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Single Sundays: Dating You / Hating You by Christina Lauren

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Dating You / Hating You (from Goodreads):

 

All’s fair in love and work. The first standalone romance by New York Times and #1 international bestselling author Christina Lauren (Beautiful Bastard) is a sexy, compulsively readable romantic comedy that dives headlong into the thrill and doubt of modern love.

Despite the odds against them from an embarrassing meet-awkward at a mutual friend’s Halloween party, Carter and Evie immediately hit it off. Even the realization that they’re both high-powered agents at competing firms in Hollywood isn’t enough to squash the fire.

But when their two agencies merge—causing the pair to vie for the same position—all bets are off. What could have been a beautiful, blossoming romance turns into an all-out war of sabotage. Carter and Evie are both thirtysomething professionals—so why can’t they act like it?

Can Carter stop trying to please everyone and see how their mutual boss is really playing the game? Can Evie put aside her competitive nature long enough to figure out what she really wants in life? Can their actor clients just be something close to human? Whether these two Hollywood love/hatebirds get the storybook Hollywood ending or just a dramedy of epic proportions, you will get to enjoy Christina Lauren’s heartfelt, raucous, and hilarious romance style at its finest.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Author: Christina Lauren
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: June 6, 2017
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve been a fan of Christina Lauren’s series for a while so I was curious to see what they could do with a standalone. This one looked like it would be a lot of fun and I couldn’t wait to see the chemistry between Evie and Carter come to life as they competed for the job.

The Plot:

I laughed a lot while listening to this which is always a big plus. The antics these two get into were creative and hilarious. I got some very high intensity ideas to prank my co-workers with 😉

The other big highlight for me was the emphasis on sexism in the workplace. I read this book in February 2018, just on the cusp of the #MeToo movement and it further resonated with me the systemic problems women face in the workplace. Watching both Evie and Carter come to terms with it was an interesting aspect to this novel.

There was something off about the pacing which is why this isn’t a 5/5. This book was utterly addicting thanks to the characters and the chemistry between them. But I felt like it got lost in some of the more filler moments.

The Characters:

I really loved these two. Evie was a strong heroine and her attitude and drive is admirable. She’s hilarious ad completely her own person which is great. As is Carter who is equally charming and sincere.

Both had some great character development and I got sucked into their stories.

The Romance:

I loved the chemistry between Evie and Carter. They were a perfect match from the start. Carter is just adorable with his infatuation. This book has a bit of a slow burn feel to it so the tension is just palpable between these two.

Compared to other Christina Lauren novels I’ve read, I liked that this one wasn’t so focused on the sex scenes. They’re really aren’t all that many (just your standard for contemporary romance nowadays) and I really appreciated that in a way because it just highlighted the great connection between these two instead of their physical chemistry.

My Audiobook Experience:

I’m really glad with my decision to read this as an audiobook. It just made this thing seem like a rom-com movie to me. One of the funniest audiobooks I’ve listened to. Shayna Thibodeaux  and Deacon Lee did great jobs as the narrators. Their tone and performance was just fabulous!

My Rating: 4/5

overall

This is a funny and charming contemporary romance. It isn’t as erotica based as previous Christina Lauren novels so take with that what you will. But returning fans and new readers alike will enjoy this novel!

Read if You Like: Chick Lit, office romance, rom-com
Avoid if You: want more erotica

similarreads

  • Wallbanger by Alice Clayton (Cocktail Series #1)
  • Lace Up by Shae Ross (Pretty Smart Girls Series #1)
  • Smut by Karina Halle

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Series Review: Wild Seasons by Christina Lauren

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

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SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Fav Reads 2015, Favourite New Adult Series 2015
Series: Wild Seasons Series

This series crosses over with the Beautiful Bastard Series in book 4 of the Beautiful Bastard Series, Beautiful Secret.

Author: Christina Lauren
# of Books: 4 (Sweet Filthy Boy, Dirty Rowdy Thing, Dark Wild Night, Wicked Sexy Liar)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Erotica, Chick Lit
Heat Rating: hot, (Kink: minor [Dark Wild Night])
Point of View: First Person, Single (Sweet Filthy Boy), Alternate (Dirty Rowdy Thing onwards)

Thoughts:

When I first saw that Christina Lauren had a new New Adult series, I didn’t put it to the top of my to-read list. Despite the fact that I did enjoy the Beautiful Bastard Series (by this point I had only read the first two novels in the series) and that I like that they write strong independent female heroines, I just wasn’t sold on reading another series by them. But then two things happened: 1) was that I read Beautiful Player, the 3rd novel of the Beautiful Bastard Series an LOVED it! and 2) I actually read the synopsis for Sweet Filthy Boy and I just had to know what happened.

And I am so glad that I did!

If I didn’t have a midterm test the next day, I would have stayed up all night reading Sweet Filthy Boy. It hooked me in the second I started reading and I couldn’t put it down. I laughed, I teared-up and most importantly, I fell in love with Mia and Ansel. Sure, the romance was a bit of a love-at-first-sight situation but it never felt like that. They really had a strong connection and I loved watching their relationship develop. Seeing them connect emotionally and not just physically was such a blast to read about. This is what I wanted Gayle Forman’s Just One Day Series to be: a cute, albeit it slightly unrealistic, soul-mate finding romance set in Paris. Sweet Filthy Boy was the perfect blend of character growth, romance and fun (including humour!).

Ansel was swoon-worthy–definitely a new book boyfriend for me–and I really connected to Mia more than I thought I would. Mia was really the best part of the book for me. Certain traits of hers reminded me a lot of myself but I loved watching her grow during this book. She also wasn’t a stupid and irrational character–which was quite the bonus because I was reading another book at the time with a super annoying heroine so Mia made for a nice break–and actually thought about things before she acted. I loved how she handled everything that was thrown at her and did it in a smart way. And I know from reading an interview with Christina and Lauren that they were worried that having only a single POV wouldn’t go over well with fans but I think it worked out perfectly and Mia was awesome to read about.

The rest of the characters are also great–which made me super excited to read the rest of the series.

While I didn’t love love Dirty Rowdy Thing like I loved Sweet Filthy Boy it was still a great read! Again, the focus wasn’t just on sex and instead you get to see a relationship actually build; plus the signature sexy times Christina Lauren is known for thrown in for good measure. It too was a great blend of realism (in terms of relationships), romance and humour and it lead me to the conclusion that Christina Lauren might be one of my new favourite authors because this series is everything I want in a contemporary, New Adult romance series. The little quirks that irked me in the first two Beautiful Bastard Series novels are gone like they were in Beautiful Player and the result is just a really great read.

Words cannot describe how excited I am for Dark Wild Night: I hate the fact that I have to wait until September to wait for this couple’s story. At least I will have the crossover novel until them, Beautiful Secret…sigh

updates

–October 12, 2015– Book #3: Dark Wild Night

I’ve wanted to read this couple’s story since the very first book so to say I was highly anticipating this one isn’t adequate enough. However, I was worried when I read the initial synopsis. I didn’t like where it was going and I am SO GLAD that Christina Lauren rewrote this book before publication because the story we get is perfect for these two.

I’m not a fan of unrequited friendship love stories but when it’s two friends who are equally in love with each other and don’t know what to do about it–I’m so there. I spent the first 50 or so pages with butterflies in my stomach because it was adorable and perfect. I loved watching this relationship become something more.

I was expecting this book to be my favourite of the 3 but I still think Sweet Filthy Boy takes the cake. I think Mia and Ansel in the first book are better developed characters. So while I really, really enjoyed Dark Wild Night, it did lose me for a second or two in the middle but quickly righted itself in the end.

Can’t WAIT to how it is going to wrap up in the final (?) book: Wicked Sexy Liar!

–March 16, 2016– Book #4: Wicked Sexy Liar

I really didn’t know what to expect with Wicked Sexy Liar. These two were characters we had only met in passing before and hadn’t been anticipating their relationship from the first book.

The more I read this book, the more I enjoyed it. I really liked the relationship that developed between these two. I liked how they had more in common than just physical chemistry and they had that friendship blossoming between them. I definitely fell more in love with them as a couple the more I read.

I also liked how honest these characters were. For a book titled “Wicked Sexy Liar”, I really thought more lying would be happening but that wasn’t the case. These two were so open and had great communication that it made me wonder why they titled the book this.

Not my favourite in the series, but a solid way to end it all I think. Definitely an enjoyable read!

(PS can Margot please have your own story? That would be great thanks!)

Series Rating: 5/5

Sweet Filthy Boy 5/5 | Dirty Rowdy Thing 4.5/5 | Dark Wild Night 5/5 | Wicked Sexy Liar 4/5

overall

Maybe I loved these first two books so much because I was supposed to be studying for midterms both times I picked them up, but I really don’t think that is the case. This series is everything I like in a contemporary romance–strong heroines, swoon-worthy heros, humour, an actual emotional connection–and lacks what I hate about contemporary romance–over the top relationship drama. Christina Lauren have written winners with this series!

Read if You Like: new adult contemporary, emotionally connected romance
Avoid if You: dislike crude love scenes

similarreads

Synopsis for Sweet Filthy Boy (from Goodreads):
One-night stands are supposed to be with someone convenient, or wickedly persuasive, or regrettable. They aren’t supposed to be with someone like him.

But after a crazy Vegas weekend celebrating her college graduation—and terrified of the future path she knows is a cop-out—Mia Holland makes the wildest decision of her life: follow Ansel Guillaume—her sweet, filthy fling—to France for the summer and just…play.

When feelings begin to develop behind the provocative roles they take on, and their temporary masquerade adventures begin to feel real, Mia will have to decide if she belongs in the life she left because it was all wrong, or in the strange new one that seems worlds away.

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Series Review: Beautiful Bastard by Christina Lauren

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Series: Beautiful Bastard

This series crosses over with the Wild Seasons Series in book 4, Beautiful Secret.

Author: Christina Lauren
# of Books: 4 (Beautiful Bastard, Beautiful Stranger, Beautiful Player, Beautiful Secret)

There are 4 novellas #1.5 Beautiful Bitch, #2.5 Beautiful Bombshell, #3.5 Beautiful Beginning and #3.6 Beautiful Beloved

Book Order: Connected but Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Erotica, Drama
Heat Rating: Smokin’, Kink: mild, BSDM: light
Point of View: First Person, Alternating

Thoughts:

This series peaked my interest for three reasons: 1) the title (it isn’t every day you see “bastard” in a title); 2) the enemy to lovers plotline (I’m a sucker for this type of romance plotline) and 3) the fact that it was fan-fiction before being republished.

Now, the fact that it was fanfiction, specifically Twilight fanfiction, would rightfully deter people away from picking up Beautiful Bastard. I mean, Twilight fanfiction brought us Fifty Shades of Grey and that presents a bias for all fanfiction that is published after its initial posting. So, needless to say I was a bit skeptical about this book, but I did like Fifty Shades when all is said and done so I decided to give this a shot.

I have to say, this book wasn’t very “Twilight-y” in its delivery. Unlike Fifty Shades where you can pick up the obvious parallels between its story and Twilight, I really didn’t get that here. After I finished the book and read the authors’ biographies, I realized that this published version was different than the original fanfiction they created. So if you are worried that this is just a reworking of Twilight, it isn’t so go into it with a fresh mind.

As for the book, Beautiful Bastard, it was a quick and cute read. Nothing wholly original but I was entertained nonetheless. I wish there was a bit more tension between the characters before they started sleeping together. I kind-of wanted more of a buildup to the eventual “moment” but they do give some flashback and insight to their past relationship so that helps. But I still don’t really understand why they are drawn to each other besides the sex (which happens a LOT, nearly every chapter). I suppose it is expanded upon a bit later on but I could have used a little more details.

The book also ends rather abruptly I think. I like a nice little epilogue or wrap-up at the end of my books; especially when the next full length novel in the series doesn’t deal directly with those two characters. So the way it ended was a bit of a disappointment but the nice thing is the Beautiful Bitch novella picks up from the end of Beautiful Bastard and closes up some of those gaps. However, it also ended abruptly (it is a novella after all) but I did feel like I got some closure. I was lucky to borrow a copy but if I had paid the $6 to buy the book from Kobo, I would have been severely disappointed in this novella. But when all is said and done, I enjoyed it and it did get me excited to read Beautiful Stranger.

Unfortunately, Beautiful Stranger was a bit of a disappointment. It is really a shame because I really did like the characters and wanted to really like this book. There were two issues that caused me not to enjoy this book as much as I had hoped. One was the same problem I have with Beautiful Bastard: I don’t understand why these characters fall in love with each other. Sure, they have amazing sexually chemistry but again, I would have appreciate an expansion on the things they have in common and their connection because I do think it was there, it was just tucked behind the scenes. The other issue would be the “kink” factor these two share. By no means is it as kinky as some erotica novels out there but I really don’t understand the fascination with taking photos of yourself–especially when you know the risks involved. Just doesn’t float my boat and it took me a long time to get over that. Overall, I liked Beautiful Stranger, but not as much Beautiful Bastard and I wish there was an epilogue!

I’m looking forward to the next eBook, Beautiful Bombshell and hoping for some resolution with the previous characters and also hoping for some more insight into the characters of the 3rd book, Beautiful Player.

Updated (Jan 9/15): I won’t lie–this series slipped to the back of my mind in 2014 and that only reason I remember I read it was because of my library adding the last few works to the online catalogue in December. So I put my holds on them and waited.

I actually read Beautiful Player before I read Beautiful Bombshell just because of how my holds at the library worked out. I don’t feel like I missed out on much because it really had nothing to do with the leads in Beautiful Player (maybe two little facts about the hero) and everything to do with the leads in the previous two books. Beautiful Bombshell is basically just reading sex scenes involving the last two couples in various places in Vegas. I actually skimmed a lot of it because it was almost a sex overload — though I thought the last chapter was really cute.

As for Beautiful Player–hands down my favourite book in the series! I loved loved the two leads, loved their relationship and loved the plot line. Hanna reminded me so much of myself in her everyday life and she had my laughing throughout the book. Of course she had her little dumb moments but nothing that stopped me from loving her. And Will was just plain swoon-worthy. I never had to question why these two liked each other because their chemistry and connection was apparent from the start. They didn’t jump into bed together but actually had a relationship before all the sexual stuff came into the equation. But the sexual tension was there from the start and it made that moment when they actually crossed that line that much sweeter. I just thought it was really well done even if there wasn’t much else going on plot-wise other than their relationship growing.

Updated (March 28/15): I read Beautiful Beloved and really enjoyed it. Unlike Beautiful Bombshell, I didn’t feel like I was reading extended sex scenes of all the characters–it actually had a plot and an intriguing one at that! It raises good questions for the modern woman: how do you balance your work life with your obligations as a mother? And while I may not necessarily be in that place in my life at the moment, I think a lot of older women (and guys too!) will relate in some capacity to the couple here.

But perhaps the best part of Beautiful Beloved was the brief introduction to the hero in Beautiful Secret! I cannot wait for this book–I already have my name on the hold list at my library and am counting down the days!

Updated (April 1/15): I will admit that I didn’t give Beautiful Beginning the time it deserved because I had to return it to the library and read another book before it expired on me too. Like Beautiful Beloved, I thought it was a great way to wrap up these characters’ stories and it would have been a great way to end the series had they not decided to write Beautiful Secret (the crossover with their other series). It’s not sex scenes every two pages and it made me appreciate these two characters and their relationship a lot more. It was fun, touching and overall a great novella!

UPDATED (May 6/15): Despite getting Beautiful Secret on its release day, I didn’t get a chance to read it until now. While this book didn’t blow my away like Beautiful Player, I simply adored it! I was worried it was going to be a British regurgitation of Beautiful Bastard (the premise is slightly similar with a young intern as the female lead) but they are drastically different. It was fun and sweet and sexy–everything I want (and have come to expect) in a Christina Lauren novel! I loved that instead of a naive young girl, we get a male lead who isn’t too sure of his sexual prowess and who hasn’t been sleeping his way through London. It made their connection more realistic to me than this “magical” connection that makes him change his ways after a mind-blowing “shag” (you know the stories I’m talking about?).

Right now, there are no plans for further books in the series and I am OK with that. Christina Lauren have shown that they can write other stories with their Wild Seasons Series (which I immensely enjoy) so I would like to see them expand their catalogue a bit. But that isn’t to say I wouldn’t read the next novel in this series if there were to be one. You can definitely count me in!

Definitely not the greatest books ever written–though all things considered, they are written well–but if you are looking for a cute quick read that is filled with lots of sex, look no further than this series! It’s a great modern, contemporary erotica romance series without all the dark, alpha males in the traditional contemporary erotica series.

Rating: 4/5

Similar Reads: Bared to You by Sylvia Day (Crossfire Trilogy, #1); Fifty Shades of Gray by E.L. James (Fifty Shades Trilogy, #1); and Worth the Scandal by Karen Erickson, (Worth It, #1)

Synopsis for Beautiful Bastard (from Goodreads):
An ambitious intern.
A perfectionist executive.
And a whole lot of name calling.

Whip-smart, hardworking, and on her way to an MBA, Chloe Mills has only one problem: her boss, Bennett Ryan. He’s exacting, blunt, inconsiderate—and completely irresistible. A Beautiful Bastard.

Bennett has returned to Chicago from France to take a vital role in his family’s massive media business. He never expected that the assistant who’d been helping him from abroad was the gorgeous, innocently provocative—completely infuriating—creature he now has to see every day. Despite the rumors, he’s never been one for a workplace hookup. But Chloe’s so tempting he’s willing to bend the rules—or outright smash them—if it means he can have her. All over the office.

As their appetites for one another increase to a breaking point, Bennett and Chloe must decide exactly what they’re willing to lose in order to win each other.

Originally only available online as The Office by tby789—and garnering over two million reads on fan fiction sites—Beautiful Bastard has been extensively updated for re-release

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