ARC Review: Steal Me by Lauren Layne

25058352Steal Me (New York’s Finest #2) by Lauren Layne

Publication Date: November 24, 2015

Publisher: Forever

Synopsis:

Captain Anthony Moretti has chosen his path in life. He wants to be the police commissioner one day. Anth knows that becoming commissioner means giving up some of his other dreams: a wife and kids. He’s fine with that until Maggie Walker shows up in his family’s favorite diner.

Maggie didn’t always dream of being a waitress in a diner, but it pays the bills while she writes her first novel. Another added benefit to waitressing at the diner is getting to spend Sundays with the Moretti family — specifically Anthony Moretti. Too bad he hates her.

When Maggie unexpectedly becomes an informant in the toughest case of Anth’s career, he can’t help but throw professionalism out the door.


My rating: 4 out of 5 stars


Steal Me was a light and fun contemporary romance. The chemistry between the characters was great and I liked each character’s backstory. Their separate histories added a lot to the story — especially Maggie’s. I also enjoyed the hunt for the criminal, which turned out to be her ex-husband. (Don’t worry, that’s not a spoiler. It’s in the book blurb.)

It was fun to meet another Moretti cop. Anthony was a little uptight, but it was easy to understand why with his previous relationship history. The frustration he felt when making choices was interesting and understandable.

My favorite thing about Steal Me was Maggie, though. I thought her attraction to the grumpy Captain was cute. I loved the way she reacted to everything he did. I also liked her family history and the way she ended up dealing with them.

Steal Me is the second book in the New York’s Finest series. It can be read as a standalone novel or after reading Frisk Me. You can find my review for Frisk Me by clicking here.

**I received an electronic copy of Steal Me from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Other books in this series:

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Soundtrack Saturday: The Air He Breathes

Welcome to my second Soundtrack Saturday! I had so much fun coming up with a mini playlist last week that I thought I would do it again. This week, I’m going to spotlight the book The Air He Breathes by Brittainy C. Cherry. You can find my review here.


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Soundtrack Saturday is a weekly meme hosted by Erin @ The Hardcover Lover. It’s a way to relate songs to books.

Here are the guidelines:

  • You can use The Hardcover Lover’s image or make one of your own
  • Please link The Hardcover Lover somewhere in your post
  • Create a soundtrack or mini-soundtrack for your chosen book
  • Add your name to the link-up tool so others can find and read your post
  • Leave a comment on The Hardcover Lover’s blog post

A song that you think goes well with the beginning of your chosen book:

I’ll Be Missing You by Puff Daddy (I refuse to use P. Diddy, Diddy or whatever. He was Puffy back then!) would be a good choice for this one.

A song you think fits a character in your chosen book:

Every Breath You Take by The Police was the first song that came to mind when I thought of Tanner. I know, the first song I chose is a remake of this one. They’re the same but different and it works.

A song that represents a relationship in your chosen book:

I don’t think I could have found a more perfect song for Tristan and Elizabeth’s relationship than A Great Big World’s Hold Each Other.

A song that fits the ending of the book:

Savage Garden’s I Knew I Loved You is a song that I think fits kind of the whole vibe of the book, especially the ending.


And that’s a wrap. Happy Halloween!

Review: A Winter Wedding by Brenda Novak

A Winter Wedding (Whiskey Creek #9) by Brenda Novak

Publication Date: October 27, 2015

Publisher: Mira

Synopsis:

Kyle Houseman has given up on love. He’s already married and divorced the wrong woman once. He also knows he’ll never find anyone that compares to his ex-girlfriend, Olivia. Kyle knows it’s his fault they didn’t end up together, but the fact that she married his step-brother is still raw. It makes family dinner tons of fun.

Country music sensation Lourdes Bennett came to Whiskey Creek to escape the spotlight and work on her new album. She was supposed to be spending the Christmas holiday squirreled away in Whiskey Creek with her fiance Derrick. Instead, she’s here alone dealing with the possibility that Derrick might not be as loyal to her as she thought.

When Lourdes can’t get her rental’s furnace to work, she calls her landlord, Kyle. As Lourdes and Kyle begin to get to know each other and become friends, they both notice a spark. But will Lourdes be willing to give up Nashville for a quieter kind of life in Whiskey Creek?


My rating: 5 out of 5 stars


Whiskey Creek is one of my favorite contemporary romance series. I love the group of friends Brenda Novak has created the series around. I’m always curious to find out which friend is the next to fall in love and who it will be with.

I was excited when I learned we were finally getting Kyle’s story in A Winter Wedding. I’ve been waiting to see inside his head ever since I read Olivia and Brandon’s story in When We Touch. Since Kyle’s been (not so secretly) in love with Olivia the entire series, I wondered what kind of woman would be able to capture his attention.

Brenda Novak couldn’t have created a better character than Lourdes to win Kyle’s heart. She was strong and independent — everything Kyle needed in a woman after dealing with his ex Noelle. I loved the connection they had and how protective of Lourdes Kyle was.

Since I mentioned Noelle, I have to say I absolutely loved her part in this story. It was fun to get a glimpse into her head and see what she’s been thinking the entire time she’s been pining after the ex-husband who is in love with her sister.

Kyle’s story was everything I was hoping it would be. A Winter Wedding was the perfect Christmas-time contemporary romance  read. It was fun, fast-paced and included all of the Whiskey Creek characters I’ve grown to love. If you love contemporary romance series, I would highly recommend the Whiskey Creek series and A Winter Wedding.

Other books in this series:

        

Soundtrack Saturday: Wicked Restless

I am kind of behind on reading / book reviews this week (or I just had an actual life beside reading maybe), so I thought I’d try something new and different. Today, I’m going to attempt my first Soundtrack Saturday. 

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Soundtrack Saturday is a weekly meme hosted by Erin @ The Hardcover Lover. It’s a way to relate songs to books. This week, I’m going to spotlight the book I just finished and am still working on reviewing, Wicked Restless by Ginger Scott.

Here are the guidelines:

  • You can use The Hardcover Lover’s image or make one of your own
  • Please link The Hardcover Lover somewhere in your post
  • Create a soundtrack or mini-soundtrack for your chosen book
  • Add your name to the link-up tool so others can find and read your post
  • Leave a comment on The Hardcover Lover’s blog post

A song that you think goes well with the beginning of your chosen book:

Wicked Restless is spilt in two parts. The first part takes place in high school and is about first love. I chose Taylor Swift’s Love Story because I think it fits it. Andrew and Emma kind of have a Romeo and Juliet thing going on.

A song you think fits a character in your chosen book:

My choice for Andrew is Break Stuff by Limp Biskit because he’s always on the edge of losing it during the second half of the book.

A song that represents a relationship in your chosen book:

I think Adele’s new song Hello sums up Andrew and Emma’s time apart.

A song that fits the ending of the book:

I had a hard time finding a song I thought fit perfectly, so I’m going with Leann Rimes’ I Need You.


So, that’s it. What do you think of this Saturday meme? If you’ve read the book, what songs would you have chosen?

Firebird

Firebird by Jennifer Loring

Publication Date: October 20, 2015

Publisher:  Limitless Publishing, LLC

Synopsis:

Stephanie Hartwell is a journalist with something to prove. She knows her way into writing higher profile sports stories is to interview hockey superstar Aleksandr Volynsky.

Bad boy Aleksandr Volynsky is known to be a tough interview. He hates the media and has no problem giving reporters a hard time. But Stephanie has an in with Aleksandr. He’s the boy she once thought she’s marry. If anyone can get Aleksandr to open up, it’s Stephanie.

Aleksandr Volynsky does not give interviews, but he’s being forced into this one. He doesn’t know whether to be pleased Stephanie Hartwell will be interviewing him or mad. He’s wanted nothing more than to see her again, but eight years of silence has done nothing but heighten the rage he feels toward her. It doesn’t help that she’s engaged to another man. She was always supposed to be Aleksandr’s.

Even with all Aleksandr’s rage being aimed at Stephanie, she can’t help feel the chemistry between the two of them. She’s trying to keep things professional, but she’s having a harder and harder time fighting her feelings for him. Stephanie’s supposed to be happily engaged and writing the story of her life. Instead, she’s questioning every decision she’s ever made.

After Aleksandr and Stephanie decide to take things to the next level, their worlds come crashing down on them. Do they have what it takes to come out on top of it all — together?


My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars


Okay, so I’m going to get the one negative thing I have to say about Firebird out of the way so that I can sing it’s praises like I really want to do. There is cheating and a lot of womanizing in this book. (If those two things bother you, this book is not for you.) It was disturbing to read about the two main characters having sex with other people — especially when they’re thinking about each other. Ewww. BUT I know this stuff happens in real life, so it won’t make or a break a book for me. Now, on to the fun part!

Besides the cheating part, Firebird was an incredibly good romance. It was fast-paced and action packed. I couldn’t put it down. Something new was always happening and the story was constantly building. I was surprised at the twists and turns that took place. Just when I thought the story might be coming to an end, something else would happen to take the story in a new direction.

I absolutely loved Aleksandr. To be honest, most of the time he was a big fat jerk. But I kind of loved that about him. He didn’t hold back and once I knew why, I appreciated it even more. I don’t want to give too much away, but I felt that his story was an important one. I loved the way his character developed over the entire book.

Stephanie, on the other hand, drove me nuts at times. One minute, she was a smart and tough chick. The next, she made horrible decisions. I liked her, but at times she made it hard to.

Together, Stephanie and Aleksandr were scorching HOT. They couldn’t keep their hands off each other! There was a sweetness between the two of them that I loved — especially from Aleksandr. He was so crude, but he had a secret soft spot when it came to Stephanie. It made me smile a lot.

As for the hockey, I liked that Jennifer Loring included some actual hockey plays and not just the players. It added another great dimension to the story. I don’t know much about hockey, but it seemed realistic enough to me.

I would highly recommend Firebird to adult contemporary romance readers that love sports related romances.

**I received an electronic copy of Firebird in exchange for an honest review.

Outspoken

Outspoken by Lora Richardson

Publication Date: Agust 18, 2015

Publisher: CreateSpace

Synopsis:

One thing Penny has never been in life is outspoken. She’s always gone with the flow and done what everyone wanted her to do. Others’ opinions have always mattered more than her own. But that’s going to change.

Penny’s going to spend her summer before (maybe) going to college at the beach in South Carolina. She’s going to leave her seven siblings and Montana hometown behind. She’s using checking up on her elderly grandfather as her excuse, but in reality Penny wants to break away from the person she was before. For once in her life, she’s going to be the person she wants to be. Penny’s going to be outspoken.

Just as Penny’s starting to gain her independence, she meets Archer. Everyone tells her to avoid him, but Penny feels drawn to him. While Penny’s trying to be her own person, she can’t help but worry about Archer’s opinion. Will her worrying about what Archer thinks be the end to her new life? Will she continue to be outspoken or will she revert to the girl who simply goes with the flow?


My rating: 4 out of 5 stars


Outspoken is a coming of age tale. It’s set in that time in life when a young adult is trying to find themselves and their voice. Penny’s no longer a child, but she’s not sure how to be an adult and stand up for herself yet.

Outspoken is one of those books that is harder for me to review. While I loved the story and writing, I disliked the main character Penny. She rubbed me the wrong way. I know she was trying to be truthful, but her delivery was lacking finesse. Everything that came out of her mouth was so negative. I know she was striving to speak her mind, but if she was a new friend of mine, our friendship wouldn’t last long. She never seemed like she even wanted to hang out with her new friends, Gwen and Marissa. She needed to learn giving in to spend time with her friends didn’t always equate to giving up a piece of herself. But that’s part of what this story was about, so I feel bad complaining! Penny was just trying to find her voice.

Despite my dislike for Penny, I did enjoy the storyline. I liked how she set out on her own to discover herself. What she was going through was very relatable. And Penny did have her redeeming moments. I could see a glimpse of the sweet person she was when she went above and beyond to help the people she met through her job at the grocery store. I also loved the way she wanted to take care of her grandfather, Cal. My favorite Penny was the person she was when she was with Archer. She seemed to find a happy medium when she was with him. She wasn’t quite as negative but she also didn’t lose herself in him. I wanted to read more of this Penny.

What I enjoyed most about Outspoken was the cast of supporting characters. I loved them all! Gwen and Marissa were a ton of fun. Archer was the silent, brooding “bad boy” with a lot of depth. All of Penny’s grocery delivery customers were interesting and added a ton of dimension to the story. Penny’s family seemed really fun, too. I would have liked to read more about them and their relationships with each other. I have a feeling they would have been a hilarious bunch.

So while I didn’t always enjoy Penny, I did always enjoy the story. I thought it was a great YA coming of age story about a girl on the path to adulthood trying to find herself. I think this book would be highly beneficial for young adults going through that time in their lives to read.

**I received an electronic copy of Outspoken from the author in exchange for an honest review.

The Heartbreakers

The Heartbreakers by Ali Novak

Publication Date: August 4, 2015

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Synopsis:

Stella isn’t into mainstream music. She couldn’t care less about a silly boy band called the Heartbreakers. But Stella’s sister Cara loves them. Since Cara’s sick and can’t go to their concert, Stella is determined to get the Heartbreakers’ autographs for her.

On her way to the autograph signing in Chicago, Stella stops at Starbucks for an early morning coffee. The only other person in the coffee shop is a cute guy. Stella is shocked when she shows up at the autograph signing and the cute coffee shop guy is none other than the Heartbreakers’ lead singer.

Stella’s shock doesn’t end there, though. Cute coffee guy / lead singer Oliver gives her his number and asks her to call. Stella can’t believe her is actually interested in her.

As Stella and Oliver start to fall for each other, things become complicated. Cara’s illness becomes worse and Stella feels guilty for not being around more when her sister might be dying. Meanwhile, Oliver and the band are dealing with breakup rumors. Will the pressure of it all ruin the first bit of happiness Stella’s felt in a long time?


My rating: 5 out of 5 stars


A while ago, I read and reviewed My Life with the Walter Boys. I was really impressed with the story. I loved how Ali Novak took a character that had just gone through something heartbreaking and instead of letting her wallow in it, added warmth and humor to help her heal.

When I picked up The Heartbreakers, I was hoping to get the same type of story. I had recently finished a couple of books that, while they were brilliant, left me feeling down. It wasn’t exactly a book hangover, it was just that I needed something that was going to pep me up. Luckily, The Heartbreakers was exactly what I needed. I loved it! It was an upbeat, funny and fast-paced read.

Stella may have been dealing with her sister’s illness, but Cara’s cancer didn’t steal the show. Her positive attitude toward life and her illness helped Stella live her life to the fullest. And that meant following her heart when a certain boy band member pops up.

I have to admit The Heartbreakers were my favorite part of the story. Each one of those guys made me smile. Ali Novak sure knows how to write hilarious teenage boys. I’m so excited that this book has The Heartbreaker Chronicles #1 after it because I would love to read a book about any of these guys!

If you’re looking for a YA to make you smile, you’ve found it!

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ARC Review: The Fifteenth Minute by @SarinaBowen

The Fifteenth MinuteThe Fifteenth Minute (The Ivy Years #5) by Sarina Bowen

Publication Date: October 13, 2015

Author’s Summary:

Just because she’s famous doesn’t mean she’s happy.

Freshman Lianne Challice is known to millions of fans as Princess Vindi. But sometimes a silver screen sorceress just wants to hang up her wand, tell her manager to shove it, and become a normal college student. Too bad that’s harder than it looks.

She’s never lived a normal life. She hasn’t been to school since kindergarten. And getting close to anyone is just too risky — the last boy she kissed sold the story to a British tabloid.

But she can’t resist trying to get close to Daniel “DJ” Trevi, the hot, broody guy who spins tunes for hockey games in the arena. Something’s haunting his dark eyes, and she needs to know more.

DJ’s genius is for expressing the mood of the crowd with a ten second song snippet. With just a click and a fade, he can spread hope, pathos or elation among six thousand screaming fans.

Too bad his college career is about to experience the same quick fade-out as one of his songs. He can’t get close to Lianne, and he can’t tell her why. And the fact that she seems to like him at all? Incredible.

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My rating: 5 out of 5 stars


When you see the cover or read the summary of The Fifteenth Minute, you might think you’re getting just another typical New Adult romance filled with angst. You would be totally wrong.

That’s one of the things I love about Sarina Bowen’s The Ivy Years series. Each book is a New Adult romance but you also get a special story dealing with an issue that is relevant to today’s college age adults. It’s those stories that set books like The Fifteenth Minute apart from other NA reads.

In The Fifteenth Minute, Lianne is dealing with the pressures of growing up in Hollywood. She wants to make the transition from child to adult actress without giving up too much of herself. Lianne also wants to be a typical college student, which is near impossible when everyone knows who she is.While this isn’t something most people are going to relate with, it’s easy to relate with the part of Lianne that wants someone to be interested in her for her, not who she’s supposed to be or looks like. I think we all want to be loved for who we are on the inside.

What really stood out about The Fifteenth Minute, though; was DJ’s story. I don’t want to give anything away, so I’m just going to say I think it’s very relevant to college culture today. I also liked the message it sent about believing in yourself, fighting for what’s right and the truth.

As for the romance aspect of the story — Dang, it was cute! I couldn’t help but sigh dreamily every time DJ called Lianne “smalls.” It was so adorable! I also loved the way he wanted to protect her.

I absolutely loved The Fifteenth Minute. If you’re looking for a sweet college romance filled with real life issues, this one is for you.

**I received an electronic copy of The Fifteenth Minute from the author in exchange for an honest review. For more about the book, check out an excerpt below and links to pre-order/purchase The Fifteenth Minute.

Excerpt from The Fifteenth Minute:

Lianne Challice is chatting me up.

As I fetch the pizza I ordered from the window, I try to decide whether or not I’m going insane. Maybe all the stress in my life has finally cracked me.

But no. When I deposit the pie on a table, her big eyes cut from the jukebox over to me, before darting away again. She is so freaking cute and so feminine that it’s making me crazy. Her mouth is like a little red candy that I’m dying to taste. And who has teeth that straight? She intimidates the fuck out of me, to be honest.

I make another trip to the pizza counter for paper plates and napkins. Usually we just grab slices off the tray like animals. But tonight I’m trying to be classy. The idea makes me snicker to myself. As if. Impressing Lianne Challice isn’t something I’m capable of. But I’m having fun trying. And there hasn’t been a whole lot of fun in this year for me. So that’s something.

Years from now I’ll look back on this night and laugh. Guys, did I ever tell you about the time I chatted up a movie star? I mean, my father is still telling people about the time he sat one table over from Tina Fey at Nobu.

Lianne sneaks another glance in my direction and I beckon to her. “Have a slice?” If she wants one, now is the time. In a minute my brother and his teammates will fall on the pizza like seagulls.

“Thank you. I guess I should. I didn’t make it to the dining hall tonight.”

“Your enthusiasm for Capri’s pizza overwhelms me,” I tease. “Aren’t you a fan?”

She slides a slice onto a paper plate, considering the question. “Pizza is like a nineties hit. Pretty good, especially if that’s all there is and you’re hungry.”

My own slice stops halfway to my mouth and I laugh. “Seriously?”

“What?”

“I don’t know if we can be friends,” I say before taking a bite.

“Because I don’t love pizza?

I shake my head. “Who doesn’t love pizza? It’s, like, a basic human desire.” I cram a bite into my mouth to prove my point. Smooth, right?

She bites her bottom lip, and I realize I’d rather have that for dinner. “It’s okay. But it’s mostly just something you eat when you’re in a hurry or need to feed a crowd on the cheap.”

“Ah, I see,” I say when I can speak again. “The problem is that you haven’t had any great pizza. You’re a freshman, right? You don’t know all the glory that is Harkness pizza. Have you been to Gino’s Apizza?”

Lianne shakes her head. “I don’t think so.”

“She doesn’t think so,” I scoff. “Baby, if you’d had great pizza, you’d remember.” And now I sound like a real perv, but Lianne Challice is smiling at me, watching me with her big doe eyes, and I feel it like a drug. “They make everything from scratch. Even the sausage. We’ll go together, so I can prove my point.”

Annnd I think I just asked a movie star out on a date. Here comes the crash and burn.

First her eyes widen just a smidge. Then two pink spots appear on her face, one on either cheekbone. “Well, it would be a shame to live in this town and never know its true pizza greatness.”

I replay that sentence in my head and realize that she didn’t turn me down. “True,” I agree. “Do you think Thursday would be a night to experience pizza Nirvana?” I’m overselling the hell out of Gino’s now, but it’s working for me.

She gives me a serious frown, and I’m hoping she’s not busy on Thursday. Because I have back-to-back hockey games to DJ on Friday andSaturday. “Thursday it is. I shall prepare to be amazed.”

​You can pre-order The Fifteenth Hour NOW! !:

Amazon – iTunes – Barnes & Noble – Kobo

Other books in this series:

  

  

Infinity + One

Infinity + One by Amy Harmon

Publication Date: June 8, 2014

Publisher: Amy Harmon

Synopsis:

Bonnie Rae Shelby is done. She’s done being a country superstar. She’s done doing what’s she’s told. But mostly, Bonnie is done with living. Bonnie Rae’s made her choice, chosen her actions, but a chance meeting will change the course of her life forever.

Finn Clyde may not have much to live for, but he wants the chance to live. He knows helping Bonnie Rae will ruin his chance of a normal life. He knows he should walk away. He just can’t do it.

Together, Bonnie Rae and Finn embark on the journey of a lifetime. The journey will change their lives forever.


My rating: 5 out of 5 stars


The first thing I have to say (to myself) is why haven’t I read any of Amy Harmon’s books before? Friends had told me how amazing they were. I just hadn’t picked one up. That was a giant mistake.

Infinity + One was a very cleverly written book. I don’t want to say too much about the plot because there are so many neat little surprises in store for the reader. I will say the story was very entertaining, heartbreaking, funny and hopeful. I absolutely loved the complex characters Ms. Harmon created in Bonnie Rae and Finn.

I would highly recommend Infinity + One to anyone who loves an amazing NA contemporary read. It is going on my list of favorite books to recommend. (Sorry, I’m sure there are going to be a lot of Amy Harmon reviews from me in the near future.) I’m not sure if it’s still on sale, but I was lucky to get it for $.99 on an Amazon deal.