Series Review: Between the Lines (Tammara Webber)

Once again, I’m working on my backlist. Between the Lines is a series I’ve wanted to read since I fell in love with Tammara Webber’s Contours of the Heart series. I was excited to finally get around to reading it. Here are my thoughts on each of the four books in the series.


Between the Lines (#1) ★ ★ ★

I didn’t love this book, but I didn’t dislike it either. Between the Lines is told in two perspectives. The first was Emma’s. She was an almost eighteen year old who was cast in a movie along side Reid, one of the hottest young stars of the moment. I liked Emma a lot. She seemed like a teenager trying to figure life out. The other perspective was Reid’s. I hated Reid. He was a tool and a jerk. It was really hard reading his thoughts and choices. He is what made me not love this book — along with the fact that there is a third player in this story. Emma also has a developing “friendship” with another actor names Graham that makes a love triangle out of this book. As this book comes to an end, big secrets are exposed and the triangle is sorted out. I’m glad it didn’t leave me hanging. In the end, this one felt a big set up for the rest of the series to me. I am going to keep reading because I’m curious and have the rest of the books.

Where You Are (#2) – ★ ★ ★

The Reid – Emma – Graham triangle continues! Well, it becomes a love square as Brooke jumps in on the action and increases the drama. I still hated Reid, but he did do one thing I respected. I loved Emma. Graham turned out to be a total sweetheart. Brooke…I loved her last book, but now I feel as good about her as I do Reid. Where you Are was a wild ride.

Good for You (#3) ★ ★ ★

I really, really didn’t want a book about Reid falling in love. I mean, the guy is a total turd. I didn’t want it to be a woman who changed him because that wouldn’t be real life. I wanted him to change himself. That being said, I liked who Reid became. He grew up. It was refreshing to see him come to some conclusions about himself. Dori was okay. I liked all the stuff she had to go through.

Here Without You (#4) ★ ★ ★ ★

This, in my opinion, was the best book of the series. Everything came full circle for the remaining cast of characters. I loved how it was done. I also really loved how Tammara Webber wrote River. This ended up being an interesting celebrity coming of age series. It’s worth a read if you’re a fan of the author.

Review: The Last Letter by Rebecca Yarros

The Last Letter
Author: Rebecca Yarros
Publication Date: February 26, 2018
Publisher: Entangled: Amara
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Fiction
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Beckett,

If you’re reading this, well, you know the last-letter drill. You made it. I didn’t. Get off the guilt train, because I know if there was any chance you could have saved me, you would have.

I need one thing from you: get out of the army and get to Telluride.

My little sister Ella’s raising the twins alone. She’s too independent and won’t accept help easily, but she has lost our grandmother, our parents, and now me. It’s too much for anyone to endure. It’s not fair.

And here’s the kicker: there’s something else you don’t know that’s tearing her family apart. She’s going to need help.

So if I’m gone, that means I can’t be there for Ella. I can’t help them through this. But you can. So I’m begging you, as my best friend, go take care of my sister, my family.

Please don’t make her go through it alone.

Ryan


So…I have found another favorite new-to-me author. Rebecca Yarros has me wanting to go back and read her backlist like now because The Last Letter was so, so good. I can’t even begin to do it justice with this review, so I am going to bullet point my likes and dislikes.

What I liked:

  • The letters. They start out each chapter and are perfectly tailored to the story and how it evolves.
  • The writing. It caught my attention from the beginning and never let go. Like I said above, Rebeca Yarros is new to me and I instantly connected to the way she puts words together. Every sentence is packed with emotion.
  • The plot. I won’t go into it too much, but it’s way more than what you read in that blurb. It was the perfect mixture or heartwarming and heartbreaking. Every moment had a purpose.
  • Ella’s children were so darn cute. Colt and Maisie were twins and their bond was too special. They also added something extra sweet to Ella and Beckett’s relationship.
  • Beckett Gentry. He had his moments of stupidity, but I loved his character.
  • I could go on and on, but I have to stop listing things because I would just give away the entire story.

What I disliked:

  • I didn’t connect as much as I would have liked to with Ella. I understood her reasoning for the way she acted, but her trust issues were almost too much for me at times. Especially towards the end.
  • Beckett’s moments of stupidity when he kept keeping that dang secret.
  • An event toward the end. I can’t say what it is, but I was sad the story went there. I get it, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

Overall, The Last Letter was a really great book. It was a romance, but it was more than just a romance. It was a touching story about family, love, war, and life. Despite my few dislikes, I thought it was brilliant.

Review: Best Laid Plans by L.K. Farlow

Best Laid Plans
Author: L.K. Farlow
Publication Date: October 16, 2018
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance, Fiction

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

The summer before my senior year of high school I had only one goal: to make Alden Warner see me as more than his best friend’s annoying little sister.

Finally, my wish came true and he noticed me. In a big way. Too bad that the next morning he had no memory of our night together, leaving me heartbroken, and as I later discovered…pregnant.

For the last four years, I’ve been rocking the single mom thing, making sure my daughter comes first. In fact, everything is going fine—until Alden storms back into my life, as my new boss.

His reappearance wasn’t something I planned for. Add my nosy, meddlesome three-year-old and an overprotective brother, and I’m obviously in way over my head.

My only hope now is that I can sway Alden to see things my way…but you know what they say about the best laid plans…


I’m fairly new to L.K. Farlow’s books. Best Laid Plans is only the second book by I have read of hers, yet I already know Farlow is an author I’m going to be spending a lot more time with. For some reason, the first thing that pops in my head when I think of how to describe her writing is that it flows well. That really doesn’t adequately describe it. It’s fun and romantic. It’s also emotional without being too angsty. When I start reading one of her books, I don’t want to stop. The two I’ve read have just been so much fun!

Best Laid Plans is an accidental/surprise pregnancy mixed with older brother’s best friend love story. Natalie and Alden have a drunken teenage hook up that results in pregnancy. When Natalie finds out she’s pregnant, she makes the tough decision not to tell Alden for multiple reasons. Four years later, Alden’s back in town and he is ready to make a move on the one girl he couldn’t have growing up. Natalie loves the attention Alden’s giving her, but she knows things might change when she tells him who Tatum’s father is.

I really liked how the accidental pregnancy and reveal to Alden was handled in Best Laid Plans. It was easy to understand how hard Natalie’s decision had been for her and how well thought out her choices were. I also thought the way Alden responded was perfect. There wasn’t instant forgiveness, but their was acceptance. It was how I imagine real life might be in this situation. I also loved how it all worked out.

For those of you who like reading about single parents and young children in a romance, you would love this book! Tatum is so stinking adorable. She was sweet, sassy, and her comments made me smile so much. I love when the children in a love story make it that much sweeter.

The only small hole in the story for me was how no one in Natalie’s family even suspected that Alden could be Tatum’s father. That didn’t make sense to me because Tatum supposedly resembled Alden more than she did Natalie. I think there might have been a hint of suspicion since Alden had been Nate’s friend since childhood.

Overall, Best Laid Plans was a great romance novel with a lot of heart. I can’t wait to read more from this author.

Review: Big Stick by Kelly Jamieson

Big Stick
Series: Aces Hockey, #7
Author: Kelly Jamieson
Publication Date: October 23, 2018
Publisher: Loveswept
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Fiction, Sports
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

A brooding hockey hunk learns to embrace life—and love—from a single mom who takes the world one puck at a time.

Big move . . . Jodie’s motto is “Don’t wait for the perfect moment – take the moment and make it perfect.” And that’s just what she decides to do when she moves to Chicago with her two-year-old daughter. Now all Jodie needs is a place to live, and her best friend’s boyfriend has just the answer.

Big stick . . . Nick Balachov has zero interest in socializing, partying, or flirting right now. It’s not that he doesn’t like women. He loves them. It’s just that hockey, casual hookups, and hanging out at home are enough for him these days. Now Nick has a big problem – because the woman living in his empty coach house is a major distraction.

Big deal? The more Nick tries to keep his distance, the more Jodie needs him – around the house, that is. First he helps with the snowstorm, then the power outage. Nick even finds himself trying to impress her little girl. What the hell is wrong with him? Jodie represents everything Nick doesn’t want. But maybe she’s just what he needs. . . .


Big Stick is the seventh book in Kelly Jamieson’s Aces Hockey series. This time it’s Nick’s time to shine. When Nick and Jodie meet at his buddy Hallsy’s party, neither is particularly impressed with each other. Jodie’s too talkative for Nick, and Nick’s too grumpy for Jodie. When Hallsy asks Nick to help Jodie out by letting her and her daughter stay in his coach house, he isn’t exactly ecstatic about his new neighbors. Slowly, as he gets to know Jodie and Zyana, his feelings start to change.

It was so great to be back in the Aces Hockey world. Kelly Jamieson’s writing is always impressive. I’m not one for third person point of view, but somehow she writes it so that I don’t even notice it! I love how she makes what could be a light and fluffy romance a little deeper and more emotional. Her characters in Big Stick were special ones.

I adored Nick’s character. He was a grouchy grump and it came across cute in this story — especially with Jodie’s daughter Zyana. He thought he was mean and nasty, but he was actually a gentle giant. I liked how both Jodie and Zyana brought that out in Nick. Nick had his issues, but in general he was a great guy.

What made this book cool in my eyes was Jodie. She was a smart, independent woman who went after what she wanted. She owned a successful business and was a single mother. Jodie had her family with Zyana (I’m still not sure how to pronounce that one!) and was content. She didn’t need a man in her life, but she wouldn’t mind finding a partner in life. I liked her attitude about romance and her relationship with Nick. It was refreshing.

I can’t leave out Zyana. Zyana was a doll in only way young children can be. She was sassy, smart, and a total nightmare at times. I loved the part she played in Jodie and Nick’s romance. It was so sweet! I did have a couple of questions about her abilities, though. I think it was mentioned that she was 2 years old at one point. She seemed older than that to me. I would have guessed 3 or maybe even 4 years old. Maybe I’m just forgetting how toddlers act or maybe Zyana was ahead of the curve. I don’t know. I just remember being a little shocked at how young she was.

If you’re a fan of hockey romances and have yet to read one of Kelly Jamieson’s, you’re missing out. She’s a fantastic writer who creates strong characters with a lot of heart. Her stories are easy to fall in love with. Big Stick was one those.

Review: Can’t Text This by Teagan Hunter

Can’t Text This
Author: Teagan Hunter
Publication Date: October 11, 2018
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance, Fiction
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

“Hi Monty. Wanna see my python?”

That’s how I ended up in the bathroom of some dive bar with a stranger.

Me, Monty Andrews, the quintessential virgin girl next door.

I was so out of my element, but there was no denying our explosive attraction, even via text.

Commence Operation Bang Each Other Out of Our Systems, because that was all it was—unfinished business.

I had no intention of falling back into the sheets with the tattooed, muscly, dirty-in-the-best-kind-of-way single dad over and over again…but I did.

Everything was going great—until we discovered I was his son’s teacher.


Everything I’ve been reading lately has been intense, dark, or emotional. I had been looking for the perfect fluffy love story and hadn’t been able to find the one to lighten my mood — or at least I hadn’t until I picked up Can’t Text This.

Can’t Text This is was so much fun! Robbie and Monty couldn’t be more different. He’s covered in tattoos and swears. She’s prim and proper. Robbie is all about textual innuendos and Monty’s curious but also apprehensive. It’s all fun and games until they fall for each other.

I absolutely loved everything about Can’t Text This. It was so adorable! The banter, whether over text or in person, was hilarious. The things these two came up with to text and talk about made me laugh so much. Robbie and Monty were just so cute. Their relationship had ups and downs, but they weren’t ones that broke me. They were ones that were easily resolved and added to the entertainment value.

Oh, I can’t leave out Xavier! Robbie’s relationship with his son was so sweet. I loved how he parented and how his friends had a part in Xavier’s life. I also liked how Robbie’s ex was dealt with. It made my heart so happy!

As you can tell from this glowing review, I really enjoyed Can’t Text This. It was the perfect contemporary romance to get me out of an emotional book slump. I loved it, and I really hope Teagan Hunter will continue on with this texting series. Maybe a book for Denver? I would read that!

If you’re into fun and fluffy romances, I would definitely recommend picking up Can’t Text This. It’s a standalone, but it has two related novels with several recurring characters. You don’t have to read Let’s Get Textual or I Wanna Text You Up before Can’t Text This. The only reason I would recommend reading them first is so that you don’t miss out on all the fun of those two books. Teagan Hunter does an amazing job hooking readers with hilarious text messages and then making them fall in love with her characters. It’s fun to see the characters again in each book.

Can’t Text This just went live, and it is available to read for FREE in KindleUnlimited. Check out some teasers for the book below.

Read it for FREE in KindleUnlimited!
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Buy it in PAPERBACK

 

Other standalones in this series:

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Read for FREE on KindleUnlimited

AUTHOR INFORMATION:

TEAGAN HUNTER is a Missouri-raised gal, but currently lives in North Carolina with her US Marine husband, where she spends her days begging him for a cat. She survives off coffee, pizza, and sarcasm. When she’s not writing, you can find her binge-watching various TV shows, especially Supernatural and One Tree Hill. She enjoys cold weather, buys more paperbacks than she’ll ever read, and never says no to brownies. For more information, please visit www.teaganhunterwrites.com.

AUTHOR LINKS:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram | Book + Main | Facebook Page | Goodreads

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Review: Sleepover by Serena Bell

Sleepover
Author: Serena Bell
Publication Date: November 13, 2018
Publisher: Loveswept
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Fiction
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Elle and Sawyer just look so happy. Which is, of course, exactly how they end up.

But it’s not an easy trip.

It was just supposed to be once.

It was just supposed to be sex.

But now they’re next-door neighbors. And before they can put up their fences—or defenses—their eight-year-old sons have forged an unstoppable friendship.

They’re still reeling—Elle, from a Facebook message she was never supposed to see, Sawyer, from the kind of death it’s hard to live through. A relationship seems like a terrible idea. So they make a deal. One more blazing hot night, at Elle’s ex-husband’s wedding.

You know, because the “just once” thing has worked out so well for them …


You want to know the question I asked myself the minute I finished reading Sleepover? Why haven’t I read more of Serena Bell’s books? I’ve only read one other of her books and I absolutely loved it. I felt the same way about Sleepover. It was

charming,
delightful,
darling,
clever,
amusing.

I could go on and on with words that described what a good book this was. I cherished every moment I read it. I loved the story line.

Sleepover is the story of two single parents falling in love unexpectedly for the second time in their lives. Elle is a newly divorced mother who doesn’t know if she’ll ever find a man who will love her the most. Sawyer is a stoic single father who lost his wife a couple of years ago. Elle and Sawyer randomly met in a bar outside of town a few months ago and spent one night together. They never planned on repeating that night. A wrench is thrown in their plans when Sawyer and his son move in next door to Elle and her son. Sawyer and Elle are both slightly uneasy about the situation, but their sons have found the best friends they have always wanted. Soon Sawyer and Elle are spending way more time with each other than they ever planned.

Oh my goodness. This has to be one of the sweetest second chance at love stories I have ever read.Their first connection might have been a bit x-rated of hook up, but the rest of their story was one of bonding, friendship, and love.

I loved Elle and Sawyer.These people had lived through some tough times. Elle had her pride and self-confidence knocked. Sawyer had decided he would never love another woman again. It was so nice to read about two adults taking the time to get to know and care about each other. They built each other back up again.

Another amazing thing about this book was the children. Madden and Jonah added so much to this story. Their friendship was that instant connection that lasts forever. I loved how they helped bring their parents together. Like I said before, so sweet!

Obviously, Sleepover was a book I more than enjoyed. It had everything I love in a contemporary romance. I highly recommend it.

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: Hold You Close by Melanie Harlow & Corinne Michaels

BT.jpg

Hold You Close
Authors: Melanie Harlow, Corinne Michaels
Publication Date: August 20, 2018
Publisher: Love & Olives Inc, LLC
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Fiction
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

From NYT Bestseller Corinne Michaels & USA Today Bestseller Melanie Harlow, comes a second chance standalone romance.

Ian Chase broke my heart at seventeen, and I’ve spent the last eighteen years hating him for it.

He makes it easy, with his smart mouth and playboy lifestyle—which I unfortunately have to observe since he lives behind me. Every time I see him climbing out of his pool, practically naked and unreasonably sexy, my blood boils.

I’ve always loved to loathe him.

I never planned to need him.

***

London Parish is my little sister’s best friend, not that it stopped me from falling for her.

Our history is complicated. The only thing we have in common is being godparents to my sister’s three adorable kids—until our lives are changed in one tragic moment.

Now we’re trying to raise the children we love, mourn an unthinkable loss, and fight an undeniable attraction.

My life is already upside-down, and the last thing I need is for old feelings to resurface.

Because I’ll never be able to keep her, no matter how hard I try to hold her close.


Co-authoring books seems to be all the rage lately, and it’s something I have really enjoyed experiencing. It’s fun to see how two authors whose books I enjoy reading compliment each other. I don’t think I have found a mashup that hasn’t worked for me yet. The pairing of Melanie Harlow and Corinne Michaels’ writing was one I enjoyed. Their writing together felt like one author. I’ve only really read one book by Harlow, but I’ve read several by Michaels and it felt true to her style of writing.

Hold You Close is a second chance romance between London and Ian. London is Ian’s little sister’s best friend. They had a disastrous relationship (if you can call it that) when London was seventeen. Ten years have passed and they’re now enemies who bicker whenever they’re in the same room. When Ian’s sister dies, London and Ian are left to pick up the pieces and care for her children. It’s won’t be easy, but London and Ian will have to learn to get along — for the sake of the children.

While I enjoyed the combined writing of Harlow and Michaels, Hold You Close started out a little rough for me. I had a hard time with the transition from the prologue to the rest of the book. It wasn’t easy for me to connect those young characters to the adult ones. I felt like I was missing some big moments and decisions. I needed to experience how their relationship grew into this loathsome bickering thing. I mean, I understood why London would hate Ian. I just needed to know more how their relationship evolved. I got to know a little of that as the story went on, but it would have been more helpful for me to get more of their younger year interactions after the big blow up.

Once I let go of the missing piece I wanted, I ended up really enjoying Hold You Close. The angry banter between Ian and London turned fiery quickly. I loved how they had to make changes to their lives for the kids’ sake and how that changed them personally and their relationship. I adored the children and their cute additions to the story. Overall, it ended up being a very sweet and fun romance to read.

HoldYouClose_FullCover_Final_LoRes

Check out an EXCERPT from Hold You Close:

“Ian,” my bartender, Toby, calls with his hand out.

“What’s up?”

“You have a call.” He pushes the phone toward me.

No one calls the club for me other than vendors, and it’s eleven-thirty at night, so whoever it is can wait.

“I have to deal with something now, send them to my voicemail.”

He shakes his head. “She’s called three times.” The annoyance in his voice is clear, even over the music.

She?

The only woman that would resort to calling the club is my ex-wife. God only knows what bullshit she wants now. For all I know she broke a nail, it’s my fault, and she thinks I should pay for her new manicure, or a hand replacement. She’s like the gift you’ve tried to return but can’t find the receipt for, so you’re stuck with it. I hate unwanted presents, and I hate Jolene.

“Send the devil to my voicemail,” I say and walk away.

I head out to the sidewalk. Drea wasn’t kidding, the line is nuts. “Hello, Officer,” I say to the pudgy cop standing next to the bouncer.

“Mr. Chase, we’re getting complaints,” he says, looking down the sidewalk at the line.

“I can’t help that we’re popular.” I shrug. “I’m at capacity, and can’t kick out the paying customers to take care of the line.”

“You’re obstructing the entrances of other businesses because of the way your overflow lines are set up.”

How the hell would they like me to handle it? We’re not inside the casino, there’s no way to control the line. I’m not about to turn away people when we hit the number ten. This is a business, and part of the free marketing I get is thanks to the line.

“All right, I’ll figure something out.” I grip the back of my neck.

I feel my phone vibrate in my pocket. If this is Jolene, I swear to God, I might lose my fucking mind.

The name flashes across the screen, London Parish. For fuck’s sake. Like I need to deal with my sister’s uptight, irritating best friend right now. London would be incredibly hot if she wasn’t such a raging bitch. I look at my call log and see this is the third time she’s called.

I walk down the strip a little, and after a few deep breaths, I call her back.

“Ian, you need to come to my house.”

I smirk. “Well, this is a first. Did you have the stick removed from your ass?”

“Don’t. Not today, please. Just come here.” I hear her sniff and my protectiveness kicks in. Someone made her cry. We don’t get along at all—partly because we’re polar opposites and partly because of our history—but no one gets to make her cry.

“Are you hurt?” I ask.

“Not in the way you think.” Her voice hitches.

I’ve known London for twenty-five years. I can count on one hand how many times I’ve seen or heard her cry—I was the reason one of those times.

“What’s wrong? Is it an emergency? Because I’m at work and the club—”

“Now, Ian. You need to come here now.”

She also doesn’t play games.

Fuck.

I look at my watch and blow a deep breath through my nose. It’ll take me at least thirty minutes to get there. This is seriously a shitty night. “I’ll be there as soon as I can.”

“Just . . . hurry,” London says and hangs up.

Dread pulls at my stomach, telling me there’s something going on. I don’t know what, but I know I need to get there.

“Get rid of the line, no more get in,” I tell the bouncer, and then head inside.

Drea is at the bar, and my anxiety is starting to grow. London needs me there, why? What happened? Did someone break into her house? Mine? Maybe it has to do with an ex, if she even has one, or it could be nothing like that. Regardless, her voice was shaky and I can’t waste time wondering.

“I have to go,” I tell Drea.

Her eyes widen. “Go? Go where? It’s a packed house.”

“I’m aware of that, but something came up. I need you to handle things tonight.” I turn to Toby. “Stay until Drea is done closing and I want you to escort her to her car at the end of the night.”

He nods.

I never let her walk out of here alone. Even if I have someone coming home with me, Drea’s not going to be unescorted. Too many men get the wrong impression because she’s nice to them. Over my dead body will she be hurt as a result of working at my club.

After I get in the car, my mind is racing. I drive faster than I should, telling myself that London is just being dramatic.

And then I remember . . . she has my nephew and nieces at her house.

My foot pushes down on the pedal of my Jaguar, making the engine howl with each mile. I turn into the development where we both live, pass my house, and head to hers. I still hate that our backyards touch. Every damn day I see her sitting out on her deck, reading her books, looking down at me with her disapproving attitude.

When I get there, the flashing lights of a police car brighten the road. I don’t think. I don’t know if I even put the car in park before I’m out of the vehicle.

“London!” I yell as I rush through the door. “Christopher? Morgan? Ruby?” I call out for the kids, praying it’s not one of them.

When I get to the living room, I release a heavy sigh—they’re all there, not hurt.

Then I see the tears streaming down Morgan’s face. London gets to her feet. Her eyes are red, puffy, and black mascara runs down her cheeks. “Ian.” She chokes on my name.

“What’s wrong? What happened?”

The girls start to cry again, and my nephew pulls them into his arms.

London moves toward me, placing her hand on my chest. “They’re gone.”

“Who?” I ask, confused.

“Sabrina and David,” she whispers.

Yeah, they went on a trip. Why the hell are they crying? “This is what you called me for? They’ll be home in a few days. Why are you crying too?” I ask.

Her green eyes meet mine and her lips part. “No.” She shakes her head. “They won’t.”

I look over at the kids again, and then to the muted television. My feet move closer, because I have to be sure the words flashing across the screen say what I think they say. “Flight 1184 crashes off the coast of Hawaii. Three hundred missing and presumed dead.”

My sister was going to Hawaii.

My sister is gone.

I sink to my knees in front of the kids, unsure what to say. They just lost their parents, and my heart is breaking. My sister was my best friend. She was the one who pushed me to open Veil and do what I wanted. I’ve always had her support, and now she’s gone.

Christopher lifts his head, his brown eyes filled with unshed tears. “They’ll find them,” he says with conviction.

“Okay,” I reply. We both know it’s a lie, but it’s one he has to tell himself. I remember being fifteen; there was no telling me I was wrong.

“Dad wouldn’t . . .” he starts, and then stops as his lip quivers.

My own tears start to fall, as Morgan grabs my hand. “What do we do now?”

I have no fucking clue. How do I tell these kids how to survive? I’m the last person in the world equipped to give this advice. I look to London. Her hand touches my shoulder and she wipes the tears that fall silently down her cheeks.

“We hold each other close,” she says.

HoldYouClose-AN

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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: The Hardest Fall by Ella Maise

The Hardest Fall
Author: Ella Maise
Publication Date: April 18, 2018
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance, Sports

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

The first time you meet someone, you make eye contact. You smile, say hello. Should be simple, if you’re anyone but me. The first time I met Dylan Reed, I found myself making eye contact with a different part of his body. You see, I’m very good at being shy, not to mention extremely well-versed in rambling nonsense and, unfortunately, rather highly skilled at making a fool of myself in front of a guy I’m attracted to.

At the time, I knew nothing about him and thought none of what I said would matter since I’d never speak to him again. Turns out, I was very wrong. He was the star wide receiver of the football team, one of the few players expected to make it into the NFL, and I ended up seeing him all over campus.
I might have also propositioned him, run away from him, attacked him with a cooking utensil…and…uh, maybe I shouldn’t tell you all of it. It’s pretty normal stuff, things you’d expect…from me. Eventually, the time came when I couldn’t hide anymore—not that he’d have let me even if I tried.
Before now, he never knew I was secretly watching him. Now that we see each other every day, he knows when I have a hard time looking away. It doesn’t help that I’m not the most subtle person in the world either.

He smiles at me and tells me he finds me fascinating because of my quirks. I can’t even tell him that I think my heart beats differently whenever he’s around.

He thinks we’re going to be best friends. I think I have a big thing for him, and the more I get to know him, the more I don’t care that I’m not allowed to be his friend, let alone fall for him.

The thing is, that’s exactly what I’m doing—what we’re doing, I think.

Falling.

Hard.


The Hardest Fall has been on my to-read list since it was released back in April. I loved the cover and the blurb. It seemed like a book right up my alley. Knowing it was from the author who also wrote two books I really enjoyed, To Love Jason Thorn and To Hate Adam Connor, made me that much more excited to finally get to read it.

I adored Zoe and Dylan. Zoe was this shy, quirky girl who was embarrassed by just about everything. Seeing her through Dylan’s eyes made me love her more than I already did. Dylan was a refreshing take on the college football star. He was a nice guy who was into monogamy. You don’t see that often in new adult romances. I liked that he was a decent human being from the get go. I also liked what a hard worker he was.

Zoe and Dylan’s relationship was so sweet! It was a slow burn romance in all of the best ways. I got to see their relationship revolve from acquaintances to friends to more in a time that felt real and not rushed. That’s another thing you don’t find often in new adult romances. What I really loved about their relationship was how they treated each other.

Another thing I loved about this book were the other relationships in it. Zoe had some strong friendships and they created some special, memorable moments. Dylan also had great friendships with his team that were spotlighted. All of the supporting characters strengthened Zoe and Dylan separately and together. It was cool.

The Hardest Fall surpassed my expectations. It surprised me with its twists and turns. I wasn’t expecting them! To be honest, Zoe’s secret had me a little stressed out! I was worried things were headed in a direction I wouldn’t like. Ella Maise took this book from average to exceptional with her plot line. It kept me on my toes! I highly recommend reading it if you’re a fan of sports, new adult, or college romances. It was an incredibly well written book.