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Series Review: The Burke Brothers by Emma Hart

My 200th Series Review Post! Thanks for reading!

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

Dirty Secret by Emma Hart | The Burke Brothers Series

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Dirty Secret (from Goodreads):
Conner Burke never expected Sofie Callahan to come back.

Where she’s been for the last two and half years is a mystery, and so is the reason she left in the first place. Now, though, she’s back in their hometown of Shelton Bay, South Carolina, at the same time Conner’s band Dirty B. is home on a tour break.

Sofie Callahan has spent the months since her father’s death avoiding anything to do with her hometown. But with her brother in Afghanistan, she has no choice but to return and sort out her father’s house, even if it means facing the boy she fell in love with and revealing the reason she left.

Conner has questions, and when his broken heart and her guilty one collide, Sofie has to start answering them. Their present is rocky, their future unknown. Only one thing is certain: Sofie’s daughter will change everything.

breakdown

Series: The Burke Brothers
Author: Emma Hart
# of Books: 5 (Dirty Secret, Dirty Past, Dirty Lies, Dirty Tricks, Dirty Little Rendezvous)
Book Order: Connected but chronological events
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Second Chances, Drama, Family
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: December 2014 – May 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

**This post was originally posted as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

Like most readers do, when I enjoy a work by an author I tend to pick up the other stuff they write and Emma Hart is no exception. I really enjoyed her Game Series and have a few of her other series on my to-read shelf; however, this new series got to be read first thanks to the library.

Normally second chance contemporary romances aren’t super high on my reading list: especially ones involving a kid. I’m not sure why but I think it’s because they are predictable and a cliche to a certain extent. BUT, I really enjoyed reading Trapped by Beverley Kendall because it had a little bit of a twist to it which made things more interesting; as is the case with this story, Dirty Secret, and the spin of a famous musician ex-boyfriend as the father of the baby.

Did I know exactly why things went down as they did in the past before even reading this book? You bet your last dollar I sure did. But did that stop me from enjoying the cute story? Not really. I think I was in the mood for a lighter story after reading a particularly darker New Adult novel so Dirty Secret served as a nice refreshing read.

Really this book is everything I expect from Emma Hart’s work (solely based on my experience reading one of her series). You’ve got a stubbornly independent female lead and a charming hero and their cast of entertaining friends.

I didn’t really like Sofie and by that I mean her and I wouldn’t be friends in real life. There was nothing really wrong with her, we just have conflicting personalities. I liked Conner but he wasn’t anything really special either. The romance steam (ie sex) is there but it takes a backseat to the emotional connection of the leads, only popping up here and there. And I would say there really isn’t much of a plot other than Conner and Sofie getting angry at each other but simultaneously wanting to rip the clothes off of the other; but, as I said before, it was a cute, sweet story so I didn’t mind that much.

Again, like in the Game series, my only peeve was the dialogue, specifically the Southern Accent. Now, I will admit, I don’t know what everyday conversation is like in the South but it just seemed like the characters’ accents were latent and would therefore only pop up occasionally. It just seemed inconsistent to me–but I am a Canadian so I’m running slightly on the stereotype of what a Southern accent “should” be. I also felt a bit of a disconnect between some of the narration and what was happening: like the whole baby gate and the naughty step. Maybe that is because I’m not a mom but that just threw me for a loop and I still don’t understand. But it isn’t enough that I would tell you to not read this book because if you ignore that little detail (and it really is a little detail), the book was a smooth read.

I’m looking forward to Dirty Past for two reasons: I really liked Tate’s “bad boy” character AND we actually get to see the two leads fall in love. Dirty Secret was cute and while we do get to watch them fall back in love I just felt like a lot of their relationship was assumed from the past and not really elaborated on. I enjoy watching my leads fall in love as a read and with Dirty Secret it’s like they are already there and are just working out a lover’s quarrel you would see in the second book of their love trilogy–only you didn’t read the first book to see them come together in the first place.

I’m also not sure how many books will be in this series. I am assuming there will be 4 because there are 4 brothers but there also is their sister who I would like to read about as well (but her story could always be a subplot to her brothers’). I guess we will have to wait and see…

updates

–July 19, 2015– Book 2: Dirty Past

I really liked Tate in Dirty Secret so I was excited to meet his match in Dirty Past. Overall, I liked them together but I just had a hard time reconciling their relationship at times, especially at the start. Tate can be quite egotistic and for someone just ending an abusive relationship, I’m not sure if they were the best match initially. Perhaps I was just reading too much into it, but I didn’t love the way he talked to her. I thought it was rude (which I expect from his character) and not the best environment for the heroine’s situation.

BUT, I did get past that and really enjoyed the story overall. It was a solid sequel overall and made me super pumped for Dirty Lies!

–December 28, 2015– Book 3: Dirty Lies

Sigh…I really wanted to like this one. It has everything I normally love: fake romance, asshole hero and a rockstar to boot. But it just fell apart for me despite its promising start.

I have a huge soft spot for asshole heroes and Aiden seemed like I would love him. But something just rubbed me the wrong way with him. I don’t mind confident assholes–which Aiden is–but he is also a little rude and I didn’t particularly like how he would talk about Jessie with his brothers.

On the other hand, I really liked Jessie. She was funny and I liked her independent attitude. And while I could see how these two would work out in theory, I just didn’t like the way their relationship developed. It’s a shame.

I’m holding out hope for Dirty Tricks though. Kye is the last brother and I think he is the nicest. And his heroine seems like she will be an interesting match for him!

–February 14, 2016– Book 4: Dirty Tricks

This book started strong, lost me a bit in the middle and ended on a good note. Kye is probably my favourite brother because he seems the most genuine to me and I liked how he wasn’t a complete asshole like the rest of his brothers (especially his twin).

Chelsea, hmm, I’m a little mixed on her. I totally got where she was coming from and I felt like I understood her character the most out of anyone in this series because her past is so well explained. But I didn’t like her immaturity even it I knew why she would act the way she did. Again, the dialogue was what really showed this and made me have that disconnect.

So while it was probably my favourite story premise of the series, I was a little bored with it at times. It was a solid way to end the series and I’m going to pick up the spin-off; but otherwise, this series was a bit of a bust 🙁

–July 2, 2017– Book 5: Dirty Little Rendezvous

**I DNF’d this book at 23% (start of Chapter 6)**

I really was not feeling this book and I really wanted to like it because Leila was (finally) the heroine and she’s been in the background throughout the series, peaking my interest. But damn, this was bad.

I can tolerate a little bit of crude talk in my novels but this was just brutal. I swear, every other page was about Leila’s vagina and her need to see some action. I’m all for a girl exploring her sexuality but I don’t like reading that in my novels, regardless of the POV’s gender. It get monotonous.

And don’t get me started on the ridiculous double standards of her brothers. I get it, she’s their little sister but after reading all their stories, they don’t really have any moral ground to stand on in my opinion.

Oh, and the romance? It seemed very shallow and rushed to me. Maybe if we got to see their past interaction, I would be on board with it but I just wasn’t liking these two.

Series Rating: 3.5/5

Dirty Secret 4/5 | Dirty Past 3/5  |  Dirty Lies 3/5  |  Dirty Tricks 3.5/5

overall

I enjoyed the cute romance between the two leads but it wasn’t really anything memorable. If you want a sweet read about teen sweethearts reuniting after one becomes a celebrity years later, this is the book for you! Or if you enjoyed Emma Hart’s other works, this is right up your alley! However, I feel like the newest books in the series are essentially the same recycled romances, causing the series to lose some lustre.

Read if You Like: over the top drama, rockstar stories, stories about families
Avoid if You: want a more mature romance, want stronger romantic relationships

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Series Review: Gentry Boys by Cora Brent

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

book4 book book book

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Draw (from Goodreads):
“All my life I’d always known what the Gentry boys were. A set of fraternal triplets born to a depraved family, they were rough, sexy and wild as wolves.”

SAYLOR…
I don’t even know if love is real. After running from the bastard who brutalized me, I limped back to Arizona, choosing a vibrant college town in the hopes of starting over. I never expected to find him there. Cord Gentry. He and his brothers were tough, lusty forces of nature I’d known since childhood. Years ago, Cord seduced me as a sick game. I’ve hated him ever since. Now here he is again, a man who beats other men bloody for money.
Cord has always been heartless, dangerous, not to be trusted.
And I want him so much I can’t think.

CORD…
They called us ‘those white trash Gentry boys’ until we believed that’s what we were. Our people squatted at the edge of a hellhole prison town for generations. The childhood we endured was the stuff of nightmares. I’d learned early on that my brothers, Chase and Creed, were the only people on earth worth my time.
They all told us we were bad, that we’d always be bad.
The horrors of the past have scarred my soul.
But now I need to be better. For her.

breakdown

Series: Gentry Boys Series

Fall (#4) is a crossover between the Gentry Boys Series and the Defiant MC Series.

There is a spin-off series: Gentry Generations

Author: Cora Brent
# of Books: 7 (Full Reading Order)

There is a novella: #5.5 Cross

Book Order: Connected but chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Drama, Bad Boys
Heat Rating: Toasty (it’s more crude than other series in terms of language)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: July 2014 – August 2016
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I never picked up Fall (#4). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

For some reason I was really looking forward to Draw. I think it was because the two leads had a not so nice past involving some sort of “sick game” and I love stories like that. There is just so much sexual tension and drama with those types of books so I was really looking forward to it. Plus, the whole series focuses on a set of bad boy triplets so that’s a bonus point in and of itself.

My Review:

However, Draw wasn’t what I was really expecting. I was expecting Saylor and Cord to have to work on their relationship given their past and her current situation but instead it was a love at first sight situation and ya’ll know how I feel about those (FYI: I hate them!). So while I loved them together I did not love the fact that things happened so fast between them. It just made me feel like the romance part of the book was lacking and because the last half of the book focuses more on a dramatic event the is important for the next two books it emphasized that thought even more. It’s a shame really and I think if the execution was a little different it would have made the book more enjoyable.

So I was happen when I was reading Risk because the execution was much better. I loved watching the leads work on their relationship and the balance between the romance and nonromantic elements of the was great. I also liked how it gave little tidbits about the leads in the next book Game which made me really excited to read it.

But when it came to reading Game it was a bit of a disappointment. Again, I felt like the romance part was shortened more than I wanted it to be. So while I liked it, I didn’t love it like I was expecting.

There will be a fourth book about the triplet’s cousin Delcan which will be published in early 2015. I’m looking forward to it based on the little we know about him and will more than likely pick it up.

Why I Won’t Be Picking Up the Rest (February 5, 2017):

I’ve just lost interest in the series. I liked it but not enough to invest in the next 4 books. I’m just so out of touch with this series now.

Series Rating: DNF

Draw 3/5 | Risk 4/5 | Game 3/5 | Fall  N/A | Hold  N/A | Walk  N/A | Edge  N/A

overall

Not the greatest series ever but I enjoyed watching these bad boys fall in love. If you like watching manly brothers falling in love and changing their ways, this is a cute series to pick up.

Read if You Like: reforming bad boys, quick love, overarching plots
Avoid if You: want stronger romances, dislike alpha males
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Series Review: Rebel by Elle Casey

Series: Rebel Trilogy
Author: Elle Casey
# of Books: 3 (Rebel, Hellion, Trouble)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Humour?, Contemporary
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person

Thoughts:

PLEASE NOTE: I have not read book 2 (Hellion) or book 3 (Trouble) of this series before publishing this review!

Rebel was a book I bought using my mass amount of coupons from a recent Kobo contest and I was really excited to buy and read it. I’m not sure why looking back because the synopsis is pretty vague and doesn’t sound overly promising. I think it was the “humour” tag that was associated with the book and the high rating it has on Goodreads that  contributed to me wanting to read this book first from the pile I bought.

I fear that I may have lost my funny bone in the last few months because these “funny” books have been doing nothing for me. I find it weird because I am the first person to laugh at something and I really do laugh at everything–from the immature jokes to the witty ones. That isn’t to say that I didn’t chuckle to myself during parts of the book–because I did–but those moments were few and far between.

Part of the problem was Teagan. I really wanted to like her but I just couldn’t do it. I didn’t like how immature she seemed to be (I’m the same age as her in the book and I felt like I was reading the mind of a teenager) and some of the things she says are just weird. I get quirky–I get the appeal, honestly–but there is a fine line between being adorkably quirky and just being plain weird and I fear Teagan is on the train to oddball station. She also isn’t the brightest person in the world and I really didn’t see too many other redeemable qualities about her either so I really had a hard time liking her.

Not liking Teagan put me at a big disadvantage too because the first half of the book is her trying to orient her new life and features very little romance or even flirting between her and Rebel. I didn’t feel any of the sexual tension between the two of them for the longest time and when there finally is some contact, I still didn’t really feel it and that really was disappointing to me. I wish part of the book was told from Rebel’s perspective because I would have gotten a better read on his character and simply had a break from being in Teagan’s mind. I also would want to see his perspective about why he even likes Teagan because it is truly beyond me.

As you can see by the warning at the top of this section, I haven’t read the next two books in the series. At the moment, I am undecided. As I was reading, I was looking forward to the next book because I liked the hero. However, once I finished Rebel, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to tolerate the heroine because she is Teagan’s BFF and shares a lot of the same traits. I am curious to learn more about the plot that was left hanging in Rebel regarding Teagan’s dad’s business but I really didn’t like the book enough for me to even care. Trouble looks a little more promising (or at least interesting to me) so I might suck it up and read Hellion one day but at this moment in time, I won’t be going out of my way to read it.

Conclusion:

If you want a book filled with great sexual chemistry–AVOID REBEL. I found Rebel to be more about Teagan learning to find her place in the world and she just happens to stumble along some man who likes her for some bizarre reason. I didn’t find it funny–but based on other reviews it seems like I am in a minority. My recommendation is to get the preview and see if you can tolerate Teagan’s mind before you buy this book.

Rating: 2/5

Similar Reads: Price of a Kiss by Linda Kage (Forbidden Men Series #1);  Better When He’s Bad by Jay Crownover (Welcome to the Point Trilogy #1) and Stardust by Mimi Strong(Peaches Monroe Trilogy #1)

Synopsis for Rebel (from Goodreads):
Teagan Cross, college senior, rebel, and wiseass extraordinaire, goes from princess to pauper in a single phone call. Overnight, her life of privilege becomes one of survival, and no matter where she turns, it seems like the world is out to get her. She’s not going to fall apart, though. She’s a rebel and she’s strong … determined to live life on her own terms … and nothing’s going to stop her from getting things done and making things right. But when a twist of fate brings her to the doorstep of a different kind of Rebel, she’s forced to figure out when something’s worth fighting for and when something’s worth letting go.

Series Review: Elemental by Brigid Kemmerer

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SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Favourite Young Adult Series, Sad to See Go Series 2014
Series: Elemental Series
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
# of Books: 5 (Storm, Spark, Spirit, Secret, Sacrifice)

There are novellas: #0.5 Elemental, #1.5 Fearless, #2.5 Breathless

Book Order: Connected but Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Supernatural, Romance, Action
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating

Thoughts:

I found these series online at my local library and was intrigued enough to pick up the first book. I loved the TV show Avatar: The Last Airbender (and Legend of Korra is AMAZING) so I’m always excited to read series that focus on the elements.

This is one of those series were reading the novellas is key to understanding what is going on in the book–but you don’t have to necessarily read them before you read the next full length book. For example, while the very first novella, Elemental (#0.5), does setup the story and provide some background context, but I think I would have gotten more out of it and saved myself from some minor spoilers if I had read it after Storm. Fearless (#1.5) should definitely be read after Storm (#1) BUT I would actually read Breathless (#2.5) after Spirit (#3) (though you can totally read it before, it does take place right after Spark (#2) chronologically time-wise) just because Breathless (#2.5) is part of Nick’s story and his book is Secret (#4).

So in short, my recommended reading order for the series is: Storm, Elemental, Fearless, Spark, Spirit, Breathless, Secret, Sacrifice.

Overall, this series truly rocks my socks! It’s great and so refreshing. Ms Kemmerer is not afraid to go places in her novels. The twist we get in Breathless truly left me gasping for air and what she does in Spirit left me in disbelief. She also tackles every issue from abuse to sexual assault to bullying to first loves to the tough choices in life. For a book that is based on supernatural elements, it is so realistic at times and I think a lot of readers will appreciate that.

The characters are great as well. I love all the Merrick brothers–especially Gabriel and Nick. While I’m not the biggest Hunter fan, he really grew on me in Spirit (#3). All the girl characters have been fantastic as well but I’m glad that the focus is mostly on male characters for once.

So far, Spark (#2) is my favourite book but I’ve enjoyed all of them and I’m expecting my new favourite to be Secret (#4) once I get a chance to read it.

UPDATED (June 19/14): And I was right, Secret has definitely become one of my favourites in the series. It’s hard to say what one was my favourite between Spark and Secret because they deal with completely different things but Secret was fantastic. It was really refreshing to read Secret because I don’t think a lot of books discuss what happens in this one with such grace and realism. Most of the book deals with the personal issues of the characters but we get a great plot spin at the end that has me counting down the days to Sacrifice. This series has definitely become a favourite of mine!

UPDATED (November 10/14): Sacrifice wasn’t as great as I thought it was going to be. My need to read Michael’s story has grown throughout all the books and novellas so I was really excited to read his story and see what was next for the Merrick brothers after that major cliffhanger in Secret. I thought there would be some more physical action than there was but, I found the plot kept moving at a really good pace that I finished it before I knew it. However, nothing really wowed me like in the previous books. I also wish there was an epilogue–I really felt like so many things about everyone’s personal lives were left unanswered and after growing to love these characters so much, I was really dissapointed in that. But, all in all I like how things wrapped up and I really didn’t know how everything was going to wrap up so bonus points for always keeping me guessing.

Conclusion:

A unique and refreshing read for young adult readers (even for 20-somethings!). Girls AND boys will appreciate this series for its realistic take on high school life while adding elements of the supernatural. One of my favourite young adult series in a long time!

FYI: I tried to hard not to use the word “elements” in this review in case people thought I was trying to be PUNny but it’s so hard to do!

Rating: 4/5

Similar Reads: Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout (Lux Series #1)

Synopsis for Storm (from Goodreads):
Earth, Fire, Air, Water – they have more power than you dream.

Ever since her ex-boyfriend spread those lies about her, Becca Chandler is suddenly getting all the guys—all the ones she doesn’t want. Then she saves Chris Merrick from a beating in the school parking lot. Chris is different. Way different: he can control water—just like his brothers can control fire, wind, and earth. They’re powerful. Dangerous. Marked for death.

And now that she knows the truth, so is Becca.

Secrets are hard to keep when your life’s at stake. When Hunter, the mysterious new kid around school, turns up with a talent for being in the wrong place at the right time, Becca thinks she can trust him. But then Hunter goes head-to-head with Chris, and Becca wonders who’s hiding the most dangerous truth of all.

The storm is coming . . .