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Connected: A series that has books featuring different leads but is set in the same universe

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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.

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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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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.

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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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Series Review: His Fair Assassin by Robin LaFevers

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 Grave Mercy (from Goodreads):

Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

breakdown

Series: His Fair Assassin

There is a spin-off duology in the works.

Author: Robin LaFevers
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected by Chronological Events
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: April 2013 – November 2014
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

There is nothing more I love in the world of reading than a heroine who can kick serious butt. So it seemed like I no brainer that I would pick up this series. I don’t remember how exactly I learned about Grave Mercy, but I read it years ago (just shortly after its release) and it left such a mark on me that I refused to remove the sequels from my TBR despite the fact that I could never find the time to read them.

The Concept / The World:

I love worlds that are a mix of actual history with a little dash of fantasy–which is what we get here. These stories are inspired by true events but the timelines and the external forces involved are often altered by artistic licence. The result? You get a world filled with twisting politics (yay!), villainous characters and strong heroines you can’t help but root for.

Each book follows a different daughter of St. Mortain (Death) but they all follow a continuous story arc. It’s a great way to keep things fresh and moving throughout the series. You get to see old characters weave in and out of the story and it just gives this series a 360-degree view I think.

The Plot:

As I said above, each book features a different assassin so you get a fresh start every time in a sense. So in that regard, I found it took me a couple of chapters to get into the new swing of things and orient myself in the world. (It also didn’t help that I read Books #1 and #2 nearly five years apart…). This was especially true for Book #3, Mortal Heart that seemed to take twice as long to establish itself.

But once you are a few chapters in, you’d better hold on! I found these stories were constantly evolving and twisting and it’s hard not to be addicted. You get sucked into the heroine’s pasts; the politics are fascinating and don’t forget that dash of romance along the way!

The Writing:

Usually I don’t comment on the writing style but I do want to mention the fact that sometimes I had a hard time figuring out what was actually happening. It’s weird because this isn’t told in the third person (which can be tricky to navigate). I think it’s just that some things are alluded to; some things are “magical”/”supernatural” and with its historical setting I think the style just takes some getting used to when reading and interpreting what is happening.

The Characters:

I love that this series focuses on a different heroine in each book. You get to spend time uncovering every aspect of their character within the novel. Nothing gets drawn out between sequels or intentionalLY hidden. You just get solid characters throughout.

And each of our leading ladies is unique. Whether it’s their pasts before their time at the convent or their abilities, they each bring something fresh to this world and I loved that.

The Romance:

This is perhaps, for me, the most underdeveloped aspect of the plot because we don’t spend copious amounts of time with it. Of course, we get this great underlying tension between the characters but in the grand scheme of things, I found that the feelings developed fast (again, understandable given the circumstances) and don’t get a ton of screen time.

My Expectations for the Spin-Off Series:

I didn’t end the series on a particular high note (Mortal Heart was my least favourite of the trilogy), but I do like the idea of continuing on with some characters but getting a new cast of characters at the same time.

concSLOW

Series Rating: 4/5

Grave Mercy 4/5| Dark Triumph 4/5 | Mortal Heart 3/5

overall

I’ve never read a series like this before and that only is noteworthy. But if you enjoy historical fiction that focuses on the grittier side of things, check this series out!

Read if You Like: assassins, historical fantasy
Avoid if You: dislike long books, dislike darker reads

similarreads

  • Maid of Secrets by Jennifer McGowan (Maids of Honour Series #1)
  • Scarlet by A C Gaughan (Scarlet Trilogy #1)

 

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Series Review: Hudson Valley by Alice Clayton

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 Nuts (from Goodreads):

Roxie Callahan is a private chef to some of Hollywood’s wealthiest, and nastiest, calorie-counting wives. After a dairy disaster implodes her carefully crafted career in one fell ploop, she finds herself back home in upstate New York, bailing out her hippie mother and running the family diner.

When gorgeous local farmer Leo Maxwell delivers her a lovely bunch of organic walnuts, Roxie wonders if a summer back home isn’t such a bad idea after all. Leo is heavily involved in the sustainable slow food movement, and he likes to take his time. In all things. Roxie is determined to head back to the west coast as soon as summer ends, but will the pull of lazy fireflies and her very own Almanzo Wilder be enough to keep her home for good?

Salty. Spicy. Sweet. Nuts. Go on, grab a handful.

breakdown

Series: Hudson Valley
Author: Alice Clayton
# of Books: 3 (Nuts, Cream of the Crop, Buns)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Humour
Heat Rating: hot
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: October 2015 – May 2017
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I consider Alice Clayton’s Cocktail Series to be one of the best romantic comedy series in Adult Romance. I loved its humour, the unique characters and the fun but heartwarming plot lines. So I was very excited to start another series by her and was prepared to be entertained.

The Plot:

The first book in the series, Nuts, started out so promising. Roxy gets fired from her job in dramatic fashion, she meets Leo and sparks fly as hilarity ensues. I was totally on board until a few chapters later when the book hit snooze-ville.

It’s the same situation with all these books: the middle just drags. As soon as the leads start their sexual relationship the chapters become about said sexy times and repetitive inner monologues about how these girls are scared to love. And I could have tolerated that “scared to love” aspect if anything was really done about it. That’s the perfect opportunity for character development but that doesn’t happen until the very last chapter or two when the girl realizes the error of her thought process and does the “big change”. But other than that, these books failed to go anywhere.

The Characters:

I wasn’t overly impressed with our heroines. The only exception was Natalie (Cream of the Crop #2). I liked her brash personality and self confidence. But Roxy and Clara just never won me over.

The same goes for our heroes, though I will say they got better as the series progressed in terms of complexity. However, I felt like they were very under developed and I wish we got their POVs to help grow their characters a little more.

The Romance:

Because I felt like the characters were underdeveloped, it also made the romances that was as well. They all start out pretty superficially but they never dive deeper to truly establish that emotional connection. And I didn’t really feel the chemistry between our leads either besides physical lust.

My Audiobook Experience:

I thought the audiobooks were very well done. Each lead had her own unique voice (they used different narrators) and did a great job of bringing these heroines to life. I also liked that when they were doing the voice of a previous lead that they sounded very similar to the original narrator (if that makes sense).

I don’t know if listening to the audiobook (which took me twice as long as reading the novel would have) made this series seem prolonged but it might have been a factor. I do know that I enjoy humor more in audiobooks so I think that compensates for the somewhat longer read.

Series Rating: 2/5

Nuts 2/5 | Cream of the Crop 3/5 | Buns 2/5

overall

To say I’m disappointed is a huge understatement. I wanted to laugh and get carried away by eccentrically lovable characters but I ended up snoozing through cliches and sexy times.

Read if You Like: rom-coms, long (page wise) romances
Avoid if You: want better character development, want more plot

similarreads

  • Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella (Shopaholic Series #1)
  • Tangled by Emma Chase (Tangled Series #1)
  • Caught Up in Us by Lauren Blakely (Caught Up in Love Series #1)

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Series Review: Irresistible by Stella Rhys

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 Sweet Spot (from Goodreads):

I’ll be the first to admit that I live at extremes. After going ten years locked in what felt like a dysfunctional marriage, I’m now decidedly boy-free. In nearly three years I’ve had no boyfriends, no flings, no dates and no sex. For the sake of my dream career, the sacrifice has been easy.

At least it was.

Until he came along.

Lukas Hendricks. He’s rude, gorgeous, arrogant – a stone-carved wall of muscle and distraction. He’s everything I know to avoid but there’s no avoiding your next-door neighbor. Oh yeah. The man now lives three steps from me and to make matters worse, he crashed into my life while I was relaxed in the tub – mortifying to say the least and it went something like this: I was exposed. He looked. He laughed.

And then I locked myself out.

In short, Lukas Hendricks was trouble from the start. And me?

I was – for the first time in years – about to be screwed.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Watch Author 2018
Series: Irresistible
Author: Stella Rhys
# of Books: 4 (Sweet Spot, Bad Boss, Dirty Deeds, Hothead)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: March 2017 – February 2018
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook; Hidden Gems–eARC (Hothead only)

Copy provided: Hothead (Book #4)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I actually read this series a little out of order by picking up Book #4, Hothead as a review copy. Little did I know that I had already marked Books 1 & 2 on my library’s audiobook collection to read so it was a happy coincidence. I ended up loving Hothead so I couldn’t wait to see this series from the beginning!

The Plot:

After loving Hothead (Book #4) for its great blend of romantic chemistry and drama, I have to say I was a little disappointed in Sweet Spot (Book #1) when I got around to reading it. It just seemed like every contemporary romance novel I’ve read with a similar premise (in love with the neighbour). But, it did a great job introducing the rest of the cast so I was excited for the remaining sequels.

I find each book gets stronger with plots as the series grows. We start getting more original stories and better balance between character development, romance and drama. There were definitely things I could have done without in some of the books (like obvious communication assumptions, etc) but for the most part, I was able to overlook them and I found they got less and less as the series progressed.

The Characters:

With the exception of Lucas and Leah in Sweet Spot (#1), I loved all the characters in this series. It wasn’t that I had something against those two, I just felt like they are the most underdeveloped in the series. Everyone else has great backstories and has some great growth as a result in their individual stories.

But everyone as an ensemble has fantastic chemistry so it was fun to see them interwoven through everyone’s story.

The Romance:

I felt like the sexual chemistry between the characters improved in the sequels as well. Again, I think that goes hand-in-hand with strong character development and allowing the reader to get to know the characters to their core. Everyone was a great match for each other and it showed throughout the many obstacles they faced.

My Audiobook Experience (Books #1-3):

The audiobooks started a little rough for me with Sweet Spot (#1). I found the female narrator had a choppiness to her voice that irritated me but went away when I increased the speed. So I was a little nervous when I saw it was the same narrating duo for the other two novels. But I found that they changed up their presentation in the subsequent novels so it wasn’t a reoccurring issue.

Series Rating: 4/5

Sweet Spot 3/5 | Bad Boss 4/5 | Dirty Deeds 5/5 | Hothead 5/5

overall

This was a series that only improved as we spent longer with this ensemble cast of characters. If you enjoy sexy romances with great pairings and drama, you’ll definitely enjoy this! Stella Rhys has made it onto my “authors to watch” list thanks to this fun series!

Read if You Like: contemporary romance, sexual tension
Avoid if You: dislike romances
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Series Review: Hearts by Claire Contreras

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 Kaleidoscope Hearts (from Goodreads):

He was my older brother’s best friend.
He was never supposed to be mine.
I thought we would get it out of our system and move on.

One of us did.
One of us left.

Now he’s back, looking at me like he wants to devour me. And all those feelings I’d turned into anger are brewing into something else, something that terrifies me.
He broke my heart last time.
This time he’ll obliterate it.

breakdown

Series: Hearts Trilogy
Author: Claire Contreras
# of Books: 3 (Kaleidoscope Hearts, Paper Hearts, Elastic Hearts)

There is a novella that is a prequel to Book #2 Paper Hearts called Torn Hearts

Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Second Chances, Romance
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: January 2015 – March 2016
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m not sure how this series crossed my radar. I can only assume the cover of Kaleidoscope Hearts caught my eye on a Goodreads widget or perhaps Kobo recommended it to me.

Regardless, I tend to enjoy second chance romances and this series is all about them. I like the secrets and tension that happens and Kaleidoscope Hearts with its “in love with brother’s BFF” trope had me eager to start it.

The Plot:

I went through the same cycle with all these books. The start had my attention because there was so much tension and animosity between the leads. The mystery to their past relationship(s) had me eager to learn more. But by the midway point, my interest started to wane. I felt like we kept cycling the same drama back and forth. The push and pull of the romance just kept tugging and tugging but not making any positive progress. It got tiring to read because I got it you know? Of course their are obstacles in the way but we don’t need to rehash those every other chapter.

And it also drove me nuts that a lot of the unnecessary drama was the result of these characters purposefully being uncommunicative. We’d get their thought process in their inner monologue but they’d never tell their partner that. For example (I’m going to keep this pretty general to avoid spoilers), in Elastic Hearts, all Victor has to do is tell her that they can’t be seen together for a few weeks until everything blows over and the consequences are no longer at play. Instead, he essentially breaks up with her and tells her nothing about how his plan will secure a future for them so she assumes (rightfully so) the worst of him and that he doesn’t want to be with her.

SO FRUSTRATING!

The Characters:

I never fell in love with any of these characters. Part of the problem was their lack of maturity. For people well into their 20s, they acted like high schoolers at times. This was particularly apparent in Paper Hearts (which I actually DNF’d at 13%) where our heroine goes off on the littlest of things at our hero. I mean, I understand her hurt and anger towards him given their past, but she could turn a simple comment into something else completely with a snap of her fingers. Ugh. Everything was way more dramatic than it needed to be.

I also found that these characters were all over the place in terms of their personalities. They would act one way and then be something else entirely in the next chapter. So I could never get a good read on them or who they were. There is quite a bit of potential for development but we don’t really get any or enough to impress me.

The Romance:

I thought all the leads had good physical chemistry. You could feel the tension that flowed between them when they were in a room together. However, I felt like the emotional connections could have used some work.

It’s hard to craft a good second chance romance. You’ve got characters who have already established a relationship and usually the reader only sees them attempt to reestablish it after something has torn them apart. Which is the case here. I mean, you do get little flashbacks to the past so you know they had this great chemistry years ago but nothing showed me that the pairs were soulmates without a doubt, you know? It was almost like an unspoken connection that just convinced them that that person was the one and I would have enjoyed seeing more of the partnerships come to life.

When to Read #1.5 Torn Hearts:

This novella is included at the start of Book 2, Paper Hearts. It serves as a good introduction to the lead characters in Paper Hearts, giving a context for the situation they find themselves in. I don’t know if knowing why these two split before I started Paper Hearts “ruined” a bit of the mystery of the second chance story or not. I don’t think I would have enjoyed that story regardless.

Series Rating: 2.5/5

Kaleidoscope Hearts 3/5 | [Torn Hearts 3/5] | Paper Hearts DNF | Elastic Hearts 2/5

overall

I’ve read better second chance series. While all the right ideas were there, the execution could have been better.

Read if You Like: second chance romances
Avoid if You: dislike longer romance stories

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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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Fresh Fridays: From Here to You (Crash and Burn #1) by Jamie McGuire

Fresh Fridays: On Friday, I review a brand new series (ie. only has one book released so far) to see if the series is worth keeping up with. Here is this week’s offering:

Crash and Burn Series

Other books planned to be in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for From Here to You (from Goodreads):

As Darby Dixon sits in a tiny Texas church bathroom on her wedding day holding a positive pregnancy test, she realizes that of all the bad decisions she’s made in her life, marrying her abusive fiancé would be the worst. She’s never been able to stand up for herself, but she’ll sure as hell stand up for her baby. With just the cash she has on hand, she runs to get a bus ticket to the farthest place she can afford. Between her sheer grit and pageant-queen smile, she lands a job as a front desk clerk at the Colorado Springs Hotel. It’s not a glamorous life, but she and her baby are all that matters.

A former Marine, Scott “Trex” Trexler has worked in the most dangerous, corrupt, war-torn places on earth. Now he finally has a chance to return to the last place he’d felt at peace–Colorado Springs, Colorado, to take a new job with the Cheyenne Mountain Complex, a top-secret military installation buried deep within the granite.

The moment Trex walks into the inn, Darby knows he’s dangerous. There’s no way she wants to get involved with another man who seems to be keeping way too many secrets. As charming and devastatingly gorgeous as Trex is, he clearly isn’t telling her everything. But as wildfires rage on the mountain and Darby’s ex-fiancé shows he isn’t so willing to let her go, both she and Trex are soon to find out that what you don’t know absolutely can hurt you.

breakdown

Series: Crash and Burn

This series crosses over with The Maddox Brothers Series

Author: Jamie McGuire
# of Books: 1+ (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, more books to be published
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: August 21, 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC | Thank you Forever Publishing!

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading From Here to You at 32% (start of Chapter 11). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I was really excited when Forever Publishing offered me the opportunity to read Jamie McGuire’s new series. At that point, I had only read (and enjoyed) Beautiful Disaster but I planned to read its spin-offs in the coming months.

I can’t remember how this book was marketed to me but I knew I wanted to read it. Reading the synopsis prior to starting it for my #ARCAugust 2018 Challenge, I was hoping for a slightly suspenseful yet heartfelt read about two people finding each other in an unlikely place.

What I Liked:

–Darby’s Strength to Leave Her Abusive Fiance–

I started out really liking Darby. She definitely has her flaws but I liked the little bit of strength and resiliency that I saw when she makes the decision to leave her fiance on their wedding day at the start of the book. That takes guts to leave everything behind and essentially live on the run to take care of your unborn baby. I admired her drive to do that as she comes across as a very dependent person given her circumstances.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Nothing Really Happens–

I swear that the first 10 chapters alternate between Darby rejecting everyone’s offers of help (tiresome even if it is understandable) and Trex’s weirdly secret job. That last one is what irked me the most. I don’t want to read a FULL chapter about some purposely vague government operation that I can’t know about–what does that have to do with the story? Jamie McGuire does that “intentionally left out” information in her books all the time and it drives me NUTS.

–Everything Hits You Like a Slap in the Face–

I won’t tell you the number of times I’m just reading along and then BAM! Revelation from the past suddenly–and out of nowhere–appears. Darby’s dropping stuff about previous abuse; Trex is suddenly in love with her after literally saying 5 words to her. I had to reread a few things to just be sure I had a grasp on things. It all felt a little forced in the end.

–Love At First Sight–

I have a low tolerance for love at first sight but I can admit that sometimes it has its place. This isn’t it.

I didn’t get why Trex was so in love with Darby after literally running into her in the hall. Perhaps that was because I didn’t really know Darby either so what makes her so appealing? I didn’t really connect with either character so their romance came up dry for me.

Will I Finish It?

Nope. There was one character I was interested in and if she gets a book, maybe I’ll read it but I’m not returning to Darby’s story anytime soon.

My Rating: DNF

From Here to You DNF | Book 2 TBP

overall

This book just didn’t come across as organic to me. Everything felt a little forced and as a result, I didn’t get invested into the characters or the story like I wished.

Read if You Like: slower stories, insta-love
Avoid if You: dislike secrets, dislike insta-love, are triggered by abuse

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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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Series Review: Stage Dive by Kylie Scott

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 Lick (from Goodreads):

Waking up in Vegas was never meant to be like this.

Evelyn Thomas’s plans for celebrating her twenty-first birthday in Las Vegas were big. Huge. But she sure never meant to wake up on the bathroom floor with a hangover to rival the black plague, a very attractive half-naked tattooed man in her room, and a diamond on her finger large enough to scare King Kong. Now if she could just remember how it all happened.

One thing is certain, being married to one of the hottest rock stars on the planet is sure to be a wild ride.

breakdown

Series: Stage Dive

There is a spin-off series called Dive Bar

Author: Kylie Scott
# of Books: 4 (Lick, Play, Lead, Deep)

There is a novella, #4.5 Strong

Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Rockstar, Music
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: October 2013 – March 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook (Lick); Audiobook; eARC (Strong)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

We all know that rockstars are my kryptonite so of course I would pick this up! I’ve heard great things about Kylie Scott’s works as well so I was excited to start this series.

The Plot:

There isn’t too much else to the plot besides these budding romances and the obstacles in the way, which worked for me. You get your typical drama but I never felt like things were overly dramatic.

I will say that because these are faster reads, some of the plot issues are resolved quicker than I like to see. But I was always entertained when reading to I can let that slide.

The Characters:

One of my biggest complaints about Lick (Book #1) was that the characters didn’t seemed as developed as I wanted them to be. They go through the motions of evolving as characters but we don’t get below the surface with them. But I didn’t feel that way with Lead (Book #3). I thought we had some great insight into the characters and their pasts. Unfortunately, Deep (Book #4) had the same problems as Lick did so that was disappointing, especially after I loved Lead as much as I did.

I also have to say that I did not like our hero at all in Play (Book #2). He was wayyyy too much for me to handle and I found him to be super annoying.

The Romance:

It was the lack of chemistry between the leads in Play (Book #2) that had me DNFing this book just after the first quarter mark. I just didn’t see how those two meshed at all and so watching their scenes together was just painful for me. It felt forced and a dash overly dramatic as well. Even watching their interactions in later books had me feeling good about my decision to not finish their story.

I also struggled with the romance a bit in Book #4, Deep. I just felt like our leads interacted for very little of the book and so I missed seeing that deeper connection form. And that’s a shame because I really loved the chemistry and slow burn romances that Lick (#1) and Lead (#3) had and I wished that transferred through.

When to read the novella, #4.5 Strong:

I would read this after you read Deep (#4) just because the romance is alluded too more in that book than any others (though our heroine is introduced in Lick [#1]).

>> You can read my full review of Strong here as a part of the release Blog Tour!

My Audiobook Experience:

I managed to read the eBook copy from my “big city” library before my card expired and then had to rely on my local library for copies. But they only had the audiobooks–which worked for me because I am becoming a huge audiobook listening. Andi Arndt does the narration for the entire series and she is fabulous! Definitely one of my favourite female narrators for audiobooks. She managed to have unique voices for all the girls from book to book.

Series Rating: 3/5

Lick 4/5 | Play DNF | Lead 5/5 | Deep 2/5 | [Strong 3/5]

overall

I was really all over the place with this series but those looking for cute, quick romances featuring rockstars and strong heroines will likely find themselves entertained.

Read if You Like: quick romances, rockstars
Avoid if You: want deeper characters
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