Review: Run Away With Me by Mila Gray

Run Away With Me
Series: Come Back to Me, #3
Author: Mila Gray
Publication Date: November 28, 2017
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, New Adult
Note: I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Emerson Lowe and popular ice-hockey player Jake McCallister have been best friends since third grade but just as their friendship starts to morph into something more, a terrible event occurs that heralds the end of innocence for both of them. Within a week, Jake’s living on the other side of the country and Emerson is left alone to pick up the pieces of her life in a small town determined to paint her as a liar.

Seven years on and Emerson is still living on the beautiful Pacific West island of Bainbridge, helping her family run their outdoor adventure company. The last thing she needs is Jake turning up, bringing with him old memories and opening up old wounds. But Jake—even better looking than Emerson remembered and on the cusp of a bright sporting future—seems determined to revive their friendship no matter how much Emerson tries to push him away and soon they’re in the midst of a passionate summer romance that neither of them wants to end.

But if they’re to have any kind of future, they’re first going to need to confront the past, a past that most people want to stay buried.


I have been a fan of Mila Gray’s Come Back to Me series since it was released. I love the physical and emotional healing that takes place in her books. The first and second books in the series were military based, so I was surprised to find that Run Away With Me was a sports romance. The writing had the same new adult angst feel, but otherwise the story felt different. The wounds of war were gone, and in their place were those of a different kind of tragedy.

In Run Away With Me, Jake has just returned to Bainbridge Island to make things right with Emerson. He couldn’t move past his childhood friendship and crush. He felt like something was missing from his life, and he needed to find out if it was Emerson. Their reunion wasn’t exactly a happy one. Emerson wasn’t exactly on board with it. She had a lot of anger deep inside that needed to be dealt with. There was a lot of healing to be done between the two of them.

Emerson and Jake had a shared history. I enjoyed the way it was unraveled. What happened to separate them in the past was a little bit of a mystery. There were some major revelations given throughout the story, and I liked that it was done through separate flashbacks. Getting to know what happened to both of them that way was really profound. Their experiences were so different and they both felt the fallout from what happened when they were fourteen. I was happy they could eventually get past the heart ache and find happiness with each other again. They both deserved to get their friendship and the possibility of more back.

One of my favorite things about Run Away With Me was the setting. The way Mila Gray described Bainbridge and the surrounding islands was beautiful. I felt like I was right there with the characters. I’ve been to Vashon, but never Bainbridge. This book made me curious to explore it since it’s not too far from backyard.

Overall, I really enjoyed this romance. It was full of deep emotions and strong bond between the characters, but also had a light summer feel to it.

Review: Fallen Heir by Erin Watt

Fallen Heir
Series: The Royals, #4
Author: Erin Watt
Publication Date: August 28, 2017
Publisher: Timeout LLC
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, New Adult
Note: I received an ARC in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

These Royals will ruin you.

Easton Royal has it all: looks, money, intelligence. His goal in life is to have as much fun as possible. He never thinks about the consequences because he doesn’t have to.

Until Hartley Wright appears, shaking up his easy life. She’s the one girl who’s said no, despite being attracted to him. Easton can’t figure her out and that makes her all the more irresistible.

Hartley doesn’t want him. She says he needs to grow up.

She might be right.

Rivals. Rules. Regrets. For the first time in Easton’s life, wearing a Royal crown isn’t enough. He’s about to learn that the higher you start, the harder you fall.


“These Royals will ruin you.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself. Every single book about the Royals ruins me in some way. Fallen Heir did it more than once.

There was more to Easton Royal than I expected. I knew he would be a cocky young man with the world at his finger tips. What I didn’t know was the extent of his past and how it affected him. He was such a strength for Ella in the first three books. I was surprised that he was different in Fallen Heir. I didn’t quite love his character as much as I expected to based on that role. His truths were more and different from I imagined.

As for Hartley Wright, I still feel a little in the dark. I learned about Hartley through Easton’s eyes since she didn’t get her own point of view. I started to like her, but I really wanted to know her thoughts and motivations. It feels like Hartley is going to be a good influence on Easton. I’m hoping she gets to voice her own thoughts in book 5.

The thing that ruined me the most in Fallen Heir was that ending. If you’ve read the first three books in this series, you know that Erin Watt are the queens of the cliffhanger. They didn’t disappoint with the one at the end of Fallen Heir. It completely blew my mind. I could have never seen what happened coming, and now I’m frustrated that I have to wait until January to find out what’s next!!!

Fallen Heir was a great addition to The Royals series. It ruined me in the best ways. It took everything I thought I knew about Easton Royal and both altered and built upon it. I’m really looking forward to seeing his character continue to grow in the next book. If you’re a fan of the series, you won’t want to miss this book!

Review: Trust by Kylie Scott

Being young is all about the experiences: the first time you skip school, the first time you fall in love…the first time someone holds a gun to your head.                                                                                                                                                                         After being held hostage during a robbery at the local convenience store, seventeen year old Edie finds her attitude about life shattered. Unwilling to put up with the snobbery and bullying at her private school, she enrolls at the local public high school, crossing paths with John. The boy who risked his life to save hers.                                                                                                                                 While Edie’s beginning to run wild, however, John’s just starting to settle down. After years of partying and dealing drugs with his older brother, he’s going straight—getting to class on time, and thinking about the future.                                                                                                                             An unlikely bond grows between the two as John keeps Edie out of trouble and helps her broaden her horizons. But when he helps her out with another first—losing her virginity—their friendship gets complicated.

Meanwhile, Edie and John are pulled back into the dangerous world they narrowly escaped. They were lucky to survive the first time, but this time they have more to lose—each other.

Amazon US | Amazon Aus | Amazon UK | iBooks US | iBooks Aus | Kobo | Nook

My Review:

My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Note: I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Hmm…This was one of those books that’s hard to rate. It was a book I couldn’t put down, and yet, there were some things that bothered me about it. I’m going to break this review into things I loved about Trust and things I didn’t.

Things I loved:

  • I’ve read one other contemporary romance from Kylie Scott, but this book was way different from that one. It was way more raw and emotion filled. I don’t think I would have realized the two books had the same author if her name wasn’t on the front of the cover. I liked this darker novel more.
  • The explosive beginning of Trust was a great way to set up the entire book. The descriptions of everything that went on and Edie’s thoughts throughout the whole event were amazing. I loved how the incident changed Edie and set her on a different path.
  • Edie’s transition to public school opened so many new doors for her. I loved the new friends she made, and how it allowed her to reconnect with John. The friendship they developed slowly morphed throughout the story and I liked that path it took.

Things I didn’t love:

  • Edie was a “bigger” girl. She described herself as being flabby around the middle with thunder thighs. I could understand her body consciousness and thoughts relating to her body. I thought they represented true thoughts and feelings of a teenage girl who was larger in size than her peers. I appreciated that, but I also wanted more. If a writer’s going there with an overweight main character, I like to see some self-realization for the character. Maybe her body isn’t “perfect” in societal standards, but she comes to realize her body is just as beautiful as everyone else’s. I wanted something teenage girls who read this could learn something from body wise. I didn’t get that with this book.
  • It was a little weird was John’s character was a drug dealer. He was super popular and wanted by all the girls — for being a hot drug dealer??? That blew my mind. I get the cute part, but are drug dealers really super popular in high school these days? I don’t remember girls lusting after drug dealers in my high school years, but maybe I was oblivious to who was dealing drugs. Drugs and alcohol were prevalent in this book, and weren’t really a big deal.
  • Some moments I wasn’t sure I believed John’s attraction to Edie. It had nothing to do with her weight and everything to do with not having his point of view in this book. On one hand, John did a lot of sweet things for Edie. On the other, his only tell that he might have wanted more than friendship was the couple of times he checked out her boobs. Having his point of view included would have helped clear up John’s feelings a little better.

Overall, Trust was a book I truly enjoyed reading. It was dark, mature YA romance with a great cast of characters. I would love for this book to lead to a series. I was really interested in Anders and Hang’s relationship, and would love to learn more about them.

TRUST by Kylie Scott (Official Book Trailer) from FILM 14 on Vimeo.

Excerpt:

“You were going to give it up to Duncan Dickerson?” he sneered. “Are you serious?”

I halted, staring at him. This was not good. “How do you know about that?”

“Anders overheard you and Hang talking.”

“Bastard.”

“Well?” he demanded, acting all authoritarian. Idiot.

“To be fair, I didn’t know his last name was Dickerson,” I said. “That’s unfortunate. Though, I wasn’t actually planning on marrying him, so . . .”

“Not funny.”

I shrugged.

“You barely know the guy.”

“Um, yeah. None of your concern. We’re not talking about this.” How mortifying! My face burned bright. People should just gather around and cook s’mores. “I appreciate that we’re friends. You mean a lot to me. But this is going to have to fall under definitely none of your damn business, so go away please.”

“We’re talking about it.” He advanced a step.

“No we are not.” And I retreated.

“You were going to let a complete stranger touch you.” Advance.

Retreat. “People do it all the time. You do it all the time.”

“But you don’t,” he said, taking the final step, backing me up against the side of his car and getting all in my face. “Edie, this is your first time we’re talking about. Isn’t it?”

“Yes, and it’s going to be messy and painful and probably horribly embarrassing and I just want it over and done with.” I tried to meet his eyes but failed, settling for a spot on his right shoulder. “You’re not a girl; you wouldn’t understand. Also, last time I checked, you’re not the gatekeeper of my hymen, John Cole. So back the fuck off.”

He said nothing.

Deep, calming breaths. “Look, someday I’ll meet someone I really like and we’ll have a deep and meaningful relationship and go at it like bunnies. But I don’t want to be the dumb virgin in that scenario.”

He slowly shook his head.

“Also, I do not want to die a virgin.”

“What? What the hell are you talking about?”

“Hey, you and I both know death can occur at any time.”

“This is crazy.”

“I’m seeing a therapist!” I told his shoulder. “I don’t know if you noticed, but I’m a little bit messed up these days. It’s hard for me to trust people. That’s not going to change anytime soon.”

He screwed up his face at me. “Wha—”

“I’m just trying to be practical.”

“Well, you’re being ridiculous. None of this makes sense.”

“It does to me.”

Again, he said nothing.

In fact, he said nothing for so long that I finally looked him in the eye. The anger had left him, replaced by an emotion I didn’t recognize. Worst of all, he still smelled like summer. A little sweat and the open night air, everything I loved. Liked. I meant liked.

“What?” I said, finally.

He let loose a breath. “I’ll do it.”

About the Author:

kyliescottimageKylie is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author. She was voted Australian Romance Writer of the year, 2013 & 2014, by the Australian Romance Writer’s Association and her books have been translated into eleven different languages. She is a long time fan of romance, rock music, and B-grade horror films. Based in Queensland, Australia with her two children and husband, she reads, writes and never dithers around on the internet. You can learn more about Kylie from http://www.kylie-scott.com/.

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Review: Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

Alex, Approximately
Author: Jenn Bennett
Publication Date: April 4, 2017
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

The one guy Bailey Rydell can’t stand is actually the boy of her dreams—she just doesn’t know it yet.

Classic movie fan Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online as Alex. Two coasts separate the teens until Bailey moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush.

Faced with doubts (what if he’s a creep in real life—or worse?), Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist-trap museum. Or that she’s being heckled daily by the irritatingly hot museum security guard, Porter Roth—a.k.a. her new archnemesis. But life is whole lot messier than the movies, especially when Bailey discovers that tricky fine line between hate, love, and whatever it is she’s starting to feel for Porter.

And as the summer months go by, Bailey must choose whether to cling to a dreamy online fantasy in Alex or take a risk on an imperfect reality with Porter. The choice is both simpler and more complicated than she realizes, because Porter Roth is hiding a secret of his own: Porter is Alex…Approximately.


Alex, Approximately has been on my radar since prior to its release. First, it was the adorable cover that caught my eye. Then, it was all the amazing reviews it was getting. Almost every blogger was raving about it. I knew I had to read it, so I requested it from the library. It only took two and a half months for my hold to come through, but I finally got to read it.

The book blurb pretty much gives the story away for Alex, Approximately. That should ruin the story, but it doesn’t. It only adds to the fun of it. While you know who Porter and Bailey really are, they don’t. Their relationship progresses naturally from enemies to friends to more. It was cute and sweet and oh so much fun to read.

This book is the perfect summer read. It’s set in a beach side town filled with great destinations, shops and the beach itself. Even Bailey’s accessories are somehow perfectly fitting for the scene. The setting adds so much to this story, and made me crave a trip to the beach.

Bailey has personality. She had her own style, her love of old movies and an evading tactic that made her stand out. Despite being an introvert, she shined the most in social situations. Maybe it was her awkwardness in them that made those moments so much fun to read. The best ones were with Porter. He brought out the best and the worst in Bailey.

Porter was a gem. I couldn’t help but love him. He could be a jerk, but it was in a slightly cocky way that felt perfect for a teenage boy. There was also a softer side to him that came out around Bailey. I loved how he was always trying to protect her. He was just so dang charming!

Alex, Approximately had more going for it than just Porter and Bailey’s romance. It was filled with important friendships and family dynamics. Bailey quickly made a new friend in Grace. They really clicked and I loved watching their friendship develop. Bailey was also rediscovering her relationship with her father, and each moment they spent navigating it was fun. I did wish I got to see a little bit of her mother, but her father more than made up for that. Porter’s relationship with his family was also included and I loved meeting all of them.

I loved everything about Alex, Approximately. If you’re looking for a cute summer YA contemporary romance, this is one you shouldn’t pass up.

Review: Defy by L.J. Shen

Defy
Series: Sinners of Saint, #0.5
Author: L.J. Shen
Publication Date: January 31, 2017
Publisher: L.J. Shen
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Synopsis:

Defy is a smutty, insta-love, insta-lust short novella. Defy is a prequel to Vicious (Sinners of Saint #1). It is recommended, but unnecessary, to read Defy before reading Vicious.

First included in Hot for Teacher Anthology: 19 Stories Filled with Lust and Love.

My name is Melody Greene, and I have a confession to make.
I slept with my student, a senior in high school.
Multiple times.
I had multiple orgasms.
In multiple positions.
I slept with my student and I enjoyed it.
I slept with my student and I’d do it all over again if I could turn back time.
My name is Melody Greene, and I got kicked out of my position as a teacher and did my walk of shame a la Cersei Lannister from the principal’s office, minutes after said principal threatened to call the cops on me.
My name is Melody Greene, and I did something bad because it made me feel good.
Here is why it was totally worth it.


If you read the blurb for Defy, it mentions that it should be read before Vicious. Well, I didn’t do that. In fact, I read the entire Sinners of Saint series backward starting with Ruckus. I’m glad I did that. Why? Well, to be honest, student-teacher romances are not my thing. I’m not sure I would have picked up this awesome series if I had read Defy first. The only reason I read it was curiosity. Vicious and Ruckus mention Melody and Jaime’s relationship a lot, and I had to know more about Jaime since he’s one of the HotHoles.

Defy was a good read. I still wasn’t 100% on board with the student-teacher aspect, but it was fun to see how Melody and Jaime ended up together. I liked how it played out. I could almost —almost— understand why Melody broke her code of conduct. It helped that Jaime was eighteen, more manly, and more mature than most high school seniors.

The one thing that could have maybe made me fall in love with Defy would have been Jaime’s point of view. Unlike the other books in this series, we don’t get it. 🙁 I liked reading Defy from Melody’s point of view, but Jaime’s would have added so much more to it!

Overall, Defy was a good, short novella that added to my enjoyment of the Sinners of Saint series.

Review: Vicious by L.J. Shen

Vicious
Series: Sinner of Saint, #1
Author: L.J. Shen
Publication Date: December 27, 2016
Publisher: L.J. Shen
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Emilia

They say love and hate are the same feelings experienced under different circumstances, and it’s true.
The man who comes to me in my dreams also haunts me in my nightmares.
He is a brilliant lawyer.
A skilled criminal.
A beautiful liar.
A bully and a savior, a monster and a lover.
Ten years ago, he made me run away from the small town where we lived. Now, he came for me in New York, and he isn’t leaving until he takes me with him.

Vicious

She is a starving artist.
Pretty and evasive like cherry blossom.
Ten years ago, she barged into my life unannounced and turned everything upside down.
She paid the price.
Emilia LeBlanc is completely off-limits, my best friend’s ex-girlfriend. The woman who knows my darkest secret, and the daughter of the cheap Help we hired to take care of our estate.
That should deter me from chasing her, but it doesn’t.
So she hates me. Big fucking deal.
She better get used to me.


This book totally did it for me. I’m not really sure how or why, but it did. I think it may have had to do a little bit with having read the second book in this series, Ruckus, first. I got a little bit of a preview of Emilia and Vicious’ relationship in that book. It made me really curious to how they ended up together. I loved discovering how it all happened.

Without any prior knowledge of Emilia and Vicious’ tumultuous past, I’m not sure I would have fell in love with Vicious like I did. Vicious is a tough character to love. He’s a complete alpha male with control issues. He wants everything done his way and in his time. There’s so much hate living inside him, and it’s constantly spewing out. It’s directed at everyone and everything. I hated him most of the time. Well, all of the time except for when it came to Emilia. I didn’t always like what he did to her, but his heart was its purest when he was giving into his feelings for her. It gave me hope for Vicious. And when I learned his story, I couldn’t help fall all the way in love with the jerk.

Emilia may have been artsy fartsy and put her family’s needs first, but that didn’t make her a wilting flower. She was a tenacious and strong woman. Emilia had no problem standing up to Vicious and challenging him. I loved how she brought out his soft side. Their love-hate relationship created a potent chemistry. It didn’t matter whether they were loving or fighting, there were always sparks.

One thing I really enjoyed in Vicious was getting to see more of the past I got a glimpse of in Ruckus. Learning about what went down in high school from Emilia and Vicious’ point of view was very different from learning it from Rosie and Dean’s. I got to see more sides of the story and how it wove together. I loved that. I made me even more curious to read Jaime and Melody’s story in Defy.

If you’re a fan of dark and gritty new adult romances, I highly recommend Vicious and the Sinners of Saint series. It’s a series I’ve fallen in love with.

Review: Ruckus by L.J. Shen

Ruckus
Series: Sinners of Saint, #2
Author: L.J. Shen
Publication Date: May 23, 2017
Publisher: L.J. Shen
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Rosie

They say that life is a beautiful lie and death a painful truth. They’re right.
No one has ever made me feel more alive than the guy who serves as a constant reminder that my clock is ticking.
He is my forbidden, shiny apple.
The striking fallacy to my blunt, raw, truth.
He is also my sister’s ex-boyfriend.
One thing you should know before you judge me;
I saw him first. I craved him first. I loved him first.
Eleven years later, he waltzed into my life, demanding a second chance.
Dean Cole wants to be my bronze horseman. My white knight has finally arrived. Hopefully, he isn’t too late.

Dean

They say the brightest stars burn out the fastest. They’re right.
She sets my mind on fire.
All smart mouth, snarky attitude and a huge heart.
In a world where everything is dull, she shines like fucking Sirius.
Eleven years ago, fate tore us apart.
This time, I dare it to try.
Getting to her is a battlefield, but man, that’s why they call me Ruckus.
Rosie LeBlanc is about to find out how hard I can fight.
And conquering her will be the sweetest victory.


When Ruckus released last month, I saw a ton of good reviews for it. I had never read L.J. Shen’s books before, so I decided to give Ruckus a try. I downloaded it, but couldn’t get to it right away. This week, I was feeling a bit of a book hangover and decided to start Ruckus. I’m really happy I did. I have found a new author I’m excited to read more from.

Rosie LeBlanc has felt a connection to Dean “Ruckus” Cole ever since she first met his glare in high school. She knew Dean was the one for her at that moment. Sadly, a relationship with him wasn’t in the cards. Dean was her sister’s boyfriend, and that made him off-limits even after they broke up.

Now, year’s later, Dean’s back in Rosie’s life. They live in the same building, and no matter how hard Rosie tries to avoid Dean, she always runs into him and his harem. His blunt cockiness and womanizing ways should make Dean the least desirable guy, but when Rosie’s sister’s wedding requires them to spend time together, she can’t help but be drawn further into his web.

I loved L.J. Shen’s writing style. It’s a little bit dark and a whole lot gritty. I love that she gives a voice to both the male and female main characters. The first person dual points of view are raw and emotion filled. Her characters are alpha males and strong females who won’t step down from a fight. They have something traumatic that pulls them together, while at the same time breaking them apart.

Rosie was an inspiring character. Her life was harder than most due to physical challenges, but she didn’t let that stop her from trying to achieve her dreams. She was so good deep down inside, and saw good in Dean when others wouldn’t have.

Honestly, Dean was a cocky jerk. He may have had a lot going for him career and looks wise, but he wasn’t a nice guy. Dean had moments where his compassion and sweetness showed through, but they were rare. He was pretty messed up, and it took a lot to get him started on the right path. It took me a while to really like Dean. I would have liked to have seen more of the redeemed Dean. I could have used about 5 epilogues to believe he could be who he needed to be — I’m not just saying that because I fell in love with him even more in the epilogue provided.

Rosie and Dean’s relationship was a rough one. There were a lot of barriers trying to keep them apart. Whether it was her health, his addictions or their friends and family, nothing was strong enough to break them apart. Their chemistry and love for each other was too strong. I loved how they fought for their love and for each other.

Since this is the first book I’ve read in the Sinner of Saint series, I feel the need to point out two things. First, the side characters are just as intriguing as the main characters. Hearing about everyone’s combined past makes me want to hurry up and read the other books in the series. I need to know more about the rest of the HotHoles and their women. Second, this book can be read as a standalone. You don’t have to have read the first book to read this one. It might have made it more fun (I don’t know since I didn’t read the other books first.), but it was a great reading experience without having read the other books.

Oh! And I can’t leave out the fact that Ruckus surprised me! I thought I knew what Dean’s secrets were going to be, but I didn’t! I was completely surprised a couple of different times while reading. I loved that!

Overall, I loved reading Ruckus. This enthralling romance was combined with just the right amount of mystery and darkness. It was everything I expect from a great new adult book. I will be immediately reading the rest of the series.