Review: Until You by Denise Grover Swank

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

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Never settle down. Ever.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Review: The Butterfly Project by Emma Scott

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

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

“Where you are is home…”

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Review: 180 Seconds by Jessica Park

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

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Review: Hot Shot by Kelly Jamieson

Hot Shot
Series: Last Shot, #2

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

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Synopsis:

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Review: Aftercare Instructions by Bonnie Pipkin

Aftercare Instructions
Author: Bonnie Pipkin
Publication Date: June 27, 2017
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Genre: Young Adult, Fiction, Contemporary
Note: I received an ARC from the publisher via Goodreads in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Synopsis:

In the tradition of Jandy Nelson and Rainbow Rowell, a big-hearted journey of furious friendship, crazy love, and unexpected hope after a teen’s decision to end an unwanted pregnancy

“Troubled.” That’s seventeen-year-old Genesis according to her small New Jersey town. She finds refuge and stability in her relationship with her boyfriend, Peter—until he abandons her at a Planned Parenthood clinic during their appointment to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. The betrayal causes Gen to question everything.

As Gen pushes herself forward to find her new identity without Peter, she must also confront her most painful memories. Through the lens of an ongoing four act play within the novel, the fantasy of their undying love unravels line by line, scene by scene. Digging deeper into her past while exploring the underground theater world of New York City, she rediscovers a long-forgotten dream. But it’s when Gen lets go of her history, the one she thinks she knows, that she’s finally able to embrace the complicated, chaotic true story of her life, and take center stage.

This powerfully immersive and format-crushing début follows Gen from dorm rooms to diners to house parties to auditions—and ultimately, right into readers’ hearts.


Reading Aftercare Instructions was a bit of a weird experience for me. I entered a Goodreads giveaway for it without having read the blurb. I know that’s a little weird, but I do it sometimes. When I won and received the book, I still didn’t read the blurb. So when I started reading it, I had no idea what I was in store for. Aftercare Instructions was a really sad story. It wasn’t a bawling my eyes out sad, but more of a depressing sad.

Aftercare Instructions, as the blurb statesis about an almost eighteen-year-old girl who finds herself in the tough position of having an abortion. Gen knows having one is the right decision for herself and her boyfriend, Peter. But when Gen walks out into the waiting room after the procedure and finds Peter gone, she’s not so sure about anything anymore.

I’m going to jump right into my impression of Peter. I don’t care what his reasons for leaving Gen at the clinic by herself were, they weren’t good enough. No one should have to go through what Gen did, and then be left to suffer alone. I hated Peter and wished someone would have kicked the crap out of that kid. For someone who was supposed to be so good, he was pretty horrible. I understand his reasoning and beliefs, but Gen deserved better.

As for Gen, I understood her emotions and rationale. I didn’t always agree with the decisions she was making, but I didn’t fault her for them. She made a very tough, adult decision and the ramifications of it hurt. Gen had every right to be as broken as she was. She had every right to do anything she could to feel better.

One truly great thing about Aftercare Instructions was the bond between friends. Gen had a few people on her side that were willing to do everything they could to make sure Gen was in a safe emotional and physical state. They showed up when she wasn’t expecting and took charge. I applaud the author for showing how friends can support each other when a character can’t reach for a parent.

Another really great thing about this book was the way the title, chapter headings, chapters and story all meshed together. Obviously, the title Aftercare Instructions refers to the guidelines Gen needed to follow after her abortion. Each chapter is headed with one of those instructions. That instruction fit what Gen was going through physically and emotionally at the time. By the end of the book, we can see the way all of these instructions and Gen’s actions led to her moment(s) of healing. This was genius. I also really enjoyed the way the author used a play script as the method of delivering Gen and Peter’s past. That was so unique and cool.

Aftercare Instructions is an important book. Never before have I read a young adult novel that so honestly deals with the topic of abortion. Not only does it cover the emotional aspects of having one, but it details the physical. I’m not just talking what happens the moment of the procedure, but also in the week to come. It’s not romanticized. It’s not over and done. This is a good thing. It gives teenagers (and adults) down and dirty look at life after. I think that’s important. It gives girls/women who have gone through it a book they can identify with. Maybe it will give someone who might be making a similar decision peace or make them re-examine the decision they’re making. I don’t know. Like I said, I think it’s an important book.

I do have to admit I had some problems rating Aftercare Instructions — no matter how important I thought it was. I almost didn’t give it a rating at all. How do you rate a book that’s written so well, but wasn’t a fun experience? Honestly, this book depressed the hell out of me and made me so angry at Peter. Those aren’t fun emotions. I ended up giving it 4 stars because I think it deserves to be read.

Review: The Playboy Bachelor by Rachel Van Dyken

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

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Synopsis:

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Review: Shacking Up by Helena Hunting

Shacking Up
Author: Helena Hunting
Publication Date: May 30, 2017
Publisher: Swerve
Genre: Contemporary Romance, New Adult
Note: I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Ruby Scott is months behind on rent and can’t seem to land a steady job. She has one chance to turn things around with a big audition. But instead of getting her big break, she gets sick as a dog and completely bombs it in the most humiliating fashion. All thanks to a mysterious, gorgeous guy who kissed—and then coughed on—her at a party the night before.

Luckily, her best friend might have found the perfect opportunity; a job staying at the lavish penthouse apartment of hotel magnate Bancroft Mills while he’s out of town, taking care of his exotic pets. But when the newly-evicted Ruby arrives to meet her new employer, it turns out Bane is the same guy who got her sick.

Seeing his role in Ruby’s dilemma, Bane offers her a permanent job as his live-in pet sitter until she can get back on her feet. Filled with hilariously awkward encounters and enough sexual tension to heat a New York City block, Shacking Up, from NYT and USA Today bestselling author Helena Hunting, is sure to keep you laughing and swooning all night long.


I’ve been wanting to read one of Helena Hunting’s books for a while now. I was excited to find Shacking Up on NetGalley. It sounded like a lot of fun, and it totally was. I loved the witty, sexy banter and all of the hilarious moments between the characters.

Ruby and Bancroft’s relationship started off in a really fun way. It was a slow burn relationship that started with a mistaken kiss and morphed into to pet-sitting. Pet-sitting turned to phone flirtation, and then to full on love. The transitions felt quick, but were spaced out over weeks and then months. The time gaps made what could have felt like insta-love feel real in progression.The first person dual point of views added so much to the reading experience.

When I first opened the book and started reading, I had an “oh no” minute. I wasn’t sure I was going to like Ruby. She had a little bit of a snarky entitlement thing going on. The further I got into that first chapter, the more I realized she wasn’t a rich princess. Ruby was a young woman struggling to prove her father wrong and make it on her own. I loved her tenacity and willingness to make the best out of her situation. I also loved her snarky, but caring personality. She was an incredibly fun character.

So was Bancroft. He had it going for him in every way possible. He had a hot body, a new lucrative career, and a great personality. Bancroft might not have been in the financial mess Ruby was, but he was still trying to find his place in life.

Both Ruby and Bancroft were trying to navigate the changes in their lives, while trying to figure out what their attraction to each other meant. I loved the evolution of their relationship and their characters. The heat between them was palpable. The build up to their crossing the sexual line made the moment it happened so much more intense and sensual. It was off the charts hot.

My only teeny tiny question about this book was Amalie. I felt like her story was left as a lose end. Like there should have been more to it. Ruby commented so much on her best friend’s relationship, that I wanted to know more. I’m guessing that’s another book, though!

Shacking Up is the perfect book for readers who like their dialog, characters and romance super sexy. I loved every minute of this book and can’t wait to read the rest of Hunting’s books.