Review: Passion on Park Avenue (Lauren Layne)

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

Rating: ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Review: F*ck Marriage (Tarryn Fisher)

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

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Review: The Mister (E.L. James)

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

Rating: ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Review: Marriage for One (Ella Maise)

Marriage for One
Author: Ella Maise
Publication Date: May 9, 2019

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

Jack and I, we did everything backward. The day he lured me into his office-which was also the first day we met-he proposed. You’d think a guy who looked like him-a bit cold maybe, but still striking and very unattainable-would only ask the love of his life to marry him, right? You’d think he must be madly in love.

Nope. It was me he asked. A complete stranger who had never even heard of him. A stranger who had been dumped by her fiancé only weeks before. You’d think I’d laugh in his face, call him insane-and a few other names-then walk away as quickly as possible. Well…I did all those things except the walking away part.

It took him only minutes to talk me into a business deal…erm, I mean marriage, and only days for us to officially tie the knot. Happiest day of my life. Magical. Pop the champagne… Not. It was the worst day. Jack Hawthorne was nothing like what I’d imagined for myself.
I blamed him for my lapse in judgment. I blamed his eyes, the ocean blue eyes that looked straight into mine unapologetically, and that frown on his face I had no idea I would become so fascinated with in time.

It wasn’t long after he said I was the biggest mistake of his life that things started to change. No, he still didn’t talk much, but anyone can string a few words together. His actions spoke the loudest to me. And day after day my heart started to get a mind of its own.

One second he was no one. The next he became everything.
One second he was unattainable. The next he seemed to be completely mine.
One second I thought we were in love. The next it was still nothing but a lie.

After all, I was Rose and he was Jack. We were doomed from the very beginning with those names. Did you expect anything else?

 

I’m a little speechless when it comes to Marriage for One. Or maybe a better way to say it is overwhelmed? I don’t know. I’m still wrapping my head around everything that went down. There was a lot. Marriage for One was a long book with a lot of little plot twists. It wasn’t what I expected at all. It wasn’t like any of the books I have read by Ella Maise. That’s not a bad thing. I feel like I can see how her writing is evolving, her craft getting stronger and maturing. What surprised me about this book was somber tone throughout the story. There were a lot of ups and downs, but things felt surprisingly even and sullen throughout the book. It’s really hard to explain, but it wasn’t a bad thing. I liked it.

Another thing that surprised me was I felt like I could never quite get a handle on what was truly going on — things were constantly changing or something would happen that would throw me off. It happened the most from Jack’s side. He was kind of a mystery. Which is weird to say because he had his own point of view. Ella Maise was just really good at keeping me slightly hanging and guessing as to what Jack’s true intentions were. That was rather perfect with Jack’s intensely quiet personality. I think Jack was supposed to be a hard character to love, but (much like Rose) I was drawn to him from the start. I think I was just as surprised by his care and concern as Rose was.

Rose was more forthcoming with her intentions and truths, but she was also very good at ignoring things. I was surprised by some of the things that happened to her even when I could see them coming. I really loved how her feelings for Jack changed and shifted throughout the book based on how he acted or what happened. I felt like I was with her trying to guess what his every action or reaction meant.

Jack and Rose’s relationship was bumpy and filled with uncertainty until it wasn’t…but then it was again. It was so complex and I was obsessed with it. I am not doing a good job of getting my thoughts across, but I loved them together. They were so different, yet they complimented each other so well.

I’m just going to leave things like this: Marriage for One is a book you have to experience for yourself. It’s a slow burn romance that navigates some strange times, some infuriating times, some tragic times, and some incredibly sweet times. It’s filled with emotion that consumes you. I really loved reading it, even if I made a mess out of trying to explain how I felt about it.

Review: The Billionaire Boss Next Door (Max Monroe)

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The Billionaire Boss Next Door, an all-new hilarious romantic comedy from New York Times bestselling author Max Monroe, is available now!

The Billionaire Boss Next Door
Authors: Max Monroe
Publication Date: May 16, 2019
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Synopsis:

My new boss has it all. In spades.

Gorgeous green eyes? Check.
Hard-and-sexy body? Check.
Intelligence? Check.
Success? A big fat billionaire… Check.

Too bad I haven’t started out on the best foot.

My big mouth has already turned him against me, and tempting good looks and success aside, Trent Turner is no peach either. He’s stubborn and thick-headed, and son of a fruitcake, he thinks he knows everything there is to know about the hotel business.

With him running the development of the new Vanderturn New Orleans Hotel and me doing the design, our work relationship is far too intimate for two people who absolutely despise one another.

But that’s not all.

See, he isn’t just my billionaire boss from hell. He’s my new neighbor, too.

Same city.
Same building.
Same floor.

Trent Turner is my billionaire boss next door.

Holy moly, let’s hope my career—and hormones—can survive.

Disclaimer: If you generally love to suffer, hate fun of any kind, and are allergic to laughter, this book is not for you.


If you are a fan of Max Monroe’s contemporary romances, you are in for a treat with The Billionaire Boss Next Door. It’s filled with classic Max Monroe goodness.

First, there is Max Monroe’s trademark humor. The Billionaire Boss Next Door was a little silly, pretty witty, and a whole lot of fun. I always wonder how they come up with such humorous antics and banter. It was great in this book with the way Greer and Trent started out hating each other. Max Monroe does enemies to lovers in the best way.

Second, Greer and Trent were the kind of characters you expect from Max Monroe. Each was slightly nutty in a humorous way. Greer was this outspoken, almost awkward, constantly late woman who you wish was your friend in real life. Trent was an uptight prick who was hiding a nice guy underneath. They were so “extra” in completely different ways.

Third, there’s tight, envy creating friendships. Greer and Emory were BBFs that I would be jealous of in real life. They had this tight friendship where they just got each other, and pushed each other when needed. Trent’s friendships were even more fun. Do I dare say the Trent – Caplin – Quince triangle reminded me a bit of the Kline – Thatcher – Wes friendship? It kind of did! (MM said Trent’s their new favorite over Thatch. I don’t know… I think if anyone is going to dethrone Thatch, it’s going to be Cap!) I loved how a couple of these friends even got a chapter or two in their point of view. Those chapters added so much and were perfect for this book!

Last (but not least), I have to talk about Greer and Trent’s relationship. I loved it. Somehow, their “extra” personalities made the a fascinating couple. Even while they were hating each other, I never doubted how perfect they would be together. They were so much fun to read about.

I know I just spent the last four paragraphs gushing, so I guess I should also mention a couple of the things that bugged me a tad. (Don’t worry, there’s not many.) It took me a few chapters to become invested in The Billionaire Boss Next Door. I won’t give too many details, but it takes some time to get things set up for Greer and Trent. At time I was reading, it had me wondering why I didn’t feel that initial connection to the story. Once the reason become apparent, I didn’t mind that the interaction between the characters took a little longer to take place than I expected. The other thing was The Billionaire Boss Next Door felt more slow burn and PG-13 than I was expecting from Max Monroe. I’m not really complaining about that. It was just enough different from their other billionaire series that is surprised me. I think some readers might be sad it’s not spicier.

Overall, I found The Billionaire Boss Next Door to be a delightful romantic comedy. It was had everything I’ve come to love in a Max Monroe novel. I’m very excited to find out what’s next to come in this series of standalone billionaire romances. I have a feeling Milo will be next, but I seriously can’t wait for Cap’s book.

 

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About Max Monroe:

A secret duo of romance authors team up under the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling pseudonym Max Monroe to bring you sexy, laugh-out-loud reads. Max Monroe is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of more than ten contemporary romance titles. Favorite writing partners and long time friends, Max and Monroe strive to live and write all the fun, sexy swoon so often missing from their Facebook newsfeed. Sarcastic by nature, their two writing souls feel like they’ve found their other half. This is their most favorite adventure thus far.

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Review: Hollywood Dirt (Alessandra Torre)

Hollywood Dirt
Author: Alessandra Torre
Publication Date: September 7, 2015
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services
Genre: Contemporary Romance, New Adult

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Cole Masten. Abandoned by his superstar wife, Hollywood’s Perfect Husband is now Hollywood’s Sexiest Bachelor: partying hard and screwing even harder. Watch out Los Angeles, there’s a new bad boy in town.

Summer Jenkins. That’s me, a small town girl stuck in Quincy, Georgia. I cook some mean chicken and dumplins, can bluff a grown man out of his savings in poker, and was voted Most Friendly my senior year.

We were from different worlds. Our lives shouldn’t have collided. But then Cole Masten read a book about my small town. And six months later, his jet landed on our dusty airstrip, and he brought Hollywood with him.

From the start, I knew he was trouble. For our town. And for me.

Sometimes, opposites just aren’t meant to attract.


Alessandra Torre is an author I’m slowly discovering. The three books I have now read written by her have all been different. Moonshot was romantic suspense. The Ghostwriter was a psychological thriller. Hollywood Dirt was a contemporary romance. I think I can safely say that Torre’s writing can’t be confined to one box. She’s able to crossover genres and write just about anything. I love her writing style no matter what she’s writing.

As I was saying, Hollywood Dirt is a contemporary romance. It’s set in the small town of Quincy, Georgia where there are a bunch of Coca Cola stock millionaires. The heroine, Summer, is not one of those people. She’s a young woman who hasn’t had the best of luck. Summer is the town outcast until Cole Masten comes to town. Cole is a uber famous actor who is making a movie about the history of the town. Summer and Cole are fireworks from the start. They don’t get off on the right track and quickly become enemies, but there’s that thin line between love and hate…

What I loved about Hollywood Dirt is that I was instantly drawn to Summer and all things Quincy. I loved the small town feel of the book and all the little things went into living in Quincy. I loved slowly discovering Summer’s history with the town. Her inner strength and how she was capable of standing her ground no matter who she was dealing with was awesome. She had spunk and I loved it. Summer wasn’t perfect, though, and her doubts and insecurities were so relatable.

My relationship with Cole Masten was much like Summer’s: it was love-hate. I didn’t particularly like him at first. He had the ego to go along with his celebrity status. I did like how his character grew and reexamined his choices, though. He ended up being a good guy in the end. I think my biggest issue with him (and this book) was the way he approached a part of his (non-)relationship with Summer. His actions were just sketchy and kind of skeezy.

Overall, I really enjoyed Hollywood Dirt. It had a great summery feel that would make it a fun beach read. I can easily see why it was made a movie.

Review: Fixing Us (Miranda Elaine)

Fixing Us
Series: Fixing, #3
Author: Miranda Elaine
Publication Date: May 16, 2019
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Gabriel Starr is the love of my life, even if he breaks my heart time and time again.

Like a fool, I keep going back, so I’ve made a promise to myself—one final night and then I’m done.

One night of passion.
No pressure. Most importantly, no future.

One month later, a positive pregnancy test tells me different.

Our only option is to raise this baby as friends, but how can we make it work when we can’t even keep our hands off each other?

We finally have the chance to be the family we never imagined we could be.
But first we need to focus on Fixing Us.


Fixing Us is the third book in the Fixing series by Miranda Elaine, but it’s the first book I have read by this author. What originally drew my attention and made me want to read Fixing Us was the blurb. I was very interested how things were going to work out for high school sweethearts turned exes turned hook ups to have a baby together and, of course, fall back in love. As you can tell by my 5 star rating, it worked out well for them and me.

Leigh Ann and Gabe were high school sweethearts until Gabe ruined their plans for a life together after graduation. Despite their breakup, Leigh Ann and Gabe have had a hard time staying away from each other — it’s a small town and all that. They have never been able to work out their differences, but that doesn’t stop them from hooking up when the need arises. That is what has finally got them into trouble 10+ years after high school. One night of passion has turned into an unplanned pregnancy. It’s life changing for both Leigh Ann and Gabe, but in different ways. Leigh Ann was ready to move on. Now she’s tied to Gabe for at least 18 years. Gabe never planned to have a family. Now he has to come to terms with the fact that he will. Leigh and Gabe have a lot to figure out in the 9 months before their baby is born.

I was fascinated by Leigh Ann and Gabe’s relationship. It had this air of sadness. It was easy to tell they both truly loved each other, but they had different ideas and plans for life. I felt bad that Gabe thought about himself the way he did, but I also applauded him for trying to do what he thought was right. I loved the moments where he learned and grew. Leigh Ann I just felt horrible for. That woman was trapped by her love for Gabe. I could empathize with her about trying to move on. Despite what he said or did at times, Gabe didn’t really allow for it. That didn’t mean that Leigh Ann didn’t have strength. She was an incredibly strong, smart woman. I was actually impressed by the way she handled everything — especially her unplanned pregnancy. Leigh Ann and Gabe were just in this weird, uncomfortable non-relationship that was complicated even more by the pregnancy. It all felt true to a real life relationship and situation. I loved how their relationship evolved and how everything worked out in the end.

I was super impressed with Fixing Us. This is Miranda Elaine’s third book, but her writing feels more seasoned than that. She made each of her characters shine with their distinctive voices. The story moved smoothly and kept me enthralled. The biggest compliment I can give this book is that it made me feel everything the characters were feeling. When a book can do that, I’m impressed. I will definitely be going back and reading the first two books in this series. I am excited to learn more about those characters.

If you’re interested in reading Fixing Us, it can be read as a standalone novel. Characters from the previous books show up, but I wasn’t confused by that. This book had a story of its own.

Mini Reviews: Rock Bottom Girl & Cruel Sanctuary

Rock Bottom Girl
Author: Lucy Score
Publication Date: March 8, 2019
Publisher: That’s What She Said Publishing
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Sports

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

“You may be faking the relationship, but you’re not faking the orgasms.”

Downsized, broke, and dumped, 38-year-old Marley sneaks home to her childhood bedroom in the town she couldn’t wait to escape twenty years ago. Not much has changed in Culpepper. The cool kids are still cool. Now they just own car dealerships and live in McMansions next door. Oh, and the whole town is still talking about that Homecoming she ruined her senior year.

Desperate for a new start, Marley accepts a temporary teaching position. Can the girl banned from all future Culpepper High Homecomings keep the losing-est girls soccer team in school history from killing each other and prevent carpal tunnel in a bunch of phone-clutching gym class students? Maybe with the help of Jake Weston, high school bad boy turned sexy good guy.

When the school rumor mill sends Marley to the principal’s office to sign an ethics contract, the tattooed track coach, dog dad, and teacher of the year becomes her new fake boyfriend and alibi—for a price. The Deal: He’ll teach her how to coach if she teaches him how to be in a relationship. Who knew a fake boyfriend could deliver such real orgasms? But it’s all temporary. The guy. The job. The team. There’s too much history. Rock bottom can’t turn into a foundation for happily ever after. Can it?

Warning: Story also includes a meet-puke, a bouffanted nemesis, a yard swan and donkey basketball, a teenage-orchestrated makeover, and a fake relationship that gets a little too real between the sheets.

My thoughts:

I have been seeing Rock Bottom Girl pop up just about everywhere online recently. I read a couple of great reviews for it, and decided I wanted to read it. I’m so glad I did! I have officially found another author whose back list of books I want to binge read. Rock Bottom Girl was a delight to read.

What did I love about this book? Everything. What really stood out, though, was the way 38 year old Marley was portrayed. Way older than people at this age normally act. It’s like they’re premature 80 year olds or something. Marley wasn’t like that. She was still trying to figure out life and navigate relationships. That’s what people are still going in their 30’s and 40’s, people. She (and Jake) were just so relatable. I loved that! Plus, this entire book was funny. It made me smile so much. It was one of those really enjoyable romantic comedies that I would love to see as a movie. You should read it.


Cruel Sanctuary
Series: Wages of Sin, #1
Author: Tara Leigh
Publication Date: March 22, 2019
Publisher: Tara Leigh Books
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

They say New York City is the Devil’s Playground.
They’re wrong.
This city belongs to me.
And so does Aislinn Granville.

She is a pampered politician’s daughter.
A decorative ornament, raised to smile and nod and do what she’s told.
Except… she doesn’t. Not with me. Ever.

In this city full of thugs and thieves, I’ve kept Aislinn safe.
From my enemies.
From me.

Until now.

My thoughts:

Cruel Sanctuary is a classic dark romance: A good girl gets swept up in a bad guy’s world —  which is actually her world, she just doesn’t know it yet. There’s sex, violence, and a political war waging. I enjoyed reading Cruel Sanctuary. It was fast paced and I liked the plot. The chemistry was there between Aislinn and Damien. My only issue is that things were a little stalky on Damien’s part. It was disturbing, but I have a feeling that the next book is going to explain that and it won’t feel as wrong. Overall, it was a fun dark romance.

Review: Bred (Ginger Scott)

Bred
Author: Ginger Scott
Publication Date: May 10, 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

A coming-of-age romance inspired by Great Expectations.

My life was irrevocably changed the moment I stepped foot inside Elena Alderman’s grand front doors. A lifeless tomb on the edge of Chicago’s Southside, the Alderman home sat in one of the city’s oldest and wealthiest neighborhoods, and Elena Alderman was the queen.

She was also mad.

Not the kind of madness that’s readily apparent. No, her psychopathy was far more surgical—more…insidious. She was surrounded by beautiful things—most notably her grand piano and her adopted son, Henry.

I fell in love with both.

My gift blossomed when my fingers touched her black and white keys. But my life began when I became haunted by the boy. Henry Alderman was a handsome blend of arrogance and seduction, and as we grew up together, I found it more and more impossible to separate him from my thoughts. I envied his life. I imagined how my name—Lily—would look with his. I became his closest friend…and more. I gave him my kiss, locked away his secrets, and loved him even when it was hard to.

But we were just a game. Elena Alderman made the rules. And when she decided to change them, she broke everything.


If you read the blurb, you know that Bred was inspired by Great Expectations. I haven’t read that book, but I did read some of the classics in my Humanities 302 at Arizona State (The same college Ms. Scott went to, at the same time! If only I had known her then, right?). That being said, the ones I have read had the same tone. I wouldn’t say it was dark, but more of a gloomy, waiting for something bad to happen feel. That’s how I felt reading Bred. It also felt like it could have been set in the past. Some of the details would have had to change, but it could have been a classic all on its own. I was really impressed by this. Ginger Scott nailed the whole inspired by a classic thing with Bred, in my opinion.

Bred kept me on edge while I was reading it. I worried for Lily the entire book. Lily was this orphan who was trying to make the best out of what life had tossed at her. She was an insecure rule follower who had a rough path to discovering herself. Lily was both fortunate and unfortunate to have a benefactor. Elena was an odd, calculating woman. She gave Lily many opportunities, but they had a price tag. I was just as scared by what Elena might do as Lily was. She instilled a quiet fear and directed the story even when she wasn’t on the page.

What made things even more stressful was the fact that Lily had this are we or aren’t we friends(hip) with Henry, Elena’s adoptive son. Henry was this mysterious troublemaker who acted indifferent towards Lily. He was Lily’s opposite, and yet they also had similarities. Henry was so well written that I had just as hard a time as Lily trying to figure out his true feelings and intentions. Lily had a gigantic crush on Henry that I didn’t see ending well.

Despite being nervous for the characters, I loved Bred. It was a unique coming of age story. I don’t think I have personally read anything quite like it. I loved the growth of the characters and their march towards adulthood. I truly didn’t know which way Lily’s story was going to go, and that was cool because that doesn’t happen often.

I was expecting greatness from Ginger Scott, but I didn’t expect this story. I think that’s because I never know what she’s going to come up with next. Each book she writes is new and engaging in a completely different way. Bred is definitely a book I would recommend.

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Excerpt from BRED By Ginger Scott
A coming-of-age love story inspired by Great Expectations
(Copyright Ginger Scott, 2019)“You know this stuff…” he starts, but I interrupt with an emphatic shake of my head. When his fingers splay out over my back I freeze. I follow the path my book takes back to the place it started in front of me as Henry slides it in place, flipping open to the chapter I’m trying to memorize. Knelt down next to me, he leans closer, resting his right arm next to my left one—we are touching.

I swallow. I’m going to fail. I cannot memorize something like the varied historical degrees of differences between a Protestant hell and a Lutheran one while the master of all hotness is sharing a desktop with me. My arm hairs are literally electric, standing up and reaching to plant themselves in his skin. I’ve gone completely primal—my body convinced that I am the gatherer in need of this hunter.

“Look,” he says, leaning in even closer and reaching to flip the pages. I barely register the movement of his thumb under a bold section of words. When his eyes catch mine still stuck on his face, I jump in my seat a little.

“Sorry,” I say, clearing my throat. “I’m just overwhelmed. Maybe a little slow, too, from being in here so long.”

It’s partly true, but I’m also just crushing. Crushing—that’s what Nicki calls it. She rolls her eyes every time she catches me doing it too, then labels it with that word. I crush in the dining area. I crush between classes when Henry pokes my arm with his index finger as we pass in the halls. I crush when I watch him sprint across the lawn every day at three in the afternoon, late for rowing. It’s literally become how I know it’s three o’clock! My body just instinctually glides toward my window at exactly 2:59. Pathetic!

At this point, we should just say that I’m crushed rather than crushing. Crushed and utterly destroyed of all pride.

I am gatherer.
“What you need to do is make up a rhyme. Something that will help you keep all of the key words in your brain so when it comes time to write them down in order, you’ll have them there.”

I draw in my lips and let the acid climb up my throat.

“I don’t even understand that. Ugg, I’m hopeless,” I say, letting my head fall flat against the book. I bounce my forehead there lightly while I eke out a desperate laugh at my own expense.

“You aren’t hopeless.” I feel the warm breath from his chuckle and smell the mint of his gum, and it’s intoxicating enough without his touch, so when the warm hand slides the hair from my cheek I go full hypnosis. His fingers trace my jaw, and my head lifts from the light pressure of his hold. For a moment, I believe in myself just because of the look in his eyes when our stares meet. He’s dead serious—and God, the way he’s looking at me, hair all tousled, smile soft and true, cheeks lifted as if they’re glad to see me.

Like a drunk, I lean closer, my lips parting and ready—my mind imagining everything I’m about to feel—Henry’s mouth on mine, the graze of teeth against my lips, us standing as his arms sweep around my back before his hands rush up my spine into my own messy hair.

None of that happens.

I get an inch away from his mouth, my eyelids fluttering with nerves and uncertainty whether they should close or remain open, and Henry turns a few inches to his left, stiffening and backing away just enough to keep me from making this worse—as if I can make this worse somehow. The rush of heat that coats me isn’t from passion—it’s from humiliation. My eyes remain open just long enough to see the movement in his neck as he clears his throat. His soft smile is replaced with a hard line, drawn under the pity that slants his eyes.

I think I understand hell a little better now. It helps that I’m in it.

“I’m just tired. I…” Why I try to speak, I don’t know.

“It’s fine.” His voice is laced with discomfort. In one blink I erased everything that was easy between us. All because of my damn fantasies.

Fine. That word—so short, so four-lettered. Such a lie. I ruined everything.

About the Author:

Ginger Scott is an Amazon-bestselling and Goodreads Choice Award-nominated author of several young and new adult romances, including Waiting on the Sidelines, Going Long, The Hail Mary, Blindness, How We Deal With Gravity, This Is Falling, You and Everything After, The Girl I Was Before, Wild Reckless, Wicked Restless, In Your Dreams, The Hard Count, Hold My Breath, A Boy Like You, A Girl Like Me, Memphis and Cry Baby.

A sucker for a good romance, Ginger’s other passion is sports, and she often blends the two in her stories. (She’s also a sucker for a hot quarterback, catcher, pitcher, point guard…the list goes on.) Ginger has been writing and editing for newspapers, magazines and blogs for more than 15 years. She has told the stories of Olympians, politicians, actors, scientists, cowboys, criminals and towns. For more on her and her work, visit her website at http://www.littlemisswrite.com.

When she’s not writing, the odds are high that she’s somewhere near a baseball diamond, either watching her son field pop flies like Bryce Harper or cheering on her favorite baseball team, the Arizona Diamondbacks. Ginger lives in Arizona and is married to her college sweetheart whom she met at ASU (fork ’em, Devils).

Social Media Links:
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/GingerScottAuthor
Twitter: @TheGingerScott
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/thegingerscott/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/GingerScottAuthor
Google: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+GingerScottAuthor/posts
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/GingerScott
Website: http://www.littlemisswrite.com

Review: That Second Chance (Meghan Quinn)

That Second Chance
Series: Getting Lucky, #1
Author: Meghan Quinn
Publication Date: May 7, 2019
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Note: This review is for an ARC and is my unbiased opinion.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

USA Today bestselling author Meghan Quinn delivers a smart and cheeky romance about love’s power to lift hearts . . . and curses.

It was supposed to be an innocent night, celebrating my brother’s birthday. Nothing was supposed to go wrong. We’d vowed to be on our best behavior after all . . .

But it only took one rowdy night with my brothers to flip my world upside down. One unlucky encounter saddled us with a family curse and the promise of doomed relationships. I laughed it off immediately. “Yeah, right,” I thought. “A love curse. Ha!”

Boy, was I wrong.

Word spreads quickly in a town like mine; rumors about that night soon made us the most eligible yet untouchable bachelors in Port Snow, Maine. As a subject of endless gossip and speculation, I could kiss my dating life goodbye.

It would have stayed that way if Ren Winters, the new girl in town, hadn’t crashed into my life. Brave, beautiful, and smart—her vivacious thirst for a fresh start has given me hope that maybe, just maybe, I can have one too.

Everyone wishes for that second chance . . . but could this really be mine?


I have been eagerly waiting for That Second Chance since I read Two Wedding Crashers. I was eager to get back to Port Snow and those Knightly brothers. And what a fun return it was!

Meghan Quinn is one of the most versatile romance writers. There really isn’t a style she can’t write. I have adored her romantic comedies, become shattered by her deeply emotional contemporaries, and now relaxed with her classic contemporary romance. That’s what That Second Chance was in my opinion, a classic contemporary romance. I would put this book in the same category as a good Lauren Layne or Jessica Lemmon romance. It was a fun read. There were some deeper emotional things going on for the characters, but I never felt a deep level of angst. I appreciated that.

Okay, back to those Knightly brothers. That Second Chance was a great introduction to them. I’m happy Meghan Quinn started with the eldest brother, Griffin. I loved Griffin. He was the eldest who was so put together and did everything for the right reasons. His story started off a little sad. Griffin had previous lost his childhood sweetheart and wife (I am the only one who wished they also got a book about this relationship? You know, kind of like Meghan did with her recent duets?). He wasn’t looking for love, but it when he was least expecting it. This story was about Griffin moving on from the past and learning to love again. He was lucky to do so with Ren Winters.

Ren was sunshine in a subtle way. Like when the clouds just start to move out. She had this easy-going quality despite having been through some tough stuff herself. (Again, I wish there was a book about Ren before because I was curious about what happened prior and her parents and a lot of stuff.) I liked what she brought both Port Snow and Griffin.

Ren and Griffin’s relationship was sweet. It moved slowly and quickly all at the same time. They developed this cute friendship first. Nothing can go completely smooth in a romance novel, though, so it was fun to experience them navigating all of the issues that came from their backgrounds and thoughts. It was also fun that it happened in such a small town setting. I loved how Griffin’s family didn’t hesitate to butt into their budding relationship. That Second Chance was a lovely small town contemporary romance. 

Back to those other Knightly brothers. I liked the glimpse of each character I got. They may have looked similar, but they had distinct personalities that I’m very excited to get to know in their upcoming books. I just know Meghan Quinn has great love stories coming for us.

Get To Know Author Meghan Quinn

  1. In the past few years you have written dozens of novels! First off, how do you find the time? And second, how has becoming a bestselling author changed your life? 

I have the best partner in life ever that helps out with everything around the house, including the kids. I also have a very overactive imagination so when I get into a scene, my fingers fly, giving me high word counts in a short amount of time. Even though it looks like I’m working all the time, I make sure to make time for my family, ending every day at five at night. And hitting the USA Today bestselling list was a huge goal of mine I had ever since I started writing. It meant everything to me.

  1. What can you tell us about the first time you sat down to write with the goal of completing a novel? 

I was a maniac. I wrote the book in a week. Yes, a week. It was insane. I had so much to say because I was thinking about it consistently while commuting an hour and twenty minutes one way to work. When my fingers hit the keyboard, it al flew out of me.

  1. What is the best part about being a romance author? What is the most difficult part? 

The best part is constantly being able to create, break it up, and then find it again. It’s such an old, classic formula, but it’s my favorite of all time. The most difficult is trying not to gross people out with terminology during sex scenes. There are only so many words that are on the OKAY list. Sometimes it can be restricting. 

  1. What draws you to writing romance novels? Specifically why is it important that your characters have happily-ever-afters? 

Ever since I can remember, I’ve loved love. Instead of going out in high school, I would stay at home and watch romantic comedies. I was fascinated with falling in love and the heartbreak, and then the make up. I love everything about it. I think we all deserve a HEA, why not give it to our characters too?

  1. Even though you include realism and heartbreak in your books, the thing readers really takeaway is sense of fun you pack into the novels. How is it you (and your characters) are able to find humor in everyday things? 

I’ve always found myself to live in the clouds, in a land of cupcakes and fun, it’s just my personality so whenever I’m in a situation, I usually can find the fun in it and of course, I’m really good at embellishing. 

  1. Give us a quick snapshot of your newest novel That Second Chance

Four brothers, small town romance, all single, all cursed. Will they be able to find love, even though they’re the most eligible yet untouchable bachelors in Port Snow, Maine?

  1. What makes Ren and Griff’s story special to you? 

Their meet cute is probably one of my most favorite of all time. Wayward moose, volunteer firefighter, a crazed woman new to town, looking for help. It’s all charming, funny, and perfect. 

  1. What’s next for this series? 

Rogan!!! AND OH MY GOD!!! His story is . . . gah! I can’t even tell you how in love with it I am. There is mystery, intrigue, questions that need to be answered and so much swoon you might just fall off your chair while reading. 

Author Biography

USA Today bestselling author, wife, adoptive mother, and peanut butter lover. An author of romantic comedies and contemporary romance, Meghan Quinn brings readers the perfect combination of heart, humor, and heat in every book.

Social Media Links

Website: https://authormeghanquinn.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authormeghan.quinn
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AuthorMegQuinn
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7360513.Meghan_Quinn

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