Review: Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson

Since You’ve Been Gone
Author: Morgan Matson
Publication Date: May 6, 2014
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Synopsis:

It was Sloane who yanked Emily out of her shell and made life 100% interesting. But right before what should have been the most epic summer, Sloane just…disappears. All she leaves behind is a to-do list.

On it, thirteen Sloane-inspired tasks that Emily would normally never try. But what if they could bring her best friend back?

Apple picking at night? Okay, easy enough.

Dance until dawn? Sure. Why not?

Kiss a stranger? Um…

Emily now has this unexpected summer, and the help of Frank Porter (totally unexpected), to check things off Sloane’s list. Who knows what she’ll find?

Go skinny-dipping? Wait…what?


I’m going to admit something very crazy. I had never read a book by Morgan Matson before Since You’ve Been Gone. I don’t have any good excuses. Since You’ve Been Gone has been sitting on my shelf for well over a year. I’m just happy I finally read it.

Since You’ve Been Gone is a coming of age novel about finding yourself. Emily has lived in her best friend Sloane’s shadow for the past two years. That’s been fine with Emily. She was more than happy to be the sidekick. But when Sloane suddenly disappears at the beginning of summer break, Emily’s distraught. Not only is she concerned about and missing Sloane, she’s suddenly all alone. The only thing Emily has left of Sloane is a random and scandalous list of things Sloane wants her to do. As Emily begins to work on completing the list, she find herself making friends with a guy from school, Frank Porter. Frank surprisingly offers to help Emily complete her list. As the summer goes on, Emily discovers more about herself and the world around her.

My love for Since You’ve Been Gone wasn’t immediate. To be honest, Emily really annoyed me at the beginning of the book. Her continued whining over Sloane and her absence drove me nuts. I know it was because I hadn’t gotten to know her before Sloane’s disappearance, but it grated on me for a bit. It wasn’t until she started working on the list and all of the supporting characters started showing up that I started to fall in love with the story.

Once I got past the beginning, I absolutely loved Since You’ve Been Gone. I was surprised to see a lot of my younger self in Emily. I, too, had a friend whose shadow I was content to live under in my school days. I empathized with Emily’s discomfort when she had to figure out how to be without Sloane, and make new friends. I can remember going through that and how tough it was. But, just like Emily, once I had been through it I was a stronger me. I loved the way Morgan Matson portrayed Emily’s growth as a person throughout this story.

Another thing I loved about this story were the other characters. Every one of them was so vivid and entertaining. I loved Collins and his absurdity. Frank was my favorite, though. His friendship with Emily was really sweet. He was a stand up guy. I loved their running program and the playlists they shared.

Since You’ve Been Gone may not have started strong, but it definitely ended that way. It had a great message and was beautifully written. It’s a book that I would highly recommend to teenagers (and adults!). I loved it.

Review: Holding by Mignon Mykel

Holding
Series: Playmaker Duet, #2; Prescott Family, #5
Author: Mignon Mykel
Publication Date: March 28, 2017
Publisher: Mignon Mykel
Genre: New Adult, Sports Romance, Contemporary
Note: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Sometimes holding on, impedes moving on.

First comes love, then comes marriage…
But before the ceremony could start, Porter’s world was knocked off it’s axis.
He fought for years to break down Asher’s walls, to see past her ghosts…but some ghosts may be too hard to fight.

Asher knew better than to believe she could keep her past in the past,
Keep the filth of who she was, from touching the Prescott family.
But as badly as she wants to keep Porter away
…she needs his family more.

What you see is what you get…
And even the most astute eyes can’t see the biggest ghost.

But sometimes holding on is the only choice you have.

Note: This is book two in a duet. Book one, Altercation, MUST be read prior to Holding.


Before I begin my review, I’m going to give you a little bit of background on the Playmaker Duet. It’s a duet, but it really contains four books. The first two books are prequel novellas. Trouble Maker is the first novella that introduces us to Porter. Asher’s novella is Breakaway. Both novellas provide information on Porter and Asher’s pasts and set up their introduction. The first book in the series, Altercation, is the beginning of their love story. Holding is second book and the conclusion of Asher and Porter’s romance. If you’re interested in reading the duet, you really need to read the first two novellas. The duet is also part of a larger series called Prescott Family. You don’t have to read the books in that series to read the duet, but they’re great books as well. Now, onto my review.

After finishing the first book in the Playmaker Duet I could not wait to read Holding. The cliffhanger at the end of Altercation shook me. I was on edge wondering what was next for Porter and Asher. I knew it was going to be a rough ride towards happily ever after for them, but I had no idea how much this book would break me.

Holding was absolutely heartbreaking. No character was left untouched. I felt horrible for both Asher and Porter. Their world was rocked in ways that destroyed them. I could empathize with both of them. Asher was struggling to accept what happened. Porter was trying to hold on to the life they had before. Their struggle felt so real and raw. I hated their moments of pain, but they made for a beautiful story of healing. And that’s what Holding was. It was a story of overcoming the past, accepting what was, and moving on. It was a story of letting go and trusting in love.

I loved every moment of Holding and all of the other books in the Playmaker DuetI highly recommend reading them all. Mignon Mykel has quickly become one of the authors I’m waiting on new releases from. I love her writing style and the characters she creates. Her books make me feel so many things. I cannot wait to see what she has in store for the next Prescott family member.

You can find my reviews for the rest of the Playmaker Duet here:

Troublemaker (Playmaker Duet, #0.5; Prescott Family, #2)
Breakaway (Playmaker Duet, #0.6; Prescott Family, #3)
Altercation (Playmaker Duet, #1; Prescott Family, #4)

Mini Reviews: Unraveled, Unrequited and Unwritten by Jen Frederick

I was finally able to finish my series binge of Jen Frederick’s Woodlands series this past week. Rather than post each review separately, I am going to post all three reviews at once. So, here we go!


Unraveled
Woodlands, #3
Publication Date: January 18, 2014

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Twenty-five-year-old Sgt. Gray Phillips is at a crossroads in his life: stay in the Marine Corps or get out and learn to be a civilian? He’s got forty-five days of leave to make up his mind but the people in his life aren’t making the decision any easier. His dad wants him to get out; his grandfather wants him to stay in. And his growing feelings for Sam Anderson are wreaking havoc with his heart…and his mind. He believes relationships get ruined when a Marine goes on deployment. So now he’s got an even harder decision to make: take a chance on Sam or leave love behind and give his all to the Marines.

Twenty-two year old Samantha Anderson lost her husband to an IED in Afghanistan just two months after their vows. Two years later, Sam is full of regrets—that she didn’t move with her husband to Alaska; that she allowed her friends to drift away; that she hasn’t taken many chances in life. Now, she’s met Gray and taking a risk on this Marine could be her one opportunity to feel alive and in love again. But how can she risk her heart on another military man who could share the same tragic fate as her husband?

My review:

I absolutely loved this military romance between an army widow and a Marine. There was so much depth to the story. It was all about healing and living the best life possible. I liked that it brought me back to the Woodlands, but wasn’t about one of the main guys who lived there. It gave the story a completely different feel than the rest of the series.

Sam was a really complex character. I could feel the two different sides of Sam. One side was an older Army widow who feelings of guilt and heartache. The other side was a twenty-two year-old young woman who wanted to be an adventurous young adult. Meeting Gray was the best thing that could have happened to her. I love the ability to heal being around him gave her. I loved Gray. He was a good guy with his own cross to bear. His wasn’t as hard as Sam’s, but it threw some great twists in their story.

Unspoken is still my favorite Woodlands book, but Unraveled is a close second. I can see the progression and improvement in Jen Frederick’s writing with each book.


Unrequited
Woodlands, #4
Publication Date: April 13, 2015

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Synopsis:

Winter Donovan loves two things: her sister and her sister’s ex boyfriend. She’s spent her whole life doing the right thing except that one time, that night when Finn O’Malley looked hollowed out by his father’s death. Then she did something very wrong that felt terribly right.

Finn can’t stop thinking about Winter and the night and he’ll do anything to make her a permanent part of his life, even if it means separating Winter from the only family she has.

Their love was supposed to be unrequited but one grief stricken guy and one girl with too big of a heart results in disastrous consequences.

My review:

I’m not the biggest fan of romances between a woman and her sister’s ex, but this one works. I think it helped that I didn’t like Ivy, Winter’s sister. She was a hag. The more I found about Ivy and Finn’s previous relationship, the more Winter’s relationship with Finn the less it bothered me.

Winter was a sweet young woman. She cared a lot about people. I really liked her and how she tried to put the good of her family first. I loved her when she grew a backbone and stood up for what she wanted. Finn was a cool guy. He’d had some tough blows in life, but he also did what was needed. I loved Winter and Finn together. Although, I did get tired of hearing about her nipples.

Overall, Unrequited was a fun read and strong addition to the Woodlands series.


Unwritten
Woodlands, #5
Publication Date: March 6, 2017

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Synopsis:

After years of trying to hit it big with his band, Adam Rees’ dream is finally about to come true. A new lead singer brings with him a hot tour invite, but with a catch—his sister has to come with them. Despite an off-limits edict, Adam is instantly attracted the smart and beautiful Landry. But if he wants to claim his woman, it might be at the expense of all his ambitions.

Landry Olsen has had success at every stage of her life, except when it comes to men. She’s put her heart on the shelf, but one look at Adam and she’s a goner. The hot rocker heats her from the inside out, and she wants him as much as he wants her. The only thing standing in their way of their happiness is Landry’s brother—she ruined his musical hopes before, and she won’t do it again. Even if it means saying no to the one guy who makes her believe in love again.

There’s no fruit more tempting than the forbidden kind…


I’ve read several rock star romances that are similar to Unwritten in the past year. It’s basically a tour bus romance. Unwritten stands out from the rest based on Jen Frederick’s awesome writing and the love I already had for Adam prior to reading this book.

What made Unwritten stand out from other rock star tour romances was Landry’s reason for being on tour with FMK. I won’t giveaway why she’s forced to go on tour with her brother and his band, but I thought it added a lot to the story. My favorite part of this book was getting to know Adam better. I didn’t know all the layers he had. It was interesting to hear what people in his industry thought of him and his past. I also really enjoyed the forbidden aspect of Adam and Landry’s relationship. It was a lot of fun and super hot!

The only thing I would have liked was if Adam and Landry spent more time in the Woodlands. The few glimpses I saw of the old gang were fun, but I need more of them and less of the new characters.


Overall, the Woodlands series is a really great read. You can find my reviews for the first two books by clicking on the links below.

Undeclared (Woodlands, #1) and Undressed (Woodlands, #1.5)
Unspoken (Woodlands, #2)

Review: Twist by Kylie Scott

Twist
Series: Dive Bar, #2
Author: Kylie Scott
Publication Date: April 11, 2017
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Note: I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Synopsis:

When his younger brother loses interest in online dating, hot, bearded, bartender extraordinaire, Joe Collins, only intends to log into his account and shut it down. Until he reads about her.

Alex Parks is funny, friendly, and pretty much everything he’s been looking for in a woman. And in no time at all they’re emailing up a storm, telling each other their deepest darkest secrets… apart from the one that really matters.

And when it comes to love, serving it straight up works better than with a twist.


First, I need to admit that when I started Twist it had been a while since I read the blurb. I had completely forgotten what it was supposed to be about. That completely worked in my favor. When Alex shows up in Idaho to the big surprise of Eric not being Eric but Joe, I was just as surprised as she was. I could feel her mortification. Her predicament was so embarrassing! I felt so bad for Alex, but I loved the big bang it created for the beginning of this romance.

I loved Joe, but I understood why Alex hung onto her anger at him. He could have been the handsomest man on the planet and he would have deserved a good punch. I’m just happy he had the opportunity to make things up to Alex. Joe was such a great guy, and they were so cute together.

I loved all of the other characters I met in Twist, too. They all had distinct personalities and funny quirks. It makes me excited to read more from this series. I can’t wait to see what’s next.

Twist was my first Kylie Scott book, but it won’t be my last. I truly enjoyed her writing style. The only thing I would have liked more in Twist was a dual point of view. It was written in first person from Alex’s perspective. I would have liked to know what Joe was thinking the entire time. Other than that, Twist was a very fun read. Contemporary romance fans are going to love it.

Review: Altercation by Mignon Mykel

Altercation
Series: Playmaker Duet, #1
Author: Mignon Mykel
Publication Date: March 21, 2017
Genre: New Adult, Sports Romance, Contemporary
Note: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Sometimes it’s the fight that proves your worth.

Porter Prescott spent years fighting to be his own person.
His goal of playing for a hockey club not associated with the Prescott name finally comes true.
But just as he’s leaving for the next chapter in his life, he meets her.

Asher Spence spent a lifetime learning she was worthless and unwanted.
She learned that sometimes the only person you can count on is yourself, and even then, you can fail.

What starts out as picture perfect can only come crumbling down.
No one listened to her pleas before,
Why should they listen to them now that she’s found a place to finally call home?

But sometimes, it’s the fight that takes you out of the game.

Note: This is book 1 of 2 in the Porter and Asher story. This does end with a cliffhanger that will be resolved in book 2, Holding.


I’ve been waiting to read Altercation ever since I finished its prequels, Troublemaker and Breakaway. (Click on the titles of the prequels for my reviews.) Getting to know Porter and Asher’s pasts was both heartbreaking and addicting. Their stories made me hunger for a happy ending for them both. I couldn’t wait to find out how Mignon Mykel was going to navigate their struggles and make them wind up together.

Altercation begins where the prequels end with Porter and Asher meeting. There’s an instant attraction between them, especially for Porter. He immediately picks up on the fact that Asher is more complicated than she’s letting on. That (along with the fact that he’s moving to another state for his hockey career) should deter the nineteen year old’s interested in her, but it instead makes him want to know more about Asher.

Asher is just as attracted to Porter, but she knows nothing will come of her attraction. She’s found a temporary family within Porter’s and she’s not willing to give up her newfound happiness and safety. Nor does Asher think she’ll be able to have the relationship with Porter he would expect. Despite her reservations, it doesn’t take long for Porter to convince Asher to give him a chance.

With each book I read from Mignon Mykel, I fall further and further in love with her writing and the love stories she crafts. Her first person dual points of view was amazing in Altercation. Porter and Asher had two very distinctive voices and their histories melded so well together. I also loved getting to see a little bit more of the large Prescott family — I hope I get books about each sibling!

Porter surprised me a lot in this book. I knew he was a great guy, but I wasn’t expecting the patience he had for a young man. He truly cared about Asher’s well-being and it made me love him even more. Porter created a slow burn romance with Asher and controlled himself better than any book boyfriend I’ve ever read. He was almost a saint.

Asher was the more complicated of the characters. Her story broke my heart, but I loved that it was Porter who helped her restore faith in life and love. Their relationship was adorable. I loved how Mignon Mykel made it span not just weeks or months, but years. It was the perfect progression for Asher and Porter’s love story.

Altercation was just as good as I was expecting it to be. Watching Porter and Asher falling in love was so sweet and satisfying. I loved the twists and turns to their story. I was shocked by the cliffhanger at the end, even though I knew it was coming. I can’t wait to find out what’s next for Porter and Asher in Holding.

Review: Temping the Billionaire by Jessica Lemmon

Tempting the Billionaire
Series: Love in Balance, #1
Author: Jessica Lemmon
Publication Date: January 1, 2013
Publisher: Forever
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

BUSINESS OR PLEASURE?

Crickitt Day needs a job . . . any job. After her husband walks out on her, she’s determined to re-build her life and establish a new career. When swoon-worthy billionaire Shane August hires her as his assistant, she jumps at the chance to prove herself. Despite her growing attraction to her boss, she vows to keep things strictly professional. No flirting. No kissing. Definitely no falling in love…

Shane August is all business, all the time. He’s a self-made man who’s poured his heart and soul into his company, and he’d never allow himself to get involved with an employee. Then he hires sweet, sexy Crickitt-and he can’t keep his mind or his hands off her. But no matter how much he wants Crickitt, Shane fears that painful secrets from his past will always come between them. With fate working against them, can these two lonely hearts learn that sometimes mixing business with pleasure is the perfect merger?


I buddy read Tempting the Billionaire with Debby. We both have a love of Jessica Lemmon books, so we decided to go back and read one of her original billionaire books. Make sure to check out her blog in the near future for her review. 🙂

Tempting the Billionaire was a standard contemporary romance. There wasn’t really anything to set it apart for me. It was good but not quite amazing. The writing was solid, but I found the story to be a little blah. I needed a little more drama or livelier characters to give it more life.

The entire book was filled with angst over whether or not Shane and Crickett would act on their attraction to each other. Both had reservations about falling into bed with the other. When they finally gave into their desires, neither was prepared for the outcome. Even though there was angst present almost the entire book, there was never quite the explosive drama I needed between Shane and Crickett. They both had their dramatic moments, but the biggest of them were apart, not together.

Crickett and Shane were both characters with a lot of potential. Crickett was recovering from a divorce that broke her confidence. She didn’t see herself as someone a successful billionaire like Shane would be attracted to. I could empathize with her feelings of inadequacy, but I didn’t get how she didn’t find value in the fact that she had run a successful business before working for Shane. Shane was a workaholic who had a successful business to show for it. His upbringing was rough, and he used that as an excuse to avoid relationships. I liked Crickett and Shane, but I didn’t fall in love with them the way I had hoped. I was actually more interested in what was going on between their friends than them.

I know this review has a negative feel to it, but I did enjoy reading Tempting the Billionaire. It was a nice, easy romance read. I probably would have loved it more if I hadn’t already read some of Jessica Lemmon’s newer novels. Her writing has progressed so much since this book. Her character and story development in her newer novels is amazing. This early work of hers was strong, and I would still recommend reading it. It would be a good place to start if you haven’t read any of her books yet.

Review: Unspoken by Jen Frederick

Unspoken
Series: Woodlands, #2
Author: Jen Frederick
Publication Date: September 3, 2013
Publisher: Jen Frederick
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Whore. Slut. Typhoid Mary.

I’ve been called all these at Central College. One drunken night, one act of irresponsible behavior, and my reputation was ruined. Guys labeled me as easy and girls shied away. To cope, I stayed away from Central social life and away from Central men, so why is it that my new biology lab partner is so irresistible to me?

He’s everything I shouldn’t want. A former Marine involved in illegal fighting with a quick trigger temper and an easy smile for all the women. His fists aren’t the danger to me, though, it’s his charm. He’s sliding his way into my heart and I’m afraid that he’s going to be the one to break me.

Impulsive. Unthinking. Hot tempered.

I allow instinct to rule my behavior. If it feels good, do it, has been my motto because if I spend too much time thinking, I’ll begin to remember exactly where I came from. At Central College, I’ve got fighting and I’ve got women and I thought I was satisfied until I met her.

She’s everything I didn’t realize I wanted and the more time I spend with her, the more I want her. But she’s been hurt too much in the past and I don’t want to be the one to break her. I know I should walk away, but I just can’t.


I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I started Unspoken. Undeclared (Woodlands, #1) was good, but it wasn’t as amazing as some of the newer Jen Frederick books I’ve read. I was hoping to connect more to the characters and the story in Unspoken. Happily, I did.

AnnMarie is all about avoiding Central College’s campus for everything except classes. She would rather keep her head down and avoid it all than face the gossipy stares and whispers about what a slut she is. It’s easy to keep her head down until she’s paired up with Bo as a chemistry partner. Bo is everything AnnMarie should avoid, but the sexy ex-Marine doesn’t make it easy. He’s determined to break down her walls and prove he’s worth taking a chance on.

Unspoken was exactly what I like in a new adult romance. It had moments of angst, a swoon worthy romance, and two characters who didn’t just fall in love but also found their inner strength. The first person dual point of view made it easy to connect with the characters. Each one had such a unique voice and experience.

AnnMarie was a tough chick. She was way tougher than she thought she was. I can’t imagine sticking around somewhere you knew you would be taunted. Her restraint around Bo was pretty amazing. I’m not sure I would have been able to hold on quite as long as she did around him. Bo was everything I hoped he would be after reading Undeclared. I loved the alpha male thing he had going on, and the way he went about breaking down AnnMarie’s walls. I loved how he gave her space when she needed it, but didn’t completely abandon her. He did an amazing job of proving himself.

Another thing I liked about Unspoken was the sexiness of it. It was incredibly hot. It was way sexier than the first book. That had a lot to do with the connection AnnMarie and Bo shared. It felt much more intimate and sensual than Noah and Grace’s. I loved it.

Unspoken has made me very excited to continue reading the Woodlands series. I can’t wait to see all of the guys fall in love. Now, if only my library hold of Unraveled would hurry up and come in!