Tag «forbidden love»

Fresh Fridays: Sweet Black Waves (#1) by Kristina Pérez

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

Sweet Black Waves Series

Other books planned to be in the series:
book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Sweet Black Waves (from Goodreads):

Not you without me, not me without you.

Two proud kingdoms stand on opposite shores, with only a bloody history between them.

As best friend and lady-in-waiting to the princess, Branwen is guided by two principles: devotion to her homeland and hatred for the raiders who killed her parents. When she unknowingly saves the life of her enemy, he awakens her ancient healing magic and opens her heart. Branwen begins to dream of peace, but the princess she serves is not so easily convinced. Fighting for what’s right, even as her powers grow beyond her control, will set Branwen against both her best friend and the only man she’s ever loved.

Inspired by the star-crossed tale of Tristan and Eseult, this is the story of the legend’s true heroine: Branwen. For fans of Graceling and The Mists of Avalon, this is the first book of a lush fantasy trilogy about warring countries, family secrets, and forbidden romance.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite YA New Series 2018
Series: Sweet Black Waves Trilogy
Author: Kristina Perez
# of Books: 3 (Sweet Black Waves, Wild Savage Stars, Book 3)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Wild Savage Stars, will be published in 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Magic, Retelling
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Date: June 5, 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC | Thank you Imprint Publishing!

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I managed to snag one of the few “read now” copies of this book on Netgalley and I couldn’t wait to dive in. I love forbidden romance stories and you don’t get much more famous than the legend of Tristan and Isolde (unless you are Romeo and Juliet perhaps). I’ve read a lot of Romeo and Juliet inspired stories but not very many of Tristan Isolde. Perhaps the adulterous nature of their story turns people away? Regardless, I was very intrigued to see how Pérez would used the tale to highlight a character who isn’t a part of the famous duo.

What I Liked:

–Rich World Building–

It’s always readily apparent to me how much work an author has put into a story and when I was only a few chapters in, I knew how much research and thought Kristina Pérez had put into crafting this world. Not only is the world intricately crafted with its lush setting of magic and politics, but the weaving of the various Tristan and Isolde legends is beautifully done.

I know the gist of the various legends but there was still an element of anticipation in this novel as I waited to see how everything would unfold and it takes a great talent to do that with a novel that has been inspired by such a well known tale.

–The Layered Characters–

It really was the characters that sold this story for me. Everyone has so many layers to them, not just Branwen (though she is a fascinating lead to follow). This truly is a character driven story as I found there isn’t much else to the plot besides Branwen navigating her role in court as various obstacles appear along the way. Nevertheless, it is entertaining and for someone who loves political intrigue in her novels, I was a huge fan!

–The Romance–

I can’t ignore the romance when it is based on one of the most famous romances of all time. I don’t want to give much away, but all I will say is SWOON! I was a big fan!

What I Didn’t Like:

–I Discovered the Glossary at the Very End of Reading–

Not that this was a hard story to follow when it comes to the terms and the language used. I’ve studied Latin and French so I was able to figure it out quickly. But I always hate when I discover the glossary once I’ve finished the book…it’s one of the biggest issues I have with reading ebooks but alas, it wasn’t a huge deal here.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

GAH! What an ending! I’m so invested in all these characters that I can’t wait to see what will happen next. I personally don’t see how this will be a trilogy given the plot of just the first book alone so I know some major stuff must be on the way in order to get to that third novel.

My Rating: 5/5

Sweet Black Waves 5/5 | Wild Savage Stars TBP | Book 3 TBP

overall

Despite the somewhat muted plot (when you compare it to other fantasy and high fantasy novels), there was never a dull moment in this book. Personally, it reminded me a lot of Blackhearts with its similar focus on the characters and romance while working within a well known legend. Only this one is a fantasy story and involves more politics.

Read if You Like: fantasy, inspired by well known legends
Avoid if You: want more action

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  • Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman (Blackhearts Series #1)
  • Graceling by Kristin Cashore (Graceling Realm #1)

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Blog Tour: The Amber Elixir (Two Realms Novella #1) by Ariella Moon

Synopsis for The Amber Elixir (from Goodreads):
Viviane, the new Lady of the Lake and High Priestess of Avalon, accepts a challenge from Merlin unaware her bold actions will have tragic consequences. Two of her priestesses are turned to stone. A forbidden love deserts her. Now alone, she has six young handmaidens to train and protect.

When Morgan le Fay demands assistance with a spell that could change the balance of power in the Two Realms, Viviane refuses her. But what if Morgan’s secret knowledge could restore the stone priestesses? Will an alliance prompt Viviane’s love to return? Or will the gamble cost her all she holds dear?

Other books in the series:
book3

breakdown

Series: Two Realms Trilogy / Two Realms Novellas
Author: Ariella Moon
# of Books: 2 (The Beltane Escape, The Viking Mist, Book 3)

There is a novella, The Amber Elixir. (Recommended to read after Book 1)

Book Order: Unsure
Complete?: No, The Viking Mist, is to be published
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magic, Arthurian Legend
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: February 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Xpresso Book Tours–eARC

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon / Kobo / Barnes and Noble

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I love Arthurian Legend! I even took a course about it for my English minor because I just love the whole idea of this epic story and world. When I saw that The Amber Elixir has a different take on the Arthurian world, I just had to see what was in store.

What I Liked:

–The World Building–

Ariella Moon has done a great job of weaving classic Arthurian elements and her own imaginings into this novella. It’s a really interesting blend of fantasy elements at play and I loved learning more as I read.

I think fans of classic fantasy novels will love the world we get here. It’s very complex and rich and completely captivates you.

–Weaving of Different Stories–

While the focus is mostly on Viviane and her role in the world, we get introduced to quite a few players and that just makes everything a little fuller and more complex. I like stories that have a lot going on; that have multiple storylines and characters involved and this one has it. I found this to be a very strong story and for its novella length, it reads more like a full novel.

–Viviane’s Forbidden Love–

While this isn’t a romance by any means, Vivane’s forbidden love does play a crucial role in Viviane’s development and actions. I’ll just say that I really liked why this was “forbidden” and how it upped the ante for this story.

What I Didn’t Like:

–That I Probably Should Have Read Book 1 First–

You can definitely read this novel without reading The Beltane Escape. It does a great job of tying the two together to get readers up to speed. It is noted on Ariella’s site she does recommend reading this novella after The Beltane Escape. My problem was that I didn’t know there was a Book 1 so I was a little confused during the prologue what was happening as I unaware we’ve been introduced to this world before.

But like I said, I quickly got up to speed and found myself immersed into this world as it does focus on other characters. And if anything, it made me curious to pick up The Beltane Escape 😉

 

My Rating: 3/5

The Beltane Escape N/A | [The Amber Elixir 3/5] | The Viking Mist TBP | Book 3 TBP

overall
Perfect for fans of stories involving Arthurian Legend and classic fantasy novels, this is a series you’ll want to read!

Read if You Like: Arthurian Legend, fantasy, magic
Avoid if You: dislike fantasy, want more romance

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Ariella Moon

Ariella Moon draws upon her experiences as a shaman to create magical Young Adult fiction. Her Two Realms Trilogy is a medieval fantasy adventure series. The Teen Wytche Saga is a series of sweet contemporary paranormal romances.

Ariella spent her childhood searching for a magical wardrobe that would transport her to Narnia. Extreme math anxiety and taller students that mistook her for a leaning post marred her youth. Despite these horrors, she graduated summa cum laude from the University of California at Davis. She lives a nearly normal life doting on her extraordinary daughter, two shamelessly spoiled dogs, and a media-shy dragon.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Goodreads

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Blog Tour: Spider by Ilsa Madden-Mills

Synopsis for Spider (from Goodreads):

He’s a British rock star.
And my stepbrother.
What can go wrong?

He called himself Spider. I just knew him as the sinfully gorgeous guy with eyes of fire that fate sat next to me on the airplane. I didn’t know who he really was…rock star…my stepbrother.

He kissed me because he thought we’d never see each other again. We would.

Everyone warned me about him.
They said he was ruthless and cold and screwed up.
They said he’d leave me with a hole in my heart.

Maybe I should have listened.
Maybe I should have built up a fortress to keep him out.
But I crumbled instead.

Some have said there’s an unbreakable thread that connects those who are destined to meet. If that’s true, then the moment he sat next to me, we were bound together forever.

He just had to figure it out before it’s too late…

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Author: Ilsa Madden-Mills
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: November 13, 2017
Source & Format: Social Butterfly PR–eARC

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I was first introduced to Ilsa Madden-Mills when I read her English Series last year. She totally won me over with her great blend of character growth and romance and she’s an author I’ve been keeping an eye on ever since.

When I read the synopsis for Spider, I HAD to read it! I love anything dealing with rockstars and the promise of a forbidden romance? Yeah, I’m a sucker! And given my previous experience with her work, I knew I was in for a solidly swoon-worthy romance.

The Plot:

This is simply a well crafted novel. All too often these forbidden romances get lost in the sexiness of the forbidden. You know what I mean: just sexy time after sexy time. But where Ilsa Madden-Mills succeeds in her stories–and this one in particular–is the balance between romance and character development. She devotes enough time to each to give you well rounded stories that you find yourself completely addicted to.

I also enjoyed the allusions to Jane Eyre. It isn’t a huge part of the novel but anyone familiar with the classic will see parallels here and there. The English student in me loves that type of stuff and Madden-Mills just does it all so flawlessly.

The Characters:

I really liked these two. Both are such strong–albeit flawed–characters and I loved watching them grow as the story progressed. I’ve encountered similar characters before but Rose and Spider definitely had a uniqueness to them. They have those rich backgrounds that bring their characters to life in a way I love in my romances.

I also liked that their growth wasn’t totally reliant on their relationship. They each grow in an independent way that I appreciated.

The Romance:

While I loved the chemistry these two had, I thought the spark was a little too “insta” for me. I get that this book is exploring the idea that people can be linked through a simple connection but I don’t like when there’s just “something about them” that makes the person want to change everything to be with the other. And I felt that was the case for Spider when he meets Rose. One look and he’s a goner.

I definitely got the attraction and I from their first encounter I could see how they would bring out the best in each other. But I wanted to see more of that. There isn’t a whole lot of time between them meeting on the plane and deciding to completely upend their lives to be together. As the characters evolved, I began to appreciate the romance more but I wanted that early stage of their relationship to be a little more substantial.

My Rating: 4/5

overall
This is a solid forbidden romance story that has a great focus on character growth instead of sexy times. (Though the sexual tension is brimming in this book!)

Read if You Like: forbidden romance, step-sibling relationships
Avoid if You: want more erotica based romance
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Ilsa Madden-Mills

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Ilsa Madden-Mills writes about strong heroines and sexy alpha males that sometimes you just want to slap.

She’s addicted to dystopian books and all things fantasy, including unicorns and sword-wielding females. Other fascinations include frothy coffee beverages, dark chocolate, Instagram, Ian Somerhalder (seriously hot), astronomy (she’s a Gemini), and tattoos.

She has a degree in English and a Master’s in Education.

When she’s not pecking away on her computer, she shops for cool magnets and paints old furniture.

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

 

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Series Review: Fortunate by Jessica Roe

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 Because of Him (from Goodreads):

Blair Ackerman is a girl with crazy hair and a bad attitude. She’s a girl who doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her. She’s a girl with only a duffel bag and a car named Nancy to her name, and that’s okay by her. She’s tough because she has to be. Nobody gets inside her head, nobody gets inside her heart.

Silver is everything she’s never wanted. He’s a good guy, a smart guy, a guy who’s never met a girl like her before. He’s the kind of guy who loves history, who laughs at his own jokes, who kisses like a sinful dream. He’s the kind of guy who might just break down her walls and get inside her heart and make her feel.

Too bad he’s forbidden.

Because when Blair’s mom dies and she’s sent to live with the father she’s never met and a family that doesn’t want her, Blair and Silver cross paths in ways they never could have imagined, and they discover that even though they know they should, they can’t quite bring themselves to stay apart.

Opposites really do attract.

breakdown

Series: Fortunate
Author: Jessica Roe
# of Books: 5 (Full Reading List)

The novels that start with “Something” are longer novellas, not full novels.

Book Order: Connected
Complete?: More books are planned
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Single (Because of Him); Alternating (Falling For Him, onwards)
Publication Dates: December 2014 – ongoing
Source & Format: Own & Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Once again, who knows how this series crossed my radar but I bought Because of Him a few years ago and finally got around to it thanks to my 2017 #ShelfLove Reading Challenge. Which worked in my favour because by this point, my library got the rest of the novels in the series (minus one) and I could binge read the series.

I was drawn to Because of Him thanks to the line:

Blair and Silver cross paths in ways they never could have imagined, and they discover that even though they know they should, they can’t quite bring themselves to stay apart.

I love books with secrets and this one sounded juicy (though Goodreads spoiled it for me a bit when I saw the tags associated with the novel. Ugh.) so I couldn’t wait to find out what this forbidden love was.

The Plot:

What I really enjoyed about these books is that they have the right balance between character development and romance. You get to see these characters evolve and learn from their pasts in a way that is tied to the romance but not necessarily because of the romance. What I mean is that the leads don’t change who they are simply to get the “girl/guy”, rather they better themselves for themselves. I just love that.

I also like that you get integrated into the lives of the side characters–who eventually become the next novel’s leads. While you could definitely read these books as standalones, you get little hints of what is happening next (and where those past couples are now) and it makes you addicted to finding out the future holds for everyone.

The Characters:

I liked all of these characters. They all seemed very real and genuine to me. I easily got very invested in their stories which was great and had me eager for the next story.

The Romance:

All of these couples have fantastic chemistry: that is apparent from the start. Even when it seems like the romance might be based solely on physical chemistry, it evolves to be so much more. The best way I can describe it is as a slow burn romance that takes it time to reach the end goal but gives you enough along the way you aren’t deprived of those romantic moments you love.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I definitely have one character in mind that I want to see the story for so I’m excited for that to come!

Series Rating: 4/5

Because of Him 4/5 | Something Real 4/5 | Falling for Him 5/5 | Something True 4/5 | Nothing Like Him 3/5

overall

Definitely one of the most solid NA romance series I’ve ever read in terms of consistency. Each book on its own is great, filled with awesome characters and fantastic romance. Readers will definitely enjoy this one!

Read if You Like: NA romance, connected series
Avoid if You: want erotica, dislike slow burn
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Single Sundays: The Forbidden by Jodi Ellen Malpas

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 Forbidden (from Goodreads):

A new story of dangerous temptations from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the This Man trilogy.

Annie has never experienced the ‘spark’ with a guy-that instant chemistry that renders you weak in the knees. That is, until a night out brings her face to face with the dangerously sexy and mysterious Jack. It’s not just a spark that ignites between them. It’s an explosion. Jack promises to consume Annie, and he fully delivers on that promise.

Overwhelmed by the intensity of their one night together, Annie slips out of their hotel room. She is certain that a man who’s had such a powerful impact on her must be dangerous. She has no idea that he belongs to another. That he’s forbidden.

breakdown

Author: Jodi Ellen Malpas
Genre: Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: hot
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: August 8, 2017
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC | Thank you Forever Publishing!

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve never read a Jodi Ellen Malpas novel but I know that she has a very strong and loyal fan base. So when I had the opportunity to read her latest novel, I knew I had to seize it.

It doesn’t hurt that this novel is billed as a “forbidden romance”. I LOVE forbidden/taboo romances. They have this edge of suspense to them that keeps me hooked thanks to all the secrets, drama and passion. I couldn’t wait to dive into this novel and see what was in store for me.

The Concept:

Let’s just say, I never saw what the “taboo” element was going to be and I loved that. When we had that big reveal, my mouth dropped and I muttered some curses because, damn, it’s a good one. It sucked me in like no one’s business.

The Plot:

While this story is a romance as its core, there is enough going on to keep the story moving and fresh. I never had a dull moment reading this novel. I was hooked.

The story has a great blend of being real and dramatic at the same time. The circumstances Annie and Jack find themselves in I think is fairly realistic. Some of the drama that accompanies it definitely has a dramatic flare but it just works so well with this story.

The Characters:

I really loved all the characters here. Malpas does a great job of bringing them to life and making you see their side of the situation. Did I agree with all their choices? No, but I could appreciate them and why they felt they had to make the choices they did.

The Romance:

One of the most important elements for me in a forbidden romance is that the novel has to convince me why these two should pursue their relationship despite all the obstacles in the way. I want to fall in love with these characters despite what they are doing–I want to root for them.

And this novel succeeded in that in every way!

I loved these two together–they have this phenomenal chemistry and connection–and I desperately wanted to see a positive outcome for them. And given the “forbidden” nature of this story, Malpas has done an amazing job to elicit that reaction from me.

My Rating: 5/5

overall

One of the best forbidden romances I’ve ever read. It kept me on the edge of my seat and had me totally invested in the outcome.

Read if You Like: forbidden love
Avoid if You: dislike romantic dramas
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Single Sundays: Illicit by June Gray

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 Illicit (from Goodreads):
I never meant to be the other woman…

Jake and I felt a connection the moment he walked into my life, an attraction both of us tried so hard to deny. Still, I found myself longing for the very thing I couldn’t have.

I didn’t set out to fall in love with Jake. Not when he clearly wasn’t mine.

He was my mother’s.

* Illicit is a full-length standalone novel told in five parts. It contains strong language and sexual content and is recommended for readers 18 and over. *

breakdown

Author: June Gray
Genre: Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Taboo
Heat Rating: Really Warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: April 27, 2016
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I normally don’t read books I buy the same day I get them. Usually, they sit on my eReader for a couple months years until I randomly select the title for a reading challenge or as a way to pass the time. But after reading a particularly emotional draining read, I needed something to pick up my spirits.

I love forbidden romances. Not the dirty, taboo erotica kind: I’m talkin’ the ones that make you wonder why stepsiblings can’t fall in love or ones where the heroine falls in love with the off-limits hero. They are usually filled with sexual tension and swoon-worthy moments. But I’m also extremely picky. I want the author to convince me that these our leads should defy all convention and stay together–you need to prove it to me.

I read–and enjoyed–June Gray’s Disarm Serial years ago. So when this title popped up on a “discounted eBooks” email I subscribe to, I took a second glance. And when I saw the line “He was my mother’s.”, I quickly double checked the price and immediately bought it.

The Concept:

Like I said, it’s hard to find that somewhat forbidden/taboo romance that isn’t pure erotica and makes you feel all icky immediately after reading it. So I was excited that this story was going to explore this type of “taboo” relationship.

Mila Ferrera’s Everything Between Us has a similar “taboo” relationship where the daughter falls in love with her mother’s lover. I really enjoyed that story because there was SO MUCH MORE than just the forbidden romance (like the characters’ mental health and their subsequent development) at play. But I haven’t come across a similar situation elsewhere.

Now, this concept is not for everyone. I mean, if this was real life, I would be seriously concerned. But like I said in my “Let Fiction Be Fiction” Discussion post last year: I like when you can explore these situations in a fictional setting. I’m curious by nature and I wanted to see if June Gray could convince me that this romance was more sweet than gross.

The Plot:

This story was originally written as a serial that got bundled together into one novel–and it shows since the story is divided into parts. That also means the story moves fast and keeps the details to a minimum. Which works well since there is always some new twist that occurs to keep the reader coming back for more.

But in the same breathe, that means you really only scratch the surface of what is happening here. Instead of teasing out the conflict, you only what’s needed to get the point across. I’m not saying I wanted a full blown essay on why it’s ok to lust after your mom’s boyfriend–I just wanted to explore this situation a bit more because it is so unique.

The Characters:

Naturally, due to the format of this series being a serial, the characters are pretty one-dimensional. But they do their job well to tell the story.

The Romance:

I appreciated the fact that this never turned into an erotica (yes, there are sex scenes but they are pretty tame compared to some NA stuff I read). It’s not like you are reading page after page of lusty thoughts and then said thoughts acted upon for another 5 pages.

You actually get to see these characters interact; learn a little why they might be drawn to each other; and don’t forget the sexual tension!

But at the same time, I did want a little more to this. A mutual love of books does not seem a valid of enough reason to sleep with your mom’s boyfriend…#sorrynotsorry

My Rating: 3/5

overall

This one started so strong for me, but the serial nature of this story ends up being its downfall. It feels a little rushed and then it becomes a little too dramatic. I wanted a heartfelt forbidden romance and I didn’t totally get that here. But I do appreciate the fact that it isn’t erotica!

Read if You Like: taboo/forbidden romances, serialized stories, quick read
Avoid if You: dislike cheating; can’t get passed the taboo nature.

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Single Sundays: Bad Romance by Jen McLaughlin

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 Bad Romance (from Goodreads):
Seven years in the army will change a guy. But after a shoulder wound ends his career as a sniper, Jackson Worthington finds himself back home, fighting a battle that’s all too familiar: keeping his hands off Lily Hastings. She’s still her rich daddy’s little angel, innocent, impossibly lovely, as squeaky-clean as Jackson is dirty. And she’s still his stepsister—forbidden but not forgotten, not after the soul-melting kiss that got him kicked out of the house at eighteen. He couldn’t resist her then. How the hell can he resist her now?

Lily is about to marry a man she doesn’t love, and commit to a high-stress job she hates, all to please the father who controls every waking moment of her life. On top of everything, her teenage crush is back, with a sleek, chiseled body and a trace of the rebellious boy whose lips sealed her fate. Jackson’s timing couldn’t be worse . . . or better. Because Lily’s all grown up, too. She’s aching for another taste. And for the first time, she’s ready to be a bad girl.

breakdown

Author: Jen McLaughlin
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: September 15, 2015
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I first saw Bad Romance on Netgalley but wasn’t able to request it for a review at the time. I really enjoyed McLaughlin’s Out of Line Series and her Sex on the Beach Series so it seemed like a no brainer. Plus, I wanted to dive further into the romance world of forbidden Step-Brother romances. Rival is one of my favourite NA novels and it has a similar concept, so I was looking forward to expanding my horizons.

The Plot:

Besides these two having an unrequited love for each other for years, the plot for this one of so illogical it actually hurt my brain.

Lilly’s main argument for keeping her shame of an engagement irked me to no end because it was a stupid point. I mean, I understood the basis of it because she is a nice human being; but why she felt this obligation to save the company was beyond me. There are 20 other ways that conflict of a failing company could have been resolved. It just made her look like an idiot in the grand scheme of things. Super frustrating!

The Characters:

Like I said, Lilly seemed to not be the brightest crayon in the box and that annoyed me to no end. And its a shame because she did seem to be a decent person who just couldn’t think things through all the way to the end.

Jackson wasn’t anything new either. Meh.

The Romance:

While these two had a strong physical chemistry, I wanted their emotional connected to be established more. If it’s a “forbidden” romance, you have to convince me why they need to defy all the odds to be together. And while I get it on a basic level, I wish we had more background on these two and why they always felt drawn to each other.

My Rating: 2/5

overall

I simply wanted more from this book and it just didn’t deliver. There are definitely better step-brother romances out there.

Read if You Like: step-brother romances
Avoid if You: want a stronger romance connection, want more logic

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Series Review: The Collide by J C Hannigan

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 Collide (from Goodreads):
Harlow Jones has a troubled past, and a questionable future. Surrounded by death, tragedy, and intrigue, she is forced to mature long before her time. Plagued by anxiety and depression, she hides her inner turmoil with spite and sarcasm. Her thick skin is impenetrable…or so she thought. Until she becomes involved with her grade twelve English teacher.

In this exclusive entry into the new adult genre, with raw style that is as dark as it is poignant, Collide presents the ultimate choice: forbidden love or doing the right thing.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Canadian Author
Series: Collide Trilogy
Author: J C Hannigan
# of Books: 3 (Collide, Consumed, Collateral)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult/New Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: May – November 2015
Source & Format: Author–eARC  |  Thank you J C Hannigan!

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

J C Hannigan is a Canadian author who has quite a few titles under her belt. But it was Collide that really grabbed my attention.

I love a good forbidden romance and that’s what drew me to this title. Student-teacher romances are often glorified on TV but in real life, they are far from that. So I was curious to see what path this story would take.

The Plot:

I went into Collide thinking it was going to be a straight forward romance; focusing entirely on the relationship between Harlow and her teacher. But that really wasn’t the case. While the romance plays a big role in the plot, a sexual assault case really takes center stage and is the driving force of this first novel. And I really didn’t mind because it was an intriguing case. You really get to see how Harlow’s character deals with everything thrown at her which makes for an entertaining read.

Consumed deals with the consequences of the first novel and I liked that a lot. Most of the time in New Adult series you get a new set of characters in the sequel novel so you don’t see how the characters deal long term with everything that has happened. But here, you still follow Harlow as she tries to orient her life. The novel is also much more suspenseful and has some great plot twists along the way.

Collateral was definitely the more subdued of the other novels. But I enjoyed watching everything come full circle and it was a solid way to end the series.

The Characters:

Harlow reminded me of a young Rose from Vampire Academy. That type of girl who presents a strong front because of all the crappy things life has thrown her way. I just loved the way to carried herself–she made it really easy to root for her to succeed in whatever thing she got herself into.

But this series is very character driven. I like how it takes its time to explore Harlow’s life journey as she deals with things from her past and present. As I said before, it was nice to stick with one character for all 3 novels and watch her grow because of everything that happens.

The Romance:

In Collide, I would have liked a little more focus on the romance in terms of its development. I felt like the connection was a little unseen between the two of them (ie love at first sight sort-of deal). I like my forbidden romances to really show me why these two should defy convention and be involved romantically. And there definitely is some development on that later in the book but I would have enjoyed a little more.

I did like that there wasn’t a huge focus on their intimate scenes. This book is a pretty clean entry into the New Adult genre in that respect and it complimented the story well I thought. Because it isn’t about the crazy physical attraction these two have together, rather it is there mutual understanding of each other.

Series Rating: 4/5

Collide 4/5 | Consumed 4/5 | Collateral 3/5

overall

This series has so many great aspects to it: great character development; realistic plot lines; forbidden love and numerous plot twists. If you enjoy New Adult contemporaries with a more suspenseful plotline that is lighter on the sex, this is a fabulous series for you to read!

Read if You Like: stories without copious sex scenes, character focused stories
Avoid if You: want steamier romance, want more over the top drama

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Series Review: Furious Rush by S C Stephens

Synopsis for Furious Rush (from Goodreads):
The first in an emotion-fueled, New Adult series from the #1 bestselling author of the Thoughtless novels!

Too fast, too furious—and way too hot to handle…

Mackenzie Cox has a lot to prove. Daughter of a racing legend, she is eager to show the world that she has inherited her father’s talent in the male-dominated sport of professional motorcycle racing. The last thing Kenzie needs is to be antagonized by her rival team’s newest rider, Hayden Hayes. Plucked from the world of illegal street racing, Hayden immediately gets under Kenzie’s skin. His insinuations that Kenzie is a spoiled princess who was handed her career fuels her desire to win, and much to her surprise, Kenzie soon learns she performs better when she’s racing against Hayden.

As Kenzie and Hayden push each other on the track, the electric energy between them off the track shifts into an intense—and strictly forbidden—attraction. The only rule between their two ultra-competitive teams is zero contact. Kenzie always does her best to play by the rules, but when her team slips into a financial crisis, she has no choice but to turn to Hayden for help. The tension simmers during their secret, late-night rendezvous, but Kenzie has too much to lose to give in to her desires. Especially when she begins to doubt that Hayden has completely left his street life behind…

Other books in the series:

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Series: Furious Rush
Author: S C Stephens
# of Books: 1+ (Furious Rush, Book 2)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book 2 is to be published
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Drama, Sports
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: August 23, 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC | Thanks Forever Publishing

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I love a good forbidden romance and this one seemed to fit the bill perfectly when I read the synopsis. Rivals falling in love? It doesn’t get much better than this folks!

The world also grabbed my attention. Racing stories are few and far better–or they are for me–and the premise of a young women trying to break into a male-dominated world fascinated me. I dunno how many people remember the Disney Original Movie Motorcrossed, but it was a favourite of mine growing up.

The World:

I know nothing about professional racing but Stephens provides you enough to get easily understand the world. You aren’t bombarded with information nor are you left hanging wondering what the heck is happening.

It was great entering this world and a nice change in pace from the endless Football heroes…

The Plot:

This one started on the slower side for me. While the sexual tension was brimming from the get-go, I found the drama took awhile to reach its peak. In hindsight, it’s a great set-up for the rest of the series but I just felt like there were too many open-ended questions left.

The Characters:

Kenzie was a strong heroine. She sticks to her convictions even when the world is telling her not too. Her love and loyalty for her family is commendable and two of her best attributes. It made it easy for me to root for and empathize with her as the story progressed.

Hayden is the bad boy with a heart of gold that you can’t help to fall for. One of the nice things about not getting his POV is the mystery of who he is and why. I loved uncovering more about him as Kenzie did. I forget how nice only having a single POV can be in terms of suspense.

The Romance:

These two are perfect for each other and I love how obvious that is early on. If it is a forbidden romance, you need to convince me that these two belong together–and Stephens does that excellently! It was great watching these two fall in love, fighting every obstacle in their way!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Like I said, I felt a lot of things were left open-ended so I’m very curious to see what is going to happen next!

My Rating: 3.5/5

Furious Rush 3.5/5 | Book 2 TBA

overall
It was super refreshing to have a sports novel set in a non-traditional sport like racing. The forbidden love aspect provides the perfect slow burn romance to keep you eager for more. Plus, the drama promises lots of fallout in the novels to come!

Read if You Like: sport-based novels, drama, forbidden romance
Avoid if You: dislike drama, dislike slow burn romance

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About S C Stephens:
S. C. Stephens is a #1 bestselling author who spends her every free moment creating stories that are packed with emotion and heavy on romance. In addition to writing, she enjoys spending lazy afternoons in the sun reading, listening to music, watching movies, and spending time with her friends and family. She and her two children reside in the Pacific Northwest.

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Series Review: The DIMILY Trilogy by Estelle Maskame

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

  

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Synopsis for Did I Mention I Love You? (from Goodreads):

Love is everything but expected.

Eden Munro came to California for a summer of sun, sand, and celebrities—what better way to forget about the drama back home? Until she meets her new family of strangers: a dad she hasn’t seen in three years, a stepmom, and three stepbrothers.

Eden gets her own room in her dad’s fancy house in Santa Monica. A room right next door to her oldest stepbrother, Tyler Bruce. Whom she cannot stand. He has angry green eyes and an ego bigger than a Beverly Hills mansion. She’s never felt such intense dislike for someone. But the two are constantly thrown together as his group of friends pulls her into their world of rule-breaking, partying, and pier-hanging.

And the more she tries to understand what makes Tyler burn hotter than the California sun, the more Eden finds herself falling for the one person she shouldn’t love…

breakdown

Series: DIMILY Trilogy or Did I Mention I Love You Trilogy
Author: Estelle Maskame
# of Books: 3 (Did I Mention I Love You?, Did I Mention I Need You?, Did I Mention I Miss You?)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: July 2015 – December 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–Paperback (Sourcebooks Fire edition); Netgalley (DIMIMY)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I first saw DIMILY on Netgalley but I wasn’t able to read a copy. So I patiently waited for my library to get a copy and eventually, I was able to read it.

I really, really enjoyed Rival by Penelope Douglas a couple of years ago which also has a step-sibling relationship. I love forbidden romances so I think it’s obvious why DIMILY was on my radar. I was hoping for a more New Adult version of a YA contemporary but was willing to give this one a chance because the plot-line really intrigued me.

The Plot:

The plot in Did I Mention I Love You (DIMILY) is your typical YA story set in California: lots of underage parties with the rich, beautiful kids and their overly dramatic lives. Don’t forget the teen angst! It’s here in buckets!

DIMILY is really just Eden trying to navigate her new everyday family life by immersing herself in the Californian way of life. She has her own insecurities from the past (that slowly get revealed in time but that I felt were pretty obvious) and she harbours a lot of (understandable) resentment towards her father whom she has agreed to stay with for the summer. She does a lot of rebelling which is interesting; it just gets monotonous over time because it is always the same thing.

Honestly, there isn’t that much to the plot but there is something addicting about the story in a guilty pleasure kind of way. Mostly, I think it was the enigma that is Tyler that keep me reading because I wanted to get to the bottom of his story and could have cared less about Eden and her issues.

Did I Mention I Need You (DIMINY) is your typical bridging trilogy romance BUT, I found it much easier to read (see in the characters section below for why). Again, it had this addicting quality to it that kept me intrigued from start to finish. Eden’s character development seemed to come to light more here as well.

The Characters:

As someone who reads a lot of New Adult novels now (I rarely read a YA contemporary), the problems these characters faced seemed a little petty. So it made getting comfortable with Eden as a narrator difficult; especially because she is so angsty at the start of the series. I did, however, manage to look past her angst in order to see why she acts the way she does and it did work for the most part. Eden has a lot of self-esteem issues that come to the surface and influence her character development too. I was really hoping for a little more focus on that as the story progressed but it doesn’t really happen all that much. Regardless, she does has some depth to her.

I also struggled with Eden’s actions as a character. I was never able to get a good read on her. It wasn’t like she was saying one thing and then completely doing another, but I really don’t think she thought things through all the way in most situations. Perhaps that is the result of her being a 16 year old girl and needing to mature a bit (I had to remind myself numerous times that these characters were still in high school) or simply a result of her self-esteem issues, I’m not really sure. She also comes across as slightly selfish–but that does get better as the series progresses. Regardless, I didn’t really love Eden as a character and it made it hard to root for her at times.

Tyler on the other hand was interesting. It could be the result of him not having a POV, leaving you to only know as much about him as Eden (the narrator) does but I found his character was much more complex than Eden’s. His journey kept me interested in the story more so than Eden did and I liked watching it unfold.

The Romance:

This was a little lacklustre for me in DIMILY. Seeing as it was the main selling point for picking up the series, I really wanted to be blown away.

While Eden is (understandably) intrigued by Tyler, I really didn’t think they interacted that much or at least enough to warrant the feelings they do. Yes, she keeps digging into his life and shows that she cares–which is great and obviously something he needed–but I didn’t get the fascination on either end truthfully.

Their relationship becomes stronger as the series continues but they definitely aren’t gracing my list of favourite couples ever–even if I have come to root for them.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

DIMINY’s ending has me very curious to see what is going to happen in the finale. Hopefully we see some mature characters who have learned from their past actions and get a super romantic finale. The more I read about these characters, the more I want to see things work out for everyone involved.

updates

–December 4, 2016– Book #3: Did I Mention I Miss You? (DIMIMY)

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I had high expectations for this finale. Everything has been building for this book and I couldn’t wait to dive in!

And it was perfect! This was exactly what I wanted in this final book.

The proof of character growth that we got here was fantastic. These aren’t the same characters we had in DIMILY. They’ve grown and it’s shown here perfectly. I loved watching Eden mature into the young woman she becomes. I wasn’t a big fan of hers at the start of this series but I’ve really grown to like who she has transformed into before my eyes.

And Tyler has the same great progression as well. Perhaps even more so.

I felt every range of emotions reading this book; in a completely great way. If you had asked me when I picked up DIMILY (where I watched these immature teenagers rebel with so much angst), I would have said “no”. But it’s amazing how much I fell in love with these two and their journey the more invested I became in this series.

This book hit all the right notes and I have no doubt in my mind that fans of this series will LOVE this final novel.

I know I sure did!

Series Rating: 4/5

Did I Mention I Love You? 3/5 | Did I Mention I Need You 4/5 | Did I Mention I Miss You 5/5

overall

It you enjoy high school drama and angst, this is a great series for you! You need to be able to tolerate a lead you might not really connect with or like–but the story and relationships have this addicting quality to them that makes it entertaining to read. And the character growth from start to finish makes the journey worth it!

Read if You Like: YA contemporary, forbidden love
Avoid if You: dislike angst, teenagers pretending to be adults, cheating characters

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