Review: Spiked by Jennifer Lane

30165905Spiked
Series: Blocked, #3
Author: Jennifer Lane
Publication Date: October 1, 2016
Publisher: Psyched Publishing
Genre: New Adult, Sports Romance, Political Romance
Note: I received this book from the author in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

They say
University is the time
To find yourself
But I don’t need to find myself
Just want to find you

After watching his older siblings find their love matches at Highbanks University, Mateo Ramirez feels unlikely to follow in their footsteps. What girl would want him? Unlike his brother and sister, he battles diabetes and chooses music over sports. But at least he can write songs about his life—and the girl who caught his eye when their parents ran against each other for US President.

Hey, chica! Come conmigo
And baby, why don’t we go
Down under the bridge to the water
With you it can only get hotter

Jessica Monroe is a talented swimmer who dreams of representing Team USA at the Olympics. When she earns an athletic scholarship to Highbanks, she’s excited to attend the same school as the cute boy she met two years ago: Mateo. Too bad he’s not around when a teammate spikes her drink. Jessica may never trust men again.

Trust
Is a hard-to-earn thing
Just
Try to keep listening

Swallow
Down all of the unjust
Hollow
My chest, my heart will bust

College years are the time to shake off the past and find your future. But will that future find Mateo and Jessica together? Dive in and immerse yourself in the eagerly anticipated conclusion to Jennifer Lane’s Blocked trilogy.


Don’t judge Spiked by its cover.

That’s the first thing that came to my mind when I sat down to write this review. Yes, the shirtless man is what most of us have to come expect when we pick up a new adult romance novel, but Spiked isn’t your normal new adult romance. It’s layered, honest and complicated.

Jennifer Lane’s writing was stellar. Her knowledge of psychology and politics continued to shine in the newest addition to the Blocked series. Spiked was the fastest paced book in the series. There weren’t as many political situations to complicate the story. The focus of Spiked was Jessica and Mateo’s struggles and how they build and shape their relationship. I loved this change.

It’s easy to guess from the blurb that Jessica is raped. I don’t think I’m spoiling the story by putting that out there. What I loved about Jessica’s story is the way the entire rape situation was handled. It was done in a matter that felt real and honest. Jessica’s suffering after the incident was what would be expected. What wasn’t was the way Jennifer Lane dealt with it. I’ve read several books with rape in them recently. Spiked is the only one that dealt with the therapy aspect of overcoming the horrible experience. I loved that because I was able to get a feel for how Jessica was able to slowly recover.

Mateo’s story was also an important one. It put a spotlight on being a young person with diabetes. Mateo struggles with his illness was very relatable. I loved his thoughts and feelings about what getting an insulin pump meant to him. I also loved the way he responded to any political question. Mateo felt like a man who wanted to make his own decisions and not let his parents shape his decisions.

Their personal struggles were enormous in Spiked, but Jessica and Mateo’s relationship was simple. I really enjoyed how their relationship grew over time from attraction and friendship to love. The support they gave to each other was so sweet. Their relationship just felt so natural. Spiked cemented Mateo and Jessica as my favorite Blocked series couple.

Overall, I truly enjoyed reading Spiked. It was such a deep new adult read. I was so caught up in Jessica and Mateo’s love story that I was sad when it ended. I would have loved to have known more about the progression of their relationship.

Review: Aced By Jennifer Lane

25916281Aced
Series: Blocked, #2
Author: Jennifer Lane
Publication Date: December 2, 2015
Publisher: Psyched Publishing
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance, Sports Romance, Political Fiction
Note: I received this book from the author in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Synopsis:

Volleyball wonder Lucia Ramirez found her love match in Blocked despite the glaring political spotlight aimed on her family. In Aced, the second book in Jennifer Lane’s Blocked series, it could be her brother Alejandro’s turn to get lucky in love.

Medical student Alejandro’s hot Latin looks get him plenty of attention, but his deep faith and admiration for his father keep him on a righteous path, with no time for something as frivolous as love. He strives to do the right thing—study diligently, take care of his siblings, represent the family well—so why does he feel so unfulfilled?

Enter Lucia’s friend and teammate Maddie Brooks, who shines at blocking the ball and acing the serve. Too bad this graduating senior isn’t so confident about her life off the court. Her longtime boyfriend has just bailed on her, and med school applications loom large. Oh, and a nerve-wracking tryout for Team USA also approaches.

Maddie meets Alejandro when he visits Lucia at school, and she’s soon drawn to his sharp mind. Alejandro is similarly intrigued by Maddie’s talent and strength. But will personal biases and family politics smother the slow burn of their attraction? Unless Maddie can learn to believe in herself, and Alejandro can become his own man, their kindling romance hardly stands a chance.

Will either of them be bold enough to try something new? Find out in this emotion-rich story that refuses to shy away from life’s hardest questions. Because love is worth the risk.


Almost a year ago I read and reviewed Jennifer Lane’s Blocked. It was different from any other sports romance I had read before. Blocked was a forbidden romance filled with not just sports, but politics and psychology. I enjoyed the way the author weaved all these different elements together, so when the opportunity arose to read Aced I was excited to see what was going to happen next in the Blocked world.

Aced begins right where Blocked left off. (For those of you who read Blocked, we get to find out who won the race!) This time, we get Lucia’s brother Alejandro’s story. He’s a med school student, a devout Catholic and a Republican. Alex had strong views on how he and others should live their lives and he isn’t afraid to share them. His views are challenged when he meets Lucia’s volleyball teammate Maddie, whose beliefs do mirror his.

Maddie may dominate on the court, but she’s also on the med school track. Lately, Maddie’s life has been drifting out of control. First, her boyfriend broke up with her. Then she begins to feel the pressure of getting good grades and making the national volleyball team. It’s more than she can handle. The only bright spot is Alejandro.

Maddie and Alejandro know there’s a spark between them, but they can’t deny how different they are. They’ll have to decide if their differences outweigh the possibilities of a beautiful relationship.

Aced continued Blocked‘s tradition in being a well written, complex romance novel. There were so many different aspects to this book. This slow-burn romance combined love, sports, psychology, religion, social issues, and politics all into one story. (Pretty amazing, right?) While I enjoyed everything it touched on, I do have to admit that I got overwhelmed with how many different things were going on at times. Everything was very relevant to today’s society, but I was more interested in Maddie and Alex’s developing relationship.

Maddie was an excellent female main character. She was physically strong, smart and a genuinely nice person. The only thing slowing her down was her emotional stability. It had been compromised by several events in her life and she was having a hard time dealing. I really appreciated the way Jennifer Lane used her psychology background to write about Maddie’s issues. She created a way to deliver important information and advice to her readers. There were so many great things for young women (and men) to learn from Maddie’s story.

Alex wasn’t my favorite character to start off with. His dedication to his parents’ beliefs was a little tough for me to swallow. As the story went on, I warmed up to him. I loved watching him question and challenge himself. I also loved his relationship with Maddie and the care he took of their relationship. Maddie and Alex’s relationship and the moments they spent together were my favorite parts of Aced.

Another great part of Aced was getting to see how Dane and Lucia’s relationship had evolved. It was really fun to catch up with them and the rest of the supporting characters. I loved what their influence brought to Maddie and Alex’s relationship as well.

Aced was a satisfying addition to the Blocked series. It was filled with sweet moments and thoughtful issues. I enjoyed reading. I’m really excited to see what’s next in for the Ramirez family in Spiked (Blocked, #3). I would highly recommend Aced to romance readers who enjoy stories that examine issues that affect today’s society.

Review: ’89 Walls by Katie Pierson

’89 Walls
Author: 
Katie Pierson
Publication Date: June 5, 2015
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance, Historical Fiction
Note: I received this book from the author via Goodreads in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Synopsis:

College is not in the cards for Seth. He spends his minimum wage on groceries and fakes happiness to distract his mom from the MS they both know will kill her. It’s agony to carry around a frayed love note for a girl who’s both out of his league and beneath his dignity.

Quinn’s finishing high school on top. But that cynical, liberal guy in her social studies class makes her doubt her old assumptions. Challenging the rules now, though, would a) squander her last summer at home, b) antagonize her conservative dad, and c) make her a hypocrite.

Seth and Quinn’s passionate new romance takes them both by surprise. They keep it a secret: it’s too early to make plans and too late not to care. But it’s 1989. As politics suddenly get personal, they find themselves fighting bare-fisted for their beliefs—and each other—in the clear light of day.


’89 Walls is kind of a hard book to review. It’s categorized as YA, but so much of the story screamed adult fiction to me. Maybe I’m wrong, but I think the multitude historical references may be off-putting to some young adults looking for a coming of age contemporary romance. I grew up in the 80’s and even I found myself overwhelmed by the multitude of historical references peppered throughout the book. They set the timeline and political nature of the characters, but distracted from my emotional connection to the story.

That being said, Katie Pierson’s writing is very good. I never would have guessed this was her début novel. I applaud the way she dealt with some very tough political, social and personal issues. She didn’t shy away from anything.

My favorite thing about ’89 Walls were the relationships between all of the characters. Seth and Quinn had a deep connection for a couple of teenagers on the verge of adulthood. I loved that each stood their ground on their beliefs, but were willing to learn, grow and possibly change their minds. Their relationship wasn’t without turmoil, but the outcome of their problems made them stronger together and apart.

The story wasn’t just about Seth and Quinn’s relationship, though. It also focused on their relationships with their respective parents. Both were close to their parents and wanted to make them happy, but it wasn’t always possible. Seth and Quinn were fighting for their adulthood and freedom to make important choices in their lives. I loved they way they discovered how to balance their need for independence with their desires to make their parents proud.

Overall, ’89 Walls was a strong début novel. It’s filled with both political and emotional gems. I think readers who were teenagers in the late 1980’s will love and identify with the story.