Review: Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren

Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating
Author: Christina Lauren
Publication Date: September 4, 2018
Publisher: Gallery Books
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Fiction
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Most men can’t handle Hazel. With the energy of a toddler and the mouth of a sailor, they’re often too timid to recognize her heart of gold. New York Times and #1 international bestselling author Christina Lauren (Roomies, Beautiful Bastard) tells the story of two people who are definitely not dating, no matter how often they end up in bed together.

Hazel Camille Bradford knows she’s a lot to take—and frankly, most men aren’t up to the challenge. If her army of pets and thrill for the absurd don’t send them running, her lack of filter means she’ll say exactly the wrong thing in a delicate moment. Their loss. She’s a good soul in search of honest fun.

Josh Im has known Hazel since college, where her zany playfulness proved completely incompatible with his mellow restraint. From the first night they met—when she gracelessly threw up on his shoes—to when she sent him an unintelligible email while in a post-surgical haze, Josh has always thought of Hazel more as a spectacle than a peer. But now, ten years later, after a cheating girlfriend has turned his life upside down, going out with Hazel is a breath of fresh air.

Not that Josh and Hazel date. At least, not each other. Because setting each other up on progressively terrible double blind dates means there’s nothing between them…right?


Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating is the story of an unlikely friendship that turns into more. Josh and Hazel met in college. They weren’t friends, but they had some priceless interactions with each other. Fast forward ten years, to Josh and Hazel running into each other at a party. Hazel knows Josh is too hot for her (plus he has a girlfriend), so Hazel decides she and Josh will be best friends.  Despite Josh’s hesitancy to be Hazel’s friend, their platonic friendship blossoms. When Josh and his girlfriend break up, Hazel and Josh start a string of horrendous double blind dates. Soon, Josh and Hazel begin to realize maybe they’re setting each other up with the wrong people.

Oh my goodness. This book! It was so entertaining. I could not put it down. I absolutely adored everything about it. This is one of the best friends to lovers books I’ve ever read. The way Josh and Hazel became friends was perfection. The way their friendship turns into more was perfection. The whole stinking thing was just so cute and entertaining.

I adored Hazel. She was super kooky, but she had the best heart. Hazel wasn’t afraid to be herself, and I loved that. I could understand how people were easily drawn into her orbit. I loved that she knew that the friends that stuck around through her weirdness were the special people in her life. She was such a special character. She’s now one of my all time favorites.

Josh was just as amazing as Hazel, but in a completely different way. He was the calm to her storm. Josh was more on the uptight end of things, and I loved how Hazel brought him out of his shell. My favorite thing about Josh was his ability to see the beauty in Hazel’s quirky personality. Josh and Hazel were so magical together. He loved her for who she was and didn’t want to change her. Hazel was the same way about Josh. That’s what love is, people.

My only disappointment with Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating was the predictability of it. I could see where this book was headed before the 50% mark. It actually wasn’t that big of a disappointment for me. I still enjoyed every minute I spent with it. In fact, I utterly adored every minute. I am in love with this book!

It doesn’t shock me that I loved a book Christina Lauren wrote. They’re quickly becoming on of my favorite writing duos. What surprises me is how each book is so different and unique. While the highly emotional Love and Other Words is one of my favorite books of 2018, the hilarious Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating could easily be was well. To me, that’s the sign of incredible writing.

Review: Trick Play by Max Monroe

Trick Play
Series: Mavericks, #3
Authors: Max Monroe
Publication Date: August 14, 2018
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Fiction
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Booze, women, and brotherhood—that’s what my good friend Quinn’s bachelor party should have been.

Booze, one mysterious raven-haired woman, and an arrest—that’s what it was.

As Cam Mitchell, a New York Maverick and one of the best tight ends in the professional football league, my to-do list should be pretty simple.

Play ball.
Get laid.
Have fun.

But after one hour with a stripper named Trixie, that list of mine has shifted dramatically.

Tell Quinn to call my lawyer.
And, for the love of God, don’t get fired from the Mavericks.

I swear, I tried to make it stop there.
But one tiny thing keeps finding its way to the very top…

Find out more about the dark-haired beauty with the big blue eyes and make her mine.

Too bad it’s a hell of a lot more complicated than that.

How do you fall in love with a woman whose real name you don’t know?

Well, ladies and gentlemen…I’m about to find out.

Disclaimer:

*Television and film producers have been contacting us anxiously in anticipation of buying the rights for Trick Play: The Screenplay. We’re not sure how they got the script, or even the original book manuscript, but we expect a vicious bidding war to ensue shortly.

**There are currently no talks for the distribution of Trick Play for the big screen. But after seeing how good we are on camera, we’re certain they’ll be contacting us shortly. We’re also sure they’ll try to cast us as actors.

***There’s no way they’ll cast us as actors.

****We’re far too important* to the production process.

*****Important*= Detrimental

******We can’t believe you read this many disclaimers. Thank you for your loyalty.


When I learned Cam Mitchell was going to be the next Mavericks player to get a book, I was super excited. He was one of those extremely memorable characters from the first two books. Cam had this bubbly personality that was infectious. I couldn’t wait to see how it shined in his own story.

Shine it did! Cam was the funny, sweet guy I expected him to be. He was willing to do anything for his friends and teammates — including taking some lap dances for the team. 😉 Cam also had a deeper side of him, one that was looking to settle down with the right girl. Just Cam’s luck, the right girl was a stripper named Trixie.

Trixie (not her real name) was a great love interest for Cam. Despite baring almost everything for her job, Trixie wasn’t one for baring her soul. She kept her secrets and feelings buried deep. Trixie was a more serious person than Cam. I liked how their personalities were so different, yet balanced each other out. I loved Trixie and Cam together.

Cam and Trixie were surrounded by some amazing characters. There were my favorite players from the Mavericks making several appearances. I would have actually like to see more of them and their football hijinks. Cam’s family also showed up for some great moments. My favorite new additions character wise were actually Trixie’s family. They were amazing. I would be very happy if they showed up in more books. They added more to the story than I was expecting.

As for the plot of Trick Play, it wasn’t quite what I was expecting. Trick Play wasn’t quite as humorous as the first two books in the Mavericks series. Don’t get me wrong, it had its funny parts. It just also had some romantic suspense parts going for it, too. If you’ve read Max Monroe’s books, I would say Trick Play‘s vibe was 70% Mavericks and 30% Stone Cold Fox. I like both types of books, but to be honest I wish it had been heavier on the humor. That’s just because Max Monroe does humor like no one else. That said, I loved reading Trick Play. It was a great addition to the Mavericks series.

Pretty Woman meets Friday Night Lights in this unforgettable romance about a sexy pro-football star and a beautiful stripper. Max Monroe brings the heat, swoon, sass, and hilarity in this football-themed romantic comedy!

Trick Play Guarantees:

  • Laughs
  • Snorts
  • Giggles
  • Swoons
  • And ALL THE FEELS!

TOUR WIDE GIVEAWAY (goes live 8/14 at 8am EST):https://goo.gl/739dwL

TRICK PLAY SPOTIFY PLAYLIST:https://goo.gl/Nf4T8A

Review: Richer Than Sin by Meghan March

From New York Times bestselling author Meghan March comes a brand new saga of forbidden love and second chances.

Richer Than Sin
Series: Sin, #1
Author: Meghan March
Publication Date: August 14, 2018
Publisher: Red Dress Press
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

From New York Times bestselling author Meghan March comes a brand new saga of forbidden love and second chances.

A Riscoff and a Gable can never live happily ever after. Our family feud is the stuff of legends.
Ten years ago, Whitney Gable caught me off guard with her long legs and grab-you-by-the-balls blue eyes.
I didn’t know or care what her name was.
Like any Riscoff worth the family name, I went after what I wanted. We burned like a flash fire until she married another man.
She hates me, and she should.
I objected on her wedding day.
Now she’s home, with those same long legs and man-eater stare, but there’s no ring on her finger.
They say a Riscoff and a Gable can never live happily ever after . . . but I’m not done with Whitney Gable.
I’ll never be done with her.


Meghan March is back and she’s created a whole new world to fall in love with. Richer Than Sin is a second chance romance between two people who are supposed to be life long enemies. Lincoln Riscoff and Whitney Gable weren’t supposed to fall in love, but they did. Their romance went up in flames and ended with Whitney saying “I do” to someone else. It’s been years now, but Whitney’s returned home single. Lincoln isn’t about to let the best thing that ever happened to him run away again. Whitney better be prepared because Lincoln will stop at nothing to get her back.

Oh, boy. Richer Than Sin was such an addictive read! From the moment I started reading it, I couldn’t put it down. I was completely immersed in Whitney and Lincoln’s world. I loved all of the characters and the drama involved in this story! There were so many things going on and so much to uncover. I loved the way the past and present alternated. It made all the little revelations have even more impact on the story. When I got to the end… Meghan March is the queen of the cliffhanger. That’s basically all I can say without spoiling anything.

Richer Than Sin was an incredibly entertaining read filled with generational drama, villains, heroes, surprises, and passion. If you like stories with amazing cliffhangers to keep you jonesing for the next book, you really need to read Richer Than Sin or any of Meghan March’s other books. She’s super talented in delivering a unique, jaw dropping story.

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Guilty until proven innocent.
That’s the way the world works, right?
I’m tired of being convicted without evidence, all because my last name is Gable.
The Riscoffs might own this town, but I’m done following their rules.
If only I could forget just how easily Lincoln Riscoff can drag me under his spell.
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Whitney Gable is the kind of woman you fight to the death to protect.
To keep.
To cherish.
I’ve finally learned my lesson, and it’s time to prove I’m the man who’s worthy of her.
I don’t care what it takes, because failure is not an option.
No matter who or what stands in our way—this time, she’ll be mine forever

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About the Author:

A New York Times, #1 Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author of over twenty novels, Meghan March has been known to wear camo face paint and tromp around in woods wearing mud-covered boots, all while sporting a perfect manicure. She’s also impulsive, easily entertained, and absolutely unapologetic about the fact that she loves to read and write smut. Her past lives include slinging auto parts, selling lingerie, making custom jewelry, and practicing corporate law. Writing books about dirty talking alpha males and the strong, sassy women who bring them to their knees is by far the most fabulous job she’s ever had.

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Review: Boy Toy by Sarina Bowen & Tanya Eby

Boy Toy
Series: Man Hands, #3
Authors: Sarina Bowen, Tanya Eby
Publication Date: August 14, 2018
Publisher: Blunderwoman Productions
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Fiction
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

A brand new romantic comedy from your favorite snort-laughing duo!

Liam

The moment Sadie Matthews walks through the daycare center door, I feel my world tilt in her direction. Again. I fell for her when I was fourteen, and I’m still not over her. Problem: she still thinks of me as a teen she used to babysit. But I’ve learned a few things about pleasing a woman in the last fifteen years. I can’t wait to show her how good it could be. I need to move quickly before I lose her again. This is more than a game to me, but I still plan to win.

Sadie

I’ve just survived the worst year of my life. As a single mom of twin toddlers, I don’t have time for a man. I barely have time to finish a thought. Who knew that Liam McAllister would grow up to be so devastating? He’s everything my husband was not: tall, built, and willing to have a tea party with my girls.

I can’t possibly get involved with him. He’s too young for me. Too handsome. But he’s so persuasive…


When I was at Book Bonanza, I had the pleasure of listening to a panel of authors speak on writing with a partner. One of those authors was Sarina Bowen. She talked a little bit about what it is like writing with Tanya Eby. Learning about their creative process made reading Boy Toy even more fun — if that’s even possible.

In Boy Toy we finally get Sadie’s story. If you’ve read the rest of the books in the series, you know Sadie is a newly divorced single mom to twin daughters. She’s trying to get back into the dating world when she runs into a guy she used to baby-sit when he was a teenager. Liam isn’t a teenager anymore. He’s a twenty-nine year-old man who is finally getting the chance to make a move on his teenage crush. First, he just has to convince Sadie that their age difference isn’t a big deal.

Boy Toy was an incredibly entertaining read. It had the perfect mix of humor and emotion. I was smiling and laughing from the minute I started reading it right up until the end. I loved the plot. Sadie’s reluctance to begin any type of relationship with Liam and his push to make it happen was perfect. There were some very tender (and a whole lot of funny) moments between them.

Being close to Sadie’s age and a mother, it was easy to relate to some of her feelings. It’s hard to feel comfortable with your body after having a baby. I loved how Sadie learned how to be comfortable in her own skin again. I also loved the realizations she came to about her jerky ex, Decker. Sadie grew so much throughout the book.

Sadie might have been the heroine of this story, but her girls stole the show. Amy and Kate were absolutely darling. Their little personalities brought about great additions to the story. I love that they were what brought Sadie and Liam back into the same world.

Liam is bound to be so many women’s new book boyfriend after they read this book. His way with Sadie’s daughters was heart melting. He was so tender and sweet with them. Liam was the same way with Sadie, too. He was an all around great guy, and Sadie deserved him.

Obviously, I adored Boy Toy. It was just such a sweet and humorous story. My only complaint about it would be that it wasn’t long enough. I needed more time with Sadie, Liam, and the girls. I really hope that Sarina Bowen and Tanya Eby aren’t done with the Man Hands series. I would take a book about any of the side characters we met. Braht’s brother or Sadie’s sister would do. At the least I just want them to continue writing together so that I can experience their brand of humor and romance again.

Check out the following EXCERPT from Boy Toy:

I messed up. Big time.

These are my thoughts as I rush into the bathroom for the world’s fastest shower. The hot spray of water judges me as I hastily wash Liam off my thighs.

A better mother wouldn’t let this happen. I shouldn’t have a younger lover. If I didn’t, he wouldn’t be so deliciously appealing. I couldn’t lose my mind, wake him up out of a sound sleep to ride him like a pony. And then collapse beside him in peaceful, sated slumber.

Seriously, how did I let that happen?

You know how, my hormones scold me. Because he’s the hottest thing you’ve ever tasted.

Oh yeah. That.

After showering I get dressed at top speed. Poor Liam is currently shouldering all my parental responsibilities. Throwing on yesterday’s sundress, I pause for a moment to pop a birth control pill, because that’s one thing I won’t goof up.

Then I hurry downstairs.

The sight in the kitchen gives me heart palpitations. But not because there’s flour dusting much of the countertop. Rather, it’s the hot, shirtless guy holding my toddler and making a dump truck sound as Amy tips the measuring spoon over a bowl.

“Yes! Well done, little miss,” he says, relieving her of the spoon. “Batter up!” he says, easing her to the floor and catching Kate, who’s trying to climb him like a tree.

Aren’t we all.

Liam easily rests Kate on one of his perfect arms, measures a half teaspoon of baking powder one-handed and then hands the spoon to Kate. “Beep beep beep,” he says, making the sound of a truck backing up. “Look out below!”

Kate dumps the spoonful into the bowl and giggles.

“Awesome. Who wants to add the milk?”

“My do it!” Amy yells.

Boy, I need another minute of alone time to compose myself. Because I love this picture a little too much. I love Liam’s ease with my girls. I love how calm he is at the center of toddler-induced mayhem.

It causes a little pain in my heart as I allow myself one more comparison to my former life. The truth is I never once saw Decker elbows-deep in kitchen chaos with a kid on one arm. Starting breakfast with twins in tow? He was more likely to captain a NASA expedition to Mars than he was to do this simple Saturday morning thing.

I feel like crying for no reason at all. Clearly I’m on some kind of emotional overload. Maybe coffee will help.

Sliding into the kitchen, I go right for the coffee grounds.

“Mama!” Amy says. “Wiam making pancakes.”

“That is amazing,” I say in a wobbly voice. “What a lucky girl you are.”

“Sorry about the mess,” he says, casting a glance in my direction. And I know he doesn’t just mean the flour on the counter, but the bigger mess of waking up naked in my bed.

“You know,” I say with a small sigh. “Messes shouldn’t scare me so much. It’s going to be fine.”

Liam’s smile is so filled with relief, that I now feel like an ogre. This man wants to make pancakes with us on Saturday morning, and I said no to that before? I’m clearly insane.

“Which frying pan should I use?” he asks, casting an eye on the cookware hanging from the rack over the sink.

“Oh, no. You want this.” I pull a double-burner griddle out of a lower cabinet.

“Oooh,” he says. “Mommy has the fancy pancake griddle.”

Kate giggles. She’s gazing at Liam as if he invented fun.

And in my life, I guess he did.

Here’s the tricky thing about being a shrink—sometimes you notice that you’re doing something that’s exactly contrary to the advice you’d give your patients.

I’m having one of those moments right now.

If I had a single mom in my office telling me there was a lovely guy in her life who was kind to her kids—and yet she was giving him the stiff arm? I’d tell her: “Be kind to yourself. Don’t push away the good people in your life, especially if you think you don’t deserve them. Let people surprise you.”

I’m such a hypocrite.

Also, I need caffeine.

Ten minutes later I’m sipping from a mug of coffee, but Liam’s is cooling on the countertop. The man has his hands full right now as he puts pancakes on the griddle with “help” from my daughters.

“How about a few of these?” he asks, holding up a bag of chocolate chips. Meanwhile, Kate waves the spatula around like a ninja. “A guy needs to make smiley faces in his pancakes sometimes.”

Good. Lord. It’s a miracle I’m not just a puddle of my former self right now. This is some serious mommy porn I’m watching. Shirtless guy feeds toddlers before eight a.m. I walk over to the high cabinet where I keep the ramekins. “We could make smiley faces with dried organic currants,” I say, just to be a pain in the ass.

Liam makes a face of disgust as I take the chocolate chips from his hand and pour some into a ramekin. “Joking! Here.”

He gives me a big, hot smile. Okay, it probably wasn’t meant to be hot, but I feel flutters down below.

“Choc-it!” Kate yells, grabbing for the ramekin.

“Easy,” Liam says with a laugh. “That’s for my artwork. Come here and I’ll show you.”

I set the table and pour the sippy cups of milk. And Liam manages to serve up two smiley pancakes—one for each girl—at exactly the same moment, in exactly the same size. This is a man who knows his way around toddlers.

“Not cut it!” Amy yells when I approach her plate with a knife. She picks up the pancake in two hands and takes a bite right out of the side of its face.

“Okay, right.” I back away. Forks are optional today, then. No big deal.

Liam takes advantage of this moment of quiet to quickly pour six more pancakes onto the griddle. He leans over his work, dotting them with chocolate chips.

I step closer to him and put a hand on his lower back. “Thank you,” I whisper.

“For trashing your kitchen?”

“No.” He glances at me and I give him a shy smile. “For being so amazing all the time.”

His eyes get very warm, and I just want to stay right here in that blue-eyed gaze as long as I can. “This might be a good time to confess that I didn’t make smiley faces on my own pancakes.”

“No?” I look down at the griddle. Side by side, two of them have a different design—little bullseyes in their centers. “Those are…?”

“Boobs,” he whispers. “My inner fourteen-year-old has a dirty mind. He can’t shut it off sometimes.”

“Drink your coffee,” I whisper, handing him the mug. “Sit down. Let me finish these for you. Or go put on a shirt because my inner fourteen-year-old has her tongue hanging out all the time, too.”

He gives me a wicked, wicked smile and then runs upstairs to find his shirt.

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Review: Forget You, Ethan by Whitney G.

Forget You, Ethan
Series: Forget You, Ethan, #1
Author: Whitney G.
Publication Date: August 3, 2018
Publisher: WGW Books, LLC
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer…

I’ve hated Rachel Dawson since I was seven years old. My next door neighbor and number one sworn enemy, she’s the reason why almost all of our childhood fights ended with me setting something of hers on fire. (Or, vice versa.)

She snitched on me when I broke curfew.

I snitched on her when she lied about having a boyfriend.

We went back and forth like this throughout high school, both vowing to never talk to each other again when we went off to college.

But that was until she showed up at my apartment during my senior year and asked me for a temporary place to stay. Until I realized just how much between us had changed, and the line I thought we’d never cross became harder and harder to ignore…


If you’re a fan of contemporary romances and haven’t read a book by Whitney G., you’re missing out. She’s an incredibly talented writer who has corned the market on the love-hate relationship. There’s something so special about the way she writes them. She makes you love and hate the characters just as much as they love and hate each other. I don’t know how she manages to it, but it makes for an amazing, fiery romance. That’s exactly what you’ll get with Forget You, Ethan.

Fans of Sincerely, Carter will especially love Forget You, Ethan. It’s similar to that first book in that it starts out with a guy and a girl who have been sworn enemies since they were kids. It shows how their relationship evolves over the years from torment to love. The story is a mixture of their current relationship intermixed with letters spewing hate from their childhood. I loved the way Whitney G. had Ethan and Rachel’s relationship unfold.

Ethan and Rachel had a super funny way of falling for each other. They went from next door neighbors to pen pals to roommates. I enjoyed their banter and all of the ridiculous things they did and said to each other. I loved the way the fought and the way they fell in love. I just really loved their story. It was so fun and totally worth the long wait. I couldn’t be happier with how it all turned out. Now, please, someone tell me Whitney G. is going to write another new adult enemies to lovers book!

Review: Losing the Field by Abbi Glines

Losing the Field
Series: The Field Party, #4
Author: Abbi Glines
Publication Date: August 21, 2018
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Genre: YA, Sports, Contemporary, Fiction, Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Losing his dream, his ultimate plan, and his future- Nash Lee never expected to be facing a life without football. One wrong move and it had all changed. Going back to school for his senior year no longer appealed to him. He’d rather not leave his house. Walking back into Lawton High School, seeing pity in everyone’s eyes was just another reality in his nightmare.

Revenge wasn’t a pretty thing. Tallulah Liddell had found it was rather controlling. The way you looked at life changed completely when you clung to the ugly notion. But she’d done it anyway. From the last day of her junior year when Ryker Lee had made a fat joke about her and Nash laughed with him, she’d been driven by pain. It wasn’t like no one had made fun of her weight before. She was used to that. What had hurt so deeply was Nash’s laughter. He’d always been the one person to notice her, include her, not treat her differently. But that one moment had changed it all. From the time she walked out of the school building to the moment she returned for her senior year Tallulah had been determined to lose weight and finally be the size her peers considered acceptable.

What she wasn’t expecting on her return was to find a broken Nash Lee who no longer smiled, rarely spoke, and didn’t care about anything or anyone around him. He was just existing. But the pain in his eyes she understood all too well. He was alone. He no longer fit into the perfect package.


I don’t know… I have some mixed feeling about Losing the Field. In order to keep my thoughts straight, I’m going to bullet point this review with what worked for me and what didn’t.

What worked:

  • I flew through it. I read it in one sitting and it had my attention the entire time.
  • I liked Tallulah. Her wanting to be outside of the spotlight was understandable. I liked that she didn’t really change with losing weight. I could identify with some of Tallulah’s feelings on being overweight and also losing a lot of weight. I understood how one person’s comments — especially someone you like — could influence you to lose weight.
  • I liked Nash. He was a decent guy — even when he wasn’t the nicest. Nash’s rage and attitude was easy to understand. I liked how connecting with Tallulah helped him overcome some of his issues.
  • Nash and Tallulah together. They were a cute couple.

What didn’t work:

  • Coach Dace. Everything involving him was just…ick. I wasn’t actually upset with where his character took the story, only what became of the situation and the reactions to it.
  • Haegan. That whole scenario just felt weird. I didn’t get why it really needed to be in this book with how it all worked out.
  • The two things I just listed combined with all the slut and fat shaming were just too much for one book. There was just too much going on for one book.

When it comes down to it, I guess I just expected more from Losing the Field. I still enjoyed reading it, but it’s probably my least favorite book a series that I’ve really enjoyed.

Review: Dr. Strange Beard by Penny Reid

Dr. Strange Beard
Series: Winston Brothers, #5
Author: Penny Reid
Publication Date: July 30, 2018
Publisher: Cipher- Naught
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Fiction
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Hunches, horse races, and heartbreak

Ten years after Simone Payton broke his heart, all Roscoe Winston wants is a doughnut. He’d also like to forget her entirely, but that’s never going to happen. Roscoe remembers everything—every look, every word, every single unrequited second—and the last thing he needs is another memory of Simone.

Unfortunately, after one chance encounter, Simone keeps popping up everywhere he happens to be . . .

Ten years after Roscoe Winston dropped out of her life, all Simone Payton wants is to exploit him. She’d also like some answers from her former best friend about why he ghosted her, but if she never gets those answers, that’s a-okay. Simone let go of the past a long time ago. Seriously, she has. She totally, totally has. She is definitely not still thinking about Roscoe. Nope. She’s more than happy to forget he exists.

But first, she needs just one teeny-tiny favor . . .


I waited a day after finishing reading Dr. Strange Beard to write this review because I couldn’t decide how I felt about it. Even after waiting, I still feel a little undecided to how much I liked it. There were some truly great things about it. Then there were some things that didn’t float my boat.

Let’s start with the great. Penny Reid’s writing was its ever witty, smart self. I loved having to look up several big words that made an appearance. I can always count on her to teach me something new. I learned several things in this book. The previous Winston Brothers characters were just as amazing as they have been in the past. I loved their appearances and how they added to the story. I adored Roscoe. I wanted more of him. I didn’t realize just how sentimental and sweet he was going to be.

Now for the things that left me feeling a little meh. The five year time jump from the previous book was confusing. I had to think hard about where the characters were in life the last time I saw them because where they were now threw me. I felt like I missed some pretty big things. I didn’t remember Roscoe and Simone’s friendship or their characters having the personalities they did. It took me a LONG time to get Roscoe’s fascination with Simone. Actually, I still don’t know if I get it. She was so…odd. Simone felt almost like a mixture of some of Penny Reid’s other female characters except that I didn’t feel like I got deep enough into her backstory to understand what made her the way she was. This made the first half of this book a miss for me.

The second half of this book is what saved it for me. As Simone and Roscoe’s relationship advanced, so did my feelings about them as a couple. I liked what they had together. I still didn’t get Simone, but I could understand Roscoe’s feelings towards her better. I also really loved what was going on in the story at that point. The twists were very exciting and left me wanting more.

Dr. Strange Beard wasn’t my favorite in the Winston Brother‘s series, but it ended up being an entertaining read. It seems to have set up something I think I’m really going to like for Billy’s story. I can’t wait to read that one!

Here is an EXCERPT from Dr. Strange Beard:

“Simone, this is not one of our adventures from when we were kids. This is not finding Blithe Tanner’s cat. These men are murderers, drug dealers, thieves.”

“I know.” Boy oh boy, did I know. I didn’t want to be here anymore than he did. I was frightened. Yet allowing Roscoe to be taken on his own hadn’t been an option. “I can handle myself, and I can provide backup for you, if you need it.”

Roscoe gripped my shoulders. “Nothing can happen to you, do you understand?” His words were emphatic, his gaze disoriented, desolate, frantic. “If anything happens to you, I’ll . . .” He swallowed, apparently unable to finish the sentence.

My heart twisted to see him like this. I wished there were some way to show him what I could do, what I was capable of, so he would stop seeing me as a liability.

Well, why can’t you?

“Huh.”

Now there was a thought.

Stepping out of his grip, I walked backward to the other side of the room and took a deep breath. “Okay. Come at me.”

He blinked. “What?”

“I want you to come at me.”

“Simone,” he seethed.

“Come at me, bro.” I did that little movement with my fingers, my palm turned upwards. “Come at me or I’ll start singing again.”

“I’m not doing this.”

“Fine.”Frustrating. “I’ll come at you.”

He stood there, features set, looking raw.

Moving quickly forward, staying light on my feet, I faked right and then went left, hooking him behind the back of his leg, catching his arm to twist behind his back, and sending him to the ground—face-first—with a thud.

I winced as he grunted, my knee at the base of his spine, his arm restrained behind his back. “Sorry! But you wouldn’t listen to me.” Leaning forward, I whispered in his ear, “Are you okay? Did I hurt you?”

Roscoe’s back and shoulders rose and fell with an expansive breath, like he was about to respond, but in the next moment he’d spun his legs to the right, leveraged my knee on his back to throw me off-balance, and slipped his wrist from my hold.

In my defense, my grip had been lax as I was purposefully trying not to injure him.

The next thing I knew, Roscoe had me pinned to the ground, air knocked out of me, him hovering above, and my gun digging into my ribs beneath my shirt. He’d been careful to subdue my legs, likely so he wouldn’t end up with a bruised ballsack.

His stare more probing than angry—which I took as a good sign—he said, “I didn’t teach you that. Where’d you learn that?”

Even though I was still coughing, I smiled and rasped, “Since college, take judo.”

He nodded faintly, his eyes moving between mine, looking concerned. “Are you okay? Did I hurt you?”

“No.” Endeavoring to catch my breath, I said, “I took it easy on you because I didn’t want to hurt you either, but I’m an asset, not a liability.”

“You’re definitely an asset.” Roscoe frowned, his gaze dropping to my mouth. “And a distraction,” he said, his voice rough.

“I’m a distraction?” I asked, my words still breathy.

I bucked, but he held me fast.

“Yes. . .” His stare turned inward. “You are most definitely a distraction.”

Even though I’d had plenty of time to recover and we’d been holding still for close to a minute, I was still breathing hard. This might have been because of my lingering irritation. Or, maybe it was because the length of Roscoe’s lean body was lying on mine. He held my hands on either side of my head, our faces even, his mouth just inches away.

Was it insane that I hoped he kissed me?

Yes?

No?

Let’s go with no.

He gave me his eyes again and I saw something there, a battle. He looked undecided, at war with himself, straining against something I couldn’t see.

“Roscoe?” I whispered.

Roscoe closed his eyes, and I thought he was going to let me go, but in the next second his lips descended, capturing my mouth in a tender kiss.

I moaned.

I kissed him back.

That’s what one does when Roscoe Winston kisses one. Moan and kiss. Repeat. Because not doing so would be a travesty.

His hold on my hands slacked, his fingers seeking and threading with mine. He settled his hips between my legs, his form relaxing. The weight of him was different now, warmer somehow. At least I felt warm. I also felt cherished as his tongue sought mine, again tenderly, stroking, causing my abdomen to twist and tighten into delicious knots.

He broke the kiss and a protest died on my lips as his mouth trailed down my jaw to the sensitive skin of my neck, sucking, licking, savoring me. What had felt warm and cherishing heated, and my hips tilted reflexively as he nibbled on my ear, cradling his rapidly growing erection.

We both gasped as his hips rocked in an answering yet inelegant movement. It felt perfect and essential in the moment.

“Oh God.” His hot breath spilled against my jaw, a ragged sigh. “What are we doing?”

“I don’t know, but don’t stop.”

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Review: The Chase by Elle Kennedy

The Chase
Series: Briar U, #1
Author: Elle Kennedy
Publication Date: August 5, 2018
Genre: New Adult, Sports, Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Everyone says opposites attract. And they must be right, because there’s no logical reason why I’m so drawn to Colin Fitzgerald. I don’t usually go for tattoo-covered, video-gaming, hockey-playing nerd-jocks who think I’m flighty and superficial. His narrow view of me is the first strike against him. It doesn’t help that he’s buddy-buddy with my brother.

And that his best friend has a crush on me.

And that I just moved in with them.

Oh, did I not mention we’re roommates?

I suppose it doesn’t matter. Fitzy has made it clear he’s not interested in me, even though the sparks between us are liable to burn our house down. I’m not the kind of girl who chases after a man, though, and I’m not about to start. I’ve got my hands full dealing with a new school, a sleazy professor, and an uncertain future. So if my sexy brooding roomie wises up and realizes what he’s missing?

He knows where to find me.


The Chase was my most highly anticipated book of the summer. It’s been a LONG time since Elle Kennedy released a book without a co-author, and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. Did it meet the high expectations I had for it? Absolutely. The Chase reminded me exactly why I love Elle Kennedy’s writing so much.

The Chase takes us back to Elle Kennedy’s Briar University where her Off-Campus series was set. The Off-Campus gang gave all graduated. In their wake, they’ve left behind some familiar players to take their place on top of the Briar U hockey team. First up to find love is Fitzy. The heavily tattooed, scruffy man is a quiet guy who doesn’t like to be the center of attention. That’s why it’s so hard for him to come to terms that he’s interested in Summer.

You might recognize the name Summer. Summer is none other than Dean Di Laurentis’ younger sister. We first met her in The Score. She’s beautiful, rich, full of energy and draws everyone’s attention when she enters a room. Summer has just transferred to Briar U, and is Fitzy and friends’ new roommate. That’s a good and bad thing since Summer has been crushing on Fitzy for the past year.

That’s all I’m saying about the plot of this book . I refuse to give anything away. I know you have been waiting on this book as long as I have. I won’t ruin it for you. What I will say is that I loved The Chase. I loved being back in the Briar hockey world. I adored Summer and Fitzy. Their story was cute and built in the best way. I loved getting to know Fitzy’s teammates and roommates, Hunter and Hollis. Summer’s friends were just as special. Brenna was definitely a favorite character of mine. I can’t wait for all these characters to get their own books! The only little thing that could have made this book better would have been an epilogue, but since I know I’ll be seeing more of these characters I’ll forgive Elle Kennedy for not giving me one.

The Chase was everything I hoped it would be. I absolutely loved it. Elle Kennedy has a way of writing that has me so invested in her characters that I can’t stop thinking about them long after I finished reading. I need more of them! The next Brair U book can’t come soon enough!

Here’s an EXCERPT to give you a hint at how much fun The Chase is…

“Dance with me?”

I want to say no.

But I also want to say yes.

I call this the Summer Dilemma—the frustrating, polar reactions this green-eyed, golden-haired goddess sparks in me.

Fuck yes and hell no.

Get naked with her. Run far, far away from her.

“Thanks, but I don’t like to dance.” I’m not lying. Dancing’s the worst.

Besides, when it comes to Summer Di Laurentis, my flight instinct always wins out.

“You’re no fun, Fitzy.” She makes a tsking noise, drawing my gaze to her lips. Full, pink, and glossy, with a tiny mole above the left side of her mouth.

It’s an extremely hot mouth.

Hell, everything about Summer is hot. She’s hands down the best-looking girl in the bar, and every dude in our vicinity is either staring enviously or glowering at me for being with her.

Not that I’m with her. We’re not together. I’m just standing next to her, with two feet of space between us. Which Summer keeps trying to bridge by leaning closer to me.

In her defense, she practically has to scream in my ear for me to hear her over the electronic dance music blasting through the room. I hate EDM, and I don’t like these kinds of bars, the ones with a dance floor and deafening music. Why the subterfuge? Just call your establishment a nightclub, if that’s what you want it to be. The owner of Gunner’s Pub should’ve called this place Gunner’s Club. Then I could’ve turned right around when I saw the sign and spared myself the shattered eardrums.

Not for the first time tonight, I curse my friends for dragging me to Brooklyn for New Year’s Eve. I’d way rather be at home, drinking a beer or two and watching the ball drop on TV. I’m low-key like that.

“You know, they warned me you were a curmudgeon, but I didn’t believe it until now.”

“Who’s they?” I ask suspiciously. “And hey, wait. I’m not a curmudgeon.”

“Hmmm, you’re right—the term is kind of dated. Let’s go with Groucho.”

“Let’s not.”

“No-Fun Police? Is that better?” Her expression is pure innocence. “Seriously, Fitz, what do you have against fun?”

An unwitting smile breaks free. “Got nothing against fun.”

“All right. Then what do you have against me?” she challenges. “Because every time I try talking to you, you run away.”

My smile fades. I shouldn’t be surprised that she’s calling me out in public. We’ve had a whopping total of two encounters, but that’s plenty of time for me to know she’s the type who thrives on drama.

I hate drama.

“Got nothing against you, either.” With a shrug, I ease away from the bar, prepared to do what she’s just accused me of—run.

A frustrated gleam fills her eyes. They’re big and green, the same shade as her older brother Dean’s eyes. And Dean’s the reason I force myself to stay put. He’s a good friend of mine. I can’t be a jackass to his sister, both out of respect for him, and for fear of my well-being. I’ve been on the ice when Dean’s gloves come off. He’s got a mean right hook.

“I mean it,” I say roughly. “I have nothing against you. We’re cool.”

“What? I didn’t hear the last part,” she says over the music.

I dip my mouth toward her ear, and I’m surprised that I barely have to bend my neck. She’s taller than the average chick, five-nine or ten, and since I’m six-two and used to towering over women, I find this refreshing.

“I said we’re cool,” I repeat, but I misjudged the distance between my lips and Summer’s ear. The two collide, and I feel a shiver run up her frame.

I shiver too, because my mouth is way too close to hers. She smells like heaven, some fascinating combo of flowers and jasmine and vanilla and—sandalwood, maybe? A man could get high on that fragrance. And don’t get me started on her dress. White, strapless, short. So short it barely grazes her lower thighs.

God fucking help me.

Review: Rebel Heart by L.K. Farlow

Rebel Heart
Author: L.K. Farlow
Publication Date: July 26, 2018
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance, Sports

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

She wants to see him get wild and he thinks she needs Jesus.

When AJ Adams is coerced into tutoring Brock Larson, she can’t help but wonder what she’s done to deserve such an epic punishment. He’s the very definition of an All-American good boy—and a total kiss ass. He’s the perfect son, the perfect student, and according to rumor, by far the best golfer the university has ever seen. Puh-lease. If he’s so perfect, why does he need tutoring?

With his British Literature grade circling the drain, Brock knows he needs help. But when he meets his tutor, he can’t believe his friggin’ luck. Abby Jane no longer resembles the childhood best friend he used to play hide and seek with. No, she’s all attitude and pink hair and tattoos. Oh, and she hates him, so that’s a plus.

Brock and AJ couldn’t clash more and antagonizing one another is just too easy. But, as they spend more time together, the lines begin to blur, leading them to realize they have more in common than what meets the eye.

Hate. Lust. Love. They all look the same when you’re in denial, and everyone knows you can’t control your rebel heart.


Rebel Heart is the first book I’ve read by L.K. Farlow. I decided to give it a try after reading a couple of glowing reviews from bloggers I trust. I’m happy I did. Rebel Heart was the type of book I like to read when I’m looking to escape reality. It’s one of those books that’s close to being a little over the top in some aspects, but isn’t too crazy. It was fun and kept me entertained.

The characters in Rebel Hearts had an opposites attract thing going on. AJ and Brock were best friends as children, but went there separate ways in middle school. AJ isn’t happy about being Brock’s tutor, but Brock is excited to have a second chance with feisty AJ. As Brock gets closer to winning AJ’s heart, his obligations threaten to ruin everything.

I liked Brock and AJ. It was cool that Brock was a golfer. You don’t normally see that in sports romances. I also liked that he was a lot sweeter than AJ originally gave him credit for. AJ was a firecracker (to use Brock’s words). She had her own thing going on and she didn’t bend for anyone. I liked how she challenged Brock and wasn’t going to put up with anything. AJ was a strong female character. AJ and Brock were perfect together. They had an amazing chemistry that I loved.

There were a few things that were hard to get past in Rebel Heart. One, the way they talked. I haven’t really heard anyone talk the way they did at times. It felt over the top to me, but maybe I’m just getting too old…Two, I could see the ending coming. Sometimes predictability is nice, but in this case it was too glaringly predictable. I wanted more of a surprising twist. Third, I had a hard time believing Brock would notice the things he did. My husband wouldn’t notice and describe my attire the way Brock did. I can see commenting on how hot a dress is or how pretty AJ looks, but the detail he went into was too much. One last thing I would have liked was more golf. I don’t know much about the sport, and it would have been nice to learn more and see more of Brock in action.

Other than those things, I truly enjoyed reading Rebel Heart. It was light, entertaining read that has me excited to pick up more of L.K. Farlow’s books. I definitely recommend Rebel Heart if you want a new adult romance that’s fun, fast read.

Review: The Raging Ones by Krista & Becca Ritchie

The Raging Ones
Series: The Raging Ones, #1
Authors: Krista & Becca Ritchie
Publication Date: August 14, 2018
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Genre: YA, Science Fiction, Fantasy
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

In a freezing world, where everyone knows the day they will die, three teens break all odds.

Franny Bluecastle, a tough city teen, dreams of dying in opulence, to see wealth she’s never known. Like the entire world, she believes it’s impossible to dodge a deathday.

Until the day she does.

Court Icecastle knows wealth. He also knows pain. Spending five years in Vorkter Prison, a fortress of ice and suffering, he dreams of life beyond the people that haunt him and the world that imprisoned him.

Mykal Kickfall fights for those he loves. The rugged Hinterlander shares a frustrating yet unbreakable connection with Court—which only grows more lawless and chaotic as their senses and emotions connect with Franny.

With the threat of people learning they’ve dodged their deathdays, they must flee their planet to survive. But to do so, all three will have to hide their shared bond as they vie for a highly sought after spot in the newest mission to space. Against thousands of people far smarter, who’ll live longer, and never fear death the way that they do.


I requested The Raging Ones from NetGalley solely because it was written by Krista and Becca Ritchie. I didn’t even read the blurb. If I had, I might not have requested it. I’m not a science fiction or fantasy fan. I try to avoid books in those genres. I’m happy I didn’t read that blurb because I would have missed out on something wonderful. Krista and Becca Ritchie may be known in the contemporary romance world, but they’re taking the YA science fiction world by storm with The Raging Ones.

The writing in this book was exceptional. I wasn’t overwhelmed by the science and fantasy details of the story. I was immediately pulled in and engaged with the setting and characters. I loved the plot. It was so different from anything I’ve read before. I adored Franny, Mykel, and Court. They had such a special connection and how it was woven through the story was so cool. The supporting characters were all very interesting and had important roles to play.

I loved everything about The Raging Ones. If I could have stayed up any later, I would have read this book in one day. It was that fascinating to me. I loved how the action built. The ending — well, let’s just say I didn’t see that coming. It was perfect! I cannot wait to read the next book in this series! Bravo, Ritchie twins!