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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: Marriage to a Billionaire Series by Jennifer Probst

   

Series: Marriage to a Billionaire
Author: Jennifer Probst
# of Books: 4 (The Marriage Bargain, The Marriage Trap, The Marriage Mistake, The Marriage Merger)

You can also read the “spellbook” featured in the series: The Book of Spells

Complete?: No, The Marriage Merger will be released July 30, 2013 Yes
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Erotica
Heat Rating: Hot

Thoughts:

I had high anticipation for these books. I finally gave in and bought them for myself for Christmas and I am glad I did!

The first book, The Marriage Bargain is a great opening for a series. It has everything you want in a contemporary romance: heat, great characters, drama and love. I loved Alexa and Nicholas and their story. It was realistic, humorous and cute. I think the problem was that it was so great, it set my hopes up too high for the next two.

Maggie, Michael, Carina and Max are all characters that are flawed in some way and I think it makes them hard to like at times. They are all stubborn and not as easy-going and likeable as Alexa and Nicholas. This isn’t to say that the other two books are bad–they aren’t!–it’s just that I wasn’t as into them as the first one. I still devoured them in a day though.

The Marriage Trap was great despite the stubborn characters. It had a lot of drama which made it a page turner.

The Marriage Mistake is probably my least favourite, which is upsetting because I was really looking forward to it. It was a little too far fetched for me which irked me but I think readers of the series will enjoy it regardless.

The series was originally planned to be three books from what I can see, but I’m glad there will be a 4th one because the characters set to star in it have grabbed my attention.

UPDATED (Jan 29/14): I FINALLY got to read the Marriage Merger and I am very happy with how everything wrapped up! The book was entertaining, slightly more realistic than The Marriage Mistake and it was great to see all of the previous characters again. Solid end to a solid series.

Conclusion:

These are great contemporary reads. My only issue is that they are too short! UPDATED: Jennifer Probst has easily become one of my must read authors.

Rating: 4/5

Similar Reads: The Look of Love by Bella Andre (The Sullivans #1) and The Arrangement by H.M. Ward (The Ferro Family #1)

Synopsis for The Marriage Bargain (from Goodreads):
A marriage in name only…

To save her family home, impulsive bookstore owner, Alexa Maria McKenzie, casts a love spell. But she never planned on conjuring up her best friend’s older brother—the powerful man who once shattered her heart.

Billionaire Nicholas Ryan doesn’t believe in marriage, but in order to inherit his father’s corporation, he needs a wife and needs one fast. When he discovers his sister’s childhood friend is in dire financial straits, he offers Alexa a bold proposition.

A marriage in name only with certain rules: avoid entanglement. Keep things all business. Do not fall in love. The arrangement is only for a year so the rules shouldn’t be that hard to follow, right?

Except fate has a way of upsetting the best-laid plans…