Review: First and Forever (Jay McLean)

First and Forever
Series: Heartache Duet, #2
Author: Jay McLean
Publication Date: July 12, 2019
Genre: Young Adult, New Adult, Contemporary Romance, Sports
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

First and Forever is the second book in the Heartache Duet, and must be read after Heartache and Hope.

Duet Synopsis:
Ava Diaz needs saving.
She just doesn’t know it yet.
Just like she doesn’t know a thing about the boy she sits next to on the first day of senior year.
He thinks she’s a brat.
She thinks he’s entitled.
Maybe first impressions don’t always last…
Because Connor Ledger’s about to save her.
He just doesn’t know why.


First and Forever is the second book in the Heartache Duet. It is the conclusion to Ava and Connor’s story. You have to read Heartache and Hope prior to reading this book because First and Forever picks up where the story left off.

Connor and Ava’s relationship was full of ups and downs. There were lots of moment of back and forth in relationship status. It was both frustrating and understandable. As high school students, they lacked the maturity their situations called for at times. I got frustrated with Connor for keeping important secrets. I was irritated with Ava for avoiding everything she should have been facing head on. Even though I thought the characters needed to grow up, I understood their immaturity and struggles. I liked how they shaped the story. They both learned some valuable lessons.

First and Forever made me love Connor even more. I didn’t always get his dedication to Ava, but I loved the way he supported her. He stood by her when others had walked away. He developed an amazing relationship with her mother and it wasn’t just to win Ava over. I loved that he was always looking at his end game.

Ava wasn’t my favorite, but she grew on me. Like I said before, she was good at avoiding. Some of the things I learned in this book helped explain her, and I was able to make some connections with her actions.

I have a couple of things I want to say that don’t really fit well anywhere in this review. The first is that I didn’t like how the whole Peter thing was dealt with. There was a big build up to it, but when it came time to go into it I was told rather than shown. I wish there had been more attention on that moment. Second, Heartache and Hope was definitely YA. First and Forever felt liked it moved from YA to NA. It was definitely a more mature read.

First and Forever was a great ending to the Heartache Duet. It brought Ava and Connor’s story full circle in a way that felt organic to the characters and the story. Jay McLean did a great job with Ava and Connor’s end game.

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Heartache and Hope
Amazon Global: mybook.to/JMacHH
Ava Diaz needs saving.
She just doesn’t know it yet.
Just like she doesn’t know a thing about the boy she sits next to on the first day
of senior year.
He thinks she’s a brat.
She thinks he’s entitled.
Maybe first impressions don’t always last…
Because Connor Ledger’s about to save her.
He just doesn’t know why.

First and Forever
Amazon Global: mybook.to/JMacFF

About the Author:
Jay McLean is an international best-selling author and full-time reader, writer of New
Adult and Young Adult romance, and skilled procrastinator. When she’s not doing
any of those things, she can be found running after her three little boys, investing
way too much time on True Crime Documentaries and binge-watching reality TV.
She writes what she loves to read, which are books that can make her laugh, make
her hurt and make her feel.

Jay lives in the suburbs of Melbourne, Australia, in her dream home where music is
loud and laughter is louder.

For publishing rights (Foreign & Domestic) Film or television, please contact
her
agent Erica Spellman-Silverman, at Trident Media Group.
Writer • Reader • Mom • Wife • Master of Awkward Sarcasm. 
Contact Jay:

Review: Kozart (J. Nathan)

Kozart
Author: J. Nathan
Publication Date: July 10, 2019
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Kozart Savage is the world’s biggest rock star.
At twenty-five, he’s got it all. Money. Fame. And the adoration of fans everywhere.
He thought that was enough to make him forget his past.
Enough to transform his distrusting heart.
Turns out that’s not how it works…
Then he meets a bridesmaid hiding out in a hotel bar.
Probably the only girl on the planet who doesn’t know who he is.
But she seems to be the one girl who can give him something no one else can.

Aubrey Prescott just discovered her boyfriend cheating—at her sister’s wedding.
Trying to escape humiliation, she seeks refuge in a hotel bar.
While trying to figure out how to pick up the pieces of what was supposed to be an amazing senior year in college, a handsome stranger interrupts her wallowing.
A stranger who quickly makes her forget why she’s there.
One who, after an unforgettable night, disappears without a second glance.

But walking away doesn’t always mean letting someone go.


Rock star romances aren’t always my favorite, but I knew I had to read Kozart for a couple of reasons. One, I love J. Nathan’s writing and new adult romances. Two, there was something about Aubrey meeting Kozart in a hotel bar after finding her boyfriend cheating on her that caught my interest. I think it was partly that she didn’t know who he was. The entire scenario sounded fun. It was, too.

Aubrey and Kozart had a fun chemistry. I loved how they met and the instant connection they had. Things moved a little slowly between them at first and they way their relationship progressed was perfect. They truly got to know each other. I loved the secrets they shared and the excitement of their romance. It didn’t feel like the typical rock star romance other than the very start. It was a sweeter story.

The only thing I could possibly complain about was that the plot twist was slightly predictable. That didn’t bother me, though. I liked being able to figure things out ahead of time because it took some of the angst out of the situation for me. It was had just enough angst to feel believable, but also left me feeling happy.

That’s what this book really did. It made me incredibly happy. I loved every minute of reading Kozart. It’s definitely one of my favorite rock star romances now.

Review: One Little Lie (Whitney Barbetti)

One Little Lie
Author: Whitney Barbetti
Publication Date: June 27, 2019
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Blurb:

Adam Oliver hated me. Loathed my very existence. He had every right to, but that didn’t make my life any easier the afternoon I had to rescue him on the side of the road. But worse than rescuing a guy who hated me to his core was the lie I told my parents. Because I’d just told them that my long-term boyfriend was finally back in town. My long-term boyfriend who didn’t actually exist. The one named Adam Oliver—the guy I’d crushed on all through high school. So the real Adam had no idea that he and I were engaged in a years-long, committed, serious relationship. And, somehow, some way, I needed to convince him to play along with my one little lie.


I have been obsessed with Whitney Barbetti’s writing since I read her Mad Love duet. I was so impressed by that duet that I read some of her back list books. I’ve also kept an eye out for her new releases. When I read the blurb for One Little Lie I knew I had to read it. I love enemies to lovers romances and this one sounded pretty epic with that one little lie.

Ms. Barbetti’s writing was just as addictive as I remembered it being. I was immediately wrapped up in the characters and the emotions of the story. The tension between Hollis and Adam was palpable. The angst… There was just the right amount of it. I didn’t feel too overwhelmed by it. It was spread pretty evenly throughout the book and only really amped up in the right moments. There was also a ton of fun banter to even things out and bring a lighter feel when needed.

I really loved both Hollis and Adam. Hollis was the good girl from a rich family that did as she was told. She didn’t seem to have much of a backbone, hence the one little lie. I liked how she grew throughout this book and learned to be her best self. Also, her crush on Adam was super cute. Adam was Hollis’ opposite. He was a guy who dealt with the hardships life tossed at him. He stood up for his beliefs without worrying what others thought. He also had this huge chip on his shoulder.

Hollis and Adam’s fake relationship felt different from ones I have read before — even the enemies to lovers one. I think that’s because it felt more slow burn. It wasn’t just slow burn in the romance department. It was slow burn in the tension between the characters and Adam getting over his feelings of being wronged by Hollis. He really held onto his preconceived notions for a long time. I liked that because it made the story feel more real. People can hold grudges. They don’t always hold them for very long in books. Adam was the exception and his reasoning was easy to relate to.

Another great thing about One Little Lie was the secondary characters. I loved how Hollis and Adam were connected through their friends. I really liked Keane and Navy. I’m hoping they will each get a book. I also really loved Adam’s sweet relationship with his sister Casey and his grandmother.

There wasn’t anything that I didn’t like about One Little Lie. It was just such a great enemies to lovers romance. You won’t want to miss it if that trope is your jam.

Purchase Links:

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Review: Let Go (Allie Winters)

Let Go
Author: Allie Winters
Publication Date: June 30, 2019
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ 

Synopsis:

She keeps her heart locked up tight

Putting yourself out there? Getting close to others? No, thanks, I’ll pass. It’s safer to keep to yourself. I’ve learned that lesson the hard way. So when I accidentally tell the muscled hunk I’ve been secretly drooling over all semester how I really feel about him, it’s not like I meant for him to take an interest in me. I don’t want a boyfriend. Not even when it turns out he’s so much more than just brawn.

My goal for so long has been simple – get into grad school. And when I get a dream TA position at the beginning of the new semester that will help me achieve just that, I’ll have to forget about him now that he’s my student. Easy, right?

He wants her to let go of all that control

I can’t get her out of my head – the shy, sexy brunette that’s trying so hard to keep me at a distance. I can be patient, though. Anything to break through that reserve and get under her shields. But just when I thought I’ve succeeded, she’s off-limits. Say hello to my new TA. Even though I’m hot for teacher, there’s no way she would risk this opportunity. Right?


I had a hard time melding all of my thoughts for Let Go into a review, so I’m going to be breaking things down by the good, the bad, and the confusing. Here we go!

The good:

  • Let Go is Allie Winters’ debut novel. Her writing was good. What happened in Let It Go felt like something that could happen in real life. The descriptions were great and she was able to blend both seriousness and humor into one story. It was filled with awkward moments that were priceless. I can imagine that over time Allie Winters’ writing is really going to shine.
  • Charlotte and Luke’s relationship was cute. I liked them together. She was kind of weird and uptight, and he was more relaxed and fun. Luke balanced Charlotte out in a lot of great ways.

The bad:

  • Let Go started out slow. The first couple of chapters are Charlotte’s thoughts and stuff that happens to her without any real interactions from Luke. I found Charlotte annoying in those first couple of chapters. It wasn’t until Luke and Charlotte actually interacted that I became invested. It would have been nice if that would have happened in the first chapter.

The confusing:

  • This felt almost like two books in one. When you read the blurb, it sounds like a student – TA romance. I actually forgot all about that part of the blurb because the first 44% was Charlotte and Luke building up to a relationship. Then at 44% the student – TA thing popped up. It was slighting jarring.
  • The switch at 44% also brought with it a different feel to the book. The only way I can think to describe it is that Charlotte’s character quickly changed a bit. She was more awkward in the first part. In the second she became more mature and adventurous. It’s not that I didn’t like this Charlotte, I just wasn’t completely sold on the change.

Back to the good:

  • Luke was the character who shined. He was the constant in this book. His feelings and thoughts never wavered. I liked how pure his intentions were and how he pushed Charlotte a bit.
  • Looking back on the entire book, I can say I really enjoyed Luke and Charlotte’s relationship. There were so many funny and entertaining things that happened or were said. Like I said before, it was cute.

Overall, I would say I enjoyed reading this book despite feeling a little thrown off by some of it. My favorite thing about it was how humorous and close to real life it was.

Review: Teardrop Shot (Tijan)

Teardrop Shot
Author: Tijan
Publication Date: June 24, 2019
Publisher: Tijan
Genre: Contemporary Romance, New Adult, Sports
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

I asked for his criteria for bed buddies-that’s the PG version.

He swore at me and said he didn’t do groupies. And just like that, our friendship was off to a great start.

Reese Forster was the starting point guard for the Seattle Thunder.

Gorgeous. Cocky. Loved by the nation.

He’s also attending preseason basketball training camp where I used to work.

Correction: where I work again, because I was fired from my last job.

And dumped.

And I might have a tiny bit of baggage, but that’s normal. Right?

Reese and I shouldn’t have become friends. We shouldn’t have become roommates.

And we really shouldn’t have started sleeping together … (Except we did.)

I’m adorably psychotic. He’s in the NBA.
This is not a disaster waiting to happen, at all.


I feel like Tijan heard my prayers and answered with Teardrop Shot. I have been rereading and revisiting her published books over and over again this spring. I love the affect her writing has on my emotions, and I have been really into that lately. Teardrop Shot gave me a new book of Tijan’s to fall in love with.

What made me love Teardrop Shot? Pretty much everything about it. It had that Tijan infused emotion I was begging for. What impressed me was that the heavy emotions didn’t take over and make this book depressing. There was a lightness and fun to it despite what the characters were feeling. It was uplifting rather than depressing.

When I first met Charlie’s character I was a little worried I wasn’t going to like her. She was odd. Charlie grew on me quickly, though. She had this question thing going on that I adored. It kind of made the book. Her truths truly surprised me and shaped this story in an unexpected way that I loved. I have to admit I shed a few tears over what went down with Damien.

Reese… You’re going to love him. That’s probably all I need to say about him.

Another major player in Teardrop Shot were the settings. I loved the camp setting. It made for such a great introduction between Charlie and Reese. Plus, it enabled me to get to know both Charlie and Reese’s friends at the same time. Those friendships were so special and fun. The only bad thing about camp was Charlie’s boss. I hated that guy!

Teardrop Shot also took us to Seattle. Being from Western Washington, it was fun to see Seattle get a basketball team. We (the people of Seattle) are still not happy with the Sonics’ move to Oklahoma. Which leads to me to my biggest beef with this book — Tijan, how could you make the team name the Seattle Thunder?!?! That was just wrong! It’s either got to be the Sonics or a made up team.

I guess I can forgive that Seattle Thunder thing, though, because I loved every minute I spent with Teardrop Shot. It’s a must read if you like sports romance.

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Review: N9NE (TM Frazier)

N9ne - BT banner.jpg

nine front

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 series 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: 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: Pretty Reckless (L.J. Shen)

Pretty Reckless
Series: All Saints High, #1
Author: L.J. Shen
Publication Date: April 21, 2019

Publisher: L.J. Shen
Genre: Young Adult, New Adult, Sports, Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

From USA Today and Washington Post bestselling author L.J. Shen comes an intense, high school enemies-to-lovers romance with a twist.

Penn

They say revenge is a dish best served cold.
I’d had four years to stew on what Daria Followhill did to me, and now my heart was completely iced.
I took her first kiss.
She took the only thing I loved.
I was poor.
She was rich.
The good thing about circumstances? They can change. Fast.
Now, I’m her parents’ latest shiny project.
Her housemate. Her tormentor. The captain of the rival football team she hates so much.
Yeah, baby girl, say it—I’m your foster brother.
There’s a price to pay for ruining the only good thing in my life, and she’s about to shell out some serious tears.
Daria Followhill thinks she is THE queen. I’m about to prove to her that she’s nothing but a spoiled princess.

Daria

Everyone loves a good old unapologetic punk.
But being a bitch? Oh, you get slammed for every snarky comment, cynical eye roll, and foot you put in your adversaries’ way.
The thing about stiletto heels is that they make a hell of a dent when you walk all over the people who try to hurt you.
In Penn Scully’s case, I pierced his heart until he bled out, then left it in a trash can on a bright summer day.
Four years ago, he asked me to save all my firsts for him.
Now he lives across the hall, and I want nothing more than to be his last everything.
His parting words when he gave me his heart were that nothing in this world is free.
Now? Now he is making me pay.


Pretty Reckless is the first book in the All Saints High series. This series is a spin-off of the Sinners of Saint series. You don’t have to read that series to read this one, but since Daria is the daughter of Melody and Jamie from Deny, it doesn’t hurt to know their back story.

The connection between All Saints High and Sinners of Saint is actually the reason I chose to read Pretty Reckless. I was a little on the fence because of the reviews I read. They were either completely gushing or completely negative. There wasn’t really an in between and worried me for some reason. I loved those Sinners of Saint books, so I didn’t want to hate Pretty Reckless. Weird rationalizing, I know. As you can tell, I decided to give it a go. Here are my feelings about it.

What I liked:

  • Daria’s relationship with her mother, Melody. To be honest, it was a horrible relationship. What I liked about it was that it was a real relationship. Both had made mistakes over time with each other, and it was interesting to see how they maneuvered through the tension.
  • Daria’s relationship with her father, Jamie. This was actually really sweet. I liked the support system he was for her.
  • Via. That girl was the perfect girl to keep Daria on her toes. I loved hating her.
  • Daria was another girl I loved to hate. This MC was HORRIBLE. I mean, wicked. I thought I was going to hate her, but I grew to understand her. Her backstory really set her up well. I ended up feeling sorry for her, which is saying something considering the terrible things that came out of her mouth.
  • Penn. His situation was messed up, which made him messed up. I loved his truths, though.
  • The enemies to lovers thing Daria and Penn had going on. The story behind it all and their current situation fascinated me.
  • The ending. I liked the trajectory of the story, and everything it took to get to the ending.
  • Seeing all of the Saints’ kids. I am looking forward to reading all of their books.

What I didn’t like:

  • Daria is the child of one of the toughest, most ruthless men in town. I knew her book was going to be dark like his. What I wasn’t expecting was there to be so much shock value. It was like L.J. Shen threw in every twisted scenario she could think of. There was almost too much. I think what threw me over that edge was this secrets thing. I won’t go into it, but it brought this cheesy feel to something that was super dark… Maybe that’s what gave this book the YA feel it needed.
  • YA. Yeah, this categorization is pushing it. Pretty Reckless was set at All Saints High, but with all the nasty things going on it felt more like one of Shen’s NA novels. The reader would have to be a VERY mature YA reader to read this one, in my opinion. (Re: Sex, partying, emotional/physical abuse, etc.)

Overall, I enjoyed being back in the world of the Saints. Pretty Reckless was a dark but surprisingly uplifting teenage romance. It has me excited for what’s to come. This new generation at All Saints High is going to be about an interesting bunch of teenagers.

Review: Boyfriend Bargain (Ilsa Madden-Mills)

BB - BT banner.jpg

Boyfriend Bargain
Author: Ilsa Madden-Mills
Publication Date: May 5, 2019
Genre: New Adult, Sports, Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Wall Street Journal bestselling author Ilsa Madden-Mills returns with an all-new swoon-fest of a novel about what happens when you take a chance on love.

Wanted: one hot guy with rock-hard abs and a big stick.

Broke and desperate, Sugar Ryan has no use for arrogant, bad boy athletes . . . until she’s forced to bargain with the cockiest of them all.

If only he knew she was alive.

Her mission? Get on this hockey player’s radar any way possible.

Zack Morgan is the king of the ice and the bedroom—but nothing prepares him for the mystery girl who shows up everywhere he does—frat parties, his favorite bar, and finally his front door with an offer he can’t refuse. The only rule in her boyfriend bargain: no falling in love.

But after one (um, two) smoking-hot hookups, he’s done with pretending and vows to make their fake relationship real. Too bad she can’t trust a player with a reputation for breaking hearts.

Will this hockey star score his forever girl or will their Boyfriend Bargain end in heartbreak?


Boyfriend Bargain is easily a book I could gush on and on about, so I’m going to keep things contained by giving you lists of what I loved about this book and what I had some questions about. Here we go!

What I loved:

  • Zack’s mental health issues. So many people are going to be able to identify with his feelings and his worries about how he would be perceived because of it.
  • Sugar’s feelings regarding her ex and how that affected things with Zack.
  • Sugar’s family relationships. There was some drama and a lot of feelings about her father. This storyline really interested me.
  • The whole Willow part of the story. I would have felt the same way as Sugar. It was a little freaky on Zack’s end.
  • Mean girl Veronica. She was perfectly mean!
  • Zack’s relationship with his brother.
  • Both Zack and Sugar’s friends. They were both funny and supportive. I loved the moments with them.
  • Zack and Sugar’s entire relationship. I loved the ups and the downs. Their connection was perfect.
  • Pretty much the entire book. It was an addictive read. As always, I loved Ilsa Madden-Mills’ writing style.

What I thought was missing:

  • The title of this book is Boyfriend Bargain. While the book starts off with one, it quickly goes the wayside. It’s not that I was bothered by that fact. I just found it a little weird because it wasn’t as big part of the plot as I thought it would be. I expected more drama around it.

Overall, I just really enjoyed reading Boyfriend Bargain. I am hoping Ms. Madden-Mills turns this into a series because I would love books about the other characters.

BB - AN

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Excerpt:

“We should kiss, just get it out of the way and move on,” I say, sure of the crazy idea as each second passes. There’s a hitch in Z’s breath, and his eyes go straight to my lips. “Works for me.” “But just one. None of that fancy tongue work.” “Afraid of falling in love with me?” He grins. Well. My eyes take in the broad shoulders and the dragon tattoo on his muscled chest. He’s definitely my type: pure, grade A male hotness—exactly what I don’t need. “I won’t fall in love.” Another grin. “Liar.”

About Ilsa Madden-Mills

Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and USA Today best-selling author Ilsa Madden-Mills is best known for her contemporary romances ranging from new adult angst to romantic sports comedy. Seven of her ten novels have placed in the Amazon US Store Top Six Best-seller List: Dirty English hit #1; Fake Fiancée and I Dare You hit #2; I Bet You, Filthy English, and Very Bad Things all placed #6 in the Amazon US Store. The Last Guy, her collaboration with Tia Louise, hit #4. A former high school English teacher, she adores all things Pride and Prejudice, and of course, Mr. Darcy is her ultimate hero. She’s addicted to frothy coffee beverages, cheesy magnets, and any book featuring unicorns and sword-wielding females. Feel free to stalk her online. Ilsa head shot-2

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Review: Top Secret (Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy)

Top Secret
Authors: Sarina Bowen, Elle Kennedy
Publication Date: May 5, 2019
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance, LGBTQ+
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

LobsterShorts, 21
Jock. Secretly a science geek. Hot AF.

LobsterShorts: So. Here goes. For her birthday, my girlfriend wants…a threesome.

SinnerThree: Then you’ve come to the right hookup app.

LobsterShorts: Have you done this sort of thing before? With another guy?

SinnerThree: All the time. I’m an equal opportunity player. You?

LobsterShorts: [crickets!]

SinnerThree, 21
Finance major. Secretly a male dancer. Hot AF.

SinnerThree: Well, I’m down if you are. My life is kind of a mess right now. School, work, family stress. Oh, and I live next door to the most annoying dude in the world. I need the distraction. Are you sure you want this?

LobsterShorts: I might want it a little more than I’m willing to admit.

SinnerThree: Hey, nothing wrong with pushing your boundaries…

LobsterShorts: Tell that to my control-freak father. Anyway. What if this threesome is awkward?

SinnerThree: Then it’s awkward. It’s not like we’ll ever have to see each other again. Right? Just promise you won’t fall in love with me.

LobsterShorts: Now wouldn’t that be life-changing…

Q&A about Top Secret:

Q: Have we met these characters before in another book?
A: No! These guys are brand new, and we can’t wait for you to meet them.

Q: Is this story MM? Or is it a MMF / MFM / menage?
A: This book is MM.

Q: Is this a love triangle story?
A: Not really. You’ll see.


Top Secret his to be the BEST secret release of the year! I mean, who names a secret release Top Secret? That’s so incredibly smart! Everyone has been begging Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy to give us another book together and I’m shocked they delivered! (Only because they kept saying they weren’t going to be writing together.) WOOHOO!!!

I hate to admit it, but I did not read the blurb before starting Top Secret. I knew it was a M/M romance, but that was about it. I had no idea there was this whole threesome plot going on. When I got to that part in the beginning, I have to say it made me stop, cringe, and wonder how messy things were going to get. I’m not really a fan of love triangles, so… I just had to put my faith in my favorite collaborators’ hands. I’m so happy I did because Top Secret was an incredibly fun read.

As you can tell by the blurb, LobsterShorts and SinnerThree meet in a chat room where LobsterShorts is trying to set up a threesome at his girlfriend’s request. I absolutely loved the banter that went on in the messages they exchanged. The messages were witty, but they also had depth to them. These two guys got to know each other in an emotionally intimate way prior to meeting, so that the emotional connection was there first. This was really important to the characters and the story…

And that’s all you are getting about the plot. I refuse to give anything away! What I will say is that if you’re a fan of Him and Us, you are going to be a fan of this book. The combination of Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy’s writing is magic. They know how to combine humor with emotion in the best way. There are a ton of great surprises and characters you’re going to love in Top Secret. I didn’t want this book to end. I adored LobsterShorts and ThreeSinners. I’m so happy Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy graced us with a new book. (Is it too early to beg for another?)