Tag «Conclusion: worth a read»

Series Review: The Dark Elements by Jennifer L. Armentrout

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

White Hot Kiss by Jennifer L. Armentrout | The Dark Elements Series

Other books in the series:

SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Favourite Author, Most Read Author
Series: The Dark Elements Trilogy
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout (Pennames include J. Lynn)
# of Books: 3 (White Hot Kiss, Stone Cold Touch, Every Last Breath)

There is a prequel novella called Bitter Sweet Love that can be read before the series

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult/New Adult, Romance, Supernatural, Urban Fantasy
Heat Rating: really warm – spicy for a young adult novel
Point of View: First Person, Single

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.**

I pretty much read anything Jennifer L. Armentrout because I have always enjoyed her works but this was one series I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy. After reading the plot synopsis for White Hot Kiss it seemed obvious to me that there was going to be a love triangle and that kind-of turned me off of this new series (love triangles are my least favourite literary device). However, when I was browsing the Kindle Free Bestsellers, I came across Bitter Sweet Love and decided to give this series a shot.

I’m glad I read Bitter Sweet Love first–and I highly recommend that you read it first if you plan on reading this series (though it isn’t necessary). It does a great job of setting up the world–which is pretty unique in that it features gargoyles–so that you are familiar with it when you read the first full length novel, White Hot Kiss. It also introduces you to the main character Layla years earlier as well as some other characters that make an appearance later on. Again, you don’t have to read this book but I found that it helped set the scene for the rest of the series and it made me really excited to read White Hot Kiss.

White Hot Kiss reminded me of Firelight by Sophie Jordan but with gargoyles instead of dragons and a more mature (read: less annoying) heroine. The storyline is also completely different but I found the stories had a lot of parallels in its delivery. The love triangle wasn’t as bad as it could have been–it was pretty mild compared to other love triangle based stories. However, the sexual content (like most of Armentrout’s work) is higher than most Young Adult reads. Personally, it’s right on that Young Adult-New Adult border for me like Sweet Evil was.

I did like Layla as a character and I could understand her choices; however I just didn’t love her. I find Armentrout’s heroines all have the same general makeup to them so at times I felt like I was reading about Kat from Lux or Alex from Covenant (more so Kat in this case). I loved Roth though 😛

I’m interested to see where the series is going to go and I’m looking forward to seeing how everything unfolds.

updates

–December 7, 2014– Book 2: Stone Cold Touch

Stone Cold Touch really just an amped up version of White Hot Kiss. The plot is darker and more twisty; the love triangle is at full force (and totally swoon-worthy); and the characters become more defined. I really enjoyed reading it and it sucked me into the story much faster than the first novel did. While I had a pretty good idea of how things were going to unfold, I often found myself second-guessing myself so I loved that uncertainty and it kept me reading.

I have to hand it to Armentrout–she honestly writes the best male leads. I normally hate love triangles but with this one I had such a hard time picking a side! I probably have one I leaned to more (Roth if I’m going to be honest) but I liked that the love triangle wasn’t the whole focus of the book or annoyed the shit out of me by having Layla going back and forth between the two of them. While I still don’t love Layla (what I said earlier still stands) I liked her a lot more in this book. Overall, it’s a solid second novel (my favourite of the series so far) and I can’t wait to see how everything wraps up in Summer 2015.

–August 29, 2015– Book 3: Every Last Breath

I was really excited to read this last book, especially after the previous one which was fantastic. But I think I just read this book at the wrong time. When I was reading it, I was in the middle of moving and preparing for my new school year so I really didn’t have a lot of time to just sit around and read.

And because of that, the book just felt slow to me. I was expecting the action to start right from the get-go but instead, it focused on wrapping up the love triangle. Which, I appreciated don’t get me wrong! I wasn’t looking forward to waiting until the very end to see how that would all go down so it was nice to get it out of the way. I just wanted all that action I had anticipated given the ending of the second book.

The last 100 pages or so (the eBook was ~280) really picked things up and overall it was a solid ending. I just wanted a bit more and because I really enjoyed the second book SO MUCH, I think this finale had a lot to live up to.

Series Rating: 4/5

White Hot Kiss 3.5/5 | Stone Cold Touch 5/5 | Every Last Breath 3/5

overall

Fans of Armentrout will enjoy this series as it has her fingerprints all over it and delivers like you expect her works to. For people unfamiliar with Armentrout’s work, you will also enjoy it if you want a more mature Young Adult read with paranormal/supernatural creatures not often talked about in Young Adult fiction (gargoyles).

Read if You Like: more New Adult-esque YA, paranormal shapeshifter stories, good vs evil
Avoid if You: want less romance, don’t like paranormal YA

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Synopsis for White Hot Kiss (from Goodreads):

One kiss could be the last.

Seventeen-year-old Layla just wants to be normal. But with a kiss that kills anything with a soul, she’s anything but normal. Half demon, half gargoyle, Layla has abilities no one else possesses.

Raised among the Wardens—a race of gargoyles tasked with hunting demons and keeping humanity safe—Layla tries to fit in, but that means hiding her own dark side from those she loves the most. Especially Zayne, the swoon-worthy, incredibly gorgeous and completely off-limits Warden she’s crushed on since forever.

Then she meets Roth—a tattooed, sinfully hot demon who claims to know all her secrets. Layla knows she should stay away, but she’s not sure she wants to—especially when that whole no-kissing thing isn’t an issue, considering Roth has no soul.

But when Layla discovers she’s the reason for the violent demon uprising, trusting Roth could not only ruin her chances with Zayne…it could brand her a traitor to her family. Worse yet, it could become a one-way ticket to the end of the world.

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Series Review: Kylie Ryans by Caisey Quinn

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

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SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Favourite Author
Series: Kylie Ryans Trilogy
Author: Caisey Quinn
# of Books: 3 (Girl with Guitar, Girl on Tour, Girl in Love)

There will be a spinoff series called Second Chances

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Music, Drama, Contemporary
Heat Rating: warm, gets warmer in later books
Point of View: Third Person

Thoughts on Girl With Guitar:

I’ve been dying to get my hands on Caisey Quinn’s Kylie Ryan series ever since I devoured her Keep Me Still Series. I just loved the heartfelt story in that series so I was looking forward to a similar experience with her other works.

I bought Girl with Guitar (and then it was free the next week on Amazon :P); but I honestly didn’t mind paying the $1 it cost me because I knew I was going to get a good read. And I did! This book was just what I wanted–a romance with great sexual tension and a strong heroine. I easily finished the book in a day because it was so easy to get caught up in everything. To me the romance wasn’t as well developed as in her other series but it wasn’t like it came out of nowhere so I really didn’t mind.

Kylie is a strong and stubborn character and I think some readers might find it a little irritating at times. She has no problems speaking her mind and while I agreed with her observations most of the time, a few times she should have just kept her mouth shut because she came across as a little rude. But I would rather have a slightly overbearing heroine than a timid, whinny little girl any day so I really didn’t mind too much about Kylie’s attitude. I really liked Trace though–and every other character we meet along the way. Overall, it was a good cast of characters.

Girl on Tour differs from Girl with Guitar because this time we get to see more from Trace’s perspective. It alternates between Kylie and Trace though it is still third person narration. I’m glad we get this delivery because I found that there really wasn’t much going on in Kylie’s life to warrant a whole novel dedicated to it alone. We get the same approach in Girl in Love but it doesn’t necessarily alternate on a regular basis.

These books aren’t fast moving plot-wise though they are shorter so you can breeze through them quickly. However, I never felt like there was anything missing from the story because of the books’ page length. They were the perfect length without dragging everything on too much or unnecessarily. Each book blended well with each other and I love the journey we take from start to finish. Overall, I’m very satisfied with this series.

I just want to say that you don’t have to be a country music fan to enjoy these books! I don’t listen to country music in any capacity but I never felt like I was at a disadvantage while reading this book. I also normally don’t enjoy New Adult books that are set in the South because they are overdramatic and tend to lack a bit of maturity but that really isn’t the case here. Kylie is exceptionally mature for her age and I never found any drama to be over the top.

There will be a spinoff series called Second Chances though it isn’t immediately about any of the characters featured in these novels that I can see. I’m really interested to see where it will go so I will definitely be checking it out!

Conclusion:

While I didn’t love these books as much as her other series, Caisey Quinn wrote a great New Adult romance for fans who like stories about musician celebrities, life and family. I enjoyed every minute of these books and am sad to see these characters go but the series as a whole is great. It’s realistic, has some interesting drama and a great cast of characters! Check it out!

Rating: 4/5

Similar Reads:

Synopsis for Girl with Guitar (from Goodreads):
After Kylie’s dad dies in a freak accident, he leaves her with nothing other than her crazy stepmother, Darla, and the ability to play guitar. When Darla kicks Kylie out and she loses her job all in the same day, she hops a bus to Nashville determined to make her late father’s dreams come true.

Waitressing and saving her pennies to record a demo, her big break comes when she’s asked to join a tour going down the tubes with once platinum album-selling country music superstar Trace Corbin. But touring with Trace is hardly a dream come true since he’s pretty much drinking his career down the drain. If Kylie can’t pull Trace out of his rut, he’ll pull her and her dreams down with him.

Series Review: Waking Up by Mira Lyn Kelly

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

Synopsis for Waking Up Married (from Goodreads):

Her first thought: “Who are you?”
It’s the morning after her cousin’s bachelorette party in Vegas and Megan Scott wakes up with the mother of all hangovers. Even worse, she’s in a stranger’s penthouse having woken up with something else as well – a funny, arrogant, sexy…husband!

Up until now, finding even a boyfriend had seemed impossible – been there, got the broken heart, sworn off men for good. Then a few martinis with Carter…no, Connor Reed and she’s gone from first meet to marriage in one night!

Megan wants a lawyer. But Connor’s shocking bombshell?

“I don’t want a divorce.”

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Author: Mira Lynn Kelly
# of Books: 2 (Waking Up Married, Waking Up Pregnant)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: December 2012 – March 2014
Source & Format: Own (Kindle)–eBook

thoughts

**This post was originally posted as a Standalone review of the first book of the series. I have opted not to pick up the sequel.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I got this book for free for my Kindle and read it right away.

My Review:

Although I don’t enjoy reading love at first sight novels, this one didn’t bother me too much despite being a one. I actually felt like there was a good connection between Megan and Connor–not enough to get married within 24 hours of meeting each other but, hey, it’s fiction after all (and set in Vegas)!

It was a good, light-hearted read that had me smiling by the end of it. It was funny and charming and the characters were likeable.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

Fans of contemporary romance will really enjoy this book! Just be sure to go into it looking for a light-hearted read and have some fun!

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  • The Secret Wedding Dress by Ally Blake

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Series Review: Flight & Glory by Rebecca Yarros

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 Full Measures (from Goodreads):
Three knocks can change everything…

“She knew. That’s why Mom hadn’t opened the door. She knew he was dead.”

Twenty years as an army brat and Ember Howard knew, too. The soldiers at the door meant her dad was never coming home. What she didn’t know was how she would find the strength to singlehandedly care for her crumbling family when her mom falls apart.

Then Josh Walker enters her life. Hockey star, her new next-door neighbor, and not to mention the most delicious hands that insist on saving her over and over again. He has a way of erasing the pain with a single look, a single touch. As much as she wants to turn off her feelings and endure the heartache on her own, she can’t deny their intense attraction.

Until Josh’s secret shatters their world. And Ember must decide if he’s worth the risk that comes with loving a man who could strip her bare

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Series: Flight & Glory
Author: Rebecca Yarros
# of Books: 4 (Full Measures, Eyes Turned Skyward, Beyond What is Given, Hallowed Ground)
Book Order: Connected, Direct Sequel (Full Measures + Hallowed Ground)
Genre: New Adult, Army, Realistic, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single; Alternating (Eyes Turned Skyward onwards)
Publication Dates: February 2014 – January 2016
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

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

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I picked up this book because of the cover and the price; but I was also interested in the hockey player aspect. I find books dealing with the army are a little hit or miss for me. I absolutely loved the Out of Line series by Jen McLaughlin, but I wasn’t a huge fan of Something Like Normal. But I went into this book hoping it would be like Out of Line and that I would enjoy it.

The Plot:

Overall, I really liked this book but it wasn’t what I was really expecting. The first half of the book is really about Ember finding herself after her father’s death. I would almost describe it like she is undergoing a midlife crisis at the age of 22–and being the same age I could totally see why she is given everything that happens to her. But once she gets a grip on her life, that is when the romance begins to take center focus. This isn’t to say that there isn’t sexual tension for the first half of the book, because there is, I just felt the focus was on Ember trying to navigate her life.

The book I feel is really grounded and realistic. It’s not over the top and you can tell that Ms Yarros has experience with the military life as it is shown in the writing. I felt like I was actually experiencing all of that with my family and I shed a few tears while reading.

The Characters:

The only thing that stopped me from giving this book a 4/5 was Ember. I’m not sure why I didn’t like her as much as I should have. It’s weird because I totally got her character and her thought process but I just didn’t have that connection with her I usually develop with the heroines. She basically had everything I like about a female lead but I guess she came across as a little cold at the start which rubbed me the wrong way. Given everything that happens I totally understood why but I wonder if my first impression of her just never left my mind.

I really hope that there will be a spin-off book with some of the characters we meet here–especially Sam or Jagger. From what I can see nothing it planned but I would definitely be interested in reading more from this author.

updates

–February 11, 2017– Book #2: Eyes Turned Skyward

It has almost been 3 years since I read the inaugural novel but I had no problem getting back into this world.

This was just a really enjoyable romance novel. The story was so heart-felt from start to finish. Both leads are trying to navigate their complicated lives and it was great watching them grow.

The romance is more of a slow burn but definitely on point. Yes, it is a little cheesy at times but it just worked so well when you looked past the cheesiness. It’s such a sweet story that the cheese is worth it.

Series Rating: 4/5

Full Measures 3.5/5  |  Eyes Turned Skyward 4/5  | Beyond What is Given TBR | Hallowed Ground TBR

overall

For those new adult fans who enjoy military reads and watching love & acceptance heal, this is a read for you. It’s got enough awe moments mixed with hot moments to make a reader happy. But just be aware that it is a little darker (ie not so happy-go-lucky) at times so just be prepared.

Read if You Like: military romances, slow burn romance
Avoid if You: want a lighter story
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Series Review: Ruin by Rachel Van Dyken

SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Favourite Reads of 2014, Must Watch For Author
Series: Ruin Trilogy
Author: Rachel Van Dyken
# of Books: 3 (Ruin, Toxic, Shame)

There is a novella that is a continuation of Ruin BUT takes place after Toxic called Fearless.

Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Drama, College
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating

Thoughts:

Ruin was one of those books that was everywhere for me. Kobo had been recommending it for months and my friends on Goodreads had all given it super high ratings (I’m talking 5/5). Rachel Van Dyken is also an author that pops on numerous New Adult lists so I figured it was about time I read one of her books.

So I picked up Ruin on one of my mass Kobo book-runs and got to reading it a few days later. And finished it in a day–it was that fantastic!

What makes it fantastic is the great blend of romance, characters and plot. Nothing was overdone or underdone, it was just well done. I was worried that the romance between Wes and Kiersten would be rushed or happen too quickly but it wasn’t. Both seemed to understand what was happening but took their time and had good heads about them. It was hard not to like them really and they suited each other beautifully. I also really liked the rest of the characters so added bonus!

The plot wasn’t totally original to me as it reminded me a lot of A Walk to Remember (though I’ve only ever seen the movie) BUT the characters really do make a big distinction between the two novels so it didn’t bother me that much. It was super cute and I totally cried reading it 😛

As soon as I finished Ruin, I needed to read Toxic and get Gabe’s story. From the bits and pieces we get of Gabe in Toxic I wanted to know more about him and I thought I had a good idea of where the story was going to go. BUT, I was completely wrong. Toxic was different from Ruin in a lot of way but it still had that great blend of romance, plot and feelings its predecessor had. One thing that really separated the two was the mysterious and twisting plotRuin was a lot more straight forward in its delivery but I really had no idea where Toxic was going and when I thought I did, something else would happen. Simply a great follow up novel.

Fearless is basically an extended epilogue of Ruin but has little hints about what to expect in Shame. It was a little over the top for me at times but I enjoyed it and I would say it is worth the time to read.

updates

–January 16, 2016– Book #3: Shame

This book definitely got shafted to the back-burner for me. I totally forgot about it until I pulled it for my Rock my TBR challenge this year. I think reading it closer to the other books would have helped me enjoy it more but I can’t say that for sure.

I just couldn’t stay into this book and found myself getting bored with it. It started promising but things just happened too fast and I didn’t like its flow. It was predictable and slightly over the top; not what I was expecting for Lisa’s story. The logic and rational for the plot escaped me and took me away from enjoying the story. Even the romance was lacklustre and one that I had a hard time seeing besides physical attraction. For me, it just wasn’t a great way to end the series.

Series Rating: 4/5

Ruin 5/5 | Toxic 4/5 | Shame 3/5

overall

Overall, these novels are great! The romance is swoon-worthy but also realistic (even in Shame  to a certain extent) and grounding. This series makes you appreciate life and your loved ones and these characters will probably make you cry. Highly recommended for New Adult fans!

Read if You Like: romances, New Adult, tragic backstories
Avoid if You: dislike somewhat over the top drama

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Synopsis for Ruin (from Goodreads):
I’m not your typical girl. I’ve been running away from the memories that haunt me for so long that depression has become my only comfort. I was content in the darkness…until Wes Michals offered to be my light.

I didn’t know that time wasn’t my ally — that every second that ticked past was one step closer to the end of something that was beginning to mean the end of myself. He tried to warn me. He promised me all he was able to offer–each moment as it came–but it would never be enough.

Sometimes when you think it’s the end, it’s only the beginning. Wes thought he could save me, but in giving me everything, he ruined me. Because after one kiss, one touch, I couldn’t–I wouldn’t ever be the same.

And from that moment on, his heartbeat became my own.

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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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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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Series Review: Limelight by Elisabeth Grace

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

Rumor Has It by Elizabeth Grace | Limelight Series


Other books in the series:
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Series: Limelight
Author: Elisabeth Grace
# of Books: 3 (Rumor Has It, Picture Perfect, Collateral Damage)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Celebrity, Contemporary
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating

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.**

I’m not sure what it is about celebrity romance stories, but I am a sucker for them–especially if they are in the New Adult genre! So this was a must-buy for me and when I found out that the other was Canadian, it was a no-brainer.

Overall, I really enjoyed Rumor Has It. I loved Ellie and Mason. While Ellie could have easily gotten on my nerves, she didn’t irritate me. She was a strong, independent heroine and I liked how she handled certain situations (though in some situations I just felt like it went a bit against her character to do what she did–but I was able to get over it). Mason was super sweet and swoon-worthy and there isn’t much else to say about that. I liked that they had more in common than physical attraction but I felt like their relationship progressed much too quickly for my tastes. While I did like Ellie, when it came to certain decisions, I just felt like it went a bit against her character to do what she did–but I was able to get over it.

When I was a few chapters in, I knew how the book was going to end. I felt like it was a little obvious but what I didn’t expect was the pathway to get there. It was filled with drama (but not over the top drama which was great) and that made the story a lot more interesting to me.

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–June 25, 2014– Book #2: Picture Perfect

Skye wasn’t a huge character in Rumour Has It but I was excited to read her story in Picture Perfect and when I did get the time to read it, I really enjoyed it. The chemistry between her and Landon was fantastic and the sexual tension built throughout the book.

I felt like the book had a good blend between romance and plot–so I never got bored reading it. My only disappointment with the book was that some of the moments between Skye and Landon seemed out of character for Skye. I got the initial impression she was more reserved than she actually was when I read the book–but it really wasn’t a huge deal or turn-off for me when I was reading it though it threw me for a bit of a loop at first. Overall, it was a great follow-up to Rumour Has It and I can’t wait to read book 3, Collateral Damage!

–May 4, 2016– Book #3: Collateral Damage

This one was easily my favourite of the entire series (even though I got the world mixed up with Laurelin Paiges’ Lights, Camera Series universe). If I hadn’t been on vacation and busy doing activities, I would have devoured it in one sitting. It was exactly what I needed to read when I did.

I thought the characters had great depth to them and I enjoyed the equal focus on their own development as individuals as well as the romance. Calder and Francesca were not only a great match for each other but they were intriguing on their own. The sexual tension between them was great and I loved how it was supported by a real emotional connection. You really wanted to see them work it out and succeed.

Things happen fast though in this novel and there isn’t too much to the story besides this couple trying to form. I wanted certain plot aspects to be address, not swept under the rug but I suppose that it was more “realistic” with the approach it took. Nevertheless, I enjoyed reading this lighter romance novel from start to finish.

Series Rating: 4/5

Rumor Has It 4/5 | Picture Perfect 4/5 | Collateral Damage 4/5

overall

This series is a great quick but solid celebrity contemporary romance series. Enjoyable from start to end, this is a great choice for a lighter romance read.

Read if You Like: quick romance reads, celebrity romances, sexual tension
Avoid if You: want more drama

similarreads

  • All Access by Karolyn James (Brothers of Rock Series #1)
  • Eversea by Natasha Boyd (Eversea Series #1)
  • Beautiful Stranger by Christina Lauren (Beautiful Bastard Series #2)
  • Girl With Guitar by Caisey Quinn (Kylie Ryan Series #1)
  • Take Two by Laurelin Paige (Lights, Camera Series #1)

Synopsis for Rumor Has It (from Goodreads):
All publicity is good publicity, right? Unless you’re recent college grad Ellie Wagner and an embarrassing video of you and your boyfriend goes viral. Every man in your life abandons you, but who knew a one-minute clip of your latest doomed relationship would brand you a slut, prevent you from getting your perfect job, and force you to keep doing the one thing you swore you’d never do again…live with your mother.

But staying with mom and her latest boy-toy (is this husband number four or five?) until your life turns around might not be all bad. Especially when you fall – literally – at the feet of a sexy, green-eyed stranger who offers you freedom and a life of luxury on a gold-rimmed platter.

There’s only one little problem – the man of your dreams is none other than Mason Nash, the latest hip-hop star busting up the music charts. Fame and fortune are his calling cards and he’s vying to steal the show on a new reality TV series that will catapult him into mainstream stardom. Hello spotlight.

The man behind the famous persona is perfect for Ellie in every way, but can she overcome the ugly pitfalls that come with Mason’s celebrity status? Or will she be forced to choose between the man she loves and the independent life she longs for? After all, fame and fortune aren’t always what they seem and not all publicity is good publicity…

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Series Review: Spellcaster by Claudia Gray

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

Spellcaster by Claudia Gray | Spellcaster Series

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Synopsis for Spellcaster (from Goodreads):
When Nadia’s family moves to Captive’s Sound, she instantly realizes there’s more to it than meets the eye. Descended from witches, Nadia senses a dark and powerful magic at work in her new town. Mateo has lived in Captive’s Sound his entire life, trying to dodge the local legend that his family is cursed – and that curse will cause him to believe he’s seeing the future … until it drives him mad. When the strange dreams Mateo has been having of rescuing a beautiful girl—Nadia—from a car accident come true, he knows he’s doomed.

Despite the forces pulling them apart, Nadia and Mateo must work together to break the chains of his family’s terrible curse, and to prevent a disaster that threatens the lives of everyone around them.

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SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Surprise Reads of 2013
Series: Spellcaster Trilogy
Author: Claudia Gray
# of Books: 3 (Spellcaster, Steadfast, Sorceress)

There is also a prequel novella, The First Midnight Spell — see note below

Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Magic, Witches, Paranormal, Mystery, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: March 2013 – March 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

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**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.**

My Expectations/Why I Picked it Up:

Witches are not normally my “thing” when it comes to reading. I’m not sure why, but I’ve never enjoyed witch books as much as I should. The only exception being Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, one of my all time favourite series. However, I did like the CW TV Series “The Secret Circle” (based on books of the same name) and this book was pitched for fans of that so I decided to give it a shot. I also enjoyed Gray’s Evernight Series and like her style so I decided to pick this book up.

My Review:

I’m glad I did. It’s been a long time since I enjoyed a young adult book (but that could also be because of my hectic school schedule cutting out my reading time and/or only reading short, freebies from Kindle ;)) and once I got into this one, it was hard to put it down.

I think one thing that I liked about this book was the writing style Gray uses. One is that it was very mature. Nadia and group are very grown-up for high school students and I really appreciated it. They weren’t focused on who was dating who (though it does come up of course) but the main point is that it wasn’t the ONLY plot of the book–more on that later. They were all very smart and I really liked all the characters we meet. Another thing I really liked was the third person POV and how it switched between multiple people. I like books like this because you get more plot development and you get a better understanding of the characters. I think it worked really well for this book and I’m glad this was the route Claudia Gray took when writing it.

The plot development in this was great. I like how it unfolded as you read it but there were still a few twists that really add to the story. As I said before, it isn’t primarily a romance novel but there is that element. It is more a mystery/suspense plot that keeps you hooked. I don’t want to dive into it, but the plot really builds as you read.

The series reminded me a lot of Beautiful Creatures in it’s delivery (they have similar starts I think with the main characters) but there is enough in this book to make it unique and different. It will do a good job of filling the void Beautiful Creatures left after the final book was published 🙁

The Novella:

Although The First Midnight Spell is listed as a “prequel” novella, I wouldn’t read it until after you read Spellcaster because it will have some spoilers. While it isn’t necessary to read it for the rest of the series, it does shed some light on a particular character and helps explain why things are the way they are in Captive Sound.

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–May 12, 2014– Book #2: Steadfast

When my eReader died in March, the book I was reading was Steadfast and unfortunately, I wasn’t able to finish it just as I really got into the story. So after a few months of waiting, I finally got my hands on a copy.

Steadfast was a great follow-up to Spellcaster. It has the exact same formula that made the first book so enjoyable and addicting. Again, lots of twists and turns throughout the plot so I never found it to be predictable. One thing I really enjoyed was that we got to see more about Verlaine and to be honest it was her story that really drew me in this time around. I’m really excited to see how everything wraps up in the next and final novel of the series.

–March 25, 2015– Book #3: Sorceress

I was first on my library’s list to get Sorceress when it was released but because of school, I wasn’t able to read it for a few weeks. I’m not sure if it was because I was in a rush to finish it before my download expired or if it is because its been a year since I read Steadfast but I just didn’t get into it. I think I was expecting more instant drama/action based on how Steadfast ends so I felt like Sorceress took a long time to build up to what should have been there from the start (in my opinion). Just past the halfway point was where things started to pick up but by then I was a little bored. Overall though I thought it was a solid way to end the series and I liked the way things progressed eventually. I would like to give it the benefit of the doubt and say that my current mood really influenced my reading. (So while I gave it a 3/5 on GoodReads, it’s more of a 3.5/5 because I think fans of the series will be satisfied).

Series Rating: 4/5

Spellcaster 4/5 | Steadfast 4/5 | Sorceress 3/5

overall

If you like witches and magic with a dash of romance, pick this up!

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Series Review: Beautiful Bastard by Christina Lauren

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Series: Beautiful Bastard

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

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

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

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

Thoughts:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: 4/5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Series Review: Scarlet by A.C Gaughen

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

Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen | Scarlet Series

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Series: Scarlet Trilogy
Author: A.C. Gaughen
# of Books: 3 (Scarlet, Lady Thief, Lion Heart)
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Historical, Action, Retelling, Romance
Heat Rating: cool; warm in later books
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: February 2012 – May 2015
Source & Format: Own & Library–eBook

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**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.**

My Expectations / Why I Picked it Up:

I bought this book around Christmas because I love stories about Robin Hood and his merry men–always have since I was a kid. I used to watch the Disney Robin Hood movie with the animals all the time when I was young and one of my all-time favourite movie comedies is Robin Hood: Men in Tights. So, I think you can understand my excitement when I read the synopsis for Scarlet. It had all the promises that make a book 5 stars for me: a tough heroine, action, romance and the added bonus was Robin Hood of course.

My Review of Scarlet:

However, when I finished the book, I couldn’t quite give it that 5/5 rating. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed the book! It had great action, a bit of mystery and suspense thrown in so that was fantastic. I also liked all of the characters and the plot line overall was exciting and kept my attention.

Where this book failed to deliver was in two ways: 1) the romance and 2) it was way too short.

Let’s tackle #1–the romance. While there was some chemistry and sexual tension between Robin and Scarlet it never reached the level I wanted it to go in the book. Maybe I just read too much into the synopsis (sometimes I fear I pick up on one section of the synopsis and twist it in my mind to be what I want it to be) because now that I look back on it, it doesn’t particularly scream romance story. And to be clear, I wasn’t expecting a full out romance novel–I knew going in it would be more action than anything; but I would have appreciated more romance when all is said and done.

Which leads me into #2–it is way too short! I would have loved another 50 or so pages. It felt like right when we were getting to the good parts it ended. Also, part of the reason for my disappointment was that at the time I read the book, the sequel novels hadn’t been slated for publication so I felt like I was left at the start of a tunnel waiting to see where it would go. For the most part the story wraps up nicely but I just felt like there was so much more to expand upon so I am super glad that there will be two more books!

updates

–July 23, 2015– Book 2: Lady Thief

Well I definitely got my wish for more romance fulfilled with this one! Perhaps a little too much romance? Now don’t think that means it is only romance by that statement; I just mean that there didn’t seem to be too much going on besides the romantic developments. There definitely was plot development but this book didn’t seem as fast paced in terms of action and I missed that a little. However, at the same time, it’s been nearly 3 years since I read this and I felt very out of touch with the series. I highly recommend you read this right after Scarlet to keep the momentum going. Overall, it was a solid sequel and I’m excited for the finale!

–October 22, 2017– Book 3: Lion Heart

This book was slower than I anticipated. I thought there would be more action and heist-like plans but it was more politics and waiting to make a move. I also felt like the romance was the main focus for a solid chunk of the novel. Which is totally fine–there is a lot of this that has to be resolved–I just found it wasn’t keeping my attention all that much. Also, the writing style seemed different than the other novels; not as old fashioned English as Scarlet.

Series Rating: 4/5

Scarlet 4/5 | Lady Thief 3.5/5 | Lion Heart 3/5

overall

The writing style may not be for everyone so be warned (though I felt it improved as the books progressed). It took me a few chapters to get past that. Great for those who want a strong heroine, like Robin Hood stories and love action! Just don’t going into Scarlet hoping for some great love story because that really doesn’t happen until later in the series (ie book 2)!

Read if You Like: Robin Hood, medieval stories, kick ass heroines
Avoid if You: dislike stories with old English, want more romance (at least in book 1)

similarreads

  • Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers (His Fair Assassin #1)
  • Graceling by Kristin Cashore (Graceling Trilogy #1)
  • Ransom my Heart by Meg Cabot

Synopsis for Scarlet (from Goodreads):
Many readers know the tale of Robin Hood, but they will be swept away by this new version full of action, secrets, and romance.

Posing as one of Robin Hood’s thieves to avoid the wrath of the evil Thief Taker Lord Gisbourne, Scarlet has kept her identity secret from all of Nottinghamshire. Only the Hood and his band know the truth: the agile thief posing as a whip of a boy is actually a fearless young woman with a secret past. Helping the people of Nottingham outwit the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham could cost Scarlet her life as Gisbourne closes in.

It’s only her fierce loyalty to Robin—whose quick smiles and sharp temper have the rare power to unsettle her—that keeps Scarlet going and makes this fight worth dying for.

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