Review: America’s Sweetheart by Jessica Lemmon

America’s Sweetheart
Series: Real Love, #5
Author: Jessica Lemmon
Publication Date: October 2, 2018
Publisher: Loveswept
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Fiction
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Old flames burn bright. When a disgraced starlet returns home to lick her wounds, she discovers that her high school sweetheart is just as tempting as ever.

“No one writes big-hearted bad boys like Jessica Lemmon!”—New York Times bestselling author Lori Foster

Allison: When I left for California, I gave myself a new name and never looked back. Now my carefully crafted good-girl image is getting torn to shreds in the press thanks to my Oscar-winning A-hole of an ex-boyfriend. So I escape to the only safe haven I know and trust—my hometown—to take a breather while I plot my triumphant Hollywood comeback. However, when I arrive at my parents’ house, Jackson Burke answers the door instead. And suddenly the past comes rushing back. . . .

Jackson: First kiss. First time. First love. Yep, Allison Murphy and I shared a lot of firsts back in the day. When she left, she took half my heart with her. Now she’s back in town, and even though I swore I’d keep my distance, her parents hired me to remodel their house, and I’m going to finish the job. But one hot kiss later, suddenly the press is calling us the next big celebrity couple. Sure, I’ll play the part, for Allison’s sake—but I refuse to let her close enough to break my heart all over again. . . .


I have mixed feelings about America’s Sweetheart. I’m not sure I agree with the structure of this book. It started out in Jackson’s point of view. I loved Jackson. He was a totally normal, nice guy. He made his dreams a reality with the exception of losing “the one” back in college. Jackson loved his small town life, and he made me love it, too. I felt bad for him that he lost Allie and still hadn’t quite been able to move on from her. When she showed up back in town, I was excited for Jackson and what it could mean. I loved how he handled everything and his part in this book. What I didn’t love was Allie’s personality.

I didn’t like what I met of Allie through Jackson’s perspective. She actually seemed like a pretty horrible person. I know that’s because I didn’t know her side of the story. She didn’t have a POV at fist. All of her actions really bugged me. It made me wonder how Jackson could still be so attracted to her. I hated her. Then, half way into the book, bam! Her point of view shows up. It threw me off guard because there wasn’t a heading or anything letting me know of the change. As I got to know and understand her, I understood she was just as weary and hurt as Jackson. I liked what she learned about herself after returning home. I still wasn’t 100% sold on her, but I felt better about Jackson’s feelings for her than I had during his POV…until I didn’t again. The way she messed with Jackson’s feelings and was constantly acting was messed up. Her priorities were never straight. Once they were, I was over her.

To sum it up, I loved Jackson. I liked his relationship with Allie when she wasn’t being Nina. I never truly connected with Allie nor did I end up liking her. The only thing that might have made this one better me was if Allie’s POV had been mixed in with Jackson’s at the beginning. Maybe then she would have seemed like she had more heart or something. If it wasn’t for Jackson, I wouldn’t have liked this book at all. That makes me sad because I’m a fan of Jessica Lemmon’s writing.

Review: Stacking the Deck by C.L. Collier

Stacking the Deck
Series: Discovering Us, #1
Author: C.L. Collier
Publication Date: August 27, 2018
Publisher: C.L. Collier LLC
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Fiction
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Brooke:
I’m convinced happily ever after is a myth. Discovering my husband’s secrets has given me no choice but to take my daughter and start over. Unfortunately, that means living with my parents again. Just when I think life has stacked the deck against me, I run into Ryan. It’s been over a decade, but old feelings quickly reignite. The chemistry between Ryan and me is undeniable, and I’m left wondering if this is the way things were always meant to be.

Ryan:
After being a Marine for fourteen years, I move home to start a business with my brother. The last person I expect to walk through the door is the woman I let go. She’s the one I’ve never forgotten, and thoughts of her kept me going all these years. Now I have the chance to prove my worth to her, but will the odds be stacked against us?


Stacking the Deck is the first book in C.L. Collier’s new Discovering Us series. It’s a second chance romance between high school sweethearts, Brooke and Ryan. They haven’t seen each other since they broke up ten years ago when Brooke went to college and Ryan went to the Marines. Each went their separate ways. Brooke ended up married and had a baby. Ryan spent all those years traveling with the Marine’s. After an unexpected betrayal, Brooke has divorced and moved home to live with her parents. Ryan has also recently returned home to open a gym with his brother. When Brooke and Ryan run into each other for the first time in years, neither of them can deny the spark is still there between them.

This the fourth book C.L. Collier has written and it’s the fourth book of hers I’ve read. With each book I have enjoyed seeing her writing grow and blossom. Each book has been better than the last. I really enjoyed Stacking the Deck. The story felt real, like one that could be happening to someone I know.

Brooke and Ryan were great characters. Brooke was a strong woman. I was surprised by how she wasn’t mopey. Her life had exploded, and while she was upset about it, she was determined to make the best of things. I liked how positive her character felt. She took things at her own pace and did what was right for herself and her daughter. Ryan was a winner. He was basically perfect. Ryan had a few flaws, but they weren’t anything that couldn’t be overlooked. I especially loved how Ryan bonded with Brooke’s daughter. I loved what a great support system he was for Brooke and how he wanted to do things right by her and Ellie.  Brooke and Ryan truly had something special together. I could feel the spark they shared.

This book wasn’t just a romance, though. It’s also the story of Brooke coming to terms with her ex-husbands unexpected betrayal and learning to move on. I liked the ups and downs she went through on her journey of reclaiming her life. I actually would have liked to see more of those moments. I am still curious about what went on between the prologue and the first chapter. I was interested in how she got through the tougher times. To go deeper into this, there were times Brooke was telling the reader about something going on or something she went through and it would have been higher impact for the reader if she was experiencing it in the story rather than telling about it. That is probably more a personal reading preferences than anything. I like to experience all the emotional stuff with a character while reading.

Overall, I truly enjoyed reading Stacking the Deck. It was a fun, sweet second chance romance involving high school sweethearts.

Review: Big Stick by R.C. Stephens

Big Stick
Author: R.C. Stephens
Publication Date: September 17, 2018
Publisher: Entangled Publishing LLC
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Fiction, New Adult, Sports
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Hockey is my life. And it’s a great one. There’s an endless line of women, and I get to hang with my best friend Oli. Everything is perfect until she shows up. Oli’s twin sister, Flynn…hates my guts. I don’t blame her. I’m part of one of the worst nights of her life.

Now she’s next door and seeing her every day is killing me slowly. I wonder if we can ever get back to being friends. The way she looks at me sometimes, well, let’s just say my hockey stick isn’t the only thing that’s feeling hard these days.

But if she finds out the secrets I’m keeping, forgiveness will be the last thing on her mind.


Big Stick is one of those books that caught my eye by the title and cover — but for reasons you wouldn’t think. It wasn’t the half-naked man or what “big stick” could possibly be. I am a sports romances. Hockey romances are usually very well done. I learn a little more about the sport each time and get to fall in love with (normally) a cute couple. So when I saw the title Big Stick and the hockey stick, I clicked “request” on NetGalley. I’m really glad I did.

Big Stick was not just a hockey romance. It was also a second chance romance between childhood best friends. Flynn was a tomboy growing up. She hung out with her twin brother, Oli, and their best friend Myles constantly. As she got older, Flynn developed a major crush on Myles. Their friendship was dramatically severed in high school, and Flynn has been avoiding Myles for years. That all changes when Flynn is forced to move in next door to Myles.

I’m fairly new to R.C. Stephens writing. I enjoyed it a lot. It was fast-paced and easy to relate to. I appreciated that she included dual points of view. That gave me a good look into what her characters were thinking and feeling.

Myles and Flynn were fun characters. I liked the dynamic they had going on. They had great chemistry. It wasn’t quite a hate to love thing, but close. Flynn feelings were all over the place, and I loved her hesitation to renew her friendship with Myles. Myles desperately wanted to have Flynn’s friendship and possibly more back, and wasn’t going to let everything that happened in the past keep him from her anymore. It was sweet and frustrating in the best way to watch them dance around each other.

I had one problem with Big Stick. It was so over dramatic at times. Some heavy stuff had happened to Myles and Flynn. I got that and I understood why their relationship was they way it was. What I didn’t quite get was the reaction Flynn had to Myles’ big secret. Honestly, I was shocked at how affected Flynn was by it at this point. It just seemed like she was reacting to the same thing over and over again even though it wasn’t exactly the same. That was really just a small part of this story, though. It didn’t take away my enjoyment of Flynn and Myles’ story.

The weird thing about Big Stick was my favorite thing about it. I adored Flynn’s best friend and brother. They kind of stole the show for me. I actually found myself more interested in them than Myles and Flynn by the end of the book. I’m really hoping there’s going to be a second book about them. Sign me up to read that one now!

Overall, Big Stick was a great contemporary sports romance. Fans of that genre are sure to enjoy this book.

Review: Richer Than Sin by Meghan March

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

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

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

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

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


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

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

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

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

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About the Author:

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

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Review: 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: Always Been You by Sadie Allen

Always Been You  
by Sadie Allen
Cedar Lake Series, Book 1
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Design: Oh So Novel
Release Date: July 19, 2018
Synopsis
Emma Taylor ran away from home in a cloud of dust, taking the pieces of her broken heart with her. Fifteen years later, she is back to care for her grieving father and to face the boy who once broke her heart. 
Brazos Huntswell was dealt a bad hand. Life hasn’t turned out the way he envisioned it in high school. He’s a single father to a moody teenage girl and trying to make a go of the cattle ranch his father left him.
Trouble is brewing in the town of Cedar Lake, and people are turning up dead. Will Braz and Emma be able to weather the coming storm and take a chance on forever? Or will a ghost from the past destroy that chance… permanently?
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Review:

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

My thoughts are a little jumbled for Always Been You. I really enjoyed Sadie Allen’s writing, but there was something that didn’t work for me. I’m not sure how to explain it, but I’ll do my best.

I would categorize Always Been You as a romantic suspense novel. There was a second chance love story between the main characters, Emma and Braz. There was also a murder mystery happening in their small town of Cedar Creek. I liked both aspects, but they also distracted from each other.

Emma and Braz were great characters. I liked them individually. They each had a lot going on in their own lives. Emma was a teacher and was encouraging her father to live again after losing her mother. Braz was a rancher and single father. I loved their relationships with their families. It was the best part of the book. I especially loved Braz’s relationship with sky.

As for Emma and Braz together… I didn’t connect with their relationship. I have a hard time believing second chance love stories where the characters pined for each other for years and years without seeing each other. It doesn’t feel natural to me. I understand having that regret or person in the back of the mind at times, but I don’t get not moving on. Emma more so in this aspect than Braz. What made it even harder for me was their reconnection felt like instant love. I didn’t feel like I ever really got to see them get to know each other as adults with the amount of time they spent together. I wasn’t sold on their love. I think I could have been if their relationship was the main focus of the book.

As for the murder mystery, I liked that. I am not always a big fan of romantic suspense, but the suspense part worked for me. I could kind of see what was coming, but it was still exciting. My only complaint with this part was that there wasn’t a complete conclusion — probably because there is already a book two in the works.

I hate that this review sounds negative. I actually did enjoy reading Always Been You. I wanted to know what was going on with the murders and how things would work out for Emma and Braz. I still do. I will definitely read the second book to find out what else is to come in Cedar Creek.

 
About the Author
 
 
Sadie Allen lives in Texas with her husband and three young children. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, catching up on her favorite shows, or chasing her family around the house.
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Mini Reviews: Salt to the Sea & More Than Word

Salt to the Sea
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Narrators: Jorgeana Marie, Will Damron, Cassandra Morris, Michael Crouch
Publication Date: February 2, 2016
Publisher: Random House
Genre: Historical Fiction, Young Adult

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

The author of Between Shades of Gray returns to WWII in this epic novel that shines a light on one of the war’s most devastating yet unknown tragedies.

In 1945, World War II is drawing to a close in East Prussia, and thousands of refugees are on a desperate trek toward freedom, almost all of them with something to hide. Among them are Joana, Emilia, and Florian, whose paths converge en route to the ship that promises salvation, the Wilhelm Gustloff. Forced by circumstance to unite, the three find their strength, courage, and trust in each other tested with each step closer toward safety.

Just when it seems freedom is within their grasp, tragedy strikes. Not country, nor culture, nor status matter as all ten thousand people aboard must fight for the same thing: survival.

Told in alternating points of view, and perfect for fans of Anthony Doerr’s Pulitzer Prize-winning , Erik Larson’s critically acclaimed #1 New York Times bestseller Dead Wake, and Elizabeth Wein’s Printz Honor Book Code Name Verity, this masterful work of historical fiction is inspired by the real-life tragedy that was the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff–the greatest maritime disaster in history. As she did in Between Shades of Gray,, Ruta Sepetys unearths a shockingly little-known casualty of a gruesome war, and proves that humanity can prevail, even in the darkest of hours.

Review:

Salt to the Sea is my first Ruta Sepetys novel. I was so very impressed by it. It was such a heartbreaking, beautiful story. I loved the way it switched back and forth between the characters. The way their sad stories intertwined was special. I truly loved listening to the way the narrators brought life to the story. Whether you read or listen to this book, you’re in for an amazing book.


More Than Words
Author: Mia Sheridan
Publication Date: June 12, 2018
Publisher: Forever
Genre: Contemporary Romance, New Adult
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

The moment she met Callen Hayes, eleven-year-old Jessica Creswell knew he was a broken prince. Her prince. They became each other’s refuge, a safe and magical place far from their troubled lives. Until the day Callen kissed herJessica’s first real, dreamy kiss—and then disappeared from her life without a word.

Years later, everyone knows who Callen Hayes is. Famous composer. Infamous bad boy. What no one knows is that Callen’s music is now locked deep inside, trapped behind his own inner demons. It’s only when he withdraws to France to drink his way through the darkness that Callen stumbles into the one person who makes the music return. Jessica. His Jessie. And she still tastes of fresh, sweet innocence . . . even as she sets his blood on fire.

But they don’t belong in each other’s worlds anymore. There are too many mistakes. Too many secrets. Too many lies. All they have is that instinctive longing, that need—and something that looks dangerously like love.

Review:

Years ago, I read Archer’s Voice. That book broke me. I have several other of Mia Sheridan’s books, but have yet to read them. I guess I’ve been scared of the emotional impact. I decided to brave her writing again with More Than Words. There were several things I loved about this book. That initial connection between Jessie and Callie was so sweet. I loved that fate brought them back together, and that they got more than one chance to be together. I also loved how Jessie’s job and her interpretations paralleled with her relationship with Callen. The only thing I wasn’t a big fan of was Callen’s womanizing and drinking. I guess I’m just over that in romances right now. It made it harder for me to emotionally connect to Jessie and Callen’s relationship. Other than, I enjoyed reading More Than Words.

Review: Love Songs & Other Lies by Jessica Pennington

Love Songs & Other Lies
Author: Jessica Pennington
Publication Date: April 24, 2018
Publisher: Tor Teen
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ 

Synopsis:

It’s summer romance and second chances, the songs that stay in your head, and the boy you’ll never forget.

Two years after rock-song-worthy heartbreak, Virginia Miller is looking forward to a fun, carefree summer. Her friends just landed a spot on a battling bands reality show, and Vee is joining them for her dream internship on tour. Three months with future rockstars seems like an epic summer plan. Until she learns she’ll also be sharing the bus with Cam. Her first love, and her first heartbreak. Now Vee has more than just cameras to dodge, and Cam’s determination to win her forgiveness is causing TMZ-worthy problems for both of them. With cameras rolling, she’ll have to decide if her favorite breakup anthem deserves a new ending. And if she’s brave enough to expose her own secrets to keep Cam’s under wraps.


Every so often I read a tweet or blog post by someone wanting a young adult novel set in college. Love Songs & Other Lies might just fit the bill for those people. It’s set in two different time periods. The present is the summer after Vee and Cameron’s freshman year in college when they are 19 years old. Vee has been conned into touring with Cameron and the rest of her friends in the band. That wouldn’t be so horrible if Vee and Cameron hadn’t had a rocky break up a couple of years ago. The second is when they’re seniors in high school. That part is the story of how Vee and Cam got together and then fell apart. The mix of these two ages give the book a not quite YA but also not quite NA feeling. It’s actually a really great mix of the two genres.

It’s not very often you get a second chance romance in YA. Normally, there’s several a break up spanning several years before the characters get back together. I like that Vee and Cam didn’t have to wait that long. Both of Vee and Cam’s love stories were good. I liked getting to know how their relationship began, ended, and then began again. I also liked their individual back stories and how it affected their relationship. They were great characters.

I only had one problem with it all. The story started out great. I was instantly drawn into Vee and Cam’s lives. I was invested in their characters within a short period of time — in the present. I liked what was happening in the past, but I got frustrated with how slowly that part unraveled. What it comes down to is that Love Stories & Other Lies didn’t give me what happened in the past quickly enough for me to know why I should want Cam and Vee together. Their original love story was still unfolding — way too slowly and almost boring. I needed to know what the problem was so that I could root for them to get back together.

Once everything was out in the open, I was back to being entranced with the story. I loved the last third of the book. I felt like I was back in my YA summer contemporary happy place. I could forgive the moments of boredom in the middle because everything turned out exactly right. I gave it 4 stars because by the time I finished reading it, I was in love with Love Songs & Other Lies. 

Review: Making Up by Lucy Parker

Making Up
Series: London Celebrities, #3
Author: Lucy Parker
Publication Date: May 28, 2018
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Author of Act Like It and Pretty Face Lucy Parker returns readers to the West End, where it’s fireworks onstage and off in a sexy enemies-to-lovers showdown.

Once upon a time, circus artist Trix Lane was the best around. Her spark vanished with her confidence, though, and reclaiming either has proved…difficult. So when the star of The Festival of Masks is nixed and Trix is unexpectedly thrust into the spotlight, it’s exactly the push she needs. But the joy over her sudden elevation in status is cut short by a new hire on the makeup team.

Leo Magasiva: disgraced wizard of special effects. He of the beautiful voice and impressive beard. Complete dickhead and—in an unexpected twist—an enragingly good kisser.

To Leo, something about Trix is…different. Lovely. Beautiful, even though the pint-size, pink-haired former bane of his existence still spends most of her waking hours working to annoy him. They’ve barely been able to spend two minutes together for years, and now he can’t get enough of her. On stage. At home. In his bed.

When it comes to commitment, Trix has been there, done that, never wants to do it again. Leo’s this close to the job of a lifetime, which would take him away from London—and from Trix. Their past is a constant barrier between them.

It seems hopeless.

Utterly impossible.

And yet…


Making Up is my first Lucy Parker book. My blogger friends Nick, Ari, and Cristina have all been raving about this series, so I jumped on the chance to try it out with this book. I’m very happy I did.

I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about the circus aspect of Making Up. It’s not a setting I’m normally drawn to. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I loved it. It was so different from the romance settings I normally read, and I really enjoyed that. Trix’s and Leo’s jobs were so interesting and fun to read about.

Not only did I love the setting, but I loved the characters. Trix was this fiery little sprite, but her self-confidence had been beaten down. The anxiety and self-doubt she experienced were easy to relate to. The emotional journey she went through in Making Up was an important one I think many readers will identify with. Leo had the confidence Trix was missing and more. He had his own problems, but they weren’t as challenging as Trix’s seemed. I loved how he supported Trix and helped her deal with the emotional challenges she was facing.

My favorite thing about this book was the second chance romance. Trix and Leo had a tumultuous past. They had different ideas of what created the hostility between them, and how they figured things out for the future was fun. I loved their hostile banter, but I loved it even more once it took on a sweeter manner.

I haven’t read any of the previous books in the series, so I didn’t have too many thoughts on the characters who made appearances from them. I was interested in them enough to want to go back and read their books, though. I hope I’ll get a chance to do that in the future.

The one teeny tiny complaint I have about Making Up is the third person narration. Third person always takes me a while to get used to. It’s just harder to make the transitions between characters when reading. The third person didn’t really bother me much, but I feel like I would have loved the story even more if it had been in first person.

I’m so happy that I finally got the chance to read one of Lucy Parker’s book. I really liked her writing. Like I said above, I’m hoping to get to read more of it in the future.

Mini Reviews: Playing Hurt, My Way Back to You

Playing Hurt
Series: Aces Hockey, #6
Author: Kelly Jamieson
Publication Date: July 17, 2018
Publisher: Loveswept
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Sports
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

He’s playing hurt. She’s laying low. And they’re both flirting with disaster.
 
“Kelly Jamieson is my go-to author for hockey romance.”—Jami Davenport
 
Chase: The last thing I’d ever want to do is let my team down. After overcoming my bad-boy reputation, I was dominating on the ice. But things aren’t going so well this season, and even my parents think I’m partying again. Now I’m really worried about my career. The only bright spot in my life is the Twitter flirtation I’ve struck up with pop princess Jordyn Banks. Turns out she’s a huge hockey fan—and she’s willing to wager a date on her favorite team. . . .

Jordyn: Even though I’m an L.A. fan now, I’ve always had a soft spot for the Aces, since I grew up in Chicago. Then I lose a bet to Chase Hartman, and suddenly I’m up close and personal with a pro athlete who’s anything but soft. Not only is Chase the hottest guy I’ve ever met, he’s secretly super sweet. As if I had time for a relationship . . . yeah, right. But when I suddenly have nothing but time on my hands, he’s the only one who understands. Now, with both of our careers at stake, Chase is tempting me to put my heart on the line too.

Review:

Playing Hurt is my new favorite Kelly Jamieson book! I absolutely loved how Jordyn and Chase’s interactions started over Twitter. Their flirting was cute and funny. I could imagine a real relationship starting between two celebrities exactly this way! It was so much fun! Once they actually meet in real life, the story gets even better. Chase and Jordyn really had to work to make their relationship work with the spotlight on them. It wasn’t easy. I enjoyed how each had their own struggles and things to deal with. Their growth individually made their relationship stronger. I loved how it all played out. Playing Hurt was truly a delight to read.


My Way Back to You
Series: Second Chances Duet, #2
Author: Claire Contreras
Publication Date: March 15, 2018
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Book 2 in the Second Chance Duet . . .

Love isn’t always about timing.
Sometimes you have to throw caution to the wind and roll with it.

I admit I wasn’t ready.
I know you don’t want to look at me, let alone talk to me, but please, let me explain.
Let me tell you all the ways my heart broke when you walked away.
Let me show you what our years apart have done to me.

Give me a chance to find my way back to you . . .


My Way Back to You begins a while after the cliffhanger from The There Was You. It’s a little disorienting for a couple of chapters figuring out where the story was now, but once I had everything straight I was pulled into the story. I liked it a lot better than the first book. That book was one big set up for this one. I wish they had been one book with some of it condensed down because My Way Back to You was really the fun, meaty part of the entire duet. I really enjoyed reading this one. The only thing that I would have changed in this one was that there should have been more time of anger between Rowan and Tessa. They forgave each other too quickly and easily in my opinion. Still, it was a good read.