Blog Tour Review: Broken Love Story by Natasha Madison

Samantha:

I had the perfect life; a husband who loved me, and two kids who were my world.

Until someone else answered his phone and my perfect life shattered.

When he died, I was left with answers he couldn’t give me and a box full of lies.

He left me broken.

 

Blake:

I fell in love when I was fifteen, knowing she was the one.

For five years, she was my everything—my every breath, every heartbeat, every thought.

She made me promise to move on, promise to find love again, but I broke those promises because I can’t move on.

 

Two broken souls brought together by tragedy and heartbreak.

Can a broken love story be fixed?

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Review:

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

I am a fan of Natasha Madison’s writing, but the Love Story series hasn’t been my favorite of hers. I’m not sure exactly why. It’s filled with great characters, interesting plots, and big emotions. There’s just something I haven’t connected with — until now. Broken Love Story was my favorite of the three books.

What was it about Broken Love Story that made it so good? For starters, there was the fact that the first two books set this one up beautifully. Some of the same events occurred as in the first book, but from a completely different perspective. I didn’t feel like I was re-reading the same book. Samantha and Blake’s story felt fresh and new.

Then, there was the way I connected with the characters in Broken Love Story. I felt a deeper connection to Samantha than I did to Hailey. Her anger made more sense to me than the way Hailey reacted, I guess. I also loved how Samantha’s relationship with Blake came about. It felt natural. Blake was a good guy from the start who wanted to help. There wasn’t any real tension or jerky moments. That was refreshing. I liked how supportive he was. Blake had his own troubles in the past, but they didn’t encroach on the present really, and that made his quick fall for Samantha easier to believe. He was ready for a relationship.

All of the supporting characters were very well written. I adored Samantha’s daughters and Blake’s parents. I hated Eric’s family. The way they all interacted was perfect.

The only thing that kept me from giving this book 5 stars was a shocker near the end. I wasn’t expecting it, and it went a little overboard in my opinion. It was entertaining, though!

Overall, Broken Love Story was a great read. It was an emotional story of healing and fining love again.

Excerpt:

Samantha

Standing in front of the full-length mirror in my room, I smooth down my black skirt. My blond hair is tied up in a ponytail, my cheeks are sunken in more than normal, and the blackness around my eyes indicates I haven’t slept well since this whole thing happened. Since I found out that not only did my husband die, but that he also married someone else.

I sit on the made bed and look down at my wedding band. My thumb of my right hand touches it, and the lone tear that falls out of my eye lands straight on it. “Mommy.” I look back at Lizzie, who is standing in the doorway wearing a black one-piece dress similar to mine with ballerina flats.

My mother-in-law went shopping yesterday and bought us all new outfits for today. “We need to put our best foot forward,” she said as I watched her walk in with the six bags. “We can’t let people talk.”

I turned around and walked out of the room, going upstairs. Shutting myself in my bathroom with my back against the door, I cried quietly, trying to hide my sobs. “We can’t let people talk,” I whispered to myself. The hatred I had begun feeling when I remembered my husband.

Lizzie walks to the side of my bed and sits next to me. “I hate this dress,” she says when I put my hand around her shoulder and bring her to me, kissing her head.

“I know, baby,” I whisper, “but after today, it’s going to be all over.”

“That’s what Grandpa A said.” She mentions the name she calls my father-in-law. Grandpa A because you can’t get better than an A.

“Is everyone ready?” I hear Ethan yell from downstairs. “The limo is picking us up in twenty.”

“Let’s go, baby,” I tell her, getting up and holding her hand while we walk downstairs. My in-laws are both sitting in the kitchen. My mother-in-law in a black skirt and top while my father-in-law has on a black suit. “Where is Daisy?” I ask them.

“Elliot is upstairs changing her. She spilled milk on her dress,” Judy tells me, looking at Lizzie. “You look like such a big girl.” She blinks her tears away.

Elliot comes down the stairs with Daisy on his hip, smiling at me when he walks in. “Okay, you girls go sit in the living room while us grown-ups talk,” my father-in-law says, and the girls both know to leave the room. When he knows they are both out of earshot, he starts. “Today is going to be tough, tough for us all, but we have to stand together. We have to be the family that we are.” I lean against the counter while he talks. “The situation with the other one has been taken care of, and she has been served papers.” I look at him and then at Elliot and Ethan, both of them looking down when our eyes meet. It’s almost as if they feel guilty for meeting this woman. My father-in-law continues, “After all this is done today, we are meeting with the lawyers in person, so we can go over the will, start the paperwork for the insurance, and make sure she doesn’t touch a thing that belongs to him.” I stop listening at this point, turning to look out the window at the backyard.

The swing set that he built in one day to make sure the kids could use it when he left the next day. The patio set he had delivered to us, so I could have somewhere to sit while I watched the girls while he was living with another woman. I shake my head, walking out of the room. I sit on the couch, and the girls come to sit next to me, one on each side. “Today is going to be really hard,” I whisper to them, “but we have to be strong for Daddy.” They both look at me, their eyes exactly like their father’s. “But, if at any time, you need to leave or you need me… I don’t care who is talking to me or who is around; you come and get me.”

“Grandpa A said we had to sit and wait,” Daisy whispers just as Elliot comes into the room and kneels in front of us.

“What is this meeting about?” he asks, smiling at us. The circles around his eyes are just as black as ours. He hasn’t left our house since this happened.

“Mommy said if we need her that we can go to her,” Daisy says, looking at him and then me, “even if Grandpa A said no.”

He leans in, whispering, “You can come to me too, and I’ll make sure that you get Mommy.”

“Okay,” Lizzie and Daisy both whisper at the same time, and then the doorbell rings.

We get up, put our jackets on, and one by one file into the black limo that has come to take us to the funeral home. We arrive before everyone else. “We get an hour with him, and then they will open the door,” Adrian says as Judy grabs her tissue and dabs her eyes.

I look around the funeral home. I’m not sure what I’m looking for, not sure where he is. I haven’t seen him since he kissed me goodbye four days earlier. His last words to me were, “Call you when I can.” That phone call never came.

I follow my in-laws to the big brown door that is closed. “I want to go in before the girls.” Everyone turns to look at me.

“We can keep them in the lobby,” says the lady who greeted us at the door. She told me her name, but I just didn’t listen.

I nod at her as she turns to ask the girls if they want hot chocolate. Daisy’s eyes get big as Lizzie turns to look at me. I nod my head, giving her permission, so she can go with the woman.

The doors open, and I don’t even know what to expect. I’ve never been to a funeral. Never known anyone well enough to pay my last respects. Judy and Adrian walk in first, followed by Ethan, and Elliot waits with me. I step foot into the room, and it’s so cold that I shiver. The smell of flowers hits me right away, making me turn my head. The number of flowers and wreaths shocks me; the whole room is almost full. Some wreaths blocking others. Rows and rows of brown chairs line the room, all facing toward the front of the room. My eyes land on the brown wooden casket at the front of the room. The open half showing you the white satin inside. I walk down the aisle toward him, and then my eyes land on him. Eric. I can’t take another step forward because my knees give out, and I fall. Elliot isn’t fast enough to hold me up, and my knee lands with a thud. But the pain doesn’t matter because nothing could take the place of the pain in my heart. The sound of wailing fills the room as I look up at my dead husband.

I feel arms around me; I feel myself lifted; I feel myself almost floating. He isn’t the Eric who kissed me goodbye; he isn’t the Eric who I made promises to; he isn’t the Eric who made all my dreams come true. This isn’t him.

The man with makeup caked on his face isn’t my Eric. My sobs overtake my body as I look at him, expecting him to open his eyes. Expecting something, anything but this. “I want the casket closed,” I say, my voice soft. “I want it closed.”

“Samantha,” my father-in-law starts, “it’s—”

I shake my head. “I don’t want the kids to see him like that,” I say softly. I know that for me they wouldn’t even consider it, but for the girls, they would move heaven and earth. “They need to remember him alive and smiling, not like that,” I say, pointing at the casket.

“Dad,” Ethan says after me, “I agree.”

“Me too,” Elliot says from beside me. “Close it.”

He just nods at us, then walks to the man standing in the corner. The man looks at him as they have a hushed conversation and then just nods his head. “Do you need some water?” Ethan says to me, and I nod. I don’t bother listening to what else he says; instead, I get up and go to the casket. Standing before the brown box, I look at him, really look at him. You see some bruising under the makeup, and his nose is a little swollen. His hands are folded over his stomach, resting on his black suit. The suit he wore when we got married. Why? I ask him in my own head. Why did you do it? I ask him, hoping I can hear him whisper something to me, whisper anything back. To answer my questions, to give me something; anything to make me understand why he did what he did. Why he left me with so many fucking questions and not one answer.

The man comes over to close the casket. Eric’s face disappears slowly, the shadow filling his face till the casket finally shuts. “I’m sorry for your loss,” the man says, nodding at me. “If at any time you want it open, we can open it back up.” I turn around now, looking at the chairs that will fill up as soon as the people start coming in. Ethan consoles my mother-in-law, and Elliot stands where we were just sitting, his hands in his pockets.

“I’m getting the girls,” I tell them and then walk out with my head held high but my shoulders slumped. Defeated is a word that you use so many times not really understanding what can actually defeat you. I know now, my husband dying, him cheating on me, my kids without a father, my dreams of growing old with him gone. Beaten straight down to my core, straight down to my bones.

I walk over to them as they look up. “Let’s go, girls,” I tell them as they both get up and walk to me. Lizzie takes one hand, Daisy takes the other, and we walk back into the room that holds a piece of our hearts. The room where their father lies, with no answers and no tomorrow.

We stand in that room for four hours while people come up to me and give me their condolences. I nod my head and play the part of the grieving wife. I am the grieving wife, but I’m also the wife whose husband didn’t love her enough to just be with her. The wife who knew her husband was slipping away but couldn’t catch it in time. The wife he said he would love and protect. The wife who stands here between his girls wishing that for one second he suffered horribly. The wife who has to pick up the fucking pieces and lie to her girls about what a great guy he was. The wife who, at the end of the day, just wasn’t good enough.

We listen as people tell us how amazing he was, how much he loved his family, and how much he loved his girls. The whole time, I’m yelling on the inside, ready to stand in the middle of the room, throw my head back, and yell at the top of my lungs. But I don’t do what I want. I don’t tell them what a fraud my husband was. I don’t tell them that it was almost all lies. I don’t tell them that the day he died, they called his other wife and not me. I don’t tell them that I wasn’t the one with him when he died.

I stand here thinking about this other person—his other wife—and wonder how she would handle this. How she would be with my in-laws. Would she just let them control her and do everything for her? Would she want it to be open and weep for him beside the casket instead of standing next to it?

I look around the room at all the people who came to pay their respects, and my eyes find someone I’ve never met before. Someone I’ve never seen before, and our eyes connect. His green eyes stare into mine as I watch him nod to me and turn to walk out. As he walks out of the crowded room, I strain my neck to watch his back. I don’t have long to think because Elliot comes up and whispers, “It’s time.”

When her nose isn’t buried in a book, or her fingers flying across a keyboard writing, she’s in the kitchen creating gourmet meals. You can find her, in four inch heels no less, in the car chauffeuring kids, or possibly with her husband scheduling his business trips. It’s a good thing her characters do what she says, because even her Labrador doesn’t listen to her…
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Review: Nine by Elizabeth Reyes

Nine
Series: Boyle Heights, #3
Author: Elizabeth Reyes
Publication Date: July 1, 2018
Publisher: Elizabeth Reyes
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

After years of gravitating to douchebag players with no more to offer than a wildly good time and zero promises, single mom Drew has graduated to dating a real man. He’s the responsible, mature kind—willing and able. To offer her and her daughter a real future.

Then along comes Nine.

More like a ten, is her first thought when introduced to the tatted-up, foul-mouthed, unapologetic player. The guy might’ve been her kryptonite five years ago.

But she has a child to think about now.

With every new encounter she has with Nine, she begins to realize there’s so much more to him than just good looks and his bad boy image. She sees a vulnerability in him she never expected. Worse yet, he’s sending out vibes that whisper of promises he’s never made to any girl before.

Is she willing to trade in Mr. Perfect for someone who’s one impetuous decision away from proving that her first impression may have been heartbreakingly spot on?


After having spent a little bit of time with Nine and Drew in Beast, I was excited to read their book. Nine was everything I was expecting it to be. It was classic Elizabeth Reyes. It had her signature alpha male and strong female with a plot that kept me reading.

Nine was the typical single man who wasn’t looking for commitment…until he met Drew. She was his game changer. He didn’t know how to show her he was willing to change his ways for her, but Nine was going to do everything he could to convince her. I loved what softie he was under his tough exterior.

Drew was a woman whose heart and mind were at war. She thought she knew what she needed and wanted, but Nine threw a wrench in her plans. I loved her relationship with her daughter and her ex. It was so sweet. I also loved how her attraction to Nine questioned her beliefs.

Nine and Drew’s journey to love wasn’t simple. It was filled with real life situations and problems. I really enjoyed how their story unraveled. If you’re a fan of the Boyle Heights series, you’re going to love seeing Nine and Drew give in to their temptations.

Series Review: Sea Breeze by Abbi Glines

Recently, I did a binge listen to the Sea Breeze series audiobooks. Rather than try to review them separately, I’m going to review them all here.

Breathe (#1): ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

This is exactly the type of book I want to read in the summer. It was a cute rock star romance in a fun, beachy setting. I adored both Sadie and Jax. They were perfect together. It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows, and I liked that. Breathe was a very sweet story.

Because of Low (#2): ★ ★ ★ ★

After meeting Marcus in Breathe, I wanted to see him get is happy ever after. He deserved a nice girl after missing out on Sadie. Low was definitely that girl! I could see exactly how their story was going to play out, but I didn’t mind that. Because of Low was so much fun to read.

While It Lasts (#3): ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

This book was even better than the first two books. I was surprised because Cage wasn’t my favorite person in Because of Low. His womanizing ways disgusted me despite the fact that he was a great friend to Low. What made this book so amazing was Eva. Her story was so heartbreaking and I loved how Cage helped heal her heart.

Just For Now (#4): ★ ★ ★

I have mixed feelings about this one. I liked Preston and Amanda together, but Preston’s choices bugged me. I didn’t like his job and how he put Amanda at risk with it. It was just wrong. I couldn’t get past that.

Sometimes It Lasts (#5): ★ ★ ★ ★ 

I wasn’t prepared for this book. I was in this state of angst from the prologue. I loved Cage and Eva in While It Lasts and I wasn’t ready for them to be torn apart. I hated that, but I loved how everything worked out. Cage and Eva were so perfectly sweet together. I do have to admit that I had to switch from the audiobook to the ebook because I couldn’t handle listening to it. I had to read it so that I could get through it faster.

Misbehaving (#6): ★ ★ ★ ★

Jess surprised me in this book. She was the “bad girl”, but she went from bad to good very quickly. She didn’t seem much like the girl I met in the earlier books. That didn’t really bother me, and I enjoyed her story. I liked Jason, too. His story of trying to step out of the shadow of his brother was understandable. I also liked Jess and Jason together. What I didn’t like was Jess’ involvement with other people. I wish that would have been left out. Otherwise, I enjoyed listening to this book. I was happy this was finally a book about a girl who wasn’t so innocent like the rest of the series’ heroines.

Bad For You (#7): ★ ★ ★

I liked listening to this book. I loved Blythe. She was so sweet and sheltered. Her past intrigued me. I loved her with Krit. I loved Krit when he was with her. What I wasn’t so fond of was his hooking up with other chicks before they got together. It wasn’t very enjoyable reading about his exploits knowing Krit and Blythe would end up together.

Hold on Tight (#8): ★ ★ ★ ½

I loved Sienna and her story. I wasn’t so sure about Dewayne because I didn’t like him in all of the other books. He redeemed himself, but he was an idiot when it came to Sienna for most of the book. I am happy they ended up together. They were really too cute.

Until the End (#9): ★ ★ ★ ½

Throughout the Sea Breeze series, Trisha and Rock are there to support their friends. I heard stories of how their love originated through their friends’ stories, but those didn’t compare to getting their stories from them. I loved Trisha and Rock’s romance. It went back and forth between the past and present. The whole thing was so sweet. Their love story was a 5 star read — until the book abruptly switched half way through from being about them to mini epilogue novels about the characters from all of the other novels. Don’t get me wrong, it was fun to catch up with all of them. (Although, it seemed everyone was engaged, pregnant, or having a wedding. Their stories were way too similar to each other right down to the men appreciating a certain asset of their woman.)  I just would have rather had more of Trisha and Rock. I thought maybe it would end with them to completely wrap everything up, but it didn’t. It ended with Bliss and Nate Finlay. I know that’s to prepare for the Sea Breeze / Rosemary Beach spinoffs, but it felt out of place. This book is definitely worth reading if you’re a fan of the series, though.

Thoughts on the Sea Breeze series:

Abbi Glines’ Sea Breeze series was one of those guilty pleasures to listen to. The books weren’t earth shattering or life changing, but they were fun and put me in a summery mood. My biggest complaint about the series was the pattern of sweet, innocent young women and guys who have been around the block several times falling in love. I kind of like it, but it also got a little redundant.  Each character had different life experiences, but their sexual ones mimicked each other a little too much. All in all, I enjoyed the experience of listening to Shayna Thibodeaux, Kirby Heyborne, and Sebastian York narrate. If you’re looking for some mindless summer reading, this is a fun series.

Review: Knocked Up by Stacey Lynn

KnockedUp-SBPRBANNER-BT
Knocked Up by Stacey Lynn
Publication Date: June 12th, 2018
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Knocked Up Cover_resize

First comes love. Then comes marriage. Then comes baby in a baby carriage. Just not necessarily in that order….

Braxton: I should probably be dead or in jail right now. Instead, thanks to some tough love, I worked my ass off and now I own a string of tattoo parlors throughout the Pacific Northwest. And yet the one thing I’ve always wanted—a family—still seems out of reach. When my best friend gets married, I’m just hoping to blow off some steam with the super-hot maid of honor. But after Cara Thompson tracks me down to tell me she’s pregnant, she’s more surprised than I am when I tell her I’m all in.

Cara: For the first time in my life, I’m living for myself—not for my parents and their ridiculous expectations. I gave up on my MBA, dropped out of the Ivy League, and moved to Portland to pursue my dream of becoming an artist. And what’s the first thing I do? Get knocked up. For a tatted-up sex god, Braxton Henley seems way too eager to “be there for me.” Is this guy serious? Maybe. He sure is patient. Because he won’t back down until I admit what I know in my heart: that our one night stand might’ve led me to the one.

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Review:

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

Knocked Up is a story of a girl and the guy who accidentally knocks her up. Neither Cara nor Braxton planned on seeing each other after they hooked up at their best friends’ wedding. Several weeks later, Cara comes to terms with the fact that she has to track down her one night stand to tell him she’s pregnant. Braxton surprises Cara by the level of involvement he wants. Braxton’s determined to have more than just a baby with Cara, so he sets out to get to know her and create the family he’s never had.

Knocked Up is the first book I’ve read by Stacey Lynn. The blurb is what convinced me to pick it up. The idea of two people hooking up at their best friends’ wedding and ending up pregnant sounded cute. It totally was. Cara was a young woman learning to stand on her own. She was very unsure what life held for her, but she knew how to make the best of things and do what was best for her. Braxton was this guy with a tough exterior and soft interior. I loved how he wanted to take care of Cara for all of the right reasons. Braxton and Cara were far from perfect, but they were perfect for each other.

This book wasn’t all cuteness, though. It also had some deep moments. Both Cara and Braxton had some tough issues they were dealing with from their past. Initially, some of those things kept them apart. In the end, their differences brought them together even more. How they worked through all of their problems made me fall even more in love with their romance than I already was.

I’m happy I decide to give Knocked Up a try. It was a fun read. I loved Stacey Flynn’s writing. I’m looking forward to going back to read the first book in this series. I’ve already requested it from my local library.


Excerpt:

I quickly take everything off and drape the paper sheet over my lap, leaving my socks on, and when I’m ready, the edges of the sheet tucked under my thighs and backside, Pam knocks on the door.

“Ready?” she calls as she’s already pushing open the door.

“Yup.” I sound like I’m about ready to croak, and Braxton’s deep, rumbling chuckle worsens my rattled nerves. He kissed me!

I raise my hand to my mouth and as my fingertips press my lips, they’re taken away, gripped in Braxton’s warm hold. He smiles down at me knowingly and I force my attention on Pam.

She pulls the internal monitor out of the drawer, along with a bottle of lubricant and a condom, and Braxton’s grip on my hand turns almost bone-crushing.

“Is that—”

“Yup.” I cut him off.

“Um.”

“Now you see why I wanted the external one,” I mutter quietly.

I can’t look at him. My cheeks are on fire, and for some absolutely insane reason, other parts of my body are warming and this should not be happening at my midwife’s office.

“So,” Pam says, turning around and back to business. Except it’s hard to take her seriously as she waves what looks like a massive vibrator in her hand. “We’re going to insert this inside of you.”

“Holy shit,” Braxton mutters. And God, kill me. Please kill me now.

If Pam hears him, she ignores him as she steps toward me, and pulls out a set of stirrups from beneath the table. “I’m going to need you to lie down, Cara, and spread your legs, and slip down to the edge of the bed for me.”

“I feel like I’ve heard this before,” I say, unable to stop myself. My filter has evaporated along with my self-respect and all of this is so absolutely humiliating.

Pam pauses, glances at me and then at Braxton and nods, understanding. But I swear, as her gaze sweeps down Braxton’s arms, even she blushes. Which is great . . . my midwife thinks my non-boyfriend baby daddy is hot.

“I feel like I’ve said this before,” Braxton says, and both of our eyes whip to him. My gracious. He’s smiling, shoulders shaking like he’s holding back the world’s most boisterous laugh, and it’s all I can do to not kill him while he’s standing there, glancing between the monitor-slash-vibrator and my spread legs and I can’t hold it in anymore.

“This is embarrassing.”

Pam is back to business, already spreading the condom over the phallic-shaped instrument, and then she drizzles on the lubricant.

Braxton’s breath brushes over my cheeks. His dark locks tickle my temple as he whispers, “I feel like I should be offering to help with this.”

“Shut up,” I grit, my stomach muscles clenching from trying not to die or laugh. “This isn’t funny.”

“Oh. This is the funniest thing I’ve ever seen, I’m not going to lie.”

My fingers squeeze his hand and Pam is in front of me. She holds a small black box in her other hand and the tip of the wand against my center. “I’ll go slow, and it might be cold, okay?”

“Yup.”

“Sweet Jesus,” Braxton whispers. “I don’t know whether to be terrified or turned on right now, Cara.”

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About the Author

Stacey Lynn Author Photo


Stacey Lynn currently lives in Minnesota with her husband and four children. When she’s not conquering mountains of laundry and fighting a war against dust bunnies and cracker crumbs, you can find her playing with her children, curled up on the couch with a good book, or on the boat with her family enjoying Minnesota’s beautiful, yet too short, summer.

She lives off her daily pot of coffee, can only write with a bowlful of Skittles nearby, and has been in love with romance novels since before she could drive herself to the library.

If you would like to know more about Stacey Lynn, follow her here:

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Review: Burning Up by Jennifer Blackwood

Burning Up
Series: Flirting with Fire, #1
Author: Jennifer Blackwood
Publication Date: May 8, 2018
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Note: I won this book in a Goodreads Giveaway and this review is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

USA Today bestselling author Jennifer Blackwood fans the flames of desire in her smoking-hot series about firefighters and the women who want them…

Unemployed schoolteacher Erin Jenkins is back in Portland, the town she hasn’t called home for more than a decade. It’s not the way she wants to spend her last days of summer: in between jobs and avoiding her mother’s snooping by escaping to the ice-cream aisle. But when the opportunity arises for her to accompany her brother’s best friend—her lifetime crush—to a wedding, summer gets a whole lot more interesting.

Firefighter and single dad Jake Bennett has built a nice, safe wall around his heart—no romance, no getting burned. That doesn’t mean he’s ruling out a fling. Considering Erin’s visit is temporary, they’re the perfect fit for a scorching no-strings one-night stand. Or two. Or five. Until the worst thing happens: Erin and Jake are feeling more. Damn that four-letter word.

Now their hearts are on the line, and when their smoldering summer comes to a close, it’s going to be harder than ever to put out the fire.


Burning Up is one of those books I could have fallen in love with but didn’t. I’m sad to say that because I’ve enjoyed other books by Jennifer Blackwood. This one was good, but it could have been so much better.

My biggest frustration with Burning Up was all of the back and forth between the characters. Erin and Jake had a cute connection based on the fact that Jake was Erin’s older brother’s best friend. She had a high school crush on him, and he stayed away based on her brother’s warning. Years later, they reconnect when Erin returns to Portland. They’re super attracted to each other, but Jake can’t pull the trigger on hooking up with her because of his worries. It’s not just once, but multiple times. I couldn’t believe how okay with that Erin was. Granted she had her own issues, but still. It drove me crazy. There was way too much build up. I wanted to scream at them to get it on already. Their hesitation to actually be together almost killed this book for me.

What saved things? The secondary characters. Erin’s entire family was fun. Her mom was a hoot. I loved her interactions with her sisters and brother. Same for Jake. Hisfamily was funny, too. I especially adored his relationship with his daughter. I also loved Erin and Jake’s friends. Without all these side stories carrying the main one, I don’t know that I would have stayed as interested as I did.

Would I recommend reading Burning Up? That’s a hard question. Yes and no. There are better books written by Jennifer Blackwood that I would rather tell you to read, but this one feels like a gateway to a possibly great series. I have a feeling that some of the upcoming novels in it are going to be good. I am crossing my fingers for Reece and a certain friend of Erin’s to show up. Also, Hollywood needs a book.

Review: Hooked on You by Kate Meader

Hooked on You

by Kate Meader
Chicago Rebels, #4
Publication Date: May 7, 2018
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Sports Romance, Standalone

AVAILABLE NOW!

SYNOPSIS:

The steamy Chicago Rebels series returns with this racy and sassy tale of embittered hearts, second chances, and going for the goal—on and off the ice.

Violet Vasquez never met her biological father, so learning he left his beloved hockey franchise—the Chicago Rebels—to her is, well, unexpected. Flat broke and close to homeless, Violet is determined to make the most of this sudden opportunity. Except dear old dad set conditions that require she takes part in actually running the team with the half-sisters she barely knows. Working with these two strangers and overseeing a band of hockey-playing lugs is not on her agenda…until she lays eyes on the Rebels captain and knows she has to have him.

Bren St. James has been labeled a lot of things: the Puck Prince, Lord of the Ice, Hell’s Highlander…but it’s the latest tag that’s making headlines: washed-up alcoholic has-been. This season, getting his life back on track and winning the Cup are his only goals. With no time for relationships—except the fractured ones he needs to rebuild with his beautiful daughters—he’s finding it increasingly hard to ignore sexy, all-up-in-his-beard Violet Vasquez. And when he finds himself in need of a nanny just as the playoffs are starting, he’s faced with a temptation he could so easily get hooked on.

For two lost souls, there’s more on the line than just making the best of a bad situation… there might also be a shot at the biggest prize of all: love.

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REVIEW:

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

If you’ve read the previous books in the series, you know that there’s been tension and chemistry bubbling under the surface between Violet Vasquez and Bren St. James from the very beginning. The recovering alcoholic, professional hockey team captain and the reluctant owner of the Chicago Rebels have been avoiding and teasing each other for a long time now. I had a feeling Violet and Bren’s was going to be my favorite in the series, and I wasn’t wrong. It was truly my favorite.

Violet and Bren were so perfect for each other. That’s it. That’s all there is to say about it. No, not really, but I could end it there. Violet and Bren were just the person the other needed. Violet bridged a gap between Bren and his children, while helping him heal from his past. Bren gave Violet another part of family she desperately needed. It was all so sweet! I adored them together!

The surprise shining stars in this book were the slugs. Yes, slugs. I know. Surprising, right? Well, it wasn’t actually the slugs, but Bren’s daughters. Frankie and Cat were the perfection addition to the story. There’s something incredibly heartwarming and attractive about an amazing dad.

I could not have picked a better ending for this contemporary sports romance series. Hooked on You was a delightful read. It was filled with amazing chemistry, an emotional connection, and a whole lot of fun.

DON’T MISS THE OTHER BOOKS IN THE CHICAGO REBELS SERIES!

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ABOUT KATE MEADER

Originally from Ireland, USA Today bestselling author Kate Meader cut her romance reader teeth on Maeve Binchy and Jilly Cooper novels, with some Harlequins thrown in for variety. Give her tales about brooding mill owners, oversexed equestrians, and men who can rock an apron or a fire hose, and she’s there. Now based in Chicago, she writes sexy contemporary romance with alpha heroes and strong heroines who can match their men quip for quip.

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Review: 25: Angels and Assists by Mignon Mykel

25: Angels and Assists
Series: Enforcers of San Diego, #3
Author: Mignon Mykel
Publication Date: April 29, 2018
Publisher: Mignon Mykel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

From the author of Prescott Family, comes the next installment in the Enforcers of San Diego interconnected series, featuring a widower father who learns: sometimes forever has been in front of you all along…

After growing up in a household without a mother and with a father who could not care less, Mikey Leeds took his world into his own hands. Being drafted into the Ontario Hockey League at seventeen, then the National Hockey League at eighteen, should have been the height of his dreams…but that was only the icing on the cake.

Moving to Canada for hockey was only the beginning of the good life. It also brought him Trina Perri.

Life was good.
Life was perfect.

And it all came crashing down one night in late December.

Year after year, the twenty-second of December brings darkness into Mikey’s life. He can’t catch a break.

This December, he’s taking a page from his own book. He’s going to take back his life, and not let hockey superstitions hold him back.

He has an angel on his side, while another has always been in front of him.
He just needs to see the assist for what it is, and not let her go…

Again.


Mignon Mykel is one of the authors I wish more romance readers knew about. I love her writing. All of her characters have interesting stories that are emotionally deep. I especially love her hockey romances. 25: Angels and Assists is one of my new favorites of hers.

25: Angels and Assists had my emotions on high alert from the beginning. I had no idea Mikey had been through so much! The loss of his wife was so devastating. I hurt for him and what his loss meant — but I loved his new love interest. Molly was his wife’s best friend / his son’s nanny. Even when they weren’t together, they created a special little family. Their relationship started out rocky and was an emotional rollercoaster, but the pay off was worth it! Mikey and Molly were perfect for each other. I loved every minute spent with them.

Another thing I loved in this book, as well as Mykel’s other books, was the attention given to the sport. 25: Angels and Assists had some great professional hockey scenes. I felt like I learned a few things about the sports that I didn’t know before. It’s always fun to learn something new.

If you’re a fan of hockey romances, you really need to check Mignon Mykel’s books! They’re emotionally raw, filled with great characters, and wonderful love stories.

Review: Something So Unscripted by Natasha Madison

Title: Something So Unscripted
Author: Natasha Madison
Genre: Sports Romance
Release Date: April 2, 2018
Cover Design: Melissa Gill at MGBookCovers
 
 

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

Oh my goodness the feels in this book! Natasha Madison slayed me with this one! Something So Unscripted is a book that will have your emotions on red alert.

Zack’s life has exploded in the past year. First, his five-year old son Jack is diagnosed with cancer. Then, he finds his wife cheating on him with his teammate. Instead of feeling sorry for himself Zack drops the dead weight, trades teams, and moves to New York where the best doctors are for Jack. One of those doctors is Zack’s new teammate Max’s younger sister, Denise. Denise is the perfect doctor for Jack, and she might just be the perfect woman for Zack.

There were so many things to love about Something So Unscripted. Natasha Madison’s writing was as brilliant as always, but this book stood out from her others. It was so emotionally complex. I loved where she went with this one. Even when it was tugging on my heart-strings, it was still fun to read.

The characters in this book were outstanding. Zack was an awesome father. His dedication to his son was exactly what it should have been. I loved how Jack was his first priority and everything else came after. I loved how he dealt with his wife on everything regarding Jack. Denise was also special. I can only imagine what being an oncology doctor for young children would be like. The care she showed the kids and their families showcased what an amazing woman she was. I especially loved how she adored Jack. Their relationship was so special and sweet. It was more important to me than Denise’s relationship with Zack.

As for Jack…he completely stole the show. That kid was so freakin’ adorable. He may have had cancer, but he didn’t let that get him down. He shared his light with everyone. His part in this romance was something special. I loved him so much!!!

I can’t leave out all of the other awesome characters. Max and Matthew were back harassing each other and now Zack. Their wives and families also made several appearances and made this book feel family oriented. I loved seeing them all again!

There wasn’t anything I didn’t love about this book! Well, maybe the whole Zack and Jack name thing. They rhyme and I kept getting them confused! LOL. But seriously. Something So Unscripted was utter perfection right through to the epilogue (LOVED it!!!). It was such a great story. I really, really hope this isn’t the end of this series. I want need more books!

One of the most EMOTIONAL romances I’ve read this year! Natasha Madison continues to AMAZE ME with every new release! – Shayna Renee 


Something so Unscripted is so much more than a love story, it is an all-encompassing, engrossing and engaging novel about, love, life and all the moments that make life special. – Denise Shh Mom’s Reading


Something So Unscripted is positively the most amazing book I’ve read. It gives the most heart wrenching story that will leave breathless. – Book Haven Book Blog

Zack

Finding my teammate in bed with my wife made the decision I had been fighting with for years easier.

It’s time to move on. 

A fresh start and a new NHL team in a big city. Most importantly, it’s my son Jack’s best shot. 

It would be both of our best shots. 
Denise

After a bad childhood, I made sure I would succeed, so I lived for my job. 

The problem is I die a little with each patient I lose. It’s part of my career at Hudson Children’s Oncology Hospital, but it doesn’t make the sting of loss any easier. 

Seeking anything other than a life saved isn’t on my agenda until a NHL player walks into my hospital with his son. 

We’re officially off script the moment we meet. 

If this love is anything, it’s unscripted.

 
“Zack.” I hear her voice and just look at my wife. The woman who said she would love me in good times and in bad yet is currently holding a sheet to cover her naked body. The four-carat engagement with matching eternity wedding ring glistens in the light. “It’s just …” she starts to say, and I look over at the man in bed next to her. In our bed. 

“It’s over.” I say the two words I swore I wouldn’t say no matter how hard it got. No matter how much I saw her push me away, no matter that I always suspected she was cheating on me. Then I look over at the man who I called a brother, the man who stood by my side on and off the ice. “You’re scum.”

“It just happened,” Colton says, getting out of the bed. At least he’s wearing boxers. His knee is still wrapped from the operation he had last month, which is why he wasn’t on the road with us, which is how I surprised them.

We were on the road for the whole week and due back tomorrow, but I hightailed it out of there to get home to my family and my son. “It just so happened you walked into my house and slept with my wife?” I ask him, and I have to wonder why I’m not more pissed, why I’m not more angry with them. “You come here and sleep with my wife with my son under the same roof.”

“Zack,” my wife says, and I look over at her again. Tears are rolling down her cheeks, her perfectly made up face now streaked with the black mascara she always wears. “Please let’s …”

I shake my head, putting my hands in my pockets. “Let’s what? Let’s talk about this?” I throw my head back and laugh. “Let’s talk about the fact that our son is in his room dying. Let’s talk about the fact that instead of helping him, you’re just helping yourself. Let’s talk about the fucking fact that instead of being there by his side with me, you chose to escape the fucking reality that our son won’t make it to six years old.”

“No.” She shakes her head, and I know that I’ve about had it.

“I’ll give you an hour,” I tell them both. “One hour and I want you packed and at the door when I come back.”

“But—” she says.

“But nothing, Chantal. You did what you had to do for you, and now I’m doing what I need to do for our son.”

I turn and walk out of our bedroom, then down the winding staircase that leads to the big brass front doors. Once outside in the warm Arizona air, I take my phone out of my pocket and call the only person I know who has my back no matter what. My agent and best friend, Jamie.

He answers after one ring, and it doesn’t surprise me he sleeps with his phone in his hand. “What’s up?” he says, his voice sleepy since it’s four a.m. in New York.

“I want out of Arizona, make the trade. Call the powers that be; I want out,” I tell him, getting into my Range Rover.

“You can’t just demand that,” he says, and I hear sheets rustle.

“Just walked in on Colton fucking my wife, so you can bet your ass I can. Make it happen. Call New York because it’s the only place I’ll go. I don’t care if I take a pay cut.”

“That fucking scumbag,” he says. “I’ll call them now.”

“Jamie, there is a top-notch doctor who specializes in cancer in New York. Max Horton’s sister,” I tell him quietly and slowly drive out of my gate.

“I’ll make it happen,” he says softly. “I’ll let you know what they say.”

“Jamie, I’m leaving here in a week regardless of what they say,” I tell him and disconnect the call. 

“One week,” I say to myself. “One fucking week.”
 
When her nose isn’t buried in a book, or her fingers flying across a keyboard writing, she’s in the kitchen creating gourmet meals. You can find her, in four inch heels no less, in the car chauffeuring kids, or possibly with her husband scheduling his business trips. It’s a good thing her characters do what she says, because even her Labrador doesn’t listen to her…
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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.

Blog Tour Review: The Hook-Up Experiment by Emma Hart

1.Hate-screw my high school nemesis.

2.Remember to hate him.

3.Prove my brother wrong.

It should be easy.

It isn’t.

As the owner of Pick-A-Dick, New Orleans’ premier hook-up website, my job is simple. Connect two people for a no-strings, no-expectations hook-up. The plus for my clients is that I’m the one who gets to sift through the dick pics—except this time, they’re required.

My problem? My brother, co-owner of Pick-A-Dick’s sister dating site, doesn’t believe it’s possible to hook up with someone three times and not fall in love.

I disagree. I know it’s possible.

And my disagreement is exactly how I end up reconnected with my high school nemesis, Elliott Sloane. The guy who asked me to junior prom and then stood me up. Who egged my car when I rejected him, and convinced my senior homecoming date to ghost me.

It should be easy to hate-screw him. If only he was still that person, instead of a hot-as-hell single dad, working as a builder to make ends’ meet, fighting for custody of his daughter.

Not to mention packing in the pants department…

Three hook-ups.

One outcome.

Right?

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MY REVIEW

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

I absolutely adored this book!!! It was so, so good. The Hook-Up Experiment was fun and flirty…and a little bit dirty. That combination created so many hilarious moments! There was some spectacularly witty dialog and a bunch of swoon worthy moments. Emma Hart’s writing seriously shined.

Peyton and Elliot were so adorable! It was almost a second chance at love story mixed with an enemy to lovers vibe. Everything about their hook-up was so much fun. I loved how they ended up on a date together, and how that worked out for them. Their story was surprisingly sweet and cute. I loved them both.

Another person I loved? Briony. That little girl was so dang cute! She stole the show. Or the book. However you want to say it. Briony upped Elliot’s hotness factor in a very great way. Emma Hart knows how to write awesome children and singe fathers.

Now I didn’t read The Upside to Being Single, so I had no prior knowledge of Peyton or her friends. That didn’t matter at all. This book can be read as a standalone. Meeting all of these characters did make me want to go back and read that book, though! I loved them all so much! I now need to read Mellie’s story. I want to know how she ended up with Jake. I also can’t wait for Chloe’s book! I have a feeling that one is going to be extra special and funny.

I couldn’t get enough of The Hook-Up Experiment! If I could have stayed up any later, I would have read it in one sitting. It was just that good. If you’re a fan of humorous contemporary romances, you won’t want to miss this book!

EXCERPT

“Is she okay with that juice?” Peyton watched her go.

I selected the Blu-ray from the cupboard and shot a smirk her way. “Sorry to break it to you, but you’re getting a juice box.”

“I can live with that.”

I turned away and hit the eject button on the player. “You didn’t have to say yes to her, you know.”

“Of course, I had to. Have you seen those eyes? How do you say no to her, ever?”

“I think of all the times she screams and swings her arms like a tiny terrorist, and it’s pretty easy.” I put the disk in and turned around.

Peyton had one eyebrow raised. “See, now, I’d think that’s reason to say no.”

“It depends on the day. Sometimes it results in her being put to bed to calm down, which means she ends up taking a rare afternoon nap, and I get some peace and quiet.”

“That’s a thing around her? She was talking to me for thirty minutes flat about what I did and didn’t like.”

“Only thirty minutes? Lucky you. She has about three hours of material of that.” I took a seat on the sofa, making sure to leave space between us for Bri. “Did she get started on hedgehogs yet?”

Peyton looked a little confused. “Hedgehogs?”

“YouTube is the devil.”

“That…was quite the jump in subject.”

I laughed as the main menu music hit on the TV. “I’m going to preface this by saying kids are weird.”

“Some get that from their parents.”

I blinked at her for a second. She wasn’t wrong if half these people who had a mini-career opening fucking toys on YouTube were parents.

“There are a bunch of stupid videos on YouTube, and apparently, watching people open toys is thrilling.”

Now, she looked really confused.

“And on one of those she watched, the person had a pet hedgehog who wasn’t having the nonsense of her opening a Hatchimal on camera, so it stole the egg.”

She blinked several times in quick succession. “I have no idea what you just said, and if I’m honest… Please don’t explain it.”

I laughed and hit play on the TV.

“Here’s your dooce-box,” Briony said, handing Peyton two. “And das mine. I can’t do the straws.”

“Oh. Right. Okay.” Peyton looked at the two juices that had been thrust at her.

Smiling, I took one from her. I pulled the straw off the back, out of the tiny plastic slip, and poked it through the foiled hole in the top. “There you go,” I said to Briony. “What do you want for dinner?”

She put the straw in her mouth and pursed her lips as she sucked the juice up. Peyton watched her, lips twitching, as she put her straw in place.

“Pizza!” Briony announced.

Oh no. I’d eaten too much pizza lately.

Was there such a thing as too much pizza?

Maybe if the toppings were changed up…

“Peydon, do you want pizza?” Bri asked, leaning right into her.

“I like pizza,” she replied, smiling sweetly down at her. “What’s your favorite?”

“I like spots and cheese.”

“Spots?”

I coughed on my water. “Pepperoni,” I explained. “They look like spots on the pizza.”

Peyton’s eyes met mine for a minute. Silent laughter shone back at me. That really was toddler logic at its finest.

“You know,” she said, looking down at Peyton. “Spots are my favorite, too!”

Once again, Briony gasped. “Reawy?”

“Really, really. I love spots.”

Oh, Jesus.

It might have been a mistake introducing these two. Not only was my daughter becoming increasingly obsessed with someone who seemed to be a brunette, adult version of her…

No, that was the problem. Peyton was the brunette, adult version of Briony, attitude and all—and if there was anything my daughter didn’t need, it was someone who could teach her a thing or ten about sarcasm.

“I’ll order pizza,” I said, going to stand.

“Oh, you got it last time. I’ll go call them.” Peyton put her juice on the side table and tried to move, but Briony stopped her.

“No. Mimi told me that only gentlemen buy dinner. Princesses sit and look priddy.”

Peyton looked down at her. “Sit and look pretty? I like to buy my own pizza sometimes, and that’s okay.”

Without missing a beat, Briony said, “Princesses sit and look priddy so the mens buying dinner don’t know dat we can kick dere butts.”

By day, New York Times and USA Today bestselling New Adult author Emma Hart dons a cape and calls herself Super Mum to two beautiful little monsters. By night, she drops the cape, pours a glass of whatever she fancies—usually wine—and writes books.

Emma is working on Top Secret projects she will share with her followers and fans at every available opportunity. Naturally, all Top Secret projects involve a dashingly hot guy who likes to forget to wear a shirt, a sprinkling (or several) of hold-onto-your-panties hot scenes, and a whole lotta love.

She likes to be busy—unless busy involves doing the dishes, but that seems to be when all the ideas come to life.

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