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Single Sundays: Bad Romance by Jen McLaughlin

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 Bad Romance (from Goodreads):
Seven years in the army will change a guy. But after a shoulder wound ends his career as a sniper, Jackson Worthington finds himself back home, fighting a battle that’s all too familiar: keeping his hands off Lily Hastings. She’s still her rich daddy’s little angel, innocent, impossibly lovely, as squeaky-clean as Jackson is dirty. And she’s still his stepsister—forbidden but not forgotten, not after the soul-melting kiss that got him kicked out of the house at eighteen. He couldn’t resist her then. How the hell can he resist her now?

Lily is about to marry a man she doesn’t love, and commit to a high-stress job she hates, all to please the father who controls every waking moment of her life. On top of everything, her teenage crush is back, with a sleek, chiseled body and a trace of the rebellious boy whose lips sealed her fate. Jackson’s timing couldn’t be worse . . . or better. Because Lily’s all grown up, too. She’s aching for another taste. And for the first time, she’s ready to be a bad girl.

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Author: Jen McLaughlin
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: September 15, 2015
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I first saw Bad Romance on Netgalley but wasn’t able to request it for a review at the time. I really enjoyed McLaughlin’s Out of Line Series and her Sex on the Beach Series so it seemed like a no brainer. Plus, I wanted to dive further into the romance world of forbidden Step-Brother romances. Rival is one of my favourite NA novels and it has a similar concept, so I was looking forward to expanding my horizons.

The Plot:

Besides these two having an unrequited love for each other for years, the plot for this one of so illogical it actually hurt my brain.

Lilly’s main argument for keeping her shame of an engagement irked me to no end because it was a stupid point. I mean, I understood the basis of it because she is a nice human being; but why she felt this obligation to save the company was beyond me. There are 20 other ways that conflict of a failing company could have been resolved. It just made her look like an idiot in the grand scheme of things. Super frustrating!

The Characters:

Like I said, Lilly seemed to not be the brightest crayon in the box and that annoyed me to no end. And its a shame because she did seem to be a decent person who just couldn’t think things through all the way to the end.

Jackson wasn’t anything new either. Meh.

The Romance:

While these two had a strong physical chemistry, I wanted their emotional connected to be established more. If it’s a “forbidden” romance, you have to convince me why they need to defy all the odds to be together. And while I get it on a basic level, I wish we had more background on these two and why they always felt drawn to each other.

My Rating: 2/5

overall

I simply wanted more from this book and it just didn’t deliver. There are definitely better step-brother romances out there.

Read if You Like: step-brother romances
Avoid if You: want a stronger romance connection, want more logic

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Series Review: Sex on the Beach

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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Synopsis for Between Us (from Goodreads):
I’m just a girl…

I’m a famous country star who’s spent her life cultivating a good girl persona to avoid bad press, but I’ve reached my limit. I’m going away for spring break with my two best friends from college, and we’ve vowed to spend the vacation seeking out fun in the sun—along with some hot, no-strings-attached sex. The only thing I needed was the perfect guy, and then I met Austin Murphy. He might be totally wrong for me, but the tattooed bad boy is hard to resist. When I’m in his arms, everything just feels right.

And I’m just a guy…

I’m just a bartender who lives in Key West, stuck in an endless cycle of boredom. But then Mackenzie Forbes, America’s Sweetheart herself, comes up to me and looks at me with those bright green eyes…and everything changes. She acts like she’s just a normal girl and I’m just a normal guy, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. My past isn’t pretty, you know. I did what I had to do to survive, and she’d run if she learned the truth about my darkness. But with her, I’m finally realizing what it’s like to be alive. To laugh, live, and be happy.

All good things must come to an end…

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author (Jennifer Probst & Jen McLaughlin)
Series: Sex on the Beach
Author: Jen McLaughlin (Between Us); Jennifer Probst (Beyond Me); Jenna Bennett (Before You)
# of Books: 6 (Between Us, Beyond Me, Before You, Losing Us, Chasing Me, Finding You)

There is a spin-off short story called Holding On by Jenna Bennett

Book Order: Connected/Companion and Chronological

The first three books (Between Us, Beyond Me, Before You) take place simultaneously, following three different characters. The last 3 books (Losing Us, Chasing Me, Finding You) are sequels to each of those individual stories.

Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Drama
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Single (Before You); Alternating (Beyond Me; Between Us)
Publication Dates: March 2014 – March 2015
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When two of your favourite authors decide to collaborate and create a New Adult series, you can safely assume you are going to get a good read. That’s the case for me with the Sex on the Beach novella series by Jen McLaughlin, fave #1, (Between Us); Jennifer Probst, fave #2, (Beyond Me); Jenna Bennett (Before You).

The Concept / Book order:

The series is a little different from other series out there. Basically, the series is six novellas focusing on one of three best friends when she is on spring break with her other two best friends in Florida. Each author has one character and writes their two respective novellas.

What is really cool about this series is that all the stories overlap. So what is happening to Mackenzie in Between Us is occurring while Carrie and Quinn’s own stories are. Between Us, Beyond Me, and Before You take place during the first spring break while Losing Us, Chasing Me and Finding You are their respective sequels. All the authors do a great job of interweaving all the stories together, having them intersect at various points yet without giving away the other stories.

This means you can technically read these stories in any order or not read one and still get a great experience. But, my suggested reading order is:

Between Us, Beyond Me, Before You, Losing Us, Chasing Me, and Finding You

For me, that series has the best chronological flow, especially with the last 3 books.

The Plot:

Because these are novellas, everything happens at an accelerated paced. But at the same time, I was expecting that considering this series takes place over spring break (which is a week long). So things happen fast but considering the setting and the format, I took that in stride. Normally it would bother me but I really enjoyed it. It could have been really superficial but I felt like it was pretty grounded all considered. You’ll understand why when I get to the romance review.

Beyond Me and Between Us are your typical New Adult romance plot-line (not that that is a bad thing); Before You is more romantic suspense which was exciting albeit very predictable (Finding You had a much stronger plotline I feel like). But what really surprised me was that I felt like I was getting full stories from start to finished. They never felt underdeveloped like most novellas do so it made them very easy and addicting to read.

The Characters:

I liked all the characters we meet. I thought the girls all had their unique personalities which made it fun and enjoyable to read. My least favourite character was probably Cassie from Before You because I just didn’t like her personality or thought process (her story was painfully predictable). However, her sequel book (Finding You) was a lot more intriguing for me and I liked her character more in that book.

The Romance:

Things happened fast but in all cases, I felt like the relationships that were developed did have genuine emotional connections. Sure, they were rushed because of the time constraints but I was satisfied that I could see where things would be going if they had more time together. Which is why I appreciated the follow-up stories. It was nice to see how things developed and how things were worked out several months later.

Series Rating: 4/5

Between Us 4/5 | Beyond Me 4/5| Before You 3/5

Losing Us 4/5 | Chasing Me 3.5/5 | Finding You 4/5

overall

If you want great summer (or spring break reads) that are quick, fun and sexy, this is a great novella series!

Read if You Like: novellas, connected/interweaving stories, new adult
Avoid if You: don’t like insta-love, want a longer story

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Series Review: Out of Line by Jen McLaughlin

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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booksynopsis

Synopsis for Out of Line (from Goodreads):
Desperate to break free…

I’ve spent my entire life under my father’s thumb, but now I’m finally free to make my own choices. When my roommate dragged me to my first college party, I met Finn Coram and my life turned inside out. He knows how to break the rules and is everything I never knew I wanted. A Marine by day and surfer by night, he pushes me away even as our attraction brings us closer. Now I am finally free to do whatever I want. I know what I want. I choose Finn.

Trying to play by the rules…

I always follow orders. My job, my life, depends on it. I thought this job would be easy, all the rules were made crystal clear, but when I met Carrie Wallington, everything got muddy. She’s a rule I know I shouldn’t break, but damn if I don’t inch closer to the breaking point each time I see her. I’m ready to step out of line. And even worse? I’m living a lie. They say the truth will set you free, but in my case…

The truth will cost me everything

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SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Favourite New Adult Reads of 2014, Author to Watch For
Series: Out of Line
Author: Jen McLaughlin
# of Books: 5 (Out of Line, Out of Time, Out of Mind, Fractured Line, Blurred Lines)
Book Order: Chronological; Connected (Blurred Lines)
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Drama, Contemporary
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: September 2013 – January 2015
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

**This post was originally posted as a Toonie Tuesday review of the first two books of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I love a good forbidden romance! I think Kobo suggested I read this one but I can’t honestly recall how it crossed my radar. I just knew I had to read it because it sounded right up my alley!

The Plot:

This story probably seems predictable and formulated based on the description but I found that there were enough little surprises along the way that it didn’t bore me.

I also like that this series really becomes character driven along the way. You really get to watch these characters grow and go through some rough things; it brings a realism to this series that I really enjoy.

Of course, it does have its flares for dramatics but I find those additions just add some entertainment to the story and don’t distract too much from the story at hand.

The Characters:

I will admit, I was worried about Cassie being a prima donna going into the book based on the synopsis. One thing I hate about heroines who are cast as “overprotected” is that they rebel just for the sake of rebelling which in turn leads them to do stupid things which leads to me being annoyed.

I’m happy to say that I loved Cassie! I truly respected her character because I never felt like she was rebelling just for the sake of rebelling. This book is just as much about her relationship with Finn as it is with her finding herself and becoming independent.

That isn’t to say Finn isn’t important–because he is–he is one of the best aspects of this series! I simply adored him. There isn’t much to say other than he is the total book boyfriend package 😛

The Romance:

This is probably the main selling point for me. I just loved these two together!

When characters bring out the best in each other, you can’t help but love them. The sexual tension is fantastic! Exactly what I want in a “forbidden” romance.

 

updates

–January 12, 2014– Book #2: Out of Time

I did buy Out of Time right away and I’m both happy and mad at myself that I did it. I’m happy because I really loved it! Hate it because I have to wait for the next one!

I liked how this one focused on the establishment of a relationship and not stupid “break-up” drama. (You know how most books in a romance trilogy have the characters separated or apart for most of the story for some drama).

I didn’t think the story could get any cuter but it did! I also cried during this book–which is why I am mad at myself because now I have to wait until April to read what happens next!

–July 1, 2014– Book #3: Out of Mind

Although I bought Out of Mind as soon as it came out, I wasn’t able to actually sit down and read it until now. The book follows the same direction as the second book where it focuses more on the relationship and less on the other drama. That made for a pretty tame read but I truly enjoyed every minute of it. I also loved the realistic edge it had to it at times. It is a great conclusion to the series and fans will not be disappointed.

I can’t wait to see if spin-off books are in the works because I can’t wait to see what is in store for the other characters of these books.

–November 21, 2016– Book #4: Fractured Lines

I’ll admit, I was a little disappointment in the idea of this novel being a continuation of Finn and Carrie’s story. Everything wraps up so nicely in Out of Time so I was quite happy with how everything ended and wanted this “spin-off” to focus on a particular side character instead… (who gets his own book in Blurred Lines FYI).

But when I started to read this, I began to appreciate it more. I like how it challenged the previous books’ stories. It brought a touch of realism to this story that I really admired. It’s naive to think that everything these two go through can be solved so easily; that there won’t be any repercussions. And I feel like this was handled beautifully.

–November 23, 2016– Book #4: Blurred Lines

I was really looking forward to this book. I couldn’t wait to see how Riley would get his happy ending.

But I have have some mixed feelings on it.

I’m not a fan of love-at-first-sight romances; I don’t like how everything progresses because of some unexplained “feeling”/”connection”. As a reader, I like my relationships to be spelled out for me; show me why these two belong together.

However, I get why this trope was used in this particular novel. It actually really works well for Riley’s character as a whole. He’s a by the book type of guy and he’s drowning in those expectations. So I enjoyed the side of his character we get to see thanks to this storyline.

Nevertheless, things happen way too fast here. I’m sure the short page count contributes to it but I felt like the plot (not just the romance) was rushed. I wanted things to be teased out a little more and worked on. See how these characters deal with the challenges they’ve created.

So while it wasn’t what I particularly wanted, I can appreciate what the attempt was for this particular novel. I’m just glad to have that closure on Riley’s character as a whole.

Series Rating: 4/5

Out of Line 4/5 | Out of Mind 4/5 | Out of Time 4/5 | Fractured Lines 4/5 | Blurred Lines TBA

overall

If you want a series that will make you laugh, swoon, cry and freak out: this is it! It has such strong character development that you can’t help but root for these two. Add to it a touch of realism and a slight flare for dramatics and you’ve got yourself an entertaining series from start to finish!

Read if You Like: military heroes, forbidden romance
Avoid if You: don’t like romance trilogies following the same character leads

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