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Blog Tour: The Hummingbird Dagger by Cindy Anstey

Synopsis for The Hummingbird Dagger (from Goodreads):
1833. After young Lord James Ellerby witnesses a near-fatal carriage accident on the outskirts of his estate, he doesn’t think twice about bringing the young woman injured in the wreck to his family’s manor to recuperate. But then she finally regains consciousness only to find that she has no memory of who she is or where she belongs.

Beth, as she takes to calling herself, is an enigma even to herself. She has the rough hands of a servant, but the bearing and apparent education of a lady. Her only clue to her identity is a gruesome recurring nightmare about a hummingbird dripping blood from its steel beak.

With the help of James and his sister, Caroline, Beth slowly begins to unravel the mystery behind her identity and the sinister circumstances that brought her to their door. But the dangerous secrets they discover in doing so could have deadly ramifications reaching the highest tiers of London society.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author, Canadian Author
Author: Cindy Anstey
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Suspense
Heat Rating: Cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: April 16, 2019
Source & Format: Xpresso Book Tours–eARC via Netgalley

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a huge Cindy Anstey fan! I love her historical YA titles for their playfulness and charm. So a ride on the darker side with a murder mystery? I couldn’t wait to uncover it!

The Plot:

This story is very reminiscent of Victorian era murder mysteries. It’s a lot of dialogue at times but I enjoyed the banter between the characters and found it to be engaging. The story really starts with a bang and then you slowly rebuild everything to the climax. I liked that it wasn’t predictable and it had some layers to it because it made the reading experience richer.

The Characters:

While this story lacked the playfulness of Anstey’s other works, it didn’t lack the charm she brings to her characters. We have a full cast of them to follow her and I liked that we have the various POVs. It helped to develop the individual characters while giving a fullness to the plot.

That being said, there could have been a little more to the character development. But that can be hard to do in a mystery where the lead has amnesia. And I liked that the focus remained on uncovering the plot and Beth’s past.

The Romance:

This is really a minor aspect to the story so it isn’t super fleshed out. But that worked for me because it was exactly the type of romance I expected for this genre.

My Rating: 4/5

overall
If you enjoy a mystery story with a classic vibe to it and charming characters, check this out!

Read if You Like: historical fiction, mystery, amnesia storylines
Avoid if You: want a lighter read, want more romance

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Cindy Anstey

Whenever she is not sitting at the computer, throwing a ball in the backyard, gardening or reading, Cindy can be found–actually, not found–adventuring around the world with her hubby.

She has lived on three continents, had a monkey in her yard and a scorpion under her sink, dwelt among castles and canals, enjoyed the jazz of Beale St and attempted to speak French.

Cindy loves history, mystery and… a chocolate Labrador called Chester. Love, Lies and Spies is her debut novel.

Author Links: Website // Goodreads // Facebook // Twitter

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Single Sundays: Valentine Charms by Anne McAllister

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Valentine Charms (from Goodreads):

Twenty-three second graders were on a mission!

Her students were convinced Jane Kitto needed a man in her life. A ‘real man’ – not the Secret Admirer who had, every Valentine’s Day for years, sent her a tiny charm. Jane appreciated their enthusiasm, but not their choice. Football star Zack Stoner was the last man on earth she’d fall for. Handsome as sin, tough as nails, and more appealing than she wanted to admit, Zack made Jane want things she never imagined wanting–with him.

Zack Stoner had never forgotten Jane. When they were younger, he’d been confused, unnerved and fascinated by the sweet and generous Jane. It wasn’t all that different now, except he was a man, and knew he wanted her. But would Jane take a chance with someone like him?

Twenty-three cupids said yes.

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Author: Anne McAllister
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: February 1, 2018
Source & Format: LibraryThing Early Reviewers–eBook | Thank you so much Tule Publishing!

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

How cute is that synopsis?! I thought it was pretty adorable which is why I put my name in for a copy over at LibraryThing for a review copy. I thought it was fun that the kids were so invested in their teacher’s love life. I also love the idea of a “loved you forever” type of second chance romance.

The Concept:

To be honest, I thought the kids were more involved with the matchmaking process. I’m not sure how they could pull that off (lock them in a classroom? write notes?), but I thought they’d have more of a hand in getting these two to finally realize their feelings. They really don’t which is a shame because the kids were definitely a highlight for me. They were so charming and they stole ever scene they were in.

The Plot:

While the story is pretty predictable I still enjoyed watching these two slowly come together. It was a sweet slow burn romance which is exactly what I wanted. Again, I would have liked more scenes with the kids but there’s enough going on to keep the story moving at all times.

The Characters:

I really liked these two! They both have some solid character development throughout the novel which is always a nice touch. We get to see some of their shared histories in the past so it was interesting to see how those particular moments influenced them going forward. I felt like they were very well rounded characters.

The Romance:

While these two shared some great chemistry, I needed a little more to convince me that they truly loved each other and not just the idea of each other. What foundations did they have to establish such an emotional connected based on a few interactions as children? We do get a few of those moments as the story progressed but I craved a little more.

My Rating: 3/5

overall

This is a sweet romance that will capture your heart from start to finish!

Read if You Like: sweet romances, quicker reads
Avoid if You: want erotica

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ARC Review: Friends with Benefits (Beta Brothers #2) by Hazel Kelly

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

Other Books in the Series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Friends with Benefits (from Goodreads):

Carter’s been crazy about Nina since the first time he saw her emerald eyes, but his fratastic reputation landed him in the friend zone before he even had a chance to say, “How you doin’?”

So when Nina suggests they become friends with benefits, he can’t believe his luck.

After all, once he’s gotten in her pants, winning her heart should be easy… right?

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Series: Beta Brothers
Author: Hazel Kelly
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Unsure
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: June 2018 – August 2018
Source & Format: Author–eARC

thoughts

Disclaimer: I have not read the first book in the series, My Best Friend’s Ex. This is only a review of Friends with Benefits.

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a sucker for a friends with benefits type of situation in books. The main reason is the palpable sexual tension because love is almost always inevitable. So while I hadn’t read the first book in the series, when Hazel asked me to read Friends with Benefits (which you can totally read as a standalone!)I leapt at the chance!

The Plot:

For the most part, the plot focuses on these two fighting their feelings for each other while keeping their relationship secret from their friends. We don’t delve too deep into their character stories or backgrounds, which does give this story a lighter feel to it. With the exception of one particular scene, we shy away from the petty and over the top drama that often accompanies these books so I found that to be rather refreshing.

The Characters:

It took me a few chapters to get used to our leads. They’re a little on the quirkier side of things so the humour wasn’t overly apparent to me (but I struggle with comedy in novels I read vs listen to). But once I got a feel for them, I started to enjoy their comments and styles. They do make for a fun pair to follow.

I also thought they lacked some maturity at the start of the novel but they matured as the story (and their relationship) progressed which made me happy.

As I said above, the character development could have been stronger by elaborating more on their backstories. However, I think the primary goal of this novel is to focus on the lighter side of love and looking to the future so I didn’t mind. I saw growth in their maturity and that worked for me.

The Romance:

These two have great chemistry from the start. I liked the fact that it was Nina who set all the rules for the relationship and not Carter (like it often is in books). It was nice to get that reversal on the usual approach to this trope.

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Series Rating: 3.5/5

My Best Friend’s Ex N/A | Friends with Benefits 3.5/5

overall

Once I got a feel for the story and characters, I enjoyed this lighter rom-com and it was the perfect way to destress after a long day at work!

Read if You Like: lighter romances, new adult romance, friends with benefits
Avoid if You: want deeper backstories

similarreads

  • Cross Stroke by AUTHOR (One The Edge Series #1)
  • Wicked Sexy Liar by Christina Lauren (Wild Seasons Series #3)

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Single Sundays: Pretend I’m Yours by Ella Miles

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Pretend I’m Yours (from Goodreads):

I’m a twenty-two-year-old virgin. Tonight that changes.

I thought my first time had to be magical. The perfect date. The perfect place. The perfect guy. I thought I wanted to be in love.
But now, I’m desperate.
I’ll take any guy as long as he’s decent looking and treats me well, at least for the night.
Turns out Mr. Perfect isn’t so hard to find. He’s hot, dreamy, and filthy rich. And he wants me.
Sex with him is going to be better than I ever imagined. He’s going to ruin me for all other guys. I know that it is just for one night, but it doesn’t matter. I’m happy to get my perfect night.
One night isn’t enough, for either of us.
Because Mr. Perfect just fake proposed to me. And he wants this proposal to last a lot longer than one night.

Will you pretend to be my wife?

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Author: Ella Miles
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: May 29, 2018
Source & Format: Author–eARC | Thank you Ella Miles!

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

It’s no secret that I love Ella Miles’ books. If I want a steamy contemporary romance (sometimes with a darker edge to it) that will surprise me in its plot, she’s the author I turn to.

I would say fake relationships are my favourite book trope of all time. I devour anything with that in the synopsis so I was SUPER DUPER excited when Ella announced she was writing a contemporary romance with that as a feature. Of course, I knew there would be more to this story than that and so I was eager to dive in!

The Plot:

I’ll admit that the synopsis is slightly misleading, especially once you get two chapters into the novel. But like all of Ella’s books, things often go in a direction you don’t expect. This book kept me on my toes. It’s full of angst and steam and I just got sucked into it all as soon as these two lay eyes on each other. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in their story.

The Characters:

I really liked Larykn. I wasn’t sure what she would be like considering the synopsis (I worried she was going to be driven by sex and lust) but I really grew to like her spunk and independence. She doesn’t really play any games and is pretty open to voicing her opinion which I like.

I’m not going to name “Mr Perfect” because that is part of the suspense of the first part of the novel, but I also loved him as a lead. He’s a bit of a bad boy but has a good heart two so it was easy to fall for him.

The Romance:

Talk about palpable chemistry! Wowza, you could really feel it between these two! I loved all their scenes together. They are such a good match for each other so watching them inevitably falling in love was such a treat!

My Rating: 5/5

overall

This is probably my favourite Ella Miles book to date! I just loved the chemistry and the pacing of the story. I was sucked in from the start!

Read if You Like: fake romances, drama, quicker reads
Avoid if You: don’t like slightly over the top drama
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Series Review: Unforgivable by Ella Miles

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Heart of a Thief (from Goodreads):

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

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

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

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

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

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

The Concept:

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

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

The Plot:

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

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

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

The Characters:

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

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

The Romance:

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

Series Rating: 3.5/5

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

overall

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

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

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Blog Tour: Between the Sea and Stars (Lena #1) by Chantal Gadoury

Synopsis for Between the Sea and Stars (from Goodreads):

A Legend,
A Magical Shell
A Girl Who Dreamed Of Something More…

Lena, a Merrow girl, lives in the Skagerrak sea with her father, Carrick and her brother, Javelin who tells her of the legend of the Merrow Queen murdered by her human lover when greed takes over. But what’s worth spilling the queen’s blood? Gifted from Poseidon, himself, a magic shell gives any human the ability to control both land and sea.

When Javelin is called to join a clan of Merrow soldiers bent on protecting their waters from human invasion, Lena resists Merrow law and ventures to the shore with no choice but to swim to land.

With newfound legs, Lena is whisked away on a new adventure with new friends and new trouble. Everyone seems to want something from her as intrigue lurks around every corner.

Trying her best to hide who she is and remain safe from the dangers of the human world, will Lena finally find where she belongs, or will she be swept into a strong and stormy current by lust, greed, and jealousy?

Other books in the series:

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Series: Lena
Author: Chantal Gadoury
# of Books: 1+ (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book 2 to be released
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure, Coming of Age, Romance
Heat Rating: Cool
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Date: June 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Audiobookworm–Audiobook via Audible (6hrs & 53mins)

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon / Audible

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I read Chantal’s novel The Songs in Our Hearts a few years ago and really enjoyed it (it was super cute!). So when I saw that there was an opportunity to read a non-contemporary (MERMAIDS!!!!) novel by her, I couldn’t wait to see what she could do in a different genre.

What I Liked:

–The Romance–

This surprised me in a really good way. I thought I had a good idea of where the romance would be going early on but I was so dead wrong. I love when that happens!

It isn’t a huge focus but it’s there enough to keep the story going when it needs too.

–Lena’s Character Growth–

Lena’s character story is literally one of “fish out of the water” but it provides an interesting backdrop to her character growth and development. This is very much a coming of age story for her except she has the added complications of being a mermaid now on land. I enjoyed her evolution from naive mermaid to independent young lady.

What I Didn’t Like:

–More Drama–

Like most coming of age stories, I find you kinda go through the everyday motions of life so it can become a little monotonous. But let me be clear that I never got bored with this story! It has a great flow to it and you get these little inklings of the bigger story to come along the way so it builds as you read. What I’m trying to say is that I wish the “whoa!” moment came a touch earlier so we could get into it a little more…but I guess that’s what sequels are for 😉

My Audiobook Experience:

This was such a fabulous audio listen! Right when it started to play I was fully immersed into the story and the characters. The narrator here is Dollcie Webb and she does a great job of giving all the characters their own voices so it is super easy to follow along. She has the perfect cadence for an audiobook narrator–seriously, it was such a nice read to listen to that I was finished the novel before I new it!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

This book had a few surprises at that end that has me eager to see what will happen next!

My Rating: 3.5/5

Between the Sea and Stars 3.5/5 | Book 2 TBP

overall
If you love mermaids or want a different twist to your usual coming of age stories, pick this up!

Read if You Like: mermaids, coming of age
Avoid if You: want action

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Chantal Gadoury

Amazon Bestselling Author, Chantal Gadoury, is a 2011 graduate from Susquehanna University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing. Since graduation, she has published The Songs in Our Hearts, and The Songs We Remember, with 48Fourteen Publishing. Allerleirauh, Between the Sea and Stars, Blinding Night and WinterDream with the Parliament House Press. Chantal first started writing stories at the age of seven and continues with that love of writing today. For Chantal, writing novels has become a lifelong dream come true! When she’s not typing away at her next project, she enjoys painting, drinking lots of Iced Coffee, and watching Disney Classics. Chantal lives in Muncy, Pennsylvania with her Mom, sister and furry-‘brother’ Taran.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon | Instagram | Pintrest

 

Dollcie Webb (Narrator)

“Daydreams and whimsy with with a touch of pixie charm.”

A long-time daydreamer, Dollcie Webb has always carried a special fondness for Young Adult Fantasy literature. The poetic imagery and enticing otherworldliness call to her sense of curiosity, satisfying a deep desire to explore the world around her. A graduate of Michigan Technological University with a Bachelor’s in Theatre and Electronic Media Performance, she’s taken her experience in audio and theatrical performance and has melded the two into a career as an audiobook producer and narrator.

Narrator Links: Website | Facebook | Instagram

 

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Single Sundays: The Lies We Tell by Brittany Butler

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for The Lies We Tell (from Goodreads):

Natalie Conner is a self-proclaimed liar who is used to doing what she wants. There’s only one problem: the truth always comes to light.

When issues arise in her new life, she finds herself back at square one and the web of lies she clings to are unveiling before her. With her life now revolving around the past, she has a choice to make. However, for Natalie, when her life starts to spiral out of control, a new life and a new web of lies have never sounded so good.

Natalie Conner might be a liar, but her story isn’t one she can make up.

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Author: Brittany Butler
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Realistic Fiction
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: December 30, 2018
Source & Format: Author–eARC

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

What I liked about the Brittany Butler’s work is that it has different take on the contemporary romance novel. It isn’t always sunshine and rainbows; rather, you get the grittiness of everyday life and the complications of genuine people.

The Plot:

For me, this is one of those novels that I didn’t really get until the end. What I mean by that is that I didn’t understand the bigger picture/the purpose of this story until I read that epilogue.

I don’t think it helped that I had completely different expectations for this novel. I went in thinking it was going to be a story laced with deception and callous motives but that was far from the truth. Instead, this story focuses on the little lies we tell ourselves to get through life and how telling them (or by omitting them) we create bigger problems for ourselves in the end.

The Characters:

I struggled with Natalie’s character at the start of the novel (she is one jaded girl and it can be hard to read such a negative headspace). She’s a little wish-washy and hard to read at times but these are the characters that have the best opportunities for growth and she certainly did. I was pleased with her evolution by the end of the story.

The Romance:

I don’t want to give much away by getting into details. The romance plays a big role in the story in the sense that it is the starting point that everything builds off of. I’ll just finish off by saying that this novel really explores that not so pretty side of love; the more realistic side that is often overlooked in other contemporary romance novels and I enjoyed divining into that aspect a lot.

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My Rating: 3/5

overall

This novel would be perfect for fans of Emily Giffin because it has that same realistic, everyday grittiness to it as you explore the not always happy side of relationships and life.

Read if You Like: realistic fiction, adult contemporary
Avoid if You: dislike jaded heroines
similarreads

  • Love the One You’re With by Emily Giffin
  • Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares (Sisterhood Series #4)

 

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Blog Tour: Cruel Money (Cruel #1) by K A Linde

Synopsis for Cruel Money (from Goodreads):

She was supposed to be a one night stand.

A way to sate my sexual appetite.

I let her glimpse the man I am. The face that I hide behind my carefully cultivated life. But she ripped open that divide—and there’s no going back.

Now, she’s here. In my city.

I don’t care that I’m Manhattan royalty and she’s the help.

Only that she’s living in my summer home. With me.

And I want more.

Other books in the series:
book3

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: Cruel
Author: K A Linde
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)

There is a FREE prequel novella: #0.5 One Cruel Night

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Cruel Fortune, is to be released
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: January 22, 2019 – ongoing
Source & Format: Inkslinger PR–eARC

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I want a romance with a wicked twist along the way, K A Linde is my go to author. She never fails to surprise me when it comes to the drama of her romances. The romance is steamy and the drama is high–just what I like!

I was excited for this new series because it seemed like something I would love. Forbidden romance. NYC. Paris. I couldn’t wait to dive in!

What I Liked:

–Natalie–

I’ll be the first to say that I had to slowly warm up to Natalie a bit. I think her anger at the start made her seem abrupt and perhaps a little rude? But as the story progressed I really loved how she grew a backbone and become confident in herself. She doesn’t become this dependent heroine, rather she really does achieve independence so I was definitely on board with that!

–The Side Characters–

As I often am with these types of stories, I immediately got sucked into the lives of the side characters. I really hope we can elaborate more on their romances and shared histories in future novels.

Cruel Intentions meets Gossip Girl

Without a doubt, Cruel Intentions has one of my all time favourite romance tropes at the heart of it (playboy falls hard for his target) but I also adore (weird I know) the manipulation of the characters. Which is where the Gossip Girl comparisons come in. I associate the Upper East Side with high drama and backstabbing frenemies and a whole lot of angst. That’s all definitely here.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Wish-Washy Penn–

Don’t get me wrong, I had a major crush on Penn. He’s charming and everything I like in my playboy heroes so I was a fan. But I had the hardest time getting a read on him. Just when I think I had him figured out, he’d do something that just seemed out of character for me. I suppose part of that is the point of the story (you don’t really know his true intentions) but it just made his character lack some stability as a character (if you get what I’m saying).

–It Seemed a Little Tame?–

I came in expecting a lot of drama and I don’t think I got as much as I wanted. Sure, the story is super angsty and there is lots of Upper East Side Drama like you expect. But everything just seemed a little more toned down than I’m used to. But I could definitely sense that things were building by the end of the novel so I’m thinking bigger things are to come!

When to Read #0.5 One Cruel Night:

I would highly recommend that you read the novella before you read #1 Cruel Money. I found that novella really highlighted Natalie and Penn’s relationship and gave me a foundation that was lacking at the start of the novel for me when it comes to the romance. It gives you their history but doesn’t give any of the big secrets away either. Plus, the novella is super great; I wish it was longer!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Things are ramping up and I can’t wait to see how all this will unfold!

My Rating: 3.5/5

[One Cruel Night 4/5] | Cruel Money 3.5/5 | Cruel Fortune TBP | Cruel Legacy TBP

overall
This is perfect for fans of Cruel Intentions and angsty romance reads!

Read if You Like: Cruel Intentions, the Upper East Side
Avoid if You: dislike angsty, billionaire romances

similarreads

  • Little Black Book by Tabatha Vargo (Little Black Book Series #1)
  • I Bet You by Isla Madden-Mills (The Hook-Up Series #2)
  • Fair Game by Monica Murphy (The Rules Series #1)

 


K A Linde

K.A. Linde is the USA Today bestselling author of the Avoiding Series, Wrights, and more than thirty other novels. She has a Masters degree in political science from the University of Georgia, was the head campaign worker for the 2012 presidential campaign at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and served as the head coach of the Duke University dance team. She loves reading fantasy novels, binge-watching Supernatural, traveling, and dancing in her spare time.

She currently lives in Lubbock, Texas, with her husband and two super-adorable puppies.

Author Links: Goodreads | Website | Twitter

 

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Single Sundays: Exmas by Winter Renshaw

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Exmas (from Goodreads):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

breakdown

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

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

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

The Concept:

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

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

The Plot:

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

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

The Characters:

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

The Romance:

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

My Rating: 4.5/5

overall

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

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

similarreads

  • Sweet Spot by Stella Rhys (Irresistible Series #1)
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ARC Review + Blitz: Defensive Play by Jamie Deacon

Synopsis for Defensive Play (from Goodreads):

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

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

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

Other books in the series:

breakdown

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

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon / KoboiBooks

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

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

The Plot:

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

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

The Characters:

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

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

The Romance:

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

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

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

My Rating: 4/5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“It’s Davey, right?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You’re not out,” he says, “are you?”

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

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

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

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

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

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Jamie Deacon

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

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

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

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