Review: Sugar & Gold by Emma Scott

Sugar & Gold
Series: Dreamcatcher, #2
Author: Emma Scott
Publication Date: June 13, 2017
Genre: Contemporary Romance, New Adult, Fantasy
Note: I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Nikolai Alexei Young was born with a special gift…one he’d do anything to lose. The heart and soul of every person he comes into contact with is an open book to his heightened senses. Colorful emotions, whispers of thoughts, the sour tastes of old memories…He feels them all. The sci-fi books would call him an empath. For Nikolai, his ability has made him an exile. He roams the U.S. alone, avoiding the glut of life in big cities, and using his innate talents to win money in underground poker games. Just enough to keep going, one town to the next. He has no hope that his life can be anything else, until he meets her…

At nineteen, Fiona Starling was trapped in an ugly, desperate situation until she freed herself the only way she knew how. Now three years later, living outside Savannah, Georgia, she is rebuilding her life on her own terms; seizing every moment and saving every penny so that she might fulfill her dream of moving to the raw wilderness of Costa Rica. But behind her carefree smile beats the heart of a lonely young woman haunted by her past, until a chance encounter with a tattooed stranger changes everything…

Fiona takes Nikolai under her roof for three sultry nights, waiting out the rain of a summer storm. She grows more and more fascinated by this brooding stranger with whom she shares an intense physical connection—a connection so strong, she wonders if there is something between them beyond lust and passion. Nikolai is shocked to discover that Fiona calms the raging turmoil in his heart. She alone silences the din of other people’s lives, and envelops him in the sweet beauty of her inner self. Every moment he’s with her—every touch of her skin—brings him closer to the peace that’s been eluding him his entire life.

But Fiona harbors secrets that she is too terrified to reveal. After Nikolai confesses his unique ability, she is caught between wanting to believe him and fearing he’ll eventually unearth her own dark past. When the unthinkable happens, Fiona’s plans come crashing down, and Nikolai discovers his hated ability might be the only thing that can save the woman he loves.


Sugar & Gold was a brilliant story of two broken people finding love and comfort where they least expect it. Fiona, ready to flee to the wild of Costa Rica, had no plans for love. Love was what broke her in the first place. Nikolai has a gift for seeing and feeling emotions from the people he comes in contact with. It’s made him unwelcome by those he loves the most. He never thought a one night distraction could bring him the peace he craves.

I really loved this book. I’m a little surprised by that. You see, I’m not really one for paranormal stuff in books. I like my fiction to be realistic. But I really, really loved it in Sugar & Gold. Nik’s gift was so well woven into the story. It gave him a connection with Fiona that went above and beyond what would have been in my realistic fiction. I adored their relationship and couldn’t imagine it without Nik’s colors.

Not only did Sugar & Gold have the whole paranormal thing going for it, but it also had some great twists. I couldn’t have foreseen where this story was headed. I loved the turn it took and how everything worked out. I especially loved the epilogue.

If you want to feel all the feels, reach for an Emma Scott book. She won’t let you down. She always crafts a sweet story filled with raw emotions. I was completely captivated by Sugar & Gold. It was just so beautiful. I highly recommend it.

Review: Eye Candy by Tijan, Tara Sivex, J. Daniels, Helena Hunting & Bella Jewel

Eye Candy
Authors: Tijan, Tara Sivec, J. Daniels, Helena Hunting, Bella Jewel
Publication Date: September 5, 2017
Publisher: Swerve
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, New Adult, Halloween
Note: I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ¼

Synopsis:

A frightfully good time! Dive into these Halloween novellas from bestselling authors Tijan, J. Daniels, Helena Hunting, Bella Jewel and Tara Sivec. Featuring stories set in the worlds of their popular series.

Tijan’s Fallen Crest crew are back for a weekend of mischief that takes a sinister turn; all four couples from J. Daniels’ Alabama Summer series gear up for Halloween in their own sexy ways, with a special surprise at the end; Helena Hunting’s characters from Shacking Up plan a Halloween gala that features a few ghouls and witches; Bella Jewel brings the chills and thrills in her suspenseful take on Halloween night; and Tara Sivec gathers the Holiday family together one last time as they try to make this ghostly holiday one to remember—or one they’d rather forget…

Cozy up with a mug of hot cider on a dark night and fall under the spell of this Halloween anthology!


Eye Candy is a compilation of stories from some of my favorite authors and their series. I specifically wanted to read it to find out what was next for the Fallen Crest, Alabama Summers, and Shacking Up peeps. I have written a quick mini review for each book below and rated them separately.

Fallen Crest Nightmare – 4 stars

This started out like any other Fallen Crest High book. I loved getting to know what all of my favorite characters were up to, and having Sam as the narrator. Then, this book took a crazy Halloween filled trip. I liked it, but it was crazy! It left me wanting more of these characters! I didn’t realize how much I missed them!

So Much More – 5 stars

This was a super cute Halloween catch up with all of my favorite characters from Alabama Summers. Each chapter was dedicated to a different couple in the male’s point of view. I loved knowing where they were in life now. My favorite was little Noah’s, though. So stinking adorable!!! Now, I’m ready for the next full length book!

Getting Down – 5 stars

I had forgotten what a kick I got out of Ruby and Bancroft. Those two are so funny together! What I really loved about this short story was getting Ruby’s best friend Amie’s perspective on her relationship with Armstrong. That guy is such a dork. I’m really hoping there’s a book coming about Amie and possibly a new suitor. Anyway. I loved this Halloween filled story based on Shacking Up characters.

Unsafe Haven – 3 stars

This was a sweet but suspenseful Halloween tale. I loved shy Jade and Oliver. The were so perfect for each other. I loved them both of them worked at a business that was set up to help those in need. Their Halloween was a little terrifying, though! I wish I would have read books about these characters before because I didn’t feel as connected to them.

The Pumpkin Was Stuffed – 4 Stars

This short story was over the top hilarious! I couldn’t believe the crazy characters in this it. I loved all the Halloween goodies throughout the story. If this was based on characters from a previous book, I need to read it!!! I loved Noel and Sam. I want to know how they began.

Overall, Eye Candy was an incredibly fun Halloween read, and a great way to catch up with some old book friends.

Review: After Ever Happy by Anna Todd

After Ever Happy
Series: After, #4
Author: Anna Todd
Publication Date: February 24, 2015
Publisher: Gallery Books
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, New Adult

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Tessa and Hardin have defied all the odds, but will their fairy tale ending be turned on its head? AFTER EVER HAPPY…Life will never be the same. #HESSA

It’s never been all rainbows and sunshine for Tessa and Hardin, but each new challenge they’ve faced has only made their passionate bond stronger and stronger. But when a revelation about the past shakes Hardin’s inpenetrable façade to the core—and then Tessa suffers a tragedy—will they stick together again, or be torn apart?

As the shocking truth about each of their families emerges, it’s clear the two lovers are not so different from each other. Tessa is no longer the sweet, simple, good girl she was when she met Hardin—any more than he is the cruel, moody boy she fell so hard for. Tessa understands all the troubling emotions brewing beneath Hardin’s exterior, and she knows she’s the only one who can calm him when he erupts. He needs her.

But the more layers of his past come to light, the darker he grows, and the harder he pushes Tessa—and everyone else in his life—away. Tessa’s not sure if she really can save him—not without sacrificing herself. She refuses to go down without a fight. But who is she fighting for—Hardin or herself?


I liked this book. I can’t believe I’m saying that after my feelings for the previous books in this series. The only thing that’s kept me reading is Anna Todd’s knack for creating cliffhangers that I can’t resist. I’ve hated Tessa and Hardin’s abusive relationship for so long. I honestly can’t believe After Ever Happy had me changing my tune. I actually wanted Tessa and Hardin together in this book! Say what?

I wish Anna Todd would have written this book sooner in the series. After Ever Happy had everything I have wanted from this series in it. Tessa, Hardin and their relationship went places I wish they would have gone a lot sooner. If this somehow had been the second book in the series, things would have been so much better for me!

Tessa finally got a clue. She realized what everyone has known about her relationship with Hardin from the moment they met. I was proud of the growth she made in this book. Tessa finally made the changes she needed to make to change the cycle of her life. The changes Tessa made forced Hardin to confront his faults.

Hardin… Another thing I can’t believe I’m saying, but Hardin wowed me. He redeemed himself in ways I thought would never happen. Hardin did everything in his power to make himself a better person. He won me over, and I would have never ever expected that to happen. I have hated him for so long that I can’t even understand how I can love him now, but I do. Well, just in this book.

Tessa and Hardin’s relationship came full circle in After Ever Happy. It was just as drama filled as the rest of the series, but the drama felt less crazy and more productive. Everything that happened was for a reason and pushed Tessa and Hardin to the place they needed to be. Nothing felt completely unnecessary. (Well, except for Zed. He’s always unnecessary in my book). I was surprised at how much angst I felt, and how I longed for Tessa and Hardin to reach a happy place.

My only big complaint is that the last 25% of this books had way too many time jumps. I felt like an important time frame was skipped in the first two year jump. I liked some of the other jumps, but overall I was left with a lot of questions.

I’m happy I kept reading this series because this book was its salvation in my eyes. It dealt with Tessa and Hardin’s abusive relationship in a more positive way, and was able to show how long it can take to change an unhealthy pattern. I also have to say that Anna Todd’s writing has grown so much from the beginning to the end of this series. I am happy to say that I am finally excited to read more of her books. (Yes, that means I’ll be reading Before and Landon’s books.)

Review: After We Fell by Anna Todd

After We Fell
Series: After
Author: Anna Todd
Publication Date: December 30, 2014
Publisher: Gallery Books
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, New Adult

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Synopsis:

Tessa and Hardin’s love was complicated before. Now it’s more confusing than ever. AFTER WE FELL…Life will never be the same. #HESSA

Just as Tessa makes the biggest decision of her life, everything changes. Revelations about first her family, and then Hardin’s, throw everything they knew before in doubt and makes their hard-won future together more difficult to claim.

Tessa’s life begins to come unglued. Nothing is what she thought it was. Not her friends. Not her family. The one person she should be able to rely on, Hardin, is furious when he discovers the massive secret she’s been keeping. And rather than being understanding, he turns to sabotage.

Tessa knows Hardin loves her and will do anything to protect her, but there’s a difference between loving someone and being able to have them in your life. This cycle of jealousy, unpredictable anger, and forgiveness is exhausting. She’s never felt so intensely for anyone, so exhilarated by someone’s kiss—but is the irrepressible heat between her and Hardin worth all the drama? Love used to be enough to hold them together. But if Tessa follows her heart now, will it be…the end?


In my review for After We Collided (After, #2), I said I didn’t want to continue this series but would because I had to know what crazy stuff Anna Todd could possibly come up with in the rest of the series. I couldn’t think of any crazier situations than she had already written. I mean, how much drama can one couple go through. Evidently, a lot because After We Fell continued the crazy.

Tessa and Hardin’s relationship continued to go through constant emotional upheaval. Their relationship sprung to abusive heights that disgusted me. I have said it in my previous reviews and I’ll say it again, Hardin needs psychological help. He is one messed up jerk. (And that’s putting it lightly.) Anna Todd gives us all these reasons why Hardin is the way he is, but it’s no excuse for how he treats Tessa. I was proud that he came to a couple of realizations in this book, but it didn’t rehabilitate him at all.

I was proud of Tessa a few times in this book. She’s began to realize things as well, and she did a better job of sticking up for herself. Tessa made some good decisions, but she has given Hardin too many chances. I still wish she would find a true knight in shining armor who wouldn’t treat her the way Hardin does. I was happy that she finally understood that Zed wasn’t her friend and how she ended up handling it.

There were several surprises in this book. Most I saw coming, but a couple shocked me. I was left wondering how Tessa and Hardin could know so many horrible people. I don’t think I’ve met this many horrible people in my lifetime. Maybe I have. I could be wrong. I just want to know where all the normal people are in their lives? Well, I guess they do have Landon, Karen and Kimberly.

I hate to say it, but I think the After series is starting to grow on me. Well, parts of it are at least. I know the series won’t end how I want it to, but I can curious to see how it all wraps up. So, yes, I will be reading the other books in this series.

Review: Beast by Elizabeth Reyes

Beast
Series: Boyle Heights, #2
Author: Elizabeth Reyes
Publication Date: August 4, 2017
Genre: Romance, Suspense, Contemporary, New Adult

Purchase Now:
Amazon

Goodreads

Synopsis:

She holds the power to tame the Beast . . .

or unleash him if he lets her in.

This close to turning his life around and just months away from the end of his probation, all Leo has to do is keep his inner demons in check.

But the Beast within is about to be reawakened.

One interview was all it was supposed to be. An interview with the daunting felon in the work-release program that leaves Allison breathless with anticipation for their next encounter.

Despite the risks of becoming involved, neither is able to fight the inexplicable draw they’re feeling.

Life keeps throwing them back together until the fateful night they stop fighting the inevitable and give into their desires. Suddenly, Leo has even more to look forward to in his new life.

Until his violent past catches up to him.

With the stakes infinitely higher now that Allison may also be at risk, the dormant Beast deep inside Leo threatens to unleash, ruining all the progress he’s made—worst of all any future with Allison.

My Review:

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Note: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an unbiased review.

I have to admit that I wasn’t sure if Beast was going to be a book I would enjoy. Ali wasn’t one of my favorite characters when I read Lila (Boyle Heights, #1). I wasn’t fond of the disregard Ali had for her own safety in that book. Beast did a very good job of making me like and understand Ali. It overlapped the time frame of Lila and gave me new insight of Ali’s motivations and her falling for Beast.

Ali is one of the softest female character Reyes has written. She was young and sweet. Her insecurities about her body made her very easy to relate to. Ali was timid when it came to men, but also wasn’t afraid to go after what she wanted. It made her relationship with Beast pretty perfect. Beast was the typical Elizabeth Reyes alpha male. He was hard, older, and reluctant to corrupt Ali. He knew the most important thing was to keep Ali safe. I loved how their relationship built throughout the book, and developed into something really special.

I’m not a big romantic suspense fan, but I enjoyed the suspense created in Beast. It wasn’t over the top. It gradually increased throughout the book. Some of the twists in the story I expected, some caught me off guard. I liked how everything played out in the end. It wasn’t what I was expecting. That was a good thing.

Beast was a great addition to the Boyle Heights series. It had almost everything I want from an Elizabeth Reyes romance. (I did kind of miss a kick ass female character.) Beast was a fun read, and it made me excited for the next book in the series.

If you like diverse characters, alpha males, strong women and lots of fun drama, I highly recommend Beast or any other of Elizabeth Reyes’ novels.

Excerpt:

Reaching the room in question, Leo walked over to the car parked in front of the window and pretended to fumble with invisible keys at the door. He glanced up and saw the two figures move about in the room. That was when he got a glimpse of the other person—a much shorter person—who had long hair. There was a light on in the background possibly to the bathroom or hallway just outside the bathroom. The long-haired person’s body moved just so it was silhouetted by the light.

If Leo hadn’t been so obsessed with that ass and those curves he may not have been so sure it was her. The buzzing in his ears began even as he started toward the door, but only grew louder when both figures moved onto the bed. Fuck knocking. As soon as he was close enough, he kicked the door with the bottom of his foot as hard as he could. “Allison, you in there?”

Reviews: Checkmate: This is War / Checkmate: This is Love by Kennedy Fox

Checkmate: This is War
Series: Travis & Viola, #1
Author: Kennedy Fox
Publication Date: October 3, 2016
Publisher: Kennedy Fox Books LLC
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, New Adult

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Synopsis:

*An enemies to lovers romance*

Travis King is the worst kind of asshole.
He taunts me for being a good girl and mocks my high standards.
He’s cruel, crass, and has enough confidence to last two lifetimes.
And I hate him.

It wouldn’t matter so much if he were avoidable.

But considering he’s my older brother’s best friend and roommate, I see him more than I’d ever want to.

His sculpted abs and gorgeous eyes are a waste on such an egotistical man, which makes me hate him even more.

Even though I’ve had a crush on him since I was ten, the feelings weren’t mutual and he’s always made that very clear.

He’s always loved getting under my skin and one night against my better judgment, I let him in my bed.

I’ve succumbed to his manwhore ways, but that doesn’t change a thing.

Because the King is about to get played at his own game—and lose.

Checkmate.


Last month, I subscribed to The Bookworm Box. In my box was Kennedy Fox’s Checkmate: This is War. I was excited because this enemies to lovers story sounded right up my alley. It pretty much was.

Checkmate: This is War was incredibly well written. I could feel the hatred and longing rolling off the pages of this book. The banter was extremely witty and sexy. It fit well with the characters and their personalities. I was so happy this book was written in first person dual point of view because I’m not sure I would have liked either character if I hadn’t gotten in their heads. They were both a lot a little crazy.

Viola was your standard nerdy academic. She loved school, books and Harry Potter. She wasn’t completely nerdy, though. Viola was hotter than she knew. All the guys were dying to get a piece of her. (Kind of cliché, but it worked.) Luckily, her older cop brother could keep them away. I loved her cheeky attitude and the fire with which she hated to love Travis. I just wish there had more behind her hate of him. When I finally found out why she hated him, I hate to say it, I thought it was a little lame. It made her seem immature.

Travis was a cocky womanizer. He wasn’t nice. He wasn’t sweet. Honestly, there wasn’t really much to like about him other than his relationship with Viola. He had horrible extracurricular activities (if you know what I mean). Even though they were setting up the story, they weren’t that fun to read when I wanted him with Viola. He was way hotter with Viola.

Viola and Travis’ chemistry was so far off the charts. Heck, I could only imagine how uncomfortable she was after all their nights together. He put her body through the ringer. It was fun to read, but Viola was probably singing Ariana Grande’s Side to Side when she was walking to class.

Even though this book wasn’t exactly perfect in every way, I still enjoyed reading it. I flew through it. The cliffhanger ending left me wanting more and ensured that I immediately downloaded book two to read.


Checkmate: This is Love
Series: Travis & Viola, #2
Author: Kennedy Fox
Publication Date: December 13, 2016
Publisher: Kennedy Fox Books LLC
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, New Adult

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Synopis:

Viola Fisher is the epitome of perfection.
She despises my one-night stands and mocks my less-than-classy habits.
She’s smart, beautiful, and too good to be true.
And I want her.

If she were anyone else, I’d have made my move years ago, but considering she’s my best friend’s little sister, she’s always been off-limits. Not to mention how much she loathes my very existence.

Hating me is her religion, but needing her is mine. Her sexy curves and filthy smart mouth make me want her even more, and I’m more determined than ever to change her mind.

I’ll prove I’m done playing games.
But until then, we’ll continue to play by her rules.
Viola Fisher may have won the battle, but the war isn’t over yet.

Checkmate, princess.


Checkmate: This is Love was full of so much drama! I couldn’t even believe where the cliffhanger led! There were so many crazy surprises waiting in this book. I didn’t expect half the things that took place.

I was way more invested in Travis and Viola’s relationship in this book than I was while reading the first book. That’s because once Travis became a one woman man, he was dedicated to Viola. I was amazed at how loving he was towards her. Their relationship developed into this really cute and sexy thing. I didn’t expect it to be so sweet. They still had their friction filled banter, but there was a noticeable tenderness between them.

Travis wasn’t the only one who surprised me. Viola completely shocked me a couple of times. I wasn’t expecting some of the choices she made. They frustrated me a bit, and I didn’t think they were fair. I guess they did make the story more interesting, though.

The secondary characters really shined in Checkmate: This is Love. Kayla and Courtney were such good friends to Viola. Courtney was hilarious, too. I loved her unnoticed obsession with Drew. He was so cute and clueless.  If I didn’t already know these characters were getting books of their own, I would be begging for them.

Overall, Checkmate: This is Love was a good conclusion to Travis and Viola’s story. Their relationship grew and changed throughout this book, and I loved where they ended up.

Review: Dear Agony by Georgia Cates

Dear Agony
Author: Georgia Cates
Publication Date: March 1, 2017
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, New Adult
Note: I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Synopsis:

Dear Agony,

You’ve been my shadow, following me through childhood—filling my days and nights with terror and uncertainty. You cleverly disguised yourself as some form of pain or suffering as I grew into a young woman. We were unwavering companions … until I severed our ties.

I traded homelessness on the streets of New Orleans for a luxurious bed covered by the finest linens.
I traded dumpster diving for dinner in the finest restaurants.
I traded myself to a stranger—Bastien Pascal.

I have a good life within my platonic and mutually beneficial companionship with Bash.
He’s my friend. My mentor. My roommate.
Until everything changes.

I’m not supposed to get goosebumps when his hand brushes my skin.
I’m not supposed to be eager for his soothing touch following one of my nightmares.
I’m not supposed to think about what might happen if I reached out to him in the darkness.

Falling in love with him? Preposterous . . . unavoidable.

Agony, why are you back with a vengeance to rob me of this life I’ve come to love so dearly?

I’m finally happy. Don’t ruin this for me.

Always yours,
Rose

In this epic love story, Dear Agony forges a connection between an unlikely pair—a beautiful rose entwined in barbed wire and a shipwreck sinking into the darkest depths of the ocean. This agonizing romantic novel poses some gut-wrenching questions: What does a woman do when the man she loves is planning his own demise? And how far will she go to give him something to live for?


In Dear Agony, Rose is plucked from the streets of New Orleans by a woman who wishes to transform her from a homeless performer to an elegant companion. No longer hungry and dirty, Rose learns all she needs to know to survive in the posh world new world she’s entering. She thinks she is prepared for the man she will work for, but Rose wasn’t expecting Bastien Pascal. He’s successful, confident, nice, good looking and a whole lot younger than she expected. Living and spending time with Bastien won’t be hard, but not acting on her attraction to him will be. Rose’s feelings toward Bastien are complicated, and they’ll become even more complicated when Bastien’s secret is exposed.

When I started Dear Agony I wasn’t sure how I felt about the whole paid companion story line. My thoughts mirrored Rose’s. I just didn’t think the men the women worked for wouldn’t expect sex. It made me slightly uncomfortable for some reason. The minute I met Bastien, my thoughts changed. His reason behind hiring Rose was not what I was expecting.

I loved everything about Rose and Bastien’s relationship. Their attraction was instant, but the relationship grew over time. Roe and Bastien knew every good and bad thing about each other. They had a lot of battles to fight against each other and together. Their love story was truly a journey. Moments of it reminded me slightly of Jojo Moyes’ Me Before You. Dear Agony was its own story, but it gave me some of the same feelings at times.

Dear Agony was a beautifully written and emotional story. It brought tears to my eyes. Readers who like emotionally deep romances will love this book.