Release Day Review: The Hard Count by Ginger Scott

Welcome to THE HARD COUNT review
tour with Ginger Scott, hosted by Wordsmith Publicity. Be sure to check out all
the participating blogs, reviews and enter the tour giveaway!

THE HARD COUNT
Mature YA Contemporary Romance-Stand Alone
Release Date: July 15, 2016
PURCHASE LINKS
 SYNOPSIS:
Nico Medina’s world is eleven miles away from mine. During the day, it’s a place where doors are open—where homes are lived in, and neighbors love. But when the sun sets, it becomes a place where young boys are afraid, where eyes watch from idling cars that hide in the shadows and wicked smoke flows from pipes.
West End is the kind of place that people survive. It buries them—one at a time, one way or another. And when Nico was a little boy, his mom always told him to run.
I’m Reagan Prescott—coach’s daughter, sister to the prodigal son, daughter in the perfect family.
Life on top.
Lies.
My world is the ugly one.
Private school politics and one of the best high school football programs in
the country can break even the toughest souls. Our darkness plays out in
whispers and rumors, and money and status trump all. I would know—I’ve watchedit kill my family slowly, strangling us for years.
In our twisted world, a boy from West End is the only shining light.
Quarterback.
Hero.
Heart.
Good.
I hated him before I
needed him.
I fell for him fast.
I loved him when it was almost too late.
When two ugly worldscollide, even the strongest fall. But my world…it hasn’t met the boy from West End.
REVIEW:

  ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Wow. Just wow.

I’ve been devouring Ginger Scott’s books ever since some Goodreads friends recommended them. I love each and every one of them. They all have something special, something I connect with. I always have a hard time picking my favorite, but The Hard Count has taken that problem away. It is officially my favorite Ginger Scott book. Let me tell you why.

When I first picked up the book, I knew I was in for something epic. Private school dynamics, football tradition, different sides of town, a forbidden love, a narrator who is behind the scenes of it all…It had the makings of a timeless love story.

As always, Ginger Scott’s writing was flawless, captivating and filled with heart. Her characters were complex and the situations they dealt with were relevant to today’s world.

Reagan was that easily forgettable girl everyone knew of in high school, but didn’t really know. She wasn’t popular or unpopular. She was just kind of around, taking everything in. Even after finishing the story, all I can remember about her looks was her long hair, pale skin and freckles. It was perfect. What stood out about her was her “voice”. I loved seeing the people, football, school, Nico –the world —  through her eyes. Despite her upbringing, or maybe because of it, she challenged who she was told she was supposed to be. I could identify with her struggle to be seen.

“I’m willing to go the distance,” he repeats. “No matter how far that is.”

Nico was one of those poor kids from the bad part of town you see overcoming adversity and making something of themselves on the local news. He was handsome, determined, nice and a good kid. He knew how to play “the game” by his own rules. I loved the respect he constantly showed throughout the story. Can I add him to my book boyfriend list since he’s 18? I feel kind of creepy, but man, he was so dang sweet and mature.

Arguing with him was always so easy. This — this is hard. The quiet. It’s too honest.

I loved how Nico and Reagan’s relationship slowly evolved throughout the story. They started out as competitors who didn’t necessarily like each other. Reagan took a chance asking Nico for help and it shifted their entire relationship. Their connection was so sweet. It was one of those high school sweetheart relationships you hope will last a lifetime.

The story didn’t just star Nico and Reagan, though. Every supporting character in this story was important and played into the social and political setting of the story. The ones that stood out the most were the Prescott and Medina family members.

Reagan’s entire family was submersed in the local football culture. Their lives revolved around a culture based on money, power and success. They all dealt with the pressure differently, but every decision each member made affected the entire family. The dynamics between them couldn’t have been more perfect.

Nico’s family life was vastly different from Reagan’s. They may have been in survival mode, but their relationships were stronger and closer. They did the best they could, while working for something better. Their lives weren’t about football, but family.

“Reagan, your world…Nico’s world…same fuckin’ world. You come from different parts, but who cares? You meet in the middle.”

The social politics of this story were right on and so important to today’s culture. I really respected the care with which Ginger Scott spotlighted the problems and prejudices so many face. Her message was clear and rang true. It made me stop and think about how I can change my initial perceptions.

Oh, and I can’t leave out the football part of this story! Ginger Scott’s love and understanding of the sport were apparent in this book. I’m not a huge football fan and I honestly didn’t know what a hard count was before reading this, but I enjoyed reading the plays on the field.

Normally, I’m addicted to a story and on a rush to the end to find out what happens. This one I had to slow down and savor. I knew I wasn’t going to want it to end. I didn’t want it to end. I’m just in awe of this book, this story. The heart that it had. I absolutely loved it. I can’t name one thing wrong with it.

That’s why I loved it and why you need to read it.

(Just in case you’re curious about the whole “mature” YA book thing, I can verify there is no actual sex. There’s a partial nudity scene, but it’s tamer than some other YA books I’ve read. It did have a more mature feel to it, though. I would probably say it’s best for ages 16+.)

  
GIVEAWAY
1 signed copy of In Your Dreams, $10 Amazon gift card
Open International

 

 

ABOUT GINGER SCOTT:

Ginger Scott is an
Amazon-bestselling and Goodreads Choice Award-nominated author of several young
and new adult romances, including Waiting on the Sidelines, Going Long, Blindness, How We Deal With Gravity, This Is Falling, You and Everything After, The Girl I Was Before, Wild Reckless, Wicked Restless and In Your Dreams.
A sucker for a good romance, Ginger’s other passion is sports, and she
often blends the two in her stories. (She’s also a sucker for a hot quarterback, catcher, pitcher, point guard…the list goes on.) Ginger has been writing and editing for newspapers, magazines and blogs for more than 15 years. She has told the stories of Olympians, politicians, actors, scientists, cowboys, criminals and
towns. For more on her and her work, visit her website at http://www.littlemisswrite.com.
When she’s not writing, the odds are high that she’s somewhere near a baseball diamond, either watching her son field pop flies like Bryce Harper or cheering on her favorite baseball team, the Arizona Diamondbacks. Ginger lives in Arizona and is married to her college sweetheart whom she met at ASU (fork ’em, Devils).

CONNECT WITH GINGER:
Website:  http://bit.ly/1M8g5bi
Facebook:  http://on.fb.me/1U7lDvQ
Twitter: http://bit.ly/1TBkPPT
Pinterest: http://bit.ly/YHKtlF
YouTube:  http://bit.ly/1RcfgqZ
Google:  http://bit.ly/1Rcfjmt
Goodreads: http://bit.ly/1QKNuyr

 

 

 

Blog Tour Review & Giveaway: One Week to Score by Kate Meader

One Week To Score Banner

One Week to Score

by Kate Meader
Tall, Dark, Texan #3
Publication Date: July 11, 2016
Genres: Adult, Entangled Brazen, Contemporary, Romance

One Week to Score Cover

Purchase: Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | B&N | iBooks | Kobo

Synopsis: He’s the man she loves to hate . . .

Olivia Kane’s wedding day has just imploded spectacularly. Shots lined up at the bar? Bring it. Hot stranger on the hook? Come on down. What this party does not need is six feet and change of home-grown Texas cockiness in the form of her brother’s best friend, the man who broke her heart seven years ago.

She’s the woman he has to have . . .

Flynn Cross won’t stand by while Liv finds sensual solace in the arms of a stranger, not when his own hard-for-her body is more than up for the task. For one week, he’ll make her honeymoon-for-one a sizzling party for two.

Breaking the rules, one steamy night at a time . . .

But the taboo they’re breaking is only the beginning . . . and Flynn’s part in Liv’s wedding debacle could bring about their end.

goodreads-badge-add-38px

Review:

 ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

I truly enjoyed reading One Week to Score! The writing was very sensual and captivating. The story hooked me from the beginning and the book was over before I knew it. I loved how it started out with Liv nursing her troubles away and Flynn showing up to rescue her. All the little unknowns of their past sprinkled through the first half of the book kept me curious about their separate and combined pasts.

I loved the dynamic between Liv and Flynn. Their banter was so fun and lively. Liv had a love-hate relationship with her older brother’s best friend. Flynn had hurt her in the past and was the last person she wanted to save her from problems. Flynn had so many reasons why he shouldn’t act on his feelings for Liv, but he saw his chance and couldn’t stay away from her. He wanted to show her he was the right person for her, even if it was only for a week. They both had family dynamics that shaped their thoughts and feelings about themselves and each other. I loved when they let their guard down and went for it. Their sexual chemistry was scorching! I spent a lot of time fanning myself. 😉

My one small complaint about the story was the obscurity of Liv and Flynn’s relationship at the beginning of the book. I loved their emails in the Prologue, but felt like something was missing between it and Chapter One. I was just confused by the nature of their friendship/relationship and it’s demise for longer than I wanted to be. Liv’s reasons for hating Flynn didn’t really make sense to me for much of the book. I would have liked to have known more of their past earlier.

One Week to Score is a really steamy, fun read. I really liked Kate Meader’s writing style. It’s first book I’ve read in the Tall, Dark and Texan series, but it won’t be the last. I’m really looking forward to going back and finding out more about Liv’s brother and his girlfriend.

Excerpt:

When he didn’t hand over the towel as requested, just stood there gamely holding Liv’s gaze instead of dipping it over her nakedness like any other man with a pulse, she growled her frustration. Goddamn him, she was just a jumble of body parts in this man’s glittering blue eyes. It was all a game to Flynn—well, she was tired of playing every man’s fool.

“Just forget it.” She moved forward, ready to grasp the towel from his hands when he unfolded it and wrapped it around her shoulders. Still, he held her gaze. Not even a peek below her neck.

“What now, Livvie?” The teasing had gone from his voice, replaced by an unexpected huskiness. Mere inches of warm Mexican air separated their chests—his unfortunately covered, hers indisputably naked. Yet again, he had her on the back foot.

“I’ll call the airline. Reschedule my flight back to Houston.”

There was nothing for her here.

Flynn still held onto the edges of the towel and, instinctively, she inclined toward all that masculine heat. This involuntary action was soon followed by other wonders of the human body—her mouth went desert-dry, then watered, then dried up again.

Make up your minds, saliva glands!

He jerked the towel until they were chest to chest, hip to hip, core to…oh, Flynn. And then he bent his head and took control of lips that did not belong to him.

You’re a jerk, her brain was screaming. An unscrupulous, goat-fucking asswipe. But then something happened. Something incredible.

Her body surrendered. It knew what she needed, and she let herself off the hook because she’d had a rotten couple of days and deserved a moment’s bliss.

The kiss deepened, its velvet invasion obliterating her last shred of, albeit token, resistance. He swept his tongue inside, not sloppily, not stabbing, but with the perfect amount of heated pressure. Drowning in the feel and taste of him, she clutched at his broad shoulders, anxious for an anchor through this typhoon of sensation engulfing her.

He stopped, his breath fanning her lips with hot pants, and he licked his own lips, savoring her. There was something menacing in the action.

“Am I still the last guy on earth you’d open those pretty little thighs for, Liv?”

And we’re back. “You’re going to need more than an average kissing game to get with me, Cross.”

“Nothin’ average about that kiss.”

She sighed. “Don’t beg. It’s so unTexan.”

“Before the night’s through, sweets, I’ll be hearing your fuck-me-Flynn moans.”

“In your Liv-filled dreams.”

Still holding the towel, he finally let his gaze rove over her naked breasts. They perked up under his thorough examination.

“Not so far from the truth, that. But then you’ve never been out of my dreams for long.”

DON’T MISS THE OTHER BOOKS IN THE SIZZLING TALL, DARK, AND TEXAN SERIES

Tall Dark Texan Series Banner

EVEN THE SCORE (Tall, Dark, and Texan, #1)

Even the Score Book #1

Amazon: http://amzn.to/29BoUCW
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/29oCXsM
Amazon CA: http://amzn.to/29BOUwh
B&N: http://bit.ly/1QImZXX
Kobo: http://bit.ly/1TjHP30
iBooks: http://apple.co/1TDuK4K

Synopsis: He’ll make her an offer she can’t refuse…

Actress Tess McKenzie is performing in the Tenth Circle of Showbiz Hell—dinner theater. All she really wants is to start a theater of her own. Then Tess receives an offer she can’t refuse. She’ll get her funding…if she pretends to be the fiancée to her nemesis, Texan property tycoon Hunter Dade. If she’s going to pull this off, she’ll need all the luck she can get. Break a leg, indeed.

On the verge of a big business deal, Hunter needs to hire a fiancée. He hasn’t quite forgiven Tess for ruining his wedding, but when their chemistry goes from combative to straight-up lust, the “no sex” clause in their mutually beneficial arrangement is tested. Which is a serious problem, because if Tess isn’t careful, she’ll go from breaking a leg to breaking her heart…

goodreads-badge-add-38px

TAKING THE SCORE (Tall, Dark, and Texan, #2)

Taking the Score Book #2

Amazon: http://amzn.to/29Iq8hd
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/29tJnca
Amazon CA: http://amzn.to/29BoUTD
B&N: http://bit.ly/1KpFXjD
Kobo: http://bit.ly/1Pythv5
iBooks: http://apple.co/29uk2xB

Synopsis: His office temptation is now his full-blown fantasy…

Paying down her sister’s debts has left Emma Strickland with little more than the thrift store suit on her back. And as if the suckfest couldn’t get worse, she’s forced to moonlight as a waitress to support herself and her cat. At a strip club. Her uptight, sexy-as-hell boss Brody Kane can never find out.

Texas property tycoon Brody Kane hired Emma for her spreadsheet skills, but her prim and proper demeanor sealed the deal. There’s no room in his life for a sexy distraction … and yet, he can’t stop lusting after the delicious Ms. Strickland. And then he takes an important client to a Chicago strip club and gets the worst lap dance in adult entertainment history. From Emma.

Now that he knows his office good girl has a naughty streak, Brody makes it his mission to uncover her secrets, one steamy, illicit, over-the-desk encounter at a time. But Emma is hiding more than her side job, and her final secret could end up destroying them both.

goodreads-badge-add-38px

ABOUT KATE MEADER

Kate Meader

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

Book Synopsis: Olivia Kane’s wedding day has just imploded spectacularly. What her pity party does not need is six feet and change of home-grown Texas cockiness in the form of her brother’s best friend. But Flynn Cross won’t stand by while Liv finds sensual solace in the arms of a stranger. Not when his own hard-for-her body is more than up for the task…

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instragram | Newsletter | Amazon Author Profile

GIVEAWAY

One Week to Score Giveaway Graphic

a Rafflecopter giveaway

IndieSageBlogger

Review: To Have and To Hold by Lauren Layne

To Have and To Hold
Series:
The Wedding Belles, #1
Author: Lauren Layne
Publication Date: July 26, 2016
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Note: I received an ARC from the publishers via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Synopsis: 

USA TODAY bestselling author Lauren Layne is the “queen of witty dialogue and sexy scenes” (Rachel Van Dyken)! Now, Sex and the City meets The Wedding Planner in The Wedding Belles, her sizzling brand new contemporary romance series about three ambitious wedding planners who can make any bride’s dream come true… but their own.

 

Discovering her fiance is an international con man just moments before they exchange vows devastates celebrity wedding planner Brooke Baldwin’s business—and breaks her heart. Now a pariah in Los Angeles, she seeks a fresh start in New York City and thinks she’s found it with her first bridal client, a sweet—if slightly spoiled—hotel heiress. Then she meets the uptight businessman who’s holding the purse strings.

 

Seth Tyler wishes he could write a blank check and be done with his sister Maya’s fancy-pants wedding. Unfortunately, micromanaging the event is his only chance at proving Maya’s fiance is a liar. Standing directly in his way is the stunning blonde wedding planner whose practiced smiles and sassy comebacks both irritate and arouse him. He needs Brooke’s help. But can he persuade a wedding planner on a comeback mission to unplan a wedding? And more importantly, how will he convince her that the wedding she should be planning… is theirs?


  ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆


Earlier this spring I read From This Day Forward, the prequel novella to Lauren Layne’s The Wedding Belles series. That short taste got me very excited for what was to come in the series. When I saw To Have and To Hold on NetGalley, I had to click request. I’m so happy I did! As always, Lauren Layne’s writing was smart, sharp-witted and fun to read.

In To Have and To Hold, Brooke Baldwin has run from her past in L.A. to join one of the most prestigious New York wedding planning companies. She’s hoping the new start will make everyone forget about the worst day of her life. She needs Maya Tyler’s wedding to go off without a hitch to redeem herself. She’s determined to give Maya the wedding of her dreams — no matter what her rich, grouchy, sexy brother says.

Seth Taylor isn’t about to let his only sister marry someone he knows absolutely nothing about. Someone he doesn’t think is telling the truth. So Seth sets out to discover the truth the only way he can think of  — holding the purse strings and tagging along for all of the wedding planning. Seth’s plan is going smoothly until a certain beautiful wedding planner gets in his way. If Seth wants to stop this wedding, he’s going to have to figure out how to get Brooke on his side.

I knew Seth and Brooke’s love story was going to be entertaining to watch unfold from the minute they met. Their instant attraction was palpable, and their opposite goals could only lead to friction. The fact that neither of them was looking for any sort of relationship added to the fun.

Seth was my favorite character. His sourpuss attitude was amusing. He was such a caring guy, but really had a hard time showing it in an appropriate way. I loved the witty banter his grouchy, controlling disposition created.

Brooke was a very sweet character. She had been hurt badly in the past, but still believed in happily ever after. She was the perfect balance to Seth. I enjoyed the way she wouldn’t let him get away with ruining things for his sister.

I did feel like Brooke’s story was missing something, though. Her relationship with Clay hurt her badly, but even after she moved on to Seth, I never felt like she dealt with what he did to her. I don’t want to give anything away, but I would have liked to have seen her take a more active role in dealing with him.

 

I can’t leave out the supporting characters in this review. Maya made me smile. She was a spoiled little rich girl, but one who was sweet and kind of innocent. Her wedding planning adventures with Brooke were so much fun to read. And then there was Seth’s best buddy, Grant. I really wanted to know more about this guy! He deserves his own book, in my opinion.

To Have and To Hold was charming story about finding love when you least expect it. Fans of LL and her contemporary romances are sure to swoon for this delightful love story. And if you have yet to read one of her books, this would be a great place to start.

Review: Cream of the Crop by Alice Clayton

Cream of the Crop
Series
: Hudson Valley, #2
Author: Alice Clayton
Publication Date: July 12, 2016
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Note: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Synopsis:

Manhattan’s It Girl, Natalie Grayson, has it all: she’s a hot exec at a leading advertising firm, known industry-wide for her challenging and edgy campaigns. She’s got a large circle of friends, a family that loves her dearly, and her dance card is always full with handsome eligible bachelors. What else could a modern gal-about-town wish for? The answer, of course, is…cheese.

Natalie’s favorite part of each week is spending Saturday morning at the Union Square Farmer’s Market, where she indulges her love of all things triple cream. Her favorite booth also indulges her love of all things handsome. Oscar Mendoza, owner of the Bailey Falls Creamery and purveyor of the finest artisanal cheeses the Hudson Valley has to offer, is tall, dark, mysterious, and a bit oblivious. Or so she thinks. But that doesn’t stop Natalie from fantasizing about the size of his, ahem, milk can.

Romance is churning, passion is burning, and something incredible is rising to the top. Could it be…love?


  ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


I’ve been dying to read Cream of the Crop ever since I read the preview for it at the end of Nuts. I knew it was going to be a fun and sexy romance. I wasn’t wrong. It was witty, sexy and I couldn’t put it down. I had to force myself to stop reading and go to bed after midnight. It was that much fun.

“If I ever developed lactose intolerance, I’d throw myself into the East River.”

Dramatic, much? Natalie was a hoot. I loved and appreciated her self-confidence. She wasn’t afraid to flaunt her plus-size body, and she wasn’t going to put up with people who couldn’t appreciate that great comma big ass. She knew she was beautiful inside and out, and her size had nothing to do with it. Her self-talk made me smile so many times. Plus, she loves cheese. I love cheese. Who doesn’t love cheese?

“You’re the Brie girl with the great big ass.”

Oscar was this gruff, incredibly sexy farmer who didn’t waste words. He was knew what was important to him and didn’t care what anyone else thought. His history was perfect. Deep, but not too deep for this light, steamy romance. His blunt, commanding ways were super sexy. I adored how he turned Natalie into a blubbering mess.

“Look at you, dirty girl,” he murmured, showing me his now-mud-covered-hand.
“You have no idea,” I murmured, tilting my head and gazing up at him.

Natalie and Oscar together…Fireworks! Not only was their sexual chemistry was off the charts, but their banter was so much fun! I liked that their new — possibly long distance — relationship had issues that I could see a real life couple having. I loved Natalie and Oscar so much together that I would read another book about their relationship even if it only involved them churning butter.

Cream of the Crop also brought back so many of the characters from Nuts that I loved. It was fun to see what Roxie and Leo were up to. Plus, Chad Bowman. (I really, really want Chad Bowman’s story!) Even that little cutie Polly made a few humorous appearances. 

Cream of the Crop had everything I love in a contemporary romance. It was fun, light and made me laugh. I would highly recommend it to anyone who likes humorous romances…or cheese. Even though it’s the second book in the series with characters who overlap, it can totally be read as a standalone. Cream of the Crop would make the perfect summer read whether you’re at the beach, on vacation or just relaxing at home.

Top Ten Tuesday: The One Where I Tell You All About My Love of Contemporary Romances

http---www.pixteller.com-pdata-t-l-435619

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature created by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is Ten Facts About Me (bookish or just general about you facts or ten facts about you as a blogger…whatever you want).

As you can tell, I changed that up a bit and went with a title a little more fitting for me. 😉


  1. In case you weren’t aware, my favorite book genre is Contemporary Romance. I like adult, NA and YA. My favorite of the three is NA.
  2. I’m not a huge Fantasy fan. I think it’s because I’m getting old and have a horrible imagination. I will read ones that come highly recommended from reliable sources.
  3. I try to avoid reading Sci-Fi and Horror at all cost. I can’t do aliens and I hate being scared.
  4. I love psychological thrillers, but I usually have to read another fluffy book at the same time. That way I can take breaks from all the mental stress.
  5. When my friends ask me for books recommendations, I give them entire lists. I’ve also had them corner me at the library and ask me to pick up a book for them.
  6. I recommended Elle Kennedy’s Off-Campus series to my sister. When she was reading one of them, my brother-in-law picked up the book and read the part she was at. He now thinks I read “dirty” books.
  7. I know I’ve said this before, but I picture every book hero (no matter what they’re supposed to look like) as Nick Bateman. And now you can, too! You’re welcome.
  8. My least favorite book relationship trope is the student-teacher one. I have a hard time with that now that my daughter is a student. There’s just a trust you have to have in your child’s teacher. I have found a few I was okay with, but they’re few and far between.
  9. My two favorite relationship tropes are best friends to lovers and enemies to lovers.
  10. If I could tell you to read one book series this summer, it would be Nine Minutes by Beth Flynn. It is amazing. There are so many twists and turns. Every single one of the people I’ve recommended it to that have read it (at least 5) have read it and loved it. Do it, people!

Review: Steadfast by Sarina Bowen

Steadfast
Series:
True North, #2
Author:
Sarina Bowen
Publication Date:
July 12, 2016
Genre:
Contemporary Romance, New Adult
Note: I received an ARC of this book from the author in exchange for an unbiased review.

Synopsis:

She’s the only one who ever loved him—and the only one he can never have.

 

Jude lost everything one spring day when he crashed his car into an apple tree on the side of the road. A man is dead, and there’s no way he can ever right that wrong. He’d steer clear of Colebury, Vermont forever if he could. But an ex-con in recovery for his drug addiction can’t find a job just anywhere.

 

For Sophie Haines, coming face to face with the man who broke her heart is gut-wrenching. Suddenly, he’s everywhere she turns. It’s hard not to stare at how much he’s changed. The bad boy who used to love her didn’t have big biceps and sun-kissed hair. And he’d never turn up volunteer in the church kitchen.

 

She knows it’s foolish to yearn for the man who returned all the heartsick letters she wrote him in prison. But the looks he sends her now speak volumes.

 

No one wants to see Sophie and Jude back together, least of all Sophie’s police chief father. But it’s a small town. And forbidden love is a law unto itself.


  ★ ★ ★ ★ 


I’ve been a big fan of Sarina Bowen’s books since I stumbled upon The Ivy Years series a couple of years ago. I admire the way she takes on complex social issues within her sexy romances. It gives them a realistic feel and something deeper for the reader to think about. Plus, her writing is captivating. I’m always consumed by her books from the very first page.

I went into Steadfast expecting another fun, sexy farm romance like I found in Bittersweet (True North, #1). What I got was something completely different, maybe even better. It was a grittier story, filled with the hope of second chances and redemption.

“My name is Jude Nickel, and I am an addict. Also, I’m a big fucking idiot.”

I loved the care with which Sarina Bowen tackled Jude’s substance abuse. She stripped addiction down and made it both understandable and relatable. I have to admit, Jude’s perspective has made me look differently at the lives of those I know who struggle with drug addiction. I really respected Jude and the choices he made in this story. He accepted his past, dealt with it and made the changes he needed to move forward. There was such strength in his character. He might not have thought he was one of the good guys, but underneath it all he truly was. Jude just needed to know someone loved and believed in him.

“Of all the things I’d lost – my good name, the chance to get a decent job, my carefully restored care – none of them mattered as much as Sophie.”

Luckily, that person was Sophie. Her support of Jude was admirable. She went above and beyond what I would have expected from an ex-girlfriend whose life was destroyed by his actions. Although, I do have to admit I did question Sophie’s thoughts on the accident that ripped their relationship apart at times. She never seemed to hold a grudge against Jude for what happened or even fault him. She was angry with him for breaking her heart, but not for causing the accident. It surprised me a little. Anyways. It didn’t detract from my love of this story, so it didn’t take any stars away from my rating.

Jude and Sophie’s clandestine affair was sexy as hell and they shared such a beautiful connection, and this is normally where I would go on and on about it, but it wasn’t what kept my attention. For me, this book was all about Jude and his recovery. Their relationship was part of that, but it wasn’t what I fell in love with. That’s kind of weird since this is a romance novel.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that Steadfast really touched me and I want to thank Sarina Bowen for writing such a profound second chance love story. It was so beautifully written, amazing and should be on every romance fan’s to-read list.

Seriously. Get your copy as soon as it comes out tomorrow.

 

 

 

Review: How Not to Fall by Emily Foster

How Not to Fall
Author: Emily Foster
Publication Date: June 28, 2016
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance, Erotica
Note: I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Synopsis:

In her witty and breathtakingly sexy novel, Emily Foster introduces a story of lust, friendship, and other unpredictable experiments. . .

Data, research, scientific formulae–Annabelle Coffey is completely at ease with all of them. Men, not so much. But that’s all going to change after she asks Dr. Charles Douglas, the postdoctoral fellow in her lab, to have sex with her. Charles is not only beautiful, he is also adorably awkward, British, brilliant, and nice. What are the odds he’d turn her down?

Very high, as it happens. Something to do with that whole student/teacher/ethics thing. But in a few weeks, Annie will graduate. As soon as she does, the unlikely friendship that’s developing between them can turn physical–just until Annie leaves for graduate school. Yet nothing could have prepared either Annie or Charles for chemistry like this, or for what happens when a simple exercise in mutual pleasure turns into something as exhilarating and infernally complicated as love.


★ ★ ★ ★ ☆


The first thing I noticed about How Not to Fall was the wonderful writing. I really enjoyed the author’s style. It was fun and fresh. I loved Annie’s point of view. Her thoughts were hilarious. It kind of reminded me of the narration Mindy Lahiri gives on The Mindy Project. Annie was witty, a lot nerdy and kind of crazy. Her awkwardness was endearing. I liked it a lot.

Charles was hunky and super smart. I liked how he wanted to do right by himself, his position and by Annie. His beginning approach to their sexual relationship was mature and responsible. So mature that I found myself wondering if super intelligent people actually conduct themselves and talk the way these two did before getting it on? And while getting it on? And after getting it on?

And getting it on they did. On and on…and on…and on. Seriously. I think more than half the book was Charlie and Annie getting freaky. And by freaky, I mean freaky. It was pretty much erotica at this point. I’m not complaining. Well, maybe a little because I loved the scenes were they were actually talking and getting to know each other. The sex kind of took away from those moments at times. I was kind of shocked at Annie’s sexual experimentation and her willingness to trust Charles unconditionally, though. They knew each other, but they didn’t know each other well enough for me to understand her trust in his control. She was so new to it all. It just didn’t feel natural to me. That was my one complaint about this book.

Besides all of the super steamy sex, I also enjoyed Charlie and Annie’s relationship friendship. Their connection was very cool. I loved how they got each other, even when they didn’t like what they were getting. Their understanding of each other led to a really great ending — or cliffhanger to be exact.

I’m really looking forward to the next book in this series, How Not to Let Go. I read the first couple of chapters at the end of this book and it already has me hooked. I’m looking forward to the inclusion of Charles’ point of view and getting to know what’s going on inside that smart head of his.

Would I recommend this book? Yes and no. If you like surprisingly funny, emotional, sexy reads, this one is for you. If you can’t handle reading a lot of explicit sex, skip this one.

 

 

 

 

Blog Tour Review: Seared on My Soul by Cole Gibson

Seared On My Soul Tour BannerSeared on My Soul
By: Cole Gibsen
Publication Date: June 27, 2016
Genres: New Adult, Entangled Embrace, Contemporary Romance

Seared on My Soul CoverPurchase: Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | B&N | Kobo | iBooks

Synopsis:

She’s so young, so full of life…

I couldn’t let her die…

Even if she made the world’s worst coffee.

Emily Garret never asked to be rescued, let alone by a walking JCrew ad whose idea of fun is probably managing his stock portfolio and watching the nightly news. Then again, she never thought she would wind upside-down in a ditch after a night having a little too much fun.

Reece Montgomery never planned on being anyone’s hero, especially the foul-mouthed, bleach-blonde barista from the local coffee shop. He thinks there’s more to Emily than her tattoos, and lip ring, but getting close means letting her into his past and meeting his ghosts.

And he’s not sure she’s ready for that battlefield.

goodreads-badge-add-38pxReview:

  ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Emily may be a strong woman who looks like she doesn’t care what people think on the outside, but on the inside she’s a little lost. While her friends have found their loves and paths in life, Emily is stuck with one night stands and a dead-end barista job. She’s completely happy with her lifestyle until one drunken hookup leads to almost losing her life.

Reece is barely keeping himself together after suffering the loss of his friend and fellow soldier. He may have a teaching job, a place to live and an amazing motorcycle, but he’s constantly on the brink of his next anxiety attack.

After Reece saves the barista from his local coffee shop from a fiery car crash, he can’t stop thinking about her. Even though he’s never really talked to Emily, he feels a connection with her. As he gets to know Emily, he realizes she’s rough around the edges, but she gets him in a way no one else has.

Seared on My Soul started out a little rough for me. It’s told in dual point of view and starts with Emily’s perspective. That first chapter just didn’t pull me in like I hoped it would. I can’t put my finger on what exactly I didn’t care for, but there was just something a little off-putting about Emily’s point of view in that initial introduction. I didn’t think I was going to like her character at all.

Luckily, it was just that first chapter that I didn’t connect with because the I really enjoyed the rest of the book! I immediately felt a connection with Reece’s character. He was a war veteran dealing with the loss of his friend. He felt responsible and was dealing with PTSD symptoms. He was fighting so hard to make it through each day. It was actually the way Emily connected with Reece that helped me connect with her.

Emily was a very mixed up character. Her brash personality helped hide her insecurities. It made her appear stronger than she really was. Emily used alcohol to numb her pain and it was slowly consuming her. But even though she had her own issues, she easily identified Reece’s and was able to give him the safety he needed. Emily was actually a very sweet person once you got past what she was trying to portray to everyone.

Emily and Reece were pretty darn perfect together. They heated up the sheets spectacularly, but more importantly, they were a support system for each other. Their relationship had bumps along the way, but those bumps lead them to better themselves and grow a stronger connection to each other.

Seared on My Sole was a great romance filled with friendship, love and healing.

**I received this book from IndieSage PR via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Excerpt:

My world becomes nothing but pain.
Every breath is a mixture of blood, smoke, and gasoline.

From far away, I hear sirens and muf ed voices that can’t quite penetrate the darkness I’ve fallen into. Blood, tasting of copper, trickles down my throat. A searing ache, like barbed wire, rips into every inch of my body.

Am I dying?

Terror coils around my gut and I ail in the darkness inside my mind, desperate for anything to hold onto, an object to keep me grounded so I won’t fall away. My ngers brush against something soft and I grab hold, twisting the fabric into my st.

It doesn’t take me long to realize the fabric is attached to something—or rather someone—because seconds later a pair of muscular arms snake around my shoulders and press

me against an equally rm chest.
It doesn’t make sense. I haven’t been held this way since

Daddy died nearly a decade ago.
“Can you hear me?” The unfamiliar voice sounds

distant, echoing inside my head like a cavern.
I try to answer, but my throat is tight and blood coats my

tongue. Instead, I hold tighter, pressing my knotted ngers against his chest. His warmth bleeds into my skin, loosening the fear twisted around my ribs just enough for me to breathe— only it comes as a gasp. “I don’t want to die.” The words are a surprise, but I realize they’re the truest words I’ve ever spoken.

Unconsciousness tugs at me with velvety ngers, pulling me deeper inside myself. I clutch the fabric in my hands, suddenly terri ed that if I’m pulled away, I might not be able to nd my way back.

The darkness presses against me, smashing me beneath a wall of endless satin. My ngers lose their grip on the man’s shirt, and I can feel myself slipping. Fear rises inside my throat, a jagged lump I can barely breathe around. “Don’t,” I manage to choke. My voice sounds far away—almost as if it were coming from outside my body. Or maybe I’m the one outside my body.

The thought sends an icy wave of terror crashing over me.

“Don’t what?” the man asks, sounding farther away than before. Even so, the panic in his voice is unmistakable.

The darkness grows heavier, and I am too weak to ght. Even my fear ebbs under the crushing weight of exhaustion. It takes all my remaining strength, but I manage to breathe life into the words tangled on my tongue before

unconsciousness consumes me.

“Don’t let me go.”

ABOUT COLE GIBSEN

Cole Gibsen

At seventeen Cole found herself homeless with only a beat-up Volkswagen Jetta and a bag of Goodwill clothing to her name. The only things that got her through the nights she spent parked in truck stops and cornfields were the stacks of books she checked out from the library along with her trusty flashlight. Because of the reprieve these books gave her from her troubles, Cole vowed to become a writer so she could provide the same escape to readers who needed a break the reality of their own lives.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads | Newsletter | Amazon Author Profile

GIVEAWAY

Seared on My Soul Giveaway Graphic

a Rafflecopter giveaway

IndieSageBlogger

Review: The Bird and the Sword by Amy Harmon

The Bird and the Sword
Author:
Amy Harmon
Publication Date: May 11, 2016
Genre: New Adult, Fantasy, Romance

Synopsis:

Swallow, Daughter, pull them in, those words that sit upon your lips. Lock them deep inside your soul, hide them ‘til they’ve time to grow. Close your mouth upon the power, curse not, cure not, ‘til the hour. You won’t speak and you won’t tell, you won’t call on heav’n or hell. You will learn and you will thrive. Silence, Daughter. Stay alive.

The day my mother was killed, she told my father I wouldn’t speak again, and she told him if I died, he would die too. Then she predicted the king would trade his soul and lose his son to the sky.

My father has a claim to the throne, and he is waiting in the shadows for all of my mother’s words to come to pass. He wants desperately to be king, and I just want to be free.

But freedom will require escape, and I’m a prisoner of my mother’s curse and my father’s greed. I can’t speak or make a sound, and I can’t wield a sword or beguile a king. In a land purged of enchantment, love might be the only magic left, and who could ever love . . . a bird?


  ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


Beautiful.

That’s the word the comes to mind whenever I read an Amy Harmon novel. It doesn’t matter what genre it is or what the story is about, the writing is always flawlessly beautiful. The words she weaves bring emotions to life in a way that’s hard to describe.

If you know me or my blog you’re probably tired of hearing me say this, but I am not a Fantasy reader. I have a harder time getting into and staying interested in them. That was not the case with The Bird and the Sword. I was immediately pulled into the story by the words and the imagery they created. I was fascinated with the characters and found myself not wanting to put the book down.

I loved Lark. She may have seemed timid and weak, but there was way more to her than meets the eye. Her inability to speak played such a special role in the story. I enjoyed seeing her character grow and change throughout the book.

Tiras surprised me in several different ways. I didn’t expect to love his character as much as I did. Or maybe I just expected it to take longer to fall for him. His relationship with Lark was complex and multifaceted. They need each other in so many different ways. I loved how their relationship drove the story.

The world Amy Harmon created was filled with all sorts of amazing characters. I could easily imagine a sequel or spin-off to this story revolving around any one of them. I would especially love to read about Kjell. There was so much potential in his character!

If you’re curious about this book, a Fantasy lover or just someone who enjoy brilliant writing, I would highly suggest The Bird and the Sword. I was truly fascinated by the story and the characters.

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Enjoyed That Have Under 2000 Ratings On Goodreads

http---www.pixteller.com-pdata-t-l-435619

Top Ten Tuesday is an original weekly feature created at The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is Top Ten Books Top Ten Books I Enjoyed That Have Under 2000 Ratings On Goodreads. 


1. OC Me by Kristin Albright
(45)

 “Whoever said high school was the best time of our lives definitely did not have OCD.”

Amy’s senior year of high school is not going as planned. When a tragic accident leaves her favorite aunt unconscious in the intensive care unit, all of her goals suddenly seem trivial.

In the days and weeks that follow the accident, irrational fears begin to flood Amy’s mind. Embarrassed, she keeps them to herself, lying to everyone – including her best friend Kat – to cover her strange behavior. Because how do you explain something you don’t understand yourself?

When James, a boy with a contagious smile, starts spending time with her, she wishes she could just be herself again: a carefree artist with aspirations to get a scholarship to State. But as the unwelcomed thoughts escalate, Amy finds herself unsure of everything.

When Amy learns she has OCD, she begins a journey of self-discovery which will shape the rest of her life. It all starts with admitting something so simple but so difficult – the truth.


2. Calm Like Home by Kaisa Clark
(61)

 Alexa Clausen has never fallen. She’s never soared. She’s lived her entire life floating midway between passion and despondency, never experiencing those extremes. But all it takes is one evening with Adam Westbrook to draw her out of her shell, to leave her feeling bold for the first time ever. He is fiery and magnetic. He is gravitational, that inescapable pull no one can avoid. After a few chance encounters, Alexa finally accepts that she can’t stay away, can’t deny the electricity she feels every time he comes around.

But as the intensity between them deepens, she also can’t avoid the subtle hints that Adam is hiding something. His wide smile and radiant eyes obscure some burning secret, some detail of his past that resurfaces to steal his joy. The farther Alexa falls, the more she realizes just how little she really knows about Adam and how far he is willing to go to cover up the truth.

Calm Like Home is a story about love and longing, growth and stagnation, discovering one’s counterpart but losing oneself, and ultimately finding that one person truly has the power to change everything.


3. That Girl, Darcy by James Ramos
(114)

 IT IS A TRUTH UNIVERSALLY ACKNOWLEDGED that geeky guys never get to date the pretty girls with permanent scowls.

To Elliott Bennett, life is simple. It’s all parties, skateboarding, and arguing over who would win in a fight between Hulk and Superman with his friends. It’s his senior year, and he wants nothing more than to soak up his final year of freedom before real life begins.

That is, until Darcy Fitzwilliam and her best friend Bridget move in to the only mansion in the neighborhood. When Elliot meets Darcy at a party, he finds out that she isn’t into skateboarding (which he lives for), she hates science-fiction (which he loves), and she thinks his friends are a pack of morons (which, honestly, might be half true)—and yet, there’s something irritatingly intriguing about her.

When Elliot’s cousin Jake starts to date her friend Bridget, it complicates Elliot’s plans to ignore the scowling Darcy for the rest of the year. Why is Darcy so . . . ugh? Elliott doesn’t know, but for some reason, is determined to find out—even if she doesn’t know the difference between Star Trek and Star Wars.


4. Spanish Lessons by Jessica Peterson
(150)

 Vivian Bingley has big plans for her semester abroad in Spain…

Along with her BFF, Maddie, Vivian hopes to indulge her inner Art History nerd by visiting the best museums in the world. She also wants to tackle more practical concerns—like a less than stellar GPA in her major, Economics—with the help of a Spanish tutor.

But falling for her studly Spanish tutor definitely isn’t one of them.

Madrileño Rafa Montoya is the stuff study abroad dreams are made of: super studly and super smart. He also happens to be super into Vivian. With his wicked dancing skills and his passion for the arts, he tempts her to throw caution to the wind and live out her wildest dreams.

Only problem? Maddie wants Rafa, too, and Vivian promised herself she’d never settle for second best again…not after a hookup-gone-awry last semester left her heartbroken. Is it best for Vivian to protect her heart at all costs? Or is letting Rafa in worth the risk?

This book is a New Adult contemporary romance, suitable for mature audiences.


5. My Perfect Mistake by Kelly Siskind
(321)

 What happens in Aspen
is definitely not staying in Aspen. . .

A girls’ trip to Aspen was exactly what Shay needed to forget about her toxic ex-boyfriend. She’s got her girls, pristine slopes for skiing, and hot guys everywhere. Of course, her epic self-rediscovery goes completely to hell when a wild (and deliciously hot) skier knocks Shay on her ass . . . and war is declared.

Kolton doesn’t know what it is about Shay that makes him lose it. Not just his cool—although she does have an unholy gift for that—but his restraint. When anger gives way to explosive chemistry, they’re both shaken with the intensity of it. But somewhere between lust and hate, Kolton and Shay realize they could have something real . . . if they don’t kill each other first.


6. In Your Dreams by Ginger Scott
(333)

 Casey Coffield has a growing list of personal flaws he keeps locked away in his head:
He’s never on time.
His list of IOUs to his best friend is endless.
Money is always short.
Goals are never in reach.

Oh, and he’s decided to add college drop-out to that list, too. He doesn’t really think that last one’s such a bad thing, but his family insists it is, so it stays on the list.

On paper, he’s a zero. But in person, when he’s mixing tracks for a sea of bodies at the hottest clubs and parties, he’s downright irresistible. Just-right stubble on his chin, body of a boxer and a smirk that stimulates all the right nerves—women have never been a problem. They flock to his swagger and fall for his charm…fast.

All except for this one.

Purple hair, gray eyes, a raspy voice and sass, Murphy Sullivan is a little bit country and a little bit rock-n-roll. And her and Casey? They have history. He can’t remember it, but she wrote a song about him—and it’s not exactly a love song. But it is good. Damn good. And uncovering her inspiration just might be the key to solving a few of his shortcomings—not to mention open doors to his own big break in the music industry.

But sometimes dreams get messy when they collide. Sometimes life changes patterns. A past paints the wrong picture and futures get cloudy. The only question that remains is who will you choose when the dust settles—you? Or the girl of your dreams?

** This book is a Falling Series spin-off. It can be read as a standalone. **


7. What Remains of Me by Alison Gaylin
(529)

 The USA Today bestselling author of the Brenna Spector series returns with her most ambitious book to date, a spellbinding novel of psychological suspense, set in the glamorous, wealthy world of Hollywood—a darkly imaginative and atmospheric tale of revenge and betrayal, presumed guilt and innocence lost, dirty secrets and family ties reminiscent of the bestsellers of Laura Lippman, Gillian Flynn, and Harlan Coben.

Nobody’s perfect. Everybody’s got a drawer somewhere with something hidden in it.

On June 28, 1980—the hottest night of the year—Kelly Michelle Lund shoots and kills Oscar-nominated director John McFadden at a party in his home. . . . And instantly becomes a media sensation, her chilling smile fodder for national nightmares. For years, speculation swirls over the enigmatic seventeen-year-old’s motives, information she’s refused to share. Convicted of the murder, she loses her youth and her freedom—but keeps her secrets to herself.

Thirty years later—and five years after her release from prison—the past has come back to haunt Kelly. Her father-in-law, movie legend Sterling Marshall, is found in a pool of blood in his home in the Hollywood Hills—dead from a shot to the head, just like his old friend John McFadden.

Once again, Kelly is suspected of the high profile murder. But this time, she’s got some unexpected allies who believe she’s innocent—of both killings—and want to help her clear her name. But is she?

Written with masterful precision and control, What Remains of Me brilliantly moves forward and back in time, playing out the murders side by side—interweaving subtle connections and peeling away layers of events to reveal the shocking truth.


8. The Year We Fell Apart by Emily Martin
(839)

Few things come as naturally to Harper as epic mistakes. In the past year she was kicked off the swim team, earned a reputation as Carson High’s easiest hook-up, and officially became the black sheep of her family. But her worst mistake was destroying her relationship with her best friend, Declan.

Now, after two semesters of silence, Declan is home from boarding school for the summer. Everything about him is different—he’s taller, stronger…more handsome. Harper has changed, too, especially in the wake of her mom’s cancer diagnosis.

While Declan wants nothing to do with Harper, he’s still Declan, her Declan, and the only person she wants to talk to about what’s really going on. But he’s also the one person she’s lost the right to seek comfort from.

As their mutual friends and shared histories draw them together again, Harper and Declan must decide which parts of their past are still salvageable, and which parts they’ll have to let go of once and for all.


9. Living with Regret by Lisa De Jong
(1,123)

 I had my whole life mapped out. Perfect guy. Perfect friends. Everything was exactly the way I wanted it.

That was until that night–the one I can’t remember. It’s all my fault, and now the memories are all I have left of him. Of us.

My guilt drowns me until Sam Shea steps back into my life and helps me to the surface. He slowly opens my heart and crawls deep inside before I even realize what’s happening. I know I don’t deserve him.

While I’m trying to get used to my new life, pieces of that night slowly start to come back to me. Lies and secrets shatter everything I thought I knew.

Maybe I’m not the only one living with regret.


10. The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick
(1,894)

 A bold, genre-bending epic that chronicles madness, obsession, and creation, from the Paleolithic era through the Witch Hunts and into the space-bound future.

Four linked stories boldly chronicle madness, obsession, and creation through the ages. Beginning with the cave-drawings of a young girl on the brink of creating the earliest form of writing, Sedgwick traverses history, plunging into the seventeenth century witch hunts and a 1920s insane asylum where a mad poet’s obsession with spirals seems to be about to unhinge the world of the doctor trying to save him. Sedgwick moves beyond the boundaries of historical fiction and into the future in the book’s final section, set upon a spaceship voyaging to settle another world for the first time. Merging Sedgwick’s gift for suspense with science- and historical-fiction, Ghosts of Heaven is a tale is worthy of intense obsession.


I have to note that the number of reviews may have changed in the time since I wrote and scheduled this post.