Tag «slow burn romance»

Riffle Lists: Slow Burn Romance

Riffle is an independent book site that keeps track of what books you are reading and want to read. It’s similar to GoodReads but it keeps things simple and is super easy to use. One of my favourite features is the ability to create and share lists! It is a great way to create your own list of books that have a certain theme for your own records AND a fantastic way to discover new books through other users’ lists!


Happy Valentine’s Day!

I love (no pun intended) romance themed lists around Valentine’s Day every year. I’m a sucker for a good romance novel and I read them all the time.

This year, I was inspired by my recent Trope Thursday Feature where I looked at the slow burn romance. Normally, I want things to happen fast in my novels but the slow burn romance is the exception. There is nothing I love more than some great sexual tension between leads!

Here are some notable books with slow burn romances:

Read my reviews:

Smut | The Raven Boys | A Stardance Summer | The Wall of Winnipeg and Me | Defy the Stars | Duels & Deception | Unknown | To Win Her Heart | Idol | Play | Cross the Stars | Blackhearts | Schooled | The Mad Tatter | Lost & Found

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Trope Thursdays: Slow Burn Romance [2]

Trope Thursdays: A monthly feature where I look at various reading tropes. Each month I will pick a trope and examine all aspects of it. I’ll discuss the classic features of the trope, what I love (or hate) about it and share some books that use the trope in their plots.


Round 2 of my new feature!

As I said in the description above, the idea is to look at common book tropes and dissect them each month. I’m going to pick a variety of tropes–including ones I hate–and dig a little deeper. First, I’ll define what that trope is and then list some common features. Next, I’ll pick some examples of the trope in action and why it works (or doesn’t work) for that particular story. And then finally, I’ll open the floor to you to tell me your thoughts on the trope or recommend some reads to me.

Slow Burn Romance

Definition:

A romance that develops gradually over time as the characters get to know one each other more.

Common Features:

  • Friends to Lovers
  • In Love With Client/Coworker/Partner
  • Hate to Love You
  • In Love With the Enemy
  • Teach Me to Love
  • In Love with Someone “Forbidden”

What I Love About The Slow Burn Romance Trope:

I’ve only recently come to realize that I love the slow burn romance trope. For me, one of the things I need to see the most in my romances is a deeper connection. Insta-loves don’t work for me because the connection is usually superficial or based on something “unspoken”. But slow burn romances let you see how these characters work together over time. How they compliment each other; how they slowly realize the other person is what they have been looking for all along. That’s when the looks become a little longer; and the thoughts turn into attraction; and the tension between the two leads becomes palpable.

While researching this post, I read some other bloggers’ thoughts on the slow burn trope and I think Liana @ Coffee Time Romance sums it up very nicely:

The slow burn romance means the characters can flirt with the idea of love before ever admitting they are in love. It gives them a chance to learn each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Most importantly, it gives the readers a chance to see the couple through the good days and the bad so that when the characters finally reach Happily Ever After there is no doubt that they will really have forever together.

~Liana @ Coffee Time Romance (Post: The Beauty of the Slow Burn Romance [Sep 4, 2015])

What I Dislike About The Slow Burn Romance Trope:

Sometimes I can be a little impatient when it comes to my romances. There is only so many “near-misses” a girl can take before she’s screaming at the pages for the couple to kiss!

Like I mentioned in my last Trope Thursday Posts about Fake Relationships, the problem with the slow burn usually lies in the characters or the plot itself. If the plot isn’t very strong, I usually want the romance to be of a greater focus so that something is happening in the book. But if it too is just puttering along, well, that can make for a boring read. And when it comes to the characters, I want to like them. So if I find one character is “undeserving” of another, slow burn romances can drive me nuts because I don’t see that deeper connection.

But it’s also important to note that having the characters wait a long time to establish that romantic relationship doesn’t always make a slow burn romance. You need to have those moments that show a connection happen along the way. It isn’t enough to just stick a couple of calendar days between their first meeting and that moment when they finally take the next step. You’ve got to develop it in some way.

Another time slow burn romances can fail is in a series where the romance is spread out over multiple volumes. Once the couple gets together, that tension often disappears because they get into that “honeymoon” phase of the relationship. Their relationship becomes this inevitable fact and you lose a bit of that “will they or won’t they” thrill. Either they become this perfect couple or they have to break up for the sake of the plot. It can make for a boring read in the subsequent sequels if their slow burn romance was the main focus/plot-point of their first book because what else do you have to look forward to?

Books that Use the Slow Burn Romance Trope Well:

The Marriage Bargain (Marriage to a Billionaire, #1)
I found Blackhearts to be a very character driven story–which isn’t surprising because it is an origin story of sorts. Anne and Teach are both such intriguing characters on their own but when they share a scene, the magic really happens. They just have so much in common and watching them discover that was such a treat as a reader.

Their romance follows along the lines of one that is almost forbidden due to their positions in society. So while the attraction might always be there, they really do try and fight it in order to stop their hearts from breaking.

>>Series Review: Blackhearts

 

 

Not only is this one of the longest romance novels I have ever read (the Kindle version has over 600 pages which is absolutely CRAZY!) but it also has one of the slowest burning romances I’ve ever seen.

Why? Well these two don’t start as friends and they aren’t even that attracted to each other but that’s what happens over time. You watch their relationship evolve from boss/employee to partners to friends to lovers. It’s a hard thing for these two very independent people to learn to trust someone else but over the course of the novel, they learn to do that.

>>Standalone Review: The Wall of Winnipeg and Me

 

 

I had already written this post before I started this book. But as I was listening to the audiobook, I knew I just had to include it in this list.

The slow burn of Royally Endowed takes place over the course of years. This is a case where calendar days in between works as there is a never ending list of (realistic) obstacles along the way. It toys with the “will-they-won’t-they” idea until you know something has to give. And when it does, you can’t help but exclaim in joy.

 

Others: Play |  Smut

Books that Didn’t Use the Slow Burn Romance Trope Well:


This one is more a case of a slightly misleading synopsis and the idea of sticking calendar days in the way. I went into this book thinking the romance was going to be the main focus of the story and it wasn’t. In fact, the leads don’t even meet each other until the 50% mark. And when they do, they ignite pretty quickly. So despite the great chemistry and tension that we do finally get, the romance left something to be desired for me due to its execution.

Review: Crossing Stars

 

 

OK! Before everyone gets mad at me for this one hear me out! When I read the synopsis for The Raven Boys, I thought the main plotline was a romance between Blue and Gansey (all that stuff about her true love it mentions). So imagine my surprise when there is nearly zilch in the romance department in The Raven Boys!

I know that the romances are all slow burn and grow over the next 3 volumes but I needed something early on. I found the plot to be slow so this was one of those cases where I would have appreciated something else (like a romance) to focus on to keep the plot moving.

>>Series Review: The Raven Cycle

 

Others: A Stardance Summer |  Changling


Can’t get enough slow burn romances? Be sure to check out my Valentine’s Day Post!

Riffle Lists: Slow Burn Romance (Live February 14th)

 

As this is only my second post for this feature, please let me know what you think about its structure/topics be commenting below. I am more than willing to modify it in the coming months!

Do you enjoy the Slow Burn Romance Trope? Any recommendations?

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Single Sundays: Smut by Karina Halle

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 Smut (from Goodreads):

What happens when the kink between the pages leads to heat between the sheets?

All Blake Crawford wants is to pass his creative writing course, get his university degree, and take over his dad’s ailing family business. What Amanda Newland wants is to graduate at the top of her class, as well as finally finish her novel and prove to her family that writing is a respectful career.

What Blake and Amanda don’t want is to be paired up with each other for their final project, but that’s exactly what they both get when they’re forced to collaborate on a writing piece. Since Amanda thinks Blake is a pushy asshole (with a panty-melting smirk and British accent) and Blake thinks Amanda has a stick up her ass (though it’s a brilliant ass), they fight tooth and nail until they discover they write well together. They also may find each other really attractive, but that’s neither here nor there.

When their writing project turns out to be a success, the two of them decide to start up a secret partnership using a pen name, infiltrating the self-publishing market in the lucrative genre of erotica. Naturally, with so much heat and passion between the pages, it’s not long before their dirty words become a dirty reality. Sure, they still fight a lot, but at least there’s make-up sex now.

But even as they start to fall hard for each other, will their burgeoning relationship survive if their scandalous secret is exposed? Or are happily-ever-afters just a work of fiction?

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top PicksFave New Adult Standalone
Author: Karina Halle
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: May 16, 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Karina Halle is one of those authors that I have a ton of books by, but haven’t read. Ironic too that the first one by her I would read is from the public library and not my own personal collection. But, I was really excited to read this one when I found it on someone’s blog last year (sorry I can’t credit someone!). Thus, it made my 5 Year 5 Book Challenge as a pick for 2016.

I LOVE hate-to-love you relationships and this one sounded perfect! Lots of sexual tension to be had. And like most other book addicts, I have a soft spot for reading about characters who also love literature.

Oh, and the title is just super catchy and intriguing!

The Concept / The World:

I really adored the concept here of these two writing “smut”. Like Porn Star by Laurelin Paige and Sierra Simone, this novel explores a market that is heavily stereotyped and judged: the erotica fiction. The writing is smart and you can tell that Halle has experience and done her research. But the story is also fun when it needs to be and I think fans of the romance genre as a whole will enjoy this concept being brought to life.

As for the setting, it’s on the west coast of Canada (Victoria, British Columbia actually) and as a proud Canadian, I love anything that mentions my home country.

The Plot:

I’m sure a lot of people will read the title and think that this book is only erotica with very little plot–but it isn’t. Actually, this is something the book tries to tackle as a whole (re above paragraph).

The story here is brilliant!

The romance develops at a great pace. There are more than enough comedic scenes that will have you laughing out loud. The characters have solid growth from start to finish. And there is just enough drama to add another layer to the story.

The Characters:

I was worried that I wouldn’t like Amanda because she seemed a little too stereotypical to me. A rich girl who realizes the life her parents have carved out for her isn’t what she wants and she breaks free. But I was happily surprised that she was a very interesting character that has so much depth! I loved watching her grow before my eyes and become confident in who she is.

The same goes for Blake. He’s the typical heart-of-gold player that I love to read about, but he too has a lot of depth.

And the rest of the cast as perfectly, providing humour and wit along the way!

The Romance:

Again, with a title like Smut you might think that the story starts hot and heavy–but that is far from the case! This is such a slow burn romance, but in the best way possible. You really get to see how these characters would work and the tension is so on point you can’t help but root for them to get together! Perfection!

My Rating: 5/5

overall

This is like the ultimate romance novel for romance fans! It has everything you want in a good book: great characters, a sweet romance and just superb writing. You’ll enjoy this for sure!

Read if You Like: contemporary romance, slow burn, stories about writers
Avoid if You: want erotica, want a lighter read
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Series Review: The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater

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 Raven Boys (from Goodreads):

“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

breakdown

Series: The Raven Boys

There is a companion series in the works.

Author: Maggie Stiefvater
# of Books: 4 (The Raven Boys; The Dream Thieves; Blue Lily, Lily Blue; The Raven King)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Supernatural, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: September 2012 – April 2016
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover & eBook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading Dream Thieves (Book 2) at 32%. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Ok, I couldn’t escape this series if I tried. It’s consistently raved about in the blogosphere and I just had to add it to my 5 Year 5 Book Challenge even though I didn’t love Stiefvater’s Wolves of Mercy Falls Series. But the concept was intriguing (perhaps a replacement for the void the Beautiful Creatures Series has left all these years) and all the talk had me eager to see what the hype was for.

What I Liked:

–The Mystery of the World–

The mystery of the world had me intrigued from the start of The Raven Boys. It kept me reading trying to figure out what is actually at play in this world. That intrigue reminded me a lot of the rich world of the Beautiful Creatures and definitely made me a fan of this new world.

However, will say that I did struggle with the magic/supernatural elements of the world at times. Part of the reason I was so interesting in reading was that I wanted to better understand what was actually happening! I think this is just a me thing (I was reading The Raven Boys on a road trip so I was easily distracted).

–The Friendship of the Boys–

Unlike The Wolves of Mercy Falls Series, I actually liked all of the leads here!

First, the brotherhood of the boys is fantastic! It’s nice to see such strong male relationships be the focus of the story as opposed to the romantic relationship between a boy and girl. They are all so interesting and unique and they truly make this story.

Blue is also a strong character as well. Again, I was never irritated by her or her actions so it made it easy to read her story.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Plot is so Slow!–

While the mystery of the world kept me reading, I found the plot itself to be rather slow. The beginning and end had a lot of great twists and developments but I found everything just stayed stagnant in the middle. Especially in The Dream Thieves (#2). I quickly lost interest in the nonexistent plot developments; my mind wasn’t stimulated to keep reading (even reading the complete recap on Recaptains bored me).

–Slightly Misleading Synopsis in terms of Romance–

I thought the synopsis for The Raven Boys was grossly misleading with respect to the romance. It made it seem (to me) that that story was going to be focused on Gansey and Blue fighting an inevitable love and that is far from the case.

The romance is such a minor, minor aspect to the plot (at least in the first book) so don’t expect a page consuming romance here…or at least right away. (Given the spoilers I read, I guess there are some major developments near the end of the series that will appease people).

Will I Finish It?

I don’t think so. I was actually reminded of my experience reading The Darkest Minds where I toughed it out because the twists near the end grabbed my attention but then I struggled through the rest of the series. I don’t want to do that again, so I am going to leave it all here and walk away.

Series Rating: DNF

The Raven Boys 3.5/5 | The Dream Thieves DNF | Blue Lily, Lily Blue N/A | The Raven King N/A

overall

I’m definitely in the minority here but this series was just not for me. It’s a slower novel that focuses more on the characters progressing through their lives as they navigate the mysterious world around them.

Read if You Like: slower stories, magic, psychics
Avoid if You: want more romance
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Fresh Fridays: A Stardance Summer (Eternity Springs #13) by Emily March

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

Eternity Springs Series

Other books in the series:
book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for A Stardance Summer (from Goodreads):

Lili Howe took a leap of faith when she decided to join the Tornado Alleycats, her elderly landlady’s all-female glamour-camping club. Lili’s always given everything to her career, putting herself on track to become her CPA firm’s youngest partner. But now that Lili’s carefully planned future is shattered, she’s willing to let summer work its magic on her―at all costs.

There’s never a dull moment at Stardance Ranch, the Colorado resort Brick Callahan built from the ground up. Still, a late night skinny-dipping session involving a bunch of “glamping” grannies. . .with his best friend’s kid sister Lili among them? He couldn’t have made up such story if he tried. The undeniable mutual attraction between Brick and gorgeous, spirited Lili is a reminder that life is full of surprises. But when Brick’s ex-girlfriend suddenly shows up, he’s faced with a desperate choice: Do right by a woman he once loved or take a chance on Lili. . .and do everything he can to win her heart?

breakdown

Series: Eternity Springs

This is a spin-off of the Callahan Brothers Series.

Author: Emily March (aka Geralyn Dawson)
# of Books: 13 ( Full Reading List Here )
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: February 2011 – ongoing
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC  |  Thank you St Martin’s Press!

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m not one to dive into a series that is 13 books long by reading the most recent release but I was drawn to A Stardance Summer when I read the synopsis. I’m a sucker for the heroine who is in love with her older brother’s BFF and second chance romances are always sweet. I’ve also been looking for a new small town romance series since I finished the Cottonbloom Trilogy last summer and one that is 13 books strong like this series, AMAZING! Plus, the whole premise of Lili joining a senior camping group sounded like a lot of fun.

What I Liked:

–The Setting–

First off, the RV camping crew did not disappoint! I loved Patsy in particular. I want to be her when I grow up, seizing life at every opportunity!

I also loved the town! It’s a very close knit community and I think if I was more familiar with the previous novels I would have soaked up all the little mini cameos former book leads make.

–The Character Development–

Lili is in such a tough place in her life that it was nice to see her grow from that. She takes her time to find out who she is on her own and isn’t heavily influenced by others. I loved seeing her develop from start to finish.

–Sweet Romance–

While I don’t mind some sexy times in my novels, it’s nice to read a romance that didn’t focus on the physical chemistry between the leads on every other page.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Almost Too Slow of a Burn–

While I love slow burn romances, this one seemed a little off to me. I felt like it took too long to get the passion started. It seemed like the relationship took too much of a backseat to Lili’s character development. The sexual tension is there, but I wanted to see this relationship grow a little bit more than the implied past connection.

Will I Pick Up Other Books in the Series?:

Yes! I got a taste of some of the past stories and they sound super intriguing! Eternity Springs has such a fun cast that I’m looking forward to learning more about them all.

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall

This is the perfect read for fans of character-focused romances who like their romances to be sweet and not spicy. A fabulous small town series with an eclectic cast of characters you can’t help but love.

Read if You Like: sweet romances, small towns, character driven stories
Avoid if You: want spicy romance
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Single Sundays: The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata

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 Wall of Winnipeg and Me (from Goodreads):
Vanessa Mazur knows she’s doing the right thing. She shouldn’t feel bad for quitting. Being an assistant/housekeeper/fairy godmother to the top defensive end in the National Football Organization was always supposed to be temporary. She has plans and none of them include washing extra-large underwear longer than necessary.

But when Aiden Graves shows up at her door wanting her to come back, she’s beyond shocked.

For two years, the man known as The Wall of Winnipeg couldn’t find it in him to tell her good morning or congratulate her on her birthday. Now? He’s asking for the unthinkable.

What do you say to the man who is used to getting everything he wants?

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Adult Contemporary 2016
Author: Mariana Zapata
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sports
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: February 29, 2016
Source & Format: Kindle Unlimited–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I first came across this book when reading Sils’ guest post @ Dani Review Things in August 2016 when she was discussing her favourite NA Romance Tropes. Like me, Sil shares a love of fake marriages/relationships in her NA reads and The Wall of Winnipeg and Me was her pick for this trope.

I had never heard of this book before despite the fact that it has the Canadian city of Winnipeg in the title (not many things do) and it would have probably never crossed my radar otherwise. I mean, the synopsis doesn’t tell you that they create a fake relationship–and telling you that isn’t a spoiler because it is the main plot point in this very long novel–so I would never have known.

Regardless, this one peaked my interest and when I accidentally resubscribed to Kindle Unlimited, I needed to make my mistake worth it and decided to use this novel to get my money’s worth. And I sure am glad I did!

Is it Adult Contemporary or New Adult Contemporary?

Ok, Sil listed this as a New Adult read and I can see why. It reads very much like a New Adult read in terms of the character conflicts and stories (both have some darker backstories).

But for me, this is an adult read with some NA qualities. My primary characteristic for Adult/New Adult/Young Adult classification is the age of the characters; my secondary “requirement” for NA classification is whether or not it takes place in or shortly after college. In the case of The Wall of Winnipeg and Me, Vanessa is 26 and has been out of school for a couple of years. I usually classify anything with the youngest lead above the age of 25 as adult and because she is out of school, that just reaffirms that for me.

Nevertheless, this book with appeal to fans of both adult contemporary and NA contemporary.

The Plot:

I think this is one of the longest romance novels I have ever read! The Kindle edition is just a little more than 600 pages–that’s crazy! Most Kindle reads average 200-300 pages; especially in the romance genre.

But surprisingly, this book didn’t really feel that long! It has such a constant pacing that it makes it really easy to read and get involved in the story. New plot points or events are added along the way that keeps everything fresh and the plot moving.

The Characters:

The characters really make this story I think. I really got addicted to seeing how these two interacted with each other. Vanessa was strong and determined; Aiden you just instantly love and want to see succeed.

But what I truly enjoyed about these characters was their growth. These two are flawed in their own ways but what was fantastic was watching these flaws transform. Vanessa and Aiden both evolve so much from the start to the end of the novel. But at the same time, they still remain the same characters underneath. Meaning they don’t become these unrecognizable characters; they just become better versions of themselves thanks to each other.

The Romance:

If you want an example of a slow burn romance, this novel is the very definition of that trope!

As someone who complains a lot about romances being underdeveloped in stories (more tell than show nowadays it seems), this book was uber refreshing. It was great watching these two slowly develop their relationship. It wasn’t focused on the sex or the passion; it focused on the partnership and friendship which is always important in establishing a believable relationship.

These two learn to love and support each other; and I just love when people finally see what has been in front of them the entire time.

My Rating: 4.5/5

overall

This is the perfect read for adult contemporary enthusiasts who want a taste of a New Adult romance. And if you want to experience a true slow burn romance–look no further!

Read if You Like: slow burn romance, sports, New Adult romance
Avoid if You: want a quick read

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Fresh Fridays: Defy The Stars (#1) by Claudia Gray

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:

Defy the Stars Series

Other books in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Defy the Stars (from Goodreads):

She’s a soldier.

Noemi Vidal is a seventeen years old and sworn to protect her planet, Genesis. She’s willing to risk anything—including her own life. To their enemies on Earth, she’s a rebel.

He’s a machine.

Abandoned in space for years, utterly alone, Abel has advanced programming that’s begun to evolve. He wants only to protect his creator, and to be free. To the people of Genesis, he’s an abomination.

Noemi and Abel are enemies in an interstellar war, forced by chance to work together as they embark on a daring journey through the stars. Their efforts would end the fighting for good, but they’re not without sacrifice. The stakes are even higher than either of them first realized, and the more time they spend together, the more they’re forced to question everything they’d been taught was true.

breakdown

Series: Defy the Stars
Author: Claudia Gray
# of Books: 1+ (Defy the Stars, Book 2)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book 2 is to be released
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: April 4 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: NetGalley–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I was lucky enough to snag one of 500 Read Now copies of Defy the Stars thanks to Lilly @ Lair of Books back in February. I’ve read (and enjoyed) all of Claudia Gray’s YA series in the past so I was excited to see what she could do with her own Science Fiction series (I’ll admit I’ve never read her Star Wars novels).

What I Liked:

–Abel & Noemi–

Noemi is such a strong heroine that you can’t help but love her as she evolves to see the bigger picture of the universe and herself. Abel won me over from the start as well. His character development is probably my favourite part of this novel. Together they make a fabulous team that compliments each other supremely well.

–The World Building–

The universe this story is set in is fabulous; it’s complex and layered but easy to follow at the same time. I never found that aspect to be lacking the entire time I was reading. You don’t have to be overly familiar with technology or other science fiction works to understand the plot.

–Romance Wasn’t the Focus–

Far too often the romance becomes the sole focus of the story. And while I am a huge romance fan, I really liked that it didn’t play a huge role in the novel. It’s a very slow burn type of love and when it is there, it contributes to the story in a positive way instead of a distractor from the main plot-line.

What I Didn’t Like:

–It was so Slow!–

For me, the plot was far too slow. It reads more like an adventure book where you get little hiccups of excitement (often only a chapter or two long) along the way. A chapter would end on an awesome note and we would either switch POVs or it would resolve by the end of the next chapter. Then the story would continue at a slower pace until it happens again.

Eventually, you reach a climax at the end where all the threads weave together. The last 25% of the book was fantastic and I can’t help but wish the excitement happened earlier in the novel to keep me interested.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

This book felt like a very extended prologue laying down the foundations for more exciting sequels and I’m curious to see where it goes from here.

My Rating: 3/5

Defy the Stars 3/5 | Book 2 TBP

overall

This is perfect for fans of the adventure story. I actually think this is the perfect bridging book for those who want to break out of dystopian novels and try science fiction.

Read if You Like: science fiction, world-building, adventure stories
Avoid if You: want lots of action
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Blog Tour: Duels and Deception by Cindy Anstey

Synopsis for Duels & Deception (from Goodreads):

Miss Lydia Whitfield, heiress to the family fortune, has her future entirely planned out. She will run the family estate until she marries the man of her late father’s choosing, and then she will spend the rest of her days as a devoted wife. Confident in those arrangements, Lydia has tasked her young law clerk, Mr. Robert Newton, to begin drawing up the marriage contracts. Everything is going according to plan.

Until Lydia—and Robert along with her—is kidnapped. Someone is after her fortune and won’t hesitate to destroy her reputation to get it. With Robert’s help, Lydia strives to keep her family’s good name intact and expose whoever is behind the devious plot. But as their investigation delves deeper and their affections for each other grow, Lydia starts to wonder whether her carefully planned future is in fact what she truly wants…

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Canadian Author, Must Read Author
Author: Cindy Anstey
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Romance, Regency
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: April 11, 2017
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon // Barnes & Noble // iBooks // Kobo

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thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

It’s no secret that I absolutely adored Cindy Anstey’s debut, Love, Lies and Spies. It had everything I love in a novel: wit, fun and a swoon-worthy romance. As soon as I finished, I had to know what else she had written and that’s why I’ve spent the better part of the last year awaiting Duels & Deception.

The Plot:

Anstey has such a talent for writing entertaining stories. Should a kidnapping scene have you laughing out loud? Not likely but Anstey manages to do it. That whole event was super entertaining and it made me wish it lasted longer.

However, I did find the momentum of the novel slowed a bit after the kidnapping chapters. The mystery of who is after Lydia is enticing but unfortunately, I had a pretty good idea of the culprit before the big reveal. What I didn’t guess who how everything was going to be resolved so that had a few good twists for me to read.

The Characters:

Lydia was everything you like in a historical fiction leading lady. She’s as sharp as a whip, a compassionate daughter and definitely independent. If she was real, she would be my best friend.

And starring opposite her is Robert, pretty much the ideal hero. Again, he’s super smart but he is also adorably sweet and caring. He isn’t some over the top hero and I loved how grounded he was.

The rest of the cast is quirky and entertaining and adds to the story’s fun and lighter tone.

The Romance:

SWOON! Talk about two leads who are perfect for each other! Not only did they compliment each other in every way but they also had fantastic banter. I loved every scene with these two in it.

My favourite part was watching these two slowing coming to the realization that they were falling in love. The slow burn romance was so on point!

My Rating: 4/5

overall
This is a perfect read for fans of historical romance who love quirky, witty characters and a romance that has you swooning from the start!

Read if You Like: regency reads, witty leads, slow burn
Avoid if You: dislike historical fiction
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Cindy Anstey

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

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

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

Author Links:

Website // Goodreads // Facebook // Twitter

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Series Review: Unknown by Wendy Higgins

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

Unknown Series

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Synopsis for Unknown (from Goodreads):

Amber Tate believes the worst thing she’ll suffer in life is dealing with the unrequited love she feels for her brother’s best friend, Rylen Fite. She also believes war is something unfortunate that happens places far, far away from her rural Nevada town. She’s wrong on both counts.

When an unknown organization meticulously bombs major cities in the United States and across the globe, a trickle-down effect spreads to remaining towns at an alarming speed—everything from food and water sources to technology and communications are compromised. Without leadership, the nation is split between paralysis and panic, but Amber isn’t one to hide or watch helplessly. She’s determined to put her nursing skills to use, despite the danger, even if it means working alongside the man she can never have.

In this first installment of NY Times bestselling author, Wendy Higgins’s debut New Adult series, a frighteningly realistic apocalyptic America is brought to life, entwined with searing romantic tension that will leave you eager for more.

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Series: Unknown
Author: Wendy Higgins
# of Books: 3 (Unknown, Unrest, Undone)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Non-Contemporary, Science Fiction, Post Apocalyptic, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single; Alternating (Undone)
Publication Date: August 2016 – December 2017
Source & Format: Read It and Review It–eARC  |  Thank you Wendy Higgins!

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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:

The Sweet Trilogy is one of my all time favourite fallen angel series. I loved the dark and dangerous world Higgins created. Although it was labeled as a YA series, it definitely had a more mature vibe to it that I adored. So I was pretty excited to see she was taking on the New Adult genre with this particular piece.

What I Liked:

–The Mystery–

Ok, I have no idea what the hell is happening here and I LOVE IT!

This is the good kind of WTF: the type that keeps you in the dark until that moment of the big reveal–but you still know what is actually happening to the characters around you. Meaning this novel isn’t confusing to read, it just leaves you waiting in anticipation for the “unknown”. Fantastic.

–Amber’s Family–

Because the first half of the book really focuses on establishing Amber and her family’s lives, you really, really get invested into these characters. I loved their family dynamic and their relationships.

–The Romance–

There is just the right amount of romance here in this book. But what I really liked was the suspense it brought. You know, a lot of the time the “forbidden” relationships between a girl and her brother’s BFF are terribly predictable. It’s obvious that they’ve secretly loved each other for years yada yada. Not so much the case here. So I really enjoyed watching everything unfold for this aspect.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Slower Pacing–

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I think I just had my own preconceived notions about what the actual plot of the story was going to be. I thought the aftermath of the bombings was going to be the main focus of the novel–and that isn’t totally the case. The bombings don’t happen until the 50% mark.

Instead this book takes its time by setting up Amber’s life and relationships–not the action packed novel I expected. However, as you can see from above, I rather enjoyed that part of the novel in the end. The pacing is still great and never lags so I wasn’t bored by this shift; I just wasn’t expecting it. I liked how invested I became in the characters and truthfully, I probably wouldn’t have been if we had just jumped right into the action.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

When we finally get to the action, this book was addicting to read. I have so many unanswered questions and theories that I can’t wait to uncover in the sequel. Is it here yet?

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–December 13, 2017– Book #2: Unrest

This started off pretty slow but I expected that given the ending of the last book. The first half is very much about survival and I found that it dragged a bit. It does provide great opportunity for character growth though and it’s interesting to see how these characters react when the world is literally falling to ruins around them.

The second half picks up though. The romances get a little more show time (finally! Though I adored the slow burn anticipation of it all). We also get some great plot development. While I had my guesses, a lot surprised me too. I found the whole situation fascinating and I was craving more. I like that this series always keeps me on my toes.

Can’t wait to see how it all wraps up!

–December 17, 2017– Book #3: Undone

This one fell a little flat for me for a few reasons.

Having the dual POVs helped immensely in terms of keeping the story moving. However, the lack of character development from either leads dampened the charm of the previous two novels where character growth takes center stage.

I was slightly disappointed by how easily everything wrapped up. I hate when things fall into place too easily which is what happened here. It’s a little odd in a way that that is the case given the extreme journey these characters have had until this point. Yet I felt like they never got tested as much in this novel. In one way, it’s nice to have such a solid conclusion to the characters and their stories; in another, I wish they had to fight a little more to reach it.

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My Rating: 3.5/5

Unknown 4/5 | Unrest 3/5 | Undone 3/5

overall

For those who enjoy stories that take their time and focus on the characters, check this out. It’s a nice alternative to all the contemporary NA reads out there. However, don’t expect a ton of action as each novel takes its time to build its momentum.

Read if You Like: slower stories, world-building, post-apocalypse
Avoid if You: dislike slow stories, want more romance

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Series Review: Players by Mackenzie Crowne

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 To Win Her Love (from Goodreads):
To win the game, they’ll have to risk losing their hearts…

When a bizarre child custody stipulation pits popular sports blogger Gracie Gable against football superstar Jake Malone, losing the battle for her twin nieces isn’t the only thing Gracie has to worry about. Forced to live for three months under the same roof as the sexy tight end, will she fall prey to his flirtatious pursuit? Or worse, will the skeletons in her closet destroy her chance for the love and family she so desperately wants?

Neglected by his parents as a boy, Jake doesn’t believe in happily ever after. Yet living with Gracie and the twins might be enough to change his mind—and his womanizing ways. But when the press unearths a scandal from Gracie’s past, will he lose the one woman he was ready to open his heart to?

breakdown

Series: Players Trilogy
Author: Mackenzie Crowne
# of Books: 3 (To Win Her Love, To Win Her Trust, To Win Her Heart)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Sports
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: August 2015 – April 2016
Source & Format: Own–eBook

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Disclaimer: I read To Win Her Love in its entirety but opted not to pick up the next 2 novels in the series. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I don’t recall how I found this series. I think Kobo had a sale and I saw the cover and decided to check it out. I adore stories where two people who initially dislike each other fall in love so that’s what drew me in. However, the premise of a custody battle sounded like a refreshing one I haven’t come across in a contemporary romance before.

Sure, the premise is a lot like the plot for the 2010 movie Life as we Know It where a single guy and girl find themselves the unexpected guardians of their best friends young baby. But the circumstances in this novel greatly differ and I liked the bigger sports spin this novel had.

photography kid romance lovely josh duhamel

What I Liked:

–The Premise–

Like I just said above, the premise was what really drew me to this novel. I thought it was a lot of fun even if it is a touch realistic. I mean why is the decision left to two 6 year old girls to decide who their guardian should be? I remember how wish-washy I was when I was 6 about what candy I wanted–a life altering decision like guardianship shouldn’t be left in a child’s hand even if I appreciate the sentiment.

But I liked that this story was about these two coming together to create a family and finding out what they want in life. They had some really cute moments with the kids that absolutely melted my heart.

–Gracie Knows Football–

I find the heroines in sports novels usually know nothing–or next to nothing–about the sport of their romantic interest. Every once in a while you’ll get a girl who is in touch with her sporty side and understands the world but it’s not a common occurrence. I loved that not only did Gracie understand football but that she actually works as a blogging analyst on football. Awesome.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Third Person POV–

When it comes to my romances, I prefer first person POVs. I just like getting that insight into a character by being directly in their head. I feel so far removed from characters when they are presented in third person. And while I appreciate the fact that it being third person keeps some of the secrets these characters have as secrets, I also found it hard to follow at times. I get a little out of practice with third person reads sometimes because I mostly read first person.

–Slow Moving Plot–

I would classify this romance as a slow burn romance for sure. And normally I don’t mind that because it gives these characters time to get to know each other in a more meaningful way besides sex. But here, I didn’t think that was the case. I wanted their connection to be elaborated on more, especially earlier in the novel when the plot focused more on setting up the circumstances of getting these two together. Which was rather slow in my opinion.

Will I Finish It?

While I enjoyed To Win Her Love, the next two stories don’t really interest me so it’s a pass.

Series Rating: 3/5

To Win Her Love 3/5 | To Win Her Trust N/A | To Win Her Heart N/A

overall

This is a cute story but I just wanted a little more from it.

Read if You Like: sports, family based stories, slow burn romance
Avoid if You: dislike third person stories, want erotica

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  • The Charlotte Chronicles by Jen Frederick (The Jackson Boys #1)
  • Game for Love by Bella Andre (Bad Boys of Football Trilogy #3)
  • Rush Me by Allison Parr (New York Leopards Series #1)

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