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: Boyfriend Bargain (Ilsa Madden-Mills)

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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.

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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?)

Series Review: Broken Hill High (Sheridan Anne)

Lately, I’ve been searching for series that have a similar feel to Tijan’s Fallen Crest High. I miss the emotion and drama of that series. One of the series that popped up when I went looking was Broken Hill High. Since it was available on KU, I decided to give it a try.

Book 1:

Broken Hill High is the first book in the series. It starts when Tora is a senior in high school. Her parents have left the country to take care of her ill grandmother, and while they’re gone Tora is forced to stay with her parents’ friends. Tora is not excited to stay with these friends because they have two sons who hate her. Nate, another senior, is particularly mean to her. You know what they say about boys who bully girls, though. It turns out there’s a very fine line between love and hate for Nate. Soon Tora’s dating the bad boy of Broken Hill High, and life starts to get even crazier. All of the attention has the people who would like to take Nate down gunning for Tora.

I thought this series started out pretty strongly. I liked Tora. I even liked Nate. The beginning of relationship was actually pretty sweet. That sweetness combined with all the over the top drama was a lot of fun.

Book 2:

Broken Hill Halo is really just more of Broken Hill High. Tora loves being Nate’s girlfriend despite all of the drama that brings. Instead of being meek like she was when Nate tormented her, Tora’s learning to stand up for herself. Being with Nate has given her courage. Instead of standing by and watching, she’s dealing out her own wrath. Tora’s changing in little ways in this book. Some of them I liked, others I didn’t.

Book 3:

Things begin to take a turn for Tora in Broken Hill Hurt. The ramifications of her actions have started piling up. Her parents aren’t so sure Nate is the best influence. Tora’s determined to prove to them that he is. The problem is that Nate agrees with them. Now, Tora has to learn how to deal with everything crashing down around her.

Things have turned toxic pretty quickly for Tora. I felt badly for her, but I actually agreed with her parents. I had respect for Nate. I got what everyone was trying to do and point out to her.

Book 4:

In Broken Hill Hearts, Tora is still learning to live without Nate. He’s there, but he’s not. Tora is determined to make Nate see the errors of his ways. It’s hard when she can’t stay out of trouble or drama, but she’s going to do it. I still felt bad for Tora, but I liked the direction she was headed with this one. I felt like she really grew a spine and figured out what she needed to do for everything in her life to work itself out.

Book 5:

Broken Hill Havoc begins a new chapter in Tora’s life. She’s left Broken Hill High behind and is now at Broken Hill University. The setting may be different, but the drama is still abundant. Tora and Nate have settled into their relationship. It’s not so up and down. That’s okay because Tora’s relationship with Brooke is. Honestly, I couldn’t stand that girl and how she didn’t believe Tora. That was the most frustrating part of this book. I did like how all of the storylines wrapped up. It was also interesting to get a chapter in Nate’s POV. It makes me excited for Broken Hill Honor.

Book 5.5:

Broken Hill Honor was a novella in mostly Nate’s POV. It was cute and sweet. It wrapped up this series in a great way.

Overall thoughts:

Broken Hill High is a dramatic series filled with over the top teenage drama. There is fighting, love, sex, partying, violence, and relationship troubles. I would classify it as NA romance or very mature YA romance based on the amount of sex and partying involved. Many of the scenes require maturity to read and process.

I liked that the main character, Tora, who start off as quieter, weaker girl and blossomed into a strong young women. Sometimes I wanted to roll my eyes at her actions and reactions, but I did feel like she reacted like a 17-year-old would react. Her relationship with Nate throughout the books progressed well. I liked the ups and downs of it.

Nate was the classic bad boy who ruled the school. He had nasty habits and was a jerk, but he also had redeeming qualities. He was extremely loyal. Once Tora was his, he was incredibly sweet to her. Nate would have done anything to ensure Tora’s safety. I didn’t always love his choices, but I wasn’t supposed it.

Honestly, I wasn’t a big fan of Tora’s friends. They were just kind of there and added a little to the drama. I did really love Nate’s brother Jesse, though. He was a ton of fun. I liked his friendship with Tora. Puck was also another fun friend of Nate’s.

What this book was missing from this series, in my opinion, was emotion. There was emotion written in the book, but I didn’t always feel it myself. I wasn’t consumed by Tora’s feelings. I felt for her not with her. I wanted to feel with her. That’s the only way I can think of explaining it.

Broken Hill High was a fun series to read, but I wasn’t in love with it. I did appreciate how addictive it was, and I think readers who like books with a lot of drama will enjoy it.

Series Rating: ★ ★ ★

Review: Time (Penny Reid)

Time
Series: Laws of Physics, #3
Author: Penny Reid
Publication Date: April 15, 2019
Publisher: EverAfter Romance
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

A (brokenhearted) physicist.
Now an infamous (who is LITERALLY EVERYWHERE!! UGH!) musician.
The worst has already happened.

Mona has learned that she has nothing figured out and plans are meaningless. After leaving her in Aspen, Abram is now breaking sales-records, rising to rock star fame almost overnight. Mona can’t seem to escape him. He is literally everywhere, or at least images of him are.

Just when she thinks things can’t get any more confusing, Abram returns . . . What happens next? Only TIME will tell.


Aw! Time was such a fun way to end the Laws of Physics series. It really brought things full circle for Mona and Abram. I already knew I loved Mona and Abram, but they blossomed even more in this book. I especially grew to love Abram’s character even more. He was such a romantic at heart. His support of Mona was so special. I loved how he stood up for her and championed for her. Their connection was too sweet. Time is going to make fans of this series very happy. It definitely made me happy.

Review: Space (Penny Reid)

SPACE_BT.jpg

Space
Series: Laws of Physics, #2
Author: Penny Reid
Publication Date: March 11, 2019
Publisher: EverAfter Romance
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

One week.
Private cabin.
Famous physicist.
Still an unrepentant slacker.
What’s the worst that could happen?

Mona’s meticulously planned allotment of relaxation is thrown into chaos by the unscheduled appearance of her older brother’s band of friends, including the one person she’d hoped to never face again. Abram still makes her feel entirely too much, which is one of the reasons she disappeared after their one week together. But now, trapped on a mountain of snow and things unspoken, Mona will have to find a way to coexist with Abram, chaos and all.


If you aren’t familiar with the Laws of Physics series, it starts with Motion. In Motion, we meet Mona and Abram. Genius Mona is pretending to be her twin sister, Lisa. “Lisa” is under her brother’s best friend’s watchful eye for her wild ways. Abram and “Lisa” connect in a way neither of them planned. Some stuff goes down and there’s a major cliffhanger. (If this sounds at all interesting, hurry up and pick up Motion)

Why I did I just tell you all that? Well, Space is the continuation of Mona and Abram’s story. It’s been a couple of years since Mona and Abram saw each other. Both have regrets from their time together. They have to work through a bunch of stuff. It’s uncomfortable and note easy for either of them to do, especially around so many people.

PENNY REID!!! You’re so amazing, so how can you be so cruel? I loved Space so much. It was so freaking sweet and funny and good. It was also stressful in the best way possible. The cliffhanger wasn’t exactly shocking, but it did leave me needing MORE.I need Time like NOW! I couldn’t get enough of Mona and Abram. Fans of Penny Reid’s books are going to love this smart romance series.

Laws of Physics is the second trilogy in the Hypothesis series; Laws of Physics parts 1 (MOTION) & 2 (SPACE) end with a cliffhanger.

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Motion

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Pre-order the highly anticipated conclusion today!

Time

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Meet Penny Reid:

Penny Reid is the Best Selling Author of the Winston Brothers, Knitting in the City, Rugby, and Hypothesis series. She used to spend her days writing federal grant proposals as a biomedical researcher, but now she just writes books. She’s also a full time mom to three diminutive adults, wife, daughter, knitter, crocheter, sewer, general crafter, and thought ninja.

authorphoto

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www.pennyreid.ninja

Review: Fumbled Hearts (Meagan Brandy)

Fumbled Hearts
Series: Tender Hearts, #1
Author: Meagan Brandy
Narrators: CJ Bloom, Alexander Cendese
Publication Date: September 21, 2017
Genre: New Adult, Young Adult, Contemporary Romance, Sports

Rating: ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

He’s the persistent playboy who refuses to walk away. I’m the impassive new girl with nothing left to give.
Things are about to get complicated…

After months of refusing, I finally agreed to make the move to Alrick Falls. My family thought it was best – that a new scene would be good for me—and I was sick of having the same conversation.
So here I am, and the plan is simple. Smile through each day and avoid her at all costs.
It’s perfect.

Until the cocksure quarterback comes into play.

The last thing I want is his crooked grin and dark brown eyes focused on me.
Yet here he is, constantly in my space, pushing me, daring me to care. Telling me what I think and feel, as if he knows.
He doesn’t know anything. And  I plan to keep it that way.


Yeah. I’m not where to start with this review, but I’m going to apologize ahead of time if it ends up being a complete rant.

I have to give Meagan Brandy props for her ability to write completely messed up characters. I have read a couple of her books now, and both of them had characters who had been through some rough times. Kalani’s flippant, hard-shelled personality was exactly what I would expect of someone trying to shield herself from the world. I loved how Nate broke down Kalani’s walls and how sweet their relationship was.

Everything else drove me absolutely positively nuts. Despite understanding Kalani’s attitude, I hated it. I hated the way she acted. She had a superiority complex that was insane. She complained others were judgemental, but she was just as judgemental. The way she treated people — Nate included — was not good. Kalani hid things from Nate when she didn’t have a reason to. She kept him at arm’s length even when she swore she loved him. She was a mess and I don’t think she truly got the smack in the face she needed.

I loved Nate. He didn’t hide who he was or what he did. He treated Kalani in a way I didn’t think she deserved. Nate did have a time of stupidity, but I wasn’t shocked by it and he had legit reason to be upset. He could have solved his problems before they started, but I didn’t blame him for his conclusions.

The rest of the characters were crazy, over the top high school students. I never really got a good read on Kalani’s cousin and her boyfriend. Parker was a sweetheart, but I couldn’t figure him out for a while. Things didn’t go where I thought they would with him, so I have to admit that despite not loving this book I will be reading the second. I loved Nate’s parents. Everyone else sucked in that snotty, mean girl/guy way.

Now for one of my biggest complaints about Fumbled Hearts. It was set in high school. HIGH SCHOOL, people! These characters and their actions were more suited for COLLEGE. Kalani had been emancipated for like FOUR YEARS before this book. She was 18. Who gets emancipated at 14? Maybe some kids do, but it seemed crazy when it could have easily have been only a year or two with the storyline. Then, there was all of the drinking and sex. I know this stuff happens in high school, but with the attitudes of the characters it made the whole feel of the book that much older. I kept waiting for someone to show up pregnant with all the talk about sex without a condom at times and pulling out. Seriously, why is this included? Nate’s parents seemed more than happy to let their son have sex under their roof AND didn’t say much when he admitted to not using a condom all of the time. If you’re going to write sex into a YA book, PLEASE advocate safe sex or show the consequences. Finally, there was the ending. It was cheesy and I honestly expected more from it.

I found Fumbling Hearts to be an addictive listen. The narrator did a great job, and I wanted to know what was going to happen to these messed up characters. I just didn’t really enjoy where things went. It was all too problematic for me. 🙁 I’m hoping book 2 is better.

Review: The Girl in the Painting

The Girl in the Painting
Author: Max Monroe
Publication Date: February 28, 2019
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Ansel Bray, an artist known around the world for his tragic hiatus from the canvas.
Ansel Bray, a broody, handsome man not known by me, at all.

Long dark hair, blue eyes, and dimpled cheeks. I’ve never met her, but her image is imprinted in my mind. An angel muse who inspires me to paint again.

There is something about him. Something that spurs a need to be as close to him as possible. A need to find out why.
There is something about her. Something that draws me in. Something that urges me to find out what her presence means.

Why does the girl in his painting look so much like me?
Who is this girl, and why can I see her so vividly?

I shouldn’t fall in love with him.
I shouldn’t fall in love at all.

But fate plays her hand.
But fate has other plans.

The lines of my life will blur.
The needs of my heart will change.

What a beautiful mess we’ve made.


Just when I think I know Max Monroe’s writing, they go and change things up again. I have always been a fan of their contemporary romances. When they released the Stone Cold Fox trilogy I was shocked at how versatile their writing was. It blew my mind how well they did both romantic comedy and romantic suspense. With The Girl in the Painting they have gone in another direction that has me marveling at their writing talent. This book was more emotional that anything I have read of theirs before. I loved that. Is there anything they can’t write? I doubt it.

The Girl in the Painting is one of those books you have to experience for yourself. There was a touching and addictive plot. I guessed some of the things that happened, but other parts were a shock. Everything was so well executed. The characters were so colorful. Ansel came across loud and clear as the tortured artist. His story was both heartbreaking and inspiring. Indy was a woman who thought she was living until she met Ansel. Their connection to each other was palpable. I got lost in their story and the emotion of it.

I was so impressed by A Girl in the Painting. It wasn’t what I have come to expect from Max Monroe, but I loved it as much as I have loved some of my favorite books of theirs. I hope we get more emotional tales from this duo. I wouldn’t mind a book about some of the side characters from this story.

Review: Bennett Mafia (Tijan)

Bennett Mafia
Author: Tijan
Publication Date: March 4, 2019
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

There were always whispers about my roommate at Hillcrest Academy.

The wealthiest of the wealthy sent their kids to our boarding school, and Brooke Bennett had been at the top, though I never quite knew why. She was fun and outgoing, but she kept quiet about her family. The only things she showed me were photographs of her brothers.

I became fascinated with her second-oldest brother. Kai Bennett.

He was the most of them all. Smoldering. Hypnotic. Alluring.
Kai had eyes that pulled me in and a face that haunted my dreams.

Then I met him.

He came to our school with their father, and that’s when I learned what kind of family Brooke came from. They were mafia, and Brooke’s oldest brother was dead. Her father said accident, but Brooke said murder.

Three months later, her father died, and Kai became the head of the Bennett Family. Brooke left Hillcrest for good, and that was the last time I saw her.

Fourteen years later, I’m staring at her face on the television. Brooke is missing.

Two days later, Kai Bennett kidnaps me.


I cannot get Bennett Mafia out of my head! Every time I read a book by Tijan, I’m stuck thinking about it for days. Her words and worlds are so addicting and emotionally impactful. It doesn’t matter if I like or dislike one of her books, I’m always left with something to work out in my mind. It happened again with this book. I can’t say that I fell head over heals in love with it, but I did really enjoy it. There were just a couple of things that I had a hard time digesting.

I was impressed with the tale Tijan told in Bennett Mafia. This book was more than just a dark romance. It had all the angst and emotional turmoil of one, but it also had some twists that reminded me of a thriller. Bennett Mafia took me on a ride. I loved that. So many things happened that I didn’t expect. It was great!

Kai and Riley were interesting characters. Riley was a tortured soul who tried to do good. She didn’t let many people in, and I found myself having a hard time getting close to her in the beginning. Once I got into her head and felt the frustration and indecision she was going through, it was easier to connect with her — which was important since she was our only narrator. Kai wasn’t really the book boyfriend type, but he was the perfect mafia king. He was demanding and intense. I would have loved to have had his point of view to know what he was thinking. Both Kai and Riley were methodical. Everything they did had a purpose. They were both very good at hiding emotions and doing what needed to be done. I think that’s why it took me a while to love both of them. I had to get past the walls they had erected just like the people in the book did.

Kai and Riley’s relationship wasn’t one made in heaven. It would be more accurate to say it was made in hell with the mafia thing and all. Their relationship made me uncomfortable at times. Not for the reasons I would have originally expected. I had a hard time buying into it. They had an immediate and intense physical attraction to each other. Their sexual tension and chemistry was strong. That’s where things kind of stopped for me, though. I didn’t feel the emotional connection between them for much of the book. I felt like the building blocks of that love or the moments they could have forged that bond weren’t really there or strong enough for me until the end. That made some of the choices they made not feel as true to me. I don’t want it to sound like I didn’t like Kai and Riley together. I did. I just wanted more from them, I guess. I wanted to feel for their relationship what I did for Samantha and Mason or Ryan and Mackenzie or Jesse and Alex.

Another thing that was uncomfortable for me was some of the brutality to the story — which I expected from a book about the mafia. I cringed through those parts as they propelled the plot forward. That kind of stuff isn’t my favorite to read, but I can handle it when I appreciate a story line. Those heinous acts were important to and perfect for Bennett Mafia.

Despite these things, I found myself addicted to the story. I always wanted to know what was going to happen next. I loved how things unraveled and became known. I also really loved the side characters. The Bennett family was so interesting and surprisingly lovable. Bennett Mafia may not have been my favorite Tijan romance, but it was my favorite Tijan suspense story.

Review: Boys of Brayshaw High (Meagan Brandy)

Boys of Brayshaw High
Series: Brayshaw High, #1
Author: Meagan Brandy
Publication Date: January 15, 2019
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance, Young Adult

Rating: ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

“Girls like you aren’t exactly welcomed at a place like this, so keep your head down and look the other way.”

Those were the exact words of my social worker when she dropped me in my newest hellhole, a place for “troubled teens”.

I didn’t listen, and now I’m on their radar.

They expect me to play along in their games of hierarchy, to fall in line in the social order they’ve deemed me fit.

Too bad for them, I don’t follow rules.
Too bad for me, they’re determined to make sure I do.

Inconceivably attractive and treated like kings…these are the boys of Brayshaw High.

And I’m the girl who got in their way.


The Boys of Brayshaw High is a book I picked up solely because Kayla told me it was similar to Fallen Crest High by Tijan. I’m a sucker for that series, so I knew I had to read it. I have to agree that it had a similar feel as FCH, so if you like that series you will most likely like this book. Now for more about this book.

I have some mixed feelings about The Boys of Brayshaw High. You can probably tell that from my 3 star rating. I liked it, but there were some things that made me shake my head. I didn’t always appreciate where the story went. There was one particular cabin incident that had me rolling my eyes and disgusted. Not because I couldn’t handle what was going on, but that it didn’t fit in the way it was supposed to in my opinion. I also found one of the twist’s timelines to be a bit confusing based on the characters’ ages and what year they were in high school. (Oh, and speaking of high school, this book might be YA aged but it was definitely new adult.) My biggest issue was probably that I didn’t connect to Raven for a really long time. I found her interesting, but a little off-putting. Honestly, her attitude sucked. I got why and got used it, but I couldn’t get used to some of the dumb decisions she made.

Now that I have those things off my chest, let me talk about what I loved about The Boys of Brayshaw High. Meagan Brandy’s writing is addictive. It had the perfect amount of angst and the emotions flowed with the story. I found myself completely caught up in all of the drama. That’s one of the things I loved most about this book — the drama. It was all over the place and kept up right until the end. I also enjoyed the twists Ms. Brandy included. I didn’t see most of them coming. I was surprised by the cliffhanger ending — which makes me mad because I didn’t realize this was a newly released book and the rest of the series isn’t out yet. Dang it!

While I didn’t always like Raven, I found her to be a great character. The chip she had on her shoulder was certainly justified. I hurt for what she had been through growing up. I hated how people treated her and slut shamed her based on her mom. (Normally, I would cringe at all the slut-shaming, but it did work with the nature of this story line.) Raven’s relationship with the Brayshaw boys was a lot of fun. I loved the steps she went through to figure out her relationship with them. It was so explosive and gritty.

The Brayshaw Boys were another one of the best things about this book. They were horrible, but also surprisingly appealing characters. I totally got why they had Raven all messed up in the head. Royce was the fun-loving one. He made me smile with his nicknames and antics. Captain was the quiet, sullen one. He had a nice sweet side. Maddoc was…mysterious. He was the leader of the pack. I couldn’t decide if I loved or hated the guy half the time. He was so cruel, and yet he had some tender moments that I couldn’t look past. I loved that he also got a point of view in this book. It would have been enough to have just Raven’s, but his brought something extra special to the mix. One thing I need to say is that I didn’t get enough answers when it came to these guys. I understand that now since two books are still coming in this series, but I’m back to being angry that they aren’t released yet because I can’t stand the mystery!

There is so much more to this book than what I’ve included in this review. It’s really hard to explain all the dynamics and crazy stuff that happens because I don’t want to spoil anything. Just know that if you love a gritty, darker, angst-y romance then you should be right at home with The Boys of Brayshaw High.