Mini Reviews: Salt to the Sea & More Than Word

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

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

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

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

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

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

Review:

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


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

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

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

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

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

Review:

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

Review: What I Never Knew I Needed by C.L. Collier

What I Never Knew I Needed
Series: What I Never Knew, #3
Author: C.L. Collier
Publication Date: May 10, 2018
Publisher: C.L. Collier
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Divorced….

I never thought I would be checking this box as a life accomplishment. Apparently, my cheating husband had other plans and no longer wanted to uphold our vows. Life as I knew it will never be the same. Not only do I have to worry about how I will pick up the pieces for myself, but I have to help my son recover from the lies and deceit as well.

When my best friend Amanda asks me to go on a road trip to California, I jump at the chance to help her recover from the loss of her mom, as well as escape my own life in turmoil.

I finally decide to let loose and have a care-free night. Little do I know just how much that one magical night will change my world.


What I Never Knew I Needed is the third book in the What I Never Knew series. The first two books were about Amanda and Dex. This book is about their best friends, Laura and Chris. Laura and Chris’ relationship began when Amanda and Dex’s did. They meet at a bar, and their one night stand turns into more. Parts of their relationship are featured in the first two books, but only from Amanda and Dex’s perspectives. What I Never Knew I Needed starts back at the beginning for Chris and Laura and continues on. Some of the events are the same, but it’s like reading about them through new eyes. In my opinion, for that reason, What I Never Knew I Needed can either be read as part of the series or as a standalone.

I have to be honest. Before (and even during parts of) reading this book, I wondered how Chris and Laura’s relationship could ever work out. They live in two different states and both share children with their exes. Those are two HUGE hurdles no matter how much you want to be with someone. I was incredibly impressed with how C.L. Collier dealt with this issue. Her characters acted the way I would expect real people to act in this situation. Another thing I was impressed with was her solution to the problems Chris and Laura were facing. I never saw what she had planned coming!

The only thing I wasn’t sure if I liked was the other romantic interests that come into Chris and Laura’s lives when they’re not together. I understood why they were included. It made sense for them to look for love in their zip codes. Sometimes it was just more than I wanted to know about those relationships. If you don’t like reading about your main characters with other people, parts of this book might bother you.

What I Never Knew I Needed was my favorite book in the What I Never Knew series. I loved this second chance at love for Chris and Laura. It was such a sweet story. It was the perfect way to end the series. I have loved seeing C.L. Collier’s writing get better and better with each of these releases. It makes me excited to see what she has in store for us next.

Review: Take Me Back by Meghan March

Take Me Back
Author: Meghan March
Narrators: Andi Arndt, Zachary Webber
Publication Date: March 20, 2017
Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Genre: Romantic Suspense, Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

We fell in love on a beach, got married in paradise, and I carried her off into the sunset. It should have been perfect, but saying “I do” doesn’t guarantee a happily-ever-after.

Two years later, I barely recognize either of us behind the walls we’ve built.

It’s time to bring it full circle. Back to a tropical paradise. Back to find out if we can still make this work.

I’m not willing to give her up, but to save us, I have to risk everything.

Two damaged people.

Countless secrets.

The fight of our lives.

We might be broken, but we’re not done.


This winter I’ve been binge listening to Meghan March’s books. I love her writing style and the voices she gives her characters. I also love the narrators she uses for her audiobooks. Listening to them is such a joy.

That being said, most of the books I’ve read of March’s have been contemporary romances. Usually there is a little mystery involved, but it’s not one that’s super suspenseful. That’s one way Take Me Back differs from the previous books I’ve read. It had me on the edge of my seat for the majority of the book! I was surprised by how much I liked that. Normally, I’m not a big fan of romantic suspense plots, but it really worked in this book. I loved the entire plot!

Another way Take Me Back was different was the type of relationship featured. Cat and Dane were an established married couple. Their relationship had started to fall apart of the past year, and they were embarking on a vacation to try and salvage what was left of it. This was another good surprise. I liked how they each had things they needed to tell the other, and how they both wanted to make things work. It was refreshing to read about them both putting in the effort to make their marriage better.

These two difference made Take Me Back standout — not only among Meghan March’s many titles, but among contemporary romantic suspense novels. I loved listening to this book and I think other will really enjoy it, too.

Review: Love Songs & Other Lies by Jessica Pennington

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

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ 

Synopsis:

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

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


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

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

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

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

Series Review: The Bennetts by Kennedy Ryan

When I read my first KENNEDY RYAN book, I knew I was going to go back and read all of her other books. I was finally about to read her THE BENNETTS series. Rather than review them all separately, I am reviewing them all in this post.

When You Are Mine (Book1) and Loving You Always (Book 2)
Publication Dates: January 1, 2014
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

(I’m reviewing the first two books together because they’re basically one story.)

Synopsis #1:

Forever is a heartbeat away . . .

Kerris Moreton knows how to make things work. Bounced from foster home to foster home as a kid, she adapted; when opportunity arose, she thrived. Now, about to open her own business and accept a marriage proposal, Kerris is ready to build the life she’s always wanted. The only thing missing? A passionate connection with her would-be fiancé, Cam. Kerris wants to believe that sparks are overrated-until Walsh Bennett lights her up like the Fourth of July.

. . . but what about love?

As one of the East Coast’s most eligible bachelors, Walsh enjoys financial independence, fulfilling work with his family’s nonprofit, and plenty of female attention. But lately he’s been distracted by the one woman he can’t have. Lovely to look at and even sweeter to know, Kerris is the soul mate Walsh never thought he would find. The problem is, his best friend found her first . . .

Synopsis #2:

Kerris Moreton should be the happiest woman in the world: She has a successful business and is about to start the family she’s always wanted. But the man of her dreams-the one whose green eyes see straight into her soul and whose gentle hands make her body hum with pleasure-is not hers.

Each secret moment with Walsh Bennett serves to remind Kerris of what she’s missing. And every stolen hour makes it harder to see her future without him. But being with Walsh would betray a sacred promise and upend her perfect life. When tragedy strikes, the razor’s edge between love and loyalty grows sharper than ever. And Kerris must decide where her heart will fall . . .

REVIEW:

I’m not a big fan of love triangles (especially involving friends/family), so these two books aren’t my favorite Kennedy Ryan has written. I wanted Walsh and Kerris to end up together, but I felt really horrible for Cam. Even when he was being a not so good person, I felt like Cam was betrayed in terrible way. I liked how everything worked out in the end, but I still felt bad for Cam.

One thing I want to mention is that these books are written in third person unlike Ryan’s newer books. That wasn’t my favorite, but I was impressed that she was still able to put the same amount of emotions into her characters and their problems that way. Once I got used to the third person, I barely noticed it.

Overall, When You Are Mine and Loving You Always were good books. The love triangle was done is a way that didn’t leave me stressing out about who Kerris would end up with. Her path always felt right. I adored her, Walsh, and even Cam. I was happy to find out the next book is Cam and Jo’s.


Be Mine Forever (Book 3)
Publication Date: February 3, 2015
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Can a secret crush . . .

Jo Walsh has loved Cameron Mitchell for as long as she can remember. Whether front and center in her life or on the periphery, the tall, brooding artist has made his presence seductively and irresistibly known. But whenever they start to get close, Cam pulls away. Jo’s tired of keeping her feelings in a box Cam is afraid to open. If he wants her, he’ll have to prove it. And if he doesn’t, Jo will need to know the real reason why . . .

. . . become the love of a lifetime?

How do you walk away from your soul mate? Cam wishes he knew. No matter how far he runs from Jo, he can’t resist looking back at the silver eyes that seem to see right through him. But as well as Jo thinks she understands Cam, the dark truth about his past is something she shouldn’t have to handle. Cam’s sure that setting Jo free is the right thing to do. Too bad his heart has other ideas . . .

REVIEW:

I’m still not a fan of the third person, but Be Mine Forever is classic Kennedy Ryan. It’s deep, dark, gritty, and emotional. It’s also sweet. Despite being kind of a jerk, Cam has a heart of gold. He doesn’t want to drag anyone into his problems, especially someone as special to him as Jo. I loved how he let his guard down with her eventually. Cam had some tough things to overcome and I loved that Jo was such a great support. Jo was such a kind hearted person as well as a strong, determined woman. I loved Cam and Jo together. I loved this book.


Until I’m Yours (Book 4)
Publication Date: February 2, 2016
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

The world knows her face . . .

Mean girl. Goddess. Bitch. Supermodel Sofie Baston has earned those labels . . . yet they don’t scratch the surface of who she really is. Before she can follow her own dreams, Sophie must do her daughterly duty and reel in a “fish” for her father’s business-a tall, brown-eyed entrepreneur who immediately hooks her. He’s a big guy with an even bigger heart . . . but will that heart be open to Sofie once her darkest secret is revealed?

. . . but only one man knows her heart

To Trevor Bishop, Sofie is a beautiful mystery he would gladly spend his life solving. He figures her tough demeanor is armor against a world that’s hurt her too many times. Then Sofie’s deepest wounds are reopened by the powerful, ruthless man who made them. When she musters the courage to take him down, her world shatters. Now Trevor is determined to help Sofie pick up the pieces so they can build a future together. The challenge will be convincing his ice princess that it’s safe to melt in his arms . . .

REVIEW:

This was my favorite book in the series! I’m really surprised because I was not a fan of Sofie from the first two books. She was really horrible, and I found it hard to think she could redeem herself. Getting to know the real Sofie made me fall in love with her. She was as mean as she seemed, but how she ended up being that way made a lot of sense. It also helped that Sofie also had a big heart. Sofie just needed to be loved. She found a special connection with Trevor. I loved him and how he supported her. I’m happy she got a sweet, but emotional story.

Another reason this was my favorite book was because it was in first person!!! The past three books were in third person. It was so much easier to connect with Sofie in this one because of the first person narration. Thank goodness Kennedy Ryan switched things up. I loved seeing how her writing evolved from the first book to the last.


Overall, I enjoyed reading The Bennetts. It was an emotionally charged series. That made it hard to binge read at times, but I’m happy I did. I loved seeing the evolution of the characters throughout the entire series. I also loved seeing Kennedy Ryan’s writing grow.

**One thing I do feel the need to point out is that this series may have some big TRIGGERS for some people. Three of the main characters in this series were raped in the past, so each book has something about that. (You might think that would make the books feel redundant, but it surprisingly didn’t.)

Review: The World’s Worst Boyfriend by Erika Kelly

From award-winning author Erika Kelly comes her brand new, smoking hot series about four elite athlete brothers raised in the Tetons by their eccentric, billionaire dad and uncle, The Bad Boyfriend Series! Don’t miss your chance to meet the sexy and extreme Fin Bowie in THE WORLD’S WORST BOYFRIEND! Order your copy today!

Six years ago Fin Bowie made a decision that cost him the love of his life. Now his ex is coming back to town for her brother’s wedding, and he can finally make things right. Except, right before the event, a text he sent goes viral. Overnight, he becomes an international meme. And it’s hard to win your woman back when the whole world’s calling you The World’s Worst Boyfriend.

The last thing on Calliope Bell’s mind is getting back with Fin. Not when her life’s just gone sideways, forcing her to spend the summer in Calamity, Wyoming. She can’t be away from the New York art world this long, so she comes up with the idea to turn the hottest pop culture event of the moment into a museum exhibition.

The two have every intention of avoiding each other–until the county judge sentences Fin to community service…helping her exploit the meme he’s trying to make go away.

Order THE WORLD’S WORST BOYFRIEND in ebook or paperback, releasing 4/3/18

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REVIEW:

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

The World’s Worst Boyfriend was a second chance romance between childhood sweethearts. Fin and Callie broke up when their lives took different directions after high school. Both were left shattered. Fin escaped through spending time with winter sports and his snowboard. Callie ran off to New York to become an artist and reinvented herself. When they both arrive back home years later for Callie’s brother’s wedding, seeing each other sends their worlds into a tailspin.

What I loved most about The World’s Worst Boyfriend was plot. I’m a sucker for second chance romances, and this one was a lot of fun. I loved how the whole meme that got Fin into trouble ended up pulling Callie and Fin closer together. I loved reading the letters people replied to the meme with. They were sad, but funny in a way. I just thought the whole set up of this story was cool.

Fin was my favorite character in this story. Yes, he made some pretty big mistakes, but he never seemed to do it out malice. He was a nice guy who had a lot to learn. I loved the way he didn’t give up on Callie. Callie wasn’t my favorite at first. She was just a little too shut down for me. That made her character seem snobby. The longer she spent at home, the more I liked her, though. I ended up loving Callie and Fin together.

Another thing I loved — the ending! It was a shocking cliffhanger!!! I really can’t wait to read the next book. I need it now!

I do have to admit their were a couple of things kept me from giving this book five stars. First, the pace was slower than I would have liked. I felt like I was struggling through it at a couple of points, which was weird because Erika Kelly is an amazing writer and I liked the story. Second, it was written in third person. Erika Kelly can pull off third person narration like no other, but in this situation it made it harder to connect with the characters.

Overall, The World’s Worst Boyfriend was a cute romance with a fun story line and a cast of characters I’m excited to read more about.

Erika Kelly’s THE WORLD’S WORST BOYFRIEND – Review & Excerpt Tour Schedule:

March 26th

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Book Magic – Under a spell with every page – Review & Excerpt

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Books According to Abby – Review & Excerpt

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About Erika Kelly:

Award-winning author Erika Kelly has been spinning romantic tales all her life–she just didn’t know it. Raised on the classics, she didn’t discover romantic fiction until later in life. From that moment on, she’s been devouring the genre and has found her true voice as an author. Over three decades she’s written poems, screenplays, plays, short stories, and all kinds of women’s fiction novels. Married to the love of her life and raising four children, she’s lived in two countries and seven states, but give her pen and paper, a stack of good books, and a steaming mug of vanilla chai latte and she can make her home anywhere.

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Review: Wanderlust by Lauren Blakely

One fiery American woman and one hot British guy? The language of love knows no boundaries…

From #1 NYT Bestselling author Lauren Blakely, comes the hot, new romance guaranteed to sweep you away while scorching the sheets, WANDERLUST! A brand new, sinfully sexy romance, WANDERLUST is now available on all retailers! Get your copy delivered now!

✮✮✮WANDERLUST is here! Grab your copy today! ✮✮✮

From #1 NYT bestselling author Lauren Blakely comes a sexy new standalone romance!

The first time I met him, his sexy British accent almost talked me into giving him my number on the spot. The second time, he nearly charmed the panties off me with his wit. Then I learned he’s the key to success in my new job in Paris. The man who tempts me into fling-worthy dirty daydreams has turned out to be my personal translator, and his accent is the hottest thing I’ve ever heard.

My mantra is simple — Don’t mix business with pleasure.

I do my best to resist him as he teaches me how to converse with my co-workers, navigate the metro and order the perfect bottle of wine at dinner. But I also figure out how to tell the charming and clever man what I most want to say — that I want him to take me back to his flat — tonight.

Except there’s a catch…

***

One more assignment before I take off on my big adventure…

And it involves the toughest work ever — resisting the fetching American woman I spend all my days with. But you know what they say about best intentions. Soon, we’re spending our nights tangled together, and I don’t want to let her go. The trouble is, my wanderlust is calling to me, and before we know it I’ll be traveling the globe to fulfill a promise I made long ago.

What could possibly go wrong with falling in love in Paris? Nothing…unless one of you is leaving.

ORDER YOUR COPIES HERE!

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REVIEW:

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

Wanderlust was an experience I adored. I didn’t feel like I was simply reading a romance novel, but that I was frolicking through Paris with Joy and Griffin. I could almost smell the fragrances, taste the delightful food, hear Parisians speaking French, and imagine I was seeing all of the sights they were experiencing. That’s how wonderful Lauren Blakely’s writing was in Wanderlust. She brought the Paris experience to me.

Not only did I adore the experience of reading Wanderlust, I also loved Joy and Griffin’s romance. Joy was a woman living life for herself after a tough couple of years. She was living her dream, and just happened to find the perfect person to do that with. Griffin’s motivations for living life in Paris were different from Joy’s but just as important to living his life to the fullest. Neither had any desire to find their perfect match, but fate brought them together. Their relationship (and their shared experience in Paris) was magical.

If you’re a fan of romances involving travel or ones set outside the U.S., you will want to read Wanderlust. It made me want to travel to Paris and experience everything Joy and Griffin did.

Excerpt:

~JOY~

Forget oysters. Screw candlelight and champagne. A sexy accent is the truest aphrodisiac. I’m talking a weak-in-the-knees, flutters-all-over, fast-track to euphoria.

I’ve tried to analyze precisely why the sound of a man’s words can elicit this reaction in, frankly, millions of women. But when I break down an accent and study it like a chemical reaction, it’s nearly impossible to draw a logical conclusion. The ingredients in and of themselves don’t seem swoontastic enough.

And yet, accents have been known to induce major swooning.

That’s why, in my professional opinion, the sounds aren’t the rocket fuel for the tingles. Instead, it’s the associations evoked. Italian is food, wine, and days drenched in the pleasures of the senses. Australian is the laid-back twang of a surfer. A Southern drawl says a man will take his sweet time. Oh, yes, darlin’, will he ever.

But British? Dear God. A delicious British accent to my oh-so-American ears triggers wave after wave of goose bumps across my skin. My knees wobble. My stomach swoops. My skin heats. All the turned-on centers in my body are cranked to high.

A British accent is James Bond in a bottle. It’s sex, it’s style, it’s sophistication, and it’s the man who’ll find his way out of any jam, save the damsel, and do it all with silver cuff links on.

Wait. Make that platinum.

Charmed, indeed.

That’s why I say it’s a damn good thing I’m moving to a country that won’t be chock full of my personal vocal kryptonite, since I don’t have the time or inclination for distractions in my life right now. Look, I don’t have a single problem with the French accent whatsoever. A hot French man can voulez-vouscoucher avecmoi, if you know what I mean.

But it’s a British accent that turns me to Silly Putty, so in Paris I’ll be mighty fine.

Then, I meet him.

✦The audiobook is narrated by Richard Armitage and Grace Grant! ✦
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 “Wanderlust is the love story to end all! I laughed, cried, dreamed, and hoped. To say I was transfixed by this story is to underrate its power. I am a romantic at heart and this book spoke to me like no other.”
-Gloria Herrera for As You Wish Reviews

“Packed with flirty banter, a slow-building, yet scorching hot romance, and characters that are enchanting, voracious, and delightfully unreserved, Wanderlust is a hopelessly romantic, heart-meltingly sweet love story from Lauren Blakely.”
-Yvette for Nose Stuck in a Book

“Loved this! Wanderlust is a delightful and utterly romantic read.”
-ShawnaLovesRomance

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About Lauren Blakely:

A #1 New York Times Bestselling author, and #1 Wall Street Journal Bestselling author, Lauren Blakely is known for her contemporary romance style that’s hot, sweet and sexy. She lives in California with her family and has plotted entire novels while walking her dogs. With fourteen New York Times bestsellers, her titles have appeared on the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestseller Lists more than 90 times, and she’s sold more than 2.5 million books. In March she’ll release WANDERLUST, a sexy new standalone romance. To receive an email when Lauren releases a new book, sign up for her newsletter! laurenblakely.com/newsletter

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Review: What I Never Knew by C.L. Collier

What I Never Knew
Series: What I Never Knew, #1
Author: C.L. Collier
Publication Date: March 15, 2018
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

I told myself I was done with men. After a string of bad relationships, then the devastation of losing my mom to cancer, I knew life would never be the same.

Losing my mom was hard enough, but finding out she had lied to me my entire life has rocked me to the core. Even still, I carry out her last wishes and return to her hometown in California.

I was expecting to learn about my mom’s life and extended family, but of course, it’s never that simple. My world changes when I meet Dax, and he makes me question everything.

I have to return home to Seattle, but I also have to make a choice. I swore I was done with relationships and I was happy being single, but there’s something about Dax that I don’t want to leave behind.


I am very excited and proud to introduce to you a new author today. Her name is CL Collier, and I have a feeling her name is one you’ll be hearing in upcoming years. CL and I went to school together during our teen years. She’s someone I’ve reconnected with as an adult over Facebook by noticing we have some favorite authors in common. When I learned she was writing a novel, I wanted to read it.

Normally, I would be super hesitant to read a book by an author I grew up with. There’s always that niggling feeling in the back of your head saying, “What if I don’t like it?” I didn’t have that hesitation with CL’s book. I think that love of the same authors thing gave me faith in her ability to tell a story I would like to hear. My instincts totally paid off because I really enjoyed What I Never Knew.

What I Never Knew was the story of woman discovering her mother’s past after her death. Thirty-eight year old Amanda was incredibly close to her mother prior to her death. When a journal her mother wrote for Amanda is given to her after her mother’s death, Amanda is shocked to find out her mother had a secret past. Determined to get to know her mother better, Amanda departs on a journey to her mother’s hometown. Her mother’s past isn’t the only thing that awaits Amanda on her journey. Amanda might just find love when she least expects it.

Like I said above, I really enjoyed What I Never Knew. For a first novel, the writing was impressive. I’ve read first novels where the writing felt bogged down or not as smooth as a seasoned author. I didn’t feel that way with What I Never Knew. I was pleased at how quickly I was pulled into Amanda’s story, and how well it flowed.

Amanda was an interesting character. She was a single woman who taught for a living. She wasn’t pining over finding a man or having a family. The only disappointment Amanda felt was of losing her mother. Even in grief, Amanda was a strong woman. I loved that she was content in her life the way it was. I also loved the curiosity she had regarding her mother’s previous life. I could really identify with that. There’s so much we never know about our own parents.

Dax was actually my favorite character in What I Never Knew. For some reason, I really loved reading from his perspective. It was a little more relaxed than Amanda’s. I could understand her pull to him by reading his thoughts and actions. He swept me off my feet while he was sweeping Amanda off hers.

One of my favorite things about What I Never Knew were the friendships in it. Amanda had an amazing support system. Laura and Krista were so different, but each had a role in Amanda’s life. They lifted her up when she needed it, and she did the same for them. I loved reading their shared experiences. It made me think of my own special, lifelong friendships.

I only had a couple of little frustrations with What I Never Knew. First, I would have loved for Amanda’s mom’s secrets to be even more juicy, even more salacious. They were good, but I wanted more drama. Maybe I just needed the secrets to be described even more. Second, I felt for a minute like I missed a turning point in Dax and Amanda’s relationship. Amanda reacted to something heavily, and it caught me off guard. I don’t know if it was something I personally missed or if things just jumped in time and circumstance faster than I was prepared for.

Another thing I wasn’t prepared for was the ending! It was great! I was so shocked! I didn’t expect it to end when it did or in the way it did. What I Never Knew definitely left me hungering for more! I’m so excited to find out where this story goes in the next book!

What I Never Knew was a great début novel. If you’re a fan of women’s fiction with a heavy dose of romance, What I Never Knew would be right up your alley. CL Collier’s storytelling reminds me a bit of Kristan Higgins’ newer novels or somewhat of Kristin Hannah’s early novels about family relationships and love. It was filled with love, friendship, and family.

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Review: Two Wedding Crashers by Meghan Quinn

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AMAZON US | AMAZON UK | AMAZON CA | AMAZON AU

I don’t know what love is anymore.

Well, that’s not entirely true, but I’m going to tell you a little secret: I’ve lost the spark.

You know the kind of spark I’m talking about?

Where butterflies take flight in your stomach from two hands innocently colliding. Or catching your breath when you first meet someone attractive. Yeah, that spark.

Except I haven’t felt that feeling in forever; there is nothing left inside of me.

Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem–but I’m a writer on a serious deadline, and my editor is breathing down my neck for a romantic, Nicholas Sparks type love story. No pressure, right?

That’s how I find myself flying across the country to crash a wedding in the name of research, dress and heels stuffed into my small suitcase.

It should be the easiest book research ever. Drinking some free champagne, basking in the love of two strangers, and tapping into my romantic side. That will be a breeze. I’m a pro. I can handle this.

Until I mistakenly end up in the wrong hotel room, naked as the day I was born, with the sexiest human I have ever met staring me down, wondering what I’m doing taking a shower in his bathroom. I don’t think calling it research will get me out of this pickle.

MY REVIEW

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

Well hello, Beck!

It pains me to admit this, but Beck was my least favorite character from Three Blind Dates. I didn’t connect with him at all. In fact, I thought he was kind of douche-y in a weird way. Everything about his time with Noely was overly sexual, and I just didn’t love it. After finishing that book, I wasn’t sure how I was going to like reading a book about him.

Surprise, surprise. I LOVED BECK. Seriously! Where did this guy come from? I saw teeny tiny remnants of the guy I met in Three Blind Dates, but this Two Wedding Crashers Beck was a whole different person. Or maybe it was just because I got his point of view this time and was able to fall in love with him. I don’t know, but Beck was a charmer! He still had a sketchy past, but the man he was now was simply amazing. He was so humorous and kind. I really, really adored him.

Another person I adored? Rylee. Meghan Quinn could not have written a better match for Beck. Rylee was a romance author who was sassy, sweet, and funny. She had this hesitancy to put herself out there and try things. I loved how Beck challenged her to broaden her horizons.

Beck and Rylee’s adventures together were nothing short of hilarious. They had some of the best banter I’ve read in romance. I can’t tell you how many times I found myself laughing out loud. (That wedding scene! OMG!) It truly felt like Beck and Rylee connected on both a mental and physical level.

The side characters were all hilariously fabulous in Two Wedding Crashers. I couldn’t decide whose friends I loved more, Beck’s or Rylee’s. They were all over the top and provided entertainment beyond just the main couple’s story. I’m really hoping the characters who popped up in Rylee’s hometown get some books of their own because I’m so curious about them!

I know I’ve been gushing about Two Wedding Crashers this entire review, but I can’t help it. I just loved it so dang much! It blew away my expectations for it. You guys, you really need to read this book!

EXCERPT

Chills scream their way down my arms and legs, my nipples pucker, and just like that, with one word, all humor vanishes from our little conversation and awareness of this all-consuming man wrapped around me hits me hard.

Gathering myself, I say, “Tell me something Chris and Justine know about you.”

“Hmm.” His thumbs hook under the waistband of my shorts, playing with the lower part of my hipbones. His touch spurs on my pelvis, needing to rock, begging for him to go lower. My toes curl in my sandals and my back slightly arches, reaching for more. “Something they know about me.”

His mouth doesn’t stray from its position against my ear, and his hips start to slowly move underneath me, his legs tangling with mine. Involuntarily, one of my hands hooks the back of his neck as I hold on tightly to him, feeling like I need support from the onslaught of sensation I’m feeling.

I hear him say something, but it doesn’t register in my brain, which has turned to mush as his thumbs stray from my hipbones to right above my pubic bone.

There is no denying how turned on I am, how wet I am from his mere touch, how much—despite my reservations—I want this man.

With each stroke, my head turns farther and farther to the side until our noses are touching, Beck’s head bends forward to meet me halfway. My eyes flutter shut for a brief moment before I open them and am captured by those flecks of green and gold.

The air stills around us, our breath mixing, swirling between us, our lips so close.

One swipe of this thumb.

Another one.

I can’t breathe.

I can’t focus.

Another swipe, my head leans even closer, my tongue wetting my lips.

One more swipe . . .

My heart hammers in my chest, my skin prickling with awareness.

Beck brings his mouth even closer, only a whisper away now, and he waits.

Holding still.

His breathing feeling erratic beneath me.

One.

More.

Swipe.

And I’m gone.

I bring my mouth to his, slowly parting my lips ever so slightly, just enough to maneuver my mouth across his.

A low, provocative moan escapes Beck as one of his hands snags the back of my head and holds me in place, almost as if he lets go, I’ll disappear.

Needing more, I shift on his lap so I’m straddling him once again, my hands on his bare chest, feeling the powerful sinew that holds him together.

Our lips press and mold, mingling, taking, begging . . .

Desperate.

Beck’s tongue runs against my bottom lip, eliciting a moan from deep within me, lighting a fire so hot, so wild, my hands start to travel up his neck to his cheeks where I grip him, positioning his head so when I open my mouth, I can expertly dive my tongue onto his.

He groans, his lap shifting against mine now, his hard-on pressing against my wet and throbbing center. I match his rocking, using my position on his lap to take advantage of his length I can feel through his board shorts.

This is exactly what I didn’t want to happen, but God, am I happy it has. Maybe I really should live in the moment, maybe I should take advantage of the opportunity, maybe I should…

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Born in New York and raised in Southern California, Meghan has grown into a sassy, peanut butter eating, blonde haired swearing, animal hoarding lady. She is known to bust out and dance if “It’s Raining Men” starts beating through the air and heaven forbid you get a margarita in her, protect your legs because they may be humped.

Once she started commuting for an hour and twenty minutes every day to work for three years, she began to have conversations play in her head, real life, deep male voices and dainty lady coos kind of conversations. Perturbed and confused, she decided to either see a therapist about the hot and steamy voices running through her head or start writing them down. She decided to go with the cheaper option and started writing… enter her first novel, Caught Looking.

Now you can find the spicy, most definitely on the border of lunacy, kind of crazy lady residing in Colorado with the love of her life and her five, furry four legged children, hiking a trail or hiding behind shelves at grocery stores, wondering what kind of lube the nervous stranger will bring home to his wife. Oh and she loves a good boob squeeze!

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Review: Still Me by Jojo Moyes

Still Me
Series: Me Before You, #3
Author: Jojo Moyes
Narrator: Anna Acton
Publication Date: January 23, 2018
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Women’s Fiction, Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Louisa Clark arrives in New York ready to start a new life, confident that she can embrace this new adventure and keep her relationship with Ambulance Sam alive across several thousand miles. She is thrown into the world of the superrich Gopniks: Leonard and his much younger second wife, Agnes, and a never-ending array of household staff and hangers-on. Lou is determined to get the most out of the experience and throws herself into her job and New York life within this privileged world.

Before she knows what’s happening, Lou is mixing in New York high society, where she meets Joshua Ryan, a man who brings with him a whisper of her past. In Still Me, as Lou tries to keep the two sides of her world together, she finds herself carrying secrets–not all her own–that cause a catastrophic change in her circumstances. And when matters come to a head, she has to ask herself Who is Louisa Clark? And how do you reconcile a heart that lives in two places?


I read Me Before You when it was released. It was the first book I read that made me question some of my beliefs. It really hit me hard, and I was so excited to hear the series would continue with After You. After You was…well, it was a rough read. It was full or mourning and devastation. It was uncomfortable and nothing like Me Before You. I didn’t feel inspired after reading it, BUT (and that’s a big but) the end left me curious. It left me believing there was more in store for Louisa Clark. That brings me to Still Me.

Still Me was a pleasant surprise. Louisa was back to that original Louisa from Me Before You. She’s got her groove back — even if it is still an awkward, fumbling sort of groove. Louisa’s in a new country with new employers trying to figure out where she fits in. She’s trying to keep her relationship with Sam going from a distance while meeting new people and forming new bonds. I loved the Louisa in Still Me. I loved how she approached her new life. She made me a little crazy at times, but I understood each decision she made. Her journey in Still Me was very special.

My favorite thing about this book was that Louisa’s story went full circle. It felt she finally hit her stride and got to be the person she was meant to be. Her life might have been a rollercoaster from the very beginning, but it was one that ended with my smile when I closed the book. Jojo Moyes did right by Louisa and I felt so happy to have experienced all of her ups and downs in Still Me and the entire Me Before You series.