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

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Fresh Fridays: Dirty Obsession (Dirty #1) by Ella Miles

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:

Dirty Series

Other books planned to be in the series:
book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Dirty Obsession (from Goodreads):

Arlo Carini saved my life, only to destroy it.

When I first met him, he was the wealthy, powerful, sexy stranger giving me and a dozen other art history students a tour of his mansion. But he soon became my everything.

My savior. My lover. My obsession.

He tried to warn me. Every chance he could, he tried to get me to run far, far away. But it only made my obsession grow stronger. Until I made the worst mistake I could. And ended up trapped forever.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: Dirty
Author: Ella Miles
# of Books: 3 (Dirty Obsession, Dirty Addiction, Book 3)

There is a prequel novella: #0.5 Dirty Beginning included in Dirty Obsession

Book Order: Connected but Chronological Events
Complete?: No, Dirty Addiction will be released April 2018
Genre: Adult, Dark, Romance, Contemporary, Erotica
Heat Rating: Smokin’ (Kink: Major | BDSM: High)
Point of View: First Person, Multiple
Publication Date: January 18, 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Author–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Ella Miles never fails to disappoint me when it comes to her books. I always think I’m going to get one story but I end up with another–one that never fails to entertain and surprise me.

I love a good dark romance and after reading the novella, Dirty Beginning, I was curious to see what was in story next for these characters.

What I Liked:

–Dark and Twisted–

This is probably one of the darkest romances I’ve ever read. It’s deliciously dark and twisted which means it isn’t for the faint of heart. If you don’t enjoy dark erotic romances, don’t pick this up! But if you do, you are in for a treat!

This story did keep me on my toes. You always get the sense that there is more lurking underneath with all the characters involved and I loved the tension that brought to the story. I became a little obsessed (pun intended) trying to figure out what was happening and why. And the twists when everything is revealed (and how it ties back to the novella, Dirty Beginning): awesome.

–The Characters–

I really enjoyed the main characters we get to meet. You’ve got your very evil villain; the mysterious hero and a strong heroine. Nina is very likeable, more so in this book than in the novella I think. She has some solid character growth from start to end which I always appreciate!

What I Didn’t Like:

–Wanted More Allusion to the “Game”–

I do wish the “game” was allude to more than it was throughout the novel. Just some little hints along the way would have been great. Even though the game is always afoot, I felt like we got a little too wrapped up in the sex scenes at times and I wanted a little more insight into the “why” of it all.

When to read the Prequel Novella: Dirty Beginning?

Definitely before you read Dirty Obsession! It gives you context for the first novel and introduces you to all the key players. You could get by without reading it but seeing as it is included in the Dirty Obsession, just read it!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m very excited for the next set of leads. I have a particular soft spot for our hero so I can’t wait for him to meet his match!

My Rating: 4/5

[Dirty Beginning 3/5] | Dirty Obsession 4/5| Dirty Addiction TBP | Book 3 TBP

overall

Perfect for fans of truly dark romances and sexy times! But if you don’t enjoy erotica or more graphic scenes, don’t pick this up!

Read if You Like: slower stories, world-building, alternate dimensions
Avoid if You: dislike dark romances, dislike erotica, love triangles

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Series Review: Sons of Broad by Tara Thomas

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

Sons of Broad Series

book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Darkest Night (from Goodreads):

Keaton Benedict is the notorious playboy of Charleston’s streets. The youngest brother in the ruthless clan of men that run the biggest shipping industry in the South, he’s got money to burn and time to play. But there’s one woman for whom Keaton would give up everything he has just to kiss her one more time—the beautiful girl he loved when he was just a teenager. And when he finds her waitressing at an upscale gentlemen’s club the same night as a gruesome murder of one of the dancers, Keaton knows he must do everything he can to protect her.

Tilly Brock has learned the hard way to take care of herself. Once the daughter of a wealthy, well-bred Southern family, her life fell apart when her father was accused of embezzling money from Benedict Industries—an accusation that left her family destitute, and ripped Tilly away from the only boy she knew she would ever love. But just as she slowly reenters Keaton’s world of wealth and status, an enemy of Benedict industries is out there, biding his time, waiting to make his next move…

As the killer draws Tillly and Keaton closer into his dark web, they must uncover the threat that hunts them, before it’s too late.

breakdown

Series: Sons of Broad
Author: Tara Thomas (aka Tara Sue Me)
# of Books: 3 (Darkest Night, Deadly Secret, Broken Promise)

There are 3 prequel novellas: Shattered Fear, Hidden Fate, Twisted End.

Book Order: Connected but Chronological Events
Complete?: No, Broken Promise, will be published June 2018
Genre: Adult, Romantic Suspense, Contemporary, Mystery
Heat Rating: hot
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: February 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Netgalley –eBook | Thank you St Martin’s Press!

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.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m always on the look out for a solid romantic suspense novel. I love thrillers and I love romances–so the genre should be a no brainer. However, I haven’t had the best luck with the genre but this one had promise.

I loved the idea of the prequel novellas setting up the world prior to the main installments. I also loved the promise of dirty family secrets and forbidden love.

What I Liked:

–Many Layers–

There are a lot of things at play here and thanks to the mysterious chapters we get from the villain, The Gentleman, I was hooked. I started coming up with various theories, attempting to solve everything myself only to be thwarted later on by another development. We didn’t get too many answers but it has me eager for the sequel.

–Romantic Chemistry–

I was immediately a fan of Tilly and Keaton’s romance. They have this great chemistry together the moment they are reunited and it made reading their scenes together such a joy. And I could see the inklings of other romances in the works which adds this other layer of anticipation for the sequels.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Somewhat Rushed Romance–

That being said, I felt like the romance fell prey to one of my classic issues with the romantic suspense novel: a rushed connection. I find that the danger of the plot speeds up the romantic connection and the development of the romance isn’t as strong as it could be. There is a lot of baggage between them but it gets glossed over due to the circumstances. I kind-of expected that thanks to my experience with the genre but from the novellas as well.

–Only Scratches the Surface–

While there was definitely potential to deepen the romance, I also think the dramatic plotline could have been a little more solid in its delivery. There’s a lot going on (which is a big “plus” for me) but I felt like nothing got answered. Not that I want everything answered in one novel–I absolutely love the idea of this overarching secret plot–but I still felt like some things could have been a little more resolved or built up a little more.

It’s hard to explain what I’m saying. I guess the best way to phrase it is that I loved all the aspects of the story, I just wanted more from them.

When to Read the Novellas:

You definitely don’t have to read the novellas before you read the novel. They basically expand upon some facts that get mentioned in Darkest Night (that will likely get further elaborated on later in the series once those characters return).

I did read all the novellas first and was glad that I did. They really set the scene for this series. You get a feel for everything that is at play and it provides some additional moments with some crucial characters for the full novels. They also have a more “mystery” feel to them as the lead heroine attempts to solve the murders.

updates

–March 20, 2018– Book #2: Deadly Secret

I felt like everything in this novel hit the right note. There was this great balance between the suspense, the mystery and the romance. At no point did the plot ever feel stagnant because there was always something happening. If we weren’t learning more about Knox and Bea’s relationship we were learning more about the overarching mystery of the series or someone’s life was in danger.

I did find that the big twist at the end was somewhat predictable but I will be the first to admit that the larger mystery (and how that twist fits into everything) is still unknown to me. This book did a great job leading us into the finale and I can’t wait to see how this will all wrap up!

My Rating: 3/5

Darkest Night 3/5 | Deadly Secret 4/5 | Broken Promise TBP

overall

Fans of romantic suspense novels will LOVE this series!

Read if You Like: romantic suspense, murder mysteries
Avoid if You: want more erotica
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Series Review: Breakaway by L P Dover

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 Hard Stick (from Goodreads):

He carries a big stick. And he’s not afraid to use it.

On the ice, I’m Kellan Carter, powerhouse enforcer for the Charlotte Strikers. Off the ice, I’m just a regular guy. The last thing I want is to get mobbed by a bunch of groupies who are only after me for my fame and money. My ideal woman knows how to enjoy a little good, clean fun—and maybe some not-so-clean fun too. That’s the kind of girl I’d never let go.

When Kristen Robinson, the gorgeous, down-to-earth bartender I’ve been crushing on, agrees to let me take her out, I’m thrilled. We have an amazing night together, culminating in the most electrifying kiss of my life—and that’s it. Kristen tells me we can’t see each other again, but I know that kiss meant as much to her as it did to me. What I don’t know is that Kristen has a dangerous secret. . . .

I’ve proved to Kristen that she can trust me with her body and her heart. But when her past comes back to haunt her, I need to prove that she can trust me with her life. And I might have to get my hands dirty after all.

breakdown

Series: Breakaway
Author: L P Dover
# of Books: 3 (Hard Stick, Blocked, Playmaker)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes – I think
Genre: Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Sports, Hockey
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: June 2017 – February 2018
Source & Format: Own–Kindle (Hard Stick, Blocked); Netgalley (Playmaker)

Only Book #3 Playmaker was provided for review purposes.

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a living embodiment of the Canadian stereotype that we like live hockey. While I might not watch the NHL every week, I watch every international tournament and won’t say no to watching a game in person.

So it’s no surprise my love of hockey has translated to my reading preferences as well. I’m a sucker for a hockey sports romance and when I read the synopsis for Playmaker, I just had to read it. When I discovered there were two other books (and they sounded good too!) I bought copies for my Kindle and dove right in!

The World:

I’ve never read an L P Dover novel before but she has a LOT of titles out there. If you are a fan of her work, I think you will enjoy some of the cameos that happen in Hard Stick (#1) from previous series. I love when authors integrate series together like this!

The Plot:

One thing I really liked about these series is that each book has a different take on the romance novel. It’s easy to do with series that are a collection of standalones but very few authors make each novel so different from each other; they usually stick to the same tone and tropes. However, this series has a different flavour to each novel. Hard Stick is a romantic suspense; Blocked is more your classic “off-limits” romance; and Playmaker is a second chance story. It just made everything seem unique and fresh when I picked up the next novel.

However, I did find that the same rushed plot was in all the novels (though not as much in Playmaker #3). Conflict is revolved with a snap of the fingers it seems and that stifled some of the character and plot development that could have occurred.

The Characters:

I liked the fact that all our leads have their own unique personalities. I didn’t feel like I was reading carbon copies throughout the series.

I have to give a shoutout to Maddox who is the lead in Playmaker (#3) because he has the best development of anyone in the series. I didn’t have the greatest impression of him in Hard Stick (#1) but he very quickly redeemed himself in Playmaker. I love a “bad-boy-gone-good” story and his was awesome.

The Romance:

I had the same issues with the romance as I did with the plot: it happens very quickly. All the relationships were very insta-love to me and seemed rushed. We don’t get to see that deeper connection with the characters and that stopped me from seeing these relationships as anything but lust-driven.

Series Rating: 3/5

Hard Stick 3/5 | Blocked 3/5 | Playmaker 3.5/5

overall

If you are looking for some quick sports romances that feature some hot hockey players, check this out!

Read if You Like: sports romances, quick reads
Avoid if You: dislike insta-love

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Blog Tour: Cross Stroke (On the Edge #1) by Elizabeth Hartey

Synopsis for Cross Stroke (from Goodreads):

Tracey…

One night left my heart shattered and my reputation ruined, and now my only hope is to transfer to another university far from home. Although I’m a champion figure skater and am used to succeeding, I can’t dump the burden of distrust and intimacy I’m carrying.

But when I literally crash into the cocky captain of the hockey team, sparks fly, and the attraction is as undeniable as it is unwanted.

No way is this arrogant hottie the one to help me move past my fears. Or is he…?

Dak…

Overwhelmed with guilt and remorse, I can’t forget the tragic accident that killed my first love. To avoid ever feeling that kind of agonizing loss again, I vow to stick with one-night stands with every puck bunny who glides my way and focus on keeping my position on the hockey team.

But after I meet a feisty figure skater and am then thrown together with her as a lab partner, I find I want to melt the icy walls we’ve built around our hearts.

If we don’t strangle each other first.

Other books in the series:
book3 book4

breakdown

Series: On the Edge
Author: Elizabeth Hartey
# of Books: 4 (Cross Stroke, Cross Drop, Book 3, Book 4)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, sequels are in the works
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sports
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: January 16, 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Enticing Journey Book Promotions–eARC

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon / Barnes and Noble

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I love a good sports romance. I especially love the romances that have a “hate to love you” vibe to them. And throw in the “lab partner” trope and you have me sold! I was really excited to glide (see what I did there?) into Dak and Tracey’s story about learning to love again with someone you least expect.

The Plot:

I really enjoyed the start because these two just kept running into each other much to Tracey’s dismay. But near the middle of the book, the pacing just got a little weird for me. That was around the time their relationship becomes more physical and the rest of the story takes a backseat. But it definitely won me over by the end again.

The Characters:

I loved Dakota immediately. He was so adorable in his attraction to Tracey. And the whole mix up at the start was fun to read. I wish it was strung out a little further because it was entertaining to read. But I also liked his backstory and how scared he was to truly care about someone again.

Tracey I had a harder time getting a read on. She has quite the backstory, so rightfully so, she’s a bit of a mess. But I found her character to be all over the place. I’m not sure if she had maybe too much on her plate and that overwhelmed her as a character. Nevertheless, she really does have some great development though near the end so I appreciated that.

The Romance:

One of the really noteworthy things about these two was their communication. I loved how these two talked about their past and put everything out there early on. It helped cement a relationship of understanding to build their relationship on. However, I needed to see more of that emotional connection in the middle of the book. By that point, the focus shifts to their physical chemistry and I wanted to see that friendship/emotional connection grow more. There’s no denying the heated chemistry between these two but I loved those moments of reflection and discussion we saw earlier in the book.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I am very, very excited for Nikki’s book and seeing the rest the boys get their stories!

My Rating: 3/5

Cross Stroke 3/5 | Book 2 TBP

overall
Despite the slight thaw in the middle, this book has a unique take on a learning to love again romance. Fans of sport romances will love the chemistry between these two!

Read if You Like: sport romances, learning to love again stories
Avoid if You: dislike sexy times

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Elizabeth Hartey

As a lover of the northeast US, Elizabeth moved with her husband to the Poconos several years ago to open a Chiropractic Clinic. Four children and a menagerie of animals later, she has finally found time to fulfill her lifelong dream of writing novels. The wild ride of writing books is one of the most difficult things she’s ever done in her life. But the opportunity to get her stories out of her head and down on paper and send them out into the world is also one of the most wonderful things she’s ever done. A dreamer at heart, romance is the genre she spends most of her time writing and reading into the wee hours of the morning. And having readers fall in love with her characters as much as she does is almost as exciting as giving birth (just not as painful!) When not juggling work responsibilities and writing, she enjoys spending time with her family, hiking the beautiful hills and woods around her home, swimming, knitting, watching old classic movies and travelling. As an avid hockey fan she has to compromise with her husband—one night of hockey for her in exchange for a night of football for him.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

 


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Spin-off Saturdays: Sea Breeze Meets Rosemary Beach by Abbi Glines

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

Sea Breeze Meets Rosemary Beach Series is a spin-off of the Sea Breeze Series and the Rosemary Beach Series

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author, Most Read Author
Series:

This is a spinoff of the the Sea Breeze Series and the Rosemary Beach Series.

Author: Abbi Glines
# of Books: 2 (Like a Memory, Because of Lila)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Unsure
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Drama
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: February 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Own & Public Library–eBook

warning
WARNING: If you have not finished the original Sea Breeze and/or Rosemary Beach series, this review may have spoilers!

thoughts

My Expectations?

Well, I’ve been waiting for this series since I finished the last book in the Sea Breeze Series nearly 3 years ago, before the Rosemary Beach Series was completed. You see, we got this little epilogue that features the leads of Like a Memory and I knew from those few pages that another epic series was on the way.

I didn’t expect this series to be released in 2017 but I couldn’t wait to dive in. Watching the offspring of all the couples I’ve fallen in love with over the years get their own chance at HEA? Not everyone gets that chance with their favourite series.

How Does It Compare To The Original?

It’s like the perfect hybrid between the Sea Breeze and Rosemary Beach Series. You’ve got the slower, sweet nature of the Sea Breeze stories but it has that dash of over the top drama Rosemary Beach is known for.

And everything is so intricate! These character’s all intersect each other in interesting ways and it just gets you invested in finding out what happens next.

Not to mention, entirely addicting reads: just like their predecessors.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

In particular with Like a Memory the one dramatic twist I could have done without. I feel like it just took things a little too far and it actually caused me to rate the book lower than I would have up until that point.

I also felt like these stories did a lot more telling than showing when it comes to the romance. I wanted to see why these couples wanted to be together and not just be told that they had these deeper feelings.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Damn, I hope everyone gets a story 😛 I’m always entertained by anything Abbi Glines reads so I’m looking forward to seeing what she comes up with next.

Series Rating: 3.5/5

Like a Memory 3.5/5 | Because of Lila 3.5/5

overall

Fans of (either) original series will love the next generation. But for those entirely new to Glines’ work will surely become invested in seeing the origins of this series.

Read if You Like: drama, contemporary, romance
Avoid if You: dislike soap opera-esque drama
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booksynopsis

Synopsis for Like a Memory (from Goodreads):

One memory.
One special summer.
The one thing Bliss had lost herself in when the fear and sickness were too much, moments never to be damaged by the harsh reality that followed… until now.

Bliss York didn’t live a normal teenage life. She didn’t go to Friday night football games, walk the halls with her friends every day, go to her prom or even walk to receive her diploma. It had all been taken from her the fall that she was fifteen years old and she was given the diagnosis no one ever wants to hear.

She had leukemia.

Seven years after spending a summer with a girl who he knew would always be his first love and the one who got away, Nate Finlay returns to Sea Breeze to help his fiancé open her new boutique clothing store. When the new employee walks in Nate is taken back seven years to the girl he thought he’d love forever. The one who never answered his calls or returned his text. The one who shut him out completely with not even a goodbye and broke his heart.

They’ve each become someone different. No longer the young teens with stars in their eyes. But does that matter when your heart still says that’s the one.

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Fresh Fridays: The Client (Playing Dirty #1) by Pamela DuMond

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:

Playing Dirty Series

Other books in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Client (from Goodreads):

I was an underpaid assistant working at a matchmaking agency, surviving on Insta-Ramen and dreams. How was it possible that I made a love match that resulted in the society marriage of the year?

Christmas season was upon us and I planned on enjoying this gorgeous wedding by drinking too much Champagne, eating 5 star food, and relaxing for a change.

I didn’t plan on running into the smoking hot, tuxedo-clad brick wall of a man.

I didn’t plan on him stopping my fall by grabbing onto my boob and Not. Letting. Go.

I most definitely didn’t plan on this gorgeous man being my new CLIENT.

Joe was heir to the Delacroix Hotel fortune, whip smart, hilariously funny, and so yummy. I was tempted to… good God I wanted to… but sleeping with clients was a big, fat ‘No-No.’

It wasn’t fair that our chemistry was through the roof. Not possible that a guy from his side of the tracks wanted someone as broken as me. Practically a sin that we couldn’t be together.

Weren’t some rules meant to be broken?

breakdown

Series: Playing Dirty
Author: Pamela DuMond
# of Books: 2 (The Client, The Matchmaker)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, The Matchmaker is to be published in Februrary 2018
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Comedy
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: September 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Read It & Review It–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I was drawn to the premise of The Client for two reasons. 1) I love when couples meet in bizarre ways and 2) forbidden romance. The tension is always thick, the banter is always on point and I just find myself thoroughly entertained by the whole thing!

What I Liked:

–The Banter–

I loved the banter between Charlotte and Joe. I’m always wary when a book says it’s a comedy because I usually find myself not laughing at the jokes. But I definitely had a few chuckles as I read this. If I wasn’t laughing at the witty back-and-forths between them as I was chuckling at the various situations they found themselves in. They had such explosive chemistry the instant they met and I loved every time they were together.

–Charlotte’s Job–

It wasn’t that Charlotte was necessarily a matchmaker that I loved; it was how she interacted with her clients by doing things that were out of her element or being an unexpected badass at whatever activity they were doing. I just found the whole thing to be entertaining.

–Background Stories–

I thought the character development was pretty solid. I’m glad we got to delve into their respective pasts a bit; it just rounds out their characters a little more.

What I Didn’t Like:

Slightly Misleading Synopsis–

I will say that I thought the synopsis was slightly misleading. When I read it, I thought that these two had one meeting and then the next day, she learns he is her newest client. And that’s not the case at all. There’s a little more build up to that “Oh No!” moment and I actually liked that a whole lot more because you get a little more familiar with the characters before the real magic happens.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m so excited to see what happens in The Matchmaker. I was immediately drawn to Violet’s character in this story and I can’t wait to see the hi-jinks that will ensue during this match!

My Rating: 4/5

The Client 4/5 | The Matchmaker TBP

overall

This is the perfect pick-me-up for contemporary romance fans who like a little fun to their romance reads!

Read if You Like: in love with client stories, comedic romances
Avoid if You: dislike lighter contemporaries

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Series Review: Freedom by Bella d’Amour

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

Freedom Series

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Free to Play (from Goodreads):

He’s a player and she’s ready to play… but what happens when the fun gets serious?

“Brent, will you be my first?”

Joey is mortified to face Brent the next morning after letting the question slip in a weak moment. She’s shocked when Brent not only agrees but proposes a friends with benefits arrangement. How can she accept when it threatens what’s most important to her: her friendship with his sister, her new job with his football team, her self-respect when an ex-girlfriend is suddenly back in the picture – and her heart?

After years of working hard to fulfill his responsibilities, Brent is finally enjoying his life – with women who want nothing more than a good time. But when Joey asks him to be her first lover, he can’t resist finally getting his hands on her luscious body, one he’d been lusting after for years. Only problem is, once isn’t enough. He’s not ready to give up his hard-earned freedom nor is he ready for a woman to invade his life – or his heart. When demons from his past come back to haunt him, will he let them ruin what he’s found with Joey?

breakdown

Series: Freedom Series
Author: Bella d’Amour
# of Books: 2 (Free to Play, Free to Live)
Book Order: Companion
Complete?: No
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sports
Heat Rating: hot
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: November 27, 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Author–eARC | Thanks so much Bella d’Amour!

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.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a sucker for the “in love with BFF’s brother trope”. I just love all the delicious tension it brings when two people inevitabley fall for each other (if they aren’t secretly in love with the other person already). I wasn’t sure what the case was going to be here, but I was excited to dive into Free to Play.

What I Liked:

–Fantastic Chemistry–

These two had great chemistry from the start! Their attraction to each other is palpable and I loved every moment shared between them. They make such a great pair and part of the reason is that:

–They Actually Talked to Each Other!–

Don’t worry, there are plenty of steamy moments between the two of them. However, they had these great moments of conversation where they discussed their hopes and fears among other topics. I like seeing that emotional connection be established in my romances and this one succeeds beautifully.

–Building Joey’s Self-Esteem–

I love stories where the heroine learns to be confident in herself. Sometimes that’s hard to do in a romance because all too often, the heroine only become more independent by becoming dependent on the hero/their relationship. (I know that’s confusing but I hope you get what I am saying). And while Brent does help Joey build her self-esteem when it comes to her body image, I would say he is a vehicle for her start to see herself in a different light, not the sole reason. He helps her to see herself outside the stereotypes she’s boxed herself into and once that seed is planted, she learns to grow on her own. I loved that.

This isn’t to say that Brent doesn’t have great character development. He too goes on a journey where he grows up and figures out what is truly important in his life and I liked that a lot.

What I Didn’t Like:

–A Tad Too Dramatic Near the End–

I get why certain things happened at the end. They help enhance the lessons of the novel and that’s great. But this novel felt so grounded for so long that I didn’t entirely enjoy all the (slightly) over the top drama that occurs. Again, I know why everything happens as it does, I just wish it didn’t.

However, we have more than enough time to wrap everything up nicely so win!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m super excited for the sequel! I loved Brent’s family and I hope they become the focus of the sequel novels. I already have a hypothesis of who the next book involves so I can’t wait to see if I’m right!

updates

–April 15, 2018– Book #2: Free to Live

I had my suspicions about who the leads for book 2 would be and I was not disappointed!

Despite the quick initial spark with these two shared, I loved the slow burn of this romance. It gave the romance an edge of anticipation knowing that they had crossed the line but were holding back despite their every need not to. I loved watching these two get to know each other and breakdown those barriers that they had erected in the past to stop the pain of falling in love only to be hurt later.

In this story, I think it’s our hero who gets more time to shine but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. He definitely had the more convoluted history and I enjoyed the mystery of uncovering that past so he could move forward. I would have liked to have seen a little more from the heroine in terms of development, but I think she was a great compliment to our hero’s story.

We get just a taste of what the future might hold in terms of possible sequels and I know that I’m definitely sticking around to see what will happen next!

My Rating: 4/5

Free to Play 4/5 | Free to Live 4/5

overall

If you love character-strong romances, pick this series up!

Read if You Like: sport romances, heroines building self-esteem
Avoid if You: dislike steamier reads, dislike contemporary romance

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DNF Series Review: Youngblood by Liz Reinhardt

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 Fall Guy (from Goodreads):

Evan Lennox is going nowhere fast. She’s living with her grandparents after her parents bailed on her, she got kicked out of her posh private school, her ex-boyfriend proved to be the biggest sleaze imaginable, her former best friend is a back-stabber, and her current best friend is stuck in backwoods NJ. To top it all off, one teeny, tiny fire she lit to burn some memories of her ex goes a little out of control and winds up igniting a good piece of a very powerful family’s pecan orchard.

Evan lands her pampered behind in court and gets sentenced to community service. Which she knows she deserves. But the hard labor and humiliation may be her undoing.

Until she meets Winchester Youngblood on the site.

Everything about him is tricky, confusing, not at all what it seems, and so sexy, Evan can’t resist pulling closer. But every step she takes to get to know him gives her more of a reason to back up and put him as far out of life as she possibly can. Because Winch is one hundred percent complicated, and Evan isn’t looking for that. At all. She needs to meet a nice, responsible guy, not share searing kisses with the charming hustler she met after they both got sentenced in court.

But Winch is so much more than what he seems, and Evan finds out that she’s falling hard for the guy everyone underestimates and writes off. And Winch realizes that Evan is the one person who’s ever challenged him to ask for more out of his life, and her courage inspires him to try to be the person she sees when she looks at him. With every single odd stacked against them, Evan and Winch need to find out whether they have what it takes to fall for each other.

breakdown

Series: Youngblood

This is a spinoff of the Brenna Blixen Series.

Author: Liz Reinhardt
# of Books: 2 (Fall Guy, Perfectly Unmatched)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult/New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Hot *Spicy YA*
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: September – December 2012
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading Fall Guy at 17% (Middle of Chapter 4). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m not sure how I came across this one years ago. I bought The Fall Guy in September 2013, around the time I became interested in the New Adult genre and was getting my hands on anything in the genre so I can assume that is the reason why.

What drew me to this title is the concept of these two meeting in community service after committing crimes. I like romances that start in different ways and I hadn’t come across something like this before.

What I Liked:

–Alternating POVs–

I like my romances to have alternating POVs because it provides better character development. It gives you insight into both characters and allows you to get a better understanding of who they are.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Set in High School–

I thought this was going to take place in college, not while Evan was still in high school. I kinda missed the “kicked out of her private school” part of the synopsis so it threw me for a loop when in the next chapter she talks about going to school. And while Evan is in high school, I think Winch is actually in his 20s. Which is fine but it rubbed me the wrong way because he acts like he is in high school sometimes. He just lacked that much needed maturity.

And you know when high schoolers start acting like they are privileged 30 year olds? Totally got those vibes here and it makes everything seem so over the top.

–I-want-you-I-don’t-want-you Tug of War–

I’m all for sexual tension but this was a little too much for me. They were constantly eyeballing each other’s body parts and getting ready for sexy times between tiny bouts of banter. Then, when they would try to progress further, one of them would pull away knowing that they shouldn’t let this relationship develop any further.

I read some other reviews while contemplating whether or not to continue and lots of people stated this was something that continues for the rest of the novel. I don’t mind back and forth for a small portion of the novel, but the entire thing, it’s just too repetitive for me.

Will I Finish It?

Never mind the fact that I can’t get the second novel through any eBook store in Canada, but this one just isn’t for me any more. So I will not be finishing it.

Series Rating: DNF

Fall Guy DNF | Perfectly Unmatched N/A

overall

If you like over the top YA/NA contemporaries, this is a good one for you!

Read if You Like: soap operas, lifestyles of rich
Avoid if You: want more depth to your romances
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Series Review: Atlanta Affair by Isabella Rae

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

book4

booksynopsis

Synopsis for A Workplace Affair (from Goodreads):

There are those once in a lifetime opportunities that come along, that in your wildest dreams would never happen to you. When independent Victoria Bryant’s opportunity comes, a climb up the corporate ladder turns into an affair with the owner. Now she must make decisions that will change her life forever. Will she choose to forgive the man she’s grown to love, or watch him walk away and give up everything that might have been…..

When Leland Ambrose started his company he was young and in charge, but when he meets Victoria, he discovers a weakness he hadn’t counted on. A weakness so great that his company could pay the price. Will he stand up for the woman he loves, or protect the company he’s worked so hard to build…

breakdown

Series: Atlanta Affair
Author: Isabella Rae
# of Books: 4 (A Workplace Affair, A Sweet Affair, A Wedding Affair, A Hidden Affair)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, Hidden Affair, is slated to be published
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: September 2013 – ongoing
Source & Format: Own–Kindle

thoughts

Disclaimer: After finishing A Workplace Affair (Book 1), I opted not to continue this series. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Have you ever put a book on your TBR list, excited to read it and then when you finally do years later, you can’t remember why you were so excited to read it? That’s me with this series.

I was really excited to read A Workplace Affair. It was marked on my Kindle Wishlist for a long time and I finally snagged a copy when the price dropped to $1 a few years ago. I think I was eager to try another contemporary romance after loving the Worth It Series by Karen Erickson. Or, I was mixing it up with Kristen Proby’s With Me in Seattle Series. Regardless, I remember being excited to read it when I bought it but when I reread the synopsis just before I started it, I didn’t have that same enthusiasm but I went in with an open mind.

What I Liked:

–The Integration of the Secondary Characters–

In a series where the sequels involve secondary characters, its always a nice to get to know them before hand so you are invested in getting their stories in the next novel. A Workplace Affair did a good job at giving you a little taste of all the subsequent leads and making you curious about their lifestories.

What I Didn’t Like:

–A Very Rushed Romance–

This story was a classic case of love at first sight. Leland sees Victoria and instantly has to have her. I think they talk twice before he is asking her to move in. I get instant connections but these two had hardly had a conversation before they were making these life altering decisions. Ugh.

–Unnecessary Drama–

One of my biggest pet peeves in contemporary romances is the communication assumption. You know, when the characters assume something to be true but never seek confirmation and drama ensues. But what’s even worse is when the character(s) purposely leave something out. Absolutely frustrating.

Spoiler: Unnecessary Drama Example #1

Leland has decided that he wants to move to Atlanta because he knows it’s too much for Victoria to move to NYC. So when she tells him she is willing to move, he says he doesn’t want her to move in with him anymore…and leaves it at that. Full well knowing it will drive Victoria away because he has a “surprise” (aka he is moving to Atlanta to be with her). Why couldn’t he just say that?!!??!?!

[collapse]

The other time is when Victoria knows that what has happened is outside of Leland’s control, gets that there is nothing he can do but then proceeds to be super upset by it. And I get that the situation was upsetting but I felt like she really blew things out of proportions.

Will I Finish It?

I do have A Sweet Affair on my Kindle since I picked it up as a freebie years ago but given my experience with A Workplace Affair, I’m not too optimistic that I will enjoy the rest of the series.

Series Rating: DNF

A Workplace Affair 2/5 | A Sweet Affair N/A | A Wedding Affair N/A | A Hidden Affair TBR

overall

If you like quick romances and don’t mind some cliche plot lines, you will likely enjoy this series! Otherwise, there are stronger adult contemporary romances out there.

Read if You Like: insta-love, workplace romances, quick stories
Avoid if You: dislike cliche plots

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Series Review: Dance Off by Alexis Daria

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

Dance Off Duology

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Take the Lead (from Goodreads):

Gina Morales wants to win. It’s her fifth season on The Dance Off, a top-rated network TV celebrity dance competition, and she’s never even made it to the finals. When she meets her latest partner, she sees her chance. He’s handsome, rippling with muscles, and he stars on the popular Alaskan wilderness reality show Living Wild. With his sexy physique and name recognition, she thinks he’s her ticket to the finals—until she realizes they’re being set up.

Stone Nielson hates Los Angeles, he hates reality TV, and he hates that fact that he had to join the cast of the The Dance Off because of family obligations. He can’t wait to get back to Alaska, but he also can’t deny his growing attraction to his bubbly Puerto Rican dance partner. Neither of them are looking for romantic entanglements, and Stone can’t risk revealing his secrets, but as they heat up the dance floor, it’s only a matter of time until he feels an overwhelming urge to take the lead.

When the tabloids catch on to their developing romance, the spotlight threatens to ruin not just their relationship, but their careers and their shot at the trophy. Gina and Stone will have to decide if their priorities lie with fame, fortune, or the chance at a future together.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fav Contemporary 2017, To Watch Author
Series: Dance Off
Author: Alexis Daria
# of Books: 2 (Take the Lead, Dance With Me)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama, Celebrity
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: October 2017 – December 2017
Source & Format: Netgalley–eBook | Thank You St. Martin’s Press – Swerve!

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.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I was very excited to start this book. The biggest draw: the opposites attract storyline. I love when unlikely romances blossom between two people. But I also loved the reality TV aspect. I like books that explore what happens when the cameras aren’t rolling (or perhaps unknowingly rolling).

What I Liked:

–The Chemistry–

I felt the connection between these two immediately. I’m talking within seconds of them meeting for the first time. That’s quite an accomplishment for a writer when fresh new characters are introduced.

The tension between them is so, so good. They have this magnetism between them that I positively adore. It was so apparent to me why these two would be drawn to each other and how love could grow between them. They have that deeper connection to them and I couldn’t get enough of it in the book.

–The Characters–

After reading this book, I wish that Gina was a real person. Not only did I love her character and personality, I also respected her work ethic and self-awareness. It’s really inspiring to read about a heroine who doesn’t define herself by her romantic relationships but on her own hard work and cares about the image she is presenting to the young girls look up to her. This never felt forced in anyway either; Gina is a super genuine character and it comes across at every page.

And Stone is a great compliment to that. He has quite the journey too when it comes to deciding what he wants in life. I also liked that he was masculine without being overbearing. He’s just a nice guy who cares about his family and doing the right thing.

–Perfect Amount of Drama–

There was just enough drama in this book to keep things interesting. Nothing felt over the top or out of left field. It just worked well to highlight the various elements of character growth. Plus: everything is handled in a very mature (and logical) way that I completely respected as a reader.

What I Didn’t Like:

That it took me so long to read this? I blame my hectic life for letting this one sit as long as I did.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

We got a juicy little hint about what’s to come for Dance With Me and I CANNOT WAIT to read it!

updates

–November 20, 2017– Book #2: Dance With Me

Once again, the character development here is great! I often find in romances that one of the characters is “stronger” (or more put together) than the other when it comes to their lives but in this novel, I liked that they each had their flaws and things to work on. I loved watching both of our leads grow as people and push each other to better things. They make great partners in all aspects which is what I loved watching in this book.

They also make a great romantic pair because they have fantastic chemistry. Sure, the somewhat forbidden element of their relationship adds to the tension but they are both super passionate people and it shows.

The main reason this rating isn’t a 5/5 is that I wanted a little more showing than telling with the romance. It’s always hard to write a romance where the characters have already fallen in love with each other without the readers seeing that because we love watching the initial sparks fly (or at least I do). These two have had a relationship for a long time (one that isn’t really touched on in the previous book either other than its brief mention) and those feelings for each other are already established. As I said above, these two have great chemistry and it shows but often times I felt like I was reading the sequel novel to their story without reading the first because I wanted more of those sparks.

However, I still really enjoyed this book! The character development is truly the highlight of this novel (it’s hard to find a solid character driven romance instead of just a focus on sexy times) and Alexis Daria has succeeded once again!

My Rating: 5/5

Take the Lead 5/5 | Dance With Me 4/5

overall

I think I found a new contemporary romance author to follow! It has everything I love in a solid contemporary romance: fantastic characters, just the right amount of drama and a completely swoon-worthy romance. This definitely takes the trophy!

Read if You Like: adult romance, reality TV, drama
Avoid if You: want more erotica based story
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