Tag «Fresh Fridays»

Fresh Fridays: Stripped Bare (Vegas Billionaire #1) by Heidi McLaughlin

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:

Vegas Billionaire Series

Other books planned to be in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Stripped Bare (from Goodreads):

They don’t call it the Strip for nothing. . . .

In this sinfully sexy Las Vegas romance from bestselling author Heidi McLaughlin, a man who has it all reunites with a woman who takes it all off.

Living in Sin City, Finn McCormick is no stranger to one-night stands, but the last person he expects to find losing big on the casino floor is a former high school fling. Even though Macey Webster’s clearly down on her luck, she’s still a knockout, and she’s dressed like a stripper—because she is one. Drunk off an unfamiliar cocktail of lust, pity, and compassion, Finn offers to pay Macey’s debts if she cuddles up to him around town . . . and does whatever he wants between the sheets.

Macey came to Vegas for one reason only: money. She’s got a young daughter to support, and the tips really are bigger in Vegas. But when she blows her earnings on blackjack, her guardian angel is the rich boy who once stole her heart and never called her back. Although Macey would love to turn the tables on Finn, she can’t afford to refuse his proposition—and soon she’s enjoying herself much more than she cares to admit. Macey’s used to baring her flesh, but baring her soul will take far more courage.

breakdown

Series: Vegas Billionaire
Author: Heidi McLaughlin
# of Books: 1+ (Stripped Bare, Book 2)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, Book 2 to be announced
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: March 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I came across Stripped Bare on Netgalley but I never had a chance to request it. But when I saw it was at my library, I decided to check it out. I love unorthodox love stories and the idea of a single mom stripper reuniting with a one-night stand in Vegas? I couldn’t wait to see what was in store!

What I Liked:

–The Plot–

As expected, given the circumstances of how these two meet, this story has some drama. But what I really liked is that it never goes over the top. It’s dramatic enough to give this story some drive but not enough that had me rolling my eyes or being frustrated by the unnecessary flare. I thought everything had an adequate amount of time to fester and resolve so I was very fulfilled in that respect.

–Easy Read–

I really got into this story. The pages just turn so easily and I found myself entertained start to finish.

–That Their Past Wasn’t Glorified–

While these two have a shared past, I liked that it wasn’t glorified into being this ultimate love story. It’s pitched as a bit of a missed moment for both so I it was a nice approach to the “second chance” romance.

What I Didn’t Like:

–More Physical Chemistry than Emotional–

These two have a great chemistry but its more physical than emotional. I really felt like these two didn’t talk to each other besides vocal sexy times. So the relationship fell a little flat for me. Having the duel POV helped a lot because we do get to see the inner thoughts of our leads but I still needed more from them to totally convince me these two were falling in love with each other and not just the sex.

–Super Obvious Plot Twist–

I had the one twist figured out before I even started this book. It just seemed very obvious to me. I will admit, I did second guess myself for a chapter or two but I still knew in my gut I was right. Perhaps the twist is supposed to be that noticeable–if it is, it gives this story a different tone. But I found it to be underwhelming overall as nothing else really surprised me in this novel.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I have no idea who the next novel(s) will be about. I know I have a few characters in mind that I would like to know more about but I guess we have to play the waiting game!

My Rating: 3.5/5

Stripped Bare 3.5/5 | Book 2 TBP

overall

While this one had its cliche and obvious moments, I was still entertained by the premise and enjoyed the drama that played out.

Read if You Like: contemporary romance, sexy chemistry
Avoid if You: want more emotional connection, want more surpises

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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

similarreads

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

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Series Review: Damaged Hearts by Monica Murphy

Synopsis for Her Defiant Heart (from Goodreads):

Life can feel like a cruel joke. I grew up poor and motherless, with a father who never got over his wife’s abandonment. But now he’s gone too, and I’m dead set on finding the woman who so carelessly tossed me aside when I was a baby.

I want revenge. And I’m going to get back at my mother any way that I can.

I change my name. Start my new life in college, and just happen to cross paths with the gorgeous, ultra-rich Rhett Montgomery. He’s immediately interested in me, not that I’m surprised.

You see, I planned it that way. I meant for him to find me. He’s the one connection to my mother, and I’m using him, so I can destroy her. But I didn’t plan on Rhett being so charming. Sweet. Sexy.

And I definitely didn’t plan on falling for him either…

Other books in the series:
book3

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: Defiant Heart Trilogy
Author: Monica Murphy
# of Books: 3 (Her Defiant Heart, His Wasted Heart, Damaged Hearts)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, His Wasted Heart, will be published April 26, 2018
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty -Hot
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: March 29, 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Social Butterfly PR–eARC via iTunes

Add: Goodreads | Buy: iTunes *exclusive to iTunes*

thoughts

**This post was originally posted as a Blog Tour review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

As I say anytime I review a Monica Murphy novel, she’s a favourite of mine in everything she writes, but especially her New Adult romances. And when I saw that she was going to be writing a revenge story? One of my all time favourite tropes to read—I nearly croaked in excitement!

What I Liked:

–The Revenge Plot–

The revenge plot in any book is one of my favourites because it provides so many opportunities for an addicting story. It provides this level of anticipation as you watch the pieces fall into place; it gives the romance a dash of danger; and you always get some great twists along the way. But one of my favourite aspects is the character’s realization that perhaps revenge isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and the subsequent character growth we get as a result.

This book had all of that and that’s what made it so addicting to read. You’ve got the anticipation of learning Jen’s full plan for revenge and everything she’s done to get to that point. You’ve got her mixed feelings towards her target Rhett (who definitely packs on the charm). And along the way we get these little plot twists that you know are setting the foundation for something more to happen.

But the best part is:

–Our Heroine–

When we first get introduced to Jen, she’s a bit of a cold-hearted chick to say the least. She’s methodical in her plan for revenge and has her “eye on the prize” so to speak. But I was shocked how quickly my heart melted for her. Thanks to flashbacks we get to see what has driven Jen to this point and why she feels she needs to complete this path for vengeance. Add to that her inner monologue of struggles as she executes her plans and you really start to sympathize for the girl. She’s a complex lead in a sticky situation and I loved the character development that happens as a result.

What I Didn’t Like:

–I have to wait for the sequel–

Thank goodness it’s only a few weeks away! I was so hooked that I didn’t realize I was near the end and I need to know what happens next!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Like I said above, I can see that bigger things are to come — and knowing Monica Murphy they are going to be worth the wait! I’m also really excited to learn more about Rhett by getting the sequel, His Wasted Heart, from his POV. It’ll be nice to get some more depth to his character!

updates

–April 16, 2018– Book 2: His Wasted Heart

First: I loved the fact that this book was told entirely from Rhett’s POV. Having only had Jensen’s in the previous one, I was excited to get into the inner workings of this playboy-charmer. While I wanted a little more character growth from him, I loved the various secrets that were revealed by seeing Rhett’s family first hand. Jensen’s lack of a POV also gave this novel an air of suspense because you don’t know what Jensen’s plans for revenge are or is she honestly trying to foster the connection she and Rhett share.

These two do share an intense connection for sure. I found the first half of this book almost focused a little too much on the physical chemistry between these two. Their sexual chemistry was something we had already established in Her Defiant Heart so I wanted more character development from Rhett and some expanded upon plot development as well. That being said, Monica Murphy sure does know how to write some steamy scenes!

And I will say that this book gets it together by the end. We get some fabulous twists in the last few chapters that have me itching for the sequel ASAP!

–June 2, 2018– Book 3: Damaged Hearts

This was a great finale! The drama was juicy, the romance was sweet and the characters showed how much they have grown since the very first book. I loved the communication and mature approaches they had for their problems. It grounded the story despite its somewhat soap opera like drama. Definitely an entertaining series from start to finish!

My Rating: 4/5

Her Defiant Heart 4/5 | His Wasted Heart 3.5/5 | Damaged Hearts 4/5

overall
This series has everything I love about a Monica Murphy New Adult series. It’s got a jaded but likeable lead, a swoon-worthy love interest and just the right flare of drama to keep you hooked until the very end!

Read if You Like: revenge plots, quicker reads, New Adult
Avoid if You: want erotica, dislike revenge

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Monica Murphy

Monica Murphy is the New York Times, USA Today and #1 international bestselling author of the One Week Girlfriend series, the Billionaire Bachelors and The Rules series. Her books have been translated in almost a dozen languages and has sold over one million copies worldwide. She is both self-published and published by Random House/Bantam and Harper Collins/Avon. She writes new adult, young adult and contemporary romance.

She is a wife and a mother of three who lives in central California on fourteen acres in the middle of nowhere along with their one dog and too many cats. A self-confessed workaholic, when she’s not writing, she’s reading or hanging out with her husband and kids. She’s a firm believer in happy endings, though she will admit to putting her characters through angst-filled moments before they finally get that hard won HEA.

Add: Goodreads | Buy: iTunes *exclusive to iTunes*

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Series Review: Dirty 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:

Dirty Series

book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Dirty Obsession (from Goodreads):

Arlo Carini saved my life, only to destroy it.

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

My savior. My lover. My obsession.

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

breakdown

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

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

Book Order: Connected but Chronological Events
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Dark, Romance, Contemporary, Erotica
Heat Rating: Smokin’ (Kink: Major | BDSM: High)
Point of View: First Person, Multiple (Obsession); Alternating (Revenge)
Publication Date: January 18, 2018 – July 5, 2018
Source & Format: Author–eARC

thoughts

**This post was originally posted as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

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

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

What I Liked:

–Dark and Twisted–

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

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

–The Characters–

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

What I Didn’t Like:

–Wanted More Allusion to the “Game”–

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

When to read the Prequel Novella: Dirty Beginning?

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

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

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

updates

–May 30, 2018– Book #2: Dirty Addiction

I couldn’t wait to see how these two would fall in love and what the consequences of it would be. But it took me a lot longer than I thought it would to see them as a couple chemistry wise.

I found for the first third or so of the novel, they didn’t interact all that much and if they did, it wasn’t always a positive experience, so I didn’t totally see the draw between them. I suppose the somewhat “forced” circumstances they find themselves in is part of the draw to the “dark” romance but I like those little moments of vulnerability in my forbidden romances.

Things started to improve though once we pass the halfway mark. I found the drama of the plot line helped to bring the romance and the characters to life in a way that started to win me over. That’s when Matteo and Eden started to interact more and the chemistry between them became more apparent.

–July 16, 2018– Book #3: Dirty Revenge

This is by FAR the darkest book in the series…but perhaps the most addicting?

I’ll admit that parts of this were hard for me to read. Gia has a lot of awful things (like cringe-worthy) happen to her but I appreciated the character growth she received as a result. For me, this story was more about Gia finding herself and her independence more so than a straight romance and I liked that. Gia gets broken-down but she rebuilds herself into a much stronger woman as a result.

The plot line itself is engaging. You don’t know the good guys from the bad guys which always brings an air of anticipation and tension to the story. Like any Ella Miles book, you really don’t know what direction the plot will go and I enjoyed the journey to find out.

As for the romance, I thought these two were a good match. Conti was a little too much for me at the start with his alpha ways; however, I expected that given the nature of the book. But I appreciated the partnership that forms between these two thanks to mutual understanding and experiences so I could see why they would be drawn to each other.

My Rating: 4/5

[Dirty Beginning 3/5] | Dirty Obsession 4/5| Dirty Addiction 3/5 | Dirty Revenge 4/5

overall

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

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

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Series Review: Sons of Broad by Tara Thomas

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

Sons of Broad Series

book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Darkest Night (from Goodreads):

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

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

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

breakdown

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

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

Book Order: Connected but Chronological Events
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Romantic Suspense, Contemporary, Mystery
Heat Rating: hot
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: February 2018 – June 2018
Source & Format: Netgalley –eBook | Thank you St Martin’s Press!

thoughts

**This post was originally posted as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

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

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

What I Liked:

–Many Layers–

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

–Romantic Chemistry–

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

What I Didn’t Like:

–Somewhat Rushed Romance–

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

–Only Scratches the Surface–

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

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

When to Read the Novellas:

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

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

updates

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

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

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

–June 24, 2018– Book #3: Broken Promise

I really enjoyed this finale! I’ve been dying for Kipling’s story since the first full novel. The tension between him and his leading lady has been building and building throughout the series and it was everything I wanted in a romance. They are a great pair and I think it really showed in this novel.

I also thought the suspense was fabulous! We get the truth in little morsels and I loved how that created an air of anticipation that sucked me in. And everything just fit into place perfectly given everything we’ve learned over the last two novels. It was a finale that worked in all the ways you wanted it to and I was very happy reading it.

My Rating: 4/5

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

overall

Fans of romantic suspense novels will LOVE this series!

Read if You Like: romantic suspense, murder mysteries
Avoid if You: want more erotica
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DNF Series Review: The Fallen Isles Trilogy by Jodi Meadows

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:

Fallen Isles Trilogy

Other books in the series:
book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Before She Ignites (from Goodreads):

Before

Mira Minkoba is the Hopebearer. Since the day she was born, she’s been told she’s special. Important. Perfect. She’s known across the Fallen Isles not just for her beauty, but for the Mira Treaty named after her, a peace agreement which united the seven islands against their enemies on the mainland.

But Mira has never felt as perfect as everyone says. She counts compulsively. She struggles with crippling anxiety. And she’s far too interested in dragons for a girl of her station.

After

Then Mira discovers an explosive secret that challenges everything she and the Treaty stand for. Betrayed by the very people she spent her life serving, Mira is sentenced to the Pit–the deadliest prison in the Fallen Isles. There, a cruel guard would do anything to discover the secret she would die to protect.

No longer beholden to those who betrayed her, Mira must learn to survive on her own and unearth the dark truths about the Fallen Isles–and herself–before her very world begins to collapse.

breakdown

Series: Fallen Isles Trilogy
Author: Jodi Meadows
# of Books: 3 (Before She Ignites, book 2, book 3)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book 2, will be published in 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: September 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading Before She Ignites at 58% (Start of Chapter 19). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I adored Meadow’s Orphan Queen Duology so I’ve made an effort to read her other novels. I didn’t enjoy Newsoul Trilogy as much as I wanted to, but this one sounded promising. Dragons? Yes please!

What I Liked:

–The Premise–

I love a fantasy world that is rich in political turmoil and this one had it. There are so many secrets to uncover and that conspiracy angle really intrigued me. Especially when the plot is being told in pieces, with Mira’s POV alternating between the “before” and the “after”. I enjoyed trying to get the bigger picture of what was happening.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Blah Storyline–

Don’t go into this book thinking you are going to get an action packed novel with a girl who rides a dragon. Reread the synopsis again. This is the key statement you need to focus on in order to enjoy this novel:

Mira must learn to survive on her own

Because that’s really what this book is all about. It’s an extremely character driven story about Mira’s journey to realize that she is more than just a pretty face; that she actually has the power to do something. Which is inspiring unto itself…but not the story I wanted to read.

Or I guess I wouldn’t have minded if I felt like anything else was happening plot wise. And despite the little inklings of the larger conspiracy, I just wasn’t invested.

Will I Finish It?

I don’t think so. I didn’t connect with the characters, the romance wasn’t enough to keep me and the plot was lackluster to me. I’m sure bigger and better things were brewing but I just wasn’t into it.

My Rating: DNF

overall

If you like character driven stories and a slower overall plot, pick this book up. The writing is great and the diversity of the cast is definitely appealing. The promise is there, I just don’t have the patience to get invested in this series.

Read if You Like: slower stories, character driven stories
Avoid if You: dislike slow stories, want more romance, want more action

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Fresh Fridays: He Wants It All (#1) by Marilena Barbagallo

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:

He Wants it All Series

Other books planned to be in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for He Wants It All (from Goodreads):

Krum Botev has never had anything in life apart from himself. He knows only what he has been taught. Hard, selfish, insensitive, but faithful to the Father, the one who raised and educated him according to the values of the secret society he is part of. No one has ever succeeded in knocking down his armor. No one can touch him outside or inside; no-one except her, who is part of that past Krum cannot forget.

Ambra Livori, a beautiful and wealthy heiress, has always had everything. But nightmares don’t give her a break. They go on showing her the man who ruined her life when she was only sixteen. The memory of him, over time, has become a perverse feeling she cannot tolerate. Just when Ambra decides to learn how to control her emotions, she receives a strange call. Her origins will be questioned and the past will become a terrible present from which she won’t be able to escape. Fighting for herself will be the only solution.

What links Ambra and Krum? But most of all, can two different souls be able to touch each other outside and inside? A secret organization, an uncontrollable passion, a man and a woman destined to clash.

breakdown

Series: He Wants it All; Lui vuole tutto (Italian)
Author: Marilena Barbagallo
# of Books: 2 (He Wants It All, She Wants It All)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book 2 is to be released in English
Genre: Adult, Dark, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: hot (Kink: mild | BDSM: mild)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: November 8, 2017
Source & Format: Author–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I love a good dark romance. I can’t get enough of the secrets, the sexual tension or the drama. They keep me on my toes and I love that.

After reading the synopsis for He Wants It All, I just had to give it a try. The whole notion of a secret organization had me curious to know more about the story and the link between our two leads.

What I Liked:

–The Flashbacks to the Past–

I had a hard time putting this book down! I was completely enthralled by the characters and the situation they find themselves in. We only gets bits and pieces of their shared past at a time and that pushed me to keep reading. It was great putting together all the hints we get along the way to see the bigger picture.

I also liked the character development it provided for our leads, specifically for Krum. It was nice to get the insight into his character and his motivations instead of having him be a complete enigma. Understanding his character helped me appreciate his struggles with Ambra and his back-and-forth nature when it might have otherwise annoyed me.

–The Sexual Tension–

Ambra is a great complement to his character and I loved all their scenes together. They have fantastic chemistry from the start. Their whole “I hate to love you” routine is electric throughout the novel.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Middle–

I will say that the middle of this book did get a little slower for me. Most of that time is spent between Ambra and Krum fighting their attraction–which is all fine and dandy. As I said above, I loved their scenes together.

But I do wish we would have had a little focus on Ambra and the society. Just some little inklings that remind you that there is a bigger story than these two fighting their attraction. We do get those pieces near the end which I appreciate but they could have been hinted at earlier I think.

Notes on the English Translation:

I do want to comment briefly on the English translation of this book. This book was originally written in Italian and the author decided to translate it into Italian. I read the English version.

Unfortunately, I do think a few things were lost in translation along the way and that did alter my reading experience. Some of the sentences were awkward or didn’t make complete sense based on the words they used in the translation. Technically, the sentence is correct but isn’t the way a native English speaker would say it so it makes sentences seem wordier or slighter alters the true point the character is trying to convey.

I had to reread a lot to get a solid grasp on what the characters were trying to say and that ruined the flow of the book for me. All this book needs is a thorough edit in English and it would knock readers socks off! Because everything else is on par with great dark romances!

Note: It looks like a new English Translation is in the works so be on the lookout for an updated version!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

While some of my questions were answered, I had about 50 more by the time He Wants it All wrapped up. I can’t wait to see what is next!

My Rating: 4/5

He Wants it All 4/5 | She Wants it All TBP

overall

This was a great dark romance! I loved the secrets and the tension between the leads. It kept me hooked from the start

Read if You Like: dark romances, tragic character pasts, secrets
Avoid if You: dislike dark romance

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Fresh Fridays: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue (Guide #1) by Mackenzi Lee

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:

Guide Series

Other books in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue (from Goodreads):

Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

breakdown

Series: Guide
Author: Mackenzi Lee
# of Books: 2 ( The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy will release October 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Adventure, Romance
Heat Rating: warm **suggestive content**
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: June 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I don’t think I could escape this book if I tried in 2017. Not that I wanted to. It seemed like it would be a lot of fun but people also said that about My Lady Jane and I didn’t “love” that one either.

So I was hoping for more of a Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda type of experience going into this. I didn’t know what else to expect plotwise but I was ready to be surprised!

What I Liked:

–The Tension–

I’ll be honest, I mostly picked this up for the romance between Monty and Percy. I just love all the tension that comes from “off limits” romances. And this is a romance that is off limits in a lot of ways which makes it such an intriguing one to read. Not only are the two best friends but they are two males in a time when that relationship isn’t accepted in popular society. Add to that their ranks in the peerage, race and their own coming of age stories, you have a lot of factors telling these two to stay away.

Which makes those moments of letting go so enjoyable as a reader. These two are just so genuine with each other that you immediately want them to be together no matter the obstacles in their way.

–Slightly Dry Humour–

When everyone mentioned the humour in the book, I was worried I wasn’t going to find it funny. I’m a girl who laughs at everything but humour in books sometimes escapes me. That’s why I considered listening to the audiobook instead because I find it easier to get the sarcasm and laughs. But when I listened to the sample, the narrator didn’t sound like what I imagined Monty would sound like so I stuck with the print.

I’m glad I did because I did find myself chuckling quite a bit at this book. Monty has such an interesting perspective and his off-hand, dry comments just seemed so “British” to me.

–Felicity–

Don’t get me wrong, I liked Monty as a lead. As I mentioned above, he’s witty and dramatic and he’s a lot of fun to read about. But Felicity really surprised me as a character. I didn’t think she’d have much of a role but I loved all the little tidbits we got about her and her attitude in general. She’s a fantastic supporting character.

–Diversity & The History–

Like I said in the “Tension” section, you have a lot of social issues/topics at play here. When they are used all together you feel as though you are transported to the 1700s. It just adds this depth and realism to the world by highlighting various things.

What I Didn’t Like:

–It Felt a Little Long–

I definitely missed the “manhunt that spans across Europe” in the synopsis. And while I enjoyed that plot (I’m glad there was something else at play besides the romance) I felt like it took far too long to get resolved. I just found myself getting a little bored with it near the end. While that dramatic plot was moving forward I felt like everything else went to a standstill. For me, this book could have been 50 pages shorter and I would have been more than satisfied.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Obviously I enjoyed Felicity’s character so I’m excited for her to get her own book!

My Rating: 4/5

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue 4/5 | The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy TBA

overall

This is a great read for historical YA fans without a doubt. But if you love stories that take you on a fun and heartwarming adventure, pick this up!

Read if You Like: adventure, historical, GLBT
Avoid if You: dislike adventure, historical

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Series Review: Playing Dirty by Pamela DuMond

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

Playing Dirty Series

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Client (from Goodreads):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Weren’t some rules meant to be broken?

breakdown

Series: Playing Dirty
Author: Pamela DuMond
# of Books: 2 (The Client, The Matchmaker)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Comedy
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: September 2017 – February 2018
Source & Format: Read It & Review It–eARC

thoughts

**This post was originally posted as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

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

What I Liked:

–The Banter–

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

–Charlotte’s Job–

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

–Background Stories–

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

What I Didn’t Like:

Slightly Misleading Synopsis–

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

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

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

updates

–May 31, 2018– Book #2: The Matchmaker

This novel just felt far too rushed–and often forced–to be completely enjoyable. I can forgive the craziness of the “whisked on a private jet out of the country” premise and I’ll admit I was on board with it until it was actually executed.

Lustful glances and inner monologues about having sex with the other lead does not a romance novel make. Sure, I got the fact that these two were insanely attracted to the other but there was very little interaction between them outside of those fantasies.

And that’s a shame because these two have incredible backstories. We get a lot of Aiden’s and it is fascinating but Violet never learns about it. And Violet’s need to assert her independence in her family gets cast aside before it can even be built up.

I think the worst part of this story is that just when it looked like some good progress (in terms of development in all fronts) is about to happen, the book wraps up quickly and neatly and in a way that left me completely unsatisfied. Overall, I was very disappointed in this sequel.

My Rating: 3/5

The Client 4/5 | The Matchmaker 2/5

overall

While The Client is the perfect pick-me-up for contemporary romance fans who like a little fun, The Matchmaker falls short in delivering the same experience despite the unique premise.

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

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Series Review: Juniper Falls by Julie Cross

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

Juniper Falls Series

book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Off the Ice (from Goodreads):

All is fair in love and hockey…

Claire O’Connor is back in Juniper Falls, but that doesn’t mean she wants to be. One semester off, that’s what she promised herself. Just long enough to take care of her father and keep the family business—a hockey bar beside the ice rink—afloat. After that, she’s getting the hell out. Again.

Enter Tate Tanley. What happened between them the night before she left town resurfaces the second they lay eyes on each other. But the guy she remembers has been replaced by a total hottie. When Tate is unexpectedly called in to take over for the hockey team’s star goalie, suddenly he’s in the spotlight and on his way to becoming just another egotistical varsity hockey player. And Claire’s sworn off Juniper Falls hockey players for good.

It’s the absolute worst time to fall in love.

For Tate and Claire, hockey isn’t just a game. And they both might not survive a body check to the heart.

breakdown

Series: Juniper Falls
Author: Julie Cross
# of Books: 3 (Off the Ice, Breaking the Ice, Book 3)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No,Book 3, to be published
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sports, Small Town
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: February 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC

thoughts

**This post was originally posted as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Julie Cross is an author I’ve enjoyed in the past and really need to read more by. She just writes consistently great stories.

Having read her other YA sports romance, Whatever Life Throws at You, I knew what to expect with this series. I knew I would be getting a slow burn romance that would take a bit of a backseat to the character development…and I couldn’t wait to dive in!

What I Liked:

–It Focuses on Hockey–

It’s the Canadian in me who adores anything hockey. I’ve read a lot of adult and new adult series dealing with hockey players but not so many dealing with high schoolers. Which brings a different sort of pressure to the character’s lives as they are trying to reach that next plateau for the prospective careers.

We have a slightly different draft system here in Canada (not so much pressure on playing for a college team but more so in certain divisions) so I found that aspect to be interesting as well as this takes place in Minnesota, USA.

–Small Town Romance Vibes–

I’ve really gotten into adult small town romances in the last year or so and this one definitely gave me those vibes. I like the nature of small towns settings in stories. Everyone knows everyone and their business, but there are always these underlying secrets and feelings that always come to the surface. There are also certain expectations and almost stereotypes that people feel like they have to be boxed into. It provides a great stage for character growth to blossom on.

I also find that you get really invested in all the side characters as well. There are a few characters I would love to see full novels from going forward just from the little inklings we got here.

–The Character Growth–

Both Tate and Claire have very interesting character stories. They both have very complex situations to deal with and I liked that they each had their own things to work on. They are also such genuine characters that you really start to get behind them.

This story is more so a coming of age story than straight romance. It’s about these two finding that confidence in themselves, figuring out what they want in life and how they can break out of the molds the small town has put them in for all their lives.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Felt a Little Long in the Middle–

I knew going in that this book would take its time to reach the plot climax and that’s what happened.

It’s not that I didn’t enjoy all the moments leading up. I did. The scenes between Tate and Claire were great and I like that you get all the background info about the town and all the characters.

I guess I just wanted them to work on the issues a little earlier than they did. I felt like we reiterated the same things again and again–which is fine as it did contribute positively to the romance and character growth. It just made this book seem longer than it was. The ending isn’t rushed by any means but I think I would have taken away some of that exposition to have them tease out the various issues a little more.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

As I said above, I have a few characters I would love to see more from. I’m very excited for the next book though!

updates

–December 31, 2017– Book #2: Breaking the Ice

Again, this book just has the right balance to it. I loved the slow burn romance between these two. They have this fantastic chemistry together that makes their scenes together amazing. I also loved Fletcher–new book boyfriend alert! The character development here is perfect. My only complaint is that it took a little while for the plot line to establish itself. Once it does, it makes for a great read but the first half is a little slower.

>> Read my full review of Breaking the Ice as a part of my Blog Tour for its release here.

concSLOW

My Rating: 4/5

Off the Ice 4/5 | Breaking the Ice 4.5/5

overall

This is perfect for fans of small town romance and sport romance fans. It has fantastic characters with great character growth and a sweet romance to balance it all off. Just a well-rounded series.

Read if You Like: sports romances, slow burn romance, more character focused
Avoid if You: want more romance focused stories
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