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Single Sundays: Only Between Us by Mila Ferrera

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 Only Between Us (from Goodreads):

Last semester, Romy escaped from an abusive relationship with the guy she’d thought was the man of her dreams. This semester she’s putting herself back together, determined to reclaim her passion for art and for life. When she signs up for a painting class at the local art co-op, the possibility of passion becomes very real — in the form of her teacher, Caleb. Both mysterious and seriously hot, Caleb bares his soul on his canvases, and Romy’s fascinated by what she sees.

Caleb is just trying to keep his head above water. Caring for his traumatized, unstable sister is getting harder every day, and his paintings are so dark and bleak that no one is buying. Teaching classes at the co-op is no longer enough, and now he’s going to have to sell more than just his art to the wealthy, sex-starved women in his classes. But when Romy comes along, she makes everything more complicated. She sees the truth in his paintings — a truth no one else has realized, until now.

Romy and Caleb might have a real shot together — one that could heal them both. But when ghosts from their pasts re-emerge, determined to keep them apart, will they be strong enough to hold on to each other?

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author

This novel has a spin-off: Everything Between Us

Author: Mila Ferrera
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Dark, Mental Health
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: September 3, 2013
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

So I actually read the spin-off novel, Everything Between Us before I ever heard of this one. But after loving that novel and getting a quick glimpse at Romy and Caleb, I immediately bought this book so I could get the full story.

The Concept:

This is my third Mila Ferrera novel and I can say with total confidence that she is one of the best writers out there when it comes to mental health in contemporary romances. Not only does she seamlessly interweave that aspect into the story but she also manages to do so in a genuinely realistic way that captures my full attention. Yes, sometimes that means we go to the darker side of things but I never feel like she is doing is for simply the shock factor. Rather she is humanizing her characters by sharing their struggles, ups and downs and fighting that stigma we have surrounding mental health.

The Plot:

I hadn’t been having the greatest luck with novels when I picked this one up but this one reminded me what I love about the New Adult genre. We had strong, developed and complex characters; a solid plot line and a passionate romance to top everything off.

There’s enough drama and obstacles to keep the story fresh and moving while contributing in a strong way to the character development.

The Characters:

I loved both of these leads so much! The focus shifts from Romy to Caleb when it needs to and that keeps the story moving. But both of these characters have their flaws and their strengths and it just contributes in a great way to their stories.

The Romance:

In some ways, this story is a slow burn romance because they take their time to get to know each other. But the spark is there from the start and it heats up in a way that will suck you in.

My Rating: 5/5

overall

Mila Ferrera never fails to impress. I love the way she handles mental illness in her novels. It’s so raw, genuine and powerful.

Read if You Like: mental health, romance, darker stories
Avoid if You: want erotica, dislike sensitive conversations, want a light read
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Novella Serial Review: Secrets by Ella Steele (aka H M Ward)

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 Secrets (from Goodreads):
Sex is supposed to be sexy, tantalizing, and completely erotic, but Anna never seems to find the right guy. This one seems to be a germ-a-phobe, and the previous boyfriend wasn’t much better. Anna just wants to be wanted. Is that too much to ask?

As Anna tries to wiggle out of one relationship, a new one surfaces, but it’s forbidden. Cole Stevens is twice her age, arrogant, rich, sexy as hell, and her boss. When Anna’s internship plans derail, she ends up interning at Cole’s elite New York City studio. Close proximity leads Anna to discover that the billionaire bachelor is emotionally scarred. Everyone has secrets, but Cole’s run deeper, cutting him to his core. Cole is trouble in a sexy shell. He’s nothing Anna needs and everything she wants.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Serial Author
Series: Secrets
Author: Ella Steele (aka H M Ward)
# of Parts: 5
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: really warm to hot (Kink: mild)
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: August 2012 – December 2012
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Despite not finishing them, I’ve really enjoyed H M Wards previous serialized stories, like the Ferro Family ones and Trystan Scott and while I was enjoying them, I picked up her 5 part series Secrets. This was YEARS ago and I only managed to read this series now thanks to my Rock myTBR challenge. This was one of the lucky ones to be pulled for the month of January.

I liked the forbidden teacher-student romance that Damaged had and I knew that Ward would write another strong one with this series. I was excited to delve into it–especially when it was only 5 complete parts and no more than that…

The Concept:

In Part 1, I was really confused as to why Anna felt like she had to botch the interview with Cole when it seemed like she had a sure thing at the other agency that she wanted. I’m sure I just missed that one key line that explained the internship process but it threw me for a loop and prevented me from getting into the story initially.

The Plot:

I felt like the story was very predictable. While I couldn’t predict all the events of the book specifically, I had the general gist very early on in the series so I was never really surprised by anything.

The Characters:

I admit that I wasn’t completely sold on Anna as a character when we first met her. Her whole reason for botching the interview with Cole seemed bizarre to me. Perhaps I missed something in the book, but I didn’t understand why she had to sabotage her interview with him if she was for sure going to get the job at the place she wanted. It just seemed to contradict who she was as a strong intelligent woman. And I don’t think she ever recovered from that for me either though I appreciated that she didn’t become some buffoon who couldn’t live without Cole.

Cole was alright as a hero. I liked that he wasn’t overbearing or too much of an alpha. He seemed like a genuine guy so I appreciate that.

The Romance:

What I initially enjoyed about the Part 1 was that it wasn’t an insta-love connection between Cole and Anna. Oh, there were buckets of sexual tension which was great but I liked that nothing happens too fast. Unfortunately, the nature of a serial means that it can’t last forever at that pace. While I liked the two together, I just wanted to see a little more of why they liked each other besides physical attraction. It becomes a little more apparent later on to a certain extent but I didn’t like the first jump.

Series Rating: 3/5

Part 1 3/5 | Part 2 3.5/5 | Part 3 3/5 | Part 4 3/5 | Part 5 3/5

overall

This book reminded me of a subdued version of Fifty Shades of Grey but much more predictable. I was really let down by this one but if you enjoy soap opera-esque drama, you will probably like this one!

Read if You Like: soap operas, forbidden love
Avoid if You: don’t like predictable plots

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Series Review: Welcome to the Point by Jay Crownover

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

Better When He’s Bad by Jay Crownover | Welcome to the Point Series

 

Series: Welcome to the Point Series

The last 3 books to be published will be under the The Breaking Point series title.

Author: Jay Crownover
# of Books: 3 (Better When He’s Bad, Better When He’s Bold, Better When He’s Brave)
Book Order: Connected but chronological
Complete?: Yes — the next 3 books are with a different set of characters
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Bad Boys, Crime, Suspense
Heat Rating: Getting Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating

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.**

So, I jumped on the Marked Men bandwagon a little late–and now that I have read them, I agree that they are not to be missed. From just that series alone, I have easily decided that Jay Crownover is an author to watch because I love her writing, her characters & their stories plus I absolutely love that she writes introductions where she explains why she wrote plots/characters/etc the way she did. That is something I truly appreciate in an author and something that not a lot of authors do–so kudos!

Take for example the author’s introduction to Better When He’s Bad: I love how she explains the “difference between a bad boy and a boy who’s bad.” When you see it written like that you go, “well duh,” but I think it is something that readers often overlook. I know I certainly do because I totally have the tag “bad boys” for my Marked Men review when they aren’t really “bad boys” other than the fact that they are a tad rebellious and have tattoos. Maybe I’m just blowing something out of proportion but I thought it was pretty insightful when all was said and done 😛

Better When He’s Bad is more of a light crime novel with a dash of romance than it is a romance novel with suspenseful elements. While the romance gets adequate screen time, the plot (especially the first third of the book) focuses on finding out the truth of the situation the two find themselves in. So if you are hoping for a steamy romance novel with little plot, I would look elsewhere; because there is lots of steam but it isn’t a book with only steam and a small plot line. The balance is really well done I think and it made the romance have more substance to it.

This series isn’t a super dark one like some crime/criminal focused novels are which is rather refreshing to me. If you want the really dark side of criminal activity I suggest the Gypsy Brother Serial instead. But if you like reading about boys who aren’t afraid to throw punches and get their knuckles a little dirty yet still have chivalry, this is looks like the series for you!

I’m really excited to read the next two books based on this one. I think we have an interesting set of characters at play and I can’t wait to see what trouble they get into next!

updates

–February 21, 2015– Book #2: Better When He’s Bold

Because I put my hold on Better When He’s Bold ASAP at my library, I got the brand new copy in my hands a few days after it’s release date–and I’m so glad I did!

It was a great sequel and was everything I thought it would be. I would say the romance happens a lot more quickly than in “Bad” because the characters have met before. However, I still felt like the romance balanced well with the suspenseful plot-lines.

I think I enjoyed the story more in the first book because it was more mysterious to me and had a few more twists. But this story was just as exciting and I really didn’t figure everything out until I was supposed to so I really didn’t mind. It set up everything perfectly for the next book and I can’t wait until I can read Better When He’s Brave!

–October 15, 2015– Book #3: Better When He’s Brave

I was really excited to read this one and it didn’t disappoint. I found myself absorbed in this story because I enjoyed these two leads as characters. They were a good match and I really wanted them to succeed. This book reminded me a lot of Sin City–in the sense that it’s a darker, true grit feel to it. I think Jay Crownover does a good job with her introduction to get you to understand what she wants you to get out of this book. It’s a bit of a fantasy in the sense that things are over the top but it is still highly entertaining and somewhat realistic. It works the stereotypes and expectations really well.

Overall, a great way to wrap up this triplet of stories. I’m SUPER excited for the next 3 books that will be published under The Breaking Point Trilogy title.

Series Rating: 4/5

Better When He’s Bad 3.5/5 | Better When He’s Bold 4/5 | Better When He’s Brave 4/5

overall

As I said before, if you like true bad boys that are chivalrous towards women, this is probably the series for you. A great blend of suspense, crime and romance. It’s darker and more “fantasy” based than the Marked Men series but it has all the aspects of a great Jay Crownover novel.

Read if You Like: bad boys, romantic suspense
Avoid if You: don’t like books with crime/drugs; don’t like books with killing

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Synopsis for Better When He’s Bad (from Goodreads):
Welcome to the Point

There’s a difference between a bad boy and a boy who’s bad . . . meet Shane Baxter.

Sexy, dark, and dangerous, Bax isn’t just from the wrong side of the tracks, he is the wrong side of the tracks. A criminal, a thug, and a brawler, he’s the master of bad choices, until one such choice landed him in prison for five years. Now Bax is out and looking for answers, and he doesn’t care what he has to do or who he has to hurt to get them. But there’s a new player in the game, and she’s much too innocent, much too soft…and standing directly in his way.

Dovie Pryce knows all about living a hard life and the tough choices that come with it. She’s always tried to be good, tried to help others, and tried not to let the darkness pull her down. But the streets are fighting back, things have gone from bad to worse, and the only person who can help her is the scariest, sexiest, most complicated ex-con The Point has ever produced.

Bax terrifies her, but it doesn’t take Dovie long to realize that some boys are just better when they’re bad.

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Series Review: Ruin by Rachel Van Dyken

SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Favourite Reads of 2014, Must Watch For Author
Series: Ruin Trilogy
Author: Rachel Van Dyken
# of Books: 3 (Ruin, Toxic, Shame)

There is a novella that is a continuation of Ruin BUT takes place after Toxic called Fearless.

Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Drama, College
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating

Thoughts:

Ruin was one of those books that was everywhere for me. Kobo had been recommending it for months and my friends on Goodreads had all given it super high ratings (I’m talking 5/5). Rachel Van Dyken is also an author that pops on numerous New Adult lists so I figured it was about time I read one of her books.

So I picked up Ruin on one of my mass Kobo book-runs and got to reading it a few days later. And finished it in a day–it was that fantastic!

What makes it fantastic is the great blend of romance, characters and plot. Nothing was overdone or underdone, it was just well done. I was worried that the romance between Wes and Kiersten would be rushed or happen too quickly but it wasn’t. Both seemed to understand what was happening but took their time and had good heads about them. It was hard not to like them really and they suited each other beautifully. I also really liked the rest of the characters so added bonus!

The plot wasn’t totally original to me as it reminded me a lot of A Walk to Remember (though I’ve only ever seen the movie) BUT the characters really do make a big distinction between the two novels so it didn’t bother me that much. It was super cute and I totally cried reading it 😛

As soon as I finished Ruin, I needed to read Toxic and get Gabe’s story. From the bits and pieces we get of Gabe in Toxic I wanted to know more about him and I thought I had a good idea of where the story was going to go. BUT, I was completely wrong. Toxic was different from Ruin in a lot of way but it still had that great blend of romance, plot and feelings its predecessor had. One thing that really separated the two was the mysterious and twisting plotRuin was a lot more straight forward in its delivery but I really had no idea where Toxic was going and when I thought I did, something else would happen. Simply a great follow up novel.

Fearless is basically an extended epilogue of Ruin but has little hints about what to expect in Shame. It was a little over the top for me at times but I enjoyed it and I would say it is worth the time to read.

updates

–January 16, 2016– Book #3: Shame

This book definitely got shafted to the back-burner for me. I totally forgot about it until I pulled it for my Rock my TBR challenge this year. I think reading it closer to the other books would have helped me enjoy it more but I can’t say that for sure.

I just couldn’t stay into this book and found myself getting bored with it. It started promising but things just happened too fast and I didn’t like its flow. It was predictable and slightly over the top; not what I was expecting for Lisa’s story. The logic and rational for the plot escaped me and took me away from enjoying the story. Even the romance was lacklustre and one that I had a hard time seeing besides physical attraction. For me, it just wasn’t a great way to end the series.

Series Rating: 4/5

Ruin 5/5 | Toxic 4/5 | Shame 3/5

overall

Overall, these novels are great! The romance is swoon-worthy but also realistic (even in Shame  to a certain extent) and grounding. This series makes you appreciate life and your loved ones and these characters will probably make you cry. Highly recommended for New Adult fans!

Read if You Like: romances, New Adult, tragic backstories
Avoid if You: dislike somewhat over the top drama

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Synopsis for Ruin (from Goodreads):
I’m not your typical girl. I’ve been running away from the memories that haunt me for so long that depression has become my only comfort. I was content in the darkness…until Wes Michals offered to be my light.

I didn’t know that time wasn’t my ally — that every second that ticked past was one step closer to the end of something that was beginning to mean the end of myself. He tried to warn me. He promised me all he was able to offer–each moment as it came–but it would never be enough.

Sometimes when you think it’s the end, it’s only the beginning. Wes thought he could save me, but in giving me everything, he ruined me. Because after one kiss, one touch, I couldn’t–I wouldn’t ever be the same.

And from that moment on, his heartbeat became my own.

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