Tag «romance»

Series Review: The Rule Breakers by Jennifer Blackwood

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 The Rule Book (from Goodreads):

Starr Media Second-Assistant Survival Guide

1. Don’t call your hot boss the antichrist to his face.
2. Don’t stare at hot boss’s, um, package or his full sleeve of tattoos. (No. Really. Stop!)
3. Don’t get on the malicious first assistant’s bad side.
4. Don’t forget to memorize the 300-page employee manual.
5. If you value your cashmere, steer clear of boss’s dog.
6. Boss’s dimples are lust-inducing. Do. Not. Give. In.
7. “The elevator ate your clothes” is not a valid excuse for showing up to important meetings half dressed.
8. Don’t break seven of the rules within the first week of employment if you, ya know, are in dire need of money to support your sick mom.
9. Whatever you do, don’t fall for the boss. See rule eight about sick mom.
10. Never forget the rules.

breakdown

Series: The Rule Breakers
Author: Jennifer Blackwood
# of Books: 2 (The Rule Book, The Rule Maker)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Workplace, Humour
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person Single; Alternating (The Rule Maker)
Publication Dates: May 2016 – January 2017
Source & Format: Own & Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Kobo had been recommending this series to me for forever, so I decided to pick up The Rule Book one day. Of course, I didn’t read it right away but when my “big city” library card was expiring, I decided to read my copy so I could read the library’s copy of the sequel and save myself so cash 😛

I love a good contemporary romance in the workplace. But seeing as I read this on the cusp of the #metoo movement, I went in a little hesitantly. This promised to be funny and light so I went in optimistically.

The Plot:

Both books are pretty simple in terms of their plot execution. It mostly focuses on the girls fighting the forbidden feelings they have for their respective boys but failing at it spectacularly. That leads to some funny moments that definitely had me chuckling along.

These books have a lot of build up to the “main event” (ie the characters giving into their feelings and starting a romance) and not a lot happens. Then suddenly the relationship starts, the big conflict arises and the book is wrapped up within a chapter or two. For me, it just made everything seem rushed and I wasn’t a fan.

This was the case in particular with The Rule Book. It really irked me that the drama at the end of the novel was caused by simply omitting something. I put my complaint in spoilers below because it is hard to explain but I kept it pretty general so it isn’t a major spoiler.

My Problem with the Ending of The Rule Book

When Brogan accuses Lainey of the breach, she makes no effort to defend herself whatsoever. Perhaps she feels like it’s a waste of breath because Brogan is completely convinced but she just takes it as is and leaves. While I understand that that is part of Lainey’s character flaw (look how the other assistant treated her and how she just let him), her inability to even try to right the situation really bothered me.

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The Characters:

I liked all the characters and their humor. It provided a lot of great scenes and witty remarks. They’ve all got their flaws that they have to work at so I appreciated their vulnerability.

In some ways I wish Brogan had his own POV in The Rule Book because it would have been nice to get to know his character a little more. But on the other hand, I enjoyed slowly learning about him as Lainey did. There is something to be said about a little bit of mystery!

The Romance:

This was definitely stronger in The Rule Book (#1) than in The Rule Maker (#2) I really struggled with the romance in The Rule Maker because I never saw that deeper connection between them nor did I feel the tension brimming. It just made the whole story seem a little lackluster and I felt myself getting a little bored.

Series Rating: 3.5/5

The Rule Book 3.5/5 | The Rule Maker 3/5

overall

If you’re looking for a lighter read that doesn’t focus on sexy times and has a dash of humour, these books are great, quicker reads!

Read if You Like: workplace romance, light reads, humour
Avoid if You: want erotica, want longer stories, want more emotion

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Blog Tour: Close (Ryder Brothers #1) by Laurelin Paige

Synopsis for Close (from Goodreads):
Everyone wants to get close to a rock star.

The bright lights.
The music.
Those talented fingers strumming… a guitar.
Everyone wants to bang a rock star.

So why do I keep running from the one who wants me?

I’m America’s Sweetheart.
I have a reputation.
He’s a boy-band icon turned rock god.
I’m vanilla.
He’s every flavor of bad.
And he’s much, much too young for me.

If I end up in Nick Ryder’s bed, my career and I will both be screwed.

…but that’s only if I’m caught.

Other books in the series:
book3

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: Ryder Brothers
Author: Laurelin Paige
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, Want, to be published in November 2018
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Celebrity
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: October 10, 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Candi Kane PR–eARC

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a huge Laurelin Paige fan. She writes fantastic contemporary romances and I always have a great time reading her novels. So I was SUPER DUPER excited about the concept of this novel (and subsequent series). I love musician romances and I’m a sucker for stories involving the rich and the famous so this was right up my alley.

The Plot:

It just has the right amount of everything. The romance is passionate yet well developed; the characters are charming and layered; and there is just the right amount of drama to make this entire story plausible. The lack of over-dramatics is what really made this book a winner for me. There is plenty of drama to be had but I felt like everything did a really great job circling back to this sweet and heated romance.

The Characters:

I really liked both of our leads. If you’ve read One More Time by Laurelin Paige, you might remember Natalia so I was excited to get a deeper understanding of her character. She’s a sweet woman who feels a little trapped in her famous persona. She’s struggling with who she is as a person and who the world views her as and I found that dynamic to be interesting to watch.

And Nick is an absolute sweetheart! He’s confident and charming. I like what he brings out in Natalia and vice versa.

The Romance:

Another thing I loved was the relationship between Natalia and Nick. They actually talked to each other! They make a fabulous pair together and I definitely saw why they worked in every way. There is nothing I enjoy more in a romance than two people who are oblivious to the obvious feelings between them so the tension is great throughout. Plus, there is plenty of steam in between those great character moments to pack in the heat.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Gah! I can’t wait to learn more about Nick’s brothers!

My Rating: 5/5

Close 5/5 | Want TBR | More TBR

overall
Simply put, this is just a really great contemporary romance novel.

Read if You Like: contemporary romances, celebrities
Avoid if You: dislike sexy times

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Read an Excerpt Here!

 

Laurelin Paige

With over 1 million books sold, Laurelin Paige is the NY Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling Author of the Fixed Trilogy. She’s a sucker for a good romance and gets giddy anytime there’s kissing, much to the embarrassment of her three daughters. Her husband doesn’t seem to complain, however. When she isn’t reading or writing sexy stories, she’s probably singing, watching Game of Thrones and the Walking Dead, or dreaming of Michael Fassbender. She’s also a proud member of Mensa International though she doesn’t do anything with the organization except use it as material for her bio.

Author Links:Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon

Book Tour Organised by:

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Single Sundays: Dating You / Hating You by Christina Lauren

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

Synopsis for Dating You / Hating You (from Goodreads):

 

All’s fair in love and work. The first standalone romance by New York Times and #1 international bestselling author Christina Lauren (Beautiful Bastard) is a sexy, compulsively readable romantic comedy that dives headlong into the thrill and doubt of modern love.

Despite the odds against them from an embarrassing meet-awkward at a mutual friend’s Halloween party, Carter and Evie immediately hit it off. Even the realization that they’re both high-powered agents at competing firms in Hollywood isn’t enough to squash the fire.

But when their two agencies merge—causing the pair to vie for the same position—all bets are off. What could have been a beautiful, blossoming romance turns into an all-out war of sabotage. Carter and Evie are both thirtysomething professionals—so why can’t they act like it?

Can Carter stop trying to please everyone and see how their mutual boss is really playing the game? Can Evie put aside her competitive nature long enough to figure out what she really wants in life? Can their actor clients just be something close to human? Whether these two Hollywood love/hatebirds get the storybook Hollywood ending or just a dramedy of epic proportions, you will get to enjoy Christina Lauren’s heartfelt, raucous, and hilarious romance style at its finest.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Author: Christina Lauren
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: June 6, 2017
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve been a fan of Christina Lauren’s series for a while so I was curious to see what they could do with a standalone. This one looked like it would be a lot of fun and I couldn’t wait to see the chemistry between Evie and Carter come to life as they competed for the job.

The Plot:

I laughed a lot while listening to this which is always a big plus. The antics these two get into were creative and hilarious. I got some very high intensity ideas to prank my co-workers with 😉

The other big highlight for me was the emphasis on sexism in the workplace. I read this book in February 2018, just on the cusp of the #MeToo movement and it further resonated with me the systemic problems women face in the workplace. Watching both Evie and Carter come to terms with it was an interesting aspect to this novel.

There was something off about the pacing which is why this isn’t a 5/5. This book was utterly addicting thanks to the characters and the chemistry between them. But I felt like it got lost in some of the more filler moments.

The Characters:

I really loved these two. Evie was a strong heroine and her attitude and drive is admirable. She’s hilarious ad completely her own person which is great. As is Carter who is equally charming and sincere.

Both had some great character development and I got sucked into their stories.

The Romance:

I loved the chemistry between Evie and Carter. They were a perfect match from the start. Carter is just adorable with his infatuation. This book has a bit of a slow burn feel to it so the tension is just palpable between these two.

Compared to other Christina Lauren novels I’ve read, I liked that this one wasn’t so focused on the sex scenes. They’re really aren’t all that many (just your standard for contemporary romance nowadays) and I really appreciated that in a way because it just highlighted the great connection between these two instead of their physical chemistry.

My Audiobook Experience:

I’m really glad with my decision to read this as an audiobook. It just made this thing seem like a rom-com movie to me. One of the funniest audiobooks I’ve listened to. Shayna Thibodeaux  and Deacon Lee did great jobs as the narrators. Their tone and performance was just fabulous!

My Rating: 4/5

overall

This is a funny and charming contemporary romance. It isn’t as erotica based as previous Christina Lauren novels so take with that what you will. But returning fans and new readers alike will enjoy this novel!

Read if You Like: Chick Lit, office romance, rom-com
Avoid if You: want more erotica

similarreads

  • Wallbanger by Alice Clayton (Cocktail Series #1)
  • Lace Up by Shae Ross (Pretty Smart Girls Series #1)
  • Smut by Karina Halle

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Fresh Fridays: Beauty of the Beast (Fairy Tale Retellings #1) by Rachel L Demeter

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:

Fairy Tale Retellings Series

Other books planned to be in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Beauty of the Beast (from Goodreads):

Experience the world’s most enchanting and timeless love story—retold with a dark and realistic twist.

A BEAST LIVING IN THE SHADOW OF HIS PAST

Reclusive and severely scarred Prince Adam Delacroix has remained hidden inside a secluded, decrepit castle ever since he witnessed his family’s brutal massacre. Cloaked in shadow, with only the lamentations of past ghosts for company, he has abandoned all hope, allowing the world to believe he died on that tragic eve twenty-five years ago.

A BEAUTY IN PURSUIT OF A BETTER FUTURE

Caught in a fierce snowstorm, beautiful and strong-willed Isabelle Rose seeks shelter at a castle—unaware that its beastly and disfigured master is much more than he appears to be. When he imprisons her gravely ill and blind father, she bravely offers herself in his place.

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

Stripped of his emotional defenses, Adam’s humanity reawakens as he encounters a kindred soul in Isabelle. Together they will wade through darkness and discover beauty and passion in the most unlikely of places. But when a monster from Isabelle’s former life threatens their new love, Demrov’s forgotten prince must emerge from his shadows and face the world once more…

Perfect for fans of Beauty and the Beast and The Phantom of the Opera, Beauty of the Beast brings a familiar and well-loved fairy tale to life with a rich setting in the kingdom of Demrov and a captivating, Gothic voice.

Beauty of the Beast is the first standalone installment in a series of classic fairy tales reimagined with a dark and realistic twist.

Disclaimer: This is an edgy, historical romance retelling of the classic fairy tale. Due to strong sexual content, profanity, and dark subject matter, including an instance of sexual assault committed by the villain, Beauty of the Beast is not intended for readers under the age of 18.

breakdown

Series: Fairy Tale Retellings
Author: Rachel L Demeter
# of Books: 1+ (Beauty of the Beast, Book 2)
Book Order: Standalone
Complete?: No, Book 2 is in the works
Genre: Adult, Fairy Tale Retelling, Romance, Historical
Heat Rating: Hot **mature subject matter**
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: March 15, 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I found out about this book after seeing a review for it by Raven @ Dreamy Addictions. Most of the fairy tale retellings I read are from a YA perspective so I was curious to see what an adult version of a Beauty and the Beast retelling would be. Thanks to her review I knew that there was some darker scenes but overall it was an enjoyable read and I quickly marked it for my TBR.

What I Liked:

–No Magic–

I suppose you could argue that the magic involved in the Disney version adds to the charm of the story but I really liked the lack of magic here. The idea of the rose dying and imposing a time limit almost rushes the romance between the two–almost forcing them to be together. But without that in this story, we get to focus on the characters and their connection. It gives the story a realistic tone that simply adds to this story in a positive way that very few Beauty and the Beast retellings can achieve.

–Slow Burn Romance–

I enjoy slow burn romances because they usually take the time to show you how great a couple can be together. You see everything that draws them together and you see them start to change their mind about the other person as they fall deeper in love.

That’s entirely the case here. While these two seem to have a basal attraction to each other, their relationship really blossoms over time thanks to conversation and mutual understanding. You saw their chemistry come to life as you read and as time passed and I loved that.

Nothing ever felt forced between them or simply a result of being the only two people in the house (the biggest argument people have about this fairy tale). Their relationship was healthy and mature which is not always the case in this type of retelling. It’s starts as friendship and slowly becomes something more.

–Great Leads–

What I really liked is that both of these characters are strong yet flawed in their own way. It’s not just the “perfect” heroine taming the beast. Both leads had to work on becoming better people and letting someone else into their world. Throughout the novel they each had great character development and I loved watching them evolve as people while falling in love.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Middle Lagged a Little Bit–

All in all, the pacing of this book was pretty great. I found myself completely absorbed into the world. But I did find that the middle did get itself stuck in a bit of a lag. There was a point where the secondary plot just got shoved aside so it made the resurgence almost seem a little rushed. And some scenes felt slightly repetitive. However, I really just loved watching these two so I never felt bored with the story.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

According to a Goodreads Q&A, the next book in the series might be a Little Mermaid or Aladdin retelling so I can’t wait to see what is done next!

My Rating: 4/5

Beauty of the Beast 4/5 | Book 2 TBP

overall

This is a great fairy tale retelling series for adults. Please do take the disclaimer to heart (though it is just an isolated scene) but know that this isn’t some dark erotica. It focuses on the great characters and the connection between them while weaving your favourite tales into it.

Read if You Like: slow burn romance, adult fairy tale retellings
Avoid if You: want erotica, want magic, are uncomfortable with sexual assault

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Series Review: Stage Dive by Kylie Scott

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 Lick (from Goodreads):

Waking up in Vegas was never meant to be like this.

Evelyn Thomas’s plans for celebrating her twenty-first birthday in Las Vegas were big. Huge. But she sure never meant to wake up on the bathroom floor with a hangover to rival the black plague, a very attractive half-naked tattooed man in her room, and a diamond on her finger large enough to scare King Kong. Now if she could just remember how it all happened.

One thing is certain, being married to one of the hottest rock stars on the planet is sure to be a wild ride.

breakdown

Series: Stage Dive

There is a spin-off series called Dive Bar

Author: Kylie Scott
# of Books: 4 (Lick, Play, Lead, Deep)

There is a novella, #4.5 Strong

Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Rockstar, Music
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: October 2013 – March 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook (Lick); Audiobook; eARC (Strong)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

We all know that rockstars are my kryptonite so of course I would pick this up! I’ve heard great things about Kylie Scott’s works as well so I was excited to start this series.

The Plot:

There isn’t too much else to the plot besides these budding romances and the obstacles in the way, which worked for me. You get your typical drama but I never felt like things were overly dramatic.

I will say that because these are faster reads, some of the plot issues are resolved quicker than I like to see. But I was always entertained when reading to I can let that slide.

The Characters:

One of my biggest complaints about Lick (Book #1) was that the characters didn’t seemed as developed as I wanted them to be. They go through the motions of evolving as characters but we don’t get below the surface with them. But I didn’t feel that way with Lead (Book #3). I thought we had some great insight into the characters and their pasts. Unfortunately, Deep (Book #4) had the same problems as Lick did so that was disappointing, especially after I loved Lead as much as I did.

I also have to say that I did not like our hero at all in Play (Book #2). He was wayyyy too much for me to handle and I found him to be super annoying.

The Romance:

It was the lack of chemistry between the leads in Play (Book #2) that had me DNFing this book just after the first quarter mark. I just didn’t see how those two meshed at all and so watching their scenes together was just painful for me. It felt forced and a dash overly dramatic as well. Even watching their interactions in later books had me feeling good about my decision to not finish their story.

I also struggled with the romance a bit in Book #4, Deep. I just felt like our leads interacted for very little of the book and so I missed seeing that deeper connection form. And that’s a shame because I really loved the chemistry and slow burn romances that Lick (#1) and Lead (#3) had and I wished that transferred through.

When to read the novella, #4.5 Strong:

I would read this after you read Deep (#4) just because the romance is alluded too more in that book than any others (though our heroine is introduced in Lick [#1]).

>> You can read my full review of Strong here as a part of the release Blog Tour!

My Audiobook Experience:

I managed to read the eBook copy from my “big city” library before my card expired and then had to rely on my local library for copies. But they only had the audiobooks–which worked for me because I am becoming a huge audiobook listening. Andi Arndt does the narration for the entire series and she is fabulous! Definitely one of my favourite female narrators for audiobooks. She managed to have unique voices for all the girls from book to book.

Series Rating: 3/5

Lick 4/5 | Play DNF | Lead 5/5 | Deep 2/5 | [Strong 3/5]

overall

I was really all over the place with this series but those looking for cute, quick romances featuring rockstars and strong heroines will likely find themselves entertained.

Read if You Like: quick romances, rockstars
Avoid if You: want deeper characters
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Single Sundays: The Wrong Prince by C K Brooke

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

Synopsis for The Wrong Prince (from Goodreads):

Two princes. One bride. A dire misunderstanding…

Geo and Dmitri are the princes of Tybiria. Though Geo is the obvious athlete, it’s bookish Dmitri that yields the credit – and consequences – for slaying a foreign prince. But whose arrow really struck the boy?

Luccia Camerlane is the Baron of Backshore’s enigmatic daughter…as well as Prince Geo’s secret mistress…until she learns of her disastrous betrothal to none other than his brother, Prince Dmitri.

When Dmitri is abducted by the deranged King of Llewes, star-crossed lovers Geo and Lucie must set aside their woes and differences to rescue the Crown Prince from the formidable Wintersea fortress. A precocious castle ward, a fascinating love-quadrangle, and a hit-woman harlot complete this action packed rom com in another wickedly fast-paced fantasy adventure from C.K. Brooke, author of The Red Pearl and the Books of Jordinia.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Author: C K Brooke
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure, Romance
Heat Rating: warm **spicy YA**
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: June 17, 2016
Source & Format: Author–eARC | Thank You C K Brooke!

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Adventure stories are not my favourite reads. I find them boring and drawn out but there is just something about C K Brooke’s adventure stories that keep me coming back. I’m always entertained when I read her books thanks to their twisting, never dull plots and the eclectic cast of characters. So even though this story’s synopsis boasted of a love triangle (ugh, my least favourite trope ever), I knew that there was likely more to this story than mooning teenagers…

The Concept / The World:

I always love the worlds C K Brooke’s creates. They just have so much to them and you can tell she is one creative writer who plans out exactly how things are going to work in her worlds.

I will say though that there was a slight disconnect for me in terms of the sexual content. While there aren’t any straight up sex scenes, it’s alluded to quite frequently. Now, I like a “grittier” side to my stories but for the most part this story was pretty light and airy–almost wholesome to a degree–and the visits to brothels and the like just seemed slightly out of place with the rest of the story in terms of maturity. I hope what I’m trying to say is coming across… I guess, while this book feels very young in its audience there are some aspects that people who enjoy “clean” reads will not like (though nothing is full out described).

As for the concept, like I speculated before I started this book, there is more to this book than a love triangle gone awry. Yes, it’s an important factor in the story but there are other plot lines happening.

The Plot:

The synopsis gets it right: “Action packed rom-com” is the perfect way to describe this plot. This story was the perfect mix of fun, serious and heartwarming all at once. I just loved the way the story kept building and moving. Yes, it helps that we get multiple character POVs so we are constantly getting new layers to the story. Like the Jordinia Series, reading this book had me thinking about The Princess Bride and how they have similar vibes and styles when it comes to plot development and interesting characters.

The Characters:

I really liked all these characters, but Dmitri and Pavi take the cake for me. I just really loved their storyline. But the rest of the cast is unique and entertaining and you really can’t ask for much more. All the female characters are strong and independent so that was great to see. I thought the character development was good for the shorter length of the story. Everyone is complex and we get enough backstory to get a solid read on their characters so that was great.

The Romance:

While the love-quadrangle is definitely at play, I think you know where everyone’s hearts lie so there isn’t anything overly frustration about the love triangle. It doesn’t become the main focus of the novel though it does play a role in the overall story. Part of the reason this isn’t a 5 star read is because I did get frustrated though with the lack of communication between 2 characters because it came across as immature even though they were having an affair which seems pretty mature to me…

My Rating: 4/5

overall

Perfect for fans of fast-paced adventures with a dash of romance!

Read if You Like: rom-com adventures, fast stories, multiple POVs
Avoid if You: dislike YA fantasy

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Series Review: The Bet by Rachel Van Dyken

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 The Bet (from Goodreads):

“I have a proposition for you.” Kacey should have run the minute those words left Seattle millionaire Jake Titus’s mouth. It’s been years since Kacey’s seen her childhood friend Jake, but the minute Jake mentions his ill grandmother, Kacey is ready to do anything for the sweet old woman. And if that means pretending they’re engaged for her sake-so be it.

But Kacey wasn’t counting on Jake’s older brother Travis still being there. She calls him “Satan” for a reason: she’s never forgotten the way he teased and taunted her. Yet when they meet again, Travis’s gorgeous smile is a direct hit to her heart . . . and Kacey’s more confused than ever. As the days pass, only one thing starts to become alarmingly clear-she never should have accepted Jake’s deal . . .

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: The Bet
Author: Van Dyken
# of Books: 3 (The Bet, The Wager, The Dare)
Book Order: Connected (but chronological events)
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Humour
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple (The Bet); Alternating
Publication Dates: March 2013 – July 2014
Source & Format: Own & Public Library–eBook

thoughts

NOTE: I only read The Bet (#1) and The Dare (#3). I DNF’d The Wager at 14%. Find out why below.

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve really enjoyed Rachel Van Dyken’s previous series in the past and I’ve had this one marked on my TBR forever. I only had the first book on my eReader and that’s why it was selected for my #ShelfLove Challenge for 2017.

I didn’t know entirely what to expect going into The Bet. It gets a few polarizing reviews on Goodreads but I went in with an open mind and the need to be entertained.

The Plot:

As whole, this series is about a meddling Grandmother who wants her grandsons to get their heads out of their butts and get married to the “ones that got away”. Grandma Nadine is an over the top character as are her antics. Her meddling isn’t a huge focus in The Bet (#1) but it does become a huge part of the latter two novels.

This results in some mixed feelings for me in terms of the plot. I enjoyed The Bet as Nadine is more of the filter-less Grandmother who inserts a comment or two along the way. But her interference in the next two novels is very hit or miss. Most of the time I enjoyed the concept of the second chance romance but not the execution–mainly Nadine’s manipulation–of the plot. It takes everything to this over-dramatic level that I wasn’t a fan of.

The Characters:

I think these characters really make it or break it for the readers. They aren’t the most mature out there and I wouldn’t say that all of them are completely likable either. I think I was just in the right mood for tolerating some of these characters when I read the books.

Case and point: Kacey. I really struggled with her because she does some down-right awful things to Travis when they are kids. I’m talking full out bullying the boy to the point where I’m shocked he turned out as nice as he did. But she does have these moments where she comes across as a genuinely nice girl (now that she’s older) so it was hard to pinpoint my exact feelings on her.

I think if you don’t take them all so seriously and focus on the silly things that happen along the way, you can enjoy this novel without loving the characters. (But I understand that is a hard thing to do in a romance novel–case and point why I DNF’d Book #2 The Wager).

The Romance:

These are all second chance stories that happen quickly (usually within a week or two), reestablishing this connection from the past. We only get a few flashbacks to the past so it was hard to convince me that all these characters were a great match. The connections of the leads in The Wager and The Dare just seemed so superficial to me because their past was a shared night of lust.

Why I DNF’d The Wager (#2) at 14%:

I was actually pretty excited to start this one because I love a good “player redemption story”. But the immaturity of these characters irritated me to no ends. Their opening chapters just seemed so ridiculous to me and I couldn’t get into.

Series Rating: 3/5

The Bet 4.5/5 | The Wager DNF| The Dare 2.5/5

overall

I think if you enjoy stories that don’t take themselves too seriously and can get past somewhat mature characters, you will enjoy this series. However, Rachel Van Dyken writes much (much) better romance novels so perhaps try Ruin or The Matchmaker’s Playbook instead.

Read if You Like: over the top drama, quick second chance romances
Avoid if You: dislike immature characters, struggle with humour in novels

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Novella Serial Review: Insta-Love on the Run by Bella Love-Wins

Serial Saturdays: On the occasional Saturday, I review a serialized series (a series that is released in parts that would normally make up a whole novel) to see if the series is worth keeping up with or worth buying all its parts. Here is this week’s offering:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for His Ex’s Little Sister (from Goodreads):

She’s supposed to be off-limits, but all bets are off.

Reid
I’ll never regret running away from a f**king nightmare of a broken home to join the Army. On my return after three tours, I have a chance meeting with a sexy little country-western songbird. The attraction is explosive, but she turns out to be my ex-girlfriend’s little sister. I don’t remember her having all those curves, or her sassy attitude, or that mouth that was made for sin.
Now that I’ve set my sights on Robin, her forbidden status means nothing to me. I’m ready to claim her, no matter the cost.

Robin
I bump into the bad boy who broke my sister’s heart nine years ago, and everything changes. I never expect forbidden fireworks, secrets and danger at every turn, and a hero in my corner when I need him most.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Canadian Author
Series: Insta-Love on the Run
Author: Bella Love Wins
# of Parts: 6 (Full List Here)
Complete?: Yes
Book Order: Standalones
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: July 2017
Source & Format: Author Newsletter–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I have a few of Bella Love-Wins titles on my TBR and I keep an eye on her works because she is a Canadian author and I love to support my fellow Canucks.

I will admit, the fact that there is “insta-love” in the title scared me a bit. But I tend to be a little more lenient when it comes to novellas because they do have that shorter page length so of course everything feels a touch rushed.

The Concept:

The Insta-Love on the Run series includes quick and sinfully steamy contemporary romance standalones you can devour on the run! Each book is a short burst of explosive romance that’ll consume you for up to two hours. Find your dose of love from the very first page.

These stories really have no connection besides the fact that they all have an insta-love basis. So don’t expect to recognize characters from one story to the next.

The Plot:

You know, these novellas had more story to them than I anticipated. That kinda worked in their favour since I didn’t feel like I was just reading sexy time after sexy time. But in the same breathe, I would have preferred to have that time be used to establish a bit more of a connection with the characters.

The Romance:

It’s all in the title! These are quick, eyes-meeting-across-the-room love stories.

Series Rating: 3/5

overall

If you want a quick romance read that aren’t solely erotica, check this series out!

Read if You Like: novellas, romance, quick romances
Avoid if You: want stronger romances
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Fresh Fridays: Furyborn (Empirium #1) by Claire Legrand

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:

Empirium Series

Other books planned to be in the series:
book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Furyborn (from Goodreads):

When assassins ambush her best friend, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing herself as one of a pair of prophesied queens: a queen of light, and a queen of blood. To prove she is the Sun Queen, Rielle must endure seven elemental magic trials. If she fails, she will be executed…unless the trials kill her first.

One thousand years later, the legend of Queen Rielle is a fairy tale to Eliana Ferracora. A bounty hunter for the Undying Empire, Eliana believes herself untouchable—until her mother vanishes. To find her, Eliana joins a rebel captain and discovers that the evil at the empire’s heart is more terrible than she ever imagined.

As Rielle and Eliana fight in a cosmic war that spans millennia, their stories intersect, and the shocking connections between them ultimately determine the fate of their world—and of each other.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Cover Love
Series: Empirium
Author: Claire Legrand
# of Books: 3 (Furyborn, Book 2, Book 3)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book 2 to be published in 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magic, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: May 22, 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC | Thanks for granting my wish Sourcebooks Fire!

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I had requested a review copy on Netgalley but was declined. So imagine my surprise when a week later, I get an email saying my wish was granted to get an advance copy! YAY!

I was really eager to get my hands on this book for many reasons. One, I loved the concept of two girls centuries apart tied together by some prophecy. Two, I loved that these girls were kick-butt, fierce fighters. Three, I loved the cover. Four, I needed a new fantasy series in my life.

Unfortunately, it took me a long time to get my hands on this book even though I had a copy wayyy in advance. I’ve never let a book go that long on Netgalley in my life. But other early reviews had me scared to pick this up as they were rather polarizing and I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect when I did pick it up.

What I Liked:

–Rielle’s Backstory–

The Rielle we meet in the prologue is nothing like the Rielle we meet in the first chapter of her POV. So how did she evolve to be that way? What happens during the trials to get to this point? That had me eager to find out more and pressed me to keep reading.

(Though read more below to find out why this also backfires as the same time)

–Sex Positive–

I know that sex in YA is a controversial topic to some degree but I really liked how sex positive this story was. You’ll see this book touted as having a bi-sexual lead but that wasn’t overly apparent to me (I think there is like one line that alludes to some flirting with another girl?). Nevertheless, any book that can weave that in seamlessly is a winner.

What I did like was that these characters have sex and talk about it and how to have it safely. You don’t see that a lot in YA. Yes, the sex scenes are more descriptive than your usual YA material but it alludes more to the act than actually describing it.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Lack of World-Building–

For the first 20% of this book, I contemplated DNFing it. I just felt so lost in everything that was happening. Like what where these powers Rielle had? How does this world even work? Are there actually angels? I just didn’t know how anything functioned in this world. I felt like I picked up Book 2 in a series where I am expected to already know the basics.

However, once the actual plot of the novel starts, I found myself forgetting about how the world worked and concentrating on the drama that was unfolding. Sure enough, things do start to get explained to you so I found myself getting more comfortable with what was happening.

–Lack of Suspense Thanks to the Prologue–

It’s the last line of the synopsis, “the shocking connections between them” that had me curious. I love that type of suspense where you know there is something bigger going on but it doesn’t reveal itself until later. But in this case, we know the big connection between the two by the end of the prologue…talk about a buzz kill! Perhaps it isn’t said outright but it doesn’t take much to put two and two together. So I found that dampened some of my excitement moving forward.

It’s the same situation with Rielle and her trials. Given the nature of this story (one told in the past and one in the future), you generally know how Rielle’s story goes (especially when you start with the Prologue) and so that anticipation of wondering what will happen in each trial becomes a bit of a mute point.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

When I finished this book, I decided I was going to be on the fence about picking up the sequel (meaning I was going to wait and read the synopsis for Book 2 before I decided). But as I was writing my review, I downgraded my rating from a 3, to a 2.5 and then to a 2 because I didn’t have too many positive things to say. And I also felt satisfied in terms closure with these characters. My major questions were answered and I have a good idea of where things are going and it just doesn’t interest me.

My Rating: DNF

Furyborn 2/5 | Book 2 TBP | Book 3 TBP

overall

The lack of world-building at the start of the story followed by some very obvious clues early on can make this story duller than it should be at times. But, it very slowly lays down the foundation for some potentially intriguing sequels if things are done differently in the future.

Read if You Like: alternating POVs, good characters that go “bad”
Avoid if You: need strong world-building early on, want more suspense

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Series Review: Clayton Falls by Alyssa Rose Ivy

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Derailed (from Goodreads):

When you’re lost, sometimes the only place you can go is home.

Broken over the death of her fiancé, Molly leaves law school to return to her childhood home in North Carolina. Expecting to lay low until she can figure out what else to do with her life, she finds herself in the arms of her high school sweetheart, the boy who represents everything from the past she tried to leave behind.

Looking for an escape, she instead finds a way back to the girl she almost forgot existed and a future she never dreamed possible.

breakdown

Series: Clayton Falls
Author: Alyssa Rose Ivy
# of Books: 4 (Derailed, Veer, Wrecked, Book 4)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: There is a Book 4 planned but no release date
Genre: Adult / New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single (Derailed); Alternating
Publication Dates: September 2012 – ongoing
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I picked up Derailed as a freebie one day on Amazon in 2013. I think I somehow knew that the “hero” was in a band because I always thought of it as a “band” novel–even though that is far from the case. I enjoy second chance stories for the most part and I thought this one had an interesting premise. I even picked up the boxset a few years later (2016) for a good price because I assumed I would want to read the sequels.

Like most books, I don’t get to them right away. If you check my activity on Goodreads, you’ll see that I moved Derailed (Book 1) on and off my “TBR” a total of 4 times over the span of 5 years. It was on my “pass” shelf until I drew the title from my TBR jar in January 2018 as a part of my Tackling the TBR Challenge for 2018. So I did my best to go in with an open mind and started the book.

Why I DNF’d Derailed at 42%–but kept progressing through the series:

So I did end up DNFing Derailed at 42% (just at the start of Chapter 10) for a few reasons. The main one was that this story was not catching my attention. The romance didn’t seem to have any substance to it (I felt like they were just nostalgic for each other and the feelings they shared)–and I was 42% of the way there! And there was a bit of a love triangle which didn’t help. I also didn’t like Molly as a lead. She was so boring to read about yet she was pretty melodramatic. I just found that I couldn’t get a good read on her character.

After I DNF’d it, I went on to read the synopsis for the next two books (since I already owned them) and saw that the leads were some characters that did capture my attention so I decided to give them a shot.

The Plot:

I found it took me awhile to get into all the books. We get these weird meetings between the leads–where they seem to blow the tiniest things out of proportions in an attempt to add “tension” to the relationships–and then we slowly uncover who they are as people. The endings all seemed a little rushed to me in the sense that things I would have liked to have seen early on to provide depth are neatly wrapped up in a chapter or two. It gave the books a lopsided feel to them in that regard.

For me, a lot of the dialogue between the characters came across as stiff and I feel like a majority of the chapters are dialogue. Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing but I found that the lack of inner monologue resulted in the drama being escalated rather quickly and in a more melodramatic fashion than I anticipated.

The Characters:

Besides not liking the leads in Book 1 (Derailed), I did like the rest of the cast. One of the nice things about this series is that it does take place in a small town so you see a majority of the same characters throughout the series.

Once we delve a little deeper into the characters, I found the stories became more enjoyable. With Book 2 (Veer) that was the case entirely. When you start to understand their actions and feelings based on their past it makes it easier to like them as characters.

However, I found the character development to be very underwhelming throughout the series. I felt like we only scratched the surface of these extremely complicated characters. It’s not enough to simply list their troubled pasts–you have to do something with that. And I feel like this series never does anything with the foundations it lays down.

The Romance:

Again, I think the romances suffer from the underdevelopment the rest of the series does. All these characters fall hard and fast; and any conflict is quickly resolved in a neat fashion. So while I could see the basic/initial draw they each had to each other, I wanted to see more conversations and moments of growth with the romances.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

While I think the premise for the 4th book is cute, after the ups and downs I’ve had with this series, it’s going to be a hard pass.

Series Rating: 2/5

Derailed DNF | Veer 3/5 | Derailed 2/5

overall

I craved more from each of these novels. But if you are looking for a straightforward, lighter romance that doesn’t feature in-depth sex scenes, this would be a good series for you.

Read if You Like: lighter reads, second chance stories, small town settings
Avoid if You: want more character development, want erotica

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