Tag «Rating: 4/5»

Blog Tour: Fake Wife by Stacey Lynn

Synopsis for Fake Wife (from Goodreads):

This marriage is strictly business… until the temptation gets way too real.

Corbin: I loved my grandma, but I don’t need her money. All I care about is keeping the house—the only place that’s ever felt like home. That, and screwing over my dad, who wants to turn the property into a mall. There’s only one catch: To receive my inheritance, I have to get married within six months. Me, the guy who’s never dated a girl for more than six minutes. Now I need to find a woman I can trust. So when I’m rear-ended by a Prius, I figure it’s a sign that I’m supposed to meet gorgeous, down-to-earth Teagan Monroe.

Teagan: First I lose my job. Then I come home and find out—in the most graphic way possible . . . yeah, that way—that my boyfriend is a cheating jerk. And then I speed off and nearly kill Portland’s sexiest bachelor. Corbin Lane should be pissed. Instead, he offers me more money than I’ve ever seen in my life to marry him and live together in a mansion for two years. No sex. No feelings. Just cash—enough to make all my dreams come true. Then we go and break all our rules . . . and I realize I’m falling in love with my fake fiancé.

Other books in the series:

breakdown

Series: Crazy Love
Author: Stacey Lynn
# of Books: 1+ (Fake Wife, Knocked Up)
Book Order: Standalones
Complete?: No, Knocked Up, will be published in June 2018
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: January 9, 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Social Butterfly PR via Netgalley–eARC

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon / iBooks / Kobo / Nook / Google Play

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I had made note of this book in the summer of 2017 when the promotional post for the cover reveal was announced. I ADORE fake relationship romances and this one had everything I love about them in its synopsis. From their unorthodox meeting (a fender bender) to the unexpected feelings that arise, I just knew I had to read this book!

The Plot:

One of the standout things about this book is its approach to the dramatic plotline. Compared to others in the genre, the plot wasn’t overly dramatic or too over the top. It has it’s dramatic moments for sure but it all just worked for this story.

You don’t have these unnecessary scenarios thrown at them simply for the sake of stirring up drama. These two had real problems to work out (albeit during extreme circumstances) and I loved watching them do that with each other. It was nice to read a story that focused on the romance and keeping the drama simple but effective for their journey.

The Characters:

These two are just genuine characters that I instantly liked.

Teagan is such a caring girl who has really defined (and subsequently lost) herself by her previous relationship. It was nice to see her come to terms and realize that her wants and needs are just as important as her partner’s and that she doesn’t need to be the only one to sacrifice who they are for the couple’s success.

Corbin is just a sweetheart! Unlike Teagan who has only ever seen herself as a duo, he doesn’t see the need for a partner. Watching him see the benefits of having a partner you can trust and care for was such a treat. He has is own baggage to workout which is fantastic in terms of watching the romance grow.

The Romance:

I’ll admit, it took me a few chapters to fully get on board with these two. While I liked them as individuals, I was worried their connection was only skin-deep initially (albeit great sexual tension!). But as they spent more time together, I was rewarded with what I love the most about fake relationship stories: a fantastic connection between two unlikely people.

Despite the quick nature of the story, I really could feel the strength of feelings they shared. They had this comfort with each other that just amplified the longer they spent time together. And seeing as they are just great individual characters, it was awesome to see them come closer the more they learned about each other. They complement each other so well so I adored their story together.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

The two leads in the next book are unfamiliar to me but the premise looks like a lot of fun! I’m excited to see what Stacey Lynn will come up with next!

My Rating: 4/5

Fake Wife 4/5 | Knocked Up TBP

overall
This is a great contemporary romance that fans of the “fake relationship trope” will no doubt devour!

Read if You Like: fake relationship trope, quick but sweet reads
Avoid if You: want lots of drama, want erotica

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Stacey Lynn

Stacey Lynn currently lives in Minnesota with her husband and four children. When she’s not conquering mountains of laundry and fighting a war against dust bunnies and cracker crumbs, you can find her playing with her children, curled up on the couch with a good book, or on the boat with her family enjoying Minnesota’s beautiful, yet too short, summer.

She lives off her daily pot of coffee, can only write with a bowlful of Skittles nearby, and has been in love with romance novels since before she could drive herself to the library.

Author Links: Facebook | Website | Twitter | Newsletter

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon / iBooks / Kobo / Nook / Google Play

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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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Blog Tour: You’ve Got Fail by Celia Aaron

Synopsis for You’ve Got Fail (from Goodreads):

 A romantic comedy from Celia Aaron.

I single-handedly built the hottest website for dating and relationship advice. Got a question? Scarlet Rocket can answer it for you. I was your modern day agony aunt with the solutions to all your pesky personal problems. The only issue? I was actually a man named Willis Halloran, not the female Scarlet Rocket. I thought my secret was safe. But then a sexy con artist calling herself Scarlet Rocket began showing up at society events, pretending to be me. I couldn’t let it go, so I tracked her down and confronted her. It went well … except for the part where she stole my wallet. Oh, and the part where she conned my agent into having us work together. And after that? Let’s just say she wound up stealing something much more valuable than my wallet or my [fake] name.

breakdown

Author: Celia Aaron
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Humour
Heat Rating: Hot (Kink: mild — more discussion of than actual practice)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: December 26, 2017
Source & Format: Enticing Journey Book Promotions–eARC

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

The title for this book is what first drew me in and then I read the synopsis and just had to investigate further. Finding entertaining and humourous romantic comedies has been hard for me in the past so I’m always willing to try one out. The whole premise of this one reminded me a lot of a rom-com movie so I was excited to meet some fun characters and enjoy all the silly hi-jinx that ensued when they finally meet.

The Plot:

I’ll admit that it took me a few chapters to get past the logic of the story. I mean, the whole premise is that Scarlet Rocket weasels her way into a gig with Willis’ agent much to his dismay. In the real world, Willis could get her to stop simply by suing her for essentially stealing his intellectual property and the book would be of a different story entirely. So once I let that legal logic go away, I had a blast reading this story.

This book is always moving. You’ve got Willis’ story about building up his business with his new book release and fighting his feelings for the redhead. You’ve said got said Redhead with her own secrets and feelings that slowly get revealed the more you read. Then you have the scenes together that are as equally sweet as they are heated and the drama of their publicized partnership. I never had a dull moment reading this.

The Characters:

All the characters we meet in this book have such infectious personalities. From our leads to their friends and family, I was immediately drawn in by their charm.

It’s their wit and humour that impressed me the most. I laughed a lot during this book thanks to the antics that ensue and the various character personalities. Some of the stuff is a little quirky but it’s not that “weird quirky” you know what I mean? It’s quirky in an entertaining way not in an eccentric way that is off-putting or has you confused.

The Romance:

While I loved Willis and Scarlet together, I wish their romance had a little more substance to it. They have this great attraction to each other right from the start that brings this delicious tension to all their scenes together. However, I feel like the emotional connection doesn’t get as deep as I wanted it to. Their relationship is definitely more than a physical attraction–it was always obvious to me why they would be a great pair since I knew who they were individually–but I just wanted a few more scenes of them talking and establishing that stronger connection rather than them just sleeping together and getting this unspoken bond.

My Rating: 4/5

overall
If you’re looking for a fun and steamy romantic comedy, I can’t recommend this book enough!

Read if You Like: rom-coms, quirky characters, humour
Avoid if You: want straight erotica

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Celia Aaron
Celia Aaron is a recovering attorney who loves romance and erotic fiction. Dark to light, angsty to funny, real to fantasy—if it’s hot and strikes her fancy, she writes it. Thanks for reading.

Author Links: TwitterFacebook  |  Goodreads  |  Amazon

Please visit Celia Aaron’s Facebook Page for the givewaway for a $100 Amazon Gift Card!

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

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

Playing Dirty Series

Other books in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Client (from Goodreads):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Weren’t some rules meant to be broken?

breakdown

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

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

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

What I Liked:

–The Banter–

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

–Charlotte’s Job–

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

–Background Stories–

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

What I Didn’t Like:

Slightly Misleading Synopsis–

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

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

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

My Rating: 4/5

The Client 4/5 | The Matchmaker TBP

overall

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

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

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Series Review: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

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

book4 book5 book6

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Shatter Me (from Goodreads):

Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war – and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

breakdown

Series: Shatter Me
Author: Tahereh Mafi
# of Books: 6 (Full Reading Order)

There are 2 novellas: #1.5 Destroy Me and #2.5 Fracture Me

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Restore Me will be published in March 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Science Fiction, Romance
Heat Rating: warm **suggestive content later in series**
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: November 2011 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve had Shatter Me for a ridiculous long time on my TBR. Every once in a while I would think to read it, but all the novels were checked out in the library. And it wasn’t until the next 3 novels were announce that I decided to make it a priority for 2017. Specifically, I used it as my “binge” series for my Summer TBR Wipeout Challenge.

The Concept / The World:

If you’ve read any dystopian fiction before, you know how it goes. You have a minority in power and the majority struggling/accepting that things are the way they are. Queue the secret rebel society and there starts your series. This one isn’t that different when it comes down to it.

What I will say about this series is that (so far) we don’t spend a lot of time dwelling on why things are why they are. What I mean is that you focus more on Juliette finding her way in the world instead of focusing on why she has this power or why the world collapsed into what it is now. So I guess the world building leaves a little to be desired but I also wasn’t reading it for that purpose either.

The Plot:

As I said above, this series is all about Juliette’s character growth and how she adapts to the situations she finds herself in. Perhaps that sounds a little dull, but I found myself captivated by her story. There are some great twists and events along the way so I never felt bored by the plot.

The Characters:

I LOVED Juliette! Her growth from Shatter Me to Ignite Me was exactly what I want to see in my heroines. And what’s really cool is that it shows in the narration style throughout the series. In Shatter Me, it’s a touch disjointed and uncertain; in Unravel Me, she gets a little surer of herself; and in Ignite Me, she’s confident and just goes for it. It was a awesome evolution.

The rest of the cast is fabulous. I loved how they added to the story when they needed to but never overshadowed Juliette.

And can I just say, I LOVE Warner! I love a bad boy and his character added so much to this story! He’s a great villain!

The Romance:

Oh, this is one of my favourite aspects because it does a fabulous job of enhancing the story. I don’t want to get into much since I don’t do spoilers but I really liked the romance…yes, even the love triangle we get. This is one of the few times I think a love triangle was used effectively and actually contributed to the overall plot.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

While I liked the ending in Ignite Me, I think it would have been a different story if I didn’t know about the next 3 books. I think I would have wanted more…so glad I’ll be getting it!

Series Rating: 4/5

Shatter Me 4/5 | Unravel Me 4/5 | Ignite Me 4/5

overall

If you want a dystopian read that focuses on the heroine’s personal journey and doesn’t get too caught up in the world or why it is the way it is, this is the one for you!

Read if You Like: dystopian, love triangles, heroine development
Avoid if You: want more world building
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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.

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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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Series Review: Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman

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 Prisoner of Night and Fog (from Goodreads):

In 1930s Munich, danger lurks behind dark corners, and secrets are buried deep within the city. But Gretchen Müller, who grew up in the National Socialist Party under the wing of her “uncle” Dolf, has been shielded from that side of society ever since her father traded his life for Dolf’s, and Gretchen is his favorite, his pet.

Uncle Dolf is none other than Adolf Hitler. And Gretchen follows his every command.

Until she meets a fearless and handsome young Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen. Gretchen should despise Daniel, yet she can’t stop herself from listening to his story: that her father, the adored Nazi martyr, was actually murdered by an unknown comrade. She also can’t help the fierce attraction brewing between them, despite everything she’s been taught to believe about Jews.

As Gretchen investigates the very people she’s always considered friends, she must decide where her loyalties lie. Will she choose the safety of her former life as a Nazi darling, or will she dare to dig up the truth—even if it could get her and Daniel killed?

From debut author Anne Blankman comes this harrowing and evocative story about an ordinary girl faced with the extraordinary decision to give up everything she’s ever believed . . . and to trust her own heart instead.

breakdown

Series: Prisoner of Night and Fog
Author: Anne Blankman
# of Books: 2 (Prisoner of Night and Fog, Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Historical, Suspense, Romance
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Dates: April 2014 – 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This series crossed my radar one day when I was blog-hopping. I’m not sure what blog specifically (this was before I started keeping notes) but I do think this series has been on quite a few over the years.

Anyways, the concept was really what drew me in and that’s why I added it to my 5 Year 5 Book Challenge this year.

The Concept:

I’ve only read a few books set in WWII but what I really liked about this book was that it was set before the war started. When it comes to Hitler, I feel like we often focus on what he did during the war (and rightfully so) but not too much on how we got to that point. It’s a fascinating view point and provides quite a bit of insight on why WWII began. I will admit, I looked up a lot of things on Wikipedia to learn more and see how it this story was woven with history.

But that doesn’t mean this series is an easy read. Prisoner of Night and Fog opens with Gretchen’s brother beating a Jewish man simply for being a Jew and the narrator explains the ideology for his actions. And it’s hard to stomach as a reader–not only because it seems so “normal” but also because you know it is only going to get worse.

The Plot:

A Prisoner of Night and Fog started a little slowly as it established the setting and the circumstances Gretchen finds herself in. But once Gretchen starts her investigation, it really picks up. I love a good conspiracy theory and this one delivered. It gave this story a dangerous edge that kept the tensions high and me eager to see what would happen next.

And those tensions continue to be high in the aftermath of a Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke. This one had a tone of suspense throughout that had me desparately wanting to know what would happen next. Trying to piece together how the current events of this novel lead to the start of WWII was such a refreshingly unique experience for me as a reader.

The Characters:

I thought Gretchen had tremendous growth as a character throughout this series. She transforms from a naive and gullible girl into a crafty and caring woman who can see the bigger picture of what is happening around her. I was definitely rooting for her and grew attached to her as a character.

And the rest of the characters do their jobs flawlessly.

The Romance:

I wasn’t going into this book expecting some epic romance and that definitely isn’t what we get. It does its job by keeping things simple and not distracting from the main plot of the story; rather, it enhances the various tensions in the book. It provides some context for the world Gretchen finds herself in but I never felt like this series was a romance set in dangerous times–it’s a story about dangerous times that features a romance.

My Audiobook Experience:

I loved the audiobook! Heather Wilds is the narrator and she is just fabulous. The accents were perfect, she didn’t sound ridiculous when she did the male voices (one of my biggest peeves) and she conveyed the right tone at all times. And while it was really hard to listen to some of the violence and ideology, I think that just made the book have a bigger impact on me as a reader.

I will say though that a certain character’s name was pronounced one way in the first book and then another in the second. It threw me for a bit but it doesn’t really matter. I just thought it was a little weird.

Series Rating: 4/5

Prisoner of Night and Fog 4/5 | Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke 4/5

overall

If you love historical novels that are lighter on the romance and seamlessly weaves history into its narrative, pick this one up!

Read if You Like: historical novels, WWII settings
Avoid if You: are uncomfortable with violence or discrimination

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Blog Tour: Fragile Chaos by Amber R Duell

Synopsis for Fragile Chaos (from Goodreads):

A god of war seeking restoration. An unwilling sacrificial bride. Betrayal that could destroy them both.

Every fiber of my being is woven from the rage of mortals.

Theodric, the young God of War, has a talent for inciting conflict and bloodshed. After being stripped of his powers by his older brother, King of Gods, he sets out to instigate a mortal war to prove himself worthy of being restored to power.

I loved Kisk once; it was my home… But that was before. This is now.

Sixteen-year-old Cassia, like many in the modern era, believes gods and goddesses to be just a myth. Enemy to her country and an orphan of the war, she has no time for fairy tales. That’s until religious zealots from Theo’s sect offer her up as a sacrifice.

Can Cassia and Theo end the mortal war and return balance to the earth and heavens? Or, will their game of fate lead down a path of destruction, betrayal, and romance neither of them saw coming?

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Author: Amber R Duell
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Mythology, Fantasy
Heat Rating: warm **suggestive content**
Point of View: First Person, Alternate
Publication Date: July 10 2017
Source & Format: Audiobookworm Productions–Audiobook

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon // Audible // Kobo

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I love stories that involve mythology. Greek, Roman, Norse, or completely original, I love the whole idea of it! So when I read the synopsis for this (after seeing that gorgeous cover of course), I just had to listen to this audiobook!

The Concept / The World:

This is a completely new world in terms of mythology. That can be a little daunting since there’s a lot to keep straight (like who Theo’s siblings are and what they are the gods/goddesses of as well as the countries at war) however, I found it all pretty straight-forward, even as an audiobook where you have to listen (I’m a visual learner so I usually do better by seeing the words).

It’s an intricate world filled with everything you enjoy about mythology stories. You’ve got sacrifices; god/goddess siblings fighting and backstabbing; and battles. But what’s really cool is how it’s set in a modern world. It’s an interesting weaving of old and new and I was captivated by it.

>>Fun Fact: Amber R Duell has blog posts dedicated to the history of the world and more if you love immersing yourself in the world beyond the book.

The Plot:

I find it really hard to pinpoint the plot of this story–and I say that in a good way. I like when a lot of things are happening in a story and that is definitely the case here.

While I felt like the romance was a big focus, you still have the politics of the world and the gods/goddess at play. Everyone is playing a different game simultaneously and I found that to be super exciting as a reader. I just had to know what was going to happen next and what the reactions would be.

The Characters:

I really liked Cassia and Theo as leads. What I liked about Cassia is that she seems very genuine and real. Her reactions to things were exactly what I would feel if I was in her situation. She’s got a good head on her shoulders and she tries her best to see the bigger picture before making a decision. Her personality pairs nicely with Theo’s.

Theo by far has the best character growth in this novel…as he should. He has to come to grips with a lot of things and I liked watching him work everything out. As you would expect, being the God of War means he can have some hot-headed moments but he is still charming and sincere.

The rest of the cast is great too. I would love to explore the realm further and meet some of the other gods and goddesses and get there stories. (And it sounds like one character might be getting a novella so yay!)

The Romance:

This was definitely a highlight for me in the sense that these two had fantastic chemistry from the start. They had these great moments together where everything was building up and just waiting to explode. I loved their scenes together.

However, I wish they talked a little more to each other. I get that everything is amplified given the circumstances but I just wanted that emotional connection highlighted a little more for the romantic in me.

My Audiobook Experience:

I didn’t realize that I was listening to this book at 1.25x–oops! That explains why everyone seemed to be talking so fast…

Regardless, the audiobook production is great! Probably one of the best I’ve listened to lately. I think Bradley Pittman and Jamie Lee-Lewis captured the characters brilliantly. Although, I did find it slightly off-putting that some of the characters had different accents depending on the narrator. Jamie gave Goran an almost Australian accent while Bradley gave him a monotone voice and I found that a little bit confusing when we were switching POVs.

What I really enjoyed about the audiobook though was the sound effects they used in the background. I found they immersed me into the story and brought it to life in way that a straight reading wouldn’t be able to do.

My Rating: 4/5

overall
This story reminded my why I love books with mythology! From the passionate romances to the always plotting characters, there’s a lot to like about Fragile Chaos and the world it presents.

Read if You Like: mythology, romance
Avoid if You: dislike mythology, dislike books with complex worlds

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Amber R Duell (Author)

Amber R. Duell was born and raised in a small town in Central New York. While it will always be home, she’s spent the last six years living in Germany and Maine as a military wife where the next step is always an adventure.

When Amber isn’t writing, she’s wrangling her two young sons. She is a lover of history, a fan of snowboarding, and a travel enthusiast. In her downtime, she can be found curling up with a good book and a cat or two.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

Bradley Pittman (Narrator)

Bradley Pittman is a producer and freelance musician living and working in Atlanta. He received a bachelor’s degree in audio production from Georgia State University in 2016. Though he most commonly works on musical projects, he began self-producing audiobook chapters in 2015 as a way to unite his love of studio production with his love of literature.

 

Jamie-Lee Lewis (Narrator)

Jamie-Lee Lewis, aka Jaylew, hails from the island of Jamaica. Since a small child, she’s always had a hyper imagination. She enjoys writing and telling stories, singing and composing songs, entertaining and edifying, playing different characters as well as creating them through drawings, and finding the beauty and fun in everything she does. She is currently a professional and passionate Youtuber.

Fragile Chaos Giveaway: $5 Amazon Gift Card/eBook OR Headphones/Mug/Tea

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon // Audible // Kobo

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Fresh Fridays: Free to Play (Freedom Series #1) by Bella d’Amour

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:

Freedom Series

Other books in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Free to Play (from Goodreads):

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

“Brent, will you be my first?”

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

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

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Series: Freedom Series
Author: Bella d’Amour
# of Books: 1+ (Free to Play, Free to Live)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, Free to Live to be published in February 2018
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sports
Heat Rating: hot
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: November 27, 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Author–eARC | Thanks so much Bella d’Amour!

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

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

What I Liked:

–Fantastic Chemistry–

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

–They Actually Talked to Each Other!–

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

–Building Joey’s Self-Esteem–

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

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

What I Didn’t Like:

–A Tad Too Dramatic Near the End–

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

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

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

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

My Rating: 4/5

Free to Play 4/5 | Book 2 TBP

overall

If you love character strong romances, pick this one up!

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

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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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