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!

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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: 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: Four Day Fling by Emma Hart

FOURDAYFLING3

Four Day Fling
Author: Emma Hart
Publication Date: July 24, 2018
Publisher: Emma Hart
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Imagine this.

You’re ready to leave after a one-night stand, and you’re figuring out how to—shock horror—leave your number and ask him to be your fake boyfriend for your sister’s wedding this weekend.

When he wakes up.

Well, that happened to me. And over coffee and omelets, I found myself a date.

Which was how I ended up arriving at the wedding with a guy I knew nothing about.

I didn’t know his last name, or how we met, or how long we’d been dating. I didn’t know where he grew up, what he’d majored in in college, or how many siblings he had.

I sure as hell didn’t know he was Adam Winters, hotshot hockey player, and not only my father’s favorite player, but my little nephew’s freakin’ idol.

Which means I’m in trouble. Big, big trouble.

My mother is suspicious, my sister is bridezilla on crack, and my grandpa will tell anyone who’ll listen about his time in Amsterdam’s Red Light District.

Four days.

I have to keep this up for four days, and then Adam and I can return to our regular lives, where we don’t have sex whenever we’re alone, and my family aren’t interrogating him over his intentions with me.

At least, that’s the plan.

And we all know what happens to those.


I have to be completely honest. I read Four Day Fling without reading the blurb beforehand. I didn’t feel the need to because I love Emma Hart’s writing. That being said, I was just as shocked to find out Poppy’s wedding date was a famous professional hockey player. It made the story that much funnier for me — and Four Day Fling was hilarious.

Poppy was a mixture of snark and awkwardness. She was a hot mess and I loved her for it. From her t-shirts with sayings to the way she dealt with her family, Poppy was a character who made me laugh. I adored her and her crazy ways. I found her to be a refreshingly blunt character who had confidence along with real life insecurities. It was fun reading about her falling for Adam.

Adam was all cool confidence. The guy knew how to go with the flow. His willingness to accept all the crazy going on added to the enjoyment of this story. I loved how Adam loved what other people saw as Poppy’s flaws.

Poppy and Adam made a great match. The way they navigated a wedding and Poppy’s crazy family as a fake couple was hilarious. I couldn’t get enough of this story. I didn’t want the four days to end…and when it did…the story continued to in a way suited to both Adam and Poppy.

If you’re looking for a fun romantic comedy to enjoy on this beach or just take your mind off things, Four Day Fling is the perfect book.

Now, in case you’re wondering what reading Four Day Fling is like,
here is an EXCERPT:

“Ready?” Adam strolled out of the bedroom, playing with the button on his shorts.

“For lunch with my mother?” I turned and stared at him, expressionless. “I’m thrilled.”

He laughed and adjusted the short sleeve of his white shirt. “It’s what—an hour? Then she’ll be back snapping at your sister’s ankles. Surely you can give Rosie a break for sixty whole minutes.”

“Oh no. I’ve done that guilt trip my entire life. I’m not getting it from my fake boyfriend, too.” I waggled my finger at him before turning back to the mirror to finish my make-up. “And yes, I can give her a break, but it doesn’t mean I need to be happy about it.”

“Do you ever get along?”

“Yes. When I’m in Orlando and she’s in Key West.”

“I mean when you’re together.”

“In the same room together, or having a conversation together?”

“Now you’re just being awkward, Red.”

I brushed a final stroke of mascara over each of my eyes, then stopped, wand in hand, and met his eyes in the reflection of the mirror. “Given how you ended up here, I would have thought you knew that awkward was my default mode.”

“That was cute-awkward. This is attitude-awkward.”

“How do you know there’s a difference?”

He pointed at himself. “Four sisters. I grew up with attitude-awkward. I could recognize it blindfolded with hands cuffed behind my back from two hundred miles away.”

“Wow. Someone’s cocky.”

“I thought we established that the night we met.”

My cheeks flushed. Damn it. Why did I have to blush like an idiot? Oh, that’s right. I was a redhead and so pale I was a distant relative of Casper the Friendly Ghost, which meant you could see my blushing a mile off.

“You’re adorable when you blush.” Adam grinned.

“Thank God,” I drawled. “That was my life goal. Be adorable. Now, I can get it in neon lights over my bed.”

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

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

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

Rating: ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

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

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

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

It’s so romantic.

Violet is totally stoked to set a date.

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

Review:

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


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

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

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

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

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

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

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

Review:

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


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

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

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

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

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

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

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

I shouldn’t want her.

But I do.

I should leave her alone.

But I won’t.

Review:

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

Blog Tour Review: The Real Deal by Lauren Blakely

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ORDER YOUR COPIES HERE!

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Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


ADD IT TO YOUR GOODREADS TODAY!

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

~Elsa Gomes, Bookish Aurora~

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

~Rosa Sharon, iScream Books Blog~

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

~Julia, The Romance Bibliophile~

Excerpt:

~THEO~

I can be anyone you want.

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

How would you reach me if you needed me?

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

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

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

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

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

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

✮✮✮Reader’s Choice Giveaway!✮✮✮

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

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

About Lauren Blakely:

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

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Review: I Think I Love You by Lauren Layne

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

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

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

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

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

Review:

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


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

Rating: ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

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

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

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

Review:

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


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

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

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

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

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

Review:

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

Blog Tour Review: Getting Schooled by Emma Chase

Head of the class…

Garrett Daniels has this whole life thing figured out.

The cocky, charismatic former high school star quarterback is an idolized football coach and “cool” teacher in the hometown where he’s not just a golden boy — he’s platinum. He has good friends, a great house on the lake, and the best damn sidekick a man could ask for: Snoopy, the albino beagle.

Then…Callie Carpenter comes home.

And knocks him right on his tight end zone.

Back to school…

Callie has a pretty sweet life herself…on the other side of the country. But circumstances — that she’d prefer to never speak of again — have brought her back home, helping out her parents and substitute teaching at her old high school.

Now she’s facing bickering, raging hormones, constant gossip, awkward weirdness, and drama galore…and that’s just the teachers.

Just like old times…

When Garrett offers to show his former high school sweetheart the secrets of his winning teacher ways, Callie jumps at the chance – and then has to stop herself from jumping him.

Good friends are all they can ever be.

Or…these teachers just might end up getting schooled — hard — by love.

Includes a special bonus interview with the author!

©2018 Emma Chase (P)2018 Audible Originals, LLC.

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AVAILABLE NOW

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REVIEW:

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

If you’re looking for an adorable, nothing but fun summer read this is it! Getting School was so stinking cute! I can’t get over how cute it was.

Getting Schooled is a second chance romance. While most books set in schools seem to be forbidden romances about teachers and students, this one is different. It’s solely about the teachers. Garrett is a history teacher and football coach at his old high school. The kids and staff adore and respect him. His life is as perfect as he thinks it’s going to get until his high school sweetheart returns to town. Callie takes a temporary job as a teacher at the school, and reconnects with Garrett as he teachers her how to manage the students.

There were so many things to love about Getting Schooled. First, let’s start with the characters, Garrett is now one of my favorite male romance characters ever. It wasn’t his love for Callie that got me — even though that was sweet. It was the way he cared about his students. It was inspirational. It’s how I hope all my daughter’s teachers feel. Then, there was Callie. She had a lot to discover about herself. I loved how working with Garrett and the students made her realize some very important things.

I can’t leave out the side characters. The students had such an important part in this story. Like I said before, they taught Callie some important things about herself. They also created some fun drama. I loved their interactions with each other and the teachers. The faculty at Garrett and Callie’s school cracked me up. You really don’t realize how teachers are people with lives while you’re a student, and this showed how much they are. I loved how fun they all were!

Another thing I enjoyed about Getting Schooled was the romance. There was drama, but it wasn’t over the top. It was smaller and more realistic. That didn’t make it any less sweet. Garrett and Callie were adorable together. I loved how they built on their previous relationship and talked about things they should have in the past.

Getting Schooled was a pleasure to read. It was a mix of humor and heart. I loved every minute of it. It would make the perfect summer beach read. I can’t wait to find out where the series is going next!

EXCERPT:

High school parking lots are one of the most dangerous places on earth. I don’t have statistics to back that up…but I know it’s true.

I pull into the school parking lot Monday morning in my Dad’s giant, newly repaired mint-green Buick, with Back in Black by AC/DC blasting from the speakers. I feel tough, powerful—like I’m driving a tank.

I’m a badass teacher—I’ll run you down even if you’re a student—I’ve got twenty-nine more in class just like you.

The outfit helps too—leather boots, blue jeans, a starched white blouse and a black leather jacket. It’s my armor. The morning air is cool and crisp today, but I barely feel it. I’m locked and loaded and ready to roll.

As I march towards the main entrance, I spot Garrett and Dean and Alison Bellinger outside the doors. They pause when they see me, waiting.

“Damn,” Dean chuckles. “Callie’s got her shit-kickers on. Did you dig them out of a mosh pit from 1993?”

Garrett crosses his arms. “Somebody’s channeling Michelle Pfiefer in Dangerous Minds.”

He looks fantastic. His hair is tousled from the breeze and kisses his brow, and he’s wearing a dark blue sweater that’s snug around his biceps and soft, worn, light blue jeans. I remember his arms around me yesterday on my parent’s porch. The wonder and exhilaration of the moment.

Of him.

The intensity in his eyes, the desire and possessiveness in the grasp of his hands. The scorching feel of his mouth, his wet talented tongue that made my stomach swirl and my head spin.

So much for not complicating things.

But I’m not going to play head games with myself or Garrett—we’re too old for that shit.

I have feelings for him—I always have—our break-up had nothing to do with either of us not wanting each other desperately. But these aren’t just leftover echoes of a sweet, first love—this is something new. A throbbing, breathless attraction to the amazing man he’s become. I want to be near him. I want to know him, inside and out, all over again.

And he feels the same way. Garrett wants this version of me as much as he always did—maybe even more. I heard it in his whispered words and felt it in his kiss.

I don’t know if we have a future, if it can go anywhere. We have separate lives on opposite ends of the country. But I’m not going to worry about that—for now, I’m going to take each day as it comes and enjoy every moment we can.

Except for now. Now is not the time for enjoying or worrying or relationship building…now is the time for focusing. Now is the time to be ice and steel—don’t smile, don’t waver.

“Little fucknutters don’t know who the hell they’re dealing with,” I growl.

Allison pumps her fist. “That’s the spirit.”

Garrett opens the door for me. “Go get ‘em, Gangster’s Paradise.”

Emma Chase is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the hot and hilarious Tangled series and The Legal Briefs series. Emma lives in New Jersey with her husband, two children and two naughty (but really cute) dogs. She has a long-standing love/hate relationship with caffeine.

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