Tag «Conclusion: worth a read»

Worth a Read: It may not be the greatest book ever but it certainly isn’t the worse! These are books/series I recommend to my readers!

Other Conclusions:
Downhill | End of the Road | Missed the Mark | New Favourite | Not for Everyone | Only Gets Better | Slow Start | Staying Tuned | Time will Tell

Series Review: Outer Banks Tennis Academy by Jennifer Iacopelli

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 Game. Set. Match. (from Goodreads):

Nestled along the North Carolina coast, the Outer Banks Tennis Academy is the world’s most elite training facility. In this pressure-cooker environment, futures are forged in blood and sweat, and dreams are shattered in an instant.

Penny Harrison, a rising female star, is determined to win the French Open and beat her archrival, Zina Lutrova. But when her coach imports British bad boy Alex Russell as her new training partner, will Penny be able to keep her laser-like focus?

Tennis is all Jasmine Randazzo has ever known. The daughter of two Grand Slam champions, she’s hell-bent on extending her family’s legacy and writing her own happily-ever-after…until her chosen Prince Charming gives her the just-friends speech, right before the biggest junior tournament of the year, the Outer Banks Classic.

With a powerful serve and killer forehand, newcomer Indiana Gaffney is turning heads. She’s thrilled by all of the attention, especially from Jack Harrison, Penny’s agent and hot older brother, except he keeps backing off every time things start heating up.

With so much at stake, dreams—and hearts—are bound to break.

breakdown

Series: Outer Banks Tennis Academy
Author: Jennifer Iacopelli
# of Books: 3 (Full Series Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Sports, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: warm *spicy YA*
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: May 2013 – ongoing
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I was a tween, there was this Canadian TV drama called 15/Love that was set at a tennis academy and followed teenage tennis up-and-comers. It wasn’t the greatest show ever (in terms of acting) but I did get addicted to the drama of relationships and athletics.

I’m not entirely sure how this one crossed my radar but I liked the athletic approach. I also liked that it would be told by multiple leads because I find I enjoy contemporaries more when told that way.

The Concept / The World:

I’ll be the first to say that I’m not overly familiar with the tennis world. While I understand the game of tennis, I’m pretty clueless about how one becomes a professional tennis star. I was a little worried that I would get lost in that aspect of the story but that was never the case. Everything is kept to the basics or explained in a way that the reader will immediately understand so don’t let that deter you.

The Plot:

The synopsis gives the impression that this series is all about the romances but there is a strong focus on character development as well once you start reading. I thought there was a great balance in this respect and was pleasantly surprised that the character growth is so prevalent. More on that below.

Add to that some drama and some high stake situations and I was completely addicted to the story. It moves at a great pace and you can’t help but want to keep reading!

The Characters:

Usually I am a fan of multiple POVs because it pretty much guarantees that I will enjoy at least one character’s POV. (This does fail sometimes: City Love is a great example). HOWEVER, that wasn’t the case here at all!

That doesn’t mean I immediately loved all the leads though. This is where character development and growth truly enhanced the reading experience. As you learned more about the girls and their pasts, you are able to understand why they act the way they do. I don’t mind angsty characters so long as it is “justified” (meaning explained) to me while I read. Even better is that you get to see them change as a result and I really enjoyed that aspect. This is very much a character driven series.

The Romance:

Definitely a highlight for me! I really liked all the pairings for the girls and the resulting drama and character growth that comes from these relationships!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I really hope the third book gets published. While things are wrapped up at the end of Losing Love, it didn’t feel complete to me at all. So I’m eager to get the closing chapters on these girls’ stories.

Series Rating: 4/5

Game. Set. Match. 4/5 | Losing at Love 4/5 | Book 3 TBA

overall

This is a great contemporary sports read for those who want a somewhat lighter tone to their read but still has solid character growth and swoon worthy romance.

Read if You Like: sport stories, tennis, contemporary
Avoid if You: dislike multiple POVs
similarreads

  • For Everly by Raine Thomas
  • Catching Jordan by Miranda Kinneally (Hundred Oaks Series #1)

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Series Review: Amato Brothers by Winter Renshaw

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Heartless (from Goodreads):

My obsession was born of innocence and good intentions, and it began the day I spotted a handwritten journal lying in the bushes outside a townhouse on Lexington Avenue. It was raining sideways that morning, and my intention was to return it the next day; safe and dry.

Only I kept it.

I kept it, and I read it.

A week later, overwhelmed with curiosity and feeling guilty for harboring secrets that didn’t belong to me, I tried to return it.

Only I wasn’t expecting to meet him.

Unapologetically heartless and enigmatically sexy, he claims he knows nothing about the journal I found outside his place, but the reticent glint in his blue-green gaze tells me otherwise.

There’s something different about him; something damaged yet magical, and I’m drawn to him; pulled into his orbit.

There’s just one problem.

The more I get to know him, the more I’m positive the journal belonged to him . . .

. . . and the more I find myself hoping, selfishly, that I’m wrong.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: Amato Brothers

This does crossover with the Rixton Falls Series in Book #3, Priceless

Author: Winter Renshaw
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: August – November 2016
Source: Public Library (Hoopla)–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a huge Winter Renshaw fan. I try to read whatever I can by her and she’s always a good author to default to when I’m looking for a solid romance novel. Which is how I picked up this series. I always had plans to read #3, Priceless because it crosses over with the Rixton Falls Series but I wanted to start at the beginning of this series to make the crossover that much more epic.

The Plot:

I love contemporary romances that have a little more to them, like a mystery or hidden secrets. So I really enjoyed Heartless because it has both. Who does the journal belong to? What happened in Ace’s past? Are the two things connected? It just adds this air of anticipation to the story that makes you keep reading. And while I guessed the one answer correctly (though not overly early in the book), there were still truths I wasn’t able to entirely weed out so I liked that a lot!

Even though Reckless and Priceless didn’t have an obvious mystery element like Heartless, they still had more than enough twists and turns along the way to keep you hooked into the drama. Each book has its own vibe but I found each one to be addicting when it came to the plot and trying to figure out how everything would resolve.

The Characters:

Renshaw just has this amazing ability to create characters you can’t help but like. They all have so many layers to them but I never feel like I’m reading about the same character from book to book. Everyone is unique which is hard for some authors to do.

The Romance:

I’m all about a good slow burn romance and Heartless nails it. These two have a great chemistry (whether they know it at first or not) and I loved watching that grow.

For me, Reckless had the weakest romance in the sense that I wanted them to talk a little more than they did. But on the other hand, I enjoyed watching them navigate the various situations that seemed to be thrown their way.

Priceless was the complete opposite from Reckless in that regard. I loved watching these two talk and get to know each other but that was part of their main plot so it makes sense.

My Audiobook Experience:

I honestly don’t think I could have gone wrong with the audio or print versions. I really enjoyed the audio productions. I sometimes find that romances simply get read back to you and they lack that depth to the emotion but that wasn’t the case here at all. We get a different narrator set for each novel which is always a bonus but everyone did a great job bringing these characters to life.

Series Rating: 4/5

Heartless 4/5 | Reckless 4/5 | Priceless 5/5

overall

If you enjoy contemporary romances that have great plot twists, this is a great series for you to pick up!

Read if You Like: Colleen Hoover books, romances, complex characters
Avoid if You: dislike contemporary romances

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Spin-off Saturdays: The Fix Up by Kendall Ryan

Spin-off Saturdays: On the occasional Saturday, I will review a series/standalone that is a spin-off series. It is often recommended that you read the original series first in order to get the most out of the spin-off series. Here is this week’s offering:

The Fix Up is a spin-off of the Hitched Series

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Series: N/A

This is a spinoff of the Hitched Series. Can be read as a Standalone.

Author: Kendall Ryan
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: October 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook (I also own an eBook)

thoughts

My Expectations?

I really liked Sterling’s character in Hitched. He was charming and funny; a nice compliment to Noah’s character. So I really hoped he would get a book of his own in the future. We get a little inkling of what’s to come with Sterling and Camryn at the end of Hitched so I was curious to know what their story would be.

How Does It Compare To The Original?

I found Hitched had a quirkiness to it that was slightly off-putting at times. It’s also melodramatic at times with its soap-opera-esque plotline (and that’s to be expected seeing as it was published as a 3 part serialized series).

But I found The Fix Up to be slightly more grounded in its approach. The focus is more on the characters fighting their feelings for each other than external obstacles in their way (though there are those as well). It has this slow burn vibe to it that I found Hitched was lacking given the premise and subsequent execution.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

It has your classic “communication-assumption” moment that irked me because it was so obvious what was happening but other than that, I really enjoyed this.

My Audiobook Experience:

I really enjoyed the audio version. The male narrator for Sterling had a British accent like Sterling is supposed to have which is always great. His voice was perhaps deeper or more serious in tone than I anticipated but I warmed up to it as I listened.

 

Rating: 4/5

overall

A cute and quick read about fighting the undeniable connection between a matchmaker and their client.

Read if You Like: quick reads, contemporary romance, slow burn
Avoid if You: want erotica
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booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Fix Up (from Goodreads):

My tempting, and very alpha friend Sterling Quinn is someone I consider off-limits.

It’s not just that we’re friends, he’s also a cocky, confident, and British, which means he’s a walking aphrodisiac.

But lately he’s been giving me the look. You know the one. When he thinks I’m not paying attention, and his gaze lingers for too long.

And then we start working together, and that’s when the sexual tension between us gets so thick, I want to hack through it with a machete. I want to make all these deep feelings I’ve harbored for him disappear, because there’s no way this can end well.

The lines between business and pleasure become irrevocably blurred, and I’m stuck between a rock, and Sterling’s very, very hard place.

Rather than keep a level head about our growing attraction, Sterling wants to go all in, showing me just how explosive we can be together.

But I’ve been around long enough to know that this British bad boy is more than my heart can handle. I’m not about to be cast aside like yesterday’s underwear when he’s done having fun.

Sterling’s never been told no, and he’s not about to put his ego aside and play by my rules. But I never thought he’d fight so dirty.

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Series Review: Unforgivable by Ella Miles

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Heart of a Thief (from Goodreads):

I’m the villain in most romances.
I’m a thief that steals happily ever afters.
Except unlike most romances love doesn’t conquer me, I conquer it.
I’ve stolen countless women from unsuspecting men.
Gotten my one night with them.
And then watched the heartbreak that occurs in my wake.
Love doesn’t survive once I enter the picture, if it ever existed at all.
Although, stealing Sloane might be my greatest challenge of all.

Asher is a villain trying to a put a horrible life behind him by doing the only two things he knows to do: surf and steal. Sloane is an angel that runs a charity helping children needing a fresh start. Asher will do anything to have her. There is just one problem…she’s about to marry another man.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: Unforgivable
Author: Ella Miles
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Suspense
Heat Rating: Hot (BDSM: mild in Prick)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: June 2017 – March 2018
Source & Format: Own–eBook (Thief); Author–eARC (Liar & Prick)

Only copies of Heart of a Liar & Heart of a Prick were provided.

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Ella Miles is my go-to for dark romances but I really do enjoy her contemporary works as well. So I was curious to see what she would do with a series that seemed to have its darker moments but was more light than complete darkness. I guess you’d call it gray….

The Concept:

I’ll admit I was hesitant about the premise of Heart of a Thief. I’m not one for cheating in my books but I can overlook it when it is used more so as a plot device than just straight up drama. However, I didn’t find it was just used for a shock factor and there is more to this book than unfaithfulness once you see the larger plot unfold.

The nice thing about these novels is that you can read them in any order or simply read the one that strikes your fancy. So if you want to avoid Heart of a Thief because any inkling of cheating is a hard no, then skip it and carry on. And I would suggest skipping Heart of a Prick if you don’t enjoy books with some BDSM elements to them.

The Plot:

Each of these books when in a direction I never expected–but that’s usually the case with Ella Miles’ stuff. I never know what story I’m actually going to get; only that it’ll be something deeper than what the synopsis tells me. If you like drama, you’ll like these novels.

These stories strike that balance between flirty and dirty very well so I was always thoroughly entertained. They definitely have their darker moments but they are pretty tame compared to some of the other stuff out there.

The only plot that didn’t really work for me was Heart of a Prick. I just thought there were too many plot holes to keep me on board with where the story went.

The Characters:

Given the circumstances of Heart of a Thief, I’ll be the first to say it took me a long time to like Asher as a character. But with the first half of the novel told solely from his POV, I found I had enough time and development from him to appreciate his character by the end of the novel.

The rest of the characters in the other books are much more likeable from the start. However, I will say that their development gets a little stifled when the drama becomes centre stage; so I did feel like they were slightly underdeveloped by the end.

The Romance:

All these couples definitely have palpable chemistry and you can see why they are drawn to each other. I would have liked to have seen more conversations and the like between the characters to establish that emotional connection–especially in Heart of a Prick which felt very underdeveloped. But, there is plenty of steamy scenes if you are a fan of those!

Series Rating: 3.5/5

Heart of a Thief 4/5| Heart of a Liar 4/5 | Heart of a Prick 2/5

overall

If you are looking for some unique contemporary romances that have an edge of suspense and darkness to them (but not overwhelmingly so), you should check out some of the novels in this series!

Read if You Like: twists, drama, don’t mind cheating as a plot device
Avoid if You: dislike dramatic twists

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Single Sundays: Exmas by Winter Renshaw

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 Exmas (from Goodreads):

This Christmas, I’ll be getting a visit from a man in a suit, only it won’t be Santa.

Let me first say: Reed York was never my boyfriend. He was the pen. I was the company ink. Though if you want to get technical, we were more like colleagues-who-hated-each-other … with benefits.

Everything was fine until the charming jerk went behind my back, stole my promotion, and became my boss—literally overnight.

Refusing to work beneath him (professionally speaking and otherwise), I transferred 2,014 miles away to our Chicago division, and I’ve spent the past year trying to remember how much I hated his panty-melting smirk so I can forget how much I secretly loved the way his ocean eyes lit every time I walked into the room.

But he’s just announced a last-minute site visit the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, and on top of that, he’s audaciously designated me as his ‘right hand gal’ during his visit. If he thinks he has a snowball’s chance in this hell at getting back in my good graces, he’s got another thing coming.

Reed York might be a man used to getting everything he’s ever wanted, but Joa Jolivet is a woman that never forgets.

He can put me on his Christmas list all he wants, but everyone knows naughty boys only get coal.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Author: Winter Renshaw
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Second Chance
Heat Rating: Warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: November 6, 2018
Source & Format: Hidden Gem Reviews–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I love Winter Renshaw’s work and she’s a must read author for me. I’m not usually one for “holiday” reads but I liked the premise of this second chance romance. I always enjoy books with a bit of a “mystery” to the break-up and I couldn’t wait to figure out why Reed stole Joa’s dream job.

The Concept:

Sometimes, flashbacks to the past can be distracting but here I think it truly cemented their relationship and shaped them as characters. Otherwise, I would have wanted more from the present day plot because they don’t interact that much romantically. The flashbacks sold me on the second chance romance aspect; through them I was able to see how these two worked as a couple and why they are still hung up on each other a year later.

It’s a little light on the Christmas aspect but that’s ok. You could read it any time of the year but if you are reading it around the holidays, it’ll bring out the best in the season through Joa’s family.

The Plot:

My reason for the lower rating is that I wanted a little more from the drama. While I liked the mystery behind why Reed got the job, it was kinda predictable so that blew some of the wind out of the anticipation. Getting his POV gives his motives away even if I understand the reason behind his actions. I think that’s why I enjoyed the flashback scenes so much; in a way, it gave me something to look forward to.

In a way, you kinda get two stories in one thanks to the flashbacks. Each “present day” chapter is followed by a snapshot of the past and I liked the anticipation that built up to the story because you are getting the pieces one at a time to the full picture.

The Characters:

I really liked these two as individuals. Reed was my favourite; I thought he had the best development. He was sweet and Joa slowly melts his heart and opens up his views on what he wants in life and love. Joa was great too–I just got frustrated with her anger towards Reed because it was a bit of a communication assumption for why he took the job and her stubbornness (avoiding talking to him) caused their issues. I also think her character growth wasn’t as strong.

The Romance:

I loved these two and their hate-to-love-you romance. They had such great chemistry together so it was a treat to watch their story unfold. Again, the flashbacks really sold me on the romance.

My Rating: 4.5/5

overall

It’s an addicting, quick read that fans of second chance romances will enjoy.

Read if You Like: second chances, workplace romances, flashbacks
Avoid if You: want a more suspenseful read

similarreads

  • Sweet Spot by Stella Rhys (Irresistible Series #1)
  • Charlotte Chronicles by Jen Frederick (Jackson Boys Series #1)

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Series Review: Him by Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Him (from Goodreads):

They don’t play for the same team. Or do they?

Jamie Canning has never been able to figure out how he lost his closest friend. Four years ago, his tattooed, wise-cracking, rule-breaking roommate cut him off without an explanation. So what if things got a little weird on the last night of hockey camp the summer they were eighteen? It was just a little drunken foolishness. Nobody died.

Ryan Wesley’s biggest regret is coaxing his very straight friend into a bet that pushed the boundaries of their relationship. Now, with their college teams set to face off at the national championship, he’ll finally get a chance to apologize. But all it takes is one look at his longtime crush, and the ache is stronger than ever.

Jamie has waited a long time for answers, but walks away with only more questions—can one night of sex ruin a friendship? If not, how about six more weeks of it? When Wesley turns up to coach alongside Jamie for one more hot summer at camp, Jamie has a few things to discover about his old friend… and a big one to learn about himself.

Warning: contains sexual situations, skinnydipping, shenanigans in an SUV and proof that coming out to your family on social media is a dicey proposition.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fav Author(s)
Series: Him
Author: Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy
# of Books: 2 (Him, Us)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, MM Romance, Sports, Hockey
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: July 2015 – March 2016
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When two of your favourite authors co-write a series together, you know the expectations are high. I love Bowen and Kennedy’s work respectively so the fact that they wrote a MM romance together had me eager to read it. I’ve really become a fan of MM romance over the last 2 years thanks to some great authors telling some even better stories. So I was STOKED when I managed to snag these two books on sale for my Kobo.

The Plot:

I really enjoyed the balance these novels had between the character development, romance and the drama. They just had a great flow to them that kept me hooked on their every word.

And the tension! GAH! In Him (#1), we don’t know exactly what happened between Jamie and Wes (Ryan) right away. Instead, we get little snippets of their last summer at camp together until we finally get the big reveal. I just loved the anticipation that brought to the story.

The Characters:

I really loved both our leads. Jamie is such a sweetheart and I enjoyed watching him grow into the man he becomes. I found his approach to his sexual identity was refreshing and realistic as well. And Wes is also a great guy. I loved his attitude and approach to everything. He has this maturity to him that I also found refreshing.

The Romance:

There is no denying the great chemistry these two have. Boy oh boy, their scenes together are steamy! But for me, I wanted a little more emotional connection in Him. I got the attraction between these two physically but I wasn’t entirely sold on why the boys liked each other. Sure they have a lot in common and have been close friends for years, but I needed a little more to see why they would make great partners for each other in the long run.

Which we get to see in Us (#2). I found this book really tested their relationship in a realistic way and that reaffirmed for my why they are a good match for each other and why they love each other. We still get plenty of steam but the emotional connection between the guys is the main focus.

Series Rating: 4/5

Him 4/5| Us 4/5

overall

This super sexy read is great for new and returning MM romance fans!

Read if You Like: mm romance, sports romances, hockey
Avoid if You: dislike steamy scenes

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ARC Review + Blitz: Defensive Play by Jamie Deacon

Synopsis for Defensive Play (from Goodreads):

One glance is all it takes to bring his defences crashing down…

Seventeen-year-old Davey has never made friends easily. Shy, geeky, crippled with social anxiety, he feels isolated from his peers, and only his position as defender for the school football team fills the void of loneliness. On the pitch, his deft footwork has earned him the respect and acceptance of his squad, though at a price. Desperate to hold onto this camaraderie, Davey conceals the truth from everyone, even his own family.

Then, during the annual Brookshire football tournament, his eyes meet those of a rival player across the field and a spark flares between them, one neither boy can deny. Adam is everything Davey longs to be—confident, popular, comfortable with his sexuality. Davey aches to explore their connection, to discover where it might lead, but how can he follow his heart and risk rejection by his teammates, the closest thing to friends he has ever known?

Other books in the series:

breakdown

Series: Boys on the Brink
Author: Jamie Deacon
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order:  Standalone
Complete?: Unsure
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Sports, LGBT, MM Romance, Realistic Fiction
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: November 30, 2018
Source & Format: Author–eARC

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon / KoboiBooks

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Over the course of the last year, I’ve had tremendous luck with gay romances; specifically, adult sport ones. So when Jamie asked me to read his newest YA sports novella, it just seemed like an obvious “yes” to me.

The Plot:

I always worry when I pick up a novella that things will seemed rushed or underdeveloped; but I’m happy to say that wasn’t the case here! This was a quick read but one that packs a lot of punch and love into it.

And it is also so genuine! I could easily see this story happening in real life and I think that’s part of the charm of it. The problems and insecurities these characters have could happen to anyone and are likely happening right now. It’s just a beautiful story that doesn’t rely on overdramatic plot devices to be an entertaining read.

The Characters:

I loved watching Davey become confident in himself. I think his story is one many people (boys and girls, regardless of sexual orientation) can relate to–finding the confidence in who you truly are. He transforms before your eyes and I always appreciate that in my stories.

Adam is this great counterpart to Davey’s story in so many ways. He isn’t perfect–he too has had some bumps along the way–but I think that makes this story all that more charming by showing off those all too human qualities. It would have been great to get his POV as well but I learned enough about his through Davey to be satisfied with his character.

The Romance:

Simply put: adorable! I loved the slow burning tension this one had! It starts as a friendship and slowly becomes more. It was the perfect vessel to get the point of the story across.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

This is the only story I’ve read in the series, but it has definitely impressed me so I can’t wait to further explore this series!

My Rating: 4/5

Caught Inside N/A | [Defensive Play 4/5]

overall
A sweet, realistic read that will no doubt charm your heart!

Read if You Like: realistic fiction, LGBT stories
Avoid if You: want a longer story

The rain has stopped. A soft mist hangs in the air, turning the distant streetlights a hazy orange. After the stuffiness of the clubhouse, the night is bitterly cold and I pull on my sweatshirt against the chill. I sit on the steps overlooking the car park, heedless of the damp that seeps through my jeans. Elbows on knees, I rest my chin in my hands and close my eyes, attempting to clear my mind. I don’t want to think anymore. I just want to sit with nothing but the dark and the quiet for company.

I haven’t been hunched there long when the door opens, ejecting a stream of warmth and thumping bass. I glance behind me, although I know who it will be. My body goes still. Adam lets the door swing shut and, just like that, we’re alone.

He doesn’t seem surprised to find me on the steps. Perhaps he saw me leave. Has he followed me? My insides clench. What if Adam thinks I did it deliberately, that I meant to lure him out here. Maybe I had. Maybe, deep down, a part of me hoped Adam might come, even while the rest of me prayed he wouldn’t.

This time, when our gazes connect, there’s no one to see, no football match to act as a buffer. I drink him in. Even in the faint glow filtering through the frosted pane in the door, his eyes are a vivid blue.

“Hey,” Adam says. Such a simple word that expresses so much. There’s recognition there, like we’re childhood friends meeting after years apart, but uncertainty, too. He has a nice voice, I register through my turbulent thoughts—warm and slightly husky.

“Hey.” My reply emerges somewhere between a croak and a squeak. Cringing, I stare down at my feet.

“It’s Davey, right?”

I fling him a startled look. Had this boy—this confident, gorgeous boy—actually gone to the trouble of finding out my name?

One side of Adam’s mouth lifts in a crooked smile. “Well, I had to know who the lunatic was who almost took my leg off.”

“God.” I bury my face in my hands. Of course Adam was going to ask about me after what happened on the pitch. “I’m so sorry.”

He laughs and nudges my thigh with the toe of his trainer. “I’m kidding. Seriously, you did us a favour.”

I dare a peep at him, unable to rid myself of the thought that he has pursued me out here to take the piss. That wouldn’t be anything new, after all.

“It’s true.” Adam crouches on the step beside me, his expression amused but without malice. “Rob warned me about you. He said the rest of your defence was pretty solid, but probably weren’t quick enough to catch me. You were the real threat.”

I grimace. “I’m guessing he wasn’t expecting me to take you out quite so spectacularly, though.”

“Funnily enough, that wasn’t included in the pep talk. Still, I should be thanking you. You made our job a whole lot easier.”

“Don’t remind me. You should’ve heard the guys after the match. I’ll never hear the end of it.”

Adam laughs again, and I can’t hold back a smile. Here I am, having an actual conversation with an amazing-looking boy—a boy who’d caught me checking him out, no less—and I’m not making an ass of myself.

The door behind us bursts open and several guys spill out. I tense, guard raised. Will they think it odd us sitting out here alone? I scan their faces, but none are from Farnstead. A moment later, they barrel down the steps without giving either of us a second look and head for one of the cars parked nearby.

As they pile in and the engine growls to life, I exhale, shoulders slumping. I can feel Adam studying me and keep my gaze lowered.

“You’re not out,” he says, “are you?”

“What?” My entire body goes rigid. He knows. I’d already guessed as much, but suspecting it is one thing; being confronted with the indisputable truth sends me spiralling back into panic mode. Why had he really followed me out here? I’d thought…been sure I’d read something in his eyes when they locked with mine, but what if I’m wrong? Do I truly believe someone like Adam, someone popular and self-assured, would have sought me out? Unless…

I see again the Brookminster players in their huddle, sniggering, moments after Adam caught me staring. I’d reassured myself they weren’t laughing about me, but perhaps my fears had been well founded. The cold certainty settles like a snowball in my gut. I’d given myself away, and now the other lads have sent Adam out here to chat me up, trick me into an admission I won’t be able to take back. For all I know, his mates are somewhere close by as we speak, listening in.

“Hey.” Adam extends his palms in what is probably supposed to be a calming gesture. “It’s all right. I know and it’s all right.”

“You don’t know anything,” I snap. The instinct for self-preservation, to keep my protective wall intact at any cost, propels me to my feet. “You hear me? You don’t know anything about me.”

Before he can respond, I’m down the steps and sprinting into the darkness, phone already out to call my parents. All I want is to go home, crawl into bed, and forget today ever happened.

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Jamie Deacon

Jamie lives in a tranquil spot close to the River Thames in Berkshire, England, and has always been just a little out of place—the only redhead in a family of brunettes; an introvert far more at ease with dogs than with people; a connoisseur of simple pleasures in a society intent on the quest for wealth and fame. Despite an outward cynicism, Jamie is a romantic at heart, and, when not immersed in a book, can mostly be found writing emotional stories where young men from all walks of life are forced to navigate the sometimes painful reality of growing up, coming out, and falling in love.

Author Links: Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

To celebrate the release of Defensive Play, Jamie Deacon is giving away a $10 Amazon Gift Card. For your chance to win, simply enter via the Rafflecopter below. The giveaway is open to entrants world wide, and closes at midnight EST on Friday December 7, 2018.

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Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon / KoboiBooks

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ARC Review: Just Pretending (The Chicago Falcons #3) by Leah & Katie Rooper

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

Other books planned to be in the series:
book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Just Pretending (from Goodreads):

It’s not easy being royal. Sixteen-year-old Evangeline wears her crown proudly, but between her duties and her overprotective big brother, the idea of romance is just a dream. But a chance encounter in Chicago changes all that….

Sure, seventeen-year-old Tyler Evans loves playing hockey, but he’s more concerned about providing for his dad and little sister. Then he meets Eva–and falls head-over-heels in love—and he has two more problems. One, she’s his best friend’s little sister. Two, she wears a crown.

But then Eva accidentally mistakes Tyler for a visiting prince, and for the first time, Tyler doesn’t feel like a nobody. He knows he has to tell her the truth…but not yet.

His plan? To keep up the royal charade as long as it takes to convince Eva he’s the guy for her. Even if he’s lying to everyone…including himself.

Disclaimer: May cause disillusionment. Those girls looking to find their Prince Charming might consider scouting out hockey rinks.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Canadian Author(s)
Series: The Chicago Falcons
Author: Leah and Kate Rooper
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected but Chronological Events
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sports, Hockey, Royalty
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: October 2017 – November 2018
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC

thoughts

**This is review of book #3, Just Pretending, only**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I sort-of knew this was part of a series when I requested it but it wasn’t clearly stated. But I just couldn’t resist that premise: a regular boy pretending to be a prince falls in love with the queen…adorable!

The Concept / The World:

I think the fact that I hadn’t read the previous books gave me a bit of a disadvantage. Yes, you can definitely read this as a standalone and not be completely lost. But in the same breath, I think I could have really benefited from reading the other novels in the series, especially book #2, Just One of the Royals because I think it really sets up Eva’s character background a little more. I had so many questions about how she became queen and why she wanted to be queen in the first place and I felt like this book just didn’t answer them; mainly because she is already queen and this novel showcases her struggle finding that independence as a result.

The Plot:

I thought the whole plot of this novel was fun yet heartfelt. The fun comes from Tyler impersonating the prince and how he just gets himself deeper and deeper into the scheme.

But the touching moments come from the interactions Tyler and Eva share when they let their true selves show when they’re together. These two have a great connection with plenty of shared interests to make you fall for them as a couple. I couldn’t get enough of their chemistry!

The Characters:

Tyler instantly won my heart the moment we met him. He’s just a sweet boy with a massive crush on a girl he thinks he can never be with. But he was also a layered character as well. His learning disability and the struggle he has with it was so genuine and real. I loved watching him grow as the story progressed.

Eva I had a harder time with on occasion. As I said above, I could have benefited from getting her backstory that I think is provided more in the previous novels. She seemed a little all over the place (understandable really when one is a monarch at the at of 16) but I think knowing her full story could have helped me reconcile her somewhat wish-washy convictions.

The Romance:

I thought these two were adorable together! I just loved how they meshed on so many different levels. The heart of this story is loving yourself and finding someone who can see the true you beyond titles and I think the romance helps exemplify that throughout.

Will I Pick Up the Previous Novels in the Series:

I plan on it! From what I saw of the other couples, this seems like a super cute series so I’m excited to see how it all began.

Rating: 3/5

Just One of the Boys TBA | Just One of the Royals TBA | Just Pretending 3/5

overall

If you love sweet YA contemporaries–especially ones with sports (hockey) and royals–this is right up your alley!

Read if You Like: sport romances, YA contemporaries
Avoid if You: want deeper plot-lines

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Series Review: The Rule Breakers by Jennifer Blackwood

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Rule Book (from Goodreads):

Starr Media Second-Assistant Survival Guide

1. Don’t call your hot boss the antichrist to his face.
2. Don’t stare at hot boss’s, um, package or his full sleeve of tattoos. (No. Really. Stop!)
3. Don’t get on the malicious first assistant’s bad side.
4. Don’t forget to memorize the 300-page employee manual.
5. If you value your cashmere, steer clear of boss’s dog.
6. Boss’s dimples are lust-inducing. Do. Not. Give. In.
7. “The elevator ate your clothes” is not a valid excuse for showing up to important meetings half dressed.
8. Don’t break seven of the rules within the first week of employment if you, ya know, are in dire need of money to support your sick mom.
9. Whatever you do, don’t fall for the boss. See rule eight about sick mom.
10. Never forget the rules.

breakdown

Series: The Rule Breakers
Author: Jennifer Blackwood
# of Books: 2 (The Rule Book, The Rule Maker)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Workplace, Humour
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person Single; Alternating (The Rule Maker)
Publication Dates: May 2016 – January 2017
Source & Format: Own & Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Kobo had been recommending this series to me for forever, so I decided to pick up The Rule Book one day. Of course, I didn’t read it right away but when my “big city” library card was expiring, I decided to read my copy so I could read the library’s copy of the sequel and save myself some cash 😛

I love a good contemporary romance in the workplace. But seeing as I read this on the cusp of the #metoo movement, I went in a little hesitantly. This promised to be funny and light so I went in optimistically.

The Plot:

Both books are pretty simple in terms of their plot execution. It mostly focuses on the girls fighting the forbidden feelings they have for their respective boys but failing at it spectacularly. That leads to some funny moments that definitely had me chuckling along.

These books have a lot of build up to the “main event” (ie the characters giving into their feelings and starting a romance) and not a lot happens. Then suddenly the relationship starts, the big conflict arises and the book is wrapped up within a chapter or two. For me, it just made everything seem rushed and I wasn’t a fan.

This was the case in particular with The Rule Book. It really irked me that the drama at the end of the novel was caused by simply omitting something. I put my complaint in spoilers below because it is hard to explain but I kept it pretty general so it isn’t a major spoiler.

My Problem with the Ending of The Rule Book

When Brogan accuses Lainey of the breach, she makes no effort to defend herself whatsoever. Perhaps she feels like it’s a waste of breath because Brogan is completely convinced, but she just takes it as is and leaves. While I understand that that is part of Lainey’s character flaw (look how the other assistant treated her and how she just let him), her inability to even try to right the situation really bothered me.

[collapse]

The Characters:

I liked all the characters and their humour. It provided a lot of great scenes and witty remarks. They’ve all got their flaws that they have to work at so I appreciated their vulnerability.

In some ways I wish Brogan had his own POV in The Rule Book because it would have been nice to get to know his character a little more. But on the other hand, I enjoyed slowly learning about him as Lainey did. There is something to be said about a little bit of mystery!

The Romance:

This was definitely stronger in The Rule Book (#1) than in The Rule Maker (#2) I really struggled with the romance in The Rule Maker because I never saw that deeper connection between them nor did I feel the tension brimming. It just made the whole story seem a little lackluster and I felt myself getting a little bored.

Series Rating: 3.5/5

The Rule Book 3.5/5 | The Rule Maker 3/5

overall

If you’re looking for a lighter read that doesn’t focus on sexy times and has a dash of humour, these books are great, quicker reads!

Read if You Like: workplace romance, light reads, humour
Avoid if You: want erotica, want longer stories, want more emotion

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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.

However, 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 and 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 absolutely 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

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