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Series Review: Cyclone by Courtney Milan

Series Review: Cyclone by Courtney Milan

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 Trade Me (from Goodreads):

Tina Chen just wants a degree and a job, so her parents never have to worry about making rent again. She has no time for Blake Reynolds, the sexy billionaire who stands to inherit Cyclone Technology. But when he makes an off-hand comment about what it means to be poor, she loses her cool and tells him he couldn’t last a month living her life.

To her shock, Blake offers her a trade: She’ll get his income, his house, his car. In exchange, he’ll work her hours and send money home to her family. No expectations; no future obligations.

But before long, they’re trading not just lives, but secrets, kisses, and heated nights together. No expectations might break Tina’s heart…but Blake’s secrets could ruin her life.

breakdown

Series: Cyclone
Author: Courtney Milan
# of Books: 2+ (Full Reading Order Here)

There are multiple novellas — see Reading Order.

Book Order: Direct Sequels & Connected
Complete?: No, Find Me is to be released
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: January 2015 – ongoing
Source & Format: Owned & Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I found Trade Me from a NA Recommendation Post by Sil at Dani Reviews Things. I was drawn to it for its premise of a fake romance but also because our heroine was Chinese and the emphasis on family.

I didn’t get around to it for years–which turned out to be an ok thing since Courtney Milan is notoriously known as a slow writer so the rest of the series has yet to be published–but I made it an addition to my Tackling the TBR Challenge for 2020.

The Reading Order:

Everything follows a chronological order of events so it is important to follow the publication order of the series even if some books focus on different people. Books #1, #2.5 and #3 focus on Tina and Blake with the other novels focusing on other characters we meet along the way.

What I Like:

–Character Diversity–

In December of 2019, there was a big uproar with the Romance Writers of America (RWA) and Courtney Milan was at the centre of it. There is a great article about the controversy here by the New York Times for those who missed it. The gist is, Milan called out another author on Twitter for her “racist mess” of a novel and how it personally offended her as a woman of Chinese descent.

One of the things I loved the most about this series is its inclusivity. You’ve got a lead of Chinese decent in Trade Me and a trans woman lead in Hold Me. And the best part is, she makes it all seem so natural—BECAUSE IT IS! I never once felt like she was putting these character traits in for shock and awe. Everything about these stories felt so organic.

–Very Character Focused Stories–

Yes, there is a romance in these novels but I think the larger focus is on the characters and navigating their lives. All the characters we meet go through some drastic growing pains in these novels and who we start the novel with isn’t who we end up with. So if you love character-focused stories, this is a great series for you!

What I Didn’t Like:

Hold Me (Book #2)–

I was really excited to read Maria’s story in Hold Me but I ended up DNFing it at 30%. There was just too much “hate” in the hate-to-love you aspect that I didn’t see how these two would ever rectify their differences. And even as someone with a BSc, their science banter was way too hard to follow for me.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m actually super invested in Blake’s dad’s story (you’ll understand once you read the books–I promise!) and that’s the one I’m going to be keeping my eyes out for!

Series Rating: 3/5

Trade Me 3.5/5 | Hold Me DNF | [Year of the Crocodile 3/5] | Find Me TBR |[What Lies Between You and Me TBR] | Keep Me TBR | Show Me TBR

overall

If you like stories that take their time to evolve and you enjoy books featuring a diverse cast of characters, this is a great NA romance series for you to try!

Read if You Like: diverse characters
Avoid if You: more erotica based romance

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Series Review: The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

Series Review: The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

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

book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Belles (from Goodreads):

Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orleans, Belles are revered, for they control beauty, and beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. In Orleans, the people are born gray, they are born damned, and only with the help of a Belle and her talents can they transform and be made beautiful.

But it’s not enough for Camellia to be just a Belle. She wants to be the favorite-the Belle chosen by the queen of Orleans to live in the royal palace, to tend to the royal family and their court, to be recognized as the most talented Belle in the land.

But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the favorite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that the very essence of her existence is a lie-that her powers are far greater, and could be more dangerous, than she ever imagined. And when the queen asks Camellia to risk her own life and help the ailing princess by using Belle powers in unintended ways, Camellia now faces an impossible decision.

With the future of Orléans and its people at stake, Camellia must decide—save herself and her sisters and the way of the Belles—or resuscitate the princess, risk her own life, and change the ways of her world forever.

breakdown

Series: The Belles
Author: Dhonielle Clayton
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book 3 to be published
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Fantasy, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: February 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I don’ t think you could really escape The Belles when it first came out. It seemed to be everywhere in the blogosphere and I could understand why. The concept was really neat and the cover is gorgeous.

My library had the audiobook version and so I marked it on my “wishlist” but it wasn’t until I read Clayton’s other cowritten novel, Tiny Pretty Things (and absolutely LOVED it!) that my interest in picking up this series spiked.

The Concept / The World:

Have you ever wondered what life was like for the people living in The Capitol of The Hunger Games? I feel like this book attempts to answer that question by highlighting the vanity of humanity and what we would do if we could alter our appearance with a single touch. The concept is fascinating and, like you often do in dystopian novels, taken to an extreme to highlight the flaws within.

There was a lot to like about the world itself. I like how layered the Belle system is. From the history of their role to how they are trained, you know that some serious thought was put into the process. The world has a cool modern vibe (like paparazzi, etc) but felt old at the same time with the way the kingdom is set up.

The Plot:

When I was reading The Belles, I felt like much didn’t happen in the first half. It was a lot of setting up for the future and going through the motions. We do get little clues here and there but nothing overly exciting happens. The latter half, when everything falls into place is much stronger and I’m really curious to see what happens next.

The Everlasting Rose builds on that momentum though and introduces a few more twists. However, I thought the ways things came together in the end was a little messy and rushed. The ending seemed a little lacklustre to me.

The Characters:

Honestly, I could take or leave Camellia as a lead. She doesn’t really standout to me as a lead and I thought she made some terrible decisions. To give her some credit, she does evolve in The Everlasting Rose somewhat. It was nice to see her assert some independence.

The other belles are very hard to read. Perhaps that is the by-product of them being raised to act and do certain things in society. Amber is a good example of that where she can’t seem to rebel against the ideals instilled within her from birth—and I totally get why that would be the case. But it also makes her seem sporadic in her actions and in turn, you can’t get a good read on her as a character.

But I liked how the villain was a true villain.

The Romance:

The romance in the first book gave me some unease right from the start so I was immediately thrown off. As things progress in the series, I think the reasons why become clear and the romance itself evolves for the better (and I really hope it stays that way but I doubt it).

My Audiobook Experience:

So for a story that takes place in “Orleans” I just assumed everything would be french-influenced, including the narration. It was a slightly off-putting to have a British accent for the narrator for Camellia. Otherwise, the narration was really well done!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Honestly, I don’t really know what to expect for the third book. I have ideas of what I want it to be given the way things wrap up at the end of Book #2 but I’m not sure.

Series Rating: 3/5

The Belles 3/5 | Everlasting Rose 3.5/5 | Book 3 TBA

overall

Great for fans of the classic YA dystopian novels though it does leave a little to be desired at times.

Read if You Like: dystopian fiction, unique concepts
Avoid if You: dislike dystopian fiction

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Fresh Fridays: Pretending Not to Love You (Hazel Pathway #1) by M S Larson

Fresh Fridays: Pretending Not to Love You (Hazel Pathway #1) by M S Larson

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:

Hazel Pathway Series

Other books planned to be in the series:
book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Pretending Not to Love You (from Goodreads):

Raine
It’s my first day at a new high school and I inadvertently become one of the most popular girls at Glass Hill High. The girls want to be my best friend, and the guys want to date me. The only guy I have eyes for is Alex Williams, but he’s determined to set me up with his best friend and star wide receiver, Chase.

Alex
I’ve been spurned by my ex-girlfriend. She dated me to get to my best friend, Chase, who most of the girls are in love with at Glass Hill High. Now I’m gun shy about dating any girl because I’m afraid they’d just want me to get to Chase. Raine is no exception. When she claps eyes on him on the first day of school, she’s going to fall madly in love, so it’s better that I protect my heart. I’m going to hook Raine up with Chase and pretend that I’m happy for the both of them. Only the more time I spend with her, I can’t help but fall deeply in love with her. And the situation is affecting my relationship with everyone around me, including Raine and Chase.

Will Alex let go of his past and pursue Raine?

breakdown

Series: Hazel Pathway
Author: M S Larson
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, more books are planned
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: April 2020 – ongoing
Source & Format: Author–eARC | Thank you M S Larson!

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I was asked if I wanted to read and review Pretending Not to Love You I thought the premise was super charming. I’m a sucker for “forbidden” love in whatever form it comes in so the idea of falling for your BFF’s (maybe) girlfriend had me intrigued.

What I Liked:

–Instant Chemistry–

I enjoyed the tension between Raine and Alex because it was so obvious they had instant chemistry from the moment they met but neither was sure what to do about it. I could really see why these two would fall for each other.

–Positive Parental Relationships–

I find we don’t see a lot of positive parental influences in YA so it always notable for me when I came across that.

Both Alex and Raine talked to their parents about their problems and feelings. And their parents were in positive, healthy relationships as well.

–Girls Supporting Girls–

While Raine does have a rival of sorts in Mary I liked that they were never overly petty about it. And Raine was great about helping out other girls to find their inner confidence in themselves.

What I Didn’t Like:

–A Little Too Much Dialogue–

The flow seemed to be dampened for me because there seemed to be an excess amount of dialogue. Don’t get me wrong: it was great to see these two talk things out, but most of the chapters were dialogue. More inner monologues or summary paragraphs would help keep things moving smoothly I think.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I am really excited for the next book! I liked the little hints we got here about what could happen next.

My Rating: 3.5/5

Pretending Not to Love You 3.5/5 | Want You to Love Me TBP | Book 3 TBP | Book 4 TBP

overall

I think with a little more polish (which will come with writing more books) this would be a fantastic read. I’m excited to see what will happen next in this series!

Read if You Like: sweet romances, first loves
Avoid if You: want a darker story, want more angst

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Fresh Fridays: The Best Mistake (Southern U O’Brien Brothers #1) by Cookie O’Gorman

Fresh Fridays: The Best Mistake (The O’Briens #1) by Cookie O’Gorman

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:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Best Mistake (from Goodreads):

Honor Tierney just wants one night with the playboy.

One hot, steamy, meaningless hookup, and then she’ll happily go back to reading her favorite books, studying to be an accountant and writing for the campus-paper-nobody-reads. Too bad she ends up in the wrong bed, with the wrong brother…who gives her the hottest night of her life.

Archer O’Brien just wants to play ball.

Well that, and for his brothers to stop acting out, so he won’t have to worry 24/7. As the oldest O’Brien and team captain, it’s his duty to make sure they don’t drink too much, party too much, or get in too much trouble. But when she walks into his bedroom—mistaking him for his brother—life throws him a curveball.

She’s determined to guard her heart. He’s not giving up.

And when Honor gets assigned to cover the Wolves baseball team, it’s game on.

This new adult sports romance features one hot (and hilarious) case of mistaken identity and a sexy set of brothers guaranteed to make you swoon.

Sometimes, the best mistakes are worth making.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: Southern U O’Brien Brothers
Author: Cookie O’Gorman
# of Books: 1+ (Reading Order Here)
Book Order: connected (?)
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Sports, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: April 23, 2020 — ongoing?
Source & Format: Author–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve been a big fan of Cookie’s work since I read her YA debut Adorkable a few years ago. She just writes really sweet, infectious romances with great characters all around. So when she made the leap to New Adult Sports Romances, I was SO on board!

What I Liked:

–Slow Burn Romance–

I loved the slow burn romance! From the start I was a fan of these two together. They just have great chemistry. I enjoyed watching them dance around each other for most of the book. Everyone but them seems to see their connection so it brought about some great character moments.

–Hot but Clean Romance–

I’m a sucker for a good steamy scene but sometimes it’s nice just to focus on the deeper connection between our two leads. I felt like these two got to know each other on a more personal level and not just because they have a great physical chemistry. You could see the other attributes that drew them to each other. But there are still plenty of steamy moments along the way to satisfy the reader!

–The O’Brien Siblings & Honor’s Roommates–

I’m all about seeing positive friendships and relationships between siblings in books. It’s great to see characters that love and support their friends and family. But it isn’t always sunshine either and I thought all the situations we encountered here were realistic and genuine.

What I Didn’t Like:

–One Dramatic Twist–

There is something that happens near the end of the story that was a little much for me. Sometimes novels omit certain pieces of logic in order to create drama and I think that is what happened here. Because part of the fallout from the scenario could have been avoided if some common sense had been applied. But it really was a minor thing so I’m letting it go.

Why I Really Want This to be a Series:

I can’t wait to spend more time with the O’Briens! Archer’s relationships with his siblings is great. And all the little seeds planted for future stories has me craving more!

My Rating: 4/5

overall

If you love sports romances or want a New Adult romance that focuses on great characters falling in love more so than the time spent between the sheets: this is a great read for you!

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

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Series Review: Masters of Love by Leisa Rayven

Series Review: Masters of Love by Leisa Rayven

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 Mister Romance (from Goodreads):

Max Riley is the man of your dreams. Or at least he will be, for a price.

As his alter-ego Mister Romance, Max is a drop-dead gorgeous escort who makes romantic fantasies come to life. No sex, just swoon-worthy dates to die for, and the cream of New York’s socialites can’t get enough. Whether they want a dominating billionaire, bad boy with a heart of gold, hot geek, sexy biker, or best friend who loves them from afar, Max can make it all happen, but he’s careful to keep his real identity a secret.

Enter investigative journalist Eden Tate. Having caught wind of the urban legend of Mister Romance from a lovestruck client, Eden is determined to publish a scathing expose on Max and his ability to swindle lonely society women out of their fortunes.

Desperate to protect his anonymity and his clients, Max challenges Eden to give him three dates. If she doesn’t fall in love with him, she can run her story with his blessing. If she succumbs to his charms, the story dies.

Cynical Eden has no doubt she can resist his fake romance personas, but when the real Max admits he’s falling for her, she has to decide if the professional liar is telling the truth, or if the passionate man with the mysterious past is just one more character designed to con her out of her career-making story.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: Masters of Love
Author: Leisa Rayven
# of Books: 3  (Full Reading Order)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No, Book 3 is to be published
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: April 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I ADORED Leisa Rayven’s Starcrossed Series. Honestly, no one does romantic angst better so I was eager to read her future works when I wrapped that series up.

The premise of Mister Romance reads like a rom-com so I was very excited to take on this book (which later became a book series!).

The Plot:

Like I said about, these stories read like your favourite rom-com movie. There’s just the great blend of drama, twists, character growth, swoon-worthy moments and fun. I found myself so enthralled by the story and the characters. But unlike your favourite rom-coms, they weren’t entirely predictable so that gave them this refreshing taste.

The Characters:

It’s almost common practice nowadays to have a romance novel told from dual POVs and as I reader, I have to say I often prefer that. I find with dual POVs I get a better understanding of all the characters and their motives because we get to see inside their mind.

But Leisa Rayven’s characters never suffer from a single POV story. Her characters are just so rounded and strong that I have a great grasp of who they are as people even if I don’t get their POV.

The Romance:

This is the type of series that makes you believe in soulmates. While the physical timeline of their stories might have been on the shorter side, I thought the characters were so well rounded and that I knew them so well that the romantic matches were perfect.

My Audiobook Experience:

So I actually own Mister Romance for my Kindle but because I really needed a great audiobook pick-me-up, I decided to listen to the audio version—and I’m so glad I did. Not only is it narrated by Andi Arndt (seriously, one of the best audiobook narrators out there) but it’s just a great story that unfolds like a rom-com.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m not sure who the third novel will be about. I kinda hope it’s Joanna but I’d be happy for Toby as well.

Series Rating: 4/5

Mister Romance 5/5 | Professor Feelgood 4/5 | Doctor Love TBP

overall

Once again, Leisa Rayven delivers a strong contemporary romance brimming with tension, great character growth and a dash of humour.

Read if You Like: rom-coms, single POV romances
Avoid if You: dislike contemporary romance

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Series Review: Pretty Smart Girls by Shae Ross

Series Review: Pretty Smart Girls by Shae Ross

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 Lace Up (from Goodreads):

Team Ryan
Ryan Rose and her fellow Spartans are finalists in a high-profile entrepreneurial competition. They’re competing for life-changing money and for their futures. They have a solid plan to win. All they need to do is trounce the competition: rich frat boys from an archrival university. Easy, right?

Team Jett
Jett Trebuchet’s first mistake was not realizing that Ryan and her friends were the competition. His second was expressing his unabashed confidence in his team’s ability to win. After all, everyone knows the only thing MSU does better than U of M is produce beautiful, easy women…oh, and he almost forgot to say “dumb.” And boy, does his team pay for that one.

Game On
As each side tries to game the other, something else seems to be getting in the way—attraction. Now Ryan and Jett must keep their teams from getting distracted by the opposite sex…and each other. All is not fair in love and war when it comes to winning this game.

breakdown

Series: Pretty Smart Girls

There is a standalone spin-off: Rush

Author: Shae Ross
# of Books: 2 (Lace Up, Fearless)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes? I’m not sure if there will be a book 3
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama, Humour
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: January 2015 – August 2015
Source & Format: Author–eBook (Read It Review It); Own–Kobo (Fearless)

disclaimer
I only received a review copy of Book #1 Lace Up

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Shae Ross offered my New Adult Group on Goodreads the opportunity to read her debut novel Lace Up around Christmas time in 2015. Way after I finished the book, I remembered seeing its sequel Fearless on NetGalley…boy, do I regret not grabbing that one when I had the chance!

The Concept:

The premise of Lace Up is what really grabbed my attention. I loved the idea that these these two teams would be competing against each other and the sparks would be flying in more than one way. And it definitely lived up to that.

I thought their attempts to sabotage were a lot of fun and funny. It made the book light-hearted yet it didn’t shy away from the more serious aspects of the characters and their lives. It was a great balance and made the book very enjoyable to read.

Fearless has a completed different vibe to it (though the playful tension between the two groups is still there). It’s more of your typical New Adult romance read though it does bring up some new themes often shied away from.

The Plot:

I thought the plot balanced very well between the competition in Lace Up (#1), the romance and the character development. It was serious when it needed to be yet it had its fun moments. I liked that there were multiple things happening. Of course you have the competition but there are other dramatic elements at play. From past relationships to family drama to current relationships: there are a lot of things to keep you interested.

Fearless was very different. It’s more of your coming of age story with a romance between two people who have an undeniable connection but can’t seem to make it work because life gets in the way. I loved some of the challenges the couple faces but I feel like they weren’t as developed as I wanted them to be and they often got overshadowed by dramatic antics that dampened the realistic, genuine vibes the story was otherwise broadcasting.

The Characters:

Everyone has great development throughout the story but Ryan and Jett especially in Lace Up. I liked how Ryan presented herself and didn’t hold back. She didn’t need a man to complete her and while I suppose she was a little “man-hating” at the start, I think given the circumstances I can cut her some slack. Jett had even better character growth I think and I really enjoyed that. While Lace Up mostly focuses on Ryan and Jett, you get enough of the other characters to make you eager to read the sequel book.

All the characters are layered here and that’s even more true in the sequel.

The Romance:

The romance happens fast in Lace Up given that the competition takes place in a week. However, I thought Jett and Ryan were a great match. They complimented each other beautifully; as do the other characters. It makes the romance all the more sweeter.

Series Rating: 4/5

Lace Up 4/5 | Fearless 3.5/5

overall

If you enjoy high antics and perfect romantic matches, this is a great series! Also, who doesn’t love pretty smart girls? They rule the world!

Read if You Like: new adult romance, dramatics
Avoid if You: don’t like over dramatics, fast romances

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Spin-Off Saturdays: Preston Brothers by Jay McLean

Spin-Off Saturdays: Preston Brothers by Jay McLean

Spin-off Saturdays: On Saturdays, I will review a series that is a spin-off series. It is recommended that you read the original series first in order to get the most out of the spin-off series. Here is this week’s offering:

The Preston Brothers Series is a spin-off of the More Than Series

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: Preston Brothers

This is a spinoff of the More Than Series.

Author: Jay McLean
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order)
Book Order: Connected but Chronological Events
Complete?: Unsure
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama, Coming of Age
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: November 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: RIRI–eARC (#1); KU (#2); Author–eARC (#3)

Note: Copies provided for Logan (#1) and Leo (#3)

warning
WARNING: If you have not finished the original series, this review may have spoilers!

thoughts

**This post was originally published as a Series Review of the first few of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

My Expectations?

I was super excited to return to the world of the More Than Series. I loved all the characters in this world, but Lucy’s brothers always stole the show whenever they made an appearance. So to see what would happen to this rambunctious group of boys when they got older was a treat I never expected but was very happy to get.

How Does It Compare To The Original?

One of the things I loved the most about the original series was its ability to transform the story into something you never expected. You read the synopsis and see what the trope will be and you expect the typical generic features. But Jay McLean has this great ability to write new and refreshing romances. Her stories are never straightforward or expected. She isn’t afraid to challenge her characters or make them experience life-altering situations in their stories.

And every aspect benefits from that. The characters become stronger. The romance becomes so much deeper. The plot elicits every emotion from you. It’s just an addicting and rewarding experience for a reader.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

I thought Logan lagged a touch in the middle but I never got bored with it. It was just as addicting as the first book.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I really hope we get more sequels–I mean there are more brothers. Yet every book we get in this spin-off series is such a treat so I can be happy with what we’ve had so far.

updates

–August 11, 2020– Book #3: Leo

I’ve been (im)patiently waiting for the announcement of Leo’s book ever since this series was announced. He’s such an enigma of a character yet he has been so vital to all the other brothers’ stories that I couldn’t wait to get inside his head. I had no idea what to expect but I knew it was going to be one heck of an emotional roller coaster ride!

My full (spoiler free) review of Leo here!

Series Rating: 5/5

Lucas 5/5 | Logan 4.5/5 | Leo 4/5

overall

Be prepared to feel all the feels! No one writes New Adult novels like Jay McLean!

Read if You Like: drama, emotional reads
Avoid if You: dislike high school based New Adult romances

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for Lucas (from Goodreads):

In a sprint, every millisecond counts.
When you’re waiting for love, those milliseconds can feel like eons.

High school senior Lucas Preston has it all: star of the track team, a scholarship waiting for him, an apartment to himself and a revolving door of girlfriends. He also has an older sister, five younger brothers and a father who relies on him to make sure those brothers don’t kill each other.
His saving grace? Lois “Laney” Sanders, a girl he started to fall in like with when he was just eleven.
A girl who became his best friend, his confidant, his courage.

It took only sixteen clicks and eight seconds for Lucas to realize that his like for Laney had turned into love.
Eight life-changing seconds.
It’s also the exact length of time it took to lose her.

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Series Review: Modern Love by Piper Lawson

Series Review: Modern Love by Piper Lawson

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

Modern Love Series

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Easy Love (from Goodreads):

How 20-Somethings Find Love in New York:
1. Meet for tapas.
2. Pretend you care more about his day than your career circling the drain.
3. Stumble to your place. Kick him out before he trips on dirty laundry. (Literal or figurative.)

It’s easy. That’s how I like it.

Before you crown me the least romantic person in Manhattan, meet my competition.

Dr. Wesley Robinson.

Keen blue eyes and fell-out-of-bed hair. Unhealthy obsession with 80s movies. Drier than a gin martini. Drive that makes Tony Robbins look like a slacker.

Yep. The hot genius I’m helping sell his DNA dating app has a plan:

Scale the highest peak of Mount Nerd. Then ride off with his genetic Cinderella.

I shouldn’t fall for him.

Even if Wes kisses like there’s something dirty under that pressed shirt.

Even if he opens me up like no man has.

Even if guarding my heart’s getting harder each day.

Because New York isn’t Wes’s mountain. I’m not his princess…

And nothing this easy can last.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author, Canadian Author
Series: Modern Love

Set in the same universe as the Wicked Trilogy

Author: Piper Lawson
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Unsure
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: April 10, 2019 – ongoing
Source & Format: Author–eARC | Thank you Piper Lawson!

thoughts

**This post was originally published 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:

Piper Lawson writes some of my favourite New Adult romances out there. She just has this great ability to write strong characters (especially her heroines) that also have vulnerability. I just find her stories are so genuine and realistic even if there is some drama along the way.

What I Liked:

–Realistic Slow Burn Romance–

I loved how this romance built and took its time. Yes, these two have instant chemistry but those deeper feelings grow as the characters spend more time with each other and get to know each other. It was easy to see why they would fall for each other…even if they didn’t think so. Their banter and interacts are a highlight of the novel. It was nice to see characters sorta date and fall in love; lots of books just dive in head first!

–Everyday Obstacles–

I think the thing I loved most about this story was the reliability of our two leads. The problems they encounter at work and in their personal lives with connect with the reader. And it really allows for some stellar character growth from start to finish.

What I Didn’t Like:

–A Little Rushed at the End–

I would have liked some of the stuff at the end to be teased out a little. It made the character development seem a little lopsided because so much happens in the last few chapters.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m not sure what or who the next novel will be about but you bet I’m sticking around to find out!

updates

–October 1, 2019– Book #2: Bad Love

Yet another great, modern romance! I thought the premise was a lot of fun and perhaps a little cheeky but it brings out this interesting aspect to the story about women and becoming comfortable in their own skin when it comes to their sexual desires and independence.

These two had great chemistry from the start but they also had amazing communication which is key. I loved watching their banter and how they had something deeper to their relationship than just attraction. It helped to evolve them as characters as they openly discussed their fears and weaknesses; but it also highlighted their strengths and emphasized why they make such a great couple.

Compared to the first novel, I thought this one was a little slow to get off the ground. The first quarter or so seemed stall but I thought the ending was much stronger here. It didn’t feel so rushed and everything that needed to be fleshed out was.

–November 5, 2020– Book #3: Twisted Love

I’ve been in a MAJOR reading slump and I think that heavily influenced my rating of this book.

I enjoy friends to lovers stories and the fact that the fake relationship trope is at play here is a bonus. However, I struggled a bit with the chemistry at the start. It’s been a while since I read the other books in the series so I can’t remember how often these two made an appearance; but I felt a little bit like I was in the dark at the start. As if I was supposed to know these two already and the origins of their relationship. It just took me a while to get into their connection and chemistry because they were almost too good at being platonic. So much so that I almost wished that they did stay platonic just to prove that men and women can be friends without romance getting in the way.

But in the same breath, I appreciated the slow burn thing they had going on. I think some of the best friends-to-more stories show the characters building and evolving that relationship to the next level. And that’s the case here. They start to see that person as attractive physically and emotionally as well.

My Rating: 4/5

Easy Love 4/5 | Bad Love 4/5 | Twisted Love 3/5

overall

With a great flow, genuine characters you can’t help but like and a realistic, modern approach to romance, this is a MUST for contemporary romance fans!

Read if You Like: contemporary romances, slow burn
Avoid if You: want erotica, dislike contemporary romances

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Series Review: Outer Banks Tennis Academy by Jennifer Iacopelli

Series Review: Outer Banks Tennis Academy by Jennifer Iacopelli

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

book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Game. Set. Match. (from Goodreads):

Nestled along the North Carolina coast, the Outer Banks Tennis Academy is the world’s most elite training facility. In this pressure-cooker environment, futures are forged in blood and sweat, and dreams are shattered in an instant.

Penny Harrison, a rising female star, is determined to win the French Open and beat her archrival, Zina Lutrova. But when her coach imports British bad boy Alex Russell as her new training partner, will Penny be able to keep her laser-like focus?

Tennis is all Jasmine Randazzo has ever known. The daughter of two Grand Slam champions, she’s hell-bent on extending her family’s legacy and writing her own happily-ever-after…until her chosen Prince Charming gives her the just-friends speech, right before the biggest junior tournament of the year, the Outer Banks Classic.

With a powerful serve and killer forehand, newcomer Indiana Gaffney is turning heads. She’s thrilled by all of the attention, especially from Jack Harrison, Penny’s agent and hot older brother, except he keeps backing off every time things start heating up.

With so much at stake, dreams—and hearts—are bound to break.

breakdown

Series: Outer Banks Tennis Academy
Author: Jennifer Iacopelli
# of Books: 3 (Full Series Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Sports, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: warm *spicy YA*
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: May 2013 – ongoing
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I was a tween, there was this Canadian TV drama called 15/Love that was set at a tennis academy and followed teenage tennis up-and-comers. It wasn’t the greatest show ever (in terms of acting) but I did get addicted to the drama of relationships and athletics.

I’m not entirely sure how this one crossed my radar but I liked the athletic approach. I also liked that it would be told by multiple leads because I find I enjoy contemporaries more when told that way.

The Concept / The World:

I’ll be the first to say that I’m not overly familiar with the tennis world. While I understand the game of tennis, I’m pretty clueless about how one becomes a professional tennis star. I was a little worried that I would get lost in that aspect of the story but that was never the case. Everything is kept to the basics or explained in a way that the reader will immediately understand so don’t let that deter you.

The Plot:

The synopsis gives the impression that this series is all about the romances but there is a strong focus on character development as well once you start reading. I thought there was a great balance in this respect and was pleasantly surprised that the character growth is so prevalent. More on that below.

Add to that some drama and some high stake situations and I was completely addicted to the story. It moves at a great pace and you can’t help but want to keep reading!

The Characters:

Usually I am a fan of multiple POVs because it pretty much guarantees that I will enjoy at least one character’s POV. (This does fail sometimes: City Love is a great example). HOWEVER, that wasn’t the case here at all!

That doesn’t mean I immediately loved all the leads though. This is where character development and growth truly enhanced the reading experience. As you learned more about the girls and their pasts, you are able to understand why they act the way they do. I don’t mind angsty characters so long as it is “justified” (meaning explained) to me while I read. Even better is that you get to see them change as a result and I really enjoyed that aspect. This is very much a character driven series.

The Romance:

Definitely a highlight for me! I really liked all the pairings for the girls and the resulting drama and character growth that comes from these relationships!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I really hope the third book gets published. While things are wrapped up at the end of Losing Love, it didn’t feel complete to me at all. So I’m eager to get the closing chapters on these girls’ stories.

Series Rating: 4/5

Game. Set. Match. 4/5 | Losing at Love 4/5 | Book 3 TBA

overall

This is a great contemporary sports read for those who want a somewhat lighter tone to their read but still has solid character growth and swoon worthy romance.

Read if You Like: sport stories, tennis, contemporary
Avoid if You: dislike multiple POVs
similarreads

  • For Everly by Raine Thomas
  • Catching Jordan by Miranda Kinneally (Hundred Oaks Series #1)

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Blog Tour: Between the Sea and Stars (Lena #1) by Chantal Gadoury

Synopsis for Between the Sea and Stars (from Goodreads):

A Legend,
A Magical Shell
A Girl Who Dreamed Of Something More…

Lena, a Merrow girl, lives in the Skagerrak sea with her father, Carrick and her brother, Javelin who tells her of the legend of the Merrow Queen murdered by her human lover when greed takes over. But what’s worth spilling the queen’s blood? Gifted from Poseidon, himself, a magic shell gives any human the ability to control both land and sea.

When Javelin is called to join a clan of Merrow soldiers bent on protecting their waters from human invasion, Lena resists Merrow law and ventures to the shore with no choice but to swim to land.

With newfound legs, Lena is whisked away on a new adventure with new friends and new trouble. Everyone seems to want something from her as intrigue lurks around every corner.

Trying her best to hide who she is and remain safe from the dangers of the human world, will Lena finally find where she belongs, or will she be swept into a strong and stormy current by lust, greed, and jealousy?

Other books in the series:

breakdown

Series: Lena
Author: Chantal Gadoury
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book 2 to be released
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure, Coming of Age, Romance
Heat Rating: Cool
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Date: June 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Audiobookworm–Audiobook via Audible (6hrs & 53mins)

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon / Audible

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I read Chantal’s novel The Songs in Our Hearts a few years ago and really enjoyed it (it was super cute!). So when I saw that there was an opportunity to read a non-contemporary (MERMAIDS!!!!) novel by her, I couldn’t wait to see what she could do in a different genre.

What I Liked:

–The Romance–

This surprised me in a really good way. I thought I had a good idea of where the romance would be going early on but I was so dead wrong. I love when that happens!

It isn’t a huge focus but it’s there enough to keep the story going when it needs too.

–Lena’s Character Growth–

Lena’s character story is literally one of “fish out of the water” but it provides an interesting backdrop to her character growth and development. This is very much a coming of age story for her except she has the added complications of being a mermaid now on land. I enjoyed her evolution from naive mermaid to independent young lady.

What I Didn’t Like:

–More Drama–

Like most coming of age stories, I find you kinda go through the everyday motions of life so it can become a little monotonous. But let me be clear that I never got bored with this story! It has a great flow to it and you get these little inklings of the bigger story to come along the way so it builds as you read. What I’m trying to say is that I wish the “whoa!” moment came a touch earlier so we could get into it a little more…but I guess that’s what sequels are for 😉

My Audiobook Experience:

This was such a fabulous audio listen! Right when it started to play I was fully immersed into the story and the characters. The narrator here is Dollcie Webb and she does a great job of giving all the characters their own voices so it is super easy to follow along. She has the perfect cadence for an audiobook narrator–seriously, it was such a nice read to listen to that I was finished the novel before I knew it!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

This book had a few surprises at that end that has me eager to see what will happen next!

My Rating: 3.5/5

Between the Sea and Stars 3.5/5 | Book 2 TBP

overall
If you love mermaids or want a different twist to your usual coming of age stories, pick this up!

Read if You Like: mermaids, coming of age
Avoid if You: want action

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Chantal Gadoury

Amazon Bestselling Author, Chantal Gadoury, is a 2011 graduate from Susquehanna University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing. Since graduation, she has published The Songs in Our Hearts, and The Songs We Remember, with 48Fourteen Publishing. Allerleirauh, Between the Sea and Stars, Blinding Night and WinterDream with the Parliament House Press. Chantal first started writing stories at the age of seven and continues with that love of writing today. For Chantal, writing novels has become a lifelong dream come true! When she’s not typing away at her next project, she enjoys painting, drinking lots of Iced Coffee, and watching Disney Classics. Chantal lives in Muncy, Pennsylvania with her Mom, sister and furry-‘brother’ Taran.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon | Instagram | Pintrest

 

Dollcie Webb (Narrator)

“Daydreams and whimsy with with a touch of pixie charm.”

A long-time daydreamer, Dollcie Webb has always carried a special fondness for Young Adult Fantasy literature. The poetic imagery and enticing otherworldliness call to her sense of curiosity, satisfying a deep desire to explore the world around her. A graduate of Michigan Technological University with a Bachelor’s in Theatre and Electronic Media Performance, she’s taken her experience in audio and theatrical performance and has melded the two into a career as an audiobook producer and narrator.

Narrator Links: Website | Facebook | Instagram

 

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