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Series Review: Dance Off by Alexis Daria

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

Dance Off

 

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Take the Lead (from Goodreads):

Gina Morales wants to win. It’s her fifth season on The Dance Off, a top-rated network TV celebrity dance competition, and she’s never even made it to the finals. When she meets her latest partner, she sees her chance. He’s handsome, rippling with muscles, and he stars on the popular Alaskan wilderness reality show Living Wild. With his sexy physique and name recognition, she thinks he’s her ticket to the finals—until she realizes they’re being set up.

Stone Nielson hates Los Angeles, he hates reality TV, and he hates that fact that he had to join the cast of the The Dance Off because of family obligations. He can’t wait to get back to Alaska, but he also can’t deny his growing attraction to his bubbly Puerto Rican dance partner. Neither of them are looking for romantic entanglements, and Stone can’t risk revealing his secrets, but as they heat up the dance floor, it’s only a matter of time until he feels an overwhelming urge to take the lead.

When the tabloids catch on to their developing romance, the spotlight threatens to ruin not just their relationship, but their careers and their shot at the trophy. Gina and Stone will have to decide if their priorities lie with fame, fortune, or the chance at a future together.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fav Contemporary 2017, To Watch Author
Series: Dance Off
Author: Alexis Daria
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)

There is a novella: #2.5 Dance All Night

Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama, Celebrity
Heat Rating: toasty
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: October 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Netgalley–eBook | Thank You St. Martin’s Press – Swerve!

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:

I was very excited to start this book. The biggest draw: the opposites attract storyline. I love when unlikely romances blossom between two people. But I also loved the reality TV aspect. I like books that explore what happens when the cameras aren’t rolling (or perhaps unknowingly rolling).

What I Liked:

–The Chemistry–

I felt the connection between these two immediately. I’m talking within seconds of them meeting for the first time. That’s quite an accomplishment for a writer when fresh new characters are introduced.

The tension between them is so, so good. They have this magnetism between them that I positively adore. It was so apparent to me why these two would be drawn to each other and how love could grow between them. They have that deeper connection to them and I couldn’t get enough of it in the book.

–The Characters–

After reading this book, I wish that Gina was a real person. Not only did I love her character and personality, I also respected her work ethic and self-awareness. It’s really inspiring to read about a heroine who doesn’t define herself by her romantic relationships but on her own hard work and cares about the image she is presenting to the young girls look up to her. This never felt forced in anyway either; Gina is a super genuine character and it comes across at every page.

And Stone is a great compliment to that. He has quite the journey too when it comes to deciding what he wants in life. I also liked that he was masculine without being overbearing. He’s just a nice guy who cares about his family and doing the right thing.

–Perfect Amount of Drama–

There was just enough drama in this book to keep things interesting. Nothing felt over the top or out of left field. It just worked well to highlight the various elements of character growth. Plus: everything is handled in a very mature (and logical) way that I completely respected as a reader.

What I Didn’t Like:

That it took me so long to read this? I blame my hectic life for letting this one sit as long as I did.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

We got a juicy little hint about what’s to come for Dance With Me and I CANNOT WAIT to read it!

updates

–November 20, 2017– Book #2: Dance With Me

Once again, the character development here is great! I often find in romances that one of the characters is “stronger” (or more put together) than the other when it comes to their lives but in this novel, I liked that they each had their flaws and things to work on. I loved watching both of our leads grow as people and push each other to better things. They make great partners in all aspects which is what I loved watching in this book.

They also make a great romantic pair because they have fantastic chemistry. Sure, the somewhat forbidden element of their relationship adds to the tension but they are both super passionate people and it shows.

The main reason this rating isn’t a 5/5 is that I wanted a little more showing than telling with the romance. It’s always hard to write a romance where the characters have already fallen in love with each other without the readers seeing that because we love watching the initial sparks fly (or at least I do). These two have had a relationship for a long time (one that isn’t really touched on in the previous book either other than its brief mention) and those feelings for each other are already established. As I said above, these two have great chemistry and it shows but often times I felt like I was reading the sequel novel to their story without reading the first because I wanted more of those sparks.

However, I still really enjoyed this book! The character development is truly the highlight of this novel (it’s hard to find a solid character driven romance instead of just a focus on sexy times) and Alexis Daria has succeeded once again!

–December 3, 2018– Book #3: Dance All Night

I’m so happy that we got to spend more time in the world of Dance Off. I love this series for so many reasons and this novella highlighted them all!

Despite finishing this book in a little over an hour, this never felt like a novella because it is so well developed. You’ve got great, layered characters; an addicting, sweet romance and just the right amount of drama to give this novel a little flare. Oh–and CHRISTMAS! Everything just mixed together so well.

It was nice to have the roles reversed a bit. I always like reading novels where the male hero is more invested in the relationship and he has to win over the somewhat cynical heroine. Nik is such a genuine guy that he will have you swooning from the start. And Jess has some great character moments as a result of her growing feelings.

My only downside is the conflict the two face: it’s a bit of a communication-assumption thing and that always irks me. But I loved these two together so much that I’m willing to over look that little bit!

My Rating: 5/5

Take the Lead 5/5 | Dance With Me 4/5 | [Dance All Night 4/5] |

overall

I think I found a new contemporary romance author to follow! It has everything I love in a solid contemporary romance: fantastic characters, just the right amount of drama and a completely swoon-worthy romance. This definitely takes the trophy!

Read if You Like: adult romance, reality TV, drama
Avoid if You: want more erotica based story
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Series Review: Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza

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

Empress of a Thousand Skies Series

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Empress of a Thousand Skies (from Goodreads):

Crown Princess Rhiannon Ta’an wants vengeance.

The only surviving heir to an ancient Kalusian dynasty, Rhee has spent her life training to destroy the people who killed her family. Now, on the eve of her coronation, the time has finally come for Rhee to claim her throne – and her revenge.

Alyosha is a Wraetan who has risen above his war refugee origins to find fame as the dashing star of a DroneVision show. Despite his popularity, Aly struggles with anti-Wraetan prejudices and the pressure of being perfect in the public eye.

Their paths collide with one brutal act of violence: Rhee is attacked, barely escaping with her life. Aly is blamed for her presumed murder.

The princess and her accused killer are forced to go into hiding – even as a war between planets is waged in Rhee’s name. But soon, Rhee and Aly discover that the assassination attempt is just one part of a sinister plot. Bound together by an evil that only they can stop, the two fugitives must join forces to save the galaxy.

breakdown

Series: Empress of a Thousand Skies
Author: Rhoda Belleza
# of Books: 2 (Empress of a Thousand Skies, Blood of a Thousand Stars)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Adventure
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating & Multiple
Publication Date: February 2017 – February 2018
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

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:

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect with this novel. I marked it on my wishlist at my local library simply because I love the cover. The synopsis was intriguing enough but it seems like every plot in a science fiction novel lately has had a similar premise (I get why though: race and class divides are a part of the science fiction backbone so of course there are similarities) so I wasn’t overly eager to read this. Add to that the somewhat mixed reviews on Goodreads and I really wasn’t sure what to expect.

Note on Empress of a Thousand Skies Synopsis:

What I’m about to say may be considered by some to be a spoiler but I actually think it is better labeled as a warning because it is important to know what you are getting into and what type of story to prepare yourself for. So read this section if you want a little guidance for the type of story you are picking up or avoid and continue down to the next section.

My Little Warning!

Their paths collide with one brutal act of violence: Rhee is attacked, barely escaping with her life. Aly is blamed for her presumed murder.

The princess and her accused killer are forced to go into hiding

When you read those lines from the synopsis, you think the plot will be Rhee and her accused killer meeting and proceeding to save the world together. The key word there being “together”, implying that they actually get introduced to each other. That is not the case.

The best way to describe this story is as two parallel stories that contribute to the overall plot of the world. Maybe there is some suspense in wondering if they will ever meet but for me, knowing that they weren’t going to meet helped me starve off some of the disappointment of discovering that they won’t…yet.

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What I Liked:

–The Plot is Always Moving–

I don’t like stagnant plot lines and this one never felt like it got stuck or dwelled too long on one thing or another. I think it helps that we get both Aly and Rhee’s POVs too since you get that back and forth plot development. New secrets and alliances are constantly being revealed so something is always grabbing your attention. It helps to build the story and subsequently the finale.

–Not Afraid to Take Risks–

Not that you need to kill off characters to keep a story going but I like the suspense that happens when you aren’t sure who is safe and who isn’t. The action scenes we get here–while sometimes few and far between–had me paying attention because who knows what could happen next!

What I Didn’t Like:

–Somewhat Predictable–

While there were definitely plot twists that surprised me, I think the one big twist in this novel was super obvious. So that dampened the reading experience a touch but I still found myself interested in what would happen next.

–Slightly Lackluster Ending–

Because of the obvious plot twist, the ending was definitely lackluster in my opinion. I really needed something big to happen to “wow” me to take my experience to the next level.

My Audiobook Experience:

For a third person POV narration, I had a very easy time following what was happening. The narrator kept my attention and she was really expressive which helps. I think I would have liked a male narrator to do Aly’s parts simply to remind me when I stopped mid-chapter who the POV was following. Otherwise, it was a solid narration.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

While I wasn’t wowed with this novel, I did enjoy it. I’m curious to see what will happen in the finale and how everything weaves together.

updates

–March 26, 2018– Book #2: Blood of a Thousand Stars

This was a great sequel and finale! I definitely enjoyed this more than the first one! I found it was more unpredictable than the first one so I liked the anticipation that brought. It also has great pacing. The story and characters are always moving and I loved the weaving of the various narratives together.

My Rating: 3/5

Empress of a Thousand Skies 3/5 | Blood of a Thousand Stars 4/5

overall

While not a standout novel in its genre, this series will definitely keep readers interest throughout with its great pacing and solid worldbuilding.

Read if You Like: science fiction, world-building
Avoid if You: dislike slower stories, want more romance

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Series Review: Red by Isabelle Ronin

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

Red Series

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Chasing Red (from Goodreads):

HER HEART MIGHT BE THE ONE THING HE CAN’T WIN…
When cynical straight-A college student Veronica “Red” Strafford gets kicked out of her apartment, notorious basketball player Caleb Lockhart offers her a place to stay. Intensely drawn to her, Caleb wants something for the first time in his life. But Veronica’s painful past makes trusting difficult, and her heart might just be the one thing Caleb can’t win.

They said she was going to be my ruin…then let her ruin me.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: 2017 New Adult Fave, Canadian Author
Series: Red
Author: Isabelle Ronin
# of Books: 2 (Chasing Red, Always Red)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: September 5 ,2017 – November 7, 2017
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC | Thank you Sourcebooks Casablanca!


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:

When I was browsing upcoming releases, Chasing Red immediately caught my eye for a few reasons. One: is that cover–it’s just so colourful! Two: is the fact that Isabelle Ronin wrote this story on Wattpad–I’ve had great successes with stories that were first published there. Three: I love when the “popular guy” meets his match in a girl he never expected. (And I later learned that this book is set in Canada and is written by a Canadian Author! Bonus!!!)

I couldn’t wait to dive into this novel!

What I Liked:

–Veronica–

Red/Veronica is such an endearing heroine. She’s strong yet flawed and such a hard worker. You really get a great grasp on who she is and why so I never got annoyed with her actions. I fully understood everything she did because I knew her that well.

–Caleb–

Swoon! New Book Boyfriend Alert!

He knows all the right things to say but he is also so genuine about it as well. What a fantastic complement his character is to Veronica.

–Their Friends–

I also loved all of their friends and I truly hope we learn more about them in the sequel to this novel OR they each get their own story because I would love to read it.

–The Perfect Slow Burn Romance–

I had butterflies the entire time I was reading this–in like a totally awesome way. They have fantastic chemistry together, right from the start.

This romance had this amazing ability to feel like a slow burn romance but give you all the passion you expect in an already established romance. I loved watching these two explore their connection and building a relationship together. Besides physical attraction, they had that deeper bond. It was such a joy to watch them fall for each other.

What I Didn’t Like:

I really thought everything worked really well for this story. At first, I wasn’t sure about a particular plot line but I realized (as I was writing this review) that what I thought was a little unnecessary was necessary. I guess my biggest disappointment is waiting for the sequel!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I can’t wait to see how Red and Caleb’s story concludes! And maybe some more insight on their friends as well?

updates

–October 27, 2017– Book #2: Always Red

I didn’t love this book as much as Chasing Red for a few reasons. The main one is that all the drama got to me. It was a touch over the top but I kind of expected that given then ending of Chasing Red. The focus shifts from character development to navigating a relationship with all this added drama which is totally fine! It’s just that the character focus and growth was what charmed me in the first book.

The other reason is Caleb. He was just too much for me. His alpha male tendencies were overwhelming to say the least. Which is a shame because I really loved him in the first book. His approach made the relationship seem toxic at times. One positive though is that they do discuss his attitude and how it is impacting their relationship so that pleased me.

But I was still totally invested in this book! I loved having all these characters back in my life. I can’t wait for some sequels to be churned out and get the complete stories of everyone I’ve met so far. I think fans of Chasing Red will be pleased with this finale.

My Rating: 4.5/5

Chasing Red 5/5 | Always Red 4/5

overall

This story had everything I love in a great New Adult romance: genuine characters, great chemistry and a solid plot line. Completely addicting from start to end.

Read if You Like: slow burn romance, new adult, books set in canada
Avoid if You: dislike slow burn
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Series Review: Sins and Scandals by Lauren Smith

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

Sins and Scandals Trilogy

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for An Earl by Any Other Name (from Goodreads):

An earl in the streets, a rogue in the sheets . . .

Leopold Graham, Lord Hampton, was never a man to let propriety stand in the way of his pursuit of pleasure. Hedonism is his only desire in life—until his father’s death saddles him with debts that threaten to bankrupt the entire family. Now the only thing that stands between him and utter ruin is marriage to a proper, and preferably wealthy, young lady.

Ivy Leighton is no sweet English rose. Perhaps it’s her gypsy roots, but she would rather make a spectacle of her independent spirit than sit quietly on the sidelines. If that means that the only place she’ll ever have in society is firmly on the shelf, then so be it. But when Ivy runs into the handsome, rakish Leo who’s looking for a respectable, well-bred wife, she can’t stop thinking about the troubles they can get into. Now she just has to convince him that a life with her is really what he needs.

breakdown

Series: Sins and Scandals Trilogy
Author: Lauren Smith
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Historical, Romance
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: August – December 2017
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC | Thank you Forever Publishing!

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:

Over the last year, I’ve discovered that Lauren Smith writes great novella series. They have solid plots, swoon worthy romance and never feel like they are half the size of other works in the genre. So I was really excited to see what she would do with a historical romance novella as opposed to the contemporary works I usually read by her.

What I Liked:

–Felt Like I was Back in Downton Abbey!–

The cover made me think this was a regency era novel but it’s actually set in 1911, which is fabulous! It had a great Downton Abbey feel to it because this is precarious time in history. You’ve got a change in the hierarchy of England and women are searching for the right to vote and be independent.

I loved the setting and how it contributed to the antagonism between Leo and Ivy. Instead of your heroine rebelling for the sake of rebelling, she’s rebelling to contribute to the greater good of society (suffragette movement!).

–Fun Plot Line–

It’s not in the synopsis but I liked that there was substance to the reason why these two were brought together. It added a lighter flare to the story and added some fun to the circumstances.

What I Didn’t Like:

–I Just Needed a Little Bit More–

While these two had great chemistry and I could see why they would be a fabulous match, I felt like things were wrapped up just a little too quickly at the end. Not that I wanted some unnecessarily drama but another chapter would have been great!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I really enjoy this setting and how there are so many interesting factors contributing to the character’s motivations. We’ve met the next hero so I’m curious to see what his story has in store.

updates

–September 6, 2017– Book #2: A Gentleman Never Surrenders

I’ll be the first to say, I wasn’t sure what to expect with Owen as the hero in this novel. He didn’t leave the greatest impression on me once I finished An Earl by Any Other Name for obvious reasons. But if anyone could get me to fall in love with an unlikely hero, Lauren Smith is that author.

And she definitely succeeds!

I immediately fell in love with Milly and Owen’s story–and their romance. I adored Milly’s independent spirit and her drive to be something more than what society deems. Watching her get that confidence and grow as a character was such a treat. And learning more about Owen’s motives and seeing him evolve as a character helped erase my previous misconceptions about him and love his characters.

Those misconceptions I had about him were the same ones that Milly had as well at the start. She’s apprehensive about the situation she now finds herself in and that brings out these fantastic moments between them. You get these heart-warming moments where they discover there is something more to the other than they ever thought and they fall that little bit more in love. They have a fantastic chemistry and have these delicious moments of sexual tension that I just adored.

These two charmed me completely and I absolutely loved this story!

–November 23, 2017– Book #3: A Scottish Lord for Christmas

I’ve been looking forward to this book since we where introduced to these two earlier in the series and it was just as good as I had hoped.

This story is just heartwarming from start to finish. It’s a story about learning to love again and accepting that love can happen anytime and that it is worth the risks.

It’s a delicate balance for Quinn and as a result he has some great character growth. You watch him struggle with a range of emotions and thoughts when it comes to his feelings for Rowena. It just gives his character a genuine edge that I really enjoyed as a reader. This is very much Quinn’s story about embracing the past but moving forward to the future.

In comparison, Rowena is very confident in her feelings and so she doesn’t have as much character growth as I expected. Instead, she’s more of a solid foundation to build this story up. In a way it was nice to see the female character be the “stronger” one who doesn’t have to learn or become more comfortable with herself.

While the chemistry is there from the start with these two, I found the sexual tension took a little longer to build. I think it’s because their initial meeting is so rushed and Rowena’s feelings are almost insta-love that it took me awhile to feel the sparks between them even though I knew they worked well on paper. But the romance between them definitely heated up the more I read.

Overall, it’s a great read in time for the holidays and a solid installment in this great series!

My Rating: 4/5

An Earl by Any Other Name 3/5 | A Gentlemen Never Surrenders 5/5 | A Scottish Lord for Christmas 4/5

overall

This was a nice break from the regency historical novels we often see. If you want a Downton Abbey era novella series, this is the one!

Read if You Like: quick reads, Downton Abbey, historical romance
Avoid if You: want a full length novel
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Series Review: The Ladies Janies by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton & Jodi Meadows

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

Synopsis for My Lady Jane (from Goodreads):
The comical, fantastical, romantical, (not) entirely true story of Lady Jane Grey. In My Lady Jane, coauthors Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows have created a one-of-a-kind fantasy in the tradition of The Princess Bride, featuring a reluctant king, an even more reluctant queen, a noble steed, and only a passing resemblance to actual history—because sometimes history needs a little help.

At sixteen, Lady Jane Grey is about to be married off to a stranger and caught up in a conspiracy to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But those trifling problems aren’t for Jane to worry about. Jane is about to become the Queen of England.

breakdown

Series: My Ladies Jane
Author: Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows
# of Books: 3 (My Lady Jane, My Plain Jane, My Calamity Jane)
Book Order: Standalone Retellings
Complete?: No
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Retelling, Humour, Parody, Romance, Magic
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: June 7, 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover; Audiobook (Plain)

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:

This novel was everywhere in 2016! And I’ll admit, I didn’t know much else about it other than it was a retelling of Lady Jane Grey who was somehow connected to the British throne and it was supposed to be funny. I’ve also read series by all three of these authors in the past and enjoyed them. Sounded like a winning combination to me!

So I went in without reading any other reviews in order to not raise my expectations too high. I was hoping for a fun and entertaining read–and if I learned something about the British Monarchy, bonus!

The Concept / The World:

Years ago, I read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and really enjoyed it. So I am completely open to magic/supernatural changes to a classic story or history. But I really wasn’t expecting the animal shifter storyline we got here. It took me a long to time get comfortable with it.

I also think part of the problem was that I’m not entirely familiar with English History. It was a similar problem to when I picked up Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayer–I don’t know American history and so I couldn’t make the little connections between the parody and actual history and that diminished my reading experience.

I really didn’t know who Jane Grey was before I picked this up.  So I read Wikipedia a lot to find out who all the players were and what actually happened in history just so I knew what the authors were trying to do.

Once I made the connections between history and this fictitious story, I started to appreciate it a lot more. The writing here is smart. The conflict between shifters and nonshifters here and its parallel to the religious conflicts of Jane Grey’s time (for example) is fantastic. It’s those little things that make this story interesting to read overall.

The Plot:

I really found the first half of this book to be slow–so slow that I almost contemplated DNFing. Yes, I did love the humour but the animal shifting really threw me off and I wasn’t sure if I liked how the story was progressing. But once I got familiar with the history and got comfortable with the world, I started to enjoy it a lot more.

Plus, I really wanted to know how it was going to end!

And I have to say, that once I got to the halfway point, it really started to pick up. It got a hell of a lot more exciting and I started to get won over by the characters and the plot.

The Characters:

What I liked about this story was that it was told from Edward, Jane and Gifford’s POVs. Not only do you get to learn more about these characters through their POVs, but I find multiple POVs help keep the story moving even when it doesn’t feel like it is.

All of these characters have their little quirks which makes the narration a lot of fun to read. So even when the plot was slow to get somewhere, the characters kept me entertained.

The Romance:

It isn’t a huge part of the story but it is pretty cute. The romantic in me was happy with the little spurts we got throughout the novel.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m curious to see what will happen next and what these ladies have in store.

updates

–January 4, 2019– Book #2: My Plain Jane

So I can say with absolute certainty that this second novel was much, much better than the first–for me at least. I really enjoyed the plot and approach this story had. It was a fun satire of sorts on the classic gothic novel and the literature lover in me really enjoyed that. While I’ve never read Jane Eyre (shame on me I know), I know enough of the story to truly appreciate the parallels the authors have created here. I also think listening to this as an audiobook vastly improved my overall experience because the humour and sarcasm were much more apparent.

concSLOW

My Rating: 4/5

My Lady Jane 3.5/5  |  My Plain Jane 4/5  |  My Calamity Jane TBR

overall

I’m in the minority with this series I think because I know a lot of people who LOVE this novel. If you go into it knowing that it doesn’t take itself seriously and has magical elements to it, you’ll enjoy this a lot more. I also highly recommend the audiobooks if you are someone who struggles with humour in novels.

Read if You Like: humour, historical novels, retellings
Avoid if You: dislike parodies, want a serious retelling

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Series Review: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

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

Three Dark Crowns Series

book3 book4

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Three Dark Crowns (from Goodreads):

When kingdom come, there will be one.

In every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born—three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins.

The last queen standing gets the crown.

breakdown

Series: Three Dark Crowns
Author: Kendare Blake
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order Here)

There are 3 prequel novellas.

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book 4 will be published in 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: September 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover

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:

I’ve had Anna Dressed in Blood on my TBR for YEARS but have never managed to pick it up. But when I saw this book on Stephanie @ In Wonderland‘s Make Me Read It Readathon options, I was more than intrigued.

The simple cover and that dangerous synopsis sounded AMAZING! I love stories with a darker edge to them and what is more sinister than 3 sisters having to duke it out to become queen? The answer: nothing. Well, maybe brothers having to battle it out.

What I Liked:

–The World–

I really liked the world we got here. It was easy to follow but is pretty complex and interesting. I never got lost in how the world or political system operated which was nice. The girls have such unique powers–it isn’t just straight magic and differing abilities in that respect–so that was really refreshing for me as a reader.

–The Strong Female Characters–

I’m not just talking about the sisters here; I’m talking about the world as a whole. One of the really cool aspects of this series is the matriarchal society. Women are the rulers and decision makers for the entire populace. It isn’t young women being carted off to the potential King to get married: it’s the young men to the potential Queen. It isn’t the men who decide what the triplets will do, it’s the women.

–Game of Thrones Political Vibe–

Essentially, this story is about 3 different groups competing to be the ruler of the entire world. Sound familiar? It’s basically the premise of every “kill to get the throne” novel but it really reminded me of Game of Thrones. All these people are trying to propel who they think deserves to be the Queen by whatever means necessary. There really is no holding back here and I enjoyed that a lot. I hate books that can’t take those risks.

What I Didn’t Like:

–It’s a really, really slow start when you expected something else–

I went into this novel thinking I was going to be getting action right away. Not the case. At all.

Instead, we get long chapters establishing the 3 girls in their current homes and communities. And yes, it was nice to establish the setting and all the players involved in the game, but I wanted action and I wanted it ASAP.

In fact, I feel a little let down by the synopsis. It made me think this battle for power was going to be the main plot point. When in fact, what we get is the building up to that moment when the girls will have to fight it out. In other words, we wait a long time for “the night the sisters turn sixteen”.

But once I got over the fact that the plot I thought we were getting wasn’t actually the plot, I started to enjoy the novel more for what is truly was.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

This book ended with a bang which made the struggle at the start worth it. I feel like what I expected this novel to be, is what One Dark Throne will be. So I am very excited to read what happens next.

updates

–October 22, 2017– Book #2: One Dark Throne

THIS is what I thought the first book would be! It was nonstop in action and intrigue and kept my full attention. I loved all the turns the plot took; it always kept me guessing and eager to see what would happen next. This series was originally supposed to be a duology but you would never know that based on how this novel is crafted. There are a lot of places this plot could still go.

The only thing holding me back from a 5/5 is that there wasn’t a big “wow” moment for me. It’s a solid novel–a fantastic book 2–but it didn’t amaze me.

–October 2, 2018– Book #3: Two Dark Reigns

The vast majority of this felt like filler to me but I could see that it was building. And what an ending!? I can’t wait to see how this all wrapped up given the various twists and revelations at the end. What a ride!

 

concSLOW

My Rating: 4/5

Three Dark Crowns 4/5 | One Dark Throne 4/5 | Two Dark Reigns 4/5

overall

If you know what to expect going into this, you’ll probably enjoy yourself a lot more than I did at the start. But if you want a strong world with a promising story, you’ll love this!

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

similarreads

  • Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong (Age of Legends Trilogy #1)
  • Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas (Throne of Glass Series #1)

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Series Review: White Trash by Teresa Mummert

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 White Trash Beautiful (from Goodreads):
A word-of-mouth bestseller that’s captivating readers with its honesty, grit, and headstrong heroine, White Trash Beautiful is a story for anyone who has ever felt trapped in life, cheated by love—and longed for something more . . .

Cass Daniels isn’t waiting for her knight in shining armor. She knows that girls like her don’t get a happily ever after. Not if you live in a trailer with your mom, work at a greasy spoon diner, and get leered at by old men. Maybe that’s why she puts up with Jackson—her poor excuse for a boyfriend, who treats her like dirt. Cass has learned to accept her lot in life. That is, until he walks into her diner. . . .

His name is Tucker White, and he’s different from any man Cass has ever known. Tall, tattooed, and bad-ass gorgeous, he’s the lead singer of the rock band Damaged. From the moment they meet, Tucker sees something in Cass he just can’t shake. Something beautiful. Something haunted. Something special. And he’s determined to find out what it is—if only he can get her to open up and let him in. . . .

breakdown

Series: White Trash Trilogy
Author: Teresa Mummert
# of Books: 3 (White Trash Beautiful, White Trash Damaged, White Trash Love Song)
Book Order: Chronological; Connected (Love Song)
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Rockstar, Music
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: July 2013 – April 2014
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook; Audiobook (Damaged & Song)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I can’t remember how this series crossed my radar. It might have been because my library added the eBook version but I’m not sure. I read a lot of rockstar NA reads so I’m sure I saw it on a list somewhere.

Anyways, I love rockstar romances and I was really interested to see what would happen with a girl from the wrong side of the tracks.

What I Liked:

–Made me Believe in Soul Mates–

While their romance is a little “insta-love” connection, it was obvious to why these two were drawn to each other. They compliment each other so well even if that isn’t always elaborated on.

–Cass’ Character Development–

I find the romance takes a bit of a back seat here at times to focus on Cass and her growth.

Through her romance with Tucker, she is able to become independent. I hate when girls get caught up in their romantic interest and become dependent upon their man. It happens a lot in rock-star based romances because the girl gets caught up in the celebrity of it all. But here, I loved how Tucker lets Cass grow on her own. He is the catalyst for change but he doesn’t force her to be anything and she doesn’t rely on him to do that. She learns on her own that she is worth something on her own and not to let anyone else define her.

–Wasn’t too Focused on the “Rockstar”–

Like I said, Cass is really the star of this and I liked how the story kept her as the focus. It didn’t feel like every other rockstar romance novel out there.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Lopsidedness to the Plot–

The exposition here was a little too long. While I appreciated the time taken to explore this relationship and the characters, it did need that touch of drama to give the story some oomph.

And we do get that oomph, just near the end of the story. That’s when all the dramatic twists come about; which makes the story feel rushed and underdeveloped. I would have liked to have seen those issues fleshed out a little more earlier on and watch the characters grow from that.

Will I Finish It?

Honestly, the only reason I didn’t pick up the sequels was because I’m too cheap to spend the money on them. If my library gets the sequels, I’ll pick them up!

updates

–October 19, 2018– Book #2 & #3: White Trash Damaged & White Trash Love Song

I randomly stumbled upon these sequels as audiobooks through one of the additional services my library provides so I was happy to finally give this series a proper closure.

And…maybe I should have just left this series at book one.

I had two chief complaints about both sequels. 1) They spend the vast majority of the first half rehashing the same sentiments again and again. Seriously, it was like it was on repeat. 2) Nothing worthwhile gets expanded upon. I have so many unanswered questions from some of the plot developments that were thrown out there but never mentioned again.

It’s a shame because the last 25% of these books were great. We get some solid character development (even with the various plot holes we simply glaze over) and if that was brought out a littler earlier, my ratings for both novels would be higher.

Series Rating: 2/5

White Trash Beautiful 4/5 | White Trash Damaged 2/5 | White Trash Love Song 2/5

overall

Despite a strong start, this sequels to this series lacked the strengths of the first novel and get caught up in the cliches and petty drama.

Read if You Like: rockstar romances, character development
Avoid if You: dislike contemporary romances

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Series Review: Bad Nanny by C M Stunich

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

Bad Nanny Trilogy

book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Bad Nanny (from Goodreads):

Holy sweet baby Jesus.

I don’t know anything about taking care of kids.
I pierce nipples, navels, and noses for a living.
I’ve never even held a baby before. Not once. Never changed a diaper or cleaned up a skinned knee. Hell, I don’t even want kids. I’m more of a drifter, a once in a lifetime lover, and then I move on.
Family? Commitment? Nuh uh, no way.

Tough shit, though, because my brother and his kids need me. Desperately.
I never thought to wonder if I might need them, too.
That I might need her, this strange woman I met at a playground.
Brooke Overland.
She doesn’t know I’m not a professional nanny, but what am I supposed to do now?

She hired me; I took care of her sister’s kids for her; I fucked her.
My life is so screwed up.

breakdown

Series: Bad Nanny
Author: C M Stunich
# of Books: 3 (Bad Nanny, Good Boyfriend, Great Husband)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Good Boyfriend, is TBA
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: November 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Xpresso Book Tours–eARC

thoughts

**This post was originally published as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to reflect my conclusion to DNF this series. It will not be further updated.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I like unconventional romances (I read a lot and so I like fresh takes on your everyday tropes) and this was pretty unconventional. I mean, how often does a tattooed body piercer become a nanny? Not often.

So with this one, I was looking forward to a fun and sexy read that wasn’t something I have read before.

What I Liked:

–The Quirky Characters–

Zayden wasn’t what I expected at all. Given the description, I thought he was going to be some badass alpha male and that was not the case. At all. He is the quirky, nerdy guy who is very different from your typical “erotica” hero. I liked his “march to the beat of his own drum” mentality. It was rather refreshing. He’s a big softy and doesn’t really try to hide it.

Brooke was the perfect balance for him. She is her own brand of quirky but perhaps more grounded? It becomes easy to root for her given her situation. I thought she had great character development.

–It’s Insta-Love, But it Works–

This book takes place within a 2 week span so everything happens fast. I’m not a fan of insta-love but with these two, I could see how it would work. They are great partners and this story takes the time to show that. While there are plenty of steamy moments, there are scenes where these two just talk and learn more about each other. I appreciated that a lot.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Story Dragged a Bit–

This book is over 300 pages and sometimes it felt like that. There isn’t much plot besides pooping babies, sexy times and the occasional heart to heart. I just needed a little bit more to the drama of the plot.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m on the fence about picking up the next one. It all depends on the description honestly. I’m happy with the way this one wrapped up and I’m not sure what else the future holds.

I’ve opted not to pick up the sequels due to distance from the series.

My Rating: DNF

Bad Nanny 3/5 | Good Boyfriend TBP | Great Husband TBP

overall

If you like unconventional romances that are light, flirty and fun, this is a great one to try!

Read if You Like: tattooed heroes/bad boys, light reads
Avoid if You: dislike steamy scenes

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Series Review: The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye

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

The Crown’s Game Duology

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Crown’s Game (from Goodreads):

Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.

And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.

Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter—even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has?

For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with—beautiful, whip-smart, imaginative—and he can’t stop thinking about her.

And when Pasha, Nikolai’s best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love…or be killed himself.

As long-buried secrets emerge, threatening the future of the empire, it becomes dangerously clear—the Crown’s Game is not one to lose.

breakdown

Series: The Crown’s Game
Author: Evelyn Skye
# of Books: 2 (The Crown’s Game, The Crown’s Fate)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Magic, Romance
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: May 2016 – May 2017
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

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:

This book EVERYWHERE last year, and so the hype (and curiosity) was inevitable. But it was also on my radar because it is set in Imperial Russia–the kryptonite of book settings for me. I LOVE that setting and I try and read any book that uses this time period.

What I Liked:

–The Setting–

Like I said, Imperial Russia is one of my favourite book settings and this one was pretty perfect. You could tell that Evelyn Skye had done her research before writing this book. She really brought this setting to life in nearly every aspect: clothing, royalty, perception of magic. It hit all the marks.

–Multiple POV–

I LOVE having multiple POVs in my novels. It just gives you a full-circle view of the world I think and adds dimension to the plot and world. This one succeeds in that. It kept the story moving, added suspense to the plot and just gave you more insight into the characters.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Hard Time Picturing Magic Scenes–

I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t in the best headspace to start reading this book. I was studying for my licensing exams and was a little pre-occupied in my brain. So maybe take the next two paragraphs with a grain of salt and read another review to get another perspective.

For a third person POV, this book flowed wonderfully. It’s easy to get lost in the 3rd person narration when pronouns are used liberally; but I never found that to be the case here.

What I did struggle with is the scenes where magic is described. I had a hard time visualizing it. I think I missed the part about the purpose of the Enchanter and how the Game works so I didn’t get why these two were doing what they were doing when it was their turn. Again, I think I just wasn’t in the right place to read this.

–The Romance–

While I don’t enjoy the aspect of a love triangle in any book, that isn’t my sole issue here. My issue: the insta-love. I can forgive Vika and Nikola’s insta-connection because of the magic. That makes sense. But love? Stretching it a little. And Pasha hardly interacts with Vika before he is swooning at her feet. I just wanted a stronger romance here or at the very least, pick a team to root for and I never did.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

There was a rush of things that happened at the end and so I’m excited to see what will happen next. There’s so much potential moving forward.

updates

–June 25, 2017– Book #2: The Crown’s Fate

I think I might be in the minority but I fully believe that this book was better than the first one. I found the plot to be much more engaging and interesting than it was in The Crown’s Game. Despite some slight monotony in the middle of the book with one plot aspect, I found that this story always kept moving and developing in a way that was rather addicting to read. I was flying through the pages.

The character development was also great. When you have essentially 3 key players to keep tabs on, one or more will inevitable fall to the wayside in terms of growth. But I felt like everyone had a great story to tell and I’m glad we got to see them all.

This series is still missing that something to make me give it a 5/5 though.  And truthfully, I was leaning more towards a 3.5/5 rating for this particular book because I did find the middle of the novel to be a little stale. But I really liked how everything was brought together in the latter half of the novel and I did feel like this was a much stronger showing on Evelyn Skye’s part. I think she has a very bright future ahead of her in terms of her writing and I’ll be keeping an eye on what she writes next!

My Rating: 3.5/5

The Crown’s Game 3.5/5 | The Crown’s Fate 4/5

overall

I enjoyed myself while reading this novel, I just wasn’t blown away. (Maybe the hype monster killed this one for me?) It’s a solid series and definitely worth a read if you love alternate history with a dash of magic!

Read if You Like: fantasy, Imperial Russia, alternate history
Avoid if You: dislike magic, want more romance
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Series Review: Lover’s Dance by Deanna Roy

Synopsis for Forbidden Dance (from Goodreads):

She was hidden from the world. Then he arrived.
An emotional new novel from six-time USA Today bestselling author Deanna Roy

For four years, I’ve lived in almost total seclusion. Homeschooled, forbidden from social media, seeing no one other than the dancers at Dreamcatcher Academy, where I teach ballet to little girls in wheelchairs.

Then Blitz arrives.

He’s the disgraced host of Dance Blitz, a bawdy reality show where Blitz sleeps with as many dancers as possible while looking for his perfect partner.

At least he was. A few weeks ago, he got kicked off his own show.

He’s at my academy for a publicity stunt, and my wheelchair ballerinas are his ticket back into the public’s good graces.

I intend to hate him and stay as far away as possible. But when he looks at me, I can’t resist. Before I realize what’s happened, we’re sneaking into back rooms, dancing, kissing, planning dates away from the cameras and the wrath of my family.

But I’m afraid. I have a secret at the academy, a small, wonderful, terrible secret, and if I stay with Blitz, the world will find out.

Other books in the series:
book3 book book

breakdown

Series: Lover’s Dance
Author: Deanna Roy
# of Books: 5 (Full List Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Tender Dance, will be published May 2017
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama, Dancer
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: March 31, 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Xpresso Book Tours–eARC

Add: Goodreads | Buy: Amazon // B&N // Kobo // iBooks

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thoughts

**This post was originally posted as a Blog Tour 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:

I’ll admit that at first, I picked this one thinking that our lead, Livia, was in a wheelchair because she teaches ballet to girls who are. Turns out, that isn’t the case (The Feeling of Forever by Jamie Howard does have this though) but the concept was still intriguing. I love when regular people fall in love with celebrities! And a romantic player from a reality TV show? I’m there.

What I Liked:

–The Mystery of Livia’s Past–

Even though you learn Livia’s secret within the first few chapters, there was still so much suspense to it! I found her past to be really intriguing. Why is she so sheltered? Who are the key players involved? And what does it mean for the future? And when do we find out? This is a past that will be revealed over the next few installments.

–Livia’s Character Growth–

Unlike other heroines who exude innocence, I found it really easy to be sympathetic to her character. You know there is more to her nativity than just the trope of innocence meets a sexy player. Her past is complicated because of her upbringing and it shows.

Because Livia is so sheltered, it provides the perfect opportunity for character development. I really enjoyed watching her become her own person as she discovers she does have control over her own life and destiny if she chooses to.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Insta-Love–

If you’ve read any of my romance reviews in the past, insta-love is something that I am not a fan of. While this one seems to have a slow burn vibe to it, it’s definitely an insta-love kinda story. Don’t get me wrong, these two have great chemistry and it shows in their dancing and interactions, I just found that there wasn’t too much to their “getting to know you”. They dive head first based on their physical chemistry–which is fine–it’s just that I hope we can see the more emotional side of everything in the next installments.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I still have a lot of unanswered questions that need to be answered, so I’m looking forward to Wounded Dance.

updates

–April 20, 2017– Book #2: Wounded Dance

I was super excited when I read the synopsis for Wounded Dance because I was finally going to be getting some answers about Livia’s past. And boy did we ever.

I had a lot of ideas about Livia’s past but I was definitely wrong–in a great way. The reasoning really did surprise me! It was nice to delve into her past and learn the reason behind her parent’s protectiveness. It also helped to establish her character and why she is the way she is during the start of Forbidden Dance.

However, I did find the ending to be a little rushed. I wanted it teased out a bit more; everything seemed to wrap up a little too nicely for my liking. Maybe some of those things will be at play in the next novel, Wicked Dance. It’s hard to say because these novels are pitched as ones you can read as standalones so I get why everything is wrapped up before the end. Either way, I’m curious to see what will happen next!

–May 13, 2017– Book #3: Wicked Dance

When I first read in the synopsis for Forbidden Dance that Blitz was a reality TV star, I was so excited to see that element in the narrative. Unfortunately, the reality TV portion takes a back seat in the first two novels but it comes out full swing here–and it is so much fun!

I’m a huge fan of the TV series unREAL and this felt like I was reading an episode of it instead of just a romance novel (not that is is your everyday type of romance anyways). I was thoroughly entertained by the antics the show was throwing at them–even if the whole idea was a little silly. BUT, I think it goes to show Deanna Roy’s talent that I truthfully had no idea how this novel was going to end. It was a very addicting read.

The only reason I held back from a 5 star review was simply because I felt the character development was a little stagnant here. While Livia does evolve in some way in each novel, I’m still waiting for her truly break that mold and find her independence. She’s so close and I think the next novel, Tender Dance, is going to give that to me from what I get from the synopsis. I also liked that we saw a bit of a different side to Blitz as well but I can’t help but want a little more from his character as well.

 

My Rating: 3.5/5

Forbidden Dance 3.5/5 | Wounded Dance 4/5 | Wicked Dance 4/5 | Tender Dance TBR | Final Dance TBR

overall
Intriguing characters and a passionate romance make this an great read for romance lovers who like overarching romance stories. As the series continues, you get more and more invested in Livia’s story.

Read if You Like: stories about dancers
Avoid if You: dislike insta-connections
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Deanna Roy

Deanna Roy is the six-time USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance and women’s fiction.

She is a passionate advocate for women who have lost babies. She has several books on the subject, including her bestseller FOREVER INNOCENT, a romance about a couple whose baby is taken off life support at seven days old.

She has run the website PregnancyLoss.Info for fifteen years, including many large spin-off support groups both online and in person.

To learn about new releases, sign up for her subscriber list at http://deannaroy.com/news. She has regular giveaways in conjunction with major pregnancy loss events.

Author Links: Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter

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