Series Review: Kiss and Make Up by Sara Ney

Kissing in Cars
Series: Kiss and Make Up, #1
Author: Sara Ney
Publication Date: January 26, 2014
Publisher: CreateSpace
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Fiction
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Will she, or won’t she…

Studious and (mostly) sensible, the only thing Molly Wakefield wants to do is get through Senior Year and graduate. Well, that and hit the beach in her spare time. Okay, fine – and go shopping every once in a while for a new dress… (and who could blame her?)

And things are going according to plan – until the day she spies Weston McGrath, handsome star athlete and scholar, spying on her in study hall.

A tad creepy? Maybe.
Thrilling? Absolutely.

You see, Weston McGrath happens to be one guy no one can get close to.

Despite her best efforts to avoid it (because let’s face it – the guy isn’t exactly “boyfriend material”) Mollly and Weston form a friendship.
And more….
Sort of.
But it’s a friendship that comes with a price – because Weston just cannot seem to stop screwing things up. Or saying all the wrong things. Possibly in that order…
And who has time for an 18 year old “fixer-upper” that should know better?
Not Molly.
Or does she?

Review:

Oh my goodness.This book was so dang cute! Molly and Weston were just too adorable. I loved how everything went down between them. All the embarrassing, does he/she or doesn’t he/she like me moments were true the high school crush experience. It was cringe worthy, but sweet. Kissing in Cars was just so much fun to read. I felt like I was back in high school myself. I cannot wait to read the second book in this series!


He Kissed Me First
Series:
Kiss and Make Up, #2
Author: Sara Ney
Publication Date: November 27, 2014
Publisher: CreateSpace
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Fiction
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

“Trust me – If there’s one thing I’m not attracted to, it’s an arrogant, selfish and foul-mouth hockey player. I know what I want, and Matthew Wakefield isn’t it.” – Cecelia Carter

From the first moment they laid eyes on each other, all Cecelia Carter and Matthew Wakefield do is bicker. Fight. Even though he is her roommates brother, Cece just can’t stand the sight of him, and Matthew – well. He could never resist a challenge…

That can’t be a good combination, can it?
But sometimes, love happens when you least expect it.

Review:

I have mixed feelings about He Kissed Me First. On one hand, I loved Cecelia and Matthew’s banter. I loved what an idiot he was when it came to relationships and how everyone could see what he couldn’t. I loved how Molly and Weston from Kissing in Cars fit into the story and all of the new characters.

All of that was a lot of fun, but there were some things I wasn’t a big fan of. I didn’t really get Cecelia nor did I connect with her. She felt like a contradiction. Cecelia seemed liked the chick who didn’t care what she looked like, but then she had this uptight thing going on too. It just didn’t mesh well together. She had a major reaction to something Matthew said, but it wasn’t ever really explained and I didn’t get her reasoning. She just felt like this big mess while you knew what you were getting with Matthew.

Overall, He Kissed Me First was a fun read. I just expected a little more from it.


A Kiss Like This
Series: Kiss and Make Up, #3
Author: Sara Ney
Publication Date: May 31, 2015
Publisher: Sara Ney LLC
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Fiction
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

ABIGAIL DARLINGTON IS AWKWARD…

She will never be “that” girl. You know the one: that girl on campus, confident in her own skin. Always saying the right things. Putting herself out there. Knows how to talk to a guy without stammering.

Nope. Shy but clever, and easily embarrassed, Abby is fine being the wallflower in her circle of outgoing, beautiful friends; she would rather read about a sexy book boyfriend than actually have a live, breathing one.

…BUT CALEB LOCKHART IS WORSE.

Star goaltender for the University’s hockey team, Caleb is quiet and broody, preferring the solitude of his orderly, regimented life. He doesn’t like, or need people—and plans to keep it that way. One more year left of hockey and he’ll be long gone.

AWKWARD NEVER LOOKED SO GOOD.

Both their lives change the day that Abigail falls for Caleb. Well, falls directly on top of him, to be accurate. Because sometimes we don’t settle into love.

We fall there.

Review:

As you can see above, this series so far has been a little hit or miss for me. A Kiss Like This was giant hit for me. I absolutely ADORED this book. Sara Ney’s writing feels more timeless and current in this book. I can really see how her writing evolved to what it is today. I loved it.

A Kiss Like This was awkwardly sweet and romantic. Caleb and Abigail were just too dang cute for words. Neither of them knew what the heck they were doing when it came to a relationship and it was romance gold. I can’t even…I just want to keep going on and on about how freaking adorable and amazing this book was. A Kiss Like This was such a great, classic NA romance. I absolutely loved it!

Review: Fearless by B.B. Reid

Fearless
Series: Broken Love, #5
Author: B.B. Reid
Publication Date: April 5, 2016
Publisher: B.B. Reid
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance, Fiction

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Take one last ride with Keiran and Lake and the rest of the Broken Love gang in this fifth and final installment as they face stronger enemies and bigger obstacles while fighting to hold tight to the tattered existence of their love.

When faced with broken love…

Have you ever had the feeling you were a stranger?
Out of reach, I watched and mourned me.
Nothing moved. Breathed. Nothing lived.
I was in an alternate universe.
No longer an innocent.
I had blood on my hands, and I wasn’t even sorry for it.
I was only afraid for Keiran.
Of his reaction when the shock wore off.
It would be an explosion.
Of hurt, anger, and mistrust.
He’d know I lied.
And to him…
The betrayal born of my good intentions is worse than the act of murder.

…will you succumb to fear…

She was supposed to be my light.
The one who saved me from the monster.
But when I looked in her eyes that day, I didn’t see her.
I only saw my father’s killer.

Her love saved me from the monster.
Mine turned her into one.

…or will you be fearless?


I’ve had a love-hate relationship with every book in this series. The mystery / suspense plot that has continued throughout each book has been exceptional. The addictive quality of the writing has been as well. What has bothered me is the abusive relationships and the way they have been depicted. I have a real problem with anyone finding the male characters and / or the way they treat the women their lives worthy of swooning. Everyone in these books needs therapy. That’s made all of the books hard for me to review and rate. I have given them all three stars because that’s how I averaged what I loved with what I hated. You’ll notice this book gets three and a half stars. Here’s why.

I was very impressed with how the plot ended up wrapping up. B.B. Reid crafted a truly exceptional mystery that kept me hanging on. Things finally came full circle and all of the revelations were perfect.

Despite the fact that I don’t truly believe that Lake and Keiran should be together due to the nature of their past relationship, I appreciated the growth they showed individually and together. It did give me hope that maybe they could have a healthy relationship. There were a couple of tender moments that made me question my feelings about Keiran. I have to admit to swooning because they were so perfect for a romance novel. That disturbs me a little, to be honest.

I know this review doesn’t really tell you much, but I don’t want to give anything away. Fearless did a great job of wrapping all of the storylines up. I’m happy to be done with this series because it’s been hard on my heart and conscience. Although, I’m glad B.B. Reid has a book outside this series planned for the supporting characters Jesse, Diana, and Quinton. I’m really curious to see what’s next for those three. Hopefully it’s something a little happier.

Review: Breaking Love by B.B. Reid

Breaking Love
Series: Broken Love, #4
Author: B.B. Reid
Publication Date: November 24, 2015
Publisher: B.B. Reid
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance, Fiction

Rating: ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

She’s the girl who got away, but now she’s back…

Four years was all it took.

I told myself I didn’t need friends. I didn’t need family. I sure as fuck didn’t need him.

And you know what?

I was right.

He had been inside of me, coursing through my veins.

So I cut and bled Dash Chambers until I was free.

But the day I returned to Six Forks and was thrown at his feet, I realized I would never forget how it felt to have every inch of him inside me.

…and he’s waiting.

Angel thought if she ran far enough, she’d be free.

What’s mine will always be mine.

This time I do things my way.

* * *

DISCLAIMER: While Breaking Love isn’t dark, the first of the series contains sensitive themes many people aren’t able to swallow. 


Okay. First, I have to comment on that disclaimer above. I disagree with it. Breaking Love IS dark. The themes may not be quite as sensitive as the first three books in the series, but they are still sensitive. The relationship(s) depicted in this book is not healthy.

That being said, the writing and plot other than the relationship is very addictive. It’s what has kept me reading. The mystery / suspense plot continues through each book and is built on. It got even more twisted and interesting in Breaking Love. I loved all of the revelations and how they effected the entire cast of the series.

Back to the relationship aspect of this book… Dash might not be the monster Keiran or Keenan were in the previous books, but he wasn’t a saint. He was manipulative in more ways than one. His relationship with Willow was sweeter than any of the others. Despite a few of his actions, I actually liked Dash a lot. His intentions were a lot purer than his friends’.

I hate to say it, but I am not a fan of Willow after reading this book. I didn’t like how she treated her friendships with Sheldon and Lake. Her whole reason for being absent was just ugh. When Willow did return to town, she made one bad decision after the next. She hid things she didn’t need to hide. I don’t know why she couldn’t trust the people who obviously had her back, but it made me so irritated.

This may sound weird, but my favorite thing about Breaking Love was the end. I wasn’t expecting it and it was an amazing cliffhanger! I was so happy to have the next book ready to read.

Review: Fear Us by B.B. Reid

Fear Us
Series: Broken Love, #3
Author: B.B. Reid
Publication Date: September 22, 2015
Publisher: B.B. Reid
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance, Fiction

Rating: ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

KEENAN
It’s been four years since I ran away—from home, my brother, and my maybe father. I created a life free of expectations while pretending I wasn’t being hunted by all of the above. I managed to stay under the radar all this time… or so I thought. When big brother shows up and saves my ass, I’m forced to face everything I left behind, including her.

SHELDON
It’s been four years since I became another statistic. I made a lot of mistakes when it came to Keenan Masters. The first was loving him at all. He took something from me the night he left, and when I told him I still loved him, he told me he’d always hate me. After that, I learned how to be okay… until he came back. Gone was the boy who always knew how to make me laugh, and in his place was a cold, arrogant monster.


I’m completely addicted to the Broken Love series, and yet I’m a little disappointed in the direction it has continued to go. The first two books in the series, Fear Me and Fear You, were great with the exception of Lake and Kieran’s abusive relationship. That relationship made me so mad. I wanted to love them together, but I couldn’t. I was really, really hoping that Keenan and Sheldon’s book was going to be different. Was it? No, not really.

Fear Us takes place four years after Fear You left off. It’s important to have read the first two books prior to Fear Us because a big part of the story is woven around situations that take part in the past. Everything leads up to where Keenan and Sheldon are now. I had a feeling I knew where Keenan and Sheldon’s story was headed — I just didn’t know it was going to be so twisted and maddening.

Keenan pretty much turned himself into a version of Kieran. That made me sad for a couple of reasons. One, I liked who Keenan was for the most part prior to anger taking over his life. He was tough like Kieran, but he had a jovial sweetness to him. I missed that Keenan. I didn’t want mean Keenan. Two, I was done reading about a volatile, abusive relationship. I mean, why do all these guys have to be so abusive? Why can’t they be alpha without the intimidation and forcefulness? The things these brothers have done make me sick to my stomach.

I was proud of Sheldon in so many situations in this book. She didn’t back down to Keenan when it came to some of the most important things. I do wish she wouldn’t have given into Keenan in other ways, but I guess it does show the reader how love can make people stay/put up with situations they shouldn’t.

What surprised me the most in this book was Ken. It wasn’t Ken’s character so much as how Kieran’s relationship with Ken was depicted. I was surprised by how much I liked that part of the story. It made Kieran seem like less of a monster to me. I could almost — not really — forget his past.

My favorite thing about Fear Us was the same thing as the first two books. I loved the mystery/suspense plot that continued. It kept me wondering how everything was going to play out for this group of friends.

So…Plot good. Abusive relationships bad. I know that’s how the whole series is going to be. I should get over the abusive part, but I can’t. I won’t. It’s just too wrong…but I need to know how everything is going to shake out in the end, so I will keep reading.

Review: Fear You by B.B. Reid

Fear You
Series: Broken Love, #2
Author: B.B. Reid
Publication Date: March 11, 2015
Publisher: B.B. Reid
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance, Fiction

Rating: ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

What happens when she’s had enough?

Lake Monroe has given in to her childhood tormentor too many times. She knows it, he knows it, and even their enemies know it. When he returned after being found guilty of a crime he didn’t commit—a crime he thought she set him up for, he returned darker than ever, demanding her body and her submission. To survive him, she knew she had to give in to fear once more or suffer the deadly consequences…

But Lake experienced what it was like to submit to the dark and demanding boy who invaded her dreams. Now she’ll experience what it’s like to fight him.

What happens when he wants more?

Keiran Masters has a past that is both shocking and dark. Once enslaved, he now has demons he can’t escape—demons that have followed him for ten years, demons he blames his beautiful obsession for. He promised to make her pay. He promised to make her break…

But after Keiran had conquered her body and tasted her submission, he found a new addiction instead—one he has no intention of giving up.

As secrets unfold,
Identities are revealed,
Danger closes in,
And they both discover what it really means to fear…


Fear You is the second book in the Broken Love series. It begins where the first book, Fear Me, left off. Without reading book one, you won’t understand the plot or the relationship dynamics. Just a warning: This book contains sensitive themes that will be disturbing to some readers. You can check out my review for Fear Me here, if you’re curious.

Like I said above, Fear You continues Lake and Keiran’s story. They’re not on good terms–not that they ever truly were on good terms. Lake has to deal with the fall out for what she’s done to Keiran. He’s back to torment her, but this time she feels she has the power to stand up to him. It is hard because Keiran is relentless. He’s not willing to give Lake up. She’s his obsession.There’s also the matter of Keiran’s past haunting both Lake and Keiran. His demons have shown up, and it puts both of them in danger.

Fear You was a little easier for me to stomach than Fear Me. The abusive relationship between Lake and Keiran was still there, but I got some answers I needed. I now understand why Keiran is the monster he is. I still hate it, but I understand it. Lake stood up for herself as much as she was able to without completely giving in to Kerian, so I appreciated that. There were actually a few loving moments in Fear You that bordered on sweet. I still believe they both need years of counseling and that this book needs a warning about abusive relationships and where to get help if you’re in one. Basically, Keiran and Lake’s messed up relationship was pretty close to what it was in Fear You. It was horrible and no one should live that way.

What was outstanding about Fear You was the writing itself. It was utterly addictive. The story that was wrapped around Keiran and Lake’s twisted love affair was so good. It was suspenseful and kept me wondering how it would all play out. It is the only reason I kept reading this series other than to hope I would get to see Lake and Keiran get some therapy. I couldn’t believe some of the twists B.B. Reid came up with. I loved how the plot wrapped up — with the exception of Sheldon and Keenan’s arc. They moved into dangerous territory. Fear Us, the next book in this series, is theirs and I’m worried it’s going to be another Fear Me / Fear You situation. I don’t know that I can handle another abusive relationship like Lake and Keiran’s. I guess I’ll find out since I’ve already started reading the third book.

Review: Fear Me by B.B. Reid

Fear Me
Series: Broken Love, #1
Author: B.B. Reid
Publication Date: January 26, 2015
Publisher: Bebe’s Reads LLC
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance, Fiction

Rating: ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

I don’t believe in fairy tales and Prince Charming.

I believe in fear.

He taught me how to be afraid.

We first met on a playground on a wonderful summer day. It was the first time he hurt me and it wouldn’t be the last. For ten years, he’s been my tormentor and I’ve been his forbidden. But then he went away, and yet I was still afraid.

Now he’s back and wants more than just my tears. You see…he thinks I sent him away so now he wants revenge…and he knows just how to get it.

Warning: Fear Me contains sensitive themes.


Before I get into the nitty-gritty of my review, I feel the need to preface it with a few statements. B.B. Reid is a talented writer. She infuses her writing with passion and emotion, making her books highly addictive. I read Fear Me in one evening because I couldn’t put it down. It had some amazing twists and unforgettable characters. I feel the need to tell you these things because my review isn’t going to sound super positive. If you read the blurb above, you will notice the warning that this book contains sensitive themes. It truly does, and some of my negative thoughts revolve around those. I’ll get to that in a minute.

Fear Me is a book I downloaded for free. I had never read a B.B. Reid book before, and I wanted to give her books a try. Prior to actually starting Fear Me, I read reviews from some sources I trust. They were all super positive four and five-star reviews. One was by an author talking about how this book could disturb some but to remember it is fantasy. It’s not a real life situation. That made me even more curious, so I decided to give Fear Me a shot.

Fear Me is told from Lake Monroe’s first person point of view. From the beginning, Lake is filled with fear. Her childhood tormentor is returning to town for their senior year of high school. All Lake can do if try to fly under the radar and hide from Keiran Masters. Too bad Keiran isn’t going to let her do that. He has a plan to extract revenge against Lake, and she is going to be his unwilling participant. As Keiran sets his plan in motion to torment her, the fear Lake has of him forces her to abide by Keiran’s rules. She’s forced to give him everything he wants.

**Possible SPOILERS AHEAD (for sensitive themes not the plot)**

This book was royally messed up. It’s probably one of the most messed up books I’ve read. The things that happen in this book are so very wrong. Keiran uses Lake’s fear and her attraction to him to his advantage. He forces her to do things that should put him behind bars. He sexually assaults her constantly throughout this book and basically holds her captive. I hated the way his actions were romanticized. Stolkholm Syndrome is the only way to describe Lake’s feelings toward Keiran. Their entire “relationship” was sick, and I honestly don’t get how readers can can “ooh and aah” over their relationship or swoon over Keiran’s character. Under all his anger and aggression he might have loved Lake, but his actions were not loving and they were downright illegal. Keiran was controlling, manipulative, and savage.

The reason why I’m putting spoilers in my review for Fear Me is that I am uncomfortable that younger new adult readers may pick it up due to the new adult tag. I’m scared they’re going to romanticize Keiran and the things he does. No one should be in a relationship like this book portrays. Fear Me needed more than a warning that it contains sensitive content. It needed a statement saying that if you’re in a relationship anything like the one portrayed in this book, you should contact a help line with the phone number included.

Keiran’s not the only monster in this book. His friends aren’t much better. His cousin Keenan is a cheater whose girlfriend, Sheldon, looks past his indiscretions. He has no problem aiding Keiran in his torture of Lake. Dash is Keiran’s best friend who is also willing to help in any way. Then, there’s Quinton who helps keep an eye on Lake. They’re like the male equivalent of high school mean girls but only worse.

High school. That’s another thing that blows my mind about this book. It’s set in freaking high school. None of these guys act or are described as looking like high schoolers. They’re bigger and badder than that. They have power over people like I can’t even fathom. The things they get away with…it’s unbelievable. Maybe that’s what makes them so interesting?

One thing I feel like I need to comment on was that this was another one of those books where the characters are still in high school but the parents and guardians are rarely seen or heard from. They leave for extended periods of time and leave their kids home alone to attend school, etc. It makes all the things the characters do easier. They don’t really have to hide what’s going on from authority figures. I kept wondering who leaves their kids home all the time like this? My parents didn’t. My friends’ parents didn’t. I won’t leave my kid like that. Maybe some do. It just seemed way too convenient for the plot. I wish they had been around so it would have been harder for the kids to get away with stuff.

**END SPOILERS**

Now, I know what you’re wondering. If it was so horrible, how can I even give it 3 stars? Like I said earlier, B.B. Reid is a talented writer. I may have hated everything that was involved in the relationship Kieran and Lake had, but I was mesmerized by the story woven around it. It was a suspenseful mystery. There were so many secrets to uncover. There were so many fascinating revelations. Lake had amazing friendships with Willow and Sheldon. If Kieran hadn’t been such a monster, I probably would have loved this book. Despite my uncomfortable feelings regarding the sensitive subject matter, I have to read the next book. I need to know Lake that is going to be okay. I’m hoping Kieran gets the help he seriously needs. I guess I need some closure.

Review: Block Shot by Kennedy Ryan

BlockShotBTBanner
Block Shot
Series: A HOOPS Novel, #2
Author: Kennedy Ryan
Publication Date: September 10, 2018
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Fiction, Sports
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

JARED

If I had a dollar for every time Banner Morales made my heart skip a beat…
The heart everyone assumes is frozen over.
Her anger is…arousing.
Every glare from those fire-spitting eyes, every time she grits her teeth, gets me…well, you know.
If I had a dollar for every time she’s put me in my place, I’d be an even richer man.
I’m a successful sports agent because I assume “no” means you’ll think about it.
I’m sure what you meant to say is “Coming right up.”
They say even rich men don’t always get what they want, but those men don’t know how to play the game. The trick is to keep them guessing.
Take Banner. She assumes she’s winning, but this game?
She doesn’t even know how to play.

BANNER

If I had a dollar for every time Jared Foster broke my heart, I’d have exactly one dollar.
One night. One epic fail. One dollar…and I’m out.
I’ve moved on.
I’ve found success in a field ruled by men.
Anything they can do, I have done better.
They can keep the field while I call the shots, blocking them when I have to.
And Jared has the nerve to think he gets a second chance?
Boy, please. Go sit down. Have several seats.
I’ll just be over here ignoring the man carved from my fantasies with a lust-tipped chisel.
Oh, I didn’t say the struggle wasn’t real.
But I’ve got that one dollar, and Jared won’t have me.


If you have never read a book by Kennedy Ryan, you are truly missing out. She is a phenomenal writer. The books she writes are the total package. Her stories are romances with powerful messages. There’s a social awareness to them that make them stand out. Her words and the stories they create are beautiful and impactful. I’m always a little nervous heading into one of her books because I know it’s going to make me feel all the things. I was especially nervous (and excited) to start Block Shot after the emotional rollercoaster I experienced in Long Shot, the first HOOPS novel.

From the minute I started Block Shot, I was hooked on Banner and Jared’s story. I loved how it started with their past. So much of their present was tied to their past. It influenced the way they dealt with each other, especially on Banner’s side. It made me excited to find out how they would end up together.

For me, the thing (or person) that made Block Shot amazing was Banner. She is one of those characters that I can see bits and pieces of myself in. Banner walked a fine line between being self-confident and filled with doubt. She knew she slayed at parts of her life, and she knew what her downfalls were. I liked that because I think no matter how confident a woman portrays herself, there’s always some insecurities hiding in the background. I loved how Banner took ownership of those negatives and put forth the effort to make them positives. It was inspiring to say the least.

My feelings for Jared are a little mixed. I had moments I loved him and moments I didn’t. I, personally, wouldn’t call him a swoon worthy main character. Jared was a highly flawed, like many of us are. He wasn’t a good guy, but he never claimed to be. I respected that, but I also didn’t like how he let that fact enable his decisions. Jared wasn’t all bad, though. He didn’t take the easy way out on anything. Jared worked hard for what he accomplished. The best thing about Jared was how he saw Banner.

Despite not falling completely in love with Jared’s character, I did love his relationship with Banner. They were a great match. Their story surprised me, though. I didn’t expect the nature of the obstacles that stood in their path. I should have known there wouldn’t be an easy fix for them (This is a Kennedy Ryan novel, after all.), but I guessed I hoped there would be. Their initial problem was a simple misunderstanding. I should have known that wouldn’t be the only thing they would face. There had to be some major hurdles and heartbreak. In the end, all of the good, the bad, and the ugly made for a touching love story.

There was only one thing that kept Block Shot from being a five-star read for me. A boundary was crossed that Banner tried to set with Jared. It was a boundary I believe in. I was disappointed that Jared had no problem using any excuse to cross that boundary. It made a big impression on how I felt about him and this book. His actions actually made me put the book down and walk away for a while because I was uncomfortable and afraid of what was to come. Everything that stemmed from his actions wasn’t all his fault. Banner played a part as well, which honestly shocked me, so I have some negative feelings about her as well. I guess when it comes down to it, I think the book would have still been as impactful without this part. I can understand in the end why Kennedy Ryan made the choices she did, but it isn’t something I love to read about.

Overall, Block Shot was a really great read. I loved the connection between Jared and Banner. I adored Banner and identified with her in so many ways. I know other women will, too. Honestly, that’s the most important part of this story.

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About Kennedy:

A Top 30 Amazon Bestseller, Kennedy Ryan writes about women from all walks of life, empowering them and placing them firmly at the center of each story and in charge of their own destinies. Her heroes respect, cherish and lose their minds for the women who capture their hearts.

She is a wife to her lifetime lover and mother to an extraordinary son. She has always leveraged her journalism background to write for charity and non-profit organizations, but enjoys writing to raise Autism awareness most. A contributor for Modern Mom Magazine and Frolic, Kennedy’s writings have appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul, USA Today and many others. The founder and executive director of a foundation serving Atlanta Autism families, she has appeared on Headline News, Montel Williams, NPR and other media outlets as an advocate for families living with autism.

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Review: Dirty Headlines by L.J. Shen

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Dirty Headlines
Author: L.J. Shen
Publication Date: September 7, 2018
Publisher: L.J. Shen
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Fiction
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Célian Laurent.
Manhattan royalty.
Notorious playboy.
Heir to a media empire.
…And my new boss.

I could have impressed him, if not for last month’s unforgettable one-night stand.
I left it with more than orgasms and a pleasant memory–namely, his wallet.
Now he’s staring me down like I’m the dirt under his Italian loafers, and I’m supposed to take it.
But the thing about being Judith “Jude” Humphry is I have nothing to lose.
Brooklyn girl.
Infamously quirky.
Heir to a stack of medical bills and a tattered couch.
When he looks at me from across the room, I see the glint in his eyes, and that makes us rivals.
He knows it.
So do I.
Every day in the newsroom is a battle.
Every night in his bed, war.
But it’s my heart at stake, and I fear I’ll be raising the white flag.


You know how in real life there’s those foul-mouthed egotistical jerks you meet and you think someday this douchebag is going to meet the chick that puts him in his place? That is who Célian Laurent is. He’s ruthless, dirty, sexy, and a complete jerk. Célian’s the type of guy who intimidates people with one look. As a reader, you know he’s never going to be the nice or good guy. You love to hate him. He’s always going to be the jerk, but you also know that finding the right chick is going to soften him a bit. That makes him lovable for some reason. I found myself loving his character when I felt like I should have hated him.

Jude Humphry is one of my new favorite characters. She was the light to Célian’s dark. Jude is a woman who had nothing to lose. Literally nothing. Winding up working for the man whose wallet she stole after a one night stand would make lesser women cower. For Jude, it’s a challenge. She’s not about to let the pompous jerk interfere with the new job she so desperately needs. Jude doesn’t back down. She’s got the backbone to put Célian in his place. She gives back exactly what she’s dealt while making friends and doing a kick ass job.

Dirty Headlines was a very entertaining romance. Célian and Jude have an explosive relationship from the very beginning. Neither wants to feel what they do for the other. They fight, bicker, and banter. Their chemistry keeps them from walking away. Nothing seems easy between the two of them, and yet it kind of is. I loved the way their relationship evolved from a one night stand to more. The way they began to open up to each other was very sweet. Their connection grew from just sex to a deeper, more intimate connection. I especially loved how Célian’s feelings for Jude improved his life, but didn’t completely change him.

I also need to mention the newsroom. It was fun to see Célian and Jude in a competitive work environment. I loved everything that happened there! So much of the romance and non-romance parts of the story were wrapped up in what went down in the newsroom. It also gave Jude some cool coworker friends who I wouldn’t have minded seeing more of.

Dirty Headlines is exactly the type of book I’ve come to expect from L.J. Shen. If you loved her Sinners of Saint books and characters, then you will love this book.


Dirty Headlines, an all-new sexy, enemies-to-lovers romance from bestselling author L.J. Shen is available NOW!

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About LJ Shen:

L.J. Shen is an International #1 best-selling author of Contemporary Romance and New Adult novels. She lives in Northern California with her husband, young son and chubby cat.

Before she’d settled down, L.J. (who thinks referring to herself in the third person is really silly, by the way) traveled the world, and collected friends from all across the globe. Friends who’d be happy to report that she is a rubbish companion, always forgets people’s’ birthdays and never sends Christmas cards.

She enjoys the simple things in life, like spending time with her family and friends, reading, HBO, Netflix and internet-stalking Stephen James. She reads between three to five books a week and firmly believes Crocs shoes and mullets should be outlawed.

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Review: Hard Sell by Lauren Layne

Hard Sell
Series: 21 Wall Street, #2
Author: Lauren Layne
Publication Date: September 4, 2018
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Fiction
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

He’s a Wall Street wolf. She’s been hired to tame him. From New York Times bestselling author Lauren Layne comes a wildly sexy novel of business and pleasure.

Twenty-eight and filthy rich, Matt Cannon is the youngest broker on Wall Street. He may be a “boy wonder,” but he’s every inch a man. Ask any woman—any night. But when Matt’s latest fling makes scandalous headlines, his clients get anxious, and his bosses at Wolfe Investments level an ultimatum: keep his assets zipped, get a “real” girlfriend, and clean up his act. Only one woman can help Matt with something this hard.

For PR genius Sabrina Cross, the best fixer in Manhattan, playing Matt’s steady is going to be a challenge, even if it’s just for show. They already have an explosive history, she can’t stand the cocky party boy, and worse—she can’t stop thinking about him. So who’ll dare to break her “no touching” rule first? Because when that happens, Matt and Sabrina’s game of let’s pretend will get so hot it could set both their reputations on fire.


Any time Lauren Layne releases a new book, I always have to read it. She’s never let me down. Her writing is always fun, witty, and engrossing. Once I start one of her books, I don’t want to put it down. That’s how I felt about the second book in the 21 Wall Street series, Hard Sell.

Hard Sell was a frenemies to lovers / fake relationship romance. Matt and Sabrina have a sordid past. They share a best friend and some nights they don’t want to admit to. Matt and Sabrina’s lives are tied together, and become even more so, when Matt needs Sabrina’s help to save his image. Sabrina agrees to be Matt’s fake girlfriend as long as they keep things strictly platonic. Matt agrees, but that’s easier said than done for both of them.

I simply adored Hard Sell. It had some of the wittiest dialog I’ve read in a while. Matt and Sabrina really knew how to banter with each other. I loved the love-hate thing they had going on. I loved it even more when their relationship took a turn toward romance.

Matt and Sabrina were such great characters.They had more in common than they thought. Both were strong, stubborn characters. They were influenced by their upbringings and parents in different ways that led to similar results. I loved the resistance they both had to being in a relationship and marriage, and how their fake relationship with each other changed that.

It was hard for me to find any faults with Hard Sell. I only found myself wanting more. I really would have liked to have learned more about how Sabrina got to where she was in her job. That was probably the only piece missing for me. Well, I wouldn’t have minded a longer ending. That’s just because I didn’t want the story to end, though. I’m very thankful Kennedy and Kate still have a book coming in this series. At least I have another Lauren Layne contemporary romance to wait for!

Review: Hold You Close by Melanie Harlow & Corinne Michaels

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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.

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