Review: Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine

Stillhouse Lake
Series: Gwen Proctor, #1
Author: Rachel Caine
Publication Date: July 1, 2017
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Genre: Thriller, Mystery

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Gina Royal is the definition of average—a shy Midwestern housewife with a happy marriage and two adorable children. But when a car accident reveals her husband’s secret life as a serial killer, she must remake herself as Gwen Proctor—the ultimate warrior mom.

With her ex now in prison, Gwen has finally found refuge in a new home on remote Stillhouse Lake. Though still the target of stalkers and Internet trolls who think she had something to do with her husband’s crimes, Gwen dares to think her kids can finally grow up in peace.

But just when she’s starting to feel at ease in her new identity, a body turns up in the lake—and threatening letters start arriving from an all-too-familiar address. Gwen Proctor must keep friends close and enemies at bay to avoid being exposed—or watch her kids fall victim to a killer who takes pleasure in tormenting her. One thing is certain: she’s learned how to fight evil. And she’ll never stop.


When I heard Rachel Caine was releasing a thriller, I was excited. I read her YA Morganville Vampire series years ago, and I really enjoyed her writing style. I was interested to see how that writing style would transfer to an adult thriller.

Stillhouse Lake was an addicting read. Everything about the story held my attention. It was fast paced and constantly changing directions. I loved the depth of the characters and the fact that everyone was hiding something. It made it fun guessing who the bad person was. (I guessed correctly!) It also had a great cliffhanger. I wish the next book was available!!!

I’m not going to go into the plot or characters in this review because I would hate to give anything away. If you like a great thriller, I highly recommend Stillhouse Lake. It was such a fun ride.

Review: Grin & Beard It by Penny Reid

Grin & Beard It
Series: Winston Brothers, #2
Author: Penny Reid
Publication Date: May 31, 2016
Publisher: Penny Reid
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Comedy

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Sienna Diaz is everyone’s favorite “fat” funny lady. The movie studio executives can’t explain it, but her films are out-grossing all the fit and trim headliners and Hollywood’s most beautiful elite. The simple truth is, everyone loves plus-sized Sienna.

But she has a problem, she can’t read maps and her sense of direction is almost as bad as her comedic timing is stellar. Therefore, when Sienna’s latest starring role takes her to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park she finds herself continually lost while trying to navigate the backroads of Green Valley, Tennessee. Much to her consternation, Sienna’s most frequent savior is a ridiculously handsome, charming, and cheeky Park Ranger by the name of Jethro Winston.

Sienna is accustomed to high levels of man-handsome, so it’s not Jethro’s chiseled features or his perfect physique that make Sienna stutter. It’s his southern charm. And gentlemanly manners. And habit of looking at her too long and too often.

Sienna has successfully navigated the labyrinth of Hollywood heart-throbs. But can she traverse the tenuous trails of Tennessee without losing her head? Or worse, her heart?


If you read my review post for Truth or Beard, you know I’m currently binge reading the entire Winston Brothers series. I loved that first book and I was so excited to read the second, Grin & Beard It.

Grin & Beard It is Jethro Winston’s story. He’s the ex-troublemaker of the Winston family. He put his brothers and sister through a lot growing up, and he still feels the guilt of his former life. Jethro doesn’t feel he’s worthy of love.

Enter Sienna Diaz. Sienna is the hottest actress and screenwriter in the business right now. Her “plus size” curves and witty sense of humor set her apart from the rest of the Hollywood crowd. Sienna loves her career, but having a family has always been her ultimate goal.

Jethro and Sienna’s relationship was a slow burn romance that was built on humor, acceptance and an immediate connection. I loved their witty banter. The way they saw things in each other no one else did was so special. Their support of each other was unwavering and inspirational.

Reformed Jethro was an amazing character, but Sienna is the one that stood out in this story. Sienna is one of my all time favorite female characters. She’s so much more than an actress. She’s a writer. She’s a comedian. Most of all, Sienna is happy with who she is. I loved that she loved her body. She was proud of her curves and knew she was more than what the media or society saw her as. I also loved that family was Sienna’s first priority. Her relationship with her mother was so sweet.

I adored Grin & Beard It. Penny Reid’s writing is brilliant. The Winston Brothers is one of the best series I’ve read in a long time. Each book gets funnier and funnier. If you like funny romance, you have to read this series! I can’t wait to read Beard Science next. I can only imagine what Cletus has in store for me!

Review: After Ever Happy by Anna Todd

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

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Review: After We Fell by Anna Todd

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

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Synopsis:

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Blog Tour Review: Something So Perfect by Natasha Madison

 

Matthew

Drafted first round pick when I was seventeen, playing first line at eighteen, branded NHL’s bad boy at nineteen. At twenty-three I was cut from the team and living back home with my parents. A knock on the door brought an opportunity I couldn’t turn down. All I had to do was prove I learned from my mistakes, so no way would I fall for a chick with a pouty mouth even if I wanted to spend all day devouring it.

Karrie

When my father gave me a job, I had no idea it would be to babysit some washed up NHL player. He wanted me to be his chaperone, his overpaid babysitter. I thought it was a joke. Then I met him, Matthew Grant. I wasn’t prepared for this particular bad boy. He’s not only hot but he’s arrogant and kinda sweet in a ‘you make me crazy’ kind of way.
Basically now that he’s finished screwing up his life, he’s decided to turn mine upside down.


She’s the first thing I’ve ever wanted more than hockey.

He’s the guy I know I should stay away from.

But what if this thing that started out so wrong turns into something so perfect?

Review

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

I’m fairly new to Natasha Madison’s books. I read her last novel, Tempt the Boss, and I fell in love with her writing style. When the opportunity to read and review Something So Perfect popped up, I jumped on the offer. I was excited to read more from her. She didn’t let me down. Something So Perfect was another fun read.

Matthew and Karrie’s professional relationship was doomed from the start. Neither of them wanted to be connected to each other. Matthew may have been willing to have a baby-sitter to save his hockey career, but he didn’t think he really needed one. Karrie wanted to be taken seriously, and a job baby-sitting a has been wasn’t what she had in mind. All their resentment of the situation goes out the door when Karrie and Matthew meet. There’s an instant attraction between them that could ruin both their careers. Karrie’s more than Matthew’s baby-sitter, she’s also his boss’ daughter.

Karrie was a somewhat innocent character. She was a confident woman with drive. I loved that about her. She just hadn’t met the man she wanted to rock her world yet. Enter Matthew. He was the bad boy all the ladies wanted to tame. Deep down, Matthew wasn’t the bad boy he was made out to be. He had been young and made lots of mistakes, but he was older and wiser now. Matthew respected his family and Karrie. She made him want more and he wasn’t going to let anything ruin their relationship. He had some great moments of sweetness.

Karrie and Matthew lit this book up! There was so much electricity between them. The love-hate relationship they had going on made for some of the hottest chemistry between characters I’ve read in a while. The witty banter that flew between the two of them was so much fun to read!

I loved Something So Perfect. I enjoyed the characters’ relationship and their path to love. It was a new spin on the hockey romance theme that I know other hockey romance fans will love. I highly recommend reading it.

“Okay,” Robert starts, “we have your contract here. It’s a one-year contract for two point one million, as per your agent.” He smiles at me because I don’t have an agent. I have Cooper. “We also have the stipulation clause. I know last time you weren’t happy with some of them, but it’s the only way we can both win.” He opens the folder in front of him. “You will be living in a brownstone in Brooklyn.” The page flips over while he continues to read. “Your chaperone will live with you.” He looks up, waiting to see if I’ll say something, and I almost say fuck off. “It’s a three-story brownstone. You each have your own floor to do as you please.”

I nod at him. It isn’t as bad as I thought and maybe me and my roommate will be each other’s wing man. “Your chaperone will be at your side each time you go out. Especially, game day and traveling. Of course you will each have your own room when traveling, but it will be connecting.”
“I hope this guy is up for Netflix and working out.” I smile at them, my hand itchy to sign the papers before I call it all off.
Doug gets up, going to the phone on the table, pressing a couple of buttons. “Can you come to the conference room, please?” He hangs up right after.

“If you mess up even once, your contract is null and void,” Doug says, sitting down just as the door opens and I turn my head to stare at the person who just walked in.

“You?” I stand up, looking back at the other people at the table. The chick from the gym walks in, this time wearing black tight pants and a white button-down shirt, rolled up at the wrists. “Is this a joke?”

“I can assure you I had the same reaction when I was asked,” she says sternly. “I don’t want this any more than you do, but it is what it is.”

“She tried to pick me up yesterday.” I put my hands on my hips, telling the table.

“Are you insane?” she huffs out, her voice rising. “You and your anatomy landed on me.” She looks at Doug. “Right in my back.”

I roll my eyes at her.

“Karrie,” Doug says, looking at her.

“What?” She shrugs at him. “He couldn’t even contain himself, and he thinks I tried to pick him up.” She looks at me. “You wish.”

I pfft out. “Please, one word and you would have come home with me.” I look at the men in front of me. “You guys can’t be serious.” I then look back at Karrie. “Besides, how old is she? Twelve?”

“Pervert. I would have pulled the fire alarm and kicked you in the nuts.” She crosses her arms over her chest, making her tits strain against the buttons. “Either way you would have ended up in the same place. Alone. With bruised nuts.”

Robert slaps the table. “That’s enough, you two.” He looks at both of us. “Now, you two have a lot of catching up to do. I will forward you both the travel schedule.” He stands up, grabbing the papers, and slapping me on the shoulder. “Good to have you.”

Coach Dan gets up also, smirking at me while I stand here speechless that they allow a girl to chaperone me. Not just any girl, the hottest fucking girl I’ve ever set eyes on. I had to take care of myself three times since I stumbled on her.

“You two try not to kill each other.” Dan looks at Karrie. “Be good, sweetheart.” And he kisses her cheek.

“Really?” I throw my hands in the air. “Does no one think this is a ridiculous idea?” I look around the room and the only one left is Doug, who gets up.

“I think it’s the best thing to ever happen to you.” He walks over to squeeze my shoulder. “But if you make my little girl cry”—he leans in, whispering—“they won’t find your body.”

My mouth opens and closes, and then opens again, not a sound coming out.
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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…
Author Links

Review: Irresistible You by Kate Meader

Irresistible You
Series: Chicago Rebels, #1
Author: Kate Meader
Publication Date: August 14, 2017
Publisher: Pocket Star
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Sports
Note: I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Synopsis:

Harper Chase has just become the most powerful woman in the NHL after the death of her father Clifford Chase, maverick owner of the Chicago Rebels. But the team is a hot mess—underfunded, overweight, and close to tapping out of the league. Hell-bent on turning the luckless franchise around, Harper won’t let anything stand in her way. Not her gender, not her sisters, and especially not a veteran player with an attitude problem, a chip on his shoulder, and a smoldering gaze designed to melt her ice-compacted defenses.

Veteran center Remy “Jinx” DuPre is on the downside of a career that’s seen him win big sponsorships, fans’ hearts, and more than a few notches on his stick. Only one goal has eluded him: the Stanley Cup. Sure, he’s been labeled as the unluckiest guy in the league, but with his recent streak of good play, he knows this is his year. So why the hell is he being shunted off to a failing hockey franchise run by a ball-buster in heels? And is she seriously expecting him to lead her band of misfit losers to a coveted spot in the playoffs?

He’d have a better chance of leading Harper on a merry skate to his bed…


You probably know by now that I’m a sucker for a hockey romance. Hockey players are the hottest romance heroes. They ooze self-confidence and have some extremely sexy bodies. Plus, they usually have some super sweet emotions hiding deep down. Since I love them so much, I’m always excited to find a new series to swoon over. I’ve definitely found one of those in the Chicago Rebels.

Irresistible You is a hockey romance featuring a female team owner and her reluctant star player. When Harper Chase inherits her father’s professional hockey team, she should be happy. It’s been her dream forever. Instead she’s frustrated and overwhelmed. The team should have been Harper’s free and clear. Instead she’s stuck sharing ownership with her two estranged half-sisters and fighting to accomplish an almost unheard of task her father set up in order to keep her team. Harper’s not going down without a fight, and she’s acquired the player she knows will lead her team to victory.

Remy DuPre has one last season in him. It’s finally his turn to win the Stanley Cup and he’s not letting being traded to Chicago ruin his plans. He’ll put in his time with his new team if it means being traded to a better team later.

Remy and Harper start as adversaries, but soon find themselves enjoying their bickering. There’s an attraction beneath their feud, and when they act on their desires everything changes. What they both thought they wanted may not really be what they need.

Irresistible You started out a little slow for me. There was so much background to cover behind the characters’ initial feelings that I didn’t immediately connect with them. It took me a few chapters to begin to like both Harper and Remy. Once I learned the history behind their intentions, I fell in love with their story. I loved them both — Harper with her determination and insecurities and Remy with his cocky exterior and sweet interior. They were so cute together. Well, cute and super sexy. Those two had chemistry!

The history behind Harper’s family, her father’s will and her relationship with her sisters really intrigued me. I wanted to know more about it all. I felt like this book only brushed the surface. I know there’s at least two more books to come, so I’m sure I’ll get the story.

Irresistible You had a little bit of everything going for it. The writing was great, the characters were interesting, and the sexy times were super sexy. I have a feeling the series is going to get better and better as it goes on. I’m excited to read what’s next. If you like hockey romances, this is one I would recommend.

Review: Dear Aaron by Mariana Zapata

Dear Aaron
Author: Mariana Zapata
Publication Date: June 10, 2017
Publisher: Mariana Zapata
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Ruby Santos knew exactly what she was getting herself into when she signed up to write a soldier overseas.
The guidelines were simple: one letter or email a week for the length of his or her deployment. Care packages were optional.
Been there, done that. She thought she knew what to expect.
What she didn’t count on was falling in love with the guy.


This book made me swoon so dang hard. Normally, I like my characters to instantly have chemistry that leads quickly to sexy times, but I was all about the slow burn romance in Dear Aaron.

The way Mariana Zapata set this story up was amazing. I absolutely loved how Dear Aaron began with a series of letters between Aaron and Ruby. It was easy to see the friendship and camaraderie developing between them. They exchanged so much about their days and themselves with each other. Their silent attraction grew and grew for the first half of the book through those letters and then online chats. I could have read the entire book through their online communication with each other.

Then, Aaron and Ruby’s mode of communication changes. The story switches from letters and chats to Ruby’s point of view. I loved this change. It gave me even more insight into the characters. I wish more of the story would have been done this way. I wanted more of Aaron and Ruby’s story through her eyes. There wasn’t enough of that part for me.

I loved both Ruby and Aaron so much. Aaron because he was what every girl dreams of. He was the perfect combination of strong and sweet. He wasn’t perfect, but his imperfections are what made him special. It also helped that he was hotter than sin. Ruby was that nice, shy girl who doesn’t know how gorgeous she actually is. She had some annoying self-confidence issues, but they made her more real and genuine. These two characters truly brought out the best in each other.

I wasn’t ready to be done with Aaron and Ruby’s story when it ended. Honestly, I could have read another 400+ pages about them. I loved Dear Aaron that much. I have some other books I need to read next, but I really, really want to go devour Mariana Zapata’s backlist right now! I’m pretty sure I’m going to be her new biggest fan.