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Single Sundays: The Best Man by Winter Renshaw

Single Sundays: The Best Man by Winter Renshaw

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for The Best Man (from Goodreads):
I didn’t know her name, but I heard her laugh, tasted her lips, felt her warm skin as I held her in my arms. Together we watched our young children playing in the sand, the warm ocean lapping the shore behind them as the setting sun painted the sky. She was my soulmate and this was our life, our beautiful forever …

Then I woke up—alone in a hospital room, connected to wires and machines.

There was no wife. No kids. Not a single soul waiting for me. That life I dreamt of … never existed.

I’d been in a devastating wreck, a nurse told me when she rushed in. Comatose for weeks. I’d have a long road to recovery, but I was going to make it.

From that moment on, the dream haunted me. I saw that woman’s face every time I closed my eyes, searched for her in every crowd, ached to be with a stranger I felt I’d known my entire life … and I swore that if I ever found her, I’d do anything to make her mine.

Anything.

Then I found her.

And it was both the best and worst day of my life because the woman of my dreams … was about to marry my best friend.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks:  Must Read Author
Author: Winter Renshaw
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: March 25, 2020
Source & Format: Author–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I just know when I pick up a Winter Renshaw book I’m in for a good time. And this particular title was intriguing. I’m not one who goes out of her way to read about love triangles but something told me not everything was as it appeared here so I was eager to see what was in store.

The Plot:

The weaving of the story here is impressive. I really enjoyed the idea that fate can bring people together in ways they never expect. Connecting all the dots along the way was addicting and I easily found myself lost in the narrative. Life isn’t always easy and sometimes you have to listen to your gut and make those difficult decisions.

I did crave a little more from it though, like it could have used one really good twist to take things to that next level.

The Characters:

I liked that both of our leads had their flaws. I was worried going into this that our heroine would be this perfect human being our hero idolized but that isn’t the case. They’ve each got their individual stories and struggles.

The Romance:

In a way, yes it is a love triangle. However, I wouldn’t go out of my way to label this as a flat out romance either. Yes, there is love at the core of this story but I think you have to realize the bigger picture that sometimes to find your forever you have to make sacrifices and changes along the way.

And you’ll read that and say: isn’t that the point of 95% of romance stories? Yes, you’d be right. But this didn’t feel like a romance to me. It felt more like the journey of self-discover people take when they are at a crossroads in their life.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

I think you have to see the bigger picture that sometimes life isn’t fair and that people have to make hard decisions. It isn’t a passion filled romance and I definitely think some people will be frustrated with the characters.

Read if You Like: non-traditional love stories, love triangle-esque stories
Avoid if You: want passionate romances

similarreads

  • Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin (Darcy & Rachel Series #1)
  • Hot Mess by Emily Goodwin (Love is Messy Series #1)

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Serial Saturdays: Royal Heartbreaker by Renna Peak & Ember Casey

Serial Saturdays: Royal Heartbreaker by Renna Peak & Ember Casey

Serial Saturdays: On the occasional Saturday, I review a serialized series (a series that is released in parts that would normally make up a whole novel) to see if the series is worth keeping up with or worth buying all its parts. Here is this week’s offering:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Leopold: Part 1 (from Goodreads):

Prince Charming? More like a ROYAL mistake!

When I accidentally wished for my own Prince Charming, I never expected him to actually show up. Not here in South America–not at the crappy charity clinic where I work.

But life never is as simple as making a wish—and while Prince Leopold is definitely charming, he’s also cocky. And arrogant. And a huge playboy. He’s everything I’ve promised myself I’d stay away from.

So why can’t I seem to resist him?

There’s no way Prince Leo is actually interested in a normal girl like me. No way he’ll ever be able to overcome his womanizing ways to be the prince of my dreams. And the more time I spend with him, it’s clear he has almost as many secrets as me.

I’m only sure of one thing—if I give him what he wants, he’s going to break my heart.

breakdown

Series: Royal Heartbreaker

There are two other spin-off series: Royal Mistake & Royal Arrangement

Author: Renna Peak Ember Casey
# of Parts: 6

There are some novellas as well.

Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: July 2016 – October 2016
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading Leopold: Part Two at 40% (start of Chapter 6). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I love everything to do with Royal Families–in real life and in fiction. This series always crosses my radar when Kobo has a boxset sale on and it always peaks my interest. I ended up buying it for my Kindle though because it was only $1 so why not?

What I Liked:

–That Each Character Has Their Own Secrets–

What can I say, I like when both of my leads have flaws and both have secrets. It keeps things interesting. It gets tiring when one lead is “perfect” and it trying to save the other. So I was intrigued that both leads had their own stuff to figure out and unpack.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Lack of Chemistry–

When it’s a novella, you really have to sell me on the romance. I’m talking palpable passion and heat. I never really got the attraction between these two, not even the physical really. I get that it was a bit of a hate-to-like-you in Part One but I never felt the underlying tension between them.

–Lack of Plot Direction–

While I didn’t love Part One, I was optimistic given all the little breadcrumbs we got. Elle and Leo are starting to give in a little more; we both know they are hiding things; and like all good serials, it ends on a cliffhanger of sorts. But Part Two took WAYYYY too long to build on that momentum. I was 6 chapters in and nothing significant had really happened. I didn’t have anything motivating me to keep reading.

Will I Finish It?

No, I want my serials to be fast and enticing and this just wasn’t it.

My Rating: DNF

overall

I think if you like serial novellas that take their time and you like the idea of spinoffs with other characters, you might want to take your time investing in this.

Read if You Like: novella serials, royals
Avoid if You: want faster pace, lots of drama
similarreads

  • The Marriage Pact by Winter Renshaw
  • Cross the Stars by Venessa Kimball (Crossing the Stars #1)

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Series Review: Dark by Winter Renshaw

Series Review: Dark by Winter Renshaw

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 Dark Paradise (from Goodreads):

There’s a name for girls like me: Sugar Baby. I’m used to being passed around the sexually depraved, middle-aged senators of Washington D.C. like candy, but when I meet him – the mysterious man who buys my exclusivity for three months for price that should frighten me more than his demands – everything changes.

He’s younger than the others. His touch is softer. His lips sweeter. His need fiercer. He has only one requirement…

A blindfold to protect his identity… and to protect me from the danger I’d face if our affair leaked to the world.

No phones. No light. No real names. He says I’m his dark paradise, and we have to keep it that way. He promises I’ll thank him someday.

But what is he really hiding? And what happens if I find out?

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: Dark , Montgomery Duet
Author: Winter Renshaw
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Dark
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: December 2015 – October 2017
Source & Format: Own–eBook (Paradise); Hidden Gem Reviews–eARC (Promises)

Note: Only Dark Promises (#2) was a review copy

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

So I did things a little backwards with this series. I actually got a review copy of Dark Promises (#2) first without realizing that it was a “sequel” to Dark Paradise. Thankfully, you can read either book in any order since they focus on different leads; but it definitely got me excited to read the first book, even though I had an idea of what vaguely happens.

The Concept / The World:

If you are looking for a political thriller, look elsewhere. While these stories take place in Washington DC with a family in politics, there is very little politics in these stories. The idea of public image is probably the only thing that is “political” in it and what people are willing to do to maintain it.

The Plot:

Like I said in my review of Dark Promises:

This story easily could have been over dramatic but it straddles that perfect line between drama and theatrics. You get enough conflict to provide depth but not so much that it ruins the story.

And that’s true for both novels. There are subplots happening behind the romance and it adds this depth that just makes these books exciting to read.

The Characters:

All these characters are unapologetically themselves and I love that. They aren’t flawless but they know their strengths and how to flaunt them. And in some ways, their stories are redemption stories where they grow and become better people.

The Romance:

Plenty of steam but also solid connections. I really loved all the pairings and watching them navigate their romances despite all the obstacles.

Series Rating: 4/5

Dark Paradise 4/5 | Dark Promises 4/5

overall

If you like unconventional romances (as in they boarder on the darker side of things but nothing too extreme), this is a great series to get your feet wet with!

Read if You Like: redemption stories
Avoid if You: want a true political thriller

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Series Review: Masters of Love by Leisa Rayven

Series Review: Masters of Love by Leisa Rayven

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Mister Romance (from Goodreads):

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

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

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

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

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

breakdown

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

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

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

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

The Plot:

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

The Characters:

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

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

The Romance:

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

My Audiobook Experience:

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

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

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

Series Rating: 4/5

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

overall

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

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

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Single Sundays: For Lila, Forever by Winter Renshaw

Single Sundays: For Lila, Forever by Winter Renshaw

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for For Lila, Forever (from Goodreads):

The words “For Lila, forever” adorned the front of the envelope in blue ink, the handwriting all too familiar. But it didn’t matter what it said. I didn’t have the heart to open it.

We couldn’t be together.

Not after everything …

Leaving Rose Crossing, Maine was one of the most painful moments of my life—or at least it was until the day I came face-to-face with Thayer Ainsworth again.

After a decade of searching, he’s found me, and he wants to know why I quit my housemaid job and left his family’s island estate without so much as a goodbye. But I’m bound by a devastating secret much bigger than the two of us, and telling him the truth has consequences.

Looking into the eyes of the only man I’ve ever loved, I tell him the only thing I’m allowed to: never contact me again. And when he’s gone, I sit down and finally open his letter.

Only it isn’t a letter at all.

And it changes everything.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Author: Winter Renshaw
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: April 25, 2019
Source & Format: Hidden Gem Reviews–eARCs

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

At this point, I’ll read anything by Winter Renshaw but this one was especially intriguing. I love second chance romances that are plagued by family secrets and this one sounded like that exactly.

The Plot:

I had a pretty good idea of how this story would go given the synopsis, but like most of Winter Renshaw’s work, she managed to surprise me. This is a solid second chance story yet at the same time, it isn’t in some ways. I loved that we start in the past and get to see their relationship first hand. And then comes the results of the fallout as you slowly link the past with the present. I think it’s this linking of that past and present that makes this book feel different than your everyday second chance romance. These characters really have to work for it.

Which makes for an exciting story. I was thoroughly addicted to it and had a hard time putting it down. There’s just this incredible flow to it that sucks you in as a reader.

The Characters:

I really liked both of our leads. They have enough to them to carry the story and keep me satisfied with their development.

The Romance:

While I really liked these two together (they’re so sweet!), I had a hard time getting over the shortness of their romance and their very deep feelings that arise in that time frame. We do get to see them interact a lot which helped to solidify their connection when they first meet. But some thing was just missing for me; perhaps it felt a little rushed? I get that it is a summer romance but these two fall very fast and I just needed a little more from them.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

Regardless, this is the PERFECT read if you want something bingeworthy to read (especially in one sitting!)!

Read if You Like: second chance romances, summer love
Avoid if You: contemporary romances
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Serial Saturdays: ‘Til Death by Bella Jewel

Serial Saturdays: ‘Til Death by Bella Jewel

Serial Saturdays: On the occasional Saturday, I review a serialized series (a series that is released in parts that would normally make up a whole novel) to see if the series is worth keeping up with or worth buying all its parts. Here is this week’s offering:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for ‘Til Death: Volume 1 (from Goodreads):

They say there’s a fine line between love and hate.

There is.

I married a douchebag.

I didn’t know it at the time.

He came in like a handsome stranger and blew me off my feet.

I fell madly in love, like the naive girl I am.

Then he left me high and dry.

Turns out, I was nothing more than a business plan for billionaire playboy, Marcus Tandem.

He needed to be married in order to obtain his grandfathers business, and I was the poor victim in his path.

I believed in what we had, until the truth reared its ugly head.

I never meant anything to Marcus. Not a damned thing.

With my world spinning on its axis, the girl I once was has long since died.

Instead he left me as this empty, emotionless shell.

I may have made a vow before God to love and cherish him ‘Til Death do we part, but it’s time for me to give back to Marcus, exactly what he gave me.

He has to pay.

And pay he will.

breakdown

Series: ‘Til Death

This crosses over with The MC Riders Series

Author: Bella Jewel
# of Parts: 2
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Dark, Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: Smokin’
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: November 2014 – January 2015
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve had this series for a long time on my Kobo but I have no idea how it crossed my radar. But when I needed a quick read to get me back into the groove of reading, this one seemed like the perfect choice. Lots of drama, one of my favourite romance tropes and a smaller page count, I was ready!

The Plot:

Volume One was so addicting for me because it alternated between the past and the present. I love plots told like that because it brings out the need to fill in the holes. Overall, I think we had a touch too many steamy scenes and not enough development but I still enjoyed my reading experience.

But that wasn’t the case in Volume Two. While direction of the plot was surprising, it felt overly predictable and rushed. It was a bummer way to wrap up the series.

The Characters:

One of the greatest struggles with novella serials is developing the characters because of the limited page count. But I felt like I knew enough about each character to drive the story.

And it’s a special treat for fans of Bella Jewel’s MC novels as many of those characters make an appearance.

The Romance:

It’s dark and a little twisted but it’s very underdeveloped. Besides a physical attraction, I craved more of a connection between these two.

Series Rating: 2.5/5

overall

I think if you don’t read too much into it and take this series as a quick, passionate, dramatic read, you’ll enjoy this series.

Read if You Like: dark romances, melodrama
Avoid if You: want more development

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Series Review: Ballers and Babes by Lauren Blakely

Series Review: Ballers and Babes by Lauren Blakely

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 Most Valuable Playboy (from Goodreads):

Hands down, my favorite thing in the world is to score. Touchdowns.

Don’t let the fact that I’m the leading pick in the Most Valuable Playboy charity auction fool you. These days, I’m only a player on the field. I’ve kept my pants zipped all season long — and it has been long — because nothing’s more important than leading my team to victory every week. Except maybe escaping from the team owner’s recently-widowed and handsy-as-hell sister who’s dead set on winning more than a date with me.

Enter Violet and a well-placed Hail Mary.

She’s my best friend’s sister with a smile as sweet as cherry pie and a mind that runs quicker than the 40-yard-dash. After Violet saves the day with the highest bid, I don’t even give her a two-minute warning before I kiss her in front of the whole crowd and then announce that she’s my girlfriend. Which would be fine except my agent tells me we’ve got to keep up the act while he’s negotiating my contract.

What happens next when faking it starts to feel all too real?

breakdown

Series: Ballers and Babes
Author: Lauren Blakely
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)

There is a prequel novella: #0.5 Most Irresistible Guy

Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Sports, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Single (#0.5-#1); Alternating (#2)
Publication Dates: September 2017 – January 2018
Source & Format: Own–eBook (Kobo)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve really enjoyed Lauren Blakely‘s other adult contemporary series. They’re on the lighter side of things but they never fail to entertain me. And I love sports romances (they usually employ my fave tropes like fake relationships, etc) so I was super excited to start this series—hence the reason it was on my 2019 5 Year 5 Book Challenge as a 2017 TBR item.

When to Read the Novella, #0.5 Most Irresistible Guy:

I read this before I read the first book in the series and that is the way to do it. Because we don’t get Violet’s POV in the full novel, this is where you get her insight instead. And chronologically, where the novella ends is where the novel picks up. Of course, you could read it after but I think reading it first will set the stage.

Why Most Valuable Playboy (#1) Was a Disappointment:

I LOVED the novella! It got me super excited for Violet and Cooper’s story because you could feel the underlying tension between them. It finished on such a high note for me.

But I almost DNF’d MVP within the first two chapters because Cooper’s POV was definitely not what I perceived it to be after reading the novella. He came across as this immature tool and not the sweet guy Violet had painted a picture of in her POV. And it definitely didn’t help that we only got his POV in the novel. His head wasn’t an enjoyable place for me to read from and irked me to no end.

As I got further into the novel, things improved or maybe I just got used to his POV. But the plot didn’t impress me and I really thought the romance scenes were severely lacking. Not what you want in a romance novel for those who like a little more substance.

Why Most Likely to Score was also a Disappointment:

When I was drafting this review, I was so confident that I would love Book #2 that I actually had titled this section “Why Most Likely to Score was a Homerun”…only it wasn’t.

I love slow burn romances but this was just a little too slow for me. These two have great chemistry, yet I felt like most of it had been established before the book. It just made things seem anti-climatic and especially rushed near the end. I also thought the “drama” keeping them apart was a bit of a stretch in one (Jones’) respect.

Series Rating: 2/5

Most Valuable Playboy 2/5 | Most Likely to Score 2/5

overall

There are a lot of aspects to like about this series but the execution left me wanting more. But if you want quick reads that aren’t overly complicated, this is a short series to dive into.

Read if You Like: light romance, sport romances, male only POV
Avoid if You: want more romance scenes

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Series Review: New Camelot by Sierra Simone

Series Review: New Camelot by Sierra Simone

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 American Queen (from Goodreads):

Warned as a girl to keep her kisses to herself, Greer Galloway disobeys twice–once on her sixteenth birthday as she’s kneeling in a pool of broken glass, and another time after a charming stranger named Embry Moore whisks her into the dazzling Chicago night. Both times she falls in love, and both times her heart is broken beyond repair. And so as an adult, she vows never to kiss–or to love again.

That’s until the Vice President of the United States shows up at the university where she teaches, and asks for one thing: for her to meet with the hero-turned-President Maxen Colchester. Maxen, the soldier who was her first kiss in that pool of broken glass.

And the other complication? The Vice President is none other than charming Embry Moore himself.

Soon, Greer finds herself caught between past and present, pleasure and pain–and two men who long for each other as much as they long for her. And as war and betrayal press ever closer, they tumble headlong into a passionate love affair that will change the world…

From the USA Today bestselling author of Priest comes a contemporary reimagining of the legend of King Arthur, Guinevere, and Lancelot–elegant, carnal, and unforgettable.

breakdown

Series: New Camelot Trilogy
Author: Sierra Simone
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order)

There are 2 novellas.

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Erotica
Heat Rating: Smokin’ (BDSM: high | Kink: major)
Point of View: First Person, Single (#1); Multiple (#2-3)
Publication Dates: October 2016 – October 2017
Source & Format: Own–eBook (#1); Public Library–Audiobook (#1-3)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a sucker for anything with an Arthurian Legend twist (I even took the literature class in university) and when I saw that Sierra Simone–who co-wrote one of my favourite contemporary romances, Porn Star— was the author, I was very curious to see what modern spin she would put on arguably the most famous love triangle in history.

The Concept:

If you don’t enjoy non-vanilla romances, I’d avoid this one. It’s full of BDSM moments and kinky sex scenes. And while there is substance to the romance (as in it’s not just sex scene after sex scene though I’d say 70% of the books are dedicated to the deed), the sex scenes are quite detailed when they do appear and I just think it would make you uncomfortable.

But I mean, how great of an idea is it to make the classic love triangle a menage? It’s one of those true love triangle situations I rarely encounter in a novel/series and I was definitely on board for seeing how it would all work out.

As for the Arthurian Legend aspect, it’s one of those little hidden eggs you find along the way. And I don’t think most of it becomes apparent until you complete the trilogy and see the bigger picture. But I appreciated the modern spin (President instead of King, etc) though I wasn’t a fan of the creative license employed by the end.

The Plot:

I kept waiting for something to happen in American Queen; it just took a little too long to build for me. While I liked the flashbacks, I almost wonder if it would have been better to have all the past events thrown out at once and then jump to the present. (Perhaps have each book dedicated to a different time instead of a different character).

American Prince definitely amps up the suspense when it comes to the dramatic plot. And at times, I wished that would remain the focus. While I loved having a new perspective (Embry’s) I did get a little tired of all the passionate sex. I just found the scenes to be distracting and I’d often forget what important drama/twist/secret had just happened. It became especially hard since I was listening to the audiobook and we do jump a lot between the past and present. The situation was the same in the finale (American King) as well and I found myself getting pulled away from the plot.

The Characters:

I usually don’t enjoy the “Guinevere” character (only exception has ever been from the TV Series Merlin) and Greer was just ok for me. She’s a little wish-washy and part of that translates to her romances with the boys She’s just so non-confident in her everyday life but as soon as you dim the lights, she’s a confident submissive and they just didn’t seem to go hand and hand for me. Yes, all the power to her for owning her sexuality but I struggled to reconcile the two versions we see of her.

Embry and Ash served their roles well. It was nice for them to each get their own books to heighten their development. Otherwise, I would have wondered what the big deal was.

The Romance:

I was disappointed in this because everything seemed to instalove to me (with the exception of Ash and Embry’s relationship). But Greer’s love for the boys just seemed like some fixated school girl fantasy that she has lived in for so long that it comes across as superficial when she actually begins a relationship with the boys. I didn’t see this all-consuming, soul-deep connection they seemed to go on about.

I really adored Ash and Embry together though. I could see the passionate draw they had between them and that only strengthens as the series progresses. I could have just read a book about those two honestly and have been satisfied.

My Audiobook Experience:

Emotions are always more apparent to me when I listen to audiobooks and I think that helped bring these characters to life for me in a way that could understand their dilemmas and struggles.

That being said, I wish we had a second male narrator for Ash in book 3. It was weird to have the same voice for both Embry and Ash and when you stop suddenly in a chapter, it was hard to recognize who the POV was.

When to Read the Novellas:

I have yet to read them but both seem to be recommended for reading after you have finished the entire trilogy.

Series Rating: 3/5

American Queen 3/5 | American Prince 3/5 | American King 3/5

overall

If you are searching for a romance novel that works around a “true” love triangle and don’t mind the steamy scenes, pick this series up. But I think those who don’t enjoy erotica should stay far away, even if the Arthurian draw is there.

Read if You Like: erotica, menage romance, contemporary retellings
Avoid if You: dislike erotica, dislike BDSM

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Single Sundays: Dirty Headlines by L J Shen

Single Sundays: Dirty Headlines by L J Shen

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Dirty Headlines (from Goodreads):

Célian Laurent.
Manhattan royalty.
Notorious playboy.
Heir to a media empire.
…And my new boss.

I could have impressed him, if not for last month’s unforgettable one-night stand.
I left it with more than orgasms and a pleasant memory–namely, his wallet.
Now he’s staring me down like I’m the dirt under his Italian loafers, and I’m supposed to take it.
But the thing about being Judith “Jude” Humphry is I have nothing to lose.
Brooklyn girl.
Infamously quirky.
Heir to a stack of medical bills and a tattered couch.
When he looks at me from across the room, I see the glint in his eyes, and that makes us rivals.
He knows it.
So do I.
Every day in the newsroom is a battle.
Every night in his bed, war.
But it’s my heart at stake, and I fear I’ll be raising the white flag.

breakdown

Author: L J Shen
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Office Romance
Heat Rating: Steamy (Kink: mild)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: September 4, 2018
Source & Format: Hidden Gem Books–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I have a few books marked on my TBR by L J Shen but when the opportunity to review this one came up, I figured it was the best one to start with. Why? It checked off a lot of my favourite romance tropes in the synopsis alone. Workplace romance after an awkward first encounter. Hate to Love You/Enemies to Lovers. Playboy lead. So I was ready to dive in.

The Plot:

To be fair to this book, I probably started reading it at a bad time in my life. I had a lot of things going on when I started this so I wasn’t able to read it as much as I wanted. But I also think the fact that it took me nearly 2 months to read (when I usually finish a book in 3 days) shows how not into this book I was. (Usually, when I’m in stressful times I read a book in one go but not the case here).

As for the plot, there’s a lot going on but it wasn’t the drama that killed it for me. If anything, it’s what propelled me to keep going when I wanted to DNF it numerous times. It’s angsty and almost soap opera-esque because it is a little over the top but that’s exactly what I want from a story set in a News Room.

The Characters:

Despite all of Celian’s playboy, asshole-ish characteristics, he failed to charm me. I think because I didn’t find his falling for Jude to be realistic (more on the romance below). Sure, he can talk dirty (perhaps one of the best dirty-talkers I’ve ever encountered in a book), but I just didn’t get won over by his antics.

And Jude…well she was a huge disappointment as well. Talk about wish-washy in terms of her convictions. The poor girl is all over the place. One minute claiming she’s unlovable but in the next sentence uttering that she wants a relationship with the guy. Why? She’s also extremely quirky and that doesn’t usually work for me. I guess it was a sign when she kept talking about her Chucks (the shoe I loath most in this world) that we just weren’t going to be friends.

The Romance:

This is by far the biggest factor in my lower rating: I just did NOT see the chemistry between these two. Yes, they seem to have fantastic sex together but besides lust and a good romp, what was keeping them together? I really don’t know. Their quirky tendencies? I think this goes hand in hand with their character profiles and how I failed to get a solid read on who they were as people. Because if I don’t understand them as individuals, how can I appreciate them as a pair together?

My Rating: 2/5

overall

Lots of other people seem to love this book but besides the drama, there wasn’t a whole lot I enjoyed.

Read if You Like: quirky characters, office romances, enemies to lovers
Avoid if You: dislike soap opera drama

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Series Review: The McLaughlins by Shelli Stevens

Series Review: The McLaughlins by Shelli Stevens

DNF December Review Blitz — Day 5: I’m sharing my thoughts on some book series that I have marked as incomplete as I have never finished the first novel in the series. Find out why these weren’t for me:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for One More Round (Previously Good Girl Gone Plaid) (from Goodreads):

When Sarah Rawlings fell for her best friend’s older brother in high school, she knew he was trouble. But she couldn’t resist his pull and the sweetness she sensed underneath his protective bad boy persona. Their relationship was everything she had ever dreamed of, until she was rocked by his painful betrayal. Eleven years later, Sarah must return to Whidbey Island following her beloved grandmother’s death. She knows she must stay away from Ian, but he’s not making that easy and every time she sees him, she’s reminded of what might have been.

One look at Sarah stirs up memories regrets that still linger in Ian McLaughlin’s heart. She was the love of his life and he still can’t understand how he blew it and how she could have also hurt him so badly in return. He plans to steer clear of Sarah while she’s on Whidbey Island, but that’s impossible when she’s often at his family’s pub. Thinking to indulge in a little casual seduction for fun, neither is prepared when the embers burst into flames.

So many years and secrets separate them. Can their powerful attraction also include understanding and forgiveness?

breakdown

Series: The McLaughlins
Author: Shelli Stevens
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes – though currently being republished under new names
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: June 2013 – September 2014
Source & Format: LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers–eARC | Thank you Tule Publishing!

thoughts

Disclaimer: I only read One More Round (Book #1) and have opted not to pick up the sequels. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I always enjoy a good second chance romance. I love the secrets and the drama often associated with them. It was the secrets in One More Round that intrigued me. Add the mix the fact that Ian is the brother of Sarah’s BFF? I’m sold. I couldn’t wait to meet these Scottish McLaughlins and learn their secrets!

What I Liked about One More Round:

–Polished Version–

This is a newly edited and reformatted version of the original story Good Girl Gone Plaid–so take that into account when reading other reviews because they might be reviewing an early version. I didn’t find any of those grammatical errors other reviewers mention.

–The Setting–

Ever since I read the Cottonbloom Series, I’ve grown to love the small town setting. I really enjoy the isolation of the world because you get a handful of characters to read about throughout the entire series. I love the weaving of everyone’s lives and secrets. While it wasn’t as strong as I liked here, it did serve as an interesting backdrop to the story.

What I Didn’t Like about One More Round:

–I Figured Out the “Big Twist” by the End of Chapter One–

I won’t lie, I did doubt myself for a second or two in the middle but it was only for a page or two.

But I went with the flow anyways because they do have a complicated past. Yet every time a new “twist” was hinted at, I correctly guessed the outcome every single time. It just took away some of the tension and anticipation of the read. I found myself getting bored.

–Ian’s Ego–

I’m all for a confident playboy hero but Ian’s confidence could take up an entire planet. It drove me NUTS how Ian would just go ahead and kiss her when she wasn’t expecting it or clearly giving him “no” vibes. (That’s their first encounter and it just set such a sour tone for me). I really struggled to see why he would give up his charmed playboys ways for Sarah.

–The Romance–

We don’t get to see a lot of their conversations because most of the time they’re so focused on the physical aspect of their relationship. I couldn’t tell you why they thought they were soul mates besides great sexual chemistry.

–Rushed Ending–

Which is why I wish the ending was expanded upon a bit or introduced earlier. I definitely would have liked that drama to be teased out more and in the first half of the novel to give some depth.

Will I Finish the Series?

I did enjoy the other McLaughlin siblings; I think Ian is the odd man out in terms of personalities. But I wasn’t a fan of the heroine for the second novel after we learn more about her so this is where I end my time with this series.

Series Rating: DNF

One More Round 2/5 | Straight, No Chaser N/A

overall

Unfortunately, this was just too predictable for me to full enjoy and there were some aspects of the plot (and characters’ pasts) that I wasn’t I fan of.

Read if You Like: quick romance reads, family leads, Scottish heroes
Avoid if You: want surprises

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Have you read this? Should I return to this series? Leave a comment!

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