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Direct & Connected: this series has direct sequels for some books but features different leads in others

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DNF Series Review: Disclosure by R E Hunter

DNF December Review Blitz — Day 9: I’m sharing my thoughts on some book series that I have marked as incomplete as I have never finished the first novel in the series. Find out why these weren’t for me:

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for Undone (from Goodreads):

Five years ago, Embry Jacobs ran…

She ran from a past that still hasn’t let her go, but her dream of becoming a lawyer is stronger than her fear of confronting that past. Embry’s sole focus is to get through law school—with the help of her best friend, Morgan—and make something of the broken girl she became. Not thinking about falling in love, being in a relationship or even entertaining the idea of romance, Embry is moving forward one day at a time.

Luke Brody is charming and sexy, and has a past of his own. He wants nothing more than to put his demons to rest and move on with his life. But, when Embry enters the picture, is he destined to repeat those same mistakes?

Blindsided by their instant attraction, neither Luke nor Embry are prepared for the feelings they’re developing. But will it all be for nothing?

Will they let their pasts destroy them, or will they risk everything to fight for their relationship when it all comes undone?

breakdown

Series: Disclosure
Author: R E Hunter
# of Books: 3 (Undone, Unbroken, Unburdened)
Book Order: Chronological (Undone & Unbroken) + Connected (Unburdened)
Complete?: No, Unburdened is slated for release
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: January 2014 – unknown
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading Undone at 36%. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Again, I’ve had the duology boxset on my Kobo for awhile and I don’t know how I came across it. But I love books with secrets and the promises of a possibly forbidden romances but I was still a little hesitant to start the book. Nevertheless, I went in with a fresh mind and hoped for the best.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Older Characters ≠ Maturity–

Because Law School requires an undergraduate degree, you get older characters in your stories. More often than not, the New Adult Stories I read have characters in their earlier years of college or just about to graduate. So it was a bit of a special treat to have a slightly older cast.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean they are any more mature. If I didn’t know that they were in Law School (meaning they were 24+), I would have said they were just graduating high school. Not what I really wanted.

–Luke Seemed Slimy to Me–

I didn’t even know this was a stipulation for my forbidden romances (so thanks!) but I don’t like when the heroine is lied to flat out about her “forbidden partner”. I like when my characters know what they are doing is forbidden, when they are given that choice. Or both of them are ignorant of the fact and when they learn, they have to make a decision. There are few times that there are exceptions (it all depends on the plot) but this was not one of them.

Luke just seemed slimy to me because he knows what he is doing to Embry. Knows what he is setting her up for and he still can’t “resist knowing her”…which is a problem because:

–Lack of Chemistry–

I was just not feeling the chemistry between these two. There was definitely a mutual physical attraction but there didn’t seem to be anything else to their “connection”. Actually, I thought she had better chemistry with the classmate she sits beside than with Luke…not a good thing for a romance.

Will I Finish It?

Nope. I wasn’t enjoying this at 9% but decided to skim ahead and at the 36% mark, I knew this story wasn’t for me.

Series Rating: DNF

Undone DNF | Unbroken N/A | Unburdened N/A

overall

Not even the lure of forbidden love and secrets could keep me invested.

Read if You Like: forbidden romances, school romances
Avoid if You: want a stronger romance connection
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DNF Series Review: By You by Kelly Harper

DNF December Review Blitz — Day 8: I’m sharing my thoughts on some book series that I have marked as incomplete as I have never finished the first novel in the series. Find out why these weren’t for me:

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for Ruined by You (from Goodreads):

Can one summer change your life?

Maggie Simpson has one summer left before college starts. And the last place she wants to spend it is in Green Falls, TX with her mother’s family. She was annoyed when her mother announced the change of plans at the last moment, but as she reconnects with her cousin Sarah, she realizes a summer away might be exactly what she needs.

Maggie decides to find a summer job to keep herself occupied, and to help pay for college. She is ecstatic when Scottie gives her a job at a local watering hole, The Hill Country Saloon, to find a band to headline the annual Battle of the Bands competition.

One night, Maggie meets sexy and mysterious Haden, and he agrees to help her find a band for the competition. As Maggie and Haden work side by side, secrets are unleashed that make Maggie question everything she thought she knew about Haden, and the reason for her summer in Green Falls.
Secrets, so powerful, that her life may never be the same.

breakdown

Series: By You; Maggie & Haden
Author: Kelly Harper
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order Here)

There are also novellas.

Book Order: Chronological (Ruined by You & Saved By You) & Connected (Finding You & Undone by You)
Complete?: There are plans for a 4th book but no release date.
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Drama
Heat Rating: unsure
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: June 2013 – ??
Source & Format: Own–eBook

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Disclaimer: I stopped reading Ruined by You at 30%. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

A classic case of I dunno how I learned about this series but I bought it shortly after its release.

Or course, I didn’t get around to reading it until a few years later when I pulled it out for my #ShelfLove Challenge 2017. I had a pretty good idea of what Haden’s secret was going to be but I wasn’t sure what the purpose of the trip to Green Falls would be. So I was looking forward to uncovering those…

What I Liked:

–Battle of the Bands Premise–

I thought this was a fun situation to put the two leads in. I’m a sucker for musicians in my New Adult novels so this was right up my alley. I liked that it was a goal they had to work towards and not just a circumstance in the background (I hope that makes sense!).

What I Didn’t Like:

–Maggie’s a Little Angsty–

Ruined by You is actually one of those novels that straddles the YA-NA line but I ended up grouping it as NA because the premise is much more NA. Anyways, it has that angsty-ness that is common in YA.

Maggie is obviously upset that she has to spend her entire summer away from the place she calls home–and I get that. But I just didn’t like her attitude as a whole.

–Very Slow–

I found Ruined by You to be really slow. I was 30% of the way through and Haden and Maggie had met maybe 3 times and those were fairly brief. I also found that not much else was happening with Maggie. Honestly, I think more was happening with Sarah (who is the lead in Finding You). The band search hadn’t started; the romance wasn’t taking off like I wanted it to; and no inklings of secrets were on the horizon. I just needed a little more to stimulate my interests.

Will I Finish It?

No. I’ve read so many great NA novels with these elements that take it to that next level and this just wasn’t one of them for me.

Series Rating: DNF

overall

I think this would be a great intro to NA novel for those who like a slower story. If you have patience to big reveals, check it out!

Read if You Like: YA/NA novels, contemporary
Avoid if You: dislike quick romances
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Series Review: Nights by A M Salinger

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

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for One Night (from Goodreads):

One night was all I asked for. For him to show me how good it can be. — Gabe
One night was all I promised. To give him the best time of his life. — Cam

Gabe Anderson wants nothing more than to overcome the scars of his past. Moving to a new city halfway across the world is one thing. Walking into the most exclusive gay bar in town to hook up with a perfect stranger is a whole new ball game.

Cam Sorvino doesn’t do relationships. Period. Having buried his dark childhood behind him, he lives life to the fullest and likes his sex hot, dirty, and for one night only. Though Cam’s instincts tell him that Gabe isn’t the one-night kind of guy, he can’t stop himself from approaching him. When Cam discovers the true extent of Gabe’s harrowing secrets, he makes him an offer he cannot refuse: one night of mindless pleasure to help him overcome his phobia of intimacy.

But when morning comes, will Cam be able to let go of the one man who is able to stir new feelings inside his cold, dead heart?

If you like sweet, sexy men with dark pasts and a whole lot of love to give to the ones brave enough to win their hearts, then you’ll love this first novella in the hot, contemporary romance series Nights by A.M. Salinger.

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Series: Nights Series
Author: A M Salinger
# of Books: 9 (View full series order here)
Book Order: Direct Sequel & Connected
Complete?: No, Sweet Obsession is to be Published in April 2018
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, MM Romance
Heat Rating: Hot – Smokin’
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: January 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Xpresso Book Tours–eARCs

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This is just a review of the first two novellas: #1 One Night and #2 The Escort

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m always on the lookout for a new MM romance series and when I saw that the Nights Series was a series of novellas, I just had to check it out!

The Concept / Reading Order:

First off, these are novellas but they are your lengthier ones (more than 50 pages). That means things move fast but as you’ll see in my review, that doesn’t mean things are left underdeveloped.

Some of the novellas are direct sequels to previously featured character while some are not. So you can read them out of order but its suggested to follow the numerical order of release to get the fullest experience. Basically it goes like this:

Couple #1: One Night (#1) + Toyko Heat (#3) + One Day (Book #9)| Couple #2: The Escort | Couple #3: Sweet Obsession (#4) + Sweet Possession (#5)

The Plot:

Book #1, One Night, has a different plot style than The Escort (Book #2). Because the characters in One Night get sequels (#3 Tokyo Heat & #9 One Day), their story focuses more on their initial meeting and the subsequent connection they form. I found there wasn’t much to the plot besides them bonding which totally works for their story.

The Escort is a standalone in the sense that it is in the only instalment featuring these leads. I found the plot here was much stronger and had more dramatics to it. But it still features complex characters and has as much sexual tension as the first novella.

The Characters:

Despite the novella length of these stories, the characters are very well developed. Part of that is thanks to the slight info-dumping we get in the first two chapters. Everything about these characters is laid out early on so you get a great sense of who they are and what their motives are.

The Romance:

All these leads have this great sexual chemistry. But more importantly, they also have this deeper connection as well. They understand each other and they support one another and you can’t ask for more in your romances.

Do note though that One Night has a slightly more erotica feel to it given the narrative/plot.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m a sucker for great sexual tension and these novellas have that! So I can’t wait to get the conclusion to Gabe and Cam’s story and meet the newest couple.

updates

–April 5, 2018– Book #3: Tokyo Heat

I’ll be honest and say that I wanted a little more conversation than we got between these two. Yes, they have this explosive chemistry between them and that means their sex scenes (which are very well done) are passionate and sexy. I know that they are compatible sexually but on a personal level, I needed a little more. I wanted to see more of them working on their everyday issues. We do get that near the end but I wanted those conflicts fleshed out a little more at the start of the novella to reaffirm the fact that these two work so well together.

As a series though, I really love the interweaving of past and future characters. It’s cool to get mini updates on past leads and get a taste of what might be happening later on in the series with the other leads. All these characters are so rich and intriguing that I always am eager to learn what will happen next when I finish the most recent instalment.

Series Rating: 3.5/5

One Night 3/5 | The Escort 4/5 | Tokyo Heat 3/5 | Sweet Obsession TBA | Sweet Possession TBA

overall

This series is absolutely perfect for those people looking to get into the MM romance world but don’t know where to start! The characters are well developed and the romances are heated but sweet.

Read if You Like: MM romance, novella series
Avoid if You: novellas

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Series Review: Kingpin Love Affair by J L Beck

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 Indebted (from Goodreads):
It was suppose to be a debt settled, just a price being repaid.
Instead love was born…
…from unpaid dues it bloomed.
See, that’s the funny thing about love, you never expect it.

After losing her mother to cancer a few months prior to graduating, Bree Forbes was finally able to take some time away and enjoy her college days. That all changed in a blink of an eye the moment Bree came home for break. She didn’t expect to find her dad strapped to chair, a gun pointed at his head.

Alzerro “Zerro” King wasn’t a man to be messed with. Women flocked to him and men ran from him. He ruled the mafia with an iron fist and no one ever crossed him unless they wanted to pay the price. He believed the only way to pay for something, if unable to do so, was to do it in blood. Nothing got him harder than stringing someone up, and putting a bullet in their head.

That is until Bree.

One look is all it took for him to know she could pay for her father’s debt in many other ways… Ways that could get him hard.

Could a big city mafia king fall in love with the small town country girl? Would she be able to handle his dark and demanding ways? When push comes to shove, would Bree end up running only to be killed? Or would she sacrifice herself for love?

breakdown

Series: A Kingpin Love Affair
Author: J L Beck
# of Books: 4 (Indebted, Inevitable, Invincible, Injustice)

There is a novella #4.5: Infringe

Book Order: Chronological (Indebted + Inevitable); Connected (Invincible + Injustice)
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Dark, Romance, Contemporary, Erotica, Mafia
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: November 2014 – August 2015
Source & Format: Own & Kindle Unlimited–eBook

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PLEASE NOTE: This review is only for the first two novels of the series (Indebted & Inevitable). Find out why I didn’t read books 3 & 4 below.

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I found Indebted as a freebie on Amazon one day. On occasion, I enjoy a dark romance read–when they are done right. I had totally forgot about this book until I was cleaning up my Goodreads TBR and reread the synopsis: I was really intrigued.

I love stories where someone falls for the enemy or reluctantly falls in love with someone.

The Concept:

You know, I don’t read a lot of books dealing with the mafia. Crime stories yes, but most of them seem to be about motorcycle clubs nowadays. So in a way, it was refreshing to spend some time with the mafia setting.

The Plot:

The story here moves really fast thanks to the somewhat simple plot. And I don’t mean simple in a bad way. I liked how uncomplicated this story was because it gave more meaning to the secrets and twists when they did occur. It was great to just read about these characters as they went through the motions.

I will say that the plot was stronger in Indebted vs Inevitable. Indebted focuses more on the situation whereas Inevitable has slightly more romantic tone to it.

The Characters:

To be honest, neither lead really did it for me. While I understood the reasoning behinds Zerro’s personality, he wasn’t my ideal dark romance hero.

Bree was boring as well. Her emotions are all over the place–which is understandable when you start falling for a guy who essentially kidnapped you–but I just didn’t like her hot and cold approach to things. Her overreactions to certain things and not others bothered me a bit.

As for the rest of the characters–I think my lack of desire to read the next two books shows how much I didn’t really connect with the cast.

The Romance:

The romance here is one that gave me mixed feelings. I’m all for a good forbidden and dark romance but not when it borders on abusive like this one did.

There would be moments where I really liked these two together; then Zerro would have to “show his dominance” and it would just turn me off immediately. Their relationship isn’t healthy by any stretch of the imagination so if you don’t enjoy relationships that straddle the line between abusive and normal–stay away from this one!

Will I Finish It?:

I’m satisfied by the conclusion we get in Inevitable so I have no desire to continue on with the series. I’m impartial to the other leads and while I know they would be quick reads, I would rather spend that time on a series I’m more excited to read.

Series Rating: 3/5

Indebted 3.5/5 | Inevitable 3/5 | Invincible N/A | Injustice N/A

overall

If you are a fan of darker romance and are looking for a quick read, this one might be worth picking up. However, if you want to try your hand at a darker romance–this isn’t the one to try to wet your tastebuds. There are definitely stronger titles out there.

Read if You Like: dark love, mafia, suspense romance
Avoid if You: dislike dark love, can’t read potentially abusive romances

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Series Review: Layers Deep by Lacey Silks

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 Layers Deep (from Goodreads):
He needs her to save a friend.
She needs him to plan her revenge.
Their pasts scar them Layers Deep.
Their passion distracts them…
…and distractions can be fatal.

Tristan Cross is battling emotional demons from the past. He lives in a world where trust is earned, loyalties are tested, and love is impossible. That is, until he meets Allie Green. She’s the only woman who can help him find a kidnapped friend and to top it off, she captivates him. All he has to do now is persuade her to work for Cross Enterprises, his top investigations firm.

Allie Green is a rookie cop seeking revenge and she’s willing to sell her soul to get it. With an opportunity to use Tristan Cross’s resources Allie calculates her time for payback. As vengeance boils her blood she can’t keep her mind off her new boss and Allie finds it difficult to keep her employment professional. With the mouth watering Tristan Cross distracting her, she struggles to prioritize an undercover job she’s been assigned and her hunger for revenge.

And when you’re ready to give up your life to save someone else, distractions can be fatal.

breakdown

Series: Layers Deep Trilogy
Author: Lacey Silks
# of Books: 3 (Layers Deep, Layers Peeled, Layers Off)

There is a prequel novel, Dazzled by Silver that is FREE on eBook sites.

There is a spin-off series called Crossed.

Book Order: Chronological (Layers Deep, Layers Peeled); Connected (Dazzled by Silver, Layers Off)

However, these all follow a series of Chronological Events.

Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Erotica, Contemporary, Romance, Suspense
Heat Rating: Steamy; Kink: mild (Dazzled by Silver)
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: December 2013 – March 2014
Source & Format: Own–eBook

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Disclaimer: I read both Dazzled by Silver and Layers Deep but will not read Layers Peeled or Layers Off. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

It’s been a long time since I’ve read an erotica novel but I was in a reading slump when I decided to read this Rock My TBR 2016 title in the hopes it bring me out of my slump.

I’m not sure how this trilogy crossed my radar. I want to say it is because it shares the same cover work as one of my all time favourite adult contemporary romances, Fixed Trilogy but I’m not sure. It also could have been a sale from Kobo…it’s been on there for a long time but I’ve been looking for a good romantic suspense novel for a long time and this one showed some promise.

What I Liked:

–They Were Quick, Easy Reads–

I finished both books in 2-3 hours so I didn’t feel like I slaved over them. The plots move fast thanks to their simplicity. When I needed a quick, contemporary fix, they did the job perfectly.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Too Much Sexy Times, Not Enough Action–

I really wanted this to be a suspense novel and not so much of an erotica novel. However, it is definitely the latter. And while I like the steamy scenes just as much as the next person, that really wasn’t what I wanted to read.

Besides the leads wanting to bang each other’s brains out, there isn’t a lot to the story. I suppose things get a touch more exciting near the end of Layers Deep but I just don’t care to pick up the next two books.

–The Characters–

Tristan was a more healthy version of Christian Grey but I found their family structure to be similar. Allie was a strong, independent woman but as soon as she meets Tristan she becomes a little bit needy and I feel like her development gets stinted because of it. But, I did like the fact that she was strong and wasn’t necessarily defined by him either.

But they weren’t anything new to me–and I didn’t grow attached to them; definitely not enough to make me want to read their continuation of their story despite the cliffhanger of Layers Deep.

Will I Finish It?

If I get the last two books as freebies, maybe I’ll read them. But when I read Dazzled by Silver a week after Layers Deep, I still was OK not knowing what happens in Layers Peeled.

When to Read Dazzled by Silver:

Honestly, I think you can read it before Layers Deep and it won’t give away much. BUT, I think you’ll get more out of it and save yourself some minor spoilers if you read it after Layers Deep or Layers Peeled.

Series Rating: 2.5/5

[Dazzled by Silver 2.5/5] | Layers Deep 2.5/5 | Layers Peeled N/A | Layers Off N/A

overall

If you want a quick erotica read that has a bit more substance than your typical short stories, pick up these freebies!

Read if You Like: erotica, quick reads
Avoid if You: want more suspense, more plotline
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Series Review: Speak by T A Roth

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Synopsis for Say Something (from Goodreads):

Chemistry
What most girls search a lifetime for…
I felt it the minute he set those whiskey colored eyes on me.
Magnetism
We had it in spades…
My body was drawn to hers the moment she set foot into the room.
What happens when you both have pasts that threaten the future?
Do you do nothing?
Or
Do you Say Something?

22 year old Ari Munoz is used to keeping men at arm’s length. So when her best friend Vonne guilts her into going to a frat party, she couldn’t think of a worse way to spend a Thursday night. That’s until she sparks the interest of love’m and leave’m Ben Rodriguez. The electricity she feels when they lock eyes is something she’s never felt before.

22 year old Ben Rodriguez has it all. He’s a football star, president of his fraternity, and well known ladies’ man. His endless pick of beauties, makes him the envy of all of his fraternity brothers. So why are a pair of long legs and hazel eyes making him want to throw out all of his rules?

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: New Must Read Author 2016
Series: Speak
Author: T A Roth
# of Books: 2+ (Say Something, Say Nothing, Say Anything)
Book Order: Chronological & Connected (Say Anything)
Complete?: No, Say Anything is to be published in the near future!
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: March 2015 – ongoing
Source & Format: Netgalley & Xpresso Blog Tours–eARC

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon

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Note: The Blog Tour is for Say Nothing but I’ve made it a Series Review because the first book is so important for the sequel!

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I saw the Blog Tour announcement for Say Nothing, I immediately signed up…well, after I read the synopsis for Say Something (since I hadn’t read it yet). It promised a lot of sexual tension and fantastic character chemistry so I was immediately sold. And I knew that there was a deeper story to be unravelled once Ben and Ari meant…and I couldn’t wait to figure it out!

And man oh man, was I right!

The Plot:

While the story definitely focuses on Ari and Ben meeting and falling in love, there is also the underlying drama regarding the secret Ari has been holding back for most of her life. And what a heartbreaking secret it is. Watching her struggle with this was hard to read at times because you really want her to be happy and carry on with her life.

I did find the romantic drama to become slightly repetitive in Say Something though. I felt like it was the same cycle of drama again and again–trust/communication issues. Which is fine and even understandable given the characters we have. But I just got a little tired of it repeating itself when it seemed like they had moved past it earlier on. Or maybe it was just my frustration at seeing them struggle when I really wanted them to be together forever–I’m not too sure.

I wanted a little more from Say Nothing as well. The ending felt a little rushed and I wish certain things had been elaborated earlier on. BUT, there were some great twists and I did enjoy reading it a lot.

The Characters:

Ari had great character development as did Ben.

I became so attached to these two (and their BFFs) because they seem so normal. They weren’t over the top nor were they perfect. They each have their faults and they each have their issues but it was so, so great seeing them work on these things together. Even if it frustrated me (in a completely good way) at times 😉

The Romance:

Ari and Ben had great chemistry right from the start. I loved watching them interact and seeing their romance bloom. Things happen faster than I normally like, but I definitely saw how these two worked and why they liked each other so much. Their story was super addicting to read.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Thank goodness the next story is about Vonne!!! I was SO WORRIED we wouldn’t get a resolution for her romance and I CANNOT WAIT to read it! (The teaser at the end of Say Nothing nearly killed me!)

Series Rating: 4/5

Say Something 4/5 | Say Nothing 3.5/5  |  Say Anything TBR

overall
If you want a sweet yet sexy New Adult read, this is the series for you!

Read if You Like: college romances, family secrets
Avoid if You: dislike sexy times, New Adult romances

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T A Roth
T.A. Roth is a wife and mother of two funny and crazy kids. Born and raised in Los Angeles, she couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. When she’s not beautifying clients as a stylist/make-up artist at her day job you can find her reading, fangirling her favorite authors, or singing along to the radio. After getting the opportunity to read the debut novel of a then client now friend something clicked. Her “what the hell” attitude kicked in and a year later, here we are.

Say Something… A new adult romance is her debut novel.

Author Links: Facebook | Website | Goodreads | Twitter

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Series Review: Family Matters by Liana Key

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

book3 book4

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Nothing Matters (from Goodreads):
Nathan
I should never have fallen in love with her. I was just an ordinary boy from the wrong side of town, I’d never be good enough for her. But she didn’t see it like that. She loved me, I loved her. This was the real thing.
And then one night, one event changed everything. Now she can’t even bear to look at me. I lost the love of my life…and now nothing f**king matters…

Magdala
If ever there was a love at first sight moment, it was when I saw Nathan. I didn’t care where he lived, what car he drove, nothing mattered other than our love. Our love was unexpected, but it was real, it was true. He made me crazy, he made me laugh, he made me dream…
And then It happened…and everything we had was lost.

Flynn
She was the girl I never thought I could have, sweet, beautiful, perfect. Why she fell for someone like me, shy, inexperienced, scarred, I couldn’t work it out. A brief summer romance, that’s all it would ever be.
But circumstances brought us together again and the hardest lessons of love and loss were yet to be learned…

Three lives learning about love and life the hard way
Love, pain, truth
Finding out what really matters…

breakdown

Series: Family Matters
Author: Liana Key
# of Books: 4 (Nothing Matters, All that Matters, Book 3, Book 4)
Book Order: Companion + Chronological
Complete?: No, there will be a 3rd novel in the series
Genre: Young Adult/New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Drama
Heat Rating: really warm – hot (All that Matters) *spicy YA*
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: March 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Author–eARC  |  Thanks so much Liana Key!

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When Liana contacted me about reviewing her series, I was definitely intrigued. Normally, I’m not one for love triangles and when I saw 3 names in the synopsis of Nothing Matters, I’ll admit I was hesitant. BUT, I thought there might be more to the surface (like what was this “one night, one event”?) and wanted to give it a shot.

The Series Order:

Just a quick note on the series order. Nothing Matters is Magdala’s story and Book 3 will be a continuation of that story. All that Matters is Cassian’s story and takes place simultaneously as Nothing Matters (therefore a companion novel of sorts) and Book 4 will be the continuation of that story.

Because of that, I’m going to split the remaining categories by story arc because they are both so different and have completely different plot lines.

The Plot:

Nothing Matters

This one had a slow start for me because it was a little too much high school romance. Insta-love, mushy feelings and all that jazz. I got a little worried that this story was going to be petty romance moments but that quickly turned once the “big event” happens.

From that point on, the story gets deeper and gritter–and I really, really liked that. The shift from romance to coming of age was fantastic and very addicting. Watching these characters deal with everything and in a fairly realistic way was awesome.

All that Matters

This novel was definitely more romance focused than its predecessor, giving it an entirely different feel. The forbidden romance plot was definitely intriguing but I felt it lacked the depth of Nothing Matters. Which is A-ok but I just wanted it to give me a little more.

The Characters:

Nothing Matters

I’ll be the first to admit, I didn’t particularly care for either Nathan or Magdala when I first met them. They were a little too one-dimensional for me at the start of the novel. But, all this changes later on in the book when everything gets set into motion and I loved watching them grow as characters.

Surprisingly, I instantly loved Flynn. He was so unique and I felt like he was well developed from the get-go.

All that Matters

The characters here are what really gave me mixed feelings. Having met Cassian in the previous novel, I had a good handle on him and I did like him. But Paola was a lot harder to like. She was super immature given her age and the like. She made it super hard to root for the two of them because she seemed so juvenile. I just wanted more depth to them (and their romance).

The Romance:

Nothing Matters

Like I said earlier, this one started a little too high-schooler to me but it quickly morphed into something I really enjoyed. I feel like the romance takes a back seat for the last half of the book while the characters developed but I’m curious to see what will happen in the next instalment.

All that Matters

I’m a sucker for forbidden romance and I was really excited by the premise of this one when I finished Nothing Matters. But this one fell a little flat. For forbidden romances, you have to prove to me why these two people belong together; why they should even fall in love and defy all convention to be together–and I didn’t totally get that here. Like I said before, Paola really dampened this for me with her immature attitude. But it didn’t help their romance was based on physical attraction and very insta-love. Not what I wanted.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m super curious to see where each story goes from here! Their stories are so intriguing to me, taking paths I never really expected and so I want to know what happens next!

Nothing Matters

All That Matters

concSLOW

Series Rating: 4/5

Nothing Matters  4/5 | All that Matters  3/5

overall

It takes a while for these stories to build, but once you get everything established, they take you on an enjoyable journey that somehow becomes super addicting to follow!

Read if You Like: high school new adult, love at first sight, first love
Avoid if You: dislike insta-love, don’t want sexy time scenes

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Series Review: Sex on the Beach

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 Between Us (from Goodreads):
I’m just a girl…

I’m a famous country star who’s spent her life cultivating a good girl persona to avoid bad press, but I’ve reached my limit. I’m going away for spring break with my two best friends from college, and we’ve vowed to spend the vacation seeking out fun in the sun—along with some hot, no-strings-attached sex. The only thing I needed was the perfect guy, and then I met Austin Murphy. He might be totally wrong for me, but the tattooed bad boy is hard to resist. When I’m in his arms, everything just feels right.

And I’m just a guy…

I’m just a bartender who lives in Key West, stuck in an endless cycle of boredom. But then Mackenzie Forbes, America’s Sweetheart herself, comes up to me and looks at me with those bright green eyes…and everything changes. She acts like she’s just a normal girl and I’m just a normal guy, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. My past isn’t pretty, you know. I did what I had to do to survive, and she’d run if she learned the truth about my darkness. But with her, I’m finally realizing what it’s like to be alive. To laugh, live, and be happy.

All good things must come to an end…

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author (Jennifer Probst & Jen McLaughlin)
Series: Sex on the Beach
Author: Jen McLaughlin (Between Us); Jennifer Probst (Beyond Me); Jenna Bennett (Before You)
# of Books: 6 (Between Us, Beyond Me, Before You, Losing Us, Chasing Me, Finding You)

There is a spin-off short story called Holding On by Jenna Bennett

Book Order: Connected/Companion and Chronological

The first three books (Between Us, Beyond Me, Before You) take place simultaneously, following three different characters. The last 3 books (Losing Us, Chasing Me, Finding You) are sequels to each of those individual stories.

Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Drama
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Single (Before You); Alternating (Beyond Me; Between Us)
Publication Dates: March 2014 – March 2015
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When two of your favourite authors decide to collaborate and create a New Adult series, you can safely assume you are going to get a good read. That’s the case for me with the Sex on the Beach novella series by Jen McLaughlin, fave #1, (Between Us); Jennifer Probst, fave #2, (Beyond Me); Jenna Bennett (Before You).

The Concept / Book order:

The series is a little different from other series out there. Basically, the series is six novellas focusing on one of three best friends when she is on spring break with her other two best friends in Florida. Each author has one character and writes their two respective novellas.

What is really cool about this series is that all the stories overlap. So what is happening to Mackenzie in Between Us is occurring while Carrie and Quinn’s own stories are. Between Us, Beyond Me, and Before You take place during the first spring break while Losing Us, Chasing Me and Finding You are their respective sequels. All the authors do a great job of interweaving all the stories together, having them intersect at various points yet without giving away the other stories.

This means you can technically read these stories in any order or not read one and still get a great experience. But, my suggested reading order is:

Between Us, Beyond Me, Before You, Losing Us, Chasing Me, and Finding You

For me, that series has the best chronological flow, especially with the last 3 books.

The Plot:

Because these are novellas, everything happens at an accelerated paced. But at the same time, I was expecting that considering this series takes place over spring break (which is a week long). So things happen fast but considering the setting and the format, I took that in stride. Normally it would bother me but I really enjoyed it. It could have been really superficial but I felt like it was pretty grounded all considered. You’ll understand why when I get to the romance review.

Beyond Me and Between Us are your typical New Adult romance plot-line (not that that is a bad thing); Before You is more romantic suspense which was exciting albeit very predictable (Finding You had a much stronger plotline I feel like). But what really surprised me was that I felt like I was getting full stories from start to finished. They never felt underdeveloped like most novellas do so it made them very easy and addicting to read.

The Characters:

I liked all the characters we meet. I thought the girls all had their unique personalities which made it fun and enjoyable to read. My least favourite character was probably Cassie from Before You because I just didn’t like her personality or thought process (her story was painfully predictable). However, her sequel book (Finding You) was a lot more intriguing for me and I liked her character more in that book.

The Romance:

Things happened fast but in all cases, I felt like the relationships that were developed did have genuine emotional connections. Sure, they were rushed because of the time constraints but I was satisfied that I could see where things would be going if they had more time together. Which is why I appreciated the follow-up stories. It was nice to see how things developed and how things were worked out several months later.

Series Rating: 4/5

Between Us 4/5 | Beyond Me 4/5| Before You 3/5

Losing Us 4/5 | Chasing Me 3.5/5 | Finding You 4/5

overall

If you want great summer (or spring break reads) that are quick, fun and sexy, this is a great novella series!

Read if You Like: novellas, connected/interweaving stories, new adult
Avoid if You: don’t like insta-love, want a longer story

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Series Review: The Program by Suzanne Young

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

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Program (from Goodreads):
In Sloane’s world, true feelings are forbidden, teen suicide is an epidemic, and the only solution is The Program.

Sloane knows better than to cry in front of anyone. With suicide now an international epidemic, one outburst could land her in The Program, the only proven course of treatment. Sloane’s parents have already lost one child; Sloane knows they’ll do anything to keep her alive. She also knows that everyone who’s been through The Program returns as a blank slate. Because their depression is gone—but so are their memories.

Under constant surveillance at home and at school, Sloane puts on a brave face and keeps her feelings buried as deep as she can. The only person Sloane can be herself with is James. He’s promised to keep them both safe and out of treatment, and Sloane knows their love is strong enough to withstand anything. But despite the promises they made to each other, it’s getting harder to hide the truth. They are both growing weaker. Depression is setting in. And The Program is coming for them.

breakdown

Series: The Program
Author: Suzanne Young
# of Books: 4 (The Remedy, The Epidemic, The Program, The Treatment)

There is also a novella after The Treatment called The Recovery

Book Order: Chronological & Connected

The Remedy & The Epidemic are paired; The Program and The Treatment are paired

Complete?: No, The Epidemic will be published April 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: April 2013 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

NOTE: I have not read The Remedy.  See why not below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Suzanne Young’s A Need So Beautiful was one of the first books I put on my TBR once I started keeping an actual list. I have yet to read it. Shocking, I know 😉

What drew me to The Program was the cover. The bright yellow in a very white clinical setting? Call me intrigued. And when I read the synopsis? Even more intrigued. So I put my name on the holds list, eagerly awaiting there arrival

The Remedy + The Epidemic vs The Program + The Treatment

I just want to set the record straight about these books. This series contains 4 books, but they are two dual sets. The RemedyThe Epidemic are one duology focusing on one set of characters and The Program & The Treatment follow a different set. All take place within the same world. The Remedy is listed as a prequel to The Program as its events precede the events in The Program; it was published a few years after The Program.

I chose to read The Program & The Treatment first. I have also decided to further break up my headings into subheadings to review keep each duology separate.

The Concept:

The Program & The TREATMENT

The idea that there is a massive epidemic of young people committing suicide is a rather morbid basis for a book albeit unique. It is a tough topic to handle but one I think Young does well (though I wish there was a little blurb at the end about suicide prevention/information). It doesn’t glorify it and I think it shows the impact suicide can have on someone’s family and friends really well. It helps shed light on an issue we often shy away from in society.

The Plot:

THE PROGRAM & THE TREATMENT

The plot for The Program is extremely slow! Nothing really happens until the halfway point and even then, it’s a slow incline. The first half really establishes the world and the relationships Sloane has. I personally could of had half the number of pages and still had the main idea. I found it to be dull and because it deals with such a depressing topic, it isn’t a very uplifting read, making it hard to get through at times.

Once we actually get to the nitty-gritty of the epidemic, that’s when things get interesting and The Treatment keeps the pace going…for all of 10 pages. WOW, I didn’t think things could get duller but they did! This book was a lot of waiting around and romantic pining. WAYYY too much focus on the romance! I did appreciate the science fiction elements when they were there but, I wanted more. I wanted so much more that I almost quit reading just before the halfway point. But the need for answers (ie why the epidemic? why the program?) had me reluctantly pressing forward.

The Characters:

THE PROGRAM & THE TREATMENT

Sloane was incredibly dull to me. I didn’t love her, but I didn’t hate her either–which is not good. Indifference is the death to any character and poor Sloane just never managed to get me on her side. While I understand her difficult situation and why she isn’t the first person jumping at the opportunity to save the world (I actually found that lack of motivation oddly refreshing), I just really wanted her to DO SOMETHING! Something other than pining for James or the other person in her unnecessary love triangle.

I didn’t really connect with any of the characters and that made reading this not as enjoyable as I had hoped.

The Romance:

THE PROGRAM & THE TREATMENT

I don’t really enjoy stories where the romance is already established. I like watching couples fall in love as I read and with Sloane and James, they have already been a couple for a while. Don’t get me wrong, they are cute and I like them together. But they are that nauseatingly cute couple that get too sugary sweet as you read. So by the time I got to The Treatment, I was a little over them as a couple. Oh, and it didn’t help that there are love triangles abound with them as well. It’s not a good thing when the romantic relationships can’t even save the dull plot.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m really, really undecided about reading The Remedy. I’m really intrigued by the premise and I want to give these new characters a shot. But at this moment, I’m holding off on picking it up.

THE PROGRAM & THE TREATMENT

Series Rating: 2.5/5

The Remedy TBD | The Epidemic TBP | The Program 3/5 | The Treatment 2/5

overall

The Treatment was a huge disappointment. I wanted a science fiction YA with a dash of romance; but instead, we get a YA romance with a dash of science fiction. In the end, The Program wasn’t for me!

Read if You Like: dystopian worlds, lots of romance, books about mental illness
Avoid if You: want more action

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Series Review: Real by Katy Evans

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

book book book6

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Real (from Goodreads):
A fallen boxer.
A woman with a broken dream.
A competition…
He even makes me forget my name. One night was all it took, and I forgot everything and anything except the sexy fighter in the ring who sets my mind ablaze and my body on fire with wanting…
Remington Tate is the strongest, most confusing man I’ve ever met in my life.
He’s the star of the dangerous underground fighting circuit, and I’m drawn to him as I’ve never been drawn to anything in my life. I forget who I am, what I want, with just one look from him. When he’s near, I need to remind myself that I am strong–but he is stronger. And now it’s my job to keep his body working like a perfect machine, his taut muscles primed and ready to break the bones of his next opponents . . .
But the one he’s most threatening to, now, is me.
I want him. I want him without fear. Without reservations.
If only I knew for sure what it is that he wants from me?

breakdown

Series: Real
Author: Katy Evans
# of Books: 6 (Real, Mine, Remy, Rogue, Ripped, Book 6)
Book Order: Real and Mine are Chronological, Remy is the alternate POV sequel to Real the rest of the series is Connected
Complete?: No, Book 6, will be published Fall 2015
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sports, Drama
Heat Rating: hot
Point of View: First Person, Single (Real, Mine, Remy); Alternate (Rogue, Ripped)Publication Dates: April 2013 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Real is one of those books that has been haunting me on my Kobo account’s recommendation list since it was published. And while I was intrigued by it and all the positive reviews my Goodreads’ friends had given it, I simply can’t afford to shell out $10 a book to read the series. So when my library got copies of the book, I immediately added my name to the hold list.

I knew that the males were going to be top alpha dogs before I even started and while that usually doesn’t appeal to me, I was going to keep an open mind. I also figured these books were going to be more erotica than contemporary romance so I didn’t expect thrilling, complex plot lines either.

How to Phrase this…

My feelings on Real (both as a book and as a series) are mixed and I can understand why some people might give it an extremely low rating after reading it while others love it. In all honesty, I was enjoying it until I started to write this review (because I was writing this as I was reading it) and after I creeped some of the reviews on Goodreads to see what others thought of it. Reading this book after I did that was like when you notice someone’s bad habit for the first time and then that is all you can notice in the future.

I found that all the books in this series were kinda like that: the more I thought about them, the more I disliked them. It was weird because when I started to read the book, I was really enjoying it. But when I returned to reading it later, I didn’t like it that much and the same can be said for the subsequent times I picked up these books. There are two reasons I think this happened to me: 1) is the development of the heroines; and 2) the repetitiveness of the writing. And they both go hand in hand at times.

The Plot:

So, the plot isn’t really anything stellar, especially in Real. They definitely improve in the subsequent novels where we get some more “suspense” romance plot lines but for the most part, these books are just the heroines describing the virility of their men.

Yup, you read that right: virility.

The entire first half of Real is literally Brooke describing how the primal instincts in her are attracted to the “virile” man Remy is (It’s the same situation in the other books as well, though the page count is a little less). Honestly: there is a paragraph describing how the “female” in her wants to “mate” with Remy because she wants his genetics for her babies–I kid you not. And while the scientist in me appreciates that fact that this is a true human reaction, it just seemed a little over the top to me.

Personally, I could have done without all the redundant descriptions of how Remy turns her on–I got it after the first two times thank you. Brooke uses the worst words possible to describe their sexual encounters and often repeats them numerous times within a paragraph. Some are just hilarious to me and even now I have a silly grin on my face because I can’t believe that anyone would refer to their private parts like that.

But it also seems to dampen the flow of the book because you will be getting narration about where they are and then suddenly, BAM–Brooke’s describing how hot Remy makes her for two pages before BAM–you get shoved back into the actual scene narration. This gets better in the sequel books but they definitely have the same vibe.

It’s a shame because Remy’s story is actually interesting and it kinda takes a backseat to Brooke’s descriptions of his eight-pack. Same in the other books with the other leads. And when we do get the drama, it is over the top and a tad ridiculous but I guess that is the consequence of fiction.

The Characters:

I really struggled with these heroines. Heroines really make or break a series for me. I think it’s because I am a female so I can easily put myself in their shoes as opposed to a male character. And I’ll be honest: the primal alpha male heroes we get in this series really do nothing for me but I came into this series knowing that I wouldn’t particularly love them so it didn’t necessarily bother me.

What bothered me was that Brooke has the maturity of a 16 year old fangirl–which means she has very little. Even when we switch narrators in the other books in the series, I found that the delivery was much the same. The heroines become those immature girls who don’t see their self-worth without a man in their lives. And as soon as they do find their partner, they get immediately clingy. Basically, it’s the grown woman’s condition of Bella-Swan-I-can’t-live-without-him syndrome and it is just plain annoying. (Though to be fair, Pandora’s story, Ripped, doesn’t completely fall into this scenario.)

The Romance:

As I said before, these are basically books about acting on your lust. Two of the three couples have an insta-connection type of romance; the exception is Ripped where it is a second chance romance. I appreciated that one a lot more than the other two in that respect.

What I did love was the chemistry and the sexual tension. That is definitely one nice thing about insta-love stories because there is always so much frustration and close encounters before the big consummation.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I really have no idea who the next story in the series is about though I have a pretty good guess. I’ll read it just for the sake of finishing this series but it’s not high on my “have to read it now!” list.

Fun Fact:

Before I read Real I never knew that “scent” could be used as a verb–and after reading it 10 times as a verb I understand why: it’s annoying and awkward!

My Rating: 3/5

overall

I’m not sure what everyone else was reading but I don’t think I read the same thing. If you don’t mind clingy heroines, alpha males and over the top dramatics with lots of sex scenes, this is a good series for you! It just didn’t live up to the expectations I had in place and I found that I felt more frustrated than happy when reading these books.

Read if You Like: alpha males, over dramatics, lots of sex
Avoid if You: can’t tolerate petty heroines, crude language

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