Review: N9NE (TM Frazier)

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N9NE: The Tale of Kevin Clearwater
Series: King, #9
Author: TM Frazier
Publication Date: June 18, 2019
Publisher: Frazier Publishing
Genre: Romance, Dark, New Adult
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Nine lives.

Nine inches.

One chance to make her his.

Preppy’s brother is about to live up to the family legacy in more ways than one.

This is the story of Nine, The Tale of Kevin Clearwater.


I have been looking forward to reading this book since Kevin “Nine” Clearwater popped up on the scene in Preppy’s books. I had so many questions about the dude. It was fun getting all the answers.

Nine was just as dastardly as I expected. His past and present made him that way. The thing about Nine, though, was that he had a heart underneath all that bad boy. He stood up for those he cared about. He took down those who did them and him wrong. I loved how his past and present collided with Lenny. She was the perfect girl for him. Their story was such an adventure! I loved how connected everything was.

I did have one little pet peeve. Nine’s past trauma… Why does almost every character in this book suffer through the same thing? I was like, here we go again… Are there no other horrible things that could happen? I also felt like his issues with it disappeared without any real examination. Neither of these things truly altered my enjoyment of this dark romance. I was just hoping for something a little less predictable.

N9ne -AN

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Excerpt:

I look up into his dark eyes. “This is a dangerous game of cat and mouse we’re playing.” “More like a game of cat and bird,” he corrects. I straighten my posture, my nipples grazing his hard chest. “And we all know how that turns out in the end. The cat eats the bird.” Nine lightly scrapes his nails over my bare arms before pressing them into my skin. I gasp at the slight bite of pain. “No, the pretty bird swoops down from nowhere and sinks her sharp talons into the cat, marking him for life.” There’s no sarcasm in his voice. I don’t know how to begin to process what it is he’s saying. It takes all of my concentration to get out my next few words. “And…and then what?” Nine picks me up off the floor in one quick motion, flipping me back onto the bed. He crawls over my body, hovering above me, pinning my wrists to the mattress. He grazes his teeth over the sensitive spot behind my ear. He lowers his voice to a deliciously deep rumble that has me vibrating with his every word. “And then he eats her.”

About the Author

T.M. (Tracey Marie) Frazier never dreamed that a single person would ever read a word she wrote when she published her first book. Now, she is a five-time USA Today bestselling author and her books have been translated into numerous languages and published all around the world. T.M. enjoys writing what she calls sexy‘wrongside of the tracks romance’ with morally corrupt anti-heroes and ballsy heroines. Her books have been described as raw, dark and gritty. Basically, what that means, is while some authors are great at describing a flower as it blooms, T.M. is better at describing it in the final stages of decay. She loves meeting her readers, but if you see her at an event please don’t pinch her because she’s not ready to wake up from this amazing dream. T.M.Frazier

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Review: Justified (Jay Crownover)

Justified
Series: Loveless, Texas, #1
Author: Jay Crownover
Publication Date: June 25, 2019
Publisher: Forever
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

The New York Times bestselling author of the Marked Men series delivers a romance about a rugged Texas sheriff who must protect the woman who was once his sworn enemy…

Case Lawton comes from a family of criminals. So as the sheriff of Loveless, Texas, he’s determined to do everything by the book–until he’s called to Aspen Barlow’s office after a so-called break-in. The last thing he wants to do is help the woman who cost him custody of his son. But Aspen isn’t the heartless lawyer Case remembers, and he starts to question his long-held grudge…

Aspen is scared for her life, and Case is her last hope for protection. But to get him on her side, she’ll have to reveal the painful truth from all those years ago. Now, as they work together to track down a dangerous criminal, Case and Aspen learn to trust each other. And as the threats escalate, it becomes clear there’s a thin line between love and hate… because there’s nothing Case wouldn’t do to keep her safe.


Justified was one of those solid romantic reads. Aspen and Case were enemies at the start and their dramatic interactions were perfect. I loved how Case hated her while Aspen wished he didn’t. They way their walls came down when they were forced to share space and trust each other was fun to read. Things went quickly between them, but it felt natural with all that was going on.

And there was a ton going on! I’m not normally into romantic suspense, but Justified had just the right kind and amount of it. I was very curious to know who had it out for Aspen and why. I have to admit I was shocked who was behind everything. I didn’t see it coming at all!

One of my favorite things about this book was Case’s relationship with his son, Hayes. It really showed what a great man Case was. I liked how he supported his son when it came to his mother and relationships with girls. I also liked how Aspen fit into that relationship.

Justified was another great romance by Jay Crownover. There wasn’t one thing I didn’t like about it. I truly enjoyed every minute I spent with it. I can’t wait to read what’s next in this series!

Review: The Wedding Party (Jasmine Guillory)

The Wedding Party
Series: The Wedding Date, #3
Author: Jasmine Guillory
Publication Date: July 16, 2019
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Maddie and Theo have two things in common:

1. Alexa is their best friend
2. They hate each other

After an “oops, we made a mistake” night together, neither one can stop thinking about the other. With Alexa’s wedding rapidly approaching, Maddie and Theo both share bridal party responsibilities that require more interaction with each other than they’re comfortable with. Underneath the sharp barbs they toss at each other is a simmering attraction that won’t fade. It builds until they find themselves sneaking off together to release some tension when Alexa isn’t looking, agreeing they would end it once the wedding is over. When it’s suddenly pushed up and they only have a few months left of secret rendezvouses, they find themselves regretting that the end is near. Two people this different can’t possibly have a connection other than the purely physical, right?

But as with any engagement with a nemesis, there are unspoken rules that must be abided by. First and foremost, don’t fall in love.


The Wedding Party was one of those books that was a joy to read. It was so much fun. I loved how Maddie and Theo had this previous dislike for each other that resulted in some heated chemistry between them. Their little pact to keep things simple and away from Alexa was entertaining. I loved all the ups and downs that created. I also loved how their personalities fit together and how their relationship evolved. Even their little bit of drama was enjoyable to read.

There were a couple of things I found a little odd about this contemporary romance. It didn’t feel like a true enemies to lovers romance. I think that’s because their time as enemies was in another book. In this one, they were immediately attracted and started hooking up. It also had several kind of “fade to black” sexual encounters. That’s not something that bothers me, but it felt weird in this book because it’s about two people whose relationship is based on hooking up when their best friend isn’t around. It just struck me as odd. I’m also not really complaining about these two things because they didn’t ruin the story. I more thought they were interesting choices for the author.

The Wedding Date was a great summer read. It was a lighthearted romance that would be perfect for the pool or the beach, or just simply read at home.

Review: Something Like Gravity (Amber Smith)

Something Like Gravity
Author: Amber Smith
Publication Date: June 18, 2019
Publisher: Margaret K. Elderry Books
Genre: YA, LGBTQ+, Contemporary, Romance, Fiction
Note: This review is for an ARC an is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

For fans of Love, Simon and Eleanor and Park, a romantic and sweet novel about a transgender boy who falls in love for the first time—and how first love changes us all—from New York Times bestselling author Amber Smith.

Chris and Maia aren’t off to a great start.

A near-fatal car accident first brings them together, and their next encounters don’t fare much better. Chris’s good intentions backfire. Maia’s temper gets the best of her.

But they’re neighbors, at least for the summer, and despite their best efforts, they just can’t seem to stay away from each other.

The path forward isn’t easy. Chris has come out as transgender, but he’s still processing a frightening assault he survived the year before. Maia is grieving the loss of her older sister and trying to find her place in the world without her. Falling in love was the last thing on either of their minds.

But would it be so bad if it happened anyway?


The minute I heard Amber Smith was releasing another book, I knew I wanted to read it. I have been obsessed with her writing ever since I read The Way I Used To Be when it was released. Her stories are so beautiful and heart wrenching. She takes tough topics and dives in deep. I felt so emotionally touched by her first two releases. I couldn’t wait to start Something Like Gravity.

Something Like Gravity touched on a topic I haven’t read before. Chris being transgender was something I haven’t come across in any contemporary YA romance before. It was very interesting to me, but I cannot tell you whether or not the representation was done appropriately. I hope Chris’ thoughts about his body and feelings he had about everything were done in the best way possible because I can see them being easy to relate to. I also liked his thought process when it came to Maia and his interactions with her.

While I felt like Chris, his story, and his relationships with everyone were important and interesting, the rest of the book kind of bored me. Remember that boring summer you had at your grandparents’/aunt’s/uncle’s growing up? This book had that vibe. It’s set in a small town during the sleepy days of summer. I had to really push myself to read it. Almost everything Chris and Maia did was boring. And Maia…

Well, Maia is where the book lost me. Her point of view didn’t delve as deep as Chris’. She was grieving her sister’s death, her parents’ divorce, and a change in herself. I don’t feel like I got the nitty-gritty on any of those things. Everything with her felt surface level. I was missing something in some of her thoughts and actions. It’s not often I say this, but Something Like Gravity would have been better with only one point of view. I would have been more interested in hearing everything from Chris’ point of view.

Something Like Gravity had a lot of potential. It was written by a talented writer. There was a main character who was unique and had some experiences I was truly curious to find out more about. It just didn’t hit me on the emotional level it could have. It was still a good read, and I know there are going to be readers who it hits home with.

Review: Trouble at Brayshaw High (Meagan Brandy)

Trouble at Brayshaw High
Series: Brayshaw High, #2
Author: Meagan Brandy
Publication Date: May 28, 2019
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

“You don’t belong.”

No words whispered in anger have ever rung more true.

They’re the Kings of Brayshaw with the world at their feet, destined for greatness and in need of control.
I’m the girl from the ghetto with nothing to offer and as defiant as they come.

They say it doesn’t matter, that I’m one of them now, and nothing could ever change that. Not even me, should I dare try.

But they’re wrong.
They underestimate how far I’ll go to protect them.

Trouble is coming…and they have no idea.
—–

Trouble At Brayshaw High is the highly anticipated follow-up to Boys of Brayshaw High, and should be read only after having read book one.


Trouble at Brayshaw High begins pretty much where Boys of Brayshaw High left off. I have to admit I was a little confused at first because things took a turn from what I thought was coming based on the cliffhanger from the first book. The direction surprised me, but it was actually a welcome relief. I can’t explain that because it would spoil things, but I think anyone who read book one will be happy where book two ended up starting.

Things were the same but different in the Brayshaw world this time around. Raven and the Brayshaw boys still had to second guess every alliance and worry about their enemies’ moves. Some of Raven’s choices made this even harder to navigate. She frustrated the heck out of me in this book, but I guess that’s what kept the drama rolling.

This book was certainly overflowing with drama. It was so over the top and crazy. Some of it probably should have turned me off of this series, but it’s like that train wreck you can’t look away from. The hits kept coming. The mysteries kept popping up and the twists kept manipulating the story into something… Well, something. I don’t even know what to say about that because it went some uncomfortable places. I saw a lot of things coming, but I’m still in the dark and curious about others. I’m frustrated I’m waiting on another book in this series for answers!

Trouble at Brayshaw High was more exciting and even better than Boys at Brayshaw. That being said, it was stilling missing something for me: an emotional connection. I still haven’t connected with Raven’s character. I love her relationships with Maddoc, Royce, and Cap. There’s something sweet about each friendship (or relationship with Maddoc), but when I’m reading her POV I don’t feel a connection to her. It’s that investment in a character and their story that makes me really love a book. Hopefully the third book will give me that connection.

Review: Serious Moonlight (Jenn Bennett)

Serious Moonlight
Author: Jenn Bennett
Publication Date: April 16, 2019
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

After an awkward first encounter, Birdie and Daniel are forced to work together in a Seattle hotel where a famous author leads a mysterious and secluded life in this romantic contemporary novel from the author of Alex, Approximately.

Mystery-book aficionado Birdie Lindberg has an overactive imagination. Raised in isolation and homeschooled by strict grandparents, she’s cultivated a whimsical fantasy life in which she plays the heroic detective and every stranger is a suspect. But her solitary world expands when she takes a job the summer before college, working the graveyard shift at a historic Seattle hotel.

In her new job, Birdie hopes to blossom from introverted dreamer to brave pioneer, and gregarious Daniel Aoki volunteers to be her guide. The hotel’s charismatic young van driver shares the same nocturnal shift and patronizes the waterfront Moonlight Diner where she waits for the early morning ferry after work. Daniel also shares her appetite for intrigue, and he’s stumbled upon a real-life mystery: a famous reclusive writer—never before seen in public—might be secretly meeting someone at the hotel.

To uncover the writer’s puzzling identity, Birdie must come out of her shell…discovering that the most confounding mystery of all may be her growing feelings for the elusive riddle that is Daniel.


Serious Moonlight is a really hard book for me to review. I wanted to love it, but I didn’t. It started with my having a hard time getting into the story and connecting with the main character, Birdie. I didn’t liker her all that much in the beginning. Birdie was big on avoidance and self-centered. Both are understandable teenage traits, it was just hard to for me to read about over and over again. Plus, it took a longer time that I expected for Birdie and Daniel to connect and get the story really going. I didn’t feel connected to Birdie, Daniel, or the story until about half way through.

Why didn’t connect as quickly as I would have liked? I’m going to blame it on the setting of Seattle. I can tell from both this book and her author’s note that Jenn Bennett has a big love for the city of Seattle. I love that, but Seattle was a character and not a setting in this book. Serious Moonlight felt more like a random tour through Seattle than a story set there. I feel qualified to say this since I have lived in a suburb in between Seattle and Tacoma pretty much my entire life. It’s not that I don’t like reading about the Space Needle, Benaroya Hall, or Safeco Field (which no one in Seattle calls “the Safe” other than the newscasters and is now T-Mobile Park). I do. It just felt like there was a lot of name dropping of sites that took away from what was actually happening. 18 year-old Bridie, who was supposed to be sheltered and lived on Bainbridge Island, knew a lot more about the hidden parts of Seattle than I knew at that age. I also had issue with Birdie  referencing something like June Gloom. I don’t ever remembering hearing that term before. I had to Google it to make sure it was a thing. Washingtonians don’t talk about June Gloom. We just know that the rain and cloudy weather starts the end of October and we don’t expect sun until after the Fourth of July. Maybe someone with less Seattle knowledge wouldn’t be as bothered by it all as I was. (I know I am not the only one who has felt this way. I have read reviews by other people who have lived in WA, and they felt the same about some of this stuff.)

I started connecting more with the characters and their story when they started connecting. When Birdie stopped avoiding Daniel and they developed a friendship, I became interested. It’s then that I found the mystery they were on the quest to solve interesting. It was then that I started caring about Birdie and her narcolepsy, Daniel and his secrets, Birdie’s relationships with Mona… I could go on and on. Everything interested me after that. I ended up enjoying the second half of the book rather than wanting to abandon it. I’m happy I stuck with it and kept reading because there were a lot of good things in it.

Would I recommend reading Serious Moonlight? Yes. It wasn’t my favorite Jenn Bennett book, but there is a story worth reading in its pages.

Review: The Girl He Used to Know (Tracey Garvis Graves)

The Girl He Used to Know
Author: Tracey Garvis Graves
Narrators: Fred Berman, Kathleen McInerney
Publication Date: April 2, 2019
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Historical, Fiction

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Annika (rhymes with Monica) Rose is an English major at the University of Illinois. Anxious in social situations where she finds most people’s behavior confusing, she’d rather be surrounded by the order and discipline of books or the quiet solitude of playing chess.

Jonathan Hoffman joined the chess club and lost his first game–and his heart–to the shy and awkward, yet brilliant and beautiful Annika. He admires her ability to be true to herself, quirks and all, and accepts the challenges involved in pursuing a relationship with her. Jonathan and Annika bring out the best in each other, finding the confidence and courage within themselves to plan a future together. What follows is a tumultuous yet tender love affair that withstands everything except the unforeseen tragedy that forces them apart, shattering their connection and leaving them to navigate their lives alone.

Now, a decade later, fate reunites Annika and Jonathan in Chicago. She’s living the life she wanted as a librarian. He’s a Wall Street whiz, recovering from a divorce and seeking a fresh start. The attraction and strong feelings they once shared are instantly rekindled, but until they confront the fears and anxieties that drove them apart, their second chance will end before it truly begins.


The Girl He Used to Know was one of those books I wanted to read but didn’t really see myself getting to any time soon. After reading some great reviews for it, I decided to request the audiobook version so that I could fit it into my reading schedule faster. I’m happy I did that because I enjoyed listening to it.

The way this story told made it perfect for audio. Both Annika and Jonathan had their own points of view. Annika’s was set in both her 1990’s college years and 2001, but Jonathan’s was only in 2001. I liked that because of the way the story was set up and how the revelations were given. I think limiting Jonathan’s POV gave Annika’s more depth. It just worked so well.

Another great thing about the audio was the narrators. The narrators of The Girl He Used to Know were fantastic! Fred Berman embodied the calm Jonathan well. He (along with the author) gave him a tenderness that I loved. I was especially impressed with Kathleen McInerney as Annika. I couldn’t imagine Annika read any other way. She took on every essence of the character and made her feel like a real person.

As for the story itself, I liked it a lot. Annika was on the autism spectrum. The way her thoughts, emotions, and reactions were processed was interesting and a learning experience in a way. I loved seeing how she related to people and relationships with them. Her relationship with Jonathan fascinated me. I was even more interested in how Jonathan reacted to things she did and didn’t do. I loved that he loved her for the things that made her Annika. It was such a sweet love story with so many surprises.

Annika’s relationships with the other people around her also interested me. I loved her relationship with Janis and her mom. I also loved how her relationship with her brother, Will, played out. The relationships that were harder to like were those with people who didn’t understand her or treated her badly. I hated when she was hurt, but it also made me think a lot.

The thing that surprised me the most about The Girl He Used to Know didn’t really have anything to do with the relationships of this book. This book has a 2001 setting. I didn’t really connect that to September 11th when I started reading. That horrible date in history and the days after are featured toward the end of this book. It might be too much or too soon for some readers. For me, having lived through that time and remembering it now, it was a little hard. It brought back waiting to hear from my close friend who was a United Airlines flight attendant at the time and my husband (then fiancé) who was in Pennsylvania not too far from where the plane went down there. Those worries and disbelief of what was happening being replayed in my head was a little jarring.  It was also fascinating because I felt like the author gave a different look at the topic than some of the other books I’ve read who have broached that time frame. It was uncomfortable, but also something I respected the author for going there and bringing back into focus what people went through at that time in history (like how books do with WWII). It’s important to remember.

Overall, I found The Girl He Used to Know to be an emotional and unique listening experience. I would definitely recommend it.

Review: Passion on Park Avenue (Lauren Layne)

Passion on Park Avenue
Series: Central Park Pact, #1
Author: Lauren Layne
Publication Date: May 28, 2019
Publisher: Gallery Books
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

From the author of the New York Times bestselling Stiletto and Oxford series, the first in a sizzling new series following the unlikely friendship of three Upper East Side women as they struggle to achieve their dreams and find true love and happiness in the city that never sleeps.

For as long as she can remember, Bronx-born Naomi Powell has had one goal: to prove her worth among the Upper East Side elite—the same people for which her mom worked as a housekeeper. Now, as the strongminded, sassy CEO of one of the biggest jewelry empires in the country, Naomi finally has exactly what she wants—but it’s going to take more than just the right address to make Manhattan’s upper class stop treating her like an outsider.

The worst offender is her new neighbor, Oliver Cunningham—the grown son of the very family Naomi’s mother used to work for. Oliver used to torment Naomi when they were children, and as a ridiculously attractive adult, he’s tormenting her in entirely different ways. Now they find themselves engaged in a battle-of-wills that will either consume or destroy them…

Filled with charm and heart and plenty of sex and snark, this entertaining series will hook you from the very first page.


Sigh. I have been struggling a lot with books lately and getting into a good reading mood. Since I have loved and adored every single LL book out there, I decided to give Passion on Park Avenue the chance to get me out of my slump. It did, and yet it didn’t.

There were a lot of things that I loved about this book. At the beginning, it reminded me a lot of the movie The Other Woman. The way Naomi formed friendships with Claire and Audrey was cool. I loved how they supported each other even though they weren’t lifelong friends. I adored Oliver. He was such a great guy. The romance between Oliver and Naomi was sweet. My favorite moments revolved around them. I loved Naomi’s back story and how it related to Oliver and his father, Walter. The way she reacted to everything involving Walter was fun. I also liked Walter as a character all on his own. All these things are why LL is a go-to author for me. Her writing is excellent.

I hate to admit it, but there were things that didn’t work for me in this book. That usually doesn’t happen to me with LL’s books. I had a hard time loving Naomi to start with. She was just so off-putting with her need to reach a certain status or have and wear certain things. That’s not something I care about in life, and it sounded too braggy for my taste. I have a REALLY hard time with books that focus a lot on descriptions of clothing, accessories, etc. I am not a fan of being told what name brands are being worn. I get that a little needs to be done based on where this story is set (effluent NY), but I got tired of it really fast. The other thing that didn’t work for me was the whole TV show/Dylan thing. It just felt weird and out-of-place.

While Passion on Park Avenue wasn’t my favorite LL book, I still ended up enjoying it. It had some amazing friendships and a cute romance going for it. I’m looking forward to reading books about Audrey and Claire. I really loved them, so I am hoping to enjoy their books just as much.

Review: F*ck Marriage (Tarryn Fisher)

F*ck Marriage
Author: Tarryn Fisher
Publication Date: May 16, 2019
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Two years ago, Billie Tarrow’s husband left her for another woman. Shamed and divorced, Billie retreated to her family home in Port Townsend, far from her old life in New York. After a near-death encounter, Billie decides to return to the city that took everything from her.

But sometimes in the midst of heartache, hope suffocates the pain.

Satcher Gable has carried a torch for Billie for ten years. When she suddenly returns to New York a single woman, he can’t believe his good fortune. But convincing her to walk away from her heartache is proving more difficult than Satcher anticipated. A changed woman, Billie’s only goal is revenge.


I loved Fck Marriage. I devoured it as quickly as I could while simultaneously wishing I wouldn’t come to the end so soon. It’s hard to know what to say about it, what to tell you. Tarryn Fisher’s books are always ones I feel readers have to experience for themselves to understand the full meaning, the whole experience. Fck Marriage was that way.

The title alone seems to say anything but romance. My husband asked me as I was reading it if I was a romance. I said no. He proved to me on Amazon I was wrong, that it was. I told him a Tarryn Fisher “romance” isn’t the type of romance he was thinking of. Sure, it had some romantic parts to it, but the romance isn’t really the point. Or at least to me it’s not. F*ck Marriage to me was a journey of Billie’s healing and taking back her life after divorce. The romance was just extra — and honestly pretty messed up.

Tarryn Fisher’s mind has to be a fascinating place to be. Her words are so blunt and unapologetic. I highlighted a lot of things the characters said or thought throughout this book. There were so many poignant, inspirational, and thought provoking things to take in. My heart broke for the characters. I became sad and enraged for them. I worried about them. I was on edge so many time with what was happening or how it was making me feel. No matter how uncomfortable or heartbroken F*ck Marriage made me at times, it was also building me back up with love and understanding for the characters and their stories. It was weird to be feeling so many contradicting things at once, but also magical. So yeah, I loved this book.

If you’re curious about Fck Marriage, you should read it. It’s not a hate letter to marriage. It’s not overly dark or heavy on the romance. Fck Marriage is more a story about a woman surviving a divorce and heartbreak who is relearning who she is and defining what she wants. Whether you’re married, divorced, or single, there will be something that resonates with you. I know it made me appreciate the relationship I have even more than I already do.

Review: The Mister (E.L. James)

The Mister
Author: E.L. James
Narrators: Dominic Thorburn, Jessica O’Hara-Baker
Publication Date: April 16, 2019
Publisher: Random House Audio
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

The passionate new romance from E L James, author of the phenomenal #1 bestselling Fifty Shades Trilogy

London, 2019. Life has been easy for Maxim Trevelyan. With his good looks, aristocratic connections, and money, he’s never had to work and he’s rarely slept alone. But all that changes when tragedy strikes and Maxim inherits his family’s noble title, wealth, and estates, and all the responsibility that entails. It’s a role he’s not prepared for and one that he struggles to face.

But his biggest challenge is fighting his desire for an unexpected, enigmatic young woman who’s recently arrived in England, possessing little more than a dangerous and troublesome past.  Reticent, beautiful, and musically gifted, she’s an alluring mystery, and Maxim’s longing for her deepens into a passion that he’s never experienced and dares not name. Just who is Alessia Demachi? Can Maxim protect her from the malevolence that threatens her? And what will she do when she learns that he’s been hiding secrets of his own?

From the heart of London through wild, rural Cornwall to the bleak, forbidding beauty of the Balkans, The Mister is a roller-coaster ride of danger and desire that leaves the reader breathless to the very last page.


So… The Mister… You may wonder what made me want to read this book. To be honest, I was interested in what would come next for author E.L. James. I am one of the people who hopped on the 50 Shades hype back in the day and read all three books plus Grey. I actually liked the first three books. Grey not so much, but that’s okay. I wasn’t sure where E.L. James would go after that and Grey left me doubting whether or not I would like what was next. I did, for the most part.

If you’re wondering if E.L. James’ writing has changed much since her début series, the answer is no. It has exactly the same feel, so if it wasn’t for you then it wouldn’t be for you now. I didn’t find it to be a big deal because I didn’t expect anything else. She had a couple of different tenses going on in The Mister, so that took a while to get used to. Maxim’s POV was in first person while Alessia’s was in third person. By the end, I actually liked that. I think it helped that both of the narrators did a great job narrating their parts.

As for the actual story, I had to admit that I wasn’t immediately into it. It’s all Maxim’s fault. Dude was a manwhore. I don’t particularly like reading about a hero’s exploits with other women, so that made it hard to like Maxim at first. I kind of got the Caroline thing because it had to do with one part of the plot, but still…

Once Alessia was in the picture, it was easier to like Maxim. He seemed more authentic and like a better guy with her. Their relationship was way too insta-love, but I did find it to be cute. Of course, this is E.L. James’ book, so it was sexy as well. Not like 50 Shades, though. It was a more subtly sexy romance. Alessia and Maxim’s relationship would be considered vanilla to Christian Grey.

What really pulled me into the story and kept me reading wasn’t the romance. It was actually Alessia’s character and her past. It was mysterious and I liked how it unfolded. The dangers she faced made for an exciting plot. I also liked learning about her life in Albania and the differences between life in London.

Besides Maxim’s womanizing ways and the insta-love thing, my only other complaint would be about the ending. I couldn’t tell if this was the end for Maxim and Alessia or not. Things felt both concluded and open-ended — like there could maybe be more to come… or not? Personally, I was curious as to what might come next. I could have used an epilogue or maybe 2 more chapters. That’s what makes me think E.L. James might have a second book up her sleeves. I guess we’ll see.

Overall, I found The Mister to be an entertaining read. It wasn’t my favorite book, but it kept my interest and I ended up liking the characters.