impressed with The Accidentals. It had me hooked from page one. The story was so emotional. Being in Rachel’s shoes would have been so hard. I can’t imagine having my biggest dream fulfilled while losing the most important person in my life. It would have been devastating, and it was to her. Her sense of guilt and loss radiated off the pages.

The rest of the characters were just as well written as Rachel. Frederick was the perfectly flawed musician. Rachel’s relationship with him developed in a guarded way that I really enjoyed. I also liked how her friendships went through ups and downs. The one with Haze was especially interesting to me.

What was surprising to me was the romance in The Accidentals. It took a backseat to everything else going on in the book. I was expecting the story to revolve more around it, but was glad that it didn’t. I liked Rachel’s romance with Jake, but the relationship with her mother and father were more important. I loved that was the focus.

As far as I’m concerned, Sarina Bowen’s first step into the world of YA was perfection. I absolutely adored The Accidentals. I hope this was just the first of many YA books to come from Bowen.

Review: I Think I Love You by Lauren Layne

They were “just friends.” Until one tried to teach the other the art of seduction … And became thoroughly seduced.
I THINK I LOVE YOU
Oxford – Book 5
Lauren Layne
Releasing July 10, 2018
Loveswept
A game of seduction between two best friends goes deliciously wrong in an irresistible Oxford Novel that brims with wit and sexual tension. Library Journal hails Layne’s work as “exemplary contemporary romance.”
 
Brit Robbins knows that dating in New York City is hard—she just hoped to have it mastered by age thirty. But after yet another promising suitor says they have no sparks, Brit decides it’s time to torch her dating game and try a new plan. And who better to coach Brit through the art of seduction than the guy who first gave her the “let’s be friends” card?
 
Hunter Cross has always figured there’s nothing his best friend Brit can do to surprise him. But Brit’s request is a surprise he doesn’t see coming—and one he’s definitely not prepared for. Hunter and Brit have always been careful to keep things perfectly platonic, but the fake dates and faux flirting are starting to feel like the real deal. And soon Hunter realizes he has taught Brit too well. Not only has she become an expert at seduction, the man becoming thoroughly seduced is him.
 
NOW AVAILABLE!
Review:

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

I Think I Love You proves yet again why Lauren Layne is one of my go-to contemporary romance authors. I can always depend on her to give me a romance that will make me smile and swoon. She did just that with I Think I Love You.

In I Think I Love You, it’s finally Hunter and Britt’s turn to fall in love. They’ve been best friends and co-workers for years. They spend the majority of their time together, and have honestly never been attracted to each other. Hunter and Britt have one of those special platonic friendships no believes are real, but theirs is… Or at least it is until Britt asks Hunter to teach her the art of seduction.

This book was a typical LL read. She took me on a fun and fast-paced journey from friendship to love. I enjoyed every minute of it. There wasn’t a ton of drama, and I loved watching Hunter and Britt realize they really were more than just friends. I also enjoyed seeing the other members of the Oxford Stiletto gang again. I Think I Love You was a great ending to an incredibly fun series.

Lauren Layne is the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of more than two dozen romantic comedies. Her books have sold over a million copies, in nine languages. Lauren’s work has been featured in Publishers WeeklyGlamourThe Wall Street Journal, and Inside Edition. She is based in New York City.
Giveaway:
*Lauren is hosting a Tour Wide Giveaway for TWO gifted Amazon e-copies of
I KNEW YOU WERE TROUBLE.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Audiobook Review: The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

The Kiss Quotient
Series: This Kiss Quotient, #1
Author: Helen Hoang
Narrator: Carly Robins
Publication Date: June 5, 2018
Publisher: Dreamscape Media, LLC
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

A heartwarming and refreshing debut novel that proves one thing: there’s not enough data in the world to predict what will make your heart tick.

Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases–a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.

It doesn’t help that Stella has Asperger’s and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice–with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can’t afford to turn down Stella’s offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan–from foreplay to more-than-missionary position…

Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but to crave all the other things he’s making her feel. Soon, their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic…


How can this be Helen Hoang’s début novel? It was a MASTERPIECE!

The Kiss Quotient follows two unique characters as they fall in love. Stella, an econometrician with Aspberger’s, is unlucky in love. She decides to hire an escort, Michael, to teach her how to seduce a man. Stella’s hoping Michael will be able to teach her what she needs to know about sex and relationships, but what Stella doesn’t count on is falling for Michael in the process.

The Kiss Quotient was perfection. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book quite like it. It was the most adorably sweet and subtly sexy romance I’ve ever read. That’s crazy, right? The hero is a male escort. You would think this book would be filthy. It wasn’t, though. It was so tender and moved at a pace that went perfectly with Stella’s character. Michael got Stella in ways no one else did. Stella saw things in Michael he couldn’t see for himself. Their entire relationship was so sweet and made me swoon the entire time I was listening to it. I couldn’t get enough of this book.

There’s so much more to say about this book, but I just can’t put it into words. The Kiss Quotient is my new favorite book of 2018. It was so well written and heart warming. I absolutely loved it! I want everyone to read it. If you want an extra special experience, I recommend listening to it. The narrator did an amazing job bring the characters to life.

Review: Pucked, Pucked Up, & Pucked Over by Helena Hunting

Pucked
Series: Pucked, #1
Author: Helena Hunting
Publication Date: May 3, 2015
Publisher: Helena Hunting
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance, Sports

Rating: ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

With a famous NHL player for a step-brother, Violet Hall is well acquainted with the playboy reputation many hockey stars come with. She’s smart enough to steer clear of those hot, well-built boys with unparalleled stamina. That is until she meets the legendary team captain—Alex Waters.

Violet isn’t interested in his pretty, beat-up face, or his rock-hard six-pack abs. But when Alex inadvertently obliterates Violet’s previous misapprehension regarding the inferior intellect of hockey players, he becomes more than just a hot body with a face to match.

In what can only be considered a complete lapse in judgment, Violet finds out just how good Alex is with the hockey stick in his pants. But what starts out as a one-night stand, quickly turns into something more. Post-night of orgasmic magic, Alex starts to call, and text, and e-mail and send extravagant—and quirky—gifts, making him difficult to ignore, and even more difficult not to like.

The problem is, the media portrays Alex as a total player, and Violet doesn’t want to be part of the game.

Review:

I’m not quite sure what to say about Pucked. It wasn’t quite the writing I’m used to from Helena Hunting. I’m guessing that’s because this book was published years before the ones I’ve read. It wasn’t that the writing was bad. I actually really loved the Violet and Alex’s story line. It was mostly Violet. I’m all for quirky characters. They’re usually really fun, but Violet was quirky in more of an irritating way. It was mostly the choice of words used for her. There were WAY too many beaver and MC references. They were funny the first couple of times, but then just got annoying. Overall, I enjoyed this one, but not as much as I could have. I’m still planning on continuing the series.


Pucked Up
Series: Pucked, #2
Author: Helena Hunting
Publication Date: October 25, 2015
Publisher: Helena Hunting
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance, Sports

Rating: ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Miller “Buck” Butterson has been banging his way through life ever since a puck to the face fixed his messed up front teeth, and he was drafted into the NHL during his first year of college. After five years of deflecting goals on the ice and scoring them with puck bunnies across the Continental US and parts of Canada, Miller is ready for a girlfriend. A real girlfriend of the non-bunny variety. One he takes on dates and doesn’t jump into bed with after five seconds of conversation.

Miller thinks he’s found that woman in his teammate’s sister. Except, unlike Alex Waters, center, team captain and all round nice guy—who happens to be dating his step-sister—Miller’s manwhore reputation is well-earned, and not blown out of proportion by the media. Beyond that minor detail, Miller doesn’t know the first thing about having a girlfriend. But he’s determined to make it happen.

What he doesn’t take into account is the amount of time and effort relationships require, or that constantly letting bunnies take selfies with him to post all over social media isn’t going to win him any points in the boyfriend department. Miller learns—not so quickly—that if he wants to make Sunshine “Sunny” Waters fall for him, he going to have to do a whole lot more than show her his stick skills in the bedroom.

Review:

The words used in Pucked Up were way less annoying than Pucked, but the characters drove me nuts in this one. Miller and Sunny’s story just didn’t work for me. Miller made some dumb decisions and mistakes. I know he had some learning disabilities, but that wasn’t an excuse for putting himself in the positions he did. Sunny, for being as “sweet and innocent” as she was, played way too many games for my liking. I understood her jealousy and her resistance to trusting him, but that whole aspect of the story was dragged out too much for me. In the end, I didn’t truly believe she loved Miller. Pucked Up was just an okay read for me. I’m still continuing the series, and I’m looking forward to Lucy and Randy’s book!


Pucked Over
Series: Pucked, #3
Author: Helena Hunting
Publication Date: January 22, 2016
Publisher: Helena Hunting
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance, Sports

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Lily LeBlanc isn’t versed in the art of casual sex, but after seven years in an on-again, off-again relationship, she’s definitely willing to give it a shot. And who better to try it with than her best friend’s boyfriend’s best friend? What could possibly go wrong? Nothing at all.

NHL player, Randy Ballistic, lives up to his last name on the ice and in the bedroom. His best friend and teammate has recently given up the puck bunnies and traded them in for a real girlfriend. And she just happens to have a seriously feisty, extra-hot best friend on the rebound. Randy’s more than happy to be Lily’s spring board back into the dating scene.

Casual sex is only casual until those pesky things called emotions get involved. Once that happens, someone’s bound to gets pucked over.

Review:

This series is getting better as it goes along. Pucked Over was less kooky than the first two books. The characters and their dilemmas  were more realistic. I wasn’t much of a fan of Lily or Randy in the first couple of books, but I loved them in this one. They were a really cute couple. I also found Violet, Alex, Miller, and Sunshine’s craziness easier to tolerate as side characters. Oh, and I can’t leave out Daisy. It was so much fun to see Alex and Daisy’s mom through someone else’s eye who had known them forever. I loved reading Pucked Over. It’s made me excited to continue this series!