Review: America’s Sweetheart by Jessica Lemmon

America’s Sweetheart
Series: Real Love, #5
Author: Jessica Lemmon
Publication Date: October 2, 2018
Publisher: Loveswept
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Fiction
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Old flames burn bright. When a disgraced starlet returns home to lick her wounds, she discovers that her high school sweetheart is just as tempting as ever.

“No one writes big-hearted bad boys like Jessica Lemmon!”—New York Times bestselling author Lori Foster

Allison: When I left for California, I gave myself a new name and never looked back. Now my carefully crafted good-girl image is getting torn to shreds in the press thanks to my Oscar-winning A-hole of an ex-boyfriend. So I escape to the only safe haven I know and trust—my hometown—to take a breather while I plot my triumphant Hollywood comeback. However, when I arrive at my parents’ house, Jackson Burke answers the door instead. And suddenly the past comes rushing back. . . .

Jackson: First kiss. First time. First love. Yep, Allison Murphy and I shared a lot of firsts back in the day. When she left, she took half my heart with her. Now she’s back in town, and even though I swore I’d keep my distance, her parents hired me to remodel their house, and I’m going to finish the job. But one hot kiss later, suddenly the press is calling us the next big celebrity couple. Sure, I’ll play the part, for Allison’s sake—but I refuse to let her close enough to break my heart all over again. . . .


I have mixed feelings about America’s Sweetheart. I’m not sure I agree with the structure of this book. It started out in Jackson’s point of view. I loved Jackson. He was a totally normal, nice guy. He made his dreams a reality with the exception of losing “the one” back in college. Jackson loved his small town life, and he made me love it, too. I felt bad for him that he lost Allie and still hadn’t quite been able to move on from her. When she showed up back in town, I was excited for Jackson and what it could mean. I loved how he handled everything and his part in this book. What I didn’t love was Allie’s personality.

I didn’t like what I met of Allie through Jackson’s perspective. She actually seemed like a pretty horrible person. I know that’s because I didn’t know her side of the story. She didn’t have a POV at fist. All of her actions really bugged me. It made me wonder how Jackson could still be so attracted to her. I hated her. Then, half way into the book, bam! Her point of view shows up. It threw me off guard because there wasn’t a heading or anything letting me know of the change. As I got to know and understand her, I understood she was just as weary and hurt as Jackson. I liked what she learned about herself after returning home. I still wasn’t 100% sold on her, but I felt better about Jackson’s feelings for her than I had during his POV…until I didn’t again. The way she messed with Jackson’s feelings and was constantly acting was messed up. Her priorities were never straight. Once they were, I was over her.

To sum it up, I loved Jackson. I liked his relationship with Allie when she wasn’t being Nina. I never truly connected with Allie nor did I end up liking her. The only thing that might have made this one better me was if Allie’s POV had been mixed in with Jackson’s at the beginning. Maybe then she would have seemed like she had more heart or something. If it wasn’t for Jackson, I wouldn’t have liked this book at all. That makes me sad because I’m a fan of Jessica Lemmon’s writing.

Review: The Left Side of Perfect / The Right Side of Forever by Meghan Quinn


The Left Side of Perfect
Series: The Perfect Duet, #1
Author: Meghan Quinn
Publication Date: August 30, 2018
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Fiction
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

For better or for worse,’til death do us part . . .

The better captured me; she’s who stole my heart.
And made me realize I couldn’t live without this woman.
The worse of her took my breath away–kicked me when I was down and twisted me into a million knots.

When I first met her, I thought she was someone I would never see again.
The second time I ran into her, it was a random coincidence.
The third?
I didn’t know it at the time, but she was the girl I was going to marry.

But life isn’t always perfect. You have to take the better and the worse–even if it means giving her up, having her slip between your fingers, and letting her walk away.

I’m getting married.

This is forever, ’til death do us part.

Review:

Writing this review is going to kill me because there are so, so many things I want to say about The Left Side of Forever and I can’t because I don’t want to spoil it! It’s driving me absolutely crazy. So here are the things I can safely say without ruining this book for anyone…

  • Meghan Quinn has a crafty way of making you want what you thought you didn’t want and would never want.
  • She played with my emotions. I loved this book, but my gut was aching while reading parts of it.
  • This book made me remember why I loved a certain character. He was better than I had him in my memory and that’s saying a lot. I have so much respect for this fictional character!
  • I liked one of the main characters WAY more than I expected to. This person wasn’t one of my favorite characters from the Blue Line Duet. The last I read of the person, I was like, No! Wait! What?” I didn’t get it. I do now.
  • My heart broke with some revelations. I was so crushed. I can’t even get into it because SPOILER!, but man!
  • I loved the new-ish characters. Although, one made me very nervous!
  • There are some AMAZING quotes that people are going to identify with and love. I can imagine that people are going to be using them a ton.
  • THE ENDING!!! I’m devastated. Not in the same way as I was with the Blue Line Duet. That was anger. This is sorrow.
  • I loved this book, and I’m so happy that I have the next book in the duet, The Right Side of Forever waiting for me to start right now.

I know this doesn’t tell you much. It’s not really supposed to. The Left Side of Perfect is one of those books you are going to have to read for yourself — and you’re going to want to! (Just make sure to read the Blue Line Duet FIRST!!!)

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The Right Side of Forever
Series: The Perfect Duet, #2
Author: Meghan Quinn
Publication Date: August 30, 2018
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Fiction
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

In sickness and in health, to love and to cherish . . .

It sounds so simple, to love someone unconditionally.
To give them your heart.

So why is she slowly eating away at my soul with every unanswered phone call, every unread text, and every door left unopened?

She said yes, and yet, in order for her to be with me . . . I need to let her go.

Review:

You know those books you finish and you feel like you don’t even have the words to describe how special they are? The Right Side of Forever was one of those books for me. It was perfect in every way. It made me smile and it made me tear up. It not only made me think of what the characters were going through, but of my own thoughts and actions. The Right Side of Forever brought the journey that started in the Blue Line Duet full circle. I finally understood all of Meghan Quinn’s plot choices and I wouldn’t have her change a thing. The amount of character growth and emotion that went into this book was amazing. The Right Side of Perfect was the perfect conclusion to this story and the one that really started four books ago.

Now, I just have one question for Meghan Quinn…Will she ever write a book about any of these other Air Force guys? I wouldn’t mind a Rowdy story. Just sayin’.

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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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WWW Wednesday: August 29, 2018

Welcome to WWW Wednesday!

WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words. The purpose is to share what I’ve reading lately. The three W’s stand for:

What did you recently finish reading?
What are you currently reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Recently Read

This week I read the Kiss and Make Up series and the Three Little Lies novellas by Sara Ney.


Currently ReadIng

Right now I’m reading Mixed Up Love. I just started it, and I hate to admit that it’s not the easiest book to get into. I have high hopes for it, though.


Reading Next

I am camping this weekend, so I’m not sure how much reading I will get in. I’m going to try to start The Butterfly Garden. It’s our book club pick and I need to get it read.


What are you reading? Make sure to leave me your link below so I can check out your post. 🙂

Top Ten Tuesday: NA Books Set in College

Welcome to Top Ten Tuesday!

Top Ten Tuesday is an original weekly feature created by The Broke and the Bookish and is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s is Back to School/Learning Freebie. Last year I did YA books set in high school. This year I decided to do the next step up: NA Books Set in College. If they’re part of a series, I just went with the first book.


1. The Deal
by Elle Kennedy

2. The Year We Fell Down
by Sarina Bowen

3. Undecided
by Juliana Keyes

4. A Wish For Us
by Tillie Cole

5. All Lined Up
by Cora Carmack

6. The Hardest Fall
by Ella Maise

7. Only For You
by Beverley Kendall

8. Last Semester
by Corinne Makaouche

9. Left Drowning
by Jessica Park

10. Smut
by Karina Halle

Review: Crew by Tijan

Crew
Series: Crew, #1
Author: Tijan
Publication Date: August 27, 2018
Genre: (Mature) Young Adult, Contemporary, Fiction, Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

To survive where I live, you have two options.

You can be a Normal—a cheerleader, jock, member of the debate team, or on the yearbook committee. You pretend everything is normal.

Or you can be crew.
You insult us? We hurt you.
You hurt us? We really hurt you.
And if you f*ck with us, we will end you.

My name is Bren.
I’m the only female in the Wolf Crew—the best, fiercest, and most dangerous crew there is—and we have a rule: There’s no falling in love.

Well… too late.


Holy moly, people!

I have been a fan of Tijan’s writing since I found Broken & Screwed and then the Fallen Crest High series. Her YA books are my guilty pleasure. They straddle the line between YA and NA, and are like a good teenage TV drama. I was excited to hear Tijan was heading back to the YA realm with Crew. Despite that, I was a tad bit hesitant to start reading it. I had this feeling that it was going to hit hard emotionally. I admit I was slightly scared of where it might take me. I wasn’t sure I was ready.  I knew it was going to be special, though.

Crew was EPIC. I was utterly addicted to it from beginning to end. Crew was classic Tijan mature YA. If you have read Fallen Crest High, Broken & Screwed, or Ryan’s Bed, you will know what I’m talking about it. Crew was all about different relationships, drama, and angst. There were friendships, alliances, romances, enemies, family. You name it, it was involved. I loved being in the world of Crew.

Crew, like all of Tijan’s books, had a strong but emotionally damaged female main character. Bren’s life was filled with a lot of darkness and a little bit of light. She embraced life with the Wolf Crew. The crew wasn’t just something she belonged to, it was her family. It was her way of life. Bren was crew. How that affected her life and choices was fascinating.

The whole story was fascinating! I loved the all the surprises Tijan threw in. I was shocked by how much the crew thing interested me. It opened my eyes to some things and I didn’t expect that. I really loved the dynamic between Bren and the rest of the crew. I specifically loved the impact the crew had on her love life. She had a very special connection with someone and I adored this relationship. Her man was my favorite character in this story. His strength was different from hers, and how he used it was very cool.

There’s so, so much I want to say about Crew! I can’t, though. My lips are sealed. I won’t be spoiling this book for you. If you loved any of those other Tijan books I mentioned earlier in this review, you MUST read Crew. You will LOVE it. Whatever I thought Crew was going to be before reading it was right, but it was also MORE. You’re going to love that more. I did.

**Full-length novel. First book in a YA Series. This is 100% a new series from TIJAN. All new characters in the Tijanverse and is intended for mature audiences only. This book is dark, violent, and not for the faint of heart.** 

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Then, it will enter KINDLE UNLIMITED*. 

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1406039723
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Paperback:

Tijan’s Reader group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/TijansFanPage/

*Kindle Unlimited is a subscription that allows you to access a large selection of titles from the Kindle Store. … You can keep up to ten titles to read on any Amazon device or Kindle reading app and there are no due dates.

Review: Reckless King by Maya Hughes

Reckless King
Series: Kings of Rittenhouse, #2
Author: Maya Hughes
Publication Date: August 23, 2018
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sports, Fiction
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

I’m Heath Taylor. Laid back. Easy going. Fastest guy on two skates and chill to a fault, at least that’s what they say. Until Kara.

Three nights together and I’m done for. Her laugh, her smile, the way my hand curves around her waist. She’s the one. Not a doubt in my mind…until I walk into my last class of the semester.

Kara, the woman of my dreams, is my new instructor. My hockey season and her career prospects are on the line. One false move–if anyone finds out–we’re both sunk.

On the ice I’m a beast that can’t be stopped, but thoughts of her are throwing me off my game. My fingers itch to feel her in my arms again. But risking everything could ruin what we’ve worked so hard for.

Sometimes life has a way of changing the best laid plans. And sometimes you can’t stay away no matter the promises you make.

Life doesn’t play fair, but neither do I…


The more books I read in the Kings of Rittenhouse series, the more I love Maya Hughes’ writing. She’s got a really special thing going on with this series. She’s created a team of hockey players that I want to get to know. It all started with Declan in the prequel novella and Shameless King. Those books were so much fun that I couldn’t wait to get my hand on the second book, Reckless King. Reckless King is Declan’s friend Heath’s story.

Heath’s book wasn’t what I was expecting at all. Reckless King was more. Both Heath and his lady-love, Kara, had some heavy things marring their pasts. It gave them an extra special connection beyond their amazing chemistry. I loved going through the ups and downs of their relationship and their lives. The emotions of the characters in this book were palpable and hard-hitting. I loved that.

Another thing I loved were the surprises Maya Hughes had in store. Well, maybe loved wasn’t the right word for how I felt about them. They shocked me. I wasn’t prepared for them. My mind was blown. I didn’t exactly love the surprises, but they pushed the story in a direction that had the greatest impact on the characters. I appreciated that.

Overall, I found Reckless King to be even better than previous books in this series. I truly enjoyed reading it. It made me excited for what’s to come for the rest of Declan and Heath’s friends. I cannot wait to read the next book! If you’re a fan of new adult sports romances, you really need to check out Maya Hughes’ Kings of Rittenhouse series. I’m super impressed with it.

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Author Bio
Maya Hughes has always loved romance novels. One look at her Kindle is confirmation. She started writing her first romance novel while pregnant with her third child and she hasn’t looked back. Now, her romance writing addiction has replaced her romance reading addiction.
 
You can find her writing on her foldable keyboard and phone anytime inspiration strikes. Her sweet and steamy stories range from rockstars to small towns and everything in between. When she’s not writing, she’s playing with her three kids, running errands or vegging on the couch with the love of her life and biggest fan, her husband.

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Review: If There’s No Tomorrow by Jennifer L. Armentrout

If There’s No Tomorrow
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Narrator: Jorjeana Marie
Publication Date: September 5, 2017
Publisher: Harlequin Audio
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Fiction

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Lena Wise is always looking forward to tomorrow, especially at the start of her senior year. She’s ready to pack in as much friend time as possible, to finish college applications, and to maybe let her childhood best friend Sebastian know how she really feels about him. For Lena, the upcoming year is going to be one of opportunities and chances.Until one choice, one moment, destroys everything.Now Lena isn’t looking forward to tomorrow. Not when friend time may never be the same. Not when college applications feel all but impossible. Not when Sebastian could never forgive her for what happened.For what she let happen.With the guilt growing each day, Lena knows that her only hope is to move on. But how can she move on when tomorrow isn’t even guaranteed?


If There’s No Tomorrow is the first book I’ve read / listened to by Jennifer L. Armentrout. I’ve seen her books around and thought they probably weren’t my thing. For some reason, I thought all of her books had fantasy elements in them. To be completely honest, the only reason I requested this audio book was because Stephanie told me I should consider this author for my fantasy NA bingo checklist. I chose this one because it was available from library. It wasn’t a fantasy at all. I couldn’t find any reason to be disappointed in that other than it didn’t check off that box because I loved this book. It was a great introduction to Jennifer L. Armentrout’s writing and it made me actually interested in her fantasy novels.

Keeping with the whole honesty thing I have going on in this review, I have to warn readers that this book was slow going. I’m not sure if that was just because I was listening to it and the narrator had a slow and somber way of delivering the text or if it was actually a slow read. At first, this kind of bugged me because I wanted to yell at her to get on with the story. As the story progressed, it made sense with Lena’s thoughts and feelings. She was so in her head, and the narrator did an excellent job portraying that.

As for the story, I loved it. There were so many different emotions that went along with it. Lena was such a complex character. Her thoughts and feelings about everything and everyone were so well written. She’s a character I was easily frustrated by but completely understood. It was uncomfortable being in her head, but it paid off in the end. Her story was one that needs to be shared. It truly showed how one bad decision can change everything — especially when it comes to drinking and driving. I also felt it did a great job at portraying survivors guilt. I’ve never been in the position to have that type of guilt, but I felt it through Lena.

Overall, I felt that If There’s No Tomorrow is an important, timeless read. It’s geared to young adults, but I think adults would benefit from reading it as well.

Check out this EXCERPT from The Left Side of Perfect by Meghan Quinn!

The Left Side Of Perfect – Release Day – August 30

For better or for worse,’til death do us part . . .

The better captured me; she’s who stole my heart.

And made me realize I couldn’t live without this woman.

The worse of her took my breath away–kicked me when I was down and twisted me into a million knots.

When I first met her, I thought she was someone I would never see again.

The second time I ran into her, it was a random coincidence.

The third?

I didn’t know it at the time, but she was the girl I was going to marry.

But life isn’t always perfect. You have to take the better and the worse–even if it means giving her up, having her slip between your fingers, and letting her walk away.

I’m getting married.

This is forever, ’til death do us part.

The Right Side Of Forever – Release Day August 31

In sickness and in health, to love and to cherish . . .

It sounds so simple, to love someone unconditionally.

To give them your heart.

So why is she slowly eating away at my soul with every unanswered phone call, every unread text, and every door left unopened?

She said yes, and yet, in order for her to be with me . . . I need to let her go.

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Her hands rest on her hips, the navy-blue Grecian-style dress draped down the length of her body, a small slit on the side that barely reaches her knee. “You’re really fixated on this, aren’t you?”

“Nah, didn’t care too much. A homemade dinner would have been nice, though.”

“I can’t cook.”

“Neither can I,” I answer honestly. I either eat out, or I make myself scrambled eggs, and that’s about it. Rory taught me how to make meatballs once but hell if I can remember how to do that. All I know is that I enjoyed crushing the beef between my fingers. I get by with limited knowledge in the kitchen.

She chuckles. “Well, aren’t we a pair?” She turns to watch Stryder and Rory together. Apparently not giving a shit about the even bigger elephant in the room, Ryan asks, “Is this weird for you?”

“I have a flask in my jacket pocket, so you tell me.”

She lifts her bouquet and pulls out a mini bottle of alcohol. She wiggles her eyebrows at me. “Thought maybe we’d both need this since we have to sit through having all these pictures taken with them.”

“Smirnoff? That’s what you brought with you?”

“It was all I had. Don’t judge me.”

“I’m judging.”

Playfully she whacks my arm. “You shouldn’t be judging me. It was innovative. I carved out a little space in my bouquet for this bottle. If anything, you should congratulate me on this genius idea.”

“Was it your idea?”

“I mean”—she toes the ground—“I might have seen the idea on Pinterest along with a recipe for beer cookies that tasted like vomit.”

“Beer cookies?” I shake my head and take the little bottle from her. Twist the cap, tilt the bottle back, and swig. I hand it back to her, leaving half the bottle. “Even I know better than to think beer cookies would taste good.”

“They were for a boyfriend I was trying to impress.”

“Impress or poison?”

“Impress.” She laughs. “Although after our breakup, I should probably say poison. Teach all future suitors: if you mess with me, you get poisoned.”

“It’d keep me away, that’s for damn sure.”

She finishes the rest of the little bottle and returns it to her bouquet. She pats it and says, “I can recycle it later.”

“Get drunk and save the earth. Sounds like a good combination to me.”

“Ryan and Colby, can we get you over here for a few pictures?” the photographer calls out.

“That’s our cue.” Ryan pokes my cheek with her index finger, looking sincerely at me. “Don’t forget to smile, because these pictures will last forever.”

“Scowling not in the job description of best man?”

As we walk over, she says, “I would normally say no, but given the bride is your ex-girlfriend, one scowl is allowed.”

“One scowl? Damn, better make it a good one.”

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!

Facebook | Follow on Goodreads | Website | Amazon Author Page | Instagram | Follow on BookBub

Review: Stacking the Deck by C.L. Collier

Stacking the Deck
Series: Discovering Us, #1
Author: C.L. Collier
Publication Date: August 27, 2018
Publisher: C.L. Collier LLC
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Fiction
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Brooke:
I’m convinced happily ever after is a myth. Discovering my husband’s secrets has given me no choice but to take my daughter and start over. Unfortunately, that means living with my parents again. Just when I think life has stacked the deck against me, I run into Ryan. It’s been over a decade, but old feelings quickly reignite. The chemistry between Ryan and me is undeniable, and I’m left wondering if this is the way things were always meant to be.

Ryan:
After being a Marine for fourteen years, I move home to start a business with my brother. The last person I expect to walk through the door is the woman I let go. She’s the one I’ve never forgotten, and thoughts of her kept me going all these years. Now I have the chance to prove my worth to her, but will the odds be stacked against us?


Stacking the Deck is the first book in C.L. Collier’s new Discovering Us series. It’s a second chance romance between high school sweethearts, Brooke and Ryan. They haven’t seen each other since they broke up ten years ago when Brooke went to college and Ryan went to the Marines. Each went their separate ways. Brooke ended up married and had a baby. Ryan spent all those years traveling with the Marine’s. After an unexpected betrayal, Brooke has divorced and moved home to live with her parents. Ryan has also recently returned home to open a gym with his brother. When Brooke and Ryan run into each other for the first time in years, neither of them can deny the spark is still there between them.

This the fourth book C.L. Collier has written and it’s the fourth book of hers I’ve read. With each book I have enjoyed seeing her writing grow and blossom. Each book has been better than the last. I really enjoyed Stacking the Deck. The story felt real, like one that could be happening to someone I know.

Brooke and Ryan were great characters. Brooke was a strong woman. I was surprised by how she wasn’t mopey. Her life had exploded, and while she was upset about it, she was determined to make the best of things. I liked how positive her character felt. She took things at her own pace and did what was right for herself and her daughter. Ryan was a winner. He was basically perfect. Ryan had a few flaws, but they weren’t anything that couldn’t be overlooked. I especially loved how Ryan bonded with Brooke’s daughter. I loved what a great support system he was for Brooke and how he wanted to do things right by her and Ellie.  Brooke and Ryan truly had something special together. I could feel the spark they shared.

This book wasn’t just a romance, though. It’s also the story of Brooke coming to terms with her ex-husbands unexpected betrayal and learning to move on. I liked the ups and downs she went through on her journey of reclaiming her life. I actually would have liked to see more of those moments. I am still curious about what went on between the prologue and the first chapter. I was interested in how she got through the tougher times. To go deeper into this, there were times Brooke was telling the reader about something going on or something she went through and it would have been higher impact for the reader if she was experiencing it in the story rather than telling about it. That is probably more a personal reading preferences than anything. I like to experience all the emotional stuff with a character while reading.

Overall, I truly enjoyed reading Stacking the Deck. It was a fun, sweet second chance romance involving high school sweethearts.

Review: Hold You Close by Melanie Harlow & Corinne Michaels

BT.jpg

Hold You Close
Authors: Melanie Harlow, Corinne Michaels
Publication Date: August 20, 2018
Publisher: Love & Olives Inc, LLC
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Fiction
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

From NYT Bestseller Corinne Michaels & USA Today Bestseller Melanie Harlow, comes a second chance standalone romance.

Ian Chase broke my heart at seventeen, and I’ve spent the last eighteen years hating him for it.

He makes it easy, with his smart mouth and playboy lifestyle—which I unfortunately have to observe since he lives behind me. Every time I see him climbing out of his pool, practically naked and unreasonably sexy, my blood boils.

I’ve always loved to loathe him.

I never planned to need him.

***

London Parish is my little sister’s best friend, not that it stopped me from falling for her.

Our history is complicated. The only thing we have in common is being godparents to my sister’s three adorable kids—until our lives are changed in one tragic moment.

Now we’re trying to raise the children we love, mourn an unthinkable loss, and fight an undeniable attraction.

My life is already upside-down, and the last thing I need is for old feelings to resurface.

Because I’ll never be able to keep her, no matter how hard I try to hold her close.


Co-authoring books seems to be all the rage lately, and it’s something I have really enjoyed experiencing. It’s fun to see how two authors whose books I enjoy reading compliment each other. I don’t think I have found a mashup that hasn’t worked for me yet. The pairing of Melanie Harlow and Corinne Michaels’ writing was one I enjoyed. Their writing together felt like one author. I’ve only really read one book by Harlow, but I’ve read several by Michaels and it felt true to her style of writing.

Hold You Close is a second chance romance between London and Ian. London is Ian’s little sister’s best friend. They had a disastrous relationship (if you can call it that) when London was seventeen. Ten years have passed and they’re now enemies who bicker whenever they’re in the same room. When Ian’s sister dies, London and Ian are left to pick up the pieces and care for her children. It’s won’t be easy, but London and Ian will have to learn to get along — for the sake of the children.

While I enjoyed the combined writing of Harlow and Michaels, Hold You Close started out a little rough for me. I had a hard time with the transition from the prologue to the rest of the book. It wasn’t easy for me to connect those young characters to the adult ones. I felt like I was missing some big moments and decisions. I needed to experience how their relationship grew into this loathsome bickering thing. I mean, I understood why London would hate Ian. I just needed to know more how their relationship evolved. I got to know a little of that as the story went on, but it would have been more helpful for me to get more of their younger year interactions after the big blow up.

Once I let go of the missing piece I wanted, I ended up really enjoying Hold You Close. The angry banter between Ian and London turned fiery quickly. I loved how they had to make changes to their lives for the kids’ sake and how that changed them personally and their relationship. I adored the children and their cute additions to the story. Overall, it ended up being a very sweet and fun romance to read.

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Check out an EXCERPT from Hold You Close:

“Ian,” my bartender, Toby, calls with his hand out.

“What’s up?”

“You have a call.” He pushes the phone toward me.

No one calls the club for me other than vendors, and it’s eleven-thirty at night, so whoever it is can wait.

“I have to deal with something now, send them to my voicemail.”

He shakes his head. “She’s called three times.” The annoyance in his voice is clear, even over the music.

She?

The only woman that would resort to calling the club is my ex-wife. God only knows what bullshit she wants now. For all I know she broke a nail, it’s my fault, and she thinks I should pay for her new manicure, or a hand replacement. She’s like the gift you’ve tried to return but can’t find the receipt for, so you’re stuck with it. I hate unwanted presents, and I hate Jolene.

“Send the devil to my voicemail,” I say and walk away.

I head out to the sidewalk. Drea wasn’t kidding, the line is nuts. “Hello, Officer,” I say to the pudgy cop standing next to the bouncer.

“Mr. Chase, we’re getting complaints,” he says, looking down the sidewalk at the line.

“I can’t help that we’re popular.” I shrug. “I’m at capacity, and can’t kick out the paying customers to take care of the line.”

“You’re obstructing the entrances of other businesses because of the way your overflow lines are set up.”

How the hell would they like me to handle it? We’re not inside the casino, there’s no way to control the line. I’m not about to turn away people when we hit the number ten. This is a business, and part of the free marketing I get is thanks to the line.

“All right, I’ll figure something out.” I grip the back of my neck.

I feel my phone vibrate in my pocket. If this is Jolene, I swear to God, I might lose my fucking mind.

The name flashes across the screen, London Parish. For fuck’s sake. Like I need to deal with my sister’s uptight, irritating best friend right now. London would be incredibly hot if she wasn’t such a raging bitch. I look at my call log and see this is the third time she’s called.

I walk down the strip a little, and after a few deep breaths, I call her back.

“Ian, you need to come to my house.”

I smirk. “Well, this is a first. Did you have the stick removed from your ass?”

“Don’t. Not today, please. Just come here.” I hear her sniff and my protectiveness kicks in. Someone made her cry. We don’t get along at all—partly because we’re polar opposites and partly because of our history—but no one gets to make her cry.

“Are you hurt?” I ask.

“Not in the way you think.” Her voice hitches.

I’ve known London for twenty-five years. I can count on one hand how many times I’ve seen or heard her cry—I was the reason one of those times.

“What’s wrong? Is it an emergency? Because I’m at work and the club—”

“Now, Ian. You need to come here now.”

She also doesn’t play games.

Fuck.

I look at my watch and blow a deep breath through my nose. It’ll take me at least thirty minutes to get there. This is seriously a shitty night. “I’ll be there as soon as I can.”

“Just . . . hurry,” London says and hangs up.

Dread pulls at my stomach, telling me there’s something going on. I don’t know what, but I know I need to get there.

“Get rid of the line, no more get in,” I tell the bouncer, and then head inside.

Drea is at the bar, and my anxiety is starting to grow. London needs me there, why? What happened? Did someone break into her house? Mine? Maybe it has to do with an ex, if she even has one, or it could be nothing like that. Regardless, her voice was shaky and I can’t waste time wondering.

“I have to go,” I tell Drea.

Her eyes widen. “Go? Go where? It’s a packed house.”

“I’m aware of that, but something came up. I need you to handle things tonight.” I turn to Toby. “Stay until Drea is done closing and I want you to escort her to her car at the end of the night.”

He nods.

I never let her walk out of here alone. Even if I have someone coming home with me, Drea’s not going to be unescorted. Too many men get the wrong impression because she’s nice to them. Over my dead body will she be hurt as a result of working at my club.

After I get in the car, my mind is racing. I drive faster than I should, telling myself that London is just being dramatic.

And then I remember . . . she has my nephew and nieces at her house.

My foot pushes down on the pedal of my Jaguar, making the engine howl with each mile. I turn into the development where we both live, pass my house, and head to hers. I still hate that our backyards touch. Every damn day I see her sitting out on her deck, reading her books, looking down at me with her disapproving attitude.

When I get there, the flashing lights of a police car brighten the road. I don’t think. I don’t know if I even put the car in park before I’m out of the vehicle.

“London!” I yell as I rush through the door. “Christopher? Morgan? Ruby?” I call out for the kids, praying it’s not one of them.

When I get to the living room, I release a heavy sigh—they’re all there, not hurt.

Then I see the tears streaming down Morgan’s face. London gets to her feet. Her eyes are red, puffy, and black mascara runs down her cheeks. “Ian.” She chokes on my name.

“What’s wrong? What happened?”

The girls start to cry again, and my nephew pulls them into his arms.

London moves toward me, placing her hand on my chest. “They’re gone.”

“Who?” I ask, confused.

“Sabrina and David,” she whispers.

Yeah, they went on a trip. Why the hell are they crying? “This is what you called me for? They’ll be home in a few days. Why are you crying too?” I ask.

Her green eyes meet mine and her lips part. “No.” She shakes her head. “They won’t.”

I look over at the kids again, and then to the muted television. My feet move closer, because I have to be sure the words flashing across the screen say what I think they say. “Flight 1184 crashes off the coast of Hawaii. Three hundred missing and presumed dead.”

My sister was going to Hawaii.

My sister is gone.

I sink to my knees in front of the kids, unsure what to say. They just lost their parents, and my heart is breaking. My sister was my best friend. She was the one who pushed me to open Veil and do what I wanted. I’ve always had her support, and now she’s gone.

Christopher lifts his head, his brown eyes filled with unshed tears. “They’ll find them,” he says with conviction.

“Okay,” I reply. We both know it’s a lie, but it’s one he has to tell himself. I remember being fifteen; there was no telling me I was wrong.

“Dad wouldn’t . . .” he starts, and then stops as his lip quivers.

My own tears start to fall, as Morgan grabs my hand. “What do we do now?”

I have no fucking clue. How do I tell these kids how to survive? I’m the last person in the world equipped to give this advice. I look to London. Her hand touches my shoulder and she wipes the tears that fall silently down her cheeks.

“We hold each other close,” she says.

HoldYouClose-AN

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