Tag «4 book series»

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Series Review: East Park by Iris Blaire

Series Review: East Park by Iris Blaire

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 Exposure (from Goodreads):

My friends know me as Evan Cosette, a biochemistry major with a flawless GPA.

Everyone else? Well, they know me as Rylan Willow, erotic model for East Park Exposed.

The magazine has kept my tuition paid at East Park University. I just had to keep up the naive school-girl disguise on campus and my secret was safe, my two worlds separate.

Until Dallas. The gorgeous, disgustingly brilliant grad student who’s teaching my bio class this semester.

Oh, yeah… he’s also my new modeling partner.

I swore to myself that I wouldn’t get distracted. Dallas has a girlfriend, and I have to get into grad school.

That was before sales went through the roof.

Before the photographer decided to crank up the heat.

Before every photo shoot left me gasping for breath.

So, who gets Dallas? Me… or Rylan?

breakdown

Series: East Park
Author: Iris Blaire
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order)
Book Order: Direct (#1-2; #2-#3); Connected (#4)
Complete?: Unsure
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, College, Erotica
Heat Rating: Smokin’ (Kink: mild)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: March 2013 – May 2020
Source & Format: Own–eBook (#1); Public Library–eBook (#2); KoboPlus–eBook (#3-#4)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I picked up Exposure(#1) as a freebie for my Kindle in November 2013 but didn’t actually read it until 2020 when I was looking for a shorter read to get me out of a reading funk. I was drawn to this title for its unique concept (college erotica magazine) and was intrigued by the fact that our “hero” already had a girlfriend.

The Concept / The World:

I didn’t know erotic college magazines were a thing. Amateur video porn, sure, but not photo spreads. You have to be a little more open to read this book because of that aspect (and the fact that Dallas does have a girlfriend already) or else you won’t get into the crux of it all.

The Plot:

The overall theme of these novels is the trials and tribulations of running and/or starring in an erotica magazine in college. There are a lot of pre-conceptions about the type of person who would pose nude or start a magazine like this. It’s not just people who want to have sex all the time (though there is plenty of steam along the way) but it’s people who are comfortable with their bodies (or want to learn to be); who view it as an art form; who need the money or just want to flaunt what they have. I found all the dynamics to be extremely intriguing to read about.

Aside from the magazine, there is the balancing of friendships, planning for the future after college and some complicated romantic entanglements to keep things dramatic.

The Characters:

I found that our lead characters in Exposure (#1) were a little all over the place. Perhaps it is because we see them as their “personas” when they are modeling and then as their everyday selves, but I struggled getting a read on our leads. Dallas in particular was hard to get a grasp on. He was confident one minute than docile the next. Evan was a little self-centered and in her own world but I understand why given the stage she is in at her life. Though I think it is a little naïve of her to think no one will recognize her in person because of the magazine.

I really enjoyed Britain’s character and was glad to see she gets more focus in Call Backs (#2) and Voyeur (#3).

Shiver (#4) sees the return of some of the characters from the first 3 books but focuses on the “next generation” of the East Park Exposed crew. You could definitely read it as a standalone or just not read it if you are satisfied with the way the first 3 books wrap up.

The Romance:

The romance theme of all the books is falling for the slightly forbidden romantic interest. I enjoyed the tension that brings but it was done better in some books than others.

I wasn’t entirely sold on the romance in Exposure (#1). I don’t enjoy books about cheating but I went in with an objective mind-frame. But because I struggled with the characters, I struggled with their romance. So I was glad when I learned that Call Backs (#2) would also focus on another character’s romance.

The best way to describe Call Backs (#2) is as a bridging novel. It ties up the loose ends of Exposure (#1) but gets you ready for the new romance that takes center stage in Voyeur (#3). It also amped up the sexuality in a way I’ve never really read in a romance book before which was intriguing.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Given the mentions of “this is a story for another time” in the epilogue of Shiver (#4), I suspect that more books may be planned in the future for this series. I’d definitely be interested in reading them depending on the characters.

Series Rating: 3/5

Exposure 3/5 | Call Backs 3/5 | Voyeur 4/5 | Shiver 3/5

overall

If you enjoy unique New Adult stories or characters who are comfortable discussing sex and sexuality, check this quick series out!

Read if You Like: shorter romances reads, unique stories
Avoid if You: dislike erotica

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Series Review: Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

Series Review: Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

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 Hush, Hush (from Goodreads):
A SACRED OATH
A FALLEN ANGEL
A FORBIDDEN LOVE

Romance was not part of Nora Grey’s plan. She’s never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how hard her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her. Not until Patch comes along. With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Patch draws Nora to him against her better judgment.

But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora’s not sure whom to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is and seems to know more about her than her closest friends. She can’t decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is way more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel.

For she is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those that have fallen – and, when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost Nora her life.

breakdown

Series: Hush, Hush
Author: Becca Fitzpatrick
# of Books: 4 (Hush, Hush; Crescendo; Silence; Finale)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Paranormal, Angels
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: October 2009 – October 2012
Source & Format: Own-Hardcover

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I found this series before I even knew about Goodreads or blogging. Back when my only source of novels was whatever I purchased from Chapters, I stumbled upon this when they had an Indigo Teen Club (or something) blog/page. It was my first “fallen angels” series and the one I compare to all others too.

The Concept / The World:

Back in 2009, fallen angels and vampires were surging for YA dominance. So while most books seemed to have the same foundations (mysterious, handsome hero; unknowing heroine), they each had their own unique quirks.

What appealed to me about the Hush, Hush Saga was the darker edge it seemed to have. I liked that it toyed with the idea that not all angels are “good” angels. It also toys with the idea of why angels come to Earth and what that can mean for the human population.

The Plot:

Hush, Hush takes your typical paranormal YA approach and focuses mostly on the romance. It’s exciting and fun to watch these two navigate their relationship nonetheless. It also sets up the foundation for the rest of the series by introducing the world of fallen angels and their role.

Crescendo and Silence are by far the strongest of the series. While the romance is still heavily featured, you get more twists and turns when it comes to the angels. These had me on the edge of my seat anticipating what would happen next.

I had high, high hopes for Finale. I honestly think I was scared to read it because, despite the fact that I pre-ordered it, I didn’t read it for nearly 4 years. I made sure I included as a priority novel for my 2016 Rock My TBR AND added it to my 2016 Make Me Read It Challenge in the hopes it would “force” me to read it.

Finale was a huge disappointment for me. It seemed to contain everything I dislike about YA–whiny heroines, and a subpar plot–something I thought this series was above. Perhaps 4 years between novels is just too, too much. I think if I read this when I should have, I would have enjoyed it more.

The Characters:

I really liked Nora as a character. When I first started this series, she was in a league of her own compared to the Bella Swans of the world. She didn’t become a co-dependent mess and actually used her brain. She remains pretty consistent throughout the series though I felt like she lost that unique flare in Finale.

I often hear complaints that Patch is a bit of a stalker in the first novel and so they find the romance creepy. In a way, I can agree though I never really got that impression. (Maybe I was young and naive?) I feel like as the series progresses, you understand more about Patch’s character and his motives, putting everything in perspective.

The Romance:

Like I said, how Nora and Patch’s romance comes to be is often the biggest complaint about this series. At the time, I didn’t think anything of it and really enjoyed it. I thought they were a nice compliment for each other, especially as the series progresses. It’s your typical YA romance but I feel like it’s a bit more on the mature/older YA side of things.

Series Rating: 4.5/5

Hush, Hush 5/5 | Crescendo 5/5 | Silence 5/5  |  Finale 3/5

overall

This series will always have a special place in my heart, even though I was disappointed in the very last book. It’s definitely in my top favourite fallen angel themed novel of the YA genre.

Read if You Like: fallen angels, darker series
Avoid if You: more “alpha” male leads

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Series Review: Steampunk Chronicles by Kady Cross

Final 4 Blitz: Steampunk Chronicles by Kady Cross

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Girl in the Steel Corset (from Goodreads):
In 1897 England, sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne has no one… except the “thing” inside her.

When a young lord tries to take advantage of Finley, she fights back. And wins. But no normal Victorian girl has a darker side that makes her capable of knocking out a full-grown man with one punch…

Only Griffin King sees the magical darkness inside her that says she’s special, says she’s one of them. The orphaned duke takes her in from the gaslit streets against the wishes of his band of misfits: Emily, who has her own special abilities and an unrequited love for Sam, who is part robot; and Jasper, an American cowboy with a shadowy secret.

Griffin’s investigating a criminal called The Machinist, the mastermind behind several recent crimes by automatons. Finley thinks she can help and finally be a part of something, finally fit in.

But The Machinist wants to tear Griff’s little company of strays apart, and it isn’t long before trust is tested on all sides. At least Finley knows whose side she’s on even if it seems no one believes her.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Series
Series: The Steampunk Chronicles
Author: Kady Cross (aka Kathryn Smith)
# of Books: 4 (View Full Reading Order here.)

There are 3 novellas: View Full Reading Order here.

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Steampunk, Adventure, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: May 2011 – May 2014
Source & Format: Own–eBook (Kobo)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I first saw the cover of The Girl in the Steel Corset, in 2011 I was intrigued. By this point, my only exposure to Steampunk had been through the Infernal Devices Trilogy but it was a genre I was eager to explore deeper. So when I saw that The Girl in the Steel Corset was another YA Steampunk novel–I couldn’t wait to start it!

The Concept / The World:

What I love about Steampunk is the unique world the books are set in. I adore the mix of science fiction and history. It’s so much fun to read about! And this series is no different.

The very cool part of this series is the paranormal abilities of its lead characters. They remind me a bit of the X-men where you have this group of ragtime, unique characters who somehow create a family and a support system while kicking serious ass. It’s a blast watching them on their adventures to make London a safer place.

The Plot:

While each book has its own plot and focuses on a particular character or two, there is an overarching plot that links all the books together. It’s one of my favourite aspects of the series because it always feels like it is moving forward.

There’s romance, there’s action and there are many, many plot twists. I just love the unpredictable nature of these novels and they were a joy to read from start to finish…and super addicting!

The Characters:

This cast is awesome! Probably some of my favourite characters ever!

Not only are they all unique when it comes to their abilities but they are also unique in their personalities. It was a blast reading about them and uncovering more about each of them as the series progressed.

Finely is particularly noteworthy. As the series progressed, I worried she would lose herself in the typical female protagonist role when they meet a guy they like, but she never did. She was strong, kick-ass, independent but knew when to work together. Love her and the rest of her friends, particularly the females!

The Romance:

The romances in this series are great additions! While they aren’t a major focus of the plot, they add to it in a fabulous way that makes you want more!

Series Rating: 4.5/5

The Girl in the Steel Corset 4/5 | The Girl in the Clockwork Collar 4/5 | The Girl with the Iron Touch 4/5 | The Girl with the Wind-up Heart 5/5

overall

Might seem bizarre that a series I essentially gave 4 stars to is one of my favourites but I LOVE this world and I LOVE these characters. I think the only reason I gave these books 4/5 was the fact that they ended! I had to wait a long time for the next installment and I know if I read them in one go, they would all be 5/5!

Read if You Like: steampunk, action, friends who act like family
Avoid if You: dislike steampunk

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Series Review: The Royals by Kim Karr

Series Review: The Royals by Kim Karr

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 Washed Up Royal (from Goodreads):

A simple notification turns my world upside down…

The tabloids are reporting,
I’ve taken the crown and run. (Not entirely true)

As you might have guessed,
I’m not an ordinary girl and I don’t lead an ordinary life,
But that doesn’t mean I always follow the rules.

This time, though, I feel compelled to obey.
Which means I have to find a king,
To sit alongside my throne,
Or lose it all.

With only the clothes on my back,
I head to the land of majestic playboys,
Where a royal rebel strides right into my life.

With his sultry eyes and sinful lips,
He turns my world right-side up.

The press is calling him washed up. (I think he’s anything but)

Gorgeous, sexy, irresistible,
And utterly charming,
He’s exactly what I’m looking for.

Everything is almost too perfect,
Too easy.

Until I discover,
This hot-blooded royal has a reason for being here.
And it’s more than just me.

That thing I said about easy,
Turns out…
Nothing ever is.

My royal rebel has a name,
It’s Prince Adrien Laurent.
My name is Princess Victoria Blanchette.
And this is our story.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: The Royals
Author: Kim Karr
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Smokin’
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: February 2019 – March 2020
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

In recent years, I’ve become a fan of Kim Karr’s contemporary romances. Her stories just have a great blend between romance, character development and plot — they’re simply entertaining! So when I needed a new audiobook series to read for my commute to work, this fit the bill perfectly.

The Concept / The World:

This is a modern day royal romance series but the kingdoms aren’t countries you are already familiar with (ie real places). There are some overarching plot themes throughout the series so there is some world-building to keep up with. I feel like we get the best overview of the royal system and the kingdoms at the start of Book #3, Wannabe Heir, which was a little too late for me to keep up with everything but I did find it helpful.

The Plot:

I liked that all these books had a few tropes at play and how they kept the plot moving. At times I was reminded of the TV show, The Royals, (oh, how I miss it!) where there is a great blend of family secrets, monarchies, danger and romance.

The Royals GIFs | Tenor

I felt like all the books had a fresh take on modern royal romances with the blending of social media, reality TV, tabloids and expectations for royalty.

The Characters:

These books are substantial enough to allow for some solid character growth. I really liked all our leads and I enjoyed watching them evolve as characters individually. Life might not always go to plan so sometimes you adapt and pivot, and I thought these characters all did that very well. They were easy to connect with, even if I don’t live as royalty.

The Romance:

Things happen quickly in some of the stories but thanks to the character development and the scenes we do get, it was easy to like all the couples. Plenty of steam to compliment the great sexual tension and chemistry!

My Audiobook Experience:

I struggled a bit keeping straight all the kingdoms and the secondary antagonist characters but the productions themselves were great!

I will say that in Book #2, Would Be King, I thought that the character accents were inconsistent. Like our hero spoke with an accent in his dialogue but when his brother from the same place spoke, there was no accent. And the inner monologues would or wouldn’t have accents and then the dialogue would. It just threw me off a bit.

Series Rating: 4/5

Washed Up Royal 4/5 | Would Be King 4/5 | Wannabe Heir 4/5 | The Pretend Prince 4/5

overall

One of the more consistent modern royalty romance series I’ve read in recent years. It’s packed with lots of sexual tension and drama with solid characters; making it a great series to binge read!

Read if You Like: modern royal romances
Avoid if You: want full-blown erotica

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Series Review: All-Stars by Katie McCoy

Series Review: All-Stars by Katie McCoy

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 Royal Player (from Goodreads):

Charlie Davenport is the bad boy of British sports – and third in line to the throne. He’s a beast on the courts, and a wild animal in bed (according to all the tabloids). Girls are lining up for chance at his crown jewels, and when I stumble into the wrong Wimbledon dressing room and catch a glimpse of his game, set, AND match, I can see why.

So what’s a little good luck kiss between f̶r̶i̶e̶n̶d̶s̶ strangers?

I know better than to get involved with a bad boy like Charlie. But now he’s on a winning streak, he thinks I’m his lucky charm – and you know what’s luckier than a kiss?

Everything.

Suddenly, I’ve got paparazzi on my trail, exes coming out of the woodwork — and you don’t know ‘cutthroat’ until you’ve seen a pack of hungry socialites set loose near the Royal Family.

I’m in way over my head, and even worse – I’m falling in love. Can this American girl win her Prince Charming? Or will we both crash out of the championships in flames?

breakdown

Series: All-Stars
Author: Katie McCoy
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: April 2017 – February 2018
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I read a few of Katie’s earlier novels and really enjoyed them. I did start her Rascals Series but the first book didn’t do much for me. So when I saw that my library had the audiobook version of her All-Stars Series, I thought I would given them a try.

The Plot:

If you like romances that read like Romantic-Comedy movies or you love the trope of an every-day girl falling for a hottie celebrity, this is the series for you! These books are simple in their execution, where we don’t delve too deep into the characters’ pasts but instead focus on the chemistry between the leads. It read like a Hallmark movie: fast romance and soapy drama.

The Characters:

Like I said, we don’t delve too deep into the character pasts. We just get enough surface to keep the story moving and to prove that even celebrity heroes have some baggage.

The Romance:

I liked all the pairings. You could see the chemistry even if the romances occurred only over a couple of weeks.

My Audiobook Experience:

I did NOT enough the male narrator for Royal Player at all. He just made everything Uber cheesy. I think they were going for a Westley from Princess Bride approach with his style but it didn’t work for me.
The rest of the series had great audio productions though.

Series Rating: 3.5/5

Royal Player 3/5 | Hot Bachelor 4/5 | Heartthrob 3/5 | Sex God 4/5

overall

If you want quick, rom-com reads, this is a great series to pick up!

Read if You Like: rom-coms, contemporary romance, celebrity romances
Avoid if You: want deeper character development

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Series Review: Off-Limits by Piper Lawson

Fresh Fridays: Crave (Off-Limits #1) 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:

Off-Limits Series

book3book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Crave (from Amazon.ca):

Turns out the beautiful man from the club is my new professor… But he wasn’t when he kissed me.

Ex-ballet dancer Olivia would never set foot in a club like Velvet, not to mention seize the stage. But when she learns her ‘perfect’ boyfriend has been cheating, she indulges in a wild fantasy for the first time.

From the moment Sawyer rescues her in the parking lot at the club, Olivia realizes he’s what she’s been missing. The way he touches her sets her on fire.

But one mistake becomes two when she learns Sawyer isn’t only the passionate, mysterious man she stayed up all night with…

He’s her new professor.

CRAVE is an illicit, forbidden full-length novel and book 1 in the OFF-LIMITS trilogy. An addictive, enthralling romance from WSJ and USA Today bestselling author Piper Lawson.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author; Canadian Author
Series: Off-Limits
Author: Piper Lawson
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological (#1-3); Connected (#4)
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Forbidden Love
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: October 26, 2021 – October 25, 2022
Source & Format: Author–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 include the newest publications in the series.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve spent most of 2021 in a reading funk, but Piper Lawson’s new releases this year seem to be the balm that soothe it. I’ve read all of Piper’s books–except the short story anthology starring our two leads here–and I always know that I am going to get a great romance story. And I was so excited to see her return to the genre of New Adult romance!

What I Liked:

–Fantastic Chemistry–

The chemistry between Olivia and Sawyer is so strong right from the start that it’s easy to get sucked into their relationship. And forget that they shouldn’t be together — because they seem so perfect for each other!

–The Mysterious Sawyer–

Sawyer had made a brief appearance in the Enemies Series but he was still an enigma to me. I liked that we only got a few chapters from his POV because it helped to build up his mysterious side but still provided insight into his mind.

–Rebellious Olivia–

Olivia is a girl trying to find her independence and I liked how her character was evolving. She’s breaking free of that box people put her in but no so much that it feels forced or that her pursuit of Sawyer is simply for the forbidden thrill of it

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Forbidden Element Loses its Shine As the Novel Progresses–

This is a trilogy about the same couple, so not every obstacle to their relationship will be revealed in book #1 and I can appreciate that. However, as much as I loved the forbidden element of their relationship, I found that as the novel progressed, the thrill of their relationship dimmed. Nothing seemed to challenge the romance’s “forbidden” element; those that found out about it treated it as something mundane and there were only a few handful of moments where they were at risk of being caught. But I’m optimistic that this will evolve as the series continues.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

It ends on a bang though and I can’t wait to see where this will go next!

updates

–January 12, 2022– Book #2: Collide

I’ve never read a student-professor romance like this! But that’s what I’ve come to expect from Piper Lawson: the unexpected.

These two are stubborn and I feel like they make things purposely difficult for each other–but that’s part of their charm. They don’t know how to love or let someone in because they’ve never felt seen by another person. So it’s a beautiful thing to watch these two surrender to their connection as their relationship evolves.

I also love that these two have their own dramatic plot lines. Yes, those storyline overlap at times but I like that they both have their own things going on to help evolve that personal character growth.

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

–March 21, 2022– Book #3: Claim

What a great way to wrap up this one of a kind series! Honestly, I’ve never read a student-professor romance story with as much depth as this series and I am all for it!

Everything that has been pushing and pulling Sawyer and Oliva together and apart comes together here and I loved watching it unfold. One thing I truly loved about this two is that they really evolved as people throughout this series and I think it really shows in this book as they reflect and navigate their relationship.

–October 26, 2022– Book #4: Tempt

I am SO glad Piper decided to write Daniel’s story! He didn’t have a huge role to play in the first 3 books of the Off-Limits Series, but he managed to capture my attention nonetheless. I couldn’t wait to learn more about his past and to see him find happiness after the loss of his beloved wife.

There is just something so incredibly charming about romances with single parents. I’m a huge romantic so I just adore the idea of people finding love again after loss. And the kids are always so stinking cute too!

I found this book to be a great, feel-good novel and its guaranteed to put a smile on your face! With plenty of steamy moments along the way, I just enjoyed reading this book with its lighter approach to the plot and character stories.

For me, some scenes were a lot more telling than showing, which isn’t my usual preference for a romance. I understand why though as this is a standalone novel and things need to be wrapped up within a certain amount of time. But I just found it made the plot points seem jagged and not as smooth as they could be.

My Rating: 4/5

Crave 4/5 | Collide 4/5 | Book 3 4/5

overall

Overall, this was a great series that kept things fresh with original characters and plots!

Read if You Like: forbidden romance, new adult romance, STEM heroines
Avoid if You: want erotica, dislike new adult romance

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Spin-Off Saturdays: The College Years by Monica Murphy

Spin-Off Saturdays: The College Years by Monica Murphy

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 College Years Series is a spin-off of the The Callahans Series

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: The College Years

This is a spinoff of the The Callahans Series.

Author: Monica Murphy
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: April 2021 – ongoing
Source & Format: Author—eARC

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 when Monica Murphy announced a spin-off series of her The Callahans Series. While I loved all the Callahan children (because their parents are my fall time favourite), I really got invested in some of their friends throughout the series. I felt like there were a lot of unfinished stories to tell. And the fact that they were going to be New Adult–my favourite of the genres Monica Murphy writes–I was eagerly awaiting their release.

How Does It Compare To The Original?

–More Realistic Approach–

I found The Callahans Series could be melodramatic at times. It’s also very angsty with the leads all being in high school. But there was an air of maturity to this new series that I liked. These stories are as grounded as they can be while still being dramatic. They explore a lot of everyday scenarios like “girl dating younger guy”, “high school romances in college” and “falling for your friend”.

I think part of my “disappointment” with The Freshman (#1) was that I kept waiting for the melodrama to come but it didn’t (there were some pacing issues with the plot as a whole I thought) and looking back, I can appreciate that approach more than I did when I was reading it.

–Focus On Friendship–

One thing I’ve always enjoyed about these characters is their loyalty to their friendships. Your high school relationships change when you go to college/university for a variety of reasons. These novels explore that a bit. But they also highlight what a support group your friends can be throughout your life. Again, it comes with the newfound maturity these characters have but we seem to have left the toxic soap opera friendships in high school and I am all for it.

–Slow Burn Romances–

For the most part, these romances have been a slow burn. Unlike the original series where things seemed to happen quickly (young love and all of that), these relationships take their time to develop and grow. And as a result, the characters evolve as well.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

–Plot Pacing–

As I mentioned above, I struggled with the plot pacing of The Freshman (#1). Part of that is a slightly misleading synopsis but also the fact that they story never really climaxed dramatically. The anticipation was more like an unexpected speed bump that makes you go “oh well” and you carry on. Not really the “forbidden” romance I was craving.

–Uneven Character Development–

I craved more insight into our hero in The Sophomore (#2). I felt he wasn’t as developed as he could have been and I found his character came across as wish-washy in his convictions and actions.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m very excited for the third book, The Junior. While I know who the hero is, I’m not sure how his story will go!

updates

–September 13, 2021– Book #3: The Junior

I’ll admit, this took a while for me to get into. I thought it would be a passionate affair right from the start but instead, like the other books in this series so far, we get a slow burn romance that brews.

And I really liked that because it made this story a little more grounded and made the romance believable. They say a leopard can’t change its spots; and the same can be said about the “player” bad boy who chases after girls constantly. You have to sell the transformation to the reader. These two really work at being friends first, resisting that simmering attraction and getting to know each other a little better. It helps that they are both super similar so it was easy to see why they would work together so well.

–November 11, 2021– Book #4: The Senior

I was never the biggest fan of our hero in this book. I seem to be in the minority for that when it comes to this series but I am always down for a good redemption story.

It took me awhile to get into this thanks to the constant back and forth between our couple at the start. I get that it’s their “thing” so to speak (it’s their main trope) and it provides plenty of steamy scenes, but I could have done with a little less and still gotten the point. There are a lot of big impact moments that happen in the last 25-30% of the book that help shape up his character; I would have liked to have seen more of that character evolution earlier on.

Overall, it’s a solid way to end the series. I think fans will enjoy the return of this fan-favourite couple especially.

Series Rating: 3.5/5

The Freshman 3/5 | The Sophomore 4/5 | The Junior 3/5 | The Senior 3/5

overall

With a more mature, grounded approach, fans of The Callahans Series will enjoy watching their favourite characters grow up into adults.

Read if You Like: new adult romances, books that focus on a group of friends
Avoid if You: dislike contemporary romance

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Freshman (from Goodreads):

I started flirting with a guy while waiting for my car to be serviced. Now granted, he wasn’t just any guy. Tall. Dark. Hot. Mysterious. Can you blame me for wanting to talk to him? He’s in town visiting his parents. So am I. He goes to the same college as I do. Such a coincidence. Almost as if our meeting is destined…

But I shouldn’t believe in that sort of thing. I am single as a Pringle and always ready to mingle. Until I keep running into Mr. Tall, Dark and Mysterious everywhere I go. Tony Sorrento. Turns out he’s on the football team. I mean, I’m not one to chase after a sexy jock but, okay. I’m down. And did I mention he’s only a freshman?

Our fathers are business rivals, and they forbid us from dating. We need to keep this on the low. Can we remain friendly? Sure. Maybe turn our friendship into friends with benefits? Most definitely. Here’s the thing though. I didn’t plan on catching feelings for him so quickly. Seems like he’s falling pretty hard for me too.

Defying our fathers’ wishes is only asking for trouble, but is being with Tony worth the risk?

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Series Review: The Enemies by Piper Lawson

Series Review: The Enemies 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:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Beautiful Enemy (from Goodreads):

I sold my future to the man who ruined my past.

I had a plan:

Sign a contract and board a plane to Ibiza. The anonymous deal would salvage the smoldering wreckage of my life.

It would not involve billionaire Harrison King. AKA, the reason I need saving in the first place.

He’s as beautiful as he is cruel. A British business titan who’s practically royalty and makes a living getting what he wants.

The man flies private. Dates supermodels. But the crisp accent and cocky smirk don’t fool me. He’s a gentleman on the outside, a savage beneath. Dangerous, rough and brutal.

Because after my attempt to publicly stand up for those who needed it…

He destroyed my reputation.

Now, he’s come for the rest of me.

Except it’s not salvation he’s promising. It’s nights in Ibiza, under his roof, rules, his control.

I sold my soul to a man I hate. Now, he owns me.

I can’t back out. No matter what kind of punishment he has in store.

Harrison King knows my secrets…

But kings keep secrets too.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author, Canadian Author
Series: The Enemies Trilogy

This series is a spin-off of sorts from the Rivals Series

Author: Piper Lawson
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological Order
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: May to July 2022
Source & Format: Author–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a huge Piper Lawson fan and have been since she published her debut Schooled years ago. But I was super excited to start this series. We got a little glimpse of our leads interacting for the first time at the end of the Rivals Series (another great read BTW) and could not WAIT to see them come to life in their own trilogy! I love a good “in love with my enemy” story and this one looked extremely promising.

The Concept / The World:

You don’t see a lot of romance series anymore that follow the same set of leads for multiple books. I feel like it was a big trend around the Fifty Shades of Gray era; but eventually, romance series started to focus on a different set of leads for each book in a series. And while I would say that I tend to skew more towards the standalones for a romance lead, this series reminded me why having 3 whole books dedicated to one couple can be freaking fantastic!

By having a trilogy dedicated entirely to them, we are taking our time evolving their characters and the romance. And what a ride!

The Plot:

Everything about this trilogy’s plot felt fresh to me. I loved the slight suspense and mystery behind Harrison’s family’s past. It just gave the story an edge that had me eager to start the next chapter to see what happens next.
At the same time, Rae’s story is just as fascinating to read. She’s got her own thing going on which is great.
But the very best part: the masterful weaving of all the elements together. It just creates a well-balanced and utterly addicting story.

I find most romance trilogies that focus on a single couple often follow a similar formula for each book installment so they can be rather predictable. Not the case here. Honestly, I had no idea what to expect next and I loved that. I think I’ve read 95% of Piper Lawson’s titles and she still manages to make her series fresh every single time.

The Characters:

We have some great, complex characters here. I was truly impressed with the character growth here from both our leads. Both their individual growth and as a couple. It was great to see how far they’ve come from the independent, angry with the world people they were in the first book.

And boy, oh boy, do I hope we get some spin-off books or series about a few of the supporting characters we meet along the way!

The Romance:

I love the chemistry between these two! That (AMAZING) slow burning romance is what makes this series so addicting. It’s just so obvious to me how they fit together and how they challenge each other to be better people. Any time they share a scene together, I’m swooning or laughing or crying…they make me feel everything.

It’s crazy how invested I became in their story.

updates

–July 25, 2022– Book #4: Beautiful Salvation

Who wouldn’t want an extended epilogue featuring some of their favourite characters? This was the perfect cherry on top for this series! It had all the heart, great banter and communication plus lots of cameos from other characters we met throughout the series.

Series Rating: 5/5

Beautiful Enemy 5/5 | Beautiful Sins 5/5 | Beautiful Ruin 5/5 | Beautiful Salvation 4/5

overall

Honestly: I was in a super depressing reading funk when I started this series. But this series reminded me why I love to read. Piper Lawson knows just how to tease you and keep you coming back for more when it comes to her stories and this series is a prime example of her mastery at its finest!

Read if You Like: contemporary romances, romance trilogies
Avoid if You: dislike steamy reads; dislike angsty characters

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Series Review: Twisted by Ana Huang

Series Review: Twisted by Ana Huang

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

book4

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Twisted Love (from Goodreads):

He has a heart of ice…but for her, he’d burn the world.

Alex Volkov is a devil blessed with the face of an angel and cursed with a past he can’t escape.

Driven by a tragedy that has haunted him for most of his life, his ruthless pursuits for success and vengeance leave little room for matters of the heart.

But when he’s forced to look after his best friend’s sister, he starts to feel something in his chest:

A crack.
A melt.
A fire that could end his world as he knew it.

***

Ava Chen is a free spirit trapped by nightmares of a childhood she can’t remember.

But despite her broken past, she’s never stopped seeing the beauty in the world…including the heart beneath the icy exterior of a man she shouldn’t want.

Her brother’s best friend.
Her neighbor.
Her savior and her downfall.

Theirs is a love that was never supposed to happen—but when it does, it unleashes secrets that could destroy them both…and everything they hold dear.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: Twisted
Author: Ana Huang
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: April 2021 – ongoing
Source & Format: Author–eARC

thoughts

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

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Last year, I discovered Ana Huang when I read her If Love Series and quickly became a fan. She writes the type of romances I love to read with great chemistry between her leads and addicting plots. I was never bored reading that series and I made sure to keep an eye out for any of her future works.

The Twisted Series was pitched to me as something a little darker than her previous series, but I love dark contemporary romances so I was totally on bored. I loved the premise and couldn’t wait to dive in!

The Plot:

Each book focuses on a different set of leads and their respective stories. I found that Twisted Love (#1) was much darker than Twisted Games (#2) thanks to the characters’ pasts. But both had an air of suspense to them when it came to the plotlines that made them addicting to read. And while I was able to see some plot twists coming, others I did not so I liked that I was kept on my toes.

There is a good balance between the drama of the characters and the romance; though sometimes the pacing felt choppy. However, I was so invested in these characters that I really didn’t mind that when it’s all said and done. The pacing definitely improves as the series progresses.

The Characters:

I love complex characters in my books because that usually means there will be great character development–and that’s the case here. The romance and the drama help contribute to the growth we see in our leads (and their friends as well!) and I couldn’t ask for more.

I thought that all these characters were fresh and unique. They aren’t perfect snowflakes but they also aren’t overly jaded and angsty either. Overall, everyone is just very well rounded and you can’t help but like them.

The Romance:

Both books so far have had a slow burn type of romance which I LOVE! Watching our leads slowly fall into love made the romance that much sweeter. Nothing better than watching two people who aren’t so fond of each other succumb to those deeper feelings!

All the pairs have great chemistry from the start. The underlying attraction is always bubbling up to the surface which makes this story addicting to read in itself. But I also liked how they challenged each other and how their characters grew as a result.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Gah! We always get a little taste of what is to come at the end of the previous book and I cannot wait for the next book!

updates

–January 29, 2022– Book #3: Twisted Hate

I love a good enemies to lovers trope and I have felt this one brewing since the very first book in the series! So I was excited to dive in!

The leads are both complex and well developed. The drama returns to the slightly darker, twisted side of the first novel. And these two live up to every aspect of the “hate” to love you trope. It comes out in every aspect of their relationship and in every interaction–especially in the bedroom! I think this is one of the first books I’ve read where the “hate” transforms into “rough” and for me there is a fine line of what I enjoy reading.

I struggled a bit with the pacing in this book. I thought there was some missed opportunities to have the sparks fly a little earlier between these two. There were chances to up the sexual tension a little more and we didn’t in the first third of the book. But the pacing gets better for the last two-thirds of the book.

–July 12, 2022– Book #4: Twisted Lies

I feel like this story has been building throughout the series. These two have always had this undeniable chemistry between them and I couldn’t wait to see that unfold!

This was the slowest of slow burns along with an edge of danger to the plot. I struggled with the pacing of both though, the book just felt a touch too long. But I enjoyed watching this finale come to life and I couldn’t think of a better way to wrap up this one of a kind romance series!

Series Rating: 4.5/5

Twisted Love 4/5 | Twisted Games 5/5 | Twisted Hate 4/5 | Twisted Lies 4/5

overall

If you enjoy a darker tone to your romances (without the BSDM or other kinkiness that is often associated with “darker” romances), this is the series you have been waiting for! A great blend of slow-burn romance and suspenseful drama to keep you addicted for more!

Read if You Like: dark romances, hate to love you romances
Avoid if You: dislike contemporary romances, want a lighter read

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Series Review: Nordic Royals by Karina Halle

Series Review: Nordic Royals by Karina Halle

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Swedish Prince (from Goodreads):

A swoon-worthy, sexy & utterly charming STANDALONE romance inspired by the classic film Roman Holiday, from the New York Times bestselling author of Bad at Love and The Pact

I never believed in fairy-tales.

Never held out for Prince Charming.

Growing up poor in small-town California as the oldest of six siblings, I knew I would never ride off into the sunset with anyone. That was even more apparent when a senseless tragedy took the lives of my parents, forcing me to become the sole guardian of our dysfunctional household at the mere age of twenty-three.

Then a fateful encounter literally brought Prince Charming to my doorstep.

At first I thought Viktor was just your average businessman passing through, albeit obscenely handsome, six-foot-five, blue-eyed, and mysteriously rich.

But soon I discovered the truth behind Viktor’s façade.

Beneath his quiet, enigmatic gaze and cocky charm, is a man who is running away from who he really is. A role he’d rather not fulfill.

He is Viktor of House Nordin, His Royal Highness, The Crown Prince of Sweden.

Yet uncovering Viktor’s secret was only the first step.

I didn’t expect to fall in love with him.

I didn’t expect to have my whole life turned upside down.

When you’re from two different worlds, can your hearts meet somewhere in the middle?

Or do happily-ever-afters only exist in fairy-tales?

WARNING: The Swedish Prince is oh-so sweet, enchanting and funny, but it does contain foul language (lots of the F word) and graphic sexual scenes (lots of dirty talk). Reader discretion is advised for those who are sensitive.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Canadian Author
Series: The Nordic Royals
Author: Karina Halle
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Royalty
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: March 2018 – October 2019
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve read a few of Karina Halle’s books in the past and I’ve enjoyed her approach to the contemporary romance novel. She finds a good balance between humour, heat and angst in her novels.

I love anything to do with royalty so I’ve been dying to start this modern royalty story. And when my library got the audiobooks, I immediately got ready to read this series.

The Plot:

I found each book to be a little predictable and often cliché. But there are some more profound moments when subjects like grief, forgiveness and family are touched upon. It isn’t always happy-go-lucky and I can appreciate that. But I did find the balance was a little off sometimes with the drama and the pacing (like the dramatic twists were introduced too late into the story) so that dampened my overall enjoyment of some of the books.

The Characters:

We get a little taste of the future leads throughout the series (and people make some reappearances) which is always fun. I did like all the characters we met. They were fun and had some layers to them as you get to explore their backstories a little more.

The Romance:

I had a few hits and misses with these. Sometimes, the romances felt rushed other times the pacing was just right. I really did think all the couples had good chemistry together. And there are some really sweet moments along the way.

My Audiobook Experience:

I enjoyed all the audiobooks. It was good way to listen to the stories I think.

Series Rating: 3.5/5

The Swedish Prince 3.5/5 | The Wild Heir 4/5 | A Nordic King 4/5 | The Royal Rogue 3/5

overall

If you love mixing modern royalty with your favourite romance tropes, this is probably the series you should be reading next!

Read if You Like: royalty, contemporary romances
Avoid if You: want a darker series
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